genealogy

Day 120

So this was supposed to go up yesterday but I figure since I’m waiting for the tire shop to repair my punctured front right, I might as well get an update done.

Blah. I don’t know who i’m trying to kid. I’m exhausted and starving over here. And by starving I mean hungry. I probably have a couple dozen tons of life-sustaining body fat on me; I’ll be fine.

Numbers 3

You know, this chapter isn’t very long, but it sure seems long when it’s all math and genealogy. Houses of so-and-so this, and son of so-and-so that.

Also, since now we’re going back to Aaron and Moses talking to God on Mount Sinai, it seems that this whole darn section is told out of chronological order. I can see why someone would want to write a chronological Bible, but I have no idea how much research or guessing it would take to get this whole book in order. Oy.

Anyway, God explains to Moses that when he took (read: killed) all the firstborn of Egypt, he took (read: appropriated, maybe? Sanctified?) all the firstborn of Israel. But, because babies make terrible temple guardians, but more likely because coordinating and demanding responsibility from a bunch of different people from different tribes is a pain in God’s butt, God has sanctified and appointed the Levites in exchange for all the firstborn of Israel. So He has Moses take a census.

All the Levite males from one month old on up number 22,000. All the firstborn males of Israel from one month old and above number 22,273. So there is a 273 person difference.

God tells Moses to cover the difference, so Moses takes 5 shekels of redemption payment per person, as per the Lord’s instruction, and gives the money, all 1,365 shekels to the family of Aaron.

Done and done.

Peace be upon you!

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Day 56

Exodus 6

Moses is very concerned about Pharaoh and his bad attitude toward the Hebrews. God lets him know that Pharaoh will basically be driving the Hebrews out when He is done with him.

God reaffirms his promise, the same promise He made to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. He lets Moses know that the Hebrews will be returning to Canaan. God tells them that He is with them, that He will be their God and they his people. In truth, once we know God (which we cannot do unless we truly know love), that is all we need. The Hebrews chafe under Pharaoh’s rule and their bondage, and they have forgotten the value of their God.

God tells Moses to go take care of this mess and talk again to Pharaoh. Moses basically wonders how on earth this is supposed to work. From Matthew Henry’s commentary:

“The faith of Moses was so feeble that he could scarcely be kept to his work. Ready obedience is always according to the strength of our faith. Though our weaknesses ought to humble us, yet they ought not to discourage us from doing our best in any service we have to do for God. When Moses repeats his baffled arguments, he is argued with no longer, but God gives him and Aaron a charge, both to the children of Israel, and to Pharaoh.”¹

God issues his command once again in Exodus 6:13, and declines to discuss the point further.

After this, we are treated to a genealogical aside, after which the narrative is resumed, with the scripture showing the Lord issuing His command.

(Catching up…)


¹ Henry, Matthew. http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=2&c=6

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.

Day 37

*deep inhale*

So alright everybody we’re gonna get this Bible business back on track so here goes!

Jacob wrestled with God and won and it was like a metaphor for prayer I guess and then he goes and makes amends with his brother Esau who he thought still hated him but Esau was just happy to see him after twenty years and Jacob is such a nice and rich guy that he gives Esau a massive tribute to show that there are no hard feelings.

Then one of Jacob’s daughters goes out to make some lady friends in this new territory and she gets sexually assaulted by some prince dude named Shechem who is a prince and then his father Hamor says that Shechem wants to marry Jacob’s daughter Dinah and then Jacob’s sons tell Hamor that all the men living there have to be circumcised and then long story short Simeon and Levi who are two of Jacob’s sons just go right ahead and slay all the men in the city and Jacob berates them for making enemies and they’re all like “What were we supposed to do just let them treat our sister like a prostitute?”

