Genesis 41:40
Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.
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(40) Over my house.—The chief over the palace was in ancient times next in power to the sovereign, and under the Frankish kings the “major domi,” or mayor of the palace, first usurped the whole royal power, and finally Pepin, the son of Charles Martel, took the name of king as well as the reality.

According unto thy word shall all my people be ruled.—The general sense is easy, namely that all the people of Egypt should obey Joseph’s orders, but the translation of the phrase is difficult. The ordinary meaning of the verb is to kiss, and the translation would then be And on thy mouth shall all my people kiss, that is, they shall do thee homage (1Samuel 10:1; Psalm 2:12). The versions seem to have taken this sense, though they translate very loosely “shall obey thee;” or shall receive judgment at thy mouth;” or “shall be governed by thee.” As however in 1Chronicles 12:2; 2Chronicles 17:17; Psalm 78:9, the verb is used of bearing arms, Aben-Ezra translates “shall arm themselves,” and supposes that Joseph was made commander-in-chief. Others, again, form the verb used here from the same root as that which would give meshek in Genesis 15:2 the meaning of “running about,” and translate at thy mouth, that is, according to thy command, shall all my people busy themselves. The first is the most natural and probable rendering.

In the throne.—Heb., as to the throne, in all that concerns my royal rank, dignity, and rights.

Genesis 41:40. According to thy word — Thy direction and command, the word mouth, as the Hebrew is, being often put for command; shall all my people be ruled — Or be fed. They shall receive their provisions from thy hand, and according to thy disposal. But the Hebrew is, at thy mouth shall my people kiss, which may be understood literally; for inferiors used sometimes to kiss their superiors in token of their homage; or rather metaphorically, as the same phrase is used, Psalm 2:12, and Proverbs 24:26, they shall receive all thy commands with reverence and submission.

41:33-45 Joseph gave good advice to Pharaoh. Fair warning should always be followed by good counsel. God has in his word told us of a day of trial before us, when we shall need all the grace we can have. Now, therefore, provide accordingly. Pharaoh gave Joseph an honourable testimony. He is a man in whom the spirit of God is; and such men ought to be valued. Pharaoh puts upon Joseph marks of honour. He gave him such a name as spoke the value he had for him, Zaphnath-paaneah, a revealer of secrets. This preferment of Joseph encourages all to trust in God. Some translate Joseph's new name, the saviour of the world. The brightest glories, even of the upper world, are put upon Christ, the highest trust lodged in his hand, and all power given him, both in heaven and earth.Pharaoh approves of his counsel, and selects him as "the discreet and wise man" for carrying it into effect. "In whom is the Spirit of God." He acknowledges the gift that is in Joseph to be from God. "All my people behave" - dispose or order their conduct, a special meaning of this word, which usually signifies to kiss. "His ring." His signet-ring gave Joseph the delegated power of the sovereign, and constituted him his prime minister or grand vizier. "Vestures of fine linen." Egypt was celebrated for its flax, and for the fineness of its textures. The priests were arrayed in official robes of linen, and no man was allowed to enter a temple in a woolen garment (Herodotus ii. 37, 81). "A gold chain about his neck." This was a badge of office worn in Egypt by the judge and the prime minister. It had a similar use in Persia and Babylonia Daniel 5:7. "The second chariot." Egypt was noted for chariots, both for peaceful and for warlike purposes (Herodotus ii. 108). The second in the public procession was assigned to Joseph. "Bow the knee." The various explications of this proclamation agree in denoting a form of obeisance, with which Joseph was to be honored. I am Pharaoh, the king Genesis 12:15. "Without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot." Thou art next to me, and without thee no man shall act or move. "Zaphenath-paneah." Pharaoh designates him the preserver of life, as the interpreter of the dream and the proposer of the plan by which the country was saved from famine. He thus naturalizes him so far as to render his civil status compatible with his official rank. "Asenath." The priests were the highest and most privileged class in Egypt. Intermarriage with this caste at once determined the social position of the wonderous foreigner. His father-in-law was priest of On, a city dedicated to the worship of the sun.

With our Western and modern habit we may at the first glance be surprised to find a stranger of a despised race suddenly elevated to the second place in the kingdom. But in ancient and Eastern governments, which were of a despotic character, such changes, depending on the will of the sovereign, were by no means unusual. Secondly, the conviction that "the Spirit of God was in" the mysterious stranger, was sufficient to overbear all opposing feelings or customs. And, lastly, it was assumed and acted on, as a self-evident fact, that the illustrious stranger could have no possible objection to be incorporated into the most ancient of nations, and allied with its noblest families. We may imagine that Joseph would find an insuperable difficulty in becoming a citizen of Egypt or a son-in-law of the priest of the sun. But we should not forget that the world was yet too young to have arrived at the rigid and sharplydefined systems of polytheism or allotheism to which we are accustomed. Some gray streaks of a pure monotheism, of the knowledge of the one true God, still gleamed across the sky of human memory. Some faint traces of one common brotherhood among mankind still lingered in the recollections of the past. The Pharaoh of Abraham's day feels the power of him whose name is Yahweh Genesis 12:17. Abimelek acknowledges the God of Abraham and Isaac Genesis 20:3-7; Genesis 21:22-23; Genesis 26:28-29. And while Joseph is frank and faithful in acknowledging the true God before the king of Egypt, Pharaoh himself is not slow to recognize the man in whom the Spirit of God is. Having experienced the omniscience and omnipotence of Joseph's God, he was prepared, no doubt, not only himself to offer him such adoration as he was accustomed to pay to his national gods, but also to allow Joseph full liberty to worship the God of his fathers, and to bring up his family in that faith.

