Don’t Miss Episode 3 of Bible Secrets Revealed: “The Forbidden Scriptures” Tonight on History

Don’t miss episode 3 of the six-part series “Bible Secrets Revealed” on History.

The third installment, entitled “The Forbidden Scriptures“, debuts Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013 at 10/9c .

The episode explores:

“The books, gospels and epistles found in the Holy Bible are writings considered to be divinely inspired. But are there chapters of the Bible that are missing? Have stories been censored and characters deleted? And if so, just who decides what is included–and what is forbidden?

And if you missed the first two episodes, you can watch them for free online at History‘s “Bible Secrets Revealed” website.

Tweet your feedback with the hashtag #BibleSecretsRevealed.

And send your questions to Bible History Daily, where I’ll be answering some of them and providing more in depth explanations.

Still one of the oddest biblical commands: COVER YOUR POO! (Because God might step in it!)

Deuteronomy 23:12-14

Deuteronomy 23:12-14

One of my favorite obscure biblical commands is from Deut. 23:12-14 (v. 13-15 in the Hebrew). Right after God gives rules concerning how to deal with wet dreams (i.e., nocturnal seminal emissions – the answer, btw, is to leave the camp, wash with water, and not return until sunset), God issues commands dealing with human waste disposal.

Now, disposal of human waste is a necessary, albeit unsavory, part of urban life (or in this case, desert nomadic life in a camp). We must have rules that govern how to dispose of human excrement in order to help combat diseases that may arise from contact with human waste. Everyone acknowledges this.

Thus, the Israelites are commanded to cover their poo when they, well…poo. This makes obvious sense. It helps cover the smell, which while odious to humans, is also detected by unwanted animals and insects. Covering your poo also assists in avoiding everyone’s pedestrian nightmare: stepping in poo.

Interestingly, of the above reasons given in support of the command to the Israelites to cover their poo, it is the latter (not wanting to step in it) and not the former (hygiene) that is given as the theological reason for burying one’s foul:

Deut. 23:12 You shall have a designated area outside the camp to which you shall go.
Deut. 23:13 As part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement.
Deut. 23:14 For the LORD your God moves about in your camp to protect you and to deliver your enemies to you. Your camp must be holy, so that he will not see among you anything indecent and turn away from you.

God steps in poo.

God steps in poo. This must be avoided.

You read that correctly. God WALKS IN THE MIDST OF YOUR CAMP (Hebrew: מִתְהַלֵּךְ בְקֶרֶב מַחֲנֶךָ = “paces/walks in the midst of your camp”), and you don’t want God to step in it! In fact, God doesn’t even want to see (Hebrew: ראה) anything indecent (Hebrew: עֶרְוַת דָּבָר = “any naked thing”).

This is the reason given for why Israelites must go outside of the camp to go, and then cover their poo: because God walks around the camp and they don’t want God to step in their poo, and if he even sees it, he’ll “turn away” from the camp (as it stinks and is no longer “holy”), and will stop protecting/delivering them and will stop handing their enemies over to them in battle.

Apparently, if you want God in the midst of your camp, he can’t be in the midst of your crap.

So in the end, the rationale for covering one’s poo is not hygienic, nor is it public health, but rather the Israelites are to cover their poo so that God doesn’t step in it or see it, because if he does, he’ll leave them and they’ll start losing battles.

There’s another poo-related pun I could make here, but I don’t want to bring bulls into it.

(HT for image: Tom Verenna)

An Observation on the God of the Bible and Slavery

God meme "kills thousands of Egyptian children in order to free his people *from* slavery (Exod 12:29-30) immediately instructs his people how to *make their own slaves* (Exod 21:2-7; Lev 25:44-46)"

Has anyone ever noticed that in the Bible, God slaughters thousands of Egyptian children in order to free his people from slavery (Exod 12:29-30), BUT then immediately instructs his people on how to make slaves of their own (Exod. 21:2-7; Lev. 25:44-46)?

