13 October 2016

"It's just words, folks": Donald Trump's and the Bible's

In the second presidential debate, Donald Trump denied that he sexually assaulted women, as he bragged about habitually doing in the Access Hollywood Bus tape. They were "just words, folks."

Trump's defense reminds me of how believers defend the Bible's words. They admit that it's filled with crude, violent, misogynistic stories, statements, and commands - but it's all "just words" to them. The Bible, like Donald Trump, never says what it means or means what it says.

To illustrate this I thought I'd compare the Donald's "locker room banter" to the Bible's. Here goes.

Foul Language

Donald Trump


Behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against the wall. 1 Kings 14:10

Hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you? 2 Kings 18:27

Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces. Malachi 2:3

Big Penises

Donald Trump


For she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses. Ezekiel 23:20

My little finger shall be thicker than my father's loins. 2 Chronicles 10:3-11 [Rehoboam, bragging that his penis is bigger than his father's (Solomon's) was.]

Sexual Assault

Donald Trump


Behold now, I [the "just and righteous" Lot (2 Peter 2:7-8)] have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes. Genesis 19:8

When thou goest forth to war ... And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her ... Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house ... and ... thou shalt go in unto her. Deuteronomy 21:10-13


Donald Trump


David arose ... and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful. ... David ... took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness. 2 Samuel 11:2-4

Dating your daughter

Donald Trump


Lot [the "just and righteous" Lot (2 Peter 2:7-8)] went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him ... and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters. And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us. Let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father ... I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him ... And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him ... Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father. Leviticus 19:30-36


Donald Trump


If a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days. Leviticus 15:19

Thou shalt cast them away as a menstruous cloth. Isaiah 30:22

Jerusalem is as a menstruous woman. Lamentations 1:17

But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right, and hath not ... come near to a menstruous woman.... Ezekiel 18:5-6


Donald Trump

The Bible

Thou shalt consume all the people which the LORD thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them. Deuteronomy 7:16

And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it: And when the LORD thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword: But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the LORD thy God hath given thee. Deuteronomy 20:12-14

But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them ... as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee. Deuteronomy 20:16-17

Cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood. Jeremiah 48:10

Thus saith the LORD my God; Feed the flock of the slaughter. Zechariah 11:4

War Crimes

Donald Trump


Thus saith the LORD of hosts ... slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. 1 Samuel 15:2-3


Donald Trump


The hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts. 1 Samuel 5:9

And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors. Matthew 18:34

And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. Revelation 9:5-6

The Disabled

Donald Trump


Whosoever ... hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God. For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous, Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded, Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken; No man that hath a blemish ... shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the LORD ... because he hath a blemish. Leviticus 21:17-23

And David said on that day, Whosoever ... smiteth ... the blind that are hated of David's soul, he shall be chief and captain. Wherefore they said, The blind and the lame shall not come into the house. 2 Samuel 5:8

Religious Intolerance

Donald Trump

The Bible

They [people who believe in other gods] shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee. Exodus 23:33

If thou shalt hear ... men ... saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known ... thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword. Deuteronomy 13:12-15

16 June 2016

Which religion is more anti-gay, Christianity or Islam?

Yesterday's post was a bit misleading.

Yes, it's true that the Bible is more anti-gay that the Quran, since the Bible commands believers to kill homosexuals while the Quran does not. And yet a majority of U.S. Christians believe homosexuality is morally acceptable, and very few believe that homosexuals should be punished with death. The same cannot be said about modern Muslims.

So if the Bible is more anti-gay than the Quran, why are Muslims more anti-gay than Christians? The answer to that question is simple. His name is Muhammad (PB&J be upon him).

Muslims believe that Muhammad was the perfect and final messenger of God and that his words, thoughts, and actions (as recorded in the sunnah) should be obeyed, followed, and imitated by everyone. Although there is some disagreement among Muslims about which stories (hadith) about Muhammad are authentic, all describe a Muhammad who was vehemently and violently anti-gay.

