ABC:Exodus 20

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Two Sets of Ten Commandments?[edit | hide | hide all]

Patheos' Bob Seidensticker claims there is a contradiction here and makes the following comments (italicized):[1]

There is no contradiction, the critic just wants to find one where there is none. Moses plainly says in Deuteronomy 10:1-4 that the words on the second set of Ten Commandments were the exact same words as those on the first set. Observe that Exodus 34:28 does not say what the Ten Commandments being given are. The critic carelessly claims that Moses received the first set of Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, when actually Moses did not receive them until Exodus 31:18--which also does not say what the Ten Commandments were.

As for the commandments given in Exodus 34, they are identical to commandments given earlier by God when He communed with Moses from Exodus 20-31. Compare for example Exodus 34:12 with 23:32; 34:13 with 23:24; 34:14 with 20:3-5; 34:15-16 with 23:33; 34:17 with 20:4; 34:18 with 23:15; 34:19-20 with 22:29-30; 34:21 with 20:9 and 23:12; 34:22 with 23:16; 34:23 with 23:17; 34:25 with 23:18; and 34:26 with 23:19. At any rate there was no difference between the two sets of Ten Commandments.

Verse 4: Can We Make Graven Images?[edit | hide]

Dan Barker of FFRF claims there is a contradiction here and makes the following comments (italicized):[2]

The confusion is caused by translation from Hebrew into English. The phrase "graven image" derives from a single Hebrew word, pecel, that should've been translated idol instead, since that is how it is always used throughout the Bible. For that reason Hebrew lexicons consistently define it as "idol."[3]

Furthermore, the context of the passages themselves shows that it is idols being discussed, not merely graven images. (cp. Exodus 20:3,5; Leviticus 26:1) To quote Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe, "The prohibition against making graven images was distinctly set in the context of worshiping idols... there was no chance that the people of Israel would fall down before the cherubim in the most holy place, since they were forbidden to go in the holy place at any time. Even the high priest went only once a year on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16)... These cherubim were not given to Israel as images of God; they were angels. Nor were they given to be worshiped. Hence, there is no way in which the command to make them violated the commandment in Exodus 20."[4]

Verse 5, Punishment for Ancestor's Sins? - Patheos[edit | hide]

Patheos' Bob Seidensticker claims there is a contradiction here and makes the following comments (italicized):[1]

The same teachings both appear in the book of Deuteronomy.

These commandments were both given to Moses at the same time. While God only commands capital punishment for those who sin, not their children, there are genetic consequences not involving death which occur from sin which affect one's descendants. For example, incest can cause birth defects. In some cases, God even curses the descendants of the wicked. (Psalms 109:13) Thus, children are not put to death for what their parents have done (Deuteronomy 24:16; Ezekiel 18:20), but can to a degree still "bear the iniquity" of their parents' actions in the form of negative circumstances. (Deuteronomy 5:9-10; Exodus 20:5)

Nonetheless, God shows mercy to those who do good, judging them based on their own actions. (Ezekiel 18) God can turn away wrath and consequences as He did from Nineveh. In the case of King Josiah for example his individual righteousness resulted in God delaying a punishment that would have otherwise come upon him. (2 Kings 22:19-20)

As for the doctrine of Original Sin, while sin entered the human race because of Adam and Eve's disobedience, we still are accountable to God based on our free will decisions. (Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22) While we have a sin nature that causes temptation to sin, and become even more enslaved to the sins we engage in (Romans 6:16-21), we are still accountable to God for our sins. Although the Bible calls those righteous who seek after God, doing justice and mercy, nonetheless all our good deeds are like filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6), and apart from the salvation in Jesus, our good deeds are all outweighed by our bad ones, so that we would be futilely seeking to outweigh the debts for our sin with good works. (Romans 4:4-8) By works will none be justified. (Galatians 2:16) Only by faith in Jesus can we be justified. (Galatians 3:11)

Verse 5, Sins of the Father - American Atheists[edit | hide]

American Atheists claims the Bible is wrong about the passage (and makes the following comments (italicized).[5]

American Atheists deceptively quotes from very different books, Exodus and Ezekiel, to make it appear as though these are incompatible teachings given at different time periods. Actually, the same teachings both appear in the book of Deuteronomy.

