Of men & beasts

Ever since I was young, I have wondered, what makes us different from animals? We say we can communicate  with each other, that we care for our young ones. We show empathy, love and anger. But, does that make us any different from an animal? In fact they are capable of showing much less the same to their own kind.

So then it makes sense; the theory of evolution is not so far fetched. The fact that we have so many things in common with animals, right down to our molecular structure!!!. Why do we hold on to the notion that we are different or special. I believe in the Bible, but I find that I am more or less at odds with the book of Genesis.

I am also reminded that Enoch walked with GOD. Therefore it is also likely that the first man Adam & Eve walked with GOD. Irrespective of whether this implied physically walking with GOD or walking in faith with GOD, It does imply a certain intimacy.   But what was it? Was it like the way we share time with our pets? Eating scraps from the table? Sleeping with us on our beds? These are  intimate moments? Yet it does not convey the same intimacy as walking with another person.

As I pondered, I heard David Jeremiah on the radio, he was talking about Isaiah 1:18;

“Come now, and let us reason together”

It was  a light bulb moment for me. Everything in the Bible suddenly made sense. We are different, not because we are more intelligent, not because we can sing melodious songs or because we can build rocket ships that can take us to the edge of the universe.

It all started on the day that GOD created us.  We are  different because we can tell right from wrong; that innate feeling of guilt that we cannot escape from when we wrong others. We  are different because we can reason with each other, because we were created in his image.

And so it wouldn’t be surprising if GOD walked with man in the Garden of Eden. He didn’t create a puppet. He created a person with whom he could have a relationship. A person that can be reasoned with.  A person who was free to choose to not abide by that relationship.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made”: Psalm 139:14

We are indeed different, because we were created by a person who made it his will to know us intimately from the beginning of time to the end of it.





Two Ages at Once

How could Ahaziah be both 22 years old and 42 years old when he started to reign?

Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Athaliah the granddaughter of Omri, king of Israel (2 Kings 8:26).

Ahaziah was forty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Athaliah the granddaughter of Omri (2 Chronicles 22:2).

Was Ahaziah 22 or 42 years old when he became king of Judah? Ahaziah’s true age when he became king of Judah is easy to discern by further research. In 2 Kings 8:17, Ahaziah’s father Joram reigned for 8 years after beginning his reign at age 32. Joram was 40 when he died, showing that Ahaziah could not have been 42, but was instead 22 when he began his reign. So what does the 42 in 2 Chronicles 22:2 indicate?

There are two primary answers that Christian scholars have given. Either answer reveals there is no contradiction:

The 42 is in reference to the beginning of the kingly reign of which Ahaziah is a part.

This was a copyist error that changed the original 22 in 2 Chronicles 22:2 to 42.

Was 42 Years the Beginning of the Kingly Reign?

Leading Hebraist Dr. John Gill listed several responses to this alleged contradiction in the 1700s:

Some refer this to Jehoram, that he was forty two when Ahaziah began to reign, but he was but forty when he died. . . .

others to the age of Athaliah his mother, as if he was the son of one that was forty two, when he himself was but twenty two; but no instance is given of any such way of writing, nor any just reason for it. . . .

others make these forty two years reach to the twentieth of his son Joash, his age twenty two, his reign one, Athaliah six, and Joash thirteen. . . .

the one, that he was twenty two when he began to reign in his father’s lifetime, and forty two when he began to reign in his own right; but then he must reign twenty years with his father, whereas his father reigned but eight years: to make this clear they observe, as Kimchi and Abarbinel, from whom this solution is taken, that he reigned eight years very happily when his son was twenty two, and taken on the throne with him, after which he reigned twenty more ingloriously, and died, when his son was forty two; this has been greedily received by many, but without any proof. . . .

that these forty two years are not the date of the age of Ahaziah, but of the reign of the family of Omri king of Israel; so the Jewish chronology; but how impertinent must the use of such a date be in the account of the reign of a king of Judah? All that can be said is, his mother was of that family, which is a trifling reason for such an unusual method of reckoning.

Obviously, Dr. Gill was appealing for another view: that it was simply a copyist mistake. More recently, chronologist Dr. Floyd Jones expands on Gill’s fifth explanation in Chronology of the Old Testament in much more detail. This is a respectable position and is one of the two possibilities put forth by most scholars.

Dr. Jones makes the case that 42 should remain in 2 Chronicles 22:2. He points out that Ahaziah’s age was indeed 22 as 2 Kings 8:26 says. However, he interprets 2 Chronicles 22:2 as the beginning of the kingly reign of his family line (starting with Omri, then his son Ahab, and then Ahab’s daughter Athaliah who was Ahaziah’s wife).

