And Joseph Was 17.

The Torah (Bible) portion for December 21, 2019:  Vayeshev, Genesis 37:1 – 40:23. Haftarah (supplemental reading): Amos 2:6 – 3:8.
The descent into Egypt – Joseph was 17.

“Joseph was 17…watching sheep with his brothers. In an evil manner, Joseph reported his brothers’ idle talk to his father. But Jacob loved Joseph more than all his other sons and made him an embroidered coat….the brothers saw that their father loved Joseph more…hated him.” (

It is never accidental when the Bible invokes a number, and so there is something meaningful about Joseph being 17 when he is sold into slavery. Joseph was taken from his father and they reunite also after 17 years.

How about the spiritual significance of the number 17?

What special meanings do these have? 
Jewish meanings:

  • “Tov”/”Good” – when Joseph is thrown in jail and interprets the dream of his cellmate, the 2nd cellmate calls the interpretation “Tov” – or “good.” (Gen. 40:16) What he means is “accurate.”
  • “Zevach”/”Sacrifice” – Joseph went down into Egypt as a sacrifice (Jacob lost him) to lay the foundation for the future of the Jews. 
  • “According to the Bible, number 17 is a symbol of victory and perfection. It refers to the spiritual perfection in the first place.” (
  • “God overcame the sins of rebellious humans when he began to flood the earth through rain on the 17th of the second Hebrew month.” Also, “Noah’s ark and its eight passengers rested on the mountains of Ararat on the 17th of the seventh month.” (
  • “Daniel 7’s beasts have seven heads and ten horns, for a total number of 17.” – these are the worldly powers to be overcome before redemption.  (
  • “Psalm 83, verses 6 to 11, lists seventeen total enemies of Israel. Seven of these God destroyed in the past. The other ten foes will soon try to destroy the Israelites and ‘cut them off from being a nation.'” – they will be vanquished.  (
  • The Hebrew letter that sounds like “P” is the 17th letter. In Hebrew it is associated with prayer. Victory comes through prayer. (BibleNumbers)

Specifically Christian meanings: 

  • That 17 spells “dayag” or “fishermen” meaning “apostles.” In a sense, Joseph is an apostle…the apostle is the epitome of servant leadership. (

Joseph, the 17 year old dream interpreter, has a gift of apprehension beyond the normal. He must take that gift and go to Egypt, where magick is prized. He must sacrifice (17) his own ego, his natural urges, in order to bring about good (17) for his family.

Here’s to God and His victory. Here’s to the Redemption.
By Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal. All opinions are the author’s own. Public domain. Photo via Wikipedia.