INSPIRATIONS FROM ANTIQUITY by Anna Patricio
Hardly anyone knows about Asenath, the Egyptian priestess who married Joseph the dreamer. Thus when writing my novel on her, I felt free to stretch my imagination to no end. I did, however, derive inspiration not only from Genesis (obviously) but also from some interesting tales outside the Biblical narrative.
One such tale would be Joseph and Asenath, which apparently dates to 1st century Alexandria. This story is like a fantasy; it involves Asenath seeing an angel who looks like Joseph and partaking of sacred honey which some “magical” bees feed her.
In my novel, I wanted to give a nod to this story but wasn’t sure how. When going through the last draft with my editor, she suggested that for a certain garden scene, I replace the butterflies with bees. I really like butterflies, but I also saw this as the perfect opportunity to acknowledge Joseph and Asenath. I wholeheartedly agreed.
In my novel, I took liberties with Asenath's parentage as well. I got the idea from a Jewish folktale which has Asenath as Dinah's daughter. Apparently, some folks didn't like the idea of Joseph marrying outside his people. Hence they made up a story in which Asenath was secretly Hebrew.
According to this tale, Asenath was born as a result of Dinah’s unfortunate incident at Shechem, where the latter was violated by a prince. After Dinah gave birth to Asenath, her brothers abandoned the baby in the wilderness.
The infant Asenath was rescued by an eagle who took her to the temple at Heliopolis. There, she was adopted by the high priest. Many years later, Joseph would recognise his long-lost niece by a medallion she wore which was engraved with Hebrew letters.
When writing on a little-known character, there truly is no limit to how you can imagine his or her life!
ASENATH is available in both ebook and paperback at Amazon.
For those in Sydney, Australia, the paperback edition is also available at Abbey's Bookshop (across Queen Victoria Building in the city).