Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Exodus: Chapter 14

A reverberating scream
to walk
in life
through the drowning deeps

Walls of blood
and walls of water

Lifted on beating wings
through breaking waters

[For full chapter, click here
Yet another chiastic closing to the story of Egypt. With the taking up of the body of Joseph, we return to his primal blessing of "the sky above, and deeps lurking below." Now the waters used to drown the Israelite babies turn around to drown who had thrown them in.
This is a chiastic return to the opening plague of blood. Once again, there is a demand to "stand" (va-yityazev); once again, Moses lifts his arm. The bloody lintel posts become the walls of water through which Israel must pass, in a continuation of the birth imagery of the previous 2 chapters.
We return as well to the initial fear of the price of freedom: "This is what we said to you in Egypt! Leave us alone, and we will work for Egypt, for it is better to work for Egypt than die in the wilderness," and Moses' contention "They will not have faith in me."
Now, after Israel passes through the breaking waters, they "have faith in God, and in Moses, his servant. The first stage of the Exodus is complete.]

Exodus 13: In Writing

engrave me as a sign on your arm
a seal on your heart
for love is stronger than memory
rolls through time's forgetful fits

between our eyes
world stirs
pregnant with mystery
of things unbreathed
that will tumble from our lips
at meeting

Fall back and feel 
the strong cradle of your arm
rock me through the deeps
my pillar of fire
burning through the night
when the dark expanse
 quivers in sleep 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Exodus: Chapter 13

Vows fulfilled

An arm for an arm
sight for sight

We will remember
and redeem

Stand in place
and dedicate

Those who open the threshold
the spaces between
and what is carried

[For full chapter, click here
"For with a strong hand, God has taken you out of Egypt"--this refrain is repeated four times, echoing the many references to hands since the dedication of Moses. We must know that there was an expression of power, power dedicated to "taking you out of Egypt"; that this was battle that had to be fought, and that created an indelible connection. This strong hand will be carried "as a sign on your hand" throughout generations, and indicates God's faithful keeping of his promises to the patriarchs.
In the aftermath of the plague of the firstborn, Moses gives over God's message to the children of Israel. The Israelite firstborn, human to animal, are paralleled to the Egyptian. The slaying of the firstborn dedicated the Israelite firstborn to God at the same moment, in a single action. All are taken--the question is the form of the taking.
This introduces the idea of pidyon, redemption: the ability to stand in the place of something else, to transfer. An impure animal's firstborn can be redeemed, replaced with an animal fit for the altar. The freeing of Israel is not by fiat, but by redemption. Being freed from "the house of slavery (beit avadim)" demands "this is the service (avoda) you must do," an exchange, not a loosening.
Other parallels to the plagues on Egypt: the Israelite's must clear leavened bread "from their borders" (gevulha), a dedication that echoes the repeated attacks on Egypt's "borders"; they must make the Exodus a "sign" on their hand, an echo of the many "signs" God put before Pharaoh; they must learn what to "see" and not to "see" must dedicate their eyes--in parallel to the signs done "before the eyes of Pharaoh."
It is both a redemption, and taking an active role. They, like Moses and Aaron, become communicators, dedicating their "mouth".
Still a focus on "leaving" and "coming" and the liminal spaces within. Memories are placed "between the eyes"; those who are dedicated are those who "open the womb" (peter reham) a return to the focus on motherhood that opened the book. This is a birth, and the womb has opened. The firstborn represent the  first steps to nationhood, and opening to communicate "when your son asks."
The chapter closes with the Israelites proving that they too can be faithful to their oaths. Joseph is at last "taken up" from Egypt, indicating that redemption has truly come. There can be reparation,  a "pidyon" of evil]

