Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

In the Bible you'll find passages like -

Exodus 37 Bezalel made the ark of acacia wood—two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high.[a] 2 He overlaid it with pure gold, both inside and out, and made a gold molding around it. 3 He cast four gold rings for it and fastened them to its four feet, with two rings on one side and two rings on the other. 4 Then he made poles of acacia wood and overlaid them with gold. 5 And he inserted the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry it. 6 He made the atonement cover of pure gold—two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide. 7 Then he made two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. 8 He made one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; at the two ends he made them of one piece with the cover. 9 The cherubim had their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim faced each other, looking toward the cover.

And then some others like -

Genesis 46:8 These are the names of the sons of Israel (Jacob and his descendants) who went to Egypt: Reuben the firstborn of Jacob. 9 The sons of Reuben: Hanok, Pallu, Hezron and Karmi. 10 The sons of Simeon: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman. 11 The sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath and Merari. 12 The sons of Judah: Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez and Zerah (but Er and Onan had died in the land of Canaan). The sons of Perez: Hezron and Hamul. 13 The sons of Issachar: Tola, Puah,[a] Jashub[b] and Shimron. 14 The sons of Zebulun: Sered, Elon and Jahleel. 15 These were the sons Leah bore to Jacob in Paddan Aram,[c] besides his daughter Dinah. These sons and daughters of his were thirty-three in all. 16 The sons of Gad: Zephon,[d] Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi and Areli. 17 The sons of Asher: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi and Beriah. Their sister was Serah. The sons of Beriah: Heber and Malkiel. 18 These were the children born to Jacob by Zilpah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Leah —sixteen in all. 19 The sons of Jacob’s wife Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. 20 In Egypt, Manasseh and Ephraim were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On.[e] 21 The sons of Benjamin: Bela, Beker, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim and Ard. 22 These were the sons of Rachel who were born to Jacob—fourteen in all. 23 The son of Dan: Hushim. 24 The sons of Naphtali: Jahziel, Guni, Jezer and Shillem. 25 These were the sons born to Jacob by Bilhah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Rachel —seven in all.

Wait there's more -

Nehemiah 7:7 The list of the men of Israel: 8 the descendants of Parosh 2,172 9 of Shephatiah 372 10 of Arah 652 11 of Pahath-Moab (through the line of Jeshua and Joab) 2,818 12 of Elam 1,254 13 of Zattu 845 14 of Zakkai 760 15 of Binnui 648 16 of Bebai 628 17 of Azgad 2,322 18 of Adonikam 667 19 of Bigvai 2,067 20 of Adin 655 21 of Ater (through Hezekiah) 98 22 of Hashum 328 23 of Bezai 324 24 of Hariph 112 25 of Gibeon 95 26 the men of Bethlehem and Netophah 188 27 of Anathoth 128 28 of Beth Azmaveth 42 29 of Kiriath Jearim, Kephirah and Beeroth 743 30 of Ramah and Geba 621 31 of Mikmash 122 32 of Bethel and Ai 123 33 of the other Nebo 52 34 of the other Elam 1,254 35 of Harim 320 36 of Jericho 345 37 of Lod, Hadid and Ono 721 38 of Senaah 3,930

My question is why did God choose to include all this information in the Bible? How would the 760 men of Zakkai help anyone in this age or any past or future age, draw closer to God? Contrast this with how small the important narratives like the flood & Noah or the Crucifixion of Christ are.

This doesn't seem like God inspiring the Bible to communicate with men. This seems more like random writings of people about their society and culture put together in one book.

What is the reason for this?

share|improve this question
Because it mostly is a collection of writings of people about their society and culture put together in one book. –  kurosch Aug 24 '12 at 20:31
Most of these passages have significance in different sects of Christianity. While some pay them little or no heed, other sects find greater value or place greater emphasis on those passages according to their particular beliefs. For example, there are some sects which find genealogies or the manner and symbolism of constructions valuable. –  Matt Aug 24 '12 at 20:59
God did not write the Bible. Men do. It's just a collection of what God inspired. –  tunmise fashipe Aug 24 '12 at 21:18
@Matt That could be made into a good answer. Coz I don't much about any sects that hold these passages important. –  Monika Michael Aug 25 '12 at 3:49
I'm confused, the title seems to be about why things were omitted from the Bible, but the question seems to be the opposite: why was "extraneous" information included. Which do you mean to ask? (Or did I miss something?) –  Flimzy Aug 25 '12 at 5:22
show 4 more comments

4 Answers

Answer to Implied Question

I believe every passage you have cited comes from the Old Testament.

They would be there because:

  1. the NT wants the lineage, of both Joseph + Mary

  2. to the Jews it was important to understand which tribe of Israel they descended from. Thus, they kept detailed genealogical records. (I believe these were later destroyed by the roman general Titus)

  3. this is important to God. If one reads the book of revelation literrally, 12000 is taken from each tribe of the 12 tribes of Israel. In order to do this, we must maintain genealogical records

Answer to Actual Question

I would happily read a bible that had 1000 more pages, where 500 of those pages talked about how God created the universe (rather than the few short verses in Genesis), and 500 of those pages explained Revelation in more detail.

However, I'm not sure what that extra book knowledge would do me.

One could make the claim -- that supposed we had more details about the Flood, it would make the bible more real -- and more people would believe it.

