Genesis 39

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Read Genesis 39

Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife

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?” 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.

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.

Go Deeper

A lot has happened in the life of Joseph since we last saw him in Genesis 37. He was bought by Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, and everything he touched prospered as a result of God’s blessing and hand on his life. It seemed like everything was going to work out okay for Joseph after all! Then, we meet Potiphar’s wife. The text tells us that Joseph was an attractive man, so Potiphar’s wife decided to try and seduce Joseph. When Joseph refuses, she claims he tried to rape her, and Joseph is tossed into prison. 

There is so much we can learn from Joseph in this passage, but there are two things that stick out the most. First, we see Joseph’s resiliency in temptation. There’s an old saying that integrity is who you are when no one is looking. Joseph could have caved, indulged his flesh, and hoped nobody ever found out. But that’s not who Joseph was. He was a man of integrity and he was determined to not sin against God (verse 9). Not only was Joseph faced with temptation, he was put in a no-win situation. As a slave, he was expected to obey Potiphar’s wife while also being expected to honor Potiphar. Ultimately, Joseph did the thing that honored God.

The other thing that stands out in this passage is that the Lord was with Joseph through it all. God’s hand of protection had been with Joseph as his brothers sold him into slavery, and it was still present as he was thrown into jail. Twice, after Joseph was imprisoned, it says that the Lord was with him (verses 21 and 23) to the point where he ended up in charge of the other prisoners. Even when it seems like our worlds are collapsing and life doesn’t seem to make sense, we have the comfort of knowing that God is with us always (Matthew 28:20). No matter what, just like Joseph, we can withstand temptation and trials because we know that we are not alone in them.

  1. What does this passage teach you about the character of God? 

  2. What stands out to you about how Joseph resists temptation? What can you learn from Joseph in this passage?

  3. When have you most recently felt like God was with you in the midst of a trial?

Did You Know?

The Bible is full of examples of people being faithful with what was in front of them, then being entrusted with more. Joseph was continually entrusted with more to steward because he’d proven to be faithful and trustworthy, time and time again. This was a common idea Jesus discussed during his earthly ministry as well (Matthew 25:14-30, Luke 16:10, Luke 19:11-27).

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