These commandments were both given to Moses at the same time. While God only commands capital punishment for those who sin, not their children, there are genetic consequences not involving death which occur from sin which affect one's descendants. For example, incest can cause birth defects. In some cases, God even curses the descendants of the wicked. (Psalms 109:13) Thus, children are not put to death for what their parents have done (Deuteronomy 24:16; Ezekiel 18:20), but can to a degree still "bear the iniquity" of their parents' actions in the form of negative circumstances. (Deuteronomy 5:9-10; Exodus 20:5)

Nonetheless, God shows mercy to those who do good, judging them based on their own actions. (Ezekiel 18) God can turn away wrath and consequences as He did from Nineveh. In the case of King Josiah for example his individual righteousness resulted in God delaying a punishment that would have otherwise come upon him. (2 Kings 22:19-20)

Verse 5, Sins of the Father - Infidels[edit | hide]

Infidels.org claims the Bible is wrong about "the sins of the father."[6] TheThinkingAtheist.com also asserts a contradiction exists on this topic.[7]

This is on the surface one of the more puzzling riddles in the Bible, but in substance is very similar to the riddle found in Galatians 6 where one verse refers to accountability in this life and the other to accountability in this one. Additional verses referencing people not being put to death for the sins of their forebears are as follows:

Verses showing God punishes later generations:

Therefore both principles are well-established by the Bible.

As pointed out by GotQuestions.org[8] the original commandment of slaughter for the sins of the father referred to idolatry which tended to ingrain itself in the culture, thus the children would keep repeating their parent's sins. The Bible repeatedly spoke of kings walking in the ways of their fathers, showing this was commonplace, a natural re-enactment of their descendant's iniquities.

The following can be observed from the above verses:

  • A long succession of Israel's and Judah's kings repeatedly did evil, specifically idolatry (which included child sacrifice similar to abortion today - 2 Kings 16:2, 17:17; 2 Chronicles 28:3, 33:6; Psalms 106:37-38; Jeremiah 7:31, 19:5, 32:35; Ezekiel 20:31, 23:37) and were said to do the sins of their fathers.
  • In some cases of particularly egregious evil in misleading the nations of Israel and Judah God appears to have had whole households destroyed of particularly wicked rulers. (1 Kings 15:25, 16:12,18)
  • In one rare case a ruler, Josiah, was said to walk in the good deeds of his father David. ([[ABC:2 Kings 22|2 Kings 22:1-2) However, the many evil rulers also mentioned above were also David's descendants. So interestingly they were considered the lineage of a wicked descendant if doing evil but of a good descendant if doing good.

Conclusion[edit | hide]

So what then is the answer? To me it appears that in cases of particularly evil idolatry, the evil households of very wicked rulers were destroyed entirely. Yes, they were destroyed for the "sins of their fathers" but only because they were engaging in them as well as illustrated by the numerous examples above!

Furthermore, passages like Jeremiah 31:29-31 and Ezekiel 18:19-24 are clearly referring to God's eternal judgment upon individuals of destruction in Hell or salvation in Heaven for eternity. With regards to this, every person bears their own burden (Galatians 6:5). God does not punish people for eternity because of the sins of their fathers. However, to try and keep the world from becoming horribly evil, God is sometimes forced to intervene and destroy whole nations at times that engage in horribly evil practices like child sacrifice.

The ancient world engaged in horrible evils and with the exception of Noah, the only man on the planet said to be doing good, appeared to have become so utterly despicable God removed Enoch from it rather than leave Enoch with the horrible human race. (Genesis 5:24, 6:5-8) God then destroyed the wicked world to recreate it anew.

In the same way the evil nations in Canaan were ordered to be utterly destroyed by God for their wicked practices that included child sacrifice. (Leviticus 18:21) God did so to try and destroy the practices from the world so that Israel and other nations would not adopt them. (Exodus 23:33, 34:12-15; Deuteronomy 7:16, 12:30, 29:18) The end result of Israel's disobedience was that they did adopt the evil of child sacrifice of the wicked nations. (Psalms 106:36-40)

Thus, while God does visit punishment upon wicked peoples during this life for the "sins of the fathers" to slow the spread of evil in this world run by Satan, God determines eternal life by individual actions. God is merciful to those who repent and turn from the ways of their fathers:

Furthermore, for purposes of human law, the Mosaic Law, it was commanded that nobody be punished for a relative's actions. (Deuteronomy 24:16) Only God is considered wise enough to judge a family's guilt according to the "third and fourth generations" (Exodus 20:5) and even then God quickly pardons individuals who turn to Him, do what is right, and repent.

