An Atheist Reads the Bible

A godless heathen’s religious experience

Genesis 12

Posted by Urbane Spaceman on January 15, 2008

The Call of Abram

1 The LORD had said to Abram, Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.
2 I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

So Abram’s moping around one day wondering whatever happened to that god chap – he never phones, he never writes – when out of the blue there’s a mighty thunderclap and god’s talking to him in full surround telling him to leave his home, his friends and most of his family and trek to an unknown destination where he would found a great nation and be blessed by all.

Tricky one that. This god fellow isn’t one for giveing you easy decisions is he?

4 So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran.

But Abram, drawn by his 15 minutes of fame on the new reality show “I’m god’s current favourite, smite mine enemies” decided to give it a go. After all 75 was pretty sprightly in those days when lifespans were measured in hundreds of years.

5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

So taking only his wife, his nephew, absolutely everything they owned, including all the people they had ‘acquired’. After all they needed all those slaves to carry all the crap that had accumulated up in the attic and Abram was a bit of a hoarder.

6 Abram travelled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land.

They eventually come to Canaan which, surprise surprise, is full of Canaanites.

7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, To your offspring I will give this land. So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

And without so much as a by your leave or the involvement of a surveyor god hands over the land to Abram. For those of you following closely this was of course Noah’s punishment for getting drunk and falling asleep naked where, gasp, people could see him.

Probably not much consolation to the Canaanites though.

8 From there he went on towards the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD.
9 Then Abram set out and continued towards the Negev.

Abram continues his journey, building altars everywhere to mark his territory.

Abram in Egypt

10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe.

Is this making a great nation? Doesn’t seem like god’s holding up his end of the bargain here sending famine into Abram’s land.

And buggering off for Egypt at the first sign of trouble isn’t going to make the people bless him either.

11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, I know what a beautiful woman you are.
12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live.

Nice bunch, the Egyptians.

13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.

But it’s OK. Pretend you’re just my sister and I’ll be OK. Presumably that means she’s likely to be forced into unpleasant situations thanks to Abram taking her there, but as long as he’s OK there’s no problem. After all his name is great and he is a blessing.

14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that she was a very beautiful woman.
15 And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace.
16 He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, menservants and maidservants, and camels.

Abram seems to be doing pretty well here by pimping out his wife on the grounds that she’s only his sister really.

There’s just so much wrong with that preceding sentence that I don’t even know where to start.

17 But the LORD inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai.

It’s not really clear why here. Was god annoyed because he wasn’t getting any Sarai action? Certainly he’s not punishing Abram’s enemies or people that curse him as he’s being treated pretty well. Looks like a childish tantrum to me. Smite any other “best friends” and they’ll come running back, tail between their legs because now old god’s the only viable option again.

18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram. What have you done to me? he said. Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife?
19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!
20 Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.

Poor old Pharoah. All he wanted was the most beautiful women in the land to cater to his every desire and whim. A man of simple pleasures.

The thought does of course occur that the nasty diseases suffered by Pharoah might be more a consequence of Abram pimping out his missus to all and sundry rather than any kind of divine intervention. It was probably nothing a quick trip down to the clinic couldn’t sort out.

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2 Responses to “Genesis 12”

  1. klasper said

    So, God saith unto you:

    Gilga

  2. I don’t understand.

    Gilga?

    Do you mean Gilgal? Gilgamesh?

    Please explain or provide a reference.

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