The Bible is (Not) a Guide to Moral Behavior

My Dad, a former Presbyterian missionary, used to tell amazingly creative and entertaining tales when we were kids. They were called Abbagadygooguss Stories. The main characters were Abba, Gad, Goo and Gus. Recently he went to the trouble of writing some of them down for posterity.


In one story titled 'Way Out,' Dad tells how Abba, a fictional character with an Aramaic name that sorta means 'papa', was conversing with Biblical character Gad (Gen. 30:11) who had been allotted the land east of Jordan (Num. 32). Gad, Dad wrote, was the son Jacob fathered by Zelpah, his wife's maid. And he included a biblical passage as reference (Gen. 29:24).

Good grief, I though when I read the story, my Dad made a terrible mistake. He seemed to be writing that Jacob was screwing around with his wife's maid. Not exactly a kids story. So I did a little digging, and...it's in The Book!

It seems Jacob and his Uncle Laban had a deal where if Jacob worked for 7 years he could have his Uncle's daughter, cousin Rachel, for his wife—pay before play, as it were.

But Uncle Laban wants to unload his ugly oldest daughter Leah instead of letting his younger beautiful Rachel go, so he bribes Leah into going along with the gag by giving her a slave called Zilpah as a handmaid. (In a modern version she'd get a sports car, but whatever).

So Uncle Laban tricks nephew Jacob, and secretly puts his old daughter in the wedding bed instead of the beautiful younger Rachel that Jacob had worked for 7 years to earn. Jacob (an 'only with the lights off' kinda guy, apparently) doesn't discover the old switcheroo until the morning after the honeymoon night. Of course, he's furious when he discovers he's been had, so to speak, by a bait-and-switch tactic.

But it gets weirder. Uncle Laban, shrewd negotiator that he is, calms Jacob down by agreeing that Jacob can have Rachel now—and Leah later—if Jacob works another 7 years. The beginning of time payment and direct deduction from wages programs, presumably. So Jacob (who apparently really has the hots for Rachel) ends up with two wives.

Leah has lots of kids (including Levi and Judah), and Rachel has none. Why? Because God sees that Leah is despised by Jacob, and makes her fruitful and makes the more desired Rachel barren. A mean trick on Rachel, especially for a supposedly loving God, since she's an innocent bystander and guilty only of being beautiful.

God, evidently, is trying to make a point with Jacob about the unfairness of favoritism. But remember, Jacob was tricked into having (in the Biblical sense) the wife he doesn't particularly like to begin with! Kinda hard to blame him for not being wild about ugly old Leah, when he wanted foxy young Rachel!

Anyway, Rachel is so devastated by God's magical contraception program that she talks hubby Jacob into screwing her maid Bilhah so she can have (in a distorted way of thinking) her "own" kids. The original surrogate mother experiment and the first direct deposit program. (Don't believe all this? Read Genesis 30.)

But if all this isn't weird enough, now ugly but previously fruitful Leah, who has since apparently become menopausal, talks Jacob into screwing her slave Zilpah in a misguided and unnecessary attempt to get even (she's already had six kids to Rachel's one). Jacob jumps into bed with another maid, apparently happy with all this kinky sex, and we (finally) end up with Gad.

Later, (and mind you this is not my Dad's fiction, this is right out of Genesis) in a repeat performance by Jacob and Leah, er...Zilpah actually...we also end up with Joseph, the one with the fancy coat, who becomes his father's favorite kid (here we go again).

His brother's are jealous so they beat him up, steal the coat of many colors, and sell him to slave traders. So God, who evidently doesn't have much else to do, starts meddling with things again and makes Joseph successful and handsome.

Now, in a surprising but not too unexpect plot twist given all the other hanky-pankey, Joseph's master's wife starts hitting on him...throws herself at him. He resists, good slave that he is, but she literally yanks the clothes off him and goes running around the neighborhood screaming and waving his underwear claiming he tried to rape her. Her husband., Joesph's master, buys his wife's story and has Joseph thrown in jail.

But there's a happy ending. The jailer gets to know Joseph (apparently in the Biblical sense, believe it or not, although it depends on what translation your read) and Joe ends up in charge of all the prisoners. He's shooting the bull with them one day, and they ask him if he can interpret their dreams. He says no, only God can do that, but goes ahead and does anyway, and—like any good psychic—gives them an answer they want.

Joseph gets a reputation for being a pretty darn good dream interpreter, (and now we depart slightly from the Biblical version—but only updated a bit) he hits all the morning talk shows, and becomes quite the celebrity. The Pharaoh sees him on Oprah and calls him in for a private dream interpretation session. The Pharaoh really likes Joseph's answer, and makes him Assistant Pharaoh in charge of the whole country, with all the perks. That part is in the Bible; by the way. Perhaps the first rags to riches plot line.

Anyway, the whole soap opera ends with a tender scene when Grandpa Jacob is dying, son Joseph shows up at his bedside with some of the grandkiddies Gramps has never seen (there were 70 altogether!) and makes the old man very happy. Joseph eventually dies at the ripe old age of 110 with 32,500 offspring, no less. (They don't call the fourth book of the Bible 'Numbers' fer nuttin'!)

So the "Way Out" Abbagadgygooguss story is just as it says in the Bible and certainly is way out.

TH

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