Genesis 39

1 Joseph had been taken to Egypt. Potiphar, one of Pharaoh's Egyptian officials and captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.
2 The LORD was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. He worked in the house of his Egyptian master.
3 Joseph's master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made everything he did successful.
4 Potiphar liked Joseph so much that he made him his trusted servant. He put him in charge of his household and everything he owned.
5 From that time on the LORD blessed the Egyptian's household because of Joseph. Therefore, the LORD's blessing was on everything Potiphar owned in his house and in his fields.
6 So he left all that he owned in Joseph's care. He wasn't concerned about anything except the food he ate. Joseph was well-built and handsome.
7 After a while his master's wife began to desire Joseph, so she said, "Come to bed with me."
8 But Joseph refused and said to her, "My master doesn't concern himself with anything in the house. He trusts me with everything he owns.
9 No one in this house is greater than I. He's kept nothing back from me except you, because you're his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?"
10 Although she kept asking Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or be with her.
11 One day he went into the house to do his work, and none of the household servants were there.
12 She grabbed him by his clothes and said, "Come to bed with me!" But he ran outside and left his clothes in her hand.
13 When she realized that he had gone but had left his clothes behind,
14 she called her household servants and said to them, "Look! My husband brought this Hebrew here to fool around with us. He came in and tried to go to bed with me, but I screamed as loud as I could.
15 As soon as he heard me scream, he ran outside and left his clothes with me."
16 She kept Joseph's clothes with her until his master came home.
17 Then she told him the same story: "The Hebrew slave you brought here came in and tried to fool around with me.
18 But when I screamed, he ran outside and left his clothes with me."
19 When Potiphar heard his wife's story, especially when she said, "This is what your slave did to me," he became very angry.
20 So Joseph's master arrested him and put him in the same prison where the king's prisoners were kept. While Joseph was in prison,
21 the LORD was with him. The LORD reached out to him with his unchanging love and gave him protection. The LORD also put Joseph on good terms with the warden.
22 So the warden placed Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in that prison. Joseph became responsible for everything that they were doing.
23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph's care because the LORD was with Joseph and made whatever he did successful.

Genesis 39 Commentary

Chapter 39

Joseph preferred by Potiphar. (1-6) Joseph resists temptation. (7-12) Joseph is falsely accused by his mistress. (13-18) He is cast into prison, God is with him there. (19-23)

Verses 1-6 Our enemies may strip us of outward distinctions and ornaments; but wisdom and grace cannot be taken from us. They may separate us from friends, relatives, and country; but they cannot take from us the presence of the Lord. They may shut us from outward blessings, rob us of liberty, and confine us in dungeons; but they cannot shut us out from communion with God, from the throne of grace, or take from us the blessings of salvation. Joseph was blessed, wonderfully blessed, even in the house where he was a slave. God's presence with us, makes all we do prosperous. Good men are the blessings of the place where they live; good servants may be so, though mean and lightly esteemed. The prosperity of the wicked is, one way or other, for the sake of the godly. Here was a wicked family blessed for the sake of one good servant in it.

Verses 7-12 Beauty either in men or women, often proves a snare both to themselves and others. This forbids pride in it, and requires constant watchfulness against the temptation that attends it. We have great need to make a covenant with our eyes, lest the eyes infect the heart. When lust has got power, decency, and reputation, and conscience, are all sacrificed. Potiphar's wife showed that her heart was fully set to do evil. Satan, when he found he could not overcome Joseph with the troubles and the frowns of the world, for in them he still held fast his principle, assaulted him with pleasures, which have ruined more than the former. But Joseph, by the grace of God, was enabled to resist and overcome this temptation; and his escape was as great an instance of the Divine power, as the deliverance of the three children out of the fiery furnace. This sin was one which might most easily beset him. The tempter was his mistress, one whose favour would help him forward; and it was at his utmost peril if he slighted her, and made her his enemy. The time and place favoured the temptation. To all this was added frequent, constant urging. The almighty grace of God enabled Joseph to overcome this assault of the enemy. He urges what he owed both to God and his master. We are bound in honour, as well as justice and gratitude, not in any thing to wrong those who place trust in us, how secretly soever it may be done. He would not offend his God. Three arguments Joseph urges upon himself. 1. He considers who he was that was tempted. One in covenant with God, who professed religion and relation to him. 2. What the sin was to which he was tempted. Others might look upon it as a small matter; but Joseph did not so think of it. Call sin by its own name, and never lessen it. Let sins of this nature always be looked upon as great wickedness, as exceedingly sinful. 3. Against whom he was tempted to sin, against God. Sin is against God, against his nature and his dominion, against his love and his design. Those that love God, for this reason hate sin. The grace of God enabled Joseph to overcome the temptation, by avoiding the temper. He would not stay to parley with the temptation, but fled from it, as escaping for his life. If we mean not to do iniquity, let us flee as a bird from the snare, and as a roe from the hunter.

Verses 13-18 Joseph's mistress, having tried in vain to make him a guilty man, endeavoured to be avenged on him. Those that have broken the bonds of modesty, will never be held by the bonds of truth. It is no new thing for the best of men to be falsely accused of the worst of crimes, by those who themselves are the worst of criminals. It is well there is a day of discovery coming, in which all shall appear in their true characters.

Verses 19-23 Joseph's master believed the accusation. Potiphar, it is likely, chose that prison, because it was the worst; but God designed to open the way to Joseph's honour. Joseph was owned and righted by his God. He was away from all his friends and relations; he had none to help or comfort him; but the Lord was with Joseph, and showed him mercy. Those that have a good conscience in a prison, have a good God there. God gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison; he trusted him to manage the affairs of the prison. A good man will do good wherever he is, and will be a blessing even in bonds and banishment. Let us not forget, through Joseph, to look unto Jesus, who suffered being tempted, yet without sin; who was slandered, and persecuted, and imprisoned, but without cause; who by the cross ascended to the throne. May we be enabled to follow the same path in submitting and in suffering, to the same place of glory.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO GENESIS 39

In this chapter the history returns to Joseph again, who being brought down to Egypt was sold to Potiphar, with whom he found favour, and who set him over his house, the Lord prospering everything in his hands, Ge 39:1-6; and being a young man of a comely aspect, his mistress lusted after him, and tempted him to lie with her from time to time, but he as constantly refused it, as being both ingratitude to his master, and a sin against God, Ge 39:7-10; at a certain time they being alone in the house, she renewed her solicitations, and laid hold on his garment, which he left in her hand and fled, Ge 39:11,12; upon which she called to her servants without, and accused Joseph of an ill design upon her, and reported the same to her husband when he came home, Ge 39:13-19; upon which his master put him into prison, but he found favour also with the keeper of it, who committed the prisoners and all things relative to them into his hands, Ge 39:20-23.

Genesis 39 Commentaries