The argument from fictitious history
"I have not learned wisdom,
nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.
Who has ascended to heaven and come down?
Who has gathered the wind in his fists?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is his son's name?
Surely you know!
Every word of God proves true;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words,
lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar." - Proverbs 30:3-6
In many ways I consider this the chapter in the thesis with the strongest argument for the non-existence of Yahweh. The objective of Chapter 7 in the thesis is straightforward enough: "There is simply no getting around the fact that, if it can be demonstrated that the stories witnessing to such supposed divine acts and guidance are fictitious and the events depicted therein never occurred as presented, all grounds for realism disappear. If the history of Yahweh's acts in the world had no corresponding extra-textual counterparts, it follows that neither does the god Yahweh-as-thus-depicted." And once again I agree with the basic argument that if it can be shown that the history as recorded in the Bible is fictitious, all grounds for realism with regards to the existence of Yahweh disappear.
Before continuing with the arguments of the thesis itself, let me in this anti-thesis lay out how I believe archaeology should inform our approach to textual artefacts (of which the Bible is simply one example). Other Ancient Near East (ANE) texts can be used to determine the actual genre of the specific book. This will prevent us from comparing the Bible to modern history books, but rather allow us to read it in its natural ANE setting. If the T"anach is considered in this context, it becomes clear that most ANE "history" included references to deities. Both as justification for various acts of the rulers, but also as an explanation for the outcome of the various events. But in general, this does not prevent the unbiased archaeologist/historian from using them as source material for determining what actually happened. If the text claims to record real history (true events), the claims are compared with other known facts and with any material remains, as far as possible. If there are no conflicting accounts, in general the historical claims are accepted on face value as true, keeping in mind the fact that it might only be a half-truth for propagandistic purposes. Where more than one source exist, describing the same event, the facts as presented in the different texts are harmonized as far as possible. Obvious hyperbole can usually be identified easily in this way. Where there are contradictions between the sources and more than 2 sources exist, the majority most likely describe the true events. But in general, texts are read fairly, both critically to identify any biases and sympathetically in the sense that it is given the benefit of the doubt if there are no contradictory evidence. I would suggest that the Bible should be approached in the same way when evaluating those books that claim to present historical events. It is important to note here that the inspiration of the Bible is not the basis for this approach (since none of the other ANE texts are considered as inspired), but rather that for historical purposes, the Bible should be treated the same as any other textual source from the ANE. Also, as was already mentioned in Chapter 2, ANE texts were usually updated when copied by later scribes. This included updating the language to more modern forms and modern words and frequently updating place-names with the "modern" name of the same place, sometimes as an explanatory note, but often as a simple replacement of the old name by the new. Many so-called anachronisms are therefore simply the result of scribal updates to the text.
Arguments against historicity
From the thesis p.280: "There is a general consensus among critical scholars that the actual history of Old
Testament times is not the same as what an uncritical surface reading of the biblical texts may impress one with (cf. Thompson 1998:02). In addition, the amount of scholarly literature dealing with the critical reconstruction of the possible historical realities behind the Old Testament texts is staggering." What should be kept in mind is that most of this "scholarly literature" is based on the theories of Welhausen and co. who worked without any external constraints when creating their speculations from thin air on how the Old Testament texts was written. They did not know that the tabernacle as described in the Torah corresponded in plan and technology to that of second millennium BC Egyptian usage as shown by archaeology, so they could easily claim it never existed and was only the literary creation of later, first millennium BC writers. They did not even know that alphabetical writing already existed at the time of Moses for centuries! They did not know that the ANE treaty/covenant formats changed over the centuries and that the format found in the Torah and Joshua corresponds with that of the late second millennium BC and not with that of Iron Age first millennium BC. If you reject the value of the Biblical texts as written for historical purposes, of course you are free to let your imagination roam and create all kinds of critical reconstructions of the "possible historical realities". The fact that there are so many alternative theories and "histories" of this kind, counts against it as being a convincing argument rather than for it. After all, if there was a good, fact-based alternative history to that given in the Hebrew bible, would that not have become the dominant view? The fact that the devil's advocate does not even attempt something like this (while archaeologists have done just that for Mesopotamia, the Hittites and Egypt without the use of the Bible) shows how little confidence he truly have in these "alternative histories".
