Your parents told you they didn’t have favorite kids.  But God sure has favorite animals.

In The Beginning, God made the animals, and saw that they were all good.  Except one of them was a talking snake, which talked the first humans into sentience and breaking literally God’s only rule.  (Which means the snake had knowledge of good and evil already, which means the snake had already eaten from the tree!  That just hit me.)  Granted, that snake may or may not have been Satan (it’s more inferred than stated, really), the angel who led a civil war among angels and got cast out of Heaven and into Hell.  Either way, God punished all snakes forever by saying all humans and snakes would be at war forever, a war which humans usually win.  There’s a big theme of ancestry in the Bible – people are defined by who their parents were.  I think as a millennial I’m supposed to reject that, and all labels.  But our culture’s been rebelling against its parents for 55+ years, unlike most of the untold thousands of years before that.  But right or wrong, it’s in the Bible.  (That will settle the argument for some of you; the rest of you, keep writing with existential uncertainty.)

God sort of makes peace with snakes later, at least off-and-on.  The first time God shows up as or with an animal, it’s Moses’ staff turning into a snake, which eats the Egyptian magician’s snakes.  Then later, we’re not there yet but later, Moses makes a metal snake statue on a staff that can cure snakebites.  In other words, snakes symbolize the numerous, often supernatural enemies, but are overpowered by the one good snake.

After snakes, the Bible sort of toys with an evil-cows theme for a while.  When Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, he dreams of good cows (representing prophesies of plentiful food), and then 7 vile, gnarled cows come up and eat them.  If you can’t picture this, it’s because cow mouths are small, and cows are big.  I assume there were multiple bites.  The gnarly cows must’ve been thinking was so many one-time vegetarians do: “I tried living off just plants, but meat is just too good!”

Bull of Famine

The next time cows come up, it’s during “Let My People Go” – when Pharaoh won’t free the Israelites from slavery, one of the plagues is on all the livestock, which all get sick and die.  For animal rights activists reading, keep in mind animals were seen as extensions of people, like property.  You might’ve preferred a Plague of Runaway Animals where the cows escaped from bondage.  That’s okay.  That’s not the story, but if you ever get to decide a plague, you can do that.

Cows even get their own punishments – right when God starts making all the little rules after the 10 Commandments, which I hear Jesus doesn’t carry over to Christianity later.  (If you’re wondering why there are few sermons on this, it’s not because people are picking and choosing what parts of the Bible count – though that does happen too.  In this case it’s about what rules were laws for the Israelites and their personal covenant with God, as opposed to what rules were universal moral norms.  But if you want sources for this, there are countless theologians who have answered this.  Post some in the comments and I’ll put it here and give you credit.)

In the first chapter of the list of rules, Exodus 21, it says, and this verse is special enough to put on your T-shirt and screensaver:

“If a bull gores a man or woman to death, the bull is to be stoned to death, and its meat must not be eaten. But the owner of the bull will not be held responsible. If, however, the bull has had the habit of goring and the owner has been warned but has not kept it penned up and it kills a man or woman, the bull is to be stoned and its owner also is to be put to death. However, if payment is demanded, the owner may redeem his life by the payment of whatever is demanded. This law also applies if the bull gores a son or daughter. If the bull gores a male or female slave, the owner must pay thirty shekels. That is, about 12 ounces or about 345 grams of silver to the master of the slave, and the bull is to be stoned to death.” (Exodus 28-32)

Amen.

You can tell from the tone that this was meticulously legalistic.

Goring Ox

Let’s leave the cows alone for a second, ’cause Exodus 21 talks a lot about slaves.  If you’re Jewish or Christian (or maybe Muslim, if you feel like the early Quran makes you look bad too when it talks about this), this makes you nervous.  Defending slavery as God’s plan is… outdated.  If you  find yourself defending it, it’s usually after you say the words “I’m not racist, I just think that…” and then you grasp at straws to defend it.  That’s what you’d call a Straw Man argument.  (You studied logic in high school too?  High-five!)

Now if you’re not one of those faiths, this kind of verse could be why you don’t trust religion, possibly not at all, possibly just older Western religion, possibly just in the hands of conservatives.  It all depends how much you define a religion by what bad was done in its religious circles.  After all, almost all of history people have been religious.  Is it all religion’s fault that people are stupid and suck sometimes?  (I would pay to watch a debate with this title.)  Or is it just correlation, not causation?  People were doing stupid things and they were religious, but religion wasn’t the one thing that kept people from being mature, scientific pacifists.  And yes, some of the religions were made up; I don’t know of a theory today that holds that all religions are factually true.  That would be a lot of creation stories and gods pushing the sun.  Whether they’re philosophically true is… nope, not enough room in this blog for that.  Moving on!

Hebrew slavery was only slightly different.  They’d just been slaves themselves in Egypt.  They may have been desensitized to the idea, like with corporal punishment and watching Family Guy with kids in the room.  The chapter also starts off saying “If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years.  But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything.”  This means they were making some of their own people into slaves.  They weren’t taking other peoples and keeping them as slaves.  It also means slavery was temporary.  It worked as a kind of indentured servitude, a way of working their way out of debt.  (If this were still legal, we could pay off ours before we were 30.  I’d put an exclamation point and laugh, but I might cry hot tears of rage, so a period will do.)

Slaves also had rights, some spelled out here, others in other chapters (here’s a more in-depth explanation if you’re still thinking “this guy’s whitewashing slavery, pretty sure he’s making some of this up.”)  This chapter does say if someone injures their slave (knocking out an eye or a tooth) also frees them immediately (Exodus 21:26-27).  I’m not sure if the verses right before it count: “But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth…” which is where we get that old expression.

Tooth for a Tooth

But honestly, anything that contractually requires for someone to work for someone for 7 years, with any fewer legal rights than the rest, is a nauseating idea.  I could make Egyptian Slavemaster cards all day long, but that’s because they’re the Biblical bad guys.  I can’t bring myself to do that for the Hebrews, even if I gave the ability slightly different subtypes to make it a milder version of service from one of your creatures to another.  Moving on.

Oh and it says men can sell their daughters as slaves (Exodus 21:7-11) oh no time for that I have things I want to write about byeeee…

I’ll just list the other important points for time’s sake:

  • “If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed; but if it happens after sunrise, the defender is guilty of bloodshed.”  (Exodus 22:2-3) Yaaaay, the South!  We don’t call 911…when it’s dark out.
  • “If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife.  If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins.” (Exodus 22:16) I looked up a dozen translations of this, and rest assured, they all said “seduces,” not rapes.  Had to be sure.  So if a young couple sleeps together, they have to get married.  My God, that would not go over well now!  People don’t know what they’re doing when they start doing it.  Pheromones are beer goggles.  Take your time, teenagers.
  • “You must not allow a sorceress to live. … If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them … They shall be stoned with stones; their blood shall be upon them.” (Exodus 22:17; Leviticus 20:6 & 27, yes I skipped ahead)  Iiiis this bigoted against Wiccans?  My God, that’s a big question.  Like a lot of the Bible, it is against other religions, and other religious practices – pagan, heathen, non-Abrahamic, take your pick of words for it.  This sounds a bit like Salem, where the Puritans killed… wait for it… 20 so-called witches.  (Still bad to kill them, but people talk about it like it was a Holocaust.)  If God is real, this carries more weight, since there’s an underlying power struggle between good and evil.  If God isn’t, then it’s just in-group favoritism and cultural bias leading to genocide / xenocide.  A lot weighs on that distinction.  Mind you, there are not a lot of people today who would lobby for the death penalty for all non-Christians.  Hashtag Westboro.  (I don’t think hashtags work on blogs.  Lemme try though: #Westboro.  Man am I gonna get some interesting site traffic!
    No Life from Death
  • “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” (Exodus 22:21) AHA!  Don’t be racist against immigrants!
  • “Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.” (Exodus 22:22-24) Be nice to single moms and their kids, or God will kill you.  And then your family will be widows and orphans, just to add some poetic justice.
  • You must give me the firstborn of your sons. Do the same with your cattle and your sheep. Let them stay with their mothers for seven days, but give them to me on the eighth day.” (Exodus 22:29-30) Also not popular today.  I would be drafted into working in the temple for life and be raised by monks.  Not the warrior kind, which I could’ve gotten the hang of (my dad used to watch Kung Fu).  Luckily later on God announces that the tribe of Levite (inventors of Levis) will be drafted from then on instead, but in return, everyone tithes some of their income to them because it turns out priest-ing doesn’t make much money.
  • “Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits.” (Exodus 23:6) Heck yeah – due process!  America could work on that.  Hire more public defenders and screen judges for racism in their past verdicts.

But wait til I get to the evilest cow of all!

…that’s not til Exodus 32?  And we’re only on 23? Sheesh!  Way to break up my theme!  Oh what the heck, I’ll throw it in early:

So while Moses went up to get the Ten Commandments written down (God said ’em on Mount Sinai but they wanted a hard copy), the people get real impatient reeeal fast.  Maybe they were a bit spoiled because they’d had the literal, all-providing presence of God, and were getting separation anxiety now that He was off spending time with Moses.  Maybe they missed their time in Egypt (in spite of the slavery bit) and wanted something gaudy and ritualistic to waste their resources on.  Apparently making up a God fills the existential void.  It’s also handy for atheists in AA who have to pick a “Higher Power” but don’t believe in one.

So they literally ask Aaron, the chief priest, who has literally been in on Moses’ every miracle since Egypt (not that Moses made the miracles but – that was a tricky sentence to word), and say “Come, make us gods who will go before us.”  And Aaron, wanting to keep with the times and stay up for re-election, says, give me all your gold jewelry.  And they do, and he makes a golden calf out of it.  And he says to them, “This is your god, Israel, who brought you out of Egypt!”

Golden Calf

Whoa, Bessie!  How did this happen?  Was Aaron just telling people what they wanted to hear?  Did they really just find a cow more relatable/relateable (SpellCheck is mad at me whichever way I say it) than the pillar of fire?  And here’s the big distinction I’ve found – this scripture doesn’t say that Aaron or the people thought this was a different God.  Read between the lines, and theologians please descend upon me if I’m wrong, but I think they were just portraying the God of Israel as a cow.

So Moses is up in the mountains with God, and God lets him know what’s going on below.  God muses aloud that he might just kill them all and make Moses’ descendants the new chosen people instead.  Moses talks him out of it.  Mhm.  Moses persuades the all-knowing one who reads minds and has seen all of time.  (Or God was just prompting Moses to speak for his people, since he really resents them too.)

So instead Moses goes down, drops the Ten Commandments in shock, they shatter – that’s the second time God’s tried to tell them these things – and he grinds the calf up to a powder and scatters it in the water.  Then he asks the tribe of Levite to kill several thousand of the calf-worshippers.  And they do.  I — I’m not even gonna touch that one.

Dang this post turned big!  Thanks for reading all the way through.  I got way more cards in this week.  That felt nice.

P.S, if anyone knows a good forum or medium for people to share games & fake cards like this online, lemme know.  It’d be great if this were a project involving more than just one guy.  But for now it’s still nice.

