Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Does 2 Samuel 12 approve of Polygamy?

A recent caller to the Bible Answer Man broadcast asked for further clarification as to whether 2 Samuel 12:8 might well suggest that God approves of the practice of polygamy. I promised to provide additional perspective to this very significant question, and I say “significant” in that one may legitimately question a God who approves the practice of polygamy.

In 2 Samuel 12, the Lord, speaking through Nathan the prophet, says to King David, “I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added you many more things like these.”

At face value, this seems to suggest that God gave David multiple wives, and then stood ready to add to his harem with divine sanction. Of course, that’s precisely the problem with pressing Scripture into a wooden literal labyrinth, because—in truth—if Nathan’s words are anything at all, they are ironic. David had just murdered a man in order to have another woman appended to his harem. Despite the generosity of the very God who had made him sovereign ruler of the land, the king had stolen the wife of a servant and that to satisfy his carnal lust. Thus, in language that dripped with irony, Nathan the prophet pronounces judgment against Israel’s king. As such, 2 Samuel 12 hardly constitutes divine approval for the practice of polygamy.

And this is not a singular case. As with David, Solomon, David’s son, had extravagances in multiplying not only horses, but multiplying wives, and that was a significant factor in the unraveling of a kingdom. Who can forget the explicit admonition of Moses in Deuteronomy 17:17: Do not multiply wives or your heart will be led astray! If this applied to the great kings of Israel, how much more the subjects of the kingdom. Moreover, monogamous marriage is clearly taught in Genesis (2:22-24), and then reiterated by Christ himself. Indeed, Jesus went on to say that, “Anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery” (Matt 19:9). Not only so, but marriage is an analogy for the relationship that God has with his people, with the Church His one and only bride.

Furthermore, reading the Bible for all its worth involves recognition that the narratives of Scripture are often descriptive as opposed to prescriptive. The fact that Scripture reveals the patriarchs with all their warts and moles and wrinkles is to warn us of their failures, it’s not to teach us to emulate their practices. Far from blinking at David’s polygamous behavior, the Bible reveals that as a result of his sin, the sword never left his home.

Finally, let me say this, as God permitted divorce because of the hardness of men’s hearts, so too He put up with polygamy because of humankind’s insolent stubbornness. Indeed, God causes even the wrath of man to please Him. Thus, in His sovereign purposes, He might well have tolerated the practice of polygamy for the very purpose of providing economic stability and security for women trapped within the confines of a patriarchal society. Yet, as redemptive history reveals, God does not simply leave His people where they are—He moves to sanctify them. In the effulgence of Scripture, women are elevated from the confines of a patriarchal society to the status of complete ontological equality with men. As such, the apostle Paul in definitive fashion says just as there are no slaves but only free in the economy of God, so too there is no male or female but all are one in Christ. Indeed, one might well say that the words of Paul in Ephesians 5 have ennobled and empowered women in the West such that far from being chattel, their considered co-laborers in Christ with the very men who are instructed to give up their rights for them.

While Islam abides polygamy, it certainly plays no part in the Christian ethic. Speaking of Islam, we have a brand new book out on Islam, entitled, Islam: What You Must Know. It equips you now how to correctly think about Islam. Unfortunately, we have all sorts of pre-texts about Islam, sophistry, sloppy journalism, and sensationalism has won the day even in the Christian church. We put together this book to help you determine questions such as, “Is Islam a maniacal monolith or is it multifaceted?” “What’s the difference between Shiite and Sunni?” Islam is a mission field on our own doorstep, and I encourage you to get a copy of this book at our website of www.equip.org or by calling us at 1-888-700-0274.

66 comments:

bossmanham said...

Thanks, Hank, for your concise and easy to understand explanation of hard to understand Biblical passages.

Boris said...

Thanks Hank for reinterpreting the Bible away from its original meaning and trying to make it say something it doesn't. The Bible not only supports and promotes polygamy, it promotes slavery, the degradation of women, abortion on demand, murder, wars of aggression, stealing from enemies, infanticide, genocide and every crime one can imagine. Mr. Hanky may try to deny all of these truths about the Bible but then Mr. Hanky is widely known as a pathological liar for Jesus. And how the hell does a man who never went to college get to put "Dr" in front of his name may I ask?

The Pharisee said...

It is NOT David's "Polygamous Behavior" for which the sword never departs his home, David is ALREADY VERY POLGYNOUS in his marriage practice, it is specifically for his MURDER and THEFT through ADULTERY, of Bathsheba. He MURDERS URIAH, after STEALING his wife. 2nd Samuel 12:9 & 10:

"Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife."

NOT POLYGAMY Hank, for there was not even such a word in all of scripture, it is the theft of Uriah's wife, and his MURDER, for which the sword does not depart. You sin yourself by saying it was polygamy for you distort the word of God's Prophet, which is not merely descriptive, it is the WORD OF GOD. This is God's verdict, not the distorted twisted lie you offer up.

Read the rest of my reply to Hank.

T. James Archibald said...

wow Boris and Pharisee must realy despise Hank to be so blind as to misread what he wrote. Boris I guess missed "...the explicit admonition of Moses in Deuteronomy 17:17: Do not multiply wives or your heart will be led astray! If this applied to the great kings of Israel, how much more the subjects of the kingdom." And I suppose Pharisee just skipped over the piece where Hank wrote "Far from blinking at David’s polygamous behavior, the Bible reveals that as a result of his SIN, the sword never left his home." HIS SIN not HIS POLYGAMY. sin is plural.
huh, apologetics for Hanks apologetics.

As always Hank extensively explains difficult scripture in light of the simple and repleat, using great hermemeutics.
Thank you Hank

The Pharisee said...

James,

I made a complete reply at my blog, which is linked from the post here at Hank's. I don't believe my reply would have fit in the allotted space provided by "Blogger's" reply limitations.

