Your browser version is outdated. We recommend that you update your browser to the latest version.

The Old Testament - search for truth 

Let’s begin by putting “two of every sort (of animal) into the ark,” and then . . . Oh, wait. Was that “two of every sort,” as per Genesis 6:19, or seven of clean and two of unclean animals, as per Genesis 7:2–3?

Hmm. Well, we’ve got up to 120 years to think about it, because that’s the limit of the human lifespan, as per God’s promise in Genesis 6:3. So, just like Shem . . .

Oops. Bad example. Genesis 11:11 states, “Shem lived five hundred years . . .”

Oookay, forget Shem. So, just like Noah . . . Double Oops. Genesis 9:29 teaches, “So all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years; and he died.” So let’s see, Genesis 6:3 promised a lifespan limited to 120 years, but a few verses later both Shem and Noah broke the rule?

Whoa, time out.

Let’s look at Old Testament dates from a different angle. Here’s Genesis 16:16: “Abraham was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abraham.” Genesis 21:5 tells us, “Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.” So let’s see, one hundred minus eighty-six, subtract the six from the first ten, nine minus eight . . . I get fourteen. So Ishmael was fourteen when Isaac was born.

A bit later, in Genesis 21:8, we read, “So the child (Isaac) grew and was weaned.” Now, weaning in the Middle East takes two years, according to ethnic custom. So tack two onto fourteen, and Ishmael was sixteen before Sarah ordered Abraham to cast him out (Genesis 21:10).

Fine. So far.

A couple more verses, and Genesis 21:14–19 portrays the outcast Ishmael as a helpless infant rather than an able-bodied sixteen-year-old youth, as follows:

So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water; and putting it on her shoulder, he gave it and the boy to Hagar, and sent her away. Then she departed and wandered in the Wilderness of Beersheba. And the water in the skin was used up, and she placed the boy under one of the shrubs. Then she went and sat down across from himat a distance of about a bowshot; for she said to herself, “Let me not see the death of the boy.” So she sat opposite him, and lifted her voice and wept.

And God heard the voice of the lad. Then the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said to her, “What ails you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the ladwhere he is. Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation.”

Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water, and gave the lad a drink.

A sixteen-year-old youth described as a “boy” or a “lad”? In a time and place when sixteen-year-olds were commonly married and awaiting their second or third child while supporting a growing family? In addition to being hunters, soldiers and, albeit rarely, even kings on occasion? Sixteen years equated to manhood in Ishmael’s day. So how exactly did his father give the sixteen-year-old “boy,” Ishmael, to Hagar? And how did she leave him crying (i.e., “the voice of the lad”) like a helpless baby under a shrub? And how, precisely, did his mother lift him up and hold him with her hand? Lastly, are we truly expected to believe that Ishmael was so frail, his mother had to give him a drink because he was unable to get it himself?

Uh, yes, that’s the gist of it. That’s what we’re supposed to believe.

But wait, there’s more.

2 Chronicles 22:2 teaches that “Ahaziah was forty-two years old when he became king. . . .” Hunh. Forty-two years old. Hardly seems worthy of mention. Unless, that is, we note that 2 Kings 8:26 records, “Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king . . .” So which was it? Forty-two or twenty-two?

Let’s take a hint from the Bible. 2 Chronicles 21:20 teaches that Ahaziah’s father, King Jehoram, died at the age of forty.

Ahem.

King Jehoram died at the age of forty and was succeeded by his son, who was forty-two? In other words, King Jehoram fathered a child two years older than himself? Arithmetic, according to Mickey Mouse, is “Being able to count up to twenty without taking off your shoes.” But between the reader’s toes and all appendages of the family cat, there’s no way to make sense of these figures. And while the logical conclusion approaches ramming speed, 2 Chronicles 22:1 points out that Ahaziah was King Jehoram’s youngest son, for raiders had killed all Jehoram’s older sons.

So if Ahaziah was two years older than dear departed Dad, how many years did his older brothers have on their father?

Obviously, 2 Chronicles 22:2 can’t be trusted and 2 Kings 8:26, which teaches that Ahaziah was twenty-two when he became king, must be the correct version.

So King Jehoram died at forty (2 Chronicles 21:20) and was succeeded by Ahaziah, who was twenty-two (2 Kings 8:26). Which means King Jehoram was eighteen when Ahaziah was born, and roughly seventeen when he was conceived. Not only that, but Jehoram had older sons (2 Chronicles 22:1), so he must have started his family at the age of fifteen or less. So much for Ishmael having been a helpless lad at the age of sixteen. It was a time when teenagers were men.

