The Bible in GIFs: Genesis 45-46

Then they went on their way down to Egypt, and stood before Joseph…Now the men were afraid…So they went up to the steward of Joseph’s house and spoke with him at the entrance to the house. They said, “Oh, my lord, we came down the first time to buy food; and when we came to the lodging place we opened our sacks, and there was each one’s money in the top of his sack, our money in full weight. So we have brought it back with us. Moreover we have brought down with us additional money to buy food. We do not know who put our money in our sacks.”

dont-know-girl-at-a-loss

He replied, “Rest assured, do not be afraid; your God and the God of your father must have put treasure in your sacks for you; I received your money.” Then he brought Simeon out to them. When the steward had brought the men into Joseph’s house, and given them water, and they had washed their feet, and when he had given their donkeys fodder,

baby-donkey-grassWe can only hope it was this adorable

they made the present ready for Joseph’s coming at noon…When Joseph came home…He inquired about their welfare, and said, “Is your father well, the old man of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?” They said, “Your servant our father is well; he is still alive.” And they bowed their heads and did obeisance.

bow-in-respect-baseball

Then he looked up and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, and said, “Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me? God be gracious to you, my son!” With that, Joseph hurried out, because he was overcome with affection for his brother, and he was about to weep. So he went into a private room and wept there.

natalie-portman-cries-in-a-corner

Then he washed his face and came out; and controlling himself he said, “Serve the meal.” They served him by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because the Egyptians could not eat with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians.

thats_racist_animated

…So they drank and were merry with him. Then he commanded the steward of his house, “Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the top of his sack. Put my cup, the silver cup,

blackhawks-stanley-cupSecond in awesomeness only to this silver cup

in the top of the sack of the youngest, with his money for the grain.” …When they had gone only a short distance from the city, Joseph said to his steward, “Go, follow the men; and when you overtake them, say, ‘Why have you returned evil for good? Why have you stolen my silver cup? Is it not from this my lord drinks? Does he not indeed use it for divination? You have done wrong in doing this.’“

Just_be_wrong

When he overtook them, he repeated these words to them. They said to him, “Why does my lord speak such words as these? Far be it from your servants that they should do such a thing! Look, the money that we found at the top of our sacks, we brought back to you from the land of Canaan; why then would we steal silver or gold from your lord’s house? Should it be found with any one of your servants, let him die; moreover the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.”…When each one quickly lowered his sack to the ground, and each opened his sack.He searched,

Frantic-Checking

beginning with the eldest and ending with the youngest; and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. At this they tore their clothes…

hulk-shirt-tear

they returned to the city. Joseph said to them, “What deed is this that you have done? Do you not know that one such as I can practice divination?” And Judah said, “What can we say to my lord? What can we speak? How can we clear ourselves? God has found out the guilt of your servants; here we are then, my lord’s slaves”…But he said, “Far be it from me that I should do so! Only the one in whose possession the cup was found shall be my slave; but as for you, go up in peace to your father.”

peace-out-napoleon

Then Judah stepped up to him and said, “O my lord, let your servant please speak a word in my lord’s ears, and do not be angry with your servant; for you are like Pharaoh himself…His brother is dead; he alone is left of his mother’s children, and his father loves him…when he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die…please let your servant remain as a slave to my lord in place of the boy; and let the boy go back with his brothers.

I-volunteer-as-tribute

For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I fear to see the suffering that would come upon my father.” Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all those who stood by him, and…said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence.

coming-to-america-jaw-drop

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life…to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God…Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. I will provide for you there…Hurry

chef-move

Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, while Benjamin wept upon his neck. And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him…Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Say to your brothers, ‘Do this: load your animals and go back to the land of Canaan. Take your father and your households and come to me, so that I may give you the best of the land of Egypt, and you may enjoy the fat of the land…Then he sent his brothers on their way, and as they were leaving he said to them, “Do not quarrel along the way.”

spice-world-stop-arguing

So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. And they told him, “Joseph is still alive! He is even ruler over all the land of Egypt.” He was stunned; he could not believe them. But when they told him all the words of Joseph that he had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. Israel said, “Enough! My son Joseph is still alive. I must go and see him before I die.”

