Friday, April 30, 2010

Genesis 27-31

The Facts (Chapter number: Verse)

27:5-17 - Rebekah overhears Isaac telling Esau to go hunt game and bring him savory food of the game so that he may bless Esau. When Esau left, Rebekah tells Jacob of Isaac's plans. She tells Jacob to go to the fields and grab two choice kids and bring them back to her so that she may prepare a savory meal for Jacob to bring to Isaac so that Isaac may bless Jacob in place of Esau. Jacob asks what he shall do if Isaac touches him, since Jacob is not as hairy as Esau. Jacob fears that if the trick is found out Isaac with curse him instead of bless him. Rebekah assures him that if he is cursed then the curse shall be upon her. Jacob does as he is told. Rebekah makes savory foods and covers Jacobs hands and bare neck with the skin of the kids. She hands at the savory food and bread to Jacob and thus Jacob goes to Isaac.
27:29 - Isaac blesses Jacob that people serve him and nations bow to him, and that Jacob be lord over his brothers and may his mother's sons bow to him.
27:42-46 - Esau is furious for losing his blessing, so Rebekah tells Jacob to flee and live with her brother Laban in Haran. She tells him to stay until Esau has forgotten his anger, and then she will send for Jacob and bring him back. Rebekah goes to Isaac and laments that Jacob may marry a Hittite, which would upset her to no end.

28:1-2 - Isaac calls Jacob and tells him that he shall not marry one of the Canaanite women, but instead he shall be sent to Laban's house and take one of Laba's daughter's for a wife.
28:5 - Isaac sends Jacob to Laban, son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob and Esau's mother.
28:6-9 - Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him to Paddan-aram to take a wife, saying that Jacob shall not marry a Canaanite, and Jacob had obeyed his father and mother. When Esau saw that the Canaanite women did not please Isaac, Esau went to Ichmael and took Mahalath (daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth) to be his wife in addition to the wives he had.
29:6 - Rachel, Laban's daughter, approaches Jacob and some shepherds.
29:9-14 - Rachel reaches Jacob with her sheep and Jacob, upon seeing his mother's brother's daughter and his mother's brother's sheep, rolled back the stone from the watering well and watered the flock of his mother's brother Laban. Then he kissed Rachel and wept aloud. He told her who he was and that he was kin and Rebekah's son and Rachel ran to tell her father. When Laban heard the news of his sister's son he ran to Jacob and kissed him. Jacob stayed with Laban for a month.
29:15-35 - Laban insists that Jacob not serve him for nothing. Laban had two daughters, Leah who had beautiful eyes, and Rachel who was graceful and beautiful. Jacob says he loves Rachel and would serve seven years for her. So he did. After the seven years, Jacob said to Laban "Give me my wife that I may go to her, for my time is complete." So Laban threw a feast and in the evening he brought Leah to Jacob, and Jacob came into her. Laban gave his maid Zilpah to Leah to be her maid. In the morning Jacob realizes that it isn't Rachel he is with. Jacob asks Laban what is the meaning of this? He served his time for Rachel so why has Laban done this? Laban says this is the custom in his land, to give the younger before the first born. Jacob completes another seven years and gets both Leah and Rachel as wives. Laban gives Rachel his maid Bilhah to be her maid. So then Jacob came into Rachel and loved her more than Leah, and completed his other seven years.

The Lord saw that Jacob didn't love Leah, so he opened up Leah's womb and made Rachel barren. Leah had a son, Reuben. She said "Since the Lord has looked down upon my affliction perhaps my husband will now love me." She conceived another son, Simeon, and again said "Because the Lord heard I am hated he gave me another son." And she conceived another son, Levi, and Leah said "Now my husband will be joined to me for I have bore him three sons." Leah conceives another son, Judah, and said "This time I shall praise the Lord," and she ceased bearing children.

30:1-23 - When Rachel saw that she bore not children she envied Leah. She said to Jacob "Give me children or I shall die!" Jacob became angry with Rachel and asks her why she yells at him when it is God that has made her barren. Rachel gives Jacob Bilhah and tells him to go into her and that Bilhah shall conceive her children. So Jacob came into Bilhah and Bilhah bore a son for Jacob. Rachel praises God for this son and named him Dan. Bilhah conceived another son. Rachel says that she has wrestled mightily with her sister and has prevailed, so she named this son Naphtali.

