Thru The Word Ministries

Genesis 37-39


1 - Now Jacob dwelt in the land of the dwelling place of his father, in the land of Canaan.  

Our introduction to one of the most significant Old Testament characters comes by way of his father.  The biblical account is thorough in that we see that Joseph comes from good stock, spiritually speaking.  He was greatly loved by his earthly father, but nothing like how he was loved by his heavenly father as we shall soon see.  

Before we begin to explore the story of Joseph, I believe one important fact needs to be brought out.  You see, the story of Joseph will cover the remaining chapters of the book of Genesis.  That is a total of fourteen chapters.  That’s more chapters than what was devoted to the creation account, mankind’s fall, and the flood put together.  I trust the reasons for this will become apparent as our study rolls on.  

2 - These [are] the generations of Jacob.  Joseph, [his] seventeen year-old son, was shepherding the flock with his brothers, while he himself [was] a lad, with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, the wives of his father.  And Joseph brought an evil report of them to their father.  

More than just a nosey, tattletale brat, Joseph begins to gain a reputation for knowing right from wrong and acting on that knowledge.  He knew evil when he saw it and went to the person who he knew was able to act on behalf of justice.  This he was able to do, according to the text, while he was yet a teenager.  May the Lord raise up teenagers of our day to have the courage to do the same as Joseph in that stage of life!  

3 - Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons because he [was] the son of his old age.  And he made for him a tunic of many colors.  

You could say the commentary on Joseph to this point is leading up to something.  I am not of the belief that Joseph serves as an Old Testament type of Christ, but before this is over I believe we will certainly be able to see many similarities between Joseph and the Lord Jesus.  We see another similarity here in the phrase, “…Israel loved Joseph more than all…”  He loved him so much that he treated him in a special way.  He made for him a “tunic of many colors.”  We would call it today a cloak, or a coat.  Literally, though, the rendering we see here is correct.  Practically it refers to a coat of many pieces with big sleeves.  It could also be thought of as a patchwork tunic.  

4 - When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, then they hated him, and were not able to speak to him in a friendly manner.  

In the same manner, the Pharisees, scribes, and Sadducees despised Jesus.  Why?  Because He was a threat to their position and place in the eyes of the people.  In our vernacular, we might say Joseph was making them look bad.  From then on they had nothing good to say to Joseph.   We would believe Joseph would be inclined to back down in order to maintain diplomatic relations with his brothers; that he would adopt a go-along-to-get-along mentality.  But you see when the Lord raises up a man to do His bidding, there is no backing down or backing off.  Jesus once again serves as our example.  As the Old Testament prophesied,

For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.  Isaiah 50:7

This prophecy certainly came to pass as Jesus determined to go all the way to Calvary for you and I.  

By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament…Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.  Hebrews 7:22, 25

We will see much salvation come as a result of Joseph and his determination to have the Lord be his help.  Be sure to keep following our study as we track through these fourteen chapters.  

5 - Then Joseph dreamed a dream.  When he told [it] to his brothers, then they hated him all the more.  

This is the first in a series of dreams Joseph will have that will further infuriate his brothers.  In a similar way Jesus came to his own brethren, John tells us, “and his own received Him not” (John 1:11).  

6 - And he said to them, “Please listen to this dream that I have dreamed.  

7 - “Now, behold, we [were] binding sheaves in the midst of the field.  Then, behold, my sheaf stood up, and also remained standing; and behold, your sheaves surrounded and bowed down to my sheaf.”  

8 - But his brothers said to him, “Will you really reign over us?  Will you really rule among us?”  So they hated him all the more for his dreams and for his words.

Not only did his brothers hear the dream, but they interpreted it all at the same time.  Notice that Joseph said nothing concerning royalty or subjects or the like; yet the brothers ‘got it’.  

9 - Then he dreamed yet another dream and recounted to his brothers, and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”  

10 - When he told [it] to his father and to his brothers, then his father rebuked him, and said to him, “What [is] this dream that you have dreamed?  Will your mother and I and your brothers really come and bow down on the ground to you?”

