Exodus 3: The burning bush; Moses instructed to go to Egypt with a plan

Moses has married Zipporah, daughter of Reuel (now called Jethro), and as he carried Jethro’s flock he comes to Mt Horeb, the mountain of ha*elohim.

Exodus 3:2 – And the angel of Jehovah appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.

Moses turns to see this sight…

3:4 – And when Jehovah saw that he turned aside to see, Elohim called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.

It is at this point I have stop and ask, just what is an angel? When Jehovah and 2 of his angels appeared to Abram, they appeared as men. This time, we are told the angel is either in the fire, is the fire, or is the bush. Then ha*elohim speaks to Moses, telling him to remove his shoes because he is standing on holy ground:

3:6 – Moreover he said, I am the elohe (god) of thy father, the elohe of Abraham, the elohe of Isaac, and the elohe of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon ha*elohim.

Then Jehovah speaks:

3:7 – And Jehovah said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;

Here’s the issue I’m sure many people would have problems with in my interpretations: I am separating and making a distinction between the words of ha*elohim, Elohim, and Jehovah. You might say “Well they are one and the same” but I’ve made my argument that they are different, as posited in Genesis verse. Assuming the my argument is the case (and I WILL be able to justify it further using future biblical verse), there is no reason to deny that it is possible that there are two entities that are, in this case, working together. So I am running with it against what I was taught, and, guess what? The story still makes sense.

Jehovah continues:

3:8 – And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

Is milk and honey a metaphor for overall plenty? I don’t recall bees ever being mentioned specifically in previous verse. Wouldn’t other things be more ideal for pastoralists like the Hebrews? Flat lands, vegetation and water for the flocks, watering holes, etc.? I will assume it is a metaphor of sorts and move on…

Jehovah instructs Moses that he will go to the Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt. Moses questions Jehovah’s choice, seemingly doubting his ability to do such a great feat:

3:12 And he (Jehovah) said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve ha*elohim upon this mountain.

Now we have an instance where Jehovah uses the term ha*elohim. Note he doesn’t say “ye shall serve ME” or “ye shall serve Yahweh/Jehovah”. Moses, still doubting he would be able to convince the children of Israel posts more questions:

3:13 – And Moses said unto ha*elohim, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The elohe (god) of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?

Why would the children of Israel ask “what is his name?” to Moses? To test Moses to see if he is true? OR, is it because they’ve worshiped multiple gods in the past and want to know exactly which one is calling for them? This also shows that Moses knows little about the beliefs of his kin in Egypt and specifics about the god who has told him “I am the elohe/god of  your father.” Interesting.

What’s even more interesting is Elohim’s response, which really does not mesh at all with Genesis labels used for the god of the Israelites:

3:14 – And Elohim said unto Moses, (in response to the name question), eh-yeh; a*ser eh-yeh “I AM, WHO I AM”: and he said, Thus shalt you say unto the children of Israel, eh-yeh “I AM” has sent you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.

A couple of issues:

  • If Elohim or Jehovah were the only “God”, why would he/she/it need a name? We use names to distinguish ourselves from each other.
  • This is the first time we’ve heard the name “I AM” yet we are told that the Israelites would know it?
  • I have issues with the biblical use of words like “all” and “whole (earth)”. This verse makes it sound like EVERYONE would know this name, every living person on the planet. Is this the case? Will this statement be supported in future verse?
  • Will we see the name I AM, WHO I AM again?

Elohim then instructs Moses with the details of bringing the children of Israel out of Egypt. Moses will go to the elders, tell them that he met with their god Jehovah who has seen their affliction. They will be taken out of Egypt and given the land of the peoples previously mentioned, a land flowing with milk and honey. They will listen to Moses, and request to Pharaoh that they be allowed to leave Egypt and travel 3 days into the wilderness where they will sacrifice to Jehovah. The King of Egypt will not let it happen, Jehovah will smite the Egyptian “with his wonders” and they will eventually be let go, but not before spoiling the Egyptians of their riches.

So many questions:

  • Why would an omnipotent god need to prove himself to “his people” and their enemies with “wonders”?
  • Why would they need to be in the wilderness to sacrifice to an omnipresent god? Wouldn’t a sacrifice where they stood work?
  • It seems that Jehovah is a godly force that punishes earthly forces. NO PUNISHMENT has been attributed to Elohim up to this point. See why I think they are distinct? I also believe a trend will show that Jehovah/Yahweh is much different, if not a singular aspect, of Elohim.
  • Why would an omnipotent god need to allow his people to spoil (aka steal/take away) physical riches from the people who now hold them captive? Couldn’t he/she/it just create the riches?
    • This idea of spoiling, punishing, and expounding “wonders” all seem to be earthly, HUMAN traits
    • More evidence Jehovah, in terms of powers, is limited as a god
  • Interestingly, it is the women who will borrow of her Egyptian neighbors with the intent to take their spoils. No mention of what the men will do.

I’m still bothered by the lack of continuation and timeline of the Israelites in Exodus as it was described in Genesis. No mention of the original famine. Also, we were told the Israelites waxed greatly, while the Egyptians didn’t, so why couldn’t they just get up and go? This narrative is broken, which continues to tell me it is bordering on fictional in terms of the greatness of the Israelites versus the weakness of the Egyptians.

