Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 2 (Part Six)

Did Abraham Leave For an Unknown Destination?
            Paul, when speaking of Abraham’s faith, says at Hebrews 11:8 (NWT): “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, although not knowing where he was going.” The skeptic, however, thinks that Abraham did know where he was going because it says at Genesis 12:5 (NWT): “Abraham took his wife Sarai and Lot the son of his brother and all the goods that they had accumulated and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and hey set for the land of Canaan.”
            I’ve heard this before: Canaan was unknown to Abraham and therefore qualified as an unknown land. However, I’d say that this is an unnecessary “solution” and am a bit doubtful of the interpretation behind it (as far as being sufficient by itself to explain the “contradiction”). The problem with the skeptics theory is not their interpretation of “not knowing” or “unknown,” but rather when Abraham “was called” and “obeyed.” It was not in Genesis 12:5 that Jehovah called Abraham, but it was “from the other side of the River.” – Joshua 24:3
            At the first time he called Abraham Jehovah didn’t specify that Abraham was going to Canaan.[1] The fact that Genesis 11:31 (NWT) states: “Terah then took Abrahm his son and Lot his grandson, the son of Haran, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, the wife of Abram his son, and they went with him out of Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan,” does not necessarily mean that they knew they were going there. For example, my mother could tell me and my brother to go to the store. My brother takes me to lunch first and then we wonder which store our mother wants us to go to, so we call her. Then we ask and find that is Costco. If she says, “Where did you stop on your way to Costco?” we do not assume that she thought we knew we were going there to begin with.
            What she did, and what I think Moses did was simply substitute the general description with a later established precise definition. In Abraham’s case the place where he was going to soon became apparent. (Genesis 12:7) Moses wanted to highlight that Terah’s leaving Ur with Abraham was part of God taking Abraham to Canaan, not just moving for no reason.
            I need not go on to defend this position, for it is clear that it is possible and I think likely. It is not improper, when writing after the event, to refer to things from your current perspective, even if it is a bit anachronistic, if it aids in better understanding of the account, or is due to one’s linguistic taste. There is no contradiction.

How Did Jacob Get the Birth Right?
            Jacob was not the literal firstborn son of Isaac, so he gained the rights of the firstborn somehow. The skeptic says that there are two accounts on how this happened, which, instead of complimenting each other, contradict each other. Genesis 25:31 (NWT) says: “Jacob said: “First sell me your right as firstborn!” And the following verses (32-34) show that this is what happened. Genesis 27:18-23 records, according to the skeptic, how Jacob got the birth right again – by deception.
            However, there are two things that the skeptic ignores, either of which would remove whatever “contradiction” there is. That is: The first instance shows how he bought something, and the second instance shows how he secured and received another thing. Let me add more detail; Jacob bought the birth right, which entailed a greater inheritance and also a blessing. Neither of which he got when he gave Edom soup. He had the right, due to his “being” the firstborn, but that didn’t mean Esau, who had despised the right, would honor it – the scriptures show he tried to get part of that inheritance. Even Isaac, it seemed loved Esau more than Jacob (for selfish reasons as per Genesis 25:27), so while the blessing of the firstborn was due him, he still had to secure it.
            Therefore, since the first account recorded how he got the firstborn’s right and the second recorded how he secured the blessing which was due him because of his “being” the firstborn, there is no contradiction. These accounts complement each other; you cannot have the second only, or you’d wonder why Jacob pretended to be Esau, and the first by itself, would not explain how Jacob actually got what was due him.

[1] So, if he knew he was going to Canaan when he was at Haran there is still no contradiction.

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