Pages 7-11: spring 1990
A reply to "Holes...."
PLUGGING "HOLES" IN THE TWO-AMRAMS THEORY
Any success, benefits, or accomplishments in any task are directly
related to Him in whom we have complete dependence. We have prayed for
His providence and guidance as we approach this opportunity to serve Him.
I said earlier that Mr. Till's first article was held together with bubble gum
and kite string. In his second article I do not see how any skeptic could
have done a better job with the available evidence than Mr. Till has done.
He has marshalled his evidence with precision from the least persuasive
toward the most persuasive. Yet his second article in one way is worse than
the first. It seems to me to be held together with not much more than a
strained look and static electricity. For example, when he sent his article,
he said it was composed of 3,650 words. He said I could use an equal amount
in reviewing it. Out of his 3,650 words, I want you to inspect 78 of the key
ones. Notice these pivotal words by which the article is sewed together:
"If we assume... and I guess I can assume this... we could
reasonably assume that... would have surely... one wonders
why... doesn't necessarily follow... many of them could have
been... we could even imagine... this theory would certainly
fit... it might well be... and maybe... and makes it quite possi-
ble... I would find it much easier to swallow... believe that the
writer of this passage... if that is so... is it reasonable to be-
lieve... if so... possibly realizing...."
Now does that sound as if someone is actually proving anything? Does it
have the flavor of logic and the scientific method? It's a pretty "iffy" docu-
ment for one who claims the Bible is a "veritable maze of irreconcilable con-
tradictions." Surely when it comes to proof, facts, truth and error, "as-
sumption don't feed the bulldog."
Let me just go through Mr. Till's article point by point, treating
quibbles or major points as they arise. Remember, I showed that Mr. Till's
position required Moses to have 2,150 brothers. Mr. Till mumbled something
about the "outrageous exaggeration" of census figures in the books of Num-
bers and Exodus. Then he said he couldn't believe two or three million people
wandered about for 40 years in the Sinai peninsula. Why didn't a few of
them stumble accidentally into the promised land, given the small size of the
peninsula, he wonders. Now isn't that foolish? Sinai is over 20,000 square
miles and easily double the size of the promised land. It is about the size of
West Virginia, twice the size of Maryland, four times the size of Connecticut,
and half the size of Ohio. New York City alone, in 1989, had more than
twice the population of the whole nation Moses brought out. The Israelites
were organized into a close mass and miraculously sustained with manna,
flesh, and water.
Using a little "outrageous exaggeration" of his own, he says I would be
hard pressed to find one reputable Bible scholar who says the figures in
Exodus and Numbers are close to being realistically accurate. Unless the
definition of "reputable Bible scholar" is "one who agrees with Farrell Till's
assertions," I find many, and that fact doesn't help Mr. Till's credibility.
Edersheim says the population was upwards of two million (Old Testament
Bible History, Alfred Edersheim, II, 45). Further, The International Stand-
ard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) defends both 600,000 for warriors and 2.5
million for the whole congregation. It successfully argues that seventy souls
could multiply into 2.5 million in 215 years, much less 430 years (IV, 2166).
Next, Halley's Bible Handbook, so popular that it has gone through 61 print-
ings, puts the figure at 3,000,000 (pp. 146-147). Then The Bible Commen-
tary, editor F. C. Cook, takes the numbers as authentic. It points out
that the camp was arranged with a military precision and would cover an area
of around three square miles (I, 660). Also, Commentary on the Old Testa-
ment in Ten Volumes by C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch says, "Modern critics
have taken offense at these numbers, though without sufficient reasons,"
(III, 5). We could go on, but that's enough.
Mr. Till says if I could establish the reliability of the figures in
Numbers 3:27-28 he would agree there were two Amrams as per Archer's
Book. Oh? Numbers 3: 27-28 says the Kohathites in Moses' day numbered
8,600. Is 8,600 reliable? Could they have gotten to be that number in nine
or ten generations. Let's see. Let's say Kohath had only three sons instead
of four, and each of those sons had only three sons. A geometric sequence
or progression of only eight generations would be 30 + 31 + 32 + 33 + 34 + 35
+ 36 + 37 + 38 = 9,841. This number is more than enough and consistent
with I Chronicles, where I showed several individuals contemporary with
Moses were in the ninth or tenth generation from those who entered Egypt.
And, fatal to Mr. Till, it is consistent with what we have been arguing for
Exodus 6. So the figures are very reliable, even if one counts only the last
two or three generations. But we will not demand that Mr. Till accept
Archer's "Two-Amrams Theory" unless he wants to. Let's move on. Alas,
things get even worse.
Remember, if Amram were responsible for one fourth of the 8,600
Kohathites and that same Amram was the father of Moses and Aaron, then
Moses and Aaron would have had around 2,150 brothers, according to Mr.
