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talmid
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jkgraves735
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Bible Contradictions

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/27/2016 Category: Religion
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 467 times Debate No: 88830
Debate Rounds (5)
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talmid

Con

I saw that you were having an interesting debate with a person, in which you would point out apparent Biblical contradictions; and he would try to resolve them. Me, being Jewish (and thus having access to countless rabbinic commentaries, midrashim, aggadot; hence a wider outlook), could not resist to have a similar debate. But first, let's set some ground rules. Please do not make arguments from anything other than Masoretic Hebrew Bible (Tanakh). I outright deny the authenticity of the New Testament, Samaritan Torah, and Septuagint. You may make arguments from the Mishnah and Talmud, but there isn't exactly a point in doing so because you are probably not familiar with such texts.
jkgraves735

Pro

I am quite interested in this debate. I am a student of the Hebrew Scriptures in its original text (or the best we can have of it). So this should be interesting. My translation of choice is ESV or my own translation as we go.


I will start off with one contradiction to focus on and move from there.

I'd like to get it out in the open that I completely accept the Documentary Hypothesis for the composition of the Torah. Two of my arguments will reflect that. In its simplest form, the Documentary Hypothesis states that there were different sources pieced together to make the Torah over a period of time until the end of the Babylonian Exile. Scholars look for things like "doublets," double narratives in the text, to see the different sources. Stating the same age or date again, the same story over again, random genealogies, etc help identify doublets.

My arguments will not be in any kind of order.

1) When did Noah and his family go into the ark?

Noah's deluge is the ultimate Documentary Hypothesis (JEDP) hodge-podge of sources. I could get into a lot of them, but for the purposes of this it is probably best to stick with one for discussion.

When did Noah, his family, and the animals enter the ark/when did the flood begin?

Genesis 7:6-10
"Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters came upon the earth. 7 And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives with him went into the ark to escape the waters of the flood. 8 Of clean animals, and of animals that are not clean, and of birds, and of everything that creeps on the ground, 9 two and two, male and female, went into the ark with Noah, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And after seven days the waters of the flood came upon the earth.

Ok, so Noah and his entourage go into the ark and the flood begins a week later. That's the story I was taught in Sunday School.

But wait! JEDP is back to confuse us!

Genesis 7:11-16

"In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights. 13 On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah's wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark,14 they and every beast, according to its kind, and all the livestock according to their kinds, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, according to its kind, and every bird, according to its kind, every winged creature.15 They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. 16 And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him. And the Lord shut him in.

How can there possibly be Noah entering the ark on the same day the flood starts.... and a week before the flood starts? JEDP! Yes, my friends, the priestly order of Babylonian Exile clasped a couple sources together... and you get this.

I look forward to my opponent's response.
Debate Round No. 1
talmid

Con

DOCUMENTARY HYPOTHESIS
I find it astounding that you can believe in a heretical idea like the Documentary Hypothesis and simultaneously call yourself a Christian. I also find it astounding that a scholar like yourself can believe in such a stupid hypothesis which has been lucidly refuted dozens of times. A simple way to refute this (and this only works if you understand the Hebrew language, which I presume you do) is to simply look at the first page of each of the Five Books of Moses. You will see something very unique.
GENESIS
Take the first letter tav that appears in Genesis and count 49 letters from there, and you land on vav. From there, 49 letters; and you land on resh. From there, 49 letters, and you land on heh Thus we have "Torah" in a 49-letter skip starting from the first tav in Genesis.
EXODUS
Use the same format, and you will also get Torah just as you did in Genesis.
LEVITICUS
In Leviticus, it's different. Use this format, but start from the letter yud. You will get the letters "yud, heh, vav, heh" - the Tetragrammaton.
NUMBERS
Use the 49-letter-skip format, but start from the first heh that appears on the page. You will get Torah backwards, heh, resh, vav, tav.
DEUTERONOMY
Use the same format as you did with Numbers and you will get the same result.

Thus we have TORAH TORAH Y-H-W-H HAROT HAROT. Looks kind of like a menorah. Let's not get into the meaning of this now. I don't want to dwell on this topic for too long because it is grossly irrelevant, but the point here is that if the Torah was composed from different sources, it is impossible for this code to exist; since the second writer would not know about the code implanted by the first one, and would thus not know how to continue. This whole thing, the Documentary Hypothesis, is for another debate. I just felt that I needed to get this off my chest.

RESOLVING THE APPARENT CONTRADICTION
Here is what I found. I was not able to do extensive research on this topic due to inconvenice, but here is what our Sages and latter rabbis come to tell us. Let's give you a little more context of what was going on.

