Genesis 41:14
Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in to Pharaoh.
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(14) He shaved himself.—Herodotus (ii. 36) mentions that the Egyptians suffered their hair and beards to grow only when in mourning; whereas in Palestine the beard was regarded as a manly ornament. On Egyptian monuments only captives and men of low condition are represented with beards. In the prison, therefore, Joseph would leave his beard untrimmed, but when summoned into the king’s presence, he would shave it off. Abravanel notices that for each suffering of Joseph there was an exact recompense. It was for dreams that his brethren hated him, and by help of dreams he was exalted in Egypt. They stripped him of his many-coloured coat; the Egyptians clothed him in byssus. They cast him into a pit, and from the pit of the prison he was drawn forth by Pharaoh. They sold him into slavery; in Egypt he was made lord.

Genesis 41:14. Brought him out of the dungeon — Or prison; for, as Joseph was now so much employed, and intrusted with all the affairs of the prison and prisoners, it is not probable that he should still be kept confined in the dungeon, properly so called. The king could scarce allow him time, but that decency required it, to shave himself, and to change his raiment. It is done with all possible expedition, and Joseph is brought in perhaps almost as much surprised as Peter was, Acts 12:9; so suddenly is his captivity brought back, that he is as one that dreams, <19C601>Psalm 126:1. Pharaoh immediately, without inquiring who or whence he was, tells him his business, that he expected he should interpret his dream.41:9-32 God's time for the enlargement of his people is the fittest time. If the chief butler had got Joseph to be released from prison, it is probable he would have gone back to the land of the Hebrews. Then he had neither been so blessed himself, nor such a blessing to his family, as afterwards he proved. Joseph, when introduced to Pharaoh, gives honour to God. Pharaoh had dreamed that he stood upon the bank of the river Nile, and saw the kine, both the fat ones, and the lean ones, come out of the river. Egypt has no rain, but the plenty of the year depends upon the overflowing of the river Nile. See how many ways Providence has of dispensing its gifts; yet our dependence is still the same upon the First Cause, who makes every creature what it is to us, be it rain or river. See to what changes the comforts of this life are subject. We cannot be sure that to-morrow shall be as this day, or next year as this. We must learn how to want, as well as how to abound. Mark the goodness of God in sending the seven years of plenty before those of famine, that provision might be made. The produce of the earth is sometimes more, and sometimes less; yet, take one with another, he that gathers much, has nothing over; and he that gathers little, has no lack, Ex 16:18. And see the perishing nature of our worldly enjoyments. The great harvests of the years of plenty were quite lost, and swallowed up in the years of famine; and that which seemed very much, yet did but just serve to keep the people alive. There is bread which lasts to eternal life, which it is worth while to labour for. They that make the things of this world their good things, will find little pleasure in remembering that they have received them.Pharaoh sends for Joseph, who is hastily brought from the prison. "He shaved." The Egyptians were accustomed to shave the head and beard, except in times of mourning (Herod. 2:32). "Canst hear a dream to interpret it" - needest only to hear in order to interpret it. "Not I God shall answer." According to his uniform habit Joseph ascribes the gift that is in him to God. "To the peace of Pharaoh" - so that Pharaoh may reap the advantage. In form. This takes the place of "in look," in the former account. Other slight variations in the terms occur. "And they went into them" - into their stomachs.14. Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph—Now that God's set time had come (Ps 105:19), no human power nor policy could detain Joseph in prison. During his protracted confinement, he might have often been distressed with perplexing doubts; but the mystery of Providence was about to be cleared up, and all his sorrows forgotten in the course of honor and public usefulness in which his services were to be employed.

shaved himself—The Egyptians were the only Oriental nation that liked a smooth chin. All slaves and foreigners who were reduced to that condition, were obliged, on their arrival in that country, to conform to the cleanly habits of the natives, by shaving their beards and heads, the latter of which were covered with a close cap. Thus prepared, Joseph was conducted to the palace, where the king seemed to have been anxiously waiting his arrival.

The dungeon, or prison, by a synecdoche of the part for the whole. For it is not probable that Joseph, who was now so much employed, and intrusted with all the affairs of the prison and prisoners, Genesis 39:21-23, should still be kept in the dungeon properly so called.

