Tag Archives: pointlessness

The Story of David and Abigail
David Expects to be Treated Like a King Prematurely

David sent messengers to a rich man named Nabal, asking him to give David and his men something, anything he could find. David thought Nabal owed him something in exchange for not harming Nabal’s employees. But Nabal chose not to give David anything, since he didn’t even know who David was. So David took 400 men with him and went to attack Nabal and murder all the men who worked for him.

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David Expects to be Treated Like a King Prematurely
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The Bible repeats itself too much—Part 6: Saying the same thing in different ways

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.1 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).2 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.

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The Story of the Hunt for David
David Joins Israel's Enemies

David went to the Philistine city of Gath to escape from Saul. But the people there thought they recognized him as a notorious Philistine slaughterer. So David pretended he was insane, and then he ran away and hid in a cave.

Then he went into a city and fought the Philistines who were attacking it. But God told him that Saul was coming, and that the people of the city would hand him over to Saul to keep him from destroying their city. So David left the city, and what God predicted didn’t happen.

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David Joins Israel's Enemies
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The Bible repeats itself too much—Part 5: Retelling the same story again for no reason

This is the fifth in a series of posts about unnecessary repetition in the Bible.

The first chapter of 1 Chronicles repeats a lot of the genealogy lists from Genesis.

In the middle of Exodus 6, it says God told Moses to go tell Pharaoh to let his people go, and Moses objected that Pharaoh wouldn’t listen to him because he wasn’t a good speaker. Then the writer decides to interrupt the story to tell you all about Moses’s genealogy. And when that’s over, the chapter ends by saying that God told Moses to go tell Pharaoh to let his people go, and Moses objected that Pharaoh wouldn’t listen to him because he wasn’t a good speaker.

A later chapter of Exodus says when the Egyptian army tried to cross through the parted sea, God put the water back in place and drowned them all, but the Israelites were able to walk all the way through the sea on dry ground. Then in the next chapter, it says the same thing.

In the book of Numbers, God tells Moses to climb a mountain and look at the promised land from a distance. He tells him he’s going to die on that mountain without getting to actually enter that land, because Moses “disobeyed” God at Meribah. Then the book of Deuteronomy has God tell Moses the same thing. I don’t know if this is supposed to be the same event or if God is just repeating himself, but it seems pretty unnecessary either way.

Joshua tells the people what to tell their children about the monument made from stones taken out of the Jordan river. Then later in the same chapter, he tells them again? Or it tells about him telling them, again, or whatever.

The book of Joshua tells how Othniel married his cousin Aksah after Aksah’s father promised to give her to whoever captured Kiriath Sepher, and how Aksah asked her husband to ask her father for some springs of water, but then she asked him herself instead. Then the book of Judges tells about all that again.

There are passages in Joshua and 1 Chronicles that both list which towns the Levites got from each tribe (though the numbers and names don’t always match very well…).

The last chapter of Joshua tells about Joshua’s death, and then the second chapter of Judges says almost exactly the same thing, but with one sentence moved to a different place.

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The Story of David and Jonathan
The Gay Story

Saul hates David, Saul’s children love David

After David killed Goliath, women from all over Israel started singing and dancing and claiming that David had slain tens of thousands, but Saul had only slain thousands. This made Saul jealous and angry at David, and they became enemies.

The next day, Saul tried to kill David twice by throwing a spear at him, but he missed both times. Since Saul wasn’t able to kill David himself, he decided to let his other enemies do it for him. So Saul offered to let David marry his daughter Merab if David fought some more Philistines. But David didn’t think he was worthy of becoming the king’s son-in-law, because he wasn’t rich and famous enough.

(Even though women all over Israel were singing his praises. Even though he had been chosen by God to become king of Israel. Even though Saul had promised to give great wealth and his daughter to whoever killed Goliath.)

So Merab married somebody else. But Saul found out that his other daughter, Michal, was in love with David, so Saul offered to let David marry her if he killed 100 Philistines. So David forgot about his supposed unworthiness, and killed 200 Philistines and brought their foreskins to Saul,1 and then David married Michal. Then Saul found out that Michal was in love with David. Again.

But David loved Saul’s son Jonathan more than he loved women. Jonathan loved David too, so he took off his clothes and became one with him. Jonathan informed David (who had already had to dodge Saul’s spear twice) that Saul was trying to get David killed. Jonathan knew this because Saul had told Jonathan to kill David. Then Jonathan told Saul that there was no reason to kill David for no reason, so Saul promised to stop trying to kill David.

Idol threats

But then God sent an evil spirit that made Saul throw a spear at David again, so David ran away from Saul’s house and stayed at his own house. Saul sent men to wait outside David’s house that night and kill him in the morning. When David realized that Saul’s men had come to kill him, he wrote a song about it.2 Then he threatened to kill his wife if she didn’t help him escape, so she lowered him through a window, and distracted Saul’s men with a decoy made from an idol that she had handy for some reason.

Saul went after David so he could capture him and kill him, but when he ran into Samuel and some other men, God made Saul strip off his clothes and lie down with the men and spend the night with them.

