Alleged Bible Contradictions

Old Testament Books by Order New Testament Books by Order

What should you think if you come across a Bible contradiction? Why are there sometimes word differences when a New Testament writer quotes from the Old Testament?

Old Testament Books by Order
Genesis
Genesis 1:14 Genesis 1:24-26 Genesis 2:2 Genesis 2:5-6 Genesis 4:17 Genesis 10:14 Genesis 11:1 Genesis 14:14 Genesis 19:8 Genesis 21:22 Genesis 36:2 Genesis 36:31 Genesis 37:27

Exodus
Exodus 6:3 Exodus 15:1-19 Exodus 16:35 Exodus 33:20 Exodus 34:7

Leviticus
Leviticus 3:17 Leviticus 11:40 Leviticus 17:10 Leviticus 17:15 Leviticus 23:18 Leviticus 25:11-12

Numbers
Numbers 3:39 Numbers 4:3 Numbers 13:33 Numbers 24:7 Numbers 25:9 Numbers 32:41 Numbers 33:31 Numbers 35:4

Deuteronomy
Deuteronomy 10:4 Deuteronomy 20:19 Deuteronomy 31:2

Joshua
Joshua 11:23 Joshua 15:9 Joshua 15:63 Joshua 22:4 Joshua 24:32

Judges
Judges 8:30

Ruth

1 Samuel
1 Samuel 16:18 1 Samuel 28:6

2 Samuel
2 Samuel 2:23 2 Samuel 6:23 2 Samuel 8:4 2 Samuel 8:13 2 Samuel 10:18 2 Samuel 21:19 2 Samuel 24:1 2 Samuel 24:9 2 Samuel 24:13 2 Samuel 24:24

1 Kings
1 Kings 7:14 1 Kings 7:26 1 Kings 9:28 1 Kings 15:16 1 Kings 18:1

2 Kings
2 Kings 25:8

1 Chronicles
1 Chronicles 2:13-15 1 Chronicles 3:17 1 Chronicles 3:19 1 Chronicles 6:3-14

2 Chronicles
2 Chronicles 14:5

Ezra
Ezra 2:1-67

Nehemiah

Esther Ecclesiastes Lamentations Hosea Jonah Zephaniah

Job Song of Solomon Ezekiel Joel Micah Haggai

Psalms Isaiah Daniel
Daniel 1:1

Proverbs
Proverbs 26:4

Jeremiah Hosea Obadiah Habakkuk Malachi

Amos Nahum Zechariah
Zechariah 11:12

New Testament Books by Order
Matthew
Matthew 1:16 Matthew 1:17 Matthew 8:5 Matthew 8:28 Matthew 10:5 Matthew 12:30 Matthew 17:1 Matthew 17:12 Matthew 20:20 Matthew 20:29 Matthew 20:30 Matthew 26:25 Matthew 27:5 Matthew 27:7 Matthew 27:9 Matthew 27:28 Matthew 27:35 Matthew 27:44 Matthew 27:49

Mark
Mark 14:30 Mark 15:25

Luke
Luke 24:50

John
John 3:22 John 12:3 John 19:17

Acts
Acts 7:2-4 Acts 7:14 Acts 7:16 Acts 9:7 Acts 9:27 Acts 16:3

Romans

1 Corinthians

2 Corinthians

Galatians 1 Thessalonians Titus 1 Peter

Ephesians
Ephesians 2:8-9

Philippians 1 Timothy Hebrews
Hebrews 1:8-10

Colossians 2 Timothy James 2 John

2 Thessalonians Philemon 2 Peter

1 John
1 John 2:1 1 John 4:18

3 John

Jude

Revelation

Genesis 1:14
How can it be that God “made” the luminaries on the fourth creative day when light— evidently from these same luminaries—was reaching the earth on the first creative day. In this case the Hebrew writer eliminated the need for long explanations by a careful choice of words. Note that Genesis 1 verses 14-16 speak of “making” in contrast to “creating” in Genesis 1:1, and “lights” in contrast to “light” in Genesis 1:3. This indicates that it was on the fourth creative day that the sun and moon, already in existence, became clearly visible through the earth’s dense atmosphere. (It should be noted that the six “days” of creation do not include the statement at Genesis 1:1, which refers to the creation of the heavenly bodies. Furthermore, the Hebrew word translated “day” allows for the thought that the events described at Genesis 1:331 took place during six ‘periods of time’ that could have been many thousands of years in length.)—Compare Genesis 2:4.

Genesis 1:24-26
At Genesis 1:24-26, the Bible indicates that the animals were created before man. But at Genesis 2:7, 19, 20, it seems to say that man was created before the animals. Why the discrepancy? The two accounts of the creation discuss it from two different viewpoints. The first describes the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them. (Genesis 1:1–2:4) The second concentrates on the creation of the human race and its fall into sin.—Genesis 2:5– 4:26.The first account is constructed chronologically, divided into six consecutive “days.” The second is written in order of topical importance. After a short prologue, it logically goes straight to the creation of Adam, since he and his family are the subject of what follows. (Genesis 2:7) Other information is then introduced as needed. We learn that after his creation Adam was to live in a garden in Eden. So the planting of the garden of Eden is now mentioned. (Genesis 2:8, 9, 15) Jehovah tells Adam to name “every wild beast of the field and every flying creature of the heavens.” Now, then, is the time to mention that “Jehovah God was forming from the ground” all these creatures, although their creation began long before Adam appeared on the scene.— Genesis 2:19; 1:20, 24, 26.

Genesis 2:2
Genesis 2:2 that records that God rested “from all his work.” Contrasting with this is Jesus’ comment at John 5:17 where he says that God “has kept working until now.” How is this possible? The context shows the record in Genesis is speaking specifically of God’s works of material creation, while Jesus was referring to God’s works concerning his divine guidance and care for mankind.

Genesis 2:5-6
How can we harmonise Genesis 1:11-13 where it mentions the earth’s bringing forth vegetation on the third creative day with Genesis 2:5, 6, which the New World Translation renders as follows: “Now there was as yet no shrub of the field found in the earth and no vegetation of the field was as yet sprouting, because Jehovah God had not made it rain upon the earth and there was no man to cultivate the ground. But a vapour went up continually from the earth and it watered the entire surface of the ground”? Genesis 2:5, 6 quoted above must apply to the third day of creation described in Genesis 1:9-13. But first it describes the earth’s condition just after Jehovah God had made the dry land appear and before he had commanded the earth to bring forth grass and seed-bearing vegetation and fruit-bearing trees. Persons who take the King James Version or a similar version’s rendering to be correct interpret its rendering to mean that God started off such plant life perfect, that is, fullgrown, without its germinating from the seed. But this does not necessarily have to be so, not according to the reading of the New World Translation and of other versions. At any rate, for a time the earth was lifeless, without plant life and without animal and human life. The earth was also rainless. To provide for the coming plant life, Jehovah God duly provided an irrigation system, not by rain but by a vapor for all the earth, aside from such rivers as Genesis 2:10-14 indicates there were. So when God caused vegetation to cover the dry land, that did not alter the general conditions with reference to the great water canopy revolving away out in space far above the earth. The next verse, Genesis 2:7, skips all the in-between history of Genesis 1:14-25 concerning the breaking through of light upon the earth’s surface and the producing of creature life in the sea, bird life in the air and the subhuman creature life on earth. It goes into detail about the creation of man, more so than Genesis 1:27 does. But with man’s creation and being put in the garden of Eden it is not to be reasoned from Genesis 2:5 that now it began to rain upon the earth and man began working like a farmer, plowing the ground and scattering seed and harvesting the yield. His cultivating of the earth like that came after he was run out of the garden of Eden, and Cain imitated Adam and “became a cultivator of the ground.” (Gen. 4:1-3, NW) Thus man and rain did not precede God’s creation of the vegetation on earth, and Genesis 1:9-13 and Genesis 2:5, 6 are found to be in agreement.

Genesis 4:17
Where did Cain get his wife? One might think that after the murder of Abel, only his guilty brother Cain and their parents, Adam and Eve, were left on the earth. However, Adam and Eve had a large family. According to Genesis 5:3, 4, Adam had a son named Seth. The account adds: “The days of Adam after his fathering Seth came to be eight hundred years. Meanwhile he became father to sons and daughters.” So Cain married his sister or perhaps one of his nieces. Since mankind was then so close to human perfection, such a marriage evidently did not pose the health risks that may imperil the offspring of such a union today.

Genesis 10:14
Genesis 10:14 says that the Philistines were descendants of Casluhim. But at Jeremiah 47:4 it is said that they came from Caphtor. And still further at Amos 9:7 the word of Jehovah says that they were from Crete. From where did the Philistines come? The Biblical record shows that it was the Casluhim “from among whom the Philistines went forth.” (Ge 10:6, 13, 14; 1Ch 1:8, 11, 12) Since other texts speak of the Philistines as coming from Caphtor or Crete (Jer 47:4; Am 9:7), some scholars suggest that the above phrase should be transposed to come after the last-named descendant of Mizraim, Caphtorim. However, there is no need to assume a contradiction in these texts. The record at Genesis (paralleled by that in Chronicles) is genealogical. The other references to the Philistines as proceeding from Caphtor are likely geographic, indicating a migration from the territory of the Caphtorim.

Genesis 11:1
Genesis 11:1 says that before the confusion of tongues at Babel, all the earth spoke one language; yet, earlier, Genesis 10:5 seems to suggest that various tongues already existed. How can this be understood? Genesis chapter 10 presents what is commonly known as the “Table of the Nations.” It lists 70 families or nations descending from Noah’s sons, giving some indication of where these eventually spread to and settled. Of course, Moses recorded this centuries after the Flood and the confusion of languages at Babel. So he was in position to bring together in what is now Genesis chapter 10 details of how things worked out over the centuries. After Genesis chapter 10 gives the details of the “Table of the Nations,” chapter 11 takes up the narrative or chronological history with Babel and shows how it was that many languages came about and why peoples spread over the globe.—Gen. 11:1-9. Thus the references in the 10th chapter to various languages are not to be understood as meaning that these developed prior to the confusion of languages at Babel. (Gen. 10:5, 20, 31, 32) But those tongues were later found among Noah’s descendants, whose lineage is provided in that chapter.

Genesis 14:14
At Genesis 14:14 we are told that Abram chased certain kings “up to Dan.” But at Judges 18:29 we read that the Danites, after entering the land of Canaan, renamed the city of Laish Dan. Since Moses died before the name was changed, it is argued that he could not have written the book of Genesis. Could this be true? However, certain Bible scholars insist that there was more than one city by the name of Dan. They point to the city of Dan mentioned at Deuteronomy 34:1 and to Dan-jaan referred to at 2 Samuel 24:6. Nor can the possibility be ruled out that the reference to Dan at Genesis 14:14 is due to a copyist’s error or deliberate choice so as to avoid ambiguity. Whichever the case may have been, certainly here we do not have any evidence disproving that Moses was the writer of the book of Genesis.

Genesis 19:8
Genesis 19:8 tells that Lot’s daughters had not had intercourse with any man, yet Genesis 19:14 speaks of Lot’s sons-in-law, hence the husbands of his daughters. How can these scriptures be harmonised? Apparently the two men spoken of as Lot’s sons-in-law were only his prospective sons-inlaw, and therefore only betrothed but not married to Lot’s daughters. This is in harmony with the

fact that Lot’s daughters were still in their father’s house. Had they actually been married they doubtless would have been living in the houses of their husbands, for in ancient times the bridegroom took his bride from her father’s house to his own. In line with the foregoing is the explanation appearing in the footnote of the New World Translation at Genesis 19:14. It shows that the reference to Lot’s sons-in-law “who had taken” his daughters could also be rendered “who were intending to take” them, because the Hebrew verb here is in the participial or verbal adjective form. This would underscore the fact that these two men were prospectively, not actually, sons-in-law, engaged to Lot’s daughters but not as yet married to them.

Genesis 21:22
Since there was such a long time between the two accounts found at Genesis 21:22 and Genesis 26:26, could the Abimelech and Phicol mentioned at both of these be the same people? As these two meetings were more than 75 years apart, “Phicol” might well be a title or name used for whoever held this office rather than the name of one man in the position for so long. For similar reasons his king’s name may also have been a title.

Genesis 36:2
Why do some Bible verses desribe Zibeon as a Hivite yet at other texts he is called a Horite? At Genesis 36:2 Zibeon, the grandfather of one of Esau’s wives, is called a Hivite. But Genesis 36 verses 20 and 24 list him as a descendant of Seir the Horite. The word “Horite” may be derived from the Hebrew chor (“hole”) and may mean merely “cave dweller.” This would eliminate any seeming discrepancy between the texts at Genesis 36:2 and verses 20, 24.

Genesis 36:31
How could Moses say that there would be Kings in Israel as recorded in Genesis 36:31 more than four hundred years before the first King of Israel ever came to be? Is this an anachronism? A little reasoning, however, will show that Moses could well have made this statement even though there were no kings in Israel at the time. How so? In that Moses was familiar with Jehovah’s promise to Abraham that “kings will come out of you.” Further, Moses himself foretold that his people, after entering the land of Canaan, would ask for a king to rule over them. He even gave instructions on who may and who may not be selected and what such a king must do. (Gen. 17:6; Deut. 17:14-20) And here again the critics are also silenced in that it just possibly might have been an interpolation, for an almost identical statement occurs at 1 Chronicles 1:43 that deals with the same genealogical record.

Genesis 37:27
Who sold Joseph into Egypt? Genesis 37:27 says that Joseph’s brothers decided to sell him to some Ishmaelites. But the next verse states: “Now men, Midianite merchants, went passing by. Hence they [Joseph’s brothers] drew and lifted up Joseph out of the waterpit and then sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty silver pieces. Eventually these brought Joseph into Egypt.” Was Joseph sold to

Ishmaelites or to Midianites? Well, the Midianites may also have been called Ishmaelites, to whom they were related through their forefather Abraham. Or Midianite merchants may have been traveling with an Ishmaelite caravan. At any rate, Joseph’s brothers did the selling, and later he could tell them: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.” – Genesis 45:4.

