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26 September 2007 @ 11:35 pm
"When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons' "Why do you just keep looking at each other?" He continued, "I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die."

GENESIS 42:1-2

- I admit that I had to chuckle at this. Jacob is a grouchy old bastard, telling his soms to get off their arses and get dinner. I can just imagine him sitting in his tent, his face screwed up in his best Albert Steptoe impression, demanding his lazy, good-for-nothing sons go all the way to Egypt to get him food.

"But he did not send Benjamin, Joseph's brother, with the others, because he was afraid that harm might come to him."


- So Joe's brother has become 'favourite' in his absence. Jacob clearly has no worries about sending his other ten sons on this long and possibly dangerous journey.

"As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognised them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them."


- Now, this is hardly surprising and considering what his brothers did to him, probably justified, but he is lying. This man with whom God is supposedly walking hand-in-hand, is a liar. There is nothing noble or virtuous about him, simply a basic, human, desire for revenge. This is backed up in the following expansion of Joseph's motives:

"Although Joseph recognised his brothers, they did not recognise him. Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, "You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected."

GENESIS 42:8-9

- Joseph's dreams about his brothers involved them all bowing down to him as symbolic sheaves of wheat. I have to wonder about that symbology too, given that a sheaf of wheat generally has connections with fertility. (Joseph's "rose and stood upright" while his brothers' sheaves "gathered around mine and bowed down to it". That could be interpreted in a very Freudian way.)
Joseph continues to accuse them of spying, while they continue to protest their innocence, saying they were simply:

"Twelve brothers, sons of one man, who lives in Canaan. The youngest is with our father, and one is no more."


- Why would the fact of their fraternity mean they were not spies? They repeat words to this effect several times (indeed, if you take the repeated phrases out of this chapter it would be a quarter of it's length - the same could be said of the entire Bible of course) and Joseph finally puts them all into prison for three days after telling them:

"It is just as I told you: You are spies! And this is how you are to be tested: As surely as the Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here. Send one of your number to get your brother; the rest of you will be kept in the prison, so that your words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth."

GENESIS 42:14-16

- The brothers' mentioning of Benjamin was a ridiculously contrived plot device so that Joseph would be able to demand that his brothers bring Benjamin to him, without him having to reveal who he was. This whole story of Joseph is terribly written. Even taking into account the era and the language contemporary to the authors. It seems however, that this is one of the more popular stories of the Old Testament (consider Andrew Lloyd-Webber's 'Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat') I would surmise that most of the people liking this story read it in an 'updated' version - 'The Children's Collected Bible Stories', or something. Which makes me wonder how much of people's defence of the Bible come from indirect sources? How many religious women cleave to Jesus because they secretly fancied the pants off Robert Powell in 'Jesus of Nazareth'?
After a little googling I found this quote by Powell himself:

"I'm reading the Gospels at the moment and I can find no evidence of the kind of Christ people seem to have invented and created. There is no evidence of Christ, meek and mild. I can find Christ the compassionate, the gentle, but I also find a very temperamental, aggressive, passionate and often angry man a lot of the time."


"On the third day, Joseph said to them, "Do this and you will live, for I fear God: If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain back for your starving households. But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified and that you may not die."

GENESIS 42:18-20

-In three days Joseph went from letting just one of them go home, to making just one of them stay. I guess this makes Joseph look merciful. Instead of like a vindictive asshole.
The brothers agreed to this after talking about how they did away with Joseph and how it seemed that now they must give "an accounting for his blood". It is at this point that it is revealed that Joseph has been talking to them via an interpreter. Another clumsily inserted plot device.
After much repetition, they go one their way, leaving Simeon (second eldest son) with Joseph. On their way back on of them discovered his portion of the silver they'd paid for the grain with was back in his sack:

"Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, "What is this that God has done to us?"


-This is a very clear example of how 'God' was used as an explaination for anything beyond their current comprehension. They did not understand how the silver could have been returned to their sack - clearly an Egyptian who'd just accused them of spying would not do such a thing, therefore it must have been God's work. The 'God of Gaps' at work?
It did not occur to them at this point to check the rest of the sacks...

