(redirected from Yuseif)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical.


, king of Portugal
Joseph, 1714–77, king of Portugal (1750–77), son and successor of John V. Little inclined to rule, his reign was dominated by his minister, the marquês de Pombal. After Lisbon was partially destroyed (1755) by an earthquake and a tsunami, Pombal gained emergency powers and quickly rose in importance. He was supported by Joseph, who allowed Pombal to rule the country in fact if not in title. Joseph was succeeded at his death by his daughter, Maria I, and Peter III.


, in the Bible
Joseph, one of the heroes of the patriarchal narratives of the Book of Genesis. He is presented as the favored son of Jacob and Rachel, sold as a boy into slavery by his brothers, who were jealous of Joseph's dreams and of his coat of many colors given him by Jacob. In Egypt, Joseph gained a position of authority in the household of his master, Potiphar, and was later imprisoned on the false accusations of Potiphar's wife. He was released after interpreting Pharaoh's dream of the lean and fat cows. Pharaoh renamed him Zaphnath-paaneah and took him into favor. Joseph's recognition of his brothers in the famine years when he was governor over Egypt is a famous scene. His wife was Asenath, an Egyptian, and their sons Manasseh and Ephraim were eponymous ancestors of two of the 12 tribes of Israel. The Joseph saga bridges the era of the patriarchs in Canaan and the Hebrews in Egypt. The mention of Joseph's marriage to Asenath in the Book of Genesis is the subject of Joseph and Asenath, now classified among the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. The Joseph story is retold in the Qur'an.


, Nez Percé chief
Joseph (Chief Joseph), c.1840–1904, chief of a group of Nez Percé. On his father's death in 1871, Joseph became leader of one of the groups that refused to leave the land ceded to the United States by the fraudulently obtained treaty of 1863. Faced with forcible removal (1877), Joseph and the other nontreaty chiefs prepared to leave peacefully for the reservation. Misinformed about the intentions of the Nez Percé, Gen. Oliver Otis Howard ordered an attack, which the Native Americans repulsed. Pursued by the U.S. army, the warriors, with many women and children, began a masterly retreat to Canada of more than 1,000 mi (1,609 km). The Nez Percé won several engagements, notably one at Big Hole, Mont., but 30 mi (48 km) short of the Canadian border they were trapped in a cul-de-sac by troops under Gen. Nelson A. Miles and forced to surrender. His eloquent surrender speech is one of the best-known Native American statements. The whites had assumed that Joseph, spokesman for the tribe in peacetime, was responsible for their outstanding strategy and tactics, which actually had been agreed upon in council by all the chiefs. He became, however, a symbol of the heroic, fighting retreat of the Nez Percés. He was taken to Fort Leavenworth, then spent the remainder of his life on the Colville Indian Reservation in the state of Washington and strove to improve the conditions of his people. In 1903 he made a ceremonial visit to Washington, D.C.


See biographies by O. O. Howard (1881, repr. 1972) and H. A. Howard (1941, repr. 1965); M. D. Beal, I Will Fight No More Forever (1985).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, had twelve sons. Joseph, the eleventh, was his father's favorite. His story, made popular anew by the resounding success of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's stage show, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, is told in a collection of stories found in Genesis, beginning in chapter 37. Joseph becomes the means by which the children of Abraham make the move from Canaan to Egypt.

Joseph was gifted with the ability to see the future in symbolic dreams. When Jacob gave his son a colorful coat as an expression of his love, the other sons became jealous. Joseph dreamed his brothers would someday bow down before him, and he made the mistake of telling them about it. In a fit of rage, they sought to kill him by throwing him into a dry well. At the last minute they changed their minds and sold him into slavery in Egypt, telling their father Joseph had died fighting a wild beast.

In Egypt Joseph became a respected attendant to a wealthy man named Potiphar. Potiphar's wife, however, had designs on more than Joseph's administrative talents, and she invited Joseph to her bed. Joseph refused, and in the ensuing struggle he escaped only by sliding out of his cloak and running from the room. To cover up her attempted seduction, she told her husband that Joseph had attacked her. Once again, Joseph found himself the victim of jealousy.

