(Questions and Proposed Answers Supplied)
Background and Printed Text: Genesis 39:1-20
Genesis 39:1 And He-Will-Gather [Joseph] was descended Egyptward. And Potiphar, a eunuch of Pharaoh, prince of the executioners, an Egyptian man, bought him from the hands of the Mighty-[One]-Shall-Hearken [Ishmaelites] who descended him there.
2And Yehovah was with He-Will-Gather [Joseph]. And he was a man prospering. And he was in the house of his lords the Egyptian. 3And his lords saw that Yehovah is with him. And all that he did Yehovah prospers in his hand. 4And He-Will-Gather [Joseph] found favour in his eyes. And he ministered-to him.
And he ‘visited’ him over his house. And he gave all that there is to him into his hand. 5And he was from then. He made-a-visitation of him in his house and over all that there is to him. And Yehovah blessed the Egyptian’s house for-the-sake-of He-Will-Gather [Joseph]. And the blessing of Yehovah was via all that there is to him in the house and in the field. 6And he forsook all that is to him in He-Will-Gather’s [Joseph’s] hand. And he didn’t know anything with him except the bread that he eats.
And He-Will-Gather [Joseph] was beautiful of form and beautiful of appearance. 7And he was after these things. And the woman of his lords lifted her eyes unto He-Will-Gather [Joseph]. And she said, “Lie with me!” 8And he refused. And he said unto the woman of his lords, “Behold, my lords didn’t know what is with me in the house. And he gave all that is to him into my hand. 9None is greater in this house than I. And he didn’t restrain anything from me except thee in that thou art his woman. And how shall I do this big bad? And I shall sin to Elohim?”
10And he was as her speaking unto He-Will-Gather [Joseph] day, day. And he did not hearken unto her to lie beside her to be with her.
11And he was as this day. And he went to the house to do his errand. And there is not from the men of the house there in the house. 12And she caught him via his garment to say, “Lie with me!” And he forsook his garment in her hand. And he fled. And he exited outsideward.
13And he was as her seeing that he forsook his garment in her hand and he fled outsideward. 14And she called to the men of her house. And she said to them saying, “See-ye! He brought to us a Hebrew man to laugh via us! He came unto me to lie with me! And I called with a big voice! 15And he was as his hearing that I elevated my voice. And I called. And he forsook his garment beside me. And he fled! And he exited outsideward!”
16And she rested his garment beside her until his lords came unto his house. 17And she spoke unto him according to these speeches to say, “The Hebrew slave whom thou brought to us came unto me to laugh via me. 18And he was as my elevating my voice. And I called. And he forsook his garment beside me. And he fled outsideward!” 19And he was as his lords heard the speeches of his woman that she spoke unto him to say, “Thy slave did to me according to these speeches!” And his nose heated. 20And He-Will-Gather’s [Joseph’s] lords took him. And he gave him unto the house of the prison, a place that bound ones of the king are bound. And he was there in the house of the prison.
I. Joseph’s New Master (verse 1)
Joseph is now a slave of a very high ranking man. Potiphar is the chief of the Pharaoh’s executioners. Joseph is seventeen years old.
Potiphar, a eunuch of Pharaoh, bought Joseph from the hands of the Ishmaelites who brought Joseph down to Egypt.
1. What is a eunuch? This is a male whose testicles have been destroyed (usually intentionally while still a baby) so that he will be a man, but he will not have any sexual desire of any kind, and cannot participate in sexual intercourse. Thus, he can take care of the women of the royalty without desiring them and without being swayed by them for sexual favours.
A eunuch cannot have children.
2. What is a prince of the executioners? He is the head and boss over all executioners (folks who put folks to death for crimes). This ruler has much authority and sway in his country.
3. Who were the Ishmaelites? They were from Avraham and Sarah’s slave, HaGar the Egyptian. Avraham and HaGar had a child who was named Ishmael. Thus, Joseph and the Ishmaelites were half-cousins, since Joseph came from Isaac, his grandfather. Isaac and Ishmael were half-brothers (having different mothers).
