How Many Brothers Did Joseph Have?

Joseph has eleven brothers in the Book of Genesis. Their names are Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, and Benjamin.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the Book of Genesis, Joseph has eleven brothers: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, and Benjamin. He also has one sister, Dinah. Joseph and all of his siblings share the same father, Israel (also called Jacob), but they come from different mothers. Israel has two wives and fathered children with a few servants as well. Joseph's mother was Rachel, the favorite of Israel's two wives (the other being Rachel's sister Leah).

Being the firstborn of his favorite wife, Israel prefers Joseph to all of his other sons, giving him special treatment and the famous "coat of many colors." Joseph also has the extraordinary ability to interpret prophetic dreams.

All of this arouses great jealousy in most of Joseph's brothers, inciting their plan to kill him. However, not all of Joseph's brothers are ill-intentioned: Reuben tells his homicidally-minded brothers to merely throw Joseph into a pit rather than kill him, so he can rescue the boy when the others are not looking. Unfortunately, his plan is foiled when Judah decides they should sell Joseph into slavery.

The other good brother is Benjamin, Joseph's younger brother and fellow son of Rachel. Benjamin is close with Joseph and another favorite of their father. After Joseph is sold into slavery, the other brothers become protective of Benjamin.

Overall, few of Joseph's brothers are given extensive characterization in the text. Only Reuben, Judah, and Benjamin are presented as individuals with discernible personalities.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team