Somewhere along the way, I had developed preconceived notions or beliefs about the Bible. I watched documentaries like Religulous, read articles and books from other people, and adopted their points of view as my own. You could find me regurgitating all the classic anti-Christianity lines. “There are so many despicable things in the Bible! How could God sign off on such a terrible book!?” “Am I really to believe that these supernatural miracles were real events? Two thousand years ago, no less? Give me a break.” Well, I sauntered through my twenties with these notions and beliefs and went absolutely nowhere with them. Actually, I went downhill pretty fast. Well, recently, it had finally occurred to me that I have never read the Bible for myself. Have the people that I gathered secondhand knowledge from about the Bible read it? The Bible is something like 1,300 pages long. It’s a lot of work to read the whole thing, and given the lack of effort people put into anything these days, I figured that to be a long shot. How could I fully discredit something that I have never personally investigated? Accompanied with the necessity to find a spiritual way of life, I thought it was time to put my money where my mouth is and read the Bible myself.
Before I get to the notes, I have to say that the Bible is meant to be explored. I got into a tilt the other day with my sponsor when I was telling him certain things that I *may* have discovered while reading. For example, it’s possible that Nimrod was the Egyptian god “Osiris,” and that God may have had him slain for thinking he was on the same level. “Does it say that in the Bible?” he asked. No, it doesn’t. While I understand his point, that approach to reading books is how kids learn nothing in school. If you ask a kid who George Washington was, they might say, “George Washington was the first President of the United States,” like a robot. You will never hear them say, “forget Founding Fathers, George Washington was the Father of America in many ways. You know, when Washington saw Braddock assassinated by the French and Indians in the Battle of Monongahela, maybe that’s when he decided he didn’t want to fight with the British. Maybe that’s when he found out he could beat them.” Again, while I understand the point he was trying to make, that is not how the Bible is meant to be read. It’s not just words on paper. They mean something. Read and explore. After all, that is what “seeking” is. Anyway, with no further ado, here is what I gathered from the book of Genesis:
The Creation. I contend that people find God within themselves. With that said, there is a reason you see people exercising their spirituality at places like the beach, in the mountains, or under a tree. You hear God by way of the birds singing, the crashing of waves, or the whistle of the wind. You feel God’s presence with that wind, through the beaming of the sun, or the mist of the ocean. God is everywhere, but we find Him within ourselves. He made us in His image, and that’s where He is.
Adam and Eve. This might be something: There is only life. Our ideas of good and evil are simply that. Ideas. It might be that because of these artificially constructed ideas of good and evil that we have had division since the beginning of time. What is good for one person may be evil for somebody else. Perhaps if we make a concerted effort to view life in this manner, we would all be better off.
Every living thing on this planet is part of God’s creation and should be treated as such.
I think I understand the concept of gender fluidity with the creation of Eve. It isn’t so much that men and women “need each other,” although I would argue that marriage is a design for living that works best, but it is more so that we need to incorporate some combination of masculine and feminine qualities into our lives. We can see how necessary a combination of the two are when raising kids. With only one parent in the picture, the kid is forced to take on the responsibility of parenting himself. Fortunately, I never had to do that, but that appears an extremely difficult task. Perhaps even a lifelong task.
“They were both naked, the man and his wife, and they were not ashamed.” You know, the majority of these verses do not require complex interpretations. There is no reason to be ashamed of what we look like. We should not try to alter the form God has given us, nor treat it poorly. Preserve it to the best of our ability. This is cheesy stuff, but beauty does lay on the inside. How often does an infatuation with physical appearance, whether it be our own or somebody else’s, wind up being in any way productive?
The Fall. The Bible is the truth, man. Here’s a short synopsis of the book: “Most of the time life is going to suck, but if you live properly, which we’ve outlined how to do in this book, it will suck a lot less. It might even be worth it.”
Genesis 3:24 says, “So he drove out the man, and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim’s, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” One of the books I have been attempting to read is Carl Jung’s Symbols of Transformation. It’s an arduous read. I hardly understand any of it, but one of the passages that I have been able to get something out of was the analysis of the poem “The Moth and the Sun.” This is getting long already, so I’ll try to condense it. Basically, you will “burn your wings,” attempting to become God-like. Don’t fly too close to the sun.
Cain and Abel. I had a friend in high school who got really bad grades, which is interesting to write considering the eventual point is that it doesn’t matter, but bad grades as in all F’s. However, he knew somebody that knew somebody. This friend wound up getting a high-paying job because of that somebody, and now has everything I’ve ever wanted out of life. Marriage, kids, family, a house, the whole works. “What a joke,” I thought to myself. How is it that this “screw-up” has everything I want, and I am still without? This is the mindset of Cain. You know what’s a joke, though? Half-assing my way through everything and expecting better results than someone else. It must be something we do a lot; otherwise, this story wouldn’t be in the Bible – because I believe this is an accurate interpretation of Cain and Abel. God is not pleased with half-measures, and rightfully so. If we are honest with ourselves, we can feel that displeasure within. Later on, I thought to myself that maybe that was my friend’s best attempt. It doesn’t matter what I think about it. Maybe it was his best, and it because it was his best, he has what he was. Anyone’s best effort is always better than your half effort. That could be the takeaway.