Here are some examples from the hadith.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: If you find anyone doing as Lot's people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done. - Abu Dawud 38:4447

If a man who is not married is seized committing sodomy, he will be stoned to death. - Abu Dawud 38:4448

The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) cursed the man who dressed like a woman and the woman who dressed like a man. - Abu Dawud 32:4087

And then there's this from Islam Question and Answer:
The Sahaabah were unanimously agreed on the execution of homosexuals, but they differed as to how they were to be executed. Some of them were of the view that they should be burned with fire, which was the view of ‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him) and also of Abu Bakr (may Allaah be pleased with him), as we shall see below. And some of them thought that they should be thrown down from a high place then have stones thrown at them. This was the view of Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him).
You just can't get more anti-gay that that!

And yet there is hope for reform in Islam. Christians and Jews learned long ago to ignore the cruel command in Leviticus 20:13. Muslims could do the same with similar statements in the hadith. But until the vast majority of Muslims do that, Islam will be more anti-gay than Christianity.

15 June 2016

Which is more anti-gay, the Bible or the Quran?

The Bible and the Quran agree on many things. So you might expect them to agree about homosexuality as well. And they do. Both condemn it. But which is more anti-gay?

There are only eight passages in the Quran that deal with homosexuality, and they all refer to the same story: the story of Sodom, in which the men of the city desired to have sex with Lot's male visitors, whereupon Lot (Allah's "righteous slave") offered them his daughters instead.

  1. And Lot! (Remember) when he said unto his folk: Will ye commit abomination such as no creature ever did before you? Lo! ye come with lust unto men instead of women. Nay, but ye are wanton folk. 7:80-81

  2. And when Our messengers came unto Lot, he was distressed and knew not how to protect them. He said: This is a distressful day. And his people came unto him, running towards him - and before then they used to commit abominations - He said: O my people! Here are my daughters! They are purer for you. Beware of Allah, and degrade me not in (the person of) my guests. Is there not among you any upright man? 11:77-78

  3. And when the messengers came unto the family of Lot ... He said: Lo! they are my guests. Affront me not! ... He said: Here are my daughters, if ye must be doing (so). 15:61-71

  4. We rescued him and Lot (and brought them) to the land which We have blessed for (all) peoples. ... Lot we gave judgment and knowledge, and We delivered him from the community that did abominations. Lo! they were folk of evil, lewd. And We brought him in unto Our mercy. Lo! he was of the righteous. 21:71-75

  5. What! Of all creatures do ye come unto the males, And leave the wives your Lord created for you? Nay, but ye are froward folk. 26:165-166

  6. And Lot! when he said unto his folk: Will ye commit abomination knowingly? Must ye needs lust after men instead of women? Nay, but ye are folk who act senselessly. 27:54-55

  7. Lot ... is among the righteous ... (Remember) when he said unto his folk: Lo! ye commit lewdness such as no creature did before you. For come ye not in unto males. 29:26-29

  8. Noah and ... Lot, who were ... two of Our righteous slaves. 66:10

The Bible, of course, includes the same story about Sodom, and it agrees with the Quran about Lot: he was a just and righteous man. (Even though later in the same chapter of Genesis, Lot gets drunk and impregnates his two virgin daughters.)

But the Bible is less clear about the nature of Sodom's sin. Was it homosexuality, inhospitality, pride, wealth, laziness, or ignoring the needs of the poor? The Bible doesn't say.

There are only five passages in the Bible that deal clearly and specifically with homosexuality. Here they are in Biblical order:

  1. Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Leviticus 18:22

  2. If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. Leviticus 20:13

  3. The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; that they are without excuse. Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools ... Wherefore … God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another. God gave them over to a reprobate mind … Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful … they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. Romans 1:20-32

  4. The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God …. neither fornicators ... nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind … shall inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

  5. Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine. 1 Timothy 1:9-10

So the Bible agrees with the Quran that homosexuality is an abomination. But it goes much further than that. The Old Testament commands believers to kill homosexuals (at least sexually active gay men) and the New Testament says that all homosexuals are all "worthy of death."