Exodus 6:3
At Exodus 6:3 God told Moses that he was not known to Abraham by the name Jehovah, yet at Genesis 15:7, 8 God identifies himself to Abraham as Jehovah and Abraham calls him by that name. What is the explanation? The Hebrew expression at Exodus 6:3 around which the question revolves may be rendered two ways, that is, as a statement or as a question. The usual rendering is to make it a statement, as does the common King James Version: “By my name Jehovah was I not known to them.” Berry’s interlinear translation puts it in question form: “By my name Jehovah did I not make myself known to them?” The marginal rendering in the New World Translation takes recognition of this possibility, saying: “As respects my name Jehovah did I not make myself known to them?” This rendering in question form, of course, removes at once all difficulty. However, it is the exceptional rather than the usual rendering, and in the main body of its text the New World Translation holds to the generally accepted form. In Moses’ time Israel was suffering down in Egypt, and in their affliction the Hebrews might cry out: ‘Where is Jehovah, the God of our forefathers Abraham and Isaac and Jacob? Look at our sorrowful condition. What has he done? Why does he not make himself known to us? Why has he not caused these promises and covenants of his to be realities?’ Well, for four hundred and thirty years these promises had been pending, and it was time for their fulfillment to begin. So God reminded Moses of the name Jehovah, and that now he was going to show Israel the application of this name, “He causes to be.” He would demonstrate that he is true to the meaning of his name. He would live up to its meaning by causing to be realised the promises made to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. The Hebrews would know Jehovah in a way their forefathers had not known him, that is, by actual demonstration in keeping with the name’s meaning. He would deliver them from Egypt as a nation, thus causing to be fulfilled his ancient promise. Though Israel might have felt forsaken and that God had as good as ceased to be, Moses was told to tell them he was sent by “I SHALL PROVE TO BE.” And by his mighty works and deliverance’s Jehovah did prove to be the Deliverer and causing the accomplishment of his purposes toward his people Israel. – Ex. 3:14, NW; 2 Sam. 7:23, AS.

Exodus 15:1-19
According to the modernist Interpreter’s Bible, Exodus chapter 15 could not possibly have been composed by Moses. This is because it tells of the effect that the miraculous deliverance of the Israelites and the death of Pharaoh’s hosts in the Red Sea had upon the inhabitants of Philistia, the sheiks of Edom, the despots of Moab and because it makes mention of Jehovah’s sanctuary. These, it holds, are anachronisms. Could this be true? During his forty-year sojourn in the land of Midian Moses doubtless learned much about the surrounding lands and people, if he was not already cognizant of them due to his learning in Pharaoh’s court. Besides, the song puts everything in the future tense, it really being a prophecy. Those pagans must or will hear, fright must or will take hold upon them, and Jehovah will bring his people to his sanctuary. All who grant that Jehovah God in times past used his servants to utter inspired prophecy will have no difficulty in accepting the fact that Moses actually did write this song.

Exodus 16:35

How could Moses say that the sons of Israel ate manna for forty years as recorded in Exodus 16:35 when the forty years had not finished when Moses supposedly wrote the book of Exodus. How can this be clarified? It is not likely that Moses penned these words at the time he wrote the original record about the Israelites’ receiving manna. But who could argue that he himself did not add these words at the end of the forty-year trek in the wilderness when he stood at the frontier of the land of Canaan, knowing that his people would thereafter no longer be eating manna? Whether he or another added these words, they of themselves certainly cannot be used to argue that the entire book of Exodus was not written by Moses. Such weak arguments merely show the lack of objectivity of the Bible critics.

Exodus 33:20
Exodus 33:20 states: “There shall no man see me, and live.” Yet Exodus 24:10 says concerning Moses and some of the elders of Israel: “They saw the God of Israel.” How can these apparently conflicting statements be harmonised? It is literally true that no flesh-and-blood organism could see Jehovah God and live. A full view of “the Father of the celestial lights” would be more than human flesh could endure. – Jas. 1:17, NW. When the Bible speaks of Moses or others as seeing Jehovah God it means that they see a manifestation of his glory, and this is usually given by means of an angelic representative of the Almighty. Hence it is that Exodus 24:16 speaks of “the glory of the LORD” abiding upon Mount Sinai, rather than Jehovah himself, when Moses and others were reported as seeing “the God of Israel”. This “glory of the LORD” was due to the presence of one of Jehovah’s angels. For his glory and his angel are associated together, as at Luke 2:9 (NW), when announcement of Jesus’ birth was made to the shepherds: “Suddenly Jehovah’s angel stood by them and Jehovah’s glory gleamed around them.”

Exodus 34:7
Exodus 34:7 states that God would bring “punishment for the error of fathers upon sons and upon grandsons,” yet Ezekiel 18:20 states that “a son himself will bear nothing because of the error of the father.” Why do these texts appear to be contradictory? It is because they are taken out of context. Examine the surrounding material and setting. It then becomes obvious that when God mentioned punishment as coming upon not only fathers but also sons and grandsons, he was speaking of what would result to Israelites as a nation if they sinned against him and were taken into captivity. On the other hand, when mentioning that a son would not be liable for the error of his father, he was speaking of personal accountability.

Leviticus 3:17
Leviticus 3:17 states: “It is a statute to time indefinite for your generations, in all your dwelling places: You must not eat any fat or any blood at all.” Nehemiah 8:10 says: “Go, eat the fatty things and drink the sweet things.” How can these two commands be reconciled? Leviticus 3:17 and Nehemiah 8:10 are not at variance with each other. Leviticus refers to the layers of fat in animal bodies, which were not to be eaten. By the expression “fatty things” Nehemiah refers to rich portions, things not skinny, things not dry but luscious, including tasty things prepared with vegetable oils. Frequently “fat” is used figuratively to indicate richness or

lushness or prosperity. Instances of this are “the fatness of the earth,” “his bread shall be fat,” “they found fat pasture,” “they took strong cities, and a fat land,” “the large and fat land which thou gavest,” “in a fat pasture shall they feed,” and “the fattest places of the province.”—Gen. 27:28, 39; 49:20; 1 Chron. 4:40; Neh. 9:25, 35; Ezek. 34:14; Dan. 11:24, AV.

Leviticus 11:40
How can we harmonise Deuteronomy 14:21 (NW), “You must not eat any dead body,” and Leviticus 11:40 (NW), “And he who eats any of its dead body will wash his garments and he must be unclean until the evening”? Actually, there is no disharmony between these two texts. One prohibits eating an animal that died of itself or was found dead, and the other shows the penalty for eating in violation of the prohibition. The mere fact that the eating of a dead body is forbidden does not mean that will never take place. The Law contained prohibitions of many things, but it also contained penalties for violating those prohibitions. The mere fact that a thing was prohibited did not of itself mean it would never be indulged in; hence penalties were set up to give force to the prohibitions. There were prohibitions against stealing, tale bearing, adultery, murder, and many other sins of varying magnitude, and penalties of varying severity were fixed by the Law to guide Israel in dealing with violators. So it was in the matter of eating a dead body.

Leviticus 17:10
Why does Leviticus 17:10 state that no alien resident eat blood when at Deuteronomy 14:21 it is said that an alien resident could eat unbled meat? The Israelites were told: “You must not eat any body already dead. To the alien resident who is inside your gates you may give it, and he must eat it; or there may be a selling of it to a foreigner, because you are a holy people to Jehovah your God.” (Deuteronomy 14:21) Though it was unbled, they could sell the carcass to an alien resident. In seeming conflict, Leviticus 17:10 says: “As for any man of the house of Israel or some alien resident who is residing as an alien in their midst who eats any sort of blood, I shall certainly set my face against the soul that is eating the blood, and I shall indeed cut him off from among his people.” Why the difference between these verses? Why, then, does Deuteronomy 14:21 say that the “alien resident” could be sold unbled meat, but Leviticus 17:10 forbids the “alien resident” to eat blood? Both God’s people and Bible commentators have recognised that the distinction must have been the religious standing of the alien involved. Aid to Bible Understanding (page 51) points out that sometimes the term “alien resident” meant a person among the Israelites who was not a full proselyte. It appears that this sort of person is meant at Deuteronomy 14:21, a man who was not trying to keep all of God’s laws and who might have his own uses for a carcass considered unclean by Israelites and proselytes. Jewish scholars, too, have offered this explanation.

Leviticus 17:15
If according to Leviticus 17:10-12 Jehovah would cut off the Israelite or alien resident who ate an animal that had died or was killed without being bled, how can Leviticus 17:15 make a provision for those that did these same things? We can find a clue at Leviticus 5:2, which says: “When a soul touches some unclean thing, whether the dead body of an unclean wild beast . . ., although it has been hidden from him, still he is unclean and has become guilty.” Yes, God acknowledged that an Israelite might err inadvertently. Hence, Leviticus 17:15 can be understood as providing for such an error. For

example, if an Israelite ate meat served him and then learned that it was unbled, he was guilty of sin. But because it was inadvertent he could take steps to become clean. This, however, is noteworthy: If he would not take those steps, “he must then answer for his error.”—Leviticus 17:16.

Leviticus 23:18
Why does the number of animal sacrifices in Leviticus 23:18-19 differ from that of supposedly the same description found at Numbers 28:27-30? There is a slight difference in description of the other offerings (aside from the communion offering) in the account at Numbers 28:27-30. Instead of seven lambs, one young bull, two rams, and one kid of the goats, as at Leviticus 23:18, 19, it calls for seven lambs, two young bulls, one ram, and one kid of the goats. Jewish commentators say that the passage in Leviticus refers to the sacrifice to accompany the wave loaves, and the one in Numbers to the properly appointed sacrifice of the festival, so that both were offered. Supporting this, Josephus, in describing the sacrifices on Pentecost day, first mentions the two lambs of the communion offering, then combines the remaining offerings, enumerating three calves, two rams (evidently a transcriber’s error for three), 14 lambs, and two kids. (Jewish Antiquities, III, 253 [x, 6]) The day was a holy convention, a sabbath day. – Le 23:21; Nu 28:26.

Leviticus 25:11-12
According to Leviticus 25:11, 12, the Israelites were not to “sow seed nor reap the land’s growth from spilled kernels” during the Jubilee year, yet they could “eat what the land produces.” How is this seeming inconsistency resolved? The statutes for the Jubilee were very similar to those for the regular seventh-year sabbath. Jehovah promised to bless the harvest on the sixth year so the Israelites would have sufficient food stored to last until the harvest of crops sowed in the eighth year. (Lev. 25:20-22) When the land was left uncultivated it would produce some grain from kernels spilled at the previous harvest. During the sabbath and Jubilee years the farmers were to eat from what they had stored, and not to reap and collect into their storehouses what grew from spilled kernels. It was to be left in the field. However, a loving provision had been made in the Law allowing the afflicted of the land to glean what remained in the fields after a normal harvest. (Lev. 19:9, 10; Ruth 2:2, 3) But what were the poor and the alien residents to do during the seventh-year sabbath and the Jubilee? Then they could glean in the fields what grew from grain spilled during the last harvest. (Lev. 25:12; Ex. 23:11) So, while there would be no harvesting during the Jubilee, Jehovah’s law made provisions for both the farmer with stored food and the poor who would live directly off the land.

Numbers 3:39
In Numbers chapter 3 the census figures for the three families comprising the tribe of Levi yield a total of 22,300. But Numbers 3:39 indicates that the total number of Levite males was 22,000, a difference of 300. How is this difference resolved? The reason for this difference becomes readily apparent when we are considering the purpose of the figures. Numbers 3:12, 13 reads: “I [Jehovah] do take the Levites from among the sons of Israel in place of all the firstborn opening the womb of the sons of Israel; and the Levites must become mine. For every firstborn is mine. In the day that I struck every firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified to myself every firstborn in Israel.” From this passage it is evident that all the firstborn belonged to Jehovah and thus

normally would have been the ones to serve him at the sanctuary. However, rather than have the firstborn act in this capacity, Jehovah chose the males of the tribe of Levi. But some of the Levites would already have been in line for service at the sanctuary. Why? By reason of their being firstborn. These Levites would therefore not have figured in the exchange. So the 300 Levites that were not counted in when the exchange was made must logically have been firstborn.

Numbers 4:3
Numbers 4:3,30-31 says that the minimum age requirement for tabernacle service was thirty years but at Numbers 8:24-26 the age is dropped to twenty five years. How can this be? An age limit was set for qualification to temple service, as was an age limit at which obligatory service ceased. Some have alleged a discrepancy in the statements at Numbers 4:3, 30, 31 and Nu 8:24-26, since the age for beginning Levitical service is stated first as from 30 years of age and thereafter as from 25 years. However, the case seems to be that of two categories of service involved. Thus, certain rabbinic sources present the view that at the age of 25 a Levite was introduced into the tabernacle service but only to perform lighter tasks, and then, on reaching the full age of 30, he entered into the heavier tasks. They point out that the references to “the work” and “laborious service and the service of carrying loads” mentioned in Numbers 4:3, 47 do not appear at Numbers 8:24, where the age limit is 25. Others add the suggestion that those serving from the age of 30 years up had to do with the transporting of the tabernacle and its equipment when on the move, while those serving between the ages of 25 and 30 served only when the tabernacle was erected and standing at an encampment site. Those favouring the view that assignments to heavier tasks were given only at the age of 30 advance the reason that at that age greater strength, intellectual maturity, and soundness of judgment would have been attained. The Greek Septuagint gives the age as 25 at both Numbers 4:3 and Numbers 8:24. Later, in David’s day, the age limit was dropped to 20 years for beginning tabernacle service, which was in time replaced by temple service. – 1Ch 23:24-32; compare also Ezr 3:8.

Numbers 13:33
If all the Nephilim were destroyed in the flood of Noah’s day, how can it be said that the spies who made report about the inhabitants of Canaan saw Nephilim? The ten spies who brought back to the Israelites in the wilderness a false report on the land of Canaan declared: “All the people whom we saw in the midst of it are men of extraordinary size. And there we saw the Nephilim, the sons of Anak, who are from the Nephilim; so that we became in our own eyes like grasshoppers, and the same way we became in their eyes.” No doubt there were some large men in Canaan, as other scriptures show, but never except in this “bad report,” which was carefully couched in language designed to strike terror and cause panic among the Israelites, are they called Nephilim. – Nu 13:31-33; 14:36, 37.

Numbers 24:7
Since Agag was a contemporary of Israelite king Saul, was not Balaam’s much earlier reference to an Amalekite ruler of that name a discrepancy? In about 1473 B.C.E., Balaam foretold that a king of Israel would be “higher than Agag.” (Numbers 24:7) No subsequent reference was made to Agag until the reign of King Saul (11171078 B.C.E.). (1 Samuel 15:8) This was not a discrepancy, however, for “Agag” may have been a royal title similar to that of Pharaoh in Egypt. It is also possible that Agag was a personal name

repeatedly used by Amalekite rulers.

Numbers 25:9
How many Israelites died for having immoral relations with Moabite women and for engaging in the worship of the Baal of Peor? Numbers 25:9 states: “Those who died from the scourge [from God for their wicked conduct] amounted to twenty-four thousand.” However, the apostle Paul said: “Neither let us practice fornication, as some of them [Israelites in the wilderness] committed fornication, only to fall, twenty-three thousand of them in one day.” (1 Corinthians 10:8) Perhaps the number slain was between 23,000 and 24,000, so that either figure would be satisfactory. Yet, the book of Numbers especially indicates that “all the head ones of the people” involved in this sin were killed by judges. (Numbers 25:4, 5) There may have been 1,000 of these guilty “head ones,” making a total of 24,000 when added to the 23,000 mentioned by Paul. Whereas apparently 23,000 were direct victims of the scourge from God, all 24,000 experienced Jehovah’s scourge because every one of them died under his decree of adverse judgment. – Deuteronomy 4:3.

