THE BIBLE CONSISTENT 6
Farrell Till writes on his
website: "anachronisms occur throughout the
Bible. In 2 Samuel 1:18, it was said that a song about the exploits of
David was written in the book of Jashar. If this was true, then
obviously the book of Jashar could not have been written until the time
of David. Yet we read in Joshua 10:13…that Joshua…when he made the sun
stand still was also recorded in the book of Jashar."
The answer is that the
Jashar was not written and
finalized by one author but was an official journal to which authorized
scribes added new entries for hundreds of years. They recorded
historical events and songs and poetry based on them.
Another common criticism of
the Bible is that Exodus 34 gets the
Decalogue (the Ten Commandments) wrong. Dr Bob Potter writes:
'believers' are unaware there are several incarnations of these
commandments. Those of Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 are much the same,
but the one in Exodus 34 (which purports to be the most recent
listing!) spoken to Moses by Jahweh to replace the earlier broken
tablets, differs in several ways from the earlier version commonly
incorporated into today's Christian services." (Investigator 145)
The short answer is that
Exodus 34:12-26 does not recapitulate the Ten
Commandments but lists commandments to counteract idolatry.
Childs (1974) says: "Ch.34
is one of the most difficult chapters in
Exodus to analyze… The starting-point for the modern critical debate
began with Wellhausen's analysis [in 1879], which isolated ch.34 as a
parallel account to ch.20 of the Sinai covenant…"
For half a century famous
theologians debated Wellhausen's analysis
after which his "parallel account" interpretation lost favor. Childs
writes: "this classic literary solution suffered a gradual erosion… First
of all, it became increasingly difficult to defend the view of an
actual Decalogue in ch.34..."
New interpretations by
other famous theologians followed — such as
Eissfeldt, Pfeiffer, Rudolph, Noth, Beyerlin and Kosmala.
Most based their analysis
of Exodus 34 on the Documentary Hypothesis
which states that Moses' writings originated from four or more
different documents which editors around the 5th century BC pasted
together to make one book.
Childs (1974) writes: "In
sum: although the classic Wellhausen analysis
has been generally abandoned as inadequate, no recent attempt has been
able to muster widespread support."
failed let us investigate Exodus 34 in context.
If context explains the
purpose of the Exodus 34 commands it would imply that the theologians
went wrong because their starting position which considered Exodus a
5th-century-BC paste-together job was faulty.
EXODUS 34 in CONTEXT
Chapter 34:12-26 considered
in context suggests that the commands
listed there are NOT "a parallel account to ch.20"; they are
not a re-listing of the Ten Commandments.
To see this consider what
24:12-13. Moses and Joshua ascended Mount Sinai to receive
"tablets of stone" inscribed with Ten Commandments
follows in 34:12-26 is not the Ten Commandments:
b. Exodus 31:18. Moses received the "two tablets of stone".
c. Exodus 32:1-8. While Moses was absent the Israelites built and
worshipped a "golden calf" honoring it with dancing and feasting.
d. Exodus 32:15-20. Moses returned from Mount Sinai and smashed the two
tablets, and ground the golden calf to powder.
e. Exodus 34:1. The "LORD" tells Moses to get two new tablets and "I
will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets,
which you broke." (34:1)
f. Exodus 34:11 says: "Observe what I command you today..."
Commandments were commanded in Chapter 20, not "today", and
were inscribed by God, not by Moses, on the new stone tablets which
contained "the words that were on the former tablets" — the
same words as previously!
Chapter 34:12-26, however,
has different words which Moses, not
If the commands in Exodus
34:12-26 are not a revision of Exodus 20 what
Motyer (2005) calls
34:12-26, "amplifications and applications" of the
Ten Commandments which "take into account the golden calf and the
temptations that lay ahead in the Land of Canaan."
My explanation is similar:
Exodus 34 lists commands which if heeded
would prevent repeats of golden-calf worship and other idolatry.
Exodus 34:10 "I [God]
hereby make a covenant" does not refer to a new
but refers back to 34:1 "I will write on the tablets the words that
were on the former tablets."
In effect the making of the
covenant of Exodus 20 was interrupted by
the "golden calf" worship, and is completed in 34:1-10 by God writing
the same words on new stone tablets thereby completing the interrupted
What follows in 34:12-26
are commands for preventing idolatry which
Moses, not God, writes — "The Lord said to Moses: Write these
The commands include:
Two of the Ten
Commandments i.e. worship no other god and rest on the Sabbath (34:14;
first-born of all animals to God (34:19-20);
Destroy all idols
(34:13); don't make idols (34:17);
Attend three annual
festivals (34:18, 22-23);
commands extracted from the 600 commands of Moses' Law code (34:25-26)
Chapter 34:28 concludes:
"He was there with the LORD forty days and
forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And he [the LORD]
wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten commandments."
The third "he" in "he wrote on the tablets" refers to "the LORD".
The theologians were so
distracted by their parallel-account hypothesis
that they didn't stress the warning (of Exodus) which is that humans
replace God with idols. They also ignored the New Testament extension
to idolatry whereby idols include addictions such as alcoholism, greed,
homosexuality, and even faulty theology — i.e. anything that separates
In Investigator I
have, over many years, supplied scientific
confirmations of many Bible passages. Dr Potter should therefore have
reasoned: "The Bible's critics have been so often wrong that
probably they're wrong too regarding Exodus 34."
In Exodus 34:1,10 God
writes the same Ten Commandments as
previously on two stone tablets, which is why they are not listed —
they are the same. After that Moses receives and writes down
various commandments that counteract idolatry.
Childs, B.S. 1974 Exodus
A Commentary, SCM, pp 605-607
Motyer, A. 2005 The
Message of Exodus, Inter-Varsity, pp 299-300