by Brad Scott
There is quite a lot to be said of Joseph. A significant amount of the book of Bere’shiyt (Genesis) is written of him, his struggles with his brothers, his administration in Egypt, his life pattern of the coming Messiah and his bones taken from Egypt. It may then appear to be no coincidence that much of Joseph's life is added to the book of beginnings. The name Joseph first appears in Bere’shiyt 30. As is customary, his name is defined in the opening verse in which it appears.
Bere’shiyt 30:24And she called his name Joseph; and said, YHVH shall add to me another son.
The word Joseph comes from the Hebrew word yasaph (יספ). This word means to add or to increase. It is an agricultural term, as in the increase of a crop. Its first use is quite interesting. As you study the story of Cain and Abel you will find that there are many prophetic words used of these two boys buried in the text that help to later identify the two divergent seeds they display in their story. Not only was Abel a picture of the firstborn in God's eyes, not only was his sacrifice accepted, not only did he choose to obey the teachings of his father, but the first occurrence of the picture of Joseph or increase shows up in his birth.
Bere’shiyt 4:2And she again [added to] bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
The true seed of the firstborn resided in Abel. He will be the one who Seth replaces, rather than the physical, firstborn Cain (B'reshiyth 4:25). The seed of the woman will always separate the faithful from the unfaithful. This continues to be true in the prophecy of Israel over Joseph in B'reshiyth 49.
Bere’shiyt 49:22-26Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: the archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:) Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.
Shalom Alecheim! ◊