ABC:Genesis 22

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Verse 1 (American Atheists)[edit | hide | hide all]

American Atheists claims the Bible is wrong about the passage (and makes the following comments (italicized).[1]

God tests Christians to see what is in their hearts, not to tempt them to do evil, but to make them stronger for His kingdom and ensure they are loyal to Him. For a description of the difference between testing and tempting in the Bible, see the Scofield Study Bible III's note for James 1:14, which reads as follows: "1:14 Test/Tempt, Summary: The concept of testing or temptation is expressed in both the OT and NT not only by the words translated 'test' or 'tempt,' but also by the words rendered 'provoke,' 'snare,' 'trials,' etc. (e.g. Gen. 22:1; Ps. 7:9; 11:5; Luke 22:28; James 1:2; 1 Pet. 1:5; compare Job 31:27; Prov. 22:25; Is. 3:8.) The primary meaning is usually that of proving by testing, or testing under trial. Less frequently the sense is that of enticement or solicitation to evil (e.g. 1:13-14; Gen. 3:1-6; 2 Cor. 11:3-4)."[2]

Verse 1 (Infidels)[edit | hide]

Jim Meritt of claims a contradiction exists and asks "[God] tempts?"[3]

The explanation here is pretty straightforward, the KJV just chose a bad word for Genesis 22:1 in 'tempt,' the Hebrew word nacah is usually translated elsewhere as 'prove' meaning to test, try, or prove without the negative connotation of "tempt." The Hebrew Interlinear of the original text is as follows:

Nacah as seen from how it's used elsewhere in the Old Testament would be better translated as 'prove,' 'test,' or 'try.' The same word is most often translated by the KJV as 'prove' and had it been translated that way here would have removed the confusion. Definitions of the word according to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance and Thayer's are as follows:

The following is a list of the Interlinear for all 36 times in the Old Testament where nacah is used showing that its meaning is test, try, or prove; not tempt:

Many of the verses clearly show the word's correct translation is test/try, not tempt. See e.g. Exodus 16:4, 20:20; Deuteronomy 8:2,16, 13:3, 28:56; Judges 2:22, 3:4, 6:39; 1 Samuel 17:39; 2 Chronicles 32:31; Psalms 26:2; Ecclesiastes 2:1, 7:23; Daniel 1:12,14. The Scofield Reference Bible makes a similar point, see e.g. the notes for Genesis 22:1 and James 1:14.

At any rate, God was just testing Abraham to see what was in Abraham's heart, and whether Abraham would trust Him unconditionally. This is evident from v. 12:

God is said to do this same kind of testing repeatedly all through the Bible, see Exodus 16:4; Deuteronomy 8:2; Judges 2:22, 3:4; 2 Chronicles 32:31; Psalms 26:2.

Verse 2[edit | hide]

The ReasonProject lists the following as a Bible contradiction with the headline "How many sons did Abraham have?"[6]

It is very odd first of all that Genesis 4:22 is included here as a contradiction, I can only assume the chart designer made a typo here as the passage is entirely unrelated. They must have intended another passage but I can't figure out which one.

Regardless, the usage of the word "son" each time was in reference to an heir. This is apparent throughout both the Old and New Testaments. Sarah, because she was originally infertile, made the somewhat ill-advised decision to ask her maid to bear Abraham's children, which she quickly recognized had been a mistake afterward. (Genesis 16:1-6) Abraham had multiple children, but only one he considered "son" in the sense of being an heir. The other sons of Abraham were not considered sons but servants. (Galatians 4:30, Genesis 21:10) Thus, Abraham sent the illegitimate children away with gifts but the overall inheritance went to Isaac alone. (Genesis 25:5-6, 24:36)

It should also be pointed out that James does not say Abraham had only one son, and the book of Hebrews uses the phrase "only begotten" (Greek word monogenes[7]) to reference inheritance specifically.

As for Genesis 22:2, at the time Abraham had only two children, Isaac and Ishmael, and Ishmael had been sent away with Hagar for mocking Isaac (Genesis 21:9-21), effectively disinherited. Thus in Genesis 22 God referred to Abraham having only one son, given the disassociation of the other, and the fact that Isaac alone was considered an heir, the other a servant. Paul in Galatians 4 points to all of this, drawing a distinction between two covenants, the Law and that of faith, as symbolized by Ishmael and Isaac respectively.

Verse 12[edit | hide]

The EvilBible claims a contradiction exists here, and makes the following comments.[8]

Why the critic thinks there is a contradiction here I'm not sure. Yes, God knows the hearts of men, but this is because God tests them to find out what's in their hearts. They are compatible, not contradictory concepts. In fact, the quoted Psalms 139:2-3 even specifically indicates this by explaining that God knows our thoughts because He examines our paths while acquainting Himself with our ways.

Verse 14[edit | hide]

Don Morgan's list at Infidels claims this is a contradiction and makes the following comments (italicized).[9]

The Scofield Study Bible III makes some excellent points on this passage:

As pointed out by the Scofield, the key passage Exodus 6:3 can be translated from the original Hebrew as a rhetorical question, thus removing all claims of a contradiction here. Henry M. Morris of ICR concurs with this explanation: "The easiest resolution of the apparent contradiction is to regard the last clause as a rhetorical question (quite permissible in the Hebrew)– 'by my name JEHOVAH was I not (also) known to them?'"[11] The second possibility mentioned, that the expression "know Jehovah" referred to more than a simple awareness of His existence but rather an experiential relationship is argued by Apologetics Press apologist Eric Lyons.[12]

Sources[edit | hide]

  1. N.a. (2019). "Biblical Contradictions? American Atheists.
  2. Scofield, C.I. (2002). "Scofield Study Bible III." Oxford University Press.
  3. Meritt, Jim (1992). A list of Biblical contradictions. Retrieved from
  4. Strong, James (2009). Strong's Exhaustive Concordance to the Bible. Retrieved from
  5. Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius. Hebrew Lexicon entry for Nacah. The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon. Retrieved from and
  6. Marlow, Andy (2009). Contradictions in the Bible. Project Reason.
  7. Thayer and Smith. Greek Lexicon entry for Monogenes. The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon.
  8. Thiefe, Chris. Biblical Contradictions.
  9. Morgan, Donald. Bible Inconsistencies: Bible Contradictions? Internet Infidels.
  10. Scofield, C.I. (2006). The Scofield Study Bible III. pp. 92-93. Oxford University Press.
  11. Morris, Henry M. Exodus 6:3 Was I Not Known. Institute for Creation Research.
  12. Lyons, Eric (2006). Did the Patriarchs Know Jehovah by Name? Apologetics Press.