Who was Maakah’s father?

According to 1 Kings, King Abijah’s mother Maakah was the daughter of Abishalom. Then in 2 Chronicles, it says she was the daughter of Absalom. That’s probably supposed to be the same name, just written a little differently.

(From the context, it sounds like that likely means David’s son Absalom. That would mean Abijah’s father Rehoboam married his cousin, which might seem weird and unlikely to some people, but note that there are two more first cousin marriages mentioned right there in that same passage. Absalom’s mother was also named Maakah, so maybe he named his daughter after her.)

Two chapters later, though, it says Maakah was the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. That doesn’t sound like the same person at all. Absalom was born in Hebron, not Gibeah.

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The Story of the Calling of Samuel
Why the Family of Eli Was Cursed

A man named Elkanah had two wives, named Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah didn’t, because God wouldn’t let her. Peninnah kept tormenting Hannah about this for years, and she was miserable. Her husband told her she should stop crying, because she had him, which was better than having children. Hannah silently asked God to give her a son. When Eli, the priest and leader of Israel, saw her mouth moving but didn’t hear her saying anything, he told her she needed to stop getting drunk.

Then God let Hannah have a son, and she named him Samuel. She was so happy to finally have a son that she gave him away to Eli, whose sons were scoundrels. Eli tried to get his sons to change their ways, but God wouldn’t let them repent, because he wanted an excuse to kill them.

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Why the Family of Eli Was Cursed
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Can money save your life?

No.

No payment is ever enough to get God to let someone live forever, so your money will fail to save your life eventually. There’s nothing you can give in exchange for your soul. There is something you can get that will save your life permanently, but it’s not something you can buy with money. But what about when someone’s life gets cut shorter than normal? Can money help prevent that?

No, the wicked can’t save themselves with their treasure. God’s law does not allow murderers to bribe their way out of the death penalty. It doesn’t allow accidental killers to bribe their way out of being killed if they leave the city of refuge. And it doesn’t allow people to bribe their way out of being murdered if someone has decided to “give them over to the Lord” by “devoting them to destruction“.

Having money isn’t as good as having wisdom and knowledge, because money doesn’t preserve those who have it. Wealth is not what will save you from death. It’s worthless for that. So the rich shouldn’t put their hope in wealth. Those who trust in their riches will fall.

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Does wisdom make people happy?

Yes.

The Bible often says that wisdom brings happiness. Wisdom is like honey. Getting wisdom is extremely desirable and rewarding, because of how pleasant the ways of wisdom are. If you have wisdom, it will brighten your face, and you’ll love your life. Wise people don’t have to live in fear, and they don’t get angry easily, either. Folly, on the other hand, will just get you punished, so that’s no fun.

The wisdom of one person makes other people happy, too. Wise children bring their parents joy, unlike foolish children. Fools don’t give God any pleasure, either. Solomon’s people must have been very happy, getting to hang around him and listen to his wisdom all the time.

You should at least learn the sayings of the wise and start saying them yourself. It says that’s pleasing too. I’m not sure who that’s supposed to please, but it’s definitely pleasing. Or is it?

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The Story of Ruth and Boaz
How I Met Your Great-Grandmother

Ruth was a Moabite woman who married an Israelite man named Mahlon, whose parents, Elimelek and Naomi, had moved to Moab from Judah because of a famine. Naomi’s and Ruth’s husbands both died. When the famine was over, Naomi moved back to Judah, and Ruth chose to go with her, rather than looking for a new husband in Moab. In Judah, Ruth met a man named Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi’s dead husband. Boaz had heard that Ruth was good to Naomi, so he was good to Ruth.

Naomi wanted Ruth to remarry, so she told Ruth to go sneak up on Boaz and lie down with him while he was sleeping. That night, Boaz woke up and found Ruth lying there with him. This was a pleasant surprise, because he was so old. But he said there was another man Ruth should marry rather than him, because that man was more closely related to her first husband. Boaz told Ruth to stay with him for the rest of the night, and then hurry home before anyone saw them together.

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How I Met Your Great-Grandmother
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Were Adam and Eve naked when God confronted them?

The Bible says after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they heard God coming, and hid behind trees. Adam said the reason he was afraid to be seen was that he was naked. So clearly they were naked when God found them. Afterward, God made them garments out of skin and clothed them.

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The Bible repeats itself too much—Part 3: Implementing plans

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

When characters are telling each other what they’re planning to do, and everything then goes according to plan, a good book will tend to skip telling you the plan, and will just tell you what happened when the plan was carried out. A bad book, like the Bible, will instead tell you all the details of what’s going to happen, and then tell you all the same details again when it gets to the part where it happens.

The Bible says God told Noah he was planning to flood the world. He told him to make an ark to save some people and animals before it rained for 40 days. Then it says Noah did that, some people and animals entered the ark, and it rained for 40 days as God flooded the world. After the flood was over, God told Noah to come out of the ark with his family and all the animals. Then it says Noah came out with his family and all the animals.

God told Abraham to circumcise all the males in his household. Then it says Abraham circumcised all the males in his household.

