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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Potiphar (/ˈpɒtɪfər/[1] Hebrew: פּוֹטִיפַר֩‎, romanizedpō-w-ṭî-p̄ar, lit. 'he whom Ra has given'[2]), also known as Aziz in Islam, is figure in the Hebrew Bible and the Quran.[3] He is the captain of Pharaoh's guard who is said to have purchased Joseph as a slave and, impressed by his intelligence, makes him the master of his household. Unfortunately, Potiphar's wife, who was known for her infidelities, took a liking to Joseph, and attempted to seduce him. When Joseph refused her advances, and ran off, she, in retaliation, falsely accused him of trying to rape her, and Potiphar had Joseph imprisoned. It's possible that Potiphar secretly knew his wife was lying, as he spared Joseph's life, as rape was punishable by death. What is known of Potiphar after that is unclear; some sources identify him as Potipherah, an Egyptian priest whose daughter, Asenath, marries Joseph.[4] The false accusation by Potiphar's wife plays an important role in Joseph's narrative, as had he'd never been imprisoned, he never would've met the fellow prisoner who introduced him to Pharaoh.

Joseph and Potiphar's Wife, by Guido Reni 1630
Joseph and Potiphar's Wife, by Guido Reni 1630
Joseph Accused by Potiphar's Wife, by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1655.
Joseph Accused by Potiphar's Wife, by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1655.
Joseph and Potiphar's Wife, Joseph leaving by Orazio Gentileschi
Joseph and Potiphar's Wife, Joseph leaving by Orazio Gentileschi

The medieval Sefer HaYashar, a commentary on the Torah, gives Potiphar's wife's name as Zuleikha, as do many Islamic traditions and thus the Persian poem called Yusuf and Zulaikha from Jami's Haft Awrang ("Seven thrones"). Because of the Egyptian location wherein the scene is staged, it is not impossible to detect in this biblical writing also a more recent echo of the very old Egyptian fable of the two brothers Bata and Anpu.[5][6][failed verification]

The story became very common in Western art in the Renaissance and Baroque periods, usually showing the moment when Joseph tears himself away from the bed containing a more or less naked figure of Potiphar's wife. Persian miniatures often illustrate Yusuf and Zulaikha in Jami's Haft Awrang ("Seven thrones").

YouTube Encyclopedic

  • 1/3
    16 051
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  • ✪ Joseph in Egypt: Overcoming Evil Eye, Potiphar's Wife Sex Magic - Miketz #10, RasTafari Sabbath
  • ✪ David Wang: Genesis 39: Joseph and Potiphar's Wife - Biola University Chapel
  • ✪ Le corps humain désiré - Joseph et la femme de Potiphar




in hieroglyphs

Potiphar (Hebrew: פוטיפר‎) is the shortened form of פוטיפרע "Potiphera" from Late Egyptian pꜣ-dj-pꜣ-rꜥ "he whom Ra has given."[7] This is analogous to the name "Theodore"="God's gift" in the Western world.[8]

Religious references

It is difficult to place Potiphar or Joseph accurately to a particular pharaoh or time period. On the Jewish calendar, Joseph was purchased in the year 2216, which is 1544 BC, at the end of the Second Intermediate Period or very beginning of the New Kingdom. The Torah in which the story appears (see also the Bible and the Quran) was the earliest written of the three: c. 600 BC during the Babylonian Exile. According to the documentary hypothesis, the story of Potiphar and his wife is credited to the Yahwist source, and stands in the same place that the stories of the butler and the baker and Pharaoh's dreams stand in the Elohist text.

According to G.J. Wenham (IVP New Bible Commentary) execution was normal for rape cases, and thus the story implies that Potiphar may have had doubts about his wife's account.

The Book of Abraham, included in the Pearl of Great Price, one of the standard works of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and by churches of the Latter Day Saint movement, refers to a "Potiphar`s Hill" in Egypt (Abraham 1:10, 20).

Cultural references

  • In art the subject is one of the most commonly shown in the Power of Women topos.
  • There is a Persian poem called Yusuf and Zulaikha in Jami's Haft Awrang ("Seven thrones")
  • In The Divine Comedy, Dante sees the shade of Potiphar's wife in the eighth circle of Hell. She does not speak, but Dante is told by another spirit that, along with other perjurers, she is condemned to suffer a burning fever for all eternity.
  • In the John Sayles film Matewan, Will Oldham plays a young minister boy who preaches the story of Potiphar to his small town.
  • In Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Potiphar is a tycoon of ancient Egypt who made his wealth through buying shares in pyramids, ("Potiphar had made a huge pile, owned a large percentage of the Nile"). His wife is a seductive man-eater. Both feature in the song "Potiphar".
  • In John Keats' poem, "On Fame", Keats calls Fame "Sister-in-law to jealous Potiphar".
  • In the animated film Joseph: King of Dreams, prior to having him jailed for allegedly assaulting his wife, Potiphar takes notice of Joseph's intelligence and makes him a chief slave in his household. He orders Joseph to be executed for the attempted rape of his wife, but when she asks him to stop, Potiphar realizes Joseph was telling the truth of his innocence and instead has him jailed to save face, though he shows great disgust at his wife. Potiphar later brings Joseph to Pharaoh, who is plagued by inexplicable dreams, and expresses deep regret for having Joseph put in prison. He tells Pharaoh that he trusts Joseph "with [his] life."
  • Thomas Mann in Joseph and his Brothers suggests that her sexual frustration is partly because Potiphar is a eunuch.


See also


  1. ^ Hebrew: פּוֹטִיפַר / פּוֹטִיפָר, Modern Potifar Tiberian Pôṭîp̄ar / Pôṭîp̄ār; Arabic: بوتيفار ; Egyptian origin: pꜣ-dj-pꜣ-rꜥ "he whom Ra gave"
  2. ^ "Genesis 39:1 Hebrew Text Analysis". Retrieved 2019-09-15.
  3. ^ The Encyclopaedia of Islam. Brill Archive. 1954. ISBN 9004060561. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  4. ^ "POTIPHAR -".
  5. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, Joseph (biblical figure)
  6. ^ "Anpu and Bata".
  7. ^ Ulmer, Rivka (2009-12-15). Egyptian Cultural Icons in Midrash. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 9783110223934. [1]
  8. ^ Asimov, Isaac (1967). Guide to the Bible - Old Testament. p. 106.


  • Osman, A. (1987) The Hebrew Pharaohs of Egypt, Bear & Co.: Rochester, Vermont. ISBN 9781591430223.
This page was last edited on 22 October 2019, at 03:25
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