Saturday, June 28, 2008

Genesis Chapter 19 v.1-38

Last chapter had god appearing to Abraham on the way to Sodom, and he had two henchmen with him. This chapter follows the journey of just the two henchmen into Sodom. I don't know what to make of that. Maybe god got lost and the angel-henchmen just went without him. Anyway, here we go:

The two angels got to Sodom that evening, and Lot saw them come in because he was sitting at the front gate of the city, for some reason. He asked them to come to his place, and wash their feet, and stay the night, and they could leave early in the morning, you know, before the crazies got up and going.

The angels told him they wanted to stay in the town square for the night.

Lot, imagining disaster, asked them again, beseeched even, that they stay with him. Finally the angels acquiesced.

So they ate dinner together, god knows what they talked about:
"so. . .sodom. seems nice."
"yeah. . . i guess. . ."

Before they all turned in for the night, men from all over the town came by, young and old, to ask Lot if their guests wanted to participate in any of the number of orgies they had planned for that night. Which I suppose is considerate. Not like they had tv. They told Lot they wanted to have sex with these newcomers. Kind of like a welcome wagon.

Lot went out and shut the door behind him, and told the randy townsfolk that they shouldn't "do this wicked thing." Sex with angels?!? Come on, it'll be great! No, replied Lot, I don't even think they can. They're angels. Aw come on! They replied. (I'm taking liberties here.)

Finally Lot offered up both his unwed (so I assume, teenaged) daughters for the orgies, saying, "'Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them'" but the angels are off limits, because they are under my protection. You know, unlike my daughters. It'll save me having to give the whole birds and bees lecture, anyway.

The randy townsfolk told Lot to step aside, and took offense at him calling their well organized orgies "wicked." Here's this guy that isn't even FROM here, and he wants to tell us how to live! And won't let us explore our sexuality with his angel buddies! Pshaw! He needs to get laid!

In this manner they cajoled and pressured Lot, and even thought about a plan to break down his door. While this was going on, the 'men' (I suppose they mean angels) pulled Lot back inside the house and shut the door, then handily afflicted the randy townsfolk with blindness (one could say they were on their way there, the dirty beggars!) so that they "could not find the door."

The angels explained that they were in Sodom as sort of a fact-finding mission of sin, and that the outcry against the sin seemed to be in order, so Lot should get together his family, etc. and get the fuck out of dodge. Cause Sodom was going down. And not in the way the randy townsfolk thought.

So Lot told his family, and even told the men who were pledged to marry his daughters (I don't think he told them about offering their brides-to-be up for a gang rape, do you?) but those guys laughed at him.

So it was Lot, his wife and two daughters, who still hesitated to leave, but the angels led them out of the town anyway. The angels (hitmen, I guess) told the four the keep going, and don't look back, and don't stop until you get the the mountains.

Lot looked at the far away mountains and asked the hitmen if he couldn't just stop at that small town, much closer. His knees were giving him trouble lately. The angels said that would be okay.

Lot reached Zoar, the little town, right after sunrise, and that's when "the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah". So god destroyed the cities, everyone in the cities, and even all the vegetation around the cities. And, as an afterthought, the author tells us that Lot's wife looked back and became a pillar of salt.

Abraham went out to the hill the next morning and saw the rubble and the smoke pouring from the two cities. He had saved his nephew for a second time.

So Lot and his daughters went into the mountains and lived in a cave. My thinking is that Lot was very crazy by this time. And who can blame him? His daughters, it transpired, were crazier still.

So there they were, living in a cave, and one day one of the daughters says to the other, Not really 'raining men' around here is it? What are we going to do for children? Lie with our father??!? Then I'm sure they laughed mightily. But after a while, when the crazy set in, it didn't seem like a bad idea after all (eugh!).

So they got Lot drunk on wine, cave wine I guess, and they both lay with him, and they both became pregnant. The author wants us to know that Lot had no idea what was going on because he was passed out drunk. And so begins the old saw about people living in the mountains committing incest, I suppose.

The author doesn't mention what Lot did when he found out his daughters were pregnant, nor who he thought the father was, but the two daughters both had sons, and their lineages became the Moabites and the Ammonites "of today." So if you're a member of either of those nations, reading this story would probably piss you off.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Genesis Chapter 18 v.1-33

Abraham was hanging out by the trees of Mamre in the afternoon and the lord appeared to him. The lord had two dudes with him. The lord is kind of like a mob boss that way.

When Abraham saw the trio he hurried over and bowed low, saying, hey stop a while, let me provide you with food and water and then continue on.

God said, sweet, that sounds nice. God, as I have commented before, seems to be a sucker for food and drink.

So Abraham told Sarah to get cracking on some good bread while he ran out and picked some choice meat from his flock. His servant prepared this calf, and Abraham took it and some curds and milk to the god squad who were waiting. They ate and Abraham stood nearby, in the customary waiterly position of a gentle host.

