The Question

Someone asked me why I’m writing the TL:DR Bible series. Part of it, I suppose, is to have fun with a certain point of view about the bible. A greater part of it is to answer a question that has been plaguing me for quite some time.

What do you do when you wake up one morning and you no longer believe what you used to believe?

It’s a difficult question. One that many people face. I won’t pretend to be unique.

I was raised a fundamentalist and a conservative and over the years, I’ve become more convinced that what I used to believe was wrong about God and politics. Politics is easier to change. Ideas about your religion are much, much harder to re-examine.

I never had an anti-road to Damascus. No bright lights. No voice from heaven or hell. There was just a constant slow trickle of doubt eroding the walls of fundamentalism. Why couldn’t God outlaw slavery? Why does a temporal crime deserve a punishment of torture, let alone eternal torture? Why would God demand a rape victim marry her rapist? How do you justify a genocide and ethnic cleansing? How can you take Genesis 1-3 literally in light of the observable evidence that fits the evolutionary model? If you locked up your children in a dark basement and tortured them every day for the rest of their lives for disobedience, wouldn’t that make you a monster? Why does God really need me to sing songs about Him? Can you really have a ‘relationship’ with someone who doesn’t talk back to you? What do you do with the evidence that the Exodus and the book of Joshua are almost certainly fictional?

And one day, the walls came tumbling down, to build on today’s reading.

So what do you do then?

Do you go through the motions? Keep showing up to church every week. Sing the nice songs. Listen to the sermon. Shake hands and walk away feeling nothing inside?

Do you toss it all out? Leave. Buy yourself a copy of the God Delusion and never come back?

Do you re-examine your faith? Trying to find something to hold on to because you don’t want to let it go or you’re too afraid to let it go, or maybe because you still believe there’s a God there and you want to find Him or Her on honest terms. No more lying to yourself. No more twisting yourself into knots to try and justify the awful things written in a book 1,900 – 3,000 years ago? Try to come to a more mature understanding of God and the bible and what that book represents. Realize that maybe some of the lessons one should take from those readings is that one should NOT be like the person in the story, the so-called ‘heroes’ of the faith.

So, I suppose that is why I’m writing.

Chapter 4:

When everyone had finished crossing the Jordan, God tells Joshua to have one man from each tribe take a stone out of the dried riverbed and build a memorial pillar in their campsite.

So everyone has crossed over, and I misspoke before, now the priests and the ark leave the middle of the river, and all the water comes rushing back.

And Joshua reminds them why they’re building the memorial pillar.


Chapter 5:

Joshua: Alright, Lord. We’re ready to attack Jericho now.

God: Nope. Cut off a part of your wieners.

Joshua: Like I was saying. The army is ready, we’re all in array, split into our companies and divisions and now we march on Jericho.

God: No, cut off a piece of your wiener with a stone knife.

Josh: We…uh… we can’t even use a bronze knife?

God: Nope, stone.

Josh: You know, that cow god idea we had 40 years ago is sounding better and better.

So they named the place Gilgal, which in the original Hebrew means, “So sweet mother of Jesus, this really, really hurts!”

So they camped there and ate some produce from the land and God stopped sending the manna.

And Joshua is up at night and walking around looking at Jericho and sees a man with a drawn sword.

“Hey, are you with us or against us?”

“Neither. I’m the leader of God’s army.”

Joshua hits the floor. “Okay, what did you want?”

“Take off your shoes. This is holy ground.”

“Okay, as long as you don’t call me ‘Shoeless’.”


Chapter 6:

God: Okay, here’s the battle plan. Have the army march around the city once for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times and then have the priests blow the trumpets, then the walls of Jericho will fall down and you can go slaughter everything inside and burn the place to the ground.

Josh: So we’re to put on our armor and march on the Sabbath day too? Because that seems like work and we killed a guy for gathering sticks on a Saturday.

God: Uh… crap… okay, okay, look it’s okay to put on armor and go march this one time.

So Joshua goes back to the people and explains the battle plan to them and adds the provision that no one is to speak while they are marching until the priests blow the trumpets on the seventh day, then everyone is to shout. Let it all out. Jericho’s a thing we can do without… come on…

So they put the plan into action, the walls of Jericho fall, and Joshua commands that they sacrifice the city to the Lord and burn everything except the precious metals which get to go to “the treasury of the Lord” because God really needs gold apparently. The important part to take away is that no one is to take any loot for themselves… well, that and they just sacrificed a crapload of people to the Lord.