Man’s Wickedness. This is one of the most interesting areas of the Bible. We would never say that God made a mistake, but He is about to wipe out his own creation by way of a flood. Is it an admission of guilt? “For it repenteth me that I have made them.” People often debate over the idea that God has a plan for us vs. God giving us free will. I think the Bible is telling us that it is the latter. God doesn’t necessarily “intervene” in our lives, or in the world itself. At least it doesn’t look that way; otherwise, we would not be where we are in society today. Here’s an analogy that comes to mind when thinking about God feeling negatively towards creation: How would the Founding Fathers of America feel toward what they essentially created if they were able to see it today? Would they feel something like, “this is never what we intended,” and would they feel that the country would be better off if most of the people in it were wiped out? Humans mess things up. This pains God because we are His.
Noah and the Flood. For all the beauty we can find in Mother Nature, it can take us out just as well. As a matter of fact, it *will* take us out. You kind of just hope to not be alive when she decides to wipe everyone out. In the meantime, “minor” catastrophes and disasters are inevitable. Death, disease, earthquakes, fires, and floods to name just a few, will continue to happen. Who do we want to be when they do? “Aim to be the strongest person at your father’s funeral.” How’s that for a goal? Noah was that in the eyes of the Lord.
The Flood Recedes. If we do our best to be like Noah, when disaster and catastrophe have receded, people will have someone to point to as a reason not to fall into the depths of nihilism. Wouldn’t that be something to be that person?
The Noahic Covenant. A recurring sentiment from God is to “be fruitful and multiply.” It is because of this that I am in adamant disagreement with the popular figures who advocate for depopulation, or when they encourage people to stop having kids. No. God, who is Mother Nature, will sort that out himself, or herself in this case. God’s pronouns are He/Her. With that joke out of the way, I suppose it needs to be said that the rainbow represents the covenant between Him and all flesh that is on the earth. He will never flood the earth again. This isn’t a shot, but the rainbow has nothing to do with who you are currently choosing to have sex with.
The Sons of Noah. Shem, Ham, and Japheth are the sons of Noah. Ham is the father of Canaan. This is an interesting little story. I’ve read theories about it being a condemnation of homosexuality, but I don’t see that here. Noah gets wasted and passes out in his tent. Ham, in what reads as an accident, walks into the tent, and finds his dad passed out drunk and naked. In lieu of this, Ham tells his two brothers, “Dad is passed out, balls-naked.” Shem and Japheth take a garment and cover Noah while turning away their faces so they don’t see him. This is all the Bible says that happened. Noah finds out that Ham saw him in that state and proceeds to curse Canaan, Ham’s son, who had nothing to do with the matter. Maybe it’s this: 1) Never disparage your parents no matter what the case may be. After all, they are the reason that you are here. I got into a bit of a debate with a woman on Twitter recently after she disputed a claim that “a relationship with your child is potentially the highest quality relationship one can have.” She said the relationship she had with her mother was the worst she has ever had. Fair enough. Be that as it may, our parents’ mere existence is the reason that one has the opportunity to do a better job than they did if, of course, you feel that way. Imagine if we could be grateful even for the people that have done us the most harm. What a pleasant state of being that would be. Finally, 2) The worst punishment for a parent is for them to watch their son or daughter suffer. “A Mother is only as happy as her saddest child.”
The Tower of Babel. A small fragment pops up here out of nowhere, but it potentially means a lot. Without injecting any “theories,” much like the flaming sword, God does not want us to fool ourselves into thinking that we are like him. Something like that, I mean, I don’t know. I’m kind of typing out loud here, but it is something to that effect. Obviously, we do our best to emulate the ideal of what God represents, and if we succeed in any minute way, then we are better humans because of that. However, pride comes before the fall. We see that happen to ourselves almost always. As soon as I start to think that I am better than I actually am, BAM, life hits me, and it’s a long way down. So, it seems God knows that he must keep us at bay, and maybe even reluctantly. There is proof of this, you know? What happens when we lose humility? Nothing good.
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 crap about you. You’re causing problems with the people 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.
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 does not believe 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 fewer 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. Herein 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 for 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 someday), 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.
Esau Sells His Birthright. You can think of this scenario as one of a drug dealer dealing drugs to an addict. The addict, although perhaps willingly delusional about the severity of the situation, convinces themselves that they need to escape the momentary pain they are in immediately. Esau is ripe for the taking, and Jacob takes advantage of him by stealing his birthright. Neither Jacob nor Esau are justified in their actions, and both eventually face consequences for them. Instant gratification is the opposite of what a sacrifice should be. Sacrifice is giving up something in the present, so that one may improve their future. Esau sacrifices his future for the present, and it leads to the worst of resentments. Eventually, he vows to kill his own brother.
Isaac and Abimelek. We emulate our parents to some degree, even if our parents’ behavior is a bit peculiar. History repeats itself as Isaac tells the Philistines that his wife is his sister for fear that they might kill him. Abimelek notices the obvious relationship between Isaac and Rebekah. We cannot hide for long. The piper always gets paid.
