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Jehu Again
Part One
by Farrell Till

A reply to:

A "Solution" to the Alleged Contradiction
between 2 Kings 10:30 and Hosea 1:4


by Leonard Jayawardena



Statement of the alleged contradiction: In his writings, Mr Till (FT) alleges that there is a contradiction between 2 Kg. 10:30 and Hos.1:4. He says in his article "The Uniqueness of the Bible" that in 2 Kings 9-10... the story of the massacre of the royal family of Israel at Jezreel is related with obvious approval of whoever wrote the account. At the end of this account, the writer declared Yahweh's approval of Jehu's actions: "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'" (10:30). Whoever wrote the record of Jehu's and his descendants' reigns obviously thought that Jehu had pleased Yahweh in the massacre of the royal family of Israel in order to usurp the throne. But several years later, however, the prophet Hosea expressed an entirely different opinion of Jehu's actions [in saying that God said to him], "...I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel...." The writer of 2 Kings heaped praise on Jehu for the Jezreel massacre... in making the "prediction," Hosea put himself into obvious disagreement with the writer of 2 Kings, who thought that Jehu had done "all that was in [Yahweh's] heart" in the matter of Jezreel. It's hard to see perfect agreement and harmony in these two views of the same event.

Till:
Actually, Hosea, who lived in the time of "Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah," wrote his prophetic book before 2 Kings was written. This dates Hosea to at least the last quarter of the 8th century BC, but the writer of 2 Kings recorded the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar in 597 BC (2 Kings 24:10-20), so Hosea condemned Jehu's massacre at Jezreel, and then some years later, the author of 2 Kings praised it.

Jayawardena
Outline of the Solution: The solution to this apparent contradiction consists mainly of a proper analysis and interpretation of two key verses involved: 2 Kg 9:6-10 and 10:30. These two verses should be examined to determine the following:

  • 1. Is 2 Kings 9:6-10, as it might first appear in the English translations, a command to Jehu to destroy the house of Ahab so that God could avenge the innocent blood shed by Jezebel? If so, it is difficult (at least for me) to see how there cannot be a contradiction as alleged. For if Jehu was simply carrying out a divine command delivered through a prophet of God, how could then he be faulted later (Hos. 1:4) for carrying out that command?
  • Till:
    I am pleased by the quality of Leonard Jayawardena's attempt to solve the discrepancy in Hosea's denunciation of Jehu's massacre, which received the praise and approval of another Bible writer. He expresses himself well in writing and will obviously be a more knowledgeable opponent than those defenders of biblical inerrancy, seen so often in internet forums, who claim to know all of the answers and solutions to alleged Bible contradictions but can't even write coherent English or spell relatively simple words. I am also glad to see that he recognizes that there is a real inconsistency in the Bible if a writer (Hosea) faulted Jehu for just carrying out a command of Yahweh, which another writer praised him for doing. Mr. Jayawardena's "solution" to the alleged discrepancy follows below, where for convenience I will be referring to him as LJ.

    LJ:
    It will be shown that the message delivered to Jehu by a prophet was most definitely not a command but simply a statement of the will of God concerning certain future events comparable to the prophecy given by the prophet Elisha to the Syrian king Hazael in the previous chapter (8:10-12).

    Till:
    So, in a nutshell, here is LJ's solution to the problem. Jehu was not commanded to massacre the house of Ahab. The "son of the prophet" who anointed Jehu to be king over Israel had merely prophesied that Jehu would commit this massacre.

    LJ:

  • 2. What is the actual nature of the prophecy given to Jehu in 2 Kg.10:30? Is it, as it might first appear, a prophecy simply commending and rewarding Jehu for the destruction of the house of Ahab, or, as I understand it, actually a prophecy postponing the judgement to which Jehu was liable in "recognition" of the "redeeming feature" of his otherwise barbaric deeds in being the executor of the judgement of God upon the house of Ahab? It will be shown that Ex. 20:3-5 is the key that unlocks 2 Kg.10:30.
  • I hope to expand on the above in a series of exchanges with FT in the debate that starts today, beginning with the point numbered (1) above.

    Till:
    Exodus 20:3-5, of course, is the passage where Yahweh said that he will "visit" the sins of the fathers upon the third and fourth generation. As we will see, this passage is not the quick-fix solution to the problem of Hosea's denunciation of Jehu that LJ apparently thinks it is.

    LJ:
    Is 2 Kg. 9:6-10 a command or simply a prophecy of future events?

    According to the account of 2 Kg., the prophet Elisha sends "one of the sons of the prophets" to deliver the following prophecy to Jehu, a captain of the army of Israel:

    Till:
    Before we look at the alleged "prophecy," I will remind everyone that LJ is just claiming that this was a prophecy rather than a command. To have a case, he must prove that this was merely a prophetic statement, and I predict that he will have major problems doing that.

    LJ:

    And he [Jehu] riseth and cometh in to the house, and he [prophet] poureth the oil on his head, and saith to him, `Thus said Jehovah, God of Israel, I have anointed thee for king unto the people of Jehovah, unto Israel, and thou hast smitten the house of Ahab thy lord, and I have required the blood of My servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of Jehovah, from the hand of Jezebel; and perished hath all the house of Ahab, and I have cut off to Ahab those sitting on the wall, and restrained, and left, in Israel, and I have given up the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat, and as the house of Baasha son of Ahijah, and Jezebel do the dogs eat in the portion of Jezreel, and there is none burying;' and he openeth the door and fleeth (2 Kg. 9:6-10, Young's literal translation.)

    Now let us look closely at the language of the prophecy delivered to Jehu. The reader will note in the literal translation above that the verbs "I have anointed thee," "thou hast smitten," "I have required," etc. are all in the past tense, which is used here to affirm the certainty of these events happening in the future. Compare Gen. 17:5: "...for a father of many nations have I made thee," the fulfilment of which even in type (in a literal sense) took many centuries. "And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon; the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him" (Jeremiah 27:6). The anointing of Jehu which preceded the pronouncement of the prophecy was a symbolic act to indicate God's intention. The Lord instructed Elijah to "anoint Hazael king over Aram" (1 Kg. 19:15). The persian king Cyrus, a pagan, is called the Lord's "anointed" (Is.45:1), even though he did [not] know the Lord (vs.4)!

    Till:
    LJ didn't need to comment on the use of the past tense in Hebrew to express futurity. This is commonly known by those who have studied Hebrew or even just engaged in Old Testament research. As we will soon see, however, the fact that the past tense was used does not within itself prove that the "son of the prophet," who spoke these words, was merely prophesying that Jehu would massacre the house of Ahab. The same verb structure in Hebrew was also used in situations where obvious commands were given.

    Before I cite such examples, let's look at LJ's "parallels," which in my opinion he has greatly stretched to make them parallels. Later, I will be introducing my own parallels to show that futurity (past tense in Hebrew) was used in the giving of clear commands.

    LJ:
    The prophecy of judgement delivered to Jehu parallels the prophecy given to the Syrian king Hazael by Elisha in 2 Kg.8:12-13: "...I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel: their strong holds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt thou dash their children, and rip up their women with child.... The Lord hath showed me that thou shalt be king over Syria."

    Till:
    This is hardly a parallel to the statement made to Jehu, who received a visit from a "son of the prophets" and was anointed to be king over Israel: "Thus says Yahweh the God of Israel: I anoint you king over the people of Yahweh, over Israel" (2 Kings 9:6). In the same breath, this "son of the prophets" then said (immediately), "You shall strike down the house of your master Ahab, so that I may avenge on Jezebel the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of Yahweh." One has to stretch imagination to the limits to make this statement a prophecy rather than a command that was delivered on the heels of the anointing ceremony.

    When Jehu's anointment is compared to the example that LJ cited, we see that there really is no comparison. The context shows that the example of Hazael was just a case of the prophet Elisha coming to the future king and making a clear prophetic statement without in any way even implying that the actions prophesied were what Yahweh wanted Hazael to do.

    2 Kings 8:7 Elisha went to Damascus while King Ben-hadad of Aram was ill. When it was told him, "The man of God has come here," 8 the king said to Hazael, "Take a present with you and go to meet the man of God. Inquire of Yahweh through him, whether I shall recover from this illness." 9 So Hazael went to meet him, taking a present with him, all kinds of goods of Damascus, forty camel loads. When he entered and stood before him, he said, "Your son King Ben-hadad of Aram has sent me to you, saying, 'Shall I recover from this illness?'" 10 Elisha said to him, "Go, say to him, 'You shall certainly recover'; but Yahweh has shown me that he shall certainly die." 11 He fixed his gaze and stared at him, until he was ashamed. Then the man of God wept. 12 Hazael asked, "Why does my lord weep?" He answered, "Because I know the evil that you will do to the people of Israel; you will set their fortresses on fire, you will kill their young men with the sword, dash in pieces their little ones, and rip up their pregnant women." 13 Hazael said, "What is your servant, who is a mere dog, that he should do this great thing?" Elisha answered, "Yahweh has shown me that you are to be king over Aram." 14 Then he left Elisha, and went to his master Ben-hadad, who said to him, "What did Elisha say to you?" And he answered, "He told me that you would certainly recover."

    In this case, there was no anointing of Hazael in the name of Yahweh. Elisha simply made a prophetic statement: Hazael would become king of Aram (Syria) and would commit the atrocities specified. Let's suppose, however, that the text read like my revision below.

    Elisha poured oil on Hazael's head and said, "Thus says Yahweh the God of Israel: I anoint you king over Syria. You shall do evil to the people of Israel; you shall set their fortresses on fire, you shall kill their young men with the sword, dash in pieces their little ones, and rip up their pregnant women. For the whole house of Israel shall perish; I will cut off from Israel every male, bond or free. I will remove Israel out of my sight and cast off this people whom I have chosen."

    If such a scene as this had occurred, would LJ think for one moment that the prophet Elisha was just making a prophecy, or would he understand that as this account was reported, the writer understood that Elisha was an emissary of God sent to anoint Hazael king over Syria (Aram) and to give him specific instructions on what Yahweh's will was in choosing him to be his emissary in eliminating Israel?

    LJ cannot say that Yahweh would never have issued such a command as this against his own people Israel, because the Bible specifically states that Israel's destruction by Assyria had been the work of none other than Yahweh himself. The statement below was made to explain why Yahweh would not forgive Judah after the reforms instituted by king Josiah.

    2 Kings 23:27 Yahweh said, "I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel; and I will reject this city that I have chosen, Jerusalem, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there."

    To have a real "parallel" to what the "son of the prophets" said upon his anointing Jehu to be king over Israel, LJ will have to find a situation like the one that I presented in my hypothetical revision of Elisha's visit to Hazael.

    LJ:
    Thereafter Hazael proceeded to fulfil this prophecy. He assasinated the bedridden king and usurped the throne. He also warred against Israel as predicted as reported in 1 Kg. 9:14-16; 10:32; 12:17-18.

    Till:
    LJ still has no parallel to Jehu's massacre, because the story of Hazael was written as an example of a prophet visiting a future king of Syria and prophesying that he would commit certain atrocities so terrible that the thought of them had caused Elisha to cry (according to the story). I parenthetically added "according to the story," because if anything like Hazael's atrocities actually happened, it is far more likely that Elisha's prophecy was written after the fact than that he had actually looked into the future and seen these acts. At any rate, I have shown above that the case of Hazael is not at all parallel to Jehu's, because the account of Hazael gives no indication that Yahweh had selected Hazael to be king and then anointed him to commit the acts that followed. Elisha had merely prophesied that they would happen, and the Bible being the Bible, we find nothing spectacular in the claim that a prophet visited a man, predicted that certain events would happen, and then the events happened. Where in the text can LJ find any indication that Yahweh wanted Hazael to commit the atrocities prophesied by Elisha?

    LJ:
    Now clearly Hazael didn't murder his master and proceed to war against Israel because he thought he received a command from the God of Israel.

    Till:
    I agree. There is nothing in this story (if it happened as recorded) that would have given Hazael any reason to think that a god had selected him to be king and had commanded him to commit certain atrocities. As I have shown above, however, that was not the case with Jehu. He had ever reason to think that Yahweh had given him a mandate to carry out.

    LJ:
    Neither did Jehu. He certainly was conscious that he was fulfilling Elisha's prophecy as he destroyed the house of Ahab, just as Hazael must have been conscious that he was fulfilling the prophecy given to him by the same prophet as the events predicted unfolded.


    Till:
    The difference, however, is that Elisha did not tell Hazael that Yahweh had anointed him king and then in the same breath tell him that he would do this and that. The fact that the orders to eradicate the house of Ahab were given in the Hebrew equivalent of the future tense does not change these orders to mere prophecies that Jehu would commit acts so offensive to Yahweh that he would later punish Jehu's descendants. Such a view is absurd, because it depicts Yahweh as having chosen a king who he knew would commit atrocities that Yahweh would disapprove of. Why would an omniscient god have done that? I'll say more about this later.

    LJ:
    Jehu was 10 that he was fulfilling an earlier prophecy given by the prophet Elijah (read 9:25-26, 36-37; 10:10).

    Till:
    Let's look at these verses.

    2 Kings 9:25 Jehu said to his aide Bidkar, "Lift him out, and throw him on the plot of ground belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite; for remember, when you and I rode side by side behind his father Ahab how Yahweh uttered this oracle against him: 26 'For the blood of Naboth and for the blood of his children that I saw yesterday, says Yahweh, I swear I will repay you on this very plot of ground.' Now therefore lift him out and throw him on the plot of ground, in accordance with the word of Yahweh."

    2 Kings 9:36 When they came back and told him, he said, "This is the word of Yahweh, which he spoke by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, 'In the territory of Jezreel the dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel; 37 the corpse of Jezebel shall be like dung on the field in the territory of Jezreel, so that no one can say, This is Jezebel.'"

    2 Kings 10:10 Know then that there shall fall to the earth nothing of the word of Yahweh, which Yahweh spoke concerning the house of Ahab; for Yahweh has done what he said through his servant Elijah."

    LJ is here engaging in question begging that we find to be so typical of those who undertake to defend biblical inerrancy, because he assumes the accuracy of the biblical account. It would be more accurate to say that as this story was written, Jehu was aware that he was fulfilling prophecy. Whether these events actually happened, however, is another matter entirely, or if they did happen, whether they happened as recorded is also another matter. Nevertheless, this story was obviously written to convey that Jehu thought he was fulfilling prophecy, but that is certainly no help to LJ's solution to this discrepancy. There are two problems with what LJ is claiming here. First, as the story is told, Jehu had a natural reason for thinking that prophecy was fulfilled in the killing of Jezebel, because he said, in the passage quoted above, that he and his captain (Bidkar) had been present when Yahweh had "uttered an oracle" that Ahab would be repaid on the very plot of ground where Naboth had been murdered. How Jehu and Bidkar had been present when Yahweh "uttered [this] oracle" is not explained, but such "utterances" from Yahweh were common in those days, and I don't doubt that LJ thinks that in some way such an oracle had been uttered and that Jehu and Bidkar had somehow heard it.

    Let's suppose for the sake of argument that Jehu and Bidkar had in some way been present when such an oracle had been uttered. If so, this would have been a case of contrived fulfillment, because Jehu deliberately caused the fulfillment of the prophecy by knowing what the prophecy had said and then giving orders to bring about the fulfillment. He had heard the oracle, he lived in superstitious times when people put a lot of stock in oracles, and so when Joram (Ahab's son) was killed, Jehu gave orders to cast Joram's body into the same field where Naboth had been murdered. If that were the case, then a prophecy was "fulfilled" but only in the sense that Jehu deliberately caused it to be fulfilled.

    The second problem with the importance that LJ is attaching to the claim that Jehu knew he was fulfilling prophecy is that, if the story happened anywhere close to the way the writer recorded it, there is no reason why Jehu would not have thought that he was fulfilling prophecy. As noted above, Jehu claimed that he was on the scene when Yahweh had uttered oracles {prophecies) of the fate of Ahab's house. From the experience of having been present when a prophecy was uttered, he would therefore have been aware that such prophecies had been made. In addition to that, the "son of the prophet" who anointed Jehu king had informed Jehu that he would be the instrument Yahweh would use to bring about the fulfillment of this prophecy. The original prophecy was made in 1 Kings 21:17-23.

    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, and also taken possession?" 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."

    LJ is absolutely right in saying that the massacre of Ahab's house had been prophesied, but his confusion results from not understanding that the anointing ceremony made clear that Jehu had been selected by Yahweh as the instrument to carry out Yahweh's desire to have the house of Ahab experience the fate that Elijah had predicted in the passage above. In that sense, Jehu had received a command from Yahweh to bring about all that Elijah had prophesied against Ahab.

    Elisha (Elijah's successor), whom the writer would certainly have considered a spokesman for Yahweh, made it clear to the person who was sent to Jehu that this was a divine mission to anoint a king whom Yahweh had selected.

    2 Kings 9:1 Then the prophet Elisha called a member of the company of prophets and said to him, "Gird up your loins; take this flask of oil in your hand, and go to Ramoth-gilead. 2 When you arrive, look there for Jehu son of Jehoshaphat, son of Nimshi; go in and get him to leave his companions, and take him into an inner chamber. 3 Then take the flask of oil, pour it on his head, and say, 'Thus says Yahweh: I anoint you king over Israel.' Then open the door and flee; do not linger." 4 So the young man, the young prophet, went to Ramoth-gilead. 5 He arrived while the commanders of the army were in council, and he announced, "I have a message for you, commander." "For which one of us?" asked Jehu. "For you, commander." 6 So Jehu got up and went inside; the young man poured the oil on his head, saying to him, "Thus says Yahweh the God of Israel: I anoint you king over the people of Yahweh, over Israel.

    As I have noted, the prophet then immediately spoke to Jehu what he was to do as the newly anointed king.

    2 Kings 9:7 You shall strike down the house of your master Ahab, so that I may avenge on Jezebel the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of Yahweh. 8 For the whole house of Ahab shall perish; I will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel. 9 I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah. 10 The dogs shall eat Jezebel in the territory of Jezreel, and no one shall bury her." Then he opened the door and fled.

    What the prophet said here repeated most of the things that Elijah had said in his prophecy to Ahab, but the way that they were put into the context of the anointment of a king ostensibly selected by Yahweh must be seen as evidence that the prophet anointing Jehu was telling him that he was to carry out the provisions of Elijah's prophecy against Ahab. To argue otherwise is to say that Yahweh selected a man to be king who immediately went and committed atrocities that Yahweh didn't approve of. If that were the case, then why did Yahweh choose such a king?

    That's a problem that LJ will have to explain.

    LJ:
    Doubtless Hazael, too, would have told someone in Syria as the prophecy given to him came to pass something to the following effect: "By the way, when I was in Israel to consult a seer named Elisha (at such and such a time) concerning (such and such a matter), he prophesied that just what you see happening/saw happen would come to pass"!

    Till:
    Let's suppose that Hazael did say this to someone. LJ needs to give consideration of the superstitious times in which these events allegedly occurred. If a man thought to be a prophet of a mighty god had indeed said to Hazael that he would commit such acts, he would superstitiously have thought that this was his mission in life and would have deliberately acted to bring about the fulfillment. That, however, does nothing to make the case of Hazael parallel to Jehu's. In the former, there was no anointing of Hazael, no claim that he had been divinely chosen to become king, but that was not true with Jehu. A prominent prophet in Israel sent another prophet to anoint Jehu and tell him that he had been selected by Yahweh to be king over Israel. In the anointing ceremony, the prophet told Jehu that he would massacre the house of Ahab. Why would this not be perceived as a command? Why should we not perceive it as a command?

    I will show later that there are biblical examples of explicit commands (which cannot be perceived as anything but commands) that were delivered in language parallel to what LJ is trying to make into just a prophecy but not a divine command, but to keep the posts relatively short, I will look at these examples in a follow-up reply.

    The Follow-Up: Leonard Jayawardena's solution to the Jehu problem is that Yahweh did not command Jehu to massacre the royal family of Israel but merely sent a prophet to him who prophesied that he would commit the massacre. LJ's delineation of his argument was presented and replied to in Part 1 in which I showed that the example of Hazael that he called "parallel" to 2 Kings 9:6ff was not actually a parallel, because it lacked the all-important element of a statement from the prophet Elisha that Yahweh had selected Hazael to be anointed king over Syria for the purpose of doing the atrocities that Elisha predicted Hazael would commit against Israel. That element, however, is very obviously in 2 Kings 9:6ff, where the "son of the prophets" sent by Elisha poured oil on Jehu, declared him to be Yahweh's anointed king over Israel, and specifically stated that he was to obliterate the house of Ahab.

    Because of the length of my reply, I stopped before completing my discussion of other examples that LJ presented as parallels to Jehu's selection. I'll now answer those and then give my own parallels, which will be clearly stated commands that were expressed in the Hebrew past tense, the same tense that was often used in prophetic statements. These examples will show that the Hebrew past tense did convey prophetic meaning but not necessarily. The same linguistic structure was used to present obvious commands.

    LJ:
    The prophet Ahijah the Shilonite conveyed a prophecy to Jeroboam the son of Nebat that he would one day be king of Israel (1 Kg. 11:29ff).

    Till:
    I won't bother to quote the entire context of the prophet Ahijah's statement to Jeroboam, because it isn't necessary. I'm not at all in agreement with LJ's belief that this example was a "parallel" to Jehu's selection to be king of Israel. To me, the account conveys the writer's belief that Yahweh had selected Jeroboam to be king over the northern part of the kingdom, which was about to split at the end of Solomon's reign. It's rather clear that the writer thought that Ahijah had been sent to tell Jeroboam he had been chosen by Yahweh to reign over the 10 tribes of the north when the split became final, and in making that announcement Ahijah said nothing that could be construed as instructions or commands except that retention of the northern kingdom would be conditioned on Jeroboam's obedience to Yahweh's commands. After telling Jeroboam that 10 tribes would be separated to form another kingdom but that the other tribe would rule over Jerusalem in order to keep Yahweh's promise to David, Ahijah stated the conditions that Jeroboam would be expected to comply with.

    1 Kings 11:34 Nevertheless I will not take the whole kingdom away from him but will make him ruler all the days of his life, for the sake of my servant David whom I chose and who did keep my commandments and my statutes; 35 but I will take the kingdom away from his son and give it to you--that is, the ten tribes. 36 Yet to his son I will give one tribe, so that my servant David may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I have chosen to put my name. 37 I will take you, and you shall reign over all that your soul desires; you shall be king over Israel. 38 If you will listen to all that I command you, walk in my ways, and do what is right in my sight by keeping my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did, I will be with you, and will build you an enduring house, as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you. 39 For this reason I will punish the descendants of David, but not forever."

    How LJ can see this as a parallel to what the "son of the prophet" said to Jehu when anointing him to be king of Israel is a mystery to me. Ahijah made no "prophecies" of what Jeroboam would do after being given the northern kingdom. He merely stated that keeping the kingdom was contingent on keeping Yahweh's commandments. There is no way that Jeroboam could have left this scene (which probably never happened) thinking, "Well, I have to do this and that, because Ahijah said that I should (would) do these things." The only thing Jeroboam could have thought he had to do was be obedient to Yahweh's command after the division of the kingdom had become a reality.

    LJ:
    In none of these cases did the prophets either sanction or command the recipients of the prophecies to execute them.

    Till:
    I agree, because the statements of Elisha and Ahijah contained nothing to leave the impression that Yahweh was issuing commands that needed to carried out. What, for example, was in Ahijah's statements to Jeroboam that could possibly have left with him the impression that there were divine commands that he should execute? Ahijah had simply said that Jeroboam would become king over the 10 tribes of the north and that he could retain this kingdom by keeping Yahweh's commands. Hazael had seen a prophet moved to tears because of scenes of atrocities against Israel that Elisha had allegedly seen in the future. Why would Hazael have thought that there were divine commands in this that he had to execute?

    The case was entirely different with Jehu. He was anointed king of Israel by a "son of the prophets," who then made statements that clearly left expectations of divine punishments against the house of Ahab that he was expected to carry out. The fact that Jehu acted immediately to leave Ramoth-gilead (where the anointing ceremony occurred) and go to Jezreel to massacre the royal family has to be seen as evidence that, as this story was written, Jehu understood that he had received a mandate from Yahweh.

    LJ:
    They were simply prophetically describing future events, and at least in the cases of Hazael and Jehu, they were fully aware that the prophecies would be acted upon, and there may have been even an "invitation" to do so but no divine command.

    Till:
    I have already said enough to show that there was no parallel at all in the anointing of Jehu and the examples of Hazael and Jeroboam that LJ has cited, and in a moment, I will be showing examples of clear commands that were expressed in the Hebrew past tense on which LJ has based his case that the prophet who anointed Jehu had merely prophesied what Jehu would do.

    LJ:
    On the other hand, God commanded king Saul through the prophet Samuel, "go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not..."(1 Sam.15:3). Note that the verbs "go," "smite," etc. are in the imperative. The Amalekites were national enemies of Israel and they harassed Israel when they came out of Egypt. Later, we are told that God was displeased with Saul for not obeying his command properly.

    Till:
    Yes, the command to Saul was structured linguistically differently from the one that was issued to Jehu, but LJ has an unusually good command of English, so he should be linguistically gifted enough to know that orders and commands can be structured in different grammatical ways.

    Let's imagine that a person hires a hit man to assassinate someone named John Doe. The order to kill Doe could be stated in different ways.

    • 1. Here is $10,000. Go kill John Doe.
    • 2. Here is $10,000. I want you to kill John Doe.
    • 3.Here is $10,000. You will kill John Doe.

    If the hit man were wearing a wire in scenario # 2, I doubt that the person who had hired him would be able to convince a jury that he didn't order the killing of John Doe but had merely expressed the desire that Doe be killed. Neither do I think that the one hiring the hit man would have any success in scenario # 3 convincing a jury that he was merely predicting that the hit man would kill Doe. All three statements are structured differently, but they would all be understood as commands or orders.

    LJ:
    Let us now look at the purpose clause of 2 Kg. 9:7 ("that I may avenge the blood of My servants the prophets...at the hand of Jezebel"). We have seen that this verse is not a command to Jehu but a simple statement of the will of God for the future. Therefore the purpose clause states God's purpose for the predicted event. Compare John 19:24: "They [the soldiers who crucified Christ] said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose shall it be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did." The Greek conjunction introducing the purpose clause above is hina (in order that), which normally introduces a clause stating the purpose of the performer of the action described in the verb. Compare also 2 Kg. 22:17 ("Because they have forsaken Me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger..."); Jer.25:7 ("Yet ye have not hearkened unto Me, saith the Lord; that ye might provoke Me to anger...").

    Till:
    If LJ has a point here, I fail to see it. Certainly, the word "that" (in English versions) in the statement to Jehu expresses the reasons for the order to "strike down the house of Ahab." This order was given to Jehu SO that (or in order that) Yahweh could avenge the blood of the prophets. What does that do to help LJ's case? Is he arguing that if someone who gives a command to commit an atrocity or a murder or some such gives a reason for issuing the command it ceases to be a command and becomes a "prophecy." I'm sorry, but I just don't see it.

    Let's go back to the example of the hit man, and this time we will suppose that the one hiring the assassin had a brother who was killed by John Doe. In that case, the commands given above could have been stated like this...

    • 1. Here is $10,000. Go kill John Doe in order to avenge my brother's death.
    • 2. Here is $10,000. I want you to kill John Doe in order to avenge my brother's death.
    • 3. Here is $10,000. You will kill John Doe in order to avenge my brother's death.

    These still remain orders to kill even though the purpose of the orders had been included. Surely, LJ can see that.

    At this point, I have to wonder why LJ did not quote from Young's Literal Translation as he did when he first introduced the statement the "son of the prophet" made to Jehu. Had he done that, he would have seen that there was no "that" (which he calls a "purpose clause") in the Hebrew text. Here again is how Young rendered the passage.

    And he [Jehu] riseth and cometh in to the house, and he [prophet] poureth the oil on his head, and saith to him, `Thus said Jehovah, God of Israel, I have anointed thee for king unto the people of Jehovah, unto Israel, and thou hast smitten the house of Ahab thy lord, and I have required the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of Jehovah, from the hand of Jezebel; and perished hath all the house of Ahab, and I have cut off to Ahab those sitting on the wall, and restrained, and left, in Israel, and I have given up the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat, and as the house of Baasha son of Ahijah, and Jezebel do the dogs eat in the portion of Jezreel, and there is none burying;' and he openeth the door and fleeth (2 Kg. 9:6-10, Young's Literal Translation).

    I have emphasized in uppercase letters LJ's "that clause" to show that in Hebrew there was no that. The conjunction and was used. Idiomatically, the meaning was the same. The prophet was just saying to Jehu that he should smite the house of Ahab, and in so doing Yahweh would be "requiring" the blood of the prophets whom Ahab had killed. In English, we would say, "You will smite the house of Ahab that I may avenge the blood of the prophets," and it is so translated in most English versions. Literally, however, the text was saying, "(T)hou hast smitten the house of Ahab thy lord, and I have required the blood of my servants the prophets." There is no that, which LJ made such an issue over.

    If he had checked the Hebrew text, he would have found that this same grammatical structure was often used in Hebrew to give the reason for a previously issued command. Here are just a few examples.

    Exodus 28:35 Aaron shall wear it [a golden bell] when he ministers, and its sound shall be heard when he goes into the holy place before Yahweh, and when he comes out, so that he may not die.

    The parallel to LJ's imaginary "that clause" in 2 Kings 9:7 can be seen by juxtaposing Young's version of this verse.

    And it hath been on Aaron to minister in, and its sound hath been heard in his coming into the sanctuary before Jehovah, and his going out, and he doth not die.

    I had a dual purpose in quoting Young's version of this verse. First, I wanted to show that "in order that" was idiomatically expressed in Hebrew by using the conjunction "and." Clearly, this verse contained a divine command that was incumbent on Aaron. He had to wear the golden bell or else violate a commandment given by Yahweh. The commandment was structured to include a purpose statement. Aaron was ordered to wear the bell so that he would not die, but the inclusion of the purpose statement did not keep the commandment from being a commandment. Second, I wanted readers to see that in English this is a "shall" statement, which is obviously a divine command: "Aaron shall wear it [a golden bell] when he ministers, and its sound shall be heard." What LJ is calling the prophetic past tense in Hebrew was used in this verse, so by the logic that LJ has applied to what the "son of the prophet" said to Jehu, this was not a command for Aaron to wear the golden bell but only a prophecy that he would. I'll have more to say about this structure later as we look at other obvious commands in Hebrew that used the past tense (prophetic future), but first let's look at other commands that included what LJ calls a "purpose clause."

