The Call of Abram. You know what I think about a lot? I am 32 years old. If I were to impregnate some unlucky lady today, I would have my first child at 33, which means I would be 51 by the time that child is 18. People are going to ask my kid if I am their grandfather. Abram was called into action by God when he was 75. It’s never too late. “Old age is simply how many conclusions one has made about life.”
Abram in Egypt. So, you finally bag the hot girl, and now you’re insecure because you don’t know if you can keep her. After all, there is a Pharaoh who can throw $100 bills at her and give her a life that you cannot. The thought of your dream-girl busting it open for another man makes you sick. My behavior can become poor with this train of thought. However, the unfortunate catch is that it is reasonable to fall into this destructive thinking. There is always somebody better. Joe Montana was the best quarterback of all-time until some kid named Tom Brady showed up. How am I supposed to contend with this? Maybe I’ll lie. Maybe I’ll convince other people to lie. For the ladies, maybe you start demanding to see his phone. Now, I (or we) am dealing in deceit, and it is like quicksand. I’ve stacked mistakes on top of each other, and the situation gets worse and worse. It isn’t so much that I don’t trust her; it’s that I have forgotten to keep my trust in the Highest Ideal, or God. Even Abram, eventually Abraham, makes mistakes. Comforting.
Abram Rescues Lot. While Abram refers to Lot as “brother,” it is unclear what the relationship between the two was (I know now that Lot is Abraham’s nephew), but it doesn’t matter. What’s the saying? “Mess with me; that’s your karma. Mess with my family; I become karma.” Something like that. There is strength in numbers. It’s heartbreaking to see people so hellbent upon having massive, blow-out political arguments with family members. Why? Save those discussions for the people who don’t give a shit about you. You’re causing problems with the people that who will go to war for you. Protect and maintain the relationships with your family no matter what the case.
The Abrahamic Covenant. You hear people saying that when you open a business you must be prepared to lose money for the first however many years. In other words, you suffer in the beginning, but you sacrifice your time, energy, and attention into this one thing in the hopes that it will be better in the future. Essentially, you believe that the future will be better than the present even if the present is already good. God can be many things, and in this case, He is emblematic of the future. We have faith in the future. God tells Abram here that his descendants are going to suffer mightily, but to maintain their faith, make sacrifices toward the highest good, and one day life will be better.
The Birth of Ishmael. Upon first read, I wanted to commend Sarai for doing what she did. If you don’t know, Sarai had not yet bore Abram a son, and because of her advanced age she believed that she may never do so. In turn, she gave her maid, Hagar, to Abram to be his wife. I thought it was big of Sarai to swallow her pride and go so far as to let another woman give Abram what she thought she could not. However, Hagar begins to look down on Sarai, and Sarai becomes resentful toward everyone involved. They have their reasons. Hagar being younger, more attractive, and having given Abram a son, probably did feel that she was better than Sarai. Sarai, having been the one who orchestrated the arrangement, probably felt that Hagar should’ve been a little more grateful, and probably became understandably jealous. Abram is not off the hook, either. He has essentially cheated on his wife and has behaved rather impulsively. This whole thing is a mess. Avoid love-triangles, kids. It’s just pain in the end.
The Lord had made a promise to Abram saying something to the effect of, “your descendants will be as many as the stars you can count.” Abram was with Sarai at the time of the Lord’s covenant with him, so it probably goes without saying that God meant that he would have a son with Sarai. Abram and Sarai had given up hope. Their trust in God had diminished, they pushed God’s plan out to sea, took matters into their own hands, and did it the wrong way. “Nooobody ever told her it’s the wroooong wayyyy.” Anyway, I think the lesson is that we stay the course. We behave as God would have us behave to the best of our ability. No matter what. We don’t get to abandon ship just because we think we aren’t getting what we deserve right when we think we deserve it. “The best things are never arrived at in haste. God is in no hurry; His plans are never rushed.” “If it’s meant to beeeee, it’ll beeee, it’ll beeeee, baby, just let it be!” From Sublime to Bebe Rexha. #Diversity.
The Covenant of Circumcision. Too much is made of this. It doesn’t matter if your parents decide to cut your dick-skin off or not. What we are discussing is the symbolism, or what the representation of circumcision is in the Bible. This “covenant of circumcision” is more of a reminder than it is a “covenant,” unlike the covenant which had already been made between God and Abram. Abram behaved impulsively when Sarai presented him with a shiny new toy to play with, and as a result received a “wild-ass-donkey” of a son. No fault of Ishmael’s, but of Abram and Sarai’s. Up to this point, the Bible and the Quran are virtually the same, or so I’ve heard. Hagar and Ishmael go one way, and we get Islam; Abraham and Isaac go the other, and we get Christianity. Interesting stuff. Anyway, what is the reminder? Abram, before being renamed Abraham in this story (Which is also interesting. Any time a character in the Bible is about to undergo a transformation of sorts, they change practically everything about themselves from their name to how they dress), used his cock for the wrong reasons, and there were consequences as a result. Circumcision is a reminder to use your penis or vagina how they are meant to be used. We all know what that is. Sorry, nut-chasers.