Then God makes a bunch of promises and reiterates stuff that He said to Abraham to Jacob who is now called Israel which apparently means “prince of God” or some such thing with the “El” part meaning “God” and some stuff happens and Jacob casts out all the old idols and such and Deborah dies and then Rachel has another baby and she dies in childbirth and Israel buries her and then one of his sons Reuben sleeps with his father’s concubine and they list off Jacob/Israel’s twelve sons and then also Isaac lives to 180 years old and DIES.

Then we get this whole big chapter about Esau’s genealogy and I don’t really care to list them all off because anyone who really wants to read all that can just go check out Genesis 36 or maybe a genealogy chart of the Old Testament figures but the gist of it is that he dips out of town because it ain’t big enough for the two of them with the two of them being him and his brother and all their stuff and livestock and such.

THEN we get Genesis 37 which features Joseph son of Rachel wife of Jacob who is totally his father’s favorite and has a fancy tunic or coat of many colors and all his brothers hate him because he has all these dreams that they will be bowing down to him and that his father and mother even will bow down to him apparently because he dreams about the sun and moon and eleven stars bowing down to him and so his brothers plot to kill him by trapping him in a pit but one brother Reuben wants to save him later without them knowing but after doing the pit thing one of them Judah suggests that they just sell him so at least they can make a profit from the whole deal and so they sell him to some Midianite traders and sell him and he gets carted off as a slave to Egypt and they take his fancy clothes and cover them in goat blood and show their father and he mourns because he believes that Joseph is DEAD.

That’s it! We’re up to date. Genesis 33-37 in a nutshell.

Goodnight, all. Peace be upon you.

Day 36

I’m so far behind with things that it’s beginning to stress me out. I’m behind with this, I’m behind with sleep, I’m behind with work.

As much as I want to write, and I know I need to, I took one look at Genesis 36 which is just a massive, several-generations-long genealogy of Esau, brother of Jacob. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

My Medicine Card that I just drew is Contrary Hummingbird. Everything’s coming up contrary, lately. Contrary Hummingbird says that my sorrow is but another reflection of my joy. This is sort of appropriate, just because right now I’m feeling overwhelmed and stressed, but I know in the end all will be well, and I will be better for it. For now, I need to rest.

Thank you all for tagging along on my journey. I bid you adieu.

Peace be upon you.

Day 11

For heaven’s sake… God is not going to make this easy on me.

Today is the first day that I’ve actually had difficulty doing my writing, and I foresee more challenges on the horizon. Work is ramping up in a big way and I need to get it under control before it controls me. I’m also not getting enough sleep and not enough personal leisure time.

One consolation that I forgot to write about came in the form of my horoscope from 3/25/14. This happened to be the day or the day after I told my friend about this project and worried about my lack of motivation. My horoscope read:

You have more command over your emotions than you think you do, which you’ll find out by taking control of your environment.

That’s the kind of information I need these days. I wish the “taking control of [my] environment” part wasn’t such a pain in my ass. My room and my house are a terrible mess. All my work folders and paperwork are disorganized. I feel like I have neither the time nor the inclination to change this, because it feels like an overwhelming undertaking at this point. But I have to work and I have to pay my bills and I have to have to have to.

I’m just going to bang my head on the keyboard for a while and see what comes out.

Genesis 11

Gen 11 reminds me of Gen 2, in that it appears to conflict with the previous chapter. Genesis 10 shows all the different genealogies of all the families and constantly lists them as “according to his language, according to their families, into their nations,” or some form thereof (Gen 10:5). It shows that all these people were separated into different cultures and languages.

Genesis 11 comes along and says that “the whole earth had one language and one speech” (Gen 11:1). It seems that, like Genesis 2, Genesis 11 is here to elaborate on the narrative of the previous chapter.

With their one language, people started building a tower “whose top is in the heavens… lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Gen 11:4). I love this verse because they’re like, “Oh boy, we better not get scattered to the four winds! That would be terrible!” And then the Lord sees them and does exactly that. Once again, the Lord refers to Himself in the first-person plural: “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language” (Gen 11:7).

