Thursday, July 29, 2010

Genesis 41:1-57 (Joseph Handed Keys to the Kingdom)

Two years later, Joseph was still running the prison, and the Pharaoh had this weird dream where he was standing by the Nile watching seven fat cows come up out of the river. Then seven more cows, which were skinny and ugly, came out of the waters and ate the fat ones. Wha? Pharaoh woke up.

When he went back to sleep, he dreamt of seven heads of grain growing on a single stalk, healthy and fat. But seven other heads sprouted while he watched and 'swallowed up' the seven fat heads. You know, like the cows. Except I can't picture grain eating anything. When the Pharaoh woke from this dream he was troubled. Like me reading it.

The Pharaoh sent for all his 'magicians' and such, but they didn't know what the dream meant. Or the stories they came up with were lame.

Then the cupbearer remembered having his dream interpreted by the prison guy, Joseph, and told the Pharaoh about him. About how Joseph told the future. So the Pharaoh sent for Joseph.

When the Pharaoh asked Joseph if he could tell him what his dreams meant, Joseph said, no. But, he said, god will tell us. Which I think means yes.

So Pharaoh told Joseph his dreams and Joseph said, you will have seven years of plenty. And after that, you will have seven years of famine.

So symbols in the dreams of the cupbearer and baker stood for days, but in the Pharaoh's dream they stand for years. Check.

So Joseph counseled the Pharaoh to put someone in charge of taking a fifth of the harvest in the next seven years so that there would be enough to go around when the famine strikes. Put someone in charge, eh? And what middle-management guru do you think Joseph had in mind?

Pharaoh had nothing to lose by implementing the plan, and, of course, put Joseph in charge of everything immediately. Wow, this totally sounds like a true story. So the Pharaoh gave Joseph charge of all of Egypt, and even gave Joseph his signet ring, and got him a new wardrobe, and jewelry. He let him ride as second in command in his chariot and everything. All because of the dreams he had that Joseph seemed to know the meaning to.

The Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and married him to Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, who was a priest. Joseph was thirty years old.

During the years of plenty, Joseph got busy making children, and had two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.

When the famine hit, right on the money seven years later, Joseph opened the store houses and sold grain to everyone, and even other countries lined up to buy grain 'because the famine was severe in all the world.' The whole world. Right.

Now, there are fish stories, and then there are holy fish stories. The way this story is written. . . if you read it somewhere else you know you'd be suspicious. This is why I don't like the bible. People are supposed to turn off their bullshit detectors when they read it. Well, by golly, if it's the word of god you shouldn't have to.

I guess this is one of those stories--and it gets even fishier in the next chapter--that makes me want to say, 'pull the other one!'

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Genesis 40:1-23 (Joseph Tells the Future)

So while in jail, Joseph was put in charge of two guys that offended the Pharaoh. These were the cupbearer and the baker.

After they'd been there a while, they both had these weird dreams on the same night.

The next morning, Joseph noticed they were down in the dumps about something, and asked them about it. They both told them that they'd had dreams, but 'there is no one to interpret them.' So they thought the dreams meant something, and were wanting for psychic healing. Or something.

So Joseph told them, I'll give it a go. I'm sure my god will tell me what the dreams mean. Whether or not it would help the two prisoners was certainly up to debate.

The cupbearer's dream was as follows: he saw a vine with three branches, and they blossomed and became grapes, so the cupbearer squeezed the grapes into Pharaoh's cup and then put the cup in Pharaoh's hand. Hm. A grape juice dream. What would Freud say?

Joseph, not knowing about Freud, told the man that the dream meant good fortune. Within three days the Pharaoh would give him back his job. Joseph made sure to tell the cupbearer that when that all worked out, to remember him to the Pharaoh so he could get out of jail.

The baker told Joseph that his dream had him bearing three baskets of baked goods, and that the top basket was full of good things for the Pharaoh, but that birds were eating all of it. Hm. Sounds like Hitchcock.

