January 24, 2012 2 Comments
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.
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.
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).
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!