Tag Archives: Genesis 39-41

January 14, 2018 Bible Study — Is This The First Recorded Case of Sexual Harassment?

I am using the daily Bible reading schedule from “The Bible.net” for my daily Bible reading.

Today, I am reading and commenting on Genesis 39-41.

    We have in this passage what may be the first account of sexual harassment. It is worth noting that it was a young man being sexually harassed by a woman in a position of power. I want to note that a large part of the reason that we do not have an account of sexual harassment of similar age where a woman was harassed is because if the more powerful individual in this situation had been a man, he would have simply forced himself upon the object of his desire with no risk of negative consequences. However, the important thing about sexual harassment in this story is that it shows us that, even in a society of male dominance, women are also likely to abuse their power over those in a weaker position.

    There are some lessons we can learn from this story. First, what could Joseph have done to avoid this. Realistically, the only thing he could have done is avoid being alone with Potiphar’s wife. This is an important point to keep in mind. Joseph ended up being falsely accused of rape. As I think about this situation it reminds me that one of the things that causes problems when we give rape avoidance advice to women is that the same advice applies to men who want to avoid false accusations of rape: avoid being in situations where that can happen. When we advise young women to avoid situations where rape can easily happen we are often accused of sexism. That accusation may be accurate if we are only advising young women to avoid those situations because we should advise young men to avoid being on the male side of those same situations in order to avoid being falsely accused of rape.
    That part being said there is an even more important point to be made. As far as we can tell from this passage, Joseph did his best to avoid being alone with Potiphar’s wife. That is the important point we need to make when pointing out situations which men and women should avoid (men to avoid false accusations of rape, women to avoid being raped), those who ended up in those situations and got raped, or falsely accused of rape, are the victims, not the perpetrators. Failing to have failed to follow the advice, whether because they disregarded it or because circumstances made it unavoidable, does not make them bad people, or even responsible for what happened to them. One final note: God used the bad things which happened to Joseph to put him in a position much better than he could have otherwise reached and where he was able to help his family when famine reached the area.

January 14, 2017 Bible Study — Being Faithful To God When Times Are Bad

I am using the daily Bible reading schedule from “The Bible.net” for my daily Bible reading.

Today, I am reading and commenting on Genesis 39-41.

    The story of Joseph is the story of someone who did not allow the bad things which happened in his life to get between himself and serving God. Joseph could have become depressed and given up. However, he did not. He continued to work hard and to serve God in the situations in which he found himself. His own brothers sold him into slavery, but when he ended up in Potiphar’s house he worked hard and became successful. Potiphar’s wife framed him for attempted rape and he ended up in jail. There he applied himself and quickly rose to a position of respect. He accurately interpreted the dreams of two co-prisoners, one of whom was released. The latter forgot him and left him to his fate. However, Joseph did not bemoan his fate. When the opportunity arose to interpret Pharaoh’s dream, he gave credit to God and did what he was able. Joseph did not seek the positions of authority which he was given, but he executed them to the best of his ability.

January 14, 2016 Bible Study — Making the Best of a Bad Situation

This year I switched from using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible reading to the daily Bible reading schedule from “The Bible.net”.


Today, I am reading and commenting on Genesis 39-41.

    This passage reminds us that false accusations of rape, or attempted rape, are nothing new, just as the story of Dinah tells us that rape is nothing new. Potiphar’s wife tried repeatedly to seduce Joseph, finally. when she was unsuccessful she accused him of attempted rape. Once again, I see Joseph’s naiveté. It never occurred to him that she would do such a thing. If it had, he would have been careful not to be alone with her in the house. There is a lesson here to take note of. Be careful about being alone with someone of the opposite sex who is not your spouse. The temptation to do wrong will be great and if your are not tempted they may make false accusations against you to which you have no defense.


    While Joseph was in prison he, once more, made the best of a bad situation. As a result, he rose to a position of relative privilege. It is worth noting that Joseph did not rise to any of his positions of privilege because of favoritism. Rather, he rose to such positions because he remained faithful to God. While he was in prison two of his fellow prisoners had prophetic dreams. One of those dreams was good, one was terrible. We do not know why the cup-bearer received the good outcome and the baker the terrible one. The point of the story was that the interpretation Joseph offered for dreams was the one God gave him, not one which would please his audience. We need to be the same way.


    When Joseph gave Pharaoh the interpretation which God had given him for Pharaoh’s dreams, he also gave Pharaoh a plan to deal with the coming famine. In giving Pharaoh that plan, Joseph did not in any way suggest that he should be put in charge of executing it. Pharaoh wisely chose to put Joseph in charge. One of the reasons that made that wise was because Joseph did not present himself as the person to be put in charge. Joseph did not present his plan as a vehicle for advancing himself. He presented it as the best way to deal with the coming disaster.