Genesis 39:1-20 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.
2 The LORD was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, 4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 5 From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. 6 So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.
Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7 and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”
8 But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 9 No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.
11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.
13 When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, 14 she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. 15 When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”
16 She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. 18 But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”
19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. 20 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.
Joseph is a great example of not being corrupted by pagans surrounding him. Unlike his brothers who had been in Canaan.
After the first moment of anguish when Joseph pleaded not to be left alone to die in the well or be sold off as a slave, he uttered no word of retaliation or of reproach toward God.
Joseph chose to walk with God and it showed to other people and he was blessed because of it. We need to remember this when we look around at today’s society and are tempted to wonder how we can be godly with all the terrible TV shows, movies, violence, new age “religions” etc we are bombarded with. God will keep us strong if we rely on Him.
Joseph seemed to have inherited all the best traits from his ancestors. Abraham’s faith and honesty, Isaac’s quiet submissiveness, but persistent faith, and Jacob’s loving heart and energy.
And his complete absence of bitterness, resentment and self-pity is the proof of true faith in God. And he met the adverse circumstances over which he had no control with courage. He made it his business to use all his energies to glorify God and to be successful in his immediate duties as a slave.
And God honored him. He didn’t change his circumstances, but He blessed Joseph IN those circumstances.
He caused Joseph to prosper in all that he did.
God caused Potiphar to see this. Potiphar promoted Joseph to the position of personal aide and then promoted him to oversee his entire household. And then all his estate.
The reason Joseph didn’t have anything to do with the food was because Egyptians didn’t eat with Hebrews – Potiphar would have considered himself defiled if he did.
In his refusal to Potiphar’s wife Joseph clearly said it would be wrong to do so because Potiphar had been good to him and also that it would be a sin against God. People aren’t so clear nowadays about what’s right or wrong, are they?
He tried to keep away from her, but when he couldn’t, he RAN! Another good lesson for us. We should get ourselves AWAY from temptation. We pray to God to “keep me from temptation”. We aren’t to get in its pathway. Avoid all contact and burn all bridges!
And her infatuation turned to hatred. She determined to ruin him. Even put him to death because the action was worthy of death according to Egyptian law. One commentator said he may not have been put to death because other slaves in the household would have known what the wife was like and could have told Potiphar, but just having it talked about brought disgrace on the house and so Potiphar sent Joseph to prison with no trial.
Genesis 39:20-23 But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.
Joseph was committed to the “Round House,” a famous round tower or dungeon where prisoners connected with the king’s court were housed.
Just like when he was sold into slavery – now in prison, Joseph kept moving forward. Not becoming bitter or losing faith – so that he began working his way up here too. Finally he became head overseer so that he had complete charge of all the prisoners and freedom to run the prison as he saw fit.