Zaphenath-Paneah

October 20, 2012
by Lori Ciccanti

Genesis 41:42,44-45a – Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph's finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt." Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah. (NIV)

Over the past several weeks, my husband and I have been watching movies from the "Bible Collection" series. They present wonderful, true-to-life portrayals of many characters from the Old and New Testaments. Moreover, these productions provide a great basis for Bible studies, as well as an interesting source of entertainment. So far, my favourite has been the story of Joseph, the eleventh son of Jacob. Although he was sold by his brothers into Egyptian bondage, the Lord granted him favour in the eyes of Pharaoh because of his God-given ability to interpret the king's dreams.

Joseph's promotion to second-in-command under Pharaoh was splendidly portrayed in the movie. However, I was greatly enthralled by the royal proclamation of Joseph's new name: Zaphenath-Paneah. According to the film, this designation could be interpreted "saviour of the world". Although a few other explanations have been suggested, such as "revealer of secrets", I am inclined to believe that saviour provides the best translation for the following reasons: Firstly, it is a name which uniquely demonstrates Joseph's divine role in saving Egypt and various other parts of the world from famine and death. Secondly, it is a name with prophetic implications; thus, Joseph's life foreshadowed the Messiah of Israel.

In fulfillment, 1 John 4:14 reads, "And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world." (NIV)

Therefore, Joseph's name, in keeping with his godly character, provides a remarkable parallel to the life of Christ. Both men were betrayed for money, falsely accused, suffered, and forgave their offenders. Subsequently, both were exalted to a position of honour. Joseph, however, over the course of many years, acquired his Christ-like features by learning patience, humility, and trust. His story, outlined in Genesis chapters 37 through 50, offers valuable lessons for believers who bear the name of Christ. Like Joseph, if we allow God's Spirit to mold our character through adversity, we can never go wrong. Only then are we conformed to the image of God's Son, and our lives become a testimony, pointing the way to the One who, alone, is the true Saviour of the world.

Prayer: Father, enable us to allow Your Spirit's power to work in our lives, shaping us into vessels of honour for Your name's sake, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

About the author:

Lori Ciccanti <dlalsina@mchsi.com>
Ocean View, Delaware, USA

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