So God does this apparently because humans will be able to do anything they want! With one language, they could build a tower straight up to Heaven, which once again points back to the Hebrew mythology of a heavenly realm located physically above the Earth.

This baffles me a little, and Matthew Henry gives me no placating explanation. I think… firstly the location of Babel is in the land of Shinar, which was mentioned previously as part of the kingdom of Nimrod in Gen 10. So we already know that these are not supposed to be the godly folk. With that in mind, it seems that their hubris was their undoing; with one language they could have accomplished many great works but instead decided to essentially rebel against God by saying, “Screw the rules, we’re building our way to Heaven!” And the Lord says no.

So He punishes them for their hubris and their disrespect by confounding their language and scattered them all over the world. Apparently this is part of the plan, that humanity will be divided. The eventual reunification will come with Christ, apparently. So sayeth Matthew Henry:

“The children of men never did, nor ever will, come all together again, till the great day, when the Son of man shall sit upon the throne of his glory, and all nations shall be gathered before him.” ¹

Mankind does seem to have this problem where we help each other in our misery rather than lifting out of it. Ruiz says as much, that we have agreements to help each other suffer.² Suffering is comfortable because we are so used to it, but the company of angry, fearful fellows does not beat the serenity that can be found within. It is a hard lesson to learn, but the more people that learn it, the better we will be as a species.

Genealogy

The rest of Genesis 11 is dedicated to the genealogy of the family of Shem.

We have:

  • Shem
    • Arphaxad
      • Salah
        • Eber
          • Peleg
            • Reu
              • Serug
                • Nahor
                  • Terah
                    • Haran -> deceased
                    • Abram — Sarai
                    • Nahor — Milcah
                      • Lot

Yikes. I think that’s everybody. So at the end of Genesis 11, Terah takes his son Abram, Abram’s wife Sarai, and Lot, Abram’s nephew and Terah’s grandson, and they leave Ur, headed toward Canaan. They stayed in Haran, or Charran, for a time, where Terah passed away. Matthew Henry ends this portion of his commentary with the poignant thought:

“Many reach to Charran, and yet fall short of Canaan; they are not far from the kingdom of God, and yet never come thither.” ¹

I’ve heard a similar sentiment regarding general or business success, but here it applies spiritually as well. Ah! Found it:

“Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.”

—  Napoleon Hill

Most of the time we never know how close we are to something, to achieving a goal, and our tendency is to stop or turn around, often just before we make a breakthrough. Persevere! Today I will leave you with one last quote, the other of which I was thinking:

“When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter
hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as
much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first
blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that last
blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”

— Jacob A. Riis
Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/jacobaugus107072.html#pTWJkqAJYzZKKMRA.99

Every blow weakens the stone, just as every step in the right direction, no matter how small, leads closer to one’s destination.

Blessings to all, and peace be upon you.

 

Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/jacobaugus107072.html#pTWJkqAJYzZKKMRA.99

Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.

Jacob August Riis

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/jacobaugus107072.html#pTWJkqAJYzZKKMRA.99

Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.

Jacob August Riis

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/jacobaugus107072.html#pTWJkqAJYzZKKMRA.99

¹ http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?b=1&c=11&com=mhc

² Ruiz, Don Miguel. The Four Agreements

Day 10

Woo! Ten days in a row. So far so good!

So I added a new page, which I will be sure to whore out every day until it starts receiving regular attention. Basically I’m soliciting interpretations from the good people out there reading this blog. I have my opinion and I have Matthew Henry’s opinion, but I want to hear from a broader variety of people. I’m interested to see what people from different walks of life think about the Bible.

The submission page and guidelines can be found here. Click the link and go at it!

Also I want to clarify something before I get into today’s chapter: I keep referring to my partner as just that, my “partner.” I know someday she is going to read this and probably be confused as to why I chose that word. A few reasons:

  1. It does signify a close bond, as we go through our lives together.
  2. Saying “girlfriend” seems cheesy, even though I’ve already outed her gender.
  3. Part of it seems distant and mysterious, and for purposes of this blog, I kind of like that.

