Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Genesis Chapter 24 v.1-25

Abraham was getting old. He called for his servant that ran his household and made him put his hand under his thigh. Which would be grounds for calling a lawyer nowadays.

Abraham made his servant swear an oath to go and get Isaac a wife. But not from the dirty Hittites of Canaan, oh no. Someone from, shall we say, the old stock. Meaning: my own family.

So you had a son with your half-sister and now you want him to marry one of his cousins? Are you intending this as some kind of scientific experiment? No, that actually wasn't the argument. The servant was worried no one would want to follow him back to a strange, famine-prone land to marry some strange person they'd never met. The servant wanted to know, maybe he could take Isaac back if that were the case.

Abraham was adamant, no, don't take Isaac back there! The Lord god of blah blah blah has given this land blah blah blah. He convinced the servant that his god would send 'an angel' before him to make his task easier. You know, cause he was such a whiner. Moreover, if a woman wouldn't come back, that was okay too. It was a lax kind of oath.

Of course his servant agreed, then removed his hand and probably-hopefully-washed it.

So the servant (they don't bother ever giving this poor man a name) gathered together all the things he would need for his long journey to procure a wife, like gold and "good things" and camels. Maybe chocolate.

When he got to Abraham's home town it was evening, and he sat the camels down next to a well where all the village women were coming to get water. This is where the servant made a wager, like tossing the dice. Only with god, and in regards to people's lives.

He told god that he would ask a woman for a sip of water and if she gave him a sip and also got him water for his camels, the servant would take it as a sign that this was SUPPOSED to be the wife he sought. You know, why bother asking around and getting NAMES and things when you can just settle for the first affable female and blame it on god?

This is how we meet Rebekah. She was the daughter of Abraham's nephew, Bethuel. She fell for the 'let me have a drink of water' gag and even got water for the stranger's camels. He gave her some jewelry and asked her who she was, and if he could sleep at her house. I think the jewelry must've been nice because she told him her pad was crazy-swinging, with "plenty of straw and fodder" which I imagine was for the camels.

More on this next time. Same god-time. Same god-channel.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Genesis Chapter 23 v.1-20

This chapter is only about burying Sarah.

Sarah died at a hundred and twenty-seven. I'm guessing Isaac, her son, was about twenty-seven. Abraham mourned and then asked the Hittites, in whose land he was living, (secretly promised to him by god, but don't tell them! tee hee!) to buy some land or a cave or something, so he could bury his wife.

The Hittites told him to just pick wherever, that he was "a mighty prince" to them. Just pick the best tomb you can find, no one will tell you no.

Which is nice of them. Considering.

Abraham wanted to buy the cave that belonged to Ephron the Hittite, the one at the end of his field. Full price.

Ephron told him he could have it. AND the field.

Abraham said, let me at least buy the field from you. To bury my dead.

Ephron said, well, it's worth 400 shekels, but don't worry about it.

Abraham paid him the money--in front of all the witnesses--and the land was deeded to him. And he buried his wife there, and the land was his, paid for by him, in the land of Canaan, deeded to Abraham by the Hittites.

That's how it reads. The way it sounds, it's as if the author is telling his side of a disputed story. Like the Hittites said, you just came and took some land! And buried someone in one of our caves! Without even asking! And the author makes sure, no I'm going to put it in my book the way it REALLY happened, you guys ALL know Abraham asked for the cave! And that he even paid for it! Stop lying!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Genesis Chapter 22 v.1-24

"Some time later God tested Abraham."

I'll say. First god told Abraham to send one of his sons out into the desert. Now this.

God called on Abraham, and Abraham said, Here I am.

Oh, there you are. Yes. Take your "only" son Isaac (only one left with you, at any rate) to a place called Moriah. When you get there I want you to sacrifice him. As a burnt offering. To me.

Two things: god is like one of those tigers that gets a taste for human flesh or something--you know, lambs aren't good enough anymore. Also, it seems like he just phones in every now and then to say the most insane shit imaginable. Like he's a prank caller.

Well, Abraham got everyone up the next morning. They cut wood for the offering fire. They loaded down a donkey with it. He and some servants, and of course the 'offering' set out for Moriah.

They traveled for three days before they saw the place in the distance. Abraham told the servants to stay with the donkey while he and Isaac went to go worship. Back in a jiff. This won't take long.

