In my previous post, I showed that the New International Version, (hereafter, the "NIV") can be used to show that there are flaws in the Bible. In this post, I will show that another discrepancy exists in the Hebrew Bible, regarding the fighting men of Israel. If any would-be apologist for biblical inerrancy would like to dispute what I am about to demonstrate, I will be happy to respond with the best evidence that I know of showing that a discrepancy really does exist. So what is this discrepancy? The discrepancy is that in a few passages, the fighting men of Israel who left Egypt all died in the desert, leaving none alive forty years later, as the Hebrews were about to enter into the land promised to them while other passages show that the fighting men who left Israel were alive and well, forty years later and were about to enter the land promised to them.
According to a number of passages in Numbers, Moses and Aaron were commanded to take a census of all of the fighting men of Israel, twenty years and older, and because they rebelled against Moses and Aaron. Therefore, Yahweh promised that all of the men counted in the census would die in the desert and after they had all died, a new census of fighting men was taken. None of the fighting men counted in the first census would live forty years later and would be allowed to enter into the promised land. Certain passages in Deuteronomy show, to the contrary, that the fighting men of Israel were alive and well, forty years later, and were about to enter the promised land.
To begin with, the number of fighting men of Israel was counted in the first census and the total number of men in the census was 603,550. This can be shown by examining the first chapter of Numbers. In Numbers 1:1-54, we read:
The Lord spoke to Moses in the tent of meeting in the Desert of Sinai on the first day of the second month of the second year after the Israelites came out of Egypt. He said: 2 “Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one. 3 You and Aaron are to count according to their divisions all the men in Israel who are twenty years old or more and able to serve in the army. 4 One man from each tribe, each of them the head of his family, is to help you. 5 These are the names of the men who are to assist you:
26 From the descendants of Judah:
54 The Israelites did all this just as the Lord commanded Moses.
1.) The tribe of Reuben: 46, 500.
2.) The tribe of Simeon: 59, 300.
3.) The tribe of God: 45, 650.
4.) The tribe of Judah: 74, 600.
5.) The tribe of Issachar: 54, 400.
6.) The tribe of Zebulun: 57, 400.
7.) The tribe of Ephraim: 40, 500.
8.) The tribe of Manasseh: 32, 200.
9.) The tribe of Benjamin: 35, 400.
10.) The tribe of Dan: 62, 700.
11.) The tribe of Asher: 41, 500.
12.) The tribe of Naphtali: 53, 400.
The sum total of all of these numbers is: 603, 550. To see why this is important, we need to view a few more passages from the book of Numbers. The next is Numbers 13: 1-33:
The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”
3 So at the Lord’s command Moses sent them out from the Desert of Paran. All of them were leaders of the Israelites. 4 These are their names:
21 So they went up and explored the land from the Desert of Zin as far as Rehob, toward Lebo Hamath. 22 They went up through the Negev and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, lived. (Hebron had been built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) 23 When they reached the Valley of Eshkol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs. 24 That place was called the Valley of Eshkol because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut off there. 25 At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land;
26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”
30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”
A few facts are evident from this passage. First, the men who go into the promised land bring back a report to Moses, Aaron, and the whole Israelite community and showed them the fruit that they had gotten from the land. Second, as evident from verse 28, they say that the people of the land are powerful, and the cities very large and fortified and then go onto list some of the people there, including the descendants of Anak. Third, Caleb tells the people that they should up and take possession of the land. Forth, the men who went into the land discourage everyone by saying that the people are stronger and cannot be attacked and this bad report spreads throughout the community.
To see what happens next, we need to read Numbers 14: 1-38:
5 Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there.
6 Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 8 If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. 9 Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”
10 But the whole assembly talked about stoning them. Then the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites. 11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them? 12 I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.”
13 Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them. 14 And they will tell the inhabitants of this land about it. They have already heard that you, Lord, are with these people and that you, Lord, have been seen face to face, that your cloud stays over them, and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. 15 If you put all these people to death, leaving none alive, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, 16 ‘The Lord was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath, so he slaughtered them in the wilderness.’
