And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river.
Verse 1. - And it came to pass at the end of two full years (literally, two years of days, i.e. two complete years from the commencement of Joseph's incarceration, or more probably after the butler's liberation), that Pharaoh - on the import of the term vide Genesis 12:15. Under what particular monarch Joseph came to Egypt is a question of much perplexity, and has been variously resolved by modern Egyptologists in favor of -
1. Osirtasen I., the founder of the twelfth dynasty, a prosperous and successful sore-reign, whose name appears on a granite obelisk at Heliopolis (Wilkinson, 'Ancient Egyptians,' 1:30, ed. 1878).
2. Assa, or Assis, the fifth king of the fifteenth dynasty of Shepherd kings (Stuart Peele in Smith's 'Bible Dict.,' art. Egypt).
3. Apophis, a Shepherd king of the fifteenth dynasty, whom all the Greek authorities agree in mentioning as the patron of Joseph (Osburn, 'Menu-mental History,' vol. 2. Genesis 2; Thornley Smith, 'Joseph and his Times,' p. 42).
4. Thothmes III., a monarch of the eighteenth dynasty (Stanley Leathes in Kitto s 'Cyclopedia,' p. 744).
5. Rameses III., the king of Memphis, a ruler belonging to the twentieth dynasty (Bonomi in 'The Imperial Bible Dict.,' p. 488; Sharpe's ' History of Egypt,' vol. 1. p. 35). It may assist the student to arrive at a decision with respect to these contending aspirants for the throne of Pharaoh in the time of Joseph to know that Canon Cook ('Speaker's Commentary,' vol. 1. p. 451), after an elaborate and careful as well as scholarly review of the entire question, regards it as at least "a very probable conjecture" that the Pharaoh of Joseph was Amenemha III., "who is represented on the lately-discovered table of Abydos as the last great king of all Egypt in the ancient empire (the last of the twelfth dynasty), and as such receiving divine honors from his descendant Rameses" - dreamed. "For the third time are dreams employed as the agencies of Joseph's history: they first foreshadow his illustrious future; they then manifest that the Spirit of God had not abandoned him even in the abject condition of a slave and a prisoner; and lastly they are made the immediate forerunners of his greatness" (Kalisch.). And, behold, he stood by the river - i.e. upon the banks of the Nile, the term יֵלֺאר (an Egyptian word signifying great river or canal, in the Memphitic dialect yaro, in the Sahidic yero) being used almost exclusively in Scripture for the Nile (Exodus 1:22; Exodus 2:3; Exodus 7:15; Gesenius, 'Lex., p. 326). This was the common name for the Nile among the Egyptians, the sacred being Hapi (Canon Cook in 'Speaker's Commentary,' p. 485).
And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favoured kine and fatfleshed; and they fed in a meadow.
Verse 2. - And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well-favored kine and fat-fleshed. According to Plutarch and Clement of Alexandria, the heifer was regarded by the ancient Egyptians as a symbol of the earth, agriculture, and the nourishment derived therefrom. It was therefore natural that the succession of seven prosperous years should be represented by seven thriving cows. That they appeared ascending from the river is explained by the circumstance that the Nile by its annual inundations is the cause of Egypt's fertility (cf. Havernick, 'Introd.,' 21). A hymn to the Nile, composed by Euna (according to the generality of Egyptologers a contemporary of Moses), and translated from a papyrus in the British Museum by Canon Cook (who ascribes to it an earlier date than the nineteenth dynasty), describes the Nile as "overflowing the gardens created by Ra giving life to all animals....watering the land without ceasing... Lover of food, bestower of corn... Bringer of food! Great Lord of provisions! Creator of all good things!" (vide 'Records of the Past,' vol. 4. pp. 107, 108); And they fed in a meadow - בָּאָחוּ, ἐν τῷ Αχει, (LXX.), literally, in the Nile or reed grass. The word XXX appears to be an Egyptian term descriptive of any herbage growing in a stream. It occurs only here and in ver. 18, and Job 8:11.
