Posted by: edhensley | March 10, 2014

John And The Bed Bugs

This is a scene from The Acts Of John, St. John Raising Dusiana From The Dead, that was painted in a chapel around 1300 CE by Giotto. This is an example of the popularity and endurance of Christian Apocrypha.

This is a scene from The Acts Of John, St. John Raising Dusiana From The Dead, that was painted in a chapel in 1320 CE by Giotto. This is an example of the popularity and endurance of Christian Apocrypha.

The Acts Of John

60 Now on the first day we arrived at a deserted inn, and when we were at a loss for a bed for John, we saw a droll matter. There was one bedstead lying somewhere there without coverings, whereon we spread the cloaks which we were wearing, and we prayed him to lie down upon it and rest, while the rest of us all slept upon the floor. But he when he lay down was troubled by the bugs, and as they continued to become yet more troublesome to him, when it was now about the middle of the night, in the hearing of us all he said to them: I say unto you, O bugs, behave yourselves, one and all, and leave your abode for this night and remain quiet in one place, and keep your distance from the servants of God. And as we laughed, and went on talking for some time, John addressed himself to sleep; and we, talking low, gave him no disturbance (or, thanks to him we were not disturbed).

Assumption Of Saint John, also a scene from The Acts Of John by Giotto in 1320.

Assumption Of Saint John, also a scene from The Acts Of John by Giotto in 1320.

61 But when the day was now dawning I arose first, and with me Verus and Andronicus, and we saw at the door of the house which we had taken a great number of bugs standing, and while we wondered at the great sight of them, and all the brethren were roused up because of them, John continued sleeping. And when he was awaked we declared to him what we had seen. And he sat up on the bed and looked at them and said: Since ye have well behaved yourselves in hearkening to my rebuke, come unto your place. And when he had said this, and risen from the bed, the bugs running from the door hasted to the bed and climbed up by the legs thereof and disappeared into the joints. And John said again: This creature hearkened unto the voice of a man, and abode by itself and was quiet and trespassed not; but we which hear the voice and commandments of God disobey and are light-minded: and for how long?

This scene from the Acts of John shows John raising Dusiana from the dead is part of the Santa Maria Novella, painted in 1487-1502 in  Strozzi Chapel, Florence.

This scene from the Acts of John shows John raising Dusiana from the dead is part of the Santa Maria Novella, painted in 1487- 1502 in Strozzi Chapel, Florence.

I admit that the above passage is not in any modern bible. But passages such as this one were considered sacred by many Christians for centuries. This passage is a part of The Acts Of John. Although some might deem this story too silly to be in the bible, it is no more silly than a talking snake (Genesis) , a talking donkey (Numbers 22), dead people coming out of their graves and roaming Jerusalem (Matthew 27), or Paul shaking a poisonous snake into a fire (Acts 28).

During a recent discussion with a Christian apologist on this blog, it was claimed that Christians knew early on what texts were legitimate and which texts were apocryphal. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The first New Testament Canon was written in 144 CE by Marcion, who was considered a heretic by the groups that would become orthodox. His canon included 10 letters of Paul and the gospel of Luke (allegedly written by Paul’s assistant), and it explicitly rejected the Old Testament, Matthew and John. Marcionites rejected the Old Testament, believed in 2 gods (1 Jewish and 1 Christian), Jesus was completely divine (not human at all), and that Paul was the one true apostle to whom Jesus appeared after his death because the 12 apostles were not leading properly (due to their being Jews). Marcion’s canon spurred the proto-orthodox Christians to start creating their own lists.

Around 180 CE, Christian Bishop Iranaeus wrote Against Heresies to debunk the theology of the Gnostics. It is in this book that we get the first selection of four and only four gospels. His logic is ridiculous.

“It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For, since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is scattered throughout all the world, and the pillar and ground of the Church is the Gospel and the spirit of life; it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side, and vivifying men afresh. From which fact, it is evident that the Word, the Artificer of all, He that sits upon the cherubim, and contains all things, He who was manifested to men,has given us the Gospel under four aspects, but bound together by one Spirit.” (Against Heresies, 3:11:8)

The first complete listing of the 27 books of the New Testament did not occur until 367 CE in a letter from Athanasius. The oldest collection of these 27 books, the Codex Sinaiticus, also includes The Shepherd Of Hermas and The Epistle Of Barnabas. These two books are not noted to be of lesser consideration than the other 27 books.

Many gospels, letters, acts, apocalypses and other apocryphal Christian books flourished before and after the New Testament canon was finally established. The paintings above from 1320 and around 1487, show that some of these stories were popular thousands of years later.

In addition, there is the issue of Deuterocanonical books. At the time the New Testament was written, the Sepuagint (Greek translation of Hebrew Tanakh, or Old Testament) was considered authoritative. The authors of the New Testament quote from the Septuagint. Jewish leaders started abandoning the Septuagint around 100 CE for multiple reasons, including the desire to rely only on Hebrew texts and the desire to distance Judaism from a rival religion (Christianity) that used the Septuagint. The Masoretic text became the Jewish authoritative text in the middle ages.

