Hail Mary Passover

 

Get it? Get it?! It’s a pun!

Anyway, this is exciting! I’m kind of glad I got so off-track with my thesis because now I’m on Matthew 26 and Jesus is about to celebrate Passover, just like me! Except Jesus is going to actually talk about God at his seder and also he is going to be betrayed and die. Whereas I will be going to the Harvard Secular Society’s seder, for which we are currently in the process of constructing a Haggadah which is, to say the least, a bit unorthodox. I can’t say for sure how much our Haggadah overlaps with his, but I am guessing that the Haggadah Jesus used contained exactly zero Gil Scott-Heron material. Also, I think we are probably going to make vegetarian matzo ball soup, which would probably make Moses roll in his sandy grave until he made pearls. Oh, and I don’t think there will be any lethal betrayal at our secular seder.

So! Let the passing over begin!

Matthew 26-28

Matthew 26

Jesus tells his disciples that Passover is two days away [JUST LIKE FOR ME RIGHT NOW] and he is going to be crucified. Meanwhile, a bunch of priests and elders plot to kill Jesus, but they decide to wait till after Passover so the people don’t get upset. A woman comes to Jesus and pours a container of really expensive perfume on him for no apparent reason. The disciples are like, “wtf, lady? you could have sold that and donated the money to the poor!” But Jesus is like “no it’s all good, she’s just preparing me to be buried.” Because it’s more important that dead people smell like flowers while they decompose than that poor alive people get food. Biblical ethics FTW once again!

Judas Iscariot goes to the scheming priests and asks what they’d pay him to betray Jesus; they give him thirty pieces of silver and he’s satisfied. Jesus sends his disciples to set up the seder at a local dude’s house. During the festive meal, when they’re all celebrating, Jesus decides to be a total buzzkill by announcing that one of them is going to betray him. He warns that the betrayer is going to wish he’d never been born. Each disciple asks if he’s the one who will do it, and when Judas asks, Jesus answers – according to this translation – “You said it” (25).

Jesus blesses bread, gives a piece to everyone, and says, “Take and eat. This is my body” (26). Then, as you can probably predict, he passes around the wine and says, “Drink from this, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many so that their sins may be forgiven.” Everyone sings happy songs and then goes to the Mount of Olives – which, you may remember, is definitely a reference to a take-out restaurant in my hometown. Jesus warns everyone that shit is about to get real. Peter is like “I will stick with you even while the shit gets real!” And Jesus is like “You say that now, but you’re going to deny me three times before the rooster crows.” And Peter is like “Nuh-uh!” but my money is on Jesus because he is God and all.

Next, Jesus goes to the garden of Gethsemane, partly to pray, but mostly to taunt me because “gethsemane” was the word that eliminated me from the freshman spelling bee because this was before I decided to start a ridiculous Bible blog. He tells his disciples, “I’m very sad. It’s as if I’m dying” (38), which is not very surprising since he has made it very clear that he knows he is about to die. In all fairness, though, this is one of the most moving parts of the whole Jesus story. Jesus prays to God, but God doesn’t answer him. He says he would really rather not go through with this whole thing, but that he will do whatever he must. Eventually Judas comes over with an armed mob in tow and shows them which one Jesus is by kissing him. (Sorry to ruin the moment, but don’t they all already know who Jesus is because he’s been running around healing lepers and walking on water? What new information does Judas really provide here? I’m not sure the betrayal is necessary for the arrest and crucifixion. Can anybody clear this up for me?)

Anyway, Jesus is a stoic badass about the whole thing, and tells Judas, “Friend, do what you came to do” (50). One of the other disciples tries to defend Jesus by hacking off a priest’s ear with a sword, but Jesus tells him to cool it because “All those who use the sword will die by the sword” (52). Wait a minute. Remember back in chapter 10, when Jesus said that he hadn’t come to bring peace, but a sword? What happened to that? Is this one of those “do what I say, not what I do” things? I think I’m going to have to call bullshit on this one.

Jesus gets put on trial before Caiaphas, the high priest. People give false testimony against Jesus, but he stays silent instead of defending himself. Caiaphas asks him if he is “the Christ, God’s Son” (63), and Jesus again responds, “You said it” (64). He also says people are going to see the Human One sitting next to God in the clouds, and the priest flips a shit and tears his clothes off and yells that Jesus has insulted God, and then the crowd gets worked up into a frenzy and spits on Jesus and beats him.

Meanwhile, Peter has been chilling outside while all this is going down. Three different people come up to him successively and say they think he’s with Jesus, and every time, Peter is like “Nope, I don’t know that guy.” Then a rooster crows and Peter remembers what Jesus said, and he bursts into tears.

Matthew 27

In the morning, the trial people decide Jesus should be executed, and they turn him over to Pilate. When Judas hears this, he feels bad and tries to return the blood money, but the priests won’t have it, so he throws the money into the temple and goes away to hang himself. The priests can’t put the money in the treasury because it’s unclean blood money, so they use it to buy some spare cemetery space for strangers.

Meanwhile, Jesus is being interrogated by Pilate. When Pilate asks if he’s the king of the Jews, Jesus responds, “That’s what you say” (11). I’m waiting for him to go for “I know you are, but what am I?” Maybe that’s in the Gospel of John. Anyway, Pilate asks some more questions and Jesus stays silent.

Now, Pilate has the opportunity to release one prisoner because it’s a holiday. He wants to release Jesus because he knows the priests only went after him out of jealousy, and because his wife had some bad dreams about killing Jesus. But when he asks the crowd whom to release, they clamor for Barabbas, another prisoner. Pilate relents and releases Barabbas, and washes his hands in front of the crowd in order to show that Jesus’s blood is not on his hands. Then he has Jesus whipped and sends him to be crucified, which sort of negates the whole hand-washing charade.

Some soldiers mock Jesus for a while, dressing him up in military uniform, putting a crown of thorns on his head, spitting on him, etc. On the way, some people try to give him vinegar and wine to drink. After some more torments, Jesus is eventually crucified in between two outlaws. Passersby and priests and so on keep insulting Jesus while he hangs on the cross. Even the two outlaws on the neighboring crosses join in the teasing, which I find a hilariously surreal image.

The whole earth goes dark for three hours. At 3 pm, Jesus yells “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (This translation has “left” – verse 46 – but it’s so much less poetic.) One guy offers Jesus a vinegar-soaked sponge to drink from, but everyone else keeps teasing him. Why do people keep trying to give him vinegar instead of water? Earlier it seemed like a deliberate taunt, but in this case I thought the guy with the sponge was genuinely trying to be nice. Maybe not? In any case, Jesus cries out again and then dies.

Then everything gets freaky! Earthquakes! Rockslides! Lightning! Zombies! The people guarding Jesus are like, “Oh. I guess he really was God’s son. Our bad.” Some women are watching this whole thing, which I think will become relevant later.

