on Genesis 40 :20
Pharaoh's birthday - The distinguishing a birthday by a feast appears from this place to have been a very ancient custom. It probably had its origin from a correct notion of the immortality of the soul, as the commencement of life must appear of great consequence to that person who believed he was to live for ever. St. Matthew (Matthew 14:6) mentions Herod's keeping his birthday; and examples of this kind are frequent to the present time in most nations.
Lifted up the head of the chief butler, etc. - By lifting up the head, probably no more is meant than bringing them to trial, tantamount to what was done by Jezebel and the nobles of Israel to Naboth: Set Naboth on high among the people; and set two men, sons of Belial, to bear witness against him, etc.; 1 Kings 21:9, etc. The issue of the trial was, the baker alone was found guilty and hanged; and the butler, being acquitted, was restored to his office.
on Genesis 40 :20
The interpretations prove correct. "The birthday of Pharaoh." It is natural and proper for men to celebrate with thanksgiving the day of their birth, as life is a pure and positive blessing. The benign Creator gives only a happy and precious form of existence to those whom he endows with the capacity of estimating its value. A birthday feast cannot be without a chief butler and a chief baker, and hence, the fate of these criminals must be promptly decided. "Lifted up the head;" a phrase of double meaning. The chief butler remembers not Joseph. This is a case of frequent occurrence in this nether world. But there is One above who does not forget him. He will deliver him at the proper time.
- Joseph Was Exalted
1. יאר ye'or, "river, canal," mostly applied to the Nile. Some suppose the word to be Coptic.
2. אחוּ 'āchû, "sedge, reed-grass, marsh-grass." This word is probably Coptic.
8. חרטמים charṭumı̂ym, ἐξηγηταὶ exēgētai, ἱερογραμματεῖς hierogrammateis, "sacred scribes, hieroglyphs." חרט chereṭ "stylus," a graving tool.
43. אברך 'abrēk "bend the knee." In this sense it is put for הברך habrēk imperative hiphil of ברך bārak. Those who take the word to be Coptic render it variously - "bow all, bow the head, cast thyself down."
45. פענח <צפנת tsāpenat-pa‛nēach, Tsaphenath-pa'neach, in the Septuagint ψονθομ-φανήχ Psonthom-Fanēch. "Revelator occulti," Kimchi. This is founded on an attempted Hebrew derivation. Σωτήρ κόσμου Sōtēr kosmou in Oxford MS., "servator mundi," Jerome. These point to a Coptic origin. Recent Egyptologists give P-sont-em-ph-anh, "the-salvation-of-the-life or world." This is a high-flowing title, in keeping with Eastern phraseology. אסנת 'âsnath, Asenath, perhaps belonging to Neith, or worshipper of Neith, a goddess corresponding to Athene of the Greeks. פוטי פרע pôṭı̂y-pera‛, Potiphera', seems to be a variation of פוטיפר Pôṭı̂yphar, Potiphar Genesis 37:36. אן 'ôn or און 'ôn, On equals Oein, "light, sun;" on the monuments TA-RA, "house of the sun." ביתשׁמשׁ bêyth shemesh, Jeremiah 43:13, Heliopolis, north of Memphis, on the east bank of the Nile.
51. מנשׁה menasheh, Menasheh, "causing to forget."
52. אפרים 'eprâyı̂m Ephraim, "double fruit."
Here we have the double dream of Pharaoh interpreted by Joseph, in consequence of which he is elevated over all the land of Egypt.
on Genesis 40 :20
40:20 He lifted up the head of these two prisoners - That is, arraigned and tried them; and he restored the chief butler, and hanged the chief baker.