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Numbers: Absurdity



  1. The Israelite population went from seventy (Exodus 1:5) to several million (over 600,000 adult males) in 400 years. 1:45-46, 26:51

  2. The Law of Jealousies. If a man suspects his wife of being unfaithful, he reports it to the priest. The priest then makes her drink some "bitter water." If she is guilty, the water makes her thigh rot and her belly swell. If innocent, no harm done -- the woman is free and will "conceive seed." In any case, "the man shall be guiltless from iniquity, and this woman shall bear her iniquity." 5:11-31

  3. "And the spirit of jealousy come upon him ... and she be defiled: or if the spirit of jealousy come upon him ... and she be not defiled."
    If a husband is jealous, his wife must submit to the law of jealousies whether she was "defiled" or not. 5:14

  4. "Then shall the man bring his wife unto the priest ... And the priest shall ... set her before the LORD ... and the priest shall have in his hand the bitter water that causeth the curse." 5:15-17

  5. "And the priest shall ... say unto the woman, If no man have lain with thee ... be thou free from this bitter water that causeth the curse." 5:19

  6. "Then the priest shall charge the woman with an oath of cursing, and the priest shall say unto the woman, The LORD make thee a curse and an oath among thy people, when the LORD doth make thy thigh to rot, and thy belly to swell." 5:20-21

  7. "But if ... some man have lain with thee beside thine husband ... The LORD make thee a curse and an oath among thy people, when the LORD doth make thy thigh to rot, and thy belly to swell." 5:22

  8. "And he shall cause the woman to drink the bitter water that causeth the curse." 5:24

  9. "And when he hath made her to drink the water ... if she be defiled ... the water that causeth the curse shall ... become bitter, and her belly shall swell, and her thigh shall rot: and the woman shall be a curse among her people." 5:27

  10. "And if the woman be not defiled, but be clean; then she shall be free, and shall conceive seed." 5:28

  11. "Then shall the man be guiltless from iniquity, and this woman shall bear her iniquity." 5:31

  12. "Take the Levites ... and let them shave all their flesh ... and so make themselves clean."
    To get really clean, you've got to shave off your pubic hair. 8:6-7

  13. All firstborn Israelites, "both man and beast", belong to God. He got them the day that he killed every Egyptian firstborn child and animal. 8:17

  14. If on the Passover, you are unclean because you've touched a dead body, then you can't observe the Passover with everyone else. You must wait one month and celebrate it then. 9:11-12

  15. When the tabernacle was set up, it was covered by a cloud during the day and by fire all night. 9:15

  16. God led the Israelites from one camp to the other with a cloud. When the cloud stopped and rested someplace, the Israelites pitched their tents. When the cloud started moving again, the Israelites followed it. 9:16-23

  17. "And if ye go to war ... ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets ... and ye shall be saved from your enemies." 10:9

  18. God continues (mis)leading the Israelites through the wilderness with a cloud. 10:11-12

  19. "And the cloud of the LORD was upon them by day." 10:34

  20. "And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it (He had his hearing aid on.) .... and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them."
    God burned the complainers alive. That'll teach them! 11:1-2

  21. The people begin to whine about not having any meat. So God says he'll give them meat, alright. He'll give them "flesh to eat," not for just a few days, but "for a whole month, until it come out of [their] nostrils, and it be loathsome to [them]." Yuck. 11:4, 19-20

  22. "As a nursing father beareth the suckling child...." 11:12

  23. God sends quails to feed his people until they were "two cubits [about a meter] high upon the face of the earth." Taking the "face of the earth" to be a circle with a radius of say 30 kilometers (an approximate day's journey), this would amount to 3 trillion (3x1012) liters of quails. At 2 quails per liter, this would provide a couple million quails for each of several million people. 11:31

  24. "Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth." This is a strange way to describe on of the cruelest men to have ever lived (If he ever did live, which he probably didn't). Moses, as he is described in the Bible, is anything but meek (See 31:14-18 for an example of his "meekness"). 12:3

  25. "If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will ... speak unto him in a dream." Now there's a reliable way to communicate with someone! 12:6

  26. "And the Lord said unto Moses, If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days?" 12:14

  27. God tells Moses to send 12 men, one from each tribe of Israel, to "spy out the land of Canaan." When the spies return, they give Moses two reports. Caleb and Joshua (Oshea the son of Nun) say it'd be easy to take over the land. The other ten say it would be hard, since the people that live there are giants. (The scouts were like grasshoppers in comparison.) 13:1-28