Before considering the long list of examples that Dr. Gericke provides, just a number of observations. 1. The ancient Hebrews did not always (or even usually) tell a story in chronological order, but rather in topical order (things that logically, even if not chronologically, fit together, are grouped together.). Does this really mean that the facts recounted are any less reliable? Only if you expected a chronological order in the first place! As much as Dr. Gericke would down-play the importance of the different mind-sets between the Greek (and Western) mindset and the ancient Hebrew mindset, this difference is important for understanding the structure of Hebrew narration (this is even true in the New Testament gospels). 2. Instead of our typical expectation of a story building up to a climax (chronologically) to be followed by a short conclusion ("happily ever after"), the ancient Hebrews expected and made use of Chiastic structure throughout, with the "crux" of the narrative in the middle rather than at the end. This structure does not necessarily entail that the facts recounted did not happen, even if they did not happen in the order in which they are narrated. 3. As was said in Chapter 2, a combination of prose and poetry where the same event is described in both ways and the one could include details not found in the other, was normal ANE usage. Given our current knowledge of ANE literature, this common usage can no longer legitimately be considered as evidence for multiple sources.
The list of alleged contradictions:
- Yahweh created plants, then animals, then humans (male and female
together) (cf. Gen 1:1-31)
Yahweh created a male human first, then plants, then animals, then
the female human (cf. Gen 2:4b-25) - Firstly Gen.1 says nothing about how the first humans were created, simply that they were created. There is no reason to suppose that they were created simultaneously. The fact that they are mentioned last on the sixth day of creation does not even necessarily imply that they were chronologically created last, but emphasize that they were created in God's image, the finishing touch, so to speak. Secondly, Gen.2 says nothing about the creation of the plants (only about the Garden in Eden) or for that matter about creation in general. All of Gen.2 seems to happen only on the sixth day of creation as described in Gen.1. Thirdly, taking into account the relative unimportance of chronology in ANE Hebrew narrative, there is no valid reason to suppose that the animals were only created after the man. Their creation is simply mentioned afterwards to fit with the theme of there being no suitable mate for man among the animals and thus leading to the creation of the woman. It would be totally within the meaning of the texts as written to propose that humankind and the animals were created simultaneously.
- People already worshipped Yahweh by name before the flood (cf.
People only started to worship Yahweh by name after he revealed it
to Moses (cf. Ex 6:3) - This was already dealt with in Chapter 2. It is clearly stated in the text that YHWH did not reveal(show) Himself by that Name before the time of Moses, not that the Name was unknown.
- Details of a genealogy (cf. Gen 4:17-26)
A contradicting version of the same lineage (cf. Gen 5:1-32) - Surely you must be joking? One is the genealogy of Cain and the other of Seth (a later son of Adam). How is it even possible to read the text as implying "the same lineage"?
- Human life span is limited to 120 years (cf. Gen 6:3)
Many humans after that exceed this limit (cf. Gen 12 and passim) - This life span is obviously meant as an average and not that no single individual will ever exceed it? Later the life span is considered as 70 years, and yet nobody lived in fear that they will die on the day they turn 70!
- The duration of the flood was 40 days (cf. Gen 7:4,12,17)
The duration of the flood was 150 days (cf. Gen 7:24, 8:3) - A straightforward reading of the text makes it clear that it was the rain and the flooding from the "fountains of the deep" that continued for 40 days and that the water remained on the earth after the rain stopped until the 150th day. Or would anybody assume that after the 40 days of rain stopped, the water would all be gone immediately?
- The animals on the ark were two of each type (cf. Gen 6:19)
They were only two in terms of the unclean animals but seven pairs
were to be taken from the clean animals (cf. Gen 7:2-3) - And the contradiction is? If I state a case in general and then explain it in more detail (including the exceptions to the general rule), does that really imply a contradiction?
- The people of the earth had their own languages before the tower of
Babylon incident (cf. Gen 10:5)
The people all spoke one language until after the tower of Babylon
incident when Yahweh confused their speech (cf. Gen 11:1-9) - First of all the assumption is made without any good reason that because Gen.10 is written before Gen.11 all of it happened before Gen.11. But even just reading Gen.10 makes it clear that it is a summary of how all the nations came from the sons of Noah. Moreover, there is also evidence (cf. Kitchen's "The Reliability of the Old Testament") that this list was later updated as the former nations/peoples/clans divided into new languages and nations: a modern example would be the old Germanic tribes and the nations and languages of modern Europe.
- Abram was 70 years old when his father Terah died (cf. Gen 12:4)
Abram was 135 years old when Terah died. (cf. Gen 11:26,32) - Really? You cannot use Gen.11:26 to determine the age of Abraham when his father died unless you assume that he was one of a triplet!
- Ishmael was an infant when Hagar carried him into the desert (cf.
Ishmael was already 16 years old at the time (cf. Gen 17:24,25) - Where does it say he was an infant? Not in my Bible! When she found water she had to pull him up and hold his hand. How does that imply an infant? It is only a misreading of Gen.21:14 that might imply something like this.
- When Jacob fled from his home he was 40 years old (cf. Gen 26:34;
When Jacob fled from his home he was 77 years old (cf. Gen
41:46,53; 45:6) - I cannot find any reference that Jacob was 77 years old when he fled his home. Maybe the wrong references (the second lot of verses all refer to Josef)?
