9 Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh, saying, I do remember my faults this day: 10 Pharaoh was wroth with his servants, and put me in ward in the captain of the guard's house, both me and the chief baker: 11 And we dreamed a dream in one night, I and he; we dreamed each man according to the interpretation of his dream. 12 And there was there with us a young man, an Hebrew, servant to the captain of the guard; and we told him, and he interpreted to us our dreams; to each man according to his dream he did interpret. 13 And it came to pass, as he interpreted to us, so it was; me he restored unto mine office, and him he hanged. 14 Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh. 15 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it. 16 And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.
Have you ever intended to present the gospel to someone but, at the last minute, changed your mind because you feared that they would be offended and become angry with you? Most Christians have probably done the same thing and afterward have been ashamed of their lack of courage.
We are not willing to risk losing a friend, destroying a relationship, or causing a confrontation with someone. We fear what people might think of us, and so it is much easier to keep our mouths shut.
In this passage, we have a fine example of someone who overcame his fears through his faith in God.
The Pharaoh had been unable to find anyone who could interpret his dreams. His chief butler, who had conveniently forgotten about Joseph, saw the Pharaoh's problem as an opportunity to use Joseph for his own advancement. Notice how he confesses to the Pharaoh that he was at fault when the Pharaoh had him thrown into the prison. This was said in order to show the Pharaoh that he appreciated his mercy and to avoid angering him again over the matter. Only then did he tell him about Joseph.
There is a sense of urgency in what followed. Psalm 119:19 tells us that Joseph was imprisoned, "Until the time that his word came…" It was God's schedule by which everything was happening to Joseph. The butler was only a tool. Now that God's word came, there was nothing that could stop Joseph's rise to the powerful position that would allow him to save his family, God's church, from the coming famine.
Joseph was quickly cleaned up, appropriately groomed, and rushed to stand before Pharaoh. It was his opportunity to get out of the dungeon. All he had to do was to impress the king with his talent for interpreting dreams. Do you remember how you felt when you thought the gospel might anger someone? What do you think was going through Joseph's mind when he said, "It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace"?
He was a slave of the captain of the prison guard, a dirty low-life not even worthy of the butler's respect. He was rushed before the most powerful heathen in the world and given an opportunity to prove himself or be thrown back into the dungeons. Yet, Joseph stood before that heathen king and said, "You don't need me. Only God can give you an answer."
God will not share his glory with any man. "I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images… Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him." (Isaiah 42:8; 43:7)" Joseph, made for the glory of God, humbled himself before the Pharaoh so that God's power might be known by him.
We might think this to be a very risky strategy, which Joseph adopted. The truth is, however, that it was a tremendous step of faith. Only someone, who recognized the sovereignty of God over all things, could have mustered the necessary faith in that situation. There was no risk, because God is in control.
There is also no risk for you when you tell someone about Jesus Christ. God is in control. If that person gets angry or thinks less of you, you have not lost anything. In fact, you have gained everything, because you have honored God, and He is in control.
Before The Throne:
Confess your failures to tell others about the Lord Jesus Christ. Confess your fears and weaknesses. Ask God to use you for His glory. Pray that He will increase your knowledge of Him and strengthen your faith. Give Him the credit for every accomplishment in your life.
For Further Study:
(v.9) ** I do remember. Gen 40:1-3,14,23;
(v.10) ** Pharaoh. Gen 39:20; 40:2,3; ** captain. Gen 37:36;
(v.11) Gen 40:5-8;
(v.12) ** servant. Gen 37:36; 39:1,20; ** interpreted. Gen 40:12-19;
(v.13) ** me he restored. Gen 40:12,20-22; Jer 1:10; Eze 43:3;
(v.14) ** sent. 1Sa 2:7,8; Ps 105:19-22; 113:7,8; ** and they brought him. Ex 10:16; 1Sa 2:8; Ps 113:7,8; Da 2:25; ** he shaved. 2Sa 19:24; 2Ki 25:29; Es 4:1-4; 5:1; Isa 61:3,10; Jer 52:32,33;
(v.15) ** I have heard. Ps 25:14; Da 5:12,16;
(v.16) ** It is not. Gen 40:8; Nu 12:6; 2Ki 6:27; Da 2:18-23,28-30,47; 4:2; Ac 3:7,12; Ac 14:14,15; 1Co 15:10; 2Co 3:5; ** peace. Gen 37:14; Lu 19:42;
1 And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river. 2 And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favoured kine and fatfleshed; and they fed in a meadow. 3 And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill favoured and leanfleshed; and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river. 4 And the ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven well favoured and fat kine. So Pharaoh awoke. 5 And he slept and dreamed the second time: and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good. 6 And, behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them. 7 And the seven thin ears devoured the seven rank and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, it was a dream. 8 And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh.
Two more years passed without sign of encouragement for Joseph. Thirteen years of slavery and imprisonment had given Joseph the opportunity to mature from an arrogant young teenager into a man full of the wisdom of God, having the patience of one who had been tried like gold in the fire and the experience of someone who had learned to wait upon the Lord. God had molded His man into the perfect servant for the responsibilities that Joseph would now be given.
The Pharaoh, however, is the central figure in our text for today. God uses the heathen to accomplish His will on earth. Sometimes that involved the giving of a special revelation to one of them, in this case, the Pharaoh. The name Pharaoh might have been derived from the Egyptian word phre meaning sun. He was considered to be close to the sun god and destined to become a god himself after death. Thus, the Pharaoh was treated as a divine being.
But this god is now reduced to a state of worried helplessness by two simple dreams from the one and only true God. In the first dream, seven healthy and well fed cows, or perhaps hippopotami, emerged from the Nile and fed among the reeds of the river banks. The number seven signified completion or fate in most of the ancient cultures, so Pharaoh more than likely understood that these dreams were telling him something about his own future. The seven cows were followed by seven starving cows who came out of the Nile and ate the healthy ones.
In the second dream, the number seven is again evident and unhealthy ears of corn devoured the healthy ones. The former appeared to have been blasted with the east wind. This wind would have actually come from the south in Egypt, but this was written for the people of Israel who would have experienced the same effects coming from their east. The east wind was a small storm that carried the heat and the sands of the desert as it blew furiously across the ground drying up and sandblasting everything in its path. The meaning of this dream was much more evident than that of the first, but Pharaoh understood neither of them and his spirit was troubled.
"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14) It is no wonder that Pharaoh's magicians and wise men could not interpret the dreams. What is most amazing is the fact that they did not offer an opinion anyway. Surely God must have silenced them so that Joseph would be called.
The things of God must be spiritually discerned. There are many in this world like the magicians and wise men of Egypt, who claim to have gifts of spiritual discernment, of divination, of prophecy, of direct revelation from God or from false gods. They offer their advice to any that will listen. Bookstores, including our Christian bookstores, are full of their writings and television stations broadcast their false doctrines throughout the world. They appeal to those who want the word of God simplified, softened, or to be entertaining. People who are too lazy or too carnal to seek God on their own make these modern day magicians wealthy and powerful. Like the Pharaoh of Egypt, they are without counsel.
Where do you get your understanding of the things of God? Please do not rely on my daily devotions, for I am only a man who frequently makes mistakes. Be like Joseph. Develop a relationship with God. Learn to study His word. Get your understanding from the Holy Spirit and only use things like commentaries and devotionals as guides to open new avenues of study. " For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ." (1 Corinthians 2:16)
Before The Throne:
Pray for understanding. Ask God to open your eyes to the deepest meanings of scripture. Ask Him to help you discern false teaching and errors of interpretation. Commit yourself to studying God's word in depth. If you do not know how to study the word of God, pray that He would lead you to a good teacher or book on the subject. Good Bible study is not based on some magical formula but on common sense. Ask Him for the gift of common sense.
