13 And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth,
14 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:
15 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.
Potiphar’s wife could see that Joseph would never commit adultery with her, and having been frustrated in her lust she now determined to ruin him. I am struck by her language saying “he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us.” She isn’t just casting stones at Joseph, she is disparaging his entire culture. “He brought in an Hebrew” feels to me like it is spoken with revulsion, as though her husband has let a dirty thing into the house like a rat. Hebrews are untrustworthy, Hebrews are dangerous, Hebrews aren’t principled like the rest of us.
And in truth, Joseph had done nothing wrong. But a false image of him had to be erected for Potiphar’s wife to conceal her own shameful behavior. In this tactic Potiphar’s wife shows a similar mentality to that of Joseph’s brothers, who could not stand to have his worthiness reveal to them their own guilty conscience. There is a tendency among the wicked to silence their shame by smothering whatever source of purity is stinging it. Vitriolic and abusive retaliation only reveals how guilty the conscience of the crier really is.
Disagreement and difference of opinion are inevitable in life, but attempted murder and assassination of character were not proportional responses from Joseph’s brothers and Potiphar’s wife! The magnitude of their reaction shows that they did not merely disagree with Joseph, they felt threatened in their guilty souls.