Saturday, 7 August 2010

Contradictions and Inconsistencies in the Pentateuch: Part I

I feel that I have not elaborated enough on this blog about my arch rival - Orthodox TMS. Although I have made general statements about my objections to it I have never bothered to expound on the nitty gritty of the subject. I think its about time for me to do this. So I would like to commence a "project" where I get into the details of the Chumash and analyze what I believe is the "untenability" of unified authorship. (We're not necessarily saying the DH yet, just not unified authorship)

I often mention in my various debates (blogosphere and real world) the fact that the Pentateuch is RIDDLED with inconsistencies. With so many inconsistencies and contradictions it is highly unlikely that one person (or one God whatever the case may be) wrote the whole thing. The believer invariably asks "Like what?" The average Orthodox believer doesn't even realize that there are any inconsistencies because s/he has been taught that the Torah is perfect and uniform and that all contradictions are not REALLY contradictions.

Therefore I've decided to compile a sort of list of contradictions between different bits of the Pentateuch so that I can reference it whenever anybody asks. I am fully aware that almost every contradiction and inconsistency that I will be referencing has been "dealt with" by traditional parshanut (Bible interpretation) or by Rabbinical interpretations. It is not my intent right now to explain why those ad hoc explanations don't help the basic problem, my intention at this stage is to merely show that these contradictions do exist and that they are formidable issues that any Bible scholar MUST deal with. (Some of the things I will cite are less problematic than others)

I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of the Torah (yet!) so please in the comments help me out and add anything I missed so that I can incorporate it into the list (and PLEASE correct any mistakes)

So let's begin with a list of inconsistencies and contradictions in the Pentateuch from Genesis (G) through Exodus (Ex)

1. G 1-2 Creation Accounts

Two creation accounts. In one the order of creation is plants, animals, man. In the other man, plants animals.

2. G 6:13 - 7:5 Noach and the Animals

God speaks to Noach twice about the impending deluge. In Chapter 6 he says generically to bring two of every animal while in Chapter 7 he differentiates between pure animals (7 of each) and impure animals (2 0f each)

3. G 21:31 Be'er Sheva

Be'er Sheva is named after the oath (shevua) between Avraham and Avimelech while in 26:33 it is named Be'er Sheva after an an oath between Yitzchak and Avimelech.

4. G 26:34 Esav's Wives

Esav takes two Hittite wives Yehudit Bat (daughter of) Be'eri and Basmat Bat Elon. He later takes an additional wife (28:9) Machalat daughter of Yishmael. However in the extensive geneaology of Esav's family in 36 no mention is made of Yehudit or Basmat and in their place are two women we've never heard of Ada Bat Elon (a Hittite) and Oholibama Bat Ana (a Hivite)

5. G 28:19 Bet El

Yaakov calls Luz Bet El because of the revelation he has on his way to Aram. However in 35:15 Yaakov "again" calls the place Bet El in commemoration of another revelation he has on his way back from Aram.

6. G 32:29 Yisrael

Yaakov wrestles with the man/angel and get called Yisrael. However later on in 35:10 God calls him Yisrael.

7. G 37:18-30 Sale of Yosef

The Sale of Yosef has a few plot holes. Reuven tells the brothers to chuck him in the pit in order to secretly save him. Then Yehuda comes up with the sale idea and no mention is made that Reuven was not present. Then Reuven comes to the pit and for some reason is surprised that Yosef is not there. Something fishy is going on. There is also A LOT of confusion about who sold to whom (Is it the Ishmaelites is it the Midianites etc.)

8. G 46:8-34 Genealogy

The genealogy of Yaakov's sons and grandson in Genesis differs in at least twenty places from the genealogy given in Numbers 26.

9. Ex 6:2 YHWH

God says he never made his name YHWH known to the Avot. However we explicitly find God calling himself YHWH when he talks to the avot is various places. (One example is Yaakov and the ladder story where God rather explicitly says "I am YHWH")

10. Ex 12:8-9 The Pesach Offering

The laws of the Pesach offering. Here it must cannot be boiled in water and must be cooked. In Deuteronomy (15) it is just to be generically "cooked". Also here the Pesach has to be a lamb while in Deuteronomy it can be from "sheep and cattle."


11. Ex: 18:13-27 Yitro's Advice


Moshe sets up a hierarchy of judges based on Yitro's advice. However in the first chapter of Deuteronomy he makes no mention of Yitro and it sounds as if he came to the decision all by himself.

12. Ex 20:11 Shabbat

Besides the fact that the Ten Commandments here differ in language from the ones in Deuteronomy we also have a rather conspicuous difference when it comes to Shabbat. The reason given for Shabbat here is to commemorate the seven days of creation. However in Deuteronomy 5:15 the reason given is to give our slaves a rest in commemoration of our slavery in Egypt.

13. Ex 21:2-6 Hebrew Slave

The laws of a Hebrew slave. No mention is made of rewarding the slave (ha'anaka) when he goes free as in Deuteronomy 15:13. Also here the slave is to serve for six years while in Leviticus 25:40 no mention is made of the six years and instead a new factor is mentioned i.e. the remission of slaves in the Jubilee year.


But don't take my word for it do your homework (and earn mitzva points for learning Torah!) and look everything up!

To be continued....

78 comments:

david a. said...

here are some possible additions to your budding collection.

RE: 10. Ex 12:8-9 The Pesach Offering

1. Exodus says the PO ritual was done at home. Deut. says only at the temple.
2. Exodus says day 1 of pesach was a day that work was of forbidden. Deut. says it was permitted.

3. Ex 13:2 First Born of Man and Animal

Seems Exod. holds that first born males of all humans and animals are holy l’hashem . Later Exod. limits animals to sheep cattle and donkeys. Deut. further limits it only to sheep and cattle.

4. Matan Torah.

5. The Name of the mountain (Mt. Sinai) is different than Deut. (Imagine: the most important geographic name in Jewish history (i.e. Mt. Sinai) is never found in Deut.)
6. Also, In Ex. the physical description of the scene at MT differs markedly from that as given in Deut.

Lisa said...

Lame. I read a newspaper articles that referred to the President as "the President", "the Commander-in-Chief" and "the Chief Executive". Clearly, it must have been written by three different people.

I read somewhere else that Queen Elizabeth was born in 1926. Since she wasn't actually queen in 1926, that's an anachronism.

You can find such "contradictions" everywhere. But no one sees them as contradictions, because they aren't. It's only when you *want* things like this to serve as contradictions that you read it into them.

Shilton HaSechel said...

Thanks david a. I will try to add them when i get a chance.

Lisa,
>Lame. I read a newspaper articles that referred to the President as "the President", "the Commander-in-Chief" and "the Chief Executive".

How clever of you. Either way those are all synonyms not overt contradictions. As for Queen Elizabeth completely irrelevant at this point because I wasn't even discussing anachronisms.

I wonder if you even read the list?

>You can find such "contradictions" everywhere.

For comparative purposes I challenge you to find a work of non-fiction literature which is unquestionably by one author and has so many overt contradictions.

Baal Habos said...

I find this lame as well; lame as a starting point for dis-belief, that is. In other words, Rabbinical Judaism earns it's keep by acknowleging and cleverly explaining Torah contradictions. I see it the other way, once belief is lost, or hovering on the precipice, then you can compare they two explanatory systems (Gemara or multiple-authorship) and then decide which best explains the situation.

Shalmo said...

http://www.daatemet.org.il/articles/article.cfm?article_id=126#4

gamzoo said...

"Yaakov wrestles with the man/angel and get called Yisrael. However later on in 35:10 God calls him Yisrael."

Kugel has a book which tries to explain these discrepancies not by multiple authorship but by the fact that the author(s) of this passage doesn't have a clear distinction between God and angel. One moment it is God and the next it is an angel. An angel, in their mind, could be just one way at looking at God. An emanation of God or something

Shilton HaSechel said...

Baal Habos,

>In other words, Rabbinical Judaism earns it's keep by acknowleging and cleverly explaining Torah contradictions.

Let me explain. Obviously if you take the essential unity of the Torah as a given then these are not really problems and this whole list is rather meaningless (or at least redundant)

However if we are to analyze the Torah with no a priori assumptions then I think it will become fairly obvious that it was not written by one person.

Since Orthodoxy has no reason to accept the essential unity of the Torah besides lame Aish HaTorah excuses and lame appeals to faith, I think it is important to show the conclusion one will reach IF we are to make no assumptions and IF we decide to determine the unity or disunity of the Torah by simply analyzing it, instead of assuming from the onset that it was written by one person/God.

Shilton HaSechel said...

Gamzoo,

Re:Angel/God

Even so there is still the fact that Yaakov for some reason get his name changed TWICE.

david a. said...

>>> Lame. I read a newspaper articles that referred to the President as "the President", "the Commander-in-Chief" and "the Chief Executive". Clearly, it must have been written by three different people.

If I read an entire book and the President is always and consistently called by the same title. and another book which consistently calls him by another title, and similarly for several dozen other important elements in the books...then yes, i would question the claim that the 2 books were written by the same author.

in the case of the Torah, many commentators do agree that devarim and the rest of khumash were authored by 2 different authors, just that their 2 authors are moishe and God respectively.

MKR said...

The Skeptic's Annotated Bible has an index of supposed contradictions and inconsistencies in the Bible. Not all are equally cogent, and they are addressed to Christian readers (hence they include references to the New Testament), but you can scan the list to see if any seem worth looking into.

david a. said...

>>>> I read somewhere else that Queen Elizabeth was born in 1926. Since she wasn't actually queen in 1926, that's an anachronism.

I read a mystery novel purported to have been written in the 16th century. in it, it says that the body was found under the Eiffel tower. Now, that's an anachronism

BHB said...

But Shilton, the stated purpose of this post is objection to TMS. The TMS story includes it's own answers to contradictions and inconsistensies. You must admit that for those people who DO believe in TMS, for whatever reason, upbringing or birth, they do have a valid consistent model. Saying it's highly unlikely is almost beyond the point. The Exodus is also unlikely, but they believe it. Once they believe in God and his Torah, contradictions are part and parcel of it. So the question remains, who is your post addresed to?

garfieldcat3 said...

Long ago, I concluded that the torah was man written. The rabbis have tried to reconsile the contradictions and where nothing made sense, they created midrash, a system of fairy tales to drive home their points. The older I get and the more I learn, the more foolish TMS looks.

Shilton HaSechel said...

BHB,
>But Shilton, the stated purpose of this post is objection to TMS.

My objection is not (at least here) to someone who takes TMS as a given which cannot be questioned. My objection is to someone who claims (and there are many who do claim this) that if you approach the topic without any preconceived notions then you will ultimately come to realize the truth of TMS and unified authorship. I'm trying to show that that is not true.

Also there is a trend in the OJ world to treat Bible scholars as a bunch of idiots who have absolutely no basis for ascribing multiple authorship to the Pentateuch. This post is also directed at those people

>they do have a valid consistent model.

I'm not (right now) arguing with that. Every religion has a certain amount of consistency.

Puzzled said...

I think if you assume it's written by God, the contradictions just aren't going to be that interesting to you. On the other hand, if you don't, then it's obvious that the contradictions matter.

My two cents - even if you manage to explain the contradictions away, aren't there easier ways to teach those same lessons that are much clearer? If you want to teach that you should avoid malacha and also eat cholent, is switching words in two different versions of the 10 commandments really the best way to teach that message? Is that all God could come up with?

Similarly, it says an eye for an eye. The rabbis 'prove' it meant monetary compensation. Ok, there are these 13 rules and so on...but why not just write monetary compensation?

Shilton HaSechel said...

>I think if you assume it's written by God, the contradictions just aren't going to be that interesting to you.

Yes but if we want to determine whether or not God wrote it I think the contradictions are important to consider.

If any OJ'er has a good EXTERNAL reason to attribute it to God then I'm all ears and I'll drop the analysis. But in the meantime all we have to work with is the Torah itself.

