“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 spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice:” (Gen. 39:11-14).
When Potiphar’s wife took hold of Joseph to force him to lie with her, he merely abandoned his cloak and ran. It was only right that he should. Potiphar’s wife belonged to Potiphar and not to Joseph, so when she approached him, it was nothing short of enticing him to commit adultery. Falling to that temptation would not only have been a breach of faithfulness against Potiphar but against the God of Heaven Himself. Notice specifically what Joseph says: 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? (Gen. 39:9).
Like the harlot in Proverbs 7:10, Potiphar’s wife had laid a trap for Joseph and thought to take him by her trickery. As he went about serving her husband every day, his youth and vigor must have appealed to her, and it appears she had arranged for the other servants in the house leave, in order to make his temptation to sin even greater. Perhaps she painted herself like Jezebel or she may even have worn lewd clothing for appeal. We can assume that she did not have the reputation for being a common harlot, because she was a married woman of some status. However, we see she was subtle of heart, in stark contrast to the purity of heart and modesty, which becomes women professing godliness (1 Tim. 2:10).
Notice how the temptation to sin came to Joseph. It was not presented to him as a hideous, fire-breathing monster, but as something soft and enticing—something perhaps that he might do and nobody would ever know. The Devil would never win any battles for our souls if he made sin look like what it really is. Our Heavenly Father describes the Devil as going about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8), but the ones who are tempted usually do not see him like that because he crouches secretly and pounces suddenly as the deed is done. What the unwary person may see is Satan disguised as an angel of light, thus increasing the temptation (2 Cor. 11:14-15).
God offers many, many alternatives to sin. One method of resisting temptation is to flee. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13). We are told to “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18). Again, we are told to “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22). Finally, we know that we are to “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
Joseph left his cloak and ran. Viewing his action from the eyes of the world, that may have seemed cowardly, but in the eyes of God he behaved admirably. Joseph was righteous and suffered for it (1 Pet. 2:20), but he was blessed by God for his faithfulness.
- Joseph was the first child of ________ ( 22:24) and his father’s ____________ (adjective) son (Gen. 37:31).
- Approximately how old was Joseph when his brothers sold him into Egyptian bondage?
- Who bought him first?
- How did he happen to become a servant to Potiphar?
- Who was Potiphar? What was his position under King Pharaoh?
- Why would being the most trusted servant in his household be such a good position?
- What happened to Joseph when he refused to commit adultery with Potiphar’s wife?
- How did she convince her husband that he had tried to molest her?
- After Joseph was sent to prison, what happened to him there?
- We see by Joseph’s example that we may flee temptation; however, there are other ways to overcome. Give as many ways as you can find in scripture that show us how to win the battle against sin. You might consider these examples to begin your study: Psalm 1:1—not even walking, standing or sitting near wrong or perhaps Psalm 119:11—putting the word in our hearts as protection. Suggested search words might include: temptation, sin not, sin against, overcome, stand, fight (note the battle language). These are only a few of many ideas to help your research.