But what about 2 Chronicles 22:2, which states that Ahaziah was forty-two when he assumed the throne?

A copying error, no doubt.

But that’s not the point.

Isaiah 40:8 claims, “The word of our God stands forever.” This assertion does not excuse copying errors, or any other error, regardless how slight. In fact, according to Isaiah 40:8, any “word” which has not “stood forever” is disqualified as having been from God.

Which should make us question the authorship.

If “the word of our God stands forever,” and the “word” of Ahaziah’s age does not stand the test of time, whose word is it? God’s or Satan’s?

Don’t look now, but even the Old Testament seems uncertain on this point.

2 Samuel 24:1 reads, “Again the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, ‘Go, number Israel and Judah.’” However,

1 Chronicles 21:1 states, “Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.”

Uhhh, which was it? The Lord or Satan? There’s a slight (like, total) difference.

Talk about identity theft.

But seriously, the mistake is understandable. After all, it’s pretty hard to know who you’re talking to when you can’t put a face to revelation. And, as God said in Exodus 33:20, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.”

So there we have it.

No man can see God’s face, and live.

Well, except for Jacob, of course. As Genesis 32:30 states, “So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: ‘For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.’”

And we mustn’t forget Moses, as per Exodus 33:11: “So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.”

So no man can see God’s face, and live.

Except for Jacob and Moses.

But God didn’t mention that exception, did He?

So maybe He changed His mind.

And then again, maybe not.

On one hand, Genesis 6:6–7 suggests that God makes mistakes for which He repents, as follows: “And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorrythat I have made them’” (italics mine).

On the other hand, Numbers 23:19 records, “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent.”

The point, if not already obvious, is that the Old Testament is fraught with errors. Perhaps the simplest errors are numerical, and these are plentiful. For example, 2 Samuel 8:4 speaks of David taking seven hundred horsemen and 1 Chronicles 18:4, describing the exact same event, makes it seven thousand.

Big deal.

Seven hundred in one verse, seven thousand in another—obviously, some scribe flubbed a zero.

Wrong.

The Old Testament does not have zeros. Nor, for that matter, does it have numerals. In the time of the Old and New Testaments, the Arabic numerals we are all familiar with weren’t in common use. The clumsy Roman numerals were the language of mathematics, and the earliest evidence of the zero dates from 933 CE.

In ancient Hebrew, numbers were written longhand. Seven hundred was sheba’ me’ah and seven thousand was sheba’ eleph. So this scriptural difference may indeed represent a scribal error, but it’s not a simple error of a zero. Rather, it’s the difference between me’ahand eleph.

Similarly, 2 Samuel 10:18 speaks of seven hundred charioteers and forty thousand horsemen, and 1 Chronicles 19:18 speaks of seven thousand charioteers and forty thousand foot soldiers. 2 Samuel 23:8 records eight hundred men, 1 Chronicles 11:11 numbers them at three hundred. And in case the reader suspects they are speaking about different events, Josheb-Basshebeth and Jashobeam are cross-referenced, clarifying that both passages describe the same person. 2 Samuel 24:9 describes eight hundred thousandmen “who drew the sword” in Israel and five hundred thousand in Judah; 1 Chronicles 21:5 puts the numbers at one million one hundred thousand in Israel andfour hundred and seventy thousand in Judah. 2 Samuel 24:13 describes seven years of famine, 1 Chronicles 21:11–12 states it was three. 1 Kings 4:26 numbers Solomon’s horse stalls at forty thousand2 Chronicles 9:25 numbers them at four thousand1 Kings 15:33 teaches that Baasha reigned as king of Israel until the twenty-seventh year of Asa, king of Judah; 2 Chronicles 16:1 states Baasha was still king of Israel in the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign. 1 Kings 5:15–16 speaks of 3,300 deputies to Solomon, 2 Chronicles 2:2 records 3,600. In 1 Kings 7:26 we read of two thousand baths, but in 2 Chronicles 4:5 the number is three thousand. 2 Kings 24:8 states “Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months.” 2 Chronicles 36:9 records, “Jehoiachin was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months and ten days.” Ezra 2:65 writes of two hundred men and women singersNehemiah 7:67 states they were two hundred and forty-five.

Now, are these differences important?

