I couldn’t come up with an appropriate title for this post since as you’ll realize it deals with several things. They are basically as random as they always have been when they come from me.
Friends, I have been meaning to continue with the journey through Exodus but have been quite busy the past few days. What with spending several hours at my barber for a shave, manicure/ pedicure, yes, don’t roll your eyes looking at me; site visits out-of-town; meeting deadlines at work [why do deadlines sometimes all arrive at the same time?]; visiting my brother; and reading some very interesting novels but I promise we will get on it very soon.
Our friends in NYC have been hit by a bad storm, I hear some of the Christian Right see it as an act of a god, their god, to what end I don’t know unless they mean their god is so destructive and lacks any sense of mercy, justice and decency! This a god who behaves like our city council askaris[guards] and their bulldozers who show up at night to flatten kiosks without any mercy or consideration to the people who depend on them[kiosks] for their livelihood.
I finished reading God’s problem: How the bible fails to answer our most important question– why we sufferby Bart Ehrman where he discusses the issue of suffering and with the storm in NYC
Hurricane sandy in NYC
, I think we can have some perspective. What would god be doing causing so much destruction to property and leading to loss of lives? Does such a god deserve to be worshiped or rebelled against? Your take!
And while we wait, let us just sit back and listen to a priest who shares my view on hell and why the religious [the church in particular] insists that it exists.
As god and immortality do not exist, the new man is permitted to become god.
from Brothers Karamozov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The unity of the world which was not achieved with god will henceforth be attempted in defiance of god
from God and the Devil are Fighting: The Scandal of Evil in Dostoyevsky and Camus
Before we look at the final chapter of Genesis, I want first to thank you for your readership, insights and comments that have made this a worthwhile exercise. It is my hope that we have all learnt something new or received a different insight to the ones we have always held. In summary this journey started with creation of man, then the fall of man, Noah’s ark, debasement of Lot by his daughters and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the stories of Abe’s family and his trysts to the sons Esau and Jacob and finally to Joseph who brings the family into Egypt where Israel will be slaves for sometime as we shall see. This therefore is the first Israelite march to slavery from where El will save them, one wonders why he didn’t just prevent it from happening in the first place?
In this chapter, we have two deaths, the first of Jacob and the next Joseph, before we come to that however let us look at the chapter in detail; shall we?
Death in the family
Joseph mourns his father together with his brothers and ends up dying too. I think the grief was beyond him to bear. He orders his physicians [I didn’t know there were] to prepare the body for burial and then spend 40 days[what is it about the scribes and numbers?] embalming[what were they doing embalming for 40 days?] begs leave of Pharaoh to go bury his old man and he is given chariots, all the elders of Egypt go with him; it was such a serious funeral those on the side of the Jordan felt it was a great wailing for Egypt and the burial site got a name, Abel-mizraim.
The brothers are worried that now with their father dead, Joseph may just want to exact his revenge. He reassures them all is well, promises to take care of them, feed them and ensure their security as long as he lives. He tells them it was god’s will all along anyway so they are blameless in the matter. How easy do they get off?
How long is a generation? If Joseph lives to see 3 generations of Manasseh and dies at 110, when did Manasseh have his first sons or daughters ? Just as his father before him, he asks that when he expires, his bones be taken to the land of his fathers and then quits at the ripe age of 110 years. He is embalmed and put in a coffin and with that, the first chapter takes a bow.
The death of Joseph by Giovanni Battista Pittoni
Jacob’s last will and testament
The previous chapter ends with the old man approaching expiry and giving instructions of where he wants to be buried after blessing the two sons of David, I don’t know why the daughters are not included among those to be blessed, we will come to that someday ladies! Somehow the dying old man still has energy and a few blessings left to give before he expires and so summons all the sons for a last reading of his will. I think he didn’t want it contested in future.
If you think he is going to bless them or divide his property among them you are mistaken; he reads what looks like a riot act, blessing Joseph and his brother Benjamin, cursing others such as Reuben at the same time painting a royal future for the family of Judah, judges for the family of Dan, Naphtali’s line will be poets or orators, your take, and so the reading goes.
Jake/ Israel has 12 sons, how they become to represent a whole people still passes me and I am going to need quite some help here. If they are brothers[Jake] with Esau, are Esau’s kids also Israelites and what about their relatives? Do they represent different tribes or does each family represent a distinct tribe? And why all this favoritism, who was the audience to the scribes, I don’t think it was us!
His last act is to instruct his sons on where he is to be buried and quits. What a way to quit!
Israel’s Last Days
In the previous chapter, the family of Jacob/Israel, the Egyptian families have all been sold to slavery so they can work for their food since the cereals that had been stored at the beginning of the fine are depleted. I don’t know if the had more grain reserves but this will be a matter of another day.
This chapter starts with a dying Jake. Joseph comes to visit his father accompanied by his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh [I will have to find out how many children he had]. This episode is quite interesting to say the least, when Joseph arrives, the old man has to be notified[I think he has lost vision] but a few verses later he sees Joseph’s sons! He then asks to bless the boys, so Joseph presents then, Manasseh to the right and Ephraim to the left, the eldest and the youngest consecutively, but he is displeased with his old man who crosses his hands such that his right hand is on Ephraim. I don’t understand this thing with right hands anyway!
Jacob blesses sons of Jose. Painting attributed to Nicolo Bambini
As it was with Cain and Abel, then Esau and Jacob, so it is here where there is preferential treatment; Jake tells Manasseh his younger brother shall be greater than he. Now apart from instilling hatred at such a young age, how did this senile old man know what would happen in future?
The chapter ends with the old man telling Joseph of his imminent death and reminds him El will be faithful and get him and his family out of Egypt to a land parcel the old man had bought earlier. Just one last remark, I don’t remember blessing his other sons or grandchildren? Why just Joseph’s children?