For Further Study:
(v.1) ** two full years. Gen 29:14; ** that Pharaoh. Gen 20:3; 37:5-10; 40:5; Jud 7:13,14; Es 6:1; Job 33:15,16; Da 2:1-3; Da 4:5-18; 7:1-8:27; Mt 27:19; ** the river. Gen 31:21; Ex 1:22; 4:9; De 11:10; Isa 19:5; Eze 29:3,9;
(v.5) ** rank. Heb. fat. De 32:14;
(v.6) ** blasted. Eze 17:10; 19:12; Ho 13:15;
(v.7) ** a dream. Gen 20:3; 37:5;
(v.8 ) ** his spirit. Gen 40:6; Da 2:1-3; 4:5,19; 5:6; 7:28; 8:27; Hab 3:16|;** the magicians of Egypt. Ex 7:11,22; 8:7,18,19; 9:11; Le 19:31; 20:6; De 18:9-14; Isa 8:19; 19:3; 29:14; 47:12,13; Da 1:20; 2:2; 4:7; 5:7,11; Ac 17:18; ** the wise men. Mt 2:1; Ac 7:22; ** but there. Gen 40:8; Job 5:12,13; Ps 25:14; Isa 19:11-13; 29:14; Da 2:4-11,27,28; Da 5:8; 1Co 1:19; 3:18-20;
1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. 2 Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.
The first verse of this chapter
is thought by many to belong to the previous discussion as a closing statement, but it appears to me to be a bridge from the discussion of what foods could be eaten to one about worship in general. "Be ye followers of me," is an invitation to be serious disciples, ones who strove to be like their master, as was the case in the rabbinic tradition.
The Greek word rendered as followers by the KJV is mimetai
and means to be imitators. Jesus called His disciples with the words, "Follow me." He used a different Greek word, but every Jew knew that, when the rabbi called you to follow him, he meant that you should learn to be like him. Jesus called His disciples to follow Him. They were with Him twenty=four hours a day and seven days a week. They observed everything that He did in the ministry and learned to be like Him.
Paul did not have the opportunity to walk with Jesus as the other apostles had. However, he spent his entire life attempting to imitate Christ and to be an example for others to follow. Now he invites the Corinthians to imitate his life and ministry.
"Now I praise you brethren, that ye remember me in all things." As I have said in previous notes, Paul appears to have been answering questions that were apparently sent to him in a letter. So, before going into his next topic, Paul took the opportunity to praise the Corinthians for remembering what he had taught them and for coming to him with their questions.
"...and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you." The Greek word that is rendered as ordinances is παράδοσις paradosis
(par-ad'-os-is), a noun which is defined as 1. a transmission 2. (concretely) a precept 3. (specially) the Jewish traditionary law. It refers to those things that were transmitted from one to another. To the Jews, it meant their traditions that were passed down orally and which they held to be as binding as God's written law. Jesus opposed those traditions. He said, "For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do." Those were not the traditions or "ordinances" of which Paul was speaking. Rather, he was referring to the teachings of the Christian faith, which he had transmitted to them when he was with them.
The teachings of our faith have now been written down so that we have no excuse for not keeping them as they have been delivered to us. However the devil likes to get in our way by deceiving ungodly men into believing that they can add to, subtract from or pervert their meaning. These men will always try to infiltrate our churches with their false doctrine. It is our duty as disciples of Christ to learn His word and to imitate Him just as Paul did, but that is difficult when we fail to study His word and allow ourselves to be deceived by false teachers.
Before The Throne:
Pray about your own life as a disciple of Christ? Is imitating Him your number one priority? Have you been an example for others to follow? Are you skilled in the use of His word or do you follow the teaching and traditions of men? Let the Spirit guide you as you think about these things, then ask God to show you what changes you need to make.
For Further Study:
** Be ye. 1Cor 4:16; 1Cor 10:33; Phil 3:17; 1Thess 1:6; 2Thess 3:9; Heb 6:12; ** even. Rom 15:2-3; Eph 5:1-2; Phil 2:4-5
** I praise. 1Cor 11:17, 22; Prov 31:28-31; ** that. 1Cor 4:17; 1Cor 15:2; ** keep. 1Cor 7:17; Luke 1:6; 1Thess 4:1-2; 2Thess 2:15; 2Thess 3:6;
20 And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants. 21 And he restored the chief butler unto his butlership again; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand: 22 But he hanged the chief baker: as Joseph had interpreted to them. 23 Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.
Birthdays are wonderful times to celebrate the gift of life that God has granted to us, times when children receive the promises of their parents, times when the young are elated with surprises, and times for expressing our love toward one another. If we do not allow them to be occasions of covetousness and we do not forget to give thanks for God's blessings, birthdays can be very special.
In the Bible, however, the only recorded birthday celebrations were days filled with death and disappointment. In the New Testament, Herod celebrated his birthday by having John the Baptist beheaded at the request of Herod's daughter, Herodias. The head was then presented to her on a platter.
In our text, Joseph's interpretation of the dreams came to pass exactly as he had said. Three days went by and the baker and butler were brought before the Pharaoh, apparently during his birthday celebration. The baker was found guilty and hanged and the butler was restored to his position. Perhaps the Pharaoh had missed his loyal servant's company, and his restoration was Pharaoh's gift to himself.
This was one of the most exciting times in Joseph's life. He now had the hope and even the probability of immediate release from prison. This was the work of God. He gave the servants their dreams. He also gave Joseph the interpretation of their dreams. The exact fulfillment was God's way of showing that He was in control. Surely the butler would remember the favor that Joseph had done for him and would mention him to the Pharaoh.
How painfully disappointing it must have been for Joseph to sit there in that dungeon waiting endlessly for the pardon that never came. What went through his mind? How did he pray?
God does not always do what we think He will do nor in the way that we think He ought to do it. It is not good to be presumptuous toward Him. Of course, the scriptures do not tell us that Joseph anticipated his own immediate release, but most people would have been anxiously waiting.
The waiting process is God's way of strengthening our faith and teaching us patience.
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (Romans 5:1-5) Paul said that we should be glad for those times when we find ourselves left behind in one of life's dungeons. They teach us patience, give us hope and create opportunities do demonstrate our faith.
Psalm 123:2 says, "Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us." We must trust God, even when he appears to have let us down. We are mere servants and have nothing to gain without His mercy, which is certain to come to those who love Him.
"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31)
Before The Throne:
Thank God for His promise that tribulation will build your patience, experience, and hope. Praise Him for the opportunities to demonstrate your faith to others during hardships. Memorize Isaiah 40:31, implant it in your heart and recite it
the next time life appears to be a losing battle.
For Further Study:
(v.20) ** birthday. Gen 21:8; Es 1:3; Job 3:1; Mt 14:6; Mr 6:21; ** lifted up. 2Ki 25:27; Mt 18:23-25; 25:19; Lu 16:1,2;
(v.21) ** gave the cup. Ne 2:1;
(v.22) ** he hanged. Gen 41:11-13,16; Jer 23:28; Da 2:19-23,30; 5:12; Ac 5:30;
(v.23) ** but forgat him. Job 19:14; Ps 31:12; 105:19; Ec 9:15,16; Am 6:6;
9 And the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, In my dream, behold, a vine was before me; 10 And in the vine were three branches: and it was as though it budded, and her blossoms shot forth; and the clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes: 11 And Pharaoh's cup was in my hand: and I took the grapes, and pressed them into Pharaoh's cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand. 12 And Joseph said unto him, This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days: 13 Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh's cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler. 14 But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and shew kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house: 15 For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon. 16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said unto Joseph, I also was in my dream, and, behold, I had three white baskets on my head: 17 And in the uppermost basket there was of all manner of bakemeats for Pharaoh; and the birds did eat them out of the basket upon my head. 18 And Joseph answered and said, This is the interpretation thereof: The three baskets are three days: 19 Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree; and the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee.
