September 09, 2014

Joseph: Exiled Into Slavery

Genesis 39:1

Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar … bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.
—Genesis 39:1


In just a short time, Joseph plummeted from being a favored son to being a slave. What a descent! His brothers had plotted to murder him, but when some Ishmaelite traders came by, the brothers got rid of him instead by selling Joseph as a slave to be resold in Egypt.

For many of us, it may be hard to imagine what that exile felt like. Joseph was thrown out, shipped off to be forgotten! He was separated from his father and the rest of his family without hope of ever seeing them again.

What’s more, he was in the company of Ishmaelites! These were distant cousins, descendants of his great-grandfather Abraham. Ishmael, their grandfather, was described as a “wild donkey of a man,” whose hand was “against everyone” and who lived in hostility toward everyone (Genesis 16:12). These were ferocious men—not only traders but slavers. Joseph was nothing to them but flesh to be sold for a good price at auction. And they sold him to a captain of the guard—an official of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Could things get any worse than that?

Was Joseph angry? Was he filled with bitterness of spirit? We aren’t told. But this much is sure: he was deeply hurt. The wound was massive. Would he ever heal? One thing was certain—God was not done with this story yet!

Father, we are amazed that Jesus, your Son, took a journey like this for our sake. He left your side and willingly humbled himself, taking the form of a slave to free us from sin. We praise his name! Amen.

About the author — Kenneth D. Koeman

Rev. Ken Koeman is a pastor at Bellevue, Washington, Christian Reformed Church. He has written Today devotions in past years and has also authored numerous articles for The Banner, the magazine of the Christian Reformed Church. Ken and his wife, Kay, live in Bellevue and have two children and five grandchildren.

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