Genesis 39-41

  1. But God is faithful to His covenant.

Notice the Name Jehovah in verses 7 and 10.

a. Judah confesses his sin. Finds forgiveness and returns to the home of his father.

b.Tamar is brought into the covenant line; the covenant family is preserved.

c. From Perez king David is born. Ruth 4:18, 1 Chron. 2:5.  Christ, the Holy One, is born from the unholy by the wonder of God’s grace.  Matthew 1:3.

Questions: What is the importance of this chapter in the Scriptures?

What is the importance of the Name Jehovah here?

Chapter 39.  The lone warrior is made strong by the arm of the Almighty.  Genesis 49:24.

  1.  Joseph meets a new enemy in the person of Potiphar’s wife.

a.  Potiphar, the chief of the royal guard, buys Joseph, finds that he is attractive in appearance, ambitious and capable, so that he places Joseph as administrator over the affairs of his large estate, including land, cattle, servants, etc.

b.  God causes Potiphar to place so much confidence in Joseph that Joseph receives complete charge over all of Potiphar’s house.

c.  But Potiphar’s wife is an adulterous woman who is determined to ensnare this slave into sin.

2.  But Joseph recognizes her as an enemy and is prepared to resist.

a.  How different Joseph’s attitude toward temptation than that of Judah. He avoids temptations instead of inviting them.

b.  His arm remains strong in the God of Jacob. He gives three reasons why he may not give in to the wicked entreaties of Potiphar’s wife.  What are they? Verses 8,9.

3.  Once more Joseph’s righteousness is charged against him. (See 40:15)

a.  He is accused of the very sin that Potiphar’s wife is guilty of—a common practice among sinners. She scorns him because of his religion and speaks disparagingly of him as a Jew, or Hebrew.  (Gen. 11:16, descendant of Heber.)

b.  The punishment is moderate considering the crime of which he as a slave was accused. But he is nevertheless put in chains, for the Lord is trying Joseph.  Psalm 105:18, 19.

c.  Some time elapsed while Joseph lay in prison. Grievous as was his trail as stranger in a strange land, the Lord proved that He was with him.  In this dark hour God gave relief by causing the keeper of the prison to put him in a position of trust.  Jehovah made him to prosper.  Why?

Questions: What is the purpose of the fiery trials of the believer?

How must we explain the prosperity of the wicked over against the afflictions of the people of God? Psalm 73.

How was Joseph blessed during this trial? Matthew 5:11, Romans 8:28, Heb. 12:2


Chapter 40. The lone warrior experiences anew that God is with him.

  1.  God brings two prominent men, the chief of the butlers and the chief of the king’s bakers into prison with Joseph. Joseph is placed in charge over them.

a.  We read only that they offended the king. There is no evidence that one of them sought the king’s life.  The exact offence is not important.

b.  What is important is the providence of God in this event.

2.  The Lord speaks to them through dreams.

a.  Especially in this period of history that we are studying God frequently uses dreams as the channel of divine revelation. For whose sake? The officers of the king or Joseph?

b.  God causes these dreams to trouble the butler and the baker, so that they cannot help but consider them more than ordinary dreams.

c.  Also Joseph must have concluded that these dreams were from the Lord and that the Lord would use him to interpret them. Who else would be able to interpret dreams that were from the Lord?

d.  These dreams were in perfect harmony with the duties that each carried out before the king.

3.  The Lord shows Joseph the interpretation of the dreams.

a.  He is confident that the interpretation will be verified in three days. He asks the butler to remember him when the butler is restored to his position before Pharaoh.  He wants Pharaoh to deliver him from prison.

b.  Joseph explains that he was stolen from Canaan. The guilty parties are not mentioned.  He also pleads his innocence in Potiphar’s house, again without mentioning who is responsible for his imprisonment.

c.  On the king’s birthday amnesty is bestowed upon the butler, even as God had revealed in the dream. But the butler shows very little appreciation, probably too happy about his own release to become involved in a case of some stranger.

d.  Joseph is called to possess his soul in patience for another two years.

Questions: Which other forms of revelation do we meet in Scripture?

Why does God give dreams to wicked men?

What is the importance of the history of this chapter for Joseph?


Chapter 41. The lone warrior sees the dawning of his day of victory.

1.  Joseph is called to Pharaoh’s court.

a.  The occasion: Pharaoh’s dream. He saw seven fat cows ascend from the Nile and graze on the Nile grass.  He also saw seven ugly, thin cows ascend, devour the fat cows, and remain fleshless in their appearance.  Thereupon he saw seven full and fine ears of corn on a stalk, followed by seven thin, weather beaten, hardened ears, which devoured the full ears.

b.  The king cannot banish these dreams from his mind. Why not? Who causes that? He calls en versed in deciphering hieroglyphics and cultivated in the art of astrology, as well as wise-men, but to no avail.  They can think of no interpretation that can satisfy the king.  Who prevents them from trying?

c.  Thereupon the butler thinks about Joseph, who is called form prison, made meticulously clean and attired in proper raiment to appear before the king. What an experience for an imprisoned slave!

2.  Joseph interprets the king’s dream.

a.  Pharaoh says rather confidently, “For thee to hear a dream is to interpret it.” Pharaoh must learn that there is a God in heaven Who has all power—sends dreams, shows the future, carries out His counsel. Joseph replies that interpretations are quite apart from him. But GOD will answer to put Pharaohs mind at ease.  Once more Joseph is confident that the dreams have been sent for his sake and that God will give him the interpretation, as servant of the true God.

b.  The dreams are one. The key to the problem lies in the number seven.  Fat cows and lean cows, full ears and thin ears all fall into place.  Even the fact that the dream was repeated has its significance.

c.  Joseph becomes bold in his God, Who has all power in heaven and on earth.

3.  Joseph offers a four point program.

a.  A man must be found to administer the affairs of Egypt.

b.  Officers must be appointed to carry out the administrator’s orders.

c.  During the seven years of plenty a fifth of the crop must e taken in taxes. This would be no great burden because of the great prosperity.

d.  The good gathered must be stored in cities and kept for the famine to come.

4.  The dream and the interpretation make a great impression upon Pharaoh.

a.  He follows Joseph’s advice. He even decides that Joseph’s equal can be found to carry out such an enormous task.  Acts 7:10.

b.  To Joseph’s amazement he is made prime minister or secretary of state in Egypt. His faith in God compels him to accept.

1.  He is given a royal seal to seal all official documents in the king’s name.

2.  He is provided with new clothing of the finest linen in harmony with his office.

3.  He receives a gold chain about his neck as a symbol of authority.

4.  A royal chariot is placed at his disposal and respect for his position is demanded.

5.  He is given an Egyptian wife of high birth, most likely to avoid prejudice against him and to invite respect among the Egyptians.

5.  In this position he remains faithful to his God.

a.  He is given an Egyptian name, Zaphnath-paaneh, which may mean “sustainer of life.” He is now become of age. We are informed that he is now thirty years of age.  Luke 3:23. This is thirteen years after his departure from Canaan.

b.  Gradually he begins to realize that God had a great purpose in bringing him to Egypt. His dreams may still be in his mind, if so he looks forward to meeting his family again.

(to be continued)