4. What does “who descended him there” mean? This means that they brought him down (to another location: Egypt, in this case).
II. Prosperity (verses 2-6)
Yehovah was with Joseph, and he became a man, prospering in what he did. He lived in the house of his lords Potiphar, the Egyptian.
Potiphar saw that Yehovah is with Joseph. Yehovah caused everything that Joseph did to prosper in Joseph’s hand. He found favour in the eyes of Potiphar. Joseph ministered to him.
Potiphar ‘visited’ Joseph (put him in charge) over all his house. He gave everything that he had into Joseph’s hand. From that time on, Potiphar made a visitation of him (put him in charge) in his house and over all that there is to him. Yehovah blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake.
The blessing of Yehovah was by means of everything that Potiphar had in the house and in the field. Potiphar forsook all that he had into Joseph’s hand. He didn’t even know anything that Joseph had except the food that Potiphar eats!
1. What does “Yehovah was with” mean and imply? This means that Yehovah was right there with the person, making certain that the person succeeded. If Yehovah is with anyone, that person will succeed in the tasks that person decides to do.
2. Isn’t Yehovah with everyone? Yehovah is everywhere, but He certainly isn’t with everyone in this way. Many prosper without Yehovah desiring and helping them in the ways that they prosper, and many never prosper.
If Yehovah is with any person, it is because Yehovah desires to give that person success. It doesn’t matter whether that person has faith in Yehovah or not; it matters how Yehovah views that person.
If anyone anywhere desires Yehovah to be with him or her, the person can ask, and Yehovah will consider in what way the person desires to be successful. Yehovah will choose whether or not to be with a person. He always delights in any person who desires to do what is right before Him.
The majority of humans will never care about Yehovah or what He wants, and won’t even believe that He exists.
Yehovah isn’t with the majority of persons on this planet. He is with just a few. Yet, all on this planet who obtain any benefit for any length of time actually obtained that benefit because of Yehovah. They just don’t know it.
3. Why was Joseph “a man prospering”? First, Joseph had to grow up very quickly. He was seventeen years old, but he was given the responsibilities of an adult. Thus, he was (or better, he became) a man.
On top of that, he was prospering, which means that he succeeded in the tasks that he did, and he did very well.
4. What does “he was in the house of his lords the Egyptian” mean? This means that he was a house slave—a slave who lived in the house of his master, and not in separate living quarters. This position is reserved for those who are trusted and who are viewed as very good.
5. The text states, “And his lords saw that Yehovah is with him.” Does this mean that Potiphar believed in Yehovah? Folks in that culture thought that there were many gods. They didn’t dismiss the gods of others. Potiphar didn’t dismiss Yehovah, the Gods of Joseph. He knew that Yehovah prospered Joseph.
That doesn’t mean that he believed in Yehovah as his own god, but instead was glad to see that Yehovah helped Joseph do very well. Thus, Potiphar was glad that Joseph had Yehovah, since Yehovah was very kind to Joseph, and thus also to Potiphar. Joseph’s slave labour greatly benefited Potiphar. Joseph’s work was very good.
6. What did Potiphar notice about what Yehovah did for Joseph? He noticed that Yehovah prospered and make work any responsibility placed into Joseph’s hand. Thus, Potiphar could ask Joseph to do anything, and Yehovah gave Joseph the ability to succeed in that.
7. What does “in his hand” mean in verse 3? The expression, in his hand, means that something is placed into his power and into his responsibility. If your teacher places a computer into your hand, you may use it to do well, and you are responsible for it and what you do with it. The hand is the power and authority of a person. This is the way a very young child sees a hand—the hand of an adult, and his or her own hand.
