The Lord Was With Joseph!
This chapter begins with Joseph, down in Egypt, and Potiphar purchasing him as a house servant.
Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there.
The first verse says something that seems so obvious to us, that our eye almost skips over it, or we pay it no heed, but it’s this: “Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh’s and captain of the guard, AN EGYPTIAN”.
Here we are, in Egypt, and we have to be told that Potiphar is an Egyptian?
What else would we have expected than for the 2nd in command over all of Egypt, but that he would have been an Egyptian?
Yet, Moses, who wrote this down, made a point of it.
The answer lies in the fact that at one time, long before Israel became a sovereign nation, Egypt was conquered; and it found itself under the control of non-Egyptians. The thing is, it was only in later times that Egypt sought a position as a world power.
Up to Joseph’s time, Egypt had been a very highly developed civilization that had contact with the outer world, had sent emissaries and even developed trade with the outer world; but, the goal seems to have been only to make Egypt, within its own borders, a great nation; historically, up to the time of Joseph, there appears to have been no aggressive imperialistic designs.
However, as is the case since there has been nations, that goal turned out NOT to be a two-way street. They soon found out that simply being a peace-loving nation, trying to get along with its neighbors, did not immunize them from conflict or aggression.
Egypt was attacked, and routed, by Bedouins…Semites…. who had come from the area of Arabia and Syria! The war was not a result of any dispute between Egypt and these Semites, but simply because these Bedouins wanted what Egypt had.
And, these Semite rulers controlled Egypt for around 2 centuries; that’s right, Semites, sons of Shem, cousins of Israel, sat as Pharaoh on the throne of Egypt…not Egyptians. The Egyptians called these foreign rulers of Egypt the Hyksos. Hyk means “king” and “sos” means shepherd…so these foreigners were known as the “Shepherd Kings”.
And, we don’t know a lot about them, nor are we able to precisely place them in time, because the records from the Hyksos period are scant. This might seem strange in itself, for the Egyptians were tremendous writers of history, and great record keepers.
But, on the other hand, as was typical of most ancient nations, the Egyptians did not record defeats and times of subjugation. What we know of this time generally comes from records from private Egyptian citizens who lived through that era.
But, even with some inherent historical inconsistencies and contradictory scientific findings, scholars generally agree that during the time of Joseph, and for perhaps 100 years or a little more after Joseph’s death, it was the Semite Shepherd Kings that ruled Egypt.
And, it also explains how, as we will soon discover, the Pharaoh seemed to have little trouble giving Joseph, a foreigner, a Hebrew, an Israelite, such an incredible amount of authority over Egyptians; for the best current evidence is that the Pharaoh was NOT an Egyptian; both he and Joseph were Semites.
Now, with that as a background, let’s continue…
The LORD was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the LORD was on all that he had in the house and in the field. Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate.
Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.
Genesis 39:2-6 (NKJV)
Joseph is a very good-looking young man, and Potiphar’s wife is quite taken with him. He also, in some way, which we’re not told, became prosperous; so apparently he was able to do more than simply serve Potiphar. All we know is that God was with Joseph and he did well for himself and for Potiphar.
We’re going to find this statement that God was with Joseph 4 times in this chapter; and obviously it is to make the point that even though Joseph was abandoned by his family, and placed into a strange land with strange gods, the God of Israel was still with him…protecting, controlling, and guiding events.
Bad circumstances don’t mean God has turned His back on you. Even the fact that the Semite Hyksos were in power was Divine Providence…though, of course, Joseph was oblivious to it all.
After a while, his master’s wife began watching him, and she tried to seduce him.
Potiphar’s Wife: Come. Sleep with me.
But Joseph refused.
Joseph (to Potiphar’s wife): Look, please don’t take offense, but with me in charge, my master has no concerns for anything that goes on in his house. He has trusted me with everything he has. He hasn’t treated me like I am any less than he is, and he hasn’t kept anything from me—except, of course, for you because you are his wife. Why would I do something so clearly wrong and sin so blatantly against God?
Joseph’s refusal to have sex with Potiphar’s wife demonstrates how God wants His people to act. How different he is compared to Judah and Reuben!
Although she pursued him day after day, Joseph would not consent to sleep with her and refused to be alone with her.
Genesis 39:7-10 (VOICE)
Well, Potiphar’s wife was infatuated with Joseph and constantly after him. He refuses all of her advances. It happens again, and again and again.
Joseph didn’t say, “I’d be hurting you,” or “I’d be sinning against Potiphar,” or “I’d be sinning against myself.” Under pressure, such excuses are easily rationalized away.
Remember that sexual sin is not just between two consenting adults. It is an act of disobedience against God.
