I am an atheist who has decided to read the bible, a feat that many religious people couldn't say they've done themselves. I will be revealing the flaws within it onto this page as I read through it throughout this year, a chapter at a time. I bring facts pulled right out of the bible, my own lack of belief does not alter any information presented in this blog, but of course I do post opinions. Expect posts anywhere from 1-3 times a week.
Sarah gave birth to Isaac to her own amazement and she was quite happy about it. He was circumcised, and when he was weaned Abraham held a feast. Sarah then noticed that Isaac was playing with Ishmael, the slave-born son of Abraham’s, and was disgusted. She wanted Ishmael gone along with his mother Hagar so he can’t inherit what Isaac would inherit from Abraham.
This stressed Abraham and God told him to relax and do as Sarah says, since Isaac is the one whose descendants will bear Abraham’s name. “As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a great nation of him also, since he too is your offspring.”
Abraham gave Hagar some bread and water and Ishmael, and sent her away. She roamed in the wilderness and ran out of water, so she put the child down and sat herself down. She didn’t want to see the child die. God’s messenger called to her and said the child will be given a great nation, and God opened her eyes and there was a well of water. Ishmael grew up to become an expert bowman and he married an Egyptian.
The Pact at Beer-sheba (where Hagar roamed to)
Abimelech, accompanied by his army commander Phicol, made Abraham swear honesty in the name of God, and he did. Abraham then reproached Abimelech about a well that Abimelech’s men had stolen by force, and Abimelech claimed he never heard of it.
Then Abraham gave Abimilech sheep and cattle, and they made their pact. Abraham set apart seven female lambs, and Abimelech asked why. Abraham said it was because he is trying to tell Abimelech that the well that was stolen was dug by Abraham. (The reasoning is that Beer-sheba, the name of the place where the well was, has a double meaning. One is “the well of the seven” hence seven sheep, and another “the well of the oath.”)
These passages had less wrong with them than most Genesis passages have had so far. I would first like to point out God’s blatant slur against Hagar, calling her a slave woman. Of course that is what she is, but I think it needs to be pointed out that clearly God does not love or respect everyone equally.
Apart from that, the chapter was pretty clean, and I won’t pretend it wasn’t.
So Abraham went to the Negeb region, to Gerar specifically. He told everyone that Sarah was his sister, yet again, and history repeated itself. The king took her to be his own. Then God came to him in his dream and said that he would surely die if he does not return Sarah. Abimelech, the king, pleaded it was out of good intention because he thought that Sarah was Abraham’s sister and that he is innocent. God said he knows it was done in good faith, and that God did not let him touch her because of it, and then God told him to give her back or else all of his family as well as he will die.
Abimelech gives her back and then asks why Abraham would lie and put “monstrous guilt” on his kingdom. “What were you afraid of?”
Abraham states that he thought that they would have no fear of God so they would kill Abraham for Sarah, so they lied about their relationship, even though they are technically half-siblings.
Abimelech gave them flocks, herds, and slaves and let them settle in his land. Abraham told God and God fixed all health to Abimelech and his family. He also untied his family’s wombs that he had closed.
Yet again, the breaking of a commandment for security is seen here. “Do not bear false witness,” commonly translated to “do not lie” is violated, regardless of whether or not it exists yet, because God is all-knowing, and so it is safe to say that his values have no reason to change. The translation can be skewed in terms of what you take it to mean, but that can be a discussion for another time.
But regardless of that minor detail, yet again Sarah, a woman, is treated like garbage as she is just taken. And of course slaves are traded. You may want to say “it was a different time back then, there were different values.” What I have to say to that is a complete and utter “No.” The morality is the same. People still, today, think that slaves should be utilized. Not too many, but they do still exist. People still, today, think women are merely objects. It still exists, albeit in a much smaller demographic.
But besides that, if you don’t find that to be substantial (as I know I wouldn’t) let’s look into God’s morality. Would God let this happen? Creatures he created be treated like garbage? I’ve heard some say that “the bible was inspired by God and written by man so the prejudice came from that.” I have two things wrong with that. Many of the people who claim this also believe that the Bible is holy and live by it. If it was skewed by man, then why? If a god had inspired a man to write a holy book that would survive the test of hundreds of years, don’t you think that “Human enslavement is wrong and the genders are to be respected equally” would have mentioned once or twice? Or do you think they wouldn’t have been, and this god actually feels that weaker people should be enslaved and women are merely objects? Something to think about.