What precisely did I miss here? Hank is saying that the 2nd Samuel 12 incident is linked to more than one wife. I can't see how that is the case. The Hebrew word "Rabah" which is use in this case is not merely "More than One" in terms of it's meaning, and if it did mean that, then a king, and consequently by inference, no Israelite, could own more than one horse, which complicates breeding.

God Said He GAVE Wives said...

9 years ago, on Sept 25, 2000, you had a caller who asked the same question about 2 Samuel 12:8. She also asked if you knew of the evangelical Christian Polygamy organization called TruthBearer.org. On air, you said you knew of that ministry. (The 700 Club has also reported about the TruthBearer.org organization too.) After that call to your show back in 2000, that organization then published the transcript of that broadcast and a thorough analysis of your asnwers. In that analysis, the organization was gracious to you in acknowldging how you were on the spot in having to answer quickly. That anslysis webpage has been there online throughout this decade since. If God was so against David's polygamy, He would have stopped him with Abigail, or Ahinoam, or any of the 7 total wives he married before 2 Samuel 12:8. "Do not Multiply" can only mean "do not hoard" but not a limitation to only one. Otherwise, having more than one horse (or car) would have to be a sin too. Really, many honest Bible-studying Christians are no longer accepting the not biblical arguments against polygamy. That's why the organization has gotten so much media attention.

The Pharisee said...

Hank is content to throw such answers out there, and will never appear in a venue where his opponent on polygyny is given equal standing.

I don't think we can flush Hank out of this one, I'm not sure we can be confident he even reads this page. It more or less looks like he has his name attached to it and someone publishes his material here.

Hank can disabuse of this notion by interacting with his critics, but he doesn't want to give them the credibility.

That's because his answers fail, and he knows it. Being distant is not because we are irrelevant, being distant is to give the mere appearance to his fans, that we are not worth his time.

karateka said...

I think this answer is a real stretch. Look at Abraham, and the traditions of both Judaism and Islam. Polygamy was an accepted practice, and we have no record of Jesus condemning that practice.

I'm not about to practice polygamy. But to say polygamy is not biblical is pure hogwash. It is simply an attempt to dodge an inconvenient fact.

The Pharisee said...

Of course, the question is, does Hank ever answer the stuff he just hangs out over the edge.

Come to think of it, has anyone ever actually SEEN Hank?

Siarlys Jenkins said...

While polygamy has no place in the Christian ethic, that has no foundation in the Old Testament. Ask any Orthodox rabbi who understands the original Hebrew. They will tell you that the Torah does NOT prohibit polygamy at all! Western European Jews adopted monogamy to reduce the friction with their Christian neighbors, who were inclined to slaughter Jews on just about any pretext. The Christians picked it up from the Romans, not from their Jewish antecedents, nor from the Greeks. Jews living in predominantly Muslim nations remained polygamous, just as David, Solomon, Hezekiah, virtually all the kings of Israel and Judah were, not to mention the patriarches, particularly Jacob, and also his sons, notably Judah.

I prefer monogamy, but we should bend Scripture out of shape just to fit what we now find preferable. Next you'll be explaining why it was OK for Jeptha's daughter to be offered as a burnt sacrifice on the alter -- it wasn't, and she wasn't.

The Pharisee said...

My thought is that Jeptha's daughter become the rough equivalent of a nun.

I agree with your analysis.

Boris said...

Nuns aren't burned as human sacrifices to Yahweh.

The Pharisee said...

Nor were the first born, who were dedicated to God after the passover, for whom the Levites as priests are a substitute.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Boris, you are correct about nuns. You imply that Jeptha's daughter was offered as a burnt sacrifice to Yaweh. She wasn't. The Pharisee is correct. In fact, even in English translation, the daughter is bewailing her virginity, that she will never marry or have children, not her imminent death. Unfortunately, when the first translation was made into Greek, the Hebrew word for "elevate" to the service of God was translated with a Greek word which specifically mean a burnt offering. That's why we have to be careful about thinking our English translations are the actual Word of God. There has been plenty of opportunity for human error to creep in. However, that does not prove that there is no God, or even that God is arbitrary and inconsistent. I simply demonstrates that we all fall short of the glory of God. (Even you Boris).

The Pharisee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Pharisee said...

I surmised her probable trip to the nunnery with no assistance and no examination of the Greek or Hebrew. It's just knowing the context of a "burnt offering." I don't think the translations stray so far from intended meaning that they cannot be made to tow the line through context.

Even if it is shown she was cut up and divided and offered as a literal holocaust, it doesn't mean God demanded that, or was happy with it.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Pharisee, you just won't let anyone agree with you... I'm not surprised you surmised the correct answer. I did too, BEFORE I asked a rabbi who KNEW the correct answer. But are you unaware that official Christian teaching for at least 1000 years is that Jeptha burned his daughter on the altar, and this was somehow an example of obedience to God? Handel wrote an opera about his anguish, having to do so. When I asked a rabbi how it could have been acceptable to God, he was shocked that anyone could have believed such an abomination. Yes, the words, even in translation, do give broad hints when the "orthodox" thinking is off base. But it doesn't make those who think they are "orthodox" in their thinking give up easily.

The Pharisee said...

My apologies, I was more or less trying to defend the translations as conveying enough of the meaning even through the blurs of translation, if the reader immersed themselves in those translations collective context.

Boris said...

Siarlys Jenkins
You are correct that Jepthah’s daughter wasn’t burned as a human sacrifice because neither Jepthah nor his daughter ever existed. The story is a barbaric myth. There are several parallels to this story in ancient Near Eastern literature, the tale of the sacrifice of Iphigenia probably being the best known. Jepthah’s vow to Yahweh resembles the equally rash vow made by Agamemnon in promising the goddess Artemis to sacrifice the fairest thing brought forth in the year of his daughter’s birth, never suspecting that this “fairest thing” would prove to be his daughter, Iphigenia.

