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So You Take the Bible Literally, Eh?

Updated on November 13, 2010

A Little Child Shall Lead Them?

The Bible stories you read to your children may be hazardous to their health!
The Bible stories you read to your children may be hazardous to their health!

Get out the calculator...

The following is from

Our bible slam series has continued into the Old Testament's Exodus, and we have reached the point where the Hebrews have left Egypt. Amazingly, their male population is over 600,000. We've featured some calculations that, based on information in the bible and assuming a 1:1 ratio of men and women, indicate that each Jewish-Egyptian woman would need to have an average of 51.6 children with no infant mortality for the numbers to work. This means that from the time the Hebrews first moved to Egypt to the time of their liberation from slavery, each woman would have to be constantly pregnant from ages 15-40 with twins. "The Things You Learned in Sunday School" series continued this week, with a look at Noah and the great flood.

Seems most people won't take the time to follow through. They make claims, they say they know, but then someone comes along to upset the apple cart. Thanks,

Get used to it, people. The Bible is being pruned every day. Eventually, it will become what it was meant to be: a human book for human beings to use against other human beings. Oh, sorry. It already has.

I guess the only solution is take it less seriously, more lightly, with a laugh, a hoot, and very little holler.

And for you scholars out there, you're not fooling anyone. We know you don't really believe the Bible is literal truth. You know that there are so many errors like the one in the above quote, the Bible cannot be taken as any kind of real history. To make that claim anymore is to stand on Fool's Mountain. So, come clean. Be honest. Quit hiding behind the grants, the endowments, and whatever other monies you get by keeping the Great Myth alive. Might as well be dissecting the Wizard of Oz.

You're as blind in all light as you are in all dark!

(For you free thinkers who are still interested in things spiritual, visit the two links connected to this post. Much fun to be had.)


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    • RichardSpeaks profile image

      Richard Kent Matthews 7 years ago from Portland, OR Metro Area

      It would seem that this discussion has been brought abruptly to a conclusion. Too bad. It was just getting interesting...

    • RichardSpeaks profile image

      Richard Kent Matthews 7 years ago from Portland, OR Metro Area

      Two things: Even if I give you the benefit of the doubt and allow that the KJV is IDENTICAL to any original text, OT or NT, that does not necessarily extend to saying that they are truth or are the inerrant Word of God. But I will not give that benefit since you could say that ancient Egyptian or Taoist or Buddhist texts are also direct and precise copies of the originals. In some cases, they ARE the originals. Again, that does not make them Truth with a capital 'T'.

      At any rate, here is a bit of info just from Wikipedia that suggests there are indeed some differences in Masoretic texts, a few insignificant and a few quite significant.

      he MT was primarily copied, edited and distributed by a group of Jews known as the Masoretes between the seventh and tenth centuries CE. Though the consonants differ little from the text generally accepted in the early second century (and also differ little from some Qumran texts that are even older), it has "numerous differences of both greater and lesser significance" when compared to (extant 4th century) manuscripts of the Septuagint, a Greek translation (made in the 3rd to 2nd centuries BCE) of the Hebrew Scriptures that was in popular use in Egypt and Palestine and that is believed by scholars[citation needed] to be the source often quoted in the New Testament.

    • hanging out profile image

      hanging out 7 years ago

      i disagree. The diligence of the masoretics are well documented. The number of copies of texts shows how necessary these texts were thought to be and how well used they were, thusly, how important they were.

      The scholars and translators of old times were in many ways better than the modern day scholars we have today, without tv and distractions galore to sidetrack them many old time scholars knew many languages and had interests only in specialized areas. These old time scholars were dedicated, knowledgeable and narrowly educated. Hort and westcott, on the other hand, 33 degree masons had jesuit/catholic agendas and the NIV sucks because of them, but the kjv translators if you care to research this as i have done, were the best in the land with long lists of qualifications and the method of proofing each division was that the translations were scrutinized at least 7 times by rotating the divisions between the groups, before being considered done.

      I offer this.. give me a king james bible to copy and i will copy it word for word because it is gods word as any christian would strive to do.

    • RichardSpeaks profile image

      Richard Kent Matthews 7 years ago from Portland, OR Metro Area

      The majority of Bible scholars will disagree with you.

    • hanging out profile image

      hanging out 7 years ago

      you treat the bible like its a dr seus book... holy scripture has a way of making people take their job dead seriously and to conduct themselves in a way that demands accuracy. The masoretics who copied the OT would throw away whole sections if ONE error occured. This is not the flippant errancy you describe.