I apologize for the rant, but I have one more comment to make. The mass punishment (or projected punishment) for something that was none but Abimelech’s fault is nothing new, but still unjust.
Two angels reach Sodom and come across Lot, who didn’t know they were angels. He offered them a stay at his house for the night, and although they refused he persuaded them to with his persistent urging. That night, “all the townsmen of Sodom, both young and old- all the people to the last man- closed in on the house.” All of them wanted to have sex with the two newcomers, however Lot protected them and instead offered his two virgin daughters. They refused and threatened to sodomize Lot as well, but then the angels blinded the intruders with a flash of light and shut the door.
They command Lot to get out of the city along with his family because God is going to destroy the place, however Lot’s son doesn’t believe it so he stays behind. They are told not to look back when they leave, however Lot’s wife does and she is turned to salt.
God “rained down sulphurous fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah.” The next mornign Abraham saw the entire region covered in dense smoke. According to verse 29, God was mindful of Abraham by sending Lot away from the cities he overthrew.
Moabites and Ammonites
Lot was afraid to stay in Zoar and so him and his daughters stayed in a cave. The daughters decide that since they can find no man to “unite” with them, they will each get Lot so drunk that they can both “lie with him, that we may have offspring by our father.” They do this, and the resulting children’s names were Moab and Ammon, who were the ancestors of the Moabites and Ammonites.
Ah, the famous tale of Sodom. First, allow me to touch upon the absolute ludicracy of the entire situation. Two strangers stay at a man’s house, and the entire village shows up so they can all screw them… I don’t think any more needs to be said about it. But aside from that, the fact that Lot said “No, don’t touch them, gang-rape my virgin daughters instead!” didn’t condemn him to the same fate as the butt-hungry villagers is astounding. Genesis is very clearly not a place where you can acquire any sort of moral example or guidance.
Lot’s wife’s turning to salt also bugs me, I must ask why. There was no reason she should have turned to salt. Unless the reason is that she saw God and anyone who see’s God in his actual form must die, which is a terribly stupid reason in my opinion, but that is the only possible reason one could come up with for her turning to salt.
Thirdly, as I’m sure you all saw coming, there is the blatant incest. In Genesis 9, Ham, Noah’s son, saw Noah naked purely by accident because Noah got himself drunk, and his entire life was taken from him as he was made a slave to his brothers by God. However when these two daughters purposefully intoxicate their father and then not only see him naked, but have intercourse with him twice (once each, two different nights) there is no issue. One could also say that incest is disgusting and God should never permit it, but I won’t go there because I don’t believe that and that is subjective. (I believe consensual incest is okay if it is “contracepted,” even if I do find it disturbing.)
So, Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children, so she gives Abram her maidservant, Hagar the Egyptian, to bear his child. Abram impregnates Hagar and all is well until Hagar finds out she is pregnant and then resents Sarai for it. Now because of this, Sarai abuses Hagar extensively until Hagar runs away, with Abram’s permission.
“The Lord’s messenger” (aka God in human form) asks where Hagar is going. She answers that she is running from Sarai, and she is told to go back and submit to the abuse. In return, Hagar’s descendants will be innumerable. He then added that she will bear a son named Ishmael, who will be against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Hagar is shocked that she saw God while living. When Abram turns 86 years old, Ishmael is born.
Firstly, allow me to question the decency of Abram’s adultery. Is it not in the Ten Commandments (that have not come yet) that adultery is not to be tolerated? One could argue that since the commandments weren’t in existence yet, that is irrelevant, however I have issue with that argument. If God is omnipotent, and if Divine Providence holds true, then the Ten Commandments were already figuratively set in stone (not literally, that comes later), and so Abram, God’s beloved chosen one, is a blatant sinner. Why does this have no significance? Also, Abram allowed Sarai’s abuse of Hagar without any protest, they seem like pretty decent people don’t you think?
Another question of the omnipotence of God comes when he asks Hagar why she is running, but from another point of view it could be said that this is simply for conversation with Hagar, so I will not push this point. But what comes after this is what really irks me. “Go back to your mistress and submit to her abusive treatment.” Why is this necessary? Sure, God will give her tons of children and a “wild ass of a man” for a son, but why is it necessary for Hagar to receive more beatings for this? She did nothing to deserve it.
