Genesis 39:1-21 Joseph, Potiphar, And Potiphar’s Wife.
Joseph was taken to Egypt, the consummate symbol of bondage and slavery, taken there by a faithless brother tribe and sold to the arch enemy (v. 1), and yet, or perhaps because of this, we read that “the LORD was with Joseph,” and for this reason “he was a successful man” (v. 2a). His earthly master saw this (v. 3). “So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him.” (v. 4) What? Should we not have read that Joseph found favor so he didn’t have to serve. Such is the biblical ethic in cultural antithesis to the world. The saints find favor, and serve. As it turns out, it is those who find favor and serve, who ultimately become overseers trusted with authority. Such servants bring the LORD’s blessing upon those whom they serve (v. 5). Such servants are trusted implicitly (v. 6a). Then things take a turn, for in addition to having a servant’s heart, “Joseph was handsome in form and appearance” (v. 6b). This was all the pretext his master’s wife needed to lust after him (v. 7).
How ironic that Joseph should be the one to preach to this whore that loyalty to the man he served and whom she was married to, meant something (v. 8). His master kept only one thing from Joseph, to which Joseph concurred, and that was the man’s wife (v. 9a). “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (v. 9b) This was ultimately what was at stake. But the woman seized the opportunity of them being alone to seek to take him by force. She took his garment as he fled, and this ultimate sign of his innocence she used against him. One sin always begets others, from lust to bearing false witness, to seeking the destruction of one whose innocence only made her sin look all the more sinful. She played on the animosity that was no doubt present among the men, that a foreigner should be their master. There wasn’t even a show trial, the word of his wife was enough for Potiphar, who through Joseph in prison (vv. 10-20). “But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper in the prison.” (v. 21) Yet another turn.