Monday, November 29, 2010

Genesis 48: 1-22 (Israel Blesses the Wrong Child)

Joseph was told some time later that his father was sick. Joseph took his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, to go see Israel and secure a blessing.

When they got there, Israel decided to regail them with a story.

When I was in Luz, god told me, right to my face he did, that he was going to make me a great nation, and that all my decendents would have that land forever and ever.

Then Israel went on to explain to Joseph that his two boys belonged to him, Israel. Any children born after these two, who cares. Also, you know that Rachel died near Ephrath? We buried her there.

I'm sure Joseph smiled and nodded, yes, I remember, she was my mother.

Jacob pushed his two sons into his father's kisses and embraces, while the old man told him he never expected to see him again, and now here were his children.

The time came for the blessing, but try as he might, Joseph couldn't convince his father to bless them in the proper order. Israel put his right hand on the younger boy, Ephraim's, head. He continued with the blessing, with his arms crossed so he could give the younger boy his full favour. Or something.

Here's the blessing. Ahem.

May the god that led us into famine, and delivered us out of it by enslaving one of my sons, may the angel that delivered me from the wrath of the father of my wives after I stole all his stuff--the same almighty that made sure the Pharoah and Abimelech found favour with the wives of my people, may he bless these two boys here, in the wrong order, just as I claimed my birthright from its rightful owner, my older brother, from whose justified wrath god also delivered me. Let god increase their numbers by increasing their allowable wives, and increase their wealth by allowing said wives to whore. Amen.

Okay, I changed a bit.

Joseph protested, you know, Manasseh is firstborn, father, he should get the right hand blessing. Also your blessing has made him cry. Israel told his son he knew what he was doing, and that the younger brother would rule the older one, just like his grandfather.

Israel made Joseph promise (again, presumably) to bury him in his hometown that god gave him, and he sweetened the pot by promising him one more ridge of land there, the one he took from the Amorites.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Genesis 47: 1-31 (Joseph Eslaves all of Egypt)

Joseph presented most of his family to his boss, the Pharaoh. The Pharaoh asked the usual questions, how do you do, what's your occupation? Joseph's family replied that they were all shepherds, like their fathers before them.

The Pharaoh gave them the land of Goshen, and told Joseph that if any among them was particularly good with animals, that they could be in charge of the Pharaoh's flocks.

Jacob blessed the Pharaoh, and the Pharaoh asked how old he was. Jacob told the credulous Pharaoh that he was 130 years old. The Pharaoh replied, oh how nice for you, and was blessed again before dismissing the sheepy family.

This is how Joseph was able to provide for his family in the terrible famine.

Meanwhile, Joseph was still in charge of the grain stores. There was no food, so people came and bought it from Joseph from around the whole region, with money. Then the money ran out and they wanted it for free. Joseph told them his would sell them food in exchange for their livestock. So people from all around brought livestock to buy food.

Then they ran out of livestock. Hm. What to do. I know!

Joseph told the people who came for food but had nothing in exchange that he would give them food if they pledged their lands and their SELVES to the Pharaoh. Okay, I am not being true to the account I'm reading. Let me back up.

It was all the PEOPLE's idea. Yeah, that's it. The people came to Joseph and begged to become slaves so that they could get food from the Pharaoh. So Joseph made them all slaves and took their lands. He told them that they owed the Pharaoh one-fifth (20 percent) of their crop the next time, and all times after, they reaped.

The priests were given grain anyway, they didn't need to sell anything to get their share.

So this is how Joseph put into practice a law the bible says is still in effect today: that 20% of all the harvests in Egypt go to the Pharaoh. Which is true to this day.

Joseph's family was spared slavery due to their connections, and they prospered in the land of Goshen.

Jacob (Israel) lived some 147 years in total, and when he was about to die, he made Joseph promise to bury him back in his homeland with his fathers and ancestors. Joseph agreed.

Genesis 45: 1-28 (Who was that eye-linered man?)

Joseph reached a point where he couldn't continue the ruse anymore. He sent everyone but his brothers out andn then told them all that he was their Joseph, whom they sold into slavery as a joke all those years ago.

Apparently he wept so loudly people could hear him down the street.

His brothers were terrified. Not relieved. I don't think the weeping helped.

He brought them all close to him, and told them not to be afraid because it was all for the best that he was sold into slavery, that god let his brothers sell Joseph so that he could help Egypt during the famine. The famine only the Pharoah's dream prophesied. So god was also sending dreams to people who didn't believe in him. Which confuses me, but whatever.