To keep this short, Martin Luther did not like some Catholic doctrines that were in Maccabees, among other books. He placed all the books in the Septuagint but not in the Masoretic texts in an apocryphal (doubtful) section (he also doubted NT books Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation). He published his NT in 1522 and his OT in 1534. The Catholic church responded with the Council of Trent in 1546. They created the Deuterocacnon to declare that the books in Luther’s apocrypha were of equal status to the other canonized books. This vote was passed with 24 yes, 15 no, and 16 abstaining.  Only 44% of those attending voted to accept these books as equal, but that has been their status in the Catholic Church ever since. The Eastern Orthodox church also accepts these books (and a few more) as authoritative.

Catholics and Eastern Orthodox claim the Septuagint (LXX) is authoritative (it was used by the apostles; it is older; Jews did not have authority over holy texts after 33 CE, etc.). Protestants claim the Masoretic Text (MT) is authoritative (it is the official text of the Jews). Both sides claim the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) support their scriptures, but the truth is that the DSS shows a very fluid Old Testament up until about 100 CE. Some DSS texts match with MT, some match with LXX, some match with the Samaritan Pentateuch, and some show completely different origins.

Future versions of the protestant bible, including the 1611 King James, followed the pattern established by Luther. Official protestant bibles included the apocryphal books until they were officially removed in the 1895 version of the King James Version. In summary, the protestant bible is more recent than The Origin Of Species, but most protestant Christians have no idea about any of the things I have written about today.

Posted by: edhensley | December 24, 2013

Contradictions in the Christmas Story (Re-posted)

Matthew 1

The Genealogy of Jesus

1A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:

2Abraham was the father of Isaac,

16and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

17Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.

The Birth of Jesus Christ

18This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23″The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” —which means, “God with us.”

24When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Matthew 2

The Visit of the Magi

1After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”

3When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5″In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

6″ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;

for out of you will come a ruler

who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’”

7Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

9After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

The Escape to Egypt

13When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” 14So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

16When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, andhe gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

18″A voice is heard in Ramah,

weeping and great mourning,

Rachel weeping for her children

and refusing to be comforted,

because they are no more.”

The Return to Nazareth

19After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”

21So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22Butwhen he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene.”

Luke 2

The Birth of Jesus

1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.

4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14″Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.




Jesus Presented in the Temple

21On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.

22When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

25Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

29″Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,

you now dismiss[d] your servant in peace.

30For my eyes have seen your salvation,

31which you have prepared in the sight of all people,

32a light for revelation to the Gentiles

and for glory to your people Israel.”

33The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

36There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.[e] She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

39When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.

Luke 3

23Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph,24the son of Matthat, the son of Heli, …

I decided to re-post a blog about contradictions in the Christmas story. The portion below this paragraph are the original. In addition to obvious contradictions, the story is contradicted by history (timelines of Herod and Quirinius discussed below) and contains events that should be recorded by other historians but are not (slaughter of the innocents, star of Bethlehem, census requiring people to register in the home of their ancestors 1000 years earlier, etc).


These two stories contain many internal contradictions (they conflict with each other) and external contradictions (they conflict with know facts of history). I will demonstrate these contradictions to my Christian friends in the hope that they will become enlightened this holiday season.

As Dr. Bart Ehrman notes in his books, most Christians do not believe in a gospel, but rather they believe in a “super gospel.”  The Christmas story is an example of a story from a “super gospel.”  There is no gospel in the New Testament where both wise men and shepherds visit Jesus. The wise men visit in Matthew and the shepherds visit in Luke. By combining these two separate stories, Christians create a “super story.”  The authors of Matthew and Luke probably never imagined that their two books would be placed next to each other (and Mark and John) in a single collection of books. Each author took existing legends of Jesus and adapted the legends for their particular agendas.


As previously noted (, the genealogies of Jesus are completely different. In Matthew, Jacob is the father of Joseph, but in Luke, Heli is the father of Joseph. The lists from David to Joseph are completely different.

Jesus is not Immanuel

Matthew 1:22 says the parents will name the baby Immanuel in fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14. That verse, however is not a messianic prophecy but mentions a baby as a sign for Ahaz. Furthermore the Hebrew Masoretic text and most translations of the bible indicate that the virgin whill call the baby Immanuel. Mary does not do that, and nowhere in the New Testament is Jesus ever called Immanuel.  Please see the followig post for more information on that topic:

Herod (reign ended 4 BC) and Quirinius (reign started 6 AD) never reigned at the same time

Matthew claims Jesus was born during the reign of King Herod. Luke claims Jesus was born while Quirinius was governor of Assyria. However, Herod died 10 years before Quirinius became governor. Either Matthew or Luke is wrong on this issue, or they are both wrong. Only one the is certain: the Bible contains an error regarding the year Jesus was born.

Massacre of the Innocents not recorded in history

Matthew claims Herod killed all boys near Bethlehem who were 2 or under. No other gospel makes this claim. There is no evidence outside the Bible of any atrocity like this. Historians recorded many things about Herod. We know he was born around 74 BC, that he died in 4 BC, and that he expanded the 2nd Temple in Jerusalem (destroyed in 70 AD but 4 walls, including the famous wailing wall, exit today). It is recorded that he improved water sources, built water supplies, built Massada and Herodium, leased copper mines, killed his wife and two sons, and did much else. The massacre of the innocents is missing from any historical record. There are many amazing stories in the bible that are not recorded in historical records.