“So they utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and unarmed woman, young children, infants, the elderly, and all the animals (of course) with the edge of the sword. “

That’s a bit more sanitized for my taste than I like. Let’s use our imagination.


You had heard of the approaching army. Rumors that their god had demanded sacrifices, that you and everyone in your city were to be offered to their god. The diplomatic envoys the government had sent had been turned away or killed. There was no negotiation, no chance for peace. The religious fanatics had decided that your city and you must die.

The rich or the lucky ones had already fled the city before the guards spotted the approaching army. The military had sealed the city to keep them out, but it ended whatever chance you had of escaping. Now your fate was tied to the city. You were trapped.

The army didn’t attack the first day, or the next, or the four after that. They simply marched around the city, letting the dread of your situation sink in. Despair ruled the streets. Some of your neighbors went mad and were killed by the city guards. The grim spectre of death hung over everything. You heard from someone that a mutual friend had killed his family and hung himself. The only hope was your walls. That somehow, the army outside would be unable to feed itself and would have to abandon the siege. But even this hope was to be taken from you.

The last day, the army marched around the city seven times and blew a trumpet. An earthquake struck and the walls shook and fell outward, opening the way for the religious zealots to the city.

You hid for most of the day, locked inside your house with your wife and small children. You hoped and prayed that the fanatics would overlook your home, that they would not see you and assume you had fled earlier.

You could feel your son shake in fear as the sounds of war from outside echoed into your bedroom through your windows. With each new scream, he shook harder. Each new cry was closer. You told him to close his eyes as you heard the feet of men marching down your street. They shouted in their language “God is great!” and you heard them kick open the door to your neighbor’s house. She screamed at them, “Please, for the love of God do not kill us!” Her cries came louder and more desperate as they advanced. Her baby started to cry. Then a sickening sound of a wet thwack as a sword met flesh and bone. Your neighbor shrieked, “No! My son! No!” Her cries of grief soon cut short as a sword met her skull.

Your son was crying now in your arms. “Shhhh…” you told him. “Close your eyes,” you said as the soldiers started to kick open your door.  “It’ll be okay,” you lied. You covered his eyes with one hand as the religious zealots spotted you. They smiled as they advanced. “God is great!” they screamed. You took your wife’s hand and closed your own eyes. You would not see your children or wife murdered. At least, you could spare yourself that misery.

You smelled smoke outside before everything ended.


Josh tells the spies to go save the folks in the brothel and then he curses the city, so that anyone who rebuilds it will have to sacrifice his eldest and youngest son. And the news of Jericho’s fall spread throughout the land.

Sorry. That got a bit dark. Hopefully, I’ll be able to go back to making jokes about Shittim next week.

The TL:DR Bible: Joshua 1-3

Chapter 1:

So after Moses is dead, God comes to Joshua and says, “Moses is dead.”

Moses: I’m not dead yet…

Joshua: He says he’s not dead…

God: Right… one second. There. Killed him myself. Double tap. Now get up. Go across Jordan, kill those Canaanites, and take their land, like I told Abraham you guys would. I’m going to be with you and no one will be able to stand against you your entire life, you know.. unless you guys really cheese me off again, and what are the odds of that happening?”

And Joshua said, “Wow, you’re talking to me! I thought you said Moses was the only prophet you talked to face to face.”

And God said, “Oh dear…” and winked out of existence… no, not really. I guess Joshua is technically not a prophet.

Then Joshua went and told the leaders to tell the people that the invasion was going to happen in three days. Then he reminds the Gadites, the Reubenites, and half of the Manassehites that they promised to send troops over to kill those Canaanites and they agreed.


Chapter 2:

So Joshua displaying great trust in the Lord, sends two spies into Canaan. He did, however, learn his lesson from Moses’ spycraft and sent the two men into the land without telling everyone. So the men came to Jericho and somehow, I don’t know how, but they somehow found themselves in a local brothel. It was a complete and total mystery how they ended up there, without clothes, and accidentally falling on a prostitute and carelessly leaving some of their coins behind on the nightstand. No idea how that happened.

