Sunday, June 15, 2014

(A Whole Bunch Of) Answers to Commonly Noted Biblical Discrepancies

Were plants or humans created first?
A. Plants (Gen. 1:12, 27)
B. Humans (Gen. 2:5-7)

Talmud – Plants created first on day three but didn't emerge from the ground until day six when humanity was created.
Ramban/Abarbanel – First plants created on day 3 and brought out fully from the ground by an act of God’s will but as of yet did not begin to regenerate through growth in their natural way until day 6 when the rain started.
Ibn Ezra – The grasses started growing already in the normal way from day 3 but the “siach” which he says is fruit trees, only started to fully emerge and grow the way they do now on day 6

**Note according to all opinions plants were CREATED first, and the later verse is coming to teach some detail or qualification in the order of full emergence into the way they are today.

When was the divine name Yahweh first revealed?
A. Before Noah (Gen. 4:1,26)
B. It was revealed to Moses at the Burning Bush (Ex. 15:2-3)

Exodus 6:2 indicates clearly that The “shem havayah” (Tetragrammaton) was revealed to Moses but NOT to the Patriarchs. However, one should not think that this excludes Adam. Clearly in Genesis 2:16 and 3:9 “Hashem Elokim” speaks to Adam. See Nefesh Hachaim Shar 1 Ch 15 who says that the level of Divine perception of Adam was equal to that of Moses. In another verse the Torah testifies that there was no one who had prophecy at the level of Moses (thus indicating that nevertheless in prophecy Moses surpassed Adam). The distinction between Adam and Moses was therefore subtle and slight. Both of them were above the Patriarchs.

Around how long did people live to in Noah's time?
A. 750 years (Gen. 5:25-32)
B. 120 years (Gen. 6:3) 

They were still living until about 750 but then at that time there was a decree that it should start to be 120 (ish)

How long did Noah's flood last?
A. 40 days and 40 nights (Gen. 7:17)
B. 375 days (Gen. 7:24, 8:14)

Genesis 7:11 the flood began when Noah was 600 yrs old on the 17th day of the 2nd month. There is discussion about the exact chronology of how long each stage was and how to read it into the verses. In Genesis 8:14 when Noah was 601 yrs old on the 27th day of the 2nd month the flood was then totally over and the earth was totally dry. Thus the correct answer is B though “the heavy rains and burst from the depths” was forty days and forty nights.

Were different languages spoken before the Tower of Babel?
A. Yes (Gen. 10:20)
B. No (Gen 11:1)

1) Torah Temima and Daas Zekeinim say that everyone knew and spoke Hebrew. In addition everyone had started to develop their own regional languages.
2) There are other sources that seem to indicate that in Genesis 10:20 the Torah was speaking  about the future split of languages. See Malbim
3) A third idea is that "lashon" indicates a form of dialect “tongue” as opposed to “safah” which according to scholars seems to be a more general term to define a national language.

Is it all right to marry your half-sister?
A. Yes (Gen. 20:11-12)
B. No (Lev. 18:9, 20:17)

The law is different for a non-Jew (and those living before the giving of the Torah) and for an Jew (after the giving of the Torah).

Is it all right to marry two women who are sisters?
A. Yes (Gen. 29:26-28)
B. No (Lev. 18:18)

There is an extensive discussion about how to view the Patriarchs since they had already taken on Jewish law (though voluntarily). Jacob seems to have been punished for marrying two sisters. Others say it was ok outside Israel but when he came into the land Rachel died etc.

To whom was Joseph sold into slavery to by his brothers?
A. Some Ishmaelites (Gen. 37:27-28)
B. Some Midianite merchants (Gen. 37:28, 36)

The Talmud says it was both.  He was sold more than once before getting to Egypt.

Has anyone seen God face to face and lived?
A. Jacob; Also: Moses, Nadab, Abihu, and 70 elders (Gen. 32:31; Ex. 24:9-11)
B. No (Ex. 33:20)

The verse regarding Jacob says he saw "elohim" face to face clearly a reference to an angel (which we see many times referred to as elohim).  By Moses, the Elders, Nadav and Avihu it doesn't say face to face. Therefore, as the verse in Exodus 33:20 testifies, the answer is quite clearly no. A person can not see YHVH face to face and live – not even Moses.

If a man sleeps with his daughter-in-law, should they both be killed for it?
A. No (Gen. 38:24-26)
B. Yes (Lev. 20:12)

Before the giving of the Torah and for non-Jews answer is yes. After the giving of the Torah for Jews answer is no.

Did Jacob know about Joseph's sons before he blessed them?
A. Yes (Gen. 48:5)
B. No (Gen. 48:8)

Quite clearly he knew about Joseph’s two sons before he blessed them as is written in 48:5. However, when he went to bless them he was old and could no longer see clearly (see 48:10). He thus saw there were two people in front of him but couldn't make out who was who. He thus asked Joseph "who are these" in 48:8.

After Moses broke the first set of Ten Commandments, were the commandments written on the second set the same as the ones written on the broken set?
A. Yes, they were the same (Ex. 34:1, Deu. 10:1)
B. No, the second set had ceremonial laws (Ex. 34:10-28)

There is no indication that these ceremonial laws were on the tablets though they were part of the “covenant”.

