When Joseph was promoted, the king gave him a new name. Biblically, a new name usually indicates a significant change of relationship with God. Clear examples are Jacob ("supplanter"), whose name God changed to Israel ("God prevails"), and Saul ("desired"), who became Paul ("little").
Joseph's new name is so difficult to translate that scholars have suggested a number of variations. The most common variations of Zaphnath-Paaneah are "says the God, he will live"; "the God spoke and he came to life"; or "the Living One has spoken." A secondary group of variations are "preserver of the age"; "revealer of the secret"; "abundance of life"; or "sustainer of life." Unger's Bible Dictionary defines it as "savior of the world."
Regardless of how it would most accurately translate into modern English, enough of its meaning is available to see its sense. The circumstance forced the pagan Egyptians to admit before all mankind for all time that a miracle had occurred in their presence—from a God they did not even know—through a humble but very capable Hebrew prisoner.
John W. Ritenbaugh
God's Promises Are Sure!
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Genesis 41:45: