Sweet mercy metropolis: Interpreting Aseneth's honeycomb


Journal Article

In the ancient Jewish romance of Joseph and Aseneth, the Egyptian maiden Aseneth eats from a life-giving honeycomb. In partaking of the honeycomb, she is transformed into Joseph's eternal bride and a City of Refuge. This essay explores the significance of the honeycomb through close analysis of the text of Joseph and Aseneth in comparison with the use of honey and honeycomb imagery in the Septuagint. Aseneth equates the sweetness of God with God's capacity for mercy. The honeycomb thus proves a fitting medium for imparting this mercy to Aseneth and to others through her. After she has partaken of its substance, and the bees have constructed a second honeycomb upon her lips, she is at last made pure and transformed into an agent of divine mercy for others, modeling an ethic of mercy that elevates the practice of forgiveness above the exercise of vengeance. © SAGE Publications.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Portier-Young, AE

Published Date

  • January 1, 2005

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 14 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 133 - 157

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1745-5286

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0951-8207

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0951820705051956

Citation Source

  • Scopus