Friday, June 17, 2011

Book of Nehemiah 1-7 New Book, Old Construction

Nehemiah 1-7

We get yet another account of the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.   This one is again devoid of the LORD and therefore devoid of killing!  Make for easier reading by us Atheists!

There is a certain sense of paranoia in this writing, and not without cause.When the Jews start rebuilding the city, the neighboring kingdoms get a little worried, perhaps remembering the past bloodshed brought on by the children of Israel in their bid to claim the promised land.  Is another war just around the corner?

Chapter 7 seems to be full of contradictions with the accounts of Ezra.  I'm sure an apologist can explain why the inspired word of God (as recorded by man) can't keep census numbers straight or do simple addition.
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  1. Coming up in chapter 8, the Watergate hearing!

  2. @Bruce,

    My explanation:

    Ezra 8 the writer is taking his numbers, this is the correct list. In Nehemiah 7 it says he found a register (7:5). The register found mentioned in Nehemiah is wrong. The writer is just recording from a corrupt list. Like i said before the Bible does contain lies. (Genesis 3:4).

  3. @Edward
    I don't believe these are 'lies', just inaccuracies in the story telling. As an historical document this to be expected. I was poking fun at the folks that believe the Bible is 100% the true word of God. Any inaccuracy kind of nullifies the notion that God is all knowing and all powerful.

  4. I think Nehemiah's account sounds a lot more authentic than Ezra's. His mandate was fairly secular: simply to shore up the defences of some backwater post of the Persian empire.

    I really think that at the core of this book is an authentic account by a real dude named Nehemiah.

    Ezra BTW, I can't stand. That bit about sending the foreign wives packing? It actually sickened me. I know a lot of bad stuff has happened in the Bible, and even though I doubt the historicity of the Ezra account, something about that action just really pissed me off in a way the previous horrors didn't.

  5. @Bruce,

    I understand where you're coming from. (i'm in the 100% camp) Yet what is wrong on this account? The only thing i see that would be wrong is if you found the ledger that Nehemiah is using and it has something different. Am i making sense? Now we don't have that ledger so it's kinda hard for us to verify what he is recording here. Now to use Ezra and say see here it's not the same is apples and oranges.

    Any inaccuracy kind of nullifies the notion that God is all knowing and all powerful.

    How does that work? God allows the recording of the errors of man, and somehow now He's not all knowing and all powerful? I believe that if He only recorded the good of man and not man's errors you would get a incorrect view of the followers of God as perfect beings (something i see people doing even with Christians) which i know i'm not.

  6. @Abbie,

    I can't stand. That bit about sending the foreign wives packing?

    I had problems with that as well. I had problems with that last year when i read. I thought what gives, you can't just do that. So ya i had bad feelings from this passage.

    So the thing i think happened was not they all went home and told their wives to take the kids and hit the road. It might have been they went home, told their wives they were going to serve God and not the false gods/idols they had. They could either convert and become a Jew and serve the one true God, or they could separate and she could go her own way. The early Christians ran into the same issue. It's covered in 1 Corinthians 7:12-17.

    However maybe i am hoping for the best in them?

  7. @Edward,
    I think your last post illustrates the dichotomy between Christians and Atheists, and your last sentence states it perfectly.
    You acknowledge that there is injustice in the Bible (the foreign wives, the women and children taken during war, genocide), and you put a positive spin on it. This is not necessarily a bad thing but I think you choose to ignore the sometimes harsh and brutal reality that humans did (and still do) cruel things in the name of a god.
    The term used is "put away", it indicates that the wives and children are separated from the tribe. There is no indication of assimilation.
    The Hebrews took slaves as the spoils of war. They had a system for releasing the slaves after a certain time but they were still slaves. That's what people did. Like it or not.
    Atheists, I think, look at the world/man and see it for what it IS, not what it COULD BE.

  8. @Edward
    Why would God allow human error in the Bible? What purpose would that serve? It would only confuse the message and bring his all knowing power into question. It's clear from reading the Bible that he created a very flawed creature (that's kind of the point of the Bible), but to introduce simple math errors is just poor editing on the part of the Authors.
    As for seeing a ledger from Nehemiah, you don't need to, it's in the Bible! ;-)

  9. @Bruce,

    I hope i'm not misunderstanding you. However you would need the ledger, to be accurate you could not use Ezra to match the numbers. Because there are tribes and their numbers mentioned in Ezra that don't match what is in Nehemiah. So, to say, see it's an error is wrong, because Nehemiah did not say he got his numbers from Ezra. To say it differs from Ezra is true, to say it contradicts Ezra is also true, however to use Ezra and Nehemiah to present a contradiction is an error as i see. As i said before Nehemiah did not say he got his numbers from Ezra but from a ledger.