Dr. Jones points out that the numbers given in the Hebrew text are not the numerals 42 and 22 but are written out as “two and forty” and “two and twenty,” which would seem to make a copyist mistake less likely. Hence, he reinterprets the verse instead of appealing to a copyist mistake.

He points out that the words was and old in 2 Chronicles 22:2 are not in the original Hebrew but were added to the English translation to make it smoother. Without them, it reads “a son of 42 years.” Dr. Jones states:

Thus the sense of Ahaziah’s being “a son of 42 years” in his reigning is seen to refer to his being a son of the dynasty of Omri which was in its 42nd year. Putting the two Scriptures together reveals that Ahaziah was 22 years old when he began to reign during the 42nd year of the dynasty of Omri, of which he is also an integral part.

Although this seems to answer this alleged contradiction, many are not entirely convinced. If 42 is to be interpreted as the beginning of the dynasty of Omri in 2 Chronicles, then why is 22 in 2 Kings 8 not also referring to the beginning of the dynasty of Omri? By this reasoning, this would mean the alleged contradiction could still exist. Another reason others are not entirely convinced is that other ancient texts have 22 in this verse, not 42. Let’s look at the possibility of a copyist mistake.

Was It a Copyist Mistake?

Many fail to realize that several ancient texts have 22 (or simply 20) instead of 42 as listed in the Masoretic Text (MT) in 2 Chronicles 22:2. The Syriac version (common to Eastern churches) and Arabic version each have 22. The Septuagint (LXX) has 20. In fact, the version used by the Antioch church in New Testament times was obtained by Archbishop Ussher at great cost and it had 22 (see first reference by Gill in this alleged contradiction). These early translations were obviously drawing from another Hebrew text, different from what we know today as the Masoretic or standard Hebrew text used for most translations in modern times.

So which text should be used in this instance? Before we assume the MT, let’s see what Jesus quoted from. Jesus quoted from the Old Testament about 64 times in the Gospels. More than half of His quotes agree with both the LXX and the MT. In 12 instances, Jesus’s quotes differ from both the LXX and the MT. In 7 instances, He sides with the LXX over the MT. And in another 12 instances, He agrees with the MT over the LXX. So if we make a case that other ancient texts such as the LXX should never be used instead of the MT, then Jesus would be in error as He clearly didn’t draw explicitly from what we know today as the MT.

Other ancient texts draw from Hebrew versions far earlier than the version of the MT that we have today (current extant copies date from A.D. 900 to 1000). For example, the Septuagint was translated from Hebrew about 200 to 250 years before Christ. Our earliest copy of the Septuagint is from the A.D. 300s. The Syriac version was probably done in the 1st century A.D. because of the rapid growth of the church in Antioch as recorded in the Book of Acts. It was surely completed by the 2nd century, which is commonly referenced.

The Arabic version was done much later, in the 10th century by Saadia Gaon in Babylonia. But this means it drew from a Hebrew text unique from the Masoretic to utilize 22 instead of 42 in 2 Chronicles 22:2. If this were a copyist mistake in the Masoretic text, then it happened prior to the Masoretes who worked from the 7th to 11th centuries A.D., because Jerome’s Latin Vulgate from A.D. 400 also has the number 42.

Regardless, all of these texts underwent some copyist mistakes, as they simply do not agree exactly with each other. This is why scholars such as Dr. Gill lean toward a copyist mistake. Consider what Dr. Gill says:

Indeed it is more to the honour of the sacred Scriptures to acknowledge here and there a mistake in the copiers, especially in the historical books, where there is sometimes a strange difference of names and numbers, than to give in to wild and distorted interpretations of them, in order to reconcile them, where there is no danger with respect to any article of faith or manners.

Other commentaries are also split on the subject. Had the 42 and 22 been written in number form prior to being spelled out, this discrepancy could easily creep in as mem (40) and caph (20) are very similar. We know for certain that as of about A.D. 900, the Masoretes have it spelled out (e.g., “two and forty” or “two and twenty”).

The point is that copies and translations are not inerrant (this is different from preservation). Recognizing this gives more credit to God’s originals and focuses less on the fallible copyists since. Also, it stresses the need to handle the copies and translations of the Word of God with great care and reverence. Had translations and copies been kept inerrant, which Scripture doesn’t reveal, then they should all be identical and yet they are not. God has preserved His Word in a variety of copies and has warned against changing His Word. For example, Revelation 22:18–19 reveals that a horrible fate awaits those who changed words when copying the Book of Revelation.

Regardless, either explanation (42 being the beginning of Ahaziah’s kingly family line or a copyist mistake) reduces this alleged discrepancy to nothing and neither harm the integrity of the original inerrant Bible manuscripts.