Numbers 32:41
Why does Numbers 32:39-41 mention that Jair captured a number of cities and named them Havvoth-jair, when at Judges 10:4 thirty cities are called Havvoth-jair but in a much later time period? Jair (a descendant of Judah through Hezron, but also reckoned as a descendant of Manasseh), a contemporary of Moses, is credited with capturing certain “tent villages,” evidently 23 in number, and naming them Havvoth-jair, after himself. (Nu 32:39-41; De 3:14; 1Ch 2:3, 2123.) Years later, 30 cities in the possession of Judge Jair’s 30 sons were known as Havvoth-jair. Some critics view this as a contradictory explanation about the origin of the name Havvoth-jair. However, the Judges account does not state that the name Havvoth-jair was first used in this later period. It simply indicates that at the time of the writing, the name still was in use and was applied to these 30 cities. – Jg 10:3, 4.

Numbers 33:31
Deuteronomy 10:6 reads, “And’ the sons of Israel pulled away from Beeroth Bene-jaakan for Moserah.” However, Numbers 33:31, 32 says exactly the reverse. How are we to understand this seeming discrepancy? The account in the book of Numbers states that when the Israelites were on their journey through the wilderness they “pulled away from Moseroth and went camping in Bene-jaakan. After that they pulled away from Bene-jaakan and went camping in Hor-haggidgad.” So the account at Deuteronomy does list the direction of travel of the Israelites in reverse order from the Numbers account. In view of the many years spent in the wilderness, it is quite possible that the Israelites passed twice through this region. As The Pentateuch and Haftorahs (Deuteronomy) commentary on Deuteronomy 10:6 suggests: “A probable explanation is that the Israelites, after journeying on a southern direction to the land of Edom, had to turn sharply to the north. . . . They may have had to retrace their steps for a short distance, and revisit some of the places they had passed through, this time in the reverse order.” It is to be noted that the record of Deuteronomy (10:6) refers to Aaron’s death immediately after referring to the station of Moserah, whereas the Numbers account (Numbers 33:31-39) describes the Israelites’ travels to Ezion-geber and then northwest to Kadesh before dealing with the matter of the death of Aaron. This, together with the long number of years

involved, would certainly allow for a measure of backtracking, if such were the case. Benejaakan (Beeroth Bene-jaakan, meaning “wells of the sons of Jaakan”) is usually identified with a site a few miles north of Kadesh-barnea.

Numbers 35:4
At Numbers 35:4 it is stated that the area of the pasture grounds outside the cities that were to be given to the Levites was 1,000 cubits. However in the very next verse this figure is changed to two thousand cubits. Is this a contradiction? The area of the pasture grounds was to be “from the wall of the city and out for a thousand cubits [445 m; 1,458 ft] all around.” But the next verse adds: “You must measure outside the city on the east side two thousand cubits” and so on in all four directions. (Nu 35:4, 5) Numerous suggestions have been offered to harmonize the two figures. Some have pointed out that the Greek Septuagint reads “two thousand” in the first instance instead of “a thousand.” However, the Hebrew text as well as the Latin Vulgate and the Syriac Peshitta read “a thousand.” Jewish commentators have offered the possibility that the first thousand cubits (Nu 35:4) were open and used for olive groves and stalls for animals, while the second measurement (Nu 35:5) was for actual grazing or pasture grounds as well as for fields and vineyards, making a total of 3,000 cubits on each side. However, since this reads into the text thoughts that are not there expressed, another explanation seems more likely. Thus, some commentators believe the measurements to mean that the pastureland was determined by measuring out 1,000 cubits from each of the four sides of the city, east, west, north, and south. As to the 2,000 cubits on each side, they believe the expression “outside the city” means that these 2,000 cubits were not measured from the city walls outward but were the measurements of each of the four sides of the pasture area as measured along its perimeter. If so, this would mean that the space occupied by “the city in the middle” was not counted in the 2,000 cubits measured. As shown in the diagram below, this would allow for harmonising the two sets of measurements.

Deuteronomy 10:4
Deuteronomy 10:4 shows Jehovah wrote the second set of the Ten Commandments on the tables of stone, but Exodus 34:27, 28 says Moses wrote this second set. Is there an explanation of this seeming contradiction? Jehovah through an angel representative on Mount Sinai wrote the first set on tables of stone for Moses, which set Moses broke in anger when he descended from the mount and found the Israelites worshiping the golden calf. (Ex. 32:15, 16, 19) Jehovah then wrote a second set on new stone tablets, as is clearly shown by Deuteronomy 10:1-4. A careful consideration of Exodus 34:1-28 shows it to be in agreement, and not in contradiction. Exodus 34:1 plainly states that Jehovah would write on the second set of tables the same Ten Commandments that he representatively wrote on the first tables. Then in Exodus verses 10 to 26 we read about the making of a covenant between Jehovah and the nation of Israel, and Exodus verse 27 then shows Jehovah commanding Moses: “Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.” The words of this covenant, from verses 10 to 26, make no reference to the Ten Commandments. Thereafter verse 28 states: “And he was there with Jehovah forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.” – AS. In view of the fact that at Exodus verse 1 it states that Jehovah will write the Ten Commandments, and Exodus verse 27 only indicates that Moses was commanded to write the words of the covenant discussed in verses 10-26, it must be concluded that the pronoun “he” in the closing sentence of Exodus verse 28 refers back to Jehovah and not to Moses. Bible commentators in general are agreed on this point, and in Rotherham’s translation the last “He” in

verse 28 is capitalized to show that it refers to Jehovah God and not to Moses. Thus no contradiction exists between Exodus 34:27, 28 and Deuteronomy 10:1-4.

Deuteronomy 20:19
Why did God tell the Israelites not to destroy any of the food bearing trees when they entered the promised land but reverse this decision when it concerned the land of Moab? On invading the land, the Israelites were instructed not to destroy the fruit-bearing trees when attacking the cities, although centuries later the kings of Judah and Israel were authorized by God to devastate the ‘good trees’ of the kingdom of Moab. The reason appears to be that Moab was outside the Promised Land. It was punitive warfare against Moab, and the Israelite action was a protection against Moabite revolt or retaliation. (De 20:19, 20; 2Ki 3:19, 25; compare Jer 6:6.)

Deuteronomy 31:2
The Bible says that Moses was vigorous right up till his death. (Deut. 34:7) Why, then, does Moses say in Deuteronomy 31:2 that being a hundred and twenty years old he could no longer “go out and come in” before the Israelites as their leader? Basically, it seems that the point Moses was making in Deuteronomy 31:2 was that he would no longer be allowed to ‘go out and in’ before the Israelites to lead them into the Promised Land. This point is not made clear in some translations, for Deuteronomy 31:2 reads in such a way that it sounds as if Moses was saying that he was physically unable to lead the people. For instance, the translation by Ronald Knox reads: “Here am I, a man of a hundred and twenty years of age, no longer fit to lead you on your expeditions; and besides, the Lord has told me that I am not destined to cross yonder stream of Jordan.”—Deut. 31:2, italics added. But it is quite obvious that Moses could not have been saying that he was unable to lead the nation because of being decrepit. We know that, for after Moses had died it was written: “And Moses was a hundred and twenty years old at his death. His eye had not grown dim, and his vital strength had not fled.”—Deut. 34:7. So Moses was evidently quite vigorous. Though, obviously, he was not as robust as a strong young man, he was exceptional for his age; he was not incapacitated from old age. Right up till his death he was capable of leading the people.

Joshua 11:23
How can it be said that Joshua took all the land and was given rest by God when only two chapters later the Bible reports that the land to a very great extent remained to be taken? Some have felt that the book is contradictory in making it appear that the land was completely subdued by Joshua while at the same time reporting that much of it remained to be taken. (Compare Jos 11:16, 17, 23; 13:1.) But such seeming discrepancies are easily resolved when one bears in mind that there were two distinct aspects in the conquest. First, national warfare under Joshua’s leadership broke the power of the Canaanites. Next, individual and tribal action was required to take full possession of the land. (17:14-18; 18:3) Probably while Israel was warring elsewhere, the Canaanites reestablished themselves in cities such as Debir and Hebron so that these had to be retaken by individual or tribal effort. – Compare Jos 11:21-23 with Jos 14:6, 12; 15:13-17.

Joshua 15:9
Joshua 15:9 says that the boundary of the springs of Nephtoah went out to Kiriath-jearim, which is to the east, but Joshua 18:15 reports that they went out in a westerly direction. How can this be? This spring is usually identified with the one at Lifta (`En Neftoah), to the E of Kiriathjearim and about 4 km (2.5 mi) WNW of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Although this identification would agree with Joshua 15:9, Joshua 18:15, 16 appears to place “the spring of the waters of Nephtoah” W of Kiriath-jearim. Bible translators have variously handled this seeming discrepancy. Following the reading of the Greek Septuagint, The Jerusalem Bible replaces “westward” with “towards Gasin.” In the Revised Standard Version the text has been changed in harmony with Joshua 15:9 and reads “to Ephron” instead of “westward.” Ronald A. Knox translates the Hebrew word yam'mah (westward) according to its literal meaning as “seaward” and, in a footnote, explains: “This ought to mean westwards, towards the Mediterranean, but it seems quite clear that at this point the boundary of Benjamin turned eastwards; and the sea is presumably the Dead Sea, its eastward limit.”

Joshua 15:63
Jerusalem was listed as part of the inheritance of Benjamin, but we read that Benjamin’s tribe was unable to conquer it. (Joshua 18:28; Judges 1:21) We also read that Judah was unable to conquer Jerusalem—as if it were part of that tribe’s inheritance. Eventually, Judah defeated Jerusalem, burning it with fire. (Joshua 15:63; Judges 1:8) Hundreds of years later, however, David is also recorded as conquering Jerusalem. – 2 Samuel 5:5-9. How can this be? At first glance, all of this might appear confusing, but there are in reality no contradictions. In fact, the boundary between Benjamin’s inheritance and Judah’s ran along the Valley of Hinnom, right through the ancient city of Jerusalem. What later came to be called the City of David actually lay in the territory of Benjamin, just as Joshua 18:28 says. But it is likely that the Jebusite city of Jerusalem spilled across the Valley of Hinnom and thus overlapped into Judah’s territory, so that Judah, too, had to war against its Canaanite inhabitants. Benjamin was unable to conquer the city. On one occasion, Judah did conquer Jerusalem and burn it. (Judges 1:8, 9) But Judah’s forces evidently moved on, and some of the original inhabitants regained possession of the city. Later, they formed a pocket of resistance that neither Judah nor Benjamin could remove. Thus, the Jebusites continued in Jerusalem until David conquered the city hundreds of years later.

Joshua 22:4
Moses spoke of the territory east of the Jordan as “on this side of the Jordan.” Joshua, however, speaking of land to the east of the Jordan, called it “the other side of the Jordan.” (Joshua 22:4) Which is correct? In fact, both are correct. According to the account in Numbers, the Israelites had not yet crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land, so to them east of the Jordan was “this side.” But Joshua had already crossed the Jordan. He was now, physically, west of the river, in the land of Canaan. So east of the Jordan was, for him, “the other side.”

Joshua 24:32
If Joshua 24:32 reports that Josephs bones were buried in the tract of the field that Jacob

bought how could Stephen in making his defence before the Jews say that Abraham had bought the field? When Jacob’s descendants, the Israelites, entered the Promised Land after the sojourn of more than two centuries in Egypt, they buried Joseph’s bones “in Shechem in the tract of the field that Jacob had acquired from the sons of Hamor.” (Jos 24:32) However, in his defence before the Jews, Stephen said that Joseph was buried “in the tomb that Abraham had bought . . . from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.” (Ac 7:16) Perhaps Stephen’s statement was an elliptic one. If the ellipsis was filled in, Stephen’s statement could read: ‘Jacob went down into Egypt. And he deceased; and so did our forefathers, and they were transferred to Shechem and were laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a price with silver money [and in that bought] from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.’ (Ac 7:15, 16) There is also a possibility that, since Jacob was Abraham’s grandson, the purchase could have been ascribed to Abraham as the patriarchal head. This would be using the name of the forefather as applying to and being used for the descendants, in the same manner as the names Israel (Jacob) and others were later used. – Compare Ho 11:1, 3, 12; Mt

Judges 8:30
Judges 8:30 speaks of Gideon having seventy sons. But the account about Abimelech’s slaughter of Gideons sons at Judges 9:5 reports him having slain seventy sons yet one escaped. How many sons did Gideon have? After Gideon’s death and burial at Ophrah, his ambitious son Abimelech “killed his brothers . . . seventy men, upon one stone, but Jotham the youngest . . . was left over.” (Jg 8:32; 9:5) Not counting Abimelech, Gideon had 70 sons. (Jg 8:30, 31) Therefore, since Jotham escaped the slaughter, apparently Abimelech killed only 69 sons at Ophrah. Jotham’s later words concerning the incident merely appear to point to Abimelech’s intention to kill all 70 sons. (Jg 9:18) However, as a Jewish commentary fittingly observes: “It is still correct to speak in round numbers of ‘seventy’ slain.” – Soncino Books of the Bible, edited by A. Cohen, London, 1950 (Joshua and Judges, p. 234).

1 Samuel 16:18
At 1 Samuel 16:18-23 an attendant is quoted as saying to King Saul that David is the son of Jesse the Bethlehemite. Yet later at 1 Samuel 17:55-58 King Saul inquires of Abner as to whose son David is. Why is there this seeming discrepancy? First Samuel 17:12-31, 55–18:6a does not appear in the Greek Septuagint as contained in Vatican Manuscript No. 1209. Numerous scholars have, therefore, concluded that the omissions are later additions to the Hebrew text. Arguing against this view, C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch comment: “The notion, that the sections in question are interpolations that have crept into the text, cannot be sustained on the mere authority of the Septuagint version; since the arbitrary manner in which the translators of this version made omissions or additions at pleasure is obvious to any one.” – Commentary on the Old Testament, 1973, Vol. II, 1 Samuel, p. 177, ftn. If it could be definitely established that actual discrepancies exist between the omitted sections and the rest of the book, the authenticity of 1 Samuel 17:12-31, 55–18:6a would reasonably be in question. A comparison of 1 Samuel 16:18-23 and 1 Samuel 17:55-58 reveals what appears to be a contradiction, for in the latter passage Saul is depicted as asking about the identity of his own court musician and armor-bearer, David. However, it should be noted that David’s earlier being described as “a valiant, mighty man and a man of war” could have been based on his courageous acts in single-handedly killing a lion and a bear to rescue his father’s sheep. (1Sa 16:18; 17:34-36) Also, the Scriptures do not state that David actually served in battle as Saul’s armor-bearer before he killed Goliath. Saul’s request to Jesse was: “Let David, please, keep attending upon me, for he has found favor in my eyes.” (1Sa 16:22) This request does not

preclude the possibility that Saul later permitted David to return to Bethlehem so that, when war broke out with the Philistines, David was then shepherding his father’s flock. Regarding Saul’s question, “Whose son is the boy, Abner?” the aforementioned commentary observes (p. 178, ftn.): “Even if Abner had not troubled himself about the lineage of Saul’s harpist, Saul himself could not well have forgotten that David was a son of the Bethlehemite Jesse. But there was much more implied in Saul’s question. It was not the name of David’s father alone that he wanted to discover, but what kind of man the father of a youth who possessed the courage to accomplish so marvellous a heroic deed really was; and the question was put not merely in order that he might grant him an exemption of his house from taxes as the reward promised for the conquest of Goliath (ver. 25), but also in all probability that he might attach such a man to his court, since he inferred from the courage and bravery of the son the existence of similar qualities in the father. It is true that David merely replied, ‘The son of thy servant Jesse of Bethlehem;’ but it is very evident from the expression in ch. xviii. 1, ‘when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul,’ that Saul conversed with him still further about his family affairs, since the very words imply a lengthened conversation.” (For other instances where “who” involves more than mere knowledge of a person’s name, see Ex 5:2; 1Sa 25:10.)

