Joseph and Potiphar's Wife
1The Ishmaelites took Joseph to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar, the king's official in charge of the palace guard. 2-3 So Joseph lived in the home of Potiphar, his Egyptian owner.
Soon Potiphar realized that the Lord was helping Joseph to be successful in whatever he did. 4Potiphar liked Joseph and made him his personal assistant, putting him in charge of his house and all of his property. 5Because of Joseph, the Lord began to bless Potiphar's family and fields. 6Potiphar left everything up to Joseph, and with Joseph there, the only decision he had to make was what he wanted to eat.
Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7 and Potiphar's wife soon noticed him. She asked him to make love to her, 8but he refused and said, “My master isn't worried about anything in his house, because he has placed me in charge of everything he owns. 9No one in my master's house is more important than I am. The only thing he hasn't given me is you, and that's because you are his wife. I won't sin against God by doing such a terrible thing as this.” 10She kept begging Joseph day after day, but he refused to do what she wanted or even to go near her.
11One day, Joseph went to Potiphar's house to do his work, and none of the other servants were there. 12Potiphar's wife grabbed hold of his coat and said, “Make love to me!” Joseph ran out of the house, leaving his coat there in her hands.
13When this happened, 14she called in her servants and said, “Look! This Hebrew has come just to make fools of us. He tried to rape me, but I screamed for help. 15And when he heard me scream, he ran out of the house, leaving his coat with me.”
16Potiphar's wife kept Joseph's coat until her husband came home. 17Then she said, “That Hebrew slave of yours tried to rape me! 18But when I screamed for help, he left his coat and ran out of the house.”
19Potiphar became very angry 20and threw Joseph in the same prison where the king's prisoners were kept.
While Joseph was in prison, 21 the Lord helped him and was good to him. He even made the jailer like Joseph so much that 22he put him in charge of the other prisoners and of everything that was done in the jail. 23The jailer did not worry about anything, because the Lord was with Joseph and made him successful in all that he did.
The story of Joseph’s life seemed to revolve around the fact that he was frequently in the middle of a storm or another one was lurking on the horizon. Again, his coat would be the launch of another storm. This time it would catapult him from the palace to the prison.
It is clear that Joseph depended on God every step of the way. We read: “Soon Potiphar realized that the Lord was helping Joseph to be successful in whatever he did” (v 3). As a young, immature lad of seventeen Joseph had been a little too self assured and his ornamental coat caused his brothers to turn against him. But now this confidence was the impetus that made him successful in everything he did. Joseph was more than thriving. It is recorded this way: “Joseph was well-built and handsome, and Potiphar’s wife soon noticed him.” (v 7). I sense another storm brewing.
Potiphar’s wife was used to getting her way and Joseph was on her wish list. Joseph refused his master’s wife by saying: “I won’t sin against God by doing such a terrible thing as this” (v 9). As Joseph turned and ran away from this temptation, Potiphar’s wife caught his coat and used it as evidence that Joseph had tried to rape her. This time Joseph’s coat landed him not in a pit, but in prison.
Joseph was in the middle of another storm but we know he was not alone. “While Joseph was in prison, the Lord helped him and was good to him” (v 20). Just because we do the right thing by turning and running away from sin does not guarantee an immediate good result. But our obedience will always assure us that God will work it out for our benefit.
God, I realize that the lure of temptation is all around me. Teach me to recognize this enticement. Make my desire to honor you greater than my desire to give in to the persuasiveness of harmful pleasures. Help me to be obedient to you. Thank you. Amen