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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 40

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2284. B.C. 1720.

In this chapter things are working toward Joseph’s advancement.

(1,) Two of Pharaoh’s servants are committed to prison, and there, to Joseph’s care, and so become witnesses of his extraordinary conduct, Genesis 40:1-4 .

(2,) They dreamed each of them a dream, which Joseph interpreted, and they verified the interpretation, Genesis 40:20-22 .

(3,) Joseph recommends his case to one of them, whose preferment he foresaw, Genesis 40:14-15 ; but in vain, Genesis 40:23 .

Verses 1-3

Genesis 40:1-3 . We should not have had this story of Pharaoh’s butler and baker recorded in Scripture, if it had not been serviceable to Joseph’s preferment. The world stands for the sake of the church, and is governed for its good. Where Joseph was bound That is, was a prisoner, as the word אסור is used, Isaiah 22:3; or had been bound, Psalms 105:18.

For being now made governor of the prisoners, he was doubtless made free from his bonds.

Verses 4-5

Genesis 40:4-5 . The captain of the guard Namely, Potiphar, Genesis 37:36, who, probably being informed by his under-keeper of Joseph’s great care and faithfulness, began to have a better opinion of him, although for his own quiet and his wife’s reputation, he left him still in prison.

According to the interpretation of his dream By Joseph. The dream and the interpretation answered each other.

Verse 6

Genesis 40:6. They were sad It was not the prison that made them sad; they were pretty well used to that, but the dream; God has more ways than one to sadden the spirits of those that are to be made sad. Those sinners that are hardy enough under outward trouble, yet God can find a way to trouble them, and take off their wheels, by wounding their spirits, and laying a load upon them.

Verse 8

Genesis 40:8. Do not interpretations belong to God? He means the God whom he worshipped, to the knowledge of whom he endeavours hereby to lead them. And if interpretations belong to God, he is a free agent, and may communicate the power to whom he pleases, therefore tell me your dreams.

Verse 13

Genesis 40:13. Lift up thy head Raise thee from thy state of dejection and sorrow, and advance thee to thy former dignity; for in this sense, the same phrase is used, 2 Kings 25:27, and <19B007>Psalms 110:7. The expression, however, may be rendered, shall reckon thy head, that is, thy name or person, namely, among his servants, which interpretation seems to agree better with the verse where the same phrase is used also of the chief baker who was hanged. It is supposed to refer to a custom which the kings of Egypt, and probably other governors observed, of having the names of all their servants called over on their birthdays, and at other set times; when such as were judged to be guilty of great crimes were struck off the list and punished, and the less guilty were pardoned, and if they had been imprisoned, were released and restored to their former trusts and offices.

Verses 14-15

Genesis 40:14-15 . Think on me Though the respect paid to Joseph made the prison as easy to him as a prison could be, yet none can blame him for being desirous of liberty. See what a modest representation he makes of his own case. He doth not reflect upon his brethren that sold him, he only saith, I was stolen out of the land of the Hebrews. Nor doth he reflect on the wrong done him in this imprisonment by his mistress, that was his prosecutor, and his master, that was his judge, but mildly avers his own innocence. Here have I done nothing, that they should put me into the dungeon When we are called to vindicate ourselves, we should carefully avoid, as much as may be, speaking ill of others. Let us be content to prove ourselves innocent, and not fond of upbraiding others with their guilt.

Verse 20

Genesis 40:20. He lifted up the head Of these servants; took an account of them, examined their cases, and, either according to the merit of their cause, or through caprice, disposed of them as is here mentioned.

Verse 21

Genesis 40:21. Calmet has observed, that, as Joseph was a type of Christ, so these two officers of Pharaoh point out the two thieves between whom he was crucified; our Lord pardoning the one and condemning the other, as Joseph predicted the butler’s restoration to his office, and the baker’s execution.

Verse 23

Genesis 40:23. But forgat him Being again possessed of the emoluments of his office, and enjoying the pleasures of the court, the kindness which Joseph had shown him in interpreting his dreams, as well as all the instruction and advice he had received from him respecting the true God and religion, vanished from his recollection: a specimen this of the friendship of the world, and a true sample of the disappointment which they will meet with who rely on it!

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 40". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/genesis-40.html. 1857.
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