The senseless census is not recorded in history

There is a historical census recorded during the time of Quirinius.  However, that census and no other Roman census ever required anyone to return to their ancestral homes. If you think about it, why would anyone care where your ancestors lived 1000 years ago? And what if you had ancestors that came from multiple locations, as most people would probably have? If I had to return to my ancestral home of 1000 years ago, I would have to go to England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, and Spain at least.

Luke has no Trip to Egypt, Matthew has no trip to Jerusalem

In Matthew, Jesus is born in Bethlehem, they flee immediately to Egypt, and upon their return from Egypt they travel directly to Nazareth to avoid the son of Herod.

In Luke, Mary and Joseph start in Nazareth, travel to Bethlehem for a census, go to Jerusalem, and then return to their home town of Nazareth.

Many apologists try to create a super story in which they combine the travel of the two stories above into one journey. This is impossible. Luke specifically mentions circumcision on the eighth day and the required purification time. This refers to Leviticus 12, which states when a boy is born the mother is unclean for 7 days, the foreskin is removed on the 8th day, and she must not touch holy objects for 33 days (if Jesus were a girl, Mary would be unclean for 14 days and could not touch holy objects for 66 days).  Luke 39 notes that when this 33 day period was complete they returned to Galilee.  A trip to Egypt is not mentioned at all!

Posted by: edhensley | December 17, 2013

Contradiction When Jesus Curses a Fig Tree

Mark 11 (New International Version)

Jesus Curses a Fig Tree and Clears the Temple Courts

12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”

18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples[e] went out of the city.

20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”

22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly[f] I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” [26] [g]

[e]Mark 11:19 Some early manuscripts came, Jesus
[f]Mark 11:23 Some early manuscripts “If you have faith in God,” Jesus answered, 23 “truly
[g]Mark 11:26 Some manuscripts include here words similar to Matt. 6:15.

Matthew 21 (New International Version)

Jesus at the Temple

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”

14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.

16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.

“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,

“‘From the lips of children and infants
you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”

17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

Jesus Curses a Fig Tree

18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.

20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked.

21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

Matthew 21 (New King James Version)

The Fig Tree Withered

18 Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away.

The Lesson of the Withered Fig Tree

20 And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?”

21 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. 22 And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

It has been a few months since my last post. I have been doing more in promoting the atheist community in Louisville and Kentucky. These activities, such as the state fair booth and the Kentucky Freethought Convention, are about promoting something true and good (atheism), while this website is more about demonstrating that something (the bible) is not accurate. I enjoy promoting what is positive more than demonstrating something is in error.

However, after continuous comments from readers and noticing that this blog is constantly receiving 300 to 400 hits per day, I decided to have at least one new post per month. I have decided to blog about biblical contradictions as well as “bible verses rarely read on Sunday.”

In the two passages above, there is a clear contradiction on the timing of the withering of the fig tree. In Mark 11 Jesus curses the fig tree, drives out capitalists from the Temple, and his disciples notice the tree is withered the next morning. In Matthew 21 Jesus drives the capitalists out of the Temple, then he curses the fig tree and it “immediately” withers. Both stories can not be literally true.

Another problem is that all-knowing Christian god did not know that it was not the season for figs to appear on fig trees. Jesus “went to find out if it had any fruit“, which clearly means he did not know whether or not it had fruit. Another question raised is why did Jesus curse this tree? Was he angry at the tree? And one more claim of this verse is that if “if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.”  If any Christian apologist can cause Mount Everest to be thrown into the sea, I will stop this blog and concede that the bible is the inerrant word of god. I am not worried about losing this challenge, but I still challenge all those who comment on this blog to prove me wrong.

Now I will get into another reason why I have not blogged so much. Christian apologists are some of the most dishonest people I have ever met. They are first and foremost dishonest to themselves. If they read these verses in the Koran, they would be the first to scream about how the Koran has a contradiction. But because they read this contradiction in the bible, they go to extravagant lengths to make up excuses for the contradiction.

Two examples of Christian apologies (the first two to pop up in Google) include Christian Courier ( and Answers in Genesis ( In regards to the timing of the fig tree withering, both of them talk about Mark being chronological and Matthew being “topical”. They claim Mark has the correct sequence of events in regards to what happens on what day and that Matthew is simply putting the fig tree lesson as a topic separate from the Temple events. However, let us review the Matthew verses to see if it is also implying a chronology.

12 Jesus entered the temple courts…17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night…18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city…Immediately the tree withered.

Both apologists are incorrect when they claim that Matthew was not listing events in a specific chronology. The author of Matthew uses multiple phrases to indicate a specific order of events, and the order of events in Matthew clearly contradicts the order of events in Mark.

The apologists make multiple assertions that are unsupported by the verses. They both claim that the tree does or could represent Israel.

Observing this fruitless tree, Jesus pronounced a “curse” (i.e., a withering judgment) upon the tree as a symbolic preview of that punishment which ultimately would befall the Hebrew nation (A.D. 70).