When leah sees that she has stopped conceiving she gives Jacob her maid Zilpah. Zilpah bore Jacob a son, Leah cries "Good fortune" and names the son Gad. Zilpah bore Jacob another son and Leah says "Happy am I! For the woman will call me happy," and named this son Asher. In the days of the wheat harvest Reuben brought his mother Leah some mandrakes from the field. Rachel asks for some of the mandrakes and Leah asks "Is it not enough that you have taken away my husband but you would take my son's mandrakes as well?" Rachel replies, "Then he may lie with you tonight for your son's mandrakes." When Jacob came in from the field Leah ran to him and tells him she has hired him for her son's mandrakes. Jacob came into Leah that evening. Leah bears Jacob a fifth son, Leah says "God has given me my hire because I gave Jacob my maid," and named her son Issachar. Leah conceived another son and Leah says, "God has endowed me with a good dowry, now my husband will honor me," and she named her son Zebulun. Afterward she bore a daughter and named her Dinah.

And then God remembered Rachel and opened her womb. Rachel conceived a son and Rachel says, "God has taken away my reproach," and she named her son Joseph. She added, "May the Lord add me another son!"
30:25-26 - After Rachel had Joseph, Jacob asks Laban to send him away back to his home with his wives and children since he has served him.
30:43 - Jacob grew very strong and had large flocks, and male and female slaves, and camels and donkeys.

31:4 - Jacob calls for Leah and Rachel to tell them that he is leaving and taking them, his children, and his possessions.
31:14-16 - Rachel and Leah lament that there is nothing left for them in their house. Their father has sold them and been using the money given to them. So all the property that God has taken away from Laban rightfully belongs to them and their children, so they should obey God and leave.
31:17 - So Jacob sets his children and wives on camels.
31:19 - Rachel steals Laban's household gods.
31:26 - Laban catches up with Jacob and asks him why he has left and taken his daughters away as if they were captives?
31:28 - Laban wants to know why he was not permitted to kiss his sons and daughters farewell?
31:31 - Jacob says they left because he was afraid that Laban would try to take away his daughters by force.
31:32 - Jacob says that whomever has Laban's gods shall not live, bt he does not know that Rachel has stolen the gods.
31:33-35 - Laban searches Jacob's tent, Leah's tent, the tents of the maids, and then Rachel's tent. Rachel hid the household gods in the camel's saddle and sat on them. When Laban couldn't find the god Rachel tells him she is in the way of women and cannot rise off the camel's saddle.
31:38 - Jacob reminds Laban that during the twenty years that he was with him Laban's ewes and femal goats never miscarried.
31:41 - Jacob reminds Laban that he worked his fourteen years for Laban's two daughters, and then six years for his flock.
31:43 - Laban wonders aloud that these are his daughters and his children and his flocks and all that Jacob can see is Laban's. But what can he do today about these daughters of his or the children they have born?
31:50 - Jacob and Laban make a covenant, one piece of which is that Jacob will not ill-treat his daughters nor take wives in addition to them. God is the witness of this covenant.
31:55 - Laban arose the next morning and kissed his daughters and grandchildren goodbye and blessed them. Then he left.

My Comments

We once again have very passive women. Things happen to them but they do not do much to alter the current state of their affairs. And it's strange that the men in their lives are the reason they are put through such misery. If Laban hadn't tricked Jacob into sleeping with Leah then he never would have had to marry Leah, and there would not have been this rivalry between Leah and Rachel, a rivalry which was worsened by God tampering with their wombs. Why does God seem to take such joy in playing with women's reproductive faculties? And it seems the ultimate reward is always sons. Both Rachel and Leah have many sons and praise God and make a huge fuss about it. And then Leah has a daughter, and she gets one sentence. No praise for her. No huge fuss. Just a sentence that states her name and existence.

And I can't help but feel sorry for the maids. Again there is maid rape in the name of bearing children for their mistresses. What makes it worse is the only reason they were put through this was because God made Leah and Rachel barren. If God hadn't tampered with Leah and Rachel then Bilhah and Zilpah would not have been raped and had to bear children. So conclusion: being a female maid back in the Biblical times was pretty much a big bag of not good.

And how Jacob can have sex with Leah and not know it is Rachel is kind of weird to me. Especially when he is apparently so MADLY in love with her. And why switch the two? Was Leah incapable of finding a husband herself? She was apparently beautiful and had wonderful eyes, and yet Laban forced her upon Jacob. Maybe Jacob was just too good a husband to pass up since he was kin, I don't know. But it does seem odd.