Well, Joseph immediately saw that this dream had bad portents. He told the baker, sorry, but I think in three days you're going to be impaled. Or hanged in a tree. The interpretation of the dream (and the scripture) isn't clear. But death. That's clear.

And in three days, guess what? Yep, the interpretations of the dreams came true. Except that we aren't sure whether the baker was impaled or hanged. Either way, he was put to death, though, so I guess that's a 'hit' on the psychic scale.

The author wants us to know that the cupbearer did not remember Joseph to the Pharaoh.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Genesis 38:1-23 (Joseph becomes an Egyptian)

Okay, back on track with the Joseph story. Remember, the last time we saw him was when he was being carted away to Egypt, sold into slavery.

So Joseph was good at overseeing things, because that's apparently all his father let him do, so he found favour quickly with his new master, Potiphar. Potiphar put Joseph in charge of his household, which means he oversaw everything the guy owned. Which I assume means all the other slaves.

The author wants us to know that Potiphar so trusted Joseph that he didn't mind anything except what he ate. Okay.

So Joseph was a fine fellow, and soon enough Potiphar's wife decided to have sex with him. He was a slave, right? She owned him too.

But Joseph wasn't cool with it, because his master had not made it clear to him to take care of ALL the household duties, so he kept his distance.

But one day no one was around and she cornered him. She grabbed his cloak and tried to entice him, but he just took his cloak off and 'ran out of the house.'

So forensics being in the state it was, Joseph got screwed (not literally) again. Potiphar's wife used his cloak as evidence that he'd attempted to rape her. Potiphar believed her.

So Joseph got sent to prison, but unlike accused rapists of today, he had no hope of parole.

While he was in prison, the warden noticed that he was good at overseeing, so he put Joseph in charge of the prison. Wah? Yeah, Egypt was wanting for middle managment at that time.

The author attributes this 'good luck' to the lord, and how the lord mercifully gave Joseph success in all he did. Except. . .fleeing his murderous brothers and accusatory mistress. Otherwise. . . everything was gravy.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Genesis 37:1-30 (The promised girl turns tricks)

Judah, the guy that sold his brother into slavery, moved in with a guy living in Adullam named Hirah. He met this girl there, the daughter of Shua, and they got married. They had three sons, Er, Onan and Shelah.

So when Er got older (presumably), his father wed him to a nice girl named Tamar. But Er was 'wicked in the lord's sight; so the lord put him to death.' Yikes, that was quick. Wonder what he did.

Well, Judah had spent a lot on Tamar's dowry, I guess, so he figured he had to get SOMETHING for it. So he told his next oldest son, Onan, to go ahead and try to impregnate his sister-in-law.

This didn't seem right to Onan (how can we not sympathize with this guy?) so whenever his dad told him to go 'get her done' Onan spilled his semen on the ground instead. He was the first person in history to have committed Onanism. Hee hee.

Apparently even though Judah didn't know anything was amiss, god saw it and decided this was wicked, so he put Onan to death also.

At this point Judah wondered if his last son, Shelah, would also be put to death mysteriously. God is kinda like the mafia in this story.

So Judah told Tamar to live as a widow with her father, just until Shelah grew up and could. . . finish the merger. He suspected Shelah would die anyway, god seemed to have an itchy trigger finger lately.

Then Judah's wife died (still unnamed) and Judah mourned. After that, he went to go shear his sheep.

Tamar heard Judah was going to be in Timnah, shearing sheep, so she dressed like a prostitute and sat down on the road where Judah would be passing. She was pissed because Shelah had grown up but she wasn't his wife.

She was wearing a veil, which was how she looked like a prostitute, so when Judah saw her on the road he figured. . . you know. . .

She asked what price he would pay for her services, and he said, oh, I'll send you a young goat. She wanted some kind of pledge--apparently she wasn't an idiot. He agreed to give her his seal and its cord, and the staff in his hand. A lot of these descriptors seem sexual to me, but maybe it's the context.

