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Genesis 41:37-57

Context

41:37 This advice made sense to Pharaoh and all his officials. 1  41:38 So Pharaoh asked his officials, “Can we find a man like Joseph, 2  one in whom the Spirit of God is present?” 3  41:39 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Because God has enabled you to know all this, there is no one as wise and discerning 4  as you are! 41:40 You will oversee my household, and all my people will submit to your commands. 5  Only I, the king, will be greater than you. 6 

41:41 “See here,” Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I place 7  you in authority over all the land of Egypt.” 8  41:42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his own hand and put it on Joseph’s. He clothed him with fine linen 9  clothes and put a gold chain around his neck. 41:43 Pharaoh 10  had him ride in the chariot used by his second-in-command, 11  and they cried out before him, “Kneel down!” 12  So he placed him over all the land of Egypt. 41:44 Pharaoh also said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your permission 13  no one 14  will move his hand or his foot 15  in all the land of Egypt.” 41:45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah. 16  He also gave him Asenath 17  daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, 18  to be his wife. So Joseph took charge of 19  all the land of Egypt.

41:46 Now Joseph was 30 years old 20  when he began serving 21  Pharaoh king of Egypt. Joseph was commissioned by 22  Pharaoh and was in charge of 23  all the land of Egypt. 41:47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced large, bountiful harvests. 24  41:48 Joseph 25  collected all the excess food 26  in the land of Egypt during the seven years and stored it in the cities. 27  In every city he put the food gathered from the fields around it. 41:49 Joseph stored up a vast amount of grain, like the sand of the sea, 28  until he stopped measuring it because it was impossible to measure.

41:50 Two sons were born to Joseph before the famine came. 29  Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, was their mother. 30  41:51 Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, 31  saying, 32  “Certainly 33  God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s house.” 41:52 He named the second child Ephraim, 34  saying, 35  “Certainly 36  God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”

41:53 The seven years of abundance in the land of Egypt came to an end. 41:54 Then the seven years of famine began, 37  just as Joseph had predicted. There was famine in all the other lands, but throughout the land of Egypt there was food. 41:55 When all the land of Egypt experienced the famine, the people cried out to Pharaoh for food. Pharaoh said to all the people of Egypt, 38  “Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you.”

41:56 While the famine was over all the earth, 39  Joseph opened the storehouses 40  and sold grain to the Egyptians. The famine was severe throughout the land of Egypt. 41:57 People from every country 41  came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain because the famine was severe throughout the earth.

1 tn Heb “and the matter was good in the eyes of Pharaoh and in the eyes of all his servants.”

2 tn Heb “like this,” but the referent could be misunderstood to be a man like that described by Joseph in v. 33, rather than Joseph himself. For this reason the proper name “Joseph” has been supplied in the translation.

3 tn The rhetorical question expects the answer “No, of course not!”

4 tn Heb “as discerning and wise.” The order has been rearranged in the translation for stylistic reasons.

5 tn Heb “and at your mouth (i.e., instructions) all my people will kiss.” G. J. Wenham translates this “shall kowtow to your instruction” (Genesis [WBC], 2:395). Although there is some textual support for reading “will be judged, ruled by you,” this is probably an attempt to capture the significance of this word. Wenham lists a number of references where individuals have tried to make connections with other words or expressions – such as a root meaning “order themselves” lying behind “kiss,” or an idiomatic idea of “kiss” meaning “seal the mouth,” and so “be silent and submit to.” See K. A. Kitchen, “The Term Nsq in Genesis 41:40,” ExpTim 69 (1957): 30; D. S. Sperling, “Genesis 41:40: A New Interpretation,” JANESCU 10 (1978): 113-19.

6 tn Heb “only the throne, I will be greater than you.”

7 tn The translation assumes that the perfect verbal form is descriptive of a present action. Another option is to understand it as rhetorical, in which case Pharaoh describes a still future action as if it had already occurred in order to emphasize its certainty. In this case one could translate “I have placed” or “I will place.” The verb נָתַן (natan) is translated here as “to place in authority [over].”

8 sn Joseph became the grand vizier of the land of Egypt. See W. A. Ward, “The Egyptian Office of Joseph,” JSS 5 (1960): 144-50; and R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, 129-31.

9 tn The Hebrew word שֵׁשׁ (shesh) is an Egyptian loanword that describes the fine linen robes that Egyptian royalty wore. The clothing signified Joseph’s rank.

10 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Pharaoh) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

11 tn Heb “and he caused him to ride in the second chariot which was his.”

