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2010-06-24

A quick recap: Abraham wants Isaac to have a bride, but not from the women of Canaan, because he thinks they're all wicked. So, he sends his servant back to Abraham's home town in Nahor to find a bride for Isaac. I guess we are to assume that the people of Nahor are the epitome of righteousness.

Enter Rebekah's family. They sell her to a stranger whom they have no reason to trust, expecting her to be married to someone who, for all they know, could be a deranged lunatic. Then, in order to ensure they'll get their precious gold, they don't even give her a chance to say goodbye to her friends before kicking her out the door. Finally, as she's leaving to meet her fate, they bid her farewell by hoping her children will conquer their enemies. Yes, I can really see how the people of Nahor are just gentle, kind folk.

Amazingly, in a traditional Jewish weddings, the same blessings that Rebekah received are recited to the bride, namely, have millions of children, and have them conquer your enemies. How could anyone not say this is a religion of peace?

 

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Tmowlee writes:

 

And I thought they wouldn't get sentimental. Silly me.

Can they think of no better words of parting than, "I hope you have lots of kids and that they happen to be good killers." They will most likely never see her again, yet they don't seem terribly broken up about it. And they consider it more important that she has many murdurous kids. Lovely.

Ray writes:

 

Anyone could say this is not a religion of peace quite easily.

You know, had they sad "May they crush your enemies!", I bet they'd be dead in a few decades. Tyke bombs anyone?

TheAlmightyGuru writes:

 

@Ray: I'll admit it, I had to look up Tyke Bomb.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TykeBomb

Winterset writes:

 

Playing the devils advocate here for a quick moment...

In a time when barbarism was pretty constant and the family was most likely at the complete mercy of any warlord to happen by, and at a time when infant mortality and early death meant maybe half your kids if you're lucky made it to adulthood, wishing for someone to have many children and that they be able to defeat one's enemies is actually a pretty righteous wish. Other than the fact that the whole biblical context is horribly warlike one would have no reason to believe that wish indicated a tendency towards murderousness; instead I would think it could suggest defensiveness. Passive people die and get enslaved. Warriors simply die. Defenders stand a chance.

Moments over.

Mr-know-it-all writes:

 

@Winterset: Yes and no. It's true that the context was different than it is today. Or at least, what it is today for US, who have the luxury of a computer with internet to read webcomics with.
But to say they were meaning defensiveness is a stretch. The words the Guru used weren't "may you survive and never be enslaved", it was "may they CRUSH our enemies". I'm pretty sure the original word was something along the lines of "conquer".
Nobody wishes to just be safe from the warlord. They wanted to BE the warlords.

Tmowlee writes:

 

@Winterset: I think, technically, everyone here is the "devil's" advocate. :)

I agree with what Mr-know-it-all said, It clearly has an aggressive nature to it. Also I think that it's important to point out that if the bible only makes any sense in the context of it's location and time period then why is it held up as a shining example of morality today. Like it says in the description this is a blessing given to brides at traditional Jewish weddings.

TheAlmightyGuru writes:

 

The actual wording used in the KJV is, "let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them."

That's a bit more proactive than defense alone. Although, I agree that, at the time, it would be considered a nice blessing. However, I still don't think it's moral.

Winterset writes:

 

My personal opinion is much more in line with what you are all advocating. I was merely taking a contradictory stance for the hell of it. Pun considered, thought out, planned and intended, even though it's very poor.

I am made curious, however, any time someone uses KJV as a fall-back. I have to wonder what the original text, if it exists, says and how the translations are considered. Looking at it in antrhopological context suggests the "blessing" would be considered very nice to the husband. As you state, the opinion of the bride wouldn't have been considered at all. Mostly it's a death sentence to have a lot of kids. Dying during childbirth was common. "May you have a bunch of kids" is tantamount to "Get raped and die".

Within the actual context, "may your children [defeat] your [enemies]" is bound to mean something very aggressive as opposed to defensive. Defense is considered by small groups and local communities while offense is considered by powerful people and large states. Combine the commentary with the foreknowledge that the person to whom she's being sold... married... is going to inherit essentially the entire world and you have a warlord in the making.

I don't know about you folk, but any time I say I'm being a devil's advocate it means I'm about to present an opinion with which I disagree (usually strongly). If I agree with what I'm saying then I believe myself to be on the side of the angels (to continue the metaphor). Just sayin'.

TheAlmightyGuru writes:

 

@Winterset: I agree with the Devil's advocate remark!

Regarding the original bible, there is no "original" bible for two reasons. One, even our oldest source material consists entirely of copies. Two, each book of the bible underwent extensive revisions all throughout history, especially the earliest books. If you could somehow have the "original" book of Genesis appear in your hands, it would bear little resemblance to the modern Genesis, both missing large sections, and having sections that have since been redacted.

Also, while the KJV used the most reliable source material of the time (1611), several older and more accurate bible fragments have been found since then, demonstrating that the KJV has several errors.

Mr-know-it-all writes:

 

Well, yes, I do believe we all know what the idiom "devil's advocate" means. It's kind of the corollary from everybody receiving an advocate, and the fact that, in the US at the very least, if your lawyer comes to be undeniably certain that you are guilty, he cannot react on that knowledge.
This sounds stupid, but if you consider it, the alternative would be that your lawyer can stop representing you for whatever reason, while leaving the implication (or maybe stating) that you were guilty. And once your very defendant has aknowledged your guilt, who is going to find you innocent (provided, of course, that you were).

I too was arguing just for the sake of arguing. "For the sake of completeness" I would say.
The actual wording from your bible seems somewhat ambiguous, which I guess is deliberate. No point guessing, as you already noted, though I insist that Bekka's family were going for the violent angle.

Tmowlee writes:

 

Why must I insist on trying to be punny.

Winterset writes:

 

On point of fact: I said "original text", not "original bible". The bible is made up of translations of huge numbers of original texts. In many (even most) cases, these original texts do, in fact, exist somewhere although they are usually not available for public viewing. Keep in mind that I acknowledge but dismiss the fact that these original texts are most often written forms of older oral traditions. I dismiss that as it's impossible to even have exact copies of oral traditions but there can be exact copies of the original texts in their original languages.

In fact, there are several documents that have been specifically and intentionally kept out of the bible because they directly contradict the themes or prefered concepts being taught. This shows unequivocally how manipulative (as opposed to persuasive) the bible is both on its face and in its usage.

You, TAG, have often commented how the translations are probably either accidentally or intentionally flawed and that the original textual meanings could very well have been much more enlightening.

JFluffy writes:

 

well... at least they want successful grandkids.
if they were being dicks, they could say "I hope all your children are born mid-explosion."

fzslq writes:

 

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Oh the irony!