ABC:Genesis 4

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Verse 22

The ReasonProject lists the following as a Bible contradiction with the headline "How many sons did Abraham have?"[1]

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[2]) 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 26

Don Morgan's list at Infidels claims this is a contradiction and makes the following comments (italicized).[3]

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[4]

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?'"[5] 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.[6]

Sources

  1. Marlow, Andy (2009). Contradictions in the Bible. Project Reason.
  2. Thayer and Smith. Greek Lexicon entry for Monogenes. The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon.
  3. Morgan, Donald. Bible Inconsistencies: Bible Contradictions? Internet Infidels.
  4. Scofield, C.I. (2006). The Scofield Study Bible III. pp. 92-93. Oxford University Press.
  5. Morris, Henry M. Exodus 6:3 Was I Not Known. Institute for Creation Research.
  6. Lyons, Eric (2006). Did the Patriarchs Know Jehovah by Name? Apologetics Press.