This is the sixth in a series of posts about unnecessary repetition in the Bible. This time we’re looking at unnecessary and excessive use of synonyms.
The Bible says Abraham lived 175 years. Then he breathed his last, and he also died. He died at a good old age. He was an old man. He was “full of years”. And then he was “gathered to his people”.
God told Abraham’s son Isaac that Abraham had obeyed him, and that he had done everything he required of him. Abraham had done that by keeping God’s commands, and his decrees, and his instructions, too.
Isaac’s grandsons threw their brother Joseph into a cistern, which was empty. Also, there was no water in it. Pharaoh’s cupbearer didn’t remember Joseph, he forgot him. And when there was a famine, Joseph’s father Jacob told his other sons to go buy some grain from Egypt so they would live, and so they wouldn’t die.
After the descendants of Israel moved to Egypt, they were “exceedingly fruitful”, they multiplied greatly, they increased in numbers, and they became so numerous that the land was filled with them.
God gave his people a list of “unclean” animals, and instructed them not to defile themselves by them, or to make themselves unclean by means of them, or to be made unclean by them. He said you shouldn’t have sex with your sister, which he clarified means any daughter of either your father or your mother. Then two verses later, he said you shouldn’t have sex with your father’s wife’s daughter, who is your father’s daughter, who is your sister. And he told the people not to lie, or to deceive one another, or to swear falsely.
God told his people to keep all his decrees, and all his laws, and also to follow them. He told them what would happen if they didn’t listen to him and carry out all those commands, or if they rejected his decrees and abhorred his laws, or if they failed to carry out all his commands and violated his covenant. And the Bible concludes that discussion of God’s rules by stating that those are the decrees, the laws, and the regulations that the Lord established.
When some people were trying to replace Moses as the leader of Israel, Moses had them stand outside their tents with their wives and children, and also with their little ones (so God could kill them all). Then when Joshua was about to actually replace Moses as the leader of Israel (with his approval this time), Moses told the people to be strong and courageous, and not to be afraid or terrified, because God would go with them, and wouldn’t leave them, and wouldn’t forsake them, either. Then he told Joshua to be strong and courageous, and not to be afraid or discouraged, because God would go before them, and be with them, and never leave them, and never forsake them.
The daughter that Jephthah promised God he would murder was an only child, and he had no son nor daughter except for her. A wise lying woman told David she was a widow, and that her husband was dead. After the king of Babylon captured Jehoiachin, he gave him a regular allowance as long as he lived, till the day of his death.
When Nebuchadnezzar’s wise men couldn’t answer his question, he decided to kill them all, because it made him so angry and furious. Then when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to obey his order, he decided to kill them too, because he was so furious with rage.
Esther told her husband the king that Haman was plotting to destroy, kill, and annihilate her people. Jesus said much will be demanded from those who have been given much, and much will be asked of those who have been entrusted with much.
Paul said he ought to do something, and rightly so. It’s right for it to be right for him to do that! He said he was telling the truth, and that he wasn’t lying.
The epistle to the Hebrews says a will can’t be carried out unless you can prove its writer is dead, because a will is only in force when the person has died, and it never takes effect while the one who made it is living.
Continue reading The Bible repeats itself too much—Part 6: Saying the same thing in different ways