In the case of Nineveh seen in Jonah 3, God pronounced a judgment on the city for the sins of their fathers, essentially, continual wicked practice generation after generation. However, the city repented and turned to God, and a merciful God pardoned the city - more interested in having people do right than keeping His word - though His word was ultimately fulfilled as Nineveh was destroyed years later apparently as revealed by excavations of the long-lost city which scholars had previously thought didn't exist.

Spiritual lineage[edit | hide]

Jesus interestingly provided another facet to this riddle by using the passage to illustrate the difference between God as one's Father and Satan as the father of the wicked - in such a case who one's 'father' is will very much determine their eternal destiny and deeds, for if God is their Father they will do what is right, and if Satan is one's father they will do evil deeds.

This principle was mentioned likewise in the Old Testament:

Paul explained it as lineage according to promises God gave Abraham being through faith, not genetics or physical parentage. Thus the lineage is through faith, not 'seed' or physical lineage, and one is Abraham's descendant or child through faith and blessed accordingly, regardless of race. Paul explains it is not by circumcision (i.e. Jewish heritage) that the promise to Abraham is decided but by faith.

This was originally a puzzle to the early church at first as well, who thought only Jews could become Christians. Not until God showed Peter otherwise through a vision that this could change did the church marvel at the fact that Gentiles (non-Jews) could also be saved and follow Christ as well.

At any rate, this riddle of whether Abraham's seed could include non-Jews, and whether non-Jews could be saved and become disciples of Jesus, was one of the major controversies in the early church as seen in the book of Acts.

Verse 5, God's Justice and Impartiality[edit | hide]

The EvilBible claims a contradiction exists here, and makes the following comments (italicized).[9]

The critic makes some serious mistakes in trying to attribute injustice and partiality to God. First of all, Genesis 9:25 contains something Noah said, not God, and that was because his son had immorally looked at his father's nudity. As a result Noah cursed his younger son. However, even IF that had been something God had said, not Noah, it would not have necessarily shown injustice or partiality since it was a condemnation of an immoral action. Using that as the primary example of God's injustice displays seriously flawed reasoning, as well as carelessness, on the part of the critic.

The critic seems to be arguing that Exodus 20:5 displays partiality because children experience the consequences of their ancestor's decisions to the third and fourth generations. This may well be a reference to disease. God punishes individuals who hate Him with diseases and physical maladies that carry over into their later generations. However, despite this God forgives those who repent, healing their lives and bodies. The critic noticeably does not mention the next verse, Exodus 20:6, which specifically states that God shows mercy to those who love Him and righteously keep His commandments.

In the Mosaic Law, God elsewhere specifically states that children are not to be put to death for the actions of their parents, or parents for what their children have done, but punishment should be based upon their individual actions. Therefore, while God may execute forms of punishment on later generations through disease, execution was to occur only when an individual had done that which was clearly evil.

Ultimately final judgment at the end of the time will be based solely on a person's actions irrespective of what their ancestors have done.

Concerning the critic's third allegation of injustice/partiality by God and Romans 9:11-13, God did determine before Jacob and Esau were born which should rule over the other. However, this is because God is able to know our personalities and what we are like inside before we're even born. Evil people begin thinking and doing evil from the womb, just as the good are known from this time as well.

However, God still pleads with those who are evil to change and do what is right, and makes clear that He takes no pleasure in the deaths of those who are wicked.

So, in conclusion, just because God knew enough of what Jacob and Esau were like while they were still in the womb to foreordain aspects of their lives, does not mean that God is unjust or impartial. It simply evinces the depths of God's knowledge and understanding to realize what kind of people we are from the moment we are created, even before we leave our mother's wombs. Furthermore, it should be pointed out that Esau, like his brother Jacob, was blessed permanently with land that God has permanently left to his descendants. (ABC:Deuteronomy 2:4-5)

Finally, the critic accuses God of injustice and partiality because in Matthew 13:12 Jesus says that those who have will be given more, and those with little will have that little taken away from them. However, the fuller context shows that this was spoken concerning knowledge of the Kingdom of Heaven.

The ones Jesus was speaking to had closed their own eyes (Matthew 13:14) because they did not want to realize the truth.