"'Where is your wife, Sarah?' they asked him."

He told them she was in the tent. Still making their bread I suppose. God replied, oh yeah, I will be back a year from now, and she will bear you a son. Sarah was listening at the door of the tent, and when she heard this, the third or fourth promise that god was going to give her a kid, she laughed to herself. She was past childbearing age, and had waited a long time for it, and now god was mentioning it again, and she thought, great, I don't have ENOUGH problems already with my arthritis!

God asked Abraham--not Sarah--why Sarah had laughed at the prospect of a child. He wondered aloud to Abraham if there wass anything too hard for the lord to be able to do. Then reassured him that she will indeed have a son in a year.

Sarah said, I didn't laugh!

God said, oh yes you did!

As god and his posse were walking away, and Abraham was walking with them to see them off, god wondered aloud whether he should tell Abraham what was going on and why he was here. This sounds like an incredibly patronizing thing to do, but okay. He figures after all that he should give Abraham the low down.

They are standing on the hill looking down at the city of Sodom and god tells Abraham that there's an outcry against the city, and its sister city Gomorrah, about the sin that was happening there. It was distressing people, I guess. God says he is going to the cities to see what all the fuss is about, and if people were exaggerating the sinfulness.

His henchmen start to leave but Abraham stays with the lord and says, but would you destroy the entire town just for a few wicked idiots? What if there are 50 good people there? Will they be treated the same as the criminals? Surely not!

God replies, all right Abraham, if I find 50 righteous people in Sodom, I will spare the whole place.

Abraham pushes it a bit further. What if there are 5 less than 50?

God says, I will spare the place for 45 good people.

This continues, the haggling, until finally Abraham reaches the number that is apparently god's threshold for righteous outweighing evil: 10. If there are ten righteous people in the city of Sodom when he goes to visit it and view the wickedness for himself, he would not destroy the town.

So god went on his merry way, like an IRS agent of sin come to repossess the town of Sodom, and Abraham went back home thinking he may have saved his nephew Lot's family, who lived in Sodom. Again.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Genesis Chapter 17 v.1-27

The way I picture this next scene is that god is an alcoholic. He's been on a long bender--which for a god is years and years. Suddenly he remembers that he made a covenant with Abram about children. He decides to go and talk to Abram about it, and add a few more (drunken) stipulations. . .

When Abram was 99, god came to him again and said, oh yeah, the covenant. I really will increase your numbers! Lemme prove it to you!

So Abram was prostrate and god said, now you're name's Abraham, because I am totally gonna make good on this covenant thing. The masala was excellent! You will be the father of many nations, and you will be fruitful.

And Abraham nee Abram probably thought, well, I know *I'm* fruitful, it's Sarai that can't have kids. . .

God continued, saying, so this is our covenant, and I want it to be a promise that if I make good on this increasing of your numbers thing, all your descendants will also follow the covenant and have me as their god. You can have all of Canaan, even though there are other people living there now, you will eventually have it, and the whole land will have this covenant with me, and I will be their god.

What's the catch? Abraham is thinking.

God said, yes, so the covenant will be that you and all your male descendants and all the male people around you will be circumcised.

So . . .everyone? Even my servants? Even my slaves?

Yes. Every male that's around you at some point. If they aren't circumcised, you will have broken my covenant, and the uncircumcised guy needs to be cut off from all the circumcised ones, because he is officially not part of the club.

So you told me you'd make me fruitful, and that I would have many descendants, and made a covenant with me and we had some tasty masala. . . but now you say you won't do it unless I cut off my foreskin? How does your lord wish I should broach this subject with the males in my household that maybe don't even believe in you?

Oh, and Sarai, god continued, you shouldn't call her that anymore, she's Sarah now. Surely, I will give you a son by her. This time I'm totally for real. She will give birth to kings!

What, right away?

Kings I say! Yes! And Abraham began to laugh because god had waited a good while for this child thing: Abraham was now almost a hundred years old, and Sarah was 90! He looked up and said to god,

"If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!"

Which I found really sweet. I never knew Abraham cared one way or the other about his firstborn.

God told Abraham, don't worry, Ishmael will be fine. He won't be the one to carry on my covenant or anything, though: I'm reserving that for you and Sarah's kid, whom you should name Isaac, I like the ring of that. But Ishmael will be the father of many rulers. Twelve. Twelve is a good number, right?

So, this time next year, Sarah will bear you a son, and don't forget to call him Isaac and circumcise him at 8 days old, and don't forget to get all the males of your household to also get circumcised, I'm sure you know a guy that can do it.

So Abraham did as he was told, and he was 99 when he was circumcised, and Ishmael was 13, and they were both circumcised on the same day, as were all the males in his household, which the author wishes us to know included "those born in his household or bought from a foreigner."