Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus Excerpt – Chapter 15, Part Two!


God’s Extensive, Expensive Interior Décor Requirements for Homeless Refugees

(Exodus 25-27)


First half of Chapter 15 is here.


Having gotten the furniture out of the way, God starts in on curtains. He wants ten of ’em, done up in the finest linen with the most costly blue, purple, and scarlet dyes – remember, kids, those colors were hella expensive to achieve back then. He wants each curtain to have cherubim embroidered on it. And he doesn’t want a few simple drapes, no. He’s asking for enormous, heavy panels that are 28 cubits (about 42 feet) long and 4 cubits (about 6 feet) wide. Then the curtains must be joined in two sets of 5, and 50 blue loops put on the edge of each outer curtain; God’s really particular about that. Then you’ve gotta have 50 solid-gold clasps to put through the loops. (Ex. 26:1-6)

If you want to get an idea of how fun this stuff was to shlep around the desert, go to a fabric store, find the biggest bolt of upholstery fabric you can, and carry it around the store for eight hours. Then, as you lay dying, ponder the fact that you had the benefit of air conditioning, and the Sinai did not.

And that’s not all! God also wants 11 goat-hair curtains, 30×4 cubits (45×6 feet), with 100 loops and 50 brass clasps, for an outer covering for this tabernacle of his. And then, God wants another covering of fine red rams’ skins, and yet another cover of finest leather, which the King James people apparently thought came from badgers. In addition, of course, this tabernacle tent required a frame, so God asks for one made of shittim wood, with silver sockets. I’m shocked he finally remembered he asked for offerings of silver as well as gold: I thought he’d never use it. But of course, God wants the frames, bars, and rings to be overlaid with and made from solid gold. (Ex. 26:7-30)

Not satisfied with the curtains he’s already got, God requests another set. His garish color preferences once again assert themselves, as he wants this inner “vail” to be blue, purple, and scarlet linen – with cherubim, of course. And, obviously, he wants its frame to be made from gold-covered shittim, with solid gold fasteners and silver sockets. And he wants a screen made from the same colors, five gold-slathered shittim pillars, and of course solid gold hooks, but this time, he’ll accept brass sockets. Everything – furniture and hangings – should be arranged just so, including specific cardinal directions for each bit of furniture. God apparently likes a bit of the old feng shui for his desert digs. (Ex. 26:31-37)

Having minutely detailed the tabernacle and its furniture, God goes on to specify what kind of barbecue grill he wants built. It must be square, made of shittim, with horns, and everything covered with brass. He tells Moses he wants all sorts of fancy barbecue tools, including ash pans and meat forks, which are all crucial to ensuring properly burnt offerings and a tidy clean-up afterward. He wants a brass net, and of course the whole thing has to be portable, so the nomads will have to schlep this 7.5′ x 7.5′ x 4.5′ hunk of wood and metal around on poles. Happily, God decrees it can be hollow. That must’ve been a relief. (Ex. 27:1-8)

God’s curtain obsession returns in full force. He asks for the whole area to be enveloped in curtains 7.5 feet tall and 150 feet long, 75 feet wide, with a 22.5 x 7.5 foot high entrance, and a 30 foot screen. The curtains he wants done in fine linen, but plain: it’s the screen he wants embroidered in his three favorite colors. No wonder the Israelites were in the desert so long: do you have any idea how much time it takes to hand-embroider that much fabric? And carrying it had to be an unbelievable pain in the arse: just the outer cloth walls and screen come to 525 feet of fabric! Not to mention all the brass pillars with their silver bands and hooks. God also wants all the pegs for hanging utensils to be brass. That’s pretty brassy. (Ex. 27:9-19)

God then advises that everyone should tithe pure beaten olive oil to keep the enormous lamp burning. He wants the lamp placed just outside the vail, and tended from evening to morning by Aaron and his sons, forever. (Ex. 27:20-21)

It’s about at this point that one wonders why Moses didn’t discreetly clear his throat somewhere in all that soul-crushing detail and say, “I’d just like to remind the LORD that we, not you, are going to be carrying all this shi- stuff, around a desert. And, not only does it weigh a ton, it’s going to take at least half the day to strike, and another half to erect.”

