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Joseph is an important figure in the Bible's Book of Genesis. His function is to explain how Israel came to Egypt: the favourite son of the patriarch Jacob, he is sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. Eventually, he was sold to Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh's guard (Genesis 37:36, Genesis 39:1). Later, Joseph became Potiphar's personal servant, and subsequently his household's superintendent. Here, Potiphar's wife (called Zuleika in later tradition) tried to seduce Joseph, which he refused. Angered by his running away from her, she made a false accusation of rape, and thus assured his imprisonment (Genesis 39:1–20). Nevertheless, Joseph overcomes his circumstances and rises to become vizier, so that when famine strikes the region and Jacob's family leave Canaan, it is through him that they are given leave to settle in the Land of Goshen (the eastern part of the Nile delta).

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