#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

#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

#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

#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

#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

#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

#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

#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

#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

#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

#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

#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

#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

#152. Does Yahweh choose only the Aaronids as priests OR all the Levites? (Ex 28:1, 28:41, 29:1-9, 40:12-16; Lev 1-8; Num 3:1-9, 25:10-12 vs Deut 18:1-8)

“Bring Aaron, your brother, forward to you, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel for him to function as a priest for me.” (Ex 28:1) The redacted text of the Pentateuch as it now stands bears witness to an internecine rivalry that existed within the tribe of Levi, that is within the priesthood itself. At least two priestly groups that we know of wrote texts aimed atRead More

#153. Who judges the people: the Aaronid priests OR the Levites OR the elders OR the prohets? (Ex 28:30; Lev 13; Num 5:16-28 vs Deut 17:8-13 vs Ex 18:13-26 vs 1 Sam 7:15, etc.)
#154. Who carries the Urim and the Thummim: the Aaronid high priest OR the Levites? (Ex 28:30 vs Deut 33:8-10)

As a composite text of competing ideologies and theologies, the Bible—the creation of a later generation of readers living centuries after these once individual texts were written (see What is the Bible?)—preserves multiple origin stories relating the establishment of its judiciary and who ministers judgment. Indeed, these competing texts do share one definable common feature: Yahweh is the ultimate Judge. It is he who judges. But what is variously represented inRead More

#164. Is the Tent of Meeting in the camp OR outside the camp? (Ex 25:8; Num 1:50-2:32 vs Ex 33:7-11)
#165. When is the Tent of Meeting constructed: on the New Year of the second year from the Exodus OR sometime before that? (Ex 40 vs Ex 33:7)

Et voilà! — More contradictions that resulted from the stitching together of the Elohist text of Exodus 32-33 and the Priestly literature of Exodus 25-31 & 33-40. Honestly, this is not magic. I did not contrive these contradictions. Rather, competing priestly guilds and scribal schools of ancient Israel did, with their different views and beliefs. Not my fault either that readers living centuries later, for reasons endemic to their own historicalRead More

#166. Is Joshua allowed to enter the Tent of Meeting OR are only Aaronid priests? (Ex 33:11 vs Num 1:51, 3:10, 3:38, 18:5-7)

This contradiction continues from the previous two (#164-165), where we saw that the views and perceptions concerning the Tent of Meeting differed radically depending on what source we were looking at, the Elohist or the Priestly source. Here too, the Elohist attaches no priestly, cultic, nor holy and sacred significance to the Tent of Meeting, at least not in the manner in which we find the Aaronid priestly writers doing inRead More

#167. Is Yahweh a god slow to anger OR a god whose anger flares often and erratically? (Ex 34:6; Num 14:18 vs Ex 4:14, 22:23, 32:10; Num 11:1, 11:10, 11:33, 12:9, 22:22, 25:3)

Exodus 34 is the Yahwist’s version of the Ten Commandments, which was treated in an earlier entry, along with the fact that Exodus 34:1 is a lie—Yahweh does not, as the text claims, write the same material on these new tablets of stone that were on the original tablets (#134-135)!  Today’s contradiction treats a different matter and fits in with the Conflicting portraits of Yahweh penned by the Bible’s different authors.Read More

#170. Does the action from Exodus 40 to Numbers 7 take place on one day OR not? (Ex 40:2-33; Lev 8; Num 7:1 vs Lev 9; Num 1:1)

And it was in the 1st month, in the 2nd year, on the 1st of the month, the Tabernacle was set up. (Ex 40:17) This is the Priestly writer’s chronology: the cultic institution, around which its whole theology is based, is erected on the New Year’s day of the second year from the Exodus (see also #109-110). Yet, even within the Priestly source there seems to be some discrepancies concerning whatRead More

#173. If the people sin inadvertently is a bull offered up as a sin-offering OR is a goat offered up as a sin-offering and a bull as a burnt-offering? (Lev 4:13-21 vs Num 15:22-26)

Both of these passages, Leviticus 4 and Numbers 15, were penned by the Aaronid priestly guild. So they may reflect differences within the priesthood that would have naturally arisen over the centuries it existed. It might also be that Numbers 15 was a later amendment to the earlier instruction (torah) of Leviticus 4. Leviticus 4 details the sin or purification offering, and in order of descending urgency: the sin-offering to beRead More