Monday, April 28, 2014

Exodus 12: In writing

Between the eves
Between the watches
At the splitting of the night

Between the days
Between the jambs
At the dripping first light

Between your teeth
a cracking bread
a bitter burst
between you lips

the yeast unrisen
the sent not sent
pressed in bloody passage

till I am heaved
from the womb
tumbling into the milky glow

See me now, between your lids
Guard me at your fingertip

Gather me in

Exodus: Chapter 12

stand in the doorway

the space and the time

Guard what you
care for

The birth of a nation

[For full chapter, click here
A chapter of new beginnings--"This month for you shall be head of all months, first of the months of the year." With new beginning, a change of tone. We have entered the realm of history rather than intimate personal stories. God now speaks to the collective, the "entire congregation of Israel" (kol adat yisrael). In place of declaration and discussion, detailed instructions of what should be done and not done, in order to preserve memory and identity "for generations."
Yet also a culmination and accentuation of the gradually escalating plagues. Pharaoh's plea "only remove this death from me!" now becomes literal death. The emphasis of "coming" (bo) and "leaving" (vayetaze) becomes here a focus on the actual doorway, the space between inside and outside. We are at the liminal transition, literally in the doorway, between past and future; night and day; slavery and nationhood.
Now Israel takes responsibility for their own redemption. It is they--rather than God--who make the "sign", they who cause a separation, they who make their own version of the first plague, painting the doorway in the "blood" that has run through the narrative since the opening of Exodus.
Yet we also have the  introduction of a new keyword:  "guard"  (hi-shamer, mishmeret). At this moment of change, a need to guard and preserve what matters; time and memory need to be held close....]

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Exodus 11: In writing

There will come a time
when I’ll see your face
when our eyes will meet
and the hard space between
will rain in bitter-sharp shards
where we stand
hands open

Would I be I without you?

Exodus: Chapter 11

The end from the beginning

Intimacy of conflict
locked together

friend and face

and close


We cried
now you will cry

[For full chapter, click here
An interlude. A strange, abrupt chapter, in which nothing actually happens. Rather it serves as a bookend, closing Moses' protracted interaction with Pharaoh, in preparation for the final blow (to be be delivered by God Himself). There is a chiastic closing to the story of Moses' mission. If God appointed Moses in response to Israel's "scream," now, at this final plague, Egypt will "scream." In this final warning, we return to Moses initial declaration to Pharaoh:  "My firstborn son, Israel. I say to you, send forth My son that he may serve Me, and if you refuse to let him go, I will kill your firstborn son."
What stands out here, in this final confrontation before the "complete" (11:1) severance,  is a strange intimacy between Israel and Egypt, the oppressors and the oppressed. Moses and Pharaoh fight each other in an exchange that--in contrast to their earlier, formal, conversations--is personal, with Moses storming out. God says: "he will send you out complete (kalla)" which can also mean "bride"--a connotation that is reenforced by the language garesh ye-garesh: "he will divorce you."   Moses, we now learn, "is great in the land of Egypt, in the eyes of Pharaoh's servants and in the eyes of the people." Israel finds "favor" in the eyes of Egypt, in an echo of the earlier intimacy between Joseph and Pharaoh. Suddenly, the children of Israel can ask of their Egyptian "friends" for silver and gold. Friendship and favor enter a relationship that seemed to consist only of blood, murder and slavery.
At this final parting of ways, the full divorce that will "separate the children of Israel", there is a bittersweet awareness of how intertwined the two nations are]

Exodus 10: In Writing

cover your eyes
block your ears
annihilate answer

but upswells 
the  rasp that haunts 
the dark that seeps

till your eyes swarm
your ears burst

an open deathhead scream

Exodus: Chapter 10

Who is seen
and who sees?

