Thursday, August 26, 2010

Exodus: So God and Moses Walk Into A Bar...

Updates may be less frequent for a while, because I left my Kindle at my boyfriend's place so I have to read Exodus online, unless someone in Chicago wants to lend me a bible, and I tend to read slowly online. But I did manage to knock back the first few chapters!

I am a bit concerned; four chapters in and we are definitely over halfway through the plot of The Prince of Egypt. I'm starting to think Exodus is going to be 10 chapters of awesome plot, 30 chapters of people whining in the desert and listing boring and outdated rules for society.

Still, let's enjoy the awesome plot for as long as it lasts! First off, the Pharaoh of Egypt is not super great at thinking things through: "Uh oh, the Jews outnumber us and might one day decide to conquer us! Let's preemptively strike by enslaving them and giving them a really good reason to hate us!" Also, I love that he's ruthless enough to want to kill all the baby boys, but mostly just politely asks the two Hebrew midwives to do it for him, and when they're like, "Sorry, no can do," he's all, "Oh, okay".

Also, the Jews vastly outnumber the Egyptians, who were pretty numerous, but they only have two midwives?

In the Bible version, baby Moses is not surrendered upon the treacherous Nile, but instead hidden on the shore-much less dramatic! I hear in the Qu'ran it is different and more exciting, though. And then Moses' older sister is like, "Hey, I noticed you found a Hebrew baby just this second, want my mom who literally just lost her baby to nurse him?" and nobody puts two and two together, it's great.

Moses grows up in all of two verses, and kills an Egyptian in defense of a Hebrew slave. But then the next day he tells two Hebrews to stop fighting and they're like, "What're you gonna do, murder us like you did yesterday?" Jeez, ungrateful much? I guess, though, if I were part of an enslaved demographic and there was ONE member of the demographic who got to be ROYALTY that would kind of get to me, too.

At the end of Chapter 2, God remembers that promise he made about ten times in Genesis, and how all those descendants he promised don't mean much if they're all enslaved, and how maybe he should be doing something for those people he Chose. It's weird to think that this is the God people credit with constantly watching and caring about every little thing that happens, because here it reads like he spaced out for a few generations. This kind of neglect spells Child Protective Services for us ordinary humans, but God naturally is held to a different, lower standard.

GUYS did you know the phrase Stranger in a Strange Land comes from Exodus 2: 22? It does! It is Moses' self-description, and his explanation for why he names his firstborn son Gershom. Go figure.

In Chapter 2 Moses' father-in-law's name is Reuel, but in Chapter 3 it's Jethro. Go figure again.

God deliberately hardens Pharaoh's heart so that he won't let the Hebrews go. What the hell, God? I mean, seriously, he explicitly says he will make sure Pharaoh is non-compliant. Why?

But everyone's complained about this. What is more confusing, and what is left out of every telling of Moses's story even though it's AMAZING, is this:
24 And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him.

25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast [it] at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband [art] thou to me.

26 So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband [thou art], because of the circumcision.

What the hell? Moses runs into God in an inn. Clearly the way God interacts with the world is not the way he used to interact with the world. And he wants to kill Moses, in the middle of Moses' journey to do his bidding? Why? And then Moses' wife steps up to the plate, which is awesome, and realizes that God wants what God always wants, which is baby penis skin. The whole incident is very confusing, and entirely ignored. I suppose God was mad that Moses' son wasn't already circumcised, but you'd think it would have come up earlier. Also, why isn't Moses' son circumcised? I guess when you are doing it as part of a deal with God and God clearly isn't holding up his end of the agreement, you stop mutilating penises after a few generations. That's reasonable. But God's back now, and he wants his foreskins!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Retrospective: Genesis!

Things we learn from Genesis

Why children leave their parents and get married and have sex (2:24).
Why snakes don't have legs (3:14).
Why women hate snakes (3:15).
Why childbirth is painful (3:16).
Why there are weeds (3:17).
Why there are rainbows (9:13).
Why people speak different languages (11:7).
Why the hell anyone would ever perform a circumcision (17:10).
Why Jews don't eat of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh (32:32).

I was going to include Why Men Have One Less Rib, which is a common misconception, but then I looked it up and it turns out RIBS GROW BACK, which is a much more awesome biological legitimazation of the creation of Eve.

Things we don't learn from Genesis
Why God has the hots for Abraham, or any of his kids.

