42 “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. 43 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. 44 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.” 45 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.” (Genesis 41:42–45 (ESV)
Pharaoh installation of Joseph as administrator in Egypt was filled with much fanfare. There are four notable occurrences.
Frist, Pharaoh gave Joseph several personal items verifying the young Hebrew’s new, elevated status. Pharaoh gave Joseph his own signet ring. The ring include a seal which would be used for signing documents. Pharaoh had Joseph clothed in fine, linen garments. After all, clothes make the man. Finally, Joseph received a gold chain to be worn around his neck.
Second, Pharaoh had Joseph publically ride in the second chariot during his installation. This was a common Egyptian custom. The “second chariot” was a chariot that immediately followed after Pharaoh’s chariot in state processions. An individual running before the chariot would begin shouting “Bow the knee!” or “Make way!” The chariot, and the announcement, designated that the one riding in it was second-in-command to Pharaoh.
Third, Pharaoh changed Joseph’s name. He would be called name Zaphenath-paneah, which means “the god speaks and he lives.”
Finally, Joseph’s newly established nobility was further cemented by marriage. Pharaoh gave Joseph in marriage to Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On.
Today’s text concludes with the statement “So Joseph went out over the land of Egypt.” The prisoner is now a prince. The one who had known imprisonment for so long freely traveled throughout the land of Egypt. The estranged and jailed criminal is now established, freed and honored.
Joseph is not unlike the sinner who before God was estranged, a debtor and a criminal. By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone God reconciled, paid the debt of sin through Christ’s substitutionary atonement, and now calls the sinner His child.
Dr. R .C. Sproul explains, “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 4:16–2).
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Soli deo Gloria!