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Choose Life That You Might Live

Part 5: Differences and Discrepancies in the Old Testament
It would greatly help if people brought a modicum of common sense to a reading of the Scriptures

Carol Brooks

List of Chapters
For a slightly longer description of each chapter, please go to the Main Index

Part 1: Spiritual not Religious. The question is how do you know that the spiritual path you are on will lead somewhere you want to be? What does it offer you in the long run... beyond this life?
Part 2: Religious Pluralism. It is tragically true that few of those who believe that all spiritual beliefs are valid paths to God seem to have made an in depth study of various religions to see if their claims are based on fact, or fairy dust.
Part 3: Faith and The Bible. Christianity is perhaps the only religion that does not demand 'blind faith' from its followers.
Part 4: God And His Bible. There is far more evidence in favor of the Bible being true, than there is for any of the other 'holy books which usually consist of endless streams of often mind numbing philosophy, with little or no framework or context. The evidence includes the Bibles humanly impossible authorship, its archaeological and scientific accuracy and  fulfilled prophecy.
YOU ARE HERE 001orange Part 5: Alleged Old Testament Discrepancies. The charges are usually careless, overconfident and unsubstantiated.
Part 6: Why Jesus Is Without Equal.  Many so called holy men claim to to be divine or divinely inspired - to have had mystical visions or experiences. So what?
Part 7: The Reliability of The New Testament. If we applied whatever criteria liberal scholars use to dismiss the Gospels, to the evidence for other historical people and events, we would have to dismiss as myth everything we think we think we know about the ancient past.
Part 8: New Testament Differences and Discrepancies  Most alleged 'mistakes' arise from understanding too little about the Bible.
Part 8 b:The Resurrection Accounts The so-called contradictions are trotted out without a single reference to the possible solutions that can very plausibly and naturally explain them.
Part 9: The Bible, Then And Now. People commonly reject the Bible because they believe the original text has been changed significantly since it was first written, and therefore, it is a corrupted book. But is there any truth to the charge?
Part 10: Historical Corroboration. Were any of the Gospel accounts substantiated by non-Christian sources?
Part 11: Archaeology and The Bible. Does archaeology confirm, or undermine, the New Testament accounts?
Part 12: Is The Evidence Insufficient or Too Obscure? A far more sensible way to look at it is... the more severe the consequences, the fewer risks we should take.
Part 13: The Message of The Bible. The Heaven Jesus was sent to tell us about is no pie in the sky ethereal place 'somewhere out there. In fact, the Bible's description of the coming kingdom is far more practical than that of our theologians. '
Part 14: The Warning of The Bible. We are all under the death penalty. If dying once sounds terrible to you, how does doing it twice sound? which is exactly what the Bible says will happen if...
Part 15: Who Is and Isn't a Christian. Since the word originated with the Bible, only the Bible has the right to define what a "Christian" is.
Part 16: Myths and Misconceptions that stem from knowing too little about Biblical Christianity.

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Differences and Discrepancies in the Old Testament
The accusations and criticism leveled at the Bible by modern-day skeptics are, more often than not, careless, condescending, overconfident and unsubstantiated. Here are some of the errors they make. They 1) Judge an ancient book by modern standards 2) Have, at best, an extremely superficial knowledge of the of the more complex aspects of the Bible 3) Know absolutely nothing of some of the terms used in the Scriptures, 4) Lack both cultural and geographical knowledge 5) Rarely, if ever, consider the context and finally 6) Never consider that when a book has been copied by hand over and over again for centuries some scribal error can and has crept in, especially where numbers are concerned. Nor do they ever pay attention to the fact that none of the variations alter even a single teaching or doctrine of the Bible.

ON THIS PAGE

Introduction
 Critics who claim that there are hundreds of errors and contradictions in the Bible usually fall into one of three groups.

Scribal Error
Numerical and Other Equally Minor Discrepancies

Judging An Ancient Book By Modern Standards
Fowl do not 'creep' or go on all fours
Insects Do Not Have Four Legs.
Do Rabbits 'Chew The Cud'?

Lack of Cultural and Geographical Knowledge
Ishmaelites or Midianites
Where Did Aaron Die?
God is Not All Powerful

Alleged Scientific Discrepancies

 Not Understanding Biblical Terms and Literary Devices
God 'Rested'
Does God's Anger Last Forever
Liars... Condemned or Condoned?
Thou Shalt Not Kill Or Thou Shalt Not Murder

 Superficial to Non-existent Knowledge of the More Complex Aspects of The Bible
The Law Was, Or Was Not, Superseded By The Christian Dispensation
Was David's Throne to Endure Forever or Was It Cast Down?
Is Jesus Barred From Being The Heir to David's Throne? - (A Charge That Strikes At The Very Heart of Christianity)

 Two Instances where Old Testament Events Appear to Contradict Statements Made by Jesus
1) Can God Be "Seen" or Not
2) Did Elijah and/or Enoch Ascend to Heaven?


Introduction
Ignoring the fact that the very authorship of the Bible, the many fulfilled prophecies, the scientific details which were unknown to man at the time of writing etc. [See Previous Chapter God and His Bible for Details] all show that it could not possibly be a book dreamed up by man, skeptics jump up and down when they discover what they take to ve a contradiction or discrepancy in the text, loudly proclaiming to all and sundry that this book is 'full of mistakes' and therefore cannot possibly be the word of God. They usually fall into one of three groups...

    1) People who come across supposed errors from actually reading the Scriptures for themselves are few and far between. Far more commonly somewhere along the line they have heard or read that this is the case and assume it to be Gospel truth (no pun intended). I have to wonder how many have any idea what these inconsistencies are and where they are to be found.

    2) Those who have read some of these discrepancies (usually on the internet). However, not knowing very much about the language, context, culture, geography of the Scriptures and oblivious to what constitutes a true contradiction they honestly believe the Bible narrative is full of holes.

    3) The skeptics who do not seem interested in finding out the truth... they simply want to chalk up another victory (regardless of how frivolous) for their case that the Bible is a book that cannot be trusted. In many cases they seem to make a virtual career of majoring on the minors.

What most skeptics fail to take into account that fact that the Bible is not only an ancient book but although it's core message is exceedingly simple, it has layer and layers that when carefully peeled back fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. In other words, many of the 'mistakes' they think they have discovered actually arise from understanding too little about the Bible. See No Grasp Of The Big Picture below. Unfortunately, people tend not to bring the common sense to a reading of Scripture that they do to a reading of the Sunday newspaper.

This does not mean that discrepancies and errors do not exist nor that every single difficulty in the Bible can be resolved, but enough of them have been (some extremely easily) to realize that there are probable answers to the remaining few. Many of these so called "errors" can either be logically explained using everyday common sense, while others require a more in-depth knowledge of both Old and New Testaments and how they relate to one another. And, on occasion, it also helps to look up how the common usage of English words has changed over time.

Finally, most "discrepancies" are far more easily raised than answered. Regardless of how frivolous, it can take a great deal of research to answer an objection.

Here are some of the categories in which many critics fall woefully short.

A) Language and Culture
Skeptics are often unfamiliar with the languages used in the Scriptures, particularly how certain Hebrew and Greek words and phrases were used. Nor are many familiar with the cultural influences of the time.

B) Literary Genres
One can never interpret the text properly unless one recognizes the variety of literary genres used in the Scriptures. This includes poetry, parables, history, prophecy, wisdom literature (a collection of a short pithy instructive sayings), epistles or letters to specific individuals or groups, and apocalyptic literature which warns of cataclysmic events. We also need to understand whether the text is literal or figurative and if the latter, what it represents.

Wisdom literature often contains metaphorical and poetic language that cannot be understood as straightforward teachings.

