[b-hebrew] Gen. 39:1 Potiphar's title

Bearpecs at aol.com Bearpecs at aol.com
Wed Jul 9 23:35:08 EDT 2003

I am forwarding from another email list, with permission, the email below 
related to Genesis 39:1, specifically the reference to Potiphar.  I include the 
whole email for context without any intent of beginning a discussion of the 
philosophical issue raised.  The piece I hope to get some insights about is 
Potiphar's title (or is it just a description?) and translation thereof.

In a message dated 7/9/2003 1:13:26 PM Eastern Daylight Time, 

> I have a question for all of you.  I know that, traditionally, Potiphar's 
> wife was seen as a wanton woman whose only motivation seems to have either 
> been lust for Yosef or something equally devious.
> However, when I first read about Yosef's enslavement in Egypt and about 
> Potiphar in the Vulgate, it has this to say:
> igitur Ioseph ductus est in Aegyptum emitque eum Putiphar eunuchus Pharaonis 
> princeps exercitus vir aegyptius.
> In the KJV, and most dependent translations thereof, it says that Potiphar 
> is just a high-ranking man in the king's court.  The Vulgate, however, 
> suggests (as I'm sure you don't need to read Latin to get the gist of) that Potiphar 
> is Pharaoh's eunuch!
> That puts Mrs. Potiphar in a whole different light.  Just because men tend 
> to act more openly and aggressively on their sexual tendencies does not mean, 
> of course, that women do not have their own.  How do you think you would 
> treat the newcomer in your household, in her stead, if you had been married for 
> some time to a man who couldn't satisfy your very natural, necessary needs?  
> This doesn't excuse Mrs. P, of course, but it does make her, in my eyes, a 
> sympathetic character to whom I can relate.  I'm wondering if Jerome's Vulgate 
> is the only translation in which this version of Potiphar's title appears?

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