Genesis xxxix.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Ismaelites. They are called Madianites, chap. xxxvii. 36. (Haydock)

Ver. 6. Bread. A proverbial expression, to shew how entirely he reposed in Joseph’s fidelity and prudence. (Menochius) — He was so rich, that he knew not the extent of his wealth. So Petronius says, Nescit quid habeat, adeo Zaplutus est. It may also be understood as a commendation of Joseph’s disinterestedness.

Ver. 7. Many days. About 10 years; as Joseph was 30, three years after this. (Calmet)

Ver. 9. His wife, and such things as could not be touched without sin; such as his daughter, if the woman, whom Joseph afterwards married, was the daughter of this man, chap. xli. 45. — My God, Elohim; which might also be understood of his lord and master. The sin against the latter would be resented by God, who is offended by every transgression. (Haydock)

Ver. 10. Both the woman was importunate, &c. Hebrew does not express this so fully. (Du Hamel)

Ver. 12. Out. He could easily have wrested it from her. But he would not do any thing that might seem disrespectful, nor claim what her impure hands had touched. (Menochius)

Ver. 16. A proof of her fidelity, or an argument to gain credit, argumentum fidei. (Challoner) — Love neglected, turns to fury. She wishes to take away Joseph’s life, according to the laws of Egypt against adulterers. Diodorus says Sesostris burnt some women taken in the crime; and we must attribute it to divine Providence, that the enraged husband did not inflict instant death upon his slave. Perhaps he did not altogether believe him guilty. (Haydock)

Ver. 17. Thou hast, &c. As if her husband were guilty of an indiscretion. (Menochius)

Ver. 19. Too much. The proof was of an ambiguous nature. But Putiphar perhaps thought it unbecoming to distrust his wife, or to interrogate his slave. (Haydock)

Ver. 21. Keeper. Pererius thinks this was the same Putiphar, who, recognizing the innocence of Joseph, allows him every indulgence in prison; but does not liberate him, for fear of the dishonour and resentment of his wife. (Calmet) — He had before put him in irons. (Psalm civ. 18; Wisdom x. 13.) Joseph here exercises at once the four cardinal virtues. Prudence, in keeping out of the company of his mistress, as the Hebrew express it, ver. 10: “He yielded not to lie with her, or to be in her company.” (Haydock) — Justice, in regard to his master. Fortitude, in bearing with all sorts of hardships, loss of character, &c. And Temperance, by refusing to gratify the most violent of all passions, at an age when it is the most insidious and ungovernable. This makes the fathers exclaim, We wonder more at the conduct of Joseph, than at the delivery of the three children from the Babylonian furnace. [Daniel iii.] For, like them, Joseph continues unhurt, and more shining, in the midst of the flames. (St. Chrysostom) (Tirinus) — The stories of Hippolitus, Bellerophon, &c., seem to be copied from this. (Calmet)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Joseph hath charge of his master’s house: rejecteth his mistress’s solicitations: is falsely accused by her, and cast into prison, where he hath the charge of all the prisoners.

1 And Joseph was brought into Egypt, and Putiphar, an eunuch of Pharao, chief captain of the army, an Egyptian, bought him of the Ismaelites, by whom he was brought.

2 And the Lord was with him, and he was a prosperous man in all things: and he dwelt in his master’s house:

3 Who knew very well that the Lord was with him, and made all that he did to prosper in his hand.

4 And Joseph found favour in the sight of his master, and ministered to him: and being set over all by him, he governed the house committed to him, and all things that were delivered to him:

5 And the Lord blessed the house of the Egyptian for Joseph’s sake, and multiplied all his substance, both at home and in the fields.

6 Neither knew he any other thing, but the bread which he ate. And Joseph was of a beautiful countenance, and comely to behold.

7 *And after many days, his mistress cast her eyes on Joseph, and said: Lie with me.

8 But he in no wise consenting to that wicked act, said to her: Behold, my master hath delivered all things to me, and knoweth not what he hath in his own house:

9 Neither is there any thing which is not in my power, or that he hath not delivered to me, but thee, who art his wife; how then can I do this wicked thing, and sin against my God?

10 With such words as these day by day, both the woman was importunate with the young man, and he refused the adultery.

11 Now it happened on a certain day, that Joseph went into the house, and was doing some business, without any man with him:

12 And she catching the skirt of his garment, said: Lie with me. But he leaving the garment in her hand, fled, and went out.

13 And when the woman saw the garment in her hands, and herself disregarded,

14 She called to her the men of her house, and said to them: See, he hath brought in a Hebrew, to abuse us: he came in to me, to lie with me; and when I cried out,

15 And he heard my voice, he left the garment that I held, and got him out.

16 For a proof therefore of her fidelity, she kept the garment, and shewed it to her husband when he returned home:

17 And said: The Hebrew servant, whom thou hast brought, came to me to abuse me.

18 And when he heard me cry, he left the garment which I held, and fled out.

19 His master hearing these things, and giving too much credit to his wife’s words, was very angry,

20 *And cast Joseph into the prison, where the king’s prisoners were kept, and he was there shut up.

21 But the Lord was with Joseph, and having mercy upon him gave him favour in the sight of the chief keeper of the prison:

22 Who delivered into his hand all the prisoners that were kept in custody: and whatsoever was done, was under him.

23 Neither did he himself know any thing, having committed all things to him: for the Lord was with him, and made all that he did to prosper.



7: Year of the World about 2286, Year before Christ 1718.

20: Psalm civ. 18.