Sunday, June 30, 2013

Is Your God Offended?

I've been busy lately, and therefore haven't had time to do proper posts, but I am still walking the dog and therefore still listening to some of my podcasts. I have been keeping my ears open for good lines and found just one this week that I really liked. It was from the atheist experience episode 818, and was said at about 20 minutes in to the episode.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I'm Probably a Dad by Now!!

Well, my wife is/was pregnant with our first, and if you are seeing this post it means one of two things, either she has gone into labor or I forgot to push the publish date of this post forward and it is a false alarm. :)

Chances are I won't be posting much for a little while. Apart from being busy with new responsibilities, there will be family around not so keen on the whole atheism thing. My parents don't even know I'm an atheist, my in-laws do, but I doubt they would be excited about the type of stuff I write on a daily basis.

As to being an atheist parent, I've been thinking about this quite a lot. I definitely don't want to force my kid to be an atheist, but I also don't want to send him out into the world unprepared. I definitely want to teach him what the religions say, I don't want the first time he hears it to be from a charismatic preacher (although honestly it's probably going to be from grandma). On the other hand, I don't want to be like "this is the stupid shit Christians believe". I really like the idea of teaching him the myths of a variety of cultures in a non-judgmental way. I have time, but I need to learn about those things myself sooner rather than later :) Mostly I like the idea of teaching how to think and not what to think. I want to share my love of science and awe of the natural world. I really hope he likes science!

Since I won't be posting for a little while, I thought it might be nice to get a few guest posts going. In particular, I know a few of my readers are parents. I thought it might be cool if you had thoughts on parenting as an atheist. Whether it be advice for me, or an interesting, funny, or infuriating story, I'd love to get some themed guests posts up. If you have something that fits please send it to me at hausdorff80@gmail.com

Thanks everyone. I'll be back regularly sooner or later

Update: born happy and healthy. mom is doing well. holding baby with 1 hand and typing w/ other is hard.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Exodus 2: Kill the Slave Driver and Run

Today's Podcast

The Birth of Moses (v. 1-10)

Moses was born and his mother hid him for three months. When she couldn't hide him anymore she took him down to the river and made him a basket out of reeds and put him in it and put it in the river. The daughter of the Pharaoh happened to be bathing in the river at the time and saw the basket, when she looked into it she saw the baby and took pity on him. She knew it was one of the Hebrews children, so she had a Hebrew woman (the boy's mother) nurse him until he was older and then he became the son of the Pharaoh's daughter's son.

I guess the point is the law was that the boys are supposed to be put in the river, and Moses was put there. The intention was that he would die, but that's not the letter of the law. Is that right? Or it the point that it was the Pharaoh's daughter that pulled him out of the river, no one else could get away with it?

From Guzik
The baby Moses opened his eyes to an unfriendly world. He was born in a superpower of a nation, but was of an alien, oppressed race during a time when all babies such as himself were under a royal death sentence. Nevertheless, Moses had something special in his favor: he was the child of believing parents.
This really struck me because he credits Moses' survival with the fact that his parents were believers. I would argue that it is actually because his mother was willing to take action, and not just because she believed. Furthermore, he seems to be implying that all of the other mothers whose children died weren't really believers. It really reminds me of when people thank God that they survived a natural disaster, it only makes sense if you don't consider people who didn't survive.
In a literal sense, Moses' mother did exactly what Pharaoh said to do: put her son into the river (Exodus 1:22). However, she took care to put him in a waterproofed basket and strategically floated him in the river.
But more so, this is a great example of trusting the child's welfare and future to God alone. When Moses' mother let go of that ark made of bulrushes, she was giving up something precious, trusting that God would take care of it, and perhaps find a way to give it back to her.
Did she trust God, or did she just have no other choice? I would argue that trusting God would have been just tossing him in the river, putting him in the basket was an act of desperation.

Guzik keeps referencing Acts 7, apparently Paul summarized this story there and includes more details. I would like to know how he is able to add details that are not in the old testament.


Moses Flees to Midian (v. 11-22)
perfect picture! Source

One day Moses saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew guy, so he made sure no one was watching and killed the Egyptian.

This is interesting, Moses kills a slave-driver. Do we call him a murderer now? Is this evidence of Moses' terrible character? Honestly, I'm not so sure. We do know that the Egyptian was beating a slave, does that make killing him justified? Again, I'm not sure. Given what little information we have, I think we can drum up scenarios where Moses was totally justified (the slave was about to be beaten to death and killing the Egyptian was the only way to prevent that death) and where he completely overreacted (in many situations Moses could have protected the Hebrew man without using lethal force). I think I'm inclined to give Moses the benefit of the doubt here and not count this against him too harshly.

The next day some Hebrew men were gossiping about the murder, and Moses freaked out because he figured this meant that everyone knew about it, including Pharaoh. He fled, and it's a good thing too, because Pharaoh heard about it he tried to kill Moses.

Presumably this means that he sent out some guys to kill him, or perhaps he set up a bounty, or something.

When Moses got to Midian he saw seven women trying to water their flock, but some guys were trying to drive them away. Moses helped them, which led to him being invited over to their house, and ultimately marrying one of them (Zipporah) and having a son named Gershom.
God led Moses to this specific family at this specific time.
I find this mentality fascinating, largely because I used to think this way. Everything has a deeper purpose, everything was intended to happen, God is always in charge. The interesting thing is, if things happen randomly, this mentality will find God everywhere. I talked about this using a coin flip game a while ago. Ultimately a single person in the united states wins this game, God could have guided him to be the winner, but if there is no God guiding things, someone has to win, and that guy will probably feel like God helped him out.

God Hears Israel's Groaning (v. 23-25)

The king of Egypt died, the people of Israel cried out to God for help and God remembered his covenant with those people.

This is such a weird section. Did God previously forget about them? Did their collective complaining have to reach a certain volume before he took notice? Perhaps this is just a poetic way of saying that it is time for God to help them, but it is certainly not the way it seems to read to me.
God remembered (again, in the sense of turning His active attention towards them)
Even this doesn't really make sense to me. Isn't an omniscient God supposed to be completely aware of everything all the time? Does God have active attention and passive attention

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Highlights Around the Web

These are some interesting things I heard or read this week.


This was from the Adam Carolla podcast with Adam Bornstein and John Romaniello. I'm not sure which one of them was talking so I left them both in the picture. Also, he said he was quoting Alan Cosgrove, I don't know who that is, but I apparently agree with at least one thing he has said. (It was at about 1 hour 11 minutes in the show)


This one is from a blog I found recently I am an atheist and this is why. Simple and to the point. I love it!


