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.

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