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. 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 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. 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. 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.” 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.
The immortal story of this ruler’s wife’s lust for Joseph is “a picture of a woman, spoilt, rich and beautiful, the product of a luxurious and licentious civilization,” coveting one of the holiest and most attractive men in Egypt. Joseph enjoyed the favor of God who prospered him in his service in the house of Potiphar, the chief of Pharaoh’s bodyguard. That he had the confidence of his master is seen in that he “found grace in his sight, and the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake.”
But temporal prosperity was not an unmixed blessing for Joseph. He was “a goodly person, and well favoured,” and his form and face were to bring him days of trial. His master had a godless wife whose character is revealed in her brief biography. If a wholly bad woman is Satan’s masterpiece, then Potiphar’s nameless wife takes the prize for diabolical cunning and dastardly wickedness. Joseph was a young man with natural instincts, but divine grace kept him from following youthful lusts, enabling him to resist the advances of the faithless wife of Potiphar to share her bed. She was persistent in her endeavor to have Joseph “Come to bed with me!” This female wretch tempted him to commit adultery “day by day”. The more she persisted, the easier Joseph found it to say, No!
The last day of Joseph’s period of temptation was the most fatal. Coming into the house on business, Joseph saw that he and the she-devil were alone and with one passionate outburst she cried as she laid hold of his clothes, “Come to bed with me!” Disentangling himself from her grasp, Joseph fled, leaving some of his torn clothing in her hands. But Joseph little knew that in fleeing from a woman’s passion, he was fleeing into prison. The shreds of Joseph’s garment in the woman’s hand gave her a diabolical idea. Her desire for Joseph turned to hate, lust turned to lying and adultery to accusation. Calling in the servants, she showed them the remnants of Joseph’s garment, and with this piece of circumstantial evidence of his effort to force her to share her bed with him. Joseph’s quick flight from Potiphar’s wife underlines the strength of a character without flaw, but the woman’s slander cast a reflection upon his piety. Contemptuously, she called Joseph a “Hebrew” which her husband had brought into the house to mock its inhabitants.
When Potiphar returned, his wife displayed the pieces of Joseph’s garment which she had torn from him, and with added color repeated her slanderous lie. How deeply the holy heart of Joseph must have felt the foul accusation, as the master he respected charged him with a sin he abhorred and never committed! Potiphar’s wrath, fed by the jealousy and falsehood of his wife, was kindled, and Joseph suffered the unjust punishment of imprisonment. But even in prison Joseph knew that it was better to rot there with an unsullied conscience than to prosper in a palace, if prosperity meant degradation. Yet in the prison the Lord was with Joseph, for He was the gracious Keeper of the pure prisoner. Others had wrongly blamed Joseph, but he had the approval of his own conscience and the confidence that the God he refused to sin against, would vindicate him, as He did. We can imagine how Potiphar’s wife had many a sleepless night as she thought of Joseph in his narrow cell all because of her passion and perjury. But to Joseph’s credit, we have no recorded word he uttered in his own defense, or against the evil woman responsible for his degradation.
Source: Bible Gateway / Her Name Is Woman (By Gien Karssen)