This was also from a blog I found recently God is a myth! The post was talking about how how the religious will often say that the bible leads people to the truth, but then asks the question of why there are so many denominations.

(Note: I'm assuming that since I saw these quotes in a public forum and linked back to the source they are pretty much fair game. If I quoted something you said and would like me to take it down just let me know)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Politics [Immigration, Flags]

Last week I talked about wanting to post about politics once a week. Two weeks in a row, we're off to a good start!

photo credit

S. 744: The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill

We'll start with the big immigration bill in the senate right now. The bill itself is 1304 pages, so it looks like I will have to rely on other people's summaries as to what is in it. Actually, now that I think about it, the Senators must have to do the same thing, I can't imagine they are reading these bills either. This seems like a terrible way to do business. There's actually quite a lot written in the opposing and endorsing lists as well. I guess I'll alternate and do as many of them as I can stand.

Endorsing: National Education Association (NEA)
a pathway to citizenship for more than 11 million aspiring Americans, ensuring and promoting family unity, and inclusion of the DREAM Act.
I certainly like the idea of a pathway to citizenship, I really do think that children who were brought over here illegally should have a way to become legal citizens. It can't be too easy though, mass amnesty is garbage. They should have to work for it, but there should be a way.
The “Little Dreamer” amendment to be offered by Senator Blumenthal ensures that children under the age of 13 are eligible for a 5 year expedited pathway to citizenship, and are not relegated to the 13 year pathway to citizenship simply because of their age. A 5 year pathway to citizenship for Little Dreamers would put them on par with their older brothers and sisters, who may be eligible for the 5 year expedited pathway under the Dream Act, and ensures equity within families.
5 year path to citizenship for children and 13 year path for adults. That certainly sounds pretty reasonable on the surface.

Opposing: NumbersUSA
Like the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, S. 744 is mass amnesty now, with only promises of weak enforcement later.
Well, that's very frustrating, because one of these two groups is lying. If it's mass amnesty now I'm against it, if it's 5 year for children and 13 year for adults I'm probably for it. Which is true?

Endorsing: National Council of La Raza (NCLR)

Nothing of value said here

Opposing: Heritage Action
The Gang of Eight’s immigration bill, drafted behind closed doors, is an amnesty first plan. 
within six months, the Gang of Eight’s bill will grant amnesty almost everyone who entered the country illegally prior to 2012.
Again, if this is true the bill sucks.

Endorsing: Scanning the rest

There's a lot of "this bill is not perfect but it's a good step". No real information as far as I could tell

Opposing: Scanning the rest

Lots of talk about quick amnesty and waste of taxpayer money.



I'm sure this is completely obvious, but I don't know what the hell I'm doing here. Does anyone know where I can get real information about this stuff? Ideally I would go read the bill now, but it's so damn long that's just not going to happen. One side or the other is flat out lying, and quite frankly, it is exactly over the part of this that is the most important. If it is blanket amnesty for anyone who has come in before 2012 then it is complete garbage and should be voted down. If it is a long hard process for people who contribute and are willing to work for their citizenship then it is most likely something I would support. So how do I find out which it is?

[The next day]

So I wrote everything above here yesterday, and last night on the daily show they were talking about it a bunch. Apparently this bill has been all over the place and I just wasn't paying attention to the right places. One thing that really jumped out at me (because I had been looking for this earlier that day) was that they mentioned that the path to citizenship takes 13 years.


So I decided I would look a little bit harder today and see if I can find some better information. A quick search led me here, which describes the law a bit, you have to fulfill certain requirements and it looks like it takes quite a while. And I found an article here, which pretty much agrees that amnesty is a bad idea, but this bill isn't amnesty. I think I've done enough here, the people who are claiming this is just amnesty are just liars spreading misinformation. Fuck those guys!


photo credit

H.R. 2355: To require the purchase of domestically made flags of the United States of America for use by the Federal Government.

This one just kinda cracked me up. There's no information except the title, perhaps that's all we need here. On one hand it seems like unnecessary bloat legislation, on the other hand, we certainly should be making our flags here right? Our military flying an american flag that is made in China just seems stupid. Perhaps this is the kind of stimulus we should be focusing on. Don't give out free money, but instead pay an extra few cents per flag and buy it locally.

Perhaps this is one of those things where the guy proposing it knows its garbage but just wants to be able to go home and say "look at this patriotic bill I tried to pass!"



Friday, June 21, 2013

Exodus 1: Shiphrah and Puah Are Heroes

Today's Podcast

Before we get to the reading, let's look at the wikipedia entry on this book.

Authorship: Apparently Moses is supposed to be the author of the first 5 books, but scholarship as of late 19th century sees this as unlikely. Apparently, it is thought to likely have been written in the 6th century BCE during the Babylonian exile.

Israel Increases Greatly in Egypt (v. 1-7)

Joseph and his brothers eventually die, but they were fruitful and their people multiply greatly in Egypt and grew increasingly strong.

So we are moving forward to new characters. Good to know.

Pharaoh Oppresses Israel (v. 8-22)

There is a new king in Egypt, and he looks around at all of the Israelites and is concerned that they are too many and too mighty. They are a real threat if they go to war against Egypt. Since they are strong, the king decides to deal shrewdly with them.

He's a racist prick, but he seems to have a point. If the Israelites have a huge population in Egyptian territory and yet don't consider themselves Egyptian, there are big potential problems down the road. He fears they are already too strong to deal with them directly, so they use more clever methods.
pic source

The Egyptians made the Israelites work as slaves, and yet they still multiplied.

It doesn't really go into detail about how they made them slaves, on the surface it doesn't seem very likely, as they are a very strong group. I think we can focus on the verse that says the Egyptians acted shrewdly, though. They tricked them into harder and harder work somehow, and before they knew it they were slaves and they didn't have the chance to fight back.

Interesting point from Guzik
The nation could not grow this way in Canaan, because they was practically impossible to avoid intermarriage with the pagan and wicked inhabitants of Canaan. Egypt was so racist and had such an entrenched system of apartheid that Israel could grow there over several centuries without being assimilated.

The king then wanted to stop the Israelites from multiplying more, so he decided to have all of their male children killed. His first plan involved the midwives Shiphrah and Puah who work with the Israelite women. He told them to let any girls live but kill all of the boys when they are born.

