Meaning Behind the Name: Yosef

Brothers Sell Joseph into Slavery Konstantin Flavitsky, 1855

Brothers Sell Joseph into Slavery
Konstantin Flavitsky, 1855

Yosef is the Hebrew name of Joseph, meaning “he will add”. In the A’thería’s Wake trilogy, he’s a refugee boy who suffers from amnesia. What exactly Yosef adds to the A’thería’s Wake trilogy, I’m not exactly sure. Perhaps it’s my love of children or my desire to add a little innocence to the story. One thing’s for sure: the name became a basis for incorporating Biblical names into A’thería’s Wake.

Biblical Significance

Today, Joseph is a common name, but you may remember it from the Bible in particular. Joseph was the eleventh son of Jacob, one of the patriarchs in the book of Genesis. It’s one of my favourite stories in the Bible because Joseph was a dreamer. These weren’t dreams in terms of aspiration, although I’m sure he really wanted them to be true. These were prophetic dreams from God, and, in short, these dreams pictured Joseph’s brothers bowing down to him.

You can imagine that his brothers were pretty ticked off when they heard these dreams. If I were Joseph’s sister, I would be, too. The kid was favoured because he was the son of Jacob’s favourite wife, Rachel, while the other brothers were the son of Jacob’s other wife, Leah. If this story tells us anything other than what prophetic dreams can tell, it’s that polygamy creates conflict.

Anyway, Joseph’s brothers got so fed up with this dream teller that they wanted to kill him. But Reuben, one of the brothers, advised against it. Instead, they sold Joseph into slavery.

I can imagine Joseph wasn’t too pleased with his predicament, but I guess in order to become the person his dreams said he would be, he’d have to go through the fire. That fire began at the bottom of the pecking order as a slave to Potipher, one of Pharaoh’s officials, which, to be honest, is a pretty sweet deal. Joseph flourished until Potipher trusted him enough to oversee everything in his household. Joseph couldn’t have had it better.

But then that moment ended. Joseph was such an influential man (not to mention handsome) that he caught the eye of Potipher’s wife. He refused her advances twice and on the second occasion, she falsely accused him of doing her wrong. Joseph was thrown into prison.

He couldn’t have gotten any lower than the jail cell. But Joseph was a godly man. He found favour in the eyes of the jail keeper and was put in charge of the other prisoners.

Through interpretation of two dreams, Joseph eventually found himself brought before Pharaoh himself, who had been plagued by terrible dreams for several nights. When Joseph interpreted the dreams (he admitted that the interpretation came from God), he was put in charge of all Egypt.

The Pharaoh’s dreams came to pass. Seven years of plenty turned to seven years of famine. Because of Joseph’s careful planning, people from all around came to Egypt for grain. Among these desperate people were Joseph’s brothers. Joseph spoke to them directly and his brothers bowed before them. And Joseph saw that his dreams as a child had come to pass.

There’s so much more to the story that a mere summary can’t explain. I recommend you read it all beginning in Genesis chapter 37.

Significance to A’thírin

When I look at the story of Joseph, I see two things in particular: prophetic dreams and purity. So what does this look like in A’thería’s Wake?

For one, the main character in A’thería’s Wake, Ninthalas Shadai, has a recurring dream akin to Pharaoh’s in the Bible. It foresees troubled times ahead. Also, very few people believe him when he tells them the dream. That’s not to say that everyone is sceptical, but Ninthalas is the unlikeliest of people to have such a dream due to the superstition behind his family name and his own interests.

In terms of purity, Joseph in the Bible fled from the advances of Potipher’s wife. I find such abstinence of adultery admirable. How many men can resist the temptations of a promiscuous woman? Not many nowadays. Even Judah, one of Joseph’s half brothers, sleeps with a prostitute. How surprising it was when he found out it was actually his daughter-in-law.

I wanted Ninthalas to have that same sense of purity, to have the ability to flee from temptation when it came upon him. To me, a man shows his masculinity in part by being in control of himself and his actions. He is not prone to compromise that would seek to corrupt him. And that’s who Ninthalas is. Once his mind is set, there is no unsetting it.

As for the boy, Yosef, he has yet to undergo change. His struggle time and time again is how Yahlírin, the God of A’thírin, can be faithful when so much hardship happens. Does Yahlírin listen? What happens when he can’t hear His voice?

But I’m getting ahead of myself here because I won’t explore that until I get to the fourth book. For now, Yosef is a boy of utmost courage and a perfect companion for Ninthalas.

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