Genesis contains some worthwhile moral tales, and they are not tidy and neat. I like a story with a dark edge, a bite, and Genesis surely offers one. First and foremost: don’t piss off God. Run afoul of God’s judgment and he will wipe you out (see: the world in which Noah lived, Sodom and Gomorrah). Seems like pretty scary times. (Might help to get a warning of some kind, though.) Given how awful people seemed to be back then, maybe a little cleansing wasn’t a bad thing.
Here it might be useful to perhaps put some of this in context. First, who recorded just how bad things were? Or is this an issue of them being written, with no distinction ever considered? The stories I have heard about Sodom and Gomorrah (outside of what I just read) made it seem like it was a depraved society—the worst? Sodomites. When all those men gather outside Lot’s home and insist the two male visitors be brought out so they can have their way with them, I don’t see them as being a bunch of homosexuals looking for some fun. No, they’re not bad because they’re into gay sex; they’re bad because they’re rapists. Why isn’t this identified as the bad quality within this society? Why is the focus on their homosexual sex?
Noah’s tale is also an interesting one, wherein someone makes a decision based on faith (or simply obeying). As he built his ark, he surely had to endure skepticism from his community. Sometimes you must endure these types of things for what is right—though if someone were constructing a 450-ark, how would modern society tolerate it?
And, I’m sorry, the people of Egypt were happy to be enslaved because Joseph gave them food after taking EVERYTHING else they owned. This sounds suspiciously like a case of the victors writing history. Aren’t all slaves happy, thankful individuals, or so enslavers might believe? Listen to how slaves sing!
I was prepared to comb through a text that would be populated by good and wholesome people, doing good and wholesome deeds—these deeds would then create a primer from which people would learn. However, it seems that for the most part, Genesis is populated with ways NOT to live. People do bad things, they get punished. Some good people get tested by extreme circumstances (like being sold into slavery and jailed for years). But by and large, ancient times seemed populated with scary individuals. No wonder God was pissed off all the time.
These lessons seem very far removed from what most people today would have to endure. Though if you are looking for relief perhaps there is comfort in knowing (at least in theory) that people have endured worse than you?
Next up: Exodus. Cue the Bob Marley music.