Genesis Chapter Thirty-Nine
Read Genesis 39:1-6 – Joseph Prospers
v.1 “And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither.”
As we had noted at the end of chapter 37 Joseph was bought by Potiphar as a slave in his household. God was making special preparation for the future of his people the Israelite nation:
Psalms 105:17 “HE SENT A MAN BEFORE THEM, even JOSEPH, who WAS SOLD FOR A SERVANT.”
v.2 “And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.”
It doesn’t matter what trials and troubles this world brings us there are things from which it cannot separate us. It cannot destroy our ability, our integrity, unless we allow it, or our determination to make the best of a bad situation. It cannot remove from us the love of a benevolent God just as the Holy Spirit assures us:
Romans 8:38-39 “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
v.3-4 “3And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand. 4And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.”
Joseph is blessed by God because he, like the man described in:
Psalms 1:1 “WALKETH NOT IN THE COUNSEL OF THE UNGODLY…”.
Psalms 1:3 “‘AND HE SHALL BE LIKE A TREE PLANTED BY THE RIVERS OF WATER, THAT BRINGETH FORTH HIS FRUIT IN HIS SEASON; HIS LEAF ALSO SHALL NOT WITHER, AND WHATSOEVER HE DOETH SHALL PROSPER.”
Potiphar, being captain over Pharaoh’s personal guard is an excellent judge of character, at least in terms of Joseph’s ability as his servant. In him he sees that he is blessed by God and did everything well that he was given to do. Joseph found favor in the eyes of Potiphar and consequently was made chief steward or overseer of his household.
v.5 “And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.”
This is not the first case of someone being blessed because of their association with God’s people or a man of God. We remember that in our study of the relationship between Jacob and Laban that God blessed Laban because of Jacob.
Genesis 30:27 “And Laban said unto him, I pray thee, if I have found favour in thine eyes, tarry: for I have learned by experience that the LORD hath blessed me for thy sake.”
We find the same situation occurring in Potiphar’s house. Potiphar is being blessed because of Joseph, not just the household duties over which Joseph has direct responsibility but over all aspects of Potiphar’s wealth and substance. Joseph is being blessed just as God promised the Israelite nation if they should “HEARKEN DILIGENTLY UNTO THE VOICE OF THE LORD THY GOD” Deuteronomy 28:1. If they did as God commanded then:
“And the LORD shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers to give thee.” Deuteronomy 28:11
v.6 “And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.”
So Potiphar literally turned everything over to Joseph, to the extent that “HE KNEW NOT OUGHT HE HAD,”, or he didn’t even know what or how much he had. He placed complete faith and confidence in Joseph to handle his affairs. Joseph isn’t affected by all of this honor and prestige but continues to perform his duties, working and serving as a “GOOD” or righteous person should; consequently both were well blessed.
Read Genesis 39:7-20 – Joseph’s Trouble
v.7 “And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.”
Contrary to common belief in much of our society; not all predators are male, not all victims are female. Potiphar’s wife decides that she wants Joseph for her lover. She apparently has no thought for her husband or for her status as a married woman. But Joseph is a man of God, so a contest begins between them that can only end in trouble.
v.8-9 “8But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; 9There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”
Joseph knew the wisdom of God and how do deal with the enticement of the lust of an evil woman:
Proverbs 6:23-25 “For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: 24To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. 25Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.”
Joseph also understood his commitment to his master and the value of his master’s trust. Potiphar had given Joseph his complete trust, made him overseer of his entire house with the single exception we see in verse 8 of his wife. Joseph understood the attributes of righteousness that the Holy Spirit gives us through the pen of Paul:
I Corinthians 4:2 “2Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”
Colossians “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:”
Lastly Joseph appeals to Potiphar’s wife with what would probably be the least of her concerns because she is neither righteous nor God-fearing. Adultery was a sin against God, a sin against God’s marriage law given to Adam and Eve and such that God had even warned a pagan ruler about it:
Genesis 20:3 “But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife.”
v.10 “And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her.”
Potiphar’s wife is obsessed and Joseph knows no peace.
v.11-12 “And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. 12And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.”
Joseph’s strategic defense, so far, has worked and he has escaped but now he either makes a tactical mistake or circumstances unforeseen arise. He is conducting his master’s business as usual but there are no other men in the house. Potiphar’s wife approaches him again grasping his outer garment in her hands but he slips out of it and flees.
v.13-15“And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth, 14That she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice: 15And it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and got him out.”
Defeated again, without any hope of getting what she wants, Potiphar’s wife now decides to get even. She calls the men of the household and concocts a story that is not only designed to protect her against any accusation that Joseph might make but also will place Joseph in great jeopardy with his master. She wants the other servants of the household to corroborate her story so she stages her performance for them first.
v.16-18 “And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home. 17And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me: 18And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out.”
Potiphar’s wife waits until her husband returns home, and then repeats her story for him accusing his Hebrew servant of the very thing that she tried to do. Her accusations, of course, have the desired effect. Unless he had reason to do so; what man would accept a servant’s word versus that of his wife.
v.19-20 “And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled. 20And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.”
As we would expect Potiphar is a very angry man. He has placed complete trust in this Hebrew servant and now he believes that trust has been violated in the worst way possible. Joseph is confined in the special prison reserved for those of Pharaoh’s house. This scripture tells he was “BOUND” but the Psalmist tells us more:
Psalms 105:18 “WHOSE FEED THEY HURT WITH FETTERS: HE WAS LAID IN IRON.”
Read Genesis 39:21-23 – Joseph Prospers Even in Prison
v.21 “But the LORD was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.”
Joseph has been tried by God. We return to Psalms 105 where the Psalmist, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit tells us:
“UNTIL THE TIME THAT HIS WORD CAME: THE WORD OF THE LORD TRIED HIM.” Psalms 105:19
And while he is in prison as a result of his righteousness, not an uncommon occurrence during the history of mankind, God is still with him.
v.22-23 “And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. 23The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.”
Just like Potiphar, the keeper of the prison learned that Joseph not only was a very competent individual but also that God was with him and anything that he touched prospered. Consequently it isn’t long until Joseph has the same level of responsibility under the prison keeper or warden as he had in Potiphar’s household.