He was jailed and would have remained forgotten had he not interpreted the dreams of some of his cellmates. When one of them was restored to the company of Pharaoh's personal slaves, that man remembered Joseph when Pharaoh himself needed a dream interpreter. Joseph was summoned and prophesied a time of wealth followed by a period of famine. Pharaoh was so impressed he made Joseph second in command of all Egypt, in order to prepare for the hard times to come. When famine struck, Egypt was the only country ready for it.

Meanwhile, Joseph's family, back in Canaan, was in dire straits when their crops failed. They realized the only way they could get food was to travel to Egypt to beg for it. Not knowing their brother was the new Egyptian governor, they were tested by him and finally forgiven for their sins. After a few twists and turns of the story, the family is finally reunited in Egypt to live in luxury under the auspices of their powerful brother.

Four hundred years later, as the book of Exodus begins, their descendants are still there. But in the interim a "new king arose, who knew not Joseph." One of Jacob's greatest descendants, Moses, is also living in Egyptian luxury, unaware of his ancestry. This period of change happens between Genesis and Exodus. To close the pages of one book and open the next is to jump over four centuries of upheaval that sets the stage for the Passover (see Moses; Passover).

The Religion Book: Places, Prophets, Saints, and Seers © 2004 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


Jesus' earthly father was a man named Joseph. The Bible implies that he made his living as a carpenter (Matthew 13:55). In the Gospel accounts of Christmas Joseph emerges as a righteous man of faith who dutifully observes the rituals of his religion.

Joseph plays a relatively large role in the story of Jesus'birth recorded in the Gospel according to Matthew (chapters 1 and 2). When he finds out that his betrothed wife, Mary, is pregnant, he decides that he will follow Jewish law by breaking his engagement to her. Instead of doing so publicly, however, he looks for some way to call it off quietly. Many commentators have read his desire not to inflict unnecessary shame upon Mary as a sign of Joseph's righteousness. Then an angel visits Joseph, informing him that Mary is pregnant by God's Holy Spirit and asking that he take her as his wife. Joseph demonstrates his faith and trust in God by continuing his engagement to Mary and eventually marrying her. In Matthew's account the angel appears once more to Joseph after Jesus'birth. The angel warns him to leave Bethlehem immediately, as Herod is planning to kill all the town's male babies in an effort to rid himself of the "newborn King of the Jews" (see Holy Innocents' Day). Once again, Joseph places his trust in the angel's message and hurries his family away to Egypt.

Joseph plays a much smaller role in the story of Jesus' birth reported in the Gospel according to Luke. In this account, the angel appears to Mary with the message of Jesus' divine father. Yet in this version, too, Joseph trusts the divine message and continues his engagement with Mary. Luke says nothing of the Flight into Egypt. Instead, he mentions Jesus' circumcision and naming ceremony, which took place eight days after Jesus' birth, according to Jewish law (see Feast of the Circumcision). Once again, Joseph is portrayed as a pious man who carefully observes the teachings of his religion.

Joseph does not appear in the gospel accounts of Jesus' adult life. This has led many commentators to assume that Joseph died before Jesus became an adult. Many Christian artists have portrayed Joseph as an old man in accordance with this interpretation.

As the centuries rolled by, Christians became more and more interested in Joseph. Perhaps because the Bible has so little to say about him, an apocryphal, or legendary, literature sprang up, adding further detail to his life and personality. In Roman Catholicism, he became the patron saint of workers, fathers, and happy deaths, as well as the patron saint of Canada, Mexico, Russia, Peru, Korea, Belgium, Vietnam, Austria, and Bohemia.

Feast Days

Western Christians began to observe March 19 as St. Joseph's Day in the Middle Ages. Researchers have yet to unearth the reason for the selection of that particular date. Orthodox and other Eastern Christians honor St. Joseph on the first Sunday after Christmas. In 1955 Pope Pius XII declared May 1 to be St. Joseph the Worker's Day, in an effort to add religious overtones to workers'celebrations that took place in various communist countries on that date.