Exodus 12:29-30

“At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the prisoner who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. (30) Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his officials and all the Egyptians; and there was a loud cry in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.” (NRSV)

Exodus 21:2-7

“When you buy a male Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, but in the seventh he shall go out a free person, without debt. (3) If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. (4) If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s and he shall go out alone. (5) But if the slave declares, “I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out a free person,” (6) then his master shall bring him before God. He shall be brought to the door or the doorpost; and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him for life. (7) When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do…” (NRSV)

Lev. 25:44-46

“As for the male and female slaves whom you may have, it is from the nations around you that you may acquire male and female slaves. (45) You may also acquire them from among the aliens residing with you, and from their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property. (46) You may keep them as a possession for your children after you, for them to inherit as property. These you may treat as slaves, but as for your fellow Israelites, no one shall rule over the other with harshness.”

So God is OK with slavery, as long as they are foreigners.

[And in the NT, slaves are commanded to continue to obey their masters.]

Col. 3:22

“Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything, not only while being watched and in order to please them, but wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord.” (NRSV)

1 Pet. 2:18

“Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.” (NIV)

Eph. 6:5

“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ” (NRSV)

So, tell me again how God is the objective moral foundation for all time?

(And please don’t claim “prooftexting” or “out of context”: these verses mean exactly what they say, and they mean the very same thing in their fuller context. Besides, in what context would the supreme God of the universe ever say that it’s OK to own other people as property?)

(And quick, someone tell me how I am not reading this properly because I do not “possess” the seer stone Holy Spirit. Please tell me that this “revealed Scripture” doesn’t really mean what it says.)

(And before you make the “slavery was totally different back then” argument, read here.)

I welcome comments.

On Genesis 6:6-7 and Political Claims that God is “Pro-life”

Verse of the Day: Genesis 6:6-7:

Gen. 6:6 And the LORD regretted that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.

Gen. 6:7 So the LORD said, “I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created—people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

The Hebrew word מחה translated as “blot out” above means “to wipe out, annihilate, destroy”. Thus, according to the passage above, God regretted that he had created humans, contemplated it, grieved about it, and then after considering the matter thoughtfully with his divine omniscience, came to the decision to annihilate humans (save, of course, for Noah and his family and some animals). He regretted that he had made them. He was sorry that he had created humans because they wouldn’t obey him.

THAT IS IN THE BIBLE! THAT IS SCRIPTURE!

According to Genesis 6:6-7, God admits that he deliberately drowned every human on earth. He INTENTIONALLY KILLED EVERY PERSON ON EARTH (except Noah and his family). He killed children, and babies, and even the unborn. According to his own claim, he killed them all - because he said they were 'evil'. Unborn children and 6-month old babies DELIBERATELY DROWNED because they were 'evil' (according to the Bible).

According to Genesis 6:6-7, God admits that he deliberately drowned every human on earth. He INTENTIONALLY KILLED EVERY PERSON ON EARTH (except Noah and his family). He killed children, and babies, and even the unborn. According to his own claim, he killed them all – because he said they were ‘only evil every day’ (רק רע כל-היום). Unborn children and 6-month old babies DELIBERATELY DROWNED because they were ‘evil’ (according to the Bible).

So here’s my question – and let’s set aside the question of whether mass genocide is ever the answer to disobedience or not being praised enough. (Remember: it doesn’t get more “inhuman” than committing mass genocide and drowning all humans.)

But again, here’s my question:

I’m wondering whether God considered all of the unborn children being carried in their mothers’ wombs when he decided to murder all humans.

I’m wondering how some can claim that God is “pro life”, when God not only committed mass genocide – by his own admission AND after careful consideration of the matter – but when he also destroyed all of those unborn children that necessarily would have been carried around by their mothers as a natural part of daily life on earth.

Again, this is not what some atheist claims about God; this is what God claims about himself. He admits he did this.


