Life in Egypt was usually very hot. And so was she. If Joseph had looked like all the rest, she may have left
him alone. But no, God made him muscular and sexy, and traditionally Hebrew looking, and that was a
unique package wrapped just for her. So she thought. Her life was out of control and her husband’s trusted
assistant Joseph was a prime candidate for her to test her predatory skills on. She had married Potiphar, an
officer of decent rank in Pharaoh’s regime, but Joseph was the one she found irresistible.
The Hebrew word for officer can just as well be translated as eunuch as anything else. That said, many
contemporary scholars now agree that eunuch didn’t necessarily indicate castration, and in this case
Potiphar may have been a eunuch in the “dedicated office of the court” sense. Most probably he was a
eunuch in the way Jesus was referring to when He said that “some eunuchs are born that way from the
womb”, meaning that some people are born gay. Either way, it would appear that Potiphar was not sexually
active with his wife.
Potiphar had given Joseph the top position in his household, with authority to do as he saw fit. Joseph was
an honest man. Potiphar’s wife would have said “to a fault”. With Potiphar and his wife enduring a marriage
for convenience purposes, she was always on the prowl for an extra-marital sexual encounter. True to form
among ancient women in that part of the world who were known for their permissive ways, she kept after
Joseph like a lioness stalking her prey, constantly making overt passes at him. The fact that Joseph didn’t
give in to her advances made her all the more determined.
The final and most uncomfortable encounter brought an end to his harassment when she relieved him of his
robe and was watching him running out of the house either in his skivvies or nothing at all; his robe clutched
in her hand. This landed him in prison because Potiphar had no choice but to side with his wife. From that
point it took the imprisoned Joseph a long time to prove himself and realize a decisive victory for himself and
his extended family.
Poor Joseph. Tough times for someone trying to do the right thing. We can all relate. The age old question:
“Why do bad things happen to good people?” Even more puzzling is the fact that we don’t always see a pot
of gold the end of the trail. So the choice is ours. As long as we’re here on this earth, we’re subject to
hardships, and there’s always the possibility that they may follow us our entire lives. Could happen. Do we
do the right thing and cling to our faith like we pledged we would, or do we turn sour and walk the other way?
It comes down to how committed we are to Jesus.
Genesis chapter 39