Refuting Funny Bible Contradictions

We’ve almost all heard the claim by now — “the Bible is filled with contradictions!!”, but despite that, we’ve almost never actually seen a self-proclaimed contradiction worth more than a few seconds to deal with. You’d imagine that the skeptic would eventually get it — that they have no clue what they are talking about, but they always seem oblivious to it. So I decided to put together a quick debunking of some funny Bible errors.

The first one has to do with where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 5:1: When He saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain, and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.

Luke 6:17: After coming down with them, He stood on a plain with a large crowd of His disciples and a great number of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon.

So, was it on a plain or a mountain? It clearly can’t be both!

Here’s a picture of a picture of a plain on a mountain.

It almost looks to much like a plain, but that plain right there is actually sitting on a mountain. So, it looks like it can be both. Next contradiction? How many sons did Absalom have?

2 Samuel 14:27: Three sons were born to Absalom, and a daughter named Tamar, who was a beautiful woman.

2 Samuel 18:18: When he was alive, Absalom had set up a pillar for himself in the King’s Valley, for he had said, “I have no son to preserve the memory of my name.” So he gave the pillar his name. It is still called Absalom’s Monument today.

So, did Absalom have three sons, or none at all according to 2 Samuel 18:18?

A way to resolve this passage is by actually reading the passage, something that gets in the way of most skeptics when trying to seep out a contradiction from anything. Absalom does “I have no sons”, he says “I have no sons to preserve the memory of my name” — in other words, we know he did have sons, but they all died, and Absalom therefore has no sons to preserve his lineage.

For the next one, only one verse needs to be quoted.

Judges 1:19: The Lord was with Judah and enabled them to take possession of the hill country, but they could not drive out the people who were living in the valley because those people had iron chariots.

According to this passage, it almost seems as if God is unable to defeat the people who were living in the valley because they had iron chariots! But isn’t God all-powerful, aren’t we told in the Bible that with God all things are possible? It’s almost pretty obvious, the verse specifically said that Judah went to war with both the hill country and the people living in the valley. We are told God was with and enabled Judah to take the hill country, the verse does not say that He was with Judah in the battle against the people living in the valley. And without the help of God, Judah was unable to defeat the people living in the valley. In fact, that is exactly what the verse is implying — that the Israelite’s, without God, are unable to defeat any of their foes. In other words, the contradiction only arises when one does not actually read the passage.

One more!

Genesis 4:17:  Cain was intimate with his wife, and she conceived and gave birth to Enoch. Then Cain became the builder of a city, and he named the city Enoch after his son.

If you read Genesis 1-4, it notes that God created Adam and Eve, and then Adam and Eve had two sons — Cain and Abel. Which means, there are four humans in the entire world, right? So where on Earth does Cain get his wife from, if the only other recorded child of Adam and Eve is Abel (whom Cain killed)?

Notice, Cain and Abel are the only recorded children of Adam and Eve (aside from Seth, who is born later). In fact, we are not told a single daughter is born anywhere in the Bible until Genesis 5, as Genesis 1-4 hasn’t any interest in the women (aside from Eve) at this point into the story, rather it focuses on the predominant figures, which are obviously men. Genesis 1-4 simply was not recording the female descendants of Adam and Eve, and we know that they had female descendants anyways because Genesis 5:4 says “Adam lived 800 years after the birth of Seth, and he fathered other sons and daughters“. So there were in fact women around for Cain to marry, we just aren’t told any were born until Genesis 5:4.

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God, Jealousy and Sin

As I go around the internet reading about God, Christianity, and encountering the disbelievers, I usually notice they always come up with the most ridiculous of accusations against our faith. Recently, one of them has tried to come up with the claim that the Bible invokes God as one who sins! So, how did they come up with such a claim? Well, let’s take a look.

God told Moses that when He was giving the Ten Commandments, He was a jealous God.

[Exodus 20:4-6] Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. You must not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the fathers’ sin, to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commands.

This is the Third Commandment. Now, the disbeliever that I encountered had also known of a text in the New Testament which condemns jealousy.

[1 Corinthians 3:3] because you are still fleshly. For since there is envy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and living like unbelievers?