 

The Bible in GIFs: Genesis 43-44

When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them…And their father Jacob said to them, “I am the one you have bereaved of children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has happened to me!”

crisis

Then Reuben said to his father, “You may kill my two sons if I do not bring him back to you. Put him in my hands, and I will bring him back to you.” But he said, “My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he alone is left…

computer-says-no

when they had eaten up the grain that they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go again, buy us a little more food.” But Judah said to him, “The man solemnly warned us, saying, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.’ If you will send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food; but if you will not send him, we will not go down, for the man said to us, ‘You shall not see my face,

talk-to-the-hand

unless your brother is with you.’ Israel said, “Why did you treat me so badly as to tell the man that you had another brother?” They replied, “The man questioned us carefully about ourselves and our kindred, saying, ‘Is your father still alive? Have you another brother?’ What we told him was in answer to these questions.

publicist-question-swiftPublicists had not yet been invented.

Could we in any way know that he would say, ‘Bring your brother down’?” Then Judah said to his father Israel, “Send the boy with me, and let us be on our way, so that we may live and not die…If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever. If we had not delayed, we would now have returned twice.”

im-late-in-late

Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be so, then do this: take some of the choice fruits of the land in your bags, and carry them down as a present to the man—a little balm and a little honey,

honey

gum, resin, pistachio nuts, and almonds.

almondHopefully Joseph likes them more than she does.

Take double the money with you. Carry back with you the money that was returned in the top of your sacks; perhaps it was an oversight. Take your brother also, and be on your way again to the man; may God Almighty grant you mercy before the man”

The Bible in GIFs: Genesis 24

Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his house, who had charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh

touch-thigh-promise-t

and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live, but will go to my country and to my kindred and get a wife for my son Isaac.”

make-me-a-matchHow I imagine Isaac, listening in the background

The servant said to him, “Perhaps the woman may not be willing to follow me to this land; must I then take your son back to the land from which you came?” Abraham said to him, “See to it that you do not take my son back there. The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my birth, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your offspring I will give this land,’ he will send his angel before you,

weeping-angelDON’T BLINK

and you shall take a wife for my son from there. But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this oath of mine; only you must not take my son back there.” So the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master and swore to him concerning this matter. Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and departed, taking all kinds of choice gifts from his master;

garfield-presents

and he set out and went to Aram-naharaim, to the city of Nahor. He made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water; it was toward evening, the time when women go out to draw water. And he said, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please

oh-please

grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. I am standing here by the spring of water, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water.Let the girl to whom I shall say, ‘Please offer your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’ —let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.” Before he had finished speaking, there was Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother,

les-cousins-dangereux

coming out with her water jar on her shoulder. The girl was very fair to look upon, a virgin, whom no man had known.

virginpcterm

She went down to the spring, filled her jar, and came up. Then the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please let me sip a little water from your jar.” “Drink, my lord,” she said, and quickly lowered her jar upon her hand and gave him a drink. When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.” So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough and ran again to the well to draw, and she drew for all his camels.

camel-eats-babyVery, VERY carefully

The man gazed at her in silence to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey successful. When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold nose-ring weighing a half shekel, and two bracelets for her arms weighing ten gold shekels,

shiny-blingShe looked awesome

and said, “Tell me whose daughter you are. Is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?” She said to him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor.” She added, “We have plenty of straw and fodder and a place to spend the night.” The man bowed his head and worshiped the Lord and said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the Lord has led me on the way to the house of my master’s kin.” Then the girl ran and told her mother’s household about these things.

sex-and-the-city-gossipingLike this, but in tents

Rebekah had a brother whose name was Laban; and Laban ran out to the man, to the spring. As soon as he had seen the nose-ring, and the bracelets on his sister’s arms, and when he heard the words of his sister Rebekah, “Thus the man spoke to me,” he went to the man; and there he was, standing by the camels at the spring. He said, “Come in, O blessed of the Lord. Why do you stand outside when I have prepared the house and a place for the camels?” …Then food was set before him to eat;

i-love-food

but he said, “I will not eat until I have told my errand.” He said, “Speak on.” So he said, “I…[everything you just read above]. Now then, if you will deal loyally and truly with my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so that I may turn either to the right hand or to the left.” Then Laban and Bethuel answered, “The thing comes from the Lord; we cannot speak to you anything bad or good. Look, Rebekah is before you, take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has spoken.” When Abraham’s servant heard their words, he bowed himself to the ground before the Lord

chang-bow

When they rose in the morning, he said, “Send me back to my master.” Her brother and her mother said, “Let the girl remain with us a while, at least ten days; after that she may go.” But he said to them, “Do not delay me, since the Lord has made my journey successful; let me go that I may go to my master.” They said, “We will call the girl, and ask her.” And they called Rebekah, and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” She said, “I will.”

