Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife & The Two Brothers

Hands OutThese people are something else, they’ll do anything to get what they want. 

Joseph was sold so now what’s gonna happen to him?

“And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmaelite’s, which had brought him down thither. 

And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. 

And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand. 

And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand” (Gen 39: 1-4).

That is quite the change, especially for a 17 year old.  Potiphar didn’t even know all that he owned, he trusted Joseph that much.  Joseph had one small problem, Potiphar’s wife liked what she saw.

1. Bursa
Archaeological excavations that have been carried out in the northwestern province of Bursa have discovered 2,300-year-old dungeons used for execution and torturing during the Bithynia Kingdom era.

Archaeologists discovered that the dungeons, which contain a “bloody well,” “torture chamber” and “corridors connected to tower,” used horrific execution methods.

“And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. 

But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand;

There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back anything from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Gen 39:7-9).

“And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. 

And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.

And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth,

That she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in a Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice” (Gen 39:11-14).

Potiphar’s wife told him that Joseph tried to rape her and he was put in the dungeon. 

But even in prison, God was with him, like He was with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  He made it so the keeper of the prison liked Joseph so much that he let him be in charge of all the other prisoners.

The Two Brothers

An Egyptian text called Papyrus D’Orbiney, dating to approximately 1225 B.C., contains a story titled “The Two Brothers.”

2. The Tale of Two Brothers
The Tale of Two Brothers is an ancient Egyptian story that dates from the reign of Seti II, who ruled from 1200 to 1194 B.C. during the 19th Dynasty of the New Kingdom.
The story is preserved on the Papyrus D’Orbiney, which is currently preserved in the British Museum.

Vividly illustrating the fantastic nature of ancient storytelling, this tale is a curious example of a non-biblical story hav­ing striking similarities to a Biblical text.

In this fictional account, Bata lived with and faithfully served his older brother, Anubis. One day Anubis’s wife tried to seduce Bata, who rejected her advances.


Furious, she accused him of attempted rape, and the enraged Anubis prepared to kill Bata.

But Bata, forewarned by a cow, fled in the nick of time. A lake filled with crocodiles magically appeared between the brothers, cutting off Anubis’s pursuit. Anubis returned home and proceeded to kill his wife.

Meanwhile, Bata cut out his own heart and placed it high in a pine tree, an act rendering him nearly immortal. The gods fashioned a beautiful wife for Bata.

An immoral woman, however, she entered Pharaoh’s harem and divulged to the Egyptians that Bata could be killed by cutting down the pine tree.

They followed through, but Anubis, apparently pre­pared to reconcile with Bata, found his brother’s heart and restored him to life.

Bata in turn transformed himself into a bull and carried Anubis to Pharaoh’s court, where Bata’s alarmed wife persuaded Pharaoh to sacrifice the bull.

Its blood caused two trees to sprout. Realizing that Bata still lived, his wife arranged to have the trees cut down, but a splinter flew into her mouth and she became pregnant.

She bore a son, whom Pharaoh raised as his crown prince. The boy – Bata himself – in due course became the pharaoh and appointed Anubis to be his viceroy.

3. Ancient Egyptian literature
Ancient Egyptian literature comprises a wide array of narrative and poetic forms including inscriptions on tombs, stele, obelisks, and temples; myths, stories, and legends; religious writings; philosophical works; autobiographies; biographies; histories; poetry; hymns; personal essays; letters and court records. Although many of these forms are not usually defined as “literature” they are given that designation in Egyptian studies because so many of them, especially from the Middle Kingdom (2040-1782 BCE), are of such high literary merit.

Outlandish as this tale may seem to us, many scholars have noted the amazing sim­ilarities between it and the Biblical account of Joseph.

Obvious parallels include a rival­ry between brothers, a false accusation of rape and an ascent to power in Egypt.

There is no reason, however, to surmise that the Biblical story may have been derived from this Egyptian tale.

The bizarre quality of the Egyptian story contrasts strongly with the factual tone of the historical, Biblical narrative. At the same time, parallels between the stories may not have been accidental.

If composed after the time of Joseph, the Egyptian tale may have been influenced by the Biblical reality.

If the Egyptian story existed prior to the time of Joseph (assuming that Papyrus D’Orbiney was not its earliest iteration), the obvious parallels included in the Joseph nar­rative may have been intended to signal the fact that the God of Israel could elevate a son of Israel to power, even in an Egyptian context.

The argument could be made that the Biblical account shows that Joseph fulfilled even the Egyptian ideal of a hero.

For another parallel to a Biblical story, see The Tale of Appu’s Two Sons.

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