That’s all there is to it, really. Just wanted to clear that up because I know someday she’ll read this. (Yes, you. ♥)

Genesis 10

Today we have the weird inbred genealogy of the sons of Noah. I know Biblical genealogy is concerned with the lineages of sons, and that daughters are not mentioned, but seriously, either back in the day people knew that these were stories and that there were other people to be found on Earth… or people were just totally a-okay with a lot of incest and inbreeding. Maybe they just didn’t read into it.

What was that about inbreeding?

“Well, golly! Only people round here to beget with are my cousins, my sisters, and my mother!” ¹

So we have the sons of Japheth (see above), who become the Gentiles, who “separated into their lands, everyone according to his language, according to their families, into their nations” (Genesis 10:5).

Then we get into the sons of Ham: Pork, Bacon, Loin, Cubed, Shaved… Alright, I’ll stop. But seriously, the sons of Ham. Eventually through his lineage, we get one of Canaan’s nephews, the mighty hunter Nimrod, whose reputation lasted right up until Bugs Bunny came along and turned him into an insult. I wasn’t going to write much about him but then I looked up the Matthew Henry commentary. I’ll just leave this here:

“Nimrod was a great man in his day; he began to be mighty in the earth, Those before him were content to be upon the same level with their neighbours, and though every man bare rule in his own house, yet no man pretended any further. Nimrod was resolved to lord it over his neighbours. The spirit of the giants before the flood, who became mighty men, and men of renown, Genesis 6:4, revived in him. Nimrod was a great hunter. Hunting then was the method of preventing the hurtful increase of wild beasts. This required great courage and address, and thus gave an opportunity for Nimrod to command others, and gradually attached a number of men to one leader. From such a beginning, it is likely, that Nimrod began to rule, and to force others to submit. He invaded his neighbours’ rights and properties, and persecuted innocent men; endeavouring to make all his own by force and violence. He carried on his oppressions and violence in defiance of God himself. Nimrod was a great ruler. Some way or other, by arts or arms, he got into power, and so founded a monarchy, which was the terror of the mighty, and bid fair to rule all the world. Nimrod was a great builder. Observe in Nimrod the nature of ambition. It is boundless; much would have more, and still cries, Give, give. It is restless; Nimrod, when he had four cities under his command, could not be content till he had four more. It is expensive; Nimrod will rather be at the charge of rearing cities, than not have the honour of ruling them. It is daring, and will stick at nothing. Nimrod’s name signifies rebellion; tyrants to men are rebels to God. The days are coming, when conquerors will no longer be spoken of with praise, as in man’s partial histories, but be branded with infamy, as in the impartial records of the Bible.” ²

Come on, Matthew! You’re making me look bad, over here. I’m making incest jokes about Gen 10 and he’s busy analyzing that Nimrod is a tyrant, a “rebel to God,” which would make a kick-ass band name. But seriously, wow. Matthew Henry expands on this point in his analysis of the line of Canaan. I can’t not share this.

“The posterity of Canaan were numerous, rich, and pleasantly seated; yet Canaan was under a Divine curse, and not a curse causeless. Those that are under the curse of God, may, perhaps, thrive and prosper in this world; for we cannot know love or hatred, the blessing or the curse, by what is before us, but by what is within us. The curse of God always works really, and always terribly. Perhaps it is a secret curse, a curse to the soul, and does not work so that others can see it; or a slow curse, and does not work soon; but sinners are reserved by it for a day of wrath. Canaan here has a better land than either Shem or Japheth, and yet they have a better lot, for they inherit the blessing. Abram and his seed, God’s covenant people, descended from Eber, and from him were called Hebrews. How much better it is to be like Eber, the father of a family of saints and honest men, than the father of a family of hunters after power, worldly wealth, or vanities. Goodness is true greatness.” ²

Wow. This is a beautiful description, an amazing interpretation. It reminds me of everything I have read thus far related to goodness and success. It reminds me especially of that wonderful book, The Four Agreements, where Don Miguel Ruiz describes the dream of Hell in which mankind is living.

