Personal study notes Genesis 39

Friday, August 25, 2006
Tonight I am going to begin to type up and post sometime tomorrow the most incredible Bible study that Pastor Don taught this afternoon, sigh. It blew my mind.

Genesis 39 – the tension mounts. Joseph has been sold into slavery, his father mourns Joseph’s death. After this cliffhanger, we have an interlude with Tamar and Judah. Now we will see what happens next, believe me, this is the original soap opera.

Joseph’s position abroad will become prominent and powerful, but first there will be some trials and tribulation. Joseph is taken down to Egypt (he was 17 years old), and Potiphar (which means belonging to the sun), who was an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, and an Egyptian bought Joseph from the Ishmaelites.

I love verse 2 The LORD was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.

It is something that I have to keep reminding myself about, that the LORD is with us no matter what our circumstances are. He is with us in our Egypts, He is with us in the deepest pit, He is always with us, and He can make us successful no matter where we are. What made Joseph successful? Unlike me at times, he did not sit down and mope, and refuse to do more than the bare minimum for his master. He approached his situation with boundless industry, not in a lazy manner and he dealt with His master in integrity. He did not compromise his principles, even for the “enemy”.

People notice what we do, and those in Egypt (or the world) are very aware of our actions. God was with Joseph, God was a part of Joseph’s life, and Joseph acted in a godly manner, and THAT was noticed by Potiphar.

Verse 3 And his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made all he did to prosper in his hand.

Even when we don’t realize it, people from the world notice what we are doing. Joseph found so much favor with his master, that he was made overseer of Potiphar’s house and all that Potiphar had was put under Joseph’s authority.

I wonder if it was those same qualities that caused Jacob/Israel to give Joseph the distinction of the coat of many colors. So often people feel that they are entitled to position or rank, but their actions do not merit the advancement. Obviously Joseph acted in such a way as to merit the advancement.

Verse 5 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.

God is so good, his blessings flow out even to the Egyptians. He honored Joseph’s obedience with overflow of abundance, and that flowed down to others in Joseph’s circle. When we bring the LORD into our situation, He blesses it. Potiphar knew that he did not have to worry about anything with Joseph in control. I sure hope that people look at me and think the same kinds of thoughts about my being trustworthy and able. Potiphar trusted Joseph so much that Potiphar did not know what he had, except for the bread that he ate.

Not only was Joseph honest, honorable, and a good steward, but he was also handsome, so handsome that he attracted the eye of Potiphar’s wife.

She asked Joseph to lie with her, but Joseph refused saying, verse 8-9 “Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God.

You know, Joseph kept his priorities straight, he knew that if he slept with Potiphar’s wife that the one he would be sinning against is God. Joseph knew that God was there, and would see the sin, even if Potiphar never discovered it. I think that I need to keep this in mind because if I keep God foremost in my mind, there will be less tendency to sin against Him.

Notice that in verse 10 it says, “So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her.”

This is so important. Joseph avoided her so that there would be no sense of impropriety in his actions. We have to watch what we say and do because others are watching, and observing. We need to make sure our actions are holy and above-board. One other thing to notice is that, just like any temptation to sin, it keeps coming at Joseph. He refused one day, but that did not mean that Potiphar’s wife gave up, she kept trying. It is so with most of our temptations. Satan isn’t going to say, “Oh, he resisted me once, guess I’ll give up.” Satan will keep trying to find our weak areas. After Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, satan left Him until a more opportune time. Satan will keep slinging those darts and temptations, and hoping to find a weak point in our spiritual armor. And often, when we get free of an area of bondage, that is exactly where satan will attack again. It is very easy to slide back into an area of bondage that is familiar, so we have to keep focusing on God, saying scriptures to battle the bondage, and keep moving forward.

One day, Joseph ended up being in the house to do his work, and none of his men were there for witnesses. verse 12 “that she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside.

Poor Joseph and his garments – his coat of many colors caused jealousy in his brothers, so much so that they contemplated his death, but ultimately sold him into slavery. Now Joseph’s garment (and given he was in charge of his master’s house, it probably was a garment of authority), is grabbed by Potiphar’s wife, and Joseph flees naked from the house.

There are so many things this brings to mind. 2 Timothy 2:22 Flee youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. James 4:7-8aTherefore submit to God, Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…

Joseph, again keeping his focus on God, fled from this woman. He did the right thing in resisting her evil. But look at the outcome. There is a saying, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” Can you imagine the feelings that went through Potiphar’s wife’s mind? Not only did Joseph say no, but he ran from her presence and house naked. She must have been mortified, so angry that she had to get back at him. So she called the men to her and told them that a Hebrew mocked them, wanting to lie with her. (What a lie!). She says she yelled and grabbed his robe to keep it until her husband came home. She lied, bold faced lie. But she had to plot this way, because the alternative would be Joseph telling Potiphar what happened, and she would be in trouble. Notice how she now tries to make Potiphar guilty.

Verse 17 Then she spoke to him with words like these, saying, “The Hebrew servant whom you brought to us came in to me to mock me: so it happened, as I lifted my voice and cried out, that he left his garment with me and fled outside.”

Do you remember that Adam tells God, “The woman you gave me…” putting the blame for his disobedience onto God and the woman. Here Mrs. Potiphar puts the blame on Joseph for her disobedience.

verse 19 So it was, when his master heard the words which his wife spoke to him, saying, “Your servant did to me after this manner,” that his anger was aroused.