As if he hadn’t gotten enough abuse from his brothers, now Joseph is rebuked by his father.  The sun, moon, and eleven stars have been said to be compared to the signs of the Zodiac, with Joseph presumably being the twelfth star.  

11 - Now his brothers were envious of him, but his father kept the matter [in mind].  

Jacob serves as a type of Mary who, observed John, pondered all the things the angel was prophesying about Jesus in her heart.  In other words, it was not lost on Jacob that there could be a significance to what his son was saying about he and his family.  

12 - Then his brothers went to tend the flocks of their father in Shechem.  

13 - And Israel said to Joseph, “Are your brothers not tending the flock in Shechem?  Come, and I will send you to them.”  And he said to him, “Here I am.”

The willing servant always says, “Here I am,” to the one to whom he is subservient.  A teenager was once asked by a panel of judges if he was a leader or a follower.  This 16-year-old boy had the presence of mind to respond by saying, “I follow until I’m a leader!“  That’s a great response coming from a teenager.  Joseph shows himself as someone who is qualified to lead one day by responding to his master with the simple words, “Here I am.”  Isaiah responded with those same words when the Lord asked him to do His bidding for Him on earth (Isaiah 6:8).  That’s the only requirement God has for any of us: that we only continue to respond in willful obedience.  When the time is right for us to lead anyone, He will raise us up, and not any man.  

14 - Then he said to him, “Please go [and] see if things are well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring back word to me.”  So he sent him off from the valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.  

15 - And a certain man found him and behold, [he was] wandering in the field.  And the man asked him, saying, “What are you seeking after?”  

16 - And he said, “I am seeking my brothers.  Please tell me; where are they tending [their flocks]?”  

17 - And the man said, “They have set out from this [place], because I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’”  So Joseph went after his brothers, and he found them in Dothan.  

18 - When they saw him from a distance, and before he came closer to them, then they conspired against him, in order to kill him.

Dothan is many miles from where he set out; about a two-day journey.  Why go so far to look in on his brothers?  Because Joseph chose to be obedient to the will of his father.  The Jewish leaders also plotted and planned to kill Jesus inevitably (John 5:18).  Once again, Joseph is not a type of Christ, per se, but the similarities are many and striking.  

19 - And they said to each other, “Behold, here comes this dreamer!    

20 - “So come now, and let us kill him, and we will throw him in some pit.  And we will say, ‘Some wild animal has devoured him.’  Then we will see what will become of his dream!”

They could see him from a great distance more than likely due to the multi-colored tunic he was wearing that had long sleeves.  Long-sleeved garments were worn only by those who had place or position.  To his brothers Joseph received preferential treatment above any of them.  Small reason why they were dripping with sarcasm (“this dreamer”, etc.)

21 - But Reuben heard [it], and he delivered him out of their hand, and said, “We should not try to murder him.”  

22 - And Reuben said to them, “Do not shed blood!  Cast him into this pit that [is] in the wilderness, and do not lay a hand on him,” in order that he may deliver him out of their hands, to bring him back to his father.

Reuben attempted to stand in the gap as an intercessor between Joseph and his brothers.  Otherwise Joseph would have succumbed to the will of  the proverbial angry mob.  Thus we see some similarity between Reuben and Pontius Pilate in Matthew 27:24 when he sought to appease an angry mob of his own.  

23 - And it came to be that when Joseph had come in to his brothers, that they stripped off the tunic of Joseph (the multicolored tunic that [was] on him);

24 - And they took him, and they cast him into a pit.  But the pit [was] empty; no water [was] in it.

It was possibly a good thing the well had no water it in, lest Joseph drowned at the bottom of the well.  The greater significance of this shows how Joseph‘s body was placed where no man had ever been laid (see Luke 23:53).  