8. What does “Joseph found favour in his eyes” mean? His refers to Potiphar. When Potiphar would look at Joseph (“in his eyes”), he looked at him with favour—that is, desiring to do him good, and being very pleased with him. Other slaves might be ignored or even be viewed in a bad way, but the slaves who found favour were viewed in very good ways.
9. Who is he and who is him in, “he ministered-to him”? Joseph personally ministered to Potiphar. Joseph was a personal slave.
10. What does minister mean? It means to meet the needs and sometimes also the desires of another in areas of health, responsibilities, thoughts, and other beneficial ways that are good and right.
A nurse is a minister. He or she takes care of patients by keeping their beds made, changing their sheets, changing bandages, making certain that medications are given on time and in the right doses, listening to patients, making certain that food and water come, and doing many other functions.
A schoolteacher is a minister. He or she watches the children to see that they are safe, that they are learning, that they are fed, that they have the clothing they need, that they have the books they need, that they understand the class work, and that they safely leave the schoolroom.
A parent is a minister. A librarian is a minister. A policeman and a policewoman are ministers. A senator is a minister. The president is a minister. Everyone who serves others ministers to them no matter what they do. A prison guard is a minister.
Most folks think of religion when they think of ministers. A minister serves others. Those who want others to serve and give to them are not true ministers.
11. What does “he ‘visited’ him over his house” mean? This means that he (Potiphar) set him (Joseph) as the visitor of every part of his house. A visitor in the Bible is one who comes with a responsibility for coming. It is the same as being put in charge.
If a person becomes the visitor of all dog kennels, that person visits the kennels to see if the dogs are being well-treated and well-fed.
Potiphar placed Joseph in charge so that Joseph could visit and command so that all things were done right in Potiphar’s house.
12. Why did Potiphar give all that “there is to him” (that he owned) into Joseph’s hand? Potiphar desired to do well and become even more wealthy. He saw that whatever he gave to Joseph in the way of responsibilities became profitable. Thus, the more he put into Joseph’s hand, the more Potiphar prospered. Therefore, it only made sense to give Joseph responsibility over everything so that everything will increase in good ways.
13. Do you like to be given responsibilities? (The children must answer this question.)
14. The text states in verse 5, “And he was from then.” Who is he, and when was then? He refers to the event about to be mentioned. Then refers to the period of time once Potiphar had placed Joseph in charge of all his house.
15. What does “He made-a-visitation of him in his house and over all that there is to him” mean? This is telling the reader how the responsibilities of Joseph continued to grow. Joseph is now the ‘visitor’ of Potiphar (with responsibilities that are personal to Potiphar) in Potiphar’s house, and over all that Potiphar has anywhere. Potiphar also visited to see that Joseph was running all things in the most excellent ways.
16. For whose sake did Yehovah bless Potiphar’s house? Yehovah blessed Potiphar’s house for Joseph’s sake.
17. Why would Yehovah bless a man (and his house) who had purchased a kidnapped person, and had made him a slave? Yehovah was preparing Joseph for his future work. Joseph did well while Potiphar did well.
Purchasing a kidnapped person is wrong in the Torah (the Teaching of Yehovah), but Potiphar did not have such a teaching. He did what was according to their culture.
Yehovah’s blessing doesn’t have to be given to a person who is Godly; it can be given to anyone.
18. What does bless mean in the Bible? It means to give items and/or abilities to a person or group in order to benefit others. This is not the same as a gift, since a gift can be given that will benefit no one else but the recipient. A blessing is always given so that the one receiving the blessing can use it to do others good.
19. How can a house be blessed? A house in the Bible consists of all persons who are part of a family unit or of a tribal unit whether they are born into that house or whether they are the property of the house. This word for house does not indicate the structure in which one sleeps, makes breakfast, or sits on couches; it refers to persons.
The House of Jacob consists of all humans who live and function with Jacob or with Jacob’s offspring.
If a house is blessed, all the humans who are part of that group prosper.
