We now pick up the flow of Joseph’s stories, which had been “interrupted” by the Tamar incident. Joseph is now working as a slave for the “captain of the guard,” who is in charge of the prison for royal officials (Genesis 40:3-4; Genesis 41:10-12).
Read Genesis 39:1-23. In light of the example of Joseph’s working as a manager under Potiphar, what are the factors that led to such success?
Almost immediately, Joseph is characterized as a man of success (Genesis 39:2-3). He was so good and his master so trusted him that “all that he had he put into his hand,” and even made him “overseer over his house” (Genesis 39:4).
Joseph’s success, however, does not corrupt him. When Potiphar’s wife notices him and wants to sleep with him, Joseph unambiguously refuses and prefers to lose his job and his security rather than “do this great wickedness, and sin against God” (Genesis 39:9). The woman, humiliated by Joseph’s refusal, reports falsely to her servants and to her husband that Joseph wanted to rape her. As a result, Joseph is cast into prison.
Joseph experiences here what we all have experienced: the sense of abandonment by God even though, even in this difficult time, “the LORD was with Joseph” (Genesis 39:21).
Eventually, the Lord acts, and He has an impact on Joseph’s relationship with the officer of the prison. Here, too, as in his master’s house, the Lord blesses Joseph. He is obviously a gifted man, and despite the even worse circumstances now (after all, before, he was still a slave!), he seeks to make the best of it. Whatever his gifts, however, the text makes it clear that, in the end, it was only God who brought him success. “The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper” (Genesis 39:23, NKJV). How important that all who are gifted, all who are “successful,” remember where it all comes from!
|Read Genesis 39:7-12. How did Joseph resist the wife’s advances? Why did Joseph specifically say that to have done what she asked would have been a sin against God? What understanding does he show about the nature of sin and what it is?|