Alleged Discrepancies the Bible #14
Elizabeth, of tribe of Aaron.
Of tribe of Judah.
Luke 1:27, 36
The mere fact that Elizabeth was "cousin" to one of the tribe of Judah proves nothing as to her own tribal descent. Intermarriages between the tribes were allowed, except in the case of heiresses. Aaron himself married into the tribe of Judah.70
Elhanan slew Goliath.
2 Samuel 21:19
1 Chronicles 20:5
The Goliath here mentioned may, for aught we know, have been Goliath junior/Most critics, Michaelis, Thenius, Dathe, Movers, Winer, Keil, Deutsch,71 Grove,72 Hervey, and others, maintain, however, that the Hebrew expression in Samuel is defective, and that Chronicles gives the true reading. Dr. Kennicott73 shows clearly how the copyist's mistake occurred.
Elkanah, an Ephrathite.
1 Samuel 1:1
1 Chronicles 6:16-27
He is called an Ephrathite (Ephraimite), because he lived within the borders of the tribe of Ephraim. So far as his civil standing was concerned, he, although a Levite, belonged to the tribe of Ephraim.74
Esau's wives—one list.
Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite.
Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham's son, the sister of Nebajoth.
A different statement.
Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite; and Bashemath Ishmael's daughter, sister of Nebajoth.
Some critics think Esau had six wives; others, five; others, three. It will be observed that all the wives in the second list bear names different from those corresponding in the first. Hengstenberg,75 Keil, and Lange account for this by the fact that women at their marriage received new names. On this hypothesis,
70Compare Exodus 6:23; 1 Chronicles 2:10.
71See Kitto, i. 763.
72Smith's Bible Diet., i. 697. See, on the other aide, Ewald's History of Israel, iii. 70, and
73Dissertations, i. 78-82.
74See similar case of the "Levite of Bethlehem-Judah," Judges 17:9.
75Genesis of Pent. ii. 225-226.
Bashemath, daughter of Ishmael, is the same with Mahalath; Adah, daughter of Elon the Hittite, is the same with Bashemath; and Aholibamah, daughter of Anah and [grand-] daughter of Zibeon the Hivite, is identical with Judith,76 daughter of Beeri the Hittite. Anah is also called "Beeri" ("man of the springs"), from the fact that he had found certain "warm springs" in the wilderness.77 As to his nationality, we have spoken previously.
Eutychus was dead.
His life was in him.
The latter words were uttered after Paul wrought the miracle. As to the somewhat analogous case of the maiden,78 of whom, though "dead," Christ said, "She is not dead, but sleepeth," the very obvious explanation is, that, relatively to his power, she was not dead. In other words, he could awaken her from death as easily as could others from ordinary sleep.
Genealogical lists—one form.
1 Chronicles 9:1-34
The first passage refers to the early inhabitants, previous to the exile. This is clear, from the twentieth verse, which represents Phinehas the son of Eleazar as ruler over them in time past. The second passage refers to the post-exile inhabitants, who lived in the time of Nehemiah. As to the similarity of names in the two lists, it may be said that, after the exile, naturally those very families which, or whose ancestors, had dwelt in Jerusalem in earlier times, went back to that city. Then, too, the recurrence of the same names in families is a familiar incident. People liked to name children after their grandfathers, or other near relatives.79 This is Keifs view. On the other hand, Bertheau, Movers, and Rawlinson maintain that the two lists refer to the same period, and were drawn from much fuller documents; the differences between the lists being due to condensation and omission on the part of the authors, as well as to the blunders of copyists.
Davidson80 says that the variations between the lists should not be pronounced "corruptions," unless it could be shown that they refer to exactly the
76 Murphy and others think that Judith died without male issue, hence her name is omitted in chap. 36.
77So Genesis 36:24 should be interpreted, according to Fuerst, Gesenius, Hengstenberg, Murphy, Keil, and Knobel.
79See intimation in Luke 1:61. Also see numerous striking examples cited in Hervey's Genealogies of our Lord," pp. 141-159.
80Introd. to Old Testament, ii. 137.
same time. The catalogue in Nehemiah relates to an earlier period. Yet the interval between them was not great, since several persons named in Nehemiah were still alive according to the account in Chronicles.
His father, Moses.
His son, Libni.
Exodus 2:22 1 Chronicles 6:20
Judges 18:30 1 Chronicles 23:7
It is generally admitted that, in Judges, for "Manasseh" we should read "Moses"—the name having been disguised by Jewish copyists, to prevent supposed disgrace to Moses resulting from the idolatry of his grandson.81 Libni and Laadan are, probably, mere variations of the same name.
Gibeonites were Hivites.
Remnant of Amorites.
2 Samuel 21:2
The term "Amorite" is often used in a comprehensive sense, as equivalent to "Canaanite"; and especially as denoting that part of the Canaanite nation inhabiting the hill-country, that is, the Hivites.82 As the Canaanites, with the exception of the Gibeonites and a few others, were supposed to be exterminated, the latter may well have been styled the "remnant" of the Amorites or Canaanites.
Several analogous cases may as well be considered here.
Hiram's mother a Naphtalite.
1 Kings 7:14
2 Chronicles 2:14
Bahr, Blunt,83 and Thenius say that she was of the neighboring city "Dan," in the tribe of Naphtah, bordering upon Tyre, hence she married a man of the latter country.
Joseph's purchasers Midianites.
Genesis 37:28, 36
Genesis 37:25, 28
Keil thinks the two tribes were often confounded on account of their common descent from Abraham and the similarity of their customs and mode of life.
81So Rashi, Kimchi, and the critics.
82Compare Genesis 15:16, and Numbers 13:29; Deuteronomy 1:20-21.
83Coincidences, pp. 117-118 (American ed.).
Lange suggests that Ishmaelites may have been the proprietors of the caravan, which was made up mostly of Midianites.
Moses' wife a Midianite woman.
Exodus 2:16, 21
Possibly "Cushite" and "Midianite" may be used interchangeably (see Habakkuk 3:7). A better solution is that Zipporah had died, and Moses was married to a woman of Ethiopian origin. Ewald84 adopts the latter opinion, also maintaining that Keturah was a wife taken by Abraham during the thirty-eight years which he lived after Sarah's death.
