Copyright © By Dr. Adel Elsaie, Book Title: "History of Truth, The Truth about God and Religions"

5.2 Contradictions in The Old Testament

Dr. Adel Elsaie

 

The Story of The Creation

The Flood of Noah

The Ten Commandments

The Golden Calf

Judah or Ephraim

Isaac or Ismael.

To See or Not To See

To Rest or Not to Rest

The Lord or Satan

 

It is not our intention to present all the contradictions in the Old Testament. This would require more than one book devoted to this subject. As such, only samples of the contradiction are presented in this chapter. The Old Testament is full of stories about tribal feud of the people of Israel, and because of that the Old Testament is full of contradictions.  Many biblical scholars approach this issue with the conclusion that the whole Old Testament could not be inspired by God.  In this case, how can anyone discern the Word of God from the human words? How can then anyone separate the authentic Word of God from those stories? The analysis and criticism of the Old Testament began since the eleventh century. Yet Sunday classes, TV Evangelists, and Jewish rabbis decided that this information could be confusing to the layperson. So they all approach religious preaching from a position of comfort that emphasizes the moral lessons of the Bible rather than introducing confusing issues that may be very hard to explain. Most likely, biblical preachers use the advice of Abraham ibn Ezra when he said “And he who understands will keep silent.” 

 

The Story of The Creation

 

The creation event is a fascinating case of two versions of the same story. At the beginning of the Bible, one version of how the world was created is presented. The second chapter of the Bible starts with a different version of creation. And both versions are scientifically inaccurate.  In several points they contradict each other. For example, they describe the major events in different order.

 

1.      In Genesis 1:1-26, God created plants on the third day and fish and birds on the fifth day. On the sixth day, He created animals and man.

2.      In Genesis 2:7-25, God created man first. Then He created plants. Then, for man to have company, God created animals and birds. And finally, God created woman.

 

     The two stories have different sequences of steps of creation.  Biblical scholars noticed that the first version referred to the deity as “God” thirty five times. The second version always refereed to Him by name “Yahweh God” eleven times. The first version never calls Him Yahweh, and the second version never calls Him only God. Therefore, it can be concluded that the first version was written by P, and the second version was written by J. P described the creation in great details to give a sense and a feel of the supremacy of God. It is interesting to note that Genesis 2:1-3 referred to the deity as “God”, after that He was referred to as “Lord God”, which might mean that the first three verses of Genesis 2 should be the end of genesis 1, and thus was part of P. However, in describing the details of the creation in seven days, P had created a theological crisis:

 

1.      If the sequence of the creation is not the same in the two versions, then which one is correct?

2.      If P, who holds an omnipotent view of God, wrote the whole first version, then how did P make God rest in the seventh day? Did someone other than P write the seventh day resting story? Was there a fifth source, for example “F”?

3.      Why the details of P have major scientific inaccuracies?  Maurice Bucaille in his book The Bible, the Quran and Science listed many scientific inaccuracies that show that the P version of creation is inconsistent with what we know now about the Big Bang theory.

 

     Keeping in mind that God cannot contradict Himself, the following points can be concluded:

 

1.  God did not exactly inspire these two different versions.

2.  The authentic story from God was edited, interpreted and expanded by at least two writers.

3.      The authentic sequence of creation, if any, was changed to conform to the different audience and the readers at the time of compilation.

 

     Now, we can understand why the Islamic religious books are divided into five categories, and the authentic Word of God is kept separate.

 

The Flood of Noah

 

The story of the flood exists in Genesis 6:5 to 8:22. Biblical scholars investigated this part of Genesis and separated the entire story from its two sources J and P. The P part refers to the deity as God, while the J part refers to God by the name Yahweh. The two versions differ in important details of the story:

 

1.      J sated that God regretted that he had made humans, and He was grieved to His Heart, Genesis 6:6. P did not say that.

2.      P says that the flood lasted for almost one year (7:11, 7:24, 8:3, and 8:13). J says that it lasted for forty days and forty nights (7:17).

3.      P says that Noah sent a raven, while J says it was a dove, Genesis 8:7-8.

4.      J has seven pairs of clean animals and one pair of unclean animals. (“Clean” means proper for sacrifice like sheep, “unclean” means not proper for sacrifice like lions.)  This is because Noah offers a sacrifice at the end of the story in J. P has one pair of each kind of animal and the sacrifice event was not mentioned.

5.      J stated that God smelled the sacrifices of Noah and it pleased Him, Genesis 8:21.

 

     Now, we can understand why the Islamic religious books are divided into five categories, and the authentic Word of God is kept separate.