25 - And they sat down to eat bread.  Then they lifted their eyes and saw, and behold, a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead with their camels, carrying spices and balsam and myrrh, carrying them [as] they are going down to Egypt.  

Totally unconcerned, uncaring, and apathetic, the brothers sit down to eat a meal without a care for the welfare of their brother.  One of them thinks he has a really good idea…  

26 - And Judah said to his brothers, “What [do we] profit if we kill our brother and cover over his blood?  

27 - “Come, and we will sell him to the Ishmaelites, and our hand will not be upon him because he is our brother.”  And his brothers all listened to him.

The brothers would get Joseph out of their hair, as it were, without being guilty of murder.  They listened to him not just because they thought Judah had a great plan, but because the Lord was interceding on Joseph’s behalf.  He had a greater plan for His chosen one for the greater good of His chosen people, as we will find in the ensuing chapters.  

28 - Then a group of Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled and brought Joseph up out of the pit, and they sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty silver [pieces].  Then they brought Joseph into Egypt.  

Who were the Midianites and who were the Ishmaelities?  It is a fair and honest question that deserves a fair and honest response.  Either Moses got confused, this is a copyist error, or something else is going on. The late Dr. J. Vernon McGee believes this deserves a closer look.  

Who are the Ishmeelites?  They are the descendants of Ishmael, the son of Abraham.  Who are the Midianites?  They are the descendants of Midian, a son of Abraham.  Ishmael was the son of Abraham by Hagar, and Midian was the son of Abraham by Keturah whom he married after the death of Sarah.  They are all brethren - they are actually kin to this group of boys who are selling their brother!  At this time, who was an Israelite?  Well, there were only twelve of them.  How many Ishmeelites do you think there might be by this time?  Ishmael was older than Isaac, so maybe there were one hundred or more.  How many Midianites would there be?  Well, Midian was born after Isaac; so there couldn’t be too many - maybe a dozen or more.  These were little groups, and in that day travel was dangerous.  They were going across the desert to Egypt.  They joined together for protection, and they joined together for a common interest.  They were going on a business trip to Egypt, and, since they were related, they understood each other and joined together.1

What several believe to be a contradiction is actually an accurate historical account of life in general and culture in particular back in that day.  It is when we allow our hearts to be open to what the Lord has to say and realize that it is He that is saying it that our understanding of these historical accounts will lead us into all truth (John 16:13).  

Joseph was sold for twenty pieces of silver just as Jesus was prior to His crucifixion.  Finally Joseph was delivered to the place the Lord would have him for this particular season.  There is also something taking place that many of us refer to as character-building.  We should continue to remember that the building of one’s character is done not in our time, but in the Lord’s time for those who are committed ultimately to His purpose (Romans 8:28).   

29 - When Reuben returned to the pit, then behold, Joseph [was] not in the pit; and he tore his garments.  

30 - And he returned to his brothers, and said, “The boy [is] not [there]; and I, where will I go?”  

31 - So they took the tunic of Joseph and slaughtered a buck of the goats and dipped the tunic in the blood.

Joseph’s brothers seek to cover over their sin against their brother in order to remain in their father’s good graces.  In case this sounds familiar, you’ll recall Jacob deceived his father in a similar way back in chapter twenty-seven.  

32 - And they sent the multicolored tunic, and they brought [it] to their father, and said, “We have found this.  Now notice whether this is the tunic of your son or not.”  

33 - And he noticed it [was his], and said, “[It is] the tunic of my son.  A wild animal has certainly devoured him.  No doubt Joseph [has been] torn to pieces.”

Notice the conclusion they force their father to come to based on the supposed evidence they present and how they present it.  A total misrepresentation of the facts leads their father to precisely the wrong conclusion, exactly as his sons intended.  

34 - Then Jacob tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his loins, and he mourned for his son many days.  

35 - And all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted.  And he said, “For I will go down into Sheol mourning for my son.”  So his father wept for him.