“In the Bible though Jepthah does indeed sacrifice his daughter to Yahweh. “At the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did with her according to the vow he had made” – Judges 11:39. What did he do to her may I ask? Jepthah never made any vow that had anything to do with virginity. This is just one of the many embarrassing stories in the Bible believers have to make up all kinds of nonsense about in order to explain.

The Pharisee said...

Boris,

I think that I can find agreement with Hank on this, and I'm sure Siarlys will agree with me and Hank as well.

The Story is completely true.

Boris said...

Pharisee,
You, Hank and Siarlys believe that Noah had an ark, Balaam had a talking donkey, Moses had a magical wonder working rod and that dead people climbed out of their graves and appeared to many other people in Jerusalem also. You have exactly the same amount of evidence for those stories as you do for the one about Jepthah and his daughter. None. Yet you believe them anyway because you afraid not to. You're frightened completely out of your minds not to believe each and every word of all these stupid stories in the Bible. Each of you has surrendered the ability to make any rational judgments about the Bible. I don't care what you think about the Bible and outside of the cult of ignorance you people belong to no one else does either. Have fun with your delusions.

The Pharisee said...

Boris,

Just a second....

Lemmee check....

Yup, pretty much.

What I don't believe is that Hank has anything to do with this blog, other than writing the material that is posted here.

I'd be surprise if he actually read it.

Boris said...

Pharisee,
The only thing Hank Handmegraaft is expert enough to write about is how to embezzle from a Christian ministry.

The Pharisee said...

I suggest you take that up with Hank. I clearly don't have THAT much respect for Hank's opinions, simply because Hank is Hank.

This is a poor way to get Hank's attention. It's clear that he either doesn't read what's written here or is afraid to interact with that which is written here.

Boris said...

Pharisee,
>I suggest you take that up with Hank. I clearly don't have THAT much respect for Hank's opinions, simply because Hank is Hank.

Boris says: I don’t care if Hank rips off the people who donate to his ministry. Anyone who gives money to a religious spokesperson deserves to be ripped off. I don’t have any respect for Hank’s opinions or Hank as a human being either. Hank is a liar. The most damaging lie he tells is the one where he insists that scientists are knowingly working with a false or incorrect theory of evolution. In other words he’s telling people that scientists are inherently dishonest and cannot be trusted. This from a religious spokesperson! Of course the opposite is true. No avenue of human endeavor is more open to scrutiny than science. Scientists absolutely love proving each other wrong. If someone could disprove evolutionary theory they would become instantly famous and very wealthy not to mention winning a Nobel Prize. But this hasn’t happened and it isn’t going to happen either.

“There is obviously an important difference between an establishment [i.e., science] that is open… and one that regards the questioning of its credentials as due to wickedness of heart, such as [Cardinal] Newman attributed to those who questioned the infallibility of the Bible. Rational science treats its credit notes as always redeemable on demand, while non-rational authoritarianism regards the demand for the redemption of its paper as a disloyal lack of faith.” – Morris Cohen (1880-1947)

>This is a poor way to get Hank's attention. It's clear that he either doesn't read what's written here or is afraid to interact with that which is written here.

Boris says: Both are true. Hank doesn’t give a hoot about what’s on this blog and he is deathly afraid to engage any skeptics in a debate. Hank knows what happens to people who have adopted the shakiest belief system in the world when it is questioned, a belief system that loses about 5000 adherents a day in the United States alone. A belief system that has closed an average of 3500 churches in the U.S. alone a year over the last three decades. A belief system that has all but disappeared from Europe. A belief system that is founded on a mountain of historical lies that have now been exposed to the general public.

“It will not do to investigate the subject of religion too closely, as it is apt to lead to infidelity.” – Abraham Lincoln

The Pharisee said...

I'd say Biblical conservative and evangelical Christianity doesn't have that problem Boris.

That doesn't mean we don't have our share of buyers and sellers within the temple.

Boris said...

Pharisee,
Of course you’d say that because that’s what OTHER PEOPLE have brainwashed you to believe. Naturally you’re going to try to defend your particular brand of sectarian Christianity. But your cult is just a phony as the rest of them if not more so.

The Pharisee said...

So,

Who brainwashed you? Clearly, you believe that belief is a result of brainwashing, so I'm curious who did the honors indoctrinating you into secular humanism?

Boris said...

Pharisee,
First of all secular humanism is a worldview not a belief system. There is a very big difference between beliefs or faith and religious beliefs or faith. Religious people like you always attempt to blur the distinction between the two. I know what it would take for me to change my mind about what I believe about anything. You on the other hand believe that nothing can ever change your mind about your religious beliefs. The fundamental teaching of Christianity-the demand for conformity thus gives rise to a fundamental and viciously destructive teaching of Christianity: That some beliefs lie beyond the scope of criticism, and that to question them is sinful, or morally wrong. By doing this Christianity declares itself the enemy of truth and of the faculty by which man arrives at truth-reason.

I’ve been an atheist my entire life. No one ever tried to convince me there was no God. I figured it out myself by listening to people like you.

The Pharisee said...

I'm sorry then, as it appears to be my fault you don't believe in God.

I'm wondering why you blame me for that, you should be thanking me. I mean, if you're right....

Boris said...

Pharisee,
I’m not blaming anyone for anything. Unbelief is the natural position to take on anything until something has been proved. The existence of God has not been proved to either of us. I don’t blame other people for things because things don’t just happen to me. I happen to them. If you want to carry on a conversation that doesn’t relate to the topic of the thread like this one we’re having you can Email me at bullwinklefred56@yahoo.com anytime.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Well, Boris and Pharisee can keep a boxing match going all by themselves. Now, let me see if I can shed a little light on the subject.

