In Joseph’s case, the cost was high. Potiphar’s wife wanted revenge. She immediately began screaming, summoning the other servants into the house. She claimed that Joseph had attempted to rape her and had then run off when she screamed. She kept the incriminating garment and waited for her husband’s return. When Potiphar came home, she presented the same lie, implying that it was all her husband’s fault for bringing this foreigner into their home. Potiphar’s reaction? We read: “His anger blazed”! He turned Joseph over to the prison to have him incarcerated.—Genesis 39:13-20.
“WITH FETTERS THEY BOUND HIS FEET”
We know little of what Egyptian prisons were like in those days. Archaeologists have found the ruins of such places—great fortresslike structures with cells and dungeons. Joseph later described the place with a word that literally means “the pit,” which suggests a lightless and hopeless place. (Genesis 40:15, footnote) In the book of Psalms, we learn that Joseph was subjected to further torment: “With fetters they bound his feet; his neck was put in irons.” (Psalm 105:17, 18) The Egyptians sometimes put prisoners in restraints that pinioned their arms behind them at the elbows; others bore iron collars clasped at their necks. How Joseph must have suffered to be so mistreated—when he had done nothing to deserve it!
What is more, this was no brief setback. The account says that Joseph “remained there in the prison.” He spent years in that terrible place!* And Joseph did not know if he would ever be released. As those first shocking days dragged into weeks, then months, how did he keep from falling into hopelessness and despair?