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Kejadian 39:1-12

Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife

39:1 Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt. 1  An Egyptian named Potiphar, an official of Pharaoh and the captain of the guard, 2  purchased him from 3  the Ishmaelites who had brought him there. 39:2 The Lord was with Joseph. He was successful 4  and lived 5  in the household of his Egyptian master. 39:3 His master observed that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made everything he was doing successful. 6  39:4 So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal attendant. 7  Potiphar appointed Joseph 8  overseer of his household and put him in charge 9  of everything he owned. 39:5 From the time 10  Potiphar 11  appointed him over his household and over all that he owned, the Lord blessed 12  the Egyptian’s household for Joseph’s sake. The blessing of the Lord was on everything that he had, both 13  in his house and in his fields. 14  39:6 So Potiphar 15  left 16  everything he had in Joseph’s care; 17  he gave no thought 18  to anything except the food he ate. 19 

Now Joseph was well built and good-looking. 20  39:7 Soon after these things, his master’s wife took notice of 21  Joseph and said, “Have sex with me.” 22  39:8 But he refused, saying 23  to his master’s wife, “Look, my master does not give any thought 24  to his household with me here, 25  and everything that he owns he has put into my care. 26  39:9 There is no one greater in this household than I am. He has withheld nothing from me except you because you are his wife. So how could I do 27  such a great evil and sin against God?” 39:10 Even though she continued to speak 28  to Joseph day after day, he did not respond 29  to her invitation to have sex with her. 30 

39:11 One day 31  he went into the house to do his work when none of the household servants 32  were there in the house. 39:12 She grabbed him by his outer garment, saying, “Have sex with me!” But he left his outer garment in her hand and ran 33  outside. 34 

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[39:1]  1 tn The disjunctive clause resumes the earlier narrative pertaining to Joseph by recapitulating the event described in 37:36. The perfect verbal form is given a past perfect translation to restore the sequence of the narrative for the reader.

[39:1]  2 sn Captain of the guard. See the note on this phrase in Gen 37:36.

[39:1]  3 tn Heb “from the hand of.”

[39:2]  4 tn Heb “and he was a prosperous man.” This does not mean that Joseph became wealthy, but that he was successful in what he was doing, or making progress in his situation (see 24:21).

[39:2]  5 tn Heb “and he was.”

[39:3]  6 tn The Hebrew text adds “in his hand,” a phrase not included in the translation for stylistic reasons.

[39:4]  7 sn The Hebrew verb translated became his personal attendant refers to higher domestic service, usually along the lines of a personal attendant. Here Joseph is made the household steward, a position well-attested in Egyptian literature.

[39:4]  8 tn Heb “him”; the referent (Joseph) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

[39:4]  9 tn Heb “put into his hand.”

[39:5]  10 tn Heb “and it was from then.”

[39:5]  11 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Potiphar) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

[39:5]  12 sn The Hebrew word translated blessed carries the idea of enrichment, prosperity, success. It is the way believers describe success at the hand of God. The text illustrates the promise made to Abraham that whoever blesses his descendants will be blessed (Gen 12:1-3).

[39:5]  13 tn Heb “in the house and in the field.” The word “both” has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

[39:5]  14 sn The passage gives us a good picture of Joseph as a young man who was responsible and faithful, both to his master and to his God. This happened within a very short time of his being sold into Egypt. It undermines the view that Joseph was a liar, a tattletale, and an arrogant adolescent.

[39:6]  15 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Potiphar) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

[39:6]  16 sn The Hebrew verb translated left indicates he relinquished the care of it to Joseph. This is stronger than what was said earlier. Apparently Potiphar had come to trust Joseph so much that he knew it was in better care with Joseph than with anyone else.

[39:6]  17 tn Heb “hand.” This is a metonymy for being under the control or care of Joseph.

[39:6]  18 tn Heb “did not know.”

[39:6]  19 sn The expression except the food he ate probably refers to Potiphar’s private affairs and should not be limited literally to what he ate.

[39:6]  20 tn Heb “handsome of form and handsome of appearance.” The same Hebrew expressions were used in Gen 29:17 for Rachel.

[39:7]  21 tn Heb “she lifted up her eyes toward,” an expression that emphasizes her deliberate and careful scrutiny of him.

[39:7]  22 tn Heb “lie with me.” Here the expression “lie with” is a euphemism for sexual intercourse.

[39:7]  sn The story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife has long been connected with the wisdom warnings about the strange woman who tries to seduce the young man with her boldness and directness (see Prov 5-7, especially 7:6-27). This is part of the literary background of the story of Joseph that gives it a wisdom flavor. See G. von Rad, God at Work in Israel, 19-35; and G. W. Coats, “The Joseph Story and Ancient Wisdom: A Reappraisal,” CBQ 35 (1973): 285-97.

[39:8]  23 tn Heb “and he said.”

[39:8]  24 tn Heb “know.”

[39:8]  25 tn The word “here” has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

[39:8]  26 tn Heb “hand.” This is a metonymy for being under the control or care of Joseph.

[39:9]  27 tn The nuance of potential imperfect fits this context.

[39:10]  28 tn The verse begins with the temporal indicator, followed by the infinitive construct with the preposition כְּ (kÿ). This clause could therefore be taken as temporal.

[39:10]  29 tn Heb “listen to.”

[39:10]  30 tn Heb “to lie beside her to be with her.” Here the expression “to lie beside” is a euphemism for sexual intercourse.

[39:11]  31 tn Heb “and it was about this day.”

[39:11]  32 tn Heb “the men of the house.”

[39:12]  33 tn Heb “he fled and he went out.” The construction emphasizes the point that Joseph got out of there quickly.

[39:12]  34 sn For discussion of this episode, see A. M. Honeyman, “The Occasion of Joseph’s Temptation,” VT 2 (1952): 85-87.

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