Genesis 34-36

Good morning! Today’s scripture (Genesis 34-36) begins with a dreadful story in chapter 34, the rape of Dinah. To its original Hebrew audiences, this story was perhaps a warning about the misbehavior of non-Jews (“see what trouble is caused when Shechem has his way with one of our daughters?”), or a valorization of righteous violence (“look at the lengths to which our heroes go to defend the honor of our people!”). But to my ears now, the existence of this story itself is the cause for alarm (“see what barbarity is authorized when humans divide people into the righteous ‘Us’ and the unholy ‘Them’?”). Other passages of the Bible sound like this (the end of Esther, for example), and in order to see any of this as “Good News” I have to understand it as God’s cautionary tale—right here in the Bible—of how violence begets violence, and none is righteous in the end. I prefer the softer novelization of this incident in The Red Tent, but this is the gritty Bible we have (which more closely resembles the world we have). Another chance to be thankful this is not history but religious ideology, yet also to lament that something such as this might even be practiced at all in the name of God.

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Genesis 29-30

Good morning, and congratulations on making it ten days into this Daily Bible discipline! Today’s reading continues the story of juvenile Jacob, in flight from his brother Esau after tricking him out of both birthright and firstborn-blessing. Now in Genesis 29 and 30 we see Jacob get married and have children, then grow in prosperity at the expense of his uncle Laban.

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Genesis 21-23

Good morning, and congratulations on reaching the end of this first week reading the Bible together! I’m grateful for your sustained interest, particularly since Genesis has served up such a potent mix of stories each day. Your observations, bringing in other learning and perspectives, make this a lovely and enriching experience. Thank you for your comments! Today’s reading is Genesis 21-23, where we experience the birth of the long-promised Isaac, witness its consequences for Hagar and Ishmael, journey with anguish to Isaac’s near-sacrifice at Abraham’s hand, then mark the death of Sarah.

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Genesis 11-14

Hello and thank you for sticking with the Daily Bible to this point (or for jumping in now)! Every day is a new opportunity, and if you miss a day feel free to just start again with the group even if you can’t catch up. In my experience of the life of faith, persistence is more important than perfection. Also, I’ve had several days of preaching commitments and now am in Arizona for a week of continuing education, so please bear with the scarcity of my comments in the excellent discussions of our group.

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Genesis 8-10

Good morning and welcome to Day 3 of the Daily Bible! By now you’re starting to get a sense of Genesis and this group. While such a survey of ancient texts can be daunting, I hope the presence of one another is helping you stick with it. Don’t feel like you have to agree with, defend or understand every part of what you’re reading. Look for what catches your imagination, or what brings a glint of excitement or mystery, like a crystal in the window. This experience is about building our confidence that there is treasure worth finding in the Bible, even when the going is rough. And I love that we’re able to gain more insights together—we got this!

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