In the book of Isaiah, God gives a comforting message to a desolate, barren woman. She has never been able to have children, but God says now she will have children. You can tell she still doesn’t have a husband, though. After this woman has children, God contrasts her with a woman who does have a husband, making it clear that the first woman does not.Continue reading Does the desolate woman have a husband?
Category Archives: The bad book
Non sequiturs in the Bible
The Bible is a very badly written book. Among many other flaws, it’s full of unintentional non sequiturs. It says things that have no logical connection to what came before, or that don’t make sense given what was just said.
Old Testament stories
After God promises not to kill everyone and everything again, his next statement starts out sounding like he’s going to be expanding on that. Or maybe making another promise, or at least saying something important. He ends up just saying that seasonal cycles and stuff aren’t going to stop as long as the world exists. Who said they would? That wasn’t ever in question, was it? Why bring it up?
Job is trying to convince his friends of how severe his hardship is. Then he decides to start talking about food he doesn’t like, that he refuses to eat. That doesn’t seem relevant, and it doesn’t help his case. Later, after he’s been trying to convince his friends that God is unjust, Job randomly starts arguing against his own position.
After that, Elihu insists that God is perfectly good and just… and then for some reason he brings up the possibility that God could easily kill everyone. Then God sarcastically asks Job if he knows where light and darkness live. He implies that to know that, Job would have to have been “already born“. He doesn’t explain when he thinks Job would have to have been born. Or what Job’s age has to do with whether he can know about something that’s happening right now.
When Jacob is in the middle of giving blessings (and curses) to his sons, he randomly tells God he’s looking for his deliverance.
1 Chronicles begins with some genealogies. It seems like these are supposed to consist of lists of the sons of someone who it already mentioned in a previous list of sons. But a lot of times, it will list the sons of people who it never mentioned before. It never explains who these people are, or how they fit into the genealogy.
It does this with Seir, Jahdai, Etam, Kenaz, Caleb son of Jephunneh, Jehallelel, Ezrah, Hodiah’s wife, Shimon, Shelah son of Judah,1 Abihail son of Huri son of Jaroah son of Gilead son of Michael son of Jeshishai son of Jahdo son of Buz,2 Shemida, Helem,3 Jether, Ulla, Shimei, and Jeroham. It does the same thing again later in the book, too. It says Beno and others are the sons of Jaaziah, whoever that is.
God appears in a burning bush and tells Moses that he has “indeed” seen the misery of his people in Egypt… even though no one had brought that up before he said that.
God says he normally speaks to prophets in dreams. Then he says that’s not how it is with Moses, and as part of the same sentence, he mentions how faithful Moses is. As if that was part of the contrast with all God’s other prophets.
When Joshua is in the middle of announcing a miraculous sign that’s about to happen, just before he gets to the part about the actual miracle, he tells the people to choose twelve men. As far as I can tell, that doesn’t have anything to do with the miracle.
Later, the two tribes descended from Joseph point out that Joshua has only given them enough land for one tribe. Joshua tells them what they can do if the hill country isn’t enough for them. The descendants of Joseph then ignore what Joshua just said, and inform him that the hill country isn’t enough for them.
There’s a Bible verse that tells the backstory of Mephibosheth son of Jonathan son of Saul… inserted in the middle of a story about a different son of Saul, that has nothing to do with any of those people.
Solomon reports that God has said he would live in a dark cloud. Then as part of the same sentence, and without a “but”, Solomon says he has provided a new place for God to live. He says this as if he was affirming what God had just said he would do, rather than disregarding and contradicting it.
After Elisha tells his servant to go to the Shunammite’s home, the Shunammite says she refuses to go. But she’s not the one he told to leave. Then it says Elisha gets up and follows the Shunammite. How can he follow her if she’s not going anywhere?
The queen of Sheba story is interrupted for two verses to inform you that somebody had brought Solomon some stones and wood at some point.
Jeremiah 52 tells the story of the fall of Jerusalem, but interrupts it to tell us the details of what was in the temple (which we already heard about a long time ago).
The book of Daniel says the four smart Jews who were taken to serve the king of Babylon were given new names, “but” Daniel didn’t want the royal food. It had mentioned the food before, but that was way back four sentences before the “but”.
New Testament stories
Part of Mary’s response to the announcement that God is going to impregnate her is to declare something irrelevant about secretly proud people getting scattered.
Just a few verses after John baptizes Jesus, it mentions that John is in prison, with no explanation.
The gospel of Matthew says Jesus told his disciples not to tell anyone who he really was. And it says the reason for that was to fulfill a prophecy from Isaiah… which says nothing about keeping secrets.