- Noah originally did not want to go on the Ark because he was told by the wicked people that if a flood did come, they would kill him if he tried going onto the ark (the psychology was probably: if we're going down, you're coming down with us). He himself did not fully believe in the flood. He gathered everyone to the ark, but did not board it yet. It was only after 7 days, when the water was up to his knees that he went on to the ark.[1][4]

- "ON THAT VERY DAY" (In Hebrew; be'etzem hayom) Rabbi Yochanan says: "The Holy One, Blessed is He, said: 'If Noah entered the ark at night, his generation would have said: 'Due to the night, we did not know of Noah's entering the ark. Had we known, we would have stopped him." Thus it is written ON THAT VERY DAY, in broad daylight.[2]

- Rabbi Joshua ben Levi says:
The Holy One, Blessed is He, mourned for the world for 7 days before the flood, as it is written (Genesis 6:6) "And the Lord regretted that He had made man upon the earth, and He became saddened (In Hebrew: "vayitatzev") in His heart." Sadness is mourning, as it says And the victory that day [turned] into mourning for all the people; for the people heard on that day, saying: "The king is saddened (In Hebrew, ne'etzav, from the same root of "vayitatzev") over his son."[3]

- The waters were originally light, but gradually became heavier in order to give the wicked people time to repent, which they did not do.[4]

- "AFTER THE 7 DAYS" During "THE" 7 days, the people were mourning for the death of Methuselah. G-d did not want to bring the flood upon the earth until after the eulogies of the righteous Methuselah, which also, as I said above, gave the people time to repent. A proof of this concept: The gematria (numerical value) of "for the 7 days" (In Hebrew, leshivat hayamim) is 907, which is the same numerical value of "limei evel metushelach" (For the days of mourning of Methuselah)[5]
(interrelate this with the above)

If you interrelate all of this, it makes a lot more sense. Now hopefully you'll have greater context. To answer your question in a nutshell though, I read that Noah came approached the ark but did not board it. The rain began, but only began intensifying on the 7th day, after the mourning of Methuselah ended, and this intense rain was accompanied by the "waters of the great deep bursting forth".

SOURCES
[1] Midrash: Tanchuma, reiterated by Rashi (see [4])
[2] Midrash: Genesis Rabbah
[3] Midrash: Genesis Rabbah
[4] The legendary commentator, Rabbi SHlomo Yitzchaki, better known by his acronym "Rashi", which is also an acronym for "Rabban SHel Yisrael" - Rabbi of Israel.
[5] The Biblical commentator, Rabbi Jacob ben Asher, better known as the Baal Haturim. He probably learned this from the Midrash somewhere, but I do not have time to search.
jkgraves735

Pro

My opponent has done what most fundamentalists of any religion, be it Muslim, Christian, or Jewish when it comes to the inerrancy of their Holy Texts. When faced with a certain contradiction, they must ignore parts of one of them in order to choose their favored variation of the text. This should be fairly plain when I rebuttal my opponent's statement.

I'm just going to quote my opponent's possible rebuttals and show why they are false simply by looking at the text.

"Noah originally did not want to go on the Ark because he was told by the wicked people that if a flood did come, they would kill him if he tried going onto the ark (the psychology was probably: if we're going down, you're coming down with us). He himself did not fully believe in the flood. He gathered everyone to the ark but did not board it yet. It was only after 7 days when the water was up to his knees that he went on to the ark."

Interesting way of getting around the contradiction. Unfortunately, there is zero textual support for this, and the text itself negates the possibility

For one, Genesis 6:22 plainly says Noah did all that God commanded him. Honestly, do you think you'd make a massive boat in the middle of land unless you truly believed God told you to do so?

Besides that point, the idea that they were gathered around the ark but not go in until the seventh day is simply ignoring the text. Genesis 7:7 plainly says they "went into." They did not stand around the ark and wait seven days. They went into the ark. After which time the flood waters came. What reason is there for an "after" if there is not a date to pin it to? The date of the entering into the ark?

"ON THAT VERY DAY" (In Hebrew; be'etzem hayom) Rabbi Yochanan says: "The Holy One, Blessed is He, said: 'If Noah entered the ark at night, his generation would have said: 'Due to the night, we did not know of Noah's entering the ark. Had we known, we would have stopped him." Thus it is written ON THAT VERY DAY, in broad daylight

I'm not sure if I am getting how this works around the contradiction? If this is saying that Noah boarded the ark in broad daylight, that still does not make sense comparing it to the other text. For one, the next narrows down which day it is talking about. On the 600th year of Noah's life, second month, 17th day, all the fountains of the deep burst.

