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Genesis 39:5

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible
Verses 1-23

- Joseph in Potiphar‘s House

According to our reckoning, Perez and Zerah were born when Judah was in his twenty-eighth year, and therefore, Joseph in his twenty-fourth. Here, then, we go back seven years to resume the story of Joseph.

Genesis 39:1-6

Joseph fares well with his first master. “Potiphar.” This is a racapitulation of the narrative in Genesis 12:3. “Beautiful in form and look” Genesis 29:17. This prepares the way for the following occurrence.

Genesis 39:7-10

Joseph resists the daily solicitations of his master‘s wife to lie with her. “None greater in this house than I.” He pleads the unreserved trust his master had reposed in him. He is bound by the law of honor, the law of chastity (this great evil), and the law of piety (sin against God). Joseph uses the common name of God in addressing this Egyptian. He could employ no higher pleas than the above.

Genesis 39:11-18

“At this day,” the day on which the occurrence now to be related took place. “To do his business.” He does not come in her way except at the call of duty. He hath brought in. She either does not condescend, or does not need to name her husband. “A Hebrew to mock us.” Her disappointment now provokes her to falsehood as the means of concealment and revenge. A Hebrew is still the only national designation proper to Joseph Genesis 14:13. Jacob‘s descendants had not got beyond the family. The term Israelite was therefore, not yet in use. The national name is designedly used as a term of reproach among the Egyptians Genesis 43:32. “To mock us,” - to take improper liberties, not only with me, but with any of the females in the house. “I cried with a loud voice.” This is intended to be the proof of her innocence Deuteronomy 22:24, Deuteronomy 22:27. “Left his garments by me;” not in her hand, which would have been suspicious.

Genesis 39:19-23

Her husband believes her story and naturally resents the supposed unfaithfulness of his slave. His treatment of him is mild. He puts him in ward, probably to stand his trial for the offence. The Lord does not forsake the prisoner. He gives him favor with the governor of the jail. The same unlimited trust is placed in him by the governor as by his late master.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Our enemies may strip us of outward distinctions and ornaments; but wisdom and grace cannot be taken from us. They may separate us from friends, relatives, and country; but they cannot take from us the presence of the Lord. They may shut us from outward blessings, rob us of liberty, and confine us in dungeons; but they cannot shut us out from communion with God, from the throne of grace, or take from us the blessings of salvation. Joseph was blessed, wonderfully blessed, even in the house where he was a slave. God's presence with us, makes all we do prosperous. Good men are the blessings of the place where they live; good servants may be so, though mean and lightly esteemed. The prosperity of the wicked is, one way or other, for the sake of the godly. Here was a wicked family blessed for the sake of one good servant in it.
Ellen G. White
My Life Today, 120

In the history of Joseph, Daniel, and his fellows we see how the golden chain of truth may bind the youth to the throne of God. They could not be tempted to turn aside from their course of integrity. They valued the favor of God far above the favor and praise of princes, and God loved them, and spread His shield over them. Because of their faithful integrity, because of their determination to honor God above every human power, the Lord signally honored them before men. They were honored by the Lord God of hosts, whose power is over all the works of His hand in heaven above and the earth beneath. These youth were not ashamed to display their true colors. Even in the court of the king, in their words, their habits, their practices, they confessed their faith in the Lord God of heaven. They refused to bow to any earthly mandate that detracted from the honor of God. They had strength from heaven to confess their allegiance to God.... ML 120.2

Never be ashamed of your colors; put them up, unfurl them to the gaze of men and angels.... The world has a right to know just what may be expected from every intelligent human being. He who is a living embodiment of firm, decided, righteous principles will be a living power upon his associates; and he will influence others by his Christianity. Many do not discern and appreciate how great is the influence of each one for good or evil.... ML 120.3

Your happiness for this life and for the future, immortal life lies with yourself.... How important it is that everyone shall consider where he is leading souls. We are in view of the eternal world, and how diligently we should count the cost of our influence. ML 120.4

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Ellen G. White
Messages to Young People, 27-8

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Many of our youth do not feel the necessity of bringing their powers into vigorous exercise to do their best at all times and under all circumstances. They do not have the fear of God before their eyes, and their thoughts are not pure and elevated. MYP 27.1

All heaven is cognizant of every thought and every action. Your actions may be unseen by your associates, but they are all open to the inspection of angels. The angels are commissioned to minister unto those who are striving to overcome every wrong habit, and stand clear from the devices of Satan. MYP 27.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 321

There is earnest work to be done in this age, and parents should educate their children to share in it. The words of Mordecai to Esther may apply to the men and youth of today: “Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Young men should be gaining solidity of character, that they may be fitted for usefulness. Daniel and Joseph were youth of firm principle, whom God could use to carry out His purposes. Mark their history, and see how God wrought for them. Joseph met with a variety of experiences, experiences that tested his courage and uprightness to the fullest extent. After being sold into Egypt he was at first favored and entrusted with great responsibilities; but suddenly, without any fault on his part, he was unjustly accused and cast into prison. But he is not discouraged. He trusts in God; and the purpose of his heart, the purity of his motive, is made manifest. The eye of God is upon him, a divine hand leads him, and soon we see him come forth from prison to share the throne of Egypt. 5T 321.1

