Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 3 (Part Twenty)


            Until we meet again in the fourth part of this work, goodbye. I hope that you have enjoyed this work, and if you have not checked out the first two, that you read them (my blog is listed in the front of the book).
            If you find my answers insufficient – I do not – I hope that you do not rush to assuming that there is no solution. Take as a patter the last hundred or so contradictions I have refuted and do not be shaken from your faith.
            This work, I hope, instills enough confidence in you so that you can weather such minor storms, confident in the God who prophesied the arrival, death and ascension of his Son. Keep in mind these words, “seek His face forevermore.” I, therefore, committing this work to Jehovah, pray that he accept it with favor.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 3 (Part Nineteen)

When Did Elisha Get Elijah’s Garment?
2 Kings 2:11-13 shows that Elisha got Elijah’s garment after Elijah ascended to heaven.[1] So, then, why does 1 Kings 19:19 show that he had already got it? Let us first look at the context. There it (NWT) reads: “So he went from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat while he was plowing with 12 pairs of bulls ahead of him, and he was with the 12th pair. So Elijah went over to him and threw his official garment on him.”
I find it disappointing that the skeptic fails to note that the difference in time between these two passages is the entire length of Elijah’s prophetic mission with Elisha. Which is more likely, that Elijah gave him his official garment as his own then, or only right before Elisha succeeded him? The latter is of course true, but why did he throw it on him before? It was a sign that Elijah had chosen him and from then on Elisha “followed Elijah and began to minister to him.” – 1 Kings 19:21 NWT

Whom Did Jehu Kill?
2 Kings 10:13 says that Jehu killed the brothers of Ahaziah, but 2 Chronicles 22:8 calls them the sons of the brothers of Ahaziah, so the skeptic concludes that these two accounts are contradictory. However, he ignores that the term “brothers” could refer to close male relatives and not just one’s literal brothers. Therefore, there is no contradiction; Jehu killed close male relatives of Ahaziah.

Did God Approve of Jehu’s Killings?
            In addition to killing the wicked king of Judah and the wicked king of Israel, Jehu killed many at Jezreel. The historical accounts present Jehovah as approving of the destruction of the wicked house of Ahab and Omri. So why does Jehovah say many years later: “in a little while I will hold an account against the house of Jehu for the acts of bloodshed of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the royal rule of the house of Israel?” –  Hosea 1:4 NWT
            When Jehovah proclaimed this judgement on Jehu’s house it was after Jehu’s time, near, also, to the end of Israel itself. Jehu was not completely zealous to Jehovah, for he did not end the calf worship. Jehovah still gave him “four generations of [his] sons [to] sit on the throne of Israel.” (2 Kings 10:30 NWT) Jehovah started to cut off Israel slowly during this time, and we read of none of his sons being righteous. (2 Kings 10:32) So, should we be surprised if the bloodshed that Jehu’s house perpetrated, that which angers Jehovah, does not refer to the execution against Jehovah’s enemies, but to some later crimes, committed not even by Jehu per se, but one of his descendants? I think that this is the most likely explanation.

[1] See The Self-Harmony of the Bible, p. 12

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 3 (Part Eighteen)

Did God Choose Jerusalem?
            Solomon prayed to Jehovah and he quoted what was said by Jehovah. In 2 Chronicles 6:5,6 his words are recorded as: “I have not chosen a city out of all the tribes of Israel in which to build a house for my name to remain there, and I have not chosen a man to become leader over my people Israel. But I have [now] chosen Jerusalem for my name to remain there, and I have chosen David to be over my people Israel.” Now the problem, as the skeptic asserts, is that 1 Kings 8:16 does not have the words mentioning Jerusalem as a chosen city.
            Such lack, however, is not evidence against what Jehovah did not choose. The skeptic turns the silence into a negative, that is Jehovah did not choose Jerusalem – but it doesn’t say that, for the skeptic admits that 1 Kings 8:16 doesn’t mention anything about Jerusalem.
            However, we see that in both cases Solomon’s words harken back to what Nathan told David, informing David that Jehovah choose him as King and that David’s son would build the temple to God. It is evident that this house would be in Jerusalem. You cannot choose David and not pick Jerusalem, so the fact that 1 Kings 8:16 mentions the selection of David means that it also says Jerusalem was chosen. Why is this line not present? It could be due to the choice of Jeremiah, or a scribal error, but it is no sign of a contradiction.

