Let’s try Plan B: The Almighty’s plan backfires

Moses and Aaron (a wanted murderer and his brother, both foreigners) somehow immediately get a personal audience with Pharaoh. Plausible. They ask the king to allow the Hebrews to leave to throw a feast in the wilderness for Jehovah, god of Israel. Pharaoh replies, understandably, “who the fuck is that?” Jehovah is such an absentee deity that no one is even aware of him. Given his insistence on being recognized and feared, you can’t help but think that his relative anonymity is due to impotence, not some sort of new-found humility.

Moses and Aaron’s reply is a veiled threat that if they don’t meet Jehovah, he will bring pestilence and sword. Pharaoh doesn’t respond well to the threat, telling Moses and Aaron to get back to work and quit organizing work-stoppages (even though they supposedly went straight to Pharaoh, so it’s unclear how the Hebrews got word of the strike). He also tells his people to stop giving the Hebrews straw to make bricks, so they’ll have to collect it themselves. I understand where he’s coming from here, but that seems counterproductive. “The Hebrews stopped making bricks, make them find the raw materials themselves now.” Yeah, that’ll help. He does give them some good advice though, saying “be not dazzled by lying words.” Given Jehovah and Co.’s track record for deception, that’s very astute advice.

Predictably, they can’t make their brick quota, so beatings ensue. Their union reps go to Pharaoh to ask why the fuck they are being beaten for failing to make targets that are a result of Pharaoh’s no-straw policy, and Pharaoh calls them lazy and points the finger at Moses and Aaron. The angry slaves invoke the very cause of their affliction in condemning Moses and Aaron:

21 `Jehovah look upon you, and judge, because ye have caused our fragrance to stink in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants — to give a sword into their hand to slay us.’

That would be a valid criticism except it was Jehovah’s fault and his idea in the first place. To his credit, Moses (who has been a giant pussy so far) holds Jehovah to task for his shitty plan that backfired.

22 And Moses turneth back unto Jehovah, and saith, `Lord, why hast Thou done evil to this people? why [is] this? — Thou hast sent me!

23 and since I have come unto Pharaoh, to speak in Thy name, he hath done evil to this people, and Thou hast not at all delivered Thy people.’

That’s an accurate assessment, but a bit risky considering this loose canon god recently almost killed him for no reason, and was only dissuaded by penis blood of an infant.

EXODUS 5

1 And afterwards have Moses and Aaron entered, and they say unto Pharaoh, `Thus said Jehovah, God of Israel, Send My people away, and they keep a feast to Me in the wilderness;’

and Pharaoh saith, `Who [is] Jehovah, that I hearken to His voice, to send Israel away? I have not known Jehovah, and Israel also I do not send away.’

And they say, `The God of the Hebrews hath met with us, let us go, we pray thee, a journey of three days into the wilderness, and we sacrifice to Jehovah our God, lest He meet us with pestilence or with sword.’

And the king of Egypt saith unto them, `Why, Moses and Aaron, do ye free the people from its works? go to your burdens.’

Pharaoh also saith, `Lo, numerous now [is] the people of the land, and ye have caused them to cease from their burdens!’

And Pharaoh commandeth, on that day, the exactors among the people and its authorities, saying,

`Ye do not add to give straw to the people for the making of the bricks, as heretofore — they go and have gathered straw for themselves;

and the proper quantity of the bricks which they are making heretofore ye do put on them, ye do not diminish from it, for they are remiss, therefore they are crying, saying, Let us go, let us sacrifice to our God;

let the service be heavy on the men, and let them work at it, and not be dazzled by lying words.’

10 And the exactors of the people, and its authorities, go out, and speak unto the people, saying, `Thus said Pharaoh, I do not give you straw,

11 ye — go ye, take for yourselves straw where ye find [it], for there is nothing of your service diminished.’

12 And the people is scattered over all the land of Egypt, to gather stubble for straw,

13 and the exactors are making haste, saying, `Complete your works, the matter of a day in its day, as when there is straw.’

14 And the authorities of the sons of Israel, whom the exactors of Pharaoh have placed over them, are beaten, saying, `Wherefore have ye not completed your portion in making brick as heretofore, both yesterday and to-day?’

15 And the authorities of the sons of Israel come in and cry unto Pharaoh, saying, `Why dost thou thus to thy servants?

16 Straw is not given to thy servants, and they are saying to us, Make bricks, and lo, thy servants are smitten — and thy people hath sinned.’

17 And he saith, `Remiss — ye are remiss, therefore ye are saying, Let us go, let us sacrifice to Jehovah;

18 and now, go, serve; and straw is not given to you, and the measure of bricks ye do give.’

19 And the authorities of the sons of Israel see them in affliction, saying, `Ye do not diminish from your bricks; the matter of a day in its day.’

20 And they meet Moses and Aaron standing to meet them, in their coming out from Pharaoh,

21 and say unto them, `Jehovah look upon you, and judge, because ye have caused our fragrance to stink in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants — to give a sword into their hand to slay us.’

22 And Moses turneth back unto Jehovah, and saith, `Lord, why hast Thou done evil to this people? why [is] this? — Thou hast sent me!

23 and since I have come unto Pharaoh, to speak in Thy name, he hath done evil to this people, and Thou hast not at all delivered Thy people.’

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Angry god? Smear some baby dick-blood on your feet. Presto, happy god. This is your bible people.

This chapter starts right in the middle of Moses’ conversation with God (or his messenger) inside the burning bush. Literally, in the middle of it. The first words are “And Moses answereth.” That’s some shoddy chapterizing there. Moses continues his awkward conversation with God, and it veers into the bizarre. After Moses expresses his skepticism again that the people will believe that he talked with THE Jehovah, God performs a magic trick (I’m sorry, illusion) in which he turns Moses’ rod into a snake. Wow, thanks Jafar, I mean, Almighty God. Why don’t you use your magic fucking powers to do something useful, like rescue the fucking people yourself? Also, why does he have to ask what is in Moses’ hand? Isn’t he supposed to know that, along with everything else in the universe?

I think God is missing the point. Moses is worried that people won’t believe him, that he lacks credibility, so God gives him a private showing of a stupid little party trick. How does that lend him any ethos whatsoever? God’s not done being a magician though, he’s having too much fun with balloon animals. He performs another illusion where he gives Moses leprosy. He really is an asshole. Supposedly infinitely powerful, yet his amazing deeds on Earth consists of giving a guy a communicable disease. If God is not opposed to intervening in human affairs and performing supernatural deeds on Earth, why the fuck doesn’t he just go liberate people himself? Instead of fulfilling his end of the covenant he made ten times, he is playing games like a child burning an ant with a magnifying glass, and putting the onus back on humans to carry the burden of getting their reward. He promised them the land of milk and honey, now he’s making them beg for it and jump through hoops. Ridiculous.

Moses is still skeptical after all this, and reluctant to bring the message to the Hebrews. While he’s usually painted as a doubting Thomas, he seems to have a very healthy, accurate view of Jehovah. He probably thinks there’s a decent possibility that even if he delivers the message, God will not deliver on the promise. It’s a very pragmatic and justifiable approach given Jehovah’s track record.

God is completely unsympathetic though, and apparently holds a very inaccurate idea of himself as trustworthy and reliable, despite never having done a damn thing for anyone to which he made promises. His anger “burneth against Moses” (his one consistent character trait) and he decides to send Moses’ brother Aaron with Moses. Maybe he was pissed because he realized he was wrong and a human was right, again. When Moses finally acquiesces, God has some more disturbing information. He tells Moses that he will “strengthen” Pharaoh’s heart when Moses asks for the Hebrews’ freedom, so that God can show off and use his magical powers to kill people. I haven’t found any more objectionable morals in existence than this: God is going to cause someone to do something, and then punish him for it. Not only that, he is going to direct Pharaoh’s hand and then kill all the male first-born children for it. How can this perverse morality ever be defended? It’s reprehensible and inexplicable. If Pharaoh made a choice with his own free will and was punished for it, then OK, I can understand it. Perhaps I don’t agree with a death sentence, or the fact that it is visited upon people who didn’t make the free choice that led to the punishment, but I can accept the choice > consequence syllogism. What I cannot accept is that God is removing free will, and then punishing Pharaoh for a “decision” that God himself made. That is absolutely indefensible.