Maybe that's why some Christian terrorists celebrated the Orlando gay nightclub massacre.

08 June 2016

The National Catholic Reporter: Providing convoluted explanations for inexcusable bible passages

In a recent blog post at the National Catholic Reporter, Thomas L. McDonald claims that the Skeptic's Annotated Bible and other internet scoffers "pile ignorant derision" on "the difficult parts of the Bible." He then provides the correct explanations for "five hard Bible passages."

Amputation for Touching a Man’s Genitals (Deuteronomy 25:11-12)

When men strive together one with another, and the wife of the one draweth near for to deliver her husband out of the hand of him that smiteth him, and putteth forth her hand, and taketh him by the secrets: 25:12 Then thou shalt cut off her hand, thine eye shall not pity her. Deuteronomy 25:11-12
This passage seems simple enough: If two men fight and the wife of one grabs the "secrets" of the other, then you must cut off her hand without showing her the slightest pity.

But according to Mr. McDonald it's more complicated that that. It may mean that the woman should be fined whatever her hand is worth; or that her hand should be cut off while she is trying to touch the other man's genitals (not after); or that we should do whatever it takes to stop an attacker (including cut off a hand); or that just one or two fingers should be cut off; or that we should cut off the woman's palm, foot, or hip socket (rather than her hand); or maybe the woman should be cut off from her husband.

What is clear to Mr. McDonald, though, is this: "Certainly, the act of grabbing a man’s genitals in the midst of a fight is immodest." It's just that the Bible got a bit carried away with the punishment.

What Jesus Knows (Mark 13:32)

But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Mark 13:32
This one is simple as well. Jesus was God, so he knew everything. But he was also a man who didn't know everything. So whenever he didn't know something, he was a man; and whenever he knew everything, he was God. Since he was always both man and God, he always knew and didn't know everything at the same time and always knew what he didn't know. Or something like that.

Lot Offers His Daughters For Rape (Genesis 19:8)

Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof. Genesis 19:8
Mr. McDonald sums this one up this way: "We don’t have to believe that Lot is in the right to understand the point of the story."

But he's wrong about that, if you believe the Bible anyway.

[God] delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds.) 2 Peter 2:7-8
Lot was a just and righteous man; the only one in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that was righteous enough for God to save.

That is "the point of the story" (if this nasty story has a point).

Children Eaten By Bears (2 Kings 2:23-24)

As he [Elisha] was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them. 2 Kings 2:25-26

Here are Mr. McDonald's simple explanations (select whichever one works for you): The story was made up to encourage children to respect their elders; the story is true, but the "little children" were young men who tried to stone Elisha (not just make fun of his bald head); 42 is a "symbolic number" that means "a lot."; God sent the bears to kill the 42 children as payment for the sacrifice of Balak; the children weren't making fun of Elisha's bald head, but his shaved head.

Genocide (various)

But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them ... as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee. Deuteronomy 20:16-17

And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword. Joshua 6:21

Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. 1 Samuel 15:3

Mr. McDonald explains this one this way: "Jesus speaks with the same voice as Yahweh." It's just that Jesus flipped Yahweh's approach on its head. Yahweh commanded us to commit genocide; Jesus commands us to love everyone. They speak with the same voice; they just say completely different things.

The point of the exercise

"The point of this exercise is not to come up with convoluted explanations for inexcusable passages." It just happened to work out that way.

05 June 2016

It's Ramadan again! Time to sleep all day and party all night.

(At least it is here in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, where I observed the thin crescent of the new moon on 5 June 2016 at 7:35 pm.)

For those of you who don't know, it's Ramadan -- the month in which Muslims believe the Quran was revealed to Muhammad (pb&jbuh). 

