Asenath


#1

I am wondering if anyone else has ever wondered about Joseph's (son of Jacob) wife Asenath:

"45 And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaph′enath-pane′ah; and he gave him in marriage As′enath, the daughter of Poti′phera priest of On. So Joseph went out over the land of Egypt." -Genesis 41:45 (RSV: CE)

"50 Before the year of famine came, Joseph had two sons, whom As′enath, the daughter of Poti′phera priest of On, bore to him." -Genesis 41: 50 (RSV: CE)

I know Asenath is spoken in the apocryphal work "Joseph and Asenath," as well as in Midrash. I'm pretty sure the apocryphal work "Joseph and Asenath" is not considered canonical by the Church (obviously since it's not included in the OT anyway). I'm not sure about the Church's position about Midrash though (for those that don't know, the definition of Midrash is as follows, from dictionary.com: "an early Jewish interpretation of or commentary on a Biblical text, clarifying or expounding a point of law or developing or illustrating a moral principle.")

I would think that maybe Asenath was not written about more because A) not much was known about her as time passed on, B) she was a woman (therefore, not really important in a patriarchal world), and/or C) was the daughter of an obscure but important religious figure (I would think that being a priest of an entire city would make Asenath's father important in the eyes of the Egyptian government).

I guess my question is, since Asenath was the daughter of a (pagan) Egyptian priest, did she eventually become an Israelite and follower of YHWH; or, was she still a pagan at the time, believing in several Egyptian deities (her name is believed to derive from the Egyptian goddess Neith)? Probably a pointless question to ask, but reading my "Action Bible" today re-sparked my interest in this obscure biblical figure.

Asenath did, afterall, bore 2 sons who would later become part of the Twelve Tribes of ancient Israel.


#2

I don't know, but it occurs to me that descent from the Egyptian priestly class may have, even in an Israelite context, contributed to the Josephite tribes' sense of being special.


#3

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