Genesis to Deuteronomy

If this is your first visit to HAAM’s Atheist Bible Study, please read the Introduction before beginning.

PART ONE – GENESIS - Introduction The first 5 books of the Old Testament, also known as the Pentateuch, the Books of Moses, or in Judaism, the Torah, make up about 1/6 of the bible. According to Jewish tradition (later adopted by Christianity) the Torah was dictated to Moses by God, but modern consensus is that the stories are taken […]
Day 1 - Genesis 1-3 Chapters 1 and 2 Note the completely contradictory accounts of the creation story in the first two chapters.               Here’s an image of how the earth might look as described in the bible. Chapter 3 Make sure to check the link in ch 3:15 of the SAB […]
Day 2 - Genesis 4-7 Chapters 4 and 5 In chapter 4 we get the story of Cain and Abel. I must have grown up sheltered, but I had never heard of the ‘mark of Cain’ (4:15), or knew that it referred to black people. It’s only the second day of reading, and I’m disgusted already. I’ve often […]
Day 3 - Genesis 8-11 Again, the SAB pretty much covers all the contradictions and absurdities in the conclusion of the Noah’s Ark story. In 9:4 we get the first of several admonitions against eating blood. These verses are used by Jews as part of the rules about keeping kosher, and by Jehovah’s Witnesses to justify refusing blood […]
Day 4 - Genesis 12-15 Chapter 12 Note the blatant error in 12:16. According to archaeologists, “Camels are mentioned as pack animals in the biblical stories of Abraham, Joseph, and Jacob. But archaeologists have shown that camels were not domesticated in the Land of Israel until centuries after the Age of the Patriarchs (2000-1500 BCE). In addition to […]
Day 5 - Genesis 16-18 Chapter 16 brings the sordid story of Abraham and Sarah, and the maid (er, slave) Hagar. So much for family values; this is a ménage a trois. Not to mention that chapter 17 clearly shows that god condones slavery (v 12-13), on top of genital mutilation (v 11-12) and incest (v 15-16).   […]
Day 6 - Genesis 19-21 Chapter 19 Were Lot’s daughters married? In verse 8 they are referred to as virgins. But in verse 14 in the KJV, Lot speaks to his “sons-in-law, which married his daughters”. I checked two modern translations; the NLT says Lot spoke to “his daughters’ fiancés” and the NIV refers to these men as […]
Day 7 - Genesis 22-24 Moving right along, today we get to Abraham….. another lovely biblical morality tale. It doesn’t matter that Yahweh withdrew his command at the last minute. What matters is that Abraham was prepared to follow it. What kind of sick zombie would be prepared to carry through on that? And what kind of sick […]
Day 8 - Genesis 25-26 Chapter 25 More family values as Abraham favors Isaac over all his other children in 25:1, and Isaac favors Esau over Jacob in 25:28. Like father, like son, I guess. The story about Esau being excessively hairy has always bothered me. There are medical conditions that can cause that. Hypertrichosis (werewolf syndrome) can […]
Day 9 - Genesis 27-29 Chapter 27 The story of how Jacob deceived Isaac always bothered me – I guess it’s that hair thing again. I realize the guy was supposed to be feeble and blind, but seriously would anyone who was even conscious be taken in by goat skin stuck on Jacob’s hands and neck? Unless it […]
Day 10 - Genesis 30-31 Chapter 30 I’m fascinated by the magical thinking in Gen 30. Verse 27 features uses the word ‘divination’ in many translations, although the KJV plays this down and sticks with ‘learned by experience’. A footnote to the Contemporary English version says that the original Hebrew word refers to fortune-telling or magic. Then verse […]
Day 11 - Genesis 32-34 Chapter 32-33 I came across a very interesting int-erpretation of the verses 24-32. I have never heard of Jews not eating from an animal’s hip. I once lived for a whole summer (babysitting) with a Jewish family who kept kosher, and I learned lots about keeping a kosher kitchen, but still never heard […]
Day 12 - Genesis 35-37 Chapter 35-36 Good thing that Steve Wells annotated the bible, including pouring thru all those boring genealogies, so that we don’t have to. Interesting one in genesis 36:12. Esau’s concubine gave birth to a son, Amalek. Not particularly notable, except that way back at 14:7 all the Amalekites were smitten in battle. Since […]
Day 13 - Genesis 38-40 Chapter 38 First issue of interpretation today is 38:2. Judah ‘took her and went in unto her’ in the KJV; I checked the Hebrew/English translation and it’s the same. Does this somehow imply marriage? Because at least 3 modern translations (NLT, NIV, and NET) say he married her. Are they just trying to […]
Day 14 - Genesis 41-42 We continue the story of Joseph and his amazing…. yeah, we know. Just watch the musical. The whole dream sequence just screams ‘folk tale’ at me. And again, I know I’m a skeptic, but I find it hard to believe that in 42:8, not one of Joseph’s brothers recognized him.