    Exodus 30:17 Yahweh spoke to Moses: 18 You shall make make a bronze basin with a bronze stand for washing. You shall put put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it; 19 with the water Aaron and his sons shall wash wash their hands and their feet. 20 When they go into the tent of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to make an offering by fire to Yahweh, they shall wash with water, so that they may not die. 21 They shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they may not die: it shall be a perpetual ordinance for them, for him and for his descendants throughout their generations.

    Notice again that we have in this passage a series of "shall" statements that are obviously commands. All doubt that they were commands is removed by the last verse, which says that this "shall be a perpetual ordinance for them [the Aaronic priests]... throughout their generations." An ordinance is a command. It also included a "purpose clause," which stated the reason for the ordinance (so that they may not die), but the inclusion of the "purpose clause" did not keep this from being a command.

    If we look at this passage in Young's Literal Translation, we will see that LJ's "prophetic past tense" was used, along with the conjunction and, which idiomatically introduced what LJ calls a "purpose clause."

    And Jehovah speaketh unto Moses, saying, 'And Thou hast made a laver of brass (and its base of brass), for washing; and thou hast put between the tent of meeting and the altar, and hast put water there; and Aaron and his sons have washed at it their hands and their feet, in their going in unto the tent of meeting they wash with water, and die not; or in their drawing nigh unto the altar to minister, to perfume a fire-offering to Jehovah, then they have washed their hands and their feet, and they die not, and it hath been to them a statute age-during, to him and to his seed to their generations.

    Notice the past tense of the verbs that are "shall" or future statements in the English translation. LJ has talked about "parallels," and here we have a true parallel to the statement the "son of the prophet" made to Jehu. The past tense was used to denote that which was clearly a command. The statement above was not a matter of choice for Aaron and the priests. It was a command that they had to obey so that they would not die. The inclusion of a "purpose clause," introduced idiomatically with and in Hebrew, did not keep this from being a command, and neither did the use of the past tense (which LJ argues was a prophetic tense) keep it from being a command. By LJ's logic, however, this was not a command that the priests had to obey; it was just a prophecy that they would go through these washing ceremonies. The warning that they had to do this so that they would not die leaves no doubt that this was a command and not a prophecy.

    I would unnecessarily bore readers if I should undertake to quote other examples of where clearly stated commands used the "and" purpose clause, but readers can check for themselves and find "that they die not" clauses attached to clear commands in Leviticus 8:35, Numbers 4:15, and Numbers 18:3. These are just a few of many examples that could be quoted, and in each case, the "purpose clause" was introduced with and in the Hebrew text. We can conclude, then, that there is no merit at all to LJ's argument that the inclusion of a "purpose clause" ("that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets") in what the "son of the prophet" said to Jehu is proof that this was not a command but just a prophecy.

    Now, finally, here are some examples of other passages where the Hebrew past tense (which on occasions was used in a prophetic sense) was used in the issuance of clear commands.

    In 1 Kings 1:32-35, David gave a death-bed command to anoint his son Solomon as king over Israel.

    32 King David said, "Summon to me the priest Zadok, the prophet Nathan, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada." When they came before the king, 33 the king said to them, "Take with you the servants of your lord, and have my son Solomon ride on my own mule, and bring him down to Gihon. 34 There let the priest Zadok and the prophet Nathan anoint him king over Israel; then blow the trumpet, and say, 'Long live King Solomon!' 35 You shall go up following him. Let him enter and sit on my throne; he shall be king in my place; for I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and over Judah."

    Young's Literal Translation shows that the English "shall" statements were in the Hebrew past tense.

    And the king said to them, 'Take with you the servants of your lord and ye have caused Solomon my son to ride on mine own mule, and caused him to go down into Gihon and anointed him there hath Zadok the priest--and Nathan the prophet--for king over Israel, and ye have blown with a trumpet and said, Let King Solomon live; and ye have come up after him, and he hath come in and hath sat on my throne, and he doth reign in my stead, and him I have appointed to be leader over Israel, and over Judah.

    Obviously, David was giving a command for Solomon to be crowned king and even specifying the manner in which it was to be done, but this command was issued in the Hebrew past tense that LJ claims was prophetic in nature. According to his logic, David was not giving a command to crown Solomon king but was merely prophesying that Solomon would be made king.

    Again, there are just too many examples to cite, without resorting to overkill and boredom, where the Hebrew past tense was used in the issuance of clear commands, so I will finish by giving only the English translation of some of them. Where I put the English future tense in bold print, you will find the past tense in Hebrew, a fact that can be easily confirmed by consulting Young's Literal Translation.

    Joshua 6:2 Yahweh said to Joshua, "See, I have handed Jericho over to you, along with its king and soldiers. 3 You shall march around the city, all the warriors circling the city once. Thus you shall do for six days, 4 with seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, the priests blowing the trumpets. 5 When they make a long blast with the ram's horn, as soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and all the people shall charge straight ahead."

    According to LJ's logic, Yahweh was not telling Joshua what he and the Israelites were to do but was simply prophesying that they would march around Jericho, they would blow on the trumpets, and the walls would fall down. Such an interpretation, however, would be absurd, because obviously this text was written to convey that Yahweh had issued specific commands that the Israelites were to carry out in order to take Jericho.

    According to the story, the Israelites began to encompass Jericho as Yahweh had ordered them, at which time Joshua issued a clear command to the people that he conveyed in the Hebrew past tense.

    Joshua 6:10 To the people Joshua gave this command: "You shall not shout or let your voice be heard, nor shall you utter a word, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout."

    Obviously, this was a command to the people that they were not to shout until they were told to and not just a prophecy that they would not shout. Passages such as these in the Old Testament show that the Hebrew past tense was often used to convey commands. In the very next chapter of Joshua, there is another example, which tells of Joshua's anguish when Israel lost the first battle to take Ai because Achan had taken some of the booty in the battle of Jericho and hidden it in his tent.

    Joshua 7:10 Yahweh said to Joshua, "Stand up! Why have you fallen upon your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I imposed on them. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have acted deceitfully, and they have put them among their own belongings. 12 Therefore the Israelites are unable to stand before their enemies; they turn their backs to their enemies, because they have become a thing devoted for destruction themselves. I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you. 13 Proceed to sanctify the people, and say, 'Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow; for thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel, "There are devoted things among you, O Israel; you will be unable to stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted things from among you." 14 In the morning therefore you shall come forward tribe by tribe. The tribe that Yahweh takes shall come near by clans, the clan that Yahweh takes shall come near by households, and the household that Yahweh takes shall come near one by one. 15 And the one who is taken as having the devoted things shall be burned with fire, together with all that he has, for having transgressed the covenant of Yahweh, and for having done an outrageous thing in Israel.'"

    As this story was written, Yahweh was, of course, issuing a command to burn with fire whoever was found guilty of stealing devoted things. He was not just prophesying that the guilty party would be burned with fire.

    After Achan was found guilty of stealing the devoted things and his family and livestock in typical Yahwistic fashion were stoned to death and burned, another assault on Ai was made, at which time Yahweh gave the following instructions to Joshua.

    Joshua 8:1 Then Yahweh said to Joshua, "Do not fear or be dismayed; take all the fighting men with you, and go up now to Ai. See, I have handed over to you the king of Ai with his people, his city, and his land. 2 You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king; only its spoil and its livestock you may take as booty for yourselves. Set an ambush against the city, behind it."

    The English future tense (shall do) in verse 2 was literally "hast done" (Young), or in other words, it was the Hebrew past tense, on which LJ has based his argument that the prophet's statement to Jehu was really a prophecy and not a command. Surely, LJ would not argue that in the text above Yahweh wasn't telling Joshua what to do but was just prophesying that he would attack Ai and do to it what he had done to Jericho.

    After the conversation with Yahweh (however that conversation may have occurred), Joshua conveyed the attack orders to his army.

    3 So Joshua and all the fighting men set out to go up against Ai. Joshua chose thirty thousand warriors and sent them out by night 4 with the command, "You shall lie in ambush against the city, behind it; do not go very far from the city, but all of you stay alert. 5 I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. When they come out against us, as before, we shall flee from them. 6 They will come out after us until we have drawn them away from the city; for they will say, 'They are fleeing from us, as before.' While we flee from them, 7 you shall rise up from the ambush and seize the city; for Yahweh your God will give it into your hand. 8 And when you have taken the city, you SHALL SET the city on fire, doing as has ordered; see, I have commanded you."

    Obviously, Joshua was not prophesying here that his army would do all these things; he was issuing orders to destroy the city in the manner he described.

    During the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, king Zedekiah had Jeremiah brought to him secretly in order to secure his prophetic opinion on the outcome of the siege. After the two had conversed, Zedekiah issued a clear command to Jeremiah, which he expressed in the Hebrew past tense.

    Jeremiah 38:24 Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, "Do not let anyone else know of this conversation, or you will die. 25 If the officials should hear that I have spoken with you, and they should come and say to you, 'Just tell us what you said to the king; do not conceal it from us, or we will put you to death. What did the king say to you?' 26 then you shall say to them, 'I was presenting my plea to the king not to send me back to the house of Jonathan to die there.'" 27 All the officials did come to Jeremiah and questioned him; and he answered them in the very words the king had commanded. So they stopped questioning him, for the conversation had not been overheard.

    Zedekiah was obviously ordering Jeremiah to lie if the officials asked him what was discussed at his meeting with the king. Zedekiah was not just prophesying that Jeremiah would lie to them.

    There is no need for me to continue with more examples of commands that were issued in the Hebrew past tense, because I would have to write a book. The ones I have cited are sufficient to show that LJ's premise is flawed. The mere fact that a statement directed to another person was stated in the Hebrew past tense did not make it a prophecy. Commands were often structured in the Hebrew past undoubtedly to convey the certainty that this was a command that had to be carried out. The context of 2 Kings 9:6ff is sufficiently clear to show that the prophet sent to Jehu was telling him that Yahweh expected Jehu to destroy the house of Ahab. LJ's "solution" to the inconsistency in 2 Kings 10:30 and Hosea 1:4 has therefore failed, because he cannot claim a solution until he has proven beyond reasonable doubt that the "son of the prophet" had merely made a prophetic statement to Jehu. The textual evidence just won't support that speculation.

    In a follow-up posting, I will discuss reasons why LJ's claim of prophecy in 2 Kings 9:6ff is too unreasonable to accept as a satisfactory solution to this problem.

    An Interim Reply from Jaywardena

    LJ:
    I have read your replies to my opening argument of the debate, and append below an interim reply to your postings. I will send my full return-reply after what you referred to as a "follow-up posting." On the other hand, if by the time you receive this you have already posted the follow-up, I will incorporate the interim reply in my full return-reply.


    The Interim Reply to FT's Reply to My Opening Argument: First of all, I wish to make corrections to the following errors in my opening argument, which, I hasten to add, do not in any way damage the first part of my solution to the alleged contradiction under debate, i. e., 2 Kg. 9:6-10 is only a prophecy, not a command, and I still stand by that and will say more on that next time.

    After quoting Young's literal translation of 2 Kg. 9:6-10, I wrote, "The reader will note in the literal translation above that the verbs 'I have anointed thee,' 'thou hast smitten,' 'I have required,' etc. are all in the past tense, which is used here to affirm the certainty of these events happening in the future."

    What I meant was that the Hebrew verbs underlying these verb phrases (which in the literal translation I quoted are in the perfect tense) were in the past tense, which is not correct because, actually, Hebrew has no such thing as a "past tense" (an error shared by FT).

    Till:
    This wasn't so much a "shared" mistake on my part as a matter of convenience. As Young himself noted in his discussion of Hebrew tenses in the introduction to his literal translation, "The Hebrew has only two tenses, which for want of better terms, may be called past and present." Since there are really no exact equivalents in English tenses, discretion (depending on context and modifiers) has to be used to determine English equivalency. It is therefore appropriate to say that futurity in Hebrew was often conveyed by using the "past" tense, and I had no quarrel with LJ on this point. In fact, I will probably continue to use "past," because this is a simple tense concept to understand.

    LJ:

    Unlike Greek, my knowledge of Hebrew is very basic--my studies thus far in that language not having progressed much beyond learning to read and write its script and the tricky vowels! However, I have now checked with my Hebrew grammar books and this is what I have found. The Hebrew verb, while it has no tense in the conventional sense of that word, has two "states": the Perfect and the Imperfect.

    Till:
    Yes, that is also my understanding. I can remember my Hebrew classes as an undergraduate student almost 50 years ago. The Hebrew concept of tenses was a major difficulty for students.

    LJ:
    "The Perfect describes an action which is complete or conceived to be complete, while the Imperfect expresses an action which is incomplete. Each has a wide range of meaning." "Sometimes in Hebrew future events are conceived so vividly and so realistically that they are regarded as having virtually taken place and are described by the perfect.

    Till:
    Yes. So?

    At this point I am wondering why LJ based an argument on Hebrew tenses if his knowledge of the language is no better than mine.

    LJ:
    This usage is very common in the elevated language of the prophets, whose faith and imagination so vividly project before them the event or scene which they predict that it appears already realized.

    Till:
    I strongly suspect that LJ is recycling ideas that he found in the books he consulted on Hebrew grammar. I find it very inappropriate for would-be apologists to base arguments on the original biblical languages when they don't have the expertise to speak with any authority on the subject.

    LJ:
    It is part of the purpose of God,

    Till:
    Here LJ is begging a question that he needs to prove. I won't let him just assume that when Hebrew prophets spoke they were doing so in accordance with some "purpose of God."

    LJ:
    and therefore, to the clear eyes of the prophet, already good as accomplished (prophetic perfect)." Therefore, I should have said that these verbs are in the prophetic perfect, not in the past tense.

    Till:
    But by LJ's own admission he isn't knowledgeable enough in Hebrew to speak with any authority on when the perfect "tense" in Hebrew had prophetic intentions. I have already shown several examples where the same verb constructions found in Hebrew "prophecies" were also used to convey clear commands. Thus, LJ will have to do more than just point out the use of the perfect "tense" in 2 Kings 9:6ff before he can make any kind of case for his belief that the "son of the prophets" merely uttered a prophecy here instead of issuing a command.

    LJ:
    One of the first drafts of my solution was based on a normal English translation (NASB) of 2 Kg. 9:6-10 and hence the reference to a "purpose clause," which in fact, as FT has correctly pointed out, does not occur in the Hebrew, the purpose being expressed by a clause introduced by "and": "And I have required the blood of my servants the prophets...." This, again, is a reflection of my poor knowledge of Hebrew. I consulted Young's literal translation at a later stage. It was an omission on my part not to have checked with the Young's literal translation on this point too. However, as FT has acknowledged, this clause "I have required the blood...," though technically not a purpose clause, functionally it is still that; and so even with this correction, the point that I was trying to make stands, but since it is not crucial to my argument, I will not pursue it to avoid using up unnecessary kilo bytes and boring readers. Please treat the paragraph containing this error as having been withdrawn.

    Till:

    Well, no, the point does not still stand, because my second rebuttal pointed out several examples of where the same "and" conjunction was used to state the reason why clear commands were given. I'll cut and paste some of those examples below.

