Moses, who was one of the most-learned in Egypt, has been attacked in several cases to undermine biblical authority. This is another of those attacks to get people to doubt that God was speaking through Moses. Let’s evaluate such a claim in more detail. The passage reads:
These are the birds [05775 Pwe ‘owph] you are to detest and not eat because they are detestable: the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, the red kite, any kind of black kite, any kind of raven, the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat.
The Hebrew word for bird is actually owph which means “fowl/winged creature.”1 The word owph simply means “to fly” or “has a wing.” So, the word includes birds, bats, and even flying insects. The alleged problem appears due to translation of owph as bird. Birds are included in the word owph, but owph is not limited to birds. This shows that translators aren’t always perfect when handling the inerrant Word of God.
The bats and birds thing is only a translational misconception from the original Hebrew text.
For the birth defects, just watch this video:
As for Babel:
Babel comes from two words: “gate” (bab) and “god” (el), which means “gate to heaven” or “gate of god.” It came to mean confusion or “babble” because of what Genesis 11:1–9 says happened there.
1And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. 2And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. 3And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. 4And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. 5And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. 6And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. 7Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. 8So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. 9Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
What was the significance and purpose of Noah’s descendents building the tower?
In our view, the tower of Babel was almost certainly an early ziggurat or temple tower. It is difficult to imagine ziggurats being anything other than what is described as the Tower of Babel. Almost every city in the region had one in it. Temples owned the land around the city, theoretically at least. Sumerian society built up around temples, economically and geographically. What was true of the first society after the Flood was true of all to follow—except Israel, whose God was Jehovah.
The religio-political systems that developed in early cities would later expand into empires. Babel was just the first. Fifty-four miles south of Baghdad, it was a huge city in its heyday, with walls 14 miles (23 km) long and 135 feet (41 m) thick. The famous Hanging Gardens were a part of the temple tower. Among many archaeological treasures discovered in the city were the clay tablets with the Enuma Elish Creation Epic, which some scholars mistakenly say inspired the biblical creation story. However, even a cursory reading of the Enuma Elish shows that it is a later corruption of the true account in Scripture.
The tower had a small temple on top for the patron god. It would not be Jehovah, the Creator, but a god of their own choosing. At Babylon the god was, no doubt, Marduk. The tower on top was to reach up to heaven. Why? In defiance of Jehovah and to establish their own power and might. As they said, “Let us make us a name lest we be scattered.” Then they devised a religio-political system that bound men in slavery.
Each city had its own gods, and the king of the city had to be accepted by its gods. In it the ruler was like a “divine” king. (For a complete exposé of the system, see Fustel de Coulange’s The Ancient City, and Henri Frankfort’s Kingship and the Gods.)
Abraham rejected these city systems. If he was to serve God, he had to leave the city because of what took place there. All citizens were expected to take part in special calendar days, including the first day of the new year when the king supposedly cohabited with a goddess in the temple on top of the ziggurat to assure a good harvest. In light of this, God’s warning in Revelation 18:4 gains new meaning: “Come out of her [Babylon, a symbolic term for Rome] my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not her plagues.” Thus we can see the dilemma Abraham would have been in if he had stayed there.
The biblical account of “Jacob’s ladder” in Genesis 28:17 is yet another hint that the tower at Bab-el was built as a gate to heaven, similar to ziggurats. Jacob fell asleep and dreamed that angels were going up and down a “ladder,” while the Lord was above in heaven, promising to give Jacob the land He had promised Abraham. Jacob was afraid that he had stumbled into a sacred place and said, “How dreadful is this place. This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
What does this place, this “ladder,” actually look like? When we used the Bible to find the location of Bethel north of Jerusalem, where this incident took place, we discovered a mountain between Bethel and Ai. The west side of this mountain had huge natural terraces, which from a distance looked like the wide steps (Hebrew: sulam used only here in the Bible) of monumental buildings.1 Comparing this passage with the passage in Genesis 11:1–9, we can see the contrast between God in heaven and mankind’s puny efforts to rebel at Babel.
Even today, the mountains are a reminder of our insignificance in the face of God’s judgment.
Dr. David Livingston founded and directed Associates for Biblical Research for 25 years. Searching for the actual location of biblical cities, Dr. Livingston has made excavations in Jerusalem, Jericho, Jezreel, Gezer, and biblical Ai (at Khirbet Nisya).