The Psalms are Hebrew poetry and virtually all poetry is well known for its figurative language which is not meant to be taken literally, but used to draw vivid mental images. For example, words are neither 'wind' as William Shakespeare said, nor 'bullets' as George Savile did. Both expressions simply paint a colorful image of the thought the author was attempting to convey. Besides which, the psalms are often expressions of emotions and must be read as such. So let's not get carried away when the Psalmist said he was "brought forth in iniquity" and conceived in sin.

See  Original Sin.. Fact Or Fable? Filthy Rags and None That Seeketh?  

Apocalyptic literature, with its generous use of some often really bizarre symbolism often presents the most challenges. See Overview of Revelation

Parables are short, simple, colorful, and easily remembered stories were used in the Bible to emphasize spiritual lessons. However, they have to be rightly interpreted which has to be done in harmony with other teachings. (An outstanding example of a parable being completely misinterpreted is the one our Lord told about The Rich Man and Lazarus. Since people do not go to heaven or hell based on their financial status we know that the parable is not literal. (Sadly, the traditional interpretation uses preconceived ideas to decide that certain parts of the story are literal).

C) Not History as We Understand It
The historical portions of the Bible were never meant to be precise chronological records. The narrative, including parts of the Old Testament and the Gospels, often just touches on the 'high points' as it were. And as a history book the Bible often records people's words and actions without necessarily approving of what they said or did. As a non technical book, the Bible often rounds off numbers.

D) No Grasp Of The Big Picture
But, perhaps most of all, the skeptics seem to have an abysmal lack of knowledge about Christianity itself which, by the way, is not a "handbook for life". And, although the Word Faith Movement seems to think otherwise, is certainly not based on unconnected verses scattered through the pages of the Bible. Much to the contrary, no teaching or story in the Scriptures is isolated but exists in perfect harmony with all the others. Only when we weave the many strands together (a task not quite as difficult as it sounds), do we become aware of the rich and complex tapestry that tells the story of God's dealing with man... from creation to the end of this world as we know it. And when one can step back and see the big picture the question of whether Solomon had 500 or 5000 stalls for his horses fades into oblivion. 

See Context is CRUCIAL   The Word Faith Movement   And Section   Reading and Understanding Your Bible

However, what I find extremely hypocritical is how so many critics unquestioningly accept discrepancies in other ancient books ...

Accepted Discrepancies In Other Ancient Books
It is amazing how many people have little problem accepting other old documents as true and authentic history despite the fact that many of them contain plenty of discrepancies and contradictions and are nowhere near as old as the Bible is. I'd like to point out one outstanding example...

Jona Lendering is a Dutch historian and author of books on antiquity. His site Livius.org describes the Carthagian military leader Hannibal (247-182 BCE) as one of the greatest military leaders in history and goes on to say that his "most famous campaign took place during the Second Punic War (218-202), when he caught the Romans off guard by crossing the Alps". The page then shows the two main texts regarding the crossing side by side and says (Emphasis Added)..."There are so many similarities that we can be sure that both authors shared the same source. On the other hand, there are striking differences" [01]

One example given of the differences is ...

    Polybius of Megalopolis states that on the eleventh day, Hannibal's soldiers could see Italy from the top of the pass, and started at their descent after a dramatic speech by their commander, while Titus Livy writes that they saw Italy (and listened to the speech) on the twelfth day, while they were already descending. [02]

Yet, in spite of the discrepancies in the two accounts, I do not know of any one who doubts that Hannibal did in fact cross the Alps and engage in battle with the Romans. What day Italy came into sight or when exactly Hannibal made his speech is held to be of no consequence.

Why then are different standards applied to the Bible?


Examples of Some of the Differences and Discrepancies in The Old Testament
Please note that this is not intended to be a comprehensive list of every discrepancy in the Old Testament that has been tackled in detail by many other Christian authors, but a few examples of some of the problems. However, on occasion, the 'explanations' put forth by Christian apologists seem like a stretch... even to me. I believe that (at least in some cases) it is far wiser to confess that either copyist errors must be involved or there are details that we are unaware of. Either way, what is important to remember is that most of the variations are very minor and do not alter a single teaching or doctrine of the Bible


Scribal Error
The books of the Bible are some of the best attested ancient documents we have in our possession (especially true when it comes to the New Testament but they are also some of the oldest. Without benefit of printing presses, copying machines, or even paper, the Old Testament was hand copied countless times over many centuries... this momentous task undertaken by devout Jews who believed they were copying the very word of God and were therefore extremely meticulous. See The Bible Then and Now

However, regardless of the devotion of the scribes, one cannot expect human error to never have crept in. It is impossible to avoid every slip of the pen when copying page after page after page. A human being with tired eyes can very easily misread the text. Other problems include faded 'ink', flaking parchment etc. Numerals presented problems of their own. Some of the earlier writing styles used a combination of strokes to indicate units, tens and hundreds that could easily be misread.

However, it should be noted that when it came to the names of kings of other nations, the Old Testament was often far more accurate than many other ancient documents. See The Names of The Kings HERE


Numerical Discrepancies

An outstanding example of the similarity of some Hebrew letters (which had a numerical value) is whether God offered David seven or three years of famine

    So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, "Shall seven years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days' pestilence in your land? Now consider and see what answer I shall return to Him who sent me." (2 Samuel 24:13 NASB)

    either three years of famine, or three months to be swept away before your foes, while the sword of your enemies overtakes you, or else three days of the sword of the Lord, even pestilence in the land, and the angel of the Lord destroying throughout all the territory of Israel.' Now, therefore, consider what answer I shall return to Him who sent me." (1 Chronicles 21:12 NASB)

Gimel is the third letter of the Hebrew alphabet resembling an upside down "y". Zayin, or Zain, is the seventh letter which resembles the English "7" with a crooked shaft. In other words, one tiny stroke distinguishes one number from the other.

Added to this was the problem that the only material available at the time of the writing of the Old Testament (approximately between the 17th and the 5th century BC) was Papyrus, made from the pith of an aquatic reed which, obviously, decayed very quickly.

Did Solomon's "Sea" hold 2,000 or 3,000 baths of water?
Although it seems extremely large for the stated purpose, the author of Chronicles tell us that the bronze "sea" Solomon built in the temple premises was for the priests to wash in, which means it probably corresponded with the Laver built by Moses that stood in front of the altar ( Exodus 30:18-21). However, there is a discrepancy in how much water this "sea" could hold.

    It was a hand breadth thick, and its brim was made like the brim of a cup, as a lily blossom; it could hold two thousand baths.  (1 Kings 7:26 NASB)

    It was a hand breadth thick, and its brim was made like the brim of a cup, like a lily blossom; it could hold 3,000 baths. (2 Chronicles 4:5 NASB)

There is also an discrepancy in the circumference of the 'sea'. See Alleged Scientific Discrepancies below

Did David capture 7,000 or 1,700 horsemen?

    David captured from him 1,700 horsemen and 20,000 foot soldiers; and David hamstrung the chariot horses, but reserved enough of them for 100 chariots. (2 Samuel 8:4 NASB)

    David took from him 1,000 chariots and 7,000 horsemen and 20,000 foot soldiers, and David hamstrung all the chariot horses, but reserved enough of them for 100 chariots.  (1 Chronicles 18:4 NASB)

Were There 500,000 or 470,000 fighting men in Judah?

    And Joab gave the number of the registration of the people to the king; and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men. (2 Samuel 24:9 NASB)

    Joab gave the number of the census of all the people to David. And all Israel were 1,100,000 men who drew the sword; and Judah was 470,000 men who drew the sword.  (1 Chronicles 21:5 NASB)

Apparently Joab did not complete the census leaving out the tribes of Levi and Benjamin.

    But he did not number Levi and Benjamin among them, for the king's command was abhorrent to Joab.  (1 Chronicles 21:6 NASB)

    Joab the son of Zeruiah had begun to count them, but did not finish; and because of this, wrath came upon Israel, and the number was not included in the account of the chronicles of King David. (1 Chronicles 27:24 NASB)

Was Ahaziah 22 or 42 when he began to rule over Judah?
For those that read the King James version....

    Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Athaliah, the daughter of Omri king of Israel. (2 Kings 8:26 KJV)

    Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Athaliah the daughter of Omri. (2 Chronicles 22:2 KJV)

A few verses earlier in Kings we are told that Ahaziah's father Joram ben Ahab was 32 when he became King. He ruled for 8 years which would have made him 40 when he died. If, as is very likely, Ahaziah immediately took over the throne, he could not have possibly been 42 years old. Obviously, a scribal error in 2 Chronicles 22:2 puts Ahaziah's age at 42 when he ascended to the throne. This has been corrected in some more recent versions.


An Example of Other Equally Minor Discrepancies
Was Michal, Saul's daughter Barren, Or Did She Have 5 Sons?
There are two seemingly contradictory verses regarding Michal's offspring or lack thereof...

    Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.  (2 Samuel 6:23 KJV)

    But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up (Heb. ylad) for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite: (2 Samuel 21:8 KJV)

I do not believe that as some suggest and as the King James version has translated it, 2 Samuel 21:8 could mean that Michal 'brought up' the five sons of her sister Merab. Ylad, the Hebrew word used occurs just over 400 times in the Old Testament and not once (that I could find) does it mean anything else that giving birth to.

Since other verses make it very clear that Michal was married to David not Adriel and that she had no offspring, the Jewish copyist apparently put down the name of the wrong sister in 2 Samuel 21:8. It was Merab not Michal who was married to Adriel with whom she had five sons. Note that some translations, including the NASB, the NIV (New International Version), and the ESV (English Standard Version) use Merab in 2 Samuel 21:8.


Judging An Ancient Book By Modern Standards
Fowl do not 'creep' or go on all fours

Leviticus 11 specifies animals that the Jews were not permitted to eat. The King James version of verses 20-21 says

    All fowls (Heb. ph) that creep (Heb. sherets), going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you. Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth;

The Hebrew word translated 'fowl' is ph (Strong's 5775), which is derived from ph, which means "to fly".

The problem here is we assume that God follows our methods of classifying animals. News flash! He doesn't.

Take a look at Leviticus 11:13-19 which is a list of the "birds" that the Jews were forbidden from eating. Included in this list are the eagle, vulture, ostrich, owl, seagull etc. However, the last named "bird" is a bat, which we classify as a mammal because bats nurse their young. However, since Moses hadn't heard of the Linnaean Classification System he listed bats right along with birds. As said by Apologetics Press,

    God did not classify animals 3,500 years ago according to our modern classification system. As far back as Creation, God has divided animals into very basic, natural groups. He made aquatic and aerial creatures on day five and terrestrial animals on day six (Genesis 1:20-23,24-25).

    Similarly, in the first 23 verses of Leviticus 11, God divided the creatures into land animals (11:2-8), animals "that are in the water" (11:9-12), "birds" (11:13-19), and flying insects (11:20-23). He did not divide animals into mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. In fact, the group of "creeping things" mentioned later in Leviticus 11 (vs. 29-30; cf. Genesis 1:24-25) includes both mammals (e.g., mice) and reptiles (e.g., lizards). Clearly then, God divided animals according to their locomotion and environment rather than whether or not they have hair, lay eggs, and nurse their young.

As they also note,

    "bats are placed at the end of the list of birds and just before the list of flying insects. This placement is entirely proper for the only living "flying creature" that is neither a true bird nor an insect". [03]

What the Old Testament called "fowl" are creatures that have wings and can fly (regardless of number of legs). It is interesting to note that in the first five books of the Old Testament the word "fowl is used 21 times, However, since only six of these occurrences specifically mention "fowl of the air", it seems very likely that the OT was distinguishing between two types of fowl.

In other words when in Leviticus 11:20 Moses spoke about "fowls (Heb. ph) that creep (Heb. sherets), going upon all four", it would have made far more sense for the King James translators to use the words 'flying insects'. However, if one examines the etymology of the word one can understand why they used 'fowl'.

The English word "fowl" came from flug-la-, literally "flyer," from the same root as Old English fleogan, modern fly. The narrower sense of "domestic hen or rooster", or even (in the US) ducks and geese was first recorded in the 1570s.  [04] In other words, the word "fowl" is now restricted to larger, edible birds, but was used to refer to all flying creatures.

Which brings us to yet another supposed problem with Leviticus 11:20...

Insects Do Not Have Four Legs.
It is a reasonable assertion that the ancient Israelites were quite capable of counting legs so why would Moses use the expression "on all fours" in relation to insects?

Perhaps for the same reason we use the word "centipede", which is derived from the Latin prefix centi (hundred), and pes (foot), and "millipede" formed from the Latin mille (thousand) and pes (foot). Despite the name, centipedes can have from under 20 to over 300 legs, and no known millipede has 1,000 legs.

Or perhaps for the same reason we refer to toddlers crawling on all fours, although they do not have four legs.

It's an expression!  Moses was not writing a scientific paper on the anatomy of insects.

Do Rabbits 'Chew The Cud'?
Much has been made of the fact that the Bible appears to say that rabbits "chew the cud" - a perfect example of how a supposed error is more easily raised than answered. (Please note neither I, nor anyone else I know of, has any idea what a "Shaphan" is).

    the rabbit also, for though it chews (Heb. lh) cud, it does not divide the hoof, it is unclean to you; (Leviticus 11:6 NASB)

    Nevertheless, you are not to eat of these among those which chew (Heb. lh) the cud, or among those that divide the hoof in two: the camel and the rabbit and the shaphan, for though they chew the cud, they do not divide the hoof; they are unclean for you. (Deuteronomy 14:7 NASB)

Chew?
While most translations use the word "chew", literal versions render the Hebrew lh as "bringing up".

    the hare, (for it is bringing up (Heb. lh) the cud (Heb. grh) yet does not bisect the hoof; it is unclean for you), (Leviticus 11:6 CLV)

    and the hare, though it is bringing up (Heb. lh) the cud (Heb. grh), yet the hoof hath not divided-- unclean it is to you; (Leviticus 11:6 YLT)

With good reason... lh was used close to 900 times in the Old Testament in a variety of senses but, more often than not, when speaking of something that 'rose' or 'came up'. For example, in the first verse quoted morning dawns when the sun rises or comes up.

    When morning dawned (Heb. lh), the angels urged Lot, saying, "Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city."  (Genesis 19:15 NASB)

    and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the valley, and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land ascended (Heb. lh) like the smoke of a furnace. (Genesis 19:28 NASB)

    Harness the horses, And mount (Heb. lh) the steeds, And take your stand with helmets on! Polish the spears, Put on the scale-armor!  (Jeremiah 46:4 NASB)

In rabbits (and other animals) food passes through the esophagus, stomach, small intestine (where some absorption of the nutrients takes place), and then into the colon. However, rabbits have a large and well-developed pouch, called the cecum, at the beginning of the large intestine. This is which is where cecotropes - the nutrient-packed, partially digested, soft dark brown glossy pellets are made. These are passed out through the anus, then re-ingested.

    "the material resulting from the fermentation of food in a part of the digestive system called the 'cecum.' Cecotropes are nutrient-rich and are passed out of the body, like feces, but are reingested by the animal so the nutrients can be absorbed. Cecotropes have twice the protein, and half of the fiber of the typical hard fecal pellet. They also contain high levels of vitamin K and the B vitamins"... Without this process, many of the nutrients in the food would be lost and passed through the colon, and out as typical feces. If rabbits, guinea pigs, and rodents are not allowed to eat the cecotropes, they will suffer from malnutrition".