But then, he probably didn’t want to see the LORD’s eye twinkle sadistically as he answered, “Exactly. Mwah-ha-ha!”

The LORD will be discussing proper priestly attire and issuing death threats next. I’m shocked he went such a long stretch without!


Image is the cover for Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus. The painting is Charles Sprague Pearce's Lamentations over the Death of the First-Born of Egypt, showing an Egyptian man and woman weeping over the coffin of their infant.

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus Coming Soon!

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. I: Genesis is now available at Amazon! Worldwide, even! Pick up your copy today.

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus Excerpt – Chapter 15, Part One!


God’s Extensive, Expensive Interior Décor Requirements for Homeless Refugees

(Exodus 25-27)



The next time someone who considers Exodus to be holy writ snarks at me about gay guys being into interior decorating, I shall have to request they turn to chapters 25 thru 27 in their Holy Bible. God has really put some serious thought into how he wants his living space set up and decorated. I mean, it’s verging on the pathological. It’s not the sort of thing you’d expect the creator of the universe to get hung up on. You’d expect him to DIY if he’s that bloody picky. And even if he chooses to delegate, you’d hope he’d hire an established firm, rather than a ragtag band of freed slaves lost in the desert. But no. He’s got some really detailed requirements, and he expects the Israelites to fulfill them.

He starts by demanding people bring him stuff. See, the all-powerful, all-knowing creator of the universe doesn’t know if you really really truly love him enough unless you give him lots of expensive gifts. But, y’know, only if you really want to. Not like he’d withhold his favor from you if you didn’t, or anything like that.

Oh, wait. Yes he would.

Anyway, God wants stuff for the tabernacle he’s been dreaming of. Sure, he could create it himself. Don’t be ridiculous! Of course he could! He’s absolutely not imaginary at all, and he totally did make the earth, heavens, and everything else in existence in six days. This tabernacle project would take him maybe a few minutes in the morning, tops. But then it wouldn’t be special. (Ex. 25:1-2)

So he tells Moses to ask the people for their (completely voluntary!) offerings of:

  • Gold, silver, and brass.*
  • Blue, purple, and scarlet yarns, and fine linen.
  • Goats’ hair.
  • Tanned rams’ skins (dyed red) and badgers’ skins
  • Shittim wood.
  • Lamp oil, spices for said lamp oil, and sweet incense.
  • Onyx and gemstones for the priest’s fancy breastplate and the ephod. (Ex. 25:3-7)

Next, God says what they should do with all these (completely voluntary!) expensive offerings: the all-powerful creator of the universe needs a bunch of nomads to make him a very heavy large box to live in, plus a bunch of ornate furniture, all of which they’re going to have to pack up and carry all over the desert. (Ex. 25:8)

God’s obviously put a lot of thought into his dream mobile home. He wants it to be built from fancy wood, and plastered with gold inside and out. Also, he wants a gold cover on it. He wants the hardware, like the rings for the carrying poles, to be made of gold, too, which is shiny but hardly practical. The carrying poles must also be gilded, because why be practical when you can be ostentatious? And, just to give you an idea of how micro-managey God is, he makes it clear that the poles are never to be removed from the rings. Why? Because God says so, that’s why. (Ex. 25:9-17)

After giving minute instructions about the beaten-gold cherubim he wants places on the Ark, as if it wasn’t going to be hard enough to carry around already, God then tells Moses he wants a table. Not like a Shaker table or a modern, simple Swedish design or anything nice like that. No, he wants a baroque dining table made of some of the most expensive wood available, acquired from a tree covered in thorns. Then he wants it slathered in gold. And he wants solid gold plates, cups, and bowls for it. Apparently, it’s supposed to always be set, because God wants the shewbread (bread of the Presence) to always be on the table. This will make carrying it around with its gilded poles tricky. (Ex. 25:18-30)

In addition to all that other opulent stuff, God wants a pure gold lamp stand. He’s really put a lot of thought into this thing. He insists it be made of one piece of hammered gold, and it’s got to have six branches with eighteen almond-blossom shaped cups, plus four more cups for the center stem, and he wants an almond bud underneath each pair of branches where they meet the stand. There has to be seven lamps made for this thing, plus solid gold lamp trays and snuffers. The whole shebang is supposed to weigh around 75-110 pounds. Imagine having to carry a 110lb lamp stand around the desert for 40 years. (Ex. 25:30-40)

All the Israelites must have “borrowed” a heck of a lot of jewelry from their Egyptian neighbors before running off, is all I’m saying.