    [Editorial note: Since the section that was originally cut and pasted here can be see by scrolling up to the section where the examples of hiring a hit man to kill John Doe were presented, that part is being omitted here. The section deleted here began immediately after the John Doe examples.]

    LJ:

    Finally, one other matter raised in FT's replies.

    FT wastes a lot of KBs in demolishing an argument that I nowhere advanced or a premise I do not hold! He misrepresents me in saying that I based my case for 2 Kg. 9:6-10 being a prophecy rather than a command to Jehu on the use of the Hebrew-Perfect in this passage (which we both have hitherto erroneously referred to as the Hebrew "past tense" as the readers are now aware).

    Till:
    Well, if I misrepresented LJ, I certainly apologize for it, but anyone who reads his first defense of his position can clearly see that he began his first argument by quoting 2 Kings 9:6ff from Young's Literal Translation after which he made the following comments on the "tense" used in the statement.

    Now let us look closely at the language of the prophecy delivered to Jehu. The reader will note in the literal translation above that the verbs "I have anointed thee," "thou hast smitten," "I have required," etc. are all in the past tense, which is used here to affirm the certainty of these events happening in the future. Compare Gen. 17:5: "...for a father of many nations have I made thee," the fulfilment of which even in type (in a literal sense) took many centuries. "And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon; the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him" (Jeremiah 27:6).

    In LJ's original submission directed to me, he had used styled text that contained italics, bold print, and different font sizes, all of which came out as plain text only when I forwarded it to errancy and alt.bible.errancy. In quoting Young's version of the passage, LJ had put all of the Hebrew perfect "tense" forms in bold print, so he was obviously emphasizing the tenses to make the point quoted above. If I misrepresented him, I think the mistake was understandable, so he now needs to explain to us what he believes the "tense" used in the passage signified. Why did he bring the matter up and emphasize it as he did if he doesn't think that the tense used supported his position that this was a prophetic statement?

    LJ:
    As FT has rightly pointed out with many examples, the Perfect is used in the OT to express what are clearly commands. If FT carefully re-reads what I have written, he will see that nothing in it excludes this use of the Hebrew Perfect.

    Till:
    But nothing in the use of the Hebrew perfect in this passage would prove that it was a prophecy and not a command. Since LJ admits that commands could be issued in this "tense" as well as prophecies, he needs to give us much more in order to prove that the "son of the prophets" was merely prophesying in this passage.

    LJ:
    After quoting Young's literal translation of 2 Kg. 9:6-10, I wrote, "The reader will note in the literal translation above that the verbs 'I have anointed thee,' 'thou hast smitten,' 'I have required,' etc. are all in the past tense, which is used here to affirm the certainty of these events happening in the future." Note that I wrote "which is used here," i. e., in this passage, not simply "which is used," which could suggest that I restricted the use of the Hebrew Perfect only to the Prophetic Perfect.

    Till:
    I'm trying to keep this debate above personal remarks, but I honestly think that LJ is quibbling here to try to cover a mistake that he now realizes he made. In saying that the past tense was used "here," LJ surely thought at the time that the use of this "tense" here (in the disputed passage) was an indication that the statement was prophetic. Otherwise, why did he make it? If his intention was to "[restrict] the use of the Hebrew Perfect only to the Prophetic Perfect," then he needs to explain to us why the use of the Hebrew perfect here made it a "Prophetic Perfect" here. Since the Hebrew perfect could be used in issuing commands (a fact that LJ now admits), if 2 Kings 9:6ff was prophetic in its intention, there must have been other indictors of this intention in the text. What were they? LJ has yet to tell us.

    LJ:
    Later, I quoted 1 Sam. 15:3, where I pointed out that the verbs there are in the imperative, which necessarily expresses a command. The verb forms used in 2 Kg. 9:6-10 cannot settle the question of whether this passage is just a prophecy or a command.

    Till:
    Yes, but this shows only that the imperative was sometimes used to convey commands in Hebrew. The many examples that I cited (and quoted) in my second rebuttal show that the perfect was often used to convey commands. If the perfect was often used to convey commands and if the perfect was used in 2 Kings 9:6ff, how does LJ know that the statement was prophetic in its intention? That's what we want to know.

    LJ:
    The verb forms used in 2 Kg. 9:6-10 cannot settle the question of whether this passage is just a prophecy or a command.

    Till:
    Good. Then shall we consider this matter settled? If so, we will wait to see whatever other reasons LJ may have for thinking that 2 Kings 9:6ff was a prophecy and not a command.

    [Editorial Note: At this point, LJ's "interim reply" ended, and the regular debate resumed.]

    Till:
    Leonard Jayawardena has argued that the apparent inconsistency in 2 Kings 10:30 and Hosea 1:4 can be resolved by simply understanding that the "son of the prophets" who anointed Jehu king over Israel did not deliver to him a divine command to go and destroy the house of Ahab but had merely prophesied that he would commit this massacre. LJ therefore sees no inconsistency in the praise and approval of Jehu expressed in 2 Kings 10:30...

    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."

    and the prophet Hosea's pronouncement of punishment on the house of Jehu for having committed the massacre of the royal family of Israel at Jezreel.

    Hosea 1:3 So he [Hosea] went and took Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. 4 And Yahweh said to him, "Name him Jezreel; for in a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. 5 On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel."

    If I have understood him, LJ's position is that 2 Kings 10:30 was neither praising Jehu nor approving of Jehu's actions at Jezreel but was merely saying that Yahweh had wanted the house of Ahab to be destroyed, so since Jehu had brought about Yahweh's desires in this matter, even though Yahweh did not specifically command him to, he was going to reward Jehu by allowing his descendants to sit on the throne of Israel for four generations before he destroyed them and thereby punished Jehu for having committed a massacre that he was not commanded to do. Hence, all that Hosea did in the passage above was to pronounce that the time had come for the house of Jehu to be punished for what Jehu had done to the house of Ahab.

    The usual track that inerrantists take to "explain" the Jehu problem is to argue that Jehu had exceeded his mandate and killed more people than Yahweh had commanded him, and so it was for Jehu's excesses that Yahweh sent Hosea to declare that the time had come for the house of Jehu to be punished for their ancestor's having gone beyond what Yahweh had commanded him. Those who read the exchanges between me and Robert Turkel on this issue will recall that this was Turkel's position, for which he was unable to make a credible case. In his original correspondence with me, LJ said that "(t)he explanation offered by some for Hos[ea] 1-4, that Jehu exceeded his 'mandate,' is unacceptable." I was glad to read that LJ can see the inadequacy of the usual inerrantist explanation of this problem, but I must say that I find his explanation just as unsatisfactory as the one that he finds unacceptable. There are too many problems in LJ's explanation to see it as a way out of a problem that has long troubled believers in biblical inerrancy.

    The first of these problems has been exposed and discussed in Part 1 and Part 2 of my reply. To make his case, LJ must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the words spoken by the "son of the prophet" while anointing Jehu were merely prophetic and were not intended to be a command. LJ made his case for prophecy by arguing that the Hebrew past tense was used throughout this passage and that biblical prophecy was usually expressed in this way. I showed in Part 2, however, that there are many examples in the Old Testament of obvious commands that were spoken in the same linguistic structure, so it is evident that statements in Hebrew were not always prophecies just became they were written or stated in the past tense. To make his case, then, LJ will have to show us more than the mere fact that the Hebrew past tense was used in the statement that the "son of the prophets" made while he was anointing Jehu to be king. Perhaps LJ has other supporting evidence that he will be able to give us, but while we are waiting to see any additional evidence he may have, I will list and explain some reasons why it is unlikely that the statement spoken to Jehu was only prophetic in its intention.

    First, LJ's solution has the same problem that we find in so many inerrantist "explanations" of biblical discrepancies. It makes the omniscient, omnipotent Yahweh look like an incompetent nincompoop. Surely, LJ would not argue that Elisha, who was Yahweh's chosen successor to Elijah (1 Kings 19:16), just acted on his own in sending Elisha to anoint Jehu. The passage just cited, in fact, specifically stated that Yahweh ordered Elijah to anoint Jehu king of Israel, so Elisha (in 2 Kings 9) was merely executing this commandment. Thus, it is evident that the writer(s) of the books of Kings thought that the anointing of Jehu was Yahweh's will. LJ's "solution" to the Jehu problem, therefore, makes Yahweh so incompetent that he would select a king whom he knew would do deeds so heinous that he would have to suffer the punishment of having his "house" (descendants) eradicated (assuming that there could ever be any moral justification for punishing people for what had been done by their ancestors). There just can't be much credibility in a solution that makes an omniscient deity look so mentally incompetent.

    Second, LJ's solution results in a situation that has the Yahweh violating his own decree that says that people should not be punished for the sins of their ancestors.

    Deuteronomy 24:16 Parents shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their parents; only for their own crimes may persons be put to death.

    Ezekiel 18:20 The person who sins shall die. A child shall not suffer for the iniquity of a parent, nor a parent suffer for the iniquity of a child; the righteousness of the righteous shall be his own, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be his own.

    LJ's solution creates a situation where Yahweh did exactly what he said in his own decrees should not be done: he punished the descendants of Jehu for something that they didn't do. Readers should expect LJ to argue that Jehu's descendants were also immoral, but that is besides the point. If they were immoral, they should (according to Yahweh's own decree) have been punished for their own sins, not the sins of an ancestor. Hosea's pronouncement, however, was quite clear in saying that punishment on the house of Jehu would be rendered because of the "blood at Jezreel."

    Hosea 1:4 (F)or in a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.

    Jehu was the one who had shed blood at Jezreel in his massacre of the royal family of Israel, so Hosea's statement clearly fixed punishment on a family for something that had been done by an ancestor who was long dead.

    What we actually have in this story is an example of ancient barbarity when people thought that punishment should be brought upon not just the one guilty party but upon everyone who could potentially extend the family lineage. Achan's entire family, for example, was stoned and burned for a crime that Achan had committed in keeping booty for himself during the sacking of Jericho (Josh. 8:25-26). When Ahab and Jezebel plotted against Naboth to kill him so that Ahab could have Naboth's vineyard, Yahweh sent Elijah to tell Ahab that his whole house would be destroyed for this sin (1 Kings 21:17ff), and as the story of Jehu's massacre at Jezreel was told, it was ostensibly done to punish Ahab for the murder of Naboth. Ahab was dead at the time of Jehu's massacre, but the barbarians of ancient times had the peculiar belief that a dead person could be punished by killing his descendants. It was a barbaric belief that modern society has progressed beyond, but it is a sad commentary that we still have people like LJ who are so determined to see the writings of those barbaric times as "the word of God" that they will go to whatever extremes necessary to defend such barbarity.

    The fact is that the Old Testament account of Jehu's massacre praised what he did at Jezreel.

    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."

    I would urge LJ to take particular notice of the fact that the text above clearly says that Yahweh said to Jehu that he had "done well in carrying out what [he] consider[ed] right" and that Jehu had done in accordance with all that was in Yahweh's heart in Jehu's dealings with the house of Ahab." Clearly, this passage is saying that Jehu did exactly what Yahweh had wanted him to do. In his initial draft to me, LJ said, "(T)he judgements [sic] of God are, of course, always 'right'--they can never be otherwise!" This statement puts LJ in the peculiar position of arguing that the judgments of God are always right and can never be otherwise, but a person deserves to be punished by having his family lineage exterminated if he should do that which is always right and never wrong.

    Absurd inconsistencies like this one are common in the efforts of biblicists to find inerrancy in the Bible. In that respect, although his efforts have shown a lot better linguistic and argumentation skills than we have seen from others, LJ is no different from other inerrantists who have debated in these forums.

    LJ:
    In my last submission, I said, inter alia, that next time I would add to what I said in my opening argument concerning 2 Kg. 9:6-10, which I have maintained is simply a prophecy, not a command to Jehu. But I am afraid this has to be differed to the next time since a certain issue repeatedly raised by FT has necessitated a slight digression in which I hope the readers will bear with me. This is his many references to "inerrantists" with whom he has (wrongly) lumped me.

    Till:
    If I have wrongly accused LJ of being an inerrantist, that is certainly understandable, because his personal correspondence to me proposed a debate on the biblical contradictions and failed prophecies that I had alleged. His proposal seemed inclusive and sweeping, and at no time did he indicate that he was also a biblical errantist but merely thought that I had made some allegations of errancy that could be explained. He did remark that he believed he could satisfactorily explain 90% of the prophecy failures that I had alleged in Prophecies: Imaginary and Unfulfilled, but I certainly didn't see this as an agreement that the other 10% were prophecy failures. I understood him to mean only that he personally didn't have explanations for them. After all, I am accustomed to dealing with biblicists who argue that just because they don't have explanations for biblical discrepancies does not mean that they are actual discrepancies.

    At any rate, LJ could have simply notified us that I had mistakenly assumed that he is an inerrantist and then proceeded to show us his reasons for seeing 2 Kings 9:6ff as a prophecy rather than a command. Instead, he has launched into a 30K analysis of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, which has nothing to do with his claim that there is no inconsistency in the praise and approval of Jehu's massacre in 2 Kings 10:30 and the condemnation of it in Hosea 1:4. And he accused me of fighting a straw man!

    LJ:
    Though not directly relevant to the current debate, I consider this topic to be of sufficient importance to warrant some treatment, especially in view of the fact that both newsgroups involved have the word "errancy" in their name.

    Till:
    No, it certainly isn't relevant to the current debate, and I must firmly protest that LJ, who contacted me about debating this particular issue, has already led the debate into an irrelevant tangent. As I noted above, if I had incorrectly assumed that he is a biblical inerrantist, he could have simply said so, for whether he is an inerrantist or not, he is affirming that 2 Kings 10:30 and Hosea 1:4 are consistent statements. We could have done without his lengthy tangent into the meaning of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy?

    I must note again that LJ has no room at all to accuse me of fighting straw men, and I seriously wonder if this digression has not been perpetrated in order to give him time to recover from mistakes that even he has admitted he made in his attempt to reconcile the passages in dispute.

    LJ:
    Before that a few other matters.

    FT has jumped the gun! He has already presented his counter-arguments to Point 2 of my solution to the Jehu question, which I outlined in the first submission, even before I have had the opportunity of properly formulating it! He even quotes from my private correspondence to him which the readers have never seen! In the first defense, I only introduced Point 1, i. e., 2 Kg. 9:6-10 is only a prophecy, not a command, and I have still not exhausted even this point. In my next posting, I will complete Point 1 and, hopefully, introduce Point 2 formally.

    TILL:
    I'm really at a loss to understand LJ's complaint that I "jumped the gun," because his first defense of his proposition, under point 2, stated, "It will be shown that Ex. 20:3-5 is the key that unlocks 2 Kg.10:30," so all I did was reply to a statement that he himself had made. Even if he had not made this statement in his own posting, there would have been no reason why I should not have referred to the Exodus 20 statement. From over 60 Ks of e-mail that LJ sent me, I knew that he intended to cite Exodus 20:5 to justify Hosea's pronouncement of punishment on the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and even if LJ had not mentioned this passage, I still would have expected him to use it, because I have debated the Jehu massacre extensively, so I know what the stock "solutions" to this discrepancy will often be. I don't usually anticipate opposition arguments (as my current debate with Stephanie on the Tyre prophecy will show), but I sometimes do cut the opposition off at the pass. Since he himself had mentioned Exodus 20:3-5, I decided to let him know what my rebuttal would be if he did decide to base an argument on the Exodus passage. I know of no debating rule that prohibits a participant from anticipating what an opponent may say.

