It’ll be a short post this week, because I’m finally done with Genesis! Just a million and a half sections to go.
I’m working on my Extended Essay, discussing archetypes in various religions, and I can’t help but notice a few scattered here and there. Lots of the Biblical stories echo earlier myths I’ve read elsewhere. I think I’ve already discussed the tree one, but think about Lot. They’re told not to look back, his wife does, and she turns to a pillar of salt.
Perhaps you’ve heard of Orpheus? He attempted to retrieve his wife from the underworld, but looked back and she was lost to him forever. A similar thing happened to Izanagi and Izanami, two Japanese gods. I believe there’s also a Native American legend – I don’t recall which tribe – where a chief trys to lead his wife out of the spirit world through a deep canyon path. He looks back, and the canyon shuts, barring the way to the world of the dead forever.
The point is, many Biblical stories have simply altered earlier myths to suit their needs. It’s interesting, and I suppose it makes sense. Christianity ballooned outward, picking up influences as it went. Of course, did it reach Japan before the Bible was written? Probably not, although Carl Jung has an explanation as to why those stories are similar…
But moving on. Let’s look at the Bible.
47: Joseph introduces his relatives to Pharaoh, who welcomes them. This is kind of odd, since I recall the whole evil Pharaoh bit in Exodus. Perhaps this is a different guy. Joseph holds all the food, and starving Egyptians sell their land and finally themselves for food. Poor things.
48: Jacob is ill, and blesses his son. He also blesses his grandchildren, favoring the younger brother. Joseph is displeased by this, which is ironic. Wasn’t he the one who lorded over his older brothers?
49: These sections are fairly brief, which is nice. Jacob assembles his sons and tells all of them their futures, speaking in poetry. He’s a little harsh to some of them, but they don’t seem to mind. Apparently his twelve sons represent the twelve tribes of Irael, and these stanzas describe each tribes’ histories. Then – finally, after announcing he was dying over and over – Jacob dies.
50: The Egyptians embalm Jacob, so he’s a mummy now. Cool. The old man is buried, and Joseph’s brothers worry he’ll be angry with them. However, their younger brother forgives them, and then he dies. That was quick. The time sure passes when you’re having fun… or ruling in Egypt, or whatever.