We only read of Potiphar in relation to Joseph…
I. Joseph’s Service (Gen. 37:36; 39:1-6)
Joseph became a faithful and highly effective servant in the house of Potiphar, captain of Pharaoh’s palace guard. Potiphar was an important man.
Joseph, sold into slavery by his brothers, was taken to Egypt… where he was sold to Potiphar as a household slave. But, Potiphar soon saw what a find he had in Joseph, and Joseph was made head of Potiphar’s household. When Joseph was blessed, Potiphar was blessed by overflow.
Thanks to Joseph, Potiphar didn’t have a care in the world – at least as far as his household was concerned; Joseph looked after everything for him. Joseph managed everything in Potiphar’s home and fields. But, Potiphar’s good fortune was not destined to last…
II. Joseph’s Self-Control (Gen. 39:7-20)
– The Request (v.7)
Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph.
Potiphar should have been a little more concerned about his wife, who eventually became attracted to his talented young attendant. Joseph must have realized this, but held on to his integrity and resisted her advances.
– The Refusal (v.8-12)
Joseph refused her advances repeatedly, even running from the house on one occasion, leaving part of his clothing behind in Potiphar’s wife’s hand.
– The Revenge (v.13-20)
Potiphar’s wife felt frustrated and rejected, furious at Joseph for resisting her attempts to seduce him into sleeping with her, so she sought revenge (“you’ve heard the saying, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”). She falsely accused Joseph of attempted rape. Potiphar fell for the lie, believing himself to be a fool for trusting Joseph so completely. Because he listened to his deceitful wife, Potiphar lost the best steward in all of Egypt. He had Joseph thrown into prison; it would be the 2nd time Joseph would find himself thrown in a hole against his will.
But, God’s blessing on Joseph did not end when Joseph was taken from Potiphar’s household. Joseph continued to rise to prominence, while Potiphar and his devious wife fade into obscurity.
What lesson can we learn from the life of Potiphar? Mainly, the importance of judging one’s character as well as his ability. Had Potiphar been more observant, he would have seen that Joseph was not just an administrative whiz, he was also a young man of integrity.
We, too, need to be careful we are not guilty of over-emphasizing talent and under-emphasizing character. Bot qualities are important, but character matters far more in the long run.
* Anyone can be a judge of talent, but it takes insight from God to judge character.
You can read Potiphar’s story in Genesis 37-39.