THAT DARN COAT
When Joseph was taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelite traders, he was purchased by Potiphar, an Egyptian officer. Potiphar was captain of the guard for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt.
2 The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. 3 Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did. 4 This pleased Potiphar, so he soon made Joseph his personal attendant. He put him in charge of his entire household and everything he owned. 5 From the day Joseph was put in charge of his master’s household and property, the Lord began to bless Potiphar’s household for Joseph’s sake. All his household affairs ran smoothly, and his crops and livestock flourished. 6 So Potiphar gave Joseph complete administrative responsibility over everything he owned. With Joseph there, he didn’t worry about a thing—except what kind of food to eat!
Joseph was a very handsome and well-built young man, 7 and Potiphar’s wife soon began to look at him lustfully. “Come and sleep with me,” she demanded.
8 But Joseph refused. “Look,” he told her, “my master trusts me with everything in his entire household. 9 No one here has more authority than I do. He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.”
10 She kept putting pressure on Joseph day after day, but he refused to sleep with her, and he kept out of her way as much as possible. 11 One day, however, no one else was around when he went in to do his work. 12 She came and grabbed him by his cloak, demanding, “Come on, sleep with me!” Joseph tore himself away, but he left his cloak in her hand as he ran from the house.
13 When she saw that she was holding his cloak and he had fled, 14 she called out to her servants. Soon all the men came running. “Look!” she said. “My husband has brought this Hebrew slave here to make fools of us! He came into my room to rape me, but I screamed. 15 When he heard me scream, he ran outside and got away, but he left his cloak behind with me.”
16 She kept the cloak with her until her husband came home. 17 Then she told him her story. “That Hebrew slave you’ve brought into our house tried to come in and fool around with me,” she said. 18 “But when I screamed, he ran outside, leaving his cloak with me!”
19 Potiphar was furious when he heard his wife’s story about how Joseph had treated her. 20 So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held, and there he remained. 21 But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. 22 Before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison. 23 The warden had no more worries, because Joseph took care of everything. The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed.
To Think About…
This is the second time that a coat has gotten Joseph into trouble.
Life is not good for Joseph. He’s taken from his family and homeland, and forced into slavery. There’s quite a bit to complain about.
But despite all that, verse 2 tells us that “the Lord was with Joseph,” and he was very successful. In fact he was so successful and skilled at whatever he did that his master put him in charge of everything in his house! He was treated much better than a typical slave would be. Things were starting to look up.
But then, just like a rollercoaster, things quickly head back downhill. The lady of the house decides that she wants Joseph to be her new “boy toy.” Joseph, being a slave, has no legal rights and cannot sue for sexual harassment in the workplace. All he can do is say no, which he does day after day.
One day she is so particularly aggressive, that Joseph is forced to run out of the house and loses his coat in the process. Unfortunately for him, the master’s wife then decides to use the coat as evidence that Joseph was trying to take advantage of her.
The coat was incriminating evidence against Joseph, and even though he was innocent, he is thrown into prison.
Questions to Ponder
Joseph shows great faith in God despite all the bad stuff happening to him. Do you think that he interpreted the dreams he’d had earlier as God’s promise to bless him and make him the chosen son over his brothers?
Did he cling to those dreams as God’s promise to him in the same way that his father Jacob clung to what God said to him during his dream of the stairway to heaven?
If he did, then he had placed his faith in God and believed that God was going to use him. His faith was what gave him great strength despite his tough circumstances and gave him conviction to do right during times of temptation.
Can our faith shape our lives and our choices the same way that Joseph’s faith did for him?
How does your faith affect your life?