Boris, I agree with you that Hank is wrong to overlook the truth of evolutionary biology. As I've said every time Hank or anyone raises the subject, the framework of evolutionary biology is all laid out in the first two chapters of Genesis, just as the misnames "Big Bang" is all laid out in the first few verses of Genesis. There is no better scientific evidence for the truth of the Bible.

Now, as to Jeptha being a barbaric myth, archaeologists have found that well-preserved oral traditions can turn out to be quite an accurate guide to real events, corroborated by real evidence. Jewish tradition about Jeptha is sufficiently well preserved that I accept it as reliable.

What did Jeptha do with his daughter, according to the vow that he made? Well, that is a broad, general statement. It doesn't follow that he burned her on the altar, does it? What vow did he make? In the original Hebrew, he vowed that she would be Ha-Shem's. Accordingly, she lived a life of service to God. Even in English, she doesn't bewail that she is about to be burned, she bewails her virginity.

I have had some perfectly congenial conversations with secular humanists. They suggest that I would be happier if I thought as they do, but respect the fact that I don't. I respect that they don't they as I do. There is nothing uniquely rational about secular humanism. If you start with the premise that we are all along in a morally indifferent universe, you can logically view the world and your life through that premise.

The Bible also has to be taken on faith that it is, a priori, true, because it was, essential premise, given by God. You don't have to accept that. But don't tell me that science disproves it. Not only are there some obvious parallels between science and Genesis, but even with no such parallels, the most science could say is, we have no proof it is so. Assuming there is an omnipotent God, that God lies outside the material universe, and is not subject to any material test which would prove or disprove the hypothesis. So, if you don't accept it on faith, or because genuine scientific data converges in a way that makes it quite probable, you don't have to. Don't expect your premise to sound "rational" to the 5/6 of humanity who do believe.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Well, Boris and Pharisee can keep a boxing match going all by themselves. Now, let me see if I can shed a little light on the subject.

Boris, I agree with you that Hank is wrong to overlook the truth of evolutionary biology. As I've said every time Hank or anyone raises the subject, the framework of evolutionary biology is all laid out in the first two chapters of Genesis, just as the misnames "Big Bang" is all laid out in the first few verses of Genesis. There is no better scientific evidence for the truth of the Bible.

Now, as to Jeptha being a barbaric myth, archaeologists have found that well-preserved oral traditions can turn out to be quite an accurate guide to real events, corroborated by real evidence. Jewish tradition about Jeptha is sufficiently well preserved that I accept it as reliable.

What did Jeptha do with his daughter, according to the vow that he made? Well, that is a broad, general statement. It doesn't follow that he burned her on the altar, does it? What vow did he make? In the original Hebrew, he vowed that she would be Ha-Shem's. Accordingly, she lived a life of service to God. Even in English, she doesn't bewail that she is about to be burned, she bewails her virginity.

I have had some perfectly congenial conversations with secular humanists. They suggest that I would be happier if I thought as they do, but respect the fact that I don't. I respect that they don't they as I do. There is nothing uniquely rational about secular humanism. If you start with the premise that we are all along in a morally indifferent universe, you can logically view the world and your life through that premise.

The Bible also has to be taken on faith that it is, a priori, true, because it was, essential premise, given by God. You don't have to accept that. But don't tell me that science disproves it. Not only are there some obvious parallels between science and Genesis, but even with no such parallels, the most science could say is, we have no proof it is so. Assuming there is an omnipotent God, that God lies outside the material universe, and is not subject to any material test which would prove or disprove the hypothesis. So, if you don't accept it on faith, or because genuine scientific data converges in a way that makes it quite probable, you don't have to. Don't expect your premise to sound "rational" to the 5/6 of humanity who do believe.

Boris said...

Well, Boris and Pharisee can keep a boxing match going all by themselves. Now, let me see if I can shed a little light on the subject.

Boris says: We’re not boxing. Anonymous and Robert tried to box with me and got knocked out as you can see. I think Pharisee might just be evangelizing and once he realizes just how “lost” I am he’ll give up. I signed up on Pharisee’s blog and so far I haven’t been banned, probably because I haven’t posted anything yet. I didn’t see anything really interesting to comment on, other than it appears this guy is a polygamist though probably non-practicing. At first glance though it looked like Pharisee’s blog might be more active than this one. I never heard of the guy before. Hank’s known the world over. That’s pathetic.

Boris, I agree with you that Hank is wrong to overlook the truth of evolutionary biology. As I've said every time Hank or anyone raises the subject, the framework of evolutionary biology is all laid out in the first two chapters of Genesis, just as the misnames "Big Bang" is all laid out in the first few verses of Genesis. There is no better scientific evidence for the truth of the Bible.

Boris says: Your version of the Bible perhaps. Though that version is actually much more widely held than the fundamentalist version. A stranger in the land wouldn’t think so though would they? The people with the most ridiculous beliefs about the Bible are just about the only people we ever hear from. It isn’t just evolutionary biology Hank is denying. That’s a smokescreen creationists use to hide the fact from the general public that they are intent on fighting the same war on all science Bible believers have been waging ever since the Bible was forged, flaked and formed and then voted on to be the Bible. Hank is denying cosmology, geology, zoology, anthropology, archaeology, paleontology, oceanography, geography, astronomy, cell theory, quantum physics and just about every avenue of scientific endeavor there is. Creationists purposely blur the distinctions between these different branches of science so that the scientifically ignorant public doesn’t understand the scope of all the science these people are fighting against and that it’s not just one particular scientific theory they have a problem with. I know you know all this already Siarlys. I’m pointing it out to the other two people on this blog.

Now, as to Jeptha being a barbaric myth, archaeologists have found that well-preserved oral traditions can turn out to be quite an accurate guide to real events, corroborated by real evidence. Jewish tradition about Jeptha is sufficiently well preserved that I accept it as reliable.

