The Kraig Josiah Rice
Devotional Bible Commentary on Genesis

Genesis chapter 39

Kraig J. Rice
www.7-star-admiral.com

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
(Clicking on these links will move you down this web page)
Genesis chapter thirty nine
 Chapter 39 Joseph's destiny took him to Egypt
 Gen. 39:1 - 6 You and I have to learn to endure
 The Hyksos invasion of ancient Egypt
 Who was Potiphar?
 Has God ever given you favor?
 Gen. 39:6 - 18 Has a trial of yours ever deepened?
 Satan wants to discredit you and I
 Let us not hurt the Lord
 Slavery is an evil wrong
 The Septuagint translation of the bible
 Gen. 39:19 - 23 Joseph was falsely accused
 Did Joseph get a fair court trial?
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A devotional commentary is different from an exegetical commentary. In a devotional commentary like this one I can give the application of a verse rather than just the interpretation of a verse.






Genesis Chapter 39
Joseph's destiny took him to Egypt

"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. 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. 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"
(Genesis 39:1-6a).

Joseph had to endure being a slave (sometimes you and I have to learn how to endure for a time):
Joseph was free born- he was not born a slave. He had to learn to endure to put up with snobbish people who demeaned him continually in Potiphar's household. He had to learn that he had no rights. He had to learn how to endure privation and hardship with no pay or reward. He had to learn that he had no social standing at all in that society. It was a horrible trial for him. He had to live with no love or communication from his father, who he loved, and he was continually tormented with thoughts of his betrayal by his hateful brothers. And through this ordeal he kept smiling, kept a good attitude, and maintained a strong relationship with God.

In a similar way, you may find yourself in a situation that you hate. Maybe you hate everything about it and there seems to be no escape. When that happens, you have to do what Joseph did- you have to learn how to endure. It may not be pleasant, it may not be what you want, but it is your lot in life- at least for now. I remember when I was in the U.S. Navy on a World War 2 aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War. When I came aboard the ship I had one year and five months left to serve on my two year contract. In those days, they did not have a U.S. volunteer military like they have today where you can get out of it simply by resigning. Once you were in, you were stuck there and had to learn how to endure. I had to do work I did not want to do, I got paid very little money, sometimes I had to work 12 hour shifts, and I had to put up with some people who were cruel and hateful. When I got to the point in time where I had one year left to serve, I started a short timers calendar. Every day that I served I would mark off until there were no days left. Then I was discharged with my honorable discharge, walked off the ship in port, gave a rebel yell, and went back home. I had endured my ordeal. Maybe something like that has happened to you. If so, you know what I am talking about, and you know how Joseph must have felt.


The Hyksos invasion of ancient Egypt:
What was the genealogy of the ruling Egyptians at the time of Joseph? They were probably Hyksos. Who were the Hyksos? They were a group of folks who were descended from Ham and Shem. They were a mixed multitude, quite a large group, who invaded northern Egypt in the 18th century B.C. They were very warlike and conquered the Egyptians with new weapons such as the horse and chariot, the compound bow for arrows, and enhanced battle axes. They also had new fortification strategies. The Hebrew Christian historian, Josephus, in the first century A.D., translated the word "Hyksos" as "king-shepherds". Josephus identified the Hyksos with the Hebrews of the Old Testament but it is not clear how. Possibly, the Hebrews came into Egypt during the Hyksos period or possibly some Hyksos were the ancestors of some of the Hebrews. Were the Egyptian rulers, at that time of Joseph, the Hyksos? The general time line of history confirms that they probably were. Why? Because the general time line for Joseph in Egypt was about 1728 B.C. and the Hyksos were already there about 1800 B.C.


Who was Potiphar?
Apparently, Potiphar was a wealthy Egyptian and government official who was captain of the guard. The word "guard" in Hebrew is the word mitsriy meaning Egyptian. In other words, he was a manager of the Egyptians- possibly holding a high government position of some kind.

Why does God mention Potiphar by name in His word? I don't know. It is possible that Potiphar (through his Hyksos genealogy) was a descendant of Shem, one of Noah's sons. So, him and Joseph might have had a common ancestor- a godly common ancestor. Potiphar might have been a righteous individual- one who loved and served the Lord and that is why God wanted him remembered. If that is so, then we can conclude that godly folks can sometimes be deceived- like Potiphar was by his wife. Sometimes, godly folks can make mistakes like misjudging and punishing others who may appear to be guilty to us of breaking criminal laws but who actually are innocent- like Joseph was. But once we make a mistake like that we have to do everything in our power to correct it and make it right for the person who we have wronged. God may forgive one who makes an unintentional mistake but He will judge the person who does not make it right with adequate restitution
(Genesis 20:3-18, 26:8-14). I am sure Potiphar eventually learned the truth about Joseph but did nothing about making restitution to him by setting him free from prison, clearing his name and reputation, and paying him for his pain and suffering. That is why I think it was a good possibility that God judged Potiphar and his wife.