Christmas Customs

Joseph, along with his wife Mary and the baby Jesus, are the central characters in most Nativity scenes. Nativity plays, including the Hispanic folk play called Las Posadas, accord him an important role. He is also mentioned in a number of Christmas carols, such as "Joseph Dearest, Joseph Mine" and the "Cherry Tree Carol."

Further Reading

Coats, George W., and Paul J. Achtemeier. "Joseph." In Paul J. Achtemeier, ed. The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary. Revised edition. San Francisco, Calif.: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996. Cross, F. L., and E. A. Livingstone, eds. "St. Joseph." In their The Oxford Dic-tionary of the Christian Church. Second edition, revised. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1983. Filas, F. L. "Joseph, St." In New Catholic Encyclopedia. Volume 7. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967. ---. "Joseph St., Devotion to." In New Catholic Encyclopedia. Volume 7. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967. McBrien, Richard P. Lives of the Saints. New York: HarperCollins, 2001. Yang, Seung Ai. "Joseph." In David Noel Freedman, ed. Eerdmans Bible Dic-tionary. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000.
Encyclopedia of Christmas and New Year's Celebrations, 2nd ed. © Omnigraphics, Inc. 2003
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the name of two emperors in the Holy Roman Empire and the Austrian monarchy of the Hapsburgs.

Joseph I. Born July 26, 1678, in Vienna; died there Apr. 17, 1711. Emperor from 1705 to 1711. The oldest son of Emperor Leopold I.

Joseph I energetically continued the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–14). Within the empire, he renewed the attempt to strengthen the authority of the emperor. In the hereditary Hapsburg lands, he pursued a policy of mercantilism. Prince Eugene of Savoy enjoyed great influence under Joseph I.

Joseph II. Born Mar. 13, 1741, in Vienna; died there Feb. 20, 1790. Emperor from 1765 to 1790. Coruler with his mother Maria Theresa in the Hapsburg hereditary lands from 1765 to 1780; thereafter, he ruled alone.

A representative of so-called enlightened absolutism, Joseph II attempted to change the most antiquated feudal institutions of the Hapsburg monarchy through reforms “from above,” as dictated by the needs of bourgeois development. He followed a policy of protectionism and encouraged manufactures. He abolished the personal serfdom of the peasants (1781–85) and attempted to introduce a single land tax. However, this reform was not put into practice because of the fierce resistance of the nobility, which was also to be subject to the taxation. Joseph II limited the independence of the Catholic Church in the Austrian lands. He abolished many monasteries and partially secularized church property. He promoted the development of the secular school. In 1781 he issued a patent on religious toleration. Within the Hapsburg monarchy, Joseph II, acting with violent bureaucratic methods, attempted to introduce a single, strictly centralized system of administration. German was introduced as the official language throughout the monarchy in 1784–85. This policy provoked an explosion of resistance, especially in the Austrian Netherlands (culminating in the Brabant Revolution of 1789—90) and in Hungary.

In foreign policy (which, along with military affairs, he directed while still coruler), Joseph II was notable for his aggressiveness; in particular, at the Austrian court he was among the most active advocates of Austria’s participation in the first partition of Poland in 1772. He aimed at strengthening and consolidating Austria’s predominant position in the empire. When he met with opposition from an increasingly powerful Prussia, he sought rapprochement with Russia and formed an alliance with Russia in 1781.


Mitrofanov, P. Politicheskaia deiatel‘nost’ losifa II, ee storonniki i eevragi. St. Petersburg, 1907.



according to ancient Hebrew historical legends preserved in the Old Testament, the favorite son of Jacob, born of Rachel. After Joseph had been sold into slavery by his brothers and suffered many misfortunes, he began virtually to rule Egypt on behalf of the pharaoh. When his brothers, driven by hunger, came to Egypt in search of bread, Joseph proposed that they and Jacob’s whole clan resettle in that country. Soon they did settle there in the province of Goshen. At the time of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, they took Joseph’s remains with them, in accordance with his testament, and buried them in Canaan.