Man is an emotional being. His emotions determine how he feels physically, how he performs his duties, and how he thinks of himself and of his environment. Emotions, however, are very undependable. Man is capable of loving someone one day and then despising him or her the next day. He can feel excited about his life one moment and the very next moment be extremely depressed.
By contrast, truth is constant. Truth never wavers and can always be relied upon to be a guide by which to live. Truth often contradicts our emotions. For example, a truly beautiful woman can feel ugly, dirty, and unworthy of marriage. How she feels about her appearance does not change the truth about it.
Our relationship with God is subject to the battle of truth vs. emotions. Once we have received Christ as our Lord and Savior, we have the promise that no one can pluck us out of the Father's hand. God securely keeps every believer for His purposes until eternity. That is the unwavering truth as it is presented to us in God's word. The believer, however, does not always feel saved or does not always feel worthy of his salvation. He may feel like he has been distanced from God for some reason and may worry that God has deserted him. These feelings do not change the truth. They are lies of the flesh, and we should learn to recognize them.
Sometimes people make their decisions to receive Christ because of fleeting emotional urges. They are caught up in the emotion of the worship service, touched by the fear of eternity in hell, or responding to peer pressure. These people have not been saved, because they have responded to their emotions instead of to the truth of the gospel. They have not made a real commitment to follow Christ and, as soon as their feelings change, they act no differently than they had before their supposed conversion.
While studying the story of Joseph, a person can wonder how Joseph could have been so strong and constant in his faith toward God while his life seemed to be a total disaster. Even in the dungeon of the king's prison, he worked diligently as unto the Lord and was blessed in his work. Wasn't he ever scared? …depressed? …worried? …lonely? The answer is, "Yes!" What man or woman could have gone through all of the trials that Joseph experienced without being affected by his or her emotions?
In our passage we are given a very brief glimpse of the desperation that Joseph felt while in prison. After interpreting the butler's dream, he seems to just let it all spill out in one cry for help. "But think on me when it shall be well with thee," is an appeal to the butler's sense of fairness. "I have done this for you, so please remember me." How he longed for just one person to care about him for a change! "…and shew kindness, I pray thee, unto me." The butler would once again be close to the king, the only person with the power to help, ".…and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house"
This may have been the first opportunity that Joseph had had to make his defense before anyone of authority. His emotions are obviously on the verge of exploding. They are a natural part of life in this body, and it is all right to have them. In fact, we would not be very human without our emotions. Joseph's emotions, however, did not change his relationship with God.
Joseph's faith was constant, in spite of how he felt. He continued in the work of God and interpreted the dream of the other man. His gift of dream interpretation was from God and was evidence of his relationship with Him. God was with him and in control. Joseph knew that his fears, sadness, loneliness etc. could never change the fact that God was with him.
Before The Throne:
Thank God that your salvation is not dependent on how you feel. Pray that He will help you to recognize and to overcome the conflict between emotion and truth when it occurs. Pray for the strength to continue in God's work through every adversity that enters your life.
For Further Study:
(v.9) ** a vine. Gen 37:5-10; Jud 7:13-15; Da 2:31; 4:8,10-18;
(v.11) ** pressed. Gen 49:11; Le 10:9; Pr 3:10; ** hand. 21; 1Ki 10:5; 2Ch 9:4; Ne 1:11; 2:1;
(v.12) ** This. Gen 41:12,25,26; Jud 7:14; Da 2:36-45; 4:19-33; ** The three. Gen 41:26; Jud 7:14; Mt 26:26; 1Co 10:4; Ga 4:25;
(v.13) ** within. Gen 7:4; ** shall. 2Ki 25:27; Ps 3:3; Jer 52:31;
(v.14) ** think on me. 1Sa 25:31; Lu 23:42; 1Co 7:21; ** shew. Jos 2:12; 1Sa 20:14,15; 2Sa 9:1; 1Ki 2:7;
(v.15) ** stolen. Gen 37:28; Ex 21:16; De 24:7; 1Ti 1:10; ** the Hebrews. 14:13; 41:12; * done. Gen 39:8-12,20; 1Sa 24:11; Ps 59:3,4; Da 6:22; Joh 10:32; 15:25; Ac 24:12-21; 25:10,11; 1Pe 3:17,18;
(v.17) ** bake-meats. Gen 49:20; 1Ch 12:20;
(v.18) Gen 41:26; 1Co 10:4; 11:24;
(v.19) ** lift up thy head Gen 41:13; De 21:22,23; Jos 8:29; 10:26; 2Sa 21:6; Pr 30:17; Ga 3:13; ** and the birds. Gen 1Sa 17:44,46; 2Sa 21:10; Eze 39:4; Ac 20:27;
Staying In Touch
1 And it came to pass after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt. 2 And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers. 3 And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound. 4 And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them: and they continued a season in ward. 5 And they dreamed a dream both of them, each man his dream in one night, each man according to the interpretation of his dream, the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, which were bound in the prison. 6 And Joseph came in unto them in the morning, and looked upon them, and, behold, they were sad. 7 And he asked Pharaoh's officers that were with him in the ward of his lord's house, saying, Wherefore look ye so sadly to day? 8 And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you.
The fact that God is in control continues to be emphasized in today's text, but today we are shown the importance of maintaining a relationship with Him. Joseph's hard work gained him favor with the prison keeper, but his work ethic was the product of his trust in God and of the continuing relationship that he had with Him.
Both the king's butler and his baker had offended him. We are not told what offense they were accused of committing, but they were sent to the king's prison where Joseph was being held. Amazingly, we are told that the captain of the guard, who most believe was Potiphar, placed them in Joseph's care. Potiphar must have by this time realized that Joseph was innocent, but in order to save face he left him in prison.
The king's servants were important people. Adam Clarke says, "All the officers in the employment of the ancient kings of Egypt were, according to Diodorus Siculus, taken
from the most illustrious families of the priesthood in the country; no slave or common person being ever permitted to serve in the presence of the king. As these persons, therefore, were of the most noble families, it is natural to expect they would be put, when accused, into the state prison."
The butler was the overseer of the royal vineyards, as well as the cellars; having, probably, some hundreds of people under him, while the baker would have been in charge of the preparation of all foods in the royal palace.
Thus Joseph, a slave, a foreigner, a convicted rapist and prisoner, is placed in charge of these two men of nobility. It is in this capacity that his relationship with God begins to show through. Most of the other prisoners would have had disdain for these men of nobility, but Joseph had a godly compassion toward them.
The two men had very disturbing dreams, both on the same night. On the surface the dreams did not appear to contain anything worrisome, but there was something about them that made these men realize that they were more than ordinary dreams. They were sad, because they did not understand their dreams.
Of course everyone in prison is going to be sad most of the time. The ordinary prison guard would never notice that anything was wrong, but Joseph had this sense of godly compassion toward others. He felt their pain and was sympathetic toward them, so he immediately noticed that something was bothering them.
When told about their dreams, Joseph very plainly replied that interpretations belong to God. "Tell them to me." Here was the confidence of someone who knew God personally. "Tell them to me and I will ask God for an interpretation." In those four words, Joseph revealed that through all of his troubles he had never lost touch with his Creator. He could go to Him anytime that he desired; he could ask for any favor from Him; and he trusted Him enough to make assurances to these two Egyptian nobles.
"Tell them to me. I know Him personally and will speak to Him on your behalf."
"Tell them to me. I meet with Him regularly and He will give me what I ask."
"He is my friend. Tell them to me, and I will get you what you want to know.
These men personally knew the Pharaoh, most powerful man on earth, but Joseph knew the God who made the Pharaoh. He knew Him intimately and was secure in that relationship.