#175. An individual that has come into contact with an impure animal or human must purge his impurity through sacrifice OR banishment from the community? (Lev 5:2-6 vs Num 5:2-3, 31:19)

As we saw in #173, the Priestly legislation itself bears witness to some minor differences. This one in particular has to do with the stipulation regarding an individual that has come into contact with a corpse—that is, according to the Priestly ideology, an individual that has come into contact with an impurity. Since according to the Priestly theological worldview, the camp, wherein Yahweh dwelt among the people (#151), was conceived asRead More

#181. What happens after the Tabernacle is set up and anointed: Moses anoints Aaron and his sons as Yahweh’s priests OR Israel’s tribes make dedication offerings? (Ex 40; Lev 8-9 vs Num 7)
#182. Where did Yahweh appear to the people: at Horeb/Sinai or at the Tent of Meeting? (Ex 19, 34 vs Lev 9:23-25)

That the Tabernacle and the cult are the central most important concerns to the Priestly writers is incontrovertible. Yet within this body of literature itself, there seems to be two different traditions about what transpires on the day that the Tabernacle is established. As previously noted, there is also a chronological discrepancy within the Priestly source (#170). Exodus 40:1, 40:17, Leviticus 1:1, and Numbers 7:1 indicate that all of the actionRead More

#191. Who are deemed holy: all the Israelites OR only the Aaronid priests? (Lev 19:2 vs Lev 8; Num 3)

The book of Leviticus is a tough one to get through — my apologies again. I list this contradiction because it is often noted in the scholarly literature. As mentioned briefly in previous entries (#175, #185), critics have noticed two main layers of priestly material in the book of Leviticus, both of which were written by the Aaronid priestly guild. There is the literature that is P proper, Leviticus 1-16, andRead More

#192. A wife who is guilty of aldutery must be put to death OR suffer the curse of bareness? (Lev 20:10; Deut 22:22; Gal 5:19-21; Rev 21:8 vs Num 5:11-31)

One of the Ten Commandments, preserved both in Exodus 20:14 (E) and Deuteronomy 5:17, is the prohibition against adultery: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” But we actually have to wait until later textual traditions clarify what the punishment of this crime is. Here is what Deuteronomy and Leviticus have to say about the matter. If a man be found lying with a woman who is a husband’s wife, then the twoRead More

#194. Was the Festival of Unleavened Bread a pilgrimage festival OR not? (Ex 13:6, 23:14-15, 34:18-23; Lev 23:6-8; Num 28:18-19; Deut 16:16 vs Deut 16:7-8)
#195. Was Passover and Unleavened Bread one festival OR two? (Deut 16:1-7 vs Ex 12:21-27, 13:3-10; Lev 23:5; Num 28:16-23)
#196. On what day was the pilgrimage for the Festival of Unleavened Bread: the 1st day OR the 7th day OR all 7 days? (Deut 16:2, 16:7, 16:16 vs Ex 13:6 vs Lev 23:6-8; Num 28:17-24)
#197. How many days was the Festival of Unleavened Bread: 6 OR 7? (Deut 16:8 vs Ex 12:15-16, 12:18-19, 13:6; Lev 6-8; Num 28:17)

Changes and Transformations in the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread:From the Pentateuch’s Earliest Sources to Its Latest Working from what was previously posted about the Pentateuch’s 5 Festival calendars, we can see that the two oldest sources, the Elohist and the Yahwist, make no mention of the Passover, and indeed this is to be expected since what is listed in Exodus 23:14-17 & 34:18-26 are those festivals which requiredRead More

#198. When was the Festival of Firstfruits or Weeks celebrated: on the day the first grains were reaped OR the day following the next Sabbath after the first reaping OR 7 weeks later? (Ex 23:16 vs Lev 23:9-11 vs Ex 34:22; Deut 16:9-11; Num 28:26)
#199. Is the Festival of Weeks a pilgrimage festival OR not? (Ex 23:16, 34:22; Deut 16:10-11 vs Lev 23:17)
#200. On the Festival of Harvest/Weeks what is brought as an offering to Yahweh: the firstfruits of what is sown OR a contribution akin to a tithe? (Ex 23:16; Lev 23:10-11 vs Deut 16:10, 17)
#201. When was the counting of weeks to begin: from the day of the first reaping OR from the first Sabbath afterwards? (Deut 16:9 vs Lev:15-16)
#202. Are Israelites to offer up sacrifices and a first sheaf of their harvest to Yahweh on the first barely harvest OR not? (Lev 23:9-14 vs Num 28:26-30)
#203. What is offered up to Yahweh on the Festival of Weeks: 1 bull, 2 rams, and 7 lambs OR 2 bulls, 1 ram, and 7 lambs? (Lev 23:18 vs Num 28:27)
#204. Is a peace-offering of an additional 2 lambs sacrificed on the Festival of Weeks OR not? (Lev 23:19-20 vs Num 28:27-31)

Like the Festival of Passover & Unleavened Bread (#194-197), the Harvest Festival or the Festival of Weeks also went through several modifications from the earliest period of Israel’s cultic practices to the Aaronid-led cult of the post-exilic period. Once again, it is the Pentateuch’s various sources which bear witness to these developments, or in our case, these contradictions. Our two earliest witnesses, E and J (see list of festivals by sourcesRead More

#205. Was the autumn harvest festival called the Festival of Ingathering OR Booths? (Ex 23:16, 34:22 vs Lev 23:34-43; Deut 16:13-15)
#206. Was the Festival of Ingathering/Booths a 1 day pilgrimage festival OR 7 days? (Ex 23:16, 34:22 vs Lev 23:36, 39; Num 29:12-34; Deut 16:13-15)
#207. Where was this pilgrimage festival: to a local altar OR to Jerusalem? (Ex 23:16, 34:22 vs Deut 16:15)
#208. What was offered to Yahweh on this festival: the crops from the field OR a tithe from the threshing floor and wine press? (Ex 23:16; Lev 23:39 vs Deut 16:13)

As with the previous 2 pilgrimage festivals—Unleavened Bread (#194-197) and Weeks (#198-204)—so too here: the Festival of Ingathering developed and modified into the Festival of Booths with some minor changes implemented by the Deuteronomist, some of which were kept by the Priestly writer, while others were not. Preceding chronologically—through the sources of the Torah (E, J, D, P) not the narrative as it now stands—the Elohist text of Exodus 23:16 isRead More

#212. An impure firstborn animal, particularly an ass, is redeemed with a lamb OR the priest’s appraisal price plus a fifth OR 5 shekels? (Ex 13:13, 34:20 vs Lev 27:27 vs Num 18:15-16)

This contradiction follows from the previous one, #211, and an earlier contradiction dealing with the consecration of all firstborns to Yahweh, #145. All of the Pentateuch’s sources agree that firstborn human males, firstborn male animals, and the firstfruits of the harvest are to be consecrated 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,Read More

#214. Who were the beneficiaries of the tithes: the Aaronid priests alone OR the Levites OR the people? (Lev 27:30-33 vs Num 18:21-24 vs Deut 14:22-27)
#215. What was tithed: all the produce of the land and the animals OR only the produce of the land? (Lev 27:30-33 vs Deut 14:23)
#216. Is one-fifth of the value to be added to tithes redeemed by money OR not? (Lev 27:31 vs Deut 14:24-25)

There are 3 Pentateuchal laws concerning the annual mandatory tithe—Leviticus 27:30-33 (H), Numbers 18:21-30 (P), and Deuteronomy 14:22-27 (D)—all of which were written by different authors or priestly guilds, and evidence contradictory views on what is tithed and to whom the tithe belongs. The earliest of these tithe laws is probably the Deuteronomic law. It is also the most radical of the three. In general, the authors of Deuteronomy de-emphasized theRead More

#217. What was the organization of the Israelite camp during the wilderness period: no arrangement with the Tent of Meeting outside the camp OR in a circular tribal arrangement around the Tent of Meeting at its center? (Ex 33:7-8; Num 11:26, 12:4 vs Num 2)

This entry will serve as a general introduction to the book of Numbers—75% of which is a continuation of a once independently existing scroll written by the Aaronid priesthood of the exilic and post-exilic periods. In fact, all of the literature from Exodus 35 to Numbers 10:11 is from the pen of this elite priestly guild. This is supported by this literature’s sustained emphasis on the Aaronid priesthood (#152, #153-154, #160-161,Read More

#218. The total number of Levites is 22,300 OR 22,000? (Num 3:22, 28, 34 vs Num 3:39)