But word comes to the king of Jericho. “Some Jewish men accidentally wandered into the brothel and lost their clothes, we should probably do something about that.”

So they sent some soldiers, but Rahab hides them and tells the troops that the Jews found their clothes and ran away.

Rahab tells her two customers that she knows that God is with them and Jericho will fall, so she tells them to promise her that they’ll spare her and her family. And the men said, “Hey, you saved our butts, so don’t tell anyone and we’ll make sure we don’t kill your family.”

So she lets them down with a red rope over the wall and they tell her to hang the rope out of her window and everyone in her house will live, but if they leave their house, they’re going to die. And she sends the spies back to Joshua and they said, “Let’s go kill every man, woman, and child, except for the girls in the brothel.” And this sounded like a good idea to everyone.


Chapter 3:

So they all set out from Shittim. Yes, Shittim. I can write that without feeling bad, because it’s in the bible. Shittim Shittim Shittim Shittim Shittim Shittim Shittim Shittim Shittim…

Okay, I’m done. Shittim.

Now I’m done.

They go the Jordan River and the leaders come out and say, “Let the priests lead the way, because you don’t know where you’re going because you haven’t been here before.” Presumably, the priests haven’t been here before either (unless they were sneaking out to hang out in Rahab’s house) but we’ll let it slide.

God tells Joshua to tell the priests carrying the ark to go stand in the Jordan river, and as soon as they set foot in it, the river stops flowing and everyone crosses over on dry ground until they’re all done crossing, then the river starts flowing again.

And the Gadites, Reubenites, and Manasseh looked back and said… “Wait, you’re going to do that again when the wars are over and we go back home over there, right?”

And all of the congregation had a good laugh….

The TL:DR Bible: Deuteronomy 29-34

Chapter 29:

Moses: Hey, remember how God really just killed all of the Egyptians? But you guys are still kind of jerks. And God kept all your clothes and sandals from wearing out for the last 40 years. And then when we reached here, we killed all those guys who lived here so your brothers could live here? That was cool. Keep doing the Law thing so you can have good times forever.

So serve God and don’t serve any idols. And if anyone does, then God is going to curse that person.

Now later on, your descendants are going to screw it all up and the land will be desolate and everyone will wonder what happened and then the survivors will say, “Because we worshipped other gods.” And they’ll say, “Why didn’t that pillar of fire come back and say, “HEY! KNOCK IT OFF, GUYS. I’M RIGHT HERE! ONLY GOD… RIGHT HERE. PILLAR OF FIRE…” and then we’ll say, “Uh…. Because faith?”


Chapter 30:

Now, after you guys screw it all up and are mostly killed and your land is destroyed, then God will bring you back and shower blessings on you and it’ll be smooth sailing for the Jews…

God: Uh… Moses?

Moses: One second, Lord, I was just explaining how great you are in that after you finish killing most of us and destroying our cities, you’re going to bring us back and bless us and everything will be great for the Jews…

God: Yeah, about that… well… come here for second…


Moses: Romans? Okay, okay, that sounds pretty bad…

(more whispering)

Moses: What do you mean your new chosen people are going to blame us for killing you and spend 2,000 years hating and persecuting us?


Moses: Well, can’t you just come down and explain to them how that’s wrong and stupid and evil?


Moses: HITLER? SIX MILLION? And you don’t stop that?


Moses: Okay, okay… I’ve got the picture… Okay, guys, sorry about that… so, yeah… everything’s great… just keep worshipping Yahweh and uh… everything’s great…. Yeah…


Chapter 31:

Moses: Okay, I’m 120 today, and God’s going to kill me for hitting a rock. It’s okay, it’s okay… see God kill enough people for really trivial reasons and you figure you’re going to die one day for some really stupid reason too. Good news for everyone who had me in your dead pool.

But, it’s cool. God’s going to go into Canaan with you and you’re going to kill them all and take their stuff, because God is on your side, unless you cross him or one of you sins and then God will judge the whole congregation.

Joshua, you’re in command now. Priests, read my farewell speech once every seven years.

God: You know they’re going to blow it, right? And I’m totally going to have to kill most of them. Why don’t you write a song?

Moses: Yeah, you guys all suck. Joshua, you’re in charge…

Joshua: You said that already.

