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The Jehu Debate
Part Two

between
 Farrell Till and Robert Turkel aka
James Patrick Holding

Till We Meet Again
(see first addendum, below)




Turkel:
More will be said on the general matter of mindset in our second essay.

Till:
In our second essay? Hmmm, I wonder who Turkel's cohorts were in the writing of these essays?

Turkel:
For now, a word about these sources we will be using. We point out that our solution from Hosea is reckoned by "commentators of all stripes." Till here throws a few useful polemics in [sic] the ring

Till:
We, we, we--yes, I do wonder why Turkel feels the need to hide behind a pseudonym and the constant references to the pedantic "we." Does he think that exposure of weakness and downright absurdity in his arguments will be less embarrassing to him if his "apologetic" efforts are hidden behind anonymity and an obviously phony "we"? He once again presents his claim that his position is "reckoned" by "commentators of all stripes," but as I will show later when I reply to a longer comment that he made about his "commentators of all stripes," he doesn't really give us enough information to determine if the "commentators" whom he quotes truly represent a cross section of biblical scholarship.

[Addendum July 2005: Readers can go to "Commentators of All Stripes," which reported the results of my research into Turkel's "sources," and see that they wore primarily inerrantist stripes and published their books mainly at fundamentalist presses like those in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and even more astonishing, all but two of them agreed that Hosea 1:4 condemned Jehu's massacre at Jezreel.]

For the sake of argument, let's just assume that Turkel's claim is accurate and that his "commentators" do indeed run the gamut from conservative to moderate to liberal biblical scholarship. How would this prove that his position in this matter is correct? His argument seems to be this: Some conservative, some moderate, and some liberal biblical scholars interpret Hosea 1:4 as I do; therefore, my position must be correct. Does Turkel know what non sequitur means? If so, he should be able to see that this is a fallacious line of reasoning, which can easily be demonstrated by applying it to other areas of theological controversy. In the question about the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth, one can find conservative, moderate, and liberal scholars who all agree that Jesus was an actual historical person, but this fact alone would certainly not prove the truth of what this spectrum of scholarship thinks on this particular matter. One could find conservative, moderate, and liberal scholars who agree that the Marcan appendix is a late addition to the gospel of Mark, but I doubt if Turkel would accept this as conclusive evidence that this part of the gospel is spurious. In the same way, the citing of "commentators of all stripes" is insufficient to prove that Hosea 1:4 did not meant that the prophet was saying that vengeance would be brought upon the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, so Turkel will have to defend his case with much more than a claim that "commentators of all stripes" agree with him. This argument could be applied to issues of... well, issues of "all stripes."

Turkel:
1) He asks how it is that this nuance I have pointed out managed to "escape the hundreds of linguistic scholars who were involved" in the translations he quotes. We will give some reasons for this shortly;

Till:
Just out of curiosity, I would like to know if anyone besides me wonders why if Turkel could refer to a nuance that "I have pointed out," he couldn't have gone on to say, "I will give some reasons for this shortly," rather than hiding behind the pedantic "we." As a former writing instructor, I'm probably more aware than others of this constant affectation in Turkel's writing, because I encountered it many times in my teaching career. I found that it was usually rooted in insecurity or the misimpression that formality or pretentiousness in writing constituted substance. In Turkel's case, I suspect that both account for the stylistic facade that he tries to hide behind.

Turkel:
for now, let only this be said:

Till:
Okay, let it be said. Who is stopping him from saying it?

Turkel:
Aside from the fact that this argument presumes a host of motives and directions upon teams of scholars about whom neither we nor Till knows a single thing,

Till:
Oh, indeed? Has Turkel never read any of the introductions that are published in most versions of the Bible. If not, then he should do so, because most of these introductions unapologetically admit to a bias for the traditional view that the Bible is the "inspired word of God." The "foreword" to the NASV says, "The New American Standard Bible has been produced with the conviction that the words of Scripture as originally penned in the Hebrew and Greek were inspired by God. Since they are the eternal Word of God, the Holy Scriptures speak with fresh power to each generation, to give wisdom that leads to salvation, that men may serve Christ to the glory of God." The preface to the NKJV says, "In faithfulness to God and to our readers, it was deemed appropriate that all participating scholars sign a statement affirming their belief in the verbal and plenary inspiration of Scripture, and in the inerrancy of the original autographs." The preface to the RSV says, "The Bible is more than a historical document to be preserved. And it is more than a classic of English literature to be cherished and admired. It is a record of God's dealings with men, of God's revelation of Himself and His will. It records the life and work of Him in whom the Word of God became flesh and dwelt among men.... It is our hope and our earnest prayer that this Revised Standard Version of the Bible may be used by God to speak to men in these momentous times, and to help them to understand and believe and obey His Word." The preface to the NIV says, "From the beginning of the project, the Committee on Bible Translation held to certain goals for the New International Version: that it would be an accurate translation and one that would have clarity and literary quality and so prove suitable for public and private reading, teaching, preaching, memorizing and liturgical use.... In working toward these goals, the translators were united in their commitment to the authority and infallibility of the Bible as God's Word in written form. They believe that it contains the divine answer to the deepest needs of humanity, that it sheds unique light on our path in a dark world, and that it sets forth the way to our eternal well-being."

I could continue by quoting the prefaces of other versions, but these are sufficient to show that Turkel's claim that "we" know not "a single thing" about the "motives and directions " of the "teams of scholars" who produced the various English translations is wrong. If their own statements are to be trusted, they were "scholars" who approached their task with the assumption that they were translating the "inspired word of God." In quoting their translations of Hosea 1:4, then, I have not relied on the works of people who were committed to ridiculing or destroying the Bible but on the conclusions of people who translated this verse with the understanding that it was a part of the verbally inspired word of God. If Turkel wants to challenge their decision, he will be found challenging the opinion of scholars of "all stripes," but that will be nothing unusual. I have found that biblicists will challenge anyone and everyone who in any way dares even to suggest that there may be mistakes or discrepancies in the Bible.

[Addendum July 2005: I have looked through both "Jehu: Black Hat or White Hat?" and a second part, which Turkel wrote presumably to answer my part of this debate, but I didn't see him try to address what I pointed out above about those who worked as translators of the various English versions of the Bible. If they were firm believers that the Bible is "the word of God" and in some cases even had to sign pledges that they were believers in the verbal inspiration of the Bible, how can Turkel deny that their translations of Hosea 1:4, which all agree in substance, reflected what they honestly believed was the equivalent meaning in English of the original Hebrew text?]

Turkel:
it should be recognized that commentaries as a rule provide much more in-depth information than mere translations, and are the products of a generally higher rank of scholarship and of much more in-depth study and analysis than the translations are. If it comes down to a battle royale between the two, commentaries should assuredly be given preference.

Till:
I'd be interested to know how Turkel decided that the word "battle" is feminine, which he implied by using the affected French feminine form of "royal." His affection aside, I'd like to see him present some reasonable evidence that commentaries "as a rule" are the "products of a generally higher rank of scholarship and of much more in-depth study and analysis than the translations are." How does he know this? Has he never read the introductions to various versions of the Bible, which describe the meticulous tasks of the translators in their consultations to decide on the most likely meanings of disputed words and expressions? Is he unaware that commentaries usually reflect the theological views of the individuals who wrote them? Find a commentary written by conservatives, and you will invariably find a commentary that is traditional in its approach to biblical hermeneutics. Find a commentary written by liberal theologians, and you will almost always find a commentary that puts scholarship above religious tradition. If Turkel doesn't know this elementary fact, I have to wonder just what planet he has been living on.

[Addendum July 2005: Basically, I am putting these internet exchanges between Turkel and me together with only minor revisions, but when they were being posted on the old alt.bible.errancy forum, some of the members would post comments now and then. I found some comments posted by Henry Neufeld on September 5, 1998, to be particularly insightful, so I am going to insert them here.

A couple of comments in this message were sufficient to draw me temporarily out of lurking. Because of the length of the message to which I'm responding, I'm going to snip everything other than those passages.

[Great big snip]

What Neufeld snipped here was Turkel's statement immediately above in which he said that commentaries contain a "higher rank of scholarship" and "much more in-depth study and analysis than the translations." Then he replied to this assertion.

I think the notion that commentaries "are the products of a generally higher rank of scholarship" than translations is one of the more ridiculous notions I've seen. In general, the standards applied to commentaries are more partisan and less consensus oriented than are those for translations, and the quality of scholarship that goes into major translations is generally of equal caliber to that which goes into commentaries. In many cases the quality of scholarship in commentaries is of lower quality.

This is especially true of major translations such as the Revised English Bible or the New Revised Standard Version, which have included some interfaith participation. The translators of Bible versions generally work toward the goal of presenting the text as clearly as possible in the receptor language; the translation accompanying a commentary quite commonly represents either an individual or a partisan viewpoint. There are very few commentaries which represent the breadth and ideological diversity of the NRSV and REB committees.

There are exceptions to this rule in the case of denominational translations, and one can detect a narrower bias in such translations as the New King James Version, New merican Standard Bible or New International Version.

[Another big snip]

Turkel:
(Naturally, depth does not equal accuracy; but we should certainly be prepared to offer better arguments in reply to such detail-work than we would to lesser-detailed work. As it is, noting our next entry, "better arguments" from Till seems [sic] quite unlikely.

Till:
It's nice of Turkel to recognize that "depth does not equal accuracy." Now if he could only realize that one who quotes "in-depth" commentaries should also be prepared to give his readers at least enough details to make informed judgments about whether the "in-depth" conclusions of biblical commentaries are tenable, he would make some real progress in his quest for fame as a biblical "apologist," but so far we have seen no indication of any such awareness. He seems to think that he can sustain a position by simply noting that Coogan or Provan or McCominsky agrees with him. This is argumentation?

Turkel:
2) Till also suggests that my commentators are "actually believers in biblical inspiration" who "are looking for a way to plug a big hole in the traditional claim that the Bible is a work of perfect harmony." Such charges are the province of those who have not the wherewithal to search for their own answers:

Till:
I have to wonder if Turkel is unaware that Bible commentaries are generally the works of people who believe that the Bible in at least some sense is the "word of God," just as Bible translations are generally the works of those with the same belief. If so, then, as I said above, I have to wonder what planet Turkel has been living on. The fact is that so-called biblical scholars are for the most part Christians of at least "some stripe." We can therefore expect in their works the same kind of objectivity that we would encounter in books written by Muslim or Mormon scholars.

[Addendum July 2005: As I showed in "Commentators of All Stripes," my research after Turkel and I had completed this debate revealed that his commentators of all stripes were really fundamentalist sources intent on defending the traditional view that the Bible is the "word of God."]

Turkel
While accusations of conspiracy are polemically viable (viz. the works of Robert Price), and manage to provide an answer without the drudgery of actual research, they deserve very little attention, other than to point out that this is exactly the sort of tactic I noted was typical of Till in AJINOD Chapter 1:

Till:
It's always amusing when an apologetic "want-to-be" resorts to logical fallacy in an effort to show fallacy in the works of those he opposes. He makes an ad hominem assault on Robert Price and me in a pathetically weak attempt to hide the same flaw in his own writing that he claims to see in what Price and I have written, i. e., providing answers "without the drudgery of actual research." Maybe Turkel just doesn't understand that stringing together quotations from commentaries, which he probably found by using computerized search modes, in agreement with his position hardly constitutes "the drudgery of actual research." One could take just about any position on Christianity or even Islam or Mormonism and by use of the same methods of "research" compile strings of fragmented quotations from an array of "scholars" and thereby "prove" that this position is undoubtedly true.

[Addendum July 2005: The comic strip for June 6, 2005, was too appropriate to go unmentioned here. Danae announced that she wanted to be a preconceptual scientist when she grew up. When asked what a preconceptual scientist was, she explained, "It's the new science of reaching a conclusion before doing research, and then simply dismissing anything contrary to your preconceived notions." When her horse said, "That's got to be the dumbest thing I ever heard," she said, "Dismissed!" The description fits Turkel perfectly. He's a preconceptual scientist..]

Non Sequitur comic strip

Turkel:
When arguments fail, polemic will substitute.

Till:
Isn't that the truth, and anyone who doubts it needs only to read Turkel's "polemics" to see the process at work. He is still so intellectually immature that he just can't see that quoting books does not constitute logical argumentation.

Turkel:
That said, let it be clarified

Till:
Okay, "let it be clarified."

Turkel:
(as if it were really needed by anyone other than Till) that my "commentators" run the spectrum from conservative to moderate to liberal. All three groups, when seeking resolutions to apparent problems, are really doing no more than any responsible historian (outside of the radical and presumptuous critical school) is doing, which is seeking first to resolve a given difficulty before assuming some error on the part of the source material.

Till:
See how Turkel labels those who would disagree with his assumption that the Bible is the "word of God"? If they say anything that disputes this view, they are "radical and presumptuous." Anyway, I have already addressed this "argument" and shown that conservative-moderate-liberal agreement on a point of controversy in no way establishes the truth of that agreement. As I showed, one can find conservative-moderate-liberal agreement on different biblical issues, but that doesn't necessarily establish the truth of whatever it is that they agree on. If conservative-moderate-liberal agreement could be found on matters of controversy concerning disputed points in Islam or Mormonism, would Turkel see this as proof that whatever the three schools agreed on must be true? He just can't seem to understand that quoting "scholars" cannot serve as a substitute for logical argumentation, and we see very little logical argumentation in Turkel's writings.

Turkel:
They also have different solutions: Some of the liberal bent suggest a type of progressive revelation, in which God has set higher standards of action in Hosea's time than were set in Jehu's time, in response to the human need for growth. [see AndFree.Hos, 178; Crai.12P, 12; for reply, see Irv.ThrJez, 499].

Till:
Yes, why don't we just "see" what "AndFree" and "Crai.12P" have to say about this, as if we have nothing to do but spend our time looking for these sources that Turkel slings at us throughout his articles. This approach to argumentation works on the assumption that "references" like this scattered throughout an article looks impressive, but it provides no real support for Turkel's position. If he thinks there is any merit in what these works have to say on the subject, then he should present the evidence that they used to arrive at their conclusions, but Turkel doesn't do this. Why he doesn't is no mystery. He posts his stuff on a website that will be read primarily by those who are already committed to his view of the Bible, and so he knows that most of them will just gullibly think that such as this looks "scholarly" and go on without ever consulting the sources to see what they had to say on the subject. In the first place, Turkel knows that most of his readers wouldn't be able to find these sources even if they tried, but, gee, it sure looks impressive, doesn't it? Those who use this method of "argumentation," regardless of which side they may be on, are actually saying to their readers, "Do my work for me, because I'm not going to take the time to look all of this information up myself and quote it in support of my position. You'll have to do all of the research."

[Addendum July 2005: At this point, Neufeld resumed his comments on Turkel's claims above that his commentators "run the spectrum from conservative to moderate to liberal," and so his position on Hosea 1:4 must be right. Neufeld took the time, as I did too, to look at what "commentators of all stripes" say about this verse, and he... well, I'll just let Neufeld speak for himself (in blue print below).

It was primarily this exchange which brought me out of lurking to comment.

It appears to me that Mr. Turkel has a rather skewed version of what constitutes a "broad spectrum" of Biblical scholarship. This is indicated when he describes progressive revelation as a doctrine of liberals, and talks about leaving those Biblical scholars who are "of the radical and presumptuous critical school." One of the key features of liberal, and even moderate Biblical scholarship is use of the historical-critical methodologies. I know from experience that appeal to these methodologies results in name calling by many conservatives. Having clipped off most of liberal and moderate Biblical scholarship by labelling it as "radical and presumptuous," Mr. Turkel then labels those who believe in progressive revelation as the new "liberal wing." I learned progressive revelation from professors at the Seventh-day Adventist Schools I attended, and those who taught it were certainly not liberals.

(As an aside, I don't believe I have ever heard the doctrine of progressive revelation so stretched as to cover changing an event from "commanded and commended by God" to "punishable by death" in less than 100 years. Reading the attitude of later prophets toward the punishment of wrongdoing would also suggest that regressive revelation must have set in immediately following Hosea's statement as well.)

Since there was so little data available in Mr. Turkel's material I decided to do a quick survey of the commentaries available to me.

There is really no doubt about the translation of the passage. Whatever Semitic nuances Mr. Turkel finds would appear to be illusory. I would be interested in finding out the names and credentials of commentators who support the notion that the house of Jehu would be punished in the same way as the house of Ahab. I do read Hebrew (MA Biblical Languages). Though I don't set myself up as a final arbitrator of Hebrew usage, and always check myself against other sources, I cannot conceive of how the Hebrew in this verse could be understood in that way. This may be why every translation I have been able to consult, other than the New World Translation which is ambiguous and would receive bad marks as a student exercise on this verse, reads essentially the same way on this particular issue. The house of Jehu is to be punished for bloody deeds at Jezreel.

There are essentially three approaches to understanding the verse:

1. Conservative attempts to harmonize.

These go one of two ways. Either they say that the bloody deeds of/in Jezreel do not refer to Jehu's action against Ahab, but rather to unspecified deeds committed by Jehu's dynasty or they describe Jehu as acting for improper reasons and thus eventually meriting punishment for what is a good deed.

Commentators that I found to support the first option included Adam Clarke, Jamieson/Fausett/Brown. (I am citing Matthew Henry, Adam Clarke and Jamieson/Fausett/Brown from the Bethany Bible Commentary on the Old Testament.)

Commentators that I found supporting the second option included Matthew Henry, the more modern Asbury Bible Commentary and the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary. None provided any Biblical reference to support the notion that Hosea was concerned with motivation rather than the deed itself.

2. Moderate commentators supporting a moderate blending.

This view was represented by the Anchor Bible commentary on Hosea (Andersen, Francis I. & David Noel Freedman. The Anchor Bible, Vol 24: Hosea. NY: Doubleday, 1980.) In a rather lengthy discussion they argue that it was unlikely that such a shift in perspective of the prophetic school could occur in the short period of time involved, so that we must, in fact, be dealing with a continuation of bloody deeds other than the specific incident during Jehu's coup. They argue that Hosea is looking back at the evils of Jehu's dynasty and seeing him as continuing the tradition of evil of his predecessors and thus worthy of the same punishment. (I may be doing injustice to their argument which is several pages in length concerning just this one point. Most good libraries have a copy of at least many of the Anchor Bible volumes, however, so it should be easy to check me on this.)

3. Liberal scholars who see Hosea with a separate point of view.

This is illustrated by James Luther Mays (Hosea: A Commentary. Westminster Press, 1969; in the Old Testament Library) p. 28: "Hosea stands in a tradition which has a different view of kingship and another evaluation of Jehu's 'reform'." (Making reference to 2 Kings 10:30) This view is shared by the Interpreter's Bible. I personally favor this view as well, FWIW.

Base on this I would say it is not correct to claim any broad consensus of Biblical scholarship in favor of a particular solution to this passage. In fact, there are a variety of solutions, and few of them come with much in the way of argumentation or support. I would suggest that proving a broad consensus of Biblical scholarship is valuable in discussion, though it doesn't prove the truth of a solution. But such a consensus must truly include a broad range of ideological.

What impressed me about Neufeld's comments on this debate is that he, unlike Turkel, didn't just cite commentators but summarized their positions so that readers could have a basis to decide whether to agree or disagree with them. As I said above, I too checked Turkel's "commentators of all stripes" and found them not to "run the spectrum from conservative to moderate to liberal," as Turkel claimed, but to consist primarily of commentators with moderate and liberal views. The conservative/inerrant position was conspicuous by its most of the commentaries of Turkel's "sources."]

Turkel:
Others remain content with seeing contradiction (but seldom offer any detailed work on the subject--

Till:
Just as someone named Turkel does so often, i. e., "seldom offer[s] any detailed work" to support his position?

[Addendum July 2005: As Neufeld's comments in blue above show, detailed works that dispute Turkel's position have indeed been "offered."]

Turkel:
see Wolf.Hos, 17-18; May.Hos, 28; Jone.12K, 2/473].

Till:
Well, sure, I'll drop everything I'm doing right now and get down to finding these sources and reading everything they had to say on the matter. Is this Turkel a real person?

[Addendum July 2005: If Turkel wants us to "see" Wolf [sic] & May, he should take a cue from Neufeld and tell us what Wolf [sic] and May said that is so relevant to this discussion. I suspect that Turkel knew that they didn't say anything significant but quoted them just to impress his choir members, who would probably say, "Hey, look at our man citing sources; he must be right!"

As I showed in this section of "Commentators of All stripes," Wolff thought that Hosea meant to condemn Jehu's massacre at Jezreel. I quoted at length his opinion, which ended with this statement.

With respect to these questions [about Hosea's intentions], only two things seem at once to be clear: (1) The bloodguilt resulting from this political struggle for power provokes Yahweh's judgment; (2) according to v 4, Hosea assesses Jehu's revolution otherwise than did the prophetic circles gathered around Elijah and Elisha (2 Kings 10:30).

If Turkel really did read Wolff's commentary on Hosea 1:4 and then try to present him as a commentator who supported Turkel's view, then he flagrantly misrepresented Wolff to his readers. I suspect, however, that Turkel never really read Wolff but only saw him cited as a secondary source in the commentaries of McCominsky and Stuart and wrongly concluded that Wolff was an advocate of this view of Hosea 1:4 that had not been discovered until 5-7 years ago.

And Turkel has the gall to accuse me of "superficial" methodology.]

Turkel:
Irvine [Irv.ThrJez, 503] suggests that our 2 Kings passage (10:30-1) is a piece of imperial propaganda that was being refuted by Hosea, which would raise the question of interpolation in 2 Kings or its sources.

Till:
Then can we assume from this that "commentators of all stripes" don't agree that there was unity in the views of Hosea and the author(s) of 2 Kings? At any rate, the statement above is a good example of the type of ambiguity that we see in Turkel's writings parading around under the claim of "in-depth" scholarship. This "Irvine" whom Turkel quotes has presented a view that would conflict with the inerrancy position, but even though he took a position unfavorable to biblical inerrancy, I really don't know whether to agree with Irvine or not, because Turkel doesn't give enough information to enable me to know if this opinion of 2 Kings 10:30-31 is tenable. How then can he expect me to accept the fragmented quotations that he cites from commentaries that support the inerrancy view of the scriptures?

Turkel:
Of course, regarding those of "all stripes" who do seek to resolve the issue--if Till wishes to assert some harmonic conspiracy at work, that is his prerogative.

Till:
I see no need to assert that there is any such conspiracy, because, as I have shown, I'm intelligent enough to know that conservative-moderate-liberal agreement on a particular point of theology doesn't automatically prove that the point is true. Turkel apparently can't see this. He apparently can't see either that commentaries, whether conservative, moderate, or liberal, are written to appeal to those who believe that the Bible is in some sense the word of God, so one would reasonably expect to find views in commentaries that support this belief.

Turkel:
It is certainly much easier for him than taking the time to absorb the requisite knowledge and make his own, qualified assessment of the matter, and slightly easier than engaging in the drudgework of seeking an answer in properly and better--informed sources.

Till:
Of course, we are supposed to believe that Turkel has put in long hours of "drudgework" on this particular point so that he could "absorb the requisite knowledge" to understand that no problem exists between 2 Kings 10:30 and Hosea 1:4, when the only evidence of "drudgework" we can see in his "apologetic" efforts is that he has strung together fragmented quotations from various commentaries and saved them in computer files that he can tap into whenever he wishes to give the impression of "in-depth" research. In all likelihood, much of what he quotes when he inserts bracketed references like "[see AndFree.Hos, 178; Crai.12P, 12; for reply, see Irv.ThrJez, 499]" are secondhanded citations that he saw in articles or books he was looking through and then copied them into his articles. I spent 30 years dealing with this kind of superficial "research" in college essays. The chances that Turkel has read even significant sections of the sources that he quotes are slight to next to none, but such "apologetic" antics as this are nothing new to those who have had experience with his type of "apologetics." On the Errancy list, we saw this kind of "argumentation" most recently from David Conklin, who when he was pressed to tell us more specifically what the sources he had strung together had said couldn't tell us. When the pressure to put up or shut up intensified, he withdrew from the list, in all probability to save face. I can't help suspecting that we are seeing the same type of "scholarship" from Turkel, who if also pressed to tell us more exactly what Coogan or Craig or Freeman or such like said about whatever issue they were called upon to settle couldn't do it any more than Conklin could. Conklin like Turkel constantly talked about the range and depth of his research and chided members of the list for the shallowness of their research, but when it came time for him to prove the depth of his research, he couldn't produce the evidence. I may be wrong, but I suspect that in Turkel we have only another Conklin, whose research has been no deeper than a sidewalk puddle after a summer shower.

Turkel:
We of a more serious bent may feel free to ignore such paranoid shenanigans and seek rather for a resolution of the issue.

Till:
If this is true, then why haven't we seen less talk about Turkel's "serious bent," "entitlement to independent thinking," and "in-depth research" and more efforts to show us "a resolution of the issue." The fact is that Turkel has done very little so far except to assert that I am shoddy and incompetent in my methods as if he thinks that saying this enough times may convince some to think that it is so.

I haven't had much to do yet, because Turkel hasn't really given me much to refute, but I urge everyone to stick around, because I have reached a point in his article where he actually tried to present an argument, in this case about what paqad meant in Hebrew. The fun is about to begin, as I show how flimsy his case is and how "shallow" his research has been.

[Addendum July 2005: Despite all his talk about "we of a more serious bent," Turkel well knows that he actually has the inerrantist bent that I quoted from the introduction to Gleason Archer's Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties in "Commentators of All Stripes," where Archer gave the following advice to Bible believers bothered by claims of errancy in the Bible.

Be fully persuaded in your own mind that an adequate explanation exists, even though you have not yet found it

Turkel knows that he always approaches claims of discrepancy in the Bible with a preconceived view that it isn't really a discrepancy. He claims to have written over 1200 articles on his website, but I have yet to find one in which he said, "Yep, this is a discrepancy all right." Instead, he twists himself into all sorts of verbal contortions to try to show that it isn't an error. On the other hand, I do not assume automatically that an alleged discrepancy is an actual discrepancy, and I have butted heads many times with superficial skeptics who have tried to find biblical discrepancies where they don't really exist. The most notable disagreement that I have had with biblical skeptics occurred when I took issue with Dennis McKinsey because of his tendency to claim biblical errors where there were none. That rift occurred four years ago and still hasn't healed, because he and I simply cannot agree on the methodology for identifying biblical errors.

My record will show that I feel perfectly free to tell overzealous skeptics that they are claiming errors where none exist. Hence, I will not hesitate to say, "I don't think that this is a legitimate discrepancy," but when has Turkel ever said, "Yes, this is definitely a biblical error." He just doesn't do that. He will go to just about any extreme to try to find a way to make a discrepancy not be a discrepancy. He knows that if he should ever take the position that discrepancies are in the Bible, he will risk cutting off some of the flow of PayPal money coming into his website.

The last thing that Turkel can legitimately say about himself is that he is "independent minded" or that he has a "serious bent" about biblical studies. When he says such as this, he has to know that it isn't so.]

Turkel:
To begin, now, with the answer for the a) visit/punish problem. Here we will give the floor to McComiskey's detailed exegesis [MCom.MP, 20n; see also MCom.PrIron and Garr.HosJoe, 57], which argues that the word "paqad" here "establishes a relationship expressing supreme irony." Places where Hebrew characters appear in the text are represented with material in ():

(Paqad) is difficult to define.

Till:
And so are other words and expressions in foreign languages that don't have their exact counterparts in other languages; however, that does not mean that the sense of the words cannot be conveyed in other languages. Translators simply use definitional expressions when they encounter such terms.

Turkel [still quoting McComiskey]:
It frequently describes an action that precedes the bestowal of blessing (Gen. 21:1, 50:24-5, Exod. 3:16) or the execution of judgment (Ex. 32:34, 1 Sam. 15:2, Is. 23:7) on the part of God. Since the word may precede an act of blessing, it cannot denote the sole idea of punishment. It is best to understand it as attending to or giving heed to a person, object or situation before responding.

Till:
Yes, and I have already discussed this aspect of the word in an earlier part of my reply to Turkel. To refresh his memory, this is what I said about how PQD was used in Hebrew.

I am not going to play the game of my-scholars-against-your-scholars, and so I am just going to say at this point that my research into pqd, when it was used in a sense most often translated as "visit" or "punish," showed that the word has no exact parallel in English but that it connoted the idea of "remembering" in either a positive or a negative sense. That a word in one language may not have an exact parallel in another doesn't mean that the sense or meaning of the word cannot be translated into another language. I think immediately of the word chez in French. If one should say in French, "Je suis chez mon frere," he would mean that he is at his brother's home or house, even though the word home or house is not actually in the sentence he used. To translate this sentence as, "I am at my brother's house" would be an accurate representation of what the speaker meant. To say that an accurate translation of pqd in Hebrew isn't possible would be a strange position for a biblicist to take, because he would be arguing that his god inspired the writing of the Bible in a language that cannot be deciphered.

As I mentioned above, in its sense of "visit," the word pqd denoted the idea of "remembering," but whether the "remembering" was positive or negative could be determined by context. If an English speaker should encounter an insult or a spiteful deed from someone, he might say, "Okay, I'll remember that." The statement would carry the sense of a threat or payback, which anyone fluent in English would understand. On the other hand, if a good deed were done to a person, he might also say, "I'll remember this," but here he would be speaking in a positive or favorable sense. The idea of a payback would be understood in the statement, but the person it was said to would understand that it was a promise to return the favor when the opportunity presented itself. No one fluent in English would experience any problems understanding what was meant in either situation, so it is reasonable to assume that the same would be true of pqd in Hebrew. The contexts would clarify meaning. Here are some statements where PQD was translated "visit" in the KJV but used in obviously positive or favorable senses.

So didn't I say exactly what McComiskey stated above? I even went on to give examples from the Old Testament to show how the context in which PQD was used enabled readers to determine whether the word conveyed a positive (favorable) or negative (punitive) sense. Here are some examples in which the word had obvious positive connotations.

Genesis 50:24 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit [PQD] you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. 25 And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit [PQD] you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.

Exodus 13:19 And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit [PQD] you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you.

Genesis 21:1 And Yahweh visited [PQD] Sarah as he had said, and Yahweh did unto Sarah as he had spoken. 2 For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.

Exodus 3:15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, Yahweh God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. 16 Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, Yahweh God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited [PQD] you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt.

I followed these examples with passages in which the context clearly showed when the word PQD was used to connote negative or punitive meaning. I won't quote them here, but anyone can go back and find these examples.

Turkel [still quoting McComiskey]:
This concept of mental apprehension is apparent in the frequent association of the word with (remember, see, e.g., Jer. 14:10).

Till:
Yes, isn't this what I said in my comments on PQD that I have quoted above?

Turkel [still quoting McComiskey]:
There are many other nuances, but in contexts of judgment it describes an action in which God attends to the wrong he observes by intervening with appropriate action.

Till:
This is exactly what I said earlier in my reply, in the section that I quoted above, which anyone can check to see. I also pointed out how that there was always a contextual pattern in the use of PQD to enable readers to determine whether it was being used to denote positive (favorable) or negative (punitive) intention, so there is nothing at all unusual about this. As I also noted, languages have homographs (different words that are spelled alike but have different meanings), and so the contexts in which homographs are used always enable those who speak these languages to determine what was meant. Turkel wasted a lot of time talking about nothing that's at all unusual.

Turkel [still quoting McComiskey]:
When (paqad) is collocated with (upon) as well as a direct object and an indirect object (as it is here) in statements of judgment, the direct object is viewed as attending the indirect object. That is, the direct object is brought into the experience of the indirect object.

Till:
It's sort of amusing that those who want to talk about "nuances" in Hebrew don't seem to understand even elementary points of grammar. All the way through his explication of paqad, McComiskey confuses indirect objects with objects of prepositions and refers to indirect objects in sentences where the structure is really that of prepositions and their objects. An indirect object names the receiver of a direct object as in, "I gave him five dollars." Five dollars is the direct object of gave, and him is the receiver of the direct object, hence the indirect object. However, if the sentence said, "I gave five dollars to him," although the sense or meaning would be the same, him is now the object of the preposition to and not an indirect object. McComiskey speaks of the direct object as "attending" the indirect object or being "brought into the experience of the indirect object," but that's a rather imprecise way of defining "indirect object." An indirect object, as I explained, simply identifies the receiver of the direct object. Let's suppose that we had the following sentences:

In the first one, them is an indirect object, which denotes who will receive the plague (the direct object). In the second one, them is the object of the preposition upon. The meanings are the same, but if one is going to speak about "nuances" in an ancient, dead language, he should at least demonstrate that he understands basic grammatical principles. The third sentence states not just the recipient of the punishment but also the reason for the punishment, i. e., their sins and iniquities.

[Addendum July 2005: Turkel attempted to reply to this in "Jehu: Black Hat or White Hat?", and his "reply" was just about what we would have expected: Till, er, Skeptic X used English grammar in his "lecture."

Skeptic X goes on to give us a lecture in English grammar - assuming that the English versions of our verse and assuming that the English grammar corresponds with the Hebrew grammar precisely. He does not analyze the Hebrew grammar or show how McComiskey has allegedly "confused" anything; he merely throws a few English rules into the mix and assumes that the job is done! Just the answer we would expect from a neophyte out of his range! To complain about someone not understanding "basic grammatical principles" without failing to comprehend that those principles often vary in nuances from one language to the next (indeed, often vary significantly!) is not just ignorance - it's chauvinism!

Certainly, grammatical principles will have their individual singularities in different languages, but Turkel is apparently so linguistically ignorant that he doesn't know that a verb is a verb, a noun is a noun, a pronoun is a pronoun, etc. regardless of what language they are in. The same is true of prepositions and indirect objects, but before I say anything else about this, let's look at the asininity of the rest of Turkel's "rebuttal" statement.

At any rate, from here Skeptic X employs his usual predictable conspiracy shebang, saying that our scholar McComiskey's work was merely "an effort to find some way out of the problem that the text in Hosea poses to biblical inerrancy" (again, quite a convenient substitute for actually dealing with the data, and a fair admission that the argument has indeed been lost - and how do we know and have no less proof that the liberals and skeptics aren't the ones who have been pushing a conspiracy...?); an attempt to find parallel in other verses, Exodus 34:6 [sic] and Deuteronomy 5:9 (Skeptic X is looking only at paqad 'al, "visit upon" - he needs to look for paqad 'dam 'al, "visit blood upon" - he won't find it) - and more, more charges of conspiracy.

I have made a "fair admission that the argument has indeed been lost"? In Turkel's dreams! He said that I need to look for paqad 'dam 'al [visit blood upon] in Hosea 1:4, but that I won't find it. Well, I hate to disappoint him, but to find "visit blood upon," all anyone has to do is look at Hosea 1:4, because they are right there in plain view, and anyone who knows even a smattering of Hebrew can easily find them. I now have a Hebrew text opened to Hosea 1 in front of me as I write this, and it clearly says, "For yet a little [while] I will visit [paqad] the blood [dam] of Jezreel upon ['al] the house of Jehu." If Turkel didn't know that paqad dam 'al, all three words, are in this verse, he is certainly not expert enough in Hebrew to talk about "nuances" in this language or anything else pertaining to it. The Hebrew text shows that paqad is used with the first person singular ending [yod] and the waw conjunctive [and] prefixed. This is followed by dam [blood], which is separated from the preposition al, inseparably prefixed to house [bayith], by Jezreel [yizree'l]. All of this is in the Hebrew text, so if Turkel can look at a Hebrew text and not see it, he should cease bragging about what he knows about Hebrew "nuances" and the "Semitic mind."

But let us now give an answer directly to the question asked of whether there is some "nuance" about Hebrew that Skeptic X is missing that I can inform him of. Yes [sic] there is - and it has to do with the way prepositions in Hebrew can work, in particular the one in Hosea 1:4. There is an explanation here, and it does not require a great deal of knowledge of Hebrew; in fact, what I am about to explain may be found in standard Hebrew grammars. Skeptic X apparently means in his explanation about grammar above that Mccomiskey is calling the object of the preposition in the phrase, "upon the house of Jehu" -- "upon" being the preposition, and "house" being the object of the preposition -- an indirect object. No, sez: "house" is an object of a preposition. McComiskey is a fraud. Case closed. But is it?

What Skeptic X does not know about [sic] is this: the words in the phrase "upon the house of," in Hebrew, operate as a grammatical unity. Thus, "upon the house of" is treated as one word; thus, for Skeptic X to refer to an "object of the preposition" here is hopelessly anachronistic in context. There is no confusion of the "object of the preposition" with the "indirect object" because the preposition has been "absorbed" into the word following, and thereby becomes part of its grammatical identity - in this case, an indirect object. We now see why it is that Skeptic X thinks (wrongly) that McComiskey has confused an object of a preposition for an indirect object.

Such linguistic ignorance as this is why Turkel needs to stop trying to pass himself off as an expert in Hebrew language and "nuances." Many prepositions in Hebrew are, as Turkel simplistically stated, prefixed to their objects, but they are still prepositions, and their objects are still objects. Beth [in, with, or by], kaph [as, like,, or according to], and lamed [to, at, for, or towards] are inseparable prepositions, because they are always prefixed to their objects. Other prepositions, too many to list, are independent, because they always appear as separate words, and still other prepositions are sometimes used independently and sometimes inseparably. al [ayin, lamed] is one of those prepositions, and it is the one used in Hosea 1:4 with bayith [of Jehu]. Here it was prefixed to its object, but its inseparable use here did not keep it from being a preposition. As such, it had an object, and that object was bayith [house.]

Turkel seems not to understand that grammatical concepts are grammatical concepts, whether applied to English, French, Greek, Hebrew, or whatever. If Turkel would enroll in a foreign language class or even in a Hebrew class, he would hear his instructor using grammatical concepts like noun, verb, adjective, adverb, and, yes, prepositions to explain the grammar of the language. I still have the textbook that I used in a French course for foreigners at the Sorbonne in 1955, and it has sections about "L'Article" [the article], "Le Nom" [the noun], "Le Prenom" [the pronoun], "L'Adjective" [the adjective], "L'Adverbe" [the adverb], "Le Verbe" [the verb], and so on, all of which have their parallels in English. I also have the textbook that I used in college Hebrew, and it has sections on "the article," "the inseparable preposition," "the preposition [meym waw]," "the conjunction," "independent personal pronouns," "the verb," and so on. Articles, prepositions, conjunctions, pronouns, verbs--these are all grammatical concepts that exist in English and other languages, so using what is known in one's native language to explain the same grammatical concepts in other languages is perfectly legitimate. If one knows what a noun or a verb is in English, he can use this to understand the usage of nouns and verbs in other languages. By raging against my use of these concepts to discuss a point in Hebrew simply shows Turkel's linguistic ignorance.

The inseparable usage of prepositions in Hebrew was so different from what I was familiar with from my knowledge of English grammar, that it stuck with me over the years long after I had completed the college course that I took in 1952. As I explained above, this is actually a matter of semantics, because whether one says, "God will send them a plague," or whether he says, "God will send a plague upon them," the meaning is essentially the same. The antecedents of them will be the recipients of the plague, but from a grammatical point of view, it would be incorrect to say that them is the indirect object in the second sentence, because it isn't; it is the object of the preposition upon. Them is an indirect object in the first sentence but not in the second. Hence, McCominsky was incorrect in saying that "house of Jehu" was an indirect object in Hosea 1:4, because it wasn't; it was the object of the preposition al, which was inseparably prefixed to its object.

Indirect object is a misnomer that some Hebrew grammars loosely apply to prepositional phrases that begin with the inseparable preposition lamed, which has the meaning of to in English. If passages that appear to contain indirect objects in English translations are checked, they invariably turn out to be prepositional phrases. In the Garden-of-Eden myth, for example, Yahweh asked Eve, "Who told you that you were naked?" In the English translation you is an indirect object of told and that you were naked is a noun clause serving as the direct object of told, but in Hebrew, it literally reads, "Who told to you that you were naked?" The preposition lamed [to] is inseparably prefixed to the second person singular pronoun, so this is actually a prepositional phrase. Some biblical grammarians will recognize this distinction, as did Allen Ross, Th. D., Ph. D., of Cambridge University, in commenting on Jonah 1:8 in "Exegetical Assignments."

“So they said to him, “Tell us, [you] on whose account this storm [has come] upon us, what is your mission, and from where do you come; what is your land, and from what people are you?”

The English makes “us” look like an object of the verb, at least an indirect object in our language. In Hebrew it is the object of the preposition, “tell to us,” and so a genitive.

As I noted above, however, this is really a matter of semantics, because if Hebrew had used an indirect object in Hosea 1:4, it would have conveyed the same meaning as the prepositional phrase "upon the house of Jehu," so the important thing is that this verse clearly says, as noted in 36 different translations, that Yahweh was going to punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel. McCominsky, Stuart, Turkel, and Glenn Miller have to twist themselves into verbal contortions to try to make this passage not mean what it clearly says--and what the hundreds of Hebrew scholars who worked on the 36 quoted translations obviously recognized that it meant.]

Turkel:
McComiskey cites as an example Jeremiah 15:3, where "paqad" is used: "I will send (`paqad') four kinds of destroyers against them," declares the LORD, "the sword to kill and the dogs to drag away and the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy.

He then writes: The collocation (visit upon) cannot denote punishment "for" in this context. The nation will not be punished "for" these destroyers, but "by" them. The direct object (the four destroyers) is to come into the experience of the indirect object (the nation as the object of the preposition upon).

Till:
A written statement contains only the information that the writer puts into it. If there is no reason given for the sending of the "destroyers" in Jeremiah 15:3, it is because the writer didn't state the reason. If, however, the writer had said, "I will [paqad] four kinds of destroyers against them for their sins and iniquities: the sword to kill, the dogs to drag away, and the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy," then the statement would contain the reason for the sending of the destroyers, so McComiskey is laboring to explain away the problem in Hosea 1:4, which gave the reason for the visit [paqad] by trying to compare it to a statement by another writer that was not linguistically parallel to it. Just because two statements contain the same word (paqad in this case) doesn't mean that they are literarily parallel. In Hosea 1:4, the prophet stated the reason for the impending vengeance on the house of Jehu. Yahweh would extract this vengeance because of the "blood of Jezreel." The reason is specifically stated, and so this statement cannot be compared to another statement by another writer who used paqad but did not state the reason why Yahweh would "visit" or "remember" or "send" destruction or punishment. The fact is that when Jeremiah 15:3 is considered in its context, we can see that the writer did state the reason why four "destroyers" would be sent upon the people of Judah, and the reason was (what else?) their sins. In chapter 14, Jeremiah cataloged the "sins" of the people of Judah:

Jeremiah 14:10 Thus says Yahweh concerning this people: Truly they have loved to wander, they have not restrained their feet; therefore Yahweh does not accept them, now he will remember [PQD] their iniquity and punish their sins. 11 Yahweh said to me: Do not pray for the welfare of this people. 12 Although they fast, I do not hear their cry, and although they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I do not accept them; but by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence I consume them.

The tirade continued throughout the chapter, after which Jeremiah told in specific details what Yahweh intended to do about the iniquity of these people.

Jeremiah 15:1 Then Yahweh said to me: Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people. Send them out of my sight, and let them go! 2 And when they say to you, "Where shall we go?" you shall say to them: Thus says Yahweh: Those destined for pestilence, to pestilence, and those destined for the sword, to the sword; those destined for famine, to famine, and those destined for captivity, to captivity. 3 And I will appoint [PQD] over them four kinds of destroyers, says Yahweh: the sword to kill, the dogs to drag away, and the birds of the air and the wild animals of the earth to devour and destroy. 4 I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth because of what King Manasseh son of Hezekiah of Judah did in Jerusalem.

So actually Jeremiah did state the reason for the sending [PQD] of the four destroyers. They were being sent because of the sins sand iniquities of the people. (After all, Yahweh is Yahweh, isn't he?) In actuality, then, there is no substantial difference in the way that PQD was used here and in Hosea 1:4 except that the verse in Jeremiah specified the kinds of punishment that Yahweh would use. For some reason Turkel thinks that I see Hosea 1:4 as a warning that Yahweh would do to the house of Jehu exactly what Jehu had done at Jezreel, and so Hosea was saying that the house of Jehu would be brutally massacred, just as Jehu brutally massacred the royal family of Israel, but I have never thought that the verse was necessarily conveying the way that Yahweh would punish the house of Jehu but only the reason why he would punish it. After all, vengeance doesn't necessarily entail payback in kind. If Smith should vandalize Doe's car, Doe could extract vengeance in many ways without doing exactly the same by vandalizing Smith's car. Doe could report to IRS a suspicion that Smith has been cheating on his income tax reports, or Doe could hire someone to beat Smith up. Any number of acts could constitute "vengeance" without resorting to the same act that Smith committed.

In my opinion, this is the situation in Hosea 1:4. The prophet claimed that Yahweh had said, "Yet a little while, and I will avenge upon the house of Jehu the blood of Jezreel." The promise is that vengeance will be extracted, the object of the vengeance would be the house of Jehu, and the reason for the vengeance was the "blood of Jezreel." If we assume the existence of McComiskey's and Turkel's primitive deity Yahweh, then Yahweh could have avenged the blood of Jezreel in any number of ways. He could have caused all living descendants of Jehu to die peacefully in their sleep or he could have brought them all together in one place (as Satan did to Job's sons and daughters, (Job 1:13-19) and sent [pqd] a tornado upon them. Either way or some other bloodless way that achieved the same results could have constituted vengeance on the house of Jehu, but the way the vengeance was carried out would not have been the same as the reason it was carried out. As far as biblical history is concerned, it recorded no massacre of Jehu's descendants. Zechariah, the fourth-generation descendant of Jehu, was assassinated by Shallum (2 Kings 15:8-12), and this ended the reign of the dynasty that Jehu began. The Bible, however, records no massacre of all of Jehu's descendants, and I can see no reason to interpret Hosea 1:4 to mean that the prophet was saying that all of the descendants of Jehu would die in a violent massacre like the one that he performed at Jezreel.

[Addendum July 2005: Turkel made no attempts, which I could find, to reply to my last point above. If, as Turkel and his "sources" claim, Hosea 1:4 meant only that the house of Jehu would be brought to an end in the same way that Jehu brought the house of Ahab to an end, i. e., by a bloody massacre of the entire lineage, then why is there no record of any such massacre having been perpetrated against the house of Jehu in Hosea's time? Jehu's house came to an end in the way that I noted above, Zechariah, the fourth generation from Jehu, was assassinated by Shallum, and that ended the dynasty begun by Jehu. The record in 2 Kings 15:8-12 mentions only the killing of Zechariah and says nothing about killing Zechariah's family or friends or associates, as was done when the houses of Jeroboam, Baasha, and Ahab were exterminated, so just where was the "blood of Jezreel," as Turkel interprets it, in the termination of the house of Jehu? Turkel whistled his way by this one, but in "Jehu: Black Hat or White Hat?" he did quote my analogy above and then try to dance around it.

Yes, Skeptic X has indeed grasped the point of our argument, though he has failed to answer it. As for that analogy, here is what we are arguing in those terms: Smith has vandalized Doe's car, all right, but Doe hired him to vandalize it because he was entering an old-fashioned demolition race and wanted to look the part! But then, Smith also went on to Doe's house and set it on fire and painted Doe's dog purple. So, since Smith is an expert in vandalizing cars for such purposes as described, Doe chooses a condemnation that Smith will grasp perfectly: "For painting my dog and burning my house, I'm gonna mess your face up, and it's gonna look just like my car does now!" That, we argue, is what Hosea is doing, in a typical ANE communication fashion: Choosing a graphic example very familiar to the subject at hand (the house of Jehu) in order to let them know what's ahead for them.]

Turkel turned my analogy into a false one by making Smith a hired vandalizer, but in the story of the massacre at Jezreel, Jehu had not been "hired"; he had been selected by Yahweh and anointed to be king. Turkel may quibble that hired or selected, what is the difference? To this, I would say that one can easily understand why Doe could not have known that Smith would exceed what he had been hired to do, but Yahweh was presumably an omniscient deity, so if Jehu exceeded the "mandate" that Yahweh had selected him to execute, why wouldn't he have known that and selected someone more dependable? We can expect Turkel to stamp his feet and scream, "Till's problem is that God wouldn't kiss his butt," but besides begging the question that God was in any way involved in all this, that kind of juvenile conduct won't explain anything. Turkel's analogy is clearly strained, for when he has one of Yahweh's specially chosen envoys exceeding his "mandate," he makes the omniscient Yahweh look like a nincompoop for having selected him. Furthermore, by extending the falseness of his analogy to try to make Smith exceed what he had been hired to do, Turkel is still clinging to his discredited claim that Jehu had exceeded his "mandate," and that was the reason why Yahweh four generations later decided to visit punishment on his descendants, who, if Jehu had indeed exceeded his "mandate," had had nothing to do with Jehu's assumed excesses. I have shown above and in Part One that Jehu did not exceed his "mandate" but that he did exactly what he had been told to do, i. e., exterminate the house of Ahab and make it like the houses of Jeroboam and Baasha by killing every male both bond and free. Instead of ceaselessly quibbling about Jehu's alleged excesses, Turkel should tell us how Jehu could have obeyed Yahweh's "mandate" if he had left alive in Ahab's house any males, either bond or free. Turkel has repeatedly quibbled that Jehu killed some who were not descendants of Ahab--and he did--but the command to kill all males either bond or free would show that a person's house in biblical times extended beyond his immediate relatives, because males who were descendants of a king of Ahab's stature would hardly have been bonded males.

On this issue, Turkel is done. Somebody stick a fork into him.]

Turkel didn't give much of the context of McComiskey's commentary, but from what he did give, it seems to me that McComiskey was comparing apples (Hosea 1:4) to oranges (Jer. 15:3) in an effort to find some way out of the problem that the text in Hosea poses to biblical inerrancy. The two texts simply are not parallel, and the stubborn fact remains that of all of the 27 [36] translations that I have in my personal library, I found none that did not translate Hosea 1:4 to indicate that Yahweh would punish or bring vengeance upon the house of Jehu because of the blood that Jehu had shed at Jezreel. McComiskey struggles to make a point based on what Hosea did not say rather than on what he said. Let's suppose that the prophet had said, "Yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel on the house of Jehu by a pestilence." In this case, we would be able to see that Hosea communicated (1) the promise of vengeance, (2) the reason for the vengeance, (3) the object of the vengeance, and (4) the mode of vengeance. The fact that Jeremiah used paqad in a sentence that did not state the reason for the vengeance (which had already been stated in earlier verses) is hardly sufficient grounds to justify McComiskey's quibbling in this matter as he looks for "nuances" that aren't there.

Turkel [still quoting McComiskey]:
This sense of the idiom is exists [sic] in every context where (visited upon) has two objects. On the other hand, the translation "punish for" does not apply in every context. We must not assign that sense to the collocation uncritically

Till:
Well, let's see how McComiskey's claim holds up.

Here is Hosea 1:4 as literally rendered in Hendrickson's Interlinear Bible, "Yet a little [while] and I will visit the blood of Jezreel on the house of Jehu...." This is in agreement with Young's Literal Translation: "Yet a little, and I have charged the blood of Jezreel on the house of Jehu...." The word "blood" is the direct object of "visit" or "charged," and there is no indirect object that McComiskey talked about at length. "House [of Jehu]" is instead the object of the preposition "on." As I have acknowledged, my Hebrew is a bit rusty, so if I err in my analysis, I'm sure that Turkel who seems to understand all about the "nuances" of Hebrew will be able to correct me, but as I look at the text in Hebrew, I see the preposition ['al, ayin and lameth] before the word bayith (house), so this is a situation in which there is no indirect object but an object of a preposition.

My eyes, which are admittedly rusty to Hebrew, see the same construction in Hosea 4:9, "And I will visit [PQD] on them their ways and their doings...." The direct objects of paqad [visit] in this verse are "ways" and "doings," and "them" is the object of the same preposition ['al], so we see a striking linguistic parallel between this verse and Hosea 1:4. If the concept of punishing is present in 4:9, why wouldn't it be present in 1:4? The "two objects" of PQD, as McComiskey has interpreted the grammatical term "object," are present in both passages.

Exodus 20:5 and its related texts Exodus 34:7 and Deuteronomy 5:9 are also parallel in structure to the verses in Hosea. These verses warn that Yahweh is a jealous god (so what else is new?) "visiting [pqd] the iniquity of fathers on ['al] children" even to the third and fourth generations. The direct object of the verbal "visiting" is "iniquity," and the object of the preposition ['al] is "children." Hence, the verses are warning that the infinitely loving Yahweh will actually punish third- or fourth-generations of "fathers" who committed iniquity. So if Hosea said that Yahweh would visit [pqd] the blood of Jezreel on ['al] the house of Jehu, why wouldn't that carry the same sense as Yahweh's visiting [pqd] the iniquities of the fathers ['al] children of the third and fourth generations? Perhaps there is a "nuance" here that I am overlooking. If so, Turkel can surely point it out.

If we had before us the entire text of McComiskey's commentary on Hosea 1:4, I have no doubt that we would find just another attempt to try to explain away the problem that exists between this verse and 2 Kings 10:30-31, but does anyone think that McComiskey, Turkel, or anyone else would subject a single verse to such quibbling as we have seen from them if the text in 2 Kings 10:30-31 didn't exist? Theirs is just one more effort, under the guise of "scholarship" and discovering subtle "nuances," to keep from admitting that the Bible is not the uniquely harmonious work that Turkel's hero Josh McDowell has claimed.

Turkel:
A few citations will bring home the point that this word "paqad" is a difficult translation to determine--which explains why (in answer to Till) so many translations (as well as less in-depth commentaries) continue to use it. Speiser once remarked of "paqad" that, "there is probably no other Hebrew verb that has caused translators as much trouble"--and it will take only a few citations to see why.

Till:
Well, of course, if Sp[e]iser "once remarked" this, then it must be true. This is a good point to remind everyone of my previous comments about homographs. All languages have them, and those who speak a language can determine the meaning of homographs by the way they are used. Whether PQD in every instance of its occurrence within the Old Testament was always the same word may not be true. It could be that there were merely different words in Hebrew that were written as PQD, just as mean, mean, and mean or bear and bear in English are not always the same word, even though they are spelled and pronounced the same. We have no difficulty determining what is meant when we encounter such words, because the contexts in which they are used determine meaning or which homograph was being used.

  Turkel:

Gen. 21:1 - Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised.

Note: This verse has a blessing visited upon Sarah. "Paqad" is not literally translated and emerges through the word "did."

Till:
Well, paqad may not have been literally translated in the version Turkel has quoted, but it was translated in the KJV of this verse, which I quoted earlier to show that the positive (favorable) or negative (punitive) sense of PQD can be determined by the way it was used. Here is my citation of the very same verse cut and pasted from an earlier section of my reply.

Genesis 21:1 And Yahweh visited [PQD] Sarah as he had said, and Yahweh did unto Sarah as he had spoken. 2 For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.

So PQD is translated as "visited" in the KJV, which Turkel almost always uses when he quotes scripture, and the context in which it was used clearly denotes that Yahweh "visited" Sarah in order to bestow a blessing. The word "did," as Turkel claimed, really does very little to convey the positive nature of PQD. This is done in verse 2, which states what it was that Yahweh did for Sarah.

[Earlier Turkel criticized me for quoting 25 translations, at which time he said that doing this was "a classic example of superficial scholarships" and later said that "any OT schoolboy knows that simply listing translations is insufficient scholarship," but now we see him doing what? Abandoning his old trusty KJV and shopping around for translations that will support his view. Consistency doesn't seem to be one of Turkel's virtues.]

Turkel:

Gen. 40:4 - The captain of the guard assigned ("paqad") them to Joseph, and he attended them. After they had been in custody for some time...

Till:
All we have to do is keep my comments about homographs in mind. PQD had different meanings in Hebrew as does bear in English. If we heard someone say, "I can't bear to see animals suffer," who would think that the homograph bear was being used here to convey the sense of the ursine animal that we call a "bear"? If someone said, "I don't know what this word means," who would think that the person was using this homograph in the sense of "midway" or "average"? The homograph PQD could mean "appoint," "commit to," or "assign," and the context in this verse shows that this was the sense intended. Where is the problem? Is this the best that Turkel can do in his quest to prove that the homograph PQD was so ambiguous or mysterious in meaning that we just can't be sure what it meant in Hosea 1:4?

Turkel:

Ex. 3:16 - "Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, 'The LORD, the God of your fathers--the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob--appeared to me and said: I have watched ("paqad") over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt.'

Till:
I also used this same verse earlier to show that context will determine whether PQD was used in a positive or negative sense. Here is what I noted.

Exodus 3:15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, Yahweh God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. 16 Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, Yahweh God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited [PQD] you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt.

When the next verse goes on to say, "I declare that I will bring you up out of the misery of Egypt, to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey," the positive (favorable) usage of PQD is very clearly indicated. I'm sure a speaker of Hebrew would have encountered no more trouble understanding the word in this context than an English speaker has with words like bear and bear.

Turkel:

Ex. 32:34 - "Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you. However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish ("paqad") them for their sin.

Till:
The KJV of this verse says, "Nevertheless in the day when I visit [pqd], I will visit [pqd] their sin upon them." So again the context in which PQD was used indicated that it conveyed a negative or punitive sense. Where's the problem?

Turkel:
Num. 1:3-21 - In these verses, "paqad" is used several times in relation to the numbering of the Hebrews. The KJV and NIV offer no English word as a parallel.

Till:
Well, whether three times would be "several" times is debatable, but there certainly is no problem. The PQD homograph in Hebrew sometimes meant "to count" or "number," and the context, which is clearly narrating the taking of a census, makes it clear that PQD had that meaning in this particular context, so where is the problem? Surely, Turkel wouldn't argue that PQD in Hosea 1:4 could have meant "count" or "number" or "assign" or "appoint" because it was so used in other passages. As for Turkel's claim that the KJV and NIV "offer no English word as a parallel," I have to wonder what he means. Both versions use the word number in this passage, so "number" is an appropriate "parallel" to PQD in this particular context.

Where is the problem?

Turkel:

1 Ki. 11:28 - Now Jeroboam was a man of standing, and when Solomon saw how well the young man did his work, he put him in charge of the whole labor force of the house of Joseph.

Note: "Paqad" here is used to refer to Jeroboam being "put in charge" of the labor force.

Till:
Yes, in the same way that the homograph PQD was translated "assigned" in Genesis 40:4 to denote that Joseph was put in charge of the pharaoh's chief guards and butlers when they were put into prison with Joseph, PQD in this verse also denoted "assign to" or "put in charge of" or "appoint." The homograph sometimes carried this meaning, and the context enables readers to understand whether PQD was being used in the sense of "visit" or "remember" or "punish" or "count" or "assign" or "appoint," etc., so I will have to ask again where the problem is.

Turkel:

1 Ki. 14:27 - So King Rehoboam made bronze shields to replace them and assigned ("paqad") these to the commanders of the guard on duty at the entrance to the royal palace.

Till:
Sigh! See my comments immediately above. I do hope that those who may be in Turkel's "adoring fold" are at least beginning to see how hard he has to strain to try to find a point to use in support of his position.

Turkel:

1 Ki. 20:26 - The next spring Ben-Hadad mustered ("paqad") the Arameans and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel.

Till:
Let's look at the KJV of this verse--which is Turkel's favorite version--and its immediate context.

26 And it came to pass at the return of the year, that Benhadad numbered [PQD] the Syrians, and went up to Aphek, to fight against Israel. 27 And the children of Israel were numbered [PQD], and were all present, and went against them: and the children of Israel pitched before them like two little flocks of kids; but the Syrians filled the country.

We have already noted that the homograph PQD could carry the meaning of counting or numbering, and in this passage, a counting or numbering of soldiers was done in order to go to battle. Thus, it would be appropriate in this context to use the word "muster." The "numbering" in the passage that Turkel cited in Numbers is another example of how this homograph was used, because the census or counting was done in order to determine how many men there were of military age (1:2-3). PQD was used four times in Judges 20-21 in reference to the "numbering" of the children of Benjamin and the "men of Israel" as Benjamin prepared for war against the other tribes of Israel in the matter concerning the ravishing of the Levite's concubine. The men on both sides were "numbered," but this was done in order to "muster" them for military service. The homograph PQD sometimes meant to count or number and was used when counting or numbering was done in order to muster armies. Where is the problem? Does Turkel have any trouble recognizing this meaning when he reads the verse in context?

Turkel:

2 Ki. 3:6 - So at that time King Joram set out from Samaria and mobilized ("paqad") all Israel.

Till:
See my comments above. The KJV says, "King Joram went out of Samaria the same time, and numbered all Israel," so all that we have in this verse is an example of counting or numbering that was done in order to "muster" or "mobilize" an army. Where is the problem? How does any of this show that we just can't tell from the context of Hosea 1:4 what PQD meant in this particular verse?

Turkel:

2 Ki. 12:11 - When the amount had been determined, they gave the money to the men appointed ("paqad") to supervise the work on the temple. With it they paid those who worked on the temple of the LORD--the carpenters and builders...

Till:
Yes, as I have already noted, the homograph PQD was used at times to mean "appoint" or "assign," and this is just one example of others that could be given when it was so used. Does Turkel seriously think that any of this proves that the meaning of PQD in Hosea 1:4 just can't be determined?

Another point should be made here. Turkel ranted about how my practice of quoting translations is "superficial" scholarship, but look what he has done. He has selected a Hebrew homograph that was used in several senses in an effort, I assume, to prove that its meaning in a particular passage just can't be determined, but in every example that he cited, the context in which PQD appeared made it easy to determine whether it meant "visit," "remember," "punish," appoint," "assign," "count," "muster," etc. So just who is showing signs of superficial scholarship?

[Addendum July 2005: Turkel usually quotes from the KJV, but in the passages that he quoted above, he used the NIV in a deceptive effort to make his readers think that translators can't decide if PQD meant visit or remember or muster and so on, but if he had stuck to his KJV, he would have found more consistency in translating this word, as I showed by answering each of his quotations with what the KJV said. He tries to play both sides of the street. If I quote 36 different translations that say essentially the same thing about the meaning of paqad in Hosea 1:4, he calls this "superficial scholarship," but, of course, when he quotes just one other translation, i. e., the NIV, that is "in-depth scholarship." How can anyone trust anything that he says?]

Turkel:
So, the obvious difficulty with this word helps explain why translators continue to use "punish" in Hosea 1:4.

Till:
Obvious difficulty? What obvious difficulty? Would Turkel please tell us which of the examples he cited were such that the meaning of PQD just couldn't be determined from the context? To show the absurdity of his line of argumentation, let's suppose that a person who speaks English should encounter the following statement in a written text: "She couldn't bear children." That statement alone would be insufficient to determine whether bear meant "to give birth to" or "to endure or tolerate"; however, if the text went on to say, "She found them to be insufferable and avoided all situations where she might encounter the little brats," this additional information would make the meaning of bear in this context quite clear to anyone whose native language is English.

If this isn't enough to convince Turkel that he has led us down a long tangent that went nowhere, then I suggest that he just browse through an unabridged dictionary. He will find that it lists homographs as separate words and that they are commonplace in English, yet I'm sure he doesn't think that he has any particular difficulty reading and understanding the English language. It is only English versions of the Bible that give him problems. Does Turkel, for example, have any problems determining from context which leave is being used when he encounters this homograph? Perhaps he won't mind telling us.

Turkel:
It is also explained by a couple of other factors

Most importantly [sic] - and a good reason why the majority of Till's translations don't carry this interpretation! - is that the detailed linguistic work....

Till:
My, my, Turkel seems to know all about Hebrew "nuances," but he doesn't seem to know that his sentence above should read, "Most important--and a good reason why...." The reason why people make this very common mistake is that they don't know that they have used an elliptical expression. They are actually saying, "What is most important is...." "Importantly" is an adverb, but in the construction that Turkel has used, there is nothing for it to modify. I point this out just to note that when I see such mistakes as this in Turkel's writing, I find myself seriously doubting that his knowledge of the "nuances" of Hebrew is what he wants us to think it is.

Turkel:
[Most importantly [sic]- and a good reason why the majority of Till's translations don't carry this interpretation! - is that the detailed linguistic work] on the matter has only been done in the last 5-7 years or so.

Till:
I certainly don't doubt that this "detailed linguistic work" on PQD has been done within the last 5-7 years, because the biblical inerrancy doctrine has faced some rather strong opposition during that period, much stronger than before then, so I can imagine biblical inerrantists in recent years desperately searching for something to use in explaining away the problem in Hosea 1:4. I have frequently said to amateurs who seek to expose discrepancies in the Bible that if they think there is any such thing as an "unanswerable" argument against inerrancy, they need to think again. Give a dedicated inerrantist a little time, and he will dream up some way to explain how the Bible doesn't mean what it clearly says. Just recently on the Errancy list some have remarked about the way that inerrantists seem to have a special talent for always knowing exactly what biblical writers meant, so the fact that Turkel's "explanation" of Hosea 1:4 may be new doesn't faze me in the least. It merely strengthens my suspicion that inerrantists realize that there is a real problem in Hosea 1:4, and they have been so sensitive to the problem that they have done "detailed linguistic work" only within the past 5-7 years to see if they could find a way out of the problem. It does seem strange, however, that the "real meaning" of Hosea 1:4 lay hidden for 2500 years before a "detailed linguistic work" done within the past few years finally uncovered its meaning. It wasn't very nice of Turkel's omniscient, omnipotent deity to do such a poor job of inspiring Hosea to write this part of his eternal truths.

Turkel:
The majority of Till's translations were performed and/or published earlier than this research was done.

Till:
And so I guess we are supposed to believe that it has taken over 2,000 years to determine what the word pqd meant in Hosea 1:4 and that it took non-Jewish scholars to make that determination. How seriously does Turkel expect us to take the claim that as much as the Old Testament has been studied for centuries and centuries, the meaning and usage of a particular word, which appears repeatedly in the Bible text, just happened to be clarified within the past 5-7 years and was done by biblicists in a way that coincidentally solved a discrepancy in the Bible?

Turkel:
The specific collocation here, we might add, appears nowhere else in the OT! [Irv.ThrJez, 497] Unique words or word combinations are nearly always problematic

Till:
Well, excuse me, but I think I showed earlier that the same "collocation" that McComiskey talked about is also found in Exodus 20:5; 34:7; and Deuteronomy 5:9. These passages all have the word PQD, which is followed by a direct object, and the object of the preposition ['al], which McComiskey called an indirect object, so if there is a "specific collocation" in Hosea 1:4, which "appears nowhere else in the Old Testament," Turkel is going to have to be a bit clearer about just what this collocation is.

Let's assume, however, that he is right and that this "specific collocation" appears nowhere else in the Old Testament. That being so, there would be no other passages with which to compare PQD as it was used in Hosea 1:4, so rather than this being a point in favor of Turkel's position, it would actually work against it. How could a credible argument be based on a "specific collocation" if that collocation occurred only once in a body of literature? If the "specific collocation" that Turkel's source claims gave it special meaning was used just one time, exactly how was he able to determine that meaning if he had no other examples of its collocative usage to compare it to in order to decipher its meaning?

[Addendum July 2005: Turkel did take a a stab at replying to this, but just look at how he replied to it.

To which I say: Precisely the point! We had no other comparison to make; hence this could favor - or work against - either argument. But in terms of what I am saying here, Skeptic X bypasses the point, which is that the lack of a comparable parallel does not make it improbable that this verse could have been mistranslated.

Let's take a look at Turkel's idea of "logic." This appears to be his argument. The "collocation" of paqad, dam, 'al in Hosea 1:4 appears nowhere else in the Bible; therefore, it is probable that this verse has been mistranslated. I wonder if Turkel knows how to say, "Non sequitur." In the first place, I have shown that the collocation of paquad, X, 'al is used in other places in the old Testament. The only difference is that the X is always another word besides dam [blood] . We have already looked at Exodus 20:5, Exodus 34:7, and Deuteronomy 5:9, where paqad, X, al was used in all three cases, so let's look at some other examples.

Jeremiah 23:1 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith Yahweh. 2 Therefore thus saith Yahweh God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit [paqad] upon [al] you the evil [roa] of your doings, saith Yahweh.

Here the "collocation" is paqad, al, roa, but there is no reason why Jeremiah could not have said, "I will visit [paqad] the evil [roa] of your doings upon [al] you." Had he written it this way, the "collocation" would have been paqad, X, al, just as it is in Hosea 1:4, the only difference being that X was blood [dam] in Hosea, whereas X is evil [roa] in the text from Jeremiah. Would Turkel seriously argue that if Jeremiah had put evil before al here, the statement would have meant something other than a warning that Yahweh would punish the "pastors" for their evil doings?

Amos 3:13 Hear ye, and testify in the house of Jacob, saith the Lord GOD, the God of hosts, 14 That in the day that I shall visit [paqad] the transgressions [pesha] of Israel upon [al] him I will also visit the altars of Bethel: and the horns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground.

Here the "collocation" is paqad, X, al, exactly the same as it was in Hosea 1:4, except "transgressions" [pesha] were to be visited upon [al] Israel rather than blood. Will Turkel quibble that Amos did not mean here that Yahweh was going to punish Israel for his transgressions? I lay no claim to being able to make an infallible check for this, but I have looked all through the Old Testament and can find the specific "collocation" in Amos 3:14 [paqad, pesha, al] used in no other places, so if my research is correct, would that mean that "the lack of a comparable parallel does not make it improbable that this verse could have been mistranslated"?

Turkel is shamelessly quibbling, and I think that any reasonable person can see that he is.]

Turkel:
An undoubtedly influential factor is that the Greek translation of the OT uses "punish/avenge" here. Of course, from the point of view of the later writers of the LXX, Jehu's house has already had their "visit" and it has turned out to be a "punishment"! Their selection has rather the taste of hindsight.

Till:
Turkel does have problems explaining himself. What does he mean by the "later writers of the LXX"? The LXX was merely a Greek translation of books that had been written earlier in Hebrew, so there were no "LXX writers." Maybe "translators" was what he meant. At any rate, if I understand him, he is asserting that the LXX was "an undoubtedly influential factor" in the way that Hosea 1:4 has been translated in modern translations of the Old Testament, but he gave no evidence whatsoever to support this assertion. Hence, there is really nothing here for me to refute. Since the concept of "vengeance" or "punishment" is in all 27 versions of the Old Testament that I have in my personal library, including two that are in Greek and French, and since Turkel apparently can't cite any that favor his strained interpretation, I'm going to assume that all of the hundreds of translators that were represented in producing these works translated PQD in Hosea 1:4 as they did, because their scholarship told them that this was the meaning that the word in this particular context conveyed. Until Turkel can produce reasonable evidence for his unlikely assertion that the LXX translators have exercised an influence on this particular verse that has caused a mistranslation to endure for 2300 years, I'm going to give Turkel's assertion no more consideration than it deserves, which is exactly none.

[Addendum July 2005: Turkel's quibble seemed to be that since the "writers" of the LXX did their work after the northern kingdom [Israel] had received "punishment," they assumed that paqad in Hosea 1:4 must have meant "punishment." Never mind that paqad had been used throughout the Old Testament in the sense of punishment, but a point that needs to be made here is that Hosea was undoubedly written by 752 BC, before Shallum's assassination of Zechariah, the last of Jehu's dynasty, because the prophet made no reference to this event, which was predicted in 1:4. Furthermore, it made no reference to the Assyrian conquest of the northern kingdom in 722 BC, which brought the end of the kingdom of Israel predicted in 1:4, so the silence about this would indicate that Hosea was written before then. Second Kings, however, had to have been written after both of these events, because it recorded them (15:8-12; 17:3-6; 18:9-10). The chronology of 2 Kings ran through Nebuchadnezzar's destruction of Jerusalem in 597 BC (25:1-7), so the writer of 2 Kings was in a better position to think that the house of Israel had been punished for Jehu's massacre at Jezreel, but with all the advantages of "hindsight" that he had, he nowhere suggested that Jehu had been responsible for the fall of the northern kingdom, although he attributed the fall of Judah, as noticed earlier, to the sins of Manasseh (23:26-27). These facts show just how iffy Turkel's theory about the LXX "writers" is.]

Turkel:
Hosea uses "paqad" six additional times (2:13, 4:9, 4:14, 8:13, 9:9, 12:2) in his book. In most cases, it clearly indicates the "punish" mode, but obviously this should not mean that it is used that way throughout his book.

Till:
Actually, Hosea used paqad seven other times. Earlier in my reply, I quoted every one of those other uses of paqad in Hosea and noticed that it didn't indicate in "most cases" the "punish mode" but rather the context of every one of them conveyed the idea of punishment. To make it harder for Turkel to ignore the way that Hosea used the word, I am cutting and pasting below my previous analysis of paqad as it was used in Hosea.

A good way to determine how a particular writer probably intended a word or expression to be understood is to note other statements in which he used the same word. If we do this, in the case of Hosea, we find the following examples.

2:12 And I will destroy her [Hosea's wife of "whoredom," symbolically Israel] vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them. 13 And I will visit [PQD] upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD.

4:9 And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish [PQD] them for their ways, and reward them their doings. 10 For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD. 11 Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart. 12 My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God. 13 They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery. 14 I will not punish [PQD] your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery: for themselves are separated with whores, and they sacrifice with harlots: therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall.

8:13 They sacrifice flesh for the sacrifices of mine offerings, and eat it; but Yahweh accepteth them not; now will he remember their iniquity, and visit [PQD] their sins: they shall return to Egypt.

9:7 The days of visitation [PQD] are come, the days of recompense are come; Israel shall know it: the prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred. 8 The watchman of Ephraim was with my God: but the prophet is a snare of a fowler in all his ways, and hatred in the house of his God. 9 They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah: therefore he will remember their iniquity, he will visit [PQD] their sins.

12:2 Yahweh hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish [PQD] Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him.

So seven other times, Hosea used PQD, and in each case, the word carried the sense of remembering sins and iniquities and punishing for them. Is it any surprise that PQD is translated in the sense of "punishment" in other versions of the Old Testament? Here are the renditions of the Jewish Publication Society:

2:15 (verse 13 in KJV): Thus I will punish [PQD] her for the days of the Baalim.

4:9 Therefore the people shall fare like the priests: I will punish [PQD] it for its conduct, I will require it for its deeds.... 14 I will not punish [PQD] their daughters for fornicating nor their daughters-in-law for committing adultery; For they themselves turn aside with whores and sacrifice with prostitutes....

8:13-15 When they present sacrifices to Me, it is but flesh for them to eat: The Lord has not accepted them. Behold, he remembers their iniquity, He will punish [PQD] their sins: Back to Egypt with them!

9:7-9 The days of punishment [PQD] have come for your heavy guilt; The days of requital have come--Let Israel know it. The prophet was distraught, the inspired man driven mad by constant harassment. Ephraim watches for my God. As for the prophet, fowlers' snares are on his paths, harassment in the House of his God. They have been as grievously corrupt as in the days of Gibeah. He will remember their iniquity, he will punish [PQD] their sins.

12:3 The Lord once indicted Judah, and punished [PQD] Jacob for his conduct....

A check of other translations will show that most of them were rendered to carry the sense of punishment wherever Hosea used PQD. Except for the damage that this translation does to his pet inerrancy theory, Turkel would see no reason to disagree with them, but when inerrancy is on the line, an inerrantist must deny the obvious in order to defend his position.

Turkel:
(Note that the KJV translators rendered "paqad" as "visit" in some cases.

Till:
Which means what? We have shown that a common translation of pqd in English is "visit," used in the sense of to "remember." The fact that the KJV rendered paqad as "visit" in some of the passages in Hosea would not affect the contextual meaning of those passages. However, if Turkel wants to talk about how the KJV rendered paqad in some of the passages in Hosea, perhaps he will want to take note of the times that the KJV used punish in these passages, and perhaps he will want to notice that a Jewish translation used punish all eight times that Hosea used paqad.

Turkel:
Andersen and Freedman acknowledge the viability of the "visit" translation and accept the same explanation of the issue as we have, as noted below. However, they stick with "punish" and reject a "visit" translation because "its vacuity misses the juridical connotations of the idiom." In other words, they use "punish" because of problems with the vacuity of our language - not because of the Hebrew.

Till:
As usual, Turkel has quoted just a "snatch" of what his source said, but even at that, it seems that he doesn't seem to understand what "Andersen and Freedman" appear to be saying. On the basis of the fragmented quotation that Turkel cited, they appear to think that the English word visit is too vacuous to connote the intention of the Hebrew idiom, and so for that reason they favored using the word punish to translate paqad in this particular context. Apparently, they think that this English word does have the substance to capture the "juridical connotations of the [Hebrew] idiom." On what grounds can Turkel argue that if a homograph in Hebrew conveyed in one of its senses the idea that is denoted by "visit" in English, a translator would be admitting "vacuity" in English unless he always used "visit" to translate that particular Hebrew homograph? Does Turkel think, for example, that the English homograph bear will always be translated by the same French word? In some instances, it would be translated by ours (to denote the animal in the ursine family), in others it would need to be translated with porter (to carry), in others by supporter (to support or hold up), etc. So the best that I can tell from Turkel's fragmented quotation from Andersen and Freedman, they weren't saying that vacuity exists in the English language but that a particular word visit lacked the substance to convey the sense of an idiom as effectively as punish would. Apparently the translators of the Jewish Publication Society agree, because they used punish to translate paqad in every instance where Hosea used it.

Turkel:
"Punish" is also selected in part because of the supposed connotation of the word for "massacre" (see below).

Till:
At this point, Turkel began to tell us that just as we poor, ignorant skeptics don't know enough about the "nuances" of Hebrew to understand what paqad meant in Hosea 1:4, the same is true of our understanding of dam, the word that is translated "blood" or "bloodshed" in most versions. (Turkel is apparently quoting the NIV, which used massacre for dam.) Before I undertake to answer his quibbling on this point, I will suggest that readers who want to see real "vacuity" in action should scroll back and review the 25 [36] different translations of Hosea 1:4 that I quoted, and this review should convince them that vacuity abounds in Turkel's quibbling in this matter. Twenty of them used blood, bloodshed, bloody deeds, or some such to translate dam, and all but one of the others used terms denoting murder. The only one that used massacre was the NIV, so again there seems to be pretty solid agreement among translators about what dam meant in Hosea 1:4. Now let's listen to Turkel as he tries to tell us that the translators got it all wrong on this word too.

[Addendum June 2005: But, of course, if Turkel says that the NIV is right in translating the word massacre, that settles it regardless of what other translations say, doesn't it?]

Turkel:
And now to argument b), involving the word "massacre." The Hebrew here is "dam," and the interpretation of it in our view yields a similar result to the matter of a) above.

Till:
Everyone should keep in mind what I just said, immediately above, about the way that dam was rendered in the 25+ translations that I quoted earlier.

Turkel:
Let's give the floor this time to commentator Douglas Stuart [Stu.HosJon, 23n; see also MCom.MP, 21-2]. Places where Hebrew symbols appear in the text are indicated with an ().

It should be noted that the present oracle does not per se condemn Jehu's coup at Jezreel, called for by Elisha. (Dam yizre'el) could mean "bloodguilt of Jezreel" in the sense of a great, decisive slaughter. The former connotation, "bloodguilt," is found is found [sic] for (dam) in Lev. 20:9, Duet.[sic] 19:10, 2 Sam. 21:1, etc.

Till:
Okay, let's just take a look at these passages, which Turkel (through his spokesman Stuart) seems to think shed so much light on how dam should really have been translated in Hosea 1:4.

Leviticus 20:9 All who curse father or mother shall be put to death; having cursed father or mother, their blood is upon them.

Under the Mosaic law, one could be put to death for cursing his father or mother: "And he that curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death" (Ex. 21:17). Thus, all that Leviticus 20:9 did was to repeat this law but to go on and say that those who curse their parents have no one to blame but themselves when they are put to death. "Their blood is upon them." In other words, the responsibility for the shedding of their own blood falls upon them, because they violated a law that called for the death penalty.

Deuteronomy 19:8 If Yahweh your God enlarges your territory, as he swore to your ancestors--and he will give you all the land that he promised your ancestors to give you, 9 provided you diligently observe this entire commandment that I command you today, by loving Yahweh your God and walking always in his ways--then you shall add three more cities to these three, 10 so that the blood of an innocent person may not be shed in the land that Yahweh your God is giving you as an inheritance, thereby bringing bloodguilt [dam] upon you.

The word translated "bloodguilt" is dam, the same word that was used in Leviticus 20:9 and Hosea 1:4, so the text in Hebrew literally said, "thereby bringing blood upon you." To "bring blood" upon someone or upon oneself was simply an idiom in Hebrew that meant to make one responsible for or guilty of shedding blood. Hence, rather than supporting Turkel's claim that dam wasn't correctly translated in Hosea 1:4, the passages his source cited really support the idea that Hosea was saying that punishment would be brought upon the house of Jehu for the guilt of having shed blood at Jezreel.

2 Samuel 21:1 Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David inquired of Yahweh. Yahweh said, "There is bloodguilt [dam] on Saul and on his house, because he put the Gibeonites to death."

This text literally said that there was blood on Saul and on his house, and so rather than supporting Turkel's claim that there are "nuances" in Hebrew that I am overlooking, such passages as these indicate that he is really the one who can't seem to catch the nuances of Hebrew. The story that the verse above introduced teaches that Yahweh sent a famine upon the land during the reign of David for an act of bloodshed that Saul, who was dead by this time, had committed. If ever a scripture citation backfired in an inerrantist's face, this one certainly has. To show that it was clearly a barbaric custom in those times to hold descendants and successors responsible for sins that had been committed in the past, I am going to post the rest of this story for Turkel's consideration.

2 So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them. (Now the Gibeonites were not of the people of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites; although the people of Israel had sworn to spare them, Saul had tried to wipe them out in his zeal for the people of Israel and Judah.) 3 David said to the Gibeonites, "What shall I do for you? How shall I make expiation, that you may bless the heritage of Yahweh?" 4 The Gibeonites said to him, "It is not a matter of silver or gold between us and Saul or his house; neither is it for us to put anyone to death in Israel." He said, "What do you say that I should do for you?" 5 They said to the king, "The man who consumed us and planned to destroy us, so that we should have no place in all the territory of Israel-- 6 let seven of his sons be handed over to us, and we will impale them before Yahweh at Gibeon on the mountain of Yahweh." The king said, "I will hand them over." 7 But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Saul's son Jonathan, because of the oath of Yahweh that was between them, between David and Jonathan son of Saul. 8 The king took the two sons of Rizpah daughter of Aiah, whom she bore to Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Merab daughter of Saul, whom she bore to Adriel son of Barzillai the Meholathite; 9 he gave them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they impaled them on the mountain before Yahweh. The seven of them perished together. They were put to death in the first days of harvest, at the beginning of barley harvest.

Although this particular text did not use the word paqad, the writer could certainly have stated that Yahweh "visited" [pqd] the blood of the Gibeonites upon the house of Saul by holding Saul's descendants responsible for an atrocity that Saul had committed. Not until seven descendants of Saul were killed did Yahweh take away the famine on the land, so it was clearly the belief of biblical writers that Yahweh would "visit" the guilt of one's sins or iniquities upon his descendants. The only substantial difference in this story and Hosea 1:4's denunciation of the house of Jehu is that no biblical writer ever expressed approval of Saul's actions with reference to the Gibeonites, as did the writer of 1 Kings 10 in reference to Jehu's massacre at Jezreel. If such an approval had been expressed elsewhere in the Bible, we would be seeing Turkel and his inerrantist cohorts picking 2 Samuel 21 to pieces, looking for "nuances" in Hebrew that would suggest that the writer of 2 Samuel wasn't really denouncing what Saul had done.

Turkel [quoting Stuart]:

But the connotation "killing" or "bloodshed" is also well-attested as in (dam) "bloodshed-of-battle" (1 Kgs. 2:5) or (dam) "unnecessary bloodshed" (1 Kgs. 2:31), etc.

Till:
In the interest of time, I won't quote these passages and analyze them, because they will show only what has been noted above. Dam in Hebrew meant "blood," but in expressions that referred to "blood" being upon someone, it meant that the person was guilty of shedding blood or inherited the guilt or responsibility for it. The passages above from 1 Kings 2 referred to "blood" that Joab had shed, which Solomon feared would be "upon" David's house or, in other words, bloodshed by Joab that Solomon was afraid Yahweh would hold him responsible for, and so he gave orders to Benaiah to fall upon Joab with the sword to take away from him and his father's house the blood that Joab had shed "without cause" (v:31). Solomon went on to tell Benaiah that Yahweh would then "return his [Joab's] blood upon his own head" (v:32). Turkel's problem is that he can't seem to understand that these passages that his eminent source cited merely reflected an ancient superstition that "God" could hold one person responsible for the crimes of another. I'm having a hard time understanding what relevance all of this has to Hosea 1:4, a passage that obviously indicated a belief that the descendants of Jehu were going to be punished for blood that Jehu had shed, because nothing that Stuart said after Turkel "yield[ed] the floor to him" has even remotely suggested that Hosea's use of dam meant anything but what it meant in the scriptures that Stuart quoted. In ancient Hebrew superstition, it was believed that the "blood" that a person shed could sometimes be "upon" other parties in the sense that these parties would be held responsible for it. Hence, Hosea was saying that Yahweh would hold present members of the house of Jehu responsible for blood that their ancestor had shed at Jezreel.

Turkel [quoting Stuart]:

Recognition of the use of (dam) in the context, so often associated with requital of justice in the Old Testament, should not lead to the conclusion that Hosea is condemning Jehu for fulfilling God's command.

Till:
We're just supposed to take Stuart's word for this? If he thinks that this is the case, then he should have cited some evidence from the text of Hosea that would justify this conclusion. As it was, all that he did was to cite several passages that upon examination clearly showed that dam [blood] was often used to convey the sense of guilt for having killed unjustly. If this is what it meant when Solomon expressed fear to Benaiah that the "blood" that Joab had shed might be upon him [Solomon] and his father's house unless Joab were killed with the sword as he had killed others, then what reason is there to think that the "blood of Jezreel" in Hosea 1:4 meant something entirely different? So we see that once again Turkel has taken us down a long tangent that led to nowhere, but this is the kind of exercise in futility that inerrantists must engage in when they try to show that the Bible doesn't mean what it plainly says.

Turkel [still quoting Stuart]:

Instead, Yahweh now announces that he will turn the tables on the house of Jehu because of the real issue, i.e., what has happened in the meantime

Till:
Turkel seems to think that he is adept at finding "nuances" in Hebrew, so I defy him to find any hint at all in Hosea 1:4 that the prophet was referring to what had "happened in the meantime." Stuart is arguing, of course, that Hosea was saying that Yahweh would punish the house of Jehu for what Jehu and his descendants had done after the bloody massacre at Jezreel, but that is not what the text says, and it nowhere hints that this was what was meant. The blood of Jezreel happened during a coup d'etat led by Jehu to seize political control of Israel, and so there is no reason to think that the "blood of Jezreel" in Hosea 1:4 referred to anything but this massacre. To say that it was referring to what had happened in the house of Jehu after the events at Jezreel is to take ridiculous liberties with the text. At any rate, I should point out to those who may have missed it that Turkel is talking out of both sides of his mouth in this matter. He began by saying that the house of Jehu was going to be punished because Jehu had exceeded the commandment that Yahweh had given to him by killing more than just those who were members of the house of Jehu, but now he has yielded the floor to Stuart who is arguing that Hosea 1:4 meant that the house of Jehu would be wiped out not for what Jehu had done but for what had "happened in the meantime." Will the real Robert Turkel please stand up and tell us what he really believes in this matter?

Turkel [still quoting Stuart]:

In the same way that Jehu in 842 had annihilated a dynasty feared for its long history of oppression and apostasy, so Yahweh himself will now put an end to the Jehu dynasty because it, in turn, has grown hopelessly corrupt. (emphasis in original)

Till:
No comment is necessary, because I have refuted this claim above. It is simply an arbitrary assertion for which Stuart offered no analysis of the context of Hosea as support of his claim. However, to end this part of my response, I want to show the absurdities that inerrantist reasoning will so often lead to. Second Kings 9:1-10 clearly states that Yahweh selected Jehu to be king of Israel and sent him to completely destroy the house of Ahab, so we have every reason to wonder why an omniscient, omnipotent deity would have selected for a mission like this someone who would himself form a dynasty that would grow "hopelessly corrupt" and require extermination just as Ahab's dynasty. Did this Yahweh delight in bloodshed so much that he selected such men as these to be kings over his people? A more realistic interpretation of these stories would be that if they did accurately report political massacres and assassinations of the times, the notion that Yahweh was behind everything was merely the writers' reflection of ancient superstitions.

Turkel:
So, tying these two arguments together with a little string:

Till:
The two arguments, in effect, were that paqad didn't mean punish and that dam "blood" [of Jezreel] didn't really refer to the blood that Jehu had shed at Jezreel but to wrongs that Jehu and his descendants had committed after the massacre at Jezreel. I have spent considerable time showing that these two claims are baseless quibbles, so it is going to take more than just a "little string" for Turkel to tie these two arguments together.

Turkel:
1) Had Hosea wished to indicate the avenge/punish interpretation, then he picked an unusual word for it. The present form "does not clearly inform the collocation with the sense of retributive justice." [MCom.PrIron, 94]

Till:
So I suppose that we should assume that all of the 25+ [36] translations of the Old Testament that I consulted and quoted in earlier replies to Turkel translated Hosea 1:4 to convey the sense of retributive justice because the "present form" did not clearly "inform the collocation" with that sense?

Turkel:
A much stronger and precise word to use would be "naqam," which means only "punish" as Strong's indicates

Till:
Turkel, of course, meant to say that a "much stronger and more precise word to use would have been naqam," but apparently he has spent so much time learning the intricacies of Hebrew "nuances" that he hasn't had time to learn the basics of English grammar. At any rate, his argument is one that he would instantly reject if he should encounter it from me on an issue like Isaiah's virgin-birth prophecy. In Isaiah 7:14, the prophet gave to king Ahaz the sign that a "virgin" [almah in Hebrew] was with child and would bear a son. Although scholars "of all stripes" have pointed out that the word rendered "virgin" in many English translations was actually a word in Hebrew that conveyed the sense of "maiden" or "young woman" without any connotations of her sexual history, fundamentalists persist in arguing that this was a "prophecy" of the birth of Jesus. Scholars "of all stripes" have also pointed out that if Isaiah had really meant a woman who was sexually pure, he would have surely used a "much stronger and more precise word" like bethulah, which its usage in contexts like Deuteronomy 22:13-21 show did convey a clear sense of virginity in its strictest sense, but fundamentalists persists in arguing that this doesn't prove anything. I would be curious to know how Turkel would react to an argument like this against the all-important Christian doctrine of a prophesied virgin birth of the Messiah. Why do I suspect that he would find some "nuances" in Hebrew that he would consider sufficient grounds for rejecting this argument?

At any rate, I have shown through analyses in earlier sections of my reply that paqad did indeed convey the sense of "retributive justice," as the primitive, barbaric god Yahweh defined retributive justice, so there is no need for me to rehash this material again. The finding of other words in Hebrew that conveyed the sense of retribution or punishment would in no way prove that paqad did not denote this meaning too. Like other languages, Hebrew had synonyms. Why doesn't someone who knows as much about the Semitic mind and Hebrew nuances as Turkel does know that?

Turkel [quoting Strong]:

5358. naqam, naw-kam'; a prim. root; to grudge, i.e. avenge or punish:--avenge (-r, self), punish, revenge (self), X surely, take vengeance.

Till:
As just noted, the fact that naqam conveyed this meaning in no way proves that paqad did not convey the same sense of retribution and vengeance. All we have to do is look at one example to see this.

1 Samuel 15:2 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember [PQD] that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. 3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass (KJV).

As I have indicated in brackets above, the word translated "remember" in verse two was paqad in Hebrew, and the context in which it was used clearly conveyed a sense of "retributive justice" that Yahweh was going to demand of the Amalekites for an offense against Israel that their ancestors had committed about 450 years earlier. The fact that the sense of "retributive justice" that Yahweh expressed in this context was perverted in terms of modern morality does nothing to remove the fact that the passage clearly conveys a sense of retributive judgment, but according to Turkel's "logic," Yahweh erred by not using a "much stronger and [more] precise word" to convey this meaning. This passage, by the way, provides an excellent example of what I posted earlier about the meaning of paqad: It carried the sense of "remembering" in either a positive or negative sense (depending on how it was used). We might warn someone that we are going to "remember" an insult or an improper act, just as we might tell someone that we are going to "remember" a good deed. In both uses, the word "remember" conveys the sense of "payback," but the former is negative while the latter is positive.

To show that the KJV, which I have quoted above is not alone in seeing a sense of "retributive justice" conveyed by paqad in 1 Samuel 15:2, I'm going to cite other translations.

There is no need for me to continue. All other translations that I have access to rendered PQD in this context to convey an obvious sense of remembrance with a view to punishing the Amalekites for a past offense against Israel. If that doesn't convey a sense of "retributive justice," then what does it convey? Turkel, of course, thinks that it is "superficial scholarship" to quote translations, but I suspect that all it would take for him to change his mind about this would be to find that translations overwhelmingly support his view. In that case, I think that we would find him not the least bit hesitant to quote translations.

At any rate, an analysis of 1 Samuel 15:2 is plenty sufficient to show that his claim that paqad did not convey a sense of "retributive justice" in Hebrew is completely without merit. Such an argument would be comparable to claiming that the sense of "retribution" could not be conveyed in English except by a word like "vengeance," when many other words, such as "reprisal" or "requital" or "recompense" and others can be used in contexts that would clearly convey the meaning of retribution.

Turkel:
This word is found in the following verses, where it clearly indicates punishment or vengeance.

Till:
So what? If, as I have repeatedly shown, paqad was used to clearly indicate punishment and vengeance, all that Turkel's citations below prove is that there were other words in Hebrew that could convey the idea of punishment or vengeance. In that sense, Hebrew was just like other languages: it had synonyms.

Turkel:

Gen. 4:15 - But the LORD said to him, "Not so; if, anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance ("naqam") seven times over." Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.

Till:
Well, let's suppose that this verse had said, "If anyone kills Cain, I will visit [pqd] the blood of Cain on him seven times over." In that case, would Turkel argue that the statement did not carry the sense of retribution or punishment?

By the way, are we entitled to assume that Turkel's practice of quoting translations as he is doing here is a sign of "superficial scholarship"?

[Addendum July 2005: I asked this question several times, but Turkel didn't seem to want to answer it. I guess we can conclude from this that he thinks that he is using "in-depth research" when he quotes different translations (usually just the NIV), but if an opponent quotes translations, he is using "superficial scholarship."]

Turkel:

2 Ki. 9:7 - You are to destroy the house of Ahab your master, and I will avenge ("naqam") the blood of my servants the prophets and the blood of all the Lord's servants shed by Jezebel.

Till:
Well, let's just do it again. Suppose that this verse had Yahweh saying, "You are to destroy the house of Ahab your master, and I will visit [pqd] on Ahab the blood of my servants the prophets and the blood of all the Lord's servants shed by Jezebel." In that case, would Turkel argue that this statement did not convey the sense of retribution or punishment?

Turkel:

Is. 34:8 For the LORD has a day of vengeance ("naqam"), a year of retribution, to uphold Zion's cause.

Till:
Let's suppose that Isaiah had said, "For Yahweh has a day of visiting [pqd], a year of retribution, to uphold Zion's cause." Would Turkel then argue that the statement carried no sense of vengeance? In the KJV and other versions, PQD is translated "visiting" in Exodus 20:5; 34:7; Numbers 14:18, and Deuteronomy 5:9, where all verses carry the sense of "retributive justice." All Turkel is proving is that Hebrew, like other languages, had synonyms.

Turkel:
Another word that would have been better was "yacar." It is used elsewhere by Hosea (7:12, 15; 10:10). It means:

3256. yacar, yaw-sar'; a prim. root; to chastise, lit. (with blows) or fig. (with words); hence to instruct:--bind, chasten, chastise, correct, instruct, punish, reform, reprove, sore, teach.

Till:
Turkel thinks that this would have been a better word to convey a sense of "retributive justice" in the extermination of the house of Jehu? Such a claim only shows his desperation. Just look at the definitions that Strong gave for this word: chastise (with blows), correct, instruct, reform, reprove, teach, etc. These definitions convey the sense of "corrective punishment" rather than "retributive justice." It was the word used to instruct parents to "chastise" or punish their children.

Proverbs 19:18 Discipline [yacar, "chasten" in some versions] your children while there is hope; do not set your heart on their destruction.

Deuteronomy 8:5 Know then in your heart that as a parent disciplines [yacar] a child so the LORD your God disciplines [yacar] you.

Deuteronomy 21:18 If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father and mother, who does not heed them when they discipline [yacar] him, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his town at the gate of that place.

When used to convey nonparental "chastisement," it conveyed a punishment that was less harsh than death. When, for example, a man falsely accused his new bride of nonvirginity, the elders were to "punish" [yacar] him as instructed in Deuteronomy 22:18: "The elders of that town shall take the man and punish [yacar] him; they shall fine him one hundred shekels of silver (which they shall give to the young woman's father) because he has slandered a virgin of Israel." The punishment or chastisement was just a fine, not the death penalty, which was clearly conveyed in passages we have noted where paqad was used to denote impending punishment.

I could cite other examples, but these are sufficient to show Turkel's desperation to find something to shore up his untenable position on Hosea 1:4.

Turkel:
And is used in Gen. 15:14: But I will punish ("yacar") the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.

Till:
Well, let's do it again. If this passage had said, "But I will visit [pqd] on that nation the slavery of my people, and afterward they will come out with great possessions," would Turkel argue that paqad did not convey a sense of "retributive justice"? That anyone would argue that word X in a language could not mean a certain thing within a disputed text because there were other words in the language that conveyed that same sense is about as linguistically ridiculous an argument as anyone could make. In this case, word X is the Hebrew word paqad, and we have seen in example after example that it clearly conveyed the sense of "retributive justice." That there were other words in Hebrew that also conveyed the idea of retribution or vengeance in no way proves that paqad didn't. The matter is simple: Turkel is grasping for any straw he can find to try to quibble his way around an obvious biblical discrepancy.

Turkel:
That Hosea chose another word for his "condemnation" besides one of the two above should be a signal to us.

Till:
Yes, it should, and that signal would be no more than that Hebrew had synonyms in it, just as other languages do. If we want to look for signals, we should look for the signal of desperation that we are seeing in Turkel's futile attempt to explain that the Bible does not mean what it clearly says.

Turkel:
However, there is more. 2) Let us consider the argument that Hosea is here displeased with what Jehu did to the house of Ahab. An unasked question is, "Why should he have been?"

Till:
There are three reasonable answers to this "unasked question." First, it could well be that Hosea personally thought that no matter how grievous the sins of Ahab may have been, this was no justification for massacring descendants of Ahab who were not responsible for what Ahab had done or to kill those who were not descendants of Ahab. It can be shown, as Robert Dornbusch did in "Theological Development Rather than Revelation" (The Skeptical Review, July/August 1998, pp. 9-10), that there was a tendency after the time of the captivity to reject the notion that children should bear the sins of their fathers (Ezek. 18:1-20; Jere. 31:29-30). However, since Hosea apparently saw nothing wrong with punishing the descendants of Jehu for the blood that Jehu had shed at Jezreel and since Hosea seemed to pronounce punishment upon others for the sins of their ancestors (2:4; 9:12), he probably had no scruples against bringing vengeance upon the descendants of those who had done wrong, which was a common practice in those days. Second, Hosea could have thought that Jehu's actions at Jezreel had been excessive. This is not to express agreement with Turkel's claim that Jehu had gone beyond what Yahweh had commanded him to do and that this was the reason why Hosea pronounced vengeance upon the house of Jehu, for even if Hosea did think that Jehu's actions had been excessive, this would not mean that the writer of 2 Kings also thought that Jehu had exceeded his orders. The problem is not whether Jehu was right or wrong in what he had done but that two biblical writers (Hosea and the author of 2 Kings) obviously disagreed on the acceptability of Jehu's conduct at Jezreel. If the writer of 2 Kings approved of Jehu's actions, as his statement in 10:30-31 clearly indicates, and if Hosea disapproved of the actions, this disagreement and not what Jehu did at Jezreel becomes the discrepancy.

Later, I will state a third possible reason (which is the most probable one) why Hosea would have condemned Jehu's conduct at Jezreel.

[Addendum July 2005: I have long suspected that Turkel never really reads my replies but merely spot reads to find here and there something that he can quote in a thrown-together article that he calls a reply, because he quoted in "Jehu: Black Hat or White Hat?" my promise above to give a "third possible reason" and then declared that I had reneged on this promise.

!!!! - We are not told what specifically it was that was the "excess" in Jehu's conduct that Hosea was condemning but that the 2 Kings writer had no problem with! What was it? Did Jehu serve moldy bread at the Passover feast? Did he forget to knock before he went into the bathroom? Did he burp at the table? Did he write for a subscription to The Skeptical Review? All we have here is obfuscation - not reasons! And Skeptic X never fulfilled his promise here -- I would suggest that he was merely buying time to think of one that would suit his purposes!

Just a few paragraphs below, however, I will show that I did indeed give that third reason, just as I had promised, and for Turkel's benefit, I will highlight in blinking red [if he has a Netscape browser] a direct statement where I said, "This is the third reason, referred to above." I will also put a blinking red notice just before the paragraph to alert Turkel to look for the third reason in that paragraph. If he misses it this time, we will know that he doesn't really read my rebuttals.]

Turkel:
Hosea is no less condemning of the sins of the sort committed by the house of Ahab than the Kings writer is,

Till:
The writer of Kings was very condemning of the "sort" of sins committed by the house of Ahab 1 Kings 21:1-26), but his inconsistency was in praising Jehu for committing atrocities that were fully as bloody as anything Ahab had done. Furthermore, the writer of Kings also condemned the idolatry of Ahab and Jezebel (1 Kings 16:31-32; 18:1-40) but gave Jehu only a slap on the wrist for allowing the worship of the golden calves to continue (2 Kings 10:29-31). Hosea was more consistent in his condemnation of such sins than was the writer of Kings.

[Addendum July 2005: I should have noted here that Jeroboam's "sin" of causing Israel to worship the golden calves was the reason that Yahweh gave for ordering the extermination of his house.

1 Kings 14:7 Go, tell Jeroboam, Thus saith Yahweh God of Israel, Forasmuch as I exalted thee from among the people, and made thee prince over my people Israel, 8 And rent the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it thee: and yet thou hast not been as my servant David, who kept my commandments, and who followed me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in mine eyes; 9 But hast done evil above all that were before thee: for thou hast gone and made thee other gods, and molten images, to provoke me to anger, and hast cast me behind thy back: 10 Therefore, behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, and will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as a man taketh away dung, till it be all gone. 11 Him that dieth of Jeroboam in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat: for Yahweh hath spoken it.

This "sin" of Jeroboam was consistently used as a point of comparison when the writer of Kings singled out kings who had done "evil in the sight of Yahweh."

1 Kings 15:34 And he [Baashad] did evil in the sight of Yahweh, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin.

1 Kings 16:30 And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of Yahweh above all that were before him. 31 And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him.

2 Kings 3:3 Nevertheless he [Jehoram of Israel] cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom.

2 Kings 10:29 Howbeit from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Bethel, and that were in Dan.

So from the time of Jeroboam until and after Jehu, the "sin of Jeroboam" was the standard that had been used to judge kings. For this "sin," Jeroboam, Baasha, Ahab, and Jehoram were punished with death and destruction to their "houses," but Jehu got away with it. Talk about double standards!

Another comment is in order that I should have made in my original reply. Turkel said above that Hosea was no less condemning of the kinds of sins committed by the house of Ahab than was "the writer of Kings," but in Part One, we saw where Turkel talked at length about the "dry, disconnected" style of the writer of Kings, who reported "atrocities and beneficences with equally flat sentiment," as a possible reason why the presumed excesses of Jehu at Jezreel were not condemned, but now he is telling us that Hosea was "condemning" of the kinds of sins committed by the house of Ahab just as the writer of Kings was. As I have said before, whatever position Turkel takes will depend on what he needs to say at the moment to defend whatever doctrine du jour he is trying to peddle.]

Turkel:
and "nowhere else in the book (of Hosea) are the murders at Jezreel cited as the cause of Israel's demise." [MCom.MP, 20 ].

Till:
Is Turkel saying that because Hosea did not condemn this atrocity several times, we can't conclude from his one denunciation of it that he opposed Jehu's actions? What kind of logic is that? How many times must one express disapproval of something before it can be known that he disapproved of it?

Turkel:
Instead, it is all the usual sins that are the problem! Andersen and Freedman [AndFree.Hos, 179; see also Acht.MP1, 16-7] bring this point home nicely.

[Hey, Turkel, the third reason is in the next paragraph. Look for the blinking red notice.]

Till:
Hosea's use of the present tense throughout his book indicates that his focus was on "sins" that were contemporary to his times, but his reference in 1:4 to the past actions of Jehu clearly indicates his disapproval of what Jehu had done and expressed his prediction that Yahweh would punish the house of Jehu for the "blood of Jezreel." Hosea was an 8th-century B. C. prophet living in the northern kingdom of Israel. In 722/721 B. C., the northern kingdom fell to Shalmaneser, and the population was deported to Mesopotamia and Media, so the kingdom of Israel came to an end during the prophetic "ministry" of Hosea, which he claimed in 1:1 extended until the reign of Hezekiah of Judah (ca. 715 BC). In other words, Hosea was in a position to see that the kingdom of Northern Israel was in serious jeopardy, and the custom of that time was to find a reason why a nation's god would abandon it. Turkel has introduced the Semitic and Neareastern "mind" into the discussion, so he needs to understand that the idea of kingdoms just rising and falling in the natural course of events was completely foreign to the Neareastern mind. When it happened, an explanation was needed. When Judah fell to Babylon, the writer of 2 Kings put the blame on the wickedness of King Manasseh (2 Kings 21:12-15; 23:26-27; 24:3-4), and so it is completely compatible with the thinking of the times to suppose that Hosea, seeing in contemporary political affairs the impending end of the kingdom of Israel, put the blame on a well known bloody massacre from Israel's past and attributed the end of Israel to the blood that Jehu had shed at Jezreel. In so doing, he put himself into direct conflict with another biblical writer who would later praise the actions of Jehu at Jezreel. [Hosea was written before 2 Kings.] This is the third reason, referred to above, which offers a reasonable explanation for why Hosea would have condemned Jehu's actions at Jezreel. Knowing that political circumstances were such that the kingdom of Israel wasn't likely to survive, he needed an explanation for why the national god would allow this to happen. The reason that he found was Jehu's massacre at Jezreel. In other words, Jehu was made the scapegoat for the downfall of the northern kingdom, just as Manasseh was later made the scapegoat for the downfall of the southern kingdom. This was simply the way the "Semitic" mind worked.

[Addendum July 2005: As everyone [who uses a Netscape browser] can see, the statement above emphasized in blinking red clearly stated that what I had said about looking for scapegoats on whom to put the blame for Israel's and Judah's misfortunes was the third possible reason, which I had previously promised to give, why Hosea would have condemned Jehu's massacre at Jezreel, so Turkel was clearly wrong when he said, in the quotation noted above [in blue print], that I had never fulfilled my promise to give a third possible reason for Hosea's condemnation of Jehu. As I noted above, his accusing me of having reneged on this promise is a probable indication that he only spot reads my rebuttals. One thing is for sure: his replies only quote my rebuttals selectively. His selections almost invariably skip the hard stuff for which he has no plausible answers. As a debater, Turkel is a pathetic joke.]

Turkel:
There is no reason to suppose that Hosea's view of Israel's history in relation to its God was significantly different from that of the biblical historians (the Kings writers - ed.) or the prophets who preceded or were contemporary with him.

Till:
There isn't? What about the fact that the "biblical historian" who wrote 2 Kings heaped praise on Jehu's actions at Jezreel, as we have repeatedly seen, but the prophet Hosea expressed disapproval of it by identifying it as the reason why Yahweh was going to bring the kingdom of Israel to an end? Would that be sufficient reason to "suppose that Hosea's view of Israel's history in relation to its God was significantly different from that of the biblical historian's"? If it isn't, why wouldn't it be?

Turkel:
In the rest of his book we find numerous points of contact and agreement, although emphases and tendencies vary from the norms.

Till:
Yes, we do, but we find disagreement over the judgment of Jehu's actions at Jezreel, and that is the problem that all of Turkel's rambling on and on about nothing cannot explain away.

Turkel:
In this case as well, we may suppose his full agreement with the thundering condemnation of Ahab and his house, and the necessity for the violent overthrow of that infamous regime. While, therefore he, along with other prophets and historians, could approve Jehu's action in overthrowing the house of Ahab, that in itself does not require automatic approval of Jehu and his dynasty in other matters.

Till:
First of all, Turkel should forget about Jehu's "dynasty in other matters," because the context of Hosea 1:4 makes no reference to anyone in Jehu's dynasty. It cited only the "blood of Jezreel" as the reason why the house of Jehu would be punished. For Turkel to claim that the punishment was pronounced on the house of Jehu for what the dynasty had done "in other matters" is a crass assertion for which he can present no evidence. The text said that Yahweh would avenge the blood of Jezreel on the house of Jehu. Nothing was said about what anyone else in the house of Jehu had done after Jezreel.

Turkel:
Thus the historian condemns Jehu and his house in the stereotyped fashion after granting the inexorable divine oracle and promise. The house of Jehu has turned out to be no different from the house of Omri; it will come to the same bloody end for the same reasons.

Till:
Now all that Turkel needs to do is to find a biblical text that states this, but he can't do it. The biblical "historian" clearly stated that Jehu had "done well in exercising that which [was] right" in Yahweh's eyes and that he had done to the house of Ahab "according to all that was in [Yahweh's] heart" (2 Kings 10:30). As a reward for this, Yahweh promised to allow Jehu's sons to sit on the throne of Israel for four generations. So where is the condemnation that the "historian" pronounced in "stereotyped fashion" on the house of Jehu? He pronounced no such condemnation. The condemnation came four generations later from the prophet Hosea, and the end of the house of Jehu that Hosea pronounced was not for "the same bloody" reason for having acted "no different[ly] from the house of Omri." All such claims as these are flagrant attempts to read into the biblical text what is not there but what Turkel needs to have there in order to make his far-fetched interpretation of this matter fly, but it hasn't flown yet... and it won't fly, because Turkel can't find biblical evidence to support it.

Turkel:
In this aspect, Andersen and Freedman see in Hosea's words a similarity to the situation that Israel had when entering Canaan: They entered on a promise, but when they took up the evil ways of the Canaanites, the promise was turned back upon them.

Till:
Although Andersen and Freedman didn't cite any references, at least not in what Turkel has quoted, they could have produced biblical passages to indicate that the land promise in Canaan was conditional, but I could also produce passages that show that it was completely unconditional and something that Yahweh had to do in order to fulfill his promise to Abraham. This is just another of many inconsistencies that can be cited in the Bible, but be that as it may, neither Turkel nor any of his "scholars" can cite a single scripture that suggests that Yahweh's approval of Jehu's actions at Jezreel were conditional to the good behavior of his descendants. No such scripture exists. The fact is that Yahweh praised Jehu for his actions and promised, without conditions, that because of what Jehu had done to the house of Ahab, Jehu's sons would sit on the throne of Israel for four generations. The "historian" reminded us of this promise when he recorded the circumstances of Zechariah's assassination in 2 Kings 15:8-12. "This was the word of Yahweh," the historian said, "which he spoke to Jehu saying, Your sons to the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel. And so it came to pass." Zechariah was the fourth-generation descendant of Jehu, and so when he was assassinated, the "historian" considered the promise to Jehu fulfilled.

Just where are all of these conditions that Turkel, Andersen, and Freedman are reading into the text? They aren't there!

Turkel:
Thus, regarding Jehu's actions, they write that Hosea...

...viewed the behavior of Jehu in a dual light; in the very act of carrying out the divine judgment against the house of Ahab, he overstepped the bounds of his mandate and showed that arrogance and self-righteousness which was the undoing of the preceding dynasty.

Till:
Andersen and Freedman may regard Jehu's actions in this way, but one thing they cannot do is cite scriptural references that state that Jehu "overstepped the bounds of his mandate." If they could cite any such references, Turkel would have paraded them before us in bold letters. As my replies continue, I will be demolishing Turkel's claim that Jehu overstepped the bounds of his mandate, because that is where he leads us next, so there is no need for me to address this quibble now. In due time, everyone will see that it has no more merit than Turkel's claim that "nuances" in Hebrew show that Hosea was pronouncing doom on the house of Jehu for what the "dynasty" had done after the events of Jezreel and not for what Jehu had done.

Turkel:
Already the seeds of destruction were sown in the terrible slaughter initiated by Jehu.

Till:
How about a biblical reference to support this crass assertion? I showed earlier that Jehu had a far-reaching "mandate" to kill every male, both bond and free, in the house of Ahab, and Jehu did just that. Where did he overstep his "mandate"?

Turkel:
This excess, Andersen and Freedman find (as we do) in the destruction of members of the house of Judah (see below; see also Hous.12K, 293). They therefore conclude:

We should not suppose that in the thought of the prophet(s) it was Jehu's sin which doomed his great-great-grandson...

Till:
Why, no, why should anyone conclude this? After all, all that Hosea said was that Yahweh would avenge the blood of Jezreel on the house of Jehu, so what would give anyone any reason to think that Jehu's "sin" at Jezreel had anything to do with the "doom" that was being pronounced on Jehu's descendants? We have seen a lot of speculation from Andersen, Freedman, and Turkel (all for the sake of desperately trying to preserve biblical inerrancy), but we have seen no textual evidence to support their denial of the obvious.

Turkle;:
Accordingly we reject the modern interpretation of Hos. 1:4 which maintains that the prophet here repudiates Jehu's extermination of Ahab's line and sees this as a crime for which his descendent must pay.

Till:
Of course, Turkel rejects this "modern interpretation," which he has yet to prove is a "modern interpretation." After all, he is the one who has claimed that there are "nuances" in the Hebrew text that have been discovered only within the past 5-7 years, and so this is why all of the translations of Hosea 1:4 present the idea of vengeance or punishment on the house of Jehu. The poor translators just didn't know about these "nuances" that came to light only 5-7 years ago. So just who is the one who is presenting a "modern interpretation" in this matter? At any rate, Turkel rejects what the text plainly says only to try to preserve biblical inerrancy. If Hosea 1:4 had Yahweh saying, "I will bring retribution upon the house of Jehu for the people that Jehu killed in Jezreel and will bring the kingdom of Israel to an end specifically because of the bloody massacre that Jehu committed against the royal family of Israel," Turkel would reject all claims that this in any way meant that Hosea disagreed with the "historian" who wrote the account of Jehu's actions in 2 Kings 10. We would still see Turkel talking about "nuances" in Hebrew that show that the text does not really mean what it appears to say. This is something that biblicists do routinely when confronted with plain statements in the Bible that conflict with other plain statements.

[Addendum, July 2005: The divine punishment of descendants for something previously done by their ancestors was a common belief in biblical times. We have already seen that the writer of 2 Kings believed that Yahweh sent the Judeans into Babylonian captivity because of the sins of king Manasseh despite the fact that his grandson Josiah had been the most righteous of all the kings of Israel and Judah (2 Kings 23:25-27; 24:3). Even Jehu's "mandate" was given against Joram of Israel not for what Joram had done but for what his father Ahab had done.

1 Kings 21:17 Then the word of Yahweh came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying: 18 Go down to meet King Ahab of Israel, who rules in Samaria; he is now in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession. 19 You shall say to him, "Thus says Yahweh: Have you killed [Naboth], and also taken possession [of his vineyard]?" You shall say to him, "Thus says Yahweh: In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, dogs will also lick up your blood." 20 Ahab said to Elijah, "Have you found me, O my enemy?" He answered, "I have found you. Because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of Yahweh, 21 I will bring disaster on you; I will consume you, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel; 22 and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have provoked me to anger and have caused Israel to sin. 23 Also concerning Jezebel Yahweh said, 'The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the bounds of Jezreel.' 24 Anyone belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat; and anyone of his who dies in the open country the birds of the air shall eat." 25 (Indeed, there was no one like Ahab, who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of Yahweh, urged on by his wife Jezebel. 26 He acted most abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom Yahweh drove out before the Israelites.) 27 When Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth over his bare flesh; he fasted, lay in the sackcloth, and went about dejectedly. 28 Then the word of Yahweh came to Elijah the Tishbite: 29 "Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son's days I will bring the disaster on his house."

Jehu's "mandate" against the house of Ahab repeatedly compared his eventual fate to what had happened to the house of Jeroboam and the house of Baasha, and both of these "houses" were destroyed after Jeroboam and Baasha were dead. Baasha usurped the throne of Israel from Jeroboam's son Nadab (1 Kings 15:25-28), after which he immediately "killed all the house of Jeroboam" and "left to the house of Jeroboam not one that breathed" (1 Kings 15:29), and the very next verse says that this had been done "because of the sins of Jeroboam that he committed and that he caused Israel to commit." Baasha reigned for 24 years (v:33) but "did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh" (v:34), as most kings did in those days, even though they were presumably the anointed of Yahweh, who seemed to have a lot of rotten luck in his choice of kings. Despite his wicked ways, he died a natural death (1 Kings 16:6), but before his death, Yahweh had prophesied through Jehu (not the same Jehu as the one who is the subject of this debate) that Yahweh would "consume Baasha and his house, and... make [his] house like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat" and that "anyone belonging to Baasha who dies in the city the dogs [would] eat, and anyone of his who dies in the field the birds of the air would eat" (vs:3-4). Baasha was succeeded by his son Elah (v:8), but he was quickly assassinated by Zimri, the commander of Israel's chariots, who then "killed all the house of Baasha" and "did not leave him a single male of his kindred or his friends" but "destroyed all the house of Baasha, according to the word of Yahweh, which he spoke against Baasha by the prophet Jehu" (vs:11-12). The utter destruction of a family lineage, then, for something that had been done by a dead ancestor was a commonplace event in biblical times. What happened to the house of Jehu was therefore in keeping with the traditions and beliefs of the times.]

Turkel:
On the contrary, the main target of Hosea's criticism of the royal house of his day is precisely the sin of the Omrides....

Till:
I hope everyone is noticing that each time Turkel makes an assertion like this, it is unaccompanied by any scriptural citations to support it. The fact is that Omri was not even mentioned by Hosea, but somehow Turkel is able to know that Hosea's criticism of the house of Jehu "of his day is precisely the sin of the Omrides."

Turkel:
Hosea is saying that what God did to Ahab and his brood by means of Jehu is exactly what he will now do to Jeroboam (II) and his family, and for similar reasons. (emphasis in original)

Till:
Oh, so now Turkel or Andersen or Freedman or whoever is saying that what Jehu did to Ahab "and his brood" was actually what God did to the house of Ahab, but a central claim in Turkel's quibbling on this matter has been that Jehu "overstepped the bounds of his mandate." If Jehu "overstepped the bounds of his mandate," would that mean that God, who did all of this "by means of Jehu," overstepped too?

At any rate, I will simply point out again that we have another bald assertion here but no biblical text referred to or cited to support it. Doesn't everyone know that if any such text existed, Turkel would have quoted it?

Turkel:
The above exegesis travels a slightly different road, but arrives at the same conclusion that we have.

Till:
Well, there is a difference in "exegesis" and "eisegesis." Exegesis is the process of bringing out of a text its probable meaning through the application of recognized principles of literary interpretation. Eisegesis is the process of reading into the text meaning that is not there and is not justified by what the text says. We have no "exegesis" from Turkel but plenty of "eisegesis." This has been demonstrated so thoroughly that there is no need to rehash it here. The fact that Turkel has been unable to cite or quote scriptures that support his interpretation is ample proof that he is reading into Hosea 1:4 what he wants it to say.

Turkel:
Andersen and Freedman see the logical sense of the fact that, if Hosea condemns the same sins as those committed by the house of Ahab, how could he here be disapproving of Jehu's destruction of their house?

Till:
Let me venture a guess. Because Hosea considered the brutality and excessive bloodshed that Jehu administered at Jezreel to be worthy of disapproval? How about that? Or what about another reason I suggested. Hosea could read in contemporary affairs the probable end to the kingdom of Israel, and so he needed an explanation for why Yahweh would abandon his people. The sin of Jehu became that reason. Anyway, where did Hosea ever say anything that indicated his condemnation of the sins committed by the house of Ahab? No reference to Ahab can be found anywhere in the book of Hosea.

Turkel:
We would also add, to complete the circle: Without any reasonable supposition as to why Hosea would take this tack against Jehu and his house in the matter of the house of Ahab, where is the logic or compulsion to read "paqad" in its avenge/punish sense.

Till:
Since I just presented sensible reasons why Hosea would have disapproved of Jehu's actions, there is no need of further comment on them. I will, however, remind everyone that I have presented a mountain of evidence to show that Hebrew scholars obviously see reasons to "read paqad in its avenge/punish sense." A more puzzling question is why Turkel would see any other meaning in the text. Well, actually, we know why he leans over backwards to see another meaning in the text. He wants to preserve his precious belief in biblical inerrancy, and he is willing to do that at the cost of his personal intellectual integrity.

Turkel:
And so, we, coupled with a mass of detailed scholarship, conclude that there is no grounds to read into Hosea any sort of condemnation of Jehu's actions.

Till:
And I, with a mass of scholarship on my side represented in the hundreds of Hebrew experts who worked on the many translations of Hosea 1:4 that I have quoted, conclude that there are no grounds to read into Hosea anything but a condemnation of Jehu's actions. Everyone should bear in mind that this "mass of detailed scholarship" that Turkel referred to consisted primarily of what Andersen and Freedman and McComiskey asserted without proof, because they were certainly skimpy in their citation of textual evidence.

[Addendum July 2005: I urge everyone to read "Commentators of All Stripes," a companion article to this debate in which I analyzed Turkel's sources to show that his commentators of all stripes were not nearly as numerous as he misled his readers to believe and that most of them actually held to the traditional view of Hosea 1:4. Like most of his "arguments," Turkel's appeal to "commentators of all stripes" has sputtered and fizzled.]

Turkel:
This by itself is sufficient to overturn Till's case for disharmony with 2 Kings,

Till:
We'll let those who read Turkel's web page and my replies to it decide if "this by itself is sufficient to overturn [my] case." I suspect that many will think otherwise and see Turkel as the one who really has no case to overturn.

Turkel:
but because there is much yet to do, and because of the relative newness of this linguistic work (which we anticipate Till shall use [along with his usual machinations] as reason to discard it), we shall delve further into the matter and attack from the 2 Kings perspective.

Till:
No, actually, what I'm going to do is ask everyone to take note again of how Turkel talks out of both sides of his mouth. He said at one point that the linguistic work on Hosea 1:4 and the meaning of paqad were probably unknown to those who worked on translating the Old Testament, because this linguistic work had been done only within the last 5-7 years; then he sarcastically referred to my view of Hosea 1:4 as a "modern interpretation" that he rejects, and now at the end, he has come full circle and referred to "the relative newness of this linguistic work" on which he bases his view of Hosea 1:4. So which way does he want it? Is my view the "modern interpretation" that deserves our scorn, or is his view, which depends on linguistic work done within the last 5-7 years, the modern one? He can't have it both ways. If he thinks that the "modernness" of my interpretation is reason to be suspicious of it, wouldn't this work both ways? I certainly know that this discrepancy between 2 Kings 10:30 and Hosea 1:4 was recognized long before 5-7 years ago, so it is certainly not a view as "modern" as his, which by his own admission depends upon linguistic work that is relatively new. I point this inconsistency out only to remind readers of the tail-chasing that we see when inerrantists undertake to "explain" biblical discrepancies. They're on this side of the street at one moment and on the other side at the next. They run in circles trying to show that the Bible doesn't really mean what it plainly says.

Turkel:
For the purpose of the remainder of this essay we shall continue under the assumption that Hosea did indeed offer condemnation of some sort in the avenge/punish sense.

Till:
The evidence I presented earlier in my reply to Turkel has shown that this is a safe assumption. I remind everyone of the evidence I have presented to show that Hosea intended to convey a sense of vengeance or punishment upon the house of Jehu, so that no one who joins the list at this point will be deceived into thinking that Turkel is arguing only from the point of view of an assumption for which there is no convincing evidence. I have shown that the evidence overwhelmingly supports the interpretation of vengeance or punishment in Hosea 1:4. I will be glad to send them to anyone who missed my 17 replies to Turkel's quibbles on that point.

Another point that is worth mentioning here is that hundreds of discrepancies like the one now under consideration have been identified by biblical scholars and skeptics. To "explain" the one in Hosea 1:4, Turkel has had to stretch imagination to the limits in order to find a far-fetched "nuance" in Hebrew to support his view that the prophet wasn't expressing disapproval of Jehu's actions at Jezreel. Although Turkel has obviously failed to sustain his position, let's just suppose that he should be able to show conclusively that there is no discrepancy between Hosea 1:4 and 2 Kings 10:30. If he should succeed in doing this, all that he would have accomplished is to explain just one discrepancy. What are the odds that he or anyone else could successfully explain away the hundreds of other discrepancies that have been identified in the Bible? My point is that even if Turkel should win on this one point, he would not have proven biblical inerrancy. On the other hand, if I should prevail in this discussion--and I certainly believe that I have and will--I will have won not just a battle but the whole war, because proving just one point of discrepancy in the Bible is sufficient to prove that the Bible is not the inerrant work that biblicists claim it is. In other words, Turkel is not in a very enviable position.

[Addendum July 2005: In "Jehu: Black Hat or White Hat? Turkel took a stab at answering the problem of so many discrepancies in the Bible.

In answer to the first question, given that Skeptic X, like many skeptics, has shown nearly total ignorance of social, cultural, and linguistic factors related to the Biblical text, and given the relative ease with which I have recently dealt with McKinsey's Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy, I would say that the odds are extremely good that the overwhelming majority of those "hundreds" could be easily disposed of, since they are generally produced as a result of ignorance or gross incompetence.

Turkel should know by now that I too oppose many of the claims of discrepancy that McKinsey published in his book. Some of the discrepancies are easy to answer, and I suspect that these are the ones that Turkel thinks that he "dealt" with relatively easily, but I know that although many of McKinsey's discrepancies are strained examples, he has many examples of discrepancy that I think are real inconsistencies or downright errors, so I will issue a challenge to Turkel. If he will agree to post them on his website, along with his replies and my counterreplies, I will pick some of McKinsey's examples and write detailed explications of them to expand McKinsey's material, which, like Turkel's, was often too general and abstract to support his positions with any appreciable clarity. The challenge then is for Turkel to post on his website (1) my expansions of some of McKinsey's examples, (2) his replies to them, and (3) my counterreplies and any subsequent replies that either of us should want to write. This challenge entails an understanding that both of us agree to reply point by point to each other's material.

How many think that Turkel will accept this challenge?

How many think that pigs will fly someday?

As for "biblical scholars," one wonders why this would matter, since Skeptic X disdains using them as a source anyway, but if he checks carefully and overlooks the conspiracy at work, he will find that greater knowledge of the Bible's roots has led to a far greater understanding of what's behind the text - and eliminated a great many of the discrepancies that were previously perceived.

Saying that a "great many of the discrepancies that were previously perceived" have been eliminated is too abstract and ambiguous to give me any idea what Turkel meant, so there is nothing for me to reply to here. If he will present specific examples and his reasons for thinking that these examples of alleged discrepancy have been "eliminated," I will be glad to reply to him point by point, if he will agree to post my replies on his website. Needless to say, I will post everything on mine.

I certainly don't distain scholarship. I simply recognize that citing scholars is insufficient to make one's case, because, as I have repeatedly said, there is no religious belief for which one cannot find books and articles that could be quoted in support of it. I appreciate scholarship as much as anyone, but I have enough common sense to know that one does not prove, say, preterism by quoting scholars who agree with it, because an opponent of this belief could quote scholars, with equally impressive credentials, who disagree with this doctrinal belief. Is Turkel really so dense that he just can't see this?

Then, in answer to the claim: I would like to remind the reader that whatever Skeptic X may accomplish in his little corner of the world, there are still tens of thousands of books out there written by people who either are not believers in inerrancy or are indifferent to it for the purposes of their text even if they do believe in it,

All Turkel has done here is confirm what I have said many times. No matter what one's position is on a religious matter, he can always finds books and articles to quote in support of it. I am also well aware of the fact that there are many scholars who are objective enough to recognize that the bible is not inerrant. I doubt, however, that Turkel would agree with the "tens of thousands of books" (talk about hyperbole) that take an errant view of the Bible, so I assume he would agree that if I quoted Meier or Witherington or Wright to support my view of biblical errancy, he would reject their view and say that what they believe about this issue doesn't prove that they are right, but when he quotes them to support one of his views, he thinks that what they say should be sufficient to settle the matter and will usually ridicule anyone who refuses to accept the opinion of his scholars as definitive proof that he is right. As I have said before, inconsistency is about the only consistency in Turkel's articles.

[there are still tens of thousands of books out there written by people who either are not believers in inerrancy or are indifferent to it for the purposes of their text even if they do believe in it,] but that nevertheless support the conclusion that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior and that the Bible is an overall reliable historical record of the dealings of God with the people of Israel, and more so as we approach the New Testament.

Yes, I know that there are biblical scholars who recognize biblical errancy but still think that it is in some sense the "word of God," but I have yet to find anyone with this belief who can satisfactorily answer what the guru of biblical inerrancy himself said about a major problem in that view. After pointing out that the credibility of witnesses in a trial is impeached when they are caught lying, Gleason Archer applied the principle to the Bible.

The same is true of Holy Scripture. If the statements it contains concerning matters of history and science can be proven by extrabiblical records, by ancient documents uncovered through archaeological digs, or by the established facts of modern science to be contrary to the truth, then there is grave doubt as to it trustworthiness in matters of religion. In other words, if the biblical record can be proved fallible in areas of fact that can be verified, then it is hardly to be trusted in areas where it cannot be tested. As a witness for God, the Bible would be discredited as untrustworthy. What solid truth it may contain would be left as a matter of mere conjecture, subject to the intuition or canons of likelihood of each individual. An attitude of sentimental attachment to traditional religion may incline one person to accept nearly all the substantive teachings of Scripture as probably true. But someone else with equal justification may pick and chose whatever teachings in the Bible happen to appeal to him and lay equal claim to legitimacy. One opinion is as good as another. All things are possible, but nothing is certain if indeed the Bible contains mistakes or errors of any kind (Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, pp. 23-24, emphasis added).

I didn't quote this because I believe that whatever Gleason Archer says must be true. The fact is that I disagree with practically everything he said in his book that I quoted above, but I think that what he said in the quotation above is logical. If some parts of the Bible are erroneous, how can anyone trust what it says in matters that are not verifiable by extrabiblical evidence? If, for example, the Bible erred in saying X, how can we know that it was right in saying Y? Let X be anything in the Bible that these scholars referred to by Turkel want it to be and let Y be, say, the presumed divinity of Jesus. If they can't believe that X is true, then how can they know that Jesus really was "the Lord and Christ" that Turkel claimed above? I will present to Turkel a challenge that I have presented to many who think that the Bible is errant but still in some sense the "word of God" and ask him to explain how one can determine truth from error in an errant Bible.

Therefore, all that Skeptic X would have accomplished is to show that the Bible is not inerrant, but he would still have to confront the problem of overall reliability.

In response to this, I will just refer readers to the quotation above from Gleason Archer's book. I think that his argument is sound and am prepared to defend it as I, in fact, did in my series on biblical errancy. The literature of other nations, like Babylonia, Assyria, Egypt, Moab, etc., which were contemporary to biblical times, is similar to the Bible in that it contains miraculous claims and depicted its people as the favorites of their gods, and so on. If there is an overall reliability to the Bible, then why wouldn't the general literature of that time be equally reliable?

What are the odds, I ask, that Skeptic X or anyone else could successfully refute the hundreds of other writers and their tens of thousands of books, articles, and speeches that have supported the general reliability the Bible and the divinity of Jesus Christ? What would Skeptic X do, we wonder, to refute the works of the likes of John P. Meier, Ben Witherington, N. T. Wright, or James D. G. Dunn - disbelievers in any sort of inerrancy who nevertheless affirm that the data gives positive proof that Jesus Christ is Lord? It's not too hard to guess that Skeptic X taking on these giants would be much the same as Moe, Larry and Curly taking on Stephen Hawking! My point, then, is that even if Skeptic X should win on any point, or any number of points, he would not have disproven Christianity. In fact he will not have even joined the battle to do so.