cover your eyes

darkness becomes tangible
the effect the cause

[For full chapter, click here
the implicit attack on Pharaoh's will and identity becomes explicit. "For I have strengthened his heart" says God, undermining Pharaoh's act of willful denial. We have entered the realm of narrative--"So that you will tell your sons and sons sons how I plotted (hitolalti--lit. made happen) with Egypt"--and God is the plot master, Pharaoh his character. The leitwords are "Come" and "go"--a veritable screenplay, with entrances and exits.
The plagues continue, yet gain force. We return to the swarms that opened the series (the frogs and lice), once again battering the very "boundaries" (gevulha) of Egypt. Once again, the Egyptian fears of the "rising" (va-yaal) hoards of Israelites is given concrete form in the rising swarms of locus. But now the locus "cover" the very "eye of the earth". From being a "see-er", with the plagues done before his eyes, Pharaoh becomes something to be seen: "to show (le-harot) My greatness." The locus are a living death: "Only remove this death from me."
We also move closer to the inner circle. God spoke to Moses, who spoke to Aaron, who spoke to Pharaoh. Now Moses raises his hand instead of Aaron, causing the plague.
We move from tangible plagues to the intangible, and the insidious attack is the more frightening. Pharaoh will indeed "know" that there is a God that he did not know, attacking the senses directly. The hail was characterized by beating, unbearable noise. Only when the "voices" stopped, did Pharaoh rediscover his will. The locus brought darkness as they covered the land. Now the darkness itself becomes "tangible (va-yimash)". The pressure on the senses, the attack on the self, without intermediary]

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Exodus 9: In Writing

hold tight as you fall
losing the name you held
fingers fisting your heart
an icy fire

stand on a cliff, crumbling
sound exploding your ears
root your feet
to the floundering earth
and say
I will not

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
Fleeing to yesterday
Dangling from a crook

Where will you put your heart?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Exodus: Chapter 9

Earth, water, sky
all turn against you

nothing is yours

weigh down your heart
against the terrible
lightness of being

[For full chapter, click here
If the earlier plagues attacked the underlying justifications for the crimes against the children of Israel, these middle plagues seem intended to attack Egypt's very sense of identity, "as had not been seen since Egypt became a nation."
The leitworts are "stand" "heart" and "send."
 "Go strand before Pharaoh,"  Moses and Aaron are told, and Pharaoh must watch as the very sky rains down curses. If before the water and earth turned against him, now the sky does as well, followed by fire--all four elements.
The plagues move from the outside in. The Egyptians' bodies are struck, so they can no longer "stand." Invisible, insidious death strikes their animals. Next, God promises to "send (shalakh) all my plagues on your heart," attacking your very sense of self and will. You will "know," God says, that "I have only allowed you to stand to show My power." In reality, you have nothing. This is not a battle, but a play in which you are acting a part of My choosing.  And the demonstration: the Egyptians for once are given a chance to escape the devastation of the plague, by "giving heart" to God's warning. Those who do not "give heart" leave their "servants and cattle in the field" to be destroyed. Their very will is what destroys them.
In the wake of this thundering attack, Pharaoh gives way, and promises to "send (e-shkakh)" away the children of Israel, so they will no longer "stand" in place.
But once the pressure of the incessant noise ceases, Pharaoh "hardens his heart"  and his hear becomes reflexively "strengthened." This final act o of will is also the final devastation, as Pharaoh simply fulfills "God's words in the hand of Moses."]      

