What does Genesis 39:20 mean?
ESV: And Joseph 's master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king 's prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison.
NIV: Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison,
NASB: So Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; and he was there in the prison.
CSB: and had him thrown into prison, where the king’s prisoners were confined. So Joseph was there in prison.
NLT: So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held, and there he remained.
KJV: And Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.
NKJV: Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison.
Verse Commentary:
Joseph has not only done nothing wrong, but he has also gone above and beyond to do everything right. He has worked diligently for his master (Genesis 39:1–5), despite being a captive slave. He has adamantly rejected seduction from his master's wife (Genesis 39:6–10). The Lord has been with Joseph, and Potiphar has benefited from the blessings God has heaped on everything Joseph did. Joseph has acted with integrity and uprightness.

So why have Joseph's circumstances suddenly reversed? After he honorably refused the sexual advances of his master's wife, her lust turned to vengeance. She lied, convincing Potiphar that Joseph had tried to rape her (Genesis 39:11–19). Potiphar believed her and burned with anger, as any husband would. He immediately throws Joseph in a jail, seemingly attached to his own home, and reserved for prisoners of the king (Genesis 40:2). Considering the circumstances, Joseph could have been murdered on the spot by a jealous husband. He could have been sentenced to death. Instead, as when he was sold by his treacherous brothers (Genesis 37:26–28), he will live on, giving further opportunity for God to work His master plan (Genesis 45:5; 50:20).

Events such as this give challenging answers to common questions. Do only good things happen to those who honor the Lord? Do bad circumstances always signal God's anger with a person? Joseph's story makes it clear neither is the case (John 16:33). Joseph has done no wrong, yet he suffers. Still, the Lord has not left his servant. He remains with Joseph in every circumstance, even the unfair and difficult ones. He even continues to enable Joseph's success (Genesis 39:21–23).
Verse Context:
Genesis 39:19–23 describes Joseph's arrival in the Egyptian prison reserved for the king's prisoners. Joseph's once-trusting master has him jailed after the master's wife falsely accuses Joseph of attempted rape. Despite the unfair imprisonment, God has not abandoned Joseph. That Joseph isn't immediately executed speaks well of both his reputation and the Lord's protection. Even in prison, Joseph is blessed: the king's jailer favors Joseph and quickly puts him in charge of nearly all of duties in the jail. Joseph continues to succeed in every circumstance he faces, under God's provision.
Chapter Summary:
Joseph's arrival as a slave in Egypt is not the end of his story. The Lord continues to be with him and to bless him. Joseph rises to become the right-hand man of his master, Potiphar, the captain of the guard. Eventually, he is betrayed by a false accusation of rape by his master's scorned wife. Even then, Joseph finds the Lord is still with him, still blessing him, even in prison. Soon Joseph oversees every aspect of the prison, serving once again under God's faithful blessing.
Chapter Context:
In chapter 37, Joseph narrowly escaped being murdered by his own brothers (Genesis 37:18–20), only to be sold as a slave (Genesis 37:26–28). Chapter 39 picks up his story after taking a detour into the scandalous life of Judah. Though a slave in Egypt, Joseph thrives under the Lord's blessing. He rises to the top position in his master's household, only to be jailed on a false accusation of attempted rape. Still, Joseph continues to be blessed by God, again rising to become the jailer's most trusted servant. Joseph's reputation and ability to interpret dreams will factor into his rise within the government of Egypt.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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