The Bible’s questions, answered—part 2: Answers to questions in “the law”

The Bible contains a lot of questions, and it doesn’t always provide satisfactory answers. So now I’m answering some of the Bible’s questions myself. I’ve already answered the ones in Genesis. Now for the rest of the Pentateuch…

Pharaoh asks the Hebrew midwives, who he had told to kill all the new baby Hebrew boys: Why have you let the boys live? Answer: They were just scared of what their God would think. Otherwise they would have been happy to murder all their relatives’ baby boys, apparently.

Moses’s sister asks Pharaoh’s daughter: Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you? Answer: I wouldn’t call it “for her”, no. Since it’s going to be the baby’s own mother doing it.

Pharaoh asks: Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? Answer: He’s a lunatic who isn’t going to let you obey him even if you want to.

Pharaoh asks Moses: Why are you taking the people away from their labor? Answer: Because they never agreed to do that labor?

Pharaoh’s officials ask: How long will this man be a snare to us? Answer: Until God gets tired of fighting against himself.

Pharaoh’s officials ask him: Do you not yet realize that Egypt is ruined? Answer: Yes, he already tried to surrender, but God wouldn’t let him.

Pharaoh asks: What have we done? Answer: You’ve obeyed God and freed his people from slavery… And God is not going to let you get away with obeying him and freeing his people from slavery.

Jethro asks Moses: What’s this you are doing for the people? Answer: Serving as their judge.

Aaron asks: Would the Lord have been pleased if I had eaten the sin offering today? Answer: Not likely. He’s always punishing people for obeying him.

Aaron and Miriam ask: Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Answer: No.

Then they ask: Hasn’t he also spoken through us? Answer: I don’t think the Bible mentions any specific cases of God speaking through Miriam. But it does say she was a prophet.

Balaam’s donkey asks him: What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times? And an angel also asks Balaam: Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? Answer: The donkey tried to prevent him from doing what God told him to do.

Balak asks Balaam: Did I not send you an urgent summons? Answer: Not as far as I know.

Balak asks him: Why didn’t you come to me? Answer: Because God forgot he wanted him to.

Then Balak asks him: Am I really not able to reward you? Answer: No, you are not really not able to reward him.

Balaam asks: How can I curse those whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce those whom the Lord has not denounced? Answer: Same way you can teach them to sin and turn God away from them?

Balaam asks: Who can count even a fourth of Israel? Answer: Moses and Aaron and the leaders of the tribes can count (almost) all of them.

Balaam asks: Must I not speak what the Lord puts in my mouth? Answer: That and a lot of other things, apparently.

After Balaam goes to find out what God wants him to say, Balak asks him: What did the Lord say? Answer: He said “Go back to Balak and give him this word.”

Balaam asks: Does God speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? Answer: Yes.

Balaam asks Balak: Did I not tell you I must do whatever the Lord says? Answer: No, you told him you had to say whatever the Lord said.

Balaam asks Balak: Did I not tell the messengers you sent me that I can’t do anything of my own accord to go beyond the command of the Lord, and I must say only what the Lord says? Answer: No, you told Balak, but I don’t think you told his messengers that.

Balaam asks: Who can live when God does this? Answer: People who aren’t from Cyprus or Ashur or Eber?

Some unspecified people ask: Who can stand up against the Anakites? Answer: Joshua and Caleb.

The Israelites’ questions

A Hebrew man asks Moses: Who made you ruler and judge over us? Answer: Well, the princess did adopt him, so I guess that makes him your prince…

He also asks: Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian? Answer: It’s possible. Moses doesn’t mind killing Israelites.

The Israelite overseers ask Pharaoh: Why have you given us such unreasonable work requirements? Answer: So you’ll be too busy to listen to Moses.

The Israelites ask Moses: Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? Answer: Letting them die in the desert wasn’t Moses’s intention… But, incidentally, God is going to let them die in the desert. (Because they like the land flowing with milk and honey that they came from better than the one he chose for them.)

The Israelites ask Moses: What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Answer: Tried to rescue you from your hardship. Not that that will do much good, since the real cause of your trouble is still with you

The Israelites ask Moses: Didn’t we tell you to leave us alone and let us serve the Egyptians? Answer: Not exactly.