“We cannot know love or hatred, the blessing or the curse, by what is before us, but by what is within us.”

— Matthew Henry

This reminds me especially of something written in The Myth of Sisyphus:

“It is probably true that a man remains forever unknown to us and that there is in him something irreducible that escapes us. But practically I know men and recognize them by their behavior, by the totality of their deeds, by the consequences caused in life by their presence.”

— Albert Camus

All these authors and writers are privy to a truth that many of us feel but have no words to describe. No matter what shows on the outside, man suffers in the absence of God. In the Bible, Noah curses Canaan and his lineage, but in truth he need say nothing; Canaan curses himself and his children by his actions, by leading them down a bad road, away from the grace and love of the Lord.

Ruiz knows that we live in Hell, that men suffer in silence in the depths of their souls because we have abandoned love and truth and beauty. We are wounded, lost children, and we strike at others out of fear and anger. No matter the heights of our success, in the end we are empty and miserable. We cannot be placated with material things; gold does not fill the coffers of the soul.

Camus would not be thrilled that I suggest turning to God to rectify this, but let me clarify: the feeling, the knowing of God can be had on Earth by mortal men. One does not have to cling to a hope of a distant heaven. Ruiz says as much himself: Heaven is a state of mind, and it is possible to attain. There are people on Earth who live lives of happiness, who do not suffer despite having excuses to do so.

I recognize God, I love God, and I accept God, in my own way, but I also recognize and accept the absurdity of “the human condition.” I cannot prove God to you. But my experiences and my life have been nothing short of miraculous, and if you have the eyes to see it, you will realize that your life is the greatest miracle and the highest truth. God works his magic through you. Look at all the “coincidences,” learn from them, see where your life has come from and where it has gone. There is no place you could be but here, no time you could be but now.

This moment is yours.

Seize it.

 

¹ http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/25574/gomer-pyle-usmc-the-complete-first-season/

² http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=1&c=10

Day 4

We got the Internet back up yesterday; it turned out to be a cable in the wrong slot. Of course, our Internet access goes out so frequently due to failure to pay the bill that no one thought to check that.

I spent more time with my partner last night and this morning. I love her so much but this is the worst week to be spending this much time together. I had to tell her as much because I kept snapping at her and she got upset.

Part of it is that I haven’t told her or anyone about this project yet. Granted, it hasn’t even (as of my writing this) gone online yet, but still. Part of me doesn’t want her to know so that I can just write it in peace without having to worry about the opinions of someone I know and love. She’s a Christian with a fairly literal interpretation of the Bible and I know we’re going to clash theologically. We already have, and if she reads this we will have many more occasions to do so. On the upside, we might be able to understand each other better after a few more such discussions, and if we can get through this we could probably get through anything.

But! Once again I am pressed for time. This is what’s stressing me out because she doesn’t realize I’m waking up extra early every day and that I need to take upwards of an hour to write these posts. So here we go with…

Genesis 4

Oy. Here begins the genealogy stuff. There must be a point and a purpose but… right now, this early in the morning, it just makes my head hurt.

Let’s start with Cain and Abel, one of my favorite stories in the Bible. Cain is not only the first murderer, assuming one accepts the account of creation, but the first wise-ass. Cain invented sarcasm.

Cain and Abel, brothers, sons of Adam and Eve, both bring offerings to the Lord. Now the Lord “respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering” (Genesis 4:4-5). The Lord appears to have done this to teach Cain a lesson. Cain gets upset and angry, but the Lord tries to tell him to “rule over [sin].”

