Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Reading the Bible - Genesis 35 - 36

We ended our last Bible lesson with the mass slaughter and sex slave acquisition by the Israelites as compensation for the apparent rape of Dinah daughter of Jacob. Genesis 35 continues this theme as it shows us Jehovah telling Jacob to flee the lands where the genocide was conducted and to go to Bethel. Bethel if you remember is the place where God first spoke to Jacob when he was running away from the wrath of Esau, so I suppose it makes sense that Jacob would run to the same safe haven.
"After that God said to Jacob: “Rise, go up to Bethʹel and dwell there, and make an altar there to the true God, who appeared to you when you were running away from Eʹsau your brother.”"
So the lesson we can take away here surely must be that if you are a Christian and you do something horrific run away and avoid justice. Sometimes I really think I should get me some of this guilt free justification to be a right asshole.

Something that always amazes me about the Israelites is that they continually have to be told to worship Jehovah, such as is the case when Jacob has to tell his people to throw away images of other Gods. This is astounding as it is clear that god takes such good care of these chosen ones compared to other people.
"Then Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him: “Get rid of the foreign gods that are in your midst, and cleanse yourselves and change your garments,"
So, why would the Israelites have other gods? The only rationale that I can come to why they deem it necessary to keep other gods, somehow they know that all gods are the same and deep inside they know all these gods are bullshit. The other option is that the Israelites are the best at playing Pascals wager.

From last week, we also know that Jacob is extremely worried that he will be attacked by other tribes for killing a whole town of people. Luckily for Jacob, he has God on his side and God makes sure that others will never attack.
"When they traveled on, the terror of God struck the cities around them, so they did not chase after the sons of Jacob."
Thats right, Jehovah can stop whole cities and tribes of people attacking Jacob, yet he is incapable of helping one women not get raped. All powerful or biggest asshole ever?

Eventually Jacob and his people reach Bethel and God comes to Earth to have a chat with him and tell him how awesome he is and how great things will be for him.
"God appeared to Jacob once again while he was coming from Padʹdan-aʹram and blessed him.  God said to him: “Your name is Jacob. Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel will be your name.” And he began to call him Israel.  God further said to him: “I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and become many. Nations and a congregation of nations will come from you, and kings will descend from you. As for the land that I have given to Abraham and to Isaac, to you I will give it, and to your offspring after you I will give the land.” Then God went up from him at the place where he had spoken with him."
Amazingly God never comes to Earth anymore, almost like the same way that miracles never happen anymore. Unless, God only comes to Earth when he wants to tell someone something super important, something important like  change your name from Jacob to Israel.

Bethel is also a sad yet joyous place, as this is the place where Rachel dies giving birth to Jacob's last son.
"Just as her life was slipping away (for she was dying), she named him Ben-oʹni, but his father called him Benjamin."
This is the beginning of Benjamin (Son of the My Mourning) the last tribe of Israel. So now we have the full quota of Israelite tribes, and they are Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph and Benjamin


In verse 22, we have the most throw away line in the Bible. It details something that gives us deep insight into the people the Israelites were. Ok, I mean more than killers, marauders and pimps. Apparently, the Israelites were into incest at this time as well.
"Once while Israel was dwelling in that land, Reuʹben went and lay down with Bilʹhah his father’s concubine, and Israel heard about it."
Jacob does nothing about this, in fact this line is all that is mentioned in the Bible! Just so many questions, i.e. why put this in the Bible if it is not going to dealt with? what about the brothers and sisters whose mother Reuben was having sex with? why did Jacob do nothing? This is really one messed up family!

Chapter 35 ends with the arrival of Jacob back at his home and then we get told that his father Isaac eventually dies at the young age of 180.

Chapter 35 is mostly a chronology of Esau's family line, so it is pretty boring except for a few verses. The first verse 6 shows us that Esau was a pretty decent person as he moved away so as not to get in his brothers way.
"After that Eʹsau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, all the members of his household, his herd and all his other beasts, and all the wealth he had accumulated in the land of Caʹnaan and he went to another land some distance away from Jacob his brother."
Yet, Jacob is still the chose one by Jehovah.

The other verse tells us that Esau's people were far more organized and I gather more civilized than the Israelites as they had a ruling class before the Israelites..
"Now these are the kings who reigned in the land of Eʹdom before any king reigned over the Israelites."

So thats two more chapters down, and a whole lot more WTF!

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