To be continued…

Image is the cover for Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus. The painting is Charles Sprague Pearce's Lamentations over the Death of the First-Born of Egypt, showing an Egyptian man and woman weeping over the coffin of their infant.

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus Coming Soon!

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. I: Genesis is now available at Amazon! Worldwide, even! Pick up your copy today.



*Bronze according to the New Revised Standard Version. But I’m pretty sure God wouldn’t go with anything quite so elegant.

Fine leather. Hopefully, God didn’t mean actual badgers, as there weren’t any in Egypt or the Sinai.

Acacia. But feel free to shout “Shittim!” in church. It’s biblical!

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus Excerpt – Chapter 13, Part Two!


How to Buy Slaves (and Other Tips for Godly Living)

(Exodus 21)

(In our last edition, God gave the rules for owning slaves. In the conclusion of this chapter, we will learn how to beat them – among other things.)

But first, God would like to discuss penalties for violence. [Read more…]

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus Excerpt – Chapter 13, Part One!


How to Buy Slaves (and Other Tips for Godly Living)

(Exodus 21)

Having given Moses the rough draft of the Ten Commandments, God proceeds to lay down the moral law.

Now, Christians tell me a lot about how perfect God is. Even the ones who aren’t Real True Christians™, and believe in hippie socialist Jesus rather than Legalistic Uptight Asshole Jesus, wax lyrical about how good God is. Many Christians tell me that the Bible is God’s timeless Word, which established a perfect moral law, even though some of the bits were just for those uncouth tribal dudes and needn’t trouble us today. None of them seem to agree on which of those laws God tossed, as God never specified in the text (although quite a few seem to just adore those bits of Leviticus that bash gay people).

When it’s pointed out that the Good Book contains some really bad laws, Christians get kind of blustery and stammery and insist that those laws were the best God could do at the time. The people were rebellious, they say, and primitive, and prone to sin: they would’ve refused to follow laws that were too advanced*.

To which I call: shenanigans.

If God is as powerful and wise as claimed, he should have had no problem laying down superb, compassionate, and flawless moral laws, and enforcing them. If god was trying to ease people in, he could have said right then (cuz he knows the future), “These are the laws for now. I’ll have better ones once you lot are more civilized.”

I want you to pay close attention to this chapter, dear Christians, and tell me how these laws are perfect, or where in this chapter God said they were temporary and would not be applicable to future generations.

God jumps right into the deep and stinky, starting off with slavery. He’s completely for it. He just wants to establish a few regulations:

  1. You can have a Hebrew as a slave for up to six full years. But you’ve gotta set him loose, debt-free, in the seventh year.
  2. Return your slave to freedom in the same marital condition in which you found him. If he was single, he goes alone. If he had a wife, she goes with him, free of charge.
  3. God, as we know, is all for strong nuclear families. But not for slaves! No, if you, kind master, gave your slave a wife, and he sexed her up, and they had sweet children together, your male slave gets his ass set free alone in Year 7. Wifey and the children extra slaves they made are yours to keep.
  4. If the slave you just so generously (were ordered to) set free is all like, “But I love my wife and kids! I can’t leave ’em!” then congratulations! You may now take him to your doorpost, drill a hole in his ear, and keep his ass enslaved forever. (Ex. 21:1-6)

There is not one sentence in these verses that says, “But verily I say unto you, slavery is horrible, and you’d better enjoy it while it lasts, cuz I’m gonna abolish and forbid it in a few generations when y’all are more enlightened.” God speaks not one word against the practice.