Postscript: A Note on Preservation

The Masoretic text is easily the best collection of Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament; however, we need to keep in mind that it, too, is a copy of a copy of a copy, etc. And copyists were never given the privilege of inerrancy, unlike the prophets or Apostles. Although the MT may be the best, we need to be careful about in-depth studies of words and phrases without consulting other ancient texts.

This brings us to the question of “preservation,” which is distinct from inerrancy. God reveals that He would preserve His Word (Psalm 12:6–7). Currently there are two views on how this preservation has taken place:

One preserved inerrant copy of a copy of a copy (etc.) has been passed down.

Preservation has occurred through the various copies that exist.

Throughout the history of the Church, the second view has been dominant. With English translations, for example, from Tyndale forward, each translator made use of textually criticized texts and often consulted variant texts when doing translations. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. The idea that one inerrant copy lineage has been passed along is a relatively new idea that, sadly, doesn’t take into account the past.

Early English translators relied heavily on the various Textus Receptus (TR) editions, published copies of the Greek New Testament, as well as a few other sources, whether English, Latin, or other. Dutch Catholic Erasmus in 1516 did textual criticism of a handful of variant copies (three primary copies and three others) of the Greek New Testament to arrive at this new text. He even used quotations by church fathers for comparison and back-translated excerpts of Revelation from the Latin Vulgate that did not appear in any versions of his Greek copies.

Erasmus issued three editions of his Greek New Testament, the latter editions correcting earlier errors. His first edition was apparently rushed for competition with another family of texts that was used for the Polyglot Bible, and it became the dominant text used throughout Europe. Others, such as Stephanus, Beza, and the Elzevir brothers, further edited Erasmus’s TR for subsequent printings. So early translations such as Tyndale’s, the Geneva Bible, Luther’s Bible, and other New Testaments generally came from this text family because this was what was available. But even then, popular versions such as the King James New Testament differs from the TR nearly 170 times and over 60 times agreed with the Latin Vulgate over any Greek text, including the TR.[21]

Since the time of Erasmus, nearly 5,300 Greek texts and fragments have been found. So why remain confined to Erasmus’s small library that didn’t even have a complete version of Revelation in Greek? There have been many attempts to utilize these other texts instead of ignore them. Among the most popular was Westcott and Hort’s text. But as far as we know, no modern translation uses the Westcott and Hort text except the poorly translated New World Translation.

There has been further study and textual criticism to arrive at standard texts. Today, the latest editions are used when translating the Bible, whether Old Testament or New Testament. The Lord has preserved other texts besides the MT so that we’re able to compare various texts. Truly, He has preserved His Word.

A Righteous Lie?

Why was Rahab praised for lying in James 2:25 when lying is forbidden in the Ten Commandments?

The context of this is Joshua 2:1–16, when the Israelites were spying out the land that the Lord has promised them. Rahab gave refuge to the spies, hid them, and sent their pursuers off in another direction while directing the Israelites elsewhere. During her discourse with the pursuers, she lied about where the men were. The passage reads:

Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there (Joshua 2:1).

After she hid the spies, she sent them off:

And she said to them, “Get to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you. Hide there three days, until the pursuers have returned. Afterward you may go your way” (Joshua 2:16).

This was a different direction from where she sent the spies’ pursuers. This is where the relevant passage in James 2 becomes important:

Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? (James 2:25).

The first thing that needs to be pointed out is that nowhere in this verse is any inclination of Rahab being praised for lying about the spies. Also in Hebrews 11:31, Rahab’s faith was praised for receiving the spies in peace. But again, there was no praise for lying. Rahab was not righteous for lying but for her other deeds:

  • giving lodging to the spies
  • sending the spies in a safe direction

These were the things James considered her righteous for. So, God, who inspired James to write this, never said Rahab’s lie was just — only her other actions.

Lying is a breach of the Ninth Commandment and is never condoned by God, regardless of who does the lying or what the circumstances might be. There is no such thing as a “righteous lie.” Nonetheless, Rahab acted with integrity based on the limited understanding she had of the God of the Bible at the time. There is evidence here of a changed heart and a changed life. A former prostitute who was once a child of Canaan has become a daughter of Zion.

The most remarkable aspect of this whole story is that Rahab, a Gentile and a common harlot, marries into the family line of David the king, giving birth to Boaz, the husband of Ruth, and becomes showcased as a mother in Israel. What a picture of the incredible humility of our God, whereby the writer to the Hebrews reminds us, “He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Hebrews 2:11).

As Easy as Pi

Does the Bible make a mistake in claiming that pi equals 3?

