Genesis 39:9

These occurrences in the family of Judah would seem

(1) to betoken the retributive judgment of God, and

(2) illustrate his grace. Joseph is lost, and still Divinely protected. Judah is a wanderer from his brethren; a sensual, self-willed, degenerate man; yet it is in the line of this same wanderer that the promised seed shall appear. The whole is a lesson on the evil of separation from the people of God. Luther asks why such things were placed in Scripture, and answers,

(1) That no one should be self-righteous, and

(2) that no one should despair, and

(3) to remind us that Gentiles by natural right are brothers, mother, sisters to our Lord; the word of salvation is a word for the whole world. - R.

How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?
We are accustomed to admire the mere act of resistance to temptation, by whomsoever and howsoever offered. But there is a vast difference between the ways in which temptation is resisted. Some, knowing the thing desired of them to be essentially wrong, have recourse to cowardly shifts and evasions. They are unable to comply; thus much they will answer; but for this inability they will render all sorts of secondary and insufficient reasons, and keep back the right one. How very different from this weak and ineffectual course is the refusal of one who fearlessly states at once the right and master reason why he should not yield to temptation: "How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" One of the lowest advantages of the brave and decided course is that such a person has the least trouble after all. His place is ascertained; his colours are shown. He is no waverer, and the crowd of busy mischief-makers cease from him and let him alone. The noble words of our text let us into the whole secret of endurance.

I. The answer of Joseph implies A SENSE OF DIRECT ACCOUNTABLENESS TO GOD. This sense of responsibility leads at once to a truer estimate of right and wrong. While we tarry on the level of the world's maxims and habits, and try to decide our line of conduct, many a matter seems ambiguous and difficult to determine; but rise to the throne of God, and look down from thence, and all is clear. Oh for that second and better nature, sprung from the habit of seeing God in everything, which, when doubts, when questionings, when temptations arise, asks counsel at once of Him, runs into the strong tower of His name, and is safe.

II. This answer implies A SENSE OF SIN. Sin is a word of which the world knows not the meaning. Men must know what God is, or they cannot know what sin is. When Joseph spoke of sinning against God, he used this term of a positive and definite God, who had manifested Himself, and with whom he was in covenant. To sin against Him, to break His positive command, was to reject and despise his covenant God; to tread under foot His promises and His mercies.

III. This reply shows that TRUE COURAGE AND SEASONABLE BOLDNESS which ever characterize the genuine soldier of heaven. In every occupation of life, in all intercourse, in toil and in recreation, our Christian armour should be worn, and never be laid aside. The moment our allegiance is tested, the moment that the world requires what God forbids or forbids what God requires, we must stand to our arms, and admit no thought of a surrender.

(Dean Alford.)


1. His youth.

2. The force of opportunity.

3. The prospect of advancement which his compliance would secure.

4. The repetition of the temptation (ver. 10).


1. He pleads the law of honour.

2. He pleads the law of chastity.

3. He pleads the law of piety.


1. Obtained by flight.

2. Obtained through loss.

(T. H. Leale.)


1. It came on Joseph when he was dwelling among a nation of idolaters, away from the restraints of home and the influence of his father and grandfather, by which he had been accustomed to be regulated. If, therefore, his piety had been a mere conventional thing, he would certainly have yielded, as many others in like circumstances have done. Which of us has not known cases of youths who at home were reputable and well behaved, but who, when they have gone to another city or another land, where they were entirely unknown to those by whom they were surrounded, have run riot in iniquity, and excused themselves by quoting the debasing proverb that "when we are in Rome we must do as they do at Rome"? But Joseph was not a youth of that sort. His piety was not a matter of longitude and latitude. He believed in God, and sought to serve Him in all places and in all cases; and he did in Egypt precisely as he would have done, in like circumstances, in Canaan.

2. Again, this temptation which came upon him thus, when he was away from all external support, took him in two points of his nature at one and the same time. It appealed to appetite; and if Paul thought it needful to say to Timothy, who was a young man of rather ascetic habits, devoted to the ministry of the gospel, and surrounded by all wholesome influences, "flee also youthful lusts," we may well believe that Joseph was not insensible to its force in that particular. But that was not its most seductive aspect, as I believe, to him. For the entering into this intrigue meant also for him the putting of Potiphar ultimately out of the way, and his own elevation, in an easy and speedy fashion, to his master's place. That must be clear to all acquainted with Eastern life.

II. Nor can we help remarking on THE GROUNDS WHEREON HE BASED HIS CONDUCT, for they show as really his fidelity to man as his loyalty to God. He could not be guilty of treachery against Potiphar, or of sin against God. His own pleasure or elevation would be too dearly purchased by ingratitude to one who had placed such unlimited confidence in him, and no gratification could to him be lasting which dishonoured God.


1. When we have unusual blessing we may look for severe temptation.

2. When temptation takes us, we must resist it with a strong and decided No, and carefully take ourselves out of its range. It is dangerous to drive restive horses near the edge of a precipice; it is dangerous to bring gunpowder near the fire; it is dangerous to come near an adder's fang; and it is equally so with these fallen natures of ours to approach temptation. Therefore "avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it and pass away." But the merely negative attitude will, after all, be weak, and so I stay here a moment longer to add that the best means of saying "no" to sin is to say "yes" with the whole heart to the Lord Jesus Christ. If you wish to dispel the darkness you will bring in a light; if you desire to kill weeds most effectively you will sow the ground with wholesome grass; and in like manner, if you would keep evil out of your hearts you must get the Lord Jesus Christ into them.

3. We should not be surprised to find that our adherence to the right is followed at first by great hardship. But when we find ourselves in such circumstances, what is to be done? Nothing, but wait God's time and persevere in our integrity. We must not judge God for what we see of His providence on a small scale. We must take wide views of it, and when we do that we shall find that in the long run He brings forth men's righteousness as the light and their judgment as the noonday, so that the evil-doer is punished and the virtuous man rewarded.

(William M. Taylor, D. D.)

