After a brief interlude, we’re back to the story of Joseph.
Joseph was bought from the Ishmaelites (or possibly the Midianites, who knows?) by Potiphar, captain of the pharaoh’s guard. “The Lord was with Joseph” (Gen. 39:2), so everything he touches prospers. Potiphar sees this and puts Joseph in charge of the whole household.
Everything is going swimmingly and everyone’s happy, until Potiphar’s wife goes all cougar on Joseph’s “handsome and good-looking” (Gen. 39:6) self. Day after day, she propositions him, but Joseph always refuses.
One day, she grabs him by his clothes and asks him again to have sex with her. In a move that would make a Hollywood RomCom proud, he jumps out of his clothes and runs away, leaving this poor desperate housewife alone with her love’s clothes in her hand. Comedy gold.
Having just been dissed, Potiphar’s wife gets her revenge by telling everyone that Joseph came in to rape her, but she screamed and he ran away. She uses the clothes he left behind as proof. Potiphar is enraged and has him put in the king’s prison.
This story is remarkably similar to an Egyptian story, referred to as the “Tale of Two Brothers.” It’s not far-fetched to imagine that two cultures might have independently come up with the same plotline, but it’s also possible that some Jews were once living in Egypt or traded with Egyptians and incorporated the myth into their own canon.
Joseph fails, but succeeds anyway
Despite being in jail, Joseph still manages to get on everyone’s good side (this guy is the ultimate Gary Stu). The jailer hands over the managing of all the other prisoners to Joseph.
David Plotz, over at Blogging the Bible, points out that Joseph is the first man in the Bible to resist sexual temptation.
Genesis describes straight rape, attempted gay rape, father-daughter incest, coitus interruptus with dead brother’s wife, sex with wife, sex with wrong wife, sex with concubine, sex with dad’s concubine, sex with prostitute who is also daughter-in-law. In any situation in which sex is available, men seize it. What’s remarkable about Joseph? He’s the first person to resist sexual temptation.