- Beth El was first named when Jacob was on his way to Padan-Aram
(cf. Gen 28:18-19)
Beth El was first named when Jacob returned from Padan-Aram (cf.
Gen 35:13-14) - This is becoming ridiculous! Surely Jacob first named the place when he was leaving and again (not the first time) told his family that this was the name of the place when he returned? Moreover, he was explicitly ordered by God, using the name Bethel, to build an altar at that place after his return (Gen.35:1), the name which he had previously given to the place! There is no reason to even suggest that this was the first naming of Bethel.
...Do I really need to continue? If the whole list consists of these kind of "contradictions" it is just a waste of time to answer them one by one. ...
- 11 of Jacob’s son’s were born over a period of 13 years (cf. Gen
11 of Jacob’s son’s were born over a period of 7 years (cf. Gen
29:30-31; 30:25) - Jacob was in Padan-Aram for 20 years, for the first 7 without a wife. Then he was there another 13 years, first 7 years working for the other wife and then another 6 years working for his flock. During this 13 years 11 of his children were born, and it would seem that Joseph (the youngest?) was born already by the end of the second 7 years. So where does it say or imply that the later sons were only born towards the end of the 13 years? If all 11 of Jacobs sons were born during the first 7 years after his marriage, they were also all born within the 13 year period of his stay in Padan-Aram after his marriage!
- Jacob was renamed as "Israel" by God east of the Jordan at Peniel
(cf. Gen 32:23)
Jacob was renamed as "Israel" by God west of the Jordan at Beth El
(cf. Gen 35:10) - And both could not have happened? Where is the contradiction? (Just for clarity: a contradiction would be defined as "A AND NOT A"; "A AND A" is not a contradiction, and neither is "A AND B").It also appears that Jacob still did not use the name "Israel" for a while after having been renamed.
- The place Beersheba was named by Isaac (cf. Gen 21:31)
The place Beersheba was named by Jacob (cf. Gen 26:27) - It should be Abraham and Isaac (not Isaac and Jacob). And Isaac named it (by the same name as his father used) explicitly after reopening the wells that his father dug. (This is a case of "A AND B", not of "A AND NOT A")
- Joseph was sold to Midianites who took him to Egypt (cf. Gen
Joseph was kidnapped by Ishmaelites who took him to Egypt (cf.
Gen 37:28a,29,36) - So let us just be clear here: What is the difference between Midianites and Ishmaelites? Did they live in different countries and speak different languages? See Judges 8:24 after the defeat of the Midianites: ("And Gideon said to them, “Let me make a request of you: every one of you give me the earrings from his spoil.” (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)"). This makes it clear that at least from a later Israelite perspective there was no difference between Midianites and Ishmaelites. To make this a contradiction, it should at least be shown from some external source that the Midianites and Ishmaelites constituted two separate people groups.
- Benjamin was born in Padan-Aram (cf. Gen 35:16-19)
Benjamin was born in Canaan (cf. Gen 35:24-26) - Nowhere does it explicitly say that Benjamin was born in Padan-Aram. However, he is mentioned in a list of Israel's sons together with his brother who were all born in Padan-Aram and although it could be understood as implying that he was also born there, the very placement of the list (just after describing his birth near Bethlehem) makes it clear that he was the exception.
- Rebecca died while giving birth to Benjamin (cf. Gen 35) ??
Rebecca is alive and well years later (cf. Gen 37) ?? - Rebecca? Rachel died while giving birth to Benjamin. And indeed, Joseph's dream would confirm that Rachel was already dead, since he dreamed of the Sun and the moon (only one) and the 11 stars bowing before him. Surely there would be two moons if both Rachel and Leah was still alive? Although Jacobs talks about "his mother", by this time Leah was probably the only mother Joseph knew.
- Canaan was the land of the Hebrews (cf. Gen 40:15)
Canaan became the land of the Hebrews only later on (cf. Jos 1:11) - The Hebrews are not the same as Israel, even as used in the Bible. All Israelites were Hebrews, but all Hebrews were not Israelites. The term habiru (in Mesopotamia) or Apiru (in Egypt) was used long before Israel as a people even existed. While there is debate on whether these terms are equivalent to "Ivri" (Hebrew)) in the Bible, there are other suggestions (e.g. "Asiatics" = Amu, Shosu or SA.GAZ) which were also in use and would have been the term used by Joseph in an Egyptian context - he was probably not speaking Hebrew to the Egyptians!.
... I will now try to focus on those issues that might actually be significant in terms of its implications for the existence of YHWH.