However, pre-Flood days -- in Genesis 3:24

So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

so presumably, pre-flood, humans head towards the garden of Eden, and see a Cherubim -- having physical evidence of something super natural -- yet they continued to ignore God / sin.

Then, there were people in the times of Christ, ... who upon seeing Christ and his miracles, claimed Christ was from the devil.

Given all that, I'm not certain more detailed knowledge in the Bible would help "Christianity" more -- in that the unbelievers will continue in their unbelief; and as for the believers, 2 Corinthians 5:7 states:

(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

share|improve this answer
Excellent answer –  warren Aug 26 '12 at 7:42
That is a good answer, and it reminds me of the ending of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. After death, the rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to go talk to his brothers and to convince them. Abraham replies that they already have the words of Moses and the prophets, and if that doesn't convince them, then even something like raising Lazarus from the dead won't either. –  Steven Aug 27 '12 at 12:54
add comment

We can't always know the exact reason why there appears extraneous information in the Bible, especially the Old Testament, but there are often discernible reasons why it was important at the time.  To us it seems extraneous, but to them it was not.

Let's explain through the cases you listed.

First,  the details of the ark. 

Only the priests on rare occasion could see these holy objects and then only briefly. As they had great symbolic value in representing the future Messiah and as each detail should therefore be pondered on by those ancient worshippeers, to somehow catch a heavenly view, typed out into future prophecy, the details may have been quite important.  To us, maybe not so much.

Second, the sixty six son's of Israel that went down into Egypt

Here we go, yes, some people went into Egypt, became slaves and were eventually delivered by Moses, so what? However at the time a promise was made to Abraham that the Messiah would be born under his lineage, and that he would be made into a great nation.  Now all the ancestral lineage of this family to which the Messiah would be born is important to those who followed it, because eventually it must be proven that Christ descended from that line. Yet in this case there is even more interest to those who later were delivered from Moses.  Was it not worth pondering on the facts that even in servitude to a foreign power that almost tried to exterminate the Jews to control population, yet from these few names over a million were taken out of Egypt! So even under these difficult situations the details of these names would shown to those people at the time that God kept his promise to Abraham.

Third, Nehemiah's list of families that returned from the Babylonian exile

To us again these are just names. To Israel at the time this was a great miraculous work of God delivering his people similar to the Exodus under Moses.  That each family retuning to Jerusalem was precious tokens of the prophets who foretold a remnant would return, Nehemiah takes care to record.  Not only would this might spur on other to leave their lives behind in Babylon and join the 'city of God' but to ponder on God's concern for each family and his fulfillment of prophecy to them. Use have kindled Jewish hope after the sorrowful despair and attach on their faith in seeing something they never believed possible, the destruction of the temple of their God.

So we see, what is extraneous to us, was important to them, and yet it still teaches us useful things today. Not everything was written just for us but God preserved a people of faith since Adam, and they needed many support not to be swallowed whole by a world under the Devil's command, who desired nothing more than to destroy and stamp out any remaining fragments of true faith.  it is a miracle like carrying a candle across a stormy sea, that a people of God, and the lineage of Christ was sustained from the call of Abraham until the birth of a Son from a virgin. Each supporting beam that carried these people fully to the Promise is precious, beautiful, natural, yet divinely rich. Just like Christ, who was a like a tender plant, and a root out of a dry ground, or like Aaron's rod, which seemed like just a dry stick, but became a living branch, budded, and blossomed, so the dry scripture actually rose up into a living support of God's loved people and reach far into the future to safely support the arrival of Messiah.

share|improve this answer
See my response below. It's not only important to them, but there are other cultures in existence today, for whom these details are crucial to their faith. –  David Morton Aug 27 '12 at 15:12
add comment

Short answer: Just because it's not important to us doesn't mean it's not important to someone.

There's the phrase that you might hear from time to time: "One man's trash is another man's treasure". Though our culture finds those details irrelevant, not all cultures do. Since the Bible is written to all cultures, these details must exist in order to be effective in those places.

For example, some remaining tribal cultures, such as some of those in Papua New Guinea. For some tribal cultures, the genealogies are EXTREMELY important. In fact, for some of those cultures, the genealogies themselves are what validate the truthfulness of the Scripture.

Though we may tend to skip over these, as they're more or less culturally irrelevant to us, that doesn't mean that they're culturally irrelevant to all people. I'd encourage you to read the article below, which lends value to genealogies, and some of the other more "boring" parts of the Bible.


share|improve this answer
add comment

As David Morton says, just because you or I don't see the value of some information, doesn't mean that no one, anywhere in the world, at any time in history, might not have a use for it.

And what do you mean by "non-essential"? It is said that a trouble-maker once asked Rabbi Hillel if he could summarize the whole Torah while standing on one foot. Hillel obligingly stood on one foot and replied, "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary. Go and study the commentary."

You don't mention the "begats", which are commonly cited in questions such as yours. But they have proven valuable to people trying to establish a chronology of the Old Testament, to attach specific years to events.

The "Table of Nations" in Genesis 10, another long list of names, has proven valuable to people trying to connect Biblical history to secular history by tying people in the Bible to nations known from secular sources.

As to the descriptions of the furnishings of the tabernacle, perhaps we are supposed to see symbolic significance. Perhaps someday archaeologists will dig up these artifacts, and the descriptions will help to identify them. Etc.

Maybe Christians 100 years from now will find some information valuable that is of little use to us today.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.