Genesis 41:45

45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-paneah and gave him a wife, Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest at On.[a] And Joseph went throughout[b] the land of Egypt.

Genesis 41:45 Meaning and Commentary

Genesis 41:45

And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnathpaaneah
Which, according to the paraphrase of Onkelos, signifies one to whom hidden things are revealed; or, as Jonathan, a revealer of secrets; and so most of the Jewish writers explain it; and which seems to be given him from his interpreting Pharaoh's dreams, and revealing what was hereafter to come to pass. The word is only used in this place, at least the latter part of it and Aben Ezra confesses his ignorance of it, whether it is an Egyptian word or not; Kircher F1 most asserts it, and says it signifies a prophet (or foreteller) of future things. Though some think the first part of the name has some respect to the Egyptian idol Baal Zephon, ( Exodus 14:2 ) , and that, in this new name Pharaoh gave Joseph upon his promotion, he inserted the name of his god, as Nebuchadnezzar, when he gave new names to Daniel and his comparisons, ( Daniel 1:7 ) ( 5:12 ) : and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah;
not the same with Potiphar, Joseph's master, as Jarchi says, not only their, names differ, but also their offices; nor would Joseph, it is imagined, marry the daughter of such a woman, so wicked as his mistress was, and had so much abused him, and been the cause of all his troubles; nor was this Asenath the daughter of Dinah by Shechem, as some Jewish writers


F2 assert, whom Potiphar's wife, having no child, brought up as her own, which is not at all probable; but an Egyptian woman, the daughter of the person before named: who was priest of On: the same with Aven; (See Gill on Ezekiel 30:17); and which in Ptolemy F3 is called Onii, about twenty two miles from Memphis, and said to be the metropolis of the "Heliopolitan home"; and has been since called "Heliopolis", as it is here in the Septuagint version, which signifies the city of the sun, and is the same with Bethshemesh, the house of the sun, ( Jeremiah 43:13 ) ; where, as Herodotus F4 says, the sun was worshipped, and sacrifice offered to it, and the inhabitants of this place are by him said to be the wisest and most rational of the Egyptians F5; here Potipherah, Joseph's father-in-law, was "priest"; and Strabo F6 says, at Heliopolis we saw large houses, in which the priests dwelt; for here especially of old it was said, that this was the habitation of priests, of philosophers, and such as were given to astronomy: the Septuagint version and Josephus F7 call this man Petephre; and an Heathen writer F8, Pentephre, a priest of Heliopolis; which a very learned man F9 says, in the Egyptian tongue, signifies a priest of the sun; and so Philo says F11, that Joseph married the daughter of a famous man in Egypt, who had the priesthood of the sun. But the word may as well be rendered "prince" F12, as it is when there is nothing to determine its sense otherwise, as there is none here; and it is more likely, that Pharaoh should marry his prime minister into the family of one of his princes than of his priests; this seems to be more agreeable to the high rank that Joseph was raised to, as well as more suitable to his character as a worshipper of the true God, who would not choose to marry the daughter of an idolatrous priest: though, according to Diodorus Siculus F13, the Egyptian priests were second to the king in honour and authority, and were always about him, and were of his council; and Aelianus, says F14, that formerly with the Egyptians the judges were priests, and the eldest of them was a prince, and had the power of judging all; and even Sethon, king of Egypt, was a priest of Vulcan: whether this prince or priest was of the king's family, or whether the kings of Egypt had a power to dispose of the daughters of their subjects, especially of their priests or princes when dead, is not certain: perhaps no more, as Bishop Patrick observes, is meant, than that Pharaoh made this match, and which was a mark of great honour and affection to Joseph; and which, if even disagreeable to him, being an idolater, he could not well refuse: and Joseph went out over [all] the land of Egypt;
either the name and fame of him, as Aben Ezra interprets it, see ( Matthew 4:24 ) ; or rather he himself went forth in all his grandeur before related, and took a tour, throughout the whole land to observe the fruitfulness of it, and make choice of proper places to lay up his intended stores.
F1 Prodrom. Copt. p. 124
F2 Targ. Jon. in loc. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 3. 2. Pirke Eliezer, c. 38.
F3 Geograph l. 4. c. 5.
F4 Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 59. 63.
F5 Ib. c. 3.
F6 Geograph. l. 17. p. 554.
F7 Antiqu. l. 2. c. 6. sect. 1.
F8 Polyhistor. ex Demetrio apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 21. p. 424.
F9 Jablonski de Terra Goshen. Dissert. 8. sect. 4.
F11 De Josepho, p. 543.
F12 (Nhk) "praesidis", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "principis", Pagninus, Vatablus; so the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan.
F13 Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 66.
F14 Var. Hist. l. 14. c. 34.

Genesis 41:45 In-Context

43 He had Joseph ride in his second chariot, and [servants] called out before him, "Abrek!" So he placed him over all the land of Egypt.
44 Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I am Pharaoh, but without your permission no one will be able to raise his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt."
45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-paneah and gave him a wife, Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest at On. And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt.
46 Joseph was 30 years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Joseph left Pharaoh's presence and traveled throughout the land of Egypt.
47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced outstanding harvests.

Footnotes 2

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