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WICKED WOMEN OF THE BIBLE
By Delbert Young

3. POTIPHAR'S WIFE

Potiphar's wife Wicked women of the bible

(sermon video audio page)

We continue our series on Wicked Women of the Bible. Again, I do not intend our series to be a put down on women. Men and women have wickedness, but women face wickedness men will not face. Women are the primary target in the home as we saw with Eve. Women are a powerful guiding influence as we saw with Lot's wife. The goal of the series is to help us all identify wickedness, but especially help you women not to be a Wicked Woman.

I don't know how long our series will last. I want to study some women we don't hear much about. You've heard about Jezebel and Delilah, so I want to study some lesser discussed women known for their wickedness. Therefore, today we'll look at a bad to the bone wicked woman. The Bible doesn't give her a name. She's simply known as "Potiphar's Wife." She has one big scene in the Bible. After it, we don't hear from her again. Her opening line in her one big scene is profound and tells us much about her.

Genesis 39:7 and after a while his master's wife took notice of Joseph and said, "COME TO BED WITH ME!"

In order to get to our wicked vixen we will need to do a little history on her victim. Most of you have heard about Joseph. He's the boy with the coat of many colors given him by his father Jacob. Jacob had twelve sons by four women. He married two of his first cousins who were sisters and they, the wives, gave Jacob two concubines. All four women, Jacob, twelve sons, and a daughter lived together in an extremely dysfunctional family complete with hate, violence, murder, and incest. A severe seven-year famine was coming only God knew about. It would kill everything including God's people, but God had a plan. It was to get Joseph to Egypt. Then through a crazy series of events, Joseph became Vizier over Egypt and saved his family, meaning saving God's people and the eventual nation.

Do you believe God can, will, and does do this today? Can God take you or me and use us to change the entire course of history for our families. Yes, he can and he's doing it this very moment. If you're a child of God following God's plan for you, you are changing the history of your family.

Joseph's brothers hated him not only because he was their father's obvious favorite with his special robe proclaiming he would never work as they did. They also hated him because Joseph had obnoxious dreams of the entire family bowing to him. One day Joseph's father sent him to check on his brothers and the brothers took vengeance. They threw Joseph into a pit. They were going to kill him, but instead sold Joseph to slave traders and Joseph ended up in Egypt right on God's schedule.

Genesis 39:1-4 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. POTIPHAR, AN EGYPTIAN WHO WAS ONE OF PHARAOH'S OFFICIALS, THE CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there. THE LORD WAS WITH JOSEPH AND HE PROSPERED, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that THE LORD WAS WITH HIM and that THE LORD GAVE HIM SUCCESS in everything he did, JOSEPH FOUND FAVOR IN HIS EYES AND BECAME HIS ATTENDANT. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned.

Potiphar was the captain of the bodyguards for Pharaoh. He was a bad dude. His position would demand it. He was an important official. Everyone knew Potiphar and, oh yes, his wife. He was well off with an estate and Potiphar was a wise man and seemingly good judge of character except, as we will see, for his wife.

The Lord was with Joseph becomes a constant theme in Joseph's life. Later, the Lord will be with Joseph in prison (Gen 39:21-23). Sometimes we just don't understand what's happening in our lives. Your brothers throw you in a pit, sell you to child traffickers, you end up in Egypt as a slave, you can't speak a word of their language, but the Lord was with Joseph. God will bless you in your mess and maybe, just maybe God, not the devil, put you in your mess to bless you and your posterity.

Joseph quickly moved up in position from a common slave to Potiphar's attendant. Joseph had to have lived a very open, godly, worshipful life toward God for Potiphar to recognize the Lord was with Joseph. Everyone knew Joseph was genuine about his faith, but Joseph's faith, youth, innocence, and purity became a target of wickedness.

Genesis 39:6-7 ...Now JOSEPH WAS WELL-BUILT AND HANDSOME, and after a while his master's wife TOOK NOTICE OF JOSEPH and said, "COME TO BED WITH ME!"

There's her opening line. Beyond being righteous, an excellent leader, excellent manager, innocent, and pure, Joseph had "curb appeal" for women. The Bible speaks of only five men in this manner: Joseph; King Saul; King David; and David's two sons, Absalom and Adonijah, but Joseph was the complete package.

How old was Joseph? He was seventeen when he went to Egypt (Gen 37:2). He's slightly older now, but he's still a very young man. He was forbidden fruit! Joseph was a Hebrew, but a pretty perfumed Hebrew. Mrs. Potiphar was used to getting anything she wanted and what she wanted was young Joseph. It should be easy for who seems to be an experienced nymphomaniac. Joseph was a young man with testosterone raging in his body. He would be easy pickings.