A guy named Joseph (not the one who was Jesus’s adopted dad, I think) asks Pilate for Jesus’s body and gets it. He wraps the body in a clean cloth and puts it in a new tomb he’s just carved out of a rock like a badass, then rolls a big rock in front of it. Mary Magdalene and another woman named Mary who was the mother of James and Joseph (a third Joseph, I think? why does everybody have the same names?) are watching in front of the tomb.

The next day, all the Pharisees and assholes remind Pilate that Jesus kept claiming he would rise three days after he was buried. So they ask for permission to seal the tomb in order to prevent Jesus’s followers from stealing the body and claiming he’d been resurrected. Pilate agrees, so the bad guys go seal the tomb and put soldiers all around to guard it so nobody can steal Jesus’s body.

Matthew 28

A few days later, the two Marys come back to check out the tomb, and an angel appears to them and rolls the boulder aside and says, “Hey ladies. I know you’re looking for Jesus, but he’s not here because he’s been resurrected just like he said. Go look at his grave for proof. Then go tells his disciples that he’s gone ahead of them to Galilee.” They go to give the message to the disciples, but they run into Jesus first and worship him, and Jesus reminds them to go tell his posse that he’s going to Galilee.

The soldiers go tell the Pharisees and all what happened, and they bribe the soldiers to tell everyone that the disciples came and stole the body. But wouldn’t they realize by now that Jesus actually is the son of God and it’s in their best interests not to fuck with him anymore?

The eleven remaining disciples go to Galilee and meet Jesus and freak out and some of them don’t believe it but he calms them down and tells them to go spread his message around the world and “make disciples of all nations” (19).

Highlights

I do think that the idea of a god who can relate to humans by having actually experienced human suffering first-hand is really appealing.

Lowlights

I’m really unclear on why Judas is even necessary to the whole story other than to make it more tragic.

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Running in Flip-Flops

NT: Matthew 25

Remember how I said we were going double-time? Then I realized that Matthew 25 has one of my favorite Bible bits ever and I would need to gush about it for a long time. Also, that it was 2:45 am. Also, that people probably don’t read my whole post when it’s four hundred pages long. (Okay, so I actually realized that a long time ago.) Since I don’t want any of you to OD on my snark, I might experiment with a modicum of self-control and try out some shorter posts for a while. This would probably mean spilling over the originally designated one-year time frame, but I’m willing to be a little bit flexible about that – but not too flexible, because part of the point of this whole thing is to bring myself (and whatever tenacious barnacles who have clung on for the ride) up to a respectable level of Biblical competency in a reasonable amount of time.

http://www.bogleech.com/nature/sessbarnacles.jpg

This is you. Look, you're kind of cute! You look sort of like pistachios. I love pistachios. It's a good thing. I promise.

What do barnacles even cling to? Whales? Ships? Whatever it is, I promise it was meant to be a compliment to you, my brave little barnacle-readers. It’s too late to back down. I’m just going to have to own this metaphor. If Lady Gaga can have Little Monsters, I can have my barnacles, dammit.

Matthew 25

We’re still talking about the kingdom of heaven, which is getting weirder and weirder. Here’s Jesus’s latest enlightening metaphor:

The kingdom of heaven is like ten bridesmaids who each have an oil lamp. Five of them are smart and have oil in their lamps, and five of them are stupid and have oilless oil lamps. The groom is going to pick them up but he’s late so they all fall asleep. When he comes, the smart ones are ready, but the dumb aren’t because they have no oil, so they ask for oil from the smart ones, but the smart ones tell the dumb ones to suck it and go buy their own damn oil. While the dumb ones are out oil-shopping, the groom leaves with the smart bitches. When the dumb ones show up to the wedding late, the groom is like, “Fuck off, I don’t know you.”

…Yeah, that sounds awesome. Sign me up.

Next:

Before a guy goes out of town, he gives some money to each of his servants, and the amount he gives him is directly correlated with how good they are at servanting. But I guess he was only giving them the money for safekeeping, because when he comes home, he demands his money back. The servants who got fives coins and two coins respectively proudly tell him that they invested it and made a profit. (It’s unclear who keeps this profit, the servants or the master.) The master congratulates them. But the servant who only got one coin reports that he buried it in the ground, and the master scolds him for being lazy. The master says that people who have much will get more and people who have little will get nothing. He banishes the lazy servant into the “darkness” where people are “weeping and grinding their teeth” (30).

Sounds like a kingdom for the 1%. No thanks!

http://aiminglow.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/scrooge_mcduck.jpg

This whole ordeal has really problematized my assumptions about Scrooge McDuck's interiority.

Also, can we please reach a verdict on the status of the whole usury thing? The master tells his “lazy” servant, “you should have turned my money over to the bankers so that when I returned, you could give me what belonged to me with interest” (27). I have always heard that usury was allowed in Judaism but forbidden in Christianity, but I discovered in my last post that Exodus 22 (in the Torah) contains a commandment forbidding usury, and now here’s Matthew 24 (in the New Testament) shaming somebody for not embracing it. Whaaat?

Who could even think of sending these adorablobs into darkness and hellfire?!

Jesus tells everyone that when the Human One returns, he will separate good from bad people like sheep from goats. The righteous will “inherit the kingdom that was prepared for [them] before the world began” and enjoy “eternal life” (34, 46), but the jerks will be sent into “the unending fire” of “eternal punishment” (41, 46). Harsh.

BUT here is also one of the most beautiful, gorgeous, inspiring parts of the Bible that I LOVE. Like, definitely more than the Beatitudes. Jesus explains to the righteous what they have done to gain entrance to the kingdom: “I was hungry and you gave me food to eat….I was a stranger and you welcomed me….I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me” (35-36). The righteous people are confused and are like, “I think I’d remember if I visited God in prison…nope, not ringing a bell. Wtf?” And Jesus responds, “I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me” (40).

YES.

YES.

YES.

So, first of all, the list of charitable acts is nice, because not only does it cover the basics (obviously it is good to feed the hungry) but also emphasizes the importance of treating the people on the margins of society with dignity and respect, even when it might make you feel uncomfortable: welcoming strangers, caring for the ill, etc. I am especially a fan of the visiting of the prisoners, because we tend to be really bad at extending sympathy and support and respect and helping hands to people who we perceive to have erred. But we all fuck up. We should be lifting those who fall down, even if we know they were running in flip-flops and kind of had it coming.

But verse 40 is even better. In fact, Matthew 25:40 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. This is one of many verses describing how strongly God identifies with humans. One of the things that’s so alluring about the Jesus story is the idea of a God who not only loved and sympathized with humanity, but actually experienced humanness firsthand, and lived as a human, and suffered as a human, and died as a human. In this instance, Jesus calls upon humans to treat each other as though every one of us was a god. Every single one. All the starving people: gods. All the orphans: gods. All the annoying old ladies: gods. All the bullies: gods. All the bullied: gods. All the prisoners: gods. All the judges: gods. All the people you disagree with: gods. All the hypocrites: gods. All the assholes: gods. You: god.

YES.

This actually reminds me a bit of Hinduism – “namaste” literally means “the divinity in me recognizes and honors the divinity in you.” I mean, the details depend on the translation, but no matter how you slice it, that is some serious syllabic-semantic economy.

Anyway. I don’t think this is necessarily the original intended meaning of the verse, but part of what I like so much about it is that it puts humanity on an equal footing with god. If you treat your fellow humans any worse than you would treat god himself, you’re not valuing them sufficiently. And this is really what Humanism means to me. I gave up theism – belief in god, love of god, awe of god – for Humanism – belief in humanity, love of humanity, awe of humanity.

Highlights

WE ARE GREAT, YOU GUYS.

I love us.

Lowlights

One important caveat to the badassery of humanity: I do think people have a tendency to be kind of speciesist about this whole thing. Homo sapiens is not the only awesome organism rocking our world. There are plenty of others who also deserve our attention, love, awe, and especially our respect. We should work on that.

The Rapture Will Not Be Televised

Cool Thing of the Day: This. Many of you know my good friend and co-blogger Walker Bristol. He works with me at both NonProphet Status and The Unelectables (which, by the way, will also be returning triumphantly pretty soon). He recently did a fantastic interview with Taylor Muse of the amazing Humanist band (yes, those exist!) Quiet Company, which was published in The New Humanist. Check it out!

NT: Matthew 24

Matthew 24

As Jesus is leaving the temple with his posse in tow, he prophesies that the whole thing will be demolished. Dun-dun-dunnn!!!

Then Jesus goes and sits on “the Mount of Olives” (3), which is almost certainly a reference to my favorite middle eastern take-out place in Evanston, Illinois. Jesus’s followers are like “So, you know all that terrible shit you keep talking about? When exactly is all that scheduled to go down? Cause I made a waxing appointment for Thursday, and it’s fine if I have to move it back, but, you know, I figured I should just check.” And Jesus is like, “James, what the fuck do you wax?” And James is like, “What? I have very expressive eyebrows! Who are you do judge me?!” And Jesus is like, “I’m fuckin’ God. It’s my job.” And James is like, “Oh. Right.”

…So.

http://www.pammybean.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/joe-swanstrom-i-survived-the-rapture-tshirt.jpg

...And all I got was this lousy t-shirt.

The disciples ask when shit’s going to get real. And Jesus is like, “A bunch of people are going to claim to be the Christ. Most of them will be lying. Don’t be fooled. There will be wars and natural disasters and people will hate you and kill you and everyone will betray each other and everything is going to generally suck. But anyone who makes it to the end gets salvation and a free t-shirt!” And everyone’s like “Oh, that sounds like a sweet deal. I’m down.”

Then Jesus warns that “When you see the disgusting and destructive thing that Daniel talked about standing in the holy place” (15), everyone has to flee to the mountains. You will not be able to stay home, brother. There will be no time to go home and pack up. Do not attempt to take your luggage with you. Put on your own mask before assisting others. Jesus suggests that people “pray that it doesn’t happen in winter or on the Sabbath day” (20). What would be so especially bad about it happening on the Sabbath? Because you wouldn’t be able to carry your children with you because you’re not allowed to carry things on the Sabbath? But I thought Jesus told people not to split hairs over that stuff if it interferes with the big picture.

Anyway, he warns again that there will be lots of false prophets, “and they will offer great signs and wonders” (24) in order to trick people. Interestingly, Jesus offers no criteria by which to differentiate himself from one of those deceivers. Hm.

http://images.wikia.com/harrypotter/images/6/6b/The_Dark_Mark_in_the_sky_over_the_Quidditch_World_Cup_campsite.jpg

The Sign of the Human One

After everyone runs away from the disgusting thing, the moon and sun will go dark (eclipse?) and stars will fall from the sky (meteor shower?) and planets will be shaken (earthquake?). Next, “the sign of the Human One will appear in the sky” (30). Then everyone will be sad and angels will come round up the faithful.

Then it’s time for a parable! We were probably overdue for one of those. When the fig tree gets leafy, you know summer is coming. Similarly, when shit gets real, you know Jesus is coming. Specifically, Jesus promises that it is happening very soon: “I assure that this generation won’t pass away until all these things happen” (34).

Um…

Mm.

I can’t help noticing that most of the people who were alive at the time that Jesus [supposedly] said that have, in fact, passed away. And by “passed away” I mean “died,” because “passed away” is a stupid euphemism that just makes it hurt worse. Sugarcoating death doesn’t help anyone. They didn’t go anywhere else. They’re not off on a vacation. They just died. </rant>

Anyway, it looks like an extremely key part of Jesus’s prediction has failed in an epic way – which should, I think, call the rest of it into question…right? Anybody know how people explain this bit away?

Jesus goes on to promise that nobody will know when he is coming. You’ll just be going about your day, running errands, when BOOM! Rapture. I guess Harold Camping and William Miller missed that part. Whoops!

To the people who believe that God is coming and who do as they’re told, God will give all his possessions. But the people who don’t believe he’s coming, and who sit around and “eat and drink with the drunks” (49), will be fucked. (Um, didn’t Jesus say a few chapters ago that he doesn’t like when people give him shit for hanging out with drunkards? Pot…kettle?) God will come around when nobody’s expecting it – BOOM! rapture – and “will cut them in pieces and put them in a place with the hypocrites. People there will be weeping and grinding their teeth” (51). Yeesh. That’s some Brothers Grimm shit.

Highlights

I’m pretty sure Walker’s interview with Taylor Muse was the only positive, life-affirming thing about this post.

Lowlights

Hypocrisy. Cutting people into pieces. Theories with poor predictive power. Four Loko chili.

Emily Dickinson > God

HEY EVERYBODY I TURNED IN THE FULL DRAFT OF MY THESIS YESTERDAY!!

This has a couple of implications.

1) I will probably graduate! It was touch and go for a while there.

2) Now I can respond to all the emails that have been languishing in my inbox for the past couple of weeks. If you’re one of those poor neglected souls, please accept my apologies.

3) It’s time to get Biblical again! This weekend, as promised, I’ll be publishing a couple of gargantuan catching-up posts. So grab some snacks or roll a joint or something, because we’re going to be here for a while.

OT: Exodus 15-19

Exodus 15

Moses & co., to celebrate the deaths of hundreds upon hundreds of their fellow human beings, sing a happy song! It goes a little something like this.

Yay! God drowned all the Egyptians!
God’s the man. He saved us. We like him.
Did I mention that he drowned all the Egyptians?
Sometimes he kills people!
He “shatters the enemy” and “burns them up like straw” (6-7)!
Isn’t that cool?
Also, he just drowned a bunch of people.
People were chasing us,
But he drowned them all.
Who else is as cool as God? Nobody!
He led us to safety.
He scared all our enemies away.
He brought us to our homeland.
He’ll rule forever.