 

 

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Exodus 2: The birth of Moses; Moses murders; Moses in Midian

Moses was born of a Levite father and Levite mother in the days where Pharaoh had instructed the male Hebrew boys to be slain. In the often told story, Moses’ mother places a 3 month old Moses into a basket and hides him in the river among the reeds. The sister of Moses’ father stood at a distance, watching to see what would happen with the child.

  • Note: This story sets a precedence on how life was for the Hebrews living at this time, they were obviously still procreating and looking for ways to hide the evidence.
  • You want to get really into this story and are willing to take on a magical journey on how this all took place? Look at how the Book of Jasher describes this time period.

Back to the Bible proper.

Exodus 2:5 – And the daughter of the Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river’s side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrew’s children.

The Pharaoh (yet again, unnamed) only had one daughter? Plausible if she was the first born and the Pharaoh was young and just starting off on his lineage. In a giant 180 turn from Exodus 1, suddenly an Egyptian shows compassion on a Hebrew. We are talking about a baby of course so it’s one of those concepts that humans, regardless of ethnicity or race, tend to have compassion towards innocent babies. Will this daughter of Pharaoh receive special treatment for this act? Or is it yet another incident where someone treats a Hebrew well and it is overlooked?

Another note: daughter of Pharaoh was able to distinguish this child as Hebrew child. We can’t say it was because of circumcision because we know Egyptians also performed this type of mutilation. Was the child light skinned meaning he was of Hebrew lineage?

We are told he was named Moses by the Pharaoh’s daughter: “I drew him out of the water.” Is this an Egyptian language term or Hebrew? Any relation to Pharaoh Tutmose/Tutmosis? Also, we are told Moses became the Pharaoh’s daughter’s son (again, no name for the daughter?)

2:11 – And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting a Hebrew, one of his brethren. And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and him in in the sand.

Moses commits murder. If he was the son of the Pharaoh’s daughter, why would he not consider himself Egyptian? Or, again, was he a different physical specimen where he eventually knew he was not Egyptian but Hebrew? Still, it seems the intent of this verse is that Moses knew he was not Egyptian and favored his people, despite being the son of an Egyptian mother.

Apparently, even though verse says he looked this way and that way, his crime did not go unseen. In the next verses we find Moses trying to break up a fight between two Hebrews, and they turn on him:

2:14 – And he (one of the Hebrews) said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely, this thing is known.

Starting in verse 15, word got to the Pharaoh (again, this new one unnamed) so Moses flees to Midian.

Midian Edom Goshen Shur Paran Sinai Sin Moab
Assuming the Hebrews still occupied Goshen (as mentioned in Genesis) this was quite a destination for Moses to flee. Goshen was good land in the time of Joseph’s good relationship with Pharaoh but at this time we don’t know exactly where the Hebrew’s were.

In a matter of a few words, Moses travels safely to Midian, where he encounters 7 (note the number) daughters of “the” priest of Midian. Just a reminder Midian was a son of Abraham so as a Levite, he encountered his relatives. Moses defends these 7 daughters from sheepherders, allowing the daughters to draw water and water their flocks in a rapid amount of time. Reuel (note: Reu-el)  the father, priest of Midian sees this rapid event has taken place and inquires to his daughter why Moses was left without giving bread.

Apparently Moses is searched out and was happy to dwell with Reuel and takes one of his daughters as a wife: Zipporah.

Observations:

  • The daughters called Moses “an Egyptian” yet a true Egyptian (Pharaoh’s daughter) called him a Hebrew.
  • Despite the expansive time line, Moses was able to communicate with the Midianites and we don’t know what language they spoke to each other. Was there a lingua franca at the time? It’s not out of the ordinary that early peoples spoke multiple languages.

The timeline moves on:

22:23 – And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto ha*elohim by reason of the bondage. And Elohim heard their groaning, and Elohim remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And Elohim looked upon the children of Israel, and Elohim had respect unto them.

Reminder that is was Elohim that Joseph told his brothers would take them out of Egypt. The children of Israel sighed/Elohim hears. Again we don’t know which king of Egypt this is, and not sure why the author neglects to name him, but it doesn’t lend credence to the validity of this story to leave his name out.

Exodus 1: The new Hebrew generations in Egypt; the call for 1st born death. The timeline gap.

Exodus starts off with a big gap in the timeline. Genesis ends with the death of Joseph and 3 generations of his offspring being born in his lifetime. In Exodus 1 we are given a run down of the lineage of Israel in Egypt, and also told that Joseph AND his brethren have, at this point, already died.

  • Where is the rest of the history? Is it not important?
  • We had the offshoot narrative of Judah in great detail in Genesis, but nothing more with the remainder of the 12 sons?
  • Suddenly nearly day by day details of the life of the children of Israel in Egypt disappear into an entirely new narrative

In a somewhat boastful statement that begs the typical question “Is there evidence of this in the material record of the history of Egypt?” we are told:

Exodus 1:7 – And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them. Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.

Surely there would be physical evidence of this population in Egypt. This begs even more questions:

  • The famine was supposed to be for 7 years. Yet we are told multiple generations (well beyond 7 years) of children were born to Joseph AND Joseph’s generation (the 12 sons) have long passed. Why are the Hebrews still in Egypt?
  • We know the name of all the Pharaohs of Egypt because each one left a material record of themselves in some fashion. Yet we are introduced to TWO Pharaohs (or at least 1 King and 1 Pharaoh) and are NOT given specific names. Why?

