20 Strange Rules From the Bible You Didn’t Even Know Existed

The Bible is one of the very foundations of Christianity and is something Christians look to for advice on how to live life. However, while the Bible contains many rules and guidelines, some appear strange and peculiar, especially if you read them through a more modern lens. From dietary restrictions to what people deemed were the best punishments for certain crimes, here are the 20 strangest rules you can only find in the Bible!

Women Accused of Adultery Must Consume “Dirty” or Poisoned Water

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Although adultery is never something to be considered acceptable, the question of adultery was a much bigger issue before than it is now. Numbers 5:27 reads, “If she has made herself impure and been unfaithful to her husband, this will be the result: when she is made to drink the water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering, it will enter her, her abdomen will swell, and her womb will miscarry, and she will become a curse.” This Bible verse puts into the spotlight adultery and whether abortion was something allowed in the olden days. However, many argue that the English translation of this verse does not authentically capture the meaning of the Hebrew text, and translators believe that there is a Hebrew idiom at play here that we do not fully understand.

In a Brawl With Another Man, Sever His Wife’s Hand if She Grips Your Genitals

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Deuteronomy 25:11-12 reads, “If two Israelite men get into a fight and the wife of one tries to rescue her husband by grabbing the testicles of the other man, you must cut off her hand; show her no pity.” Taken literally, then it’s pretty easy to misconstrue the meaning of this verse and think that God is instructing people to harm each other; however, the Bible is not a literal text, nor should it ever be taken literally by its readers. The Bible Says explains, “The severe punishment was meant to be a deterrent to criminal behavior. By the first century, Jewish tradition had made ‘cut off her hand’ into an allegorical phrase that represented monetary compensation for any damage done, as in, ‘Put money in the hand.’”

Kill Men or Cities With a Different Religion

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The Old Testament is laden with brutal messages and instructions to reconstruct God’s Kingdom, and one of the most specific ones was seen in Deuteronomy 13:12-15, which reads, “The Lord your God is giving you cities in which to live, and you might hear something about one of them: someone might say that evil people have moved in among you, and they might lead the people of that city away from God, saying, ‘Let’s go and worship other gods.’ These are gods you have not known, then you must ask about it, looking into the matter and checking carefully whether it is true; if it is proved that a hateful thing has happened among you, you must kill with a sword everyone who lives in that city—destroy the city completely and kill everyone in it, as well as the animals, with a sword.” Reading this as is, it’s so easy to fall into the belief that God is hateful and full of anger, but Deuteronomy 13 would only make sense if read with Deuteronomy 12; Deuteronomy 12:31 reads, “You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.” In a more modern context, it’s just like your friend saying he’s joining a cult, and to be a member, he has to sacrifice his kids; in this context, Deuteronomy 13 makes much more sense.

Anyone Who Curses Their Mother or Father Must Be Killed

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The Ten Commandments include rules about honoring one’s father and mother, but Leviticus 20:9 puts it one step further and says that anyone who curses their mother or father must be killed. Leviticus 20:9 reads, “If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death; he has cursed his father or mother—his blood shall be upon him.” However, those who study the Bible explain that some rules mentioned in the Bible specifically applied to the people of Israel during His time, but they do not apply today. A user from Reddit says, “They were literal commands to the ancient Israelites under the law of Moses; if you’re trying to make a comparison with today’s biblical standards, then you’re beating your head against the wall because we now live under God’s New Testament—a new covenant of grace in and through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.”

Steer Clear of Sitting in Spots Where a Menstruating Woman Has Been

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Chapter 15 of Leviticus seems to have focused solely on a menstruating woman and how she—and everything she touches—is unclean. Leviticus 15:19 even reads, “Whenever a woman has her menstrual period, she will be ceremonially unclean for seven days; anyone who touches her during that time will be unclean until evening.” It’s easy to mistake this verse as something that strives to exclude menstruating women from society, but in truth, it’s just a warning to avoid intercourse or have sexual restraint. Enduring Word explains, “Yet a principle behind this command is universal, for every Christian and even every person: God commands sexual restraint—the command forced the obedient Israelite man or woman to say ‘no’ to their sexual desires in certain situations.”