Truth is something given to those who seek it earnestly, who wish to know righteousness. Therefore it is not unjust of God to take away the understanding of those who close their eyes and ears because they don't want to know or accept the truth. God is fair and gives wisdom generously to those who seek in a right spirit by trusting God (James 1:5-6).

Verse 5, God Character Attributes[edit | hide]

Don Morgan's list at Infidels claims this is a contradiction and makes the following comments (italicized).[10]

First of all, it should be pointed out that Don Morgan deceptively excluded adjoining verses showing that God's attributes include BOTH angry vengeance and loving mercy. For example, Deuteronomy 5:9 was referenced, but not 5:10. Isaiah 42:13 was referred to but not verses 14 or 1-4. Exodus 20:5 was mentioned yet not 20:6. Exodus 15:3 was referenced not 15:13. Exodus 34:14 was brought up yet verses 6-7 noticeably unmentioned. I could keep going, but you get the idea.

This was likely to disingenuously portray the Old Testament as exclusively portraying God as vengeful, and the New Testament portraying God as loving (which is of course not accurate, cp. Rev. 19:11-21; 2 Th. 1:8; Rom. 2:7-8; 2 Pet. 3:5-7; Mt. 24:51; Mk. 9:43; Lk. 16:24) Bible critics like to misportray the Bible like this because they do not care about honesty or truth. God is good to those who do good, and even those who do evil God has shown longsuffering, sending blessings which they have not appreciated; while giving them time to repent.

God is a God of longsuffering patience who sends his rain on the just and the unjust, and is withholding judgment to give all people more time to repent.

In Jesus' case, He held His peace for thousands of years, was put to death and persecuted, but will ultimately execute justice in the Earth.

God can be both a God of love and of vengeance. Many great martial artists, who are ordinarily very peaceful, like Bruce Lee, are the most capable and deadly fighters imaginable. Inner peace, love, and patience also allows for unspeakable rage at injustice. As John Drysden once put it, "Beware the fury of a patient man." God's love of justice will ultimately necessitate punishing the wicked; indeed paradise for good people cannot exist so long as evil people are in it, for they will persecute the righteous and corrupt such a creation the way they have this one. People ask why God allows evil in this world, seemingly unaware that for God to remove evil from this world, He would have to remove all evil people who cause evil from it.

Concerning specific verses brought up showing God's fierce wrath, such as Numbers 25:3, many relate to the Israelite adoption of a Canaanite practice to sacrifice one's children alive to idols such Baal and Molech, burning them alive and then eating them. This was the main reason God had Canaanite nations destroyed, to stop the global spread of a horrific and immoral pagan practice of cannibalistic child sacrifice. For a discussion of the subject, see Destruction of Canaanites.

Verse 8, Should We Keep the Sabbath?[edit | hide]

Dan Barker of FFRF claims there is a contradiction here and makes the following comments (italicized):[2]

The FFRF want to focus on the Sabbath rules under the Old Covenant, not the New Covenant which Christians are under (Jeremiah 31:31); ignoring the context of the Sabbath for which it was given, as the Israelite Pharisees did. In doing so, they ignore the principles emphasized in the New Testament by Jesus about the Sabbath, that it was intended primarily for the good of people, not as a burden. (Mk. 2:27) What matters is that the Sabbath be used to do good for others. (Mt. 12:12)

The Sabbath was intended to protect the poor from overwork, not create onerous regulations that govern what everyone can do on a certain day of the week (as the Pharisees viewed it). The Old Testament Covenant, including its rules on the Sabbath, was not kept properly by the Israelites for thousands of years, which is why Jesus brought in the New Covenant which emphasizes the underlying spiritual principles the Sabbath was intended for; protecting and helping mankind while focusing on God.

Verse 8, the Sabbath[edit | hide]

American Atheist's list at American Atheists claims this is a contradiction.[5]

Purpose of the Sabbath: Protecting the Poor[edit | hide]

Setting aside the Sabbath was originally done to ensure a day of rest for the poor, that they would not be overworked. It was specifically intended to stop employers from mistreating the poor, and allowing a day of rest to focus on God.

This is consistent with other Biblical commandments requiring that farmers leave a portion of their harvests for the poor including widows, orphans, and immigrants (Lev. 19:9-10), feed said poor every three years (Deut. 14:28-29), and not charge the poor interest (Ex. 22:25).

The Sabbath, or seventh day, was used also for years, to free the poor from their debts every 7th and 49th year, and to let the land itself rest (what is called crop rotation) with any food produced available to the poor.