Then, as has become my consistent refrain, it gets weird.

24 And it cometh to pass in the way, in a lodging place, that Jehovah meeteth him, and seeketh to put him to death;

25 and Zipporah taketh a flint, and cutteth off the foreskin of her son, and causeth [it] to touch his feet, and saith, `Surely a bridegroom of blood [art] thou to me;’

26 and He desisteth from him: then she said, `A bridegroom of blood,’ in reference to the circumcision.

After finally talking Moses into going, and after Moses has hit the road, albeit reluctantly, God the fucking highway bandit decides to kill him. Let me bullet the ways this is bizarre:

  • God is a person again? Walking around like a regular human, intercepting people at meeting houses?
  • God changed his mind? Isn’t that be impossible? If he knows everything and is perfect, then he can never make a decision that he later regrets or reconsiders. He has perfect knowledge and perfect reasoning. It makes no sense.
  • Why is the all-powerful God poking around a hotel looking for Moses? Doesn’t he know exactly where he is and have the ability to strike him down remotely?
  • How the fuck does Moses’ wife know what God is up to? Did God tell her he was going to kill Moses? Did she guess? Did she just bump into an angry god at the waffle machine in the lobby?
  • Gross, just gross. Woman grabs son’s penis, cuts it, and ritualistically marries the child’s father to him by smearing the kid’s dickblood on his feet? Jesus fucking Christ that’s barbaric and nonsensical.

What the literal fuck is wrong with this book. How is anyone religious when this shit exists in the Bible? Unbelievable. Simply inconceivable.

EXODUS 4

And Moses answereth and saith, `And, if they do not give credence to me, nor hearken to my voice, and say, Jehovah hath not appeared unto thee?’

And Jehovah saith unto him, `What [is] this in thy hand?’ and he saith, `A rod;’

and He saith, `Cast it to the earth;’ and he casteth it to the earth, and it becometh a serpent — and Moses fleeth from its presence.

And Jehovah saith unto Moses, `Put forth thy hand, and lay hold on the tail of it;’ and he putteth forth his hand, and layeth hold on it, and it becometh a rod in his hand —

`– so that they believe that Jehovah, God of their fathers, hath appeared unto thee, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob.’

And Jehovah saith to him again, `Put in, I pray thee, thy hand into thy bosom;’ and he putteth in his hand into his bosom, and he bringeth it out, and lo, his hand [is] leprous as snow;

and He saith, `Put back thy hand unto thy bosom;’ and he putteth back his hand unto his bosom, and he bringeth it out from his bosom, and lo, it hath turned back as his flesh —

`– and it hath come to pass, if they do not give credence to thee, and hearken not to the voice of the first sign, that they have given credence to the voice of the latter sign.

`And it hath come to pass, if they do not give credence even to these two signs, nor hearken to thy voice, that thou hast taken of the waters of the River, and hast poured on the dry land, and the waters which thou takest from the River have been, yea, they have become — blood on the dry land.’

10 And Moses saith unto Jehovah, `O, my Lord, I [am] not a man of words, either yesterday, or before, or since Thy speaking unto Thy servant, for I [am] slow of mouth, and slow of tongue.’

11 And Jehovah saith unto him, `Who appointed a mouth for man? or who appointeth the dumb, or deaf, or open, or blind? is it not I, Jehovah?

12 and now, go, and I — I am with thy mouth, and have directed thee that which thou speakest;’

13 and he saith, `O, my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand Thou dost send.’

14 And the anger of Jehovah burneth against Moses, and He saith, `Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I have known that he speaketh well, and also, lo, he is coming out to meet thee; when he hath seen thee, then he hath rejoiced in his heart,

15 and thou hast spoken unto him, and hast set the words in his mouth, and I — I am with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and have directed you that which ye do;

16 and he, he hath spoken for thee unto the people, and it hath come to pass, he — he is to thee for a mouth, and thou — thou art to him for God;

17 and this rod thou dost take in thy hand, with which thou doest the signs.’

18 And Moses goeth and turneth back unto Jethro his father-in-law, and saith to him, `Let me go, I pray thee, and I turn back unto my brethren who [are] in Egypt, and I see whether they are yet alive.’ And Jethro saith to Moses, `Go in peace.’

19 And Jehovah saith unto Moses in Midian, `Go, turn back to Egypt, for all the men have died who seek thy life;’

20 and Moses taketh his wife, and his sons, and causeth them to ride on the ass, and turneth back to the land of Egypt, and Moses taketh the rod of God in his hand.

21 And Jehovah saith unto Moses, `In thy going to turn back to Egypt, see — all the wonders which I have put in thy hand — that thou hast done them before Pharaoh, and I — I strengthen his heart, and he doth not send the people away;

22 and thou hast said unto Pharaoh, Thus said Jehovah, My son, My first-born [is] Israel,

23 and I say unto thee, Send away My son, and he doth serve Me; and — thou dost refuse to send him away — lo, I am slaying thy son, thy first-born.’

24 And it cometh to pass in the way, in a lodging place, that Jehovah meeteth him, and seeketh to put him to death;

25 and Zipporah taketh a flint, and cutteth off the foreskin of her son, and causeth [it] to touch his feet, and saith, `Surely a bridegroom of blood [art] thou to me;’

26 and He desisteth from him: then she said, `A bridegroom of blood,’ in reference to the circumcision.

27 And Jehovah saith unto Aaron, `Go to meet Moses into the wilderness;’ and he goeth, and meeteth him in the mount of God, and kisseth him,

28 and Moses declareth to Aaron all the words of Jehovah with which He hath sent him, and all the signs with which He hath charged him.

29 And Moses goeth — Aaron also — and they gather all the elders of the sons of Israel,

30 and Aaron speaketh all the words which Jehovah hath spoken unto Moses, and doth the signs before the eyes of the people;

31 and the people believe when they hear that Jehovah hath looked after the sons of Israel, and that He hath seen their affliction; and they bow and do obeisance.

Moses worries about his tongue when he encounters a fiery bush: Exodus 3

Well, this is a Bible story that even people unfamiliar with the Bible probably know about. It’s the burning bush story, in which God enlists a reluctant Moses to rescue the Hebrews from their mistreatment in Egypt. It’s pretty much how I remember it, kind of repetitive and awkward. When God appears (his first appearance in the Bible since the middle of Genesis), he has to identify himself to Moses, as “God of thy father, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob,” which I still find peculiar. Are there other gods around speaking from burning bushes whom Moses may confuse with the Hebrew god? Has Jehovah been so absent and negligent that nobody even knows he exists anymore? It’s notable that it only took a few generations for the idea of a single god who is active in human affairs to become a watered-down, pathetic deity only mentioned abstractly at births and funerals, and whose appearances must be accompanied by an introduction.

Anyway, God tells Moses that he has heard the cries of the Hebrews and has resolved to do something about it. Well shit, it’s about fucking time. Actually, technically HE is not going to do anything about it, but he wants Moses to do it. To lead them out of Egypt to the “land of Milk and Honey.” What would have been a clever move for the wise God would have been to use Moses’ pedigree as a Prince of Egypt, Pharaoh’s adopted son, to install him in a position where he could enact a more favorable policy toward Hebrews. Or, you know, he could come up with a convoluted plan to visit plagues on thousands of innocents, kill a bunch of babies, wander in the desert for 80 years, and then have to fight a variety of tribes for the promised land that was so shitty that they were forced to leave or starve to death. Oh yeah, that’s a better plan.

Continuing the story, God decides to confuse the fuck out of the situation by giving cheeky responses to Moses’ very reasonable questions, like “who the fuck are you?” God’s answer:

14 “I Am That Which I Am.”

Cool, thanks asshole. I’m sure the Hebrews will be very responsive when an exiled murdering race-traitor conveys that message. There’s tons of credibility in vaguery and riddles.