12 tn The verb form appears to be a causative imperative from a verbal root meaning “to kneel.” It is a homonym of the word “bless” (identical in root letters but not related etymologically).

13 tn Heb “apart from you.”

14 tn Heb “no man,” but here “man” is generic, referring to people in general.

15 tn The idiom “lift up hand or foot” means “take any action” here.

16 sn The meaning of Joseph’s Egyptian name, Zaphenath-Paneah, is uncertain. Many recent commentators have followed the proposal of G. Steindorff that it means “the god has said, ‘he will live’” (“Der Name Josephs Saphenat-Pa‘neach,” ZÄS 31 [1889]: 41-42); others have suggested “the god speaks and lives” (see BDB 861 s.v. צָפְנָת פַּעְנֵחַ); “the man he knows” (J. Vergote, Joseph en Égypte, 145); or “Joseph [who is called] áIp-àankh” (K. A. Kitchen, NBD3 1262).

17 sn The name Asenath may mean “she belongs to the goddess Neit” (see HALOT 74 s.v. אָֽסְנַת). A novel was written at the beginning of the first century entitled Joseph and Asenath, which included a legendary account of the conversion of Asenath to Joseph’s faith in Yahweh. However, all that can be determined from this chapter is that their children received Hebrew names. See also V. Aptowitzer, “Asenath, the Wife of Joseph – a Haggadic Literary-Historical Study,” HUCA 1 (1924): 239-306.

18 sn On (also in v. 50) is another name for the city of Heliopolis.

19 tn Heb “and he passed through.”

20 tn Heb “a son of thirty years.”

21 tn Heb “when he stood before.”

22 tn Heb “went out from before.”

23 tn Heb “and he passed through all the land of Egypt”; this phrase is interpreted by JPS to mean that Joseph “emerged in charge of the whole land.”

24 tn Heb “brought forth by handfuls.”

25 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Joseph) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

26 tn Heb “all the food.”

27 tn Heb “of the seven years which were in the land of Egypt and placed food in the cities.”

28 tn Heb “and Joseph gathered grain like the sand of the sea, multiplying much.” To emphasize the vast amount of grain he stored up, the Hebrew text modifies the verb “gathered” with an infinitive absolute and an adverb.

29 tn Heb “before the year of the famine came.”

30 tn Heb “gave birth for him.”

31 sn The name Manasseh (מְנַשֶּׁה, mÿnasheh) describes God’s activity on behalf of Joseph, explaining in general the significance of his change of fortune. The name is a Piel participle, suggesting the meaning “he who brings about forgetfulness.” The Hebrew verb נַשַּׁנִי (nashani) may have been used instead of the normal נִשַּׁנִי (nishani) to provide a closer sound play with the name. The giving of this Hebrew name to his son shows that Joseph retained his heritage and faith; and it shows that a brighter future was in store for him.

32 tn The word “saying” has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

33 tn Or “for.”

34 sn The name Ephraim (אֶפְרַיִם, ’efrayim), a form of the Hebrew verb פָּרָה (parah), means “to bear fruit.” The theme of fruitfulness is connected with this line of the family from Rachel (30:2) on down (see Gen 49:22, Deut 33:13-17, and Hos 13:15). But there is some difficulty with the name “Ephraim” itself. It appears to be a dual, for which F. Delitzsch simply said it meant “double fruitfulness” (New Commentary on Genesis, 2:305). G. J. Spurrell suggested it was a diphthongal pronunciation of a name ending in -an or -am, often thought to be dual suffixes (Notes on the text of the book of Genesis, 334). Many, however, simply connect the name to the territory of Ephraim and interpret it to be “fertile land” (C. Fontinoy, “Les noms de lieux en -ayim dans la Bible,” UF 3 [1971]: 33-40). The dual would then be an old locative ending. There is no doubt that the name became attached to the land in which the tribe settled, and it is possible that is where the dual ending came from, but in this story it refers to Joseph’s God-given fruitfulness.

35 tn The word “saying” has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

36 tn Or “for.”

37 tn Heb “began to arrive.”

38 tn Heb “to all Egypt.” The name of the country is used by metonymy for the inhabitants.

39 tn Or “over the entire land”; Heb “over all the face of the earth.” The disjunctive clause is circumstantial-temporal to the next clause.

40 tc The MT reads “he opened all that was in [or “among”] them.” The translation follows the reading of the LXX and Syriac versions.

41 tn Heb “all the earth,” which refers here (by metonymy) to the people of the earth. Note that the following verb is plural in form, indicating that the inhabitants of the earth are in view.



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