Monday, November 08, 2010

A Scorned Woman Takes Revenge - Genesis 39:13-18

When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and had fled outside, she called to the men of her household, and said to them, “See, he has bought in a Hebrew to us to make sport of us; he came in to me to lie with me, and I screamed. And it came about when he heard that I raised my voice and screamed, that he left his garment beside me and fled, and went outside.” So she left his garment beside her until his master came home. Then she spoke to him with these words, “The Hebrew slave, whom you brought to us, came in to me to make sport of me; and it happened as I raised my voice and screamed, that he left his garment beside me and fled outside.”

Joseph flees the seductive wife of Potiphar who forcibly pursued him, but in so doing he has left his garment in her hands. She immediately calls the menservants who had been outside and gives them an interesting account of what had just transpired. But she blames her husband for placing a Hebrew in such a high position. Then she blames the Hebrew for wanting to simply do whatever he wants with the entire household, including now her. She lies about who was the aggressor in this assault, saying she screamed when he wanted to make love to her, causing Joseph to flee and leave his garment.

The garment becomes the treasured piece of evidence that she holds on to and awaits Potiphar’s return. When her husband does come home, she repeats the lies, continuing to blame him for the situation – “the Hebrew slave, whom you brought to us” – and then falsely emphasizes her own innocence. Here was a woman spurned by someone she wanted as a lover, probably ignored by her husband, bored to death with her life, and now on top of all that, her dignity had been damaged severely.

What is the lesson here for you and me? If you live long enough and sometimes, but not always, uprightly enough, there will come a time when you are falsely accused. Life is like that; people are like that. You may have done all the right things in dealing with a situation. You, like Joseph, may have said, “no” to sin repeatedly. But the ‘enemy’ does not let go; he does not give up. He keeps working things just so that it seems you will pay even more for not giving in to the ‘sin’. That is what happened to Joseph in these verses.

First, at the sexual fancy and then on the mental whim of one person, in this case Potiphar’s dissatisfied wife, a man’s reputation and his career are wiped out in one brief and on his part, innocent, encounter with her. What a bummer. Has that ever happened to you? Perhaps not with respect to sex or adultery, but perhaps involving some action you took or did not take at work, something you said or did not say in a relationship, a misunderstanding of a position taken at church, or the like.

Here was Joseph, alone in a strange land. All the friends he had gained were likely Egyptians and now with this turn of events, none of them would stand with him. And I am sure matters would just get worse.

But here is the consolation. Back in the second verse of this chapter, we read the following words, “And the Lord was with Joseph”. Was this still not the case? I believe it was. Joseph had done nothing to cause the Lord to depart from him. He was still with him. Why then all this trouble for our hero? Why all this trouble for you if you have been in similar situations? Those of us, who know the outcome of this story, may know the reason. For the rest, here’s a clue. Potiphar, whom Joseph worked for, was a pretty important officer in Pharoah’s regiment, but he was not the “main man”. Somehow, God wanted to bring Joseph to the attention of the Pharoah in order to accomplish His purpose. And the Lord was still with Joseph. And He is still with you and me, because He has something He wants to accomplish through you and me.

Stay tuned as we continue with the story of Joseph in Egypt.

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