Joseph’s Ascendancy

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’” (Gen. 41:38–39).  

- Genesis 41:37-45

In interpreting the pharaoh’s dream, Joseph shows himself to be a prototype of the later prophets because he not only describes future events, he also gives guidelines for mitigating or averting the troubles ahead (Gen. 41:25–36; Isa. 1:1–20). This combination of warning and wisdom pleases the pharaoh greatly, as we read in today’s passage.

The truth of Joseph’s words is so evident that the king of Egypt recognizes the Holy Spirit’s presence with him (Gen. 41:38). Of course, pagan notions probably color the pharaoh’s conception of Joseph’s anointing since his nation worships many gods. He is speaking with more wisdom than he knows, just like Caiaphas did when he spoke of Jesus’ death as a substitution (John 11:45–53).

Pharaoh immediately heeds the counsel to place a man in charge of famine relief (Gen. 41:34–36) and chooses Joseph for this task. Jacob’s son is invested with more prestige than we might have expected, for he is now second to the pharaoh in command over the land of the Nile (vv. 40, 43). After years of faithfulness in little things — obeying Jacob, serving Potiphar, and managing the prison (37:12–17;
39–40) — Joseph is finally given authority over much (Matt. 25:14–30). John Chrysostom preached: “Joseph bore distress with endurance; endurance gave him character; having such character he acted in hope, and hope did not disappoint him” (Homilies on Genesis, 63.17).

Joseph is given all the trappings of royalty — the pharaoh’s signet ring, fine clothing, jewelry, and a chariot (Gen. 41:41–42). As was customary, the king gives this foreigner an Egyptian name, Zaphenath-paneah, which means something like “God has spoken, and He lives.” Joseph is further established in his position through his marriage to the daughter of the priest of On, which was the center of the worship of the sun god Ra, one of the chief deities in the Egyptian pantheon (v. 45).

Jacob’s son was granted all this because he relied on the Lord and was empowered by the Holy Spirit, necessary qualifications for the wise, godly ruler (1 Sam. 16:13; Isa. 11). Thousands of years after Joseph, our Savior was also given this Spirit to reign as David’s greatest son over all those captives He sets free (Luke 4:16–21).

Coram Deo

The Spirit who gave wisdom to Jacob and empowered Christ to rule over all is the same Holy Spirit whom the Father freely grants to His people today (John 14:15–17). Even now He is writing God’s law on our hearts and slaying the remaining vestiges of sin and death. As we submit to Him, the Spirit’s work to make us holy becomes more and more evident in our lives. Let us cease resisting His direction and conviction so that we may become more like Him.

Passages for Further Study

Dan. 1
Mark 1:1–8
Rom. 8:1–11
Heb. 8; 10:1–18

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