Genesis (Part 187)

Welcome back to my study/review of Genesis. If you missed the previous parts of this study, you can find them HERE.

Genesis 41:37-45

37 This proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. 38 And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” 39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. 40 You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” 41 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck. 43 And he made him ride in his second chariot. And they called out before him, “Bow the knee!” Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt. 44 Moreover, Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no one shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” 45 And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphenath-paneah. And he gave him in marriage Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On. So Joseph went out over the land of Egypt.


Joseph is elevated over the land of Egypt. This might initially seem like a large jump up, but in addition to the interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams, we should also remember that Joseph has been successfully administering the jail for a couple of years. Prior to that, he was over Potiphar’s household. It is likely that Potiphar himself has shared all of this with Pharaoh. From The Pulpit Commentaries:

Genesis 41:37Genesis 41:38

And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants. The advice tendered recommended itself to the-king and his ministers. And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? The Ruach Elohim, as understood by Pharaoh, meant the sagacity and intelligence of a deity (cf. Numbers 27:18Job 32:8Proverbs 2:6Daniel 4:8Daniel 4:18Daniel 5:11Daniel 5:14Daniel 6:3).

From verse 38:

God = אֱלֹהִים ʼĕlôhîym, el-o-heem’; plural of H433; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative:—angels, × exceeding, God (gods) (-dess, -ly), × (very) great, judges, × mighty.

spirit = אֱלֹהִים ʼĕlôhîym, el-o-heem’; plural of H433; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative:—angels, × exceeding, God (gods) (-dess, -ly), × (very) great, judges, × mighty.

Ellicott’s Bible Commentary also includes a note concerning this “spirit of God” phrase in verse 38:

(38) In whom the Spirit of God is.—Joseph from the first declared that he neither claimed for himself, nor possessed any art of divination, but that “Elohim would answer (that which would be for) the peace of Pharaoh” (Genesis 41:16). And not only does Pharaoh now recognise the truth of Joseph’s words, but sees also in him the instrument by which Elohim had spoken. But besides the interpretation of the dreams, Joseph had given the king wise and prudent advice, and he justly felt that one so gifted by God, and so intelligent in counsel, was the person best fitted to carry Egypt through the years of trouble in store for her.

Continuing from here again in The Pulpit Commentaries:

Genesis 41:39Genesis 41:40

And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as (literally, after) God (Elohim) hath showed thee (literally, hath caused thee to know) all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled—literally, according to thy mouth shall all my people dispose themselves, i.e. they shall render obedience to thy commands (LXX; Vulgate, Onkelos, Saadias, Pererius, Dathius, Rosenmüller, Keil, Kalisch, Lange, Murphy, and others); though by many competent authorities (Calvin, Schultens, Knobel, Ainsworth, Gesenius, Furst, Wordsworth, et alii) the rendering is preferred, “upon thy mouth shall all my people kiss,” against which, however, is the fact that not even then were governors accustomed to be kissed on the lips by their subjects in token of allegiance. The suggestion that the verb should be taken in the sense of “arm themselves,” as in 2 Chronicles 17:17 (Aben Ezra), does not meet with general acceptance. Only in the throne (or, more accurately, only as to the throne) will I be greater than thou.

In addition, here is Ellicott’s similar note coverin verse 40:

(40) Over my house.—The chief over the palace was in ancient times next in power to the sovereign, and under the Frankish kings the “major domi,” or mayor of the palace, first usurped the whole royal power, and finally Pepin, the son of Charles Martel, took the name of king as well as the reality.