Jesus is constantly making non sequiturs. He expresses his amazement at how much faith someone has. Then suddenly he’s talking about many people getting into (and other people getting thrown out of) the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus describes the things he’s doing for various people. He says he’s taking away the problem each particular disadvantaged category of person has… until he gets to the poor. Instead of actually doing anything about their situation, all he does is “proclaim good news” to them. And then right after listing the good things he’s doing for people, he says something different that suggests that something bad could happen to people because of him.
Jesus starts to answer a question about when everything will end. But he ends up just stating whether certain things will end. When people ask Jesus where his father is, instead of answering, he just tells them that they don’t know his father.
When Peter asks him who he’s talking to, it says “Jesus answered” …but he doesn’t actually answer the question. Jesus instead asks something about the story he was telling. That’s not an answer. And when Peter asks him where he’s going, he doesn’t answer that either. He just says his disciples can’t follow him there. This guy is not good at answering questions.
When asked for a sign, Jesus gets annoyed and declares that he’s not going to give anyone a sign… right after doing a miracle in front of thousands of people.
Do you see this woman? Jesus came into Simon’s house.
Jesus warns his disciples in a confusing way about the Pharisees. Then instead of explaining himself, the next thing he says is a repeat of what he said four chapters ago, that in the future there will be no secrets. And it was a non sequitur that time, too.
Jesus acts like he’s just done a miracle and healed a man, and he claims that people are angry at him because of that. Even though he hasn’t done any healing miracles since two chapters ago. And that wasn’t in the presence of the people he’s talking to now. And these people aren’t angry with him about anything yet.
Jesus gets a “dead” girl to stand up and walk around and she’s twelve years old. Yes, it says that last part as part of the same sentence in the Bible. If they needed to mention her age, they should have done that at the beginning of the story, not at the end.
Jesus’s response to a man begging him to restore his son’s sanity is to get angry at his whole generation. He wishes he didn’t have to live among them anymore, that he didn’t have to put up with them wanting help with their health problems. Oh, and he thinks this has something to do with all those people being “unbelieving”? Then that man declares that he believes… so he asks Jesus to help him overcome the unbelief that he doesn’t have.
When Jesus tells his disciples that the least of them is the greatest, they have no response to that (which is understandable I suppose). Instead, the next thing they say is that they tried to stop someone from driving out demons.
Jesus explains that by driving a demon out of a man, he has actually made that man much worse off… and someone thinks that’s a good reason to bless his mother for giving birth to him.
Jesus knows that he was sent by God, and that everything is under his power. So he gets up from the table and takes his clothes off.
Caiaphas acts like he’s disagreeing with the other chief priests, when he’s actually agreeing with what they just said (that Jesus must be stopped in order to save the Jewish nation). When Pilate asks the Jewish leaders what their charge against Jesus is, they just say they wouldn’t have handed him over if he wasn’t a criminal. Nobody had said he wasn’t a criminal.
The high priest asks Stephen if the charges against him are true. They’re not, but instead of answering, Stephen decides to recite the history of Israel. As if the priests didn’t already know about that. After Stephen gets himself killed with all his stupid answers, the remaining disciples are persecuted and expelled from the region… and then they’re filled with joy, for some reason?Continue reading Non sequiturs in the Bible
Was Solomon a wise man when he became king?
Joab and Shimei were both violent men who had wronged King David at some point. David let them live, but before he died, he told his son Solomon to kill those men. David said he trusted Solomon to know how to deal with those people, because Solomon was a man of wisdom. But David also described Solomon as young and inexperienced.Continue reading Was Solomon a wise man when he became king?
The Story of the Lost Ark—
God Gives You Cancer
Back when Israel was led by Samuel, there had been a war between the Israelites and the Philistines, and Israel was losing. The Israelites thought it might help if God was with them, so they brought out the ark of the covenant. When the Philistines heard that a mighty enemy god had arrived, they were afraid, and they knew they would have to fight hard to defeat Israel. So the Philistines fought hard, and defeated Israel.
They killed tens of thousands of Israelites, captured the ark of God, and took it to the temple of their god Dagon. But then Dagon started bowing down to the ark, and the Philistines started getting tumors. They tried moving the ark to different cities, but Philistines died wherever the ark went.
After seven months of this, the Philistines decided they should send the ark away. They put the ark on a cart and let two cows take it back to Israelite territory. When the Israelites saw that the cows had brought their ark back, they were so grateful that they… killed the cows.
But then when 70 Israelites looked inside the ark at the things that God had told Moses to put there so people could look at them, God killed them all. Now the people who had found the ark of God didn’t want to keep it, since it seemed to bring death everywhere it went. So they sent the ark to the house of some guy named Abinadab.Continue reading The Story of the Lost Ark—
God Gives You Cancer
Should people be circumcised?