There is a strong clue as to what will be occurring in future verse when the author tells us that this new king “knew not Joseph”. So we can conclude that enough time has passed that the generations of Egyptians that treated the Hebrews well were long gone, AND did not pass on any sort of knowledge, treatise, customs, on how to treat the children of Joseph and his brethren. Did the Egyptians wake up one day and suddenly ask themselves “who are these Hebrew people?”

Of course, it must be realized that this author is telling a story, forming a narrative where some facts and points are not as important in the overall scheme of things. HOWEVER, if you are trying to make a case to non-believers or potential-believers that this Bible is factual and accurate, the author(s) is not doing himself a service by omitting very important facts in the timeline.

The King of Egypt speaks out regarding the growing Hebrew population in his realm:

1:9 (King of Egypt) – And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land. Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Rameses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel. And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour:

In blue: another boastful if not fictional statement. Again, is there evidence you can beat down a population but it makes them stronger? So we can conclude the Hebrews are STILL servants/slaves to the Egyptians yet are seen as a threat. I still have to ask, why are they still slaves? Didn’t they go to Egypt for the purpose of being taken care of by Joseph for the duration of the famine (Genesis 50:21)?

Some more observations:

  • Has there ever been a factual/historical case where the slave/servant population had outnumbered and become mightier than the civilization that owned it? This looks to be the first instance of such an event being claimed. Hence, a red flag of doubt has to be raised. This author is boasting about these people with a tint of fiction that makes me raise a giant red flag.
  • The Hebrews went from being sheepherders to construction workers, after all, they built TREASURE CITIES Pithom and Rameses.
    • Surely the material record of Egypt could prove this to be true
    • Where did sheepherders and flock tenders get the skills to construct entire cities?

The Pharaoh, threatened by the waxing of this Hebrew population, calls for the death of every newborn male:

1:15 – And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiprah, and the name of the other Puah: And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. But the midwives feared Elohim*, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.

If the Pharaoh was in fear of a growing Hebrew population, why kill just the male children? Is it because the lineage of the Hebrews was passed down by the male side? A patrilineal culture? To be Hebrew you need to be of a Hebrew father? Seems to be the case, after all, many of the patriarchs in Genesis had wives that were not always of Hebrew origin. I also note that in the interlinear Hebrew translation of verse 17, “God” is translated from ha*elohim, not just elohim, for future reference.

We are told that the Hebrews are waxing great, flourishing in numbers, YET, we are told there are only TWO Hebrew midwives? Can two midwives handle a waxing population? Or is there some exaggeration going on here? It would’ve helped if we had actual numbers, however we once again run into a detail the author has chosen to omit.

The Pharaoh finds that the midwives are not doing as instructed, so he confronts them:

1:19 – And the midwives said to Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them. Therefore ha*Elohim dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty. And it came to pass, because the midwives feared Elohim, that he made them houses. And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.

So because the midwives didn’t follow the commands of the Pharaoh, he then instructs ALL of his people to cast every newborn son into the river.

First off, the two midwives are in open defiance of the Pharaoh and receive no punishment? Does this sound plausible to you? Secondly, the contrast between Hebrew and Egyptian in Genesis has done a complete 180 degree turn. NOW the Hebrews are the mighty ones and the Egyptians are weak (Pharoah’s instructions are not heeded AND while the Hebrew childbearing women are “lively”, the Egyptian women are not).

Again, does this sound plausible? Are we dealing with historical fact? Or a setup for the narrative to come where the initial facts or even any fact are of little importance? This is often the case in fictional narratives.

After reading Genesis, Exodus starts off with questions of epic importance in regards to validity. I even have to ask: Is the author of Genesis the same author as Exodus? I’m getting the feeling that they are not the same based on literary analysis and overall theme. To say this after reading only ONE chapter of Exodus means I might be in for a challenge in creating a straight and true linear connection between the validity of Genesis and Exodus.

 

Genesis: A quick redux. Genesis grade: A-

Genesis was an interesting read in that I started to find tangents and parallels taking place that I was not aware of before. I’ve heard people say the Bible is perfect, infallible, and the “word of God”. Well to be honest, I would think the word of God wouldn’t come off like a typical incomplete novel that was still in the works. Sounds critical of me to say but that is the truth. The timeline is erratic, a lot of information and data is missing, and I almost get the impression it was a series of stories squished together to try to fit into one.

Some major observations and questions I come across as I quickly review my findings:

