In Genesis, chapter thirty-seven, Joseph’s brothers threw him into a pit, out of jealousy. Joseph was sold to traders that were passing through on their way to Egypt, for twenty shekels of silver (v. 28) Chapter thirty-nine picks back up on the narrative of Joseph’s success as a slave in Potiphar’s house. Potiphar was an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the bodyguard (v. 1). Joseph was purchased to work as a common slave. Potiphar noticed Joseph’s work and showed favor to him by promoting him from an ordinary slave to one with power and high responsibility. Everything was entrusted into Joseph’s hands, so Potiphar did not worry about anything except the food he ate.
While Potiphar is gone, his wife starts tempting Joseph to lie with her. She was very persistent and continued to plead with him to “lie with me”, but Joseph continues to avoid her. He could have had the thought that if he did this it could affect his job or his masters trust, but Joseph’s main concern was “how then could I do this great evil and sin against God?” (v. 9) Joseph made the mistake to be in the house alone with her. She tried again to seduce him but he refused. She grabbed a hold of his garment and pleaded the more, “lie with me”, but he fled leaving his garment with her. She held on to it and screamed for the other servants. ‘That Hebrew came to lie with me and to make sport (laugh) of us, but instead I screamed and he fled.’ (v. 11–16) She held on to the garment until her husband came home. Having no witnesses there, it came down to her word against his.
When Potiphar heard this, he was hot with anger. It does not really direct who he was mad at. Was it Joseph or his wife? Potiphar had every right to have Joseph killed, but it seems that Potiphar knew that it was his wife’s fault. So Joseph was thrown it prison instead, but it seems that it was not long before God allowed Joseph to find favor with the chief jailer.
Joseph pressed on; refusing to let any past events in his life to control his future. In the same way, Christians should forget what is behind them and press on forward to what lies ahead (Phil 3:13). If anyone had the right to be tempted with bitterness about the past, it was Joseph. (brothers hated him and sold him, wrongfully accused by Potiphar’s wife, cup bearer forgot about him, seems like God abandoned him,…) Dwelling on past misfortunes takes one’s eyes off what God is trying to do in the present and future. Joseph’s eyes were so fixed on God, that when temptation came, he was focused on the consequences of his sin and the potential damage to his relationship with a holy God.
All of Joseph’s troubles were all part of God’s sovereign plan to preserve Israel from a future famine. As Joseph was in this prison, he was able to interpret a baker’s and cupbearer’s dream, with God’s help. Accurately interpreting these dreams allowed Joseph the opportunity to interpret Pharaoh’s dream warning of the future famine that was coming to the land. Throughout all the misfortunes in Joseph’s life, he did not let them control how he was going to live in the present. Joseph pressed on through the misfortunes instead laying around in his own self pity.