“Burning sulfur…came down like rain on Sodom and Gomorrah,” and Lot’s wife “became a pillar made out of salt,” (Genesis 19:24, 26 NIRV). The area, in the south part of the Dead Sea, is rich in sulfur, salt, and natural gas. One theory, an earthquake opened a pocket of natural gas. A village fire ignited the gas, spewing sulfur and salt. Complete Visual Bible, p. 21.
When animals died to atone for the sins of humans, all five senses reminded worshipers that sin was deadly serious. Sight: cutting the animal’s throat. Sound: death squeal. Touch: warm blood. Smell: burning meat. Taste: worshipers ate some sacrifices. 100 Tough Questions about God and the Bible, p. 75.
Christians didn’t start teaching that God expected a 10% tithe of income until the mid-1800s; there are no sermons on tithing before then. Tithing became a fundraising technique after the American government stopped supporting churches with tax money, beginning in the 1830s. In Bible times, Christians gave offerings, not tithes. Paul said, “You must each decide in your heart how much to give,” (2 Corinthians 9:7 NLT). Bible Snapshots, p. 226.
At God’s command, the prophet Isaiah named one of his sons Maher-shalal-hash-baz. That’s Hebrew for “swift to plunder and quick to spoil,” prediction of what invaders would do to the Jews of Samaria. We can only hope they gave the boy a nickname. Maybe Swifty. Strange and Mysterious Stuff in the Bible, p. 139.
Pharisees weren’t talking about Judas when they asked Jesus’ disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?” (Matthew 9:10-11 NLT). They were talking about Matthew, the tax collector. Jews considered them collaborators with Rome since taxmen paid Rome for the right to collect taxes. Strange and Mysterious Stuff in the Bible, p.176.
When Jews of the Exodus returned to their homeland, they didn’t all live in what is now Israel. Three groups lived in what are now parts of the Arab countries of Jordan and Syria. They owned not only the West Bank, which is disputed today by Jordan and the Palestinians. They also owned the East Bank on the Jordan/Syria side of the river. Strange and Mysterious Stuff in the Bible, p.175.
The Bible writer said the love of Jacob’s life, Rachel, “was beautiful and had a good figure,” (Genesis 29:17 CEV). But her older sis Leah, whom Jacob got tricked into marrying, had something going on with her eyes. Scholars can only guess what. But since the writer seems to report it as the flip side of good looking, she may have been cross-eyed, bug-eyed, or one-eyed. Bible translations: “weak eyes,” “no sparkle.” Strange and Mysterious Stuff in the Bible, p.170.
When Jesus left, it wasn’t Peter—the leading disciple—who got the job of pastoring the first church, in Jerusalem. That job went to James, one of Jesus’ brothers. It was customary for kingship to past along family lines. First-century Jewish history, Josephus, said Jewish leaders executed James. They pushed him off a high spot of the temple and finished him off with stones. Strange and Mysterious Stuff in the Bible, p. 152.
Rachel made an odd trade with her sister, Leah—they were both married to Jacob. Rachel was having trouble getting pregnant, so she traded Leah for some “mandrakes” (Genesis 30:15), a root that the ancients said was a baby-maker. What Leah got: (1) an extra night with Jacob (2) pregnant. Strange and Mysterious Stuff in the Bible, p. 142.