The Old Testament:
The Torah, Historical Chronicles,
And Wisdom and Poetical Literature
(Pentateuch As a Whole)
(Genesis – Deuteronomy)
In the chapters that follow, a somewhat different method of marshalling evidence will be followed than that utilized in the Over-View chapter. We will, with some exceptions, be presenting the argumentation in the form of an outline, with major headings and the citation of supporting textual evidence. On the one hand, it is highly tempting to add observations of various types. Yet little or no commentary is really required for the passages to make their full impact.
Indeed, any prolonged effort at elaboration might well distract attention from their cumulative significance. In fact, it is the cumulative power of the Bible's self-portrait that is our main point: The assertion of the Scripture's inspiration, credibility, and reliability represents not some modern theological development but lies at the very heart of the Bible's picture of itself.
A. Old Testament acceptance of Moses' inspiration
Judges 3:4: "And they were for testing Israel, to find out if they would obey the commandments of the Lord, which He had commanded their fathers through Moses."
2 Chronicles 34:14: "When they were bringing out the money which had been brought into the house of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found the book of the law of the Lord given by Moses."
Isaiah 63:11 may refer to Moses' possession of the miraculous gift of the Spirit by which God revealed His will, "Then His people remembered the days of old, of Moses. Where is He who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of His flock? Where is He who put His Holy Spirit within them?"
[Page 15] The King James Version renders the last word of the verse as "him," making the possession of the Spirit as given specifically to Moses. Though the New American Standard uses the plural "them" in its text, it notes in the margin, "Literally, 'him.' " Both the New King James Version, Revised Standard Version, and original American Standard Version, all translate "them" without any dissenting marginal note.
Hosea 12:13 unquestionably returns to this theme of Moses being a prophet, "But by a prophet the Lord brought Israel from Egypt, and by a prophet he was kept."
Although Nehemiah 9:20 does not specify Moses in particular as delivering the instruction, it does directly assert that the Israelites in the wilderness were the recipients of inspired teaching, “You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, Your manna You did not withhold from their mouth, and You gave them water for their thirst.”
B. New Testament acceptance of Moses' inspiration
(1) Moses wrote the commandment of God
Jesus rebuked His listeners in Mark 7:8-10, " 'Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.' He was also saying to them, 'You nicely set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. For Moses said, "Honor your father and your mother;" and "He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death." ' "
(2) The Divine origin of Moses' writings is indicated by using the terms "law of Moses" and "law of the Lord" as equivalent expressions
Luke 2:22-24: "And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, 'Every first-born male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord') and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, 'A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.'
C. Since Moses wrote fulfilled prophecy of future events, he must have received supernatural guidance
Acts 26:22, "And so, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place."
Acts 28:23: "And when they had set a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God, and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, and from morning until evening."
D. Three aspects of Moses' teaching work indicate both the external origin of his teaching and how, when given, he was not permitted to alter it.
(1) He is presented as an inspired prophet
Exodus 4:11-16: "And the Lord said to him, 'Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes him dumb or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now then go, and I, even I will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.' But he said, 'Please, Lord, now send by whoever Thou wilt.' Then the anger of the Lord burned against Moses, and He said, 'Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently. And moreover, behold, he is coming out to meet you; when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. And you are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do. Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and it shall come about that he shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be as God to him.' "
Deuteronomy 18:18: "I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him."
(2) He is presented as placing the verbal message he had received in written form
Exodus 17:14: "And the Lord said to Moses, 'Write this in a book as a memorial, and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.' "
Exodus 24:3-4: "Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, 'All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do!' And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. Then he arose early in the morning, and built an altar. . . ."
Exodus 34:27: "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.' "
Note that the oral teaching was committed to writing so that the people would know with confidence what God's covenant required. This motive required the committing to writing of the entire covenant or Israel would have remained in uncertainty due to it lacking parts of the Divine will. The same process of reasoning argues that [Page 17] when the New Testament was composed, God assured that the completeness of the new gospel message was also committed to the written page.
Numbers 33:2: "And Moses recorded their starting places according to their journeys by the command of the Lord, and these are their journeys according to their starting places."
Deuteronomy 31:9, "So Moses wrote this law and gave it
to the priests, the sons of Levi who carried the ark of the covenant of the
Lord, and to all the elders of
(3) Altering the text of the Law Moses wrote was specifically prohibited so that succeeding generations would be able to do what the Lord desired, indicating again that the Lord had originated the teaching that Moses committed to writing
Deuteronomy 4:2, "You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you."
Deuteronomy 12:32: "Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to it nor take away from it."
For the Pentateuch to have begun with a "Mosaical core" (of who knows what size) and to have been supplemented by later writings and codified and recodified upon at least several major occasions, makes mincemeat out of the history of the giving of the Mosaical Law recorded in the Pentateuch. If true, it creates the gravest of ethical difficulties in the conscious implementation of such a scheme--falsely presenting one's own recent compositions as another's ancient ones.
If the Pentateuch's demands for honesty and integrity were not sufficient to protect against such practices, one wonders how the re-editors could have encountered such prohibitions against expanding or contracting the text without the severest attacks of self-reproach. Hypocrisy among religious people is far from unknown, but the kind of hypocrisy that would permit one to undertake massive alterations in the text while facing such explicit prohibitions against textual tampering, would reduce the very concept of hypocrisy to a new low. Be that as it may, the Bible consistently rejects such a scenario and attributes the Pentateuch to one author, the man Moses.
This is not to deny that there may be brief supplemental sections present from different hands—in particular the account of Moses’ death.
Nor is it impossible that what we have were originally distinct and separate manuscripts of varying lengths and that at some point after his death all the Mosaical originals were woven together into the Pentateuch as we now have it. Or that it was done under Moses’ personal supervision toward the end of his life. (My preferred scenario if this approach is taken at all.)
As to reproduction of parts rather than the total Pentateuch, it would not be irrational to suspect that Leviticus circulated as an independent document within the priestly community since its contents were so specifically for their benefit or that Genesis would be provided those teaching the history of the People.
[Page 18] Indeed, some or all of the narratives that make up Genesis may even have enjoyed independent circulation before Moses came on the scene and been edited into their current form by him to provide Israel a concise and authoritative account of its historical roots. Finding clear attributions of Genesis, as a whole, to Moses, is far harder than finding clear cut evidence for the remainder of the Pentateuch. However--as we will see next--we find repeated affirmations of the historicity of many of its events, its inspiration, and the Divine origin of many statements recorded therein. In short, fully reliable history.
Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability: 16
Old Testament acceptance of Moses' inspiration 5
New Testament acceptance of Moses' inspiration 2
Moses’ successful prediction of future events implies inspiration 2
Moses is presented as an inspired prophet 2
He transferred the received verbal message into written form 5
The written text could not be altered, indicating its abiding authoritativeness 2
A. New Testament claims of inspiration for Genesis
(1) The book is cited as "Scripture" in the New Testament with all that implies of the book's inspiration
In regard to the promise made to Abraham (Galatians 3:8, quoting Genesis 18:18): "And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, 'All the nations shall be blessed in you.' "
In regard to Abraham's faith (quoting Genesis 15:6 in both cases): "For what
does the Scripture say? 'And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as
righteousness' " (Romans 4:3). "And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, 'And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,' and he was called the friend of God" (James 2:23).
