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GENESIS

SECTION  SIX  - JOSEPH

JOSEPH  EXALTED
Genesis 41:37 - 41:53

JOSEPH  BECOMES  A  RULER  IN  EGYPT    Genesis 41:37-57 

Pharaoh’s people were accustomed to prosperity, with meat and bread in abundance. In fact, they provided food for export to many other countries as well. How, then, would they react under famine conditions? Would they blame him? Would they lose faith in their gods? Would revolution follow? Especially if this Pharaoh was a member of the hated Hyksos dynasties, thoughts such as these must have troubled him.

Even Pharaoh and his great empire were like "a drop of a bucket" (Isaiah 40:15) in relation to God’s eternal purposes, which at this point were centered in Joseph. Therefore, not only did God give Joseph the true interpretation of the dreams, but also an effective plan of action for Pharaoh.

"Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt."
Genesis 41:33

    41:33     LET  PHARAOH  LOOK  OUT  A  MAN  DISCREET  AND  WISE

Joseph continued speaking, after he had explained the events which God had revealed were coming on the land, to instruct Pharaoh in how he should prepare to meet the coming crisis. Instead of living every year on that year’s abundance, as the Egyptians had grown accustomed to doing, they would need to implement a sound program of savings- not of money but of grain.

Unfortunately, the people themselves could not be relied on to store up for the coming years of famine. Human nature being what it is, most people will spend all they earn, and more, for their immediate needs, both real and imagined. The few individuals who would indeed save for the future would be tempted to profiteer when opportunity came.

On the other hand, a central bureaucracy could easily lead to despotism and cruelty, especially if all available food supplies were in the hands of a self-seeking dictator. The key to the success of such a plan, and the survival of the nation, would be the chief administrator. The right man would be a deliverer; the wrong man could become a tyrant.

Therefore, Joseph’s first recommendation was for Pharaoh to find the right man, a man who was possessed of both keen intellect and true wisdom, a man who could with confidence be placed over the whole land of Egypt to plan its future food production and distribution systems.

Then, this chief administrator should be provided with a corps of capable and trustworthy deputies to administer his plan. It would be necessary to levy a "double tithe" on the produce of Egypt during the years of plenty. It had been shown by historians that tithing was practiced in ancient Egypt and other nations, as a form of taxes or tribute to the king; but a 20 percent levy would be very unusual, and might well be resisted, especially if enacted by an unpopular sovereign. Thus, the chief administrator of this plan would have to be skilled in diplomacy and persuasion, as well as be of unquestioned integrity himself, in order to overcome the natural reluctance of the people to such a tax. Of course, resistance would be minimized in times of prosperity; so the plan could work it if was properly carried out.

    41:36     FOOD  SHALL  BE  FOR  STORE  TO  THE  LAND

The food which was gathered in this manner should, Joseph advised, then be preserved in large storehouses constructed for this purpose. The 80 percent that the people would have left would be more than adequate to meet all their needs, as well as the need for exports, during the seven plenteous years, and the rest would probably have been wasted anyhow. The food should be kept stored and guarded in depositories in key cities throughout the land, in order to have food available in the years of famine which would eventually come.

There is no indication in Joseph’s words that he was trying to suggest himself as the administrator. Such a thought could hardly have even crossed his mind. He was not only a foreigner but a prisoner, and had never held a political office of any sort. He had neither training nor experience for such a position, and was only thirty years old. Though God had prepared Joseph for this moment, he himself had no inkling of it.

"For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another." Psalms 75:6,7

    41:38     CAN  WE  FIND  SUCH  A  ONE  AS  THIS  IS

Pharaoh and his advisors were amazed and impressed, not only with Joseph’s ability to interpret the dreams, but also with his wise counsel and, no doubt, also with his whole aspect and character. They immediately recognized that Joseph’s plan was exactly the plan which they should implement. Even though Joseph had been completely unknown to them only a few hours earlier, it was transparently clear that here was a man of unique qualities, ideally suited to administer the plan he had formulated and proposed.

IN  WHOM  THE  SPIRIT  OF  GOD  IS    Genesis 41:38 

They also recognized that he was a man of unique spiritual attributes and that, indeed, this was the real reason for his other abilities. Though they could hardly have understood the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and the filling of the Spirit, nevertheless they acknowledge that in Joseph dwelt the Spirit of God (Hebrew ruach Elohim). He had indeed "professed a good profession before many witnesses" (I Timothy 6:12).

    41:40     THOU  SHALT  BE  OVER  MY  HOUSE

Pharaoh therefore immediately appointed Joseph over his entire kingdom, second only in authority to himself. He would have full power to carry out his plan, and to enact and implement all necessary policies and regulations. Absolute obedience to Joseph would be required of all Pharaoh’s subjects.

    41:42     HIS  RING

He gave Joseph his signet ring, possession of which enabled its owner to place his seal and signature on official document of state

    41:42     FINE  LINEN

The Hebrew word comes from the Egyptian. It is the material worn by the royal family and the highest officials of the kingdom.