Did Abijah Please Jehovah?
            Using 2 Chronicles 13:15-14:1 (NWT) the skeptic asserts that Abijah pleased Jehovah.[1] The text being long is reproduced below, however, the key phrases the skeptic bases the premise on are: “the true God defeated Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah,” “The Israelites fled before Judah, and God gave them into their hand,” “Abijah grew in strength,” and “they buried him in the City of David.”
We should note however that 1 Chronicles does not say: “Ahijah did was pleasing in the Jehovah’s sight.”[2] Further plenty of wicked kings grew in might and were buried in the city of David. The fact that Jehovah defeated Israel for him does not mean he was fully pleased with Abijah. His case is similar with the case of Jehu was similar, for Jehovah accomplished his purpose through each of them. There is no contradiction.

[1] “The men of Judah broke out in a war cry, and when the men of Judah shouted the war cry, the true God defeated Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. The Israelites fled before Judah, and God gave them into their hand. Abijah and his people inflicted a great slaughter on them, and the slain of Israel kept falling, 500,000 trained men. Thus the men of Israel were humbled at that time, but the men of Judah proved superior because they relied on Jehovah the God of their forefathers. Abijah kept chasing after Jeroboam and captured cities from him, Bethel and its dependent towns, Jeshanah and its dependent towns, and Ephrain and its dependent towns. And Jeroboam never regained his power during the time of Abijah; then Jehovah struck him down and he died.

“But Abijah grew in strength. In time he took 14 wives, and he became father to 22 sons and 16 daughters. And the rest of Abijah’s history, his deeds and his words, is recorded in the writings of the prophet Iddo.
“Then Abijah was laid to rest with his forefathers, and they buried him in the City of David; and his son Asa became king in his place. In his days the land had rest for ten years.”

[2] This is not to say that he did not do some things that were pleasing, for he and Judah must have (unless it also was that Israel was more wicked; cf. 1 Kings 15:3) and they had faith in God.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 3 (Part Seventeen)

Where Was the Altar of Incense?
The skeptic cites Exodus 30:1,6 (ESV) which says: “You shall make an altar on which to burn incense . . . And you shall put it in front of the veil that is above [near - NIV, NWT] the ark of the testimony, in front of the mercy seat that is above [above – NIV; over - NWT] the testimony, where I will meet you.”[1] And he cites Hebrews 9:3 (ESV) which says: “Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant.” So we are presented with two descriptions, one which places the altar in the Most Holy, the other that puts it just outside the Most Holy in the Holy. Which is correct?
            First, let us see what is being discussed in Hebrews. Insight on the Scriptures notes: “In Greek it is called thy·mi·a·teʹri·on. That word refers to something connected with the burning of incense. Was it the altar of incense? Some translations present the matter that way, and the use of the word by Philo and Josephus with reference to the altar of incense is cited in support.” However, after citing Exodus 30:1,6, the same work notes: “On the other hand, thy·mi·a·teʹri·on can properly be rendered “censer,” and a censer was actually taken into the Most Holy by the high priest on Atonement Day.”[2]
            Having, therefore, been presented with a harmonization, that is, the altar for incense was not in the Most Holy, but the censer having incense was brought in with incense, it being golden as well, we need not assume there to be a contradiction here. Supposing, though, that Paul intended to refer to the altar, what can be said? Let us bring his words up again; he says: “[The Most Holy] had a golden [altar].” Are we forced to conclude that Paul placed this in the Most Holy itself?
From Exodus 40:1-5 we see that the two things, the Ark of the Covenant and the golden altar were places very near to each other, with only the curtain to separate them. Also, 1 Kings 6:22 says that it “belonged to the innermost room,” which does not necessarily mean that it was in the other room. Therefore, there is no reason to suppose that Paul must have meant for the altar to be placed in the Most Holy; he could have simply meant for it to belonging to the Most Holy. To conclude, there is no contradiction, even if we suppose that he was referring to the altar of incense.

[1] The word that the ESV renders “above” in both cases, but which the NIV renders “near” and then “above” has no single meaning. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance notes that “al” means “above, according to, after, as against, among, and, as, at.”

[2] Leviticus 16:12,13

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 3 (Part Sixteen)

How Many Vessels of Gold and Silver Were There?
            Can Ezra add up numbers? This is the question the skeptic would like us to ask, for he notes that Ezra 1:9-11 just does not add up. There it (NIV) says: “Now this was their [the articles of the house of Jehovah] number: 30 gold dishes, 1,000 silver dishes, 29 duplicates; 30 gold bowls, 410 silver bowls of a second kind and 1,000 other articles. All the articles of gold and silver numbered 5,400.” Thus we are told that there were 2,499 such vessels by adding the numbers up, or 5,400 by explicit statement. Which is it?
            The skeptic, of course, would not like an answer where the uninspired, though painstakingly copied, manuscripts that we have today are corrupt in these small things. This, however, is the most likely answer. Perhaps the number at the end was garbled, or a small section of text dropped out. There is no contradiction in the biblical text proper, so there is no biblical self-contradiction.

