In my previous Bible Contradiction article, I provided a solution to a contradiction that the Skeptics Annotated Bible (SAB) listed as having no Christian response. That’s not to say that I was the first Christian to solve this particular contradiction. They simply hadn’t linked to any response yet in the SAB list. So, after I posted my solution, I sent Steve Wells, the administrator of the SAB page, a tweet informing him of a new Christian response to that contradiction, and Steve was kind enough to add a link to my solution at the bottom of that page on the SAB.
All of this made me curious about whether there were any other contradictions in the SAB list which had not received a Christian response. I had never looked through the list with this in mind before, so I began clicking through the contradictions one at a time to see how many were still unresolved. As I did so, I was encouraged to see that the most of them had two or three different Christian responses. I eventually took a shortcut and used Google to search for the ones lacking a response, and I found that, out of the 478 contradictions in the list, there are still 166 for which no response has been provided.
So, since I enjoy solving Bible contradictions anyway, and since Steve has shown a willingness to add responses when they are provided to him, I have decided to tackle several more of the contradictions on the SAB list. I don’t know if I’ll get to all 166 of the items still needing a response, but I’ll take on several of them, and perhaps a few of you might want to answer some as well. If you’re interested in joining me in this endeavor, you can click here to access the Google search for items in the SAB which have no Christian response. Then, just mention Steve @SteveWellsSAB in a tweet to let him know about your response. With several of us working this shortened list, we should be able to ensure that every contradiction on SAB has a solution.
Having said that, let me move on to the next contradiction for which I have found a solution. Since I’ve already written so much in this article, I decided to choose an easy one for today’s contradiction. Listed at number 3 on the SAB contradictions page is the question “How many generations from Abraham to Moses?” The two passages which are said to contradict each other in this instance are Genesis 15:16 and Exodus 6:16-20. The claim made by the SAB is that God promised in Genesis 15:16 that He would bring the Israelites out of bondage within four generations of Abraham, but according to Exodus 6, Moses was four generations from Jacob which, of course, makes him six generations from Abraham. Thus, it is claimed that the genealogy of Moses contradicts the promise which God gave to Abraham.
The solution to this contradiction is rather simple. All we have to do is read Genesis 15:16 in context. Here is the text of the entire paragraph which begins in verse 12:
And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full. (Genesis 15:12-16)
When we read the whole paragraph, we can see the possibility of a solution. In verse 13, God told Abraham that his descendants would be afflicted for four hundred years, and then in verse 16, God said that they would return to the land of Canaan in the fourth generation. There is nothing in the text which identifies that generation as being the fourth from Abraham, so the possibility is left open that God was referring to four generations of about 100 years each during which the children of Israel would be in bondage to the Egyptians. Then, in the fourth of those 100 year long generations, God would deliver them out of their bondage and bring them back to the Promised Land. This is a viable interpretation of the statements made in Genesis 15, but is it sufficient to resolve the contradiction with Exodus 6?
Now, we know from Exodus 1 that the Israelites moved to Egypt shortly before the death of Jacob, so the genealogy of Moses given in Exodus 6 agrees with the view that Genesis 15:16 is speaking of the fourth generation of Israel’s captivity, but when we look at the entirety of Exodus 6:16-20, we discover a correlation between these two passages which the SAB has attempted to keep hidden. Here is the complete text of the genealogy of Moses:
And these are the names of the sons of Levi according to their generations; Gershon, and Kohath, and Merari: and the years of the life of Levi were an hundred thirty and seven years. The sons of Gershon; Libni, and Shimi, according to their families. And the sons of Kohath; Amram, and Izhar, and Hebron, and Uzziel: and the years of the life of Kohath were an hundred thirty and three years. And the sons of Merari; Mahali and Mushi: these are the families of Levi according to their generations. And Amram took him Jochebed his father's sister to wife; and she bare him Aaron and Moses: and the years of the life of Amram were an hundred and thirty and seven years. (Exodus 6:16-20)
From this text, we can see that Levi was the first generation in the captivity, and he lived 137 years. Kohath was the second generation, and he lived 133 years. Amram was the third, and he also lived to be 137 years old. Then Moses is listed as the fourth generation, and we know from Deuteronomy 34:7 that he lived to the age of 120. Of course there would be some overlap between each generation since the sons were likely born at least a few years before their fathers died, but this listing of ages shows us that it is entirely probable for the 400 years of Israelite captivity in Egypt to have been encompassed by just four generations.
Thus, the contradiction is resolved in a manner fully consistent with the context of each of the passages in question. Both passages reference four generations which experienced the captivity of Egypt, and both passages agree that these four generations spanned a period of 400 years. I’ll tweet this article to Steve Wells so that he can link to it from the SAB page, and I trust that you will take the time to answer a few contradictions as well.
7/26/2014 06:17:26 am
how are you progressing through all the contradictions with no response? I want to help, if time allows.
2/5/2015 01:28:46 pm
I believe the affliction of 400 years was not all in Egypt, it began when Isaac was five and ridiculed by Ishmael. And that means Israel was in Egypt for 215 years. As for the fourth generation not being from Abraham I think that works. I'm working on the top of my head and since these chronologies involve many names and lengths of time I might be a little off.
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Bill Fortenberry is a Christian philosopher and historian in Birmingham, AL. Bill's work has been cited in several legal journals, and he has appeared as a guest on shows including The Dr. Gina Show, The Michael Hart Show, and Real Science Radio.
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