Isaac’s Birth Foretold. It is almost as if God was not expecting Sarah to laugh when He told Abraham she would bear a son. After all, He did ask why. You get the sense that God is frustrated with Sarah’s laughter. Maybe it is because she is not believing in the promises He is making, but I think it is also that she is selling herself short. Not only does she not truly believe that she will one day conceive, but she doesn’t believe in herself at her advanced age. “Old age is simply how many conclusions you have made about life.” Sarah has concluded to herself that because she has reached an advanced stage in her life that she is incapable of achieving certain things. When this happens to us, what are we but the walking dead? The less conclusions we come to about life; the younger we stay. We see people who have gotten themselves into the best shape of their lives at an older age. They look and feel younger than they ever have before. Being youthful is being joyful. If we have more joy in our lives than we have made conclusions about them, then we are young.
Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot’s wife turns into a pillar of salt when she looks back at the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah. When people (myself included) read the Bible through incorrect lenses, it was easy to say that taking someone out just for turning around is asinine. But that is too simplistic of a view. There is something to learn. I spent my late teens and early twenties in Portland, OR. It was probably the most fun I have ever had. However, in the end, my time spent there was in no way productive other than the fact that I had fun. People have fun in Las Vegas, but that does not mean what they are doing is “good.” My time in Portland resulted in me losing my virginity, accumulating a group of friends on my own accord, but it was also the genesis (no pun) of what eventually became alcoholism. Nobody wanted me to stay in their house. I had been kicked off the hockey team, but because I had so much fun, I lived vicariously through these years for a very long time. You could say I was living in the past, which meant I wasn’t living in the now, which meant I wasn’t truly living. Josh was a pillar of salt.
God is willing to be negotiated with. Abraham managed to drop God’s original price all the way down to what I interpret as ten percent. If ten percent of the population in Sodom and Gomorrah were righteous, then God would not destroy it. That’s comforting for us Americans. It may seem like the percentage of Americans who are “righteous” is dwindling by the day, but if we can keep the number of people who aim toward the highest good above ten percent, the United States of America will not collapse. Stay the course.
Lot and his daughters. I have heard theories that say the reason these incestual relations occurred was because they thought there was nobody left alive on Earth, but we are not here to justify the actions. We are here to determine what we can learn from each fragment. The other theory, which in my estimation is more accurate, is that this was an “echo” of wicked behavior. Admittedly, I make a lot of analogies to recovery, but when someone finally stops using or drinking, it is not like the behavioral tendencies that one instilled in themselves just magically go away. There are still remnants of past behavior. It takes time to develop new patterns, and to do away with the old ones. Here in lies my grievances with people who are quick to discredit the Bible as I once did. “There is incest in the Bible! The Bible condones incest!” No. They would know there is more to the stories if they ever picked it up and read it themselves.
Abraham and Abimelek. I’m not certain what game God is trying to play here. That is the most intriguing thing to me about this section. Obviously, Abraham tells a lie, and he may have his reasons in so doing, but God kind of plays dumb with Abimelek. He knows that Abimelek has not done wrong but threatens him anyway. Abimelek explains his innocence and God basically says, “Yeah, I know. However, that is only because I didn’t let you sin.” Maybe this implies that although Abimelek did not go near Sarah, he may have had some “impure” thoughts. It doesn’t say that, but maybe that is what “I did not let you touch her” means. Perhaps what is trying to be conveyed is that you may find yourself in a precarious position that you had little to no idea about, but that does not excuse you from taking responsibility for any potential wrongdoing.
The Birth of Isaac. It seems like Sarah was worried that she would be mocked by people if she were to tell them that she would conceive. God made her laugh with his promise, but in the end, Sarah had the last laugh indeed.
Hagar and Ishmael Depart. A possible major turning point in World history. Allegedly, up until this point the Bible and the Quran are identical. Abraham and Sarah send Hagar and Ishmael out, and this becomes the genesis of Islam. Two seemingly warring nations are born and are still at odds today. It is important to remember that God protected Ishmael and Hagar just the same. We are all His children.
