Thursday 31 December, 2015

Genesis 39:6b-23

Joseph was strong and handsome. 7 After a while, his master’s wife noticed Joseph. She said to him, “Come to bed with me!” 8 But he refused. “My master has put me in charge,” he told her. “Now he doesn’t have to worry about anything in the house. He trusts me to take care of everything he owns. 9 No one in this house is in a higher position than I am. My master hasn’t held anything back from me, except you. You are his wife. So how could I do an evil thing like that? How could I sin against God?” 10 She spoke to Joseph day after day. But he told her he wouldn’t go to bed with her. He didn’t even want to be with her. 11 One day Joseph went into the house to take care of his duties. None of the family servants was inside. 12 Potiphar’s wife grabbed him by his coat. “Come to bed with me!” she said. But he left his coat in her hand. And he ran out of the house. 13 She saw that he had left his coat in her hand and had run out of the house. 14 So she called her servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew slave has been brought here to make fun of us! He came in here to force me to have sex with him. But I screamed for help. 15 He heard my scream. So he left his coat beside me and ran out of the house.” 16 She kept Joseph’s coat with her until Potiphar came home. 17 Then she told him her story. She said, “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to rape me. 18 But I screamed for help. So he left his coat beside me and ran out of the house.” 19 Potiphar’s wife told him, “That’s how your slave treated me.” When Joseph’s master heard her story, he became very angry. 20 So he put Joseph in prison. It was the place where the king’s prisoners were kept. While Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him. He was kind to him. So the man running the prison was pleased with Joseph. 22 He put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners. He made him responsible for everything done there. 23 The man who ran the prison didn’t pay attention to anything in Joseph’s care. That’s because the Lord was with Joseph. He gave Joseph success in everything 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 mould 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

3 replies
  1. Andrew Mellor says:

    I have never thought about this distinction between inward and outer qualities in this passage. I want that deeper perception too.

  2. Andrew Wilson says:

    I love the complexity of this passage.
    It is one I muse over and struggle with when things are not going right. Not going to plan. Well my plan. Yet somehow when it all seems terrible it is still within God’s plan. And somehow He uses it.
    How does Joseph cope with the unfairness the injustice. What about the line: “Joseph was in prison and God was with him”.
    It was not fair he was in prison — and for no good reason!! And on top of all the other injustices.
    Lord, I don’t like these Joseph experiences until I’m out the other side and can see your plan.

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