*Minor differences ignored. Grouped by changes, with first version listed as example.
And Pharaoh took off his ring - and put it upon Joseph's hand - In this ring was probably set the king's signet, by which the royal instruments were sealed; and thus Joseph was constituted what we would call Lord Chancellor, or Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal.
Vestures of fine linen - שש shesh. Whether this means linen or cotton is not known. It seems to have been a term by which both were denominated; or it may be some other substance or cloth with which we are unacquainted. If the fine linen of Egypt was such as that which invests the bodies of the mummies, and these in general were persons of the first distinction, and consequently were enveloped in cloth of the finest quality, it was only fine comparatively speaking, Egypt being the only place at that time where such cloth was manufactured. I have often examined the cloth about the bodies of the most splendidly ornamented mummies, and found it sackcloth when compared with the fine Irish linens. As this shesh appears to have been a part of the royal clothing, it was probably both scarce and costly. "By comparing," says Parkhurst, "Exodus 25:4, Exodus 26:1, with 2-Chronicles 2:14, and Exodus 26:31, with 2-Chronicles 3:14, it appears that בוץ buts, cotton, is called שש shesh; and by comparing Exodus 28:42, with Exodus 39:28, that בד bad, linen, is also called שש shesh; so that shesh seems a name expressive of either of these, from their cheerful vivid whiteness."
Put a gold chain about his neck - This was not merely a badge of office. The chain might be intended to point out the union which should subsist between all parts of the government - the king, his ministers, and the people; as also that necessary dependence which they had reciprocally on each other, as well as the connection which must be preserved between the different members of the body politic, and the laws and institutions by which they were to be governed. Its being of gold might be intended to show the excellence, utility, and permanence of a government constituted on wise, just, and equal laws. We are justified in drawing such inferences as these, because in ancient times, in all nations, every thing was made an emblem or representation of some spiritual or moral subject it is strange that, probably without adverting to the reasons, the chain of gold worn about the neck is in different nations an emblem of civil authority.
And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand,.... Which, as it was expressive of the interest he had in his royal favour, so was a token of that high office and great dignity to which he was promoted: thus among the Romans, in later times, when anyone was put into the equestrian order, a ring was given to him (w); for originally none but knights were allowed to wear rings; and it was sometimes used to design a successor in the kingdom, as, when Alexander was dying, he took his ring from off his finger, and gave it to Perdicca (x), which was understood, though he did not express it, that he should be his successor, in the Apocrypha:"14 Then called he for Philip, one of his friends, who he made ruler over all his realm, 15 And gave him the crown, and his robe, and his signet, to the end he should bring up his son Antiochus, and nourish him up for the kingdom.'' (1 Maccabees 6)Now, though Pharaoh did not by this intend to point out Joseph for his successor in the kingdom, yet he gave him his ring as a mark of honour, and as being in place next unto his viceroy or deputy: and besides, as it is observed by many, this might be his signet, or the ring which had his seal upon it, by which he sealed patents and public deeds, and which he gave to Joseph to make use of in his name; though Schmidt doubts whether this was such a ring, since kings and princes have been used to have larger for such purposes, than what are wore on the finger: by this it appears, that Pliny (y) was mistaken that there were no rings in and before the time of Troy:
and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen; of which there was the best sort in Egypt, and which great personages used to wear:
and put a gold chain about his neck; another badge of honour and dignity, see Daniel 5:16.
(w) Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 33. c. 1. (x) Diodor. Sic. Bibliothec. l. 18. p. 587. Justin. e. Trogo, l. 12. c. 15. (y) Nat. Hist. l. 33. c. 1.
As an installation in this post of honour, the king handed him his signet-ring, the seal which the grand vizier or prime minister wore, to give authority to the royal edicts (Esther 3:10), clothed him in a byssus dress (שׁשׁ, fine muslin or white cotton fabric),
(Note: See my Bibl. Antiquities, 17, 5. The reference, no doubt, is to the ἐσθῆτα λινέην, worn by the Egyptian priests, which was not made of linen, but of the frutex quem aliqui gossipion vocant, plures xylon et ideo LINA inde facta xylina. Nec ulla sunt eis candore mollitiave praeferenda. - Vestes inde sacerdotibus Aegypti gratissimae. Plin. h.n. xix. 1.)
and put upon his neck the golden chain, which was usually worn in Egypt as a mark of distinction, as the Egyptian monuments show (Hgst. pp. 30, 31).
*More commentary available at chapter level.