Some people take the Bible literally: they believe Adam and Eve existed, Noah made the ark, and Jesus rose from the grave. But even biblical literalists find a certain amount of relativity in the rules of the Old Testament.
There may be some things in the Bible that seem pretty extreme and impractical from a modern perspective, but many Christians argue that several of these rules no longer apply following the New Testament and the New Covenant.
Regardless of your belief system, it's fascinating to look back on holy laws and rules from thousands of years ago, whether it's to enrich your own faith or better understand the early stages of a major world religion.
When Fighting Another Man, Chop Off His Wife's Hand If She Grabs Your Genitals
Deuteronomy 25:11-12 states, "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, thine eye shall not pity her."
What it means: The "secrets" here are genitals, but "cut off her hand" is literal. This sentence, on the whole, was later interpreted as metaphorical (i.e., "a fine of the value of the hand").2,024278Is this surprising?
Don't Sit Where A Menstruating Woman Has Sat
In the book of Leviticus, it says, "And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even. And every thing that she lieth upon in her separation shall be unclean: every thing also that she sitteth upon shall be unclean. And whosoever toucheth her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even." (15:19-21)
What it means: This literally means that people shouldn't sit in the same spot a woman sat when she was on her period, because a woman on her period was thought to be unclean.1,624286Is this surprising?
Don't Wear Clothes Made of Both Linen And Wool
Leviticus 19:19 provides rules about clothing, ones unfamiliar to modern readers. It states, "Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee."
What it means: There is some disagreement on this one. It could be because “wool and linen were appointed for the priests alone.” Another thought is that mixing wool and linen "brings on malignant fevers and exhausts the strength."1,221200Is this surprising?
Women Suspected of Adultery Have To Drink Dirty Water
Biblical rules about women, adultery, and water are debated, but the book of Numbers says, "If a man's wife goes astry, and is unfaithful to him so that another man has sexual relations with her, and this is hidden from her husband... the priest shall take holy water in a clay jar; and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water ... then the priest...shall say to her... May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.” (5:11-31)
What it means: Some people think the dirty water was supposed to cause an abortion; others think it would pressure the woman into a confession. Regardless, there's no denying the idea was for the alleged adulteress to drink a mix of holy water and tabernacle floor dust.1,404260Is this surprising?