ABC:Genesis 22

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Verse 1

Jim Meritt of Infidels.org claims a contradiction exists and asks "[God] tempts?"[1]

Genesis 22:1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham.

James 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.

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:

Genesis 22:1 And it came to pass after <'achar> these things, <dabar> that God <'elohiym> did tempt <nacah> Abraham, <'Abraham> and said <'amar> unto him, Abraham: <'Abraham> and he said, <'amar> Behold, here I am.

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:

"05254. hon nacah, naw-saw'

a primitive root; to test; by implication, to attempt:--adventure, assay, prove, tempt, try." -Strong's Exhaustive Concordance[2]

"Strong's Number: 05254 Transliterated Word: Nacah Definition: 1) to test, try, prove, tempt, assay, put to the proof or test a) (Piel) 1) to test, try 2) to attempt, assay, try 3) to test, try, prove, tempt King James Word Usage - Total: 36 prove 20, tempt 12, assay 2, adventure 1, try 1" -The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon[3]

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:

Genesis 22:1 And it came to pass after <'achar> these things <dabar>, that God <'elohiym> did tempt <nacah> Abraham <'Abraham>, and said <'amar> unto him, Abraham <'Abraham>: and he said <'amar>, Behold, here I am.

Exodus 15:25 And he cried <tsa`aq> unto the LORD <Y@hovah>; and the LORD <Y@hovah> shewed <yarah> him a tree <`ets>, which when he had cast <shalak> into the waters <mayim>, the waters <mayim> were made sweet <mathaq>: there he made <suwm> for them a statute <choq> and an ordinance <mishpat>, and there he proved <nacah> them,

Exodus 16:4 Then said <'amar> the LORD <Y@hovah> unto Moses <Mosheh>, Behold, I will rain <matar> bread <lechem> from heaven <shamayim> for you; and the people <`am> shall go out <yatsa'> and gather <laqat> a certain rate <dabar> every day <yowm> <yowm>, that I may prove <nacah> them, whether they will walk <yalak> in my law <towrah>, or no.

Exodus 17:2 Wherefore the people <`am> did chide <riyb> with Moses <Mosheh>, and said <'amar>, Give <nathan> us water <mayim> that we may drink <shathah>. And Moses <Mosheh> said <'amar> unto them, Why chide <riyb> ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt <nacah> the LORD <Y@hovah>?

Exodus 17:7 And he called <qara'> the name <shem> of the place <maqowm> Massah <Maccah>, and Meribah <M@riybah>, because of the chiding <riyb> of the children <ben> of Israel <Yisra'el>, and because they tempted <nacah> the LORD <Y@hovah>, saying <'amar>, Is <yesh> the LORD <Y@hovah> among <qereb> us, or not?

Exodus 20:20 And Moses <Mosheh> said <'amar> unto the people <`am>, Fear <yare'> not: for God <'elohiym> is come <bow'> to <`abuwr> prove <nacah> you, and that his fear <yir'ah> may be before your faces <paniym>, that ye sin <chata'> not.

Numbers 14:22 Because all those men <'enowsh> which have seen <ra'ah> my glory <kabowd>, and my miracles <'owth>, which I did <`asah> in Egypt <Mitsrayim> and in the wilderness <midbar>, and have tempted <nacah> <'eth> me now these ten <`eser> times <pa`am>, and have not hearkened <shama`> to my voice <qowl>;

Deuteronomy 4:34 Or hath God <'elohiym> assayed <nacah> to go <bow'> and take <laqach> him a nation <gowy> from the midst <qereb> of another nation <gowy>, by temptations <maccah>, by signs <'owth>, and by wonders <mowpheth>, and by war <milchamah>, and by a mighty <chazaq> hand <yad>, and by a stretched out <natah> arm <z@rowa`>, and by great <gadowl> terrors <mowra'>, according to all that the LORD <Y@hovah> your God <'elohiym> did <`asah> for you in Egypt <Mitsrayim> before your eyes <`ayin>?

Deuteronomy 6:16 Ye shall not tempt <nacah> the LORD <Y@hovah> your God <'elohiym>, as ye tempted <nacah> him in Massah <Maccah>.

Deuteronomy 8:2 And thou shalt remember <zakar> all the way <derek> which the LORD <Y@hovah> thy God <'elohiym> led <yalak> thee these forty <'arba`iym> years <shaneh (in pl. only),> in the wilderness <midbar>, to humble <`anah> thee, and to prove <nacah> thee, to know <yada`> what was in thine heart <lebab>, whether thou wouldest keep <shamar> his commandments <mitsvah>, or no.

