Fishelman Work
Redemption Accomplished

פישלמן יונת השלום

The God of Genesis (2)

May 7, 2015 – In the Garden of Eden God issues a nonsensical command. Adam and Eve are severely punished for disobeying it. The forbidden fruit is good to eat. Deprived of a life of ease; humans are consigned to perpetual hard labor.
A fiercely judgmental God destroys the world in a Flood; He cannot stand the sight of evil. The Children of Noah are hardly better. They are the same old Children of Adam.
The command to Abraham to leave his people and to devote his life to God arises in a dissatisfied Source. As he wanders through Canaan and other lands, Abraham lives in sustained internal relation to a foreign voice in his mind. Abraham treats the voice as sacred.
The voice of the Commander comes intermittently to all prophets of God. The Jewish prophets are largely left alone to live their lives according to their own judgment. Apart from His unpredictable commands, God lets inspired men do what they think is best. He gives His prophets wide latitude in living and teaching. He offers (almost automatic) loving approval of what they do while they are engaged in doing His will.
God's words are His strongest weapons in a War to touch people's hearts. Without prophets, God is disarmed in His dealings with men.
God defends His prophets in the grand manner. He gives blanket approval of their lives and teachings.
Judaism has no inherent need for miracles. Men do miraculous deeds – they save themselves – by thinking and acting boldly along true emotional lines. God extends the lines by way of nonsensical commands.
Abraham is a great soldier of God because He treats the inner communications of God as sacred commands. For Abraham, God is a Commanding Officer whose word is Law.
The relation of soldier to commanding officer (a feared internal voice that issues intermittent comments and commands) is the Judaism of Genesis. The Judaism of Genesis is only about a personal relation to God.
The personal relation to God of Abraham is the core and essence of Judaism. All subsequent revelations, laws and commands, including Christianity and Islam, add up to a series of road signs pointing the way to Abraham's condition of faith.
To Pharaoh of Egypt and again to Abimelech King of Gerar, Abraham offers and delivers Sarah, his wife, for the monarch's enjoyment according to the story that Sarah is his sister. Abraham secures his personal safety and accumulates royal gifts by smoothing the way for his wife's sexual exploitation. Yet he is a prophet of God protected by God.
God does not command this behavior. Abraham makes up his own mind. God does not object.
Human ideas of good and evil tell us nothing of what God asks and expects of His servants. God invariably gets His servants in trouble. He sends His prophets on nonsensical missions that arouse opposition, enemies, envy, hatred and moral condemnation.
God begins issuing commands that do not make good human sense in the Garden of Eden. He prohibits eating fruit that is perfectly good to eat. God commands Noah to build a huge ark on dry land with no water in sight. Noah's obedience is wonderful; building the Ark is an extravagant act of faith that invites universal ridicule.
The prophet is challenged to pay no attention to what people think. He is commanded to obey an inner voice that knows many ways to communicate intelligibly.
Jacob establishes himself as the family bearer of Abraham's faith by sharp dealings. Coercion and theft from a brother, deception of a father, gives religious authority to a young man of poor reputation. Esau has done Jacob no harm. Theft is all right if it serves God's purposes.
Rachel steals household gods (symbolically charged statuettes) from among the spiritual holdings of her father, Laban, to add to the greatness of Jacob's estate. The sons of Jacob slaughter a town because their sister's honor has been compromised by a worthy young man of high place that is eager to marry her and to adopt Jacob's faith. Even the line of the messiah – especially the line of the messiah -- Perets, son of Judah, is spawned by Judah's whoring and incest.
The text of Genesis shows idol worshipping Egyptians as more discerning and fairer in their treatment of Joseph than the envious Sons of Jacob. Joseph's reckless brothers contemplate Joseph's murder before they sell him into slavery. Joseph was vain. Joseph was innocent. To be vain and innocent among brothers like these is to die young.
Exile saved Joseph's life. Exile turned Joseph into a great man. God's progress goes by way of crimes and their punishment no less than by way of righteous men doing righteous deeds.
The history of the Jewish patriarchs is riddled with personal faults, moral flaws, and bad behavior; this is all right with God. They are His soldiers. The Book of Genesis offers no easy moral clarifications or classifications. Mother Sarah acts very badly to send Hagar and her child, Ishmael, into exile.
God will make a great warrior of Ishmael. He will draw many kingdoms from his loins. The harshness of the wilderness will toughen his character. Injustice in Genesis can be more beneficial than justice.
The God of Genesis views human beings as corrupt and morally ruined. God undertakes their Redemption by way of timely interventions in the lives of the patriarchs. God swears that He will make the offspring of Abraham the eternal rulers of the Land of Israel, and He will make Abraham's influence enormous over the whole Earth.

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