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Genesis 41:45 "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."

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 Since you referenced the marriage of Joseph and Asenath I'll start there. This union was not an unequally yoked union! There are three methods to show support for this claim.

  1. Asenath converted from multiple god worship to belief in the God of Joseph and His ways! The examples of Joseph makes it clear that he would not have accepted a wife who continued to practice paganism. (multiple god worship) There are several other foreign women (non-Israelite) who also acknowledged the One True God and feared/obeyed Him: Hagar (Genesis), Zipporah (Exodus), Shiphrah/Puah, (Exodus) Rehab, (Joshua) and Ruth.

  2. Asenath was not an Egyptian, she was the child born from the rape (or fornication) of Jacob's daughter Dinah, thus Asenath was actually a Hebrew! (see Genesis 34) The story goes that Simeon and Levi (Dinah's brothers) wanted to kill the child from this union, but the child was taken to Egypt and left at the door step of Potiphere the priest. (sort of) Now, this story may seem like fiction, but it is surprisingly similar to the story of Moses! There is even support in Genesis for this conclusion. In Genesis 43:32-34 there is a gathering (Joseph's brothers and many Egyptians) to eat dinner and honor Joseph, but when the meal is served none is given to Joseph's brothers; for it was an abomination unto the “Egyptians” to eat with the Hebrews (Joseph would be an exception, since he was appointed second in charge of Egypt by pharaoh: Genesis 41:41) So, Joseph served his brothers (which makes some sense) but it is recorded that Benjamin's portion was 5 times that of his brothers! Joseph, Asenath and their two children (Manasseh and Ephraim) gave/served Benjamin their portions to show honor to a family member. (Joseph and Benjamin had the same mother: Rachel) “An Egyptian would not do this” This illustrates the extensive planning God did to make sure that a proper wife was available for Joseph in Egypt.

  3. Genesis 48 records that Jacob blessed Joseph's sons and declared that, for him, they were equal to his own sons and they would receive a double land portion. This action supports the “legitimate marriage of Joseph and Asenath” in the eyes of Jacob. They were not unequally yoked! (Hebrew and pagan) see: Exodus 34:14-16

The story of Rachel shows that she acknowledged the God of Jacob, (Genesis 30) but why did she take her fathers idols? We can't know for sure, but maybe she was still angry at her father for the way he treated Jacob. (concerning their marriage) It is also possible that she didn't want to leave her home and taking the idols would surely cause her father to chase them and hopefully bring them back. 


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Yes, I'll second that. Joseph was not one who would shrink back from telling others about his God. Nevertheless, the account of his being given the daughter of a pagan priest to marriage is too short to draw a definite conclusion either way. We have to rely on Joseph's loyalty to God. Your number 2 explanation about Asenath being Dinah's daughter sounds more like legend. It is too loosely, if at all, supported by the Bible. It should be noted, though, that no Law had been given yet as to who marries whom. There were only good examples such as Isaac's and Jacob's. So if Joseph just saw certain qualities in her that would lead her to the true God, he may have decided to accept Pharaoh' offer.
About Rachel, there is an interesting point in Ancient Near Eastern Texts, by J. Pritchard, 1974, pp. 219, 220. There, it is mentioned that in an excavation in Nusi, a tablet was found indicating that these clay statuettes (called teraphim) could also be used by a son-in-law to claim inheritance from his deceased father-in-law. With the unfair way Laban had treated Jacob, Rachel might have thought that her husband was further entitled to some inheritance. This may explain why Laban acted like mad trying to find them although he was a worshipper of the true God. However, this was not done with Jacob's approval. Only Rachel knew what she had done. Jacob never used the teraphim to claim anything from Laban's sons. Most probably he burried these and any other artifacts carried by the whole group returning to the Promised Land under a tree near Shechem.-Gen 35:1-4.
Teraphims were used much later in Israel as part of pagan worship, but this has no connection with the way they were used in Laban's day in that faraway land.-Judges 17:5
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