Here's how it's put in the Quran:
The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the Criterion (of right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month.... 2:185
So Muslims fast every day during the month of Ramadan from dawn to dusk. It's one of the five pillars of Islam.

And what does fasting entail? Here's a list of things that invalidate the fast.
1- Intercourse
2- Masturbation
3- Eating and drinking
4- Anything that is regarded as coming under the same heading as eating and drinking
5- Letting blood by means of cupping and the like
6- Vomiting deliberately
7- Menstruation and nifaas
(For a more extensive see here, where such important questions as "Does burping break the fast?" are answered.)

Well, that's clear enough, I guess. No sexual intercourse, masturbating, eating, drinking, bleeding, vomiting, or menstruating. (That's right, ladies, menstruating. Because Allah, like the God of the Bible, is disgusted by menstruating women.)

You have to go without all that stuff all day long. What's a person to do?

There's really only one good answer to that: sleep. Sleep as much as you can as long as you can during the day. Fasting is much easier while you're asleep and sleeping all day doesn't invalidate the fast.

That works great if you're a man (unless you have to work, that is), but not so well if you're a woman. Because a woman must spend all day in the kitchen preparing the huge feast (iftar) that breaks each day's fast, as well as shop for the food, clean up after last night's party, and prepare the morning meal (suhoor) that begins the fast the following day.

(There's a huge a competition among Muslim women to produce the most elaborate and extravagant iftar feast. Much more food is produced each night than can possibly be consumed, with the excess thrown away the next day, since leftovers are discouraged. And this goes on for the entire month of Ramadan.)

But for Muslim men there's only one plan for Ramadan: Sleep all day, party all night.

(I'm not making this Ramadan plan up. It is followed by most Muslim males, in so far as work, school, and other activities permit.)

Here's a song that expresses the idea exactly.

21 May 2016

A Biblically Correct solution to the transgender bathroom issue

There is only one verse in the Bible that deals directly with the transgender bathroom issue: Deuteronomy 22:5.
The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.

God commands males to wear men's clothing and females to wear women's clothing. Anyone who does otherwise is an abomination to God.

Although the Bible doesn't specifically address the transgender bathroom issue, it seems to say that transgender people are an abomination to God.

So maybe the Biblically Correct solution is to have three separate bathrooms: one for males, one for females, and one for abominations.

25 January 2016

Maimonides was wrong (and dishonest): There aren't 613 commandments in the Torah

From the Introduction my latest book (which I hope will be published soon) called "Every Jot and Tittle."
Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law. Matthew 5:18
If Jesus really said these words, he wasn’t much of a prophet. Because nearly every jot and tittle of biblical law is ignored by his followers today, as it has been throughout the history of Christianity. Even the Jews stopped obeying most of the commandments after the temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.[1] And yet despite Jesus's prophecy, the earth is still here. (It's hard to say about heaven, though. Maybe it has passed away.)

But let’s pretend that Jesus was right about the Old Testament’s laws. What would that mean?

Well, here’s how he put it in the next verse:

Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:19
According to Jesus, then, Christians should teach and obey all of the Bible’s commandments. Whoever does that will be great in the kingdom of heaven; whoever does not will be least. (If they make it there at all.)

So say you decide to follow Jesus on this and become great in the kingdom of heaven. What would you do?

Well, the first thing you’d do is list all of the Bible’s laws. You can’t follow laws that you don’t know exist.

As far as I know, no Christian has ever done this. But the Jews have. The first to do so was Rabbi Simlai in the third century CE, who claimed there were 613 commandments in the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) -- 365 negative commandments[2], one for every day in the year; and 248 positive ones, one for every bone in the human body (there are actually 206, but oh well). The rabbi’s magic numbers made it into the Talmud[3] and have become (more or less) Jewish dogma since then.

