Textual Contradictions in the Bible
[ref003]The Skeptical Review: 1990: Number Four: Textual
Contradictions in the Bible
Is the Bible the work of perfect harmony that inerrancy believers
claim it is? Suppose we let the Bible speak for itself and see what
answer we get.
6:1 says that work on the temple began 480 years after the
exodus from Egypt: "And it came to pass in the _four_hundred_and
eightieth_year_ after the children of Israel were come out of the land
of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month
Ziv, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of
But the Apostle Paul made a speech in Antioch of Pisidia in which his
math contradicted this statement: "The God of this people Israel
chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they sojourned in the land
of Egypt, and with a high arm led he them forth out of it. And for about
the time of _forty_years_ as a nursing-father bare he them in the
wilderness. And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of
Canaan, he gave them their land for an inheritance, for about _four
hundred_and_fifty_years_: and after these things he gave them judges
until Samuel the prophet. And afterward they asked for a king: and God
gave unto them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for
the space of _forty_years_. And when he had removed him, he raised up
David to be their king; to whom also he bare witness and said, I have
found David the son of Jesse, a man after my heart, who shall do all my
will," ([ref005]Acts 13:17-22).
With nothing else considered, the 40 years in the wilderness and the
450 years that the Israelites had the land of Canaan for an inheritance
before the advent of the judges total 10 years more than the 480 years of
6:1. _Eerdmans_Bible_Dictionary_ states that the period of the
judges "could not reasonably be reduced to less than 280 years,"
(p. 610). Saul, as Paul noted, reigned as king for 40 years, as did also
David who succeeded him ([ref007]I Kings 2:11). So
if we add the four years that Solomon reigned before work on the temple
began, we have 40 + 450 + 280 + 40 + 40 + 4, for a total of 854, a
significant variation from the 480 years claimed in [ref008]I Kings 6:1. Even if
we let Paul's 450 years for the inheritance of Canaan include also the
advent of the judges, as some translations strain to do, his chronology
will still total 574 years, almost a century longer than what was claimed
in [ref009]I Kings
2:13-15 in listing the sons of Jesse says that David was the seventh.
Samuel 16:10-11 states that David was Jesse's eighth son: "And
Jesse made _seven_ of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel
said unto Jesse, Jehovah hath not chosen these. And Samuel said unto
Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, _There_remaineth_yet_the
17:18 promised the Israelites that they would "drive out the
Canaanites though they have chariots of iron, and though they are
strong." Yet [ref013]Judges 1:19 states
that Judah's assault against Canaanites in the lowlands failed because
they were equipped with iron chariots: "And Jehovah was with Judah;
and he drove out the inhabitants of the hill-country; for he could not
drive out the inhabitants of the valley, _because_they_had_chariots_of
3 and [ref015]4
describe the separation of the Levites for the priesthood and temple
service (including care of the ark of testimony) while the Israelites were
camped at Mt. Sinai in the second year after the exodus, but [ref016]Deuteronomy
10:7-8 claims that the separation of the Levites occurred at a place
called Jotbathah: "From thence they journeyed unto Gudgodah; and from
Gudgodah to Jotbathah, a land of brooks of water. _At_that_time_Jehovah
unto_this_day_." Verse 6 records the death of Aaron, who died
"in the fortieth year after the children of Israel were come out of
the land of Egypt" ([ref017]Num. 33:38);
hence, this passage also claims that the separation of the Levites took
place 38 years after the account in Numbers 3 and 4.
No contradictions in the Bible? It makes good sermon material, but it
just isn't so. Only the gullible will believe it.
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