The Treaty with Abimelek. Abraham makes amends with Abimelek. After all, Abimelek did not touch Sarah even though Abraham had lied to him about their relationship. You can hear Abimelek being a little leery of Abraham in this. Maybe they are leery of each other because we don’t exactly know how Abimelek thought of Sarah, but they put any potential differences to the side in order to move forward.
The Sacrifice of Isaac. This is a bit more difficult for me because I am not a parent. I’m only able to view a parent-son or parent-daughter relationship through one lens. With that said, at some stage, our sons or daughters can no longer be “our” responsibility. They have to make a name for themselves; they have to live their own lives. That isn’t to say parents cannot help, but let’s use an example of the 40-year-old man who hasn’t made much of himself. When his parents treat him the same way they did when he was 10, the situation becomes embarrassing for everybody. The parents have to be willing to sacrifice their attachment to the child for his or her own good. At least give the child the chance to sink or swim on their own, even if there is good enough evidence that they will sink. Karma is not, “if I do something good, then something good will happen in the future,” or vice versa; Karma is taking responsibility of our own lives. Whether the child sinks or swims, at some point, has nothing to do with the parent. That is his or her karma to deal with.
The Death of Sarah. Abraham tells the Hittites that he comes to them “as a stranger.” When you lose somebody that modern people would refer to as a soulmate, you probably start to feel that way. Like a stranger. Sarah was 124 years old when she passed, which means Abraham would’ve been 134. He probably starts to think to himself that he is not that far behind, and with this realization he may have started to mentally distance himself from the World. Genesis 23 makes clear that Abraham wanted Sarah buried “out of his sight.” The weeping stage, eventually, must come to an end. Jordan Peterson has a quote that says a goal of ours might be to “be the strongest person at your father’s funeral.” Obviously, that is a tall order, but the message might be that if you must weep to do so out of sight of the people that need you to be the strongest.
Isaac and Rebekah. This is tough to condense into note-form, but one of the major takeaways is that Isaac is not to marry a Canaanite, nor is he allowed to leave the land of Canaan. The way that you overcome someplace “falling from grace” is by the family. You build from within, passing the righteous morals, values, and ethics down to the next generations, so that they continue to spread throughout wherever we are. It is the same idea that the best citizens of a particularly dreadful area must not leave; otherwise, the area is only left with the people incapable of changing it.
It doesn’t appear that Isaac knows much about Abraham sending Eliezer out to find him a wife. That’s how it seems to happen (the right person just popping up some day), although personally that is something I cannot say as of yet. Be that as it may, you don’t hear a lot of stories about people “dating,” or actively searching for “the one,” and finding them in so doing. They just pop up out of nowhere on Instagram one day with a “happy one month, babe!” caption. What the hell? She was on a “brazzers” ad just yesterday. In all seriousness, though, remember the movie 500 Days of Summer? Nobody likes Zooey Deschanel, but she is mostly right about how the game works. One day, she was sitting in a coffee shop, and she just knew. Joseph Gordon-Levitt gets all bent about it, but hate the game, bud.
Some may have to wait longer than others; for a few unfortunates the day may never come (ha!). In the meantime, our main concern should be ourselves, and our relationship to the Divine. If we are truly blessed the day will come. What if Summer had gone to the movies that day?
The Births of Jacob and Esau. There is not much to say about the story of Jacob and Esau that has not already been said in the “Biblical Series.” Something that he may have “missed,” if you could even say that, might be that it is two conflicting ideas, beliefs, or personalities that need each other in order to reach full optimization. Conservatism and liberalism. Tradition and change. Intellect and hard work. Esau is a hard-working, rugged kind of guy, whereas Jacob seems to be the more intellectual type. Both Esau and Jacob possess qualities that the other needs. You could think of Esau as the construction worker, and Jacob as the professor. If Jacob’s car were to break down in the middle of nowhere, he might be in for a long night; If you ask Esau to negotiate a fair price for the repair of the car, he might snatch at a ridiculously high first offer due to impulsivity and anxiety.
I remember one time the ex and I went to go see “Uncle Tom” on the coast of Oregon. He had built a cabin out in Gold Beach by himself. Electric, plumbing, the whole works. This man did all of it. It was so impressive, and all I could think to myself is that I know nothin’ about nothin’. Uncle Tom worked his ass off to build this million-dollar-plus cabin. That isn’t something the more intellectual types just know how to do. Everything comes so easy until one day it doesn’t. I’ve spent so much of my life on computers, which is great for what it is, but now I love the outdoors and haven’t a clue how to operate out there. We need to learn how to incorporate, on some level, the opposite value into our lives.
The Genesis Notes Pt. 2