Genesis: Abraham and Abimelech

Genesis 20:1-18

Abraham, the great con-artist, is up to his old tricks again in this tale. Abraham moves into the region of Negev and lived in Gerar. There, he and his wife are approached by the king of that region, Abimelech. Like they did in Egypt, Abraham and Sarah told the king they were brother and sister, not husband and wife. The king then takes Sarah to be his wife. God then comes to the king in a dream and tells him that he is as good as dead, because he has taken Sarah to be his wife. The king had not laid with Sarah, so he asks God if He would destroy an innocent nation. He tells God that he was innocent, because Abraham had told the king they were siblings. God then tells him that He knows that he did this in good conscience, and that is why He prevented the king from touching her. Here God has suspended free will. God is willing to step in and prevent this king from having sex with Abraham’s wife, but God is not willing to step in and prevent Lot’s daughters from raping their father.

Abimelech calls for his officials and told them what had happened. He then calls for Abraham and asks, why did he do this? Abraham says his reason for such treachery was because he believed that this city did not have the fear of God. Abraham does go on to admit that he did not lie, Sarah and him are brother and sister–half-brother and half-sister, same father. Another instance of incest (I am considering a counter for each account of incest). Abraham claims to have told Sarah that for her to show her love of him, she is to tell everyone that Abraham is her brother wherever they go.

Just like in Egypt, Abraham walks away from this situation a wealthier man. The king gives him sheep and cattle, male–who must now be circumcised–and female slaves, and returned his wife to him. The king also gives him a thousand shekels of silver. Abraham prays for the king so that he will be forgiven, and leaves now a richer man. It is said that God had closed up the wombs of Sarah and the female slaves while Sarah was with the king, and now that Sarah has return the wombs are returned to normal. The prophet of God, the great con man, Abraham, has swindled another king.

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Genesis: Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed & Lot and His Daughters

Genesis 19-1:38

Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed  

The biblical account of these two infamous cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, are a permanent fixture in western society. Sodomy comes from the word Sodom, and implies a bigoted view toward homosexuals, all based on the biblical account of this city. Christians, and many other religions from the middle-east, source this account as justification for the vile, bigoted language and actions against homosexuals. They use this as an attempt to support their belief that homosexuals should not be granted equal rights. People read this passage with blinders, I think, because they are told ahead of time that this is a story about God’s hatred towards homosexuals. With these blinders up, they fail to see the other horrors done, not only by the people God does choose to save, but by God Himself.

The two angels that left Abraham’s house arrive at Sodom. When they arrive, they are greeted by Lot. Lot invites them into his home; they refuse and say they will spend the night in the square, but Lot is persuasive and they decided to join him in his home. Lot cooks them a meal, and they eat. Before they go to bed, men from across the city gather around his house, because they desire the men whom Lot is housing. The men tell Lot to let the men he is housing out, so they can have sex with them. Lot, in an attempt to spare the men he is housing, offers his two virgin daughters to be raped by this mob of men instead, then to have them rape some men whom he did not know. Sodomy is not the sin of this story, it’s rape. Rape is the theme of this passage, as we will see later. The crime intended to be committed was rape, but they preferred to rape the men instead of Lot’s daughters, whom he offered so casually. This shows this society’s contempt for women. They were merely an object, property, to be used. This is a man of very low character, and not even a decent father. If he were a heroic man, and was to offer anyone up for rape, it should have been himself. Heroism is defined by self-sacrifice, and this man apparently is not a hero. Instead this man offers his two virgin daughters to participate in an orgy, a gang-bang of biblical proportions, that would make even the most experienced of porn starlets blush at the thought. Yet, this is the man the angels, and God, decided to save. The angels pull Lot back inside the home and tell him to go tell his sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, etc., that the end is nigh. When Lot tells them this news they laugh at him, and dismissed his message. With dawn approaching, the angels tell Lot to take his daughters and his wife and leave before the city was destroyed. He hesitated, so the angels whisked them away to safety. Not his extended family though, even though they apparently deserved to be saved. One angel tells him to flee to the mountains, but Lot asks God if fleeing to a small city–Zoar–nearby would be adequate; God accepts. The mercy of God’s wrath is conditional of course, they are not to look back on the destroyed city as they flee. After they reach the city, the sun breaks across the horizon and God destroys the city. As we all know, Lot’s wife looks back, and is turned into a pillar of salt. Even though she was apparently a good enough person to be saved, she is punished by God’s wrath, because of curiosity. In this case curiosity did not kill the cat, but the disobedient servant of the Lord. According to the bible, God rains burning sulfur down on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. One could infer a different conclusion–something other than a spiteful god raining death down on a population–perhaps, it was instead, a simple volcanic eruption. In the morning, Abraham comes out and sees the cities burning. The Bible says that because God remembered Abraham, He saved Lot. This isn’t really what God promised Abraham. He promised him that if he found at least ten people who were righteous He would spare the city. From the viewpoint of the Lord, He did find them, Lot’s family, but instead he chose to kill them and save only Lot and his daughters. As I argued earlier, Lot is clearly not a righteous man, yet somehow, he is saved while the others perished.

