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.

8 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;

9 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?

10 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.

Things had been going well for Joseph in Potiphar’s household, but now trouble began brewing for him once again. In the previous verses we have learned how he gained power and prestige, and also how he was “goodly” and “well favoured.” It is not too shocking, then, that Potiphar’s adulterous wife would single him out for her lust. The phrase that she “cast her eyes upon Joseph” is something that anyone who has been subjected to sexual objectification by another will immediately understand the meaning of. And Potiphar’s wife is the worst sort of predator, not being deterred even when Joseph explicitly tells her that “no,” he doesn’t want anything to do with this.

I find very interesting Joseph’s argument against Potiphar’s wife. At the beginning he mentions the trust that Potiphar has put in him, but at the end it is God’s trust that he invokes as the reason for turning Potiphar’s wife down. Lying with Potiphar’s wife would be a betrayal of Potiphar, would be a betrayal to the teachings of Joseph’s father, would be a betrayal to Joseph’s future wife, yet none of these are the trespass that are greatest in Joseph’s mind. What he asks is “how then can I sin against God?” Clearly Joseph loves his Lord, and he does not want to hurt Him by such an act.

I find very interesting Joseph’s argument against Potiphar’s wife. At the beginning he mentions the trust that Potiphar has put in him, but at the end it is God’s trust that he invokes instead. Yes, lying with Potiphar’s wife would be a betrayal of Potiphar, would be a betrayal to the teachings of Joseph’s father, would be a betrayal to Joseph’s future wife, yet none of these are the trespass that is greatest in Joseph’s mind. What he asks is “how then can I…sin against God?” Clearly Joseph loves God, and does not want to hurt Him by such an act.

Also notice in verse ten that it says Joseph not only rebuked her temptations but went to lengths not “be with her.” This use of “with” is from the Hebrew word עִם, which is used as an adverb or preposition, and means to be physically next to, or to be equal with. Thus, Joseph was avoiding being in the same space as her, or to have a relationship of equal confidence. He knew that she represented trouble for him, and he did all that he could to physically keep that temptation at bay.

Which, as anyone who regularly struggles with temptation knows, is imperative if one is to remain pure. Truly an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Making the effort to not be tempted in the first place is the best way to ensure you will never fail.

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