Day 15 - Genesis 43-45 Chapter 43 There was a famine in the land. No surprise there. The cyclical occurrence of famine has been a mainstay of societies engaged in subsistence agriculture since the dawn of agriculture itself. (Wikipedia) Which really makes the whole story of Joseph folklore; a primitive culture’s attempt to explain natural phenomena.   Chapter […]
Day 16 - Genesis 46-47 Chapter 46 There’s a discrepancy between translations in Genesis 46:4. The KJV (and Hebrew) says ‘I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again’, and the SAB notes ‘God promises to bring Jacob safely back from Egypt, but Jacob dies in Egypt’. However not all […]
Day 17 - Genesis 48-50 Chapter 48 Jacob Blesses Manasseh and Ephraim (at right).   Chapter 49-50 Here is the first of 6 lists in the bible of the ’12 Tribes of Israel’. And every list is different. Check the SAB for a chart if you’re curious. I spent some time reading about the 12 tribes of Israel […]
PART TWO – EXODUS AND LEVITICUS - Introduction Exodus The familiar stories continue in Exodus, with the plagues of Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the Ten Commandments, and instructions on how to buy a slave (and beat him), and how to sell your daughter. In the last few chapters, God calls Moses up the mountain, where he gives instructions about […]
Day 18 - Exodus 1-3 Chapter 1 Here’s another dose of apologetic schmaltz – the ‘baby Moses’ story. Warning – it’s pretty syrupy stuff, aimed at convincing kids that god is all warm lovey-dovey. Certainly doesn’t jive with the Moses we see in 2:11-12. Chapter 2 The SAB notes that the birth story of Moses is strikingly similar […]
Day 19 - Exodus 4-6 Chapter 4 Is there any way to put a positive way spin on 4:11? I don’t think so. Yahweh is either sadistic and creates disabilities deliberately, or he is is incompetent and lets them happen accidentally. A perfect example of this: Chapter 5 It seems to me that the average employer would react […]
Day 20 - Exodus 7-9 Chapter 7 We arrive at the plagues of Egypt. But let’s look at them from the lighter side. They are completely absurd and contradictory. In v 19 Moses turns all the water in Egypt to blood, even the water in pots and basins. But then verse 22 says that the magicians were able […]
Day 21 - Exodus 10-12 Chapter 10 Pharaoh sends a plague of locusts just so he can boast about it. Is this a game to him? And the plague of darkness in Egypt while normal daylight continues in Israel (v 22), gives this story away as a tall tale written by someone with no knowledge of modern astronomy. […]
Day 22 - Exodus 13-15 Chapter 13 Here’s the cute, sanitized, children’s version of the Exodus Chapters 14 and 15 Cuteness aside, these chapters are sickening. Yahweh’s actually proud of all the killing (14:18), and the people are, too (15:1). But nothing screams ‘myths and legends’ more than 14:25, which describes god removing chariot wheels. Really? Were there […]
Day 23 - Exodus 16-18 Chapter 16 I love this annotation from the SAB  for Exodus 16:8 “When the people complain to Moses, he tells them they aren’t complaining about him, but about God, making them apostates and heretics, and therefore deserve severe punishment. Religious leaders have used this tactic ever since.” Well put! So what exactly was […]
Day 24 - Exodus 19-21 Chapter 19 Only Moses is allowed to approach Mount Sinai. The penalty for anyone else (riff-raff) who attempts it is… yup, death. A little harsh? Death will be the penalty for just about any transgression in the Old Testament. Chapter 20 There are so many opinions on the Ten Commandments. Here are 4 […]
Day 25 - Exodus 22-24 Chapter 22-23 The rules laid out in Exodus 22-23 make perfect sense to me – interpreted in the context of society in that time and place. They reflect the knowledge, thinking, and values of that society. Some still make sense in our society today; others do not. Regardless, I fail to see anything […]
Day 26 - Exodus 25-27 According to the SAB, Exodus 25 is the first of 7 chapters that god devotes to giving instructions for building and sewing. Am I the only one who’s a little cynical about his priorities here? There are very few annotations on these chapters, just the icon for ‘boring stuff’, and I don’t have […]
Day 27 - Exodus 28-29 Chapter 28 In ch 28 we are introduced to the the Urim and the Thummim (v 30). They will appear several more times in the OT. No one knows what these actually were, but they were tools associated with ‘decision-making’, to put it kindly. More accurately, they were associated with divination, and supposedly […]