The name Potiphar had several meanings. The Egyptian interpretation appeared to mean "dedicated to Ra, dedicated to the sun-god, devoted to the sun, or belonging to the sun".


Joseph was given favor (has God ever given you favor?):
What in the world is favor? The Hebrew word used here for favor or grace is chen meaning favor, grace, or acceptance. It is a gift of God where God promotes a warm and friendly regard between two individuals that includes approval, gracious kindness, and special privilege. It is the opposite of disfavor. It is a good thing that Joseph had favor with Potiphar because Potiphar could have made a eunuch out of him. Instead, Potiphar trusted him and was pleased with Joseph
(Matthew 25:21). What did Joseph have to offer Potiphar? Joseph was honest, intelligent, educated, used wisdom, showed love to God and his fellow man, had a good attitude, treated everyone fairly, treated everyone with kindness, was a hard worker, and made his boss look good (successful) to others. Do you and I appear the same way to our superiors? God was blessing Potiphar for Joseph's sake and Potiphar knew it. Do you think those blessings stopped after Potiphar had Joseph thrown into prison? My guess is that Potiphar's life and family might have fallen apart after that time because we never hear about them again.

There are more examples in God's Word in regards to God's favor between individuals. For example, Jacob was given favor with Laban
(Genesis 30:27), David was given favor with Jonathan, the son of King Saul
(1 Samuel 18:3), and Daniel was given favor with King Darius
(Daniel 6:1-3). And there are other examples in God's word not mentioned here.

How is that relevant? God has given me favor before with certain individuals throughout the course of my life. Has He ever given you favor with anyone?


Joseph went deeper into the trial of his faith (has a trial of yours ever deepened):
"And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured. And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, lie with me. 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. 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. 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. 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"
(Genesis 39:6b-18).

Have you ever prayed to get closer to God? Have you ever prayed for patience? A lot of Christians never pray those prayers because they know the pathway to those goals is through suffering and a lot of Christians do not want to suffer pain to obtain those spiritual goals. Do I have scripture on that? Yes. "...and not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience"
(Romans 5:3).

A Job's trial can be likened to a river that you go to swim in. At first you usually get in and start wading in shallow water. This could be considered to be the first stage. As you keep going, the bottom gradually slopes downward until you get into deeper water- maybe deep enough to be over your head. This could be considered to be the second stage. Joseph was in a horrible trial of his faith and integrity. It was an extended duration or Job's trial that lasted for years. In slavery, Joseph was in the first stage of his trial- much like Job was at the first stage of his trial
(Job chapter one). Job lost his possessions and his children. Then Job hit stage two of his trial- he went deeper into his trial and his suffering increased. His health was attacked
(Job chapter two). Stage two with Joseph began when he was falsely accused of attempted rape, condemned, and thrown into prison for years. Let's take a look at this stage of Joseph's trial of faith.

According to Moses, Joseph was "well favoured" meaning, in today's feminine vernacular- "he was a handsome hunk". Potiphar's wife desired him and tried to get him in bed with her but her efforts failed and she got angry and vengeful against him. There is an old saying: "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!" No wonder he didn't like her! The name "Hebrew" means "one from beyond" and may have been used by Potipher's wife in a mocking way. She accused Joseph of mocking her but it appeared that she was the one doing the mocking. In a similar way today, a person may falsely accuse another person of something that they are guilty of doing themselves. Why? Because it gets everyone's attention on someone else and off of themself (the real guilty culprit).

There is an interesting meaning to Potiphar's name. As already mentioned, the name "Potiphar" had several meanings. Another meaning of his name was a "bull of Africa or a fat bull". Was it possible that Potiphar was fat? If so, could it be that Potiphar's wife did not like having sexual relations with her fat husband? If so, this could help explain why she turned her attention to Joseph. Also, it appears that in the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, was labeled as a "eunuch", even though he had a wife. Assuming that was so, possibly, she wanted to have children by another man because her husband could not give her any.


Satan wants to discredit you and I (the Tempter wanted to bring Joseph down):
Many folks think that Joseph spent about eleven years in Potiphar's household. Did Joseph verbally witness for God to others in Potiphar's household? Did he verbally witness for God to others when away from Potiphar's household? I think yes because he wanted to fulfill his life's calling and destiny- God allowed his existence on this earth so he could serve and glorify God. That is the same for you and I. As believers, we have been given the Great Commission by Christ to share His word with others
(Mark 16:15) and help them believe in God and receive His word. So, my guess is that Joseph witnessed to Potiphar's wife concerning God. They had long and deep conversations about God and that is why it was easy for Joseph to explain to her: "how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?". Joseph
1) had a testimony of high moral standard
2) had a healthy view of marriage
3) did not want to hurt Potiphar or violate a sacred trust
4) had integrity.

