Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Genesis: Chapters 31-33

I didn't mention this last time, but there are some RIDICULOUS episodes between Jacob and his uncle Laban. As you may recall, he was working for his wives for fourteen years total, and he stuck around and kept working long enough that he'd earned a share of Laban's herds. Jacob suggests and Laban agrees that Jacob shall receive all the spotted and speckled cows and goats, and all the brown(or black, depending on your translation) sheep. This is where it gets tricky: Jacob puts some special branches in their water, and then ALL the calves and kids and lambs are speckled, spotted and/or brown.

At many points in the OT, God tells someone to do something seemingly arbitrary and then does something nice for them, but I have NO idea where Jacob got this silly branch idea. It turns out God is punishing Laban for changing the terms of Jacob's wages so many times; was the branch stunt really necessary? Half of the time it feels like important details in these stories are missing, and the other half of the time the whole story seems very unnecessary, and I often can't tell which situation is which!

The EXTRA ridiculous episode is next, and it is a perfect example of the, "Am I missing something huge or is this story just completely pointless?" issue I have with basically everything so far. Before leaving for good, Rachel (the favorite wife) steals her father's 'teraphim' which is basically an idol or graven image, but for the life of me all I can think of this as is a knickknack. Don't ask me why it's stolen, for no explanation is given. After this, Jacob packs up and runs off in the middle of the night, and Laban is pissed. Overnight he loses a huge portion of his flock, his daughters disappear without a by-your-leave, and to top it all off his favorite knickknacks are missing! So he chases after Jacob, and is all, "Why'd you take my knickknacks, jackass? Oh, and also my daughters," and Jacob is all, "I didn't TOUCH your knickknacks, feel free to KILL WHOEVER DID," so you think some awesome Greek tragedy shit is about to go down, right? So Laban searches every tent thoroughly, but when he gets to Rachel's she SITS on the knickknacks and is all, "I can't get up, I'm on my period" and that's the end of that conflict! The knickknacks NEVER COME UP AGAIN. I'm not exactly down on English lingo, being a mathematician, but this has to be breaking like three different storytelling rules at least.

As Jacob gets closer and closer home, he gets more and more nervous that Esau will kill him. He hears that Esau is bringing FOUR HUNDRED MEN to meet him; pretty scary! He does a lot of whining about how he deserves to be killed, and sends SO MANY GIFTS ahead, along with servants instructed to relay all his groveling and subservience.

That night, Jacob wrestled with an ANGEL, and (I like to imagine) holds the angel in a headlock until he agrees to bless Jacob. The angel renames him Israel, because of how BADASS he is. Armed with a blessing and a new name, however, he grovels and whines and frets about Esau exactly as much. Why is Esau more threatening than an angel? Last I remember, Esau was pretty easy to best!

In yet another Father-of-the-Year-Award moment, Jacob Israel blatantly lines his wives, concubines and children in order from least favorite to favorite, so that if Esau is in a killin' mood, at least Leah will be slaughtered before Rachel is. He bows seven times before Esau and declares himself his lifelong servant. Luckily, Esau is in a REALLY good mood and doesn't take advantage of his nonsense. Nobody kills anybody! Yet another disappointing anticlimax.

Dinah next!


  1. Do we have a pool on when you'll get your first comment from an irate christian?

    I pick November 2010

  2. That is why I cannot read the Bible, it is not a coherent narrative. I guess it was before the Invention of the Novel.

  3. As an irate christian, I am offended by the very idea of a betting pool.