Read Your Bible Series - Week 14
Jacob and the Holy Smackdown
Inside the pages of the Bible exist some of the most exaggerated stories presumed to be authentic. One of the most exaggerated stories that is perfectly suited for this series is the story of Jacob - the only man on the planet who, according to the holy word of god, had the unique distinction of battling the god of the universe in a bout of vigorous, heterosexual hand to hand combat.
Never heard of it? That shouldn't be a surprise. At week fourteen, you should be realizing that by now there are a multitude of topics in the Bible that most Pastors consider too bizarre and too outlandish to cover on Sunday.
Let's begin this week with Jacob, preparing to meet with his brother Esau. Jacob had selected hundreds of goats, sheep, camels, cows and donkeys to give to his brother. Jacob then ordered his servants to look after the animals and then decided to setup camp for the night:
That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak."Okay, hold on a second. TWO WIVES?!?! Religious leaders on cable news networks told me that god intended marriage to be between one man and one woman, not one man and TWO women. What is this Bible telling our children???
Also, is it me, or did the Bible just profess that god of the Universe cheated? Jacob made sure that he was alone by ordering his two wives and two female servants on their way. I'm thinking he just needed a night to himself. Then, apparently, he did what most men did in this time frame... he "wrestled" with another man until daybreak. Now, there's nothing homoerotic about that at all because dudes love to wrestle other dudes.
And obviously Jacob was the better man that night, since the Bible says that he had the other "man" overpowered. However, since god is god, and god doesn't lose, it recognized that the best course of action was to use its infinite power to cheat its way to victory by touching poor Jacob's hip and inflicting pain.
Come on god!!! What kind of message is this sending to our children? Is this the best the maker of all energy and matter could muster? A severe muscle cramp?
Okay... now that god can finally win his totally heterosexual wrestling match, with Jacob's sweaty skin glistening in the moonlight while his masculinity slips comfortably through god's holy fingers, his muscles throbbing with each beat of Jacob's heart... Jacob grudgingly relents to the power of god:
But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."At this point, the reader is free to assign whatever meaning he or she deems appropriate for Jacob's response of, "bless me". I'm not here to judge.
The man asked him, "What is your name?"Hold on a sec... God didn't know who it was wrestling? That seems... odd.
"Jacob," he answered.
Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome."So in wrestling with the creator of the Universe, Jacob gets... what? An unsophisticated allegory and a limp? Plus, Jacob claims to have seen the "face of God" and lived! You'd think god would be generous enough to give the guy the courtesy of being able to walk normally the rest of his life.
Jacob said, "Please tell me your name."
But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there.
So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared."
The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob's hip was touched near the tendon.
Furthermore, what is it with Jacob and his incessant begging to be blessed? Has the definition of "blessed" changed since the age of goat herding?
Fine. Let's just focus on the moral of the story - if you're a man of god that has found yourself in a totally heterosexual wrestling match with the omnipotent and omnibenevolent god of Christianity, make sure you get blessed before you release it from your half-nelson.
Oh, and keep your hips clear of that magical finger. (Nothing homosexual at all in that statement.... Not in the least. Nothing to see here... Move along.)