    To get your math error you would need to know exactly how each person got their total. Seeing that they both give the same total number (Ezra 2:64; Nehemiah 7:66) They must be including more than what they just listed.
    This is a more interesting topic.

    Why would God allow human error in the Bible?

    Why restrict it? Are you speaking for error of man's actions or error in recording, such as these passages in question? I am thinking the latter however i want to clarify. If God restricted these "errors" you would believe, as some do, that the text was compiled or created by one person, because they wouldn't show any variations at all. These "errors", i use that loosely, lead me to believe that they are written by different people inspired by God that think in different ways. This also leads me to see it as being more authentic. If scripture said the exact same thing and did not show any variation i would have a harder time believing it. It would appear to be created by one person or a group of people close to each other in time and space. Now to claim an error would you not then know every variable to the problem?

    What is more interesting is to believe that people before you or i didn't see these. If they wanted to hold to the 100% Word of God why would they leave them in? As you may well know there are a plethora of Bible translations, so things have been removed, added and altered. So why leave these or others in? You may have heard before about religion being a way to control man, these contradictions, as you have pointed out, seem (from your comment) to weaken the power of God, so if it was really man trying to control others by means of God/religion, then what would possess them to leave these and others in? I believe because there not errors or contradictions, just us not keeping things in context, knowing all the facts, or spending the time to study the question more thoroughly.

    I personally don't trust my life to the other translations. :-)

    see Eraseable Bible I don't go to this church, it's just a site that i found the video on. Thought it was funny.

  10. @Edward,
    The contradiction between Ezra and Nehemiah is the point. They are talking about the same thing. But even more to the point adding up their numbers doesn't work out correctly. I assume we were given all the information they had. If not, why would God allow it to be omitted?

    Again what is the reason for including this in the Bible? In the big picture of God's plan, this stuff seems rather petty to begin with but to present incorrect information is puzzling to say the least.
    I don't really want to belabor this. There is a whole lot of real meat to chew on in the up coming books! :-)

    As for your later comments, I agree. The Bible was written and rewritten by many people over hundreds of years. Sounds like maybe you're coming around to accepting that the books of Moses were written by multiple authors! ;-)

    As for it being used by those in power to control others, that is is ONE of the uses for the Bible but not the only one. And remember, 99.9% of men were illiterate up until the 14th century so the Bible was controlled by those in power (kings and priests) and probably wasn't scrutinized the way it is today.

  11. @Bruce,

    No Moses wrote the first 5 books. I am not changing my position on that. :-) And yes we have allot of meat to chew on. I hope we don't choke. :-D

    The Bible was not written and rewritten by many people. It was written by several different people. Now some believe that many people edited it and added their story into it, however i don't. Maybe i should do a post on how the Old Testament was preserved? It's very interesting.

    Bruce you may not like it but some like a good mystery, i know i do. (Romans 16:25 Colossians 2:2,3) I know one day i will have the pleasure of asking this and many more questions. Some i will see if my understanding was correct or not, others i will get enough information to learn the correct answer. Heck i may even be able to ask the guy that wrote it down the first time. :-D

    What i'm saying is that the true reason God allowed this, as far as i see it's a mystery. Something that i don't have an all knowing answer for. I do know that there is a reason for it, i just don't know what it is. I tend to think God enjoys mysteries and that's why He allowed it in with other things as well. Allot has been lost with time, I just want to know when did it become a problem. Granted the people that preserved these texts might have understood what was recorded. You know what i'm saying?

    On scrutinized, these books have been chopped and picked apart more than any other book, and that happened even before 1611. :-) (Acts 17:11) It was built to last, and it has. :-D

  12. Something i wanted to also touch on. As for the "Church" using the Bible to control people, it was the Bible that set men free. The brave souls that risked and some gave their lives to get the preserved Word of God into the hands of the common man, allowed for man to be free from the "church". And those men learned what corruption the "Church" had done to Gods Word. That is also an awesome read. The church feared letting man have the Bible, they knew if they did, their reign over them was at it's end and that's what happened.

    Horace Greeley once said "It is impossible to mentally or socially enslave a Bible-reading people. The principles of the Bible are the groundwork of human freedom."

    Tis so very true.

  13. @Edward,
    WOW, we totally agree on something! Kind of...
    I do believe that once the common man learned to read, the church (I'm guessing by your quotes that you mean the Catholic church) did lose it's ability to rule and influence leaders. I believe that this new found literacy led to the rise of democracy.
    I strongly disagree with Greeley however. I believe that adhering to a religion actually confines man. My questions to you are, Does being a Christian give you freedom to live and act freely or does it require you to live within rigid guidelines? Do you need to pledge allegiance to your god to reap the rewards?
    I understand that you do these things willingly and feel the rewards are well worth it but, you are still locked into a freedom limiting structure.