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Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, [1834], at

Genesis Chapter 39

- Joseph in Potiphar's House

According to our reckoning, Perez and Zerah were born when Judah was in his twenty-eighth year, and therefore, Joseph in his twenty-fourth. Here, then, we go back seven years to resume the story of Joseph.

Gen 39:1-6

Joseph fares well with his first master. "Potiphar." This is a racapitulation of the narrative in Gen. 37: "The Lord;" the God of covenant is with Joseph. "In the house." Joseph was a domestic servant. "And his master saw." The prosperity that attended all Joseph's doings was so striking as to show that the Lord was with him. "Set him over" - made him overseer of all that was in his house. "The Lord blessed the Mizrite's house." He blesses those who bless his own Gen 12:3. "Beautiful in form and look" Gen 29:17. This prepares the way for the following occurrence.

Gen 39:7-10

Joseph resists the daily solicitations of his master's wife to lie with her. "None greater in this house than I." He pleads the unreserved trust his master had reposed in him. He is bound by the law of honor, the law of chastity (this great evil), and the law of piety (sin against God). Joseph uses the common name of God in addressing this Egyptian. He could employ no higher pleas than the above.

Gen 39:11-18

"At this day," the day on which the occurrence now to be related took place. "To do his business." He does not come in her way except at the call of duty. He hath brought in. She either does not condescend, or does not need to name her husband. "A Hebrew to mock us." Her disappointment now provokes her to falsehood as the means of concealment and revenge. A Hebrew is still the only national designation proper to Joseph Gen 14:13. Jacob's descendants had not got beyond the family. The term Israelite was therefore, not yet in use. The national name is designedly used as a term of reproach among the Egyptians Gen 43:32. "To mock us," - to take improper liberties, not only with me, but with any of the females in the house. "I cried with a loud voice." This is intended to be the proof of her innocence Deu 22:24, Deu 22:27. "Left his garments by me;" not in her hand, which would have been suspicious.

Gen 39:19-23

Her husband believes her story and naturally resents the supposed unfaithfulness of his slave. His treatment of him is mild. He puts him in ward, probably to stand his trial for the offence. The Lord does not forsake the prisoner. He gives him favor with the governor of the jail. The same unlimited trust is placed in him by the governor as by his late master.

Next: Genesis Chapter 40