Tag Archives: Pharaoh

In this week’s Bible readings…

bricksandstraw…I stumbled across Exodus 5, where the Israelites were required, as slaves to the Egyptians, to make bricks without straw.

This was at a time when the Israelites, led by Moses and Aaron, had had it with Pharaoh’s heart, which seemed to harden at the slightest of provocation. (I mean, seriously: If someone turned water into blood, I’d capitulate, right there. It would not take a swarm of locusts and certainly not the death of babies to get me to let the Israelites go, but that’s just me talking.)

(But seriously: I’m Pharaoh! I can capture just about any one to do my dirty work, amirite?)

But back to the story, that phrase, “bricks without straw,” stuck in my head. The Israelites were being asked to do something without the proper resources. Bricks need straw, and the Israelites were doomed to fail.

In the story in Exodus, of course, they faced travails so God could show God’s power.

So we are entering a time that, to me, feels like Bizarro World. Our leader is someone I can barely stomach, and the good work that was promoted by the previous administration looks like it could be disappeared by a few strokes of a pen. We are now entering a time when we will build bricks without straw.

But I promise: We will build them. This is not the time for despair. This is time for some creative building. Onward.

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In last weeks’ reading of the Hebrew scriptures:

jacobs-burialI started this as a comment to something Leftover said, but here goes, anyway:

(As a reminder, I, the fundamentalist with Mad Bible Skills, have started re-reading the Bible, from Gen. 1, using a guide I loaded onto my phone. Obviously, people read the Bible and find different things. Here’s what I found last week:)

A man named Joseph was the favored son of a man named Jacob, and Joseph’s brothers (he had 11 of them) were jealous (not all 11 were jealous, but still). They sold him into slavery in Egypt, where through a series of twists and turns he rather quickly rose in the ranks as the Pharoah’s right-hand man. In fact, at one point, Joseph had oversight over everything but Pharoah’s wife, who tried to get him to sleep with her, falsely accused him of assault, and had him imprisoned. And he rose from there, too.

Because of Joseph’s business skills (and, by my reading of the text, the hearty backing of God), he was able to keep Egypt fed during seven years of a really tough famine. In fact, he was so good that his father — who up to now thought his son had been killed and eaten by an animal — sent his brothers to him to buy food.

(I am leaving out so much interesting detail in this retelling. For the full picture, read it yourself in Gen. 37-44. Anyhoo:)

They are reunited, even while the brothers are pretty sure Joseph is going to  take vengeance on them, and Jacob is reunited with his favorite son in Egypt, they move the whole kit and caboodle to Egypt, and it’s all cool, and then Jacob dies. Dies! (In the New International Version, Jacob uses a beautiful phrase to describe his own death: “I am about to be gathered to my people,” which to me paints a beautiful picture of what happens after we die. We get to see Grandma Marrs.)

Jacob has asked to be buried in his homeland, Canaan and the Egyptians, grateful to Jacob’s son for saving them from starvation, put Jacob’s body through the same funerary ritual they would any  monarch — 40 days of embalming (and if you want to read about stuff that includes a hook shoved up a corpse’s nose to pull out the brains, go here). Joseph asked Pharaoh if he can leave for Canaan to bury his father, and Pharaoh said of course, and sent his dignitaries along. “It was a very large company,” it says here. And if you’ve ever lost a loved one, you know how important that can be.

So Jacob, the beloved patriarch of the Israelites, was given a royal Egyptian burial, and nobody seemed angry about it. In fact, Joseph’s family appear to have been grateful that the Egyptians treated their father so respectfully, despite the obvious theological differences (still aborning, on the part of the Israelites).

That’s it. Your Bible lesson of the day, brought to you by Sister Susan.