Deuteronomy 8:16 Who fed <'akal> thee in the wilderness <midbar> with manna <man>, which thy fathers <'ab> knew <yada`> not, that he might humble <`anah> thee, and that he might prove <nacah> thee, to do thee good <yatab> at thy latter end <'achariyth>;

Deuteronomy 13:3 Thou shalt not hearken <shama`> unto the words <dabar> of that prophet <nabiy'>, or that dreamer <chalam> of dreams <chalowm>: for the LORD <Y@hovah> your God <'elohiym> proveth <nacah> you, to know <yada`> whether ye <yesh> love <'ahab> the LORD <Y@hovah> your God <'elohiym> with all your heart <lebab> and with all your soul <nephesh>.

Deuteronomy 28:56 The tender <rak> and delicate <`anog> woman among you, which would not adventure <nacah> to set <yatsag> the sole <kaph> of her foot <regel> upon the ground <'erets> for delicateness <`anag> and tenderness <rok>, her eye <`ayin> shall be evil <yara`> toward the husband <'iysh> of her bosom <cheyq>, and toward her son <ben>, and toward her daughter <bath>,

Deuteronomy 33:8 And of Levi <Leviy> he said <'amar>, Let thy Thummim <Tummiym> and thy Urim <'Uwriym> be with thy holy <chaciyd> one <'iysh>, whom thou didst prove <nacah> at Massah <Maccah>, and with whom thou didst strive <riyb> at the waters <mayim> of Meribah <M@riybah>;

Judges 2:22 That through them I may prove <nacah> Israel <Yisra'el>, whether they will keep <shamar> the way <derek> of the LORD <Y@hovah> to walk <yalak> therein, as their fathers <'ab> did keep <shamar> it, or not.

Judges 3:1 Now these are the nations <gowy> which the LORD <Y@hovah> left <yanach>, to prove <nacah> Israel <Yisra'el> by them, even as many of Israel as had not known <yada`> all the wars <milchamah> of Canaan <K@na`an>;

Judges 3:4 And they were to prove <nacah> Israel <Yisra'el> by them, to know <yada`> whether they would hearken <shama`> unto the commandments <mitsvah> of the LORD <Y@hovah>, which he commanded <tsavah> their fathers <'ab> by the hand <yad> of Moses <Mosheh>.

Judges 6:39 And Gideon <Gid`own> said <'amar> unto God <'elohiym>, Let not thine anger <'aph> be hot <charah> against me, and I will speak <dabar> but this once <pa`am>: let me prove <nacah>, I pray thee, but this once <pa`am> with the fleece <gazzah>; let it now be dry <choreb> only upon the fleece <gazzah>, and upon all the ground <'erets> let there be dew <tal>.

1 Samuel 17:39 And David <David> girded <chagar> his sword <chereb> upon his armour <mad>, and he assayed <ya'al> to go <yalak>; for he had not proved <nacah> it. And David <David> said <'amar> unto Saul <Sha'uwl>, I cannot <yakol> go <yalak> with these; for I have not proved <nacah> them. And David <David> put <cuwr> them off him.

1 Kings 10:1 And when the queen <malkah> of Sheba <Sh@ba'> heard <shama`> of the fame <shema`> of Solomon <Sh@lomoh> concerning the name <shem> of the LORD <Y@hovah>, she came <bow'> to prove <nacah> him with hard questions <chiydah>.

2 Chronicles 9:1 And when the queen <malkah> of Sheba <Sh@ba'> heard <shama`> of the fame <shema`> of Solomon <Sh@lomoh>, she came <bow'> to prove <nacah> Solomon <Sh@lomoh> with hard questions <chiydah> at Jerusalem <Y@ruwshalaim>, with a very <m@`od> great <kabed> company <chayil>, and camels <gamal> that bare <nasa'> spices <besem>, and gold <zahab> in abundance <rob>, and precious <yaqar> stones <'eben>: and when she was come <bow'> to Solomon <Sh@lomoh>, she communed <dabar> with him of all that was in her heart <lebab>.

2 Chronicles 32:31 Howbeit <ken> in the business of the ambassadors <luwts> of the princes <sar> of Babylon <Babel>, who sent <shalach> unto him to enquire <darash> of the wonder <mowpheth> that was done in the land <'erets>, God <'elohiym> left <`azab> him, to try <nacah> him, that he might know <yada`> all that was in his heart <lebab>.

Job 4:2 If we assay <nacah> to commune <dabar> with thee, wilt thou be grieved <la'ah>? but who can <yakol> withhold <`atsar> himself from speaking <millah>?

Psalms 26:2 Examine <bachan> me, O LORD <Y@hovah>, and prove <nacah> me; try <tsaraph> my reins <kilyah> and my heart <leb>.

Psalms 78:18 And they tempted <nacah> God <'el> in their heart <lebab> by asking <sha'al> meat <'okel> for their lust <nephesh>.

Psalms 78:41 Yea, they turned back <shuwb> and tempted <nacah> God <'el>, and limited <tavah> the Holy One <qadowsh> of Israel <Yisra'el>.

Psalms 78:56 Yet they tempted <nacah> and provoked <marah> the most high <'elyown> God <'elohiym>, and kept <shamar> not his testimonies <`edah>:

Psalms 95:9 When your fathers <'ab> tempted <nacah> me, proved <bachan> me, and saw <ra'ah> my work <po`al>.

