Genesis Chapter 37 & 38

Chapter 37

So Jacob moved back to Canaan with the family and settled down. The author is still referring to him as both Jacob and Israel which can get confusing. Anyway, it turns out that Joseph is a little snitch and Israel loves him more than any of his other sons (he’s obviously going for father of the year). He even made him a special robe. Now, the NRSV simply calls it a long robe with sleeves, but it has been referred to as a coat of many colors, and in one musical acid trip, a technicolor dreamcoat. So take it as you will. Anyway, because of Israel’s love for Joseph, the other sons were jealous of him and hated him. And then Joseph told them about the dream he had.

6He said to them, “Listen to this dream that I dreamed. 7There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright; then your sheaves gathered around it, and bowed down to my sheaf.” 8His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Are you indeed to have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more because of his dreams and his words.

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (Gen. 6-8, p. 95). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

I’m going to guess that Joseph was a bit socially awkward and maybe wasn’t self-aware, either. I mean, the way he’s being written, he hasn’t a clue that his brothers hate him. Then he tells them about another dream where the sun, moon, and eleven stars bow down to him. His father was having none of it and rebuked him.

Joseph was sent to report on his brother who were minding the sheep, but when he got there, they were nowhere to be found. He asked a passerby where they were and he was pointed in the right direction. The brothers plotted to kill him and toss him in a pit, but Reuben didn’t like that idea, so they agreed to just throw him in a pit. So, they took his robe, threw him in the dry pit, and sat to eat lunch. Then they decided to sell him to some Midianite traders for twenty pieces of silver.

I am the younger of two brothers and I fully admit that I annoyed the crap out my brother on a near daily basis. However, I am reasonably certain that he never would have sold me to anyone for any amount (I am at least 63.275% sure of this). He probably would have killed me first.

The brothers took Joseph’s coat/robe/dreamcoat and dipped it in goat’s blood and took it back to their father who was quite upset that he tore his own clothes and then wore sackcloth and mourned. He is gonna be pissed when all those dreams come true and when he finds out that his sons got twenty pieces of silver.

Meanwhile…

The Midianite traders sold Joseph to Potiphar, the captain of the Pharaoh’s guard. I hope they made a profit (or a prophet! Guffaw).

Chapter 38

We have another soap opera chapter full of sex, wives, and deception.

1IT happened at that time that Judah went down from his brothers and settled near a certain Adullamite whose name was Hirah. 2There Judah saw the daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua; he married her and went in to her.

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 97). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Wow, no courtship, no dating, not even a pizza night in with Netflix or Hulu. They just go straight into the baby making. They had three sons, Er, Onan, and Shelah, but God saw that there was wickedness in his firstborn, Er, so God put his to death. How’d that flood work out again? Anyway, Judah instructed Onan to go into his brother’s wife and raise up offspring for his brother. Since Onan knew that the offspring would not be his (huh?) he spilled his seed on the ground. God didn’t like that either, so he struck him down as well.

Here we have another definition of Biblical marriage. If the man dies (or is struck down by God), then it his younger brother’s duty to take his wife and give him offspring.

Judah instructs Tamar to live in her father’s house as a widow until the youngest kid, Shelah, is old enough. So Tamar went home and stayed with dear ol’ dad.

OK, I’m going to summarize this part…Judah goes to Timnah to get his sheep shorn, as you do. Tamar finds out and disguises herself as a prostitute and Judah rents her services for the cost of one young goat. She asked for his signet, cord, and staff until he paid her.

Months pass and Judah has been looking everywhere for the prostitute that he promised the goat to, but she was nowhere to be found. He did find out that Tamar “played the whore” and  got herself knocked up. Judah called for her to be burned. That is until she produced Judah’s signet, cord, and staff. He said that she was in the right and that was that.

Tamar had twins, Perez and Zerah. Zerah was coming out first, but then his hand went back in and it was Perez who came out first.