However, in all this fascinating information about the digestive process of rabbits, there is one particular point to be especially noted. Cecotrophy, as the site goes on to say (Emphasis Added)

     "is similar to the process of ruminant animals chewing their cud. Cows, goats, and other ruminants chew their food once, swallow it, and then the digestive process continues in the rumen where the fiber starts to be broken down by bacteria. When these animals chew their cud, the material from the rumen is brought up through the esophagus to the mouth, where it is re-chewed and swallowed. By repeating this portion of the digestive process, ruminants, too, receive more nutrition from their food". [05]

Cattle regurgitate their food from their first stomach, Rabbits by moving the food back into the cecum, which is in the opposite direction to the usual path. The principle is the same.

Long before man discovered details of the rabbit's digestive system, the Bible knew exactly what it was talking about when it said rabbits "brought up" partially digested food. This is hardly surprising as it is the word of the One who created the rabbit in the first place.


Lack of Cultural and/or Geographical Knowledge
Ishmaelites or Midianites
An outstanding example of this category is when critics pick up on two separate verses in Genesis one of which says Joseph was sold to Potiphar by the Midianites. The other says it was the Ishmaelites who did so.

    Meanwhile, the Midianites sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, Pharaoh's officer, the captain of the bodyguard.  (Genesis 37:36 NASB)

    Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the bodyguard, bought him from the Ishmaelites, who had taken him down there.  (Genesis 39:1 NASB)

Joseph was Abraham's great grandson (Abraham > Isaac > Jacob> Joseph). Isaac's parents were Abraham and Sarah, whereas both Midian and Ishmael were sons of Abraham by different wives. Ishmael was the son of Abraham and Sarah's maid Hagar. Midian was born of Abraham and Keturah (Genesis 25:2).

However, the accusation hinges on two premises. 1.) assumes that the author of Genesis was such a moron that in about five minutes he forgot who he said sold Joseph, and the author of Judges (See Judges 8:22-26 ) made the same mistake just as quickly. 2) The Jews were so stupid that this "error' went unchallenged for centuries.

Or is there a third option? Although we do not know exactly why considering the Bible often uses "Ishmaelites" and "Midianites" interchangeably WE don't know very much about these tribes and how they interacted. It is possible that the two tribes were still very small just two or three generations after Ishmael and Midian were born and not much, if any distinction was made between them.)

Where Did Aaron Die?
The books of Deuteronomy and Numbers seem to disagree as to where Aaron, the high priest, died. Deuteronomy 10:6 says he died in Moserah, while Numbers 20:27-28 and 33:38 say he died on the top of Mount Hor.

The problem being that no one can call this a discrepancy unless they know exactly where Moserah was - its location now something of a mystery. For all we know it could have been a place at the foot of Mount Hor where the sons of Israel camped.

In any case, since the first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch) were written by Moses, then this would have an extremely silly mistake to make considering that Aaron was his own brother. Even IF Moses hadn't written the Pentateuch, no other author would not have that mistake considering Aaron was the high priest and a very important man in Israel. It would be a similar situation to someone writing that Abraham Lincoln was killed in Ohio rather than Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C.

But was Moses really the author of the Pentateuch?

There are numerous indications in the Old Testament that he was. See, for example, Exodus 24:4, 34:27. Numbers 33:2, Deuteronomy 31:9 and Joshua 8:32.

In the New Testament, it is obvious that the Sadducees considered Moses the author when they asked Jesus a question which began with "Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man's brother dies..." (Mark 12:19), while Philip told his brother Nathanael that they found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote (John 1:45). In Romans 10:5, Paul paraphrases Moses' writing in Leviticus 18:5 beginning with the words "For Moses writes". Jesus Himself referred to the book of Exodus as "the book of Moses" ( Mark 7:10) but, most significantly, He also said...

    "For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. "But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?" (John 5:46-47 NASB)

God is Not All Powerful
Based on the following verse, many skeptics claim is that an all powerful God would not be defeated by iron chariots. (Note: Judah was Jacob's fourth son by his wife Leah)

    Now the Lord was with Judah, and they took possession of the hill country; but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley because they had iron chariots.  (Judges 1:19 NASB)

There are two possible refutations to this accusation. 1) The original Bible did not have chapter and verse numbers both of which were added much later in order to make it easier to locate specific verses or remember where they are. However, there are numerous instances in which the break has been put in most inappropriate places separating material that should have been grouped together. These artificial breaks interrupt what was otherwise a single subject or chain of thought. It is therefore entirely possible that verses 18 and 19 should not have been separated. Read them as one.

    And Judah took Gaza with its territory and Ashkelon with its territory and Ekron with its territory. Now the Lord was with Judah. And they took possession of the hill country; but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley because they had iron chariots. Judges 1:18-19 NASB

In other words, the Lord was with Judah when he took Gaza and Ashkelon, but not with him when he came against the inhabitants of the valley. There may be some support for this in Joshua 17:18, in which he tells three of the tribes that the "hill country" would be theirs.

    but the hill country shall be yours. For though it is a forest, you shall clear it, and to its farthest borders it shall be yours; for you shall drive out the Canaanites, even though they have chariots of iron and though they are strong."  (Joshua 17:18 NASB)

While we cannot be dogmatic about this being the right explanation it is just plain silly to believe that a book that, from cover to cover, repeatedly proclaims an all powerful God but in one isolated verse admits He could be defeated by iron chariots.


Alleged Scientific Discrepancies
As Dave Greear says in his article Evidences of the Christian Faith

    An example of an alleged scientific inaccuracy is the case of the molten sea in II Chronicles 4:2. The sea is described as round with a diameter of 10 cubits (approximately 180 inches) and a circumference of 30 cubits (approximately 540 inches). Geometry tells us that the circumference of a circle is pi (3.14) x diameter. In this case the circumference should equal 31.4 cubits (approximately 565.2 inches) rather than 30 cubits.

    Some Bible scholars simply explain away the discrepancies in the numbers by claiming that accurate measurements were not possible in that day. However, we should likely assume that if the people of that day had the capability to make a perfectly round structure of this size, then surely they had the capability to measure it with reasonable accuracy.

    A much better solution has been proposed by Dr. Harold Lindsell in his book The Battle for the Bible. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1976, pp. 165-166.) He notes that the molten sea was about a handbreadth (approximately 4 inches) in thickness. So there was both an outside perimeter from which the diameter was likely measured and an inside perimeter from which the circumference was likely measured. If we subtract 8 inches from the outside diameter of 180 inches we obtain an inside diameter of 172 inches. When this number is multiplied by pi we obtain a circumference of 540.08 inches which is very compatible with the measured value to 540 inches. So we can conclude that the error here was in many scholars' understanding of the calculations, not in the Biblical data! [06]

See Scientific Facts In The Bible
Why are we forgetting that the Scriptures are replete with statements that demonstrate scientific knowledge that predates (often by many hundred of years) corresponding discoveries made by the modern scientific world. Given that men who wrote the Bible were not scientists, and that the scientific information at their disposal was both sparse and generally misleading, the accuracy of the Bible can only be attributed to the inspiration of God."


Not Understanding Biblical Terms and Literary Devices
Many accusations of mistakes and discrepancies arise when the critic does not understand some of the terms involved. As said earlier,

    Human language is not limited to one mode of expression. So there is no reason to suppose that only one literary genre was used in a divinely inspired Book. The Bible reveals a number of literary devices: Whole books are written as poetry (e.g., Job, Psalms, Proverbs). The Synoptic Gospels feature parables. In Galatians 4, Paul utilizes an allegory. The New Testament abounds with metaphors (2 Cor. 3:2-3; James 3:6), similes (Matt. 20:1; James 1:6), hyperbole (John 21:25; 2 Cor. 3:2; Col. 1:23), and even poetic figures (Job 41:1). Jesus employed satire (Matt. 19:24; 23:24). Figures of speech are common throughout the Bible. [Dr. Norman Geisler. Alleged Errors in The Bible. HERE]

God 'Rested'
Perhaps the simplest example of this category is when critics pick up on the word 'rested' in Genesis and ask why a Supreme Being needed 'rest'.