Obededom a Gittite.
2 Samuel 6:10
1 Chronicles 15:17-18, 21
He was called "Gathite," or "Gittite," because born in the Levitical city of Gathrimmon (Keil), or living at Moreshethgath (Ewald).85
Woman a Canaanite.
She lived in that part of Canaan called "Syro-Phoenicia," and was herself a "Greek," that is, a Gentile, as opposed to a Jew86 (see Romans 2:9,10). We now return from our digression.
Hazael and Jehu anointed by Elijah.
1 Kings 19:15-16
2 Kings 8:7-15; 9:1-10
The word "anoint," in the first passage, is used figuratively as in Judges 9:8, to denote "divine consecration to the regal and prophetic offices." Elijah did not, says Bahr, understand the anointing literally. He was simply required to announce, either in person or by proxy, to the three men named, their divine call to the performance of regal or prophetic functions. And the injunction (correctly rendered, "And thou shalt go and anoint") left Elijah free to choose his own time for executing these commissions. Doubtless he gave it in charge to Elisha, his accessor, to carry out to the full what remained unaccomplished.
Hezekiah reduced to poverty.
2 Kings 18:14-16
Possessed great treasures.
Isaiah 39:2, 6
84 Hist, of Israel, ii. 178, note.
85 History of Israel, iii. 127.
86 Smith's Bib. Diet., ii. 967, and iv. 3149.
The second passage refers to the latter part of Hezekiah's reign, when enjoyed great prosperity, and many brought "gifts" and "presents" to him, and he is "magnified in the sight of all nations."87 Thus his fortunes were fully retrieved.
Hezekiah's passover unequalled.
2 Chronicles 30:26
Surpassed by Josiah's.
2 Chronicles 35:18
Hezekiah's feast surpassed all that preceded it since the days of Solomon, but was itself eclipsed by the later one of king Josiah. The superiority of Josiah's passover consisted in these points—"All Judah and Israel" participated; it was held on the legal day; and all the people were ceremonially clean.88 This was not true of Hezekiah's passover.
Israelites' condition in desert comfortable.
Deuteronomy 2:7; 32:13-14
They endured privations.
Exodus 16:2-3; Numbers 11:4-6
It is clear, from the narrative, that the people were, at some particular times, in a state of destitution,89 but that generally they were well supplied with food, and abundantly so upon certain occasions. As to the alleged impossibility of so vast a multitude,90 together with their flocks and herds, finding the needful sustenance during their wanderings in the desert, it is to be carefully noted that, from the present sterile and desolate condition of the Sinaitic peninsula, we cannot infer that in former times it was equally barren and dreary as now. Eminent travellers and scholars assign, for believing that that territory was far more productive than at present, the following reasons.
Ewald:91 "Destruction of good land by sand thrown upon it by the winds of the desert"; "change in the temperature of the soil"; and "increasing idleness or barbarism in the inhabitants, which is indisputable in this case."
Stanley,92 following Ritter: The considerable decrease of the vegetation of the wadys (valleys); the denudation of the soil by the ruthless destruction of acacia-trees in manufacturing charcoal, the chief article of traffic; and the diminution of the population, consequently of the size and number of cultivated spots.
"When Niebuhr93 visited that country, at the beginning of the last century, large supplies of vegetable produce were exported regularly to Egypt, showing that the original fertility was not even then exhausted."
872 Chronicles 32:23, 27-29.
88Compare 2 Chronicles 30:2-3,17-20, and 35:18.
89Deuteronomy 8:3, 15.
90Ewald says, "about two millions," History of Israel, ii. 196.
91Vol. ii. p. 197.
92Sinai and Palestine, pp. 25-29 (American edition).
93Bible Commentary, i. 246.
Ritter94 speaks of the "colonies, chapels, churches, hospices, convents, bishoprics, and Christian communities," existing there so late as between the third and seventh centuries of our era; and of the fact that there was "more building, more artificial irrigation, more culture of the palm tree, and more agricultural prosperity in general" than is seen there in later times.
Stanley95 mentions the "numerous remains of cells, gardens, houses, chapels, and churches, now deserted and ruined," which go to show that the desert was not always the dreary waste that it is now. And Ewald96 says that "the most recent travellers have repeatedly remarked that the country shows clear indications of having been formerly much more extensively cultivated." The legitimate inference is, that the "wilderness of Sinai" was formerly vastly more productive and populous than at present.
The following may be enumerated as means of support enjoyed by the Israelites during the forty years' sojourn in the desert:
The miracle of the manna, continued throughout. Exodus 16:35.
The milk and flesh of their flocks and herds. They came out of Egypt with "very much cattle" (Exodus 12:38). Prof. Palmer,97 the latest and most scientific explorer of the Sinaitic country, says that the flocks and herds of the Israelites "would afford them ample means of subsistence, as do those of the Arabs of the present day, whom they undoubtedly resembled in their mode of life."
Agriculture to a certain extent. We are not to imagine that they spent their time in marching and countermarching, in military order, through the desert, "striking camp in the morning and pitching it again at night, daily, for forty years—and that within the compass of a few hundred miles." It is altogether probable that, during the thirty-eight years98 the incidents of which were not recorded by the sacred writer, the people led, for the most part, a tranquil and comparatively settled life; being scattered over a very wide extent of territory, and engaging somewhat in the cultivation of the soil.
Dr. Davidson99 observes: "As the tracts in which they roamed were very fertile in some places, producing a great variety of vegetables and fruit; as there were numerous villages and posts throughout it; the Israelites were not without the natural and spontaneous productions of the earth. They tilled the oases, and reaped the produce."
94Geography of Palestine and Sinaitic Peninsula, i. 10-11 (Gage's translation).
97Desert of the Exodus, p. 426 (American edition).
98See Deuteronomy 2:14.
99Introd. to Old Testament, i. 326-327. As to stations of Israelites, see under "Places."
Some intercourse and traffic with other nations. The Israelites had, besides their flocks and herds, gold and silver in considerable quantities, and could procure certain necessaries of life from the Ishmaelites, Midianites, and Edomites, among whom they were.