But someone else was watching this besides Potiphar's wife. Do you know who Joseph's invisible Tempter was? Yes. It was the devil- the devil came in Potiphar's household and was trying to influence Joseph to sin against God. The devil influenced Potiphar's wife to tempt Joseph. Regardless of the reason(s) Potiphar's wife did what she did, Joseph did the right thing. How did Joseph handle this temptation? It is the same way that you and I should handle temptation. The Apostle Paul stated: "...flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body"
(1 Corinthians 6:18).
Then the devil influenced Potiphar's wife to lie about him. Do you know that the devil was a liar then and is a liar now? This is what Jesus said to some of the unsaved religious leaders of His day: "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it"
(John 8:44).
Why did the devil want Joseph dead or in jail? The devil wanted to discredit Joseph's witness for God. That was one of Satan's favorite tactics that he used back then and it is one of his favorite tactics that he uses today against believers. Has he ever used that tactic against you? The bible tells us that we are not ignorant of his methods (tactics) nor of his evil purposes (devices)
(2 Corinthians 2:11).

And what if the Tempter does bring us down- what do we do then? It is important not to stay down and let the enemy tred on you repeatedly. What did you do when you were a child learning how to walk- when you fell down and skinned your knees? You got back up, cleaned yourself up, and tried again. And you kept on trying until you got it right. The Apostle John expressed it this way: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness"
(1 John 1:9).

  • not yet- see Rev. chap 9 more about the devil

    Slavery was an evil wrong then (and human slavery is an international evil today):
    Human slavery was an international evil in the days of Joseph and is an international evil today. It was not God's will then, nor is it God's will today- it was Satan's will then and it is Satan's will today. This is one of Satan's strongholds today. Let's do all we can to tear down this stronghold of Satan.

    Do I have scripture for that? Yes. The most powerful man in the world, at the time of Moses, had this to say about releasing his slaves: "Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you. Now therefore forgive, I pray thee, my sin..."
    (Exodus 10:16-17).


    What was the Septuagint translation of the bible (Old Testament)?
    Since I have mentioned the Septuagint translation, I will briefly explain what it was. It was a translation of the Old Testament by 70 (LXX) Hebrew scholars. They translated the two languages of the Old Testament, Hebrew and Aramaic, into the Greek language. When? The Pentateuch (also called the Torah or the first five books of the Old Testament), was translated close to the middle of the 3rd century B.C. and the rest of the Old Testament was done in the 2nd century B.C. Why? Because the Greeks ruled much of the known world politically and the Greek language was the modern language at that time. Many of the Jews in Egypt at that time needed this translation so they could study God's word because they could only read and write the Greek language. Were there any major differences in the Septuagint? Only in the canon- the Hebrew canon had three divisions: the Law (Torah), the Prophets (Nevi'im), and the Writings (Ketuvim). The Septuagint had four divisions: law, history, poetry, and prophets.



    Let us not hurt the Lord (Joseph did not hurt the Lord):
    Joseph resisted temptation. Why? Because Joseph did not want to hurt the Lord. How could he have hurt the Lord? Have you ever had one of your children hurt you? The Lord is a Person with emotions and we are linked to Him. He is a Father to each of His children. He loves us and is deeply concerned about each one of His unique children in the faith. We can hurt our Lord by willfully sinning against Him. Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden, had hurt the Lord by willfully sinning against Him. Then they got into God's disfavor for awhile and were punished. Joseph knew that. That is why he said: "how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" If you are saved, you should never forget your position in Christ. You are a son or daughter of God by adoption. Joseph was bought as a slave for money. You and I have been bought as a love slave for Christ. Christ paid for us with His own blood. He now owns us and it is our privilege to serve Him and bring honor to His name like Joseph did. Let's not hurt our Lord with our self-will, self-indulgence, and rebellion against Him.


    You and I can be falsely accused, persecuted, and imprisoned
    (Joseph was falsely accused, persecuted, and thrown into prison
    ):

    "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. 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 showed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 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"
    (Genesis 39:19-23).

    This crime was one of the worse crimes that Joseph could have been accused of. It appeared that he had not only violated Potiphar's wife but also Potiphar's trust in him, so Potipher had a double reason to be angry at him.

    They put chains on Joseph in prison: "He (God) sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant (slave): whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: until the time that his word came: the word of the Lord tried him. The king sent and loosed him; even the ruler of the people, and let him go free"
    (Psalm 105:17-20).