REMAIN FAITHFUL to God in all you do.
DO NOT COMPROMISE, especially when the vision is slow in coming.
One day, however, when he went into the house to do his work while no one else was in the house, she grabbed him by his clothes and tried again to seduce him.
Potiphar’s Wife: Come on. Sleep with me.
But Joseph ran outside away from her, as far and as fast as he could, leaving her holding his clothes in her hand. When she realized he rejected her again and she had his clothes in her hand, she called out to the other servants of her household.
Potiphar’s Wife: See here! My husband brought this Hebrew into our house to take advantage of us! He came to me and wanted to sleep with me. I screamed as loudly as I could, and when he heard me yell, he dropped his clothes here beside me and ran outside.
She kept Joseph’s clothes beside her until her husband came home. Then she told him the same story.
Potiphar’s Wife: The Hebrew servant you brought into this household came in to take advantage of me. When I screamed as loudly as I could, he dropped his clothes here beside me and ran outside.
When Potiphar heard his wife’s account, his face flushed with anger. So Potiphar, Joseph’s master, put him into prison and locked him up in the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. Joseph remained there for a time.
Genesis 39:11-20 (VOICE)
One day, Mrs. Potiphar tires of being rebuffed by a purchased house servant, and grabs Joseph. He runs for his life, but in the doing, she grabs a piece of his garment. Then she decides to take revenge for being scorned: she claims that Joseph tried to rape her, tells her husband, and Joseph is thrown into prison.
Notice also that she declares in V14 that this Hebrew was brought in by her husband to make fools of her household. This is another indication of the hatred the Egyptians had for any Semite, and this due to their current condition of being subjugated by Semite people…even though this particular group of Semites were not Hebrews.
But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper.
Genesis 39:21-23 (NKJV)
And, within no time, Joseph is made a supervisor over all the prisoners.
By the way: although the concept of prison is one that has always been part of our society, it was not part of every society in Joseph’s day. Prison didn’t exist among most of the Canaanite societies, and it didn’t exist among the Hebrews. God protected Joseph even though he was locked up.
Interestingly, we’re going to find out in the next chapter, Joseph was not kept with the other prisoners. He was being kept in the home of the prison captain, though it was a dungeon or basement of some kind, and not the normal household living space.
But, just as important was that without his knowing it; Joseph was proving his trustworthiness to the very man who had locked him up, and undoubtedly all who came into contact with him. This was about to serve him well, as God was about to do something astonishing. God’s Governing Dynamic #2, Divine Providence, is a central theme of Joseph’s life.
Are you facing a seemingly hopeless predicament?
At work, at home, or at school, follow Joseph’s example by taking each small task and doing your best. Remember how God turned Joseph’s situation around. He will see your efforts and can reverse even overwhelming odds.
Father, I thank You that You are always with me. You are always there to make me prosperous and successful. You place people of importance in my path to grant me favor and bring me to the place You have ordained for me to be. I find grace in their sight, and they go out of their way to do nice things for me. I serve them well because of the anointing You have given me. By Your favor, they lift me to positions of authority, and I prosper in whatever position I am given. Everything I set my hand to do is prosperous and successful. I thank You that You bless him for my sake, Father. Everything that they have is blessed because of the favor they have given me. You pour out upon them an anointing for prosperity, and they enjoy the bounty of Your riches. Help me to serve them well, Father. Help me to be a person of integrity and admirable character so that You will be praised in all that I do.
Father, I know that my gift will make away for me. No matter what happens in my life, You are with me. If I am falsely accused and unjustly judged, it cannot stop Your anointing. I prosper wherever I am and whatever my situation. Your favor resides with me at all times. Even those who have been set against me end up granting me favor. No matter what situation I am in, I will recognize your presence, Father. Everything I sent my hand to do prospers because You are with me. When things look grim, I’ll just keep right on going. Nothing can get me down, because my partner is the Lord of all.
I pray in Jesus’ mighty name!
DECLARATION OF FAITH
The Lord is always with me to make me prosperous and very successful.
Those who have been appointed as my supervisors can clearly see that the Lord is with me. They see how He makes everything that I set my hand to do to thrive and prosper.
He grants me abundant favor with those in authority over me. They look upon me as one who is called to lead, and the Lord blesses them for my sake. For my sake, all that they have is blessed.
No matter what the circumstances may be in my life, I prosper, for the Lord is with me to show me mercy, loving kindness, and abundance of favor with all of those I come in contact with. I have favor with my employers, my pastors, my teachers, and my administrators. They see that I am called to be a leader, and the Lord makes everything that I am put in charge of to prosper.
I pray this declaration of faith in Jesus’ name!