It is very difficult to “break the chain.” We are almost destined to have similar tendencies or to repeat the behaviors of our ancestors. The first step into overcoming this might be to simply be aware that this is what it is – our “prarabdha karma,” or allotted karma.
I’m not sure what the genesis of the phrase “going back to the well” is, but it might be found in this story. Isaac returns to the wells that sustained his ancestors before him. We are miniature versions of our parents, but part of the journey is determining what aspects we wish to keep and which we wish to shed. It’s not as if we have a choice in our genetics, but it doesn’t matter. It is our responsibility to take that on that blessing – or burden.
Isaac Blesses Jacob. There isn’t mention of this in the Bible, but it doesn’t appear that there is a lot of respect left in the marriage between Isaac and Rebekah. That sometimes happens with parents when they have kids. Their entire existence becomes their favorite child, and they lose interest in the marriage. In turn, the parent can behave rather irrationally in regard to the son or daughter, which might mean turning a blind eye to the wrongdoing of the child or manipulating people to get them ahead. Rebekah has invested one hundred percent of her existence into Jacob, leaving nothing left for Isaac and Esau. You could say the same thing in reverse. Isaac’s favorite son was Esau. He lived vicariously through him, which did not leave a whole lot for Rebekah or Jacob.
Jacob Escapes from Esau. Rebekah compounds an original lie with another. The truth is no faucet. We can’t just turn it on or off whenever we choose. It is more like quicksand. When we behave deceitfully, we have to cover up the first lie with another, then another, until we are immersed in painful dishonesty. Esau becomes understandably resentful, descending into the pits of nihilism, and even goes as far as plotting to kill his brother. He becomes a contrarian of sorts, going against the grain on anything his family values and loves, and what or who do they love more than the favorite son? This happens, you know? I’m sure that we have all been there. Maybe not to the extent of wanting to murder, but the frame of mind in which we say to ourselves, “Well, screw it, screw them, and screw everybody.” Even if we have our reasons for falling into this line of thinking, it is in no way productive, and it certainly does not get us out of the aforementioned depths of nihilism. The consequences of Esau’s resentments, however reasonable, are too grave. God protects Esau from himself.
Jacob’s Dream at Bethel. What are dreams? A possible definition might be that a dream is something that is attempting to express to us through imagery what we already know deep down but are not yet able to articulate. The question becomes, what exactly is that something? The dream happens to us involuntarily. We have not a clue where it comes from. Some might call that something God, and I don’t have any reason to disagree. God reveals the future to Jacob by way of the dream. Ever had that happen before? This isn’t a great example, but I can remember before I had ever taken my first drink or smoked my first bowl, that I had a dream the night before of doing exactly that. Voila. The next night it happened. You might say that engaging in these activities had been on my mind prior to the dream, but I don’t recall ever imagining that. A better example might be that when I was in my teens, I had a dream about “partying in Oregon.” As fate would have it, the genesis of alcoholism took place in Oregon years later.
Jacob Meets Rachel. “I dress this way and put on this make-up for me. Not for men.” “I don’t try to impress girls.” Both of these statements, or any equivalent statement, are of course, lies. Maybe they aren’t, but in that case, what is it that they’re really saying? “I am way more into myself than I am anybody else.” Fair enough. Let me know how that goes. It’s not just human nature; it is universally natural to try to impress, or attract might be a better word, a potential “mate.” Hell, the entire first chapter in “12 Rules For Life” is dedicated to how lobsters do this.
Jacob Marries Leah and Rachel. Well, Jacob gets swindled by Laban here, doesn’t he? That’s how it goes. I just wrote about something similar to this in my latest piece, “The Trap of the Stolen Tennis Ball.” It goes something like this: Whether you are the perpetrator or the victim, at some point, you will inevitably become the other, or feel an equivalent pain. This is what happens to Jacob. Some people call it “karma,” but people have misunderstood what karma is, as did I. Karma is what we came into this life with. We did not choose to be born a certain way, have certain character defects or features, or look the way we look. What karma means is to accept these things the way they are, and to take personal responsibility to either live with or change these things. When one receives their comeuppance, that is not karma. Anyway, I suppose that is a bit of a tangent, but Jacob certainly receives his comeuppance, as tends to happen in life. Be thankful if you receive your comeuppance, for you have been given a way out.
Jacob’s Children. This is difficult to say, but God takes pity on the less attractive. In this case, He definitely does, but I suspect this to be true in many cases. We see quite often lesser attractive men wind up with more attractive women. Thank God for that. However, it is not often that we see lesser attractive women winding up with more desirable men. Leah is in a very sad, and unfortunate predicament. God looks favorably upon her, though, and gives her everything she could ever want before her archrival does. It’s kind of like the Anaheim Ducks winning the Stanley Cup before the Kings. The Ducks did it first, and we Kings fans can’t take that away from them, but the Kings had “Joseph,” so to speak. Unfortunately, you have to be a hockey fan to understand that analogy.