    I do wish that LJ would debate the Jehu issue and drop all of his digressions and petty complaints. A debate that showed great promise at the beginning is rapidly deteriorating into just another debate that gets bogged down in tangents and quibbles.

    LJ
    Moreover, having "illegally" commented on a point yet to be formally introduced for debate, he then sets up a straw man!

    Till:
    As I said above, I know of no debating standard that makes it "illegal" to anticipate the opposition's argument, and (as I have shown) I really didn't anticipate it; he introduced the text himself. As for his charge that I have set up a straw man, what would he call his 30 Ks of material on the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (CSBI), which he himself admits is not "directly relevant to the current debate"?

    LJ"
    That is, he raises the entirely irrelevant and separate issue of the apparent contradiction between Exodus 20:5

    Till:
    Well, if Exodus 20:3-5 is "entirely irrelevant," we will expect LJ to make no appeals to this passage to try to justify Hosea's pronouncement of punishment on the house of Jehu for the Jezreel massacre. Only time will show whether he really believes that this passage is "entirely irrelevant" to this debate.

    LJ:
    and Deut. 24:16 and Ezek. 18:20 with a view to weakening my interpretation for 2 Kg. 10:30.

    Till:
    Well, I didn't introduce them to weaken LJ's interpretation of 2 Kings 10:30 but rather to weaken his interpretation of Hosea 1:4. If LJ appeals to Exodus 20:5 to argue that Yahweh was justified in destroying the house of Jehu for something done by an ancestor, then he will confront the need to show us that this premise is consistent with Deuteronomy 24:16 and Ezekiel 18:20, which I will quote just to show readers the problem that LJ will confront if he appeals to Exodus 20:5 (which says that Yahweh will "visit" the sins of the fathers upon the third and fourth generations).

    Deuteronomy 24:16 The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.

    Ezekiel 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

    LJ:
    Whether or not there exists such a contradiction is an entirely separate issue from whether Ex. 20:5 provides a satisfactory explanation for 2 Kg. 10:30.

    Till:
    LJ is upset that I replied to his Exodus 20:3-5 reference, because he knows that he was going to base a crucial argument on it. He objects because I have stolen his thunder, but if this passage is in any way defensible and important to his position, he should not object to my own references to it before he had developed whatever argument he intended to base on it. The fact is that he introduced Exodus 20:3-5 himself, so I'm having a hard time understanding what he is upset about.

    LJ:
    The Bible affirms that God has acted in history in accordance with the principle of Ex. 20:5 and we assume that to be true for the purpose of the present debate.

    Till:
    Well, LJ may assume that God has "acted in history in accordance with the principle of Exodus 20:5," but I don't assume that. I won't allow LJ to assume that what ancient barbarians assumed to be acts of God were in fact acts of Gods. To punish someone for something done by an ancestor is uncivilized by all standards of modern morality.

    LJ:
    If it is felt that there exists such a contradiction, then that is a topic for a separate debate.

    Till:
    Which I suspect will materialize when LJ appeals to Exodus 20:3-5 to try to justify Hosea's condemnation of the house of Jehu. We'll just have to wait to see if he makes this argument.

    LJ:
    There are many other instances where FT commits this offence (i. e., raising rrelevant issues), which I will not mention now.

    Till:
    I hope I didn't raise issues any more irrelevant than LJ's 30 K analysis of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.

    LJ:
    It will be helpful if FT desists from raising such extraneous issues in the interest of keeping the debate tightly focused on its original topic and to avoid misleading and confusing the readers.

    Till:
    That's good advice. I do hope that LJ remembers it so that we won't be subjected to another 30 K posting that even he admits is not "directly relevant to the current debate."

    LJ:
    By the way, in the penultimate para[graph] of the last instalment of his reply, FT implies by using [sic] that my spelling of the word "judgement" (with an "e" after the "g"), which occurs in some material he quoted from my original correspondence to him, is wrong. In fact both "judgement" and "judgment" are acceptable. The former is especially used in British English, and being a resident of a country which was once a British colony, I would naturally use that spelling. FT might object to even the word "instalment" above, which I have spelt with only one "l," because its variant form, "installment," is the usual American spelling. Tomatoes or... let's call the whole thing off!!

    Till:
    Yes, I know that judgement is a secondary spelling used even by some American writers and that it is the primary choice in British spelling. I'm also aware that British spelling uses "s" instead of "z" in spellings like organisation and realisation and "-our" instead of "-or" in words like labour, but sic means thus or so, and is used to indicate that this is the way the word or expression was used in the original. Since the audiences in our internet forums are primarily Americans, I didn't consider it inappropriate to use [sic], but I didn't use it to claim that the word judgement had been misspelled. In American spelling, root words that end in "e" retain the "e" when suffixes beginning with consonants are added (care + ful = careful), but for some reason when the "e" is preceded by "dg," the "e" is dropped in preferred spellings, as in judgment and acknowledgment. For that reason, I considered the [sic] appropriate for predominantly American audiences.

    At this point, LJ began his tedious analysis of CSBI, which I will respond to separately. I should just skip it, because it is irrelevant to the Jehu debate, but I don't want to give him any room to claim that I am evading points. Those who are familiar with the Chicago Statement may want to scroll past this section to where the Jehu debate resumes.

    LJ:
    And now the digression on inerrancy follows.

    Till:
    Yes, it is a digression, and I hope that it won't happen again. If LJ thinks that I am unfamiliar with the CSBI, in the words of our inimitable president, he has "misunderestimated" me.

    LJ:

    Innerrancy: Biblical Doctrine or Human Invention?

    According to the "The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy" (October 1978), the word "inerrant" signifies "the quality of being free from all falsehood or mistake and so safeguards the truth that Holy Scripture is entirely true and trustworthy in all its assertions." I will quote from this Statement more below because I think it fairly represents the doctrine of inerrancy.

    FT mistakes me for an "inerrantist," probably as a knee-jerk reaction because the only kind of biblical apologist he has thus far encountered belongs to that category. I am most definitely not an "inerrantist," because inerrancy is an impossible position to defend.

    Till:
    Why didn't LJ just say this without the needless digression into 30 Ks of material that many people in these internet forums will already be familiar with? All he had to do was say something like, "I want to correct a misimpression that FT has. He seems to think that I am a biblical inerrantist, but I am not. Although I am defending the consistency of 2 Kings 10:30 and Hosea 1:4, I recognize that there are mistakes in the Bible."

    That would have eliminated the need for this tedious digression.

    LJ:
    Nor does the Bible make such a claim for itself. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, "...the holy scriptures...are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Timothy 3:15-16). So if the scriptures are accurate and reliable enough to meet these requirements, then it is enough.

    Till:
    Reliable enough to meet these requirements? If the Bible is errant, how do we determine what is true (inerrant) and what is not true (errant)? That's a question that biblicists of LJ's genre have been unable to answer. I'll ask him a question that I have asked of others like him. If I send him a Bible, will he mark for me the sections that are errant so that I will know what is true and what isn't?

    LJ:
    Where in this passage or any other biblical passage touching on the subject of inspiration do you get any claim of inerrancy (in the sense of being free from mistakes or errors of any kind)?

    Till:
    If I can find the time, I will search the errancy archives for an article that I posted on this subject (which was lost in my computer crash last summer) in which I pointed out that although the Bible does not claim that it is inerrant, the inerrancy doctrine is a logical consequence of the belief that the Bible was inspired of God. In my opinion, biblical inerrantists are far more logical in their position than those who say that the Bible contains errors but is still in some sense "the word of God."

    [Editorial Note: A three-part series that shows why inerrancy must logically follow the claim that the Bible was inspired by an omniscient, omnipotent deity has since been posted on this same website.]

    If LJ will get back on the subject of Jehu's massacre, after we have completed the debate on it, I will be glad to affirm that belief in the verbal inspiration of the Bible logically necessitates a belief that the Bible is inerrant in all matters (history, science, chronology, prophecy, etc.).

    LJ:
    The above-mentioned Chicago Statement (hereafter CSBI convenience) further states, "We affirm that the doctrine of inerrancy is grounded in the teaching of the Bible about inspiration." The Statement does not explain how.

    Till:
    If one accepts as truth what the Bible teaches about what happens in the process of "inspiration," then logic will require that the believer in verbal inspiration by an omniscient, omnipotent entity also believe in the inerrancy of whatever was inspired.

    LJ:
    God used human instruments to record his revelation--

    Till:
    Here is a question that LJ needs to prove. He can't just beg it. I will accept that the Bible teaches that "God used human instruments to record his revelation," but just because the Bible teaches this does not make it so.

    LJ:
    he didn't drop it from heaven-- and it is only natural if they were "guilty" of imperfections of the sort that we see in the Bible.

    Till:
    LJ overlooks the consequences that "inspiration" described in the following passages would entail.

    Matthew 10:16 "See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. 19 When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

    Luke 12:11 When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say."

    There are others that I could cite, but these are sufficient to show that Jesus taught that his disciples would be guided by the Holy Spirit to a degree that what they said would not be what they were saying but what the Holy Spirit was saying through them. If this was true during their preaching ministries, are we to believe that in guiding New Testament authors to write what would be a "revelation" to direct believers through the entire Christian era, the Holy Spirit would have used a less rigid standard of "inspiration" than the one he used when directing the disciples in their oral preaching? If "inspiration" was such that when a disciple of Jesus spoke, he wasn't speaking his own words but words that "the spirit of [their] father" was speaking through them, would they have ever spoken anything under these conditions that was not inerrant? In other words, would the "spirit of [their] fathers" speaking through them have spoken things that were incorrect? If so, what would have been the advantage of having the "spirit of [their] father" speak through them?

    Bible believers like LJ take the position that the Bible is errant but nevertheless in some "higher sense" the "word of God, because they can see that the Bible obviously contains errors, but in trying to justify these errors on the grounds of imperfections in the "human instruments," they completely disregard the logical consequence that would have to ensue from the verbal inspiration of the omniscient, omnipotent deity who was presumably "inspiring" them as they wrote. That logical consequence would be inerrancy.

    The doctrine of biblical inerrancy is patently absurd, but its absurdity is exceeded by those like LJ who argue that even though the Bible was inspired by an omniscient, omnipotent deity, it still contains error. This kind of belief in "inspiration" isn't worth a pint of cold spit, because it gives Bible believers no way to know what is truth and what is error in the Bible.

    If LJ thinks the Bible is errant, just out of curiosity I would like to know why he would even bother to try to prove that two particular verses in the Bible (2 Kings 10:30 and Hosea 1:4) are inerrant.

    LJ:
    But God has seen to it that there are no such mistakes or contradictions as would undermine its essential truths and in this the hand of God may be seen clearly.

    Till
    Yeah, right, I've heard this before from LJ's kind of biblicist. I'd like to know how he knows that God has seen to it that there are no mistakes or contradictions that would undermine the "essential truths" in the Bible. How does he recognize an "essential truth" in the Bible? I asked him if he will take the time to mark the parts that are erroneous if I send him a Bible, so now I will ask him if he will mark the "essential truths" in the Bible if I send him a copy. I would also appreciate his telling us why (and how he knows) a god who could "see" that no mistakes or contradictions were made that undermined "essential truths" in the Bible wouldn't have gone just a step further and kept errors of all kinds out of the Bible.

    I respect the fact that LJ recognizes that there are errors in the Bible, but I honestly have more respect for the biblical inerrantist who is able to recognize that belief in the divine inspiration of the Bible necessarily requires a belief that the Bible is inerrant in everything.

    LJ:
    Such errors or discrepancies as there are in the scriptures usually entail minor and inconsequential matters.

    Till:
    And who decides what is minor or inconsequential? What standard does LJ use to determine this? From what I could determine from reading this posting, he has arbitrarily set himself up as the standard to determine what is and what isn't minor. He also needs to explain the word usually. Does this mean that sometimes errors or discrepancies entailed matters that were not minor or inconsequential? If so, what were they? How does he know?

    LJ apparently can't see that his position on inspiration would require each individual to become a sort of "pope," who can rule on what is error and what isn't, what is minor and what isn't, etc.

    LJ:
    An example would be the alleged discrepancy between the accounts of Matthew and Luke concerning the healing of the centurion's servant (Mt. 8:5-13 and Lk. 7:1b-10). The alleged discrepancy/contradiction is that whereas Mt. has the centurion going in person to ask Jesus to heal his servant, Lk. has the centurion staying at home and sending elders of the Jews to request Jesus to heal him. Now it is possible that Mt., although he was aware that the centurion stayed at home and sent representatives, omitted the "tedious" details to shorten the story.

    Till:
    Why would someone who was being guided by an omniscient, omnipotent deity have done this? If the words that the disciples of Jesus spoke were not their words but the words of the Holy Spirit speaking through them (as noted above), then why wouldn't the words being written by the "human instruments" that God chose have met the same criterion? Furthermore, the same "Holy Spirit" that presumably "inspired" Matthew to write the account of the centurion also presumably "inspired" Luke to write an account of the same incident. Why did the omniscient one chose to have Luke say that the servants went to Jesus but chose to let Matthew "omit" this detail?

    I'm sure that LJ thinks he has made an important discovery here, but he has obviously failed to analyze this discrepancy critically. If both writers were inspired "instruments" of God, there is no logical reason why the two accounts would be discrepant.

    LJ:
    (After all, this sort of "short-circuiting" in scripture is not uncommon. For example, in one of the very passages relevant to our debate, we are told that "the Lord said unto Jehu..." [2 Kg. 10:30], although almost certainly the Lord spoke to Jehu through a prophet.)

    Till:
    Why is that so certain? I can fill a page with citations that claim that Yahweh spoke to so and so. Is it LJ's position that whenever this expression was used, it was actually Yahweh speaking through a prophet? If so, then how did Yahweh speak to the prophet to let him know what he should speak to whomever the prophet then spoke to? And why would Yahweh speak to a prophet and then have the prophet go deliver the message instead of just delivering it himself directly to its destination. Apparently, Yahweh could have used the assistance of an efficiency expert.

    LJ:
    But more likely, the tradition of this miracle of Jesus as received by the writer of the Mt. account had the centurion going in person, so the writer was actually unaware at the time of writing or compiling that in fact the centurion sent representatives.

    Till:
    Why didn't the inspiration of the Holy Spirit take care of this misunderstanding? I'd just like LJ to tell us what the purpose of inspiration was? Was its purpose to give guidance in any way? If so, how far did it go? How does LJ know?

    I'll have to say that LJ is turning into a huge disappointment. After sending me a defense of his position, which was well written and contained only a bit of speculation here and there, he has turned into a debating opponent who makes constant resorts to speculation.

    LJ:
    But the important point of the story is the healing of the centurion's servant, and on this--and even on other details of the story--Mt. and Lk. agree. That is all that matters.

    Till:
    And I suppose that LJ is supposed to be allowed to tell us "all that matters"? If I send him a copy of the Bible, will he mark it for me to indicate all of the things that "matter" so that I will know what is important and what isn't?

    In the next vacancy for pope, I nominate Leonard Jayawardena. He would make a good one, because he can make arbitrary declarations with the best of them.

