Genesis 39: Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife

What caused Potiphar to notice God’s favor upon Joseph?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 39:1–3 The Ishmaelite traders took Joseph to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officers, captain of the guard.
The Lord was with Joseph, and he prospered in the house of his Egyptian master.
Potiphar noticed the Lord’s favor and how successful Joseph was in everything he did.
King James
Genesis 39:1–3 And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand.

How could an Egyptian official put a foreigner in charge of everything? Wouldn’t that be highly unusual? Why?

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Genesis 39:4 Pleased with Joseph’s work, Potiphar put him in charge of his household and all that he owned.
King James
Genesis 39:4 And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.

Was it the Lord or Joseph’s management skills that brought prosperity to Potiphar’s household?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 39:4–5 Pleased with Joseph’s work, Potiphar put him in charge of his household and all that he owned.
After that, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s household for Joseph’s sake, both in the house and in the fields.
King James
Genesis 39:4–5 And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.

What kind of relationship developed between Joseph and Potiphar?

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Genesis 39:6 Everything was left in Joseph’s hands, so Potiphar’s only concern was what he wanted to eat.
Joseph was a handsome, physically fit young man.
King James
Genesis 39:6 And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.

What caused Potiphar’s wife to notice how attractive Joseph was?

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Genesis 39:7 Before long, Potiphar’s wife noticed how attractive Joseph was. “Come sleep with me,” she said.
King James
Genesis 39:7 And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.

What consequence did Potiphar’s wife anticipate if she were to sleep with Joseph?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 39:7 Before long, Potiphar’s wife noticed how attractive Joseph was. “Come sleep with me,” she said.
King James
Genesis 39:7 And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.

What reasons did Joseph have for resisting Potiphar’s wife’s enticements?

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Genesis 39:8–10 “No,” Joseph said. “My master has put me in charge of everything and trusts me in all I do. No one in this household is above me, and nothing is kept from me except you, for you are his wife. How could I commit such wickedness and sin against God?”
Day after day, she kept enticing him, but he rejected her advances and would not sleep with her. He tried to avoid being near her.
King James
Genesis 39:8–10 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; 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? 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.

How strong was Joseph’s conviction that he not “sin against God”? Why?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 39:9–10 No one in this household is above me, and nothing is kept from me except you, for you are his wife. How could I commit such wickedness and sin against God?”
Day after day, she kept enticing him, but he rejected her advances and would not sleep with her. He tried to avoid being near her.
King James
Genesis 39:9–10 “No one in this household is above me, and nothing is kept from me except you, for you are his wife. How could I commit such wickedness and sin against God?” Day after day, she kept enticing him, but he rejected her advances and would not sleep with her. He tried to avoid being near her.

What might have led to Joseph being “about his business” when no one but Potiphar’s wife was in the house?

Author’s Thoughts
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Genesis 39:11 One day, Joseph was about his business, and no one else was in the house except for Potiphar’s wife.
King James
Genesis 39:11 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.

When Joseph fled, why did he leave his coat behind?

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Genesis 39:11–12 One day, Joseph was about his business, and no one else was in the house except for Potiphar’s wife. She caught him by his coat. “Come lie with me,” she said.
Joseph fled from the house, leaving his coat in her hand.
King James
Genesis 39:11–12 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. 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.

Assuming that Potiphar’s wife had some care for Joseph, why would she falsely accuse him? What did she have to gain?

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Genesis 39:13–15 With his coat in her hand and again rejected, she screamed. As her servants came, she said, “Look! This Hebrew has come to insult us. He was going to rape me, but I cried for help. When he heard me screaming, he fled from the house but left his coat.”
King James
Genesis 39:13–15 And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth, 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: 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.

Why was Potiphar furious? Do you think he knew his wife well enough to suspect she was lying? Why?

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Genesis 39:16–19 She kept the coat with her to show her husband. When he came home, she said, “The Hebrew you bought to serve us tried to rape me. But when I screamed, he left his coat and ran.”
After hearing her description of what happened, Potiphar was furious.
King James
Genesis 39:16–19 And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home. 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: And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out. 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.

Why did Potiphar send Joseph to a special prison instead of one for criminals?

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Genesis 39:20–21 He sent Joseph to the same prison where Pharaoh’s prisoners were held.
Even in prison, the Lord was kind to Joseph and gave him favor with the warden.
King James
Genesis 39:20–21 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. But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.

What happened to give Joseph so much favor in prison?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 39:20–21 He sent Joseph to the same prison where Pharaoh’s prisoners were held.
Even in prison, the Lord was kind to Joseph and gave him favor with the warden.
King James
Genesis 39:20–21 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. But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.

What liberties did Joseph have in his oversight of the prison?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 39:22–23 Joseph was given oversight of the prison and was responsible for all that happened there. The warden had no concerns for anything placed under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph, making him successful in everything.
King James
Genesis 39:22–23 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. 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.