Image is a woodcut showing an Egyptian overseer menacing a brick-laden Hebrew with a stick. A woman clutches her head in the background. There is a slumped man to the right, a woman carrying a water jar on her head in the middle background, and an Egyptian taking a baby from a woman in the background.

The Egyptians Afflicted the Israelites (illustration from the 1897 Bible Pictures and What They Teach Us by Charles Foster). Public domain image and caption via Wikimedia Commons.

Maybe he’ll get to it whilst he’s giving instructions to Moses regarding women and slavery:

  1. If a man sells his daughter, she gets to remain a slave indefinitely – unlike the male slaves, she doesn’t get freed.
  2. But if the dude she’s sold to doesn’t like her, he’s not allowed to sell her to any durned foreigners. He has to allow her daddy to buy her back.
  3. If he bought her for his son to sex up, he has to treat her as a daughter.
  4. If he takes her as his wife for his own self, and later takes an additional wife, he’s got to keep providing his first wife the same level of food, clothing, and sexy fun times as before.
  5. If he can’t do those things for her, then he’s gotta set her free, without debt. (Ex. 21:7-11)

Nowhere does God ever say: “Dads – don’t sell your daughters as sex slaves. That’s disgusting.” He doesn’t say, “Dudes, don’t buy women as sex slaves – that’s an asshole thing to do, and also really skeevy.” In not one single place does God say, “You know what, guys? Don’t buy and sell women at all. Just don’t. I’m gonna call that an abomination unto me right there.” Don’t get so starry-eyed over God giving a few paltry rights to these poor girls people are selling. Don’t get so over-awed by the fact it’s God talking that you forget these girls were slaves whose destiny was to be repeatedly raped. God is regulating the sex slave trade. That is in no way moral.

And if you’ve ever condemned sex trafficking, you’ve got to face the fact that your God was completely down with it.

Just wait ’til we get to the rules on how to beat your slaves!


*Some Christians, horrifyingly, insist God is perfect and those horrific laws are still right and just today, but they’re a definite minority.

Exceptions apply.

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus Excerpt – Chapter 10!


A Singsong to Appease the Narcissistic Tyrant

(Exodus 15)

The Israelites, as you may well imagine, are a bit giddy after having walked through a sea while it drowned the army behind them. And they seem to know that if they want to survive, they’re going to have to reassure their narcissistic tyrant of a god that he’s really, really glorious, and they definitely know he’s the LORD.

So Moses leads them in a little singsong.

The first verse assures God that he sure is glorious and triumphant, drowning all those cavalry dudes and their horses like he did. Inoffensive, meek little ants may sing similar songs to us when we poison the army ants’ nest in the garden, but leave theirs unmolested. I’m afraid it won’t help them when we get round to spading up the spot they’re living in. (Ex. 15:1)

The second verse assures God that he’s all that plus their salvation, and they’ll build him a nice house, and exalt him like dear old Dad did. This can be a good thing to tell a bully if you decide you’d rather become a sycophant than get punched in the face again. (Ex. 15:2)

The third verse is rather matter-of-fact, pointing out that “the LORD is a man of war” and “the LORD is his name.” It sounds like they’d like to make damned sure the LORD knows it’s not necessary to issue them any painful or fatal reminders of either fact. (Ex. 15:3)

The fourth and fifth verses return to dwell on Pharaoh’s fate, and how all his chariots and army men and captains were all “drowned in the Red Sea,” and they’ve all sunk like a stone. The Israelites know their god’s quite proud of his smiting prowess, and wish to reassure him they noticed, so that he won’t feel tempted to demonstrate it on them. (Ex. 15:4-5)

Image is a watercolor showing Pharaoh's army drowning in the waters of the Red Sea.

