Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Genesis 38-42

The Facts (Chapter number: Verse)

38:2-5 - Judan married the daughter of Shua, a Canaanite. Judah came into her and she bore a son, Er. Again she conceived and bore her son Onan. She bore another son and named him Shelah, she was in Chezib when she had him.
38:6-11 - Judah gave Tamar to his son Er as a wife. But God killed Er so Judah told Onan to go into Tamar and perform his duties as a brother-in-law to her and raise up offspring for his brother. But since Onan knew the offspring would not be his whenever he went to his brother's wife he spilled his seed on the ground. The Lord was angry at this and killed Onan. So Judah told Tamar to remain a widow in her father's house until his son Shelah grew up, since he feared Shelah would die just like his brothers. So Tamar went to live in her father's house.
38:12-30 - Judah's wife, the daughter of Shau, died. After Judah was done mourning he went to Timnah to his sheepshearers. Tamar learned of this and she took off her widow's garments, put on a veil and wrapped herself up and sat down at the entrance to Enaim, on the road to Timnah. She had seen that Shelah had grown up yet she had not been given to him. When Judah saw Tamar he thought she was a prostitute. He asked Tamar if he could come into her, since he did not know she was his daughter in law. She asked, "What will you give me?" Judah promised her a kid from his flock. Tamar asked for Judah's cord and staff as a pledge, so he gave them to her and he then came into her. Tamar conceived by him. She got up and went away, putting back on her widow's garments.

Judah sent his kid by his friend the Adullamite to recover his pledge from the woman. The friend could not find her. He asked the townspeople about her and they said that there was no prostitute there. He returned to Judah and told him that he could not find the woman and that no prostitute had been there. Judah said, "Let her keep the things as her own, otherwise we will be laughed at; you see, I sent this kid and you could not find her."

Three months later Judah was told that Tamar has played the whore and she was pregnant as a result. Judah said "Bring her out, and let her be burned." As she was brought out she sent word to her father in law "It was the owner of these who made me pregnant." Tamar brought out Judah's cord and staff. Judah acknowledged them and declared that Tamar was more in the right than he was, since her had promised her Shelah and he did not give her to him. Judah did not lay with her again.

Tamar bore twins. While she was in labor, one child stuck it's hand out and the midwife ties a red string around it and declared that one was first. But then the
child retracted its hand and the other child stuck its hand out. The midwife cried, "What a breach you have made for yourself!" And that child was called Perez. The brother with the crimson thread came out second and he was named Zerah.

39:6-19 - Joseph is bought by Potiphar, an Egyptian officer, and was put in charge of his household because the Lord was with Joseph and Joseph made everything prosper. Joseph was handsome and good looking and after a while Potiphar's wife set her eye on him. She said, "Come lie with me." But Joseph said we would not betray his master this way or sin against God with such a great wickedness. Potiphar's wife continued to ask him day after day, each time Joseph refusing. Until one day, when he went into the house to work and no one was around, Potiphar's wife grabbed hold of Joseph's garment saying, "Lie with me!" Joseph left his garment and ran outside. When the wife saw Joseph had left his garment and fled she called out to the members of her house and said, "See? My husband has brought a Hebrew among us to insult us! He came to lie with me and I cried out in a loud voice, and when he heard me cry out her left his garment and fled outside." When Potiphar came home she told him the same story. When Potiphar heard this he became enraged and locked Joseph in jail.

Genesis 40 - No mention of any women.

41:45 - Pharaoh names Joseph Zapenath-paneah and Pharaoh gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, as his wife. Thus Joseph gained authority over the land of Egypt.
41:50 - Before the years of famine, Asenath bore Joseph two sons.

Genesis 42 - No mention of any women.

My Comments

Quite a few chapters with no women in them this time. Which doesn't surprise me, since I pretty much knew the Joesph story did not have many women characters. So there are only two women heavy stories this time, and not surprisingly both the women are tricksters who use sex as a way to dupe, betray and get vengeance on men.

We've got the lovely tale of Tamar, who tricks her father-in-law to have sex with her so that she may bear a child and, I assume, partly to get back at him for not giving her to his youngest son as he promised. Though I do think it is funny that Judah using a prostitute is okay, but if a woman IS a prostitute then hold everything, bring out the bon fire! But seriously, if a woman's only purpose in life is to bear lots and lots of sons, do you think she is gonna sit idly by and waste her child bearing years waiting for her promised husband to come of age? Of course Tamar's going to try to fix this problem in any way she can, otherwise she'll be considered less than for the rest of her life.

And then we get the wonderful false rape accusations of Potiphar's wife with Joseph the poor victim to a woman's wild and uncontrollable sex drive. Which I think is weird since it's been culturally accepted that women dislike sex while men can't get enough. Is this where the true evil of women lies, women dislike sex and yet women know that men are so weak against it. Therefore women will use it at any chance to get the upper hand? Maybe that's how the logic goes.

But it seems women are constantly using sex in the Bible to gain power. They either use sex or children (sons more precisely), which ever they have at hand. So is this resounding Biblical theme why our culture hates women who are deemed "too sexy?" Or why people are generally always quick to blame the woman who is raped and not her rapist? Or why so many people assume rape accusations are false? I mean, if women are always tricking men with sex then how can they ever be trusted?

If the Bible is the inspired word of God, then God really has a low opinion of women. Or really, really needs to learn how to write women. Though it seems much more likely from this evidence that the Bible was written by a bunch of men in a culture that had a strong hatred and distrust of women. Maybe whoever wrote the Bible can take a few tips from Joss Whedon or even James Cameron on writing strong female leads. Here's a hint: having women's main story lines constantly revolve around sexual deviancy, trickery and child bearing isn't really the way to go. Women are not just their lady parts. Also: adding aliens or vampires could probably spice up the narrative quite a bit. Just a thought.

Tomorrow: Genesis 43-47


  1. I understand your femenist view of the bible but here's a thought. If a man was to read the bible and take it only as God's view about men I would think he would be rather offended. The male characters set forth in the bible are for the most part not the kind of men a man should or would want to be like. So maybe there is something deeper here than just who treats who like dirt?

  2. A man would/should be offended reading the Bible? Really? Abraham is the early prophet of the Torah. Noah saves the animals of the planet when God floods the Earth, basically in charge of starting the world anew when the flood waters dry up. Joseph and his dreams save all of Egypt during the seven year famine. David takes down Goliath, the biggest and best warrior of the day. Moses (with some help from God) saves his people from slavery and death at the hands of Egypt. Samson destroyed the Philistines even after having his power taken away, his eyes gouged out, and being chained to pillars. The Apostles are some of the most remembered people of the Bible, recreated on many stained glass windows. And then there's Jesus, the man to end all man because not only was he a man but he was also God. Oh, yeah, and God is a man too, being the all powerful FATHER and whatnot. And those are just the stories I can remember off the top of my head from my days in Bible Study as a youth. I know there are many many more.

    But how many women can I name from the Bible who were active AND weren't busy ruining the lives of men to get what they want? There's the virgin Mary... Mary Magdalene... not much else, at least not that I was ever taught a lot in my Sunday school classes.

    So yeah, I don't think there's a big issue with the men in the Bible. They are heroes, conquerors, saviors, and prophets. Yeah, there are men in the Bible that one shouldn't use as role models, who are used as lessons to those who would stray, like Judas or Lot. But the men get a nice fair shot at being good holy people in the Bible, where as women are pretty much regulated the position of mother, wife, whore or trickster FAR more often than not.

    I am not nit picking the Bible to grind some sort of feminist ax. The Bible has been used for centuries as the root of the reason why women should not have as many rights as men, why women are inferior to men, etc. etc. And it's easy to see how, what with the lack of real noble holy women in the Bible. Men read the Bible all the time and seem to have no real issue with the way they are portrayed in it. If they did, I don't think many men would follow it and cling to it as much as they do.


Anyone posting anonymously is very likely to not have their comment published. If you do not have a Google/Blogger account you can use the Name/URL option to attach a name to your comment. And remember to try and stay on topic. :)