10 Bible Verses Almost Nobody Notices
Last week, I posted about 5 interesting, fun things about the Bible. You know how sometimes you’ll be reading the Bible and completely miss something really shocking or interesting? Next up in our semi-gnostic quest for secretive scriptural stuff: 10 Bible verses almost nobody notices. These are the verses (or short clusters of verses) people tend to gloss over when reading the Bible. They miss all the good stuff, but you won’t! Enjoy!
- Numbers 12:1, 10 – God’s not a fan of racism. Let’s take a look at what happened when Miriam and Aaron mouthed off to Moses. Numbers 12:1 tells us that they used Moses’s marriage as a pretext for attacking his authority. What was it they objected to about his marriage? He was married to a Cushite, that is, an Ethiopian. What you need to know about this story is that Ethiopians tend to be very dark-skinned. How did God punish Miriam? God came down to give everybody a talkin’-to, then He left: “The cloud also that was over the tabernacle departed: and behold Mariam appeared white as snow with a leprosy” (Numbers 12:10). It’s like God was saying, “Oh, you don’t like black, Miriam? Hey, is this white enough for ya?”
- Genesis 11:4 – Stealing the blessing. Noah’s son Shem was post-modern almost 5000 years before it was popular. An introduction to Noah’s family: “Here’s the cat. We call him Cat. Here’s the dog. We call him Dog. Here’s my eldest son. His name is Name.” Yep, that’s right. Shem means name. It does have significance, though: the builders of the Tower of Babel, descendents of Noah’s accursed son, Ham, were said to be making a name for themselves, a line which has been interpreted to mean that the Hammites were trying to steal the blessing Noah passed on to Shem.
- Genesis 29:16 – Meet Laban’s daughters, Cash and Commodity. In the ancient world, a huge part of the economic system was trade. What would you trade? All sorts of things, including livestock. What was probably less common was naming your kids after your valuable livestock. Laban named his daughters Leah (Cow) and Rachel (Ewe). Why? Let’s keep in mind this is the same guy who ran out to meet the matchmaker of his sister’s future husband after he saw that the man had given her gold jewelry (Genesis 24:30). It’s also the guy who cheated years of free labor out of his own son-in-law, Jacob. Laban was a greedy man and just couldn’t help naming his daughters after the thing he loved the most.
- 1 Samuel 6:5 – Golden hemorrhoids. Yep. Seriously. 1 Samuel 6:5 tells us that the Philistines, as reparation to God for taking the Ark of the Covenant, made golden replicas of hemorrhoids. It seems that they didn’t have an exact word for hemorrhoids in ancient languages. The Hebrew word translates as something like “heaping piles” while the Greek word translates as “sitting place.” St. Jerome’s translation – I’ll spare you, this is a family-friendly blog – makes it clear he’s talking about hemorrhoids. It gets better, the golden growths are meant to symbolize the plague the Philistines had been punished with. Ouch.
- 2 Kings 6:28-29 – Where’s Solomon when you need him? Remember that story about how wise King Solomon settled a dispute between two women over a baby? Over the years, things got pretty bad. A similar but darker story greets us during a siege in the time of Elisha the prophet. The King of Israel was walking by when he heard a call for help. Two women were arguing over a boy. Apparently, the siege was so bad and food so scarce that the women had agreed to boil their sons and eat them. After eating one, though, the mother of the other child had second thoughts. Talk about a twisted argument.
- Genesis 32:24 – Midnight wrestling match. So there he was, about to run into his estranged brother Esau, terrified enough to send his family away to safety, when Jacob “remained alone; and behold, a man wrestled with him till morning.” Wait, what?! In the middle of the story, out of nowhere, an angel wrestles with Jacob until dawn. As if he’s fighting a leprechaun, Jacob refuses to let go until he gets a blessing. It’s a strange scene, but ends with Jacob’s new identity, Israel, he who contends with God. Too bad Esau sold his birthright to Jacob; he coulda been a contender.
- Judges 6:11-12 – God’s sense of sarcasm. When Israel was being oppressed over and over again before they had a king, God used to call individuals to judge the nation. One of them was Gideon, the lowest member of the weakest family in the half-tribe of Manasseh. Gideon was a coward; Judges 6:11 tells us he was threshing wheat, far from the threshing floor being stomped by his oppressors, in his father’s winepress. You can just imagine him crouching down, hiding behind the vat walls, quietly going about his business in secret. Just then, an angel appears to him proclaiming, “The Lord is with you, O most valiant of men!” Who, me?!
- Numbers 22:28-30 – Dr. Dolittle talks to his … donkey. The enemies of Israel were freaked out when they came out of Egypt. One of them, Balak, tried to get a man named Balaam to curse the Israelites. When Balaam was on his way to meet Balak, an angel stopped him. What happened next is most surprising. Balaam didn’t notice the angel, but his donkey did. The animal avoided the angel a few times, so Balaam beat her. Then, out of nowhere, by the power of God, the donkey spoke asked why he kept striking her. More perplexingly, Balaam started reasoning with her.
- Exodus 4:24 – God plots to kill Moses. Hard to believe, I know, but when Moses was going back into Egypt from his exile in the desert, he wasn’t terribly excited about circumcising his son. For failing to keep the covenant, God was about to strike Moses down when his wife, Zipporah, did some quick thinking and carried out the task on her own with a flint knife. Poor kid must’ve been terrified.
- Acts 2:37 – A more painful kind of circumcision. Just after receiving the Holy Spirit, the apostles went out on Pentecost to preach the Gospel. Recounting to the Jews all that had happened to Jesus, he gave them a sense of compunction, so much so that they were “cut to the heart.” It wasn’t just their sorrow for sin, though. In Deuteronomy 30:6, Moses told the Israelites that after the blessing and the curse, God would restore them back to their old land and circumcise their hearts. Thank goodness it was spiritual.