20. In what forms did this blessing of Yehovah come to Potiphar the Egyptian? It came in the forms of goods, wealth and success in the house of Potiphar and in the fields of Potiphar where crops were grown. Yehovah made certain that Potiphar had a great profit and had great success. That blessing enriched the lives of all involved, including all the slaves of Potiphar.
21. Why did Potiphar forsake all he had in Joseph’s hand? Potiphar trusted Joseph to do the best with all his stuff, and Potiphar trusted Joseph with Joseph’s Gods to greatly enrich Potiphar and give him success. Anything he kept back from Joseph would have perhaps done fine, but it wouldn’t have really done more than well, and Potiphar knew this.
22. Why didn’t Potiphar keep records of all that was in Joseph’s hand (“he didn’t know anything with him except the bread that he eats”)? Potiphar trusted Joseph; he knew that record keeping was not necessary.
For the sake of Joseph’s later work, we propose that Joseph kept the records.
23. Did Potiphar only eat bread? Bread in the Bible also means food. Potiphar had many food items to eat, including slaves who cooked for him (since cooking was very time-consuming and difficult). Potiphar was a busy man.
III. Joseph’s Strong Points (verses 6-9)
Joseph was beautifully shaped and beautiful appearing.
After these things, Potiphar’s woman (wife) lifted her eyes unto Joseph. She said, “Lie with me!” Joseph refused. He replied, “Behold, my lords didn’t know what is with me in the house. And he gave all that is to him into my hand. None is greater in this house than I. And he didn’t restrain anything from me except thee in that thou art his woman. And how shall I do this big bad? And I shall sin to Elohim?”
1. Why does the Bible note how Joseph looked? It is setting the background for what is about to occur. Joseph’s looks will be the excuse for what occurs. This also sets how Joseph appears in the minds of readers. (Every culture has a different view of what is handsome and beautiful; persons of every culture who read this will think that Joseph looked beautiful in their own culture!
2. Does Yehovah favour those who are handsome and beautiful more than those who are not very handsome or beautiful? Yehovah is the One Who determines how a person will look. All are made in His image. Yehovah does not favour a beautiful or handsome person over one who is not beautiful or handsome; He favours those who determine to have and design good character. Those who are wise and who do right in Yehovah’s eyes obtain His favour.
There are some who do not have physical beauty. Some even have physically not pretty shapes and forms. They can easily obtain favour from Yehovah if they will do what is right and if they will design a very good character for themselves by which they benefit others. Many who are beautiful will find themselves everlastingly in the Lake of Fire and burning Sulfur.
3. Why did Yehovah make Joseph beautiful if this would cause Joseph much trouble? Joseph determined to have a good character no matter what. Yehovah made him the way He made him so that Joseph would end up where he ended up. Even slaveowners often appreciate a beautiful slave. Beauty was important in Egypt; Joseph’s beauty and his good character together raised him in Potiphar’s eyes. That was important to Yehovah’s plan.
4. What does “and he was after these things” mean? This is the same as saying, What is about to happen occurred after these things where Joseph was established. The he in “he was after these things” refers to the event about to be described.
5. Why does Biblical Hebrew use the expression lords (plural) for one person or being in many cases instead of the singular, lord? He is the lord (that is, the boss) over many different parts of the slave’s life. He is lord of what the slave eats, lord of what the slave wears, lord of the responsibilities of the slave, lord over the social interactions of the slave, etc. Thus, Joseph referred to Potiphar is my lords. The his in, “woman of his lords” is Joseph.
6. Why did Potiphar’s woman (wife) lift her eyes unto Joseph?
- He was beautiful of form and beautiful of appearance.
- He was politically very important to her husband and therefore to Pharaoh.
- He had good character.
- She greatly desired sexual intercourse. That is the major reason.
7. What did she mean by, “Lie with me”? That was the expression used to say, “Have sexual intercourse with me,” or, “Sleep with me.”
8. Why did Joseph refuse? Wouldn’t he have benefited from doing what she said?
- Joseph’s slavemaster trusted Joseph; Joseph refused to betray him.
