Mrs. Potiphar was a racist. And a sexual predator. Of course we all know the story of Joseph! Poor Jewish boy forcefully abducted from his home country finds himself in an Egyptian slave market. His brothers sold him to the Ishmaelites, his second cousins who then resold him in Egypt. He wound up in the home of Captain Potiphar, head of the dreaded Ministry of Interior. Captain Poty took care of political prisoners.
Joseph was a product of good genes. His lineage featured extremely beautiful women, starting with his great grandma. Sarah was a knockout, even in old age. There’s that story of Pharaoh wanting to marry her at 70! This was during the Levant recession, when Abraham emigrated to Egypt. Fearing for his life he instructed her not to introduce him as husband. He told everyone she was his sister, which she was! She was his half sister. (Gen. 20:12) The laws of matrimony in those days permitted marriage to half sisters. Pharaoh was a powerful monarch who apparently collected beautiful women. He had lookout agents! It would take God muscling in on Pharaoh to get Sarah released. She was already sequestered in his palace. And that wasn’t the only time God had to intervene on behalf of Abraham. Barely twenty years after another king, King Abimelech of Gerar had similar ideas about Sarah. “You’re a dead man,” God told Abimelech. (Genesis 20:3-4) He quickly relinquished her!
Then there was Joseph’s grandma. She was beautiful. (Genesis 26:7) Her name was Rebekah. Another Abimelech, the son of the old king began nursing ideas about her. But before he could make his move fate intervened. Isaac like his father had lied about Rebekah. He said she was his sister. She was not. She was his cousin. He said he lied because he feared for his life. Unfortunately Abimelech looked out of his window one day and saw him fondling Rebekah. (Genesis 26:8-9) Game up! Though one might ask what is it with the Abimelechs and the family of Abraham!
Then came Joseph’s mum. Her name was Rachel. She was gorgeous. The Bible describes her as “stunningly beautiful!” Had a “beautiful figure.” (Genesis 29:17 MSG, NLT) Joseph’s dad probably paid the longest dowry in human history on account of Rachel. He would end up paying 14 years worth of wages for her dowry. She’s the reason Joseph was extremely handsome. Might have been going to the gym as well since the bible describes him as “well built.” He did have a hint of vanity about him! That was what got him into trouble with his brothers. (Genesis 37:3, 19-20) It didn’t take long before the Mrs. Potiphar set eyes on Joseph. She was a cougar. We don’t know how old he was at this time but the lad was sold into slavery at seventeen. (Genesis 37:2) Mrs. Potiphar didn’t employ subtlety. She was crude and direct: ‘“Have sex with me,” she DEMANDED!’ (Genesis 39:7) And was she persistent! She kept pressuring the lad day after day, seeking to wear down his resistance. Mrs. Poty wouldn’t take no for an answer.
On one of those days, and by some freakish coincidence none of the household servants was in the house. Mrs. Potiphar made her move. She made a grab for Joseph. In trying to escape her claws he left his tunic behind. Well, hell hath no fury like a scorned Mrs. Potiphar. She began to scream rape, attracting the attention of the other servants. It was while narrating her alleged ordeal that she used racial slur. She told the servants, “My husband has brought THIS HEBREW slave here to make fools of us!” (Genesis 39:14) Notice the sudden “us.” And Joseph was now a “Hebrew”– “This Hebrew!” You see, Egyptians despised shepherds and Hebrews were shepherds. (Genesis 46:34) When she repeated the charge to her husband she used the same racial slur – “THAT HEBREW SLAVE you’ve brought into our house tried to come in and fool with me. But when I screamed, he ran outside, leaving his cloak with me.” (Genesis 39:17) Captain Poty was of course livid. He threw Joseph into prison. And so did Mrs. Poty come to unleash further trauma into the young man’s life, his third major trauma. The first was his mum’s death. The second was being sold into slavery, and now Mrs. Potiphar. All because of sex.
But why didn’t Joseph sleep with Mrs. Potiphar? Somehow, sex with her was a difficult moral proposition for him. How do you sleep with your benefactor’s wife? Potiphar had been good to him, had trusted him. And he said as much. The only thing off limit was Mrs. Potiphar. So how could he? Which was why Potiphar grew mad and threw him in prison, probably throwing the key away as well. He felt deeply hurt.
It was in Potiphar’s detention that Joseph met those two government officials and interpreted their dreams. One was assassinated as predicted by Joseph and the other freed as also predicted by Joseph. It was through the freed gentleman Joseph finally got his recommendation to Pharaoh. Joseph would go on to become Pharaoh’s second in command. We assume Captain and Mrs. Potiphar went into exile the very next day! Life.
But what if Joseph had slept with Mrs. Potiphar? What then? Well, Mrs. Potiphar would devour him like the black widow spider. That spider cannibalizes her mate. The female wolf spider occasionally does the same. The character profile of Mrs. Potiphar in the Bible is that of a lying, cheating, manipulative, inventive, racist, spiteful and vindictive woman. That’s not someone you want to get into relationship with, any relationship. He would have to do her every whim and bidding to hang on to his life. He’d be nothing but a toy boy, his personal vision effectively terminated.
Then there’s the blackmail factor. Don’t forget Mrs. Potiphar was good at manufacturing evidence. The sword of death would thus forever dangle over his head. He’d have to please her in everything, reasonable and unreasonable. There is of course the risk of exposure of the affair. A slave who cuckolds his master has his life sentence pronounced in advance. If knowledge of the affair ever got out neither he nor Mrs. Potiphar would live to tell the story. In truth she was nothing but a distraction to him, a derailer of destiny. Joseph refused to trade his dreams for orgasm.
The simple lesson from all this is that it’s good to have a moral core. Joseph had integrity. Sometimes integrity leads us through adverse circumstances to take us to the top. As per getting a woman, he did end up marrying into nobility. The employment package from Pharaoh included a wife. Her name was Asenath. Incidentally she was the daughter of another Potiphar with a name variant called Potipherah. (Genesis 41:45) In other words, Joseph gave up Mrs. Potiphar only to get a Miss Potiphar. Life sure has a sense of humour. The wrong Potiphar came first. And that’s the way it often is in life. The decoy manifests first. If Joseph had slept with Mrs. Potiphar his future would have been consumed. He won’t get to Pharaoh’s palace. And he would have missed his purpose in life. His purpose in life was to preserve the nascent nation of Israel. The famine would have wiped out his family. He told his brothers, “God sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.” (Genesis 45:7) That was the reason he was sold into slavery and why he ended up in Egypt. Without Joseph there would be no nation of Israel today. That would have been the opportunity cost of sleeping with Mrs. Potiphar. He would have gone on a destiny tangent – just a handsome gigolo servicing a devious woman. Until the next handsome guy comes along. Crass short-term opportunism derails destiny. Even in our difficulties we must search for purpose. There’s something called the end game. (Jeremiah 29:11) Keep faith!
If you’ll like to give your life to Jesus, please pray this prayer: Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus Christ died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Please forgive me Father. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.
© #Illuminare Leke Alder | firstname.lastname@example.orgYou must have a moral core. Click To Tweet