As to their flocks and herds, these found sufficient pasturage in the numerous fertile wadys through which they roamed.
On the whole, we may conclude, with Ewald,100 that the Israelites subsisted, at times "in a condition of great privation and trial, certainly—of which, indeed, in all the traditions, there is frequent complaint—but still so that a frugal and laborious people would not absolutely perish."
YES PEOPLE GET THE WRONG IDEA OF ISRAEL IN THE WILDERNESS FOR 40 YEARS, AS IF HALF-STARVED, SUN-BEATEN, WIND-SWEPT, NOMAD WONDERERS - FROM WHAT WE HAVE SEEN ABOVE THIS WAS NOT THE CASE - Keith Hunt
Israelites dwelt in tents.
They dwelt in booths.
The word "ohel," tent, means also a dwellinghouse, or habitation, hence might, perhaps, include booths. Neither passage asserts that all the people dwelt in "tents," or all in "booths." It is quite probable that, when they first emerged from Egypt, they were poorly provided with actual "tents," and hence sheltered themselves with "booths" and other rude structures.101 A little later all may have possessed tents.
Israelites imitated the heathen.
Ye have not walked in my statutes, neither executed my judgments, but have done after the manners of the heathen that are round about you.
Did not imitate them.
Neither have done according to the judgments of the nations that are round about you.
Yet hast thou not walked after their ways, nor done after their abominations: but, as if that were a very little thing, thou wast corrupted more than they, in all thy ways.
They had imitated the heathen in some respects, but not in others. The first passage may denote that the Israelites had not commended themselves to the judgment of the heathen, but had pursued a course which even the latter would pronounce inconsistent and discreditable.102 Or both texts of the series may simply assert that, so far from imitating the heathen, the Israelites had gone far beyond them in corruption.
101 Green's Pentateuch Vindicated, pp. 69-70.
102 See Jeremiah 2:10-11.
Israelites listened to Moses.
Did not listen to him.
They gave heed to Moses at first; but since instant deliverance did not come, in their disappointment and impatience they would no longer hearken to him.
Israelites practiced idolatry.
Joshua 24:14, 23
They served the Lord.
Joshua 22:2,11-34; Judges 2:7
The exhortation, "Put away the strange gods which are among you" (or "within you"), may refer to a lurking adherence of heart to idols. Or, possibly, idolatry may have been practised secretly by a few persons, unsuspected by the people generally. Whichever were the case, the sin was at once broken off.
Israelites repulse of Philistines final.
1 Samuel 7:13
It was not final.
1 Samuel 9:16; 10:5; 13:5,17
The statement that the Philistines "came no more" into the land of Israel is not to be pressed so as to denote an expulsion for all time to come. It is simply a popular, idiomatic way of saying that they came no more at that time, or no more came successfully, so as to obtain a permanent foothold.
In a similar manner are to be explained the statements concerning Pharaohnechoh, 2 Kings 24:7; Jeremiah 37:5; and concerning the Syrians, 2 Kings 6:23-24.
Joshua 7:4; Judges 1:34
The first passage was, as is expressly set forth in the context, a conditional promise. The conditions not being complied with the promise was no longer binding.
Israelites very numerous.
They were very weak.
Deuteronomy 7:1, 7
The texts at the right refer to the time when Jacob and his family went down into Egypt. From so small a beginning there had sprung a nation like "the stars of heaven for multitude." 103
113 Compare Deuteronomy 10:22.
Jacob brought out of Egypt.
He died in Egypt.
The words, "I will there make of thee a great nation,"104 show that the promise was to be fulfilled to Jacob's posterity, and not to him in person. Jacob's body was carried up out of Egypt, and buried in Canaan; his descendants were brought out of Egypt, according to the promise.
Jacob's errand, to procure a wife.
To escape Esau's anger.
Two reasons for the same thing—neither excluding the other. Upon the same principle are to be explained the several reasons assigned for Moses' exclusion from Canaan—"unbelief," Numbers 20:12; "rebellion," Numbers 27:14; "trespass," Deuteronomy 32:51; "rash words," Psalm 106:33. Also, those adduced for numbering the people—"taxation," Exodus 38:26; a "military enrollment," Numbers 1:2, 3; 2:32.105 In like manner, the reasons named for Saul's rejection—"unlawful sacrifice," 1 Samuel 13:12-13; "disobedience," 1 Samuel 28:18: "consulting the necromancer," 1 Chronicles 10:13.
Jacob purchased the birthright.
Obtained it by deception.
This "discrepancy" confounds two things which are entirely distinct—the "birthright" and the "blessing."106 Jacob purchased the former, but obtained the latter by fraud and falsehood.
Jacob supported by the bed's head.
Supported by his staff.
From the fact that the latter passage speaks of Jacob as "dying," while the former (compare 48:1) represents him as not yet "sick," it is probable that they refer to different occasions. If, however, one so extremely old and feeble as Jacob was, might, although not actually deathstruck, be spoken of as "dying," it may be observed that the same Hebrew word pronounced "mittah," denotes a bed, but pronounced "matteh," a staff. Our present Hebrew Bible exhibits one pronunciation; the Septuagint and the Epistle to the Hebrews follow the other.
105In both cases, only males above twenty years of age were reckoned. See Exodus 30:12-14. The second reckoning, Numbers 1, was probably based on the former one. This would account for the agreement in the sum total.
106See Genesis 26:36.
Jehoiachin, father of Salathiel.
He was "childless."
The term "childless" is explained by the statement that "no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah." With reference to a lineal successor, he was "childless." Salathiel, or Shealtiel, probably married the daughter and heiress of Neri, hence is reckoned as his son (Luke 3:27).
Jehoiakim had no successor.
Succeeded by his son Jehoiachin.
2 Kings 24:6
Jehoiachin's reign lasted but a few months, and was, perhaps, subject to his mother's tutelage. He was then carried captive to Babylon, and his uncle made king in his stead. The Hebrew term rendered "sit," in Jeremiah, implies some degree of permanence; hence there is no collision between the passages.
Jehorams sons taken captive.