The story of Leah and Rachel is virtually the same as Jacob and Esau’s. Leah trades her “mandrakes” (synonymous with Esau’s birthright) with Rachel in exchange for what appears to be a night with her husband. Judging from these passages, it would seem that Jacob neglected Leah. Rachel takes advantage of Leah’s unmitigated desire to be loved. Since I am using the trade analogy quite a bit in this section, it must be said that, in some cases, neither side wins a trade. That is especially true on this occasion. Leah finds herself pumping out kids for no other reason than to procure Jacob’s love. Rachel attempts to circumnavigate God’s plan by putting more faith into the mandrakes than God himself. In the end, all this achieves is more pain and resentment. It dawns on me that these are just supposed to be notes, so I’ll wrap this paragraph up with the following question: Is it true that, generally speaking (I’m sick of hearing people come up with some obscure, rare, anecdotal case that they think disproves a pattern), due to men being so willing to tell attractive women whatever they want to hear, that they have to wait longer to find a love that is indeed “true?”
Lastly, I discovered something amazing on speakupministries.org. Here are the names of Jacob’s sons and their meanings:
Reuben: Behold, A Son
Simeon: One who hears
Judah: Praise the Lord
Dan: He Judged
Gad: Good fortune
Joseph: He will add
Benjamin: Son of righteousness
Which comes out to: Behold, A Son is born unto us, one who hears us and became attached unto us. Praise the Lord; He judged our struggle and brought us good fortune, happiness, reward, honor; He added to his family and called us the sons of righteousness.
Wow. Again, that is speakupministries.org.
Jacob’s Agreement with Laban. While I wish it were, life is not like a video game. It does not give us notifications to let us know when we have “leveled up,” if you will. There is no loading screen telling us that we are ready to move on to the next chapter of our lives. That realization seems to come intuitively. From my experience, I believe that “notification” comes by way of frustration or complacency. A sort of thinking that says, “I have accomplished everything that I was supposed to. Possibly more.” Jacob worked as hard as he possibly could have for the things he wanted. This is the major takeaway for me in regard to Jacob. I *think* I want a lot of things, but there is no easy way out to get them if it is indeed something that I truly want. God practically says to Jacob (and us), “Okay. You really want that? Prove it to me, and I will make it so.” Of course, it is possible that He won’t, but that probably depends on what one’s motivations are.
I am having a hard time interpreting the story about Jacob’s breeding method with the goats, sheep, the speckled, and the spotted. The only thing that I can come up with is that Jacob had a bit of an outrageous idea, but he believed in it anyway. “Let’s see if this works. Might as well go for it.” A lot of ideas tend to work out with that reasoning behind them. God blessed the idea, and he was on his way. If you believe that there is a possibility that your idea is any good, go for it.
Jacob Flees from Laban. Jacob essentially walks off the job without putting in his two weeks. Hey, when it is time to go, it is time to go. “Who’s coming with me, man?” asks Jacob. It turns out that his two wives, Leah and Rachel, decided to go with him. Maybe this is the first time they have agreed with each other in quite some time. They would rather pack up and skip town than stay with their father Laban.
The dynamic between Jacob and Laban is very much “you can’t bullshit a bullshitter.” However, it seems that for twenty years or so that Jacob laid to rest bullshitting people. Now, that does not mean that he has forgotten how to bullshit. Laban, after changing his wages on Jacob ten times over, leaves enough wiggle room for Jacob to bring out the master manipulator when the situation called for it. That is if you can even call this “manipulating.”
An interesting part of this story is Rachel stealing the “idols” of her father Laban. One of two reasons, probably, 1) Rachel did not want Laban to continue his idolatry, or 2) Rachel believed in these idols the same way that Laban did and did not want Laban to use them to track her down. Hopefully, the first one.
Laban Pursues Jacob. Your (our) past is Liam Neeson. It will track us down, and it will find us. Laban is representative of the past, I believe. Jacob responds rather cold to Laban, and rightfully so. Laban, the past, is trying to prevent Jacob from moving forward, but what was meant to be accomplished has been accomplished. This is the proper way to respond to the past, particularly if it is indeed something that could indeed hold you back. The relationship between Jacob and Laban had run its course. They choose to remain cordial, but for the most part, it is finished. A lot of people can relate to that, or should relate to that. Unfortunately, if you need a personal example from me, I think I’ve been more Laban than Jacob as of late.
As mentioned in the prior fragment, there is something to the part of the story where Rachel hides Laban’s “idols,” and Laban not being able to find them. Maybe there is a part of the past that is still with you. You might even have a certain affinity for that thing of the past, but this does not mean that you should let it be discovered. This is especially true it will pull you backward rather than forward.
Laban’s Covenant with Jacob. In the “Big Book” it says that “we will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.” Something like that is taking place here with Jacob and Laban. Laban’s “concession” is hardly a concession. “All of this is mine,” he says, but he cannot find what he was looking for. God only knows how far back Laban would have pulled Jacob, Leah, and Rachel if he had. They make some kind of amends with each other, though, which I think is important as “resentment is the number one offender.” It’s particularly important for what is yet to come. Jacob had to learn how to quell any resentments of his own before his upcoming encounter with Esau.
