Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Biblical dysfunction

I'm reading through Genesis right now. I cannot believe the dysfunction that went on in our patriarchs' families.

Genesis 30

The Sons of Jacob
1Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she became jealous of her sister; and she said to Jacob, "Give me children, or else I die."

2Then Jacob's anger burned against Rachel, and he said, "Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?"

3She said, "Here is my maid Bilhah, go in to her that she may bear on my knees, that through her I too may have children."

4So she gave him her maid Bilhah as a wife, and Jacob went in to her.

5Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son.

6Then Rachel said, "God has vindicated me, and has indeed heard my voice and has given me a son." Therefore she named him Dan.

7Rachel's maid Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son.

8So Rachel said, "With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and I have indeed prevailed." And she named him Naphtali.

9When Leah saw that she had stopped bearing, she took her maid Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife.

10Leah's maid Zilpah bore Jacob a son.

11Then Leah said, "How fortunate!" So she named him Gad.

12Leah's maid Zilpah bore Jacob a second son.

13Then Leah said, "Happy am I! For women will call me happy." So she named him Asher.

14Now in the days of wheat harvest Reuben went and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, "Please give me some of your son's mandrakes."

15But she said to her, "Is it a small matter for you to take my husband? And would you take my son's mandrakes also?" So Rachel said, "Therefore he may lie with you tonight in return for your son's mandrakes."

16When Jacob came in from the field in the evening, then Leah went out to meet him and said, "You must come in to me, for I have surely hired you with my son's mandrakes." So he lay with her that night.

17God gave heed to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son.

18Then Leah said, "God has given me my wages because I gave my maid to my husband." So she named him Issachar.

19Leah conceived again and bore a sixth son to Jacob.

20Then Leah said, "God has endowed me with a good gift; now my husband will dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons." So she named him Zebulun.

Just imagine all the horrors of family life that aren't mentioned in this bare bones account! Imagine four women, all sleeping with the same man, some desiring to, some probably forced. Pregnancy as the supreme "win" over your sister-wives, but only if it ends up being a boy. And the poor man, living in the midst of the anger and frustration of these women, not to mention being informed periodically that his masculine prowess has been purchased for the evening, like it or not.

I've grown up reading the Bible, but I still find so much of it utterly incomprehensible.


Rebecca said...

I think Genesis is an object lesson on on the greatness of God and the smallness of Man. Usually the "fathers of faith" - Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob/Israel, Joseph, are held up as good examples, but actually they are shockingly sinful - all of them! Yet over and over God is faithful to them, he keeps his promises to them, he makes covenants with them and keeps his convenants when they break their end of the bargain. I think we are supposed to recognize that they ARE sinful, but that God is great in the face of that. The hero of Genesis really is God.

Cowen Family said...

...and Jacob still had a choice once the evening was "purchased"...what if he went with "the still small voice"????? Then what would have happened?
The Bible still is the BEST book I have ever read! Silly people that say the Bible is boring. Stories that lie therein can really put some of the family drama you hear about to shame!