Of course even if the Pentateuch isn't God's word the question of authorship is still fascinating. I hope to proceed eventually into the nitty gritty of the DH itself. Should be fun.

Lisa said...

My objection is to someone who claims (and there are many who do claim this) that if you approach the topic without any preconceived notions then you will ultimately come to realize the truth of TMS and unified authorship. I'm trying to show that that is not true.

Seriously? That's what's got your panties in a bunch? No one claims that. No one. Certainly not I. If it were true, we wouldn't need TSBP.

In the introduction to Huck Finn, Clemens wrote a caveat that the book was pure fiction and adventure for their own sakes, and that no one should try and read philosophically deep meanings into anything in the book. When we did Huck Finn in high school, the very first thing my English teacher said after reading that to us was, "Now, what do you think he was trying to say here?"

You aren't a lot different. We have authorial intent, but you choose to ignore that and read it as a stam non-fiction book. Why is that a legitimate comparison? The intent of the Torah is entirely different from that of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, so what's the point of comparing them?

Shilton HaSechel said...

>Seriously? That's what's got your panties in a bunch? No one claims that. No one. Certainly not I. If it were true, we wouldn't need TSBP.

Okay so you have a system of sorts when you throw TSBK and TSBP together. Fine. Now prove that YOUR system

A. Has got an ounce of proof to support it and

B. Is better than critical scholarship which makes no (or at least less) assumptions

Hmmm what does critical scholarship say? Well it says read it how it sounds. Not a really crazy assumption. But YOU say "no no you got it all wrong it's a secret code and sometimes it means the complete opposite of what it actually says"

>We have authorial intent,

Lol says you. Says the Christians. Says the Karaites. "We are the ones who REALLY know what God means"

Gimme a break. PROVE that you have the correct authorial intent and then I'll start listening. Until then it's just random guessing on your part and will continue to make the foolish assumption that the Torah means what it says.

JewishGadfly said...

>We have authorial intent, but you choose to ignore that and read it as a stam non-fiction book.

Is this to say the Torah is God's work of fiction? Well, it seems to have done pretty well as a bestseller.

In any case, I for one like the intent behind this post. So often, discussions about this kind of thing gets into lofty debates about epistemic justification and bias and yada yada yada. When you just start listing the details, though, it gets a point across.

SJ said...

Here are websites that tackle the issue of alleged bible contradictions. They are Christian oriented, so I guess only worry about Old Testament stuff.

http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/bible.htm#INDEX

http://www.angelfire.com/mi/dinosaurs/contradictions.html

http://www.apologeticspress.org/allegeddiscrepancies/


http://litteralchristianlibrary.wetpaint.com/page/Answers+to+the+so-called+%22Bible+contradictions%22

http://www.biblebc.com/Ask_A_Question/7questions/Names_Ages_Dates_Numbers.htm

http://catholic-resources.org/Bible/History-12Tribes.htm

That being said, I have to agree with Lisa. Omission may sometimes serve to give a different picture, but omission is not a real changing of the facts.



By the way, Shalmo is Islamic. Take anything Shalmo says about religion and politics with a grain of salt the size and potency of the Dead Sea.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"Two creation accounts. In one the order of creation is plants, animals, man. In the other man, plants animals."

Actually fish are not mentioned in the so called second account at all.

Rabban Gamliel said...

What about the fish? How does that fit in with your theory?

Shilton HaSechel said...

Rabban Gamliel,
Beats me why they didn't mention the fish second time around, they also didn't mention the sun and the moon or the birds or the sky. The second account just has a different focus. Are you going to tell me that EVERY creation story in the ANE includes fish? Well I'll go check and come back to you.

But to be honest you've got a lot more to answer for than a few missing fish ;)

G*3 said...

Lisa said...
> Seriously? That's what's got your panties in a bunch? No one claims that. No one. Certainly not I. If it were true, we wouldn't need TSBP.

You clearly didn’t go to a yeshivish school. It’s a basic assumption that anyone who really thinks honestly about it will conclude that Hashem is real, Judaism is the right religion, and the Torah is Truth. While we can’t understand TSBS without TSBP, that the Godliness of TSBS in self-evident is a basic assumption.

I remember my rabbeim as early as first grade encouraging us to laugh at the goyim who didn’t have TSBP and so foolishly thought that when the Torah said “ayin tachas ayin” it meant what it said.

Heaven forbid we should foolishly think that the Chumash says what it says.

JewishGadfly said...
> Is this to say the Torah is God's work of fiction?

That would explain a lot…

Rabban Gamliel said...

"Shilton HaSechel said...

Rabban Gamliel,
Beats me why they didn't mention the fish second time around, they also didn't mention the sun and the moon or the birds or the sky. The second account just has a different focus. Are you going to tell me that EVERY creation story in the ANE includes fish? Well I'll go check and come back to you.

But to be honest you've got a lot more to answer for than a few missing fish ;)"

Well I'm busy now but my bombshell kashya will be forthcoming. By the way I posted on your post on the Talmud. I see you really did go to Yeshiva. Either that or your a better forger than any blogger yet.:)

Shilton HaSechel said...

RG,

>I see you really did go to Yeshiva.

Lol don't be fooled by my Zionist havara, I was interred in an authentic Litvishe Yeshiva and even learned to speak Yeshivish fluently. (I also had a heart to heart with one of the head Chareidim - most unpleasant)

Puzzled said...

Well, I don't see that the contradictions help all that much in arguing that it was written by someone other than God. Why would people, or a group of people, write contradictions? Is it any more reasonable for the redactor to leave 2 versions of a story than for God to do so? At least with God you can say you don't understand Him and so on. If Ezra left in a contradiction, you have to wonder why he did that.

Not that I believe in TMS, of course.

Shilton HaSechel said...

>Is it any more reasonable for the redactor to leave 2 versions of a story than for God to do so?

I don't think the redactor was necessarily trying to make ONE story. It was perhaps meant to be more of a compendium of the different stories floating around. (of course there was probably more than one redactor and some of them did bother trying to unify different accounts)

Rabban Gamliel said...

