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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 39

The Pulpit CommentariesThe Pulpit Commentaries

Verses 1-6


Genesis 39:1

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.

Genesis 39:2

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. Genesis 39:21; Genesis 21:20; Genesis 26:24; Genesis 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.

Genesis 39:3

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.

Genesis 39:4

And Joseph found grace in his sight,—vide Genesis 6:8; Genesis 18:3; Genesis 19:19; Genesis 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. 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. Joseph had also, after his exaltation, a ruler or steward of his house (cf. Genesis 43:16, Genesis 43:19; 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).

Genesis 39:5

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. Genesis 39:21, Genesis 39:23), whereas when Joseph replies to his mistress it is the word Elohim which he employs, the reason of which is sufficiently obvious.

Genesis 39:6And (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).


Genesis 39:1-23

Joseph is the house of Potiphar.


1. A sad lot. Worse even than being kidnapped by strangers, Joseph had been first sold by his brethren; carried into Egypt, he had there been exposed for sale in a slave-market; and now, as if he had been a beast of burden or a captive taken in war, he had been a second time purchased for money. Few fortunes are more touchingly sorrowful or more deeply humiliating than this which was now measured out to Jacob's youthful son.

2. A common lot. Happily in our land, and indeed wherever the gospel prevails, it is not a spectacle that can now be beheld—that of men trafficking in each other's flesh. But in those days the horrors of the auction block were not infrequent sights, and Joseph, in being sold and bought like goods and chattels, Was only experiencing a fate which had been undergone by many previous to his times, and has by myriads been suffered since.

3. An appointed lot. As everything on earth is, so was Joseph's sad and sorrowful estate assigned him by Heaven; and the recognition of this doubtless it was by Joseph that prevented him from mur-touring, and apparently inspired him with a cheerful confidence, even in the darkest times.


1. Eminently prosperous.

(1) The extent of this prosperity. All that he did prospered. Everything he put his hand to appeared to thrive. Success seemed to wait upon him like his shadow. It is seldom such a measure of good fortune is meted out to any of God's people on the earth, or even of the devil's children. For the first they would probably be spoiled by such indulgence, while for the second they mostly fail in the conditions that are needful for such distinction.

(2) The means of this prosperity. That Joseph was attentive. diligent, and conscientious in the performance of his household duties, as well as faithful and devoted to the interests of his master, may be reasonably inferred, since success seldom waits upon the negligent, the idle, or the unprincipled.

(3) The source of this prosperity. The historian is careful to note that the true mainspring of Joseph's as of every other person's, prosperity was the Divine blessing on his labors. The Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand.

2. Greatly rewarded. Joseph was—

(1) Noticed by his master. It is a pleasure to true and faithful servants when those they serve regard their work with favorable observation.

(2) Accepted by his master. It says a great deal for Potiphar that he treated Joseph kindly, even though it was largely on account of his excellent qualities as a servant.

(3) Promoted by his master. From being humble valet to the great man's person, he was exalted to the high position of steward or comptroller of the great man's house.

(4) Trusted by his master. Everything connected with the management of Potiphar's establishment, in his mansion and on his farm, was unreservedly committed to the care of Joseph. Potiphar troubled himself about nothing "save the bread which he did eat."


1. He enjoyed Divine companionship in his sad captivity. "The Lord was with him;" a compensation rich enough to be set against the miseries of bondage and exile, as God's people, when similarly situated, have not un-frequently experienced (cf. Acts 16:25; 2 Timothy 4:17).

2. He obtained Divine assistance in his arduous duties. When the circumstances of Joseph's lot might have induced despondency, indifference, inaction, carelessness, and inattention, Divine grace so upheld and cheered him that he was able to go about his duties with alacrity and cheerfulness, so that everything he turned his hand to succeeded.

3. He received Divine favor in the eyes of his master. For Joseph himself to have secretly known that God approved of his person and behavior would have been an ample consolation to his sad heart; but to obtain the good-will of Heaven so conspicuously that even his heathen master could not avoid observing it was surely a signal honor.

4. He attracted Divine blessing towards his fellow-men. "The Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake." Here was a clear experience by Joseph of the truth of the Abrahamic blessing (Genesis 12:2, Genesis 12:3). In this also Joseph was an eminent type of Christ.


1. Patience under suffering.

2. Contentment with one's lot.

3. Fidelity in service.

4. The secret of prosperity.

5. The obligations of masters towards servants.

6. The value of religion to a workman.

7. The profit of a pious servant.

Genesis 39:1-23

Sunshine and shadow.

