Joseph was 17 when he arrived in Egypt, and 30 when he became prime minister. So 13 years of his young adulthood were wasted in servitude and prison; and all that time without even so much as a date or a girlfriend. More than a full decade of the best years of his life went by with no female companionship whatsoever.
A man's libido peaks in the years between 18 and 24, then begins tapering off as he gradually gets older. Since there is no record of Joseph's association with a special girl back home in Palestine, I think it's safe to conclude that he had never cuddled with a girl in his entire life till he got married sometime in his thirties. So you can see that Joseph was not only robbed of the best years of his life, but totally missed out on something that's very important to the psychological well being of the average red-blooded guy.
As Joseph got older, and began to realize that life was passing him by, and that his youth was ebbing away, he no doubt began to wonder if maybe his current situation wasn't permanent; and as the days and years continued to go by one after another, he must have become frightened, depressed, and desperate as he saw no plausible way to remedy his predicament and get his life back.
We used to joke among ourselves as professional welders that adverse conditions in the workplace build character. (chuckle) Like as if any blue collar skull needs "character" for anything. However, people destined for greatness can benefit immensely from character-building experiences that serve to temper their success; for example Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was immensely privileged and harbored a horrid superiority complex. Polio really humbled him, and in time, Roosevelt's handicap made him a much better man and a much better leader.
I've seen people's leadership and responsibility handed to them on the silver platter of privilege; resulting in their treating lower ranking employees with thoughtless contempt. If those managers had only started out laboring in construction, selling luggage, shackled in slavery, or convicted of crimes they didn't commit; then maybe they would have developed a sensitivity that would have made them, not just managers, but great managers.
Under normal circumstances, Joseph's alleged crime was punishable by death. So then, since he wasn't executed, but instead put in a prison normally reserved for political prisoners, his circumstances tend to support the opinion that Potiphar didn't believe his wife's story at all.
● Gen 40:1a . . Some time later,
Exactly how long Joseph had been in prison prior to this next section is uncertain. However, his age would have been near 28 since it will be just two years afterwards that he's released (Gen 41:1).
● Gen 40:1b-4a . . the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt gave offense to their lord the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was angry with his two courtiers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and put them in custody, in the house of the chief steward, in the same prison house where Joseph was confined. The chief steward assigned Joseph to them, and he attended them.
The "chief steward" was Mr. Potiphar (Gen 39:1).
Exactly what these two muckity-mucks did to warrant being placed under arrest isn't said, but since both men's functions were directly related to Pharaoh's nourishment; it's reasonable to assume their offenses most likely had something to do with the King's table. Perhaps the beverages, as well as the food, just happened to be tainted both at the same time, thus suggesting a conspiracy to poison their master. Since they weren't summarily executed, it's apparent that they're just suspects at this point, and being held without bail until Potiphar's secret service completed an investigation into the matter. It's entirely possible that some of the lower ranking members of the kitchen staff are being held too, though not in the same place.
Cupbearers weren't just flunky taste testers, but were savvy advisors: thus, in a position of great influence. They were also saddled with the responsibility of supervising the King's vineyards in order to ensure their potentate received only the very best beverages deserving of the rank. So cupbearers were very competent men who knew a thing or two about not only diplomacy, but also the wine business. Egyptian documents testify to their wealth and power (cf. Neh 2:1).
Although the baker wasn't up as high as a cupbearer, his duties were still critical. He didn't just make cookies and coffee cake, and/or supervise the kitchen staff, but did the shopping too. He sniffed all the meats, fowls, and fishes, and nibbled all the vegetables before they were ever brought inside the castle. Without the benefit of refrigeration, his responsibility was very great since his master could easily become gravely ill, and quite possibly die, from eating spoiled foods.
To be placed at the service of these two high ranking courtiers was really an honor, even though they were just as much locked up as Joseph. However, he was a slave and they were courtiers; so there was a big difference in rank even behind bars. But the two men had it pretty cushy. They weren't treated like common convicts; no, they each had a very competent, fully experienced butler with impeccable references at their service-- Mr. Joseph ben Jacob.
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