Joseph Rules (Genesis 41:41-57)

JOSEPH’s GLORY (41-45)

For years nothing went Joseph’s way.  Now everything was going his way.  Joseph’s glory now arrives.  Follow along in verses 41-45, “….”

Psalm 105 …

Pharaoh paraded Joseph around for all of Egypt to see.  He wanted that when the people of Egypt saw Joseph they saw Pharaoh.  Joseph was at Pharaoh’s right hand, his power would be equal to Pharaoh’s, reverence for Joseph would be equal to Pharaoh’s, all were to submit to him as Pharaoh.

After giving him power, the king makes Joseph look like someone who has power.  Joseph gets the finest robes, the king’s own signet ring, and a giant golden chain around his neck.  Walking into the palace Joseph looked handsome, walking out he looked like power.  

The king’s ring is the signet ring, and it was used to seal documents by pressing it into soft clay and making an image on that clay seal.  That was the king’s image.  And the king just gave it to Joseph.  This wasn’t simply a signature stamp to sign documents -it was a sign of his authority to decree laws and seal those laws with kingly authority.  This is what the king was conveying in verse 44, “without your word, Joseph, no one will lift hand or foot in all of Egypt.”  Joseph you have so much power no one will blink unless you say so. The king wanted Joseph to look powerful because Joseph was now the most powerful man in all Egypt.  

So Joseph has a new job, new clothes, new bling, and we see he also had a new ride.  Verse 43 says the king took him for a spin in his very own chariot.  It wasn’t just them though – there was a whole parade of royal chariots.  Men with loud voices in the front announced the king by shouting “Make way!  Make way!”  And when they saw the king they saw Joseph.  When they saw Pharaoh they saw who was at his right hand.  When they thought of the king they thought of his right hand man.  When they thought of his right hand man they thought of the king.  

Sound familiar?  “If you’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father, Philip.”  (Jn 14)  “And Jesus was raised up by God’s power and seated at God’s right hand in the heavenlies far above all rule and authority.” (Col 1; Rom 8; Php 2; Heb 1)

But the king is not done with Joseph.  The man who would be ruler over all Egypt has to have an Egyptian name.  “Joseph” is way too Hebrew-ish.  (The woke Egyptians would have set their hair on fire over this).  This is common all throughout history.  Later King Nebuchadnezzar would rename Daniel and his three friends with more “Babylonian” sounding names. In general we see God renaming people all the time (Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel, Simon to Peter, etc.)  

Here, the king renames Joseph to “Zaphenath-Paneah.”  Apparently the meaning of this name is uncertain and scholars aren’t sure of it.  Some of the proposed meanings are “The Nourisher of the Two Lands,” or “The Living One,” or “God speaks and He lives.”  I’ve also read it could possibly mean, “Sustainer of Life.”  If names reflect a person’s character or reputation then certainly Joseph would be seen as the Sustainer of Egyptian life during the famine.  Certainly God spoke through Joseph and through dreams.  Regardless – we’re going to keep calling him “Joseph!”

Joseph’s life was a long way from his father’s house.  He has been on a 13 year journey.  (By the way, I have to make a correction.  Last week I said Joseph was 25 years old but I forgot that the chapter said he was 30 years old).  It’s been a long hard 13 years for Joseph.  You wonder how much of his father’s house he remembered.  You wonder if Egypt was “growing” on him now that he was governing it.  You wonder if at night he thought about what his father Jacob and all his brothers were doing.  I wondered this week:  why didn’t Joseph send word to his father after rising to power?  

Joseph has everything.  Well almost everything.  God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.”  So Pharaoh gives Joseph a wife.  Verse 45 says Pharaoh gave a woman named “Asenath” to be Joseph’s new wife.  Who was she?  She was no peasant – remember Pharaoh was giving Joseph the best of everything. Asenath was the “daughter of Potiphera, priest of On.”  In giving her to Joseph, Pharaoh was giving Joseph just about the greatest honor a bachelor could get in Egypt.  Her family was a priestly family in Egypt.  And not just any priestly family, her dad was “Potiphera,” which is not to be confused with any relation to Potipher.  Potiphera the priest served at “On,” also known in the Greek as “Heliopolis,” which means “Sun City.”  They worshipped the sun god “Ra” in the city of On (Heliopolis).  This woman’s family was elite.  Asenath was probably very educated, very devout, and had all the graces and culture of royalty.  In the garden God gave Adam a home, a job and then a wife.  In Egypt, God gave Joseph a home, a career, and then a wife.  

ANTI-APPLICATION:  (Yes, I not only have introduced you to the “Application to the Application,” but now I am introducing you to the “Anti-Application.”  Ready?  Do not marry a pagan.  As much as Asenath had going for her, she didn’t believe like Joseph.  I have no idea what that turned out to be like in their marriage.  But as we are not in a situation like Joseph was in, let us keep the command of the LORD to not be unequally yoked – meaning let us not as believers join ourselves with unbelievers.


