Yet God's obviously pretty big on hierarchy and not just the hierarchy that says he's Number One. At least that's the impression I've had from reading the King James Bible this past week. I've finished reading Genesis and am part way through Exodus. I've read this much before, years ago, and I've read various bits of the book but I decided to finally give it a straight read through.
There are plenty of obvious things one can point out--and people very often have. God killing someone for not ejaculating inside the woman he's having sex with (Genesis 38:9), Lot's wife being turned into a pillar of salt for no apparent reason (Genesis 19:26), Lot's daughters basically date raping him (Genesis 19:32). Jacob and God having long, hardcore, all night sex (Genesis 32:24), which I don't have a problem with except for the fact that apparently Christians tend not to acknowledge it.
I wanted to see past this stuff and look at the basic value of the story. I found myself a little put off by not only the focus on hierarchy but on trade--whether it be goats or land or pieces of silver, the value of people is based on trade commodities. And while some might say we're not supposed to see Joseph being sold by his brothers into slavery as a good thing, Joseph himself later absolves his brothers of any wrongdoing because it was all part of God's plan and it allowed Joseph to score a lot of loot.
But okay, slavery and barter were considered essential parts of life when the bible was written. Even looking past that, the story is weirdly concerned more with being the right sort of people than with doing the right thing. It's not really clear why God is smiting Sodom, for example, he just is. There's more emphasis on the fact that one might be punished than there is on what one might be punished for. I know the Ten Commandments are coming up but it seems like a lot of undue mayhem is happening first. Then there are things where I really get the impression the book was written by multiple people who weren't quite on the same wavelength, like when Jacob sneaks in and receives the blessing that was intended for his brother Esau. It felt like it was a set up to show how one shouldn't take blessings under false pretences except nothing at all comes of it. One could say, well, that's because God intended for Jacob to get the blessing all along but then why make Isaac the middle man by duping him?
There's a weird recurring theme about husbands and wives pretending to be siblings and then almost getting into trouble when the local lord or Pharaoh almost has sex with another man's wife.
Genesis 12:18: "And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done vnto me? Why diddest thou not tell me, that she was thy wife?"
Genesis 26:9 "And Abimelech called Isaac and said, Behold, of a suretie she is thy wife: and how saidst thou, She is my sister? And Isaac said vnto him, Because I said, Lest I die for her."
I guess maybe married couples at the time must have often pretended to be siblings when it looked like someone might kill the husband to make off with the wife. And here's the bible I guess saying not to do that, accept the risk.
This is what I'm really enjoying about the book, I love the feeling of how it comes from a completely antiquated perspective.
Twitter Sonnet #712
Blank dominoes mystify no physics.
Blue stacks of bricks at evening loom so cool.
Dresses and tables clothe gingham havocs.
The light monopoly raven wore black wool.
Luxury lactose lumins pinkly rich.
Ordained in curls the candles will dally.
Unzipped lozenge fed lovers will know itch.
Retread Calliope pinions tally.
Knowledge surely dimples the iron knee.
T Jabberwock won't jibber pity now.
Discovery's hem made a doughnut sea.
A flight of fish streamed past the boiled bow.
Operated bowls wallow in super.
Ware all ye plastic containers tupper.