Reading through the Bible: day 78

Joshua 17 – 21

There’s an unexpected leap. According to the Bible Timeline website these chapters precede the rest of Judges. I’m not sure about the accuracy of the claims of this site, but felt that having these parts first allows us to get some kind of context for the kind of Israel that the Judges had to contend with.

Judges ends with the line, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Indicating that this was time when moral relativism seemed to be the norm. The reason given for this is that without the guidance of a King, the people wouldn’t maintain the moral laws upheld by Moses and Joshua.

There’s probably a lot that can be said about this, but I’m going to carry on the way I have been and address just the contradiction.

The city of Dan

Dan is mentioned as a city in Genesis 14, but apparently only named in the book of the Judges. For liberal Christianity this actually presents no problem, since they believe the Mosaic books were written by numerous (I think 5) authors over many hundreds of years. Their explanation would be that the person who authored Genesis 14:14 came after the incident mentioned in Judges, and just used the new name for what should have been called Laish.

This isn’t helpful for those who believe Moses’ work was respected and unedited. While this sounds like a rationalisation (because it is), the simple answer is, there was another city called Dan that no longer existed when Joshua led the Israelites into Canaan. This isn’t really satisfying, but it is a possibility which should be born in mind before saying there is a contradiction.

What are your thoughts?

Please give the reading through the Bible page a look if you haven’t already, there are some background posts and the index to this reading plan. Share it with others who you think can benefit from Reading the Bible.


One thought on “Reading through the Bible: day 78”

  1. You might be interested in reading about the Deuteronomist editing that appears to have happened from Deuteronomy through Kings. Or even the traditional “Great Synagogue” that collected and edited the Old Testament; probably continuing the Deuteronomist editing that appears to have started with King Josiah, if it didn’t come from refugees of the Northern Kingdom. Or also, traditionally that Ezra and his scribes did all the editing themselves.

    Regardless even the Jews generally agree that these historical parts of the Old Testament have suffered massive revisions and editing, some perhaps inspired and some clearly done for propaganda purposes.

    For instance, while in Judges it is presented that having judges may be a bad thing, Samuel clearly has that having Judges is a good thing and way better then having a King. The editors couldn’t very well edit out those parts of Samuel as they are where the divine commission for the kings comes from and the editors are very clearly pro-monarchy and pro-single worship/temple at Jerusalem.

    I really don’t know how anyone reads through the Old Testament without it being very clear that while there was probably an actual record of Joshua, the book we have of Joshua is made up of parts of that book with parts of other books and massive amounts of edits in between, the same with Samuel and Kings.

    Which isn’t to say that other parts of the Old and (to a lesser extent) New Testaments haven’t suffered from editing but it is less apparent and seems to be more along the lines of rearranging chapters, suppressing chapters, or even just completely suppressing entire books, with the occasional fairly obvious addition of entire chapters thrown in.

    Obviously, this disagrees both with those that believe the Bible to be completely inerrant and those that believe the Bible to be a complete fabrication, but I don’t see either of those positions as being accurate representations of what is in the Bible. It does however agree with what is had in my faiths scriptures, so I will happily take this middle path.

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