Sunday, March 26, 2017

Genesis 39:13-23 comments: Joseph's character shines through his circumstances

13 ¶  And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth, 14  That she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice: 15  And it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and got him out. 16  And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home. 17  And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me: 18  And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out.

    19 ¶  And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled. 20  And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. 21  But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22  And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. 23  The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.

Potiphar’s wife tells the men of the house, servants most likely, that Joseph tried to rape her. She made the accusation worse by implying that Joseph, a Hebrew, did it because he mocked the Egyptians, had contempt for them. She turns the assault she committed into an act of racism on Joseph’s part. Now, what was bad, is even worse, and represents something of the ethnic tensions found in Egyptian society of that time. You might have a foreign ruler, the Hyksos, whose people were hated by the Egyptians, and an angry and seething class of Egyptian officials, as I explained earlier. Joseph, being a Hebrew, is of the same general culture as the Hyksos rulers, but a slave. If this isn’t the time of the Shepherd-kings it doesn’t matter because, in any event, Joseph is perceived as attacking the Egyptians by attacking an Egyptian’s wife in this accusation.

Of course, Potiphar is furious. His wicked wife controls the narrative. The fact that he did not kill Joseph or have him killed can lead us to two possibilities. One, either Potiphar spared Joseph because of his relationship with him as a faithful steward or he was held back from killing a slave by law or custom. We know Joseph was a slave rather than our modern-day definition of a servant because he was sold. He could have been beaten under some systems and killed under others but we aren’t sure what Egyptian law at this time allowed or what Potiphar was thinking other than he was angry.

But, this is how God is going to put Joseph in front of Pharaoh. As man acts in his own ways but God will turn them to His own purposes, man’s intentions notwithstanding. He is placed in a special prison or part of the prison where the Pharaoh’s prisoners were bound, giving evidence of Potiphar’s high rank. God shows Joseph mercy again and lets his character shine through, though, and God permits him to rise to the top and as what we today call a Trustee in prison parlance, Joseph was in charge of everything once again, and totally trusted. His character and integrity fall right into God’s plan for Joseph’s people and God will use him mightily.

God will use you even if you are wicked and carnal but the outcome for you personally will be much different. God has permitted even the most wicked to rise to the top but always keep in mind that it is His purpose that is the dominating factor in such things, in His ministry of reconciling man to Himself.

Daniel 4:17  This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.

Luke 4:5  And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6  And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.

Pray that you get a Joseph at the top of your country or company rather than what we usually get.

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