For good measure, Miriam, Aaron’s and Moses’s sister, leads all the women in dancing and playing tambourines and singing along with the chorus (which is one of the many parts about how God just drowned a bunch of people).

The Moses leads everyone out into the desert. They go three days without finding water, which I’m pretty sure would kill them if this were real life. Then they find somewhere with water, but the water is “bitter” (23). They panic about what to drink. God shows Moses a tree, and Moses somehow intuits from this that he is supposed to throw the tree into the water. For some reason, when he does that, the water turns sweet.

http://images.cheezburger.com/completestore/2009/12/3/129043416959660646.jpgGod makes a rule that if the Israelites obey all his commandments, he won’t give them any of the diseases he tormented the Egyptians with. Isn’t that nice? Then the Israelites arrive at an oasis with exactly 12 springs and 70 palm trees, and they camp there. I’m guessing this is somehow symbolic of the fact that 70 members of Jacob’s family, including the 12 sons who founded the 12 tribes of Israel, migrated to Egypt back in the day. See? I’m paying attention.

Exodus 16

They leave the numerology oasis and relocate to the Sin desert, which is confusing because last time I checked they were nowhere near Nevada. By now they’ve been wandering in the desert for like six weeks, and everybody is yelling at Aaron and Moses, saying they were better off back in Egypt where they could sit down and cook their food like normal people and they should have look at a map before they left and we told them to pull over at the next rest stop but no they just had to wait until they got to the one with a Starbucks but here we are an hour later and we still have to pee and no Starbucks so where does that leave us? And Aaron and Moses are like well we only did this because you complained about the whole slavery thing every day so we’re doing this for you but you can’t be satisfied with anything and you were the one who wanted coffee in the first place and it’s your own fault we don’t have bread here because while we were out negotiating with Pharaoh and getting us set free your job was to pack up the food and jewelry and it certainly wasn’t us who told you wait until the last minute to make the bread and now you’re complaining because your bread is too flat and you don’t have coffee and you could feel free to take the lead any time but you’d much rather sit back and keep complaining and for god’s sake quiet down in the backseat because NO WE ARE NOT THERE YET!

http://beerstreetjournal.com/images/2011/04/Hebrew-Manna-Small.png

Yes, this actually exists.

God sees Moses is in trouble so he’s like “I got you, Moses! I’m gonna make it rain bread.” So he rains bread down on the desert, and it covers the sand in thin flaky layers, like frost, which sounds like it would be really difficult to gather without getting sand all up in your bread. Everybody gathers it anyway and Moses tells them to eat it all and trust that God will send more in the morning, but some people save some just in case, but it becomes infested with worms, or melts in the sun. Gross. But then on sixth day Moses tells everyone to collect double weird-flaky-heaven-bread because tomorrow God is going to rest and won’t rain bread, so they save half and it doesn’t become infested, so they eat the rest the next day. Some people go out to look for more anyway, and God is like “OMG why can’t you just do what I say? I gave you double food for exactly this reason. Go home and rest.” So they do. Apparently the flaky magic bread, which the Israelites call manna, looks like cilantro seeds but tastes like honey wafers. Moses, on God’s instructions, saves a jar of the manna for posterity so future generations can see what the Israelites ate in the desert when they escaped from Egypt. They all wander the desert for forty more years and live off of manna until they finally get to Canaan.

Exodus 17

http://www.motifake.com/image/demotivational-poster/small/1004/faithpalm-jesus-god-facepalm-bible-faithpalm-fail-religion-c-demotivational-poster-1271278061.jpgWait, now we’re back to the whole wandering-the-desert part. Sigh. So they leave the Sin desert and they don’t have any water and they all complain to Moses and he’s like “why don’t you trust God?!” And they’re like “BECAUSE WE’RE FUCKING THIRSTY.” So Moses is like “God, you gotta help me out man!” So God’s like “go on ahead with some elders and use your magic stick to whack a rock and it will squirt water.” Then the Amalekites come fight with the Israelites. Moses tells Joshua to pick some strong men and go fight them, which he does while Moses sits on a hill with his magic stick to watch. Moses quickly figures out that whenever he puts his hand in the air (presumably the one holding the stick), the Israelites start winning the battle, but whenever he puts his hand down, the Amalekites start winning, which is a dumb system if you ask me, since God could just make the battle go however he wants without making Moses wave his hands around. Moses’s arms start getting tired so people get him a rock to sit on and help hold his arms up and then the Israelites win the battle. God tells Moses to write on a scroll that God “will completely wipe out the memory of Amalek” (14) and to read that to Joshua. Not sure why Moses needs to read it to Joshua, or why he can’t just tell Joshua verbally, or why God can’t tell Joshua himself. In any case, it makes no sense since the Amalekites are recorded right here in the Bible, keeping their memory alive for several thousand years. Fail?

Exodus 18

Jethro (Moses’s father-in-law, remember?) hears about what Moses has been up to, and comes to visit him along with Zipporah and her two sons, Gershom and Eliezer. (I think Moses sent his wife and children away to live with Jethro back when shit was getting real with Pharaoh.) Jethro & co. arrive at Moses’s tent and they all catch up with each other and have a grand old time. After the story of the escape, Jethro talks about how much he likes God and says, “Now I know that the LORD is greater than all the gods” (11), again supporting my polytheism theory. Jethro sacrifices to God, and everybody has dinner. The next day, Jethro sees Moses sitting around all day answering people’s questions about God and adjudicating their disagreements and teaching them the commandments. Jethro’s like, “Hey, Moses, this is way too much work for one person. You should pick some other smart people and put them in charge of smaller groups of people. They can bring big difficult questions to you, but mostly they can take care of this stuff without you.” Moses is like “yeah good idea” and appoints his judges accordingly, and bids Jethro adieu.

Exodus 19

http://sdheadliner.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/ac.jpg

This is probably why men can't touch women

Exactly three months after leaving Egypt, the Israelites get to Sinai and set up camp. Moses heads up the mountain and God tells him to tell his peeps that if they obey the commandments they’ll be his favorites. So Moses spreads the news. God tells Moses that, in three days, he’s going to come chat with Moses in front of everyone so they can hear what God says and trust Moses’s authority. In preparation for this, God tells Moses to ready the peeps for his visit by washing all their clothes and such, and tells him to keep the men from having sex with women in the days preceding. God also warns that anybody who touches the mountain during his visit must be put to death, as must anybody who touches the people who have touched the mountain, with stones or arrows. Three days later, God comes down, wrapped in a cloud as disguise; Moses gather the peeps around the mountain to watch while he ascends. God is chilling with Moses on the mountain, but he panics and worries about how many people will die from his own stupid rule about not touching the mountain. Instead of revoking it, like a responsible person, he’s like, “Hey Moses, make sure your peeps don’t touch the mountain!” And Moses is like “nah it’s all good they won’t do that!” And God’s like “Ok, bring Aaron here.”