The Israelites ask Moses: Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst? Answer: Because God told him to, because God wants you to die in the desert.

The Israelites ask: Is the Lord among us or not? Answer: No, God won’t dwell among the people until after the world ends.

Some Israelites ask: We have become unclean because of a dead body, but why should we be kept from presenting the Lord’s offering with the other Israelites at the appointed time? Answer: Because you have become unclean because of a dead body.

The Israelites ask: Why did we ever leave Egypt? Answer: Because the Egyptians didn’t want you there anymore.

They ask: Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Answer: Could it have something to do with the fact that Moses insisted on God going with them after God made it clear that he couldn’t do that without killing them all?

Then they ask: Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt? Answer: I doubt you’d be welcome there either.

Some Israelites ask Moses: Why do you set yourself above the Lord’s assembly? Answer: Because God refused to admit that such an ineloquent man wasn’t a good choice.

Those Israelites ask Moses: Isn’t it enough that you have brought us out of Egypt to kill us in the wilderness? Do you want to treat these men like slaves? Answer: Do you want to be slaves or not? Make up your minds.

The Israelites ask: Are we all going to die? Answer: Of course. Who isn’t?

The Israelites ask Moses: Why did you bring us into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? Answer: Because God chose not to teleport them straight into the promised land, because he thought that wouldn’t be as impressive.

The Israelites ask him again: Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? Answer: Because God’s plan is flawed.

The daughters of Zelophehad ask: Why should our father’s name disappear from his clan because he had no son? Answer: Because he had no son.

The Israelites ask: Why should we die now? Answer: Because no one can see God’s face and live.

They ask: What mortal has ever heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire and survived? Answer: Moses.

Moses imagines the Israelites asking: How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord? Moses’s answer: Wait and see if the prediction comes true. If it doesn’t, then you know it wasn’t from God. Real answer: You can’t, generally, because Moses’s false prophecy test ignores the fact that most prophecies have no deadline, and are therefore unfalsifiable.

God imagines future Israelites asking: Have not these disasters come on us because our God is not with us? Answer: That doesn’t seem like a very good way to describe disasters that were caused by your God, no.

Moses’s questions for God

Moses asks: Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt? Answer: You’re an adopted royal family member.

Moses asks God: What should I tell the Israelites if they ask me what your name is? Answer: You could say his name is jealous. Or you could let him give you something even stupider to say, like “I am has sent me to you“.

Moses asks God: What if they don’t believe that you appeared to me? God’s answer: You’ll have to do miracles to convince them. Real answer: Who cares? Offer to rescue them from slavery anyway.

Moses asks God: Why have you brought trouble on your own people? Answer: Because if he didn’t rescue them in this needlessly roundabout and violent way, then he wouldn’t get to show off as much.

Moses asks God: Is this why you sent me? Answer: To cause a lot of unnecessary trouble in Egypt? Pretty much. If all God had wanted to do was get his people out of Egypt, he could have done that instantly and peacefully on his own, without having to send Moses.

Moses asks: If the Israelites won’t listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me? Answer: Because you’ve got a brother to speak for you, as has already been established? And the Israelites did listen to you. They only stopped listening after Pharaoh failed to listen to you, which you’re pretending hasn’t happened yet. You’re getting this all backwards.

Moses asks God: Why should your anger burn against your people? Answer: ‘Cause he’s jealous of other gods that don’t exist? That’s a good reason to commit genocide, right?

Moses asks: Why should the Egyptians say it was with evil intent that God brought his people out of Egypt? Answer: After how he treated them, why wouldn’t the Egyptians think God was evil?

Moses asks God: How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? Answer: He’s not pleased, duh. That’s why he decided not to go with you.

Moses asks: What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth? Answer: The fact that you live away from everyone else?

Moses asks God: Why have you brought this trouble on me? Answer: Are you sure God did it? Because he doesn’t seem happy about the situation either. In fact, nobody does…

Moses asks God: What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? Answer: Nothing. Your all-knowing God apparently just didn’t know you would mind. Now that he knows, he’ll stop doing that to you.

Moses asks: Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Answer: No.

Moses asks God: Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? Answer: He doesn’t?

Moses asks: Where can I get meat for all these people? Answer: Same place you got it last time.