  • Creation. Two stories and they do not match
  • Why is it important that precious stones exist in the lands where Jehovah and the Garden of Eden are placed?
  • Adam and Eve are assumed to be the first two people on earth but after reading the story again and comparing Genesis books 1 and 2, I no longer think that is the case: Cain is afraid of ‘whosoever’ he comes across will want to kill him despite the insinuation of modern translation that he is only the 3rd person on earth.
  • Elohim and Jehovah: Different traits, characteristics, actions
    • Elohim seems cosmic, universal, ethereal, spiritual “Elohim’s spirit floats over the waters”
    • Jehovah seems earthly, worldly, physical “he walks in the cool of the evening”
    • They give different instructions to Noah regarding animals to bring on the Ark and what animals they are allowed to eat
    • Elohim’s offerings are of bread and wine, oil and drink offerings
    • Jehovah’s offerings are beasts and blood, and rejected Cain’s offerings of first fruits
  • The patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Esau, the sons of Jacob and Esau) are all well off, lot’s of flocks and land. They live lives that TODAY would be considered sinful and evil
    • Lying and cheating their brethren
    • Having multiple wives, including wives of slave women
    • Having multiple children with multiple wives
    • Treating their children unequally in terms of their inheritance
    • Disobeying their fathers
    • Not paying heed to the promises of Jehovah “do not fear” yet they do and bring chaos to those around them (Pharaoh, Abimelech, etc.)
    • The non-Jehovah special lineage (Ishmael and Esau) really didn’t do anything wrong compared to their counterparts
  • There is no mention of a priesthood until we find out about Melchizedek, King Priest of the Most High God, who gives thanks with bread and wine (Jesus like) but not the blood and burning flesh of Jehovah
  • There is no mention that evil done by man is caused or influenced by the Devil/Satan.
  • Jehovah is not omnipotent or omniscient “I came to see for myself if the evil of Sodom and Gomorrah is true”
  • With all the knowledge we know about ancient Egypt, many data points are missing in the Genesis description of Egypt (Pharaoh names for example)
  • For one event to happen (the reunion of Joseph with his brothers which saves them from the drought) a WHOLE LOT of other steps were put into place to cause this event, as claimed by Joseph that it was all part of a master plan. Why would an omnipotent god need to do such a thing?
  • Big questions pop up why many of the events and geographical sites mentioned in Genesis are all big mysteries. Where is the evidence?
    • Where was the Garden of Eden and why is it not around today with Jehovah walking around it. Where is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? Where is the “flame of a sword” that protects the Tree of Life? Where are the rivers Havilah and Pishon?
    • Do we know where Sodom & Gomorrah really were?
    • Where was the Tower of Babel?
    • Did the Nephilim who were offspring of the sons of Elohim and the daughters of man leave remains behind? Why do we not know the whole story of how that took place and what happened to those that “fell” in Genesis?
    • Is there physical evidence of the great war of kings in Genesis 14? It was of a grand scale and surely something would be left behind. And where did these kings come from?
  • “Israel” was NOT monotheistic, they CLEARLY worshiped other gods, they KNEW of other gods, they POSSESSED other gods (Jacob hiding his family’s idols from Elohim)
  • The patriarchs and the 12 sons of Israel are not boasted about, they clearly are human teetering on a wickedness that modern Christians would condemn. Will this be the case in future books ahead? SPOILER ALERT: I’m jumping ahead and spoiling the narrative by saying no, they get special treatment in future books and their wickedness still exists, if not worsens. This tells me there are yet more authors with different intentions in our future.

Some odd impressions about Jehovah I took that conflict with modern church teachings that I think the bible clearly insinuates:

  • Jehovah was a surrogate father, after all it was until “he did that thing when he visited Sarai” who the bible clearly says both her AND Abraham were beyond child birthing age, did she give birth to Isaac. Was Abraham really the father when it was only by a visit from Jehovah that she gave birth? The precedent was set in Genesis 6 when we are clearly told the spiritual/heavenly beings ARE able to breed with the daughters of man.
  • Jehovah clearly starts to sound like an earthly, tribal god. His physical form means he can walk the earth but is not always on earth because other times he appears in dreams to the patriarchs. He needs physical specificity in the case of: sacrifices (he enjoys the smell of burning flesh), Sodom & Gomorrah (he needs to see the evil for himself)
  • The 12 sons of Jacob and Jacob himself were pretty wicked, yet were protected by Jehovah despite their sins.
  • Jehovah has dragon and/or volcano traits to his being and I think we will see more of this in Exodus.

The “sins” of Adam and Eve all the way down to Jacob (who admitted to the Pharaoh his days have been short and evil) do give a very humanistic aspect to these early peoples, an aspect that even modern man can associate with: deceit, family conflict, land issues, weather related catastrophes, widespread wickedness, and much more.

Some points I’m looking to get clarified in future books:

  • The devil was not accused of involvement in any of the evil actions taken by the peoples of this day (save for the serpent who people insinuate is the devil but Genesis does NOT specify this). The evil comes from man himself, no credit is giving to the devil/Satan
  • The difference between El*elyon, El Shaddai, Elohim, and Yahweh. I no longer believe they are one in the same and have multiple Genesis verses to prove my point. I’m hoping it gets clarified in further verse.
  • When the flood occurred it was (again, different reasons were mentioned pertaining to the difference between Elohim and Jehovah) because the world was overly wicked. There is NO mention of CORRECTION to keep the world from becoming overly wicked again. All we have is a flood that wiped out the wickedness but no measure to prevent it from happening again.
    • SO, BIG QUESTION: Can the world ever become as wicked as described in the pre-flood days?
    • Just how did the author(s) of Genesis define “the world”? Was it the entire globe? The middle east specifically? The eastern hemisphere which we find that not until at least 1492 people thought was the entire world?

Overall my latest study into Genesis really opened my eyes about details NOT discussed by any church officials, bible studies, or conversations with fellow Christians of many denominations. All I get from them is broad assumptions (Adam was first man; Jehovah is the only god; the patriarchs were faithful and role models).

Let me say this, the patriarchs get a big NO WAY in terms of being role models. It can not be denied that their lifestyle would not mesh with modern times, whether the lifestyle of a modern Christian or an average US citizen (polygamy is now illegal).

The big hypocrisy between modern church goers and Genesis: Today it is frowned upon, if not outright illegal, to own slave servants or to marry multiple wives. But that’s what the patriarchs did and it was not frowned upon by Jehovah or Elohim! So why do people point to Genesis and say there are things in there that we should be doing? Isn’t it all or none? Do we get to pick and choose which rules we follow listed in the bible? I know future books of the Bible are really going to hammer this point home.

