Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7 and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!” 8 But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 9 No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. 11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house. 13 When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, 14 she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. 15 When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.” 16 She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. 18 But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.” 19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. 20 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.
There are many things that can be taken from this passage – Joseph is “strikingly handsome” (Msge), Potiphers’ wife lustful – there is justice and injustice. The main thing that has struck me is the 2 men – Potipher & the chief jailer – they have both seen in Joseph things that are more than skin deep. They have seen in this young man the qualities of integrity, diligence, honesty, trust, faithfulness & God’s favour on him, so much so that neither had to worry about anything that they put into his care. The contrast is Potiphers’ wife, she only saw the outward appearance of Joseph as he became the object of her lust.
I think this is the only place where we are told that Joseph was “handsome and good looking” (NRSV) yet that is not what Joseph is remembered for, at least 12 chapters in Genesis are devoted to him, yet only half of 1 verse to his looks! This has made me reflect on what qualities others will see in me, how will my actions, speech, attitudes be reflected? Oh that even some of the qualities that were seen in Joseph will be seen in me, and yet, the qualities of Jesus are our aim.
Lord, help me to be able to look at others with your eyes, the qualities you have placed in them and not just the visual appearance. Lord, continue to mold me to be more like Jesus that His qualities would be what I am remembered for, that His fragrance would be what others remember of me.
Written by Suzie Hodgson