Many scholars believe the fig tree represented Israel, or at least her leaders in Jerusalem, since fruitless fig trees are often used symbolically in reference to judgment (Jeremiah 8:13; Joel 1:7). If this is accurate then Jesus was showing what would soon come to pass as God’s judgment would fall on the nation.

However, the verses say nothing about the tree representing Israel. As previously noted, Jesus “went to find out if it had any fruit”.  The bible does NOT say he want out to the tree to teach a lesson about Israel. These apologists are basically saying “the bible means what we say it means, not what it says.”

I included the New King James Version of Matthew 21, because it divides the fig tree story into “The Fig Tree Withered” and “The Lesson Of The Fig Tree Withered.”  Bible publishers do all kinds of things to make the bible echo the doctrines of the publishers, and they also do things to try to eliminate contradictions (i.e. Yahweh and Elohim are both translated as god in the flood story; sub-headings are added to Matthew and Luke nativity stories to mask contradictions; etc). This could be what the NKJV publishers did by separating these five verses (18-22) into two sections.

Lastly, regarding the ignorance of Jesus concerning fig trees, Answers in Genesis wrote

I can just imagine the disciples thinking, “That was strange. Jesus should know that figs come later in the season.” Of course, Jesus knew that—He created the fig tree.

However, the claims of the apologist are once again contradicted by the words of the bible: “Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit.” If he knew “that figs come later in the season”[Answers in Genesis] then he would not need to “find out if it had any fruit”[bible].

Last of all, I included some of the footnotes in the NIV verses to show examples of how manuscripts deviate from each other. There are hundreds of thousands of different variations of text in early New Testament manuscripts. I recommend reading Misquoting Jesus or Jesus Interrupted by Bart Ehrman for further information on manuscript variation.

Please keep the comments brief and focused on theses verses.

Posted by: edhensley | March 18, 2013

Goliath Killed At Least Two Times

David's stone hits Goliah, 1 Sam 17

David’s stone hits Goliah, 1 Sam 17

1 Samuel 17

English Standard Version (ESV)

David and Goliath

17 Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle. And they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered, and encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in line of battle against the Philistines. And the Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six[a] cubits[b] and a span.He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels[c] of bronze. And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. 7 The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron. And his shield-bearer went before him.

David decapitates Goliath, 1 Sam 17

David decapitates Goliath, 1 Sam 17

48 When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49 And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.

50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. 51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistineand took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.

  1. 1 Samuel 17:4 Hebrew; Septuagint, Dead Sea Scroll and Josephus four

  2. 1 Samuel 17:4 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters

  3. 1 Samuel 17:5 A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams

Elhanan kills Goliath

Elhanan kills Goliath

2 Samuel 21

English Standard Version (ESV)

18 After this there was again war with the Philistines at Gob. Then Sibbecai the Hushathite struck down Saph, who was one of the descendants of the giants. 19 And there was again war with the Philistines at Gob, and Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim, the Bethlehemite, struck down Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.[c] 20 And there was again war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand, and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number, and he also was descended from the giants. 21 And when he taunted Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimei, David’s brother, struck him down. 22 These four were descended from the giants in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.

Elhanan kills the brother of Goliath

Elhanan kills the brother of Goliath

1 Chronicles 20

English Standard Version (ESV)

And after this there arose war with the Philistines at Gezer. Then Sibbecai the Hushathite struck down Sippai, who was one of the descendants of the giants, and the Philistines were subdued. And there was again war with the Philistines, and Elhanan the son of Jair struck down Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beamAnd there was again war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number, and he also was descended from the giants. And when he taunted Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea, David’s brother, struck him down. These were descended from the giants in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.

I chose the English Standard Version of the bible because it gives a literal translation of 2 Samuel 21. Other translations, including the King James Version, admit that the translators altered the phrase “struck down Goliath” to “struck down the brother of Goliath.”   Let’s look at the New International Version:

2 Samuel 21

New International Version (NIV)

19 In another battle with the Philistines at Gob, Elhanan son of Jair[c] the Bethlehemite killed the brother of[d] Goliath the Gittite, who had a spear with a shaft like a weaver’s rod.

2 Samuel 21:19 See 1 Chron. 20:5; Hebrew does not have the brother of.

Notice that the footnote states “Hebrew does not have the brother of.  Yet, most translations, including the King James Version, add words that are not in the source texts! They add these words to prevent an obvious contradiction. If you take the original texts at face value, there is at least one contradiction, possibly 2 contradictions.

How do biblical literalists resolve these issues? First of all, some note that the giants in 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles are different from the giant in 1 Samuel. In 1 Samuel, David is a young boy. He becomes king in 2 Samuel 2. So by 2 Samuel 21, much time has passed.  The giant from Gath named Goliath in 2 Samuel is a different giant named Goliath from Gath than the one in 1 Samuel. That is fine, except for the odd statement in ALL THREE PASSAGES that the shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam. So to avoid contradictions, biblical literalists claim that the giant named Goliath from Gath with a spear shaft like a weaver’s beam in 1 Samuel 17 is different from the giant named Goliath from Gath with a spear shaft like weaver’s beam in 2 Samuel 21.