The son of his old age, Jacob wept and mourned continually for his son - the son for which he had waited so long as promised to him by his heavenly Father.  Now his most beloved is gone…or so he believes.  By the way, you’ll notice the text tells us it was Jacob that rent his clothes - not Israel!  You see, this great man of faith had no faith at this point.  Later on in this account, he would share in a similar way how everything was going against him because he thought he had lost Benjamin.  But we see in the great ‘hall of faith’ of Hebrews 11 that he went on to become a man of faith.  Faith in what?  Faith in faith?  No, faith in the God who is worthy of our faith.  Verse twenty-one of that great chapter tells us he acquired such faith on his deathbed.  But you and I do not have to wait that long to learn the lesson.  We can in fact become great people of great faith in the here and now.  

36 - Now the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, a state official of Pharaoh and chief of the bodyguard.  

The last verse of the chapter gives us the setting and sets up the details that will be found as we come to chapter thirty-nine.  Before that, however, a very interesting parenthetical passage that many believe has little if anything to do with the Joseph account.  Let’s move on from here and see whether or not you agree.  


1 - And it came to be at that time, that Judah departed from his brothers, and was inclined to go to an Adullamite; and his name [was] Hirah.  

This introduces us to the person and line of Judah.  Serious Bible students will see some familiar names in this account for reasons which should become obvious as we go along.  The phrase “at that time” ties to the events surrounding the abduction of Joseph, possibly happening as a result of it.  

2 - And Judah saw there a daughter of a particular Canaanite man, and her name [was] Shua.  And he took her and went into her.  

This is what is known as playing with fire.  He had departed from the people he knew best, resulting in a lack of accountability toward those who care most.  Morris is of the belief that Judah did not consult his father prior to the marriage, but totally initiated it on his own.  Also he was with a Canaanite, who we discovered in an earlier chapter were not and are not in this chapter the most acceptable people to God.  Nonetheless Judah marries and has relations with this Canaanite woman.  The offspring delivered by way of this marriage will not be pleasing to the Lord.  In spite of this we will see where God has a unique plan to bring His people out from among these vile Canaanites.  

3 - So she conceived and she bore a son, and she called his name ‘Er’.  

One commentary has remarked that ‘Er’ is short for ‘error’, for this son is the fruit of a very serious error on the part of Judah.  For the record, ‘Er’ means ‘protector’.  

4 - And she conceived again, and bore a son, and she called his name ‘Onan’.  

Meaning ‘vigorous’, Onan was followed by another brother…

5 - And she conceived yet again, and she bore a son, and she called his name ‘Shelah’.  And she was at Chezib when she bore him.  

6 - Then Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name [was] Tamar.

Parental arrangement of marriage partners was the norm in this culture.  This is the debut of one Tamar in the biblical account.  She will go on to be mentioned in the genealogical line of Matthew 1.  That’s right!  The line of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself will come from this family line.  More on that later.  

7 - But Er, firstborn of Judah, was evil in the eyes of Yahweh, so Yahweh killed him.  

There is not a specified type of evil but whatever it was about him that was evil, it was enough for God to decide to put him to death.  Generally speaking it very possibly had to do with his evil nature in general, but again we don’t know for sure.  

8 - Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to the wife of your brother and consummate marriage with her, and raise up offspring for your brother.”  

The book of Genesis shows itself once again as the book of beginnings as we see the first mention of the Levirate marriage.  This is one of thirty-four Old Testament laws we see for the very first time in Genesis.  Levirate marriage simply meant if the first brother had not had children by his wife by the time he had passed on, the younger brother married her and so forth.  

9 - But Onan knew that the offspring would not belong to him; and it came to be, when he went into the wife of his brother, he emitted on the ground, in regard to not giving offspring to his brother.  

