Behold Your Intellectually Challenged, Temperamental God

This is a confusing chapter because of the ambiguity about what form Jehovah takes: a human form or some other-planar deific form. At times, he seems to be above and beyond the human form, existing in the ether and conjuring planets and controlling affairs on Earth. Other times, he appears as he does here: Genesis 18 says that Jehovah appears to Abraham, then it says that Abraham sees three men. Is this a foreshadowing of the so-called tripartite God that will be established later, but about which nothing has been said at this point? Or is Jehovah just chillin’ with a couple of his bros, wandering around the promised land? It doesn’t make sense, and throughout the chapter, it gets tangled and confusing about whether God is one of these men, or all three of them, or a separate entity.

Whatever the case, Abraham has a markedly different reaction than he had on previous occasions of talking with Jehovah, when he did not seem particularly impressed. Here, he bows down and starts fussily telling his wife and slaves to start getting a meal ready. It’s unclear why the all-powerful Jehovah would need a snack for the road.

These mysterious three God-men sit down to nosh, and ask where Sarah is so they can tell her she’s going to get knocked up. Umm, why doesn’t the omniscient God know where Sarah is? Isn’t he supposed to know not only where everybody on Earth is, but what they are thinking, what will transpire for their entire existence, and so on? Seriously, what the fuck?

Sarah is eavesdropping on this conversation and laughs, thinking to herself that she’s way past childbearing years, and that Abraham is not exactly virile at this point either. Jehovah calls her on her skepticism, asking if anything is too wonderful for Jehovah, and then restates his prediction about Sarah bearing a child. Strangely, he doesn’t say that Jehovah will cause her to have a child, or help in any way. He just passively predicts it will happen, then asks if anything is too wonderful for God. It’s not a direct causation “God will give you a child.”

Then the story says “the men” rise to leave, implying that they are not God(s) after all, and Abraham goes to see them off. At this point, they are Jehovah(s) again, and Jehovah starts thinking aloud about whether or not he/they are going to hide what’s about to happen to Sodom and Gomorrah from Abraham. That’s right, super smart all-knowing God wonders ALOUD whether or not he should hide something from the guy who is walking next to him. Pause again, because really, honestly, this story is so fucking stupid it’s hard to read it. It’s like a mad-lib story that got passed around a fucking kindergarten classroom, with each little barely literate child with an undeveloped brain adding a sentence until what’s left is a mish-mashed pile of non sequiturs and internal conflicts. At least that story would have kittens, not bullshit about menopause.

Back to the stupid story. Possibly realizing that he just pulled the “oh shit, did I say that out loud” shtick, Jehovah divulges to Abraham that Sodom and Gomorrah are super evil (for no explicit reason), and that He is going to check if the rumors are true, so he can decide whether or not to destroy them completely. Again, why does almighty God have to go see if the rumors are accurate? Shouldn’t he know that? “The men” leave to go check, but Jehovah is still around somehow and he and Abraham start discussing this destruction fetish God has.

Abraham, to his credit, asks this God/Not God/Three People thing if he also “consumes righteous with wicked.” I imagine God shuffling his feet nervously and trying to avoid an answer to that question, which is a resounding yes. He asks whether God will spare the city if there are 50 righteous people in it. This is the first time someone in the Bible has said anything that can remotely be considered a moral or ethical principle. And it comes from a human, not God! Abraham says:

25 Far be it from Thee to do according to this thing, to put to death the righteous with the wicked; that it hath been — as the righteous so the wicked — far be it from Thee; doth the Judge of all the earth not do justice?’

This is a strange and disturbing role reversal. Without the intervention of a man, Almighty God would have perpetuated an extremely unjust mass slaughter. He was not even thinking about whether or not commit another indiscriminate genocide, he was only wondering whether or not he should conceal that from Abraham. The human has a more keen and developed moral sense than the creator! This reminds me of what I noted a couple chapters ago, about the humans in Babel banding together and developing a sense of community and cohesion, which the brutish kid-with-a-magnifying-glass God destroys in a hissy fit. The creation seems to be more thoughtful and refined than the creator. If God did exist, this would be profoundly disturbing. Thank the FSM that is not the case.

Jehovah doesn’t even seem to grasp what Abraham is saying, even after he points out the fundamental inequity of indiscriminate destruction. He says:

26 `If I find in Sodom fifty righteous in the midst of the city, then have I borne with all the place for their sake.’

You’re missing the point, you fucking imbecile. This is not a choice between “Kill everyone, including the wicked” or “Kill no one and leave the wicked to continue their wickedness.” If you are going to be a deity that destroys “wickedness,” which by the way YOU STILL HAVE NOT DEFINED, and which is a debatable principle to begin with, then destroy the wicked and leave the blameless in peace. This is a false dichotomy. You fucking idiot.

