(Gen 39:1 NASB) Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the bodyguard, bought him from the Ishmaelites, who had taken him down there.
Gen 39:1: Joseph was taken to Egypt. The beginning of the prophecy given to Abraham does not begin until the family of Israel moves to Egypt. That is still a few years away (Genesis 15:13). That passage seems to be in conflict with Exodus 12:40-41 which says 430 years. However the passage in Gen. 15:13 clearly says they would be “enslaved and oppressed” for 400 years. For the first 30 years, the stay of Israel in Egypt was not necessarily an affliction. It was not until a Pharaoh arose that did not remember Joseph that Israel was held in slavery (Ex. 1:6-10). But they were in Egypt for a total of 430 years.
The year is approximately 1728 B.C.
(Gen 39:2 NASB) And the LORD was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian.
(Gen 39:3 NASB) Now his master saw that the LORD was with him and how the LORD caused all that he did to prosper in his hand.
(Gen 39:4 NASB) So Joseph found favor in his sight, and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge.
Gen 39:4: Elohim was with Joseph. He prospered because Elohim blessed everything with which he was involved. Potiphar picked up on this and made him the overseer of his household.
It was not uncommon for Asian slaves to be brought into the household and enjoy a superior status to the Egyptian slaves who worked in the fields. This was brought to light by an Egyptian papyrus called “Brooklyn 35.1446” from about 1833 – 1742 BC. Because of this, Joseph was given the opportunity to display his administrative talents to Potiphar.
Unfortunately, he was also working very closely with Potiphar’s wife.
(Gen 39:5 NASB) And it came about that from the time he made him overseer in his house, and over all that he owned, the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house on account of Joseph; thus the LORD’S blessing was upon all that he owned, in the house and in the field.
Gen 39:5: Elohim blessed the house of Potiphar for the sake of Joseph. His entire household was blessed.
(Gen 39:6 NASB) So he left everything he owned in Joseph’s charge; and with him there he did not concern himself with anything except the food which he ate. Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.
Gen 39:6: Joseph is described as handsome and built well. Rachel, his mother, is described that way also (Gen. 29:17).
(Gen 39:7 NASB) And it came about after these events that his master’s wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.”
(Gen 39:8 NASB) But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge.
Gen 39:8: “And it came about after these events…” This is apparently several years later that this incident takes place. Joseph knows the responsibility and trust that Potiphar has placed in his hands.
(Gen 39:9 NASB) “There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil, and sin against God?”
Gen 39:9: This is an enormous declaration of faithfulness by Joseph. How does Joseph know that adultery is sin? And specifically, how does Joseph know this is a sin against Elohim (Lev. 6:2, Num. 32:23, Psalm 51:4)?
This is another piece of overwhelming evidence that Torah was known by men before the time of the tablets given on Mt. Sinai.
Joseph knows that nothing has been withheld from him in the entire household of Potiphar, except his wife.
(Gen 39:10 NASB) And it came about as she spoke to Joseph day after day, that he did not listen to her to lie beside her, or be with her.
Gen 39:10: She tempted him every day. But he did not pay attention to her nor have sex with her.
(Gen 39:11 NASB) Now it happened one day that he went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the household was there inside.
(Gen 39:12 NASB) And she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me!” And he left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside.
(Gen 39:13 NASB) When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and had fled outside,
Gen 39:13: Apparently Potiphar’s wife did not take rejection well. She was frustrated with his rejections of her and finally tried to force him. She grabbed his garment and he ran out of the house to avoid her attentions.
(Gen 39:14 NASB) she called to the men of her household, and said to them, “See, he has brought in a Hebrew to us to make sport of us; he came in to me to lie with me, and I screamed.
(Gen 39:15 NASB) “And it came about when he heard that I raised my voice and screamed, that he left his garment beside me and fled, and went outside.”
Gen 39:15: First of all, notice that she blames Potiphar first. She says that “he has brought in a Hebrew to make sport of us.” She was mad at more than just Joseph.
Then she concocts a story about him attacking her and her screaming. I wonder why no one heard her scream before Joseph left?
(Gen 39:16 NASB) So she left his garment beside her until his master came home.
(Gen 39:17 NASB) Then she spoke to him with these words, “The Hebrew slave, whom you brought to us, came in to me to make sport of me;
(Gen 39:18 NASB) and it happened as I raised my voice and screamed, that he left his garment beside me and fled outside.”
Gen 39:18: This is the second time that Joseph’s garment is used as the witness against him. She tells her false story of woe to her husband.
(Gen 39:19 NASB) Now it came about when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke to him, saying, “This is what your slave did to me,” that his anger burned.
Gen 39:19: Potiphar is angered at what his wife told him. I wonder if Potiphar fully believed her. It doesn’t sound like this is the first or last time he had problems with her.
I imagine that she put on quite a show for him though.
(Gen 39:20 NASB) So Joseph’s master took him and put him into the jail, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; and he was there in the jail.
(Gen 39:21 NASB) But the LORD was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer.
(Gen 39:22 NASB) And the chief jailer committed to Joseph’s charge all the prisoners who were in the jail; so that whatever was done there, he was responsible for it.
Gen 39:22: Joseph was righteous in his actions. Elohim was with him and continued to bless him in prison. Joseph was put in charge of all the prisoners there also. Everything Joseph touched flourished.
(Gen 39:23 NASB) The chief jailer did not supervise anything under Joseph’s charge because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made to prosper.
Gen 39:23: The keeper of the prison did not even check on Joseph and his work. Elohim was with Joseph and He was going to use all these things for the good of Joseph and all people.
Joseph was doing Elohim’s will even in his most difficult times (Psalm 37:3-11).
Patrick McGuireCopyright 2014 Patrick McGuire and Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly All rights reserved, no portion of this Lesson may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews. Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly Fort Smith, Arkansas