Sunday, January 24, 2010

Genesis Chapters 42-45

Chapter 42

Israel/Jacob hears there is corn in Europe and he tells his sons to stop twiddling their thumbs and get down their and buy some. He keeps the youngest, Benjamin with him, but the other 10 go.

Joseph is still governor and his brothers kneel before him, because apparently money isn't enough anymore for our lovable egomaniac, he also needs worship. He recognizes them and is rude to them, but they don't recognize him, just like Shakespeare! Joseph also remembers his dreams, where the grain and the stars paid homage to him. He's not ready to forgive quite yet, though so he accuses them of spying. They go back and forth a bit, but Joseph has the last word and tells them they can't leave unless they agree to go get Benjamin. To ensure they come back, they'll have to leave one there. He keeps them all in prison for three days, where they admit their guilt over what they did to Joseph. Reuben, of course has to get an 'I told you so!' in. Joseph is listening to all of this. He cries, but still keeps Simeon back.

He fills their sacks with corn and secretly refunds the money they paid. They find it at the inn they stop at for the night. They take it as a bad omen from god.

They get home and tell their father what happened. Israel is reluctant to part with Benjamin, but Reuben says he can kill his sons if they don't bring him back. That sounds very satisfying: kill two grandsons, who are quite possibly your concubine's children, in exchange for your own son. Is this what the Moral Majority, brainchild of Jerry, thinks of when it lobbies for 'a traditional vision of family life'? Unfortunately it fails to convince Israel.

Chapter 43

The famine gets worse, and Israel asks his sons to go back to Egypt and get more grain. They remind him that they can't unless they bring Benjamin. He whines that they shouldn't have said anything about their remaining brother, but they insist that the disguised Joseph asked them if their father was alive and if they had any other brothers, and they were honest and didn't know what his demand would be.

Judah steps forward and says that Israel can also have his kids as insurance and points out that in the time they've spent arguing, they could have gone and come back. Israel finally yields and tells them to take along some presents, as well to double the money they're taking, because maybe the last time was just an oversight.

Joseph sees them and instructs his men to prepare a feast. They're afraid to go into Joseph's house, thinking he's going to enslave them. So they explain to his steward about the money, that it was still in the sacks when they got to the inn, which strikes me as dumb, because there's no way that's going to sound plausible.

The steward is more gullible than me, though, because he tells them not to worry, god restored their coffers, he still has the original coins. He brings Simeon out, and they go inside, wash their feet, take care of the donkeys, and get their presents out for Joseph.

They kneel before their brother again, who accepts the gifts and asks after their father. He sees his brother Benjamin, but is overwhelmed with emotion and has to run into his bedroom to cry. He composes himself and comes back. There's a little description of the eating arrangements: the brethren are in one room, Joseph in another, and the Egyptians in a third, because to eat bread with the Hebrews... that is an abomination unto the Egyptians (v. 32). The brothers are seated in birth order, and they fail to notice this, or that Benjamin gets five times as much as they do.

Chapter 44

Joseph loads his brothers up up with food, and the money yet again. He also tells his steward to put a silver cup into Benjamin's bag, because he isn't done fucking with them. He tells the steward to go after them and accuse them of stealing his divining cup. Jerry says the divining cup is a ridiculous notion of jiggery-pokery only practiced by the heathen Egyptians, because god just told the Israelites what was on his mind, and Joseph is only playing a role here. Heaven forbid a good Hebrew character be shown to believe in any pagan nonsense!

Anyway, the man does as he's told, and they're indignant, saying they have all this money, why would they want a stupid cup? They invite him to search their bags and if he finds it, he can kill that brother and enslave the rest. The steward says he only wants to enslave anyone found with the cup. They agree, and open their bags, and of course Benjamin has it. The brothers lament the loss of Benjamin, but reluctantly go back to Joseph

They fall to their knees in front of Joseph, who says of course he can divine. Judah asks him what he wants to hear, because they are righteous, it's obviously Joseph's servants' tomfoolery in action here. Joseph says they can leave Benjamin as his servant and go home. Judah asks to talk to him privately, and flatters him that he's as powerful as Pharaoh. He reminds him that he asked them about their exact family situation and that they didn't want to bring Benjamin but he insisted. Then their father was reluctant to send him, but they explained and the famine was bad, so he gave in. They appeal to his sympathy, saying Benjamin was their father's only remaining child from that mother, as Joseph is presumed dead, and this is going to kill their father, and he's also going to kill Judah, because he promised.

Chapter 45

Joseph sends everyone except his brothers away, then reveals his identity to them. He cries so loudly, the servants waiting in the hall can hear him. His brothers are wary. He tells them they don't have to worry, because god sent him ahead to save their lives and lineages. He explains how he's the Pharaoh's right-hand man. He tells them to go get their father, and he'll let them live in Goshen, and he'll feed them, because there are five years left on the famine.

He ends his soliloquy by hugging Benjamin and kissing the others. The word spreads around Egypt. Pharaoh gives Joseph his blessing to bring his father, which would seem like something you'd ask for beforehand, and promises them the best land and herds.

Joseph gives them provisions and clothing, and Benjamin gets 300 pieces of silver and 5 changes of clothes, because no on in Genesis ever learns not to play favourites. He sends gifts to his father and they leave with is blessing.

They go back to Israel and tell him their brother is still alive and he's the governor of Egypt. Israel faints. They tell him the story, and when he sees the gifts, he believes them and he agrees to go.

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