ABC:Joshua 22

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Verse 1

The ReasonProject lists the following as a Bible contradiction with the headline "Who was Achan's father?"[1]

Joshua 7:1 But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel.

Joshua 7:24 And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor.

Joshua 22:20 Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? and that man perished not alone in his iniquity.

Actually this is an excellent example showing the ancient Hebrew word ben translated son is not a direct match for our English version, and could refer to grandchildren as well. Note Joshua 7:1, it says that Achan was the son (Hebrew ben[2]) of Carmi, Zabdi, and Zerah. This wouldn't make sense in modern English usage, but the ancient Hebrew word fit perfectly. Achan was descended from all 3, and in order he was the son of Carmi, the grandson of Zabdi, and the great-grandson of Zerah, ultimately descended from Judah.

"There simply is no way of knowing how many times in the Bible the terms 'son(s)' and 'daughter(s)' are used to mean grandchildren, great-grandchildren, or some other descendant. After reading Genesis 29:5, one might think that Laban was the son of Nahor, but Genesis 24 explains that he actually was Nahor’s grandson (24:24,29; cf. 22:20-24). Consider also Mephibosheth. He is called the 'son of Saul' in 2 Samuel 19:24, when actually he was 'the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul' (2 Samuel 9:6; 4:4). He literally was Saul’s grandson, though Scripture refers to him once simply as 'son of Saul.'"

-Eric Lyons, Apologetics Press[3]

Achan's full genealogy was also repeated in Genesis 7:18 as well. However, it was wordy to keep calling him that, so at other times he is just referred to as the son of a well-known ancestor, Zerah. C.S. Lewis' well-known book series Narnia imitated the Biblical style, referring to humans as "sons of Adam" and "daughters of Eve," the Bible word translated son simply had a broader meaning than our English word does.

Sources

  1. Marlow, Andy (2009). Contradictions in the Bible. Project Reason.
  2. Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius. Hebrew Lexicon entry for Ben. The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon.]
  3. Lyons, Eric (2004). Who was Abijah's Grandfather? Apologetics Press.