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You guys are still paying attention?  Bra-vo!  I was thinking you’d heard the general version of these stories growing up, grown distant from the faith, got into fantasy gaming, and only clicked on this because of a hashtag.  (Thanks for reminding me to put hashtags in the past posts.)
Disclaimer: the controversial part I talked about last week is actually after this blog post.  There keeps being more in the Bible than I remember.  With a thousand events or so in the Bible (probably a low-ball estimate and a pretty arbitrary one at that, so you could round it either way to skew statistics), we were never gonna have a sermon or children’s story on each one anyway.  We would’ve had no time to waste.  That’s a weird thought; what would I have done with all the time and energy I put into card games like Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh!? (that sounded angry, but the “!” is part of the name, I didn’t make the rules, Japan did)
Well I’m glad you asked!  (If you’re confused, I wrote it, you thought the words you were reading and therefore I read your mind.  It literally is what you were thinking.)  If you’ve spent the prerequisite several solid days of study time teaching yourself “Magic: the Gathering” (MtG, which ironically is how people abbreviate “meeting,” which is what a gathering is) … and if you’ve poured maybe a day shift’s pay into collecting the right tiny pieces of paper, you’re in luck!  Now you can justify that narrow skill set and social alienation by looking at Bible-themed Magic cards.  It’s more grounded in reality anyway (if I just spiked someone’s blood pressure, take a cleansing breath and come back to the blog when you’re ready).  And believer or not (insert exclusivist Christian reference here), you get to see it play out, one rambling blog post & dynamic mostly-just-makes-sense-to-gamers card at a time.
https://mtgcardsmith.com/user/AbeClabby/cards
But can we play with them, you ask?  Isn’t that what card games are for?  People actually did ask that, not like the prop-question in my last paragraph.  Well – since I’m making a gallery of them, all the ones in these blogs and more will be in one place.  When I have enough, we’ll see what we can arrange.  But first, to make them!  That was the point of this anyway.  They should be balanced and fit within the Magic: the Gathering framework, but all tied to something that happened in Scripture.  Like flash cards for the Old Testament, but flash cards that can destroy each other.
When we last left Moses, he’d gotten into a fight in the desert with the Amalekites, who God does not like, because they got into a fight with His people.  God kind of plays the protective husband sometimes.  The “Bride of Christ” term comes up in the New Testament with the same theme.  It fits with his “have no other gods” theme too.
But in other ways He’s more like the cosmic Dad, getting into it with the parents of the kid who pushed His kid down at school today.  He just also snaps at his own kids for breaking the rules and making bad decisions and dating some troublemaker.
So God decides, apparently being a cloud / PILLAR OF FIRE (emphasis added) wasn’t enough, so God goes down to Mt. Sinai and sets a whole mountain on fire.  Volcano, you ask?  Brushfire?  I dunno.  There’s also lightning, which can go with either or start the second one.  In a way it doesn’t matter from a believer’s perspective whether physics were bent or natural things happened by coincidence, since either way God told Moses in advance so it was prophesied, ergo, he didn’t just find a wildfire and say “Look, it’s God!”
Mount Sinai
But God warns the people that if anyone, even a priest, touches the mountain, God’s power will break out and destroy them.  Well that’s different.  God’s usually been pretty choosy with who He destroys so far.  But God wasn’t in all those cities in person as an entire mountain of fire.  He’s been an anonymous traveler, as have His angels, and He’s been a bush and a cloud, both on fire.  You’ll find God is frequently on fire.  He’s just so intense.  I’ve heard Him compared to the Sun: unfathomably huge and powerful, source of all life on Earth, but too intense to even look at or you’ll go blind.  It’s like there’s too much of a good thing.
And God did invite Moses up the mountain, through the smoke and fire, and told him the Ten Commandments.
These are those things people want put outside courts or capital buildings.  And other people really don’t want them there.  Let’s see what they’re fighting over:
1) No Other Gods Before Me.
(Mmmmm-hm.  This one’s pretty straightforward.  The only faith I’ve come across that’s okay with worshiping gods other than their own pantheon is Buddhism, and that’s because they believe there are no gods to be before anyone, and Buddha wasn’t a god, just a person with an enlightened spirit.  If you take the sentence literally, “No Other Gods Before Me” would be okay with gods… next to Him.  Or just beneath Him.  Somehow that doesn’t square with the rest of the Bible.  Worshiping at pagan temples with prostitutes and false idols is the biggest thing God keeps getting angry at them for.  Granted, I don’t think He’s a xenophobe who recoils at the semi-religious symbols of all other cultures – yoga, yoga pants, Yoda backpacks – but I’ll admit to not having the scripture in hand to back that up.  The Bible really only brings up other faiths when someone’s making sacrifices to them, and that’s a big line to cross.  We don’t really ritually kill animals for religious purposes anymore.  But more on that in the next blog.
(Could I make a card out of this?  Ehhh… I really struggle with where God fits in a game of Magic: the Gathering.  You’re this superbeing summoning creatures and casting spells.  Are you a Prophet?  Sort of, maybe.  But then there’s no way to have a relationship with God in the game, which is half the point of the Bible.  Feeble creatures gaining blessings from the Creator who bestows things upon them from His hand, as they strive to bring Him glory, has a nice warm-glowy feel to it.  Then again, if your character is God, 1) sacrilege, 2) kinda trivializes God which uh, take a look at the 3rd commandment, 3) you’d not be omnipotent or omniscient, meaning God could run out of life and die, 4) you’d even be fighting against an equal, who would probably have to be Satan.
….I actually started the paragraph thinking I’d be pushing for God to be the player, but uh, didn’t turn out that way.  Lemme put this in my notes, I have lots of notes.)
2) No Graven Images, or Any Likeness of Any Thing in Heaven, Earth, or Sea.  (Specifically, don’t worship them.  A lot of people were doing it back then.  See, the first part sounds like God’s saying: Don’t Carve, or Sculpt, or Draw Anything, Ever.  Honestly that’s how it gets quoted later on, but originally there was this context to go with.  The Israelites must have caught on, because I haven’t come across a verse where someone drew something and God or anyone in Israel got mad at them for it.
It’s hard to make that a card, though.  It would have to really be a stretch.  Comment if inspiration strikes you, I’ll give you shared credit for it.)
3) Don’t Take the Lord’s Name in Vain.
(…this already isn’t gonna be a Magic card.  I had to research “in vain” for a while, ’cause usually that means “unsuccessfully.”  Scholars seem to be saying not to misuse it, which, since that didn’t tell me much, also got taken as misrepresenting God when talking about Him.  It also might mean no cussing, though I mostly heard that in Sunday school.)
4) Keep the Sabbath Holy.
(literally Don’t Work on Saturday.  Okay!  Don’t have to tell me twice!  This is actually good timing, ’cause I did work Saturdays for years until a month ago.  This one made sense for an ex-slave people who’d needed God himself to lobby for a single holiday weekend.  The official reason is to rest because God rested on the 7th day of Creation instead of making something else cool right after humans.  He adds that not even your kids or your cows or your not-Jewish neighbors in your city should work.  As for us, America loves work – at least the idea of it – so this doesn’t always come easy for us.  I mean for some of us it does.  For those people I’ll add that it says to work the other 6 and that Saturday is God’s day.  Not necessarily recover-from-hangover-and-prepare-for-another-one day.
(I actually do have a card for this one!  Surprisingly enough.  There wasn’t an obvious picture for people not working, but I found Indian people sitting down and figured it was close enough.)
Fourth Commandment
5) Honor thy Father & Mother
(You know this one.  Your parents might’ve taught you this one… and thought it whenever you disagreed with them.  I looked hard for a better explanation of what’s meant by Honor here.  The closest alternate-Bible-translation version I found was “Respect.”  I could actually debate myself in circles with when it would or wouldn’t be honoring or respectful to disagree with your parents, or to disobey them.  That could actually get real vicious in the comments.  Feel free to fight for my amusement there.
(Side note: the first time God says it, here, that was only half the sentence.  He finished with: “that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”  In other words, you’ll live longer if you honor your parents.  That’s why I sleep easier knowing I’m protected from that ominously open corporal/capital punishment by this next commandment:)
6) Thou Shalt Not Kill
(Now this one’s pretty popular and mainstream.  If you don’t count action movies or gun legislation or capital punishment or law enforcement or foreign policy.  The important thing to note here is that there are several words for “kill” in old Hebrew, and the one here means “murder.”  It’s never used in the Bible to mean killing during wartime, or being put to death by law.  What it does include is allowing someone to die through neglect or carelessness.  Not preventing someone from dying when they could have been saved is a form of murder here.  So whichever party you’re in, the Bible agrees and disagrees with you here.  Closing note: Jesus doesn’t want anyone to hurt anyone, not even when mandated by law, not even if they’re trying to rob you or kill you.
(Could this be a card?  I think it’s too bogged down with nuances of the kinds of killing.  If killing in wartime is OK, at least when God says so (He didn’t always say so out loud), it really wouldn’t restrict much.)
7) Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery
(Nope – definitely not getting a Magic card.  Don’t cheat on your spouses, people.  The sex wasn’t the thing missing from your relationship anyway.  I mean not the only thing.  If you’re married and starved for companionship, there are these kinds of people called friends who you don’t commit adultery and poison your marriage and make you the bad guy (or girl) who ruined things.  And if those don’t make you happy, either you’re doing it wrong, or you’re wanting something from others that you can only get from yourself.  Talk to someone about how.
I’m going to play it safe when saying “someone” and list LoveIsRespect.org (who has a chat line and hotline (866) 331-9474, and I used to work here so that’s my stamp of approval), and the National Alliance on Mental Illness i.e. NAMI.org (whether it’s all your fault or all his/hers, they have support groups all over the country; you can call them at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) (M-F 10a-6p)).
8) Thou Shalt Not Steal
(Can this get any more black-and-white?)
(A card for this would really just penalize taking control of another player’s cards.  I’m afraid that’s just kind of a rare ability.  It’d be a defense against something that wouldn’t be too likely to happen.)
9) Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness Against thy Neighbor
(Lying’s a trickier thing than it sounds.  Most people can justify lying in the right situation.  Some do it to get out of trouble, or to avoid upsetting people, or to make someone feel better, or to make their kid believe in Santa Clause knowing full well that the kid’s going to stop believing one day and they’ll realize you were con artists who went to great lengths to deceive them just so you could see them get giddy!  Sorry, I forgot how many feelings I have about that.  The point is that we want it to be around.  Apparently those people’s prayers were heard, because technically most theologians say the 9th Commandment is about “bearing false witness,” meaning lying in a legal setting.  It may not mean not to lie.  I almost didn’t clarify this because I didn’t want people to read this and start lying more.  So I’ll remind people that there are plenty of other non-Commandment verses saying God wants people to be honest.  There.  I think I’ve done my due diligence.
(This really isn’t a good post for Magic cards.  You can’t lie in a game where every enforceable rule is written right on the card.)
10) Thou Shalt Not Covet
(Covet?  That’s not an everyday word.  Lemme finish the commandment first: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.”  Aheh, heh, heh, heh.  Yeah, you’re pretending He didn’t mean donkey.  All right kids, snap out of it!  Sheesh.  So what it means is, don’t want to take what isn’t yours.  Even if you’re not gonna take it, don’t even want to.  I always took this as “you don’t need to keep up with the Joneses,” but it at least means don’t go wanting things that aren’t yours or that you’re not supposed to have.
Well, readers, thanks again for reading, and you’re welcome for reading.  Copyright God 2000-ish BC.  All rights reserved.

