16 And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home. 17 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: 18 And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out. 19 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. 20 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.
The theatrics that Potiphar’s wife gets up to are laughable. She lays out Joseph’s stolen garment and waits beside it all day, so that her husband will walk in to find her still at the very scene of the crime, languishing in the throes of trauma! The pageantry is ridiculous… but it does work. Before reading today’s verses I had wondered whether Potiphar had some suspicion of what really happened. It would seem conceivable that he suspected his wife’s deceit but found it more convenient to turn out a slave than his own wife. However, in verse nineteen we read that his wrath was genuinely kindled against Joseph, suggesting that he bought into the whole charade.
Thus, Potiphar was a blind fool, manipulated by his wife into turning out the best man he had in his household. I can’t help but wonder if his wife continued with her adulterous streak, and if he ever found out about it and realized he had been played. Perhaps it is worth considering whether we have also allowed the wool to be pulled over our eyes also. Rumors that are sensational give us cathartic pleasure, and there is a temptation to believe in them simply because it is exciting to feel the powerful emotions they evoke. Indeed, some of us can become addicted to drama and gossip, holding to the ideas that are interesting, more than the ones that are actually true.
As for poor Joseph, he is out of the frying pan and into the fire! He has gone from being a free man, the son of a powerful father, to a slave, and a stranger, and now a prisoner. Here, at last, he has truly found his nadir.