Tag Archives: Mythology

Exodus Chapters 1-5

Welcome to the book of Exodus.  All of the incest, lying, and deceit in Genesis have led up to this book wherein we see God’s penchant for killing children, find out that God’s people prefer being master over being slave, get a little more incest, and get a whole bunch of new rules.

So let’s get started.

Chapter 1

The book of Exodus begins by telling us that 70 of Jacob’s family came into Egypt with him, that Joseph has died and that the family has bred like bunnies. (1:1-7) Where Jacob’s extra family member came from is not explained.

A new pharaoh takes over and decides that the Hebrew population is getting too large to ignore, and worries that they could be a problem if they sided with an enemy, so he enslaves them and has them build the cities of “Pithom and Raamses.” (1:8-11)  No explanation is given for how they built the cities hundreds of years before they were built.

When the pharaoh makes it hard on the Hebrews their population increases, so he mandates that all midwives kill newborn male Israelites, but the midwives go against his wishes, and let male babies live. God rewards the midwives for their insubordination with houses, and the Hebrew population continues to grow.  Since his mandate to kill male babies didn’t work, the pharaoh mandates that all newborn male Hebrew babies are to be thrown in the river. (1:12-22)

Chapter 2

MosesRescued_FromTheNileA man and woman of the house of Levi, the seller-of-his-brother, and son of Jacob’s first wife, have a son during this time, and the boy’s mother hides the child for three months, before putting him in a little boat made of reeds and putting the little boat in the river.  The pharaoh’s daughter finds the little boat and saves the boy from certain death. (2:1-5)

The princess knows it is a Hebrew child but she feels sorry for him, and hires a slave to wet-nurse and take care of him, who as it happens is Moses’ mother.  When the boy gets a little older he is brought back to the princess, who names him Moses. (2:6-10)

490px-Moses_erschlägt_den_Ägypter_F_19_JhAs Moses grows older he leaves the palace and starts hanging around with his own people. One day he comes upon an Egyptian beating on a Hebrew so he kills the Egyptian and buries him. The next day a couple of Hebrews give him a hard time about killing the Egyptian which makes Moses worry about how many people know about the murder he has committed. (2:11-14)

The pharaoh finds out about the murder and puts out a death warrant on Moses, so Moses runs away to Midian where he ends up helping the daughters of a local priest overcome some bullies. The priest in turn gives Moses a place to stay and one of his daughters,  Zipporah, as a wife.  Moses has a son with his new wife, whom he names Gershom. (2:15-22)

Eventually the pharaoh dies, and God finally notices the problems his followers are having and remembers his promises to them. (2:23-25)

Chapter 3

395px-Domenico_Fetti_-_Moses_before_the_Burning_Bush_-_WGA07855One day while Moses is tending to his father in law’s flocks he spots a bush on fire and goes to check it out. (3:1-3) When God sees Moses headed toward the bush he talks to him through it, telling him to take off his shoes. The bush then tells Moses that it is God, and Moses turns away out of fear of looking at God. (3:4-6)

The bush then says that it knows all about the slavery and such of his followers, so it has decided to come down and deliver his people back to Canaan, a land described as “flowing with milk and honey.” (3:7-8)

BushGod then repeats himself, and tells Moses that he has been appointed to do the actual work. (3:9-10)

Moses questions God’s choice of him as a messenger, and God tells him not to worry about it. God tells Moses to simply tell the elders that God has sent him and what the plan is and that doing those things should be sufficient proof. (3:11-18)

In regard to the pharaoh, God tells Moses that he is positive that the pharaoh won’t initially cooperate, but that after God bullies him a bit he will give in, and not only will the Israelites be let go, but they will take a bunch of their Egyptian neighbors’ money and valuables with them. (3:19-22)

Chapter 4

Moses is still not convinced that anyone is going to believe the whole “God sent me” thing, so God gives him a magic wand, the ability to make his hand look like it is rotting away, and the ability to turn water into blood. (4:1-9)

Moses continues to try to get out of being God’s spokesman by pointing out that he is no Charlton Heston, and doesn’t do so well with public speaking. God tells him not to worry about it, but Moses keeps whining, so God, who at this point is starting to get angry about Moses’ whining, tells him that he will have Aaron, the previously unknown brother of Moses, do the talking and that Moses will just have to do the magic show.  This arrangement seems to satisfy Moses. (4:10-17)  No explanation is ever given as to why God doesn’t just free the Israelites himself.