- One list of the number and names of the sons of Benjamin (cf. Gen
A contradictory list of the number and names of the sons of
Benjamin (cf. Num 26:38-40) - The list in Genesis include all the descendants of Benjamin at the time that Israel moved to Egypt. Obviously he could have had more children afterwards in Egypt itself! And it would also not be strange if not all of his sons had enough descendants to be part of the tribe of Benjamin 400 years later. Numbers actually complement Genesis nicely here by making it explicit that some of the "sons" of Benjamin in Genesis were actually his grandsons. As an aside, in contrast to modern Hebrew, biblical Hebrew did not have separate terms for father, grandfather and great-grandfather and neither for son, grandson and great-grandson. This is something to keep in mind and will help to clarify a lot of the confusion about geneologies
- The name of Moses’ father-in-law was Jethro (cf. Ex 3:1)
The name of Moses’ father-in-law was Reuel (cf. Ex 2:18)
The name of Moses’ father-in-law was Hobab (cf. Judg 4:11) - It was fairly common in Biblical times for people to have more than one name (e.g. Jacob/Israel, Esau/Edom, Abram/Abraham). Even up to the present day, this happens! Of course, Num.10:29 makes it clear that Hobab was the son of Reuel and thus Moses' brother-in-law, rather than his father-in-law. The word "chatan" does not always refer to father-in-law, but would also include brother-in-law, son-in-law (e.g. Gen.19:12,14) or bridegroom (Ex.4:25-26). Moreover, Moses appears to have had more than one wife (Num.12), meaning he also would have had more than one father-in-law (although in this case there are other indications that Jethro and Reuel is one-and-the-same person).
- The number and chronology of the plagues (cf. Ex 7-11)
The number and chronology of the plagues (cf. Ps 78:43-51)
The number and chronology of the plagues (cf. Ps 105:27-36) - Would you seriously expect a song (poem) written centuries after the fact to even need to be accurate? To use poetry as if it should be describing accurate facts (as if it was prose) simply does not make any sense.
- The exodus occurred after a stay of 60-120 years in Egypt (cf. Gen
The exodus occurred after a stay of 400 to 430 years in Egypt (cf.
Gen 15:13; Ex 12:40) - I should just add that it is not certain whether the 400 - 430 years should count from the time of Abraham or only from the time when Israel and his sons actually moved to Egypt. But as for Gen.15, it seems clear from the context that 4th generation was used in an idealized sense to indicate 400 years (interestingly the ideal Egyptian age was 110 years, so this actually constitute evidence that this text was written under strong Egyptian influence: maybe by Moses?).
- The sea was crossed after Yahweh caused a strong east wind to
blow (cf. Ex 14:21)
The sea was crossed after Moses parted the water to form two walls
(cf. Ex 14:23) Moses parted the water? How? With his hands? Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. Where is the contradiction again?
- The names and number of the tribes (cf. Gen 49)
A contradictory list of the names/number of the tribes (cf. Num 1)
A contradictory list of the names/number of the tribes (cf. Deut 33)
A contradictory list of the names/number of the tribes (cf. Josh 19)
A contradictory list of the names/number of the tribes (cf. Judg 1)
A contradictory list of the names/number of the tribes (cf. Judg 5) - Gen. 49 lists the 12 sons of Israel (Jacob). Num.1 is the tribes coming from those sons, explicitly excluding the tribe of Levi and explicitly splitting the sons of Joseph into the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (since Israel adopted them as his own sons before his death). Deut. is the blessing by Moses and he mentions all the sons of Israel, including Joseph as Ephraim and Manasseh, except for Simeon. This might partly be because Simeon was cursed by Jacob (with Levi in Gen 49), but also be because he wanted to include Levi (his own tribe, and the priestly tribe) so that with Ephraim and Manasseh, both mentioned, there were already 12 tribes. The context of Josh. 19 makes it clear that "There remained among the people of Israel seven tribes whose inheritance had not yet been apportioned." and they are then listed in Josh. 18-19. Judg.1 is not a list of the tribes of Israel (although it mentions most of them). Obviously it does not mention the tribes of Gad and Reuben (and half the tribe of Manasseh) which had already received their inheritance East of the Jordan. Levi is not mentioned because they did not receive any tribal territory of their own. The other tribes are all mentioned as expected, except for the tribe of Issachar. But the point is made that in general the Israelites did not drive the Canaanites from the land as they had been commanded. Judges 5 is a victory song, not a list of the tribes of Israel. In the song those tribes who lived closest to Hazor and participated in the war against Jabin are praised and the surrounding tribes who did not join the fight chided for it. But the far-away tribes are not mentioned at all. Contradictions? Seriously?
