Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Bible “Contradictions” Rebutted, #2
Contradiction claim #8, rabbits do not chew their cud
Lev. 11:6 And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
'Gerah', the term which appears in the MT means (chewed) cud, and also perhaps grain, or berry (also a 20th of a sheckel, but I think that we can agree that that is irrelevant here). It does *not* mean dung, and there is a perfectly adequate Hebrew word for that, which could have been used. Furthermore, the phrase translated “chew the cud” in the KJV is more exactly “bring up the cud”. Rabbits do not bring up anything; they let it go all the way through, then eat it again. The description given in Leviticus is inaccurate, and that's that. Rabbits do eat their own dung; they do not bring anything up and chew on it.
This one needs a more involved response, so I will let the book “When Critics Ask,” by Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe, give the answer here:
Although they did not chew the cud in the modern technical sense, they did engage in a chewing action that looked the same to an observer. Thus, they are listed with other animals that chew the cud so that the common person could make the distinction from his or her everyday observations.
Animals which chew the cud are identified as ruminants; they regurgitate food into their mouths to be chewed again. Ruminants normally have four stomachs. Neither the rock hyrax (translated “rock badger” in the NASB) nor the rabbit are ruminants and technically do not chew the cud. However, both animals move their jaws in such a manner as to appear to be chewing the cud. This action was so convincing that the great Swedish scientist Linnaeus originally classified them as ruminants.
It is now known that rabbits practice what is called “reflection,” in which indigestible vegetable matter absorbs certain bacteria and is passed as droppings and then eaten again. This process enables the rabbit to better digest it. This process is very similar to rumination, and it gives the impression of chewing the cud. So, the Hebrew phrase “chewing the cud” should not be taken in the modern technical sense, but in the ancient sense of a chewing motion that includes both rumination and reflection in the modern sense.
The list of clean and unclean animals was intended as a practical guide for the Israelite in selecting food. The average Israelite would not have been aware of the technical aspects of cud chewing, and may have otherwise considered the hyrax and rabbit as clean animals because of the appearance of cud chewing. Consequently, it was necessary to point out that, although it may appear that these were clean animals because of their chewing movement, they were not clean because they did not divide the hoof. We often follow a similar practice when talking to those who are not familiar with more technical aspects of some point. For example, we use observational language to talk about the sun rising and setting when we talk to little children. To a small child the daily cycle of the sun has the appearance of rising and setting. The description is not technically correct, but it is functionally useful for the level of understanding of the child. This is analogous to the use here in Leviticus. Technically, although the hyrax and the rabbit do not chew the cud, this description was functional at the time in order to make the point that these animals were considered unclean.
Contradiction claim #9, The bat is not a bird
Lev. 11:13-19 And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray, And the vulture, and the kite after his kind; Every raven after his kind; And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind, And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl, And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle, And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.
Deut. 14:11-18 Of all clean birds ye shall eat. But these are they of which ye shall not eat: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray, And the glede, and the kite, and the vulture after his kind, And every raven after his kind, And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind, The little owl, and the great owl, and the swan, And the pelican, and the gier eagle, and the cormorant, And the stork, and the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.
Leviticus begins by identifying what “fowl” they are not to eat, while in Deuteronomy it says “birds.” In NIV both are translated as “birds.” Studying the Hebrew words used I learned that they have a more diverse - more broader - meaning than “birds” or “fowl,” and should be more appropriately translated “flying things.” So why don’t they translate it that way? Tradition? Commentators also say that the modern identity of some of these creatures is “uncertain.” So why “bat”? Some scholars say that this Hebrew word could also include flying insects.
Contradiction claim #10, Insects do NOT have four feet
Lev. 11:21-23 Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth; Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind. But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you.
Actually, this is a matter of semantics, and how one views these insects. These particular creatures have four legs they normally walk on, and two forward legs normally used independently. Notice in v.21 he does say “which have legs above their feet.” All one has to do is look at a grasshopper or locust, and even a praying mantis, to understand that they have “four feet” and “goeth upon all four.”
Contradiction claim #11, Moses’ personality
Num.12:3: Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the fact of the earth.
Num. 31:14, 17, 18: And Moses was wroth...And Moses said unto them, "Have ye saved all the women alive? ... Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman, ... But all the women children ... keep alive for yourselves.”
The word “meek” in the KJV means “humble”. Moses was a very humble person, but that doesn’t mean he cannot be angry and order Israel to follow God’s commands for killing the pagans. Humble does not mean weak or spineless.
Contradiction claim #12, The sins of the father
Deut. 24:16 The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.
Isa. 14:21 Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers; that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities.
The Deuteronomy passage is part of the laws given to Israel, how THEY are to conduct human affairs. The point of that passage is that no one is to be punished for someone else’s sin; if a father does some evil, don’t punish his children, and if a child does something evil (adult child), then don’t punish his parents.
The Isaiah passage is discussing the destruction of Babylon. The “fathers” for generations have been idolatrous and practicing heinous rituals, etc. Because of that, the nation as a whole will be destroyed to never rise again. This will be done by God’s direction. There is nothing contradictory about these passages in context.