Genesis 41:37-57 Joseph’s Rise To Power.
In Potiphar’s immediate response one should not assume that he was a believer when he refers to the Spirit of God, but that he acknowledged that Joseph’s interpretation and counsel which were wise, were given according to Joseph by the Spirit of God (vv. 37-38). To this end the Pharaoh could see no better man for the job than Joseph (v. 39). So the Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of the nation, save the throne itself (vv. 40-41). Joseph was clothed with the symbols of power, including the Pharaoh’s signet ring, meaning his decisions were the equivalent of the Pharaoh’s (v. 42). He would ride in the Pharaoh’s second chariot, and the people would bow down to him as though he were the Pharaoh himself (v. 43), and obey his commands (v. 44). Furthermore, and perhaps to take away any sting of being ruled by a foreigner, Joseph was given an Egyptian name and bride (v. 45). The name ‘Zaphnaph-Paaneah’, means “God speaks and He lives” (NGSB. 76).
There is a great deal of theology in Joseph’s new name, given by a man who simply gave the name based on what he had witnessed. Unlike the Egyptian idols, Joseph’s God spoke to him, and this was also proof that also unlike the dumb idols of Egypt, this God lives. As Francis Schaeffer titled one of his books – ‘He Is There And He Is Not Silent’. Notes of idolatry surrounded Joseph, chief among them being the name of his wife ‘Asenath’, which means “belongs to the goddess Neit,” being as she was, “the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On.” “Called Heliopolis in Greek, this city was a center for the worship of the sun god Ra (Jer. 43:13); its high priest was one of the most prominent in Egypt” (NGSB. 76). Joseph being 30 at this time, makes it all the more remarkable his earlier years of service to Potiphar and in prison, both of which the LORD used to prepare him for the role he would now fill (v. 46). Immediately he began to put into place the advice he had given the Pharaoh.
He had the people save up in the first seven years of plenty, enough to cover the following seven years of famine (vv. 47-49). Also during the years of plenty Joseph was blessed with two sons by Asenath – Manasseh and Ephraim. In this way the LORD also made him fruitful (vv. 50-52). Joseph was fulfilling the creation/cultural mandate, first commanded in Genesis 1:26-28, doing so in what was otherwise a foreign land. At the end of the seven years of plenty, Joseph’s words continued to be fulfilled as he had said, with the beginning of the years of famine (vv. 53-54a). “The famine was in all lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread” (v. 54b). Joseph, who at one point was sold as a slave and forgotten, was now the one man that all people had to go to in order to live (v. 55). There was enough that not only did all the Egyptians have food, but Joseph also sold some to foreigners in need (vv. 56-57). Such was the fruit of his commitment to the mandate given.