#4. Is the origin of the Sabbath to be found in God’s rest on the 7th day OR the manner in which Yahweh gave rest to the Hebrews when they were slaves in Egypt? (Gen 2:2-3; Ex 20:8-11 vs Deut 5:12-15)

The origins of the Sabbath are obscure; there are no contemporary parallels in ancient Near Eastern practices. On the other hand, the Bible gives two contradictory accounts for its origin. Both Genesis 2:2-3 and Exodus 20:8-11 claim that its origin is because for six days Yahweh made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them, and he rested on the seventh day. On account of this, Yahweh blessed theRead More

#11. When was the name Yahweh first invoked: in the earliest generations of man OR not till Moses at Sinai? (Gen 4:26, 12:8, 13:4, 15:7, etc. vs Ex 6:2-3)

This is a contradiction that you won’t find listed on your average, nor above average, contradictions in the Bible website; in fact, I doubt you’ll find it anywhere but here! It, like many of the ones to come, is only perceivable to those who have carefully studied the theologies of the various biblical authors. In fact, this is one in my long-list of favorites, because we start to see what the biblicalRead More

#13. Does Yahweh regret and change his mind OR does he not? (Gen 6:6-7; Ex 32:13-14; 1 Sam 2:30-31, 15:35; Amos 7:3; Jon 3:10 vs Num 23:19; 1 Sam 15:29; Mal 3:6)

“And Yahweh regretted that he had made mankind on the earth and he was grieved to his heart” (Gen 6:6). We have already discussed the Yahwist’s anthropomorphic portrait of Yahweh [or if you’ve missed it see: Conflicting portraits of Israel’s deity], so there is nothing surprising in this characterization of the deity in this verse. The Hebrew word, nehem, in this passage describes a change of heart or mind, and isRead More

#27. Are Yahweh and El the same god OR different gods? (Gen 14:22, 17:1, 21:33; Ex 6:2-3; Ps 82:1 vs Deut 32:8-9; Ps 29:1, 89:6-8)

Recent archaeological, biblical, and extrabiblical research has led scholars working in the area of the origins of Israelite religion to assert rather boldly and confidently that the original god of Israel was in fact the Canaanite deity El.1 Just exactly how has this come about you ask? First, the name Israel is not a Yahwistic name. El is the name of the deity invoked in the name Israel, which translates: “May ElRead More

#32. 400 years of slavery in Egypt OR 430? (Gen 15:13 vs Ex 12:40)

The legendary time-span in which the Hebrews were slaves in Egypt is variously given. Genesis 15:13 states that it was 400 years, presented in the guise of prophecy from Yahweh’s own mouth. While in Exodus 12:40 the narrator states that it was 430 years. Not surprisingly, both of these passages belong to 2 different and once separate textual traditions which were later edited together. The account in Genesis is from theRead More

#63. Can a mortal see God face-to-face and live OR not? (Gen 16:13, 32:30; Ex 24:9-11, 33:11; Num 14:14; Deut 5:21, 34:10 vs Ex 33:20; John 1:18, 5:37; 1 Tim 6:16)

This is an oldie but a goodie as they say, and can be found on numerous other sites and throughout the literature. I will keep to my procedure of stressing that such contradictions are the result of an editorial process that brought together different textual traditions written over a period of 1,000 years, each expressing divergent and contradictory beliefs, worldviews, and theologies. In fact, contradictory traditions now preserved side-by-side in the Bible yieldRead More

#76. Was it 66 OR 70 OR 75 males from Jacob’s loins who came to Egypt? (Gen 46:26 vs Gen 46:27, Ex 1:5, Deut 10:22 vs Acts 7:14)

The passage in question is Genesis 46:8-27 which breaks from the narrative to offer yet another genealogy: “And these are the names of the children of Israel who came to Egypt…” We have seen elsewhere that such interest in genealogies, dates, and ages were evidence of the Priestly writer’s hand. Yet this passage also evidences editorial reworking, possibly even done by a scribal hand during the recopying of the manuscript. InRead More

#80. Were the children of Jacob given the land of Rameses to inhabit OR did they build it generations later? (Gen 47:11 vs Ex 1:11)