Not a one of the scholars that Turkel mentioned above can give a single reason, without resorting to special pleading and question begging, why anyone should believe that Jesus was "Lord and Christ." All they can do is engage in the same kind of special pleading and question begging that Muslims would have to resort to in trying to prove the divine prophethood of Muhammad or that a Hindu would use to prove the historicity of the nine avatars of the god Vishnu. No documents contemporary to the time that Jesus allegedly lived even mentioned the man, even though authors like Philo Judaeus and Justus of Tiberias lived and wrote at the time that Jesus presumably went about performing all kinds of miraculous deeds and attracting multitudes from various surrounding regions and countries (Matt. 4:25; Mark 3:7-8). Justus of Tiberias was, in fact, a resident of Galilee at the time when Jesus was presumably working all kinds of miracles there; Justus wrote a history of Galilee, which did not survive beyond the 9th century, but the evidence indicates that he made no mention of Jesus. Photius, a 9th-century Christian writer, had apparently read Justus's history of Galilee, because he summarized it in Code 33 of the Myriobiblion or Bibliotheca and said that Justus didn't even mention Christ or any of the things that had happened to him.

Read the Chronicle of Justus of Tiberias, entitled A Chronicle of the Kings of the Jews in the form of a genealogy, by Justus of Tiberias. He came from Tiberias in Galilee, from which he took his name. He begins his history with Moses and carries it down to the death of the seventh Agrippa of the family of Herod and the last of the kings of the Jews. His kingdom, which was bestowed upon him by Claudius, was extended by Nero, and still more by Vespasian. He died in the third year of the reign of Trajan, when the history ends. Justus's style is very concise, and he omits a great deal that is of the utmost importance. Suffering from the common fault of the Jews, to which race he belonged, he does not even mention the coming of Christ, the events of His life, or the miracles performed by Him.

So Photius attributed Justus's failure to mention a man living in his midst who walked on water, calmed storms, healed the deaf, blind, and lame, resurrected the dead, etc. to Justus's "concise style" and a "common fault of the Jews" that he "suffered." Apparently, it never occurred to Photius that Justus didn't mention Jesus because there had been no miracle-working Jesus in his time to write about.

The bitter pill that Christians refuse to swallow is the undeniable fact that no documents contemporary to the time when Jesus allegedly lived mentioned this man. Christians have had to swallow a camel in order to find even disputed references to Jesus in extrabiblical literature, but the fact still remains that no one contemporary to the time that Jesus lived made any direct, undeniable references to him, so the fact that Turkel has found some scholars who recognize the errancy of the Bible but still believe that Jesus was "Lord and Christ" proves exactly nothing except that the fallacy of wishful thinking still survives.

Turkel doesn't seem to understand the logical principle that says what proves too much proves nothing at all. His entire statement above could be adapted to become an apologetic defense of Islam by just changing certain words in it. This is easy to demonstrate.

What are the odds, I ask, that Turkel or anyone else could successfully refute the hundreds of other writers and their thousands of books, articles, and speeches that have supported the general reliability of the Qur'an and the divine prophethood of Muhammad? What would Turkel do, we wonder, to refute the works of the likes of Ibn Abbas, Maulana Muhammad Ali, Ibn Hajar al Asqalani, Imam ash-Shawkani, etc, who affirm that the data in the Qur'an gives positive proof that Muhammad was indeed Allah's chosen prophet? It's not too hard to guess that Turkel taking on these giants would be much the same as Moe, Larry, and Curly taking on Stephen Hawking! My point, then, is that even if Turkel should win on any point, or any number of points, he would not have disproven the truth of Islam. In fact he will not have even joined the battle to do so.

The fallacy in Turkel's reasoning aside, I will present another challenge to him. If he will present one argument or more that any of the scholars he mentioned above used to try to prove that Jesus was "Lord and Christ," I will gladly reply to them, if he will agree to reply point by point and post both, along with my counterreply, on his website.

He won't agree to do this, and so that ends the matter. I will close this point by simply saying that my purpose from the time that I published the first issue of The Skeptical Review has been to establish that the Bible is not inerrant, as most fundamentalists affirm in order to have a basis for claiming divine authority for "biblical principles." My point, therefore, still stands unimpeached: Proving that one of my claims of errancy is wrong would not establish the truth of biblical inerrancy. It would simply prove me wrong on one claim of biblical errancy.

I have noticed that Turkel has modified his position over the years. At the time of our original debate, he seemed to claim that the Bible is indeed inerrant, but he has chased his tailed so long, with excuse after excuse for biblical discrepancies, that he has eventually come around to saying that the Bible may not be inerrant, but it is still reliable. I think that he is still an inerrantist at heart, but he has taken so many beatings in trying to defend that position that he has recently resorted to claiming that errors in the Bible aren't really errors if the people living at that time didn't think that they were errors or if the people of that time didn't care if they were errors but cared only about the central messages of the biblical writers. He has claimed that apparent inconsistencies aren't inconsistencies if they result from ambiguity or incomplete narration of details, because biblical writers lived in a time when writing materials were scarce, so they had to condense their records to make them fit into limited space. He has even resorted to claiming that inspiration in biblical times meant the same thing we mean when we speak of "inspired" works of art. In a word, he has reduced the Bible to nothing but ordinary literature that has no more authority behind it than the literature of ancient Assyria, Egypt, or Babylonia. I can agree with that view of the Bible, so what is there to debate about?]

Tirkel:
We will find that even then, Till's exegetical construct is a highly substandard one. We will analyze, in the following order (according to their length), Till's responses to the remaining three items from Miller: 2. The killing of Ahaziah. 7. The killing to [sic] 42 princes of Judah. 6. The killing of Ahab's supporters, who were not his descendants.

Aha, Ahaziah!

In a supplemental reply, Till advanced the following argument. Noting that the parallel account of Ahaziah's death in 2 Chron. 22:6-9 indicates that Ahaziah walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, and that his death was "ordained by God," Till writes:

"So if Yahweh was so miffed as [sic] the house of Ahab that he would have commissioned Jehu to go and kill every male, both bond and free, in the house of Ahab, he surely wouldn't have minded if Jehu threw in Ahaziah for good measure and killed him too.

"...If Ahaziah's downfall was ordained by God, then it wasn't very nice of God to cut off the house of Jehu century later for Jehu's massacre of Ahaziah."

At this point the sophisticated reader is certainly astonished that a man of Till's seasoned years would advance such a juvenile "argument". [sic] Such fractured logic may appeal to those with less mature mindsets (who perhaps used similar "logic" when caught by their guardians while commissioning some forbidden, "out of bounds" act), but it holds no water in the real world of authority and obedience.

Till:
It's easy to say that logic is "fractured" or that an argument is "juvenile." After all, I have already pointed out that a major part of Turkel's strategy has been to say over and over how "shallow" or "superficial" or "fractured" or "juvenile" my logic is, as if he thinks that if he says this enough times, someone might believe it. I'm willing to let readers of our exchanges decide who is using superficial and fractured logic. Let Turkel explain to us the divine justice in punishing Jehu's descendants because Jehu had killed Ahaziah, an evil king whose death was ordained by Yahweh. That makes no sense at all.

Turkel:

Ahaziah, though a grandson of Jezebel and a potential avenger of his brother-in-law Joram, was not of the house of Ahab; he was of his own house in Judah, in line with the social rules of the time regarding households. (Of course, had he somehow been part of the house of Ahab, then Jehu would have been obliged by his commission to get rid of Ahaziah's slaves, servants, etc. - see below - but there's no sign of that kind of action in the text, which is significant since it would have required an invasion of Judah to pull off!) Therefore, in killing Ahaziah, Jehu went beyond what God ordered - period.

Till:
Of course, it went beyond what "God ordered"; that's why the writer of 2 Kings said absolutely nothing anywhere in his account of the Jezreel massacre to indicate that he thought Jehu had erred or "sinned" or "exceeded his mandate" by killing Ahaziah. However, the writer did make the following statement:

2 Kings 10:30 Yahweh said to Jehu, "Because you have done well in carrying out what I consider right, and in accordance with all that was in my heart have dealt with the house of Ahab, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel."

This statement, by the way, was made in the same chapter in which the writer recorded the killing of Ahaziah and all of the others whom Jehu massacred at Jezreel. It is strange, then, that if the killing of Ahaziah went beyond what Yahweh had wanted Jehu to do, the writer of this account did not mention it. This is especially puzzling since the comment just quoted was sandwiched between two verses that faulted Jehu for not ending the worship of the golden calves.

Furthermore, as Turkel noted, Ahaziah of Judah was the grandson of Jezebel, and as such, he was a descendant of Ahab and would have been considered part of the house of Ahab. I don't know if Turkel did it intentionally, but in saying that Ahaziah was the grandson of Jezebel, without mentioning that this would have made him the grandson of Ahab, his statement may have thinly concealed from readers the fact that Ahaziah was a direct descendant of Ahab. He, in fact, bore the same relationship to Ahab as did the 70 sons of Joram of Israel, whose heads Jehu piled in two heaps at the entrance of the gate to Jezreel (2 Kings 10:7-10). The only difference was that Ahaziah was Ahab's grandson by virtue of his mother's having been Ahab's daughter, whereas the 70 sons of Joram of Israel had descended from Ahab through Ahaziah's uncle Joram (the brother of Ahaziah's mother). Since Yahweh's orders were to "cut off" [kill] from Ahab every male bond and free, this umbrella commandment would have included Ahaziah. Since he was conveniently located in Jezreel at the time, where he was visiting his uncle (Joram), Jehu could kill Ahaziah without having to invade Judah. As my replies to this section of Turkel's "essay" continue, I will be showing that the destruction of one's house in the "Semitic mind," which Turkel likes to talk about, included the killing of everyone associated with the person whether related by blood or not. The fact that Jehu was ordered to kill every male in Ahab's house, bond or free, is compelling evidence that the writer of 2 Kings understood that Ahab's house extended beyond his blood kin, because a direct descendant of Ahab would hardly have been a bond servant.

Turkel:

That it fit in with what God ordained is irrelevant, and proof of nothing more than that:

Till:
Does anyone see any kind of rebuttal in this statement? The statement in 2 Chronicles 22:7 literally reads, "The destruction of Ahaziah was of [from] God," and Young's Literal Translation renders it, "And from God hath been the destruction of Ahaziah." The Jewish Publication Society version translated it, "The LORD caused the downfall of Ahaziah...." So the Chronicle writer said that the destruction of Ahaziah was "of" or "from" God or was "caused" by God, but what we are going to see now is just another case of Turkel desperately trying to show that the Bible does not mean what it clearly says.

[Addendum July 2005: If Jehu killed Ahaziah and if the killing of Ahaziah was "of God," i. e., caused by God, then Yahweh had to have pulled the strings that resulted in Ahaziah's death, and Jehu would have had no means of self-control to keep himself from killing Ahaziah. If not, why not? It wasn't very nice of the omnibenevolent one to cause Jehu to do something that would later, in his infinite wisdom, require him to destroy the house of Jehu for an action that Yahweh himself had orchestrated.]

Turkel:

(a) As might be expected, the will of an omnipotent deity is done regardless of what irritating actions of rebellion we puny rogues might take!

Till:
It doesn't matter how much something might be the "will" or the "want" of a person, even an omnipotent deity; if that something should happen, it cannot rightly be said that it was "of" or "from" that person or "caused" by that person unless he did something to make it happen. I may, for example, want Bill Clinton to resign the presidency (which actually I don't want him to do), but if he should later resign, it cannot properly be said that his resignation was "of" or "from" Till or "caused" by Till, since I have done nothing at all that could be construed as a cause of his resignation. That's so obvious that it hardly needs further comment, but inerrantists often have trouble recognizing the obvious if it in any way discredits the Bible.

[Addendum July 2005: The logical end of Turkel's reasoning would mean that "God" in no way exercises control over world events, and I seriously doubt that he would want to take that track.]

Turkel:

(b) The fact that according to the Israelite mindset, God is the source of primary causality. Death, even if by accident or disease, was ultimately by the decree of Yahweh, and an unexplained or untimely death (like Ahaziah's) was always thought of as a sentence.

Till:
Well, I certainly agree with this statement. The "Israelite mindset" was such that the hand of Yahweh was seen in everything; however, if something happened purely by accident and an Israelite writer said that it was "of God" or "from God," would that not be an error? Perhaps Turkel will want to think about this and retract his statement above, because if the death of Ahaziah occurred purely by circumstances that Yahweh had nothing to do with, then the Chronicler erred in saying that the destruction of Ahaziah was "of God," because it wasn't "of God" unless God in some way acted to make it happen. If not, why not?

Turkel:

Hence the Chronicles writer simply reflects the common Israelite belief of his day and in no way reflects upon the matter of Jehu's obedience or lack thereof.

Till:
Than what we have in 2 Chronicles 22:7 is an erroneous statement. If not, why not? Maybe Turkel would care to explain. Nevertheless, I'm curious to know why Turkel can't just admit that 2 Kings 10:30 also "reflects the common Israelite belief" of the time. Jehu eradicated the lineage of a cruel, tyrannical king; hence, in the mind of an Israelite writer, Jehu's actions had been "according to all that was in [Yahweh's] heart." It was, in other words, an Israelite's explanation for why the massacre had occurred, just as Manasseh's wickedness was the writer's explanation for why Yahweh would abandon Judah to a pagan king. If, however, no god had anything to do with either event, then the writer's claim that both events had been caused by Yahweh would be incorrect statements and therefore errors in the Bible. The point is that if 2 Chronicles 22:7 wasn't an error because it merely expressed "the common Israelite belief" of the time, then why has Turkel taken us down his long tangent to nowhere in his quibbling about the meaning of paqad when a simpler explanation would have been that 2 Kings 10:30 merely expressed a "common Israelite belief of the times," i. e., the hand of Yahweh was in everything?

Turkel:

Moreover, this can be said: Advancing such "logic" as Till's, one (even a state-appointed executioner) could justify entering into a maximum-security prison and killing every inmate on death row, then shrugging it off with the maxim, "It was what the state had ordained anyway. I'm sure they wouldn't mind."

Till:
The analogy is imperfect, because if an official account of my massacre of "every inmate on death row," say, an account written by the governor or a proclamation issued by the state legislature, should say, "Now the destruction of the prison inmates was 'of [from] the legislature' or 'of [from] the governor,'" to say the very least, this statement would be an expression of approval of the massacre. If not, why not?

Turkel:

Such logic, again, is reserved to those of immature mindset, and offers nothing in the way of an actual answer to the fact that in killing Ahaziah, Jehu exceeded his commission. It was by all means a course of political wisdom, but it plainly was done in violation of Jehu's orders. (And of course, we argue that the condemnation was not just for the killing of Ahaziah - Till argues here with the presumption that the remainder of the arguments are already refuted!)

Till:
As I proceed in my point-by-point response to this section of Turkel's "essay," I will show rather conclusively that Jehu's marching orders were extensive enough to have put Ahaziah under the umbrella. For one thing, as I showed above, Ahaziah was Ahab's grandson, so that made him fair game for a divine order to destroy completely the house of Ahab. Turkel seems to think that he has a major point in his favor on this issue, so I will put it to rest now. I showed above that Ahaziah was Ahab's grandson, because Ahaziah's father had married Ahab's daughter. Turkel may not want to consider Ahaziah a part of the house of Ahab, but the writer(s) of 2 Kings did, as the following statement shows.

8:25 In the twelfth year of King Joram son of Ahab of Israel, Ahaziah son of King Jehoram of Judah began to reign. 26 Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he began to reign; he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Athaliah, a granddaughter of King Omri of Israel. 27 He also walked in the way of the house of Ahab, doing what was evil in the sight of Yahweh, as the house of Ahab had done, for he was son-in-law to the house of Ahab.

We see in the last statement that Ahaziah's "evil" ways were attributed to the fact that he was a "son-in-law to the house of Ahab." Thus, this writer considered Ahaziah to be a part of the house of Ahab. Why Ahaziah was called a "son-in-law to the house of Ahab" is something that only the writer would probably know, because Ahaziah's father Jehoram of Judah was actually the son-in-law of Ahab; Ahaziah was actually a grandson of the house of Ahab, because his mother (Athaliah) was Ahab's daughter. However, it is sufficient to note that the "inspired" writer referred to Ahaziah in such a way as to identify him as a part of the house of Ahab, so if Jehu had been ordered to "cut off from Ahab every male both bond and free of the house of Ahab" and to make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam and like the house of Baasha (2 Kings 9:8-9), how did Jehu "go beyond his mandate" in killing a grandson of Ahab whom the "biblical historian" had earlier identified as a part of the house of Ahab?

If this isn't sufficient to convince Turkel, then he should take note of the clear command cited immediately above for Jehu to make the house of Ahab like the house of Baasha. The destruction of Baasha's house was recorded in 1 Kings 16:10-11.

10 Zimri came in and struck him [Elah, Baasha's son] down and killed him, in the twenty-seventh year of King Asa of Judah, and succeeded him. 11 When he began to reign, as soon as he had seated himself on his throne, he killed all the house of Baasha; he did not leave him a single male of his kindred or his friends.

The account of the destruction of the house of Baasha specifically states that not a single male of the "kindred" of Baasha or of his friends was left alive, so if Jehu's orders were to "cut off" every male from the house of Ahab and to make the house of Ahab like the house of Baasha, how did Jehu "go beyond his mandate" in killing a grandson of Ahab? Would a grandson of Ahab not be a kinsman of Ahab? Turkel has argued, of course, that the "friends" that Zemri killed in the house of Baasha were not the same kind of "friends" that Jehu killed in the house of Ahab (2 Kings 10:11), because the original texts did not use the same word for "friends" in both accounts. That is a quibble that I will address when it comes up later in Turkel's article. For now, I just want to clarify Ahaziah's relationship to Ahab. He was a grandson of Ahab, which would certainly have been a kinsman, and the writer of 2 Kings, as noted above, associated him with the house of Ahab, so if Jehu was commanded to "cut off" every male in the house of Ahab and to make the house of Ahab like the house of Baasha and if the destruction of the house of Baasha included the killing of every male of the kindred of Baasha, how can Turkel argue that Jehu went "beyond his mandate" when he killed a grandson (a kinsman) of Ahab? Furthermore, the Chronicler, in recording Yahweh's displeasure with Ahaziah, attributed his wickedness to his mother Athaliah, who "was his counsellor to do wickedly" (2 Chron. 22:2-3). He went on to say that Ahaziah "did evil in the sight of Yahweh, as did the house of Ahab, for they were his counsellors after the death of his father, to his destruction" (v:4). So this writer obviously attributed Ahaziah's downfall to having followed the "counsel" of the house of Ahab. Somehow, Turkel was able to find in Hosea 1:4 "nuances" in Hebrew that showed that the prophet was really upset with what the descendants of Jehu had done after Jezreel and not with Jehu's actions per se at Jezreel, yet Turkel can't seem to find in all of these biblical statements about Ahaziah's kinship with the house of Ahab and his pursuance of the advice or counsel of the house of Ahab any justification for Jehu to have killed Ahaziah when Jehu was acting on a mandate to kill every male in the house of Ahab and to make it like the house of Baasha. Turkel claims to have special insights into Hebrew "nuances," but he can't seem to understand the meaning of clear Hebrew language. Amazing!

Go to Part Three.



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