2 Chronicles 21:16-17
They were put to death.
2 Chronicles 22:1
As Keil and Rawlinson say, first taken captive, afterwards slain.
Jehoshaphat declines Ahaziah's aid.
1 Kings 22:49
Made league with him.
2 Chronicles 20:35-36
The two kings at first engaged in ship-building together. Their ships were wrecked at Eziongeber. Jehoshaphat, being informed by a prophet as to the cause of this calamity, declined a second proposal from Ahaziah.
Jesus approached by the centurion.
By the elders of the Jews.
Alford and Ebrard think that Matthew, writing in a condensed style, speaks of the centurion as himself doing that which he really accomplished by Proxy. So Robinson, who quotes the old law-maxim, "Qui facit per alium, facit per se": He who does a thing by another, does it himself. Still, it is possible that the centurion first sent the elders, and then, in the intensity of his anxiety and distress, went in person to the Savior.
Upon the above principle is to be explained the case of Zebedee's wife. She makes a certain request for her sons, Matthew 20:20; they make it for themselves, Mark 10:35. So with regard to David: He killed Uriah, 2 Samuel 12:9; the Ammonites killed him, 2 Samuel 11:17. In like manner, the Levites promulgated the "blessings" and "curses," Deuteronomy, 27:14-15; and Joshua did it, Joshua 8:34-35. So the priests bought the potter's field, Matthew 27:6-7; and Judas purchased it, that is, furnished the occasion for its purchase, Acts 1:18. Nothing is more common than that figure of speech by which we attribute to the man himself any act which he has either directly or indirectly procured to be done.
Job's children, all dead.
Job 1:19; 8:4
Davidson takes the term "children," in the second text, as denoting "grandchildren." Conant, Delitzsch, Gesenius, Schlottmann, Stuhlmann, Umbreit. and Winer take the Hebrew "b'ne bitni" as equivalent to "my brethren."107 Wetz-stein,108 comparing the Arabic idiom, says that the expression denotes, "all my relations by blood." Nothing in the passage warrants the inference that any of Job's own children were alive.
John identical with Elias.
Matthew 17:12-13; Mark 9:13
He was not Elias.
In a figurative, but not in the literal, sense John was Elias. He came in the spirit and power of the Tishbite prophet, and was the Elias of his day. Our Savior's words, "If ye will receive it" (if ye can comprehend the meaning of the prophecy), "this is Elias which was to come,"109 show that a literal fulfillment was not intended.
Joseph bound in the prison.
Genesis 39:20; 40:3
He was not bound.
Probably he was bound at first; but after a time, as his true character became apparent, his chains were taken off.
As to the "keeper of the prison,"110 in whose care Joseph was placed, many critics, Delitzsch, Keil, Kurtz, Lange, and others think that he was a subordinate official, to whom Potiphar entrusted the immediate oversight of the prison and its inmates. The "captain of the guard" mentioned Genesis 40:4, was probably the successor of Potiphar.111
107 Compare the obvious meaning of in Job 3:10.
108Delitzsch on Job, Vol. ii. p. 416.
111 Smith's Bib. Diet., ii. 1465.
The statement that Joseph was "stolen" (that is, carried away secretly and by force) from his native land (Genesis 40:15) does not conflict with the fact that he was "sold" to the Ishmaelites (37:28).
Joshua conquered certain kings.
Joshua 12:10,12,16, 21, 23
Their cities not captured.
Joshua 15:63; 16:10; 17:11-12; Judges 1:22-25
There is an appreciable difference between defeating a king in battle, and gaining possession of his capital city. Hannibal several times vanquished the Roman consuls, but never captured the city of Rome.
Josiah extirpated idolatry.
2 Kings 23:5-12; 2 Chronicles 34:3
It had been destroyed by Manasseh.
2 Chronicles 33:15
Manasseh did not root out the love of idolatry, and his son Amon countenanced and powerfully encouraged the worship of false gods. Hence, when Josiah, in his twelfth year, began to overthrow idolatry, he needed to do the whole work over again. The statement that Josiah destroyed the altars which "Manasseh had made"112 is explained by the fact that these altars had been not destroyed," but "cast out of the city," by Manasseh,113 and were restored by his successor Amon; hence the religious zeal of Josiah was very properly directed against them.
Josiah's sons—one list.
The firstborn Johanan, the second Jehoiakim, the third Zedekiah, the fourth Shallum.
1 Chronicles 3:15
A different list.
Jehoahaz, Eliakim (Jehoiakim), Mat-
2 Kings 23:30, 34; 24:17
Jehoahaz is called Shallum in Jeremiah 22:11. Bleek114 thinks that Shallum assumed the name "Jehoahaz" at his coronation. In Rawlinsons opinion, Johanan died before his father, or with him at Megiddo.
Judas death--one manner.
And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
A diverse statement.
And falling headlong, he burst asunder
in the midst, and all his bowels gushed
112 Kings 23:12.
113 2 Chronicles 33:15.
114 Introd. to Old Testament, ii. 67.
Neither of these statements excludes the other. Matthew does not deny that Judas, after hanging himself, fell and burst asunder; Peter does not assert that Judas did not hang himself previous to his fall. Probably the circumstances were much as follows: Judas suspended himself from a tree on the brink of the precipice overhanging the valley of Hinnom, and the limb or the rope giving way, he fell, and was mangled as described in Acts.
Prof. Hackett,115 who recently visited the supposed scene of this tragic event, deems the above explanation "entirely natural." As he stood in the valley, and looked up to the rocky terraces which hang over it, and which he found by measurement to vary from twenty-five to forty feet almost perpendicular height, he felt "more than ever satisfied" with the solution just given. He speaks of trees as still growing upon the margin of these precipices, and of a rockv pavement at the bottom of the ledges, upon which the traitor would be crushed and mangled, as well as killed, in his fall. The Professor suggests that Judas may have struck upon some pointed rock, which entered his body, and caused his bowels to gush out.
Besides, we do not know how long Judas remained suspended, nor how far decomposition was advanced when he fell.