Moses: Joshua, you’re in charge now…


Chapter 32:

Moses’ sings a song. It’s a classic song of God meets nation. Nation wants to see other gods. God beats the crap out of nation until they realize how good they had it with Him.

Moses sings it in front of the people and they take out a restraining order against God, so He must not come closer than 500 yards to them.

God: Okay, Moses, it’s time. Hike up that mountain and I’ll kill you.

Moses: Okay….. God…. I’m…. moving….

(500 years later)

God: Okay, Moses, I get it. You found the loophole, but I’m pretty busy here, can you get a move on?

Moses: Al….most…. there….

God: Okay, enough, Gabriel? Fire up the teleporter.

Moses: You have a teleporter?


Chapter 33:

Moses blesses the tribes of Israel

“Reubenites? I hope you live and have kids…

Judah, I hope God helps you out with the whole killing your enemies thing…

Levi? You were religious zealots, so you get to work in tents burning incense instead of the fields, and I hope God kills all of your enemies for you…

Benjamin? I hope you live in peace (you won’t, but I hope you do)…

Joseph? I hope God gives you everything you want even though your progenitor was kind of a dick…

Zebulun and Issachar? Be happy. You get to be mountain folk and fishermen…

Gad? Uh…something about a lion and enlarging and tearing off arms… I don’t know…

Dan? You’re a lion cub… Hakuna mattata…

Naphtali? God’s blessed you. Go live on the beaches.

Asher? You get iron and bronze locks and put your feet in oil…

I’m old…


Chapter 34:

God: Hey, Moses, you’re finally here… see all this land? It’s a great land, isn’t it? But you can’t go. Because you hit a rock with a stick. Okay, dead now.

Moses: Urk! (collapses)

God: Oh… I guess I should have brought in some pall bearers or a grave digger. I wasn’t expecting to have to do this myself… oh, I know… I’ll have Michael do it. MIKE!!!!!

Everyone mourned for Moses for 30 days and Josh took command.

And there has never been a prophet like Moses since then because we learned about the scientific method and built the Internet…. No, no, I mean, there’s never been a prophet like Moses since then because Moses got to talk to God face to face. Although, I’d like to point out that if God really wanted us to know He existed and wanted us to keep all of these arcane and sometimes really awful laws, He could have kept hanging around having conversations with us.

But here we are, at the end of the Pentateuch. Moses is dead and buried, Josh is in charge and about to lead Israel into the land of Canaan because those women and children aren’t going to kill themselves.

The TL:DR Bible: Deuteronomy 24-28

 Chapter 24:

Divorce is for men to file, not women. If your husband finds an ‘indecency’ in you, you can write out a certificate of divorce and send you packing.

I’m going to go off a bit here. “Indecency” is a curious word. It could mean anything. And it was certainly taken to mean anything by a lot of people. So much so that the Pharisees asked Jesus what His opinion of this was. Jesus seemed to settle on the answer that indecency meant sexual immorality. But if your wife was committing adultery, the law on that was clear, she was to be put to death. Was this a case of offering a man a divorce if she thought his wife was cheating, but didn’t’ have proof or witnesses? Well, the law provides that magic spell for determining that question back in Numbers 5. So was this a case of the law offering an out to a husband who knew his wife was cheating on him, but didn’t want her killed? Or was it a case of Jesus saying, “You have heard that it was said, but I say to you?” Or was the writer of the gospel misinterpreting the law?

Don’t know. I’d be curious to hear other opinions.  End of tangent.

If the woman you divorced gets remarried, you can’t marry her again even if her new husband dies or divorces her. Apparently, we can add that to the ever expanding list of things God thinks is an abomination.

If you get married, you’re exempt from military service for a year.

If you kidnap a fellow Jew to beat or sell into slavery, it’s the death penalty

Watch out for leprosy. Heh, remember how God gave that disease to my sister?

If you loan someone money, don’t barge into his house to collect your collateral. Wait outside for him to bring it to you. If he’s poor, return it to him at night, because he needs it.

Pay your workers. Don’t cheat them.

You don’t kill fathers for the sins of their sons, or sons for the sins of their father… which is very funny considering how many examples there are in the OT about collective punishment from God on Israel.

Be just. Be just to the aliens, the immigrants, the powerless.