God made an everlasting agreement with Abraham that required all his male descendants to be circumcised, as well as any other males who lived with them.
God doesn’t just want babies to be circumcised. Even if you’re 99 years old, you should still get circumcised. That’s what Abraham did, and he always did what God wanted him to do. God also once had Joshua circumcise all the Israelite men, all at once.
Jesus thinks circumcision laws are so important that they override Sabbath laws. In addition to mandating the circumcision of Israelite boys, God’s law says even a Gentile man can only celebrate God’s holy days if he and every male he lives with are circumcised. The Bible also says if you’re not circumcised, you can’t marry a daughter of Israel. That would be a disgrace.
Even if God’s chosen nation and other nations do practice circumcision, God isn’t satisfied. He thinks they’re not circumcised enough.
The apostles were troubled when they heard rumors that Paul was teaching Jews to give up circumcision, so they suggested a way Paul could try to disprove those rumors. Paul agreed to do so, because he actually thought circumcision was a valuable thing.
Paul says he used to think it was good to be circumcised, but now he considers it a loss. He calls people who practice circumcision evildoers and mutilators of the flesh.
He even says circumcised people can’t be saved! If you’re circumcised, you’re trying to be justified by the law. To actually be justified that way, you would have to follow all of God’s laws perfectly, but no one can actually do that. So if you get circumcised, all you’re really doing is rejecting God’s gift of forgiveness. You’re alienating yourself from Jesus, who will therefore be of no value to you at all.Continue reading Should people be circumcised?
The Bible’s questions, answered—part 1: Answers to questions in Genesis
The Bible contains a lot of questions, and it doesn’t always provide satisfactory answers. So now I’m going to be answering some of the Bible’s questions myself. You’re welcome.
Pharaoh asks Abraham: Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? Answer: Because otherwise, you would have killed him and then taken her anyway.
Abimelek asks God: Will you destroy an innocent nation? Answer: Not sure why you would think he’d do that, since he never said anything about destroying your nation. Sounds like something he would do, though.
Sarah asks: Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Answer: God.
Esau asks: What good is my birthright to me? Answer: You’ll probably need that if you want to get blessed.
Isaac asks Jacob: How did you find this meal of goats for me so quickly? Answer: It’s called agriculture.
Esau asks: Isn’t he rightly named Jacob? Answer: Yes. God doesn’t seem to think so, though.
Isaac asks Esau: What can I possibly do for you, now that I’ve given your blessing to your brother and made you his servant? Answer: I’m sure you could think of something, if you wanted to. You could make his servitude temporary. You could also make sure his brother is a kind and generous master. At the very least, you could refrain from cursing him.
Leah asks Rachel: Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband? Answer: She did not. You’re still married to him. Not that you were ever supposed to be in the first place.
Leah asks Rachel: Will you take my son’s mandrakes too? Answer: No, she’s just asking for them, not taking them.
Laban asks Jacob: What have you done? (Laban’s self-answer: You’ve deceived me, and you’ve carried off my daughters like captives in war.) Real answer: No, that’s not what he’s done at all. All he’s done is leave with the daughters who you let him have, and who agreed to go with him.
Laban asks Jacob: Why did you run off secretly and deceive me? Why didn’t you tell me, so I could send you away with joy and singing to the music of timbrels and harps? Answer: Because that’s not what you would have done.
Esau asks Jacob: What’s the meaning of all these flocks and herds I met? Answer: They’re a gift for you. You’ve already been told that.
The Egyptians ask: Why should we die? Our money is all gone. Answer: Because your money is all gone.
The Egyptians ask Joseph: Since our money is gone and all our livestock belongs to you now, why should we perish? Answer: Because your money and livestock are all gone.
God asks Cain: Why are you angry? Answer: Because you refused his perfectly good offering, in favor of someone needlessly killing animals.
God asks Cain: If you do what’s right, won’t you be accepted? (Implied answer: Yes.) Real answer: Apparently not. Cain has behaved more ethically than his brother up to this point, and he hasn’t even disobeyed any commands, yet you have not accepted him.
God asks Cain later: What have you done? Answer: He has become a killer, like his brother. That seems to be the only way to make you happy.
God asks: Hagar, slave of Sarai, where did you come from? Answer: She came from Sarai. But you obviously already knew that, so why ask?
God asks: Why did Sarah laugh at the thought of having a child at her age? Answer: How about because some stranger just came along and claimed that she was going to give birth when she was already more than a decade older than the world record?