Prof. Gaussen,116 exemplifying different versions of the same affair, mentions a man who, having determined to commit suicide, placed himself upon the sill of a lofty window, and aimed a pistol at his head, then discharged the pistol, and leaped at the same instant. Now, it might be said, with sufficient accuracy, that the man took his life by shooting, or by throwing himself from a height. So, in the case in question, Matthew gives one aspect of the affair, and Peter another, yet there is no contradiction between them.
Judges appointed by Moses.
Exodus 18:25; Deuteronomy 1:15
Appointed by the people.
Jethro suggested the appointment to Moses; and the latter, after obtaining the consent of Jehovah,117 referred the matter to the people; and the men whom the people nominated he admitted to share his authority, as subordinate judges.118 Thus, since both Moses and the people participated in the choice, it might be ascribed indifferently to either. The omission of mention of Jethro's part in the matter, which De Wette and Koster style a "contradiction," Stahelin says is no
115 Illustrations of Scripture, pp. 275-276.
116Theopneusty, p. 117 (Kirk's translation).
117See Exodus 18:23-24.
118 Graves on the Pentateuch, i. 87.
contradiction, since it was the intention of the Deuteronomist simply to state the fact, and not the manner of the appointment. A quite similar case is that of the spies sent by the Lord, Numbers 13:1,2; by Moses, Numbers 32:8; by the people, Deuteronomy 1:22; the true solution being that the people suggested the matter to Moses, who laid it before the Lord, and received from him an injunction to comply with the people's request. Yet in the condensed statements of the two latter passages there is no mention of the Divine cooperation in the sending.
Upon the shallow and delusive hypothesis that the historian's omission of an event is equivalent to a denial of that event, are founded many of the alleged "contradictions" of the Bible. The following are examples: Levites' participation in the inauguration of Joash, 2 Chronicles 23:1-20; omitted, 2 Kings 11:4-19. Manasseh's repentance, 2 Chronicles 33:11-17; omitted, 2 Kings 21:17. Moses' family sent back to Midian, Exodus 18:2-6; the sending back omitted, Exodus 4:20; Moses' fast at his first ascent of Mount Sinai, Deuteronomy 9:9,18; omitted, Exodus 24:18; with many analogous cases elsewhere. In such instances, the omission is due to condensation on the part of the writer, or to his selection of those circumstances only which he deemed important.
Kish the son ofAbiel.
1 Samuel 9:1; 12:50, 51
The son of Ner.
1 Chronicles 8:33; 9:39
There were probably two men named Ner—one the grandfather, the other the brother of Kish. Hence the genealogy would stand thus:
Hervey renders 1 Samuel 14:50, 51 thus: "And Kish the father of Saul, and Ner the father of Abner, were the sons ofAbiel."119
Kohath's son, Izhar.
1 Chronicles 6:22
Two names of the same person. So Rawlinson and other critics.
It may be added here that, upon the hypothesis (1) that the same person bears several names; or (2) that several persons bear the same name; or (3) that copyists have blundered in respect to names; or (4) that the terms "father"
119 Smith's Bible Diet., iv. 2853, makes Abiel the father of Ner.
and "son," etc., are used in a loose sense for "progenitor," "descendant," and the like, we are able to explain a large number of "apparent contradictions" like the following: Laadan's posterity, 1 Chronicles 6:20; 23:8 and 26:21-22; Labans father, Genesis 28:5 and 29:5; Machir's wife, 1 Chronicles 7:15 and 16; Mahofs sons, 1 Kings 4:31 and 1 Chronicles 2:6; Sarah's father, Genesis 11:12 and Luke 3:35-36; Samuel's firstborn, 1 Samuel 8:2 and 1 Chronicles 6:28; Saul's sons Samuel 14:49 and 1 Samuel 31:2; 1 Chronicles 8:33; Timnah's relationships Genesis 36:12 and 1 Chronicles 1:36, 51; Zedekiah's relationship, 2 Kings! 24:17; 1 Chronicles 3:15 and 1 Chronicles 3:16; 2 Chronicles 36:10; Zechariah's father, Ezra 5:1; 6:14 and Zechariah 1:1; Zerubbabel's father, 1 Chronicles 3:19 and Ezra 3:2; Nehemiah 12:1.
As to the differences,120 some twenty-seven in number, between the two lists of names, Ezra 2:2-60 and Nehemiah 7:7-62, they are due either to copyists' mistakes, or to variations in our English method of spelling proper names.
Korah swallowed up by the earth.
Numbers 16:31-33; 26:10
He was burned.
Numbers 16:35; Psalm 106:18
There are two theories respecting Korah's fate: (1) That he was burned with the "two hundred and fifty men" who offered incense. Dr. Graves121 has a very ingenious argument in defence of this hypothesis, which is also supported by Boothroyd, Bush, Geddes, Hervey,122 Josephus,123 and the Samaritan version. But Numbers 26:10 seems fatal to this theory. (2) That, as the passage just named implies, Korah was engulfed, together with Dathan and Abiram. Ewald,124 Keil, Kurtz,125 and Knobel adopt the latter view.
The following would seem to have been the circumstances of the case. Dathan and Abiram, being brothers and Reubenites, probably had tents near together, and with their tribe, on the south side of the encampment.126 Korah, as a Kohathite, would pitch his tent "on the side of the tabernacle southward."12 This would bring the three ringleaders into such contiguity that they could conveniently take counsel together.128
120 See more than a hundred similar cases collected by Davidson, Introd. to Old Testament, ii.
121 On Pentateuch, i. 119,-20.
122 Smith's Bib. Diet., ii. 1576.
123Antiq. iv. 3-4.
124History of Israel, ii. 180.
125 History of Old Covenant, iii. 296.
128Blunt, Coincidences. See Korah.