All right, deep breath, people.  This is where the Bible gets a little bit hairy.

*re-reads* what’s that?  Not for another few pages?  I got all psyched out too early and put off writing it for days because I didn’t know how people would take it and I could’ve just written this next part to get the ball rolling?

Those were rhetorical questions.  No need to respond.

So Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt.  Into the desert.  There’s some talk of a… Promised Land… on the other side, which they don’t own, but somehow they’re gonna get it.  There are 600,000 guys, plus the ladies, plus their kids, plus their animals.  And given how little time it took for them for Jacob’s dozen kids to reach those numbers, they probably still had a lot of kids.  Can you imagine keeping them entertained for an interminable trek, mostly on foot, and having to carry them when they get tired?  My God, can you imagine how much childproofing stuff they’d need to bring today?

The Egyptians are taking this surprisingly well.  Their entire lower-class first flipped the entire natural world over, killed every bit of livestock (I fumbled through 4 probably-wrong ways of saying that and I’m still not so sure – is one animal “a livestock?”  “A lifestock”?  Well if God gave up on them so can I), destroyed all the crops and killed all the firstborn, even of the livestock who were all dead (I didn’t ask), and left, leaving the Egyptian people to build their own pyramids.  Naturally, this left the Egyptians ready to put the past behind them and accept th–

–nope, they’re gonna chase ’em with chariots.  I know it keeps saying that the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but it didn’t really take the Lord to make him stubborn and bitter.  Really, God could’ve softened, conditioned and moisturized Pharaoh’s heart and he still would’ve been a totalitarian classist fascist racist with a literal God-complex.  But here’s the funny part – it says he came after those 2-million Israelites with a mighty legion of 600 chariots.  Remember how these people outnumbered that several thousand to one?  I dunno, maybe the rest of them were dead or grieving, understandably.  Or were afraid of the, you know, God.

Cairo Chariot

(Side note on MtG: the Enchantment Auras vs Artifact Equipment distinction has always felt a little weird to me.  I get that one’s an object and one’s a trait, but objects are automatically type-neutral and enchantments and everything almost never are?  I guess they’ve got globalization in Magic, but only for selling things.  Magic people don’t migrate.)

Oh speaking of which.  He was there.  Sorry, I started a sentence with Him so you couldn’t see He was capitalized.  There.  God spends the next several years literally visible to everyone, leading them through the desert, as a cloud by day, and as a pillar of smoke and fire by night.  Or it’s an angel doing this, in Exodus 13:20 it’s the Lord, in 14:19 it’s an angel – if I don’t have the answers here, sometimes it’s because no one included them.  Point is, He/it moves to the back and becomes this thick fog that lights up on the Israelites’ side but was dark on the other – and most importantly, the Egyptians may be on horseback but they still can’t catch up.

(The cloud-and-flame presence of God is gonna make a sweet Magic card one day – once I can decide what it would actually DO.  Feel free to comment your suggestions.)

So when the Israelites had made it almost all the way across, the Egyptians are right behind them.  And God lets the ocean go back to being an ocean, and – wait a second, the Pharaoh’s in one of those chariots.  Guys, I never noticed before, God just delivered a coup in Egypt right there.  Their king just died.

Part the Sea

THE END

Just kidding, guys, there’s more than 50 books of the Bible left.  We even cheated and skipped everything in Genesis before Abraham, which now I feel like I should backtrack and do someday.  I actually did whip up a bunch of cards for it yesterday – the words on the cards, anyway.  Bing Image Searching for pics is harder than I thought it would be.

So now the slaves are freed.  But they’re in the middle of the desert.  There are no crops.  They can not have packed that much matzo and lembas bread.  (I didn’t mention last week, the night they left they cooked as much unleavened flatbread as they could and left.  That’s when the Israelites invented Passover.  It’s when God / the angel of death passed over them and killed all the Egyptian firstborn.)  So they’re walking, and some of them riding, and it feels like they’re in Phoenix but they can’t hide indoors.