 

The Ten Commandments

 

The fact that the Ten Commandments are repeated in Exodus 20 and in Deuteronomy 5 almost word for word, with the exception of the fourth commandment raises very intriguing questions. Why? How did it happen? If these are words inspired by God, then why did God repeat Himself in 17 verses or in about half a chapter? Someone may say that God uses repetition for emphasis, why then is the fourth commandment the only difference?

     Biblical investigators agree that P wrote the Exodus version and D wrote the Deuteronomy version. The fourth commandment deals with the reason given by God for keeping the Sabbath. The Exodus version, 20:10, by P states that the reason is because God rested on the seventh day. The Deuteronomy version by D gives a very general reason like “And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and Yahweh thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by stretched out arm.” Deuteronomy 5:15. If P wrote this verse of Exodus, why then did he abandon his perspective of the deity as an Almighty and All-powerful God and made God rest on the seventh day. This part actually conforms to J, because it certainly does not fit the Priestly P. It is fascinating to note that the Exodus version, with God’s resting, is more publicized than the second one. This is probably to present a more potent reason to rest on Saturday. However, in doing that, they give the Almighty human characteristic.

     Now, we can understand why the Islamic religious books are divided into five categories, and the authentic Word of God is kept separate.

 

The Golden Calf

 

One of the most intriguing stories of the bible is that of the golden calf. Moses liberated the Israelis from slavery in Egypt. They had seen many miracles, the last of which was the splitting the Red Sea. While Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments on the mountain, Aaron made a golden calf for the people, Exodus 32:4-5. The people said: “these be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” And Aaron said: “Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.” The people sacrificed and celebrated wildly. At the same time, God told Moses about the terrible sin that the Israelis were committing, and God said that he would destroy the Israelis and make a great nation from Moses. Moses then asked God to repent of this evil act against the Israelis! The Lord repented and did not destroy the people. Moses came down from the mountain with Joshua, and saw the calf and the condition of the people. He, then, smashed the tablets in anger. The tribe of Levi gathered around Moses and carried out a bloody purge among the people. The story has many questions:

 

1.      Why did the writer of the story portray his people as rebellious at the very time of their freedom and their receiving the covenant?

2.      Why did he describe Aaron as the leader of this paganism?

3.      Why did Aaron not suffer any punishment?

4.      Why did the writer depict a golden calf?

5.      Why did the Jews refer to the golden calf (which is singular) as “these are your gods” (plural)? This sentence is exactly the same as that of Jeroboam when he built two temples for the golden calves, 1 king 12:28. Jeroboam was justified in using plural for the calves, but in Exodus they worshiped a singular calf.

6.      Why did they say, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. when the calf was made after they left Egypt?

7.      Why did Aaron say, “Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.” when he allowed worshipping an idol?

8.      Why did he picture the Levites as acting in bloody rage?

9.      Why was Joshua not included in association with this particular sin?

10.   Is it conceivable that Moses asked God to repent of the evil of His wrath?

 

     The story was written by E from the Northern Kingdom of Israel who used to criticize both the northern and southern religious organizations. Aaron was regarded as a high priest. E could not change the history and the tradition by punishing the high priest. But E chose Aaron because the priests of the family of Aaron had been firmly established in Judah. So he accused Aaron, Moses’ brother, of paganism. In Exodus 4:10-15, when Moses first spoke to God, he said: “I am not a skilled speaker. I have never been able to speak well.”  According to the story in the Bible, Moses was reluctant to accept God’s Command, and therefore God said: “I will give you someone to help you. I will use your brother Aaron, from the family of Levi.” If this Word of God did not mean that Aaron was a Prophet, then what does? He was not just a high priest. Aaron was a Prophet in Judaism and Islam. However according to the Old Testament, due to tribal hostilities and wars between the north and the south, Prophet Aaron was accused of paganism, and was demoted from a Prophet to a high priest.

     Now, we can understand why the Islamic religious books are divided into five categories, and the authentic Word of God is kept separate.

 

Judah or Ephraim

 

This is a story of birthrights and inheritance issues with Jacob distributing his wealth among his family. E story is in Genesis 48 and J story is in genesis 49. In the E version, Jacob granted Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh equal share in everything he owned. Jacob was old and his eyes were weak. When Jacob was blessing Joseph and his sons, Joseph put Ephraim on his left side and Manasseh on his right side. But Jacob crossed his arms, so his right hand was on Ephraim’s head even though Manasseh was firstborn. This did not make Joseph happy. He took his father’s hand and wanted to put it on Manasseh’s head, but Jacob refused and argued that Ephraim would be greater than Manasseh. Why Ephraim? The writer of the E version was from Israel, and king Jeroboam was from the tribe of Ephraim.

