Sunday, May 22, 2011

Were the plagues on Pharaoh because of Abram and Sarai unfair?

Plagues! Boils! Torture! Ice cream! Which one of these things is not like the other?

Sorry, I was looking at that tasty Ninja Turtle specimen from my last post and just had to find a way to fit ice cream into this blog entry as well. Carrying on, today we have yet another relevant newsletter from Answers in Genesis. This time, it's about Egypt and all that fun stuff we read about in Genesis. And you know how much I love talking about morality!
Abraham was married to his half-sister, Sarai, who, at age sixty-five, was still apparently beautiful.
I guess I can let that slide. I mean, if she's smokin' hot and still single at sixty-five then I won't hold half-incest against a brotha.
To protect himself, Abraham persuaded Sarah to lie about her marriage to him and pretend to be his sister.
Now the passage describes the rationale here being, "If I say she's my wife then he's going to kill me and take her for himself." Which is a huge compliment to her since, again, she's rockin' it out at 65 years old. This might be a reaction I would have if I could possibly be killed. Or perhaps I'd just say to Pharaoh, "this is my wife, but if you want her, take her." That way I could not lie and stay alive and acquire servants! This isn't exactly the kind of reaction I'd expect from a man who had supposedly talked to God, though. I mean, if I knew I had a universal superpower behind me that wouldn't let me die I'd probably just grab Pharaoh by the balls and tell him to give me some grain or else.

Somewhat ironic, really, how everyone in the bible who supposedly either talked to Yahweh or witnessed acts that could only have possibly been caused by him seem to still have quite shaky faith. And yet, thousands of years later, I'm chided for being an atheist because there is an "abundance" of evidence? It's almost comical, really.
Unprotected by her husband, Sarah was whisked off to Pharaoh’s harem. In exchange, Pharaoh showered Abraham with riches. Since Abraham didn’t properly protect Sarah, who was the promised mother of a new nation that would bless the whole world, God had to step in.
Well, he didn't have to, necessarily. At least, he didn't have to start right off with violence.  But who am I kidding? That's Yahweh's favorite pastime! He loves this sort of thing. If I were Yahweh, I'd probably just come down to Abraham and give him the "grab-by-the-balls" advice again. But clearly, that's much less fun.

God protected Sarah by sending “great plagues” on Pharaoh and his house.
Hmmm... I...

The Hebrew words translated as “plagues” can refer to sores or wounds and does not require them to be deadly.
Yeah, but knowing Yahweh, they probably were. Just sayin'.
Sarah was kept safe and it seems Pharaoh eventually put two and two together and figured out that the timing and scope of this disease was somehow associated with Abraham’s arrival and that Sarah was Abraham’s wife.
Yeah, just like the destruction of the twin towers were judgments on the gays and the Japanese tsunamis were judgments on the atheists! It's all so crystal clear!
Pharaoh graciously let Abraham keep all the stuff he had acquired in Egypt and summarily sent him away.
Not, I'm sure, until Abraham grabbed him by the balls and demanded that he get to take his stuff with him. Cuz that's how he rolls now.
These plagues on Pharaoh and his house were not so much a punishment as a message, but they are definitely an example of the sins of one person causing others to suffer.
My punching your face repeatedly isn't so much a punishment for your not smiling at me, but rather a message, letting you know that customer service is always important and you won't be getting my business next time unless you ask me how my day was. It's just an example of the wrongs of one person causing... actually, just you to suffer. Really, that's almost more moral, in a way. My punching you, that is. (Metaphorically, of course. I'd never punch you. I actually like you a lot!) After all, I didn't punch your manager or that guy who sits across the room from you. Nope. I only took it out on you.

But God had a different idea, apparently. "PLAGUE THEM ALL! MUAHAHAHA..." Or at least, that's how I imagined it went down. There can't have been that many scenarios since, after all, all that really happened was that Pharaoh took what he thought was a beautiful unmarried woman.
Our cursed world is full of examples of innocents suffering for the sins of others. Drunk drivers, abusive parents, pregnant women on cocaine, thieves, rapists, and murderers are but a few examples of people who cause the innocent to suffer. At least in this case, the suffering was apparently non-lethal and had a clearly-defined purpose.
And all of the examples given are people suffering because of things out of their control. A good driver couldn't anticipate that drunk person coming around the corner at 60 miles/hr in the wrong lane. A rape victim can't always escape her captor and a sleeping person may not wake up until the thieves have come and gone. However, in this biblical scenario, Yahweh would theoretically be in complete control of the situation. It would be completely unnecessary for innocents to suffer for the sins of others. Unless, of course, he wanted it to.

And obviously in this story, he did. Which is especially evil, since the only person who could theoretically be at fault here was Abraham. But did God punish him? Not according to the passage. He never got so much as a verbal reprimand. But Pharaoh and who knows else were inflicted with "serious diseases" without a legitimate explanation. AiG hasn't explained this at all but have merely attempted to lessen the moral judgment on Yahweh.

I mean, look at their last sentence. They say "at least" as if they realize that this was a totally immoral and uncalled for action on their god's part but are saying, "Hey, it could have been worse!" Which, I suppose, is true. But also totally irrelevant. Just try that in court, if you're ever in front of a jury. "Yeah, I killed a man in Reno just to watch him die. But hey, at least I didn't kill two people, amirite?" The 'at least' excuse is somewhat clever, but it will only last until the Canaanites. Or Amalekites, I forget which people groups were slaughtered first.

So what's the moral of the story? That Yahweh doesn't have any. But wait, we already knew that!