Moses goes back home and tells his father-in-law that he needs to go back to Egypt. God tells Moses that it should be safe to do so because all of the people there who wanted him dead are themselves dead. Moses gathers up his wife and sons and, magic wand in hand, heads out for Egypt. (4:18-20)

God then tells Moses that he will make the pharaoh refuse to cooperate, and that he should threaten to kill the pharaoh’s kids. (4:21-23)

On the way to Egypt, Moses and his family stop at an inn for the night and for some unexplained reason, God tries to kill his newly appointed messenger.  Moses’ wife runs God off by cutting their son’s foreskin off and throwing it on the ground then saying something similar to the old AC/DC lyric: “if you want blood, you got it.” (4:24-26)

Unphased by his defeat at the hands of a woman, God arranges for Aaron and Moses to meet in the wilderness, and the two of them put on their show for the elders, who believe what Aaron and Moses have to say. (4:27-31)

Chapter 5

Artist's Rendition of the Pharaoh

Artist’s Rendition of the Pharaoh

After their success with the elders, Moses and Aaron go to the pharaoh and tell him to let their people go or else.  The pharaoh dismisses them and their god as insignificant, and tells them to get back to work. (5:1-4) No explanation is given as to why the pharaoh even bothered giving an audience to two slaves in the first place.

389px-Figures_The_Israelites'_Cruel_Bondage_in_EgyptAfter the meeting, the pharaoh decides to make things even harder for the Israelites by reducing the availability of materials needed to do their job, yet keeping their quota the same.  When asked about this new policy, the pharaoh explains that it is designed to keep them busy so they won’t have time to organize; an ancient union busting tactic if you will. (5:5-19)

The workers then complain to Aaron and Moses about how the demands on the pharaoh made by the two brothers have made things harder for the people they say they’re trying to help.  (5:20-21)  Moses takes the grievance to God, (5:22-23) and the chapter ends.

Now that we have the basic plot lines and a good introduction to the major players in the upcoming story, we are left with some questions: Will God help the workers fight management?  Will there be any more good ole’ Abrahamic incest?  Will God try to kill Moses again?  For answers to these questions and more, be sure to tune in next time.

Genesis Chapters 29-35

Chapter 29

Rachel_WilliamDyceSo, after Jacob has his dream of grandeur, he heads east toward his uncle’s.  After a while he comes upon some guys watering their sheep and asks them if they know his uncle Laban; they say yes and point out his daughter Rachel who’s approaching the well to “water” her sheep.  So, Jacob goes over, helps her water her sheep and kisses her.  After he kisses her, he tells her who he is. (29:1-12)

Rachel tells her dad about Jacob, and instead of killing him for attacking his daughter he invites him to his home, where Jacob tells him that he is his nephew.  Jacob stays there for a month free of charge. (29:13-14)

541px-Dante's_Vision_of_Rachel_and_LeahAfter a while Laban asks Jacob what he wants and what he has to offer. Jacob offers seven years of service for Rachel, even though Rachel has an older sister Leah. Laban accepts the deal and Jacob works for him for seven years. (29:15-20)

At the end of seven years Jacob says it’s time for Laban to honor his deal and give him his wife so he can “…go in unto her.”  So Laban throws a big feast, and that night Jacob takes his mother’s cousin, Leah and goes “in unto her.” (29:21-23) and Laban gives Leah his maid. (29:24)

Well, Jacob doesn’t realize that he went in unto the wrong sister until morning.  He goes to Laban and complains about being tricked.  Laban tells him that the youngest daughter can’t get married before the older, but if Jacob will work for him for seven more years he can have Rachel too. Jacob agrees, so he marries his sister-in-law, and works for her dad/his great-uncle for seven more years.  During this time, he treats Rachel better than he does Leah. (29:25-30)

God sees how Jacob is treating his first wife, so he makes Rachel Barren and makes Leah quite fertile.  Leah ends up having four sons:  Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. (29:31-35)

Chapter 30

Rachel starts getting jealous of her sister/sister-in-law’s having children when she’s not.  At first she gets all dramatic and blames Jacob for her not having any kids, but then decides that if her maid gives birth in her lap then it’s the same as if she gave birth.  She has Jacob sleep with her maid Bilhah. (30:1-4)

Jacob starts sleeping with Rachel’s maid and she starts having kids, which Rachel, who doesn’t seem to understand the idea of childbirth, starts taking credit for.  Bilhah has two sons in Rachel’s place:  Dan, and Naphtali. (30:5-8)

Not to be outdone, Leah pimps her maid Zilpah to Jacob, and Zilpah has two sons:  Gad, and Asher (30:9-13)

As time goes on Reuben, Leah’s oldest boy, finds some mandrakes.  Rachel tells Leah that she can have her turn with Jacob in return for the magic roots.  Leah takes her up on her offer, and as a result has three more children: two boys, Issachar, and Zebulun, as well as a girl, Dinah. (30:14-21)

Now that Rachel has mandrakes God allows her to have a kid whom she names Joseph. (30:22-24)

After Joseph is born Jacob decides that it’s time for him to get ready to move back home, so he makes a deal with his great-uncle/father-in-law to earn some livestock.  Jacob then uses magical animal-husbandry to increase his own stock while depleting Laban’s stock. (30:25-43)

Chapter 31

Jacob finds out that his brothers-in-law/cousins are upset about his using magic to increase his own herds and depleting their father’s.  Jacob and God decide that it’s time for Jacob to run away back to his father’s land.  Jacob gathers all his livestock, children and wives together, and tells his wives to take whatever they think should be theirs.  Rachel does as Jacob suggested, and the Jacob clan takes off. (31:1-21)  It takes Laban, Rachel and Leah’s father, three days to notice that the Jacob clan had fled. (31:22)