People of faith must put their faith – and the claims made about their faith – in a real, modern context. Rather than rushing to regurgitate some worn out apologetic claiming, “God cannot tolerate evil,” or “It’s not genocide if God does it,” people of faith must consider that the one they consider to be the “objective moral foundation” for all things ethical at one point in history killed everyone on earth because he regretted creating them! Imagine this same death sentence on the world’s population today. It is nothing less than genocide.

Likewise, people of faith must THINK about the political claims they are making when they attempt to invoke God for their political causes. How can one claim that God is “pro-life” when he admits that he is personally responsible for the destruction of untold thousands of unborn children…because he regretted he had made them (כי נחמתי כי עשׂיתם)! There is no airbrushing this. This is what he claims he did after thoughtful consideration. God regretted that he had conceived and created life, so he destroyed it! And yet some claim that God is “pro life”??

BY ALL MEANS, let’s have the debate about abortion. Let’s talk about how no one wants abortion, how we should be making every effort to reduce the number of abortions that take place each year, and let’s consider a number of different solutions that will place children in the homes of those who want them.

But for the love of all that is and will be – PLEASE STOP INVOKING THE GOD OF THE BIBLE IN THIS ARGUMENT.

God is NOT the one you want to hold up as an example of a “pro life” advocate when his documented solution to regretting the creation of human life was to destroy itboth the born and the unborn.

We can have a sensible discussion and debate about reducing the number of abortions in this country and around the world without making it a religious argument.

Let’s celebrate life. Let’s talk about health of both mother and child. Let’s talk about birth control and adoption. Let’s talk about sex education and the merits of promoting healthy relationships, rather than the continued sensationalization of sex and continued commercial sexual exploitation of both boys and girls in adolescent culture.

But let’s have this conversation without introducing religious claims into the mix. On both sides of this issue, religious claims only muddy the waters and get in the way of actual progress and real solutions.

NonStampCollector Comments on the Same-Sex Marriage Debate

NonStampCollector (@nonstampNSC; YouTube; blog) has just posted a short comment on attempts to use Christianity – and especially Christian appeals to biblical mythological accounts like the story of Adam and Eve – in the fight against same-sex marriage in the modern state.

In short, the reason so many otherwise sensible Christians oppose same-sex marriage is Jesus’ appeal to the “marriage” of Adam and Eve in Matthew 19:4-6. In this passage, Matthew records Jesus as speaking about divorce, and in doing so, citing the mythological story of Judaism’s primordial humans, Adam and Eve.

Matthew 19:4-6 reads:

Matt. 19:4 He answered, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’”
Matt. 19:5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
Matt. 19:6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (NRSV)

Note that Matthew records Jesus as having done a little prooftexting of his own, pulling from the summaries of the two different creation accounts in Genesis.

Gen. 1:27 So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (NRSV)

and

Gen 2:24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. (NRSV)

Matthew records Jesus as pulling from two different texts to defend his stance on divorce, specifically, that Christians should NOT divorce.

AND YET, we see no constitutional amendment on state ballots banning divorce, and prohibiting divorced individuals from remarrying, but rather, we find conservative and fundamentalist Christians lining up and spending all kinds money to ban and prohibit same-sex marriage, EVEN THOUGH the text is CLEARLY talking about divorce.

It is yet another example of conservative and fundamentalists deliberately ignoring the glaringly obvious context of the biblical passage (divorce), and instead using said verse to prooftext against something the passage is not at all addressing (same-sex marriage).

So to clarify, conservative and fundamentalist Christians are citing a scientifically debunked primordial religious creation myth from nearly three millennia ago, and then using it out of context in an effort to suppress the modern rights of gay Americans in a state that is founded on the principle that the church and state should be separate.