But even if we permit giant Goliaths from Gath with spear shafts like weaver’s beams to be two different people, we still have a disagreement between 2 Samuel 21 and 1 Chronicle 20. These two stories are obviously the same story, 2 Samuel says Elhanan killed Goliath, and 1 Chronicles says Elhanan killed Lahmi the brother of Goliath. This contradiction is only corrected by rewriting the original text. This is one example of the many kinds of liberties translators take when creating an English (or any other modern language) version of a bible. Words are often added, removed, and altered in order to preserve doctrinal beliefs and traditional views.

Posted by: edhensley | January 2, 2013

Murder of Saul’s Descendants Pleases God

2 Samuel 21

New International Version (NIV)

The Gibeonites Avenged

During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years; so David sought the face of the Lord. The Lord said, “It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death.”

The king summoned the Gibeonites and spoke to them. (Now the Gibeonites were not a part of Israel but were survivors of the Amorites; the Israelites had sworn to spare them, but Saul in his zeal for Israel and Judah had tried to annihilate them.) 3 David asked the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? How shall I make atonement so that you will bless the Lord’s inheritance?”

The Gibeonites answered him, “We have no right to demand silver or gold from Saul or his family, nor do we have the right to put anyone in Israel to death.”

“What do you want me to do for you?” David asked.

They answered the king, “As for the man who destroyed us and plotted against us so that we have been decimated and have no place anywhere in Israel, let seven of his male descendants be given to us to be killed and their bodies exposed before the Lord at Gibeah of Saul—the Lord’s chosen one.”

So the king said, “I will give them to you.”

The king spared Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul,

because of the oath before the Lordbetween David and Jonathan son of

Saul. But the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, whom she had borne to Saul, together with the five sons of Saul’s daughter Merab,[a] whom she had borne to Adriel son of Barzillai the Meholathite. He handed them over to the Gibeonites, who killed them and exposed their bodies on a hill before the Lord. All seven of them fell together; they were put to death during the first days of the harvest, just as the barley harvest was beginning.

10 Rizpah daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on a rock. From the beginning of the harvest till the rain poured down from the heavens on the bodies, she did not let the birds touch them by day or the wild animals by night. 11 When David was told what Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, Saul’s concubine, had done, 12 he went and took the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from the citizens of Jabesh Gilead. (They had stolen their bodies from the public square at Beth Shan, where the Philistines had hung them after they struck Saul down on Gilboa.) 13 David brought the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from there, and the bones of those who had been killed and exposed were gathered up.

14 They buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the tomb of Saul’s father Kish, at Zela in Benjamin, and did everything the king commanded. After that, God answered prayer in behalf of the land.


God tells David that Israel’s famine is due to Saul’s treatment of the Gibeonites. David asks the Gibeonites what they need to atone for Saul’s atrocities, and they ask for 7 of Saul’s male descendants to be killed. David grants their wishes, and then God ends the famine.

As a child, I was told that Christianity was a moral religion, unlike the ancient and barbaric pagan religions that demanded human sacrifice. It was primitive savages who believed their gods would grant good crops if they killed people. This passage contradicts what the idea that the Christian god is not a petty tyrant.  I can understand killing someone who does something wrong (like Hitler). I can not understand how killing innocent children makes a god happy.

Posted by: edhensley | September 15, 2012

Contradictions on Women in Corinthians

1 Corinthians 11 (NIV)

I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.

A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.

1 Corinthians 14 (NIV)

26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret.28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.

29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.

34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the lawsays. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.[g]

36 Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command.38 But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored.

39 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

[g] 1 Corinthians 14:35 In a few manuscripts these verses come after verse 40.

The bible is very unkind to women and has greatly contributed to gender discrimination. Yes, their are exceptions like Deborah in the Old Testament, who was a judge prior to the reign of kings in Israel. But most verses on women from Genesis to Revelation view them as inferior servants for men.

1 Cor 11 says that IF a women prays or prophecies, then she should cover her head.

1 Cor 14 says that “women should remain silent in the church…it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in church.

How can a woman pray or prophecy if she is not permitted to speak? Apologists spin all over the place on this contradiction, but some biblical scholars have another explanation: 1 Cor 14:34-35 were inserted into the manuscripts by later scribes and were not a part of the original. There evidence is shown by footnote g above from (and also in hard copies of the NIV). These verses appear in different locations in different ancient manuscripts. Also, the two verses on women in the middle of 1 Cor 14 have little to do with the rest of 1 Cor 14:26-40, which is about prophecy in the church. There is more continuity if the verses on women are removed.

It is a fact that New Testament texts were altered by scribes, often for doctrinal reasons. This is covered in “Misquoting Jesus” and “Jesus Interrupted” by bible scholar Bart Ehrman. There are over 200,000 variations of the New Testament in ancient manuscripts, which means there are more variations among manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament.

My first wedding featured Southern Baptists, Holiness Pentecostals, and Mennonites. The Mennonites were very strict about women not speaking in church, keeping their heads covered, women never cutting their hair, and women not having authority over men. The Holiness Pentecostal women also did not cut their hair or have authority over men, but they could speak in church and they did not keep their heads covered. The Baptists pretty much ignored these verses, except they never let women be pastors in the churches. Baptists would say the verses do not say “women can’t get hair cuts at all”, but the Pentecostals would say otherwise, noting that Paul (the assumed author) adds “we have no other practice – nor do the Churches of God.”  That is a pretty strong statement! Yet most Christian sects permit short-haired women today. They simply ignore this verse.