Boris says: It’s not a Jewish tradition. As I already pointed out this theme appears in the literature of every culture in the ancient Near East. For what reason should we believe the Bible’s story is true and all the others fiction?

Accordingly, she lived a life of service to God. Even in English, she doesn't bewail that she is about to be burned, she bewails her virginity.

Boris says: Oh please, I’m a Jew. In that patriarchal society women served their husbands and only the men served God. When are women given any duties having to do with the temple or anything else to do with religion exactly?

Boris said...

If you start with the premise that we are all along in a morally indifferent universe, you can logically view the world and your life through that premise.

Boris says: Yes the rest of the universe knows nothing of our human concepts about morality. But that doesn’t mean the universe is without morals. Morals exist here on earth because we humans invented them all by ourselves. We’ve taught ourselves morality just like we taught ourselves math, languages and the theory of evolution. It’s very important that every human being is conscious of that fact and not deluded into thinking that morality comes from religious dogma or holy books. That has proved to be the most dangerous and damaging not to mention false idea ever floated on this planet.

Assuming there is an omnipotent God, that God lies outside the material universe, and is not subject to any material test which would prove or disprove the hypothesis.

Boris says: I could say the same thing about the Tooth Fairy. My worldview includes only a minimal amount of assumptions all of which I recognize may have to be revised or even rejected in the future. There’s no way I can make the kind of assumptions you have and especially the way you make those assumptions above criticism not to mention beyond challenge, change or rejection upon evidence they are incorrect.

So, if you don't accept it on faith, or because genuine scientific data converges in a way that makes it quite probable, you don't have to. Don't expect your premise to sound "rational" to the 5/6 of humanity who do believe.

Boris says: Oh sure. I expect people who hold irrational beliefs to recognize rationality when they see it. At least you’re brave enough to admit that your beliefs are based on faith alone. Let all the Christians be so brave because after all that’s what the Jesus of the Gospels demands. She who believes without seeing will surely enter the kingdom of heaven. I’m pretty sure there’s no room at the inn for Hank Hanegraaf and the people like him though. Those of little faith who say they need and can provide evidence to believe. Jesus would have something to say to them. “I never knew you; go away from me you evildoers.” – Matt 7:23.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Boris, for a Jew, you are remarkably conversant with the Gospels. Oh, I forgot, you are an atheist, so its all the same to you. Perhaps you are aware that those who study the Talmud say that what happened at the time of Noah was not a mere flood, but a mabbul, a catastrophe of much greater proportions, which may even have involved the passage of another star close enough to our system to cause major gravitational distortions. And Noah wasn't told to build a boat, but a teyva, a large box, which from the prescribed dimensions was much too small to hold every animal to be saved. The standard rabbinical explanation is, Noah's job was to build the box, God's job was to save the life that would repopulate the earth. Once again, we have just a hint of something bigger than the human mind can comprehend, and much more subtle. Christians insist on simple stories, atheists insist that if the simple story doesn't make sense, and it doesn't, then nothing happened at all. Where did the notion of "Flood" come in? Well, like you said about Iphigenia, there are parallel stories in Sumerian and Greek traditions about a "Flood" that wiped out all life except two virtuous people. I suspect that in translation between cultures, Greeks substituted their simple myth for the much more complex revelation entrusted to your ancestors, who unlike you accepted it as true. Likewise, the story of Jeptha, which happened, was transliterated into an analog of the stories like Iphigenia, who was sacrificed because the barbaric Greeks considered that acceptable.

Boris said...

Boris, for a Jew, you are remarkably conversant with the Gospels.

Boris says: I have a UBS Fourth Edition Greek New Testament sitting next to me on my bookcase. I studied Ancient Greek at a Christian college and some of the classes used the New Testament extensively. I can still recite long passages from memory in Koine Greek.

Oh, I forgot, you are an atheist, so its all the same to you.

Boris says: It’s not all the same to me at all. I know how the Old Testament should be interpreted and exactly how the New Testament writers misinterpreted it for their own purposes.

Perhaps you are aware that those who study the Talmud say that what happened at the time of Noah was not a mere flood, but a mabbul, a catastrophe of much greater proportions, which may even have involved the passage of another star close enough to our system to cause major gravitational distortions.

Boris says: You’re never going to reconcile that stupid story with modern science.

Greeks substituted their simple myth for the much more complex revelation entrusted to your ancestors, who unlike you accepted it as true.

Boris says: You shouldn’t listen to Christian apologists tell you what the Jews believe because we simply don’t believe, we never have believed and we aren’t going to believe. Sure there are a few orthodox knuckleheads but even they don’t interpret the Torah literally. Jews have always carried on the traditions of their ancestors so as to keep in touch with the past. My crazy relatives dress up like the characters in Esther to celebrate Purim, which everyone knows we adopted from the Persians and Esther is a folktale. I never met a Jew who took the religion part seriously. It’s all about tradition.

Likewise, the story of Jeptha, which happened, was transliterated into an analog of the stories like Iphigenia, who was sacrificed because the barbaric Greeks considered that acceptable.

Boris says: The story of Jepthah is a myth because the Jewish people didn’t even emerge as a subculture in Palestine until the 8th century. So anything set in a time before then is mythological. I know what I’m talking about and so do the archaeologists at Tel Aviv University and that’s what they say.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I don't listen to Christian apologists, I do listen to Orthodox knuckleheads, because the best of them have spent forty years studying the original Hebrew, and they know it better than you do. Obviously, I don't agree with them on everything, they insist that humanity was formed at the start of the Jewish calendar, something over 5000 years ago, but they are amazingly conversant in modern cosmology and relativity.

If you have studied Greek, you should be able to trace that in translating the story of Jeptha, a Greek word specifically meaning a burnt holocaust was substituted for the Hebrew eloha, meaning elevate to the service of God. You are correct that Jews have never had monks or nuns, considering that a breach of the command to be fruitful and multiply; that is precisely why the daughter's perpetual virginity was such a tragedy.