Can you approach life's difficulties with the same confidence? Think about how little things tend to upset you. Perhaps the choir rehearsal was a disaster and you are not ready for Sunday's service; or you haven't had time to practice your offertory; or the sound man tells you at the last minute that he won't be in church, and there is no one else who knows the board. Do things like that upset you?
You must learn to maintain your relationship with God. Be constant in prayer, faithful in your Bible study, and do everything to His glory. When things go wrong, you will have the same confidence that Joseph, the prisoner, had. You will know God as your friend, provider, and caregiver.
Before The Throne:
Ask God to help you set aside more time to be with Him… time for prayer and time for study. Ask Him to help you stay connected every moment of every day, praying about everything and trusting Him for everything. Pray that He will give you faith and confidence when crises strike and make you a blessing to others.
For Further Study:
(v.1) ** it came. Gen 39:20-23; Es 6:1; ** the butler. Ne 1:11; 2:1,2;
(v.2) ** wroth. Ps 76:10; Pr 16:14; 19:12,19; 27:4; Ac 12:20; ** the chief of the butlers. 1Ch 27:27;
(v.3) ** the place. Gen 39:20,23;
(v.4) ** the captain. Gen 37:36; 39:1,21-23; Ps 37:5;
(v.5) Gen 12:1-7; 20:3; 37:5-10; 41:1-7,11; Nu 12:6; Jud 7:13,14; Es 6:1; Job 33:15-17; Da 2:1-3; 4:5,9,19; 7:1-8:27;
(v.6) ** and, behold. Gen 41:8; Da 2:1-3; 4:5; 5:6; 7:28; 8:27;
(v.7) ** Wherefore. Jud 18:24; 1Sa 1:8; 2Sa 13:4; Ne 2:2; Lu 24:17;
(v.8 ) ** Do not, etc. Gen 41:15,16; Job 33:15,16; Ps 25:14; Isa 8:19; Da 2:11,28,47; 4:8; Da 5:11-15; 1Co 12:10,11; Am 3:7;
The Iron Bound Servant
19 And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled. 20 And Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. 21 But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. 23 The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.
God had raised Joseph up from the pit, into which his brothers had thrown him, to be the manager of Potiphar's entire estate. He had control of everything that Potiphar owned, so that Potiphar never had to pay any attention to his own business matters. God blessed Joseph, and Potiphar benefitted tremendously from that blessing.
However, Joseph now stood accused by Potiphar's wife of an attempted rape. It is strange that Potiphar did not inquire more deeply into the truth of the matter. There does not seem to have been a trial and we are not told that Joseph tried to defend himself. Potiphar must have blindly believed his wife, because he gave Joseph the most severe penalty available.
It was not lawful to kill a slave in Egypt, so Joseph was sent to the king's prison. This would have been where the most serious offenders, enemies of the state and of the king, were sent. It was a place of painful confinement for Joseph, "Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron." (Psalm 105:18) There are various translations of the phrase he was laid in iron. Literally it should be read as, His soul came into iron. Calvin and others translate it as, The iron entered into his soul; Edwards as, His person was laid in irons; and the Hebrew Names version of the World English Bible has it as, They bruised his feet with shackles. His neck was locked in irons." Each depicts the misery and hopelessness of the prison.
However, God was not finished with Joseph. If we have learned nothing else from our study of Genesis, we have learned that God is in control of every facet of our lives. This is the place where Joseph needed to be, so that he would eventually be brought before the king and be made the vicar of Egypt.
God is in control. When we find ourselves in the most despicable of circumstances, it is nothing more than an opportunity to serve God. Joseph was a model of godliness even in the most severe dungeon in Egypt. God blessed him and once again made him the manager of his master's affairs. This time he served the prison keeper. He was diligent at his work and God made him very successful.
Do you do everything as though you were doing it for the Lord? I know that there are circumstances when we simply do not feel like giving our best efforts to anything. I have seen Christian musicians who have given very lackadaisical performances when there were fewer people in the audience than they expected. Would you put out the same effort to perform at a home for the handicapped as you would at the governor's mansion?
Whatever your circumstances happen to be, God is in control, and you are there to serve Him. Doesn't he deserve your best? Give it to Him and watch the blessings flow.
Before The Throne:
Ask God to help you remain motivated and strong in the faith when things seem to go wrong. Pray that you would always be aware of His presence and His control over every aspect of your life. Thank Him for being there to bless you. Thank Him for the many opportunities to serve Him. Praise Him for adversity and rejoice in it. Be an encourager for others who cannot see God's hand in their lives.
For Further Study:
(v.19) ** heard. Job 29:16; Pr 18:17; 29:12; Ac 25:16; 2Th 2:11; ** his wrath. Gen 4:5,6; Pr 6:34,35; So 8:7;
(v.20) Gen 40:15; 41:14; Ps 105:18,19; Isa 53:8; Da 3:21,22; 2Ti 2:9; 1Pe 2:19; ** the king's. Gen 40:1-3,15; 41:9-14; Ps 76:10;
(v.21) ** the Lord. Gen 21:22; 49:23,24; Isa 41:10; 43:2; Da 6:22; Ro 8:31,32,37; 1Pe 3:13,14,17; 4:14-16; ** gave him. Gen 40:3; Ex 3:21; 11:3; 12:36; Ps 105:19,22; 106:46; Pr 16:7; Da 1:9; Ac 7:9,10;
(v.22) ** committed. Gen 40:3,4; 1Sa 2:30; Ps 37:3,11;
(v.23) ** keeper. Gen 40:3,4; ** because. Gen 49:23,24; 1Sa 2:30; Ps 1:3; 37:3-11; Isa 43:2; Da 6:22;
13 And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth, 14 That she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice: 15 And it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and got him out. 16 And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home. 17 And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me: 18 And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out.
Yesterday we saw how God had set Joseph free from the power of sin and how that same freedom is available to us through Jesus Christ. We must understand, however, that freedom has its cost.
Jesus frequently warned His disciples that the world would hate them, just as it had hated Him. He said that they would be brought to trial before magistrates and kings for His name's sake. And He preached, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."
Joseph was no exception. His stand against the temptations of Potiphar's wife had a cost. Potiphar's wife sought her revenge by falsely accusing him of attempting to rape her. His choice was to stand guilty before his owner, Potiphar, and to face death or imprisonment or to be judged righteous and holy in the eyes of God. He chose to sacrifice everything in order to be obedient to God.
"And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?" (Luke 14:27-28) Receiving Christ as our Savior is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Each of us must count the cost of that decision. How much do we have to lose and how much of it are we willing to lose? If we are not willing to lose it all, we should not have claimed Him as our Savior. We deceive ourselves.
The innocent before God must very often stand guilty in the eyes of the world. Watch the news on television and see who is portrayed as evil and who as good. The abortionist is portrayed as protecting the rights of women, while those who stand for the right to life are shown as evil; those advocating sexual abstinence are portrayed as stupid and intolerant; preachers who point to the word of God as evidence that homosexuality is a sin are portrayed as hateful homophobes; and Franklin Graham is under attack for calling Islam a wicked religion.
Worship leaders will find themselves in controversy when they try to involve their congregations in a more genuine, open and spontaneous form of worship. While wanting to help others express their love for God, they are accused of showing disrespect for Him. And musicians who introduce creative and innovative musical forms into worship, in order to offer God their very best, will be accused of being too worldly.
Count the cost. Freedom from the bondage of sin is a free spiritual gift from God, but there is a cost in worldly things.
Before The Throne:
Search your own heart and decide what you are willing to give to Jesus. If it is less than life itself, you need to pray about your salvation. Do you really have a close and personal relationship with the Savior? Ask God to give you the faith to sacrifice everything, if necessary, for the righteousness of Christ. Now search your Christian lifestyle. Are you taking a stand for righteousness? Pray that God would guide you to recognize temptations and to resist them for His name's sake. Ask Him to show you what He wants you to do today for righteousness' sake. Will you do it?