How Many Sacrifices Did Solomon Offer?
            1 Kings 8:5 (NWT) reports: “King Solomon and the entire assembly of Israel, who had been summoned to meet with him, were before the Ark. So many sheep and cattle were being sacrificed that they could not be counted or numbered.” So, if this number is indefinite, why does 1 Kings 8:63 (NWT) say: “Solomon offered communion sacrifices to Jehovah: He offered 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep. Thus the king and all the Israelites inaugurate the house of Jehovah?”
            I find that the most likely explanation is that the expression ‘could not be numbered’ is hyperbole.[1] Though, it could be supposed that since verse 5 mentions what Solomon and Israel offered up, the total exceeded what Solomon alone contributed, that is, the 22,000 cattle and the 120,000 sheep. In a similar cases large donors of sacrifices were singled out and their contributions recorded. (2 Chronicles 30:24; 35:7-9). Regardless, there is no contradiction.

[1] Psalm 50:11 (NWT), for example, records God as saying: “I know every bird of the mountains,” but then saying, “The countless animals of the field are mine.” Is he unable to number the animals of the field, but able to count the birds? No, but he just using a common mode of human speech.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 3 (Part Fifteen)

Who Captured Debir?
“Finally Joshua together with all Israel turned toward Deʹbir and fought against it. He captured it,” says Joshua 10:38,39 (NWT) So, why did Judah and Simeon have to attack it again? (Judges 1:11) The simplest answer is that it could be Debir was retaken by the Canaanites and had to be taken again by Israel. We do note that Joshua 10:38,39 does not say that the city itself was destroyed. There is no contradiction.

How Many Tables Were There?
1 Kings 7:48 (NWT) states: “Solomon made all the utensils for the house of Jehovah: the altar of gold; the gold table on which to put the showbread.” 2 Chronicles 4:19 (NWT) states: “Solomon made all the utensils for the house of the true God: the alter of gold; the tables with the showbread on them.” So, how many tables were there? Is there a contradiction?
Looking at Exodus 25:23 we see that only one table was required (which Moses had built – Exodus 37:10,11), so it seems that the writer of Kings was emphasizing that Solomon fulfilled the requirement of Moses, while the writer of Chronicles emphasizes the full extent of Solomon’s productions. We see that David change the minimum age requirement for the Levites from 30 to 20, so Solomon may have in a similar manner added to the required number of tables for showbread. (1 Chronicles 23:24-32) However, it is entirely possible that a scribal error had crept into the text. It is not necessary to assume, but it might be the simplest solution.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 3 (Part Fourteen)

How Many Southward Cities of Judah Were Toward Edom?
Joshua 15:20-32 lists 36 names of towns, but at the end of the passage (NWT) says that there were “a total of 29 cities.”[1] How can this be rectified? The most obvious answer is that a scribe corrupted the number. Some commentators suggest that it is possible that only 29 of these 36 places are walled cities, but the rest are lesser settlements. However, considering the error is with numbers, I prefer the first solution.

Who Drove the Anakim From Hebron?
Joshua 11:21 (NWT) reports: “At that time Joshua wiped out the Anakim from the mountainous region, from Hebron, Debir, Anab, and all the mountainous region of Judah and all the mountainous region of Israel. Joshua devoted them and their cities to destruction.” So, why does Joshua 15:13,14 attribute the conquest of Hebron to Caleb?
I’ll allude to what I said in volume one: what the commissioner of a work commissions can be credited to him even if others do the actually work.[2] Joshua gave Hebron to Caleb; so why would the deeds directly done by Caleb preclude us from saying that Joshua did it? – Joshua 15:13, 14

[1] Hazor, while appearing a few times in the text, does not seem to be a scribal error; there were more than one “Hazor” and some towns included the word “Hazor” in their name.
[2] The Self-Harmony of the Bible, p. 8

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 3 (Part Thirteen)

Were Zorah and Eshtaol Danite or Judean Cities?
            According to Joshua 15:20,33 (NWT), which says: “This was the inheritance of the tribe of Judah by their families. . . . In the Shephelah, there were: Eshtaol, [and] Zorah.” Zorah and Eshtaol were Judean cities. But it seems, as the skeptic says, that Joshua 19:40,41 (NWT), which says: “The seventh lot came out for the tribe of Dan by their families. And the border of their inheritance was Zorah, [and Eshtaol],” contradicts that by assigning them to Dan. Is the skeptic right?
            We note, however, that Joshua 15:33 does not state that Judah’s territory went up to, but did not include, Eshtaol and Zorah, but that they were listed as Judean cities. In the case of Dan, though, these cities were listed as being their border; that is, Dan’s territory went up to them, but did not include them (this, however, does not preclude Danites from living there).[1]
            Take the example of the United States of America. Their territory reaches as far as Mexicali. Also, the United Mexican States, for their territory reaches as far as Mexicali, and Mexicali is their city. Did I contradict myself? No, for Mexicali is a border city, both countries reach as far as the northern edge of the city, but only one possesses it. We can see that there is no contradiction in the biblical account either.

Were Aijalon and Gathrimmon Given to Levi From Dan or Ephraim?
      Insight on the Scriptures says that Gathrimmon is “A city of Dan (Jos 19:40, 41, 45) assigned to the Kohathite Levites. (Jos 21:20, 23, 24) First Chronicles 6:66-70 appears to make Gath-rimmon an Ephraimite city. However, on the basis of the parallel account at Joshua 21:23, 24, Hebrew scholars believe that, because of scribal error, a portion of the text has accidentally dropped out and been lost. So, they suggest inserting the following (corresponding to Jos 21:23) before 1 Chronicles 6:69: “And from the tribe of Dan, Elteke and its pasture ground, Gibbethon and its pasture ground . . . ” This could have been the original reading. However, not to be overlooked is the possibility that Gath-rimmon was a Danite enclave city located within Ephraim’s territory.”[2]
      Further, they suggest the same thing could be said of Aijalon, but they also submit this reason, namely: “The Danites at first proved unable to oust the Amorites from Aijalon, but it appears that Ephraim from the N came to their aid and “the hand of the house of Joseph got to be so heavy that they [the Amorites] were forced into task work.” (Jg 1:34, 35) This may be the reason 1 Chronicles 6:69 lists Aijalon as belonging to Ephraim and as given by them to the Kohathites.”[3] Therefore, we see that there is no reason to conclude that the biblical record is at odds with itself, but there is more than enough evidence to suppose that it is harmonious.

[1] Insight on the Scriptures (vol. 2, p. 1241) notes that Zorah was “A city in the Shephelah allotted to the Tribe of Judah. . . . [It was s]ituated on the boundary between Dan and Judah, it was inhabited by people of Dan” though not exclusively. Nor, does the inhabitance of a city determine which tribe it was properly allotted to.

[2] Insight on the Scriptures, vol. 1, p. 900
[3] Insight on the Scriptures, vol. 1, p. 67-68

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 3 (Part Twelve)

Did the Philistines Come Into Israel During Samuel’s Days?
            1 Samuel 7:13 (HCSB) states: “So the Philistines were subdued and did not invade Israel’s territory again. The LORDS hand was against the Philistines all of Samuel’s [days].” So, the skeptic asserts that 1 Samuel 13:5 (JPS), which says: “And the Philistines assembled themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horseman, and people as the sand which is on the sea-shore in multitude; and they came up, and pitched in Michmas, eastward of Beth-aven [inside of Israel],” contradicts that, for Samuel was still alive, as 1 Samuel 13:10 shows.
            However, the skeptic is too hasty in his reading of 1 Samuel 7:13. He confuses the first part, that the Philistines were humbled and did not come into Israel’s territory with the latter, that Jehovah’s hand was against them during Samuel’s time; thus conflating them. Or, he thinks that by ‘they did not come into the territory of Israel again’ the writer implied that no more, for all time, did they come in to Israel. However, such a confused conclusion is not true.
            The phrase ‘they did not come into Israel’ does not imply an end to all invasions, but a respite of a good deal of time. 2 Kings 6:23 uses the phrase in such a way.[1] Also, the Philistines, while “brought low,” were not subjugated; however, as 1 Samuel 7:14 shows, Israel did eventually regain cities lost.[2] Further, as is almost unanimously agreed, “all the days of Samuel,” refers to his period as sole (or chief) leader of Israel, not to all his life.
            We read that by the time of Saul’s fighting against the Philistines that the Israelites were disarmed and there was a severe shortage of blacksmiths due to Philistine policy. How can this be reconciled with the fact that the hand of Jehovah was against the Philistines?
Two suggestions that come to mind: This expression is generalization made in a brief space, wherein the author did not want to digress into material he had not yet come to. And/or, the Philistines had gained some of their might back. We note, however, while they had a great deal of influence of Israel, they did not have large forces in Israel, contenting themselves with an uneasy peace secured by a number of garrisons. Further, no mention is made of, nor should we suppose that, they reclaimed the Israelite territory they previously controlled.
            In that case, as the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges does, we note: “[“all the days of Samuel” refers] only to the period of Samuel’s active judgeship. . . . We may conjecture that the Philistines reestablished their ascendancy [though not on the same scale – author] in his old age, in consequence of the weak and corrupt government of his sons.”c
            Therefore, we need not resort to saying that the scriptures contradict themselves. The cessations of invasions was not for all time, so even if by “the days of Samuel” his life was meant, it is perfectly acceptable to suppose that Jehovah’s hand was against them. At Mishmash Jehovah did defeat the Philistines. Further Israel, while not superior to the Philistines, still was able to regain their lost territory. And, while groaning under the Philistines and forbidden to have smiths, we do not see them being robbed of their grain as occurred under the Midianites. (Judges 6:1-6) In fact, 1 Samuel does not say that Jehovah sold them into the hands of the Philistines, nor that they became impoverished. In fact they had peaceful relations with other nations such as Amorites. – 1 Samuel 7:14

[1] In that verse it is noted that “the marauder bands of the Syrians” did not “come again into the land of Israel, but in the next verse, the king of Syria “gathered all his army.” – 2 Kings 6:23,24 NWT

[2] As noted previously, the Philistines did remain, to some degree, in Israel; however, their greater might was broken. Further, verse 13 describes that they no more came into Israel’s territory, but for some length of time ending short after their great defeat they still possessed some of Israel’s territory. Therefore, we need not, and should not, assume that their ‘not entering Israel’ was in an absolute sense, as note 5 points out. Benson Commentary on the Old and New Testaments notes that the Philistines “Came no more – That is, with a great host, but only molested them with straggling parties and garrisons.” Recall, that this verse is an overview of many years and that generalities would be expected in this telescopic overview.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 3 (Part Eleven)

Did Jesus Open His Mouth at His Trial?
Isaiah 53:7 (NWT), prophesying about the Messiah or Christ, says: “he would not open his mouth. He was brought like a sheep to the slaughter, Like an ewe that is silent before its shearers, And he would not open his mouth.” To this Matthew 27:12-14 (NWT) agrees, saying: “But when he was being accused by the chief priests and the elders, he made no answer. Then Pilate said to him: “Do you not hear how many things they are testifying against you?” But he did not answer him, no, not a word, so that the governor was very surprised.” So what is the skeptic’s problem?
            To the skeptic the fact that Jesus did answer a few questions, such as when he was asked if he was the king of the Jews or the Christ, seems to negate the general response Jesus gave, silence. The skeptic, reading with an intentionally hyper-literal lens, fails to note that Isaiah 53:7 shows that the Messiah would be silent in his own defense; we see that when Jesus did answer, it was either under oath or when the governor got to a matter that needed to be addressed, that is, in both cases the question was concerning whether he was the Christ or King of the Jews. When he answered, doing so in brief, he convicted himself in their eyes as being blasphemous or seditious.
            There is no contradiction, for he met the requirement of keeping silent as predicted by Isaiah – even if that standard does not meet with the standard of the skeptic (or does he think that sheep are completely silent? What if Jesus opened his mouth to breath?).

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 3 (Part Ten)

Was Sisera Standing or Laying Down When He Died?
            Now, the skeptic likes to point out that Judges 4:21 shows that Sisera was laying down when he was killed. So, when Deborah says: “Between her feet he collapsed; he fell and lay still,” at Judges 5:27 (NWT), the skeptic argues that this means that he was standing – how else can you fall?”
            What escapes the notice of the skeptic is that Judges 4:21 (NWT) shows that she “beat [the pin] into the ground”, but previously Sisera was sleeping – was he already sleeping on the ground? Given the fact that she, apart from killing him, was quite hospitable (giving him milk and not just water, for example) it is not likely that she had him sleep on the ground. Therefore, the fact that the pin was driven into the ground is indicative that his body jerked forward and then, as Deborah says, he fell by her feet. (Even if he was laying on the ground his body could have very well violently lurched forward, while he was in his death throws; leaving him to die by her feet as she pinned him to the ground.)[1] Therefore, the account is once again proved to be harmonious.

[1] Recall that we do not know her position and stance relative to him. Also, he did not have to jerk very much for him to then fall off of whatever he was sleeping on and lay before her.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 3 (Part Nine)

Did the Israelites Practice Idolatry?
The skeptic alleges that Joshua 24:14 contradicts Joshua 22:2 and Judges 2:7. Joshua 22:2 (NWT) reads: “You have done all that Moses the servant of Jehovah commanded you, and you have obeyed my voice in all that I commanded you.” And Judges 2:7 (NWT) reads: “The people continued to serve Jehovah all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and who had seen all of Jehovah’s great deeds in behalf of Israel.” However, if this is the case (the skeptic says), then why would Joshua urge Israel: “fear Jehovah and serve him with integrity and faithfulness, and remove the gods that your forefathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt and serve Jehovah?”
            The most important thing to note is that Joshua 22:2 is addressed to “the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh.” (Joshua 22:2) Therefore, verse 2 refers to a specific commandment Moses told and Joshua reiterated to those three groups. That command was: “Jehovah your God is giving you rest and has given you this land. Your wives, your children, and your livestock will dwell in the land that Moses has given you on [the east] side of the Jordan, but all your mighty warriors should cross over in battle formation ahead of your brothers. You must help them until Jehovah gives your brothers rest, just as he has given you, and they also take possession of the land that Jehovah your God is giving them. Then return to the land you were given to occupy and take possession of it, the land that Moses the servant of Jehovah gave you on the east side of the Jordan.” (Joshua 1:13-15 NWT) Therefore, Joshua 22:2 does not refer to part of Israel’s keeping the Law of Moses, but that part obeying a specific command given to them.
            What of Judges 2:7? This verse is a description of the general faithfulness of Israel after the exhortation of Joshua 24:14. This fact is evidenced that “Israel continued to serve Jehovah all the days of Joshua and all the days of Joshua and the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and who had known all of Jehovah’s deeds in behalf of Israel” according to Joshua 24:31. Therefore, they in some sense served Jehovah previously, but were not especially faithful in giving God exclusive devotion.[1] There is no contradiction.

Was Sisera Awake or Asleep When He Was Killed?
Judges 4:21 (NWT) says: “But Jael the wife of Heber took a tent pin and a hammer in her hand. Then while he was fast asleep and exhausted, she stealthily approached him and drove the pin through his temples and beat it into the ground and he died.” To the skeptic, though, the account in Judges 5:25-27 contradicts that. There it (NWT) says: “He asked for water; she gave him milk. In a majestic banquet bowl she offered curdled milk. With her hand she reached for the tent pin, Her right hand for the workman’s mallet. And she hammered Sisera, she crushed his head, and she smashed and pierced his temples. Between her feet he collapsed; he fell and lay still.”
“How,” the skeptic asks, “Can he ask for water if he is asleep?” He has a point – you cannot be sleeping and ask for water – but he forgot to read the complete account. Judges 4:19 (NWT) records that Sisera “said to her: “Give me, please, a little water to drink, for I am thirsty.” Which she did. So we see that the asking for water occurred before he went to sleep; so far the two accounts are harmonious; he was asleep when she attacked him.[2] Judges 5 does not deny that a length of time passed between his request and fatal attack. Recall, it is a song and Deborah would have thought it odd to say, "Also some time passed by and he fell asleep, la la la la.” Rather, she was highlighting Jael’s cleverness, how she put him at ease and then struck him down.

[1] Some, then, might wonder why God destroyed the Canaanites for his people. Jehovah answers that “it is not for [Israel’s] righteousness or for the uprightness of [their] heart that [they] are going in to take possession of [Canaan]; in fact, it is for the wickedness of these nations that Jehovah your God is driving them away from before you. . . . for [Israel is] a stiff-necked people.” – Deuteronomy 9:5,6

[2] This does not necessarily mean he didn’t wake up before he died, but only that when the fatal attack was delivered he was sleeping.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 3 (Part Eight)

How Many Men Were Set as an Ambush Against Ai?
            Joshua 8 records the destruction of Ai. In verse 3 and 4 (NASB) it reads: “Joshua chose 30,000 men, valiant warriors, and sent them out at night. He commanded them, saying, “See, you are going to ambush the city from behind it. Do not go very far from the city, but all of you be ready.” However, a seemingly contradictory report is given in verse 12 where 5,000 men were said to be sent as an ambush for the city, but is this really a contradiction?
            The most probable solution, as I see it, is that which is put forward by The Pulpit Commentary, namely: “[5,000] must be the true reading [for verse 3].” It is worth reading the relevant section in The Pulpit Commentary, for that work reviews many put forth harmonization’s which I will not. He, however, dismisses them in favor of the simplest solution – 30,000 was a scribal error. It is not inconceivable, for he argues “Thirty thousand men could hardly have been posted, without detection, in the ravines around Ai, whereas we are informed by travellers [sic] that there would have been no difficulty in concealing 5,000 men there.” Barnes’ Notes on the Bible agrees. Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary suggests that “Out of [the 30,000 men] a detachment of five thousand was sent forward to conceal themselves in the immediate precincts of the town.”
            Perhaps there can be no certainty as to what exactly happened, but we see that declaring that these verses contradict each other is a undue leap. In fact, these are part of one account and it is perfectly possible that, while the OT as received today has some slight errors (predominately in numbers or spellings), the original did not have such mistakes. Therefore, it is possible that the present manuscripts contradict each themselves, yet the Bible does not.

Were Joshua’s Stones Removed?
            As the river Jordan was held back, “Joshua also set up 12 stones in the middle of the Jordan at the place where the feet of the priests who carried the ark of the covenant stood, and the stones are there to this day.” (Joshua 4:9 NWT) However, the skeptic argues that they were removed according to verse 20 of that same chapter. Joshua 4:20 (NWT) says: “As for the 12 stones that they had taken out of the Jordan, Joshua set these up at Gilgal.” How do we solve this?
            Turn to Joshua 4:8 (NIV) which reads: “So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the LORD had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down.” Now, we see what the meaning of “Joshua also set up 12 stones in the middle of the Jordan” is.[1] There were two monuments, one in the Jordan and the other at Gilgal where the people camped after crossing the Jordan. (Joshua 4:19) The one at Gilgal was made of stones taken from the river, not from the other monument.
            We see, therefore, that there is no contradiction. The closest thing to such was derived from an awkward and unnatural way of reading, taken out of immediate context.

[1] The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges also notes that “The expression “midst of the Jordan” does not necessarily imply that the priests stood, and that the stones were built up, in the middle channel; but only that they were in the midst of the water when it flowed as it did before the occurrence of the miracle.” So, they did not build the monument at the center of the span of the Jordan’s width per se.

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 3 (Part Seven)

How Large Were the Levite Pastures?
            Numbers 35:4 (NASB) says: “The pasture lands of the cities which you shall give to the Levites shall extend from the wall of the city outward a thousand cubits around.” Numbers 35:5 (NASB) reads: “You shall also measure outside the city on the east side two thousand cubits, and on the south side two thousand cubits, and on the west side two thousand cubits, and on the north side two thousand cubits, with the city in the center. This shall become theirs as pasture lands for the cities.”
            To the skeptic this is a clear contradiction; he pays no heed to the traditional interpretation which resolves these two statements.[1] What is more, he ignores that the Greek text has 2,000 in both places. Therefore, if the skeptic will not accept the traditional interpretation, then let him accept that.

When was Joshua Called Joshua?
            Few know that Joshua (or Jehoshua) was first called Hoshea. Numbers 13:16 (NWT) records: “And Moses gave the name Joshua to Hoshea the son of Nun.” (Joshua means “Jehovah is salvation,” whereas Hoshea means “salvation.”) How, though, can this be reconciled with the many referenced to Joshua as Joshua before the name change in the book of Exodus, whose events predate those of Numbers? The simplest answer is that the events predate those of Numbers, but it is entirely possible that Exodus was changed to reflect the change of name of Moses’s successor. Joshua is only called Joshua about a half dozen times in Exodus, so it would not be inconceivable that Moses or Joshua amended the original, or a later scribe, such as Joshua himself, included Joshua over Hoshea as he transcribed the Torah. (Joshua 24:26) There is no contradiction.

[1] The traditional interpretation is that from the walls to 1,000 cubits were for a certain use, while from 1,000 to 3,000 were for another use. The first measured area was 1,000 cubits from the walls and they were for cattle, but the next measured area was 2,000 from the outer edge of the first and was for vineyards, or vice versa. Also, some interpret the two zones as each being measured from the city walls. That is, the first measured area is from the city walls to 1,000 cubits and the second measured area ends 2,000 cubits from the wall, starting where the first ended.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 3 (Part Six)

Were the Israelites Invincible?
Deuteronomy 11:22,23,25 (NWT) reads: “If you strictly observe this commandment that I am giving you and you carry it out, to love Jehovah your God, to walk in all his ways and to cling to him, Jehovah will drive away all these nations from before you . . . . Nobody will stand up to you. Jehovah your God will spread the dread and fear of you over the whole land on which you walk, just as he promised.”
If the skeptic read the first part of this verses (I know he did) he would not be surprised that “The Amorites confined the Danites to the mountainous region,” for they had lost their zeal in fighting them and did not seek to drive them away completely as evidenced by the chastisement that Jehovah’s angel gave at Judges 2:1-3 (part of the context of verse 25). There it (NWT) reads: “I brought you up out of Egypt into the land about which I swore to your forefathers. Furthermore, I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you. For your part, you must not make a covenant with the inhabitants of this land and you should pull down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed my voice. Why have you done this? That is why I also said, ‘I will not drive them away from before you, and they will ensnare you, and their gods will lure you away.’”
We note that the promise to Israel was conditional. So, it is not surprising that after he gave resounding victory to them, he later got displeased when they did not go about thoroughly removing the worship of the pagan gods and thus no longer helped them as powerfully.
However, the skeptic still challenges us with the account of Ai. Joshua 7:4 reports how when Israel was first entering Canaan to conquer it, before Jehovah rebuked them strongly, they were defeated – did Jehovah fail? No. Jehovah’s reply in Joshua 7:11 (NWT) shows that “Israel has sinned. They have violated [the] covenant that I commanded them to keep.” This violation was not as severe as their later violation, so Jehovah eventually overthrew Ai. Therefore, there is no contradiction. Jehovah never promised conditional invincibility.

