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A `goodly person,' Joseph attained position of power

At the April 1978 general conference, Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke of Joseph, a son of Jacob. The account begins in the 37th chapter of Genesis.

Joseph was loved by his father, Jacob - who was renamed Israel - more than his other brothers. Israel gave Joseph "a coat of many colours." (A note in LDS edition of the King James Bible states: "The Septuagint word indicates many colours, but the Heb. term may indicate simply a long coat with sleeves."[See notation "c" for Gen. 37:3.]) Joseph's brothers "hated him." (v. 4.)Elder Perry said, "Joseph didn't help matters much. He dreamed dreams and then would tell them to his brethren, and they hated him even more."

One dream Joseph related was that his brothers' sheaves of grain bowed before his own sheaf, meaning that he would have dominion over them. Joseph's brothers "hated him yet the more for his dreams, and his words." (vv. 6-8.)

Elder Perry said: "To complicate the process, his father allowed Joseph to stay home with him and sent his brethren out into the fields to tend the flocks. Every now and then he would send Joseph out to check up on his brothers. One day . . . they felt as if they could stand him no longer. . . . They conceived a plan whereby they would kill him and cast him into a pit, then tell their father some evil beast had devoured Joseph."

However, one of the brothers, Reuben, suggested that they sell Joseph to some Ishmaelites traveling to Egypt. (vv. 25-27.)

"And they took their 17-year-old brother and sold him as a slave to a caravan going into Egypt, a strange land, where they spoke a strange tongue and had strange customs," Elder Perry said. "But the Lord was with this remarkable young man, and he seemed never to be discouraged. Though a stranger, a slave, his countenance must have radiated a special spirit. When offered for sale, he was purchased by a captain of the king's guard. It was only a short time before Joseph had so distinguished himself to the captain that he made him ruler over his house. In authority he was the first servant; and he was made overseer over all the captain had, and the captain put his complete trust, his properties, his income, into the hands of Joseph.

"Joseph was a `goodly person' and achieved a position of prominence through the help of the Lord. But trouble began again. This handsome young man attracted the eyes of the wife of the captain of the guard. One day when he was working alone in the house, she heard him and came in and put her hand on his coat. Joseph, being a righteous young man, knew that this was no place for him, and he jumped out of his garment and fled." After the captain's wife made accusations against him, Joseph was cast into prison.

"Joseph was not easily discouraged. He set about becoming the best prisoner within the prison, and he gained favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison . . . and all the prisoners were turned over to his charge. Again in a difficult circumstance, Joseph became the best - even as a prisoner."