I. Joseph DID WELL when he incurred his master's displeasure, and lost his honourable and responsible situation.

II. Joseph's resistance of the temptation by which he was tried, is wonderfully instructive. HE REFUSED. He does not appear either to have parleyed with temptation, or conferred a moment with flesh and blood.

III. Observe further, it was not one single temptation which Joseph had to withstand. It is said of his tempter, SHE SPOKE UNTO HIM DAY BY DAY. But it was all in vain. That principle is eminently strong which can resist repeated and continual solicitation to transgress. As the constant dropping wears away the hard stone; so the firmest resolution is sometimes worn out before never-ending temptation. But almost in every instance, where this has been the case, there has been either undue self-confidence, or a want of due circumspection and watchfulness.

IV. Look, in the next place, at THE TEMPORAL CONSEQUENCES TO JOSEPH OF HIS UPRIGHT DEALING. His wicked tempter became his false accuser.

V. Look now, for a moment, at Joseph in prison. We are not told of any attempt that he made to justify himself, or to clear his character of the hark stain which so falsely had been cast upon it. HE COMMITTED HIMSELF TO HIM THAT JUDGETH RIGHTEOUSLY.

(C. Overton.)

The nobleness of Joseph stands out to any one who has purity enough and heart-honesty enough to study the picture. Why not speak to Potiphar, as he had spoken to Jacob, when the sons of the bond-women tempted him? Because the man with whom God was, was a man of high honour and charity. Joseph would not rob the poor, passionate heathen woman of the last chance of regaining her own self-respect.

1. There are such monsters in society still. The origin of impurity is, indeed, much more frequently with men, but there are women who deliberately seek to compass the ruin of youths by assailing them with subtle and flattering temptations. Solomon's picture of "the strange woman " is still true to fact. All classes of society have still their Cleopatras.

2. It is God's Book that tells of Potiphar's wife. Read the first seven chapters of Proverbs at a sitting, and seek out the words, not few, of the holy Saviour touching this thing. Those who are too nice to read such pages are apt to be very nasty within; there is no impurity in the exposure of sin, but there may be plenty of impurity with the affectation of avoiding the mention of it.

3. God's greatest servants are, like Joseph. those who have preserved their purity.

(A. M. Symington, D. D.)

1. Times of advance in the world may prove times of most dangerous assaults of temptation to saints.

2. God's blessings at home and abroad prove occasions of sin unto naughty hearts.

3. Unclean hearts have their times to set their eyes on wicked works.

4. Treacherous lust may turn a wife from a husband to a servant.

5. Unclean hearts and eyes will easily make unclean tongues.

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

1. Grace kept to work refuseth with disdain the strongest temptations to uncleanness.

2. Gracious hearts are ready to return saving instruction for unclean suggestion to the tempter.

3. It is rational as well as Christian to all unclean tempters to consider reason.

4. Confidence anti-trust of lords in their servants should make them more faithful, and unwilling to injure them (ver. 8).

5. Power delegated to largest bounds should be improved to the greatest good of superiors.

6. Power despotical may be delegated to others, but marital, or husband power to none.

7. Conjugal covenant maketh the power of man and wife reciprocal.

8. Breach of marriage covenant by adultery is most grievous wickedness.

9. Treacherous adultery carrieth a special malignity against God, and is observed by Him.

10. True religion towards God makes men fear to sin, and provoke the eyes of His glory (ver. 9).

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

1. The times of men's exercise about their honest employments may prove their seasons of temptation to them.

2. Absence of witnesses and such as may hinder lust is a fair opportunity for it.

3. Providence ordereth both these together sometimes, to try His own, and discry wicked hearts (ver. 11).

4. Lustful hearts upon such occasions grow impudent to tempt by word and deed.

5. Whorish lust catcheth garments, holds bodies, and ensnares souls with its temptations.

6. Gracious souls rather loose their garments, then endanger their graces.

7. Grace flieth from temptation, when it cannot cease it and make it still.

8. Grace chooseth to be out of doors with innocency rather than in the house with sin (ver. 12).

(G. Hughes, B. D.)


1. He was young.

2. He was away from home. Young men, you may escape the eye of an earthly parent, but you cannot escape the eye of God (Psalm 139:7-12).

3. Joseph might have pleaded that the consequences of his sin would be favour and advancement, while the consequences of his resistance would be, in all likelihood, irretrievable disgrace.

II. CONSIDER THE WAY IN WHICH JOSEPH, INSTEAD OF YIELDING TO THE PRESSURE OF THESE CIRCUMSTANCES, MET AND OVERCAME THE TEMPTATION WHICH ASSAILED HIM. Did not allow his youth, or distance from home, or possible consequences, to blind him to the true nature of the proposal which was made to him. Did not beat about the bush and endeavour to sophisticate himself into the belief that wrong was right. Did not try to mitigate the evil by talking about sin, as if it were merely a folly, or a pardonable indiscretion. How then did he fortify himself against the enticement to evil?

1. By calling things by their right names. He had not learned to say that bitter was sweet, or darkness light. He had not so lived as to bedim or distort his spiritual vision. And so he blurted out the truth at once, and called the act to which he was invited, "This great wickedness." There is no more mischievous maxim than that which finds expression in the saying of Burke: "Vice itself lost half its evil by losing all its grossness." It is when "Satan is transformed into an angel of light," that his power is most deadly. He who has learned to call the sin to which he is tempted "This great wickedness," has already won half the battle.

2. By remembering that all wrong-doing is sin against God. It may be sin against self also, and sin against our fellows, but this it most assuredly is — sin against God. The faith which utters itself in these words was the source at once of the insight which enabled Joseph to perceive the true nature of the temptation, and of the strength in which he was able to overcome it. A man who has cultivated the habit of referring everything to God is not easily deceived by the appearance of things. He lives and walks in the light of truth. He is able to bring all things to the one test — is it or is it not pleasing to God? This, the one adequate motive of a true life.

(J. R. Bailey.)

