God Is Disappointed in You: The Book of Genesis
A condensed version of the first book of the Bible, in which the human race stops being cool
In the beginning, God was lonely. He made the same mistake as a lot of men who live alone, he decided to go out and meet people. Only there weren’t any people, so he had to make his own. God created Adam and Eve to be his friends.
God built a beautiful garden in Iraq for Adam and Eve to live in. Adam and Eve spent their days running around naked and playing frisbee. They ate a lot of fruit. It was a lot like living at a Grateful Dead concert. God’s one rule was that they couldn’t eat the fruit from this magical tree he’d planted in the center of the garden. I don’t know why he put it there. It just tied the whole garden together.
Understandably, Adam and Eve were consumed with curiosity about this tree. It was just one of thousands of trees in the garden, but now they found it impossible to resist eating its magical fruit… and having a talking snake constantly goading them into it didn’t help any. So Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the forbidden tree and were immediately endowed with the knowledge of good and evil, which mostly made them uptight about nudity.
When God found out about the missing fruit, he went apeshit. He yelled at them, evicted Adam and Eve from the garden and, as extra punishment, he ordered them to become parents. This move backfired, however, because Adam and Eve simply filled the world with children who murdered each other, worshiped idols and had sex with giants, all of which really pulled God’s beard.
God was so angry that he killed off the entire human race with a giant flood. Well, not the whole human race. He gave one guy named Noah a heads up. Before the flood, Noah built an enormous boat and filled it with every species of animal he could find, which made Noah not only the world’s first sailor, he was its first animal hoarder as well. As soon as he finished packing the boat, the flood began. After forty days and nights of rain and a meat-heavy diet, the water subsided and Noah found land. When God saw the millions of dead bodies littering the ground, he wondered if maybe he’d overreacted.
So God wanted to make it right. But what could he do? What could possibly make up for killing nearly every living thing on the planet? Finally, it occurred to him. He created this really sweet rainbow as a promise to never flood the Earth again. Everyone loves rainbows, right?
The moment Noah got back on dry land, the first thing he did was to get drunk and the human race went right back to disappointing God.
God eventually found someone else he liked, though. God took a shine to a 75 year-old man named Abraham. God told Abraham that, even though he and his 90 year-old wife Sara were childless, he wanted to build a great nation out of them and that Abraham’s descendants would be his chosen people. To seal the deal, Abraham agreed to cut a tiny bit off the penis of every man who would ever be born into his family. Contracts worked differently back then.
Abraham went out into the wilderness to start his new nation. His nephew Lot tagged along, but he developed a taste for city living and left Abraham, moving his family to the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
God really hated Sodom and Gomorrah. The people there wanted to have sex with absolutely everything. They even tried to have sex with two angels God sent to warn Lot leave town. Angel rape is not how you get on God’s good side, so God incinerated the cities and all their inhabitants with fire and brimstone, except for Lot and his family, whom he let escape. But during their getaway, Lot’s wife made the mistake of turning to look back upon her burning hometown, for which God turned her into a pillar of salt, her punishment for the crime of nostalgia.
Lot’s daughters felt it was a shame that, because their mother was salt, Lot would never have a son to carry on his family name. So they got their father drunk and had sex with him until he impregnated them both, which sort of made Lot his own father-in-law.
Abraham, meanwhile, was now in his nineties, and his wife Sarah was no spring chicken, either. So far, their geriatric sex had produced nothing but loads of dislocated hips and swollen ankles. Still, God insisted that he would build a great nation out of them. But Sarah still told Abraham to sleep with her maid, so he could at least have some backup kids if God’s promise didn’t pan out. Abraham did as he was told and slept with Hagar, who soon gave birth to a son named Ishmael. Free circumcisions for everybody.
Abraham’s non-traditional family plugged along perfectly well until, against all odds, Sarah got pregnant. Abraham had finally produced a legitimate heir, whom they named Isaac. No longer needing a Plan B, Sarah made Abraham get rid of Hagar and their son Ishmael.
Sadly, Abraham loaded them up with snacks and water, and sent them out into the desert. Abraham would never see his son Ishmael again. But he took consolation in the fact that he had Isaac back at home and God had finally fulfilled his promise.
But then late one night, God woke Abraham up and ordered him to tie Isaac to an altar and to kill him as a human sacrifice, which apparently is the sort of thing God only does to people he likes.
Distraught with grief, Abraham nonetheless did what he was told. He took Isaac to the top of the mountain and tied him to the stone altar, but just when he was about to plunge his sacrificing knife into Isaac’s chest, God stopped him. Turns out it was all a test of faith, or a really vicious prank, depending on how you look at it. Abraham had chosen God’s need for a midnight snack over his son’s life, and that was all the proof God needed that this was the family for him. His chosen people.
After his narrow escape from the fake human sacrifice, Isaac grew up to be a man and had a couple of sons of his own, named Esau and Jacob. Jacob was a bit of a sugarfoot, staying at home with mom, helping her cook and clean and bake pies. Esau, on the other hand, was much more butch. He was a hunter, an outdoorsman, and as hairy as Burt Reynolds.
Esau was so hairy that Jacob tricked their father into giving him Esau’s inheritance simply by covering himself in wool. After pulling off this act of identity theft, though, Jacob was forced to lay low for several years, evading his cheated brother. On the run, Jacob came to a farm and asked if he could hang out there for a while.
“You can stay here,” the farmer said. “Just don’t be messin’ with my two daughters.”
But Jacob fell in love with his younger daughter, Rachel, and offered to work the farm for seven years in exchange for marrying her. After the seven years passed, there was a wedding, but the crafty farmer tricked Jacob into marrying his older daughter, Leah, who’d been wearing a suspiciously thick veil during the ceremony.
“But I wanted to marry Rachel,” he complained.
“That’s fine,” the farmer said. “You can marry her, too. You just gotta work the farm another seven years.”
So Jacob spent fourteen years working as a farmhand. His real rock bottom moment, though, came when he broke his arm wrestling with an angel. God changed Jacob’s name to “Israel,” which means “one who wrestles with God.” As far as I know, Israel is still the only nation named after a wrestler.
Israel and his two wives had twelve sons, one of whom was named Joseph. The other sons mostly hated Joseph and it’s hard to blame them. Joseph was clearly the favorite, was always getting the best presents from their dad, and he wasted no opportunity to remind his brothers of this fact. When he told his brothers about a dream where they were all bowing down to him, this really sent them over the edge. They threw Joseph into a pit and sold him as a slave.
“That ought to take him down a peg,” they said as the slave caravan disappeared into the distance.
But it turns out that Joseph really was better than everybody else. He was taken to Egypt as a penniless slave and within a few years, he was practically running the place. The Pharaoh had a disturbing dream in which seven plump cows emerged from the Nile and devoured seven skinny cows. Joseph explained that this meant that Egypt would have seven years of bumper crops, followed by seven years of famine. The Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of the Department of Agriculture and due to his unorthodox strategy of planning the Egyptian economy around the Pharaoh’s dreams, Egypt was spared from a horrible famine.
Not one to hold a grudge, Joseph wrote to his brothers, telling them to come live in Egypt where he was a big shot and they’d have plenty to eat. The dream had come true. His brothers would be bowing down to him, after all. As humiliating as that was, though, it was less embarrassing than starving to death. So the brothers packed up and moved to Egypt and the descendants of the of the twelve brothers would go on to become the twelve tribes of Israel.
God had made a nation out of Abraham’s ninety-year old loins. Now even when he got disgusted with the human race, there would still be one group of people he could hang out with.
“A few friends I can count on,” God told himself. “That’s all I need.”
The Book of Genesis is an excerpt from God Is Disappointed in You, written by Mark Russell with cartoons by Shannon Wheeler, in which they condense every book of the Bible to a few pages each. God Is Disappointed in You is available at powells.com and deluxe signed editions are available at both Mark and Shannon’s cute little Etsy shops. Follow Mark Russell on Twitter at @Manruss and Shannon Wheeler at @MuchCoffee.
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