Monday, July 12, 2010

Genesis 23-25: Put your hand under my thigh

Sarah dies at 127. Abraham spends about 1/2 of a sentence mourning his dead wife, and the entire rest of chapter 23 haggling for the price of burying her. To summarize, they try to let him bury her for free, but he begs to pay.

Next comes my new favorite bible verse, Genesis 24:2: "He said to the chief servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, 'Put your hand under my thigh.'" Yes, apparently the way you swear something in the bible is by putting your hand under someone's thigh. Hilarous.

Abraham asks the servant to go to his (Abraham's) family to find a wife for Isaac. Seriously, why with the rampant inbreeding, bible? Adam and Eve, Cain and whoever, Lot and his daughters, Sarah is Abraham's half sister (chapter 20), and now this.

Anyway, the servant sets off (with some other people...more servants possibly) for Abraham's family. He sits by a spring and makes this promise with himself (or God, I suppose) that the first marriageable girl who waters all of his camels will be the one who is supposed to be Isaac's wife.

So along comes Rebekah (Isaac's 2nd cousin...oh the rampant biblical inbreeding), and she waters the camels, and she's a virgin!!! The servant asks to stay at her house, and gives her a nose ring (what?).

They get to Rebekah's house, do a bunch of stuff like feed the camels and wash their feet, then when they try to give them food, Abraham's servant is like (paraphrasing), "There's no time for food! I have important stuff to say!" Why didn't he say it before they did all that other stuff, who knows.

So he explains his mission, and his little deal with God at the spring, and how Rebekah is therefore meant to marry Isaac. And he explains it in excruciating's like reading the entire chapter again.

Rebekah's family agrees that she should marry Isaac (Rebekah has shockingly little say in this, other than to agree to go right away instead of 10 days later), and she and the servants go back. As soon as they get back, she and Isaac apparently do it in his dead mother's tent. Err...kinky? No, that is just weird. So far the bible seems to really be all for (what some might consider) "sexual deviancy"...the inbreeding, the daughters basically raping Lot, now this bit of weirdness.

Abraham remarried after Sarah's death, and had 6 more kids. But Isaac is still the favorite...Abraham sent the other 6 away (with gifts!), and he left everything to Isaac when he died. Isaac is still God's favorite too, he's the only one who gets "blessed." The bible also refers to Hagar and this new wife as "concubines," which is just weird. I guess it just illustrates even further that Isaac is the favorite.

Anyway, Abraham dies and is buried with Sarah.

There is also a little blurb about Ishmael. It lists his 12 children, and says they are each tribe leaders (The 12 tribes of Israel? I've heard that phrase before, but I still don't know what it means).

There's considerably more about Isaac (he's the favorite!). Rebekah is barren...of course she is, I swear every woman in the bible is barren. Maybe if they'd knock off the inbreeding. Isaac prays to God, and lo and behold, a miracle! Rebekah gets pregnant with twins.

Apparently the kids were fighting in her uterus (ouch...), and God told her basically that they were going to fight all their lives. That just sounds strange, and unpleasant.

Anyway, the slightly older one was a hairy baby (Literally, hairy all over...WTF. Knock off that inbreeding, seriously, then maybe you won't have barren goat babies.) named Esau, and the younger one was Jacob (not hairy). Isaac liked Esau best (because Esau could hunt and Isaac liked meat...OK...), Rebekah liked Jacob best.

Then there's a random little story about how Esau "sold" Jacob his birthright for bean stew. I really don't know why these random, inconsequential moments are given such weight in the bible.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Genesis 20-22: Isaac is born, God tests Abraham

Abraham moved to someplace called Gerar, where he and Sarah worked the same con as before...they pretend to be siblings, and the king takes her (apparently as a concubine or something, since he's already married). God comes along as tells the king, (paraphrasing) "Sarah is actually married, and even though you couldn't possibly have known about it, I'm going to kill you and everyone else here." Good old God. This stuff is getting downright predictable.

The king actually sticks up for himself...good for him. He makes the point that he couldn't have possibly known she was married because he was lied to, and that he hadn't even touched Sarah yet anyway. God says, yeah you haven't touched her because of me. You return her, or you'll all die. That's friendly.

So the king gives Sarah back to Abraham, and he gives him a bunch of animals, slaves, and money, and lets him live anywhere in his land.

This is also the first time Abraham is referred to as a prophet.

Sarah got pregnant and had a son...they named him Isaac and circumcised him, aww.

After Isaac was born, Sarah wanted to have Hagar and Ishmael sent away, apparently so Isaac won't have to compete with Ishmael. Abraham didn't really want to do that, but God (what a dick) thought it was a fine idea, so that's what they did.

After wandering around in the desert for a while, Hagar and Ishmael run out of food and water, and it makes it sound like they are just about dead before an angel comes by and encourages them, and then God made Hagar notice a well that was right there. I think saying, "hey, look at that well over there," is the nicest thing God has done so far (never mind that God wanted them sent away in the first place). So Ishmael grew up in the desert, became an archer, and married some chick is mom found in Egypt. Alright then.

Meanwhile, that King that Abraham and Sarah conned out of a bunch of stuff, and who's land they are living in, asks them to swear that they will play nice, which they do.

Then Abraham asks the King to return a well that he (Abraham) dug, that the king's men had captured. The king says, I don't know what you're talking about, but OK. Abraham plants a tree to commemorate this apparently very important occasion.

Next is one of my favorite heart-warming stories...God tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham, the sucker, falls for it. Abraham and Isaac start hiking up this mountain, with wood for a sacrifice. Isaac asks his father where the lamb is (what a thinker), and Abraham says "God will provide." They get to the place, and Abraham has tied up Isaac and is on the verge of killing him, when an angel comes along and says (paraphrasing), "Stop that." So Abraham sacrifices a handy ram that happens to wander by. Then the angel comes back and says (paraphrasing), "Now that I know you really fear me, I'll be sure to do all that stuff I keep going on about (numerous descendants, land, etc)."

So, God ups the ante on this covenant again. It's not enough that they have to be enslaved for 400 years, or that to prove their loyalty they have to chop a bit of their penis off, now Abraham has to further prove how faithful he is by being willing to kill is son. Seriously...let it never be said that God doesn't test people.

How insecure must God be to need this much reassurance that his people really, truly fear him?