Shortly after Joseph became the de facto *prime minister* of Egypt, the Pharaoh told him to make a tour of all the land, so to assess how best to manage the problems that would be expected when dealing with the seven-year famine to come.
The Pharaoh said to Joseph, “You need to get out there and meet the people, shake their hands, press the flesh, listen to their problems, feel their pain, ask them what Egypt can do for them, and what they can do for Egypt. It’s all about public relations, about getting street cred. You need to get Egyptians on your side, else it will be exceeding difficult to implement the plan for Egypt’s survival during the seven lean years to come.”
Joseph with an entourage set off. This being long before jet aeroplanes, high-speed trains, super-highways, or even cars, travel was much slower than today. Hence it was only after travelling through Egypt for two months that Joseph came to the district of On (later called Heliopolis). He wanted to meet Potiphera, the high priest of On and chief of all the Pharaoh’s satraps. Potiphera was also very rich
Potiphera had a daughter of eighteen, who was tall and graceful, and the most beautiful girl in all the land. She was Asenath. Her beauty was talked about throughout Egypt, whose rich and unattached young men were constantly seeking permission to take her to wife.
One of these rich and unattached young men was the Pharaoh’s eldest son, who said to his father, “Father, I wish to take Asenath to wife. Can you arrange this?”
“Being Pharaoh”, said the Pharaoh , “I could of course arrange this. But why should I, though? Asenath is not of royal blood, and I insist that the young woman you take to wife be of royal blood. So I’m afraid, my boy, that you can’t take Asenath to wife.”
The Pharaoh, in his refusal, had unwittingly done his eldest son a favour because Asenath despised men – or she said she did – despite never having known any because no man (apart from Potiphera) had ever even seen her.
Asenath lived in the top of a high tower next to Potiphera’s house. She liked it there because, with ten rooms, the tower had lots of space. The first of the ten rooms had walls decorated with precious stones, and had a ceiling of gold. Dotted about this room were gold and silver statues of the various Egyptian gods who Asenath worshipped daily and offered sacrifices to.
In the second and third rooms Asenath kept all her stuff, which consisted for the most part of finery, ornaments, and fine linens.
In the other seven rooms lived seven young women who, like Asenath, were extremely beautiful, and, too, had never ever been seen by any men, and were therefore as untouched by them as was Asenath.
Asenath’s bedroom, which was the third room, had three large windows that she loved to look out of and see the courtyard below, with its flowers and little trees and springs of water.
The courtyard had four iron gates that were guarded by eighteen young and strong men who were armed with swords and clubs. Asenath liked also to look down for long periods at these eighteen young and strong men as they impassively stood guard……..
– Genesis 41, 45 – 46
– Joseph and Asenath – Chapters 1 and 2