Lot and His Daughters

Lot and his daughter leave the city of Zoar, and head to the mountains. They find shelter in a cave, and live there. The eldest daughter tells the younger daughter that it would be a good idea to get their father drunk, and have sex with him, since there is no other man for them to have sex with. They proceed with this plan, and the eldest daughter has sex with her father first. The next night the younger daughter has sex with him as well. The Bible claims that Lot was unaware of what was happening, but I find this hard to believe. He had to be aware enough to become erect, and perform his part in this transfer of fluids to produce a new life. If he was not lucid and his daughter forced themselves on him, then they raped their father. Again, rape seems to be the theme of this chapter. Yet, God seems to be fine with this incest. No angels sent to destroy them in this cave. God looks down on sodomy and the rape of angels, but incest and the raping of one’s father, that is fine. If the daughters believed that they were the last humans on the Earth, God could have stopped this incest from happening. All he had to do was come down and say to them that there were other men out there. Clearly incest is acceptable to God. Now the daughters have two bastard sons: Moab, the father of the Moabites, and Ben-Ammi, father of the Ammonites.

I think the point has been made that those who look to this chapter as moral support for their bigotry towards homosexuals can no longer do so. This chapter is void of any morality. This, in my opinion, is the most immoral chapter of the Bible I have read so far. So I pose this question to the faithful, how does one see morality in this chapter?

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Genesis: The Three Visitors & Abraham Pleads for Sodom

Genesis 18:1-33

The Three Visitors

The Lord comes to visit Abraham with two other men. Abraham rushes over to greet the three of them, and offer food and water to wash their feet. Abraham goes to his first wife Sarah and tells her to bake some bread. Then Abraham, knowing of the Lord’s hunger for the infantile flesh of young bovines, chooses a calf and orders his servant to prepare it for his guests. Abraham then brings to his guests some curds, milk, and the prepared calf. While they ate, Abraham stands near them under a tree. They ask where his wife Sarah is, and Abraham tells them she is in the tent. The Lord tells Abraham, again, that when he returns in a year, Sarah will give birth to a son. Sarah was eavesdropping, and when she heard this she laughed. Because she is old, so how could she give birth to a child? The Lord responds to her laughter by posing this rhetorical question to her: ‘Is anything too hard for the Lord?’ The obvious answer to this question–if the Judaeo-Christian God, or any deity, does in-fact exist, which there is little evidence to support such an claim–is indeed yes, or, for those that do believe in this deity, it must be yes to reconcile their deity’s contempt for the suffering of billions of our fellow humans. I am of course alluding to that famous Epicurus quote that we Atheist enjoy so much. I hesitate to get into a discussion on the famous quote of Epicurus because first, I think it is slightly contrived, and second, I think there will be a more opportune time to discuss it. If you are not familiar with Epicurus’s argument then do so with haste. It is a philosophical argument that all should at least ponder on for a moment. Now, Sarah lies and tells the Lord that she did not laugh, but the Lord calls her out on her lie, and say, ‘Yes, you did laugh’.

