Monday, May 9, 2011

Genesis 12

This chapter starts out with god telling Abram to leave behind his life in return for basically founding a "great nation." There's no reason given for this, either. At least with Noah, they mention that he was righteous and everything. The impression here is that god just kind of randomly said "!"

So Abram and his wife (Sarai, remember) and his nephew Lot pack up their things and head off to Canaan. A litany of forgettable place names follow, but the gist is that god promises Canaan to Abram's descendents.

However, for now the place is full of Canaanites, so Abram and his people just settle down minding their own business until there is a famine. There was so little food that Abram had to go down to Egypt to try and feed everyone. He comes up with a pretty genius plan before they get there—since Sarai is so beautiful, they'll kill him if they know she's his wife. So they'll just tell everyone they're brother and sister! There is no way this plan goes wrong.

Except, of course, that it does. Sarai is so beautiful that word gets to the pharaoh—I mean, really, are we to believe Sarai is THAT freaking hot? It's like the oldest Mary Sue.—and so he takes her for his wife and gives Abram lots of gifts. This seems like a good thing (guess Abram isn't a jealous dude), until god sends plagues on pharaoh and his household. Cause this is in any way his fault? God sure does love to play favorites—send the plagues on Abram for being a lying sack of shit, eh? Anyway. So the pharaoh figures it out and sends Sarai and Abram away.

Fairly simple chapter, but it leaves me wondering what the point of a lot of this crap is. It seems like so much filler! If I had written the bible, or been on the councils that edited it, I would definitely pare down!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Genesis 11

I don't know who decided where the chapter breaks would go in these books, but it really is poorly designed. The poor tower of Babel story gets crunched in 9 verses before yet another genealogy list that drones on for 23 verses.

Anyway, the story of Babel is pretty straightforward. The "whole earth" (so far, the only impression given is the "whole fertile crescent," shockingly enough) spoke one language, and so they decided to get together and build a huge tower with "its top in the heavens." God, of course, wasn't too pleased with this. I don't know why—if we haven't got to heaven with spacecraft, it hardly seems like a tower had any chance of it—but god isn't particularly logical so far. So god gives them a bunch of different languages and scatters them all over. Interesting that the languages he made them were so conveniently and logically interconnected based on where he scattered them to. Also, one has to wonder again about god's so-called omniscience. He didn't see from the start that there should be different languages? He didn't know they were going to build Babel? Why is this "omniscient" god acting as if he's surprised by humanity's wacky antics, like some bad sitcom?

That's all there is to Babel. Short and sweet explanation about why we have different languages. Again, fulfilling a mythical function to a people who didn't understand the way languages were interconnected and evolved.

From here on, it's more "son of son of" stuff. We get a recap again on Shem's descendants, even thought we just heard that in the previous chapter! The line is traced all the way from Shem to Abram and Lot, who will soon feature more prominently. Interestingly enough, the men are having their sons earlier and living shorter every generation. It starts with Shem having Arpachshad at 100 and living to be 600 and ends with Nahor having Terah at 29 and living to be 148. There is no explanation given for this, which seems odd to me.

We finish off the exciting genealogy with a mess of a family—Terah is the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Abram is married to Sarai and Nahor to Milcah. It seems to me that Milcah is Haran's daughter, but to be honest I'm a little confused. I read verse 29b like five times and still have no idea what they're trying to say: "Nahor's wife was Milcah. She was the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah." I think they need more commas!

So Haran—who is dead at this point—has a son Lot. Terah, Abram, Sarai, and Lot set out to Canaan but end up settling in Haran (I can only guess they named the place after they got there, or that's a pretty big coincidence!) instead. This is where the chapter ends—perfect set up and hook for Genesis 12!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Genesis 10

Another chapter devoted to an endless list of difficult names and family relations! Good thing we have all this stuff written down and sold around the world more than 100 million times every year, or how would I ever know that Togarmah was the son of Gomer, who was himself the son of Japheth (who was one of Noah's sons, if you can't remember, which would hardly be surprising at this point).

One random descendant who gets special attention is Nimrod (ha!), son of Cush, son of Ham. He was "the first on earth to become a mighty warrior." Given that, by this point, it's already been hundreds or thousands of years, I'd bet that there have been some mighty warriors. Mankind is good at nothing if not trying to kill each other! Apparently Nimrod was the original badass, though. "Therefore it is said, 'Like Nimrod a might hunter before the Lord.'" Sounds to me like nothing more than an explanation for a pithy statement of the time. Weird to get a mention like that.

Nimrod's kingdom included Shinar (Babel, Erech, Accad), and Assyria (Nineveh, Rehobothir, Calah, Resen). Canaan has a bunch of sons and they spread out from Sidon to Gaza, "in the direction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim," whatever that means. Shem's brood takes over from Mesha to Sephar. Spoiler alert: Some of these places might be important later!

And that's it. Thrilling chapter, wrapped up with this gem of a line: "From these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood."

So yes. All 7 billion people on this planet are descended from Noah, whose sons established some nations all in the same vicinity. Not to mention that all of them were originally descended from one couple and the incestuous genealogy that followed. I don't know much about genetics, but I know enough to know that is complete BS.

Long Time No See!

Phew. Can't believe it's been over a year since I've updated. It's positively shameful, and I'm sure I've probably lost the few readers I had. My sincere apologies! Life has been life, and for a long time I wasn't sure I would ever take this up again.

But! Here I am, ready to blog! Lovely San Diego is now lovely Charleston, lovely husband is now estranged husband, but the crazy-ass Bible is still the crazy-ass Bible. =)

Now where was I...