Reading through the Bible together
The story continues with Joseph in prison. The fact that Potiphar imprisoned Joseph instead of executing him seems to imply Potiphar believed in Joseph's innocence. Potiphar feared something about his wife's power to actually exonerate Joseph, but he did not kill him as one would expect with such charges. Another theme that continues, though I have done little with it till this point, is that once in Egypt, whatever Joseph gets involved with, God blesses him and he rises to administrative oversight in the situation he is in. Gen 39 closes with Joseph in charge of the prison, with the prison warden trusting Joseph as implicitly as Potiphar had. Something about Joseph's character, combined with good abilities commended him to the warden.
Two political suspects are incarcerated and remanded to Joseph's care. Even here, though, his character even compels the indicted officials to trust him. Instead of joining them in a pity-party over bing jailed over fraudulent charges, Joseph stays observant of their emotional health. When both have dreams, he notices their emotional distress and inquires. He listens to their dreams and prepares to interpret. One dream was easy to convey for it had good news. "You will be released and get your old job back." Good news is easy to convey. Except for one thing.
If Joseph's interpretations fail, his reputation my be tarnished and he could lose his status–such as it was– in the prison, maybe even get executed. Joseph resolutely tells the truth, whether the news was bad or good. Joseph is concerned with justice, not image. He did not try to manipulate his message to court favor. While he did see an opportunity to seek redress for his unjust imprisonment, this seems to be an opportunistic request, not a controlling factor in Joseph's decision to give an honest, strait message. Joseph thus seems to surpass Judah by not seeking to protect an image first with the ensuing temptation to degrading his moral integrity. Joseph again stands in contrast to the scheming, prevaricating Judah of Gen 38. May we demonstrate the integrity of Joseph in our dealings with others.
Professor of Theology and Ethics
Southern Adventist University
Collegedale, Tennessee, USA