The meaning, the force of this language lies almost entirely in the word, God. And O how many reasons, why we should not sin against Him, are wrapped up in this one word?

1. God, you may understand the good man as saying, is a Being of perfect, of infinite excellence. His works as well as His word, assure me that He is so.

2. God is my Creator. He is the former of my body, the Father of my spirit. As such He is my nearest relative. How then can I sin against Him?

3. God is my Preserver and Benefactor. He has watched over me and preserved me every moment since my existence commenced. He has shielded me from ten thousand evils and dangers. He has preserved me, while multitudes of my coevals have perished. He is preserving me at this moment.

4. God is my rightful Sovereign. As my Creator and Proprietor, He has the best of all possible titles to control me.

5. God is the providential, as well as moral Governor of the universe, and the sole Dispenser of all blessings, natural and spiritual. As such I am constantly dependent on Him for everything which I need. I am in His hands; as He has given, so He can take away, all that I possess.

6. God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. As such He so loved our ruined race, that He gave His only begotten Son to die for its salvation. He gave Him to die for me, for my relatives, for my fellow-creatures. He has done and suffered more for us than any earthly friend would or could have done. Now if I consent to sin, I shall crucify afresh this Saviour; I shall dishonour and offend and grieve the Father who gave Him to die for me. And how can I do this? How can I requite Him evil for good?

(E. Payson, D. D.)

Nothing thrills like a battle. Each man is a born fighter. The necessity of struggle is laid upon us, and therefore, our sympathies are rarely stretched to further tension than by the sight of contests, which are the types and prophecies of our own. Even the names of old fields of carnage and strife are still electric. Joseph's fight for social purity is one of the best known of "the decisive battles of the world." The grand out-leap of defiant refusal to do wrong of this young warrior has seized and held the imagination of mankind for ages. The sudden and complete moral recoil of this gallant knight of purity from the defiling touch of the depraved adulteress, who has been dogging his steps and laying her sensual bait day by day, has passed into the imperishable stores of the world's moral force.

I. "How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" At once we recognise the presence of the Holy God in this scene. He is its light and glory, its power and victory. God the Holy fills the entire field of vision, and Joseph is strengthened with might in the inner man by an all-pervading awe of Him. His heart throbs with a vehement solicitude not to offend God, not to violate His will, or in the slightest particular displease Him. That is the fire that burns with such scorching heat in these words. That is the flame that leaps up in his heart in cleansing force. That is the source of the mighty passion by which in a moment, and at one throw, he flings far behind him the corrupting bait of the temptress. It is not hatred of the woman, though that might have been excused. It is not anxiety for his own reputation first and foremost, though that is not without its influence. It is not even solicitude, before all things, to maintain his integrity in his trust as the steward of Potiphar, though that too operates with great and decisive energy; but it is the recognition of God. He cannot sin against Him. There is the impassable barrier! That Sacred Presence for ever block the way! This Authority ruling in and for righteousness utterly shuts out all possibility of yielding, and impels the tempted man, at lightning speed, from the neighbourhood of danger. Whatever, then, may be our final judgment as to the place of "the fear of God," i.e., of the reverent dread of disobeying His word, in a pure, noble, and consecrated life, it cannot be denied that one main element in Joseph's conquering power. It is not the whole of it, by any means; but it is one facet of the many-sided life; one source from whence he obtains his irresistible might; one auxiliary to his steadfast purity. Fellow soldiers, I cannot feel that fear of doing wrong, and dread of not doing all we ought, are obsolete as working forces in life! I know too much of the subtlety of evil, of the difficulty of working on the higher ranges of Christian service from motives absolutely pure and untainted by self-seeking and vanity, the ease with which the spirit slides into doubt and despair of God, and forgets the fulness of His promises and presence, of the possibilities of secret sins; and I have seen too much of those who "profess and call themselves Christians," not to welcome with all my soul the Divine caution, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall," by a shot from an unseen foe, by mistaking a traitor for an angel of light, by opening the gates of Mansoul to some of the King's enemies, or by collapse of power through long and wearisome watchings with an ill-fed and ill-nourished spirit. Sublime men are only made by sublime motives; and of motives, "Love is lord of all." "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God" is the first and great commandment, and the second comes a long way after it; but it does come, it must come, for love and fear are the positive and negative poles of the same electric bar, and are both forces convertible into aids to holiness. Love rules the home, and its sunshine is the life of all who dwell therein; but fear of marring the domestic peace, spoiling the domestic purity, or poisoning the domestic joy, is a temper that pervades and chastens, hallows and enlarges the household life. Our soldiers fight for the love of country; but how unspeakably they are goaded forward in the severity of battle by the dread of losing their country's flag I In the finest types of married life, it is not till years of perfect communion and character-assimilating love have made husband and wife a complete unity, and blent soul with soul, and will with will, that all fear is gone — if indeed it ever is. Certainly, in the earlier stages it is a spur to that continual and anxious attention to aid, and not to hinder, in developing the one life, which finally becomes the gracious habit and beautiful form of the domestic ministry. "Wherefore," we Christians, "having received a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have the grace of thankfulness, whereby we may offer service well-pleasing to God with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire." "Following after peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no man shall see the Lord: looking carefully lest there be any man that falleth short of the grace of God." It is not, then, too late in the world's history to fall back on the element of fear of doing wickedness and sinning against God, as an available power in the recoil from evil. Too late! Assuredly not!