Did God give commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices during the flight from Egypt?
A. Yes (Ex. 20:24; Lev. 1:1-7:38; Jer. 33:17-18 [Hebrew Bible only])
B. No (Isa. 43:22-24; Jer. 7:21-23 [Hebrew and Greek Septuagint]; Amos 5:25-27)

Metzudos says context of verse in Isaiah 43 is talking about days of Achaz and not the Departure from Egypt. As regards the verse in Jeremiah, the Metzudos says it means that bringing sacrifices was not part of the basic foundation of the covenant but rather "kabalas ol malchus shamayim" (receiving the yolk of Heaven) was. However, bringing sacrifices was mentioned “as having the weight of any other individual mitzvah”.

Who were allowed to be priests?
A. Descendants of Aaron, with normal Levites acting as assistants (Num. 3:6-10, 16:8-10, 18:1-7)
B. Levites (Deu. 18:13)
C. Non-Levites like Samuel the Ephramite (1 Sam. 7:10)

Only sons of Aaron. Levites do have an accompanying part in the service though. Samuel only says that he “brought a sacrifice” not that he was a priest.

When was the priesthood granted to the descendants of Aaron?
A. After Moses presented the second set of Ten Commandments (Lev. 8:30)
B. After Phineas killed the Israelite who married a Midianite (Num. 25:10-13)

Leviticus 8:30. Phineas was not a priest based on the rules of Leviticus 8:30 but was uniquely grandfathered in after the incident of Cozbi and Zimri..

Was it against the law to marry your sister in David's time?
A. Yes (Lev. 18:11)
B. No (2 Sam. 13:13)

Marrying a sister is forbidden. Amnon and Tamar is a deeply misunderstood story. See the Talmud in Sanhedrin 21a. Tamar was born of Maachah before she converted. Thus Tamar was herself a convert. Amnon was born to Maachah after she had already convertedand thus he was a Jew. The prophet is refering to Amnon as her “brother” in a manner of speaking because that was the “perception” and even the expectation of how it should have been treated (though Amnon couldn't control himself). The event was a scandal in any event so there isn't really any difficulty from Leviticus.

Where were sacrifices to be held?
A. In one centralized place of worship (Deu. 12:4-7)
B. Anywhere (1 Sam. 7:10-11)

There was a time when "bamos" (personal alters) were forbidden and time of "heter bamos" when they were permitted.

Who seduced the Israelites into worshipping the Ba'al of Peor?
A. The Moabites (Num. 25:1-2)
B. The Midianites (Num 25:16-18; Num. 31:15-17)

It was the elders of Midian who gave the council to the Moabites to use their daughters in this way.

Did God give any of the Ammonites' land to any of the tribes of Israel?
A. No, it was meant for Lot's descendants (Deu. 2:19)
B. Yes, half of it went to the Gadites (Josh. 13:24-25)

This land was acquired through the rule of “Ammon Umoav tiharu b”Sichon” that is to say that King Sichon took these lands from Ammon and Moav first and thus there was no contradiction to the promise of those lands going to the descendants of Lot since the Jews got them from Sichon.

Will sons be punished for the sins of their fathers?
A. No (Deu. 24:16; 2 Kings 14:6; Ez. 18:14-20)
B. Yes (Lev. 26:39-42; Josh. 7:24-25; Isa. 14:21)

Only if they themselves continue to do the same misdeeds as their fathers.

Who conquered Debir?
A. Joshua (Josh. 10:38)
B. Othniel (Josh. 15:17)

Joshua conquered Devir as per 10:38.  Othniel conquered Kiriyas Sefer. Now, on the surface it seems strange because the verse says that Devir used to be called Kiriyas Sefer. However, the Talmud says that this verse is teaching that Othniel "conquered" the forgotten 3000 laws from Moses's time which were nicknamed Kiriyas Sefer.

Did Joshua conquer Jerusalem?
A. Yes (Josh. 12:10)
B. No (Josh. 15:63)

Joshua conquered it. However, due to the oath God made to Avimelech whose descendants held a tower in Jerusalem they couldn't conquer it in its entirety until the days of David. See Radak on Joshua 15:63.

Did Joshua conquer Gezer?
A. Yes (Josh. 12:12)
B. No (Josh. 16:10)

He conquered the territory and the inhabitants became “indentured workers” for the Jews, but they didn't eradicate them completely from the area (as with a few other places where they fell short of the expectations to rid the land of them).

Did King Saul know David before he fought Goliath?
A. Yes (1 Sam. 16:19)
B. No (1 Sam. 17:57-58)

Ralbag and Radak say clearly Saul knew him. The later verse is coming to teach that there was something new and deeper that Saul was now discovering in David that he had not known before.

Who killed Goliath?
A. David (1 Sam. 17:51)
B. Elhanan (2 Sam. 21:19)

David killed him. The later verse calls David by the name “Elchanan” and other nicknames - all for the sake of homiletical teachings about the event of the killing Goliath.

