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.

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