And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill favoured and leanfleshed; and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river.
Verse 3. - And, behold, seven other kind came up after them out of the river, ill. favored and lean-fleshed. The second seven cows, "evil to look upon," i.e. bad in appearance, and "thin (beaten small, dakoth, from dakak, to crush or beat small) of flesh," also proceeded from the river, since a failure in the periodical overflow of the Nile was the usual cause of scarcity and famine in Egypt. And stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river. The use of the term lip, שָׂפָה, for brink, common enough in Hebrew (Genesis 22:17; Exodus 14:30; 1 Kings 5:9), occurs also in a papyrus of the nineteenth dynasty, "I sat down by the lip of the river," which appears to suggest the impression that the verse in the text was written by one who was equally familiar with both languages (Canon Cook in 'Speaker s Commentary,' p. 485).
And the ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven well favoured and fat kine. So Pharaoh awoke.
Verse 4. - And the ill-favored and lean fleshed kine did eat up the seven we favored and fat kine - without there being any effect to show that they had eaten them (ver. 21). So (literally, and) Pharaoh awoke.
And he slept and dreamed the second time: and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good.
Verse 5. - And he slept and dreamed the second time (that same night): and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank (i.e. fat) and good. This clearly pointed to the corn of the Nile valley, the triticum compositum, which Bears seven ears upon one stalk. The assertion of Herodotus, that the Egyptians counted it a disgrace to live on wheat and barley (2:36), Wilkinson regards as incorrect, since "both wheat and barley are noticed in Lower Egypt long before Herodotus' time (Exodus 9:31, 32), and the paintings of the Thebaid prove that they were grown extensively in that part of the country; they were among the offerings in the temples; and the king, at his coronation, cutting some ears of wheat, afterwards offered to the gods as the staple production of Egypt, shows how great a value was set on a grain which Herodotus would lead us to suppose was held in abhorrence" (Rawlinson's 'Hexodotus,' vol. 2. p. 49).
And, behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them.
Verse 6. - And, behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them - literally, burnt up of the east, קָדִים being put poetically for the fuller רוּחַ קָדִים. It has been urged that this displays a gross ignorance of the nature, of the climate in Egypt (Bohlen), since a wind directly east is rare in Egypt, and when it does occur is not injurious to vegetation; but, on the other hand, it is open to reply
(1) that direct east winds may be rare in Egypt, but so are dearth and famine such as that described in the narrative equally exceptional (Kalisch);
(2) that the Hebrews having only names to describe the four principal winds, the kadirn might comprise any wind blowing from an easterly direction (Hengstenberg); and
(3) that the south-east wind, "blowing in the months of March and April, is one of the most injurious winds, and of longest continuance" (Havernick). Hengstenberg quotes Ukert as saying, "As long as the south-east wind continues, doors and windows are closed; but the fine dust penetrates everywhere; everything dries up; wooden vessels warp and crack. The thermometer rises suddenly from 16° 20°, up to 30° 36°, and even 38°, Reaumur. This wind works destruction upon everything. The grass withers so that it entirely perishes if this wind blows long" ('Egypt and the Books of Moses,' p. 10).
And the seven thin ears devoured the seven rank and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, it was a dream.
Verse 7. - And the seven thin ears devoured the seven rank (i.e. fat) and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, it was a dream - manifestly of the same import as that which had preceded. The dream was doubled because of its certainty and nearness (ver. 32).
And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh.