With a few modifications the story of Joseph entered the Koran. Motifs based on this plot became the theme of many literary works of the Middle Ages (Persian-Tadzhik narrative poems) and of the modern period (Thomas Mann, Nazym Khikmet). The story has also been presented in works of fine art, by artists of the Rembrandt school and others.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Joseph (Husband of Mary)


Among the six dreams reported in the New Testament are the dreams that communicated divine knowledge, instruction, and warning to Joseph, the husband of Mary, mother of Jesus. A certain connection can be seen between the original Joseph of Genesis, the dreamer and interpreter of dreams, and the Joseph of the New Testament, who was also the son of a man named Jacob, according to Matthew’s genealogy. Shortly after he was told by Mary that she was pregnant and that she had a visit from an angel, Joseph had a significant dream in which an angel of the Lord appeared to him and said,

Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. (Matt. 1:20–21)

According to Jewish law, betrothal was a binding arrangement, and the penalty for fornication during that period was death to each party. But because of this dream, Joseph tolerated the strange pregnancy that had aroused his jealousy and his anxieties. The angel in his dream was clearly Gabriel, who had already appeared to Mary in a waking state. Gabriel was also apparently the messenger who appeared in Joseph’s second dream, after the Magi had already been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod and to return to their country by another route:

When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” (Matt. 2:13)

In this dream Joseph was given a promise of continued care and guidance, and he was ready to obey the instructions imparted by God.

It is in connection with the death of Herod that the third dream was given to Joseph during the sojourn in Egypt:

After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.” (Matt. 2:20)

Joseph again was obedient to God’s commands, and left Egypt for the land of Israel.

Enlarge picture
In Jewish tradition, many dreams can be interpreted as relating to passages in the Torah.

Joseph (Son of Jacob)


The Old Testament reports that Joseph, the son of Jacob, had at least two significant dreams. Joseph was the eleventh son of Jacob and the firstborn of Rachel. The family lived in Canaan, where all of Jacob’s sons were shepherds tending their father’s flocks.

Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son and was given a coat of many colors by his father, which was a mark of honor to be worn only by the heir. Joseph’s brothers became very jealous and began to hate him. When, at the age of seventeen, Joseph told his brothers about a dream he had experienced, they hated him even more. This dream was prophetic and foreshadowed Joseph’s preeminence among his brothers: “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it” (Gen. 37:6–7).

Then a second dream is reported: “Listen, I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me” (Gen. 37:9). When Joseph told this dream to his father, Jacob rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” But, while Joseph’s brothers planned to kill him because of their envy, Jacob correctly interpreted the dream, which made a deep impression on him, and he took it as a divine indication of events that would affect his family.

Not only did Joseph have dreams of his own, he was also asked, like Daniel, to interpret dreams of other people, particularly the dreams of non-Hebrews. After Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, the Bible reports that the cupbearer and the chief baker of the king of Egypt, who were in prison for having offended their ruler, dreamed dreams the same night and asked Joseph to interpret them. He told the cupbearer that, according to his dream, he was going to be restored to his place within three days. He then interpreted the dream of the baker, which showed that within three days the pharaoh would take his office from him, have him hung on a tree, and he would be devoured by the birds.

The pharaoh himself had two dreams, which, according to Joseph’s interpretation, foretold seven years of hunger and famine in Egypt. When Joseph recommended a line of action that would save the nation from famine, the pharaoh was so impressed that he made him prime minister of Egypt. Joseph’s family eventually came to Egypt to buy grain during the famine. He was then able to establish his family in Egypt, and they honored him according to his dream.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


resisted the advances of Potiphar’s wife. [O.T.: Gen. 39]


storied carpenter and foster-father of Jesus. [N.T.: Matthew 1:18–25; Hall, 177]


predicted famine from Pharaoh’s dreams. [O.T.: Genesis 41:25–36]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. Old Testament
a. the eleventh son of Jacob and one of the 12 patriarchs of Israel (Genesis 30:2--24)
b. either or both of two tribes descended from his sons Ephraim and Manasseh
2. Saint New Testament the husband of Mary the mother of Jesus (Matthew 1:16--25). Feast day: Mar. 19
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005