The Egyptians Are Destroyed, c. 1896-1902, by James Jacques Joseph Tissot

The sixth verse is where they wax eloquently over the glorious power and strength of God’s right hand. They quickly add that it’s the right hand that dashed the enemy to pieces. It’s good they added that bit: it was starting to sound like they were commenting on the LORD’s masturbatory prowess. (Ex. 15:6)

The seventh verse dwells lovingly on how in “the greatness” of the LORD’s “excellency” he totally kicked the Egyptians’ asses, and lavishes praise upon his mighty wrath wot consumed them. One must assure God he’s a macho-mighty god, lest he begin to feel inadequate and get an itchy smiting finger again. (Ex. 15:7)

The eighth verse informs us where the mighty east wind that parted the sea came from: God’s incredible nostrils. It rather sounds like he sneezed, but they try to make it sound as epic as possible. (Ex. 15:8)

The ninth verse speculates as to the enemy’s state of mind. They seem to have no idea that the Egyptians weren’t pursuing them from their own lust, greed, or anger, but because their very own God mindfucked them into it so he could show off his army smashing prowess. (Ex. 15:9)

The tenth verse reassures God that they absolutely did notice how he drowned the Egyptians. Please don’t hit us, LORD. (Ex. 15:10)

The eleventh verse tells God there’s no other god like him, nosiree. You’re the bestest, most holiest, most amazing magician of all. We love you, please don’t kill us. (Ex. 15:11)

The twelfth verse tells God they absolutely positively without doubt did notice what he did to the Egyptians. Only they screw up and say the earth swallowed Pharaoh’s army, without mentioning the drowning part. Whoops! Hope God doesn’t notice! (Ex. 15:12)

The thirteenth verse quickly covers for that blunder by telling God how merciful he is to the Israelites, and how strong he’s been, guiding them to his holy house. Which they haven’t built yet. Totally will, though. Remember, O LORD, you’re merciful. Mer-ci-ful. (Ex. 15:13)

The fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth verses crow over how shit-scared all the people in Palestine are going to be when they hear about God. The royalty and “mighty men” and the very inhabitants shall be amazed, start shaking, and just melt away – or freeze like a rock – they’ll be so terrified of God, and they’ll stay that way until his people pass. Hopefully. If God doesn’t forget, or end up in a snit and let their enemies have their way with them. (Ex. 15:14-16)

The seventeenth verse reminds God that he promised them a place to live at the end of all this. They’ll even let him take credit for building the sanctuary which they, actually, are gonna build. It’s best to give Dear Leader the credit for everything so he doesn’t get cranky. (Ex. 15:17)

The eighteenth verse assures God he’ll reign forever and ever. Not like those other gods who were popular for a while, but their fifteen minutes of fame are so over. (Ex. 15:18)

And the nineteenth verse lets the LORD know, one more time, that they definitely did see what he did with the Egyptians, and my, how clever, doing all that drowning while we got to walk on nice dry land in the middle of the sea. Boy, that sure was awesome – wasn’t it awesome, everybody? Tell God it was awesome before he gets pissy. (Ex. 15:19)

Aaron’s sister Miriam then has all the women come out dancing with timbrels to let the LORD know he sure did gloriously show those Egyptians he killed, indeed, and their little horses, too. (Ex. 15:20)

Image shows several women with blue robes, red sashes, and white cloaks dancing in a line and beating on timbrels in a palm grove.

The Songs of Joy, c. 1896-1902, by James Jacques Joseph Tissot.

This is apparently enough singing the LORD’s praises for now, and they get on with their journey. Unfortunately, God is shit is finding ways through the desert that include water. They go without any for three days. When they finally do find some, it’s bitter, and they can’t drink it. You’d think that after all that vigorous stroking of his ego they did, God would’ve at the very least provided them with clean drinking water. But no, he can’t do anything nice until people are suffering and begging. It’s only after the people complain to Moses, and Moses cries to God, that God has him thrown in a magic tree to make the water sweet. (Ex. 15:21-25)

God decides this is a great time to lay down some rules. He tells them, “If you listen carefully to me, and to what I think is right (no matter how asinine it is), and listen to my commandments, and follow all my orders, I won’t infect you with all the diseases like I did the Egyptians, cuz I’m the god that heals you. Capisce?” (Ex. 15:25-26)

I dunno about you, but I’m of the opinion that when your God starts to sound like a Mafia don, it’s probably time to flee and look for one that isn’t as likely to abuse the shit out of you, then pretend it’s love.