Till's position. But Mr. Till responded, saying that maybe they were sons
and grandsons of Aaron and Moses, and through their sister Miriam they
could have been nephews and great-nephews. Let's say the 8,600 is com-
posed also of sons and grandsons. Let's help him by supposing that Amram
and each of his three brothers had four sons (which they didn't; I'm being
generous to Mr. Till's theory) and each of those four had four sons and so
on. How many males would we arrive at by the time of the grandsons? There
would be the generations of Kohath, Amram, Aaron, Eleazar, and Phinehas.
Notice: 40 + 41 + 42 + 43 + 44 = 341. That's 8,259 short, a far cry from
Well, what about the nephews and great-nephews? First, if Miriam
married a descendant of Kohath, the children would already have been count-
ed as one of the sons descended from Kohath. Second, if she married out-
side of Kohath, Merari for example, her children would not have been Koha-
thites. Mr. Till is just not thinking.
But all this led Mr. Till to believe that maybe there are missing links in
the genealogy. He is forced to think this way because of the problem of
2,150 brothers of Moses. So he says maybe the writer skipped some genera-
tions between Aaron and Eleazer and between Eleazar and Phinehas. Could
he be right that the skips are between Aaron and Eleazar and between Elea-
zar and Phinehas? Notice Numbers 25:11: "Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the
son of Aaron the priest...." This clearly says Phinehas was the son of
Eleazar and Eleazar was the son of Aaron. See also Ex. 28:1; Num. 3:4;
Lev. 10:16; Num. 4:16; Num. 20:26; Jud. 20:28; Josh. 24:33; and Num.
25:11. But Mr. Till will probably point out that "son" or "daughter" can
mean "descendant," and he would be right. But in this case he would be
wrong. Notice two passages:
And Aaron took him Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab,
the sister of Nashon, to wife; and she bare him Nadab and
Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, (Ex. 6:23).
And Eleazar Aaron's son took him one of the daughters of
Putiel to wife; and she bare him Phinehas, (Ex. 6:25).
It is hard to figure out how Eleazar could have been born to the wife of
Aaron and yet be Aaron's grandson. Similarly, it is painful for even a
dedicated enemy of the Bible to swallow that Phinehas was born to the wife of
Eleazar but then was Eleazar's grandson. These are the kinds of things that
give skeptics brief moments of religion that they have to bravely fight down.
But now, let's locate the missing links somewhere else. Let's put them
between Kohath and the four: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. But again,
Exodus 6:18 calls them all sons of Kohath. True, but we have said "son" or
"daughter" can be used in the sense of "descendant." Notice: "of the sons
of Kohath, Uriel the chief, and brethren a hundred and twenty," (I Chron.
15:5). Uriel was not the literal son of Kohath. (See also verses 6, 7, 9,
10; I Chron. 23:20; 24:24.) Too, Shubael is called a son of Amram, although
Shubael lived in David's day, (I Chron. 24:20). Similarly, Shebuel is called
"the son of Gershom, the son of Moses," (I Chron. 26:24). That was way up
in David's time. "Sons" is copiously used in the sense of "descendant"
throughout. See I Chronicles 23:43; II Chronicles 29:14 and I Chronicles
We can see how a man's four literal sons could, because of their rela-
tionship with Moses and Aaron, have divided all Kohath descendants among
them. Yet, Uzziel, Amram, Izhar, and Hebron did not have to be literal
brothers but only descendants of Kohath and near kinsmen to each other.
This is a more normal division. But isn't Uzziel called the uncle of Aaron?
Yes. Would not that make him the literal brother of Amram? No! The word
in Hebrew for "uncle" is doud. It is used, according to Theological Wordbook
of the Old Testament, around 58 times. In the King James version, it is
translated 38 times as "beloved," eight times "love," and 17 times "uncle," (I,
184). Too, The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew and English
Lexicon says it can mean "beloved one," "friend," or "kinsman," (p. 187).
In Amos 6:10, the ASV gives a footnote for it as "kinsman." So Mr. Till's
line of argumentation is becoming dreadfully becalmed. Let's continue on.
Let's easily handle his Genesis argument.
God said, "Know of a surety that thy seed shall be sojourners in a land
that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four
hundred years; and also that nation whom they shall serve, will I judge; and
afterward shall they come out with great substance.... And in the fourth
generation they shall come hither again...." Mr. Till points out that they
were to come out of bondage in the fourth generation, not the eighth, ninth,
or tenth. Mr. Till underlined "and in the fourth generation." I underlined
"four hundred years." When you put them together, you can see that in an
age when men lived well over one hundred years, God was using "generation"
as equivalent to "century." Four generations are four centuries. The con
text clearly argues "generations" were not numbered by counting the number
of people in a lineage line but by counting centuries. Notice what the Theo-
logical Wordbook of the Old Testament says generation can mean: "The circle
of a man's lifetime, from birth to death. This is the apparent meaning at
Genesis 15:16 where four generations cover an epoch of 400 years (cf. Gen.
15:13)," (III, 186). This reference quotes Keil in his commentary, "In the
times of the patriarchs it was reckoned at a hundred years," (216). It adds,
"So among the Romans the word seculum originally signified an age or genera-
tion of men and was later transferred to denote a century." That was the
way God was using it, as a century, as the context proves. Mr. Till claims
they were not in Egypt 400 years, but he didn't discuss the "four hundred
years" of Genesis 15:13, if he noticed them, although he quoted the passage.
Regardless, his Genesis argument just went belly up.
Then Mr. Till admitted that there are skipped generations in the Bible,
but he said that there has to be a Bible passage that says they were
skipped. Well, if by God's grace I enter heaven, I will ask Moses if Moses
was aware of Mr. Till's new rule of Hermeneutics. In the meantime, I should
point out that Genesis 15:13-16 (400 years) and the genealogies of I Chroni-
cles, which show 8 to 10 generations, and Numbers 3:27-28 (Moses having to
have 2,150 brothers if there are no skipped generations) all clearly show that
some generations were elided in Exodus 6 for the sake of brevity. Such
eliding in genealogy is biblically common.
Next, Mr. Till sees something astounding in the text. There seems to
be a hidden agenda. Everything focuses on Levi and his sons. The writer is
trying to make a point. What could it be? Why, he is trying to prove that
Aaron is a direct descendant of Levi! Mr. Till seems to think there was a
continuing struggle between the Aaronic branch of Levi and other branches,
yet Korah's rebellion did not have a thing to do with whether or not Aaron
descended from Levi but whether all the people could be priests or just
Aaron's family. Members of the tribe of Reuben were even involved, (Num.
16:1). But Mr. Till and his scholars seem to insist Moses didn't write Exodus
6. Too, they seem, in a kind of hysterical way, to know all kinds of things
about this fairy scribe who supposedly did write this portion. It is a shame
to spoil a really good cock-and-bull story; however, notice a few things they
don't know. They don't know of a scripture or any ancient document that
says this man even existed. Do they know he was a priest? No. Do they
know where he lived? No. Do they know his family? No. Do they know
when he wrote? No. Could he be imaginary? Yes! This sly priest, like
Melchizedek, had neither father nor mother, beginning of days or end of life,
(Heb. 7:3). One of the main differences between the two is that Melchizedek
had a name while this other mysterious priest did not. It seems a disgrace
that Mr. Till should cruelly force him to parade before us without even a
name, so I think we should give him one. From now on I'll just call him
Further, Mr. Till says that Moses shifted from one Amram to another
with very poor transition. Mr. Till claims it is a "serious compositional
error." Let's have a little Christian charity, Mr. Till. It was difficult for
Moses to get it right. After all, he lived over 3,000 years before Mr. Till's
English Grammar was published. Second, we have shown that there was one
Amram. But Mr. Till says this Amram took a wife, Jochebed, his father's
sister, Levi's daughter (Ex. 2:1-10; Num. 26:59). Like the demon who was
afraid he might be tormented before his time (Matt. 8:29), Mr. Till said, "Mr.
Moffitt will argue that she was a daughter of Levi only in the sense that she
was a descendant of Levi, and he could probably get away with this were it
not for Numbers 26:57: 'And the name of Amram's wife was Jochebed, the
daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt....'" He claims the New
International Version tampered with the text, rendering it: "The name of
Amram's wifewas Jochebed, a descendant of Levi, who was born to the
Levites in Egypt." Mr. Till was slanderously wrong, although I'm sure he
did not intend to be, when he said that the NIV tampered with the Hebrew
text. The text wasn't changed; it was only rendered into English. The ren-
dering was interpretative, true, but in this case it is correct. Take the word
beget (Hebrew, yalad). Even if Jochebed were a descendant of Levi nine
times removed, Levi could still be said to have begotten her. According to
the Hebrew way of thinking, she would have been his daughter. Notice what
Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says on "bear, beget, bring forth,
travail": "The word [yalad] does not necessarily point to the generation
immediately following. In Hebrew thought, an individual by the act of giving
birth to a child becomes a parent or ancestor of all who will be descended
from this child. Just as Christ is called a son of David and a son of Abra-
ham, yalad may show the beginning of an individual's relationship to any
descendant," (I, 379).
Yes, Jochebed was born to Levi, but only in the Hebrew sense. In
that sense Jacob told Joseph that Joseph's two sons were his [Jacob's] (Gen.
48:5). Ruth had a child and the people said, "There is a son born to
Naomi," (Ruth 4:17). Can one, in Hebrew thought, be born to a person in
the sense of tribe, family, or house? Notice: "And he cried against the altar
by the word of Jehovah, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith Jehovah: Be-
hold, a son shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name," (I Kings
13:2). In Numbers 1:18, yalad was used in the sense of declaring tribal
pedigrees. In Numbers 11:12, Moses even used yalad of himself, as if he
could have been thought of as having given birth to Israel. So as a de-
scendant, Jochebed was born unto Levi, just as Israelites could even bare
children unto God, (Ezek. 23:37).
But Mr. Till wonders why it states that she was born in Egypt. The
simple answer is obvious; she was born in Egypt. There is no great mystery
behind such an expression. One may as well make wild speculation and weave
mysterious theories out of the fact that it says the same thing about Ephraim
and Manasseh. It says, "and the sons of Joseph, who were born to him in
Egypt," (Gen. 46:27). It is silly to postulate and conjecture fanciful stories
that assume some enigmatic Ephramite wanted to prove Ephraim descended
from Joseph and that this statement is part of a mysterious XYZ document
secretly redacted by this undivulged Ephramite later in the land of Israel.
We can all see that Mr. Till is a gifted hypothesizer and that he deeply en-
joys his notions. Yet, if we want fiction, let's turn to Hollywood and not to
So we showed that once again there are some elided generations in a
genealogy. It was common. We have answered every objection Mr. Till could
come up with against this position. There is no intertextual contradiction, so
Mr. Till's final statement that when I win I lose is about as likely as walking
down the street today and seeing a nun with a harpoon.
Finally, I covered everything Mr. Till brought up. If I missed any-
thing it was an oversight. The Bible as originally written is inerrant. We
wish it were possible to reply to every article written in The Skeptical Re-
view. This article demonstrates we do have replies if we are given the
opportunity. But we appreciate what we can get. As Jesus said, "The
scripture cannot be broken," (Jn. 10:35). Believing that with all our heart,
we stand ready to refute, by God's help, any article discrediting the Bible
that will be published in The Skeptical Review.
(Jerry Moffitt's address is P. O. Box 1275, Portland, TX 78374-1275.)
EDITOR'S NOTE: Mr. Moffitt called our attention to certain "pivotal words"
that make Till's article "a pretty 'iffy' document." Turn about is fair play,
so we suggest that Mr. Moffitt take another look at his own articles for
expressions like the following, which are just as iffy as anything he quoted
from Till's article: "The originals may just happen to be inerrant.... God
may have wanted perfect standards.... If Amram claimed one fourth....
Let's say (in other words, let's assume) Kohath had only three sons.... If
Amram were responsible for one fourth of the 8,600 Kohathites.... Let's
help him by supposing.... Let's locate the missing links somewhere
else. Let's put them between Kohath and the four.... Even if Jochebed
were a descendant of Levi nine times removed, Levi could still be said to
have begotten her...." This all sounds very speculative to us, so if Till's
articles lacked "the flavor of logic and the scientific method," as Mr. Moffitt
charged, the same would have to be true of his. So what has he proven?
We commend Mr. Moffitt for effectively showing that the Exodus-6 text
required Eleazar to be the literal son of Aaron and Phinehas the literal son of
Eleazar, (p. 8). In so doing, he only confirmed what we have been arguing:
this genealogy was intended to be a complete, generation-by-generation family
tree. All that Mr. Moffitt said in making his point could be used to show
that Aaron and Moses were also the literal sons of Amram, so if this much of
the passage was literal, what is Moffitt's reason for interpreting "sons" to
mean "descendants" in verse 18? If the expression "Aaron's son," as applied
to Eleazar (v:25), was literal and if "sons of Izhar" was literal in verse 21
(compare with Num. 16:1), by what interpretation principle does Moffitt make
"sons of Kohath" (v:18) mean "descendants"? The answer is simple: unless
he distorts the obvious meaning to suit his needs, he is left with a glaring
contradiction in the Bible text, and he must avoid that at all costs.
For the same reason, he must make dod in Lev. 10:4 not mean "uncle"
but "kinsman." We have checked nine translations, and all of them refer to
Uzziel as "the uncle of Aaron," but Mr. Moffitt can't accept this. If he does,
his two-Amrams theory will suddenly evaporate.
Or does he in fact believe in the two-Amrams theory? On page ten, he
said, "... we have shown that there was one Amram." We freely admit to
being confused, because we thought he was arguing that there were two
Amrams. Perhaps he can clarify this for us in a later issue.
There is much more that we could say about Mr. Moffitt's failure to
sustain his position, but we must get to other matters in future issues. The
last word, however, has not been said on this point. It will be brought up
again in the Till-Moffitt debate scheduled to begin August 13.
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