Abraham Pleads for Sodom

The three men get up to leave and Abraham walk with them to see them out. The men look upon Sodom, and the Lord plans to go there to see if the people of Sodom deserve his wrath for their sins. The Lord questions whether He should tell his servant his plans, but in the end decides to do so. Abraham asks the Lord, what if there are fifty people who are righteous, will you spare the city for them? The Lord says he would spare it. Abraham goes on to ask the same question, but each time lowering the number of people who are righteous until he gets to ten people. The Lord each time says he would spare the city if said number of righteous people were found in the city. Abraham is obviously interested because, if you remember, his nephew Lot lives in Sodom. When the two finish their discussion they part.

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Genesis: The Covenant of Circumcision

Genesis 17-1:27

At this moment, a baby boy is being born, and soon a small part of him will be severed from his body–how insulting of me to assume it would be small, but he is infantile. This is the story that gives the biblical basis for such genital mutilation. There has been much discussion on the pro’s and con’s of this practice. Many praise it to be beneficial to the hygiene of males as a way of preventing urinary and yeast infections for men. Others claim that it robs men of sexual pleasure, as well as women, when they are of age, and circumcision can have lasting psychological effects. I am circumcised, as it is the western thing to do, and see no effect on my pleasure (maybe I do, but I will never know) or my psychological well-being. I agree with the health benefits, and that the benefits outweigh the con’s. This genital mutilation likely began in Egypt where it spread to the Mesopotamian region, and was then adopted by the Judaic people. Genital mutilation is a common ritual amongst many religious groups, but I must make it clear that in my opinion male genital mutilation is a far more genial than the heinous act of female genital mutilation. Female genital mutilation serves no benefit to women, only negative effects on their physiology and psychology, and robs them of an important component to their attainment to sexual pleasure. I must step off my soap box and return to the text at hand, because I have digressed. FGM has nothing to do with the text at hand, but it is an issue that must be addressed and fought against.

Now to address the text at hand, God comes to Abram to discuss His covenant with him. God promises him again that he will have many sons who will be kings of many lands. God also decides to give a new name to both Abram and Sarai; they are now to be known as Abraham and Sarah. Abraham was the first of his people to reject their idol worship and the first to promote a monotheistic religion based on the Israelite god, if Abraham ever existed, and puts us somewhere around 1800 BCE. God promises Abraham that he will be given a son by his first wife, Sarah, if he makes a covenant that all men who descend from him, and all the men he owns and their descendants are circumcised. In “God’s Covenant With Abram”, God required that Abram cut in half a heifer, a ram, and a goat, all three years old, and to sacrifice a dove and a pigeon for the birth of one son, Ishmael, to another women, Hagar. For the birth of another son by his first wife, God has raised the stakes. God now requires the flesh of penises of all that descend from Abraham and the people he owns to be circumcised as a sign of the covenant with God. God’s new found desire for the flesh of penises is odd to say the least, but this sacrifice of flesh (and blood) is a recurring theme in the Bible. God states that all new born’s are to be circumcised within eight days of birth and any who are not circumcised have broken their covenant with God.

Abraham laughs and asks God how can he and Sarah have a child; they are so old–Abraham a hundred and Sarah ninety. Abraham says to God, ‘If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!’ God tells Abraham that his first wife, Sarah, will give him a son in a year named Isaac, whom God will make a covenant with. God will bless Ishmael and make him into a great nation, but won’t make a covenant with him. When they had finished their discussion God went up from him. Abraham, with haste, then circumcised every male in his household and all the men he owned. Both he and his son Ishmael, thirteen at the time, were circumcised on the say day. A great father and son bonding experience.