Did Any of Moses’ Contemporaries Enter the Promised Land?
Numbers 26:65 shows that Joshua and Caleb, who were faithful, were allowed to enter the Promised Land. But, don’t Moses’ words at Numbers 32:13 contradict that? The skeptic would like us to think so. Moses says there (NWT): “So Jehovah’s anger blazed against Israel and he made them wander about in the wilderness for 40 years, until all the generation that was doing evil in the eyes of Jehovah came to its end.” But, before we pass judgement too soon, let us look up to verse 11 and 12. They (NWT) say: “The men who came out of Egypt from 20 years old and up will not see the land of which I have sworn to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, because they have not followed me wholeheartedly – except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua the son of Nun, because they have followed Jehovah wholeheartedly.”
            I can’t pass judgement on the skeptic. He was probably completely honest in his heart when he complied this contradiction. No doubt a visual impairment caused him to pass over the names of the two survivors he thought verse 13 implied also died. I wouldn’t want to charge him with stupidity, or inability to read – he clearly found verse 13.

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 3 (Part Five)

When was King Jabin Killed?
Joshua 11:1 reports that a king of Hazor, Jabin, was killed. Judges 4:2 reports that a king of Hazor, Jabin, was killed about 120 years afterward. The skeptic concludes that the Bible must be placing a singular event in two different time periods, but we can see that two different men were involved, who reigned from the same city at different times.
In fact, taken into account, the differences of these two Jabins preclude the possibility that they are contradictory accounts of the same man. Judges describes the king into whose hand Jehovah sold Israel. This account is much richer in detail. Jabin II had 900 war chariots with iron scythes, and he oppressed Israel for 20 years. He had an army chief named Sisera who lived in Harosheth of the nations.
Jabin I was powerful no doubt, but he was not able to oppose Israel for 20 years. He gathered his own forces along with those of his league and was defeated. No mention of Sisera of Harosheth of the nations; and this one was sold into Israel’s hand without first oppressing Israel. Therefore, the evidence is stacked against the skeptic. How can he prove what a reasonable person would not assume, that Jabin I and II are in fact the same? No, my friends, there is no contradiction.

Was Keturah Abraham’s Wife or Concubine?
Genesis 25:1 shows Keturah to be Abraham’s wife. Concerning the time of her marriage, Insight on the Scriptures comments: The order of events as set forth in the book of Genesis is quite conclusive in indicating that it was after Sarah’s death that Abraham took Keturah as his wife.”[1] However, 1 Chronicles 1:32 says that she was his concubine. Do these verses pose that great of threat to Biblical inerrancy?
            As is known by some, a concubine is a secondary wife. Further it seems that Genesis 25:5,6 refers to her as concubine as well. There it (NWT) says: “Later on Abraham gave everything he had to Isaac, but Abraham gave gifts to his sons by his concubines. Then while he was still alive, he sent them eastward, away from Isaac his son, to the land of the East.” I says this because Abraham had six sons with Keturah, so it seems logical that if Isaac is the one who remained with him and only he and his brother Ishmael (who was already gone and grown up by the time Sarah died) were the two to bury him (Ishmael came back) that these six sons also were sent eastward with gifts. If this the case, then these six sons’ mother was a concubine, meaning Keturah was a concubine; which, as I said made her a secondary wife.
            I have stressed this point before, it is highly unlikely for any work to contradict itself within a few lines. Therefore, it is evident that the author of Genesis, whom we know is Moses, knew of her as a concubine and felt it harmonious to refer to her as such and as a wife. There is no contradiction with 1 Chronicles either.

[1] Insight on the Scriptures, vol. 2, p. 147

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 3 (Part Four)

Who Conquered the Canaanites?
            The Bible supposedly gives the conquest of Canaan to Joshua, then to Judah. Joshua 11:23 (NWT), which says: “Joshua took control of all the land, just as Jehovah had promised Moses, and then Joshua gave it as an inheritance to Israel by their shares to be divided among their tribes. And the land had rest from war,” is used by the skeptic to establish their claim that the complete conquest of Canaan was accomplished by Joshua. So, Judges 1:1,2,4 (NWT) is used to contradict that, saying: “After the death of Joshua the Israelites inquired of Jehovah: “Who of us will go up to fight against the Canaanites?” Jehovah replied: “Judah will go up. Look! I am giving the land into his hand.” . . . When Judah went up, Jehovah gave the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hands.”
The skeptic’s contention that Judges 1:4 assigns the conquest of the entire land of Canaan is misplaced. As evidenced by Judges 1:3 Judah was concerned with clearing the Canaanites who dwelt in their assigned territory, but not all the land of Canaan.