Highlights

Jethro’s division of labor into lower courts and supreme courts (or what have you) is smart.

Lowlights

Celebrating genocide = not so classy.

OT: Psalms 15-17

Psalm 15

Who gets to chill with you, God? Only perfect people who do the right thing and tell the truth and are nice and hate the wicked and like the faithful and keep promises and lend money without interest. Those people are set for life.

Psalm 16

God, save me, you’re the only good thing in my life. As for those people who thought they were holy but worshiped the wrong God, please fuck them up. I’m not friends with them anymore. You’re all I want. You give me great advice and never lead me astray, so I trust you and I’m happy. You make things great.

Psalm 17

Listen to me! I’m needy! You know me, I don’t mess around. Other people suck but I always obey you. You always do what I want, so do that now! You’re the bomb and you protect your followers. So protect me from my enemies! They’re all around and they want to fuck me up. Kill them! Save me! Hurt them and nurture the people you like more. I know I’ll be rewarded for my awesomeness.

Highlights

Zip. Still hate the psalms.

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Take THAT, stupid psalm narrator!

Lowlights

My favorite part of the whining in psalm 17 is, “Rescue me from these people whose only possession is their fleeting life” (14). I think Emily Dickinson responded well to this sentiment when she observed, “That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.” Emily Dickinson: 1; Psalms: 0.

NT: Matthew 22-23

Matthew 22

More parables. FML.

The kingdom of heaven is like a guy who is throwing a party. He invites a bunch of people and prepares a delicious feast for them but they are ungrateful jerks and don’t come and either ignore the invitation or kill the servants who came to invite them. The host gets angry and sets fire to the city where the people who slighted him live. Then he tells his (surviving) servants to go invite everybody they can find on the road to his party because those other people “weren’t worthy” (8). So a bunch of randos come to the party, and the host wanders around his guests. He finds one person who isn’t wearing party-appropriate attire, and asks how he got in. The guy has no answer, so the host tells his servants, “Tie his hands and feet and throw him out into the farthest darkness. People there will be weeping and grinding their teeth” (13). Wow, way to break the metaphor there, Jesus. At the end of this horrific parable, Jesus helpfully tells us the moral of the story: “Many people are invited, but few are chosen” (14). Also, God is a crazed psychopath, apparenty.

The Pharisees keep trying to trip Jesus up. So they ask him whether the law allows people to pay taxes to Caesar given that Jesus doesn’t support favoritism (not sure how those things are related). Jesus is like, “Why are you trying to fuck with me? Go bring me a coin.” So they bring him a coin and he’s like “Whose fucking head is on this fucking coin?” And they’re like, “Caesar’s.” And he’s like, “Great. Give Caesar what’s Caesar’s and give God what’s God’s. Fuck off.” So they do.

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Remember their joyous posthumous reunion? Not part of Jesus's plan.

The Sadducees, who don’t believe in resurrection, come to ask Jesus a resurrection-related question. They explain that they knew of seven brothers who each married the same woman, all in a row, with the next one marrying her when the last one died. Eventually they all died and so did the woman, and none of them had any children. So, they ask, which of the men will the woman be married to after they are all resurrected? Jesus answers that “At the resurrection people won’t marry nor will they be given in marriage. Instead, they will be like angels from God” (30). The Sadducees freak out and leave.

The Pharisees try again, and ask Jesus what the greatest commandment is. He says that the most important is to love God as hard as you can, and that the next most important is to love your neighbor as yourself, and that the whole law depends on those two commandments. Then Jesus turns the Pharisees’ tactics on them. He asks them whose son the Christ is, and they say David’s. But Jesus quotes some passage from the Old Testament where David calls the Christ “lord,” and says, “If David calls him Lord, how can he be David’s son?” (45). Nobody can answer him and from then on nobody dares ask him any questions ever again. I’m not sure how exactly this was such a rhetorical knock-down punch, but okay.

Matthew 23

Jesus tells his followers to do what the Pharisees say but not what they do, because “Everything they do, they do to be noticed by others” (5). He points out that they really liked to be called “Rabbi” (i.e. “teacher”), and warns everyone that Christ is their only teacher and God is their only father, so no human should be called teacher or father because they are really brothers and sisters. He also talks again about how the low will be lifted up and the high and mighty will be brought low and the greatest will be servants and so on.

http://qph.cf.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-10adc7257e051cb3fbc8cc5066ff2d02Jesus condemns the Pharisees and similar folks for their hypocrisy and general lameness. He calls them stupid and blind, and blames them for keeping people out of the kingdom of heaven. They follow the tiny busybody rules to the letter but totally miss the big picture – they tithe diligently but don’t understand justice, for example. He says that though they look righteous and pure on the outside, they are polluted inside (yes, this section was alluded to in this video). Finally, Jesus bemoans Jerusalem’s lostness and blindness and how God has tried so hard to save the people of Israel but they keep going astray.

Highlights

The condemnation of hypocrisy is pretty cool, and pretty ironic given the political climate of this country.

Lowlights

The most appealing part of the idea of an afterlife, to me, is the idea of being reunited after death with those whom you loved in life. And that certainly seems to be one of the components which most comforts people I know who believe in an afterlife. But Jesus puts the kibosh on that idea with the whole story of the seven brothers. Too bad.

One Horse Per Butt Cheek

OT: Exodus 13-14

Exodus 13

God tells Moses, “Dedicate to me all your oldest children. Each first offspring from any Israelite womb belongs to me, whether human or animal” (2). But I thought all the Israelites were already God’s peeps? What does it even mean to “dedicate” a kid to God?

http://www.shadowridgedonkeys.com/images/ds_woo48.jpgMoses reminds everyone that, once a year, they should eat no leavened bread for a week to commemorate their escape. And he promises again that God is taking them to their home with milk and honey and such. Moses tells them the thing about dedicating their oldest children and animals to God. He elaborates that they should “ransom” all their oldest donkeys with a sheep, because if they don’t, they’ll have to break the donkeys’ necks. And they have to “ransom” their oldest children, too.

God leads the Israelites by “a column of cloud” (21) – a tornado? – during the day and by lightning at night. Instead of sending them by way of the Philistines where they might have to fight, he takes them the long route by the Reed Sea/Red Sea (depending on translation).

Exodus 14

God tells Moses to have the Israelites turn back and set up camp by the sea, so that Pharaoh (who I guess is tracking them) will think they’ve gotten lost, and will come after them. God gloats, “I’ll gain honor at the expense of Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD” (4). What does it even mean for God to “gain honor”?