    41:42     A  GOLD  CHAIN

The gold collar appertaining to the office of Grand Vizier. This is another instance of the remarkable historical exactness of the Joseph narrative. ‘No ancient civilization was more distinct and unique than that of Egypt. Her customs, her language, and her system of writing were shared by no other people; and yet, at every point, the narrative reveals a thorough familiarity with Egyptian life. Peculiar Egyptian customs are also reflected in the stories; as, for example, the giving of the much prized golden collar which was bestowed upon a public servant for distinguished achievement’.

    41:43     THE  SECOND  CHARIOT

A royal procession of state was organized, with Joseph riding immediately behind Pharaoh in a chariot (remember the chariot were introduced into Egypt during the Hyksos period), only slightly less ornate than that of Pharaoh himself, (This chariot was called "chariot of the second" the King’s deputy) This meant that Joseph was now second in command in the kingdom. As he rode, men accompanying his chariot cried out to the people along the way to bow the knee to him.

    41:44     WITHOUT  THEE

Pharaoh of course made it plain that he was still the first ruler in the kingdom, but except for him, everyone in the land of Egypt must obey all Joseph commanded them to do. No one, in fact, could "move hand or foot" without Joseph’s concurrence, a figure of speech, of course, but nevertheless indicative of his absolute authority.

Was there ever a more sudden and complete change of condition in a man’s estate? It is perhaps in this more than in anything else that many expositors have seen in Joseph a type of Christ. The Lord Jesus "made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men." But, then, after humbling Himself still further and becoming obedient even unto the death of the cross, "God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow" (Philippians 2:7-10).

    41:45     ZAPH’NATH-PA’A-NE’AH.

Joseph receives a new name on his state appointment. This is both an Egyptian and a Hebrew custom. See Numbers 13:16. Egyptologists explain that Zaphenath means ‘food-man’, and Paneah, means ‘of the life,’ which stands for ‘The Chief Steward in the realm in face of Famine. These words also have been variously interpreted as "Abundance of Life," "Savior of the World," "Revealer of Secrets," "God’s Word Speaking Life," "Furnisher of Sustenance," and so on. Of course, all the above names can also be taken as descriptive of Christ Himself, of whom Joseph is presumed by many to be a type.

    ASENATH

Pharaoh next obtained a suitable wife for Joseph-suitable in the eyes of the Egyptians, that is. The girl chosen was the daughter of an Egyptian priest. The girl’s name was Asenath, which apparently indicates something like "Dedicated to Neith," Neith being the Egyptian equivalent of the goddess Minerva. Thus there is little doubt that she had been brought up in the polytheistic Egyptian religion. Her father, Potipherah (meaning essentially the same thing as Potiphar, "given by Ra, the sun-god"), was actually a prominent priest in this religious system, located at the temple at On (probably the same as Heliopolis, a city specially devoted to the sun-god). Of course some knowledge of the true God (Gen. 41:38) had continued into the Egypt of Abraham’s day and into the time of Joseph as well; so it may be that it was not as difficult for Asenath to transfer her faith from Ra (Son god) to Elohim , Jehovah (Word = Son of God).

    41:46     THIRTY  YEARS  OLD

Joseph had spent about twelve years in prison. This was the place where he was properly tempered and mellowed, however. He knew that God had prepared him and that He would continue to strengthen and guide him.

In any case, Joseph did marry her and, from all evidence, did find her to be suitable and faithful mother for his children. So far as the record goes, at least, Joseph never married any wife other then Asenath.

Note:    Joseph was also an applicator of responsibility:

1. Jacob trusted him as sheik-apparent.
2. Potiphar trusted him with his household.
3. The Egyptian jailer trusted him with all the prisoners.
4. Pharaoh trusted him with the empire and the world trusted him for food.

Joseph’s life was dominated by love:

1. First there was a true loving appreciation of God and an obedience to Him.
2. Then a genuine appreciation of his father Jacob.
3. Then to his employer Potiphar.
4. Then to the jailer.
5. Then also to Pharaoh.
6. And last but not least to his brothers.

Here is a superb example of returning good for evil. Joseph is already practicing what Christ will demand of His followers.

THE PLENTEOUS YEARS    Genesis 41:47-49 

    41:47     SEVEN  PLENTEOUS  YEARS

Just as Joseph had predicted, Egypt began to experience productivity and prosperity greater than she had ever known. Seven long years of abundance were enjoyed by the people, as the "earth brought forth by handfuls." The word here is gomets, and personifies the earth as bestowing her bounty "with full hands."

    41:48     AND  HE  GATHERED  UP  ALL  THE  FOOD (20%)

Joseph began to implement his plan, gathering up the 20 percent levy of grain throughout the land, and then installing it in the strategic storehouses that had been erected for the purpose. Perhaps in order to further assure the people that the food he was collecting was really for their own future use, he stored the grain from the fields around each city in the storehouse for that city. The levy was exacted fairly and equally everywhere, and then stored up at such points all through the land, so that no one could complain of discrimination or profiteering.

