Tag Archives: foolishness

The Story of the Rejection of Saul
Not Evil Enough to Please God

King Saul attacked his enemies, the Philistines, but the Israelite army was outnumbered and had almost no weapons, so they ran and hid. Saul tried making a burnt offering so God would help him. But then Samuel told him that was a foolish thing to do, and now God had rejected Saul and would have to find a new king for his people.

Later, Samuel told King Saul that God wanted him to break God’s law and kill all the people and animals in the city of Amalek for the sins of their ancestors. So Saul ambushed the city and killed all the people except the king of the Amalekites,1 and all the animals except the best ones, which his men were planning to sacrifice to God later. Then God realized that he had made a bad decision when he made Saul king. Because Saul had failed to kill everyone and everything immediately,2 God rejected Saul as king of his people. Again.

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Not Evil Enough to Please God
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Age discrimination in the Bible

Here’s what the Bible has to say about how people should be treated (or how they were treated) based on their age.

God told his people to consecrate every firstborn male to him, whether they were humans or animals, and they would belong to him. I can’t tell if that’s a good thing or a bad thing for the firstborn. It could mean they’re declared sacred, and therefore entitled to respect. It could also mean they have to be dedicated to the service of God, which sounds a lot like forced labor.

It could even mean that God wants his people to make sacrifices of their firstborn sons. God says to do the same thing with your firstborn sons that you would do with firstborn animals, which are to be killed when they’re given to God. But it also says some animals and sons can be redeemed, and don’t have to be killed.

Whatever it means, God apparently decided the Levites would replace the firstborn males in that role. So it doesn’t even really matter what would have happened to the firstborn. Or does it? A thousand years later, the Jews still thought they needed to bring the firstborn of their sons and livestock to the house of God…

There’s a passage where God tells exactly how much he thinks different kinds of people are worth. For instance, he thinks males are always worth more than females of the same age. As for age differences in value, God says 20-60-year-olds are worth the most. People between five and twenty are less valuable, and people over 60 are worth less than that. Children one month to five years old are valued even less. And babies under a month old aren’t even worth mentioning.

God assigned duties at the tent of meeting to male Levites who were 25 or older. But he didn’t allow them to work anymore after they reached 50.

The psalmist who wrote the longest chapter in the Bible claimed to have more understanding than the elders.

God mentioned that when Babylon attacked his people, they showed no mercy even to the aged. I can’t tell if he approves of that, though. That chapter is generally disapproving of Babylon, but punishing his people is exactly what God wanted Babylon to do…

Paul says you shouldn’t be harsh when you tell older men what to do.

Against younger people

The law of Moses demands that people show respect for the elderly and stand up in their presence. Paul also said younger people need to submit to their elders.

Elihu was afraid to speak up at first, thinking it was best to listen to older and wiser people. But after Job and his three friends had been arguing for 29 chapters and had gotten nowhere, Elihu decided he could be at least as wise as them. So he gave his own six-chapter-long speech, but everyone completely ignored him.

When God had Moses count the Levites, he specifically had him exclude anyone less than a month old.

God’s law says a man has to give his firstborn son twice the inheritance a younger son would get, whether he wants to or not.

The law says it’s okay to take young birds out of a nest, but it’s not okay to take the mother.

Saul didn’t think David would be able to fight Goliath, because David was “only a young man“.1 Goliath didn’t think much of him either.

Solomon thought beating your children with a rod was a loving thing to do, and would make them wiser. He thought not beating children was a disgrace, and the only possible reason anyone would refuse to do it was that they hated their children. Proverbs insists that if you beat children, they definitely won’t die.

King Rehoboam consulted both old and young people to help him decide whether he should give the people what they were asking for. The Bible says he ended up following the advice of the young people, and he lost most of his kingdom as a result.

Hezekiah had his people donate heaps of food “to the Lord”, which actually all went to the priests and Levites. Even though the priests and Levites had more than they needed, they didn’t distribute food among themselves to anyone below a certain minimum age.

Isaiah thought children weren’t good at counting. Paul said underage people are no different from slaves. When “Matthew” estimates how many people Jesus fed, he says how many men there were, and only mentions as an afterthought that there were also women and children. Jesus thought people didn’t have enough respect for children. But even he equated being the youngest with not being so great.

Paul told his followers not to care for any widows who were under 60.

Against older people

Joseph thought his firstborn son should be blessed the most. But his father Jacob insisted on giving the better blessing to Joseph’s younger son. Similarly, Hosah the Merarite treated one of his own younger sons as if he was the firstborn.