Things endorsed by Genesis
Staying in an abusive relationship
Tricking old blind men
Impregnating your wife's wives' servants
Famine profiteering

Number of times God promises either Abraham or his descendants numerous progeny: 10
..."as the stars of heaven" : 3
..."as the sand of the sea" : 2
..."the dust of the earth" : 1

Relevant facts
Number of stars: 200 billion in this galaxy alone
...that can be seen by the naked eye: 5770
Number of grains of sand on all the beaches of the earth: 1 million billion billion
...on an average beach: about a billion, give or take...a lot.
Number of dust particles in the world: I can't even. Google and I are both at a loss.
Number of people who have ever lived: about 106 billion as of 2002
Number of descendants of Abraham who have ever lived: No clue, but a lot less than a hundred billion.

So, depending on how you interpret God's covenant, he's either nowhere near fulfilling it, or it was fulfilled centuries ago and also wasn't that impressive of a promise. Either way, it is basically all the same promise and he makes it about ten times, and it's still not fulfilled by the end of Genesis.

Family Troubles
Number of older siblings inexplicably passed over in favor of a younger brother or sister, with unfortunate results for all parties: 14 (10 of which belong to Jacob)

You know, since nearly every main patriarch falls in the "younger child favored for no reason despite social convention" camp, and considering just how many stories in Genesis have the moral of, "Suck it up, sometimes the youngest kid is just better," I'm beginning to wonder if God isn't a passed-over younger child himself. Maybe God has an older brother, who made a wildly successful world, fair and harmonious and peaceful, and their parents always mentioned how good it was, and God got fed up with it and decided to make his OWN world which would be EVEN BETTER and the YOUNGER sons would be the favorites, so take THAT. I mean, it would explain a lot.

Incidentally, a cursory Google search reveals child favoritism does indeed have serious psychological ramifications, both for the out-of-favor children and, counter-intuitively, for the favored child as well. Just a thought.

Number of times a patriarch marries a woman more distantly related than first cousin: 1 (and he was in Egypt, where there were no first cousins to be found)

Number of times a woman tricks her father or father-in-law into bed so she can have a baby: 3

Number of times God punishes a main patriarch for his actions: 0
Number of times God punishes someone else for the actions of a main patriarch: 3
Via infertility: 3
Of an entire country: 2

Writing Style
A good chunk of Genesis is devoted to blandly detailing Abraham's tangled family tree; the word "begat" occurs 67 times, and "bare" 56 times.

Percentage of verses which begin with "And" or "But"
1163/1533 = 76%
To be fair, not all of these are the beginnings of sentences, but a lot of sentences which don't begin with "and" or "but" still begin with inappropriate connectives, so I figure this is a pretty good estimate.

Okay, so that's Genesis. It contains some of the most well-known stories in the Bible, and was one of my favorite parts of my children's comic book bible as a kid. The stories were mostly fragmented, incomprehensible, and stuck between great big chunks of family tree descriptions.

Next up, Exodus! I am looking forward to Exodus-it is one big story instead of a dozen tiny ones, so hopefully it will more closely resemble a proper story.

Bonus Fun fact: Noah's ark was made of gopher wood!
Another fun fact: No one knows what the hell gopher wood is.

Monday, August 16, 2010

One Book Down, 65 To Go

So it turns out seven years of famine is a long time. According to Genesis, after a single year of it everyone is out of money and out of food again, the economy has failed, and everyone in Egypt is knocking on Joseph's door asking for bread. This leads me to the conclusion that Pharaoh and Joseph, having advanced warning of the famine, chose to NOT spread the word to everyone to store up food, but instead just stored up their own food, all for sweet, sweet profiteering. Your money is worthless? No problem, Joseph accepts cattle. You're out of cattle and there's still four years of famine to go? Don't sweat it, Pharaoh will buy your land! And you! Just sell yourselves and your families into the service of Pharaoh for all time, and Joseph will graciously give you just enough food to not die, because that's the kind of stand-up fellow Joseph is.

Granted, it's not slavery so much as a legitimization of taxes until the end of time. Joseph gives the people of Egypt seed, and they agree to give Pharaoh 20% of their crop forever. My question here is, what exactly was Pharaoh's authority before Joseph buys all of Egypt for him? Why didn't Pharaoh own it already? Was he just a rich guy everyone agreed to listen to and bow down to? Before the faminie, during the years of plenty, he takes 20% of everyone's crop to begin with-did he pay for it, or is this a typical tax? There's no mention of buying it, just taking it, but now I'm back to my original question, namely, what makes this arrangement something new?