The numbering of Levites from one-month old and up as recorded in Numbers 3 contains a minor textual discrepancy, which I shall nonetheless count as a contradiction. Numbers 3:39 states that “the total number of Levites which Moses and Aaron tallied by order of Yahweh, by their clans, all males one-month of age and older amounted to 22,000.” This total sets the stage for the Levite redemption of all firstborn malesRead More

#219. What is the minimum age of service for Levites: 25 OR 30? (Num 8:24 vs Num 4:3, 4:23, 4:30)

The book of Numbers apparently preserves divergent traditions regarding the minimum age of service for Levites. And Yahweh spoke to Moses saying: “This is what applies to the Levites: everyone 25 years and older must serve in the work forces, performing the tasks of the Tent of Meeting.” (Num 8:23-24) And Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron saying: “Take a head count of the Kohathites, who are part of the Levites,Read More

#220. Are the Levites allowed to touch the holy objects of the Tabernacle OR not? (Deut 18:1-8; 1 Sam 6:13-19; 2 Sam 6:6-7, etc. vs Num 4:1-19)

Nowhere is the agenda, and polemic, of the Aaronid priestly guild and its text, the Priestly source, more apparent than in its treatment and depiction of its rivals, the Levites. In this text, mainly Exodus 35–Numbers 10, our Aaronid writer has Yahweh proclaim on numerous occasions that: no non-Aaronid Levite can be a priest, only an Aaronid can (#152) no non-Aaronid Levite can eat of Yahweh’s sacrifices, only Aaronids can (#177)Read More

#221. What transpires on the day Moses sets up and anoints the Tabernacle: Aaron and his sons are anointed as Yahweh’s priests and shut in the Tent of Meeting for a 7 day ordination OR Israel’s 12 chieftains present sacrificial offerings to Yahweh, 1 a day for the following 12 days? (Ex 40:1-17; Lev 8-9 vs Num 7)

Numbers 7 claims to narrate events that happened “on the day Moses finished setting up the Tabernacle” (Num 7:1), “on the day it was anointed” (7:10). This, however, presents two particular difficulties—contradictions—when reading, erroneously, these wilderness stories as a single homogeneous, divinely-authored or any single-authored, historical narrative. This is not what our biblical scribes were doing nor saw themselves as doing. Rather, as stressed repeatedly in other posts, these are theRead More

#222. Must one be pure for Passover OR not? (Num 9:9-11 vs Deut 16:1-8)
#223. Is the observance of Passover an eternal law OR not? (Ex 12:14-17; Lev 23:4-5 vs Gal 3-4)

As we have repeatedly seen already (#175, #178, #183, #184, #185, etc.) that concern for ritual and ethical purity was top priority for the Aaronid priesthood that penned the book of Leviticus and 75% of what is now the book of Numbers. Throughout Leviticus, and especially in those chapters devoted to its laws and commandments (Lev 11-22), the role of the Aaronid priests is repeatedly defined through the phrase “to distinguishRead More

#224. Do the Israelites set out for the wilderness of Paran OR Hazeroth? (Num 10:12 vs Num 11:35)

Thus far in our examination of the book of Numbers we have only looked at passages from the Priestly source, now preserved as the opening of Numbers (Num 1:1-10:28), and how this literature or more appropriately its ideas, beliefs, and even ideologies contradict other textual sources and traditions that went into the making of the Pentateuch. This material is easily identifiable as Priestly based on its unique vocabulary, formulaic style, andRead More

#225. Who is to lead the way through the wilderness: Yahweh OR Reuel? (Num 9:18-23 vs Num 10:31)

There is a mix of curious and out-of-place material that immediately follows the detailed narrative of the Tent of Meeting, the place of the Aaronid priests and their Levite subordinates, the construction of the cultic institution, and all the cultic and purity issues raised throughout the book of Leviticus and Numbers 1:1-10:28. Starting at Numbers 10:29, we suddenly here stories about: Reuel again (or is it Jethro? #85) Yahweh’s Ark, whoseRead More

#226. The Ark of Yahweh: an empty throne seat which served a martial function OR the holy of holies which served a ritual function? (Num 10:33-36, 14:44-45; 1 Sam 4:1-7 vs Ex 25:22, 37:1-9; Lev 16:11-17; Num 4:5-15)

