This blog has been arguing for and attempting to demonstrate flaws in the Bible. What is really helpful in demonstrating that flaws, such as discrepancies, exist is when the flaws exist in versions of the Bible published by conservative Christians such as the New International Version or the New American Standard Bible, which strive for accuracy from the original texts. For skeptics like myself, it's a good indication that a flaw really did exist in the autographs because while some Bible translators may be tempted to deliberately mistranslate a passage to hide something embarrassing from readers, it's very doubtful that they would deliberately mistranslate a passage in the Bible resulting in an actual error of some sort. That is why Bibles like the NIV, the NASB, and the Christian Holman Standard are often quoted on this blog.
The NIV, for example, contains a number of passages that are, arguably, mistranslated because the translators, being committed conservative Evangelicals, wanted to hide or distort the meaning of passage because it contains an error or information that is damaging to the inerrancy doctrine. Examples will be considered on this blog. However, when a passage has been translated that results in an error, readers can be confident that such a passage was accurately translated because translation teams would never deliberately mistranslate any passage that would result in an error if no such error existed in the autographs. Why dishonor God and his inerrant word like that?
A number of blog posts will quote the NIV in demonstrating that a flaw exists in the Bible. In this post, a discrepancy will be shown to exist between two accounts in the Hebrew Bible regarding a census taken by the ancient Hebrew king David. According to the passages below, David did something horribly wrong: he numbered the fighting men of Israel and Judah and because God disapproved of his act, God sent a plague that lasted a few days until David confessed his sin and asked God to stop. The two passages to be examined come from 2nd Samuel 24 and 1st Chronicles 21. According to 2 Samuel 24: 1-17, we read:
Again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.”
2 So the king said to Joab and the army commanders with him, “Go throughout the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and enroll the fighting men, so that I may know how many there are.”
3 But Joab replied to the king, “May the Lord your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?”
4 The king’s word, however, overruled Joab and the army commanders; so they left the presence of the king to enroll the fighting men of Israel.
5 After crossing the Jordan, they camped near Aroer, south of the town in the gorge, and then went through Gad and on to Jazer. 6 They went to Gilead and the region of Tahtim Hodshi, and on to Dan Jaan and around toward Sidon. 7 Then they went toward the fortress of Tyre and all the towns of the Hivites and Canaanites. Finally, they went on to Beersheba in the Negev of Judah.
8 After they had gone through the entire land, they came back to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.
9 Joab reported the number of the fighting men to the king: In Israel there were eight hundred thousand able-bodied men who could handle a sword, and in Judah five hundred thousand.
10 David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.”
11 Before David got up the next morning, the word of the Lord had come to Gad the prophet, David’s seer: 12 “Go and tell David, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.’”
13 So Gad went to David and said to him, “Shall there come on you three years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land? Now then, think it over and decide how I should answer the one who sent me.”
14 David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.”
15 So the Lord sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the end of the time designated, and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beersheba died. 16 When the angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, the Lord relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was afflicting the people, “Enough! Withdraw your hand.” The angel of the Lord was then at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
17 When David saw the angel who was striking down the people, he said to the Lord, “I have sinned; I, the shepherd, have done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall on me and my family.”
A few facts are evident from this passage. First, notice that it is Yahweh's anger that burns against Israel. Second, notice that verse one says of Yahweh, that "he incited David against them, saying...". In other words, Yahweh incited David against Israel and Yahweh told David to count the fighting men of Israel and Judah. Third, David was conscience-stricken and realizes that he has sinned and the census was very foolish. This is despite David being commanded by Yahweh to do it. Forth, After the plague was sent, David confesses his sin to God and complains of the injustice of the plague.
However, in 1st Chronicles, we read of a different take on this story. in 1st Chronicles 21: 1-17, we read:
4 The king’s word, however, overruled Joab; so Joab left and went throughout Israel and then came back to Jerusalem. 5 Joab reported the number of the fighting men to David: In all Israel there were one million one hundred thousand men who could handle a sword, including four hundred and seventy thousand in Judah.
6 But Joab did not include Levi and Benjamin in the numbering, because the king’s command was repulsive to him. 7 This command was also evil in the sight of God; so he punished Israel.
8 Then David said to God, “I have sinned greatly by doing this. Now, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.”
9 The Lord said to Gad, David’s seer, 10 “Go and tell David, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.’”
11 So Gad went to David and said to him, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Take your choice: 12 three years of famine, three months of being swept away before your enemies, with their swords overtaking you, or three days of the sword of the Lord—days of plague in the land, with the angel of the Lord ravaging every part of Israel.’ Now then, decide how I should answer the one who sent me.”
13 David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into human hands.”
14 So the Lord sent a plague on Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell dead. 15 And God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem. But as the angel was doing so, the Lord saw it and relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was destroying the people, “Enough! Withdraw your hand.” The angel of the Lord was then standing at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
16 David looked up and saw the angel of the Lord standing between heaven and earth, with a drawn
sword in his hand extended over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell facedown.
17 David said to God, “Was it not I who ordered the fighting men to be counted? I, the shepherd, have sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Lord my God, let your hand fall on me and my family, but do not let this plague remain on your people."
A few facts are evident from this passage. First, it is Satan and not Yahweh who incited David to take the census. Second, in verse seven, we learn that this command was evil in the sight of God. Third, we learn from this passage that God punished Israel because of what David did, and David later complains because of the injustice, in verse 17. David acknowledges his wrong-doing in both verse eight and 17 and protests because God is gratuitously punishing the Hebrews.
A few facts can be inferred from these passages quoted above. First, a discrepancy exists. In 2 Samuel 24, it is God who orders David to sin by having him take the census and in 1 Chronicles 21, Satan has David take the census. This seems confirmed by the fact that, in 1 Chronicles 21:7, God considered the command to be evil. The conclusion is that God commanded David to sin. Third, instead of punishing David for having committed the sin, God takes the punishment out on the innocent people of Israel. According to both passages, 70,000 Hebrews died for something they didn't deserve.
Believers, of course, will argue that no discrepancy exists. They will argue that both passages are true with respect to Yahweh and Satan. God permissively willed Satan to command David to take the census but didn't approve of David's sin in doing so. But this isn't what the passages say. In 2 Samuel 24, it is Yahweh who verbally gives the command. In fact, in 1 Chronicles 21, Satan doesn't say anything. Rather he just incites David to take the census. And 1 Chronicles 21 says that God considered the command to be evil. So, God commanded David to do evil, which an all-good and morally perfect being cannot do.
What is just as bad is the problem of Yahweh's injustice; he inflicts suffering on innocent people who did nothing to deserve being killed in a plague. Why would an all-good and morally perfect being punish people for something they didn't do?
This is just one example of a discrepancy that can be demonstrated with the NIV. More posts will be made which show flaws exist in the Bible, using the NIV.