Let’s pause here to talk again about WHAT THE FUCK constitutes “god” at this point. We’re supposed to believe that there is a consistent, unique, all-powerful entity somewhere in this fucking book. A singular entity. What we actually have are a collection of beings that are sometimes humanoid and sometimes ethereal, sometimes present and involved and sometimes seemingly nonexistent, sometimes wise and sometimes foolish and temperamental, who has been identified by at least four different names (YHWH, Yahweh, I AM, and Jehovah), and who resembles a compilation of about a dozen pagan deities.

Back to the story, I Am cracks an idiotic plan based on horribly incorrect assumptions to “free” the Hebrews. I put “free” in quotations because that’s mien of the narrative, but the historicity is highly questionable. There’s really no mention outside of the Bible of Hebrews being held by force in a country in which they did not want to remain.  There’s also absolutely no explanation in the Bible about how the Hebrews went from being wildly successful in Egypt, thriving and multiplying in Goshen, to being an abused untouchable slave caste.

God’s plan also involves some extremely fucked-up manipulations by the big bully. Check this:

18 `And they have hearkened to thy voice, and thou hast entered, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye have said unto him, Jehovah, God of the Hebrews, hath met with us; and now, let us go, we pray thee, a journey of three days into the wilderness, and we sacrifice to Jehovah our God.

19 `And I — I have known that the king of Egypt doth not permit you to go, unless by a strong hand,

20 and I have put forth My hand, and have smitten Egypt with all My wonders, which I do in its midst — and afterwards he doth send you away.

Suddenly God, who took untold decades to realize that his people weren’t doing so well in Egypt, knows what is going to happen in the future, and predicts that he will have to fuck shit up to get Pharaoh to release the Hebrews. Stay tuned, because [spoiler alert] this is going to get progressively fucked up. It will turn out that God’s “prediction” is not so much bona fide presagacity as a disturbingly violent self-fulfilling prophecy.

This chapter ends on a high note. Not only does this on-again/off-again murderous psychopath deity tell his people to lie to the Egyptians and promise to rain down his fury, but they’re also supposed to steal all of their shit on the way out.

22 and [every] woman hath asked from her neighbour, and from her who is sojourning in her house, vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and garments, and ye have put [them] on your sons and on your daughters, and have spoiled the Egyptians.’

Cool!

EXODUS 3

1 And Moses hath been feeding the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, priest of Midian, and he leadeth the flock behind the wilderness, and cometh in unto the mount of God, to Horeb;

and there appeareth unto him a messenger of Jehovah in a flame of fire, out of the midst of the bush, and he seeth, and lo, the bush is burning with fire, and the bush is not consumed.

And Moses saith, `Let me turn aside, I pray thee, and I see this great appearance; wherefore is the bush not burned?’

and Jehovah seeth that he hath turned aside to see, and God calleth unto him out of the midst of the bush, and saith, `Moses, Moses;’ and he saith, `Here [am] I.’

And He saith, `Come not near hither: cast thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place on which thou art standing is holy ground.’

He saith also, `I [am] the God of thy father, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob;’ and Moses hideth his face, for he is afraid to look towards God.

And Jehovah saith, `I have certainly seen the affliction of My people who [are] in Egypt, and their cry I have heard, because of its exactors, for I have known its pains;

and I go down to deliver it out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to cause it to go up out of the land, unto a land good and broad, unto a land flowing with milk and honey — unto the place of the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Amorite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite.

`And now, lo, the cry of the sons of Israel hath come in unto Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them,

10 and now, come, and I send thee unto Pharaoh, and bring thou out My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.’

11 And Moses saith unto God, `Who [am] I, that I go unto Pharaoh, and that I bring out the sons of Israel from Egypt?’

12 and He saith, `Because I am with thee, and this [is] to thee the sign that I have sent thee: in thy bringing out the people from Egypt — ye do serve God on this mount.’

13 And Moses saith unto God, `Lo, I am coming unto the sons of Israel, and have said to them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you, and they have said to me, What [is] His name? what do I say unto them?’

14 And God saith unto Moses, `I Am That Which I Am;’ He saith also, `Thus dost thou say to the sons of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you.’

15 And God saith again unto Moses, `Thus dost thou say unto the sons of Israel, Jehovah, God of your fathers, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you; this [is] My name — to the age, and this My memorial, to generation — generation.

16 `Go, and thou hast gathered the elders of Israel, and hast said unto them: Jehovah, God of your fathers, hath appeareth unto me, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, I have certainly inspected you, and that which is done to you in Egypt;

17 and I say, I bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt, unto the land of the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Amorite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite, unto a land flowing [with] milk and honey.

18 `And they have hearkened to thy voice, and thou hast entered, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye have said unto him, Jehovah, God of the Hebrews, hath met with us; and now, let us go, we pray thee, a journey of three days into the wilderness, and we sacrifice to Jehovah our God.

19 `And I — I have known that the king of Egypt doth not permit you to go, unless by a strong hand,

20 and I have put forth My hand, and have smitten Egypt with all My wonders, which I do in its midst — and afterwards he doth send you away.

21 `And I have given the grace of this people in the eyes of the Egyptians, and it hath come to pass, when ye go, ye go not empty;

22 and [every] woman hath asked from her neighbour, and from her who is sojourning in her house, vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and garments, and ye have put [them] on your sons and on your daughters, and have spoiled the Egyptians.’

God: “Covenant…covenant, hmmm. Ohh thaaaat covenant.”

Exodus 2 starts with some questionable mothering.  An unnamed Hebrew woman gives birth to a child and hides him for three months, at which point she can no longer hide him. Her solution? She puts him in a lil’ baby boat and floats him down the river. What the fuck is that? She can’t guarantee her child’s safety so she puts him in a homemade fucking boat and throws him in the river? She clearly has no idea what his fate will be in the river. She just posts her daughter to watch “what is done to him.” What’s the best case reasonable scenario? He starves instead of drowning? He has a nice quick death by asp-bite or crocodile? Whenever something this nonsensical happens, it fairly screams “fictional” to me (even in the context of the rest of this obviously concocted book). I can’t imagine any mother doing this to her child.

Naturally, since this bullshit is all made up, the child doesn’t fall victim to what his fate would have been in real life, but is rescued by a magical princess. Seriously, this is shamelessly sloppy Disney fiction.

And a daughter of Pharaoh cometh down to bathe at the River, and her damsels are walking by the side of the River, and she seeth the ark in the midst of the weeds, and sendeth her handmaid, and she taketh it,

and openeth, and seeth him — the lad, and lo, a child weeping! and she hath pity on him, and saith, `This is [one] of the Hebrews’ children.’

The baby’s sister, apparently still watching, goes to Pharaoh’s daughter and offers to find her a suitable Hebrew mother to take care of the child. This is a fairly obvious scam, but apparently the princess is not sharp enough to catch on that there a recently pregnant, still nursing woman just happens to show up right after a baby appears in the river. This is what I mean when I say I don’t even like the Bible as a work of fiction. It’s still unbelievable and artificial, even after I’ve suspended my disbelief. Oh, also, here’s another example of someone being rewarded for dishonesty.

At some point, when the kid is weaned, they drop him back off with the Princess and leave him there to raise as her son. She names him Moses. It’s not clear why they bring him back and give him to the princess even though everybody knows he’s Hebrew.  You’d think they would either kill him or let him be. He gets a big chip on his shoulder as he grows up, when he notices that his people (apparently he’s aware of his lineage) are basically enslaved and mistreated. He sees an Egyptian beating a Hebrew and kills him. The next day, he’s back out joyriding, or whatever it is that occupies him, and confronts two Hebrews who are beating each other. One of the shitheads responds, basically, “Who made you boss over us? Are you going to kill me like you killed that Egyptian?”

All of the sudden, it becomes an open secret, and Pharaoh is calling for Moses’ head. It’s unclear why a prince of Egypt would not have the prerogative to kill anyone he wanted in a lower caste, especially a laborer who barely outranks the slaves he’s overseeing. Well he doesn’t, and his solution is to run like a bitch.

He flees to Midian, and jumps right into bed with a woman. The Bible is not big on artful transitions. Basically, he is in hiding and comes across some women trying to water their flocks who are being harassed by some shepherds. He drives away the shepherds and helps the chicks with their flocks, for which their father gives away one of his daughters. Seems like a steep price, unless you’re the Bible and woman are essentially worthless. Wells are the fucking singles bar of the ancient world. By the way, I wonder if “watering flocks” is a euphemism.