He shaved himself; for till then he suffered his hair to grow, as the manner was for persons in prison, or under great sorrow, 2 Samuel 19:24. But to appear in a mournful dress before the king was not convenient, nor usual. Compare Esther 4:4. Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph,.... Sent messengers to him to come to him directly, ordered the captain of the guard, or keeper of prison, to loose him, and let him free, see Psalm 105:20,

and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon; that is, out of the prison house; which, as Jarchi says, was made like a ditch or dungeon, or in which the dungeon was where Joseph was first put when he was brought to prison; though it cannot be thought that he continued there when he had so much respect shown him by the keeper, and had other prisoners committed to his care: however, he was fetched in great haste from his place of confinement, by the messengers that were sent for him; or "they made him to run" (h), from the prison to the palace, the king being so eager to have his dream interpreted to him:

and he shaved himself; or the barber shaved him, as Aben Ezra; his beard had not been shaved, nor the hair of his head cut very probably for a considerable time; it being usual for persons in such circumstances to neglect such things:

and changed his raiment; his prison garments being such as were not fit to appear in before a king, and put on others, which either the king sent him, or the captain of the guard his master furnished him with:

and came in unto Pharaoh: into his palace, and his presence; what city it was in which this Pharaoh kept his palace, is no where said; very probably it was which the Scriptures call Zoan, that being the ancient city of Egypt, Numbers 13:22.

(h) "et currere fecerunt eum", Pagninus, Montanus, Munster, Vatablus; "et fecerunt ut curreret", Piscator.

Then Pharaoh sent and called {f} Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh.

(f) The wicked seek the prophets of God in their time of need, while in their prosperity they abhor them.

14. and they … dungeon] A clause probably introduced, like that in Genesis 40:15, in order to harmonize the E with the J version. In E, Joseph is a slave, not a prisoner: in J he is a prisoner, cf. Genesis 39:21-23.

shaved himself] The Egyptians paid extreme care to matters of cleanliness. They were very generally themselves clean shaven. LXX and Lat. render “they shaved him.”Verse 14. - Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily (literally, caused him to run) out of the dungeon (vide Genesis 40:15): and he shaved himself, - this was exactly in accordance with Egyptian custom (Herod. 2:36). Wilkinson states that "the custom of shaving the head as well as beard was not confined to the priests in Egypt, but was general among all classes" (Rawlinson's 'Herodotus,' vol. 2. p. 49; cf. 'Ancient Egyptians,' vol. 2. pp. 330-332. ed. 1878). That the verb is not more exactly defined by a terra Cellowing, such as the head (Numbers 6:9), the beard (2 Samuel 10:4), but stands alone (the only instance of its intransitive use), appears to suggest that the writer was familiar with the practice of shaving (vide Havernick, 'Introd.,'§ 21) - and changed his raiment, - as required by the customs of Egypt (vide Hengstenberg's 'Egypt,' p. 30; cf. Genesis 35:2) - and came (or went) in unto Pharaoh. Being troubled about this double dream, Pharaoh sent the next morning for all the scribes and wise men of Egypt, to have it interpreted. חרטתּים, from חרט a stylus (pencil), and the ίερογραμματεῖς, men of the priestly caste, who occupied themselves with the sacred arts and sciences of the Egyptians, the hieroglyphic writings, astrology, the interpretation of dreams, the foretelling of events, magic, and conjuring, and who were regarded as the possessors of secret arts (vid., Exodus 7:11) and the wise men of the nation. But not one of these could interpret it, although the clue to the interpretation was to be found in the religious symbols of Egypt. For the cow was the symbol of Isis, the goddess of the all-sustaining earth, and in the hieroglyphics it represented the earth, agriculture, and food; and the Nile, by its overflowing, was the source of the fertility of the land. But however simple the explanation of the fat and lean cows ascending out of the Nile appears to be, it is "the fate of the wisdom of this world, that where it suffices it is compelled to be silent. For it belongs to the government of God to close the lips of the eloquent, and take away the understanding of the aged (Job 12:20)." Baumgarten.
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