“Who Do You Take Me For?”

In the *previous posting* was mentioned the fact that Joseph had been on the road, travelling around Egypt with an entourage for two months before he came to the city of On (later Heliopolis) and to the house there of On’s high priest, Potiphera, who was the father of Asenath, the most beautiful girl in all of Egypt.

As Joseph, with his entourage, approached, he sent ahead twelve of his men to ask Potiphera if he might receive him as his guest. Potiphera, already knowing about the Pharaoh’s appointment of Joseph as de facto prime minister, was delighted.

“It’s good you didn’t come earlier,  for I’ve only just arrived back from a holiday at my country estate. Please tell the prime minister that he’ll be most welcome in my house,” said Potiphera to the emissaries. Then he told his servants to prepare the house for Joseph’s arrival.

Asenath, from atop her tower, had seen her Father and Mother returning from their holiday. She had hurried over to the house to greet them, but only after putting on a fine gold-woven linen robe, and a golden girdle around her waist, and bracelets around her hands and feet, and a necklace around her neck, and a tiara on her head which she covered with a veil.

How could this apparition have failed to delight Asenath’s Mother and Father, even though tired from their long journey.  There were lots of squeals of joy and hugs and kisses before everyone went inside the house.

Shortly after, Joseph’s emissaries had come with his request that Potiphera have him as his guest. After Potiphera sent them away, he summoned Asenath.

“What is it, Father?”

“Joseph will be here soon and will be a guest in this house.”

“Joseph?”

“Yes. Joseph. The man who our beloved Pharaoh has just made de facto prime minister, so he can save Egypt from the great famine expected to come soon. Even though you spend nearly all your time cooped up in your tower, you must surely at least have heard of Joseph?”

“I think……..yes…….I think I’ve heard of him. Isn’t he the man who *violated Aunt Zuleikha* and got thrown in jail for it?”

“That’s water under the bridge. Besides, Joseph denied having done this to your aunt. I’m inclined to believe him, and you should too, Daughter, for Joseph is a goodly man, and a goodly man just doesn’t do to a woman what he was said to have done to your aunt, who, if you didn’t know already, is a woman of notoriously easy virtue.”

“Well, I’ll be polite to him. Will that be enough?”

“Not quite, Daughter. You see, I have in mind that he take you to wife.”

“You can’t be serious, Father. I, being taken to wife by a man, who, quite apart from what he may have got up to with Aunt Zuleikha, is a foreigner, and who was a fugitive, and who was sold as a slave? Who do you take me for? If you think I’ll willingly be taken to wife by such a man, you don’t know me very well.”

“We’ll speak of this again, Daughter, when you’ve calmed down,” said Potiphera.

Sources:

– Genesis 41, 45- 46

Joseph and Asenath – Chapters 3 and 4

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