● Gen 39:1-3 . . Now when Joseph arrived in Egypt with the Ishmaelite traders, he was purchased by Potiphar, a member of the personal staff of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Potiphar was the captain of the palace guard. The Lord was with Joseph and blessed him greatly as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. Potiphar noticed this and realized that The Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did.
The identity of the Pharaoh during this moment in history is a total mystery, and even that fact is a mystery in itself because Egypt was normally quite meticulous in recording its accomplishments, and the names of Egypt's dynastic successions are recorded practically without a break thru the Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms, clear on back to 3,000 BC. But for some reason, so far unexplained, a blank occurs in its history between 1730 to 1580 BC.
This absence of information puzzles Egyptologists; and thus far has only been satisfactorily explained by the conquering-- and subsequent dominance --of Egypt by an ancient people called the Hyksos; who were Semitic tribes from Syria and Canaan. The Hyksos were of a different mentality than the Egyptians and apparently weren't inclined to keep a meticulous record of their own accomplishments as had their vanquished predecessors before them.
Not only is there a dearth of documents from that period, but there aren't even any monuments to testify of it. If perchance Joseph was in Egypt during the Hyksos, that might explain why there exists not one shred of archaeological evidence to corroborate the Bible in regards to its story of Joseph in Egypt.
Joseph's success was, of course, in regards to his proficiency, and in no way says anything about his personal prosperity because as a slave, he had no income, owned no property, controlled no business ventures, nor maintained some sort of investment portfolio.
How Potiphar found out that Yhvh was Joseph's god isn't said. But in knowing, he quite naturally credited Yhvh with Joseph's proficiency because people in those days were very superstitious. Even Potiphar's own name, which in Egyptian is Pa-di-pa-ra, means "the gift of the god Ra".
● Gen 39:3-6a . .So Joseph naturally became quite a favorite with him. Potiphar soon put Joseph in charge of his entire household and entrusted him with all his business. From the day Joseph was put in charge, Yhvh began to bless Potiphar for Joseph's sake.
. . . All his household affairs began to run smoothly, and his crops and livestock flourished. So Potiphar gave Joseph complete administrative responsibility over everything he owned. With Joseph there, he didn't have a worry in the world, except to decide what he wanted to eat!
This was all idyllic for Mr. Aristocrat; but unfortunately, there was a fly poised to plop itself into the ointment.
● Gen 39:6b-7 . . Now Joseph was young, well built, and handsome. After a while, his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph and said; Sleep with me.
The apparent overture wasn't a request. Since Joseph was a slave, it wasn't necessary for Potiphar's wife to seduce him. She only had to give him an order, and he was expected to obey it.
It's not uncommon to find women who feel trapped in an unfulfilling marriages. Henry David Thoreau once wrote that the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. Well; some of that "mass of men" includes women.
Potiphar's wife (call her Anna for convenience) was an amorously active woman married to the wrong man. No children are listed for her husband so it's very possible Potiphar was a eunuch; a distinct possibility in ancient palaces. He might have been an older man too, maybe a bit too old.
Anna probably didn't marry for love; but for security. That's understandable since women of that day didn't have a lot of career options, nor a minority status, nor retirement benefits, nor entitlements like Medicare and Social Security. For women in Anna's day, marriage was often a matter of survival rather than a matter of the heart.
She was obviously still lively and maybe would have enjoyed dinner out and salsa dancing once or twice a week; while Potipher probably barely had enough energy left to plop down and fall asleep in his La-Z-Boy recliner after working 12-14 hours a day in the palace and just wanted to be left alone in his man cave with a can of beer and CNN.
There are women who prefer older men; sometimes much older. But there are other women, like Anna, who prefer the young ones; however, sometimes life just doesn't give them any options.
So then, what's a desperate housewife to do when her husband is old and boring, and here's this strapping, virile young slave guy around the house with you all day long? Well . .you're either going to drink a lot, get witchy, take pills, or make a move and see what happens. Unfortunately, Anna isn't going to be a very good sport about it.
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