Jacob Prepares to Meet Esau. Jacob finds himself in the “Trap of the Stolen Tennis Ball.” He knows how it feels to be a victim of manipulation, and now the consequences of his prior actions are about to rear their ugly head yet again. An equal amount of suffering must be felt akin to the suffering one inflicted. Jacob is petrified of his upcoming encounter with his brother Esau for obvious reasons. Hell, he might be killed. His mind is racing in several different directions without knowing what is about to happen, or how Esau feels toward him. The pendulum rapidly swings back and forth between putting full trust in God and taking matters into his own hands. That happens to us. We pray, and almost immediately fall victim to our fears and our own will. When Jacob tries to take matters into his own hands, offering Esau gifts to buy his mercy, he only inflicts more fear and anxiety unto himself. If Jacob were to fully surrender himself to God, he could have avoided this suffering. What will happen is what will happen. Nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.
Jacob Wrestles with God. My favorite section of Genesis. I suppose I am caught in two minds with the story. Originally, I thought that it was a story saying that if you want something, truly want something, prove to God and to yourself that you actually want it. Don’t just lie in bed thinking about what you want, or what you could be. If you are willing to wrestle with God for it then maybe He will let you prevail and maybe He will make it so. However, Genesis 32 makes clear that a “man,” or that God, came to wrestle with him. Maybe God came to Jacob in order to wrestle out every last drop of self-reliance that Jacob was so desperately clinging on to. Maybe that’s why the fight lasted so long – because Jacob so badly wanted to do things his way – to get his way. Finally, the “man” dislocates Jacob’s hip. At this point, Jacob clutches on to God with everything he has and refuses to let go, but perhaps not because he still has fight left in him; perhaps this is because Jacob knew he had been defeated by God, and this is more of a situation of Jack and Rose telling each other they will never let go. Of course, those two eventually did let go, but Jacob probably realizes that he cannot fight his battles without God. “This is how I fight my battles!” In the end, Jacob’s name is changed to Israel, which could either mean “he who wrestles with God,” or simply, “God rules.”
Jacob Meets Esau. “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” – Mark Twain. Jacob puts himself forward as the first one to greet Esau. A transformation of sorts due to the prior events. He doesn’t hide. Esau greets him, and they weep together. God had worked in both of their lives, and it is beautiful proof that people can and do change. Although Esau doesn’t necessarily need or want the gifts, he accepts them anyway as a way to let Jacob know that he had been forgiven. Although Jacob (and Esau) underwent a transformation, Jacob decides to sojourn away from Esau, perhaps because he is still afraid. Hey, we claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.
Dinah is Defiled. A bit difficult to interpret this. It makes clear that Shechem “defiled” Dinah, but it also makes clear that he loved her. Some people have interpreted this defilation as rape, but my contention is, “whatever happened to just read the black parts?” Yes, in some cases, we are left to our own devices for interpretation, but if God wanted it to be clear that this was rape, He would have let it be known. This defilation, in my personal opinion, was that of Shechem allowing his burning attraction to Dinah spiral out of control, and the issue was what sexual acts were committed. The Bible also makes clear that Shechem wanted Dinah to be his wife. This leads me to conclude that God does not want us treating our wife-to-be, or any woman for that matter, as if she were a porn star. Does it not reflect poorly on a man when he is in public talking about whatever crude sexual acts he performs on his wife?
Simeon and Levi kill all the male inhabitants of Hamor and Shechem’s city after an arrangement was made. Jacob is displeased with his two sons. However, they felt about Dinah’s defilation, it does not justify breaking a pre-existing agreement. The door is now open for revenge, and Jacob, along with his family, now have to face inevitable consequences.
Jacob Returns to Bethel. There are many different answers to the question of “where is home?” “Where the heart is” some people say. Home is wherever you find God. Larry Fleet finds Him in his Chevrolet with the windows down. He does that a lot.
Mistakes were made and “the path” was deviated from, but so long as we are breathing, it is never too late to right the ship. No matter what predicament we find ourselves in, the will of God exists, and because of this, there is a way. His way; “The” way.
Once again, we see children emulating their parents. Jacob’s children also keep with them “idols,” which Jacob commands they leave behind before the sojourn to Bethel. He also commands them to change their garments. There is something to that. Any time we feel that we have undergone a transformation of sorts, maybe we should change our appearance if even just a tiny change. Continual staring at an older version of ourselves may lead us to continuing to behave like the older version.
The Deaths of Rachel and Isaac. Rachel calls her last son “Ben-Oni,” meaning ‘son of my sorrow.’ This is, again, from Enduring Word:
“Ultimately, this shows the futility of Rachel’s competition with her sister Leah. Now at the time of her final “victory,” all she found was sorrow.”
It takes Rachel until her last breaths to realize that the everlasting competition between her and her sister was a fruitless endeavor. She gives birth to who appear to be the “favored” sons, Joseph and Benjamin, but this is no preponderance. Rachel dies a sad death – a death that she asked for. “Give me children, or I’ll die,” she said earlier in Genesis. Be careful what you pray or wish for.
Reuben sleeps with Jacob’s “concubine.” “The apple does not fall far from the tree.” We see this repeatedly in Genesis, and it happens to be quite a perfect saying, all things considered. This sort of “Jerry Springer” saga continues as none of the twelve sons of Jacob seem to be able to break their karmic chains.
This might sound weird to say, but a nice end to Genesis 35 as Jacob and Esau reunite to bury their aging father, Isaac.
Joseph’s Dreams. Joseph tells his brothers and his father some pretentious dreams, and as you can imagine, they do not take very kindly to them. Something like, “Who does this seventeen-year-old kid think he is telling us that he is going to be our superior?” Mr. Joseph is clearly the favorite son out of the twelve, as signified by the coat of many colors. There is a lot in that, the coat of many colors, but these are notes. All we need to know, really, is that the coat represents status and/or privilege. Even though Jacob, Joseph’s father, is perturbed by Joseph’s dreams himself, he is well-accustomed to that of the dream, so he understood that it would behoove him to take the dreams into consideration. Jacob has enough evidence at his disposal to understand that it is most likely Joseph that will continue the legacy of Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Joseph Sold into Slavery. The story of Joseph being sold into slavery is very similar to that of Jesus. Joseph is betrayed by people who are supposed to be closest to him, thrown into a pit (and into prison), but is eventually “resurrected,” if you will. Obviously, Joseph does not have much to do with the developments, but is it not the goal to emulate Jesus to the best of our ability? It is evident that Joseph is “the one.” At least the one that God chose.
Reuben and Judah, but Reuben in particular, turn “babyface.” In pro wrestling, if you are not familiar, when you go from bad guy to good guy, they call it a “face turn.” In the verses prior, Reuben had just done something reprehensible, sleeping with Jacob’s “side-piece,” but he has decided to turn toward the good. He knows the heartache it would cause Jacob if Joseph were to truly die, and he knows the right thing to do is not to kill his brother. I hear your snark. Yes, that should be obvious, but think of the time in which we are talking about. Nothing was off-limits, it seems. You might be thinking that this is hardly a face turn from Reuben and Judah, as they only decide to sell rather than kill Joseph, but it is the beginning – the genesis of a face turn.
Jacob grieves the loss of Joseph, unbeknownst to him that he is very much alive. Joseph’s brothers tell a very evil lie to their own father. The takeaway from all of this, however, is that if this chain of events did not take place the way they did, then we would never have seen the glory of God’s plan. A lot of terrible things happen to Joseph, but they were all a necessary component of the plan.
Judah and Tamar. You’ll have to forgive me as I don’t have much on this peculiar story. I don’t right now, anyway. It is similar to what we have seen throughout the book of Genesis, that any circumnavigation of God’s ultimate plan will inevitably fail – and fail quite miserably. Also, it could be that when we talk about God bringing one to their knees, that can manifest itself in a multitude of different ways, one of those ways being severe embarrassment. It must have been humiliating and embarrassing for Judah to be caught sleeping with a prostitute, although Tamar was just playing the role, but also to be caught attempting to demonize Tamar while he is guilty of virtually the same offense.
Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife. This story doesn’t have much to do with Potiphar’s wife in all honesty. Basically, Potiphar’s wife is sexually harassing Joseph, but Joseph does the right thing and refuses. Well, women don’t do well with rejection, so she lies to people and says that Joseph tried to have sex with her. They believe her, probably because Joseph is a slave, and Joseph is sent to prison. An unfortunate string of events, or at least on the surface, you might think it is. He was thrown into a pit, then sold into slavery, now he’s locked up, but people seem to really take to Joseph. Joseph becomes something like the top slave and the top prisoner. That’s really something. No matter what circumstance we find ourselves in, the option to do the best that we can is always there. That’s what Joseph does, and that’s probably why people like him.
It’s interesting. Whether your family loves or hates you, whichever one it is, it is almost as if we don’t have anything to do with it. Regardless of whatever happens, the members of our family are kind of destined to either love or hate us, but when we move out amongst the world that is when we really find out for sure, right? Do people truly like me or not?
Jordan Peterson (yes, again) says it pretty well in his Biblical Series. “It makes you wonder who you could be, despite the fact that other people think that you’re whatever you appear to be.”
Joseph Interprets Dreams. I used to believe that if I told somebody a dream of mine that it would immediately render whatever prediction or meaning the dream had to be null and void. With this thinking, I went through a stage where I kept my dreams to myself. Don’t do that. Dreams absolutely mean something, but the probability that we interpret our own dreams correctly isn’t very high. How could it not be? We are biased viewers of our own dream.
Joseph, the prisoner who had every reason to only care about himself, sees the baker and the butler upset and cares for them. Hey, this is probably why people (outside of his brothers) liked him so much. They need a dream interpreter, and Joseph is a confident man. He believes that he can do it probably because he knows God is with him. The dreams are interpreted, one of them is good, the other one bad, but they are accurate interpretations. Anyway, Joseph’s correct interpretation spares the butler’s life, and Joseph asks him to maybe remember that on his way out. Of course, Joseph is wronged yet again as the butler forgets to mention him. Two more years will pass before Joseph’s opportunity to leave prison comes. God’s plan.