For Further Study:
(v.14) ** an Hebrew. Gen 10:21; 14:13; 40:15; Ps 120:3; Eze 22:5; ** he came. Ps 35:11; 55:3; Pr 10:18; Isa 51:7; 54:17; Mt 5:11; 26:59; Lu 23:2; 2Co 6:8; 1Pe 2:20; 3:14-18; 4:14-19;
(v.16) Ps 37:12,32; Jer 4:22; 9:3-5; Tit 3:3;
(v.17) Ex 20:16; 23:1; 1Ki 18:17; 21:9-13; Ps 37:14; 55:3; 120:2-4; Pr 12:19; 19:5,9; Mt 26:65;
7 And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. 8 But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; 9 There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? 10 And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her. 11 And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. 12 And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.
Presidential scandal, fallen Catholic priests, homosexuals in the Big Brother and Big Sister programs, and university publications advocating adult-child sexual practices are just a few of the modern manifestations, which reflect the utter depravity of mankind. Our society is not unique. In every age and every country, since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, man has been enslaved by the lusts of his flesh. No one has ever been entirely free.
Our society is unique, however, in our ability to communicate with one another and to raise the level of lustful desires to an all-time high. The inventions of the television and the Internet have given us the power to influence millions of people. These are wonderful inventions when placed in the hands of a totally moral people, but such a group of people does not exist.
Man is depraved and he will use any means at his disposal to influence others to be like him. He thinks that he can hide or justify his wickedness by the example of the many others who are like him. Modern communications, which should be a gift from God for the proliferation of the gospel, have instead been dominated by the wickedness of men's hearts. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)
That is why this passage of scripture is so refreshing. Each of us can read it and say to ourselves, "I don't have to be dominated by sin. I can be like Joseph, dominated by my love for God."
Joseph, sold into slavery, found himself to be abundantly blessed by God. Potiphar, his owner, had entrusted everything he owned to Joseph, because Potiphar had recognized that God was also blessing him through Joseph. However, Joseph did not view his freedom, power and wealth as opportunities to sin the way many men would. Instead, he saw in it as an opportunity to display godly responsibility, duty, and honor.
Now, Egyptian women were not nearly as oppressed as the Arab women of the Twenty-first Century. They had the freedom to go where they wanted and to interact with others, which gave Potiphar's wife the opportunity to cross Joseph's path whenever she so desired. Egyptian women were also known for their adventurous nature, so it is easy to imagine how this woman must have pursued Joseph.
Joseph was a very handsome young man. Verse 6 told us, "And Joseph was a goodly person , and well favoured." In the Hebrew, this literally means beautiful in his person, and beautiful in his countenance. The same expressions are used relative to Rachel." (Genesis 29:17)
Potiphar's wife attempted to seduce him more than once. It is ironic that, in our modern, perverted society, Joseph would have had grounds for a sexual harassment suit, but in those days he was the one in danger. His persistent resistance to her shows us that Joseph had been anointed by God and protected by the power of the Holy Spirit. He fended off her advances by stating his loyalty to her husband and his desire to remain faithful to God.
We do not need to be slaves to sin. Paul wrote, "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. (Romans 6:11-18)
Christians are sinners who have been set free and become slaves to righteousness through the blood of Christ. We can stand firm in our resistance to the temptations of this modern world, just as Joseph stood firm, by yielding ourselves to God and by calling upon the power of His Spirit to help us resist.
Before The Throne:
Thank God for setting you free. Ask him to give you the wisdom and strength to avoid sin and to live a holy life that is consecrated to Him. Pray that He will remove temptations from you. Acknowledge your responsibility to be obedient and confess your failures. Praise Him for the hope that we have in Jesus Christ our Lord.
For Further Study:
(v.7) ** cast. Gen 6:2; Job 31:1; Ps 119:37; Eze 23:5,6,12-16; Mt 5:28; 2Pe 2:14; 1Jo 2:16; ** Lie. 2Sa 13:11; Pr 2:16; 5:9; 7:13; Jer 3:3; Eze 16:25,32,34;
(v.8 ) ** refused. Pr 1:10; 2:10,16-19; 5:3-8; 6:20-25,29,32,33; 7:5,25-27; 9:13-18; Pr 22:14; 23:26-28; ** my master. Pr 18:24;
(v.9) ** none. Gen 24:2; Ne 6:11; Lu 12:48; 1Co 4:2; Tit 2:10; ** how then. Gen 20:3,6; Le 20:10; 2Sa 11:27; Job 31:9-12,23; Pr 6:29,32; Jer 5:8,9; 1Co 6:9,10; Ga 5:19-21; Heb 13:4; Re 21:8; 22:15; * sin. Gen 42:18; Le 6:2; Nu 32:23; 2Sa 12:13; Ne 5:15; Ps 51:4; Jer 28:16; 50:7; 1Jo 3:9;
(v.10) ** as she spake. Gen Pr 2:16; 5:3; 6:25,26; 7:5,13; 9:14,16; 22:14; 23:27; ** or to be. Pr 1:15; 5:8; 1Co 6:18; 15:33; 1Th 5:22; 1Ti 5:14; 2Ti 2:22; 1Pe 2:11;
(v.11) ** none of the men. Job 24:15; Pr 9:17; Jer 23:24; Mal 3:5; Eph 5:3,12;
(v.12) ** caught. Gen Pr 7:13-27; Ec 7:26; Eze 16:30,31; ** and he left. 1Sa 15:27; Pr 1:15; 5:8; 6:5; Ec 7:26; Mr 14:51,52; 1Co 15:33; 2Ti 2:22; 1Pe 2:11;
God's Visible Presence
1 And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. 2 And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. 3 And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand. 4 And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. 5 And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. 6 And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.
Having finished the interlude in which Judah's sin with Tamar is described, Moses turns the story back to Joseph. However, the fact that Joseph has been sold into slavery is not allowed to cast a shadow of darkness over the story. In fact, the whole tale is framed by the idea that God was present in Joseph's life. The story opens by telling us that the Lord was with Joseph (vv. 2-3) and closes with Joseph's famous words to his brothers, "But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. (Genesis 50:20)
Everyone experiences those times in his or her life when it seems like everything is going wrong and God cannot be reached. You might pray and feel like the prayer just bounced off of the ceiling. You long to be with God, but cannot find the way. Then let this be your consolation. No man has ever been said to be with God except Jesus. "The same was in the beginning with God." (John 1:2) "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." (John 1:18) "And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven." (John 3:13)
The desires of man's flesh prevent him from constantly seeking and enjoying the presence of God, but God is with us. Every person, who, by God's grace, has been called and chosen to be His children through Jesus Christ, is of the same seed as Joseph. God is with him and He assures us, saying, "Fear not." Jesus' promise to us is that He will never leave us. Perhaps we do not see Him, hear Him, or feel His immediate presence, but He is with us.
So when things are looking pretty bad, remember Joseph. Hated by his brothers, sold by them into slavery, and carried off to Egypt, his future could not have appeared to be bleaker. Yet, God was with him, and he prospered.
God often uses the adversity in our lives to prepare us for bigger things. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10) He has chosen us for a purpose. Every Christian has good works already assigned to him in the will of God, and everything in his or her life will work toward preparation for that work.
God was preparing Joseph through the adversity of slavery for the salvation of Egypt and ultimately of the Israelites from a terrible drought and famine. God was preparing Joseph's family for the day when they would come into Egypt and settle there to be with Joseph. Then, they too would suffer the adversity of slavery for the strengthening of their faith and their eventual conquest of the Promised Land.