1 Samuel 28:6
1 Samuel 28:6 (NW) says: “Although Saul would inquire of Jehovah, Jehovah never answered him, either by dreams or by the Urim or by the prophets.” But 1 Chronicles 10:14 (NW) says about Saul: “And he did not inquire of Jehovah.” How can these two texts be harmonised? Apparently Saul made inquiry of Jehovah, but not in the right way or with the right motives. His heart was not clean in the matter and Jehovah could see this, so no answer was given to Saul from God. Then Saul turned to the witch of En-dor, or to the spirit medium located there. He made inquiry of the spirit medium, a practice condemned by God. Saul went through certain forms of inquiring of God, but he did not make inquiry of God in an upright, clean way, and for that reason God did not hear or answer Saul.

2 Samuel 2:23
How could Asahel be listed as a divisional commander in David’s army (1 Chron. 27:7) when, according to 2 Samuel 2:23, Asahel was killed even before David became king over all Israel? At 1 Chronicles 27:7 Asahel is listed as a divisional commander of the month-by-month arrangement of troops: “The fourth for the fourth month was Asahel, Joab’s brother, and Zebadiah his son after him, and in his division there were twenty-four thousand.” The text at 2 Samuel 2:23 shows that following the test struggle at the pool of Gibeon and the subsequent rout of the Israelite forces under Abner, Asahel doggedly pursued the fleeing Abner and was finally killed by Abner when he refused to desist from the pursuit. (2 Sam. 2:12-28) Since Asahel died before David’s becoming king over all Israel, his mention here is believed by some commentators to prove that the arrangement here mentioned was to some extent made before all the tribes came to David in Hebron to acknowledge him as King. In this regard The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (Vol. 1, page 244) says: “It is possible that we may have here the prototype of the Davidic militia organized earlier in the Judean rule of the king, and that his original list has been brought up to date by the inclusion of Zebadiah, son and successor of Asahel in his command.”— Compare 1 Chronicles chapter 12. Another suggestion arises out of the fact that at 1 Chronicles 27:7, the fourth division’s commander is said to be not only Asahel but “Zebadiah his son after him.” This position of commander for a month was a privilege held by a distinguished veteran, and in some cases such honor may have been posthumous. Hence, the name “Asahel” here may have reference to his

house, represented in his son Zebadiah, who is referred to as Asahel’s successor.

2 Samuel 6:23
We are told at 2 Samuel 6:23 that David’s wife Michal died childless. So how can it be said that Michal had five children as 2 Samuel 21:8 reports? According to the Masoretic text, 2 Samuel 21:8 speaks of “the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul whom she bore to Adriel.” Yet 2 Samuel 6:23 says that Michal died childless. It appears that some scribes have tried to resolve this difficulty by substituting the name of Merab for Michal at 2 Samuel 21:8. This seems apparent from the fact that the Greek Septuagint (Lagardian edition) and two Hebrew manuscripts read “Merab” in this verse. However, a traditional explanation of 2 Samuel 21:8 as it appears in almost all other Hebrew manuscripts is as follows: Michal’s sister Merab was the wife of Adriel and bore him the five sons in question. But Merab died early, and her sister Michal, rejected by David and childless, undertook the rearing, or bringing up, of the five boys. Hence, they were spoken of as Michal’s children instead of those of Merab. In harmony with this view of 2 Samuel 21:8, the Bible translation by Isaac Leeser speaks of “the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she had brought up for Adriel,” and a footnote thereon states: “As Michal was David’s wife; but the children were those of Merab, the oldest daughter of Saul, who were probably educated by her sister.” The Targums read: “The five sons of Merab (which Michal, Saul’s daughter, brought up) which she bare.” Other factors, not revealed in the Scriptures, may have a bearing on the way the text was set down.

2 Samuel 8:4
There appears to be a discrepancy regarding the number of horses David captured when fighting with Hadadezer at 2 Samuel 8:4 and its parallel account at 1 Chronicles 18:4. How can these scriptures be reconciled? The variation in the enumeration of these at 2 Samuel 8:4 and 1 Chronicles 18:4 may have arisen through scribal error. In the Greek Septuagint both passages indicate that 1,000 chariots and 7,000 horsemen were captured, and therefore 1 Chronicles 18:4 perhaps preserves the original reading. However, it may be noted that what are commonly viewed as scribal errors in the account of David’s conflict with Hadadezer may simply reflect other aspects of the war or different ways of reckoning.

2 Samuel 8:13
Who struck down the Edomites in the valley of salt? 2 Samuel 8:13 says that it was David but 1 Chronicles 18:12 tells us it was Abishai. Then again the supersciption to Psalm 60 says it was Joab. Which one is correct? David, as king, won a major victory over the Edomites in the Valley of Salt. (2Sa 8:13) While the action provoking the battle is not stated, Edomite aggression was doubtless responsible, perhaps because the Edomites’ thought that David’s campaigns into Syria had left the southern part of his kingdom vulnerable to invasion. At 1 Chronicles 18:12 and in the superscription of Psalm 60, Abishai and Joab respectively are described as effecting the conquest of the Edomites. Since David was commander in chief and Joab was his principal general, while Abishai was a divisional commander under Joab, it can be seen how the accounts could differ in crediting the victory, depending upon the viewpoint taken, even as is the case in modern times. Similarly the difference in figures in these texts is likely due to the narrator’s particular view of the different aspects or campaigns of the war. (Compare 1Ki 11:15, 16.)

2 Samuel 10:18
The figures in 2 Samuel 10:18 concerning the charioteers, horsemen and men on foot differs from the same account found at 1 Chronicles 19:18. Why is this? At Helam the forces of Hadadezer under the command of Shobach (Shophach) met those of David and were defeated. Immediately afterward, Hadadezer’s vassals made peace with Israel. (2Sa 10:17-19; 1Ch 19:17-19) In the conflict 40,000 Syrian horsemen were killed. Perhaps in order to escape through rough terrain, these horsemen dismounted and were slain as footmen. This could account for their being called “horsemen” at 2 Samuel 10:18 and “men on foot” at 1 Chronicles 19:18. The difference in the number of Syrian charioteers killed in battle is usually attributed to scribal error, the lower figure of 700 charioteers being considered the correct one.

2 Samuel 21:19
Why does there appear to be a discrepancy as to who Goliath was when looking at the two parallel accounts found at 2 Samuel 21:19 and 1 Chronicles 20:5? Several suggestions have been made for an explanation of the problem. The Targum preserves a tradition that Elhanan is to be identified with David. The Soncino Books of the Bible, edited by A. Cohen (London, 1951, 1952), comment that there is no difficulty in the assumption that there were two Goliaths, commenting also that Goliath may have been a descriptive title like “Pharaoh,” “Rabshakeh,” “Sultan.” The fact that one text refers to “Jaare-oregim,” whereas the other reads “Jair,” and also that only the account in Second Samuel contains the term “Bethlehemite [Heb., behth hal·lach·mi'],” while the Chronicles account alone contains the name “Lahmi [´eth-Lach·mi'],” has been suggested by the majority of commentators to be the result of a copyist’s error. The account at 1 Chronicles 20:5 reads, in part, “Elhanan the son of Jair got to strike down Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite,” during a war with the Philistines. However, in a parallel text at 2 Samuel 21:19 the reading is: “Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim the Bethlehemite got to strike down Goliath the Gittite.” In the latter text it appears that ´eth-lach·mi' (in English, “Lahmi,” the Hebrew term ´eth merely denoting that Lahmi is the object of a verb) was misread by a copyist to be behth hal·lach·mi' (“Bethlehemite”). Therefore the original probably read, “got to strike down Lahmi,” just as the parallel text at 1 Chronicles 20:5 reads. This would make the two texts harmonize on this point. Lahmi, then, was evidently the brother of the Goliath that David killed. On the other hand, it is possible that there were two Goliaths.

2 Samuel 24:1
Who caused David to take a count of the Israelites? Second Samuel 24:1 states: “Again the anger of Jehovah came to be hot against Israel, when one incited David [or, “when David was incited,” footnote] against them, saying: ‘Go, take a count of Israel and Judah.’” But it was not Jehovah who moved King David to sin, for 1 Chronicles 21:1 says: “Satan [or, “a resister,” footnote] proceeded to stand up against Israel and to incite David to number Israel.” God was displeased with the Israelites and therefore allowed Satan the Devil to bring this sin upon them. For this reason, 2 Samuel 24:1 reads as though God did it himself. Interestingly, Joseph B. Rotherham’s translation reads: “The anger of Yahweh kindled against Israel, so that he suffered David to be moved against them saying, Go count Israel and Judah.”

2 Samuel 24:9
How can one harmonise the different figures given for Israelites and Judeans in David’s count? At 2 Samuel 24:9 the figures are 800,000 Israelites and 500,000 Judeans, whereas 1 Chronicles 21:5 numbers Israel’s fighting men at 1,100,000 and Judah’s at 470,000. Enlisted regularly in the royal service were 288,000 troops, divided into 12 groups of 24,000, each group serving one month during the year. There were an additional 12,000 attendant on the 12 princes of the tribes, making a total of 300,000. Apparently the 1,100,000 of 1 Chronicles 21:5 includes this 300,000 already enlisted, whereas 2 Samuel 24:9 does not. (Numbers 1:16; Deuteronomy 1:15; 1 Chronicles 27:1-22) As regards Judah, 2 Samuel 24:9 apparently included 30,000 men in an army of observation stationed on the Philistine frontiers but which were not included in the figure at 1 Chronicles 21:5. (2 Samuel 6:1) If we remember that 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles were written by two men with different views and objectives, we can easily harmonise the figures.

2 Samuel 24:13
Why does 2 Samuel 24:13 state that David had a choice of experiencing seven years of famine as punishment for taking a census, when the parallel account at 1 Chronicles 21:12 only mentions three years? A variation is indeed found between the Samuel and Chronicles accounts. 2 Samuel 24:13 says seven years of famine, 1 Chronicles 21:12 says three. (The Greek Septuagint reads “three” in the Samuel account.) One proffered explanation is that the seven years referred to at Second Samuel would, in part, be an extension of the three years of famine that came because of the sin of Saul and his house against the Gibeonites. (2Sa 21:1, 2) The current year (the registration took 9 months and 20 days [2Sa 24:8]) would be the fourth, and three years to come would make seven. Although the difference may have been due to a copyist’s error, it may be said again that a full knowledge of all the facts and circumstances should be had before one reaches such a conclusion.

2 Samuel 24:24
2 Samuel 24:24 reports David as purchasing a threshing floor and cattle from Araunah for 50 silver shekels. However 1 Chronicles 21:25 says that David paid out not 50 silver shekels but 600 gold shekels. How can this be? The record at 2 Samuel 24:24 shows that David purchased the threshing floor and the cattle for 50 silver shekels ($110). However, the account at 1 Chronicles 21:25 speaks of David’s paying 600 gold shekels (c. $77,000) for the site. The writer of Second Samuel deals only with the purchase as it relates to the altar location and the materials for the sacrifice then made, and it thus appears that the purchase price referred to by him was restricted to these things. On the other hand, the writer of First Chronicles discusses matters as relating to the temple later built on the site and associates the purchase with that construction. (1Ch 22:1-6; 2Ch 3:1) Since the entire temple area was very large, it appears that the sum of 600 gold shekels applies to the purchase of this large area rather than to the small portion needed for the altar first built by David.

1 Kings 7:14
How could Hiram, a skilled artisan under King Solomon, be said to be of the tribe of Naphtali according to 1 Kings 7:14 while at the same time be of the tribe of Dan as 2 Chronicles 2:14 states?

This apparent difference resolves itself if we take the view, as some scholars do, that she was born of the tribe of Dan, had been widowed by a first husband of the tribe of Naphtali, and then was remarried to a Tyrian.

1 Kings 7:26
How is it that the molten sea spoken of at 1 Kings 7:26 is said to contain two thousand bath measures of water whereas the parallel account at 2 Chronicles 4:5 speaks of it as containing three thousand bath measures? The account at 1 Kings 7:26 refers to the sea as ‘containing two thousand bath measures,’ whereas the parallel account at 2 Chronicles 4:5 speaks of it as ‘containing three thousand bath measures.’ Some claim that the difference is the result of a scribal error in the Chronicles account. However, while the Hebrew verb meaning “contain” in each case is the same, there is a measure of latitude allowable in translating it. Thus some translations render 1 Kings 7:26 to read that the vessel “held” or “would contain” 2,000 bath measures, and translate 2 Chronicles 4:5 to read that it “had a capacity of” or “could hold” or “could contain” 3,000 bath measures. (AT, JB, NW) This allows for the understanding that the Kings account sets forth the amount of water customarily stored in the receptacle while the Chronicles account gives the actual capacity of the vessel if filled to the brim.

1 Kings 9:28
Why does 1 Kings 9:28 say that 420 talents of Gold were brought from Ophir but at 2 Chronicles 8:18 it mentions that this amount was 450 talents? David donated 3,000 talents of gold from Ophir for construction of the temple, gold valued at $1,156,050,000. (1Ch 29:1, 2, 4) Later, the trading fleet of David’s son Solomon regularly brought back from Ophir 420 talents of gold. (1Ki 9:26-28) The parallel account at 2 Chronicles 8:18 reads 450 talents. Some scholars have suggested that this difference came about when letters of the alphabet served as figures—that an ancient copyist could have mistaken the Hebrew numeral letter nun (0 ), representing 50, for the letter kaph (+ ), standing for 20, or vice versa. However, the evidence is that all numbers in the Hebrew Scriptures were spelled out, rather than represented by letters. A more probable explanation, therefore, is that both figures are correct and that the gross amount brought was 450 talents, of which 420 were clear gain.

