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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Bible Commentary

Genesis 39

Verses 1-23

Now we get back in chapter thirty-nine to the story again. This is just a little interlude and it is just sort of a parenthetical-kind of a thing thrown in and now we get back to Joseph. Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, a eunuch of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him at the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down to Egypt. And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man ( Genesis 39:1-2 ); "The LORD was with Joseph." This is the summation of the man's life. As we pointed out this morning, it is interesting how that God can sum up a person's life with just a few words: "The LORD was with Joseph". That's the story of his life. But you're sort of reminded of the fiddler on the roof where the fellow says: "Lord, I know we're the chosen people but would you mind choosing somebody else for a while", because of all of the calamities that were happening. The Lord was with Joseph but it is interesting that the Lord being with him did not spare him the hatred of his brothers, the jealousy. Did not spare him being sold by his brothers. It did not spare him from slavery. It did not spare him from false accusations. It did not spare him from temptation. It did not spare him from false imprisonment. Being a Christian is not any kind of a divine immunity from problems. "In this world, Jesus said, ye shall have tribulation" ( John 16:33 ). Peter said, "Don't consider it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing has happened unto you" ( 1 Peter 4:12 ). Everybody has problems, Christians and non-Christians alike. The big difference is with the Christians; the Lord being with us gives us a way out of temptation, a way out of our trials, or victory in the midst of our trials. Now here Joseph was a slave. And what does it say about him in his slavery? "The Lord was with him and prospered him." Even in these adverse circumstances, the hand of the Lord being with him, he was prospered by the Lord. And Joseph found grace in his master's sight, and he served him: and he made him an overseer over the house, and all that he had put he put in Joseph's hand. It came to pass from that time that he made him the overseer in his house, and over all that he had, and 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; he knew not how much he had, save only the bread which he did eat. For Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured ( Genesis 39:4-6 ). Now that is a way of saying he was very handsome, just good-looking and good actions, too. He was just a very-"goodly" though speaks of his own personal physical appearance. He was just a very handsome young man 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 doesn't even know what I have in the house, for he has committed all that he has into my hand; There is nothing there is none that is greater in his house than I; and neither has he kept back any thing from me but you, because you're his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God ( Genesis 39:7-9 )? Now you must remember that Joseph at this time is in his early twenties, a time when in the body maturation those biological drives are becoming very powerful, and he's just a normal young man. And he is faced with a severe temptation: this woman and daily close contact, daily pressing him, urging him, pressuring him to go to bed with her. It would have been easy for Joseph to have succumbed, but understanding who he was kept him pure. How can I? She was no doubt saying, "Hey", you know, "this happens all the time in Egypt. Everybody's doing it", you know, "it's common". "It may be common for the world but how can I? I'm not of the world, I'm a child of God. If I were a child of the world, yes, I might enter into such an arrangement. But I'm not a child of the world; I'm a child of God. How can I do this great wickedness?" As a child of God, there are things that I cannot do because I am a child of God and I don't care if the world around me is doing it. That's no excuse for me. How can I do this great wickedness? The recognition of who he was; a child of God. The Lord was with him. And that consciousness of the Lord's presence with him was very great for "how can I do this sin against God?" You say nobody'll see us. You say nobody will know. God knows. It was an awareness that sin is against God. Even as David had the awareness when the prophet Nathan came to him and rebuked him for the relationship that he had with Bathsheba. David in his prayer for mercy, "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. For against thee and thee only, have I sinned, and done this great wickedness in thy sight" ( Psalms 51:1 , Psalms 51:4 ). Paul tells us in Romans the sixth chapter, "How can we, who are dead to sin, live any longer therein" ( Romans 6:2 )? That's the equivalent to Joseph. How can I do this great wickedness? How can we who have been washed by the blood of Jesus Christ, who have been cleansed from the old life and the old nature, who have been made new creatures in Christ Jesus, who have been made one with Christ, how can we being one with Christ join Christ together with a harlot, with a prostitute? Or with an illicit relationship? "How can we who are dead to sin live any longer therein?" You need to know who you are. You need to have that recognition of who you are and you need to have the recognition of God's presence with you at all times. You cannot and do not hide a thing from God and do this sin against God. How can I who have been washed by the blood of Jesus Christ add more sins to Him? "For he in his own body bore my sins on the tree" ( 1 Peter 2:24 ). How can we, dead to sin, be living in them? And so it came to pass, as she was speaking to Joseph day after day, that he did not hearken to her, to lie with her ( Genesis 39:10 ), He started avoiding her. It came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men in the house. And she caught him by his garment, and said, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out ( Genesis 39:11-12 ). That fleeing to me was a sign of great courage and bravery, not of cowardice. It was a lot harder to run than it would have been to stay. It's a lot harder to run from temptation than to yield to temptation. It takes a lot more courage to run from temptation than to fall into temptation. Again, like my mom used to tell me: "Son, any dead fish can float down the stream. It takes a live fish to swim upstream". When the pressure is all going downhill, it's easy to coast downhill. It's much harder to run uphill against the pressures, against the mores, against the whole cultural concepts that we have. It's a lot harder to stand up for righteousness and morality and purity. When the whole direction of the world is going downhill so fast, it's awfully hard to go uphill. It takes a lot more strength, a lot more courage, a lot more fortitude. Running is sometimes the wisest, bravest thing you can do. Paul said to Timothy, "Flee youthful lust" ( 2 Timothy 2:22 ). If you feel the pressure on, if you feel yourself slipping, starting to go, hey, run! Get out of there just as fast as you can. Flee the place of temptation. Oh, they may laugh. They may say, "Look at him go. Chicken". Hey, that's all right. Let them call me what they want. I'm getting out of here. This is no place for me. "Flee youthful lust." So Joseph ran from her presence. And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and had run out, she called unto the men of the house, and she spoke to them, saying, See, he has brought in a Hebrew to mock us; he came in to force me to lie with him, and I cried, I screamed, and he ran ( Genesis 39:13-14 ): It is interesting that she is probably taking a certain bit of animosity and jealousy that they already had for Joseph because of his position. "A Hebrew". "He's made this Hebrew ruler in the house over you Egyptians. And now this man has tried to disgrace me. If I hadn't screamed, he surely would have raped me." So it came to pass that when her husband came home, she spoke to him the same words saying, The Hebrew servant, which you have brought to us, came in to mock me: it came to pass, as I screamed and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out. So when the master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, his anger 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 ( Genesis 39:15-21 ), Wait a minute. How can that be? This is worse than the Tijuana jail. And you've got false charges. You're family, man; they've sold you out. Now this woman is telling lies and you've been sentenced with an indefinite term into prison, and the Lord is with me? But that's what it says, "The Lord was with Joseph". That's the story of his life. In prison, in slavery, the Lord was with him. It's glorious to know that the Lord is with me in the toughest circumstances of life. When everyone else has turned against me. When everything else has failed, the Lord is still with me. Oh, praise the Lord! Others may desert me. Others may turn against me but the Lord never will. The Lord was with Joseph even in prison. and He showed him mercy, and He gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph the hand of all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. And the keeper of the prison did not look after any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with Joseph, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper ( Genesis 39:21-23 ). God's hand upon his life, whatever he did, God blessed it because of Joseph. The Lord was with him. So beautiful how God is with us and will be with us. He said, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you" ( Hebrews 13:5 ). "

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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Genesis 39". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/genesis-39.html. 2014.