"As they were emptying their sacks, there in each man's sack was his pouch of silver! When they and their father saw the money pouches, they were frightened."


-Their return home is less than joyous. Jacob refuses to send Benjamin to Egypt, petulantly whining that "Everything is against me!" I had not realised the Bible was so fond of exclamation marks.
08 September 2007 @ 01:40 pm
So, the end of this chapter goes on to recount that Joseph enjoys a great success, Pharaoh provides a home and wealth and even a wife for Joseph; she bore him two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. During the years of plenty he collected ”all the food the land produced”; presumably not actually all the food as that would have meant that the people would have starved during the years of plenty. There was such a quantity of grain that Joseph ”stopped keeping records because it was beyond measuring.”
There is no mention made of any compensation being paid to the farmers for their grain and other foodstuffs, however:

”When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened the store-houses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. And all the countries came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the world.”

GENESIS 41:56-57

-Nice little earner for the Pharaoh and Joseph then.
And I have to wonder at that”all the world” thing; does it really mean “all the world, as far as the Middle-East”? Or really “all the world”? Is there an account of a severe famine at this time in Europe, or the Americas, or Australia, or China, etc. I don’t think so. Of course the authors were only referring to their immediate world. This in turn suggests that they were indeed writing this from their own imaginings and perspectives, and that there was no divine spirit behind them or ‘working through’ them. A divine spirit would have known about (for example) America at this time, even if the authors did not.
Joseph certainly is a strange character. He appears arrogant, condescending, insensitive and, quite frankly, like an accomplished con-man. He thinks nothing of fabricating stories, preying on people’s fears and worries and then using them to gain wealth and position for himself. In short he appears like any TV-evangelical, or ‘clairvoyant’ charlatan that pervades modern culture. Eat your heart out, Sylvia Browne.

18 July 2007 @ 11:21 am
- Predictably, some time later, the Pharaoh had a dream of his own. Seven fat cows came up out of the Nile, and were then devoured by seven 'ugly and gaunt' cows. Then seven fat ears of corn swallowed up by seven thin and scorched ears of corn.
The Pharaoh called all his magicians and wisemen, but apparently no one was able to interpret the dream for him. This seems strange to me, I think I could have had a pretty good stab at it. The Chief cupbearer finally recalls Joseph and recounts his experience in prison to the Pharaoh. The Pharaoh duly sends for him.

"Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I had a dream, and no-one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it."
"I cannot do it," Joseph replied to Pharaoh, "but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires."

GENESIS 41:15-16

- Joseph is wise to attribute his 'gift' to a God. If it were seen as his own talent, the Pharaoh could keep him in prison, or other lowly position, and exhort the 'gift' out of him. As it is, Pharaoh must be careful not to offend the God that manifests this talent in Joseph, and so must treat him with respect.
The Pharaoh goes on to explain his dreams to Joseph.

"Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good ears of corn are seven years; it is one and the same dream. The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterwards are seven years, and so are the seven worthless ears of corn scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine.
It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, but seven years of famine will ravage the land. The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe. The reason the dream was given in Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.”

GENESIS 41:25-32

- Again, Joseph is clever to mention that God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do, and not to Joseph. This immediately makes Pharaoh feel singled out and ‘chosen’ by Joseph’s God, making him more inclined to be well disposed to Him, and to listen to Joseph, His ‘interpreter’. After flattering the Pharaoh’s ego, and getting him ‘on side’, Joseph then swiftly follows through with the answer to Pharaoh’s problems.

”And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so the country may not be ruined by the famine.”
GENESIS 41:33-36

- Here, while Joseph is telling Pharaoh what to do, he is also very careful to mention that it would all be ‘under the authority of Pharaoh’; making it clear that this will all be seen as Pharaoh’s good foresight, and also that Joseph is not out to challenge the Pharaoh’s authority in any way.

”The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials. So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?”
Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no-one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater then you.”

