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.

Post-exodus

Moses’s father-in-law advised him to choose capable men and put them in charge of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens, and have them serve as judges for the people at all times, deciding the simple cases themselves, but bringing the difficult cases to Moses. Then it says Moses chose capable men and put them in charge of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens, and had them serve as judges for the people at all times, deciding the simple cases themselves, but bringing the difficult cases to Moses.

The Bible says God gave Moses a list of things to tell the people to bring, then it says Moses gave the people that same list of things to bring, and then it lists those things that the people brought. Then it says Moses listed some more things for the people to bring, and then it says the people brought those things too.

It says God told Moses how he wanted the tabernacle made, and then it says people made the tabernacle that way (describing the parts of the tabernacle at length both times). It says God told Moses to have a bunch of stuff made for the tabernacle, and then it says someone made all that stuff for the tabernacle (describing the stuff at length both times). It says God said to make some more stuff for the tabernacle, and then it says they made that stuff too (describing the stuff at length both times).

It says God told Moses how he wanted the priests’ clothes made, and then it says people made the priests’ clothes that way (describing the clothes at length both times). It says God told Moses everything he needed to do to consecrate the priests, and then it says Moses did all that (describing the rituals at length both times).

God told Moses to count all the Israelites who were eligible to serve in the army. Then it says Moses had all the Israelites who were eligible to serve in the army counted. God told Moses he had to confine his sister for a week before God would retract the disease he had inflicted on her. Then it says Moses confined his sister for a week. God told Moses to have each of the 12 tribal leaders give him a staff, and to put the staffs in the tent of meeting. Then it says Moses had each of the 12 tribal leaders give him a staff, and he put the staffs in the tent of meeting.

Joshua told the priests to take up the ark of the covenant and go ahead of the people. Then it says the priests took up the ark of the covenant and went ahead of the people. After they went into the parted Jordan river, God told Joshua to tell 12 men to carry 12 stones from the middle of the Jordan to the place where they would stay the night. Then Joshua told 12 men to carry 12 stones from the middle of the Jordan. And then it says they carried 12 stones from the middle of the Jordan to their camp. God told Joshua to tell the priests to come out of the Jordan. Then Joshua told the priests to come out of the Jordan. And then it says the priests came out of the Jordan.

God told Joshua to make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites. Then it says Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the Israelites. God told Joshua to destroy Jericho by having people circle it 13 times and blow trumpets and shout. Then it says Joshua had people circle Jericho 13 times and blow trumpets and shout, and the city was destroyed. God told Joshua to hold out his javelin toward another city. Then it says Joshua held out his javelin toward that city.

Joshua told his men to bring out the five kings they had trapped in a cave. Then it says they brought out the five kings they had trapped in a cave. Joshua told his men to put their feet on the kings’ necks. Then it says they put their feet on the kings’ necks.

Joshua told the people to appoint some men to explore the promised land and write a description of it. He told the people that when the men came back, he would cast lots to distribute the land among the people. Then he told the men that when they came back, he would cast lots to distribute the land among the people. Then it says the men went to explore the promised land, and wrote a description of it. And when they came back, Joshua cast lots to distribute the land among the people.

Post-settlement

Boaz told a relative to come over and sit down. Then it says he came over and sat down.

David told Mephibosheth that Mephibosheth would always eat at his table. Then he told Ziba that Mephibosheth would always eat at his table. Then it says Mephibosheth ate at David’s table. And then it says Mephibosheth lived in the city of David, because he always ate at David’s table.

After David’s son Adonijah tried to become king, Nathan the prophet and Bathsheba agreed that Bathsheba should go to David and ask him why Adonijah had become king instead of Solomon, and that Nathan would then also go to David with the same complaint. Then it says Bathsheba went to David and asked him why Adonijah had become king instead of Solomon, and then Nathan also went to David with the same complaint.

Jezebel wrote to the elders and nobles to proclaim a fast, put Naboth in a prominent place, put two scoundrels across from him to falsely accuse him, and have him stoned to death. Then it says the elders and nobles proclaimed a fast and put Naboth in a prominent place, two scoundrels sat across from him and falsely accused him, and he was stoned to death. With Naboth the vineyard owner out of the way, Jezebel told her husband Ahab to go take that vineyard he had wanted. Then it says Ahab went and took the vineyard.

Elijah told the captain who had come for him, “May fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!” Then it says fire came down from heaven and consumed the captain and his fifty men. (And then the same thing happened again, and then it almost happened again.)

Elisha predicted that food would be sold at normal prices again the next day, and that an officer who doubted that prediction wouldn’t get to eat it. Then it says food was sold at normal prices the next day just like Elisha had said, and the officer was too dead to eat it.

Elisha told another prophet to go to Ramoth Gilead and pour oil on Jehu and say God was making him king of Israel, and then open the door and run. Then it says the prophet went to Ramoth Gilead and oiled Jehu and said God was making him king of Israel, and then he opened the door and ran.

It says Elisha told King Jehoash to get a bow and arrows, and he did. He told him to take the bow in his hands, and he took it. He told him to open the window, and he opened it. He told him to shoot, and he shot.1

It says God told Jeremiah to buy a belt and put it on, and he bought a belt and put it on. He told him to go and hide the belt, and he went and hid the belt. He told him to go and get the belt, and he went and got the belt. Jeremiah said God told him his cousin was going to come and ask him to buy a field, and he said his cousin then came and asked him to buy a field.

God told Ezekiel to stand up on his feet, and told him he was going to speak to him. Then he made him stand up on his feet, and spoke to him. God called for some people with weapons in their hands, and some people came with weapons in their hands.

Post-exile

Nebuchadnezzar summoned a bunch of officials to come to the dedication of his giant idol, and all those officials came to the dedication of the idol. The herald said when certain instruments were sounded, everyone had to worship the idol or be thrown into a blazing furnace. When those instruments were sounded, the people worshiped the giant idol. Then when Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego were singled out, Nebuchadnezzar told them that if they didn’t worship the idol when those instruments were sounded, they would be thrown into a blazing furnace. And they were thrown into a blazing furnace.

Later, another king of Babylon ordered people to bring him the gold goblets that had been taken from God’s temple, so the king and his nobles and his wives and his concubines could drink from them. Then it says they brought him the gold goblets that had been taken from God’s temple, so the king and his nobles and his wives and his concubines could drink from them.

Some enemies of the Jews wrote to the king of Persia saying he should have the archives searched for records about Jerusalem, where he would find that that city had a history of rebellion. Then the king wrote back to them saying he had had the archives searched for records about Jerusalem, and he had found that it had a history of rebellion.

Jesus told a paralyzed man to get up, take his mat, and go. Then it says the man got up, took his mat, and went. After driving demons out of another man, Jesus told him to go and tell how much God had done for him. Then it says the man went and told how much Jesus had done for him.

John the Baptist sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Then those disciples came to Jesus and said, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?

Jesus told a parable where a man who has gone astray decides to go back home and say, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” Then the man goes home and says, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.

The author of Revelation heard a voice telling him to go and take a scroll from an angel. Then it says he went and asked the angel for the scroll. The angel told him to take it and eat it, and told him that it would be as sweet as honey in his mouth, but then it would turn his stomach sour. Then it says he took the scroll and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in his mouth, but then it turned his stomach sour.

To be continued…

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