Genesis 50 — The end of the beginning
Chapter 50 of Genesis marks the end of the beginning in two ways. First, it’s the end of the first book of the Bible (which at times I thought I’d never get to!). Secondly, it marks a good time to do two things which I had decided to do several months ago, but which time and other commitments had prevented. I will explain this at the end of the message.
For Chapter 50, we see the death of two of our favorite characters from the second half of Genesis, Jacob and Joseph.
Joseph falls and weeps on his father after his father’s passing, which is touching. If the Bible were filled with more compassion and love, maybe it would be a better book. Joseph orders his servant/slaves to embalm his father, which apparently took 40 days back then. Egypt mourned Jacob for 70 days. Pretty amazing for a guy whose profession of shepherd was an "abomination" (Genesis 46:34, KJV) to Egyptians. You think I wasn’t paying attention, didn’t you?! I suppose it could be argued that they mourned him out of deference to Joseph, the guy who made them sell themselves into slavery for food. This possible inconsistency is not in the SAB I see, so maybe there’s some explanation I’m missing, or it’s just a fairly minor detail.
Pharaoh gives Joseph permission to go bury his dad in Canaan (don’t forget Joseph himself was a slave, but an important slave!) and all of Pharaoh’s servants and elders go with. The Canaanites see the Egyptians mourning (apparently not seeing it’s because of Jacob’s death) and name the place for this. When Joseph’s brothers see that Jacob is dead, they fear Joseph’s wrath. So they lie and say Daddy told Joseph to forgive them. Joseph weeps (as he is wont to do) and says it’s okay, because although they had evil intentions, it was all part of God’s great plan. So Joseph will be kind and provide for them and their families (no mention of servitude here, unlike the Egyptians!). Does Joseph know the brothers are lying? We’re not told, and their dishonesty appears to go unpunished.
Joseph eventually gets old himself, and at the ripe age of 110 he tells his descendants God will take care of them in the promised land. The end of Genesis says that Joseph was buried in Egypt. As the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible points out, this seems to go against what Jacob foretold to Joseph in Genesis 48. But, if you’re picky, you could say that Jacob did go back there, he just wasn’t buried there. If only the omniscient, infallible Yahweh and his followers would have known that this was unclear!!!
So Genesis begins with God’s creation of the world and ends with the death of two of God’s main men, who helped found the nation of Israel, which is meant to show I suppose that while God created everything, he has a special place in his heart for the Israelites. In the beginning of the chapter, God seems to be everywhere, towards the end God is pretty quiet, although I know he’ll be back again in force in Exodus.
The so-called "Good Book" starts out with Genesis, a violent, immoral, sick collection of stories that most believers know very little about, sprinkled with very rare goodness. I think if Christians and Jews took the time to read it through and thought about it with an open mind, it would really start to cast some doubts on the imaginary God they think they love, but who is likely very different than most of them imagine.
That’s the end of Genesis! There’s a lot left in the Bible, but first two announcements about my blog and site…
• I am planning to redo my website. Some visitors may be familiar with my blog only through Xanga, but for several months now I have a site which for the moment mostly features my blog. My intent is to finally have it so you don’t need to excuse my dust anymore, by revamping the site and expanding its contents to include useful links, news stories, and information. Since I’m not a professional web designer, it may take some tinkering for me to get this done, possibly a week or more.
I think the renewed site will be a much better experience for people. In addition to my blogs on the Bible, there will be a wider of variety of things to read about and explore. Right now, I have a couple of blog posts that have attracted a lot of people (in particular my Just Imagine… post, which caught the eye of over 400 people thanks to http://good.is and Skeptic Annotated Bible’s blog, Dwindling in Unbelief ). This made me realize that if I put my mind to it, I can reach more people and hopefully spark more discussion and reflection about religious issues (as well as a good dose of humor now and then)!
• I am also planning on reading the Bible cover-to-cover as soon as possible. Since it will take me years to blog the Bible in its entirety, I’ve decided that the end of Genesis is a good point to take a break from blogging chapter-by-chapter. I am going to start with Exodus, read the rest of the Bible through without stopping for posts, give some general impressions when I’m done, and then go back to chapter-by-chapter comments afterwards. This way, I can feel more knowledgeable about the book I’m talking about, and can also say that I’ve read the Bible cover-to-cover. I am sure I will find both positive and negative things in what awaits me, and I will go out of my way to note both mentally to be fair.
In the meantime as I’m renovating the site and reading the Bible, as I’ve already done here and there, I’ll also blog on other issues dealing with religion, atheism, freethought, and related current events.
I hope these changes sound good. If you have any ideas or comments, please let me know. Thank you for reading, hope you like the new site when it’s up!