- The routes taken and the itineraries of the exodus in the Sinai
Peninsula (cf. Ex 13-17)
Alternative and contradictory construals of the desert wanderings
(cf. Num 10-33) - It is to be expected (and also seen in other ANE itineraries or travel descriptions) that not all stops will be included in a given itinerary and any two itineraries of the same voyage will seldom include exactly the same stops. However, in this case it would be extremely strange if the route was the same! Since Exodus describes the voyage from Egypt to mount Sinai (Horeb) and Numbers (10-32) describe the route from Mount Sinai to Kadesh Barnea and Southern Canaan and then from there (after the people of Israel was too scared to take the promised land) the round-about route until they reached the plains of Moab on the other side of the Jordan. More-over, the first part of the itinerary as described in Num.33:1-15 is basically the same as that which is described in Exodus 13-19! Where is the contradiction?
- Itineraries in the desert (cf. Num 21:10-20)
A contradictory list (cf. Num 33:44-49) - Ditto. The itineraries are NOT contradictory. Each mentions some stops not mentioned in the other (and there was probably more stops not mentioned in either!), but they describe the same basic route and the stops that are the same in both, also follow in the same order.
- The exact wording of the Ten Commandments (cf. Ex 20:1-17)
A contradictory version (cf. Ex 34:10-26)
Another contradictory version (cf. Deut 5:5-21) - First of all it is clear that the 10 commandments (lit. the 10 things/words) are not only given on their own as they would have been written on the stone tablets, but also given with some explanatory phrases (e.g. why they should keep the Sabbath). Ex. 20 does not claim to be the written 10 words, but rather the oral proclamation of them from the mountain in the hearing of all Israel. Then in Ex.20:22 - 23:33 they are expanded on to Moses. Ex.34:10-26 is not the 10 commandments at all, but again words spoken to Moses as an expansion of the 10 commandments. Deut. 5:5-21 has exactly the same 10 commandments as Ex.20:1-17, the only difference being that it records Moses' speech in the land of Moab and his oral rendition of the 10 words. But contradiction?
- Yahweh himself wrote down the law (cf. Ex 34:1)
It was not Yahweh but Moses who wrote it down (cf. Ex 34:27) Firstly, Ex.34:1 only said that YHWH said He would write the down the words, but not that He actually did it. Moreover, Ex.34:27 does not explicitly say that Moses wrote it down either! While the context seems to imply that it was Moses who wrote the 10 words down, YHWH is mentioned in the same sentence and He could be the One doing the writing while Moses was with Him for 40 days and nights. We see the very same thing in the next verse: "When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with Him".
- The name of the mountain of God were the law was given was Sinai
(cf. Ex 3:1)
The name of the mountain of God where the law was given was
Horeb (cf. Ex 19:1) It is actually the other way round (Horeb in Ex.3 and Sinai in Ex.19). But the real issue is that Ex.19 talks about the wilderness/desert of Sinai whereas Ex.3 talks about the mountain towards Horeb. In other words neither of these two verses explicitly names the mountain, but rather names the area where the mountain is. Once again, unless we actually knew about two separate mountains, one called Horeb and the other Sinai, the claim of contradiction is simply not warranted.
- During the exodus and the wandering in the wilderness Israel was
commanded to sacrifice to Yahweh (cf. Ex 3:18 and passim)
Yahweh never asked the Israelites to sacrifice to him when they left
Egypt and were living in the desert (cf. Jer 7:22-23) I am not sure if this is meant as a serious claim. It should be clear that Jeremiah is using hyperbole to remind the people of God that it was keeping the covenant, rather than simply ritual sacrifices that He required. Moreover, He did not command them to bring sacrifices to Him on the day when they were delivered (just as Jeremiah said), but did command them to listen to His voice (Ex.15:16). Only more than 3 months later did He actually instruct them to build the tabernacle and bring sacrifices. He did instruct Moses to first ask the Pharaoh for permission to go sacrifice in the desert (Ex.3), but He never actually commanded the Israelites to do so and explicitly told Moses that Pharaoh would not allow them to go until later.
- The time when the Ark of the Covenant was constructed (cf. Deut 10:3-5)
A contradictory account (cf. Ex 25:10; 35:12) Deut. 10 is a highly compacted summary of a number of chapters in Exodus, so it is highly unlikely to be told in chronological order. But even in Exodus the command to build the Ark is given before Moses go up the mountain to receive the 10 words on the stone tablets a second time. That the actual building of the ark is only mentioned later in Ex.35 need not have any chronological importance, but it could simply be convenient to mention all parts of the tabernacle together. Exodus doesn't even mention when Moses put the two tablets into the ark.
- One version of the Sinai theophany (cf. Ex 19; 24)
A contradictory version of the same incident (cf. Deut 4) I fail to see the contradiction between the two accounts? The column of fire and cloud were on top of the mountain, it shook and the voice of God was heard from the fire giving the 10 commandments. The people were so scared that they asked Moses to talk with them, rather than God directly. Later, 70 elders of the people (none of which were alive any more by the time of Deut.4), entered into the cloud with Moses and Aaron and had a meal in the presence of God. So where is the contradiction again?