That is just how far conservative and fundamentalist Christians must stretch – how far they must contort the Bible as well as the founding principles of this country – just to suppress the rights of other Americans. They must cite:

“a moral imperative implied (out of context I might add), within an ancient Middle Eastern story involving a woman made of a man’s rib, being convinced by a talking snake to eat the fruit of a magical tree.”

THAT’S the rationale for denying homosexual Americans the same right of marriage that heterosexual Americans enjoy: magic trees, talking snakes, rib-women, and primordial mythology.

Of course, the real reason this argument is even entertained at all is the much larger problem, which just also happens to be the reason why so many conservative and fundamentalist Christians still cling to the historicity of the six-day creation and worldwide flood myths, despite all of the scientific and contradictory intertextual biblical evidence against them: Jesus quoted them both!

Jesus refers to Adam and Eve in Matthew 19:4-6, and their child Abel in Luke 11:50-51 (and their parallels), and to the flood in Luke 17:27 (and its parallels). And if Jesus referred to things that are mythological or ahistorical or simply did not happen, then people might question his all-knowingness, and maybe even his divinity. And thus, many conservative and fundamentalist Christians cling to scientifically debunked primordial myths, despite all the evidence to the contrary, just so they don’t have to deal with the problem that Jesus is recorded as having appealed to debunked creation and flood myths.

So while they’re at it, why not just take the quotes out of context and use them to oppress gays as well. It makes just as much sense…to fundamentalists.

Anyway, watch NonStampCollector’s video.

New Video from NonStampCollector: Biblical Slavery (It’s TOTALLY Different)

NonStampCollector (@nonstampNSC; YouTube; blog) has just released his latest provocative video. This time, he addresses the issue of biblical slavery.

Definitely watch this video! It is a GREAT encapsulation of the very weak arguments many people make in defense of slavery in the Bible. The “it’s totally different” refrain is particularly priceless (and quite accurate).

It’s also another excellent contribution to his larger argument that the ethics and morality dictated in the Bible cannot and should not be used to regulate a modern society simply because they are “biblical”. Rather, we should recognize that we have evolved and matured as a society over the past 2000-3000 years, and that many of the so-called “ethical” commands in the Bible are reprehensible and worthy of disregard.

Slavery was God-ordained and God-regulated in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, and the practice was retained and re-endorsed in the New Testament (e.g., Col. 3:22; 1 Pet. 2:18; Eph. 6:5). Claiming that it was “totally different” from slavery in the US South is a weak, easily debunked, and rather disturbing argument made in the defense of God’s ethical character.

Watch the video. I invite your comments.

(Also, for those of you wanting to read the script (or use it in a class), you can find the script and references here.)

nonstampcollector’s latest: the ten commandments (as the supposed basis for the morality of western civilization)

My favorite YouTube author, nonstampcollector, has produced his latest film entitled, “The Ten Commandments: the basis of our laws and morals.”

The movie raises the question of the relevance of the 10 Commandments as the supposed fundamental basis for the ethics and morality of western civilization. Specifically, the video cleverly highlights those who argue that ALL Ten Commandments serve as the basis of modern morality (especially those who argue that said Commandments should be publicly displayed in courthouses and public places).

The incongruity of the 10 Commandments with modern foundational ethical concepts like freedom, liberty, and democracy is exposed in the following exchange:

Moses: “Surely, the way to nurture a society towards becoming amazingly advanced and prosperous is by having theocratic prohibitions against working on certain days of the week and graven images and all that.”

God: “Well, that’s where the problem lies, see. The more humanity progresses, the more it will base its laws and constitutions around things like freedom, liberty…”

Moses: “Freedom??!!”

God: “…democracy and self rule, opportunity, human rights, justice for all.”

Moses: “W…well, you haven’t commanded any of that here yet.

God: “Yeah, and I’m not about to either!”

Moses: “So the laws and morals of this mighty, advanced, western civilization aren’t going to come out of these commandments at all then.”

God: “Oh don’t rub it in!”

Give it a watch and I welcome your comments.

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