Friday, April 18, 2014

Exodus 8: In Writing

water solidifies
takes feet
invades our air,
our sleep
our dreams

earth shifts
roiling beneath
raids our skin
our blood
in swarming seethe

banks of our bodies
blanketed in otherness
strangers to ourselves

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Exodus: Chapter 8

Within your borders

Your deepest fears

The swarming hoards
of Otherness

alienated from your earth

[For full chapter, click here
Consequence continues to become incarnate, as the basis of slavery is exposed, and given literal form. The stinking Nile now swarms the very hoards the Egyptians feared. If the "children of Israel" were described as "swarming (ve-yishretzu) and increased abundantly," frogs and lice now truly swarm (ve-yishretuzu) the earth. Pharaoh's fear that Israel would  "rise" (va-yaalu) and threaten the integrity of his boarders now takes literal form, as the frogs "rise" and spread throughout "your borders." This is no exodus, but rather an invasion of every inner space.
The "stench" of the children of Israel ("You have made us stink before Pharaoh, to give him a sword to destroy us"), becomes the "stench" of the dead Nile, which now spreads to the entire earth (va-tivash ha-aretz--"the earth rotted"). And the rotting earth also swarms, the very dust turning to lice.Self and non-self are mixed as the arov, the "mixed multitude," invades the Egyptian "homes." 
Pharaoh's original desire to separate Israel as an alien element, now becomes reversed,  as God "sets apart the land of Goshen" for protection: "I will put a division between your people and my people," not for slavery, but for care.]

Exodus 7: In Writing

Rising, welling between the reeds
the rocks
the trees

Blood will have blood
all you buried in the deeps
a gaping maw
from which you cannot drink

it gushes
at toe-touch
pressed by the weight
fruit burst at your heart

a stench
of cries unheard
eyes unopened
decaying death
 of fish fed on the formless
flung to the water
before they could swim

what was stillborn
beneath the waves
swells between the stones
we are the ghosts that
laden the air
a sibilant smell

Exodus: Chapter 7

There will be blood
When all the hidden
Wells to the surface

[For full chapter, click here
Transformations and marks, as reality becomes permeable, changeable.
Moses will be a 'god/power' to Pharaoh, Aaron will be his prophet, in this multi-layered world where God taken on multiple names. A chain of speech, from God, to Moses, to Aaron.
The staff "changes" things from one thing to another, as Moses returns to the liminal banks of the river where he was found as a child. The baby who was "hidden" now exposes the loss of the generation of drowned children. The waters of Egypt become blood in a graphic literal image of the genocidal crime. The very stones and trees drip blood.
If the foremen of Israel had feared that Moses "had spoiled (hevashta) our smell with Pharaoh, to give him a sword to kill us," the very waters of Egypt now rot (va-yivash), as the moral rot rises to the surface]

Monday, April 14, 2014

Exodus 6: In Writing

Short of breath
soul whistling past
crushed by the carried
dark fist in our back

spring us from beneath
the pounding weight
cradle us in your arms

Break me open
break me out
sudden sight
heard and hear
know and be known
say your name
call me
from the formless faceless masses

These are they
these are I
in all the stumbling earth within
I seek you
cry a name in the wilderness

the name we choose

Exodus: Chapter 6

What's in a name?
say my name and know
I call you by name

See and will see
hear and will be heard

I will raise the burden
and draw you out

Take and give

[For full chapter, click here
Round one in the battle against Egypt. First, the chapter returns to the thematic linkage between sight, hearing, and knowledge, restoring the connection to knowledge broken by Pharaoh's "I do not know God":  Though God did not initially make himself known by Name, " You will know that I am God".
Pharaoh's plan to crush Israel's resistance through the sheer burden of work is successful. Israel "do not listen" because of "short breath and hard work." Yet God promises to "take them out from under the burden of Egypt," removing the soul-crushing pressure that Pharaoh so consciously applied.
The most important theme is that of names. The chapter opens with God naming Himself repeatedly in a dizzying schizophrenic hall of mirrors: "I showed Myself known as El Shaddai, and with my Name I did not make Myself known to them..."The chapter closes by returning that that initial anonymous mass of the children of Israel, who had been reduced to animals, swarming across the land, this time calling them by name. Moses and Aaron must now be seen not as the children of  "a man of Levi" who married "a daughter of Levi" but as the children of Amram, who married his aunt, Yocheved. They are redefined in this context:  "These are the Aaron and Moses to whom God spoke" "these are those who spoke to Pharaoh." Redemption will begin again, now that the exhausted masses of Israel have been recalled and called by name]