- One version of the manna and quails incident (cf. Ex 16:1-36)
A contradictory version of the same incident (cf. Num 11:4-35) ?? The manna was given for 40 years starting in Ex.16. Num.11 is not the same incident, but occurs after Sinai, while Ex.16 was on the way to Sinai.
- One version of the water from the rock incident (cf. Ex 17:1-7)
A contradictory version of the same incident (cf. Num 20:1-21) Once again, not the same incident. Not at the same time (one before and the other after Sinai) and not at the same place. The first time God commanded Moses to strike the rock. The second time he was commanded to only speak to the rock, but instead struck it again.
- One version of the golden calf incident (cf. Ex 32:1-29)
A contradictory version of the same incident (cf. Deut 9:11-29) Where's the contradiction again?
- The sacrificial animals were slaughtered at the entrance to the
tabernacle (cf. Lev 17:3-4)
The sacrificial animals were slaughtered elsewhere (cf. Deut 12:15-
16) Oh come on! Lev. was the rule given to the Israelites while they were all together in the desert, specifically to prohibit idolatry to the devils. Deuteronomy is the adaptation of the law for Israel as they were getting ready to go into the promised land where they would be settled all over the land in their various towns and cities and it would no longer be practical to bring every single animal to the tabernacle to be slaughtered.
- The Levites were first sanctified at Sinai (cf. Num 3:6)
The Levites were first sanctified at a later period (cf. Deut 6:8) (Should be Deut.10:8). And Deut 10:10 makes it clear that Moses was still at the mountain after the Levites were sanctified.
- The Edomites refused the Israelites passage and the restocking of
provisions (cf. Num 20:19-20; Judg 11:17-18)
The Edomites did not refuse the Israelites passage and the
restocking of provisions (cf. Deut 2:4,28-29)
- Moses looked at the Promised Land from the mountain Abrarim (cf.
Moses looked at the Promised Land from the mountain Pishga (cf.Deut 3:27)
- Aaron died at the mountain called Hor (cf. Num 20:27-28)
Aaron died at the mountain called Mosherah (cf. Deut 10:6)
- After Aaron’s death the Israelites went to Shalmonah and Pinon (cf.
After Aaron’s death the Israelites went to Gudgodah and Jothbatah
(cf. Deut 10:6-7)
- Caleb was the only one who did not rebel against Yahweh (cf. Num
Not only Caleb but also Joshua did not rebel against Yahweh (cf.
- Caleb’s father was Jephuneh (cf. Josh 14:6)
Caleb’s father was Geshron (cf. 1 Chron 2:18)
Caleb’s father was Hur (cf. 1 Chron 2:50)
- Yahweh expressly commanded the Israelites to restrict their worship
in the Promised Land to one centralised cultic place (Deut 12:5ff)
Apparently Yahweh never required this (cf. Ex 20:20-24; Judges; 1-
2 Samuel/1-2 Kings)
- The first naming of Hebron (cf. Gen 13:18)
A contradictory account (cf. Josh 14:15)
- The Canaanites were completely annihilated (cf. Josh 10:40)
They were only oppressed (cf. Judg 1:28)
- Yahweh did not destroy all the pagan people of the land because he
did not want the wild animals to become too many (sic) (cf. Deut
Yahweh did not destroy the pagan people of the land in order to see
whether the Israelites would be faithful (cf. Judg 2:22) - And it could not be for both reasons or even more other reasons as well? Contradiction?
- The process of settlement was quick (cf. Josh 10:42)
The process of settlement was slow (cf. Josh 11:18; Judges 1-19)
- Israel could not conquer Jebush until the time of David (cf. Josh
Israel conquered Jebush and burned it with fire long before the time
of king David (cf. Judg 1:8) - While they conquered it once and set fire to it, they would not or could not displace the Jebusites living there (who apparently resettled it shortly afterwards again). Also, the term "to this day" in Josh.15:63 need not mean until the time of David, but could be simply until the end of Joshua's lifetime, before Judah conquered Jebush after Joshua had died. Contradiction not demonstrated.
- The cities of Tanaach and Dor were actually conquered (cf. Josh
The cities of Tanaach and Dor were not conquered (cf. Judg 1:27)
- Joshua attacked the city of Ai with 30 000 warriors (cf. Josh 8:12)
Joshua attacked the city of Ai with only 5 000 warriors (cf. Josh 8:3)
- The number of cities taken was 29 (cf. Josh 15:32)
The number of cities taken was 38 (cf. Josh 15:21-32)
- Siserah was killed while sleeping (cf. Judg 4:20)
Siserah was killed while standing (cf. Judg 5:25)
- The number of Benjaminites who were killed was 26100 (cf. Judg
The number of Benjaminites killed was actually 25000 (cf. Judg
20:46-47) - 25000 is simply a rounded figure for 26100 (which probably is already a round figure as well)... contradiction?