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The Gay Story
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The Story of David and Goliath
David Risks His Life for Nothing

Goliath, a Philistine who was almost ten feet tall, challenged Israel to choose a man to fight him one-on-one. The losing nation would then become subject to the winning nation. David was told that King Saul would give great wealth and his daughter to the man who killed Goliath. So David told Saul he would fight Goliath.

Saul thought David was too young and inexperienced to do that, but David pointed out that as a shepherd, he had plenty of experience killing things. Saul let David try on his armor, but David (Saul’s armor-bearer) wasn’t used to bearing Saul’s armor. So he went to fight Goliath with no armor and no sword.

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David Risks His Life for Nothing
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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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The Bible repeats itself too much—Part 4: Recounting what already happened

This is the fourth in a series of posts about unnecessary repetition in the Bible. Last time, I wrote about how often it redundantly describes events that are going to happen before describing them as they happen. As if that wasn’t enough, the Bible also has to redundantly describe the same things it already described happening, after they happen.

The Bible says Job was blameless and upright, and he feared God and shunned evil. Then it says God told Satan that Job was blameless and upright, and that he feared God and shunned evil. When God spoke to Job, he asked who was obscuring his plans without knowledge. He said he would question Job, and Job would answer him. Later, he said it again. Job never did answer any of God’s questions, but he did inform God that God had asked who was obscuring his plans without knowledge, and that he had said he would question Job, and that Job would answer him.

Abraham sent a servant to find a cousin for his son Isaac to marry. The Bible tells all about how the servant managed to find one, and then it tells what he said when he told the girl’s brother all about how he managed to find her. Later, it says Isaac told his son Jacob to marry one of his cousins from Paddan Aram, rather than marrying a Canaanite, and it says Jacob went to Paddan Aram. Then it says Isaac’s other son Esau learned that Isaac had told Jacob to marry one of his cousins from Paddan Aram, rather than marrying a Canaanite, and that Jacob had gone to Paddan Aram.

Jacob had a dream where he saw that all the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled, or spotted, and then an angel pointed out to him that all the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled, or spotted. Later on, when most of Jacob’s sons were grazing his flocks near Shechem, he told his son Joseph that his brothers were grazing the flocks near Shechem.

The Bible describes two similar weird dreams that a Pharaoh had, and then it has him describe those dreams to Joseph. It tells all about Joseph’s brothers’ dilemma when he made them think their father would have to give up his favorite remaining son, and then it has them tell Joseph about it. Then it says Joseph told his brothers that God had put him in charge of Egypt, and to tell their father that he said God had put him in charge of Egypt.

The story of the exodus is told in the book of Exodus, and then recounted in Nehemiah. In Exodus, God gives Moses the Ten Commandments, and the people tell him not to have God talk to them directly. Then in Deuteronomy, Moses’s retelling of those events is longer than when the story was told in the first place.

Same when Moses retells the golden calf story. And when he recounts the time they killed all the Amorites because God had made their king “stubborn”. And the time they killed all the men, women, and children in Bashan. He retells the story of the twelve explorers, too. The Bible tells what God told Moses about the men he chose to work on the tabernacle, and then it tells it again when Moses is reporting that to the people.

It says God refused to let Balaam go with Balak’s officials, and then Balaam told Balak’s officials that God had refused to let him go with them, and then Balak’s officials told Balak that Balaam had refused to go with them. Moses told the people that they had told him not to let God talk to them, and he said God had heard them when they talked to Moses, and he said God told him that he had heard what they had said to Moses. It says five kings hid in a cave at Makkedah, and then Joshua was told that the five kings were hiding in the cave at Makkedah.

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The Story of the Calling of Samuel
Why the Family of Eli Was Cursed

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.

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Why the Family of Eli Was Cursed
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The Bible repeats itself too much—Part 3: Implementing plans

This is the third in a series of posts about unnecessary repetition in the Bible.

When characters are telling each other what they’re planning to do, and everything then goes according to plan, a good book will tend to skip telling you the plan, and will just tell you what happened when the plan was carried out. A bad book, like the Bible, will instead tell you all the details of what’s going to happen, and then tell you all the same details again when it gets to the part where it happens.

The Bible says God told Noah he was planning to flood the world. He told him to make an ark to save some people and animals before it rained for 40 days. Then it says Noah did that, some people and animals entered the ark, and it rained for 40 days as God flooded the world. After the flood was over, God told Noah to come out of the ark with his family and all the animals. Then it says Noah came out with his family and all the animals.

God told Abraham to circumcise all the males in his household. Then it says Abraham circumcised all the males in his household.

After Joseph and his family were reunited in Egypt, he said he would go tell Pharaoh his family had come and that they were shepherds, and then Pharaoh would let them live in Goshen. Then it says Joseph went and told Pharaoh that his family had come and that they were shepherds, and Pharaoh said he would let them live in the best part of the land in Goshen. And then it says Joseph’s family went to live in the best part of the land. Later, Jacob told his sons to bury him in Canaan in the cave Abraham had bought. Then after Jacob died, it says his sons buried him in Canaan in the cave Abraham had bought.

Moses said God was going to kill all the firstborn males in Egypt, whether they were royalty, captives, or animals, and there would be loud wailing. Then it says God killed all the firstborn males in Egypt, whether they were royalty, captives, or animals, and there was loud wailing.

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