At Numbers 10:33, attributed to J, we are abruptly introduced to a story about the Ark of the covenant of Yahweh, which is portrayed in a very unique role. And it was, when the Ark traveled that Moses said “Arise Yahweh and let your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate you flee from your presence.” (Num 10:35) In this passage, as in others, the Ark of Yahweh is beingRead More

#227. Was there only manna to eat OR not? (Ex 16:35; Num 11:6 vs Ex 12:38, 17:3, 24:5, 34:3; Lev 1-27; Num 7, 9:1-14, 28-29)

Numbers 11—a story about the people’s complaining to Moses that they have no meat to eat, only manna—is part of the murmuring traditions, some of which we have already looked at (#125, #126, #127) and even seen use contradictorily by other biblical scribes (#124). To a large extent the quail story of Numbers 11, where Yahweh responds to the Israelite’s complaining that they have had no meat to eat only mannaRead More

#228. Whose idea is it to form the judiciary: Yahweh’s OR Jethro’s? (Num 11:14-16 vs Ex 18:13-27)
#229. When were the heads/chieftains of Israel’s thousands elected: before or after Sinai? (Ex 18:13-27 vs Num 1:1-43, 11:16)

There are 3 passages in the Torah that are regularly cited which detail the origins of Israel’s judiciary, that is the establishment of judges to judge the people: Exodus 18:13-27, Numbers 11:14-16, and Deuteronomy 1:9-18. Each one of these traditions exhibit minor variations when compared with one another. Compare also contradiction #153. The most noticeable of these variations, indeed contradictions, is to be found in the Deuteronomist’s rewriting of the earlierRead More

#230. Were there still 600,000 men OR not? (Num 11:21 vs Ex 23:28; Num 11:1)

This contradiction builds on two previous contradictions: #116: How many Israelites left Egypt during the Exodus: 600,000 OR 625,550? and #218: The total number of Levites is 22,300 OR 22,000? Excluding the contradiction between P’s 625,550 men and E’s 600,000 men, the particular discrepancy here is that between the Elohist source’s first mention of the 600,000 men who left Egypt in Exodus 12:37 and its reiteration of the same 600,000 men in NumbersRead More

#231. Are the elders allowed in the Tent of Meeting OR not? (Num 11:16 vs Num 3:10, 3:38, 17:28, 18:22)

Contradictions in the Bible don’t just exist on the narrative, thematic, and linguistic levels. Many of the contradictions so far listed, especially those within the books of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, deal with broader theological and/or ideological differences and contradictory views and beliefs as they existed between the various authors of this corpus of literature we call the Bible. In this example, we can readily perceive a whole different train ofRead More

#232. Is Aaron rival to and envious of Moses OR not? (Num 12:1-2 vs Ex 40:12-16; Lev 8:10-13, 8:30, 9:8-22, 10:8-11, 16:1-34, 21-22; Num 3:5-10, etc.)

There are two places in all of the Pentateuch where Aaron is presented in less than flattering terms, as doing something gravely wrong: as the fabricator of Israel’s greatest sin during the wilderness period, the Golden Calf (see #157, #160-161), and as jealous rival and want-to-be to Moses and his authority as depicted in Numbers 12:1-2. Additionally it is only in these two stories that Aaron addresses Moses as “my lord,”Read More

#233. Who suggests sending spies to scout out the land: Yahweh OR the people? (Num 13:1-2 [P] vs Deut 1:22-23 [D])

Numbers 13-14 recount the story—or rather stories—of the spying of the promised land, which as it now stands is a composite text, a patch-work of the earlier Yahwist and later Priestly versions. Deuteronomy 1:21-46 is also another version of the spy story and presents itself as a simple retelling, through the mouthpiece of Moses, of the events recorded in Numbers 13-14. Yet it departs in significant, and contradictory, ways from theRead More

#234. Are the spies to reconnoiter all the land of Canaan OR only the southern part, Judah? (Num 13:2, 13:21 [P] vs Num 13:22-24 [J]; Deut 1:24-25 [D])

Continuing from the previous post, #233, today’s contradiction reveals that in the earliest spy-story tradition, the Yahwist, only the land of the southern kingdom, namely Judah, is reconnoitered, and a later retelling of this tradition expanded the area to include all of Canaan. Numbers 13:22 makes it clear that the spies enter Canaan through the southern Negeb and arrive at Hebron, which is the capital of Judah until it is movedRead More