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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible

Genesis 40



Verse 3

The captain of the guard, to wit, Potiphar, Genesis 37:36, who being informed by his underkeeper of Joseph’s great care and faithfulness, began to have a better opinion of him, though for his own quiet, and his wife’s reputation, he left him still in the prison.

Where Joseph was bound; was a prisoner, as that word is used, Isaiah 22:3; for Joseph being now made governor of the prisoners, was doubtless freed from his bonds: or had been bound, and that with irons in a cruel manner, Psalms 105:18.

Verse 4

A season, Heb. days, i.e. either many days, or a year, as that word sometimes signifies. See Genesis 24:55.

Verse 5

1718 i.e. Not a vain and idle dream, but one that had in it a signification of future things, and needed interpretation; and the several dreams were proper and agreeable to the several events which befell them, and to the several interpretations which Joseph put upon them: the dream and interpretation did fitly answer one to the other.

Verse 6

Perplexed and terrified both, because they perceived the dream was extraordinary and sent from God; compare Genesis 41:8 Daniel 2:1 Matthew 27:19; and because they understood not the meaning of it.

Verse 8

There is no interpreter of it, to wit, with us, or to whom we can now resort; for otherwise there were many in Egypt of that profession, Genesis 41:8.

Do not interpretations belong to God? In vain do you expect such things from your wise men, for it is only that God who sends these dreams that can interpret them, and to him you should seek for it.

Tell me, who am the servant of the true God, who useth to communicate his secrets to his people, and who, I doubt not, will hear my prayers for this mercy. This he spoke by special direction and instinct from God, who had given this gift to him.

Verse 12

i.e. Signify

three days. So that word is oft used, as Genesis 40:18 41:26,27 Da 2:38 4:22 Matthew 13:19,38 26:26,28 Lu 8:11 1 Corinthians 10:4. And indeed there is no proper Hebrew word which answers to signify.

Verse 13

Lift up thine head, i.e. advance thee to thy former dignity. So that phrase is used 2 Kings 25:27 Psalms 110:7. Or, reckon thy head, i.e. thy name or thy person, to wit, among his servants, which is added, Genesis 40:20. According to the custom, which was this: at set times governors of families used to take an account of their servants, and to have the names of their servants read to them, and they either left them in the catalogue, or put any of them out, as they saw fit, and inflicted such further punishments upon any of them as they deserved. This seems the truer interpretation, because it is said that Pharaoh lifted up the head of his butler, and of his baker, Genesis 40:20, and therefore the phrase must be so expounded, as to agree equally to both.

Verse 14

Though he patiently endures his prison, yet he prudently useth all lawful means to get his freedom.

Verse 15

I was stolen away, taken away by force and fraud, without my own or father’s consent, out of the land of Canaan, which he might call the land of the Hebrews, either because they now dwelt in it, or by way of protestation of their right and claim to it by God’s gift. Or rather thus, out of that part of Canaan where the Hebrews dwell; for the word land is not only spoken of whole countries, as of the whole land of Canaan, but of any parts or parcels thereof, as Genesis 13:6 22:2 23:15 34:1. Observe, that Joseph doth not accuse either his brethren or his mistress, but only asserts his own innocency, which was necessary for his deliverance.

Verse 16

White baskets; so called from the colour, either of the baskets, which were made of pilled, and so white twigs, or of the things contained in them, as white bread, &c.

Verse 19

From off thee. This clause is industriously added here to the former phrase, to show that it was now meant in another sense. He shall indeed lift up thy head, as well as the chief butler’s, but in another manner, not for time, but

from thee, or so as to take away thy head or thy life (which eminently consists and appears in the head) from thee.

Verse 20

Pharaoh’s birthday. Birth-days by persons of eminency then were, and since have usually been, celebrated with feasting and rejoicing.

Verse 23

i.e. Neglected him and his desire; as men in Scripture are oft said to forget God, when they do not remember him so as to love and obey him, as Psalms 106:13,21 Ho 2:13.


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Bibliography Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Genesis 40:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

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