God says, “If you do well, will you not be accepted?” as written in Genesis 4:7. I find this interesting because it makes me think of, again, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. In that book, one of the titular agreements is “Always do your best,” or “I always do my best.” By doing one’s best, Ruiz writes, one can never blame oneself or feel guilty. If one tries to do more than their best, one will become frustrated and overexerted. If one tries to do less than their best, one will judge oneself and feel guilty. God even says, “If you do not do well, sin lies at the door.” In TFA, Ruiz writes that anything, especially emotions, that go against ourselves are sins, because through those emotions we do harm to ourselves.

It would seem to me that God is telling Cain to do his best, and not worry so much about the outcome. Cain becomes angry, jealous, or envious, which is a result of inner feelings or emotions. Cain feels inadequate, it seems, in the eyes of the Lord, and so instead of looking inward, he looks outward. Cain cannot spend his anger attacking the Lord, so he goes for the easiest related target: Abel, the object of his jealousy and envy.

And this is the part that gets me every time. Cain kills Abel, and when God comes asking where he went, Cain says, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9)

Wow. Cain literally mouths off to God. I don’t think he thought this one through. So God destroys Cain’s livelihood, it seems, by telling him “When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you” (Genesis 4:12). And then Cain is “driven […] out” by God, crying “I shall be hidden from Your face” (Genesis 4:14).

In other news, now I know where the band name “Avenged Sevenfold” comes from. Should anyone kill  Cain, “vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold,” so sayeth the Lord, Genesis 4:15. (The direct quote shows up in Gen 4:24.)

The website christnotes.org explains the story thusly: Abel came to God humbly and offered the firstborn of his flock as a valuable sacrifice to the Lord. Cain “showed a proud, unbelieving heart.” I’m not entirely sure where they get that out of the scripture, but it makes for an interesting explanation. To me, it seems like Cain was a farmer, so he gave God his crops as an offering. But maybe there’s something I’m missing?

The website goes on to mention that Cain and Abel are representative of two types of believers: “proud, hardened despisers of the gospel method of salvation, who attempt to please God in ways of their own devising; and humble believers, who draw near to him [sic] in the way he [sic] has revealed.”

I have a sneaking suspicion that I won’t understand this chapter until somewhere down the road.

So Cain leaves the land of his birth and dwells “in the land of Nod on the east of Eden.” I have heard before that the word “Nod” is somehow related to an old Hebrew word for “wander,” and christnotes.org says that Nod means “shaking” or “trembling.” This interpretation is new to me, and the site says that this “shows the restlessness and uneasiness of his spirit.”

“They that depart from God cannot find rest any where else.”

— Matthew Henry’s Commentary, christnotes.org

Cain leaves the “land” and “sight” of God, be this physical or metaphorical, and goes elsewhere. He takes a wife (who?) and has a child named Enoch. Then there is a city that gets built and a whole lot of begetting. Long story short, after a while comes Lamech, who appears to be just as troublesome as his ancestor.

First he takes two wives, which is apparently also a sin according to christnotes.org, even though if you’re reading the Bible like I am and not yet as a whole, this isn’t quite clear. I guess Genesis 2 might imply that the rule is one man and one woman.

Then Lamech has a whole family of people that proceed to become craftsmen, farmers, and musicians (Genesis 4:20-22). From the commentary found on christnotes.org by Matthew Henry, this just showcases the sin of the family, because instead of teaching people about God, Lamech and his family are concerned with worldly things. Even the aforementioned city is due to Cain’s lingering dissatisfaction and unease. He cannot obtain the wonders of heaven, and so he builds a city here on earth. So should we all go live in the woods? Should no one create wonders on earth?

I think the importance here is that we not forget God and heaven while concerned with earthly matters during our human lives. We can integrate the spiritual into the material; perhaps not literally, but like a televangelist who uses the marvels of modern technology to preach the gospel, or even the bookmakers who printed the Bible on a press rather than write it by hand, it is possible to use technology wisely and to our spiritual advantage.

