Summary of Genesis 39:1-18:
Joseph was purchased by Potiphar who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, his captain of the guard. God was with Joseph, and he prospered. Potiphar noticed that God was with him and blessed him in everything he did, so he put Joseph in charge of his household. Potiphar was blessed as well because of Joseph and did not have to do anything except feed himself.
Potiphar’s wife wanted to have an affair with Joseph because he was handsome, but Joseph refused to sin against God in that way. She kept asking, and Joseph kept refusing. One day, she grabbed his cloak and asked him to sleep with her. He refused and fled, but she kept his cloak. Potiphar’s wife then claimed that Joseph tried to sleep with her, using his cloak as proof.
BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 24, Day 2: Genesis 39:1-18
3a) God blessed Joseph in Potiphar’s house, and Potiphar noticed so he had Joseph be his attendant. He put Joseph in charge of his entire home, and God blessed Potiphar because of it, both in the house and the field. Potiphar did not have to worry about anything.
b) I see God’s work in my life every day, and as I seek, He reveals. I keep on, keeping-on, but I know He is working through me to accomplish His plans. As God has blessed Joseph, so he does all of us.
4a) Potiphar’s wife flat out asked/told Joseph to come to bed with him. When he refused, she kept pestering him, hoping to wear him down. She grabbed his cloak one day when no one else was around and asked again, but Joseph fled. She was so angry to be rejected that she made up a lie about him.
b) I like how Joseph fled from temptation and avoided her probably at all costs and avoided being alone with her. Joseph was also honest with her and did not lie. It’s best to avoid situations altogether where you could face temptation.
5) I’m currently not facing any major situations, but daily situations to do the right thing can be a challenge as well, especially when you think no one is looking or noticing. That is what I plan to pray about and work on. This might cost money, reputation, or embarrassment.
6) God always provides a way out of temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13) and does not give us more than we can bear. Praying, staying close to God, and knowing He is good helps immensely.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 24, Day 2: Genesis 39:1-18
Kudos to Joseph here for standing by his boss and by God, especially when it seems he was being battered by Potiphar’s wife to sleep with him. A lot of men give in to this, especially one in Joseph’s position who was a mere slave and this could have been seen as an order.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 24, Day 2: Genesis 39:1-18
Potiphar’s name means devoted to the sun. The ancient Egyptians worshipped the sun god, Ra who was believed to have created the entire world. He was one of their central gods.
Bible scholars debate is Potiphar was a eunuch since many officials in ancient times were castrated so that they would forever be loyal to the king. There is no confirmation of this idea, however, in Potiphar’s case. If you are the captain of the guard of Pharaoh, you are a very important person. After all, you’re in charge of the Pharaoh’s security.
Note how God was with Potiphar from the beginning. Joseph could have been bought by anyone, including someone who would mistreat him. He was not. Joseph showed everyone that God existed through his actions. Even in our darkest hours (pretty sure going from the favored son of a rich man to a slave qualifies), God blesses and uses it for His good.
Odds are, Joseph’s brothers who put him here were probably not doing all that well.
Interestingly, God can bless our work and those we work with in the same way. This can include your home where you work as well.
Success Takes Time
Although this passage reads as such, Joseph did not become a success overnight. Working backwards with the timeframe, Joseph was sold into slavery at age 17 (Genesis 37:2). We are told he was 30 when Pharaoh promoted him (Genesis 41:46), and we know Joseph was imprisoned for two years before this (Genesis 41:1). Thus, it took Joseph 11 years to work his way up to be Potiphar’s right-hand man. Oftentimes, we are not patient enough to let God work in our lives. This is still quite young, even in our day, to rise to such fame.
We can also assume that Joseph worked hard to earn this position, and he was obviously good at it.
Fun Fact: The writers of the Bible only record two other men as being handsome:
- David (1 Samuel 16:12) and
- Absalom (2 Samuel 14:25).
- Some Bible scholars say Moses, but Moses was called beautiful as a child (Exodus 2:2), which, as all of us parents know, all babies are beautiful!
If Potiphar was indeed a eunuch, Potiphar’s wife may have been seeking sexual intimacy then with other men. Remember, ancient cultures often saw marriage as more of an open relationship, and affairs were very common and sometimes even acceptable. Perhaps Potiphar’s wife was attracted to Joseph’s looks or to the challenge of bagging him. No one knows her motivations. We are only told her actions here.
Joseph Resists Temptation
Since we all know that Joseph was in Potiphar’s house for 11 years, this could have been going on that entire time. If you think of it in that way, then you can understand that one day Joseph’s refusal would anger Potiphar’s wife enough that she would take her revenge. Yet, Joseph stand firm, knowing he would sin against God and his master if he slept with her.
Note that Potiphar’s wife blamed her husband for bringing Joseph into the house. Note how this sin began in the Garden of Eden when Adam blamed God for the first sin because God made Eve (even though he wanted a companion). (Genesis 3:12-13) This sin of blaming others has been around since the beginning of time.
Many people in the Bible could not resist temptation (Abrah, Moses, David, Joh, Peter, Solomon, and, of course, Adam and Eve). Joseph and Daniel did.
Bible scholars believe Potiphar’s wife planned to get Joseph alone, hoping to finally seduce him with no one looking. Instead, Joseph flees sin once again, as we are commanded to do 2 Timothy 2:22.
She lies, knowing Joseph would be put to death. Yet, for someone who wants to sleep with him, she doesn’t seem to care. We are not told if Joseph defended himself. However, it would not matter. Joseph was a slave. His life didn’t matter. Still, Joseph trusted all things would work together for his good.(Romans 8:28).
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