This is our last contradiction for the book of Genesis and it should be held in tandem with tomorrow’s #81, our first Exodus contradiction. The various textual traditions that we have been examining in Genesis—the Yahwist, Elohist, and Priestly—continue into the book of Exodus. The Yahwist source makes minor appearances in Exodus and when it does it often presents duplicate traditions to those narrated by the Elohist. The Elohist has aRead More

#81. When did the Exodus allegedly happen: during the reign of Rameses II (1279-1213 BC) OR in 1447 BC? (Ex 1:11 vs 1 Kgs 6:1)

In its present form, the book of Exodus is a composite of the Yahwist, Elohist, and Priestly sources. These biblical traditions, which record the story of the Israelites’ enslavement in and exodus from Egypt, maintain that the Israelites were oppressed by an unnamed Pharaoh, used as forced laborers in the Pharaoh’s building projects, and were subsequently liberated by Moses, under Yahweh’s guidance, with signs and wonders. Yet despite these traditions, historical specificsRead More

#82. How long were the Hebrews enslaved: 400 years OR a mere generation? (Gen 15:13 vs Ex1:6-12)

As I was typing up yesterday’s contradiction (#81), it dawned on me that the imposition of the later Priestly writer’s chronology onto the older JE sources was not the only visible discrepancy in the narrative’s chronology. It was also there in the older sources themselves. So we’ll backtrack a bit here and note one more Genesis-Exodus contradiction. In Genesis 15:13, Yahweh is presented as claiming/prophesying to Abraham that the Hebrews willRead More

#83. Does Egypt’s king command the Hebrew midwives to kill all male infants OR does Pharaoh command his people to drown them?
#84. Are all the male infants spared OR is only Moses? (Ex 1:15-21 vs Ex 1:22-2:10)

Exodus 1:15–2:10, the story of Pharaoh’s decree to put to death all male-born Hebrews, presents itself in its current form as: first, a failed attempt by Egypt’s king since the Hebrew midwives refuse to comply to the king’s demand, and thus all the newborn babes are spared (1:18); and second, a supposed reissue of the ordinance by Pharaoh to his people, this time specifying to drown the male infants, wherein weRead More

#85. Is Moses’ father-in-law Reuel OR Jethro OR Hobab? (Ex 2:18; Num 10:29 vs Ex 3:1 vs Judg 4:11)

There seems to be some confusion in the traditions preserving—or creating as the case may be—the name of Moses’ father-in-law, Zipporah’s father. The textual tradition identified as the Yahwist consistently refers to him as Reuel (Ex 2:18; Num 10:29), while the Elohist tradition uses the name Jethro (Ex 3:1, 3:18, 18:1-27). To further complicate issues, another source names Hobab as the father-in-law of Moses (Judg 4:11), and Num 10:29 refers toRead More

#86. Is the mount of revelation Horeb OR Sinai? (Ex 3:1, 17:6; Deut 1:6, 4:10, etc. vs Ex 19:11, 19:18, etc.; Lev 7:38, 26:46, etc.)

Variant textual traditions now preserved side-by-side in the Bible reference two different places or place-names where Yahweh revealed himself and his commandments to Moses—neither of which has been archeologically identified.1 Both the Elohist and the later Deuteronomist consistently refer to the place of revelation as Horeb or “the mountain of the god.” Contrary to the Elohist however, the Deuteronomist does not present the giving of the laws as happening at Horeb,Read More

#87. Does the god of the Hebrews reveal himself to Moses in Midian OR in Egypt? (Ex 3:1-15 vs Ex 6:2-3, 6:28-29; Ezek 20:5)

Did you know that the Bible recounts two different revelation scenes in the book of Exodus? That there are two different stories recounting the revelation of Yahweh, his person and his name, to Moses? Are you also aware that these two revelation scenes occur in two different geographical locations: in Midian and in Egypt? By now, you’re probably not surprised to hear that these two different accounts have been identified asRead More

#88. Does Yahweh command Moses to perform the signs before the elders of Israel OR before Pharaoh? (Ex 3:16, 4:1, 4:8 vs Ex 4:21)

