Many of us will have learned of some of the most famous Bible stories during our childhood, from the tale of the Good Samaritan to the feeding of the five thousand. It’s a very long collection of texts though, so some pretty interesting tales have inevitably fallen through the cracks – we’ve found ten of the most unbelievable just for you, complete with chapter-and-verse references to prove we’re not making this up!
A follicly-challenged man called Elisha is leaving the town of Bethel after having healed the waters of the town by adding salt to them. As he does so, a large group of children followed him and threw insults at him, the ancient equivalent of “Baldy, Baldy! Get lost, Baldy! LOL”. Elisha, having just saved the town’s water supply, was a little put-off by this pack of ungrateful kids and turned around to curse them – not in the &*%! sense, but in the ‘I curse you in the name of the LORD’ sense. It seems the LORD was listening as two ‘she bears’ emerge from the nearby wood and tore apart 42 of the insolent children. Serves them right, pesky young’uns.
2. St Paul Endorses Subservience of Women (1 Timothy 2:12)
“I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” This supposedly direct quote from St Paul was in response to a question over whether women were allowed to teach men in church. Of course, this sentiment is not reflective of the beliefs of many modern Christians, though the Catholic Church has no female clergy and the introduction of women into the ranks of the Anglican church was, and continues to be, a matter of great controversy among leaders of that particular faction.
3. Righteous Man Offers Virgin Daughters To Rapists (Genesis 19:8)
Lot, whose wife was famously turned into a pillar of salt, was a resident of famed holiday resort ‘city of sin’, Sodom. One day, two angels (who are apparently sexually irresistible) came to stay at Lot’s house, at which point a horny mob knocked at Lot’s door demanding to ‘know’ (yes, in the Biblical sense) the angels. Lot was an honourable fellow, so instead of handing over his guests, he instead offered the mob his two daughters to do with “as is good in your eyes”. Charming!
Speaking the Lord’s name in vain, otherwise known as blasphemy, was taken pretty seriously during the time of Moses. This passage in Leviticus describes the first incidence of it in which a man blasphemes during a fight, prompting Moses to ask God how this offence should be punished. God’s response: have him stoned to death by the entire community. Think about that next time you’re expressing surprise or frustration on the internet, because God knows what those letters stand for…
5. Peter’s Gospel Tells Slaves ‘Tough Luck’ (1 Peter 2:18)
Not the most constructive part of the New Testament, Peter apparently issues some sort of behavioural guidance to those poor unfortunates who have found themselves and their entire lives literally owned by another human being. Instead of suggesting something along the lines of “Slaves, it’s totally okay to try and rebel against the evil man who considers you merely property – remember Moses?”, he tells slaves to submit themselves “with all respect” to their masters, even if they are being treated cruelly. Lovely sentiment there from the man who became the first Pope.
6. Donkey Tells Rider Where To Go (Numbers 22:28-30)
A gentleman by the name of Balaam is riding along on his ass (stop snickering, we’re talking about the Bible here – that’s a donkey), whipping it to keep it under control. All of a sudden, God gives the donkey the power of speech, whereupon it takes the opportunity to have an argument with Balaam over the aforementioned beatings. Apparently not surprised at being spoken to by a donkey (maybe he’d seen Shrek?), Balaam threatens to kill it, before God steps in and gives him a stern telling-off. I wonder what God would think of jockeys’ whips.
As God is telling Abraham his holy duty, he lays down the rules on circumcision: that it must be performed on boys at the age of eight days, that it symbolises a covenant between Abraham (and his descendants) and God, and of course that any man who does not lose his foreskin shall be cast out from his entire community. Even new slaves that are bought by Abraham’s house must lose a little part of themselves, as if being a slave wasn’t bad enough already. It’s all there in Book No. 1, folks.
8. God Lays Down Rules On ‘Number Twos’ (Deuteronomy 23:13-14)
And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee:
Clearly not wanting to be accused of not offering guidance on every potential incident in one’s life, Deuteronomy clarifies exactly what one should do when they can’t quite make it to the latrine in time. All men are told to carry “a paddle” with them at all times, so that when they evacuate their bowels they can “dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh”. The reason for the giving of this seemingly obvious public health advice is apparently so that God does not tread in one’s doings, as He “walketh in the midst of thy camp… therefore shall thy camp be holy”.
David (he of Goliath-slaying fame) wanted to marry the daughter of Saul, who asked for the payment of one hundred Philistine foreskins as dowry (or bride price). David clearly thought this was a bargain (rather than the request of a madman), bringing back instead two hundred Philistine foreskins, getting himself Saul’s daughter’s hand in marriage and no doubt quite a few brownie points with the in-laws.
More rules from Deuteronomy, this time dealing with the highly probable situation whereby two men are engaged in one-on-one combat and one man’s wife intervenes by way of grabbing her husband’s junk and pulling him out of the arena of conflict. This is unacceptable in the eyes of the Bible, which calls for the woman to have her hand cut off immediately, with no pity whatsoever to be offered unto her. Charming.