How many years was Joseph (Yusuf) (pbuh) in jail? How many years had he stayed in jail when two people came to jail near him? How many years did he remain away from his father Jacob (Yaqub) (pbuh)?

The Details of the Question
How many years was Joseph (Yusuf) (pbuh) in jail? How many years had he stayed in jail when two people came to jail near him? How many years did he remain away from his father Jacob (Yaqub) (pbuh)?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

To say something definite regarding these issues is difficult because there are different views in the sources. Nonetheless, we can answer your question as follows.

1. Joseph (pbuh) stayed in jail for seven years. Some scholars said that he was in prison for five or twelve years. (see, Razi, the interpretation of Yusuf, 36)

2. ‘‘Now with him there came into the prison two young men. Said one of them: "I see myself (in a dream) pressing wine." Said the other: "I see myself (in a dream) carrying bread on my head, and birds are eating thereof." "Tell us" (they said) "the truth and meaning thereof: for we see thou art one that doth good (to all).’’ (Yusuf 12/36 ) Acting upon the verse above, we can say  that the dream of two young people took place in his first year in prison.

3. It is said that Jacob (pbuh) remained away from Joseph (pbuh) for twenty-two years. (see Ibn Ashur, the interpretation of Yusuf, 96) It is said that eighty, forty or thirty-six years passed between Joseph’s first dream and the actual interpretation of his dream. (see Mawardi, the interpretation of Yusuf, 12/96-98)

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