Anyway, they agreed to it, and then had sex. She got pregnant.

So he wasn't cheating on his wife, because she had died. I'm glad the author made that clear.

Tamar went home and put her widow's clothes back on.

When Judah sent his friend with the goat to the place by the road where the 'prostitute' had been, there was no one to be found. When the guy asked around no one remembered there being anybody hooking in the area. Doh!

When Judah learned of this he kept it on the down-low. If people found out about the deal he'd made, he'd be a laughingstock!

But three months later Judah was told that his daughter-in-law was guilty of prostitution, and pregnant! Well, bring her out and BURN HER TO DEATH! was his reasonable reply.

But before Tamar was brought out, she sent the seal and cord and staff to her father-in-law with the message 'I'm pregnant by the owner of these.'

Check. Fucking. Mate.

Judah decided that Tamar was more righteous than he, since she only turned that trick because he wouldn't fulfill his promise to her.

Tamar gave birth to two boys. The first hand that popped out was tied with a scarlet thread, but the first child to come out was the other one, which surprised everyone. The stories in the bible about women giving birth to twins always creep me out. The sons' names were Perez and Zerah.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Genesis 37:1-36 (Joseph gets the shaft)

You remember Joseph, right? He was Rachel and Jacob's kid. Older brother to Ben-Oni, I mean Benjamin.

Well, when he was seventeen, he was his father's favourite. And just in case nobody knew he was the favourite, Jacob made him a 'richly ornamented robe' to wear around. I imagine the back is embroidered with the word 'favourite.' So Joseph was very stylish. And I didn't know Jacob could sew. But Joseph's brothers hated him. I'm sure they hated that robe even more.

Well, Joseph started to have these weird dreams. In one, the sheaf of grain that Joseph bound was bigger than those of his brothers. And the sheafs his brothers bound bowed down to his sheaf.

But then his mistake: he told his brothers about the dream. It pissed them off. Not only do you have that robe and walk around like you own the place, but now you think you're going to have us bow down to you?!? Jerk.

Then he had another dream. In this dream it was the moon, the sun, and eleven stars that bowed to him. Not sure how to picture that one. But he told his father about it and Jacob was pretty irritated. Great, I know you're my favourite, but do you think we're ALL going to just bow down to you? Jerk.

Then one day Joseph's brothers were out grazing the herds, and Jacob sent Joseph to oversee things. They were supposed to be in Shechem. When Joseph got to Shechem, no brothers or herds were there, and a guy saw him wandering around and asked if he could help him with anything. I'm surprised Joseph didn't get mugged wearing that robe everywhere.

Joseph asked the man about his brothers and the man reported that they were in Dothan now. So Joseph went there.

When his brothers spotted Joseph in the distance-that robe was a dead giveaway-they decided they'd had enough. He didn't come with them to help graze the flocks and now he's coming to check up on them? Jerk. They plotted to kill him.

Here comes our brother who dreams about being high and mighty. Let's kill him and throw him in this cistern. Then all that dreaming will be moot.

But Reuben was rather appalled by this plan. Dude, we don't have to kill him! Don't you think that's a little rash? Let's just throw him in the cistern unharmed, and. . . it'll be a good prank, dontcha think? (Reuben was planning on helping him out of the cistern later and taking him home.)

So they grabbed him and threw him in. Then they ate lunch. You know, like you do.

I imagine them eating and Joseph's reverb voice is calling to them from out of the cistern, come on guys this isn't funny. . . sorry about the dreams. . . come on, my robe's gonna get dirty. . . And them I picture his brothers laughing at him.

While they were eating, a caravan went by, loaded with goods to sell in Egypt. Judah had the idea that they could SELL their brother, and that way get rid of him without killing him. Everyone thought this was a boffo idea.

