ESL Lesson 9 – Joseph Becomes a Slave and Prisoner

Lesson 9

Joseph Becomes a Slave and Prisoner

Genesis 39


Joseph’s brothers sold him to some men who were taking things to Egypt to sell.  When these men arrived in Egypt they sold Joseph to a man named Potiphar.  Potiphar worked for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt.  Potiphar was the captain of Pharaoh’s guard.


Potiphar was a rich man.  He had many slaves who worked for him.  Joseph was one of his slaves.  Joseph worked very hard for his boss.  He was honest and did a good job.  God made Potiphar successful because Joseph was working for him. 


Potiphar saw what a good worker Joseph was.  He knew he could trust Joseph.  Little by little he gave Joseph more responsibility.  God continued to help Potiphar because of Joseph.  Finally Potiphar put Joseph in charge of all the slaves and all the house and everything he owned.  He trusted Joseph so much he did not have to think about anything in his house except the food he ate. 


Joseph was smart and worked hard.  He was also strong and handsome.  Potiphar’s wife was attracted to Joseph.  She asked Joseph to come to bed with her.  Joseph refused.  He said to her, “My master has trusted me with everything he owns.  How could I do this terrible thing and sin against God?”

Day after day Potiphar’s wife asked Joseph to sin with her.  Every time Joseph refused.  He tried to stay away from her.  One day when none of the other slaves were in the house, Potiphar’s wife grabbed Joseph by his coat and said, “Come to bed with me!”


Joseph slipped out of his coat and ran out of the house.  This made Potiphar’s wife very angry.  She lied about Joseph.  She said, “Joseph came in to insult me.  He wanted me to go to bed with him.  When I screamed, he left his coat in my hand and ran away.”


Potiphar believed his wife.  He was very angry.  He put Joseph in prison.









captain (n)

in charge of

guard (n)

work hard

slave (n)

attracted to

honest (adj)

come (go) to bed with

responsibility (n)

master (n)

day after day

insult (v)

grab (v)

prison (n)

slip (v)




 1.  Potiphar bought Joseph to work for him.  What was Joseph’s job?

 2.  Why did God make Potiphar successful?

 3.  Could Potiphar trust Joseph?

 4.  What did Potiphar put Joseph in charge of?

 5.  Was Joseph good looking?

 6.  Who was attracted to Joseph?

 7.  What did Potiphar’s wife want Joseph to do?

 8.  Did Joseph do it?

 9.  What did Potiphar’s wife tell her husband?

10.  What did Potiphar do to Joseph after he heard his wife’s lie?


Even though Joseph tried to do what was right, bad things happened to him.  He could have gotten mad at God.  He could have become bitter and quit trying to do his best.  But he didn’t.  He continued to work hard and do the right things.


God helped the warden of the prison to like Joseph.  The warden saw that he could trust Joseph.  He put Joseph in charge of all of the other prisoners.  Joseph took full responsibility for taking care of the prisoners.


Two of the prisoners with Joseph had worked for Pharaoh.  One was Pharaoh’s baker.  The other was his cupbearer.  A cupbearer would bring Pharaoh his wine.  He would taste it first to make sure no one was trying to poison Pharaoh.  The baker and the cupbearer had both done something to make Pharaoh angry.  So Pharaoh had put them in prison.


One night the baker and the cupbearer each had a dream.  When they woke up they were very troubled.  They thought their dreams had meaning, but they didn’t know what the meaning was.


When Joseph found out that they were troubled, he offered to help them.  He said, “Only God knows what dreams mean.  Tell me what your dreams are.  God will help me know the meaning of your dreams.”


Joseph told them what their dreams meant.  He told the cupbearer, “In three days Pharaoh will make you his cupbearer again.  When you get your job back, please tell Pharaoh about me.  Tell him that I do not deserve to be in prison.  Maybe Pharaoh will take me out of prison.”


The baker was glad to hear that the cupbearer’s dream had a good meaning.  He asked Joseph what his dream meant.  Joseph told him, “In three days Pharaoh will have you killed.”


These dreams came true.  In three days Pharaoh gave the cupbearer his job back.  But he had the baker killed.  The cupbearer was glad to get his job back.  But he did not keep his promise to Joseph.  He forgot to tell Pharaoh about Joseph.  So Joseph stayed in prison for two more years.



quit (v)

cupbearer (n)

warden (n)

wine (n)

prisoner (n)

poison (v)

full (adj)

troubled (adj)

baker (n)

offer (v)

 Irregular Verbs



Past Participle




has quit

will quit



11.  What did the prison warden put Joseph in charge of?

12.  What did the cupbearer’s dream mean?

13.  What did the baker’s dream mean?

14.  Did these dreams come true?

To Think About

1.  Joseph tried to do what was right, but bad things still happened to him.  Can you think of an example of something bad that happened to a very good person?


2.  Is life always fair*?  Is life usually fair?  Can we control* our lives so only fair things will happen to us?  Can we control our children’s lives so that only fair things will happen to them?


3.  Can God control the lives of people?  If so, why do you think He lets bad things happen to good people?



 fair (adj)

control (v)