Presumably they could do it before anyone else knew what was up, and everyone would think the baby was just stillborn. Well, this king is now showing himself to be a truly horrible person. Killing babies, what a monster.

Another interesting tidbit from Guzik, he's on fire today
We shouldn't expect that these two women were the only midwives for all the children of Israel. They were probably the "presidents" of the "association of midwives."
The midwives refused to do this because they feared God. They didn't go through with it, and when the king asked them about it they lied and said that the women gave birth before they got there and they didn't have time to kill the boys.

They are fucking heroes. This is the kind of stuff I would like to see more of in the bible. These two women were put in a really difficult position, someone in power over them asked them to do a horrible thing and they resisted. Awesome!

Another point from Guzik here
Many people assume that the Hebrew midwives lied to Pharaoh when they said this. However, this may not be the case. The midwives may have told the truth, - perhaps indeed the Hebrew women were heartier than the Egyptian women, yet the midwives did not explain all the reasons why the babies were spared.
I went back and read it again, I suppose he's right, they don't explicitly say the midwives lied, but it does imply it by saying they "did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them". I suppose they could have just "shown up late" to the Hebrews or something. It seems much more likely to me that it is a lie. Either way, they are still standing up to the king.

The king declares instead to cast every son of the Hebrews into the Nile.

This is actually a little bit confusing. It seemed that he was trying to be a bit stealthy with the midwives, but now he's just throwing children into the river? Perhaps he thinks he can get people to do this, where having them snap a baby's neck is a harder sell.

From Guzik
Seeing that his plan is not working, Pharaoh makes a far more radical command, that all male children should be killed - even Egyptian boys (Pharaoh commanded all his people).
Wait, what? I went back and looked at the verse.
Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, "Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live."
But on my kindle there is a footnote
Samaritan, Septuagint, Targum; Hebrew lacks to the Hebrews
So according to some sources the verse would instead read
Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, "Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live."
That's a big fucking difference.

For the verses of note post

--Bravery--

Exodus 1:17 The midwives ignored the kings orders and protected the children

"But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Bible Has Been Scientifically Tested

As I mentioned a few days ago, in a recent twitter conversation a Christian claimed that the bible has been "scientifically tested for authenticity". I asked for a source and I'm happy to say that she provided a couple. One of them was the In His Steps Ministries page on evidence. There are a number of pages there that seem worth looking at, but it's a bit much for one blog post. The page that seemed the most relevant to our conversation is the page on the validity of scripture.

They don't get off to the best of starts, it starts off by noting that many people wonder why there isn't more historical evidence and says
Here is something to consider. There is no need for more evidence because the Holy Bible itself is historical evidence.
Starting the page dedicated to the evidence that the Bible is accurate by claiming no evidence is needed is really not the way to put your best foot forward. We should do our best to not let this cloud our judgment too much though.
There are over 24,600 manuscripts of the New Testament and over 24,000 original manuscripts of portions of the New Testament.
pic source
I would need to see them substantiate this claim. I have heard many people cite the fact that there are no original manuscripts remaining, and this does include plenty of Christians, not just atheists. I guess it also is important what "portions of the New Testament" means. But even if this were true, even if we have a good number of original manuscripts, it doesn't mean the events within really happened.
Some will argue that you can't trust the Bible because it was written by those who believed in God or Jesus. They will say that the authors were bias, so they did not write accurate information. If you were to use this argument regarding autobiographies, biographies, and history books (this is what the Bible is like), you would like to remove all these books off the library selves.
Many biographies are written by people who loved the person they are writing about, but we do not question their validity. Yes, we may see some prejudices or favoritism in a biography, but we can overall trust most biographies, because if they were inaccurate there would be an uproar from others. So, why toss out portions of scripture that are biographical? Unless we have proof they are inaccurate, we need to give them the same trust we would a modern day biography. 
I agree with this 100%. We should give the bible the same trust we would give any other book that claims a man walked on water, turned water into wine, and caused a zombie uprising when he died. We trust things based on how reasonable the claim is that is being made. If a someone writes a biography about his business partner and talks about how he was a nice guy, I am probably going to believe it. If the guy has a reputation of being an asshole I would probably guess that he was always nice around the author, or that the author has no empathy for the "lower people" around them and it didn't register when "the peasants" were treated poorly. If that same biography says the dude can fly it loses all credibility unless there is some pretty convincing proof apart from what is in the book.
There is something that is unique about the Bible compared to any autobiography, biography, or history book - the Bible is the inspired, infallible Word of God. This means it was God breathed. The authors of the Bible wrote what God had them to write.
That's just another claim, I thought we were here to talk about evidence. Simply asserting that it is God breathed really doesn't do anything for me. This statement needs justification.
One of the ways to prove the Bible is accurate is to explore the concept of prophecy.
I'm not completely versed in prophecy from the Bible, but every time I've looked into it very deeply at all it all turns out to be very vague and Jesus is often shoehorned in.
So significant is Jesus in man's history that the Encyclopedia Britannica has 20,000 words in describing Jesus. His description took more space than was given to Aristotle, Cicero, Alexander, Julius Caesar, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed or Napoleon Bonaparte. Why would there be so much material on a man who was never born?
and
Jesus is recorded as a fact, as is His death, burial and missing body in the Reader's Digest Book of Facts, 1989.
Case closed, I guess we are done here! Seriously though, the Encyclopedia Britannica talks a lot about Jesus so he must have been real? People believe in him so he's a significant figure, whether he was real or not. That's why he's in there. And Reader's Digest? Are you kidding me?

So the only real evidence given here is that we have a lot of original copies of the New Testament. Even if that were true it doesn't substantiate the claim that Jesus performed those miracles. "Early copies exist" is a far cry from "the bible has been scientifically tested". If anyone out there thinks that I've missed the point, there is evidence I'm just looking in the wrong place, please let me know. I'd love to look into it, just please give me something with a little more teeth than this.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Genesis Overview

today's podcast

Given that I have recently decided to collect all of the important verses from the entirety of the Old Testament in one place, I decided to do something a little different with these overview posts. I'm going to very briefly describe the important parts in each chapter. I've also decided to collect highlights of the Christian commentary arguments here.

God's to do list: Genesis Edition

Chapter 1:

Day 1: God creates a formless earth and light
Day 2: God creates the sky
Day 3: God created dry land and plants
Day 4: God created stars, the sun, and the moon.
Day 5: God created sea creatures and birds
Day 6: God created land animals and humans, and gave humans everything.
  • The commentaries try desperately to explain away the obvious scientific inaccuracies in this chapter
Chapter 2:

God rests on day 7, then he recounts the creation of man and woman. He creates the garden of eden, along with the tree with the forbidden fruit. Also, apparently one verse here is the basis for marriage.

  • The existence of the forbidden fruit is justified by saying God wants us to have a choice.
  • God gave man woman because marriage civilizes men, sociopaths are always single.
  • Adam coming first proves men > women.
Chapter 3:

A serpent tricks Eve to eat the fruit and she shares it with Adam. They got knowledge of good and evil from the fruit and hid from God because they were naked. He punished them by giving women the pain of childbirth and making men work in the field. He then kicked them out of Eden.

  • Don't even talk to people who are "evil"
  • Being deceived is a sin
  • Christianity brought rights to women
Chapter 4:

Adam and Eve have 2 sons, Cain and Abel. Cain killed Abel and he then he ran away from God to the east where he found a wife somehow and had a bunch of kids. Adam and Eve had a replacement son.

Chapter 5:

Explains that people used to live a long time and goes through a bunch of pointless genealogies. Very boring, don't waste your time reading this one.
  • We can count the genealogies backward and see that the earth is around 10,000 years old. This doesn't match what science says because God created the universe with age built in.
  • People lived longer before the flood because the effects of the fall hadn't had time to build up in the gene pool yet.
Chapter 6 (part 1part 2)

God sees that humanity is evil and decides to kill everyone. God tells Noah to build an ark and put his family as well as 2 of every animal (and 7 of every clean animal) into it.
  • Angels/demons mated with humans which partly caused the widespread problems.
  • God being sad that man turned out that way doesn't mean he didn't know it would happen or that his creation had gotten away from him.
  • Everyone will die eventually, so it is God's prerogative to kill you when he sees fit. Therefore God killing everyone and everything wasn't overly harsh or cruel.
  • We haven't found the ark because of politics.
Chapter 7:

God follows through and kills everyone in a global flood.
  • Many cultures have a flood story because they are all descendants of Noah.
  • There is enough water if the earth was a perfect sphere.
Chapter 8:

Noah waits out the flood, when it is finally over he lets everyone out of the ark and immediately sacrifices some animals.
  • People are inherently evil.
Chapter 9:

God tells Noah that he and his descendants are allowed to eat any animal, just not blood. God says that eye for an eye is good, then he tells people he will never kill everyone on the planet again with a flood and the rainbow is the sign of this. Later, Ham sees drunken Noah naked and is punished severely along with all of his descendants.
  • Many details are added to make Ham seem like he deserves his fate. The items added include that he was insulting, looked on Noah with delight, and even that he sexually abused his father.
Chapter 10:

Worthless Genealogies

Chapter 11:

The tower of babel. People gather together instead of dispersing as God said and build a tower into the heavens. God says it is only the beginning and they will be able to accomplish anything they want now, so he makes everyone speak different languages to stop it.
  • Waterproof bricks prove they didn't believe God wouldn't flood the earth again
  • Building a tower to heaven is silly, they probably built a tower that looks into heaven
  • It's a blessing not a curse, God is putting a check on fallen man's evil
  • God in the flesh = Jesus
  • Man is no better after the flood than before
  • People spread out and change for their environment, he describes evolution
  • Language must be from God, unless it evolved
Chapter 12:

God tells Abram to go to a new place and he then promises the Canaanites land to his descendants. Later Abram goes to Egypt and tells the Pharaoh his wife is his sister. The Pharaoh, thinking she's single, takes her as his wife and gets punished by God for this act. So he gives her back and sends them on their way
  • God in human form must be Jesus
  • The Canaanites are demonized to explain why God is giving away their land
  • God is praised for creating famine in some place but not everywhere
  • Pharaoh is cast as evil even though he never did anything wrong here
Chapter 13:

Abram and Lot have too much livestock for the land they are occupying and get in each other's way. They decide to separate

Chapter 14:

Lot get's captured and Abram rescues him.

Chapter 15:

God promises Abram that he will have a son and countless descendants who will have control over land which currently belong to other people. But first they would have to be slaves for hundreds of years.

Chapter 16:

After Sarai and Abram have trouble getting pregnant, Sarai suggests that Abram get her servant Hagar pregnant. He does that, but then Sarai gets jealous and scares Hagar away. But an angel gets Hagar to come back, so I guess everything is cool.
  • An angel of the lord appeared to Abram, it must be Jesus!

God Changes Abram and Sarai's names to Abraham and Sarah. Then he promises that they would have a son, but says that Abraham must circumcise all of the men in the house for all time. Also he approves of slavery.
  • God talking to Abraham must be Jesus
  • Circumcising the slaves was doing them a solid

God visits Abraham and promises them again that him and Sarah will have a son. She overhears and laughs, but then lies about having laughed at God because she's afraid of him. Then God tells Abraham that he's going to potentially destroy Sodom and Gomorrah and Abraham asks if he will destroy the righteous with the wicked. 
  • Once again, Jesus is inserted here
  • God's apparent lack of knowledge is for Abraham's benefit

Two angels go down to Sodom to check things out, and every man in town other than Lot tries to rape them. Lot offers up his virgin daughters to the crowd instead, but they are not interested. Lot is allowed to get away and the city is destroyed. Then Lot's daughters get him drunk and have sex with him while he's blacked out and they both get pregnant.

Chapter 20:

Abraham uses the same scam as in chapter 12, he says Sarah is his sister, a king takes her as a wife, then God gets pissed at the king so he gives Sarah back to Abraham and gives him a bunch of money to make the problem go away.

Chapter 21:

Isaac is born, Sarah makes Abraham kick Hagar and Ishmael out of the house, but they do fine in the wilderness so it's cool. Then Abraham makes some treaty with Abimelech.
  • Isaac is a lot like Jesus

God tells Abraham to kill Isaac, then stops him right before he does it. Abraham is rewarded for being obedient and for fearing God.
  • When people listen to voices in their heads now they are deranged, but Abraham was not
  • Abraham thought God would resurrect Isaac after he killed him
  • Isaac is like Jesus
  • God wanted to see that Abraham loved him more than he loved Isaac

Sarah dies and Abraham acquired some land in a place where he was a foreigner to bury her.
  • Abraham says he's a foreigner because he belongs in heaven

Abraham asks his best servant to go get Isaac a bride from their homeland and not from Canaan, he complies.

Chapter 25:

After Sarah, Abraham remarried and had a bunch of kids. But he sent them away and spent virtually all of his resources of Isaac. Rebekah had trouble getting pregnant, but eventually had twins. They fought in the womb and God said they would fight forever. Esau was born first, but God said Jacob would be in charge. At some point Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a meal.
  • God works in mysterious ways

God makes the same promise to Isaac that he had made to Abraham a bunch of times and tells him to stay away from Egypt. Isaac complies and stays in Gerar. Isaac told everyone that Rebekah was his sister instead of his wife so they wouldn't kill him. Apparently he is as bad a judge of character as his father. Eventually Esau marries a Hittite woman, which is a huge problem for Isaac
  • no recognition that Isaac was wrong about people killing him over his wife's beauty
  • Defense of racist characters

Isaac wants to give a blessing to Esau, but Rebekah manipulates Jacob so he steals the blessing and then has to flee to her homeland so Esau won't kill him in retaliation.

Chapter 28:

Jacob gets blessed by his father and is told to head to Laban to live with his mother's sister and marry one of his cousins. One the way there he has a dream and God tells him he will inherit the land. Esau adds one of Ismael's daughters to his harem.

Chapter 29:

Jacob agrees to marry Rachel, but her father tricks him into marrying his other daughter Leah as well. When God sees that Rachel is loved but Leah isn't, he makes Rachel barren and gives Leah 4 sons.
  • God was teaching Jacob a lesson
Chapter 30:

Jacob has tons of kids with his wives and their servants as they fight over him. Then he and Laban negotiate the terms of him returning to the Canaanite lands. Jacob skirts these terms by manipulating the breeding of the livestock by controlling what they look at while breeding...seriously...that's in there.

Chapter 31:

Jacob decides to go back to the Canaanite lands that God has promised him. He sneaks away from Laban with his family in tow. Laban catches up to him and they agree to not fight in the future.

Chapter 32:

Jacob returns to the land of his father, and sends word to Esau hoping they can make up. It appears that Esau is still pissed. Jacob tries to appease him with gifts, then makes preparations to save his family even if he winds up dying. Also, he wrestles with God and wins.
  • When the bible says that Jacob wins, it means that God wins
  • God in the flesh must be Jesus
Chapter 33:

Jacob was afraid of meeting Esau, but it turned out Esau was just happy to see him

Chapter 34:

Jacob's daughter gets raped by a prince, so Jacob's sons tell his city that if they all get circumcised they can marry each other's women. When the men are recovering Jacob's sons kill all the men and steal all of their stuff including women and children.

Chapter 35:

Jacob leaves that area, and God keeps the other surrounding cities from attacking them as they leave. Also Jacob's wife Rachel and his father Isaac die.

Chapter 36:

We learn that Jacob and Esau combined have so much stuff that they can't live near each other.

Chapter 37:

Joseph is Jacob's favorite son. He is unfortunately completely unaware of how much his brothers hate him until his pisses them off to the point that they almost kill him. At the last minute they decide to sell him into slavery instead.
  • Guzik assumes that since this story and one about Jesus both use astronomical objects, they must be related
  • Guzik compares the trials of Joseph with modern day Christians
Chapter 38:

Judah had 3 sons, the oldest got married but God killed him before he had children. The second son was supposed to impregnate his wife and the kid would count as the older's, so the middle son didn't want to do it and God killed him as well. Judah was scared of losing his last son so he doomed her to being an eternal widow, but then she tricked him into impregnating her. She then had twins and there was some shenanigans about which was born first.
  • Being around and marrying Canaanites is the source of the problem
  • This message isn't about masturbation, although some say it is
  • It was god's plan that she trick Judah into impregnating her

Joseph is a slave in Egypt and gets put in charge of his master's house. The master's wife wants to sleep with him, and when she gets forceful he runs. She accuses him of attempted rape and he gets thrown in jail, then he gets put in charge of the jail.

Chapter 40:

Joseph has a few high ranking guys thrown in jail with him. He interprets their dreams and tells one he will be restored to his former position, and tells the other he will be killed. Both are correct predictions.

Chapter 41:

Joseph interprets a dream for Pharaoh and then becomes his right hand man. He is put in charge of taking extra grain from people during times of surplus and selling it back to them during a famine.
  • The holy spirit supposedly makes a showing

Due to the famine, Jacob sends all of his sons except for Benjamin to Egypt to get food. Joseph sees them and imprisons one (Simeon) and sends the rest home to bring back the last brother. He also sets them up to call them thieves later. Jacob refuses to send Benjamin back and abandons Simeon for dead.
  • God uses famine to accomplish his goals

The brothers return to Egypt with Benjamin. They are brought in to Joseph's house to eat.
  • Satan is blamed for Judah's previous poor actions

Joseph let's his brothers go, but puts their money back in their grain bags and puts his chalise in Benjamin's. Then he sends his guys to catch them stealing and brings them back. He insists that Benjamin stay with him as his slave, and Judah begs to take his place

Chapter 45:

Joseph finally tells his brothers who he is and sends for his family to live nearby and be taken care of. Pharaoh approves.

Chapter 46:

Joseph's family moves closer to Egypt and the Pharaoh approves. Also, genealogies.

Chapter 47:

The Pharaoh meets Joseph's family and once again, says they can settle in Goshen. Jacob blesses Pharaoh a few times. Then Joseph takes all of the starving people's resources in exchange for giving them their own food back and makes the slaves of the Pharaoh from now on.
  • Jacob saying his life was a pilgrimage means he knew about heaven

Jacob gives his Joseph's sons a blessing, but gives the younger one a better blessing. Also, we see the narrator here alternate between Jacob and Israel. What's up with that?

Genesis 49:

We get a summary of Jacob's sons, what they have done and what they will do. They are pretty much all terrible. Also Jacob dies.

Genesis 50:

Jacob is buried, Josephs brothers lie to him saying their father wanted him to forgive them, he says God used their evil for good ends. Then Joseph dies.
  • They totally ignore the lie the brothers told.
  • Also, God will use bad things in your life for eventual good.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

You Are Being Dishonest

photo credit

I was recently browsing twitter and stumbled across a conversation between an atheist and a Christian. At some point the Christian made the claim that Bible had been scientifically tested for accuracy. I jumped into the conversation (yeah twitter) and asked her for a reference. The atheist then replied to me and said that the Christian of course can't point me toward anything, she's just being dishonest and making stuff up. While I agree that her claim about the bible is wrong, I think he's jumping the gun by assuming that she has just made it up.

I can see a couple of possibilities, one is that the atheist is right and she has just made this up. While this is possible I doubt it is really what is going on. My guess is that she either heard it in church or read it in a book and only has a vague memory of it. The other thing is, what does "scientifically test for accuracy" mean? It sounds like she was trying to say that the bible is 100% true and that has been tested. While this is clearly false, perhaps there are aspects that have been looked into that have been shown to be accurate. What are these things specifically? If that is the case, simply asking these questions could lead to her taking a second look at the source and realize she is overplaying her hand.

In my opinion, the whole purpose of these types of conversations is to change minds. We want to show people that they have made a mistake in logic or that they have relied on incorrect information or whatever. Asserting that they are lying will just make them disengage, it will make them think you are an asshole and stop listening to anything you have to say. I think it is much better to ask them to expand on their claim, give sources or explain themselves further. Don't get me wrong, I'm not delusional, I know this has a pretty low chance of getting them to change their mind as well, but at least you are getting them to think and justify their claims. It could be a small piece of the puzzle for her or possibly for someone else watching for a change of opinion down the line. Calling her a liar just cuts things short.

[Note: after I wrote this but before it went live she tweeted back and provided a source. I haven't had the chance to take a look yet, but I'm hoping to look at it soon. Perhaps that will be what I write about for Thursday]

Monday, June 17, 2013

No More InteseDebate

About a month ago I decided to install intense debate onto my blog. It had a few nice tools, and I like the commentluv feature as it seems like it might encourage some people to post, it also has a good spam filter which is incredibly important. Well, the last few days I've been having issues, some people seem to be getting the intense debate comment form and some are getting the standard blogger form, and only one ore the other will show. So I figured "Fuck it!", I uninstalled intensedebate, but unfortunately it means any comments put down in that time are gone. Bummer. I can still see them in my moderator panel, if I can find a way to get them over I will, but they might just be gone.

Genesis 50: The Chosen People are Liars

Today's podcast

Jacob's Death and Burial [cont.] (v. 1-14)

Joseph asked permission to follow through with his father's instructions and bury him where he requested. The Pharaoh not only said it is okay, but he sent many people along and he was honored in his death. Even the Canaanites took notice.

He was a big deal and was honored in death. Seems pretty reasonable.

God's Good Purposes (v. 15-21)

With their father dead, Joseph's brothers were afraid he would take revenge on them for what they did to him. They sent him a letter, supposedly from their father, saying he should forgive his brothers.

Now they are lying to their brother. This is certainly small compared to stuff they've done in the past but these guys seem incredibly self-centered all around.

This is all Guzik has to say about it
This story is probably concocted. They didn’t feel they had the moral right to ask Joseph for mercy, since they sinned against him so greatly. So they put the request for mercy in the mouth of their honored and dead father.
That's nice, but what about the fact that they are liars? You don't feel that's an important detail?

Wow, Matthew Henry's take on this is completely baffling to me. He doesn't even address the fact that they are lying, he seems to think they are doing a good thing.
We have here the settling of a good correspondence between Joseph and his brethren, now that their father was dead. Joseph was at court, in the royal city; his brethren were in Goshen, remote in the country; yet the keeping up of a good understanding, and a good affection, between them, would be both his honour and their interest. Note, When Providence has removed the parents by death, the best methods ought to be taken, not only for the preventing of quarrels among the children (which often happen about the dividing of the estate), but for the preserving of acquaintance and love, that unity may continue even when that centre of unity is taken away.
Wow, he goes on for another (much longer) paragraph about this, but he never acknowledges the lie.

Gill at least acknowledges that some people see this as a lie. He never really seems to take a side on it one way or another, and therefore doesn't have to defend what they did. A little evasive but at least he acknowledged it.

Joseph says it's fine, even though they intended evil, God used it to make sure many people didn't starve.

It's always good to turn a negative into a positive, but I really hate the precedence this sets. No matter what bad thing happens, people can try to spin it as if God is using it for good. And as long as we are talking about an all-powerful God, using this as a method to make sure people survive the famine is pretty silly.


Loud as a Whisper
From Guzik
As said before, if Joseph’s brothers never sell him to the Midianites, then Joseph never goes to Egypt. If Joseph never goes to Egypt, he never is sold to Potiphar. If he is never sold to Potiphar, Potiphar’s wife never falsely accuses him of rape. If Potiphar’s wife never falsely accuses him of rape, then he is never put in prison. If he is never put in prison, he never meets the baker and butler of Pharaoh. If he never meets the baker and butler of Pharaoh, he never interprets their dreams. If he never interprets their dreams, he never gets to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. If he never gets to interpret Pharaoh’s dream, he never is made prime minister. If he is never made prime minister, he never wisely administrates for the severe famine coming upon the region. If he never wisely administrates for the severe famine coming upon the region, then his family back in Canaan perishes from the famine. If his family back in Canaan perishes from the famine, then the Messiah can’t come forth from a dead family. If the Messiah can’t come forth, then Jesus never came. If Jesus never came, then you are dead in your sins and without hope in this world. We are grateful for God’s great and wise plan.
He talks as if that is the only way this stuff could have happened. Remember, God is supposed to be all powerful, he couldn't swing another way to make this work? It has to be this convoluted and fragile of a plan?

The Death of Joseph (v. 22-26)

Before Joseph died he told his brothers that God would come visit them and bring them out of Egypt and into the land god promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He was buried in Egypt.

for the verses of note post

--Lies--

Genesis 50:15-16 Joseph's brothers (the founders of the 12 tribes of Israel) are liars

"It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him." So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, "Your father gave this command before he died"

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Highlights Around the Web

I was originally asking for permission from people to put these up, but it's a pain in the ass, and I figure anything you say on a blog or podcast is public and should be fair game for this kind of thing (especially since I'm finding things I like, portraying them in a positive light, and putting a link back to the source). If you want me to take something of you down please just let me know.


This was from the Stain Glass Masquerade post on Sheldon's blog. It was about how as a fundamentalist you always have to be very careful about what impression you give off all the time. The post really spoke to me, I never realized how exhausting that whole process was until I left the church and didn't have to do it anymore.


This is from a post about self-esteem on the blog Godless in Dixie. The basic point was that low self-esteem helps keep the congregation in line. This post also spoke to me quite loudly.


This is from a post on Atheism and the City. I've had vague thoughts along these lines in the past, but The Thinker put it better than I ever have.