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Exodus 5: In Writing

Press hard
and faith pops
slow sad moan
of a deflating balloon

sudden clout
and baby spews
warm curdled
milk vomit
slippering down

Till there are no voices
no wilderness
no closeness
no desire
only the stale stench of flaccid flesh

and splattered dreams

Exodus: Chapter 5

If it eases
Crush down

Till smell
turns tangible
as sight

I come towards you
we come towards them

[For full chapter, click here
Last chapter closed with the integration of faith, hearing, sight--an upsurge of hope. "They heard that God gad accounted (pakod)...and seen their affliction".
This chapter opens with the fall.The intimate personal name of God is undermined--"Who is God, that I should listen? I know not God, and I will not let Israel go." We are back to the original link between sight and sound and knowledge, only in the negative: no hearing and no knowledge.
God returns to being impersonal  the "power (elohei) of the Hebrews".
Slavery is openly revealed as psychological warfare. It is not the results that are desired, but the crushing of the human spirit, the "pressure" (lahatz) that God had seen. "Nirpim atem, nirpim--you are idle, idle (lit. letting go, easing. The opposite of lahatz, to hold on, apply pressure). That is why you say 'let me go and sacrifice to God.'" Work is there to squeeze away any thoughts of the divine. Life is to be reduced to the daily grind of quota (yom be-yomo)]

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Exodus 4: In Writing

There is
a breath that moves
exhaled inhaled
stirring the air
coiling danger
World is an unexpected meeting
with nothing cast down
nothing forgotten
where what you throw
returns to chase you
all the things we refuse to carry

Send me forth
living messenger
speaking words to the wind
the heaviness of the mouth
the closed lips of being

ppen to breath you in

Exodus: Chapter 4

To send forth
put words in someone's mouth
can you be another's mouth?

Complex identities
strange meetings

learning to listen

[For full chapter, click here
The chapter seamlessly continues the battle by the bush. Now Moses emerges not only as the one who "turns to see" but also as the one who fights. The same Moses who did not hesitate to smite the Egyptian and to reprimand the two Hebrews, now openly contradicts God: "they will not believe me, they will listen to me." The linkage between sight and sound that dominated the previous chapter, develops to a connection between faith and listening.
And the central leiword: sending forth. How does one act in another's stead? Moses is to act for God; Aaron is to act for Moses. A merging of identities, and for the first time in the Bible,the primal  threat of "sending forth the hand" (shelihut yad) is used in a positive sense. There is a way to extend identity without grasping what is not meant for you.
Edenic themes abound: Sending forth the hand; the serpent, and the words shared between Aaron and Moses' mouths--an echo of the creation of Man, where God "breathes in" life, and Man begins to speak)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Exodus 3: In Writing

To see and be seen
fire-flicker in the wild
pulsing to the silent beat of the heart
Take of your shoes
Stand naked on holiness
Can one call-called
And be unconsumed?


Eternity in change
burning but uneaten
blazing but still
seen in disguise

I will be
as I was
my name
in generation

turn to see
and see you looking
cover your face
for fear of sight

through water and flame
I am here
 the pressure bearing down

What is a name
to be what will be
the force that bears you
the eternity in your ear
I am your past
the names you've spoken
the words you know
the inner silence
the carrying hand
the arching arm

I am
what always was
what makes you here

Exodus: Chapter 3

To be seen
to be heard
to be known

What is in a name?