Psalms 106:14 But lusted <'avah> exceedingly <ta'avah> in the wilderness <midbar>, and tempted <nacah> God <'el> in the desert <y@shiymown>.

Ecclesiastes 2:1 I said <'amar> in mine heart <leb>, Go to now <yalak>, I will prove <nacah> thee with mirth <simchah>, therefore enjoy <ra'ah> pleasure <towb>: and, behold, this also is vanity <hebel>.

Ecclesiastes 7:23 All this <zoh> have I proved <nacah> by wisdom <chokmah>: I said <'amar>, I will be wise <chakam>; but it was far <rachowq> from me.

Isaiah 7:12 But Ahaz <'Achaz> said <'amar>, I will not ask <sha'al>, neither will I tempt <nacah> <'eth> the LORD <Y@hovah>.

Daniel 1:12 Prove <nacah> thy servants <`ebed>, I beseech thee, ten <`eser> days <yowm>; and let them give <nathan> us pulse <zeroa`> to eat <'akal>, and water <mayim> to drink <shathah>.

Daniel 1:14 So he consented <shama`> to them in this matter <dabar>, and proved <nacah> them ten <`eser> days <yowm>.

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:

Genesis 22:12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

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

The ReasonProject lists the following as a Bible contradiction with the headline "How many sons did Abraham have?"[4]

Hebrews 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,

James 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

Genesis 22:2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

Genesis 16:15 And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael.

Genesis 21:2 For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.
3 And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.

Genesis 25:1 Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah.
2 And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah.

Genesis 4:22 And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubalcain was Naamah.

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)

Genesis 21:9 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking.
10 Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.

Genesis 25:5 And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac.
6 But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country.

Galatians 4:1 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;

Galatians 4:7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Galatians 4:30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.

Genesis 24:36 And Sarah my master's wife bare a son to my master when she was old: and unto him hath he given all that he hath.

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[5]) 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

The EvilBible claims a contradiction exists here, and makes the following comments.[6]

God knows the hearts of men

Acts 1:24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,

Psalms 139:2-3 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

God tries men to find out what is in their heart (sic)

Deuteronomy 13:3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

Deuteronomy 8:2 And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.

Genesis 22:12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

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

Don Morgan's list at Infidels claims this is a contradiction and makes the following comments (italicized).[7]

God was already known as "the Lord" (Jahveh or Jehovah) much earlier than the time of Moses.

Genesis 2:4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,

Genesis 4:26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.

Genesis 12:8 And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD.

Genesis 22:14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.
15 ¶ And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,
16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:

Genesis 26:25 And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the LORD, and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac's servants digged a well.

God was first known as "the Lord" (Jahveh or Jehovah) at the time of the Egyptian Bondage, during the life of Moses.

Exodus 6:2 And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD:
3 And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.

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

(1) The statement, 'by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them' can also be translated as a rhetorical question, 'By my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them?'
(2) In the O.T. the verb 'to know' generally means far more than to have an intellectual knowledge. There are many instances of this, such as Amos 3:2: 'You only have I known of all the families of the earth.'
(3) The patriarchs were familiar with the name Jehovah, but their experience of God was largely that of Him as El-Shaddai (compare Gen. 17:1, note), the One who provided for all their needs. Here in Ex. 6:3 God tells Moses that He is now about to be revealed in that aspect of His character signified by Jehovah - that is, His covenant-relation to Israel as the One who redeems her from sin and delivers her from Egypt (compare vv. 6-8).
(4) Actually there is no contrast in Ex. 6:3 between Elohim and Jehovah, the names in this text being El-Shaddai and Jehovah.

-The Scofield Study Bible III, Oxford University Press[8]

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?'"[9] 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.[10]

Sources

  1. Meritt, Jim (1992). A list of Biblical contradictions. Retrieved from http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html.
  2. Strong, James (2009). Strong's Exhaustive Concordance to the Bible. Retrieved from http://biblesuite.com/strongs/hebrew/5254.htm.
  3. Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius. Hebrew Lexicon entry for Nacah. The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon. Retrieved from http://biblesuite.com/strongs/hebrew/5254.htm and http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=H5254.
  4. Marlow, Andy (2009). Contradictions in the Bible. Project Reason.
  5. Thayer and Smith. Greek Lexicon entry for Monogenes. The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon.
  6. Thiefe, Chris. Biblical Contradictions. EvilBible.com.
  7. Morgan, Donald. Bible Inconsistencies: Bible Contradictions? Internet Infidels.
  8. Scofield, C.I. (2006). The Scofield Study Bible III. pp. 92-93. Oxford University Press.
  9. Morris, Henry M. Exodus 6:3 Was I Not Known. Institute for Creation Research.
  10. Lyons, Eric (2006). Did the Patriarchs Know Jehovah by Name? Apologetics Press.