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Son of Rachel, Jacob’s second wife (Gen. 30: 22-24; Gen. 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 N.T. 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: 1-22; Gen. 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 2 Ne. 3: 4-22; 2 Ne. 4: 2; Alma 10: 3; Alma 46: 23-27; JST Gen. 50). 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.