What is worse is that these Christians make a huge deal out of the length of women’s hair. The Holiness Pentecostals sneer with derision at Pentecostals and other “so-called Christians” who let women cut their hair. Then they make excuses for letting women speak in church and not requiring women to cover their heads. Christians should either follow the entire bible or they should openly admit that they are doing whatever they want and then justifying the bible to fit their personal choices.

Then there is the matter of women’s relationship with men. This is a much more serious problem than the length of hair and wearing head covers. It is not be accident that the atheist Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the agnostic Susan B. Anthony were the pioneers of women’s voting rights. Anthony said, “I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.” Stanton said, “The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of women’s emancipation.”  I can not say it any better.

Posted by: edhensley | June 16, 2012

Ezekiel’s False Prophecy Against Egypt

Ezekiel 29

New International Version (NIV)

A Prophecy Against Egypt

Judgment on Pharaoh

29 In the tenth year, in the tenth month on the twelfth day, the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face against Pharaoh king of Egypt and prophesy against him and against all Egypt. Speak to him and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:

“‘I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt,
    you great monster lying among your streams.
You say, “The Nile belongs to me;
    I made it for myself.”
But I will put hooks in your jaws
    and make the fish of your streams stick to your scales.
I will pull you out from among your streams,
    with all the fish sticking to your scales.
I will leave you in the desert,
    you and all the fish of your streams.
You will fall on the open field
    and not be gathered or picked up.
I will give you as food
    to the beasts of the earth and the birds of the sky.

Then all who live in Egypt will know that I am the Lord.

“‘You have been a staff of reed for the people of Israel. When they grasped you with their hands, you splintered and you tore open their shoulders; when they leaned on you, you broke and their backs were wrenched.[a]

“‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will bring a sword against you and kill both man and beast. Egypt will become a desolate wasteland. Then they will know that I am the Lord.

“‘Because you said, “The Nile is mine; I made it, ” 10 therefore I am against you and against your streams, and I will make the land of Egypt a ruin and a desolate waste from Migdol to Aswan, as far as the border of Cush.[b] 11 The foot of neither man nor beast will pass through it; no one will live there for forty years. 12 I will make the land of Egypt desolateamong devastated lands, and her cities will lie desolate forty years among ruined cities. And I will disperse the Egyptians among the nations and scatter them through the countries.

13 “‘Yet this is what the Sovereign Lord says: At the end of forty years I will gather the Egyptians from the nations where they were scattered. 14 I will bring them back from captivity and return them to Upper Egypt, the land of their ancestry. There they will be a lowly kingdom. 15 It will be the lowliest of kingdoms and will never again exalt itself above the other nations. I will make it so weak that it will never again rule over the nations. 16 Egypt will no longer be a source of confidencefor the people of Israel but will be a reminderof their sin in turning to her for help.Then they will know that I am the Sovereign Lord.’”

  1. Ezekiel 29:7 Syriac (see also Septuagint and Vulgate); Hebrew and you caused their backs to stand
  2. Ezekiel 29:10 That is, the upper Nile region


10 Behold, therefore I am against thee, and against thy rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia.

11 No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years.

This passage is interesting for a number of reasons. First of all, the prophecy has not come true. Egypt has never been uninhabited, especially not for 40 years. There are several ways apologists get around this. Some claim that the prophecy has yet to be fulfilled. Christians making this claim do not realize that this makes any prophecy that does not include an exact date as unfalsifiable.

Others claim that it was not all of Egypt, but only a certain portion of Egypt or other countries (Elephatine, Cush, Ethiopia, etc). They use confusion about verse 10. Notice the extreme differences in the NIV and KJV about the locations listed in verse 10. The NIV says “from Migdol to Aswan, as far as the border of Cush”.  The KJV says “from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia”. There are 3 different locations in the NIV (Migdol, Aswan, and Cush) and two different locations in the KJV (Syene and Ethiopia). What is going on here?

Syene is the ancient name for Aswan. Cush and Ethiopia are essentially the same thing. But what about Migdol? Migdol is a term that can mean  tower (from its size or height), an elevated stage (a rostrum or pulpit), or a raised bed (within a river).  So is Migdol a town or a tower? Migdol has been translated both ways. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, the text should read “from Magdolon [the northern frontier city of Egypt] to Syene [the southern boundary].”  So I will go with the Jewish Encyclopedia that this refers to the northern frontier to southern boundary of Egypt. Verse 2 also says that this prophecy is against all Egypt, not just part of it. But there has never been any part of Egypt that has been uninhabited by people and animals for 40 years.

Apologies for this passage are all over the place, and are evolving. The recent events in Egypt are supposedly fulfilling this prophecy now (,

 I will make a prophecy. 100 years from now there will be Christians claiming that world events are fulfilling biblical prophecies and that the return of Jesus is imminent. I believe that my prophecy has a better chance of coming true than the prophecy in Ezekiel 29.

Judges 3

New International Version (NIV)

12 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and because they did this evil the LORD gave Eglon king of Moab power over Israel. 13 Getting the Ammonites and Amalekites to join him, Eglon came and attacked Israel, and they took possession of the City of Palms.[Jericho]14The Israelites were subject to Eglon king of Moab for eighteen years.

