UNKNOWN MASTER, Flemish
(active around 1500 in Brussels)
Joseph and Asenathc. 1500
Oak, diameter 153 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin
Asenath (or Asenith) is a figure in the Book of Genesis, an Egyptian woman whom Pharaoh gave to Joseph, son of Jacob, to be his wife. She bore Joseph two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, who became the patriarchs of the Israelite tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim, respectively.
Her story is elaborated in the apocryphal Joseph and Asenath. There, she is a virgin who rejects several worthy suitors in favour of Joseph, but Joseph will not have a pagan for a wife. She locks herself in a tower and rejects her idolatry in favour of Joseph's God Yahweh, and receives a visit from an angel who accepts her conversion. A ritual involving a honeycomb follows, and Joseph now consents to marry her.