Apparent Contradictions


How the Anti-missionaries use Unequal Weights and Measures
Part 2: Apparent Contradictions
James Scott Trimm

As we stated in Part 1, the Torah teaches us a principle of using equal weights of measures:

35 You shall do no unrighteousness: in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure.
36 Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall you have: I am YHWH your Elohim, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.
(Lev. 19:35-36 HRV)

13 You shall not have in your bag diverse weights–a great and a small.
14 You shall not have in your house diverse measures–a great and a small.
15 A perfect and just weight shall you have; a perfect and just measure shall you have, that your days may be long upon the land which YHWH your Elohim gives you.
16 For all that do such things, even all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto YHWH your Elohim.
(Deut. 25:13-16 HRV)

This is a principle that tells us that we must use the same standard of measurement in judging others as we use when judging ourselves.  In the same way we must judge the beliefs of others by the same standards that we judge our own beliefs.  Likewise we must not judge the contents of the so-called “New Testament” by a different standard that we judge the Tanak.

Anti-missionaries like Tovia Singer violate this principle because they regularly judge the contents of the so-called “New Testament” by a stricter standard than they judge the Tanak.

An argument that proves too much, proves nothing at all.  In this case an argument which would also disprove the contents of the Tanak is not a valid Jewish argument against the contents of the so-called “New Testament.”

Apparent Contradictions

Anti-missionaries will argue that the books of the so-called “New Testament” are filled with contradictions.  For example, the will point out an apparent contradiction between Matthew and Mark on the one hand:

And after six days, Yeshua took Kefa and Ya’akov, and Yochanan his brother, and
brought them up to a high mountain, apart.
(Matt. 17:1)

And after six days, Yeshua took Kefa, and Ya’akov, and Yochanan, and took them up
into a great mountain privately: and was changed before their eyes.
(Mark 9:2)

And Luke on the other hand:

And it happened that about eight days after these words, Yeshua took Kefa, and
Ya’akov, and Yochanan, and ascended a mountain to pray.
(Luke 9:28)

In fact this supposed contradiction is easily resolved.  This is merely the difference between exclusive and inclusive counting.  Matthew and Mark use exclusive counting and only counts the days which fell between the starting and ending days, while Luke uses inclusive counting and includes the starting and ending days in his count.

Another favorite of the Anti-missionaries is the apparent contradiction between:

And it was the third hour when they crucified Him.
(Mark 15:25)


And it was the day of preparation for Pesach, and it was about the sixth hour. And he said to the Judeans, Behold, your king.
(Jn. 19:14)

“Hours” as we know them had not yet been invented.  Some systems divided a day into twelve “hours” others into twenty-four “hours”.  Some divided only daylight time into “hours” while other systems divided daytime into “hours” and nighttime into “watches”.

Mark is using the common Jewish reckoning, where the day would start at sundown and be broken into segments. We still see this today as observant Jews start their observance of the Sabbath at sundown. Under this system the “third hour” was about noon.

By the secular Roman reckoning, time was divided differently and the segments were longer. Ancient Roman sundials show that the daylight hours were divided into twelve equal segments, or hours. However, there were only two major segments, daytime and nighttime, with the hours beginning at sunrise and counted until sunset. Under this system the “sixth hour” in Roman time was also about noon.

Now while anti-missionaries make much of such apparent contradictions in the so called “New Testament” they do not measure the NT by the same standard as they measure the Tanak because the Tanak is also filled with alleged contradictions.

For example:

“And again the anger of YHWH was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.” (2Sam. 24:1) … but wait, the parallel passage in 1Chon. 21:1 says “And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.”

On the surface this appears to be a contradiction. But in reality this is an idiom by which an active verb is used in connection with YHWH, not to say that He did something, but actually to say that he ALLOWED it to happen in his sovereignty over the universe.

There are many other examples:

Jehoiachin was 18 years old when he began to reign. 2 Ki.24:8.
Jehoiachin was 8 years old when he began to reign. 2 Chr.36:9.

(In this case the contradiction is a scribal error in the Masoretic Text and some manuscripts of the Septuagint.  Some Hebrew manuscripts, the Peshitta Aramaic Tanak and the Alexandrian text of the Septuagint have “eighteen”)

Jehoiachin reigned 3 months. 2 Ki.24:8.
Jehoiachin reigned 3 months and 10 days. 2 Chr.36:9.

The census count was: Israel 800,000 and Judah 500,000. 2 Sam.24:9.
The census count was: Israel 1,100,000 and Judah 470,000. 1 Chr.21:5.

The two pillars were 18 cubits high. 1 Ki.7:15.
The two pillars were 35 cubits high. 2 Chr.3:15.

420 talents of gold were brought back from Ophir. 1 Ki.9:28.
450 talents of gold were brought back from Ophir. 2 Chr.8:18.

One could go on, but it is not my intent here to tear down the Tanak.  I firmly believe in the inspiration of every word of the Tanak.  I believe that any and all apparent contradictions can ultimately be explained.

The seven rules of Hillel are regarded in Judaism as the most basic rules of Jewish hermeneutics.  The sixth of the seven rules of Hillel is  “Kayotze bo mimekom akhar” (analogy made from another passage).  This rule says that two passages may seem to conflict until a third resolves the conflict.

Examples in the Tanak:

Leviticus 1:1 “out of the tent of meeting” and Exodus 25:22 “from above the ark of the covenant between the chrubim” seem to disagree until we examine Numbers 7:89 where we learn that Moses entered the tent of meeting to hear YHWH speaking from between the cherubim.

1 Chronicles 27:1 explained the numerical disagreement between 2 Samuel 24:9 and 1 Chronicles 21:5.

Exodus 19:20 “YHWH came down upon Mount Sinai” seems to disagree with Deuteronomy 4:36 “Out of Heaven He let you hear His voice”.   Exodus 20:19 (20:22 in some editions) reconciles the two by telling us that Elohim brought the heavens down to the mount and spoke. (m.Sifra 1:7)

This is similar to what the Reformers called “ANALOGIA SCRIPTURA” “the analogy of Scripture.”  This principle tells us that if we understand two passages in a way that they contradict each other then we are misunderstanding one or both of them.

However like a man who lives in a glass house throwing stones, the Anti-missionaries do not use equal weights and measures in this regard.  While the Tanak itself is filled with alleged historical inaccuracies the anti-missionaries attack the so-called New Testament for containing alleged contradictions.


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