1. The Holy Spirit resumes with the occasion that brought Joseph to Egypt. Joseph was sold into slavery and, by the Lord’s direction he was bought by a high ranking Egyptian official (39:1). All indications in this chapter (and the following ones) are that Joseph was a virtuous man caught in a bad circumstance that originated from his own doing, at least with respect to his dream. It is reasonable that Joseph would do the necessary reflection that brought all this on him. In the house of Potiphar Joseph was a favored man (39:4-5).
2. This is important to note because some doubt this: from the Midrash there is this interpretation: “Joseph became preoccupied with his appearance and began to curl his hair. God said, [consequently] ‘Your father is mourning and you curl you hair! I will incite the bear [Potiphar’s wife] against you’” (Chumash, p. 215). A striking interpretation, wouldn’t you say?! To muddy this even further, they regard her as having pure motives in this scenario! (p. 213). Nothing in the chapter allows for one to interpret Joseph’s actions like this.
3. In any event, Joseph goes about his business and, ultimately, Potiphar’s wife propositions him. Joseph fled the situation and eventually was thrown into prison. Why was he not killed by Potiphar? No way to know; perhaps it had to do with Potiphar wavering on the legitimacy of the story since he favored Joseph so much (cf. John Gill); on the other hand, at the very least, we can say for certain that he was not killed because the Lord did not allow it.
4. Application: What attracts one person to another? In the case of Joseph there are two things. First, he was an attractive young man (39:6) and, second, he was honorable. He was not honorable in material wealth, but he was honorable in honesty, virtue, and he served the Almighty (39:9). There is great emphasis placed on outward appearances in society, but outward appearance only covers what is on the inside. What is it that people see in you? Do they see the “inward” Joseph or do they see the outward appearance that time alters?