Pharaoh’s Dreams. Pharaoh has some disturbing dreams happen to him. That’s what dreams do, right? They just happen to you involuntarily. It’s a recurring dream, which to me means that clearly, something is trying to make itself known to us. This time Joseph is remembered, and Pharaoh sends for him to interpret his dreams. Joseph says to Pharaoh that it is not really him interpreting the dreams, but that it is God. A humble man, Joseph, who understands that his God-given talents are indeed God-given. He tells Pharaoh that there will be seven years of triumph, and seven years of tragedy. The time span of seven years is a constant throughout Genesis. If we think back to when Jacob was serving under Laban, he did so for seven years, and then another seven. There is a theory that every seven years, every cell in our body has been replaced by a new cell. It is interesting to think about the automatic changes that occur from ages seven to fourteen, to twenty-one, and so on and so forth. The sticklers will, of course, point out that you can say this about the changes that occur every eight years, nine years, and ten years. That’s annoying, isn’t it? Let cool ideas be cool ideas.
Joseph Rises to Power. It’s not a Jesus-like resurrection, but as mentioned before, it is still a resurrection. From slave and prisoner to almost de facto King of Egypt. He isn’t the “face of Egypt,” as that moniker Pharoah probably wouldn’t relinquish, but the point is that Joseph is in a significant position of power. People like people who do their best. Joseph gets a wife, and she gives birth to Manasseh and Ephraim. Forgetfulness, or letting go, and fruitfulness. Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh, “For God,” he said, “has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s house.” The name of the second he called Ephraim, saying, “For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.”
Benjamin Franklin said, “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.” Joseph is aware that the famine is coming because that happens in life – things go extremely bad, and they can go bad for a long time. However, Joseph is prepared for it, and because of his preparation, people have a place that they can go when the famine comes.
Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt. Joseph’s brothers are all kind of waiting for somebody to take on the responsibility of dealing with the famine. Finally, Jacob tells them all to get out and go, but keeps his youngest son, Benjamin, at home. He is probably leery of sending his favorite son back out with his brothers. Something bad happened the last time he did that.
In this “Genesis Notes” series, we have talked a lot about “breaking the karmic chains.” Joseph seems to be an example of “it can be done.” When Joseph encounters his brothers, he still loves them but deals with them harshly to see if they learned from their past behavior. It seems that is all Joseph cared about – if they learned their lessons and grew.
By the look of it, they seem to at least have a conscience and feel guilt. They more than likely have felt the pain of this guilt for a long time. At least thirteen years. Joseph weeps when he hears his brothers feel remorse.
Joseph’s Brothers Return Home. When the brothers see that the money has been returned to them, their conscience immediately kicks in. They think of God first. In the previous fragments, we see that when they think they are about to be in a bit of trouble, they accept that it is due to their actions in the past. So, the brothers return to their father, Jacob, and inform him of what happened. Jacob is a little peeved. He sees that they no longer have Simeon with them, which reminds him that the last time they went out, they lost Joseph, and now they are requesting that they take Benjamin with them. “These things are against” Jacob, and he essentially declines. However, Reuben, in the midst of a face turn, steps up and takes responsibility. “Kill my two sons if I fail to return Benjamin to you.” The brothers are starting to turn a corner, it seems.
The Brothers Return with Benjamin. This time it is Judah who accepts responsibility. He tells an already leery Jacob that they were commanded to return to Egypt with their younger brother Benjamin. Judah tells Jacob that if they do not return with Benjamin that he could be held personally responsible. Joseph sees that his brothers did as commanded and prepares a feast for them. The tests Joseph is running his brothers through have not yet been completed, though.
The Feast with Joseph. Joseph sits his brothers down in chronological order. He is really messing with his brothers at this point. Maybe he is trying to clue them in. The feast begins, and Joseph serves Benjamin double than the rest of his brothers. One can only assume that this is to see whether or not the other brothers will become envious. Apparently, they pass the test, but there is still more testing to come. How do you know that you have learned a lesson? We can think that we have learned a lesson, but we only truly know when another circumstance presents itself. If we fall back into old behavior, obviously, we have learned nothing. So far, so good for the brothers.
Joseph Detains Benjamin. Joseph sends his brothers on their way, but unbeknownst to them he secretly places his, I guess silver cup, in Benjamin’s sack. He sends his steward after them to accuse them of stealing the cup. The brothers deny any wrongdoing, but when they empty their sacks, Joseph’s cup is revealed to be in Benjamin’s possession. “They tore their clothes, and every man loaded his donkey and returned to the city.” This is a familiar act, that of tearing their clothes. Their father, Jacob, did the same upon finding out that Joseph was “killed.” It is meant to represent a severe amount of anguish. As a group, they must have felt that they were turning a corner, only for that to be ripped out from under them. In what appears to be a final test, Joseph detains Benjamin and attempts to send the rest of his brothers on their way, probably to see if they would yet again leave one behind. Judah, who took personal responsibility for Benjamin, speaks up.