Answer: Yes, and no. For the most part, we could care less how many baths, singers, and foot soldiers there were, or whether one scribe made a slip of the stylus while another rounded numbers off to the nearest hundred. From the point of conveying useful information, these discrepancies are insignificant. However, from the point of validating the Old Testament as the inerrant word of God, these discrepancies are highly significant.

Furthermore, there are numerous discrepancies which are not numerical in nature.

For example, Genesis 26:34 tells us Esau’s wives were Judith and Basemath; Genesis 36:2–3 records his wives as Adah, Aholibamah and Basemath. 2 Samuel 6:23 states that Michal was childless until the day she died; 2 Samuel 21:8 attributes five sons to Michal. 2 Samuel 8:9–10 speaks of Toi as king of Hamath, and Joram as an emissary of King David; 1 Chronicles 18:9–10 records the king’s name as Tou, and that of the emissary asHadoram.

Again, not a big deal.

But here’s something that is:

2 Samuel 17:25 tells us Jithra (a.k.a. Jether; both names are cross-referenced, so we know these two passages speak of the same individual) was an Israelite, whereas

1 Chronicles 2:17 identifies him as an Ishmaelite. Now, if Old Testament authors couldn’t get this straight, we might wonder how much more inclined they might have been, being Jewish, to calculated lineage-switching in the case of Abraham sacrificing his “only begotten son,” Isaac. In the “Jesus Begotten?” chapter earlier in this book, I discussed the fact that at no time was Isaac the only begotten son of Abraham. And we find here that Old Testament authors substituted “Israelite” with “Ishmaelite” when there was no obvious motivation. How much more likely would they have been to have switched lineages when their birthright and covenants with God were at stake?

Incidentally, once this contradiction became known, Bible translators tried to make it disappear. For example, the New Revised Standard Version translates the Hebrewyisre’eliy in 2 Samuel 17:25 to “Ishmaelite,” and then acknowledges in a discreet footnote that the correct translation is “Israelite.” Yishma’e’li is “Ishmaelite.” The evidence against the translators’ integrity is strengthened by the fact that practically any Bible published prior to the mid-twentieth century (including the American Standard Version of 1901, upon which the RSV and NRSV are based) translates yisre’eliy to “Israelite.” Only after the scriptural inconsistency was identified was the translation corrupted to “Ishmaelite.”

By this modern deception, the New Revised Standard Version avoids conflict in their translation, but not in the source documents. And we would do well to note this deceit, for will we truly be surprised if future Bible translations attempt to gloss over the other errors exposed in this present work?

Now, here’s the point. 2 Kings 19 and Isaiah 37 contain a sequence of thirty‑seven verses which correspond virtually to the letter. This correspondence is so exact that Bible critics have suggested that the authors plagiarized either from one another or from the same source document. And while plagiarism would explain the consistency, a more generous suggestion might be that these two chapters exemplify the exquisite accuracy we expect from a book of God. Whether a story is retold once, twice or a thousand times, as long as the origin of the tradition lies in revelation from the Almighty, it should not change. Not in the smallest detail. The fact that stories do change both in Old and New Testaments threatens the claim to biblical inerrancy.

And then there are the simple questions. Questions like, “Does anybody really believe that Jacob wrestled with God, and Jacob prevailed (Genesis 32:24–30)?” The Creator of a universe 240,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles in diameter with all its intricacies, with the measly, middleweight planet Earth alone weighing in at 5,976,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg—and someone believes that a paltry blob of protoplasm not only wrestled with The One who created him, but prevailed?

Another simple question: Genesis 2:17 records God warning Adam, “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 3:3 contributes, “but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” So which is it? Did Adam bite the apple or didn’t he? The way the story is told, he bit the apple and lived. Yet God promised death the very same day. So did he bite it or not? If he did he should have died, and if he didn’t, humankind should still be in paradise. Is the word “die” an error of translation, a metaphor or an inconsistency? If an error, then let the translators admit it. If a metaphor, then we can acknowledge the metaphorical nature of Hebrew idiom and suggest that Jesus, similarly, did not “die” any more than Adam did. And if an inconsistency, well . . .

Next point—who wrote the Old Testament? Tradition relates that Moses wrote the Pentateuch (the first five books), but we can assume he encountered a slight technical difficulty (like the fact that he was dead) when it came to recording his own obituary in Deuteronomy 34:5–12. Therefore, who authored his death, burial, wake, and the aftermath? Is this author to be trusted, and what does this say about authorship of the Old Testament as a whole?

