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and researching scriptures that were quoted in church). I am now attempting to read the bible from cover to cover, in that order. As I read, I’m taking some notes and I figured I’d share them with you. Here is Genesis: Genesis is basically the story that takes us from Adam to Joseph. Most of the stories are of the people in this line but there are some stories of people that don’t fall into this line that appear to be ‘lessons’. One such story is about Cain and Abel (first sons of Adam). There are some odd things about this story. Cain is the first child born to the first two people on earth, and Abel is the second. Yet, after Cain kills Abel (because he was jealous that God liked Abel’s offerings of fat rather than Cain’s fruits) and suffers God’s punishment (that the ground will no longer yield crops for him), he worries about becoming a restless wanderer where whoever finds him will kill him. This is all in Genesis 4 between verses 9 and 17. He eventually marries someone who I can only assume did not come from Adam and Eve (and therefore God) and produces offspring. Interesting lesson I learned: There were people on earth that did not come from Adam and Eve. Of course there is the original sin story where God says that eating from the tree of knowledge will cause them to 'certainly die'. A talking snake tells Eve that's BS and she convinces Adam to eat it. They eat it, they don't die, but God finds out and curses Eve with labor pains and Adam would have to farm for his own food now. Lesson: Things don't always happen the way God says... Adam and Eve have another child (God blessed them with one in place of Abel). This was Seth. From Seth the line continues to Noah (no good explanation of where the wives come from is given). Noah is then born in the 1056th year of the earth. This is the line that created him: Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, and Noah. The average lifespan of this lot is 857.5 years each. Yes, you read right. Somehow, people living 6000 years ago managed to live, on average, around 900 years. Around this time, God said “my spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”. Of the 13 descendants from Noah to Joseph, only Joseph lived under 120 years. The average lifespan was 278 years. God seems very erratic in these early days and seems far from all knowing (asking Cain where Abel was after he killed him, for one example). Lesson reaffirmed: God isn't all knowing and doesn't do what he says. Adam lived 930 years and nearly lived to see Noah. By this time, the world was wicked and Noah was the only blameless person of his time. God gave him very specific instructions on how to build an ark and he did. The date of the flood was 2/17/1656 (1656 years from creation). Water flooded the earth for 150 days. On 7/17, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. Sometime in October, the tops of mountains became visible. After about a year, the water was dried up and Noah let them all out of the ark. To celebrate, Noah killed some of the ‘clean’ animals for God, which filled God’s heart and he then promised to never again kill all creatures or curse the ground because of humans. Apparently, getting drunk is okay in the eyes of the Lord because in one odd story, Noah gets drunk, naked, and passes out. His son Ham points this out to his other two brothers who then cover their father (important note: without seeing his nakedness because they went in the room backwards to not see him). When Noah wakes up, he curses Ham’s offspring to be the lowest of slaves to the older brother Shem. The line continues through Shem, Arphaxad, Shelah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Hahor, Terah, to Abram (later renamed Abraham).
Abram becomes a favorite of God and is told repeatedly (as are Isaac and later Jacob) that his offspring will cover the earth and become a great nation. A weird thing that these guys do when in foreign lands is call their wives, their sister in fear of being killed (I guess having an attractive wife made you a target in that day and age). Repeatedly, others then tried to then take their ‘sisters’ (wives) and were then cursed by God which caused confusion and anger as the cursed would ask “why didn’t you tell us she was your wife!?!?!?” An interesting story out of left field is the tower of babel where God gets pissed that because people can work together and build things (a large tower), he says “if as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” Yes… that’s our God… Anyone care to guess how they would write about the twin towers 1,000 years from now? Who’s this ‘us’ God is referring to anyway? God apparently has some cohorts he does these things with, maybe I’ll get to that in later books. Anyway, God chooses Abram to become his new favorite. There is also a theme of brothers not getting along, or at the very least, the people from their clans not getting along. Several splits occur and groups separate for odd reasons. Dreams also appear to be a popular way for God to communicate with people. People that had dreams in those days would report them, and they would be accepted as words from God. There is this whole ugly business with Abram’s wife Sarai (later renamed by God to be Sarah)… since she has not been able to have kids (even though God repeatedly promised Abram he’d have offspring as numerous as stars and sand) she decided to have Abram impregnate her slave Hagar. He does like a good man and has a son, Ishmael. Abram makes a deal with God to grant Ishmael a great nation while God is promising he’d have another son with Sarah (Isaac). Part of this ‘deal’ is that Abram promises that everyone in his line will be circumcised. God apparently decided that the foreskin was a mistake and wanted us to remove it as a sign of our covenant to him. This was the 2047th year from creation and Abraham’s 99th year. So this is the birth of circumcision. There is a hilarious bargaining between God and Abraham in Genesis 18:23-32. Abraham is pleading for God NOT to destroy the city of Sodom if 50 people are found to be righteous in there. God says… ok. And Abraham continues questioning “ok, well, what if there are 45 righteous ones?”, “how about 40?” and so on down to 10 people. Lesson: God is sometimes wrong and can be convinced of that through logic of a human. To illustrate the evil of Sodom and the goodness of Lot (nephew of Abraham and living in Sodom), a story is told about two angels who arrive in Sodom one night. Lot takes them in and provides shelter to them but the men in the city could smell untainted bunghole and wanted it bad. They came a knocking at Lot’s house and I quote “where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them”. Lot, being a good righteous one, does what any of us would do in his place… tries to offer his two virgin daughters in place of the angels to the wicked hoard gathered. This is a story that was retold to me in church several years ago and it floored me now as much as it did then. The angels were nice enough to immediately strike the evildoers with blindness so they couldn’t find the door (or, I assume, their bungholes). But they warned Lot to gather his people and leave because they were going to destroy the city in the morning. I know what you’re thinking
here… if they are so powerful that they can inflict blindness on a hoard of horny men, why couldn’t they selectively destroy only the evil people in the city and leave Lots family alone? Lot was apparently the righteous ‘one’ that Abraham wanted the Lord to save out of the city of Sodom and God was good with his word and saved him and his immediate family. Oh yeah, those two virgin daughters… he probably should have let the hoard have them. In the next chapter they get him drunk and get him to impregnate them. Abraham finally has his son Isaac with Sarah (at the age of 100) and God gives him his famous ‘test’ where he tells him to gather his son and some ‘fixins’ to make an offering to him (kill and burn the son). Abraham, being a good servant, does as he’s told but as he’s holding the knife above Isaac about to bring it down on him, God says “no! wait!” and stops him. So apparently, God did not know if Abraham was going to obey him or not, he needed this little test. More evidence of God being less than all knowing. Some very charming stories are told about Isaac meeting his wife but I fail to see their importance so I won’t summarize it here. Isaac’s sons were Jacob (later Israel) and Esau. They were twins but had a battle for who came first in the womb and although Jacob got his hand out first, Esau pulled him back and made it out first. Favoritism was popular back then, so Isaac’s favorite was Esau (the hunter) and his wife (Rebekah) liked Jacob best. Jacob makes a trade with Esau for his birthright (in exchange for some stew… Esau was hungry). When Isaac was old, blind and dying, he wanted to pass on a blessing to Esau. Rebekah heard this and told Jacob how he could trick Isaac into giving HIM the blessing. Isaac was blind so the trick went off well and Jacob got the blessing. Esau was obviously mad but now that Jacob had the blessing, he became God’s new favorite and his line is followed in the rest of the stories. Moral: God can be tricked into blessing and favoring you. Jacob takes off and gets married to a couple of women who have tons of kids (and they sometimes get him to sleep with their servants so he has even more). He really wanted one wife, Rachel, and made a deal with her father to work for him for 7 years to marry her. The father kept moving the carrot and got Jacob to eventually work for him for 20 years to pay him back. His wives seemed pretty jealous of each other but Rachel was the one that finally gave birth to Joseph and the bible follows him. There is a heartwarming tale about a daughter of Jacob’s being raped by guy in another tribe. Jacob’s sons agree to let the rapist marry their sister if all the males in the offending tribe are circumcised. Once that happens, and while they’re still recovering (from the circumcisions), Jacob’s clan attacks and kills all the males and takes all the women and children as slaves. This apparently was to teach the lesson to avenge the wrong done to your sister. In another odd story, it becomes clear (38:7) that the Lord puts to death those who are wicked (Er). It also becomes clear that ‘pulling out’ so as not to impregnate your late brothers wife is wicked and deserving of being put to death by the Lord (38:10). Finally, Joseph pisses off his brothers by having dreams that they will bow down to him. So they sell him into slavery and tell their dad (Jacob) that a wild animal must have killed him. One of his owners got him imprisoned when his wife falsely accused Joseph of trying to sleep with her (her feelings were hurt when Joseph refused to sleep with her so she told a lie). Joseph
eventually gets out of prison due to his skill at interpreting dreams and becomes a powerful assistant to the Pharaoh of Egypt. One dream the Pharaoh had, was interpreted to mean that Egypt was about to have 7 years of great abundance to be followed by 7 years of famine. Joseph is put in charge of collecting food during the next 7 years that would last throughout the famine in the following 7. He does this superbly. Eventually, his brothers come to him begging for food handouts (during the famine). Not recognizing him, he makes a deal with them to return with their youngest brother. He eventually reveals who he is and he meets back up with his father (Jacob) and lives happily ever after. Oh, and Jacob dies and is buried in some special place he had picked out. Everyone now apparently lives in Egypt which brings us to the next chapter. Onto Exodus…
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