ABC:Isaiah 40

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Verse 22

Infidels.org claims the Bible is wrong about the shape of the Earth given the following verses and explanation by Meritt (italicized):[1]

Isaiah 40:22 It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:

Matthew 4:8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

Astronomical bodies are spherical, and you cannot see the entire exterior surface from anyplace. The kingdoms of Egypt, China, Greece, Crete, sections of Asia Minor, India, Maya (in Mexico), Carthage (North Africa), Rome (Italy), Korea, and other settlements from these kingdoms of the world were widely distributed.

First of all, "circle" is the English KJV translation of the Hebrew word "chuwg", and carries the idea of a circuit - it's used just 3 times in the Bible (the others being Job 22:14 and Proverbs 8:27).[2] Its word origin is another word called "chuwg" that is used only once in the Bible in Job 26:10 and is translated "compassed" or "completely surrounded."[3] That word's origin is the Hebrew "chagag" which means holidays, festivals, or feasts held regularly in constant succession.[4]

At any rate, as ChristianAnswers.net points out, there is plenty of room for debate whether so rarely used a word means circle or sphere. As Paul Taylor of ChristianAnswers also points out, the Bible thousands of years before was dead on in claiming the universe or heavens are expanding, a fact that has been verified by recent astronomy.[5] Critics of the Bible are of course quick to try and claim the word means circle rather than sphere, when in reality there is no clear reason for doing so.

Secondly, Matthew 4:8 never says it was because of the mountain's height that Jesus could be shown all the kingdoms of the world. While such a naturalistic explanation might be considered inferred, it is quite possibly an incorrect assumption on the part of Jim Meritt to make. Other possibilities include a supernatural vision of all the world's kingdoms there. We simply aren't told, and to prove a definite contradiction in the Bible, one should certainly not resort to putting words in its mouth as Meritt does here.

Verse 28

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

God is tired and rests

Exodus 31:17 It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.

God is never tired and never rests

Isaiah 40:28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

This is actually a really tough claim to address, not because of the passages in question, but because of the subject. If Exodus 31:17 were the only passage on this subject it would be easily addressed, since Exodus 31, as pointed out by Probe Ministries, just says that God rested, not that He was necessarily tired.[7] God may, after all, have only rested to serve as a pattern for later creations such as mankind - Jesus even went so far as to say God made the Sabbath or 7th day of rest for man's benefit:

Mark 2:27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:

That being said though, there are actually a number of other passages that mention God being weary including Isaiah 1:14, 7:13, 15:6, 43:24, and Malachi 2:17. Therefore I see two possibilities:

1. Isaiah 40:28 was just referring to physical weariness, which God is never said to be. In each case it refers to God being spiritually grieved or wearied at mankind's sinfulness, rather than actual physical exhaustion. As observed by Probe, "The idea is not that God is 'tired' in the sense of 'fatigued.' Rather, God is weary of holding back His righteous judgment... These are not the words of a being who is tired in the sense of needing rest. These are the words of one who is tired of restraining His righteous judgment."[7]

2. A second possibility may be that the Isaiah 40:28 passage is actually getting mistranslated from the Hebrew. It is the only passage in the entire Bible that I am aware of to be translated as saying God does not get weary, after all. Reading the interlinear does not show any word translated "not" so perhaps the passage should actually read "Have you heard of the everlasting God Jehovah, Creator of the utmost parts of the Earth? Faint and weary, seek wisdom."

Isaiah 40:28 Hast thou not known <yada`>? hast thou not heard, <shama`> that the everlasting <`owlam> God, <'elohiym> the LORD, <Y@hovah> the Creator <bara'> of the ends <qatsah> of the earth, <'erets> fainteth <ya`aph> not, neither is weary <yaga`>? there is no searching <cheqer> of his understanding. <tabuwn>

In other words, rather than referring to God, the words could be a directive to those who are faint and weary to seek God's wisdom. Using PowerBible CD, the interlinear does not show any words in the passage translated "not" or "neither" so perhaps those are specific to later manuscripts, an error that crept in? If so, checking the oldest manuscripts for Isaiah such as the Great Isaiah Scroll might reveal that the passage is just being slightly mistranslated, and never said God does not grow weary.

Sources

  1. Meritt, Jim (1992). A list of Biblical contradictions. Retrieved from http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html.
  2. Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius. Hebrew Lexicon entry for Chuwg. The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon. Retrieved from http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/hebrew/kjv/chuwg-2.html.
  3. Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius. Hebrew Lexicon entry for Chuwg. The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon. Retrieved from http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/hebrew/kjv/chuwg.html.
  4. Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius. Hebrew Lexicon entry for Chagag. The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon. Retrieved from http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/hebrew/kjv/chagag.html.
  5. Taylor, Paul S. (1997). Did Bible writers believe the earth was flat? Films for Christ. Retrieved from http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/edn-c015.html.
  6. Thiefe, Chris. Biblical Contradictions. EvilBible.com.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Gleghorn, Michael. Help Me Understand These Bible Contradictions. Probe Ministries.