So naturally, people are unhappy.  Yes, they’re being led by the most powerful being in the universe, and his personal emissary on Earth whose wave of his hand can summon millions of vermin.  And there’s a promise of eventually inheriting a paradise somewhere east of here.  But there are no signs and maps, and they literally weren’t allowed to leave Egypt for a day since slavery, so they only sort of know where they’re going.  I can see both sides here.

Desert Wanderer

Naturally, they start grumbling (that’s literally the word the Bible uses for it) that it would’ve been better to have stayed and died in Egypt than to be out here.  At least they had bread and meat there.  So what does God say?  “Challenge Accepted.” (Paraphrased.)  So God tells Moses, who tells Aaron, who tells Everyone, that they will get their meat and their bread – but how they get it will be a test for them.  He sends in a wind that blows quails into the camp and they all die.  The quails, not the Israelites.  There’s the meat.  Get it while it’s fresh.

And the next one – all right, the next one’s a Magic the Gathering joke.  He feeds them mana.  You know, ’cause it’s – all right I gotta explain this to everyone else.  Mana is the word for the all-purpose energy source in the game.  You’ve got a couple land cards, and those are the energy you use for every other card you play.  The longer you play, the more of your cards you draw are land cards, the more energy you have to work with… there you go.  But they picked a word for a supernatural stuff that auto-generates on any landscape, and which has to be used that way or it goes bad.  I used to think it was a weird word to choose for it, but now it all makes sense…

Mana in the Barrens

Mana is describes as these thin, frosty flakes (they’re more than good) that appear on the ground after the morning dew dries.  I go between picturing it as snow and as fungus. My environmental science degree is looking for an explanation, even if it only worked on this scale by divine intervention.  There just isn’t enough info for me to work with here.  Whatever it was, they make it into bread, and that’s how two million people and their animals don’t starve to death in a desert.

Now here’s the test – just gather enough for one day at a time, says God (or God says, if you’re OCD about word order).  Didja grow up with the “Our Father” prayer?  “Give us this day, our daily bread”?  It wasn’t always a metaphor.  This is a trust exercise.  Keep in mind these people had the most literal, tangible evidence of God’s power to make things work out for them than anyone else in human history.  They could not have possibly been atheists.  (No offense to atheists; I was one for a good decade, and it’s a logical enough viewpoint, so I’ve got no bitter rant of straw-man arguments prepared to spew at them.)  So here, God’s seeing if doing absolutely everything is enough for people to trust He’ll do it again if He tells them He will.

And some people gather extra anyway and try to save it up.  It seems practical, if this were free money on the ground that would disappear by morning anyway, and if the one who left it there wasn’t… all-knowing.  That bread became wormy and foul.  (Where did the worms come from?  This is a desert, I figure worms wouldn’t do well there.  Maybe it was a God-thing, sticking them in there for illustrative purposes.)  Moses got angry at them.  Then for those who *did* want more-than-daily bread, on Friday people find and gather double the mana.  Moses tells them, this time the leftovers will stay good til tomorrow, and no mana will show up tomorrow so you’re gonna need it.  He even tells them, don’t bother going out to gather – this is the 20th-or-so thing Moses has prophesied so you’d think they’d believe him by now.  So God lets people save up, just like they wanted.  But again, some people go out looking anyway!  *sigh*… people.

Mana Sabbath

Then these people show up called the Amalekites, and just immediately declare war on them.  Or vice versa.  The Bible doesn’t point fingers here.  Granted, they probably had this territory staked out, and then a wave of two million people comes through, and even if they came through saying “we come in peace” it’s hard to take them at their word.  I did some digging to see if the Israelites had any beef with them traditionally.  As it turns out, when Jacob’s brother Esau had a kid with a hooker 500 years prior, she’d named him Amalek.  These were the angry rejected bastard stepchildren of the Israelites.  ‘course, the Amalekites could’ve seen it the other way around.

The Bible may have realized it explained things redundantly so far, so the explanation is quick – Moses sends out his soldiers and tells them he’ll be on top of a hill holding his hands up.  No backstory locker-room talk with God included this time.  As long as Moses held his hands up, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.  No pressure, Moses.  I’ve seen some guys in stadiums who do this like their shouting is gonna decide the game.  Moses ends up having Aaron and another guy hold his hands up for him so they can win.  This had some serious card material.

Man at Arms

Now, normally, when two countries have a feud going, it’s just people hating other people.  Here we see God takes a side.  Yes, He took a side in Egypt, but you’ll see Him encourage them to welcome Egyptians into the tribe a few decades from now.  But He officially – eternally – declares war on the Amalekites.  This isn’t human racism, or nationalism, in the traditional sense.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.”
“Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. He said, “Because hands were lifted up against the throne of the Lord, the Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.”” (Exodus 17:14-16)

Yep.  Making this a card.

Enemy Immemorial

But the chapters I’m writing about next week – well that’s one doozy of a read.  When people get into arguments about Christianity, when it’s not science or sex, it’s usually this next part.  On your marks, get upset, go!

