The most popular thing to have been said about Joseph fleeing Potiphar’s wife was he was fleeing sexual immorality and that that is the best thing to do “flee youthful lusts” and so forth. Yet I want to dig a little deeper. I’ve wondered did Joseph find her attractive, I mean maybe he ran because he did not like her anyway all of us are not attracted to all of the rest of us after all. In reading his words and how he reacted I think he did find her attractive.
Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. It came about after these events that his master’s wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.”Genesis 39:6-7 NASB
Joseph’s reaction was
But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge. There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?”
Genesis 39:8-9 NASB
Joseph did not say, “You don’t please me, I find no favor in your countenance, I desire you not, you are like my master himself to me” remember I have to speak bible here or I would have him say “I am not attracted to you, I don’t want you, I want you no more than I would want one of the same sex”. I don’t think Joseph was at the point where he knew he was being stalked, I think he was fuzzy headed about that. Perhaps he was so attracted that he thought it was his fault and was staying away from her so as not to sin. Maybe he thought she was asking for sex because he was attracted to her. I’m sure there are people who think the stalking and/or assault is their fault because they are attracted to that person; that simply is not true. I find his staying away from her presence commendable and wise. Yet the real danger was her, she probably noticed his attraction and used that against him. Most women noticing this sweet man’s attraction would have treated him like everyone else and put him at his ease until he got over it. Attraction is like a bad cold it passes, it may be a five or six year bad cold but it will pass and is more an awkward annoyance than a danger in good people, even if they both have the same virus. Good women who have come down with what I call the attraction virus say to themselves “Oh man there is that Joseph, I will leave the room because I simply can’t help feeling this rush around him or I will talk to him like a brother and get over it”, she certainly would not be asking for sex. I’m guessing good men do the same. Don’t think attraction is lust or sin, acknowledge your natural feelings. If you repress them that only leads to false guilt and even a mydrid of other things. I don’t think she was the lonely wife of a cold, stupid husband. This is Potiphar, he was intelligent. The way he saw Joseph’s gifts and abilities makes me think he had a good amount of wisdom himself and an attractive amount of skill and ability to listen and be of good character. If he loved a hebrew slave named Joseph, he was certainly highly capable of love and friendship with his wife. This is not a story of an abused or neglected wife who falls for her husband’s employee and the employee grounds himself and refuses to sin and you feel kinda disappointed that they did not run away together sooner or later sinfully or not. Nor is this story about two people who gradually slide down a slippery slop of developing an illicit relationship and we kinda hate them both for betraying a spouse and the hope for a revived marriage. The lonely abused neglected wife doesn’t act like a psychopath and lie for revenge because she did not get what she wanted. The two people sliding into an affair, one doesn’t stalk and falsely accuse the other after all they have some mutuality even if morality is a bit lacking. I have felt sorry for Potiphar he is the abused husband, being married to what seems to be an emotionally detached woman who had her eye on men younger than her whom she should have treated like brothers and sons. You can be sure Joseph wasn’t the first, that’s how it works. She was sneaky enough that no one was ever sure of her sins. I am sure Potiphar felt confused about her. One has to wonder how she treated her husband, was she covertly or overtly neglectful or abusive and how so, what sort of things did she say to him in the bedroom? Her being the extremely rare, mentally unstable type of women who would lie and flip the tables claiming Joseph attempted to rape her when she was the stalking assaulting perpetrator shows me Potiphar was married to a women who had extreme problems, a pathological liar, an entitled narcissist, she thought Joseph should just do what she wanted. Joseph’s reaction to her by saying how Potiphar trusted him and he would not do this evil and then fleeing later in the story was healthy it is the thing that works if you are attracted to someone and things could go very wrong in an instant; you have love and empathy for others. One must simply not hurt the other people. Joseph’s story is rich with his ability to empathize and think things through with his heart. Attraction is nothing compared for your love/empathy for everyone it would hurt especially the hurting husband/wife whoever the case may be. I think Joseph possessed a lot of emotional intelligence. He knew it would hurt her husband and even if no one found out their relationship of trust on Joseph’s part would never be the same. He knew it would harm his relationship with God. Potiphar’s wife was blinded by power and she wanted what she wanted. Joseph was a victim of stalking/assault by a women who had power. Potiphar’s wife was in lust, Joseph seemed to merely be attracted. Attraction is like a cold, lust is like self harm that may progress to the point it can kill. Lust is on a spectrum so be careful; most of us are not a psychopath like Potiphar’s wife but desire for the physical can become overwhelming diregarding others, God, and our own future, but that is a whole other blog post. Here is a word study on lust
I don’t think Joseph realized how evil she was because he hadn’t progressed into having the “cringe factor” that is where someone whom you are attracted to is stalking and assaulting to the point you lose the attraction and the sight of them makes you gag. You don’t want to be near them you cannot stand them. I wasn’t sure if men get the “cringe factor” too so I asked a young man and yes they do. Men are human and the man I asked said “It just makes me feel CRINGE no attraction just cringe”. I wonder if he started feeling some anxiety every time she was in the same room even with others about, I think he did, sometimes anxious feelings help keep us safe. I’m certain Joseph said to himself “That is one nasty, yucky woman” and realized she was a lustful stalker sooner or later. Perhaps some moments before or while or after he was fleeing, or he may have felt confused for a while following the whole incident. I’m certain he hated her at some point the story doesn’t say, but it’s only natural, that sitting in prison he hated her. I think he must of forgiven and drawn near to God or he would not have excelled and his story would have been quite different, he would have stayed a victim. If one is not at the point of forgiving one must still move forward in other areas so as to not stay stuck. I’m almost sure the story of Joseph is history and not a metaphor but his prison stay certainly has metaphoric meaning as a lot of real things do. The prison can mean slowly coming out of that place of despair. The cup bearer not remembering Joseph reminds me of when we think we are free and then it takes a little more time and we are still a victim or at best a survivor and not thriving yet. Yet Joseph goes on to thrive and heal and grow in many ways. This story of Potifar’s wife is only one piece of his story more than enough angst had happened to him before so I encourage you to read or reread the whole.
Joseph definitely could have posted #metoo .