Jacob’s first son was Reuben, Simon was the second, Levi was the third, and Judah was the fourth. The J story justifies the superiority of Judah and the formation of the kingdom of Judah. The first son Reuben was excluded from his birthright because he slept with one of his father’s wives and his father found that out. Simon and Levi were also excluded because they planned evil things, killed men, and hurt animals for fun. Therefore the birthright, in the J version, went to Judah who was praised by his father, described as a lion, and was told that his family would be kings.

     Now, we can understand why the Islamic religious books are divided into five categories, and the authentic Word of God is kept separate.

 

Isaac or Ismael.

 

Christian scholars apply their investigative techniques to biblical stories, and usually defend any evil action of some biblical figures. But when it comes to Ismael, then this is another story. There is no sense here to investigate who wrote the story of Hagar and Ismael. If J wrote that Judah got the birthright, and E claimed that the birthright went to Ephraim, and J and E were from the twelve tribes of Jacob, the son of Isaac, can anyone expect good words about Ismael, the brother of Isaac, from any writer? Ismael was the firstborn, and of course he was denied his birthright as in the above stories. Any reference to Hagar is accompanied with such description as the maid and the Egyptian servant. The entire blessing and the praise went to Isaac. The Angel of the Lord told Hagar that “Ismael would be wild man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand would be against him, and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren,” Genesis 16: 12. Recall that Aaron got much more disrespect when he was accused with paganism in the golden calf story. The honor of ultimate test of obedience, Abraham sacrificing his “only son”, was given to Isaac instead of Ismael, Genesis 22. In fact, it was Ismael who was about to be sacrificed for the sake of God. Ismael knew what would happen to him and he surrendered to the will of God. So the writers of the Bible took the honor and praise from Ismael.

In Genesis 17:20 God said to Hager: “As for Ismael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.” This verse states clearly that Ismael is blessed. God also said that his children would form a great nation.  This great nation is obviously the Arab nation that started in the Saudi peninsula.

Also, God the Almighty left us with a formidable miracle that no one could take away from Ismael and his children. In Genesis 21:17-20 God’s angel came to help Hagar and the baby Ismael when they were thirsty, and God allowed Hagar to see a well of water. So Hagar went to the well and filled her bag with water. Then she gave water to Ismael to drink. Now, what is this formidable miracle? This referenced well still exists in the Paran desert in Mecca. Since the time of Abraham, that well never dried. Every year millions and millions of Muslims still drink from the well. It is called Zamzam. The Saudis added compressors to the well Zamzam to lift up more and more water. This living miracle has existed for thousands of years. All miracles of the Bible disappeared, but the will of God for praising Ismael still defies time.

     Now, we can understand why the Islamic religious books are divided into five categories, and the authentic Word of God is kept separate.

 

To See or Not To See

 

After Jacob wrestled with God, “And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”  Genesis 32:30.

When Moses beseeched God to see Him, God responded: “You cannot see my face, for no man can see me and live” Exodus 33:20.

E wrote the first verse claiming that Jacob wrestled with God, saw his face and nothing happened to him. P wrote the second verse that denied the action of seeing God by anyone.

 

1.      Which story do you believe?

2.      Was E trying to elevate the status of Jacob above Moses?

 

To Rest or Not to Rest

 

 The Jews’ reason to rest on Saturday “For in six days, the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” Exodus 31:17.

     The Prophet Isaiah says that people can’t imagine what God is like “Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting god, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding” Isaiah 40:28.

Which verse of the Old Testament fits your perception of God the Almighty?

 

The Lord or Satan

 

David was asked by the Lord to number Israel and Judah:

 

“And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah” 2 Samuel 24:1.

 

Then in 1 Chronicles 21:1, David was provoked by Satan to number Israel:

 

“And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.”

 

Again, these two verses raise very interesting questions:

 

1.      Are these explanations of the reason for numbering the Jews refer to the same story?

2.      Or did God ask David to number Israel and Judah, while Satan provoked David to number Israel alone? And if so, why?

3.      Did the two writers have different political interests about the reason for numbering? And if so, could both stories be inspired by God?

 

The revisers of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible had this to say about the authors of Samuel and Chronicles:

 

1.      Samuel: Author “Unknown”

2.      Chronicles: Author “Unknown”, probably collected and edited by Ezra.

 

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