Entering history
the future is here

burning, but not consumed

[for full chapter, click here
This chapter continues with the leitwords of seeing and being seen, and the thematic emphasis on naming.
Moses is first saved by being seen by his mother and Pharaoh's daughter. His first act as an adult is to go out "and see" his brothers' suffering. Here, at this definitive moment, an angel "shows himself" (va-yera) to Moses, and Moses "turns aside to see" (ve-ereh). When God "sees" that "he has turned aside to see (lirot)", he calls to Moses by name. The encounter by the burning bush is a mutual, intimate gaze, with all the danger that implies: "and Moses covered his face, for he was afraid to gaze." Moses can be defined as the one who turns aside to look, by that extra awareness and care.
As in the introductory paragraph, gaze turns to listening,and  listening turns to knowledge, an intertwined related trio: "And God  saw...and God knew" "and God heard...and God saw...and God knew" "I have seen...and have heard their screams...for I know..."
In the intimate mutual gaze, the quest for freedom turns into a need to give the redeeming God (who until now speaks as the impersonal power, elokim) a name. : "I will be with you" turns into "I will be what I will be," which becomes " I will be" and finally turns into the personal Name of God, placed within the context of history: "the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob." This local relationship turns into "this is my name forever, and my memory for every generation." God is the God if covenant, defined by the relationship to humanity.]

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Exodus 2: In Writing

space between
time between
many days
where names and faces fade

on the banks
between water and earth
earth and sky
future and past
being and death
us and them

floating on the deeps
beneath watchful eyes
soft hands
I am
yours, and yours, and yours

the hidden of things
carried within
buried in the reeds
open it up
call me by name
see me,
and know

Exodus: Chapter 2

On the banks

drawn from the waters

between knowledge and seeing

called by name

[For full chapter, click here
We continue the strange links to the blessings that closed Genesis. Joseph's blessing were defined by incredible fertility ("blessings of breasts and womb"); and the bringing together of the upper and lower waters that flooded the world in the Deluge. Now, out of that fearful fecundity comes a single child who is laid in an ark to traverse the deeps. He echoes Joseph in his "cries". The preternatural fecundity of the previous chapter now narrows to a specific marriage, pregnancy, and birth. The drowning dangers of the Nile waters now become a source of salvation.
 The chapter opens with a mysterious, mythic no-name sequence is dominated by women: the nameless Hebrew mother who then nurses and raises the child; the "sister" (somehow older than the child that seemed to come immediately in the wake of the marriage); the "daughter of Pharaoh" with her bevy of maids. There seems to be a conspiracy of silence to save the child, whose cries tie the women together:" ve-hine naar bohe--and behold, a weeping boy"--echoing in the language used to define Joseph, the "naar" who consistently "weeps". The "daughter of Pharaoh" knows that the baby is "of the children of the Hebrews" and must suspect the identity of the Hebrew woman who offers herself as a nursemaid. Yet all she says is "take this child and nurse it, and I will give you your wages."
The child remains in an un-named liminal state, between two mothers, between water and earth, floating "on the banks" of the river.
Moses is defined as "growing" twice, two separate elements of maturity, each of which seem to define a different element of liminality. He first "grows" and is brought by his birth-mother to "Pharaoh's daughter".  This bringing is the beginning of definition: he becomes the son of "Pharaoh's daughter"--rather than floating between two mothers--and  is finally given a name (a re-introduction of names to the hitherto anonymous narrative).
The second "growing" defines him as being between two nationalities. He is "an Egyptian man," yet he goes to be with "his brothers," still seeing himself as a Hebrew.
Moses remains "in between," on the cusp of the thematic waters ("for I have drawn him from the waters"), not truly belonging anywhere)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Exodus 1: In Writing

the open fecund womb
laboring ceaslessly
we are the floating, fleeting fish
forgotten and forgetting
how to swim
falling down, down, down
under the weight of many waters
teaming with bottomless being

Exodus: Chapter 1

Blessing and curse

drowning in the deeps

wild animals
fish-like herds

turned to death

[for full chapter, click here
Exodus continues directly from Genesis, the two books bridged by the re-iteration of the names of the sons of Israel. And then the fanality: "And Joseph died, and all his brothers, and that entire generation."
The tolling of death sets the tone for a chapter that is marked by an almost preternatural fecundity on the one side, and the presence of death on the other: "the girls let live, but kill every boy."The chapter keeps developing the motifs of Jacob's final blessings in Genesis, but here they are turned to curses. The animal imagery turns into a hate of the children of Israel, who "swarm" (ve-yishretuzu) and are "like wild animals." The blessing of the "waters below" and fish-like fertility given to Joseph ("Let them be like fish in the bowels of the earth") here turns  into death by casting into the river. The ability to birth the future (nolad, yalad) is directly attacked by the order to kill "on the birthing stool" (me-yaldot, be-yaldehem, ha-yeladim), an attampt to turn the teaming womb to death. The dark undertones of the closing of Genesis come out to the open)

On to Exodus...