Leave some of your produce behind so poor people can have something to eat. That sounds  suspiciously like state mandated welfare… Hmm…


Chapter 25:

If you find a wicked man guilty, you can beat him up to 40 times with a cane or switch or whip, but not any more than that.

Let your ox eat when he’s doing the work of separating grain from the rest of the plant.

If your brother dies, was married, and he didn’t have a son, you have to marry your sister-in-law, have sex with her, and give her a son. Legally, your son becomes your brother’s son, and you become Uncle Daddy. But if you don’t really want to do it, you have to go to the local town council, declare that you don’t want to marry your sister-in-law, then she takes your shoe, spits in your face, and everyone calls you Shoeless, which was apparently a big insult back then.


Sports nerds are really laughing right now. 

If you’re fighting with another man, and your wife grabs his junk, cut off her hand. Because there wasn’t enough horrible stuff in Deuteronomy, I guess.

Don’t cheat in business. God hates that. (*cough*TRUMP*cough*)

Go ahead and genocide the Amalekites for God, because the omnipotent deity can’t do it for himself, I guess.


Chapter 26:

You have to give the best of your harvest to God, and then when your obligation to God is fulfilled, give it to the poor, the orphans, and the widows.

The tonal shift from genocide to being compassionate and generous almost gave me whiplash


Chapter 27:

Build a monument and an altar on Mt. Ebol. Write all of the words of the law on it. Then gather everyone together and call down curses upon those who don’t obey the law.


Chapter 28:

If you do everything God says, you’ll be blessed.* But if you don’t, then God will destroy you suspiciously in a manner that sounds exactly like what Nebuchadnezzar did to Jerusalem, but that’s probably just a coincidence.

*Offers of blessings for obedience does not apply if your name is Job… or anyone suffering a horrific disease, financial setback, of the loss of a parent, sibling, child, or close friend. Terms and conditions may apply, void in Maryland.

The TL:DR Bible: Deuteronomy 22-23

Chapter 22:

Don’t be a jerk. If you find something belonging to someone else, return it to them.

The God of the Universe is somehow very concerned about men wearing skirts and women wearing pants. These things are an abomination, so knock it off Scotland!


Pictured: An abomination to the Lord.

If you come across a bird’s nest, only eat the baby birds in their eggs. Don’t eat the mother too. That would be barbarous.

God’s building code demands you put up a small wall on your roof so people don’t fall off of it. Man, the oppressive hand of big government is just killing all the fun in life.

God is against growing more than one kind of crop in a vineyard. Really? I didn’t find anything about this in the HOA agreement when we genocided the family that lived here and took over their vineyard.

You can’t plow with an ox and a donkey together… Uh…

You can’t wear clothes made of mixed fabric…

And you have to sew tassels to the four corners of your garmet? You’re… you’re just screwing with us now, aren’t you?

Hey, if you marry a peach of a man, and he accuses you of pre-marital sex, then you and your dad have to bring out the bloody sheet and prove that you had an intact hymen and then your new husband has to pay your dad 100 shekels of silver and you have to stay married to that peach forever. Doesn’t that sound fun, ladies?

Oh, and if your hymen wasn’t intact or you didn’t have one or you did have premarital sex then the men of the city get to throw big heavy rocks at you until you die.

If you commit adultery, big heavy rocks for both parties.

If you’re a girl who is engaged to another man, and you get raped in a city, but no one comes to help you, you and your rapist get dragged to the city gates and stoned to death because you must have secretly wanted it because no one heard you cry out. Nevermind that you might have been unconscious, or your rapist had a knife to your throat or threatened to strangle you if you cried out, you must have wanted it.

But if you get raped in the country, you aren’t a dirty whore, and only your rapist has to die.

If you are a girl who is not engaged and you would probably be around the age of 13, and you get raped, then your rapist has to pay your father 50 shekels of silver and you have to marry your rapist and can never be divorced.

And remember everyone, don’t have sex with your mom… I can’t believe that had to be said… would have thought it to be self-evident…but okay.


