Biblical Price Index

In my last post, I asked whether or not Abraham was cheated out of his land deal by Ephron the Hittite. 400 shekels of silver mean nothing to us, but the early readers of the bible toiled in their labors for a few shekels and would have known immediately what one was worth. To answer this question, we need some basis for comparison, a pricing guide in shekels. I’ve scoured the bible for every listed price and put a few of them together for this chart:

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The Bible and the Buffett Rule

As research for possible future posts, I’ve been examining money matters in the bible: how money is used, what it’s worth, taxation, and tithing. The bible says a surprising amount about money and I’m enjoying the nuances between some of the Old and New Testament ideas. If you’re crazy like I am, it’s fantastic reading.

As we enter an election season in the US, tax reform is a topic that keeps coming up. One of the reforms proposed is the so-called “Buffett Rule“. Named for billionaire Warren Buffett, it centers on the idea that the wealthy shouldn’t pay less in taxes (as a percentage) than those in the lower classes. It’s an important idea and one that has many ramifications, but if you want to learn about them I recommend finding a good economics blog.

The question that I had never thought to ask was, “Does the bible support unequal taxation of the rich and poor?” Until today.

Read on for the answer.

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Abraham’s Real Estate – The Cave of the Patriarchs

By the time we reach adulthood, just about everyone knows what it feels like to lose a loved one. But many of us, myself included, have experienced the act of putting someone to rest only as a bystander. I’ve never had to arrange a burial myself, or select a casket, or any of the myriad of other unhappy details that must be dealt with at death. To do all that while still grieving yourself, to someone as intimate to you as your husband or wife, it’s just unimaginable to me. Abraham did that and more in Genesis 23.

This is the story of the second holiest place in Judaism, the Cave of the Patriarchs.

Read on for more. Continue reading Abraham’s Real Estate – The Cave of the Patriarchs

Who Is the Audience for Genesis? (And Blog-Related Notes)

I’ll state the obvious: the blog is back on a regular posting schedule! My hiatus was unintended, but as I also work, teach, and take classes sometimes I get a little overwhelmed. And, when that happens, my independent study (and from there, my blogging) suffers. Thank you for sticking around.

My goal is two posts per week until September, but I am also back at work on my poster-sized genealogy of all named (and some unnamed) figures in the Torah. I haven’t decided the best way to present that yet. The material is, except for the shock and awe value, pretty boring. Of the hundreds of figures named in the Torah, only a handful have stories associated with them. What I am most drawn to is the creative process of assembling it and dealing with the ambiguities and, well, errors that are in there.

In lieu of an actual post, please take a listen to “Who Is The Audience for Genesis“, a post in Dr. Tim Bulkeley’s Five Minute Bible podcast, which I’ve linked to before.



Can Bible Stories Be Spiritually True, But Factually False? (Ishmael and Isaac’s Ages)

The Bible overall, but especially Genesis, is a collection of stories. These stories were stitched together (either by man or God, it doesn’t matter) to make theological or historical points. I’ve made a big deal out of ages and timelines in the last couple of posts because I love facts. I love nuggets of information that I can hold on to and draw context with. Genealogical tables, lists of place names, and timelines all fascinate me in the bible and I’ve done posts about all three.

The truth is though, that sometimes it seems like the author didn’t care about all of that. Some stories appear to be spiritually true more than they are historically true, or even true relative to other stories. This happens in the Proverbs (some of which directly contradict each other), this happens in Numbers (the inflated population figures), and it happens in Genesis. The ages of Isaac and Ishmael is one of those “truths”.

What do I mean? Well, I guess you’ll have to keep reading…

Continue reading Can Bible Stories Be Spiritually True, But Factually False? (Ishmael and Isaac’s Ages)