Beersheba

Day 46

Hoo-rah and hallelujah, I am officially caught up.  Tomorrow will be Day 47, as it should be.

Today’s Medicine Card was really interesting; I had a sneaking suspicion that today’s card would be upright as opposed to contrary and I was correct. My card was Prairie Dog, and Prairie Dog has to do with “Retreat.” The book explains this as removing yourself from situations, taking time to recuperate. Could not have been more appropriate for this nice day off that I enjoyed.

Got some laundry done, got to hang out with my friends… stayed up a little too late but, oh well. Gotta write.

We’re winding down Genesis, so let’s get this show on the road.


Genesis 46

Israel heads down to Beersheba to make an offering to God; God speaks to him and tells him that He “will make of [him] a great nation” in Egypt (Genesis 46:3).

Jacob goes down to Egypt and takes all his descendents and children and so forth, and it is here that we are treated to nearly twenty verses of genealogy.

I really wonder about all this genealogy stuff. I mean, I know the point is (so I’m told) to be able to trace the lineage of Jesus Christ, and from an accommodation or condescension perspective it could just exist so that people understood in the simplest terms that God created the world and created mankind and here’s the genealogy written down to prove it.

But if you do the math, and I haven’t, but just looking it up gives me a little bit of a headache. If you’re really interested, just Google it and you’ll find it no time. Anyway, if you do the math, supposedly the age you get for the earth (assuming that each “day” in Genesis is a 24-hour day), the age is around 6000 years. One website backed this claim up by saying that most cultures have histories going back about that far.

This is the thing that gets me about that, and I realize this is quickly becoming a long aside, is that around that time period, let’s say 4000 BC to 2000 BC, that’s when writing was being invented. That’s the time period when people could record their history, as opposed to just telling stories or using whatever language looked like six thousand years ago.

Even then, it’s been nearly impossible to preserve a document or a language in its original form, and I don’t see how this would be any different in the past. From the time of Adam to the time of, say, Moses is a really long time. Even if they were able to write things down, over several hundred to a thousand years, language changes, writing changes… things change.

I’ve brought up stuff like this with my partner and others and the answer I usually get is that God “makes sure,” essentially, that the message is intact. This much I agree with, because it’s obvious to me even if it seems silly that the Bible exists in its current form for a reason.

There is so much more I want to talk about, but my feeling is to save it for another day.

Anyway, we get the genealogy, Israel is reunited with his son Joseph, we learn that shepherds aren’t welcome in Egypt (Or something. Gen 43:34) and so the family will go live in the land of Goshen, where they can just go and do their thing.

So I haven’t been able to much about this phrasing in the past, I think, but I really like that when people are contacted by God, the common response from these Old Testament patriarchs is “Here I am.” It won’t be until Exodus somewhere that we learn about “I AM,” but when you know that and look back, they are responding to God with His own name.

The “here” to me serves as a great reminder of living in the Now, of living fully in the present moment, of being present when God or the universe speaks to you. If nothing else, when God spoke, these men listened.

In truth, as it has been shown to me, God speaks with us all the time. It is only when we stop, collaborate, and listen (couldn’t resist), when we pause the fascination we have with future and past, when we awaken to the moment that is Now and say, “Here I am”… that is when we hear  and notice God. The act of being present is a communion with God and with ourselves.

Also, since “I AM” is a name of God, it’s like responding when someone calls your name. If Steve calls your name, you could say, “Here, Steve!” So in the Bible, we have people responding with “Here, I AM!”

First explanation, deep and spiritual. Second explanation, humorous and irreverent (but not terribly so). As far as I can see, God still has a sense of humor. As long as He never loses His, I’ll never lose mine.

Good night, all. Peace be upon you.

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Day 26

Don Miguel Ruiz once said, “Always do your best.” It’s the fourth of the titular agreements in his book. But he also says

“Your best will be better when you are healthy as opposed to sick, or sober as opposed to drunk.”

— The Four Agreements

And I’m not drunk, but my best is not very good today. I’ve been battling a terrible stomachache and I’m exhausted, so let’s get this thing done.


Genesis 26

This chapter opens with a famine in the land, and although Isaac is tempted to move his family, God tells him not to and explains all the promises and oaths that He gave to Abraham. Isaac then does as his father did, and pretends as though Rebekah is his sister, and not his wife. It is not until Abimelech sees them together that he chastises Isaac. Abimelech proclaims that no one shall harm Isaac or touch his wife, on penalty of death.

Isaac does very well for himself in a year’s time, and he was the envy of the Philistines. These jerks went around and filled in all of Abraham’s old wells, and Abimelech kicks Isaac out. So Isaac leaves, heads to the nearby Valley of Gerar, and digs up the old wells. After running into troubles with the locals twice over, he names the first two wells Esek, meaning quarrel, and Sitnah, meaning enmity.

No one fights him on the third one, and he names it Rehoboth, literally spaciousness, because

“Now the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.”

— Isaac, Genesis 26:22

All goes well, and Abimelech and his commander, Phichol, and one of his friends, Ahuzzath, come to visit Isaac. They make a non-aggression pact with him, announce that he is blessed, and do not want him to hurt them. Isaac makes a feast and they go on their merry way.

Then things end with Esau taking two wives at age 40, which apparently is a huge pain for Isaac and Rebekah.