It is with passages such as this we must be careful in regard to forced interpretation(s) that could make the text mean something other than what is actually there.  Such proof-texting is expounded upon by Morris:

The term ‘onanism’ has come to be applied to masturbation; but it is clear that God’s judgment was not visited on Onan either for practicing masturbation, or for so-called coitus interruptus, or for involuntary nocturnal emissions (which, physically speaking, involve the same phenomenon), but rather for his motive in thus refusing to consummate the marital act with Tamar.  The Bible is silent with respect to the moral connotations of such practices as the above, or even with respect to birth control measures in general, though it does condemn adultery, homosexuality, incest, and sodomy in no uncertain terms.2

10 - And what he did was evil in the eyes of Yahweh, so He killed him also.  

In this case it is specified as to why God killed Onan.  Regardless of whether we know or not the reason why God acts as He does, it is enough to say, isn’t it, that whatever the Lord does is right.  That goes for whether we know the reason or not.  

11 - Then Judah said to Tamar, his daughter-in-law, “Remain a widow at the house of your father until Shelah my son [is] grown,” because he said, “Lest he die also like his brothers.”  So Tamar went and dwelled in the house of her father.  

Judah became a concerned father.  He was thinking this Tamar was bad news and that anyone she married was going to be killed.  By law she was to marry any other sons he had, which in this case meant Shelah.  Being too young, he tells her to live out her widowhood with her father until Shelah is old enough to marry.  She had already committed her life to worshiping the God of Judah, yet she had to go back to living in a carnal household.  That’s quite a price to pay due to the results of events that were not her fault in the first place.  

12 - Now after a length of time, the daughter of Shuah, wife of Judah, died; then Judah was comforted, and he went up to those shearing his sheep, he and Hirah the Adullamite his friend, at Timnath.  

The phrase “was comforted” means literally, “to observe a time of mourning.”  A more free translation might read, “then, after observing a time of mourning, Judah was comforted.”  

13 - And it was told to Tamar by [someone] saying, “Behold, your father-in-law is going up to Timnath to shear his sheep.”  

14 - So she removed her garments of widowhood from off her, and she covered [herself] with a veil, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, and sat in an entrance at Enaim, which is on the way to Timnath, because she had seen that Shelah had grown, and she had not been given to him for a wife.  

Tamar takes matters into her own hands, for she saw that her father-in-law had transgressed the law and not given his younger son to her to marry, even though he was now of marrying age.  Not to condone what she did by any means, but Judah had promised her that she would produce offspring for his line.  Once she had become impatient waiting for this promise to be fulfilled, she seizes the opportunity for herself.  

15 - When Judah saw her, then he thought her [to be] a prostitute, because she had covered her face.  

A prostitute or harlot is a word for a female temple prostitute.  To get Judah to sleep with her, she made herself out to be something that was actually very attractive spiritually.  Judah related who she looked like to an object of worship in the temple.  Folks, this is not a pretty picture here.  As a direct result of his indulgence in the name of religion, God will have to judge as we will see before long.  

16 - Then he turned to her by the road and said, “Please let me come into you” (because he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law).  And she said, “What will you give to me that you may come in to me?”  

17 - And he said, “I will send away for a kid from the flock.”  And she said, “If you will give a pledge while you send away [for it]…”  

18 - And he said, “What pledge will I give to you?”  And she said, “Your signet ring and your cord, and your staff that [is] in your hand.”  So he gave [them] to her and he went in to her, and she conceived by him.

After a game of ‘Let’s Make A Deal’, as it were, Judah has adulterous relations with his daughter-in-law.  Notice how she goes for the jugular, as it were.  She’s having held for ransom his signet ring, cord, and staff; in other words his identity, wealth, and position, respectively.  That’s what each of these things is indicative of in this culture.  When each of us commits prostitution with the Lord, it costs us everything.  It takes such a long time and many tears, heartaches, etc. for restoration to take place.  He can do it, and He will if we allow Him.  That is why the Lord tells us not to ‘play the harlot’, as it were, and not depart from Him to begin with.  

19 - Then she arose and went away, and took off her veil, and put on the garments of her

20 - When Judah sent the young goat by the hand of his friend the Adullamite, to receive his pledge from the hand of the woman, then he did not find her.

