Lesser Ury frequently drew upon the vast resources of Jewish history for inspiration in his work. The themes and motifs of the Bible feature themselves prominently in his murals, easel paintings and etchings. Joseph in Chains is taken from the Biblical story of
Joseph immediately following his kidnapping by his eleven envious brothers who conspire to sell him into slavery from Israel into Egypt so that they can rid themselves of him. Interested as well in the exploration of loneliness in his work, Ury sets Joseph against a wilderness backdrop to emphasize his monumentality.