On the appointed day Korah and his faction assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. Dathan and Abiram scornfully refused to come (verses 12-14), and remained in their tents. After the events recorded in verses 18-24, Moses, leaving the tabernacle, went with the elders of Israel to the tents of Dathan and Abiram. Doubtless Korah, who was the prime mover of the rebellion, left the "two hundred and fifty men" burning incense at the tabernacle, and followed Moses, with the purpose of strengthening Dathan and Abiram in their contumacy. Arrived at their tents, he stood with them and their families in the door to see what Moses would do. At the command of the latter, the people withdrew from about the "tabernacle [tents or dwelling-place] of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram," who were instantly swallowed up by the opening earth. At the same moment, a fire sent of God destroyed the two hundred and fifty men offering incense at the tabernacle. Probably Korah is mentioned, in verses 24-27, with the other two, because he was so closely linked with them in conduct and fate. It is clear that Korah was not in his own tent, which must have been at some little distance, and which seems not to have been destroyed. Some think that "the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram" (verses 24-27) was one which these men had set up in opposition to the tabernacle proper.
That a portion, at least, of Koran's family did not perish with him is explicitly asserted in Numbers 26:11. The prophet Samuel was a descendant of Korah,129 and some of David's musicians belonged to the same family.130 So that the expression, "all the men that appertained unto Korah"131 (literally, "all unto Korah") denotes simply his adherents—his servants and retainers, with, possibly, the adult males of his family.
Lazarus came forth from the tomb.
He was bound hand and foot.
The Jewish sepulchres were caves or rooms excavated in the rock. The dead were not put in coffins, but into niches cut into the sides of these rooms, and radiating outward. The corpse, as Meyer thinks, was not so swathed with bandages as to preclude all motion; and the wrappings would be loosened by the movements of the living man. At Jesus' word, Lazarus raised himself from his recumbent position in the niche, put forth his feet over the edge, then, sliding down, stood upright on the floor.132 When he thus "came forth," Jesus bade them "loose him, and let him go."
129 1 Chronicles 6:22-28.
130 1 Chronicles 6:31, 33; Psalm 44-49, titles.
131 Numbers 16:32.
132 So Macknight, Paxton, and others.
Man's fear and dread upon all beasts.
Not upon the lion.
The second passage, "A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any," may mean, "for any beast"—another way of designating the lion as the "king of beasts." If, however, it implies, "for any man," the exceptional cases which this statement covers only prove the general rule that the presence of man intimidates all the lower animals.
Moses somewhat infirm.
And he said unto them, I am an hundred and twenty years old this day; I can no more go out and come in: also the Lord hath said unto me, Thou shalt not go over this Jordan.
His physical powers well preserved.
And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.
The fact that Moses' eyesight and physical vigor were unimpaired does not preclude his knowing that he had already passed far beyond the ordinary limit of human life, and that his mission—inasmuch as the time for crossing the Jordan had come, and he himself was not to go over—was accomplished. In view of these facts, he admonished the Israelites that he could no longer "go out and come in" as their leader.
Exodus 3:1; 4:18; 18:5
Reuel or Raguel.
Exodus 2:18; Numbers 10:29
Observe, (1) That "Reuel" and "Raguel" are exactly the same in the Hebrew. (2) That "Jether," or "Jethro," is not a proper name, but simply a title of honor, denoting "excellency," and about equivalent to the Arabic "Imam." So Aben Ezra, Ewald, Gesenius, Keil, Kimchi, Knobel, Kurtz, Winer, and others.
The following seems the best explanation of the other difficulties in the case. Hobab was the son of Raguel, and hence the brother-in-law of Moses. He appears to have remained with the Israelites when his father Jethro returned to his own land, and to have settled among them.133 So Josephus, Bertheau, and Keil. As to Numbers 10:29, the original is ambiguous, and may denote either that Raguel or that Hobab was Moses' father-in-law. The English version of Judges
133Compare Exodus 18:27; Numbers 10:29-32; Judges 1:16; 4:11; 1 Samuel 15:6.
4:11 favors the latter theory; but the Hebrew word "chothen" means properly "a relative by marriage,"134 or, as Fuerst says, "one who makes an alliance." So that, as Ranke maintains, the term, being ambiguous, proves nothing.
Some think that Hobab was the brother of Jethro—both being sons of Raguel; others, that Hobab and Jethro were different names of the same man, who was actually the father-in-law of Moses, and the son of Ragual. On this hypothesis, the terms "father" and "daughter," Exodus 2:16-21, are equivalent to "grandfather" and "granddaughter."
Moses peerless among prophets.
Others wrought equal miracles.
1 Kings 17:22; 2 Kings 1:10; 2:14; 4:34
The first passage does not say that no such prophet ever would arise, but merely that, up to the time of writing, no prophet equal to Moses had arisen. Moreover, in certain aspects, not simply as a miracle-worker, but as a lawgiver, Moses has never been equalled. In this respect he has no human peer.
Moses veil worn in addressing the people.
Not worn at such times.
2 Corinthians 3:7,13
The best commentators agree that the citation from Exodus should be rendered, "And when Moses had done speaking with them, he put a veil," etc.
Nahoth's sons slain with him.
2 Kings 9:26
Their slaughter not mentioned.
1 Kings 21:13
The omission in the condensed narrative of 1 Kings cannot be construed into a denial. The murder of the sons is not mentioned in this place, because, as Ewald135 says, it is "here understood as a matter of course." Jezebel, who was not wont to do things by halves, would see to it that Naboth's sons were not left alive to inherit his possessions (which would not then have escheated to the crown), nor to revenge their father's cruel death.
Poor not found in Israel.
Poor always found.
Michaelis, Rosenmuller, Dathe, and others give the sense of the first passage thus, "Thou must release the debt, except when no poor person is concerned in a matter—which may happen, for the Lord shall greatly bless thee," etc.
134 See Genesis 19:14; 2 Kings 8:27, where a word differing only in vowel points, is employed.
135 Hist. of Israel, iv. 75, note 2. So also J. D. Michaelis, and others.
Priests styled sons of Aaron.
Leviticus 1:5, 8,11; Numbers 6:23
Classed as Levites.
Deuteronomy 10:8-9; 18:1, 7
Certain critics have affected to see a discrepancy, in that the "sharp distinction" between the priests and Levites in the first passages is not kept up the second series. To which it is sufficient to reply:
1. The priests were not only "sons of Aaron," but were also "Levites."
2. The term "sons of Aaron," applied to the priests, is not found in the last part of Numbers at all, but only in the first fourteen chapters. The relate to the second, while Deuteronomy relates to the fortieth, year aft the exodus. Now, during the intervening thirty-eight years, a change of phraseology may have obtained currency.
