#329. The Wilderness of Etham OR Shur (Num 33:8 vs Ex 15:22)

Numbers 33 seems to be an independent source which attempts to tally up the Wilderness itinerary from the time the Israelites leave Egypt to their arrival on the plains of Moab 40 years later (see Introduction to Numbers 33). Scholars attribute this composition to a later redactional layer from the Priestly source. Moreover, scholars contend that part of this redactional process included inserting itinerary verses into the narratives of Exodus andRead More

#327. Do the Israelites leave Egypt on the 15th day of the 1st month OR on the 14th day? (Num 33:3 vs Ex 12:14-19)
#328. Do the Israelites leave in full view of all of Egypt OR not? (Num 33:3 vs Ex 12:31-39)

Numbers 33:3’s summary of the Exodus event varies with the account in Exodus 12 on two points. First, within the Priestly tradition itself there seems to have been a discrepancy on the date assigned to the actual Exodus. Was it the 14th, that is Passover, or the 15th, that is the following day? Indeed this discrepancy may have actually been more of a discrepancy on calculating when day begins. So whileRead More

#326. Did Moses write down the Israelites’ itinerary by order of Yahweh OR not? (Num 33:2 vs Ex 15:22, 17:1; Num 11:1-3, 12:15, 13:26, 21:4, 21:18; Deut 1:1-2, 2:8, 10:6-7, etc.)

And Moses wrote down their route according to their points of departure by Yahweh’s word. (Num 33:2) Although there is no verse in the Torah that explicitly contradicts the claim made here in Numbers 33:2, there is nonetheless implicit support for drawing this claim into question by pinning it against other, and variant, itinerary traditions of the Torah that were also allegedly written by word of Yahweh, and which contradict and/orRead More

The Wilderness Itinerary from the Exodus to the Plains of Moab: An Introduction to Numbers 33

Numbers 33 displays the mark of a later tradition that was composed and inserted here in the narrative as a sort of summary to the Wilderness itinerary. It exhibits a number of stylistic features only found in the Priestly source and scholars assign it to a redactional layer by this Priestly tradition. Yet, as we shall see in the forthcoming contradictions, its itinerary is often at odds with the scattered itineraryRead More

#324. Did the Israelites completely destroy the cities of the kingdoms of Sihon and Og and all of Gilead OR not? (Num 32:16-17, 32:24; Deut 2:33-36, 3:3-6 vs Num 21:25, 32:26, 32:33)
#325. Did the Israelites completely annihilate all the indigenous of these lands OR not? (Num 21:32-35; Deut 2:33-36, 3:3-6 vs Num 32:17; Josh 13:13)

Not only are there variant traditions in the Torah that talk about when these Transjordanian territories were conquered and by whom (#317-318)—and even if there was a Transjordanian conquest (#282-285)—but there are also variant traditions describing what happened to the land’s cities and inhabitants. Were these cities utterly destroyed or did the Israelites simply “move in” to them? Likewise, were the inhabitants completely wiped out or were there still remnants of themRead More

#323. Did Moses give the children of Gad, Reuben, and the half tribe of Manasseh their Transjordanian possessions before the conquest of Canaan OR were Eleazar and Joshua to give it to them after the conquest? (Num 32:33; Deut 3:12; Josh 1:15, 13:8 vs Num 32:28-29)

This contradiction is rooted in variant textual traditions that were brought together during the Torah’s redaction. Not surprisingly, the only tradition that claims that these Transjordanian possessions will be assigned to the children of Reuben and Gad by Eleazar and Joshua after the conquest of Canaan is also the same tradition that assigns conditions to the granting of these possessions, which were discussed in the previous entry (#322)—the Priestly source. So the conditionsRead More

#322. What would have been the punishment for the children of Reuben and Gad if they had not crossed over the Jordan armed with the rest of Israel: sin OR a possession in Canaan rather than Transjordan? (Num 32:23 vs Num 32:32)

Numbers 32:23 and 32:30 introduce two very different types of punishments that the children of Reuben and Gad are to suffer if they refuse to crossover the Jordan armed with the rest of the Israelites and assist in the conquest of the land of Canaan. To some extent these difference can be minimized by looking at the two different addressees: in verse 23 Moses informs the Reubenites and Gadites that they will “sinRead More