After Joseph and his family were reunited in Egypt, he said he would go tell Pharaoh his family had come and that they were shepherds, and then Pharaoh would let them live in Goshen. Then it says Joseph went and told Pharaoh that his family had come and that they were shepherds, and Pharaoh said he would let them live in the best part of the land in Goshen. And then it says Joseph’s family went to live in the best part of the land. Later, Jacob told his sons to bury him in Canaan in the cave Abraham had bought. Then after Jacob died, it says his sons buried him in Canaan in the cave Abraham had bought.

Moses said God was going to kill all the firstborn males in Egypt, whether they were royalty, captives, or animals, and there would be loud wailing. Then it says God killed all the firstborn males in Egypt, whether they were royalty, captives, or animals, and there was loud wailing.

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Does God deceive people?

No.

The Bible says God doesn’t lie. In fact, it’s impossible for him to lie. He wants everyone to know the truth, so all his words are flawless and true. His promises are always trustworthy. If he says he’ll do something, he’ll do it. His words never fail. He’s not a mere flawed human being, after all. If a prophet claims to be speaking for God, but what he says turns out not to be true, you can be sure that that message didn’t actually come from God. If it had, it would have been true.

Yes.

The Bible also says God does inspire false prophecies. Sometimes he completely deceives people with his prophecies. He said he intended to test his people by sending them false prophets. God is in control of whether people see false visions. He has been known to send deceiving spirits to intentionally trick prophets into making false predictions.1 He has also been known to have his prophets knowingly make false predictions.

So God’s claim that you can tell a prophecy isn’t from him if it’s false… is false. In fact, the Bible says all prophecy comes from God, so he must be responsible for all the false ones. And there are a ton of false prophecies in the Bible.

Was God actually deceiving people all those times, though? Could it be that he was just mistaken about what was going to happen? Or maybe he changed his mind about what he was going to do? Nope. The Bible says God knows everything, which means he’s never wrong. And he never changes his mind, either. Therefore, every single false statement he makes is a LIE. And God makes a lot of false statements in the Bible.

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Why believe in miracles

A miracle is a supposed event that is contrary to the laws of nature. The idea is that an event like that can only be explained as the work of a supernatural being like God. Who else would be capable of breaking the laws of the universe? Here are a few of the problems with the concept of miracles.

When you hear a report of a miracle, consider how often people say things that aren’t actually true. What seems more likely, that a real miracle happened (something that goes against the way we’ve always known the world to work), or that the person claiming a miracle happened1 lied or was mistaken (something that happens all the time)?2

Particularly in the case of miracles reported in ancient times, it would be easy for people as ignorant as they were back then to be fooled. People who think faith is a virtue would probably be pretty easily fooled as well.

What’s God got to do with it?

What if it turns out that an apparently miraculous event can actually be explained in terms of ordinary natural phenomena? It may still be amazing, and it may be useful… But there’s no reason to think it’s a true miracle in that case, and it’s not very strong evidence of anything supernatural.

Even if we assume the stories in the Bible aren’t entirely made up, a lot of the miracles reported there have possible natural explanations. And that’s just based on what we know about the natural world. There’s no way to know for sure that an apparent miracle doesn’t have a non-supernatural cause that we don’t know about yet.

Even if you’re convinced that a violation of the laws of nature has occurred, that’s no reason to think it has anything to do with anything supernatural. Maybe nature just doesn’t happen to be perfectly consistent or lawful. And in a lot of cases, even if you accept that it’s proof of something supernatural, there’s no reason to assume that an apparent miracle is evidence of the existence of any particular god, or that someone performing miracles was sent by God.

Why couldn’t there be some other god behind it, or some other explanation you haven’t thought of? There’s no reason to think that the cause of a miracle has to be all-powerful, or have any of the other attributes God is said to have. If all you know is that you can’t think of any usual explanation for what happened, all you can reasonably conclude is that you don’t know how it happened.

If you were to take one religion’s miracles as proof that that religion was true, how would you explain all the other religions’ miracles? People of many different religions believe they have experienced miracles that can only be explained by their religion being true. They can’t all be right. People of many different religions also believe that miracle claims associated with other religions are all false. They can all be right about that.

The Bible even says evil people and evil spirits can perform miraculous signs of their own. So why assume miracles have anything to do with God? It would make just as much sense to conclude that your religion’s miracles are the devil’s way of tricking you into believing in a false religion.

Miracles are things that don’t happen

Is it even possible in principle for the laws of nature to be broken? What exactly are the laws of nature? The word “law” here means a universal principle stating that things always happen in a certain way given certain conditions, which we take to be a fact as a result of extensive observation or experimentation. The laws of nature are our descriptions of how reality works. And anything that contradicts an accurate description of reality can’t be real.

There is always a possibility that our current ideas about the laws of nature aren’t perfectly accurate, and will need to be revised. What if we knew for a fact that an event had occurred that violated what we believed to be the laws of nature? That would just mean that we were mistaken about those laws, and we would need to update our concept of the laws of nature to accommodate that new knowledge of reality. And that would mean that the surprising event should no longer be considered a violation of the laws of nature, or a miracle.

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