Just yesterday when tutoring in Talmud I was noticing that the meaning of a halachic statement by Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov sounded one way until reading further. Here we have a style of writing in ancient times where the meaning is explicated forward rather than backward. What at least a good deal of your contradictions do (when they hold up as at least apparent contradictions) like the two Creation accounts argument, is assume that one linguistic style has to have been throughout all time and space. Do we fill in Modern or Medieval or Talmudic Hebrew so many ands. Isn't it easier to say just like we would with Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov that his meaning is simply given by reading further and this is just the linguistic style of the Talmud because the Talmud was in its times and places. If the Talmud is perplexed by Biblical style it is just as much as we are perplexed by Talmudic style. Language changes. William Chomsky points out about the present tense being used in the Torah's Hebrew with the rel tense only seen in context.

Ok here's my bombshell kashya from the text itself. After saying that God created the beasts and birds it then says they were brought to Adam and then it says "and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof." Using your logic of saying we have to call everything a contradiction not to be solved except to say separate authorship then we have another contradiction because of the lack of fish and creepy crawlies being mentioned before and yet now we are speaking of every living creature. It is simpler to say it means the creatures that were brought to Adam. It is simpler to say also that the Bible rather than giving a different order of creation of animals and people is saying and God having created the animals and birds brought them to the man. If it is good enough for the Talmud's Rabbi Eliezer ben Yakov to have his words interpreted in context rather than jumping to say it is a real contradiction surely the Torah which is a much more remote in time and place text deserves such consideration. Indeed modern ancient comparative linguistic studies show characteristics in other ancient literature seen in the Bible without saying they are from other authors.

david a. said...

Of course, the 2 biggest problems that multiple-authorship of the Torah faces, is to explain how or why did the editor(s) let contradictions stand and also how was the final product actually introduced to the people without them resisting.

A few thoughts. Not that these are necessarily satisfactory.

The key to the first is to appreciate the extreme reverence held by people, especially in ancient times, for sacred texts.

I think someone like Ezra had in one hand text from Devarim which he knew was held to be sacred by one particular segment of his people and then Lev. and/or Numb., sacred to another (say the priesthood) in the other. And similarly, whoever created the JE document from 2 or more traditions. He knew he couldn’t discard either one but had to combine them. so he likely provided some reconciliation for the more obvious contradictions and let lesser difficulties slide. Then the creative imagination of the scribes (and later Khazal) kept coming up with more and more explanations, some clever, some extremely lame.

As for the introduction of the Torah, I think of the incredible blind faith and trust some chareidim have for their gedolim or chassidim for their Rebbe even in this day and age, and maybe, just maybe it’s possible to introduce a “new” document and proclaim its authenticity as God’s word. And have many of the people accept it.

Shilton HaSechel said...

David a.,
>Of course, the 2 biggest problems that multiple-authorship of the Torah faces, is to explain how or why did the editor(s) let contradictions stand and also how was the final product actually introduced to the people without them resisting.

1. Because they were just recording the various traditions not necessarily trying to make a unified narrative.

2. Why would anyone resist? So some guy called Ezra decides to make things easier and instead of having to go to 4 or 5 places to find out the law now you have it all in one convenient book. Did anyone resist when the Gemara was compiled? The Torah was not originally intended to be "the word of God" it was merely meant to be a record of what God had said and done back in the day.

Sam said...

Shilton or david a.

My skepticism has taken a serious beating since I began following the Baal Haturim's weekly commentary on the Torah featuring his absolutely mind boggling, spot-on gematrios that to my (perhaps naive) mind strongly suggests that the torah simply could not have been authored by humans.


Am I overreacting, and if so, why?

Rabban Gamliel said...

Shilton HaSechel in addition to answering you here I posted a comment now on the post in which you say that the word Navi was not used until the days of the Monarchy. I shot down your answer in one fell swoop. Your answer is dead. There is no other way to say it.

Shilton HaSechel said...

Sam,

When I was searching for answers to my skepticism I too made recourse to the Baal HaTurim and hoped to see the light. But you simply have to ask yourself if the same thing can't be done to ANY text?

Also the Baal Haturim sometimes "cheats". He will sometimes add indicative words to add to the number(such as "this", "these", "this means" etc.) and sometimes even fills in a chaser word to add to the gematria. He was creative enough pick and choose relevant words and construct good gematrias. So the ingenuity lies more in the Baal Haturim then in the Torah.

I hope I did that justice.

Rabban Gamliel,

Lol this should be good...

G*3 said...

david a. said...
> and also how was the final product actually introduced to the people without them resisting.

In addition to what Shilton said aout people trusting their leaders, keep in mind that very few people could read, and that the final product of redaction may never have been introduced to the people at all. It may have sat in dusty libraries, read only occasionally by scholars and copyists, for centuries. Over time its origin was forgotten and it became accepted as an authoritative version, then as THE authoritative version, and finally as the word of God l’Moshe miSinai.

E-Man said...

david a. I am just curious, how do you know people could not read?

Shilton HaSechel said...

>how do you know people could not read?

Mass literacy requires free general education.
This only became possible in the modern era.
No ancient societies had widespread literacy.

Rabban Gamliel said...

I do believe the Jews had mass literacy.

R.W. said...

^^^
Only if you believe they had a mass revelation can you believe they had mass literacy...

david a. said...

>>>>> david a. I am just curious, how do you know people could not read?

E-man. I think you are directing your question to G*3 … in any case, To add to what GH said.

we know they couldn’t write. 99% of “written” artifacts that have been uncovered that dated from 7th cent. BCE and earlier, were found in royal or temple environments only. That implies that writing and assumed also reading was confined to specialized scribes. The cutoff is about the 7th Cent. Shards and stones with writing on them dated later found with messages that were more of a personal nature implying that commoners were beginning to know how to read and write.



>>>> I do believe the Jews had mass literacy.

not very likely.

The idea that b’nei yisroel had a literate class way back when (and sat ilearning Torah all day) is certainly not supported by anything found archaeologically to date.

Rabban Gamliel said...