Tamar had gone on her way and moved on with her life.  Judah was living in bondage to the one with whom he had committed adultery and having to deal with a case of mistaken identity.  We see in the next verses what a drain that can be on time, resources, and conscious.  

21 - Then he asked the men of that place, saying, “Where is the temple prostitute?  She was by the road at Enaim.”  And they said, “Certainly there is no temple prostitute [here].”  

22 - So he returned to Judah and said, “I cannot find her.  What’s more, the men of that place said there was no such temple prostitute.”  

23 - Then Judah said, “Let her take [it] for herself, lest we would come under contempt.  See, I sent this kid and you have not found her.”

All of a sudden Judah is worried that someone will accuse him of not holding up his end of the bargain.  But couldn’t that already be said?  After all he had not held up his end of the bargain after he had promised Shelah to Tamar.  

24 - And it came to be after about three months that it was told to Judah, saying, “Tamar, your daughter-in-law, has committed fornication.  What’s more, she is pregnant by fornication.”  And Judah said, “Bring her out [here] to be burned.”  

25 - When she was brought out, she sent [a message] to her father-in-law, saying, “By the man to whom these belong, I am pregnant.”  And she said, “Please investigate whose signet seal, and cord, and staff these [are].”

Tamar told Judah that before he got too carried with himself and his authority to consider carefully what he was about to do.  Judah thought he was about to burn her to death for committing a capital crime.  It is possible he was thinking this would free him of his obligation to have Shelah marry her.  But we have to know, don’t we, that Tamar was knowledgeable enough of Judah’s character to the point that she could call him out on his wrongdoing publicly and he would inevitably do the right thing by her.  

26 - Then Judah acknowledged [them] and said, “She is certainly more righteous than I, because I did not give to her Shelah, my son.”  And he did not know her ever again.  

Talk about being under conviction!  He even verbalized why she did what she did.  There was more than remorse on his part; there was also repentance as well.  Repentance speaks of a change of mind and change in direction.  He never had relations with her again after this predicament.  

27 - And it came to be, at the time she was giving birth, that behold, twins [were] in her womb.  

28 - And it came to be, while she was giving birth, that one extended [his] hand.  And the midwife took [it] and bound upon the hand a crimson thread, while saying, “This one came out first.”  

29 - And it came to be, as he drew back his hand that, behold, his brother came out.  And she said, “How did you break through?  [You have made a] breach for yourself.”  So his name was called ’Pherez’.   

30 - And afterward came out his brother, who had the crimson thread on his hand; and his name was called ‘Zarah’.

This parenthetical passage serves a twofold purpose.  First it shows how decrepit things were in the land during this period.  By contrast Joseph would go on to serve as a light in the darkness.  Thus the Judah incident would serve as a backdrop, if you will, by which Joseph would be used of the Lord to bring great deliverance.  If you read and study on through the next twelve chapters, you will have a much better idea of from what the Lord’s people were delivered.  I like to think of it as further enhancing the context of our passage.  

The incident involving Judah and others like him was much more indicative of moral and ethical conditions among his people at this time.  Judah had no business in association with the Canaanites according to the word of the Lord, and yet he gave in to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.  Once Judah gave in, he was on the slippery slope John says is not of the Father, but is of the world (1 John 2:16).  But God in His mercy had a plan in motion by which His people would be delivered out of such moral depravity.  This brings us to the second of our two purposes.  

Second is the fact that from bad things, the Lord can bring good.  He doesn’t always choose to do so, but He did in this case in order to bring about His redemptive purpose in salvation history.  Tamar appears in the genealogy of Matthew 1 where verse three tells us that Pherez and Zarah came about by Tamar.  From them eventually came David, and from him eventually came our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  The grace and mercy of God is more powerful than any wickedness that can be committed by any of us.  The choice is ours: are we willing to allow His grace to cover over our sin so that His redemptive purpose can be brought about in our lives?  He awaits our decision since He made each of us with a free will and freedom to choose whether or not to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37).  