When the Midianite caravan drew near, Joseph's brothers sold him for twenty shekels of silver, and he was carted away. But they didn't sell his robe. Not sure why. Maybe they all took turns wearing it and saying, oh I'm Joseph! I had this dream that my brothers were gonna sell me into slavery! Ooooh!

Reuben went to fetch Joseph out of the cistern and found he was gone, and freaked out. What did you do?!?! Where is he?!?! You guys are gonna be in for it now!

But they had Joseph's robe, so they slaughtered a goat and bloodied the robe to 'prove' that Joseph had been attacked by a wild animal. Forensics hadn't been invented yet.

When they went home and showed Jacob the robe Jacob went into mourning and wept.

Meanwhile, Joseph was sold in Egypt to Potiphar, who was an official of the Paraoh and the captain of the guard.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Genesis 36:1-43 (The list of Esau)

Gads, another list chapter. Well, let's dive in.

Here is the account of Esau. You remember him, right?

He took three wives from the land of Canaan: Adah, daughter of a Hittite; Oholibamah, who was the granddaughter of a Hivite; and Basemath, who was Ishmael's daughter. Which makes her his aunt. Ew.

With Adah he had Eliphaz, and with Basemath he had Reuel. Oholibamah had Jeush, Jalam and Korah.

The author explains that Esau moved away from the land he and Jacob occupied because it would not support both of their families.

His son Eliphaz had five sons: Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam and Kenaz, as well as Amalek.

Reuel had sons named: Nahath, Zerah, Shammah and Mizzah.

All of Eliphaz's sons became chiefs, as well as Korah and Gatam.

All of Ruel's sons became chiefs.

All of Ohilibamah's sons became chiefs.

Then I cry uncle.

The author goes on to list the sons of Seir, the Horite, who lived in the same region as Esau after he moved away. Then the author decides we might as well know who Seir's grandsons are as well, and lists them for us. One of them, Anah, discovered some hotsprings. So. . . That's good, I guess.

The Horite chiefs are listed. Okay, good information.

Augh! Then we have to know the rulers of Edom?!? WHY?!?!? If an alien is reading the bible trying to follow it as the word of god, the first thing that must impress them is how METICULOUS god is!

The list of rulers reads like a 'shin bone connected to the knee bone' song. That gives me an idea.

At the start in the land of Edom
No Israelite king in sight,
Bela became the king and so
The people were saved from blight.

Then Bela died and Jobab reigned
and he liked hot goat stew.
Then Jobab died and Husham got
the scepter washed anew.

When Husham died, the people cried
for he threw happenin parties.
But Hadad stepped in everone soon
grew tired of his excessive farting.

Once Hadad died, Samlah stepped in
and ruled with iron breeeches.
When Samlah died, Shaul was king
until he bust his stitches.

When Shaul keeled over of
mysteriously, the people needed order.
So Baal-Hanan and his hyphened name
stepped in and got it sorted.

When Baal-Hanan
expired of flu, we come to the end of our tale.
Another Hadad sat down on the throne
and history follows his trail.

This is the story of Esau, his chiefs, and the Edomites. Now can we have a narrative?

Genesis Chapter 35 v.1-29

God conveniently told Jacob at this time that getting out of the area would be a good idea. You know, after the massacre and all.

Jacob was told to go to Bethel, and so he got his family together and told them to get rid of all their petty gods because they were going to go to a new place, presumably where god cared about such things. He made them all bathe and change their clothes, and give him their earrings (?) and they set out.

While they were on their way no one confronted them. The author assumes it is because of god, but I'm wondering if word had spread of Jacob's insane sons.

When they got there, Rebekah's nurse died and they buried her. Then god renamed Jacob, telling him that he would refer to him from now on as Israel.

Then the usual: you will be king, kings will come from your body, blah blah blah, I will give you the land I gave Abraham and Isaac, blah blah blah. Jacob-oops, Israel-built a stone pillar in the place where all this happened.