  28. "They ... cut down ... a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff."
    A single cluster of grapes was so heavy that it took two men to carry it. I guess that's what you'd expect, though, since they were in the land of giants. (See verses 32-33.) 13:23

  29. "And there we saw the giants ... And we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight." This statement may have been figurative, hyperbole, typical biblical exaggeration, or an actual description of the sons of Anak, in which case they must have been about 100 meters tall. These are the same giants (the Nephilium) that resulted when the "sons of God" mated with "the daughters of men in Genesis 6:4 Of course, these superhuman god-men should have been destroyed in the flood. So what are they doing still alive? 13:33

  30. "Moses and Aaron fell on their faces." 14:5

  31. "Joshua ... and Caleb ... rent their clothes." 14:6

  32. "All the congregation bade stone them with stones."
    The people have had enough of wandering around in the desert and they don't much want to fight giants (see 13:33), so they decide to stone Joshua and his merry men (with stones). 14:10a

  33. "The glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel."
    But before the people get started with the stoning, God shows up in all his glory. 14:10b

  34. God tells Moses that he is going to kill all of the Israelites -- every last whining one of the them, and then make a whole bunch of brand new Israelites. 14:12

  35. Moses tries to talk God out of killing everyone by telling him that the Egyptians will hear about it and will say that he wasn't able to lead the Israelites to Israel, so he killed them all instead. 14:13-19

  36. "Thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night." 14:14

  37. It took the Israelites 40 years to travel from Egypt to Canaan, yet such a journey, even at that time, would have taken no more than a few weeks. 14:33, 32:13

  38. God gives more instructions for the ritualistic killing of animals. The smell of burning flesh is "a sweet savour unto the Lord." 15:3, 13-14, 24

  39. "If any soul sin through ignorance ..." but how can someone sin through ignorance? Don't you have to know that an action is wrong for it to be sinful? Oh well, if you do happen to sin through ignorance, you can be forgiven by God if you kill some animals. 15:27-30

  40. Immediately after ordering the execution of the sabbath breaker, God gets down to some more important business -- like instructing the people on how to make fringes on their garments. 15:38-39

  41. "And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face." 16:4

  42. "The glory of the LORD appeared unto all the congregation." 16:19

  43. "And they fell upon their faces." 16:22

  44. After burning the the 250 guys that offered incense, God tells Moses to keep their censers (because they are holy) to remind everyone not to offer incense without a license. 16:36-40

  45. "Behold ... the glory of the Lord appeared." 16:42

  46. "And they fell upon their faces." 16:45

  47. "Take a censer ... and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them."
    Moses tells Aaron to burn some incense to make God quit killing people. (God just killed 250 for burning incense.) 16:45

  48. Aaron is getting better at his magic tricks. He has rod bud, bloom, and yield almonds. 17:8

  49. God threatens to kill those who murmur. To which the people reply, "Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish .... Shall we be consumed with dying?" 17:12-13

  50. "They shall not come nigh the vessels of the sanctuary and the altar, that neither they, nor ye also, die."
    Stay away from holy things and places -- like churches. God might have to kill you if you get too close. 18:3

  51. God describes once again the procedure for ritualistic animal sacrifices. such rituals must be extremely important to God, since he makes their performance a "statute" and "covenant" forever. Why, then don't Bible-believers perform these sacrifices anymore? Don't they realize how God must miss the "sweet savour" of burning flesh? Don't they believe God when he says "forever"? 18:17-19

  52. "Neither must the children of Israel henceforth come nigh the tabernacle of the congregation, lest they bear sin, and die." 18:22

  53. "Neither shall ye pollute the holy things of the children of Israel, lest ye die." 18:32

  54. "This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD hath commanded."
    These absurd rituals, cruel sacrifices, and unjust punishments are vitally important to God. They are to be "a perpetual statute" for everyone on earth. 19:1-22

  55. "Take of her blood with his finger, and sprinkle ... seven times."
    God's instructions for putting blood on fingers, sprinkling it around, and then burning the dung of sacrificial animals. This is something that everyone needs to know about. (That's why it's in the Bible!). 19:4-5

  56. "Then the priest shall wash his clothes, and he shall bathe ... and shall be unclean until the even." (The guy who burns the dung also has to take a bath, which sounds like a pretty good idea to me.) 19:7-8

  57. "And a man that is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer ... and it shall be kept ... for a water of separation: it is a purification for sin."
    After you kill and burn the dung of the red heifer have a clean guy gather the ashes and then be sure to keep them for "a water of separation: it is a purification for sin." 19:9

  58. "He that gathereth the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even; and it shall be ... a statute forever." 19:10