    Potiphar's wife was angry and wanted revenge. Who does that remind you of in the bible? Yep, Jezebel, the idol worshipping wife of King Ahab of Israel. She was angry and wanted revenge against the prophet, Elijah: "...and Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets (of Baal) with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, so let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time"
    (1 Kings 19:1-2).
    But God fed and protected Elijah at that time. Many years earlier He had done a similar thing for Joseph. However, evil Jezebel was weighed in the balances and found wanting- and was killed. That was the same fate that she had promised to Elijah. I wonder how God punished Potiphar's wife? Did she die unfulfilled? God does not mention the name of Potipher's wife. Why? It could be that "...the face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth"
    (Psalm 34:16).

    There are a few old sayings that we should keep in mind when we are falsely accused: "You take care of your character and God will take care of your reputation". "Has your reputation been attacked? If yes, then live as so no one will believe it". "If they do it with you, they will do it to you". Jesus said:
    "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you"
    (Matthew 5:10-12).

    I have a question to ask you as a topic for discussion: is every sin against a spiritually saved person also considered to be a sin against God?


    Did Joseph get a fair court trial?
    It appears that Joseph's trial is not mentioned- does that mean that he didn't have one? He probably did have one but it was not significant enough to mention. He went to trial after an arrest warrant was issued against him. He was given a trial and found guilty. He was convicted on circumstantial evidence and sentenced to prison. The only way he could get out was to die, receive a pardon from pharaoh, or be acquitted at another trial.

    Let us look at the evidence. Some folks think that the garment she had in her possession was his "underwear shorts" that she had ripped off of him in her attempted rape of him. Then she accused him of the same thing that she was trying to do to him. She perjured herself under oath- in other words, she gave false testimony and lied under oath.

    Many an innocent person has been condemned by some person(s) who have an evil agenda and who can manipulate government and/or law enforcement officials for their own purpose(s). After each fraudulent one dies, he or she will eventually have to stand before God and confess everything- every thought, every word, and every deed. Boy, will that be a revelation! I have a few of them I want to observe there who have been secretive and hostile against me and others I know. There is going to be hell to pay!

    Joseph was condemned while innocent, like Jesus Christ. Was it politically expedient for Potiphar to send Joseph to prison? Before you answer that question, let me ask you another question: was it politically expedient for Pontius Pilate to crucify Jesus Christ? It appears that Joseph did not receive the death penalty- the judge showed him leniency at his trial in that regard. We know that he had served at least two years in prison for attempted rape. There is an old saying: "you have to go down before you go up".

    So, Potiphar threw Joseph into prison. Did this help Potiphar cover-up the drama and the scandal in his own household since Joseph was found to be guilty? In other words, Joseph was a convenient scape goat who had to pay for Potiphar's cover-up. The last thing that any government official needs is a scandal in his personal household. That is probably why Potiphar did not release Joseph from prison after Potiphar eventually found out the truth about his unfaithful wife. In order for Potiphar to clear Joseph in Joseph's defense, Potiphar would have to go back to court and declare that his wife had perjured herself. Then Potiphar would have to confess that he had falsely condemned Joseph on circumstantial evidence. That would have made him appear to be a fraud. Such a lapse of sound judgment and wrong thinking would have been apparent to all in the Egyptian political arena. No one wants a person like that working in their government. Potiphar might have been fired from his job and his own reputation damaged. Of course, that probably happened to Potiphar, anyway, after Joseph was elevated since everyone then knew the truth. So, did Potiphar reap what he had sowed and eventually lose it all?

    Did these circumstances discourage Joseph? Satan, many times, uses discouragement as a weapon. And when a person is discouraged, they might consider suicide. Is this what happened to Joseph? He might have been discouraged for awhile, however, he did not let his circumstances emotionally defeat him. In other words, he lived on top of his circumstances. You can only do that by accepting your adverse circumstances as a challenge to be conquered. Joseph was not going to let Satan defeat him- he did not want to live a defeated life that ended in suicide. Likewise, as a soldier of the cross, you and I need to face each of our trials as a challenge. We have to have the spiritual mindset to fight to the death against Satan to fulfill our ultimate destiny. Joseph was facing incredible spiritual odds- he was outnumbered and out gunned. He was surrounded by a spiritually dangerous and hostile enemy. This enemy gave him no surrender and no quarter (mercy). Joseph might have thought this way: "I am as a dedicated spiritual soldier operating behind enemy lines to fulfill my mission. The needs of the mission come before my own personal needs. When my mission is completed I can go home". You and I need to have this same mindset when we face a Satanic onslaught against us. God declared through His word:
    "When the enemy (Satan) shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him"
    (Isaiah 59:19b).
    That standard is the blood stained banner of Jesus Christ! The enemy cannot stand against the blood of Jesus Christ.

    In prison God gave favor to Joseph. This statement means that God was with Joseph and God blessed him. The prison warden was probably convinced of Josephs innocence. Promotion and delegated authority were given to Joseph in the prison. This helped Joseph get through day after seemingly endless day with no relief in sight.

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