A New Covenant[edit | hide]

However, Israel did not abide by God's just commandments, so God said He would bring in a new Covenant, or agreement, with the nation of Israel.

For this reason, Old Testament restrictions under the Old Covenant were largely replaced with spiritual commandments that fulfilled the original intent of the Law.

As such, the New Covenant or New Testament does not do away with the Old Testament Law, it fulfills it. (Matthew 5:17-18; Romans 3:31)

Jesus' Teachings About the Sabbath[edit | hide]

Jesus in the New Testament was attacked by the Pharisees, who focused on the strict wording of the Old Testament laws while ignoring the context and purpose for which they were given. The Pharisees attacked Jesus over:

  • Healing sick people on the Sabbath day. (Mt. 12:9-13; Mk. 3:1-6; Lk. 14:1-6; John 5:8-17)
  • Freeing those possessed by demons on the Sabbath day. (Lk. 13:10-17)
  • Allowing His disciples to harvest food on the Sabbath day so they wouldn't go hungry. (Mt. 12:1-8)

Jesus responded by pointing out that David, when he and his soldiers were hungry, ate the shewbread reserved for the priests, and allowed his soldiers to do so as well. (Mt. 12:2) Jesus also pointed out that the priests in the temple were themselves ignoring the Sabbath and were not held accountable for centuries. (Mt. 12:5) The Pharisees would rescue one of their livestock which fell in a hole on the Sabbath, yet they condemned Him for healing a woman on the Sabbath who had been demon-possessed for 18 years. People should be considered more valuable than animals, and if it is alright to help an animal on the Sabbath, it should be alright to help a person as well. (Lk. 13:16)

As Jesus pointed out, "the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." (Mk. 2:27) It was intended to protect the poor for their benefit, not burden them with onerous regulations as the Pharisees were using it to do. Jesus also pointed out that God the Father does not stop working on the Sabbath (meaning that otherwise all Creation would probably stop functioning every Sabbath otherwise) so He works as well. (Jn. 5:18) He further observed that the Pharisees practiced circumcision on the Sabbath, a medical procedure, so healing others should be permissible on the Sabbath. (Jn. 7:23) Ultimately, Jesus' retort essentially came down to "I made the Sabbath in the first place. I can decide how it's applied." (Mt. 12:8; Mk. 2:28;

Overlooked Context[edit | hide]

This is essentially what American Atheists are neglecting to see by only looking at the first verse; Exodus 20:8. First of all, the commandment was intended for the good of the poor. Secondly, it was the "sabbath of the Lord." Jesus, as the Old Testament Angel of the Lord who gave such commandments to the Israelites in the first place, had every right to declare Himself "Lord of the Sabbath day."

The New Testament Teaching[edit | hide]

The New Testament discourages legalistic regulation of certain days (including the Sabbath day). Ultimately we should be focusing on and worshiping God every day, not just the Sabbath day. What ultimately matters is that the poor are resting at least one day a week, regardless of which day it is; that is the underlying principle; and that we are spending at least one day a week to focus on God. Furthermore, it is alright to do good on the Sabbath day.

The Sabbath was intended to protect the poor from overwork, not create onerous regulations that govern what everyone can do on a certain day of the week (as the Pharisees viewed it). The Old Testament Covenant, including its rules on the Sabbath, was not kept properly by the Israelites for thousands of years, which is why Jesus brought in the New Covenant which emphasizes the underlying spiritual principles the Sabbath was intended for; protecting and helping mankind while focusing on God.

The New Testament calls us to a higher view of the Sabbath, where we are to worship God constantly, not just one day a week, doing everything for God's glory (1 Corinthians 10:31). We are called to constantly focus on the good of others, as the Sabbath was intended for.