Backtrack: Pharaoh changes his mind about releasing the peeps and chases after them with his army and catches up with them at the sea. Not sure what good it did them to turn around in that case, but okay. The Israelites see that they are trapped between the Egyptian army on one side and the sea on the other, and they start bitching at Moses about how it would have been better to stay slaves in Egypt than to die in the desert. Moses is like “Don’t worry, God has everything under control. Nothing is fucked.” God tells Moses to use his staff to part the sea so they can cross, and then he (God) excitedly repeats the bit about gaining honor a few more times.

The cloud column moves behind the Israelite camp so it stands between them and the Egyptians. Moses parts the sea and the Israelites start across the dry land in the middle. When the Egyptians follow them in, God has Moses close up the water again, killing Pharaoh and everybody in his army. The Israelites make it safely to the other side and look back to see all the dead Egyptians and get all excited and worshippy about their great genocidal God. Yay!

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THE BEST

Highlights

I actually kind of like matzo. Especially matzo pizza. Mmmmm.

Lowlights

In what universe does it seem rational that God would be angry if you didn’t break a donkey’s neck?

Also, the whole killing-all-the-Egyptians-in-order-to-look-cool thing.

NT: Matthew 21

Matthew 21

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This is probably how he did it.

Jesus & co. arrive at Bethphage (which just sounds to me like a cell that is going to eat poor Beth, whoever she is), and Jesus tells two of the apostles to go into the town where they will find a donkey and a colt tied up, and to bring them to him. Then Jesus fulfills a prophecy (a kind of silly one, IMHO) by sitting “on them” (7). Like, on both the donkey and the colt…at the same time, or does he alternate?

People get excited and spread clothes and palm fronds on the ground in front of Jesus as he enters Jerusalem triumphantly with one butt cheek on each of his steeds. Some of the onlookers are out of the loop and are like “who is that guy with one horse per butt cheek?” and those in the know are like “It’s the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee” (11). And then the Jerusalem hipsters add, “And I was into him before he was cool.”

Jesus puts his business face on and dismounts from his donkey[s] and throws a fit in the temple; people have set up a market in there, so he starts knocking tables over and throwing merchants out, raving about how the temple is supposed to be a house of prayer. The legal and religious experts get pissed off and they’re like “hey Jesus have you heard all these kids praising you as the Son of David?” and he’s like “Yeah what’s it to you?” and goes off to the town of Bethany for the night.

In the morning Jesus gets hungry and goes over to a fig tree for breakfast, but there’s no fruit on it, so he throws a hissy fit and curses it so it can never bear fruit again, and it shrivels up instantly. The apostles are amazed and Jesus is like “you too can shrivel up fig trees and even fling mountains around if you are faithful enough!” I’m still waiting on a demonstration of that particular phenomenon.

The legal and religious experts ask Jesus who gave him the authority to do his tricks and teach his lessons. Jesus says they’ll tell them if they can answer the question of where John the Baptist got the authority to do baptisms. The “experts” confer: they can’t say from heaven because then Jesus will ask why they didn’t believe him, and they can’t say from humans because the crowds love John the Baptist and will get pissed off and maybe hurt them. So they say they don’t know, and Jesus is like, “Well then I don’t have to tell you where I get my authority. Nah nah nah boo boo.”

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Hos...

Jesus decides it’s time for another parable. A man tells his older son to go work in his fields, and the son refuses, but later changes his minds and goes to work; the man tells his younger son to go work, and the son agrees to, but never goes. Jesus asks which son did his father’s will, and the legal/religious experts say the older son. Jesus explains that “tax collectors and prostitutes are entering God’s kingdom ahead of you” because they believed John the Baptist but the experts didn’t believe him or change their hearts and lives.

Jesus tells another parable, about a landowner who employs tenant farmers in his vineyard while he is out of town. He sends his servants to collect his fruit, but the farmers kill the servants. So the landowner sends more servants for his fruit, and the farmers kill them too. Then the stupid landowner sends his own son, thinking the farmers will respect him, but of course they kill him. So Jesus asks the experts what the landowner will do when he comes home. They answer that he will kill the farmers and hire new ones who will do their jobs. Jesus basically tells them they’re stupid and quotes a psalm – “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” – and warns that God’s kingdom will be taken away from them (42-43). The experts get mad and want to arrest Jesus but can’t because the crowds think he’s a prophet and will riot if he’s arrested.

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...before bros.

Highlights

I love when Jesus tells the self-righteous hypocrites that those who disgust them most, the tax-collectors and the prostitutes, are going to get into Heaven before them. It’s the kind of verse I wish more Christians would remember and focus on.

Lowlights

Um…I don’t really understand the point of the vineyard parable. The landowner is stupid, the farmers are cruel, and the servants and the son are dead. Who exactly is supposed to be the winner in this scenario…?

Release the Peeps!

OT: Exodus 5-6

Exodus 5

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All they wanted was to go to Burning Man.

Moses and Aaron go to Pharaoh and are all “Hey Pharaoh, God says ‘Let my people go party in the desert!'” And Pharaoh is all “Who is this God guy? Also, no.” And Moses and Aaron are all “Our God showed up and told us we need to go to the desert and sacrifice to him or else he’ll hurt us because he’s kind of a dick sometimes.” And Pharaoh is all “Why do you want the Hebrews to be slackers?” Pharaoh tells all the slave masters to stop giving the slaves the straw they need to make bricks, but to keep the brick quota the same, so the Hebrews have to gather the materials and make the same amount of bricks in the time it usually takes them to just make the bricks. That way, Pharaoh thinks, they’ll work harder and stop being lazy and thinking about running off to the desert for a rave. The Israelites are like “ummm this is kind of impossible why are you doing this?” and Pharaoh says “You are lazy bums, nothing but lazy bums” (17) and tells them to get back to work. The Israelites are like, “Way to go, Moses and Aaron, you guys just got us more work and made Pharaoh hate us more.” And Moses is like “Yeah, God, WTF?”

Exodus 6

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RELEASE THE PEEPS!

God is like “Don’t worry Moses, I got this. I’m God, and I made a covenant with your ancestors, which I recently remembered when I heard you all screaming in agony – sorry about that – but any peep of yours is a peep of mine, so just tell all your peeps to chillax because they’re my peeps and I’ve got it under control and also did I mention that I’m God?” So Moses relays this reassuring message to his peeps, but they cannot chillax because they are fucking enslaved. So God’s like, “Moses, go tell Pharaoh again to release the peeps.” And Moses is like, “Dude, even the peeps won’t listen to me anymore, so why would Pharaoh?” Flashback to a lot of genealogy leading from Jacob’s kids to Moses and Aaron. Then we just repeat the whole thing where God tells Moses to lead his people out of Israel and to tell Pharaoh to release the peeps and Moses gets all glossophobic.

Highlights

Meh.

Lowlights

Why doesn’t Moses do his party tricks for Pharaoh to prove he’s got God on his side? Wouldn’t that be more effective than whining?

