39:4 So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal attendant. 1 Potiphar appointed Joseph 2 overseer of his household and put him in charge 3 of everything he owned. 39:5 From the time 4 Potiphar 5 appointed him over his household and over all that he owned, the Lord blessed 6 the Egyptian’s household for Joseph’s sake. The blessing of the Lord was on everything that he had, both 7 in his house and in his fields. 8 39:6 So Potiphar 9 left 10 everything he had in Joseph’s care; 11 he gave no thought 12 to anything except the food he ate. 13
1 sn The Hebrew verb translated became his personal attendant refers to higher domestic service, usually along the lines of a personal attendant. Here Joseph is made the household steward, a position well-attested in Egyptian literature.
2 tn Heb “him”; the referent (Joseph) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
3 tn Heb “put into his hand.”
4 tn Heb “and it was from then.”
5 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Potiphar) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
6 sn The Hebrew word translated blessed carries the idea of enrichment, prosperity, success. It is the way believers describe success at the hand of God. The text illustrates the promise made to Abraham that whoever blesses his descendants will be blessed (Gen 12:1-3).
7 tn Heb “in the house and in the field.” The word “both” has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
8 sn The passage gives us a good picture of Joseph as a young man who was responsible and faithful, both to his master and to his God. This happened within a very short time of his being sold into Egypt. It undermines the view that Joseph was a liar, a tattletale, and an arrogant adolescent.
9 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Potiphar) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
10 sn The Hebrew verb translated left indicates he relinquished the care of it to Joseph. This is stronger than what was said earlier. Apparently Potiphar had come to trust Joseph so much that he knew it was in better care with Joseph than with anyone else.
11 tn Heb “hand.” This is a metonymy for being under the control or care of Joseph.
12 tn Heb “did not know.”
13 sn The expression except the food he ate probably refers to Potiphar’s private affairs and should not be limited literally to what he ate.
15 tn Heb “she lifted up her eyes toward,” an expression that emphasizes her deliberate and careful scrutiny of him.
16 tn Heb “lie with me.” Here the expression “lie with” is a euphemism for sexual intercourse.
sn The story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife has long been connected with the wisdom warnings about the strange woman who tries to seduce the young man with her boldness and directness (see Prov 5-7, especially 7:6-27). This is part of the literary background of the story of Joseph that gives it a wisdom flavor. See G. von Rad, God at Work in Israel, 19-35; and G. W. Coats, “The Joseph Story and Ancient Wisdom: A Reappraisal,” CBQ 35 (1973): 285-97.