God is good! His presence ultimately results in an abundance of blessings. Although the blessings are not always material, as in Joseph's case, they are always so abundant that others will notice them. Potiphar, whose name means, "devoted to the sun," was a sun worshipper. Yet, he noticed the blessings that God poured out on Joseph, because he was benefiting from the overflow. "That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matthew 5:45)
Are you a blessing to others? When we are serving God's will and His presence is upon us, we may feel like the world is collapsing upon us, but God is using us to bless others. Sometimes we may not even realize what God is doing. That is why this story is so important. We can read it and know that He is with us always.
Before The Throne:
Pray that God would reveal His presence to you. Ask Him to give you the assurance that He is using you to accomplish His will. Pray that He will help you see the blessings in spite of the adversity. Pray that His blessings will overflow onto others so that they will recognize His presence in you. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
For Further Study:
(v.1) ** Joseph. Gen 37:36; 45:4; Ps 105:17; Ac 7:9: ** the Ishmeelites. 37:25,28;
(v.2) ** the Lord. Gen 21,22; 21:22; 26:24,28; 28:15; 1Sa 3:19; 16:18; 18:14,28; Ps 1:3; 46:7,11; 91:15; Isa 8:9,10; 41:10; 43:2; Jer 15:20; Mt 1:23; Ac 7:9,10; 8:31; ** house. 1Co 7:20-24; 1Ti 6:1; Tit 2:9,10;
(v.3) ** saw that. Gen 21:22; 26:24,28; 30:27,30; 1Sa 18:14,28; Zec 8:23; Mt 5:16; Php 2:15,16; Re 3:9; ** prosper. Gen 30:27; Jos 1:7,8; 1Ch 22:13; 2Ch 26:5; Ne 2:20; Ps 1:3; 1Co 16:2;
(v.4) ** Joseph. Gen 21; 18:3; 19:19; 32:5; 33:8,10; 1Sa 16:22; Ne 2:4,5; Pr 16:7; ** overseer. Gen 15:2; 24:2; 41:40,41; Pr 14:35; 17:2; 22:29; 27:18; Ac 20:28;
(v.5) ** for Joseph's. Gen 12:2; 19:29; 30:27; De 28:3-6; 2Sa 6:11,12; Ps 21:6; 72:17; Ac 27:24; Eph 1:3;
(v.6) ** he left. Lu 16:10; 19:17; ** save. Gen 43:32; Pr 31:11; ** a goodly person. Gen 12:14,15; 29:17; 1Sa 16:12; 17:42; Ac 7:20;
Rush to Judgment
24 And it came to pass about three months after, that it was told Judah, saying, Tamar thy daughter in law hath played the harlot; and also, behold, she is with child by whoredom. And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt. 25 When she was brought forth, she sent to her father in law, saying, By the man, whose these are, am I with child: and she said, Discern, I pray thee, whose are these, the signet, and bracelets, and staff. 26 And Judah acknowledged them, and said, She hath been more righteous than I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son. And he knew her again no more. 27 And it came to pass in the time of her travail, that, behold, twins were in her womb. 28 And it came to pass, when she travailed, that the one put out his hand: and the midwife took and bound upon his hand a scarlet thread, saying, This came out first. 29 And it came to pass, as he drew back his hand, that, behold, his brother came out: and she said, How hast thou broken forth? this breach be upon thee: therefore his name was called Pharez. 30 And afterward came out his brother, that had the scarlet thread upon his hand: and his name was called Zarah.
Prostitution appears to have been an accepted practice in Canaan during the era of the patriarchs. It was customary for some of the pagan religions to have prostitute priestesses. Adam Clarke wrote concerning verse 21, saying, "Our translators often render different Hebrew words by the same term in English, and thus many important shades of meaning, which involve traits of character, are lost. In Genesis 38:15, Tamar is called a harlot, zonah, which, as we have already seen, signifies a person who prostitutes herself for money. In this verse she is called a harlot in our version; but the original is not but kedeshah, a holy or consecrated person, from kadash, to make holy, or to consecrate to religious purposes. And the word here must necessarily signify a person consecrated by prostitution to the worship of some impure goddess.
The public prostitutes in the temple of Venus are called hierodouloigunaikes, holy or consecrated female servants, by Strabo; and it appears from the words zonah and kedeshah above, that impure rites and public prostitution prevailed in the worship of the Canaanites in the time of Judah. And among these people we have much reason to believe that Astarte and Asteroth occupied the same place in their theology as Venus did among the Greeks and Romans, and were worshipped with the same impure rites."In this passage the word harlot is derived from zonah, which also meant to commit adultery. Judah, as the head of the family, served as the magistrate and condemned Tamar to be put to death by fire for committing adultery. She was still married to his sons and, although Shelah had not been given to her as promised, she was still considered to be under the authority of Judah. Paganism and prostitution were acceptable, but adultery was punishable by death.
When Judah was presented the evidence that he was the cause of her pregnancy, he repented of what he had done. Tamar was being a typical Israelitish woman, desiring to have children who would be the seed of Abraham. Judah, on the other hand, had committed a breach of trust by not giving Shelah to her for a husband. It was to Judah's credit that he admitted his sins and repented of them. We are told that he did not have sexual relations with her anymore. However, he was not nearly as harsh on himself as he had intended to be on Tamar.
Tamar gave birth to twin boys and, in much the same manner that Jacob supplanted Esau, Pharez supplanted Zarah. The last shall be first and the first shall be last. Pharez is listed in the genealogies of Jesus.
Was Judah different from anyone else? We are all guilty of being too quick to judge others. How much better would our relationships be, if we waited to hear all of the facts before we jumped to judgement? It is possible that, like Judah, we might find out that we are the guilty parties, instead of those whom we blame.
Should we be any less harsh in judging ourselves than we are in judging others? "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged." (1 Corinthians 11:31)
Before The Throne:
Ask God's forgiveness for every time you have judged someone without knowing all of the facts. Pray that He would help you to see your own faults, to acknowledge them, and to correct them. Pray that those whom you have judged unfairly will forgive you. Pray for everyone who has judged you without knowing all of the facts.
For Further Study:
(v.24) ** played the harlot. Gen 34:31; Jud 19:2; Ec 7:26; Jer 2:20; 3:1,6,8; Eze 16:15,28,41; Eze 23:5,19,44; Ho 2:5; 3:3; 4:15; ** let her. Gen 20:3,7,9; Le 20:10; 21:9; De 22:21-27; 24:16; 2Sa 12:5,7; Jer 29:22,23; Mt 7:1-5; Ro 2:1,2; 14:22;
(v.25) ** Discern. Gen 37:32; Ps 50:21; Jer 2:26; Ro 2:16; 1Co 4:5; Re 20:12;
(v.26) ** acknowledged. Gen 37:33; ** She hath. 1Sa 24:17; 2Sa 24:17; Eze 16:52; Hab 1:13; Joh 8:9; Ro 3:19; ** And he knew. Gen 4:1; 2Sa 16:22; 20:3; Job 4:5; 34:31,32; 40:5; Mt 3:8; Ro 13:12; Tit 2:11,12; 1Pe 4:2,3;
(v.29) ** his name. Gen 46:12; Nu 26:20; 1Ch 2:4; 9:4; Ne 11:4,6; ** Perez. Mt 1:3; Lu 3:33;
(v.30) ** Zarah. 1Ch 9:6; ** Zerah. Mt 1:3;
12 And in process of time the daughter of Shuah Judah's wife died; and Judah was comforted, and went up unto his sheepshearers to Timnath, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite. 13 And it was told Tamar, saying, Behold thy father in law goeth up to Timnath to shear his sheep. 14 And she put her widow's garments off from her, and covered her with a vail, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which is by the way to Timnath; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife. 15 When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face. 16 And he turned unto her by the way, and said, Go to, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee; (for he knew not that she was his daughter in law.) And she said, What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in unto me? 17 And he said, I will send thee a kid from the flock. And she said, Wilt thou give me a pledge, till thou send it? 18 And he said, What pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that is in thine hand. And he gave it her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him. 19 And she arose, and went away, and laid by her vail from her, and put on the garments of her widowhood. 20 And Judah sent the kid by the hand of his friend the Adullamite, to receive his pledge from the woman's hand: but he found her not. 21 Then he asked the men of that place, saying, Where is the harlot, that was openly by the way side? And they said, There was no harlot in this place. 22 And he returned to Judah, and said, I cannot find her; and also the men of the place said, that there was no harlot in this place.23 And Judah said, Let her take it to her, lest we be shamed: behold, I sent this kid, and thou hast not found her.