I stumbled across these guys on youtube thanks to the Lady Atheist. They are a bit like the atheist experience, taking calls and such. Good stuff. Here they were discussing when God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac and asked an obvious question that Christians seem to rarely ask.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Touch of Politics

photo credit: wikipedia
I talked last year (damn, it's been a year?) about wanting to delve into politics a little bit. I found the website popvox when the whole sopa/pipa thing was happening. You can look at bills, say you oppose/approve and send write a personalized reason why. It will automatically send a letter to your member of congress on your behalf, and when it's election time you can look back at their voting record and see how much they lined up with you. Pretty cool.

I had originally planned on looking at what was going to happen in congress each week and weigh in on whatever was coming, however, I had trouble finding a reliable list of what was coming up, and I got busy and distracted and so forth. But I think it is important to let our congressmen know that we are watching, so I want to try to get back to it in some capacity.

It also turns out they email you if there is an amendment (or an important amendment perhaps?) to a bill, that's what brought my attention back to this stuff. I got an email about a bill that I weighed in on a while ago, it's a bill that is trying to outlaw abortion after 20 weeks. I highly recommend that you go over there and say you oppose it. If possible write a personalized message, I imagine the representatives will be more likely to consider something that comes with an explanation.

I guess I'll just scan through the bills on the front page and see what catches my eye

H.R. 1892: Unlocking Technology Act of 2013
This one seems pretty cut and dry. It should be legal to unlock our damn phones

H.R. 2247: The Collectible Firearms Protection Act
This is interesting. A bill to exempt collectible guns from import without having to deal with normal gun laws. I guess it ultimately depends on what counts as a "collectible", but on the surface this seems fine. Your generally not going to be committing a crime with some antique collectible gun. Unless I'm missing something this seems okay. There's no organizations opposing or supporting. I wonder what that means.

S. 744: The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill
This one is much more difficult. It's long, and there seems to be a lot to it. I haven't had a chance to properly look into it yet, but I figured I'd bring it up anyway. Perhaps I'll have a chance to look into this one more in depth and bring it up again next week.
Immigration is a difficult topic, I like the idea of a path to citizenship, especially for people who were brought into the country illegally as children. But I don't like the idea of mass amnesty, it's just bad policy. I definitely need to look into this one a bit more.



Well, that's all for today. I'm not sure exactly what I want this to be, I like the idea of doing something along these lines each week, we'll just have to see if this develops into something and what form it winds up taking.


[edit] when I abandoned intense debate, all of the comments went away. I'm can see them but getting them back on the blog is proving to be a challenge. This is one idea, I'm not sure if it's worth it, but I will try. Unfortunately, they are also backward, read bottom to top


Friday, June 14, 2013

Genesis 49: Nice Chosen People You Got There

Today's podcast

Jacob Blesses His Sons (v. 1-27)

Jacob gathers his sons so he can tell them what is going to happen to them.

The section title says he blesses them, but in the actual text he says he's giving them a prophecy. And it certainly seems more prophetic then blessing to me. Strange.

v2 "Assemble and listen, O sons of Jacob, listen to Israel your father."

We have the same strange name thing here. He calls himself Jacob and Israel within a few words. I just don't get it.

From Guzik's commentary (note: all commentary today will be from Guzik)
At the very beginning of the blessing, Jacob realized he was both Jacob and Israel, and his sons are sons of each. This was a place of spiritual maturity, realizing both what God made him (Israel) and what he had to battle against (Jacob)
I guess that explanation makes some bit of sense, I certainly don't know what else this could be. Still, seems weird as hell to me.

Reuben: Preeminent in dignity and power, unstable as water. He is the firstborn but not preeminent because he defiled his father's bed.

He has a ton of power but he's unstable? Awesome. Also, what does it mean that he defiled his father's bed?
Reuben’s immorality with his father’s concubine Bilhah (the mother of his brothers Dan and Naphtali) is recorded in Genesis 35:22.
Whoa, I don't remember that at all. I apparently didn't notice it when I read that chapter, although I don't really fault myself too much. I went back to the text, and this is just stuck in there in the middle of some other boring stuff. Nothing is made of it at the time.

Simeon and Levi: They are very violent. They have killed men in anger and hamstrung oxen willfully. Their anger is fierce and their wrath is cruel, they shall be separated and scattered in Israel.

Holy crap! Great job picking the chosen people God.
The second-born son Simeon and the third-born son Levi received the same “blessing” for the same evil deed. They were instruments of cruelty when they wiped out all the men of Shechem in retaliation for the rape of their sister Dinah (Genesis 34:25-29)
Ahh yes, that little incident
The sins of our past can come back and haunt us. Even when forgiven, they may carry consequences we must face for a lifetime.
I would hope so, if that sin includes slaughtering and looting an entire city.
The real problem with Simeon and Levi was their anger (in their anger they slew a man). Their anger was sin because it was rooted in self-will
No, I'm sorry but they didn't kill a man, they killed all of the men in a city, took the women and children and looted the place.

Judah: Your brothers shall praise you because your hand will be on the neck of your enemies. He's like a lion. The scepter shall not depart from him, obedient people will come to him.

So he'll kill his enemies and wind up in power. Great.
Judah wasn’t a completely exemplary character. He suggested a profit motive in getting rid of Joseph (Genesis 37:26). He did not deal faithfully with his daughter-in-law Tamar (Genesis 38:26), and he had sex with her as a prostitute (Genesis 38:18). But he did shine when he interceded and offered himself as a substitute for Joseph (Genesis 44:18-34). Overall, this blessing is an example of the riches of God’s grace.
So he did some really bad stuff but also some good stuff. I guess that's pretty much the pinnacle here.

Zebulun: He will found a port city bordering Sidon

That's pretty good. Go Zebulun!
The tribe of Zebulun was noted for its faithfulness to David, supplying the largest number of soldiers to David’s army of any single tribe: of Zebulun there were fifty thousand who went out to battle, expert in war with all weapons of war, stouthearted men who could keep ranks (1 Chronicles 12:33).
Apparently being a haven for ships means that he can move men around for the wars that will come up. Not so much a port city but a Navy. Awesome.

Issachar: He was strong but lazy and became a slave

I am not sure how well I understood this one, I'm going to just copy the text here, do you think my summary is accurate?
v14-15: Issachar is a strong donkey, crouching between the sheepfolds. He saw that a resting place was good, and that the land was pleasant, so he bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant at forced labor. 
“The meaning seems to be that Issachar was strong, but docile and lazy. He would enjoy the good land assigned him but would not strive for it. Therefore, eventually he would be pressed into servitude and the mere bearing of burdens for his masters.” (Leupold)
Looks like I got this one right. Go me!