    LJ:
    There is unity at the core. Is this discrepancy, if there is one, so serious as to cast doubt on whether Jesus healed a centurion's servant at all? No sensible person would say Yes.

    Till:
    LJ, however, is setting himself up as the one who has the right to decide what the "core" is. My position is that all written accounts of an incident would be harmonious in every minute detail (and not just the "core") if all of these accounts were verbally inspired by an omniscient, omnipotent deity. If not, why not? Why would two accounts that were both inspired by the omniscient, omnipotent Holy Spirit contain discrepancies? If Matthew was wrong about who came to Jesus, whether the centurion or the elders of the Jews, which would be just an ordinary natural event, then how can we know that he was right in saying that an extraordinary event, i. e., the healing of the centurion's servant, happened?

    LJ:
    But if there was a passage anywhere in Mt. that would contradict the claim of Lk.--or vice versa--that Jesus healed a centurion's servant, that would be serious. Whether or not Jesus healed the centurion's servant as claimed has a material bearing on my salvation, but not the point about whether the centurion went personally or sent representatives.

    Till:
    Why would it be serious? After all, LJ's position is that discrepancies in minor or inconsequential details are unimportant. If Jesus did not heal a centurion's servant, would that in any way undermine the "core" message of the gospels that he was the son of God, who died on the cross as a sacrifice for sin and then rose from the dead?

    Biblical inerrantists who have critically evaluated the doctrine of divine inspiration recognize that even trivial mistakes in a book that was supposedly inspired by God would do irreparable damage to that doctrine. LJ obviously hasn't examine the doctrine critically enough to recognize this.

    LJ:
    As an example of a contradiction/discrepancy that is a little more than "minor," I can cite the clear differences that exist between the first two gospels and the third concerning the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus to his apostles. The third seems to be unaware of any post-resurrection appearances of Jesus to his apostles in Galilee, and the first two seem to be unaware of his appearances in Jerusalem to his apostles on the very day of his resurrection.

    Till:
    Yes, they do contain these problems, don't they? Why do you suppose that the omniscient one would have guided his chosen writers in a way that allowed these inconsistencies into their "inspired" accounts?

    Oh, I know! I know! Don't tell me! He wanted the accounts to be inconsistent so that skeptics could not accuse the writers of collusion.

    LJ:
    However, the fourth gospel reports both and so provides a correction and ensures that we are not misled.

    Till:
    Why would a "correction" have been necessary in accounts that had been verbally inspired by an omniscient, omnipotent deity?

    LJ:
    (Note: Mark 16:9-20 was clearly not a part of the original gospel [my reasons for it are beyond the scope of this digression or excursus] and hence could be excluded from the discussion.)

    Till:
    Well, actually, I was beginning to wonder if anything would be beyond the scope of this digression. Will LJ ever get back to the matter of Jehu's massacre? I will notify him here and now that resurrection inconsistencies and his other digressions are not the subjects under debate at this time. I'll be more than glad to debate resurrection inconsistencies and his other tangents after we have finished the Jehu debate, but I will expect him in his next posting to return to the subject of the debate.

    LJ:
    Indeed discrepancies of this sort, far from undermining the credibility of the scriptures, actually authenticate them.

    Till:
    They do? If LJ will finish the Jehu debate, I'll be glad to go to the resurrection narratives next and debate this with him.

    LJ:
    For they show that at least there was no concerted effort in the first century to fabricate stories about the founder of the new religion to bolster and promote it.

    Till:
    Well, I was right, wasn't I? Those inconsistencies are in the resurrection narratives because the omniscient one wanted to remove the mere appearance of collusion.

    Now I have a question for LJ. Is it at all possible that the inconsistencies were the result of different traditions developing in different localities so that when one author wrote his account, he included traditions he was aware of but the other authors were unaware of, and so on? Why is that not an explanation as likely--if not more likely--than LJ's belief that the inconsistencies were "inspired" so that no one could claim collusion?

    LJ:
    The OT says, "...at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established" (Deut. 19:15). In the Gospels, we have four witnesses,

    Till:
    We do? I'd like to see LJ prove this claim. He needs to understand here and now that I'm not going to stand idly by and allow him to argue by assertion and question begging. What we have in the gospels are four writers claiming that an extraordinary event, i. e., a resurrection from the dead, happened, but there is a big difference in a claim and a historical fact. Let LJ prove to us that anyone ever witnessed the resurrection of Jesus.

    LJ;
    the fourth Gospel being based on the direct, personal testimony of an apostle of Jesus (John 21:24).

    Till:
    This is more question begging. I'd like to see LJ prove that the fourth gospel was based on "the direct, personal testimony of an apostle of Jesus." I'm familiar with the verse he cited. I don't even have to look it up. Is he going to argue that just because the gospel of John claims that it was written by a disciple who witnessed the things written in it, that claim was necessarily true?

    LJ:
    Discrepancies, where they exist, are evidence that there was no collusion between the writers of the Gospels to present stories perfectly uniform and harmonious even in details and thus assure us that we have here sincere, independent and honest witnesses.

    Till:
    LJ's premise assumes that agreement in multiple testimony means collusion, but that is an assumption that you need to prove. Why would witnesses have to conspire in order to agree to what they witnessed? If three men enter a bank with guns, wearing black ski masks, order a teller to fill a green duffle bag with money, fire shots into the ceiling, and then flee in a blue car waiting outside, why would collusion be necessary in order for the witnesses to agree in their testimony that there were three men with guns, wearing black ski masks, who ordered a teller to fill a green duffle bag with money and then fired shots into the ceiling, and fled in a blue car waiting outside?

    According to the biblicist way of reasoning, the testimony of the witnesses would be more convincing if some said that there was one man, others that there were two, and still others that there were three. Likewise, the biblicist would say that the testimony of the witnesses would be more credible if some of the witnesses who said there were three men said that the masks were green, while others said that they were red, while others said that the men were unmasked. To make the testimony really convincing, according to biblicists, some witnesses would have to say that the robbers waved hand grenades instead of guns, and that they fled on motorcycles after leaving the bank. Since all of the witnesses would agree on the "core" of their testimony, i. e., a bank robbery occurred, they would all be credible witnesses (according to the biblicist way of reasoning).

    Well, excuse me if I don't consider inconsistencies like these to be credible testimony. I'm sure that if LJ were a lawyer defending a client accused of a crime, he would not want his client's own witnesses disagreeing in major points of their testimony as he tried to establish an alibi for the accused, but according to the way he reasons above in the resurrection narratives, he should be delighted if his client's witnesses were inconsistent in their testimony.

    LJ's claim that inconsistencies in the resurrection narratives is what makes them so credible is merely a parroting of what he has heard or read in apologetic attempts to defend these inconsistencies, but I doubt that anyone who uses this argument seriously believes that inconsistencies in testimony will make it more believable. There are obvious inconsistencies in the resurrection narratives, and biblicists have had to confront that fact, so they have resorted to the claim that inconsistencies make testimony more credible. If there had been perfect agreement in all details in the narratives, they would be arguing that this proves the resurrection actually happened.

    LJ:
    Why don't skeptics and critics of the Bible recognize that point instead of engaging in nit-picking criticism?

    Till:
    Well, I've just explained why. It is not nitpicking to point out that major inconsistencies in the New Testament resurrection accounts increases doubt that a very unlikely event actually happened. The very nature of the claim that a man died (literally died) and returned to life is sufficient within itself to reject this claim. The inconsistencies are just other good reasons to doubt the claim.

    LJ:
    Indeed, far from being embarrassed, I am honestly glad that the Bible contains the sort of discrepancies it does. Accounts supposedly from different witnesses which are in perfect harmony and agreement with one another even on details should attract suspicion immediately.

    Till:
    According to LJ, one should view with suspicion the events recorded in 2 Kings 19 and Isaiah 37, because the narratives are almost verbatimly the same. Do you know what biblicists will say when the exactness of these two narratives is pointed out? They will ask why two divinely inspired accounts of a story should not be alike, since the same God inspired them both. Yet when inconsistencies in the accounts of the same event(s) are pointed out, they will argue that the inconsistencies make them more credible, because the variations show that there was no collusion. In other words, biblicists try to play both sides of the street.

    LJ:
    The pessimist sees the glass half-empty but the optimist....

    Till:
    And the gullible see what they want to see. If one resurrection narrative had said that Jesus was hanged, another that he was beheaded, another that he was stoned, and another that he was crucified, and if one had said that he was put to death in Bethlehem, another in Jericho, another in Cana, and another in Jerusalem, and if one had said that he was buried in a grave, another said that he was buried in a tomb, another said that he was cremated, and another that he was thrown into the city dump, according to LJ's logic, the accounts would all be credible if they agreed on the "core" issue, i. e., that Jesus was afterwards seen alive.

    LJ [continuing his tangent]:
    On the other hand, where accuracy even in details is important and necessary, we do see it in the scriptures. For example, the prophetic passages of the books of Daniel and Revelation, where the error of even one word can be serious.

    Till:
    Nothing specific was said here, so there is nothing for me to answer. I will say, however, that if LJ wants to defend the accuracy of the prophecies in Daniel and Revelation, I will be glad to oppose him when, if ever, we finish the Jehu debate. I'll also say that it seems strange to me that LJ is not a biblical inerrantist, yet he is going to great extremes in this tangent to defend just about every type of discrepancy that has been discussed in these forums.

    LJ:
    And alleged contradictions of the magnitude of the Jehu "problem," too, are serious.

    Till:
    I'm curious. Why is the "alleged contradiction" in the Jehu matter serious? If LJ admits that there are errors in the Bible, why would this one be "serious"? I'm asking mainly for clarification of his position, because he seems to be quite arbitrary in his assertions about what is important and what isn't important or what is minor and what isn't minor. How does he know?

    LJ:
    There are no contradictions involving any doctrines of the Bible,

    Till:
    Once again LJ is arguing by assertion, and I'd like to see him prove this assertion. The Bible does claim divine inspiration, so that would be a biblical doctrine. Any discrepancy or contradiction in the Bible, whether "minor" or not, would certainly concern the doctrine of inspiration, because it would raise the question of why an omniscient, omnipotent deity could not "inspire" writers to avoid mistakes.

    LJ:
    nor any failed prophecies as alleged by FT in his article Prophecies: Imaginary and Unfulfilled. There are perfectly good solutions to these "failed prophecies" as I hope to show in the future in this forum.

    Till:
    I hope to see LJ try to show that none of those prophecies failed. If we ever get to the subject of prophecy fulfillment, I hope he will stick to it and not lead us into tangents like this one. In fact, before we switch to another proposition in this debate, I am going to insist that we adopt a guideline that will require us both to stay on subject.

    LJ:
    Prophecy is serious business and the failure of even one prediction would immediately bring Deut. 18:21-22 into operation and thus invalidate the claim of the maker of that prediction to being a true prophet.

    Till:
    I agree. I assume, then, that LJ considers prophecy to be a "major" matter. I will also repeat my often-posted challenge here. I defy LJ or anyone else to prove a single verifiable case of biblical prophecy fulfillment.

    He can't do it, but if he wants to try it after we have finished the Jehu debate, I'll be ready for him.

    LJ:
    In modern news reporting of world events, discrepancies between different news organisations are quite common. For example, news reports relating to the recent earthquake in the Indian state of Gujarat contained discrepant casualty figures, sometimes varying by thousands. That was possibly because reporters of various news organisations such as the BBC and CNN obtained their figures from different sources. But do such discrepancies cast doubt on the fact that a massive earthquake did take place in India with high casualty figures? The discrepancies of casualty figures between various reporters at least suggest that they did not check with each other before filing their reports and thus point to the independence of their reports.

    Till:
    Well, if these news organizations claimed to be reporting under the verbal inspiration of an omniscient, omnipotent deity, such discrepancies certainly would cast serious doubt on their inspiration claim. LJ is having problems recognizing what the issue is. Nobody that I know claims that nothing in the Bible is historical. Many of us, however, do claim that inconsistencies, discrepancies, contradictions, and failed prophecies disprove the claim that the Bible was inspired of God.

    LJ:
    To take another example, FT used the expression "Hebrew past tense" to refer to what I explained last time is in fact the Hebrew Perfect. He correctly pointed out with examples from the OT that the Hebrew Perfect is used to express commands and I agreed with him on that. Now does the fact that he used a wrong grammatical term vitiate his basic point that the Hebrew Perfect is used to express commands? The answer is No, of course.

    Till:
    Let's get it right. LJ was the one who used the term "past tense" to describe the Hebrew tense that was used. Here is what he said after quoting Young's version of the passage.

    Now let us look closely at the language of the prophecy delivered to Jehu. The reader will note in the literal translation above that the verbs "I have anointed thee," "thou hast smitten," "I have required," etc. are all in the past tense, which is used here to affirm the certainty of these events happening in the future (emphasis added).

    As I explained in a recent reply to LJ, I used the term as a matter of convenience, because, as young said, "past" and "present" are the most convenient way to refer to the two Hebrew tenses. I used his own term to show that his prophecy claim was on shaky ground, and now he is trying to use that as an argument against me?

    LJ:
    I hope these examples suffice to make the readers see my point of the importance of materiality in assessing the effect that alleged discrepancies or errors have on the reliability and credibility of the scriptural witness. I repeat that the Bible itself makes no claim of being inerrant in all matters, and those who make that claim for the Bible are needlessly placing a burden on their necks--a "yoke" that "neither our fathers nor we were able to bear"!

    Till:
    I have a hope too. I hope these examples are the last tangents that we will see from LJ so that we can get on with the debate. None of what he has said has anything to do with proving his premise that the "son of the prophets" spoke a prophecy to Jehu instead of a command. He went off on this long tangent about his personal views of inerrancy because I assumed that he is an inerrantist. All he had to do was say that this was a mistaken impression.

    I too believe that belief in the inerrancy of the Bible is a "yoke" that no one can successfully bear, but as I explained earlier, it is a far more logical position than the view of those who believe that an omniscient, omnipotent deity "inspired" the Bible but it nevertheless contains errors.

    LJ:
    Further, however sincere they may be, they are actually harming the cause of the Bible, and that is tragic, because that can lead to "throwing the baby out with the bath water" situation. For if inspiration--a claim the Bible does make for itself--is linked to inerrancy, then when the Bible is shown to be not inerrant, inspiration, too, goes out of the window!

    Till:
    Perhaps it hasn't occurred to LJ that if verbal inspiration by an omniscient, omnipotent deity logically requires inerrancy in whatever documents such a deity had "inspired," then the evidence that the Bible contains errors would simply be proof that, despite the Bible's claim of inspiration, it cannot be a book inspired by an omniscient, omnipotent deity. That is not "throwing the baby out with the bath water"; it is simply accepting the logical consequences of mistakes in a book that claims divine inspiration.

    LJ:
    I do not offer solutions to alleged discrepancies/contradictions where I believe they are real. I do that only where I honestly believe there is a reasonable solution or explanation, and not because, like inerrantists, I think I am duty-bound to defend the Bible as a "faithful" Christian.

    Till:
    I'm still curious. If LJ recognizes that there are real discrepancies/contradictions in the Bible, why would he bother to try to prove that the Jehu problem is not a discrepancy? Even if he should succeed in proving that it isn't a discrepancy, is it going to make any substantial difference to have one less discrepancy in a book that has many of them?