We did it!  We finished Genesis. (I’ll have to go back and add everything before Noah later.)  Now to the book of Exodus.
Anybody here seen “Prince of Egypt”?  It may be the most visually beautiful gem of a movie in the history of cartoon.  Its basically the Moses story you grew up with, but a lot more personal.
Eternal Lineage
Let’s tie this in to last post’s Joseph story first.  It’s been a few hundred years.  It’s been… 430 years.  Joseph and his siblings all moved to Egypt, because Joseph’s got connections.  These were the first Israelites / Hebrews (I’m just gonna use the words interchangeably based on what sounds cooler). Now I don’t know what their sex education classes looked like, but in that time they managed to have so many babies that they outnumbered the Egyptians in Egypt. This is what every racist is afraid of immigrants doing today.  And its exactly what the Europeans did to colonize America and lead to the coup in Texas, so their descendants are probably afraid history will even out and…
…so back to Egypt.  The Egyptians feared an Israelite uprising, so they enslaved them.
This still didn’t make them feel better- now the Egyptians knew they gave the Israelites one more thing to rebel against!  So they became so racist (see how this becomes a vicious cycle?), they decided to kill all the newborn male children of Israel.  It’s hard to picture that level of massacre in the world today.  Once in a while, some spot of the world reminds us what humans are capable of.  Right now the Burmese military is under investigation for an ethnic cleansing of its Rohingya minority, Muslims in a Buddhist country.  Those days aren’t over yet.
Field Enforcer
But there is at least one survivor.  A woman puts her child in a basket and sets them on the Nile.  The basket drifts…to where the Pharaoh’s wife is bathing.  The guards must not have had the usual modern “its a bomb” fear (when were bombs inventwd anyway?), but someone looks in the basket and sees a baby.  Her husband wanted every one of them killed, but she decides to adopt this one.  I can only imagine the couple-fights that came out of that.  “How’s this gonna look when I run for re-election?” “Honey, you’re Pharaoh. You don’t even need people to like you, they just have to say they do or you kill them.”
Anyway. Luckily Moses’ sister Miriam (who gets called a Prophet for one sentence when they all leave Egypt and says literally nothing else that she did) was following thr basket. So she speaks up and offers to find a Hebrew woman to raise the baby, because apparently Pharaoh’s wife (Pharah?) wants to have a baby but not actually raise it, and Pharah offers to hire the woman. So Miriam brings her own mother to nurse and raise her own baby, until he’s old enough, and gets paid to do it!  If you’re a mother this should make you jealous, because motherhood should be paid and it isn’t.
Did I mention this baby is Moses?
Moses, Plague of Egypt
There’s a big gray “skip ahead” here where suddenly Moses is a young man going for a walk, he sees a Hebrew getting whipped by a slavemaster, Moses kills him, then runs away into the desert wait wait wait wait.  He was raised by Pharaoh. He’s the second-most powerful man on the planet.  We don’t get to see any of that?  All right, cue the movie:
In “Prince of Egypt,” Moses grows up side-by-side with Pharaoh’s son, as second-in-line for the throne. Their father is the same man who tried to kill every little boy when Moses was supposed to be one of those little boys.  This actually didn’t get pointed out too much in the film.  He sort of finds out he’s a Hebrew when he’s going for a princely, guard-less walk and comes across Miriam and their brother Aaron, and Aaron yells at him for not stopping racism.  Then Moses has a Loki-breakdown and kills that slavemaster and runs away in shame.