  59. He that toucheth the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days." (Bad news for understakers.) 19:11

  60. He shall purify himself with it on the third day, and on the seventh day he shall be clean: but if he purify not himself the third day, then the seventh day he shall not be clean." (Use the "water of separation" made from the ashes of the dung of the red heifer. See 19:9.) 19:12

  61. "Whosoever toucheth the dead body of any man that is dead, and purifieth not himself ... shall be cut off from Israel: because the water of separation was not sprinkled upon him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is yet upon him." 19:13

  62. "When a man dieth in a tent: all that come into the tent, and all that is in the tent, shall be unclean seven days." 19:14

  63. "And every open vessel, which hath no covering bound upon it, is unclean." (Don't you just hate it when people leave the lid off containers?) 19:15

  64. "And whosoever toucheth one that is slain with a sword ... or a dead body, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean seven days." 19:16

  65. "And for an unclean person they shall take of the ashes of the burnt heifer ... And a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it ... upon him that touched a bone, or one slain, or one dead, or a grave. And the clean person shall sprinkle upon the unclean on the third day, and on the seventh day: and on the seventh day he shall purify himself, and wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and shall be clean at even." (Well that sounds simple enough!) 19:17-19

  66. "But the man that shall be unclean ... shall be cut off ... the water of separation hath not been sprinkled upon him; he is unclean." 19:20

  67. "It shall be a perpetual statute ... that he that sprinkleth the water of separation shall wash his clothes; and he that toucheth the water of separation shall be unclean until even." 19:21

  68. "And whatsoever the unclean person toucheth shall be unclean; and the soul that toucheth it shall be unclean until even." 19:22

  69. And they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto them." 20:6

  70. Moses is punished for hitting the rock with his staff (like he did before in Exodus 17:6) to get water, rather than just speaking to the rock (as God asked him to do this time). For messing up the magic trick, Moses will never get to the promised land. 20:8-12

  71. Moses hits a rock with his rod and Presto! -- water comes out. 20:11

  72. God sends "fiery serpents" to bite his chosen people, and many of them die. 21:6

  73. To save the people from God's snakes, Moses makes a graven image in the form of a snake (breaking the second commandment) and puts it on a pole. Those who look at Moses' magic snake to not die -- even if they were previously bit by God's snakes. 21:8

  74. "The Book of the wars of the Lord"
    (One of the lost books of the Bible) 21:14

  75. "And the ass saw the angel of the LORD." 22:23

  76. God asks Balaam the non-rhetorical question, "What men are these with thee?" 22:9

  77. God says to Balaam, "If men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them." Men come, and Balaam goes with them, just as God had commanded. "And God's anger was kindled because he went" -- but he was just following God's instructions! 22:20-22

  78. Balaam has a nice little chat with his ass. 22:28-30

  79. "Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he ... fell flat on his face." 22:31

  80. God meets Balaam and "put a word in his mouth." 23:15-16

  81. God has "the strength of a unicorn." Oh heck, I bet he's even stronger than a unicorn. 23:22

  82. Balaam says "his king shall be higher than Agag." But Balaam couldn't have known about Agag since Agag didn't live until the time of King Saul. (See 1Samuel 15:33 where Samuel hacks king Agag into pieces.) 24:7

  83. God, who is as strong as a unicorn, will eat up the nations, break their bones, and then pierce them through with his arrows. What a guy! 24:8

  84. God's magical Urim and Thummim 27:21

  85. In these chapters (28, 29), God provides ridiculously detailed instructions for the ritualistic sacrifice of animals. The burning of their dead bodies smells great to God. Eleven times in these two chapters God says that they are to him a "sweet savour." 28-29

  86. "The LORD's anger was kindled ... and he sware."
    Even God gets angry and swears sometimes. 32:10

  87. "He made them wander in the wilderness forty years."
    It took the Israelites 40 years to travel from Egypt to Canaan, yet such a journey, even at that time, would have taken no more than a few weeks. 32:13

  88. If a person accidentally kills someone, then she should go to a city of refuge. If she can get to the city of refuge before the "revenger of blood" (the victim's closest relative) can catch her, then she is safe, at least until the high priest dies (I don't know what he has to do with it). But if she is caught outside the city of refuge, then the revenger of blood can kill her. 35:11-12

  89. "But if the slayer shall at any time come without the border of the city of his refuge ... and the revenger of blood kill the slayer; he shall not be guilty of blood. Because he should have remained in the city of his refuge until the death of the high priest" If the accidental killer leaves the city of refuge and is caught by the revenger of blood, then the revenger can legally kill the accidental killer. 35:26-28

Bible: Absurdity