Life of Joseph – Part 11 – Actions Speak Loudly

Joseph’s saga continues. In today’s verses, Potiphar comes home and his wife tells him the same story she told the male servants about Joseph’s alleged attack.

Here are the verses. See if you notice anything odd about her behavior.


Genesis 39:16-19 / Amplified Bible

16 And she laid up his garment by her until his master came home.

17 Then she told him the same story, saying, The Hebrew servant whom you brought among us came to me to mock and insult me.

18 And when I screamed and cried, he left his garment with me and fled out [of the house].

19 And when [Joseph’s] master heard the words of his wife, saying to him, This is the way your servant treated me, his wrath was kindled.


I don’t know about you, but if someone assaulted me, I think the last thing I would be doing all day would be clinging to the jacket they left behind. Potiphar’s wife is acting more like a rejected lover in mourning than someone who’s been attacked. Oh, wait. She was rejected. She wasn’t attacked.

The truths I found were a continuation of last week’s “how to sell a lie” seminar.

1. To sell a lie, take the evidence of innocence and twist it so it appears to be evidence of guilt.

2. Just repeat the same rehearsed lines over and over to garner more support and argue your case.

My Commentary:

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about how to discern the truth about a person . . . who they really are, what they’re really like, what you can expect from them in the future. It’s interesting because I’ve been hearing this from a variety of sources for a variety of situations. It works in the relationship realm, the business world, and even in the church.

It’s a simple formula, if you want to call it that. It’s not really hard to do, but it does take some time. The only problem I see with it is that you have to actually WANT to know the truth. I think that’s the kicker. Because once you know the truth, then you have a decision to make.

Dr. Phil’s been talking about it. I’ve heard sermons on the subject. And I’ve read countless business articles discussing it.  They all say the same thing . . . .

Don’t just listen to what people say. Watch what they do.

Isn’t that simple? And it’s so true.

People SAY a lot of things.

We say we’re going to accomplish certain things. But a lot of them don’t get done. We say we’re going to change in certain ways. But how much change actually takes place? We say we’re going to work at something and get certain results, but our timeline for getting it done moves further and further away. We say we’re a certain type of person, but our actions say just the opposite.

Whether it’s trying to figure out someone you’re in a relationship with or are contemplating one with. Or whether you need to know the ethics of a potential business associate. Or if you have some questions about a spiritual leader you’ve been listening to who sounds really good.

Watch. What. They. Do.

This doesn’t mean their words are meaningless. It just means their words are meaningless . . . if there’s no follow-through.

People can talk a good game. But if they continually “do” something that doesn’t fit with what they “say,” or “say” things that don’t fit with what they “do,” then you may want to rethink how close a relationship you want with them.

Potiphar’s wife was clinging to the robe of the man she was accusing of attempted rape. Her actions didn’t match her words.

How well do ours match?

Life of Joseph – Part 10 – How to “Sell” a Lie

Sometimes I’m blown away by the relevance of scripture. Today is one of those days.

The truths I found in these verses can probably be found in the headlines of recent newspapers.

Not that I read newspapers . . . or watch the news. I rarely do. I know some people call that sticking your head in the sand, but I call it keeping my head sane! I figure if it affects me, someone will tell me. And if not, I’d rather keep a more positive outlook on life. And I can’t do that if I watch the news every day. Maybe that’s just me.

I share that because when you read this, you may think I’m trying to make a particular point. Possibly a political point. Or a judicial point. Or even a religious point.

The truth is, I’m not. This post is about what I learned from my study after asking the Holy Spirit to show me the truths in this portion of scripture.

This part of Joseph’s story is found in Genesis 39:11-15. To catch you up in case you’ve missed anything, Joseph has been sold by his brothers and then taken to Egypt where he’s sold again as a slave and ends up being bought by Potiphar, the captain and chief executioner in Pharaoh’s army. Joseph apparently does a great job and wins the trust of Potiphar, because at this point in the story, he’s been put in charge of Potiphar’s entire household.

However, Potiphar’s wife REALLY likes Joseph. Apparently he’s good-looking and she’s been trying to seduce him . . . but to no avail.  That catches you up to today’s verses where Joseph finds himself in the house alone with Potiphar’s wife. Here’s what happened.


Genesis 39:11-15 / Amplified Bible (AMP)

11 Then it happened about this time that Joseph went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the men of the house were indoors. 12 And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me! But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out [of the house].

13 And when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled away, 14 She called to the men of her household and said to them, Behold, he [your master] has brought in a Hebrew to us to mock and insult us; he came in where I was to lie with me, and I screamed at the top of my voice.

15 And when he heard me screaming and crying, he left his garment with me and fled and got out of the house.


Here are the truths I saw:

In order to “sell” a lie, people will sometimes:

(1) Manipulate unusual alliances: Potiphar’s wife and the male household servants make a very strange “team”–notice when she’s talking to them, she says “us”.

(2) Find a common enemy: Potiphar’s wife designated her husband, the servants’ Master, as their common enemy–she says, look what HE’S done to US, and . . .

(3) Play the race card: she calls Joseph “that Hebrew slave”–just to remind them that Joseph was different from the “us” she just created.

3. Application Questions:

When have I ever tried to sell a lie?

What did I do to get people to believe me?

When has someone tried to sell a lie to me?

What tactics did they use?


My Commentary:

Potiphar’s wife was vindictive. Joseph had rejected her attempts at seduction on numerous occasions, and now I think she’s just plain mad. He wouldn’t play so she wants him to pay. Holding his cloak in her hand, she realizes she has the perfect opportunity to frame him and make him pay dearly for rejecting her. But she probably knows if she doesn’t do something quickly, it could boil down to “he said, she said.”