And does Jacob totally lie in chapter 31? He spent chapter 30 manipulating the sheep and their breeding so that the sheep he was allowed would grow stronger and there would be more than the ones promised to Laban. But in 31 he says that was God's doing. He seems to be out right lying to his wives to manipulate them to leave with him, basically saying "You have to come with me because God wills it," and Leah and Rachel go along with it of course. There is no going against God's will.

And I think it is nice to see a father in the Bible so sad about losing his daughters and grandchildren. He did seem genuinely upset that he would not longer have his daughters. This may be an extension of the daughters as property thing that the Bible does so well, but it seems to be more than that. Laban was unfair to Jacob, but maybe he was so unfair because he didn't want Jacob to take his daughters away from him. While he was oddly manipulative of his daughters in the beginning, switching Leah for Rachel on the marriage night and all, maybe it was all done in some sort of culturally archaic fatherly love. He wanted what was best for his daughters and what was best was Jacob. And in the covenant between Laban and Jacob, Laban specifically states that Jacob may not treat his daughters poorly or take any wives other than them (I guess the maids don't count as real wives, since if this was the case Jacob has already broken the covenant before they have even made it). So it really is kinda cool to see a dad think about his daughters at all, since all too often daughters are overlooked because they are women and are not as valuable as sons.

Monday: Genesis 32-37

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Genesis 22-26

The Facts (Chapter number: Verse)

22:20 - Milcah bears children to Abraham's brother Nahor.
22:23 - Bethuel became the father of Rebekah. Milcah has eight children total.
22:24 - Abraham's concubine, Reumah, has four children.

23:1-2 - Sarah dies at the age of one hundred and twenty seven years in Hebron in the land of Canaan. Abraham weeps and mourns for Sarah. Buries her
23:19 - Abraham buries Sarah in the cave of the field Machpelah facing Hebron in the land of Canaan.

Chapter 24 - Isaac and Rebekah. Abraham asks his oldest servant to go back to his homeland and find a woman for Isaac. She must come back with the servant to live with Isaac, since Abraham does not want Isaac to leave the land God promised him. The servant goes and find himself at a watering well where the women come to get water. He asks God to show him which woman he should pick for Isaac, when he asks a woman for water she will give him water and also water his camels. Rebekah, a virgin, comes to the well and gives the servant water and draws water for his camels as well. The servant is invited back to her home to stay. The servant praises the Lord. Rebekah tells her family what happened and when her brother Laban sees the bracelets and nose ring the servant gave her he rushes to the well and invites the servant in for the night.

The servant tells the family why he is there, that Abraham sent him to get a wife for Isaac and that God showed him Rebekah at the well. After the story the servant asks if he is going to be able to take Rebekah with him, and Laban and her father Bethuel tell him yes, since it is what God wishes. He gives Rebekah and her family gold and silver and other ornaments and ate and drank with the other men. The next morning he wants to set out and Rebekah's brother and mother asked if she could stay another 10 days before leaving. The servant said that they must go. Rebekah agrees to go. Her family blesses her, wishing her many offspring, and then Rebekah and her maids leave with the servant to go to Abraham.

Isaac sees Rebekah coming. Rebekah covers herself in a veil once she knows it is Isaac. The servant tells Isaac what happened on his journey and Isaac took Rebekah into Sarah's tent, had sex with her and made her his wife. And thus Isaac was comforted in his mother's death.

25:1-2 - Abraham marries Keturah. She bears him six children.
25:6 - To the sons of his concubines Abraham gives gifts and sends them away from Isaac's land, to the East.
25:10 - Abraham dies and is buried with his wife Sarah.
25:12 - List of the descendants of Isaac, the son of Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's slave girl.
25:20-28 - Isaac was forty when he married Rebekah. Rebekah is barren so Isaac prayed to the Lord and Rebekah conceived twins. They warred within her belly and she asked the Lord "If it is to be this way, then why do I live?" The Lord explained to her that the two children within her shall be divided, one shall be stronger and the elder shall serve the younger. The children are born, Esau first with Jacob grabbing onto his heel. Isaac loved Esau because he was a hunter but Rebekah favored Jacob.

26:6-11 - Isaac settles in Gerar and tells everyone that Rebekah is his sister because he was afraid he would be killed for her because she was so beautiful. After Isaac had been there a long time King Abimelech saw Isaac fondling Rebekah. Abimelech called to Isaac "So she is your wife? Why did you tell us she was your sister? Any one of us could have lain with her and you would have brought guilt upon us!" So Abimelech told the people that whomever touches Isaac or Rebekah would be killed.
26:34-35 - When Esau was forty he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite and Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. They made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.