Finally, your timeline is off. The Orthodox knuckleheads tell me that the Exodus was not in the time of Rameses II (and I asked the question, because I could tell the archaeologists were off on this one -- Rameses historically ran all over Palestine). The Exodus was at the end of the Middle Kingdom, the Hyksos invasion (the Amalekites) followed the destruction that the Exodus occasioned, and Ramesses II was a contemporary of Achaz -- in a period when the Bible makes plain there was periodic vassalage to Egypt by both Judah and Israel.

Finally, to get back to the original question of this exchange, the Orthodox knuckleheads are very clear that the entire Old Testament approves of polygamy. Only Christians don't approve of polygamy.

The Pharisee said...

Hey, I'm Orthodox Presbyterian, and I support polygyny.

Boris said...

The Israelites were never even in Egypt. The Egyptians have no record of them ever being there or ANY of the supposed events of the Exodus. That's a fact and all your shining and special pleading won't change that fact.

Boris said...

So Pharisee can a woman have more than one husband?

The Pharisee said...

Nope.

Boris said...

Why not? Don't look now but your sexism is showing. In the Hebrew interpretation of the Garden of Eden story, Yahweh mocks Adam's sexism when he says "Because you listened to your wife.." and then throws it back in his face. BTW there are no mentions of Satan in the story. The serpent is just a friendly talking animal and the only character in the story including Yahweh who really knows what is going on. The story is supposed to be comedic. Leave it to the most humorless people on the planet, Christians, to misunderstand the entire story and then reinterpret it for their own theological purposes. Tell me I'm wrong and I'll just call you a goy.

The Pharisee said...

I don't worry a bit Boris, about my "sexism" showing.

We don't agree on a very basic level. I'm not sure we agree on the issue of sexism.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Actually, an orthodox knucklehead had pointed out to me the records of the presence of the descendants of Jacob in Egypt, and the Egyptian records do match rather well. Unfortunately, you are relying on anthropologists who are centuries off in their search, and then saying "Nope, we didn't find anything." During the late Middle Kingdom, there was a substantial presence of non-Egyptian Asians, some of whom were quite prosperous, but who never became naturalized Egyptians, and whose power and presence became quite worrisome toward the end of the dynasty. Naturally, the Egyptians didn't call them the Chosen of God, but its pretty obvious who they are writing about on their papyrus scrolls.

You are correct that there is no mention of Satan in Genesis. You might have added that Satan, as he appears in Job for instance, was God's faithful servant, who tested the faith of certain people, was accepted in the councils of heaven, and didn't WANT the subject to fail, but tested very thoroughly. Even the temptation of Jesus by Satan, apocryphal or real, follows this pattern. The linkage of the serpent in the garden to Satan comes out of the feverish vision of one Ioannes, a Greek Christian who had no cultural context to understand what he was talking about. He also threw in Ba'al Zevuv (a Canaanite godling), Lucifer Son of the Morning (an allegorical reference to King Nebuchadnezzar) etc.

But listening to you deny what IS in the Old Testament is close to listening to some of the educated fools in the "Creation Science" mob denying that there is any evidence for evolution, when there are literally mountains of it. Some who have eyes to see, see not, because they choose not to.

Now I'd like to hear Hank weight in on Pharisee, an Orthodox Presbyterian, supporting polygamy. I will note that my orthodox Jewish source says while the Torah does allow for polygamy, the Hebrew word for it means "strife," so its not exactly recommended, just sometimes unavoidable.

The Pharisee said...

There IS no Hebrew word for polygamy, at least, none in scripture.

Hank's not showing, he hasn't got a clue what goes on here.

Boris said...

Actually, an orthodox knucklehead had pointed out to me the records of the presence of the descendants of Jacob in Egypt, and the Egyptian records do match rather well.

Boris says: Typical vague response. What evidence EXACTLY, discovered by whom, when and where please?

Pharisee we don't agree because I'm a lot more intelligent and educated than either you or your cult leaders are.

The Pharisee said...

Boris,

You appear to be your own best friend.

:)

Boris said...

Pharisee,
If you gave what I say some unbiased critical thinking I would probably be your best friend real quickly. I'm doing you a favor. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

The Pharisee said...

Boris,

I'm not impressed. You're pounding your own drum about how intelligent and unbiased you are.

I don't see how you need me when it's clear you can hold up both end of the conversation.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Boris says: Typical vague response. What evidence EXACTLY, discovered by whom, when and where please?

Ah yes, there is the rub, for all of us really, in these little conversations. We don't have time or space to cite authority. I can't recall one time Boris has offered a formal citation according to Chicago Manual of Style. Of course, Boris would have to prove a negative, which is logically impossible, so he doesn't have to meet any standard of proof.

OK, here are a few quick citations which point to Asians in Egypt in the late Middle Kingdom. Again, I don't claim that these Asians are explicitly identified as Sons of Jacob, or Israel, or the Chosen of the Most High God, but they were distinct, powerful, wealthy, resented, then repressed, and there was migration in and out. So, it is not tenable to state as FACT that the ancestors of those people later identified as Jews WERE NEVER in Egypt. For the rest, we would need whole books to even approximate what is The Truth.

Clutton-Brock, Julia. The Walking Larder: Patterns of Domestication, Pastoralism, and Predation. Routledge, p. 132

Issar, Arye S ; Mattanyah Zohar. Climate change : environment and civilization in the Middle East. Berlin [u.a.] Springer 2004
pp. 150-153

Greenberg, Raphael. Early urbanizations in the Levant: a regional narrative New York : Leicester University Press, 2001. p.121

Pharisee: After checking again, the word I was thinking of is not, in fact, a word for polygamy. The word is tzara, and it means "co-wife," from a root word meaning "trouble, woe." Likewise, the Chinese word for discord is a character depicting two women under one roof. There may or may not be a word for polygamy, but it may in fact not have been needed, since marriage took both singular and plural forms. What I understand from the orthodox knuckleheads is that the norm is one man, one woman, one marriage per lifetime, but, the Torah does allow for more than one wife, because there were various situations thought to require it, such as the death of one's brother without children, and, apparently, the necessities of diplomacy (the main rationale for Shlomo's large number of wives). As with any allowance for cause, many men throughout history have taken advantage to seize upon what simply seemed like a pleasurable course of action, and some of them have had cause to regret it.