    41:49     HE  LEFT  NUMBERING

As the years moved along, the crops continued to be so abundant, and the resulting portion collected by Joseph so vast, that it finally became unnecessary, if not impossible, to keep precise records. The grains of corn were like the grains of sand in the sea, so numerous were they: quite impossible to count except possibly in units of filled storehouses. God had truly blessed the land as He had said.

JOSEPH’S SONS    Genesis 41:50-52 

    41:50     UNTO  JOSEPH  WERE  BORN  TWO  SONS

It was during this seven-year period of prosperity that two sons were born to Joseph and Asenath. Significantly it says here: "unto Joseph were born" (the Hebrew is singular!)-"the mother bore them for him": what is usually a matter of course, must be strongly emphasized in this case; for without God’s blessing and assistance these children would have never became his children-he, the only Jew in Mizraim (Egypt)-she, the daughter of an Egyptian priest-; yet these became men whose names parents of all generations throughout Jewish history used to bless their children, knowing no sweeter desire than to be blessed with children as these! Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch’s Commentary on the Torah

    41:51     MA-NAS’SHE

If Manasshe were to be translated as "forget", it would mean: he calls his first-born son Menashe "for God has made me forget all my misfortune and all my father’s house"- that would have been an act of utter heartlessness. Yet Manasshe also means "the creditor". Thus here: God has made "creditors" of my misfortune and my father’s house, in other words, what heretofore appeared to me to be the worst misfortune, has now, through Divine guidance, found a happy solution. In other words: he feels deeply indebted to his previous sad experience and the injustice inflicted upon him in his father’s house.(Gen. 50:20) Rabbi Samson Rjaphael Hirsch’s

    41:52     E’PHRA-IM

His second son was named Epdhraim ("Doubly Fruitful") in thankfulness for the manner in which God had so richly blessed him and prospered him, in the very land where he had been unjustly afflicted for so many years.

It is thus that God typically deals with believers, particularly those whom He had called to special service and fruit-bearing. First the testing, then the triumph. Thus it was also with the Lord Jesus Christ "It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him" (II Timothy 2:11,12). "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18). Even if one’s entire life is spent in suffering and rejection, in the name of Christ, he can have confidence that all is in preparation for a great work for the Lord in the ages to come, following the resurrection. "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes……..And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him……and they shall reign for ever and ever" (Rev. 21:4; 22:3,5).

GOD’S  PLAN…JOSEPH’S  BROTHERS  COME  FOR CORN (1st Appearing)    Genesis 42:1-38

    41:54     AND  THE  SEVEN  YEARS  OF  DEARTH  BEGAN  TO  COME

Finally, exactly as Joseph had said, the years of plenty came to an end. The people had grown accustomed to having all they needed, with much surplus left over, and probably were taken quite by surprise that such prosperity could not be regarded as a permanent right which they had somehow acquired by virtue of being residents of Egypt.

The story of Joseph in Egypt, if nothing else, should warn us that the blessings of prosperity come from the Lord and can as easily be removed by the Lord, as He wills. "….thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land." (Job 1:10) See Job 1:13-19 If this happened to us, what would our response be?  This is what Job said, "...the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1:21).

    41:54     BUT  IN  ALL  THE  LAND  OF  EGYPT  THERE  WAS  BREAD

Had not Joseph prepared against the day of adversity, not only for himself but for the whole land, no doubt most of the people would soon have been reduced to abject poverty and even starvation. Eventually the famine was due to affect even the land of Canaan and the family of Jacob.

If Manasshe were to be translated as "forget", it would mean: he calls his first-born son Menashe "for God has made me forget all my misfortune and all my father’s house"- that would have been an act of utter heartlessness. Yet Manasshe also means "the creditor". Thus here: God has made "creditors" of my misfortune and my father’s house, in other words, what heretofore appeared to me to be the worst misfortune, has now, through Divine guidance, found a happy solution. In other words: he feels deeply indebted to his previous sad experience and the injustice inflicted upon him in his father’s house.(Gen. 50:20) Rabbi Samson Rjaphael Hirsch’s

    41:52     E’PHRA-IM

His second son was named Epdhraim ("Doubly Fruitful") in thankfulness for the manner in which God had so richly blessed him and prospered him, in the very land where he had been unjustly afflicted for so many years.

It is thus that God typically deals with believers, particularly those whom He had called to special service and fruit-bearing. First the testing, then the triumph. Thus it was also with the Lord Jesus Christ "It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him" (II Timothy 2:11,12). "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18). Even if one’s entire life is spent in suffering and rejection, in the name of Christ, he can have confidence that all is in preparation for a great work for the Lord in the ages to come, following the resurrection. "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes……..And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him……and they shall reign for ever and ever" (Rev. 21:4; 22:3,5).

 

Back to "Potiphar"          Forward to "Joseph and His Brothers"

 


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