    By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested (Heb. shbath) on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. (Genesis 2:2 NASB)

The English word 'rest' tends to conjure up visions of fatigue or tiredness (I rested after taking a long walk). However,the Bible, Genesis was not written in English which is why we should not rely solely on the translations but examine the original language used - Hebrew in this case. The word translated 'rest' is shabath (Sabbath) which, more often than not, is translated "cease" in the Old Testament, because that is exactly what the word means.

    Then these three men ceased (Heb. shabath) answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. (Job 32:1 NASB)

    The joy of our hearts has ceased (Heb. shabath); Our dancing has been turned into mourning. (Lamentations 5:15 NASB)

    So I sent messengers to them, saying, "I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop (Heb. shabath) while I leave it and come down to you?"  (Nehemiah 6:3 NASB)

On the Sabbath, Jews are not required to 'rest' (ie. loll in armchairs all day) but to cease from working which is exactly what God did - on the seventh day of creation He ceased what He was doing.

God's Anger Does or Does Not Last Forever
Much is made of verses which seem to say that the Lord's anger lasts forever although others indicate that it does not. The verses most commonly quoted to support this alleged discrepancy both come from the book of Jeremiah.

    'For I am gracious,' declares the Lord; 'I will not be angry forever'. (Jeremiah 3:12 NASB)

    And you will, even of yourself, let go of your inheritance that I gave you; And I will make you serve your enemies In the land which you do not know; For you have kindled a fire in My anger which will burn forever. (Jeremiah 17:4 NASB)

Here's a novel concept - read Jeremiah 3:12 in its entirety. It says

    Go and proclaim these words toward the north and say, 'Return, faithless Israel,' declares the Lord; 'I will not look upon you in anger. For I am gracious,' declares the Lord; 'I will not be angry forever. (Jeremiah 3:12 NASB)

In other words, the Lord said He would not look upon the nation in anger provided they returned to Him. This is something that is repeated over and over again in Scripture, repentance being a linchpin or requirement to be saved from the wrath of the Father. Jeremiah's words about the Lord's anger burning forever has to be read as hyperbole, something that his audience understood all too well but modern people seem not to.  

Liars... Condemned or Condoned?
Many believe that the book of Revelation clearly says that liars will be cast into the lake of fire along with other types of sinners, such as murderers, sorcerers and idolaters.

    "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars (Gr. pseudes), their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."  (Revelation 21:8 NASB)

However, the Old Testament has at least two accounts of people who lied, but whose actions were apparently approved of.

1) When the spies were sent to spy on Jericho they sheltered in the house of a woman called Rahab. However, when the king told her to hand over the men she told his messengers that they had left at dark and she didn't know which way they had gone. Because Rahab lived on the city wall after the king's men left she let the spies down by a rope through the window.

    James, the brother of Christ, had this to say about the incident... "In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? (James 2:25 NASB)

2) When the king of Egypt ordered the Hebrew midwives to put all male babies to death they, fearing God, did not obey, but told him that the Hebrew women being "vigorous" delivered before the midwives got there (Exodus 1:15-19).

    Verse 20 says "So God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied, and became very mighty".

So, is lying condemned or not?

The clue lies is in the Greek word pseudes translated "liars" in Revelation 21:8. The word, which means erroneous, deceitful, wicked or false, has been used only two other times in the New Testament. However, both examples indicate that there is a little more to pseudes than simply telling an untruth.

    a) They put forward false (Gr. pseudes) witnesses who said, "This man incessantly speaks against this holy place and the Law;  (Acts 6:13 NASB)

    b) I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false (Gr. pseudes); (Revelation 2:2 NASB)

In the first case, the false witness appeared before the council and lied about something they claimed to have heard. In the second case, the "evil" people involved were deceptively pretending to be apostles that in Biblical usage, is an 'ambassador of the Gospel'. Then, as now, false apostles or preachers do an untold amount of harm.

See C. Peter Wagner and The New Apostolic Reformation. Apostles Or Deluded Impostors

And Prophets Or Deluded Charlatans

In both cases pseudes involves someone falsely testifying for or against someone or something. On the other hand, a 'lie' is simply a statement that the person uttering it knows to be untrue.  "Lies" and "false witness" are two very different things... The Ten Commandments condemn the latter when it says

    "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor". (Exodus 20:16 NASB)

It is hardly a coincidence that this commandment comes smack bang in between the one not to steal and the one that says we should not covet any of our neighbor's possessions. All three deal with harming your neighbor in one way or another.

For all those who loudly proclaim that all "lying" is wrong, I have to ask what you would do if you found yourself in Nazi Germany and the Gestapo asked if you had seen any Jews. In order to avoid 'lying' would you tell them that a Jew was hiding in your attic

No?

Well Rahab wasn't going to allow the spies to be killed. Neither were the Hebrew midwives going to allow new born babies to be taken away and slaughtered.

Similarly...

Thou Shalt Not Kill Or Thou Shalt Not Murder
One verse in Exodus has the Lord giving instructions to kill the idol worshipers, whereas just a few chapters earlier, one of the Ten Commandments seems to specifically condemn killing

    He said to them, "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, 'Every man of you put his sword upon his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate in the camp, and kill (Heb. hrag) every man his brother, and every man his friend, and every man his neighbor.'" (Exodus 32:27 NASB)

    Thou shalt not kill (Heb. rtsach). (Exodus 20:13 KJV)

The Hebrew rtsach in the second example is used almost 50 times in the Old Testament and is usually translated 'manslayer'. In other words it means murder - the intentional killing of another human especially with premeditated malice. Rtsach occurs particularly often in Numbers 35 which deals with intentional and unintentional murder. The chapter names several "cities of refuge" to the offender could flee to escape vengeance until he could be judged. Note someone who killed their neighbor in ignorance was not to be put to death (Deuteronomy 19: 4-6)

It is little wonder then that more recent translations render Exodus 20:13 as "You shall not murder".

However, the underlying question here is whether God violates His own commandment when He destroyed almost every living thing on the face of the earth in the flood, when He ordered the killing of the inhabitants of Canaan and, obviously, when His wrath is unleashed on this world in the days to come. For more about this see

Can God Kill the Innocent?

Joshua's Conquests .. Holy War or Genocide?


Zero Knowledge of The More Complex Aspects of The Bible

The Law Was, Or Was Not, Superseded By The Christian Dispensation
(Unfortunately this is an issue that has long been a bone of contention in the church)

Many Christians struggle with the tension between the Old Testament emphasis on regulations, and the New Testament emphasis on grace. Few have any idea what our relationship to the Old Testament should be, especially when it comes to the Old Testament Laws (particularly the Ten Commandments), and the keeping of the Sabbath and/or other Feasts of the Old Covenant.

This complex subject has been dealt with in great detail on the page Jesus and The Law

Was David's Throne to Endure Forever or Was It Cast Down?
The covenant God made with David promised that one of his descendants would sit on the throne forever.

    "When your days are fulfilled that you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up one of your descendants after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. "He shall build for Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever. "I will be his father and he shall be My son; and I will not take My loving kindness away from him, as I took it from him who was before you. "But I will settle him in My house and in My kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever."' (1 Chronicles 17:11-14 NASB)

The Psalm can be divided in two. In the first part (verses 1-37) the psalmist speaks of the covenant that God had with king David... that his throne would endure forever. The second part (from verse 38 on) laments the fact that notwithstanding these promises the crown has been profaned, the kingdom of Judah overthrown, the land has been possessed by strangers and much of the nation is in oppressive captivity.

The Psalmist apparently believed that God has abandoned His people when he wrote, "You have made his splendor to cease and cast his throne to the ground" (V. 44). However, this was far from the case. God saying that David's throne would be established forever did not literally mean that the human kings of Judah would forever reign. Much to the contrary Jesus who was of the line of David has always been destined to inherit the throne for all eternity.

