Who is Potiphar in the Bible?

Published On: 27 de April de 2024Categories: What the Bible Says

The story of Joseph in Egypt is one of the best-known and loved narratives in the Bible. Among the characters that stand out in this story, one of them is Potiphar, a high-ranking Egyptian official who bought Joseph as a slave and placed him in charge of his house.

But who was Potiphar? Was Potiphar a eunuch? What was his role in José’s life? And what can we learn from the story of Potiphar? In this article, we will explore these questions and others, in order to better understand who Potiphar was in the Bible and his importance in the biblical narrative.

Who is Potiphar in the Bible?

Potiphar is an important figure in the Old Testament, especially in the book of Genesis 39. He was an Egyptian official, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard, and a person of great authority and respect in the kingdom. Potiphar is famous for being the owner of the house where Jacob’s son Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers.

Was Potiphar a eunuch ?

Before we understand whether Potiphar was in fact a eunuch, we must understand the meaning of eunuch : a eunuch is a man who has been castrated, resulting in the removal of his testicles and/or penis. Figuratively, the term is used to describe something as “sterile”, “impotent”. In the Middle East and China, eunuchs were responsible for looking after harems, areas in residences reserved for wives and concubines.

In the case of Potiphar, we know that there are many questions about whether Potiphar was a eunuch or an official of the pharaoh is a matter of biblical interpretation and translation. In some versions of the Bible, Potiphar is described as a “eunuch” in Genesis 37:36 and 39:1, while other versions describe him as an “officer” or “captain of the guard” of the pharaoh.

Some translations lead us to understand in Potiphar’s verse that “eunuch” or “official” have the same meaning. In the context of the Egyptian time and culture, it was common for high-ranking officials to be eunuchs, as they were considered more trustworthy and loyal to the pharaoh.

The fact that the Holy Bible mentions that Potiphar was married raises the following question: if Potiphar was a eunuch, how could he be married? Among various interpretations, it is possible that by describing Potiphar as a eunuch, the Bible is indicating that this translation refers to Potiphar as a trusted, high-ranking official, dedicated exclusively to the pharaoh’s service.

Joseph in Potiphar’s house

Joseph was taken to Egypt around 1900 BC, about 200 years after Abraham’s call, as described in Genesis 12:1-7. We can understand that Joseph faced three great trials during his time in Potiphar’s house in Egypt, each of which required courage, integrity, and faith. And these same proofs are present today:

The first test was that of personal purity : Joseph, being an attractive young man, caught the attention of Potiphar’s wife, who tried to seduce him as described in Genesis 39:7. Joseph resisted the temptation, remaining faithful to God, his principles and the trust that Potiphar had placed in him. This test is common to many young people who are away from home and face the temptation to become involved in inappropriate relationships or immoral behavior. Joseph triumphed in this test through his faith in God and his determination to maintain his integrity.

The second test was the opportunity to take revenge: after being sold by his own brothers and being falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife, Joseph ends up unjustly arrested. He may have harbored feelings of anger and resentment toward Potiphar and his wife, but he chose to forgive and not seek revenge. This test is common to many people who have suffered injustice and need to decide whether to harbor feelings of hate or forgive and move on. Joseph once again triumphed in this test through his faith in God and his ability to forgive.

The third test was to face death. Joseph was unjustly sentenced to prison and could have despaired and lost hope. However, he maintained his faith in God and trusted that everything would happen according to God’s plan. This test is common to many people who face difficult situations and need to decide whether to give up or continue fighting. Joseph once again triumphed in this test through his faith in God and his confidence that everything would happen for the good.

Let us note that in each case, Joseph triumphed in the trials through his faith in God, his personal integrity and his determination to keep his promises.


Potiphar was a high-ranking Egyptian official, probably a eunuch, who served the pharaoh as captain of the guard. He bought Joseph as a slave and placed him in charge of his household, entrusting him with all his property. Potiphar was a successful and respected man, but he was also a victim of the intrigues of his wife, who tried to seduce Joseph and, when she was rejected, falsely accused him of attempted rape.

The story of Potiphar in the Bible is significant because he was one of the instruments God used to bring Joseph to his leadership position in Egypt. Despite the difficulties and injustices that Joseph faced in Potiphar’s house, he maintained his integrity and faith in God, being rewarded with God’s grace and mercy.

Potiphar’s life also teaches us about the consequences of our choices and actions. His wife, driven by lust and jealousy, caused irreparable damage to Joseph’s reputation and to his own family. On the other hand, Potiphar, despite having been deceived by his wife, did not let this affect his relationship with Joseph, and continued to trust him and treat him with respect.

Ultimately, the story of Potiphar in the Bible is a reminder that God is always present in our lives, even in the most difficult times, and that integrity and faith can carry us through the greatest trials. As Christians, we can learn from Potiphar’s story and seek to live our lives with wisdom, discernment, and commitment to God and our fellow human beings.

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Written by : Ministério Veredas Do IDE

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