Judah’s Plea for Benjamin. Judah passes Joseph’s final test. He would not return to Jacob without Benjamin; he would not leave one of his brothers behind. They’ve accepted any possible consequence for their actions, they’ve accepted the responsibility to do better than they have, and they’ve finally come out the other side as changed men. The babyface turn has been completed.
Joseph Reveals His Identity. Well, there really isn’t a whole lot left to say as we approach the end of the story and the end of Genesis. The story has a happy ending and ends with reconciliation, peace, and contentment. Human beings don’t exactly know what to make of peace and contentment. When we find ourselves at peace, we don’t have a whole lot to say, do we? It is in tragedy, not triumph, that we have more to say. Probably because we need to be able to articulate ourselves when things are going wrong so that we have an idea of how to behave going forward. Anyway, Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers. He is not angry, resentful, or vengeful towards them. Which is good, obviously, because if he was then the story wouldn’t end the way that it does. It is interesting that Pharoah is pleased that Joseph has rekindled the relationship with his brothers. The Pharaoh in Genesis seems to be relatively good, whereas the Pharoah in Exodus is quite the opposite. We do not know for sure, but the Pharaoh in Genesis is rumored to be Sesostris III, or at least one of the three Sesostris’, and the Pharaoh in Exodus to be Ramesses II. Jacob’s spirit is revived when he finds that Joseph is still alive. Well, certainly. May we live well so that our parents live long.
Jacob’s Journey to Egypt/Jacob Settles in Goshen. God appears to Jacob in the beginning of this, and I think it is interesting that God has to repeat his name. “Jacob, Jacob.” This is most likely due to Jacob’s advanced age. He is probably a little fearful of the journey; and maybe he is a little skeptical that his son Joseph is still alive, but the Lord tells him not to be afraid. That is mostly what God’s message is. “Have no fear.” So, anyway, practically the whole family takes off to Egypt. There is a bit of a discussion about how to approach Pharoah, but it seems to go smoothly.
Joseph and the Famine. The famine is severe, but Joseph is prepared. He pretty much saves Egypt and the surrounding areas from death. Although, there was perhaps a mistake on Joseph’s part, as the transactions he made with the inhabitants of the surrounding areas led to Pharaoh having complete control. It’s hard to say, really, because he saved so many lives. What it is – is a precursor for what’s to come in Exodus, which is very much the rise of tyranny, and the escape of tyranny. As said earlier, the Pharaoh of this time, Sesostris 1, 2, or 3, is relatively good compared to Ramesses.
Jacob Blesses Joseph’s Sons, then his own. I will admit that I am becoming mentally exhausted, which might be why these are getting shorter. Maybe not, though. There might be just less in these. Anyway, it’s notable that Jacob blesses Joseph’s sons before his own. Perhaps for good reason, but Jacob might understand that his blood has something to do with the defective behavior of his offspring. In any case, he sort of calls his children out in a way. At least some of them. Reuben, Simeon, and Levi in particular. Something like, “Listen, yes, perhaps you emulated me to some degree, but your life is your responsibility. You did what you did, and you have to live with it.”
The Death of Jacob. I think Jacob probably welcomed this day. He was probably waiting for it. Jacob knew his home was with God.
The Burial of Jacob. I keep coming back to the apparent “goodness” of Pharoah. He seems to care for God’s children, this one. Again, not the Pharaoh that follows. Pharaoh goes with Joseph to bury Jacob, and I think that’s really something. Joseph made quite the impression on the people of Egypt, so much so that even the Egyptians grieved the loss of his father.
Joseph Reassures His Brothers. What do you do when the leader(s) are on their way out? I think about this quite a bit. There are some great people in my family that will eventually give way to time. The possibility that the foundation of our families collapses with the departures of the leaders is very real. Joseph’s brothers have a moment of weakness here. They think Joseph will turn heel on them because, well, if anyone knows that human beings can and will turn heel, it’s Joseph’s brothers. Well, Joseph delivers them a Godly message. “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?” What more is there to do or say? Everything is going to be alright so long as we do not abandon our faith. Maybe this is a future blog, but I can remember breaking down a bit the other night thinking to myself, “I just want somebody to tell me that it is going to be okay.” An important distinction to make: Not that it is okay not to be. Because it is not. Now this is, of course, me being in fear and not fully trusting, but that is the answer. God has already assured me, us, that all will be okay. Do not fear.
The Death of Joseph. “Joseph stayed in Egypt, he and his father’s household, and Joseph lived one hundred and ten years. Joseph saw Ephraim’s children to the third generation. Also, the children of Makir, the son of Manasseh, were brought up on Joseph’s knees.
Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. God will surely come to you and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.”
So, Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years old, and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.”
And that’s Genesis.
I want to thank you all for reading if, of course, you have. I hope that you have found these notes as useful as I have. It was a lot of work. Exhausting work, but enjoyable work. Again, thank you all for reading.