NT: Matthew 19-20

Matthew 19

Jesus goes from Galilee to Judea and heals his huge crowds of fans. The Pharisees come test him, asking if the law allows a man to divorce his wife for any reason. Jesus is like, “Remember how God said a man and his wife are one flesh? Humans can’t tear apart what God smooshed together.” The Pharisees are like, “Oh yeah? Well then why did Moses tell us to give our wife a divorce certificate if we leave her? WHAT NOW?” Jesus is like, “Moses let you divorce because you were stubborn dicks. But it wasn’t supposed to be that way originally. I’m telling you that if you divorce your wife for any reason other than adultery, you are committing adultery if you marry another woman.” His disciples are like, “Sheesh, why bother getting married at all then?” Then Jesus tells his disciples that not everybody is able to deal with this rule, which for some reason he tried to illustrate with a confusing example about eunuchs, basically saying that some are born eunuchs, some achieve eunuchhood, and some have eunuchhood thrust upon them. Gross.

http://www.blogcdn.com/blog.moviefone.com/media/2006/08/talladega.jpgSome people bring children to Jesus to be blessed, and the disciples scold them (why?), but Jesus is like “no it’s cool the kingdom of heaven is basically all children anyway” and he blesses them. Then a man asks Jesus what he has to do to live forever, and Jesus says to keep the commandments, but the man asks which ones, and Jesus says not to murder, steal, lie, or sleep around, and to respect your parents and love your neighbors. The man is like “yeah yeah I did all that what now?” And Jesus is like “well now you should sell everything you own and give the money to the poor” and the man gets sad and leaves because he’s rich and doesn’t want to give that up. Jesus then famously tells his disciples that “it’s easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom” (23). The disciples freak out and are like, “Dude, this kingdom of heaven is very selective. Who even gets in?” And Jesus says, “It’s impossible for human beings. But all things are possible for God” (26) – I guess meaning that no matter what you do, you won’t be worthy, so you can’t earn your way in; you just have to do your best and trust that God will work the miracle of letting your unworthy sinful ass into his magical palace. Peter says, “Look, we’ve left everything and followed you. What will we have?” (27), and Jesus is like, “Don’t worry, when I’m up in heaven in a throne, you all will be in twelve thrones over the twelve tribes of Israel. And if you left your homes and families and things to follow me, you’ll be rewarded with a hundred times than what you started with.” Jesus also claims that “many who are first will be last” and “many who are last will be first” (30), but we know this can’t be true because, in the immortal words of the Prophet Reese Bobby in the Book of Talladega Nights, “if you ain’t first, you’re last.”

Matthew 20

Oh good, another parable.

Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who hires people to work in his vineyard and promises to pay them one denarion each. He hires some in the morning, and some in the afternoon, and some in the evening, and at the end of the day he gives them each one denarion. The ones who were working all day are like “This is some bullshit, we’ve been working all day and we make the same amount as the people who’ve only worked an hour?” And the landowner is like “IT’S MY LAND AND MY MONEY AND I CAN DO WHAT I WANT AND SOME WHO ARE FIRST ARE LAST AND SOME WHO ARE LAST ARE FIRST MWAHAHAHAHAHA.”

Jesus and his twelve apostles are on their way to Jerusalem when Jesus stops to predict his own death again, telling them in third person that the Human One will be tortured and crucified and then will rise three days later. Then James’s and John’s mother show up to embarrass them in front of their cool friends by asking that Jesus place them at his right and left hand in heaven. Jesus asks if they can drink from the cup that he’s about to drink from (I guess asking if they can withstand torture for their beliefs?) and they say yes, and he’s like “Okay, you’ll drink from my cup, but I don’t have the authority to say who sits where at the heaven-table. That’s my Dad’s job.” The other ten disciples get angry at James and John, which seems uncalled for since Jesus didn’t say he’d give them special seats after all. But Jesus calms them down by saying that whoever wants to be great should debase themselves and serve others, just like the Human One does, and unlike the Gentile rulers who boss everyone else around.

On their way out of Jericho (when did we get to Jericho?), Jesus and the apostles and the crowd of fans are stopped when two blind men by the road start yelling and demanding mercy from the Son of David. Jesus is like “ok what do you want?” And they’re like “to see, duh,” and so he touches their eyes to make them see and then they follow him.

Highlights

Meh.

Lowlights

The parable of the landowner and the whole preceding conversation doesn’t make God sound just at all; it makes him sound power-trippy and flippant and condescending and heartless. And I don’t like the promise that if you abandon your family you’ll be rewarded with a hundred families. It’s as frustrating as in the Book of Job when Job gets a new family to replace the one that God murdered. Family love is about quality, not quantity. You don’t want a new family, or a hundred new families, you want those specific people because you love them. Why is God apparently incapable of understanding that?

Asher, you will be Top Chef.

OT: Genesis 47-50 <—– THE END OF GENESIS!!!!! Tomorrow, we will start on the only book of the Bible known to be written by Bob Marley.

Genesis 47

Joseph is like, “Hey Pharaoh, my family’s here in Egypt and/or upstate New York! Here are half my brothers.” Pharaoh’s like, “Ok dudes, what’s your bag?” They’re like, “We’re shepherds, and we came here cause we were hungry.” Pharaoh’s like “Cool, welcome to your new home.” Joseph’s like, “Great, thanks. And here’s my Dad.” Jacob blesses Pharaoh, who asks his age, and Jacob says he’s 130. Well, technically, he says, “I’ve been a traveler for 130 years” (9), invoking the popular image of life as a journey.

I actually really like that trope. I went to daily prayers this morning at our school chapel (because I’m churchy like that), and they always end the short morning service with a blessing that begins something like, “Life is short, and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us,” which is a sentiment that every person on earth should be legally obligated to reflect on every single day.

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I bet Egypt's incipient Tea Party was up in arms over this...or would have been, if tea existed in the Middle East back then, which I don't think it did.

Anyway, Jacob blesses Pharaoh again and goes back to settling into his new home. Then Joseph does some kind of political/economic shenanigans to take advantage of the famine to centralize power under Pharaoh’s (and his) control: he acquires all the farmland (except that belonging to the priests), and gives people seed to plant it in exchange for a 20% tax on all their crops (the priests are exempt from this tax). Meanwhile, Jacob lives a few more years, then realizes he’s about to die. After making Joseph swear (with his hand under his thigh again…ew) to bury him back home with his ancestors and not in Egypt, Jacob passes out on his bed (but doesn’t quite die yet).