- This would be an immoral and an adulterous act. Joseph refused to sin.
- Joseph refused to sin against Elohim, the main reason why he refused.
- Joseph knew that bad (destruction) would occur if he had done that. It would have permanently harmed many relationships.
Joseph would not have been benefited. He would have been harmed or killed.
9. Why did Joseph answer Potiphar’s wife at all when she was trying to get Joseph to do what Joseph knew was wrong?
- Yehovah desired that readers would see and read what Joseph’s reasons were for not sinning.
- Seeing his reaction to her is an important part of the story.
- This gave room for her reaction to him.
- Had he ignored her, he would have been showing contempt for the woman of his master. You don’t do that.
10. Why did Joseph tell her that his lords didn’t know what is with Joseph in the house? Wouldn’t this make her jealous of his position being above hers? She was not against Joseph being over all, since she also became far wealthier because of the work that Joseph did.
Joseph was bringing up the issue of trust. That was his way of reminding her of how important trust is. Joseph didn’t insult her, but reminded her of trust and its importance.
11. What does “he gave all that is to him into my hand” mean? This shows that Potiphar gave Joseph complete authority over all Potiphar’s stuff.
12. Isn’t the statement, “none is greater in this house than I,” an arrogant statement? It isn’t arrogant, because Joseph wasn’t bragging. He was showing her the responsibilities that he had. It authenticated his other statements: he was trusted.
13. Does the statement, “he didn’t restrain anything from me except thee,” indicate that Joseph could have taken another slavewoman of Potiphar for his girlfriend or wife? Potiphar would probably not have been against this, since all was entrusted to Joseph. Joseph could have, but he didn’t touch anything that didn’t belong to himself. Since nothing belonged to himself but the clothes that he wore, he refused to touch anything.
14. What did Joseph mean by, “how shall I do this big bad?” His question was asking how in the world he would do something that was so harmful. He knew it was wrong, and he knew it would do terrible damage. How could he do that? He just couldn’t!
15. What did he mean by, “And I shall sin to Elohim?” Joseph knew that sin is against Elohim (Gods—the Gods of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob)! If he did what she demanded, he would be sinning to Elohim—straight at Him!
IV. Insistence and Persistence (verse 10)
Potiphar’s wife spoke daily to him with the same words. He didn’t hearken unto her to lie beside her, to be with her.
1. How often did Potiphar’s woman try to get Joseph to sin? She tried to get him to sin on a daily basis. She spoke to him using many words.
2. Why didn’t Joseph hearken unto her? To hearken is to listen and obey. Joseph didn’t hearken unto her because he didn’t want to do wrong against Elohim. He also didn’t want to do wrong against Potiphar.
3. What did she want him to do, according to verse 10? She wanted him to lie beside her (perhaps while she slept) and to be with her (perhaps to keep her company). If he did these things, she thought she could get him to ‘make love’ to her, since that was her goal. He refused to do any of these things.
V. The Trap (verses 11-12)
It was a normal day. He went to the house to do his errand. No one of the men of the house was in the house. She caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me!” He forsook his garment into her hand, and he fled. He exited to the outside.
1. Who is he in, “and he was as this day”? He is the event that is about to happen.
2. Was his going to the house to do his errand wise? It was his responsibility. If he had not done this, he would have been considered a lazy slave. It was wise; yet it was a problem.
3. Why didn’t Joseph just tell Potiphar what his woman was trying to do? If Joseph had told Potiphar, what could Potiphar do? Potiphar couldn’t believe his slave over his wife. Joseph would have been interfering in the relationship between a husband and a wife. Joseph knew that he had to be silent regarding this, and take whatever comes because of it.
4. When Joseph arrived, none of the men of the house were there in the house. Why is this important, and who were these men? These men included women, since men (plural) can include women. Some women slaves would have done particular types of work around the house.