Verse 8. - And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; or, rather, his mind was agitated, ἐταράχθη ἡ χυχὴ αὐτοῦ (LXX.), pavore perterritus (Vulgate), the ruach being the seat of the senses, affections, and emotions of various kinds (cf. Daniel 2:1; Daniel 4:5, 19) - and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, - the חַרְטֻמִּים, from חָרַט (unused), to engrave, whence חֶרֶט, a stylus (Gesenius), or from חוּר, to see or explain, and טוּם, to conceal, i.e. he who explains hidden or mysterious things (Kalisch), were sacred scribes, ἱερογραμματεῖς, belonging to the priestly caste, who were skilled in making and deciphering the hieroglyphics. Besides figuring in the Court of Pharaoh (Exodus 7:11, 22; Exodus 8:3; Exodus 14:15) in the time of Moses, they recur again at a later period in that of the Babylonian monarch Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 1:20; Daniel 2:2) - and all the wise men thereof. The חֲכָמִים, from חָכַם, the primary idea of which is that of judging (Gesenius), were persons capable of judging, hence persons endowed with pre-eminent abilities for the prosecution of the ordinary business of life, the cultivation of the arts and sciences, the practice of divination, the interpreting of dreams, and other kindred occupations. They were the sages of the nation. And Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh. The magicians of Egypt were not so conceited as their Brethren in Babylon afterwards showed themselves to be, Daniel 2:4 (Lawson). That they could not explain the dream, though couched in the symbolical language of the time, was no doubt surprising; but "the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God" (1 Corinthians 2:11), and they to whom the Spirit doth reveal them (1 Corinthians 2:10).
Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh, saying, I do remember my faults this day:
Verses 9-13. - Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh, saying, I do remember my faults this day: - literally, my faults (sc. am) remembering today; but whether he understood by his faults his ingratitude to Joseph or his offense against Pharaoh commentators are not agreed, though the latter seems the more probable - Pharaoh was wroth with his servants, - literally, broke out against them (vide Genesis 40:2) - and put me in ward in the captain of the guard's house, - literally, put me in custody of the house of the captain of the slaughterers (cf. Genesis 40:3) - both me and the chief baker: and we dreamed a dream in one night, I and he; we dreamed each man according to the interpretation of his dream (vide Genesis 40:5). And there was there with us a young man, a Hebrew, servant to the captain of the guard (vide Genesis 37:36); and we told him (so. our dreams), and he interpreted to us our dreams (vide Genesis 40:12, 13, 18, 19); to each man according to his dream he did interpret. And it came to pass, as he interpreted to us, so it was; me he (not Pharaoh, but Joseph) restored unto mine office, and him he hanged (vide Genesis 40:21, 22).
Pharaoh was wroth with his servants, and put me in ward in the captain of the guard's house, both me and the chief baker:
And we dreamed a dream in one night, I and he; we dreamed each man according to the interpretation of his dream.
And there was there with us a young man, an Hebrew, servant to the captain of the guard; and we told him, and he interpreted to us our dreams; to each man according to his dream he did interpret.
And it came to pass, as he interpreted to us, so it was; me he restored unto mine office, and him he hanged.
Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh.
Verse 14. - Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily (literally, caused him to run) out of the dungeon (vide Genesis 40:15): and he shaved himself, - this was exactly in accordance with Egyptian custom (Herod. 2:36). Wilkinson states that "the custom of shaving the head as well as beard was not confined to the priests in Egypt, but was general among all classes" (Rawlinson's 'Herodotus,' vol. 2. p. 49; cf. 'Ancient Egyptians,' vol. 2. pp. 330-332. ed. 1878). That the verb is not more exactly defined by a terra Cellowing, such as the head (Numbers 6:9), the beard (2 Samuel 10:4), but stands alone (the only instance of its intransitive use), appears to suggest that the writer was familiar with the practice of shaving (vide Havernick, 'Introd.,'§ 21) - and changed his raiment, - as required by the customs of Egypt (vide Hengstenberg's 'Egypt,' p. 30; cf. Genesis 35:2) - and came (or went) in unto Pharaoh.
And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it.
Verse 15. - And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it (literally, and interpreting it there is no one): and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it - literally, I have heard of thee, saying, thou hearest a dream to interpret it.
And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.
Verse 16. - And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me (literally, not I): God - Elohim (cf. Genesis 40:8) - shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace - literally, shall answer the peace of Pharaoh, i.e. what shall be for the welfare of Pharaoh. The rendering Ανευ τοῦ θεοῦ οὐκ ἀποκριθησεται τὸ σωτήριον Φαραιό (LXX.), though giving the sense, fails in accuracy of translation.
