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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.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

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

Did Eli Correct His Sons?
Eli, the High Priest during the time of Samuel, did not correct his sons according to 1 Samuel 3:13. The skeptic, though, points out 1 Samuel 2:23-25, where he says Eli supposedly corrects his sons. Eli says there (NIV): “Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours. No, my sons; the report I hear spreading among the LORD’s people is not good. If one person sins against another, God may mediate for the offender; but if anyone sins against the LORD, who will intercede for them?” But, does this really amount to contradiction? No, for his reproof was a slap on the wrist. He could have removed them from office, but he did not.

Were the Gibeonites Amorites or Hivites?
Joshua 11:19 says that the Gibeonites, who were spared by Joshua, but attacked by Saul, were Hivites, a nation of the Canaanites. However 2 Samuel 21:2 calls them Amorites, a separate Canaanite nation. The skeptic concludes that these verses are contradictory. However, it appears that “Amorite” was also used to describe all the Canaanite, for they were (at least for a while) the dominate nation of Canaan.[1] In the same way the Bible itself began to refer to the Israelites as Jews, despite the term at first denoting only those of the tribe of Judah. There is no contradiction; the Gibeonites were Hivites and Amorites.



[1] Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 1 p.97 says: “Some commentators consider the term “Amorites” as used at Genesis 15:16 and 48:22 to represent the peoples of Canaan as a whole. The Amorites do appear to have been the principal or dominant tribe in Canaan at the time of the Israelite Exodus from Egypt. (Compare De 1:6-8, 19-21, 27; Jos 24:15, 18; Jg 6:10.) If this is so, then it would be understandable that, at times, other subordinate and related tribes should be referred to under the name of the dominant tribe of the Amorites.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

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

Was the City of Ai Destroyed Forever?
Joshua 8:28 (NIV) says: “So Joshua burned Ai and made it a permanent heaps of ruins, a desolate place to this day.” However, Ezra 2:28 and Nehemiah 7:32 mention the “men of Bethel and Ai,” so was the city rebuilt?[1] The root of the problem is the Hebrew word that basically means “forever.” However, lest you conclude the skeptic is vindicated, I must point out that it is more nuanced than what meets the eyes. As evidenced by the 1984 edition of The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, Ai was reduced to an “indefinitely lasting mound.” The NAS Exhaustive Concordance is in full agreement here, for the definition of “ohlam” in brief is: “long duration, antiquity, futurity.”
            The scriptures use this word elsewhere for things that end (Exodus 21:6), as do we; so, how can we fault the scriptures for doing so? When we use “forever” in such a way we really are denoting something that is long-lasting, or for a thing that would otherwise go on forever. The city was in a ruined state for a great deal of time, at least “to this day.” There is no contradiction.

Why Were Some Canaanites Spared?
Judges 2:21 says that the remaining nations were spared to test Israel and Judges 3:1 says that were let remain to teach Israel war; is this a contradiction? No, but it is a false dilemma – if only you could do things for two reasons!



[1] The Pulpit Commentary says: “the Ai mentioned in Ezra 2:28 [and Nehemiah 7:32] may have been a city built, not on precisely the same spot, but near enough to it to take its name.” If this is the case, there is still no contradiction.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

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

Introduction


This I dedicate to those who pursue the truth, I also dedicate it to my friends who have either helped me in the first two, or for whom I continue to write.
I feel the work is coming along well, however, at the end of this I will only be done with around 15 percent of the skeptic’s list, at least by number, though some of his “contradictions” are so similar to each other so as to merit no additional attention (as of yet). In fact, I keep finding him trying to set two contiguous verses against each other – perhaps I should no longer address those at all, seeing that they are too easy. But, if I adopted that attitude I would not have that many contradictions to address. Perhaps, I am more done with the skeptic’s list than I think – numbers can be deceiving, 1001 contradictions can mean about 100 good ones that deserve an answer. Of those I think I have answered 30. However, seeing as people get stumbled over less, I feel obliged to cover the fluff as well.
I originally was going to write this third volume against the fluff only, seeing as it is majority of the skeptic’s arsenal. However, I decided to address some more genuine ones, though I found none particularly challenging. (If I do, I cannot really give credit to the skeptic, I am sure some other mind notice those; so, to that mind I dedicate this work in the hopes that such ones find this work and realize their error, which I take to be in honest-heartedness.)
I hope none who are striving to find these answers are irritated or insulted when I declare of the ease in which they are solved, some are not, but most are. These, however, are only easy because I have a good general knowledge of the scriptures and look at the context. I want this work to show you how you too can be able to solve them easily. Therefore, it is only fitting that I offer this up to Jehovah my God before Christ my Lord to the benefit of his people. I dedicate it to my brothers, Jehovah’s other Witnesses.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

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

Conclusion


            I wish you well until the time we next talk via my third book. If Jehovah wills it, then he will gather some to him through me. I hope for such an outcome, for this would be to his glory and your benefit due to his unfailing love. As for me, I will press on until I have completed this undertaking; but as for you, consider what is contained within these pages. If the words in here are good, then consider what the pages of God’s word contains! I am but a dim candle to the brilliance of that book, which is sorely underappreciated by calling it merely “the Good Book.” It is the wish of Jehovah’s Witnesses that all may gain a knowledge of that divine work.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