Since no one was home, Joseph was alone in the house. This is fine as long as Potiphar’s woman doesn’t come into the house. If Joseph and she are there together without anyone else being present, there can be trouble.
5. Was Potiphar’s woman in the house? Yes, she was!
6. Why hadn’t she caught him by his garment before this time? There were usually other folks in the house; they would have been a witness that Potiphar’s woman was going after Joseph. Since no one was there, it was Joseph’s word against Potiphar’s wife’s word, and Joseph was a slave.
7. Why did Joseph leave his garment instead of jerking it away out of her hand? Joseph knew that the very garment belonged to Potiphar. He wasn’t about to even do that much violence. He just left the garment, and went outside.
8. Did Joseph have another garment on underneath his garment that she kept? Joseph had no other garment except perhaps a wrapping around his waste very much like underpants. The text doesn’t state that he even had that. A slave didn’t need to have fancy, multiple-wrapped garments. I propose that he went outside naked except perhaps for the equivalent of underpants.
9. Why did Joseph go outside? Joseph refused to remain in the house with her; she would only continue to urge him to sin.
10. Did Joseph run away? Joseph did not run away. He remained there on the property of Potiphar. If he had run away, that would have made him look guilty.
VI. Fury (verses 13-15)
She saw that he forsook his garment in her hand, and that he fled outside. She then called to the men of her house.
She said to them, “See-ye! He brought to us a Hebrew man to laugh via us! He came unto me to lie with me! And I called with a big voice! And he was as his hearing that I elevated my voice. And I called. And he forsook his garment beside me. And he fled! And exited outsideward!”
1. Didn’t Joseph make himself look guilty by leaving his garment in her hand? Joseph didn’t make himself look anything. It was handy for her to accuse him, however.
2. Why did she call to the men of the house? She wanted to accuse Joseph right away so that they would know when this event occurred. That way, they could testify that she called for their help at that very time.
3. What did she mean by, “See-ye! He brought to us a Hebrew man to laugh via us”? She was claiming that her husband brought this Hebrew to make jokes at the expense of the Egyptians—to mock the Egyptians.
4. Why did she call Joseph a Hebrew man? Some Egyptians didn’t like any of the Hebrews; they were low-class to them (since some of them were shepherds). This was a racist statement against the Hebrews. She knew that some of the others of the house might go along with her.
5. She said, “He came unto me to lie with me.” Was that true? No; it was a blatant (open and bold) lie.
6. Wasn’t she afraid that her husband might not believe her? I propose that she knew he had to believe her. He would have offended her and her family if he had believed a slave instead of believing her.
7. Did she call with a big voice? Yes, she did—after Joseph fled. She called the ‘men’ of the house!
8. What did she mean by, “he was as his hearing that I elevated my voice”? The he again refers to the event. The event took place as Joseph heard that she elevated her voice—the event of Joseph’s fleeing, according to her lie.
9. Why did Joseph flee, according to her? Joseph fled because she elevated her voice and shouted for help, according to her lie.
10. What does the made-up word “outsideward” mean? It means toward the outside.
VII. Potiphar’s Reaction (verses 16-20)
She rested his garment beside her until Potiphar returned home. She spoke to him in this manner: “The Hebrew slave whom thou brought to us came unto me to laugh via me. And he was as my elevating my voice. And I called. And he forsook his garment beside me. And he fled outsideward!”
When Potiphar heard these speeches of his woman saying, “Thy slave did to me according to these speeches,” his nose heated!
Potiphar took Joseph and gave him unto the prison house where the king’s prisoners were bound. Joseph was now in the prison house.
1. Why did she rest Joseph’s garment beside her? What was she doing? She wanted the drama to be very intense! Therefore, she stayed right there with his garment beside her so that her husband would have the strongest reaction to this event.
2. Did she like Joseph, or did she hate him? She started out liking Joseph and desiring him, but she turned to hate him because he refused her. This must have embarrassed her—a slave refusing a woman like her.
