Joseph In Egypt_

Joseph in Egypt

What do we do if a moral decision is not explicitly covered in the Bible’s ‘do not do these things’ or ‘do this or that?’ What do we do when we live in a society that has moral standards that are far below that of God? Many of you are familiar with the Bible story of Joseph. His jealous brothers sold him at the age of 17, to a caravan of travelers, who in turn sold him to a wealthy Egyptian court official and chief of Pharaoh’s bodyguard.[1] Eventually, Joseph was placed over Potiphar’s entire house, because of his living a life of integrity and faithfulness to his God.

Genesis 39:1-20 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

39 Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the hand of the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. Jehovah was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. Now his master saw that Jehovah was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. And Joseph found favor in his eyes and he became his personal attendant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his hand. It came about that from the time he made him overseer in his house and over all that he owned, Jehovah blessed the Egyptian’s house on account of Joseph; thus Jehovah’s blessing was upon all that he owned, in the house and in the field. So he left everything he owned in Joseph’s charge; and with him there he did not concern himself with anything except the bread which he ate.

THE BATTLE FOR THE CHRISTIAN MIND (1)Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. Now after these things it came about that the wife of his master began to lifted up her eyes at[2] Joseph and say: “Lie down with me.” 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,[3] and he has put all that he owns in my hand. 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?” 10 And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her. 11 But it happened that on this day that he went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the household was there inside. 12 She caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me!” And he left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside. 13 And it came about when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled outside, 14 she called to the men of her house and said to them, “Look! He brought a Hebrew man to us to mock us; he came to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice. 15 And when he heard that I raised my voice and called out, he left his garment beside me and fled, and he went outside.” 16 Then she laid up his garment by her until his master came home. 17 Then she spoke to him according to these words, saying, “The Hebrew slave that you brought to us came to me to laugh at me. 18 But as soon as I raised my voice and called out, he left his garment beside me and fled outside.”

Joseph Imprisoned

19 As soon as his master heard the words his wife spoke to him, saying: “These are the things your slave did to me,” his anger burned. 20 And Joseph’s master took him and put him into prison, the place that the king’s prisoners were confined; and he was there in prison.

Potiphar’s wife attempted to seduce young Joseph into having sexual relations with her on many occasions.[4] At the time, there was no law prohibiting adultery for the sons and grandsons of Abraham. Moreover, it would not have been adultery for Potiphar’s wife, as the Egyptian culture did not view free relations within the same tribe as committing adultery. Even so, his father Jacob must have taught Joseph that the initial marriage by God was of one man and one woman, and was a sacred arrangement. Thus, he would have understood that this would have been offensive to his God. Therefore, Joseph was not trying to adopt the cultural values of the nation that he resided in but to uphold the values of Jehovah God. Joseph demonstrated self-control, while he awaited his delivery from one life-threatening situation after another.

The imperfections that we have inherited, the imperfect world of humankind that we live within, having superhuman spirit creatures that are working against us, leaves us with enough human foresight to know that we are living in difficult times, and bad things happen to good people as well as bad people. However, if we have had a personal relationship with God, and have drawn close to him, we will suffer through even the most egregious of times, and like Job, maintaining our integrity.

[1] In Egypt, Joseph is imprisoned because he faithfully and courageously adheres to God’s moral standards.

[2] I.e., looked at joseph with desires

[3] Lit does not know what is with me in the house

[4] One may be asking, ‘why did Potiphar not kill Joseph, after all, he was merely a slave?’ Joseph had been there in the house for three years, and had proven himself very trustworthy. Therefore, it could be that Potiphar did not believe his wife, and knew it was the other way around because he knew of his wife’s free relations in the past. Regardless, Potiphar had to appease his wife’s wrath, so prison was the only way out, to spare Joseph. He put Joseph into a prison where important persons were held (See v. 20), a sentence, which was hardly to be expected for a slave taken for attempted rape of a man’s wife.