Seven days later, Laban catches up with Jacob and company, and God tells Laban not to talk with Jacob, so Laban goes to talk with Jacob. (31:23-25)

Laban asks Jacob why he snuck away without a goodbye and subtly mentions that he could kill him, but chooses not to because God told him not to.  Jacob uses a version of his father’s and grandfather’s old excuse and says he did it because he thought Laban would take his wives. (31:26-31) Then Jacob claims ignorance of Rachel stealing anything. (31:32)

512px-Ciro_Ferri_-_The_Reconciliation_of_Jacob_and_Laban

So Laban searches for the stuff that Rachel had stolen, but doesn’t find it.  Then Jacob throws a hissy fit, and Laban says that even though everything Jacob has is technically his he will make a deal with him. (31:33-44)  Laban says that as long as Jacob doesn’t mistreat his daughters, then he will let everything slide.  Jacob agrees and promises to do right by the girls, and the two men part amicably. (31:45-55)

Chapter 32

Jacob takes all of his ill-gotten gains and heads toward home.  On the way he sends a messenger to Esau to let him know he’s coming.  The messenger comes back and says Esau is headed their way with 400 men, and Jacob gets scared, so he divides his crew into two groups, and then has some men take a bunch of livestock and get between him and Esau as an offering for Esau, then he prays for help, and hides his family. (32:1-23)

Then Jacob spends the night wrestling with some angel who decides to change Jacob’s name to Israel. (32:24-32)

Chapter 33

Rubens_Reconciliation_of_Jacob_and_EsauJacob meets with Esau in the morning, and introduces his family.  Esau it seems was happy to see him and had brought the men to help Jacob defend his family and livestock, so Jacob had been scared of nothing. (33:1-15)

Then Esau goes home, and Jacob sets up camp in Shechem and builds an altar which he names Eleloheisrael. (33:16-20)

Chapter 34

Shechem_seizes_DinahThe local prince sees Dinah, rapes her, then decides that he would like to marry her, so he tells his dad to get her for him. (34:1-4)

So the boy’s dad meets with Jacob, and Jacob says that if every man in the city will get circumcised then he’ll agree to the marriage.  The king says ok, and has every man get circumcised.  Three days later when all the men of the city are hurting from the crude penile surgery, Jacob and his men go in and kill all of the men, take the women and children as slaves, and destroy everything else. He does this because he doesn’t want his children breeding outside of the family. (34:5-31)

Chapter 35

God tells Jacob to go to Bethel.  Jacob has his clan change their clothes and hand over all their jewelry and gods, which Jacob stashes under an oak tree by the city that he had just destroyed. (35:1-4)

As Jacob travels, everyone leaves him alone since he had already destroyed one city, and Jacob eventually arrives in Luz where he had started his run from Esau.  While there, God promises him all the stuff that he had promised his father and grandfather, they bury Rebekah’s dead nurse, God changes Jacob’s name to Israel, even though an angel had already done that, obviously without telling God about it, and Jacob renames the place Bethel having completely forgotten that he had already renamed the place Bethel before, and that he had gone there since God told him to go to Bethel. (35:5-15)

After leaving Bethel, Rachel dies giving birth to a son that she names Benoni.  Jacob doesn’t like the name and changes it to Benjamin, then buries Rachel in Bethlehem, before heading out again “beyond” Edar. (35:16-21)

While near Edar, Reuben Jacob’s oldest boy, gets his late-mother’s maid Bilhah pregnant and she gives birth to a son who doesn’t get a name. (35:22-26)

Soon after Jacob gets home, Isaac dies (1758 BC) and is buried. (35:27-29) Esau doesn’t kill Jacob, since they have made up since Esau’s vow. And so ends our trip through the Bible for this time.

Since the family tree gets quite convoluted in the preceding chapters I have include an updated family tree through Jacob (below left), and then a separate family tree for Jacob and his immediate family (below right).  (Click on either table to see a larger image if need be) With explanations as needed below the trees.

The Abraham Family tree (4)Jacobs family

Updates on the Abrahamic Family tree:

  • Rachel and Leah are Jacob’s second cousins/wives
  • Rachel is Leah’s sister/sister-in-law.  The reverse is also true.
  • Jacob has 13 children and 1 grandchild.  4 of the children and the grandchild are born out of wed-lock
  • Bilhah is Rachel’s maid, Jacob’s mistress, and Reuben’s servant-with-benefits.
  • Bilhah is the mother of two of Jacob’s children and the mother of his grandchild.
  • Bilhah is Reuben’s aunt, and the mother of his child.

Next time:  

We learn about Esau’s huge family; more incest (of course); God kills some of Jacob grandkids; and we get into the story of Jacob’s son Joseph (of “coat of many colors” fame)