God asks: Is anything too hard for God? (Implied answer: No.) Alternative biblical answer: Yes, many things. In a future blog post, I will write all about God’s many failures that are documented in the Bible, which show that plenty of things are too hard for God.
God asks: Shall I hide from Abraham what I’m about to do? Answer: Apparently you won’t. Why, did you forget that hiding it from him wasn’t part of your eternal plan?
God hears crying, and sends an angel to ask Hagar: What’s the matter? Answer: Probably something to do with the fact that you just had her and her child sent out into the desert to die.Continue reading The Bible’s questions, answered—part 1: Answers to questions in Genesis
Should people make images?
Right near the top of the Ten Commandments, God says you shall not make an image of anything on earth or anything in heaven. (And you shouldn’t worship those images, either.) That would mean you had become corrupt. God’s law says not to make any idols or any metal gods. That would definitely mean you had become corrupt (at least if you made them in the form of something God had forbidden). If you do that, God will get angry, and soon everyone in your land will die.
According to the prophets, idols and the people who make them are worthless. Those people are sinning, and they will all be disgraced. There is shame and scorn and terror and destruction in store for them. God will punish people because of the lifeless forms of their images. And images doesn’t just mean idols. God also thinks wall paintings of certain kinds of animals are wicked and detestable. God gets so angry over images people have made, he feels the need to destroy entire cities.
Joshua mentions that the Israelites were already worshipping idols back when they were slaves in Egypt. And rather than deciding that this made them evil people who didn’t deserve to live, God performed miracle after miracle in an elaborate effort to rescue those pagans and give them a land of their own. He didn’t even mention their idolatry until later, so it must not have bothered him all that much.
God commanded Moses to make some things in the image of things on earth, like plants and a snake.
God also told Moses to make two cherubs out of gold. These cherubs were not only a graven image of something in heaven, but part of the ark of the covenant, which, just like other idols, was treated as a representation of a god and an object of worship. When Joshua bowed down to the ark, God rebuked him not for idolatry, but only because God didn’t happen to like what Joshua was asking for. Apparently God doesn’t have a problem with this particular idol.
The whole temple that God had Solomon build was a copy of something in heaven.
God himself has made images of something in heaven. He made man in his own image. And he made some people in the image of Jesus, who he had also made in his own image, as an exact representation. Everything God does is perfectly good, so we should follow his example and make our own images of God.Continue reading Should people make images?
The Story of King Ish-Bosheth—
The One Where Nearly Everybody Gets Killed, But It's Not God's Doing for a Change
After Saul and his whole family died, his dead son Ish-Bosheth succeeded him as king of Israel. But David was made king of the tribe of Judah. The commander of the army of Israel was Saul’s cousin Abner, and the commander of the army of Judah was David’s nephew Joab.
These commanders thought it would be fun to see some men stab each other to death. So they made two dozen of their soldiers stab each other to death. But Joab’s brother Asahel didn’t like that, so he chased Abner. Abner didn’t like that, so he stabbed Asahel to death. Joab didn’t like that, so he chased Abner, too. But then Abner suggested not chasing him. So Joab stopped chasing him.
King Ish-Bosheth offended his commander Abner by accusing him of sleeping with Saul’s girlfriend. So Abner decided to desert Ish-Bosheth and help David take over Israel. When Abner offered to help David become king of all Israel, David agreed to let him do that… but only if he did David a favor first.
By this time David had married at least four women. But Saul had taken back his daughter Michal, David’s first wife, and given her to somebody else. David had Abner steal Michal back for him and make her other husband go away. After doing that, Abner went off to convince the Israelites to make David their king.
But David’s commander Joab didn’t like Abner, who had killed Joab’s brother. Joab thought Abner must have only come there to spy on David for Ish-Bosheth. So Joab found Abner and stabbed him to death. David didn’t like that (even though he had previously declared that Abner must die). So David put a curse on Joab’s family, and later had his son kill Joab.Continue reading The Story of King Ish-Bosheth—
The One Where Nearly Everybody Gets Killed, But It's Not God's Doing for a Change
Did the disciples know Jesus would be resurrected?
The gospel of John says that Jesus’s disciples still didn’t understand that Jesus was going to rise from the dead… even after Jesus had already risen from the dead.Continue reading Did the disciples know Jesus would be resurrected?
Can folly be removed?
Solomon says flogging people is a good way to make people less simple-minded. He says you can cure your child’s folly by beating your child with a rod.
But later, he says no matter how much you crush and pulverize fools, you can’t remove their folly. After all, the Bible says witless people becoming wise is as impossible as a donkey giving birth to a human.Continue reading Can folly be removed?