Joseph – week 3, day 1


TODAY’S SCRIPTURE: Genesis 41:37-49 (ESV*)

This proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command.Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck. And he made him ride in his second chariot. And they called out before him, “Bow the knee!” Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt. Moreover, Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no one shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphenath-paneah. And he gave him in marriage Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On. So Joseph went out over the land of Egypt.

Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh and went through all the land of Egypt. During the seven plentiful years the earth produced abundantly, and he gathered up all the food of these seven years, which occurred in the land of Egypt, and put the food in the cities. He put in every city the food from the fields around it. And Joseph stored up grain in great abundance, like the sand of the sea, until he ceased to measure it, for it could not be measured.


Quote BeginIt is amazing how quickly things can change. Just a few years ago, in a matter of minutes I went from being the favorite son to a slave bound for Egypt. Then because of the lies of my master’s wife, I went from a trusted slave to a forgotten prisoner in a dingy jail. And now, oh now! From that jail to the Pharaoh’s palace! In place of that colorful robe from my father that my brothers so cruelly stole from me, I have the finest Egyptian clothes and jewelry. I have a chariot and driver at my disposal, and a signet ring symbolizing my power. I have a beautiful wife named Asenath, and even have a new name, given to me by Pharaoh himself. I am no longer Joseph, but am Zaphenath-paneah, and am in charge of the entire country of Egypt!Quote End
— Joseph


  • What is the symbolism in the young Hebrew boy named Joseph being renamed Zaphenath-paneah?
  • Do you think that leaving his Hebrew roots behind him would help him to accomplish more in his new role as Pharaoh’s right-hand man?
  • We do not hear any word of refusal from Joseph to Pharaoh’s sweeping changes in his life: Egyptian clothing, a non-Hebrew wife, and new name. Why do you think this is?
  • Even though there is no criticism in the text of Joseph’s decision to accept these changes, the scripture continues to refer to him as “Joseph,” not “Zaphenath-paneah.” Why is this?
  • Look again at the Joseph at the beginning of the story, and compare this man who is in charge of Egypt. What changes have taken place?


“The acts of giving or changing a name can be descriptive or prescriptive (that is, demonstrating the authority of the one giving the name)… The pharaoh of Egypt gives Joseph a new name as part of commissioning Joseph to be a royal administrator.” The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, vol. 4 (Abingdon Press: Nashville, 2006, 218.)

“There is some evidence that slaves from the ancient Near East achieved positions of high standing in Egyptian royal circles. The rite of installation also has parallels in that world, and rings, chains, and chariots that were used on such occasions have been found.” The New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. I (Abingdon Press: Nashville, 1994, 622.)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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