The story is thirty-seven centuries old, but is as current as today's news. It's the story of a married woman looking for younger and greener excitement. In Hollywood's The Graduate, she's "Mrs. Robinson." In the news, she's possibly your son's teacher. She's a female pedophile. The scriptures astound us with her audacity for thirty-seven hundred years. The Bible simply calls her "his master's wife." We refer to her as "Potiphar's wife." Seems the Bible would give the name of a woman of such daring audacity, but it's her wickedness remembered, not her name. The name is irrelevant.

Liz Curtis Higgs said in Bad Girls of the Bible, "More than a hundred women are simply described in Scripture as the 'daughter of,' 'wife of,' 'witch of,' 'woman of,' 'concubine of,' 'widow of,' 'nurse of,' 'Queen of,' and, naturally, the 'mother of.'" Women, you are probably described and defined as "Some man's wife," or "Your child's mother." People will remember you for what you do far more than your name. What she wants to do is get Joseph in her bed. This is exactly how she is remembered.

Genesis 39:8-9 But he REFUSED. "With me in charge," he told her, "my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a WICKED THING and sin against God?"

He refused her advances and explained why. He respected his master and appreciated all Potiphar had done for him, but far more important and beyond this, it was a wicked thing and sin against God.

Genesis 39:10 And though she spoke to Joseph DAY AFTER DAY, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.

"As the song (sort of) says: 'And here's to you, Mrs. Potiphar; Joseph loathes you more than you will know. Whoa, whoa, whoa.'" It wasn't a weak moment she had. It was a day after day moment she had. She was a wicked woman who wouldn't take no for an answer in her attempt to seduce a very young man.

Genesis 39:11-12 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, "COME TO BED WITH ME!" But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.

She wasn't discrete and maybe the closest woman to being a nymphomaniac in the scriptures. It seems more so than Delilah or any other. The cloak thing keeps getting Joseph in trouble. First, his cloak of many colors caused him trouble with his brothers and now his attendant cloak will cause him problems with Potiphar.

Genesis 39:13-15 When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, she called her household servants. "Look," she said to them, "this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, BUT I SCREAMED. When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house."

She screamed? Did anyone hear a scream? Joseph may have screamed, but I don't think she screamed.

Genesis 39:16-18 She kept his cloak beside her until HIS MASTER came home. Then she told him this story: "That Hebrew slave YOU BROUGHT US came to me to make sport of me. But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house."

It's Joseph's master, not her husband. She wanted "his master," the one Joseph rejected her over to see the cloak. She'd show Joseph. Vengeance! How wicked! She accused the innocent Joseph of what she herself was guilty. A wicked woman scorned is a terrifying event. "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!" "Reject me and be faithful to him will you! We'll see about that! Let's see your God get you out of this one." Wicked women do not take rejection well.

Genesis 39:19-21 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, "This is how YOUR SLAVE treated me," he burned with anger. Joseph's master took him and put him in prison, THE PLACE WHERE THE KING'S PRISONERS WERE CONFINED. But while Joseph was there in the prison, THE LORD WAS WITH HIM; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.

It was Potiphar's fault, not her fault. "Your fault! Your fault!" It seems Potiphar might know his wife a little better than thought. At who did Potiphar's anger burn? The scriptures do not tell us, but what Joseph was accused of doing - a Hebrew slave attempting to rape an Egyptian woman - would be certain death in their society. Instead, Joseph was put in the place where the king's prisoners were confined," not incarcerated. It probably wasn't much different from where he was with Potiphar. It was a cushion job and before long, Joseph was running the prison. It's here in prison Joseph will interpret dreams and eventually he will interpret a dream for Pharaoh thrusting Joseph into prominence putting Joseph as Vizier of Egypt and equal to Pharaoh over the entire nation (Gen 44:18).

We know what became of Joseph, but what became of Mrs. Potiphar? We don't know other than people remember her through out eternity for the wickedness she did. A few years later Joseph became Vizier. I would imagine the vixen trembled and perhaps even Potiphar. Did Joseph execute vengeance? No. Joseph saw everything as God's plan to save his family (Gen 45:5-10) and the eventual nation. What does happen to these type wicked women? Do you know any? They are miserable people and never satisfied. They see men as conquests. People remember these women for what they do. They're marked. Their husband cannot trust them. They are an embarrassment to their children. Other women do not want to be around them. The warning to women is don't be like Potiphar's wife. "So here's to you Mrs. Potiphar... Whoa, whoa, whoa."

Higgs, Liz Curtis (2004-01-20). Bad Girls of the Bible: And What We Can Learn From Them (p. 48). The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Higgs, Liz Curtis (2004-01-20). Bad Girls of the Bible: And What We Can Learn From Them (p. 52). The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Quote was attributed to Wm. Shakespeare, but actually comes from a play called, "The Mourning Bride" (1697), by William Congreve.

 

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