Joseph & The 5th Pit
While Joseph was in prison he met two men that was in Pharaoh’s service. One a butler and the other a baker. They both had dreams. The next morning Joseph accurately interpreted them. The butler was restored to his position while the baker was hung on a tree. Joseph previously asked the butler to remember him when he went back to the palace of the Pharaoh. Pharaoh had 2 troubling dreams from the Lord which all his wise men and magicians could not interpret. The butler then remembered Joseph. The Pharaoh sent for Joseph out of the prison. Joseph shaved himself and changed his clothes and came to Pharaoh. Joseph accurately interpreted Pharaoh’s dream and gave wise advice and counsel concerning how to appropriately respond to the message of the dream. As a result of interpreting the dream and the wisdom that Joseph showed, Pharaoh promoted Joseph instantly to second in command of all Egypt. No one was greater in Egypt than Joseph except for Pharaoh.
Most Christians know the general story of how God took Joseph from ‘The Pit To The Palace.’ Most conversations have a tendency to end with Joseph being the 2nd in command over all of Egypt. However, there is a substantial amount of detail and history after Joseph was promoted. And it is after Joseph’s promotion that we see Joseph enter into the next Pit. This was the 5th Pit.
Through this experience we see a different type of Pit. We see Joseph entering into the Pit of Marriage. Now before any one gets offended by our calling the institution of marriage a ‘Pit’, we need to look at Joseph’s story through different eyes other than that of ‘love’. We believe that the emotional side of love in this relationship may have come at some point but certainly not initially . We conclude this simply from that fact that Joseph was a Godly man. As a result, he would have understood the importance of loving his wife, honoring her and treating her with dignity and respect. Through the normal process of loving, honoring and respecting her, his feelings toward her would naturally grow. The Bible also tells us that there were 2 children, Manesseh and Ephraim, produced by this marital union.
The 5th Pit – Marriage to Aesenath
In order to understand why this was a type of Pit, albeit not necessarily a harsh pit, but a pit none the less, we need to understand something from the beginning. This was a marriage initiated, instituted and promoted by Pharaoh.
“And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.” – Gen 41:45
This was a Politically Arranged Marriage. Joseph did not marry Asenath because he ‘fell in love’. Aesanath was a gift from Pharaoh because he wanted ‘bless’ Joseph. And the best way that Pharaoh knew to honor Joseph was to promote him to second in command and give him the ‘best and most desired wife’ in the land. The woman that fit this category was Aesanath. The Bible tells us that Aesanath was the daughter of the priest of On. On was the Egyptian city that the Greeks referred to as Heliopolis. On (Heliopolis) was the center of Sun Worship of Egypt. The Priests of On were fully integrated in terms of status and power at the highest levels throughout the Egyptian government. Pharaoh and the Egyptian government did not operate under the concept of ‘the separation of church and state’. In fact, the Pharaoh was considered to be a god. The daughter of the Priest of On would have been considered the grand prize in Egyptian circles. She was elite, had influence, status and power. Further, many of the stories written outside of the Bible describe her as being an extraordinarily beautiful woman and desired of all Egyptian men. On the surface, that may seem like a good deal for Joseph: Being promoted to second in command and marrying a very beautiful woman who was also the most desired woman in the land. So, how is this a Pit you ask? We’re glad you asked…
Here is the Pit… She was the high priestess of a religion worshipping a false God! She was brought up to be the epitome of an idol worshipper. She was a central figure for idolatry and a total affront to the Hebrew faith. For a Hebrew to marry her would have been absolutely abominable and forbidden by Jewish law and tradition. However, to deny her would have been an absolute unpardonable offence to Pharaoh, who gave him his best gift. To further complicate things, to reject her in any manner or at any time would not only have brought offence to Pharaoh but also in all likelihood, would have caused Pharaoh to take offence against the Jewish people at large. So there we have it. Not just a simple Pit. It was a very large and a very deep pit.
So what was the purpose of this Pit and did Joseph learn in it?
How To Successfully Navigate The Corridors of Egyptian Power
First of all, we know that children were born of this union. Clearly, there were intimate times. Since Joseph was as astute as he was from studying his environment and knowing how to work with people, perhaps Joseph knew to talk to her to learn how to navigate the corridors of power. Perhaps he talked to her and learned how to maneuver through the various eddies of Egyptian politics at this new level. After all, if any one would know and understand them, it would have been Aesanath. She grew up there. She was immersed, trained and experienced in this culture. Quite simply put, it was her entire life.
