Moses told his people that when they attacked a city, they shouldn’t cut down the city’s trees. Or at least not the fruit trees. That would be silly; the trees aren’t your enemies. Trees are useful, and fruit trees in particular are most useful when they haven’t been cut down.
God punished Jeremiah’s enemies when they called him a fruit tree and plotted to cut him off and destroy him.
Jesus told a parable where he seemed to approve of a man deciding not to cut down a fig tree even though it hadn’t produced any fruit for three years. (That man Jesus approved of was open to cutting the tree down if it was still unproductive after another year of special care, though…)
The prophet Elisha encouraged the king of Israel and his allies, telling them that with God’s help, they would successfully overthrow their Moabite enemies. He said they would stop up all the Moabites’ springs, ruin all their good fields, and cut down all their good trees. Apparently God thinks spitefully cutting down the enemy’s trees is a good thing now.
Continue reading Should fruit trees be destroyed?
When Samuel was getting old, his evil sons were next in line to take over the nation. The people of Israel suggested appointing a king to lead them instead. But Samuel didn’t think that was a good idea, so he asked God about it. God didn’t like the idea either, because he thought that meant his people wouldn’t consider him their king. But he told Samuel to do it anyway.
So Samuel warned Israel that their king would steal their property and enslave them. And he said God would never save them by putting an end to the king’s reign. The people said they wanted a king anyway, because all the other nations had kings. When God heard this, he said Samuel should go ahead and give them a king.
A tall, handsome young man named Saul came to Samuel to see if the prophet could tell him where his father’s lost donkeys were. Before he could ask him, Samuel told Saul that the donkeys had already been found while he was away looking for them.
Then Samuel took Saul home with him and kissed him and oiled him and told him God had made him the ruler of his people. Saul hid, but when the people of Israel found out that he was to be their king, they got God to find him for them. And they dragged him out and made him their king.
Continue reading The Story of the Inauguration of Saul—
Your Cattle or Your Eyes
Gideon was another judge of Israel. He destroyed a pagan object of worship that his father had made, and then he made his people a new one. He also tortured or killed anyone who wouldn’t give his men free food. The Israelites liked Gideon so much, they wanted him to become their king. But he refused. After Gideon died, his son Abimelek murdered his 70 brothers, and then he was made the first king of Israel.
Continue reading The Story of King Abimelek—
The King Who Wasn't Killed by a Woman
Samson got a new girlfriend, named Delilah. Samson’s enemies, the Philistines, paid Delilah to figure out Samson’s secret weakness, so they could capture him. So Delilah asked Samson three times how such a strong man could be successfully tied up, and Samson gave her three false answers.
Each time, Delilah tied him up the way he suggested while he was sleeping, and then woke him up by telling him the Philistines had come for him, but Samson easily broke out of his restraints. Delilah kept nagging him every day, saying if he really loved her, he would tell her how to drain his strength and allow his enemies to capture him. So he did.
Continue reading The Story of Samson and Delilah—
Brawn and No Brains
Samson was another judge, who saved his people when God let the Philistines take over Israel. Samson was a life-long Nazirite, which required him to abstain from wine, corpses, and haircuts.
While Samson was on his way to a Philistine city to visit a Philistine woman, he was attacked by a lion. God gave him the strength to easily kill the lion with his bare hands. Later, when he was on his way to the Philistine city again to marry the Philistine woman, he found that some bees had made a nest in the lion’s body. He took some honey out of the dead lion and shared it with his parents. But he didn’t tell anyone where the honey came from.
Samson challenged 30 Philistine men to try to solve a riddle by the end of his week-long wedding feast. They agreed that the losing party would have to give the winning party 30 sets of clothes. So Samson told them a “riddle” that they couldn’t possibly make sense of without knowing about the lion incident that no one but Samson knew about.
The Philistine men realized that Samson was unfairly trying to take their property. So they threatened to burn down his new wife’s house unless she told them the answer to the riddle. Samson’s wife cried constantly for the rest of the week until Samson gave her the answer. Then she told the answer to the men, and the men gave the answer back to Samson.
Samson knew those 30 Philistine men must have cheated, since there was no other way they could have possibly solved his “riddle”. But he gave them the promised 30 sets of clothes… which he got by killing 30 other Philistine men.
Continue reading The Story of Samson’s Riddle—
Out of the Strong, Some Way to Cheat
A Levite man’s girlfriend broke up with him and went back to live with her parents. But then he followed her to her parents’ house and took her back. On the way back to the man’s home, they stopped for the night in Gibeah, a city of the tribe of Benjamin, and stayed in an old man’s house.
Some of the Benjamite men from that city came and surrounded the house. They told the old man to send the Levite man out so they could have sex with him. The old man said he couldn’t let them have sex with his guest, because that would be outrageous and vile. So he offered to let them rape his daughter and his guest’s girlfriend instead.
The Levite man thought that was a good idea, so he sent his girlfriend outside. The men of Gibeah spent the whole night gang-raping her to death. Then the man went home, and he chopped up his girlfriend into a dozen pieces and had them distributed all over the country.
Continue reading The Story of the Levite’s Concubine—
The Most Pointlessly Evil Story in the Bible
In the book of Revelation, the author has a vision of the future where the heavens are rolled up like a scroll, and every mountain is “removed from its place“. Then the next thing he sees is everyone hiding in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. How can they do that if the mountains aren’t there anymore?
Continue reading Will all the mountains be removed when the heavens recede?
In 2 Kings, it says Nebuzaradan, a commander working for the king of Babylon, burned down all the important buildings in Jerusalem, including the temple, the palace, and all the houses. It says he did this on the 7th day of the 5th month of the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar.
Continue reading When did Nebuzaradan burn down the buildings of Jerusalem?
Because Moses did a miracle the wrong way once, God had decided not to let him bring his people into the promised land after all. So when Moses was 120 years old, God sent him to the top of a mountain, where he saw the land from a distance, and then died. God chose Moses’s assistant Joshua to replace Moses as the leader of Israel.
Joshua sent two men to spy out the land of Canaan. They stayed in the house of a prostitute named Rahab, in the city of Jericho. She told the spies everything they needed to know.
The king of Jericho heard that there were Israelite spies in the land. He sent men to tell Rahab to hand over those men who had come to her house. But Rahab hid the spies and told the king’s men that the spies had already left. So they went to look for the spies elsewhere.
Continue reading The Story of the Battle of Jericho—
Two Spies and One Hooker