3. In Deuteronomy Moses is speaking in general terms. To enter into minute and unimportant details would be quite foreign to his purpose, and tend to defeat it. The man who addresses a large and mixed audience will, if he knows his business, take care to shun irrelevant details and distinctions.136
Purchaser of sepulchre, Jacob.
And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver.
It was Abraham.
So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers, and were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor, the father of Sychem.
Alford thinks that the use of the name "Abraham," in the latter passage, is due to "haste or inadvertence " on the part of Stephen. Hackett, following Beza, Kuinoel, Schoettgen, and others, is in favor of omitting the word "Abraham," and rendering, "which was purchased."
The simplest explanation is that suggested by Mr. Garden.137 It is known that Sychem (Shechem) was the place where God first appeared to Abraham in the land of Canaan, and where the patriarch built an altar.138 There is reason to believe that a man so scrupulous as was Abraham in respect to property would purchase the field where he built his altar. In the one hundred and eighty-five
136See Bible Com., i. 797-798.
137 Smith's Bib. Diet., iv. 3114-3115.
years which intervened, the Shechemites may have reoccupied the location, and Jacob may have renewed the purchase made by his grandfather. Of this consecrated field a portion may have been set apart by Jacob as a burial place.
According to the usage of New Testament Greek, we should read, "of the sons of Emmor the son of Sychem." We are thus carried back to a Shechem and Hamor antecedent to Abraham, and quite different from those sons whose Jacob made the purchase, Genesis 33:18-20. The way is thus cleared. Abraham made the original purchase, and Jacob renewed and confirmed the transaction.
Rebellious Israelites all dead.
Spoken of as living.
Deuteronomy 1:6, 9,14; 5:2, 5; 11:2, 7
That the congregation which remained after the death of the rebels might still be considered identical with, that which came out from Egypt is clear, from the following considerations. Only the males above twenty years of age were "numbered," and placed under the ban.139 It would follow, beyond question, that a very large number of women were present, who remembered the servitude in Egypt and the events in the wilderness. Besides, the Levites were exempted from the ban, as well as all the males under twenty years of age.140 Here, then, were three classes of persons who survived, and who formed the large majority of the congregation to whom Moses discoursed, as recorded in Deuteronomy. He was, therefore (Colenso to the contrary, notwithstanding), perfectly right in saying to the assembled multitudes, "Your eyes have seen all the great acts of the Lord which he did."
Rulers knew Christ.
They knew him not.
1 Corinthians 2:8
A. Fuller deems it very probable that there were some of each description; and that the former passages refer to one; the latter, to the other.
Alford suggests that the "ignorance" mentioned admitted of all degrees, from that of the unlearned, who followed their leaders implicitly in rejecting Jesus, to that of the most learned scribes, who rightly understood the Messianic predictions, yet, from moral blindness or perverted expectations, failed to recognize the fulfilment in our Lord.
139 Compare Numbers 1:2-3, 45-46.
140Numbers 1:3, 45, 49.
Samaritans received not Jesus.
Treated him hospitably.
Baur finds a "discrepancy" here; but Bleek141 replies that Luke is speaking of a certain Samaritan village, while John refers to a city in the land of Samaria.
Samuel visited Saul no more.
1 Samuel 15:35
Saul prophesied before him.
1 Samuel 19:24
De Wette:142 "It is said that Samuel did not see Saul again till the day of his death." This statement conveys a wrong impression. "To see" is used in Hebrew for to visit, that is, to go to see,143 as in 2 Samuel 13:5; 2 Kings 8:29; 2 Chronicks 22:6. Samuel went no more to see Saul; but the latter came to see him. Our version gives the true sense.
Saul's attendants heard the voice.
They heard it not.
Acts 22:9; 26:14
The Greek "akouo," like our word "hear," has two distinct meanings, a perceive sound, and to understand.144 The men who were with Saul of Tarsus heard the sound, but did not understand what was said to him. As to the fact that one passage represents them as "standing"; the other, as having "fallen to the earth" the word rendered "stood" also means to be fixed, to be rooted to the spot. Hence the sense may be, not that they stood erect, but that they were rendered motionless. or fixed to the spot, by overpowering fear. Or, perhaps, when the light with such exceeding brilliancy burst upon them, they all "fell to the earth," but afterward rose and "stood" upon their feet.145
Saul chosen king by lot.
1 Samuel 10:20-21
Chosen by the Lord.
1 Samuel 9:17; 10:24
Demanded by people.
1 Samuel 8:19
Here is no collision. The people persisted in demanding a king. God granted their request, and guided the lot in the choice of Saul to be king over Israel.146
Saul's death—one manner.
1 Samuel 31:3-5
A different manner.
2 Samuel 1:6-10
141 Introd. to New Testament, ii 220. 142Introd. to Old Testament, ii. 222.
143 See Gesenius, Hebrew Lexicon, p. 951, Rem. g.
144 On use of with different cases, see Winer's Grammar of NT. Idiom, pp. 199-200
(Thayer's edition); also, Buttmann's Grammar, pp. 165-166.
145 Compare Hackett, Commentary on Acts 9:7.
146Ewald's History of Israel, iii. 25.
The latter statement is given as that of an "Amalekite," and is not vouched for by the sacred historian. It was doubtless colored by its author to suit the supposed occasion.
Saul inquired of the Lord.
1 Samuel 28:6
Did not thus inquire.
1 Chronicles 10:14
It is sufficient to notice that two different Hebrew words of diverse meaning are employed here. Or, it may be correctly remarked that Saul's attempts at inquiry were of so unworthy a nature that it would be an abuse of language to speak of him as really "inquiring of Jehovah." As to the apparent conflict between 1 Samuel 14:18, 37 and 1 Chronicles 13:3, relative to asking counsel at the ark of God, the latter passage, which denies this custom in the days of Saul, doubtless refers to the later years of that monarch, after he had slain the priests of the Lord, and sunk in the depths of sin and shame.
Saul's family died with him.
1 Chronicles 10:6
Some of the family survived.
