Ben Zuckert | Straight Out of the Bible
Never too old
Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 02:09
The other day, over a tuna fish sandwich (Whole Foods brand tuna, sourdough, cheddar), I thought to myself, “I’ll never become a biblical scholar.” Then I looked at the shelf life on the can of tuna: two and a half years. How is that possible? As you may or may not remember, last week I briefly mentioned the shelf life of chicken, so it seems food expiration is a developing theme in this column.
Let’s get back into it.
This week, it’s one of my all time favorite passages: Genesis 17. It’s the only one I remember from Hebrew School, so I’m not sure what that says about me. Here’s how it all goes down. God makes a covenant with Abram (who he renames Abraham), gives him the land of Canaan and promises to be there for his descendants forever. In return, Abraham must circumcise himself (he’s 99), all of his men and their newborn male babies. Abraham and his men get circumcised, and God keeps the covenant.
So many questions, so little time.
Abraham was 99? He was 99? What were the expressions on his men’s faces when he told them what they had to do? Who did the deed? What did their wives think? Did they do it sober? Abraham was 99? Canned tuna lasts two and a half years?
Let’s move on.
This passage, while incredibly thought provoking, does not seem to have any direct correlation with the usual Tufts experience. But then again, that’s probably a good thing. That’s why I had to think outside the box to make a real connection. That’s what the Tufts education is all about.
Okay, imagine your friends want to go to some themed party, but you’re feeling exceptionally lazy. You still have time to make a quick run to Goodwill, but it feels so far away. The “leader” of your friend group, however, tells you that you have to go, that it’ll be one of the best parties of the year. This friend is your Abraham. He’s got the word from God (Facebook) that a lot of people are planning to go and that the whole ordeal of finding and putting together a costume is going to be worth it.
Imagine you were one of Abraham’s men when he described the covenant. Wouldn’t you try to convince Abraham to renegotiate the deal? The problem is, your Abraham is adamant about this party and you can’t change his mind. And then you realize all your friends have already been convinced to go. Do you want to be that odd man out who doesn’t dress up (circumcise himself) and feels left out? Exactly. Do you want to watch your friends pregame (watch everyone else get circumcised) when this all goes down? Definitely not.
So, Abraham’s covenant seems to suggest that dressing up for a party is worth it in the long run. To be fair, there’s going to be some pain in the short run, but with a solid amount of alcohol involved, you’re good to go. Plus, you can re-gift that blazer for Father’s Day. (June 15; don’t forget.)
And last but not least: the ladies. When Abraham’s men did the deed, they immediately had a conversation starter with women who would say to them, “Why do you look so pale?” or “Oh, can I see?” or “God told you to do that?” It totally works the same way at the party. If you’ve got the swag, girls will notice, and then maybe they’ll come to you. It doesn’t get easier than that. The choice is yours.
Ben Zuckert is a senior majoring in political science. He can be reached at Ben.Zuckert@tufts.edu.