17 “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: 18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’ 19 In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”
20 The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked. 21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, 22 not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times— 23 not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. 24 But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it. 25 Since the Amalekites and the Canaanites are living in the valleys, turn back tomorrow and set out toward the desert along the route to the Red Sea.”
26 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 27 “How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites. 28 So tell them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Lord, I will do to you the very thing I heard you say: 29 In this wilderness your bodies will fall—every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me. 30 Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. 31 As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected. 32 But as for you, your bodies will fall in this wilderness. 33 Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the wilderness. 34 For forty years—one year for each of the forty days you explored the land—you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.’ 35 I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will surely do these things to this whole wicked community, which has banded together against me. They will meet their end in this wilderness; here they will die.”
36 So the men Moses had sent to explore the land, who returned and made the whole community grumble against him by spreading a bad report about it— 37 these men who were responsible for spreading the bad report about the land were struck down and died of a plague before the Lord.
38 Of the men who went to explore the land, only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh survived.
From this passage, a few facts are evident. first, the community wept that night and all of the Israelites grumbled against Moses and want to elect a new leader to take them back to Egypt. Second, both Joshua (the son of Nun) and Caleb (the son of Jephunneh) discourage them from wanting to rebel against Moses and Aaron and choosing a new leader to take them back to Egypt and, instead, encourage them to go into the promised land because Yahweh is on their side; the enemies are no match for them. Third, the whole community talks about stoning Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb, and so Yahweh then tells Moses that he will strike them down with a plague and make Moses the patriarch of a new nation. Forth, Yahweh then decides that even though he has forgiven the Hebrews for rebelling, all of the men who saw the signs that he performed in Egypt will not live to see the land (in verse 22) with the exception of Caleb.
Next, Yahweh states that (in verse 29) all of the Hebrew men (twenty years and older) who were counted in the census, will all fall to their deaths, except Joshua and Caleb. Last, all of the men counted in the census will die, each and every one of them, for forty years, will all die and none of the men, who saw the miraculous signs of Yahweh and were counted in the census, will live to enter the land promised to them.
After all of the Hebrews that were counted in the first census died, Yahweh commanded Moses and Eleazar to take a new census; this time, they were on the plains of Moab, by the Jordan, across from Jericho. In Numbers 26: 1-65, we read:
28 The descendants of Joseph by their clans through Manasseh and Ephraim were:
A few facts are evident from this passage. First, Yahweh instructs Moses and Eleazar to conduct another census and it's of the same type: of fighting men, twenty years and older. Second, all of the sums of each tribe are given below:
1.) The tribe of Reuben: 43, 730.
2.) The tribe of Simeon: 22, 200.
3.) The tribe of Gad: 40, 500.
4.) The tribe of Judah: 76, 500.
5.) The tribe of Issachar: 64, 300.
6.) The tribe of Zebulun: 60, 500.
7.) The tribe of Ephraim: 32, 500.
8.) The tribe of Manasseh: 52, 700.
9.) The tribe of Benjamin: 45, 600.
10.) The tribe of Dan: 64, 400.
11.) The tribe of Asher: 53, 400.
12.) The tribe of Naphtali: 45, 400.
The sum total of all of these numbers is 601, 730, which is exactly what is recorded in verse 51 from this passage.
Lastly, according to verse 63, these men, all 601, 730, are the ones counted on the plains of Moab; not one of them was among those counted by Moses and Aaron earlier at Sinai. Yahweh told those Hebrews that they would die in the wilderness and not one of them was left except Caleb and Joshua.
So from this, we can only conclude that all of the Hebrews counted in the first census perished and none of them were left except for Joshua and Caleb, and that these Hebrews in the census were those who were in Egypt and saw the miraculous signs that had been performed. However, there are other passages, from Deuteronomy, that show that these fighting men were not dead, forty years later, but were alive and ready to enter the land promised to them. To show this, the first passage we need to look at comes from Deuteronomy. In Deuteronomy 7: 12-19, we read:
17 You may say to yourselves, “These nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out?”
18 But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt. 19 You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which the Lord your God brought you out. The Lord your God will do the same to all the peoples you now fear. 20 Moreover, the Lord your God will send the hornet among them until even the survivors who hide from you have perished. 21 Do not be terrified by them, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God. 22 The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you. 23 But the Lord your God will deliver them over to you, throwing them into great confusion until they are destroyed. 24 He will give their kings into your hand, and you will wipe out their names from under heaven. No one will be able to stand up against you; you will destroy them. 25 The images of their gods you are to burn in the fire. Do not covet the silver and gold on them, and do not take it for yourselves, or you will be ensnared by it, for it is detestable to the Lord your God. 26 Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Regard it as vile and utterly detest it, for it is set apart for destruction.
