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Genesis 41:39-45

Context
41:39 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Because God has enabled you to know all this, there is no one as wise and discerning 1  as you are! 41:40 You will oversee my household, and all my people will submit to your commands. 2  Only I, the king, will be greater than you. 3 

41:41 “See here,” Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I place 4  you in authority over all the land of Egypt.” 5  41:42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his own hand and put it on Joseph’s. He clothed him with fine linen 6  clothes and put a gold chain around his neck. 41:43 Pharaoh 7  had him ride in the chariot used by his second-in-command, 8  and they cried out before him, “Kneel down!” 9  So he placed him over all the land of Egypt. 41:44 Pharaoh also said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your permission 10  no one 11  will move his hand or his foot 12  in all the land of Egypt.” 41:45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah. 13  He also gave him Asenath 14  daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, 15  to be his wife. So Joseph took charge of 16  all the land of Egypt.

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

2 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.

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

4 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].”

5 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.

6 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.

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

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

9 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).

10 tn Heb “apart from you.”

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

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

13 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).

14 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.

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

16 tn Heb “and he passed through.”



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