Day 28 - Exodus 30-32 Chapters 30 and 31 Exodus 30: 11-16. And so it starts. The people are manipulated into giving money to the priests in order to ‘get right’ with the Lord. It’s a Flat Tax – no exceptions made for those who were less fortunate. What use does god have for money? And who really […]
Day 29 - Exodus 33-35 Chapter 33 This is what I thought of when I read about Moses talking to god in chapter 33. Chapter 34 In ch 34 we get a second version of the Ten Commandments (there will be yet another in Deuteronomy). This one is very different from the first – in fact, unless you’re […]
Day 30 - Exodus 36-38 Well this was a fast read. It’s just a rehash of the instructions for the tabernacle structure, furniture, and accoutrements, described as the construction took place. The SAB has no annotations, just a big yawn icon for ‘boring stuff’. But note the opulence and cost of the project. The lamp stand alone, with […]
Day 31 - Exodus 39-40 This is just a recap of how all the tabernacle was set up and the priests were dressed etc. And that completes the book of Exodus. Next we move on to Leviticus. Brace yourself.  
Day 32 - Leviticus 1-4 From the SAB: “the entire first nine chapters of Leviticus can be summarized as follows: Get an animal, kill it, sprinkle the blood around, cut the dead animal into pieces, and burn it for a sweet savor unto the Lord.” But don’t cheat – read it all anyway. Then you’ll be able to […]
Day 33 - Leviticus 5-7 Chapter 5 Anyone besides me notice the emphasis on sin and guilt? Chapters 6 and 7 Edward Falzon your footnote to Leviticus 6:12 is a hoot! “It’s fortunate that in those days, the barren deserts in which the Israelites lived were lush and green, full of trees for keeping the fire blazing.” But […]
Day 34 - Leviticus 8-10 Chapter 8 This is just rules for animal sacrifice – disgusting but mostly boring – and then all of a sudden there’s v 23-24 – WTF? – and then back to the zzzz’s. Chapter 9 More of the same. Is it really necessary to know what Aaron did with each internal organ, or […]
Day 35 - Leviticus 11-13 Chapter 11 Here we go with the food rules. And the science is REALLY bad (insects and birds have 4 legs etc). The KJV is the only one of the translations I read that mentions snails (v 30); the NLT and the NIV do not. A footnote at the end of the chapter […]
Day 36 - Leviticus 14-15 Chapter 14 Next we deal with treating skin diseases and mould. It all sounds like voodoo to me. What distinguishes this stuff from witchcraft? Only the fact that it’s your own religion and not someone else’s. I keep hearing ‘double double, toil and trouble’ in my head when reading these passages.     […]
Day 37 - Leviticus 16-18 Chapter 16 Verse 8 Depending on which version you are reading, this verse may refer to either a ‘scapegoat’ or to Azazel. The direct-from-Hebrew translation uses Azazel, but the KJV translated this as ‘scapegoat’. Some of the modern translations have reverted back to the original Azazel. So who is Azazel? There’s a lot […]
Day 38 - Leviticus 19-21 Chapter 19 There is finally some good advice mixed in with the superstition. And some of the admonitions might make sense in terms of good farming practices or health standards. But others I cannot fathom, like wearing fabric made from two fibres. And what’s the big deal about beard-trimming or tattoos? Chapter 20 […]
Day 39 - Leviticus 22-23 Chapter 22 Verse 10 “No one outside a priest’s family may eat the sacred offerings. Even guests and hired workers in a priest’s home are not allowed to eat them.” I rest my case. In verse 24 I had to look up to figure out where testicles figure into this verse. The KJV […]
Day 40 - Leviticus 24-25 Chapter 24 Following instructions for keeping the lamp burning and baking bread, we get the famous ‘eye for an eye’ penal code (v 20), and this little gem: Chapter 25 The words from Leviticus 25:10 “proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” are inscribed on the Liberty Bell in […]
Day 41 - Leviticus 26-27 Chapter 26 There’s just nothing redeeming in these last two chapters of Leviticus. Chapter 26 is all about terrorism – unless there’s another way to describe ‘love me or else I’ll torture you’. It’s unimaginable to me how anyone could defend this passage, but people do. Chapter 27 We finish off Leviticus with […]
PART THREE – NUMBERS AND DEUTERONOMY -   Introduction We’ve covered quite a few well-known and entertaining stories in these first 3 books. But that’s only a small fraction of the OT! So just a heads up – from now on, familiar stories will be fewer and further between. There are still a few to come, like David and Goliath, Samson and […]