It has been alleged that the Bible is in error because it teaches that pi is equal to 3. Recall that pi is the ratio of circumference to diameter in a circle. And even most young students know that pi is not exactly equal to three. It is often approximated as 3.14, though the actual decimal expansion goes on forever: 3.141592653589793. . . . It is not difficult to measure the diameter and circumference of a circle to confirm that pi does indeed have this value. So is the Bible in error?

The relevant passage is 1 Kings 7:23, which states:

Now he made the sea of cast metal ten cubits from brim to brim, circular in form, and its height was five cubits, and thirty cubits in circumference (NASB).

This verse describes a cylindrical vessel built at the order of Solomon. First of all, notice that this passage does not say “exactly ten cubits” or “exactly thirty cubits.” The numbers have been rounded to the nearest integer (or possibly the nearest multiple of ten). Dividing the circumference (30 cubits) by the diameter (10 cubits), we infer that pi is approximately equal to three. But of course, pi is approximately equal to three, so the passage is quite correct.

At best, critics of the Bible could say that the Bible is imprecise here, but they cannot legitimately say that it is inaccurate or mistaken. Even scientists today will round off numbers at appropriate times. Remember that any decimal expression of pi must be rounded at some point anyway, since the expansion is infinite. There is no fallacy in rounding a number.

Second, we should consider the matter of significant figures. On a physics test, if a circle is said to have a diameter of 10 feet and the student is asked to compute the circumference, the correct answer is 30 feet — not 31 feet. The reason 31 feet is an incorrect answer is because it implies a precision that is unwarranted by the given information. The value 10 feet indicates that the diameter has been rounded. Perhaps it has been rounded up from the exact value of 9.5 feet, in which case the exact diameter would be 29.845 . . . feet — which rounds up to 30 feet.

Third, we should consider 1 Kings 7:26, which states that this cylindrical vessel “was a handbreadth thick.” Since the diameter is given from “brim to brim” (verse 23), the 10 cubits is referring to the outer diameter (which includes the handbreadth thickness of the rim). However, the circumference may well refer to the inner circle (as this is more representative of the pool of water inside the cylinder), which excludes the handbreadth. So even if we take the outer diameter to be exactly 10 cubits, the inner diameter would be smaller. A handbreadth is roughly 1/4 of a cubit; so, the inner diameter would be 10 cubits — (0.25 x 2) cubits = 9.50 cubits. This means the inner circumference would be 29.845 . . . cubits, which rounds up to 30 cubits (not 31 cubits).

In conclusion, the accusation that the Bible has made a mathematical mistake is totally without merit. The biblical answer is spot on, given the information presented and the precision of the numbers in question.

A Man of Many Wives

Does God condone polygamy?

And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart (1 Kings 11:3).

A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober–minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach (1 Timothy 3:2).

As we look at Scripture, it is clear that polygamous relationships are presented in the Bible. But does that mean that they are acceptable in God’s eyes? We also see instances of lying, murder, and rape in the Bible, but these are clearly not acceptable. Just because the events are described does not mean they are condoned. There is no passage in the Bible that condones polygamy.

Beginning in Genesis, it is clear that God intended marriage to be between one woman and one man. Genesis 2 records the creation of one woman for Adam, and in verse 24 we see that because of this “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” If two makes one flesh, then three or more cannot also make one flesh. This is confirmed by Jesus in Matthew 19:3–9 as He is being questioned about divorce. Jesus quotes Genesis 2:24 as support for the idea of marriage being between one man and one woman “from the beginning.” God’s plan, from the beginning, was not for polygamous relationships.

As the Israelites were in the desert after the Exodus, God announces a prophecy through Moses. The Israelites will eventually call for a king to be set over them (Deuteronomy 17:14). Following that, God pronounces standards for the kings to come. In Deuteronomy 17:17 we see the command that the king shall not “multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away.” God clearly commands that the king should not practice polygamy. So why would He condone its practice for anyone else?

Many Jewish leaders and patriarchs, including kings, were recorded to have polygamous relationships. However, these relationships brought about judgment and hardship. David was punished for his relationship with Bathsheba; Abraham’s relationship with Hagar brought strife into the family; and other examples would also bear out this point. Some may argue that Jacob’s polygamous lifestyle was blessed by God, but just because God used a sinful relationship to fulfill His plan does not mean that that action was right. Likewise, Jesus’s lineage can be traced back to Bathsheba.

Polygamy was popular in many cultures, but that does not mean that it was right in God’s eyes. Divorce was also allowed because of the hardness of the hearts of the Israelites (Matthew 19:8), but it was not part of God’s “very good” creation. Jesus called the Jews of the day an “adulterous generation” who chose to live outside of God’s rules and instead, made their own. Just because the Jews (or any other peoples) tolerated polygamy does not mean that God condoned it.