Basked in the warmth of completing Genesis for a day. Want to do a siyyum summing up my thoughts about the book, but think that--in time honored tradition--I will push that off until a more auspicious day, when I have enough time to breath and articulate it properly.

In the meantime, i don't want to break the momentum, so onward to Exodus it is. The truth is, I can't think of a better way to go in to Pesach, and it is a fitting end to  a day that included matzah baking...

For Exodus, I've chosen a small spiral notebook filled with brown newsprint. something in its simplicity feels right for a book that begins in slavery.

This time, I will be drawing in conte pencils. I liked the sketchy, erasable quality of pencil for Genesis, which is about a world in formation, not quite gelled into itself. For Exodus, I wanted something that continued with that primal feel, but had more permanence and complexity. I like the fact that the conte continues in monochrome, but that the addition of the white adds another level of density.
So onwards we go!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Genesis 50: In Writing

We fall
down, down, down
fronting gaping guilt

To be carried
Up, over, through

fall on your face
crags and crevice
of absence
sink in the weight of weeping
How can we carry the past?

the salt flow
bears you down the river
and up from here

I sink in a box
in a pit, in loss
reduced to essence

Can we return
a heavy camp
laden with years?
carry our load
carry our blame
 Come and come back?

I birth the future on my knees
can’t stand in place
just let the salt waves carry me
down, down

There will come a time of calling
of deeds enduring
unfurling down the road

 promise to carry me
bear the weight of account
what was sent down
must be brought up

hear my call
raise your hand
take mine

bring me forth from hence

Genesis: Chapter 50

and future oaths

the lurking deeps

Who will go up?
Who falls?

Carry me

[For full chapter, click here
This closing of Genesis also serves to introduce Exodus. A chapter full of closures, but also hints of slavery and redemption. The oath fulfilled is followed by an oath left unfulfilled, demanding answer.
Jacob is born in state back to Canaan, to be gathered in a moment of homecoming. Yet Joseph promises Pharaoh: "I will return." His hesitant request is a reminder of the fleeting of power, and a dark intimation of things to come. Though Joseph was "put" over Egypt by Pharaoh, in some ways he is still the passive object of Pharaoh's will, bound to Egypt unless granted permission to leave. And indeed, the verse specifies "The children and the animals remained behind"—in a foreshadowing of the later Pharaoh's demand for hostages.
With Jacob’s death, the binding holding the family together dissolves. “We will be your slaves,” the brothers beg, in another intimation of the awaiting enslavement. Joseph’s response not only closes this dark chapter in the family history, but also offers hope for future failures to come. The brothers ask, “Please bear (sa na) the sins of your brothers”—a prototype of Moses’ prayer in the aftermath of the Golden Calf “Please bear (sa na) the sins of this people”. Joseph responds “Do I stand in the place of God?” Failure is not irrevocable. In the end it can “be thought for good, to give life to many people."  Transgression is not erased. As in the case of the Golden Calf, there will be a process of accounting. Pakod yifkod, a precursor to God’s response to Moses: Be-yom pokdi u-pakadeti. Joseph asks a promise of restitution: you send me down here, now take me up. Undo what was done.
The book ends with this promise on hold: Joseph is put in a box, in Egypt. A reverberating cliffhanger. Going “up” from Egypt will not only be a national redemption, but also a spiritual one. Bringing Joseph up is a proof that there is restitution, that sin can be undone.]