#67. Who were Esau’s wives: Judith and Basemath OR Adah, Aholibamah, and Basemath? (Gen 26:34 vs Gen 36:2-3)

Back to looking at some of the discrepancies in the book of Genesis’ genealogical lists (see also #7, #8-9, #20-21, #23). Genesis 26:34 states that Esau’s wives were: 1) Judith daughter of the Hittite Beeri, and 2) Basemath, daughter of the Hittite Elon. Genesis 36:2-3 lists: 1) Adah, daughter of the Hittite Elon, 2) Aholibamah, daughter of the Hivite Zibeon, and 3) Basemath, but here daughter of Ishmael. Both of these passages areRead More

#68. Do Esau and his descendants live with the Horites in Mount Seir OR did they dispossess them and destroy them? (Gen 36:6-8, 20-21 vs Deut 2:12)

The Bible employs 2 different land-settlement models when speaking about the conquest of the promised land and its environs: a co-habitation or displacement model and a butcher’em and burn’em up model, man, woman, children, and livestock! You’ll be happy to know that both are narrative constructs, each one composed by different authors. Both Genesis 36:1-30 and Deuteronomy 2:12 preserve 2 settlement stories about the land of Edom or Seir as it is often referred to. The PriestlyRead More

#69. Is the conflict between Joseph and his brothers, with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah only OR all his brothers? (Gen 37:2 vs Gen 37:4)

We are almost through the book of Genesis. What remains is a discussion of the Joseph story or stories as we shall see. A close reading of Genesis 37-50 would reveal that the Joseph story is a composite of two once separate versions of this story. When these two versions were later edited together minor narrative inconsistencies and contradictions were created. Since Joseph is a hero of the north, it is notRead More

#70. Is Rachel dead OR alive when Joseph has his dream? (Gen 35:19 vs Gen 37:11)

And Joseph had a dream… and told it to his brothers. And he said… “here were the sun and the moon and eleven stars bowing down to me.” And he told it to his father and brothers. And his father was annoyed at him and said to him: “What is this dream that you’ve had? Shall we come, I and your mother and your brothers, to bow to you to the ground?” (GenRead More

#71. Is it Reuben OR Judah who saves Joseph’s life? (Gen 37:21-22 vs Gen 37:26-27)

There are a number of textual inconsistencies in Genesis chapter 37 that have consistently led commentators to the same conclusion: the Joseph narrative is a composite text of two, once separate, Joseph stories each with their own particular vocabulary, themes, and plot devices. The editor of these two textual traditions carefully attempted to safeguard both by stitching them together in an almost seamless and unperceivable manner. The first doublet in theRead More

#72. Who sells Joseph to the Ishmaelites: his brothers OR the Midianites? (Gen 37:27 vs Gen 37:28)
#73. Who sells Joseph to Potiphar: the Midianites OR the Ishmaelites? (Gen 37:36 vs Gen 39:1)

These two contradictions, like those of the flood narrative (#14-18), are also used as a classic example to demonstrate the Documentary Hypothesis. Genesis 37:28 provides us with our first clue. And Midianite merchants passed, and they pulled and lifted Joseph from the pit. And they sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty weights of silver and they brought Joseph to Egypt. As the grammar of the sentence now stands, verse 28 claimsRead More

#74. On their first trip back to Canaan from Egypt, the brothers open their bags and find their silver at a lodging place en route OR home in front of Jacob? (Gen 42:27-28 vs Gen 42:35)

Continuing our examination of the two Joseph stories (#69, #71, #72-73), which a later editorial endeavor had woven together in Genesis 37-48, this contradiction picks up where we left off. Genesis 42 displays a variety of doublets that reenforce our hypothesis that the Joseph story is in fact a compilation of two once separate Joseph stories. These duplicate renditions of the same narrative details once belonged to each of the two originally separate sources.Read More

#75. Who vouches for Benjamin’s security: Reuben OR Judah? (Gen 42:37 vs Gen 43:8-9)

Reuben and Judah each make one last appearance in the Joseph story, err… stories. As in the previous case (#71), where Reuben denounces his brothers’ plan to kill Joseph in the Elohist version, so too Reuben acts as surety for Benjamin’s safe return. “And Reuben said to his father: ‘Kill my two sons if I don’t bring him [Benjamin] back to you’” (42:37). The Yahwist version of the story, however, keepingRead 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

#77. Benjamin had 10 sons OR 5? (Gen 46:21 vs Num 26:38-41)

The genealogy in Genesis 46:8-27, which we concerned ourselves with in contradiction #76, interrupts the narrative, as many close readers have noticed. In fact, if we took this material out, which has been unanimously identified as part of the Priestly source (Gen 46:6-27), what’s left is a narrative that precedes as a coherent and whole unity. Here is Genesis 46:5 + 46:28 5And the children of Israel carried Jacob their father and theirRead More

#78. Before giving his blessing does Jacob know OR not know who Manasseh and Ephraim are? (Gen 48:5 vs Gen 48:8)
#79. Does Jacob adopt Joseph’s two sons OR merely bless them? (Gen 48:5-6 vs Gen 48:9-20)

As we’ve already seen in previous entries, the Priestly writer had a vested interest in rewriting  earlier Yahwist and Elohist covenant or blessing passages and in the case of the latter even converting them into covenantal ceremonies. This was so in the case of the Abrahamic covenant (#28), the transference of that covenant to Isaac (#40), then Jacob (#46-47), and finally Joseph’s two sons here in Genesis 48. We also saw thatRead 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

#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

#300. Is Bechar Benjamin’s son OR Ephraim’s son? (Gen 46:21; 1 Chr 7:6 vs Num 26:35)
#301. Were Ard and Naaman sons of Benjamin OR sons of Benjamin’s son Bela? (Gen 46:21 vs Num 26:40)
#302. Are Benjamin’s 5 sons Bela, Ashbel, Ahiram, Shephupham, and Hupham OR Bela, Ashbel, Aharah, Nohah, and Rapha? (Num 26:38-39 vs 1 Chr 8:1-2)

The Priestly genealogy preserved in Numbers 26 serves as a book-end to the whole wilderness period where the first registry, narratively speaking, was recorded in the Priestly tradition of Genesis 46:8-27 (see #76). In comparing the two lists—which for the most part are similar—we notice nevertheless some minor discrepancies, most of which deal with different spellings for names, or missed or unlisted clans (specifically compare the clans listed for the Simeonite,Read 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)?

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