      The bible was not translated every time it was printed lol, the kjv that is printed today is the same kjv as the first copy, the 1611 version is a kjbible. There is no translating going on, once translated, always translated its just been put to print every so often.

      My games of biblical telephone include quoting scripture word for word and john 3:16 always comes back as john 3:16. We are not playing with winnie the pooh stories. I agree that in many languages the bible does not say exactly the same thing... but since christian people are doing the job again i repeat this is not a dr seuss book.. dedicated people are translating.. and unless you see first hand you infer they are making a mess of the job, my money is on their accuracy.

    • RichardSpeaks profile image

      Richard Kent Matthews 7 years ago from Portland, OR Metro Area

      Those who believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God have been using your argument for decades. At one time, the Church declared that the Bible was so distorted after centuries of translation from one language to another that the true authority had to be the Church since the Bible was undependable. The Protestants decided to make the Bible the authority, even though they knew that many changes had been made since the Original Autographs had been written. And here is an interesting point, one with which no one can argue: Even if the Original Autographs were dictated directly from God, we do not have those originals, nor copies of copies of copies of copies of copies of those originals. And anything passing through human minds and human hands will be very different once it gets to its destination. Remember the old childhood game of Telephone? You start with a sentence, pass it along to the next child, and so on, until you get to the end of a line of kids, only to find out that what you started with has been totally changed. Even today, the Bible in its many languages does not say the same exact thing in each one.

      You talk about experience. Here's a good one for you. If you take one of the English renderings of the Bible and translate it into, say, Romanian, and then translate it back into English by a different translator, and then once again translate it back into Romanian, and finally, one more time into English, you will have a different English Bible than when you first started. Guaranteed. If that can happen in just a couple of translation efforts, imagine how much it will change over centuries of translations. And most of those were hand written by scribes who could easily make mistakes, or assume that something wasn't quite right and change it, or simply leave something out when they went on a break. Or, they might not totally understand the nuances of the language from which they were translating, like from Greek to Latin.

      Sorry. I do not and cannot accept the Bible as any real literal Truth. But you are right about one thing: It must be taken on faith because trying to prove it from cover to cover is an impossibility, one even God himself could not breach.


    • hanging out profile image

      hanging out 7 years ago

      and this is the problem of talking to people without faith or belief in the bible. They continue to disbelieve the bible, which is all about God and all about Jesus, but people who lack faith (even as small as a mustard seed) demand proof. The proof is in the pudding as some say. which means: to fully test something you need to experience it yourself. A test can only be done by an experiment. Gods word says salvation is the first step, hence a plan for an experiment. Other than that, God has promised that we shall walk by faith... yknow.. blessed are those who have not seen, whose eyes have not beheld.. (thats us) It bewilders me not that evidence is not plentiful because that would ruin the faith walk. So i will just keep on putting a face of truth upon contradictions as i find them and hopefully when i have refuted every contradiction the unfaithful will find faith. =) email me with your favorite contradiction if you like. Sorry for hoggin, this got longer than i originally intended.

    • RichardSpeaks profile image

      Richard Kent Matthews 7 years ago from Portland, OR Metro Area

      Of course your comment will be published. I appreciate your candor and your desire to share your faith.

      Here is one of my concerns about what you call faith. When a claim of any kind is made, it is up to the one making the claim to have some kind of literal support for the claim. Otherwise, it's just opinion. And since you cannot use the book to prove the book (You must always have outside, reliable sources), then you must have a way of demonstrating what it is you claim.

      The Bible is like that. It flies in the face of modern technologies, modern experiment, modern thinking. Therefore, to make a claim that its stories are in any way actual history or actual experience requires some kind of proof.

      All kinds of strange cult-like groups claim to know some sort of Truth. None of them has any other proof than some kind of old document. Why not just accept ALL claims as true, even though they all conflict with each other?

      Again, I know you are sincere. But when it comes to old Bible stories, or even the Plan of Salvation itself, without proof, it is as tinkling brass or a sounding gong (to paraphrase St. Paul).

      As I said much earlier in our discussion, you cannot force yourself to believe something simply because someone else threatens you with hell, if even it's done in the so-called voice of love.


    • hanging out profile image

      hanging out 7 years ago

      This is where faith is tantamount. No christian at first has all the answers and over time they encounter things that nonbelievers call contradictions. As a spirit filled born again believer I trust in God, foremost, to reveal His word.

      Ears to hear, eyes to see and faith to believe and experience have all contributed to solidify what i once eschewed.

      Nugget: Joshua talking with God on the west side of jordan at harvest, the time of flooding. The jordan rivers is 2 miles across at this time, the time God decides to take them across. On the east side of jordan, the city of jericho, where the walls will soon fall down. Prior to the crossing God says, "SEE i have given into your hands all the land". Well, thats pretty hard to SEE. One would think God is talking about joshuas physical eyes, but God is referring to joshuas, faith to see through his spiritual eyes = belief.

      Amazing story that teaches us to SEE with our spiritual eyes, trust in God and joshua rose up early in the morning... eager to do Gods will.

      The stories teach.. they teach about God.

      Thanks again.

      You don't have to publish this. I won't be offended.

    • RichardSpeaks profile image

      Richard Kent Matthews 7 years ago from Portland, OR Metro Area

      And I thank you for the compliment. In the mean time, I still believe that the Bible is a series of teaching stories rather than literal history. But, we each must follow our own heart. You can't force yourself to believe something you don't, right?

    • hanging out profile image

      hanging out 7 years ago

      thank you. I appreciate your sophistication. Others that i have revealed inaccuracies about concerning doctrine have only reviled, harassed, cursed and appalled me. God revealing his Spirit through love, always refreshes his children.

    • RichardSpeaks profile image

      Richard Kent Matthews 7 years ago from Portland, OR Metro Area

      Hanging Out: I will submit your amazing comment to God Discussion to get their take. You've done your math. You are to be applauded. Not many would take the time to do so. Check out the comments here in the next week or so to see God Discussion's response. Thanks again.

    • hanging out profile image

      hanging out 7 years ago

      The Book of Numbers in two places (once at the beginning of the Exodus and again at the end) shows a population of adult males to number just over 600,000. There can be no doubt that these figures in both accounts in Numbers are correct, but this would not square with some other historical data that are found in the account of the Exodus. [See Appendix Six for information on this matter.]

      The key to understand the true approximation of the number of people is given in the Bible itself. It concerns one census of people upon which all the rest hinges. What is that census? It is that of the firstborn. We are told how many firstborn there were from a month old and upwards (including even the oldest of the men who were firstborn, and remember that some actual firstborn children could be substituted with others if the need arose – Genesis 48:14; I Chronicles 5: 1,2 – even daughters could take on the role in certain cases – Numbers 27:1:1-11). The census of firstborn showed there were 22,273 (Numbers 3:40-43). This means there were that many firstborn who made up the population of Israel. Yet a full third of that number would have been underage and had yet produced no families of their own, and another third would have been old and beyond the age of child bearing and they would have fewer family members. If we say that about a third of the firstborn would have had families (male and female) under their control, then each family would (we are guessing here) might have 8 to 10 members in it. Eight to ten times the one third having families would equal about 70,000 people (and with youngsters and oldsters added to them it would be no more than 120,000 (not two and a half million).

      And in the episode with the Moabites just before the Israelites entered the land of promise (Numbers 25:9) they lost 24,000 men (Paul said 23,000 but that was from the initial battle and not the 1000 or so that died afterwards – I Corinthians 10:8). This reduced the population of Israel to about 95,000 people (both males and females) who crossed over the Jordan into the Land of Canaan. It is interesting that when the twelve tribes of Israel went to war with the Midianites near the end of the Exodus, Joshua asked for only 1000 men from each tribe (Numbers 31:1-5). This number fits in nicely with a total population of about 40,000 men who were capable of making war when Israel crossed the River Jordan. And what do we have Joshua telling us just after Israel crossed the Jordan and just before they attacked the city of Jericho? Notice it carefully. Joshua said: "About forty thousand prepared for war passed over before the Lord unto battle, to the plains of Jericho" (Joshua 4:13).

      But what about the prodigious numbers of men mentioned in the two censuses (one at the beginning of the Exodus and the other at the end) which yielded just over 600,000 men, which would give a total population (with women and children) of about two and a half million? This can easily be understood if one will recognize a peculiar way the biblical people looked on their ancestors. Note this point carefully. When Abraham died, he was said to be "gathered to his people" (Genesis 25:8). This same expression is said of others when they died. Ishmael (Genesis 25:17), Isaac (Genesis 35:29), Jacob (Genesis 49:33). And though Moses and Aaron were brothers, each of them were gathered to their own people (that is, people who were ascribed to them). Note how God said to Moses: "die in the mount whither you go up, and be gathered unto your people; as Aaron your brother died in mount Hor, and was gathered unto his people" (Deuteronomy 32:50). In the case of Jacob being "gathered to his people," he specifically requested that he be buried in the cave of his fathers in the land of Canaan because he and his posterity had inherited that cave and that land from the time of Abraham (Genesis 49:29-33).

