Genesis 39:1-6

1 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there.

The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.

And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand.

So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority.

So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had in the house and in the field.

Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate. Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.

[Many] scholars believe that [Joseph’s time in Egypt] was during the reign of the Hyksos kings in Egypt. They were foreign invaders, probably at least partially of Semitic stock, who came from the East and conquered Egypt according to the standard chronology, about 1720 B.C. They were also called the “Shepherd Kings.” Many believe that it was because of their Semitic origin that the rules of Egypt in Joseph’s day treated the children of Israel so well when Jacob and his family moved to Egypt. The Hyksos were expelled from Egypt prior to Moses’ time, so that the pharaoh of the new dynasty “knew not Joseph,” and soon began to persecute the Hebrew “relatives” of the Hyksos. While this general background and its inferences may be correct, they should not be regarded as firmly established. — Morris, page 558.


Potiphar, to whom Joseph was sold, was captain of Pharaoh’s bodyguard, and also probably in charge of political executions ordered by Pharaoh. He is also called an “officer” of Pharaoh, the Hebrew word being saris, meaning “eunuch,” or “chamberlain.” It was evidently customary in ancient pagan countries, beginning with Sumeria, to require prominent officers associated closely with the king’s court to be castrated, perhaps to ensure full-hearted devotion to the duties required of them and to minimize the possibility of their taking over the kingdom by military coup to establish a dynasty of their own. — Morris, page 559.


This chapter clearly establishes the pan-historical (yet unpopular and often unrecognized principle of righteous-remnant living—to wit, that “all who desire to live godly … will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). It is through such persecution, however that the greatest “training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16) often occurs as the believer learns what it is to truly depend on God in the process. In the present chapter, accordingly, we see God complementing Joseph’s efforts at godly living by causing him to “find favor” in the sight of key individuals (a key phrase denoting God’s “behind-the-scenes” activity) and blessing the results of his work in a way that ultimately benefits the welfare of Israel, God’s covenant people. — Wechsler, page 252.

This entry was posted in Genesis. Bookmark the permalink.