#321. Is Caleb a Judahite OR Kenizzite? (Num 13:6, 34:19 vs Num 32:13; Josh 14:6)

The Torah bears witness to some conflicting and contradictory information concerning Caleb’s genealogy. Was he a Judahite or a Kenizzite? And why was there some confusion over Caleb’s genealogy? What was the relationship between the sons of Judah, a son of Jacob, and the sons of Kenaz (from which the Kenizzites emerge), a grandson of Esau (Gen 36:11). While scholars don’t have any clear answers to these questions, we might infer that this conflatingRead More

#319. Is Jair Manasseh’s son OR great-grandson? (Num 32:41; Deut 3:14 vs 1 Chr 2:22)
#320. Is Gilead a personal name OR a toponym? (Num 26:29-30, 36:1, 1 Chr 7:14-19 vs Num 32:39-42)

This contradiction could just as well have been titled: Two variant traditions on how to legitimate the possession of Gilead. If we compare the genealogies of Manasseh’s sons as portrayed in Num 26:29, 36:1, Josh 17:1, and 1 Chr 2:21-22 (P) with that of Num 32:39-42 (J) we notice some interesting discrepancies. Not surprisingly, these variant genealogies have their origins in two different traditions: the former list of passages come fromRead More

#317. Was Gilead conquered during the Transjordanian conquest OR during its allotment to the children of Machir?
#318. Who conquered Gilead: the Israelites OR the Machirites? (Num 21:31-35, 32:1-5; Deut 2:32-37, 3:4-10 vs Num 32:39-42)

Continuing from the previous entry (#315-316), there are other contradictions created in Numbers 32 when the Machirite tradition (Num 32:33-42) was appended onto the end of this chapter—a chapter that had up until this point not spoken of nor known about the allotment of land to the half-tribe of Manasseh, the children of Machir. Another new and contradictory element that this passage brings to the now composite text of the TorahRead More

#315. The regions of Jazer and Gilead are only allotted to the children of Reuben and Gad OR to the half tribe of Manasseh also? (Num 32:1-5, 32:28-29 vs Num 32:33-42; Deut 3:12-17; Josh 1:12-18, 13:8-33)
#316. Did Moses command the half-tribe of Manasseh to crossover the Jordan and battle the Canaanites in order to obtain their Transjordanian possession OR not? (Josh 1:12-18, 22:1-5 vs Num 32:1-32)

Numbers 32 continues where Numbers 21 left off—the allotment of the Transjordanian territories that had been conquered from Sihon and Og. And as noted in a previous contradiction (#313), all this takes place during the 11th month of the 40th and last year of the Wilderness period—that is according to P’s chronology that was imposed upon these stories by this later editor/redactor. At first, Numbers 32 presents the plea to possessRead More


This is wonderful! Thank you for all your hard work and I’ll be using you to further my studies! Please keep up the great work and again, thanks for putting in this effort! Ex Protestant

Supernova Kasprzak

I can’t believe you’re putting this level of effort into this. Is there a way to make money off this site or can you afford to give so much of your time? In any case, I’m glad for the resource. I’ll be sure to check out your new posts daily. 


Dr. DiMattei, excellent read, thank you for the time and energy put forward in your work, you have clarified and confirmed some of my own thoughts. . . but the quest for knowledge goes on.

Gene Simia

Dear Dr. DiMattei: My finding of your site might be considered a beacon in the night! I’ve been looking for someone with the scholarly acumen that you possess for sometime and it is proving itself successful in my continuing education. I look forward to engaging with you as you continue in your never ending search for truth and enlightenment.   


I have read about biblical history on Wikipedia. It is quite good but at times contradictory and sometimes not cogent. I have also read Richard Friedman’s book but it is a bit much for me. Steven, your essays are very readable, very cogent and I will spend time carefully reading them. Thank you for the time taken to publish this website.

Alfonso I

Dr. DiMattei and all of the participants on this blog: Thank you so much for helping me, a complete ignorant past Christianity, Mormonism, and the likes. My heart was telling me that there was much more to look for than what I had been taught; so I was trying Wikipedia, Google and suddenly I came across this blog. Please, for the benefit of the less learned, like in my case, continueRead More


Thank you very much for this site! I think its one of the best and most informative web pages about the topics of the historicity of the Bible and the documentary analysis! 

