20 December 2023

Scripture versus modern gossip?

On December 2, 2023, the Wall Street Journal published a column by author Katie Roiphe entitled "In Praise of Girls’ Night". Roiphe wrote, "Sometimes [women] embark on what I can only describe as elaborate gossip projects that extend over more than one meeting. These are particularly mystifying, juicy quandaries within our extended social circles. Gossip in the highest sense of the word (and probably the lowest mixed in there too). I have a feeling that if a man were to wander in for 20 minutes he might think this part of the conversation was "mean" or "brutal," but he would be missing some layers. Beneath the sharp observations, the cutting analyses and the jokes are also compassion, a deep desire to sort things through and a genuine effort to figure out how to live a good life."

I wonder if Scripture was written in this manner!

Consider Genesis 22. Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah, when very young, was to be sacrificed by Abraham according to God's command, but Isaac was spared at the last second by the angel of the Lord. If that's not already enough of a soap opera for you, proceed to Genesis 27. Isaac is, by then, old and nearly blind. Before dying, Isaac must bless one of his sons, Esau or Jacob. Since Isaac prefers the elder Esau, Isaac asks for Esau to cook dinner in preparation for the blessing. But, Isaac's wife Rebekah prefers the younger Jacob, so, while Esau is hunting, Rebekah hatches a plan for Jacob to dress in Esau's clothes and add a covering of goat skins to make Jacob seem hairy like Esau, in order to confuse the blind Isaac. Indeed, Isaac blesses Jacob and makes Jacob lord over his brothers, so there is nothing left with which to bless Esau. Esau is understandably upset and Jacob runs off to avoid getting whacked by Esau.

Of course, Katie Roiphe's essay was unrelated to Scripture, but how many times have we wandered into Scripture for 20 minutes and missed some layers? Roiphe's "desire to sort things through" and "live a good life" seem fitting for my Scripture blog. Jacob becomes an important Jewish patriarch; the twelve tribes of Israel are named after his sons, possibly in a mythical sense, but monumentally important just the same. People can act selfishly sometimes, but God's plan can be honored.

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