    LJ:
    In the case of the Jehu question, I believe there is a very good solution--one which I worked out entirely on my own--and that is what [I?] defend in this debate.

    Till
    Then he should defend it. His long, tedious tangent has been an imposition on my time that I greatly resent. From our personal correspondence before this debate began, I had thought that he was a person who could be depended on to debate rather than waste time on off-topic tangents.

    LJ:
    Even if any errantists can put produce [sic] solutions to all of the alleged discrepancies/contradictions of the sort that "errantists" usually cite in refutation of inerrancy--but, of course, they can't--that would still leave some grammatical errors in the Bible!

    Till:
    And even the grammatical errors would be a problem. I have repeatedly urged biblical inerrantists, who think that inerrancy extends to matters of history, chronology, science, prophecy, geography, etc., to explain why a book verbally inspired by an omniscient, omnipotent deity would not also be linguistically inerrant. They aren't at all eager to address this problem.

    Anyway, LJ admits that there are errors in the Bible but doesn't think that the Jehu problem is an error. That is all that is relevant at this point, so I must insist that he stop the tangents and get the debate back on topic.

    LJ:
    CSBI states: "We further deny that inerrancy is negated by Biblical phenomena such as... irregularities of grammar or spelling...."

    Comment: On what basis the framers of this Statement say this I cannot understand. Aren't irregularities of grammar and spelling errors just as much as, say, numerical discrepancies between OT passages where one or the other passage has to contain an error? Why couldn't an omnipotent God have kept his writers from making even such mistakes?

    Till:
    Absolutely! Now I wish that LJ would address the problem of his belief that the Bible is "inspired" but still errant. How could a book "inspired" by an omniscient, omnipotent entity contain errors of any kind, linguistic errors included? On what grounds does LJ and his like-minded cohorts believe that errors could be in a book that was inspired by such a deity?

    LJ:
    Just like facts, grammatical irregularities or errors can be material or immaterial. If a grammatical error results in a significant difference to the sense, would the framers of CSBI still say that inerrancy is not negated by "irregularities of grammar"? I hope the following will make this point clear to the readers.

    Till:
    No disagreement here. Linguistics must be included by those who argue that the Bible is inerrant in all matters (history, geography, science, etc.). If not, why not? As for LJ's position, he must explain why a deity who went to the trouble to chose and "inspire" writers would have allowed them to make mistakes. His position reduces inspiration to a pointless waste of the deity's time.

    LJ:
    There are clearly demonstrable solecisms in the NT, especially in the Apocalypse. However, none of these affect the sense (subject to those few cases where variant readings are involved) and that is what really matters. For example, Rev.9:7: "...behold, a great multitude [noun phrase "great multitude" is in the nominative case in the Gr. text]... standing before the throne ["standing" is a nominative plural masculine participle in the Gr. ageeing with the noun phrase]... clothed in white robes ["clothed" is a [sic] accusative plural masculine participle, whereas we would expect it to be in the nominative ("peribeblemenoi" rather than "peribeblemenous") to agree with the noun phrase "great multitude" like the participle "standing"]...."

    Readers of English translations are not even aware that such solecisms exist because they are not important for translators. A sentence in any language is constructed according a set of rules special to that language called grammar and any deviation therefrom is not serious unless it causes a difference to the sense. For example, consider Mt. 1:16: "And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom [Gr. "eks hes"] was born Jesus, who is called Christ." Now in the Eng. translation above, there is uncertainty as to which antecedent noun (Joseph or Mary) the relative pronoun "of whom" relates. But in the Gr. text no such uncertainty exists because the relative pronoun is feminine in gender in Gr. ("hes"). If we had the masculine gender form "hou" instead of "hes" in the Gr. text, then the meaning would be that Jesus was born of Joseph, which would have Matthew--or whoever wrote the gospel tradition has attributed to him--contradict himself a few verses later. Now let us suppose that Mt.1:16 was actually a part of Luke, not Mt., and "Luke" absent-mindedly used the masculine relative pronoun, then we would have a conflict between these two gospels which I would consider very serious. The absent-minded nature of the grammatical error does not make the mistake any less serious; its effect on the scriptures is just as serious. A difference of gender in this small word--a grammatical point--can make a big difference to the meaning.

    Now why is it that we see some grammatical irregularities, such as those in Revelation, in Scripture? Because God used defective, human instruments with their limitations to record his revelation.

    Till:
    LJ is engaging in more question begging. He can't just assume that "God used defective, human instruments with their limitations to record his revelation." He must prove that this happened and then proceed to use this proven fact as an explanation for why there are grammatical errors in the Bible. It is far more likely that grammatical errors are in the Bible for the simple reason that the biblical writers were uninspired humans, and humans make grammatical errors when they write. However, if biblical writers were in any sense "inspired" of God, then what was the purpose of that inspiration? If it didn't keep them from making grammatical, historical, geographic, and scientific mistakes, then why did "God" even bother to inspire?

    LJ:
    Now why cannot the same limitation extend to the narrative passages? Immaterial grammatical irregularities/errors can be considered to be analogous to immaterial discrepancies/errors involving facts and figures in narrative passages. Aren't grammatical irregularities, too, imperfections of a sort?

    Till:
    Yes, they are, and as I have explained, LJ gets no argument from me on this point. However, he has a huge problem to explain, which I will state again. What was the purpose of inspiration? If it didn't protect the writers from mistakes in history, geography, science, grammar, etc., then what was God doing while he was "inspiring" the writers? Just wasting time? Furthermore, if inspiration didn't prevent errors, then how can we know what was error and what wasn't error? To LJ, the solution to these problems is simple. He just considers himself the judge in all matters of what was major and what was minor, what was "essential doctrine" and what wasn't, etc., etc., etc. That, however, is not a satisfactory solution even for biblical inerrantists, and that, no doubt, is exactly why they have accepted the logical consequence of the biblical doctrine of divine inspiration: if an omniscient, omnipotent deity inspired it, then it has to be free of errors or else the omniscient, omnipotent deity becomes responsible for those errors.

    LJ:
    CSBI: "The authority of Scripture is inescapably impaired if this total divine inerrancy is in any way limited or disregarded...."

    Comment: The statement does not elaborate on how the authority of Scripture is impaired if inerrancy is rejected.

    Till:
    Well, I suggest that LJ look to what Gleason Archer said if he can't understand how the authority of Scripture is impaired if inerrancy is rejected. After using the example of a witness in a trial whose entire testimony was discredited after he had been caught lying, Archer applied the principle of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus 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 don't have much use for Gleason Archer, but I am in agreement with what he said here. His position is logical, and LJ's is completely illogical. Without accepting the view that divine inspiration produced inerrancy in the Bible, LJ has no logical basis at all for accepting as truth anything written in the Bible that cannot be independently corroborated. If the Bible erred in saying X, then how could LJ possibly know that it did not err in saying Y? Now if he will make Y the resurrection of Jesus, perhaps he will understand why the authority of the Bible is impaired if inerrancy is rejected.

    LJ:
    The readers will have seen from the examples I gave above that discrepancies not involving vital matters should not affect the authority of the scriptures.

    Till:
    LJ's examples proved nothing, because there is no way that an individual could know what a "vital matter" is without setting himself up as a sort of mini-pope. Furthermore, LJ's position presents the problem that Archer explained above. If it can be shown that the Bible erred in an unimportant matter (assuming that unimportance could be determined), how could LJ know that the Bible did not err in a "vital matter," such as the resurrection? LJ cannot give an answer to this, because there is no answer that anyone can give without setting himself up as an authority within himself.

    LJ:
    CSBI: "We affirm that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture, which in the providence of God can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy...."

    Comment: 100% true.

    Till:
    How do you know?

    If I send LJ copies of the Septuagint and the Masoretic, will he go through it and mark which variations are the "correct" ones.

    [Editorial note: Besides this problem, LJ has contradicted himself. He said above that biblical inerrancy is a "human invention" and went on argue that there are mistakes in the Bible but that they are just "minor" errors that resulted from human fallibility, but now he is saying that it is 100% true that the original autographs were inerrant. I'd like for him to explain how these views are consistent. If God could have protected the "original autographs" to keep them free from error, why couldn't he have protected the transmission of them to keep them free from error? If, in fact, there are only "minor" errors in the transmitted copies, then God must have intervened to protect them from major errors, so why couldn't he have put forth just a little more effort to keep them entirely free from errors, both minor and major?]

    LJ:
    CSBI: "We deny that any essential element of the Christian faith is affected by the absence of the autographs. We further deny that that this absence renders the assertion of Biblical inerrancy invalid or irrevelant."

    Comment: It would be more correct to say that the absence of the autographs does not undermine the authority of the scriptures, because no essential element of the Christian faith is affected by their absence.

    Till:
    I'm more than a little tired of spending time replying to LJ's arbitrary opinions. Of course, the absence of the original autographs affects the "Christian faith," because no matter how much the variant texts have been compared, there is really no sure way of knowing if the original text has been reproduced.

    LJ:
    For example, divorce is not allowed in the NT under any circumstances, though separation without remarrying is if absolutely necessary (see Mt.5:31-32; Mk.10:11-12; Lk.16:18; 1 Cor.7:10-11). But Mt. 19:9 of all the translations I consulted strikes a discordant note by allowing divorce in the case of infidelity, whereas in other passages the prohibition is clearly absolute. That is because these translations are based on what I believe to be a wrong variant reading which should not be in the Greek text. In the critical apparatus of my Greek NT, which is the UBS Gr. NT (based on the 26th edition of the Nestle-Aland edition), this (wrong) variant reading is given the grade "almost certain." But there are other variant readings which are in harmony with the other passages relating to this subject and one of them should have been chosen. Anyway, my point is that where transmissional errors involve an important Christian doctrine--and I can think of only one other case--there are variant readings extant which are in harmony with the rest of the Bible. But there is a large number of discrepancies of a minor nature where no variant readings are available.

    Till:
    Does anyone following this debate really care what LJ thinks about what should be the "right" variant reading in the book of Matthew? The point is that there is doubt in this matter--serious doubt--but if the original autographs of the Bible still existed and could be proven to be the originals, this question would be resolved. We would then know what the original text said in this matter. Therefore, LJ and CSBI are merely expressing arbitrary opinions when they say that the absence of the originals don't affect the "Christian faith."

    LJ:
    CSBI: "Since God has nowhere promised an inerrant transmission of Scripture, it is necessary to affirm that only the autographic text of the original documents was inspired and to maintain the need of textual criticism as a means of detecting any slips that may have crept into the text in the course of its transmission. The verdict of this science, however, is that the Hebrew and Greek text appear to be amazingly well preserved, so that we are amply justified in affirming, with the Westminster Confession, a singular providence of God in this matter and in declaring that the authority of Scripture is no way jeopardised by the fact that the copies we possess are not entirely error-free."

    Comment: 100% true.

    Till:
    Oh, really? I'm not even going to bother to address other opinions in this matter, because this off-topic tangent has gone on long enough. LJ has bombarded us with his personal, arbitrary opinions throughout this tangent, so I'll present an opinion of my own. It is illogical to think that a deity would go to the trouble to "inspire" writers in order to protect their manuscripts from errors but would then abandon inspiration and leave the "truths" in those manuscripts to survive on their own.

    [Editorial Note: I will remind readers again that part three of my series on biblical inerrancy shows by logical argumentation that an errant Bible would lose all claims to divine authority.]

    LJ:
    CSBI: "We confirm that a confession of the full authority, infallibility, and inerrancy of Scripture is vital to a sound understanding of the whole of the Christian faith."

    Comment: There are those,including me, who will disagree that belief in inerrancy is vital to an understanding of the whole of the Christian faith. Indeed, what I have discovered through my long years of Bible study is that many of the teachings of so-called evangelical Christianity, with which inerrancy is usually associated, are distortions of the plain and simple teachings of Scripture.

    Till:
    Well, of course, we would expect someone as arbitrary in his opinions as LJ is showing himself to be to believe that the evangelicals are wrong and he is right about what the scriptures teach. However, until he can give a sensible solution to the problem that Gleason Archer presented above, I'll continue to maintain my opinion that biblical inerrantists are far more logical in their view of the Bible than LJ and his like-minded cohorts. Inerrantists are able to see the logical consequence of verbal inspiration by an omniscient, omnipotent deity. LJ and his cohorts can't.

    LJ:
    CSBI: "We deny that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypothesis about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood."

    Comment: Insofar as science is concerned, while there is much good science in the Bible, the Bible was not meant to be a science text book.

    Till:
    Regardless of whether it was meant to be a science book, biblical writers did make statements that involved science. If they were "inspired" by an omniscient deity, why wouldn't they have known what was and wasn't scientific fact?

    The problem returns. LJ must explain to us the purpose of "inspiration." Why would a deity bother with it if it wasn't going to guide the inspired ones to know what was correct?

    LJ:
    There are expressions such as "the four corners of the earth," which can only belong to a pre-scientific age.

    Till:
    If an omniscient, omnipotent deity was inspiring the writers in what they wrote, then this was not a "prescientific age." The very author of all scientific law would have been in charge of what was being written.

    LJ:
    In Dan. 2:35, "the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth," which would never have been written in an age where the concept of a round earth was universally accepted.

    Till:
    Right! So why didn't the author of all science, who would surely have known that the earth he had created was a sphere, have guided his "inspired" one to know this?

    LJ:
    As far as history is concerned, divine revelation was given within the framework of real human history, and if revelation is to be valid, the main historical events of Scripture must necessarily be true.

    Till:
    If I send LJ a Bible, will he mark it for me so that I can know what the "main historical events of Scripture" were?

    I wonder if any of this is sinking in.

    LJ:
    But, again, the rule of materiality must be applied. In Dan. 2:1, for example, "the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar" may be a "slip," as a note in the Annotated RSV says, which does not damage the credibility of the book as a whole,

    Till:
    Yes, it does damage the credibility of the book as a whole, and the reason why it does was stated above in the quotation from Gleason Archer. If we can know that either the "second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar" or the three-year training period of the young men in chapter 1 was an error, then how can we know that no errors were made elsewhere in Daniel in matters that we cannot independently verify? The principle of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus must apply in these situations.

    LJ:
    but, on the other hand, Darius the Mede of Dan.5:31 must have been a real historical person, although no secular records of any sort have yet been discovered to substantiate that; and if the book of Dan. be proven wrong in this matter, then it would seriously undermine its credibility.

    Till:
    Maybe LJ would like to prove to us that Darius the Mede was an actual historical person. Many in these internet forums know that I have been involved in a three-year debate on the book of Daniel in The Skeptical Review. LJ can go here to pick up the beginning of this debate. He will see that the historicity of Darius the Mede has been a major part of this debate and that my opponent has resorted to all sorts of quibbles and far-fetched how-it-could-have-beens to try to prove that Darius was an actual historical character. He did not succeed, and LJ won't either if he should undertake the task.

    LJ:
    The framers of the Statement were apparently advocates of a young earth and a global flood. I know of one American organisation of young-earth creationists--and there are others like them--who stupidly hold and advocate a naive-literal interpretation for Gen.1 and go so far as to say that those who accept a different interpretation should stop describe [sic] themselves as "Bible-believing"!

    Till:
    Oh, we have these guys all over the place in the good old enlightened United States. They cling to their young-earth views because they recognize the truth of what I said above: if they surrender their claim of biblical inerrancy, they will lose any right to claim divine authority in the Bible. Having an authoritative Bible is more important to them than intellectual integrity.