There is much much more to discuss regarding Genesis, but I need to move on to Exodus for the purpose of this blog. Genesis complete. Overall status: Confused but still open to the word of the bible, not convinced modern science meshes with Genesis, but I know there are many more themes to come in future books so I move on.

I give Genesis an A- because it is absolutely fascinating, but mysterious (thanks to all the missing information) so it puts me in detective and critical thinking mode. I think there are multiple authors and multiple stories squished into one, which is glaringly obvious, but because it warrants more questions it incites my imagination and critical thinking skills in looking for more proving data. Flaming swords, magic trees, Nephilim, giant sea and land creatures (Leviathan and Behemoth), tribal war gods: sorry to say it has a Lord of the Rings feel to it all. If someone does not take it serious I can see why, it’s not that hard to see. I loved the imagery I got from it all (Jehovah, who is given no physical description, “walking” in the cool of the evening in the Garden of Eden, or the Elohim floating over the cosmic waters) so I give it an A- in terms of its effect on my mind and how I place myself in this world.

Let’s see what Exodus does.

Genesis 50: Jacob is buried in Canaan, Joseph returns to Egypt & dies

After Jacob passes away we get some insight into the interment rituals of the Egyptians that Joseph and his people also follow:

Genesis 50:2 – And Joseph commanded his servants they physicians to embalm his father: and the physicians embalmed Israel. And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned for him three score and ten days.

Is embalming the tradition of the Hebrew people of this time? Why was Isaac embalmed? If you look a bit into the embalming rituals of the Egyptians, the body was prepped for an afterlife, a belief the Egyptians had. Was this belief in an afterlife also shared by the Hebrews? I found it odd that Joseph followed the Egyptian traditions of death, considering how the Egyptians would be treated in future texts as pagans. Why was Jehovah/The Lord or Elohim/God not displeased?

Also of note, 40 days were ‘fulfilled’ for the embalming of Jacob. Similar to the 40 days of the flood, this number repeats once more.

After the embalming period is complete, Joseph asks Pharaoh to grant him leave to return to Canaan to bury his father Jacob, as Jacob had asked of him. The Pharaoh grants him leave.

50:8 – And Joseph went up to bury his father: and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt…. And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen: and it was a very great company.

Seems that the Pharaoh has done a good deed towards Joseph and his father. The mourning party ends up in Atad (beyond Jordan) where they mourn for Jacob for 7 days. Not only were the Egyptians mourning, the Canaanites who witnessed this mourning also memorialized the event by naming the place of mourning Abel-mizraim (KJV footnote: the mourning of the Egyptians.) Jacob was buried in the cave of Machpelah, which Abraham had purchased from Ephron the Hittite.

In verse 14 we see that Joseph returns to Egypt. Why not stay in Canaan? Was there nothing for him in Canaan? Was he obliged to return to Egypt because of a promise to the Pharaoh? Was the famine still strong where he would need to return to the food stores of Egypt?

In verse 15, in a somewhat rewind of the timeline, another conspiracy by the brothers of Joseph takes place:

50:15 – And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the *evil* which we did unto him.

I’d say somewhat of a state of paranoia, despite how Joseph has treated his brothers since he revealed himself, they still think (and know) they deserve to be punished for their evil actions towards Joseph. So they lie to Joseph, by sending him a messenger with a false message they say came from Jacob:

50:16 – And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying, So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the god of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.

Joseph’s reply:

50:19 – And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of Elohim? But as for you, ye thought evil against me: but Elohim meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

A couple of observations:

  • Why pile another lie on top of their previous lies to ask for forgiveness?
  • The evil mentioned so far has NOT been attributed to any Devil/Satan. In fact, at this point in the Bible, the overall theme seems to be that evil exists within man by nature, not because of the influence of an outside deity.
  • The play of events that lead up to this scene, evil and all, were meant by Elohim to bring about “good”
    • This reminds me of the distinction between Genesis Chapter 1 and 2, where we see two different creations stories.
      • The Elohim creation of 6 days, followed by a 7th day of rest
      • This creation was looked upon as “good”
    • Compare to the chaotic “creation” story of the Lord/Jehovah/Yahweh where Adam and Eve eat of the forbidden fruit and bad things begin to occur (curse upon man, curse upon women, Cain kills his brother Abel, etc.)
  • The whole ploy of famine, starvation, Joseph being sold into Egypt, his brothers entering Egypt, the distribution of stored foods, etc. was done so to “save much people alive”.
    • If there is an almighty god in power, why the need for such a ploy? Why not just end the famine?
    • Are we being told that the god in power does not have the power to end famine but does have the power to influence peoples actions to effect a certain outcome?
      • Is this a sign of an omnipotent god?
      • We are being told this by Joseph, a man, and not by Elohim/God or the Lord/Jehovah. How do we know this really was the intention?

Joseph lives to the age of 110 years old, where he lived to see the third generation of his son Ephraim’s children. He also promises to his brothers that Elohim will visit them while they are in Egypt, to bring them out of Egypt and into the land that was promised (at a cost, not just free) to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He also asks that his bones be taken out of Egypt and returned to Canaan. Joseph dies.