Joseph's checkered life was not an accident; it was ordered of Providence. But how was he enabled to make such a record of firmness of character, uprightness, and wisdom? It was the result of careful training in his early years. He had consulted duty rather than inclination; and the purity and simple trust of the boy bore fruit in the deeds of the man. The most brilliant talents are of no value unless they are improved; industrious habits and force of character must be gained by cultivation. A high moral character and fine mental qualities are not the result of accident. God gives opportunities; success depends upon the use made of them. The openings of Providence must be quickly discerned and eagerly seized upon. 5T 321.2

Young men, if you would be strong, if you would have the integrity and wisdom of a Joseph or a Daniel, study the Scriptures. Parents, if you would educate your children to serve God and do good in the world, make the Bible your textbook. It exposes the wiles of Satan. It is the great elevator of the race, the reprover and corrector of moral evils, the detector which enables us to distinguish between the true and the false. Whatever else is taught in the home or at school, the Bible, as the great educator, should stand first. If it is given this place, God is honored, and He will work for you in the conversion of your children. There is a rich mine of truth and beauty in this Holy Book, and parents have themselves to blame if they do not make it intensely interesting to their children. 5T 321.3

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Ellen G. White
Sons and Daughters of God, 320

Joseph regarded his being sold into Egypt as the greatest calamity that could have befallen him; but he saw the necessity of trusting in God as he had never done when protected by his father's love. Joseph brought God with him into Egypt, and the fact was made apparent by his cheerful demeanor amid his sorrow. As the ark of God brought rest and prosperity to Israel, so did this God-loving, God-fearing youth bring a blessing to Egypt. This was manifested in so marked a manner that Potiphar, in whose house he served, attributed all his blessings to his purchased slave.21The Youth's Instructor, March 11, 1897. SD 320.2

Joseph's religion kept his temper sweet and his sympathy with humanity warm and strong, notwithstanding all his trials. There are those who if they feel they are not rightly used, become sour, ungenerous, crabbed and uncourteous in their words and deportment. They sink down discouraged, hateful and hating others. But Joseph was a Christian. No sooner does he enter upon prison life, than he brings all the brightness of his Christian principles into active exercise; he begins to make himself useful to others. He enters into the troubles of his fellow prisoners. He is cheerful, for he is a Christian gentleman. God was preparing him under this discipline for a situation of great responsibility, honor, and usefulness, and he was willing to learn; he took kindly to the lessons the Lord would teach him. He learned to bear the yoke in his youth. He learned to govern by first learning obedience himself.... SD 320.3

The part which Joseph acted in connection with the scenes of the gloomy prison, was that which raised him finally to prosperity and honor. God designed that he should obtain an experience by temptations, adversity, and hardships, to prepare him to fill an exalted position. Joseph carried his religion everywhere, and this was the secret of his unwavering fidelity.22The S.D.A. Bible Commentary 1:1097. SD 320.4

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Ellen G. White
Christ's Object Lessons, 350

God has proclaimed the principles on which alone this co-operation is possible. His glory must be the motive of all who are laborers together with Him. All our work is to be done from love to God and in accordance with His will. COL 350.1

It is just as essential to do the will of God when erecting a building as when taking part in a religious service. And if the workers have brought the right principles into their own character making, then in the erection of every building they will grow in grace and knowledge. COL 350.2

But God will not accept the greatest talents or the most splendid service unless self is laid upon the altar, a living, consuming sacrifice. The root must be holy, else there can be no fruit acceptable to God. COL 350.3

The Lord made Daniel and Joseph shrewd managers. He could work through them because they did not live to please their own inclination but to please God. COL 350.4

The case of Daniel has a lesson for us. It reveals the fact that a businessman is not necessarily a sharp, policy man. He can be instructed by God at every step. Daniel, while prime minister of the kingdom of Babylon, was a prophet of God, receiving the light of heavenly inspiration. Worldly, ambitious statesmen are represented in the word of God as the grass that groweth up and as the flower of the grass that fadeth. Yet the Lord desires to have in His service intelligent men, men qualified for various lines of work. There is need of businessmen who will weave the grand principles of truth into all their transactions. And their talents should be perfected by most thorough study and training. If men in any line of work need to improve their opportunities to become wise and efficient, it is those who are using their ability in building up the kingdom of God in our world. Of Daniel we learn that in all his business transactions, when subjected to the closest scrutiny, not one fault or error could be found. He was a sample of what every businessman may be. His history shows what may be accomplished by one who consecrates the strength of brain and bone and muscle, of heart and life, to the service of God. COL 350.5

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Ellen G. White
The Story of Redemption, 101-3

“And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.” SR 101.1

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