An Atheist Reads the Bible

A godless heathen’s religious experience

Posts Tagged ‘Sarah’

Genesis 18

Posted by Urbane Spaceman on May 10, 2010

The Three Visitors

1 The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. 2 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.

3 He said, If I have found favour in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by.

So what’s your first thought when you’re out camping and look up to find three men standing near by? That’s right – they are God incarnate. How could any right minded person think otherwise?

4 Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree.

5 Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way— now that you have come to your servant. Very well, they answered, do as you say.

I’m sure they did. Who’d turn down a free footwash and slap-up meal?

6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. Quick, he said, get three seahs of fine flour and knead it and bake some bread.

7 Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it.

8 He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.

9 Where is your wife Sarah? they asked him. There, in the tent, he said.

Is it just me or is this coming across as plain old intimidation? Three guys show up, the old guy hopes to pacify them with food and drink so they leave him alone and just go on their way. Then they suddenly ask after his wife … it doesn’t look as if this story is going to happy places.

10 Then the LORD said, I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son. Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him.

So God, aka Three Burly Strangers in the desert, have eaten all his food, found his wife and suddenly (flash forward) one of them is sneaking out the back of the tent whilst zipping up his fly, and the others are telling her husband she’s “miraculously” with child.

Good cover story – should persuade most vulnerable old men out in the wilderness. Even if …

11 Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing.
12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?

Or perhaps they haven’t got into the tent yet, but Sarah sounds like she’s not getting much satisfaction from Abraham in that department. Sounds like God, aka TBS, is the most excitement to come her way in a long time.

Also sounds like we should be cueing up the cheesy 70’s porno soundtrack. What’s the betting these three burly geezers are all built like Wesley Snipes and hung like donkeys?

13 Then the LORD said to Abraham, Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’

14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.

15 Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, I did not laugh. But he said, Yes, you did laugh.

Nope, my mistake, we’re back to intimidation …

Abraham Pleads for Sodom

16 When the men got up to leave, they looked down towards Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. 17 Then the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?

18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.

19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.

20 Then the LORD said, The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous

21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.

22 The men turned away and went towards Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD.

23 Then Abraham approached him and said: Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?

24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?

So God’s off to do a bit of smiting and Abraham decides to argue with him. Well, the guy has balls, I’ll give him that.

25 Far be it from you to do such a thing— to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?

26 The LORD said, If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.

27 Then Abraham spoke up again: Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes,

28 what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city because of five people?

If I find forty-five there, he said, I will not destroy it.

29 Once again he spoke to him, What if only forty are found there?

He said, For the sake of forty, I will not do it.

30 Then he said, May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?

He answered, I will not do it if I find thirty there.

31 Abraham said, Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?

He said, For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.

32 Then he said, May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?

He answered, For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.

And not only argue, but haggle with the big man. Some serious respect to our boy Abe there.

33 When the LORD had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.

Chapter ending leaves a bit to be desired though. Not exactly a cliffhanger that last sentence is it? I mean, have the writers never watched the old Saturday morning “Rocketman” or “Flash Gordon” episodes. What’s needed is Abe going out in a ball of flames, only to tune in next week to see that he’d used his tent as a parachute at the last minute.

Or something …

Posted in Genesis, OT | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Genesis 17

Posted by Urbane Spaceman on February 26, 2008

The Covenant of Circumcision

For some reason I don’t remember this passage ever being read in our local methodist church. Wonder why?

1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.
2
I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.

So it doesn’t matter that Abram has pimped his wife out and got his maid pregnant, if he “walks before” god (whatever that might mean) he will be blameless? Nice deal if you can get it.

3 Abram fell face down, and God said to him,
4 As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations.

God’s offering him stuff again, you can just smell the catch around the corner.

5 No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.

And Abra(ha)m said unto god, “but I’ll have to change all my credit cards. And do you know how long it takes to get a new passport these days?”

6 I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.
7 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.
8 The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.

