Tweeting my way through the Bible: Genesis and Exodus

One reason to follow me on Twitter is that I’m currently in the process of Tweeting my way through the Bible. The idea for the project came to me when a friend from high school complained about me posting anti-religious stuff on Facebook. This made me wonder: what would he think if I started posting Bible verses instead, only using the kind of verses that are rarely heard in sermons and Bible study groups? (My Facebook and Twitter are linked, so every verse I tweet is also one I post to Facebook.)

Well, the answer was that after awhile he was asking why I was posting Bible verses that were easy to make fun of. I asked him why the Bible has so many verses that are easy to make fun of, and never got a response. Even more frustratingly, my Bible tweets appear to have been a major factor in an ex-girlfriend unfriending me on Facebook. Even though, she told me, she was not religious, she was very upset about me “mocking Bible verses.”

Here’s the thing, though: I don’t mock Bible verses. I quote them, almost always from either the King James Version or New International Version, or else give very close paraphrases / summaries for conciseness and clarity.

I’ve made it a rule when picking verses to tweet is that if it takes even a little bit of interpretation to see what’s problematic (or in some cases merely surprising) about the passage, I generally don’t tweet it, though I’ve made exceptions for cases where I can quote the original form and the subtext will be obvious (such as when the Israelites are told to keep captured virgin girls “for yourselves.”) I also try very hard to avoid inserting my own comments, though (for reasons you’ll see below) sometimes I can’t help myself.

But the incident with my ex is a pretty good illustration of why I’m doing this project. When the contents of the Bible are so awful that accurately reporting the Bible’s contents feels like a deeply offensive attack on religion even to non-fundamentalists, that’s a conclusive argument that the Bible has no place in modern debates over how we should think and act (except, perhaps, as a window into human nature and how awful humans can be at times).

Here’s a complete list of my Bible tweets from Genesis and Exodus:

  • Bible Verse OTD: God to Eve “In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children. Thy husband shall rule over thee” Gen 3:16
  • Bible Verse OtD: “There were giants in those days” Also God’s sons came unto some women and their children became mighty men of old. Gen 6:4
  • Gen 9:25: Noah says, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers”
  • Gen 18:17 God wonders “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?” (that is, destroy Sodom and Gomorrah)
  • Gen 11:6 The LORD said: Behold, the people is one, they have all one language. Now nothing they have imagined will be restrained from them.
  • Gen 12:17 The LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife. (Part 1 of 2)
  • Gen 12:18 And Pharaoh called Abram and said, why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? (Part 2 of 2)
  • Gen 16:6-9 When Sarai “dealt hardly” with Hagar, she fled. But then an angel tells Hagar to “return to thy mistress and submit” to her.
  • Gen 17:13 God says to Abraham, “Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. “
  • Gen 18:20-21: God decides that because of the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah, he will go down and see if it’s as bad as he’s heard.
  • Gen 19:8 Lot to Sodomites: I have two virgin daughters. Take them instead of the men; the men are under my protection.
  • Gen 19:32ff Lot’s daughters: “let’s make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.” They do.
  • You know, I’ve read some fucked up stories, but I think the Bible is the only work of fiction I’ve read where two daughters rape their dad.
  • FB friend points out in Genesis, Lot’s descendants are Israel’s enemies. So much of Genesis is rationalizing tribal hatreds.
  • Gen 20:12 Abraham says about his wife: “indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother.”
  • Gen 20:18 For the LORD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham’s wife.
  • Gen 21:10-12 Sarah to Abraham on his other wife: “Cast out this bondwoman and her son” And God said unto Abraham, “hearken unto her voice”
  • Gen 24:35 And the LORD hath blessed my master greatly; and he is become great: and he hath given him… menservants, and maidservants
  • Gen 26: Story of Abraham, Abimelech, and Abraham’s wife repeats with Isaac, Abimelech, and Isaac’s wife.
  • Gen 26:12-14 Isaac sowed in that land and the LORD blessed him… For he had possession of flocks, and herds, and great store of servants.
  • Gen 28:1 And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan.
  • Gen 29 onward, story of Jacob and his two wives. No idea how to even summarize, if you’ve never read it yourself I recommend it.
  • Gen 32:22-28 Jacob wrestled a man, says “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Man says “you’ve struggled with God &humans &overcome.”
  • Gen 34:24-25 Every male was circumcised. And when they were sore the sons of Jacob slew all the males.
  • Gen 44:5 It is revealed that Joseph, of technicolor coat fame, has a cup “whereby indeed he divineth?”
  • Exodus 4:21-23 God says he will harden Pharaoh’s heart, so that he won’t let the Jews go. And if Pharaoh refuses, God will kill his son.
  • Ex 4:24-26 God tries to kill Moses. Zipporah peforms an emergency circumcision, and God lets him go.
  • Ex 7:3-4 God says, “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart… Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt.”
  • Ex 7-10: God sends a bunch of plagues on the Egyptians, occasionally hardening Pharaoh’s heart in-between plagues so the plagues can go on.
  • Ex 11:4-5 God says he will kill all the firstborn of Egypt, whether it’s Pharaoh’s, a maidservant’s, or an animal’s.
  • Ex 11:6 “And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more.”
  • Ex 12:29 At midnight God killed all the firstborn children in Egypt, from Pharaoh’s to that of the captive in the dungeon.
  • Ex 12:30 “There was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.”
  • Ex 14:4 God hardens Pharaoh’s heart *again* so that Pharaoh will go after the escaping Israelites, “and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh.”
  • Ex 14:24-25: “The LORD looked unto the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud… And took off their chariot wheels.”
  • Ex 15:1 “I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.”
  • Ex 15:26: God says if you listen to him and do what he says, he will not bring the diseases he brought onto the Egyptians onto you.
  • Ex 17:10-11: Israelites fight Amalekites. As long as Moses keeps his hands up, Israelites win, but when he stops, Amalekites start winning.
  • Ex 17:16 “the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”
  • Ex 20:5 “I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.”
  • Ex 20:17 Don’t covet your neighbor’s wife, servants, ox, donkey, or anything else that belongs to him.
  • Ex 21:2-4 A Hebrew slave goes free after seven years, but his master gets to keep his wife and children.
  • Ex 21:5-6 If a slave doesn’t want to lose his wife and kids upon being freed, “bore his ear through with an aul” and never free him.
  • Ex 21:7 “If a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant…”
  • Ex 21:17 “He that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.”
  • Ex 21:20-21 If a man beats a slave with a rod, and the slave dies a day or two later, don’t punish the master, the slave is the his money.
  • Ex 22:3 Sell thieves who can’t make restitution into slavery.
  • Ex 22:20 Kill people who make sacrifices to other gods.
  • Ex 23:2 “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.” Bertrand Russell cited that as a big influence on him.
  • Ex 31:14 Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death
  • Ex 31:15 Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day is to be put to death
  • Ex 32:9-10: God says to Moses: “The Israelites are a stiff-necked people. Leave me alone so I can destroy them.”
  • Ex 32:12, 14: Moses to God: “repent of this evil.” “And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.”
  • Ex 32:19-20 Moses makes Israelites drink water with gold powder in it because they were dancing around a gold statue.
  • Ex 32:27 Thus saith the LORD God of Israel… slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.
  • Ex 33:2 God says he’ll send an angle &drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite
  • Ex 33:23: God tells Moses: “I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.”
  • Ex 34:6-7 God says he is merciful and will visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.
  • Ex 34:14 God’s name is Jealous.
  • Ex 35:2 Whoever works on the sabbath (Saturday, in Judaism) shall be put to death.
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