07 June 2015

Asenath: Stranger

Genesis 41:45

He burst into my life,
a stranger
with strange ways
and strange dreams,
a strange story
of a god who led him
through shame into glory -
and I loved him.

He burst into my life,
and brought into question
all the things I held on to,
everything I believed.
He opened the door
to a world I never knew,
frightening and new -
and I loved him.

He broadened my horizons,
stretched my imagination;
he was my piece of foreign land,
here to see,
here to touch,
my very own glimpse
beyond my borders
into the wider world.
And I'll never be the same,
because, with him,

You burst into my life
and turned it upside-down.
You challenged my beliefs,
and drew my love on you -
on you, the strange God,
whom I saw in all he did,
whom I heard in all he said,
whom I loved in loving him.
I love him
but what I love was made by you -
so how could I not love you too?


[15. May 2015]

Asenath was Joseph's wife and daughter of an Egyptian priest (Gen 41:45).

There is an intertestamental / apocryphal book (what I like to call "ancient biblical fan-fiction", because in a sense it is) about Joseph and Asenath, and in particular about her conversion to Judaism (of which we don't read in the Bible). I read it last year - for fun, further study and in preparation of this poem (which has taken me half a year to write...). It's very interesting (the inter-testamental apocryphs all are, if you take them as fan-fiction and not as authoritative like the Bible); you can read it [here] if you like.

What struck me about the apocryphal story - and ended up flowing into this poem - is how it is about someone coming to faith through seeing the life of her husband. The Bible does not mention Asenath ever accepting Joseph's beliefs, but she would have been faced by them. So in this poem I focused on the one hand on the "meeting of cultures" in what was a cross-cultural marriage, and on the other hand on how through knowing Joseph, Asenath may have come to know God.

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