Israel reaches the end of his life, after living for seventeen years in the lap of luxury at the expense of the starving Egyptian people, so it is time to bless the next generation of patriarchs. Israel gives Joseph's younger son the better blessing-you'll recall Israel, formerly Jacob, has something of a history with younger sons getting better blessings. Everyone is all, "No, Israel, you're blessing the wrong son," but Israel knows better: if you don't give younger kids the good blessing under your supervision and on your terms, they'll just get them off the street.

Right before Jacob dies, he tells his sons what he thinks of them, and gives them their fortunes. There is an unexpected amount of occult, fortune telling and dream interpreting both being methods of predicting the future, but I guess it doesn't count if you're Chosen.

Simeon and Levi are scolded by their father for killing men in anger-these are the two brothers that massacred an entire city because they didn't like their sister's boyfriend, so this part reads like a massive understatement, but it is nice to see we're finally acknowledging that these two are psychopaths who shouldn't be trusted with founding a book club, much less a fucking nation. Maybe leaving the inheritance to the youngest son isn't such a bad idea after all!

Once Israel dies, Joseph's brothers are once more afraid Joseph will take revenge for the whole selling and death faking thing, so they throw themselves at his feet and declare that Israel's dying request was that Joseph forgive his brothers. Now, nowhere does it say Israel said any such thing, so I think this is just a lie they make up as a last-ditch attempt to save their cowardly asses. Fortunately Joseph has some good perspective on the whole thing, having been made second in command of all Egypt as a direct result of their dickery, and he forgives them, presumably graciously accepting their offers of lifelong servitude.

Genesis ends with Joseph's death at the age of 110-hardly more than a child, cut down in his prime! Still, as far as Genesis stories go, the story of Joseph is a nice one to end on; it resembles a proper story more than most, and has a nice message of forgiveness and making the most of any situation. To the best of my knowledge, it is the only Genesis story deemed worthy of immortalization via musical.

Next up, a giant retrospective of Genesis as a whole. I will actually put some effort into it, so it might take a while, but stay tuned!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Genesis: Chapters 42-47

Famine strikes the world, and Egypt is the only country with any grain, so Jacob/Israel sends his non-Benjamin sons to go buy some. Benjamin is too precious to risk sending to Egypt, since he is the only son of the now dead Rachel left, and I guess he's just not allowed to do anything. In my children's bible, Benjamin was portrayed as a young child, maybe ten, so not sending him to Egypt made sense, but by my calculations he is at least...twenty. Twenty plus however old he was when Joseph was sold into slavery, so somewhere between twenty and thirty-six. This is the point where maybe you'd be like, "Dad, I'm really sad Mom and Joseph died, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't live my life!" which I'm pretty sure was the moral of Finding Nemo, and that kid couldn't have been more than two. Man up, Benjamin! But Benjamin is content to let his brothers do all the work, and they are sent off their merry way.

Joseph recognizes his brothers the second they get into town. Is this luck? Or is Joseph actually personally meeting every vagrant that shows up to get food from the only country in the world that has it? Or is it just that a group of ten douchebags stand out in a crowd? Whatever the reason, Joseph takes advantage of his position and accuses his brothers of being spies. You see, Joseph wants to believe that his brothers can be forgiven, but he must test them first. They insist they are humble brothers who left their youngest brother at home, so Joseph takes one of them prisoner, sends them off with grain, and says they'll get their brother back when they return with Benjamin, which I guess will prove they're not lying spies. I really don't see how, surely nine spies could go round up some brat to play along, but the brothers aren't in a position to point out that everything Joseph is saying and doing is insane.

When they get home they discover that all the money they paid for grain is back in their sacks! For some reason, this scares them most of all, I guess because they can now be certain Egypt, the only land with any food, is being run by a first class madman.

Jacob is, of course, very reluctant to part with Benjamin, "for his brother is dead, and he only is left," present company excluded I guess. His eldest, Reuben, offers to let Jacob slay his two sons if he doesn't bring both Simeon and Benjamin back safe and sound. Yeah, that's a great consolation, "Hey, if you lose another son, you can kill two of your grandkids!" Brilliant collateral, Reuben. Jacob is having none of it, understandable considering how fishy the whole situation is in general, so Simeon has to hang out for two years in an Egyptian prison. When all the grain is used up, Jacob finally agrees to let Benjamin do something, and sends them off to buy more. They are welcomed with open arms, and there is a very touching scene where Joseph has to excuse himself because he is moved to tears at seeing his long lost kid brother after so long. Adorable!