GENESIS 41:37-40

- Wow, really?
I have to wonder how much of the Pharaoh’s generosity was motivated by the political intrigues that must have been part of his court. His officials and wisemen couldn’t give him an interpretation of the dream, and maybe the Pharaoh thought it wiser to have an outsider, one whom owed everything he had to Pharaoh himself, in charge of this massive project, rather than someone who may have had his own agenda.
Second-guesses aside, it is clear that Joseph has used his God to secure himself favour with the most powerful man in Egypt at that time.
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21 May 2007 @ 01:13 pm
“When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked the Pharaoh’s official’s who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why are your faces so sad today?”
GENESIS 40:6-7

- Two officials anger the Pharaoh and end up in prison, and Joseph asks why they look sad? He really doesn’t seem that bright.
‘His master’s house’ – the prison is regarded as his master’s residence? Do the inmates ‘belong’ to the prison governor, or whoever is in charge, then?

“We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no-one top interpret them.”
Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.”


- It seems that the official’s main worry isn’t that they had offended their Pharaoh, or the possibility of imminent death, it’s the fact that there’s no one around who can tell them what their dreams mean. That seems like a strange way to prioritise your worries to me, but I guess that only goes to show how fearful and superstitious the people were at that time.
It also seems as though Joseph is offering to interpret their dreams on God’s behalf. ‘Interpretations belong to God – tell me your dreams.’ Is Joseph claiming to know the mind of God?
Given the simplistic imagery and symbolism in the dreams, however, and I think anyone with a half decent imagination and enough intelligence to string together a coherent story would be able to interpret the dreams. Joseph uses the Chief cupbearer’s positive dream interpretation to try and get the Chief cupbearer to use his influence once reinstated to the Pharaoh’s favour to get Joseph out of prison. If Joseph is correct the cupbearer will remember Joseph and help get him out of prison – if Joseph is wrong, however, the cupbearer will most likely be executed and Joseph has lost nothing. In this way Joseph shows himself to be the worst kind of exploitative charlatan.
Having secured a good deal with the cupbearer, Joseph is then at liberty to give the Chief baker a less than favourable interpretation of his dream:

“This is what it means,” Joseph said. “The three baskets are three days. Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat away your flesh.”
GENESIS 40:18-19

- Is this really the best thing to be telling the poor man?
The thought occurs that Joseph was currently highly in favour with the prison warder. It is entirely possible that he knew the sentences each of these men were to receive, further adding to the impression that Joseph was, in fact, a con man.
The baker is indeed hanged in three days, and the cupbearer was restored to his former position. However Joseph’s plan backfires somewhat as the cupbearer forgets his bargain with Joseph and does not plead on his behalf to the Pharaoh.
09 May 2007 @ 11:50 pm
- Back to Joseph:

“Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of the Pharoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, brought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.”

“When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favour in his eyes and became his attendant.”
GENESIS 39:3-4

- So Joseph became Potiphar’s ‘favourite’ did he?

“Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”
But he refused. “”With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No-one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even to be with her.”

GENESIS 39:6-10

- Joseph is clearly homosexual.
He is also arrogant and sexist - his master’s wife does not rank higher than a male slave. He is also exemplifying another one of the Bible’s amoral advocacies – that a slave should be happy in service and grateful to his master.
Potiphar’s wife contrives to get Joseph alone in the house, and he escapes her amorous clutches by wriggling out of his cloak and running off. Potiphar’s wife then uses the cloak to ‘prove’ that Joseph had tried to rape her while her husband was away, claiming he only ran off when she screamed.
Potiphar is pissed off – probably because his ‘favourite’ was trying to be unfaithful, rather than out of concern for his wife, and has Joseph thrown into prison.

“But while Joseph was there in the prison, the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favour in the eyes of the prison warder. So the warder put Joseph in charge of all those in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there.
The warder paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.”

GENESIS 39:20-23

- Now he’s found ‘favour’ with a prison warder? Does it get any more homoerotic than that? God was supposedly ‘with’ him, granting success – but the prison warder probably worshipped RA et al, so why would he even consider Joseph to be ‘blessed’ by God or whatever? - In fact he probably thought Joseph wasn’t going to be judged very favourably by Osiris after his death due to his lack of ‘proper worship’. So while God’s blessing may have factored into Joseph’s interpretation of events, it wouldn’t have factored into the prison warder’s interpretation – therefore the warder found favour in Joseph for some other reason.
02 May 2007 @ 05:27 pm
- Chapter 38 is a strange little aside from the story of Joseph. It concerns Joseph’s brother Judah (it was he who suggested the brothers sell Joseph into slavery) and his marriage to a Canaanite woman whose name we are never told. She is simply known as the 'daughter of Shua', who gave him three sons: Er, Onan and Shelah. It begins:

“At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah.”