    LJ:
    These sincere but misguided people believe that the earth is only thousands of years old, whereas the rocks of the earth tell a different story.

    Till:
    These sincere but misguided people believe these things because of what the Bible teaches. Why didn't the author of all scientific law do a better job of inspiring the writer of Genesis so that he would have known the scientific facts about the age of the earth and reported it accurately?

    LJ:
    On the other hand, there is absolutely no evidence that biological evolution has ever taken place on earth.

    Till:
    Yeah, right! LJ knows better than the community of scientists worldwide who accept evolution as a scientific fact. He has just shown to us that even though he may not be a biblical inerrantist, he is just as fanatical as they are in opposing a scientific theory that has been almost universally accepted. I can see no reason why he would want to do that except for a desire to prove at least some of the creation accounts to be accurate.

    LJ:
    I believe progressive creation to be the view which is most in harmony with both the scriptural and available scientific data.

    Till: I wonder if LJ would mind presenting to us his biological evidence that "progressive creation" has ever occurred on earth.

    LJ:
    There are certain clues in Gen. 1 which tell you that it should not be taken literally. The purpose of Gen. 1 is twofold: first it tells us that God is the creator; and second, it teaches the sabbath.

    Till: Yes, it does teach the Sabbath, and in one of LJ's favorite passages, Exodus 20, there is a reference to the creation that maybe LJ will want to consider.

    Exodus 20:8 Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 10 But the seventh day is a sabbath to Yahweh your God; you shall not do any work--you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 11 For in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore Yahweh blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.

    The reason given here for the consecration of the Sabbath day, which is a specific day of every week, was that Yahweh had created the heaven and earth in six days and then rested on the Sabbath and consecrated it. The word for day in this passage was yom, the same word that was used for day in the creation story. If yom was a day-night period in Exodus 20, then why wasn't it the same in Genesis 1?

    LJ:
    Those who try to make it a scientific record of how the world came into being, cause damage to the Bible by linking linking Gen.1 with the false view of a young earth, just as much as inerrantists cause damage to the Bible by linking inspiration with inerrancy. The association of Gen. 1 with the false idea of a young earth is as unbiblical as linking inspiration with the false doctrine of inerrancy. And that is something that "errantists," too, should ponder.

    Till:
    Well, don't blame the young-earth creationists. They didn't write the Bible. They just read it and accept what it says, so the question comes back to LJ again. Why didn't the author of all scientific law, who allegedly "inspired" the writer of Genesis, do a better job of guiding him in what he wrote in the Genesis account, so that these glaring scientific mistakes would not have been made? LJ is putting the blame in the wrong place. He should blame this god he worships.

    Genesis was written in prescientific times, and so the writer, doing the best that he could with his prescientific knowledge, simply wrote what seemed right to him at the time. He had no way of knowing how old the earth was, and so he told the story as if the creation had been a recent event.

    That is a far more logical explanation than LJ's apparently metaphorical view.

    LJ [finally resuming the Jehu debate]:

    2 KINGS 9:6-10: Is It a Command or a Prophecy?--Continued: As the readers are aware, my last posting was taken up largely with a digression on inerrancy and they would have also seen FT's replies thereto. I hope to write more on this subject after this debate and further clarify certain matters.

    In the meantime, let us return to our muttons.

    The readers may recall that in the penultimate defense I denied having based my case for 2 Kg. 9:6ff being a prophecy on the use of the Hebrew Perfect in that passage as falsely alleged by FT.

    Till:
    LJ denied this, but in my reply to his "word-in-edgeways" posting (April 9th), I showed that he did base an argument on the Hebrew perfect tense in 2 Kings 9:6ff, so I do wish he would stop accusing me of making false allegations.

    LJ:
    My principal argument for this passage being a prophecy, rather than a command, was that this prophecy parallels that delivered to the future Syrian king Hazael by the same prophet (2 Kg.8:9ff), which, as FT also has acknowledged, is not a command. Hence there is good reason for taking 2 Kg. 9:6ff also as just a prophecy.

    Till:
    Well, actually, the statements to Jehu were made only indirectly to Jehu through a messenger described as a "son of the prophets," whereas Elisha himself went to Hazael. Anyway, I replied to this in my three-part response to LJ's original posting. Readers may consult my reply dated March 25th [Solution (1)] to see my reasons why Elisha's visit to Hazael cannot be considered a parallel to the "son of the prophets'" visit to Jehu. Further along in this posting, LJ attempts again to establish a parallel, but we will see that he failed again.

    [Editorial Note: Readers who scroll back to the beginning of this article and use Hazael in the search window will find the section where I dismantled LJ's claim that Elisha's prophecy spoken to Hazael shows that the "son of the prophets" had uttered a prophecy to Jehu rather than a command.]

    LJ:
    I further said that the verb forms used in 2 Kg.9:6ff by themselves cannot settle the question of whether that passage is only a prophecy or a command and we are both agreed on that.

    Till:
    Well, yes, LJ, admitted that the verb forms couldn't establish prophecy, but that was after he had seen my rebuttal arguments. Prior to that, he had led off his defense with an analysis of the Hebrew verb forms in 2 Kings 9:6ff with the clear intention of showing that prophecy was indicated by the verbs, and I recall no place where he ever said that the tense alone did not establish prophecy. If I'm wrong about this, he may point it out to us, and I will apologize. Readers may see my "Solution (1)" reply dated March 25th to verify that this was one of LJ's opening arguments. I don't see why he can't just admit this, acknowledge that it was a weak argument, and go on to other matters.

    [Editorial Note: That reply can be found at the beginning of this article.]

    LJ:
    FT is guilty of another misrepresentation in saying (I counted three ocassions [sic]) that my solution to the Jehu "problem," i. e., the apparent contradiction between 2 Kg. 10:30 and Hos. 1:4, consists of showing that 2 Kg. 9:6ff is only a prophecy. That is not correct, because it is only the first part of the solution as I explained in my "Outline of the Solution" in the first defense.

    Till:
    Well, I have read through LJ's entire defense of his position, which was originally sent to me in one long 54 K message, and his "Outline of the Solution," as readers may verify, followed this organization: (1) the claim that 2 Kings 9:6ff was a prophecy and not a command, (2) the claim that 2 Kings 9:6ff was "parallel" to Elisha's prophecy of atrocities that Hazael would commit, (3) the claim that Hazael began to fulfill this prophecy but that it wasn't what Yahweh had commanded him to do, and (4) the claim that Jehu was aware that he was fulfilling prophecy.

    Every one of those points was rebutted at length in my reply, but I can't see that LJ is making any attempt at all to reply to my rebuttals. Instead he has complained that I have misrepresented him, answered him "piecemeal," and sent "24 pages" in reply to him, all in addition to his taking us on a 25K tangent to give his personal views on biblical inerrancy. It is time for him to realize that in a debate the participants are expected to answer opposition arguments.

    LJ:
    Even if I succeed in showing that 2 Kg. 9:6ff is only a prophecy of future events, I still have to resolve the apparent contradiction between 2 Kg. 10:30 and Hos. 1:4,

    Till:
    Yes, he does, and so far I have seen no "resolution" of this "apparent contradiction."

    LJ:
    because the former may at first sight appear to be a passage merely commending Jehu for the destruction of the house of Ahab and rewarding him by extending his dynasty to the fourth generation, which would imply that he was blameless in the matter of the massacre of the house of Ahab, whereas Hos.1:4 clearly finds him culpable.

    Till:
    Yes, this is how I understand the passages in question, but we have yet to see reasonable evidence from LJ that this is an incorrect interpretation of the relevant passages.

    LK
    FT maintains that 2 Kg.9:6ff is a command and not a parallel to the prophecy given to Hazael. (At this point I will point out to the readers that, while it is vital for my solution for me to show that 2 Kg. 9:6ff is only a prophecy--or at least show that it is a possible interpretation--it is not absolutely necessary for FT to show that it is a command, because even if he concedes this point to me, my task is not finished yet, even though it is made easier!)

    Till:
    I appreciate LJ's admission that he has a difficult task ahead of him. I suggest that he get started on establishing what he must establish in order to "resolve" this contradiction.

    LJ
    So what are his reasons for taking that position?

    He writes in Part 2 of his reply,

    I showed that the example of Hazael that he [LJ] called a "parallel" to 2 Kings 9:6ff was not actually a parallel, because it lacked the all-important element of a statement from the prophet Elisha that Yahweh had selected Hazael to be anointed king over Syria for the purpose of doing the atrocities that Elisha predicted Hazael would commit against Israel. That element, however, is obviously in 2 Kings 9:6ff, where the "son of the prophets" sent by Elisha poured oil on Jehu, declared him to be Yahweh's anointed king over Israel, and specifically stated that he was to obliterate the house of Ahab.

    To FT, the absence of an anointing ceremony in the case of Hazael makes the prophecy given to him different from the prophecy given to Jehu, where there was an anointing:

    In this [Hazael's] case, there was no anointing of Hazael in the name of Yahweh. Elisha simply made a prophetic statement: Hazael would become king of Aram (Syria) and would commit the atrocities specified" (Part 1 of his reply).

    He then goes on to say that he can accept 2 Kg. 9:6ff as a prophecy only if I can show another passage in the Bible which resembles his "hypothetical revision of Elisha's visit to Hazael."

    Till
    A clarification is needed here. The fact that there was an "anointing" in the case of Jehu in no way establishes that the act of pouring oil onto Jehu's head somehow made the words that the "son of the prophets" spoke a command. The anointing was merely a ceremonial act that to the Hebrew mind meant that one had been selected or chosen by his god Yahweh. The accompaniment of the words spoken by the anointer (described as a "son of the prophets") would therefore indicate to the anointed one that he was receiving a command. The indication of special selection, however, didn't have to be an anointing. It could have been done in other ways.

    The calling of Moses to go deliver the Israelites from bondage would be an example. Yahweh, according to this fanciful little yarn, appeared to Moses in a burning bush. (Now surely the appearance of a god in a burning bush would make the one having the experience think that this was a special occasion and that he too was in some way special.) The voice from the burning bush informed Moses that he should remove the shoes from his feet because he was standing on holy ground, and then the voice announced that he was the god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. With that background established, let's notice what the voice said to Moses.

    Exodus 3:7 And Yahweh said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; 8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come now therefore, and I wil send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. 11 And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? 12 And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.

    The passage continues in this vein with Yahweh saying that you will do this, and I will do that, etc., but Moses certainly didn't think--and no reasonable person could--that Yahweh was just prophesying what would happening. He was clearing commanding Moses to do certain tasks related to leading the Israelites out of Egypt, and the accompanying events (the burning bush, the voice from the bush, etc.) were more than enough to establish to anyone having such an experience that what the voice was saying were intended as commands.

    Now in the case of the anointing of Jehu, this special ceremony by one who was a "prophet" would have signified to the anointed one that the words spoken during the ceremony were commands.

    • Elisha himself had called "one of the sons of the prophets" and ordered him to go to Ramoth-gilead, find Jehu, and anoint him while saying the words, "Thus says Yahweh, 'I have anointed you king over Israel'" (2 Kings 9:1-3).
    • The "son of the prophets" did as Elisha had told him, and immediately after saying the words Elisha had commanded," the "son of the prophets" proceeded to say, "You shall smite the house of Ahab your master..." (vs:6-7).

    Jehu would no more have thought that this "son of the prophets" was just uttering a prophecy than Moses would have thought that Yahweh was just prophesying that Moses would go to pharaoh to demand the freedom of the Israelites. Just as the appearance in the burning bush would have been evidence to Moses that this was a special occasion, that he had been specially chosen, and that Yahweh was telling him things that he should do, so Jehu would certainly have thought that the prophet anointing him was telling him things that he should do.

    If not, why not? That is what LJ needs to explain.

    The parallel that LJ sees in the case of Hazael lacks any event (burning bush, anointing, bright light, whirlwind, etc.) that would have signaled to Hazael that what Elisha was saying to him was the expression of a divine will. To the contrary, the fact that Elisha cried as he was telling Hazael what he could see in Hazael's future would have been the very opposite of a burning bush, anointing, or bright light. The crying scene would have let Hazael know that Elisha was certainly not giving him any kind of command but was merely predicting events that he personally wished would not happen.

    How can LJ see a parallel in this? Well, the answer is obvious, of course. He wants to find at least some degree of historical accuracy in the Bible, and so, even though he claims not to be an inerrantist, he must nevertheless strain the intended meanings of Old Testament passages to find what he wants.

    LJ:
    In Part 2 of his reply FT says,

    The fact that Jehu acted immediately to leave Ramoth-gilead (where the anointing ceremony ocurred) and go to Jezreel to massacre the royal family has to be seen as evidence that, as this story was written, Jehu understood that he had received a mandate from Yahweh.

    There are a few other passages of like tenor in FT's replies (1), (2) and (3) and I must tell the readers that of the no less than 24 pages that FT has written in reply to Point 1 of my solution--

    Till:
    Well, maybe if LJ would try to answer my arguments point by point as I did to his, his output would be somewhat more than it is. As a matter of fact, my output has been only about equal to his. If readers will check his first posting, they will see that it was 34K in length. My replies (1, 2, and 3) were 27, 30, and 11 K (respectively) in length. That totals 68K. Since I do not snip my opponent's comments, all 34K of LJ's posting were included in my replies, so that means that I my replies took no more space than his posting.

    Where is his reason to complain about how much I have posted in reply to him?

    LJ:
    I had to take printouts and wade through all those pages to identify the relevant points--the abovementioned points are his reasons really relevant to the debate for not accepting 2 Kg. 9:6ff as merely a prophecy.

    Till:
    Maybe if LJ would actually try to answer my arguments, I too would have to make printouts and wade through them. As for relevance, I find that biblicists have a way of skipping over or snipping materials from their opponents' postings and dismissing them as "irrelevant." I have answered him point by point and included in my answers everything he has said. I would appreciate the same consideration from him. Even in replying to his 25K, off-topic posting about his personal views on inerrancy, I replied to everything he posted.

    LJ:
    So if I were to summarise FT's main reason for denying that the prophecy delivered to Hazael is a parallel to delivered to Jehu, it would be this: whereas in the prophecy delivered to Jehu the prediction that he would destroy the house of Ahab is immediately preceded by an anointing ceremony followed by an explicit statement to the effect that Yahweh had chosen him to be king ("I have anointed thee king over the people of the Lord..."), the prophecy to Hazael has no immediately preceding explicit statement that Yahweh had chosen him to be king of Syria (plus an anointing ceremony). Therefore the former has to be a command, but the latter is only a prophecy.

    Till:
    Readers may see my comments above, where I explained that the anointing ceremony was only an event indicating divine intervention, as in the case of the burning bush (Moses) and the whirlwind (Job) and the bright light (Paul), but that Elisha's visit to Hazael lacked anything comparable. To the contrary, it included an overt expression of grief and dismay at what Elisha could allegedly see in Hazel's future.

    There is nothing comparable to the anointment (sign of divine approval) in the Hazael example, so why would Hazael have had any reason to think that he was being commanded to do the things that Elisha only said that he could see in Hazael's future? It's easy for biblicists to find parallels when they need parallels to support an attempt to establish accuracy in the Bible.

    Go to Part Two.
     



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