I. THE BRIGHTENING SKY. The advancement of Joseph in the house of Potiphar.

1. To Joseph's sense it was a lightening in his bondage.

2. To Joseph's faith it was the smiling of Jehovah's face.

3. To Joseph's hope it was the dawning of a better day.

II. THE THREATENING CLOUD. The temptation of Joseph by his mistress. Here was—

1. An assault upon his virtue, which, unless it were overcome, would deprive him of Jehovah's favor, and consequently put an end to any prospect he might have of deliverance; and,

2. An attack upon his safety, which, however it resulted, whether in his defeat or his victory, would likely terminate his enjoyment of his master's favor, if not altogether cost him his life.

III. THE FALLING DARKNESS. The accusation of Joseph by his mistress.

1. Though untrue, it was almost certain to be believed.

2. If believed, it would certainly involve him in punishment.

3. If deemed deserving of punishment, he would almost certainly be put to death.

IV. THE STARLIGHT NIGHT. The history of Joseph in the prison.

1. He had not been executed, but only imprisoned.

2. God was with him in the dungeon, as he had been in the palace.

3. If the favor of his master had been lost, the confidence of his keeper had been gained.

4. Misfortune might seem to be always lying in wait for him, but, on the other hand, prosperity appeared to be ever following close upon his heels.


Genesis 39:1-23

The righteous man.

Again the word of the Lord tries Joseph, but not so much now as the word of prophecy, but as the word of command, the doctrine of righteousness. "The Egyptian's house is blessed for Joseph's sake." "The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man." A lesson on the true method of prosperity. A prosperous man is one who has the Lord with him—

1. To give him favor with fellow-men.

2. To teach him wisdom, and put things into his hand.

3. To give him the faculty of rule, and dispose others to trust him entirely.

4. To keep him pure from the vicious besetments of the world, both by his own personal chastity and by his courage and self-command in hours of temptation.

5. By delivering him when he is entangled in the meshes of the evil-minded. The bad woman's determination is thwarted. Mercy is shown him in the prison.

6. By making him a messenger of peace and truth, even in the very prison house of shame and misery.

Notice again the elevation of Joseph's character.

1. His love of God. "How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?"

2. His love of man. "My master hath committed all to me—how can I wrong him so?

3. His confidence in the blessing of God on the upright and holy life. He knew that God would vindicate him.

4. His self-control. His circumstances were fearful temptation. Had he not been a virtuous man in his heart of hearts, he would have succumbed, and then pleaded, as so many do, the power of the flesh and of the tempting circumstances.

Notice also how these characteristics do help one another when they are in the character, and how, when a man casts himself upon God, God makes the way of escape. Joseph was safer in prison than he was in his master's house.—R.

Verses 7-23


Genesis 39:7

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 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.

Genesis 39:8, Genesis 39:9

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. Gen 20:6; 2 Samuel 12:13; Psalms 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.

Genesis 39:10

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 to be with her.

Genesis 39:11, Genesis 39:12

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.

Genesis 39:13-15

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).

Genesis 39:16-18

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).

Genesis 39:19

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".

Genesis 39:20

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 (Psalms 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).

Genesis 39:21

But (even if Joseph was harshly treated in the tower of Heliopolis) the Lord—Jehovah (vide on Genesis 39:5)—was with Joseph (vide Genesis 39:2), 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).

Genesis 39:22, Genesis 39:23

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.


Genesis 39:7-23

Joseph and the wife of Potiphar.


1. The time of it. Never perhaps had Joseph's prospects been brighter since he left his father's house than towards the close of that decade of years which he spent in the Egyptian officer's employ; and yet then it was that, like a thunderbolt shot from a clear sky, a fierce temptation burst upon him.

2. The occasion of it. This was the beauty of Joseph''s person. Things innocent and lovely in themselves may sometimes be a source of danger, and, if not guarded against, a cause of sin, to their possessors. In particular the good looks of men and women are often snares to others as well as fraught with peril to themselves, as the cases Of Sarah (Genesis 12:14), Rebekah (Genesis 26:10), and Dinah (Genesis 34:2) testify. Hence beauty of the person should neither be too eagerly coveted nor too proudly worn by either sex, as-by each its charms in the other should be moderately admired, and its allurements earnestly resisted.

3. The form of it. The special trial to which the young man Joseph was now subjected partook of the character of an assault upon his chastity. It is, however, a mistake to suppose that a good man is always assaulted at the point where he is weakest. On the contrary, it is one of the devil's blunders that, in directing his attacks against saints, he for the most part mistakenly selects the point where they are strongest. Joseph was permitted to be assailed by his lascivious mistress not because his own personal virtue was doubtful, but because in that direction he was best prepared to repel the fiercest onset of temptation.