    God told Ezekiel that no one would wear the crown until "He comes whose right it is, and I will give it to Him.' (Ezekiel 21:27)

    The prophet Jeremiah born some 400 years after David, lived in the final days of a crumbling nation and witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem. Yet he prophesied that "at that time" a "righteous Branch of David" would spring forth (Jeremiah 33:15). Isaiah echoed these word saying "Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit. (Isaiah 11:1 NASB). If you read Isaiah 11 in its entirety, it becomes very obvious that the prophet was not referring to a human ruler, which could never accomplish what this one will.

    The angel Gabriel told Mary that Jesus would be the Son of the Most High and the Lord God would give Him the throne of His father David, and He would reign over the house of Jacob forever  (Luke 1:32 NASB)

The throne is and always has been intended for Jesus. Not only was Jesus commonly called "Son of David", but Luke made it abundantly clear that He was the one who would inherit David's throne (Also See Acts 2:30)

    He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; (Luke 1:32 NASB)

And for those who look around them and (understandably) ask what kind of reign this is, we have to remember that He will only finally rule at the end of this age, when He defeats His enemies and returns to earth to take His rightful place... events which will be heralded by the 7th Trumpet.

For more on the three stage emergence of the Kingdom, See The Kingdom When?

All of which brings up the question of whether or not Jesus is eligible to sit on David's throne.


Is Jesus Barred From Being The Heir to David's Throne?
The Curse Of Jeconiah?
In Jeremiah 22:24-30 the Lord pronounced a curse on king Jeconiah (king Josiah's grandson also called Jehoiachin or Coniah) and his descendants declaring them ineligible to sit upon the throne of David as the king of Israel. Thus many believe Jesus who was a descendant of king Jeconiah was disqualified.

Jeremiah did specifically address three men each of whom was king of Judah at one time or another. They were Josiah's sons - Shallum and Jehoiakim (beginning in verses 11 and 18 respectively), and Josiah's grandson -Jeconiah (verse 24 to 30). Jeremiah listed their sins along with the judgment God pronounced on them.

But reading Jeremiah 22 in its entirety makes it evident that the prophecy was addressed to the king of Judah and his people not only to any specific king. The Father was urging them to practice justice and righteousness and warning them of the fate that would befall both them and the land if they did not (Vs. 5-9).

    (1) Thus says the Lord, "Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and there speak this word  (2) and say, 'Hear the word of the Lord, O king of Judah, who sits on David's throne, you and your servants and your people who enter these gates. (3)  'Thus says the Lord, "Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. Also do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place. (Jeremiah 22:1-3 NASB)

The final verses of the chapter are addressed to Jeconiah

    "As I live," declares the Lord, "even though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were a signet ring on My right hand, yet I would pull you off; ...  "Thus says the Lord, 'Write this man down childless, A man who will not prosper in his days; For no man of his descendants will prosper sitting on the throne of David or ruling again in Judah.'" (Jeremiah 22:24, 30 NASB)

And this is exactly what happened. Judah was never again an independent, sovereign state and Jeconiah was the last legitimate king of Judah. His only successor was Mattaniah his uncle who was not entitled to the throne but was made king by Nebuchadnezzar (the occupying Babylonian king) who also changed his name to Zedekiah. (2 Kings 24:17-20). 

Which brings us to

Jeconiah's grandson Zerubbabel
There is no doubt that Zerubbabel was a man of God who led the first group of captives from Babylon back to Jerusalem. Through the prophet Haggai he was directed to begin construction on the temple which he did (Ezra 3:2,8 etc). In his day provisions were made for the maintenance of the singers, gatekeepers and Levites (Nehemiah 12:47) and he enrolled the returnees according to their genealogies.

Remember that God told king Jeconiah that if he were a signet ring (a symbol of authority. See Genesis 41:42) on the Father's right hand, He would pull him off. But here is what is interesting. It cannot possibly be coincidence that the prophet Haggai told Zerubbabel (Jeconiah's grandson) that God would make him a "signet ring" on His hand (Haggai 2:23).  

Although he was not a king, Zerubbabel was the only person ever referred to as "the prince of Judah" Sheshbazzar being the Babylonian version of Zerubbabel's name (Ezra 1:8). More than anything else he was a type of Christ. As Albert Barnes wrote, Zerubbabel brought his

    "...people from Babylon, as Christ delivered us from sin, death, and hell: he built the temple as Christ built the Church; he protected his people against the Samaritans who would hinder the building  as Christ protects His Church"

So what happened to the curse thought to have been put on Jeconiah that obviously did not apply to his grandson and many years later- to Jesus?

There are several possibilities

1.) God Lifted The Curse?
Several rabbinic sources claim that Jeconiah repented and that God forgave him and lifted the curse. What we know for certain is that Jeconiah was a bad king doing "evil in the sight of the Lord" just as his father before him had done (2 Kings 24:9). However when, Nebuchadnezzar besieged Babylon just three months into Jeconiah's reign (2 Kings 24:8) the king, probably hoping to appease Nebuchadnezzar, surrendered quickly. Although Nebuchadnezzar took thousands of people into exile and looted all the valuable of the land, Jeconiah's quick surrender must have spared the Judeans much suffering.

    And Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon came to the city, while his servants were besieging it. Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he and his mother and his servants and his captains and his officials. So the king of Babylon took him captive in the eighth year of his reign. (2 Kings 24:11-12 NASB)

Nebuchadnezzar also took the leading men of the land, all the men of valor, the craftsmen and the smiths into exile in Babylon, He also took the treasures of the king's house and all the treasures of the house of the LORD (2 Kings 24:13-16)

Jeconiah didn't seem to be ill treated although he was captive for many years. A clay tablet found in the ruins of ancient Babylon near the Ishtar Gate in Iraq mentions Jeconiah king of Judah and his sons as recipients of food rations in 592-569 B.C. including oil and barley. It called him Yaukin king of the land of Judea.  See Footnote 1

The Babylonians recognized Jechoniah as the legitimate king of Judah (2 Kings 25:27-30) to the end of his life. When Evil-merodach became king he released Jechoniah from prison, spoke kindly to him and set his throne above the throne of the kings who were with him in Babylon. Jehoiachin changed his prison clothes and had his meals in the king's presence regularly all the days of his life. He was also given a regular allowance by the king. (2 Kings 25:27-30).

2.) The Curse was limited to Jeconiah's lifetime and his immediate descendants
Jeremiah 22:30 acknowledges the fact that Jeconiah would have descendants (seven sons according to 1 Chronicles 3:17-18, but was to be entered into the genealogical records as childless 

    "Thus says the LORD, 'Write this man down childless, A man who will not prosper in his days; For no man of his descendants will prosper Sitting on the throne of David Or ruling again in Judah.'" (Jeremiah 22:30 NASB)

It is possible, as one train of thought goes, that the words "A man who will not prosper in his days" limits the curse to Jeconiah's lifetime and his immediate children. Being given food rations and later allowed to eat with the king can hardly be construed as "prospering" in his days. Besides which, Jeconiah's "descendants" mentioned in the curse could refer to the king's immediate offspring. We do know that none of his seven sons ever sat on the throne of David.

Note: Zedekiah appointed by Nebuchadnezzar was Jeconiah's uncle, thus not counted as descendent.

    As an aside, Not only did Zedekiah do ill in the sight of the LORD, but he refused to heed Jeremiah. Under him the people mocked the messengers of God, and scoffed at His prophets until the wrath of the LORD was fully aroused. So when Zedekiah rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar there was no Divine protection. The king witnessed the fall of Judah, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, the murder of his family, and was blinded, before being carried away to Babylon bound in shackles. (2 Chronicles 36:12-21 NASB)

3.) Jesus was not a biological descendant of Jeconiah
Jesus was in the legal line of David because he was Joseph's step son but was not of the 'seed' of Jeconiah...

