The Bible repeats itself too much—Part 5: Retelling the same story again for no reason

This is the fifth in a series of posts about unnecessary repetition in the Bible.

The first chapter of 1 Chronicles repeats a lot of the genealogy lists from Genesis.

In the middle of Exodus 6, it says God told Moses to go tell Pharaoh to let his people go, and Moses objected that Pharaoh wouldn’t listen to him because he wasn’t a good speaker. Then the writer decides to interrupt the story to tell you all about Moses’s genealogy. And when that’s over, the chapter ends by saying that God told Moses to go tell Pharaoh to let his people go, and Moses objected that Pharaoh wouldn’t listen to him because he wasn’t a good speaker.

A later chapter of Exodus says when the Egyptian army tried to cross through the parted sea, God put the water back in place and drowned them all, but the Israelites were able to walk all the way through the sea on dry ground. Then in the next chapter, it says the same thing.

In the book of Numbers, God tells Moses to climb a mountain and look at the promised land from a distance. He tells him he’s going to die on that mountain without getting to actually enter that land, because Moses “disobeyed” God at Meribah. Then the book of Deuteronomy has God tell Moses the same thing. I don’t know if this is supposed to be the same event or if God is just repeating himself, but it seems pretty unnecessary either way.

Joshua tells the people what to tell their children about the monument made from stones taken out of the Jordan river. Then later in the same chapter, he tells them again? Or it tells about him telling them, again, or whatever.

The book of Joshua tells how Othniel married his cousin Aksah after Aksah’s father promised to give her to whoever captured Kiriath Sepher, and how Aksah asked her husband to ask her father for some springs of water, but then she asked him herself instead. Then the book of Judges tells about all that again.

There are passages in Joshua and 1 Chronicles that both list which towns the Levites got from each tribe (though the numbers and names don’t always match very well…).

The last chapter of Joshua tells about Joshua’s death, and then the second chapter of Judges says almost exactly the same thing, but with one sentence moved to a different place.

Continue reading The Bible repeats itself too much—Part 5: Retelling the same story again for no reason
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The Story of David and Jonathan
The Gay Story

Saul hates David, Saul’s children love David

After David killed Goliath, women from all over Israel started singing and dancing and claiming that David had slain tens of thousands, but Saul had only slain thousands. This made Saul jealous and angry at David, and they became enemies.

The next day, Saul tried to kill David twice by throwing a spear at him, but he missed both times. Since Saul wasn’t able to kill David himself, he decided to let his other enemies do it for him. So Saul offered to let David marry his daughter Merab if David fought some more Philistines. But David didn’t think he was worthy of becoming the king’s son-in-law, because he wasn’t rich and famous enough.

(Even though women all over Israel were singing his praises. Even though he had been chosen by God to become king of Israel. Even though Saul had promised to give great wealth and his daughter to whoever killed Goliath.)

So Merab married somebody else. But Saul found out that his other daughter, Michal, was in love with David, so Saul offered to let David marry her if he killed 100 Philistines. So David forgot about his supposed unworthiness, and killed 200 Philistines and brought their foreskins to Saul,1 and then David married Michal. Then Saul found out that Michal was in love with David. Again.

But David loved Saul’s son Jonathan more than he loved women. Jonathan loved David too, so he took off his clothes and became one with him. Jonathan informed David (who had already had to dodge Saul’s spear twice) that Saul was trying to get David killed. Jonathan knew this because Saul had told Jonathan to kill David. Then Jonathan told Saul that there was no reason to kill David for no reason, so Saul promised to stop trying to kill David.

Idol threats

But then God sent an evil spirit that made Saul throw a spear at David again, so David ran away from Saul’s house and stayed at his own house. Saul sent men to wait outside David’s house that night and kill him in the morning. When David realized that Saul’s men had come to kill him, he wrote a song about it.2 Then he threatened to kill his wife if she didn’t help him escape, so she lowered him through a window, and distracted Saul’s men with a decoy made from an idol that she had handy for some reason.