[Page 19] In regard to Hagar's fate (Galatians 4:30, quoting Genesis 21:10): "But what does the Scripture say? 'Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman.' "
(2) Words of the narrator of the book of Genesis are cited as God's words, indicating that the narrator was speaking by inspiration
In regard to the oneness that God intends in marriage (quoting Genesis 2:24 in both cases): "And He [Jesus] answered and said, 'Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, "For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh"?' " (Matthew 19:4-5). "Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a harlot is one body with her? For He says, 'The two will become one flesh' " (1 Corinthians 6:16).
In regard to God resting on the seventh day (Hebrews 4:4, quoting Genesis 2:2): "For He has thus said somewhere concerning the seventh day, 'And God rested on the seventh day from all His works.' "`
B. New Testament acceptance of the fact that God spoke various things attributed to Him in Genesis
(1) That God ordered light to appear out of darkness (2 Corinthians 4:6, confirming Genesis 1:3).
(2) That Abraham's descendants would be held captive for several centuries and ultimately liberated (Acts 7:6-7, confirming Genesis 15:13-14).
(3) That Abraham's descendants would be traced through Isaac (Hebrews 11:17-18, confirming Genesis 21:12).
Since these statements are placed in contexts many hundreds of years before the human pensman of Genesis wrote, the only way for him to have correctly known that God had once indeed spoken these words was if he himself were blessed with the gift of inspiration. Hence the text assumes the inspiration of the pensman.
C. New Testament endorsement of the historical accuracy of events recorded in Genesis
[Page 20] Many of the events referred to in this section (especially those prior to the Genesis Flood) are widely questioned and outright rejected as allegories, myths, or whatever term an individual prefers to distance himself from the blunt rejection that is hidden behind the rhetoric. If the rejection concerned only one or two of these events, one could understand how even the most devout believer in the Scriptures might be bothered to the point of skepticism.
But when one finds the phenomena repeatedly occurring of the Scriptures accepting the genuineness of events that much of modern theology repudiates, one is brought face to face with the fact that more is involved than acceptance or rejection of an isolated event. One is forced to the conclusion that the core beliefs, assumptions, and convictions of the Bible writers are diametrically opposed to those of much of the modern religious world.
If one comes to the conclusion that the Bible writers are correct, then one embraces the Scriptural events as genuine history. On the other hand, if one feels the intellectual necessity of rejecting the historicity of these events, one must come to terms with the fact that one is not rejecting a mere incidental or two but an entire series of events that the Bible repeatedly accepts. It becomes a matter, not of rejecting an event but of gutting entire sections of the text because it offends one's sense of what could "really" have occurred in a bygone age, far beyond our own ability to directly and personally document.
(1) Fourteen events of the pre-Flood world that are accepted as genuine history
(1) The world being created rather than a chance occurrence (Acts 14:15; Hebrews 3:34, confirming Genesis 1:1).
(2) God created light (2 Corinthians 4:6, confirming Genesis 1:3).
(3) Man created by God (1 Timothy 2:13, confirming Genesis 2:7).
(4) The male created first; then the female (1 Timothy 2:13; 1 Corinthians 11:9, confirming Genesis 2:18).
(5) Man created in God's image (James 3:9; 1 Corinthians 11:7, confirming Genesis 1:26-27).
(6) Woman created from man (1 Corinthians 11:8, confirming Genesis 2:20-22).
(7) Adam "one man," a specific individual (Romans 5:12, 16-19, confirming the Genesis portrayal).
(8) Devil tempted Eve (2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:14, confirming Genesis 3:1-7).
(9) Death entered the world through Adam (1 Corinthians 15:20-21, confirming Genesis 2:16-17).
(10) Abel offered a sacrifice (Hebrews 11:4, confirming Genesis 4:4-5).
(11) Cain murdered Abel (1 John 3:11-12, confirming Genesis 4:5-8).
(12) Enoch did not die on earth (Genesis 11:5, confirming Genesis 5:21-24).
(13) Noah built an ark (Hebrews 11:7, confirming Genesis 6:13-14).
(14) A universal flood that destroyed all outside the ark of Noah (Luke 17:27; 1 Peter 3:20-21; 2 Peter 2:5; 2 Peter 3:5-6, confirming Genesis 7:19-23)
(2) Thirteen events of Abraham's lifetime are treated as actually occurring
(1) Divine call of Abraham to move to Palestine (Hebrews 11:8-10, confirming Genesis 12:1-4).
(2) Abraham lived in Haran before completing his journey to Palestine (Acts 7:2-4, confirming Genesis 12:4-5).
(3) Abraham lived in Palestine (as did Isaac and Jacob) (Hebrews 11:9, confirming Genesis 12:6-9).
(4) Palestine promised to Abraham and his descendants (Acts 7:5, confirming Genesis 13:14-15).
(5) Melchizedek was both priest and king (Hebrews 7:1-3, confirming Genesis 14:17-20).
(6) Ishmael was born to Abraham, was cast out, and his mother (Hagar) was a slave (Galatians 4:21-31, confirming Genesis 16:1-4; 21:9-14).
(7) Circumcision instituted as part of the covenant with Abraham (Acts 7:8, confirming Genesis 17:10).
(8) Sarah miraculously given ability to bear a child in her old age (Hebrews 11:11-12, confirming Genesis 17:15-19).
(9) Sarah called Abraham "lord" (1 Peter 3:6, confirming Genesis 18:12).
(10) Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed (Luke 17:28-30, confirming Genesis 19:24-25).
(11) Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed specifically because of their sin (2 Peter 2:6-9, confirming Genesis 18:20-33; 19:15, 19-22, 29).
(12) Fate of Lot's wife (Luke 17:32, confirming Genesis 19:26).
(13) Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice (Hebrews 11:17-19, confirming Genesis 22:1-12).
(3) Twelve events during the lives of the following patriarchs are referred to as genuine history
(1) Rebekah bore twins (Jacob and Esau) (Romans 9:10-11, confirming Genesis 25:21-22, 24).
(2) Rebekah told that the "older will serve younger" (Romans 9:11-12, confirming Genesis 25:21-23).
(3) Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau (Hebrews 11:20, confirming Genesis 27:27-29, 38-41).
(4) Isaac sold his birthright (Hebrews 12:16-17, confirming Genesis 25:27-34).
(5) Jacob had twelve sons (Acts 7:8, confirming Genesis 35:22-36).
(6) Joseph envied by his brothers and sold into slavery (Acts 7:9, confirming Genesis 37:11, 26-28).
(7) Joseph made high government official in Egypt (Acts 7:10, confirming Genesis 41:39-44).
(8) Joseph's brothers sent to Egypt for grain because of famine (Acts 7:11-12, confirming Genesis 42:1-3).
(9) On their second buying trip to Egypt, Joseph revealed his true identity (Acts 7:13, confirming Genesis 45:1-4).
[Page 22] (10). Jacob traveled to
(11) Jacob blessed Joseph's sons (Hebrews 11:21, confirming Genesis 48:1-2, 9).
(12) Jacob buried in tomb purchased by Abraham (Acts 7:16, confirming Genesis 49:13).
Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability: 34
Since Genesis is cited as "Scripture" it has an implied endorsement as inspired 3
The narrator is cited as speaking the words of God, indicating inspiration 2
New Testament acceptance that God actually spoke things attributed to Him 4
New Testament endorsement of the historicity of events recorded in Genesis
Events of the pre-Flood world 14
Events of Abraham's lifetime 13
Events of the lives of the following patriarchs 12
A. Internal claims that the record was inspired
(1) Throughout the book, numerous statements are presented claiming to be the actual words spoken by God Himself. These come in two forms. The first are those references in the midst of historical narrative that refer to God as doing the speaking and the statement is only a sentence or two long (Exodus 13:1-2, for example). These are so much on the surface of the text and readily obvious they do not require explicit documentation, neither in our treatment of this book nor in more than summary form in our analysis of other Bible books.
[Page 23] The second type of reference are those including terms such as "the Lord said to Moses" (Exodus 20:22), that serve as an introduction to a longer section of text in which direct and prolonged commandment is given to Moses or the people. The following are cases where this phenomena occurs in the book of Exodus. When the introductory statement is substantially different it is quoted.
(1) Exodus 20:1, "Then God spoke all these words," introducing 20:2-17.
(2) Exodus 20:22, introducing 20:22-23:33.
(3) Exodus 25:1, introducing 25:2-30:38.
(4) Exodus 31:1, introducing 31:2-31:17
(5) Exodus 34:10, "Then God said," introducing 34:10-34:27.
(6) Exodus 35:1, "These are the commandments that the Lord has commanded you to do," introducing 35:2-35:19.
(7) Exodus 40:1, introducing 40:2-40:15.
(2) The original tablets of the Ten Commandments were solely God's work: "And the tablets were God's work, and the writing was God's writing engraved on the tablets" (Exodus 32:16). "These words the Lord spoke to all your assembly at the mountain from the midst of the fire, of the cloud and of the thick gloom, with a great voice, and He added no more. And he wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me" (Deuteronomy 5:22).
(3) The replacement tablets were also written on without human assistance: "Now the Lord said to Moses, 'Cut out for yourself two stone tablets like the former ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets which you shattered' " (Exodus 34:1).
B. New Testament implicit claim for its inspiration by quoting it as "Scripture"
In regard to God using His power against Pharaoh (Romans , quoting Exodus ): "For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, 'For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate my power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.' "
In regard to the parallel between Christ's body being unbroken in death and the offering of the Passover lamb (John 19:36, quoting Exodus 12:46): "For these things came to pass, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, 'Not a bone of him shall be broken.' "
C. New Testament confirms that God spoke various statements attributed to Him within the book
(1) While speaking to Moses at the burning bush, He claimed to be the God of the patriarchs (Mark 12:26, confirming Exodus 3:4-6).
[Page 24] (2) In giving the Ten Commandments God commanded honoring one's parents (Matthew 15:4, confirming Exodus 20:12).
(3) God gave the death penalty for speaking vilely of one's parents (Matthew 15:4, with probable reference to Exodus 21:17. Alternatively, though less likely, the reference could be to Leviticus 20:9).
(4) God spoke to Moses about mercy (Romans 9:14-15, confirming Exodus 33:19).
D. New Testament endorsement of the historicity of events recorded in Exodus
(1) Nine events from the life of Moses are cited as if genuine history
(1) Growth in numbers of Israelites in Egypt (Acts 7:17, confirming Exodus 1:7).
(2) Rise to the throne of a king who knew not Joseph (Acts 7:18, confirming Exodus 1:8).
(3) Egyptian policy to exterminate newborn (Acts 7:19, confirming Exodus 1:22).
(4) Moses saved from death while an infant (Acts 7:20-21; Hebrews 11:23, confirming Exodus 2:1-10).
(5) Moses killed a brutal taskmaster (Acts 7:23-25, confirming Exodus 2:11-12).
(6) Moses rebuked by Israelites for trying to stop conflict between them (Acts 7:26-28, confirming Exodus 2:13-15).
(7) Moses fled Egypt (Acts 7:29; Hebrews 11:27, confirming Exodus 2:15).
(8) God spoke to Moses from a burning bush (Acts 7:30-31, confirming Exodus 3:2-3).
(9) Moses commissioned to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery (Acts 7:31-35, confirming Exodus 3:15-18).
(2) Ten events from the Exodus are cited as if genuine history
(1) Miracles performed in Egypt before the Exodus began (Acts 7:36, confirming Exodus 3:19-21).
(2) Death of the first born and sprinkling of blood protected the Hebrews from death (Hebrews 11:28, confirming Exodus 12:12-13).
(3) Exodus through the Sea (1 Corinthians 10:1-2; Hebrews 11:29, confirming Exodus 14:21-22).
(4) Manna given to feed the Israelites in the wilderness (John 6:31, 49, 58, confirming Exodus 16:14-16; cf. Numbers 11:7-9).
(5) Adequacy of manna to meet the people's food needs (2 Corinthians 8:15, confirming Exodus 16:18).
[Page 25] (6) Appearance of Mount Sinai when Moses received the Ten commandments/death if the mountain touched (Hebrews 12:18-20, confirming Exodus 19:12).
(7) Laws delivered to Moses at Sinai (Acts , confirming Exodus 20;1).
(8) Blood sprinkled on the people to dedicate them to observing God's law (Hebrews 9:19-21, confirming Exodus 24:6-8).
(9) Building of the Golden Calf (1 Corinthians 10:7; Acts 7:37-41, confirming Exodus 31:1-8, 19).
(10) Moses veiled his face (2 Corinthians 3:13, confirming Exodus 34:33-35).
Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability: 82
God is presented as speaking what is recorded 7
Internal claims that the record was inspired 3
New Testament implicit claim for its inspiration by quoting it as "Scripture" 2
New Testament confirms that God spoke statements attributed to Him in this book 4
New Testament endorsement of the historicity of events recorded in Exodus
Nine events from the life of Moses are cited as if genuine history 9
Ten events from the Exodus are cited as if genuine history 10
A. Thirty-one times sections of the text are specifically introduced as God's revelation
(1) Leviticus 1:1-3:17 is prefaced by the words, "Then the Lord called to Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting by saying" (1:1).
(2) Leviticus 4:1-5:13 is prefaced with the statement, "And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying" (4:1).
(3) Leviticus 5:14-19 is introduced with the assertion, "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying" (5:14).
[Page 26] (4) Leviticus 6:1-18 begins with the claim, "Then the Lord spoke to Moses saying" (6:1).
Similar introductory phraseology is used in the following passages as well:
(5) Leviticus 6:19, introducing 6:19-7:21 as God's revelation.
(6) Leviticus 7:22, introducing 7:22-7:27 as God's will.
(7) Leviticus 7:28, introducing 7:28-7:38 as God's revelation.
(8) Leviticus 8:1, introducing 8:1-5 as God's command.
(9) Leviticus 9:2, introducing 9:2-7 as God's instruction
(10) Leviticus 10:8, introducing 10:8-10:11.
(11) Leviticus 11:1, introducing 11:1-11:47.
(12) Leviticus 12:1, introducing 12:1-12:8.
(13) Leviticus 13:1, introducing 13:1-13:59.
(14) Leviticus 14:1, introducing 14:1-14:32.
(15) Leviticus 14:33, introducing 14:33-14:57.
(16) Leviticus 15:1, introducing 15:1-15:33.
(17) Leviticus 16:1, introducing 16:1-16:34.
(18) Leviticus 17:1, introducing 17:1-17:16.
(19) Leviticus 18:1, introducing 18:1-18:30.
(20) Leviticus 19:1, introducing 19:1-19:37.
(21) Leviticus 20:1, introducing 20:1-20:27.