They are discovering more and more archaeologically early material. In any event before we dig we don't find anything. So the burden of explaining if lack of evidence means diddly squat is on the diggers. I have not heard of any proof of the existence of the Amalekites outside of the Bible. I have heard that they are only seen in the Bible and yet in a very matter of fact manner they are described as being at war with the Israelites down to King David's reign. To say that unless we see something preserved it did not exist is a statement that needs backing up. For instance stone monuments would hold up better than papyrus or paper. Aren't we destroying most paper. Who would be justified in saying only official record keepers wrote in America because their papers will be more preserved?

Shilton HaSechel said...

Forget the archaeology. A largely rural society without publicly funded schooling simply CANNOT be literate. It is literally impossible for Ancient Israel (or any other Ancient Polity) to have had mass literacy. NO country in history had mass literacy until the 19th or 20th century.

It is simply ridiculous to just assume Ancient Israel was different from the rest of history without some sort of corroborating evidence.

(Of course God could've set up a super secret public school system and then removed the evidence for fun.)

G*3 said...

Rabban Gamliel, which ancient text makes the claim that that the Bnei Yisroel were literate? It’s not just a lack of archeological evidence. It’s a lack of ANY evidence. No ancient society had a literate populace. As recently as a couple of centuries ago, most people (including Jews) living in rural areas were illiterate. What makes you think the Jews of ancient Israel were any different?

Rabban Gamliel said...

"Forget the archaeology. A largely rural society without publicly funded schooling simply CANNOT be literate. It is literally impossible for Ancient Israel (or any other Ancient Polity) to have had mass literacy."

Be careful what you say is impossible. Saying something is impossible is as easy as saying "something is impossible."


Here is one paper showing evidence of Jewish literacy in ancient times being widespread amongst farmers because of religion amongst the Pharisees. http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/private/Jewish_Economic_History.pdf

Rabban Gamliel said...

"It is simply ridiculous to just assume Ancient Israel was different from the rest of history without some sort of corroborating evidence."

I'm not assuming anything. You are the one making the generalization.

G*3 said...

RG, just reading the first few lines of the abstract shows this paper doesn’t support your theory:

“Our thesis is that this transition away from agriculture into crafts and trade was the outcome of their widespread literacy prompted by a religious and educational reform in Judaism in the first and second centuries C.E., which gave them a comparative advantage in urban, skilled occupations.”

The authors of the paper are claiming widespread literacy among the Jewish population in the eight and ninth centuries, due to reforms in the first and second centuries.

Matan Torah is claimed to have taken place fifteen hundred years before these reforms. The Beis HaMikdash was destroyed in 70C.E.

If the redactor was Ezra or around the time of Ezra, then redaction and adoption of the Torah happened hundreds of years before these educational reforms.

Rabban Gamliel said...

What I'm doing is showing how religion can override economics. If it could happen later in history it could have been in the more remote past too. I'm not making a thesis except to say I need more to make the same assumptions as you and Shilton.

E-Man said...

G*3, RG is showing why Shilton's statement: "Forget the archaeology. A largely rural society without publicly funded schooling simply CANNOT be literate. It is literally impossible for Ancient Israel (or any other Ancient Polity) to have had mass literacy."

is false. Which this paper accurately does. There are no public funds.

david a. said...

>>>> NO country in history had mass literacy until the 19th or 20th century.

R. Joshua ben Gamla circa 1 st Cent. established schools throughout Judea and khedorim were maintained by jews throughput history. except for in the most impoverished times and places, jews had a very high literacy rate.

david a. said...

what i meant was jews had a high literacy rate after the 1st Cent., not back in the 7, 8 or 9th cent BCE.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"what i meant was jews had a high literacy rate after the 1st Cent., not back in the 7, 8 or 9th cent BCE."

Well that is what I'm wondering about. It is easy to be making negative assumptions. A scientist said people could never fly. When people did he then said well never in great number on one flight. A scientist testified to the Congressional branch that no discoveries could come of the superconducting supercollider. Now the Europeans will be having the glory. The point is it could be pure bunk to say that literacy amongst the Jews was never high beyond the Talmudic period which just happens to be the Ancient period preserved best. It is like saying the lighted up places in the dark have all the interesting spots.

G*3 said...

All right, you’ve convinced me it’s possible that the Jewish masses were literate in ancient times, and I amend my earlier statement:

In addition to what Shilton said aout people trusting their leaders, keep in mind that probably very few people could read (as was the case for most people in most places for most of history)…

david a. said...

RG … oh, come on, if a large proportion of the populace was able to read back in the 8th Cent BCE, don’t you think there would be many copies of that most important book (scroll) of them all floating around. And that would negate the whole “found this book in the temple episode” of josiah’s time.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"RG … oh, come on, if a large proportion of the populace was able to read back in the 8th Cent BCE, don’t you think there would be many copies of that most important book (scroll) of them all floating around. And that would negate the whole “found this book in the temple episode” of josiah’s time."

Not considering that it doesn't preserve as well as stone tablets. Look we know the Torah is older than the Second Temple period and yet we have not so far at least seen a Torah beyond the period of the Dead Sea Scrolls, neither have we seen any of the Proto-Books of the Torah postulated by the Documentary Hypothsis to this very day.

Rabban Gamliel said...

The incident of King Josiah was that the book had been neglected although known about. It was said we have found the Book of the Torah, not we have found a book that was given to our ancestors called the Torah. It was assumed the people knew of the existence of the book.

Rabban Gamliel said...

This is in contrast to what Mohammed could not do and that was do more than claim the Koran was given to him by God not that they already knew about the Koran.

Puzzled said...

Ok, here's what I don't get about the Kuzari stuff. Suppose some teenager goes to an NCSY event and gets told "the Torah was given to Moses on Sinai." According to the Kuzari, he's supposed to say "hey, wait a second, if the people saw God, why didn't my parents tell me?" And...why didn't they tell him? The Kuzari is premised on the belief that such a thing cannot be forgotten, yet only less than 10% of the Jews today believe it. So if it happened, it was forgotten. But, in fact, most kids at NCSY don't say that, they say "wow." So why is it hard to believe that they didn't question it at some point in the past, say in the time of Ezra?

