Genesis 39

Genesis 39


Now JosephA was taken downB to Egypt,C and Potiphar,D

Notes on verse 1a

A “Joseph” = Yoseph. From yasaph (to add, increase, continue, exceed). This is Joseph, meaning “he increases” or “let him add.”
B “taken down” = yarad. This is to go down, descend; going down in a literal or figurative sense. It can be going to the shore or a boundary, bringing down an enemy.
C “Egypt” = Mitsrayim. Perhaps from matsor (besieged or fortified place, bulwark, entrenchment; something hemmed in; a siege or distress or fastness); from tsur (to confine, besiege, to cramp). This is Egypt.
D “Potiphar” = Potiphar. 2x in OT. From Egyptian Potiphera (“he whom Ra has given”). This is Potiphar. See

an officerE of Pharaoh,F the captainG of the guard,H

Notes on verse 1b

E “officer” = saris. Root is likely foreign and may mean castrate. So, this could be a eunuch, valet, or other kind of officer.
F “Pharaoh” = Paroh. From Egyptian pr (palace, pharaoh; literally house + great). This is Pharaoh, a title for Egyptian kings. See
G “captain” = sar. This is chief, leader, ruler, lord, official, governor, prince, military leader. It refers to someone at the top of a rank or class.
H “guard” = tabbach. From tabach (to slaughter or butcher; of animals or people). This is cook or guardsman.

anI Egyptian,J boughtK him fromL the IshmaelitesM who had brought him down there. 

Notes on verse 1c

I {untranslated} = ish. Perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is man, husband, another, or humankind.
J “Egyptian” = Mitsri. Related to “Egypt” in v1. From the same as mitsrayim (see note C above). This is Egyptian.
K “bought” = qanah. This is to acquire, create, purchase, own. Its root may mean to smith or to produce.
L “from” = yad. Literally “from the hand of.” This is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.
M “Ishmaelites” = Yishmeeli. 8x in OT. From Yishmael (Ishmael, meaning “God hears” or “God will hear”); {from shama (hear, call, consent, or consider; implies listening intelligently, giving attention; obedience and action are often implied) + el (God, a god)}. This is Ishmaelite.

The LordN wasO with Joseph, and he becameP a successfulQ man;R he was in the houseS of his Egyptian master.T 

Notes on verse 2

N “Lord” = YHVH. Related to “was” in v2. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (see note O below). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
O “was” = hayah. This is to be or become, to happen.
P “became” = hayah. Same as “was” in v2. See note above.
Q “successful” = tsalach. This is pushing forward in a literal or figurative sense. So it could be to break out, to come mightily, to rush, to go over. Figuratively, it could mean to prosper.
R “man” = enosh. Related to {untranslated} in v1. See note I above.
S “house” = bayit. Probably from banah (to build, make, set up, obtain children; to build literally or figuratively). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.
T “master” = adon. From a root that means ruling or being sovereign. This is lord, master, or owner.

His master sawU that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord caused all that he didV to prosperW in his hands.X 

Notes on verse 3

U “saw” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
V “did” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
W “caused…to prosper” = tsalach. Same as “successful” in v2. See note Q above.
X “hands” = yad. Same as “from” in v1. See note L above.

So Joseph foundY favorZ in his sightAA and attendedBB him; he made him overseerCC of his house and put him in chargeDD of all that he had. 

Notes on verse 4

Y “found” = matsa. This is to find, catch or acquire. It can also mean to come forth or appear. Figuratively, this can mean to meet or be together with.
Z “favor” = chen. From chanan (beseech, show favor, be gracious; properly, to bend in kindness to someone with less status). This is grace, favor, kindness, beauty, precious.
AA “sight” = ayin. This is eye in a literal or figurative sense so eye, appearance, favor, or a fountain (the eye of the landscape).
BB “attended” = sharath. This is ministering, serving, or waiting on. It can refer to one offering service as a worshipper or one serving as a servant.
CC “made…overseer” = paqad. This is to attend to or visit – can be used for a friendly or violent encounter. So, it can be to oversee, care for, avenge, or charge.
DD “put him in charge” = natan + yad. Literally “gave to his hand.” Natan is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively. Yad is the same as “from” in v1. See note L above.

EEFrom the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessedFF the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessingGG of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field.HH 

Notes on verse 5

EE {untranslated} = hayah. Same as “was” in v2. See note O above.
FF “blessed” = barak. This is to kneel, to bless. It is blessing God as part of worship and adoration or blessing humans to help them. It can be used as a euphemism to say curse God.
GG “blessing” = berakah. Related to “blessed” in v5. From barak (see note FF above). This is blessing, which implies prosperity or peace.
HH “field” = sadeh. This is literally field, ground, soil, or land. It can be used to mean wild like a wild animal.

So he leftII all that he had in Joseph’s charge; and, with him there, he had no concernJJ for anythingKK but the foodLL that he ate.MM

Notes on verse 6a

II “left” = azab. To loosen, relinquish, permit, forsake, fail, leave destitute.
JJ “concern” = yada. This is to know, acknowledge, advise, answer, be aware, be acquainted with. Properly, this is to figure something out by seeing. It includes ideas of observation, recognition, and care about something. It can be used causatively for instruction, designation, and punishment.
KK “anything” = meumah. From the same as mum (defect – an ethical one or a literal bodily one). Its root may mean to stain. This can mean a speck or fault. More broadly, it can also refer to anything or nothing.
LL “food” = lechem. From lacham (to eat, feed on). This is bread, food, loaf. It can refer to food more generally for people or for animals.
MM “ate” = akal. This is to eat, devour, burn up, or otherwise consume. It can be eating in a literal or figurative sense.

Now Joseph was handsomeNN and good-looking.OO AndPP after a timeQQ his master’s wifeRR

Notes on verses 6b-7a

NN “handsome” = yapheh. From yaphah (to be beautiful, decorate; root means being bright, which implies being beautiful). This is beautiful in a literal or figurative sense – appropriate, handsome, godly, pleasant.
OO “good looking” = toar + yapheh + mareh. Toar is 15x in OT. From taar (to incline, extend, mark out). This is an outline and so a form or figure or appearance. Yapheh is the same as “handsome” in v6. See note NN above. Mareh is related to “saw” in v3. From raah (see note U above). This is sight, appearance, or vision. It can be a view, seeing itself, that which is seen, something real, or a vision one sees.
PP {untranslated} = hayah. Same as “was” in v2. See note O above.
QQ “time” = dabar. From dabar (to speak, declare, discuss). This is speech, a word, a matter, an affair, charge, command, message, promise, purpose, report, request. It is a word, which implies things that are spoken of in a wide sense.
RR “wife” = ishshah. Related to {untranslated} in v1 & “man” in v2. Perhaps from ish (see note I above). This is woman, wife, or female.

castSS her eyesTT on Joseph and said, “LieUU with me.” 

Notes on verse 7b

SS “case” = nasa. This is to lift in a broad sense, literally and figuratively. So it could be to carry, take, or arise. It could also be bring forth, advance, accept.
TT “eyes” = ayin. Same as “sight” in v4. See note AA above.
UU “lie” = shakab. This is to lie down, lodge. It is lying for sleep, sex, or other reasons.

But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look,VV with me here, my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my hand. He is not greaterWW in this house than I am, nor has he kept backXX anything from me except yourself, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great wickedness,YY and sinZZ against God?”AAA 

Notes on verses 8-9

VV “look” = hen. This is a remark of surprise or excitement: lo! Behold! It can also mean if or though.
WW “greater” = gadol. From gadal (to grow up, become great, become wealthy – to advance. The root meaning may be to twist in the sense of the process of growing). This is great, high, bigger, noble, old, marvelous. It can also refer to someone who is powerful or distinguished.
XX “kept back” = chasak. This is to restrain, refrain, or hold back. It can mean to spare, to preserve or to punish, depending on the context.
YY “wickedness” = ra’a’. This is to be evil, bad, afflict. Properly, it means to spoil – to destroy by breaking into pieces. Figuratively, it is to cause something to be worthless. It is bad in a physical, social, or moral sense – something that displeases, does harm or mischief, punishes or vexes.
ZZ “sin” = chata. This is properly to miss, and so figuratively it is used for sinning, bearing the blame. It implies a forfeiture or loss of something.
AAA “God” = Elohim. Related to “Ishmaelites” in v1. See note M above.

10 AndBBB although she spokeCCC to Joseph day after day, he would not consentDDD to lie beside her or to be with her. 11 EEEOne day, however, when he wentFFF into the house to do his work,GGG and while no oneHHH else was in the house, 

Notes on verses 10-11

BBB {untranslated} = hayah. Same as “was” in v2. See note O above.
CCC “spoke” = dabar. Related to “time” in v7. See note QQ above.
DDD “consent” = shama. Related to “Ishmaelites” in v1. See note M above.
EEE {untranslated} = hayah. Same as “was” in v2. See note O above.
FFF “went” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.
GGG “work” = melakah. From the same as malak (messenger, an angel, or a deputy; human messengers literally or for prophets, priests, or teachers as messengers of God; also supernatural messengers i.e. angels). Properly, this is a deputyship or some kind of work. It can also be the product that comes from labor.
HHH “one else” = ish + ish. Same as {untranslated} in v1. See note I above.

12 she caughtIII hold of his garment,JJJ saying, “Lie with me!” But he left his garment in her hand, and fledKKK and ranLLL outside.MMM 

Notes on verse 12

III “caught” = taphas. This is to catch, seize, wield, capture. It can also mean to use unwarrantably.
JJJ “garment” = beged. From bagad (to cover or conceal; figuratively, to act in a covert or treacherous way, to transgress or pillage). This is clothing, garment, robe, or some other kind of clothing. Figuratively, it can be treachery or pillaging.
KKK “fled” = nus. This is to flee, vanish away, hide, escape, be displayed.
LLL “ran” = yatsa. This is to go or come out, bring forth, appear. It is to go out in a literal or figurative sense.
MMM “outside” = chuts. Root may mean to sever. So, this is something that is separated by a wall – the outside, the street, a field, highway, or abroad.

13 NNNWhen she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled outside, 14 she called outOOO to the membersPPP of her household and said to them, “See, my husband has broughtQQQ among us a HebrewRRR to insultSSS us!

Notes on verses 13-14a

NNN {untranslated} = hayah. Same as “was” in v2. See note O above.
OOO “called out” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
PPP “members” = ish. Same as {untranslated} in v1. See note I above.
QQQ “brought” = bo. Same as “went” in v11. See note FFF above.
RRR “Hebrew” = ish + Ibri. Ish is the same as {untranslated} in v1. See note I above. Ibri is from Eber (the region beyond; Eber, the name of several Israelites including a descendant of Shem); from abar (to pass over, pass through, or pass by; cross over or to alienate; used for transitions). This is Hebrew, perhaps meaning a descendant of Eber.
SSS “insult” = tsachaq. 13x in OT. This is to laugh, mock, play, make sport. It is laughing out loud whether in joy or in a scornful way. This is the root of “Isaac.”

He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried outTTT with a loudUUU voice;VVV 15 andWWW when he heardXXX me raiseYYY my voice and cry out, he left his garment beside me, and fled outside.” 

Notes on verses 14b-15

TTT “cried out” = qara. Same as “called out” in v14. See note OOO above.
UUU “loud” = gadol. Same as “greater” in v9. See note WW above.
VVV “voice” = qol. This is a sound, used often for human voices. Also used when God speaks or angels, animals or instruments. It can be a cry or a noise, thunder or earthquakes and so on.
WWW {untranslated} = hayah. Same as “was” in v2. See note O above.
XXX “heard” = shama. Same as “consent” in v10. See note DDD above.
YYY “raise” = rum. This is to rise or raise, to be high literally or figuratively. So it can also mean to exalt or extol.

16 Then she keptZZZ his garment by her until his master came home, 17 and she toldAAAA him the same story,BBBB saying, “The Hebrew servant,CCCC whom you have brought among us, came in to me to insult me; 18 butDDDD as soon as I raised my voice and cried out, he left his garment beside me, and fled outside.”