(22) Leviticus 21:1, introducing 21:1-21:24.
(23) Leviticus 22:1, introducing 22:1-22:33.
(24) Leviticus 23:1, introducing 23:1-23:8.
(25) Leviticus 23:9, introducing 23:9-23:22.
(26) Leviticus 23:23, introducing 23:23-23:32.
(27) Leviticus 23:33, introducing 23:33-23:44.
(28) Leviticus 24:1, introducing 24:1-24:12.
(29) Leviticus 24:13, introducing 24:13-24:23.
(30) Leviticus 25:1, introducing 25:1-26:46.
(31) Leviticus 27:1, introducing 27:1-27:34.
B. New Testament attributions of inspiration to Leviticus
(1) The book is cited as "Scripture"
James 2:8 so quotes Leviticus 19:8, "If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law, according to the Scripture, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing well."
(2) The book is cited as "the Law of the Lord"
This implicit affirmation of the Divine origin of the text can be found in Luke 2:24, which quotes from Leviticus 12:8, "And to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, 'A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.' "
(3) The book contains a moral principle so vital that it was one of the two most important in the entire Old Testament
Matthew 22:38-40 gives this honor to Leviticus 19:18, "This is the great and foremost commandment. And a second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."
C. New Testament affirmation of the Mosaical authorship of Leviticus
(1) The rituals to go through when a person is cured of leprosy came from Moses (Matthew 8:3-4, endorsing the Mosaical authorship of Leviticus 14:2-32).
(2) The death penalty for adultery was decreed through Moses (John 8:4-5, affirming the Mosaical authorship of Leviticus 20:10).
Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability: 117
Various sections of the text are specifically introduced as God's revelation 31
New Testament attributions of inspiration to Leviticus
The book is cited as "Scripture" 1
The book is cited as "the Law of the Lord" 1
It contained one of the two most important moral principles in the O.T. 1
New Testament affirmation of the Mosaical authorship of Leviticus 2
A. Internal claims that the written record was received from God
Once again, the evidence takes the form of the various recorded statements being introduced as having been revealed by God. These textual assertions may be accepted or rejected by the reader of the text, but they have always been part of the text. They represent the clear affirmation of the original pensman that what was being recorded was invented neither by that individual nor a solemn religious convocation but came from an external, Divine source.
(1) 1:1-2: Moses ordered to take a census.
(2) 2:1-2: Where the tribes were to camp in relation to each other.
(3) 4:1-2: Census of descendants of Kohath from the tribe of Levi.
(4) 4:21-22: Census of sons of Gershon of the tribe of Levi.
(5) 5:1-2: How to treat cases of leprosy.
(6) 5:11-12: Suspected adulteress to drink specially prepared potion to verify or disprove the suspicions.
(7) 6:1-2: Nazarite vow.
(8) 7:4-6: Lord approved items to be used in sanctuary; Moses to give the items to the Levites.
(9) 8:1-2: Law concerning lighting of lamps in the sanctuary.
(10) 8:5-6: Law for ritual purification of Israelites.
(11) 9:1-2: Israel commanded to observe the Passover.
(12) 10:1-2: Moses commanded to make trumpets to call Israel to assemble before the tent of meeting.
(13) 11:16-17: Moses commanded to appoint seventy men to help him administer the affairs of the nation.
(14) 13:1-2: Moses commanded to send spies into Canaan.
(15) 15:1-3: Ordinance concerning fire sacrifices.
(16) 15:37-38: Tassels to be worn on garments
(17) 17:1-4: Rods with names of twelve tribes to be brought into tent of meeting
(18) 19:1-2: Ordinance concerning offering of "unblemished red heifer".
(19) 26:1-2: Lord commands another census of Israel.
(20) 28:1-2: Israel reminded of the need to present her offerings to God at the appointed times.
(21) 30:1-2: Laws concerning vows.
(22) 31:1-2: Full vengeance on the Midianites commanded.
(23) 34:1-4: Borders of the promised land.
(24) 35:1-2: Israel told to give Levites cities in their territories.
(25) 35:9-11: Israel ordered to appoint cities of refuge when Jordan crossed.
B. New Testament acceptance of the historicity of events recorded in the book of Numbers
(1) Forty years of wilderness wandering (Acts 7:36, confirming Numbers 14:33-34).
[Page 29] (2) Rebellion of Korah (Jude, verse 11, confirming Numbers 16:31-33).
(3) Israelites destroyed by serpents (1 Corinthians 10:9, confirming Numbers 21:4-7).
(4) Lifting up of serpent in wilderness (John 3:14, confirming Numbers 21:8-9).
(5) Balaam's mule talking to him (2 Peter 2:15-16 [cf. Jude, verse 11], confirming Numbers 22:21-35).
Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability: 153
Internal claims that the written record was received from God 25
New Testament acceptance of the historicity of events recorded in Numbers 5
A. Internal claims that the written record was inspired
Deuteronomy 4:2: "You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you."
Deuteronomy 29:1: "These are the words of the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the sons of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which He had made with them at Horeb."
B. New Testament acceptance of inspiration for Deuteronomy
(1) The book is cited as "Scripture"
Of the two passages cited as "scripture" in 1 Timothy 5:18, the first comes from Deuteronomy 25:4, "For the Scripture says, 'You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,' and 'the laborer is worthy of his wages.' "
(2) Jesus quoted it as establishing the standard of right conduct
In Matthew 4:1-11 we find Jesus citing Deuteronomy not once but three times as the determining factor in His conduct:
(1) In rejecting the Devil's temptation to turn stones into bread, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 8:3 (Matthew 4:4).
(2) In rejecting the temptation to leap from the temple, He quotes Deuteronomy 6:16 (Matthew 4:7).
(3) Finally, in rejecting the temptation to worship Satan in exchange for kingship over the world, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:13 (Matthew 4:10).
(3) The words spoken by Moses are attributed to God as the ultimate author
Concerning Jehovah's promise not to desert His people, Hebrews 13:5 quotes Moses' words in Deuteronomy 31:6 as having been spoken by God, "Let your way of life be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, 'I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.' " The quotation could also be derived from Joshua 1:5. The promise in that text, however, is addressed to only one specific individual while both the Hebrews and Deuteronomy texts are making the generalization of all God's people.
Concerning God threatening vengeance, Hebrews 10:30 quotes the words spoken by Moses in Deuteronomy 32:35-36, "For we know Him who said, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.' And again, 'The Lord will judge His people.' " (This is a continuation of the “song” of Moses: Deuteronomy 31:30.)
C. New Testament endorses the Mosaical authorship of Deuteronomy
(1) Of his fear when God appeared to him at Sinai "Moses said" (Hebrews 12:21, citing Deuteronomy 9:19).
(2) Of Moses giving a certificate of divorce, "Moses wrote you this commandment" (Mark 10:4-5, citing Deuteronomy 24:1-4).
[Page 31] (3) Of God raising a prophet like Moses, "Moses said" (Acts 3:22-23 and 7:37, both citing Deuteronomy 18:15-19).
(4) Of God using another nation to provoke Israel to jealousy, "Moses says" (Romans 10:19, citing Deuteronomy 32:21).
Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability: 183
Internal claims that the written record was inspired 2
New Testament acceptance of inspiration for Deuteronomy
The book is cited as "Scripture" 1
Jesus quoted it as establishing the standard of right conduct 3
Words spoken by Moses are attributed to God as the ultimate author 2
New Testament endorsement of the Mosaical authorship of Deuteronomy 4
The Historical Chronicles
In an earlier chapter, we saw that Jesus divided the Old Testament into the Law, the Psalms, and the prophets. A more common division in His era was a two-fold separation, into Law and prophets. He Himself repeatedly expressed the division in such terms (Matthew 7:12; 11:13; 22:40; etc). The very terminology chosen for the second half of the Old Testament, however, implies that all the Old Testament books outside the Mosaical law that were in the canon in Jesus' day--i.e., everything we have today in the Old Testament--were written by prophets.
Yet, in all candor, the historical narratives in the Old Testament do not always make explicit claims of this. One who believes that scripture can rightly interpret scripture, most naturally accepts such statements as those of Jesus as providing fully adequate endorsement of the inspiration of these books even when direct internal assertions are lacking.
Of course if one finds convincing internal evidence of a denial of inspiration in certain of these books (and we have not found such), then one would move in a direction of questioning the canonicity of that book. Or one might be tempted by the possibility that Jesus was providing a generalization, subject to very rare actual exceptions. In
[Page 32] neither case would the possibility of such exceptions undermine the reality of the inspiration claim Jesus made; it would merely affect the breadth of its application.
In the historical chronicles of the Old Testament, the writers deal with what happened rather than with what God necessarily wanted to happen; they present the reality rather than the ideal. Others express the difference this way: Revelation (in the narrowest sense) deals with what God says, while the historical chronicles record what God does.
A. Internal evidence concerning the authorship of the book
(1) The contents of the book are described as being, at least partially, by Joshua
Joshua 24:25-26 notes, "So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day and made for them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord." How far do "these words" (verse 26) extend backward into the book? At a minimum they must refer at least to the entire chapter 24; at the maximum they refer to the entire preceding book.
(2) Whatever sections of the book that were not personally composed by Joshua, were written by a contemporary
(1) Rahab was still alive when the book was written (Joshua 6:25).
(2) In many manuscripts, the author of the book lumps himself in with those who crossed the Jordan: note the plural "we" in Joshua 5:1 (NASB margin).
(3) The author presents himself as one of the generation to whom the promised land was given (Joshua 5:6).
B. Joshua was qualified to write Scripture since he was inspired
(1) Joshua was provided a miraculous measure of the Holy Spirit
Numbers 27:18-19, 23: "And the Lord said to Moses, 'Take Joshua, the Son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and have him stand before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation; and commission him in their sight.' . . . Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, just as the Lord had spoken through Moses."
Deuteronomy 34:9: "Now Joshua the son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom for Moses had laid his hands on him; and the sons of Israel listened to him and did as the Lord had commanded Moses."
(2) Joshua was later referred to in the Old Testament as inspired
1 Kings 16:34 (referring to Joshua 6:26): "In his days Hiel the Bethelite built Jericho; he laid its foundations with the loss of Abiram his first-born, and set up its gates with the loss of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the Lord, which He spoke by Joshua, the son of Nun."
C. New Testament verification of the historicity of events recorded in Joshua
(1) Hebrews 11:30 (referring to Joshua 6:6-7,
15-20) confirms that
(2) Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25 (referring to Joshua 6:22-25) confirm that Rahab was saved alive during the fall of Jericho.
Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability: 195
Internal evidence that the book was written contemporary to its events 4
Evidence Joshua was miraculously inspired by the Spirit 3
New Testament confirmation of the book's events 3
The New Testament refers to the book of Judges in both Acts and Hebrews and bases arguments or observations based upon the reality of the historical events recorded therein.
(1) Acts 13:20 confirms that Israel had judges
(2) Hebrews 11:32-34 refers to four specific individuals who are mentioned in this period: Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephtha.
Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability: 205
New Testament references to events in the book 2
Authorship: Specific authorship (in whole or in part) is neither asserted in the book nor in the New Testament. The internal evidence suggests that it was written several generations after the events it records:
(1) A custom of Ruth's day had since become discarded and had to be explained by the narrator (Ruth 4:5-8, especially verse 7).
(2) The descendants of Ruth are traced as far as David (Ruth 4:18-22).
The fact that the genealogy stops at David suggests that it was either at that time, or close thereafter, that the present form of the book came into existence. This conclusion is reinforced by the fact that there is no hostility exhibited toward the Moabite origin of his ancestor, Ruth, nor any need felt to make a conscious defense of it.
Canonicity: There is nothing specific in the book to explain its being included in the Old Testament canon: There is no explicit or implicit claim of inspiration.
From the Christian standpoint, its appropriateness can be seen in the fact that it discusses how a Gentile became an ancestor of David. This was highly appropriate since David's descendent Jesus was to sit on a throne over a universal kingdom of all peoples.
[Page 35] From the Jewish standpoint, the most appealing explanations are cast within a time frame of the likely composition in David's reign. In this context, the value of the book as a completion of David's genealogy is emphasized. Others suggest that it was written to protect David from being considered a foreign usurper (a Moabite, and hence unqualified to sit on the throne of Israel) by stressing that it was through the Jew Boaz that David was descended. A third factor may have been the desire to assert a kingship right over both Israel and Moab.
Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability: 207
Additional texts 0
9-10. 1 Samuel/2 Samuel
H. Wolf summarizes the varied names the book has been circulated under,
Like its counterpart in Kings, 1 and 2 Samuel were originally one book in the Hebrew Bible. The Greek LXX first made the division into two parts by calling them “Books of the Kingdoms” . . . In similar fashion Kings became “Kingdoms III and IV,” since the contents continued the historical sketch begun in Samuel. Jerome affixed the title "Books of the Kings," . . . [but] eventually the Latin Vulgate reverted to the name "Samuel" for the first two books.
The Hebrew Bible itself first "succumbed" to the division into 1 and 2 Samuel in a 1448 manuscript. Daniel Bomberg's printed Hebrew edition of 1516 acknowledged the division of Samuel and Kings into four books, but it preserved the Hebrew title for each pair (28-256)
A. Authorship and inspiration
Traditionally (and quite in accord with the contents of the books), Samuel has been identified as the author. If so--since he was a prophet--this would argue that the book he wrote was inspired--barring convincing evidence to the contrary. Any parts actually written by Samuel, however, are unlikely to go beyond 1 Samuel 25, since this chapter speaks of his death.
1 Chronicles 29:29-30 may allude to the inspired multi-authorship of First and Second Samuel, "Now the acts of King David, from first to last, are written in the chronicles of Samuel the Seer, in the chronicles of Nathan the prophet, and in the chronicles of Gad the seer, with all his reign, his power, and the circumstances which came on him, on Israel, and on all the kingdoms of the land."
Inspiration is indicated by the use of the terms "seer" and "prophet" to describe the writers (the two terms being equivalent in Biblical usage). But what written text does it refer to? This can not be 1-2 Chronicles for the reference is in that volume and to a different source. It can not refer to 1-2 Kings for that record only begins with David's death and Solomon's takeover of the kingdom while this record is twice described as encompassing the entirety of David's rule. Hence if the book alluded to has survived, a process of elimination forces us to the conclusion that it is our 1-2 Samuel.
B. New Testament embracing of the historicity of events recorded in the two books
(1) That Samuel the prophet really lived (Acts 13:20)
(2) That the Israelites desired a king and chose Saul (Acts 13:21, embracing the claim of 1 Samuel 8:6-7).