The opening chapters of Exodus display narrative inconsistencies, doublets, differing styles and vocabulary, and indeed contradictions that have continuously led scholars to reaffirm the text’s composite nature. Having said that, it is difficult to assign with certainty some of these passages to the Elohist or Yahwist source. P remains clear; but since the Elohist now starts to use the divine name Yahweh, seeing that it has now been revealed, this featureRead More

#89. Does Moses demand a leave of three days from Pharaoh’s service in order to sacrifice to Yahweh OR an unconditional release? (Ex 3:18, 5:3, 8:23 vs Ex 6:6-8)

“And you will come, you and Israel’s elders, to the king of Egypt, and say to him: ‘Yahweh, god of the Hebrews happened upon us. And now, let us go on a trip of three days in the wilderness so we may sacrifice to Yahweh, our god’” (Ex 3:18). The theme of a petition to leave the king’s service for three days in order to sacrifice to Yahweh in the wilderness—anRead More

#90. Does Pharaoh choose not to let the Hebrews go OR does Yahweh harden his heart? (Ex 3:19, 7:13-14, 8:11-15, 9:35 vs Ex 4:22, 7:3, 9:12)

This is not necessarily a contradiction between sources, but rather a theological tension inherent in the Hebrew Bible itself. The question of agency with respect to a wrongdoing or sin is often presented in a dual manner. The present case is merely one example of that. Here, the plague narrative presents both Pharaoh as choosing not to let the Hebrews go and Yahweh as pulling his strings, so to speak, andRead More

#91. Moses’ staff OR Aaron’s staff OR God’s staff? (Ex 4:2, 7:15, 17:20, 9:23, 10:13 vs Ex 7:9-12, 7:19 vs Ex 4:20, )

Exodus 4:2, 7:15, 7:20, 9:23, and 10:13 all indicate that the staff or rod involved in producing Yahweh’s signs was Moses’ staff, perhaps even his personal shepherd’s staff. Indeed 4:2, which introduces the staff in the narrative, seems to imply that it was already on Moses’ person: “‘What’s this in your hand?’ ‘A staff.’” However, Ex 7:10, 7:12, 7:19, 8:1, and 8:12 refer to the same staff now as “Aaron’s staff”Read More

#92. Does the staff turn into a snake OR a serpent? (Ex 4:3 vs Ex 7:9-10)

Not only do the Elohist and Priestly sources disagree on whose staff we’re talking about: Moses’ or Aaron’s (#91), but they also use different terms when it comes to describing the serpent or snake it turns into. In E (4:3) the staff becomes a snake (nahash), but in P (7:10) it becomes a serpent (tannîn). Each author chose a different term, and the Priestly writer might have even had a reasonRead More

#93. Does Moses have a heavy mouth and tongue OR uncircumcised lips? (Ex 4:10 vs Ex 6:12, 6:30)

We have already seen in contradiction #91 how the later Priestly writer modified the tradition that he inherited so that it better suited his own ideology and legitimated his own priestly guild, while on the other hand denigrated that of the Levites, whose forefather was Moses. Yet nowhere is the Priestly writer’s bias against Moses more pronounced than in his rewriting of E’s Moses, who is literally “heavy of mouth andRead More

#94. Does Yahweh make a person blind, deaf, or dumb OR does Beelzebub (Ex 4:11 vs Mk 1:34, 3:22, 5:9-13; Matt 9:33, 12:22, etc.)

“Who makes a person dumb or deaf, gives sight or makes blind? Is it not I, Yahweh!” Exodus 4:11, like other Old Testament passages, expresses a theological tenet shared by many of the authors of the Hebrew Bible—namely that Yahweh is sovereign. Other examples of this theological perspective can be found elsewhere. Here are just a couple examples: “Should evil befall a city and Yahweh has not done it?” (Amos 3:6)Read More

#95. Is Aaron Moses’ brother Levite OR brother? (Ex 4:14 vs Ex 6:20, 7:1, 7:7; Num 26:59)

Exodus 4:14, usually identified as belonging to the Elohist source, labels Aaron as Moses’ Levite brother, that is, a fellow Levite. However, at Exodus 6:20, 7:1, and 7:7 Aaron is presented as Moses’ flesh and blood brother. In fact, Exodus 7:7 identifies Aaron as the older brother by 3 years! These passages fall in with other Priestly indicators and have been identified as part of the Priestly source. As we sawRead More

