Genesis 39:1
And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither.
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Genesis 39:1. And Joseph was brought down into Egypt — The history of Joseph is one of the most remarkable, interesting, and instructive of any contained in the Scriptures or elsewhere. It affords us the clearest evidence of the providence of God conducting all things with amazing and stupendous wisdom, and making them “work together for good to those that love him;” nay, and causing even the wickedness of men to become subservient to the accomplishment of its designs. One design of God, with regard to Joseph, was to raise him to such a degree of greatness and power, as should oblige his brethren to bow down humbly before him: his brethren opposed this, and meant to humble him: but what they did with this view was the first step by which God led him to elevation and glory; and the horrible calumny of his unchaste mistress, which seemed to complete his misfortunes, was the circumstance which advanced him almost to the throne! This may afford us great comfort under all our troubles, as we may from hence be assured that God can make whatever shall be designed against us the means of promoting our happiness.

The Jews have a proverb, If the world did but know the worth of good men, they would hedge them about with pearls. Joseph was sold to an officer of Pharaoh, with whom he might get acquainted with public persons and public business, and so be fitted for the preferment he was designed for. What God intends men for, he will be sure, some way or other, to qualify them for.39:1-6 Our enemies may strip us of outward distinctions and ornaments; but wisdom and grace cannot be taken from us. They may separate us from friends, relatives, and country; but they cannot take from us the presence of the Lord. They may shut us from outward blessings, rob us of liberty, and confine us in dungeons; but they cannot shut us out from communion with God, from the throne of grace, or take from us the blessings of salvation. Joseph was blessed, wonderfully blessed, even in the house where he was a slave. God's presence with us, makes all we do prosperous. Good men are the blessings of the place where they live; good servants may be so, though mean and lightly esteemed. The prosperity of the wicked is, one way or other, for the sake of the godly. Here was a wicked family blessed for the sake of one good servant in it.Joseph fares well with his first master. "Potiphar." This is a racapitulation of the narrative in Genesis 37:"The Lord;" the God of covenant is with Joseph. "In the house." Joseph was a domestic servant. "And his master saw." The prosperity that attended all Joseph's doings was so striking as to show that the Lord was with him. "Set him over" - made him overseer of all that was in his house. "The Lord blessed the Mizrite's house." He blesses those who bless his own Genesis 12:3. "Beautiful in form and look" Genesis 29:17. This prepares the way for the following occurrence.CHAPTER 39

Ge 39:1-23. Joseph in Potiphar's House.

1. Potiphar—This name, Potiphar, signifies one "devoted to the sun," the local deity of On or Heliopolis, a circumstance which fixes the place of his residence in the Delta, the district of Egypt bordering on Canaan.

officer—literally, "prince of the Pharoah"—that is, in the service of government.

captain of the guard—The import of the original term has been variously interpreted, some considering it means "chief cook," others, "chief inspector of plantations"; but that which seems best founded is "chief of the executioners," the same as the captain of the watch, the zabut of modern Egypt [Wilkinson].

bought him … of the Ishmaelites—The age, appearance, and intelligence of the Hebrew slave would soon cause him to be picked up in the market. But the unseen, unfelt influence of the great Disposer drew the attention of Potiphar towards him, in order that in the house of one so closely connected with the court, he might receive that previous training which was necessary for the high office he was destined to fill, and in the school of adversity learn the lessons of practical wisdom that were to be of greatest utility and importance in his future career. Thus it is that when God has any important work to be done, He always prepares fitting agents to accomplish it.God prospers Joseph in Potiphar’s service, Genesis 39:1,2. Potiphar observes it, and sets him over all his house, Genesis 39:3-6. He is a goodly person, and his mistress solicits him to lie with her, Genesis 39:7. He abhorring the ingratitude against his master, and sin against God, constantly refuses, Genesis 39:8-10. They being in the house alone, she seizes his coat, which he leaves with her, and fled, Genesis 39:11-13. She accuses him first to the servants, Genesis 39:14,15; then to his master, Genesis 39:16-18, who casts him into prison, Genesis 39:19,20. The Lord is with him there; he finds favour with the keeper; is set over the prisoners, and prospers, Genesis 39:21-23.

1729 The Lord was with Joseph, with his gracious presence and blessing, as this phrase is taken here, Genesis 39:21 21:22 26:24.

He was in the house of his master: he doth not endeavour to make an escape to his father, but demeaned himself patiently and faithfully in the station into which God’s providence had brought him.

And Joseph was brought down to Egypt,.... By the Ishmaelites, Genesis 37:28; as in a following clause:

and Potiphar an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian; as his name also shows, which signifies the fruit of Pot or Phut, that is, the son or grandson of one of that name (m); which might be common in Egypt, since it was the name of a son of Ham, Genesis 10:6, from whom the land of Egypt is called the land of Ham, Psalm 105:23; of this man and his offices; see Gill on Genesis 37:36,

he bought him: that is, "Joseph":

of the hands of the Ishmaelites, who had brought him down thither; what they gave for him we know, but what they sold him for to Potiphar is not said; no doubt they got a good price for him, and his master had a good bargain too, as appears by what follows.