Notes on verses 16-18

ZZZ “kept” = yanach. Perhaps from the same as nuach (to rest, calm, camp, free, place, remain, satisfy, settle, station, or wait; implies settling down in a literal or figurative sense). This is to lay down, let alone, pacify, cast down, or deposit. It can also mean to allow something or someone to stay.
AAAA “told” = dabar. Same as “spoke” in v10. See note CCC above.
BBBB “story” = dabar. Same as “time” in v7. See note QQ above.
CCCC “servant” = ebed. From abad (to work, serve, compel; any kind of work; used causatively, can mean to enslave or keep in bondage). This is a servant, slave, or bondservant.
DDDD {untranslated} = hayah. Same as “was” in v2. See note O above.

19 EEEEWhen his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, saying, “This is the wayFFFF your servant treatedGGGG me,” he became enraged.HHHH 

Notes on verse 19

EEEE {untranslated}= hayah. Same as “was” in v2. See note O above.
FFFF “way” = dabar. Same as “time” in v7. See note QQ above.
GGGG “treated” = asah. Same as “did” in v3. See note V above.
HHHH “became enraged” = charah + aph. Literally “his wrath was kindled.” Charah is perhaps related to charar (to be hot, burn, glow, melt, be scorched; figuratively, to incite passion, be angry). This is to be displeased, burn with anger, glow, become warn. Figuratively it is a blaze of anger, zeal, or jealousy. Aph is from anaph (to be angry; properly, breathing hard as a signifier of being enraged). This properly refers to the nose or nostril and by extension the face. It can specifically refer to anger or wrath as one breathes hard and nostrils flare in times of great anger.

20 And Joseph’s master tookIIII him and put him into the prison,JJJJ the placeKKKK where the king’s prisonersLLLL were confined;MMMM he remainedNNNN there in prison. 

Notes on verse 20

IIII “took” = laqach. This is to take, accept, carry away, receive. It can also have the sense of take a wife or take in marriage.
JJJJ “prison” = bayit + sohar. Literally “house of imprisonment.” Bayit is the same as “house” in v2. See note S above. Sohar is 8x in OT. From the same as sahar (roundness). This is jail, prison, a dungeon, or one who keeps the jail.
KKKK “place” = maqom. From qum(to arise, stand, accomplish, establish, abide; rising against, getting up after being sick or asleep, arising from one state to another, becoming powerful, or rising for action; standing in a figurative sense). This is a standing, which is to say a spot or space a place. It can also refer to a locality or a physical/mental condition. HaMaqom is also a Jewish name for God – the place, i.e. the Omnipresent One.
LLLL “prisoners” = asar. This is to tie, yoke, bind, or fasten. It can mean to harness an animal, to join in fighting a battle, or to imprison someone.
MMMM “confined” = asar. Same as “prisoners” in v20. See note LLLL above.
NNNN “remained” = hayah. Same as “was” in v2. See note O above.

21 But the Lord was with Joseph and showedOOOO him steadfast love;PPPP he gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer.QQQQ 

Notes on verse 21

OOOO “showed” = natah. This is to stretch or spread out, to extend, or bend. In can also imply moral deflection.
PPPP “steadfast love” = chesed. From chasad (being good, kind, merciful; may mean bowing one’s neck as is done in the presence of an equal for courtesy’s sake; so, if one in a superior position is treating you like an equal, that is what is captured here). This is favor, goodness, kindness, loving kindness, pity, reproach, or a good deed. When done by God to humanity, this is mercy/loving kindness. When done by humanity to God, it is piety.
QQQQ “jailer” = bayit + sohar. Literally “house of imprisonment.” See note JJJJ above.

22 The chief jailer committedRRRR to Joseph’s care all the prisonersSSSS who were in the prison, and whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. 23 The chief jailer paid no heedTTTT to anything that was in Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.

Notes on verses 22-23

RRRR “committed to …care” = natanyad. Same as “put…in charge” in v4. See note DD above.
SSSS “prisoners” = asir. Related to “prisoners” in v20. 12x in OT. From asar (see note LLLL above). This is a prisoner or captive. It can also refer to a slave or someone otherwise bound.
TTTT “paid…heed” = raah. Same as “saw” in v3. See note U above.

Image credit: “Josef a Putifarka” by Georges Kars, 1910.

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