Genesis 48

Joseph figures out that his father is dying – not because of the part where he passed out on the bed, but because someone told him – so he and his sons go visit Jacob. Jacob tells Joseph how God gave him Canaan for his descendants, then gets ready to bless Joseph’s sons (Manasseh and Ephraim). But we have a confusing situation with the blessings…again. Apparently, it’s very important to Joseph that Jacob bless Manasseh, the elder son, with his right hand, and Ephraim, the younger, with his left. So Joseph brings them over in such a way that Manasseh is next to Jacob’s right hand and Ephraim is next to Jacob’s left hand. But Jacob figures this out and crosses his hands in order to reverse Joseph’s intended hand placement. Joseph apparently spaces out while this is happening, because not until the blessing is over does Joseph notice the hand-crossing and shit a brick. He’s like “NO Dad you’re ruining it Manasseh is the older one!” And Jacob is like, “I know, he’s gonna have it good, don’t worry, but Ephraim will have it extra good.” Then Jacob’s like, “Joseph, I’m about to die, but don’t worry, you’re getting twice the inheritance of your brothers. Also you should go back to Canaan someday.”

Genesis 49

Jacob gets all twelve of his sons to gather around his bed so he can prophesy all up on them. This is his big dying speech:

Okay, listen up, dudes. Reuben, you’re the oldest and strongest, but you “violated my couch” (4), aka nailed one of my many wives, so fuck you. Simeon and Levi, you are violent assholes, and you “maimed oxen” (6) for fun, which is definitely one of the symptoms of psychopathy. Judah, you’re a badass, you wash your clothes in wine for some reason, and people are going to adore you. Zebulun, you’re going to live by the water. Issachar, you are sturdy like a donkey and you work hard. Dan, you will settle disputes, but also fuck people over? Gad, people will attack you, but you will show them who’s boss, like a bad roach. Asher, you will be Top Chef. Naphtali, you’re going to have hot kids. Joseph, you are just objectively better than your brothers. Benjamin, you are a wolf.

Then he blesses them all, even the ones who got shitty predictions, and asks them to bury him in the cave back in Canaan where his parents and grandparents are buried – not with his favorite wife, Rachel. Then he got comfy and died.

Genesis 50 AKA THE LAST CHAPTER OF GENESIS EVER

Joseph cries all over Jacob’s corpse, then has him mummified and mourns him for a couple of months. After the mourning ends, he gets Pharaoh’s permission to go home to Canaan to bury his father. A bajillion people go with Joseph, including every single one of Pharaoh’s servants. Apparently the children and livestock of Jacob’s family stayed in Goshen, completely unsupervised. So all these people go to Canaan and mourn some more and bury Jacob in the cave and then go back to Egypt. Joseph’s brothers suddenly worry that, with their father dead, Joseph will punish them for that time they plotted his death. So they tell Joseph that Jacob told them to ask Joseph’s forgiveness (it’s not specified whether he really did), then everyone cries, and the brothers bow down to Joseph, and he tells them not to worry about it because it turned out better in the end since he was able to save so many lives in the famine. So everybody lives happily in Egypt for a long time – long enough for Joseph to meet his great-grandchildren, some of whom were apparently “born on Joseph’s knees” (23). Gross. (Yes, yes, I know this probably just means that they sat on Joseph’s lap.) Eventually Joseph tells his brother’s he’s about to die, promises that God will bring them all back to Canaan one day, and tells them to bring his bones with them when they go. He dies at age 110 and gets mummified.

Highlights

IT’S OVERRRRRRR!!!!!!!

Lowlights

Now I’m just imagining afterbirth all over someone’s knees. Eeeeeewwwwwwww.

NT: Matthew 17-18

Jesus takes Peter, James, and John to a mountain summit and then turns on his magical shiny powers. Moses and Elijah show up to chat with Jesus, and Peter awkwardly offers to build three shrines, one for each of them. Then a cloud talks to theme and says Jesus is his (its?) son and they should listen to him, so the disciples fall prostrate in awe. But Jesus touches them and is like, “get up, it’s all good,” and so they do and nobody’s there but Jesus. On the way down the mountain, Jesus tells them to stay silent about the vision until after the Human One is resurrected. The disciples are like, “why does everyone say Elijah has to come first?” And Jesus is like, “Oh, he was already here, but nobody recognized him, and they treated him like shit, just like they’re going to do to the Human One.” They figure out that he means John the Baptist.

They get back to where Jesus’s fans are waiting, and a man asks Jesus to heal his epileptic son because the disciples weren’t able to. Jesus calls everyone faithless for the billionth time and whines like a teenage girl: “How long will I put up with you?” (17). But he heals the boy – by casting a demon out of him, thereby setting up a stupid superstition that continues, to this day, to attach absurd stigmas to people with organic neurological disorders. The disciples ask why they were unable to exorcise the boy, and instead of explaining that anticonvulsants haven’t been invented yet, Jesus says it’s because they weren’t wishing hard enough: “I assure you that if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Go from here to there,’ and it will go. There will be nothing that you can’t do” (20). Funny, I haven’t noticed any of the oh-so-faithful Republican candidates – or anybody else, for that matter – flinging mountains around with their eyes. Oh, wait, I forgot, everything is a metaphor and you can only understand the true meaning if God wants you to.

The disciples all get together in Galilee for a reunion and Jesus kills the mood by reminding them that he’s going to be killed soon. He also reminds them that he’ll be resurrected three days later, but they’re still bummed. Then they go to Capernum and the people are like “Hey Peter, everybody has to give a half-shekel to the temple; doesn’t your rabbi friend pay his taxes?” Peter’s like “OF COURSE HE DOES” but Jesus is like “Peter, who pays taxes to the king: strangers, or his own kids?” Peter’s like “Strangers, duh.” So Jesus is like “Well then I guess I don’t have to pay!” because Jesus is a nine-year-old attempting to rhetoric his way out of his chores. But then he decides he has an opportunity to show off  some more, so he tells Peter to throw a line into the lake and pull out the first fish he catches, which will have a shekel in its mouth to cover the tax for both of them.

Matthew 18

The disciples ask Jesus who the best person in the kingdom of heaven is, and Jesus says the people who humble themselves like little children are best, and that whoever welcomes a child is also welcoming him, Jesus. Then he says that whoever tempts believing children to sin is totally fucked, and reminds everyone that it’s better to amputate yourself than to sin. He says that God doesn’t want his children to stray into sin, just like a shepherd will always go looking for his lost sheep. Jesus then explains that if any of your own siblings (or, probably, anybody else, since every one is “brother” or “sister” too him) sins, and won’t listen to you or to the church and mend their ways, you should excommunicate them and treat them like strangers. But then Jesus touts the importance of forgiveness – but only in exchange for repentance. You can be forgiven, but only by groveling. To illustrate this, he tells a story about a king who forgives a servant’s debt, but then punishes him when he learns that the forgiven servant refused to forgive somebody else’s debt. In this case, we’re all the hypocritical servant, and God is the vengeful king.

Highlights

Moving mountains around and healing the sick sounds cool. Then again, if it were really possible, everybody would be doing it. I mean, who wouldn’t become a Christian in order to acquire Harry-Potter-like powers?

Lowlights

Everybody should forgive everybody all the time! But God is angry and vengeful! But also God is love! And everybody is made in his image! And he can stop people from sinning if he wants to but sometimes he decides to let them do it so he can torture them instead!