#96. Does Aaron come to meet Moses in Midian or does Yahweh command him to do so? (Ex 4:14 vs Ex 4:27)

Aaron appears on the scene from nowhere. In Exodus 4:14 the narrator tells us that he is coming to meet Moses, his Levite brother (#95), in Midian without having previously introduced the character of Aaron. We can only surmise: Did he too escape Pharaoh’s decree to kill all the firstborns (#83)? Yet Exodus 4:27 would seem to be a doublet, narrating a second time Aaron’s coming. Except now Aaron is commandedRead More

#97. Is Aaron commissioned before OR after Moses fails to convince Pharaoh? (Ex 4:14-16 vs Ex 5:4-5, 7:1-2)
#98. Is Aaron commissioned to help Moses address Israel OR address Pharaoh? (Ex 4:14-16, 4:27-31 vs Ex 7:1-2)

Another narrative discrepancy that occurs from the combination of our duplicate stories is the, now, doublet of Aaron’s commission. Since P’s story of the revelation of Yahweh and commission of Aaron (Ex 6:2-7:13) is placed after E’s version, where both the revelation of Yahweh and commission of Aaron have already been narrated (Ex 4:1-30), these events in the current version of the text happen twice. Aaron is therefore commissioned both beforeRead More

#99. Does Moses return to Egypt by asking Jethro’s leave OR is he commanded by Yahweh to return to Egypt? (Ex 4:18 vs Ex 4:19)

Exodus 4:18-20 seems to narrate Moses’ return to Egypt twice. Let’s look closely at the features of this passage. 18And Moses went back to Jethro, his father-in-law, and said to him, “Let me go so I may go back to my brothers who are in Egypt and see if they’re still living.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.” 19And Yahweh said to Moses in Midian, “Go! Go back toRead More

#100. Does Moses take his wife and son(s) with him on his return to Egypt OR do they stay behind in Midian? (Ex 4:19-20 vs Ex 18:4)
#101. Does Moses have one son OR two? (Ex 4:20 vs Ex 18:4)

One hundred days, one hundred contradictions. Booyah! I would have never known that April 10th is the 100th day of the year if it weren’t for this project. Picking up where we left off (#99), Exodus 4:20 informs us that Moses took with him on his return to Egypt his son(s) and his wife. Additionally, although the text as it now stands states that Moses took “his sons” there has onlyRead More

#102. Do the people believe and listen to Moses OR do they not? (Ex 4:29-31 vs Ex 6:9-12)

We have already seen how, and attempted to understand why, the later Priestly writer when rewriting the exodus story presented Moses as initially failing in his task (#91, #93, #97-98). Contradiction #102 continues from these observations. In one version of the story (E), Yahweh reveals himself to Moses in Midian at the burning bush and informs Moses that he has heard his people’s sufferings and has prepared to liberate them inRead More

#103. Does Aaron perform the rod-to-snake/serpent trick in front of the Israelites OR Pharaoh? (Ex 4:30 vs 7:10)

The beginning of the book of Exodus is marred with doublets, sometimes triplets—that is two unique versions of its various stories are presented, both of which most likely came from two, or three, once independent sources. Often these versions contradict one another in minor narrative details or in some cases larger theological claims. We have already seen many of these: 2 contradictory versions about the length of the captivity in EgyptRead More

#104. What is the first plague: the staff into serpent OR the waters into blood? (Ex 7:8-13 vs Ex 7:14-18)

Close readers of the Plague narrative (Exodus 7-9) have observed that it too seems to be a composite of, mainly, two different sources: the Priestly source and the Elohist. Each version stresses unique themes and accentuates different aspects of the story. We will see in #106 that Psalms 78 and 105 also preserve variant versions of the Plague signs and their order. Here, we are interested in the first sign, whichRead More

#105. Does Moses strike the Nile with his staff for the first plague OR does Aaron with his own staff? (Ex 7:15-18 vs Ex 7:19-20)

In the story related in Exodus 7:14-18, Yahweh commands Moses to take his staff, “the staff that was changed into a snake,” and to go to Pharaoh and say: “Here, I’m striking with the staff that’s in my hand on the waters that are in the Nile, and they’ll be changed into blood. And the fish that are in the Nile will die, and the Nile will stink, and Egypt willRead More

