"...but try the spirits whether they are of God..." (1 Jno. 4:1)


Volume Four, Number Four Winter 1996

JUST WHO ISN'T READING THE BIBLE CAREFULLY ENOUGH?


Farrell Till

In replying to my article "Squeezing Fifty Years into Twenty" (Challenge, Summer 1994, pp 56), Editor Jerry McDonald said, "I never cease to be amazed at the lengths that skeptics and atheists will go in order to prove an untenable position." Well, perhaps he should take a good hard look at the ridiculous extremes that he resorts to in his effort to defend Bible inerrancy. If there was ever a position that is completely untenable, it is the doctrine of biblical inerrancy.

The thrust of McDonald's response to my article was that Abinadab who was given custody of the ark of the covenant did not live on a hill in Kirjathjearim but in the town of Gibeah. His quot;evidence" consisted of two points: (1) Second Samuel 6:3 (KJV) states that David brought the ark "out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah" and (2) the word gibeah in Hebrew means "the hill." Hence, he reasoned that 1 Samuel 7:1, which states that the men of Kirjathjearim brought the ark to the house of Abinadab "on the hill," didn't mean that they took the ark to Abinadab's house on a hill in Kirjathjearim but to Abinadab's house on a hill that was in Gibeah. In other words, McDonald is arguing that "on the hill" was mistranslated in 1 Samuel 7:1; it should have been translated to read that the men of Kirjathjearim took the ark to the house of Abinadab in Gibeah.

One wonders, of course, why McDonald doesn't recognize the possibility that mistranslated in the KJV version [sic] occurred in 2 Samuel 7:3 where it says that the house of Abinadab, from which David took the ark, was 'in Gibeah." Since gibeah in Hebrew meant "the hill," why isn't it possible that the KJV translators erred in saying that Abinadab's house was "in Gibeah" rather than "on the hill"?

The evidence indicates that this is exactly what happened. I have checked the ASV, NIV, RSV, NRSV, JB, REB, NEB, NAB, NCV, GNB, NWT, the Amplified Bible, the New Berkeley Version, Moffatt's, Young's Literal Translation, Hendrickson's Interlinear Bible, the Septuagint, Brenton's Translation of the Septuagint-all of these versions render the location of Abinadab's house in 2 Samuel 6:3 as "on the hill" or equivalent. Even the NKJV says, "So they set the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill." Obviously, Bible scholars don't agree with McDonald's farfetched theory of mistranslation in 1 Samuel 7:1. Instead, they recognized that mistranslation in the KJV occurred in 2 Samuel 6:3, not 1 Samuel 7:1. Abinadab's house wasn't in the town named Gibeah (the hill) but it was located on the hill in Kirjathjearim.

I won't play McDonald's game that consists of speculating without offering proof, so let's now look at the textual evidence that supports my claim and discredits McDonald's. Let's notice first of all that 2 Samuel 7:1 says that David "arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale Judah to bring up from there the ark of God." Now why did David go with all the people from Baale Judah to bring from there the ark of God if the ark of God was in Gibeah? The answer is simple: the ark was at Kirjathjearim, and Baale Judah was another name for Kirjathjearim. Let's just let McDonald's inerrant word of God prove that I am right about this.

Joshua 15:9 refers to the town of Baalah and then adds, parenthetically, "The same is Kiriathjearim. Verse 60 of this same chapter refers to the town as Kirjearim.

I won't play McDonald's game that consists of speculating without offering proof, so let's now look at the textual evidence that supports my claim and discredits McDonald's. Let's notice first of all that 2 Samuel 7:1 says that David "arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale Judah to bring up from there the ark of God." Now why did David go with all the people from Baale Judah to bring from there the ark of God if the ark of God was in Gibeah? The answer is simple: the ark was at Kirjathjearim, and Baale Judah was another name for Kirjathjearim. Let's just let McDonald's inerrant word of God prove that I am right about this.

Joshua 15:9 refers to the town of Baalah and then adds, parenthetically, "The same is Kiriathjearim. Verse 60 of this same chapter refers to the town as Kiriathbaal and then adds parenthetically, "The same is Kirjathjearim." The same name and the same parenthetical explanation are repeated in Joshua 18:1415. Eerdmans Bible Dictionary gives the following definition of Kirjathjearim:

A city on the border of Judah and Benjamin, near where those territories adjoined Dan (KJV "Kirjathjearim"). It was reckoned among the possessions of Judah (Josh. 15:9, 60; 18:1415), although at verse 28 some versions assign it to Benjamin. Probably originally known as Kiriathbaal (Josh 15:60; 18:14), Kiratharim (Ezra 2:25), Baalah (Josh 15:9; 1 Chr. 13:6, and Baalejudah (2 Sam. 6:2) [1987, p.628].