Justin Roether

Hello Dr. DiMattei and thank you so much for sharing your knowledge on the Bible. I have been all over your site reading articles today. . . The information you are sharing is both thought provoking and enlightening to me.

Eric Clancy

Thanks Steven, I’ve enjoyed reading your posts. You’ve compiled a remarkable amount of information here, and I think it can be helpful. I grew up in a Christian School/and Home, and I remember seeing some of the textual differences you elucidate here–and I often felt as if I was the only person in the room at my church actually “reading” the Bible, while everyone was reading “into” the text. . .Read More


This is fascinating. I’ve always been a margin marker and passage under-liner. This website has brought about many new notes and underlinings in my sweet old Bible. . . Thanks for this resource. I am certainly learning a lot and enjoying it every step of the way. 


Your website is very well written and an eye opener tome. Through it one is able to begin to make sense of the disjointedness of a large portion of the Old Testament.  

Andrew A.

I found this website only a few days ago and I must say the information here is truly amazing as well as mind boggling for me. I was a fundie for thirty years and at various times through those years tried to understand the Bible and study it. . . It’s only been within the last four months that I feel I’m finally realizing the truth about it. I only heardRead More

Elizabeth Strout

What blows my mind is how we NEVER noticed these things in our Bible reading plans as Christians. I grew up in a strictly Calvinist Evangelical environment, being taught – and believing – that the Bible is the inerrant, inspired word of God, and the Pentateuch came neatly to us as a whole penned by Moses. And getting these contradictions every day in my inbox (now a Muslim), I’m confounded thatRead More

Stephanie H.

This site is amazing. I was referred here by a friend. We both have recently “escaped” a religious cult. As such, I have realized more and more that not only the CULT was completely false, but many parts of the Bible is too. This site is great for bringing attention to that. I’m fascinated by the Documentary Hypothesis. It is truly the first thing that has made sense. Thank you!!


Brilliant site! Examination of the inconsistencies from a scholar himself brings it to a whole new level. My knowledge about the history of the Old Testament, its compilation have increased much after coming to your site. Thanks . Though the name of the site is contradictionsinbible I think it is more of a scholarly examination of Old Testament in general rather than contradictions per se.    


I just found out about this site recently, and I find it all fascinating. As a formerly religious person, I was taught that the Bible was completely harmonious and there were no contradictions in it at all! 


I want to say that this website has been absolutely invaluable to me. To have a single place where the bible is given its full respect as an ancient work yet critically and honestly examined, all the while providing clear, concise, and accurate reasoning on the passages. I just wanted to say thank you very much, this means a LOT to people like myself that people like you take the timeRead More

Micah Rowell

Dr. DiMattei, first off I want to say thank you for this blog. It is extremely refreshing to find such a detailed and substantiated examination of the Bible that doesn’t have an agenda behind it and only seeks to explain what is in it. 


Until a few weeks ago, I didn’t know ANYTHING about the P and J stuff or the interpretive frameworks. I can’t believe what I am learning. They don’t teach you this stuff in church! 


Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us so freely, and in such an accessible and well-written way. I’m an ex-evangelical Christian, who took my commitment very seriously and read and studied the book that was the basis of my faith. Eventually, I, like many others before me, concluded that the obvious and multiple inconsistencies in the Bible meant that it couldn’t be the word of a divine beingRead More

Robert Sinnige

You along with Bart Ehrman, Craig Allerts “A High View of Scripture”, and Friedman’s “Who Wrote The Bible”, have given me great insight on how and why the Bible came to be what it is. I appreciate your work very much.


I’m a little familiar with the documentary hypothesis and all the J P stuff. But you actually make it work. I mean what the different sources were up to is presented nicely. Thanks!


Dr. DiMattei, Thank you so much for putting this out there. I find it all fascinating and a bit overwhelming to tell the truth. Your presentation is reasonable and easy to follow, and so are your conclusions. I just don’t understand why haven’t we heard anything about this before? How come other scholars aren’t talking about this contradictions? And what if these are the words of different texts/individuals as you say?