The Story of Patriarchs and Prophets
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 20: Joseph in Egypt
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Meanwhile, Joseph with his captors was on the way to
Egypt. As the caravan journeyed southward toward the
borders of Canaan, the boy could discern in the distance the hills
among which lay his father's tents. Bitterly he wept at thought
of that loving father in his loneliness and affliction. Again the
scene at Dothan came up before him. He saw his angry brothers
and felt their fierce glances bent upon him. The stinging, insulting
words that had met his agonized entreaties were ringing in
his ears. With a trembling heart he looked forward to the future.
What a change in situation—from the tenderly cherished son to
the despised and helpless slave! Alone and friendless, what would
be his lot in the strange land to which he was going? For a time
Joseph gave himself up to uncontrolled grief and terror.
But, in the providence of God, even this experience was to be
a blessing to him. He had learned in a few hours that which years
might not otherwise have taught him. His father, strong and tender
as his love had been, had done him wrong by his partiality
and indulgence. This unwise preference had angered his brothers
and provoked them to the cruel deed that had separated him
from his home. Its effects were manifest also in his own character.
Faults had been encouraged that were now to be corrected.
He was becoming self-sufficient and exacting. Accustomed to the
tenderness of his father's care, he felt that he was unprepared to
cope with the difficulties before him, in the bitter, uncared-for
life of a stranger and a slave.
Then his thoughts turned to his father's God. In his childhood
he had been taught to love and fear Him. Often in his father's
tent he had listened to the story of the vision that Jacob saw as
he fled from his home an exile and a fugitive. He had been told
of the Lord's promises to Jacob, and how they had been fulfilled—how,
in the hour of need, the angels of God had come [p. 214] to instruct, comfort, and protect him. And he had learned of the
love of God in providing for men a Redeemer. Now all these
precious lessons came vividly before him. Joseph believed that the
God of his fathers would be his God. He then and there gave
himself fully to the Lord, and he prayed that the Keeper of Israel
would be with him in the land of his exile.
His soul thrilled with the high resolve to prove himself true
to God—under all circumstances to act as became a subject of
the King of heaven. He would serve the Lord with undivided
heart; he would meet the trials of his lot with fortitude and
perform every duty with fidelity. One day's experience had been the
turning point in Joseph's life. Its terrible calamity had transformed
him from a petted child to a man, thoughtful, courageous,
Arriving in Egypt, Joseph was sold to Potiphar, captain of the
king's guard, in whose service he remained for ten years. He was
here exposed to temptations of no ordinary character. He was in
the midst of idolatry. The worship of false gods was surrounded
by all the pomp of royalty, supported by the wealth and culture
of the most highly civilized nation then in existence. Yet Joseph
preserved his simplicity and his fidelity to God. The sights and
sounds of vice were all about him, but he was as one who saw
and heard not. His thoughts were not permitted to linger upon
forbidden subjects. The desire to gain the favor of the Egyptians
could not cause him to conceal his principles. Had he attempted
to do this, he would have been overcome by temptation; but he
was not ashamed of the religion of his fathers, and he made no
effort to hide the fact that he was a worshiper of Jehovah.
"And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous
man. . . . And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and
that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand."
Potiphar's confidence in Joseph increased daily, and he finally
promoted him to be his steward, with full control over all his
possessions. "And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and
he knew not aught he had, save the bread which he did eat."
The marked prosperity which attended everything placed under
Joseph's care was not the result of a direct miracle; but his
industry, care, and energy were crowned with the divine blessing.
Joseph attributed his success to the favor of God, and even
his idolatrous master accepted this as the secret of his unparalleled [p. 217] prosperity. Without steadfast, well-directed effort, however,
success could never have been attained. God was glorified by the
faithfulness of His servant. It was His purpose that in purity and
uprightness the believer in God should appear in marked contrast
to the worshipers of idols—that thus the light of heavenly grace
might shine forth amid the darkness of heathenism.
Joseph's gentleness and fidelity won the heart of the chief
captain, who came to regard him as a son rather than a slave. The
youth was brought in contact with men of rank and learning,
and he acquired a knowledge of science, of languages, and of
affairs—an education needful to the future prime minister of
But Joseph's faith and integrity were to be tested by fiery
trials. His master's wife endeavored to entice the young man to
transgress the law of God. Heretofore he had remained untainted
by the corruption teeming in that heathen land; but this
temptation, so sudden, so strong, so seductive—how should it be
met? Joseph knew well what would be the consequence of resistance.
On the one hand were concealment, favor, and rewards;
on the other, disgrace, imprisonment, perhaps death. His whole
future life depended upon the decision of the moment. Would
principle triumph? Would Joseph still be true to God? With
inexpressible anxiety, angels looked upon the scene.
Joseph's answer reveals the power of religious principle. He
would not betray the confidence of his master on earth, and,
whatever the consequences, he would be true to his Master in
heaven. Under the inspecting eye of God and holy angels many
take liberties of which they would not be guilty in the presence
of their fellow men, but Joseph's first thought was of God. "How
can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" he said.
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