Zuleikha and Potiphar

Joseph had been sold by the Midianite merchants – the ones who had pulled him out of the well – *to an Ishmaelite caravan* that was on its way to Egypt. When the caravan arrived there, the boss re-sold Joseph to a man called Potiphar, who was captain of the Pharaoh’s guard.

Joseph was made a house-servant in Potiphar’s household, and he lived with all the other servants in Potiphar’s big house. At first, Joseph did just the menial household duties. So diligent and innovative was he in everything he did, that not only Potiphar noticed, his wife, Zuleikha, noticed too.

“You know, Potty” said Zuleikha while in bed with Potiphar one night, “I think you should put your new servant, Joseph, to better use. I discern he has managerial abilities. How about putting him in charge of all the household duties. You would have less things to worry about, and you would relax more so that we could make love.”

“Yours is a good idea, dearest Zuleikha”, said Potiphar, “But, wouldn’t it take away much from what you normally do? As for making love, it wouldn’t make much difference because of……..well……you know what I’m talking about.”

“I do, Potty love, but you never know. That aside, I have lots to do that I never get done because of having to supervise the servants. I would find it a huge help were Joseph to supervise them.”

“Yes, yes, I do understand. But Joseph would be around you more when I’m away wouldn’t he? And…….well…..I can’t help noticing how you sometimes look at him. I’m not blaming you, dear Zuleikha, for Joseph’s an extremely handsome and good-looking fellow, and you are…….well…….a woman. I mean, were I a woman, I might look at him in that way too, ha ha ha. Not of course that you would do anything untoward, I don’t suggest this for a moment. But you might be overcome with improper thoughts that could affect your emotional health.”

“I’m overcome with improper thoughts all the time, didn’t you know, Potty? And I’m still in good emotional health. You know something?”


“I’m being overcome with improper thoughts right now, and they’re about you. Oh Potty darling, we’ve all night. Come on, lets start making love now. You don’t have to do anything, I’ll do everything.”

“I’ve a long day tomorrow, dear Zuleikha. Besides, I feel a headache coming on. Another time perhaps………?”

Source: Genesis 39, 1-6

This entry was posted in Joseph, Potiphar, Zuleikha and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Zuleikha and Potiphar

  1. jenny says:

    Good for you. This is a twisted playing out in fiction of a point you’ve made more than once (never mind that I think it’s way overstated) about how frequently men and women think about sex.

    I think you would like “Love, etc.” by Julian Barnes.

  2. Christopher says:

    I think I once said in a comment (was it on your site?) that while men think of sex every 52 seconds, women think of it every four months.

    I had seen articles on this topic, that all said that men think of sex far more often than do women. Since my powers of recollection aren’t good, I probably got the numbers a little wrong!!!

    Mrs Robinson (of the Graduate) has been described as a modern Zuleikha, so that Benjamin is, I suppose, Joseph. How stories do repeat themselves. This one is, no doubt, archetypal.

    I’ve yet to read any of Julian Barnes. I’ll put him on my “to read” list.

  3. jenny says:

    Yes, I think it was every 52 seconds v. every four months. I intended (but lost my nerve) to respond with a version of a familiar old joke (How stories do repeat themselves!):

    Yes, that’s true. I think about sex once every four months. But, OHHH MY GOD, TODAY’S THE DAY! 🙂

    By the way, the truly amazing Julian Barnes novel is “Flaubert’s Parrot.”

  4. Christopher says:


  5. jenny says:

    No more distracting thoughts until…oh…late June, I expect.

  6. Christopher says:

    Whereas I’ve been afflicted with at least one distracting thought even while writing and posting this……..but……I enjoyed it………..

  7. jenny says:

    Hey, you are….fun-nee…fun-nee.

    And funny is my favorite glimpse of humanity. Thanks.

  8. dafna says:

    Brilliant dialogue Christopher!

    timing is everything… Zuleikha whispering her suggestion to dear Potty when he is most inclined to let his desire do the thinking for him 😉

  9. Christopher says:

    I love doing dialogue. It’s such a free and relaxing form of writing, and so unpredictable.

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