In another odd note that loops back to the beginning of Chapter 50, Joseph too is embalmed, and put in a “coffin”. Do we dare say it, that Joseph became an Egyptian mummy placed in an Egyptian sarcophagus?

joseph embalmed

It is at this point, despite knowing that many generations have already passed leading up to the death of Joseph: Just what do these people believe in regards to the afterlife? No mention is made, but if they are embalming themselves in the tradition of their Egyptian hosts, could we conclude they believe in an afterlife as well? Why no mention of anything at this point in the Bible?

I will have to read more to see if Joseph’s bones did return to Canaan and to see if there is any sort of afterlife for him and his ancestors.

Genesis ends. I will be doing a summary post with some observations of Genesis over all.

 

Genesis 49: Jacob foretells his 12 sons futures; Jacob dies

Jacob, on his death bed, has gathered his sons to him so he can tell them of things to come. Here is a run down per son:

Reuben – First born, Jacob’s might/beginning of his strength. Because he lay with Jacob’s concubine Bilnah (and mother of his brothers), he defiled his father’s bed/couch and he will NOT excel.

Simeon and Levi – Equal/brethren in the sense that instruments of cruelty (KJV footnote “their swords are weapons of violence”).

Genesis 49:6 – (Jacob) O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall. Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.

More study needs to be done on this particular verse. Off the bat it sounds like Jacob is trying to distance himself and his legacy from these two sons because of their violent, fierce, cruel wrath. Because of this violence, it seems as if they are destined to be broken apart in the future.

Judah – A lion’s whelp; escaped from the prey; couched as a lion.

49:10 – The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of people be. Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.

It’s amazing to see the poetic and allegorical language used here in the prophecy of Judah. It’s obviously symbolic, for what, I am at a loss. We have a scepter (as in the scepter that defines a king?) and a lawgiver that will not depart from Judah, UNTIL Shiloh come. What or who is Shiloh? The last sentence is poetic indeed, his foal (female?) is bound to the vine, his ass’s colt (male) bound to the CHOICE vine. Washing garments in wine and clothes in the blood of grapes.. isn’t this the same thing? This doublet of symbolism seems to be a literary characteristic of whoever the author is of this text. I’m sure we’ll see more in the future. When this characteristic does fade away, is that a sign we have changed authors? “His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.”: He shall prosper with plenty of wine and milk? One of the more interesting verses out of all of Genesis.

Zebulun – will dwell at the haven of the sea; a haven for ships, and his border will extend to Zidon. Interesting to note, will the children of Zebulun be coastal as Jacob as foretold?

Issachar – a strong ass couching between two burdens (interlinear translates “burdens” as “sheepholds”)

49:15 – and he (Issachar) saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.

Another difficult to translate text, with allegory that I’m sure made complete sense at the time of the writing of this text. More research needed.

Dan – will judge his people, and of the sons listed so far, is the first to be called one of the tribes of Israel.

49:17 – Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.

Serpent by the way/adder in the path, another doublet. Sounds like Dan will be an interruption to those in his way.

49:18 – I have waited for thy salvation Yahweh

Why does Jacob suddenly call out to Yahweh when describing Dan’s future? Is this a point where Jacob is starting to fade? Is this a marker we need to keep aware of? We will see.

Gad – a troop will overcome him, but will overcome in the end.

Asher – “his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties.” So just what is this “troop”?

Naphtali – a hind let loose, he gives good words

Joseph – a fruitful bough by a well, and his branches over run the wall.

49:24 – But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:)

Ok, another interlinear issue here. The phrase “mighty God of Jacob” in KJV is translated much differently than the interlinear with Hebrew. Let’s take a look at how the verse is translated interlinear:

49:24 – But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the mighty one of Jacob;

See the difference? Is this another attempt by the author to place any and all mentions of might with Jehovah/God/Elohim? In this particular case we are not given the name of one the aforementioned names, instead we are given “God of Jacob”.

mighty God mighty one
Click here for the actual interlinear translation (it does make a big difference in meaning)

I have to bring this to the forefront, either Joseph’s strong hands were given to him by the mighty God of Jacob, or his strong hands were given to him by the mighty one of Jacob (who could be just about anyone, one of his sons, etc.) Even the interlinear is capitalizing “Mighty One” but if you look at the original Hebrew, it does NOT match any of the previous words for “god”.

49:25 – Even by the god of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: The blessings of they father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.

The god of Jacob will help Joseph, and the Almighty (shad*day) will bless him. Same thing? Another doublet? Joseph so far has seemed to receive the best of the foretelling of Jacob.

Benjamin – will ravin as a wolf, in the morning he will devour his prey, and at night he will divide the spoils.

Jacob commands his sons to bury him in the cave of Ephron the Hittite, in the land of Canaan. This is the same cave where Abraham his grandfather is buried, as well as his father Isaac (and his wife Rebekah), and where Leah (Jacob’s first wife) was also buried.

The author deems it important to clarify to the reader that this land purchase was from the children of Heth.

Once Jacob finishes his commanding of his sons, he lays in his bed and dies.

Genesis 48: Jacob claims & blesses Joseph’s two eldest

Genesis 48:1 – And it came to pass after these things, that one told Joseph, Behold, thy father is sick: and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. And one told Jacob, and said, Behold, they son Joseph cometh unto thee: and Israel strengthened himself, and sat upon the bed.