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Genesis: Hagar and Ishmael

Genesis 16:1-16

In the last story of the Bible, Abram is promised a child by God. Sarai, however, is unable to conceive a child. Sarai then tells Abram that he should sleep with her maidservant Hagar, whom she acquired in Egypt ten years ago. Abram agrees to sleep with Hagar and take her as his second wife, another example of polygamy in the Bible. When Hagar knows she is pregnant, she begins to despise her mistress, Sarai.  Sarai then goes to her husband, Abram, and says this is all his fault. Abram tells his first wife that Hagar is her maidservant and it is her place to “[d]o with her whatever [she] thinks best”. Sarai mistreated Hagar, abuses her in some way, and Hagar flees. Hagar flees to a spring in the desert where an angel comes to her. The angel ask why she is fleeing. Hagar responds to the angel saying that it is because her mistress is mistreating her. The angel tells her to go back to her mistress and submit to her. The reward for her submission will be more descendants, which doesn’t seem like much of a reward to me. No person should be forced to live in an abusive situation; that is immoral. Tyranny of any kind should never be tolerated, but in the Bible it often is. The angel tells her that she will give birth to a son, and she will name him Ishmael. Ishmael “will be a wild donkey of a man”, a jackass perhaps? He will be aggressive towards everyone and everyone will be aggressive towards him. Ishmael doesn’t sound like he will be one of the most savory of characters, rather quite a brute. Hagar returns to Abram and Sarai, and she bears Abram a son, whom he names Ishmael.

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Genesis: God’s Convenant With Abram

Genesis 15:1-21

The last few stories of the Bible have been jejune, except maybe the last story which gave some insight to Abram’s military prowess, but even that leaves the reader unfulfilled due to lack of detail. This passage at least offers some things to discuss.

The Lord comes to Abram in a vision: “Do not  be afraid Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” Abram replies to this by asking God what God can offer him. He has no son to be his heir, and will have to give all he has to Eliezer of Damascus since God has not given him a son. God tells him that Eliezer will not be his heir and that God will grant him a child from his own body. God takes him outside and tells Abram to look up at the stars and count them, if he can. His offspring will equal in number to the stars. Obviously not his actual descendants, those from his own loin, but must include his descendants offspring as well. This news pleases Abram. God reminds Abram that He is the one who promised this land to him. Abram asks how can he be sure that the land will be his? God orders Abram to bring Him a heifer, that’s a young virgin cow in case you don’t know, a ram and a goat, each three years old. Also, he is to bring a dove and a young pigeon. Abram brought all these animals to the altar to sacrifice to God. He cut each animal in half–I wonder in which way, hot dog or hamburger. Am I the only one who remembers these saying from school to illustrate how to fold paper in half?–except the birds. When birds of prey came to feast on the flesh of Abram’s sacrificial offerings to the Lord, Abram fought them off. As the sun set Abram fell asleep, and in a dream God came to him. God told him that his descendants “will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years.” God promises to punish the nation that enslaves his descendants after four hundred years of oppression, and then will reward them with great possessions. God tells Abram that he will die before this, and die peacefully. God says he cannot give the land to Abram and his descendants yet, because “the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” That is the day, according to this passage, that God made his covenant with Abram, and promised him and his descendants all the land from the Nile to the Euphrates.

In this passage we see another example of God’s unquenchable appetite for the blood and flesh of animals, not only that, now His taste is even more refined. He has acquired a taste for virgin-female animals as well. This was not enough to please God, and grant Abram and his descendants the land He had promised them. More suffering had to endure before He could fulfill His obligation.

In the next story we see the conception and birth of the first child of Abram, but this child’s mother is not who you would think.