II. Notice, again, this passage gives evidence of a large access of energy to Joseph's conscience from his PERFECT IDENTIFICATION OF GOD WITH HIS OWN PERSONAL PURITY. "By faith," i.e., by an act of the moral imagination, he places himself instantly in the realized presence of God, and the temptation becomes appallingly hideous to him, simply because it is a solicitation to sin against his God. It is also "a great wickedness" against his kind and confiding master, a grave and irreparable wrong to himself, an unpardonable blow to the guilty woman, a crime against society; but it is first and foremost a sin against God. "How then," he reasons, his soul melted into one stream of fiery logic, "how then, can I do it?" Impossible! Come what may of resistance — expulsion, imprisonment, death — all must be faced and borne rather than yield. God and Purity are one. I cannot detach myself from Him; I dare not, I will not"; and in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the battle is over, the victory won; and having taken fast hold of purity, and not let her go, she gives the light and cheer of the Divine presence in the prison, at length opens the dungeon gates, advances him to honour, and finally places this brave soldier of purity on the throne of national usefulness. Surely we may add a verse to the eleventh of Hebrews, and say, "By faith Joseph, when he was tempted in the house of his master, resisted, not fearing the consequences of his act, for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible."

III. Joseph differed from Jacob in that he had no Bethel visions, and from Abraham in that hearing the Divine voice, but he had the DIVINE FACTS OF LIFE AND IN THEM BE READ THE IDEAS AND WILL OF GOD. The oldest of all Bibles, the Bible of human experience was opened before him, and he read, marked, learnt, and inwardly digested its contents, and found it profitable for correction, for discipline, for reproof, and for instruction in righteousness, furnishing him with some real aid, for his good works. It is a bad use of the written Bible which blinds us to the teaching of home, hides us from the heavenly meanings of marriage, and closes against us the libraries of national movement and history. Our Scripture, brief as it is, has this peerless excellence, that it sets all our institutions, the Church, State, City, hamlet, marriage, and family life all in God. They are Divine; based on a Divine plan, intended to achieve Divine results. Every man's life is sacred, for there is a Divine idea to be fulfilled in it — the idea of purity, and self-control, of sweetness and strength, of character and service. Underlying marriage there is a thought of God, and in all the offices of mutual love, in the reasons for forbearance and patience, in the occasions of suffering and sympathy, this life-union is tending to inspire self-suppression, develop tender affection, nourish purity, and put ease and grace into our human life. Joseph, accordingly, read in his office of steward, God's prohibition of purity, saying, "How then; seeing the place I fill, the duty I am bound to discharge, and the confidence reposed in me, how then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God!"

(J. Clifford D. D.)

I. THAT TEMPTATIONS TO SIN, HOW ALLURING SOEVER OR TERRIFYING, ARE TO BE REJECTED WITH ABHORRENCE. There will be convincing proof of this by considering two things:

1. That sin, considered in itself, is the greatest evil. This will be evident by considering the general nature of it, as directly opposite to God the Supreme Good. The definition of sin expresses its essential evil: it is "the transgression of the" Divine "law" (1 John 3:4); and consequently opposes the rights of God's throne, and obscures. the glory of His attributes that are exercised in the moral government of the world.

2. Sin, relatively to us, is the most pernicious and destructive evil. If we compare it with temporal evils, it preponderates all that men are liable to in the present world. Diseases in our bodies, disasters in our estates, disgrace in our reputation, are, in just esteem, far less evil than the evil of sin; for that corrupts and destroys our more excellent and immortal part: the vile body is of no account in comparison of the precious soul. Therefore the apostle enforces his exhortation: "Dearly beloved" brethren, "I beseech you, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul" (1 Peter 2:11). The issue of this war is infinitely more woeful than of the most cruel against our bodies and goods, our liberties and lives: for our estates and freedom, if lost may be recovered; if the present life be lost for the cause of God, it shall be restored in greater lustre and perfection, but if the soul be lost, it is lost for ever.This being a point of great usefulness, that I may be more instructive, I will consider the evils that are consequential to sin under these two heads: —

1. The evils that proceed immediately by emanation from it. And though some of them are not resented with feeling apprehensions by sinners, yet they are of a fearful nature. Sin has deprived man of the purity, nobility, and peace of his innocent state.

2. I will consider the evils consequent to sin as the penal effects of the sentence against sin, of Divine justice that decrees it, and Divine power that inflicts it. And in these the sinner is often an active instrument of his own misery.(1). The fall of the angels is the first and most terrible punishment of sin.(2) Consider the penal effects of sin with respect to man. They are comprehended in the sentence of death, the first and second death threatened to deter Adam from transgressing the law.


1. This discovers how perverse and depraved the minds and wills of men are, to choose sin rather than affliction, and break the Divine law for the obtaining of temporal things.

2. From hence we may be instructed of the wonderful patience of God, who bears with a world of sinners, that are obnoxious His justice, and under His power every day.

3. The consideration of the evil of sin, so great in itself, and pernicious to us, heightens our obligations to the Divine mercy, in "saving us from our sins," and an everlasting hell, the just punishment of them.

4. The consideration of the evil of sin, in itself and to us, should excite us with a holy circumspection to keep ourselves from being defiled with

5. The consideration of the evil of sin is a powerful motive to our solemn and speedy repentance.

(W. Bates, D. D.)

I. HERE IS A GOOD MAN SEVERELY TEMPTED. Temptation suits itself to every age, to every state of mind, to every temperament.

1. There is temptation to intellectual unbelief.

2. There is temptation to flattery.

3. There is the temptation to sensual lust. In every young man there is a sharp conflict between conscience and the animal nature. The enchantress was decked in her best. Scarcely concealed among the roses was the foul serpent.


1. The source of goodness is inexhaustible. The right principle and goodness Joseph had came from God, and God can give more. The Divine supply has never failed, just as the harvest-fields of earth have never given out.

2. A sense of God's presence unmasks sin. Sin always wears some disguise, Naked sin is so ugly and repulsive that it would never succeed without gay and plausible masking. God's presence is light, and shines through all disguise.

3. A sense of God's presence makes us valiant. It had been Joseph's habit to take God with him in every walk of life. This made him calm, contented, patient, strong. Our only safety is in God.

III. WE SEE A GOOD MAN BARELY MALIGNED. The spirit of wickedness has great vitality. Like Briareus, the fabled monster of the deep, it has fifty heads and a hundred arms. Foiled in one diabolical scheme, it instantly attempts another. The passion of this gay woman was as changeful as it was base. In a moment it passes into the blackest hatred, and plots the ruin of Joseph by lying and by slander. Men would wag their heads and say, "Ah, there's something in it." He has a thousand adversaries. Only conscience and God and friendly angels are left: his good name has passed under eclipse.