- I guess he must have felt guilty about what he’d done to Joseph, or was in fear that his father would find out. There is no mention in this story about what becomes of Joseph, and the role his brothers play in Joseph’s story.

“Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so the LORD put him to death.”
GENESIS 38:6-7

- Why? How? Who? What? Er was wicked? In what way? What did he do? What was so heinous that the all-loving god put him instantly to death? Mysteriously – there is no explanation.
Also we see here a return to the superfluous repetition, and of referring to god as the LORD, note capitalisation.

“Then Judah said to Onan, “Lie with your brother’s wife and fulfil your duty to her as a brother-in-law to produce offspring for your brother. But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he lay with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so he put him to death also.”
GENESIS 38:8-10

- It’s a man’s duty to sleep with his sister-in-law if his brother dies before producing heirs. How fucked up is that?
And that premature withdrawal method really doesn’t work that well, they really should have used some other method of birth control – like not having sex in the first place. One has to wonder whether Tamar was infected with some sort of venereal disease that killed the men without treatment, but left the woman unaffected, such as latent syphilis.
Oh yeah – masturbating into that hanky is a big no-no. I suspect that if every man who’d spilt his semen ‘on the ground’ were put to instant death by god, we women would be hard pressed to bury the bodies. And what about those poor guys who suffer from premature ejaculation? Not a nice thing to have to suffer from in itself, but to then add the pressure that god might strike you dead for it? That really doesn’t strike me as being a good example of a just and loving god.

“Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s house until my son Shelah grows up.” For he thought, “He may die too, just like his brothers.” So Tamar went to live in her father’s house.”

- So Judah thinks ‘Uh-oh, only one son left, can’t put him at risk of god’s wrath, better bend the rules here’.

“After a long time Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died. When Judah recovered from his grief, he went up to Timnah, to the men who were shearing his sheep, and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went with him.
When Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is on his way to Timnah to shear his sheep, she took off her widow’s clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself, and then sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that, though Shelah had now grown up, she had not been given to him as his wife.
When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. Not realising she was his daughter-in-law, he went over to her by the roadside and said, “Come now, let me sleep with you.
“And what will you give me to sleep with you?” She asked.
“I’ll send a young goat from my flock, “ he said.
“Will you give me something as a pledge until you send it?” she asked.
He said, “What pledge should I give you?”
“Your seal and its cord, and the staff in your hand.” She answered. So he gave them to her and slept with her, and she became pregnant by him.”

GENESIS 38:12-18

Well! The first mention of someone using a prostitute’s services, and it’s Judah sleeping with his thinly disguised daughter-in-law. She lived with him long enough for two of his sons to die – you’d think he would have recognised her even with a veil. Shows how much attention he must have paid to her when she lived with him.
How fucked up must their laws and social standards be, when Tamar is willing to be seen as a prostitute, and sleep with her father-in-law, in order to gain offspring – as opposed to say, taking off her widow’s clothes and remarrying? Personally, it’d take more than a young goat to get me to do that.
Anyway, Judah keeps his word and tries to send a young goat to the ‘shrine-prostitute’, only to discover that there isn’t one. Rather than be dismayed that he might have inadvertently slept with someone who wasn’t a prostitute, Judah decides that it’s not that big a deal, and that she can keep his seal and staff.
I am curious as to what this ‘shrine’ is that Tamar was supposed to be a prostitute of.

“shrine - Pronunciation [shrahyn] Pronunciation noun, verb, shrined, shrining.

- noun
1. a building or other shelter, often of a stately or sumptuous character, enclosing the remains or relics of a saint or other holy person and forming an object of religious veneration and pilgrimage.
2. any place or object hallowed by its history or associations: a historic shrine.
3. any structure or place consecrated or devoted to some saint, holy person, or deity, as an altar, chapel, church, or temple.
4. a receptacle for sacred relics; a reliquary..