Although Mary was betrothed to Joseph, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit before they came together. An angel convinced him not to send Mary away, telling him that because the Child she was pregnant with was conceived by the Holy Spirit. As the angel said...

    "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel," which translated means, "God with us." (Matthew 1:21-23 NASB)

In other words although Joseph was Jesus' legal father, He was not Jesus' physical father. Jesus,not being a blood descendent of Joseph did not come under the curse. This fits in with the fact that the Lord told the serpent that it would be through the seed of the woman that the serpent's seed would be defeated.

    And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel." (Genesis 3:15 NASB)

The House of David
In order to inherit the throne of David the Messiah had to specifically be a descendant of the monarch, a requirement that was easily fulfilled. Joseph, whose genealogy was recorded in Matthew 1:1-17, was a descendant of Solomon (Jesus was legally if not biologically Joseph's son). However, the Messiah also belonged to the house of David through Mary who was a descendant of Nathan - one of David's other sons (Luke 3:31).

Which brings up the common objection that tribal affiliation is conferred through the birth father only. Two of the commonly quoted verses quoted are

    and they assembled all the congregation together on the first of the second month. Then they registered by ancestry in their families, by their fathers' households, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, head by head,  (Numbers 1:18 NASB)

    For the tribe of the sons of Reuben have received theirs according to their fathers' households, and the tribe of the sons of Gad according to their fathers' households, and the half-tribe of Manasseh have received their possession. (Numbers 34:14 NASB)

The first example only relates how people were counted for a census, which was used for military purposes (Numbers 1:2-3). The second example says that sons received their inheritance from their fathers. However, when a man died without a male heir, the inheritance passed to the daughter or daughters.

When in the Old Testament Zelophehad died without a male heir, his five daughter appealed to Moses saying

    "Why should the name of our father be withdrawn from among his family because he had no son? Give us a possession among our father's brothers."  (Numbers 27: 4 NASB).

Moses then brought their case before the Lord who told him

  'If a man dies and has no son, then you shall transfer his inheritance to his daughter. (Numbers 27:8 NASB)

When through birth or marriage women were affiliated with a particular tribe all their physical possessions belonged to that tribe. Had any of the sisters married someone from one of the other tribes of Israel, all their inheritance would pass to that tribe (Numbers 36:3)  which is why the sisters were instructed to only marry someone from their own tribe, which they did

Through birth Mary was affiliated with her father's tribe of Judah. This did not change after she married Joseph, since he was also of the tribe of Judah.

Note: The genealogies in Matthew 1 and Luke 3 were written while the genealogical records in the Temple were still intact. Considering how important genealogy was to the Jews and how violently most of them disagreed with Jesus' claims, you can bet your life that those temple records were checked very carefully by those who would have given anything to discredit Jesus. Yet, not one single person ever questioned the validity of what Matthew and Luke wrote. So much so that as the author of Hebrews later wrote,

    For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests.  (Hebrews 7:14 NASB)

In summary, Jesus was physically descended from David through Mary, and was the legal son of David through Joseph...without being the 'seed' of Jeconiah.


Two Instances where Old Testament Events Appear to Contradict Statements Made by Jesus

1) Can God Be "Seen" or Not
Many seem to believe that when it comes to God's invisibility, the Bible contradicts itself. Some verses seem to indicate that He cannot be seen, while others unambiguously state that, on occasion in the Old Testament people actually saw Him. Since space prohibits the inclusion of such a detailed piece, please see Has Anyone Ever Seen God?


2) Did Elijah and/or Enoch Ascend to Heaven?
According to the Old Testament book of II Kings the Prophet Elijah was whisked off to 'heaven' in a whirlwind, not in a chariot and horses of fire that merely separated Elijah and his protg Elisha. (2 Kings 2:11). This spectacular event was said to be witnessed not only by Elisha but also by fifty sons of the prophets who were still on the opposite bank of the Jordan. (V. 7)

Most Christians believe that Elijah was actually taken into 'heaven' or God's dwelling place. This is impossible for the simple reason that Jesus clearly stated that "No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man". (John 3:13 NASB). So where did Elijah go?

In our English Old Testaments there is a distinction made between "sky" and "heaven" (or heavens). However, since no such distinction exists in the original Hebrew, it was the translators who decided which of the two English words to use. In all cases only one Hebrew word shmayim was employed although it described three separate areas. 

1) The visible sky where birds fly and clouds float.

    God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (Genesis 1:28 NASB)

2) Outer space - home to planets, stars, galaxies etc..

    And He took him outside and said, "Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them." And He said to him, "So shall your descendants be." (Genesis 15:5 NASB)

3) The third far less tangible place  is where God Himself dwells. In the Old Testament,this heaven was often described by using shmayim twice, which was then translated into "the heaven of the heavens" or "the highest heaven".

     You alone are the Lord. You have made the heavens, the heaven of heavens with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them... (Nehemiah 9:6 NASB)

The word "and" in two of the verses below indicate that two different heavens are being referred to...

     Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it. (Deuteronomy 10:14 NASB)

     But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You, how much less this house which I have built!  (1 Kings 8:27 NASB)

See What And Where is "Heaven"?... Part I

There is a very interesting conversation in 1 Kings 18 that took place between Obadiah and Elijah when the former was sent out during a famine by king Ahab to scour the land for enough grass to keep the horses and mules alive (Vs. 5).

    Note: Because there were 13 Obadiahs in the Old Testament this may or may not be the same minor prophet whose prophesied against Edom in the book that bears his name. All we do know is that this Obadiah was a brave man who hid and fed one hundred prophets in caves when Jezebel was on a rampage. (Vs. 3-4)

While on his mission Obadiah happened to meet Elijah who told him to go to king Ahab and tell him that he (Elijah) was there (Vs. 8). Obadiah protested, telling Elijah that as soon as his back was turned "the Spirit of the Lord" would carry him away and Ahab would surely put Obadiah to death (presumably for lying to him). Apparently, Obadiah was well aware that Elijah could just "disappear".

    "It will come about when I leave you that the Spirit of the Lord will carry you where I do not know; so when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me, although I your servant have feared the LORD from my youth. (1 Kings 18:12 NASB)

Additionally both Elisha and the "sons of the prophets" (See Footnote II) from Bethel and Jericho knew ahead of time that the Lord was going to take Elijah away (2 Kings 2:1-5). Yet these prophets seemed not to be at all aware that he had been transported to the highest heaven, or God's throne. In fact, they offered to go search for him.

    They said to him, "Behold now, there are with your servants fifty strong men, please let them go and search for your master; perhaps the Spirit of the Lord has taken him up and cast him on some mountain or into some valley." And he said, "You shall not send." But when they urged him until he was ashamed, he said, "Send." They sent therefore fifty men; and they searched three days but did not find him. They returned to him while he was staying at Jericho; and he said to them, "Did I not say to you, 'Do not go'?" (2 Kings 2:16-18 NASB)

Most theologians believe that the prophets did not find Elijah because he was now 'in heaven'and Elisha urged them not to undertake the search because he knew this.

But is this true?

If so, it was quite remarkable that just a few years later a letter came from Elijah to king Jehoram, warning him that the Lord was going to strike his people, his sons and his wives with a great calamity because he had not walked in the ways of his father but had killed his own brother who were better than him, and caused Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to play the harlot, (2 Chronicles 21:11-15). Note that Jehoram ruled Judah for eight years, from 848-841 BC (See Chart ). Elijah's ministry was roughly from 870-850 BC - that is he "left" some two years before Jehoram even ascended to the throne.

