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.
Verse 1. - And Joseph was brought down to Egypt. The narrative now preparing to recite the fortunes of Joseph in Egypt, which eventually led, through his elevation to be Pharaoh's prime minister, first to the salvation of the patriarchal family, 'and finally to their settlement in Goshen, the historian reverts, in accordance with his usual practice, to a point of time antecedent to the incidents contained in the preceding chapter, and makes a new departure in his story from the moment of Joseph's crossing into Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard (vide Genesis 37:36), an Egyptian, - literally, a man of Mitzraim. This implies that foreigners were sometimes employed to fill responsible offices about the Court of Pharaoh. The phrase "is not a superfluous addition, as the population of Heliopolis, from remote times, included a considerable admixture of Arabians" (Kalisch) - bought him of the hands of the Ishmaelites (vide Genesis 37:36), which had brought him down thither.
And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.
Verse 2. - And the Lord - Jehovah, as usual, because the entire chapter is the work of the Jehovist (Tuch, Colenso), with the exception of a few alterations by the redactor (Davidson), or because, though the work of the Elohist, it has been modified by the Jehovistic editor (Bleek, Vaihinger); but more likely because the advancement of Joseph in Egypt was a special fruit of the theocratic promise which belonged to the patriarchal family (Hengstenberg, Quarry) - was with Joseph (cf. ver. 21; 21:20; 26:24; 28:15), and he was a prosperous man (literally, a man prospering); and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian - i.e. as a domestic servant.
And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand.
Verse 3. - And his master saw that the Lord (Jehovah) was with him - this does not imply that Potiphar was acquainted with Jehovah, but simply that he concluded Joseph to be under the Divine protection - and that the Lord (Jehovah) made all that he did to prosper in his hand. That which led to the conviction of Potiphar concerning Joseph was the remarkable success which he saw attending all his efforts and undertakings.
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.
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).
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.
Verse 5. - And it same to pass from the time that he had made (literally, from that time he made) him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that (literally, and) the Lord (Jehovah) blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake (cf. Genesis 30:12); and the blessing of the Lord (Jehovah) was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. It is observable that throughout this chapter, when the historian is speaking in his own name the term Jehovah is used to designate the Supreme Being (cf. vers. 21, 23), whereas when Joseph replies to his mistress it is the word Elohim which he employs, the reason of which is sufficiently obvious. Ver. 6 - And (accordingly, encouraged by the admirable success attending Joseph's management) he left all that he had in Joseph's hand (i.e. gave him unrestricted control over all his temporal affairs); and he knew not ought he had (literally, he knew not anything with him, i.e. he shared not the care of anything along with him), save the bread which he did eat. This was necessitated by the laws of caste which then prevailed among the Egyptians, and in particular' by the fact that " the Egyptians might not eat with the Hebrews (Genesis 43:32). And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favored - literally, beautiful is form and beautiful in appearance, like his mother Rachel (Genesis 29:17).
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.
And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.
Verse 7. - And it came to pass after these things, - Joseph had by this time been nearly ten years in Potiphar's house (vide Genesis 41:46) - that his master s wife cast her eyes (lasciviously) upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. According to monumental evidence (Wilkinson's ' Ancient Egyptians,' vol. 1. p. 392, ed. 1878; Hengstenbergs 'Egypt and the Books of Moses,' 1:25; Kalisch, p. 631) and historical testimony (Herod., 2:111), Egyptian females, even though married, were distinguished for licentiousness and immorality, and were not condemned to live in seclusion (Bohlen), but were allowed freely to mix in promiscuous society, which facts perfectly account for Joseph s temptation by his mistress.
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;
Verses 8, 9. - But he refused, - "it may be that the absence of personal charms facilitated Joseph s resistance (Kalisch); but Joseph assigns a different reason for his noncompliance with her utterly immoral proposition - and said unto his master's wife, - "for her unclean solicitation he returneth pure and wholesome words" (Hughes) - Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house (literally, knoweth not, along with me, what is in the house), and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand, (literally, and all that is to him he hath given to or placed in my hand); there is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back anything from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin (cf. Genesis 20:6; 2 Samuel 12:13; Psalm 51:4 for the estimate of this act taken by God and good men) against God? - Elohim, since Jehovah would have been unintelligible to a heathen woman.
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.
Verse 10. - And it came to pass, as she spake - or, though she spake (Kalisch) - to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her (a euphemistic expression), or (which is not in the original, and may be omitted) to be with her.
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.
Verses 11, 12. - And it came to pass about this time (literally, at this day, i.e. it one day happened), that Joseph went into the house to do his business (i.e. to attend to his accustomed duties); and there was none of the men of the house there within (or, in the hour). And she caught him by his garment (this was probably the long loose robe or mantle, with short sleeves, used in Oriental full dress), saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out - literally, and went forth into the place without, i.e. out of the house and into the street.
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,
Verses 13-15. - And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand (a very indiscreet act on the part of Joseph, considering the possible use that might be made of it), and was fled forth, that she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in (literally, one has brought in, the subject of the verb being indefinite) an Hebrew (literally, a man, an Hebrew) unto us to mock us (the verb עָחַק, from which comes Isaac, is here used in a bad sense; not the same as in Genesis 26:8); 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 (literally, by my side), and fled, and got him out (or, went forth into the street, et supra).
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.
Verses 16-18. - And she laid up his garment by her (literally, by her side), until his lord came home (literally, until the coming of his lord to his house). And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us (here she charges her husband with being indirectly at least the cause of the alleged affront which had been put upon her), came in unto me to mock me: - "she seemed too modest to speak in plain terms of Joseph's crime (Lawson) - and it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me and fled out (i.e. went forth into the street, ut supra).
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.
Verse 19. - And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner (literally, according to these words) did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled. A papyrus consisting of nineteen pages of ten lines of hieratic writing (purchased from Madame D'Orbiney, and presently in the British Museum), belonging probably to the nineteenth dynasty, contains a tale of two brothers, in which incidents occur very similar to those here narrated. While the two are ploughing in the field, the elder sends the younger brother, who appears to have acted in the capacity of general superintendent, to fetch seed from the house. "And the younger brother found the wife of the elder sitting at her toilet.".... "And she spoke to him, saying, What strength there is in thee! Indeed I observe thy vigor every day. Her heart knew him She seized upon him, and said to him, Come, let us lie down for an instant. Better for thee... beautiful clothes." "The youth became like a panther with fury on account of the shameful discourse which she had addressed to him. And she was alarmed exceedingly."... "Her husband returned home at evening, according to his daily wont. He came to the house, and he found his wife lying as if murdered by a ruffian." Inquiring the reason of her distress, he is answered as Potiphar was answered by his deceitful spouse. "And the elder brother became like a panther; he made his dagger sharp, and took it in his hand" (vide ' Records of the Past,' vol. 2. p. 139).
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.
Verse 20. - And Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, - literally house of enclosure; sohar, from sahar, to encircle, meaning probably a turreted, arched, or rounded building for the confinement of prisoners - a place where the king's prisoners (i.e. State offenders) were bound: and he was there in the prison. This, which some regard as having been a mild punishment (Delitzsch, Keil), since, according to Diodorus Siculus, the laws of the Egyptians were specially severe in their penalties for offences against women, is represented by a Hebrew psalmist (Psalm 105:18) as having been accompanied with bodily tortures, at least for a time; for his speedy elevation to a place of trust within the prison almost gives countenance to the idea (Kurtz, Lange, &c.) that Potiphar did not believe his wife's story, and only incarcerated Joseph for the sake of appearances. That Joseph was not immediately punished with death is not improbable (Bohlen), but exceedingly natural, since Joseph was Potiphar's favorite (Havernick).
But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
Verse 21. - But (even if Joseph was harshly treated in the tower of Heliopolis) the Lord - Jehovah (vide on ver. 5) - was with Joseph (vide ver. 2), and showed him mercy (literally, extended kindness unto him), and gave him favor in the eyes of the keeper (or captain) of the prison (or round house).
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.
Verses 22, 23. - And the keeper of the prison (captain of the round house, or chief officer of the tower) committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it - literally, and all that they (the prisoners) were doing there, he was the person doing it, or attending to it; i.e. the keeper gave him charge to see that the prisoners obeyed whatever orders were issued for their regulation; and, having implicit confidence in Joseph's probity, the keeper of the prison looked not to anything that was under (or in) his hand (i.e. he did not trouble himself about anything entrusted to Joseph); because the Lord (Jehovah) was with him, and that which he did, the Lord (Jehovah) made it to prosper.
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.