#237. Do the spies report that the land is rich and bountiful OR one that devours its inhabitants? (Num 13:27 [J] vs Num 13:32 [P])

In rewriting the spy story, the later Priestly writer has not only changed who the initiator of the reconnaissance mission is (#233), the specific land that the spies are to reconnoiter (#234), and how many go and to whom they report back (#235-236), but also the content of the report brought back by the scouts. In the earlier Yahwist version the spies report back that the land is “flowing with milkRead More

#235. Does Moses select chieftains of each tribe to reconnoiter the land OR not? (Num 13:4-16 [P] vs Num 13:17b, Num14:4 [J])
#236. Do the spies report back to Moses only OR Moses, Aaron, and all the congregation? (Num 13:27 [J] vs Num 13:26 [P])

Of the 2 contradictions listed above, the second one is easier to spot in the composite text as it now stands. After the men are dispatched and reconnoiter the land, Numbers 13:25 marks their return: And they came back from scouting the land at the end of 40 days. And they went and came to Moses and to Aaron and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, to 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

#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

#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

#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

#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