Did God want any Moabites entering his assembly?
A. No, even down the the 10th generation (Deu. 23:2-3)
B. David was descended from the Moabites and his sons became priests (Ruth 4:9-10,21-22; 2 Sam. 8:18)

The verse says that a Moavi (male) is forbidden and not Moavis (female). Ruth was a Moavis and thus permitted. It was only the males to tenth generation that were forbidden.

How many children did Saul's daughter Michal have?
A. None (2 Sam. 6:23)
B. Five (2 Sam. 21:8)

See the Talmud in Sanhedrin 19b.  Michal raised the 5 orphaned children of Merav. This teaches us that someone who raises the child of another is as if they bore them. Also, it isn't clear that Michal had no children of her own. She may have ahd but they died as punishment for her chastising David for dancing in front of the Ark. Or she didn’t have children before but one was born at her death.

Who told David to take a census of Israel and Judah?
A. God (2 Sam. 24:1)
B. Satan (1 Chron. 21:1)

See Radak on Samuel. He says that the Jews of the day had hidden sins and God wanted to punish them. He thus subtly placed the idea in the heart of David to count them in order that through an “unnecessary” counting the wrath of God could be aroused (as we know what happens when you unnecessarily count Jews). Thus in Chronicles it is called the Satan that gave the idea to David since it's the Satan who is God's messenger to meet out the punishment for transgression.

How many years of famine did David have to choose from?
A. 7 (2 Sam. 24:13)
B. 3 (1 Chron. 21:12)

Metzudos brings that there had already been 3 years and it would continue anyway until the next harvest. David’s choice was therefore 3  more years of famine (for a total of 7) or the 3 that had already passed plus punishment by sword (for 3 months) or blight (for three days)

Did King Saul ask God for help before he consulted a medium?
A. Yes (1 Sam. 27:5-7)
B. No (1 Chron. 10:13-14)

See Radak in Chronicles. Actually Saul asked God first but didn't repent properly and quickly turned to the necromancer thus equating that form of inquiry with inquiry of God. Thus the prophet equates it as if he didn't turn to God first.

How long did King Omri rule Israel?
A. 12 years (1 Kings 16:23)
B. 7 years, between King Asa's 31st and 38th year (1 Kings 16:29)

See Rashi there who explains that for the first five years of his rule he shared the power with Tivni so his rule was incomplete. He did however have 7 years of complete rulership.

Did King Asa of Judah remove the 'high places' of worship?
A. No (1 Kings 15:14)
B. Yes (2 Chron. 14:3)

The verse in Kings is talking about the alters that had once been built for the sake of heaven at the earlier time of when private alters were permitted).

Did King Jehoshaphat of Judah remove the 'high places'?
A. No (1 Kings 22:43)
B. Yes (2 Chron. 17:6)

Yes.  See the commentaries on Chronicles.

Did God ordain the massacre at Jezreel?
A. Yes (2 Kings 9:6-10; 2 Kings 10:30)
B. No (Hosea 1:4)

God ordained the massacre as per Kings. The verse in Hoshea is saying that now God plans to pay the reward for those who listened to him and carried out the massacre of Jezreel. See Metzudos.

How was King Ahaziah of Judah killed?
A. He was wounded on his chariot and died in Megiddo (2 Kings 9:27)
B. He was captured near Joram and put to death by Jehu (2 Chron. 22:9)

See Radak. The Talmud says that Yehu’s band shot arrows one of which hit Achaz and killed him on his chariot. The Radak adds that based on the verse in Chronicles this happened near Joram while being pursued by Jehu who was planning to capture him and put him to death. Actually it seems that the arrow that killed him was a “lucky shot” in that it was long range and the shooter didn't have it “aimed at him in the classic sense.”

How many years did King Jehoiakim of Judah reign?
A. 11 years (2 Kings 23:36)
B. 3 years (Daniel 1:1-2)

The verse in Daniel means during the third year of his rebellion which was the eleventh year of his rule.

How old was Jehoiachin when he became king of Judah?
A. 18 (2 Kings 24:8)
B. 8 (2 Chron. 36:9)

Jehoiachin was put into a position of second to the throne when he was 8 since there were people who favored someone else to succeed the throne. He actually became king 10 years later.

Who ruled Babylon after King Nebuchenezzar?
A. Evil-Marduk (2 Kings 25:27)
B. Belshazzar (Daniel 5:2)

See the Talmud in Megilla 11b.  Evil Merudah first then Belshatzar. Historians are in agreement on this point as well. The verse in Daniel is worded in a strange way.

Should you rejoice at the death of your enemy?
A. Yes (Psalms 58:10)
B. No (Proverbs 24:17)

The verse in Psalms is saying that the joy is in seeing the justice of God and the fulfillment of the promise that justice will be done in His world eventually. However, to actually rejoice in the misfortune of the wicked themselves as people is somegthing to avoid.

Where did King Antiochus Epiphanes of Syria die?
A. Somewhere between the Mediterranean Sea and Mt. Zion after a successful [but undocumented] campaign against Egypt (Daniel 11:42-45)
B. In Persia after hearing his armies had been put to flight in Judah (1 Maccabees 6:5,16)

Daniel is authoritative over Maccabees. 

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