Conclusion[edit | hide]

American Atheists want to focus on the Sabbath rules under the Old Covenant, not the New Covenant which Christians are under; ignoring the context of the Sabbath for which it was given, as the Israelite Pharisees did. In doing so, they ignore the principles emphasized in the New Testament by Jesus about the Sabbath, that it was intended primarily for the good of people, not as a burden. (Mk. 2:27) What matters is that the Sabbath be used to do good for others. (Mt. 12:12)

Verse 12 (ThinkingAtheist)[edit | hide]

TheThinkingAtheist.com claims the Bible is wrong about the following passage, and makes the following comments:[7]

Notice that Jesus nowhere contradicts the commandment to honor one's parents, He simply prophesies that because of Christianity division of families will occur where the families of Christians persecute them. In other words, this has nothing to do with a commandment, but rather Jesus prophesying that Christians would be put to death for their belief in Him. Had TheThinkingAtheist.com observed the passage's context, they would have noticed this, e.g. the verses immediately preceding Matthew 10:35-37:

When read in context with proper reading comprehension it is very obvious Jesus was never saying one shouldn't honor their parents, but warning His disciples they would be put to death for believing in Him, see especially Matthew 10:22 which sums it up, "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved." Jesus told His disciples to flee into other cities if persecuted (v. 23), told them "the disciple is not above his master" and if they hated Jesus they'll hate His followers also (vv. 24-25), that Christians should not fear those who can kill the body but not the soul (v. 28), that God watches over even the number of hairs on our heads (vv.30-31), and that those who deny Jesus under such persecution He will deny, and those who confess Him He will confess. (vv. 32-33)

The entire chapter, read in context, shows the subject was persecution Christians would endure, even from their own families, and certainly not a commandment to disobey one's parents and one of the 10 commandments. Jesus elsewhere reaffirmed that children should honor their parents, see also Matthew 19:19; Mark 7:10, and 10:19.

Verse 12 (American Atheists)[edit | hide]

American Atheists claims the Bible is wrong about the passage (and makes the following comments (italicized).[5]

Jesus elsewhere repeats the commandment to honour one's parents, even criticizing the Pharisees for nullifying God's commandment to do so through their tradition (Matthew 15:4-9; 19:19; Mark 7:10-13; 10:19). Jesus never says not to honour our parents. Rather, He is teaching that we must love God more than them; and warning us that by following Him our family members will become our greatest enemies. The Gospel divides families apart; rather than bringing peace it creates division. Lies and dishonesty unite people through deception, truth spoken results in disagreement. In essence, Jesus is warning those who would follow Him that they must be willing to follow Him more than their own siblings and parents, and be willing to disagree with their own relatives. (Matthew 10:35-38; Luke 12:51-53)

In one case, a disciple wants to delay preaching the Gospel until he has buried his father. Jesus tells him to let the dead bury the dead, and to preach the Gospel. Another disciple wants to bid his family goodbye first before preaching the Gospel. Jesus tells the disciple that his reluctance makes him unfit for the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:59-62) The apostles in some cases had to forsake their own families and properties to follow Jesus (this did not occur in all cases, Peter for example was married - Mark 1:30), and were told that in doing so they would be rewarded with 100 times what they had lost, as well as with everlasting life. (Matthew 19:29) In summary, Jesus never negates the Biblical commandment to honour one's parents, indeed He Himself makes certain that Mary is provided for by John upon His death. (John 19:26-27) Rather, He teaches that Christians must be willing to follow Him even when doing so pits them against their unbelieving family members, and to do the will of God rather than the will of man.

Verse 13, Should We Kill?[edit | hide]

Patheos' Bob Seidensticker claims there is a contradiction here and makes the following comments (italicized):[1] Dan Barker of FFRF also claims there is a contradiction here.[2]

The Hebrew word translated "kill" in Exodus 20:13, ratsach, is translated as "murder" or "murderer" 17 out of the 47 times it is used in the Old Testament by the KJV. It is also translated "slayer," "slain," or "slayeth" 21 times, and twice it is translated as manslayer. Only 5 times is it translated as "kill."[11] The confusion is in large part caused by the KJV not translating the same Hebrew words identically throughout the New Testament, and the word ratsach, had it been correctly translated into English as murder, would have removed any confusion.

God allows killing to stop, punish, or deter evil in cases of war or judicial punishment. See e.g. the commandment of "eye for an eye." However, harming others without provocation or even out of vengeance is prohibited; for God has always commanded that "vengeance is mine, I will repay." (Leviticus 19:18) The cases mentioned above do not violate the Biblical prohibition against murder; and were all judicial punishments ordained by God. In Exodus 32:7 the Israelites were sacrificing their own children alive to a golden calf to honor Baal and Molech while committing sexual perversions, so God ordered those responsible destroyed to prevent the spread of wickedly immoral practices.