Pierce Your Slave’s Ear if They Refuse Freedom

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Another seemingly brutal verse in the Bible can be found in Exodus 21:5-6, which reads, “And if the slave shall plainly say, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him unto the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post, and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; he shall serve him forever.” In today’s world, ear piercings are normal, but in ancient times, an ear piercing served as a demarcation—a sign to distinguish that someone was enslaved. On the outside, it’s weird to think that someone who’s happily serving their master would still be punished; however, this Bible verse is God’s reminder to us all that we must always seek our greatest individual freedom.

Keep Your Temples and Beard Untrimmed

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It seems pretty restrictive nowadays not to be allowed to trim your hair or beard as you deem fit, but it was different in olden times. Leviticus 19:27 reads, “Do not trim off the hair on your temples or trim your beards.” Though the reason for this was not precisely mentioned in the Bible, historians say that the verse itself was said alongside other rules, such as the prohibition of tattoos; short hairstyles, trimming of beards, tattoos, and the like were all pagan practices in ancient times, and therefore, it’s highly likely that the Bible prohibits this exactly for this reason. Church of the Great God explains, “It was a ritual custom of the heathen to cut or trim their beards and hair into special shapes in honor of a particular pagan deity. To honor the sun god Ra, the ancient Egyptians had their dark locks cropped short or shaved with great care so the hair that remained on the crown appeared in the form of a circle surrounding the head—from which the halo derives—while the beard was dressed in a square form.”

Do Not Dress in Fabrics Containing Both Linen and Wool

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Deuteronomy 22:11 reads, “You shall not wear cloth of wool and linen mixed together,” while the end of Leviticus 19:19 reads, “Nor shall you put on a garment made of two different materials.” These verses may seem restrictive, especially in today’s modern world; however, these so-called laws were enacted by God for the good of His people. He instructed them not to mix these two specific materials because wool and linen combined increase the power of passing of electricity from the body—which we call static today. Additionally, wool and linen are believed to bring malignant fever and fatigue during hot climates.

Leave Fallen Grapes for the Poor to Gather and Eat

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Though some versions of the verse’s translations specify grapes, others say “harvest” in general. Leviticus 23:22 reads, “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the edges of your field, nor gather the gleaning of your harvest—you are to leave them for the poor and for the stranger; I am the Lord your God.” Bible Connection says, “Gleaning was a command by God for those with productive resources to leave something extra so that the poor, through their own labor, could provide for themselves. Although the practice is no longer required for Christians, it provides an example that can be applied to the stewardship of our own resources.”

People With Disabilities Are Not Permitted to Approach the Altar of God

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As many have come to realize, the Old Testament and the New Testament are drastically different: in the New Testament, Jesus calls to the young and the sick to come to Him, while in the Old Testament, God says that people who have physical disabilities or deformities cannot enter the church. This could be found in Leviticus 21:16-24, which reads, “He may eat the food of his God, of the most holy as well as of the holy, but he shall not come near the curtain or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuaries; for I am the Lord; I sanctify them. Thus Moses spoke to Aaron and to his sons and to all the people of Israel.”

Avoid Mixing Different Seeds When Planting in a Single Field

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A straightforward yet impactful Bible verse is Leviticus 19:19, which reads, “You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed.” For many, it may seem weird that God involves Himself in trivial things. However, historians and scholars believe that prohibitions, such as forbidding one from cutting one’s hair, are symbolic reminders. God instructed Jewish people to keep themselves separate or distinguished from other tribes, specifically those with pagan religions.

Only Kill a Burglar at Night

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A verse from Exodus goes, “If a thief is found tunneling and is beaten to death, there is no bloodguilt; but, if the sun has risen, there is bloodguilt and restitution must be made.” Many find it confusing that God allows people to kill burglars in the night but not in the day—it simply makes no sense to them. However, this verse explains that if a so-called burglary happens in the daylight, it must be assumed that the thief had no other intent aside from stealing. Therefore, since it happened in the day, a homeowner should have been able to prevent the burglary from occurring, thus avoiding any killing from happening.

Do Not Leave Uncovered Pits Around for Animals to Accidentally Fall Into

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Exodus 21:33-36 reads, “If a man leaves a pit open or digs a pit and does not cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls into it, the owner of the pit shall make restitution; he shall give money to the animal’s owner, but the dead animal shall be his.” This Bible verse is part of many others that focus on God’s laws and principles of punishment and restitution that deal with violence to people, animals, and property. On the outside, it may seem strange for God to dive deep into mundane, everyday things like this. However, through laws and regulations such as this one, He teaches His people about responsibility and accountability.