- The names of Samuel’s sons (cf. 1 Sam 14:49)
A contradictory list (cf. 1 Sam 31:2)
- David is in the service of Saul and plays on the harp for him (cf. 1
Saul has never met David in his life (cf. 1 Sam 17:55-58) - The text actually mentions that David was not with Saul all the time, but went between Saul and his father's flocks. The time period since Saul last saw him is not mentioned. If we keep in mind that David was young, probably still a teenager growing fast, it is not unlikely that Saul might not have recognized him when he faced Goliath. Moreover, simply being a harp-player in Saul's court still does not mean that Saul would really take notice of him to the extend that he would recognize him later. Sorry, no real contradiction.
- David killed Goliath (cf. 1 Sam 17:1, 49)
Elchanan killed Goliath (cf. 2 Sam 21:18-19) - A real contradiction at last! :-) There are several possible explanations for 2 Sam.21:19. 1. It could simply be a badly copied text and the original text said something different altogether. Some indications that this could be the case is the repeated mention of war with the Philistines at "Gob" in the surrounding verses, the name of a an otherwise unknown place, and looking suspiciously like the well-known Philistine city of Gath. Actually the most likely option, since 1 Chron.20:5 makes it clear that the original text was that Elchanan struck down Lahmi, the brother of Goliath. The inherent redundancy of much of the Bible actually allows us to find the truth. Two words (Lachmi achi) are all that was accidentally skipped from 2 Sam.18-19 by some scribe. Compare this elegant and plausible explanation to the alternatives: 2. Elchanan might simply be David's original name with "David" being his throne name. It was not unknown for kings to have more than one name (e.g. Uzziah who was also known as Azariah, Jehoiachin also known as Coniah, Solomon also known as Jedidiah). Against this option is the fact that there is no other mention of the name Elchanan for David and that Elchanan was mentioned as one of the 30 heroes of David. 3. Goliath might simply have been a popular name among the "Rephaim" living in Gath (or even a family name) and Elchanan killed this Goliath much later than the Goliath killed by David and he was therefore not the same, but possibly a younger relative with the same name. 4. We have a real contradiction and this act of the young Elchanan from Bethlehem was later officially ascribed to his king, David, who was also from Bethlehem. Then the question would be why this verse remained in the text? Moreover, how come Elchanan did not replace Saul as king instead of David? 5. We have a real contradiction and neither David nor Elchanan killed Goliath. There was no Goliath. There was no David. This is the view of the so-called minimalists. But then we run into the solid wall of archaeological fact which attests to the house of David ruling in Judah (Dan Stele and Moab stone).
- One account of Saul’s death (cf. 1 Sam 34:4-5)
A contradictory version (cf. 2 Sam 1:4-10)
Another contradictory version (cf. 2 Sam 21:12)
- Saul’s family died with him (cf. 1 Chron 10:6)
Apparently they did not (cf. 2 Sam 2:8)
- Ishboseth ruled for 2 years (cf. 2 Sam 2:10)
Ishboseth ruled for 7 years (cf. 2 Sam 2:11)
- Uzziah was killed by Yahweh at the threshing floor of Nachon (cf. 2
Uzziah was killed by Yahweh at the threshing floor of Gidon (cf. 1
- The fallible character of David (cf. 1 Sam 16 - 1 Kgs 2)
The idealised David (cf. 1 Chron 10-29)
- One account of where the troops were stationed (cf. 2 Kgs 11:5-7)
A contradictory account (cf. 2 Chron 23:4-5)
- Yahweh incited David to hold a census (cf. 2 Sam 24:1)
It was Satan who incited David (cf. 1 Chron 21:1)
- The number of soldiers in Israel and Judah was 1 100 000 and 470
000 respectively (cf. 1 Chron 21:5-7)
The number of soldiers in Israel was 800 000 and 500 000
respectively (2 Sam 24:4-5)
- The proposed famine would last 3 years (cf. 1 Chron 21:12)
The proposed famine would last 7 years (cf. 2 Sam 24:13)
- For the threshing floor David had to pay 50 shekels of silver (cf. 2