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

Was Woman Made at the Same Time as Man?
            Genesis 1:27 (NWT) says: “And God went on to create the man in his image, in God’s image he created him; male and female he created them.” The skeptic, when reading this, notes in his mind that God created both at the exact same time. Keeping that in mind, he then reads Genesis 2:7 (NWT) which says, “And Jehovah God went on to form the man out of dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living person,” and notes to himself, “the woman doesn’t exist yet.” Then he comes to Genesis 2:22 (NWT) which says, “And Jehovah God built the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman.” He concludes that at one time the Bible shows them to be made at separate times, and at once.
            However, his first reading, Genesis 1:27, is a summary and not a chronological statement. Therefore, his initial interpretation is flawed and his accusation falls flat; there is no contradiction.

Did Jacob Die on the Top of His Staff or at the Head of His Bed?
            The skeptic finds fault with what Genesis 47:31 (NWT) says, namely: “Israel bowed down at the head of his bed,” which the skeptic assumes to be the position that Jacob died in. He finds fault with this because Hebrew 11:21 (NWT) says: “By faith Jacob, when about to die, blessed each of the sons of Joseph and worshipped while leaning on the top of his staff.”
            The skeptic gathers that both of these describe the positon that Jacob died in because Hebrews says that he was “about to die.” But this doesn’t imply that he was on his death, for Genesis plainly reveals that he went on to speak for some length. He did not die in either of those positions! “However, does that not still mean that the “worship” or “obeisance” given to Joseph was done while Jacob was lying on the head of his bed or while leaning on the staff? It can’t be both,” the skeptic says.
            Read Genesis again, for it says: “that he bowed at the head of his bed,” not that he leaned on it (necessarily). It is entirely possible that he leaned on his staff while he was at the head of the bed. Or, the solution could be that the Septuagint, the version that Paul seems to quote from here in Hebrews 11:21, differs on this insignificant detail.
            In any even there is no contradiction, for the level of detail produced by Paul and the Greek Translators is in harmony with the expectations of their culture, and do not adversely affect us. I personally prefer the harmonization I submitted (the first one), but I will let you decide for yourself which harmonization you agree with.

Did Abraham Set Foot in Canaan?
            The skeptic says, and I agree, that the Bible says that Abraham set foot in the land of Canaan. The scriptures plainly state that he lived in tents at Hebron (Genesis 13:18), in the modern day West Bank, which was part of the land of Canaan. However they argue that Acts 7:5 contradicts that, and why? Because it says, “And yet, he did not give him any inheritance in it, no, not even enough to put his foot on?”
            Are they unable to distinguish words? Where does it say that Abraham did not live in this land? Why Stephen says in Acts 7:4 (NWT), “God caused [Abraham] to resettle in this land where you now dwell!” Must I speak slowly, “Receiving the land as an inheritance is not the same as living on it.” Ask the homeless if they own the place where they are. There is no contradiction, save on between the skeptic and common sense.

Friday, November 6, 2015

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

Could Abraham See the Stars?
            The promise that Abraham’s descendants would become as numerous as the stars is quite well known. Genesis 15:5 (NWT) says: “He now brought him outside and said, “Look up, please, to the heavens and count the stars, if you are able to do so.” Then he said to him: “So you offspring will be come.”” The skeptic interjects, saying that Abraham could not see the stars at this time, for the sun was only about to set in verse 12! The premise is of course that the only son that Abraham could see is the sun, that Jehovah’s request would be meaningless.
            However they improperly assume that verse 5 takes place during the night, rather than the early morning. In that case verse 1-4 could also occur in the early morning, being the end result of a sleepless night spent in worry by Abraham, or just a summary of that time. Verse 5 takes place in the early morning – when stars are still visible (last I checked) – and what follows (verse 7 -11) is a summary of the day time, or just what Abraham did next, without any mention of the events of the rest of the day. Then a new scene is introduced, the time is late evening that day. There is no contradiction, and this account, but is one harmonious record.

Did the Nephilim Die Off In the Flood?
            The Nephilim, the descendants of the angels who sinned, died in the flood, for Genesis 7:23 (NWT) says: “They were all wiped off the earth; only Noah and those with him in the ark survived.” Therefore the skeptic says that the Bible contradicts itself at when it says: “And there we saw the Nephilim, the sons of Anak, who are from the Nephilim.” (Numbers 13:33 NWT)
            The problem arises from the confusion that results from (mindlessly) taking what the Bible reports as others having said (the words of some fear-mongers) as what the Bible affirms. However seeing the whole tenor of the speech given by the ten spies was designed to instill fear in the hearts of their brother, of course they would exaggerate what they saw.[1] There is no contradiction.