2 Samuel 2:8
The expression "all his house," in the first text, is explained by "all his men," 1 Samuel 31:6. Keil: "All those who were about the king, i.e. the whole of the king's attendants who had followed him to the war." Similarly Rawlinson. Fuerst gives people, servants among the significations of the Hebrew word "bayith," house, used in the first text.
Saul unacquainted with David.
1 Samuel 17:55-58
Knew him very well.
1 Samuel 16:21-23
The point of the difficulty is, How could Saul and Abner too be so ignorant in respect to one who had been armorbearer and musician to Saul? Various solutions of this difficulty are given.
Some critics, Horsley, Townsend, Gray, and others, think that these pasages are not chronologically arranged, and that verses 14-23 of chapter 16 belong between verses 9 and 10 of chapter 18. In the Vatican MS. of the Septuagint, chapters 17:12-31 and 55-18:5—twenty-nine verses in all—are omitted47 Houbigant, Kennicott,148 Michaelis, Eichhorn, Dathe, and Bertheau, on this account, deem these verses "interpolations." But such critics as DeWette,
147Davidson on Hebrew Text, pp. 57-58.
148 Dissertations, ii. 418-430.
Thenius, Ewald,149 Bleek, Stahelin, Keil, and Davidson150 reject this theory, and explain the passages in another manner.
As to Abner's ignorance of David, it is entirely conceivable that that former, as commander of Saul's army and constantly busied with military affairs may have known very little of David (who was probably with Saul only upon infrequent occasions),151 and nothing whatever as to his family connections.
Saul's ignorance of the young hero may be accounted for upon some one or more of the following considerations:
1. Possible anticipation of events, or transposition of passages. Oriental historians sometimes pursue the leading idea of the narrative to in result, and then return to fill up the omitted details.152 Hence, contemporaneous events appear consecutive.
2. Lapse of time, and consequent change in David's personal aspect. We do not know much time intervened; and the change in Eastern youths with respect to physical development is very marked and sudden.153
3. Bustle of war and court life, with the multiplicity of Saul's servants and attendants. So Kalkar, Saurin, and others.
4. Diseased mental state of Saul. Persons suffering from mania or insanity often forget their nearest friends. So Abarbanel and Bertholdt.
5. Ignorance of Saul, not as to David himself, but as to his family,154 of which, as we have seen, Abner might well be ignorant. Kimchi thinks that Saul wished to know simply whether David's valor was hereditary, that, if so, his family might be "made free in Israel."155
As to the fact that David is represented as "a mighty, valiant man, and a man of war" (16:18), but as a "stripling" a youth unaccustomed to arms (17:39, 42, 56 h
149 History of Israel, iii., 71, note
150Introd. to Old Testament, i. 530.
151 See p. 331 infra, "David's detention."
152 See Bible Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:21.
153Thomson (Land and Book, ii. 366, American edition), speaking of the sudden change of boys in such cases, says: "They not only spring into full-grown manhood as if by magic, but all their former beauty disappears; their complexion becomes dark; their features hard and angular, and the whole expression of countenance stern and even disagreeable. I have often been accosted by such persons, formerly intimate acquaintances, but who had suddenly grown entirely out of my knowledge, nor could I without difficulty recognize them." Mr. Thomson thinks that David, having returned to shepherd life, had probably undergone a change like that above described, hence was not recognized by Saul.
154 So Kurtz in Herzog's Real-Encyklopadie, iii. 300.
155 See chap. 17:25.
it may be said that the first epithets may have been applied to David not because he had already fought bravely in war, but on account of the courage and strength displayed by him in killing the lion and the bear (17:34-36), and which pointed him out as a future hero. On the other hand, the Hebrew term rendered "stripling" denotes, says Gesenius, "a youth, young man of marriageable age." Fuerst, "properly, a strong one."
Satan under restraint.
2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6
Suffered to roam at liberty
Job 1:6, 7; 1 Peter 5:8; Revelation 12:12
While the leader and some others of the fallen spirits are permitted to roam the earth, and to tempt mankind, the majority of these beings may be confined within the limits of their dark abode. Even those which are let loose have only a restricted liberty. Beyond certain environing lines they are not suffered to go; they are under strict surveillance—as we might express it by a borrowed figure, "bound over," or so secured that they cannot escape the judgment of the last day. Davidson156 thinks that "chains of darkness" signify metaphorically misery, obdurateness in wickedness, and despair. A being may possess physical liberty, yet wear, at the same time, the heaviest mental and spiritual chains.
Solomon reduced Hebrews to bondage.
1 Kings 5:13,15; 12:4
Hid not enslave them.
1 Kings 9:22
None of the Israelites were reduced to actual slavery. Nevertheless, Solomon's taxes and levies became very oppressive to the people in general. Enforced service, even though it be paid service, is commonly deemed distasteful and burdensome.
Zedekiah carried to Babylon.
Did not see Babylon.
2 Kings 25:7; Ezekiel 12:13
The first passage does not assert that Zedekiah should actually see Babylon, but that he should see its king, and go thither. The facts were these: The king of Babylon ordered the captive Zedekiah to be brought before him at his headquarters at Riblah. There, at the king's command, Zedekiah's eyes were pot out, and he was bound with brazen fetters and carried to Babylon. Thus the
156 Introd. to New Testament iii. 438.
above predictions were strictly fulfilled. Zedekiah saw the king of Babylon, saw not the city itself, although he was carried thither and died there.
There are many other discrepancies of a transparent or trivial character, like the following cases: Israel's sight, Genesis 48:8 and 10; Egyptians visible, Exodus 14:13 and 30; receivers of Moses' book, Deuteronomy 31:9 and 25-26; reception of promises, Hebrews 11:13, 39, and 33; remover of stone, Genes 29:2 and 4; speaker in a given case, Matthew 21:41 and Mark 12:9; Luke 20: 16; survivors of Sennacherib's army, 2 Kings 19:35. Now we cannot suppose that cases like these—founded as they are upon free and popular modes of thought and speech, common to all ages and countries—will furnish difficulty to persons possessed of candor and common sense—two qualities which the Bible invariably demands and presupposes in its readers.
TO BE CONTINUED