Chapter 23:

  • If you’ve got a bad wiener or huevos, you can’t marry an Israelite or be a citizen of Israel.
  • Same if you’re a bastard in the classical sense, you and your kids to the 10th generation are held responsible for your parent’s actions.
  • Same if you’re an Ammonite or Moabite to the tenth generation, you’re supposed to really hate these guys.
  • Be kind to Edomites and Egyptians though.
  • If you have a wet dream, you’re banned from the group until sundown and a bath.
  • If you have to take a crap, for Pete’s sake, go outside the camp, poop, and bury your poop. Nobody wants to see that.
  • If you encounter a runaway slave, don’t turn him in. Help the poor bastard out.
  • Don’t have sex for money in the service of a different god.
  • Don’t charge interest to fellow Jews, charge it to foreigners.
  • Don’t vow recklessly.
  • If you’re hungry, you can eat from a neighbor’s vineyard, but you can’t take any with you.
  • If you’re hungry, you can eat grain from a neighbor’s field, but not harvest it.

But Lord, if we allow the poor to eat freely, they shall surely become takers and moochers and dependent upon it. Shouldn’t we rather let them starve a bit, so they can become motivated to go and get a job?

The TL:DR Bible: Deuteronomy 19-21

Chapter 19:

We’ve gone over this before. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve said that this far, I’d be retiring.

If you accidentally kill someone, the Israelites were t1 set up three cities initially where you could run and live in peace. Back in those days, justice was a bit more personal. A family member of the deceased would probably pursue to exact their vengeance. As long as you lived in the city, you were safe, after it was determined that you didn’t previous quarrel with the victim.

If you did quarrel with the victim and still accidentally killed him, well, you’re out of luck.

They were to create three more sanctuary cities if their territory expanded.

And if you premeditated to kill someone, going to the sanctuary city wouldn’t help you.

Don’t move your property line.

Don’t believe a single witness, you need two or three to convict someone of a crime. If you discover that the accuser is lying, then he gets the punishment that would have been meted out to the accused.


Chapter 20:

The Laws of War:

  • Don’t Panic.
  • Yes, they do outnumber us. Don’t Panic.
  • Yes, they do have a better cavalry and chariots. Don’t panic.
  • The priest shall go forth and tell the people not to panic, God is on their side… you know… unless one of them did something to anger Him.
  • The officers will ask if anyone needs a deferment:
    • If you just built a new house, you’re excused.
    • If you just planted a new vineyard, you’re excused.
    • If you are engaged to a woman, but haven’t married yet.
    • If you’re currently panicking, you’re excused.
  • When you approach a city to fight it, offer them terms of peace.
    • If they agree to the terms, then they are all your slaves forever.
    • If they don’t agree to being your slaves forever, then besiege the city, and when it falls, kill all of the men, but go ahead and take the women and the children to be slaves or ‘wives’ and steal all of their stuff.
    • This only applies to cities that are not in Canaan. All of those filthy bastards, you kill, including unarmed and defenseless women and children. Because for some reason, you might decide to worship their gods after your God just kicked their ass for you.
  • Don’t deliberately destroy fruit trees when you’re at war. You can eat from them. (Yes, apparently, the Israelites Moses was talking to where that stupid.)


Chapter 21:

If a murder victim is found in the open country, the people of the nearest village have to kill a heifer and swear that they did not kill the man or see who did. Then God will be happy. I mean, He’s God, so He could just as easily shine a light on the guilty party and say, “He did it”, but as long as an animal is killed, I guess He’s okay with not solving the case.

Hey, guys, notice all the ladies whose cities we destroyed and whose husbands and fathers we killed mercilessly? Well, if you’d like to rape them, take her into your house, shave her head and cut her nails. She has to strip out of her old clothes, but you have to wait a month to rape her, because you did just kill her husband or father and it’s the humane thing to do to let her cry for them for a month. And if you’re not happy with her after you rape her, you have to let her go, you can’t sell her as a slave or hurt or kill her.

If you have some wives and you don’t like one, but she gave you your firstborn son, you can’t disinherit him just because you don’t like his mom or you like the other wives better.

Hey, parents, does your son not listen to you or talk back? Yes, said the parent of every teenager ever. Well, don’t despair. Grab that kid, drag him out to the city gate and then chuck big heavy rocks at your son until he dies. That’ll learn him. And serve as a lesson to the rest of your kids. Do what we say, or mom and dad will literally kill you.

Oh, and don’t leave people hanging on a tree overnight. It’s bad form.