Saul went after David so he could capture him and kill him, but when he ran into Samuel and some other men, God made Saul strip off his clothes and lie down with the men and spend the night with them.

Continue reading The Story of David and Jonathan
The Gay Story
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Does following Jesus enable you to drive out demons?

Yes.

Jesus gave his twelve disciples authority to drive out demons, and they went out and drove out many demons. After that, he sent out a larger group of his followers, who he didn’t specifically say he was giving authority over demons. And the demons submitted to them, too.

In fact, Jesus said everyone who believes in him will be able to drive out demons. People Jesus hasn’t personally chosen can drive out demons if they invoke his name. And people who consider themselves followers of Jesus, even if Jesus disagrees with them about that, can still drive out demons.

No.

There was at least one time when Jesus’s disciples failed to drive out a demon. Depending on which gospel you read, Jesus’s excuse for this failure was either that this particular demon was of a kind that required a different exorcism process, or that his disciples didn’t have enough faith to drive out demons at all. Either way, it wasn’t enough that these people were Jesus’s closest followers, and that he had personally given them authority over demons. They still couldn’t do it.

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All about Satan

This is a summary of everything the Bible has to say about Satan.

Who’s Satan?

Satan is the prince of demons, and the enemy of Jesus. Also known as the devil, the evil one, the accuser, the tempter, the prince of this world, the ruler of the kingdom of the air, Beelzebul, Belial, etc.

What does he look like?

According to the one verse in the Bible that describes his appearance, the devil is red and has horns. More specifically, he’s an enormous red dragon with seven heads, ten horns, and seven crowns.

Where does he live?

He lives in the city of Pergamum. But he roams all over the earth.

What does he do?

He does bad things. And he causes others (including God!) to do bad things. The devil is the father of lies. He was a murderer from the beginning, and he holds the power of death (or at least he used to).

Does he ever do anything good?

Sometimes Satan pretends to be good, and the Bible mentions him actually doing “good” things at least twice (good according to the Bible, anyway): Paul said that Satan would destroy someone’s flesh so that person’s spirit could be saved. And he said Satan would teach people not to blaspheme.

How powerful is he?

Satan can perform all sorts of signs and wonders to display his power. The whole world belongs to him and is under his control. But he has no power over Jesus, and he can’t harm anyone born of God. With the help of God’s protection, Christians have overcome the evil one. The devil will flee from anyone who resists him.

He sounds pretty easy to beat. What’s going to happen to him?

Continue reading All about Satan
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Was Paul under the law?

Paul told his Corinthian followers that in order to persuade people who were under the law, he would sometimes act as if he was under the law. But he said he wasn’t actually under the law.

Then he said in order to persuade people who weren’t under the law, he would sometimes act as if he was not under the law. But he said he actually was under God’s law, and not free from it. Which is just the opposite of what he just said in the previous verse.

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The Story of David and Goliath
David Risks His Life for Nothing

Goliath, a Philistine who was almost ten feet tall, challenged Israel to choose a man to fight him one-on-one. The losing nation would then become subject to the winning nation. David was told that King Saul would give great wealth and his daughter to the man who killed Goliath. So David told Saul he would fight Goliath.

Saul thought David was too young and inexperienced to do that, but David pointed out that as a shepherd, he had plenty of experience killing things. Saul let David try on his armor, but David (Saul’s armor-bearer) wasn’t used to bearing Saul’s armor. So he went to fight Goliath with no armor and no sword.

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David Risks His Life for Nothing
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Were the Jebusites driven out?

When the Israelites were about to enter the promised land, Joshua told them that God was certainly going to drive out the nations that were already living there, including the Jebusites.

But later in the book of Joshua, it says the tribe of Judah failed to make the Jebusites leave Jerusalem. Instead, they have had to live alongside them “to this day”. Later, the book of Judges says the Benjamites weren’t able to drive out the Jebusites either. And again, it says they still live there together “to this day”.

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