Rabban Gamliel said...

Shilton Hasechel having disposed of your first objection, the supposedly two contradictory accounts of creation I now add the next 6 before I go to bed. "God speaks to Noach twice about the impending deluge. In Chapter 6 he says generically to bring two of every animal while in Chapter 7 he differentiates between pure

animals (7 of each) and impure animals (2 0f each)"

In the first part it is before the ark is made and filled with food and he is told to have two of every kind to stay alive. The second part is after the ark is made.

Noach is now given instructions to also have seven and seven of the clean animals plus two and two of the unclean. This time God only talks of doing this all so as to

keep "seed alive on all the earth." This is because the clean animals are not all going to be allowed to live but are on the ark to be able to be sacrificed later so

God says that the two and two and seven and seven system will allow seed to exist but not that all those on the ark will live. So not only is your contradiction not a

contradiction because God is speaking at two different times but if you just read slightly closer the words you don't even have a contradiction even if it would be

twice speaking of God talking at the same event.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"G 21:31 Be'er Sheva

Be'er Sheva is named after the oath (shevua) between Avraham and Avimelech while in 26:33 it is named Be'er Sheva after an an oath between Yitzchak and Avimelech."

With Avraham Be'er Sheva is just a called a place. With Yitzchak the name stuck because there it says that "therefore the name of the city is Be'er Sheva to this day."
Imagine a settler or explorer calling a place something and then later it becomes the name of the place as a political entity i.e. a state, country, province, town,

etc.

"G 26:34 Esav's Wives

Esav takes two Hittite wives Yehudit Bat (daughter of) Be'eri and Basmat Bat Elon. He later takes an additional wife (28:9) Machalat daughter of Yishmael. However in

the extensive geneaology of Esav's family in 36 no mention is made of Yehudit or Basmat and in their place are two women we've never heard of Ada Bat Elon (a Hittite)

and Oholibama Bat Ana (a Hivite)"

Yehudit the daughter of Be'eri the Hitite is identical with Oholibama bat (daughter of) Ana who in turn was the daughter of Tzivon the Hivite. Basmat Bat Elon is

identical with Ada Bat Elon. Furthermore Machalat daughter of Yishmael and sister of Nevayot is identical with Basmat daughter of Yishmael and sister of Nevayot. If

you just look you will see the repetion of identifications makes it a much stronger argument that we are dealing with different names for the same people and in the

case of the Hivite, Hitite difference we are dealing with different sides, one from the father's and the other from the mother's.

"G 28:19 Bet El

Yaakov calls Luz Bet El because of the revelation he has on his way to Aram. However in 35:15 Yaakov "again" calls the place Bet El in commemoration of another

revelation he has on his way back from Aram."

The site where God spoke to him was not Bet El as Devorah the nurse of Rivka had just been buried under an oak tree below Bet El. Yaakov called the site God spoke to

him, Bet El but the city was only nearby.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"G 32:29 Yisrael

Yaakov wrestles with the man/angel and get called Yisrael. However later on in 35:10 God calls him Yisrael."

The angel says to him "Your name will no longer be Yaakov but Yisrael. Did Yaakov comply? It was not prescriptive. Later God says to him:"You whose name is Yaakov, You

shall be called Yaakov no more but Yisrael will be your name. So He named him Yisrael." Still later God calls him Yaakov but when there is some indication of some

spiritual triumph he is called Yisrael. There is no contradiction and indeed this one question you even phrased weakly.

"G 37:18-30 Sale of Yosef

The Sale of Yosef has a few plot holes. Reuven tells the brothers to chuck him in the pit in order to secretly save him. Then Yehuda comes up with the sale idea and no

mention is made that Reuven was not present. Then Reuven comes to the pit and for some reason is surprised that Yosef is not there. Something fishy is going on."

If you are going to argue this way you should say that the contradiction is starting with the plot to kill him. First it says the brothers plotted to kill him. Then it

says when Reuven heard it he did what he did. It is easier to say that it is not a contradiction and instead you just wait a moment and you instantly see that not all

brothers were meant. Just the ones other than Reuven and of course Binyamin the loyal loving brother. It is just like in the example in the Talmud I gave above with

Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov where the meaning of what he said was seen by reading what he says a moment later. Further while you were saying that we think Reuven should

be amongst his brothers at the time of the sale, you are mistaken as Reuven had said throw him into the pit and don't kill him and he said also shed no blood. Yet at

the meal of the brothers Yehuda says what do we gain by killing him and covering up his blood? Lets sell him. His brothers agree. What should be the reason for Reuven

to agree? Did he at first change his mind? It is no wonder to discover immediately after the sale Reuven is described as returning to the
pit and being surprised at what happened. With slight patience and careful literal reading your question Shilton is no question.

"There is also A LOT of confusion about who sold to whom (Is it the Ishmaelites is it the Midianites etc.)"

It looks like it was the Midianites as they removed him from the pit. But in any event it again is no contradiction.

Rabban Gamliel said...

Whoops the damned internet did not let me know my posting was successful so I posted the last part over 4 times.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"Ex 12:8-9 The Pesach Offering

The laws of the Pesach offering. Here it must cannot be boiled in water and must be cooked. In Deuteronomy (15) it is just to be generically "cooked". Also here the Pesach has to be a lamb while in Deuteronomy it can be from "sheep and cattle.""

Wrong in Deuteronomy 15 it doesn't talk about the Pesach offering. In Ex 12:8-9 it does but not in accordance with the laws of the Torah exclusively. It is before the Torah and even before the Exodus and so it includes amongst it's laws 12:7 And they shall take of the blood, and put it on the two side-posts and on the lintel, upon the houses wherein they shall eat it. and 12:11 And thus shall ye eat it: with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste--it is God's passover.

Rabban Gamliel said...

Almost done refuting everyone of your contradictions.
"Ex: 18:13-27 Yitro's Advice

Moshe sets up a hierarchy of judges based on Yitro's advice. However in the first chapter of Deuteronomy he makes no mention of Yitro and it sounds as if he came to the decision all by himself."

