🔼The name Joseph: Summary
- Increaser, May He Add
- From the verb יסף (yasap), to add, increase, or repeat.
🔼The name Joseph in the Bible
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). In Psalm 81:5, this Joseph's name is spelled יהוסף (Jehoseph).
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, 3:24, 3:30).
- One of Jesus' brothers (Matthew 13:55).
- A man of Arimathea who places the body of Jesus in his new tomb (Luke 23:50).
- The rejected nominee to replace Judas (Acts 1:23).
The name Joseph occurs 35 times in the New Testament — spelled Ιωσηφ, Ioseph; see full New Testament concordance — and nearly 200 times in the Hebrew Bible, but the alternate form יהוסף (Jehoseph) occurs only in Psalm 81:5. This alternate form clearly hints at יהו, the abbreviated form of יהוה, YHWH, the name of the Lord.
The name Joseph is also the source of the name Joses, which occurs an additional six times in the New Testament, as well as of the nowadays fiercely popular name Jose, which in the Bible may occur only once (Luke 3:28).
🔼Etymology of the name Joseph
The name Joseph comes from the verb יסף (yasap) meaning to add, increase, or repeat:
The verb יסף (yasap) means to add, increase or do again. It curiously has no [extant] derivatives.
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 Ezekiel 47:13).
For a meaning of the name Joseph, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads two meanings: (1) May He (Yahweh) Add (assuming that the "He" of our name is YHWH), and (2) Increaser. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads He Shall Add. And BDB Theological Dictionary has He Adds, Increases. Spiros Zodhiates (The Complete Word Study Dictionary — New Testament) translates the name Joseph with May God Add, but note that the "God" part is implied and not actually incorporated in the name Joseph.