And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, In my dream, behold, I stood upon the bank of the river:
Verses 17-21. - Pharaoh then relates his dreams in substantially the same terms as those in which they have already been recited, only adding concerning the lean kine that they were (ver. 19) such as I never saw (literally, I never saw such as these) in all the land of Egypt for badness: and that (ver. 21) when they had eaten them (i.e. the good kine) up, it could not be known they had eaten them; - literally, and they (i.e. the good kine) went into the interior parts, i.e. the stomach (of the bad kine), and it was not known that they had gone into the interior parts - but they (the bad kine) were still ill-favored, as at the beginning - literally, and their appearance was bad as in the beginning, i.e. previously; and concerning the thin and blasted ears, that they were also (ver. 23) withered - צְנֻמות, from צָנַם, to be hard, meaning either barren (Gesenius), dry (Furst), or sapless (Kalisch) - a word which the LXX. and the Vulgate both omit. Onkelos explains by XXX, flowering, but not fruiting; and Dathius renders by jejunae. After which he (i.e. Pharaoh) informs Joseph that the professional interpreters attached to the Court (the chartummim, or masters of the occult sciences) could give him no idea of its meaning.
And, behold, there came up out of the river seven kine, fatfleshed and well favoured; and they fed in a meadow:
And, behold, seven other kine came up after them, poor and very ill favoured and leanfleshed, such as I never saw in all the land of Egypt for badness:
And the lean and the ill favoured kine did eat up the first seven fat kine:
And when they had eaten them up, it could not be known that they had eaten them; but they were still ill favoured, as at the beginning. So I awoke.
And I saw in my dream, and, behold, seven ears came up in one stalk, full and good:
And, behold, seven ears, withered, thin, and blasted with the east wind, sprung up after them:
And the thin ears devoured the seven good ears: and I told this unto the magicians; but there was none that could declare it to me.
And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do.
Verse 25. - And Joseph said unto Pharaoh (the inability of the magicians to read the dream of Pharaoh was the best proof that Joseph spoke from inspiration), The dream of Pharaoh is one (i.e. the two dreams have the same significance): God hath showed Pharaoh what he is about to do (literally, what the Elohim is doing, i.e. is about to do, he causeth to be seen by Pharaoh).
The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one.
Verses 26-32. - Proceeding with the interpretation of the dream, Joseph explains to Pharaoh that the seven good kine and the seven full ears point to a succession of seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt which were already coming (ver. 29), after which there should arise seven years of famine, in which all the plenty should be forgotten in the land, and the famine should consume, or make an end of, the land (ver. 30), and the plenty should not be known in the land by reason of (literally, from the face of, used of the efficient cause of anything, hence on account of) that famine following - literally, the famine, that one, after (things have happened) so; adding (ver. 32), And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice (literally, and as for the doubling of the dream to Pharaoh twice); it is because the thing is established by God, - literally, the word(or thing spoken of) is firmly fixed, i.e. certainly decreed, by the Elohim - and God will shortly bring it to pass - literally, and hastening (is) the Elohim to do it.
And the seven thin and ill favoured kine that came up after them are seven years; and the seven empty ears blasted with the east wind shall be seven years of famine.
This is the thing which I have spoken unto Pharaoh: What God is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh.
Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt:
And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land;
And the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous.
And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.
Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt.
Verses 33-36. - Now therefore (adds Joseph, passing on to suggest measures suitable to meet the extraordinary emergency predicted) let Pharaoh look out a man discreet (נָבון, niph. part. of בִּין, intelligent, discerning), and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers (literally, let him set overseers, פְקִדִים, from פָּקַד, to look after, in hiph. to cause to look after) over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt - literally, let him fifth the land, i.e. levy. a tax upon its produce to that extent (LXX., Vulgate), which was double the annual impost exacted from Egyptian farmers, but which the unprecedented fertility of the soil enabled them to bear without complaint, if, indeed, adequate compensation was not given for the second tenth (Rosenmüller) - in the Seven plenteous years. Diodorus mentions the payment of a fifth in productive years as a primitive custom (vide Havernick, p. 219). And let them (the officers) gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and lot them keep feed in the cities (or, food in the cities, and let them keep it). And that food shall be for store (literally, something deposited) to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine - literally; and the land (i.e. the people of the land) shall not be cut off in, or by, the famine.
Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years.
And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities.
And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine.
And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants.
Verses 37, 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 27:18; Job 32:8; Proverbs 2:6; Daniel 4:8, 18; Daniel 5:11, 14; Daniel 6:3).
And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?
And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:
Verses 39, 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.
Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.
And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.
Verses 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 ('Introd.,' p. 60), 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 (vide Layard, 'Nineveh and Babylon,' p. 156) - 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.,' 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 (Hengstenberg, 'Egypt and the Books of Moses,' p. 30) - gold chain about his neck (cf. Daniel 5:7, 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" (vide Wilkinson, 'Ancient Egyptians,' 2:343, ed. 1878; Hengstenberg, 'Egypt,' p. 30). 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: - אַבְרֵך, regarded by most ancient translators as a Hebrew word, an inf. abs. hiph. from בָּרַך, 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.
And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck;
And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt.
And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.
Verse 44. - And Pharaoh-said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt. Joseph's authority was to be absolute and universal.
And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.
Verse 45. - And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnath-paaneah; - an Egyptian word, of which the most accredited interpretations are χονθομφανήχ (LXX); Salva-tor Mundi (Vulgate); "the Salvation of the World," answering to the Coptic P-sote-m-ph-eneh - P the article, sots salvation, m the sign of the genitive, ph the article, and eneh the world (Furst, Jablonsky, Rosellini, and others); "the Rescuer of the World" (Gesenius); "the Prince of the Life of the World" (Brugsch); "the Food of Life," or "the Food of the Living" (Canon Cook in 'Speaker's Commentary') - and he gave him to wife - cf. the act of Rhamp-sinitus, who gave his daughter in marriage to the son of an architect on account of his cleverness (Herod., 2:121) - Asenath - another Egyptian term, rendered Ἁσενέθ (LXX.), and explained by Egyptologers to mean, "She who is of Neith, i.e. the Minerva of the Egyptians" (Gesenius, Furst), "the Worshipper of Neith" (Jablousky), "the Favorite of Neith" (Canon Cook in 'Speaker's Commentary'), though by some authorities regarded as Hebrew (Pools in Smith's ' Dictionary,' art. Joseph) - the daughter of Potipherah - Potipherah ("devoted to the sun") - Potiphar (vide Genesis 39:1). The name is very common on Egyptian monuments (Hengstenberg's 'Egypt and the Books of Moses,' p. 32) - priest - or prince (Onkelos.), as in 2 Samuel 8:18, where the word כֹּהֵן, as explained by 1 Chronicles 18:17, means a principal minister of State, though the probability is that Poti-pherah belonged to the priestly caste in Egypt - of On - or Heliopolis, Ἡλιούπολις (LXX.), the name on the monuments being ta-Ra or pa-Ra, house of the sun. "The site of Heliopolis is still marked by the massive walls that surround it, and by a granite obelisk bearing the name of Osirtasen I., of the twelfth dynasty, dating about 3900 years ago" (Wilkinson in Rawlinson's 'Herod.,' 2. p. 8). The priests attached to the temple of the sun at Heliopolis enjoyed the reputation of being the most intelligent and cultured historians in Egypt (Herod., 2:3). That a priest's daughter should have married with a foreign shepherd may, have been distasteful to the prejudices of an intolerant priesthood (Bohlen), but in the case of Asenath and Joseph it was recommended by sundry powerful considerations.