Joseph told his brothers to hurry back to Israel, their father, and tell him to relocate nearer Egypt, in a place called Goshen. Bring the whole family, and I will be able to provide for you, since I'm sort of the head honcho down here now.

They all sat and talked and hugged each other and wept. The end. Wait.

The Pharoah heard that Joseph's brothers were all there, so he sent word that he would give them the best lands in Egypt to live on, so they could 'enjoy the fat of the land.' Which was currently in famine.

The brothers took many gifts (livestock and new clothes) back with them to their home and told their father that his son Joseph was really alive and that he was living in Egypt.

Really? So why did you say you watched his entrails eaten by a bear?

Oh that?. . . uuuuhhhh. . . . well... anyway! Joseph wants to see you right away! He's like the ruler down there now!

Israel (also referred to in the same paragraph as Jacob) agreed to go and see his long-lost, bear-eaten son who made a name for himself wearing skirts and make-up in the land of the Nile.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Genesis 44: 1-34 (Benjamin Is Framed)

The brothers were all set to leave the next morning, to take the grain from Egypt back to their home.

Joseph told his steward to fill their sacks with grain and silver, and also to put his super-special divining cup in Benjamin's sack tee-hee-hee. What a good joke. Fill those miscreants with terror just one last time.

Then the brothers set off on the road home, probably with a big 'whew!' before they saw Joseph's steward running toward them, shouting.

The steward told them that they had obviously made off with his master's special divination chalice, made of silver, and that it was a naughty thing they'd done indeed.

The brothers protested, not remembering having stolen anything, and they told the steward that if he could find the cup in their bags, the owner of the bag would have to be put to death and the rest of them would become slaves.

The steward told them that was a bit drastic: the person who took the cup would become a slave, but the rest of them could go free.

Then the steward found the cup in Benjamin's bag. Doh!

Now, this would be a pretty good joke if I didn't imagine the brothers' faces going completely white at the sight of the cup. They're bastards, but I have to sort of feel sorry for them. They were obviously being tortured at this point.

They all trundled back to the city and threw themselves at Joseph's feet.

Joseph scolded them for taking the cup, saying, didn't you know I could divine things? I suppose he meant even without his super-special divination cup.

The brothers told him they were all his slaves now.

Joseph told them to go home, only the one that took the cup was to be his slave.

I'm sure the brothers felt staying in Egypt as a slave was going to be better than what awaited them at home. Judah tried to intercede.

Judah explained, tediously, the entire story to Joseph, including the things Joseph himself had said. Judah told Joseph that it was hard to part Benjamin from his father because of their attachment, and that if they returned without Benjamin, their father would surely die.

Because Judah was the one that vouched to his father for Benjamin's safety, he asked Joseph to take him as a slave instead of his brother.

This is a rather noble thing, I must say. Good job, Judah.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Genesis 43: 1-34 (Back to Egypt)

After having apparently forgotten about the brother they'd left behind in Egypt, the grain stores ran dry and Israel (Jacob) wanted his sons to go back to Egypt to buy more. They were not excited about this.

They begged their father to let them take Benjamin with them, so that that mysterious Egyptian grain-seller wouldn't, you know, kill them. In this part of the story the threat they mention has only to do with being unable to buy grain if they did not show up with Benjamin.

Israel, told them to take lots of bribes with them, and the silver that had been returned in the grain sacks, plus enough silver to buy more grain. And Benjamin tagged along.

When Joseph saw they had come back, he told his steward to prepare a feast for them all so they could eat together in his home.

When Joseph's steward showed the brothers into the house they got paranoid that it was all some sham meant to lull them into a false sense of security. Surely that creepy Egyptian was going to jump them!

They asked the steward about it, telling the man that they had all the silver that was mistakenly put back in their bags with them, that they were gonna give it back, honest! But the steward told them they were being paranoid and then he brought Simeon out to them.

Oh, so Simeon was the one they'd left behind. Well, I'm sure he was happy to see his brothers. The bastards.

They were given water to wash and their animals were put up, and the brothers bustled around getting all their bribes ready so that the creepy Egyptian would sell them grain and not hurt Benjamin.

When Joseph arrived for the meal, his brothers drowned themselves in obsequiousness, showering him with their bribes and prostrating themselves before him. They really laid it on thick.

Joseph asked about his father and they replied that he was well, and then Joseph spotted Benjamin, his little brother, the baby that his own mother died delivering. Oh, is this the youngest brother, you've brought him with you?

Joseph abruptly left the room to go weep somewhere. When he came back they ate.

But not together. Each group had its own table and was served separately. And Joseph made sure that, even though the youngest, Benjamin was served the most food.