Then they all left, I guess to go set up shop in the land that god promised Israel. On the trip away from Bethel, Rachel died in childbirth, and named the son she had Ben-Oni before she expired. But Jacob named the child Benjamin anyway.

So Rachel was buried and they continued their trip.

While stopping to rest, Reuben slept with his father's concubine. The author doesn't seem to care which one. Or why.

Then we get a neat list of all of Jacob's sons. I will not bother re-listing them here.

When Israel finally returned home, his father Isaac died, at the ripe age of 180. Why does the bible constantly shoot down hopes of credibility with these insane life spans? Must be part of the mystery of god.

Esau and Israel ne Jacob buried their father.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Genesis Chapter 34 v.1-31

Here's a heartwarming tale:

Dinah was Jacob and Leah's daughter. When he settled down in Succoth to avoid following his brother home, Dinah went out to make friends with the women of the town there. While she was wandering around, presumably unescorted, she was raped by the son of the ruler of that area, Shechem (son of Hamor). Also, he spoke tenderly to her. I dunno.

Well, that sucks. What sucks worse, perhaps, is that Shechem then asked his father if he could keep her. As his wife.

When Jacob first heard about this he kept quiet, because his sons were in the fields. I don't understand that ancient logic, but okay.

Hamor visited Jacob to ask after Dinah. Jacob's sons must've heard the news because they came in during the meeting all pissed off.

But Hamor tried to make the whole thing sound palatable. "Look, just give my son your daughter, and you can take our daughters for your sons, and we'll live as one people."

Shechem even told Jacob to name his dowry. Anything at all to smooth things over. As long as he could marry Dinah.

The sons of Jacob named their price: circumcision. Yikes. But Shechem and his father Hamor agreed. And then they agreed to ask everyone in the town to submit. And the men all agreed. For the sake of peace, one assumes.

But Jacob's sons were bastards just like their father.

Three days after the circumcision, while the men were still recovering, Levi and Simeon slaughtered every male in the town, looted all the houses, and took their sister back.

Jacob scolded them by telling them they'd made quite a stink in the land. Also, if those people joined forces and attacked, they'd all be killed.

His sons replied: That's what they get for treating our sister like a prostitute.

I don't really have any commentary on this story. I think it speaks for itself.

Genesis Chapter 33 v. 1-20

Jacob looked up and saw his brother Esau, followed by his four hundred men. AH! Strategy first, though.

He divided his children and women in order of importance--like, who he didn't minded killed--namely, he put his maidservants and their children in front, then Leah and her children, and lastly, Rachel and Joseph. You know, just in case his brother's wrath broke through the line.

Then he went ahead of them and greeted his brother with as many bows as he could muster, saying obsequious things like, 'my lord' and 'my master' and 'my, how god-like you look in the morning light!'

But of course Esau, having grown older and wiser and perhaps put away his childish want for vengance, rushed forward and hugged his conniving brother tearfully and they both wept (one with relief, I'm sure).

Then came the family introductions. Every time Jacob introduces somebody he throws in a 'my lord' or 'your servant: me' for good measure. Then Esau wants to know why Jacob sent all those people and animals on ahead of him. Jacob tells his brother they're a gift, and after some convincing, Esau accepts them as such. Everyone is trying to outdo everyone else in niceness. I hate family reunions.

Come on then, says Esau, let's go. I'll accompany you.

But Jacob refuses. His excuse is that if he pushes the newborn animals of his flock too hard, they'll die. Also, he wants to go at the pace of his children. This must've puzzled Esau as much as it did me. But in the end Jacob's brother leaves with his legions.

So Jacob didn't trust Esau after all. That's the conclusion I draw from this. And god told him it would be all right, and surely his brother's welcome was proof of this, but Jacob hedged his bets. I think Jacob is one of those people who's always trying to pull something, and so expects everyone else to be doing the same thing. He's a con artist.

Anyway, he didn't even follow Esau. He set up camp nearby and bought some land and stayed put. He even set up an altar.