1 Kings 15:16
Is there a discrepancy as to the time frame when Asa actually warred against Baasha? The statement at 2 Chronicles 16:1 that Baasha came up against Judah “in the thirtysixth year of the reign of Asa” has caused some question, since Baasha’s rule, beginning in the third year of Asa and lasting only 24 years, had terminated about 10 years prior to Asa’s 36th year of rule. (1Ki 15:33) While some suggest a scribal error and believe the reference is to the 16th or the 26th year of Asa’s reign, the assumption of such error is not required to harmonize the accounts. Jewish commentators quote the Seder Olam, which suggests that the 36th year was reckoned from the existence of the separate kingdom of Judah (997 B.C.E.) and corresponded to the 16th year of Asa (Rehoboam ruling 17 years, Abijah 3 years, and Asa now in his 16th year). (Soncino Books of the Bible, London, 1952, ftn on 2Ch 16:1) This was also the view of Archbishop Ussher. So, too, the apparent difference between the statement at 2 Chronicles 15:19 to the effect that, as for “war, it did not occur down to the thirty-fifth [actually, the fifteenth] year of Asa’s reign,” and the statement at 1 Kings 15:16 to the effect that “warfare itself took place between Asa and Baasha the king of Israel all their days,” may be explained in that once conflicts

began between the two kings they were thereafter continuous, even as Hanani had foretold. – 2Ch 16:9.

1 Kings 18:1
In 1 Kings 18:1 Elijah is said to have gone before Ahab in the third year in order to end the drought upon the land. Yet at Luke 4:25 and James 5:17 the record states that this drought ended after three years and six months. How can these differences be reconciled? Both Jesus and James say that it did not rain in the land for “three years and six months.” Yet, Elijah is said to appear before Ahab to end the drought “in the third year” – no doubt counting from the day he announced the drought. Thus, it must have been after a long, rainless dry season when he first stood before Ahab.—Luke 4:25; James 5:17; 1 Kings 18:1.

2 Kings 25:8
Why does 2 Kings 25:8 say that it was on the 7th day of the fifth month that Nebuzaradan came to Jerusalem when Jeremiah 52:12 tells us it was the 10th day of this month? Second Kings 25:8 says that it was on the seventh day of Ab (fifth month) that Nebuzaradan, the servant of the king of Babylon, “came to Jerusalem.” However, Jeremiah 52:12 tells us that it was on the tenth day of this month that Nebuzaradan “came into Jerusalem.” The Soncino Books of the Bible comments on this, saying: “The interval of three days may be accounted for as representing the date of Nebuzaradan’s arrival on the scene and the commencement of operations.” (Edited by A. Cohen, London, 1949) It would appear, then, that Nebuzaradan arrived at Jerusalem on the seventh day, made his survey from his camp outside the city walls, and gave directions for the demolition of the city fortifications and the plundering of its treasures; finally, on the tenth day of the month, he entered the city and its holy temple. According to Josephus (The Jewish War, VI, 250, 268 [iv, 5, 8]), Herod’s temple was burned by the Romans on the tenth day of the fifth month (70 C.E.), and Josephus makes note of the precise correspondency of this date with the burning of the first temple on the same day by the Babylonians.

1 Chronicles 2:13-15
Why does 1 Chronicles 2:13-15 speak of the seven sons of Jesse, whereas First Samuel refers to David as the eighth? The Bible account at 1 Chronicles 2:13-15 says that “Jesse, in turn, became father to his first-born Eliab, and Abinadab the second, and Shimea the third, Nethanel the fourth, Raddai the fifth, Ozem the sixth, David the seventh.” The account at 1 Samuel 16:10, 11 says: “So Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel; still Samuel said to Jesse: ‘Jehovah has not chosen these.’ Finally Samuel said to Jesse: ‘Are these all the boys?’ To this he said: ‘The youngest one has till now been left out, and, look! he is pasturing the sheep.’” In the next chapter of 1 Samuel, 17 verse 12, the account reads: “Now David was the son of this Ephrathite from Bethlehem of Judah whose name was Jesse. And he had eight sons.” It appears from these accounts that one of those sons shown to Samuel did not live long enough to marry and have children, in consequence of which his name was omitted at 1 Chronicles 2, which gives the genealogy of Jesse and others. It is well to remember that First Samuel was written by Samuel, Gad and Nathan and was completed about 1077 B.C.E. Chronicles, however, was written by the priest Ezra about 460 B.C.E. When writing 1 Chronicles 2:13-15, Ezra left out the name of the son of Jesse who evidently had died childless.

1 Chronicles 3:17
Who was the father of Shealtiel? Certain texts indicate that Jeconiah (King Jehoiachin) was the fleshly father of Shealtiel. (1 Chronicles 3:16-18; Matthew 1:12) But the Gospel writer Luke called Shealtiel the “son of Neri.” (Luke 3:27) Neri apparently gave his daughter to Shealtiel as a wife. Since the Hebrews commonly referred to a son-in-law as a son, especially in genealogical listings, Luke could properly call Shealtiel the son of Neri. Similarly, Luke referred to Joseph as the son of Heli, who was actually the father of Joseph’s wife, Mary. – Luke 3:23.

1 Chronicles 3:19
If 1 Chronicles 3:19 states that Zerubbabel was the son of Pedaiah then why is it that Ezra 5:2 calls him the son of Shealtiel? Pedaiah became father to postexilic Governor Zerubbabel and was therefore a vital link in the line leading to Jesus. (1Ch 3:17-19) Because of some unrecorded circumstance, Zerubbabel is also called the son of Pedaiah’s brother Shealtiel. Shealtiel may have adopted Zerubbabel if Pedaiah died when the boy was young; or, if Shealtiel died before fathering a son, Pedaiah may have performed brother-in-law marriage, fathering Zerubbabel in the name of his brother Shealtiel.—Ezr 5:2; Mt 1:12.

1 Chronicles 6:3-14
Why does Ezra list 23 names in his priestly genealogy at 1 Chronicles 5:29-40 (1 Chronicles 6:3-14) but lists only 16 names for the same period when giving his own genealogy at Ezra 7:1-5? This is, not a discrepancy, but a simple condensation. Additionally, according to a writer’s intention in recording an event, he highlighted, minimized, included, or omitted details that another Bible writer expressed differently in recording the same event. Such are not contradictions but, rather, are differing accounts reflecting the writers’ point of view and intended audience.

2 Chronicles 14:5
Why does 2 Chronicles 14:5 state that Asa removed the high places from Judah when at 1 Kings 15:14 and 2 Chronicles 15:17 say that he did not remove them? The record at 2 Chronicles 14:2-5 states that Asa “removed the foreign altars and the high places and broke up the sacred pillars and cut down the sacred poles.” However, 1 Kings 15:14 and 2 Chronicles 15:17 indicate that “the high places he did not remove.” It may be, therefore, that the high places referred to in the earlier Chronicles account were those of the adopted pagan worship that infected Judah, while the Kings account refers to high places at which the people engaged in worship of Jehovah. Even after the setting up of the tabernacle and the later establishment of the temple, occasional sacrificing was done to Jehovah on high places, which was acceptable to him under special circumstances, as in the cases of Samuel, David, and Elijah. (1Sa 9:11-19; 1Ch 21:26-30; 1Ki 18:30-39) Nevertheless, the regular approved place for sacrifice was that authorized by Jehovah. (Nu 33:52; De 12:2-14; Jos 22:29) Improper modes of high-place worship may have continued in spite of the removal of the pagan high places, perhaps because the king did not pursue their elimination with the same vigor as he did the removal of the pagan sites. Or Asa may have effected a complete removal of all high places; but if so, such

cropped up again in due time and had not been removed by the time of the conclusion of his reign, allowing for their being smashed by his successor Jehoshaphat.

Ezra 2:1-67
How can we harmonise the differing figures concerning those that returned from exile found at Ezra 2:1-67 and Nehemiah 7:6-69? Both books list the number of persons from various families or houses who returned from Babylonian exile with Zerubbabel. The accounts harmonize in giving 42,360 as the total number of returned exiles, apart from slaves and singers. (Ezra 2:64; Neh. 7:66) However, there are variations in the numbers given for individual families or houses. In both listings the individual figures yield a total of far less than 42,360. Many scholars would attribute these differences to scribal errors. Whereas this aspect cannot be wholly discounted, there are other possible explanations for the variations. It may be that Ezra and Nehemiah based their listings on different sources. For example, Ezra could have used a document listing those who enrolled to return to their homeland, whereas Nehemiah might have copied from a record listing those who actually returned. Then, too, there were priests who were unable to establish their genealogy (Ezra 2:61-63; Neh. 7:63-65), and other Israelites may well have faced the same problem. These may not have been listed in the family groupings but could have been included in the total. So the 42,360 persons could be the combined total of the number from each family plus many others who were unable to establish their ancestry. Later, however, some may have been able to establish their correct genealogy. This could explain how a fluctuation in numbers might still give the same total.

Proverbs 26:4
Is there not a contradiction in the Proverbs at chapter 26:4, 5? Verse four reads: “Do not answer anyone stupid according to his foolishness, that you yourself also may not become equal to him.” But verse five says: “Answer someone stupid according to his foolishness, that he may not become someone wise in his own eyes.” There is no contradiction here. Rather, the verses simply contrast the right and the wrong ways to answer a stupid person. Verse four gives instruction not to answer a stupid person in harmony with his foolishness in the sense of resorting to his degrading methods of argument— ridicule, attacks on personalities, loud boisterous talk, fits of rage, and so forth. One would thereby show oneself to be on the same level as the stupid one, and that is what the latter part of verse four warns against. So, it is the second part of the verse that indicates how the first part is to be understood.—Compare Proverbs 20:3; 29:11. On the other hand, it would be proper to answer the stupid one “according to his foolishness” in the sense of analyzing his contentions, exposing them as being ridiculous. Showing that his arguments lead to entirely different conclusions from those he has drawn would be deterrent to his continuance in his stupid way. It should serve as a reproof and a rebuke. He should not feel so wise. Enforcing the consequences of a foolish argument, that is, demonstrating the absurdity and undesirability to which that viewpoint leads, is one of the best ways of dealing with such an argument.

Daniel 1:1
Why does Daniel 1:1 say that Nebuchadnezzar lay siege to Jerusalem in Jehoiakim’s third year, when Jeremiah records Nebuchadnezzar’s first year as coinciding with the fourth year of Jehoiakim’s rule?

Daniel 1:1 reads: “In the third year of the kingship of Jehoiakim the king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and proceeded to lay siege to it.” Critics have found fault with this scripture because it does not seem to agree with Jeremiah, who says that the fourth year of Jehoiakim was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar. (Jeremiah 25:1; 46:2) Was Daniel contradicting Jeremiah? With more information, the matter is readily clarified. When first made king in 628 B.C.E. by Pharaoh Necho, Jehoiakim became a mere puppet of that Egyptian ruler. This was about three years before Nebuchadnezzar succeeded his father to the throne of Babylon, in 624 B.C.E. Soon thereafter (in 620 B.C.E.), Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah and made Jehoiakim a vassal king under Babylon. (2 Kings 23:34; 24:1) To a Jew living in Babylon, Jehoiakim’s “third year” would have been the third year of that king’s vassal service to Babylon. Daniel wrote from that perspective. Jeremiah, however, wrote from the perspective of the Jews living right in Jerusalem. So he referred to Jehoiakim’s kingship as starting when Pharaoh Necho made him king.

Zechariah 11:12
Zechariah 11:12 is quoted by Matthew in chapter 27 and verse 9 of his book, yet he applies this quotation to Jeremiah. How can this be? Some have queried why it is that Matthew quotes Zechariah but attributes his words to Jeremiah. (Matt. 27:9; Zech. 11:12) It appears that Jeremiah was at times reckoned as first of the Later Prophets (instead of Isaiah, as in our present Bibles); hence Matthew, in referring to Zechariah as “Jeremiah,” could have been following the Jewish practice of including a whole section of Scripture under the name of the first book of the section. Jesus himself used the designation “Psalms” to include all the books known as the Writings. – Luke 24:44.

Matthew 1:16
Why do Matthew’s and Luke’s versions of Jesus’ genealogy differ? Matthew 1:1-16 lists Jacob as “the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, who was the mother of Jesus,” while Luke 3:23-38 says Joseph was “the son of Heli.” At least two authorities give as the preferable solution of this the explanation that Luke traces the natural lineage of Jesus through his fleshly mother Mary and her ancestors, while Matthew gives Jesus’ legal lineage, through Joseph and his ancestors. Starting with the oldest entry in each of the genealogical accounts, the understanding above helps us to see why they part company after David, Matthew’s account going through the line of David’s son Solomon, while Luke’s traces instead through David’s son Nathan, and why, though they meet again briefly at Shealtiel and Zerubbabel, they then branch off once more and pursue different lines. Matthew ends with Jacob as the father of Joseph and, according to this understanding, Luke ends with Heli, who was actually the father of Jesus’ fleshly mother, Mary. – The Westminster Dictionary of the Bible (Revised Edition of 1944, page 198, column 1); McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopædia (1882, Volume III, page 773, column 2). Why, then, does Luke omit Mary and list Joseph as “the son of Heli”? Says the Cyclopædia above, page 773, column 2: “In constructing their genealogical tables, it is well known that the Jews reckoned wholly by males, rejecting where the blood of the grandfather passed to the grandson through a daughter, the name of the daughter herself, and counting that daughter’s husband for the son of the maternal grandfather (Numbers 26:33; 27:4-7).” In keeping with this rule, Joseph’s name would replace Mary’s in Luke’s account, even though the genealogy there was traced through Mary’s lineage. The Cyclopaedia sees in the very wording of Luke’s account a confirmation of this thought, saying, page 774, column 1: “The evangelist Luke has critically distinguished the REAL from the LEGAL genealogy by a parenthetical remark: ‘Jesus being (as was reputed) the son of Joseph (but in reality) the son of Heli,’ or his grandson by his mother’s side.” – Luke 3:23.

Matthew 1:17
How are we to understand Matthew 1:17, which speaks of three sets of generations (fourteen for each set) from Abraham to Jesus Christ, although the previous verses list only forty-one generations? There is a simple explanation to this seeming difficulty. It is apparent that Matthew counted David twice, not taking into consideration the total but only the uniformity of the three groups of fourteen names or generations as a memory aid. As Matthew himself puts it: “All the generations, then, from Abraham until David were fourteen generations, and from David until the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon until the Christ fourteen generations.” This style on the part of Matthew is not to be wondered at, however, for genealogical lists were at times abbreviated. For example, Ezra lists twenty-three names in his priestly genealogy at 1 Chronicles 6:3-14 but lists only sixteen for the same period when giving his own genealogy at Ezra 7:1-5.