Interfacing with Egyptian High Society
Joseph would also have learned of the proper way to successfully interact with Egyptian ‘High Society’. Most women want their husbands to be at their best and put on a good impression with people. So logically, we can be sure that those human type of behaviors were also in play. Aesanath would have helped him learn how to integrate with the Egyptian elite. Through Aesanath, Joseph would have learned all of the secrets and customs concerning what was acceptable as well as those that were not.
The Art of Balance
The Bible tells us that Joseph went on to successfully prescribe the correct economic principles that ultimately caused Egypt to prosper during a severe famine. Joseph’s strategies caused the Pharaoh to prosper so much that he owned all of the land, livestock, food and even the people. Egypt became the source of food or ‘life’ for that region during the great severe famine. However, through all of this, the Bible never once mentions that Joseph and Aesanath had any marital problems. The Bible never hints at it either. We remember that to offend Aesanath would have been to offend Pharaoh. To offend Pharaoh would have potentially put the Jewish people in danger. Joseph had successfully learned the art of balancing a politically arranged marriage to a high priestess of a false God, pleasing Pharaoh , successfully navigating Egyptian High Society intrigue, successfully administrating and prospering Egypt along with and including the saving of his own people.
An Overseer and Mentor To Pharaoh
We believe that Pharaoh was a fairly astute person. We make this assumption based on the fact that it takes significate brain power to rule a country. It takes significant brain power to maintain power with all of the political intrigue that swirls around kingdoms and governments. We have to believe that Pharaoh observed over time the level of marital success that Joseph had with Aesanath. Through all of this Pharaoh saw how Joseph continued to serve The Lord and not acquiesce to the worship of the Sun God. Joseph’s continued godly behavior combined with the success of his marriage to Aesanath ultimately ‘ministered’ to Pharaoh. As a result, Pharaoh trusted him all the more. Further, Joseph had an established track record in all of his previous pits as one who was greatly trusted by all of his previous overseers. Pharaoh trusted Joseph so much that Joseph became a type of ‘Father’ figure to him. The Bible records this fact very clearly:
“So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.” – Gen 45:8
The Successful Transfer of The Blessing Of His Children According To Hebrew Custom In An Egyptian Land
We don’t profess to know all of the in-and-outs of Jewish Laws and Customs however, The Lord evidently caused it all to work out without violating His Word. If Joseph had somehow violated the Word of God or the Hebrew custom of his people by marrying Aesanath along with the resulting union producing Manasseh and Ephraim, then Jacob (His Father, the Patriarch and carrier of The Blessing) would never have released ‘The Blessing’ into his life. Joseph had successfully brought his children of Aesanath to Jacob to be blessed. The Blessing that was released upon them was a generational blessing that continued down through his bloodline.
“And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh. And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die: but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers.” – Gen 48:20-21
Throughout the years and the various ‘PITS’ of Joseph’s life, he gained experience, a plethora of skill sets and much wisdom. All of these things God orchestrated and allowed in order to place Joseph in a position to save his family and his people.
Joseph was anointed and ultimately became a man of seasoned regal authority and proper protocol. He thoroughly understood Egyptian governmental law, organizational process and administration. He was highly skilled at leadership and team management. He represents an example of Godly leadership at the highest level.
Joseph’s and his life was a type and shadow of Jesus Christ and His life. There are so many analogies that it is statistically mind boggling. We will conclude this conversation with just one. Joseph’s life, and the life of Jesus both had the ultimate destiny of saving their people. The things that Joseph went through and the sacrifice of being separated from his family is also reflective of Jesus being separated from God, The Father. Even though they both experienced great pain and cruelty along the way, both Joseph and Jesus ultimately walked in victory and brought deliverance and healing to their people.
The 5th and final Pit along with all of the previous Pits were all permitted by God. Each Pit had the effect of systematically preparing Joseph for his ultimate destiny. We must keep this in mind whenever we find ourselves going through the trials and tribulations in our lives. We are reminded of the scripture:
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” – Rom 8:28