Week 11: The End of the Beginning

Reading

Genesis 46–50 (Israel’s reunion with Joseph, and his blessing(?) of the twelve tribes)

Questions

  • Does Jacob/Israel foresee the futures of the twelve tribes, or does he determine them? 
  • What is a blessing? 
  • Final Genesis Question: If Genesis is a story of beginnings, by the end of Genesis, what has begun?

In the closing pages of Genesis (or, on a scroll, the final little bottom portion!), Jacob-slash-Israel gives a blessing to his twelve sons, and it’s pretty intense. Here is where the futures of the Twelve Tribes are spelled out, some in more detail than others.

Your pocket guide to the Twelve Tribes:

  • Reuben: profaned the couch
  • Simeon: dispersed in Israel (he sucked)
  • Levi: same
  • Judah: ruler (big penis)
  • Zebulun: sells seashells by the sea shore
  • Issachar: becomes a serf (?!)
  • Dan: is one of the tribes, and is also like a snake
  • Gad: raided but goads, good job Gad
  • Asher: good cook
  • Naphtali: brings fawns, whatever that means
  • Joseph: BLESSED 😇 & fruitful, & hot
  • Benjamin: wolf, just like Matthew from A Discovery of Witches

The language here is super archaic, and apparently similar to Ugaritic epic poetry. Apparently, biblical translators still don’t know what some of it means!

Some final thoughts from our crew:

Belial thinks Genesis feels like a family story, and the Garden of Eden is more familiar than other things. More like “scripture” in some way.

Uriel agrees; there’s a lot less “teaching” and more narrative. We are, of course, still pre-Ten Commandments, which is pretty crazy.

Azazel questions how much of Scripture is also distance: Can anything be scripture while it’s being written? How far do we have to be?

And finally, Mammon had the brilliant idea of doing superlatives whenever we finish this insane project. That might be at the end of the Bible, or just when we get bored. Something to look forward to!


Takeaways:

Families are really messed up, and it seems like God getting involved doesn’t really help.

Gems from the Chat

But like gods people should all get along shouldn’t they?? Maybe the writers were somewhat idealistic and used the sibling metaphor to make a moral point about the sadness of inter sibling rivalry…No bc u crushed our tower and made us speak funny…that would probably make kids messed up I guess

Mephistopheles

Joseph is proto drag culture

Belial

If you believe that someone is a contemporaneous prophet then they can write scripture I guess

Azazel

Image source: Wikimedia, the Twelve Tribes Clock at the Western Wall.

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