The title of this blog is Potiphar in the World of Joseph. And it is part of my ongoing blogging about my upcoming book The World of Joseph: Mentuhotep Vizier of Egypt. So, today I will highlight Potiphar and wife, whom I call Zulekha.
According to the Bible in Genesis 39: 1, Potiphar was the Captain of the guard. In my book I used the term Royal Guard as Pharaoh was the king. But it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out that this guard was not a dozen men guarding the king, but rather Pharaoh’s army.
In those days Egypt was under one ruler, Pharaoh Sesostris I. His father had taken the throne from another and united the north and south under one rule. But it wasn’t done with just his army. Although he was looked upon as the ruler, Pharaoh did not have absolute rule at that time.
His support was dependent upon the governors of the various regions. These governors had their own armies, and some were strong enough to resist Pharaoh if they had a mind to do so. As long as they were kept busy fighting the Nubians in the south and the Hyksos in the north, they were controllable.
But they represented a problem. As Captain of the Guard, a position probably equivalent to General of the Army, Potiphar would have had responsibility not only for Pharaoh’s life but for the kingdom itself.
More about this on the other side of this break.
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Now back to the article.
In the Bible, Potiphar disappears from the account of Joseph’s life in Egypt when Joseph is cast into prison. But most likely Potiphar was still around as the commanding general and perhaps over the royal prison. If so, he would have had numerous opportunities to run into the young man.
When writing I like to ask questions and my first question was, What happened when Joseph became Mentuhotep the Vizier, and he came into contact with Potiphar? It was an intriguing question that led to the development of Potiphar’s position and interaction with the vizier.
A follow-up question was, Did Potiphar keep track of Joseph while the lad was in prison? After all, it appears in the Bible that Potiphar did not believe his wife’s charge of attempted rape by Joseph. Another question would be, As the second most powerful man in the kingdom what, if any, relationship would Mentuhotep have with Potiphar?
In other words, there is a lot of room for speculation about their relationship. And for that matter, Joseph’s relationship with Potiphar’s wife!
Research didn’t answer those questions, but it did provide the backdrop that I could use to develop the story. And if you are a writer reading this then I want you to see that no matter how hard or uncomfortable research maybe it has the benefit of adding to your story. Not only as historical backup, but it can lead to subplots that bring your story alive!
I have mentioned in previous blogs about recent developments in Egyptology. When I began writing, Egyptology was based on Traditional chronologies. These chronologies were totally unreliable. So, I was very pleased when modern archaeological research resulted in a far more reliable chronology.
In the past I had to try to make the Egyptian timelines match with the Biblical. And that was horrendous! So, you can imagine my relief when I discovered that there was now a newer, clearer, and far more accurate Egyptian chronology. I was even more excited when I compared that chronology to the Biblical and found virtual agreement!
If you are an author and you are leery of doing research or you regard it as too much grunt work, I recommend you purpose to do it anyway. And remember, when using secular sources, they tend to radically change. If your book is related to the Bible, then consider the Bible as your ultimate source. The King James Bible is an excellent resource and doesn’t change unlike some of the newer translations.
When you pick up my book to read take the time to see how much of a role Potiphar had in Joseph’s life. And take a look at his wife, Zulekha.
On August 8, 2021, the eBook version will go on Pre-Order and the actual launch will be August 12, 2021. The paperback and hard cover versions will also be published on August 12, 2021. The printed books will be available at Amazon.com and at TR Independent Bookstore where they are always discounted. The eBook will only be available on Amazon.com.
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