Boris said...

I'm not impressed. You're pounding your own drum about how intelligent and unbiased you are.

Boris says: No, I’m not speaking in terms of superlatives but comparatives. I said I was smarter than you are. I didn’t say I was intelligent. But you strike me as being unusually lucid for a creationist.

I don't see how you need me when it's clear you can hold up both end of the conversation.

Boris says: Well as anyone can see you are correct for the most part. Many people respond to posts I make on this blog that are not directed at them. Probably as many as respond to Hank’s posts. Of course that doesn’t mean I’m interesting, just more interesting than Hank or anyone else on this blog. In our conversation though I was hoping to get some answers to questions. Like why can’t women have more than two husbands in your view? Or as I asked via Email what was it that proved the existence of the God of the Bible to you and what is your extra-biblical evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ?

You are right that we don’t agree on a very basic level. But we both agree Hank is intellectually dishonest which means he’s not telling the truth in at least two separate and distinct areas. I’ve been listening to Hank for a long time. He used to seem innocuous to me because when people would ask him about evolutionary theory verses creationism he told them that should remain an in house debate. A few years ago he decided that he had to “defeat evolution by any means fair or foul” and started telling some of the most outrageous lies about modern science since Henry (Satan put the craters on the moon) Morris was alive and lying. So what else is he willfully not telling the truth about Pharisee? I don’t care what you think he’s mistaken about, just his willful deceit if you don’t mind.

I registered on your blog and mentioned that on this blog. Perhaps some people will check it out.

The Pharisee said...

I'm not exactly an expert on Hebrew, but I'm roughly familiar with it. could you simplify things for me and tell me where "tzara" appears in the Old Testament?

Boris said...

Well Boris, you're not particularly lovable, at least if your posts here are the sole criteria.

Boris says: Actually I was the only guest for the whole hour on Dr. Michael Brown’s Line of Fire radio program about a year ago on September 17th. Michael thanked me for being so charming on the air and helping present an interesting show. Interestingly he had kicked me off his blog a few weeks before the show because he felt my posts were offensive. It’s a pretty good show. I could Email it to you.

These evolution deniers are just nuts. Two hundred years ago people from the exact same Protestant denominations were denying the roundness and orbit of the earth. Yet they claim that it was those Catholics that were anti-science, not the Protestants. But Protestants have been even more anti-science than Catholics who by the way officially accepted evolutionary theory over six decades ago. How many Protestant denominations have officially accepted evolutionary explanations for the diversity of life on this planet? Every Christian college and university that teaches science teaches evolutionary theory and common descent and most have been for over a century. I just tell the creationists to take their arguments down to the science department of the Christian college or university of their choice and see what the scientists there say about them. After they get done laughing in the creationist’s face.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Pharisee, I'm not an expert on Hebrew either, but an orthodox rabbi who has spent 40 years studying texts in Hebrew provided the word tzara in explaining what the Torah says about polygamy. I have no idea where to find it in the Old Testament. Possibly you could find a web site which offers text search in Hebrew.

Boris, you may be very charming in person. But in written debate, one rhetorical flourish deserves another.

The Pharisee said...

That could be a word used to explain what he thought Torah said about Polygamy.

There is no word for "polygamy" or "polygyny" or even "monogamy" in Torah or in the scriptures. At all.

Since it is indeed difficult to search for words with "stem" and "aspects" and "jots and tittles" I'm wondering if you could provide something like a "Strongs" reference for the word, to determine if it does appear in scripture.

"Tzara" of course is an Anglicization of the Hebrew word, not the Hebrew word itself.

The Pharisee said...

The only thing I am coming up with, is in reference to Leprosy. צָרָעַת , tzara‘at.

Boris said...

So, it is not tenable to state as FACT that the ancestors of those people later identified as Jews WERE NEVER in Egypt.

Boris says: It is a fact because the Jewish people did not even appear as a subculture in Palestine until the 8th century BC.

The most damning evidence against the Bible is a four hundred year military dominance of Palestine by the Egyptians of which not one word is mentioned in the Bible.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Please Boris. You had just convinced me that you could not only be a reasonably charming person, but that you might even have a rational mind. Then, you make this flat, dogmatic, statement, lacking any documentation or serious reference. That is what I expect from the cretins of the "Creation Science" school of fantasy, who blandly assert that "there is no evidence for evolution" because, having eyes to see, they choose to see not.

Just for a teaser, you might consider this: "It is very interesting that cuneiform tablets from Ebla, a site in northern Syria, contain references to a very prominent personage named Abramu. Beyond the fact that he was of importance and apparently quite wealthy, and was not an Eblaite, nothing else can be demonstrated. Draw your own conclusions." That's not proof positive, but its worth considering, and therefore renders your totalitarian claim to unassailable factual correctness highly questionable.

Moving on to the sojourn in Egypt, have you considered that the Egyptologists have found no evidence for it, because they are looking in the wrong place on a badly distorted timeline? True, Ramseses II could not be the Pharaoh of the Exodus; he had armies running all over the middle east, and won most of his battles too. But, there were distinct Asian groupings living in the lower Nile during the late Middle Kingdom, sometimes wealthy and influential, some enslaved, and records of a large number departing in a cataclysmic sort of way, after which, the mw came in and dominated for 400 years. Ergo, no mention of "Egypt" in Joshua, Judges and Ruth, or early Samuel, but plenty of references to a powerful Egypt in Kings and Chronicles (contemporary with the New Kingdom).