Day 42 - Numbers 1-2 Chapter 1 I got an A in high school math, but that was almost 40 years ago, and I’ve always hated statistics. So I can’t quite wrap my mind around the possibility of this: “The Israelite population went from seventy (Exodus 1:5) to several million (over 600,000 adult males) in about 400 years.” […]
Day 43 - Numbers 3-4 Chapter 3 Now it gets a bit more interesting because of an obvious error, pointed out by Edward Falzon. The total number of males in the Levite clan (v 39) is incorrect ie the math is wrong. Gershonite 7500 + Kohathite 8600 + Merarite 6200 = 22,300, not 22,000. Then, based on this […]
Day 44 - Numbers 5-6 Chapter 5 This is a real piece of work. In just the first 4 verses, the sick and disabled are removed from the camp and left to fend for themselves or die alone. In verses 8-10, here we go again with the priest getting to collect and keep all the loot from sacrifices, […]
Day 45 - Numbers 7 Chapter 7 just continues the stupidity, needless brutality, and wasteful excess. It reads like a sort-of twisted version of the 12 Days of Christmas, only instead of a celebration, each day brings another slaughter, as each day a different tribe brings their offerings to the lord. A total of either 240 (according to […]
Day 46 - Numbers 8-10 Chapter 8 God reveals that he plays favorites. The Levites are extra-special, and god has chosen them to be his priests. So… just thinking ahead – wouldn’t it have made sense then, for Jesus to be descended from the Levites? Because he wasn’t. Chapter 9 Here’s an absurd story about the Israelites following […]
Day 47 - Numbers 11-13 Chapter 11 God punishes people for complaining by burning them. And then manna and quail reappear, similar to the story in Exodus 16. Interesting side-note in the SAB about the quail. “Common Quail (Cotumix cotumix) migrate twice a year between Africa and Eurasia, and occasional storm-induced “fallout” could make quail appear to rain […]
Day 48 - Numbers 14-15 Chapter 14 Does god act like even more of a complete psychopath than usual, or is it just me? And these stories are sounding increasingly familiar – the bit about not letting the Egyptians hear any gossip was already told in Exodus 32. God is repeating himself – or maybe someone is retelling […]
Day 49 - Numbers 16-17 Chapter 16 The body count continues to mount, and god becomes more sadistic and megalomaniacal. The clear message here is blind unquestioning obedience to the priest. I often wonder how believers can possibly justify or defend stories like this. Well the answer is in some of the comments to this blog post. But […]
Day 50 - Numbers 18-20 Chapter 18 The first time I read (well, skimmed) the bible all the way thru, Numbers was where I started to get bogged down, and now I remember why. So boring and repetitious. Here we go again with the holy offerings to the priests. The Levites collect tithes, and then they give the […]
Day 51 - Numbers 21-22 Chapter 21 The Israelites continue on their aimless journey, leaving death and destruction in their wake. Ever wonder how anyone could think this reflects family values? Here’s the apologist take on the story; watching the film, I wonder if the people who made it read the same bible I did.   What were […]
Day 52 - Numbers 23-25 Chapter 23 In verse 22 we have a unicorn again – but only in the KJV. The Hebrew-English translation and the more modern translations mention a wild ox. But according to Answers in Genesis, the unicorn was a real animal. In verse 24, why would the Israelites want to drink the blood of […]
Day 53 - Numbers 26-27 Chapter 26 In v 11 there’s an interesting contradiction with chapter 16:2-33. Did god bury alive all of Korah’s children? Depends on which version you read. And speaking of contradictions, the names of the sons of Benjamin are different depending on whether you read the list in Genesis, Numbers, or 1 Chronicles. In […]
Day 54 - Numbers 28-30 Chapters 28 and 29 These should be a snoozefest, since they’re pretty much just a copy and paste of all the sacrifices from Leviticus. But a couple of features struck me – the horrendous waste of food and destruction of animals in a climate of chronic famine (199 animals in 8 days at […]
Day 55 - Numbers 31-32 Chapter 31 The Israelites take revenge on the Midianites for leading them into idolatry back in chapter 25. But wait! Wasn’t that the Moabites? Anyway, the Israelites kill all the men (including poor Balaam and, I assume, his donkey, who tried to protect them), but it’s not good enough. Moses yells at his […]
