New Defender's Study Bible Notes
41:1 by the river. The river in Pharaoh’s dream was undoubtedly the Nile River, which was the primary source of Egypt’s great prosperity.
41:5 rank. That is, “robust.”
41:14 shaved himself. The Egyptians were customarily clean-shaven.
41:38 such a one. In a pagan, idolatrous court, where many nature-gods were worshipped, Joseph was not embarrassed or hesitant to speak again and again about the true God of creation (Genesis 41:16,25,28,32). As a result, Pharaoh acknowledged God (Genesis 41:39), and recognized that the Spirit of God was in Joseph.
41:44 I am Pharaoh. The identity of this particular Pharaoh has long been a matter of dispute among Bible scholars, as is the entire subject of Egyptian chronology. The generally favorable treatment accorded Joseph and his brethren during this period has been considered by some as support for the view that this Pharaoh was among the Hyksos kings who ruled Egypt for almost 200 years, since their Semitic background possibly would make them more amenable to association with Israelites than would be the case with the native Egyptians, who were Hamitic in background. On the other hand, the Hyksos were notoriously cruel and pagan Baal-worshipers, according to the evidence from ancient historians such as Manetho and Josephus. The question of Egyptian chronology and the identity of the various Pharaohs mentioned in the Bible is still unsettled, but that fact should not mitigate against our confidence in the Biblical records, which are much superior to the highly self-serving and uncertain testimony of the ancient historians and the archaeological inscriptions.
41:45 Zaphnath-paaneah. The Egyptian name given to Joseph probably meant something like “God speaks, giving life to the world,” but this is uncertain. The name of his wife, Asenath, probably meant “dedicated to the sun.” Her father was priest of a temple dedicated to the Egyptian sun-god. We can probably assume that Joseph led her to worship the true God, since Pharaoh himself apparently recognized His power (note Genesis 41:16,25,32,39).
41:51 Manasseh. The name of Joseph’s first son meant “causing to forget.” The name of his second son, Ephraim (Genesis 41:52), meant “fruitful.”
41:54 the dearth was in all lands. An ancient tablet was discovered in Yemen in the nineteenth century, indicating that in that land there had been seven years of abundance followed by a number of years of severe famine. The age of the tablet was uncertain but it is possible that it correlates with the Egyptian years of abundance and famine at the time of Joseph.