A couple of facts are evident from this passage. First of all, Deuteronomy, as a whole, is supposedly given to all of the Hebrews while Moses is on the plains of Moab, forty years after the Hebrews supposedly left Egypt. Second, according to verse 19, the Hebrews whom God is having Moses address, saw with their own eyes the "great trials", "signs and wonders" that God did in bringing them out of Egypt and now Yahweh was promising to do it again as they entered into the land promised to them. But do we have definitive evidence that the Hebrews being addressed here are, in fact, the same Hebrews who left Egypt and saw the miraculous signs?
The answer is yes! To see the evidence, let's look at another passage, again from Deuteronomy 11: 1-12:
Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always. 2 Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the Lord your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm; 3 the signs he performed and the things he did in the heart of Egypt, both to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his whole country; 4 what he did to the Egyptian army, to its horses and chariots, how he overwhelmed them with the waters of the Red Sea as they were pursuing you, and how the Lord brought lasting ruin on them. 5 It was not your children who saw what he did for you in the wilderness until you arrived at this place, 6 and what he did to Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab the Reubenite, when the earth opened its mouth right in the middle of all Israel and swallowed them up with their households, their tents and every living thing that belonged to them. 7 But it was your own eyes that saw all these great things the Lord has done.
8 Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 9 and so that you may live long in the land the Lord swore to your ancestors to give to them and their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10 The land you are entering to take over is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you planted your seed and irrigated it by foot as in a vegetable garden. 11 But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. 12 It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.
Second, it is the same people who saw all these signs with their own eyes that are entering the land to take over; it's not their children who are entering the land but them. This is strong evidence that the same Hebrews who were in Egypt, forty years prior, who saw the miraculous signs that Yahweh performed in Egypt, were the same Hebrews who were alive, forty years later, and about to enter into the promised land.
The best evidence, however, comes from Deuteronomy 29: 1-18:
These are the terms of the covenant the Lord commanded Moses to make with the Israelites in Moab, in addition to the covenant he had made with them at Horeb.
2 Moses summoned all the Israelites and said to them:
9 Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do. 10 All of you are standing today in the presence of the Lord your God—your leaders and chief men, your elders and officials, and all the other men of Israel, 11 together with your children and your wives, and the foreigners living in your camps who chop your wood and carry your water. 12 You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with the Lord your God, a covenant the Lord is making with you this day and sealing with an oath, 13 to confirm you this day as his people, that he may be your God as he promised you and as he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 14 I am making this covenant, with its oath, not only with you 15 who are standing here with us today in the presence of the Lord our God but also with those who are not here today.
16 You yourselves know how we lived in Egypt and how we passed through the countries on the way here. 17 You saw among them their detestable images and idols of wood and stone, of silver and gold. 18 Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the Lord our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison
This establishes a discrepancy. In the passage from Numbers 14:20-35, we read that Yahweh promised that all of the men from the census, which are those who saw the miraculous signs of Yahweh, would not enter the promised land and that every one of them would die in the desert, one by one, for forty years, until they all perished and now, in Deuteronomy 29: 1-18, we now see that all of the men from the first census, who saw the miraculous signs of Yahweh, are alive and well and are entering the promised land. Thus Numbers 14: 20-35 contradicts Deuteronomy 29: 1-18. We know from the other passages in Numbers that all of the men counted in the first census did in fact die and no one survived except Joshua and Caleb and we know from the other passages quoted from Deuteronomy that the Hebrews being addressed saw the miraculous signs with their own eyes, not their children's eyes, and that Moses was recalling the events that occurred on the plains of Moab, forty years after the Hebrews left Egypt.
Another discrepancy in the Bible has been established.