Genesis 39

1 Joseph was brought down to Egypt. Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh’s, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the hand of the Ishmaelites that had brought him down there. 2 The LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man. He was in the house of his master the Egyptian. 3 His master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did prosper in his hand. 4 Joseph found favor in his sight. He ministered to him, and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. 5 From the time that he made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake. the LORD’s blessing was on all that he had, in the house and in the field. 6 He left all that he had in Joseph’s hand. He didn’t concern himself with anything, except for the food which he ate. Joseph was well-built and handsome. 7 After these things, his master’s wife set her eyes on Joseph; and she said, “Lie with me.” 8 But he refused, and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, my master doesn’t know what is with me in the house, and he has put all that he has into my hand. 9 No one is greater in this house than I am, and he has not kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” 10 As she spoke to Joseph day by day, he didn’t listen to her, to lie by her, or to be with her. 11 About this time, he went into the house to do his work, and there were none of the men of the house inside. 12 She caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me!” He left his garment in her hand, and ran outside. 13 When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and had run outside, 14 she called to the men of her house, and spoke to them, saying, “Behold, he has brought in a Hebrew to us to mock us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice. 15 When he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, he left his garment by me, and ran outside.” 16 She laid up his garment by her, until his master came home. 17 She spoke to him according to these words, saying, “The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought to us, came in to me to mock me, 18 and as I lifted up my voice and cried, he left his garment by me, and ran outside.” 19 When his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke to him, saying, “This is what your servant did to me,” his wrath was kindled. 20 Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were bound, and he was there in custody. 21 But the LORD was with Joseph, and showed kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 The keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever they did there, he was responsible for it. 23 The keeper of the prison didn’t look after anything that was under his hand, because the LORD was with him; and that which he did, the LORD made it prosper.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–6

Our enemies may strip us of outward distinctions and ornaments; but wisdom and grace cannot be taken from us. They may separate us from friends, relatives, and country; but they cannot take from us the presence of the Lord. They may shut us from outward blessings, rob us of liberty, and confine us in dungeons; but they cannot shut us out from communion with God, from the throne of grace, or take from us the blessings of salvation. Joseph was blessed, wonderfully blessed, even in the house where he was a slave. God’s presence with us, makes all we do prosperous. Good men are the blessings of the place where they live; good servants may be so, though mean and lightly esteemed. The prosperity of the wicked is, one way or other, for the sake of the godly. Here was a wicked family blessed for the sake of one good servant in it.

Verses 7–12

Beauty either in men or women, often proves a snare both to themselves and others. This forbids pride in it, and requires constant watchfulness against the temptation that attends it. We have great need to make a covenant with our eyes, lest the eyes infect the heart. When lust has got power, decency, and reputation, and conscience, are all sacrificed. Potiphar’s wife showed that her heart was fully set to do evil. Satan, when he found he could not overcome Joseph with the troubles and the frowns of the world, for in them he still held fast his principle, assaulted him with pleasures, which have ruined more than the former. But Joseph, by the grace of God, was enabled to resist and overcome this temptation; and his escape was as great an instance of the Divine power, as the deliverance of the three children out of the fiery furnace. This sin was one which might most easily beset him. The tempter was his mistress, one whose favour would help him forward; and it was at his utmost peril if he slighted her, and made her his enemy. The time and place favoured the temptation. To all this was added frequent, constant urging. The almighty grace of God enabled Joseph to overcome this assault of the enemy. He urges what he owed both to God and his master. We are bound in honour, as well as justice and gratitude, not in any thing to wrong those who place trust in us, how secretly soever it may be done. He would not offend his God. Three arguments Joseph urges upon himself. 1. He considers who he was that was tempted. One in covenant with God, who professed religion and relation to him. 2. What the sin was to which he was tempted. Others might look upon it as a small matter; but Joseph did not so think of it. Call sin by its own name, and never lessen it. Let sins of this nature always be looked upon as great wickedness, as exceedingly sinful. 3. Against whom he was tempted to sin, against God. Sin is against God, against his nature and his dominion, against his love and his design. Those that love God, for this reason hate sin. The grace of God enabled Joseph to overcome the temptation, by avoiding the temper. He would not stay to parley with the temptation, but fled from it, as escaping for his life. If we mean not to do iniquity, let us flee as a bird from the snare, and as a roe from the hunter.

Verses 13–18

Joseph’s mistress, having tried in vain to make him a guilty man, endeavoured to be avenged on him. Those that have broken the bonds of modesty, will never be held by the bonds of truth. It is no new thing for the best of men to be falsely accused of the worst of crimes, by those who themselves are the worst of criminals. It is well there is a day of discovery coming, in which all shall appear in their true characters.

Verses 19–23

Joseph’s master believed the accusation. Potiphar, it is likely, chose that prison, because it was the worst; but God designed to open the way to Joseph’s honour. Joseph was owned and righted by his God. He was away from all his friends and relations; he had none to help or comfort him; but the Lord was with Joseph, and showed him mercy. Those that have a good conscience in a prison, have a good God there. God gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison; he trusted him to manage the affairs of the prison. A good man will do good wherever he is, and will be a blessing even in bonds and banishment. Let us not forget, through Joseph, to look unto Jesus, who suffered being tempted, yet without sin; who was slandered, and persecuted, and imprisoned, but without cause; who by the cross ascended to the throne. May we be enabled to follow the same path in submitting and in suffering, to the same place of glory.

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