1. Though a foreign shepherd, Joseph was a descendant of Abraham, whom a former Pharaoh had recognized and honored as a prince, and ' The Story of Saneha,' a hieratic papyrus belonging to the twelfth dynasty, shows that Eastern foreigners might even become sons-in-law to the most powerful potentates under the ancient empire (vide 'Records of the Past,' vol. 6. pp. 135-150).
2. Though a foreign shepherd, Joseph was at this time grand vizier of the realm, with absolute control of the lives and fortunes of its people (vide ver. 44).
3. Though a foreign shepherd, he was obviously a favorite of Pharaoh, who, besides being monarch of the realm, was the recognized head of the priestly caste, over whom, therefore, he exercised more than a merely external authority.
4. Though a foreign shepherd Joseph had become a naturalized Egyptian, as may be gathered from Genesis 43:32. And,
5. Though a foreign shepherd, he was circumcised, which, if this rite was already observed in Egypt, and did not originate with Joseph, would certainly not prove a bar to the contemplated alliance (vide Canon Cook in 'Speaker's Commentary,' vol. 1. p. 480; Kurst, 'Hist. of Old Covenant,' § 88; Hengstenberg, 'Egypt and the Books of Moses,' pp. 32-35). As to the probability of Joseph consenting to become son-in-law to a heathen priest, it may suffice to remember that though marriage with idolaters was expressly forbidden by patriarchal commandment (Genesis 24:3; Genesis 28:1), and afterwards by Mosaic statute (Genesis 34:16; Deuteronomy 7:3), it was sometimes contracted for what seemed a perfectly adequate reason, viz., the furtherance of the Divine purposes concerning Israel, and apparently too with the Divine sanction (cf. the cases of Moses, Exodus 2:21, and Esther, Esther 2:16); that Joseph may have deemed the religion of Egypt, especially in its early symbolical forms, as perfectly compatible with a pure monotheistic worship, or, if he judged it idolatrous, he may both have secured for himself complete toleration and have felt himself strong enough to resist its seductions; that Asenath may have adopted her husband's faith, though on this, of course, nothing can be affirmed; and lastly, that the narrator of this history pronounces no judgment on the moral quality of Joseph's conduct in consenting to this alliance, which, though overruled for good, may have been, considered in itself, a sin. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt in the discharge of his vice-regal duties.
And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt.
Verse 46. - And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt - literally, a son of thirty years in his standing before Pharaoh. If, therefore, he had been three years in prison (Genesis 40:4; Genesis 41:1), he must have served for ten years in the house of Potiphar. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh (in the performance of his official duties), and went throughout all the land of Egypt - super-intending the district overseers.
And in the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth by handfuls.
Verses 47, 48. - And in the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth by handfuls (i.e. abundantly). And he (Joseph, through his subordinates) gathered up all the food (i.e. all the portions levied) of the seven years, which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities: - men bringing corn into granaries appear upon the monuments at Beni-hassan (Wilkinson, 'Ancient Egyptians,' vol. 1. p. 371, ed. 1878) - the food of the field, which was round about every city (literally, the food of the field of the city, which was in its environs), laid he up in the same (literally, in the midst of it).
And he gathered up all the food of the seven years, which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities: the food of the field, which was round about every city, laid he up in the same.
And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for it was without number.
Verse 49. - And Joseph gathered (or heaped up) corn as the sand of the sea, - an image of great abundance (cf. Genesis 32:12) - very much, until he left numbering (i.e. writing, or keeping a record of the number of bushels); for it was without number. "In a tomb at Eilethya a man is represented whose business it evidently was to take account of the number of bushels. Which another man, acting under him, measures. The inscription is as follows "The writer or registrar of bushels - Thutnofre," (Hengstenberg, 'Egypt and the Books of Moses,' p. 36).
And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him.
