Separate Tables

Asenath, from atop her high tower, watched Joseph as he emerged from his chariot and was *ushered in* to her father’s, Potiphera’s, house. Such was Joseph’s beauty that just seeing him turned Asenath’s body to jelly, and her knees became weak.

She remembered that she had made *uncomplimentary remarks* about him to Potiphera. This made her afraid, for Joseph seemed to her a man who could see into the hearts of anyone he turned his eyes upon, and would know all their secrets.

So, if Asenath should meet Joseph – as she was sure to because he was in her father’s house – he (Joseph) would just have to look at her to know that she’d said he was not worthy of her because of his humble origins, his foreignness, and that he’d been a fugitive and a jail-bird.

What made it more galling for Asenath was that none of this was any longer of importance. Her seeing Joseph had swept it all away, for she had fallen hopelessly in love with him. “If only Father would give me to Joseph I would serve him forever”, thought Asenath.

Then she descended from the top of her tower, and went over to her father’s house and looked into it from the outside, hoping she might get a closer glimpse of the fascinating Joseph.

***

When Potiphera had ushered Joseph into his house, he sat him down and got a servant to wash his feet. When it came time to eat, Joseph asked for a separate table.

“Whatever for, prime minister?”

“Don’t take it personally, Potiphera, but it’s an abomination for me to eat with you Egyptians.”

“Have it your way, prime minister,” said Potiphera, who ordered a servant to bring in another table.

After they began to eat Joseph noticed a beautiful young woman (who was Asenath) outside looking in at them.

“That young woman outside, could you tell her to go away?”

“This is an odd request from a young man such as you, prime minister.”

Joseph explained to Potiphera that the wives and daughters of the rich men all over Egypt were always throwing themselves at him, and that they seemed to suffer so much after seeing him that they sent emissaries with gold and silver and valuable gifts to entice him to lie with them.

Joseph explained further that he didn’t succumb because if he did, it would be a sin in the eyes of the God of Israel.

“I have to confess,” said Joseph, “that sometimes I’m on the point of succumbing. I’m only saved from doing so because at these times I conjure up the words my father, Jacob, who used to say to me and my brothers: ‘Be on your guard, boys, against the strange woman and have nothing to do with her, for she is ruin and destruction.’ Now you’ll understand why I asked you to get the young woman outside to go away.”

“You needn’t worry about her, prime minister, for she’s my daughter, Asenath, who has never known a man in the fullest sense, and has no desire to because she detests men.”

“I’m relieved to hear this.”

“So, if you wouldn’t mind,” said Potiphera, “I’ll get her to come in, for it isn’t everyday that she meets a prime minister. Think of her as your sister if you find yourself thinking lascivious thoughts, for she is, as you can see, exceptionally beautiful.”

“I’ll be happy to meet her,” said Joseph.

Sources:

– Genesis 41, 45 – 46

Joseph and Asenath – Chapters 6 and 7

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This entry was posted in Asenath, Jacob, Joseph, Potiphera and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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