Book Recommendation: Asenath by Anna Patricio

Back cover blurb:

Two Destinies…One Journey of Love

In a humble fishing village on the shores of the Nile lives Asenath, a fisherman’s daughter who has everything she could want. Until her perfect world is shattered.

When a warring jungle tribe ransacks the village and kidnaps her, separating her from her parents, she is forced to live as a slave. And she begins a journey that will culminate in the meeting of a handsome and kind steward named Joseph.

Like her, Joseph was taken away from his home, and it is in him that Asenath comes to find solace…and love. But just as they are beginning to form a bond, Joseph is betrayed by his master’s wife and thrown into prison.

Is Asenath doomed to a lifetime of losing everything and everyone she loves?

Narelle: I really enjoyed reading Asenath and I gained many insights into life in Ancient Egypt. I find it fascinating to read books set during Biblical times from the perspective of other cultures. The Egyptians feared the God of the Israelites for many reasons.

The fictionalised account of Asenath and Joseph’s journey to love revealed their strength of character as they endured many hardships. He was sold into slavery by his brothers and was later imprisoned due to the false testimony from his Egyptian master’s wife. Joseph is a beloved hero of the Bible who provided food and shelter for his family in Egypt during the famine. I recommend this book, by an Australian author, to those looking for an exciting historical romance set during Biblical times.

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Sibling Rivalry: Joseph saves Judah and his brothers

by Narelle Atkins

We need to look at the relationship between Jacob and his wives to understand the sibling rivalry between Jacob’s sons. Jacob loved Rachel and he worked seven years for her father, Laban, to earn Rachel’s hand in marriage. But Laban also had an older daughter, Leah, and custom dictated the older daughter married before the younger daughter. In Genesis 29 we learned how Laban tricked Jacob into marrying Leah instead of Rachel. Jacob then worked another seven years to earn his right to marry Rachel, Leah’s beautiful younger sister.

The jealousy and rivalry between the two sisters was fierce. Although Leah bore sons for Jacob while Rachel remained barren, Jacob loved and favoured Rachel. As part of their sibling rivalry, Rachel and Leah’s maidservants, Bilhal and Zilpah, also bore sons for Jacob.

Eventually Rachel fell pregnant with Joseph. Jacob loved and favoured Joseph above all his children because he was Rachel’s son. Rachel died after she gave birth to her second son, Benjamin.

The sons of Leah, Rachel, Bilhal and Zilpah continued the sibling rivalry exhibited by Leah and Rachel. The older brothers hated Joseph because he was their father’s favourite son. Joseph told his brothers about his dreams, and how he had dreamed his brothers would all bow down to him. Joseph’s dreams incensed his brothers and they plotted to kill him.

The brothers threw Joseph into an empty cistern in the desert and Judah suggested they sell Joseph to the passing Ishmaelite traders instead of killing him. Joseph ended up in slavery in Egypt and, after interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams and earning his favour, Joseph was put in charge of the whole land of Egypt.

The brothers gave Joseph’s blood stained robe to their father, claiming Joseph must have been killed by an animal. Jacob was devastated and deeply mourned the loss of his son. Many years later a famine struck all the lands, including Canaan and Egypt. Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to buy food, and they don’t recognise their brother, Joseph.

Joseph kept his identity a secret and he longed to see his younger brother, Benjamin. But Jacob was very attached to Benjamin and wanted to keep him close by his side in Canaan. Benjamin accompanied his brothers on their second trip to Egypt. When Joseph set Benjamin up and planned to keep Benjamin in Egypt as his slave, Judah stepped in and was prepared to sacrifice his life and freedom in exchange for the freedom of his younger brother. In response to Judah’s plea, Joseph revealed his true identity to his brothers and they were happily reconciled.

Joseph asked Pharaoh to set aside land for his family in the region of Goshen to enable Joseph’s family to survive the next five years of famine. Joseph’s brothers were shepherds and the Egyptians refused to associate with shepherds, which was why Joseph requested his family have land separate from the Egyptians.

In the years to come the Israelites prospered in Egypt and grew in number, in keeping with God’s promise to Abraham that his numerous descendents would become a great nation. The opening chapters in the book of Exodus show how the Egyptians, under a new king who didn’t know about Joseph, oppressed Jacob’s descendents in Egypt.

Judah and Tamar

by Deborah Horscroft

Judah and Tamar are one of the Bible’s most unlikely couples. Judah’s story starts in the middle of Joseph’s story in the book of Genesis. Judah sold his father’s favourite son (Joseph of the techni-coloured coat and unpopular dreams) into slavery, left home and married a Canaanite woman. They had three sons, at least two of whom turned out so badly that God killed them for their sinfulness.

Both sons had been married to a much-wronged young woman called Tamar, who was probably also a Canaanite. Neither brother had any children. According to ancient customs, later made law by God through Moses, Judah owed Tamar a roof over her head and the opportunity to bear children. Instead he sent her home in disgrace. When Tamar tricked Judah into giving her twins (read Genesis 38 for the details), Judah admitted that she had been more righteous than he.

Righteousness in the book of Genesis is not related to keeping the ten commandments (they haven’t arrived yet) but in believing in God’s incredible promises and acting upon that trust. Judah and his family were told they would become a great nation and inherit the promised land. All they had to do was raise lots of children to know and follow God and He would do the rest. Judah started badly by selling his own brother into slavery, marrying an idolatrous foreigner and raising evil sons. When Tamar forced him to do right by her, his life changed for the better.

By the time Judah faced Joseph in Egypt he had learned about self-sacrifice; he risked his life and liberty to save his brother Benjamin and to honour a promise to his father.

Tamar’s “righteousness” is hard to fathom, and Tamar and Judah’s twins Perez and Zerah were born in scandalous circumstances, yet Perez became the forefather of Boaz (Ruth’s husband), King David and ultimately of Jesus Christ.


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