It was late into the night when Asenath and her father finally left Potiphar’s house and went home. Then Asenath lay awake for hours thinking of the wonderful things Joseph told her about her God. Consequently she slept late into the day and was surprised that the whole world seemed to be buzzing with some sort of news when she awoke.
She reacted to the news by blurting, “But that’s not true, Father! You know Joseph wouldn’t do anything like that. You must tell Potiphar right away, Father. You know you must!”
“He already knows, my dear,” her father said. “If he believed his wife, Joseph would have been put to death immediately, but she is his wife. He must defend his wife’s honor.”
Asenath began to sob. “But Father, you know Joseph wouldn’t do anything to dishonor any woman.”
Poti-Phera put his arm around Asenath’s shoulders and drew her close to his heart. “Yes, my daughter,” he said, “we all know that, but a man must not call his wife a liar or allow anyone else to call her one. You see, my dear, Potiphar’s first allegiance is to his wife. A man cannot abandon his wife whether she is wrong or right.”
Asenath ran to her room and threw herself across her bed, weeping bitterly. “Where are you now, my God?” she asked. “Where is the joy that was in my heart last night? Did you go to the prison with Joseph? Will you protect him in that awful place? Can you be here with me and in that prison with Joseph too? If you can’t, then please go to the prison and stay with Joseph.”
Then the Holy Spirit of God came and whispered to her heart, “I created the heavens and the earth by my great power. It was by my word that the earth made a channel for the mighty Nile River and it is my power that causes it to overflow and water the crops every year. It is I who determine its measurements and fastened its foundations.”
Asenath sat up and dried her tears and her soul sang, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth is removed, or the mountains are carried into the midst of the sea – even if the waters roar and are troubled and the mountains shake and tremble, we will not fear.”
Asenath’s father told his wife, “Leave her alone. The child was quite taken with the Hebrew slave. It will take time, but she will forget him.”
Six months later Asenath’s mother approached her father. “It has been long enough. Asenath isn’t getting any younger and she is doing nothing to attract the attention of the young men. She cares nothing for her appearance. All she cares about is finding some poor unfortunate slave and trying to make his or her life better. It’s ridiculous! What has she to do with the slaves but to give them orders? Why can’t she understand that she has more important things to worry about? She certainly must stop this foolishness and find a husband.”
“Now, now, my dear,” her husband said. “Asenath is very beautiful just the way she is and any young man worthy of her will be able to see that.”
His wife sighed deeply and turned away. Then she squared her shoulders and spun back to her husband. She laid her hand lovingly on his arm. “Dear husband,” she said softly, “the young men are looking for wives who can complement them in their chosen business. They expect their wives to compete well with other women. Asenath is extremely lovely, but the young men of today need sophistication in their wives.”
However Asenath’s lack of interest in beauty aids and jewelry wasn’t the only cause of disharmony in Poti-Phera’s household in the next few years. Asenath was a constant source of frustration for both her parents, not only because she didn’t conform to the social norm in in her dress, but because she was monotheistic and refused to worship any of the family gods. And she made an enemy of her sister by asking her if she thought her Creator wanted her to use contraceptives since he had told mankind as a whole to be fruitful and multiply.
Asenath hadn’t meant to make her sister mad. She was just wondering out loud about it, but it had the undesired effect of setting the whole family in an uproar for days.
It was because of these things that Asenath spent less and less time in the company of her family and childhood friends. And it was a result of this outcome that made her seem less and less a part of the family and community. She left the scorn of the people she knew and walked for hours among the palms letting the rich black soil of the Nile Valley sift through her toes.
Here she told her God all of her thoughts and feelings and heard his answers in his creation. The heavens eulogize the excellence of God and the expanse above displays his proficiency. Every day communicates his talent and each night exposes his knowledge. There is no speech nor language where the voice of nature praising God is not heard. Their evidence has gone out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world.
She was beholding, as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord and being transformed into his image from one attribute to another by the Spirit of God.
“Maybe worshiping just one god isn’t so bad,” her father said. “Her god is n’t like any other god, after all. He is full of mercy and truth and doesn’t seem to require anything but love and devotion. Joseph told Asenath his god would give Asenath joy and peace and I believe he has.”