So God told Abram “…I am your shield; I will make your reward very great.” And Abram replied that he can not be very happy without a child to be his heir, so one of his servants will have to be his heir. God replied saying that his servant Eliezer will not be his heir, and he shows him that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars. “Abram put his faith in the Lord, who credited it to him as an act of righteousness.”
Then, God demands a sacrifice of a young cow, a goat, a ram, and a turtle dove. These animals are then split in two (with the exception of the birds) and “a trance fell upon Abram, and a deep, terrifying darkness enveloped him.” Then, God prophesied that “aliens” (aka people from foreign lands) that will enslave his descendants for four hundred years, but he will bring judgement on the nation his people must serve. Abram, though, will be buried at a ripe old age.
The sun set and an oven and torch appeared. Then, God made a covenant with Abram, saying that “to your descendants I give this land” naming a handful of places including the Euphrates river and the Canaanite land.
Well, this one had me read it over a few times. Firstly, God mentions “I will make your reward very great,” where I was forced to ask “reward for what?” The only think I could think of that Abram has done thus far is take all the gifts that God had been throwing at him, and in return setting up a couple of altars.
Moving away from that fairly unimportant point, there is a couple of more extreme things I must get to. Firstly, the animal sacrifice. Constantly people look at animal sacrifices as primitive and something of ancient religions that no one in their right mind would believe, yet here it is, the first gruesome example, in Genesis 15. Animals were literally cut in half to be sacrificed for absolutely no reason. God’s own supposed creations he demanded to be slaughtered and sacrificed merely for his own pleasure. It’s sickening that people worship this fictional tyrant.
Secondly, he foretold the enslavement of Abram’s descendants. Not only did he foretell these actions and not try to put a stop to them before they happened (as we know from the story of Moses), but he also then said “I will bring judgement on the nation” that he won’t stop. So not only does create the destiny of people who aren’t even born yet so that they will enslave Abram’s descendants, but then he will judge them for it . It’s like telling someone to get your wallet then punching them for reaching into your purse.
This chapter is a chapter describing war between a handful of kings, whose names aren’t too important.
It was between a few different places, including Sodom. There were two teams of kings, and Sodom and Gomorrah were on the losing team. As they fled, the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fell into bitumen pits (tar pits) as the rest of the kings allied with them fled into the mountains.
In this war, winners take all. So possessions and supplies were taken from Sodom and Gomorrah, including Abram’s nephew, Lot. This caused some strife. Abram found out and gathered 318 of his “retainers” (servants) to pursue and defeat the captors, and he recovered the possessions and Lot, along with other captives.
The king of Sodom went to greet Abram in the King’s Valley.
The king of Salem, Melchizedek, blessed Abram in a Canaanite tradition, and Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
The king of Sodom refused goods but wanted the people, but Abram insisted on giving goods as well.
Well, what can I say about this chapter? For starters, a war was going on under God’s nose and he did nothing to intervene, when it seems he’d be so active at this point in time. He is in every other chapter at least. Other than this, though, one must wonder something else. Remember back in Genesis 11 when God created many languages so as to confuse people from making progress? There are a few discrepancies. Firstly, all these civilizations such as Sodom, Salem, Elam, Goiim, etc., were not hindered for doing the exact same thing. Why? Also, Abram is able to communicate perfectly with the kings of Sodom and Salem. Apparently that whole language problem dissipated as soon as it came.
Also, another discrepancy. Didn’t the King of Sodom die in a tar pit? Yet he spoke to Abram shortly after, unless they had appointed a new king in the time between, which is possible.
Also, Abram has 318 retainers. A man of god has an awful large amount of servants that he deployed against the king(s) who had Lot. War and hundreds of servants… seems like fairly bad behavior for God’s favorite.
So in this section, God pretty much arbitrarily selects Abram/Abraham as his favorite child. He says “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you.” Well that’s awful kind of God, isn’t it? Let’s dig a little deeper.
“I will make of you a great nation.” Didn’t God just punish people for trying to build a mere city and make a name for themselves? But when he does it it’s okay, it’s a big “do as I say and not as I do” policy. Not even a city though, a nation, and not even a name for a group of people; it’s all based off the name of a singular person, again seemingly picked without reason.