Joseph was now in his thirtieth year, and had consequently been thirteen years in Egypt, most part of which interval he had probably spent in prison. This was the age for manly service Numbers 4:3. He immediately enters upon his office.

40. Thou shalt be over my house—This sudden change in the condition of a man who had just been taken out of prison could take place nowhere, except in Egypt. In ancient as well as modern times, slaves have often risen to be its rulers. But the special providence of God had determined to make Joseph governor of Egypt; and the way was paved for it by the deep and universal conviction produced in the minds both of the king and his councillors, that a divine spirit animated his mind and had given him such extraordinary knowledge.

according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled—literally, "kiss." This refers to the edict granting official power to Joseph, to be issued in the form of a firman, as in all Oriental countries; and all who should receive that order would kiss it, according to the usual Eastern mode of acknowledging obedience and respect for the sovereign [Wilkinson].

According unto thy word, i.e. direction and command, Heb. mouth, which is oft put for command, {as Exodus 17:1 38:21 Numbers 3:16,39, &c.,} shall all my poeple be ruled, or, be fed; they shall receive their provisions from thy hand, and according to thy disposal. Others, shall kiss, viz. the hand, as inferiors used to do, upon their address to or conference with great persons. See Job 31:27 Hosea 13:2. But it was frivolous for Joseph to command them to do that which by the custom of the place they were obliged and wont to do. Some render the word thus, and that agreeable to the Hebrew, at thy mouth shall the people kiss; which may be understood either properly, as inferiors did sometimes kiss their superiors in token of their homage; see 1 Samuel 10:1; or rather metaphorically, as the same phrase is used Psalm 2:12 Proverbs 24:26, receive all thy commands with reverence and submission.

In the throne, i.e. in sovereign power and dignity.

Thou shall be over my house,...., Have the care of his domestic affairs, and be the principal man in his palace and court:

and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled; not only in his family, but in his whole kingdom; whatever he ordered and commanded them to do, they should it, or "all my people shall kiss" (s), that is, either their hand at the sight of him, or meeting him, in token of respect and veneration shall yield a ready and cheerful obedience to him, of which the kiss was a sign, see Psalm 2:12. The Targum of Onkelos renders it, "shall be fed" (t), supplied with corn, and with all necessary provisions, and so Jarchi interprets it; which is restraining it to that part of his office which concerned the gathering and laying up their stores for time to come; but the Targum of Jonathan is, "shall be armed" (u); and so Aben Ezra makes him the prince or general of the army, or who had the militia at his command, and could arm them when he pleased; but it seems to denote a more large and unlimited power than either of these, even the government of the whole land under the king, who only excepts himself:

only in the throne will I be greater than thou; that is, he alone would be king, wear the crown sit upon the throne, and have all the ensigns of royal majesty, in which Joseph was to have no share; otherwise he was to have an executive power and authority over all his subjects in the land, even to bind his princes at pleasure, and to teach, instruct, and direct his senators, Psalm 105:21.

(s) "osculabitur", Montanus, Junius, & Tremellius, Piscator, Schmidt. (t) Cibabitur, Fagius; "cibum capiet", Tigurine version. (u) Armabitur, Pagninus, Munster, Drusius, Cartwright; so Kimchi.

Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy {l} word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.

(l) Some read, the people will kill your mouth, that is obey you in all things.

40. over my house] Pharaoh exalts the Hebrew slave at one step to become his Grand Vizier; cf. Psalm 105:21; 1Ma 2:53. Whether there was a vacancy in this office into which Joseph was promoted, or whether he displaced an existing official, the tradition does not record. “My house” seems to mean “my palace,” or “my court.” The elevation of a Syrian slave to such high rank is apparently not without example in the records of the Egyptian kings. See Appendix E on “Joseph as Vizier.” For the title of “governor of the palace,” cf. 1 Kings 4:6; Isaiah 22:15.

be ruled] The meaning is very doubtful; possibly, as R.V. marg., order themselves, or, do homage. Lit. (if the text be correct) “and upon thy mouth shall all my people kiss.” In illustration of this expression some have quoted Hosea 13:2; Proverbs 24:26. It is objected that “the kiss of homage” was not a kiss upon the mouth. Hence scholars have preferred a different rendering, “according to thy mouth,” i.e. “at thy command” (cf. Genesis 45:21), “shall my people order, or dispose, themselves.” So, probably, LXX ἐπὶ τῷ στόματί σου ὑπακούσεται, Lat. obediet. Perhaps, however, the text is corrupt.

Genesis 41:40Joseph's Promotion. - This counsel pleased Pharaoh and all his servants, so that he said to them, "Shall we find a man like this one, in whom the Spirit of God is?" "The Spirit of Elohim," i.e., the spirit of supernatural insight and wisdom. He then placed Joseph over his house, and over all Egypt; in other words, he chose him as hid grand vizier, saying to him, "After God hath showed thee all this, there is none discreet and wise as thou." ישּׁק על־פּיך, "according to thy mouth (i.e., command, Genesis 45:21) shall my whole people arrange itself." נשׁק does not mean to kiss (Rabb., Ges., etc.), for על נשׁק is not Hebrew, and kissing the mouth was not customary as an act of homage, but "to dispose, arrange one's self" (ordine disposuit). "Only in the throne will I be greater than thou."
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