Humanity is no stranger to disaster, whether it be natural, military, ecological or health related (our current times prove than unequivocally!). Sometimes, however, disasters can not only be sudden and devastating but a little strange too.
And there is no stranger source for these bizarre disasters than the ‘Good Book’ itself, more specifically The Old Testament. There is no shortage of stories where large numbers of people meet their end in incredibly unusual ways. We are not going to list the ’10 plagues of Egypt’ (that would be too easy), but 10 biblical disasters that are a bit more obscure.
1. The Earth Swallowing Men Whole
After the estimated 2.4 million Israelites left Egypt with Moses as their leader, he was soon faced with a rebellion from a group, led by a man named Korah, who questioned whether Moses really had been commanded by God. In order to prove his God-appointed status, Moses claimed that if the group dies of natural causes with no strange occurrences then they are indeed correct that Moses was not doing God’s work.
If however, he was doing God’s work then the ground will open up and ‘swallow them and all their belongings’. No sooner had Moses finished his sentence, the ground did indeed split open beneath Korah and all who stood with him and swallowed them and all their belongings whole before closing up again.
2. Death By Quail
This one is a reminder to always be kind to the people who are providing you with food. During the 40-year period following the Exodus, God provided Moses and his followers an edible substance known as ‘manna’. However, some of the group really wanted to speak to the manager!
They complained that in Egypt they had plenty of fish, cucumbers, melon, leeks, onions and garlic, yet all they had now was this manna stuff! Clearly displeased with these ingrates, God decides to send flocks of quail, more than they could possible eat. However, they give it their best shot and began gorging themselves and as they are doing so they were struck by a deadly plague.
3. Shamgar’s One Man Army
Our next story is crying out to have a Hollywood action movie made about it, but unfortunately, very few people have heard this incredible story. Although he is referred to as a leader or ruler of the Israelite’s, there is little to nothing known about Shamgar’s life or reign. One story that did survive is about how he dealt with the invading Philistines.
The story goes that Shamgar’s confronted the invaders with only an ox goad in his hand. A goad was a traditional farming implement, used to spur or guide livestock (usually oxen), kind of like a cattle prod. The blockbuster worthy feat he is known for was using that basic farming tool to slay 600 enemies!
4. Serpents of Fire
Back to Numbers again, and the Israelite’s tendency to complain to Moses about their dire situation and forget that God is just not tolerant of ungrateful people who clearly learned nothing from the story at number 2 on this list.
Again they were complaining about having to leave Egypt by saying “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” Not best pleased, God sent snakes made of fire to kill them, and many died. However, they were saved when Moses made a bronze snake and added it to a long pole. Anyone who looked at it, despite being bitten, survived.
5. Tumors In ‘Sensitive’ Places
1 Samuel 5:6-9
One of the top ten things in the Old Testament NOT to do is, of course, “Thou shalt not steal”. That is more evidently true when it comes to stealing God’s stuff. After defeating the Israelite’s in a battle between Eben-ezer and Aphek, the victorious Philistines decided it would be a good idea to steal the Ark of the covenant. Not smart!
All kinds of terrible things happened to the sticky fingered Philistines but the most bizarre one was God afflicting the Philistines with tumors or emerods (the ancient term for hemorrhoids) “on their secret parts”. I’m sure we don’t have to spell it out as you can guess where we mean but suffice to say, the Philistines soon gave the Ark back to the Israelite’s.
6. An Angel of Death
2 Kings 19:35
When the 13th king of Judah, Hezekiah, was having a bit of trouble with the neighbors, in this case, the Assyrians and their king Sennacherib, he asked God for a little help. The Assyrians had been doing a little too much conquering and killing for Hezekiah and how now set their eyes on his kingdom.
As Hezekiah was considered Godly king, God duly obliged and sen an ‘Angel of Death’ to the Assyrian camp. According to the story in just one night the angel killed 185,000 men.
7. Maybe Don’t Marry Midianites
You know when your parents don’t like that partner you brought home, well when it came to the Israelite’s and Midianites, God was none too pleased. The Israelite’s even went so far as to start taking part in pagan rituals, which you think would have annoyed God more.
However, it seems the line was really crossed when Zimri, the son of a Simeonite chief, got involved with a Midianite woman called Cozbi, married her and brought her back to the Israelite’s camp. When that happened, God struck the camp with a deadly plague that killed 24,000 people. The plague only stopped when an Israelite priest called Phinehas decided to ‘annul’ the marriage….. by spearing the couple to death.
8. Sodom and Gomorrah
We’re sure you are familiar with the city names Sodom and Gomorrah, but do you really know how bizarre the story is? The two cities were famed for their debauchery and general sinful behavior. So God sent two angels to the city where they are taken in by a man named Lot.
So here’s the weird part (the first one), the townspeople insist that Lot send out the angels so everyone can have sex with them? The twist? Lot, being ‘father of the year’ decides it would be better to send his own daughters out to be assaulted by the crowd and THAT was considered an act of kindness? No wonder God destroyed both cities with fire and brimstone.
It’s clear that God was not a big fan of the Egyptians, we have already dealt with a lot of plagues already on this list but this one could be easily considered a ‘super’ plague. God passes through Egypt, killing all of the firstborn children except those of the Israelite’s.
The Israelite’s got a pass because they marked their doors with a symbol marked in blood so God didn’t come knocking.
10. Don’t Make Fun Of Bald People
2 Kings 2:23-24
When the armies of Judah, Israel and Kingdom of Edom were at war with Mesha, the king of Moab, they found themselves starving in the desert. The prophet Elisha, being the stand up guy that he was, decided to go and help. He predicted they would win and come safely out of the desert, and they did.
So you would think everyone would love Elisha? Well, not a group of boys from Bethel who began making fun of him because he was bald. So enraged was Elisha, he complained to God, who in turn sent two female bears out of the forest to teach the boys a lesson. That lesson being mauling 42 of them to death.