So anyway, Abram did as he was directed, and brought Lot (his brother’s son) and Sirai (his wife) along with “all the possessions they had accumulated” and the slaves they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for Canaan.
Woah woah woah let’s slow down a bit. I knew there was advocation of slavery in the Bible before I even opened it, but this soon? Regardless, I don’t need to say much about that, I think your own head can figure that one out.
So they get there and God gave his descendants all the land, which the Canaanites already lived in but no big deal, Abram is more special, right? Well Abram built an altar and then moved on, then built another between Bethel and Ai. “Then Abram journeyed on by stages to the Negeb.”
Abram and Sarai in Egypt
There was a famine, so Abram and Sarai went to Egypt temporarily. They lie and say that Sarai is Abram’s sister so that Abram would not be killed for Sarai. (May I add the fact of a broken, however not yet existent, commandment?) Anyways She was taken to the pharaoh to be his wife since he believed she was his sister, and Abram however was rewarded. He received “flocks and herds, male and female slaves, male and female asses, and camels.”
Again, slaves, no big deal. Should I just treat this as a normal thing from now on?
Anyway, God struck the Pharaoh and his household with severe plagues because the Pharaoh took Sarai. Not only is this cruel and unusual, but this happened because of Abram’s lie. Isn’t God, again, supposed to be all-knowing? Why punish the innocent? The Pharaoh summoned Abram and said “How could you do this to me! Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’ so that I took her for my wife? Here, then, is your wife. Take her and be gone!” A pained cry from a man innocent of the crime he was charged for.
Abram and Sarai were sent on their way with all their things.
The whole world spoke the exact same language at this point in time. Men were migrating east and came to a valley in Shinar. They built a city and tower, and then God came down to see what they had made. He said “If now, while they are one people, all speaking the same language, they have started to do this, nothing will later stop them from doing whatever they presume to do. Let us then go down and there confuse their language, so that no one will understand what another says.” And so he scattered them linguistically and they couldn’t continue building the city.
So, basically, God had saw that men were creating civilization and progressing, and said “Hey they have the ability to create and do as they wish” and so he took away that ability by cutting off their communication. May I ask why? That’s absolutely repugnant. The fine-print explanation my version of the Bible offers for this says that “It illustrates man’s increasing wickedness, shown here in his presumptuous effort to create an urban culture apart from God.” So, man creates good living conditions and a city for them to live in, and that is wicked. Creating a place for many to live and advancing architecturally is presumptuous. I beg to differ.
The Line from Shem to Abraham
This section is exactly what the title says. This section of the chapter describes a genealogy from Shem down to Abraham (whose birth name was Abram), complete with obscenely long lives, all of which except for one outlived the previous 120-year life limit set on man by God. However at this point, I’m just going to say “fuck it” and assume that God kind of just took that back. This section ends with Terah, son of Nahor, becoming father of Abram, Nahor (I assume a different Nahor named after his father Terah’s father), and Haran.
II: The Patriarch Abraham: Terah.
This sub-subsection records descendants of Terah. Haran died, Abram and Nahor took wives (Sarai and Milcah, respectively). Milcah was actually the daughter of Haran. So Nahor married his dead brother’s daughter, no big deal. Terah took Abram, Haran’s son Lot, and Sarai out of where they lived (Ur of the Chaldeans) to go to Canaan. But when they reached Haran, they settled there. Terah died in Haran.
..What? I’m confused too, don’t you worry. Wasn’t Haran a person? I followed an asterisk to an explanation of these couple of verses, and it mentions scribal harmonization. Scribal harmonization is a completely foreign term to me so I did some research and the best definition I could come up with for it is a scribal inaccuracy. Don’t quote me on it though, I’m not sure. I will assume from here on out that Haran is simply another place, and ignore the identical names, as many others do as well.
This chapter is yet another genealogy, explaining the branching out of Noah’s sons’ offspring. They created all these towns with countless names of the sons’ sons’ sons and such. The three main cities mentioned are Babylon, Erech, and Accad, all within Asshur. The first king’s name was Nimrod, and “was a mighty hunter by the grace of the LORD”.
Basically this chapter goes on to say how Shem, Ham, and Japheth’s sons all go on to inhabit the earth and really mostly the Mesopotamian area.