Now Joseph was taken down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man; he was in the house of his Egyptian master. His master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hands. So Joseph found favour in his sight and attended him; he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field. So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge; and, with him there, he had no concern for anything but the food that he ate.Now Joseph was handsome and good-looking. And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, ‘Lie with me.’ But he refused and said to his master’s wife, ‘Look, with me here, my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my hand. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except yourself, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’ And although she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not consent to lie beside her or to be with her. One day, however, when he went into the house to do his work, and while no one else was in the house, she caught hold of his garment, saying, ‘Lie with me!’ But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside. When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled outside, she called out to the members of her household and said to them, ‘See, my husband has brought among us a Hebrew to insult us! He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice; and when he heard me raise my voice and cry out, he left his garment beside me, and fled outside.’ Then she kept his garment by her until his master came home, and she told him the same story, saying, ‘The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought among us, came in to me to insult me; but as soon as I raised my voice and cried out, he left his garment beside me, and fled outside.’
Everything Joseph did prospered. And yet I can't imagine it felt that way to Joseph. After all, his brothers kidnapped him and threw him in a pit. They sold him into slavery. He's living as a slave in Potiphar's house. How is that flourishing? Rejected and abused by his family. Alone and enslaved in a foreign land.
Potiphar trusts Joseph and rewards him with more responsibility. Trust plus responsibility equals more work. More work equals prosperity? Again, I can't imagine that Joseph was interpreting his life as prosperous. And if he was, he was quickly brought back to reality when Potiphar's wife calls him "this servant." He is wrongfully accused of sexual abuse and thrown in prison where the Lord was with Joseph, showing him favor and again "making all that he did prosper."
Did Joseph consider his life prosperous?
The 11th son of a woman who has since died giving birth to his baby brother. The favorite son of his father, loathed by his 10 older brothers. Joseph could be understood as a bit of a brat, certainly someone who lacks social cues perhaps. Was Joseph entitled? Was he expecting that Potiphar like his father would favor him above the other servants? Did Joseph believe the dreams of the previous chapter? Did he believe that one day others would bow down to him? Did he hold onto it? Maybe he was somehow able to see his daily life through the lens of those dreams. Or maybe it was simply having the dreams in the first place that caused Joseph to be prosperous.
It's interesting - this third week in the narrative lectionary - Noah had a promise. Abram had a promise. Joseph had a dream.
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