He asks: Would they have enough if flocks and herds were slaughtered for them? Answer: Depends on how many animals you’re slaughtering.

Then he asks: Would they have enough if all the fish in the sea were caught for them? Answer: Briefly.

Moses asks God: Will you be angry with the entire assembly when only one man sins? Answer: That certainly sounds like something he would do. But don’t you mean 254 men?

Moses asks God: What god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? (The works in question consist of destroying nations.) Answer: Well, are the lovers in the parable of the nymphomaniac supposed to represent gods? Because they seem to be capable of destroying nations. And there’s also a foreign god in one of Daniel’s prophecies who seems like he might be able to conquer nations.

Moses’s other questions

Moses and Aaron ask: Who are we, that you should grumble against us? Answer: You are God’s representatives.

After Moses takes the Israelites to a place where there’s no water, he asks them: Why do you quarrel with me? Answer: Because they have no water.

Moses asks them: Why do you put the Lord to the test? Answer: Because the Lord puts them to the test.

Moses asks Aaron: What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin? Answer: Asked him to.

Moses asks: What kind of land do the Canaanites live in? Is it good or bad? Answer: Yes.

Moses asks the Israelites: Why are you disobeying the Lord’s command? Answer: Why is God changing his command? The people are doing exactly what God told them to do in the first place. God is the one who claims to never change. You should be calling him out for changing his mind, not them.

Moses asks a rebel group (addressing them as Levites): Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the Lord’s tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them? Answer: No, apparently it’s not enough for them… That’s assuming Moses is talking to the right people in the first place. How many of the people he’s addressing as Levites are Levites? One, as far as I can tell…

Moses asks the rebels: It is against the Lord that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should grumble against him? Answer: One of God’s representatives.

Moses asks the Israelites: Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock? Answer: Apparently. But why are you talking to the people like that, when the problem was God’s fault, and the solution was God’s idea?

Moses asks the Gadites and Reubenites: Should your fellow Israelites go to war while you sit here? Answer: No.

Then he asks them: Why do you discourage the Israelites from crossing over into the land the Lord has given them? Answer: They don’t.

Moses asks: What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us? Answer: Several other ancient cultures had gods that were omnipresent in one way or another.

Moses asks the Israelites: What other nation is so great as to have such righteous laws as the ones I’m setting before you today? Answer: Come on, how hard can it be to beat those rules?

Moses asks: Has anyone ever heard the voice of God speaking out of fire? Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation by signs and wonders? Answer: Not even once.

Moses asks the Israelites: What does God ask of you but to fear him, obey him, love him, serve him with all your heart and soul, and observe his commands that I’m giving you? Answer: You’d think all that would cover everything, but no… He’ll also judge you if you do something you had no idea was wrong.

Moses asks: How could one man chase a thousand, or two put ten thousand to flight, unless their God had given them up? Answer: God merely giving up on helping people hardly explains how they could be defeated that easily. There’s got to be more to it than that. Whatever the explanation might be, I don’t think it has anything to do with God not helping the people being chased.

God’s questions

God asks: Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute, gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I? Answer: Yes, it is not you.

God asks Pharaoh: How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Answer: As long as you refuse to let him.

God asks Moses: Why are you crying out to me? Answer: He’s not. The Israelites are.

God asks Moses: How long will you refuse to keep my commands? Answer: He won’t. The Israelites will.

God asks: If you take your neighbor’s cloak, what else can they sleep in? Answer: Pajamas?

God asks: Is the Lord’s arm too short? Answer: Well, Isaiah doesn’t think so.

God asks Aaron and Miriam: Why were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses? Answer: Because he married a Cushite.

God asks: If her father had spit in her face, would she not have been in disgrace for seven days? Answer: There’s nothing in the Bible that says she would be, no. And if anyone would be in disgrace, why wouldn’t it be the assaulter?

God asks: How long will these people treat me with contempt? Answer: One thousand years.

He asks: How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them? Answer: Where do you get the idea that they don’t believe in you??

God asks: How long will this wicked community grumble against me? God’s answer: They’ll definitely stop grumbling when they see a staff sprout. Real answer: They’ll keep grumbling after they see a staff sprout.

God asks Balaam: Who are these men with you? Answer: Messengers from Moab. How do you not know this stuff?

To be continued…

Share this post:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *