Historical Problems in Bible

by IronGland 42 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • hooberus
    Some people backing the accuracy of the size of the army have drawn comparisons with what modern Israel can do. This is a false comparison, as modern Israel is considerably larger. Such people have also ignored the quote made by City Fan;

    It (Canaan) gradually developed into a mature system with large cities, medium sized regional market centers, and small villages. By the highpoint of this settlement wave in the eighth century BCE, after the establishment of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, it encompassed over 500 sites, with a population of about 160,000. - Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel, Finkelstein and Silberman.

    According to the various census ancient Israel (which I believe occupied more land than modern Israel) had a considerable population. I hope to post some more information shortly backing up the figures in 2 Chronichles 13.

  • Abaddon

    A Paduan;

    neither totally historically accurate or inspired.

    That's really a jw thing - to insist upon the two.

    And what do you call believing something is inspired when it is demonstrably inaccurate? Please explain why god would use a book with errors in to speak to mankind. Do you feel that god has spoken to mankind many times through many different books, and if so, do you include 'Chicken Soup for the Soul'?

    Jesus spoke of Jonah, but the story is just that - a story - no one got swallowed by a whale and rode around under the sea - though I do believe he may have died.

    Consider a story - consider how they grow - and that the wheat is kept and the chaff is burned.

    The chaff is staw - for making bricks.

    A Padaun, if you want to ignore my previously made point about the dangers of literalism;

    Because people who believe the Bible is accurate and inspired will use it as justification for their behaviour, and I'm sure we both know that's been bad at times. If someone realises that the Bible is niether accurate or inspired, it means they are less likely to try to impose their beliefs on others, or commit actions only justified relgiously.

    ... go ahead, ignore the fact there are people, people in your street, people on this board who DO treat the Bible as accurate and inspired with the knock-on effects I describe. I really don't mind you ignoring that point if it's not important to you, but you have to understand you ignoring it is not important to me.

    hooberus; Funny how you've never not rebutted the evidence of varves or dendrochronology, and rather than attempt to, you just post links.

    Funny how you missed the point of this;

    I was more going for having a specious argument, i.e. one with a false look of truth or genuineness. A lot of scriptures like that in the Bible are exactly what I'd expect someone to say if they needed people to believe them without direct evidence;

    Person 1; "The world's going to end!"

    Person 2; "What's happened, wife left you, lost your job?"

    Person1; "No, no, I mean the world is going to end!"

    Person 2; "Is it? Well, I dunno, looks like it might rain, but tomorrow's sunny for sure."

    Person 1; "No, I mean END, as in cease to be, God kicking ass, smiting the rightou... er smiting the unrightous and being nice to his friends; you can be his friedn if you do this!"

    Person 2; "But that's what they ALL say. Had a Third Day Hoppist here saying more or less the same thing, and we had other ones back in me Pa's day, and we're still here!"

    Person 1; "AhHa!"

    Person 2; "What, the Swedish band?"

    Person 1; "No, I mean, here in the Second Book of I Told You So it says "Yay, verrilly, and whene sommeonee sayeth 'don't be so bleedin' stupid, for it all be as it was and isn't gonna change much, and anyways, alls you bastards say that and nothing happens', that is whenne the endde will comme".

    Person 2; "Oh lordy! Lawks! The end is nigh!"


    It's just not very convincing, it's almost as bad as using the 'All scriptures are inspired...' to prove the Bible was inspired!

    ... so much so you used a scripture with the equivalent argument in.

    I look forward to your attempt to show Israel had a large enough population to support the imaginative army sizes claimed in the Bible.

    A Paduan; do you see why literalism is dangerous NOW?

  • City Fan
  • City Fan
    City Fan

    I have to agree with Abaddon here. If the bible was inspired then it would also be accurate. But it was the obvious myths and legends in the bible that started my slow fade from the jw’s.

    The Kingdom built by David and Solomon, the military strength and vast wealth are all obviously exaggerated. For all their reported wealth and power, neither David or Solomon are mentioned in any known Egyptian or Mesopotamian text. Archaeology instead suggests that David was little more than an Iron Age chieftain.

    Archaeologist W.G. Dever talking about the population size for the biblical ‘United Monarchy’ states that ca. 100 thousand is not too high a figure for all of

    But the bibles exaggerated numbers start much earlier than this. The size of the army commanded by Joshua for the invasion of the promised land is given as 601,730 (Numbers 26:51). So according to the bible at this time the estimated size of the Israelite nation was about 5 million people. But Deutoronomy 7:1 lists seven nations that are greater and mightier than the Israelites. So according to the bible the estimated population size for Palestine about the 13 th century BC was about 30 – 40 million. That’s a much greater population density than the most densely populated parts of modern !

    But again does archaeology agree with this? Almost 400 Amarna tablets have been found that detail letters sent to in the 13 th century BC by rulers of city-states in including , Shechem, , Hazor and . The Amarna letters show that was an Egyptian province with garrisons stationed at key sites throughout the country. The powerful Canaanite enemies of the book of Joshua were in fact extremely weak. The small scale of this society is shown by an Amarna letter sent by the king of to Pharoah to supply 50 men to protect the land. Another letter sent by the king of requests 100 soldiers to guard the city from an attack by neighbouring Shechem.

    The numbers for the Exodus from also do not add up. The Israelites left with over 600,000 armed men. (Exodus ; ; Numbers 1:1-3,45-46). Again this gives a conservative estimate for the size of the Israelite nation as 4-5 million. The estimated size of the population in during the was only about 4 million!

    Only 70 people had entered with Joseph 430 years previously (Exodus 1:5; ). This gives a population growth rate of approx. 2.6% for the Israelites whilst in . This was at a time when because of death rates through disease and famine Egypt had a population growth rate of less than 0.1%, and a life expectancy of about 22 years.

    As I’ve stated before, the size of the armies recorded in the bible of both and would have made them a greater power than , , or any other so-called ‘world power’.

  • City Fan
    City Fan

    Well I've edited that post 5 times now and it still won't include everything I typed - oh well you get the drift.

    I'm off to the pub!!

  • A Paduan
    A Paduan


    I know that literalism is problematic, sometimes greatly - but still, do I throw away my bible because there are literalists?

    And City Fan,

    As with Abbaddon, If the bible was inspired then it would also be accurate. I believe that to be a hangover of jw style fundamentalism.

    Did the wt ever talk about the wheat and the chaff ?


  • Abaddon

    A Paduan; No, you don't have to throw away your Bible because of literalists. It's good you accept that problems are caused by literalists.

    You have made no attempt to explain why god would allow a flawed book to explain his purpose.

    I think this is illogical; do Mercedes make handbooks for their cars that give false information? What argument do you use to support your opinion?

    You have also not answered the question about whether you believe that god has communicated elements of his word in many books to many religions, or whether it's just the Bible.

    I ask as I can understand if you believe that 'all the great sacred books are written by men, and contain insights to the divine, although are not accurate or reliable', but I can't understand if you allow the level of inaccuracy AND restrict it to just the Bible.

  • RunningMan

    The numbers in the Bible are grossly exaggerated. Take, for example, the simple logistical problems that would have developed out of something as simple as the camp of Israel going to the bathroom. Here is a page out of my book (currently about 2/3 finished) that you might find interesting:

    "As I mentioned earlier, approximately 600,000 Israelite warriors left Egypt during the exodus. If we assume one warrior for every three persons, that brings the population of the exodus to 1.8 million. For round figures, let’s assume there were two million of them. Some persons have estimated this ratio considerably higher, but as always, I give the Bible the benefit of the doubt.

    This group lived in a temporary camp that wandered throughout the wilderness for forty years. Needless to say, a population, or should I say poopulation (a pun you will understand later) of two million, living in tents, creates tremendous logistical difficulties.

    Let’s focus in on the logistical difficulties encountered in just one of the necessities of human life.

    “You shall have a place outside the camp and you shall go out to it; and you shall have a stick with your weapons; and when you sit down outside, you shall dig a hole with it, and turn back and cover up your excrement. Because the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp,” – Deut 23:11-14

    I guess He didn’t want to step in anything.

    Now, let’s calculate. If each person relieved himself only twice a day (an obviously low estimate), and each deposit used one square foot of land surface (also a pretty low estimate), that means that every day, the Israelites turned 93 acres of land into a sewage lagoon. If they stayed in the same spot for a month, around 4 ½ square miles would be consumed – a veritable poop farm.

    When you consider that there were two million people living in tents, and every one of them had to leave the camp to go to the bathroom – a bathroom that moved farther away every day, they must have spent half their life walking.

    If we assume that the camp had a population density equal to modern Hong Kong (which is totally ridiculous, but we’ll give the Bible the benefit of the doubt, again), it would have occupied at least 44 square miles. That means that if you lived in the center of the camp, you would need to walk 3.7 miles, each way, every time you went to the bathroom. [1] You would need to plan your bathroom breaks hours in advance. And, by the time you returned, you would need to go again. You’d think that God could have come up with a better system.

    Not only that, if we assume that each of these persons spent only two minutes digging their hole and doing their business, that means that at any one time, there would be a minimum of 5,500 persons simultaneously squatting on their holes. It must have looked like a pooping convention.

    There are a host of other problems with this story.

    - Why were the Israelites running from and afraid of a mere 600 Egyptian chariots? (Ex 14:7)

    - Why were they afraid to go into a city that had the massive number of 5000 warriors?