3. How long did she have to wait for her husband’s return? The text doesn’t say. It may have been hours.
4. Why didn’t Joseph try to get his garment back again? Had Joseph tried to get the garment back, he would have been admitting that he did wrong by leaving without it, and this would have implied that he had made an attempt of rape.
5. What did Joseph do during the time of waiting for the return of his master? The text doesn’t state what he did. He could have gone about his responsibilities, but this would have been strange without his garments.
6. What was she saying and implying when she stated, “The Hebrew slave whom thou brought to us came unto me to laugh via me”?
- She again brought up the race issue: “the Hebrew.” She implied that Joseph was a low-life slave brought from shepherds. The Egyptians considered all shepherds as abominations—as totally morally and ethically disgusting.
- She was accusing her husband: “The Hebrew slave whom thou brought to us…” Her husband caused the problem by bringing one of them into the house.
- She then stated that Joseph “came unto me to laugh via me,” to make fun of her, to make a joke of her.
7. According to her story, why would Joseph have left his garment with her? The only reason why he would have done that would be if he were in the process of trying to rape her.
8. Did she say these things one time to her husband? Verse 19 refers to speeches. She told him the story several times, affirming (claiming to be true) that Potiphar’s slave did this to her just as she said he did. She repeated it until it sounded true.
9. What does “his nose heated” mean? This means that he became very angry.
10. At whom did Potiphar become very angry? I have asked myself this question.
If I say that he became angry at Joseph, which seems to be the most obvious answer, this means that he believed his wife, and no longer trusted Joseph. Yet, this man had good sense regarding truth and lying. He had trusted Joseph for years. Joseph never ran from the property, and there is no text indicating that Joseph defended himself or claimed himself as an innocent victim of a setup. Potiphar may have believed his wife, but it took him long enough to believe her, since she repeated her speeches at least once.
If I say that Potiphar became angry at his wife, I cannot prove this, since there are no words in the text indicating this. Even if he became angry at his wife, Potiphar could not stand with Joseph against his wife; he didn’t have proof or evidence.
If I say that Potiphar became angry with himself, I am probably right. Joseph was the best thing that had happened to him in years. He would now have to send Joseph away, and the blessing would go away with Joseph.
Potiphar was in a terrible fix.
11. Verse 20 states, “Joseph’s lords took him.” What does this tell the reader? This tells the reader that Potiphar didn’t send Joseph. He could have bound him and sent him, or more realistically, he could have killed him, had he been convinced that Joseph, a slave, had attempted to rape his wife. Instead, he took him, more like what a father might do with a son he is taking to the university! It was a very kind act rather than a hostile act.
12. The text states, “he gave him unto the house of the prison.” What does this tell the reader? This is not the same as, “he threw him into prison;” it is far gentler.
13. Who was over the house of the prison? I do not know who was over this prison, but since Potiphar is the prince of the executioners, he would have great power in this prison. He may have been in charge of it.
14. Who are bound ones of the king? They are arrested folks who directly interacted with the king (with Pharaoh). They are royal prisoners—prisoners from the highest ranks of society.
15. Why would these folks be bound (arrested and imprisoned)? They were accused of violating the laws of the land of Egypt and/or of doing wrong against the king of Egypt.
16. Why did Potiphar place a mere slave into a prison designed for royal prisoners, prisoners from the highest ranks of society? This gives me the impression that Potiphar wasn’t so convinced that Joseph had done wrong. If Potiphar was also in charge of the prison, he knew that Joseph would do well there, and would bring blessings from his Gods (Yehovah) upon the prison.
17. Did Potiphar’s wife get away with her lies? She did, for the time being. The blessings that Joseph brought with him were now gone. Potiphar no longer benefited from these at home. Things returned to the way they used to be before Joseph came, I propose.
(I wonder if Potiphar and his wife had a change in their relationship because of this—especially if Potiphar had grown to love Joseph.)