Abraham then made Isaac CARRY THE WOOD for his own offering, while Abraham carried "the fire" and his knife. They set off.

Isaac started thinking. Wood: check. Fire: check. Knife: check. Animal for slaughter. . . .

He asked his father where the lamb was. What lamb? The one we're going to sacrifice. Oh, that lamb. Well, Isaac, god. . . told me. . . that. . .he'd take care of everything. God told me he'd provide it. Yes, that sounds like something he'd say.

They continued on.

When they reached the place for the altar, Abraham built one, and piled the wood and got it all ready, then bound Isaac and laid him on the altar.

Isaac was probably thinking, I had a feeling this god you worshipped had a screw loose.

Well, Abraham was about to slit his son's throat when god called him off. I imagine him pointing and saying, "gotcha!!"

Wow, Abraham. I didn't think you'd do it. Geeze. You're hardcore. But you don't have to. I just wanted to see if you would. Thanks for playing.

So there was a ram caught in some bushes nearby and Abraham sacrificed it instead.

After this an angel called down and said, god says that because you were really going to do what he said he is going to make your descendants numerous, like the stars in the sky! And your offspring will be blessed!

And Abraham said, Yeah, you said that BEFORE this stupid joke you just played. You said you were going to do that BEFORE you made me think I had to kill my kid. So what the hell is different now?!?! Are you psychotic?!?!

He and his servants, and Isaac (who was probably a bit shellshocked) went to Beersheba. And they stayed there.

After this beautiful story, in the same chapter, the author wants us to know that Abraham found out that his brother Nahor had some sons. Uz, Buz, Kemuel, Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph and Bethuel. Okay, great.

One of them, Bethuel, was the father of Rebekah. In total Nahor had twelve sons: eight from his wife Milcah and four by his 'concubine' Reumah.

One more thing: I first heard this story when I was a kid, in Sunday School. Look how pious Abraham is! Wow, he must've really loved the lord! THAT's why he was made the father of nations.

I remember thinking, 'god's kind of an asshole? Right?' And now I know that god had been promising to make Abraham the father of nations BEFORE this. That it seems to me that god just got bored one day and decided to toy with Abraham. Like a cat and mouse thing. I'm pretty appalled that this is one of the stories in this 'holy' book. I'm more appalled that it's frequently taught to children.

"Remember, kids, there's a god that loves you very much. But if he asks your father to kill you and burn your body, your father had better do it! Have a good week!"

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Genesis Chapter 21 v.1-34

So one day, right when everyone least expected it, Sarah gave birth to a son. She was pretty happy about it, and so was Abraham. God finally got around to doing what he'd been promising for a long time. Or he lost a bet.

They named the child Isaac, and circumcised him just like they were told, and when he was weaned they had a party. Don't know if there were pony rides. Probably.

Sarah got a little antsy about Ishmael and "that slave woman" being around, and told Abraham to get rid of them both. So write Sarah's name down in the 'asshole' column. Abraham was pretty torn up about it, Ishmael was his son after all, and judging from the former story of Sarah actually BEING his sister, I'm guessing Ishmael got a better mix of genes. But god told Abraham not to worry about it. Being lost in the desert, that kind of thing builds character, makes a man out of you. Go ahead and send them away, I'll take care of things. Abraham did what god said. He loaded Hagar down with provisions and sent them both on their merry way.

Well, they ran out of food. Then they ran out of water. Turns out the latter is pretty important to have in the desert. Hagar laid her son down under the shade of a bush and went and sat by herself so she didn't have to see him die. She started to cry.

God asked Hagar why she was crying. . . God always asks Hagar stupid questions. She's good, though. She never replies, "Hello? Omniscence? Why must I spell it out for you? Are you drunk again?" God told her to get her son up from under the bush, because Ishmael was going to be a great nation. A nation of very, very thirsty people. Ah! Lo, and behold, she suddenly saw a well. Of water. It's maaaaaaagic.

Ishmael grew up and became an archer, and his mother got him a wife from Egypt.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch:

Abimelech (remember him?) and Abraham were working on a mighty good little treaty, the one where they each swear allegianc to the other, and there might be some spitting into handshakes and secret decoder rings. And Abraham mentions this water well that he says Abimelech's servants had taken over. And Abraham gives Abimelech some ewes to make sure he knows that the well really did belong to Abraham. And after that he goes home and plants a tree near it. And stays there for a long, long time.