Verses 50, 51. - And unto Joseph wore born two sons before the years of famine came, (literally, before the coming of the gears of famine), which Asenath the daughter of Poti-pherah priest of On bare unto him. And Joseph called, the name of the firstborn Manasseh ("Forgetting," from nashah, to forget): For God (Elohim; Joseph not at the moment thinking of his son's birth in its relations to the theocratic kingdom, but simply in its connection with the overruling providence of God which had been so signally illustrated in his elevation, from a position of obscurity in Canaan to such conspicuous honor in the land of the Pharaohs), said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house. Not absolutely (Calvin, who censures Joseph on this account, vix tamen in totem potest excusari oblivio paternae domus), as events subsequently proved, but relatively, the pressure of his former affliction being relieved by his present happiness, and the loss of his father's house in some degree compensated by the building of a house for himself.
And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house.
And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.
Verse 52. - And the name of the second called he Ephraim: - "Double Fruitfulness" (Keil), "Double Land" (Gesenius), "Fruit." (Furst) - For God (Elohim) hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction. This language shows that Joseph had not quite forgotten "all his toil."
And the seven years of plenteousness, that was in the land of Egypt, were ended.
Verses 53, 54. - And the seven years of plenteousness, that was in the land of Egypt, were ended. And the seven years of dearth began to come, - the most complete parallel to Joseph's famine was that which occurred in A.D. -1071, in the reign of Fatimee Khaleefeh, El-Mustansir-bilh, when the people ate corpses and animals that died of themselves; when a dog was sold for five, a cat for three, and a bushel of wheat for twenty, deenars (vide Smith's 'Bib. Dict.,' art. Famine) - according as Joseph had said (thus confirming Joseph's character as a prophet): and the dearth was in all lands; - i.e. in all the adjoining countries, and notably in Palestine (vide Genesis 42:1, 2) - but in all the land of Egypt there was bread.
And the seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said: and the dearth was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread.
And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do.
Verse 55. - And when (literally, and) all the land of Egypt was famished (literally, and), the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: - cf. the famine in Samaria (2 Kings 6:26) - and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith So you, do.
And the famine was over all the face of the earth: And Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt.
Verses 56, 57. - And the famine was over all the face of the earth (vide supra, ver. 54): And Joseph opened all the storehouses, - literally, all wherein was, i.e. all the magazines that had grain in them. The granaries of Egypt are represented on the monuments. "In the tomb of Amenemha at Beni-hassan there is the painting of a great storehouse, before whose door lies a great heap of grain already winnowed. Near by stands the bushel with which it is measured, and the registrar who takes the account" (Hengstenberg's 'Egypt and the Books of Moses,' p. 36) - and sold unto the Egyptians (cf. Proverbs 2:26); - and the famine waxed sore (literally, became strong) in the land of Egypt. A remarkable inscription from the tomb at Eileythia of Barn, which Brugsch ('Histoire d'Egypte,' second ed., p. 174, seqq.) assigns to the latter part of the seventeenth dynasty, mentions a dearth of several years in Egypt ("A famine having broken out during many years, I gave corn to the town during each famine"), which that distinguished Egyptologer identifies with the famine of Joseph under Apophis, the shepherd king (vide ' Encyclopedia Britannica,' ninth edition, art. Egypt); but, this, according to Bunsen ('Egypt's Place, 3:334), is rather to be detected in a dearth of several years which occurred in the time of Osirtasen I., and which is mentioned in an inscription at Beni-hassan, recording the fact that during its prevalence food was supplied by Amenee, the governor of a district of Upper Egypt (Smith's' Dict.,' art. Joseph). The character of Chnumhotep (a near relative and favorite of Osirtasen I., and his immediate successor), and the recorded events of his government, as described in the Beni-hassan monuments, also remind one of Joseph: - "he (i.e. Chnumhotep) injured no little child; he oppressed no widow; he detained for his own purpose no fisherman; took from his work no shepherd; no overseer's men were taken. There was no beggar in his days; no one starved in his time. When years of famine occurred he ploughed all the lands of the district, producing abundant food; no one starved in it; he treated the widow as a woman with a husband to protect her" (vide 'Speaker's Commentary,' vol. 1. p. 450). And all countries (i.e. people from all the adjoining lands) came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because the famine was so sore in all lands.
And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.