Matthew 8:5
When Jesus came into Capernaum, “an army officer came to him, entreating him,” asking Jesus to cure his manservant. But at Luke 7:3, we read of this army officer that “he sent forth older men of the Jews to him to ask [Jesus] to come and bring his slave safely through.” Did the army officer speak to Jesus, or did he send the older men? The answer is, clearly, that the man sent the elders of the Jews. Why, then, does Matthew say that the man himself entreated Jesus? Because, in effect, the man asked Jesus through the Jewish elders. The elders served as his mouthpiece. To illustrate this, at 2 Chronicles 3:1, we read: “Finally Solomon started to build the house of Jehovah in Jerusalem.” Later, we read: “Thus Solomon finished the house of Jehovah.” (2 Chronicles 7:11) Did Solomon personally build the temple from start to finish? Of course not. The actual building work was done by a multitude of craftsmen and laborers. But Solomon was the organizer of the work, the one responsible. Hence, the Bible says that he built the house. In the same way, Matthew’s Gospel tells us that the military commander approached Jesus. But Luke gives the added detail that he approached him through the Jewish elders.

Matthew 8:28
From how many men did Jesus Christ expel the demons who took possession of a large herd of swine? The Gospel writer Matthew mentions two men, but Mark and Luke refer to just one. (Matthew 8:28; Mark 5:2; Luke 8:27) Evidently, Mark and Luke drew attention to only one demonpossessed man because Jesus spoke to him and his case was more outstanding. Possibly, that man was more violent or had suffered under demon control for a longer time. Afterward, perhaps that one man alone wanted to accompany Jesus. (Mark 5:18-20) In a somewhat parallel situation, Matthew spoke of two blind men healed by Jesus, whereas Mark and Luke mentioned only one. (Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 10:46; Luke 18:35) This was not contradictory, for there was at least one such man.

Matthew 10:5

Why did Jesus instruct his followers, as recorded at Acts 1:8, to preach in Samaria, since earlier (Matt. 10:5, 6) he had told them not to preach to the Samaritans? When sending his twelve apostles out on a limited preaching tour, Jesus told them: “Do not go off into the road of the nations, and do not enter into a Samaritan city; but, instead, go continually to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matt. 10:5, 6) That Jesus did not forbid all preaching to the Samaritans can be seen by his own words and actions. In one of his parables he showed that the Jews should consider the Samaritans as neighbors. (Luke 10:29-37) Once Christ healed ten men, one of whom was a Samaritan, and Jesus commended that man for being the only one of the ten who expressed gratitude. (Luke 17:11-19) Also, Jesus preached to a Samaritan woman at the well of Sychar and later also to others in that Samaritan city.—John 4:443. Consequently, Jesus’ order at Matthew 10:5, 6 must be understood as a restriction that applied particularly to that time and occasion. By what Christ said about “the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” it seems evident that he was emphasizing the importance of taking the message to the Jews first, giving them the first opportunity. So, on their preaching tour the apostles were to concentrate on the Jews, not attempting at this time to preach to all peoples and nations. Surely the six pairs of men would have more than enough to do during their relatively brief tour even with their territory restricted to the cities and villages of the Jews. – Mark 6:7. The situation was quite different when Jesus said what he did as recorded at Acts 1:8. He was, in effect, giving his followers some parting instructions that indicated the worldwide preaching work to be accomplished. Just before ascending to heaven he said: “You will be witnesses of me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the most distant part of the earth.” And that is just the way it worked out. Due to persecution the Christian disciples were scattered, and as a result their message was preached in Samaria. – Acts 8:1-17.

Matthew 12:30
How can we harmonize Matthew 12:30 with Mark 9:39, 40? The latter has been used to argue in favor of all the various religions that preach in Jesus’ name. Mark 9:39, 40 is harmonious with Matthew 12:30, of course. In Matthew 12 the Pharisees displayed themselves as not being on Jesus’ side because of their false accusations, and so Jesus said to them: “He that is not on my side is against me, and he that does not gather with me scatters.” (Matt. 12:30, NW) The Pharisees were against him and were scattering Israelites away from him. But in Mark 9 the man involved was a fellow Israelite who was not falsifying about Jesus but who believed in the power of his name and was using it to cast out demons. The fact that he succeeded showed Jehovah God, Jesus’ Father, did not disapprove or leave the man in the lurch. So how could Jesus object? The record shows that he did not: “John said to him: ‘Teacher, we saw a certain man expelling demons by the use of your name and we tried to prevent him, because he was not accompanying us.’ But Jesus said: ‘Do not try to prevent him, for there is no one that will do a powerful work on the basis of my name that will quickly be able to revile me; for he that is not against us is for us.’”—Mark 9:38-40, NW. Not all believers in Jesus followed him along with the twelve apostles. Some who wanted to follow Jesus were told to go back home and bear witness to him there. (Mark 5:18-20) Hence it was not necessary for this man to bodily follow Jesus to be on his side. There were only two sides in this controversy, either for or against Jesus, and since he was not against him he was for Jesus. From Pentecost and the outpouring of the spirit on the faithful it would be necessary for this man to associate himself with the congregation of Christians in order to receive the spirit and be approved of God for not being against Jesus. It is different with the religious systems that now preach in Jesus’ name. It cannot be said that all these are not against him for that reason, for they are against Jehovah’s faithful witnesses who do preach Jesus and his kingdom. So as they are against the least of these his brothers, they are against him and their mere use of Jesus’ name does not gain favorable recognition of them as true followers. Matthew 7:20-23 (NW) applies to them: “Really, then, by their fruits you will recognize those men. Not everyone saying to me, ‘Master, Master,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my

Father who is in the heavens will. Many will say to me in that day: ‘Master, Master, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’ And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew you at all. Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness.”

Matthew 17:1
Matthew says that the transfiguration took place six days after Jesus told his disciples that ‘some of the would not taste death’. However, Luke states that this occurred eight days later. How is this possible? The promise was fulfilled “six days later” when Peter, James, and John accompanied Jesus into “a lofty mountain” (Mt 17:1; Mr 9:2; Lu 9:28) where, while praying, Jesus was transfigured before them. Lukes account however, apparently includes the day of the promise and that of the fulfillment, making it eight days later.

Matthew 17:12
When Jewish religionists asked John the Baptist if he was Elijah he said, “I am not.” But Jesus told his disciples that John was Elijah. Why the disagreement? The record of John’s reply is found at John 1:19-21 (NW): “Now this is the witness of John when the Jews sent forth priests and Levites from Jerusalem to him to ask him: ‘Who are you?’ And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed: ‘I am not the Christ.’ And they asked him: ‘What, then? Are you Elijah?’ And he said: ‘I am not.’” Over two years later Jesus said just the opposite: “The disciples put the question to him: ‘Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ In reply he said: ‘Elijah, indeed, is coming and will restore all things. However, I say to you that Elijah has already come and they did not recognize him but did with him the things they wanted. In this way also the Son of man is destined to suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples perceived that he spoke to them about John the Baptist.” – Matt. 17:10-13, NW. The Jews questioning John thought that Elijah would be resurrected to return and fulfill Malachi’s prophecy that Elijah would come and do a preparatory work before the arrival of “the great and terrible day of Jehovah.” (Mal. 4:5, 6, AS) But John was no resurrected Elijah; so he correctly denied that he was Elijah. But when Jesus said that “Elijah has already come” and the “disciples perceived that he spoke to them about John the Baptist,” Jesus knew that Malachi’s prophecy did not mean Elijah himself would come again, but that one like Elijah would come to do a work similar to that done by Elijah, a work of turning sincere Israelites to true repentance. Jesus knew that before John’s birth it was foretold that “he will be filled with holy spirit right from his mother’s womb, and many of the sons of Israel will he turn back to Jehovah their God. Also he will go before him with Elijah’s spirit and power, to turn back the hearts of fathers to children and the disobedient ones to the practical wisdom of righteous ones, to get ready for Jehovah a prepared people.”—Luke 1:15-17, NW. Thus John was to fulfill Malachi’s prophecy, and he did, and therefore he was the Elijah to come according to that prophecy. So Jesus gave the correct answer. But in view of the fact that the Jews who questioned John had in mind a resurrected Elijah, John was also correct in denying he was the prophet in that sense.

Matthew 20:20
f Matthew reports that the mother of James and John approached Jesus about giving her sons the favoured position when he got into his Kingdom, how can Marks parallel account say that it was actually James and John themselves who asked this of Jesus?

Here is a similar example. At Matthew 20:20, 21, we read: “The mother of the sons of Zebedee approached [Jesus] with her sons, doing obeisance and asking for something from him.” What she asked was that her sons should have the most favoured position when Jesus came into his Kingdom. In Mark’s account of this same event, we read: “James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, stepped up to [Jesus] and said to him: ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever it is we ask you for.’” (Mark 10:35-37) Was it the two sons of Zebedee, or was it their mother, who made the request of Jesus? Clearly, it was the two sons of Zebedee who made the request, as Mark states. But they made it through their mother. She was their spokesperson. This is supported by Matthew’s report that when the other apostles heard what the mother of the sons of Zebedee had done, they became indignant, not at the mother, but “at the two brothers.” – Matthew 20:24. Have you ever heard two people describe an event that they both witnessed? If so, did you notice that each person emphasized details that impressed him? One may have left out things that the other included. Both, however, were telling the truth. It is the same with the four Gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry, as well as with other historical events reported by more than one Bible writer. Each writer wrote accurate information even when one retained details that another omitted. By considering all the accounts, a fuller understanding of what happened can be gained. Such variations prove that the Bible accounts are independent. And their essential harmony proves that they are true.

Matthew 20:29
Matthew 20:29 and Mark 10:46 speak of Jesus healing the blind beggar Bartimaeus as Jesus was leaving Jericho, but Luke 18:35 reports the event as Jesus was entering Jericho. How can this contradiction be explained? In Matthew it says that this healing took place as Christ left Jericho, whereas in Luke the indication is that it took place on the way into Jericho. Some have suggested that these were two different events, and that is a possibility. Archaeology, however, has thrown additional light on this apparent discrepancy. Early in the twentieth century A.D. excavations were made at Jericho by Ernest Sellin of the German Oriental Society (1907-1909). The excavations showed that the Jericho of Jesus’ time was a double city. The old Jewish city was about a mile away from the Roman city. In the light of this evidence, it is possible that Matthew is speaking of the Jewish city which Christ had left, whereas Luke is speaking of the Roman, at which Christ had not yet arrived. Thus, on his way from the old to the new city, Christ met and healed the blind Bartimaeus. Therefore, if these three passages in Matthew, Mark, and Luke refer to the same event, there is not any contradiction; and if they refer to different healings, there of course would be no contradiction.”

Matthew 20:30
Matthew spoke of two blind men being healed by Jesus, while Mark and Luke mention only one. (Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 10:46; Luke 18:35) Who was correct? Matthew’s account is not contradictory. He is simply being more specific as to the number, while Mark and Luke focus on the one man to whom Jesus directed his conversation.

Matthew 26:25
Why does Matthew 26:65 say that the high priest ripped his outer garments in response to Jesus alleged blasphemy when Marks account says it was the inner garments that were ripped?

The Greek word hi·ma'ti·on means outergarment while khi·ton' is the word used in the Greek for undergarment or innergarment. Both these words may have been used at times interchangeably to mean “garment” as indicated in the accounts of Jesus’ trial by Matthew and Mark. The high priest ripped his clothing to demonstrate forcibly his sanctimoniously assumed horror and indignation. Matthew uses the word hi·ma'ti·on here, while Mark uses khi·ton'. (Mt 26:65; Mr 14:63) Or it is possible that in his fervor he ripped one garment, then another.

Matthew 27:5
How did Judas Iscariot die? Matthew 27:5 states that Judas hanged himself, whereas Acts 1:18 says that “pitching head foremost he noisily burst in his midst and all his intestines were poured out.” While Matthew seems to deal with the mode of the attempted suicide, Acts describes the results. Judas apparently tied a rope to the branch of a tree, put a noose around his neck, and tried to hang himself by jumping off a cliff. It seems that either the rope or the tree limb broke so that he plunged downward and burst open on the rocks below. The topography around Jerusalem makes such a conclusion reasonable.

Matthew 27:7
Matthew 27:7 reports that it was the chief priests that bought the potters field, but at Acts 1:18 it is said that Judas Iscariot purchased it. How is this so? Related to Jesus death is the question of who bought the burial field with the 30 pieces of silver. According to Matthew 27:6, 7, the chief priests decided they could not put the money in the sacred treasury so they used it to buy the field. The account in Acts 1:18, 19, speaking about Judas, says: “This very man, therefore, purchased a field with the wages for unrighteousness.” The answer seems to be that the priests purchased the field, but since Judas provided the money, it could be credited to him. Dr. A. Edersheim pointed out: “It was not lawful to take into the Temple-treasury, for the purchase of sacred things, money that had been unlawfully gained. In such cases the Jewish Law provided that the money was to be restored to the donor, and, if he insisted on giving it, that he should be induced to spend it for something for the public weal [wellbeing]. . . . By a fiction of law the money was still considered to be Judas’, and to have been applied by him in the purchase of the well-known ‘potter’s field.’” (The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, 1906, Vol. II, p. 575) This purchase worked to fulfill the prophecy at Zechariah 11:13.

Matthew 27:9
Why does Matthew 27:9 attribute the words about the thirty silver pieces for Jesus’ betrayal to the prophet Jeremiah, when, actually, Zechariah recorded the words, at Zechariah chapter 11 verse 12 of his prophecy? The name Jeremiah is omitted in some later manuscripts. Some say it was a copyist’s error. Others say it was just a slip on Matthew’s part, saying Jeremiah when he meant Zechariah. None of these explanations seem adequate. We may view as correct the New World Translation’s rendering of Matthew 27:9, 10: “Then what was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled, saying: ‘And they took the thirty silver pieces, the price upon the man that was priced, the one on whom some of the sons of Israel set a price, and they gave them for the potter’s field, according to what Jehovah had commanded me.’” A more probable explanation is this. The order of the prophetic books, as received by the Jews in Matthew’s time, was Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah and the twelve minor prophets. It is so found in the Babylonian Talmud, also at present in the manuscripts of the French and German

Jews. The Jewish Encyclopedia, under “Bible Canon,” shows that at one time Jeremiah preceded Ezekiel and Isaiah in the listing of the prophets and that it was later that Isaiah went ahead of Jeremiah. So in Matthew’s time Jeremiah stood first in the listing of the prophets, and since it was the practice of those times to call an entire division of the Bible by the name of the first book in that division, Matthew could say Jeremiah and mean the division that it headed, and which division included the book of Zechariah. Jesus showed that this was the practice, to call an entire division by the first book in that division, when he said, at Luke 24:44 (NW): “All the things written in the law of Moses and in the Prophets and Psalms about me must be fulfilled.” When he said Psalms he did not mean just that one book, but all the writings or Hagiographa, of which collection or division Psalms was the first book. And when Jesus said the Prophets he meant that entire division, but sometimes they used the name of the first book in that division to mean the whole section, and then the section would be called just Jeremiah. So in this sense Matthew could refer to Jeremiah and yet mean Zechariah’s words, since Zechariah’s prophecy was in the division that opened with the book of Jeremiah.