Anyway, he gets right to bizznasty with his chick and knocks her up. Meanwhile, God (whom we have not heard about for dozens of chapters and who has been absent for hundreds of years) “heareth the groaning” of the Hebrews who are being treated like shit, and “remembereth his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.” Had he fucking forgotten it? What the fuck was he doing for the last ten generations? Stupid.

EXODUS 2

1 And there goeth a man of the house of Levi, and he taketh the daughter of Levi,

and the woman conceiveth, and beareth a son, and she seeth him that he [is] fair, and she hideth him three months,

and she hath not been able any more to hide him, and she taketh for him an ark of rushes, and daubeth it with bitumen and with pitch, and putteth the lad in it, and putteth [it] in the weeds by the edge of the River;

and his sister stationeth herself afar off, to know what is done to him.

And a daughter of Pharaoh cometh down to bathe at the River, and her damsels are walking by the side of the River, and she seeth the ark in the midst of the weeds, and sendeth her handmaid, and she taketh it,

and openeth, and seeth him — the lad, and lo, a child weeping! and she hath pity on him, and saith, `This is [one] of the Hebrews’ children.’

And his sister saith unto the daughter of Pharaoh, `Do I go? when I have called for thee a suckling woman of the Hebrews, then she doth suckle the lad for thee;’

and the daughter of Pharaoh saith to her, `Go;’ and the virgin goeth, and calleth the mother of the lad,

and the daughter of Pharaoh saith to her, `Take this lad away, and suckle him for me, and I — I give thy hire;’ and the woman taketh the lad, and suckleth him.

10 And the lad groweth, and she bringeth him in to the daughter of Pharaoh, and he is to her for a son, and she calleth his name Moses, and saith, `Because — from the water I have drawn him.’

11 And it cometh to pass, in those days, that Moses is grown, and he goeth out unto his brethren, and looketh on their burdens, and seeth a man, an Egyptian, smiting a man, a Hebrew, [one] of his brethren,

12 and he turneth hither and thither, and seeth that there is no man, and smiteth the Egyptian, and hideth him in the sand.

13 And he goeth out on the second day, and lo, two men, Hebrews, striving! and he saith to the wrong-doer, `Why dost thou smite thy neighbour?’

14 and he saith, `Who set thee for a head and a judge over us? to slay me art thou saying [it], as thou hast slain the Egyptian?’ and Moses feareth, and saith, `Surely the thing hath been known.’

15 And Pharaoh heareth of this thing, and seeketh to slay Moses, and Moses fleeth from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelleth in the land of Midian, and dwelleth by the well.

16 And to a priest of Midian [are] seven daughters, and they come and draw, and fill the troughs, to water the flock of their father,

17 and the shepherds come and drive them away, and Moses ariseth, and saveth them, and watereth their flock.

18 And they come in to Reuel their father, and he saith, `Wherefore have ye hastened to come in to-day?’

19 and they say, `A man, an Egyptian, hath delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also hath diligently drawn for us, and watereth the flock;’

20 and he saith unto his daughters, `And where [is] he? why [is] this? — ye left the man! call for him, and he doth eat bread.’

21 And Moses is willing to dwell with the man, and he giveth Zipporah his daughter to Moses,

22 and she beareth a son, and he calleth his name Gershom, for he said, `A sojourner I have been in a strange land.’

23 And it cometh to pass during these many days, that the king of Egypt dieth, and the sons of Israel sigh because of the service, and cry, and their cry goeth up unto God, because of the service;

24 and God heareth their groaning, and God remembereth His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob;

25 and God seeth the sons of Israel, and God knoweth.

Thighdicks, Hebrew Jackrabbits and Dead Babies: Exodus 1

All right, Exodus starts out weird. At first glance it seems like the same old bullshit, a list of  “names of the sons of Israel who are coming into Egypt with Jacob.” But then it says:

And all the persons coming out of the thigh of Jacob are seventy persons

So thigh means penis, huh? Where do I remember the Bible mentioning thighs before… Oh yeah, EVERY-FUCKING-WHERE. Back in Genesis, every time a man swore an oath, the recipient of the oath would place his hand under the swear-maker’s thigh. This applied to the father-son deathbed blessings as well. Apparently, you could not give an oath or blessing unless someone buried their hand in your junk.

Genesis 24:2  and Abraham saith unto his servant, the eldest of his house, who is ruling over all that he hath, `Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh…

Genesis 47:29 And the days of Israel are near to die, and he calleth for his son, for Joseph, and saith to him, `If, I pray thee, I have found grace in thine eyes, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and thou hast done with me kindness and truth; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt…

Also, remember Jacob’s injury when wrestling with the angel?

Genesis 32:25 and he seeth that he is not able for him, and he cometh against the hollow of his thigh, and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh is disjointed in his wrestling with him

The dude disjointed his dick! That sounds profoundly unpleasant. No wonder it was so memorable.

Anyway, hilarious euphemisms aside, Exodus 1 sets up the tone of the book, basically observing that there are way too many Israelites in Egypt. They don’t give a flying fuck about the “promised land” because they know how shitty it was, so they are more than content to stay in Goshen. Unfortunately, a new pharaoh ascends the throne, and he is not terribly fond of the Israelite hordes in his land. He grows worried about the Israelites who are fucking like jackrabbits and threatening to outnumber the Egyptians in Egypt. Pharaoh and his advisers decide to conscript the Israelites into forced labor, filling storehouses and building cities. Unfortunately for their plans, hard labor seems to make the Israelites horny, and they proliferate even more prolifically.

Then, it escalates quickly. As plan B, Pharaoh directs the Hebrew midwives to kill all the sons born to Hebrew women. Daughters are OK, for some reason. The midwives do not comply, then lie to Pharaoh when he demands an explanation, saying that Hebrew women pop out kids so quickly, the kids are already born before the midwives get there. Let me interject here again to point out the Bible’s perverse stance on lying. Every single time someone has lied in the Bible so far (and it has happened a lot) they’re not castigated or condemned. Liars are cast as clever, industrious, laudable. Liars prosper, their lies are rewarded. Here “God doth good to the midwives” as a direct result of their lying (verse 20). It’s an ass-backward morality.

The chapter ends with a cliff-hanger. Because the midwives failed to kill the children, Pharaoh instructs his own people to kill all the male babies.

EXODUS 1

1 And these [are] the names of the sons of Israel who are coming into Egypt with Jacob; a man and his household have they come;

Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah,

Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin,

Dan, and Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.

And all the persons coming out of the thigh of Jacob are seventy persons; as to Joseph, he was in Egypt.

And Joseph dieth, and all his brethren, and all that generation;

and the sons of Israel have been fruitful, and they teem, and multiply, and are very very mighty, and the land is filled with them.

And there riseth a new king over Egypt, who hath not known Joseph,

and he saith unto his people, `Lo, the people of the sons of Israel [is] more numerous and mighty than we;

10 give help! let us act wisely concerning it, lest it multiply, and it hath come to pass, when war happeneth, that it hath been joined, even it, unto those hating us, and hath fought against us, and hath gone out up of the land.’

11 And they set over it princes of tribute, so as to afflict it with their burdens, and it buildeth store-cities for Pharaoh, Pithom and Raamses;

12 and as they afflict it, so it multiplieth, and so it breaketh forth, and they are vexed because of the sons of Israel;

13 and the Egyptians cause the sons of Israel to serve with rigour,

14 and make their lives bitter in hard service, in clay, and in brick, and in every [kind] of service in the field; all their service in which they have served [is] with rigour.

15 And the king of Egypt speaketh to the midwives, the Hebrewesses, (of whom the name of the one [is] Shiphrah, and the name of the second Puah),

16 and saith, `When ye cause the Hebrew women to bear, and have looked on the children; if it [is] a son — then ye have put him to death; and if it [is] a daughter — then she hath lived.’

17 And the midwives fear God, and have not done as the king of Egypt hath spoken unto them, and keep the lads alive;

18 and the king of Egypt calleth for the midwives, and saith to them, `Wherefore have ye done this thing, and keep the lads alive?’