According unto thy word shall all my people be ruled.—The general sense is easy, namely that all the people of Egypt should obey Joseph’s orders, but the translation of the phrase is difficult. The ordinary meaning of the verb is to kiss, and the translation would then be And on thy mouth shall all my people kiss, that is, they shall do thee homage (1 Samuel 10:1Psalms 2:12). The versions seem to have taken this sense, though they translate very loosely “shall obey thee;” or shall receive judgment at thy mouth;” or “shall be governed by thee.” As however in 1 Chronicles 12:22 Chronicles 17:17Psalms 78:9, the verb is used of bearing arms, Aben-Ezra translates “shall arm themselves,” and supposes that Joseph was made commander-in-chief. Others, again, form the verb used here from the same root as that which would give meshek in Genesis 15:2 the meaning of “running about,” and translate at thy mouth, that is, according to thy command, shall all my people busy themselves. The first is the most natural and probable rendering.

In the throne.—Heb., as to the throne, in all that concerns my royal rank, dignity, and rights.

Both commentaries make note of the strange and difficult translation found in verse 40. I’ll break it down word-by-word here below:

according = עַל ʻal, al; properly, the same as H5920 used as a preposition (in the singular or plural often with prefix, or as conjunction with a particle following); above, over, upon, or against (yet always in this last relation with a downward aspect) in a great variety of applications:—above, according to(-ly), after, (as) against, among, and, × as, at, because of, beside (the rest of), between, beyond the time, × both and, by (reason of), × had the charge of, concerning for, in (that), (forth, out) of, (from) (off), (up-) on, over, than, through(-out), to, touching, × with.

to your command = פֶּה peh, peh; from H6284; the mouth (as the means of blowing), whether literal or figurative (particularly speech); specifically edge, portion or side; adverbially (with preposition) according to:—accord(-ing as, -ing to), after, appointment, assent, collar, command(-ment), × eat, edge, end, entry, file, hole, × in, mind, mouth, part, portion, × (should) say(-ing), sentence, skirt, sound, speech, × spoken, talk, tenor, × to, two-edged, wish, word.

all = כֹּל kôl, kole; or (Jeremiah 33:8) כּוֹל kôwl; from H3634; properly, the whole; hence, all, any or every (in the singular only, but often in a plural sense):—(in) all (manner, (ye)), altogether, any (manner), enough, every (one, place, thing), howsoever, as many as, (no-) thing, ought, whatsoever, (the) whole, whoso(-ever).

my people = עַם ʻam, am; from H6004; a people (as a congregated unit); specifically, a tribe (as those of Israel); hence (collectively) troops or attendants; figuratively, a flock:—folk, men, nation, people.

shall do homage = נָשַׁק nâshaq, naw-shak’; a primitive root (identical with H5400, through the idea of fastening up; compare H2388H2836); to kiss, literally or figuratively (touch); also (as a mode of attachment), to equip with weapons:—armed (men), rule, kiss, that touched.

Joseph – stripped of his coat by his brothers, and sold into slavery – is lifted from slavery and adorned in a fine coat by Pharaoh. More from The Pulpit Commentaries:

