“The Gospel According to Torah” 
Posted daily at
Weekly summaries also at
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Summer Reading 2018 

Reading Week from July 29
Garret Talk Tues July 31
Genesis 49-50: Mon July 30 to Sat Aug 04 


Sunday, July 29 

Sunday Summary 

Not coincidentally, my engagement with a more collective reading of Genesis, rather than with the literary devices of individuals’ stories, helped me imagine identifying with other Genesis perspectives than those of the patriarchs.  If we are children of Cain, or of Lamech, who are we? If we are descendants of Shem (Asia) or Ham (Africa), not just Japeth (Europe), how does the story change?  How do Arabs or Muslims self-identifying with Ishmael and Esau hear variations on the myths and sagas of Genesis, in Quran and tradition?  Can we be militant without being violent, defending our boundaries and identity without being oppressive or imperialist?  Is the covenant fundamentally genocidal toward ‘others’ from Aramean cousins to Hivite, Hittite, and Jebusite neighbours?  How long do we carry a grudge from ‘the old country’ of Mesopotamia or Egypt? 

For the remaining 2 days and 2 chapters of Genesis, we’ve got to bury the bones of Yaakov and Yosef, a nod to their legacies which we are invited to claim as our own.  We will carry these bones with us from Egypt into the Promised Land.  To forget them or abandon them seems ungrateful and imprudent.  What metaphorical or metonymic skeletons do we keep in our closets, to include in our baggage when we move on?  What do people typically do to construe our heritage, and construct our future? 

Monday July 30: 

Genesis Chapter 49

I wish I knew the tune to these songs.  Attributed to Yaakov on his deathbed, as if he was a seer of the future, these poetic summaries of the character and fate of each brother and their tribes is best read with a map in front of us, and with a fuller knowledge of the history that lies ahead for each region, through the historical narratives of our bible.  It echoes the earlier chapters of Genesis, and anticipates the later writings of Joshua, Judges, Samuels, Kings, Chronicles, the latter prophets, the major and minor ones.    Once more, Yaakov’s burial in Abraham’s grave is asserted, the deep root of a land claim still contentious today. 

Tuesday July 31: 

Genesis Chapter 50

One more reiteration of Yaakov’s death and burial, and one more account of Yosef’s response in and among and with the Egyptians, and one more attempt to reclaim a reconciliation among the brothers, or at least the submission of the 10 to Joseph, ties up the loose ends of Genesis.  Finally, Yosef himself dies, seeing the future of Exodus, and charging his people to bring up his bones with them when they leave (less demanding than his fathers’ disposition!)  This is the hinge already taking us to the beginning of Exodus and beyond.  You’ve done it – read and heard the entirety of Genesis again, as if for the first time!