Who is this mystery person called “that one”, surely everyone has a name. Is this a matter of an oral tradition being put into writing, where the oral tradition is missing some data? So rather than lie and make up a name, the author just narrowed it down to “one”. While that’s not important to the narrative, to me it’s extremely important to understand that even minor details like this, being left out, point to missing data and information in the narrative if/when transferred from oral tradition to writing.

48:3 – And Jacob said unto Joseph, God Almighty (el elyon) appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me…

Here we have mention of God Almighty aka El Elyon, not Yahweh, not Elohim. So when we look back to Genesis 35 when Jacob was in Luz aka Beth-El, we see that it was Elohim that was referenced. So is it safe to say that Elohim is El Elyon? We can’t forget that the word Elohim is *plural*. Back to the narrative:

48:5 – (Jacob to Joseph) And now they two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee in Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.

Reuben and Simeon were the two eldest sons of Jacob, mother Leah. So why does Jacob say the two eldest sons of Joseph also belong to him? In the subsequent verses Jacob tells Joseph that “thy issue” (his future seed) will belong to Joseph. The answer may lie in what happens next. Because Jacob has claimed Ephraim and Manasseh, he can now bless them.

In an odd exchange, and very similar to what happened between Isaac and Ishmael, as well as Jacob and Esau, the blessings are purposely put towards the younger of the two sons. This is explained as Jacob putting his right hand (primary hand) on Ephraim the younger.

48:15 – And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, The Angel (ham*mal*ak) which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads, and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac: and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.

I wrote this exactly how my KJV version is written. Note that the phrase “the God” is used again. In fact, where the initial God in the verse is placed, does NOT refer to any of the aforementioned names of God, it should be literally translated as “the god”. Let me reproduce this the way the interlinear translates it:

48:15 – And he blessed Joseph, and said, the god before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the god which fed me all my life long unto this day…

Why isn’t Jacob being specific, instead of using one of the names of “God” he uses the phrase “the god”?

Back to the narrative: Joseph sees that Jacob has laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, the younger, and it displeased Joseph. Joseph then lifts the right hand of Jacob off of Ephraim and tries to correct his father. As if affirming the blessing he received over his elder brother Esau, Jacob channels Yahweh/Jehovah by blessing the younger of the two.

48:20 – And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh.

Interesting to know the protocol, Joseph knows the blessing should be passed on to the eldest son, but in carrying on the broken protocol first set by Yahweh/Jehovah, Jacob blesses the younger of the two. What will the future hold for Ephraim over his eldest brother Manasseh?

48:21 – And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die: but Elohim shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers. Moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow.

Look at that last sentence. According to Jacob, he took spoils out of the hands of the Amorites through war (sword and bow) and has given Joseph “one portion above” his brothers aka double the portion to Joseph. Just what was this portion? Land? Gold/Silver? Cattle? This Amorite vs Jacob event is NOT mentioned in previous verse. Why not? Is this another instance that can prove that the Bible is INCOMPLETE? Will we see more instances? Sorry to be a spoiler but I know we will.

The Amorites were one of the original peoples of the land that is called Canaan. To reference them in verse in such a way without previous mention calls into question the wholeness of the Bible as a historical reference. For some it may be a moot point, but when we analyze the words of the characters in the Bible, especially when they make claims that they took spoil out of the hand of the Amorites, some of us do want to know the details, and by omitting these details, it raises more questions about the Bible as a true historical reference.

Genesis 47: Joseph buys Egypt; Jacob asks to be buried in Canaan

After reuniting with his father and brothers, and preparing them for the next steps, Joseph dialogues with Pharaoh. As noted in the previous chapter, the Pharaoh asks Joseph’s brothers what their occupation was. They explain they are shepherds, their land in Canaan is sore with famine, and they ask Pharaoh to let them dwell in Goshen.

Genesis 47:5 – And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and they brethren are come unto thee: The land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell: and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle.

The Pharaoh reiterates his favor to Joseph by giving him the best land of Egypt and allowing Joseph to let his kin rule over the cattle of Egypt.

47:7 And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh: and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou? And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.  And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from Pharaoh.

Jacob enters and exits the Pharaoh’s presence by blessing him. Just how did he bless him? With a ritual? A prayer? A saying? Was it a blessing of Elohim? Jehovah? Interesting that Jacob mentioned that “…evil have the days of the years of my life been…” possibly admitting to all the deceit performed on his brother Esau, his uncle Laban and his father Isaac.

Joseph’s kin are given land in Egypt, in the land of Rameses (Goshen?) The famine sounds brutal, and a new narrative forms. First we are told that all the money of Egypt was pretty much gathered/used to by food. The money ‘failed’ and the Egyptians returned begging for food, so Jacob told them to sell their cattle. A year passes, the Egyptians return and Jacob tells them to sell their land. At the end of the narrative, Joseph has pretty much purchased all of Egypt from the Egyptians for trade of food, and he commands the Egyptians from that point on that a fifth of all they produce from the seed they have purchased will belong to the Pharaoh. The Egyptians approve of the deal and affirm their servitude to the Pharaoh.

joseph sells food
Note the watermark.

Note: Joseph did not purchase the land of the priests, because they seemed to be working directly with the Pharaoh for their “portion”, so they had no need to sell their lands. I note this because the upcoming priesthood will be treated similarly.

The idea that the whole of Egypt has been sold to Pharaoh for food is a statement of epic proportion. Surely the archaeological record and Egyptian history tells us this is true?

47:29 – And the time drew nigh that Israel must die: and he called his son Joseph, and said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt.

