Saturday, November 06, 2010

Potiphar’s Wife Makes One Last Effort - Genesis 39:11-12

Now it happened one day that he went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the household was there inside. And she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me!” And he left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside.

These two verses are packed with images and lessons. To begin with Joseph is alone in the house with another man’s wife who we know has strong desires for him. And there are no other men around. This is problematic. While I personally am not of the belief that a man must never be alone with another woman who is not his wife, daughter, or other close relative, I am convinced that he should not be alone with another woman if there is or ever has been any evidence of his desiring her or her desiring him, or if one of them knows that the other makes a habit of pursuing adulterous affairs, or if one of them knows his or her own weakness in this regard. Certainly if any of these feelings arise even momentarily during their private, yet legitimate, encounter, one or both of them must immediately put a halt to it and take steps not to repeat the circumstance.

After the information we have in verse 10 of this chapter, Joseph should have known that going alone into Potiphar’s house when only his master’s wife and perhaps her private servants were there, would not be a good idea. Perhaps there is something in a man (and I am sure some women) that causes them to think, “I am above becoming a victim; I can protect myself”. How wrong can one be? And yes, even if you can ‘run away’ as Joseph did when Potiphar’s wife insisted he sleep with her, he still left himself open to becoming the victim he may have thought he would never be.

After being refused, Potiphar’s wife grabbed Joseph’s garment, leaving him no choice but to push her away and flee. In the process he left behind his garment in her hands. Men, I am sure that at some point in your life you have discovered the spurning ability of women, I am sure you will admit that some women cannot be stopped when they have been rejected. In fact, for those of you who are Hollywood movie fans, you will note that millions have been made from movies like Fatal Attraction and other similar ones that play on just that. What we have here in verse 12 is a perfect setup for revenge. Joseph has indeed become the victim and the consequence is about to be felt.

What is the lesson for us? Well perhaps more than one. First, know yourself. Second, know those you work with or for. Third, if you are indeed the innocent victim, know you are not alone. In today’s world, there are more and more charges of sexual assault all the time. Often they are legitimate, but there are also occasions when they are not. I remember once having a sexual harassment complaint made against me by a woman working for me. It turned out, once the company started investigating, that I was indeed her third victim. She had had a record of planning such charges (with her husband’s knowledge) and then settling for considerable sums of money and moving on to the next employer. Fortunately, we exposed her practices and let her go. I was not alone. God was with me through the ordeal. Had I been alone or tried to solve this on my own, I could have lost everything.

As you face temptation today, know yourself, know those you deal with, and know God is with you. And with that knowledge do the right thing.

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