In Bresheit 34:1-2 "Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had born to Yakov, went out to see the daughters of the land. And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country saw her, he took her and lay with her, and violated her."

Bresheit 41:45 " ...and he (Pharaoh)gave him (Yosef)as a wife Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On..."

I was taught that there is a commentary which states that Asenath was the illegitimate daughter of Dinah when she was violated in Shechem.

Poti-Pherah was emasculated and unable to produce offspring, so he took Dinah as a daughter who happened to be with child (Asenath).

Can anyone verify this and cite the commentary where this can be found?

2 Answers 2


The source for the midrash is Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer, Chapter 38. The story is that when Dinah was raped by Shechem (Gen 34), she conceived and bore Asenath. Jacob made her an amulet and sent her away. The angel Michael then picked up Asenath and brought her to Egypt, where she was raised by Potiphar's wife (who was barren), and was later given to Joseph as a wife.

If I remember correctly from when I learned this it was because of Asenath's amulet that Joseph married her, recognizing her as a kin when he recognized what Jacob had made.


Besides for Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer (35 and 37 in ed. Higger), a possibly earlier source, is Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, (for a discussion of its date of authorship, see this dissertation and Wikipedia) which states in Genesis (41:45):

וִיהַב לֵיהּ יַת אָסְנַת דִילֵידַת דִינָה לִשְׁכֶם וּרְבֵיתָה אִיתַּת פּוֹטִיפֶרַע

And he gave him Os'nat whom Dina bore to Sh'khem, and was raised by the wife of Poti-Phera.

The Targum repeats this in Genesis (46:20 and 48:9).

The part about Poti-Phera being emasculated is stated in Sotah (13b).

Importantly, Pirkey D'Rabbi Eliezer (37) implies that Poti-Phera raised Osenat; not Dina (Although it uses pronouns, so this gets a bit confusing). Similarly, there is no indication that Dina went to Egypt.

  • I beg to differ from your statement that the targum psudo Yonasan on the Torah preceeds Pirkei derabbi Eliezer. Even Onkelos who is the only Targum on the Torah which The gemoro Megilla 3a recognised was a talmid of Rabbi Eliezer and any other Targumim on the torah were written afterwords as Yonnasan ben Uzziel only wrote targum on Neviim
    – user15464
    Dec 13, 2017 at 22:59
  • @user15464 I beg to differ from your statement that I stated that the Targum psudo Yonasan on the Torah preceeds Pirkei derabbi Eliezer. I just said that it might since we don't know exactly when these works were written, and linked to discussions of this. We don't know who wrote TsJ, or when. Although we can be pretty sure it was not written by YbU. Nor do we know when PDE was written, although it show many signs of having been written well after the time of R. Eliezer. Although everything I stated in the post is correct this point is tangential anyway.
    – mevaqesh
    Dec 13, 2017 at 23:03

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