 15 Again the Israelites cried out to the LORD, and he gave them a deliverer—Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera the Benjamite. The Israelites sent him with tribute to Eglon king of Moab. 16 Now Ehud had made a double-edged sword about a cubit [18 inches] long, which he strapped to his right thigh under his clothing. 17 He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab, who was a very fat man. 18 After Ehud had presented the tribute, he sent on their way those who had carried it. 19But on reaching the stone images near Gilgal he himself went back to Eglon and said, “Your Majesty, I have a secret message for you.”

Ehud cannot pull his sword from Eglon.

Ehud cannot pull his sword from Eglon.

   The king said to his attendants, “Leave us!” And they all left.

 20 Ehud then approached him while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his palace and said, “I have a message from God for you.” As the king rose from his seat, 21 Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly. 22 Even the handle sank in after the blade, and his bowels discharged. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it. 23 Then Ehud went out to the porch; he shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.

Eglon's bowels discharge.

Eglon's bowels discharge.

 24 After he had gone, the servants came and found the doors of the upper room locked. They said, “He must be relieving himself in the inner room of the palace.” 25They waited to the point of embarrassment, but when he did not open the doors of the room, they took a key and unlocked them. There they saw their lord fallen to the floor, dead.

 26 While they waited, Ehud got away. He passed by the stone images and escaped to Seirah. 27When he arrived there, he blew a trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went down with him from the hills, with him leading them.

 28“Follow me,” he ordered, “for the LORD has given Moab, your enemy, into your hands.” So they followed him down and took possession of the fords of the

Israelits kill 10,000 Moabites.

Israelites kill 10,000 Moabites.

Jordan that led to Moab; they allowed no one to cross over. 29 At that time they struck down about ten thousand Moabites, all vigorous and strong; not one escaped. 30That day Moab was made subject to Israel, and the land had peace for eighty years.


 31 After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel.

I do not remember hearing this story in Sunday School, probably because of the level of gore. Once again, the Israelites were bad, so Yahweh let some other country rule them for a while (Moab led by Eglon). When the Israelites call on Yahweh, he gets a man to kill the enemies and free the Israelites.

This story is unique in that Eglon is so fat that Ehud’s sword is swallowed by the fat and can not be pulled out. It also includes the wonderful image of Eglon’s bowels discharging. This is another example of Yahweh getting men to do his killing for him. Sometimes he just kills evil people (Onan and Er), but most of the time he orders men to do his killing for him. Yahweh follows the killing of Eglon with the killing of 10,000 Moabites and later 600 Philistines.

Posted by: edhensley | March 12, 2012

Judah and Tamar – Incestuous Ancestors of Jesus

Judah having sex with daughter-in-law Tamar.

Judah having sex with daughter-in-law Tamar.

Genesis 38 (NIV)

Judah and Tamar

 1 At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah. 2 There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. He married her and made love to her; 3 she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, who was named Er. 4 She conceived again and gave birth to a son and named him Onan. 5She gave birth to still another son and named him Shelah. It was at Kezib that she gave birth to him. 6 Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was

 wicked in the LORD’s sight; so the LORD put him to death.

 8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill

  your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother. 10What he did was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so the LORD put him to death also.

 11Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s household until my son Shelah grows up.” For he thought, “He may die too, just like his brothers.” So Tamar went to live in her father’s household.

 12After a long time Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died. When Judah had recovered from his grief, he went up to Timnah, to the men who were shearing his sheep, and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went with him.

 13 When Tamar was told, “Your

Judah wants Tamar burned to death!

father-in-law is on his way to Timnah to shear his sheep,” 14she took off her widow’s clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself, and then sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that, though Shelah had now grown up, she had not been given to him as his wife.

 15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. 16Not realizing that she was his daughter-in-law, he went over to her by the roadside and said, “Come now, let me sleep with you.”

   “And what will you give me to sleep with you?” she asked.

 17“I’ll send you a young goat from my flock,” he said.

   “Will you give me something as a pledge until you send it?” she asked.

 18He said, “What pledge should I give you?”

   “Your seal and its cord, and the staff in your hand,” she answered. So he gave them to her and slept with her, and she became pregnant by him. 19After she left, she took off her veil and put on her widow’s clothes again.

 20 Meanwhile Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite in order to get his pledge back from the woman, but he did not find her. 21He asked the men who lived there, “Where is the shrine prostitute who was beside the road at Enaim?”

   “There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here,” they said.

 22So he went back to Judah and said, “I didn’t find her. Besides, the men who lived there said, ‘There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here.’”

 23Then Judah said, “Let her keep what she has, or we will become a laughingstock. After all, I did send her this young goat, but you didn’t find her.”

Judah wants Tamar burned to death!  24About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result she is now pregnant.”

   Judah said, “Bring her out and have her burned to death!”

 25As she was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. “I am pregnant by the man who owns these,” she said. And she added, “See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are.”

Judah says Tamar is more righteous than he is.

Judah says Tamar is more righteous than he is.

 26Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not sleep with her again.

