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Meaning and etymology of the name Joseph

Joseph Joseph

The name Joseph is one of the most popular names in the Bible. The most famous one is Jacob's twelfth child and eleventh son;Rachel's first and brother of Benjamin (Genesis 30:24).
Other Josephs are: The father of Igal, who is one of the spies that Moses sent out to the Promised Land (Numbers 13:7); A prophesying musician in the tabernacle service (1 Chronicles 25:2); One among the men who divorced their foreign wives in the purge of Ezra (Ezra 10:42); A returning priest (Nehemiah 12:14); Three semi-ancestors of Christ, including his semi-father (Luke 3:23, 24, 30), and one of His brothers (Mat 13:55); A man of Arimathea who puts the body of Jesus in his new tomb (Luke 23:50); The rejected nominee to replace Judas (Acts 1:23).

The name Joseph comes from the verb yasap (yasap) meaning to add, increase, do again. This verb is the common word to use when something is simply added, such as a son for Rachel (Genesis 30:24; hence the name Joseph), or a fifth to a certain value (Leviticus 27:13), or fifteen years to a life (Isaiah 38:5). But it's also quite commonly used to mean repeat, such as marrying again (Genesis 25:1), or doing something on top of something else, "also," such as hardening one's heart on top of sinning again (Exodus 9:34), or praise some and then praise some more (Psalm 71:14).

Sometimes this verb used to indicate a gradual increase, such as people to a nation (Exodus 1:10) but sometimes the text treats increase as a autonomous concept. This doesn't occur in English, so translating this curious phenomenon takes a trick or two. In Psalm 115:14 for instance, Israel is wished increase, "you and your children."

The name Joseph means Increaser, Repeater or Doubler, and even the fulfillment of his name is dual: Benjamin becomes Joseph's younger brother, and Joseph himself becomes father of two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh (see Ezk 47:13).

For a meaning of the name Jospeh, NOBS Study Bible Name List reads two meanings: (1) May He (YHWH) Add; (2) Increaser. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads He Shall Add.



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