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How Long Was Joseph In Potiphars House? How Long In Prison?

In Genesis 41:46  we learn that Joseph was 30 when he was made overseer to the king of Egypt.  Since he was 17 when he was sold into Egypt, that means he spent 13 years total in Potiphar’s house and prison. We know Joseph was in prison at least 2 years because chapter 40 tells us about the servants of the king whose dreams Joseph interpreted.  The first verse of chapter 41 tells us that 2 years passed after that event before the king had the dreams that Joseph was called to interpret.

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So Joseph lived in Potiphar’s house 11 years or less and was in prison 2 or more years.  According to the Biblical Timeline Chart, Joseph was born after 1771 BC, which is the year his older brother Levi was born.

There is lots of information about Joseph.  For instance we know

  • Joseph_in_Egypt_sold

    He was 17 when he was sold into Egypt

  •  He was 30 when he was made overseer
  • He was 39 when his brothers first came to Egypt (second year of the famine, or nine years after being made overseer)
  • He was probably 41 or so when the brothers came a second time and Jacob comes to Egypt
  • He was 110 when he died


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16 thoughts on “How Long Was Joseph In Potiphars House? How Long In Prison?

  1. Thank you so much for the info.

  2. Like me,he suffered a lot.but over came through GOD.

  3. Right from childhood, I’ve been wanting to live my life like Joseph but now like Jesus.

  4. Joseph overcame all his challenges because his heart was pure and therefore God was with him and anyone with a pure heart shall overcome.

  5. I disagree with your 13 years in Prison. Here’s why, Joseph was 17 when He was sold into slavery. He did not reach Egypt until he was 18. Bibles states that HIs owner prospered while Joseph ran the House which meant he probably spent at least 2 years running the House before he was sent to jail for something He didn’t do. Better to be in jail with the Present of the Lord, than to live in a Palace without the Lord. So Joseph spent roughly 10 years in Prison, not 13. He could not have spent 13, that number is not reasonable, so it’s something less.

    1. Some of these comments are crazy too me people trying to dictate times dates and everything he spent 13 years total.

    2. You may need to read this again. No where in this analysis does it say Joseph was in prison for 13 years.

  6. To Tom: The writer never said how many years Joseph was in prison. He never asserted that he was there 13 years.

  7. Does it really mater how long he was in prison? He was there for something he didn’t do, 13 years, 13 days or 13 hours, he was in prisoned, BUT overcame because of his faith. Some of us are not in jail, but are in prisoned in our mind, our thought and our emotions. May God give us the peace that passes all understanding.

    Be blessed everyone.

  8. Standing before the kings:

    Having spent some 13 years in prison on false charges and being cut off from any fellowship of saints with whom he could confide, Joseph of Egypt was now called for by the King of Egypt. He was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh. He had then the opportunity of meeting the Chief of the nation and petition for his life.

    “…I have heard …that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” said Pharaoh.

    Now is opportunity to talk to the King. Now is all chances under heaven! Joseph was now in fronT of the King, being called by him and being questioned by him, and now it was the turn of Joseph to answer:

    “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”

    Note the honor Joseph gave to God, note the truth, note the boldness, and note the humility and dignity of this young man standing before the supreme of a nation, unashamed to witness of the Most Supreme he served.

    In the words and interaction that followed which lasted for about 5 minutes, Joseph involved ‘God’ some five times in the conversation. As a result of his such a powerful witness of God, Pharoah himself spoke about ‘God’ twice and ‘agreed’ with Joseph and also with his witness of the ‘God’ that he witnessed about!

    Said Pharaoh, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?”

    Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders.”

    Jospeh of old stood and witnessed before the king, so did the prohpet Daniel before King Darius who in a lamentable voice cried out, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”; so did the apostle Paul before king Agrippa who openly stated, “Almost you persuade me to be a Christian”.

    So did the Savior of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ when stood before Pontius Pilate and witnessed: “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.”

    Who so we stand before today? We can ask the Master’s help so that we will stand unashamed! For this is just not a mere boldness, but a sheer love to the One witnessed which is required, so when we witness the One we love, life and persons take the back seat! His love also spreads to and is felt by those we witness to, as it was to King Pharoah, King Darius, King Agrippa, and Governor Pilate!

    1. Good Reply!!!!!!!!!!! Praise God!!!!!!!!!

  9. How do we know he was seventeen when Joseph was thrown in pit

    1. Genesis 37:2 states These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.

      This is followed by the gift of the cloak, the dreams of Joseph and finally his being thrown into the pit.

    2. Genesis 37:2 says he was 17 years of age when he tendered sheep with his brothers, when you read forward it states his brothers hated him

  10. Joseph was in the pit for 12 years.
    One for each of the shevitim (for saying evil talk about them, not counting himself or Binyomin, who was not around) + 2 for asking to be remembered. = 12.
    This can be found in a medrish there.

  11. Commentaries can be helpful, but to the word and the testimony! The numbers are doubtful. With travel time and time to establish such a reputation with his master (earthly), it would not be unreasonable to expect about 5 years or even at least 3. Ten often being used for testing.
    I was wondering if the time lapse from famine starting to Jacob going down to Egypt was 3 1/2 years. Presents an interesting picture.

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