Day 1: Getting Critical

Exodus 1:1-5

Now these are the names of the sons of Israel, who came into Egypt (every man and his household came with Jacob): Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. All the souls who came out of Jacob’s body were seventy souls, and Joseph was in Egypt already.

It’s easy to see that this is a continuation of the book of Genesis. Believe it or not, it has been a popular belief among those who choose to doubt the perfection of the Bible that Moses didn’t actually write the first five books. What we read here should should very familiar, though. If you remember in Genesis a more detailed account was provided in
chapter 46. Again, Moses mentions it in Deuteronomy 10:22.

The reason that a Christian cannot doubt the authorship of the book of Exodus is because Jesus said it was written by Moses (See: Mark 7:10 and Mark 12:26.) So, as believers we know what the truth is about that.

Others have tried to create a problem based on the number of people specified as having come from Jacob to live in Egypt. The basic issue is that very old copies of Exodus found in the Dead Sea area as well as the Greek version at the time of Jesus in Rome said 75 people came from Jacob’s body. As a software engineer, I don’t believe this can prove anything at all. That may sound strange to some, but I know that context is everything when understanding someone’s communication. In software we have to listen a lot and get peoples ideas out of their head and into a very unforgiving computer system. People come from many perspectives and even use the same numbers and words but mean different things based on context. Sometimes, that context is not easy to recognize. I haven’t seen enough information to to prove error here. I tend to believe the simplest likely thing. In this case, I believe that what was written originally really was 75 persons and there was a copy mistake later. Genesis still says 70 people, however, and the difference could be whether or not you add in Joseph’s five grandchildren. That seems pretty simple to me. We don’t have enough information to prove any error in the Bible here, though. I do know that Jacob was to make a blessing concerning Joseph’s grandchildren (See: Genesis 48:5-6). It would not be surprising at all for Moses to recognize this special blessing and show honor through numbers. So you see, context matters in communication and we can’t be dogmatic because it would be presumptuous for us to say we know what the context was and that it is a mistake. It is easy to show that there was a difference, though, and it is easy to show that there are different perspectives too.

What we can see is that nothing the critics say make the Bible any less perfect. It does cause me to take into account the bias of the critics however.