God wanted to punish King Solomon for worshiping other gods. But he liked Solomon’s dead father too much to do that. So he decided to wait until Solomon was dead and punish his son instead.
A prophet announced that God was going to let most of Israel be taken over by Jeroboam, one of Solomon’s officials. Solomon wisely attempted to hinder God’s plan by killing Jeroboam. But before he could, Jeroboam fled to Egypt, where he waited for Solomon to die. Solomon was succeeded by his son Rehoboam.
The people of Israel told Rehoboam they would serve him, but only if he didn’t make them work as hard as his father had. Rehoboam wasn’t sure how to answer them, so he asked for advice. The elders he asked said he should give the people what they wanted. But the young men he asked said he should make the people work even harder. While torturing them with scorpions.
To punish Rehoboam for what his dead father had done, God made Rehoboam decide to follow the bad advice of the young men. This caused most of the Israelites to turn against him. Israel made Jeroboam their king instead of Rehoboam, but the tribes of Judah and Benjamin seceded from Israel. They became the kingdom of Judah, and kept Rehoboam as their king.
Continue reading The Story of Rehoboam and Jeroboam—
The Kingdom Splits in Two
God was feeling angry at his people, and needed an excuse to punish them. So he told David to take a census of Israel. David’s commander Joab thought God’s idea was repulsive for some reason, but he helped David count the Israelites anyway.
After taking the census, David decided that Joab was right, that what he had done was foolish and sinful, and God agreed. God sent a prophet to ask David how he would like to be punished for obeying God. David didn’t fear God as much as he feared men, so he said he would prefer God to punish him himself, rather than sending David’s enemies to punish him.
Continue reading The Story of David’s Census—
Morning by Morning He Dispenses With Justice
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
David went to Nob with his companions, whoever they were. Ahimelek the priest wanted to know why David had come there alone, and David claimed that Saul had sent him on a secret mission.
The priest gave David some bread that only priests were allowed to eat, and he ate it. David knew that Saul’s servant Doeg would tell Saul that the priests of Nob had helped David. So he ran away to the land of the Philistines, and left the priests to their fate.
Continue reading The Story of the Priests of Nob—
David Gets Away with Lying, Sacrilege, and Reckless Endangerment
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, 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, God rejected Saul as king of his people. Again.
Continue reading The Story of the Rejection of Saul—
Not Evil Enough to Please God
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.
Continue reading The Story of the Calling of Samuel—
Why the Family of Eli Was Cursed
Some people claimed that followers of Jesus were speaking against the law and saying that Jesus was going to change the customs given by Moses. But those were false witnesses. Paul didn’t believe Christ promoted sin. Jesus himself said he had not come to abolish the law. He said as long as the world exists, not even the smallest bit of the law will disappear. After he healed a leper, Jesus told him to go through with the rituals that the law of Moses requires.
According to Jesus, the law is still very important. Keeping the commandments is how you get eternal life! So you must be careful to do everything the teachers of the law tell you. You can’t get into the kingdom of heaven unless you’re even better at obeying the law than law-obsessed people like the Pharisees. (Even they didn’t keep the law thoroughly enough to satisfy Jesus.) And even after you make it into the kingdom of heaven, he says your status there will be determined by how strictly you keep the law.
A lot of the things Jesus taught were in contrast to the Jewish law given by Moses. Jesus would specifically mention one of Moses’s laws, and then contrast that with how he thought people should behave. Sometimes he was just adding to what Moses taught, but other times he was telling people not to do what Moses had told them to do.
For instance, Jesus thought the command to love your neighbor also said you should hate your enemy. It doesn’t actually say that, but that’s what Jesus seemed to think the law was. And he said you should do the opposite. Then there’s the “eye for an eye” rule, which actually is in the Old Testament law. Jesus told people to disregard that law, and to instead encourage people who mistreat you to mistreat you even more.
Continue reading Did Jesus want people to obey the law?
The women of Moab and Midian, following the advice of God through his prophet Balaam, invited the Israelite men to have sex with them and worship the gods of Moab. This made God angry, so he decided to kill all the Israelites yet again, and he told Moses, the leader of Israel, to kill all the leaders of Israel. So Moses told the judges of Israel to kill all the Israelites who had worshipped a Moabite god.
God had already killed tens of thousands of Israelites himself, when an Israelite leader brought a Midianite woman into his tent. When Aaron’s grandson Phinehas saw this, he followed them into the tent and killed them with a spear. This somehow turned away God’s anger and convinced him not to kill all the Israelites. God was so pleased with Phinehas that he made a covenant of peace with him and said the descendants of Phinehas would always be God’s priests.
Continue reading The Story of the Moabite/Midianite Clusterfuck—
The Origin of the Priesthood