(m) Onomastic. Sacr. p. 671, 672.

And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an {a} officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither.

(a) See Ge 37:36.

1. was brought down] This follows upon Genesis 37:28.

Potiphar, &c.] See note on Genesis 37:36. These words the Compiler seems to have added from E to harmonize the two accounts. J merely read “And an Egyptian bought him”; cf. Genesis 39:2, “in the house of his master the Egyptian.” The words “an Egyptian,” “the Egyptian” would have been needless in Genesis 39:1-2, after the full description of Potiphar as “an officer of Pharaoh’s, the captain of the guard.”Verse 1. - And Joseph was brought down to Egypt. The narrative now preparing to recite the fortunes of Joseph in Egypt, which eventually led, through his elevation to be Pharaoh's prime minister, first to the salvation of the patriarchal family, 'and finally to their settlement in Goshen, the historian reverts, in accordance with his usual practice, to a point of time antecedent to the incidents contained in the preceding chapter, and makes a new departure in his story from the moment of Joseph's crossing into Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard (vide Genesis 37:36), an Egyptian, - literally, a man of Mitzraim. This implies that foreigners were sometimes employed to fill responsible offices about the Court of Pharaoh. The phrase "is not a superfluous addition, as the population of Heliopolis, from remote times, included a considerable admixture of Arabians" (Kalisch) - bought him of the hands of the Ishmaelites (vide Genesis 37:36), which had brought him down thither. About three months afterwards (משׁלשׁ prob. for משּׁלשׁ with the prefix )מ Judah was informed that Thamar had played the harlot and was certainly (הנּה) with child. He immediately ordered, by virtue of his authority as head of the tribe, that she should be brought out and burned. Thamar was regarded as the affianced bride of Shelah, and was to be punished as a bride convicted of a breach of chastity. But the Mosaic law enjoined stoning in the case of those who were affianced and broke their promise, or of newly married women who were found to have been dishonoured (Deuteronomy 22:20-21, Deuteronomy 22:23-24); and it was only in the case of the whoredom of a priest's daughter, or of carnal intercourse with a mother or a daughter, that the punishment of burning was enjoined (Leviticus 21:9 and Leviticus 20:14). Judah's sentence, therefore, was more harsh than the subsequent law; whether according to patriarchal custom, or on other grounds, cannot be determined. When Thamar was brought out, she sent to Judah the things which she had kept as a pledge, with this message: "By a man to whom these belong am I with child: look carefully therefore to whom this signet-ring, and band, and stick belong." Judah recognised the things as his own, and was obliged to confess, "She is more in the right than I; for therefore (sc., that this might happen to me, or that it might turn out so; on כּי־על־כּן see Genesis 18:5) have I not given her to my son Shelah." In passing sentence upon Thamar, Judah had condemned himself. His son, however, did not consist merely in his having given way to his lusts so afar as to lie with a supposed public prostitute of Canaan, but still more in the fact, that by breaking his promise to give her his son Shelah as her husband, he had caused his daughter-in-law to practise this deception upon him, just because in his heart he blamed her for the early and sudden deaths of his elder sons, whereas the real cause of the deaths which had so grieved his paternal heart was the wickedness of the sons themselves, the mainspring of which was to be found in his own marriage with a Canaanite in violation of the patriarchal call. And even if the sons of Jacob were not unconditionally prohibited from marrying the daughters of Canaanites, Judah's marriage at any rate had borne such fruit in his sons Ger and Onan, as Jehovah the covenant God was compelled to reject. But if Judah, instead of recognising the hand of the Lord in the sudden death of his sons, traced the cause to Thamar, and determined to keep her as a childless widow all her life long, not only in opposition to the traditional custom, but also in opposition to the will of God as expressed in His promises of a numerous increase of the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Thamar had by no means acted rightly in the stratagem by which she frustrated his plan, and sought to procure from Judah himself the seed of which he was unjustly depriving her, though her act might be less criminal than Judah's. For it is evident from the whole account, that she was not driven to her sin by lust, but by the innate desire for children (ὅτι δὲ παιδοποΐ́ιας χάριν, καὶ οὐ φιληδονίας τοῦτο ὁ Θάμαρ ἐμηχανήσατο, - Theodoret); and for that reason she was more in the right than Judah. Judah himself, however, not only saw his guilt, but he confessed it also; and showed both by this confession, and also by the fact that he had no further conjugal intercourse with Thamar, an earnest endeavour to conquer the lusts of the flesh, and to guard against the sin into which he had fallen. And because he thus humbled himself, God gave him grace, and not only exalted him to be the chief of the house of Israel, but blessed the children that were begotten in sin.
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