Jeremiah prophesied during the final years of Judah’s independence and lived through its final conquest by Babylon. He suffered many hardships, one of which was being denied the pleasures of having a family.
The word of the LORD came to me: “You shall not take a wife, nor shall you have sons or daughters in this place. For thus says the LORD concerning the sons and daughters who are born in this place, and concerning the mothers who bore them and the fathers who fathered them in this land: They shall die of deadly diseases. They shall not be lamented, nor shall they be buried. They shall be as dung on the surface of the ground. They shall perish by the sword and by famine, and their dead bodies shall be food for the birds of the air and for the beasts of the earth.”
The things that happened to him would have made it hard for him to fulfill his family responsibilities. His preaching was so unpopular that he sometimes spent time in prison or in hiding from the authorities and after the Babylonian victory he was forced to accompany some people who fled to Egypt for refuge. But even if the circumstance of his life had been different he would have been childless because of a curse placed on one of his ancestors.
The Bible says nothing about any king named Joseph. The Jews had 23 kings, beginning with Saul and ending with Zedekiah. The ten tribes that broke away had 20 kings, beginning with Jeroboam and ending with Hoshea. Many foreign kings are mentioned by name. None of these kings is named Joseph.
But there is one person in the Bible who had the right to call himself King Joseph.
God told Adam he could eat the fruit of every tree in the garden of Eden except one, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Of course everyone knows what happened next. The serpent persuaded Eve to eat the fruit of the tree; she gave some of the fruit to Adam and he ate it too. As a result they were expelled from the garden and eventually died, and all of their descendants experience suffering and death.
There is an Irish blessing, “May you be in Heaven half an hour before the Devil knows you’re dead.”
The apostle Paul was someone whom God blessed very much. Do you suppose he was in Heaven half an hour before the Devil realized he was dead?
Jacob had two wives, Rachel and Leah. In addition he had children by Bilhah and Zilpah, the servants of his wives. All four of these women could be considered his wives. The Bible records the death of only one of these women, Rachel.
Then they journeyed from Bethel. When they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel went into labor, and she had hard labor. And when her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her, “Do not fear, for you have another son.”
And as her soul was departing (for she was dying), she called his name Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.
So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem), and Jacob set up a pillar over her tomb. It is the pillar of Rachel’s tomb, which is there to this day.