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.
Surrogate mothers helped produce the 12 tribes of Israel. Jacob had children by both of his sister wives, Rachel (2 sons) and Leah (6). At their request, he also had sex with their two slave girls —all for the purpose of trying to give him as many sons as possible. “Jacob had…two sons by Rachel’s slave girl Bilhah…two sons by Leah’s slave girl Zilpah,” (Genesis 35:22, 25-26 NCV). Strange and Mysterious Stuff in the Bible, p. 149.
There is no Battle of Armageddon in the Bible. “Demonic spirits gathered all the rulers and their armies to a place with the Hebrew name Armageddon” (Revelation 16:16 NLT). End of story. There’s no report of a battle getting fought. Some students link it to visions of other battles reported in the Book of Revelation. But the writer never linked them, scholars say. Strange and Mysterious Stuff in the Bible, p. 34.
Walking, it normally took about two weeks to make the trip from Egypt to what is now Israel. It took Moses and the Israelites 40 years. They bypassed the coastal route to avoid Egyptian outposts. Then God sentenced them to 40 years in the Badlands for refusing to go into the Promised Land after scouts warned them about giants and walled cities ahead (Deuteronomy 1). Strange and Mysterious Stuff in the Bible, p. 18.
Jacob, father of the 12 sons who produced the 12 tribes of Israel, got the Hebrew name Ya ‘aqov, which sounds like the Hebrew word for heel: ‘aqev (Genesis 25:26). It’s because he was born second, and came out holding onto the heel of his brother Esau. It’s perhaps just a coincidence that, at least as a young man, he grew up to become a heel who cheated his brother and his father. Strange and Mysterious Stuff in the Bible, p. 31.
Solomon traded land for gold and cedars he bought from the King Hiram of Tyre in what is now Lebanon. When Hiram saw the land, he renamed it: Cabul (1 Kings 9:13 NLT). First-century Jewish writer Josephus said it meant “unfruitful” in Hiram’s language of Phoenician. It works in Hebrew, too. It sounds like the word for “worthless.” Strange and Mysterious Stuff in the Bible, p. 20.
Invaders surrounded the Jewish city of Samaria for so long that the people inside the city ran out of food. Two women agreed to kill and eat their sons. They ate one son one day, but the mother of the other son hide her boy. The next day the enemy army gave up (see 2 Kings 6). Name that second boy Mazel Tov, Hebrew for good luck, as in Lucky. Strange and Mysterious Stuff in the Bible, p. 33.
A hill-country accent cost 42,000 Jews their lives. A Jewish commander name Jephthah had a grudge against the tribe of Ephraim for not helping him during a battle. He knew they couldn’t pronounce the “h” sound. He arrested their people at a border crossing. If they pronounced Shibboleth as Sibboleth, he killed them (Judges 12:6 NLT). Strange and Mysterious Stuff in the Bible, p. 17.