What I have always wondered is with whom was Potiphar angry at? I suspect it is probably his wife. Why? Potiphar knows Joseph is a man of integrity. Attempted rape was a capital offense in Egypt, and if Potiphar really felt Joseph was guilty, he would have had Joseph killed, not imprisoned.

verse 20-23 Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the kings’ prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison. 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.

Can you imagine the feelings of Joseph? Have you ever been falsely accused, and had to take a punishment that someone else should have had? Even in that tough situation, Joseph still had God’s favor. He still acted honorably, so much so that he was put in charge of the prison. The Bible tells us that what satan meant for harm, God would turn to good. God will use this prison experience to help Joseph and his family. While Joseph did not die, I wonder what he thought of his prophetic dreams from the past. It sure seems that he sunk deeper and deeper into a situation that seemed likely to kill those visions. But Joseph still honored God, and gained God’s favor.

Beth Moore, in her study The Patriarchs, as usual has some wonderful advice. She mentions on page 180 that when Mrs. Potiphar asked him to lie with her, he gave 35 Hebrew words as an answer, stating the reasons why he would not lie with her. and Beth says, “If you and I are going to be victorious under tidal wave temptation, we are wise to rehearse in advance our reasons for standing firm…he knew that fleeting pleasure could not possibly be worth the violations of trust and subsequent consequences.”

On Page 181 Beth talks about Mrs. Potiphar’s reaction. “Please absorb how thoroughly Mrs. Potiphar covered, manipulated and schemed. First she made sure her servants knew (v.14). The servants not only provided witnesses but their knowledge also insured Potiphar’s obligation to respond strongly and swiftly. Secondly, notice her deliberate attempt to incite racial prejudice in her reference to Joseph as “this Hebrew” (v.14) Thirdly, don’t miss how effectively she played the blame card by shifting fault to her husband. Lastly, note the repetitive reference to the “cloak beside” her in verses 15, 16, and 18.”

“Every time Potiphar’s wife recounted the story, however, she described the cloak beside her rather than in her hand. Then, in verse 16 she very purposely “kept his cloak beside her until his master came home.” Why was the placement of the cloak so important? Because Potiphar’s wife wanted the scene to insinuate that Joseph himself had removed his cloak as a preliminary to rape. The woman was so viciously cunning, one had to wonder how often she’d sharpened her skills.”

Page 182 “Surely Genesis 39 and the events that will soon follow represent the lowest point of Joseph’s life.”

Page 182 “The Joseph saga continues for the next 11 chapters of Genesis. To the degree that he’s been abased, Joseph will abound. Yet we will never again see the constant reminder in Scripture that God was with him. Beloved, we tend to be convinced that God has abandoned us in our abasement and joined us in our abundance. God is never closer to us than when we’ve been kicked down by life…..Dear One, God is loyal to you…even when no one else is. He is present with you no matter what your estate. You cannot enter a single place—not even a prison—where God cannot ultimately make you successful.”

I hope this has blessed you. Sometimes trouble comes my way, and I have to remember that these situations, even if caused by satan, will be turned to good by God. I used to blame God for the horrid things that happened to me, but now I realize that God was there with me in the midst of them, and satan was not able to drive me to death. God will win, and he will take these terrible times and restore what satan meant for our harm. It is a win-win situation. And we have God on our side.

Hoping you have a blessed weekend!



About Heather Marsten

Welcome to Heather's Blog. I'm looking forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. I just moved about nine years of material over from another blog site, Xanga, who may close down mid-July. At first I was disappointed to make the move because I had a lifetime membership at Xanga and had to spend weeks transferring posts. But now I'm thrilled. Already I've met new bloggers and read many new websites. Blogging is a wonderful way to expand my horizons and garner new ideas. I'm a happily married mom of three young adults. My husband and I are proud to watch our children grow and venture out into the world. My daughter is still in college but my two sons have graduated. One has a job and the other just graduated and is in the process of finding a job in his field, physics. Anyone know of any jobs out there? I'm proud of our children and love watching them grow and mature. They've become fine, compassionate, and loving people. Empty nest? Nah, I'm too busy to let an empty nest bother me. Not enough hours in the day. My husband and I enjoy quiet time together and I have many interests to pursue - one of which is blogging :D I am a born-again believer and love God. As you read this blog, you will discover that Bible studies thrill me. There is so much wisdom contained between the covers of the Bible and I am fortunate to sit under the teachings of a remarkable pastor, Pastor Don Moore. Members of our church (Living Word Chapel in West Hurley, New York) are encouraged to teach and there are visiting pastors who stop by our church, I also study the Bible on my own and love sharing what I learn. One other passion is writing. My current work in process is a memoir. A scene from my memoir was published in a book called: Heavenly Company: Entertaining Angels Unaware - an anthology of angelic encounters compiled by Cecil Murphy. I'm hoping my memoir will encourage other survivors of abuse. I grew up in a home filled with abuse, including incest. For most of my life I was searching for something that would fill the void of not being loved by my parents. I tried many ways to find that love -- therapy, relationships, occult studies, and keeping my life so filled I had no way to think about my past. It was only when I discovered God that I was able to put the pieces of my life back together and walk forward in a joyous life. My nickname - wondering has changed from wondering where the heck God was in my life, to wondering what incredible adventure is going to happen next. I hope you enjoy my site. Please say hi, share some thoughts, and ask questions. I look forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. Have a blessed day. Heather
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