Day 56 - Num 33-34 Chapter 33 “And these are the journeys of the children of Israel….” Zzzzz. But make sure you wake up before the end of the chapter, so that you don’t miss god telling them that when they arrive in Canaan, they must drive out everyone living there and destroy all their possessions. (That would […]
Day 57 - Numbers 35-36 Chapter 35 This is just house-keeping rules for the settlement of the Israelites. The first part grants property and land rights to the Levites – pretty good deal for a tribe that does no substantial work. (Insert joke here). The second part deals with penalties for murder. They’re somewhat progressive, in that they […]
Day 58 - Deuteronomy 1-2 Welcome to Deuteronomy! For the first few chapters, Moses makes speeches to the tribes (a total of 3, apparently). He’s reminiscing and giving them advice and pep talks before they cross the Jordan River to the Promised Land, because he won’t be allowed to go with them. Remember, all the other adults who […]
Day 59 - Deuteronomy 3-4 Chapter 3 There is more glorification of war and genocide. Moses brags of the Israelites killing all the men, women, and children of 60 cities, and keeping the livestock and plunder for themselves. He then encourages even more bloodshed: ‘You have seen for yourself everything the Lord your God has done to these […]
Day 60 - Deuteronomy 5-7 Chapter 5 So continuing Moses’ speech on rules, this is just a rehash of the 10 Commandments, for the benefit of the Israelites who weren’t born when Moses first received them. Ho-hum. Let’s liven them up…  Chapter 6 This chapter just continues the use of fear tactics to pound in the importance of […]
Day 61 - Deuteronomy 8-10 Chapter 8 Moses natters on and on and on about the same old stuff – obey god’s rules (or else!) and be thankful for all that he has done for you. Here’s a line I recognize – “man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the […]
Day 62 - Deuteronomy 11-13 Chapter 11 Edward Falzon has saved us all a lot of time here by doing his homework and discovering that it’s almost all repeated verses from previous chapters. The same old drivel – obey and life will be a bed or roses, disobey….. and this concludes the introductory portion of Moses’ second speech. […]
Day 63 - Deuteronomy 14-16 Chapter 14 This is just a review of the dietary laws and rules of worship. Don’t forget god hates shrimp! There’s a complete list of all the forbidden birds – mostly species that no one would consider eating (buzzard anyone?), including of course the bat! And then these curious instructions – “You must […]
Day 64 - Deuteronomy 17-20 Chapter 17 This chapter outlines a criminal justice system with a sort of Supreme Court of judges or priests. The penalty for apostasy is – you guessed it – stoning. Then we get rules for kings. The king shouldn’t keep too many horses, or take too many wives, and must spend every day […]
Day 65 - Deuteronomy 21-23 Today’s readings are the stuff that counter-apologists thrive on. Here are 4 short videos that capture some of the ‘highlights’ of these chapters. Pay particular attention to the second video – if you only watch one, make sure it’s that one, “Kicking 43Alley off YouTube”. This guy has made a great series of […]
Day 66 - Deuteronomy 24-26 Chapter 24 The review of rules continues. There’s a mix of good, bad, and ugly in these chapters. But how about v 16? “Parents must not be put to death for the sins of their children, nor children for the sins of their parents. Those deserving to die must be put to death […]
Day 67 - Deuteronomy 27-28 Chapter 27 Moses outlines blessings and curses to the Israelites. How come the 10 Commandments get so much more attention than the 12 Curses in Deuteronomy 27??? They actually make way more sense (by comparison). Chapter 28 Here’s a list of the blessings for obedience to god and the curses for disobedience – […]
Day 68 - Deuteronomy 29-30 These two chapters form the concluding section of Moses’ speech. FINALLY! Quick read – same old stuff, review of covenant, importance of obedience, blah blah blah. Ready, get set, and into the Promised Land (finally!) But read 30:15-20 – Moses sure sounds like a lot of preachers today; in essence saying “Obey or […]
Day 69 - Deuteronomy 31-34 Chapters 31 and 32 Hallelujah! We’re at the end of this horrible book (although I know I’ll regret thinking that – I’m pretty sure there’s worse yet to come). Moses gives the Israelites one last pep talk and writes their final instructions. And then god gives Moses one last pep talk and his […]
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