“Sounds good so far, I get a load more land and slaves to go with it. By the way, do you think you could let them all know I’m their master this time?”

Essentially these are the same old promises we’ve heard before. You’d think god would have a slightly more spiritual outlook on life.

9 Then God said to Abraham, As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come.

I’m guessing this is the point at which Abraham starts to get nervous.

10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised.

Ouch!

11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you.

So at 99 years old Abraham’s got to get himself circumcised. At least god’s not asking for Talmudic circumcision

The operation [circumcision] consists of three parts: “milah,” “peri’ah,” and “mezizah.”

Milah: The child having been placed upon a pillow resting upon the lap of the godfather or “sandek” (he who is honored by being assigned to hold the child), the mohel exposes the parts by removal of garments, etc., and instructs the sandek how to hold the child’s legs. The mohel then grasps the prepuce between the thumb and index-finger of his left hand, exerting sufficient traction to draw it from the glans, and places the shield (see Fig. 1, next column) in position just before the glans. He now takes his knife and with one sweep excises the foreskin. This completes the first act. The knife (see Fig. 3) most commonly used is double-edged, although one like those ordinarily used by surgeons is also often employed.

Peri’ah: After the excision has been completed, the mohel seizes the inner lining of the prepuce, which still covers the glans, with the thumb-nail and index-finger of each hand, and tears it so that he can roll it fully back over the glans and expose the latter completely. The mohel usually has his thumb-nail suitably trimmed for the purpose. In exceptional cases the inner lining of the prepuce is more or less extensively adherent to the glans, which interferes somewhat with the ready removal; but persistent effort will overcome the difficulty.

Mezizah: By this is meant the sucking of the blood from the wound. The mohel takes some wine in his mouth and applies his lips to the part involved in the operation, and exerts suction, after which he expels the mixture of wine and blood into a receptacle (see Fig. 4, below) provided for the purpose. This procedure is repeated several times, and completes the operation, except as to the control of the bleeding and the dressing of the wound.

You really have to wonder where they get this from. Is there a special version of the bible somewhere that defines Peri’ah and Mazizah or, far more likely, was the procedure thought up by repressed, dirty old men who got their rocks off with 8 year old boys?

12 For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner— those who are not your offspring.

So it’s OK to force this religious observation on family and slaves alike, regardless of their beliefs? (And we’ll ignore for the moment the implicit approval of slavery here).

13 Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant.

Let me just say that again in case you didn’t get it the first time.

14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.

I think I’d rather be cut off from my people than have a bit cut off my little person …

15 God also said to Abraham, As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah.

But Sarai can be her facebook hooker name.

16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.

Now you’d think he could have done this before all that trouble with Hagar. God sure has a crappy sense of timing.

17 Abraham fell face down; he laughed and said to himself, Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?

I assume by this point people aren’t living quite as long as Adam and his immediate descendants. Still, 90 isn’t a bad age to reach in a time with no modern medical facilities and when penicillin lies far in the future.

18 And Abraham said to God, If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!
19 Then God said, Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.

God sure is pushy on the whole naming thing. What’s it to him anyway? Abraham’s now going to end up with two sons at 100 years old. Just wait until Sarah’s stopped breast-feeding and makes him get up for the nightly feed. He won’t be getting up bright and early for altar-building exercises then I can tell you.

20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation.

So Ishmael’s going to do alright for himself. I’m sure he’d have been happy with a house in the suburbs and a decent job, but obviously that wouldn’t have increased god’s little following in the same way as being, say, the father of a great nation.

21 But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.
22 When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.

I’ve got plans for your unborn son, but you’re nuts if you think I’m going to tell you what they are yet.

23 On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him.
24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised,
25 and his son Ishmael was thirteen;
26 Abraham and his son Ishmael were both circumcised on that same day.
27 And every male in Abraham’s household, including those born in his household or bought from a foreigner, was circumcised with him.

Snip, snip, snip …

Posted in Genesis, OT | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »