Friday, January 11, 2013

Genesis 23-50, Exodus 1-6

Genesis 24:57-58
So they said, "We will call the young woman and ask her personally." Then they called Rebekah and said to her, "Will you go with this man?" And she said, "I will go."

A lot has (rightly) been said about the negative aspects of the patriarchy in the Bible, particularly when we try to apply it to our modern American lives. And yeah, nine hundred and ninety nine times out of a thousand, women got the fuzzy end of the lollipop, and then some man took it away and said, "You can have this when you're done making my food and delivering my heir." But then you get a moment like this, where a girl's family actually asked their daughter if she was willing to marry Isaac. Granted, she still hadn't actually met Isaac, just his servant (who came bearing gifts of jewelry and such), but they still asked her what she wanted to do and respected her choice.

Genesis 50:20
"But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive."

This is one of those oft-misquoted passages of Scripture, but i think it's one where the misquote actually adds depth of meaning. What people tend to say is, "What men/people/we intended for evil, God intended for good," as an example of how God's will is supreme and our best efforts at fucking it all up can only go so far. At the end of the day, God's will will be done.

What's weird, though, is the context. This is Joseph speaking to his brothers, who sold him into slavery and told their father he was dead. Then, after his boss' cougar wife tried to jump his bones and accused him of rape, he went to prison. Then while he was in prison, he was interpreting people's dreams and asking them to petition to Pharaoh for his release, and then people were forgetting about him. Then he was finally let out of prison and became an adviser to the Pharaoh, and then the country went into a famine and he was responsible for feeding everyone. Then his brothers showed up to buy food and didn't recognize him, so he was able to mess with their heads for a while and con them into bringing his little brother for a visit. Then he finally revealed his identity and said the little gem quoted above. Because of what they did to him, he was able to save them all from dying of starvation, plus he also saved the entire nation of Egypt from the same fate.

Fast-forward a few generations. All of his descendants are slaves in Egypt, and it takes ten plagues and a shitload of miracles and threats and deception and finagling and debate and death (including deaths of children and animals) to get them all out, and then they wander around the desert for forty years, whining about how much better they had it when they were slaves, and then more people die, and then there's more miracles and idolatry and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of laws, and more death and wandering, and then some slaughtering of enemies and then the Promised Land.

Because of what Joseph's brothers did to him, he was able to save all of their lives. But because of his position in Egypt, the same one that allowed him to save the lives of so many, the whole family settled down in Egypt and eventually became slaves and had all kinds of death and adventures before they could get back home.

So, yeah. Whatever your flaws, whatever your failures, whatever your mistakes, whatever your outright rebellions, God will find a way to bring good from it. But it's not like everything will be sunny all the time always.

Yeah. I don't have a positive note to end on.

No comments:

Post a Comment