Joseph was thrown in a well by his jealous brothers, and therefore he is a metaphor for closely guarded secrets. Here, he seems to be related to secrets of power as well as spirituality, and his coming out is subject to right timing. Incidentally, these same connotations surround the very first reference to Joseph in the prelude of the first book, where Iqbal says:
I am a song indifferent to the plectrum:
I am the voice of the poet of tomorrow.
My own age does not know the secrets;
My Joseph is not for this market.
It follows that this Joseph is the main thing to be found through Iqbal’s writings but wouldn’t be found in his lifetime. Curiously enough, there are many references to Joseph in his works, and he seems to be speaking of many Josephs distinguishable from each other. For instance, Joseph of the West has already come out and seized power:
Freed from his bondage, Joseph sits on Pharaoh’s high throne—
The lies and traps of Potiphar’s Wife have been washed from the slate.
Regarding the East, an angel informs the spirit of a Hindu philosopher:
Rubies come forth from the stones of the road,
Its Josephs are issuing out of the well.
Out of all these, there is one to which Iqbal refers specifically as “my Joseph” and it becomes “our Joseph” in a ghazal addressed to “one of the Sufis”:
Do not talk as yet about Joseph we have lost:
The warmth of Zulaykha’s heart neither you have nor I.
Apparently it is the same person about whom Rumi says later, “Even if the wolves take away our Joseph it is better than his getting sold to the unworthy.” It is an entity which seems to belong especially to Sufis (“my Joseph”, “our Joseph”) as well as kings (“secrets of politics and government”) but should not come out until the right time (“my own age does not know,” “do not talk as yet about Joseph” and “even if the wolves take away our Joseph…”).