#151. Does Yahweh dwell among the people, in the Temple OR not? (Ex 25:8, 29:45 vs Deut 12:11, 12:21; Acts 7:48)

“And they shall make me a holy place and I shall dwell among them.” (Ex 25:8; cf. Ex 29:45) One or the central and most important theological tenets of the Priestly theocracy was that Yahweh dwelt among the people, tented in the Tabernacle which was at the center of their camp. This theological conviction alone necessitated a strict ethical and ritual code that quickly expunged and expiated any impurities that cameRead More

#150. Are the poles of the Ark not to be removed OR are they? (Ex 25:15 vs Num 4:6)

Exodus 25-31, from the hand of the Priestly writer, is a detailed description of the components of the Tabernacle and all of its equipment and how they are to be constructed, which Moses receives from Yahweh while on Sinai. Likewise, Exodus 35-40 is a detailed account of the construction of the Tabernacle and all of its components per its descriptions. There are a few contradictions in these Priestly passages, but moreRead More

#148. Are sacrifices permitted before the Tabernacle, Altar, and Aaronid priesthood are established and consecrated OR are they not? (Ex 24:4-6 vs Ex 40; Lev 1-10)
#149. Is Moses allowed to perform sacrifices OR are only Aaron and his descendants? (Ex 24:4-6 vs Ex 29:1-9, 19:28-29, 40:12-16; Lev 1-9; Num 25:10-13)

We have now finished examining the contradictions in the Sinai traditions (#129-132, #134-135), and the Elohist’s law code (#137-138, #139-140, #141, #142, etc.) found in the book of Exodus. With the exception of JE material in Exodus 32-34, the remainder of the book of Exodus is from the Priestly source. And the book of Leviticus, our next stop, is also all from the pen of P. What we have seen thusRead More

#147. Who writes the laws and commandments on stone tablets: Moses OR Yahweh? (Ex 24:4, 34:28 vs Ex 24:12, 32:16, 34:1)

The traditions relating the giving of the law present both Moses and Yahweh writing them down on stone tablets. If we follow the composite text as it now stands, here is how the occurrences progress. Exodus 24:4 states that “Moses wrote all of Yahweh’s words.” Presumably we are to understand this in its context, that is that Moses wrote down both the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20 and the laws ofRead More

#146. Does Yahweh vindicate the guilty OR not? (Rom 3-4; Gal 3-5 vs Ex 23:7)

“For I shall not vindicate a guilty one!” (Ex 23:7) One of the many gaping theological contradictions between the Old and the New Testaments—between a culture and worldview which existed in the 1st half of the 1st millennium BC and one which existed in the 1st century AD—has to do with who Yahweh vindicates or accords righteousness to. As posted in an earlier entry (#6), Old Testament theology was constructed onRead More

#145. Are firstborn sons sacrificed to Yahweh OR are they redeemed? (Ex 22:28 vs Ex 13:2, 13:11-16, 34:19-20; Lev 27:26-27; Num 3:12-13, 3:40-59, 8:16-18, 18:15-18)

The Bible’s sacrificial theology mandates that the firstfruits of reproduction—whether of plants, animals, or humans—be sacrificed to Yahweh. “Consecrate every firstborn for me [Yahweh]. The first birth of every womb of the children of Israel, of a human and of an animal, is mine!” (Ex 13:2) This divine decree must be understood in the context of the Passover narrative. In other words, biblical scribes accredited the origin of sacrificing all firstbornRead More

#144. Is the reparation for stealing four or fivefold OR one and one-fifth fold? (Ex 21:37 vs Lev 5:24)

The Bible’s variant legal codes give 2 contradictory responses concerning how much reparation ought to be payed by a thief. Exodus 21:37 states that if a man should steal an ox or a sheep and slaughter it or sell it, he shall pay 5 oxen for the stolen ox, and 4 sheep for the stolen sheep. Later one at 22:3 we’re informed that if the stolen animal is still alive orRead More

#143. If someone strikes you do you seek retribution per the law OR offer the other cheek as well? (Ex 21:12-24 vs Matt 5:39)

One who strikes a man and he dies, he shall be put to death! (Ex 21:12) And if there be any injury, then you shall give a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, a burn for a burn, a wound for a wound, a hurt for a hurt! (Ex 21:24) The lex talionis—theRead More

