Potiphar (or Potifar) (Hebrew: פּוֹטִיפַר / פּוֹטִיפָר, Modern Potifar Tiberian Pôṭîp̄ar / Pôṭîp̄ār ; Egyptian origin: p-di-p-rʿ ; "he whom Ra gave.") is a person in the Book of Genesis's account of Joseph.

Joseph, sold into slavery by his brothers, is taken to Egypt where he is sold to Potiphar as a household slave. Potiphar makes Joseph the head of his household, but Potiphar's wife, furious at Joseph for resisting her attempts to seduce him into sleeping with her, accuses him falsely of attempting to rape her. Potiphar casts Joseph into prison, where he comes to the notice of Pharaoh through his ability to interpret the dreams of other prisoners.

Potiphar's wife is not named in either the Yahwist or Elohist stories. The mediaeval Sefer HaYashar, a commentary on the Torah, gives it as Zuleika, as does the Persian poem called Yusuf and Zulaikha (from Jami's Haft Awrang ("Seven thrones")). For more on the nameless in the Holy Bible, please see List of names for the Biblical nameless.

Historical evidence

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 BCE, at the end of the Second Intermediate Period or very beginning of the New Kingdom.

According to the documentary hypothesis, the story of Potiphar and his wife derives from 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 Dr G.J. Wenham (IVP New Bible Commentary) execution was normal for rape cases, so Potiphar may have had doubts about his wife`s story.

Cultural references


1. The Hebrew Pharaohs of Egypt, Ahmed Osman, Bear & Co. 1987

See also

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Potiphar. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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