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Old Testament Essays

On-line version ISSN 2312-3621
Print version ISSN 1010-9919


ADAMO, David Tuesday. The Nameless African Wife of Potiphar and her contribution to Ancient Israel. Old testam. essays [online]. 2013, vol.26, n.2, pp.221-246. ISSN 2312-3621.

The wife of Potiphar is popularly believed to have come from Egypt on the African continent like her husband. She is referred to as the "African Wife of Potiphar" not only because Egypt is part of the African continent, but also because the ancient Egyptians referred to themselves as having ancestors in Punt along the coast of Somali Land. Despite the fact that the discussion centres on the woman's seduction or her misbehaviour, her action has a blessing on its own.2 The woman is pivotal to the survival of the Hebrews in Egypt. Her seduction initiated the event that brought the family of Jacob to Egypt, thus setting the stage for one of the major themes of the entire Bible, the Exodus or deliverance. This misbehaviour brings Joseph to the notice of Pharaoh and to a very high position of authority through which he organises the food supplies in Egypt. Joseph made Egypt to become the bread basket of the ancient Near East in that period (Gen 12:10). Despite the fact that so many readers condemn the behaviour of Potiphar's African wife, she behaves like any normal human being with great desire for children. An examination of her story in the Bible, Qur'an, Jewish Legends and ancient works of art reveals that she is not better or worse than any normal human being whose husband may be impotent or a eunuch.

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