#106. What is the order and number of the plagues: water into blood, frogs, mosquitoes, horseflies, etc. OR some other order and number? (Ex 7-9 vs Ps 78:44-51, 105:27-36)

There are a number of different traditions in the Bible concerning the number and order of Yahweh’s signs and wonders when he brought the Israelites out of Egypt. The less obvious of these differences are those between the Elohist and Priestly versions which we have already encountered (#105). There are, however, a couple of variant traditions preserved in the Psalms, both of which exhibit differences in the number and sequence ofRead More

#107. “All the cattle died” OR the cattle are still alive? (Ex 9:6 vs Ex 9:18, 10:25, 11:5, 14:28, etc.)

The fifth plague falls upon the Egyptian livestock. Yahweh inflicts a heavy plague upon cattle, horses, sheep, goats, camels, and asses. “And Yahweh did this thing on the next day. And all Egypt’s cattle died” (9:6). Yet later on in the same narrative, there is mention of cattle. In 9:18-25 the text speaks of cattle being struck by Yahweh’s seventh deed, hail; in 10:25 it is implied that the Egyptians willRead More

#108. Moses never sees Pharaoh’s face again OR Moses does see Pharaoh again? (Ex 10:29 vs Ex 12:31-32)

There seems to be an inconsistency between Exodus 10:29 and Exodus 12:31-32. In the former passage Moses declares that he will never see Pharaoh’s face again; yet later on in the narrative he does indeed confront Pharaoh face to face once more, and for the last time. Scholars have been troubled by this passage because this contradiction, as in the case of the previous one (#107), is not the result ofRead More

#109. When does the slaughter of the firstborns and the Passover occur: on the eve of the day that Moses last speaks to Pharaoh OR 4 to 14 days later? (Ex 11:1-8 vs Ex 12:1-11)
# 110. When is the Passover animal chosen: on the very eve of the slaughter of all the Egyptian firstborns OR 4 days earlier? (Ex 12:21 vs Ex 12:1-11)

The 10th and final plague that Yahweh unleashes on the Egyptians is the death of all firstborns, livestock and humans—no exceptions. In fact, this decree not only goes out to the Egyptians, but to ALL humans in the land of Egypt. The Israelite firstborns are merely redeemed through an apotropaic blood ritual that keeps them protected from Yahweh’s Destroyer. “And the blood will be for you as a sign on theRead More

#111. Is only a small goat/sheep permissible as the sacrificial animal for the Passover OR are older cattle included as well? (Ex 12:3, 12:21 vs Deut 16:2)

Both Exodus 12:21, from the Elohist version of the Passover, and Exodus 12:3, from the Priestly writer (#109-110), state that the sacrificial animal of the Passover must come from the flock. The Hebrew denotes a small goat or sheep. The Priestly writer’s Passover legislation exhibits other differences as well. As would be expected from a text written by priests, at a later date, and to bring the Elohist Passover tradition inlineRead More

#112. Is the paschal animal to be roasted OR boiled? (Ex 12:8-9 vs Deut 16:7)

The Priestly Passover legislation of Exodus 12:1-11 not only stipulates the preparation of the sacrificial animal prior to its slaughter (#111), but also how it is to be cooked and eaten. “Do not eat any of it raw or cooked in water, but fire-roasted” (12:9). Yet this is not at all what is relayed in the Passover legislation found in Deuteronomy 16:1-8. There we are told that the paschal lamb or cattleRead More

#113. When does the festival of Unleavened Bread begin: on the 14th OR the 15th? (Ex 12:18 vs Lev 23:6; Num 28:17)

There are several different festival calendars in the Pentateuch, and each one originally belonged to a different textual tradition: Ex 23:14-19 (E); Ex 34:18-23 (J); Deut 16:1-17 (D); and Lev 23 and Num 28-29 (P). When compared against each other, one notices minor differences in festival names, their dates of celebration, and even the place where they were to be celebrated. We will look at these contradictions at a later date. Presently, we are onlyRead More

#114. Are the Israelites forbidden to leave their houses during the night of the Passover OR do they leave their houses? (Ex 12:22 vs Ex 12:31-32)