#142. Can a murderer ransom his life through a monetary compensation? (Ex 21:30 vs Num 35:31)

All of the Pentateuch’s 3 law codes attest to the ancient custom of lex talionis, the law of retaliation—in this case, a life for a life. The law code in Exodus 21 lays out this penalty quite clearly. one who strikes a man and he dies shall be put to death! one who strikes his father or mother shall be put to death! one who steals a man and sells himRead More

#141. A manslayer may seek asylum at Yahweh’s altar OR not? (Ex 21:14 vs Ex 29:37; Lev 8; Num 4:13-15, etc.)

Whoever strikes a man and he dies, he shall be put to death. But the one who did not lie in wait, but God by happenstance conveyed it to his hand, I shall set a place for you that he shall flee to. But if a man will plot against his neighbor to kill him with treachery, him you shall take from my altar to die. (Ex 21:12-14) Ancient cultures typicallyRead More

#139. Are Hebrews permitted to have Hebrew slaves OR not? (Ex 21:2; Deut 15:12-18 vs Lev 25:39-43)
#140. How long should a Hebrew work for another Hebrew: for 6 years OR until the Jubilee? (Ex 21:2 vs Lev 25:40)

I suppose an entry about slavery is inline since the Bible’s stance toward it is variously represented by 3 different sources: the Elohist (Ex 21:12-6), the Deuteronomic (Deut 15:12-18), and the Priestly (Lev 25:39-55). The typical manner in which the slavery contradiction is articulated is to ask if Hebrew slavery was permitted or not—the 2 contradictory texts being Exodus 21:2 and Deuteronomy 15:12-18, which clearly speak of Hebrew slaves (i.e., toRead More

#137. Does Yahweh decree that his altars are to be built of earth OR his one altar of acacia wood plated with bronze, 5 cubits by 5 cubits? (Ex 20:24 vs Ex 27:1-2, 38:1-2)
#138. Are sacrifices to Yahweh permitted on any altar OR only the altar before the Tabernacle? (Ex 20:24 vs Lev 1-9, 17)

Today’s contradiction actually marks our first contradiction between the Pentateuch’s law codes. As it has come to be assembled, the Pentateuch contains three separate law codes: Exodus 20-23, Leviticus 17-27, and Deuteronomy 12-26. Each one of these law codes was written by a different author, in a different historical era, and to address the concerns and needs of different audiences. In general they share much in common, but there are also gapingRead More

#136. Are the sins of the parents reckoned on their children to the third and fourth generation OR are sins reckoned to each offender only? (Ex 20:5, 34:7; Deut 5:9 vs Deut 24:16; Jr 31:29-30; Ez 18:2-4)

The notion of hereditary guilt runs throughout the Bible and was a common characteristic of most ancient societies. Exodus 20:5, for example, claims from the mouth of Yahweh himself that he is a jealous god, “reckoning fathers’ sins upon sons, on the third and on the fourth generation.” This theology of inherited sin is duplicated in the Deuteronomic version of the Ten Commandments (Deut 5:9), and is prominent throughout the DeuteronomicRead More

#134. Which Ten Commandments: Ex 20:1-17 OR Ex 34:14-26?
#135. Did Yahweh write down the same Ten Commandments OR did he not? (Ex 34:1 vs Ex 20:1-17, 34:14-26)

Unknown to millions of so-called “readers” of the Bible, there are actually two different and quite unique accounts of the Ten Commandments. In fact, the only one that is specifically referred to in the text as “Yahweh’s 10 words” is the version least known! In the composite JEP text that we now have before us, these two once independent Ten Commandments traditions were brought together by a later editor to formRead More

#133. Who speaks the Ten Commandments to the people: Moses OR Yahweh? (Ex 19:25 vs Ex 20:1)

The storyline at the end of Exodus chapter 19 is disconnected to what is immediately presented at the opening of chapter 20. 19:25And Moses went down to the people and he said to them. 20:1And God spoke all these words: “I am Yahweh your god… You shall have no other gods before me.” What continues from here to verse 18 is the Ten Commandments. Verses 1-17 are an insert. The TenRead More

