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History offers no indication that coined
ever, foreign money, first Greek and then money existed anywhere in the east or west, Roman, was that which they chiefly employed till upwards of a thousand years after the date in their dealings. of this transaction, and it offers much evidence To return to Jacob.-If the preceding statethat none did till then exist; and it is utterly ment shows the improbability—even the abincredible that the Hebrews or the Canaanites, surdity, of alleging that he paid stamped money not only in the time of the patriarchs, Lut at any for the field he bought at Shechem, it only subsequent date in their history, should have remains to ask whether he actually gave a had stamped coin before near and distant na. hundred lambs, or as much silver as was worth tions, many of them more civilized, and nearly a hundred lambs. We have not much objection all of them more commercial than themselves. to the latter alternative, but we see not what In fact, the invention of marked or stamped necessity for it is created by the fact that money is not one, as far as we know, for which silver had already become a medium of exan oriental origin has been claimed. Gold and change, when we know that then and for a silver in ingots, bars and rings, delivered and re- very long time after it was only used for this ceived by weight, were the general instruments purpose under circumstances in which barter of traffic among the nations of Western Asia, would have been impracticable or less conand even the Egyptians, down to a date con- venient. The Shechemites had land, and siderably after that at which we know that the Jacob had sheep; and if they wanted his sheep Greeks were in possession of coined money; as much as he wanted their land, it was the most nor among any of these do we find any coined natural thing possible for him to give and them money till we can historically prove that they to take his sheep for their land, even though were in a condition to learn the use of it from silver was known as a medium of exchange. the Greeks. This is singularly the case with Otherwise there must have been an intermethe Jews, among whom we find not the least diate process; and the money paid by Jacob trace of money coinage till so late as the time would have been the amount which he had obof Simon Maccabæus, to whom the Greek king tained by the sale of a hundred lambs, or their of Syria, Antiochus Sidetes, granted the privi- equivalents in other cattle, in some other lege of coining money.* It seems indeed suf- place. Where the direct operation was equally ficiently clear that although they might for acceptable, it would be preferred to this intersome time before have had some slight ac- mediate process. The present is not the only quaintance with coined money as a curious fact which illustrates or bears on this. Jacob foreign invention, they did not know it as a himself required cattle, not silver, as the wages practical matter until after their national exist- of his service with Laban; and cattle were the ence had been extinguished by Nebuchad- only presents which he offered to his brother
And then, for some centuries or more, Esau. His son Judah offered Tamar a kid as they were in too dependent a condition to have the price of her sin. Even Solomon paid the any money of their own, but used that of their Tyrians, not in silver, but in corn and oil for successive masters and their neighbours, until, the workmen and timber which they supplied: under the Maccabees, they rose again to such and in the long-subsequent case of Hosea's national importance as led them to desire a purchase of a wife for five shekels weight of coinage for themselves. Even after this, how- silver and a measure and a half of corn, we • 1 Mac. xv. 6.
sce the one process helping out he other.
When the Ishmaelites who had bought Joseph arrived in Egypt, they exposed him for sale, (') and he was purchased for the domestic service of Potiphar, an officer of high rank in the court of the Egyptian king, and chief of the royal police.() Instead of repining in his new situation, he applied himself with great diligence and fidelity to the discharge of its duties. These qualities are too rare and valuable in a newly-purchased slave to escape the master's notice. Joseph's conduct engaged Potiphar's attention and won his esteem; and when he moreover found that his slave was blessed with singular prosperity in all his undertakings, he raised him to his confidence, and, in the end, he intrusted the management of all his concerns
to him, making him steward, not only over his household, but over his lands. In this honourable station, which in the East is one of more authority and power (even when held by a slave) than anything in our own state of society would suggest—the son of Jacob might have been tolerably happy; and doubtless was so, save when his mind wandered to his father and his father's tents.
He had been ten years in the service of Potiphar, and had reached the fine age of twenty-seven years, when it happened that his extreme comeliness attracted the attention of his master's wife. Finding him insensible to her slighter seductions and overtures, she at last came to declare to him plainly her criminal desires ; and this she did one day, when all the
family were from home, in so very passionate a [Egyptian Stewards.]
manner, that Joseph, not deeming it safe to stay
and plead, as he had been wont to do, his obligations to his master, and his duty to his God, abruptly withdrew, leaving in her hand his outer garment,* of which she had laid hold.
As might be expected, the love of Potiphar's wife was turned to bitter hatred by this affront, and she resolved to be the ruin of the man by whom her advances had been repelled. The means by which this might be effected would readily occur to the sharp invention of a resentful woman. She raised a terrible outcry; and, when those who were within hearing hastened to the spot, she declared that Joseph had made an attempt upon her virtue, but when he heard her cries he fled, leaving behind him his mantle. The promotion of a foreign slave, descended from a class of men hateful to the Egyptians, to the chief authority in the large household of Potiphar, was calculated to raise the envy and jealousy of other members of that household. This the woman knew, and, artfully appealing to feelings so well calculated to make their ears greedy for a tale to his disadvantage, she said, “ See, he [Potiphar) hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us.”
When the good man himself came home, she related to him the story of the guilty impudence of the “ Hebrew slave,” with such passionate earnestness of indignation,
This was a kind of narrow mantle or skirt, covering the back and reaching to about the middle of the leg. In the sculptures and paintings of ancient Egypt it is almost always seen as worn by overseers and stewards, and appears to have been a part of their distinguishing dress. From the manner in which the lower part of it only is bronght into view, it is manifest that it was only used as the outer covering for the back.
that no doubt of its truth could be suggested to his mind, especially as the evidence of the cloak lay before his eyes. In most cases an Oriental master would, under such circumstances, put his slave instantly to death; and, as Potiphar's resentment must have been all the greater for the esteem in which he had held Joseph, and the entire confidence he had reposed in him, we agree not with those who think that such feelings now operated in preventing him from slaying the slave he supposed so unfaithful, but are rather disposed to conclude that in a country which was so subject to law, and whose government was so completely organised as that of Egypt, no master, not even of Potiphar's rank in the state, was allowed to inflict death even on a slave. The measure he took was to send Joseph to the prison in which the king's prisoners were kept, and which was probably under his own direction as chief of the royal police. Here “ his feet were galled with fetters; the iron entered into his soul."*
But the horrors of this imprisonment were soon mitigated through the kindness of the keeper, who was won by his engaging disposition and his abilities to release him from his chains and commit all the other prisoners to his charge. As imprisonment has rarely been used among the ancient or modern nations of the East as a punishment after trial or judgment, but only to detain men in safe keeping until they have been tried, or until it has been determined what to do with them,-it is rather difficult to account for Joseph's long imprisonment of three years, but by supposing it the result of his master's indecision, encouraged by the opportunity, which his official post afforded him, of keeping his slave imprisoned without question or interference from other parties. We have no doubt that, when Potiphar sent Joseph to prison, he intended to take further measures, but many circumstances may be supposed which were calculated to prevent the fulfilment of this intention. We incline to imagine that he soon found cause to suspect the truth of his wife's story; and it is possible that Joseph had given a true account of the matter, which, on further reflection, his master may have been rather disposed to believe.f But then, while, on the one hand, he could not inflict a further and final punishment, or bring him to trial -— if trial was necessary to a further punishment; on the other, a proper regard to his own peace and honour would prevent him from restoring Joseph to his former place in his household. Joseph was his slave, and he could not liberate him without also relinquishing his property in him, to which, or to the other alternative of selling him, he may have seen objections which we do not see, unless in the desire of keeping close the story of his wife's conduct. He probably therefore satisfied himself with acquiescing in the favourable treatment which Joseph received in the prison from the keeper. It must not be forgotten that this officer was Potiphar's own subordinate, and that he was himself the superior functionary who was responsible to the king for the prisoners; and it follows from this that, when it was found that Joseph's talents for business might be turned to account in the management of the prison, he was still, in fact, serving his old master, and indeed rendering services of such value as might alone suffice to account for his not being sold or manumitted.
Joseph had been about a year in the prison when Potiphar | received into his custody two of his brother officers of Pharaoh's court, the chief butler and the chief cook, who had given the king some cause of deep offence;ş and he, willing to show them all the attention which his duty allowed, recommended them to the especial care of Joseph.