My Comments

Questions about Abraham offering Isaac to God (other than it being kind of a cruel thing to do to Abraham). God wants Abraham to offer up his only son but Isaac isn't his only son. Ishmael is his son as well, have we forgotten this. And why is Sarah so absent from the story? Did she have nothing to say about her only son which God blessed her with being taken as an offering? Was she even told? And how many times is God going to promise Abraham to make his offspring numerous? Does that offer expire and he has to keep doing things for God to constantly earn it again?

And the chapter where Sarah dies has only three verses mentioning her? The other seventeen are Abraham bargaining for a place to bury her. I can't help but feel that she got the short end of the stick in this chapter.

The Rebekah story is fairly unproblematic. It does honestly seem like she could have refused to go with the servant and everything would have been okay, since it seemed her brother and mother weren't all that eager for her to leave. I do think it a bit strange that it was Isaac that prayed for her to bear children, not Rebekah. And then Rebekah has to deal with an extremely painful pregnancy, with God seeming to just shrug it off. God can help a barren women bear children but he can't keep the pregnancy from being so painful that Rebekah begs to know why she is living when it is so painful. Seems God's still a bit ticked off about the apple thing.

And the fact that Isaac takes after his dad Abraham and does the same my wife is my sister thing is pretty hilarious to me. Especially when they do it to King Abimelech who has already been burned by this trick once before. And then when Abimelech finds out he's like "OMGWTFBBQ?!?!" He is NOT gonna be fooled like that again! I can just picture his face when he sees Isaac fondling Rebekah. It really does make me laugh.

Tomorrow: Genesis 27-31

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Genesis 16-21

The Facts (Chapter number: Verse)

Chapter 16 - This chapter chronicles the birth of Ishmael. Since Sarai could not bear children she gave her slave girl, an Egyptian named Hagar, to Abram as a wife. Abram came into Hagar and she conceived. When she realized she was pregnant she looked upon Sarai with contempt. When Sarai saw this she was upset with Abram because she had given Hagar to him, and Abram reminded her that Hagar was only a slave girl and Sarai could do what she wished with her. Sarai delt harshly with her and Hagar fled.

An angel of God found Hagar at a spring in the wilderness. The angel asked her what was wrong and Hagar told him she had run away from her mistress. The angel told her to go back to Sarai and submit to her and God would reward her with more children and progeny than she could count. The angel also told her to name her son Ishmael and that he would be a wild man, at odds with all of his kin. Hagar named God El-roi (God who sees) and bore Abram his son Ishmael.

17:15-19 - God renames Sarai, now calling her Sarah. God will bless Sarah and give Abraham (fka Abram) a son by her. Sarah will give rise to nations, kings and people shall come from her. Abraham scoffs, disbelieving that a man who is one hundred and a woman who is ninety could bear children. Sarah's son shall be called Isaac and she shall have him the next year.

18:6 - Abraham tells Sarah to make cakes for three visiting angels.
18:9-15 - Angels ask Abraham where his wife is. Abraham tells them she is in the tent. An angel tells him that he will return in due season and that Sarah shall have a son. Sarah overhears and laughs to herself, saying that she and her husband are both too old to have children, how can this be possible. God asks Abraham why Sarah laughed, the Lord is great and that she will bear a son. Sarah denies that she laughed because she was afraid of God and God replies "Oh yes you did."

19:8 - A mob of men demand that Lot give them the angels who have come into his home. Lot pleads them not to take the angels and offers up his two virgin daughters for the mob to do with as they please. The mob may do whatever they want with the daughters but nothing to the men since they have come under the shelter of Lot's roof.
19:12 - The angels urge Lot to take his sons, son-in-laws, daughters and anyone else he may have in the city and leave Sodom.
19:14 - Lot goes to his son-in-laws who are to marry his daughters.
19:15-16 - Angels tell Lot to take his wife and daughters and leave the city. When Lot hesitates the angels grab them all and lead them out of the city before it is destroyed.
19:26 - Lot's wife looks back at Sodom and turns into a pillar of salt.
19:30-38 - "The Shameful Origin of Moab and Ammon." Lot and his daughters live in caves outside of Zoar. Since there are no men for the daughters to have children with, they get Lot drunk and have sex with him. Lot has no idea when they laid with him or when they arose. Both daughters bore children, the oldest bore Moab and the youngest Ban-ammi.