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Genesis: Abram Rescues Lot

Genesis 14:1-24

The kings of Shinar, Ellasar, Elam, and Goiim are at war with the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela. The latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim. For twelve years these kings were subjects to Kedorlaomer, the king of Elam, but after thirteen years they rebelled. King Kedorlaomer and all his allies went out and defeated the Rephaites, Zuzites, Emites, Horites, Amalekites, and the Hazazon Tamar in the fourteenth year. The kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela go to battle in the Valley of Siddim against king Kedorlaomer and his allies. This valley is full of tar pits. When the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, and their allies fled from the battle some fell into the tar pits and the rest fled for the hills. King Kedorlaomer and his allies took all the goods in Sodom and Gomorrah, and they also took Lot, who was living in Sodom, and all his possessions. One of the men who escaped the battle went to Abram and told him of Lot’s abduction. Abram gathered 312 men and set off to save his nephew. When he caught up with the army, he attacked at night and routed the troops. He recovered all the good and his nephew Lot. The king of Sodom meets Abram as does Melchizedek king of Salem, who brought out bread and wine, after Abram returns from defeating King Kedorlaomer. The king of Salem says that Abram is blessed by God Most High. Abram gives him a tenth of everything he recovered during his military campaign. The king of Sodom offers Abram to keep all the good he had recovered during his campaign, but Abram denies. Abram says, “I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread of the thong of a sandal, so that you will be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me . . . Let them have their share.”

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Genesis: Abram and Lot Separate

Genesis 13:1-18

When we left off, Abram is ordered to leave Egypt by the Pharaoh, because he had his wife lie. He told his wife to tell the Pharaoh they were brother and sister, because he believed the Pharaoh would kill him and take her for his wife. After they told the lie, the Pharaoh took Abram’s wife, and gave Abram land and livestock making him a wealthy man. The Pharaoh is subjected to God’s wrath for marrying Abram’s wife. When the Pharaoh learns of Abram’s deception, he calls upon Abram and asks why he didn’t tell him Sarai was his wife. The Pharaoh then tells Abram to take his wife, all that he owns, and leave Egypt. I question the motives of Abram, or at least his ethics. I believe the ethics of any man favorably procuring his wife should be scrutinized.

This passage begins with Abram leaving Egypt towards Negev with his wife, his possessions, and Lot. Abram has acquired great wealth–livestock, silver, and gold–while in Egypt. Lot has also acquired livestock and people who follow him. While traveling together, the people of Abram and the people of Lot began to quarrel. To prevent fighting between the two, Abram and Lot agree to separate and each to go opposite ways. Lot sees that the land of Jordan is fertile, so he choses this land. Abram goes to live in the land of Canaan. God then says to Abram, after Lot parts ways, that all the land that he sees from where he is belongs to him and his offspring forever. Abram then builds an altar for the Lord.

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Genesis: The Call of Abram & Abram in Egypt

Genesis 12:1-20

In The Call of Abram, God says to Abram, “‘Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you’”. God tells Abram that He will make him a great nation, make his name will known, bless all that bless him, and curse all that curse Abram. Abram leaves and brings his nephew Lot, his wife Sarai, and the people he had acquired while in Haran with him. God tells him to go to Canaan where the Canaanites already reside. Abram wanders through the land of Canaan. He stops first at the site of “the great tree of Moreh at Shechem” and builds an altar to God. God, pleased with his offerings, promises Abram the lands of Canaan. He then leaves and travels to a location between Bethel and Ai, and builds an altar there. Abram then continues to Negev.

Abram in Egypt

Famine strikes the land of Canaan, so Abram leaves Canaan for Egypt. Before Abram enters Egypt, he tells his wife that if the Egyptians know they are married then they will kill him and take her, because she is beautiful. So he tells his wife to lie and say they are brother and sister, so he would “‘be treated well for [her] sake and [his] life will be spared for [her]’” When they enter Egypt, she tells the official that they are brother and sister. The officials, impressed by her beauty, bring her to the Pharaoh to become his wife. Abram is taken care of, as he had said, and given livestock and servants. According to this story, God inflicts “serious diseases on the Pharaoh and his household”. The Pharaoh summons Abram and asks, “‘What have you done to me?’” “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife, and allow me to marry her?” The Pharaoh then tells him to take his wife, everything he has, and leave his land. A lenient punishment for such a crime. Abram is the original con-artist.

Next, the story of how Abram and Lot separate.

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