- verb (used with object)
5. to enshrine."


- So, a place of religious significance, I’m erring towards definition No.2 here. I’m also assuming that this isn’t a shrine dedicated to ‘the LORD’, as somehow I doubt that prostitutes would be associated with it. So, other gods again then?

“About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result she is now pregnant.”
Judah said, “Bring her out and have her burned to death!”


- Does anyone else see the error of Judah’s ways? Anyone else spot the hypocrisy?
If prostitution is punishable by death, and a pretty horrific death at that, then why did he not insist the anonymous prostitute at the side of the road be burned – before he slept with her? And really, is burning a woman, a pregnant woman, justified – ever? Under any circumstances? Only if she is a ZOMBIE!
Despite my rather flippant tone, this passage only invokes a kind of sick rage. This is certainly not something I will be adding to my moral repertoire.
And – where is Tamar’s father in all this? Isn’t he supposed to have some sort of say in what befalls his daughter? Why does Judah get to pass the judgement on her?

“As she was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. “I am pregnant by the man who owns these,” she said. And she added, “See if you recognise whose seal and cord and staff these are.”
Judah recognised them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her my son Shelah.” And he did not sleep with her again.”

GENESIS 38:25-26

- He didn’t sleep with her again – I should think not! She is more righteous than him, and yet no one suggests they burn him to death. What a surprise.
30 April 2007 @ 09:11 pm

When Joseph arrived at Shechem, a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, “What are you looking for?”

He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers.  Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?”

“They have moved on from here,” The man answered.  “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’”

So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan.”

GENESIS 37:14-17


- Either this is an awful, superfluous piece of writing; yet another example of adding in information that has no relevance to the narrative whatsoever, or it’s a really bad attempt at adding some dramatic tension to the story.  This is mentioned, but means nothing, adds nothing– not in the context of the story.  He meets a man – who was he?  Where’d he come from?  How did he know who Joseph’s brothers were?  If he was from Shechem then how did he escape the previous slaughter brought by Joseph and his brothers?  Why did he not kill Joseph on the spot in revenge or run screaming in terror?   Why add this at all?


“But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.

“Here comes that dreamer!”  they said to each other.  “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him.  Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”

GENESIS 37:18-20


- So Joseph’s brothers want him dead, and his father sent him to them.  That polygamous marriage thing really isn’t working out too well for God’s chosen.


“When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands.  “Let’s not take his life,” he said.  “Don’t shed any blood.  Throw him into this cistern here in the desert, but don’t lay a hand on him.”  Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to their father.”

GENESIS 37:21-22


- Reuben is the oldest of the brothers, born to Leah.  It seems that he’s the only one amongst them with any shred of decency.  I wonder why, as the oldest, he didn’t just tell his siblings to shut up and get back to work, although as there are nine others to go against it perhaps isn’t surprising that he doesn’t feel he can speak out directly against them.


“So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe – the richly ornamented robe he was wearing – and they took him and threw him into the cistern.  Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it.

As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead.  Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to Egypt.

Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood?  Come let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.”  His brothers agreed.”

GENESIS 37:23-27


- There was no water in it – that makes me feel so much better about it.

They throw him into a cistern, with every intention of leaving him there to rot, and then sit down for a meal as though nothing had happened, presumably with Joseph’s pathetic cries for help sounding out in the background.  It’s like a scene from some lame 70’s farcical comedy.

Then Judah comes up with the bright idea of selling Joseph – and everyone’s a winner!  Joseph gets to live, and the brothers get to keep their hands clean of his blood, while earning a few shekels on the side.  It seems that while killing their brother would be considered reprehensible, selling him into slavery isn’t.  They got twenty shekels – that’s two shekels each. (I am assuming here that Benjamin isn’t with them – but there’s nothing to say that he isn’t.)


“When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes.  He went back to his brothers and said, “The boy isn’t there!  Where can I turn now?”

Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood.  They took the ornamented robe back to their father and said, “We found this.  Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.”

GENESIS 37:29-32


- So Reuben wasn’t there when they decided to sell Joseph?  But it seems he was there when they slaughtered the goat and pretended that Joseph had been killed.  This is a very confusingly written passage.

