Genesis 39:4
And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.
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Genesis 39:4. He made him overseer over all that he had — Committed all to his care and management. But it may be asked how this could be, since Joseph understood not the Egyptian language? In answer to which it may be observed, that, undoubtedly, as soon as he came thither he would do his utmost to obtain the knowledge of that language, and being a person of good parts, would soon obtain it, especially as there was a great affinity between that language and his own. Besides, it is not to be supposed that Joseph was highly advanced at once, but step by step, and after some considerable time. For, considering Potiphar’s office and station, it is not likely that he would thus prefer Joseph till he had had full evidence of his fidelity, as well as of his ability to manage so great a trust.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.3. his master saw that the Lord was with him—Though changed in condition, Joseph was not changed in spirit; though stripped of the gaudy coat that had adorned his person, he had not lost the moral graces that distinguished his character; though separated from his father on earth, he still lived in communion with his Father in heaven; though in the house of an idolater, he continued a worshipper of the true God. He served him, not now as a slave, but in a higher degree.

All that he had he put into his hand, i.e. committed to his care and management, as Genesis 16:6.

Object. How could this be, when Joseph understood not the Egyptian tongue?

Answ. Joseph doubtless when he came thither did as much as possibly he could endeavour to get the knowledge of that language, and being a person of excellent parts, would soon obtain it, especially because of the great affinity between that language and his own. Nor must we think that Joseph was thus highly advanced in an instant, but by degrees, step by step, and after some considerable time. And Joseph found grace in his sight,.... In the sight of his master, as he did in the sight of God, he had favour both with God and man; his master had a high esteem of him, and a great value for him, and showed him much kindness and respect:

and he served him; readily, willingly, cheerfully, and faithfully; or he served him personally; his master took such a liking to him, that he selected him from the rest of his servants to wait on his person, and to be what we now call a "valet de chambre", whose business was to dress and undress him, to wait upon him at table, &c.

and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand; that is, after he had served him some time, in the capacity of a valet, he advanced him, and made him the head servant, or steward of his house, and committed all his business, cash, and accounts to his care, and put all his servants under him.

And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him {c} overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.

(c) Because God prospered him: and so he made religion serve his profit.

4. ministered unto him] Joseph’s character and capacities were first tested by personal service, and afterwards by the responsibility of general supervision.

overseer] Joseph was made steward of the whole household, a position of which we find mention in early Egyptian records. Cf. Genesis 43:16, Genesis 44:1.Verse 4. - And Joseph found grace in his sight, - vide Genesis 6:8; 18:3; 19:19; 39:21. Most men are pleased with a good servant. Even Laban bad no objections to Jacob so long as he divided that Jehovah was multiplying his flocks for Jacob's sake (Genesis 30:27) - and he served him (i.e. he waited on Potiphar, or acted as his personal attendant and comptroller of his household): and he (i.e. Potiphar) made him overseer over his house, - a position corresponding to that occupied by Eliezer in the household of Abraham (Genesis 24:2). Egyptian monuments attest the existence of such an officer in wealthy houses at an early period; a tomb at Kum-el-Ahmar exhibiting the account books, writing materials, and clerks that pertain to the office of s steward, and another at Beni-hassan, besides displaying his accustomed implements, styling him the Overseer (Wilkinson's 'Ancient Egyptians, vol. 1. p. 372, ed. 1878; Hengstenberg s 'Egypt and the Books of Moses,' p. 24). A sepulchral inscription belonging to the period of the eleventh dynasty also mentions among the officers comprising the household of Ameni the chancellor Athorsi, the barber Khentikhrati, the slave Gefahapi, the lady's maid Khui, the steward Ameni, the steward Santit (vide 'Records of the Past,' vol. 6. p. 3). Joseph had also, after his exaltation, a ruler or steward of his house (cf. Genesis 43:16, 19; Genesis 44:1) - and all that he had he put into his hand = literally, and all which was to him he gave into his hand, i.e. he entrusted to Joseph's cam). Thamar brought forth twins; and a circumstance occurred at the birth, which does occasionally happen when the children lie in an abnormal position, and always impedes the delivery, and which was regarded in this instance as so significant that the names of the children were founded upon the fact. At the birth ויּתּן־יד "there was a hand," i.e., a hand came out (יתּן as in Job 37:10; Proverbs 13:10), round which the midwife tied a scarlet thread, to mark this as the first-born.
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