Yesterday, Z and I read the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife in Genesis 39:
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.
Joseph was BOUGHT (as in past tense of “buy”), not just brought to Egypt after being sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. He ended up being purchased by Potiphar, a high ranking big shot who worked for the king.
2 The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, 4 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. 5 From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. 6 So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.
Okay, okay, so Joe was dealt a crappy hand, but he played it so well, with God’s help, he was still winning.
Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7 and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”
8 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. 9 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?” 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.
Good job, Joe!
11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 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.
Talk about “flee[ing] from sexual immorality.” This lady was thirsty…
13 When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, 14 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. 15 When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”
… and a horrible human being.
16 She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. 18 But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”
19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. 20 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.
Oh, Joe. Considering he was a foreign enslaved young man who had been accused of rape by the wife of a powerful leader, perhaps Potiphar was being merciful by sending him to jail instead of killing him. I don’t know. But Joseph’s story really has a whole lot of ups and downs. I mean, he manages to do really well in the slammer, too, starts interpreting dreams, thought he got a hook-up to get released, but still wound up incarcerated for two more years… it was an ordeal.
Coincidentally, Z and I have been reading To Kill A Mockingbird: A Graphic Novel by Harper Lee and illustrated by Fred Fordham. (This is actually the fourth book off this American Library Association list of Banned/Challenged books that we’ve read as part of homeschooling, haha.) If you’re unfamiliar with it, you can read the Sparknotes summary, and then ask yourself why you haven’t read this yet. I mean, have a good, long conversation with yourself and ask, “Why haven’t I made time to read this classic American, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, written in the Southern Gothic tradition? Hmm? Did you like, watch the 1962 Gregory Peck film, and figured, “Close enough”?
Anyway, the crux of Mockingbird is centered around a Black man falsely accused of raping a White woman in 1930s Alabama. He’s imprisoned based on her word alone, imprisoned, and very nearly lynched, before his trial begins. I’m not one to do spoilers, but let’s just say his story doesn’t end with him being a nation saving hero like Joseph.
There are many, many, many people who are currently incarcerated who have been falsely accused, given overly punitive sentences, or are just too poor to make bail and haven’t even been tried yet. It’s not just a travesty of justice, but also a tragedy of humanity.
- Watch “True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight For Equality” below:
- Donate to Mr. Stevenson’s nonprofit organization, Equal Justice Initiative, here.
- Watch this past Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight, on wrongful convictions below (NSFW/ Strong Language/Content):