20:2-7 - Abraham and Sarah reside in Gerar. Abraham once again tells everyone Sarah is his sister, and King Abimelech decides to take her as his wife. God comes to Abimelech and tells him that unless he wants to die he will restore Sarah to Abraham because she is his wife. Abimelech explains that he did not know, Abraham said she was his sister and Sarah said he was her brother. God said he knew that Abimelech didn't know this so that is why he is giving him a warning before he brings harm on Abimelech.
20:11-18 - Abraham tells Abimelech that he lied because he was afraid he would be killed for his wife, and that he was not technically lying since Sarah was his step-sister. He explains that he and Sarah had agreed to call her his sister wherever they went after they had left his father's house. Abimelech gave Abraham sheep and oxen and male and female slaves and restored Sarah. Abraham gets to settle wherever he pleases. Abimelech gives Abraham a thousand pieces of silver and tells Sarah that she is vindicated. After this God healed Abimelech and his wife and female slaves so they could again bear children.

21:1-7 - Sarah has Isaac just as God promised. She is very pleased.
21:8-20 - Sarah sees Ishmael playing with Isaac. She asks Abraham to cast out Hagar and Ishmael because she does not want Ishmael to inherit along side Isaac. God tells Abraham to do this and that Ishmael will still be blessed with a nation because of his promise to Abraham. The next morning Abraham gives Hagar supplies and sends her away with Ishmael. In the desert Hagar runs out of water. She hides Ishmael under a bush and weeps. God hears the voice of the boy (?) and told Hagar to not worry because he is going to make a great nation with Ishmael. God opened her eyes and Hagar sees a well of water. God was with Ishmael as he grew up in the desert and Hagar found him a wife from Egypt.

My Comments

A pleasantly woman heavy section of reading, though it is not without its issues.

I'm not surprised at all that Hagar was displeased with her pregnancy. She was basically raped and will be forced to bear Abraham's children. And then Sarah punished her because she is unhappy, which would make any woman want to escape, I think. But of course the angel tells her to go back to the abuse and have the child. And then the angel adds that Ishmael will basically be at odds with his kin after his birth. After all she's been through basically the angel just tells her to go back, deal with even more abuse and a pretty horrible life for her son, and to just trust that it'll be okay? I don't think that's a very good deal. And then to top all that off Ishmael is basically negated by God giving Sarah Isaac. Hagar just seems to get the short end of the poop stick here.

And chapter 17 and 18 offer up two more contradicting stories. It wouldn't be all that bad if the stories were even remotely similar. In one it's just God and Abraham, and the other there's visiting angels and Sarah makes cakes and overhears and God mocks her. It's just weird.

And then my favorite story, chapter 19. The judgment of Sodom. Especially 19:8. Were his daughters not under the shelter of his roof? The visitors were under the protection of his roof but apparently his daughters WHO LIVE THERE are under no such protection. And then we get the lovely story about how the daughters shamefully trick their father into having sex with them. Just such a wonderful family. Edit about verse 19:26: I did not add the part about God saying to not look back at the city because it is unclear exactly who this was told to. I was not sure if it was told to everyone or just to Lot, so I only included the verse that mentions his wife. So yes, God commanded to not look back at the city but we are not sure to whom he said this specifically, so it cannot be said for sure that Lot's wife looking back was a conscious action against God or just a curious woman looking back at a destroyed city.

And then another tale about Abraham and Sarah pretending (although technically not pretending) to be brother and sister. God still punishes Abimelech's and his women (wives and slave girls) but warns Abimelech to give Sarah back to Abraham before God kills him. Why does Abimelech get a warning? The pharaoh before got no warning, just instantly plagued.

And then we get Sarah being catty again. She gave Hagar to Abraham so that Abraham could have a son, and then when Ishmael is playing with Isaac Sarah gets pissed. This seems to be God's fault, since he intervened and gave Sarah a son of her own. So does God just like to stir up drama? Did he not realize that Hagar was already going to have Abraham's child? Though I assume he did since an angel spoke with Hagar about Ishmael. And predicted Ishmael would be at odds with his kin, so maybe Isaac was already being planned? But couldn't God have just called the whole Isaac thing off and saved Hagar and Ishmael all that suffering (Hagar more than Ishmael). So this whole Isaac v. Ishmael thing is just a bit off to me. Maybe God just REALLY wanted to show off how he could make a one hundred year old man and a ninety year old women have a child.

And at least now we have women speaking directly to God or with his angels. And the women acting, more or less, actively. A very nice change of pace. I take back my earlier comments about a lack of women interacting with God.