Dan: He shall be a serpent who bites the horse's heels so the rider falls backward

what?
But Dan was a troublesome tribe. They introduced idolatry into Israel (Judges 18:30). Jeroboam set up one of his idolatrous golden calves in Dan (1 Kings 12:26-30) and later Dan became a center of idol worship in Israel (Amos 8:14). 
Some think the serpent by the way refers to the idea that the Antichrist comes from the tribe of Dan (based on Daniel 11:37 and Jeremiah 8:16).
So he was trouble, good enough for me I guess.

Gad: He will be raided, but he will raid at their heels.

So is he raiding them back?
The tribe of Gad supplied many fine troops for David (1 Chronicles 12:14)
More fighting. That seems to be all that is important to these people

Asher: will produce rich food and royal delicacies

That sounds good
In Deuteronomy 33:24, Moses again took up this prophecy regarding Asher: Asher is most blessed of sons; let him be favored by his brothers, and let him dip his foot in oil.
This one I thought seemed pretty clear, but I find the commentary completely baffling.

Naphtali: He is a doe let loose that bears beautiful fawns. There's a footnote that this could also be translated to mean "he gives beautiful words" or "he bears fawns of the fold"

So he either has beautiful offspring or creates good art?
Naphtali’s land was in a key portion near the Sea of Galilee, the region where Jesus did much of His teaching and ministry. It is fittingly said of him that he gives goodly words.
Joseph: He'll be attacked but will not waver, he will stand strong and be blessed by God

Well, I guess there was a little bit of blessing here, although Jacob didn't exactly bless Joseph, he just said God would in the future.

Benjamin: He is a ravenous wolf, devouring the prey and dividing the spoils

At least he shares. 

These guys seem pretty violent on the whole, they are the founders of the twelve tribes of Israel? I've asked this before, but why are these guys God's chosen people?

Jacob's Death and Burial (v. 28-33)

He told his sons he wanted to be buried next to where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Rebekah were buried. Then he died.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Who Benefits from Your Obedience?

I was browsing twitter yesterday and the following tweet really caught my eye
I know obedience is greatly praised in Christian circles, but something about the way this was stated really made me step back and take notice. In "the kingdom of God", your greatness is measured with obedience. So more obedience translates directly to more greatness. If obedience is the measurement of greatness, nothing else matters. More obedience means more greatness, nothing else plays into it.

I'm sure the Christians would say that obedience would entail doing great things and therefore this makes perfect sense. But even looking from that perspective, the cause and effect is wrong. You are great because you are obedient, and you do great things because you are obedient, but you are not great because you do great things. And of course this only works if you are only ever ordered to do great things. If you are ever ordered to do things that aren't so great, this falls apart.

This got me thinking about what else Christians are saying about obedience so I did a search for it on twitter. This was the first one that caught my attention

Apparently maturity is also measured by obedience. If you are more obedient you are more spiritually mature. I find this funny because I would typically argue the opposite, obedience is an important attribute when you are immature, but the more experience you have the less obedience becomes important. A child needs to obey their parents, there is a lot going on in the world and they can't process everything and avoid dangers, as they get older and more mature, they can watch out for themselves and obedience is less of an issue, in fact at some point pure obedience becomes a detriment, you need to become your own person and separate from your parents. Another example, when it is your first day at a new job you need to follow instructions until you learn the ropes. But obedience isn't the pinnacle, at some point you should be making decisions and giving other people instructions. The idea that obedience = maturity is completely backwards, it doesn't work in any other place in life. What really struck me about this tweet is it was retweeted 241 times. Apparently it really resonated with people.

I have one more tweet I want to share from this quick little search I did
This is really the crux of it. Perhaps you will understand later, whatever, just obey. You don't need to know what is going on, just do what "God" wants you to do. I saw this tweet right when it was posted, but it was retweeted while I was writing, again, this message resonates. It's more faith isn't it? Don't worry about what's going on, you don't need to understand things, just have faith and obey.
So think about who really benefits from blind obedience. It's whoever is giving the instructions, whoever it is that you are obeying. Oh I know, Jesus talks to you directly, where did you get that idea? What kind of things are you supposed to do? Go to church, tithe, spread the word of God, generally support the church? Who benefits? If you still want to do those things, that's fine. If you like going to church, go ahead, if you want to tithe because you want to support an organization that you feel that you get something out of, more power to you. But don't do it because they tell you to do it. Blind obedience is shit, if there is a good reason they will just tell you that reason, if they want you to obey without good reason they are probably hiding something

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Genesis 48: The Younger Brother Gets the Greater Blessing

Today's Episode

Jacob Blesses Ephraim and Manasseh (v. 1-22)

Jacob was ill so Joseph brought his two sons to see him. Jacob was very happy as he never thought he would see his son Joseph again, and how he even gets to meet 2 grandchildren that he didn't know existed.

This is a nice scene, it would truly be a great thing to find out your son (who you thought was dead) had children of his own.

Jacob blesses his grandchildren, but he gives the better blessing to the younger one. Joseph protests as that should go to the firstborn, but Jacob insists that the younger will be greater than the older. He also says that he is giving some land to Joseph instead of to his brothers.

My memory is spotty on this, but if wikipedia is to be believed, Joseph is almost the last son. It is pretty silly of Joseph to complain so much that the younger son is going to get special treatment when he got a ton of special treatment. Perhaps that is the whole point here.

Jacob vs Israel
I loved this movie 15 years ago

This whole thing with Jacob's name being changed has been bothering me for a while. God changed his name from Jacob to Israel in chapter 32, then again in chapter 35. In chapter 46 I pointed out that it was strange that the narrator called him Israel but God called him Jacob. And now in this chapter this narrator flops back and forth within one verse. v2
And it was told to Jacob, "Your son Joseph has come to you." Then Israel summoned his strength and sat up in bed.
I honestly don't know what to make of this, but it is certainly weird. Perhaps it is as simple as poor translating. One thought I had was that it is a merging of two different stories. Maybe there were stories about Israel and other stories about Jacob which had similar components and they eventually got melded together into one story. Perhaps they were trying to appeal to two different groups of people so they couldn't simply transfer everything to one name or the other. Obviously these are just guesses, but something has got to be up here.
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