Genesis 41:41-43

And Pharaoh said unto Joseph. See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt. This was the royal edict constituting Joseph grand vizier or prime minister of the empire: the formal installation in office followed. And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand,—the use of a signet-ring by the monarch, which Bohlen admits to be in accordance with the accounts of classic authors, has recently received a remarkable illustration by the discovery at Koujunjik, the site of the ancient Nineveh, of a seal impressed from the bezel of a metallic finger-ring, two inches long by one wide, and bearing the image, name, and titles of the Egyptian king Sabaco—and put it upon Joseph’s hand (thus investing him with regal authority), and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen,—שֵׁשׁ, βυσσίνη (LXX), byssus, so called from its whiteness (probably a Hebrew imitation of an Egyptian word), was the fine linen of Egypt, the material of which the peculiar dress of the priestly caste was constructed: “vestes ex gossypio sacerdotibus AEgypti gratissimae (Pliny, ‘Nat. Hist.,’ Genesis 19:1). Herodotus (2:81) agrees with Pliny in affirming the priestly costume to have been of linen, and not of wool—and put a—literally, the, the article showing that it was so done in accordance with a common custom—gold chain about his neck (cf. Daniel 5:7Daniel 5:29). This was usually worn by persons of distinction, and appears in the monuments as a royal ornament; in the Benihassan sepulchral representations, a slave being exhibited as bearing one of them, with the inscription written over it, “Necklace of Gold”. And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had;—”which is another genuine Egyptian custom, for on the monuments the king constantly appears in his war-chariot” (Havernick);—and they cried before him, Bow the knee:—אַבְרֵךְ, regarded by most ancient translators as a Hebrew word, an inf. abs. hiph. from בָּרַךְ, meaning bow the knee (Vulgate, Aquila, Origen, Kimchi), is most probably an Egyptian word either altered by the writer (Gesenius) or pointed by the Masorites (Keil) to resemble Hebrew, and signifying “bow the head ‘ (Gesenius), “bend the knee” (Furst), “Governor or Viceroy” (Kalisch), “rejoice thou” (Canon Cook in ‘Speaker’s Commentary’), “Pure Prince” (Osburn), “Robed by the king” (Forster)—and he made him ruler—literally, and he set Aim (by the foregoing acts)—over all the land of Egypt.

Ellicott provides a lengthy note concerning Joseph’s new name, his new wife, and other issues from verse 45:

(45) Zaphnath-paaneah.—This word also is Egyptian, and, fortunately, there is no Hebrew word of similar sound to suggest a false meaning. Canon Cook shows that it means “food of life,” or “food of the living.” The LXX. have Psonthom-phanek, which Jerome, on the authority of the Jews in Egypt, translates “saviour of the world.” By “the world,” would be meant the living, as in Canon Cook’s explanation, which, in the sense of “he who feeds the world,” or “the living,” is the best exposition yet given. There is no authority for the supposition that the name means “revealer of secrets.”

Asenath.—Án Egyptian word signifying the “favourite of Neith,” the Egyptian Minerva.

Potipherah.—See Note on Genesis 39:1.

On.—This is also an Egyptian word, signifying the sun, whence in Hebrew the name of this city was Bethshemesh, house of the sun; in Greek, Heliopolis; and in Latin, Oppidum Solls. It was famous for its temple of Ra, the sun, destroyed at an early period by the Persians, but still remarkable for its ruins, among which is an obelisk covered with hieroglyphics of extreme antiquity. Several of the obelisks now at Rome were brought by the emperor Caligula from this spot. It is situated about six miles north-east of Cairo.

A difficulty has been felt by some in a Hebrew shepherd being thus described as marrying the daughter of a priest of the sun; and also that Joseph, a worshipper of the One God, should ally himself with an idolater. But the elevation of a slave to high rank is not an uncommon occurrence in the East, especially as he might be of as good birth and education as his owner, slaves being obtained either by kidnapping, or by war. And a slave so raised to power, would not be likely to oppose his benefactor, nor would even a high priest refuse a daughter to the king’s favourite, especially if, as appears to have been the case, he had first been raised to the priesthood. Joseph too, would rightly regard the whole matter as providential, and though he might not know for what exact purpose, as regards his race, he was thus exalted, there was noble work for him to do in saving Egypt from perishing by famine. The narrative throughout represents him as remaining true to the religion of his family (Genesis 41:51-52Genesis 42:18Genesis 43:29Genesis 45:5Genesis 45:7-9Genesis 48:9Genesis 1:19-20Genesis 1:24), but probably, on public occasions he would be required to attend at the religious solemnities of the Egyptian gods. We must remember, however, that their worship had not degenerated as yet into the miserable idolatry of later times, and that the Egyptian creed contained much primæval truth, though in a corrupted form. Pharaoh himself, in Genesis 41:38-39, speaks as one that acknowledged a supreme God, and Joseph throughout freely used to him the name of Elohim. As for Asenath, no doubt Joseph would teach her higher views of the Deity, and make her acquainted with the religious hopes and destinies of the Abrahamic race.