1 - Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and bought by Potiphar, state official of Pharaoh and chief of the bodyguard, an Egyptian man, from the hand of the Ishmaelites, who had brought him down there.  

Back to our story of Joseph, we are brought up to date on where he is and how he got there.  At the age of seventeen he was sold into slavery as a result of being thrown into a dried-up well by his brothers because they were jealous of him.  He was now a slave among the rich, famous, and powerful.  If that had happened to me when I was seventeen, it would have taught me to keep my mouth shut.  But we need to back away and get more of a God’s-eye view, if you will, of what appears to be a hopeless situation.  It is important to keep in mind all the while that Joseph is not here by accident.  God the Lord has him exactly where he wants and needs him for this time, place, and people.  

2 - And Yahweh was with Joseph, and he became a very successful man, and was in the house of his Egyptian master.  

Notice how the two are inexplicably linked together: God is with him and he is very successful.  The second is a result of the first.  Where does God have you and I?  If He has us where He wants us, we will be very successful.  That is not always according to what the world equates as success, by the way.  

3 - And his master saw that Yahweh [was] with him, and [in] all that he was doing, Yahweh was causing him to be successful by his hand.  

4 - So Joseph found favor in his eyes, and he served him.  Then he entrusted his house to him, and all possessions belonging to him he had given into his hand.

The Lord is always looking for those to whom He can entrust His things.  Joseph proved to be that man, both to Him and to Potiphar.  In the same way, Jesus became entrusted to all that belonged to His Master.  

5 - And it came to be from the time he entrusted his house to him, and over all that belonged to him, that Yahweh blessed the house of the Egyptian on account of Joseph; and the blessing of Yahweh was upon everything that belonged to him, in the house and in the field.  

He was God’s man in God’s timing - just as Jesus was when He walked on earth.  Everything the Father had He entrusted to His only begotten Son (see John 5:16-30).  

6 - And he left all that belonged to him in the hand of Joseph; and he did not concern himself with anything except for the bread he was eating.  Now Joseph was a good-looking man, handsome in appearance.  

Handsome enough to where he attracted the attention of a certain someone there in the house…  

7 - And it came to be after these things that the wife of his master looked covetously upon Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.”  

Very possibly because she wasn’t getting enough attention at home, what with Potiphar always having to deal with something in the administrative realm.  Being Pharaoh’s chief of state wasn’t all up sides, and those in similar positions of responsibility today are not living the easy-going, laidback lifestyle we all want to believe either.  Those people are being pulled and tugged in many different directions for many hours in a week.  That’s because their attention is being demanded by many and the needs are always very great.  Unfortunately the people on the home front always seem to be the ones that suffer as a result.  

8 - But he refused and said to the wife of his master, “Behold, my master does not concern himself with what is with me in the house, and everything that belongs to him he has given into my hand.  

9 - “There is no one greater in this house than I; and he has not withheld anything from me but you, because you [are] his wife.  So how could I do this great evil and sin against Elohim?”

Joseph knew where he needed to be - and where he didn’t need to be!  What’s more, he knew why.  He was a man with a clear mission and it was clear in his mind what he was supposed to be doing and why he was there.  He was supposed to be serving his earthly master Potiphar, and his heavenly Father Elohim.  

10 - And it came to be, as she was speaking with Joseph day after day, he paid no attention to her, to lie beside her [or] to be with her.  

This continued over a period of time.  It was not a one-time occurrence on his part, but it was something woven into the fabric of his character day after day.  He had no inclination to be a part of the life of Mrs. Potiphar other than on a professional level, if you will.  In a similar manner, Jesus had no other aspiration other than to be what the Father wanted Him to be and to stay in close communion with Him all the way to the Cross, having nothing to do with the world system (Isaiah 50:7, Luke 9:51).    

