Rejoice, oh chosen of God
because It promised to love us always.
It made a deal with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
It led them into Egypt’s blaze
and, through Moses, back out again!
Upon the Egyptians It smote
plague upon plague
until the Nile itself did bloat
with carcasses and cadavers.
It permitted the Israelites to take
all the riches found in Pharaoh’s land.
Fed them with manna and from the rock their thirst did slake.
Listen to the story of our people.
We are mighty and not feeble.
God chose us to be Its nation.
Jacob’s sons were Its foundation.
It led us out of Egypt.
Wouldn’t let Pharaoh reach us.
Fed us manna in the desert
and water from the rocks spurted out.
But our people sinned and angered God.
Learned what it was like to feel Its rod.
Plagues and famines, floods and danger.
Wars, rape, murder and exile.
Joshua reminded the Hebrews of their history, that their ancestor Abraham had been chosen by God to abandon his ancestral gods to worship God and that God had promised him and his descendants Isaac and Jacob the Promised Land. And also the whole Egypt adventure, and the wandering through the desert, and the recent wars of empire and genocide. And because of all that, everyone needed to swear to always be true to God and to follow Its rules.
So everyone swore to always be faithful to God.
Then Joshua had new copies of all the rules made and a large stone set up as a monument to this most recent oath, near Shechem. Continue reading “Joshua 24: Joshua Dies”
This time Balaam chanted,
I am Balaam, son of Beor,
of God almighty, who foresaw
the end of this debacle.
Hebrews, your camp is amazing;
Colorful tents stretch far.
You are the mightiest people,
You are God’s shining star. Continue reading “Numbers 24: The Exciting Conclusion”
So Balaam said to Balak, build seven altars and sacrifice seven bulls and seven rams, and I’ll climb that mountain over there and talk to God. God told Balaam to go back and recite the following poem:
From Aram Balak has brought me
To curse the Hebrew tribes
But how can I curse what God loves?
Such a thing just doesn’t jibe.
The Hebrews are a mighty people
They spread out far beneath
I cannot curse such greatness, no
Lest God should gnash Its teeth. Continue reading “Numbers 23: The Further Adventures of Balaam”
A short time later, Joseph was told his father was on his death bed, so he took his two sons to be blessed. Jacob blessed them and then symbolically adopted them as his own sons. Joseph got a little irritated with is father, however, because Jacob blessed the second born more than the firstborn (which, if you haven’t noticed, is a real trend in the Bible). Jacob told Joseph that he was leaving Joseph a particular mountain slope rather than his brothers. This particular legacy seems a bit moot, since they were all living in Egypt and there was no centralized government or keeper of deeds under which to support a title claim, but whatever.
Next day, Joseph took the five brothers he deemed most polite and polished before Pharaoh, and they genuflected and explained how the famine had destroyed all the pastureland in Canaan, and begged Pharaoh to let them stay until things got better. Pharaoh gave them a hearty welcome and told them Joseph’s family was always welcome. He instructed Joseph to settle them in Goshen and to hire those who needed work to tend Pharaoh’s ever-growing herds of livestock. Then Joseph brought his father before Pharaoh. Pharaoh was like, Ra be praised, just how old are you? And Jacob answered that he was 130 years young and then blessed Pharaoh.
So Joseph settled everyone comfortably in Goshen and made sure everyone was well-provided for and employed. Continue reading “Genesis 47”
So the whole gang–Jacob, his 11 sons, their wives and kids (around 66 people), plus everyone’s slaves–set out for Egypt. They stopped at Beersheba to camp for the night and for Jacob to make ritual sacrifices. That night God told Jacob that going to Egypt was the right decision.
After everyone got settled into Goshen, Joseph went in his best chariot to see his father. They hugged and cried for a long time, and then Jacob was all, I’m ready to die now that I’ve seen you again. Then Joseph coached his brothers on how to greet Pharaoh and how to interact with Egyptians, because Egyptians really disdained shepherds.
At that, Joseph burst into tears and ordered all his underlings to leave the room, while the brothers stood there aghast and embarrassed. After Joseph was alone with his brothers, he told them who he was.
At first, his brothers just stood there stupefied, dread roiling their bellies at this new trick. But Joseph kept assuring them that he really was their brother and that he had no hard feelings–that it had all been part of God’s plan to keep them from starving during the famine. Eventually he convinced them, and then told them to go get their dad and their families and that he’d set them up real nice in Goshen. So they all hugged and kissed and made up and then the brothers returned to Canaan to get Jacob. Continue reading “Genesis 45”
After lunch, Joseph told his steward to load the brothers up with grain, to put all their money back in their saddles, and oh yeah, to hid this silver cup in the youngest man’ s saddle bags.
The next morning, Joseph waited until the brothers had made it several hours out of the city, and then he ordered his men to pursue them for stealing his silver cup. Continue reading “Genesis 44”