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Genesis 39: Hell Hath No Fury Like Mrs. Potiphar

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Genesis 39: Hell Hath No Fury Like Mrs. Potiphar

Journey through the Book of Genesis with me.  The plan is simple. Read ONE chapter a day. Blog or journal 5* things you learned that you previously didn't know and ask 5* questions about the chapter that you'll ponder all week. Let's go!

** You'll probably learn way more than 5 things and have more than 5 questions about each chapter. That's totally fine. The more the merrier! 

GENESIS 39:1-23


QUESTION 1: At what point in his journey (being thrown in a pit, sold into slavery, journey from Canaan to Egypt, sold into Potiphar’s house, working as a slave) did Joseph “embrace” faith in God so that “The Lord was with him” in everything he did?

QUESTION 2: When Joseph first began to prosper in Potiphar’s house, did the thought ever occur to him to reach and make contact again with his family?

QUESTION 3: (Verse 11) Should Joseph have been more discerning when he went into the house to do his work, knowing that “none of the men of the house was there in the house”, and knowing that Mrs. Potiphar was a persistent seductress?

QUESTION 4: Joseph should have been an emotionally wounded young man. Being sold into slavery by family members who are supposed to love you and protect you can result in a life of bitterness, anger, and self-pity. Yet, Joseph not only turns out to have none of those character flaws, but to the contrary, he is a man so grounded in his faith that he is able to pull himself away from a temptation that would have “floored” other men in his position with his life experience.  What changed him, when did it happen, and how?

QUESTION 5: Did Potiphar truly believe his wife’s accusation?

QUESTION 6: How would an “office of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard” react if one of his trusted soldiers were assaulted without cause? What if the victim were his wife? Does that suggest anything about what was going through Potiphar’s mind as he threw Joseph in “the prison… where the king’s prisoners were confined” (v.20)?


INSIGHT 1: In light of how many times this chapter states that “God was with” Joseph, it becomes clear that Joseph’s purchase by Potiphar from the Ishmaeilites was an act of divine providence. As in, God led Joseph to Potiphar’s house.

INSIGHT 2: Potiphar didn’t just observe Joseph’s integrity and strong work ethic, but he “saw the THE LORDwas with him and that THE LORDcaused all that he did to succeed in his hands.” It was clear to Potiphar that Joseph’s success was closely linked, if not solely, attributed to God’s blessing.

INSIGHT 3: God’s hand was so favorably rested on Joseph that every authority figure he ever interacts with looks on him with favor – Jacob, his father; Potiphar; the keeper of the prison; and then later in the account, even Pharaoh himself! 

INSIGHT 4: Joseph has good family genes. The description of his physical form in verse 6, “Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance” is almost identical to the description of his mother, Rachel in Genesis 29:17, “Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance.”

INSIGHT 5: (Verse 9) All sin, even when carried out directly against someone else, is against God. Joseph recognized that his privileged position, even after being sold into slavery, was because of God’s blessing. Hence, to sleep with his master’s wife would be to not only sin against his Potiphar, but especially against the God who led him to his privileged position Potiphar’s house.

INSIGHT 6: Mrs. Potiphar is a deeply unhealthy woman. On her list of vices include: attempted adultery, slander, racism (“a Hebrew to laugh at us”), and manipulation. Aside of his integrity and desure to honor God, Joseph may have already been aware of these traits in her, which was further reason to stay away from her. 

INSIGHT 7: Potiphar had observed Joseph’s integrity and godliness, so much so that he relied on Joseph and entrusted him with his all his wealth. Therefore, one can deduce that Potiphar probably didn’t truly buy his wife’s accusation. Furthermore, Joseph was a slave with no legal rights. To be accused of assaulting the wife of the “captain of the guard” (v.1) was a serious crime that should have resulted in Joseph’s immediate death (or at the least, torture). Yet, Potiphar gives him a seemingly light sentence by putting him in “the prison… where the king’s prisoners were confined” (v.20), implying that there were worse-off prisons where he could have been placed. If Potiphar were convinced that his slave sexually assaulted his wife, it would seem that Joseph’s sentence would have been harsher. 

INSIGHT 8: Though in prison, verse 22—23 reads almost identical to how Joseph started out in Potiphar’s house in verse 2-6. His circumstances have changed, but His God has not. God has remained consistent in His favor and blessing in Joseph’s life, in spite of man’s efforts to stifle him.