4. The strength of it. There were elements in this assault upon Joseph's virtue which were calculated to impart to it a vehemence that in ordinary circumstances, i.e. with persons of less robustness of moral principle than Joseph, must have proved overwhelming. These were—

(1) The person by whom it was directed, viz; Joseph's mistress, the wife of a high officer of state, whose smile might have turned the head and intoxicated the heart of a young man who was only her slave.

(2) The vehement importunity with which it was urged, his mistress speaking to him day by day, and even by act as well as word endeavoring to prevail.

(3) The convenient opportunity which was almost always presented, seeing that Joseph's master was mostly absent, and the domestics often out of the way.

(4) The danger he might incur by offending one so high in rank as his master's wife.

(5) The advantages he might expect to reap from complying with her pleasure.


1. The manner of Joseph's refusal.

(1) Promptly, without the slightest hesitation or appearance of dallying with the tempting bait. Had Joseph hesitated, he might have been lost; had he trifled with the forbidden fruit, he might have plucked and ate.

(2) Firmly. There was no sound of wavering or indecision about the reply of Joseph. It was not the answer of a man who was only half-hearted in putting away from him a thing which he secretly desired. In Joseph's "no" there was the clear, full-toned ring of a man who had made up his mind intelligently and finally.

(3) Kindly. Joseph behaved towards his mistress with as much tenderness as his moral indignation and disgust at her behavior would allow; his considerateness shining out conspicuously in this, that he studiously endeavored to be as much as possible out of the unhappy woman's sight, in the hope, doubtless, that her unholy passion might abate.

(4) Bravely. Joseph was prepared to run any risk rather than accede to the base proposal of his mistress, as was proved by his fleeing from the house without his doublet, when the impudent woman sought by catching hold of him to secure compliance with her request.

2. The reason of Joseph's refusal.

(1) The greatness of the trust reposed in him by his master. Potiphar had committed everything to his (Joseph's) care; and how then could he repay with treachery so abominable a confidence so great?

(2) The extent of the power delegated to him. Potiphar had kept back nothing from him except his wife: how then, having privileges so extensive, should he covet the one thing forbidden?

(3) The sacredness of the relationship existing between his mistress and Potiphar. "Thou art his wife;" and by the covenant of marriage thou belongest to him only, and not to me.

(4) The heinousness of the sin of which he would be guilty. "How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?"


1. The slander of his mistress. The disappointed strumpet, thirsting for revenge, resolves upon accomplishing the ruin of the fair youth of whom the moment before she affected to be enamored. But indeed all illicit passion, whether gratified or baulked, has a tendency sooner or later to become transformed into hate. Laying up the garment which Joseph had indiscreetly dropped in his haste, she makes use of it to trump up a charge against Joseph of having attempted a violation of her chastity. There is no length to which the fierce resentment of a wicked woman will not proceed against those who have incurred her hate. It will commonly go hard with her if out of a straw her infernal ingenuity cannot manufacture a rope wherewith to strangle her victim.

2. The wrath of his master Potiphar, as was natural, at first felt inclined to believe his wife and to suppose that Joseph had foully betrayed the trust reposed in his honor. In this, of course, he acted hastily, and therefore sinfully. Even from the nearest and the dearest reports affecting injuriously the characters of others should not be accepted without investigation. But that second thoughts prevailed with Potiphar, who, remembering the bad reputation of Egyptian ladies generally, and knowing something possibly of the slenderness of his own wife's virtue, as well as recalling the previous high character of Joseph, began to doubt the truth of what was alleged against his favorite, and to think it more likely that his wife lied than that Joseph sinned, has been inferred from the circumstance that Joseph was not forthwith remitted to the executioner's block, but only committed to the tower.

3. The mercy of his God. As before, Jehovah went with Joseph to the prison, and comforted him with gracious thoughts concerning his affliction, with speedy favor in the sight of his keeper, so that the severity of his confinement was considerably mitigated, and with ultimate promotion to a position of trust within the prison, the charge of all the criminals being committed to his care. And finally, the Lord made him prosperous and successful as before in all his undertakings.


Genesis 39:21

Joseph in slavery.

"But the Lord was with Joseph," &c. Men would have thought, as they looked on the Hebrew slave, that he was God-forsaken. Not so. God blessed him. This was evidenced in the character he developed. The Lord was with him.

I. DISCRETION, THE RESULT OF A SENSE OF THE DIVINE PRESENCE. He did not betray trust, or presume on the confidence placed in him, or the kind treatment he received; nor did he unwisely run into danger.

II. DILIGENCE, THE OUTCOME OF A SENSE OF THE DIVINE PRESENCE. Toll kept off much temptation. If a slave by circumstances, he will yet do what he can to benefit his master. He worked under apparently hopeless conditions.

III. DEVOUTNESS, THE CERTAIN CONSEQUENCE OF A SENSE OF THE DIVINE PRESENCE. Joseph lived as under the eye of God. Hence when special temptations came he repelled them in the Divine strength. "How can I do this great wickedness?" &c. Joseph was neither to be persecuted out of his religion nor enticed from it. This is the brightest chapter in Joseph's life. He would not sin against himself, nor against God, who was with him.—H.


Genesis 39:21

God's presence with his servants.

Joseph in slavery, yet the Lord was with him (cf. Revelation 1:9). Twice stated in this chapter. Outward prosperity is no test of God's presence (cf. Romans 5:3; 2 Corinthians 12:9). Often in times of trial God's presence is most clearly felt. When all dark below, the eye is drawn upwards. The world's good seen to be unprofitable (James 4:4). There is a sense in which God is always with all. He guides men's actions and course of life, whether they will or not. But while unbelief derives no comfort from this (Zephaniah 1:12), the knowledge of his presence gives peace to his people (Isaiah 26:3-12).

I. CHARACTER OF HIM WITH WHOM GOD WAS THUS PRESENT. A Godward mind—habitually living-as in the sight of God, though left alone (cf. Galatians 4:28). Fulfilled what his hand found to do. God's will was his rule of life. He resisted temptation (James 1:12); was faithful in the charge committed to him, though not of his own choice. Did not look upon the wrong he had suffered as excusing- him from fidelity. This faithful spirit can spring only from thorough belief in God's love and care (1 John 4:19).

II. THE BLESSING OF GOD'S PRESENCE EXTENDED TO EVERY PART OF HIS LIFE. Not merely in the fact of his being carried to Egypt (cf. Acts 23:11), but in every incident God's hand is seen. His management of Potiphar's affairs was a training for rule over Egypt. His unjust accusation was a step towards his standing before Pharaoh. His experience in prison prepared him to be the deliverer of a nation (cf. Hebrews 2:18; Hebrews 4:15). Thus God's presence is something better and higher thou merely a prosperous course. It is the certainty that everything that happens is ordered by infinite wisdom and love—is a step towards the fullness of joy (Deuteronomy 8:2). This holds good in spiritual experience not less than in temporal. A Christian is often led through times of darkness. Communion with God seems to be interrupted (Psalms 65:3; Romans 7:24). Temptation, opposition, difficulty in prayer make the soul sad. Yet the Lord is not absent; and these are all parts of the training by which he is preparing his servant for the fullness of blessing.

III. HE WITH WHOM THE LORD ABIDES (John 14:23; Revelation 3:20) IS A BLESSING TO OTHERS. So it was with Joseph. Potiphar, the jailer, Pharaoh, the Egyptian nation, were blessed through him. There is no such thing as keeping a blessing to ourselves; the very attempt destroys it as a blessing. Temporal possessions and powers, used selfishly, become vanity. They pass away, and leave no good, no joy behind. And so with spiritual good. He who has experienced the grace of God must care for others, or his own state will suffer (Proverbs 11:24). The more we partake of the mind of Christ, the more we learn that wherever he leads us, it is that we may be channels of blessing to others.—M.


Genesis 39:22

Joseph as prison warden.

"And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hands all the prisoners that were in the prison," &c. Joseph is unjustly treated and thrown into prison. Here he makes the best of circumstances. He gains the confidence of the keeper. The keeper of the State prison is glad to find one like Joseph, to whom he can delegate much toil and responsibility.

I. DUTY DISCHARGED IN A SYMPATHETIC SPIRIT. He admits many to prison, and feels for all. He sees that it is but a step from the presence-chamber of Pharaoh to a vile prison. To those who found higher places slippery, and those who found the temptations of poverty too strong, he shows his pity. His own bitter separation from friends makes him sympathetic.

II. DUTY DISCHARGED IN A CHEERFUL SPIRIT. Generally he had a smile for the prisoners. They looked for it, and responded to it. The heart can give to the sad that which is better than gold—a cheerful helpfulness. Our gloom can lay extra burdens on others.

III. DUTY DISCHARGED IN A COURTEOUS SPIRIT. He would not trample on those already fallen. He inquires even into the cause of the sadness of the prisoners, and interprets for them dreams which had perplexed them. His own dreams had made him at one time elate, but they seem as yet far from being fulfilled. Still this only leads him to be more courteous to those who may also be doomed to disappointment. The sympathy, cheerfulness, and courtesy of Joseph made him eventually prime minister of Egypt.—H.

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Genesis 39". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tpc/genesis-39.html. 1897.
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