Next we see Joseph’s sons, …

So for seven years Joseph is working overtime throughout the land of Egypt.  He is building storehouses all over Egypt and filling those storehouses with grain collected from all the Egyptians.  He’s Joseph, so its all managed very efficiently and the records are all very accurate.  And the abundance became so great it says that he could not keep track of it anymore.  They hung their clipboards up and put away their calculators.  They were drowning in grain.  

During all this God blessed Joseph and Asenath with two sons.  The first was Manasseh and the second was Ephraim.  

You see right away how personal the names of these sons were to Joseph.  Joseph gave them names that reflected the arc of his life up to that point.  Their names were testimonies of his faith, and his acknowledgement of God through the trials he has suffered in his 30+ years on this planet – where he had come from and where he had ended up.  And all of it by God’s design and goodness.

Manasseh means “forget” and Joseph says, “God has made me forget all my troubles and my father’s household.”  Not that he couldn’t remember them, not that he didn’t long to see them anymore, but the bitterness and pain of the last 13 years and the sadness of losing what he had in his father’s house was fading.  God had transplanted him in Egypt and things were going unimaginably good for him.  The new that was good helped to dissolve the old that hurt.  

APPLICATION:  It won’t always hurt.  The valley will lead to the hilltop.  The darkness will open up to light.  

Then his second son is born, and he names him Ephraim, which means twice fruitful.  Joseph said, “God has made me fruitful.”  Actually, that’s not what he said.  What he said was, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”  That is powerful.  God was with him in his place of suffering and in that place God has blessed him.  Although he was cut off from his family and sent far away – beaten down, run over – in the midst of all that God made him prosper.  God made him increase.  God made him fruitful.  

APPLICATION:  God blesses in the good seasons and bad.  Remember Psalm 23?  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil because you are with me….”  God blessing you does not depend on everything being “just right” as you imagine “just right” to be.  He blesses when everything is going your way and when nothing is going your way.  God’s blessings do not depend on you being “where” you thought you’d be in life.


Now comes the Famine, read 53-57….

Just as Joseph said.  Does that stand out to you?  “Just as Joseph said?”  It should.  It means “Just as God said” because it was God who revealed the coming famine to Joseph.  

APPLICATION:  It will all happen just as the prophets have said.  Believe the prophets because the speak the words of our God.  “Let God be true and every man a liar.”  “Am I a man that I should lie or the son of man that I would change my mind? Do I speak and not act?  Do I promise and not fulfill?”  Turn to Isaiah 41:22-23….44:24-26….46:10…48:3, 5….   

Once the Egyptians began to feel the famine they went to Pharaoh, who told them to go to Joseph.  So Joseph opened up those storehouses so that the people could survive.  The plan was paying off.

APPLICATION:  Follow the guidance of those who are wise around you.  Joseph’s wisdom was implemented by Pharaoh and it paid off.  If you want to see how foolish it is to reject the wisdom of those around you go look up what happened to King Rehoboam in 1 Kings 12.  “Those who walk with the wise become wise” Proverbs 13 teaches.

The famine was not only in Egypt, but also in all the nations around Egypt.  Famines are a frequent occurrence in the Bible.  Many times they are punishments from God.  This one doesn’t seem to be a punishment, although it may have been for reasons we’re not told.  God can have many reasons for doing something. One thing we know for sure, this famine was the means God used to move Jacob and his family to Egypt.  Let’s notice a couple things about this:

First, God told Abraham his descendents would be enslaved in a foreign nation and God would deliver them.  At the time God said that Abraham was in the promised land.  How would his descendents get to Egypt?  We find out in the last chapters of Genesis that this famine was the reason they moved there.

But don’t you still ask the question “Why?”  “Why did they have to go to Egypt, be enslaved and get rescued from God at all?  Why not just stay in the promised land and never leave?”  Which leads us to another point to notice….

Second,  because the Messiah, the seed of Abraham, would come later, and events in his life would be foreshadowed by the events in the early life of the nation.  The young nation went to Egypt and later was led back (Ex 4:22-23; Hos 11:1).  The young Christ child would flee to Egypt and later would return.  Matthew 2:15 says about Jesus’ flight to Egypt as a child  to escape Herod, “And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet:  ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.”  That was partially fulfilled in Israel’s deliverance from Egypt.  But the completion of that prophecy came when Jesus, the true Israelite, was called back from Egypt.  Overlaying Israel’s own  history is the Christ-child’s  This historical event is a parallel to events in Christ’s life.  Just like Joseph is a parallel, so too is the nation of Israel itself in ways like this.  “These are the Scriptures that speak of me” Jesus said about the OT.

APPLICATION:  God has ordered the history of the world to revolve around Jesus Christ.  Ephesians 1 talks about eventually God’s purpose will be completed when he “sums up everything in Christ.”  How might that work in our own lives?  How should we order the entirety of the rest of our lives around Jesus?  How might we make Jesus the “sum” of everything in our lives?  

APPLICATION:  Just as Israel was called out of Egypt, and just as Jesus was called out of Egypt, so now you are called out of your Egypt.  Leave behind the idols of your Christ-less life.  Follow Christ out of your enslavement to sin and the world’s ways.  Escape the judgment that will come upon your Egypt if you don’t flee.  You are hearing the call:  come to Christ.  What are you doing with the call?

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