Genesis 40:3
And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound.
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(3, 4) In the house of the captain of the guard.—That is, of Potiphar. As he is said to have charged Joseph with the care of these two high officials, he must, ere this, have become aware of his innocence. But as the wife in ancient times in Egypt was endowed with all the husband’s property, and was a formidable person, as we learn from many of the records now being translated and published, Potiphar may not have wished to offend her.

He served them.—Used only of light service. (See Note on Genesis 39:4.)

40:1-19 It was not so much the prison that made the butler and baker sad, as their dreams. God has more ways than one to sadden the spirits. Joseph had compassion towards them. Let us be concerned for the sadness of our brethren's countenances. It is often a relief to those that are in trouble to be noticed. Also learn to look into the causes of our own sorrow. Is there a good reason? Is there not comfort sufficient to balance it, whatever it is? Why art thou cast down, O my soul? Joseph was careful to ascribe the glory to God. The chief butler's dream foretold his advancement. The chief baker's dream his death. It was not Joseph's fault that he brought the baker no better tidings. And thus ministers are but interpreters; they cannot make the thing otherwise than it is: if they deal faithfully, and their message prove unpleasing, it is not their fault. Joseph does not reflect upon his brethren that sold him; nor does he reflect on the wrong done him by his mistress and his master, but mildly states his own innocence. When we are called on to clear ourselves, we should carefully avoid, as much as may be, speaking ill of others. Let us be content to prove ourselves innocent, and not upbraid others with their guilt.The chief butler and chief baker, high officials in Pharaoh's court, come under the displeasure of their sovereign. "In the house of the captain of the guards." It appears that this officer's establishment contained the keep in which Joseph and these criminals were confined. "Charged Joseph with them." As Joseph was his slave, and these were state prisoners, he appointed him to wait upon them. It is probable that Joseph's character had been somewhat re-established with him during his residence in the prison.3. Pharaoh put them in ward, &c.—Whatever was their crime, they were committed, until their case could be investigated, to the custody of the captain of the guard, that is, Potiphar, in an outer part of whose house the royal prison was situated. The captain of the guard, to wit, Potiphar, Genesis 37:36, who being informed by his underkeeper of Joseph’s great care and faithfulness, began to have a better opinion of him, though for his own quiet, and his wife’s reputation, he left him still in the prison.

Where Joseph was bound; was a prisoner, as that word is used, Isaiah 22:3; for Joseph being now made governor of the prisoners, was doubtless freed from his bonds: or had been bound, and that with irons in a cruel manner, Psalm 105:18.

And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard,.... Who is generally thought to be Potiphar, since this was the office he was in, Genesis 39:1; unless he was dead, and there was another put into his room, or there were more than one in the same office:

into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound; that is, where he had been bound, and where he was still a prisoner, though not fettered and in that close confinement he had been in.

And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where {a} Joseph was bound.

(a) God works in many wonderful ways to deliver his own.

3. in ward] Cf. Genesis 40:4; Genesis 40:7. An old English expression; cf. Shakespeare, 2 Hen. VI, v. i.:

“I know, ere they will have me go to ward,

They’ll pawn their swords for my enfranchisement.”

He committed them for safe keeping, while the enquiry into the charges against them went on.

captain of the guard] See note on Genesis 37:36.

the prison] = “the round house,” as in Genesis 39:20. This clause seems to have been introduced, in order to harmonize the tradition of Joseph’s position in the house of the “captain of the guard” with the account of his imprisonment in Genesis 39:20-23.

According to E, Pharaoh placed his two officials in confinement, but not in the prison, in the keeping of the “captain of the guard.”

Verse 3. - And he put them in ward (or in custody) in the house of the captain of the guard, - i.e. Potiphar (vide Genesis 37:36) - into the prison, - literally, house of enclosure (vide Genesis 39:20) - the place where Joseph was bound. The word אָסור, from אָסַר, to make fast by binding, seems to corroborate the Psalmist's assertion (Psalm 105:18) that Joseph had been laid in iron and his feet hurt with fetters; but this could only have been temporarily (vide vers. 4, 6). Genesis 40:3The head cup-bearer and head baker had committed crimes against the king of Egypt, and were imprisoned in "the prison of the house of the captain of the trabantes, the prison where Joseph himself was confined;" the state-prison, according to Eastern custom, forming part of the same building as the dwelling-house of the chief of the executioners. From a regard to the exalted position of these two prisoners, Potiphar ordered Joseph to wait upon them, not to keep watch over them; for את פּקד does not mean to appoint as guard, but to place by the side of a person.
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