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Strange and horrifying stories in the Bible

Columbia Biblical Studies: Monday, August 11
Columbia Biblical Studies: Monday, August 11
George Hodan

There are many strange and horrifying stories to be found in the bible. Generally we do not search for things to laugh at or feel frightened by when reading and studying the bible, but occasionally it is interesting to do so.

The bible is usually considered to be in two parts, the Old Testament, containing primarily Jewish laws, genealogy and history, and the New Testament, centered on the life and ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus.

The Rev. Dr. Charles P. Sigel, Professor Emeritus of Greek and New Testament at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, teaches us that it is extremely important when reading the bible to put events in the time and place in which they occurred. It is only by doing so that we can gain knowledge and insight into many of the most valuable themes and lessons of the bible.

Yet a few of these lessons, especially when taken out of context, seem truly bizarre and quite unbelievable. The first of these appears in Genesis, chapter 23, verse 33. Moses, happy beyond measure because he was finally going to see God face to face, climbed onto a rock and waited in joyous anticipation for the designated time to come. But, when the time arrived, God backed out, claiming that no man could see Him face to face and live. So, what did God do? He told Moses that he could get a peek at his backside instead: ‘And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.’ So…long ago and far away…long before college students ran naked across campus or anyone sat on a copy machine, it appears that God Himself mooned Moses.

Solomon is regarded as one of the wisest men in the bible. Yet, the very size of his family may make one question how wise he actually was. While many of us today are concerned about family planning, and there are even ordinances in place in most (if not all) states regarding how many wives a man can have and how many children can occupy a single room, Solomon went a bit hog wild. He is reputed to have had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Folks, that’s 1000 women! In all his wisdom, it makes one wonder how large a house Solomon had and how he provided for so many wives and their offspring. Just imagine trying to feed over a thousand people every day!

In the spirit of strange facts and eerie tales told beneath a Carolina crescent moon; we conclude with a tale so gruesome it is difficult to believe that it is even included in the holy bible. This horrendous tale is found in Judges, chapter 19, verses 22 through 30. Not only is this story utterly bizarre, but it is also absolutely disgusting. A man and his concubine were wandering the streets when they decided to seek shelter for the night, and found a man kind enough to let them stay. That night, a group of men came to the door and demanded to see the guest so that they might have sex with him. The owner was not willing to let his guest be raped and so offered up his own young virgin daughter instead. But that was still not good enough for the men, so the owner offered them his guest’s concubine and the men accepted. The men raped the woman savagely and left her lying on the doorstep where she bled to death. If that was not enough, when she was found by her husband, he chopped her body up into twelve pieces which he sent to the twelve tribes of Israel. Need we say anything more?

May we remember always to read the bible within context and do our best to relate to the time and circumstances in which it was written. There are funny stories, immoral stories, horrendous stories, and bizarre stories contained in the bible. Their significance may be interpreted in many ways by biblical scholars. But, isn’t it nice to think that perhaps even God wanted to tell His people a good horror story now and then or give them something to laugh at occasionally?

References: Top 10 Bizarre Bible Tales, Strange Biblical Facts, Strangest Stories in the Bible, Strange Bible Stories

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