1 ¶ And it came to pass after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt. 2 And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers. 3 And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound. 4 And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them: and they continued a season in ward.
The king of Egypt’s butler and his baker were both, “in the soup,” so to speak. Wroth is a form of wrath, fierce and abiding anger. These were the chiefs of the butlers and the bakers who served the king, the top dogs. To place someone in ward is to put them in jail or prison as the princes of Israel under the Babylonians or even just confinement as David did with his concubines.
Ezekiel 19:9 And they put him in ward in chains, and brought him to the king of Babylon: they brought him into holds, that his voice should no more be heard upon the mountains of Israel.
2Samuel 20:3 And David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten women his concubines, whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in ward, and fed them, but went not in unto them. So they were shut up unto the day of their death, living in widowhood.
We learn here that Potiphar, being the captain of the guard had this prison as part of his house and that was his post, to keep it. So, it appears that the captain of the guard was also responsible for the king’s prisoners. Joseph became the servant, in prison, of these high court officials whose fate had yet to be determined.
Pharaoh and king of Egypt are synonyms, notice the parallel phrasing linking the word and the phrase in verses 1 and 2, here as titles for Egypt’s ruler who was the executive, legislative, and judicial branch of the government all rolled into one, a virtual dictator except for the hold the priests had on the people.
God is our chief executive (king, prime minister, or president), our lawmaker (like congress or parliament), and our judiciary (like the Supreme Court). There is no appeal from Him. Although the following verse was not used by America’s founding fathers in their debates on the Constitution, as they leaned on Enlightenment and humanistic writers, it is interesting how our three branches of government in America line up with it.
Isaiah 33:22 For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.