11. “How Can I Do This Great Wickedness”

This lesson’s scripture texts show the negative consequences of the sin of immorality and even the accusation of immorality. Joseph’s family story teaches the importance of moral living and covenants.

“Joseph as a Type of Christ in Syriac Literature,” Kristian S. Heal, BYU Studies, Vol. 41, no. 1
Joseph is often viewed in modern times solely as an example of moral fortitude in the face of temptation. However, the Christological aspect of the Joseph story was also important for early Christians. In fact, in order to understand why the reading of the story of Joseph was appropriate for Easter, one must know that Joseph was seen in early Syriac Christianity first and foremost as a type of Christ. This article will show the extent of this typological connection in the early writings of the Syriac-speaking Christians and will also show how this typological connection affected one particular retelling of the Joseph narrative.

“The Story of Judah and Tamar,” Ben Spackman, Religious Educator
Though its insertion into the Joseph story seems random, the presence of several literary themes common to Genesis 37 and 39 (extending further into the Joseph story in some cases) demonstrates the deliberate and skillful placement of this episode. First is the theme of deception involving a piece of clothing. Also, Judah progresses from selfishness (offering tokens of himself as a pledge to pay a prostitute) to selflessness and redemption in the Joseph story (offering himself as a pledge for the good of his family, redeeming Benjamin and sparing Israel pain). In portraying this episode in Genesis 38, we also come to understand how Judah loses the birthright, which passes to Joseph.

“Lessons from the Old Testament,” Ronald A. Rasband, Ensign March 2006
Joseph’s response to Potiphar’s wife is as powerful now as it was then: “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” After this experience, Joseph was falsely accused and thrown into prison. However, the Lord continued to bless him because of his righteousness.