In 1 Samuel 15:2-8 God ordered the destruction of a wicked group of people that had attacked the Israelites, murdering Israel's feeble rather than fighting Israel's warriors, presumably women, children, and the elderly. (cp. Deuteronomy 25:18) In the case of Hosea 13:16 the sins of Israel included idolatry involving child sacrifice (Ezekiel 16:20), for which they were punished horribly as a nation by God allowing their enemies to destroy them. The cases of 1 Samuel 6:19 and Numbers 15:36 were similarly judicial punishments commanded by God for disobedience, specifically working on the Sabbath and looking into the Ark of the Covenant, which represented God's Holy of Holies. At any rate, none of the cases could be considered murder as they clearly involved God-directed punishments through God's governance/government, not willful decisions by individuals to harm others without provocation or take vengeance into their own hands.

Verse 14[edit | hide]

The ReasonProject lists the following as a Bible contradiction with the headline "Is it wrong to commit adultery?"[12]

First of all, the inference is that Moses' action in Number 31 was supported by God which is nowhere stated. Actually Moses by giving the commandment directly disobeyed God's original command not to make a covenant with the Midianites or have relationships with their descendants. (Exodus 23:32, 34:11-17; Deuteronomy 7:2-4, 20:16-18) For more on why this was necessary to stop the horrid Canaanite practice of cannibalistic child sacrifice, see Destruction of Canaanites.

Actually Moses' disobedience was so great that God shortly after this punished Moses by not letting him enter the Promised Land. (Deuteronomy 32:51) Moses similarly disobeyed God by allowing Israelites to divorce their wives, which as Jesus pointed out was contrary to what God intended. (Mark 10:4-12) Jesus if asked about this would likely have said the same thing, that this was a case of Moses disobeying God's commandments. Moses had a history of disobeying God as far back as the burning bush, when God repeatedly told Moses to go to Pharaoh, and Moses first complained that he was a nobody, then complained Pharaoh wouldn't listen, argued he couldn't speak well, and finally just told God to go bother someone else. (Exodus 3:11-4:14)

As for the Hosea passages, the Scofield Study Bible III has addressed this very well in its note for Hosea 1:2:

For an alternative view, Edward Ridenour of the Christian Post argues that Gomer wasn't originally an adulteress when Hosea married her, and points to Hosea 2:7 as evidence that Hosea was Gomer's first husband.[14] As an interesting side note, the story of Hosea has inspired Christian books such as Francine Rivers' novel, "Redeeming Love."

Verse 15, Should We Steal?[edit | hide]

Dan Barker of FFRF claims there is a contradiction here and makes the following comments (italicized):[2]

FFRF omits the context of both Exodus 3:22 and Exodus 12:35-36, quoting only a small part of the verses, the phrases about spoiling the Egyptians. If reading the entire verses (as quoted here), it is apparent that the spoiling was done through the Israelites asking the Egyptians to give them things, rather than any form of theft. Indeed, Exodus 3:21 shows that the Egyptians did so willingly because God "will give these people favour in the sight of the Egyptians."

The Egyptians gave willingly to the Israelites whom they had enslaved for centuries, eager to get rid of the plagues God was sending. (Exodus 12:33) The Egyptians willingly loaned to the Israelites. (Exodus 12:36). There was no theft involved.

As for Luke 19:29-34, the owners of the colt were clearly followers of Jesus; or they would not have accepted an explanation that "the Lord hath need of him." Jesus knew they would ask, and thus told the disciples what to say. It may be that Jesus had already arranged with the colt's owners ahead of time that he would one day have need of the colt. Whatever the reason, the owners accepted the explanation and allowed the disciples to take the colt for the Lord's use. (cp. Mark 11:3,6) More than that we are not told, but the owners willingly relinquished the colt; there was no theft involved.

Verse 16, Should We Tell Lies?[edit | hide]

Dan Barker of FFRF claims there is a contradiction here and makes the following comments (italicized):[2]

Strange as it might seem, God does allow dishonesty for the purpose of defeating wickedness, by using their own tactics against them. As it is written, "With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward." (Psalms 18:26) Job observes that "He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." (Job 5:13) Jesus called Christians to be wise as serpents but harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16) God sends punishments on the wicked for their sins. (Lamentations 3:38-41) God used lying spirits throughout the Bible to deceive those engaging in sin and idolatry that they might be punished. (cp. Ezekiel 14:7-10; Judges 9:23; 1 Kings 22:23; 2 Chronicles 18:19-22; Job 12:16-17; Isaiah 19:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:11)