Besides the nifty 365/248 split of the 613 commandments, there are other reasons why the number just had to be 613. The Talmud refers to the commandments as "Taryag Mitzvot." The Hebrew word "mitzvot" means commandments (singular: "mitzvah") and "Taryag" is a Hebrew acronym that is numerically equivalent to 613, since the Hebrew letter tav = 400, resh = 200, yud = 10, and gimel = 3, for a grand total of 613. And (as if that wasn't enough) the word "Torah" is numerically equivalent to 611,[4] which when added to the two special commandments that were supposedly given directly by God (without Moses's intervention)[5] gives 613. QED.

Previously I said that Rabbi Simlai was the first person to list the commandments. But that's not quite true. He didn't actually list the commandments; he just stated that there are 613 of them, 365 negative and 248 positive. How he determined these numbers without a list is unclear. It must have been a miracle or a revelation or something.

The commandments weren't listed until the eighth century, five hundred years after the Talmud fixed their number at 613. Simon Kayyara created the first list, which of course totaled 613, with the 365/248 split between positive and negative commandments -- with one rather embarrassing difference: Kayyara listed 365 positive and 248 negative commandments, the exact opposite of of the numbers proposed by Simlai and codified in the Talmud.[6]

In the next few centuries there were other lists, each with the canonical number of 613. But by far the most famous was that of Moses Maimonides in the 12th century. Maimonides claimed that all previous attempts were filled with errors and any future listing would be unnecessary, because his list is absolutely perfect in every way, as he explained in his introduction:[7]

When by using this work, the total comes out correct, clearly proven and without any doubts, the reader will be able to detect the errors of all who use a method other than this to count the Mitzvot. ... For I shall explain all of the Mitzvot and list them individually, bring proof in any case of doubt or where there is the possibility that someone without deep knowledge of Torah could err. I will eliminate his error and explain all his doubts. ... Not a single commentary who lists the Mitzvot has erred in this enumeration of the 613 and the division of 248+365. They were totally mistaken however in what goes into the list.
Other lists have been made in the last 850 or so years since Maimonides, with additions, deletions and rewordings, but always preserving the magical number 613 and the positive/negative subcounts of 245/365. But none of these could compete with Maimonides's list, which has since become standard throughout Judaism.

Maimonides's List

As Maimonides recognized, it isn’t easy to list the Bible’s commandments. There's a tremendous amount of repetition, with enough variation to make it hard to know if similar-sounding commandments are different enough to be listed separately. It’s also often difficult to decide if a commandment is specific to a particular person at a particular time, or whether it's general enough to apply to everyone. And how should verses that include several commandments be treated: as one compound commandment or as several simple ones?

One thing is obvious, though: no two independent and honest listers are likely include many of the same commandments on their lists -- and they certainly will not agree on the total number of commandments or on the number of positive and negative ones.

So how did it happen that every attempt in the last twelve hundred years always came up with the same number of commandments (613), with the same 248/365 positive/negative split (albeit sometimes reversed)?

There's only one possible answer to that question. They cheated.

The magic numbers were written in the the Talmud, so the required numbers were always achieved in the lists.

Maimonides's list is no exception, as is obvious to anyone who compares his list to the Torah itself. Here's how he (and the others) did it.

  • Omit (or combine) some commandments.

  • Repeat (or split) others.
By using these two simple rules, a list with the desired numbers can easily be obtained.

Some examples from Maimonides's list

Maimonides eliminated many of the commandments that seem especially cruel to us today, probably because they seemed cruel even then (ca. 1170 CE).

Here are some commandments that were not included on Maimonides's list

  • A slave owner shall not be punished for beating his slave if the slave lives for a day or two, for the slave is the slave owner's money.
    If a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and ... he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money. Exodus 21:20-21
  • If you sell your daughter, she shall not be freed after six years (as are male Hebrew slaves).
    And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do. Exodus 21:7
  • If a man has sex with another man, they have committed an abomination. Kill them both.
    If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. Leviticus 20:13
  • If the daughter of a priest plays the whore, burn her to death.
    And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire. Leviticus 21:9
(There are dozens of others that Maimonides somehow forgot to include on his list.)

And here are some commandments that Maimonides liked so much that he repeated them several times.