Our feelings or innermost secret thoughts about another person can often cause us a lot of problems. If we could learn to genuinely love and to forgive one another, our lives would be a lot less complicated. There are times when a person feels very uncomfortable saying exactly what he or she thinks or feels. Some things are better left unsaid, but there are occasions when we are forced to either speak the hard truth or to cover it up with what may seem like an innocent lie. Of course, there are no innocent lies. It is often those small "white lies" that get us into the most trouble.
Judah may have found himself in one of those situations. Two of his three sons had died shortly after marrying Tamar. According to the custom of that time, it was the duty of the next oldest son, Shelah, to marry Tamar and to conceive a child for his brothers. But how did Judah feel about that? If we read between the lines, it becomes obvious that he did not want Shelah to marry this woman. Did he blame Tamar for the deaths of his other two sons? They died because of their sins, but it is in the nature of a father to overlook his sons' sins and to place the blame on someone else.
It was easier for Judah to tell Tamar that Shelah would marry her when he became of age, than it was to say that he held her responsible for the deaths of his other two sons. After all, it would be several years before Shelah was old enough, and Judah would have plenty of time to think of some other way to prevent the marriage.
We have all experienced these uncomfortable moments when we have made promises that we do not intend to keep. They seem harmless. We are taught that time heals all wounds, but the truth is that these lies often do considerable damage.
Tamar obediently remained a widow under Judah's authority while Shelah was growing up. Eventually, however, she realized that Judah had no intention of allowing Shelah to marry her and she began to formulate a plan, which would accomplish two things. First, it would give her the child for whom she had waited so long, and secondly, it would satisfy her anger and desire for revenge.
That she spent considerable time and effort on her plan is evident from the text. It was during the shearing season in March, that one of her spies came to her and told her that her father-in-law was on his way to Timnath with his friend Hirah. This was a time when the men were often in a celebratory mood. Tamar dressed herself to look like a prostitute and laid the trap for Judah.
How long had it been since Judah had seen Tamar? He did not recognize her, even while having intimate relations with her. Surely he should have known her voice. It is probable that he had not seen her since the death of Onan several years earlier. In fact, he may have entirely forgotten about Tamar, thinking that he had rid himself of her.
When Judah's servant could not locate the prostitute in order to pay her and to retrieve the signet that was given as a pledge, Judah wanted to drop the whole thing. He did not want to expose the shameful thing that he had done and would rather lose his signet and staff.
How shamefully we can behave toward one another. Jesus told us to love and forgive even our enemies. If we could master that simple command, we would not have to cover up our true feelings with lies. Nothing can hurt someone more than those things we call little white lies. Judah lied, Tamar sought revenge, and both behaved shamefully. The commandment is so simple: "Love one another."
Before The Throne:
Confess to God and seek His forgiveness for every little white lie you have ever told. Pray for the people whom you may have hurt. Seek their forgiveness, if possible. Ask God to purify your heart and to help you love others the way Jesus loves them. Pray that you will be able to forgive everyone who has hurt you with his or her lies. Ask God to cleanse you of your desire for revenge. Thank Him for giving you the power of the Holy Spirit so that you can overcome these challenges in your life.
For Further Study:
(v.12) ** comforted. Gen 24:67; 2Sa 13:39; ** sheep shearers. Gen 31:19; 1Sa 25:4-8,36; 2Sa 13:23-29; ** Timnath. Jos 15:10,35,37; ** Timnah. Jos 19:43; ** Thimnathah. Jud 14:1;
(v.14) ** and sat. Pr 7:12; Jer 3:2; Eze 16:25;
(v.16) ** Go to. 2Sa 13:11; ** What wilt. De 23:18; Eze 16:33; Mt 26:15; 1Ti 6:10;
(v.17) ** I will. Eze 16:33; ** Wilt thou. Pr 20:16; Lu 16:8;
(v.18) ** Thy signet. Gen 25,26; Jer 22:24; Lu 15:22; ** gave it her. Gen 25,26; Ho 4:11;
(v.19) ** laid by her vail. 2Sa 14:2,5;
(v.20) ** his friend. Gen 20:9; Le 19:17; Jud 14:20; 2Sa 13:3; Lu 23:12;
(v.23) ** lest we. 2Sa 12:9; Pr 6:33; Ro 6:21; 2Co 4:2; Eph 5:12; Re 16:15;
1 And it came to pass at that time, that Judah went down from his brethren, and turned in to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah. 2 And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was Shuah; and he took her, and went in unto her. 3 And she conceived, and bare a son; and he called his name Er. 4 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and she called his name Onan. 5 And she yet again conceived, and bare a son; and called his name Shelah: and he was at Chezib, when she bare him. 6 And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar. 7 And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him. 8 And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother. 9 And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. 10 And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also. 11 Then said Judah to Tamar his daughter in law, Remain a widow at thy father's house, till Shelah my son be grown: for he said, Lest peradventure he die also, as his brethren did. And Tamar went and dwelt in her father's house.
The story of Joseph is suddenly interrupted,
and we are left in suspense, wondering what would happen to him. Without warning, the narrative quickly turns to focus on the genealogy of Judah, which many scholars believe to have been mistakenly inserted by a later editor of Genesis. Their reasoning is that the phrase, "… at that time," cannot refer to the time when Joseph was taken away to Egypt. Others point out, however, that the phrase was not used to describe any precise period, but an interval near about it. The events of this chapter are spread out over a period of time probably ranging from the time that Jacob arrived at Shechem until the family was reunited with Joseph in Egypt.
Remember that it was Judah who suggested that they make a profit by selling Joseph into slavery. He is the ancestor of Jesus, who was also sold by a Judas. The entire purpose of the book of Genesis is to chronicle the sinfulness of men and the implementation of God's plan for a Messiah. Judah fulfills both aspects of that purpose.
Judah left the family for a time and went to live in the home of Hirah an Adullamite. We are not told why, but in order for everything in this story to fit into the chronology, he must have been only about fifteen years old. We might surmise, therefore, that he was a rebellious teenager. Certainly his father would not have approved of him living in the home of a Canaanite heathen, but then Jacob sometimes seems to have been very unconcerned about his children.
While he was staying at Hiram's home, Judah saw the daughter of Shuah, a Canaanite, lusted after her and took her for his wife. The shamefulness of this event is reflected in the Hebrew wording, "saw … took," which implies lust, and in the fact that her name is not mentioned. The marriage produced three sons, Er, Onan and Shelah.
Er married Tamar, who was also a Canaanite. However, we are told that Er was so wicked that God killed him. Under the laws of most tribes at that time, it was the responsibility of the next oldest brother to marry the widow and to conceive a son for his deceased brother. This duty fell on the shoulders of Onan, who refused to do his duty by practicing birth control.
God's commandment to all of Abraham's descendants was to multiply and be fruitful. It was by their fruitfulness that He would fulfil His promises to them. So God was angry with Onan and killed him.
Judah told Tamar, his daughter-in-law who is finally named, to remain a widow and to live with her father until Shelah was old enough to marry her. Tamar obeyed.