 27 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 28 As she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand; so the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his wrist and said, “This one came out first.” 29 But when he drew back his hand, his brother came out, and she said, “So this is how you have broken out!” And he was named Perez.30 Then his brother, who had the scarlet thread on his wrist, came out. And he was named Zerah.

There are so many moral problems with this story that I do not know where to start. I guess we should recap last week’s bible story from Genesis 38:1-10. God kills Er, son of Judah, because Er is evil. Judah orders Er’s brother Onan to impregnate Er’s wife, Tamar. Onan refuses to impregnate her, so God kills Onan.

Judah has one more son named Shelah who is not yet grown, so Tamar can not marry him yet and goes to live with her father. Notice that Judah says Shelah may die like his brothers, which means God may kill Shelah like he killed Er and Onan.

Then the story gets even stranger. A long time passes. Judah’s wife dies. Tamar is not married to Shelah so she disguises herself and waits by a temple. Judah thinks she is a temple prostitute, asks her to have sex with him, and she does in exchange for a goat, keeping his seal, cord, and staff as promise of payment.

Tamar gets pregnant. Judah learns his daughter-in-law is pregnant from prostitution and demands she be burned to death. Then he learns she is pregnant by him and declares her more righteous.

Let’s start with temple prostitution. In Hebrew there are two different words used for prostitute, kedeshah and zonah. In Genesis 38:21 and 22, the word kedeshah is used. A kedeshah is a “holy prostitute”, most often associated with the worship of Asherah or Astarte (aka Ishtar), the Syrian Venus. Asherah is known to have been a wife or consort of Yahweh based upon multiple inscriptions found on ancient relics (see Dever, William G. (2005), Did God Have a Wife?: Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israell; also Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts).

irregardless of the nature of the shrine prostitute, Judah wants to have sex with her and does. When he finds out Tamar is guilty of prostitution, he wants to burn her to death! Talk about a double standard!

Judah and Tamar do not seem very moral in this story. However, according to Matthew 1, they are the ancestors of Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus.

 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac,
   Isaac the father of Jacob,
   Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
 3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
   Perez the father of Hezron,

As previously noted, the genealogies of Joseph in Matthew 1 and Luke 3 are so contradictory that some Christians claim Luke’s genealogy is actually that of Mary rather than Joseph (even though the bible says Joseph and shows no evidence of Mary). Either way, the bible shows in Genesis 38 and Matthew 1 that Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, is the progeny of an incestuous relationship between Tamar and the whore mongering father of one of the 12 tribes of Israel, Judah. What a wonderful example of Christian morality!

Posted by: edhensley | March 3, 2012

God Kills Two Brothers

God kills Er.

God kills Er.

Onan spills his seed.
Onan spills his seed.

Genesis 38

New International Version (NIV)

1 At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah. 2 There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. He married her and made love to her; 3 she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, who was named Er. 4 She conceived again and gave birth to a son and named him Onan. 5 She gave birth to still another son and named him Shelah. It was at Kezib that she gave birth to him.6 Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so the LORD put him to death.8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother. 10What he did was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so the LORD put him to death also.

Genesis 38 is a very strange chapter with two bizarre stories. The first involves the brothers Er and Onan.  Er is said to be evil, so the LORD kills him. The bible never says what Er did that was evil. If there were a god who simply killed evil people, then the world would be a better place. Unfortunately, no such god exists, and evil is able to continue until actions are taken by men and women to stop it. This story is just another example of the Old Testament not reflecting what happens in the world. Just as we do not have a god interacting with people today, we do not have a god killing those who do evil.

After the LORD kills Er, Judah orders Onan to impregnate Er’s wife Tamar. Rather than impregnate her, Onan spills his seed on the ground. The LORD then kills Onan for not impregnating Tamar.  A Christian apology for this verse can be found at

The reason God did this is not because Onan wasted his seed on the ground, but because Onan refused to perform his familial duties of producing offspring for his brother’s. This was a great offense at the time. Now, we must realize

God kills Onan.

God kills Onan.

that the culture was very different than ours is today. In that culture, when a man died and left no children, the next of kin was sometimes obligated to “go in to” the wife and produce children. These children were then considered to be the descendents of the original late husband and would be raised as such. This way, the offspring would be able to take care of the mother, provide more people for the community, and thereby raise their own children, continuing the name of that family. Onan knew this and refused to take part in furthering the honor and name of the brother’s wife and thereby also risking provision for her in the future. To this, God was very displeased and took Onan’s life.

First of all, the Christian apologist admits to moral relativism. This is the most frequent excuse for immoral acts by god in the Old Testament. “Back then things were different.”  Then these hypocrits accuse atheists of being moral relativists in regards to things like homosexuality. This “custom” was so important to god that he killed someone who did not follow it. Yet, I know of no apologist who espouses that Christians follow this custom today.

Also, if Er is so evil that he must be killed, why should god care whether or not he has descendants? Does killing Er give him descendants? Does killing Onan give Er (or Onan) descendants?  The killings by god does not in any way provide descendants for Er, which is the supposed reason for the killings.

More than likely, this story (and others) was invented to scare (control) people into making sure that a widow with no children would be able to have children.

This is not the only bizarre story in Gen 38. The adventures of Judah and Tamar come next time.

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