Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 39:16-20

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.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 39:13-15

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.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 37:32-35

32 And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son’s coat or no.

33 And he knew it, and said, It is my son’s coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces.

34 And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days.

35 And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.

Joseph’s brothers wrenched his coat off his body, tore it to pieces, dipped it in blood, and then had the audacity to ask Jacob whether it was Joseph’s, as if they didn’t already know! It is interesting that the question they phrase their question as “whether it be thy son’s coat.” Could they not even bring themselves to say, “our brother’s coat?” The strange verbiage makes them sound as if they were strangers to Jacob, but then, I suppose in this moment they truly are. They are lying and pretending, presenting a face to him that is far removed from reality.

But this is not all. They then continued to lie through their teeth when they rose up to comfort their father. The very men that deprived this man of his son would then pretend to be sympathetic for his loss! Jacob thankfully rejected their overtures, even if he did not fathom what sort of vipers he had all about him.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 3:9-13

9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?

12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

13 And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

Perhaps Adam and Eve hid themselves first, but I must applaud their honesty in these verses. When confronted with an inquiry they came forward and clearly confessed all that they did wrong. “I was afraid and I hid myself,” “the woman gave me, and I did eat,” “the serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.”

I do wonder whether it even occurred to them to lie. Perhaps they realized God would see through it, or perhaps no such notions had yet entered the human mind, or perhaps they were simply choosing to do what was right.

In any case, as one who has partaken of his own forbidden fruit and then lied about it, I have great respect for Adam and Eve bringing it forth directly. I am never able to move on from my shame until I am ready to confess, and the sooner I have been able to do that the better it has always been.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 3:4-5

4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Every temptation comes with the promise of gain. Take the money and you can buy the things you want. Tell the lie and you’ll get out of trouble. View the pornography and you will have a rush of pleasure. Shout at the child and they will stop doing the thing that annoys you.

In short: eat the fruit and you will gain. And why do we give in? Because there is a truth to all of these statements. Immediate gratification does come about by committing sin. It really works!

Of course we have also been warned of painful side-effects accompanying each of these vices. After the rush of gratification comes the lack of self-respect, the shame, the addiction, the broken relationships, the decline of health, the sense of being fractured, the feeling of being cursed. And it is against these consequences that Satan lies, just as it was the consequence he was dismissive of to Eve: “Ye shall not surely die.”

When asked why we sin, most of us say it was because we thought we could get away with it, which is another way of saying we believed Satan and thought we could slip past the consequences. We thought that if we were fast enough or clever enough we could take the gratification of sin while dodging all the pain. We assumed the promised shame was only put upon us by stodgy priests and parents, and if we just didn’t care about them we wouldn’t feel bad about it. But as each of us has learned, it doesn’t really work that way. The pain is already hidden within the pleasure, you cannot bite the fruit without consuming both.