The main character is Joseph. Joseph was a good guy. He was an Israelite and he'd had some rough times, having been hated by his brothers and sold into slavery, but he held his own and maintained. God loved him and he loved God, I'm telling you... Joseph was a good guy.
He caught a break and got a job working for Potiphar, who was an Egyptian and one of the Pharaoh's highest officials. (Pharaoh was the king.) Joseph liked the job, was appreciative to Potiphar, and probably thought that things were finally looking up for him. Then...
He caught the eye of Potiphar's wife. The Bible doesn't give her a name, she's just identified as Potiphar's wife. This woman REALLY liked Joseph and arranged a time to get him to her home, all alone, and her plan was to seduce him. But it didn't work.
Joseph rejected her advances. How embarrassing! This most likely caused this woman a lot of shame. After all, her husband was a big and important man around town, I doubt she heard many "no's" in her life. But Joseph told her no. And as he was fleeing from her presence (the imagery makes me cringe and laugh at the same time), she managed to grab a piece of his clothing. Joseph knew this, but he didn't go back, he just kept running. The wife told her husband that Joseph had seduced her, showing this garment as proof, and Joseph lost his job and was thrown into jail.
"Bad Girls of the Bible" makes several interesting points about this story, I encourage you to read it for yourself. But two points stood out most boldly to me as I read this story:
Point Number One: How Embarrassing! I can only imagine how Potiphar's wife felt when the lowly Hebrew boy told her "no." But I wonder if she learned anything from that experience... or did she continue doing things the way she'd always done them?
Since she tried to cover up her part in the unfortunate situation, my guess is that she continued doing the same old things, the same old way. But what a missed opportunity for a turnaround!
Sometimes things happen to us that are hurtful or shocking or embarrassing to teach us a lesson, to show us another way, and to keep us from making the same mistake over and over again.
Point Number Two: How Embarrassing! Joseph probably thought he had it made in the shade. He was no longer in that ditch his brothers had left him in (read the story), he had a job, he was living right, he was doing good, and then. Then this older woman who appeared to have come out of nowhere turned his life upside down. WHAT?
I know he was hurt and shocked and embarrassed. How could God let this mess happen to him, after all he'd already been through? He'd been proudly telling people about his God and where was his God when he needed him? It made him look like a fake, a phony who was believing in a God who didn't exist. If Joseph was around today, and had he been a woman named Josephine, he'd be a grown up church girl! Cause he would need a minute to process the fact that after all of his dedication to God, this tragedy had happened to him due to no fault of his own. Heck, Joseph could have written that book about bad things happening to good people, right?
But Joseph just kept being Joseph. He kept trusting God, kept doing the right things and was eventually rewarded with a position even better than the one he lost.
Whether we're Potiphar's wife or Joseph, I'm sure you can relate to feelings of hurt or shock or embarrassment as you go through life, doing what you do, being who you are. The lesson I take from this is to mindful of the lesson embedded in those situations and to try my best to learn from them. Now, for the sake of discussion...
Why do you think the Bible fails to give us the name of Potiphar's wife? Why doesn't she have a name? Are there times in your life when you feel as though your name or your true identity gets hidden behind something you've said or done?