Friday, September 3, 2010

Genesis 39-40: Joseph - servant/leader

So, before the random segue into the story of Judah, which seems fabricated specifically to make a point of how arbitrarily cruel God can be, Joseph had been sold and was being carted off to Egypt.

In Egypt, some guy named Potiphar bought Joseph, and he soon noticed that, "the LORD gave him success in everything he did," so Joseph was put in charge of the household, and "the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph."

He took his job very seriously, so seriously that he turned down the repeated and belligerent attempts of Potiphar's wife to sleep with him. Once she managed to grab is cloak as he was running away from her, and she showed it to Potiphar and told him that Joseph had tried to sleep with her (see, the cloak proves it!). Potiphar is dumb enough to fall for this and has Joseph put in jail, where he is somehow a prisoner and also in charge of all the other prisoners, because the wardens like him so much.

The royal cupbearer (cupbearer? lol.) and baker somehow "offended" the king, and they were thrown in jail. Joseph was put in charge of them. At some point, they both had dreams, and they were totally depressed because there was no one around to interpret them. Joseph says, "Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams."

So...interpretations belong to God, so only God can interpret your dreams. But, tell me your dreams, and I'll take a crack at interpreting them. Huh? That makes no sense...

Anyway, the cupbearer's (lol) dream was that there was a vine with 3 branches, and he took the grapes from them and squeezed the juice into the pharaoh's cup and gave it to him. The baker's dream was that he had 3 baskets of bread, but birds kept eating it.

Joseph, with his mighty god-like wisdom, told them the interpretations of their dreams...the cupbearer's dream meant that he would be let out of jail and reinstated as royal cupbearer in 3 days, while the baker's dream meant that the king was going to have him killed in 3 days. And of course, that's just what happened.

The cupbearer was supposed to try to get Joseph out of jail, but he forgot about him. Poor Joseph.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Genesis 37-38: Apparently, every sperm is sacred

So, after galavanting around for 20+ years, Jacob comes home and settles down (apparently for good) in Canaan, just like Isaac and Abraham.

Joseph was Jacob's favorite (you know he had a favorite, they all do). Jacob made a "richly ornamented" robe for Joseph (an amazing technicolor dreamcoat, perhaps?). Joseph's brothers are super jealous, and who can blame them.

Joseph has a couple of dreams that he shares with his family...a bunch of symbolism of Joseph ruling over the rest of them. This apparently pushes Joseph's brothers over the edge, and they decide to kill him (over a dream? really?). Reuben tries to convince his brothers not to kill Joseph, so while Reuben isn't looking, they sell Joseph to some handy passing Ishmaelites. They fake Joseph's death by putting blood on his amazing robe, and Jacob buys it.

Jacob is super upset...he "tore his clothes" and "mourned for many days." This is totally the most "depth" I've seen yet to any of these characters.

Meanwhile, Joseph is taken to Egypt and sold.

Chapter 38 is all about Jacob's son Judah. All sorts of quality arbitrary Godly judgement in this chapter!

Judah goes away from his family and marries a Canaanite woman.

Wait, he's not going to go find some cousin to marry? Oh yeah, Judah is not the favorite. I bet Joseph does some inbreeding later.

Judah has 3 sons...the first one is named Er. Best name ever. But awesome-name-kid was "wicked in the LORD's sight; so the LORD put him to death." Seriously. No rhyme or reason, that's all we get.

Apparently Er lived long enough to get married though, because Judah tells the second son Onan that he must sleep with Er's wife, Tamar, to make babies for his brother. But Onan doesn't want to make babies that "would not be his" (why wouldn't they be his?), so whenever he sleeps with Tamar he "spilled his semen on the ground." This apparently was also "wicked in the LORD's sight," and Onan dies too. Really, God, really? That's what you're going to care about? It's just so trivial! So inconsequential! I suppose "every sperm is sacred" is more true than I thought.

Judah tells Tamar to go and wait until his third son was old enough to knock her up, but he never lets his third son near seems Judah thought Tamar was bad luck. But no, Judah, no...God just hates your kids, for no apparent reason. Or for the stupidest reason I've ever heard of.

Many years later, Judah's wife dies, Judah mourns for a while, then he goes to get his sheep sheared, and I guess Tamar happened to be in that general area. Tamar is upset that she never got to marry (or just get knocked up by? I'm confused) the third son, so she dresses up like a prostitute and waits for Judah. Judah sleeps with her, not knowing who she is. Of course, she gets pregnant.

Side note... I've noticed a pattern of the bible making it sound like people regularly get knocked up after having sex only one time. I am of the impression that that is actually fairly unlikely... just seems a bit weird.

Anyway, after that, Judah is trying the find this prostitute so he can send her the goat he promised in payment, but he can't find her. So the matter is basically dropped.

A few months later, someone tells Judah, "Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution." And obviously, Judah's very first reaction is, "Have her burned to death!" But then he finds out it was he who slept with her, and he completely changes his tune to, "She is more righteous than I." What a fucking hypocrite.

So, Tamar does not get burned to death, and instead gives birth to twins. Now I wonder whether these are Judah's, or are they really Er's twins, since that's apparently how it works? Freakin' weird.

For some more random weirdness, during the birth of these twins, apparently one of them stuck a hand out, and then pulled it back in. Then the other baby came out first, and the one that stuck the hand out came second.

So...I'm really not an expert in the birthing process, but does this sort of thing EVER happen in reality? A hand coming out and then going back in? Really? What the fuck is all that about?

Is it supposed to be symbolic? If so, what could it possibly mean???

As usual, I am completely lost.