The verses quoted begin with the words

    "Then a letter (Heb. miktb) came to him from Elijah the prophet saying.... "

The Hebrew miktb means something written... a letter or document. The same Hebrew word is twice used in Exodus 32:16... "The tablets were God's work, and the writing (Heb. miktb) was God's writing (Heb. miktb) engraved on the tablets". I know of no instance when anyone from 'the highest heaven' wrote letters to people on earth. Dreams.. yes, visions.. yes, personal visits... yes. Letters... no.

Josephus certainly got it right. As he said in the Antiquities Of The Jews

    "Now at this time it was that Elijah disappeared from among men, and no one knows of his death to this very day; but he left behind him his disciple Elisha, as we have formerly declared. And indeed, as to Elijah, and as to Enoch, who was before the Deluge, it is written in the sacred books that they disappeared; but so nobody knew that they died." [07]

Enoch
The book of Genesis says...

    So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. Enoch walked with God; and he was not (Heb. ayin), for God took him. (Genesis 5:23-24 NASB)

There are several points to be noted about these two verses....

    1) The expression "all his days" is used eight times in this chapter however, it was always followed by "and he died". For example "So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years, and he died (Vs 5). The only exception to this is Enoch, which should make it perfectly obvious that he didn't die at the end of 365 years that, by the way, was exceptionally young for men of those days... (Seth lived nine hundred and twelve years, Kenan lived nine hundred and ten years, Jared nine hundred and sixty two etc)

    2) Verse 24 does not say where God took Enoch. There is absolutely no evidence that, as so many assume, God 'taking" Enoch means that He took him to heaven.

According to the King James version, Hebrews 11:5 says...

    By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated (Gk. metatithemi) him: for before his translation (Gk. metathesis) he had this testimony, that he pleased God.  (Hebrews 11:5 KJV)

The CLV (Concordant Literal Version) and Young's Literal Translation support the King James version' rendering of this verse, respectively using "transferred" and "translated". Sadly, in accordance with pre-conceived ideas, the translators of the NASB put it this way...

    By faith Enoch was taken up (Gk. metatithemi) so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up (Gk. metatithemi) ; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. (Hebrews 11:5 NASB)

The Greek word, metatithemi, occurs only four other times in the NT.

    And Jacob went down to Egypt and there he and our fathers died. "From there they were removed (Gk. metatithemi) to Shechem and laid in the tomb which Abraham had purchased for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor in Shechem. (Acts 7:15-16 NASB)

    I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting (Gk. metatithemi) Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; (Galatians 1:6 NASB)

    For when the priesthood is changed (Gk. metatithemi), of necessity there takes place a change of law also. (Hebrews 7:12 NASB)

    For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn (Gk. metatithemi) the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.  (Jude 1:4 NASB)

The first two examples indicate something being moved, and the second two indicate change. Since it is unlikely that God changed Enoch, one has to assume that He moved the prophet from one location to the other - not exactly unknown in the Bible.

Ezekiel was moved once by the Spirit of God to Tel-abib on the river Chebar where many of the Jewish exiles lived (Ezekiel 3: 14-15). The second time the prophet was lifted "between earth and heaven" and taken to one of the gates of the Temple (Ezekiel 8:3). This also occurred in the New Testament. After baptizing the eunuch Acts 8:39-40 says Philip was caught, or snatched, away to Azotus, and the eunuch saw him no more.

One can only assume that Enoch continued to live in an unknown location until he eventually died... And yes, the book of Hebrews makes it very clear that he did die.

Did Enoch Die?
In chapter 10 of the New Testament book of Hebrews, the author urged his readers not to throw away their confidence that has great reward. He also tells them that they have "need of endurance" so that, when they have done the will of God, they may receive what was promised" (Hebrews 10:35-36). His point being that they did not in their lifetimes receive what was promised.. the Messiah. However, they did gain approval through their faith (Vs.39). Chapter 11 opens with a definition of faith, then lists a number of heroes of the Old Testament who lived by faith - many of whom accomplished great things.

Among the people listed are Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sara, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, the Israelites in the wilderness and at the fall of Jericho, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David and Samuel and the prophets. However, what we need to take note of is that halfway through the list, verse 13 says

    All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. (Hebrews 11:13 NASB)

Which leaves us with one problem.. Hebrews 11:5 also says that Enoch was 'transferred' (CLV) so that he would not see death. When Jesus clearly taught that "the Son of Man who had descended from heaven was the only one who would ascend into heaven (John:3:13), it is impossible that Enoch was transferred to heaven without tasting death.

There is obviously something here that we don't quite understand, but two possibilities come to mind.

One being that God moved Enoch so that he would not die then and there. Perhaps his life was in danger and he yet had a mission to accomplish somewhere else. This could possibly be related to the fact that as Jude wrote, Enoch preached that the Lord was coming "with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him." (Jude 1:14-15 NASB)


Footnote I
Tablets from the royal archives of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon were unearthed in the ruins of that ancient city that contain food rations paid to captives and craftsmen who lived in and around the city. On one of the tablets, "Yaukin, king of the land of Judah" is mentioned along with his five sons listed as royal princes. Below are a few inscriptions found on other such tablets:

    10 (sila of oil) to the king of Judah, Yaukin.

    2 1/2 sila (oil) to the offspring of Judahs king,

    4 sila to eight Judean men.

According to the same cuneiform tablets that mention food rations to Jehoiachin, rations are also mentioned as going to the King of Ascalon in the land of the Philistines and also to many craftsman from various other countries, this matches the Biblical text. These tablets also indicate that Jehoiachin received twenty times as much food rations as others on the list which indicates that the Babylonians treated him more valuable then other captive kings on the list.  [08] [PLACE IN TEXT]


Footnote II
As said by Tim Bulkeley

    "In the Bible not all prophets are solitary individuals. A number of times groups of prophets who "prophesy" together are mentioned.... The group in 1 Sam 19:20 has "Samuel at their head" and Elijah and Elisha were also associated with groups (2 Kings 2:3, 5, 7, 15; 4:1, 38; 5:22 and especially 6:1ff.). The members of these groups were known as "sons of prophets" and they sometimes acted singly (1 Kings 20:35ff.).

    The reference in 2 Kings 6:1 to a building where the sons of prophets sat or lived "before" Elisha may suggest that these groups received some form of training, or at least spiritual leadership from such figures. The stories in 1 Kings 20 & 22 suggest that these guilds of prophets were consulted for (or offered) God's opinion on public events". [10] [PLACE IN TEXT]


Continue To Part 6:
Comparing Jesus With Other Religious Leaders... Why Jesus Is Without Equal
The claim to authority made by the founders of most religions is generally based on visions they claim to have had and messages they claim to have received. Most incorporate their own ideas and philosophy. However,  anyone can claim to be divine, be divinely inspired, or have mystical visions or experiences none of these are proof of Divine inspiration. Nor is a charismatic or powerful personality, wisdom, humility, compassion, written or spoken eloquence, or even righteousness. It seems within the bounds of common sense that if God were to send a messenger/savior to mankind, He would have at least given us some way to distinguish the true messenger from the false (and potentially dangerous) one. And, so He did HERE


End Notes (Chapter 5)
[01] Jona Lendering. Hannibal in the Alps. https://www.livius.org/sources/content/hannibal-in-the-alps/

[02] ibid.

[03] Eric Lyons, M.Min. Did the Bible Writers Commit Biological Blunders?

http://www.apologeticspress.org/AllegedDiscrepancies.aspx?article=2731

[04] http://etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=fowl&searchmode=none. Emphasis Added

[05] Drs. Foster & Smith. petducation.com. Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Cecotropes and Coprophagy.
 http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=18+1799&aid=2932

[06] Dave Greear. Evidences of the Christian Faith. Chapter 4... The Reliability of the Bible.
www.campuslight.org/wvu/EvidencesCFaith/Chapter4.html URL is no longer valid

[07] Josephus Antiquities Of The Jews- Book IX. http://www.ccel.org/j/josephus/works/ant-9.htm

[08] https://www.biblehistory.net/newsletter/jehoiachin.htm

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