Anciently, as now, throughout the East, the utmost attention was paid to dreams; and the interpretation of them became an art, in which the ingenuity of many intelligent minds found
• Psalm cv. 18. We should scarcely have imagined that fetters of iroa were thus early in use, but for this express statement.
† The Bible does not say that Joseph did give any account of these transactions to his master, and Josephus says that he did not. But, as we afterwards find Joseph making interest with the chief butler to get his case laid before the king, (a circumstance, by the by, which the historian omits,) it does not appear likely that he said nothing to undeceive his master.
The Scripture history does not name Potiphar; but, as it distinguishes the party from the keeper of the prison, and gives the very same title which had previously been assigned to Potiphar, we have no doubt it is the same person, unless, indeed, Joseph's master had died during the year, and another had taken his office; and this does not seem likely, as then some change would probably have taken place in his slave's condition.
The paraphrast Jonathan makes their offence a design against the life of the king.
much mistaken exercise in the attempt to assign a vital meaning to the fantasies of dreamy sleep. Hence every one sought an interpretation of whatever dream made sufficient impression to be remembered ; and he became most uneasy for whose dream no interpreter could be found. We shall see many instances of this as we proceed.
One morning Joseph observed that the countenances of the two great officers were more downcast than usual, and on asking the reason they told him that it was because they could procure no interpretation of the singular dreams with which their sleep had been visited. He then desired to hear their dreams; and, knowing their superstitious notions, took the opportunity of hinting that the interpretation of dreams, when they were of any importance, did not depend on rules of art, but, to be true, must be suggested by God, who thus sometimes saw fit to convey warning and admonition. The dreams themselves, being pictures of actual circumstances, are, so far, illustrative of the usages of the Egyptian court. The butler's dream shows how a grape-sherbet (not“ wine ") was made for the royal drink. He beheld a three-branched vine, full of ripe clusters, which he seized, and pressed their juice into Pharaoh's cup, which he then delivered into the king's hand. Joseph told him that this dream signified that in three days Pharaoh would come to a decision on his case, and would restore him to his former office. “And when it shall be well with thee,” continued Joseph, “think on me, and show kindness, I pray thee, to me; and make mention of me to Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house. For, indeed, I was stolen away from the land of the Hebrews; nor have I done aught here for which I should be put into a dungeon.”
The chief cook was encouraged by this interpretation to tell his dream also. He had seemed to bear on his head three trays; the uppermost contained all kinds of baked meats for the king's table. But, as he passed across the court of the king's palace, “the birds of air”+ came and stole them from the basket. This dream was interpreted by Joseph to signify that in three days
0 the king would decide upon
his case also; but, instead of restoring him to his post, would cause him to be hanged on a tree, where the birds of the air should come and devour his carcase. I
All happened as Joseph had been enabled to foretell. On the third day from that the king's birth-day occurred; and we are instructed that even at this early date birth-days were celebrated with rejoicings. Pharaoh made a feast for his great officers; and it being, seemingly, customary for him to distinguish the occasion by acts of grace and favour where they could be worthily bestowed, he now pronounced his decision re
[Egyptian with a Tray of Meats on his head.*] specting the two great officers then in prison. The chief butler he pardoned, and restored to his place, but, having found no ground for clemency in the case of the head cook, he commanded him to be hanged. To this account
• It will be seen that in this cut the man is in the act of removing the tray from his head, and has knelt down for the purpose.
+ Kites probably, which much infest eastern cities, and are of surprising boldness. Stories are constantly told of their seizing and bearing off meat, even from the heads of men, when carried through the open air.
We note with sorrow such a practice as this amoug the Egyptiaus, which was wisely and humanely forbidden to the Jews by the law of Moses. This prohibition offers further evidence that the practice previously existed. But before we reflect upon the civilization of the Egyptians, for their leaving the bodies of criminals to rot, or to be devoured before the public eye, let us recollect that we, who claim so high a place among civilized nations, have only within the present century abolished the same horrible practice.
The execution of the chief baker at this time is as natural as the liberation of the other; for the king had been led by the occasion to consider and decide on both their cases.