Joseph‘s story continues… Ten of his eleven brothers travel to Egypt to buy food to get them through the famine. Incidentally, something has occurred to me: in the tales of Joseph, God seems to be more bothered by getting Joseph into a position of power than in either preventing/alleviating the famine or in making the Israelites get through the famine. If Israel is the chosen land, why on earth are they the ones who have to go begging? If I chose a land, I’d make damn sure that they had enough to eat; were free from ills and didn’t get invaded once a week. If God is all-powerful and all-knowing, why not skip to the end and give Israel everything that they need? Anyway…
Joseph recognises his brothers and pretends not to. It’s not enough for him to crow over them, he wants to really lord it over them. So he jails them and sends one back to get the brother. No he doesn’t, he lets all but one go and they have to bring the youngest brother, Benjamin, back with them. Seriously – chapter 42 lets us see every discarded plan. So, when the 9 brothers return home, they realise that they have been sent home with all the grain they bought and the money they bought it with – this sends the family into a panic because it looks as though they have cheated Egypt. Reading through this chapter, by the way, I get the impression that the brothers have done some growing up and realised that they what they did was wrong, but they are tied up in the story they told when they sold Joseph. Joseph however has not moved on – he has wealth, power, respect and a new family and yet he still wants to make sure his brothers suffer. Joseph is meant to be something of a role model, by the way. As are Doctor Doom, Doctor Octopus, Lex Luthor, and I think you get my point. Anyway, Benjamin is not sent to Egypt, their father decides to hold him back in case he is captured or killed and makes the father unhappy. And the brother who is supposedly in jail? He’s still there.
Upshot is, they return to Egypt, with Benjamin, and more money and gifts for Joseph. And lo, they have a meal.
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At this point, the Bible pauses to enact a musical written by Saint Andrew, Saint Lloyd and the Hermit Webber. what Chapter 37 tells us most assuredly is that teenagers have no idea of tact or diplomacy and leaves us wondering how any of us made it through without being murdered. Yes, it’s the story of Joseph (and possibly a multi-coloured external garment).
Jacob and family have moved to Canaan, where they were not known. Joseph as we know from the tale, was the youngest and most favoured of all Jacob’s 12 sons. And his brothers were most put out about this. Joseph had a dream; in the dream there were 12 sheaves of wheat and one of the sheaves stood up straight and the other 11 were bowed down to it. The upright sheaf was owned by Joseph, in case you needed that extra detail. Now, Joseph was not a bright lad – his brothers were already grumbling about dream number one – because he tells them about a second dream in which the sun, moon and (eleven) stars were bowing to him. Side project for my loyal readers: if you have siblings, go to them and tell them that they will bow down to you because you will be above them all. Now describe your injuries.
I bet you thought that we were done with people being dicks with each other, didn’t you? Well we’re not. Chapter 34 of Genesis is the tale of what happens when you defile one of Jacob’s relatives. And there’s a twist and some foreshadowing which really reinforces that the Bible needs a better editor.
Jacob’s daughter Dinah goes out for a walk on her own. She was seen by Shechem and he decided that he wanted her. He did this in the traditional way – by raping her and then by going to his father and asking if he can arrange a marriage. The father thinks that this is a great idea and goes to Jacob to ask his permission for the two to marry. He really goes to beg for their to be no quarrel between them and says that if this can happen then Jacob’s tribe and his tribe can inter-marry and all will be well.
Jacob’s sons hear this
7And the sons of Jacob came out of the field when they heard it: and the men were grieved, and they were very wroth, because he had wrought folly in Israel in lying with Jacob’s daughter: which thing ought not to be done.
Last time, I let slip that Jacob was off to Haran. And that is exactly what happened. Jacob drops by and falls instantly in love with Rachel, the daughter of his mother’s brother, and offers to work for his uncle for 7 years so that he can marry his first cousin. Apparently that sort of thing was less frowned on back then. On the day of his wedding, his uncle gives Jacob Leah (the elder cousin) as his bride because, as “…Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn.” (Genesis 29, v. 26). So Jacob offers to work for an extra week so that he can have Rachel as well. Oh, and he signs up for another 7 years. So 14 years and 1 week gets you two brides.
As she was his first choice, Jacob loves Rachel more than Leah. The Bible says that Leah was despised. So Rachel is made barren by God and Leah bears 4 sons, because God wants that – neither woman is at fault, it’s all Jacob’s and his Uncle’s doing, but one woman gets punished. All perfectly fair.
Genesis 30, verses 1 -13 are quite simply a child bearing competition. In the red ring, we see Rachel: totally barren but happy to give her handmaid to her husband so the handmaid can bear children that Rachel can claim as her own. In the blue ring, we see Leah: already given birth 4 times and now newly barren, also willing to offer up her handmaid so that children can happen. I declare Leah the winner: both handmaids bear 2 sons each, but Leah started off with 4, so 6 sons in total against Rachel’s 2.
One of the main problems I have with the Bible is how much it jumps around. Think of a decent book you have read – fiction or not – and unless the book is something experimental, it will have a beginning, middle and end. Each will tie together and all the things the author wants you to know will be linked and easy to follow. I don’t regularly read the Bible and so, as it has been a month since I last posted on this, I had no idea what was going on in Chapter 26. Esau and Jacob do not feature for a big chunk of it. Now, if you recall, Jacob has just forced Esau to give up his birthright. So, in a normal book, the next chapter would deal with this or with the aftermath – right?
Chapter 26. Back to Isaac. Firstly, there is another famine and so Isaac goes to see King Abimelech in Gerar – Abimelech is King of the Philistines. Which does not mean that he likes Thomas Kincaid paintings; the people the Philistines. Now for the lack of logical order. If we follow the writing, Isaac decides to go to Gerar and then God tells him not to go to Egypt, but to go to Gerar. The first verse may be an introduction and the rest put in to explain the reason, but the writing is poor. Following God’s order (go to Gerar, live there and I’ll make you rich and powerful), Isaac moves to Gerar. He follows the example laid down by the supreme Pimp Daddy, Abraham, and tells everyone that his wife Rebekah is in fact his sister. Read the rest of this entry
Genesis 21 tells of the birth of Isaac and the bitchiness of Sarah. While Sarah wasn’t bearing children (maybe as a result of being continually pimped out by Abraham?), she was happy for a servant called Hagar to bear the heir. The second that Isaac is born, Sarah gets rid of Hagar and child. Clearly Sarah was convinced that Isaac wouldn’t fall prey to any of the usual problems that killed children back then.
The chapter is a little confusing though – Hagar and nameless child go out to a place called Beersheba, where Hagar runs out of water and leaves her son to die. God comes by and says “heres a well, have a drink. By the way, I’ll make your son a king”. No real issue, that sort of thing appears to have been common back then. But, towards the end of the chapter, Abraham is doing something holy and decides to call the place he is at Beersheba. Why do these people insist on making it difficult for the postman?
I’m not going to go into chapter 22. It’s the story where God tells Abraham to kill Isaac and Abraham (the robot) does as he’s asked. Clearly the date was April 1st, because God tells Abraham that it was a trick to see if he was loyal and they swap Isaac for a ram and they all live happily ever after. Actually, that last bit was bullshit – this is the Bible and no one lives happily ever after. Read the rest of this entry