Whew! This is the last post on Genesis and after the business with Joseph revealing his true identity to his brothers and the whole family having a big old party since Joseph isn’t dead despite his brothers all but killing him, Jacob and his other sons load up all their livestock and wives and the granddaughters and grandsons and the whole lot trek on down to Egypt.
As a side note, most sources I consulted credited Moses with writing the Pentatauch (the first five books of the bible,) but whomever did it, whatever overtones one might bring to a reading of them, there’s enough attention to detail and play-by-play accounts of the truly dizzying elements of Genesis that the fundamentalist lunatics that take a literal reading of the Bible as the only true interpretation do have a point. Consider the fact that Genesis lists, by name, every descendent of Jacob. Benjamin alone had nine sons name Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ahiram, Shupham, Hupham and Ard. These are names, given their number, almost beg to be made into a Hanukkah carol. Sing the melody to “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and imagine the words “Ashbel the red-nosed Hebrew, had a very shiny nose …” Just whimsical!
On second thought, don’t do that. I’m a recovering alcoholic and I’m not an anti-Semite. I don’t know if Jewish people would take offense at me comparing them to reindeer, but let’s play it safe, shall we?
Joseph goes to the Pharaoh and asks him if his dad and the other 69 people in the looming caravan can settle in Egypt provided that they stay in the region of Goshen. Apparently, Joseph’s whole family brought not only all their possessions but all their livestock too since the whole family had been shepherds for generations, and shepherds were abhorrent to Eyptians.
Another side note here, and that is it’s freakin’ amazing that the descendents of Abraham made it this far, nevermind coming into Egypt and every Egyptian greeting them with disgust just because of their occupation of shepherd. I obviously can’t speak from experience but from everything I’ve seen, read and heard about the Middle East, you have to be cut from sturdy cloth to make it there and they finally do and the bourgie Egyptians get all pissy and basically tell them they can stay provided they stay from where Egyptians won’t have to see them.
Just another example of being ashamed of my own speces I guess.
Anyway, Joe negotiates the terms of his family’s reception. Soon enough, the famine, now in it’s fifth year, sends them to Pharaoh’s door begging again and they give Pharaoh their land in exchange for 4/5th of the grain reaped from that land, the last 1/5 going to Big P (remember I decided to refer to Pharaoh as big P a little while back? Come on, stay with me.)
Jacob, now about 120 years old, gets to see his offspring be fertile and multiply some more. On or around his 147th birthday, Joe comes to his father’s death bed and Jacob asks Joe not to bury him in Egypt, but instead take him back to Canaan to be buried with his father Isaac and grandfather Abe.
“You got it Pops,” Joe says and puts his hand on Jacob’s shoulder.
“Swear it to me!” Jacob says with a vehemence one imagines difficult to muster for a 147 year old on his death bed. Still, he grabs Joe by the neck and pulls his face an inch from his own.
“Ok! I’ll do it! Jeeze Dad!”
Before he dies, Jacob brings all his sons to him and says to them all the things I imagine parents really want to say to their kids and have for years. In context, he basically tells Reuben that while he is the oldest and strongest of Jake’s sons, he can piss up a rope because Jake knows Reuben fornicated with one of his concubines in his own bed. Simeon and Levi he also tells where they can stick it since they were worse than Reuben when it came to vendettas and Jake tells them he wouldn’t pee on them even if they were of fire. Then, in reverse order of importance, Issachar was a feeble-minded “rawboned ass;” he predicted Gad would turn out to be a petty thug; Napthali was going to get into pimping; Jake was pretty sure Asher was gay. Genesis doesn’t explicitly say this, it’s just my interpretation based on Jake’s prediction that Asher would “furnish dainties for kings.” Dan would be twice the badass Gad was as Dan would become a straight up gangsta carjacking “serpents by the roadside, horned vipers by the path, that bite the horse’s heel so that the rider tumbles backward” where, presumably, Dan jacks him, then slithers away. Zubulun was destined to be a stoner/surfer on the beach. Benjamin had the most ominous yet vague of predictions from the old man, who said he “is a ravenous wolf; mornings he devours the prey and evenings he distributes the spoils.” I have no idea what that means, but when I read it back to myself out loud, I hear The Notorious B.I.G. singing “Hypnotize” through the purple ambience of twilight.
It’s contextualized almost as an afterthought as it’s the last eight verses of Genesis, but basically now that Jake’s dead, Joe’s brothers’ are scared shitless that Joe’s gonna get wreak havoc on them. Ever the sweetheart, tough, Joe assures them they can stay and multiply some more (there’s a lot of multiplication in Genesis) and as long they be cool, Joe be cool.
Joltin’ Joe dies at 110 years old and all he asks is that when God eventually leads the Nation of Israel out of Egypt, they roll his bones along with them.
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty wiped. Relax. Only 65 more books to go.