Now the stories line up again.  Moses wanders in the desert until he gets to a desert tribe, which takes him in.  He starts a new life, gets married, has a great musical number by her dad (sadly not in the bible but seriously I’ve got the DVD and we could do movie night), and becomes a shepherd.  That’s when he wanders into a cave….
….with a burning bush.
There’s a lot more detail here than the quick Sunday School version.  First, it says the bush is burning because of the presence of an angel.  Then the voice of the Lord comes out of it.  Which is it?  Did the Lord travel with angel bodyguards?  Was the author not sure how to taxonomize the supernatural and tell which was which?
So at this point, Moses doesn’t know much about God.  His mom may have told him a few things when he was little, maybe.  And then he got raised by Egyptians who taught that his dad-in-law was a god too. But God has to introduce himself.  Which God is he? “I am the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob.”  That’s an important distinction to make right now.
Then God tells him to go back and stop racism.  Free the slaves.  He’s asking a guy who was raised by slavemasters and then fled to live way away from all that, and whose only connection to them is the birth family he barely ever knew.  So Moses puts himself down saying he’s bad with people and no one would believe him anyway.  And God says, all right, let’s break out the miracles here.  He hasnt event defied physics since making the universe, so, time for some transfiguration.
He shows him he can turn his staff into a snake.  He just….has to
…grab the…tail to turn it back into a staff, which sounds difficult.  And if they dont believe that, he says, put your hand in your robe and pull it out.  He pulls it out and it looks pale, withered and dead.  A little warning would’ve been nice.  That’s not a miracle you want to use on yourself.  But God tells him to put it back and his hand’s fine again.
Last chance: take some water from the river and pour it on land and it’ll turn to blood.  One of those will convince people.
Serpent Staff
Moses still thinks someone else should be doing all this.  So, God sighs (probably) and says you know what, fine, your brother Aaron can split the job with you.   And thats the last time he let a prophet at all not do what he commanded them to do.
Now God fleshes out the plan a bit.  He won’t just ask politely for his dad-in-law to pass the 13th amendment.  God will go to war with him.  He’ll “smite Egypt with all His wonders” to prove that the greatest, most poweful, most terrible people in history can still lose, if they’re on the wrong side of history.  And all Moses had to do was speak truth to power.  The Israelites didn’t even need to lead a civil war themselves. They didn’t need to lose half a million lives fending them off, whether they stood their ground in Egypt or not.  God did it instead.  That contrast to the alternative helps, when you wonder how God could have killed all those people.  Most of those people were killers already.
Moses leaves the cave and tells his wife, who takes it surprisingly well.  They pack up their kids and head back to Egypt.  Something happens on the way that you’re welcome to scratch your heads over: when Moses is sleeping, God shows up in the middle of the night and tries to kill them.  Yep.  Mistranslation?  I’m less sure once it says this- Zipporah apparently knew what God wanted intuitively, so she hurried up and circumcised her son right then and there- and God leaves.  And her son probably cried the whole night and Moses woke up to that and Zipporah saying “its your turn to hold him! Yes he’s bleeding but don’t worry.  Oh and your friend God showed up. Can you two talk through this in the morning?”
God tells Aaron to meet him partway.  They barely knew each other, but that’s the one thing God said to Aaron.  Everything else, God said Moses should just tell Aaron himself.  Really everything Moses and Aaron say after this point is like that: God gives Moses step-by-step instructions, teaches him his lines, and Moses tells Aaron.  When they get to the Israelites, they do the 3 miracles, and tell them about the plan to free them, and everyone is loving it.  Everyone is on board.
Then Moses and Aaron talk to Pharaoh about it. It wasnt a closed-door session – it was in front of all Pharaoh’s favorite people.  Moses makes his staff a serpent in front of a room of Egyptian-God-believers.  And Pharaoh’s magicians – wise men or sorcerers or whatever your translation says – they make their rods (not staffs, just rods, I don’t even know what you do with a rod but I guess I know now-) they make their rods into snakes.  How?  Dark magic?  Other gods powers?  or just smoke and mirrors switching out a rod for a snake?  My take on it is that some translations say they did it “with their secret arts,” and I take that as being just theater magic.  After all, look at the entire Bible- when does any power but God do anything supernatural?  Scrape the bottom of the barrel and you’ll find a talking snake, one necromancer who could only bring back a spirit so they can talk to people, and…..and…some possessions in the New Testament.  Add to this list if you think of more.  Oh, end of scene: Moses’ *ahem* God’s snake eats the others.
I was waiting for Pharaoh to say something here.  As far as he cares, this isn’t a political statement or a holy war, this is a magic show.   So Moses has to come back later and talk to him.  God’s gone over the script – but it isn’t “let my people go.”  Moses isn’t even going to ask Pharaoh to liberate half its people.  He’s going to ask to let them take the weekend off.  He asks Pharaoh to let his people take a 3-day journey into the desert to make sacrifices to their God.  (This is not where Burning Man came from.  Nor was it a concert.)  Then if Pharaoh says no, He tells him to put his staff in the water and all the liquid water in Egypt will turn to blood.  But since God only goes over what to say, and the next thing we know Moses is striking the water, we don’t hear Pharaoh’s comeback.  Moses has just made the ultimate gift to vampires and fans of The Shining.
Plague of Water to Blood
There are nine more plagues after this.
Plague #2: frogs.  That really doesn’t sound so horrible.  That’s probably why it’s one of the first.  Granted, it says they were climbing on everyone.  This must have been when gumbo was invented out of desperation.  *googles* no, that’s shrimp and crab.  My apologies to New Orleans.  But really, this would have been terribly annoying.
So Pharaoh asks for Moses to stop the plague, agreeing to let them have their holiday weekend, and Moses (well technically God) calls off the frogs.  They die and get swept up in heaps and stink up the place.
And then Pharaoh decides to keep the slaves in Egypt anyway!
So, Plague #3.  Gnats.  Or lice.  Not sure how historians could have mixed that up, but it was one of those two and they got on everyone.  The magicians try to copy this – no luck.  They even tell Pharaoh this plague must be the finger of God.  No luck.
Plague #4: flies.  Probably won’t kill anyone, but too bad all the frogs are dead.  This time God specifies He sent them over all of Egypt except where the Israelites lived, in Goshen.  (Maybe that’s why people say Gosh instead of God.)  And Pharaoh does the same bait-and-switch again.
Plague #5: livestock.  And God rained livestock upon Egypt, and it was more terrible than any rain of cats and dogs that they had ever seen.  Nah, it’s a plague against livestock.  They got sick and died.  That one hits me right here (I’m indicating my heart – actually I’m typing to say that, but I was indicating my heart).  They were innocent victims in this.  I do have this to say about this plague, though – most of them were naturally-occurring things.  In other words, God or no God, plagues still happen.  You can try to blame God for targeting them at certain people, but if there’s no God, will people be just as angry about it?  They just don’t have someone to blame anymore.
Plague #6: boils.  As in blisters, not as in cooking in hot water.  Some people do that with meats, by the way.  If I wrote Leviticus I would’ve banned that in there and require it be grilled.  God half-agrees – in Leviticus he’s gonna ask for burnt offerings, not boiled ones.  The way they make this plague has some wild, sorcerous imagery too: “Take handfuls of soot from a furnace and have Moses toss it into the air in the presence of Pharaoh.  It will become fine dust over the whole land of Egypt, and festering boils will break out on people and animals throughout the land.”
Plague #7: a storm of hail, thunder, and… either lightning or fire.  Another important distinction I wish I knew which it was (but everything else said about it just talks about the hail, so I guess the rest is cosmetic).  God warns the people (though that really depends on how fast people spread the word) to get out of the fields, as everything in them will be beaten down and struck; the crops are flattened, and the trees are shattered.
Plague #8: locusts.  For some reason this is the one everyone talks about.  Probably because it’s distinctive.  They’e like grasshoppers.  And they ate everything.  Not human flesh.  Just everything edible by non-Willy-Wonka standards.
I’ll note that Moses and Pharaoh have gotten to haggling about how many of the Israelites can go to worship in the desert.  First Pharaoh says ‘only the men can go.’  By next plague it’s ‘only the people can go but not their livestock.’
Plague of Locusts
Plague #9: Darkness.  “Stretch your hand toward the sky and there will be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness that one can feel.”  That’s edgy.  I don’t know if that’s more horror or more metal.  And I don’t just mean that in a ‘come on, kids, the Bible’s cool’ sort of way.  It says everyone outside of Goshen was caught in a blackness so thick they couldn’t see the person next to them.  They just huddled in terror in their homes until it passed over.  I don’t think that’s how the eclipse went.
Plague of Darkness
Plague #10: Death of the Firstborn.
This is the kind of moment that most people have a problem with.  That’s understandable.  No, it’s more than understandable.  If a human did this today, there would be outrage from every corner of the globe!  The firstborn of every family, even of every animal died that night.  It’s moments like this that make people call religion backwards and barbaric.  There are countless pacifist Christians, but they define themselves more by the New Testament than by moments like this.
But I should share the explanation I’ve heard.  When a person dies, especially someone as young and innocent as a child, where do they go?  They didn’t have a chance to fail God; they hadn’t matured enough, they couldn’t have made a decision about who they were going to be.  So they didn’t deserve Hell.  They could only have gone to Heaven.  This still made their families suffer… but this was a war to free half the nation.  And this ended the war.  With Pharaoh’s own son dead, he bade the Israelites to go.
So… where are they going?  To a place God promised he would give to Abraham’s descendants, 500+ years ago: the Promised Land.  That’s not what it’s called.  It’s called Canaan.  (The emphasis in on the “a” not the “aa,” so it’s CAY-nahn.  Just keeping you on your toes.)
Also the 10th Plague and the packing up to leave were when Passover was invented.  They make a very big deal about God saying this is the day and this is how you must celebr – actually it’s pretty sober-sounding.
Aaaand that brings us to the end of Exodus 12!  Stay tuned.  But not too tuned, I can’t decide if I work well under pressure.

(This post is part of an ongoing series on my making the Old Testament into Magic: the Gathering cards.  Best to start at the beginning, which is the Word…press link here.)

So you’ll remember Jacob just patched things up with his brother.  And he’s got that whole God-promise to fulfill of making Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the stars, which is either a lot of pressure or means God will take care of things.  This may happen, as he has a dozen kids by one mom… and one by his favorite wife Rachel.  This miracle-kid was Joseph.

These are already themes at this point – the favorite-wife drama, the favorite-kid drama, the backstabbing-brother drama, the divine-surprise-pregnancy (way before Mary only these kids had regular fathers)…

…and they’re about to give Judas the sell-out-everyone’s-favorite-for-money idea.

Joseph’s gift is prophesy via dream.  His dream, someone else’s dream – usually he can piece together that it means something., and that something comes true.  Of course being the naive little golden-child snowflake, he doesn’t see the problem with telling his siblings the dream where they and the fields and the stars literally bow down to him.

Joseph, Dream Cipher

Joseph, Dream Cipher (2)(blue) 1/3: Human Mystic.  When Joseph enters play, he gains Pure (this creature’s Power & Toughness cannot be lowered. Pure removes Sin). While Pure, whenever an opponent views the top cards of their library, they must show all other players.
{t}: Target player looks at the top 7 cards of their library, and puts them back in that order.
“And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”” Genesis 41:15

So one day a brother talks the others into tossing him in a well to die.  Wait, that’s not what I said was gonna happen.  That’s because one of the other brothers with, you know, a conscience, sees some passing slave dealers and talks the brothers into selling Joseph away instead.  Phew!  Life saver.  So they tell their father that Joseph was eaten by wolves, his parents have a breakdown, and no one speaks of it again.