I don’t know how that would have turned out for her, but she apparently didn’t trust her odds. So she did what any red-blooded American Egyptian would do. She went to work fabricating a story and creating the machinery she needed to “sell” it to her husband . . . someone who could DEFINITELY make Joseph pay.

But she needed some allies and they needed an enemy–an “us” versus a “them.” I don’t know why she chose the male servants. Possibly the support of female servants, in that age, would not have carried much weight. Or the females could have known the truth about the situation.

In order to have the male servants as her allies in this fight, she had to find a common enemy. I guess she could have chosen Joseph . . . since he was the one she was accusing of attempted rape. But that still could have ended up being a “he said, they said” scenario that she still could have lost.

So she chose Potiphar as the enemy. She accused him of being the person responsible for what happened because he was the one who brought Joseph into the house in the first place. Then she included her new allies in her argument: YOUR master brought this foreigner in to mock “US” and insult “US”. She includes them with her in the alleged mistreatment. So instead of it being Joseph vs. Potiphar’s wife (which would have been tough enough for Joseph),  it’s now Joseph vs. Potiphar’s wife plus all the other male servants . . . people who weren’t even there to know what really happened.

Joseph may have mocked and insulted the other male servants, but I think Potiphar’s wife was just trying to pull them into the fight. Like she did when she talked about how she screamed at the top of her lungs–which she didn’t. But by talking about telling her husband that she screamed, she probably “encouraged” the servants to go along with her story, or else face consequences for not running to her rescue or not staying close enough to the house to even hear her screams.

And she also plays the “race card.” She reminded the other servants that Joseph was a foreigner, different from them, he was “that Hebrew slave.” And “that Hebrew slave” had been promoted above all of them until he was now in complete control of Potiphar’s household . . . including THEM. Joseph–not one of them–had been given that responsibility by her husband, their master.

And now she’s making it look like Joseph has been abusing his power.

I’m not sure the male servants believed her story or if they just felt coerced to go along with it.

I’m not even sure that Potiphar bought her story. But I’m sure he felt he had no other choice but to get Joseph out of the house.


The tactics that Potiphar’s wife used to “sell” her lie to Potiphar are still popular today.

They’re practiced in every area of human life and on every level.

From the playing field to the political arena.

From the corporate world to the church body.

On both sides of the aisle in courtrooms across our country.

And on a daily basis in mainstream media.

Instead of telling the truth and taking responsibility for what’s been done, a lot of people want to save face and “look good” . . . so they do whatever it takes–up to and including framing and punishing innocent people.

And the lies get so elaborate that it has become extremely difficult to discern the truth anymore. But maybe we can take some cues from this ancient story.


Tips for Unmasking a Lie

1. Look for unusual alliances. These can be individuals and/or groups of people who aren’t usually on the same side of issues–possibly very powerful individuals pulling in groups with less power–like Potiphar’s wife and the male servants.

2. Take note of their common enemy. This enemy won’t necessarily have anything to do with the original incident. Instead it’s a way to draw attention away from the real issue, which in this situation was: What really happened between Potiphar’s wife and Joseph?

3. And watch for the race card. It’s been played on every side of every fence and is typically used to incite even more anger against the alleged injustice–when race [in this particular situation] had nothing to do with the original incident, but could potentially help “sell” the lie.

The biggest problem I see today is that even though we realize SOMEONE may be trying to “sell” us a lie, there are so many pots being added to the mix and so much stirring being done, that the truth is all but impossible to find in the resulting smoke.

God help us.

Life of Joseph – Part 9 – Promotion’s Partner

Joseph is now in charge of Potiphar’s household. Not too bad for a mere slave. But his promotion didn’t come alone. It came with some very intense temptation. Let’s see how Joseph handles it.

Genesis 39:6b-10 / Contemporary English Version (CEV)

Joseph was well-built and handsome, and Potiphar’s wife soon noticed him. She asked him to make love to her, but he refused and said, “My master isn’t worried about anything in his house, because he has placed me in charge of everything he owns. No one in my master’s house is more important than I am. The only thing he hasn’t given me is you, and that’s because you are his wife. I won’t sin against God by doing such a terrible thing as this.” 10 She kept begging Joseph day after day, but he refused to do what she wanted or even to go near her.


1. Our promotions will bring with them different kinds of temptation.

2. God can promote us no matter what our status (slave) or location (foreign country) or age (young). He can put us in charge of and with access to more than we’ve earned, if we’re faithful to Him and do excellent work.

3. Our betrayal of anyone is a sin against God — not just against the people we wrong.

4. Our refusal to yield to temptation doesn’t mean the temptation will stop or even diminish.

5. As the temptation continues or increases, our tactics need to change. (Don’t listen, move away and stay away.)


Joseph’s brothers had betrayed him and I’m sure he could still remember the pain. I don’t think Joseph wanted to cause anyone that kind of hurt, so he refused to betray his master. But I don’t think that was the only reason.

And I don’t think Joseph refused simply because getting caught would cost him his position . . . possibly even his life.

Even in his current situation, and after all he’d already been through, I think Joseph still believed God had a divine purpose for his life. I also think Joseph still believed the dreams God had given him earlier in his life. And I don’t think Joseph wanted to derail them.

When our God-given dreams aren’t working out exactly like we thought they would, or it looks like it’s going to take a lot longer than we expected, we need to keep them fresh on our mind. We need to continue doing what our current position requires while continuing to focus our faith on where God is leading us. That’s a very fine line to walk . . . but Joseph is an excellent example of how to do it.

Application Questions:

1. What different temptations have I faced as a result of being promoted?

2. When have I been tempted to betray someone?

3. When has God promoted me beyond what I deserved?

4. What has He given me access to that I haven’t earned?

5. What temptation has continued despite my refusal to yield?

6. What tactics do I need to change so I can continue to refuse the temptation?