The Hebrew text says "
בַּיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֗ה" It is specifying. On that specifically named day, flood began. Not only that, same phrase is used to specify when Noah went into the ark "בְּעֶ֨צֶם הַיּ֤וֹם הַזֶּה֙" The text is specifying with the word הַזֶּה֙ "This." It is specifying "On this very same day" that the flood waters broke. It is specifying the day and even comparing it to the day the flood began. It nowhere indicates that it is simply discussing a time of day.

Those were the two strongest arguments my opponent had, and they are the ones that he uses as more of a summary.

My opponent was then kind enough to share a summary of his rebuttal

"If you interrelate all of this, it makes a lot more sense. Now hopefully you'll have greater context. To answer your question in a nutshell though, I read that Noah came approached the ark but did not board it. The rain began, but only began intensifying on the 7th day, after the mourning of Methuselah ended, and this intense rain was accompanied by the "waters of the great deep bursting forth".

To finish here, I will simply again summarize why the foundation of this is simply wrong.

Underlined: Nowhere in the text does it say Noah approached but did not board the ark. Instead, in both texts, it says that he went into the ark. In fact, in both cases, the exact same Hebrew root word is used. The word "בּוֹא." Noah clearly is said to enter the ark using the same word both times for enter. However, one text says it was after seven days the rain fell, the other plainly says "On this very day." The only way this works is if you ignore part of the text.

Italicized: Verse 11 clearly states that the heavens opened up on the very same day Noah entered the ark.

This is not an option unless you ignore the text with poor exegesis.

I await my opponent's response.








Debate Round No. 2
talmid

Con

What did I ignore? I addressed everything - and even extra, didn't I? It appears to me that you have some bad experience with religious people, which brought you to conclusions like that. Before you throw an insubstantiated accusation at a person; make sure it applies first instead of relying upon speculations based upon previous experiences... Well anyways, let's go into the argument:

MY SOURCES
Your argument revolves around there being no textual support for what I said in regard to certain things. While that may be true, it matters not. Jews do not go by the Bible alone; we also have tradition from our Sages. I quoted Midrash Rabbah, which was a work of our Sages; which is regarded as authoritative. Logically, it is only fair that I have permission to make arguments from an outside source, since all of your arguments reflect off of the Documentary Hypothesis.

BATTLING YOUR INTERPRETATION
That would technically end the issue; but I'd like to stand by the words of the Sages instead of just have you submit to their authority by default.

> I said (Rashi) that Noah was one of those of little faith who did not fully believe in the flood, and that he did not enter the ark until 7 days after the rain began. You argued that "Genesis 6:22 plainly says Noah did all that God commanded him.", therefore he must have entered the ark on the first day... However, this is clearly referring to the building of the ark, not the entering of the ark; which would take place later. Noah was commanded to enter the ark in the next chapter, as it says "And the Lord said to Noah, "Come into the ark, you and all your household, for it is you that I have seen as a righteous man before Me in this generation." - Genesis 7:1 This should be obvious. I do not stand alone - Genesis Rabbah 31:14 and Rashi stand behind me on this.

> I said (Rashi) that Noah was afraid of the people who threatened to kill him, and did not fully believe in the flood. Thus, he only entered the ark 7 days after it started raining. You argued that this was preposterous, because if Noah had little faith, he would not have built the ark. However, this is flawed.
- First, G-d told Noah to build an ark; and then apparently did not speak with him for 120 years (when it was completed.) It is sensible that Noah lost some of his zeal as time went by.
- Even those who have perfect faith do sometimes have subconscious doubts. Sometimes you will have a person who lives a religious life but always has subconscious doubts at the back of his mind, which kick in when he is in a tight situation.
- Combine these factors with the pressure that he was experiencing from the wicked people who were mocking him for over a hundred years, and some even wanted to kill him. It is possible that he panicked when the flood actually came.

> - I argued that Noah came to the ark, but only actually entered it 7 days later.
- You argued "Besides that point, the idea that they were gathered around the ark but not go in until the seventh day is simply ignoring the text. Genesis 7:7 plainly says they "went into." They did not stand around the ark and wait seven days. They went into the ark. After which time the flood waters came. What reason is there for an "after" if there is not a date to pin it to? The date of the entering into the ark?"
Does it really say that they "went into" the ark? The word "into" used in this verse is "אל/el" which also plainly means "to".
They came TO the ark.
Proof of this translation:
"Vayomer Elokim el Moshe [...]"
[...] וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים אֶל משֶׁה
And G-d said to Moses [...]"
-
Exodus 3:14
The translation of this verse is certainly not "God said into Moses". What you translate as "into" can also be translated as "to".