19 And the midwives say unto Pharaoh, `Because the Hebrew women [are] not as the Egyptian women, for they [are] lively; before the midwife cometh in unto them — they have borne!’

20 And God doth good to the midwives, and the people multiply, and are very mighty;

21 and it cometh to pass, because the midwives have feared God, that He maketh for them households;

22 and Pharaoh layeth a charge on all his people, saying, `Every son who is born — into the River ye do cast him, and every daughter ye do keep alive.

The Exodus of Genesis: Genesis 50

After Jacob dies, Joseph fusses over his dead body and orders a ritualistic pagan preparation of the body:

and Joseph commandeth his servants, the physicians, to embalm his father, and the physicians embalm Israel;

and they fulfil for him forty days, for so they fulfil the days of the embalmed, and the Egyptians weep for him seventy days.

It looks like Joseph has almost entirely assimilated into the Egyptian culture, which makes sense, I guess, considering that he has spent more time in Egypt than around his own people at this point. However, he does bow to his father’s dying wish to be buried in the shitty place he used to live instead of the wonderful, fertile place where he spent his golden years. He brings a parade of Egyptians with him to Canaan, but leaves his entire family, including all his brothers, in Goshen. I imagine the Egyptians were pretty disappointed when they trekked all the way to buttfuck desert only to find a shitty little death-cave at the end of the line instead of a magnificent stone pyramid filled with gold.

As the burial and mourning stretches on, Joseph’s brothers start to worry that Joseph will sour on them now that the old man is dead. They get in touch with Joseph, and lie to him (good plan guys), saying that Jacob’s dying words to them were “be nice to your brothers, they are supercool guys.” Joseph cries like a pussy again and reassures them that although they did evil to him, God turned it into good. That’s a stretch, given that God hasn’t made an appearance in the Bible for chapters upon chapters. Actually, I can’t even remember the last time God, angels, or any supernatural being appeared. The characters have referred to God, in a vague and detached way, but God himself has been completely absent. No one has even claimed to have contact with God or channeled his messages, as they were so fond of doing previously. The entire story of Joseph was completely godless. I’m guessing that gives a clue to it’s provenance.

After Jacob dies, we flash forward an unknown number of years and completely skip the remainder of Joseph’s life. Suddenly he is an old man, ready to die. All these old guys have a magical ability to foretell their own death. It’s strange that we go straight from Jacob’s funeral to Joseph’s death, in a two-verse span. Apparently he did nothing else important, and nothing else of significance happened to the Israelites for nearly a century. Riiiight.

Anyway, JoJo dies right on cue, at the alleged ripe old age of 110 years. Somehow, although he was the second-youngest of Jacob’s sons and lived a life of privilege, he still predeceased his 11 brothers. His death caps off the chapter of Genesis.

GENESIS 50

1 And Joseph falleth on his father’s face, and weepeth over him, and kisseth him;

and Joseph commandeth his servants, the physicians, to embalm his father, and the physicians embalm Israel;

and they fulfil for him forty days, for so they fulfil the days of the embalmed, and the Egyptians weep for him seventy days.

And the days of his weeping pass away, and Joseph speaketh unto the house of Pharaoh, saying, `If, I pray you, I have found grace in your eyes, speak, I pray you, in the ears of Pharaoh, saying,

My father caused me to swear, saying, Lo, I am dying; in my burying-place which I have prepared for myself in the land of Canaan, there dost thou bury me; and now, let me go up, I pray thee, and bury my father, and return;’

and Pharaoh saith, `Go up and bury thy father, as he caused thee to swear.’

And Joseph goeth up to bury his father, and go up with him do all the servants of Pharaoh, elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt,

and all the house of Joseph, and his brethren, and the house of his father; only their infants, and their flock, and their herd, have they left in the land of Goshen;

and there go up with him both chariot and horsemen, and the camp is very great.

10 And they come unto the threshing-floor of Atad, which [is] beyond the Jordan, and they lament there, a lamentation great and very grievous; and he maketh for his father a mourning seven days,

11 and the inhabitant of the land, the Canaanite, see the mourning in the threshing-floor of Atad, and say, `A grievous mourning [is] this to the Egyptians;’ therefore hath [one] called its name `The mourning of the Egyptians,’ which [is] beyond the Jordan.

12 And his sons do to him so as he commanded them,

13 and his sons bear him away to the land of Canaan, and bury him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a burying-place, from Ephron the Hittite, on the front of Mamre.

14 And Joseph turneth back to Egypt, he and his brethren, and all who are going up with him to bury his father, after his burying his father.

15 And the brethren of Joseph see that their father is dead, and say, `Peradventure Joseph doth hate us, and doth certainly return to us all the evil which we did with him.’

16 And they give a charge for Joseph, saying, `Thy father commanded before his death, saying,

17 Thus ye do say to Joseph, I pray thee, bear, I pray thee, with the transgression of thy brethren, and their sin, for they have done thee evil; and now, bear, we pray thee, with the transgression of the servants of the God of thy father;’ and Joseph weepeth in their speaking unto him.

18 And his brethren also go and fall before him, and say, `Lo, we [are] to thee for servants.’

19 And Joseph saith unto them, `Fear not, for [am] I in the place of God?

20 As for you, ye devised against me evil — God devised it for good, in order to do as [at] this day, to keep alive a numerous people;

21 and now, fear not: I do nourish you and your infants;’ and he comforteth them, and speaketh unto their heart.

22 And Joseph dwelleth in Egypt, he and the house of his father, and Joseph liveth a hundred and ten years,

23 and Joseph looketh on Ephraim’s sons of the third [generation]; sons also of Machir, son of Manasseh, have been born on the knees of Joseph.

24 And Joseph saith unto his brethren, `I am dying, and God doth certainly inspect you, and hath caused you to go up from this land, unto the land which He hath sworn to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.’

25 And Joseph causeth the sons of Israel to swear, saying, `God doth certainly inspect you, and ye have brought up my bones from this [place].’

26 And Joseph dieth, a son of an hundred and ten years, and they embalm him, and he is put into a coffin in Egypt.

The Magical Posdiction Powers of Nostradumbass: Genesis 49

Jacob’s superpowers grow stronger the closer he gets to death. He’s like Superman arriving in our heliosphere. Except this story, unlike that one, is nonfictional and utterly, inerrantly true. Duh.

He starts out Chapter 49 with a humble pronouncement:

1 Be gathered together, and I declare to you that which doth happen with you in the latter end of the days.

Come here children, I’m going to tell you the future. Sounds plausible. He’s also in full Kanye mode, not only referring to himself in the third person, but by two different names. Fucking diva.

`Be assembled, and hear, sons of Jacob, And hearken unto Israel your father.

With that, he launches into a weird, artificial poetic recitation about each of his sons. I doubt a 140-something year old senile man could spontaneously spout coherent poetic verse, so it should be as obvious to everyone as it is to me that this is what is known in literary criticism as “total bullshit.” It fairly screams oral tradition written down hundreds of years later. Here’s a breakdown of the “predictions” that (A) had already happened by the time this was written down, and (2) are highly symbolic etiological representations of the political landscape contemporary with its authorship:

Reuben: You fucked my wife on my bed and couch. That’s not a prediction, just fuck you.

Simeon and Levi: You guys are violent assholes, so I am going to destroy you.

Judah: You are the shit. Keep up the good work, you fucking prince.

Zebulun: You have never figured prominently into any story so…why don’t you go to the ocean or some shit.

Issacher: You’re going to be a slave, worked like a donkey. So fuck you too.

Dan: You’re going to be the first Jewish lawyer, as sneaky as a snake.

Gad, Asher, and Naphtali: Remind me again who you are? I am a senile old fuck.

Joseph: You are still my favorite. You other brothers catch that? I still like Joseph the best. So basically, fuck all of you, I’m giving him all of my blessings.

Benjamin: I used to like you the best but that was only when I though Joseph was dead, so fuck off.