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The following notes are from C.J. Gadd, “The Cities of Babylonia,” Cambridge Ancient History, fasc. 9, 1965, pp. 10–12.
“There were no temples, and consequently no places for the gods [rulers] to inhabit and enjoy the life of ease which their realms should afford them.”
“Their answer to this need was the creation of man, whom all the Babylonian myths regard as a mere tool for the service of his makers. . . . He (man) was formed from the blood of slain gods . . .” There was a time before cities existed, but with the creation of man and his concentration these came into existence . . . It was essential to the plan of using men for providing a life of plenty and ease to the gods that these creatures should be disciplined and directed. There must be a manager or foreman, since the gods dwelt apart, and could not condescend to be their own taskmasters. Consequently, before civilization could even begin, there must be the institution of kingship and hierarchy (our emphasis). With this the stage was fully set: the gods had their dominions, their slaves to toil upon them, and their representatives on earth [“divine” kings], who were to direct the work, to secure its fruits to the divine proprietors, and protect the estates against attack.” This, then, was the motive for Enuma Elish.
As for the insects in Leviticus:
Everything that the Bible states about Science is true. Science may be behind what the Scriptures reveal. The Bible is NOT a textbook on Science, but any time it reveals incidentally a fact of science, it is without error.
The case you bring up is interesting. I think there are a number of explanations possible. “Four” is the wrong word to look at in the original in this situation. This is apparently a problem word for the translators. Let me illustrate. Here is how the main translations in English have translated this passage.
20* ¶ ‘All the winged insects that walk on all fours are detestable to you. 21* ‘Yet these you may eat among all the winged insects which walk on all fours: those which have above their feet jointed legs with which to jump on the earth. 22* ‘These of them you may eat: the locust in its kinds, and the devastating locust in its kinds, and the cricket in its kinds, and the grasshopper in its kinds. 23 ‘But all other winged insects which are four-footed are detestable to you.
20* ¶ All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you. 21* Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth; 22* Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind. 23 But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you.
20* ¶ “`All flying insects that walk on all fours are to be detestable to you. 21* There are, however, some winged creatures that walk on all fours that you may eat: those that have jointed legs for hopping on the ground. 22* Of these you may eat any kind of locust, katydid, cricket or grasshopper. 23 But all other winged creatures that have four legs you are to detest.
20* ¶ All winged creeping things that go upon all fours are an abomination unto you. 21* Yet these may ye eat of all winged creeping things that go upon all fours, which have legs above their feet, wherewith to leap upon the earth. 22* Even these of them ye may eat: the locust after its kind, and the bald locust after its kind, and the cricket after its kind, and the grasshopper after its kind. 23 But all winged creeping things, which have four feet, are an abomination unto you. Lev.11:20-23 (YLT) 20* ¶ `Every teeming creature which is flying, which is going on four–an abomination it is to you. 21* `Only–this ye do eat of any teeming thing which is flying, which is going on four, which hath legs above its feet, to move with them on the earth; 22* these of them ye do eat: the locust after its kind, and the bald locust after its kind, and the beetle after its kind, and the grasshopper after its kind; 23 and every teeming thing which is flying, which hath four feet–an abomination it is to you.
The Hebrew word for “insects” in the 95NAS, NIV, is the same word that the KJV translates “fowls that creep” and the ASV translates “winged creeping things.” Young’s Literal Translation translates this word “teeming creature which is flying.” I think you can see, this is a difficult Hebrew word to translate. The Hebrew word, according to the lexicon is:
Which means literally:
1) teeming or swarming things, creepers, swarmers
1a) of insects, animals, small reptiles, quadrupeds
When you go from one language to another (in this case from Hebrew to English) it is often IMPOSSIBLE to find an exact equivalent in translation. Therefore, what the translators TRY to do is find the closest word in English which conveys the meaning. If you look at the original in this case, it does NOT specify “insects” only, although insects are certainly part of the consideration. The word “insect” is PROBABLY (in my humble opinion) NOT the best word which could have been used here. And the reason is because of the problem it presents in conveying a possible “discrepancy.” As you properly noted, the whole point was to let the Israelites know what they could eat, and what they could not eat. In Hebrew the words used by God gave them a clear picture of which “flying creatures” (my translation) they could eat. It was not a word which was specifically talking about insects.