Matthew 27:28
What colour was the garment Jesus wore on the day of his death? According to Mark (15:17) and John (19:2), the soldiers put a purple garment on Jesus. But Matthew (27:28) called it “a scarlet cloak,” emphasizing its redness. Since purple is any color having components of both red and blue, Mark and John agree that the cloak had a red hue. Light reflection and background could have given different casts to the garment, and the Gospel writers mentioned the color that was strongest to them or to those from whom they got their information. The minor variation shows the individuality of the writers and proves that there was no collusion.

Matthew 27:35
At Jesus’ impalement, which garment or garments did the soldiers distribute by casting lots? This question is based on an apparent discrepancy between Matthew’s account and what John says occurred on this occasion. First, Matthew wrote: “When they had impaled him they distributed his outer garments by casting lots.” (Matthew 27:35) Mark presented essentially the same information. (Mark 15:24) However, John wrote: “Now when the soldiers had impaled Jesus, they took his outer garments and made four parts, for each soldier a part, and the inner garment. But the inner garment was without a seam . . . Therefore they said to one another: ‘Let us not tear it, but let us determine by lots over it whose it will be.’ This was that the scripture might be fulfilled: ‘They apportioned my outer garments among themselves, and upon my apparel they cast lots.’ And so the soldiers really did these things.” – John 19:23, 24. From John’s eyewitness account we learn that Jesus had outer garments and an inner garment. John 19:23 informs us that the soldiers made four parts out of his outer garments, each taking a piece; however, John does not tell us how they decided who would get what piece. Finally, John 19:24 reveals that the soldiers cast lots over Jesus’ one-piece inner garment. The account in Matthew 27:35 does not disclaim the fact that Jesus had an inner garment; nor does it contradict the fact that lots were cast over it. Matthew simply does not mention this particular garment. Rather, he provides details about Jesus’ outer garments, which John says were made into four parts, Matthew adding that they were also distributed by the casting of lots. By taking into consideration the two Gospels, Matthew and John, we can see that the soldiers cast lots over both the outer garments and the inner one. Instead of contradiction, we have two accounts written by different persons, each providing details that the other does not

include, and yet neither one contradicting the other. And, as the later account written by John points out, the casting of lots for the Messiah’s apparel served to fulfill Psalm 22:18. We can draw this correct conclusion from reading either of the inspired books.

Matthew 27:44
The account in Matthew 27:44 says that both thieves ridiculed Jesus. Yet Luke 23:39-40 tells of one scoffing and the other defending Jesus. How can this be? A possible explanation would be that at the start both taunted Jesus, but that as time passed one of the thieves noted what was happening and observed how Jesus patiently endured injustice and cruelty. During these passing hours this thief might easily have changed his mind about Jesus, and, though scoffing at first, as Matthew notes, later championed Jesus, as Luke relates.

Matthew 27:49
Matthews account of Jesus’ death indicates that he was still alive when he was pierced in the side. However John plainly states that he was dead. How can this be? Though John’s account at John 19:31-37 is quite plain, the question posed might come up because of reading Matthew 27:49, 50. It says there: “But the rest of them said: ‘Let him be! Let us see whether Elijah comes to save him.’ Another man took a spear and pierced his side, and blood and water came out. Again Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and yielded up his breath.” The sentence put in italics is what causes the difficulty; it might lead one to conclude that Jesus was alive when speared. Many Bible translations, including The Jerusalem Bible in French and English, Elberfelder and Aschaffenburger in German, and Moderna, Valera and Nácar-Colunga in Spanish, omit that italicized sentence. Other translations include the words, but put them in brackets or provide an explanatory footnote. For example, in the original edition of the New World Translation a footnote explains that the sentence is contained in some important manuscripts, such as the Sinaitic and Vatican No. 1209, but not in others. Many scholars feel that a copyist mistakenly put in Matthew 27:49 words belonging at John 19:34. The Greek Scripture portion of the New World Translation is based primarily on the master text by Westcott and Hort. This respected master text contains the sentence in the main body at Matthew 27:49, but puts it in double brackets. In explanation it says that the sentence “must lie under strong presumption of having been introduced by scribes.” Possibly in the future we will have more manuscript evidence regarding Matthew 27:49. Nonetheless, it is evident from the plain presentation at John 19:31-37 that Jesus was already dead when he was speared. So the account in Matthew must be understood in the light of this. Matthew does not say exactly when the spearing of Jesus’ side took place; it simply lists it as one of the occurrences at the time of Jesus’ impalement. But John’s account does give clear indication of the time element. In view of this, one’s understanding of Matthew’s account must be influenced by what John wrote. When this is done, there is really no contradiction.

Mark 14:30
Mark quotes Jesus as saying: “Truly I say to you, You today, yes, this night, before a cock crows twice, even you will disown me three times.” Yet the other three gospel writers relate this account with a cock only crowing once. Is this a contradiction? This is evidently a matter of one writer giving a more detailed account than the others rather than being a contradiction. The incident involves Peter, and since Mark was his close

companion over a period of time and doubtless wrote his Gospel account with Peter’s aid or on the basis of his testimony, it is reasonable that Mark’s account would be the more detailed one. (At other times Matthew gave the more detailed description of certain events, as seen by a comparison of Mt 8:28 with Mr 5:2 and Lu 8:27, and of Mt 20:30 with Mr 10:46 and Lu 18:35.) So, while Mark quoted Jesus’ statement concerning the two cockcrowings, the other three writers mentioned only the second and last one, which provoked Peter’s giving way to tears; but by this they did not deny that there was an earlier cockcrowing.

Mark 15:25
Mark 15:25 states that Jesus was impaled at the third hour but John 19:14 indicates that by about the sixth hour Jesus’ final trial before Pilate was ending. How is this possible? Some have pointed to what appears to be a discrepancy between the statement at Mark 15:25, which says Jesus was impaled at “the third hour,” and that at John 19:14, which indicates that by “about the sixth hour” Jesus’ final trial before Pilate was just ending. John had access to Mark’s account, and he certainly could have repeated the time stated by Mark. Therefore John must have had a reason for stating the hour differently from Mark. Why the seeming discrepancy? A variety of suggestions have been offered. None of these satisfy all objections. We simply do not have enough information to explain with any certainty the reason for this difference between the accounts. Perhaps Mark’s or John’s reference to the hour was parenthetical, not in chronological order. Whatever the case, one thing is certain: Both writers were inspired by holy spirit. The synoptic Gospels clearly indicate that by the sixth hour, or 12 noon, Jesus had already been hanging on the stake long enough for the soldiers to cast lots over his garments and for the chief priests, the scribes, the soldiers, and other passersby to speak abusively of him. They also indicate that about 3:00 p.m. Jesus expired. (Mt 27:38-45; Mr 15:24-33; Lu 23:32-44) The truly important thing to remember is that Jesus died for our sins on Nisan 14, 33 C.E. – Mt 27:46-50; Mr 15:34-37; Lu 23:44-46.

Luke 24:50
Why is Luke 24:50 cited as proof of Jesus’ ascension into heaven and as a parallel to Acts 1:9-11 when some Bibles do not specify in this verse whether Jesus ascended into heaven or not ? True, a few of the old manuscripts do not contain the words “and began to be borne up to heaven,” but many others, such as the Alexandrine, the Vatican 1209 and the Codex Ephraemi, do contain these words. The verses in their entirety read: “But he led them out as far as Bethany [on the Mount of Olives], and he lifted up his hands and blessed them. As he was blessing them he was parted from them and began to be borne up to heaven.” The fact is, the scholars Westcott and Hort, who compiled one of the most authoritative Greek Bible texts, included the words as being in question in their text. And as has well been observed, the difference is “more easily explained as an omission from the Western than as an addition to the Oriental text.”

John 3:22
At John 3:22 we read that Jesus “did baptizing,” while just a little further on, at John 4:2, the record states that “Jesus himself did no baptizing.” How can this be? As the rest of the text indicates, it was Jesus’ disciples who performed the actual baptisms in his name and under his direction. This is similar to the case in which a businessman and his

secretary both can lay claim to writing a particular letter.

John 12:3
John 12:3 tells us that Mary greased Jesus feet with genuine nard but the accounts at Matthew 26:7 and Mark 14:3 report that it was on his head that she poured this same oil. How is this possible? Some critics complain that John contradicts Matthew and Mark in saying the perfume was poured on Jesus’ feet rather than on his head. (Mt 26:7; Mr 14:3; Joh 12:3) Commenting on Matthew 26:7, Albert Barnes says: “There is, however, no contradiction. She probably poured it both on his head and his feet. Matthew and Mark having recorded the former, John, who wrote his gospel in part to record events omitted by them, relates that the ointment was also poured on the feet of the Saviour. To pour ointment on the head was common. To pour it on the feet was an act of distinguished humility and attachment to the Saviour, and therefore deserved to be particularly recorded.” – Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament, 1974.

John 19:17
Who carried Jesus’ torture stake? John (19:17) said: “Bearing the torture stake for himself, [Jesus] went out to the so-called Skull Place, which is called Gol'go·tha in Hebrew.” But Matthew (27:32), Mark (15:21), and Luke (23:26) say that ‘as they were going out, Simon of Cyrene was impressed into service to bear the torture stake.’ Jesus bore his torture stake, as John stated. In his condensed account, however, John did not add the point that Simon was later impressed into service to carry the stake. Hence, the Gospel accounts harmonize in this regard.

Acts 7:2-4
How can we harmonize the accounts in Acts 7:2-4 and Genesis 11:31–12:4? The account in Acts indicates that it was while Abraham was in Mesopotamia that God commanded him: “Go out from your land and from your relatives and come on into the land I shall show you.” The Genesis account seems to indicate that this command was given to him in Haran following the death of his father Terah. The account in Acts makes it very clear that God’s command to Abraham to leave his home country and move into the land that God would show him was issued in Mesopotamia before he took up residence in Haran. This command is clearly the same one that is recorded in Genesis 12:1. The wording of the command here shows that Abraham was still in Ur of the Chaldeans, for God commands him: “Get out from your land and from your relatives,” and Haran, about 575 miles northwest of Ur, was not Abraham’s “land,” for it lay far outside Babylonia of that day. Hence Genesis 12:1-3 is not chronologically placed in the account and it is the command issued by Jehovah before Abraham ever moved out of Ur in Babylonia and which also resulted in Abraham’s further move at the death of Terah in Haran.

Acts 7:14
Why did Stephen, at Acts 7:14, say that there were 75 persons in Jacob’s household when they moved into Egypt, whereas Genesis 46:26 says that there were 66 and Genesis 46:27 mentions 70? There are various possible explanations. One is that Acts 7:14 is based on the Greek

Septuagint Version, and another is that Stephen included the wives of nine of Jacob’s sons. Let us first note what Stephen said, as recorded in Acts 7:14: “So Joseph sent out and called Jacob his father and all his relatives from that place, to the number of seventy-five souls.” With that in mind we can consider what the Genesis account says about Jacob’s family transferring to Egypt. Genesis 46:8 begins: “Now these are the names of Israel’s sons who came into Egypt: Jacob and his sons.” Then follows a list of Jacob’s descendants, including some of his greatgrandsons. The enumeration concludes: “All the souls who came to Jacob into Egypt were those who issued out of his upper thigh, aside from the wives of Jacob’s sons. All the souls were sixtysix. And Joseph’s sons who were born to him in Egypt were two souls. All the souls of the house of Jacob who came into Egypt were seventy.”—Genesis 46:26, 27. The list of 66 of Jacob’s offspring has been added up in various ways. Some scholars have included Judah’s sons Er and Onan as well as his grandsons Hezron and Hamul. (Genesis 46:12) Others have not counted Er and Onan, for they were already dead at the time of the move to Egypt. (Genesis 38:6-10) Some Bible students have counted Dinah, who apparently never married, or perhaps Eliab, Reuben’s son who is mentioned in Numbers 26:8. To the 66 descendants can be added Jacob as well as Joseph and his two sons (these final three not being part of the move to Egypt). This is how the total of 70 is reached. The disciple Stephen certainly would have known that the Hebrew text said that 66 of Jacob’s family moved to Egypt. Why, then, does Acts 7:14 present Stephen as using the figure 75? Some Bible commentators claim that Stephen may have based his remark on the Greek Septuagint translation of Genesis 46:27. That version gives the higher figure because in verse 20 it adds five names (three sons of Manasseh and Ephraim and two grandsons) not mentioned there in the Hebrew text. Or, if Stephen himself had in mind the Hebrew figure of 66, when Luke wrote the book of Acts in Greek he may have given the Septuagint figure, as that Greek translation was commonly used. But whether Stephen actually spoke of 75 or that figure sprang from the Greek version of Genesis 46:26, the number can be harmonized with the Hebrew figure of 66 by adding the wives of Jacob’s sons, which Genesis 46:26 specifically says were omitted. Why would only nine wives be counted? Of the 12 sons, Joseph’s wife would not be included, for she was an Egyptian and was not called there by Joseph. (Acts 7:13-15) And by the time of the move Judah’s wife had died. (Genesis 38:12) That would leave 10 wives at most. It is possible that Simeon’s Hebrew wife had died also, for his last son, Shaul, is described as “the son of a Canaanite woman.” (Genesis 46:10) Or the figure nine would have been correct if Benjamin, the youngest son, had not yet married when the family took up residence in Egypt. If this is so, Benjamin’s sons mentioned in Genesis 46:21 were born after the move but are listed because of the role they were to play in the tribe and the nation. (Compare Hebrews 7:9, 10.) Thus, if the wives of nine of Jacob’s sons are added to the subtotal of 66 mentioned at Genesis 46:26 in the Hebrew text, we have a total of 75, as the Septuagint says and as we read in Acts 7:14.

Acts 7:16
How can Acts 7:16, which ascribes to Abraham the purchase of a burial place in Shechem, be harmonized with Genesis 23:15-19? It might seem that there is a conflict, with Acts 7:16 saying Abraham bought a burial place in Shechem but Genesis 23:15-19 reporting that he purchased such a plot in Machpelah near Hebron. There are a number of possible explanations. Let us note some of the details. Soon after Abraham entered the Promised Land (1943 B.C.E.) he resided for a time in Shechem, which was in the northern area where Samaria was later built. (Gen. 12:6-8) When Abraham’s wife Sarah later died (1881 B.C.E.), he purchased as a burial place the field and cave of Machpelah, which was near Hebron to the south of Jerusalem. “Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah in front of Mamre, that is to say, Hebron, in the land of Canaan.” (Gen.

