Chapter 41:37-45 (ESV) - This proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph's hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck. And he made him ride in his second chariot. And they called out before him, “Bow the knee!” Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt. Moreover, Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no one shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphenath-paneah. And he gave him in marriage Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On. So Joseph went out over the land of Egypt.
Question to consider: Why does Pharaoh make Joseph second in command of Egypt?
When Pharaoh proclaimed that Joseph had the Spirit of God, Moses would have been referring to the Holy Spirit in his writing to Israel. This does not mean that Pharaoh had bent his knee to God. The name of God being used by Pharaoh was Elohim. Though the Hebrews viewed Elohim as a reference to the one and only God, the Egyptians would have seen Elohim as “the gods.” So in Pharaoh’s eyes, Joseph received his words directly from the gods. Since no magician or wise man in his kingdom was able to interpret his dream, this made Joseph the wisest man in the kingdom since he did not claim to be a magician.
Since Joseph had put together a plan of action that pleased the Pharaoh, it seemed obvious that he should be the man to carry it out. I’m sure he had good references from how he managed the prison and maybe even from Potipher himself. Being given the signet ring would grant Joseph the authority to give commands in the name of Pharaoh. The expression Pharaoh used that no one shall “lift up hand or foot” appeared to be a description of battle preparation. Thus, no man was to lift a hand to gird on arms or a foot to mount a horse without the command of Joseph.
The targum states that the name given to Joseph meant, “man who revealeth mysteries,” and Asenath was thought to have been raised by Potiphera priest of On but born to Dinah after being raped by Shechem who abandoned her at the border of Egypt. There’s no way to verify if this is true, but if it were, it would mean that Joseph was able to marry a Hebrew even though he was living in Egypt.
People who are jealous of Joseph’s rise to power probably wouldn’t have been able to endure the 13 years of captivity that led to it. In order to be a man of wisdom in the midst of such power, God refined Joseph in the fires of adversity. When the serpent tempted Adam with such power, Adam had no such wisdom. Adam may have been God’s perfect creation, but Joseph was the better man.
Dear Lord, thank You for providing our daily bread and keeping us from harm. Help us to grow in wisdom and faith so that we can be trusted to meet the tasks You have put before us. Whether You have given us 5 talents, 2 talents, or 1 talent, help us to work as Your faithful servant so we can look forward to Your return. Amen.