[1] It is possible that there was an “urban legend” that the Nephilim were still alive, or that the stature of the Anakim caused people to associate the Nephilim with them until they were viewed as Nephilim themselves.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

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

Did the Water Come From Above Only or Also From Below?
            To the skeptic, the deluge is the time when God flooded the earth by making it rain only. He reads Genesis 7:4 (NWT) which says: “I will make it rain on the earth for 40 days and 40 nights, and I will wipe from the surface of the ground every living thing that I have made,” and his presumption is solidified in his mind. So Genesis 8:2 (NWT) which reads: “The springs of the watery deep and the floodgates of the heavens were stopped up, so the rain from the heavens stopped falling,” is perplexing because it mentions that the springs of the watery deep also were previously flooding the earth. God never said anything about this, did he? Well then there has to be a contradiction, or so the skeptic concludes.
            There is no contradiction, nor is there a reason that God cannot do more than he said at first, or that what he said at first was meant to indicate all that he was going to do. In fact often times God, or others (even today), when discussing their plans or recapping events, will mention only parts of the whole. In the same way that I may be asked what I did today and reply, “I went to the store,” despite also getting gas on my way back. I mentioned the major, or at least most noticeable part of my trip, but didn’t deny or hint at denying that I also got gas – it wasn’t necessary to mention.
            The rain was the most noticeable part of the deluge, for the springs were those of the watery deep, which were not visible. In fact springs on land are not entirely visible either; but who can miss when a rainstorm appears – and what rainstorm God brought in the days of Noah.
            Further, it is not even necessary to give a possible reason as to why God did not mention that he would open the springs of the deep, for the Bible, while large in scope, is far from exhaustive. It is possible that God communicated that detail to Noah, and others not recorded, but an explicit description is not needed. Perhaps such action was expected to be viewed as implied in the account. Regardless, there is no contradiction that can be gleaned from this account, for saying one thing will happen does not mean it is the only thing that will.

Monday, November 2, 2015

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

When Were Clean and Unclean Animals Defined?
            The skeptic, familiar in a vague way as to what clean and unclean means in regard to animals, knows that they are defined in the Mosaic Law. However, at Genesis 7:1-3, Jehovah God speaks of clean and unclean animals to Noah. So, the skeptic reasons that such distinctions could not be defined twice, perhaps in different ways, at different times. Or, that the concept comes from earlier times and is fully defined for Israel in the Mosaic Law. (Oh! What is this? The Solution?)
            Yes, the skeptic makes too much of this “issue.” What animals were clean and unclean could have been more or less determined in Noah’s day, perhaps by God himself, and then God later affirmed his own definitions for the Israelites.[1] There is no contradiction!

Did Abraham Ask God to Spare the Innocent?
            Who can forget that Abraham asked (and Jehovah answered patiently to reassure Abraham): “Will you, then, sweep away them away and not pardon the place for the sake of the . . . righteous who are inside of it?” (Genesis 18:20-33 NWT) To the skeptic, this establishes some general statement – Abraham asked God to spare the innocent. This, they say conflicts with the way Abraham didn’t bother to ask God to spare Isaac, when Jehovah told him: “Take, please, you son, your only son whom you so love, Isaac, and travel to the land of Moriah and offer him up there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I will designate to you.” (Genesis 22:2; NWT) From which account they establish another general statement – Abraham did not ask God to spare the innocent.
            These statements are woefully – and intentionally – misleading, for they make it seem that they refer to the same instance. If I wanted to rebuff the skptic, I’d say, “Abraham is not a robot, he doesn’t always do the same thing! If Abraham pleaded with God (who wasn’t going to save Sodom, or destroy the righteous – 2 Peter 2:9) to save some innocent men, but later refused to plea for the innocent people of another city that would not prove that the Bible contradicted itself! Rather, it would show that Abraham is a person with the inconsistencies of a human.”
            However, I wish to give a true rebuttal of the claim made, not for the skeptic who twisted the scriptures, who knows the answer to begin with, but for you. It is clear that the situations were different, so we can conclude that Abraham had not changed in character so much to become indifferent to the death of an innocent man that was his “only son whom [he] so love[d]!” Why then did he react in a different way? For one thing he likely learned the lesson that Peter drew from the account of Sodom and Gomorrah, namely: “Jehovah knows how to rescue people of godly devotion out of trial, but to reserve unrighteous people to be destroyed on the day of judgement.” (2 Peter 2:9) Abraham knew that Isaac would be in some fashion be preserved; the scriptures say “he reasoned that God was able to raise him up even from the dead.” (Hebrews 11:19) Something that our skeptic missed while he was critiquing the Bible from that self-same chapter earlier – have they not eyes? Further Abraham suspected that God would provide a substitute, saying: “God will provide himself the sheep for the burnt offering.” – Genesis 22:8
            Therefore, Abraham, knowing that Jehovah would preserve Isaac, or at least be able to raise him up, saw no need to ask Jehovah to spare him. This was not a punishment, and Abraham, while previously entertaining doubts, learned that even in those cases Jehovah spares the innocent. Therefore the tenor of each incident is too different even to make a contradiction appear.




[1] As he did with the prohibition against blood, or against murder which is self-evidently wrong.