Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Reading the Bible - Genesis 12

In the last post we saw the introduction of Gods man Abram who was basically the big daddy of the Jews, this week we start getting glimpses into what kind of person God approves of. Genesis 12 starts of well like all great mythological tales in that Abram gets told to get off his ass and go on an adventure as God will look after him and afford him riches. These types of epic quests are well known in tales ranging from Odysseus to Jason to Percy Jackson, what makes the Biblical account fascinating is that it encompasses years and generations. However, the fact that this quest lasts generations should not be seen as leading credence to Biblical accuracy, i.e. the bible story is true as it is different to other mythological quests and yes this is apologetics I have heard. Rather it should be considered as adhering to what was laid out in the beginning of the quest where God says he will make Abram a great nation.
"And Jehovah said to A′bram: “Go out from your land and away from your relatives and from the house of your father to the land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, and you will become a blessing."
Perhaps more interesting is that we also get shown that people that bless/curse Abram will also get blessed/cursed by God. This is rather weird as we know God does not like others to be praised above him, yet for some reason he makes an exception for Abram. Alternatively, this is meant to be considered just a myth and we are meant to learn something from Abram's journey and as such teach the story as a mythological tale similar to that of Icarus.
"I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who calls down evil on you, and all the families of the ground will certainly be blessed by means of you.”"

I will be honest when you read Genesis 12, it does not come across that Abram is on a quest, rather he is moving around like a nomad with no place to go. This would make sense as it was just him and his family and it does not seem as if they were trying to fit in, after all they left their land and were on some type of quest. What I wonder is why the hell did he do to leave his land and relatives in the first place. This is also the first time we hear about the promised land that God  wants to give to Abram. What I do not get is that God always has to give land but he never just does the humane thing which would rather be to just make the people that live there currently convert. If God is almighty enough to give huge swaths of Canaanite land to his chosen people, surely he has the power to convert a few feeble unbelieving minds.
"Jehovah then appeared to A′bram and said: “To your offspring I am going to give this land.”"

Anyway, a drought arises in and as such Abram and his family head down to Egypt to escape the famine. However, as you do when you are Gods chosen one Abram tells his wife Sarai that she should not admit to being his wife as she is beautiful and so he will get killed if she does as people will want her.
"As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sar′ai: “Please listen! I know what a beautiful woman you are. So when the Egyptians see you, they will surely say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but keep you alive. Please say you are my sister, so that it may go well with me because of you, and my life will be spared.”"
There is so much wrong in these few lines, so let me break it down. Firstly, I mean the guy that has been promised by God that he will get blessed is worried that someone will kill him that is such a lack of trust and makes you wonder if this God guy is real. Secondly, we learn that Abram is of very dubious character that he is not prepared to take a stand for his wife that he loves. Granted this could just be misogyny in the Bible coming through, but I do not think so as we will see in later stories that Abram is a psychopath at the bare minimum. Lastly, we are told to accept that the Egyptians are an evil people after all why would they want to take someones wife and kill. I find this evil concept rather bizarre as the Egyptians are not evil enough to kill people that are escaping famine and using their resources, yet they are willing to kill someone to take their wife?

Just pretend to be single, its like swinging. (Source)

As is expected the beautiful and now pseudo-single lady Sarai attracts a lot of attention and eventually she ends up in Pharaoh's house. Naturally Pharaoh is super happy with this beautiful lady and showers gifts of cattle, slaves, camels, etc. onto Abram in the traditional dowry way. It is after giving all of these gifts that Pharaoh's family gets struck down with plague and that he finds out that Sarai is actually Abram's  wife.
"So Phar′aoh called A′bram and said: “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister, so that I was about to take her as my wife?"
Amazingly the just God punishes the Pharaoh for doing a good thing and blesses Abram for using his wife basically as a prostitute. What a great lesson to be learned here for the kids. Amazingly the Pharaoh even after this the evil Pharaoh does not take away any gifts or try harm Abram in anyway rather he just sends them away with everything he gave them.
"Here is your wife. Take her and go!” So Phar′aoh gave his men orders concerning him, and they sent him away with his wife and all that he had."

Moral of the story? Be an ass hat and be blessed. That is all for this week, see you next time.

All verses come from the New World Translation Of The Holy Scriptures.
Online version available at the Jehovah's Witnesses official website