(3) That David ate the shewbread intended only for priests (Matthew 12:3-4, embracing 1 Samuel 21:1-6).
(4) That God chose David to be king (Acts 13:22, embracing 1 Samuel 28:16-17).
(5) That David desired to build a temple (Acts 7:46, embracing 2 Samuel 7:2-5, 12-13).
Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability: 207
Passages indicating inspiration 1
Passages accepting historicity of its events 5
11-12. 1 Kings/2 Kings
A. Evidence that the written work was inspired
(1) The New Testament quotes Kings as "Scripture"--hence, as inspired
Concerning only a minority in Israel remaining
faithful (Romans 11:2-4, quoting 1 Kings 19:14-18): “God has not rejected His people whom He
foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture
says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against
(2) Possible Old Testament reference to prophetic authorship of the book
In 2 Chronicles 9:29 we read, "Now the rest of the Acts of Solomon, from first to last, are they not written in the records of Nathan the prophet, and in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo the seer concerning Jeroboam the son of Nebat?" If a Biblical book is under consideration, it must be Kings for that is the only one (besides Chronicles itself, which makes the reference) that narrates the acts of Solomon "from first to last."
(3) There were prophetically written (and hence inspired) source documents from which such books as this could have been written
(1) Prophets kept such records during the reign of David (1 Chronicles 29:29-30, quoted under First Samuel).
(2) Prophets kept such records during the reign of Solomon (2 Chronicles 9:29, quoted above).
(3) Prophets kept such records during the divided monarchy (see following discussion of Chronicles).
(4) Contemporary sources are specifically cited as being utilized in the writing of First and Second Kings
(1) The "Acts of Solomon" were utilized (1 Kings 11:41).
(2) The "Chronicles of the Kings of Israel" were also utilized (1 Kings 14:19).
(3) The "Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah" were available as well
(1 Kings 14:29).
These may be royal, "court" (official) histories or, alternatively, references to prophetic histories such as those mentioned in the previous section. On the other hand, these two categories are only conceptually separate and, in actual practice, may easily have overlapped.
B. New Testament citation of its events
(1) Visit of Queen of Sheba to Solomon (Matthew ; referring to events recorded in 1 Kings 10:1-2; 2 Chronicles 9:1).
(2) Elijah's prayer for drought and for rain (James 5:17-18; referring to events recorded in 1 Kings 17:1; 18:1).
(3) Elijah staying with widow of Zarephath (Luke 4:25-26; referring to events recorded in 1 Kings 17:9).
(4) Elijah's despair at Israel's rejection of God/seven thousand remnant remained faithful to God (Romans 11:2-4; referring to events in 1 Kings 19:14-18).
(5) Elisha healed Namaan of leprosy (Luke 4:27; referring to events in 2 Kings 5:1-4).
Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability: 213
Textual evidence that the book was inspired 2
References to contemporary inspired and other sources available to author 5
New Testament citation of its events 5
13-14. 1 Chronicles/2 Chronicles
Jerome (400 A.D.) was the first to translate these records under the title of "Chronicles." The division into a "first" and "second" volume goes back at least to the Septuagint (around 180 B.C.). "In the Hebrew Bible, Chronicles closes the Old Testament canon. Christ (Luke 11:51) therefore spoke of all the martyrs from Abel in the first book (Genesis 4) to Zechariah in the last (2 Chronicles 24)” (29-338).
A. The author was almost certainly Ezra at the time of the return from Babylonian exile
(1) The ending of Chronicles and the beginning of Ezra are so verbally similar that shared authorship is the most reasonable assumption
At the ending of Chronicles (2 Chronicles 36:22-23) we read, "Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia--in order to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah--the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, 'Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who-
ever there is among you of all His people, may the Lord his God be with him, and let him go up!' "
In essentially the same words, Ezra begins his narrative (Ezra 1:1-3a), "Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, 'Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may his God be with him! Let him go up to Jerusalem. . . .' "
(2) The shared style and mind cast of Chronicles/Ezra-Nehemiah appear identical, arguing for common authorship.
Both sets of books reflect the same "style and subject matter. . . . Both emphasize lists and genealogies, priestly activities, and reverence for the law of Moses" (29-338). [Page 40] Due to the priestly background of Ezra and his determination to rebuild a cultic home for Judaism and reimpose strict obedience to the Mosaical system, it is natural to attribute such an emphasis to him. There is far less reason to attribute such to the alternate possible author of that period, Nehemiah.
B. Internal inference of reliability and inspiration
It is possible (though not conclusive) that the description of Ezra is intended to imply his inspiration; at the minimum it certainly implies his reliability.
(1) He was a "scribe" (Ezra 7:6).
(2) He was "skilled in the law of Moses" (Ezra 7:6).
(3) The hand of the Lord was with him": an assertion repeated no less than three times in one chapter (Ezra 7:6, 9, 28). The stress on God's guiding hand could easily be taken as moving the emphasis from reliability to inspiration.
C. The availability of first hand and prophetic sources for the composition of the book
Six works are identified by name:
(1) "Acts of Solomon" (2 Chronicles 9:29).
(2) "Acts of Rehoboam" (2 Chronicles 12:15).
(3) "Acts of Abijah" (2 Chronicles 13:22).
(4) "Acts of Uzziah" (2 Chronicles 26:22). Since the text identifies this as by the "prophet Isaiah," it is probably another way of describing what we know as the canonical book of Isaiah.
(5) "Acts of Manasseh" (2 Chronicles 33:18-19). This included "the words of the seers (i.e., prophets) who spoke to him in the name of the Lord" (verse 18). Furthermore, his history was written "in the records of the Hozai" (verse 19; NASB margin on Hozi: "Greek reads, 'seers' ').
(6) "Book of Kings" (2 Chronicles 24:27). This included among other things "oracles" (i.e., inspired teachings, prophecies) against King Joash.
D. The implicit presence of Divine judgement and guidance in the events narrated
To some writers such as Geisler and Nix this represents a very significant factor in evaluating the inspiration of First and Second Chronicles,
These books lack an overt claim to inspiration, but they do present an authoritative history of Israel, Judah and the temple from the priestly point of
view. The books assume authority rather than stating or claiming it. And since
the books are descriptive rather than didactic, there is no need for an explicit
reference to their message as being a "thus saith the Lord." There is, however, an
implicit, yet clear, "thus did the Lord," which is even more discernible than in
E. New Testament credits the events as actually occurring
(1) Visit of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon (Matthew 12:42; referring to 2 Chronicles 9:1; 1 Kings 10:1-2).
(2) Killing of Zechariah (Matthew 23:35; referring to 2 Chronicles 24:20-22).
Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability: 225
Ezra was the probable author 2
Internal evidence inference of reliability and inspiration 5
Availability of prophetic and first hand sources for the writer of the book 6
New Testament credits the events as actually occurring 2
Kyle M. Yates, Jr., writes of how the work was preserved on the same scroll as Nehemiah in its earliest known copies,
The book bearing Nehemiah’s name appears in early manuscripts combined with Ezra as a single book. Certain Greek manuscripts separated the two prior to the time of Origen and Jerome, but Hebrew manuscripts combined them until A.D. 1448. Their union in the major codices (Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Alexandrinius) point to their being one originally in the LXX (Septuagint) (30-1194).
