Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Genesis Chapters 47-50

Chapter 47

Joseph introduces his brother to Pharaoh, who, just as predicted, asks them what they do, and they tell him they are shepherds. They ask to graze their flocks in Goshen because the famine is bad in Canaan. Pharaoh tells Joseph to give them Goshen, and they can even herd his cattle.

Joseph presents Israel as well, though in this chapter they're calling him Jacob again. Pharaoh asks how old he is, and he says 130 tumultuous years, unlike his ancestors, who had calm lives of up to 950 years. Then he blesses Pharaoh.

Joseph gives his brothers and father land in Ramses. Jerry flops around trying to explain this contradiction, since according to him, this is the real-time history of the world, and it should only be about 2500 BC, but the Ramses dynasty didn't start until 1319 BC. He says it's an anachronism, a modernization, a mistranslation, anything but the truth, that this isn't a very accurate book.

Anyway, he gives his family bread, but soon there is no bread and people are starting to die. Joseph gathers all the money he made selling corn to everyone and brings it to Pharaoh. What good is that going to do? It's like that movie recently where the world was going to end, but there was a spaceship that you could buy a ticket on for one billion dollars. What good was it going to do to have a bunch of Russian oligarchs in space? Besides better-quality vodka, I mean.

Sorry, I keep getting side-tracked. There's no money, because Joseph gave it all to Pharaoh. People come to Joseph and ask for bread, and right here Joseph becomes Chairman Mao. Rather than being charitable, he says he'll give them bread for their livestock. He does, but a year later they're back, and this time he takes their land and labour. So you see, now they're serfs. Then he orders them off the land and into the cities. So Joseph and Pharaoh now have control of the currency, the capital (livestock), the land, and the labour. They have complete control over anything that happens in the country. Is this what Jerry aspires to? Geez, no wonder the Pharaohs thought they were gods. The only people whose land he doesn't have is the priests, who have a contract.

Joseph lords it over everybody, saying he owns them and handing out seeds to them. He explains that they are now sharecroppers and will have to give 20% to Pharaoh. The people, mistaking power for morality, thank him and agree to the deal, because hey, he could have said 50%, right?

Israel, of course, is thriving. He lives there for another 17 years, until he's 147 and near death. He calls Joseph to him and makes him swear on his testicles not to bury him in Egypt.

Chapter 48

Israel's death scene redux. This time, Joseph brings his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. Israel tells him the story of god appearing to him at Luz. He tells his son that Manasseh and Ephraim are his now, but that Joseph can keep any he has after this. I hope the Moral Majority is taking note here of what traditional family life entails: giving your kids to your parents on a whim.

Then the story gets even more confusing, because Israel suddenly asks Joseph who those two kids are. Is he senile here? Anyway, Joseph says they're his kids. Israel says to bring them, and he'll bless them. Israel is going blind, so he can't see them as he hugs and kisses them. Joseph holds Ephraim's hand in his right hand, and Manasseh's in his left and presents them to his father, and puts Manasseh's hand in his father's right hand. Israel reaches out and puts his right hand on Ephraim's head, and his left on Manasseh's head, even though Manasseh is the first born. He blesses Joseph and the boys.

Joseph notices that his father's right hand is on Ephraim's head, and is displeased. He tries to move it onto Manasseh's head instead, explaining which is the first born. Israel says he knows it, but Ephraim's going to be more important, so that's the one who gets the better blessing, because Israel hasn't learned anything from his own history. He tells Joseph he's getting an extra portion in his inheritance.

Chapter 49

Israel, still refusing to die, predicts the future for his sons. Jerry has nothing to say about fortune-telling, though I have no doubt that anyone outside the messianic line who does it is not allowed into the Moral Majority or Liberty U. He tells Reuben he won't excel in life because of his early sex with his mother. How's that for a late fuck you from your dear old dad? He basically calls Simeon and Levi psychotic serial killers, which they are, and curses them. He praises Judah for his loyalty and says the others have to worship him now. He blesses him with wine and milk. Zebulun, whom we haven't heard much about, will live by the sea and make a harbour. Issachar will be a good worker. Dan will be a treacherous judge. Gad will be invaded, but will win at the end. Asher will be a baker. Naphtali will be pretty and speaks well. Joseph will have lots of kids and good land. Benjamin will be a plunderer. He asks to be buried in the cave Abraham bought, and he finally dies. In Egypt. Despite what god promised him before. Apparently, this is an accurate description of the state the Israelite tribes were in at the time: the Simeonites and Levites were a mess, Judahs tribe was strong.

Chapter 50

Joseph mourns and orders his father embalmed. He mourns the requisite 70 days it takes a body to mummify (but he's not a pagan!) and asks the Pharaoh to release him so he can take his father to Canaan. Pharaoh says no problem. They all go, and stop in Atad and mourn again for seven days. The people see this and change the name of the place. They contine on and bury him in Machpelah.

When Joseph goes back, his brothers worry he might hate them. They send him a message supposedly written by their father before his death saying to forgive them. Joseph cries, like he does every other verse. They all fall down before him and agree to be his servants. He explains that what they thought was evil was in fact good, and saved a lot of people. Who are now sharecroppers rather than landowners.

Anyway, Joseph promises to take care of them. Joseph lives to 110, and he meets his great-great-grandchildren by Ephraim, and also one of Manasseh's kids sticks around. Joseph has a much shorter death scene than his father, saying only I die, and god will visit you and send you back to Canaan. He asks them to take his body to Canaan, but he's buried in Egypt.

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