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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Genesis 39

Verses 1-23

Genesis 39. Joseph Repels his Master's Wife, and is Imprisoned on her False Accusation.— This section is from J with touches from E. It is generally agreed that “ Potiphar . . . guard” is an insertion in Genesis 39:1. J represents Joseph as sold to an unnamed Egyptian; the governor of the prison is also unnamed. According to E, Joseph is sold to Potiphar the captain of the guard, and attends, not as himself a prisoner, but as Potiphar’ s slave ( cf. Genesis 41:12), to the officers who are in custody in the house. Clearly, Joseph’ s mistress cannot have been the wife of Potiphar the captain of the guard, who entrusts him with the service of Pharaoh’ s officers ( Genesis 40:4). The identification is made in Genesis 39 to harmonise the two accounts. The story has a striking Egyptian parallel in The Tale of the Two Brothers. The younger brother, tempted by the elder brother’ s wife, wrathfully rejects her proposals in affection for his brother and horror at her wickedness. Securing his silence, the wife accuses him to her husband, confirming her tale by wounds she has made on her body. The husband goes out to kill his brother, but, receiving proof of his innocence, kills his wife. A Greek parallel is the love of Phæ dra the wife of Theseus for Hippolytus, her husband’ s son, and several other peoples have similar stories.

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Genesis 39". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.