(1) Son of Rachel, Jacob’s second wife (Gen. 30:22–24; 37:3). An extensive account of his life is given in Gen. 37–50. The story is especially instructive in showing the discipline of misfortune and also that the Lord rewards his obedient children according to their faithfulness. The story of Joseph is also an illustration of the way in which God works in history, preserving his people. Joseph’s valor in resisting the allurements of Potiphar’s wife is an unequaled example of faith, chastity, and personal purity. His protection was his faith, as illustrated by his words: “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God” (Gen. 39:9). In the New Testament, Joseph is mentioned only once (Heb. 11:21–22), as an example of faith.
Joseph obtained the birthright in Israel because he was worthy and because it was his natural right. When Reuben, the actual firstborn, lost the privilege by transgression (1 Chr. 5:1–2), Joseph, as the firstborn son of Jacob’s second wife, was next in line for the blessing. Joseph was a visionary man, a dreamer and interpreter of dreams, “a man in whom the Spirit of God is” (Gen. 41:38).
Special blessings and prophecies on the head of Joseph and his posterity are found in Gen. 48; 49:1, 22–26; and Deut. 33:13–17. When Joseph died in Egypt at age 110, he was embalmed; but, in keeping with his own previous request, he was kept from burial until Moses and the children of Israel took his bones to Canaan to be buried near his father and other ancestors (Gen. 50:22–26; Ex. 13:19; Josh. 24:32).
Latter-day revelation confirms many of the biblical details about Joseph and adds other important facts (see JST Gen. 50:24–38 [Appendix]; 2 Ne. 3:4–22; 4:2; Alma 10:3; 46:23–27). It is through latter-day revelation that the larger mission of the family of Joseph in the last days is illustrated.
The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, Joseph’s children, were among the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and thus among the “lost tribes.” Also, one portion of Joseph’s descendants came to America about 600 B.C. and established two great peoples. The record of their doings is called the Book of Mormon. It has also been primarily Joseph’s descendants whom the Lord has called upon first in these last days to carry the gospel to the nations of the earth, in compliance with the covenant God made with Abraham. See also Abraham, covenant of; Ephraim; Patriarch.
(2) Son of Heli and husband of the virgin Mary. His descent could be traced from David by a double line (Matt. 1:1–16; Luke 3:23–38). He lived at Nazareth and espoused Mary, possibly the daughter of his uncle Jacob. It was shortly before the marriage that Mary received the visit from the angel Gabriel. The birth of the child, Jesus, was miraculous, His mother being His only earthly parent; but Joseph was naturally regarded in Nazareth as His father, and the holy child treated him as such (Luke 2:48, 51). It is probable that Joseph died before the Crucifixion (and probably before our Lord’s baptism), as otherwise Mary would hardly have been committed by our Lord to the keeping of John (John 19:26–27).
(3) Of Arimathea (of Ramah, 1 Sam. 1:1); a “counsellor,” a member of the Sanhedrin, a rich and faithful Israelite who took no part in the condemnation of our Lord, and after the Crucifixion buried His body (Matt. 27:57, 59; Mark 15:43–45; Luke 23:50; John 19:38).
(4) “Called Barsabbas,” one of the two men chosen as fit to take the place of Judas in the apostolic company, and therefore a disciple of Jesus from His baptism till the Ascension (Acts 1:21–26).