1. Silence is dignified. Self-defence is always more or less weakness. Let men learn not to be over hasty in their judgments. Appearances often deceive; silence is hoarded strength.

2. The effect of our conduct on others ought always to be considered. Had Joseph published abroad this woman's guilt, it may have involved her in sudden death. If she had any heart left, the silence and endurance of Joseph must have touched it.

3. Self-sacrifice is a rare virtue.


(J. Dickerson Davies, M. A.)

The first attack upon him is repelled with a modest but severe remonstrance, exactly suited to his situation. Let us examine it minutely. There are four things in it worthy of admiration.

1. He is silent with respect to the wickedness of the tempter, tie might have reproached her for the indelicacy, the infidelity, and the baseness of her proposal; but he confines himself to what respected his own obligation, and what would be his own sin. In the hour of temptation it is enough for us to look to ourselves. It is remarkable that all our Lord's answers to the tempter, as recorded in the fourth chapter of Matthew, are in this way. He could have accused him of insolence, and outrage; but He barely refuses to follow his counsels, because thus and thus it was written.

2. He considers his obligation as rising in proportion to his high station: "There is none greater in this house than I." Some young men would have drawn a contrary conclusion from the same premises, and on this ground have thought themselves entitled to take the greater liberties; but this is the true use to be made of power, and riches, and every kind of trust.

3. He considers it as heightened by the generosity and kindness of his master, who withheld nothing else from him. Eve reasoned at first on this principle (Genesis 3:2), and had she kept to it, she had been safe. When we are tempted to covet what God has forbidden, it were well to think of the many things which He has not forbidden, but freely given us.

4. He rises from created to uncreated authority: It would not only be treachery to my master, but "wickedness, great wickedness, and sin against God." In the hour of temptation it is of infinite importance what view we take of the evil to which we are tempted. If we suffer our thoughts to dwell on its agreeableness, as Eve did concerning the forbidden fruit, its sinfulness will insensibly diminish in our sight, a number of excuses will present themselves, and we shall inevitably be carried away by it; but if we keep our eye steadfastly on the holy will of God, and the strong obligations we are under to Him, that which would otherwise appear a little thing, will be accounted what it is, a great wickedness, and we shall revolt at the idea of sinning against Him. This is the armour of God wherewith we shall stand in the evil day.

(A. Fuller.)

That the temptation was in any degree to the sensual side of his nature there is no evidence whatever. For all that the narrative says, Potiphar's wife may not have been attractive in person. She may have been; and as she used persistently, "day by day," every art and wile by which she could lure Joseph to her mind, in some of his moods and under such circumstances as she would study to arrange he may have felt even this element of the temptation. But it is too little observed, and especially by young men who have most need to observe it, that in such temptations it is not only what is sensual that needs to be guarded against, but also too much deeper-lying tendencies — the craving for loving recognition, and the desire to respond to the feminine love for admiration and devotion. The latter tendency may not seem dangerous, but I am sure that if an analysis could be made of the broken hearts and shame-crushed lives around us, it would be found that a large proportion of misery is due to a kind of uncontrolled and mistaken chivalry. Men of masculine make are prone to show their regard for women. This regard, when genuine and manly, will show itself in purity of sympathy and respectful attention. But when this regard is debased by a desire to please and ingratiate oneself, men are precipitated into the unseemly expression of a spurious manhood. The other craving — the craving for love — acts also in a somewhat latent way. It is this craving which drives men to seek to satisfy themselves with the expressions of love, as if thus they could secure love itself. They do not distinguish between the two; they do not recognise that what they most deeply desire is love, rather than the expression of it; and they awake to find that precisely in so far as they have accepted the expression without the sentiment, in so far have they put love itself beyond their reach. This temptation was, in Joseph's case, aggravated by his being in a foreign country, unrestrained by the expectations of his own family, or by the eye of those he loved. He had, however, that which restrained him, and made the sin seem to him an impossible wickedness, the thought of which he could not, for a moment, entertain. To disregard the rights of his master seemed to Joseph a great wickedness and sin against God. The treachery of the sin strikes him; his native discernment of the true rights of every party in the case cannot, for a moment, be hoodwinked. He is not a man who can, even in the excitement of temptation, overlook the consequences his sin may have on others. Not unsteadied by the flattering solicitations of one so much above him in rank, nor sullied by the contagion of her vehement passion; neither afraid to incur the resentment of one who so regarded him, nor kindled to any impure desire by contact with her blazing lust; neither scrupling thoroughly to disappoint her in himself, nor to make her feel her own great guilt, he flung from him the strong inducements that seemed to net him round and entangle him as his garment did, and tore himself, shocked and grieved, from the beseeching hand of his temptress.

(M. Dods, D. D.)

Joseph abhorred such impiety, and with most good and godly arguments repelleth the temptation.

1. The first drawn from ingratitude and unfaithfulness. As if he should have said, being trusted as I am, and preferred in my master's house as I am, it were the greatest unfaithfulness, and the foulest ingratitude that might be, in this sort to requite my master's favours, and so great favours towards me. Therefore I may not do it; for I abhor to be unfaithful where I am trusted, or unthankful where I am regarded and done for. Here then is a servant of servants, if we think of our days, here is a jewel more worth than gold, and a pearl of price for a man's house; faithful and thankful, what wish we more.

2. His second argument is drawn from the marriage knot that ought to hold till death doth part. A married woman must have a married mind, that as her body by orderly course is appropriated unto one, so her mind must be also to the same, and to none other.

3. His third argument is drawn from the nature of the sin, it is a great wickedness to touch another man's wife; and as all wickedness should be abhorred. So great wickedness greatly abhorred.