It’s a touching scene between father and son and son and stolen grandsons and son and son and son and son and son and plural wives and sex slaves. A tender family moment where the head of the family tells most of his sons that they can eat a dick because he only likes two of them. After that, the old man finally dies, but not before he gives more instructions about where he wants to be buried. Imbedded in the burial instruction is a strange milestone: the first use of the first person:

30 in the cave which [is] in the field of Machpelah, which [is] on the front of Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite for a possession of a burying-place;

31 (there they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah);

Who the fuck is I? No one to this point has claimed authorship, and the entire Bible has been in omniscient third person narration, and then the author makes his big reveal in a parenthetical. Very, very weird.

GENESIS 49

And Jacob calleth unto his sons and saith, `Be gathered together, and I declare to you that which doth happen with you in the latter end of the days.

`Be assembled, and hear, sons of Jacob, And hearken unto Israel your father.

Reuben! my first-born thou, My power, and beginning of my strength, The abundance of exaltation, And the abundance of strength;

Unstable as water, thou art not abundant; For thou hast gone up thy father’s bed; Then thou hast polluted: My couch he went up!

Simeon and Levi [are] brethren! Instruments of violence — their espousals!

Into their secret, come not, O my soul! Unto their assembly be not united, O mine honour; For in their anger they slew a man, And in their self-will eradicated a prince.

Cursed [is] their anger, for [it is] fierce, And their wrath, for [it is] sharp; I divide them in Jacob, And I scatter them in Israel.

Judah! thou — thy brethren praise thee! Thy hand [is] on the neck of thine enemies, Sons of thy father bow themselves to thee.

A lion’s whelp [is] Judah, For prey, my son, thou hast gone up; He hath bent, he hath crouched as a lion, And as a lioness; who causeth him to arise?

10 The sceptre turneth not aside from Judah, And a lawgiver from between his feet, Till his Seed come; And his [is] the obedience of peoples.

11 Binding to the vine his ass, And to the choice vine the colt of his ass, He hath washed in wine his clothing, And in the blood of grapes his covering;

12 Red [are] eyes with wine, And white [are] teeth with milk!

13 Zebulun at a haven of the seas doth dwell, And he [is] for a haven of ships; And his side [is] unto Zidon.

14 Issacher [is] a strong ass, Crouching between the two folds;

15 And he seeth rest that [it is] good, And the land that [it is] pleasant, And he inclineth his shoulder to bear, And is to tribute a servant.

16 Dan doth judge his people, As one of the tribes of Israel;

17 Dan is a serpent by the way, An adder by the path, Which is biting the horse’s heels, And its rider falleth backward.

18 For Thy salvation I have waited, Jehovah!

19 Gad! a troop assaulteth him, But he assaulteth last.

20 Out of Asher his bread [is] fat; And he giveth dainties of a king.

21 Naphtali [is] a hind sent away, Who is giving beauteous young ones.

22 Joseph [is] a fruitful son; A fruitful son by a fountain, Daughters step over the wall;

23 And embitter him — yea, they have striven, Yea, hate him do archers;

24 And his bow abideth in strength, And strengthened are the arms of his hands By the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob, Whence is a shepherd, a son of Israel.

25 By the God of thy father who helpeth thee, And the Mighty One who blesseth thee, Blessings of the heavens from above, Blessings of the deep lying under, Blessings of breasts and womb; —

26 Thy father’s blessings have been mighty Above the blessings of my progenitors, Unto the limit of the heights age-during They are for the head of Joseph, And for the crown of the one Separate [from] his brethren.

27 Benjamin! a wolf teareth; In the morning he eateth prey, And at evening he apportioneth spoil.’

28 All these [are] the twelve tribes of Israel, and this [is] that which their father hath spoken unto them, and he blesseth them; each according to his blessing he hath blessed them.

29 And he commandeth them, and saith unto them, `I am being gathered unto my people; bury me by my fathers, at the cave which [is] in the field of Ephron the Hittite;

30 in the cave which [is] in the field of Machpelah, which [is] on the front of Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite for a possession of a burying-place;

31 (there they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah);

32 the purchase of the field and of the cave which [is] in it, [is] from Sons of Heth.’

33 And Jacob finisheth commanding his sons, and gathereth up his feet unto the bed, and expireth, and is gathered unto his people.

Stupid Etiological Interlude: Genesis 48

Joseph hears that his father (who is back to being called “Jacob” after a few chapters of “Israel) is sick. He takes his sons to go visit the old man before he croaks. When he gets there, Jacob tells Joseph the “it’s not new, but it’s new to you” story about God appearing to him and telling him that Canaan is his land and that they will have lots of babies there. Every dying father for the last half-dozen generations has bragged about this covenant from God. Conveniently, God never constrained himself to any timetable for fulfilling his side of the covenant, so everyone just assumes it was meant for the next generation. It reminds me of another unfulfilled promise that keeps getting passed further and further down the line, you know, the one about that Jesus guy coming back to Earth…
Jacob’s deathbed blessing takes the weird turn then, as he channels Yoda and lays claim to Joseph’s children:

`And now, thy two sons, who are born to thee in the land of Egypt, before my coming unto thee to Egypt, mine they [are]; Ephraim and Manasseh, as Reuben and Simeon they are mine;

I read the “mine, they are” part in Yoda’s voice. You should too. I wasn’t immediately clear on why the dying old man would start stealing children he has only barely met, so I sought Kugel’s take on the story, from How to Read the Bible. He concludes that it is:

a mid-course correction in Israel’s list of tribes. The idea that there were precisely twelve tribes seems to have become, at an early stage, a fixity; it could not be changed. But reality changed. At one point Levi was apparently a tribe like any other, and it may well have had its own tribal land. Later, however, this tribe became essentially landless; the Levites became a scattered people of priests and other religious functionaries. Simeon, too, appears to have disappeared. So what was to become of the number twelve? To compensate for at least one of these absences, the territory elsewhere attributed to a single ancestor figure, Joseph–a territory that included the lands called “Ephraim” and “Manasseh”–was counted as two territories, each with its own ancestor figures.

So, basically, that weirdness has etiological roots, like much of the weirdness we have encountered so far. I don’t know about you, but that’s what I look for in my foundational religious books: falsities inserted retroactively to explain the political landscape of some tribesman a couple thousand years ago.

This is followed by another chunk of repetitive etiological weirdness. Jacob (who is now back to being called Israel) wants to bless Joseph’s children, and places his right hand on the younger son Ephraim and his left hand on the older son Manasseh. Joseph assumes this is a mistake due to the old man’s blindness and tries to correct him, but Jacob holds fast, saying:

`I have known, my son, I have known; he also becometh a people, and he also is great, and yet, his young brother is greater than he, and his seed is the fulness of the nations;’

You don’t have to look too hard to see that that is metaphorical; it helps that the story makes absolutely no fucking sense on a superficial narrative level. Five seconds earlier Jacob didn’t know who these children were, and now he magically knows their future life trajectory. He’s been imbued with those mystical powers dying old men get in the Bible to prophesy things that have already happened by the time the story was actually written. It’s just getting annoying now how hard they’re trying to sell the vaticinium ex eventu. Their insistence on having contemporary affairs tied to ancient roots also creates a confusing, divergent theology. We are supposed to believe that Jehovah is the only supernatural being, and He is in control of the Israelites’ fate, but then he disappears for chapters on end while superstitious, pagan notions take over and the story is driven by supernaturally prescient old men and sages that can discern the future from dreams.

The chapter ends on an anticlimactic note, with the old man ailing but still alive, just throwing around blessings and abducting children indiscriminately.

Candy in my van, I have.

Candy in my van, I have.

GENESIS 48

1 And it cometh to pass, after these things, that [one] saith to Joseph, `Lo, thy father is sick;’ and he taketh his two sons with him, Manasseh and Ephraim.

And [one] declareth to Jacob, and saith, `Lo, thy son Joseph is coming unto thee;’ and Israel doth strengthen himself, and sit upon the bed.

And Jacob saith unto Joseph, `God Almighty hath appeared unto me, in Luz, in the land of Canaan, and blesseth me,

and saith unto me, Lo, I am making thee fruitful, and have multiplied thee, and given thee for an assembly of peoples, and given this land to thy seed after thee, a possession age-during.