Tomorrow: Genesis 22-26

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Genesis 8-15

The List (Chapter number: Verse)

8:16 - God orders everyone off the Ark. Another mention of Noah's wife and his sons' wives.
8:18 - Everyone leaves the Ark. Another mention of Noah's wife and his sons' wives.

Chapter 9 - God creates covenant with Noah and his sons. Completely devoid of any women.

Chapter 10 - More genealogy. Again, devoid of any mention of women. Unless there is a daughter's name listed, I am not well versed in Biblical names. If anyone knows a name in this chapter that is a daughters name please let me know so I can add it here.

11:11 - More genealogy. Shem had other sons and daughters.
11:13 - Arpachshad had other sons and daughters.
11:15 - Shelah had other sons and daughters.
11:17 - Eber had other sons and daughters.
11:19 - Peleg had other sons and daughters.
11:21 - Reu had other sons and daughters.
11:23 - Serug had other sons and daughters.
11:25 - Nahor had other sons and daughters.
11:29 - Abram and Nahor took wives, Abram took Sarai and Nahor took Milcah. Sarai was the daughter of Haran and was barren and could not have children.
11:31 - Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot and Sarai, his daughter-in-law (Abram's wife), out of Ur into Canaan. They settled in Haran.

12:5 - Abram takes his wife Sarai and brother's son Lot out of Haran and into Canaan because God commanded him to.
12:11-20 - Abram and Sarai get to Egypt. Abram tells Sarai that since she is beautiful, if the Egyptians know that she is his wife they will kill him and take her from him. He tells her to say she is his sister. Once in Egypt, Pharaoh's officials see Sarai. They mention her to Pharaoh and Pharaoh takes her for his wife and deals well with Abram, her "brother." God punishes Pharaoh for taking Abram's wife and Pharaoh summons Abram and asks him why he has lied to him like this? Pharaoh had taken Sarai because Abram said she was his sister. Pharaoh sent Abram away with his wife and all that Abram had.

13:1 - Abram, Lot and Sarai enter Negrab.

14:16 - Abram defeats the "enemy" (I'm pretty sure this is Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him) that kidnapped Lot. Abram brings back his nephew Lot with his goods, and all the women and the people.

15:9 - Three year old heifer, three year old female goat, three year old ram, a turtledove and a young pigeon brought to God as a sacrifice.

My Thoughts

So we finish off the Noah's Ark story and we still get no names for their wives. I guess we will never know their names.

Chapter 9 is completely devoid of any women, not even a casual mention of Noah's wife and his sons' wives. Which is weird to me since God blesses Noah and his sons. Just them specifically. Did the wives not deserve to be blessed? Did they not endure the flood like their husbands? God then establishes a covenant with Noah and sons. Again, no wives included in this. The only way I can think they may have been included was in the "every creature with you" bit of the covenant, since the covenant is with Noah, his sons and their descendants and the wives can not descendants. Maybe God just forgot to mention them, who knows. I just think God could have spoken to all of them at once, not just the men.

Random side note: I'll never understand the Ham story. "How dare you accidentally stumble upon your naked father and see him?! Cursed be you!" Seriously, Noah's the naked drunk, why is Ham punished so harshly? He accidentally sees him and then goes outside to tell his brothers. Maybe there's more to the story? Maybe Ham was laughing about it or commenting on Noah's tiny penis, I don't know. All we know is that accidentally stumbling across your naked father is punishable by a lifetime of slavery for you and your progeny. What a nice father Noah is.

Chapter 10 again has no women. Not even any generic daughters.

Another random side note: And the Tower of Babel thing? Does God just hate it when people learn or are flourishing? First the Tree of Knowledge and now he's basically making everyone ignorant of each other's languages. So, remember kids, God hates smart people.

The Sarai story is interesting in an annoying way. Basically Abram uses his wife as a prostitute, letting Pharaoh have his way with her while he gets all sorts of presents and whatnot. And the God punishes Pharaoh? Seriously, what the hell? Abram is the liar in this scenario, he deserves more punishment than Pharaoh. Abram basically gave his wife away so that he wouldn't be hurt and would get free stuff. So, remember kids, God doesn't care if you use your wife as a means to get stuff.

There's been research on children and their development regarding interpreting people's motives for an action. Basically, when you're little a person's intentions mean nothing. This talk does the idea FAR more justice than I ever could (link). It's 15 minutes but it is SOOOOO good. What if the difference between the God in the Old Testament and the God in the New Testament is that God is a child that grows older? God acts a lot like a small child in the way he makes decisions and doles out punishments and constantly demands attention and stuff. I'll have to keep reading and thinking about this concept, but it's a fascinating idea.