The last line seems to me like some cheap conjuror’s banter – can you confirm to the audience that this is indeed your card?


“He recognised it and said, “It is my son’s robe!  Some ferocious animal has devoured him.  Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.”

Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days.  All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted.  “No,” he said, “in mourning will I go down to the grave of my son.”  So his father wept for him.

Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of the Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.”

GENESIS 37:33-36


- Joseph’s brothers callously allow Israel to believe his favourite son to be dead.  They even come to him and try to comfort him, all the while knowing that they’d sold him into slavery, and if they hadn’t done that, they would have killed him.  At least Israel shows some true human emotion here, being inconsolable about the death of his son.  Maybe he truly wasn’t aware of the brother’s feelings towards Joseph.

The style of the text has changed greatly for this accounting of Joseph – not so superfluously repetitive, and has an attempt at dramatic tension and pacing.  However the net effect is like watching the worst kind of daytime soap opera, dubbed from another language, where the main family is a bunch of incestuous ‘gangsta’ types.

29 April 2007 @ 01:12 pm

“Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.

Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him.  When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.”

GENESIS 37:2-4

- What about Joseph’s younger biological brother, Benjamin?  Why wasn’t he the favourite?  Any parent knows that it isn’t good to show unfair favouritism to any particular one of their children, no matter what their actual feelings.  Israel apparently indulged his own selfish favouritism to the detriment of not only all his other sons, but Joseph as well.  And Joseph seems like a spoilt tattle-tale.  The text doesn’t tell us what the ‘bad report’ contained, or whether it was justified, it is simply assumed that because the authors are identifying Joseph as the ‘hero’ of the story, anything he might think of as ‘bad’ is, therefore, bad.  We are supposed to accept that on face value. 

It mentions the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, but neglects to mention the sons of Leah, who was responsible for a full half of the whole fraternity, as she bore Israel six sons and his daughter Dinah.  Of course, they were Joseph’s mother’s sister’s sons, Joseph’s brothers and also his cousins…I’m going to stop right there before we have to get the banjos out…


“Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more.  He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of corn out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered round mine and bowed down to it.”

His brothers said to him, "Do you intend to reign over us?  Will you actually rule us?"  And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he said.

Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers.  “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”
When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had?  Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?”  His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.”

GENESIS 37:5-11


- His father kept the matter in mind.  Well, that’s all right then.

Do the Judeo-Christian religions still believe in the prophetic nature of dreams?  I once dreamt I was a belly dancer, but nothing ever came of it.  The primitive nature of the society and its peoples depicted here is so evident from these texts.  Not that that in itself is a bad thing, but to think we should still emulate this and hold it up as an ideal…that just doesn’t seem comprehensible.   After all, would we think it right to give up Japanese stainless steel steak knives and use a piece of sharpened flint instead?  Or to give up central heating and burn dung in an open fireplace instead?  Should women give up the vote, and education and freedom of dress and speech and go back to doing embroidery while wearing a chastity belt?   Neither do I think we should give up our educational and moral advancements to live by the example of 3000-year-old nomadic shepherds.

Also, at this point, Joseph’s mother is dead.


“Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem.  Come, I am going to send you to them.”
”Very well,” he replied.

So he said to him, “Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring back word to me.”  Then he sent him off from the valley of Hebron.”
GENESIS 37:13-14


- This is Israel ‘keeping it in mind’?  He knows Joseph’s brothers hold animosity towards him, he has been angry that Joseph has suggested that Israel will have to bow to him – does it strike anyone that perhaps Joseph isn’t Daddy’s favourite any more?  Did Israel know what Joseph’s brothers would do to him, given this opportunity?
Oh, they're near Shechem - that's the place where they killed all those men after having them mutilate their genitals, and then took all the women and children as slaves.  Presumably our hero Joseph was amongst them as they did it.
26 April 2007 @ 09:21 am

“Esau took his wives from the women of Canaan:  Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Oholibamah daughter of Anah and granddaughter of Zibeon the Hivite – also Basemath, Daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth.”

GENESIS 36:2-3


- Anyone else notice the discrepancy?  Read again this passage I quoted earlier:


“When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite.  They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah”

GENESIS 26:34-35


- And also this passage:


“Then he realised how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had.”

