And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.
Joseph is my favorite character in the Old Testament, and I have many pleasant memories that resurface every time I read about him in the Bible. I attended a Christian college in Minnesota, and in my last year of college our class was privileged to put on a drama about the life of Joseph. The scene that stands out the most in my mind is when Jacob is reunited with Joseph his son in Egypt after not seeing him for many years and believing him to be dead.(Genesis 46:29) The first time we did this in a drama practice with Robby F. playing Jacob and John J. playing Joseph, the power of God fell in our classroom, and many were weeping and worshipping God. It was incredible.
These are the things I admire about Joseph.
He Did The Right Thing We Nobody Was Looking
In Genesis 39, we can read about Joseph’s temptation at the hand of Mrs. Potiphar. It seems in our day we hear of many encountering the sin of adultery and unfortunately, falling prey to it. What was it in Joseph that gave him the strength to resist this temptation? I believe first of all, that he had a relationship with God and that directly affected the way in which he conducted himself. It was evident to others who did not share his faith that there was something different about him. Mr. Potiphar felt comfortable enough with him to basically have him in charge of his household. I think Joseph had more than just a daily devotion time with God. I think He had a God consciousness. This is evidenced by his reply to Mrs. Potiphar’s sensual suggestions.
There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?
Joseph had an acute understanding that Someone was always watching him, and partaking in this kind of relationship would be a sin against God. He was able to do the right thing when it appeared that nobody was watching.
He Never Became Bitter When Treated In A Manner That Seemed Unfair
I see several instances in the life of Joseph where he received treatment that seemed unkind and unfair.
And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.
And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh.
Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.
And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him.
And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again.
And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stripped Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colors that was on him;
And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.
Joseph’s brothers were jealous and talked about killing him, but Reuben convinces them to cast Joseph into a pit. His brothers then decide that they are going to sell him, but before they can go back to the pit and pull him out, a group of merchantmen come and sell him into slavery.
And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmaelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt.
And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood?
Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.
Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.
And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes.
When Joseph arrives in Egypt and becomes the servant of Potiphar, it seems as though things are going well for him. Joseph is well liked, and the house of Potiphar is prospering under his management. He is approached by Mrs. Potiphar, he resists her temptation, and then he is thrown in prison because Mrs. Potiphar tells a lie and claims that Joseph tried to seduce her.
And it came to pass, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her.
And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within.
And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.
And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth,
That she called unto the men of her house, and spoke unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in a Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice:
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.
And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home.
And she spoke unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me:
And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out.
And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath 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.
I wonder if Joseph was ever tempted to say, “Well thanks a lot God. Here I try and honor You by doing the right thing and all I get is cast into this miserable prison!” However, we read in the very next verse..
But the LORD was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it.
The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.
Joseph also had opportunity to become bitter after interpreting the dreams of the chief butler and baker while in prison. What he told the butler and the baker came to pass, and Joseph asked the butler when he was restored to his former position to speak a word for him to Pharoah. The chief butler completly forgot about Joseph for 2 years.
And the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, In my dream, behold, a vine was before me;
And in the vine were three branches: and it was as though it budded, and her blossoms shot forth; and the clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes:
And Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand: and I took the grapes, and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaoh’s hand.
And Joseph said unto him, This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days:
Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh’s cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler.
But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and show kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house:
Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgot him.
In continuing to read the rest of Joseph’s story in Genesis, we know that God blesses him and really turns his circumstances around and that eventually, he is reunited with his family.(and even forgives his brothers for their sin against him.) Joseph had no idea how things were going to turn out when he was in the midst of his sufferings. How did he manage to keep a good attitude? I believe he understood a principle we see mentioned in the New Testament.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Not everything that happened to Joseph was what we would consider “good” but God used it all to bring about good, not only for Joseph but his family, the nations suffering famine at that time and all since who have read the accounts of Joseph in God’s Word.
I’m thankful that Joseph’s life still speaks today.