And I think the women as the spoils of war and battle will be a regular theme. I know enough about the Old Testament that this will not surprise me. And women so far have been very passive. Aside from Eve, who was active and then punished for it. I mean really, Sarai was acted upon in that entire chapter, just letting things go about without any input or anything. We can only assume she actually agreed to the whole plan. This I hope is not going to be a constant theme, though I'm sure it will be.

And just as a side note, why is it that God only talks to men? He only makes covenants with men and promises to men and gives land to men and gives commands to men. Maybe there will be a woman that talks to God eventually. Other than the virgin Mary and Eve. Something to keep an eye out for.

Tomorrow: Genesis 16-21

Monday, April 26, 2010

Genesis 1-7

The List (Chapter number: Verse)

1:27 - God creates man and woman at same time on the 6th day.

2:18 - God wants to make Adam a helper and partner
2:21-25 - After it is decided that the animals are not a good partner or helper for Adam, God makes Woman from Adam's rib. Adam names her Woman, as he named all the animals previously, because she came out of man. Both are naked and unashamed.
2:24 - Verse about how a man will leave his father and mother to cling to his wife.

Genesis 3 (general synopsis) - Woman told by snake that Tree of Knowledge will not kill her, just give her the knowledge of right and wrong (good and evil). Woman eats fruit and gives some to Adam to eat. Both make clothes because they realize they are naked. God asks Adam if he ate from the Tree of Knowledge, and Adam says that the woman that God gave him told him to eat it. Woman explains to God, when asked, that the snake tricked her into eating the fruit.
3:15 - The snake's punishment is to crawl on it's belly and that Woman will always hate and mistrust them.
3:16 - Woman's punishment is great pain in childbirth and also to be ruled over by her husband.
3:17 - Adam is punished because he listened to the voice of the Woman and ate from the forbidden tree.
3:20 - Adam again names Woman, this time he names her Eve.

4:1-2 - Eve has sex with Adam. Cain is born. "Produced a man with the help of the Lord." Abel is born second.
4:17 - Cain has sex with wife (no name) and she bore Enoch.
4:19-22 - Lamech has 2 wives Adah, who has Jabal, and Zillah, who has Tubal-cain. Sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.
4:23 - Lamech tells wives he killed a man for attacking him.
4:25 - Adam has sex with Eve, has son Seth. Eve glad God gave her another son to replace Abel.

5:2 - Reference to first creation story, though alternate translation seems to imply that the original text for this passage only refers to Adam, even though my version says "humankind."
Genesis 5 (general synopsis): Geneology. Only women mentioned in the whole thing are generic daughters, always mentioned after sons ("sons and daughters").

6:2 - Sons see daughters and decide they are attractive and took wives of all the chose.
6:4 - Men cum into the women and the women bear children to the men.
6:18 - God commands Noah to take his son's, his wife and his sons' wives onto the Ark.
6:19 - Must bring two of each animal, male and female.

7:3 - Again, one male and one female animal.
7:7 - Wives join Noah and sons on the Ark.
7:9 - Another mention of one male and one female animal.
7:13 - Wives mentioned again, they still have no names.
7:16 - Again, one male and one female animal.

My Thoughts

My first question was why are there two creation stories that vary so much from each other. Especially in the order of creation, you'd think that would be something that would be consistent. Also, I noticed that in the first story when God created two things, they were always total opposites (land v. sea, sky v. earth, light v. dark) and the first almost always seems to rule over the second. Does this have an effect on the relationship of man v. woman, since the woman is created second to the man, which based on the earlier passages implies that both are total opposites and that one will rule over the other. Also, it seems to me that God had already created a male and female version of all the animals (there is no extra passage about him doing this, anyways, so I assume he'd already taken care of it) so why didn't God automatically create a female human to go with Adam? Of course, this seems to be the case in the first creation story, just not in the second. Seriously, the difference between the two creations are mind boggling.

And random side note I need to get off my chest: God references to multiple hims often enough in the creation story that I do believe the beginning story implies there is more than one god involved here. For the God who calls himself I Am, it just seems really weird for him to say something about how he didn't want Adam and Eve becoming immortal and being like "one of us." Who is this "us?"

And seriously, Adam is punished because he listened to the Woman. This is punishable by exile and basically a shitty and tortuous existence for all people (women included, so Eve gets a double punishment) forever. I mean, wow. Just, wow. Edit: Reading that passage again, Adam is in fact punished for eating the apple, but still, the fact that listening to the woman is listed first in the offenses is still amazing to me.

