Asenath, the final bride in Genesis, is unique because she was a Gentile taken out of the world of Egypt and presented to her bridegroom, Joseph, in his day of exaltation. The three previous brides, Eve, Rebekah, and Rachel, were linked respectively to a wounded man, a wealthy man, and a willing man, but Asenath is married to a man described by Pharaoh as ‘wise’ (the first godly ‘wise’ man in scripture), Gen. 41. 39. Joseph is a beautiful type of Christ, ‘in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’, Col. 2. 3. If, in Eve, we have great failure, in the final bride we have a glorious future, ‘The marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready’, Rev. 19. 7 NKJV.
Joseph, in his exaltation, receives seven things from Pharaoh that point to his glory: a new position, his ring, vestures of fine linen, a gold chain, a chariot, a new name and, the seventh, a wife called Asenath. The type would not be complete without a bride for Joseph, but it is only after he receives his new name Zaphnath-Paaneah, meaning ‘Saviour of the world’, that he receives Asenath as a gift. Had there been no suffering, there would have been no bride. She owed all that she had to the obedience of the beloved son who was willing to leave his father’s house and who became the suffering servant.
As Gentiles, we too had no hope in this world but for the kindness of God our Saviour, and through His rejection and glorious exaltation, we are espoused to our heavenly bridegroom who has been highly exalted and given a name that is above every name. It is important to distinguish between the three wedding terms that scripture uses to describe the church. The first is ‘a chaste virgin’, 2 Cor. 11. 2, picturing the espousal stage of the church today - espoused to one man who is coming back. The second term, church when Christ comes in glory and she becomes His bride. Finally, in Revelation chapter 21 verse 9, she is ready to enter into an eternal union and reign with Christ, for which the bride, ‘the Lamb’s wife’, has made herself ready. What a glorious future she has compared to the destruction of ‘the great whore’, Babylon, is coming back. The second term, ‘the bride’, Rev. 22. 17, describes the church when Christ comes in glory and she becomes His bride. Finally, in Revelation chapter 21 verse 9, she is ready to enter into an eternal union and reign with Christ, for which the bride, ‘the Lamb’s wife’, has made herself ready. What a glorious future she has compared to the destruction of ‘the great whore’, Babylon, Rev. 19. 2!
Asenath was delivered from a world of religious confusion. Her father, Potipherah, was an Egyptian priest whose name was linked to the Sun God, Ra. Asenath’s name means ‘belonging to the goddess Neith’. She was the goddess of creation, wisdom, weaving, and war. God’s grace, however, would ensure that this aristocratic woman of Egypt would now forever be united to the God of creation, the creator of the sun, and loved by the wisest man in Egypt. What a glorious change was wrought in the life of this woman on account of Joseph! While Asenath’s link with the priesthood of Egypt would be broken, a new link with a high priest in Israel would be formed. Asenath reminds us that God is still able to work in this world for His own glory by taking a bride for Himself.
The timing of Asenath’s presentation to Joseph as his bride is interesting if we look at the dispensational picture in this relationship. It takes place before the seven-year famine, which foreshadows ‘the time of Jacob’s trouble’, Jer. 30. 7 - the tribulation.
The bride would be safe with Joseph, just as the church will be in the safekeeping of our heavenly Joseph as the world is starved under the dreadful regime of the antichrist. It can only be Christ that will give His people their ‘daily bread’.
God would bless her with two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, causing Joseph to forget his rejection. In Manasseh, God would cause him to forget his toil, while in Ephraim he recognized, ‘God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction’, Gen. 41. 52. One of the purposes of Christ taking a bride for Himself is that there would be fruit for His glory. It would make all the suffering of Calvary worthwhile, as Isaiah wrote, ‘He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many’, Isa. 53. 11. The writer to the Hebrews wrote, ‘who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God’, Heb. 12. 2.
Of all Joseph received in Egypt only the fruit that came as a result of his bride would have any lasting benefit and blessing. Ephraim and Manasseh would be brought into blessing by adoption and possess an inheritance in the land that they had no right to by birth. The double portion of Joseph would be eternally linked to the bride that he loved and cherished. We never read of Asenath in the other major accounts of Joseph’s life, Psalm 105 or Acts chapter 7, as it seems that her identity is forever bound up in the name of Joseph just as our name is bound up in Christ. Unlike his forefathers, we never read of Joseph having another wife - fulfilling Christ’s singular love for the church -neither do we read of Asenath’s death, reminding us that in our heavenly Joseph we have life which is eternal. John sees the Lamb’s wife ‘having the glory of God’, Rev. 21. 11. This is a fulfilment of the Lord’s prayer, ‘the glory which thou gavest me I have given them’, John 17. 22. Asenath never deserved such glory, nor do we.
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