And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Ge 40:1-8. Two State Prisoners.
1. the butler—not only the cup-bearer, but overseer of the royal vineyards, as well as the cellars; having, probably, some hundreds of people under him.
baker—or cook, had the superintendence of every thing relating to the providing and preparing of meats for the royal table. Both officers, especially the former, were, in ancient Egypt, always persons of great rank and importance; and from the confidential nature of their employment, as well as their access to the royal presence, they were generally the highest nobles or princes of the blood.
against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers; for as there were several butlers and bakers that belonged unto him, who were employed in providing wine and food for him, there was one of each who was over the rest; and as their business was to see that those under them did their work well, when they were faulty the principal officers were answerable for it: wherefore, if in this case they had not been guilty of anything criminal themselves personally, yet they might have neglected to look after those that were under them, and so were culpable, and drew upon them the wrath and resentment of their lord and sovereign.And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)2. his … officers] Lit. “his eunuchs”; see note on Genesis 37:36.Verse 2. - And Pharaoh was wroth - literally, broke forth (sc. into anger) - against two of his officers (vide Genesis 37:36) against the chief - sar: the word occurs in one of the oldest historical documents of ancient Egypt ('Inscription of Una,' line 4, sixth dynasty), meaning chief or eunuch (vide ' Records of the Past,' 2:3) - of the butlers, - an office once filled by Nehemiah in the Court of Persia (Nehemiah 1:11), and Rabshakeh (Aramaic for "chief of the cupbearers") in the Court of Assyria (2 Kings 18:17) - and against the chief of the bakers. Oriental monarchs generally had a multitude of butlers and bakers, or cupbearers and Court purveyors, the chiefs in both departments being invested with high honor, and regarded with much trust (Herod., 3:34; Xenoph., 'Cyrop.,' 1:3, 8). Genesis 40:3 like Genesis 35:13) the king's prisoners (state-prisoners) were confined. הסּהר בּית: lit., the house of enclosure, from סהר, to surround or enclose (ὀχύρωμα, lxx); the state-prison surrounded by a wall. This was a very moderate punishment. For according to Diod. Sic. (i. 78) the laws of the Egyptians were πικροὶ περὶ τῶν γυναιῶν νόμοι. An attempt at adultery was to be punished with 1000 blows, and rape upon a free woman still more severely. It is possible that Potiphar was not fully convinced of his wife's chastity, and therefore did not place unlimited credence in what she said.
(Note: Credibile est aliquod fuisse indicium, quo Josephum innocentem esse Potiphari constiteret; neque enim servi vita tanti erat ut ei parceretur in tam gravi delicto. Sed licet innocuum, in carcere tamen detinebat, ut uxoris honori et suo consuleret (Clericus). The chastity of Egyptian women has been in bad repute from time immemorial (Diod. Sic. i. 59; Herod. ii. 111). Even in the middle ages the Fatimite Hakim thought it necessary to adopt severe measures against their immorality (Bar-Hebraei, chron. p. 217), and at the present day, according to Burckhardt (arab. Sprichwrter, pp. 222, 227), chastity is "a great rarity" among women of every rank in Cairo.)
But even in that case it was the mercy of the faithful covenant God, which now as before (Genesis 37:20.) rescued Joseph's life.
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