Abraham and Jehovah go through a series of de-escalations (maybe Abraham realizes he’s dealing with a temperamental jerk-off) “how about 45” “how about 40” and so on, until they’re down to ten. That’s as low as Jehovah is willing to go, apparently. He’s willing to kill ten innocents to punish the rest. God, probably shaking his head, pissed at himself for getting taken by the much better negotiator Abraham, hits the road, and Abraham heads home.

This is your God, people. How you think that this simple-minded, unjust, angry juvenile is worthy of belief, praise, and devotion is beyond me.

CHAPTER 18

1 And Jehovah appeareth unto him among the oaks of Mamre, and he is sitting at the opening of the tent, about the heat of the day;

and he lifteth up his eyes and looketh, and lo, three men standing by him, and he seeth, and runneth to meet them from the opening of the tent, and boweth himself towards the earth,

And he saith, `My Lord, if, I pray thee, I have found grace in thine eyes, do not, I pray thee, pass on from thy servant;

let, I pray thee, a little water be accepted, and wash your feet, and recline under the tree;

and I bring a piece of bread, and support ye your heart; afterwards pass on, for therefore have ye passed over unto your servant;’ and they say, `So mayest thou do as thou has spoken.’

And Abraham hasteth towards the tent, unto Sarah, and saith, `Hasten three measures of flour-meal, knead, and make cakes;’

and Abraham ran unto the herd, and taketh a son of the herd, tender and good, and giveth unto the young man, and he hasteth to prepare it;

and he taketh butter and milk, and the son of the herd which he hath prepared, and setteth before them; and he is standing by them under the tree, and they do eat.

And they say unto him, `Where [is] Sarah thy wife?’ and he saith, `Lo — in the tent;’

10 and he saith, `returning I return unto thee, about the time of life, and lo, to Sarah thy wife a son.’

11 And Sarah is hearkening at the opening of the tent, which is behind him;

12 and Abraham and Sarah [are] aged, entering into days — the way of women hath ceased to be to Sarah;

13 and Sarah laugheth in her heart, saying, `After I have waxed old I have had pleasure! — my lord also [is] old!’

14 And Jehovah saith unto Abraham, `Why [is] this? Sarah hath laughed, saying, Is it true really — I bear — and I am aged? Is any thing too wonderful for Jehovah? at the appointed time I return unto thee, about the time of life, and Sarah hath a son.’

15 And Sarah denieth, saying, `I did not laugh;’ for she hath been afraid; and He saith, `Nay, but thou didst laugh.’

16 And the men rise from thence, and look on the face of Sodom, and Abraham is going with them to send them away;

17 and Jehovah said, `Am I concealing from Abraham that which I am doing,

18 and Abraham certainly becometh a nation great and mighty, and blessed in him have been all nations of the earth?

19 for I have known him, that he commandeth his children, and his house after him (and they have kept the way of Jehovah), to do righteousness and judgment, that Jehovah may bring on Abraham that which He hath spoken concerning him.’

20 And Jehovah saith, `The cry of Sodom and Gomorrah — because great; and their sin — because exceeding grievous:

21 I go down now, and see whether according to its cry which is coming unto Me they have done completely — and if not — I know;’

22 and the men turn from thence, and go towards Sodom; and Abraham is yet standing before Jehovah.

23 And Abraham draweth nigh and saith, `Dost Thou also consume righteous with wicked?

24 peradventure there are fifty righteous in the midst of the city; dost Thou also consume, and not bear with the place for the sake of the fifty — the righteous who [are] in its midst?

25 Far be it from Thee to do according to this thing, to put to death the righteous with the wicked; that it hath been — as the righteous so the wicked — far be it from Thee; doth the Judge of all the earth not do justice?’

26 And Jehovah saith, `If I find in Sodom fifty righteous in the midst of the city, then have I borne with all the place for their sake.’

27 And Abraham answereth and saith, `Lo, I pray thee, I have willed to speak unto the Lord, and I — dust and ashes;

28 peradventure there are lacking five of the fifty righteous — dost Thou destroy for five the whole of the city?’ and He saith, `I destroy [it] not, if I find there forty and five.’

29 And he addeth again to speak unto Him and saith, `Peradventure there are found there forty?’ and He saith, `I do [it] not, because of the forty.’

30 And he saith, `Let it not be, I Pray thee, displeasing to the Lord, and I speak: peradventure there are found there thirty?’ and He saith, `I do [it] not, if I find there thirty.’

31 And he saith, `Lo, I pray thee, I have willed to speak unto the Lord: peradventure there are found there twenty?’ and He saith, `I do not destroy [it], because of the twenty.’

32 And he saith, `Let it not be, I pray Thee, displeasing to the Lord, and I speak only this time: peradventure there are found there ten?’ and He saith, `I do not destroy [it], because of the ten.’

33 And Jehovah goeth on, when He hath finished speaking unto Abraham, and Abraham hath turned back to his place.

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