Although Ezra is the most probable author of the Chronicles (see previous section), the first hand narration of both Ezra and Nehemiah leaves more open to question the relationship of the two to each other. Did Ezra add to his narrative the independent account of Nehemiah? Or, since it was the logical historical place for the record, did Nehemiah add his account to that of Ezra? For that matter, did a later student of both recognize that the two volumes went together and began the circulation of them as a joint scroll?
Since only a minimal reference is made to each other in their respective writings, it seems likely that the circulation of the two as one volume came at a later date and was due to the shared historical time period of the two works. Since the two are clearly distinguished in the text itself as by different authors, we will present our analysis separately as well. On the other hand, evidence that directly applies only to one of the authors might appropriately be applied to both in light of the ancient preservation of the two writers in one scroll-volume.
A. A sizable part of the text consists of the first hand narrative of Ezra
Ezra represents the minimum boundaries of the first-hand account. In this section there is no question of the use of personal pronouns and other indications of personal involvement in the events. Of course this does not exclude Ezra from having utilized a third-person narrative style in other sections out of motives of individual taste, modesty, or lack of personal involvement.
(1) Evidence from chapter 7
(1) 7:28: "I gathered leading men from Israel to go with me."
(2) Evidence from chapter 8
(1) 8:1: "The genealogical enrollment of those who went up with me from Babylon."
(2) 8:15: "I assembled them."
(3) 8:15: "I sent for Eliezer" and others.
(4) 8:21: "I proclaimed a fast."
(5) 8:22: "I was ashamed to request from the king's troops."
(6) 8:24: "I set apart twelve of the leading priests."
(7) 8:25: "I weighed out to them the silver" etc.
(8) 8:31: "We journeyed."
(9) 8:32: "We came to Jerusalem."
(3) Evidence from chapter 9
(1) 9:1: "The princes approached me."
(2) 9:3: "When I heard about this matter."
(3) 9:4: "I sat appalled until the evening offering."
(4) 9:5: "I arose from my humiliation."
(5) 9:9: "We are slaves, yet in our bondage."
B. Much of the remainder of Ezra and Nehemiah consists of contemporary documents
(1) Several official documents are reproduced: the decree authorizing the return, protests against interference with the returned exiles, etc.
(2) There are also lists, apparently contemporary, of those who returned with Ezra, of those who had married foreign wives, etc.
C. New Testament reference to historical events in the book
Only one event is explicitly referred to in the New Testament: that Zerubbabel was the son of Shelatiel (Matthew 1:12; Ezra 3:2).
Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability: 240
First hand references in Ezra 15
New Testament reference to historical events in the book 1
A large section of Nehemiah's account is presented as first person narrative--a larger proportion than in Ezra
These references are scattered in eight chapters in significant numbers. Based upon them, the minimum perimeters of Nehemiah's personal, first-hand narrative are 1:1-7:15, 12:31-43, and 13:4-30. These are, we stress, the minimum rather than the probable or the maximum.
(1) Chapter 1
(1) 1:1: "The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah."
(2) 1:1: "I was in Susa the capital."
(3) 1:4: "When I heard these words, I sat down and wept."
(4) 1:5: "I said, 'I said, I beseech Thee, O Lord God.' "
"I was the cupbearer to the king.
(2) Chapter 2
(1) 2:1: "I took up the wine and gave it to the king."
(2) 2:5: "I said to the king, 'If it please the king, and if your servant has found favor.' "
(3) 2:7: "Let letters be given me for the governors."
(4) 2:9: "I came to the governors."
(5) 2:11: "I came to Jerusalem and was there three days."
(6) 2:12: "I arose in the night, I and a few men with me."
(7) 2:16: "The officials did not know where I had gone."
(3) Chapter 4
(1) 4:1: "When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall."
(2) 4:9: "We prayed to our God."
(3) 4:11: "Our enemies said, 'They will not know.' "
(4) 4:13: "Then I stationed men in the lowest part of the space behind the wall."
(5) 4:19: "I said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people."
(4) Chapter 5
(1) 5:6: "Then I was very angry when I hard heard their outcry."
(2) 5:9: "Again I said, 'The thing which you are doing is not good.' "
(3) 5:13: "I also shook out the front of my garment and said, 'Thus may God shake out every man.' "
(4) 5:15: "I also applied myself to the work on the wall; we did not buy any land."
(5) Chapter 6
(1) 6:3: "I sent messengers to them saying, 'I am doing a great work.' "
(2) 6:8: "I sent a message to him."
(3) 6:10: "I entered the house of Shemaiah."
(4) 6:12: "Then I perceived that surely God had not sent him."
(5) 6:19: "Then Tobiah sent letters to frighten me."
(6) Chapter 7
(1) 7:1: "When the wall was rebuilt and I had set the doors."
(2) 7:2: "Then I put Hunani my brother . . . in charge of Jerusalem."
(3) 7:3: "Then I said to them, 'Do not the gates of Jerusalem be opened.' "
(4) 7:5: "Then my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles."
(7) Chapter 12
(1) 12:31: "Then I had the leaders of Judah come up on top of the wall and I appointed two great choirs."
(2) 12:38: "I followed them with half of the people on the wall."
(3) 12:40: "So did I and half of the officials with me."
(8) Chapter 13
(1) 13:6: "During all this time I was not in Jerusalem."
(2) 13:8: "It was very displeasing to me, so I threw all of Tobiah's household goods out of the room."
(3) 13:15: "In those days I saw in Judah some who were treading wine presses."
(4) 13:22: "And I commanded the Levites that they should purify themselves."
(5) 13:23: "I also saw that the Jews had married women from Ashdod, Amon, and Moab."
(6) 13:30: "Thus I purified them from everything foreign."
Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability: 256
First hand references in Nehemiah
Chapter 1 5
Chapter 2 7
Chapter 4 5
Chapter 5 4
Chapter 6 5
Chapter 7 4
Chapter 12 3
Chapter 13 6
There are no explicit claims to inspiration in this book nor are the events of it alluded to in the New Testament. The reliability of it is argued from the access of the author to a body of first hand information. Even so there are several pertinent questions that need to be at least briefly examined.
A. The author had access to clearly reliable data regardless of when he wrote
To whatever degree the book as we have it represents a first hand account, the ultimate human pensman definitely had access to accurate information concerning the period he described, a phenomena nothing short of incredible if it is composed out of whole cloth to justify the existence of the festival of Purim. Hence, even laying aside any assumptions concerning inspiration, the record would possess inherent evidence of historical credibility. J. S. Wright has summarized the broad outlines of the evidence when he writes,
Most commentators hold that the author had access to information about the Persian court, even though he may have written much later than the period
in which he sets his story. Thus references to the plan of the palace correspond
with what archaeologists
have discovered at
Artaxerxes II, he was restoring a palace that had been destroyed earlier. Another
palace completed by Xerxes
. . .
The curtains and hangings in the courtyard (1:6) would be attached to the [Page 47] pillars which have been found; the colors of white and blue (1:6;
8:15) were favorite Persian colors. Reclining at the feast (1:6), the inner Council
of Seven (), the general difficulty of access to the king (), and the ban
on entering the palace in mourning (4:2), the honoring of a favorite by dressing
him in royal robes (6:8), the use of couriers for taking important messages (),
are all incidental touches that are true to facts that are known from Herodotus and
other writers (31-378).