    - The population of Egypt prior to the exodus was actually less than the number of Israelites who left it. That doesn’t make any sense.

    In other words, there weren’t nearly as many Israelites in the camp as the Bible claims. In fact, a more reasonable estimate for the number is around 7,000, not two million. [2] That is, assuming that the exodus even happened. Once again, the Bible exaggerates, this time overstating the number by at least 300 times. And, don’t forget that I have given the Bible the benefit of every doubt by underestimating the ratio of warriors to population, ignoring the presence of their animals, assuming impossibly high population densities, and attributing almost legendary bladder capacity to the Hebrews."

    [1] Hong Kong density is 45,000 persons per square mile. 2,000,000 / 45,000 = 44.4 sq miles. The smallest configuration of 44.4 square miles would be a circle with a radius of 3.75 miles.

    [2] http://beythakadosh.ancient-hebrew.org/sh_exodus.html

  • funkyderek
    The type of minor copyist errors used by Christains to explain issues such as different ages in certain passages are vastly different than Book of Mormon changes or charges by the Mormon church that the bible is incorrectly translated. I may later give a summary of the differences.

    Hooberus, if such a mistake can creep in and propagate despite clearly being absurd, how do you know that there are not more significant copying errors that have gone unnoticed simply because they resulted in no immediately obvious absurdity?

  • hooberus

    I plan on dealing with several issues raised here. I will continue to edit this post, and will answer questions only after it is completed.

    Modern Populations

    For reference purposed here is the modern populations of several mid-east and countries near the mid-east.

    Israel 6.5 million (10 million counting occupied territories)

    (note: most of modern Israel's population is compacted in a relaitively small area of this small country) http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/History/ispopmap.html (also note that ancient Isreal was approx 3 times as large as modern Israel during the times of Solomon)

    Jordan 5 million

    Syria 16.3 million

    (note much of Jordan and Syria were parts of Israel in the time of Solomon)

    Egypt 66 million

    Ethiopia 61.1 million

    Sudan 29 million

    Modern Growth Rates of the Two Least Devolped Nations from Above

    Ethiopia 3.29%growth rate

    Sudan 2.31% growth rate

    Ancient Populations (as recorded in the Bible)


    Numbers 1:46 census 603,550 males above the age of 20 who were able to go to war

    Numbers 26:51 census total 601,730 males above the age of 20 who were able to go to war

    (note: this is not referring to a full time standing army, but only the number of available males.)

    The total population of Israel based on these figures would have been approx. 3 million.

    2 Chronicles 21: 5 census 1,570,000 males who were able to go to war

    Are these censuses credible? (under construction)

    Math Supporting Biblical Numbers





    How Big was Israels Army?

    The number of men of military age given in Numbers (603,550) is not the number of the fulltime standing army, but the number of males who were able to go to war. I am not in the army, yet I am able to go to war. It is incorrect for people to make calculations claiming that these were "armed men" or a standing army.

    The number of men of military ability in the census in 2 chronicles 21:5 was also not the size of the standing army, but as in Numbers the size of the population of men who were able to draw sword. This is shown by the fact that a census had to be taken. Military units are divided into divisions of pre-set numbers so there is no need to take a census of them!

    1 Chronicles Chapter 27 gives the size of the standing army of Israel at 288,000 of which only 24,000 (1 division) was on duty at any given month.


    Too few chariots to be afraid of?

    "And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them." Exodus 14:7 KJV

    " and he took six hundred select chariots, and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them." Exodus 14:7 NASB

    Too much poop?

    The tribes of Israel were not one large homogenous camp, but were actually several relatively independant camps arranged by tribes in to a rectangular pattern. There were 3 tribes on each side with a large open space in the middle. Though each of the 3 tribes on each side were combined into a single large camp, they were still distinctive. Numbers chapter 2 gives the arrangement.


    Also each tribe was sub-divided.

    Thus for someone to go to the bathroom outside the camp did not require a long walk but only to go to the local "poop" station. Each tribe probably had dozens of these locations. The argument above assumes a single poop station for the entire 2-3 million people camp which is ridiculous. The argument also places everyone into one large camp which is incorrect.

    Furthermore the argument assumes that they stayed in place for a whole month which may not be valid.

    Also the one square foot per "incident" factor would be invalidated by the possible use of trenches at these locations.

    Furthermore a calculation was made of how many people were squatting at any given time. This same argument could be applied to any realatively large city today such as Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The fact that thousands of people are "squatting" at any given time does not disprove the existence of the numbers of people in Isreal any more than ot disproves the number of people in Oklahoma City today.

    Finally even if there were a poop problem (which I don't believe there was) this does not disprove the existance of the numbers in the exodus. If the population of Oklahoma City were to go into the Oklahaoma plains they may have a poop problem, however they would still exist.

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