And such an emphasis on the importance of sons. Such as Eve praising God because she got Seth to replace Abel. And only one daughter is mentioned by name in these chapters, which I found kind of weird seeing as they aren't mentioned in the genealogy at all, except for the random shout out to generic sons and daughters.

And Gen 6:2 just kills me. The sons TOOK wives of the daughters and apparently just took as many as they want. I mean, when the basic argument against gay marriage is that polygamy may become a valid form of marriage, how do they not understand that where the Bible is against gay marriage (I guess) it is very much FOR polygamy? If we're using the Bible as the end all be all of ethics and marriage laws here then shouldn't polygamy be encouraged by the crowd, or at the very least not vilified?

And yeah, women don't do much here aside from Eve. Pretty much after Eden woman turn into crazy baby making machines that need no names. I would have at least thought that Noah's wife would get a name since Noah is such a big character in the Bible but I seem to have been wrong about that. And his three sons get names but their wives remain nameless as well. I guess welcome to the nameless world of women, if they happen to be mentioned at all.

Tomorrow: Genesis 8-15

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Project Statement And Brief Intro

I am a feminist, vegetarian, agnostic atheist with a BA in Sociology and a minor in Latin. I grew up in a religious home (Methodist) and didn't begin questioning my faith until I moved out and went to college. Since then it has been a constant sea of questions and doubts, and a mistrust of religion and the Bible. I currently live at home with my parents, and their faith tends to keep these questions at the forefront in my life. I have gone to church just about every Sunday of my life, up until college, where I went on and off and eventually stopped all together my Junior year. So it has been about 4 years since I have been to church (I am not counting the church services that I attend with my family for Christmas and Easter). To get all my biases out in the open I also do not believe the Bible is divinely inspired and I believe the Bible has been used more for evil than for good, being at the root of most of humanities greatest atrocities (The Crusades, the Inquisition, slavery, the Holocaust, the witch trials, etc.). And while I am an agnostic-theist and lean more towards there being greater beings (yes, I do believe there is a great possibility of there being more than one god) and a creator/creators of the universe I do not necessarily believe in the Christian God or any other religious god. I believe any being who could create the universe and be all powerful in its faculties is completely beyond our human understanding. I point these biases out so that you, the reader, will understand that I am not going into this project as a clean slate, which would be impossible anyways since everyone is biased (just some people aren't willing to admit it). I'm giving out this information because I believe it is important to know a researchers bias and to keep it in mind when reading their work.

The goal of the "This One Shall Be Called Woman" project is to 1) read through the Bible so that I may understand it and know it to be better versed in debates about it, and 2) show how sexist the Bible is or is not, since the Bible as been used for many years as the reason why women are inferior to men, an oppression which still lingers to this day in no small part because people still interpret the Bible as saying that God has decreed that man shall rule over women. I want to know if women's inferior status is in fact supported by the Bible or if this has come about from many centuries of people reading and misinterpreting the Biblical word.

The Bible I will be using is The Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version containing the Old and New Testaments with the Apocryphal or Deuterocanonical Books, Cambridge University Press, Standard Text Edition. This edition and text was chosen mostly because of the Apocryphal Books since I wondered if their contents differed from the canon Bible at all, in this case mostly in the treatment of women.

I am basing the readings off a Bible in 365 days list (link) but will be doing them 2 days at a time to speed up the process. Updates will tentatively be every M-F, though that schedule may change as I get further into the project.

Each post will have (at least) two parts. The first part will be a basic summarization and list of the parts of the reading that mention or involve women. Passages will be labeled so that they may be looked up for references. This part will be as objective as possible, with just a statement of the facts and nothing else. These lists will include everything from character women (such as Eve) to just the mention of the word female, woman, daughter, etc (such as Noah gathering one male and one female animal for the ark). The second portion of each post will be my comments and thoughts/questions about the reading. This part will be clearly cut off from the listing and summary above, so as not to mix my personal feelings, questions and bias with the data.

Comments are open for anyone, though they will be moderated. Respectful debate is always welcome, differing views included. My email is posted in my profile in case anyone here wishes to ask me a question personally or just wants to discuss a reading or topic outside of the comment thread. Also, please leave a name with your comment (choose name/URL if you have no log in information, just leave the URL blank), anonymous comments are far more likely to not get past moderation than comments that have names attached to them.

Thanks for reading and I hope you will stick with me through this project! :)