Moses Retells His Story (Part 1)

Instead of posting contradictions for the book of Deuteronomy in my usual manner, I’ve decided first to post excerpts from a new project I’m working on that specifically treats the book of Deuteronomy, and then in my usual fashion to discuss the contradictions exhibited between Moses’ renarrations of past events/stories in Deuteronomy 1-11 and the earlier narrations of these same events/stories as found in Exodus and Numbers. This new book projectRead More

#351. After their stay at Horeb, did Yahweh command the Israelites to “Go! Possess the land” OR not? (Deut 1:6-8 vs Num 10:28-36)

Contradictions in the Bible is really a website devoted to textual criticism of the Bible, in particular to what scholars label as source-criticism, that is identifying the Bible’s different and often competing textual sources and assessing when they were written, by whom, to address what historical concerns, in relation to what other literary works, etc. Nearly all of the Bible’s contradictions, from minute narrative inconsistencies to larger theological and ideological agendasRead More

#350. After the conquering of Sihon and Og does Moses deliver his first speech OR does Moab hire Balaam, the Israelites commit apostasy at Baal Peor, Yahweh grants the priesthood to Phinehas, Moses and Eleazar take a second census, Yahweh gives laws for the sacrificial calendar, etc… (Deut 1:4-3:29 vs Num 22:1-36:13)

Deuteronomy’s Moses claims that he gives his first speech to the children of Israel, who are assembled before him on the plains of Moab, immediately after the conquest of the kingdoms of Sihon and Og. After he struck Sihon king of the Amorites who lived in Hesbon and Og king of Bashan who lived in Ashtaroth at Edrei on the opposite side of the Jordan in the land of Moab, MosesRead More

#349. Does the book of Deuteronomy contain “all the words” that Yahweh spoke to Moses across the Jordan OR not? (Deut 1:1-3 vs Ex 21-31, 34-40; all of Leviticus; Num 1-10, 15, 17:1-20:13, 28-31)


The book of Deuteronomy opens with this seemingly innocuous claim: These are the words which Moses spoke to all of Israel on the other side of the Jordan in the wilderness, in the plains before the Suph (sea), between Paran and Tophel and Laban and Hazeroth and Di-zahab (11 days from Horeb by way of mount Seir up to Kadesh-barnea). And it came to pass in the 40th year in theRead More

Introduction to Forthcoming Contradictions for Deuteronomy


We finally make it to the book of Deuteronomy—a book that in my view best exemplifies how later scribes, in this case the Deuteronomist, modified, rewrote, and even contradicted earlier tellings of Israel’s stories and traditions in an attempt to “up-date” these older traditions so that they better conformed with the religious and political views of their own historical circumstances. But don’t take my word on this matter. Rather, take theRead More

#348. A manslayer must remain in the city of refuge until he can stand trial OR until the current high priest dies? (Josh 20:6 vs Num 35:25)

This is the last entry for the book of Numbers. This contradiction continues the previous entries on the Torah’s variant asylum traditions (see Contradictions #345, #346, #347) and seems to be created by a spurious verse embedded in the Joshua passage. That is both the Priestly passage of Numbers 35 and the Priestly redactional work of Joshua 20 state that the murderer who murders another by mistake must remain in theRead More

#347. Does the murderer merely flee to a city of refuge OR must his case first be judged at the gate before admittance? (Deut 19:1-10 vs Num 35:9-18; Josh 20:1-6)

This entry follows the previous two entries (#345 & #346) on the Torah’s variant asylum traditions for murderers. It discusses, once again, a unique feature found only in the Deuteronomic tradition, or shall I say a unique silence or omission. No where does the Deuteronomic tradition (Deut 19:1-13) reference any legal proceedings associated with fleeing to, being admitted entrance in, and residing in a city of refuge. This version of theRead More

#346. Does Yahweh establish the cities of refuge for “every murderer” OR for only those who have killed another unintentionally? (Deut 19:4-12 vs Num 35:9-15; Josh 20:2-3)


Working from the previous entry (contradiction #345), the Torah, or Hexateuch to include the book of Joshua, speaks of the tradition of asylum in a number of different places. Arranged in roughly chronological order these are: Exodus 21:12-14 from the 9th-8th century Elohist tradition (see #345) Deuteronomy 4:41-43 & 19:1-13 from the 7th century Deuteronomic tradition Numbers 35: 9-28 from the 6th century Priestly tradition Joshua 20:1-9 which looks like aRead More

#345. A murderer may flee to one of Yahweh’s altars for asylum OR only to one of the cities of refuge (Ex 21:12-14 vs Num 35:11-34; Deut 19:1-13; Josh 20:1-9)?

Beersheba altar

“You shall make accessible to yourselves towns which will serve you as towns of asylum where a manslayer may flee, one who kills a human being inadvertently. These towns shall serve you as places of asylum from an avenger so the manslayer will not die until he stands before the congregation for judgment.” (Num 35:11-12) There are a number of traditions in the Torah that speak of a manslayer (that isRead More

#343. What were the borders of the land of Canaan promised to the patriarchs by Yahweh: from the brook of Egypt to the Euphrates OR from the Red Sea to the Euphrates OR from the Wilderness to Lebo-Hamath OR from Beersheba to Dan (Gen 15:18; Deut 1:7, 11:24; Josh 1:4 vs Ex 23:31 vs Num 34:1-12; Josh 13-19; Ezek 47:13-21 vs Judg 20:1; 1 Sam 3:20; 2 Sam 3:10, 17:11, etc.)?
#344. Did Yahweh promise Gilead and Transjordan as part of the promised land OR not (Deut 1-3, 34:1-3 vs Num 34:1-12; Ezek 47:13-20)?

num 34

The Bible as it has come down to us preserves a number of varying traditions concerning the size and border of the promised land. Said differently, throughout the roughly six centuries that defined the monarchy, Israel’s exile, and its post-exilic restoration, biblical scribes variously delimited Israel’s borders, often in idealized and utopian ways. This fact the biblical record bears witness to. And Yahweh spoke to Moses: “This is the land thatRead More