I’m not going to go to Matthew Henry today, but just share one of my own observations about this chapter. The Philistines are jealous of Isaac and his success; they kick him out and stop up his father’s wells and generally just harass him. And yet they only see the material things. They do not see his spiritual wealth, and if they do, they are put off by it. It seems to me that Isaac is a dedicated man; even though he inherits a great deal from his father, he also makes his own success. He prospers materially as well as spiritually, and it is my belief that the two go hand in hand, the latter preceding the former.

I am not saying that everyone who is materially wealthy is spiritually wealthy, nor am I saying that anyone who is spiritually wealthy will become materially wealthy. It just seems to me that as in this tale of Isaac, having a strong heart, having faith and a sense of purpose, these things can lead one to success, whatever that may be. For Isaac, his destiny is to inherit a land and to father a nation of people. This is what he has been told by God, and he has faith enough to get things done toward this end.

By faith, all things are possible.

I’m sick again, now. My stomach feels miserable. Contemplate these points, and rest well, everyone.

Peace be upon you.

Day 21

Last night after I finished my writing, my partner read it and told me that she thought I was a good writer. It might not seem like much on the outside but after a long, tense, stressful week, this is how it felt:

I never noticed how husky her voice sounds; not how I’d imagine some young fawn, but whatever. That’s beside the point! I’m tired and distracted and still trying to recover from my sunburnt and exhausting day yesterday, so let’s get down to business.


Genesis 21

Psalm, Chronicles, Kings, Judges, Deuteronomy, Leviticus… here we are! Genesis.

I’m going to give the short short version today. (inhale)

So God visits Sarah and Sarah births a son to Abraham just as God said and Abraham names his son Issac and Isaac gets circumcised when he’s eight days old and Sarah thinks it’s still super weird and funny that she birthed a child but Sarah is all catty and jealous or something and so she tells Abraham that Hagar needs to get out and take her kid with her and Abraham doesn’t seem so thrilled with the idea but God tells him that it’s going to be okay so trust me on this one and so Hagar leaves with not a whole lot of water or food and she gets away and worries that her son is going to die and they talk about the kid like he’s a baby but in Genesis 17, Ishmael was already like thirteen years old but anyway God comes to her or sends an angel or something and tells her not to worry about it and showed her a well and the kid grows up and becomes an archer I guess. (gasp) So anyway then apparently he grows up and gets married and then “at that time” Abraham is talking to Abimelech and his general Phichol and they swear stuff to each other and are all well and good but then Abraham gets upset and rebukes Abimelech because of some well somewhere and I’m not sure what the heck is going on because Abraham acts like he dug this well apparently but Abimelech’s men seized it and I guess this is a big deal so then they made up and called the well Beersheba which was totally the same name as the place where Hagar went back in Genesis 20:14 so I’m really confused and anyway Abraham plants a tree there and it grows and he calls on God and prays or something and then he lives there in the land of the Philistines for many days. The end.

Oh, Matthew Hennnnnry…

So first of all I misread 21:9 and it turns out that the point is that Ishmael scoffed at Isaac. He was being disrespectful of someone who is really his half-sibling, and thus being disrespectful of his own father. Having no respect for the house, he is cast out. Matthew Henry says this:

“By abusing privileges, we forfeit them. Those who know not when they are well off, will be made to know the worth of mercies by the want of them.”¹

Regarding the whole thing with the well, I forgot how important a well of water is in a time before indoor plumbing and pumping stations. So it seems as though Abraham wanted his rights to the well back. I suppose when the Bible mentions the Wilderness of Beersheba in 21:14, perhaps that was a known area back then, but perhaps it got its name after Abraham and Abimelech made their oath. In this sense, it would be like saying “what is now California,” or some such thing.

While living in this land, Abraham plants a tree and prays. Henry has this to say:

“Abraham kept up public worship, in which his neighbours might join. Good men should do all they can to make others so.”¹

It’s poignant to me, and I think many Christians would agree with this statement. However, I think many people seek to accomplish this goal by pushing their beliefs and, intentionally or not, putting themselves on a pedestal. When someone acts like they’re better than everybody because of their faith, others are more likely to try and find fault. The truth is we all sin, in one way or another, or at least we have in the past. Nobody is “perfect,” but I feel like I must append this statement. We are who we are, and it cannot be expected that we should be different. All the inputs and experiences and things learned from life have put is here, now, in this place, wherever that may be. Where else could we be? Who else could we be?

But the power is within us to change our environment, to have new experiences, to take time to observe our own thoughts and thought patterns and to interrupt dysfunctional ones and promote or reinforce healthy ones. I can’t think of how to phrase all the things I want to say right now, but in a sense you must be the guardian of your soul, keeping watch for the anger and fear that seeps in from outside sources as well as that which bubbles up from within. I was going to use walls and barriers as a metaphor, but you’re not protecting a fragile heart or defending a delicate soul; you are strengthening the very thing you protect.

2012-11-27-twowolvesnewBy giving back, by being kind, by spreading love, your heart grows and your soul strengthens. Your love will run deeper and deeper until there is no place for anger or fear or hatred. Love, which implies God, will suffuse your entire being and you will realize the beauty of life. You will discover what I mean when I say that nobody’s perfect, but everybody is.

Have a blesséd day. Peace be upon you.


¹ http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?b=1&c=21&com=mhc

P.S.: Oh my God I’ve been dying to include some Zen Pencils comics in my work but haven’t found an appropriate point until now. Gavin Aung Than, the artist, is one of my idols and heroes. I can draw a little bit, but not like him. I haven’t practiced and haven’t worked at it. Maybe someday, but for now I will spread my messages through my writing. Regardless, his work always seems to be in the back of my mind. The comic posted above can be found here.