  • Leave the corners of your field and some of your grapes in your vineyard unharvested for poor people and strangers to eat.
    When ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger. Leviticus 19:9-10
    P120: To leave the corners for the poor
    N210: Not to reap all harvest without leaving a corner for the poor
    P121: To leave gleanings for the poor - Lev 19:9
    N211: Not to gather ears of corn that fell during harvesting
    P123: To leave defective grape clusters for the poor
    N212: Not to gather the whole produce of vineyard at vintage time
    P124: To leave grape gleanings for the poor
    N213: Not to gather single fallen grapes during the vintage

  • A Nazirite ("Nazarite" in the KJV) must not eat anything that comes from a grapevine.
    When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the Lord: He shall ... [not] eat moist grapes, or dried. All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk. Numbers 6:3-4
    N203: A Nazirite must not eat fresh grapes
    N204: A Nazirite must not eat raisins
    N205: A Nazirite must not eat grape seeds
    N206: A Nazirite must not eat grape skins

  • Don't eat your tithe (of corn, wine, oil, and firstlings) inside the gates of your city.
    Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flock, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill offerings, or heave offering of thine hand. Deuteronomy 12:17-18
    N141: Not to eat unredeemed 2nd tithe of corn outside Jerusalem
    N142: Not consuming unredeemed 2nd tithe of wine outside Jerusalem
    N143: Not consuming unredeemed 2nd tithe of oil outside Jerusalem
    N144: Not eating an unblemished firstling outside Jerusalem
    N145: Not eat sin ­offering and guilt ­offering outside Sanctuary court
    N146: Not to eat the meat of a burnt offering
    N147: Not eat lesser holy offerings before blood dashed on Altar
    N148: A Kohen may not eat first fruits outside Jerusalem

  • Every seventh year do not plant or harvest any crops.
    Six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof: But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard. Exodus 23:10-11

    Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the Lord: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard. That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land. Leviticus 25:3-5

    P134: Renouncing as ownerless produce of the Sabbatical year
    P135: Resting the land on the Sabbatical year
    N220: Not to cultivate the soil in the seventh year
    N221: Not to prune the trees in the seventh year
    N222: Not reap a self­grown plant in the 7th year as in ordinary year
    N223: Not gather self­grown fruit in the 7th year as in ordinary year
Using these two rules (omitting and repeating), it was easy for Maimonides and the other rabbis to achieve the magic numbers.

But that's not what bothers me most about their lists. It's their blatant dishonesty when stating the commandments.

Here, for example, are some of the commandments on Maimonides's list, with the corresponding verse from the Torah (and my snide parenthetical remark).

  • N319: Not striking parents - Ex. 21:15
    He that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death. Exodus 21:15
    (The commandment does not say "Don't strike your father or mother." It says, "Whoever strikes his father or mother shall be killed.")

  • P247: Saving the life of the pursued - Deut. 25:12
    N293: Not sparing the life of a pursuer - Dt 25:12
    When men strive together one with another, and the wife of the one draweth near for to deliver her husband out of the hand of him that smiteth him, and putteth forth her hand, and taketh him by the secrets: Then thou shalt cut off her hand. Deuteronomy 25:11-12
    (The commandment doesn't say to "save the life of the pursued" or to "not spare the life of a pursuer." It says "If two men fight and the wife of one grabs the 'secrets' of the other, then cut off her hand without pity.")

  • P221: Keep the laws of the captive woman — Deut. 21:11
    When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the Lord thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife; Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house, and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails; And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife. Deuteronomy 21:10-13
    [The commandment doesn't say to "keep the laws of the captive woman." It says "When God delivers your enemies into your hands, and you see a beautiful woman among the captives, take her home, have sex with her, and marry her (after letting her mourn her parents for a month)."]

