What is the Meaning of the Name Joseph? (Genesis 30:24)

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Most of the names we read about in Scripture have a meaning attached to them.

Eventually, God will change Jacob’s name to Israel to reflect the Abrahamic promises given through him (Genesis 35:9-12).

In the New Testament, Jesus changes Simon’s name to Cephas (which is also Peter). 

In Genesis 30:24, Rachel hands her son the name of Joseph, saying, “May the Lord give me another son.”

It’s a nod to the competition that Rachel has with her sister that she even asks for this in the first place. After all Leah has four biological children at this point; by that mark, Rachel is far behind.

Unfortunately, this story would end, and the name of Joseph fulfilled in a tragic way. Not long after, in Genesis 35, Rachel dies giving birth to Benjamin. Indeed, she had her second son, but it sadly cost her life.

It’s hard not to imagine what the end of Genesis would have looked like if Rachel had survived. Genesis 49 mentions Leah’s death in passing (only mentions where she was buried), so it seems that by the time Jacob relocates to Egypt, he’s a widower.

Take a few moments to ask yourself what life would have been like if Rachel had survived. When Jacob learns about Joseph’s death, he completely breaks down. No shoulder to cry on, no wife to console him (that we know about).

When Jacob learns that Benjamin is left behind in Egypt, he’s equally inconsolable. In his mind, he has now lost the only two links he had to his beloved Rachel.

What would Rachel have thought about Joseph’s dreams about pre-eminence above his brothers? For a hyper-competitive woman like her, it might have only made her proud.

One more thing. According to Genesis 30:24, the name Joseph means “May the Lord give me another son.” This is a marked departure from her stance at the beginning of the chapter, where she demands a son from Jacob.

By the time she has Joseph, she’s recognized that only God can open her womb. He alone has the power to work miracles, and He alone is where she should have directed her words. Finally, she does.