Do Not Boil a Baby Goat in the Milk of Its Mother

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Exodus 23:19 says, “You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk,” and while many think this law is strange, it’s even repeated twice—in Exodus 34:26 and Deuteronomy 14:21. Again, the Bible should never be taken literally; this law given by God was not simply given because He doesn’t want us to cook goats in their mothers’ milk; it’s because some Canaanite nations used to boil baby goats in their moms’ milk as part of a pagan ceremony. Holy Joys adds, “Some commentators point to evidence that ancient peoples sprinkled this milk around their crops in the superstitious belief that they would become more fertile. By way of application, Christians shouldn’t engage in religious syncretism, importing practices from other religions; we should avoid superstition and trust in God.”

Should a Man or Woman Engage in Sexual Relations With an Animal, Both the Person and the Animal Must Be Put to Death

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Having sexual relations between a human and an animal is another major issue tackled in ancient Jewish traditions, and this was concretized by Leviticus 18:23, which reads, “A man may not have sexual relations with an animal, in either an active or a passive capacity. To do so is a gross misuse of one’s reproductive capacity.” Should a man or woman still push through with such acts, they—as well as the animal—will be put to death, as evidenced in Leviticus 20:15-16. Like many others on this list, God laid down this law to protect His people from the temptation of pagan rituals and practices.

Make Certain No Stranger Accidentally Falls off Your Roof

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Deuteronomy 22:8, which reads, “When you build a new house, make a parapet around your roof so that you may not bring the guilt of bloodshed on your house if someone falls from the roof,” is one of the most practical rules laid down by Moses to the God’s people. During the time of ancient Israelites, flat roofs were usually popular, as they served as a place of rest or sleep during warmer seasons. However, flat roofs pose a great danger to people unless a protective barrier—parapet—is installed. If people did not do so, and if someone were to fall off the roof and die, then their blood—the responsibility and accountability—would be on the homeowner’s hands.

Do Not Rip Your Clothes

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In the Bible, torn clothes are viewed as a sign of mourning for an unpleasant situation one of your loved ones faces. For example, in 1 Kings 21:27, King Ahab ripped his clothes when he heard about the divine punishments Elijah gave him and his wife Jezebel. However, we are advised by God and His teachings not to do so. Joel 2:13 reads, “Don’t tear your clothing in your grief but tear your hearts instead. Return to the Lord your God, for He is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry, and filled with unfailing love; He is eager to relent and not punish.”

Abstain From Eating Fat and Blood

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Each religion has its own set of rules when it comes to food, like Islam, which forbids its followers to eat pork. Though Christianity and the Catholic Church are more forgiving when it comes to one’s diet, some would be surprised to know that followers of these religions are actually asked to abstain from eating fat and blood—most specifically during the olden days. This was said by God to Moses in Leviticus 7:22-27, which reads, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites: do not eat any of the fat of cattle, sheep or goats; the fat of an animal found dead or torn by wild animals may be used for any other purpose, but you must not eat it—anyone who eats the fat of an animal from which a food offering came may be presented to the Lord—must be cut off from their people. And wherever you live, you must not eat the blood of any bird or animal—anyone who eats blood must be cut off from their people.’”

Do Not Include Owls, Bats, or Critters in Your Diet

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Some might find it surprising that there are a couple more animals that God specifically told His people not to eat. These include owls, bats, and other animals that crawl in the ground. Leviticus 11:41-43 reads, “All small animals that scurry along the ground are detestable, and you must never eat them; this includes all animals that slither along on their bellies, as well as those with four legs and those with many feet. All such animals that scurry along the ground are detestable, and you must never eat them—do not defile yourselves by touching them; you must not make yourselves ceremonially unclean because of them.”

Women Are Advised to Conceal Their Heads to Deter Angels From Being Tempted

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1 Corinthians 11:7-10 reads, “For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man; for man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man; that is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels.” This verse can easily be mistaken for women being able to turn angels on, but in reality, this should be read in relation to Genesis 6:4, which talks about angels falling because of the beauty of women. The verse itself is not about women covering themselves with a hat, prayer shawl, and the like; it’s about having someone with authority over them—-their husbands or a male leader at church.

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Author: Karen Danao


Karen is a writer and also a marketing and advertising professional. Beyond the keyboard and the screen, she is someone who’s out to enjoy every bit that life has to offer!

Poetry, philosophy, history, and movies are all topics she loves writing about! However, her true passion is in traveling, photography, and finding common ground to which everyone from different cultures can relate.