Day of a Thousand Dongs

When I cheated and sneaked a peek at the NIV version of this chapter, which titles every story for some reason, I snickered like an eighth grader:

The Covenant of Circumcision

Because all of the other covenants were so well-thought out and reliable, it’s time to put some dong-skin on the table, to really show that you mean business.

This is yet another covenant with Abram, who is now a ripe ninety nine years old, and on his third covenant with God. Jehovah appears to Abram and tells him to “walk habitually before Me, and be thou perfect.” God really seems to be having difficulty figuring out what are reasonable expectations for humanity. First, in the Garden of Eden, he creates humans with no wisdom, no knowledge, and without the ability to tell right from wrong, and then curses them for the rest of time for “choosing” to do something “wrong.” Then, he destroys most of creation in a flood for some sort of nebulous and ambiguous terminal sin. Now, he insists that Abram be perfect, without any guidance for what perfection would mean to this schizophrenic and vindictive deity.

At this point in the Bible, God still has not established any cohesive set of values, or definitions of “good” and “evil.” If perfection means doing everything God says to do, then the fact that God wiped out the Earth for some sort of sexual perversion after telling them to “be fruitful and multiply” without any caveat would be unjust. You would hope for some more specific guidelines if we are being judged on compliance with Authoritarian God edicts. Human beings are not only faulted for inhabiting this grey area created by God’s failure to define his terms, but wiped off the face of the Earth.

Also, it also seems like he doesn’t  really want perfection. When humans start behaving too well, he resents that they don’t need him anymore and flies into a rage and scatters them across the Earth. And why would you imbue humans with free will and judge them based on their choices, but then expect mindless adherence to bizarre principles you imposes on them? Does God want militant, obedient drones or thoughtful moral beings? At this point, it looks like he has no idea, but he’s going through a trial and error process of figuring it out, with horrible consequences for humanity for his experiments. For a being that is supposed to be omniscient, and who created humans, he seems to have no idea whatsoever what to expect from them or demand of them. He is a giant, furious, cosmic version of the girlfriend who is mad at you, but won’t tell you what you did wrong. Instead of the silent treatment, though, he’ll commit mass murder. Terrifying.

Back to the text:

God tells Abram to be perfect, and then changes his name to “Abraham,” allegedly because he has made him “father of a multitude of nations” even though God gave him a barren wife, and he only has one child at this point (although he has a shitload of slaves). God continuously reminds Abraham how wealthy he has made him, again making God’s principles very bizarre. Enduring wealth seems to be the only principle espoused in these covenants.

Then it gets weird again.

I mentioned previously that there doesn’t seem to be anything specific required of Abram as his part of the covenant. There seem to be rather severe expectations, and harsh consequences, but they are not set out in any of the covenants. It’s basically a requirement of “perfection” with no guidance on what that seemingly objective standard encompasses. The only substantive thing that God required in the last covenant was a sacrifice of several animals. This time it’s the foreskin of every male that follow Abra[ha]m:

10 this [is] My covenant which ye keep between Me and you, and thy seed after thee: Every male of you [is] to be circumcised;

11 and ye have circumcised the flesh of your foreskin, and it hath become a token of a covenant between Me and you.

Oh, and they have to circumcise their slaves too. These are truly laudable morals. Be perfect. Cut off your penis skin. Cut off your slaves’ penis skin. Anyone who does not chop his dong is in breach of his contract with God, and is to be exiled from his people. How is that supposed to provide the foundation for a health deity-adherent relationship? So strange.

Anyway, God changes Sarai’s name to Sarah, then says that she will give birth to a son, Isaac. Abraham laughs at God for this, but God doesn’t get angry (so disbelieving and mocking God doesn’t seem to be a problem in his objective morality). Surprise, surprise, Isaac will also be a father of nations and all that shit.

Immediately after God takes off, Abraham gets down to business and circumcises every male in his house, which means, if the stories about his wealth are true, he must have handled about a thousand weiners that day. Gross.

CHAPTER 17  

1 And Abram is a son of ninety and nine years, and Jehovah appeareth unto Abram, and saith unto him, `I [am] God Almighty, walk habitually before Me, and be thou perfect;

and I give My covenant between Me and thee, and multiply thee very exceedingly.’

And Abram falleth upon his face, and God speaketh with him, saying,

`I — lo, My covenant [is] with thee, and thou hast become father of a multitude of nations;

and thy name is no more called Abram, but thy name hath been Abraham, for father of a multitude of nations have I made thee;

and I have made thee exceeding fruitful, and made thee become nations, and kings go out from thee.

`And I have established My covenant between Me and thee, and thy seed after thee, to their generations, for a covenant age-during, to become God to thee, and to thy seed after thee;

and I have given to thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land of thy sojournings, the whole land of Canaan, for a possession age-during, and I have become their God.’

And God saith unto Abraham, `And thou dost keep My covenant, thou and thy seed after thee, to their generations;

10 this [is] My covenant which ye keep between Me and you, and thy seed after thee: Every male of you [is] to be circumcised;

11 and ye have circumcised the flesh of your foreskin, and it hath become a token of a covenant between Me and you.

12 `And a son of eight days is circumcised by you; every male to your generations, born in the house, or bought with money from any son of a stranger, who is not of thy seed;

13 he is certainly circumcised who [is] born in thine house, or bought with thy money; and My covenant hath become in your flesh a covenant age-during;

14 and an uncircumcised one, a male, the flesh of whose foreskin is not circumcised, even that person hath been cut off from his people; My covenant he hath broken.’

15 And God saith unto Abraham, `Sarai thy wife — thou dost not call her name Sarai, for Sarah [is] her name;

16 and I have blessed her, and have also given to thee a son from her; and I have blessed her, and she hath become nations — kings of peoples are from her.’

17 And Abraham falleth upon his face, and laugheth, and saith in his heart, `To the son of an hundred years is one born? or doth Sarah — daughter of ninety years — bear?’

18 And Abraham saith unto God, `O that Ishmael may live before Thee;’

19 and God saith, `Sarah thy wife is certainly bearing a son to thee, and thou hast called his name Isaac, and I have established My covenant with him, for a covenant age-during, to his seed after him.

20 As to Ishmael, I have heard thee; lo, I have blessed him, and made him fruitful, and multiplied him, very exceedingly; twelve princes doth he beget, and I have made him become a great nation;

21 and My covenant I establish with Isaac, whom Sarah doth bear to thee at this appointed time in the next year;’

22 and He finisheth speaking with him, and God goeth up from Abraham.

23 And Abraham taketh Ishmael his son, and all those born in his house, and all those bought with his money — every male among the men of Abraham’s house — and circumciseth the flesh of their foreskin, in this self-same day, as God hath spoken with him.

24 And Abraham [is] a son of ninety and nine years in the flesh of his foreskin being circumcised;

25 and Ishmael his son [is] a son of thirteen years in the flesh of his foreskin being circumcised;

26 in this self-same day hath Abraham been circumcised, and Ishmael his son;

27 and all the men of his house — born in the house, and bought with money from the son of a stranger — have been circumcised with him.

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