For the threshing floor David had to pay 600 shekels of gold (cf. 1
- David took 1700 horsemen (cf. 2 Sam 8:4)
David took 7000 horsemen (cf. 1 Chron 18:4)
- Solomon practised idolatry (cf. 1 Kgs 11:1-13)
Solomon did not practise idolatry (cf. 2 Chron 9; 35:4)
- Solomon had 1000 wives (cf. 1 Kgs 11:3)
Solomon only had 140 wives (cf. Songs 6:8)
- Solomon subjected the Hebrews to slavery (cf. 1 Kgs 5:13-14)
Solomon subjected none of the Hebrews to slavery (cf. 1 Kgs 9:22)
- The nature of Solomon’s wisdom (cf. 1 Kgs 3; 2 Chron 1)
A different kind of wisdom (cf. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes)
- Solomon had 4 000 stalls (cf. 2 Chron 9)
Solomon had 40 000 stalls (cf. 1 Kgs 4)
- Solomon had 550 overseers (cf. 1 Kgs 9)
Solomon had 250 overseers (cf. 2 Chron 8)
- Solomon’s temple was 18 cubits high, had 3300 overseers and the
sea of bronze adjacent to it comprised a volume of 2 000 baths (cf. 1
Solomon’s temple was 35 cubits high, had 3 600 overseers and the
sea of bronze adjacent to it comprised a volume of 3 000 baths (cf. 2
- Baasha died in the 26th year of the reign of Asa (cf. 1 Kgs 16)
Baasha attacked Judah during the 36th year of the reign of Asa (cf. 2
- Asa removed all the high places (cf. 2 Kron 14)
Asa did not remove all the high places (cf. 1 Kgs 5)
- Ahab died at Ramoth Gilead (cf. 2 Kon 22:37)
Ahab died at Jezreel (cf. 1 Kgs 21:1,19)
- Jotam ruled for 16 years (cf. 2 Kgs 15:30)
Jotam ruled for 20 years (cf. 2 Kgs 15:33)
- Pekah’s reign lasted 20 years (cf. 2 Kgs 15:27)
Pekah’s reign lasted 30 years (cf. 2 Kgs 15:32-33)
- Ahasiah began his rule when he was 22 years old (cf. 2 Kgs 8)
Ahasiah began his rule when he was 42 years old (cf. 2 Chron 22)
- Azariah’s rule began during the 15th year of Jerobeam (cf. 2 Kgs
Azariah’s rule began during the 27th year of Jerobeam (cf. 2 Kgs
- Hoseah began to rule during the 3rd year of Ahaz’s reign (cf. 2 Kgs
Hoseah began to rule during the 12th year of Ahaz’s reign (cf. 2 Kgs
- Joahaz began to rule in the 19th year of Joaz (cf. 2 Kgs 10:36)
Joahaz began to rule during the 23rd year of Joaz (cf. 2 Kgs 13:1)
- The furnishings for the temple were not made in the time of Joaz (cf. 2 Kgs 12:13-14)
The furnishings for the temple were made in Joaz’s time (cf. 2 Chron 24:14)
- Omri began to rule during the 27th year of Asa (cf. 1 Kgs 16:15)
Omri began to rule during the 31st year of Asa (cf. 1 Kgs 16:23)
- Josiah’s reformation took place during the 12 th year of his reign (cf.
2 Chron 34)
Josiah’s reformation took place during the 18 th year of his reign (cf.
2 Kgs 22)
- Ahaz was defeated by Israel in Syria (cf. 2 Chron 28)
He was not (cf. 2 Kgs 16)
- Ahaz was buried with his fathers (cf. 2 Kgs 16:20)
He was not (cf. 2 Chron 28:27)
- Josiah died at Megiddo (cf. 2 Kgs 23)
Josiah died at Jerusalem (cf. 2 Chron 35)
- Nebusaradan came on the 7th day (cf. 2 Kgs 25)
Nebusaradan came on the 10th day (cf. Jer 52)
- After Josiah, Joaz became king (cf. 2 Chron 38)
It was not Joaz but Sallum (cf. Jer 22)
- One version of Yahweh’s sundial miracle for Hezekiah (cf. 2 Kgs 20)
A contradictory version (cf. Isa 38)
- Jojachim had no successor (cf. Jer 36:30)
Jojachim was succeeded by his son (cf. 2 Kgs 14:6)
- Manasseh was an evil king until his death (cf. 2 Kgs 21)
Manasseh repented before his death (cf. 2 Chron 33)
- The amount of captives taken numbered 10 000 (cf. 2 Kgs 24:14-16)
The amount of captives taken numbered 4 600 (cf. Jer 52:28-30)
- The number of people returning from exile was 42 360 (cf. Ez 2:1-
The number of people returning from exile was 29 818 (cf. Ez 2:64)
The number of people returning form exile was 31 089 (cf. Neh 7)
- There were a total of 4 priestly classes (cf. Ez 2:36)
There were a total of 22 priestly classes (cf. Neh 7:1)
- Contributions to the temple fund (cf. Ez 2)
A contradictory account (cf. Neh 7)
- The details of the census lists (cf. Ez 2)
Contradictory versions of the same lists (cf. Neh 7)
The impossible narrator?
Alleged archaeological falsification
Anachronisms in the text
Intrusive literary constructs?
Misinterpretation of natural and social phenomena?
Retrojective ideological projections?
Next: Chapter 4