Genesis 39


‘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. The LORD was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favour in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 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. 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.’ Genesis 39:1-6

Joseph was 17 years old when he was taken to Egypt, Genesis 37:2, and he was 30 years old, when Pharaoh promoted him, Genesis 41:46. He spent two years in jail, Genesis 41:1, and spent eleven years in Potiphar’s house. The name Potiphar means devoted to the sun and it’s possible that he was a eunuch.

God is with Joseph and is clearly seen as Potiphar’s household was greatly blessed simply because Joseph was in their presence and Potiphar himself recognised, he was being blessed by the Lord. Potiphar then goes ahead and puts Joseph in charge of everything concerning his household.

Joseph could have very easily resented his past and the way he was treated by his brothers, but he has now gone from being a man stuck in a cistern, to a man having great power and responsibility.

‘Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’ 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. 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?’ And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 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. When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, 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. When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.’ She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. Then she told him this story: ‘That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.’ Genesis 39:6-18

Joseph is handsome, just like David was, 1 Samuel 16:12 and Absalom, 2 Samuel 14:25. He was so handsome that Potiphar’s wife was greatly attracted to him, which tells us a lot about her morals and the commitment she had to her husband, and this would explain why Potiphar himself, maybe have been a eunuch.

Potiphar’s wife wanted to have sex with Joseph, why?

Her motives are obviously selfish because she doesn’t care about the consequences involved in sleeping with Joseph.

1. Possibly to prepare an arranged marriage

2. Joseph was a handsome man, maybe she was up for a challenge.

3. The code of immorality, incest.

How could Joseph resist?

1. Joseph let his faith be known.

2. Joseph kept busy.

3. Joseph was careful to never be alone with his temptation.

Joseph was honest enough with Potiphar’s wife and told her it was sinful, it appears that Joseph at least, knew how the sin would affect others. He knew that it was a sin against God, Psalm 54:4 and he simply said, ’no’. Notice that Joseph ran away, 2 Timothy 2:22.

After repeatedly saying no to her, she takes full advantage of the situation when Joseph left his cloak behind and begins to lie to her husband by providing the ‘evidence’.

‘When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, ‘This is how your slave treated me,’ he burned with anger. Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.’ Genesis 39:19-20

Potiphar’s wife accused Joseph falsely and notice that Joseph is silent, this was just like Christ when He was falsely accused, Isaiah 53:7 / Matthew 27:13-14.

Potiphar didn’t ask Joseph his version of the events but burned with anger, but notice that he didn’t have Joseph killed, instead, he has him thrown in prison. I don’t think that Potiphar wasn’t totally convinced by his wife’s story, I wonder if Potiphar knew what his wife was really like! I wonder if she has behaved like this before with other men!

Because Potiphar was a royal officer, he had Joseph put in a ‘special prison’ which had a better environment than those ‘common prisons’ for ‘common slaves’.

‘But while Joseph was there in the prison, the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favour in the eyes of the prison warden. 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. 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.’ Genesis 39:20-23

Once again, we see God at work in the life of Joseph because again God is with him, Genesis 39:2 / Genesis 29:20 / Genesis 39:23.

God was preparing him in Potiphar’s household and now God is preparing him again, whilst he’s here in prison. God is preparing him to fulfil the dreams he had when he was younger, he would become a great leader and his brothers would bow down to him, Genesis 37:5-9.

He is put in charge of the prisoners and given more responsibilities. Joseph was well respected not only by the other prisoners but by the prison warden, he exceeded because of the blessing of God.

Go To Genesis 40