4. His last argument is drawn from the love of God. Thus should I sin, saith he, against God, which how may I do? As if he should have said, I love God who hath ever loved me, and my love admitteth no such requital. Many and many are the sweet mercies that I have found at His hand, if I should tell all, and how then should I sin against Him?

(Bp. Babington.)

You all know what affection for and trust in a person have done in common life to produce prompt decision and persistent action. Every scholar remembers the instance of that true wife, Penelope, who for long years turned away suitors for her hand, and was ultimately rewarded by the return of Ulysses, who had manifested a constancy and affection that were equal to her own. Now, if in domestic life such effects are produced by these two principles, love and trust — which are not so much two as one working in two different ways — may we not believe that by the grace of the Holy Spirit, personal attachment to the Lord Jesus Christ and implicit trust in Him, will give us quickness of sight to see what He would have us to do, and firmness of purpose to do that with our might. Nothing is so clear-sighted as love. It is on the alert at the approach of the slightest danger; and if only we take care to continue in the love of Christ, that will keep us right, for it will reveal the tempter to us even under his most cunning disguise, and give us courage and firmness to withstand him. Nay, more, let us but have the love of Christ strong within us, and we shall not think that there is anything like a sacrifice or a hardship in saying " no " to sin, for we shall have no hankering after that which He disapproves. Our refusal to sin will be, then, only the outworking of our satisfaction with Him; the consequence of our delight in Him, and not the result of any outward compulsion. Here, young man, is the key to the whole position; fill the heart with Christ. and when the tempter comes he will find it so preoccupied that there is no room in it for him and his seduction.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

Not for what we can make by it, or for what it is worth, but for what it is, and for its relationship to God, let us do the right, and we may rest assured, however it may be now, that in the end we shall be on the winning side. We may have to go through a prison to the final issue, or we may need to step up to it from a cross, but we shall be on the winning side, for character is success — not position, not prosperity, not reputation — but character, and it is made and hardened and tempered in the fire of trial. Leave the reputation and success, then, to look after themselves, and be not disconcerted if they should both be for a time under a cloud; but look well to the character, for that is the main thing, and the life that secures that for Christ is always worth living.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

In the East females live in separate apartments, but the monuments prove that in Egypt they mingled freely in society, and were under no peculiar restraint. Egyptian parties are frequently depicted in the temples, and "in some instances," says Wilkinson, "we find both men and women sitting together, both strangers as well as members of the same family — a privilege not conceded to females among the Greeks, except with their relations." Nor do the monuments speak favourably of the morals of the Egyptian women. "That they were not restricted," says the same writer, "in the use of wine, and in the enjoyment of other luxuries, is evident from the frescoes which represent their feasts; and the painters, in illustrating this fact, have sometimes sacrificed their gallantry to a love of caricature. Some call their servants to support them as they sit, others with difficulty prevent themselves from falling on those behind them; a basin is brought too late by a reluctant servant, and the faded flower which is ready to drop from their heated hands, is intended to be characteristic of their own sensations.

(Thornley Smith.)

She saw Joseph, she loved him, and said unto him, lie with me. Her eyes ensnared her heart, and she lost her modesty, as well as every other virtue. She must have been lost to all sense of shame, when she so barefacedly tempted Joseph to violate her chastity. Joseph was now in a dangerous situation. Few young men would have resisted the strong temptation which he was enabled to encounter. How easily did his brother Judah, in a more advanced period of life, fall before a temptation, which, in the comparison, was very small. We may say of Joseph, that there were few like him in all the earth. Sin spread out before him its strongest attractions-pleasure and profit. It drew up the most formidable terrors in battle-array, but none of all these things moved Joseph. He held fast his integrity, and would not let it go, for his heart was mightily fortified by the fear of God, and he was powerfully supported by that grace" which is able to keep us from falling and to present us faultless before the presence of the Divine glory with exceeding joy."

(G. Lawson, D. D)

I. In the first place, when Joseph realized God's presence he found in it COMPLY IN HIS LONELINESS. One of the best and holiest men that ever lived was Henry Martyn, the English missionary to Persia. In carrying on his work there, he had many long and lonely journeys to take. But how sweetly he realized God's presence, as giving him company in his loneliness, is seen in these beautiful lines, which were found after his death, written on one of the blank leaves of the Bible that he carried with him wherever he went.

"In desert woods, with Thee, my God,

Where human footsteps never trod,

How happy could I be!

Thou, my repose from care, my light

Amid the darkness of the night—

In solitude my company."And how many of God's dear children have realized His presence in just the same way! Here are some illustrations of this. This incident was told by one of our chaplains in the late war. "I went into a tent connected with the general hospital one day," says he. "There, on one of the beds, lay a beautiful drummer-boy, about sixteen years of age, burning up with fever. 'Where is your home, my young friend?' I asked. 'In Massachusetts, sir,' was his reply. 'And do you not feel very lonely here, so far away from your father and mother, and all your friends, and so sick as you are?' I never can forget," says the chaplain, "the sweet smile that lighted up his deep blue eyes, and played over his fevered lips, as he said, in answer to my question, 'Oh, no, sir. How can I feel lonely when Jesus is with me?'" That dear boy was realizing God's presence in just the way of which we are speaking; and he found company in it. There was an old Christian gentleman, who had been for many years a successful merchant. He was once very well off, and had been surrounded by a happy family. But he had failed in business, and was left very poor. His wife and children had all died. In poverty and loneliness he had to spend the closing years of his life. A Christian friend, who used to call and see him occasionally, was talking with him one day, and said, "Well, I hope Jesus visits you sometimes." "Visits me sometimes?" said the old man, "why, He lives with me at all times!" And so, in realizing the presence of that blessed Saviour, he found company in his loneliness. And if we follow the model which Joseph sets before us, it will bring this blessing to us; and we shall find company in our loneliness.

