Hated by my brothers and sold by them to slave traders making their way down to Egypt, my life was never to be the same again. No longer was I the dearly loved son of my father Isaac, but the lowest slave in the household of Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s servants. But the Lord had not left me, and whatever I put my hand to, God blessed. In fact, His blessing was so great upon me that Potiphar realised the Lord was with me and put me in charge of more and more of his estate. Potiphar became fond of me, and after a while he put me in charge of his entire household. And from the day I was put in charge, the Lord blessed Potiphar in every way. He had no worries of any kind except to decide what food he would have put on the table.
But it was also at this time that the wife of Potiphar started to take notice of me. She would come to me when her husband was not around and ask me to embrace her and kiss her! But I would not do such an evil thing! ‘Look,’ I said to her. ‘My master has put me in charge of his entire estate; he has not held anything back from me except you, for you are his wife. So how could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a terrible sin against God!’ But she would not listen to me.
Day after day she pestered me, ‘Oh come on Joseph, just a little kiss and cuddle, no one will know.’ But I refused and as much as I could I avoided her.
However, the day came when I thought I was alone in the house doing my daily chores, when Potiphar’s wife sneaked up behind me and grabbed hold of me shirt. ‘Come on Joseph, kiss me now,’ she insisted. ‘I’m not going to let you go this time.’
She had trapped me, but as quickly as I could, I ducked out of my shirt, leaving it in her hands, and ran out of the house. But this was too much for Potiphar’s wife; she could not take being rejected by me time and time again. Seeing that she still had my shirt, she started to scream and scream until all the men came running to find out what had happened. When the men arrived, she sobbed out her lies. ‘Joseph tried to hurt me. But when I screamed he stopped and ran away. Look I have his shirt as proof!’
When her husband came home later that night, his wife told him the same lies she had told all the other men. Potiphar was furious and threw me into prison.
What had happened to me? The Lord had been blessing me, even though I had been sold by my brothers as a slave. But now, because of this woman’s evil lies I was thrown into prison – with no hope of ever being set free again. (PAUSE)
But even in prison, the Lord God had not left me. What ever I did, He blessed! Until the day came when the jailer put me in charge of the running of the whole prison. The chief jailer did not need to trouble himself about anything because the Lord blessed everything I did. (PAUSE)
Some time later, Pharaoh sent two new prisoners to the jail. One was the cupbearer to King Pharaoh, who tasted the wine before giving it to Pharaoh, to make sure it had not been poisoned. The other was the chief baker. (P) I was put in charge of these new prisoners. One morning when I went to see to their needs I noticed a worried look on their faces. ‘What’s the matter?’ I asked, ‘Why do you both look so anxious?’
‘We both had dreams last night,’ they said. ‘And we know they have meanings, but there isn’t anyone here to explain them to us.’
‘Explaining dreams is God’s business,’ I replied. ‘But even so, tell me what you dreamed.’
The chief cupbearer spoke first. ‘Last night I dreamed I saw a grape vine with three branches on it. And as I watched, the branches budded, then blossomed, and then bunches of grapes appeared. I was holding Pharaoh’s cup in my hand, and I walked over to the grapes and squeezed the juice from them into Pharaoh’s cup. Then I took the cup to Pharaoh and gave it to him.’
‘I know what that dream means,’ I told him. ‘The three branches means three days. In three days time Pharaoh will call you out of prison and restore you to your position as chief cupbearer. But please, when you are restored, mention me to Pharaoh, because I was kidnapped from my home land, and now I’m in jail and I haven’t done anything wrong!’
The chief baker had been listening to our conversation, and because I had given a good explanation of the cupbearer’s dream, he decided to tell me his dream. ‘In my dream,’ he started, ‘I was holding three baskets full of bakery products on my head. The top basket had all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but then the birds came along and started to eat them.’
When I heard his dream, my heart fell. But I could not hold back the explanation. ‘In your dream, the three baskets also mean three days. But in three days, Pharaoh will cut off you head and leave your body to be eaten by the birds.’ (PAUSE)
Three days later, Pharaoh had a birthday party. And during the celebrations, just as I had explained, he restored the cupbearer and had the chief baker killed. (P) However, the cupbearer completely forgot about me, not giving me a second thought.
And so, for the next two years I continued to wait in jail.