Page 8: summer 1992 SQUEEZING FIFTY YEARS INTO TWENTY Farrell Till No contradictions in th

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Page 8: summer 1992 SQUEEZING FIFTY YEARS INTO TWENTY Farrell Till No contradictions in the Bible? That's what bibliolaters say, but the facts say something else. A simple example of discrepancy can be found in 1 Samuel 7:1-2, which says that the Ark of the covenant was taken to the village of Kiriath-jearim and kept in the house of Abinadab for twenty years. Prior to its being taken to this place, it was captured in battle by the Philistines, who after- wards began to suffer all sorts of misfortunes, ranging from the mysterious destruction of a temple idol of their favorite god Dagon to painful tumors that the people were afflicted with (1 Sam. 5). To rid themselves of the ark, which they thought was the source of their problems, the Philistines accepted the counsel of their priests and diviners who had advised them to send the ark away on a cart pulled by two undriven milch cows that had never been harnessed to a yoke (1 Sam. 6:1-9). The wisdom of the priests and diviners was that if the cows took the route to Bethshemesh, this would be an omen that the evil in their midst had been caused by the presence of the ark. The cows did indeed pull the cart to Bethshemesh, where the townsmen rejoiced when they saw the ark (vv:10- 13). Unfortunately, some of them looked inside the ark--an absolute no no--and Yahweh, in typical fashion, struck them with a "great slaughter" that killed 50,000 men (v:19). Understandably frightened by this disaster, the survivors sent a message to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim asking them to take custody of the ark. Men were sent to fetch the ark, and when it arrived in Kiriath-jearim, it was taken to the house of "Abinadab on the hill" (7:1-2), where it remained for twenty years. Second Samuel 6:1-11 relates how that king David gathered 30,000 "chosen men of Israel" to go to the house of Abinadab on the hill and transport the ark to Jerusalem. On the way back, Uzzah, one of the drivers of the cart, touched the ark to steady it when the oxen stumbled, and Yahweh struck him dead (vv:6-7). Uzzah was a son of Abinadab, who had conscientiously cared for the ark for twenty years, but, of course, none of this mattered to Yahweh. Uzzah touched the ark, and apparently because he wasn't a Kohathite of the priestly tribe of Levi (Num. 3:27-32,38), Yahweh instantly dispatched him to the nether world for touching a sacred object. Good intentions just never seemed to matter to the petulant Yahweh, but that is another story for another time. The point of this article is that all this may make for a quaint little tale, but it is a tale with a serious discrepancy in it. The ark was captured by the Philistines in 1 Samuel 4, well before Saul was made king of Israel in chapter 10. It stayed at the house of Abinadab for twenty years until it was trans- ported to Jerusalem by David, who was Saul's successor to the throne. Yet we are told that Saul reigned as king for 40 years (Acts 13:21). Just how did this happen? How could 40 years pass throughout Israel in every place except Abinadab's house on the hill at Kiriath-jearim, where somehow only 20 years went by? On closer scrutiny, the problem is even worse. David brought the ark to Jerusalem only after he had captured the city from the Jebusites, who had maintained control all through Saul's reign. Thus, David had to reign in Hebron for seven years and six months (2 Sam. 5:5) until Jerusalem was captured; then he transported the ark from Abina- dab's house to the new capital of Israel. So if, as I have noted, at least some time passed after the ark was captured before Saul was made king, and then if Saul reigned for 40 years, and then if David reigned for seven and a half years before the ark was removed from Abinadab's house and taken to 1 Jerusalem, we must be talking about a span of time equaling almost fifty years. How could it possibly be true, then, that the ark "abode in Kiriath- jearim" for twenty years (1 Sam. 7:2)? The opportunity to write a response to this article, along with a promise to publish it simultaneously without editorial comment was offered to three inerrancy spokesmen. None accepted the offer. ******************** "There are Bible scholars, and there are fundamentalists." Ralph Nielsen, whose letter to Wayne Jackson appears on page 15, attributes this quotation to Nick Cardell, a Unitarian minister in Syracuse, New York. ******************************** FREE SUBSCRIPTION: A free one-year subscription to The Skeptical Review can be obtained by writing to P. O. Box 617, Canton, IL 61520-0617. 2

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