its-a-match

So they sent away their sister Rebekah and her nurse along with Abraham’s servant and his men. And they blessed Rebekah… Isaac went out in the evening to walk in the field; and looking up, he saw camels coming. And Rebekah looked up, and when she saw Isaac, she slipped quickly from the camel, and said to the servant, “Who is the man over there, walking in the field to meet us?”

who-dat-iggy

The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took her veil and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent. He took Rebekah, and she became his wife;

whomarriesamantheyjustmet

and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

Breaking the Cycle

Every week a large portion of churches in the world organize their worship of God around the same couple of Bible passages, picked by some learned folks to cover most of the Bible over a three-year cycle called the Revised Common Lectionary. Since I often preach them and always read ’em, I’m going to blog on the weekly passages regularly. If you have any questions about the RCL, this is a helpful resource.

My Mom once told me that her main parenting goal is to do a little better with us than was done with her. Perfect parenting is a myth, according to her – there’s too much you pass on without meaning to, too much that’s out of your control, too much you mess up before you learn better. But you can hope to build, just the tiniest bit, on whatever your parents gave to you, and hope to equip your kids to build a bit on whatever you managed.

The more dramatic version of this vision of parenting is “breaking the cycle” – noticing the patterns in our families that are deeply unhealthy, even if everything else is great, and choosing to be the first not to perpetuate them. This is the Dad who chooses not to use physical violence, the Mom who makes the effort never to berate, the Parent who actively reminds herself to not pressure the kids into her own dreams, because they see how poorly it’s worked out for everyone for generation after generation.

Jacob, the focus of this week’s Genesis Bible story, was the bearer and progenitor of a long legacy of sibling rivalry and cruelty. The whole thing started with Cain, who killed his older brother Abel. Several generations later we had Jacob’s Uncle Ishmael kicked out of the house into a desert in favor of his younger half-brother Isaac. And in this passage, Jacob is only at his Uncle Laban’s house at all because he stole his birthright and his blessing from his older twin brother Esau via Mom-assisted trickery. In a society where birth order and family trust mattered a lot, this is not a good look.

At first, it seems like sibling relations won’t be relevant or recognized in this story. Though older sister Leah has “tender eyes,” Jacob had fallen madly in love with Rachel at first sight, crying out of love for her, and asks for her hand in marriage. The seven years of labor he proposes to give in return seem like nothing. When Laban sneaks Leah in instead, having Jacob marry her against his will, and then extorts another 7 years of labor for baby sister because younger just don’t get to marry before big sisters, we could be forgiven for missing the re-occurrence of the theme in our consternation at the trickery.

But it is there – in a potentially cycle-breaking way. Though we can all agree that consensual, honest marriages would be better than this situation, by giving Jacob Leah when he expects Rachel Laban is honoring the tradition of elder over younger, securing protection for his gentle daughter in a difficult and patriarchal society, and doing it without making Leah and Rachel into enemies of each other.  He makes the choice to enforce different priorities than every previous generation.

This doesn’t change everything – no one would call the sibling relationships between Jacob & Leah & Rachel’s 12 (!) kids ideal. Joseph’s older brothers sell him into slavery, and some are willing to kill him. But they are better than what came before. Nobody dies. Everyone reconciles by the end. They restore their relationships and live in love and peace together by the end of their lives, an improvement over the uneasy detente of Jacob & Esau, the exile of Ishmael, and the death of Abel.

Things never get perfect. We are human after all. But things can get better, little bit by little bit. Whatever the worst thing is that has happened to us, or the thing we’ve done we most regret, it is something we can learn from, and use to do better next time. There’s nothing from which there can’t be recovery, and no pattern of unhealthiness in our lives or our families so ingrained that we can’t make the choice to upend it.

Be like Laban, and like Jacob. Not perfect, and sometimes not even like-able. But following God, paying attention, and doing what they can to grow just a little bit from whatever came before.