The sin that abounds in this family certainly precludes the Jewish people from claiming to have inherited their righteousness. In fact, now when we read in Ephesians 2:6-8, that Christ, " Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross," we can begin to understand its real meaning. Being born into the family of Judah and descended from the Canaanite woman, Tamar, Jesus truly became of no reputation. As God, He could not have found a more humbling family into which to be born, but He did it for you.
Every page of Genesis clearly proclaims that we serve a God of grace. As sin abounds, grace abounds even more. The stories that we find there are our assurance that there is hope for even the worst of sinners. If God could take the likes of Judah and use Him to bring forth the incarnation of His holy Son, God can take you and transform you into a saint and citizen in His kingdom.
Do not miss out on the opportunity to confess your sins, to claim Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and to commit your life to Him. "For as many as received Him, to them gave he the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name." (John 1:12)
Before The Throne:
Give thanks for God's grace. Confess your sins to Him and ask Him to help you make changes in your life. Acknowledge that there is nothing in your life that God cannot overcome. Pray for the salvation of your family members.
If you have received Jesus as your Savior for the first time today, please write to me and tell me. I will send you information on how you can begin to grow and mature in Christ. Write to Dave Roth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Further Study:
** turned. Gen 19:2,3; Jud 4:18; 2Ki 4:8; Pr 9:6; 13:20; * Adullamite. Jos 12:15; 15:35; 1Sa 22:1; 2Sa 23:13; Mic 1:15;
** saw. Gen 3:6; 6:2; 24:3; 34:2; Jud 14:2; 16:1; 2Sa 11:2; 2Co 6:14; ** Shuah. Gen 46:12; 1Ch 2:3; ** took. Gen 6:4; 24:3;
** Er. Gen 46:12; Nu 26:19;
** Onan. Gen 46:12; Nu 26:19;
** Shelah. Gen 46:12; Nu 26:20; 1Ch 4:21;
** took. Gen 21:21; 24:3; ** Tamar. Mt 1:3;
** Er. Gen 46:12; Nu 26:19; ** wicked. Gen 6:8; 13:13; 19:13; 2Ch 33:6; ** and the. 1Ch 2:3; Ps 55:23;
Le 18:16; Nu 36:8,9; De 25:5-10; Ru 1:11; 4:5-11; Mt 22:23-27;
** he is. De 25:6; Ru 1:11; 4:10; ** lest that. Job 5:2; Pr 27:4; Tit 3:3; Jas 3:14,16; 4:5;
** displeased. Nu 11:1; 22:34; 2Sa 11:27; 1Ch 21:7; Pr 14:32; 24:18; Jer 44:4; Hag 1:13; ** him also. Gen 46:12; Nu 26:19;
** till Shelah. Ru 1:11,13; ** in her. Le 22:13;
32 Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: 33 Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
Paul wrapped up his instructions
on the eating of meats sacrificed to idols with this one general rule, "Give none offence." Taken in a more literal sense, it says, "Become inoffensive." We are to avoid anything that might cause another person to stumble in his faith or to be tempted to commit even the smallest sin. This includes refraining from eating things that would appear sinful to those who have a weaker faith or who are new to the gospel, but it also includes abstaining from all things that are sinful so that neither other Christians nor the heathens would have anything for which to criticize you.
Of course there are some good things that we do that would cause another person to be offended and sin. The preaching of the gospel is the most notable. "Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed." (1 Peter 2:7-8) Paul did not mean that we should keep the gospel to ourselves in order to avoid offending someone. We should not avoid corporate worship, or the eating of the Lord's supper, or the baptism of new believers. These might offend some, but they serve to bring glory to God.
We are to become inoffensive to the Jew. This includes both the converted Jew and those who continue to stumble at the word. This principle was followed by Paul, as he said in 9:20, "And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law."
Again, when he chose Timothy to travel with him, we read in Acts 16:1-3, "Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek." Timothy would minister the gospel to the Jews with less opposition, if he were circumcised and appear to be one of their own.
We are also to become inoffensive to the Gentiles. We should not do anything that would encourage them to worship idols and, at the same time, try not to do anything that would cause them to reject the gospel. Lastly, of course, we should do nothing that would lead any members of the church whether jew or Gentile, to commit sin. We must not exercise our liberty in Christ in any manner that would cause those of weaker faith to fall into sin.
"Even as I..." Paul set the example for others to follow, just as his Lord Jesus had set the example for him. This kind of self-discipline is an admirable quality of good leaders and is desperately lacking among many today. We must reflect the character of Christ in everything that we do.
Paul did nothing for his own profit or for his own advantage. He did all for the benefit of others in order to gain their trust and their willingness to listen to what he had to say. The purpose of everything we do should be to bring glory to God. And, there is nothing that will bring more glory, honor and praise to His name than for many to be saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Before The Throne:
Think of all the lost people with whom you come in contact each day. Ask God to show you how you can become one of them, without sinning of course, so that you can win many to Christ. Pray about all of your relationships, asking the Holy Spirit to show you any mistakes you have made that might have caused anyone to sin. Pray for the Lord's forgiveness and seek ways to correct the situation. Ask the Lord to continue to use you to bring glory to His name.
For Further Study:
** none 1Cor 10:33; 1Cor 8:13; Rom 14:13; 2Cor 6:3; Phil 1:10; ** the church. 1Cor 11:22; Acts 20:28; 1Tim 3:5, 15;
1Cor 10:24; 1Cor 9:19-23; Rom 15:2-3; 2Cor 11:28-29; 2Cor 12:19;
To God's Glory
29 Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience? 30 For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? 31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
Paul wanted everyone to be clear
about his use of the word conscience. The KJV eliminates the conjunction but in the first clause. It should read, "But I say conscience, not that of himself, but that of the other." Thus, he was saying, "Your conscience should be clear, because you know that idols are nothing, but have some regard for the other person's conscience."
"...for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?" This has been understood by some commentators to be an objection, perhaps anticipating the opinions of those to whom he wrote. However, the conjunction for tells us that this is the reason for what Paul had just said. "Why should I place my liberty to eat whatever I want out there for someone else to judge simply because they are weaker in their faith and understanding than I?"
Again, he asks, "If I, by the grace of God, am free to eat whatever I want, why should I give others cause to criticize me, to speak evil of me over the things for which I am in the habit of giving thanks?" Sometimes the unnecessary or irresponsible use of our liberty in Christ can cause us unnecessary problems. It can stand in the way of our ministry. It is very difficult to teach the doctrines of the faith to people who begin with a negative opinion of us. We are just as free to refrain from eating those meats sacrificed to idols as we are to eat them.
"In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory." (Ephesians 1:11-14)
We are saved by the suffering and death of Christ for one and only one purpose... to bring glory to God. We have been predestined for His glory. Our salvation is not an accident or a product of our own works or anything that was good within us. It is all due to God's grace who sealed us with the Holy Spirit and assured us by His promise that He will never lose us.
"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." That should always br the motivating factor in our life. Will eating that meat or drinking that drink bring glory to God? Will arguing with co-workers bring glory to God? Will criticizing your pastor bring glory to God? Check yourself in all things. Your purpose for living is to glorify Him. If you fail, your life is totally without any heavenly or eternal significance. Think about it.
Before The Throne:
Pray about the things that you will do today. Ask God to help you do everything to His glory. Ask Him to help you make that the priority in your life. As you move through the day, take a moment and pray for each person you meet. Ask God to help you be aware of anything that might offend that person's conscience. Pray that he or she would see Christ in you.
For Further Study:
** not. 1Cor 10:32; 1Cor 8:9-13; Rom 14:15-21; ** why. Rom 14:16; 2Cor 8:21; 1Thess 5:22;
** for which. Rom 14:6; 1Tim 4:3-4;
** ye eat. 1Cor 7:34; Deut 12:7, 12, 18; Neh 8:16-18; Zech 7:5-6; Luke 11:41; Col 3:17, 23; 1Pet 4:11;