An Atheist Reads the Bible

A godless heathen’s religious experience

Genesis 15

Posted by Urbane Spaceman on January 31, 2008

God’s Covenant With Abram

1 After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.

Not god, but “the word of god” came to Abram in a vision. What is that? The Metatron, which isn’t actually mentioned in any hoy text anywhere and yet seems to be part of the whole mythology (and is not to be confused with Megatron, who was a robot in disguise).

And Abram said unto the voice of the lord, “thanks very much, but a disembodied voice is rather insubstantial. Do you think I could have some kevlar body armour instead? And I’ll be happy with a small heap of gold as a reward.”

2 But Abram said, O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?
3 And Abram said, You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.

It sounds like Abram’s more concerned about passing on the family business. What is that, by the way? The most lucrative branches so far seem to be stealing land and dispossessing entire peoples in the name of god and pimping out family members to royalty.

4 Then the word of the LORD came to him: This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.

If I was taking this literally that would sound really painful!

5 He took him outside and said, Look up at the heavens and count the stars— if indeed you can count them. Then he said to him, So shall your offspring be.
6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

And then god said unto him, “did you know they’ve taken the word gullible out of the dictionary?”

7 He also said to him, I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.

Who gave it to god to give away in the first place?

8 But Abram said, O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I shall gain possession of it?
9 So the LORD said to him, Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.
10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half.

Of course, kill a few animals in a ritualistic manner and the land’s yours. What does god get out of these sacrifices anyway? I know the good folk who like to think they’ll get caught up in the rapture any day now have interesting discussions on whether dogs will get caught up in the rapture but I’ve never seen mention of cows and goats. Especially cows and goats that have just been cut in half. Sounds more like a Damien Hirst exhibition at the Tate than anything else. Perhaps Abram was up for the Turner prize.

So why do the birds get away with it?

11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.
12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him.
13 Then the LORD said to him, Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and ill-treated four hundred years.

Sounds more like what goes around comes around to me.

14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterwards they will come out with great possessions.

Put up with a load of crap I’m going to heap on you (and blame it on Egypt, but as an omnipotent god I could obviously prevent it any time I felt like it. It’s a good job I’m ineffable, hey?)

15 You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age.

Always good to know.

16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.
17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking brazier with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces.
18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates—
19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites,
20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites,
21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.

That’s a whole lot more disposessed peoples. I guess we’ve worked out the main arm of that family business anyway.

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