Anyway, so Lamech gets all uppity and starts striking down people who hurt him, saying that “If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, / Then Lamech seventy-sevenfold” (Genesis 4:24). What a guy.

And so ends the story of Cain and his family, at least as far as Genesis 4.

My time is running short today, but I wanted to address a few things that I forgot in previous chapters. Firstly, I wanted to make the observation that there are a number of parallels between Eve and the Greek Pandora. This is not news to many, but the resemblance is interesting. Pandora, however is deliberately sent to men to cause harm. One could say that this is not the case for Eve, but in a roundabout way, if God never wanted Man to fall, one would think he could have prevented it. As I said before, the Fall of Man appears to be necessary. Why else would a Redeemer be needed?

There are other interesting parallels between the ancient Greek myths and the first few chapters of Genesis. In Hesiod’s Theogeny, Prometheus plays a trick against Zeus (the powerful divine father figure) related to two separate sacrificial offerings. In this myth, Zeus revokes mankind’s fire privileges, but Prometheus steals that back. In retaliation, Zeus sends Pandora and all the ills of the world are set forth upon mankind, etc., etc.

In Works and Days, Hesiod writes that “had Prometheus not provoked Zeus’s wrath, ‘you would easily do work enough in a day to supply you for a full year even without working; soon would you put away your rudder over the smoke, and the fields worked by ox and sturdy mule would run to waste’” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prometheus).

Does this sound familiar? “In toil you shall eat of it, all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,” and “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread.” So sayeth the Lord, Genesis 3:17-19.

Zeus in his myth and God in the Bible both take away mankind’s easy life. In a way, one could take this for a piece of evidence related to the mythology of the Bible. I tend to say that, once again, all stories have a purpose, and if one believes that God guides or at least has a hand in the world, it is impossible to say that something exists either for no reason or for a reason that would go against God and his Word.

So to me, these old myths and legends are good stories. They have tales to tell and lessons to learn, and in a way, the humans of old would have had to learn these lessons before the cultures of Judaism and Christianity came along.

I asked my partner why God is so different from the Old Testament to the New. The Old Testament has animal sacrifices, destruction of cities, pillars of salt, and so on and so forth. The New Testament has Jesus Christ who came to save humanity and absolve all of their sins. So which is it? If God is infinite and unchanging…

Well, her explanation, which I particularly enjoy, is that it’s not God that was different, it’s humanity. In the Old Testament, mankind is in its infancy. How do you discipline a child? Regardless of whether it is right or best, we train children via punishment and reward. God used animal sacrifice and the like as ways for people to show their faith and humility, their submission to the Lord. God gave mankind a path to salvation via sacrifice. Time needed to pass before it would be right for Jesus to walk the earth and offer salvation through the redemption of mankind’s sins.

Also as a quick aside, salvation and redemption are not the same thing. This might not be news to you but it was to me. Redemption is when Jesus died on the cross, and chose to take the weight of all man’s sin. Salvation is what humans receive when they accept redemption. Or something like that.

Well, I deviated quite a bit from Genesis 4 today, and I’ve definitely pushed my time. I hope anyone reading this is happy and enjoying their day, and if not, work through your troubles. Do not be like Cain, always a vagabond, or a fugitive. It seems like we have everything we need in this world, in this life, from our food and shelter to medicine and entertainment, but at our very core, there is a spiritual need from which we turn away. I heard a Christian radio station give the advice once to “rest in God,” and I agree. Find the love and acceptance that is always there for you. Rest and fall into the arms of God the way a child rests in the arms of its mother or father.

If nothing else, know that I am here, thinking of you, wherever in this world you may be. We may not always get along, or we may not always like each other, but we can make the decision to love and respect one another. So go forth into this day, go forth with strength and power, but go forth with humility. There is always something new to learn, and every experience is a new lesson.

Despite what anyone else says, God loves you. I love you. Whoever you are.