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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 39

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations



God prospers Joseph in Potiphar's service, Genesis 39:1-2.

Potiphar observes it, and sets him over all his house, Genesis 39:3-6.

He is a goodly person, and his mistress solicits him to lie with her, Genesis 39:7.

He abhorring the ingratitude against his master, and sin against God, constantly refuses, Genesis 39:8-10.

They being in the house alone, she seizes his coat, which he leaves with her, and fled, Genesis 39:11-13.

She accuses him first to the servants, Genesis 39:14-15; then to his master, Genesis 39:16-18, who casts him into prison, Genesis 39:19-20.

The Lord is with him there; he finds favour with the keeper; is set over the prisoners, and prospers, Genesis 39:21-23.

Verse 1

The Lord was with Joseph, with his gracious presence and blessing, as this phrase is taken here, Genesis 39:21; Genesis 21:22; Genesis 26:24.

He was in the house of his master: he doth not endeavour to make an escape to his father, but demeaned himself patiently and faithfully in the station into which God's providence had brought him.

Verse 3

The heathens owned a supreme God, and his overruling providence in affairs, though they did not glorify him as God, but worshipped the creature with and more than the Creator, Romans 1:25.

In his hand, i.e. under his ministry, as this phrase is used, Exodus 4:13; Leviticus 8:36; Proverbs 26:6, and oft elsewhere.

Verse 4

He served him, not now as a slave, but in a higher degree.

All that he had he put into his hand, i.e. committed to his care and management, as Genesis 16:6.

Object. How could this be, when Joseph understood not the Egyptian tongue?

Answ. Joseph doubtless when he came thither did as much as possibly he could endeavour to get the knowledge of that language, and being a person of excellent parts, would soon obtain it, especially because of the great affinity between that language and his own. Nor must we think that Joseph was thus highly advanced in an instant, but by degrees, step by step, and after some considerable time.

Verse 6

He took care for nothing, but that he might eat, and drink, and fare deliciously. Nor did he indeed take any care for that, it being provided for him by other hands. Others thus, He took care for nothing, but committed all to Joseph, except his bread, which he would not have provided by a Hebrew hand,

because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews, Genesis 43:32. But that was no impediment, for neither did Joseph eat with his master, nor was he the cook to dress it for him. But he might provide food for him, as afterwards he did for all the Egyptians without any scruple on their side.

Verse 7


cast her eyes upon Joseph, in a lascivious and unchaste manner. See Job 31:1; Matthew 5:28; 2 Peter 2:14.

Verse 10

He avoided her company and familiar conversation, as evil in itself, the present circumstances considered, and as an occasion of further evil. See Proverbs 1:15; Proverbs 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:33; 1 Thessalonians 5:22; 1 Timothy 5:14.

Verse 11

About this time, or, upon a certain day, which she thought convenient for the reason following.

To do his business, that which belonged to his charge; to cast up his accounts, as the Chaldee renders it, which requiring privacy, gave her this opportunity.

There was none of the men within, to wit, in that part of the house where Joseph was.

Verse 12

He left his garment in her hand, which he would not strive to get from her, partly, for reverence to his mistress; partly, in detestation of her wickedness, whereby even his garment might seem to be infected; and partly, to put himself and her out of the danger of further temptation.

Verse 14

Unto the men of her house; to such as were in other parts of the house, whom she called in as witnesses for her husband’s satisfaction.

He, i.e. my husband, whom she would not name, as it were out of disdain and high displeasure for being the occasion of this horrid affront. Thus the pronouns he and they are oft used by way of contempt, as Luke 4:24; Luke 19:27; John 7:11; John 8:10.

An Hebrew; so she calls him, to render him hateful and contemptible to the Egyptians.

To mock us; to abuse me; or to vitiate and defile me; for that word is oft used in an obscene sense. She insinuates, that this was not only an indignity to her, but an injury to all the family, which therefore they were obliged to revenge.

Verse 17

So she makes her husband accessory to the crime, that she might provoke him to the sharper revenge.

Verse 18

An improbable story, and an evidence that the violence was on her side; otherwise, if he had attempted violence upon her person, he would not have forborne violence to the recovery of his garment, which he very well knew might be made a pretence against him.

Verse 20

Quest. Why did he not kill him, the crime being capital, and he having so undoubted a power in his hand to do it?

Answ. It is probable he was a little moderated by Joseph’s apology, which doubtless he made for himself, though it be not here recorded.

2. This is to be ascribed to the good providence of God, which restrains the waves of the sea, and the passions of men, and sets them their bounds which they shall not pass, which watched over Joseph in a peculiar manner.

The king’s prisoners; traitors, or great offenders against the king, whose prison doubtless was none of the easiest and therefore it is called a dungeon, Genesis 40:15; Genesis 41:14; and he endured great hardship in it. See Psalms 105:18.

Verse 21

The gaoler, who under Potiphar was the keeper of that particular person.

Verse 22

They did nothing but by Joseph’s command or permission.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Genesis 39". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/genesis-39.html. 1685.
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