Traitor's Price

Traitor’s Price (s): (Instant) Target player with two or more creatures sacrifices one of its creatures, or Enslaves it to an opponent’s creature (your choice).  (Treat the abilities of an Enslaved creature as if it were controlled by the player whose creature it is enslaved to; it untaps on that player’s untap step.)   That player gains mana equal to the lost creature’s mana cost until the end of their next turn.  Another of the player’s creatures gains Sin.

Now here’s where Joseph’s story can get pretty Magic-heavy.  The cards, not the supernatural.

Welcome to the Business

Welcome to the Business {black} (Enchantment – Aura): Target sentient creature gains Slavemaster (when this creature would destroy a card, you may give it Enslaved instead and assign it to this creature. It remains your opponent’s, but treat its abilities as if it were yours; it untaps on your untap step). This creature’s Enslaved creatures gain “{t}: creature’s Slavemaster gains +1/+1 until its player’s next turn.”
“And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all kinds of work in the field, all their work which they made them do was with harshness.” Exodus 2:14

This is the first of many cards with this theme.  Most will be creatures with Slavemaster.  Their slaves may grant different abilities, like “Add 1 to your mana pool,” or “Gain 1 life.”  In all cases they come with the sadistic theme that the more you subdue your enemies, the more powerful you become.  It can be more satisfying than destroying them.  (Note that you gain control of the Enslaved creature’s abilities.  That means both its “static” ongoing abilities, and anything you can spend mana or tap to activate.)

So why not just write “gain control of that creature”?  Because the Egyptians didn’t brainwash the Hebrews.  They didn’t convince them to turn on each other.  They just told them what to do.  It isn’t written how common slave uprisings were, but it’s doubtless that, like in all empires, the consequences were dire.  Later on you’ll see what happens when Moses asks Pharaoh to give his people the weekend off; Pharaoh doubles their workload, and then they complain to Moses for bringing that on them.  But that’s centuries from now; right now, Joseph is implied to be the first Hebrew slave in Egypt.

Joseph gets sold to a man named Potiphar, the captain of the guard.  And since God is shaping Joseph’s life, Joseph finds favor with Potiphar, and gets promoted until he’s second-in-command in his household.

Potiphar, Captain of the Guard

Potiphar, Captain of the Guard {3}{white}{black} 3/4: Human Soldier.  Slavemaster (when one of your creatures would destroy a sentient creature, you may give it Enslaved instead and assign it to Potiphar.  It remains your opponent’s, but treat its abilities as if it were yours; it untaps on your untap step.)  Each slave gains “{1}: this creature can block for their Slavemaster’s player until their next turn.”
“The Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.” Genesis 37:36

But that’s when you may want a trigger warning.  Potiphar’s wife wants to sleep with Joseph.  Now, we don’t know where this was between sexual harassment and attempted rape, only that she grabbed his coat and he ran off and left it.  Then she screams, saying he attacked her – don’t worry I’m definitely not gonna try to work this into a card – and Potiphar feels betrayed and throws Joseph in jail.  He may have been a second-in-command to a man who works for the Pharaoh, but legally, he has no more rights than any slave.  Actually, hold that thought – it says when he gets to prison, the guards like him so much they put him in charge of the other prisoners.

Joseph’s life has been a roller coaster so far.  Can’t things just go… realistically average for him?  Nope.  He finds himself imprisoned with two cellmates who keep having these dreams.  Up to this point, we’ve only seen Joseph interpret his own dreams; it turns out he’s been waiting to go all Freudian on somebody.  So he tells one the dream means he’ll be pardoned and will work for Pharaoh, and the other he tells will be executed.  And that’s what happens.

Some time later, the ex-con working for the Pharaoh hears that the Pharaoh is having weird dreams himself.  Time and time again, he sees the same vivid, monstrous vision.  Seven beautiful, majestic stalks of wheat grow up – and seven foul, gaunt strains of wheat writhe up and devour them.  It’s a dream, and a metaphor, but too awesome to pass up a card….

[20 minutes later]
Can’t find any good enough pictures for this… I was really hoping the Joseph, King of Dreams monster-crops would be online somewhere.  All right; here’s the text I’ll use when I find it:

Gaunt Grains: Land: Gaunt Grains enters play tapped. {t}: add {p} to your mana pool.  {t}: tap {1} of your opponent’s mana.  “Then seven other heads of grain sprouted, thin and scorched by the desert wind…” Genesis 41:6-7

That’s when Joseph’s old cellmate, who works for the Pharaoh now, remembers Joseph.  So he tells the Pharaoh and the Pharaoh sends for Joseph.  He has the grain dream, and he has the same kind of dream but with 7 heavy metal cows eating 7 kid-friendly plush cows.  Nobody in the whole kingdom had been able to figure out that bad crops eating good crops… was a metaphor for bad crops and good crops!  7 years of plenty, followed by 7 years of famine.  Amateurs.

But AGAIN, Joseph gets promoted for it!  I swear, this kid becomes everyone’s favorite or makes people want to kill him.  There is no middle group.  So now he’s Vice Pharaoh of Egypt (don’t look that up I made it up).  He starts calling for grain to be put away in mills in the 7 good years to save up for the bad.  He starts calling for cows to be put away in – wait that’s not how cows work.  Grain it is.  If you had Celiac disease, you were out of luck.

And now we come full circle: when the famine hits, Joseph’s brothers come begging to Egypt.  He recognizes them, but they don’t recognize him – which makes you wonder what the Vice Pharaoh was doing watching every person in line at the food court to see when the showed up.  So he throws them a banquet, frames them with robbery, watches them grovel, and gets a smug moment where they’re at his knees, just like in the first dream he had.  Then he tells them it’s him.

And that’s every underdog’s fantasy, ladies and gents.  You are special and too good to work, people hate you because they’re just jealous, but that’s okay because the rest of your life people will just give you things.  Then you can bully your bullies right back and they’ll be sorry and love you like they should’ve.

THE END

Coat of Colors

*Coat of Colors: Equip (w)(u)(g): When equipped creature would be destroyed, Enslave it to an opponent’s creature instead (Coat of Colors’ creature remains yours, but your opponent treats this creature’s abilities as theirs. It untaps on their untap step).
Put a counter on Coat of Colors on each of your opponent’s turns, to a maximum of 7. Discard all counters: opponent gives control of X land to Coat of Colors’ player as long as Coat of Colors is in play.
“…and he made him a coat of many colors.”
Genesis 37:3