Then there are the tales of naked drunkenness, incest, and whoredom that no person of modesty could read to their mother, much less to their own children. And yet, a fifth of the world’s population trusts a book which records that Noah “drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered (naked) in his tent” (Genesis 9:22), and that Lot . . .

. . . went up out of Zoar and dwelt in the mountains, and his two daughters were with him; for he was afraid to dwell in Zoar. And he and his two daughters dwelt in a cave. Now the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man on the earth to come in to us as is the custom of all the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father.” So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. It happened on the next day that the firstborn said to the younger, “Indeed I lay with my father last night; let us make him drink wine tonight also, and you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father.” Then they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father (Genesis 19:30–36).

Tales of debauchery and deviancy include adultery and prostitution (Genesis 38:15–26), more prostitution (Judges 16:1), wholesale depravity (2 Samuel 16:20–23), whoredom (Ezekiel 16:20–34 and 23:1–21), and whoredom spiced with adultery (Proverbs 7:10–19). The incestuous rape of Tamar in 2 Samuel 13:7–14 bears a most interesting moral, for Tamar was counseled to “hold her peace,” for “He [the rapist, Amnon] is your brother; (so) do not take this thing to heart” (2 Samuel 13:20). Oh, whew, the rapist was her brother—no problem, then . . . Say WHAT? Are we to believe that such “pearls of wisdom” are the fruits of revelation—or the stuff of deviant dreams?

And on the subject of dreaming, 2 Timothy 3:16 reads, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Now that makes sense. That’s the way it should be. But can anyone conceive the “profit, reproof, correction, or instruction in righteousness” conveyed in the above passages? Those who think they can probably should be in jail.

Another curiosity—according to Genesis 38:15–30, Perez and Zerah were born to Tamar after incestuous fornication with her father-in-law, Judah. Passing over the fact that, according to Leviticus 20:12, both Judah and Tamar should have been executed (and prophets are not above the law), let’s inspect the lineage of Perez and Zerah. After all, the alleged “word of God” tells us, “One of illegitimate birth shall not enter the congregation of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the congregation of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 23:2).

So who was the tenth generation from Zerah?

No one important.

Well, then, who was the tenth generation from Perez?

Someone very important. Someone named Solomon. His father (the ninth generation) also has a familiar-sounding name: David.

If we trust Matthew 1:3–6, David was the ninth generation of a bastard, and as such, should by no way enter the “congregation of the Lord.” The same goes for Solomon. And yet, both are held to have been patriarchs, if not prophets.

Hmm. An awkward understanding, at best.

Furthermore, if we are to believe the Old Testament, Solomon was not only the tenth generation of illegitimacy through Perez, but also the first generation of illegitimacy through his father, David’s, adulterous union with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah (2 Samuel 11:2–4). Once again, breezing past the unfulfilled death penalty (Leviticus 20:10), Solomon is portrayed as having a double-dose of illegitimacy.

Or does he?

Something doesn’t sound right. Either David and Solomon were not prophets or the Old Testament is not to be trusted. The pieces of God-given revelation shouldn’t require reshaping and force to fit together. They should snap together in congruence with the perfection of the One who created the heavens and earth in perfect harmony. That’s the way it should be, and the average Christian suggests that such is precisely the case with the New Testament.

However, that assertion deserves inspection as well. Having examined the above, we can readily understand why the author of Jeremiah bewails, “How can you say, ‘We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us?’ Look, the false pen of the scribe certainly works falsehood” (Jeremiah 8:8). The New Revised Standard Version, unlike the New King James Version, doesn’t soften their words, and records this verse as, “How can you say, ‘We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us,’ when in fact, the false pen of the scribes has made it into a lie?”

So that is the Old Testament—so full of errors that even one of the authors bemoans the scriptural corruption generated by the “false pens of the scribes.”

Many claim that similar problems plague the New Testament—that weaknesses, inconsistencies, and contradictions upset the claim of divine inerrancy. If true, Christians face the challenge, “Are you a person of God, or of Christianity?”

This question demands testimony.

Followers of God will submit to the truth He conveyed, when made clear, while those who follow any man-made religion will defend their doctrine against reason and revelation. Discussion of the frail or nonexistent foundation of the most passionately defended Christian doctrines has already been offered. What remains to be examined is the authority, or lack thereof, of the New Testament.

Miss God'ed