7 ¶ And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. 8 But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; 9 There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? 10 And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her. 11 And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. 12 And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.
Potiphar’s wife wants to have sex with Joseph. We use different euphemisms in our language for sin such as this. We say she wants to have an affair with him, or she wants to seduce him or some other such drivel to make wickedness seem sophisticated. As he is in an inferior position socially and powerless this is all about lust, a type of attempted rape. It used to be more common than it is now in our culture until sexual harassment laws, although much abused, worked to prevent even the taint of it. But, in our history, for instance, under the racial slavery that existed before the Civil War, no slave had any power to resist the advances of their master or mistress except to flee as Joseph will. It is a barbarous and uncivilized condition that exists still in some countries today, usually afflicting women, where they have no choice but to submit to the humiliation and physical danger or flee to an uncertain fate.
Joseph tells Potiphar’s wife that everything Potiphar has except for her has been put into his hands to care for and he is not about to violate the trust he has been given. The woman continually pressed upon Joseph her desire to do wrong with him daily and we might question why he didn’t tell Potiphar this but then it is likely she would have called him a liar and his situation would have been no better. Finally, she could stand his resistance no further and at a time when he went into the house to work and there were no witnesses, she grabbed his clothing and demanded that he have sex with her. Joseph ran, leaving that clothing in her hand she held it so forcefully in her lust.
His business is not the idiom in English that some use when referencing going to the bathroom. Here it is defined in the Bible as the work that one does.
Nehemiah 13:30 Thus cleansed I them from all strangers, and appointed the wards of the priests and the Levites, every one in his business;
Proverbs 22:29 Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.
The word wotteth is a form of wot, to know.
Genesis 21:26 And Abimelech said, I wot not who hath done this thing: neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but to day.
Exodus 32:23 For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
Joseph displays a high level of character in holding the trust he has been given in honor. Most men, if the lady of the house wasn’t hideous looking, would have succumbed to her desires and used her favors as a means to gain advantage. Joseph shows himself worthy of the trust he has been given.