His great love and joy and being secretly reunited, however, doesn't stop him from framing Benjamin for theft and declaring his life forfeit. Judah explains how Benjamin can't be killed since he is their father's favorite after he lost his old favorite son, and he begs Joseph to take him in Benjamin's place. Finally, Joseph can be sure that his brothers have learned their lesson about respecting parent favoritism. Joseph is moved to tears and reveals himself as their long lost(sold) brother! There is much weeping and hugging and kissing, and Pharaoh himself gives Joseph his blessing to go get his entire inbred clan and bring them all to Egypt to live the good life for the next five years of famine.

God assures Jacob Israel that he totally SHOULD go down and move to Egypt, it will be a GREAT move for the Hebrews, seriously, nothing could POSSIBLY go wrong with a ton of Hebrews moving into Egypt. Seriously, God? We know how this turns out.

Note: Benjamin has ten sons. He is totally too old for his dad to be sheltering him. To be fair, some of those must be multiple births; for example, I bet Huppim and Muppim are twins.

Note the Second: Huppim and Muppim. Benjamin named a kid Muppim, and then he named a kid Huppim. We can end the Best Name contest, guys, nothing will top those.

Chapter 46 ends on a particularly bizzare note. Joseph meets his clan halfway, more weeping and Oh My Son Is Alive-ing, and then Joseph is like, "Guys, whatever you do, DON'T tell the Pharaoh you're shepherds. Tell him you keep cattle, for (and this is a direct quote) every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians" Why? Why would that be the case? Does anyone know if the Egyptians actually hated shepherds?

At the opening of the next chapter, Pharaoh is all, "So, what do you guys do?" and they're like, "We're shepherds, sir!". Way to listen, guys! Fortunately Pharaoh doesn't care. At all. This family has this weird history of thinking they need to lie about things they totally don't need to lie about, but at least this time nobody's womb got cursed or anything. Jacob then blesses Pharaoh-is that allowed? It seems kind of presumptuous of this abominable shepherd to bless the most powerful man in the world.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Slavery Isn't So Bad, Really...

We rejoin Joseph in Egypt, where he is discovering that slavery is pretty fine and dandy if God likes you, and your owners aren't his great-grandparents. God's favoritism is apparent to all, including Joseph's master, and Joseph is shortly made Boss of Everything. Thus we get a more explicit description of what being a Chosen One actually means: crazy awesome luck. This explains why the various surrounding tribes didn't wipe out Joseph's family, or his ancestors, for unbelievably dickish behavior. Why God favors these schmucks to begin with is certainly a puzzling matter, but let's recall that God's judgment has been far from reasonable and move on.

Unfortunately for Joseph, he is a little too sexy and his master's wife takes note. Considering the amount of sex our beloved patriarchs have with their slaves, the double standard here is staggering (but not surprising). It is clearly a given that a man's female slaves are his property, and a woman's female slaves are her husband's property; if it weren't for this, Joseph would only have about half as many brothers to sell him into slavery, and there wouldn't be any Ishmaelites for them to sell to in the first place. But when a female owner tries to seduce a male slave, it is Big Trouble, because a pious vagina can only have one owner. Joseph understand this and refuses his master's wife's advances, so she frames him for attempted rape and the next thing he knows he's in prison.

My point here is, one side of the double standard gets him enslaved in the first place, and just when he's making the best of it, BAM, he gets whacked upside the head with the other side of the double standard. IRONY. It is DEEP.

However, God's favoritism is still glaringly obvious, and soon Joseph is the boss of the jail. Joseph also gains a good reputation for being a dream interpreter; surprisingly, he can interpret dreams that have nothing to do with him being the boss of everything. He interprets the dreams of the Pharaoh himself, predicting agriculture for the next fourteen years, and on the spot Pharaoh makes him the boss of Egypt. I don't know, this strikes me as strangely trusting of Pharaoh. I don't know what the hierarchy was like in ancient (fictional) Egypt, but going from a slave in jail to Pharaoh's right hand man I'd have guessed would require more than giving an opinion on what a couple of weird dreams mean. I suppose I am just underestimating how very obvious God's favoritism is?

Pharaoh renames Joseph "Zaphnathpaaneah" which leads me to believe Pharaoh put a little bit more thought into it than God's "I don't know, just stick a few 'h's into it" approach when he renamed Sarai and Abram.

