Genesis 39
Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
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.
In Potiphar's House. - Potiphar had bought him of the Ishmaelites, as is repeated in Genesis 39:1 for the purpose of resuming the thread of the narrative; and Jehovah was with him, so that the prospered in the house of his Egyptian master. מצליח אישׁ: a man who has prosperity, to whom God causes all that he undertakes and does to prosper. When Potiphar perceived this, Joseph found favour in his eyes, and became his servant, whom he placed over his house (made manager of his household affairs), and to whom he entrusted all his property (כּל־ישׁ־לו Genesis 39:4 equals ישׁ־לו כּל־אשׁר Genesis 39:5, Genesis 39:6). This confidence in Joseph increased, when he perceived how the blessing of Jehovah (Joseph's God) rested upon his property in the house and in the field; so that now "he left to Joseph everything that he had, and did not trouble himself אתּו (with or near him) about anything but his own eating."

And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.
And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand.
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.
And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.
And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.
Joseph was handsome in form and feature; and Potiphar's wife set her eyes upon the handsome young man, and tried to persuade him to lie with her. But Joseph resisted the adulterous proposal, referring to the unlimited confidence which his master had placed in him. He (Potiphar) was not greater in that house than he, and had given everything over to him except her, because she was his wife. "How could he so abuse this confidence, as to do this great wickedness and sin against God!"

And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.
But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand;
There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?
And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her.
But after she had repeated her enticements day after day without success, "it came to pass at that time (הזּה כּהיּום for the more usual הזּה כּיּום (Genesis 50:20), lit., about this day, i.e., the day in the writer's mind, on which the thing to be narrated occurred) that Joseph came into his house to attend to his duties, and there were none of the house-servants within." And she laid hold of him by his garment and entreated him to lie with her; but he left his garment in her hand and fled from the house.

And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within.
And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.
And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth,
When this daring assault upon Joseph's chastity had failed, on account of his faithfulness and fear of God, the adulterous woman reversed the whole affair, and charged him with an attack upon her modesty, in order that she might have her revenge upon him and avert suspicion from herself. She called her house-servants and said, "See, he (her husband, whom she does not think worth naming) has brought us a Hebrew man ("no epitheton ornans to Egyptian ears: Genesis 43:32") to mock us (צחק to show his wantonness; us, the wife and servants, especially the female portion): he came in unto me to lie with me; and I cried with a loud voice...and he left his garment by me." She said אצלי "by my side," not "in my hand," as that would have shown the true state of the case. She then left the garment lying by her side till the return of Joseph's master, to whom she repeated her tale.

That she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice:
And it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and got him out.
And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home.
And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me:
And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out.
And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled.
Joseph in Prison. - Potiphar was enraged at what he heard, and put Joseph into the prison where (אשׁר for שׁם אשׁר, Genesis 40:3 like Genesis 35:13) the king's prisoners (state-prisoners) were confined. הסּהר בּית: lit., the house of enclosure, from סהר, to surround or enclose (ὀχύρωμα, lxx); the state-prison surrounded by a wall. This was a very moderate punishment. For according to Diod. Sic. (i. 78) the laws of the Egyptians were πικροὶ περὶ τῶν γυναιῶν νόμοι. An attempt at adultery was to be punished with 1000 blows, and rape upon a free woman still more severely. It is possible that Potiphar was not fully convinced of his wife's chastity, and therefore did not place unlimited credence in what she said.

(Note: Credibile est aliquod fuisse indicium, quo Josephum innocentem esse Potiphari constiteret; neque enim servi vita tanti erat ut ei parceretur in tam gravi delicto. Sed licet innocuum, in carcere tamen detinebat, ut uxoris honori et suo consuleret (Clericus). The chastity of Egyptian women has been in bad repute from time immemorial (Diod. Sic. i. 59; Herod. ii. 111). Even in the middle ages the Fatimite Hakim thought it necessary to adopt severe measures against their immorality (Bar-Hebraei, chron. p. 217), and at the present day, according to Burckhardt (arab. Sprichwrter, pp. 222, 227), chastity is "a great rarity" among women of every rank in Cairo.)

But even in that case it was the mercy of the faithful covenant God, which now as before (Genesis 37:20.) rescued Joseph's life.

And Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.
But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
In the prison itself Jehovah was with Joseph, procuring him favour in the eyes of the governor of the prison, so that he entrusted all the prisoners to his care, leaving everything that they had to do, to be done through him, and not troubling himself about anything that was in his hand, i.e., was committed to him, because Jehovah made all that he did to prosper. "The keeper" was the governor of the prison, or superintendent of the gaolers, and was under Potiphar, the captain of the trabantes and chief of the executioners (Genesis 37:36).

And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it.
The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.
Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch [1857-78].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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