13 March, 2016

Genesis 39:5—“… the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake …”

And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field (Gen. 39:5).

Genesis 39:5 says that the unbelieving Egyptian’s house was “blessed” by the Lord (for Joseph’s sake). Does this “blessing” of his house, however, mean that Potiphar and house were “loved” by God? That God had a “gracious disposition and favourable attitude” towards him?


Prof. Herman C. Hanko

[Source: Common Grace Considered (2019 edition), p. 279]

Why does consequent prosperity in some measure come to those who do keep God’s law outwardly? The answer is, first of all, that God works this way for the sake of His church. That is precisely the reason why God blessed the house of Potiphar for Joseph’s sake (Gen. 39:5). That is why we are commanded to pray for all those in authority over us, and pray, even, that they may observe the law of God; for, Paul writes Timothy, that among the reasons to pray for magistrates is that the church may “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (I Tim. 2:1-2).



Robert C. Harbach (1914-1996)

[Source: Studies in the Book of Genesis, pp. 732-733]

The Lord was with Joseph; he was a prosperous man. The Lord showed him mercy. Then the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake. The blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house and in the field (Deut. 28:3–8). It is not said that the Lord was with the jailer, or with Pharaoh, or with the Egyptian nation, or with Potiphar, or that the Egyptian was blessed. It is not said of Potiphar as is said of Obed-Edom, that both he and his house were blessed (II Sam. 6:11). Rather, with respect to Potiphar, certain in his house were blessed, as in Caesar’s household (Phil. 4:22). God had predestined a people for Himself in the house of Potiphar. Through Abraham’s Seed, all the families of the earth are destined to be blessed. So there were (and could be yet) elect Egyptians (Isa. 19:19–25). The Lord “blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake.” Blessing upon his house means much more than earthly prosperity and providential gifts bestowed on them, but refers to spiritual good, everlasting grace given certain in Potiphar’s household. Regeneration, calling, conversion, and faith were wrought in them for Joseph’s sake. All things, especially such things, are done for the elect’s sake, that they may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus (II Tim. 2:10). So Lot was saved for Abraham’s sake (Gen. 19:29).

But Potiphar and all his wicked heathen house enjoyed the prosperity. (Compare Psalm 73:3). God in His providence gives prosperity, but not blessing (cp. 73:12 with 18–20, 27) to the wicked, in order that certain of His purposes may be fulfilled. God would use this prosperity to bring Joseph into favour with Potiphar as one of the steps taken to bring him to prison and then to the throne. His management of Potiphar’s affairs was training for later rule over Egypt in order that the covenant people might be provided a place in which to become a great nation. God’s providential works are enough proof of His existence, His agency, and direction of all His creatures and all their actions. In His providence He worked in such a way as to produce a certain effect on Potiphar. The lesson He intended for him he understood and learned. He saw that God was with Joseph. This was not only true of Potiphar, but all men see God’s works of creation and providence, so that they are without excuse. God gave prosperity to Potiphar and blessing within his household through the judicious management of Joseph. God did this to show His sovereignty in influencing men, whether His friends or enemies, whether with the use of means or without means, so to preserve His church in a hostile world.



More to Come! (DV)

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