II. In the second place, as he realized God's presence, Joseph found — COMFORT IN TROUBLE. And we shall find the same, just so far as we follow the model he has left us. Few persons have had such great troubles to bear as Joseph had. And yet he bore them bravely and cheerfully. And the secret of it was, he felt that God was present with him all the time, and he found comfort in this thought. This gave Joseph comfort when nothing else could have done so. And if we follow the model which he left us, and learn to realize God's presence, as he did, we shall find comfort under all our troubles, in the feeling that He is with us. Let us look at some examples of the way in which this comfort is found. A city missionary in London used often to visit a poor old widow. She lived in a garret alone by herself. All she had to live on was half-a-crown a week, allowed her from some charity. This was only a little over half a dollar of our money, and was barely enough to keep her alive. The missionary used to notice, standing on her windowsill, an old broken tea-pot, in which a strawberry-plant was growing. He felt interested in watching it, and seeing how it grew. One day he said to the old woman: "I am glad to see how nicely your plant is growing. You'll soon have some berries ripening on it." "I don't care about the fruit," she said. "It's not that which leads me to watch over this little plant. But I am too poor to keep any living creature with me. And I love to have this little plant in my room. I know it can only live and grow by the power of God. And as I look at it, from day to day, and see it growing, it makes me feel that God is here with me, and I find great comfort in that thought."

III. In the third place, Joseph found STRENGTH FOR DUTY in realizing God's presence. And if we follow the model he has set us we shall find the same. A brave sailor boy: — He was a cabin-boy on board an English man-of-war. He "had a pious mother, and was trying to be a Christian; and the story shows how the sense he had of God's presence strengthened him for duty under very trying circumstances, and made him eminently useful to his shipmates and to his country. The sailors called this boy "Cloudy." The incident, to which I refer, took place in the midst of a terrible naval battle between the English and the Dutch. The flagship of the English fleet was commanded by the brave Admiral Narborough. His vessel had got separated somehow from the rest of his fleet, and was drawn in the thickest of the fight. Two of its masts had just been shot away, and had fallen with a fearful crash upon the deck. The Admiral saw that all would soon be lost unless he could bring up the rest of the ships to help him. He summoned a lot of his men upon the quarter-deck. He could not send a boat, but he asked if any of them would volunteer to swim through the fight, and take an order for the rest of the fleet to come at once to his help. A dozen men offered to go; and little Cloudy made the same offer. The Admiral smiled, when he looked at him, and said: "Why, Cloudy, what can you do?" "I can swim, sir, as well as any of them. You can't spare these men from the guns, sir. It won't make much matter if I am killed. But I'm sure that God will take care of me. Please, sir, let me go." "Go, my brave lad," said the Admiral, "and may God bless you!" He thanked the Admiral, and running to the side of the ship, sprang over into the sea, and struck out bravely towards the ships, which he was to order up. The men cheered him, and then went back to their guns. The fight went on; but the Dutch were getting the best of it. The Admiral was feeling very sadly. He did not see how he could hold out much longer. He said to himself — "I have never hauled down the flag of old England yet. I'd rather die than do it now. But how can I help it?" Just then he heard a firing to the right. Looking through the clouds of smoke that surrounded him, he saw that the brave boy had got through his long and dangerous swim. He had delivered the order entrusted to him; and the expected ships were coming, crowding down upon the enemy. This turned the tide of battle. The Dutch were soon beaten, and the flag of old England was not hauled down that day. In the evening the Admiral called his men on deck to thank them for their brave conduct. And then, turning to Cloudy, who was also present, he said: "And I want especially to thank you, my brave lad, for your noble conduct. We owe this victory to you. I hope to live to see you have a flagship of your own, some day." And it turned out just so. That cabin-boy went on realizing God's presence; and this gave him strength for duty, till he was knighted by the king, and known in the English navy as — Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovel. And if we follow the model that Joseph has left us, we shall find that realizing the presence of God will be sure to give us strength for duty.

IV. And then, when Joseph realized the presence of God, he found that it gave him — VICTORY OVER TEMPTATION. And if we follow the model he has left us, we shall find that it will do the same for us. The thought of God's eye: — Emma Gray was a Sunday-school girl, who was trying to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, and to make herself useful. As she was going to school one day, during the week, she passed a little boy, whose hand was thrust through the railings of a gentleman's front garden, trying to steal some flowers. "Oh, my little boy," said Emma kindly, "do you think it's right to take those flowers without asking leave?" "I only want two or three," said the boy, "and nobody sees me." "You are mistaken there, my boy. God is looking at you from yonder blue sky. He says we must not take what does not belong to us without leave. And if you do it He will see it, and it will grieve Him." "Then, if He's looking at me I won't do it," said the little fellow. And so, as he thought of God's eye, or realized God's presence, it gave him the victory over the temptation to steal those flowers. Spoiling his trade: — A mission Sunday-school was started in a very wicked part of London. A good many boys in that neighbourhood got their living by stealing. Some of these boys were persuaded to go to this school. One boy, who was a great thief, went there. After he had been going for some time, one of his companions asked him how he liked the school. "I don't like it at all," said he. "Why not?" asked his friend. "Because, you see, they are all the time talking about God seeing you, and the like o' that; and it just makes a fellow feel afeard. It takes all the pluck out o' me, I know. Many a time now, when I see a good chance to get a hankercher, or a nice purse of money, just as I'm going to take it, I think of that great Eye looking at me. And then I'm afeard and have to stop. So, you see, it's spoiling my trade. And I'll either have to give up going to school, or else have to learn another trade and try and get my living in some other way." Here we see the true effect which must always follow from realizing God's presence. We cannot go on doing what we know to be wrong when we feel that God is looking at us.

(R. Newton, D. D.)

An old writer observes that it is "the sublimity of wisdom to do those things living which are to be desired and chosen by dying persons." St. Bernard expresses the same thought, but in a different form, saying, "Let every man in the first address of his actions, consider whether, if he were now to die, he might safely and prudently do such an act, and whether he would not be infinitely troubled should death surprise him in the present disposition; and then let him proceed accordingly." This advice, if taken, would no doubt insure resistance to temptation, for no man, unless he were enslaved to folly, would commit a sin in the face of approaching death. But a surer help to victory over the tempter than the thought of death, is the recollection, "Thou God seest me!" and the question of the spirited-minded Joseph, "How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?"