`And now, thy two sons, who are born to thee in the land of Egypt, before my coming unto thee to Egypt, mine they [are]; Ephraim and Manasseh, as Reuben and Simeon they are mine;

and thy family which thou hast begotten after them are thine; by the name of their brethren they are called in their inheritance.

`And I — in my coming in from Padan-[Aram] Rachel hath died by me in the land of Canaan, in the way, while yet a kibrath of land to enter Ephrata, and I bury her there in the way of Ephrata, which [is] Bethlehem.’

And Israel seeth the sons of Joseph, and saith, `Who [are] these?’

and Joseph saith unto his father, `They [are] my sons, whom God hath given to me in this [place];’ and he saith, `Bring them, I pray thee, unto me, and I bless them.’

10 And the eyes of Israel have been heavy from age, he is unable to see; and he bringeth them nigh unto him, and he kisseth them, and cleaveth to them;

11 and Israel saith unto Joseph, `To see thy face I had not thought, and lo, God hath shewed me also thy seed.’

12 And Joseph bringeth them out from between his knees, and boweth himself on his face to the earth;

13 and Joseph taketh them both, Ephraim in his right hand towards Israel’s left, and Manasseh in his left towards Israel’s right, and bringeth [them] nigh to him.

14 And Israel putteth out his right hand, and placeth [it] upon the head of Ephraim, who [is] the younger, and his left hand upon the head of Manasseh; he hath guided his hands wisely, for Manasseh [is] the first-born.

15 And he blesseth Joseph, and saith, `God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked habitually: God who is feeding me from my being unto this day:

16 the Messenger who is redeeming me from all evil doth bless the youths, and my name is called upon them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and they increase into a multitude in the midst of the land.’

17 And Joseph seeth that his father setteth his right hand on the head of Ephraim, and it is wrong in his eyes, and he supporteth the hand of his father to turn it aside from off the head of Ephraim to the head of Manasseh;

18 and Joseph saith unto his father, `Not so, my father, for this [is] the first-born; set thy right hand on his head.’

19 And his father refuseth, and saith, `I have known, my son, I have known; he also becometh a people, and he also is great, and yet, his young brother is greater than he, and his seed is the fulness of the nations;’

20 and he blesseth them in that day, saying, `By thee doth Israel bless, saying, God set thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh;’ and he setteth Ephraim before Manasseh.

21 And Israel saith unto Joseph, `Lo, I am dying, and God hath been with you, and hath brought you back unto the land of your fathers;

22 and I — I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I have taken out of the hand of the Amorite by my sword and by my bow.’

Joseph: Valedictorian at the Dick Cheney School of Governance: Genesis 47

Chapter 47 begins where 46 left off, with Joseph presenting his family to Pharaoh. For some reason, he picks only five of them, and they don’t specify which five he chooses. Pharaoh asks them what they do, and they answer according to their coaching by Joseph, that they are shepherds and they would like to settle in Goshen. Pharaoh gives the OK and says they can watch his cows too.

The contrast between Pharaoh, who welcomes these foreigners with open arms, and the paranoid xenophobia of the Israelites is notable. Pharaoh invites them to enjoy the best his land has to offer, and offers them the use of fertile pastures during a famine when he could easily deny them access to his limited resources. We have never seen any of the protagonists act nearly as generously, even with their own families, let alone foreign strangers. On the contrary, every paterfamilias all the way back to Cain has preached skepticism or outright hostility to neighbors and has put strong proscriptions in place against intermarriage or fraternization. Likewise, the mighty Jehovah has demanded that his people stay separate and isolated from their neighbors…except when he’s commanding them to go into their cities to commit genocide.

Jacob and Pharaoh talk for a bit, and Jacob acts like a fucking asshole. Pharaoh asks him how old he is and Jacob responds:

9 `The days of the years of my sojournings [are] an hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not reached the days of the years of the life of my fathers, in the days of their sojournings.’

The king of Egypt himself, who has just offered your family a safe and bountiful new home, politely asks you how old you are, and you answer “Life’s a bitch and then you die.” And the motherfucker complains about “only” reaching 130 years of age. You’re not going to find a lot of sympathy for that one, you ancient fuck.

Jacob and his family settle down and try to ride out the rest of the famine. Meanwhile, Joseph is acting like the coldest profiteer in the universe. As people begin starving to death in Egypt, he tells them to bring him their silver to buy corn. When they run out of silver, he takes their cows and horses. When they run out of livestock, he takes their land. I guess we’re supposed to respect him for his “cleverness and resourcefulness,” not consider him to be a greedy, selfish, opportunistic cunt. He took advantage of the desperation of starving people to increase his personal wealth and standing in Pharaoh’s court. He made them choose between starvation and enslavement:

20And Joseph buyeth all the ground of Egypt for Pharaoh, for the Egyptians have sold each his field, for the famine hath been severe upon them, and the land becometh Pharaoh’s;

21 as to the people he hath removed them to cities from the [one] end of the border of Egypt even unto its [other] end.

That’s some Halliburton shit right there. Cold as ice.

Apparently, despite the famine, Jacob and his family thrive in Goshen and “multiply exceedingly.” Congratu-fucking-lations. Flash forward seventeen years, and Jacob is ready to die. Despite the fact that his life was incredibly shitty in Canaan and exceedingly fruitful in Egypt, he begs Joseph not to bury him in Egypt. Then we’re left hanging again, with the old man clinging to life and extracting oaths from his family to bring his old dead ass back to the shitty place he came from.

GENESIS 47

1 And Joseph cometh, and declareth to Pharaoh, and saith, `My father, and my brethren, and their flock, and their herd, and all they have, have come from the land of Canaan, and lo, they [are] in the land of Goshen.’

And out of his brethren he hath taken five men, and setteth them before Pharaoh;

and Pharaoh saith unto his brethren, `What [are] your works?’ and they say unto Pharaoh, `Thy servants [are] feeders of a flock, both we and our fathers;’

and they say unto Pharaoh, `To sojourn in the land we have come, for there is no pasture for the flock which thy servants have, for grievous [is] the famine in the land of Canaan; and now, let thy servants, we pray thee, dwell in the land of Goshen.’

And Pharaoh speaketh unto Joseph, saying, `Thy father and thy brethren have come unto thee:

the land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land cause thy father and thy brethren to dwell — they dwell in the land of Goshen, and if thou hast known, and there are among them men of ability, then thou hast set them heads over the cattle I have.’

And Joseph bringeth in Jacob his father, and causeth him to stand before Pharaoh; and Jacob blesseth Pharaoh.

And Pharaoh saith unto Jacob, `How many [are] the days of the years of thy life?’

And Jacob saith unto Pharaoh, `The days of the years of my sojournings [are] an hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not reached the days of the years of the life of my fathers, in the days of their sojournings.’

10 And Jacob blesseth Pharaoh, and goeth out from before Pharaoh.

11 And Joseph settleth his father and his brethren, and giveth to them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh commanded;

12 and Joseph nourisheth his father, and his brethren, and all the house of his father [with] bread, according to the mouth of the infants.

13 And there is no bread in all the land, for the famine [is] very grievous, and the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan are feeble because of the famine;

14 and Joseph gathereth all the silver that is found in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, for the corn that they are buying, and Joseph bringeth the silver into the house of Pharaoh.

15 And the silver is consumed out of the land of Egypt, and out of the land of Canaan, and all the Egyptians come in unto Joseph, saying, `Give to us bread — why do we die before thee, though the money hath ceased?’

16 and Joseph saith, `Give your cattle; and I give to you for your cattle, if the money hath ceased.’

17 And they bring in their cattle unto Joseph, and Joseph giveth to them bread, for the horses, and for the cattle of the flock, and for the cattle of the herd, and for the asses; and he tendeth them with bread, for all their cattle, during that year.

18 And that year is finished, and they come in unto him on the second year, and say to him, `We do not hide from my lord, that since the money hath been finished, and possession of the cattle [is] unto my lord, there hath not been left before my lord save our bodies, and our ground;

19 why do we die before thine eyes, both we and our ground? buy us and our ground for bread, and we and our ground are servants to Pharaoh; and give seed, and we live, and die not, and the ground is not desolate.’