Joseph swears he will do so, and his father prepares himself upon his bed.

Genesis 46: Israel/Jacob comes to Egypt

The wordplay in the Bible for the various “god” words/names is one of my focal points in this study. In a previous blog post I wondered about why the KJV version would put the word God/Elohim in where it wasn’t in the original Hebrew. It happened again:

Genesis 46:1 – And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beer-sheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac.

“the God” is the term, but it’s not specific. It looks like the author or translator is trying to make it specific by capitalizing the G in God. Another sleight of hand by a translator? What does the original Hebrew say?

the God beer-sheba

We have le*lo*he where we would usually have elohim. Is the translator saying “oh, this is just yet another name for God, so let’s just fix it”. Why not leave it as is according to original translation? “the god” is NOT the same as “God”. If the original intent was to state that Israel made sacrifices unto God, why not say that? Instead what we have is that he made sacrifices to the god of his father Isaac.

I’m always keen on the difference between what the Bible states that Elohim/God says vs Jehovah/the Lord says. Here’s one to note down for future reference:

Genesis 46:2 – And Elohim spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I. And he said, I am God (ha*el), the God (elo*he) of your father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation. I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.

Here is what Elohim is promising to Jacob/Israel:

  • Safe passage into Egypt
  • Make of him a great nation
  • Will go down with him into Egypt
  • Will bring him up again out of Egypt
  • Joseph will put his hand upon his eyes (close his eyelids after death?)

Will all this be fulfilled in the upcoming stories? Will there be additional details not mentioned here? So far, what Elohim has promised, seems harmless.

The remnants of Joseph’s peoples begin the journey into Egypt. The author at this time now gives the reader an exact lineage of everyone who sojourned into Egypt.

A couple of observations about the lineage description:

  • Writer notes that Er and Onan, sons of Judah, died in the land of Canaan (but not that they died at the hands of Jehovah)
  • 46:13 mentions the sons of Issachar and one of them is named Job
  • Verse 15 starts off with “These be the sons of Leah” but does not go on to name them all, only concluding with “all the souls of his sons and his daughters were thirty and tree”
    • Note that now we are talking about “souls”
    • Also note that it sounds like the writer’s intention was to name all the sons of Leah (“These be the sons…”) but never gets to them. An unfinished verse?
  • Same happens in verse 18 with the sons of Zilpah, and verse 25 with the sons of Bilhah.
  • Was this portion of this chapter hastily put together?

As Jacob enters Egypt, he sends his son Judah to meet Joseph so that they can be directed to Goshen. Joseph then takes a chariot to meet with his father Jacob, and as you can imagine, it was an emotional reunion.

joseph jacob
Joseph and Jacob reunite. This is how I imagined it when I was a child, Joseph in the garb of an Egyptian Pharaoh, and his brothers and father as shepherds

Genesis 46:31 to 34 is interesting. The Hebrews at this time were shepherds, but as the end of the chapter tells us, shepherds are an abomination to the Egyptians. Another facet of Egyptian culture at the time that history and the material record can prove?

 

Genesis 45: Joseph comes clean; Brothers reunited; Pharaoh’s great gift

Joseph breaks down emotionally in front of everyone, and sends everyone out of his room except for his brothers. His crying can be heard by the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh. He finally admits that he is Joseph, and he asks about the life of his father.

The brothers are shocked and unable to answer him. Surprisingly, Benjamin who was not part of the plot to sell Joseph to the Egyptians, also doesn’t answer.

He tells them not to grieve or be angry with themselves, because the entire scenario was the working of Elohim’s plan to preserve their lives during the 7 year famine. Every step was set up by Elohim so that Joseph would become great in Egypt and provide the key to survival of the brothers.

Genesis 45:7 – And Elohim sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So know it was not you that sent me hither, but Elohim…

Question is, how did Joseph know this to be true? We are told of Elohim appearing to Jacob in his travels, to Abraham, to Noah, but for some reason we are not given the details of Elohim’s interactions with Joseph. Did he know this from a vision? A dream? A face to face with Elohim? Again, I have to wonder if the authors intentions weren’t in the detail in the story but the over all theme.

Joseph commands his brother’s to retrieve their father, after all there are still 5 years left of famine, and by bringing his father down to Egypt, Joseph can take care of everyone during the remaining famine. He set’s aside the land of Goshen for his people, their children, the flocks and their herds.

How did the Egyptians take it all?

44:16 – And the fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh’s house, saying, Joseph’s brethren are come: and it pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Say unto thy brethren, This do ye; lade your beasts, and go, get you unto the land of Canaan. And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land. Now thou art commanded, this do ye; take you wagons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come. Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours.

Could it be said that Pharaoh’s actions are indeed a blessing to Joseph and by default, Jacob? The Pharaoh has offered him the good of all the land of Egypt! Will those who bless Jacob be blessed? What does the future hold for the Egyptians?

Also, is there archaeological record of such a journey being prepared in Egypt’s history? I doubt that such an extravagant event wouldn’t be noted. After all, a 7 year famine, a great Hebrew leader in Egypt is give then the fat of the land. Surely there’d be some material record of the matter?

The sons were given provisions for their journey. Interestingly enough, Benjamin once again receives a higher portion, not only 300 pieces of silver, but 5 changes of raiment. The sons return to Canaan and tell their father of the news.

44:28 – And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.

Finally Jacob would experience some emotional peace.