The possibility, however, of a foreigner attaining to high rank in Egypt, is demonstrated by the story of Saneha, translated in Records of the Past, vol. vi., pp. 131-150. It belongs to the reign of Amenemha I., a king of the twelfth dynasty, and represents Saneha as entering Egypt in the dress of a herbseller, but in time he marries there the eldest daughter of a local king, has a large landed estate given him, “which abounded in wines more than in water,” and, finally, is sent for by King Amenemha, and raised to such high rank, as to be clad in “garments of kingly attire,” and on his going to the royal palace “the king’s children attend him, proceeding even unto the great gates.” This curious evidence, which is even a little older than the time of Joseph, proves that there is nothing unusual or improbable in his exaltation.

For a Christian who reads this note regarding Joseph, you begin to see why he is often considered a Type of Jesus Christ.

Comparison List of Joseph and Jesus
Joseph was Loved by His Father – Genesis 37:3God said about Jesus “this is my beloved son” – Matthew 3:17
Joseph’s brothers did not believe him and hated him – Genesis 37:4-5The Jews Did Not Believe in Christ – John 7:5 and they hated him – John 15:24
Joseph’s brothers rejected his right to rule – Genesis 37:8The Jewish leaders said “we will not have this man to rule over us” Luke 19:14
Joseph’s brothers conspired against him – Genesis 37:23They took counsel against Jesus Matthew 27:1
They stripped Joseph of his garments – Genesis 37:23They stripped Jesus – Matthew 27:28
Joseph was sold for silver – Genesis 37:28Jesus was sold for silver – Matthew 26:15
Everything Joseph put his hand to prospered – Genesis 39:3“… And the pleasure of the Lord prospered in his hand” – Isaiah 53:10
All things were laid into Joseph’s trust – Genesis 39:4-8God hath given all things into his hand – John 3:35
Joseph’s own brothers did not recognize him.The Jews did not recognize their Messiah
Joseph was tempted and did not sin – Genesis 39:9Jesus was tempted in all things yet was without sin – Hebrews 4:15
Joseph was bound – Genesis 39:30Jesus was bound – Matthew 27:2
Joseph was condemned with two criminals – Genesis 40:2, 3Jesus was crucified with two criminals – Luke 23:32
One criminal was given life and the other was condemned – Genesis 40:21-22)Jesus told one of the criminals “Today you shall be with me in paradise” – Luke 23:43
Joseph was trustworthy and wise – Genesis 41:39God said about Jesus “this is my beloved son in whom I well pleased” – Mark 1:11
Joseph’s brothers bowed their knee to him – Genesis 41:43“At the name of Jesus every knee will bow” – Philippians 2:10
Joseph was 30 years old – Genesis 41:46Jesus was “about 30 years old” – Luke 3:25
God planned the suffering of Joseph in advance to save many – Genesis 50:21Jesus said “God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him shall be saved” – John 3:16
Joseph was made ruler over all of Egypt – Genesis 41:42-44Jesus said “all power has been given unto me” – 8:18
Joseph married a foreign bride who shared his glory – Genesis 41:45Believers in Christ are “joint heirs” with him in his glory – Romans 8:17
Joseph was cast into a pit and then later delivered out of it – Genesis 37:24, 28When Jesus died he descended into the lower parts of the earth, and later ascended into heaven – Ephesians 4:9
Joseph was imprisoned based on false charges – Genesis 39:19, 20During the trial of Jesus false witnesses were brought in testifying against him – Mark 14:56
Joseph’s brothers later repented for what they did to him – Genesis 42:7“and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn” – Zechariah 12:10

The name Zaphnath-paaneah means “food of the living” or “food of life.” Jesus describes himself as “the bread of life” (John 6:35.)

Finding Old Testament “Types” of Christ is actually a very interesting study and all the more remarkable that those comparisons held up well to scrutiny, with many first century Jews.