Virtuous Joseph

J. D. Conley
January 25, 2015

There was something special about Joseph, the eleventh son of Jacob and the firstborn of Rachel. It may have been a quality that prompted Jacob to have an affinity for him over his first ten sons. The record states, "Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors" (Gen.3 7:3). Here we are told Jacob especially loved Joseph because he was the son of his old age. Furthermore, Jacob advertised his unique love for Joseph by having a colorful coat made just for him.

But given all we know about the sterling character of Joseph, would it be out of line to suggest that perhaps Jacob saw in Joseph a noteworthy trait that his other sons lacked? That outstanding trait being virtue. Whether or not such is the case cannot be known and should left to the area of conjecture.

Nevertheless, Joseph was a man who proved himself to be virtuous on several occasions. Even on occasions if he hadn't been guiltless, no one but God would have known. Yet, if only God knew, that was plenty motivation to keep himself pure. One such occasion is the following, "And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. 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; 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" (Gen.39:7-9)?

Upon his arrival in Egypt, after being sold into slavery to a band of Ishmeelites headed that direction, he is then sold again to Potiphar one of Pharaoh's officers. It wasn't long before Potiphar became aware of the virtuous Joseph and entrusted him with all that was in his house. But Potiphar married beneath him. His wife wasn't an honorable woman and the bonds of matrimony meant nothing to her. Mrs. Potiphar was a designing woman, not a loyal wife. She makes a bold unabashed move telling Joseph, "Lie with me." It is at this point that Joseph's virtue is spotlighted. Caving to temptation, he could have rationalized it away: "No one will ever know." "I'm far away from home," "I shouldn't even be in Egypt in the first place, I deserve this forbidden pleasure," "I'm young and my urges should not be stymied," "Anyone else would do it, why not me?"

Instead, the virtuous Joseph told her and himself, "How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" Despite all of the rationalization, Joseph could not bring himself to commit this heinous sin. May we take this page out of Joseph's virtuous life and learn and live by it. Just knowing that God knows when we sin should deter us from hurting Him.