Thursday, March 10, 2011

Genesis 39:11-19 False Pride Cloaks Lies

"One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside.  She caught him by his cloak and said, 'Come to bed with me!'  But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.  When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, she called her household servants.  'Look,' she said to them, 'this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us!  He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed.  When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.'  (Genesis 39:11-15 NIV)

Potiphar's wife continued to try to tempt Joseph into committing adultery with her.  Joseph had tried to avoid being in her presence.  However, one day his duties required him to go inside the house.  Potiphar's wife took advantage of the fact that no one else was around to witness her actions.  This time she even grabbed at Joseph's cloak as she made her demands.

Joseph did not even try to reason with this woman any more.  Leaving his cloak, he left the house.  Seizing both his cloak and the opportunity, Potiphar's wife realized that she finally had the chance to accuse Joseph of wrongdoing.  She lied to the household servants and told them that Joseph had tried to attack her, but that her screams had frightened him off.  Joseph's cloak seemed to lend substance to her accusation.

Notice how she subtly uses nationalistic pride to build up her case against Joseph:

  • "...this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us" (v.14) -- as though the alleged 'attack' by this 'outsider' was against all Egyptians.
As the account continues, so does her prejudiced attitude:

"She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home.  Then she told him this story:  'That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me.  But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.'  When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, 'This is how your slave treated me,' he burned with anger."  (Genesis 39:16-19 NIV)

It was Potiphar's wife's word against Joseph's.  It probably would have been unthinkable for Potiphar to believe Joseph's account over his wife's story, or a Hebrew servant's account over an Egyptian's statement.  So Potiphar believes her version of what had happened and becomes furiously angry.

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