As for Joshua 10:12-14 – How is it possible for the sun to stand still for a whole day?
Problem: During the battle with the kings of the land, God gave Israel the power to overcome their enemies. As the armies of the people of the land fled from before Israel, oshua sought the Lord to cuase the sun to stand still so tat they might have suffieienct daylight to complete the destruction of their enemies. But how could the sun stand still in the mids of the heaven for a whole day?
Solution: First, it is not necessary to conclude that the earth’s rotation was totally halted. Verse 13 states that the sun “did not hasten to go down for about a whold day.” This could indicated that earth’s rotation was not completely halted, but that it was retarded to such a degree that the sun did not set for about a whole day. Or, it is possible that god caused the light of the sun to refract through some cosmic “mirror” so that it could be seen a day longer.
Even if the earth’s rotation was completely stoped, we must remember that God is not only capable of halting the rotation of the earth for a whole day, but He is also able to prevent any possible catastrophic effects that might result form the cessation of the earth’s rotation. Although we do not necessarily know HOW God brought about this miraculous event, we know THAT He did it.
Finally, the Bible speaks in everyday oberservational language. So the sun did not ACTUALLY stop; it only APPEARED to do so.
The Bible was written for the common man in the common language. It uses everyday observational language. This does not mean that the Bible is un-scientific, it is merely pre-scientific.
For example, Joshua 10:12 speaks of the sun “standing still” and Joshua 1:16 speaks of the sun “rising.” But even contemporary meteorologists of today speak of “sunrise” and sunset!” No scientist today says: “Honey, look at the beautiful earth rotation!”
Although the Bible is divinely inspired, it was still recorded by humans for humans, and used human writing styles and common everyday language.
1. It was written in human languages (Heb. & Greek).
2. It has human authors (about 40).
3. It has human literary styles (Amos to Luke).
4. It uses human literary forms (poetry, parables, and allegory).
5. It reflects different human perspectives (e.g., shepherd, priest, and prophet).
6. It reveals different human thought patters (e.g., logic of Romans and memory loss in 1 Cor. 1).
7. It reflects human emotions (e.g., Rom. 9:2).
8. It manifest human interest (e. g., Luke’s medical interest and James’ love of nature).
9. It utilized human sources (Greek poets in Acts 17 and other writings—Josh. 10; Lk. 1).
10. It is expressed in human culture (kiss, veil, and sandals).
As for 1 Kings 20:30, yes that was a massive wall. You see, in biblical texts, ‘wall’ refers to not just one wall, but the wall of the entire city, including towers, and the building attached to the inside of the wall. So yes, that is one pretty large wall, an entire city’s worth in fact, and most definitely capablie of killing thousands if God brought down the wall.
As for 2 Kings 20:11 – How could the shadow retreat by ten degrees on the stairway of Ahaz?
Problem: In response to Hezekiah’s prayer, God instructed Isaiah to prophesy to Hezekiah that God would add 15 years to Hezekiah’s life. When he heard this, Hezekiah asked for a sign to confirm God’s promise. The sign was that the shadow would retreat ten degrees. But, this would involve making the shadow go backward instead of forward as the sun set. How could the shadow retreat?
Solution: Obviously, this was a miracle. Hezekiah realized that it would not be a miraculous confirmation of God’s promise if the sign involved some phenomenon that could be easily explained (2 Kigns 20:10). It was the miraculous nature of the event that qualified it as a sign from God. Any attempt at an explanation of how this was accomplished would be pure speculation. Although God can employ the forces of nature to accomplish His purposes, He can also accomoplish His will in a way that defies natural explanation. God can perform miracles, and this was a miracle.
And what do you mean by something better? Setting back the shadow isn’t enough of a miracle? If I saw that, I would surely be convinced as Hezekiah was as it being a sign of affirmation from God.
There will always be things that we can’t explain. Such as the woman who was paralyzed for years who walked out of church that day when she was prayed over. Science has no explanation for an occurrence. It was a miracle of God. Just because it doesn’t seem possible, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, as it clearly did, and was witnessed by hundreds of people. As I have said before, if we could explain God and all of the mysteries of God in their entirety, we ourselves would be gods, which is not the case.