10 September 2007

Genesis 39:1-23

"When his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, saying 'This is the way your servant treated me', he became enraged. And Joseph's master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king's prisoners were confined". (v.19-20)


The adventures of Joseph in Egypt are like a classic soap opera of the ancient world - read chapter 37 for the back story if you aren't familiar with it. The tale is fascinating in its own right, but it is important because it explains how it came about that the Israelite tribes migrated to Egypt. (Read on to the end of Genesis for how the story develops.)

The naivety and arrogance of youth demonstrated by Joseph, coupled with the apparent favouritism shown by their father, so infuriated his brothers that they contemplated the most heinous crime, only relenting at the last minute choosing instead to sell Joseph into slavery.

Seeing that Joseph was young and well-built, Potiphar, a well-to-do Egyptian, bought him as a slave and set him to work in his villa. However, Joseph's handsome appearance and muscular physique proved too attractive to Potiphar's wife and her desire for him grew stronger until she could resist him no longer. Struggling to free himself from the amorous attack Joseph ran from the room. Producing his cloak, Potiphar's wife, scorned by Joseph, condemned the slave boy to imprisonment amongst the king's prisoners.

The lessons of life were pretty tough for Joseph. His youthful arrogance perhaps arose form an overly protective and doting father, an arrogance that would only diminish along the tough journey to Egypt shackled as a slave and the days spent cleaning the house of Potiphar and waiting upon the family.

But Joseph, accepting his lot, came to admire and respect, if not love, his master and devoted himself to service in the household. The Lord blessed Joseph and everything that he did so that Potiphar trusted him completely. To have slept with Potiphar's wife would have been to break that trust and ruin the relationship.

To Ponder

Have you ever been punished or made to look bad, because you acted with integrity?

Can you think of ways you have learned important lessons from tough things that have happened to you in life?

Bible notes author

Revd Eden Fletcher

The Revd Eden Fletcher is the Superintendent Minister for the Newcastle-Upon-Tyne (Brunswick Central) Circuit, having previously served as Chaplain to Kent College, Canterbury, a Methodist school and minister at Westminster Central Hall, London. Eden is committed to city centre ministry believing that the Church has a key role in promoting strong community in the heart of city and promoting Christian values in a commercial/retail context.