Matters of Faith: An Unlikely Participant

By Reverend J. Loren Russell

Genesis 41: 45, 50

“And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave Him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt. And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him.”

I searched the Bible, looking for women who are relatively unknown to the average reader and an unlikely participant in the history of the Hebrew nation. I found such a woman in the Old Testament. She was a cultured, intelligent, beautiful Egyptian woman who played a pivotal role in the history of both Judaism and Christianity.

Most people know the story of Joseph, but few know of his wife Asenath. She was presented to Joseph to be his wife by Pharaoh Ramses II who was so impressed by Joseph’s abilities and wisdom that he promoted him to the second highest position in all of Egypt, that of Visor, and put him in charge of all grain supplies in the nation. He arranged for Joseph to marry this aristocratic Egyptian woman, a woman of great cultural refinement, well-educated, and the daughter of Potipherah, a man of great renown in their society. He was also a priest of Sun Ra, the pagan god of the Egyptians.

It was important for Joseph to integrate into the fabric of the Egyptian community as quickly as possible. This marriage would de-Semitize Joseph, making him acceptable to the Egyptian culture. But the Lord had another plan. By giving her two sons, He would make Asenath acceptable to the Hebrew nation.

Just imagine what Asenath must have been thinking. Joseph was a stranger in Egypt who came as a slave, accused of rape, and spent many years in prison. His family was a nomadic clan with no permanent roots.
She could have easily thought, “No self-respecting woman would dare to be tied to the likes of a fellow like this.” She was an unlikely participant.

Asenath’s name means ‘gift from the sun-god.’ Not only was she a gift to Joseph, but she gave Joseph two sons. Joseph named the first son, Manasseh, which means “God has made me forget all my hardships.” He
named the second son, Ephraim, because “God has made me fruitful in the land of my misfortunes.” Their two sons became fathers of two of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

God’s plans for us does not always match the plans we have for ourselves. Sometimes we become unlikely participants in great and mighty works. Asenath could never had imagined herself married to a slave who was accused of rape, spent twelve years in prison, and then became the second in command of Egypt whose children would lead two Hebrew nations.

This Women’s History Month let me encourage you. Some situation you may find yourself in may turn out to be the means that the Lord is using to make you an unlikely participant in one of His incredible plans.

Be Blessed!

Rev. J. Loren Russell is President/CEO of The JLR Company for Church Financial Strategy & Consulting; an associate minister at both Goodwill and The Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx; creator & host of “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” Mondays 8:00 – 10:00 PM on Facebook LIVE and author of Matters of Faith: The Book (eBook available at

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