20 And Joseph buyeth all the ground of Egypt for Pharaoh, for the Egyptians have sold each his field, for the famine hath been severe upon them, and the land becometh Pharaoh’s;

21 as to the people he hath removed them to cities from the [one] end of the border of Egypt even unto its [other] end.

22 Only the ground of the priests he hath not bought, for the priests have a portion from Pharaoh, and they have eaten their portion which Pharaoh hath given to them, therefore they have not sold their ground.

23 And Joseph saith unto the people, `Lo, I have bought you to-day and your ground for Pharaoh; lo, seed for you, and ye have sown the ground,

24 and it hath come to pass in the increases, that ye have given a fifth to Pharaoh, and four of the parts are for yourselves, for seed of the field, and for your food, and for those who [are] in your houses, and for food for your infants.’

25 And they say, `Thou hast revived us; we find grace in the eyes of my lord, and have been servants to Pharaoh;’

26 and Joseph setteth it for a statute unto this day, concerning the ground of Egypt, [that] Pharaoh hath a fifth; only the ground of the priests alone hath not become Pharaoh’s.

27 And Israel dwelleth in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen, and they have possession in it, and are fruitful, and multiply exceedingly;

28 and Jacob liveth in the land of Egypt seventeen years, and the days of Jacob, the years of his life, are an hundred and forty and seven years.

29 And the days of Israel are near to die, and he calleth for his son, for Joseph, and saith to him, `If, I pray thee, I have found grace in thine eyes, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and thou hast done with me kindness and truth; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt,

30 and I have lain with my fathers, and thou hast borne me out of Egypt, and buried me in their burying-place.’ And he saith, `I — I do according to thy word;’

31 and he saith, `Swear to me;’ and he sweareth to him, and Israel boweth himself on the head of the bed.

1-2 Jahweh’s Coming for You. 3-4 Better Lock your Door: Genesis 46

Jacob starts traveling toward Goshen and stops in Beer-Sheba, where he makes sacrifices “to the God of his father Isaac.” I still find it strange that these people don’t consider God their God except by reference to their progenitors. It’s an impersonal and nepotistic brand of religiosity. They don’t seem to have any reason to follow this particular deity except that their fathers did. Moreover, it’s mutual. God doesn’t have any connection with Jacob except through his father Isaac.

and God speaketh to Israel in visions of the night, and saith, `Jacob, Jacob;’ and he saith, `Here [am] I.’

And He saith, `I [am] God, God of thy father, be not afraid of going down to Egypt, for for a great nation I set thee there;

God’s method and manner of communicating with Jacob raises even more questions. On the threshold, there’s the question of why God needs to identify himself. Is he unrecognizable? Does he have to distinguish himself from other Gods that might be speaking to Jacob? If he is the one and only deity, why does he have to identify himself as Isaac’s God to avoid confusion? And why is he now speaking only in dreams and nocturnal visions? There is absolutely no explanation for why somewhere in the middle of Genesis he transmogrified from a quasi-corporeal hangaround into Freddie fucking Krueger.

Also, this “God” character is clearly just reacting to shit that he obviously cannot control. After telling Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and anyone else who would listen that he set aside some really great land for them in Canaan, Canaan ends up being so profoundly shitty that they will literally die if they stay there. When Jacob made up his mind to go to Egypt to survive, God  says “oh, you know, I have a great idea, you should go to Egypt! I made THAT happen for you. You’re welcome.”

After Jacob wakes up from his dream where God takes unjustified credit for Plan B, they continue on their way, and we get a long roster of names of Jacob’s family members who accompany him. A loooong list. Almost 70 people, most of whom sound like Tolkien elves. They have a joyful reunion in Goshen where….Joseph weeps on Jacob/Israel’s neck.  Instead of ending on that note, the chapter ends with a strange rehearsal of what the brothers must say to Pharaoh in order to be permitted to stay in Goshen. They are to tell him that they are shepherds, because shepherds are considered abominations in Egypt, which is why they will be allowed to stay there. O…K…? Let’s not think about that one too much and just assume it has some etiological significance that I don’t give a shit about.

GENESIS 46

1 And Israel journeyeth, and all that he hath, and cometh in to Beer-Sheba, and sacrificeth sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac;

and God speaketh to Israel in visions of the night, and saith, `Jacob, Jacob;’ and he saith, `Here [am] I.’

And He saith, `I [am] God, God of thy father, be not afraid of going down to Egypt, for for a great nation I set thee there;

I — I go down with thee to Egypt, and I — I also certainly bring thee up, and Joseph doth put his hand on thine eyes.’

And Jacob riseth from Beer-Sheba, and the sons of Israel bear away Jacob their father, And their infants, and their wives, in the waggons which Pharaoh hath sent to bear him,

and they take their cattle, and their goods which they have acquired in the land of Canaan, and come into Egypt — Jacob, and all his seed with him,

his sons, and his sons’ sons with him, his daughters, and his sons’ daughters, yea, all his seed he brought with him into Egypt.

And these [are] the names of the sons of Israel who are coming into Egypt: Jacob and his sons, Jacob’s first-born, Reuben.

And sons of Reuben: Hanoch, and Phallu, and Hezron, and Carmi.

10 And sons of Simeon: Jemuel, and Jamin, and Ohad, and Jachin, and Zohar, and Shaul son of the Canaanitess.

11 And sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.

12 And sons of Judah: Er, and Onan, and Shelah, and Pharez, and Zarah, (and Er and Onan die in the land of Canaan.) And sons of Pharez are Hezron and Hamul.

13 And sons of Issachar: Tola, and Phuvah, and Job, and Shimron.

14 And sons of Zebulun: Sered, and Elon, and Jahleel.

15 These [are] sons of Leah whom she bare to Jacob in Padan-Aram, and Dinah his daughter; all the persons of his sons and his daughters [are] thirty and three.

16 And sons of Gad: Ziphion, and Haggi, Shuni, and Ezbon, Eri, and Arodi, and Areli.

17 And sons of Asher: Jimnah, and Ishuah, and Isui, and Beriah, and Serah their sister. And sons of Beriah: Heber and Malchiel.

18 These [are] sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter, and she beareth these to Jacob — sixteen persons.

19 Sons of Rachel, Jacob’s wife: Joseph and Benjamin.

20 And born to Joseph in the land of Egypt (whom Asenath daughter of Poti-Pherah, priest of On, hath borne to him) [are] Manasseh and Ephraim.

21 And sons of Benjamin: Belah, and Becher, and Ashbel, Gera, and Naaman, Ehi, and Rosh, Muppim, and Huppim, and Ard.

22 These [are] sons of Rachel, who were born to Jacob; all the persons [are] fourteen.

23 And sons of Dan: Hushim.

24 And sons of Naphtali: Jahzeel, and Guni, and Jezer, and Shillem.

25 These [are] sons of Bilhah, whom Laban gave to Rachel his daughter; and she beareth these to Jacob — all the persons [are] seven.

26 All the persons who are coming to Jacob to Egypt, coming out of his thigh, apart from the wives of Jacob’s sons, all the persons [are] sixty and six.

27 And the sons of Joseph who have been born to him in Egypt [are] two persons. All the persons of the house of Jacob who are coming into Egypt [are] seventy.

28 And Judah he hath sent before him unto Joseph, to direct before him to Goshen, and they come into the land of Goshen;

29 and Joseph harnesseth his chariot, and goeth up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and appeareth unto him, and falleth on his neck, and weepeth on his neck again;

30 and Israel saith unto Joseph, `Let me die this time, after my seeing thy face, for thou [art] yet alive.’

31 And Joseph saith unto his brethren, and unto the house of his father, `I go up, and declare to Pharaoh, and say unto him, My brethren, and the house of my father who [are] in the land of Canaan have come in unto me;

32 and the men [are] feeders of a flock, for they have been men of cattle; and their flock, and their herd, and all that they have, they have brought.’

33 `And it hath come to pass when Pharaoh calleth for you, and hath said, What [are] your works?

34 that ye have said, Thy servants have been men of cattle from our youth, even until now, both we and our fathers, — in order that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen, for the abomination of the Egyptians is every one feeding a flock.’