11 - And it came to be about this time that he went into the house to do his work, and not one of the men of the house [were] there in the house.  

12 - So she seized him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.”  But he left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside.

He refused the coup de grace, got out of the house, and she faked a rape scene.  

13 - And it came to be when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and fled outside,

14 - That she called to the men of her house and spoke to them, saying, “See, he has brought in to us a Hebrew man to make fun of us.  He had come in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice.  

15 - “And it came to be, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried out, then he left his garment by me and fled. and went outside.”

Either she had some credibility with the servants on her husband’s payroll or they were afraid to cross her.  No matter, her testimony to them stood as record, at least for the time being.  

16 - So she set his garment by her until his master came into the house.  

She no doubt thought this through as to how to make her account of the events with Joseph seem credible to her husband.  She knew just what to do (or so she thought) to make it seem so real to him.  Similarly, the Pharisees plotted and planned and schemed as to how they could sound credible before Pilate in order to discredit the Son of God.  The problem with both Potiphar and the Pharisees is that they failed to consider the facts involved.  As U.S. President Ronald Reagan was known for saying, “Trust, but verify.”  

17 - Then she spoke to him with these words, saying, “The Hebrew slave that you have brought to us came in to me, to make fun of me.  

18 - “And it came to be that as I raised my voice and I cried out that he left his garment by me and fled outside.”  

19 - And it came to be, when his master was hearing the words of his wife that she had spoken to him, saying, “Your slave did these things to me,” his anger burned.

This is a genuine anger on the part of Potiphar.  Could this be interpreted that he believed his wife’s story?  Pastor Jon Courson has a likely scenario for us to consider.  

Scripture says Potiphar’s wrath was kindled, but it doesn’t say against whom. In Egypt, attempted rape was a capital offense—so much the more if the crime was committed by a slave against the wife of a government official. So here’s the question: If Potiphar’s wrath was kindled against Joseph, why didn’t he demand immediate execution? I suggest it’s because, knowing his wife’s history and personality, Potiphar’s wrath was kindled not against Joseph but against his wife for concocting a story that forced his hand to send the man who had so blessed his house to prison.3

In any event, if you’ve ever been accused of wrongdoing on account of false testimony you know exactly how it feels to be on the receiving end of such nonsense.  

20 - Then the master of Joseph took him and put him in prison, a place where prisoners of the king [were] bound; and he was there in the prison.  

There was Joseph, incarcerated along with the rest of the common criminals.  It was not exactly a life of leisure Joseph lead in prison either.  In fact the Psalmist said his “feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron” (Psalm 105:18).  That didn’t last long, though.

21 - But Yahweh was with Joseph, and He reached out to him [with] loving-kindness, and He gave him favor in the eyes of the ruler of the prison.  

That was exactly what Joseph needed when he needed it.  The Lord’s comforting, encouraging touch is what He is reaching out with to each of us - if only we are willing to receive it!  

22 - And the ruler of the prison gave into the hand of Joseph all the prisoners that [were] in the prison.  And all that they were doing there, he was overseeing [it].  

A natural leader in many respects, Joseph is used of the Lord to show himself as such to all around him.  It is just a matter of Joseph having the willingness to realize that God is in control of his circumstances and to allow the Lord to guide him in this unfortunate instance.  He obviously did guide him.  Joseph got a promotion and was the lead supervisor over all the prisoners.  

23 - The ruler of the prison was not concerning himself with anything that was in his hand, because Yahweh [was] with him.  [In] that which he was doing, Yahweh was prospering [him].  

Such would be the case with Jesus when He would come to the earth some two thousand years later.  God prospers each of us whenever He is with us.  The question: are we with Him?  



1J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume I - Genesis-Deuteronomy
        (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1981), 151.

2Henry Morris, The Genesis Record (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1976), 550.

3Jon Courson, Jon Courson's Application Commentary: Genesis-Job (Nashville: Thomas Nelson
        Publishers, 2005), 177.