He makes no such claim. Does a president lie if he doesn't tell where he got his advice? Do we always say where we got an idea?

"Ex 21:2-6 Hebrew Slave

The laws of a Hebrew slave. No mention is made of rewarding the slave (ha'anaka) when he goes free as in Deuteronomy 15:13. Also here the slave is to serve for six years while in Leviticus 25:40 no mention is made of the six years and instead a new factor is mentioned i.e. the remission of slaves in the Jubilee year."

Since when in the Torah are all laws on a topic supposed to be in one place? Your question is no question.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"Ex 20:11 Shabbat

Besides the fact that the Ten Commandments here differ in language from the ones in Deuteronomy we also have a rather conspicuous difference when it comes to Shabbat. The reason given for Shabbat here is to commemorate the seven days of creation. However in Deuteronomy 5:15 the reason given is to give our slaves a rest in commemoration of our slavery in Egypt."

God can tell them the Ten Commandments in more than one form. It yet says in Deuterononomy Moses says he was telling the people what God said. As for more than one reason for a law this is not unusual in Jewish law. In Exodus God says why He hallowed Shabbos. He says He created the universe. At that time Shabbos was already holy without Jews observing it. In Deuteronomy God says that the Sabbath is holy to Him and everyone should rest from work on it and we should remember that we were brought out of slavery in Egypt and therefore we should rest on the Seventh Day. There is no contradiction.One reason is not really exclusive of the other. At the time of the creation Shabbos was holy independent of the Exodus which hadn't occured yet but still that reason still applied and was why it was already hallowed to God before saying it should be done because we were saved from slavery.

E-Man said...

SH said-10. "Ex 12:8-9 The Pesach Offering

The laws of the Pesach offering. Here it must cannot be boiled in water and must be cooked. In Deuteronomy (15) it is just to be generically "cooked". Also here the Pesach has to be a lamb while in Deuteronomy it can be from "sheep and cattle.""

Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the Bible knows the reason for the discrepancy here. One was a command in Egypt. That is why it must be eaten in haste (12:11). This comment seriously disappoints me because it shows a complete lack of truthfulness. This reminds me of Shalmo claiming that the bible commands people to eat their babies. How could you conflate the two Pesach offerings. One was meant for the Jews going out of Egypt and one was meant for the Jews living in Israel. That is the reason the blood must be sprinkled on the door post by the Pesach of Egypt, it must be eaten in haste, etc and the one that is meant for generations (the one in Devarim) doesn't have these laws, because it is for generations.

Shilton HaSechel said...

E-man,
>This reminds me of Shalmo claiming that the bible commands people to eat their babies.

LOL!

>and the one that is meant for generations (the one in Devarim) doesn't have these laws, because it is for generations.

You know something I think you're 100% right! I presented this badly (besides the typo) but I doubt for the reason you think.

My mistake was not being consistent with my method. My method was to not make use of the TSBP but here I clearly did. The most obvious distinction is between Pesach Mitzrayim and Pesach HaDorot.

However the TSBP has got some problems because it takes halachot from Pesach Mitzrayim (the requirement for lamb, requirement for roasting etc.) and applies it to the Dorot. Since the TSBP assumes certain aspects of Pesach Mitzrayim apply for all time there is this contradiction between one place saying lamb and another saying sheep and cattle (yes chagiga I know, i know.)

This is a question on the TSBP and the Torah not the Torah itself. So my mistake.

(But seriously? comparing me to Shalmo THAT is just ludicrous!)

E-Man said...

True, it was an extreme example. I apologize for the offense. But the point was just there is an obvious difference in the Torah itself as to why there is no contradiction. I thought we WERE ignoring TSBP and just discussing valid interpretations of the text that keep the simple meaning of the text.

I will admit, much of the TSBP does not keep the simple meaning of the text in many cases. But that is a completely different discussion. You claimed to just be looking for contradictions in the simple meaning of the text and this is clearly not one of them.

Shilton HaSechel said...

I agree my mistake.

(I guess I still haven't freed myself from a TSBP mindset)

david a. said...

>>> In Exodus God says why He hallowed Shabbos. …. In Deuteronomy God says that the Sabbath is holy to Him ……..

RG- So according to you the giving of the Aseret Hadibrot occurred twice.

Look, as far as I’m concerned the word “quote” or "saying" means that the words following are an exact replication of what was said or written. In both Exod. & Deut. the author presents the Aser.Had. as a quote that these are the words communicated by God. You cannot have 2 versions of the Aser.HaD. the fact that the Torah reports 2 versions to me means that one or both are not the original. You can kvetch as much as you like. The authors of Exod & Deut. had different oral traditions that they reported.

Question: If ever archaeologists find the Luchot, which version of the Aser.H. will be on them??.

E-Man said...

How about this crazy explanation, the luchos in Exodus are the first luchos and the luchos in the second one are the second luchos. BAM, what are ya gonna do with that one david a.?

david a. said...

>>>>>> How about this crazy explanation, the luchos in Exodus are the first luchos and the luchos in the second one are the second luchos. BAM, what are ya gonna do with that one david a.?

except that neither Ex. nor Deut. allows for such an interpretation. it clearly says that Luch. 1 & 2 were the same.

E-Man said...

Says who? Where does it say luchos one and two were the same exact thing? If anything, isn't there a difference when the Torah describes how the first were made in contrast to the second?

E-Man said...

Do you refer to this verse (Exodus 34:1):
א וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה, פְּסָל-לְךָ שְׁנֵי-לֻחֹת אֲבָנִים כָּרִאשֹׁנִים; וְכָתַבְתִּי, עַל-הַלֻּחֹת, אֶת-הַדְּבָרִים, אֲשֶׁר הָיוּ עַל-הַלֻּחֹת הָרִאשֹׁנִים אֲשֶׁר שִׁבַּרְתָּ. 1

And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first; and I will write upon the tables the words that were on the first tables, which thou didst break.

Does this mean there would be the exact same words?