  • N17: Not to love someone who seeks to mislead you to idols - Dt 13:9
    N18: Not to relax one's aversion to the misleader - Dt 13:9
    N19: Not to save the life of a misleader - Dt 13:9
    N20: Not to plead for the misleader - Dt 13:9
    N21: Not to oppress evidence unfavorable to the misleader - Dt 13:9
    If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth ... thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die. Deuteronomy 13:6-10
    (This commandment doesn't say "not to love, not to quit hating, not to save, or not defend an idolater," it says, "If your family or friends try to get you to worship another god, stone them to death.")
From all this, then, it should be obvious that Maimonides's list is not as perfect as he claimed it to be. He freely omitted or repeated commandments in order to obtain the desired numbers, and he misstated many commandments, as well. It is time to make a honest list.

Every Jot and Tittle

So this is my attempt to list all of the commandments -- not just in the Torah, but in the entire Bible. I must say, however, that unlike Maimonides, I don't claim that my list is perfect. In fact, I am sure it's not. Although I have tried to include every commandment, I probably have left some out. And I may have inadvertently repeated a few, as well. I can only say that I have tried to make a complete, honest, and accurate list of all of the commandments in the Bible -- which is something that I suspect has never been attempted before.

The commandments are presented in a series of eighteen chapters, most of which are, I hope, self-explanatory. But the last four may require a bit of explanation.

Chapter 15 presents all of Jesus's commandments that are recorded in the gospels and are not found in the Hebrew Scriptures. Many of these could have been placed in other chapters, but I've included them here since they should be of special importance to Christians. The next chapter, "Just for Christians," includes the commandments that are likely to make little sense to anyone outside of the Christian faith.

Chapter 17 includes all of the commandments that seem (to me anyway) to be rules that we all should try to follow. I've included the these good commandments in a separate chapter since there are relatively few of them.

The final chapter is called "Fortune Cookie Commandments" in honor of Antonin Scalia's famous footnote (#22) in his dissent to the Obergefell v. Hodges opinion, which reads:

The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.

Each chapter or section presents the commandments in biblical order. Whenever a commandment is listed by Maimonides, I've included his statement for that commandment, as well. To avoid repetition, cross-references are included at the end of each section for commandments that are listed in other chapters.

So how many commandments are in the Bible? My list has a total of 1587 commandments, 776 in the Torah. Of the Torah's commandments, 490 are positive and 286 negative.

I know of no significance for any of these numbers. But if you think of some, let me know. Maybe we can get them into the Talmud.

1. After the temple's destruction, the Jews had nowhere to perform their animal sacrifices; and without temple or sacrifice, the priesthood was discontinued. So all of the commandments about the temple, priests, and animal sacrifice are ignored in modern Judaism. The Sanhedrin (the Jewish high court) was also attached to the temple, so when the temple was was destroyed, the Sanhedrin could no longer enforce the Torah's laws (by, for example, stoning and burning people to death). The few remaining laws deal mostly with the Sabbath, religious festivals, and kosher foods. These are the ones that are still obeyed by Orthodox Jews; they include only a small fraction of the commandments in the Torah.

2. The "positive" commandments are the "Thou shalt ..." ones and the "negative" commandments are the "Thou shalt nots". The distinction, however, is a bit fuzzy, since many can be considered positive or negative depending on how they are phrased. For example, Exodus 22:18 could be expressed as either a positive commandment ("Kill witches") or as negative one ("Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live").

3. "Six hundred and thirteen commandments were revealed to Moses; 365 being prohibitions equal in number to the days of the year, and 248 being mandates corresponding in number to the bones of the human body." Talmud (Makkot 23a) - The 613 Commandments, Jewish Encyclopedia

4. tav = 400, resh = 200, vav = 6, and hei = 5.

5. The first two of the Jewish version of the Ten Commandments: "I am the LORD thy God" (Ex 20:2) and "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." (Ex 20:3)

6. Eisendberg, Ronald L., The 613 Mitzvot: A contemporary guide to the commandments of Judaism, pp. xix, xx.

7. Maimonides, Introduction to the Sefer HaMitzvos