Image is the cover for Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus. The painting is Charles Sprague Pearce's Lamentations over the Death of the First-Born of Egypt, showing an Egyptian man and woman weeping over the coffin of their infant.

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus Coming Soon!

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. I: Genesis is now available at Amazon! Worldwide, even! Pick up your copy today.

Why Secular Anti-Abortion Arguments Fail

Beth Presswood came across the most asinine anti-abortion article I’ve ever seen. Go and read her post. I’ll have a little something to say about it when you return. It won’t be nice, it contains quite a bit of foul language, and I’m not shielding anyone from my anger, but if you’re a secular forced-birther, you’d better damned sure show me you read, comprehended, and thought carefully about what I said before you dare to open your mouth in my presence. [Read more…]

So a Muslim Kid Builds a Clock, and Atheist “Leaders” Lose Their Shit

The freakout over Ahmed Mohamed’s innocent clock-building project is an excellent example of Islamophobia in action. Iris Vander Pluym has an excellent post showing how too many people in this country freak the fuck out over black Muslim kids doing safe, simple science, while having nothing but praise for white boys who create literal nuclear reactors. Had Nuclear Kid been brown, black, Muslim, or some combination? Poor child probably would’ve been in Guantanamo by the end of the school day. [Read more…]

Strategic Responses to Tract Thruster Tactics: Let Us Brainstorm Together!

This article at No Longer Quivering gives some insight onto the tactics and motivations of Tract Thrusters. You’ve probably encountered at least one of these annoyingly religious folks who make it their business to get up in your business and thrust their terrible tracts at you, then run off having convinced themselves they’ve done something heroic. Or you’ve dealt with a shiny doorknocking person who’s just convinced you’ll come right to Jesus once you’ve heard their Extra Special Message You’ve Only Heard 1000x Before, and obviously you’ll want to forego sleep, food, etc. to hear the Good News.

Image shows an orange and white kitty dressed as a Mormon missionary, being held sitting up on its owner's lap with a mini Book Of Mormon.  Caption says, "Have you heard the good word about Ceiling Cat, Brother?c

Oftentimes, we’re caught flat-footed. Especially in the case of Tract Thrusters who impose themselves upon us in public without warning, we may not be ready with an instant riposte. So let’s think of creative ways to respond if some zealot tries to force religious tracts upon us.

For instance: if I’m in a hurry, I’ll hand their tract back, saying, “That’s so thoughtful, but I’m overstocked on butt wipes from bigots. Have a nice day!” If I have time and inclination, I shall sit down with them and ask them to explain exactly what each bit means, asking them to define terms like “God” and explain to me how the more violent or gross verses and stories in the Bible (or Holy Book in question) apply to the tract in question. Intersperse with horribly embarrassing personal anecdotes about fictional uncouth religious family members. Repeat until they flee.

Of course, the most efficient response would be to reciprocate with tracts from the Satanic Temple. Alas, those only come in a swag bag, but for cheap comebacks to religious solicitation, perhaps these spiffy buttons will do. And maybe, as an ordained minister of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I should write a tract or two myself…

What’s your strategy? Have you already countered a Tract Thruster with a brilliant counter-ploy? Do tell!

You Can Save Atheist Bloggers’ Lives

You may have seen the stories about Bangladeshi bloggers hacked to death by Islamist assholes for being open about unbelief. You’ve surely heard of Raif Badawi, who is being more harshly punished for his freethought writings than another man is for raping a child. If you’re like me, you’ve watched, helplessly, as people die and there’s so very little we can do to stop it.

Now we have a chance to act. [Read more…]

How a Cult Programs You to Stay in the Trap: Escape Chapter 1 (Part Two)

In our last installment of Escape by Carolyn Jessop, we got a taste of the depression, despair, and abuse Carolyn lived with in her FLDS community. Today, we’ll see how her childhood conditioned her to fear the outside world, and accept her lot as an abused wife pumping out endless babies in a loveless plural marriage.

Colorado City, AZ and Hildale, UT are communities where children literally run screaming away from strangers. It isn’t because of stranger-danger or regular, if exaggerated, fears. Carolyn tells us she and the other kids [Read more…]