23:15-19) In time Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah and Leah were also buried there. – Gen. 25:9; 49:2932. Abraham’s grandson Jacob also dwelt for a while near Shechem, and he there purchased a tract of land and built an altar. (Gen. 33:18-20) When he was near death in Egypt, Jacob commanded his sons that he be buried, not in Shechem, but with his fathers in the plot that Abraham had purchased near Hebron. (Gen. 49:29-32; 50:12, 13) As to a burial in Shechem, Joshua 24:32 says that after the Israelites entered the Promised Land they buried Joseph’s bones “in Shechem in the tract of the field that Jacob had acquired,” which came to be in the territory of Joseph’s son Manasseh. With this history in mind, we can note Acts 7:15, 16. In his masterful defense the Christian disciple Stephen said: “Jacob went down into Egypt. And he deceased; and so did our forefathers, and they [the “forefathers”] were transferred to Shechem and were laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a price with silver money from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.” So it might appear that Stephen was saying that Abraham, rather than Jacob, purchased land in Shechem. Yet Genesis 23:17, 18 tells us that Abraham bought a burial place in Machpelah near Hebron. Certain scholars believe that in addition to the purchase of the plot of land in Hebron, Abraham could have also obtained the land in Shechem where Jehovah appeared to him and where he then built an altar. (Gen. 12:7) If so, then this may have been the same land that Genesis 33:18, 19 mentions Jacob as buying from those who controlled it at that time. This view would eliminate any seeming problem with Acts 7:16. Another approach is that Stephen may simply have been condensing two accounts, combining Abraham’s transaction at Genesis 23:15-19 and the purchase by Jacob mentioned at Genesis 33:18, 19. Giving some weight to this possibility is the fact that at Acts 7:7 Stephen evidently combined into one statement something God said to Abraham and something He said to Moses. (Gen. 15:14; Ex. 3:12) Thus Acts 7:16 may just be a condensed or elliptical statement that was sufficient for Stephen’s purpose, as was Acts 7:7. Another possible solution can be considered. Abraham was Jacob’s grandfather. So, even though Genesis 33:18, 19 says that Jacob purchased land at Shechem, Stephen could have ascribed the purchase to Abraham the patriarchal head. Giving credence to this are other instances in the Bible where the names of forefathers were applied to and used for the descendants. – Hos. 11:1, 3, 12; Matt. 2:15-18. Each one of these possibilities may be the solution to the seeming conflict between Acts 7:16 and Genesis 23:15-19. The fact that a number of plausible explanations are available emphasizes how unreasonable it would be for anyone today who does not have all the facts to conclude that Stephen was in error.

Acts 9:7
Why does Acts 9:7 speak of Paul’s travelling companions hearing a voice when Jesus blinded Paul but at Acts 22:9 we are told that these men did not hear a voice? Careful attention to the function of other parts of speech, such as to the cases of nouns, has led to the clearing up of apparent contradictions. For example, at Acts 9:7, in recounting the remarkable experience of Saul on the road to Damascus, a number of translations say that his travelling companions ‘heard the voice’ but did not see anyone. Then, at Acts 22:9, where Paul is relating this incident, the same translations read that although they saw the light, ‘they did not hear the voice.’ However, in the first reference, the Greek word for “voice” is in the genitive case, but in the second instance, it is in the accusative case, as it is at Acts 9:4. Why the difference? None is conveyed in the above translations into English, yet the Greek, by the change of case, indicates something different. The men heard literally “of the voice” but did not hear it the way Paul did, that is, hear the words and understand them. Thus, the New World Translation, noting the use of the genitive at Acts 9:7, reads that the men who were with him were “hearing, indeed, the sound of a voice, but not beholding any man.”

Acts 9:27
Acts 9:27 says that Barnabas took Paul to see the Apostles. However when Paul was reflecting on this account in Galatians 1:18-19 Paul says states that he only saw the Apostle Peter. How can these two accounts be harmonized? In Acts it states that when Paul arrived in Jerusalem and sought to associate with the disciples they were afraid of him, not having positive assurance of his conversion; “so Barnabas came to his aid and led him to the apostles,” detailing to them Paul’s conversion and his later Christian conduct in Damascus. (NW) In Galatians when Paul tells of going to Jerusalem, three years after returning to Damascus from a trip to Arabia, he says: “I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and I stayed with him for fifteen days. But I saw no one else of the apostles, only James the brother of the Lord.” (NW) The only one of the twelve apostles Paul saw on this trip to Jerusalem was Cephas, or Peter. Yet this does not contradict the fact that at this time Barnabas “led him to the apostles.” It does not say Barnabas led him to the twelve apostles, or the committee of twelve. Peter was the only one of the twelve Paul met then. Any other apostles he may have met there were merely envoys or sent-forth ones. In this sense James the brother of the Lord could be called an apostle, as Paul seems to call him.

Acts 16:3
How could Paul oppose circumcision in his letter to the Galatians, and yet have Timothy circumcised according to Acts 16:3? Some of the Christianized Jews were slow to relinquish adherence to the Mosaic Law. Those in Galatia were seeking to force Gentile converts to Christianity to comply with the Mosaic Law, and placed special emphasis on circumcision. They demanded it as a requirement of Gentile converts. Paul opposed the position that circumcision was a divine requirement, arguing that if one point of the Law must be kept all points should, and that if some points could be set aside all could. He opposed the looking to any part of the Law as essential for salvation, rejected the belief that Christians were obliged to conform to all or part of the Law. Not by Law, but by undeserved kindness were Christians to be declared righteous. “Neither circumcision is of any value nor is uncircumcision.” It is immaterial, no issue. (Gal. 5:2-6, NW) So for circumcision to be urged upon Gentile converts as a requirement of the Christian faith was wrong, and to submit to it for that reason would obligate one to keep all of the Law. This Paul opposed. Timothy’s case was different. “Paul expressed the desire for this man to go out with him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews that were in those places, for one and all knew that his father was a Greek.” (Acts 16:3, NW) Paul wanted to use him in missionary service, in territories where they would be in contact with many Jews not even in the truth, who viewed uncircumcised persons as dogs. So Paul circumcised him, not as a matter of faith or divine requirement, but only to prevent needless controversy and premature stumbling of Jews over an inconsequential matter. It was in harmony with Paul’s regular concessions to gain a favorable hearing for the truth: “To the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain Jews.” (1 Cor. 9:20, NW) Moreover, as we have seen, even some of the Christianized Jews stumbled over this point. So instead of permitting the irrelevant matter of circumcision to interfere with their preaching work and with their contact with the Jewish congregations, Paul circumcised Timothy. It was not a divine requirement, but a concession to remove a barrier that might stumble Jews slow to relinquish their ideas about the Law. It was not done to keep the Law on that point, as some Jews in Galatia insisted must be done by Gentiles. Actually, in Timothy’s case it was not fully a matter of a Gentile doing it, as it was in the Galatian controversies, for Timothy was half Jew. – Acts 16:1.

Ephesians 2:8-9

At Ephesians 2:8, 9, Paul says that Christians are saved by faith, not by works. He says: “You have been saved through faith . . . not owing to works.” James, however, insists on the importance of works. He writes: “As the body without spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” (James 2:26) How can these two statements be reconciled? Considering the context of Paul’s words, we find that one statement complements the other. The apostle Paul is referring to the efforts of the Jews to keep the Mosaic Law. They believed that if they kept the Law in all its details, they would be righteous. Paul pointed out that this was impossible. We can never become righteous—and thus deserve salvation—by our own works, for we are inherently sinful. We can only be saved by faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice.— Romans 5:18. James, however, adds the vital point that faith in itself is valueless if not supported by actions. A person who claims to have faith in Jesus should prove it by what he does. An inactive faith is a dead faith and will not lead to salvation. The apostle Paul was in full agreement with this, and he often mentions the kinds of works that Christians should engage in to demonstrate their faith. For example, to the Romans he wrote: “With the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.” Making a “public declaration”—sharing our faith with others—is vital for salvation. (Romans 10:10; see also 1 Corinthians 15:58; Ephesians 5:15, 21-33; 6:15; 1 Timothy 4:16; 2 Timothy 4:5; Hebrews 10:23-25.) No work, however, that a Christian can do, and certainly no effort to fulfill the Law of Moses, will earn him the right to everlasting life. This is “the gift God gives” to those who exercise faith. – Romans 6:23; John 3:16.

Hebrews 1:8-10
Why does Hebrews 1:10-12 quote Psalm 102:25-27 and apply it to the Son, when the psalm says that it is addressed to God? Because the Son is the one through whom God performed the creative works there described by the psalmist. (See Colossians 1:15, 16; Proverbs 8:22, 27-30.) It should be observed in Hebrews 1:5b that a quotation is made from 2 Samuel 7:14 and applied to the Son of God. Although that text had its first application to Solomon, the later application of it to Jesus Christ does not mean that Solomon and Jesus are the same. Jesus is “greater than Solomon” and carries out a work foreshadowed by Solomon.—Luke 11:31. The words of Psalm 102:25, 26 apply to Jehovah God, but the apostle Paul quotes them with reference to Jesus Christ. This is because God’s only-begotten Son was God’s personal Agent employed in creating the physical universe. Paul contrasts the Son’s permanence with that of the physical creation, which God, if he so designed, could ‘wrap up just as a cloak’ and set aside. – Heb 1:1, 2, 8, 10-12; compare 1Pe 2:3.

1 John 2:1
1 John 2:1 mentions a way to receive help after sinning yet other scriptures in the same book make it appear that there is no help if one sins. Is this just a problem that occurs through translation? The Greek has an unusual tense called the aorist, which refers to action that is punctiliar, or momentary. Verbs in the aorist may be rendered in a variety of ways, according to their context. One way in which it is used is to denote one act of a certain kind, though not related to any particular time. Such an example is found at 1 John 2:1, where many versions render the verb for “sin” so as to allow for a continuing course of sin, whereas the New World Translation reads, “commit a sin,” that is, a single act of sin. This conveys the correct meaning that if a Christian should commit an act of sin, he has Jesus Christ, who acts as an advocate, or helper, with the heavenly Father. Thus, 1 John 2:1 in no way contradicts but only contrasts with the condemnation of the ‘practice of sin’ found at 1 John 3:6-8 and 1 John 5:18.

1 John 4:18
1 John 4:18 tells us: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love throws fear outside.” But Peter wrote: “Have love for the whole association of brothers, be in fear of God.” (1 Peter 2:17) How can we harmonise these two verses? Both Peter and John were apostles who had learned directly from Jesus Christ himself. We can thus be confident that what they wrote does harmonise. As to the verses quoted above, the key is that the two apostles were speaking of different sorts of fear. Let us first consider Peter’s counsel. As the context shows, Peter was offering fellow Christians inspired advice on their attitude toward those in authority. Put another way, he was commenting on the proper view of subjection in certain realms. Thus, he advised Christians to be subject to men who held authoritative positions in human governments, such as kings or governors. (1 Peter 2:13, 14) Continuing, Peter wrote: “Honor men of all sorts, have love for the whole association of brothers, be in fear of God, have honor for the king.” – 1 Peter 2:17. Taken in context, it is clear that when Peter said that Christians should “be in fear of God,” he meant that we should have a deep, reverential respect for God, a fear to displease the highest authority. – Compare Hebrews 11:7. What about the apostle John’s comment? Earlier in 1 John chapter 4, the apostle dealt with the need to test “inspired expressions” such as come from false prophets. Those expressions certainly do not originate with Jehovah God; they come from or reflect the wicked world. In contrast, anointed Christians “originate with God.” (1 John 4:1-6) That being so, John urged: “Beloved ones, let us continue loving one another, because love is from God.” God took the initiative in showing love – he “sent forth his Son as a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:7-10) How should we respond? Clearly, we should remain in union with our loving God. We should not be in terror of him nor quake at the prospect of approaching him in prayer. Earlier John counseled: “If our hearts do not condemn us, we have freeness of speech toward God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we are observing his commandments.” (1 John 3:21, 22) Yes, a good conscience gives us the freedom to approach God without paralyzing or inhibiting fear. Out of love, we feel free to address, or approach, Jehovah in prayer. In this respect, “there is no fear in love.” Let us combine the two thoughts then. A Christian must always have a reverential fear of Jehovah, born of deep respect for his position, power, and justice. But we also love God as our Father and feel a closeness to him and a freeness to approach him. Rather than being inhibited by any terror of him, we trust that we can approach him, as a child feels open to approaching a loving parent. – James 4:8.

What should you think if you come across a Bible contradiction? Could It Be That: • • • • • You are unaware of certain historical facts or ancient customs? You have failed to take the context into consideration? You have overlooked the writer’s viewpoint? You are trying to reconcile mistaken religious ideas with what the Bible really says? You are using an inexact or outdated Bible translation?

Have you ever read two biographies about the same famous person? If so, have you noticed that these biographies will differ without being necessarily contradictory? Often, it is because of the writer’s personal impressions or the sources he has used. It also depends on what the author feels is important to relate in his presentation, the angle he is developing, and having the audience in mind for whom the work is intended. Thus, accounts written with Gentile readers in mind would differ from those for Jewish readers, who already understood and accepted certain facts. These are just a few examples of passages in the Bible that, without careful analysis, appear to contradict one another. But when carefully examined, keeping in mind the writer’s viewpoint and the context, they are not contradictions at all but simply passages that require additional research. Most people fail to put forth this necessary effort, however, finding it so much easier just to say: “The Bible contradicts itself.”

Why are there sometimes word differences when a New Testament writer quotes from the Old Testament?
In a number of cases the writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures evidently made use of the Greek Septuagint translation when quoting from the Hebrew Scriptures. At times the rendering of the Septuagint, as quoted by them, differs somewhat from the reading of the Hebrew Scriptures as now known (most translations today being based on the Hebrew Masoretic text dating back to about the tenth century C.E.). As an example, Paul’s quotation of Psalm 40:6 contains the expression “but you prepared a body for me,” an expression found in the Septuagint. (Heb 10:5, 6) The available Hebrew manuscripts of Psalm 40:6 have, in place of that expression, the words “these ears of mine you opened up.” Whether the original Hebrew text contained the phrase found in the Septuagint cannot be stated with certainty. Whatever the case, God’s spirit guided Paul in his quotation, and therefore these words have divine authorization. This does not mean that the entire Septuagint translation is to be viewed as inspired; but those portions quoted by the inspired Christian writers did become an integral part of God’s Word. In a few cases the quotations made by Paul and others differ from both the Hebrew and Greek texts as found in available manuscripts. The differences are minor, however, and upon examination are seen to be the result of paraphrasing, epitomizing, the use of synonymous terms, or the addition of explanatory words or phrases. Genesis 2:7, for instance, says “the man came to be a living soul,” whereas Paul in quoting this portion said: “It is even so written: ‘The first man Adam became a living soul.’” (1Co 15:45) His addition of the words “first” and “Adam” served to emphasize the contrast he was making between Adam and Christ. The insertion was fully in accord with the facts recorded in the Scriptures and in no way perverted the sense or content of the text quoted. Those to whom Paul wrote had copies (or translations) of the Hebrew Scriptures older than those we have today and could investigate his quotations, in a way similar to that of the people of Beroea. (Ac 17:10, 11) The inclusion of these writings in the canon of the Sacred Scriptures by the Christian congregation of the first century gives evidence of their acceptance of such quotations as part of the inspired Word of God. – Compare also Zec 13:7 with Mt 26:31.

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