Ishmaelites, Joseph, Pharaoh, Potiphar
Anything, Authority, Evil, Except, Greater, Isn't, Kept, Master, None, Nothing, Sin, Sinned, Sinning, Wicked, Wickedness, Wife, Withheld, Wrong
1. Joseph is bought by Potiphar, and preferred in the family.
7. He resists temptation by Potiphar's Wife.
13. He is falsely accused by her.
20. He is cast into prison.
21. God is with him there, and he is advanced by the keeper of prison.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Genesis 39:6-12

     6237   sexual sin, nature of
     8777   lust

Genesis 39:7-10

     6251   temptation, resisting

Genesis 39:7-12

     5811   compromise
     6242   adultery
     8339   self-control

Genesis 39:7-18

     5202   accusation, false

Genesis 39:7-20

     5404   masters
     5951   slander

Genesis 39:8-12

     8476   self-discipline

Goodness in a Dungeon
'And Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. But the Lord was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the Lord was
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

(Preached on the Sunday before the Wedding of the Prince of Wales. March 8th, third Sunday in Lent.) GENESIS xxxix. 9. How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? The story of Joseph is one which will go home to all healthy hearts. Every child can understand, every child can feel with it. It is a story for all men and all times. Even if it had not been true, and not real fact, but a romance of man's invention, it would have been loved and admired by men; far more then, when we know
Charles Kingsley—The Gospel of the Pentateuch

The Complete Surrender.
Genesis 39:1-3.--Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him at the hands of the Ishmaelites, which had brought him down thither. And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian, and his master saw that the Lord was with him. We have in this passage an object lesson which teaches us what Christ is to us. Note: Joseph was a slave, but God was with him so distinctly
Andrew Murray—The Master's Indwelling

Seventh Sunday after Trinity Exhortation to Resist Sin.
Text: Romans 6, 19-23. 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye presented your members as servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity, even so now present your members as servants to righteousness unto sanctification. 20 For when ye were servants of sin, ye were free in regard of righteousness. 21 What fruit then had ye at that time in the things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from
Martin Luther—Epistle Sermons, Vol. III

Trials of the Christian
AFFLICTION--ITS NATURE AND BENEFITS. The school of the cross is the school of light; it discovers the world's vanity, baseness, and wickedness, and lets us see more of God's mind. Out of dark afflictions comes a spiritual light. In times of affliction, we commonly meet with the sweetest experiences of the love of God. The end of affliction is the discovery of sin; and of that, to bring us to a Saviour. Doth not God ofttimes even take occasion, by the hardest of things that come upon us, to visit
John Bunyan—The Riches of Bunyan

Thirdly, for Thy Actions.
1. Do no evil, though thou mightest; for God will not suffer the least sin, without bitter repentance, to escape unpunished. Leave not undone any good that thou canst. But do nothing without a calling, nor anything in thy calling, till thou hast first taken counsel at God's word (1 Sam. xxx. 8) of its lawfulness, and pray for his blessings upon thy endeavour; and then do it in the name of God, with cheerfulness of heart, committing the success to him, in whose power it is to bless with his grace
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

Mosaic Cosmogony.
ON the revival of science in the 16th century, some of the earliest conclusions at which philosophers arrived were found to be at variance with popular and long-established belief. The Ptolemaic system of astronomy, which had then full possession of the minds of men, contemplated the whole visible universe from the earth as the immovable centre of things. Copernicus changed the point of view, and placing the beholder in the sun, at once reduced the earth to an inconspicuous globule, a merely subordinate
Frederick Temple—Essays and Reviews: The Education of the World

Meditations for Household Piety.
1. If thou be called to the government of a family, thou must not hold it sufficient to serve God and live uprightly in thy own person, unless thou cause all under thy charge to do the same with thee. For the performance of this duty God was so well pleased with Abraham, that he would not hide from him his counsel: "For," saith God, "I know him that he will command his sons and his household after him that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and judgment, that the Lord may bring upon
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

The Wisdom of God
The next attribute is God's wisdom, which is one of the brightest beams of the Godhead. He is wise in heart.' Job 9:9. The heart is the seat of wisdom. Cor in Hebraeo sumitur pro judicio. Pineda. Among the Hebrews, the heart is put for wisdom.' Let men of understanding tell me:' Job 34:44: in the Hebrew, Let men of heart tell me.' God is wise in heart, that is, he is most wise. God only is wise; he solely and wholly possesses all wisdom; therefore he is called, the only wise God.' I Tim 1:17. All
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

The Tests of Love to God
LET us test ourselves impartially whether we are in the number of those that love God. For the deciding of this, as our love will be best seen by the fruits of it, I shall lay down fourteen signs, or fruits, of love to God, and it concerns us to search carefully whether any of these fruits grow in our garden. 1. The first fruit of love is the musing of the mind upon God. He who is in love, his thoughts are ever upon the object. He who loves God is ravished and transported with the contemplation of
Thomas Watson—A Divine Cordial

Lii. Concerning Hypocrisy, Worldly Anxiety, Watchfulness, and his Approaching Passion.
(Galilee.) ^C Luke XII. 1-59. ^c 1 In the meantime [that is, while these things were occurring in the Pharisee's house], when the many thousands of the multitude were gathered together, insomuch that they trod one upon another [in their eagerness to get near enough to Jesus to see and hear] , he began to say unto his disciples first of all [that is, as the first or most appropriate lesson], Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. [This admonition is the key to the understanding
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Old Testament opens very impressively. In measured and dignified language it introduces the story of Israel's origin and settlement upon the land of Canaan (Gen.--Josh.) by the story of creation, i.-ii. 4a, and thus suggests, at the very beginning, the far-reaching purpose and the world-wide significance of the people and religion of Israel. The narrative has not travelled far till it becomes apparent that its dominant interests are to be religious and moral; for, after a pictorial sketch of
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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