His wife drew in her breath and let it out slowly. “Yes dear, she does seem peaceful and happy, but I worry about her future and I don’t understand her god at all.”
“Well, dear, I believe I’ve devised a way to understand him. He seems to be everything that our gods aren’t. He is not unjust and he doesn’t demand the impossible.
His wife’s face went white. “Oh my husband,” she said with her hand over her mouth. “The gods will hear you and be angry.”
“They haven’t been able to do anything to hurt Asenath,” he said. “I believe she said he is all powerful and can’t be moved. I’m well satisfied Asenath has made this gracious and mighty god hers.”
His wife was silent a moment with her head down, the she looked up and said, “Yes, I believe I am too. Her devotion is so great she might not even need a husband to make her happy. Oh, I don’t believe that! How can a woman live a lifetime without a husband?”
“Maybe her god will give her a husband,” her spouse said.
Her sigh contained a sob this time. “He would have to be a mighty god indeed to do that. You just won’t understand, will you?” She put her hand lovingly on his arm. “Forgive me, my dear. I won’t let this cause friction between us. I will just accept it as an immutable fact.”
A Mighty God Indeed
Sesostris III, Pharaoh of Egypt, sat on his steed and watched his subjects bow to his new prime minister with a satisfied mind. This man commanded immediate respect from all who saw him. Sesostris saw it in the faces of his people. Yes, his royal magnificence was well pleased with his appointment. But what was this? Joseph was bowing himself to a young girl. She was plainly attired but she wore that same other-world nobility that made Joseph stand out in a crowd. Neither said anything, of course, but their eyes met and Sesostris saw the invisible link. He turned to the captain of the guard and said, “Who is that girl? Bring her and her father to me immediately!” He was so excited he almost fell off his lordly seat.
Potiphar bowed and obeyed.
At first Asenath was frightened when Potiphar summoned her and her father to follow him. She had been walking on clouds ever since she discovered the new prime minister they were called out to pay their respects to was none other than Joseph, the beloved Hebrew slave. It all seemed like some wonderful dream and, when Potiphar instructed her father to bring her and follow him immediately, she wondered if this dream was going to turn into a nightmare. But when she saw they were headed straight for Pharaoh and Joseph, she didn’t care what the outcome was so long as she could be that near Joseph.
Asenath hardly knew how she got through the formalities. Her head was spinning and she couldn’t get her breath. She didn’t dare look up but she could see Joseph in her mind’s eye and she could feel his presence. Then, as if in a dream, something Pharaoh was saying caught her attention.
“… she will become his wife as soon as you can prepare her …”
Asenath looked up into Joseph’s eyes and saw pleasure – and it was her that he was pleased with. “What?” she whispered.
Yes, it was true. Asenath was to be Joseph’s wife. Her eyes shone like two lights under black lashes and the color flooded her cheeks.
Joseph’s words were like velvet to Asenath’s ears. “God has made up for all the bad by giving me such a wife,” just as though she were better than being made ruler of all Egypt.
Asenath and Joseph were married in a ceremony of great pomp and circumstance to the great delight of her mother, but Asenath was carried through the whole thing in a fog of delight that she was to be the wife of her beloved Joseph. The joy they shared in the Lord made their marriage a continual source of bliss for both of them.
Today, we in America, have a four sector economy with cash flowing from households to goods and services, credit markets, foreign economies, and the government; and from government to goods and service markets. Factor payments include wages, rents, interest, and profits.
Egypt’s economy was different in the way factor payments were made because of the slave market. The economy was very much agrarian and depended on slave labor for its production. Joseph’s 1/5 tax on all the produce of the land wasn’t much for the land owners to spare and the slave population did the actual gathering and built the cities for storage. Joseph’s royal bearing lead to respect and love wherever he went stimulating cooperation.
These were happy years for Joseph and Asenath. They had two sons and Joseph named them to express his fulfillment and happiness: Manasseh for forgotten pain and Ephraim (double prosperity) for fruitfulness.
Then the seven years of famine came and Joseph sold back to the Egyptians what he obtained for them in the seven years of plenty, not only providing food for all of Egypt, but making Pharaoh exceedingly rich and powerful.