This story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife is a clear-cut case of sexual harassment in the workplace. Sometimes we think the Bible has an ancient feel to it, that its stories come from so far away and so long ago that they don’t have any congruence with our context and our situation. Despite the fact that it’s at least 2,500 years old, this story feels surprisingly modern. The employee, Joseph, is first sexually harassed and then unjustly accused by one of his employers. The harasser goes unpunished and Joseph loses his job.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, it’s illegal to harass someone because of that person’s sex. Sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Harassment might just be making offensive remarks about a person’s gender, such as making offensive comments about women in general or men in general. Sexual harassment can come from either men or women, and be directed at either men or women. Sometimes the victim and the harasser can be the same gender. Harassers can be a supervisor, a co-worker, a client, or a customer.
- Genesis 39:1 - 23