Today we begin Genesis Chapter 40.
For the Complete Jewish Bible, click here.
For the King James Version, click here.
So he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison, in the same place where Joseph was kept.-Genesis 40:3
Joseph is now 28 years old and sitting in prison.
Yet we are told that God has been keeping careful watch over him and guiding events on his behalf.
As a result, Joseph has risen to become supervisor over all the other prisoners.
This corporate-style managerial promotion might seem kind of odd given that Joseph was supposed to be locked up in a jail as a criminal.
However, in order to get a proper understanding of this situation, we need to throw away our modern day images of what prisons are like in our society.
The truth is prisons were hardly existent in most Canaanite societies and they didn’t exist at all in Hebrew societies.
Notice in verse 3 that Joseph wasn’t even being kept with the other prisoners.
We’re told he was being kept in the home of the prison captain.
Certainly he was in a state of confinement and certainly his dungeon-like dwelling place was quite different than the normal living quarters of those times.
But it was still a far cry from our current lock-up images of prisons where those jailed are constantly kept under tight watch.
Now some source Bible critics like to point out that it is a flat contradiction that Joseph was assigned to minister to the cupbearer and baker.
The point these critics are making is how could Joseph have been supervisor over ALL the prisoners at the end of chapter 39 and suddenly be in a subservient position to the baker and cupbearer in chapter 40?
Well, Joseph’s “ministering” to these two high officials from Pharaoh’s court need not imply a menial role.
Think about it.
These two men had occupied very important places in Pharaoh’s court.
And they are still “under trial” so to speak, as the Pharaoh may yet pardon them.
So it makes perfect sense that they would be singled out for special treatment in prison, to be attended personally by the warden’s right-hand man Joseph.
Again, we will see that all of these details will turn out to be divine providence, working themselves out on Joseph’s behalf.