Friday, August 6, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different

In what may be the earliest recorded example of a cliffhanger, Genesis breaks away from Joseph's exciting tale just as he is sold and Egypt bound, and revisits some of the less important branches of the family tree.

If you were unlucky enough to see The Meaning of Life in your misguided adolescence instead of just looking up the Catholic/Protestant sketches on YouTube, you may remember the intermission sketch, "Find the Fish". Chapter 38 of Genesis reminds me of nothing so much as that level of bizzarity, stumbled upon amidst an otherwise boring and repulsive string of tales. It is random, it is upsetting, and its logic bears no resemblance to our modern day Earth logic.

The chapter opens with Judah, who the reader may (but almost certainly doesn't) remember as the brother who thought that selling Joseph would be more profitable than simply killing him. Judah "turned in to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah," which sounds like a particularly disorienting experience for both Judah and Hirah. Apparently this just means he visited; sadly the rest of the chapter can't be explained away via vernacular.

Judah has a few sons with a Canaanite woman; it's been well established that the worst thing a man can do is not marry his first cousin, so we know this isn't going to be a happy story. His first-born, Er, was "wicked in the sight of Jehovah". We can only begin to guess what his crime was, but the point is God strikes him dead. Judah's immediate response is that his second-born, Onan, should knock up his brother's widow, Tamar.

...what? At some point this must have made sense to someone, but it leaves me pretty thoroughly baffled. Apparently if Onan knocks her up, Er will get credit for fathering the kid. Why? And why would anybody care? Onan really doesn't want to father a kid just so his wicked, dead brother can get credit, but instead of being a gentleman and refusing to sex up a grieving widow, he DOES have sex with Tamar, but then pulls out, and God strikes him dead as well. Judah tells the widow to hang out until his third son grows up and she can get pregnant then, provided he isn't struck dead like his brothers before him in the meantime.

The more biblically literate of you maybe be saying to yourselves, "Oh, yeah, Onan, he's why we can't masturbate or use birth control" but this seems to me to be a pretty big generalization of a pretty specific story. At best all we can say is that it is evil to not knock up your brother's widow.

Jail-bait grows up but Judah fails to send him to perform his brother-in-law-ly duties, so Tamar gets fed up and heads off to seduce Judah himself. She wraps herself up from head to toe and covers her face, so Judah mistakes her for a harlot. So...apparently the burka used to be something only prostitutes wore? I couldn't confirm this with my standard 30 seconds of Google and Wikipedia searching, but I did find this.

Judah pledges her a baby goat, and gives his ring as collateral. But when he tries to send his payment, that mysterious prostitute is nowhere to be found! And at the SAME time, Tamar is pregnant! Everyone is for some reason pretty sure she hasn't conceived via incest, so of course she must be burned to death, which isn't very Pro-Life if you ask me. Judah is about to kill her, but then she reveals his ring, and Judah proclaims her to be a highly righteous woman after all. Hooray!

The chapter ends with Tamar birthing twins; one twin sticks his hand out to wave at the world, and the midwife ties a string around his wrist so they know which one came out first, but then he pulls his hand back into the womb and his brother comes out first! My favorite translation gives the midwife's response as, "What an opening you have made for yourself!" What an opening, indeed; good work, infant! The story ends, "And that's why the baby's name was Perez"; this is not the first time some seemingly pointless story has ended on a note of "And that's why they named it X" which leads me to believe that we have lost in translation some BITCHIN' puns.

So, to summarize: Judah turns into his friend, God kills his son for no given reason, and then his other son for not impregnating the first son's widow. His third son doesn't knock her up either, so the widow seduces her father-in-law and takes his ring. She is almost burnt at the stake, until it is revealed that sleeping with your husband's father doesn't count as adultery, and her deception is heavily praised. Thousands of years later all that remains is the Don't Use Condoms message, with the story's pro-incest themes tragically lost forever.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Who Hasn't Wanted To Sell Their Brother or Sister into Slavery From Time to Time?

I don't want to say that selling your irritating younger brother is ever the answer, but, well, you can kind of see where Joseph's brothers are coming from. Joseph is the latest in a long line of Favorite Younger Sons, except instead of one slighted older brother, Joseph has ten. They put up with him for seventeen years, I guess out of pity since his mother dies in childbirth when he's a kid, but after a certain point enough is enough.