Making this point clearly would take more space than any sense of internet etiquette would allow me to take on someone else's site, so if you are interested, you can read it in greater detail at

http://siarlysjenkins.blogspot.com/2009/09/was-israel-even-in-egypt.html

Boris said...

Siarlys
It doesn’t matter what time line you want to fantasize about because there isn’t any evidence that every firstborn Egyptian child and animal all died on one night at anytime in the past. There isn’t a shred of evidence for the supposed forty year wandering in the desert by a huge group of people. Both of these supposed events would have left a mountain of unmistakable archaeological evidence had they actually occurred at any time in history. Anthropologists can tell us about the wanderings of tribes of hunter-gatherers from 30,000 years ago in that area of the world from the evidence they left behind but can’t find even a potsherd from this huge nation of people that lived off magic birds for forty years in the desert. The Egyptians were known for recording every fart in their empire. We have construction orders, local government decrees, architectural drawings, instructions for embalming corpses, medical records, detailed grain stock lists from that period, but no mention has been made anywhere of the Exodus events or the Jewish slaves which you'd think would be at least worthy of a footnote. But apparently the pharaoh's shopping lists were much more important than recording major events and catastrophes. The Egyptians did try to eliminate some things and people from history (like the name of Akhenaten, for example). Still these things still made it into the history books.

These events are paramount to the Christian faith and if they did not occur then Christianity is NOT what it claims to be. And of course it isn’t. You have a lot more to worry about than the Exodus. Christianity essentially grafted itself on to an artificial fake tree – Judaism. The early Christians should have checked to see if this olive tree was real before they tried to connect up their religion with it. There isn’t a shred of historical or archaeological evidence that Christianity ever existed in first century Palestine either. That’s because Christianity evolved from older religions such as the Egyptian sun worshipping cults and the Pagan mystery religions. I have to laugh when Christians ask me to explain how and why Christianity spread from Palestine to Rome so fast if it wasn’t a true and dynamic religion. Christianity was founded right where it still sits today – Vatican City in Rome. It spread from there, not to there and that’s where the New Testament was flaked and formed too.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Boris, you're not listening, you're not reading, you're not paying attention. Talking to you about the Exodus is like trying to have a conversation with the kitchen table, to coin a memorable phrase. You are obviously used to making snide remarks to people who don't know much about your subject matter, and you can't handle a real debate. I get more mutually respectful dialog discussing evolution with born-again Christians, much more. Most of what you simply dismiss with a wave of your hand is quite available. And no, Egyptians did not record everything, nor is the record we have complete, nor do archaeologists have a complete record of every nomadic tribe in human history, just a nice sampling.

Now as to Christianity, you would find that any Orthodox knucklehead could out-do you on why Christianity is an idolatrous syncretism. But it is not true that there was no trace of it in Judea. There is, for example, the twelfth benediction inserted into the Tifflah about 85 AD, blotting out Christians in the midst of the synagogue. There were Jewish followers of the Nazarene, just as there were gentile followers. Why do you give credence to the dubious claims of the Bishops of Rome to be founders and leaders of the Christian faith? The ink wasn't dry on their claims when they made them.

Dig your head out of the sand Boris. Life is real. If you choose to deny about 50% of world history because it doesn't suit your prejudices, and sustain that on the broadest possible sort of guilt by association (every fact is false because there are untruths in the world), that's your problem.

Boris said...

I'm not denying history. I'm denying that the Bible is history because it isn't. It isn't written like history it's written like what it is: mythology. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck.....

Historical narratives do not contain the kind of word for word dialog of people speaking in complete sentences we find in the Bible. That is a a hallmark of fiction writing. The Bible is fiction like it or not. None of the events described in its pages ever happened and none of the major figures from Adam to Jesus and Paul ever existed. These events and people could not have gone completely unnoticed and unmentioned by every history writer of those eras. Once you unravel all the hocus-pocus and apologetic smokescreens that fooled you, one can see the Bible fro what it really is.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Boris, by the standards of archaeology you propose, the Muslim conquest of Egypt didn't happen either, because there have been no excavations of massive numbers of camel hoofprints found in the sands of the Sinai. I mean, what do you expect to find of the people who followed Moses? An escarpment of quail bones tracing their path? Lost tent stakes buried in ten feet of sand? I am also reminded of one of Charles Dickens's introductions to Oliver Twist, in which he notes that in parliamentary debate, a bill for a modest renewal of the London slums had been voted down, amid great sarcasm about the area known as Jacob's Island being a mere fiction from the novels of Mr. Dickens. The author responded with a bit of sarcasm of his own, including something along the lines that Julius Caesar had vanished from world history once Shakespeare wrote a play about him, and the French Revolution had never happened, because it was the subject of his own novel, A Tale of Two Cities. You are correct that the Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Writings, are not works of history. Do you also deny that Babylon and Assyria possessed empires, because both are described in multiple books of the Bible? Perhaps there was no Persian empire, in which case what did Alexander conquer? Maybe he was a myth too. There is no physical evidence he ever had a horse named Bucephalas. The Iliad too was mythical, but against all the derision of orthodox historians, Heinrich Schleimann did find about seven layers of occupation. We may never know the full truth of every detail, but you have denied the broad outlines in toto. You conspicuously refrain from answering any evidence anyone else points to, merely rushing on to your own glorious assertion that there is nothing to talk about. I don't expect to prevail upon you to change your mind, but I see no reason to take you seriously. From this point, I shall adhere to the old adage about not arguing with a fool, and if you have a shred of self-respect, you will insult me back by also remaining silent.

Boris said...

I'll take that as a white flag from a sore loser.

The Pharisee said...

Is Boris gone then?

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!