Plus, if we look at the creation of the first tablets and the second tablets, we can see some differences.

By the first tablets it says:

יח וַיִּתֵּן אֶל-מֹשֶׁה, כְּכַלֹּתוֹ לְדַבֵּר אִתּוֹ בְּהַר סִינַי, שְׁנֵי, לֻחֹת הָעֵדֻת--לֻחֹת אֶבֶן, כְּתֻבִים בְּאֶצְבַּע אֱלֹהִים. 18 And He gave unto Moses, when He had made an end of speaking with him upon mount Sinai, the two tables of the testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

Now, the first tablets were completely done by G-D, but the second tablets involved Moshe.

Are they the same exact things, or were there differences?

david a. said...

>>>> Does this mean there would be the exact same words?

Er, yes. no reason to say otherwise.

Again- Ex. 20:1 states “God spoke all these words saying” …. So what follows is expected to be a quote of God’s words.

Deut 5:4-5 states: “Face to face did God speak with you on the mountain …… saying”. So what follows is expected to be a quote of God’s words.

And the quotes do not match exactly. Dream up all kinds of explanations and scenarios as you wish, but the bottom line is that the literal texts contradict each other. Both sets of verses refer to God’s words and NOT what was inscribed on the Luchot.

Although, another oddity is that the text in Deut. (5:19) clearly says that these words were then inscribed on the Luchot and there is no corresponding unambiguous statement in Exod. stating what exactly was written on the Luchot.

RabbanGamliel said...

"My mistake was not being consistent with my method. My method was to not make use of the TSBP but here I clearly did. The most obvious distinction is between Pesach Mitzrayim and Pesach HaDorot.

However the TSBP has got some problems because it takes halachot from Pesach Mitzrayim (the requirement for lamb, requirement for roasting etc.) and applies it to the Dorot. Since the TSBP assumes certain aspects of Pesach Mitzrayim apply for all time there is this contradiction between one place saying lamb and another saying sheep and cattle (yes chagiga I know, i know.)"

A lamb is a young sheep. I will repost here from my comments posted in response to you elsewhere.

"I can briefly comment for now. I thought you were talking about Deuterononmy 15. So I was only commenting about Deuteronomy 15. You clearly did not know the book of Samuel enough. So a law can clearly be harder to remember as you did the same with Exodus as I will show.
Ok here is Exodus saying the same thing as in Deuteronomy and Rashi on it demonstrating something you would not see in the English translation as a further demonstration.
Exodus 12:1-5
1. The Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,
2. This month shall be to you the head of the months; to you it shall be the first of the months of the year.
3. Speak to the entire community of Israel, saying, "On the tenth of this month, let each one take a lamb for each parental home, a lamb for each household.
4. But if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor who is nearest to his house shall take [one] according to the number of people, each one according to one's ability to eat, shall you be counted for the lamb.
5. You shall have a perfect male lamb in its [first] year; you may take it either from the sheep or from the goats.

Rashi:"Either from the sheep or from the goats: Either from this or from that, for a goat is also called lamb, as it is written: “and a kid (lamb of goats)” (Deut. 14:4). — [from Mechilta]

Deuteronomy 14:4 "These are the animals that you may eat: ox, lamb (literally lamb of sheep), and kid (literally lamb of goats),"

RabbanGamliel in reply to Rabban Gamliel:"Well I'm back and will slowly comment tonight. I see now that your verse in Deuteronomy adds herd so read that way if you wish to translate "and" as "or" it still is no contradiction. In one spot it is talking of having to take from amongst the choice of what the Torah labels lambs, namely from the young sheep and goats and then in Deuteronomy it would be saying you may substitute from the cattle. This would be like how in the Talmud or even nowadays people talk of the general and not mean to exclude the particular that may go against the general. Rashi takes "and" though to mean also so he writes "and cattle: These are slaughtered as the chagigah [Festival offering]. If a large group was formed for the Passover offering, they bring a Festival offering along with it, so that the Passover sacrifice will be eaten after the required satiation. Our Rabbis also derived many other things from this verse. — [Sifrei ; Pes. 70a]""


Shilton HaSechel said:"This is a question on the TSBP and the Torah not the Torah itself. So my mistake."

If something is a part of the law after the Torah was given it can still be said that we are receiving instruction there for after the Torah was given, even using a literal approach. Earlier mention of laws do apply to the future like in Exodus 12:2 "This month shall be the head month to you. It shall be the first month of the year." Unless there would be a later contradiction in the text or if as in the case of eating the Pesach lamb with your staff in your hand it was a temporary law in this case because it was said that in the daytime they would leave Egypt, we otherwise have the Torah telling before the Torah was given what should be done even after the Torah was given.

RabbanGamliel said...

">>> In Exodus God says why He hallowed Shabbos. …. In Deuteronomy God says that the Sabbath is holy to Him ……..

RG- So according to you the giving of the Aseret Hadibrot occurred twice."

No.

"Look, as far as I’m concerned the word “quote” or "saying" means that the words following are an exact replication of what was said or written."

We are talking about God here.

"In both Exod. & Deut. the author presents the Aser.Had. as a quote that these are the words communicated by God. You cannot have 2 versions of the Aser.HaD. the fact that the Torah reports 2 versions to me means that one or both are not the original. You can kvetch as much as you like. The authors of Exod & Deut. had different oral traditions that they reported."

We are talking about God here. Does God have to be limited to human speech limitations or even human speech? Remember we are Jews here so arguments of Christian skeptics are not fully reproducible for us.

"Question: If ever archaeologists find the Luchot, which version of the Aser.H. will be on them??."

Well archaeologists could find what looks like Luchot but whether we would consider them to be the Luchot would be another story. Frankly though from a literal reading it aught to be the Deuteronomy text. The Exodus version just says God wrote words that he spoke on the tablets but doesn't say what they were.

e-man said...

Right, they are different because G-D spoke twice, the first and the second luchos are two different speakings, that is why they are different. That is not a contradiction.

david a. said...

ok. except i don't think it says anywhere that God spoke on 2 different occasions.

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