Jacob’s Steals Two More Sons
Forgive me if this post seems a bit schizophrenic, but the next few chapters are quite chaotic containing random bits of information. Bear with me. There are a few funny sections here.
First, we start with Jacob. He is old and knows he’s going to die soon and demands the Joseph bury him in the land of Canaan. Jacob forces Joseph to swear to this promise. As death grows nearer, Joseph is called and shows up with his two boys, Manasseh and Ephraim. With a very shaky logic Jacob demands that Joseph’s two boys will be considered his own children from this point on. Yep, he just claims them as his own. Now, don’t tell me you’ve never done this.
This is a humorous and confusing passage. It’s almost as if someone forgot to write a sentence or two. Here, read for yourselves:
Jacob then said to Joseph: “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessing me, he said, ‘I will make you fertile and numerous and raise you into an assembly of tribes, and I will give this land to your descendants after you as a permanent possession.’ Your two sons, therefore, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I joined you here, shall be mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine as much as Reuben and Simeon are mine. Progeny born to you after them shall remain yours; but their heritage shall be recorded in the names of their two brothers. I do this because, when I was returning from Paddan, your mother Rachel died, to my sorrow, during the journey in Canaan.
He takes Joseph’s sons because Joseph’s mother died early? What does that have to do with anything? She was also Joseph’s own mother. Quite the sympathetic dad, huh!
There were other reasons for this, I understand, such as allowing the two boys an equal inheritance as Joseph’s brothers, but I just love the abrupt manner. It’d be like my dad saying that my son was really his. Needless to say this wouldn’t go over well, my parents being extremely conservative Christians. Come to think of it, they’d actually like this. I’ve heard it through the family grapevine that they consider my honest atheism akin to child abuse. Atheists, Satanist and child molesters all reside in the same box to them. Thank Darwin, we do not live in a biblical world. Not yet, anyway!
Then Jacob blesses the two boys but insists on giving the younger his right hand blessing. As we all know, the right hand holds a stronger blessing than the left. Yeah, yeah, and people born under the sign of Leo are strong and brave. All these little superstitions that even the Fundamentalists don’t use anymore litter the Bible. Are left handers from the devil? Why don’t biblical literalists take these passages seriously? They just pick whatever absurdity will most benefit them and run with it. I probably shouldn’t push this or there will just be more victims for the stake when stupidity finally conquers reason.
Jacob uses the right hand because he is convinced that although Manasseh will be great, Ephraim will be the greater and have descendants more numerous. Is this weird that he would know this? Absolutely not! This is another after-the-fact addition. The people writing this were obviously not present. In fact, all accounts point to this being scribed centuries or millenia later. It was originally an oral tale. Assuming any of it happened at all, the tellers just added whatever prophetic garbage they wanted. It lends their god credibility, you know. They had, by that time, already knew what had taken place. It’s pretty easy to prophesy when you can look back on events, because like any other vision, prophetic hindsight is 20/20.
One thing I’ve noticed with these patriarchs is that having multitudes of descendants is their overwhelming priority. Excuse me. I need to clarify that. Having a multitude of male descendants is the priority. By all appearances, they’d rather have goats than women.
Ok, where were we? Oh, yes.
Jacob has one more thing to give Joseph.
Then Israel said to Joseph: “I am about to die. But God will be with you and will restore you to the land of your fathers. As for me, I give to you, as to the one above his brothers, Shechem, which I captured from the Amorites with my sword and bow.”
You remember Shechem. It was that cute little village that Simeon and Judah massacred and the rest of Joseph’s kin plundered it completely. Come to think of it, they enslaved those inhabitants too. Must be a hard habit to break. I’m not sure what Joseph’s descendants are going to do with a burned out shell of a village. Maybe it was resettled, but if so why did Jacob think he had the right to give it to anyone. It always amuses me when God or one of his followers give land to his favorites. So often this land already belongs to someone else, much like the United States claiming the Louisiana Purchase for itself.
Then as now, someone simply forgot to tell the natives. Sound like a familiar story? In 3000 years, it’s sad sometimes how little we’ve changed.