For example, they are all shepherds together, and even though his brothers have been doing it a lot longer, Joseph still finds some fault to tell their father about. When I was a small favorite child and I tattled, I got a time-out. Joseph gets a flamboyant cloak.

As if Jacob's Israel's blatant favoritism weren't bad enough, Joseph spends the next few mornings going, "Guys! I had this crazy dream last night which was a thinly veiled metaphor about how everyone in the world will one day bow down to me, ESPECIALLY YOU TEN!" The brothers briefly consider killing Joseph, but decide to sell him to the Ishmaelites instead. That they are Ishmaelites is mentioned a lot, so I guess it is a big deal-I guess those shunned firstborn kin have to stick together?

The brothers return home, with Joseph's stupid coat clawed to bits and covered in blood, and they convince their father Joseph has been eaten by a lion. If they thought Joseph's untimely death would aid in getting their father to love them more and Joseph less, chalk one more up in the Inbreeding PSA column.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Circumcision as a Weapon of Mass Destruction

Like all great love stories, this one begins with a rape.

Well, that's not quite accurate. It would certainly make the story more dramatic, but the truth of the matter is that Genesis, painfully detailed when it comes to the most boring parts of a story, does not care to inform us about such trivial matters as female consent. I'm not sure a woman is even capable of having an opinion about the matter, considering how we heard nothing from Sarai or Rebekah about being handed all around Egypt and Gerar for absolutely no good reason whatsoever. In fact, the only opinion or desire any woman every has in Genesis is that she wants to have a BABY. Specifically, a son. If she can't have a son (as is so often the case), she wants her slave to have a son for her so she can take credit for it. Which everyone will immediately revoke once she manages to have her own baby, because that's how adoption works. But, when it comes to the act of baby-making for its own sake, a woman is as passive as a piece of furniture.

So, to back up, a local prince (read: non-first-cousin) is smitten with Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, and 'takes' her. His soul claves unto her, he loves her, he whispers sweet nothings in her ear, he longeth for her, he begs, and gets his father to beg for him, the privilege of marrying her, at whatever dowry price her father and brothers care to name, if he can only but have her. So far, so...well, not great, exactly, but he does seem to have as good intentions as anyone in Genesis is capable of having.

The rest of the locals would love to be able to marry these hot Jewish babes as well, so I'm forced to conclude that Dinah has sisters, even though we will never hear about a single one of them. Dinah's brothers explain they cannot let their sister marry an uncircumcised man, but any man who IS circumcised may marry any of their women. The local men are only too eager to cut off the tips of their penises, if it means being welcomed into this clan of Chosen people, and every one of them eagerly does so. I can only assume this leads to a giant mass wedding, and we are left with a heartwarming tale about the beauty of peacemaking, and how divisions of race and nationality are meaningless in the face of the greater truth that We are All God's Children, and...

Oh, wait, the chapter's not over.

Three days later, every male in the city is feeling pretty sore and not at their best. At this point, two of Dinah's older brothers show up and FUCKING SLAUGHTER EVERYONE DOWN TO THE LAST MAN. They kill Dinah's fellow and his father and take her back, and then, because genocide isn't enough, the rest of Dinah's brothers show up and they loot the city down to the last penny, goat, and CHILD. That's right, they then enslave every orphan and widow they can find.

Jacob is...not happy. Not because of the genocide thing exactly, but because he thinks everyone in a 100 mile radius is going to be like, "Shit, those Israelites are insane mass murderers, we'd better band together and take care of them before they wipe out another city," which if you think about it would be a somewhat rational response. Jacob's sons reply, "What were we supposed to do, let him turn our sister into a SLUT?" Surely Jacob will now make some point about how there are right and wrong ways to respond to an undesirable situation, and genocide is NEVER the answer, and...

Oh, wait, the chapter is over.

Conspicuously absent from the 34th chapter of Genesis is God. As a result, also conspicuously absent is any moral analysis of the situation whatsoever. Were Dinah's brothers justified, or was Jacob right to scold them? Jacob is the patriarch, but Dinah's brothers get the last word. Is God pleased by this slaughter, or angered? Does he have no strong feelings one way or the other? I know what I think, but so far God and I don't see eye-to-eye on these things. Why is Jacob scared about being killed when he comes from a long line of patriarchs who inexplicably DON'T get killed after screwing over entire countries? At least Dinah doesn't get killed at the end, which I was starting to expect. But who will have her now? Only the most desperate of her first cousins, that's who.