Genesis: The Beginning
Joseph and Potiphar 2-4-16
Yesterday, we took a detour to Adullam and read about Judah and Tamar. Today, we will head back to Egypt and check up on Joseph while serving at Potiphar’s house.
Egypt is at the NE corner of Africa. Because Egypt is near the Nile, the land is very fertile. The Egyptian people were polytheistic; they believed in many gods—as many as 80. The Nile was worshiped as a god, but the most important god was Ra—the Sun god. Ra was considered the creator, father and king of the gods. Pharaoh was consider a son of Ra.
Potiphar (name translates “the one whom the god Ra has given”) is an Egyptian; an official in Pharaoh’s government. Joseph works for Potiphar about 13 years. Our passage tells us no matter what happens to Joseph, the Lord is with him. Joseph might not have felt blessed by God, but it is clear the Lord is in charge of his life. Because of his connection with the Lord, Joseph is a successful man.
People pay attention to the work and character of others and Potiphar has been watching Joseph. In fact, Potiphar notices it is the Lord who causes Joseph to be successful. Joseph does not keep his faith a secret. Potiphar trusts Joseph so much that he makes him the overseer of his household; he gives him complete authority. Now, Potiphar is prospering because Joseph is in charge. (NOTE: Same thing happened to Laban when Jacob was in charge of his flocks).
Joseph has become a very handsome man; that is a problem because Potiphar’s wife desires him. Even though Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce Joseph, he resists her by saying, “My master trusts me with everything in his entire household. He has held back nothing from me except you…How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God” (vv:8-9). She tries to wear him down by coming for him every day, but he never submits to her. One day she grabs his cloak and he runs away. Potiphar’s wife accuses Joseph of trying to raper her; she uses the fact that she has his clock as evidence. Because Potiphar has such respect for Joseph, and maybe because he is uncertain about his wife’s story, Joseph is placed in a royal prison—for the king’s prisoners. If Potiphar wanted to do so, he could have had Joseph killed.
Joseph was innocent and a man of integrity. He remained faithful to God, so Joseph just did whatever was needed in the prison. Before long, Joseph is in charge of the other prisoners. He did not know God was positioning him into greater leadership each time. Think about it. Early in his life he had the love and favor of his father; then, all of a sudden he is sold as a slave…all seems well for awhile and suddenly…he finds himself a prisoner. Just doesn’t sound that promising does it? But, pay attention because Joseph’s life is inspiring.