#129. Do the people agree to Yahweh’s words and commandments before OR after Yahweh gives them? (Ex 19:7 vs Ex 24:3, 24:7)
#130. Are the priest commanded to approach Yahweh OR are they not? (Ex 19:22 vs Ex 19:24, 24:1)
#131. Who ascends the mountain: Moses OR Moses and Aaron OR Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of Israel’s elders? (Ex 19:3, 19:19, 24:3, 32:3 vs Ex 19:24 vs Ex 24:1, 24:9)
#132. What mountain is ascended: Horeb OR Sinai? (Ex 24:13 vs Ex 19:18, 24:13, 34:2)

In its current form, Exodus 19-24 is a compilation of different traditions relating Moses’ or Moses and company’s ascent(s) and descent(s) to and fro Yahweh, the giving(s) of Yahweh’s commandments, Yahweh’s theophany(ies), and the ritual ceremonies ratifying Yahweh and Israel’s covenant—all of which are a byproduct of lengthy editorial processes, which in the end have created a composite narrative with some amusing internal inconsistencies. For example, in the text’s current narrativeRead More

#128. When does Moses’ father-in-law return to his land: before or after Sinai? (Ex 18:27 vs Num 10:29-30)

In the composite text that we now call “the Bible” there are two places in the narrative where Moses’ father-in-law returns to his land: Exodus 18:27 and Numbers 10:29-30, before and after Sinai respectively. In the same manner that we saw in the two previous entries (#125 & #127), these two stories are doublets. Both passages speak of Moses’ father-in-law’s departure back to his land. However, as we’ve already seen (#85)Read More

#127. The water from the rock at Meribah happens before OR after Sinai? (Ex 17:2-7 vs Num 20:2-13)

As we saw with the quail stories (#125), so too with the story about drawing water from a rock at Meribah. In other words, Exodus 17:2-7 and Numbers 20:2-13 are doublets. And we might surmise as we did with the quail stories, that the redactor preserved both versions by placing one before Sinai and the other after Sinai. Both versions of the story share identical themes: the people’s complaint that theyRead More

#126. Did the Israelites have meat to eat in the wilderness OR not? (Ex 12:38, 17:3, Lev 8-9; Num 32:1 vs Ex 16:2-3; Num 11:4-6)

Contradictory to the claims made in the quail stories (#125)—namely, that the people did not have any meat to eat and that they would have starved to death if they did not get some meat to eat—the same tradition tells us that they did indeed have a very large and sizable livestock with them. Exodus 12:38 records how the Israelites went up from Egypt with a large livestock. “And a mixedRead More

#125. When did Yahweh provide quails as meat for the Israelites: before OR after Sinai? (Ex 16:1-15 vs Num 11:4-35)

Many of the stories from the “murmuring” tradition (#124) were told in more than one textual tradition. In the present case, the story about the people’s desire for meat in the wilderness and Yahweh’s reluctant response to send quails is recorded in both the Elohist and Priestly traditions. When these textual traditions were later edited together, both versions of the story were preserved. In the composite text we call “the Bible,”Read More

#124. Were the Israelites rebellious and disobedient toward Yahweh throughout the wilderness period OR were they loyal and obedient? (Ex 14:11-12, 16:2-8, 17:1-7, 32:1-29; Num 11:1-6, 14:2-4, 16:13-14, 20:2-13, 21:4-5; Ps 78, 106 vs Hos 2:14-15; Jer 2:1-2)

Exodus 14:11-12 (#120-122) is the first in a series of passages belonging to the “murmuring” traditions associated with the wilderness period. These stories repeatedly depict this newly redeemed nation of Israelites as a bunch of faithless and rebellious grumblers who tested Yahweh on numerous occasions. In this tradition, we find stories about the Israelites complaining that they have nothing to drink and nothing to eat, to which Yahweh responds with indignationRead More

#123. Is Miriam Aaron’s sister only OR Aaron and Moses’ sister? (Ex 15:20, 4:14 vs Ex 7:20)

And Miriam, the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a drum in her hand, and all the women went behind her with drums and with dances. And Miriam sang to them: Sing to Yahweh for he triumphed! Horse and its rider he cast in the sea. This passage (Ex 15:20) identifies Miraim as Aaron’s sister only, and says nothing of Moses. It comes from the same source that defines Aaron and Moses’ relationshipRead More