Zaphnath - Paaneah

Genesis 41:45  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Gen. 41 and John 4
by E G. Patterson
In Jacob's blessing of his sons (Gen. 49), we find those familiar and lovely words about Joseph used by the aged patriarch: "Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall." We know now that a greater than Joseph was before the prophetic mind of the Spirit in the patriarch when he spoke those words, of which I now only cite a part. The whole of the blessing may be seen in reading the chapter. The portion I have quoted will answer my present purpose in calling your attention to it.
If we turn back in the book of Genesis and glance at the lovely narrative of Joseph (Gen. 37-50)— evidently that of one of the most blameless of men whose histories are recorded in Scripture-we find in chapter 41 the moment of his full exaltation over all the land of Egypt before us. At this time he was thirty years of age; he had been shamelessly and heartlessly rejected by his brethren, and sold to his captors. He was oppressed and afflicted, taken from prison and from judgment; the iron had entered into his soul. In all this, as in the many other details of his life, he is a type of Him who was to come.
He had just interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh, and had counseled Pharaoh to be warned of God in preparing for the years of famine that were to come.
“And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?" v. 38. And Pharaoh raised him to be head over all the land. There was none so discreet and wise as he. He would be over his house, and according to his word should all his people be ruled. Only in the throne would Pharaoh be greater than he. Power over all flesh was his, and all was given into his hands (vv. 43, 44).
He names him Zaphnath-paaneah, or the "Revealer of secrets," as the Coptic is said to indicate, and "Savior of the world," as says another authority. Of course I do not go further here than to notice the double significance of this title which Pharaoh gave to Joseph.
In the seven plenteous years-those years of grace-the earth brought forth by handfuls from the ripened fields. The reaper received his wage, and gathered fruit for the life to come when famine would stalk through the land. Joseph, too, married a wife in the land of his rejection, and to him were born his two sons, Manasseh his firstborn, signifying "forgetting," and Ephraim the second, bearing the name which means "fruitful." He forgot his toil and his father's house, and he was fruitful in the land of his affliction.
When we turn to the Gospel of John (chap. 4), and read of the opening of the public ministry of the Lord, we find His going forth when thirty years of age to Samaria on His mission of grace. "He left Judea"; He left His own to whom He had come, morally rejected by them. He had come to His own, and His own received Him not. He passes on in the fullness of grace to defiled Samaria, morally now, as actually again, with "power over all flesh," and all things given into His hands by the Father.
There He proves Himself to be the true "Revealer of secrets," the One who told the sinful woman all that ever she did. He forgets His toil and the long, weary journey of that day through the burning heat, till He sat on the side of the well-the most fruitful bough that ever shadowed it. He forgets His thirst, His hunger too, refreshed by the meat to eat of which the disciples as yet knew nothing. He forgets, too, His Father's house, and in the land of His affliction He is fruitful. The woman of Samaria is found by Him who came to seek and to save the lost. His word to the disciples in those years of plenty which now were dawning was, "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest." Many of the Samaritans, too, believed on Him. They said to the woman, "Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”
He is the true "Zaphnath-paaneah," now as then. Surely we can say as in 1 John 4:1414And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. (1 John 4:14), "We have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world." We have learned how surely He is the "Revealer of secrets," as did the woman of Samaria, through the window of our souls. The conscience of each can vouch for this. We need no proof or evidence that we have had to do with Christ, and He with us.
I only touch upon those few features of this lovely type. Perhaps it may encourage others to look for the more minute details for themselves. But when we know Christ, is it not a happy task to find some lines of Him portrayed on those who went before, and in whom His grace and Spirit was working? Shall we deem it a less happy task now to trace in those who are Christ's, the lines of His life and ways, as the Spirit of God has done so blessedly in those who have gone before?