Later in this same context, Eerdmans said that the Philistines returned the ark of the covenant to the Israelite inhabitants of Kiriathjearim who enshrined it in the house of Abinadab under the care of his son Eleazar (1 Sam. 6:217:2); "here it remained for twenty years before David transported it to Jerusalem."

Is this enough to convince McDonald that he is wrong? Certainly not. I have had enough debating experience with the man to know that nothing will budge him from his Bibleinerrancy position. However, for the benefit of those who are more open minded, let's look at 2 Samuel 6:14 alongside the parallel version of David's removal of the ark from the house of Abinadab in 1 Chronicles. I will quote both passages from McDonald's beloved KJV:

2 Samuel 6:14, Again, David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose, and went with all the people that were with him from Baale of Judah, to bring up, from thence the ark of God, whose name is called by the name of the LORD of hosts that dwelleth between the cherubims. And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah....

1 Chronicles 13:57, So David gathered all Israel together, from Shihor of Egypt even unto the entering of Hemath to bring the ark of God from Kirjathjearim. And David went up, and all Israel, to Baalah, that is, to Kirjathjearim, which belonged to Judah, to bring up thence the ark of God the LORD, that dwelleth between the cherubims, whose name is called on it. And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab....

Now what could be clearer than this? David gathered the people together "to bring the ark of God from Kirhathjearim," exactly where 1 Samuel 7:12 says that the ark was taken to. After the people were gathered together, they went up to Baalah, which is explicitly identified as another name for Kirjathjearim. Why did they go to Kirjathjearim? Well, they went to "bring up thence" the ark of God. Does McDonald know what thence means? If so, perhaps he will tell us why they went to Kirjathjearim to bring the ark "thence," if the ark wasn't in Kirjathjearim but in a town named Gibeah.

Let's notice also that this place where David and the people went to get the ark "belonged to Judah" (v:6), but the town named Gibeah (the hill) belonged to Benjamin. This is where the rape of the Levite's concubine occurred (Judges 19:1230), which caused the bitter intertribal war between Benjamin and the other tribes of Israel (Judges 20). All of the textual evidence objectively considered shows that McDonald has it all backwards. Mistranslation did not occur in 1 Samuel 7:12 but in 2 Samuel 6:14. Abinadab's house was on a hill in the town of Kirjathjearim, and the men of this town took the ark to Abinadab's house, where it remained for 20 years, or so we are told in 1 Samuel 7:2. We are supposed to believe that somehow the ark was taken to Abinadab's house before king Saul began his reign but that the ark wasn't removed from Abinadab's house until after Saul had reigned for 40 years (Acts 13:21). If this isn't squeezing 50 years into 20, what would you call it?

McDonald concluded his imaginative attempt to explain away this problem by saying, "Now there is not a thing in the world wrong with that interpretation (except for the fact that it doesn't fit Mr. Till's conclusion that the Bible is not inspired by God," but I beg to differ with him. There is something seriously wrong with his interpretation besides the fact that it disagrees with my position that the Bible was not inspired by God. It simply doesn't agree with the overwhelming textual evidence that I have cited above. If we accept the facevalue meaning of the Bible text, we will have the following facts:

  1. The ark of God was taken to Abinadab's house on the hill in Kirjathjearim (1 Sam. 7:1).
  2. This happened before Saul became king (1 Sam. 9).
  3. The ark stayed in Kirjathjearim for twenty years (1 Sam. 7:2).
  4. Saul reigned as king for 40 years (Acts 13:21).
  5. After Saul's reign was over and David was king, he took men to Kirjathjearim "to bring up from there the ark of God" (1 Chron. 13:6).
  6. David's men "set the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill" (2 Sam. 6:3).

Now as I said before, if this isn't squeezing 50 years into 20, I don't know what you would call it. McDonald accused me of not reading the Bible carefully enough, but the predicament he is now in is the result of dreaming up a whatitcouldhavebeen hypothesis and then not testing it against all relevant passages in the Bible before publishing it in his onagain, offagain paper. So we have to wonder just who needs to read the Bible more carefully. McDonald never tires of saying that if I would "spend half as much time trying to harmonize these accounts as [I] spend trying find contradictions, [I] would find far fewer places to complain about." But look whose talking. If he would spend just half as much time trying to understand the facevalue meaning of the biblical text as he does looking for howitcouldhavebeen scenarios to "explain" away flagrant textual inconsistencies, he just might begin to see that the Bible is nowhere close to being the uniquely consistent work of perfect harmony that he constantly claims it is. At any rate, we will all look forward to watching him try to climb out of the hole he has dug himself into this time. (Farrell's address is P.O. Box 717, Canton, IL 615200717)


CHALLENGE is published quarterly by Challenge Publications.
Jerry D. McDonald, Editor; Michael P. Hughes, Associate Editor.


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