To convince Pharaoh to let his people go, God killed every firstborn in Egypt.

There’s an oddly specific biblical law that says you can’t cook a young goat in its mother’s milk. There’s no rule against cooking an older goat in its mother’s milk,2 but don’t do it to a young goat!

When Moses told the Israelites to attack nations that weren’t even anywhere near the land they were trying to take over, he said they should offer to enslave everyone in those nations. If a nation refused this “offer of peace”, then the Israelites would kill all the men, and only enslave all the women and children.

Boaz was surprised that Ruth showed interest in a man as old as him. He expected young women like her to run after the younger men.

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The Story of Jonathan and the Cursed Honey
Saul Tries to Starve His Own Army

During a war with the Philistines, King Saul’s son Jonathan ate some honey that he found on the ground. But then someone informed him that his father had said anyone who ate anything that day would be cursed. Jonathan thought that was dumb. By depriving them of food, Saul was making his army too weak to fight the Philistines. So Jonathan sneaked away and started killing Philistines himself. Then God made the Philistines panic and attack each other so the Israelites wouldn’t have to.

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Saul Tries to Starve His Own Army
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The Story of the Inauguration of Saul
Your Cattle or Your Eyes

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.

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Your Cattle or Your Eyes
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The Story of King Abimelek
The King Who Wasn't Killed by a Woman

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.

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The King Who Wasn't Killed by a Woman
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Should a fool be answered according to his folly?

The book of Proverbs says you should not answer a fool according to his folly. That’s because that would be a foolish way to respond, and then you would be no better than the fool.

It then immediately contradicts itself and says you should answer a fool according to his folly. Because if you don’t, the fool will go on thinking he’s wise.

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The Story of Samson and Delilah
Brawn and No Brains

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.

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Brawn and No Brains
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Should people gain knowledge?

No.

When God created humans, the very first command he gave them was that they must not eat fruit from the tree that would give them wisdom and knowledge about morality. God thinks knowledge can mislead people. He overthrows people who dare to learn things. It’s a fatal mistake even to try to find out what God wants you to do, because he won’t punish you as much if you don’t know you’re doing anything wrong.

Solomon didn’t think it was honorable to “search out matters that are too deep“. He said the more knowledge you have, the more grief you will have. He thought you should be willfully ignorant, just because you might not like what you hear.

Paul said everyone should just continue believing whatever they already believe, rather than learn the truth. He thought it was best to know almost nothing. He thought knowledge just made people arrogant. Sometimes Paul didn’t seem to think people should know anything, except maybe if they didn’t know they knew anything.

Yes.

But God causes people to gain knowledge, so it must be a good thing, right? When God offered to give Solomon anything he wanted, Solomon asked for wisdom and knowledge, and God was so pleased with that choice that he gave him bonus gifts that he hadn’t asked for as well.

Solomon wrote proverbs to give people knowledge, and he encouraged people to listen to the knowledge others had. He said knowledge is extremely valuable, as well as pleasant to have. Desire without knowledge is not good. Knowledge makes people strong and helps rulers maintain order. Righteous people have knowledge, which helps them survive. If you’re wise, you will have knowledge, which fools lack, and you will seek to gain more knowledge. Knowledge comes along with fear of God. Only fools hate knowledge.

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The Story of the Levite’s Concubine
The Most Pointlessly Evil Story in the Bible

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.

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The Most Pointlessly Evil Story in the Bible
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The Story of Jephthah’s Sacrifice
The Stupidest Story in the Bible

The people of Israel angered their God again by serving other gods. So God let the Ammonites take over Israel, and he said he would never save his people again. But his people insisted on being saved, so the never-changing God, who never listens to sinners, changed his mind and appointed a new judge to save Israel: Jephthah, the leader of a gang of scoundrels.

Jephthah asked the Ammonite king why he was attacking Israel. The king explained that the Israelites had stolen the Ammonites’ land, and the Ammonites wanted it back. Jephthah was like, that never happened, what would you know about that? The king ignored him.

So Jephthah went to attack the Ammonites, which God had forbidden the Israelites to do. He promised that if God helped him disobey God in this way, he would give God whatever met him at the door when he came home, as a burnt offering. The all-knowing God knew what would happen if he did this, but he wanted that burnt offering. So he helped Jephthah destroy twenty Ammonite towns, and he didn’t warn Jephthah’s family to stay indoors.

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The Stupidest Story in the Bible
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