As soon as she [Potiphar’s wife] saw that he [Joseph] had left his garment in her hand and had fled out of the house, she called to the men of her household and said to them, “See, he has brought among us a Hebrew to laugh at us.” Genesis 39:13-14
Potiphar’s wife does not begin with a complaint to Potiphar. She begins with the servants—sowing seeds of discord, fostering cynicism, and creating a climate of distrust.
She also plays the race card. “See, he has brought among us a Hebrew” (39:14). What does Joseph’s race have to do with this? It is pure prejudice. Notice how she fosters a them versus us mentality: “a Hebrew to laugh at us.”
Potiphar’s wife also sowed seeds of hostility against her own husband. “See, he has brought among us a Hebrew” (39:14). Who is the “he”? It’s Potiphar. In just a few words, this woman builds a consensus that Joseph does not belong in this household, and she builds the pressure on her husband to make sure that he is gone.
She tells her version of the story to the servants first, so that people are already talking about it before Potiphar comes home. Then, when Potiphar arrives, she repeats the lie: “She told him the same story” (39:17). Now she is lodging a formal complaint to the person in authority.
The Bible tells us that Satan is the father of lies, and that lies are his native language (John 8:44). Lies are the devil’s language. Every lie carries the echo of his voice. That’s true of lies when we accuse another person of something that may not be true, and it is true of lies when we pretend to virtue that we do not possess.
Where might you be sowing seeds of discord, fostering cynicism, or creating a climate of mistrust by your words?