If We Interpreted Joseph’s Story the Way Some Treat Victims…

Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And a man high in the government purchased him and brought Joseph to his large estate. And Joseph lived in the house of his boss. There Joseph found favor in the boss’s eyes and became his attendant. The boss put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to Joseph’s care everything he owned. From the time the boss put Joseph in charge of his household and of all that he owned, everything—in and outside of the house—prospered because of Joseph. So the boss promoted Joseph; everything except what the boss ate was entrusted to Joseph’s care.  

Now Joseph was studly, and he could have dressed more conservatively and not shown off his muscles so much. And sure enough, after a while the boss’s wife was tempted by him. She couldn’t help herself. “Girls will be girls,” especially if someone is constantly showing off his abs. So she told Joseph, “Come to bed with me!”

But he refused. He told her, “Your husband has entrusted to my care everything he owns. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife.”

“See?” she said. “You even know you’re awesome. Flaunting it a bit, aren’t you?” She winked.

A variation on this conversation repeated itself daily, because Joseph did not keep his distance from her and he certainly did not report her as he should have. (So he was kind of “asking for it.”)

One day after Joseph had tasted the boss’s wine to make sure it was of high quality, he went inside the house to fix a window. Of course, he should have waited till others were present rather than being alone with a woman. (Plus, he’d been drinking—seriously asking for it.) Additionally, he should have worn less seductive clothing. Because his clothing came right off his body and into her hand. But did he cry out? No. Did he report it? No.  

When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, she called her household staff. “Look,” she said to them. “He tried to sexually assault me. His clothes were not even securely fashioned. He even stripped in the house!” Plus, she pointed out that she had no scratches on her body—which she would surely have if she had been the aggressor.  

When she told her husband her story, he burned with anger. And he pressed charges against Joseph. When Joseph tried to tell his side, the prosecuting attorney asked what time he got to work. He couldn’t remember exactly—because it was cloudy and the sundial wasn’t working. The attorney asked what workers were near the house that day. Joseph could not name one—because, it was argued, he waited to attack till the coast was clear. Nor could he name one person he had told that she repeatedly propositioned him. And he could not produce one witness who had ever seen her do so. Obviously, there were big holes in his testimony. Which meant Joseph went to jail—which was sad, but some of that was his own fault for exercising such poor judgment.  

Some years later when he was trying to rebuilt his life, someone came forward who had heard Joseph resist the boss’s wife a few times. But the court said anyone who waited so long must be making it up. So that person's testimony was discredited.

And public opinion on this new development was that even if the boss's wife had actually been lying and Joseph was telling the truth, those events happened a long time ago. And people deserved second chances. And Joseph should just move on. And whether she did wrong by him was not actually even relevant to her positions on the city council and as a pillar of the church. Joseph just needed to forgive. Show grace. Let it go.  


Sandra Glahn, who holds a Master of Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) and a PhD in The Humanities—Aesthetic Studies from the University of Texas/Dallas, is a professor at DTS. This creator of the Coffee Cup Bible Series (AMG) based on the NET Bible is the author or coauthor of more than twenty books. She's the wife of one husband, mother of one daughter, and owner of two cats. Chocolate and travel make her smile. You can follow her on Twitter @sandraglahn ; on FB /Aspire2 ; and find her at her web site: aspire2.com.

Leave a Reply