      The Bible tells us that God has what he calls "The Book of Life" (better, it means "The Book of the Living" and it is so rendered in Psalm 69:28). This book in heaven contained the names of the righteous dead (as well as those then alive and in good standing in the community of Israel), but it was still called "The Book of the Living" even though the majority of people written in the book were in fact dead. Among those in the book were the people of Abraham (who were worthy), those of Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron etc., etc. Now the genealogical tables maintained by the Israelites were similar. Note that when Moses asked for the number of the men at the census in Israel, he asked the leaders of the tribes to "declare their PEDIGREES after their families" (Numbers 1:128). In the census of just over 600,000 men, the total number also included all the names they had in the genealogical tables (who were also destined in the resurrection to inherit the Land of Canaan) who were their ancestors – the dead as well as the living.

      The apostle Paul used this same principle in reverse when he stated that Levi was in the loins of Abraham his father (though he was a fourth generation descendant) when Abraham met Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:9,10). This aggregate number of people (both living and dead) recorded in the genealogical tables and counted in the censuses of Israel reached back to include Abraham and all his early family, because when Abraham died even he was "gathered to his people" (Genesis 25:8). Yes, even the earlier ancestors of Abraham were included, and the tables no doubt embraced various family names (this is, pedigrees) that could have reached back to Noah, and even to Adam himself.

      When Jacob went to Egypt there were about 70 people who went with him (Exodus 1:5), but they multiplied exceedingly (Exodus 1:7). In five or six generations, until the time of Moses, there could have been almost 500,000 Israelite men who were living when Moses was born. At that time, Pharaoh began to kill the males of the Israelites when they were born (though the midwives at first did not obey Pharaoh – Exodus 1:17) and there was a great reduction in Israelite population just before the Exodus. However, if one would count all the Israelites from the time of Jacob unto Moses (counting the names in "the pedigrees" as Moses commanded) and add the number of Israelites at the Exodus about 120,000, then the figures given in the two censuses can be reasonably understood. In a word, the Israelites counted the names of their pedigrees (the Israelites and their ancestors who were dead but still to inherit the land).

    • RichardSpeaks profile image

      Richard Kent Matthews 7 years ago from Portland, OR Metro Area

      The Bible contradictions are legion. It's mostly important to remember that they should serve as teaching stories rather than history and that's where we make all of our mistakes. Thanks.

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 7 years ago from West By God

      Then there is the story of Moses. I read or heard somewhere that he was excommunicated from Egypt--well the whole story of mMoses has holes in it.

      First off, Egypt doesn't have any records of such a person as Moses. Second of all the reason said that he was excommunicated was that he KILLed another man who owned slaves. Big No No in Egyt and then after he was excommunicated we are told he got the 10 commandments--which almost copy the Egyption laws. Hmmm ......

    • RichardSpeaks profile image

      Richard Kent Matthews 7 years ago from Portland, OR Metro Area

      Yes, and that would make sense except for a couple of minor(?) details. Infant mortality was extremely high right up to and including parts of the 20th century. Second, disease outbreaks were a regular occurrence. Third, women often died in childbirth. Also, the average age of men was around 30 and for women around 25. And living under the Pharaohs for that long also decreased possibility of large increases in population. And then there was the so-called Exodus itself. Hard to survive that one. Finally, natural disasters i.e. floods, droughts, etc. Oh, and wars.

      If we understand the Bible as stories rather than history, then we can learn a great deal. But literal rendering leaves more questions than answers.

      Your math is fine; it doesn't fit reality. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      HJB 7 years ago

      Richard, I was just checking the math on the number of Israelites in Egypt. If we start with 70 from the time of Joseph, and each of the seventy has five children every twenty five years, I show a population of over 5 million in 175 years. Considering the Israelites were in captivity for around 400 years, it doesn't seem that a population over 2 million is unrealistic.

      Year 0: 70 x 5

      Year 25: 350 x 5

      Year 50: 1750 x 5

      Year 75: 8750 x 5

      Year 100: 43750 x 5

      Year 125: 218750 x 5

      Year 150: 1093750 x 5

      Year 175: 5,468,750


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