Genesis Chapters 29 & 30

Chapter 29

Keep reading, you’ll get it

Things start getting a bit soap opera-y in this chapter and the next. Jacob has set out toward the land of his Uncle Laban and runs across a group of shepherds who happen to be from the Haran (where his uncle lives). While he was talking to them, Laban’s daughter, Rachel, came along with her father’s sheep (cue “Dream Weaver” by Gary Wright, kids ask your parents). Jacob proves his manliness by moving the stone from the well, and then kisses Rachel followed by him weeping aloud. He introduces himself which I think he should have done before the kissing and weeping, and she runs to tell her father.

Reading this section tells me again that this is a poem. There’s a lot of repetition, like the use of “his mother’s brother’s…” rather than just saying Laban. This is either poetry or the writers were getting paid by the word.

Jacob works for Laban for seven years so that when his time is up he can marry Rachel, who is Laban’s younger daughter. Leah is the older of the two (this will come up very shortly). Fast forward seven years and Jacob asks for his wife so that he may “go in to her”. So Laban throws a feast and in the evening sends Leah into Jacob’s room and he has relations with her. Also, the writer found it important at this point to give the reader a parenthetical that Laban gave Leah a maid, Zilpah. Jacob awoke the next morning to find not Rachel in his bed and went to confront Laban.

It is explained that in this land the younger daughter is not given away before the elder one. So he is made the offer that all he has to do is complete the week with Leah and he gets Rachel…after he works another seven years. So fast forward another seven years and Jacob finally gets to marry Rachel. Another parenthetical about Rachel’s maid, Bilhah). He has relations with her and loved her more than Leah. He then served Laban another seven years.

Let me work this out here, Jacob wanted to marry Rachel and served her father for seven years, and at no time in that seven years did it ever come up in conversation that the older daughter has to be married before the younger daughter? This seems unlikely. Then, on top of that, after dad pulled the old switcheroo, Jacob had to wait an addition seven years to marry Rachel? Fourteen years from meeting to marriage, plus an additional wife thrown in there. But wait, there’s more.

Because God took pity on Leah because Jacob loved Rachel more, he allowed her to bear children while Rachel could not. So Leah four sons, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. Then she was done.

Chapter 30

OK, things are about to go a bit Young And The Restless over here, so try to keep up, won’t you? Rachel is mad that she can’t have children, so she gives him her maid, Bilhah, to have sex with so that Rachel can have children, and so she did. She bore Jacob Dan and Naphtali. And everyone was happy…or not.

Leah would not stand for Rachel’s maid having kids with Jacob, so she gave him her maid, Zilpah. She bore him Gad and Asher. And this made Leah happy and they lived happily ever after…or not.

Rachel wanted some of Reuben’s (Leah’s firstborn son) mandrakes, but Leah was having none of it. So Rachel offers the services of Jacob for some mandrakes. So Leah and Jacob do it again and she bears Isaachar and then one more time to produce Zebulun. Finally, they do it one final time and she bears a daughter named Dinah. Finally, after all of this, the barrenness, the maids, the wives, Rachel can finally conceive and she gives Jacob a son, Joseph.

Jacob asks Laban to allow him to take his wives and children and move back home. Laban replies saying that God blessed him because of Jacob. Jacob offers to tend Laban’s sheep and goats and remove all of the speckled, striped, and black lambs as his wages, but Laban goes through the flock himself and pulls them out and puts them in the charge of his sons instead. So Jacob tends the flock and makes striped sticks out of poplar and places them in view of the stronger mating goats and sheep and they give birth to striped, speckled, and spotted offspring.

Is the Bible truly the inspired word of God? Then he would know, to quote a GEICO commercial, “That’s not how this works, that not how any of this works.” Surely the creator of the universe would know that showing a striped stick to a goat will not result in striped offspring. I can tell that science is not the strong suit here. Anyway, Jacob grows rich with flocks, herds, and slaves.