TODAY’S SCRIPTURE: Genesis 39:11-23 (NLT*)
One day, however, no one else was around when he went in to do his work. She came and grabbed him by his cloak, demanding, “Come on, sleep with me!” Joseph tore himself away, but he left his cloak in her hand as he ran from the house. When she saw that she was holding his cloak and he had fled, she called out to her servants. Soon all the men came running. “Look!” she said. “My husband has brought this Hebrew slave here to make fools of us! He came into my room to rape me, but I screamed. When he heard me scream, he ran outside and got away, but he left his cloak behind with me.”She kept the cloak with her until her husband came home. Then she told him her story. “That Hebrew slave you’ve brought into our house tried to come in and fool around with me,” she said. “But when I screamed, he ran outside, leaving his cloak with me!” Potiphar was furious when he heard his wife’s story about how Joseph had treated her. So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held, and there he remained. But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. Before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison. The warden had no more worries, because Joseph took care of everything. The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed.
AN IMAGINARY JOURNAL ARTICLE
I was just trying to make the best of a bad situation. The people who bought me from my brothers were not the nicest of individuals, and I figured that the next situation I was passed into would be just as bad. But then I was sold to Potiphar’s household. What a change! At first, I was just trying to get familiar with my new responsibilities, but they weren’t really challenging, and Potiphar kept giving me more and more to do. I had no idea that I could handle so much! My father and brothers always took care of everything for me, and I wasn’t really trusted with anything significant. Even though I was working as a slave, it was certainly much better than it could have been. And then… just as things were going well… Mrs. Potiphar. I saw her looking me up and down, and she made me very nervous. I tried to stay away from her as much as possible, but it just isn’t that big of a house. One day she cornered me. I tried to explain as best I could why this was SUCH a bad idea, but she didn’t care. I got away, but she kept trying to trap me. And she sure did trap me now! She told her husband that I tried to rape her. She had taken my coat, and used it to “prove” to Potiphar that I had been in her room. After all that I had done for Potiphar, he took her word over mine, and threw me in this prison. But even here, it has been better than I thought it would be. The warden is a nice guy, and lets me use my new-found administrative skills to help him out. I suppose it could be worse…
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT…
- Do you think Potiphar’s wife was in love with Joseph?
- When Joseph initially refused to sleep with her, why did she continue to pursue him so intently?
- Potiphar has trusted Joseph with running his household, and he now hears that Joseph attempted to harm his wife. If you were in Potiphar’s position, how do you imagine you would react?
- Joseph has again been betrayed, even though this time he tried to do the moral and correct thing. How do you think he felt when he entered his prison cell?
- Joseph’s administrative skills are again put to use, this time by the warden. How do you account for this growing ability and strength in Joseph?
“…prisons were known for inflicting severe hardship, especially when prisoners were chained in place or to guards. Jailers were known as men of abject cruelty. Overcrowding, darkness, psychological distress, and malnutrition characterized the incarceration experience. Most prisoners required friends or relatives to supply their food and necessities. In addition to physical and emotional distress, prison settings also brought social shame upon their inhabitants and their associates. Nevertheless, some prisoners’ conditions permitted modest freedoms, including reading, writing, and preparing defenses.”
The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, vol. 4 (Abingdon Press: Nashville, 2009, 615.)
* Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.