Unfortunately righteous people cannot always be honest with the wicked, lest they be destroyed. Evil people do not play by the rules, and the righteous cannot always be open and honest with evil people, which is why even Jesus simply ignored evil people trying to entrap Him at times. (Matthew 26:63; 27:12; John 8:6) From a government standpoint, always speaking truthfully will result in betrayal by evil people who use espionage, allowing for the downfall of good governments unless they fight back through counter-espionage. Even righteous people in the Bible used lies and deception to avoid danger from those they considered wicked. (cp. Genesis 12:13-20; 20:1-13; 26:6-11; 34:13-26; Judges 4:19-21; 1 Samuel 21:13)

So how then can the two concepts be reconciled? False witness in Exodus 20:16 involved more than just dishonesty but distorting the truth when testifying legally (as in court of law) to harm the innocent and pervert justice. (cp. Deuteronomy 19:16-19; Exodus 23:1-8) The condemnation was not for occasional dishonesty, but using that dishonesty to destroy others without a cause. (Proverbs 3:30) As for Proverbs 12:22, lying lips are those which lie habitually to harm others without a cause, as contrasted with those that deal truthfully. (cp. Psalms 31:18,13; Proverbs 10:18; 17:7; Psalms 120:2-4) However, even righteous, ordinarily truthful people in the Bible had, at times, to use deception to avoid the traps of the wicked, as mentioned previously.

Verse 20[edit | hide]

TheThinkingAtheist.com claims the Bible is wrong about the following passage, and makes the following comments:[7]

Notice that Jesus nowhere contradicts the commandment to honor one's parents, He simply prophesies that because of Christianity division of families will occur where the families of Christians persecute them. In other words, this has nothing to do with a commandment, but rather Jesus prophesying that Christians would be put to death for their belief in Him. Had TheThinkingAtheist.com observed the passage's context, they would have noticed this, e.g. the verses immediately preceding Matthew 10:35-37:

When read in context with proper reading comprehension it is very obvious Jesus was never saying one shouldn't honor their parents, but warning His disciples they would be put to death for believing in Him, see especially Matthew 10:22 which sums it up, "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved." Jesus told His disciples to flee into other cities if persecuted (v. 23), told them "the disciple is not above his master" and if they hated Jesus they'll hate His followers also (vv. 24-25), that Christians should not fear those who can kill the body but not the soul (v. 28), that God watches over even the number of hairs on our heads (vv.30-31), and that those who deny Jesus under such persecution He will deny, and those who confess Him He will confess. (vv. 32-33)

The entire chapter, read in context, shows the subject was persecution Christians would endure, even from their own families, and certainly not a commandment to disobey one's parents and one of the 10 commandments. Jesus elsewhere reaffirmed that children should honor their parents, see also Matthew 19:19; Mark 7:10, and 10:19.

Sources[edit | hide]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Seidensticker, P. (2018, October 20). "Top 20 Most Damning Bible Contradictions." Patheos.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Barker, D. (2019). "Bible Contradictions." FFRF.
  3. Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius (2019). "Hebrew Lexicon Entry for Pecel." BibleStudyTools.
    Strong's Hebrew Lexicon (2019). "Lexicon: Strong's H6459 - Pecel." BlueLetterBible.
  4. Geisler, N. & Howe, T. (1992). "Exodus 25:18FF-If it is Wrong to Make Graven Images, Why Did God Command Moses to Make One?" In "When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties." Defending Inerrancy.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 N.a. (2019). "Biblical Contradictions? American Atheists.
  6. Meritt, Jim (1992). A list of Biblical contradictions. Retrieved from http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Bible Contradictions. TheThinkingAtheist.
  8. GotQuestions.org. Are children punished for the sins of their fathers? Retrieved from http://www.gotquestions.org/parents-sin.html.
  9. Thiefe, Chris. Biblical Contradictions. EvilBible.com.
  10. Morgan, Donald. Bible Inconsistencies: Bible Contradictions? Internet Infidels.
  11. Brown, Driver, Briggs, and Gesenius (2019). "Ratsach." BibleStudyTools.
  12. Marlow, Andy (2009). Contradictions in the Bible. Project Reason.
  13. Scofield, C.I. (2006). The Scofield Study Bible III. p. 1145. Oxford University Press.
  14. Ridenour, Edward (2011, January 17). God Told Hosea To Do What? The Christian Post.