GENESIS 28:8-9


- Adah, Oholibamah, and Basemath in one passage; and Judith, Basemath and Mahalath in the other two passages.  Can anyone say ‘discrepancies’?  Just who was Basemath’s father?  Was Esau’s second wife a Hittite or a Hivite?  I can’t help but feel that the names of these women have been ‘forgotten’ simply because no one considered Hittite or Hivite women’s names to be worth remembering.  The people, and authors, of this book have shown themselves to be completely racist when it comes to the people of Canaan, and women are treated pretty much as property anyway – like prized breeding stock.  This cannot be construed as something to admire, or emulate.  God’s chosen are racist, bigamist, sexist, petty-minded slave traders.

25 April 2007 @ 05:44 pm

“Then God said to Jacob, “Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Easu.”



- Why does God keep referring to Himself in the third person?  How many-faceted is He supposed to be?


“So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes.  Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.”  So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods they had and the rings in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the oak at Shechem.  Then they set out, and the terror of God fell upon the towns all around them so that no-one pursues them.”

GENESIS 35:2-5


- You’d think that having appeared so many times during this period of ‘history’, there’d be more evidence to support the fact that God exists and can manifest Himself on Earth.  Where are all the stone pillars that were erected by Jacob and his predecessors?  If Stonehenge can survive from approximately 3000BC then surely Jacob’s altars would also survive?  Maybe not all of them, I’m aware of how time can plunder archaeology more efficiently than any tomb raider, but surely one, single, unequivocal, example would exist? 

It seems also, at this time, the people with Jacob (it now appears that it is not just his family with him, but others also) worshipped other Gods.  Polytheism.  Many Gods existed before Jacob and his followers brought monotheism, and patriarchal monotheism at that, to the wider world.  What significance are the earrings?  Jacob’s grandmother Rebekah was given a nose ring and bracelets by the servant sent to engage her on behalf of Abraham, I would assume that the earrings have some similar significance.

‘The Terror of God’, again, why the fear?  If God is all-knowing, all-powerful and all-loving, then why does He need to instil fear into the general populace?  Is it right that we should worship something we fear?  I don’t see many Spider Cultists around here…

I keep seeing that shot from The Lord of the Rings, where Barleyman, the owner of The Prancing Pony at Bree, cowers in fear behind his bar as the Ring Wraiths stalk by.  Is this really what the Judeo-Christian God really is, the BC equivalent of a Ring Wraith? 


“After Jacob returned from Paddan Aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him.  God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.”  So he named him Israel.”

GENESIS 35:9-10


- Just because you repeat everything you say and simply swap words around, doesn’t mean it is any more valid or meaningful.

There is also no mention of Jacob going to Paddan Aram, so why are we supposed to care that he’d just returned? 

Also – God did this already during his ‘wrestling’ with Jacob: GENESIS 32:28

Jacob didn’t appear to be listening the first time.

“Then they moved on from Bethel.  While they were still some distance away from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty.  And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t be afraid, for you have another son.”  As she breathed her last – for she was dying – she named her son Ben-Oni.  But his father named him Benjamin.

So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).  Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel’s tomb.”

GENESIS 35:16-20


- Does it really?  We know where Bethlehem is – where is this pillar marking Rachel’s tomb?  Genuinely, if anyone knows then please drop me a link.

They moved on from Bethel pretty fast, considering it was God that told them to go there, and then made a presentation of the land to Jacob and ‘all your descendents after you’.

‘Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty’ – yeah, you can thank your husband’s God for that.  You’d think Jacob could have respected his wife’s last wish and kept the name Rachel had given to their son.  Apparently the name ‘Benjamin’ means ‘son of my right hand’.  Maybe Jacob was saying that Rachel had been his ‘right hand’.  Or something.


“Israel moved on again and pitched his tent beyond Migdal Eder.  While Israel was living in that region, Reuben went in and slept with his father’s concubine Bilhah, and Israel heard of it.”

GENESIS 35:21-22


- Sleeping with your father’s mistress?  There are those family values again.  Israel may have heard of it, but Reuben is not punished, or reprimanded, or even congratulated.  There is no mention of it at all beyond this passage.