During the night of the Passover, Yahweh sends his Destroyer out over Egypt to kill all the firstborns. The Israelites themselves are protected by the apotropaic blood rite of the Passover (#109-110): the lamb’s blood smeared on the doorposts of all the Israelites’ houses ward off the evil of the Destroyer. Thus they are commanded not to leave their houses “until morning”—lest Yahweh’s Destroyer strike them down too! Yet later inRead More

#115. When did Yahweh bring the Israelites out of Egypt: in the morning OR in the evening? (Ex 12:22; Num 33:3 vs Deut 16:1)

There seems to be some variation in the exodus tradition regarding when the Israelites left Egypt. As we saw in the previous entry (#114), in the Elohist tradition although the Israelites were commanded to stay in their houses “until morning” it does seem that they nevertheless leave Egypt during that very evening. But this is certainly not clear from the text (Ex 12:31-34). They could have left in the morning, therebyRead More

#116. How many Israelites left Egypt during the Exodus: 600,000 OR 625,550? (Ex 12:37 vs Ex 38:26; Num 3:39)

There are two contradictory traditions relating the number of males that left Egypt in the Exodus. The older Elohist tradition relates that there were 600,000. This number is revised upward by the later Priestly writer to 625,550. The reason for this revision is unclear. Perhaps the Priestly writer fabricated it in order to lend verisimilitude to the earlier tradition’s too round of a number. Another Priestly text tells us that thereRead More

#117. Is the Passover celebrated at home OR is it a national pilgrimage festival celebrated only at Jerusalem? (Ex 12:3-8, Ex 12:43-46 vs Deut 16:1-7)

As previously noted (#109-110, #111, #112), the ritual prescriptions outlined in the Priestly writer’s account of the Passover in Exodus 12:1-20 and 12:40-50—all from P—are at odds with the ritual prescriptions of the Passover outlined in Deuteronomy 16:1-8. This is not because Yahweh changed his mind 40 years later, following the narrative chronology, but rather because these two texts were written by two different priestly guilds and each one sought toRead More

#118. Must one be circumcised to celebrate and eat the Passover OR not? (Ex 12:43-49 vs Deut 16:1-8; Gal 3-4)

Continuing with our discussion of the differences between the Priestly writer’s Passover account in Exodus 12 and that of Deuteronomy 16 (#117), we note that while nothing is said in Deuteronomy about circumcision, in the Priestly literature it is forbidden for an uncircumcised male to eat and partake of the Passover. And Yahweh said to Moses and Aaron: “This is the law of the Passover: Any foreigner shall not eat it.Read More

#119. In their exodus, are the Israelites protected by Yahweh going in front of them in a pillar of cloud and fire OR by an angel of God? (Ex 13:21, 14:19b vs Ex 14:19a)

Tradition has it that the Israelites, while being pursued by the numerous Egyptian cavalry and charioteers, were nevertheless protected by Yahweh’s presence. But the traditions, each in their own manner, variously represent this divine presence. The Yahwist tradition always depicts Yahweh as being present in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. This is true even in the wilderness narratives. The Elohist account, however, speaksRead More

#120. How is the Red sea dried up: Moses divides it with his rod OR Yahweh with the wind OR Yahweh with his own breath OR with a shout? (Ex 14:16 vs Ex 14:21 vs Ex 15:10 vs Ps 106:9)
#121. Do the Israelites advance through the sea bed followed by the Egyptians OR do they remain on the shore and only the Egyptians enter the dried sea bed? (Ex 14:23 vs Ex 14:13-14, 25, 27)
#122. Do the Egyptians get washed up dead on the sea shore OR do they sink to the bottom? (Ex 14:30 vs Ex 15:5)

There are three classic examples that biblical scholars use to demonstrate the Documentary Hypothesis: the Flood narratives (#14-18), the Joseph story (#72-73), and the crossing of the Red Sea. In fact there are three visible accounts of this story in Exodus 14-15: 1) the original Yahwist account (the Elohist account is no longer wholly visible); 2) the Priestly writer’s account which was later stitched into the Yahwist account; and 3) anRead 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

#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

#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

#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

#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

#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