#269. When and where do the Israelites enter Canaan, the promised land: through the southern Negeb before the Transjordanian conquest OR from Transjordan after its conquest? (Num 21:1-3 vs Josh 1:10-11:23)

As previously noted (#268), the whole reason for the necessity of the Transjordanian conquest—at least from the perspective of the story itself—is because the Israelites were unable to take Canaan, the promised land, directly from the south. They were defeated at Hormah according to the tradition now preserved in Numbers 14 (#242), and thus pushed back into the wilderness to wander 38 years until Yahweh could finish off this faithless generationRead More

#271. Was Hormah conquered by the Israelites under Moses OR under Joshua OR by the Judhites and Simeonites? (Num 21:1-3 vs Josh 12:7-14 vs Judges 1:16-17)
#272. When was Hormah taken: before the conquest of the promised land OR after? (Num 21:1-3 vs Josh 12:14; Judg 1:16-17)
#273. Were the Canaanites of Arad completely wiped out OR not? (Num 21:1-3 vs Josh 12:14; Judg 1:16-17)

Notwithstanding the contradictory Hormah traditions in the book of Numbers (see #242, #269) there are other discrepancies in this tradition when we look beyond the Torah, and these give us variant views on when Hormah was conquered and by whom! Numbers 21:1-3 places the defeat of Hormah at the hands of the Israelites under Moses. Although the exact location of Hormah has not been verified with any certainty by archaeologists (below),Read More

#286. Do the Israelites conquer Bashan OR not? (Num 21:31-35; Deut 1:4, 3:1-13; Josh 12:4-5 vs Num 33:48-49)

This last contradiction of Numbers 21 will be a short entry since we’ve already dealt with the competing Transjordanian itineraries between the Priestly writer of Numbers 33 and the Yahwist material of Numbers 21 with respect to its alleged conquest or not. See #281 & #282-285. Thus, as J presented the conquest of Amorite territory in Transjordan and P was silent on the matter—there is no Transjordanian conquest in P—so tooRead More

#291. Does Balaam wish to curse Israel and is prevented by Yahweh OR does he not wish to curse Israel? (Deut 23:5-6; Josh 24:9-10; Neh 13:2; 2 Pet 2:15; Jude 1:11; Rev 2:14 vs Num 22:22-35)

The narrative of Numbers 22-24 never presents nor implies that Balaam wishes to harm or curse Israel. To the contrary, Balaam is presented as a loyal vassal of Yahweh, and when on three separate occasions Balak asks Balaam to pronounce curses upon Israel, Balaam refuses saying that he can only utter that which his god—Yahweh—has placed in his own mouth. Indeed, Balaam even refers to Yahweh as “my god,” which mightRead More

#303. The land is to be allotted according to the tribes enumerated in Numbers 26 OR only to 9½ of them? (Num 26:53 vs Num 34:13; Josh 13:7, 14-19)

Strictly speaking, Numbers 26:53 is not exactly correct. To the above shall the land be allotted as territories, in proportion to the number of names. The verse follows the census of the 12 tribes just enumerated in chapter 26 and foreshadows the allotment of the land. In fact, the verse is inaccurate on 2 counts: but the issue with the latter half of this verse and the next, I will postRead More

#304. “Each tribe shall be granted his territory according to its numbers” OR not? (Num 26:54 vs Josh 13-19)

Numbers 26:54 specifically states that the size of land appointed to each tribe is to be determined by each tribe’s number: “To a larger group give a larger inheritance, and to a smaller group a smaller one. Each tribe is to receive its inheritance according to the number of those numbered among them.” But this is not what happens when the land is allotted in Judges 13-19. The largest tribe doesRead 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

#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

#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

#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

#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

#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)?

“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

#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

#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

#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