> "Be'etzem hayom" which means "on that very day", is, if I understand correctly, synonymous with "in broad daylight", which is what R' Yochanan was trying to explain.

> So let's clear things up. "For in another seven days, I will make it rain upon the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will blot out all beings that I have made, off the face of the earth." -Genesis 7:4 During these seven days, they were mourning for Methuselah. It was raining during these 7 days, but not hard; to give the people an opportunity to repent. At this point, Noah came to his ark but did not enter. And then, "In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on this day, all the springs of the great deep were split, and the windows of the heavens opened up." - Genesis 7:11. The flood began. The rain started in the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the tenth day, and intensified gradually; which forced Noah to enter the ark on the 17th of the second month. (Which was either Cheshvan or Iyar)

I apologize if I was unable to address everything, as I was pressured at the last moment.

jkgraves735

Pro

My opponent is using the Midrash that his fundamentalist interpretation allows for. This, however, does not negate my arguments.

Quite frankly, my opponent is using circular reasoning "My holy text says X is true, so X must be true." The Midrash can be wrong, and that is what I am arguing. I doubt you'd give a Christian the same leeway to let the New Testament interpret the Torah without providing evidence.

My concentration for this round, as I think will be the concentration for the next two rounds: Genesis 7:7 and whether it truly means "went into." My opponent misunderstood my argument.

My argument for "go into" in verse 7 was NOT that the preposition "el" went strictly "into." Instead, I was arguing that the root word "בּוֹא" was used both in 7:7 in 7:11. Combined with a prepositional el, this certainly denotes a coming into.



I want to keep this brief so the reader's can get a very, very blunt look at this without the fluff of other needless point:

1. My opponent is using circular reasoning by saying his holy texts' interpretation of his holy texts is 100% correct without discussion.

2. The word for "into" that I was discussing was not the "el" preposition that my opponent described. It was a combination of root-word bo and el that creates the denotation of entering... and it's used in both Genesis 7:7 and 7:11.

Debate Round No. 3
talmid

Con

You were not arguing that the Midrash could be wrong, you were arguing that the Bible has contradictions. The Midrash, which contains exegetical discourses as well as homiletical teachings, can help us resolve some of these apparent contradictions. I haven't checked the Midrash thoroughly here, but if I am not mistaken; it does not talk too much about this particular apparent contradiction. This is possibly because the rabbis did not detect any apparent contradiction, and you're digging for one for the sake of arguments. Nevertheless, the Midrash has other things to tell us about this part of the Torah, like the 7 days, etc. All of your arguments reflect off of the Documentary Hypothesis, so why shouldn't my arguments reflect off of the Midrash? And are we really going to let this debate become a grammar war? I think we have better things to talk about, like other apparent contradictions which you can bring up. But still, it would be improper to leave my response at that.

You are arguing that the root word בוא (transliteration: bo) combined with the prepositional word אֶל (transliteration: el) denotes "went into/going into/came into"... But this is false. Bo means come, and el means to or into. It can also mean come to, not only come into. In fact, I can even give you a scriptural verse which uses it in this context.
"Veyad Hashem hayita eli ba'erev lifnei bo hapalit vayiftach et pi ad bo eli baboker vayipatach pi velo ne'elamti od"
"Now the hand of the Lord had been upon me in the evening before the coming of the fugitive and He opened my mouth before [his] coming to me in the morning, and my mouth was opened and I was no longer mute"
Will you translate that verse as "coming into me"?

Our first verse (7:7) can be translated as "coming to", and our second verse can be translated as "coming into" with the context that I provided above from the Midrash. If you want to translate them both as "coming into" - go ahead. The least you can do, however, is admit that there is not necessarily a contradiction. There's a famous and very relevant Midrash which relates,

When Moses wrote the Torah and came to the verse "Let us make Man", which is in the plural and implies ח"ו there is more than one Creator, he said: "Sovereign of the Universe! Why do you thus furnish a pretext for heretics to maintain that there is a plurality of divinities?" "Write!" G-d replied. "Whoever wishes to err will err..." That is, one who sincerely seeks the truth will see it; one who looks for an excuse to blaspheme will find it. (Chumash, Stone Edition).
jkgraves735

Pro

jkgraves735 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
talmid

Con

talmid forfeited this round.
jkgraves735

Pro

jkgraves735 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by talmid 1 year ago
talmid
For my own convenience (since I cannot use the computer on Saturday, and it is Thursday where I live), please, when you finish your argument; delay your posting. It is preferable if you can post it on Sunday, or on Saturday, but please not on Friday.
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