Genesis 39

How's The New Job?

Everyone has their ups and downs, but this part of Joseph's life was more like a cataclysmic shift. Joseph's life was radically altered after he was ambushed by his brothers and sold to a band of Ishmaelites. No longer was he the favorite son; he was a slave. He was taken to Egypt and sold to an Egyptian man named Potiphar who held the rank of captain for Pharaoh. Joseph's brothers may have abandoned him, but the Lord did not. God's prospered Joseph and it was so pronounced that even Potiphar acknowledged that it was God who was behind Joseph's success. Joseph found favor with Potiphar to the extent that Joseph was given oversight of all that Potiphar owned. Potiphar entrusted Joseph so much that all he concerned himself with was mealtime. Joseph was not with Jacob, but he had a father figure that favored him over all of his household servants. 


Joseph had evidently inherited his mother's looks because he is described here in the same way his mother was described in Genesis 29:17. Joseph's good looks did not escape the attention of the lady of the house. Potiphar's wife began to harass Joseph sexually. Joseph has needs and desires just like everyone else. This woman was relentless in her pursuit and she regularly tempted Joseph sexually, but he would not consent.  His faith in God would not allow him to act wickedly and his conscience would not permit him to dishonor his master in this way. Her advances went on for some time but to no avail.

Wrongfully Accused

One day Joseph entered the house to go about his regular household responsibilities. Unbeknownst to him, he was in the house alone with Potiphar's wife. She saw this as her opportunity. All the romantic rebuffs had only increased her desires, and she decided that she would have him on this day. She seized him by his robe and propositioned him. It seems that Joseph's robes get him in trouble. He refused and ran leaving his garment behind. She lost it and called then men of the household falsely accusing him of attempted rape. She waited for her husband to return. She repeated the charges and Potiphar was filled with anger. What husband would not defend the honor of his beloved? There are not many details provided, but it is probably safe to say that when one is apprehended by the captain of the guard with military training, and he is filled with anger, you most likely will suffer on the way to prison. Did Joseph protest? Did Joseph accuse his wife of lying? Did Potiphar suspect Joseph might be telling the truth? Had Potiphar's wife been unfaithful before? These details do not change the fact that Joseph was placed in the prison where Potiphar is in charge. Joseph is incarcerated without any recourse or hope for a fair hearing. The Lord is still with Joseph, and he is shown God's steadfast love. Joseph enjoyed renewed success with the keeper of the prison and it was not long before he was given charge of the other prisoners. The keeper of the prison grew to trust Joseph implicitly. Joseph's situation in life has gone from bad (a slave) to worse (a prisoner) but the Lord was with him, and he prospered in every way.

Things To Consider:

  • Why does God seem far away when we suffer?
  • How does God demonstrate his sovereignty in Egypt?
  • Why is success difficult to define?
  • How does God define success?
  • What do we learn about working for others?
  • How should a Christian go about their work responsibilities?
  • What was Joseph's weapon against sexual temptation?
  • Do you think Joseph felt like God was showing him steadfast love? Why or why not?
  • What can we learn about God's faithfulness from this passage?
  • Where do you see the evidence of Joseph's faith in this passage?
  • What can we learn about being in charge of small things?