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The Bible – Sod 'Em

The Destruction Of Sodom And Gomorrah, a paint...

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Genesis 19 is a fun little tale, full of reversals and surprises.  It begins with two angels going to visit Lot in Sodom.  Lot welcomes them in and offers a good foot washing and feeding session.  As is polite and in custom with receiving visitors.  Especially angels.  Shortly after they arrive, the local men turn up and demand that the angels be sent out that they may “know” them.  Hmm.  In fact, the men of Sodom surrounded the house – so the angels would have had a lot of knowledge!

However, Lot had a cunning plan.  A very cunning plan.  He offered his two virgin daughters.  That’s right, given the choice between allowing two strangers (who happened to be angels and well able to take care of themselves) to be gang raped and allowing his daughters to be gang raped, Lot felt that the lesser of two evils means giving up your daughters.  A wise plan, he could always make more daughters whereas angels are a finite resource.  Right? Read the rest of this entry

The Bible – Short Back and Sides

Isaac's Circumcision

Image by BecomingJewish.Org via Flickr

For the people who follow Judaism, Genesis 17 I would imagine is very important.  In this new chapter a lot happens.  God decides to rename a few people, probably to keep things consistent further on in the book.  Abram and Sarai get a great new makeover and emerge as Abraham and Sarah.  This happened while Abraham was 99 years old.  Obviously a late bloomer.  God also said that this time next year, Sarah will bear you a son and this guy will be important.  As an aside, the best thing about the OT is that the characters do tend to get a bit lippy with God.  Abraham says something like “seriously, a woman of 90 and a man of 100 will have a child”.  None of that silly unquestioning obedience here.

Oh yeah, and God said that every male over the age of 8 days should be circumcised.  And they were.  Ouch.  In exchange for the foreskin, Sarah gets to be a 90-year-old mother and Abraham a 100-year-old father.  You would have thought they’d be content with a restful old age, but they were obviously made of hardier stock back then.

Genesis 18 is mostly a bit of banter between God and Abraham and Sarah about the fact that Sarah is well beyond child-bearing age.  God says He will do it because he’s awesome, which seems fair enough.  Then God says he’s off to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah unless he can find 50 good people there.  Abraham argues again – this bit is pretty good actually – Abraham says “what if you only find 45, will you destroy the city for want of 5 people?”  God, being reasonable here, agrees that 45 is a good number and will spare the city if 45 good people can be found.  Actually, here’s the exchange, and I like it: Read the rest of this entry

The Bible – The Adventures of Abram

Hagar and Ishmael in the Wilderness

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We’re back and we get more Abram goodness.  Genesis 14 opens with a war (always a page turner).  Amraphel, King of Shinar; Arioch, King of Ellasar; Chedolaomer, King of Elam; and TIDAL KING OF NATIONS!!  (Sorry about the capslock issue there, I think a name like that just deserves them).  Anyway, it’s all a bit confusing, but it seems that one bunch of kings takes up arms against another bunch (including the King of Sodom and the King of Gomorrah) and there’s a war for 14 years.  During the war, allegiances change and in the end the Kings of Sodom and of Gomorrah fall and flee and their lands are invaded and sacked.  The spoils of war, as it were.  Anyway, Abram’s nephew Lot is taken hostage by the marauding army.  Lot also is known here as Abram’s brother; which is either a misprint, a mistranslation or an honorific – as in, the son of my brother is my brother.  So Abram gets his servants together and they harass the armies both day and night.  And all the kings give up and honour Abram and return Lot and all his stuff.

God returns to the tale in Genesis 15, when he tells Abram that He is his shield and protector and provider of rewards.  And now it gets a bit weird: Abram complains that he has no heirs.  So God says “…he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.”  Yes, that’s right “out of [Abram’s] own bowels”.  After a sacrifice of some animals and birds, God tells Abram that though his people will be servants, they shall have the land. Read the rest of this entry

The Bible – Short and Important Stories

Tower of Babel by Lucas Van Valckenborch in 1594

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11:7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.

For such a long book, I am often surprised to see that the things I learned as a child – and I thought these were the really important stories – are often really really short.  I recall having loads of lessons, back before I bothered reading it, where the telling took hours.  So, we begin Genesis 11 with the Tower of Babel.  Now, without looking, how long do you think this tale is?  Remember, it tells how early man spoke just one language (probably because all the multitudes had Noah as the common ancestor) and they all got together to build the highest tower ever made to go up and see heaven.  How long? (find out after the jump)

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The Bible – What Adam Did Next

Noahs Ark 12

Image by mharrsch via Flickr

But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

In the first part, we saw how God placed temptation in the way of Adam and Eve, and then punished them when they fell for it.  I think that this was the first “dick move” God perpetrated on mankind.  Over the coming books we will see how he refines this.

When I was at school, as soon as we knew the meaning of the word “knew” in the Bible, much hilarity ensued.  Especially if someone used the word innocently.  Simpler times.  Anyway, Genesis 4:1 Adam knows Eve and she has a son and they call him Cain.  He then knows her again and they have Abel.  Abel is a shepherd and Cain is a farmer.  They both work hard and present the Lord with their offerings: Abel gives a sheep because he is a sheep herder and Cain hands over the fruits of his work.  Two men giving honestly and without malice.  And the Lord, who apparently knows everything (including your inner most thoughts) goes absolutely crazy over Cain’s offering and, though I wasn’t there at the time, probably insults him.  Dick move number 2 really, if we only count the whole of the Garden of Eden story as one big dick move.  As God says:

4:6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?

4:7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. Read the rest of this entry

The Bible – Let's Begin

Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553): Adam and ...

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In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.

Bit of a secondary mission statement for these posts: I’m going to do some parts in a little detail and will skim over others.  As anyone who has read the Bible knows, lots of it is just filler; lists of people, lists of begettings and shopping lists for building things.  I have no desire to read them in detail and I’m sure you have no desire to read me reading them!  There is also going to be little rhyme or reason as to why I stop at different parts.

Genesis 1:1 starts with God doing his thing and putting together, well, everything.  So, he starts off by creating night and day.  Oddly though, since there is no world and the sun shines regardless, how would anyone know when sunset and sunrise occur?  Anyway, He then creates Heaven and everything underneath it.  Heaven and everything else appear to be separated by water.  By the end of the third day, we have a planet and lots of greenery. And then the very next day he creates stars and the sun and the moon – the sun is already a star, but He creates it separately.  The moon seems to get a star-like status too.  By Genesis 1:31 and the end of the sixth day it’s all done – sun, moon, stars, heaven, earth, greenery, animals and a man. Read the rest of this entry