This verse condemns envy, however jealousy and envy are two synonymous words. Paul also outright condemns jealousy in Galatians 5:19-21, so the challenge that is given is not fictional. So what is the solution? God simply does not commit the fleshly of course, and so the solution bears down to the meaning of jealousy in the two passages. There is a difference between sanctified jealousy and sinful jealousy, and that is what we are going to be looking at to solve this discrepancy.

  1. Sanctified jealousy. Sanctified jealousy is the natural response one has when an established relationship is violated — if a husband or wife find out that the other has committed adultery with another person, the husband or wife would experience jealousy, as a negative response to the violation of their relationship.
  2. Sinful jealousy. Sinful jealousy is when one covets another possession from another, such as if you know someone who is quite wealthy, and you are jealous that they bear possessions that you do not. Sinful jealousy involves no relationship, rather when one takes a look at another unrelated person and feels as if they should have or bear what that person possesses, even though they have no claim to such possessions. This is similar to what is condemned in the Tenth Commandment.

As we can see here, God’s jealousy of us breaking our covenant with Him, of us made in His image worshiping false man-made idols, is sanctified, whilst is of course not sinful whatsoever. Thus, we can see this discrepancy being solved once we take a much deeper look at the issue at hand, and we realize that we should never doubt God — who are we to doubt God’s glory when His knowledge is infinitely greater than our own?

[Psalm 139:17-18] God, how difficult Your thoughts are for me to comprehend; how vast their sum is! If I counted them, they would outnumber the grains of sand; when I wake up, I am still with You.

Does Genesis 1 Contradict Genesis 2?

There are a few absurd accusations of Biblical contradictions made, but probably the most popular one is regarding whether or not Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 contradict.

One must truly ask the unbelievers — how exactly do they devise a contradiction between two chronological texts that are not talking about the same thing? Let’s take a look, starting with Genesis 1.

[Genesis 1:20-27]  Then God said, “Let the water swarm with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” So God created the large sea-creatures and every living creature that moves and swarms in the water, according to their kinds. He also created every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. So God blessed them, “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the waters of the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.” Evening came and then morning: the fifth day. Then God said, “Let the earth produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that crawl, and the wildlife of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. So God made the wildlife of the earth according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and creatures that crawl on the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.

Let us now see what Genesis 2 has to say.

[Genesis 2:8-19] The Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there He placed the man He had formed. The Lord God caused to grow out of the ground every tree pleasing in appearance and good for food, including the tree of life in the middle of the garden, as well as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river went out from Eden to water the garden. From there it divided and became the source of four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon, which flows through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. Gold from that land is pure; bdellium and onyx are also there. The name of the second river is Gihon, which flows through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris, which runs east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. The Lord God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.” Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his complement.” So the Lord God formed out of the ground every wild animal and every bird of the sky, and brought each to the man to see what he would call it. And whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.

They are in fact quite long quotations of each chapter, but in Genesis 1, we see plants and animals are made first, and then man — however in Genesis 2, man appears before plants and animals! A clear contradiction, right??

Now that you’ve finished laughing off that statement, let us answer this accusation. For one, Genesis 2 does not have anything to do with re-describing the creation all over again — it’s talking about something completely different. If Genesis 2 were completely re-describing all of creation, which had just been explained in the earlier chapter, why doesn’t it mention the creation of the heavens and earth, sun and moon, sky, etc?

In reality, Genesis 2 is describing what God is creating in the Garden of Eden. Not the whole world or even the whole universe, just the Garden of Eden — independent of the rest of the world. In the rest of the world, God had already created plants and animals before Adam and Eve were formed. God was not wholesale creating animals and birds in Genesis 2:19, He was just placing them in the Garden of Eden. The funny thing is, Genesis 2:19 is likely past-tense in the original Hebrew, so in fact there would be no creation going on here at all — it is stating how God had already formed the plants and animals. So not only is Genesis 1 and 2 not both talking about the creation of the world, and thus not contradicting, not only does Genesis 2 specifically reference the Garden of Eden, but it doesn’t state when the animals and plants had been created either way, as the Hebrew is past-tense and so it would simply be stating God had already previously formed them, rather than that He was forming them during that moment.

Rather than having a Bible contradiction on our hands, it looks like this is nothing more than a simple misunderstanding. A strange one to presume against the Bible in the first place, but a misunderstanding nonetheless. A laughable one as well.