B. The role of Mordecai--a participant in the events--in the authorship of the book
(1) Mordecai prepared a record of what had happened
In Esther 9:20 we read, "Then Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews who were in the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far." This can be interpreted in one of two ways; (1) That Mordecai wrote the account preserved in the preceding chapters, leaving open the authorship of the brief remainder of the book; or, (2) That the record by Mordecai was the basis on which the author of Esther based his account.
(2) Evidence for a supplementary or later writer
Invariably one comes up against the picture of Mordecai in Esther 10:3, with its high praise, as evidence that he could not have been the primary or sole author of the book, "For Mordecai the Jew was second only to King Ahasuerus and great among the Jews, and in favor with the multitude of his kinsmen, one who sought the good of his people, and one who spoke for the welfare of his whole nation."
Is such praise compatible with Mordecai's authorship of the work?
(1) At the worst, this would require a separate author only for the final section of the work. This is no more incompatible with it being basically a work of Mordecai than is Deuteronomy recording Moses' death incompatible with the Pentateuch being of essentially Mosaical authorship.
(2) Mordecai had saved his people from mass genocide. Didn't he deserve such praise? Indeed, in the light of what he had accomplished, where is the alleged "excess" in the praise?
(3) The combination of "personal" writing and detachment would also be understandable on a hypothesis that the book was committed to writing by Mordecai's scribe and that this ending represents, if you will, a "historical footnote" of praise to his master, who had dictated the earlier account.
C. Purpose of the book: To explain the origin of the Jewish festival of Purim
(1) The festival was established on the basis of three "authorities"
(1) Mordecai himself (Esther 9:20-21).
(2) Queen Esther (9:29-32): She acted with "full authority" (verse 29). This could mean "full authority from God," i.e., the festival had either been ordered by God or was explicitly acceptable to Him. However, the far more likely meaning is "with full authority from the king."
(3) The Jewish community itself (9:31): "Just as they had established for themselves and their descendants" this holiday. This also shows it was intended to be a recurring, permanent celebration.
(2) The character of the festival
It was one of joy, feasting, and gift-giving (Esther 9:22).
(3) The question of Divine acceptability
A problem that bothered some later Jews was by what right was this festival added to those ordained by Moses.
(a) The Talmudic solution
The Talmudic writers suggested that the festival had been revealed to Moses at Sinai but not committed to writing. However (1) there was no reason for the festival not to have been mentioned; (2) the book of Esther seems to be explicitly explaining the origin of Purim (note the "because" in 9:22).
(b) The "secular" element as a factor
The festival was essentially a "secular" day of rejoicing, of feasting, of gift-giving, of general happiness. Although a religious element was certainly present, it is not stressed at all. Hence, in its own right, it would fall into the same category as July 4th and other national holidays.
(c) Implicit Divine approval
It could also be contended that the lack of Divine rebuke (accompanied by His providential hand being evident throughout the book) implies approval on His part.
D. Why is there no explicit mention of God in the book?
(1) Even granting this (as we must) the concept of Divine providence is clearly present
Robert B. Dempsey summarizes the argument this way,
The author weaves the pattern of providence. Before Haman quarreled with Mordecai, Vashti's dismissal provided the occasion for Esther, a Jewess, to gain a position which enabled her to save her people. Mordecai had indebted himself to the king. Xerxes had a sleepless night at the right time and reads in the right portion of the state records. All fits together. No Jew could have penned this without the intention of presenting the providence of God in the sparing of
His people (32-551).
(2) The text contains implicit evidence of religious observance
(1) In Esther 4:15-16 we read of a three days' fast. Are we to believe that Jews sorrowed with no food for three days without a word of prayer escaping from their lips? It would be hard for even a "devout" atheist to avoid such recourse!
(2) In Esther 9:31 we read of "instructions for their times of fasting and lamentation." Are these conceivable without prayer accompanying them? Indeed, without a substantial religious element, wouldn't such things be considered hypocrisy for a Jew?
(3) Possible factors in the silence concerning the invocation of God's name
Three factors that could explain this silence deserve careful consideration.
(a) The prudence factor
Persian resentment of the Jewish monotheism was great enough without inflaming the latent hostility which had come so close to destroying them all. To smooth over lingering hatred, it was in their self-interest to picture themselves more as an ethnic or subject people than as a distinctively religious minority.
(b) Mordecai's degree of personal religiosity
We have no idea how deep went Mordecai's religious convictions. Is it possible that he was much like many modern Israeli Jews, essentially "secular" in orientation--individuals who are embarrassed by any explicit religious emphasis? And, of course, Mordecai had both "face" before the Persian officials and his own position to protect. Discretion would have come naturally.
(c) Was the book an official report?
If this book was written, in part, at an official report, the lack of reference to any distinctively Jewish religious customs makes perfect sense. Alternatively, we might well consider the possibility that this was shared with the Persian leadership (and public?) as a kind of public relations manifesto explaining what had happened and containing an implicit commendation for the Persians for wisdom. In such a document irritants such as monotheism would be minimized or removed lest the central goal be compromised.
Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability: 295
Evidence of first hand source 1
Poetic and Wisdom Literature
A. Internal evidence of inspiration
38:1 to 41:34 are presented as the personal discourse of God. Job 38:1 begins the section with the remark, "Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said."
B. External evidence of inspiration
(1) Jewish acceptance in spite of its lack of anything distinctively "Mosaical"
There is nothing distinctively "Israelitish" or "Mosaical" about the book. Hence for the Jews to have accepted such an "out of character" book as authoritative and inspired would have been done only with the most compelling evidence.
(2) Quoted in the New Testament with the characteristic code phrase given to designate true and authoritative statements from the Old Testament
1 Corinthians 3:19, in quoting Job 5:13, applies the verbal shorthand "it is written" to the book, "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, 'He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness.' "
C. Historicity of the man Job
(1) The Old Testament refers to him as if a man out of real history
Ezekiel 14:14: " 'Even though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness, they could only deliver themselves,' declares the Lord God."
Ezekiel 14:20: " 'Even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in its midst, as I live,' declares the Lord God, 'they could not deliver either their son or their daughter. They could only deliver themselves by their righteousness.' "
(2) Likewise the New Testament treats him in the same historical manner
James 5:11 (cf. Job 1:20-22 and that entire book): "Behold, we count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful."
Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability: 296
Internal evidence of inspiration 1
External evidence of inspiration 1
Historicity of the man Job in both Testaments 3
A. New Testament confirmation of the inspiration of the book
(1) The book is quoted as what "God" said even where the Psalms text does not specifically identify Him as the speaker
Concerning the resurrection of Christ (Acts 13:35, quoting Psalms 16:10): "Therefore He also says in another Psalm, 'Thou wilt not allow Thy Holy one to undergo decay.' "
Concerning Jesus' throne being eternal (Hebrews 1:8-9, quoting Psalms 45:6-7): "But of the Son He says, 'Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, thy God, hath anointed Thee.' "
Concerning the danger of hardening one's heart (Hebrews 4:7, quoting
Psalms 95:7-8): "He again fixes a certain day. 'Today,' saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, 'Today if you hear His voice to not harden your hearts.' "
Concerning worship of the Messiah (Hebrews 1:6-7, quoting Psalms 97:7; NASB margin identifies it as being from the rendering of the Greek Septuagint rather than from the Hebrew): "And when He again brings the first-born into the world, He says, 'And let all the angels of God worship Him.' "
Concerning the Messiah being eternal (Hebrews 1:10-12, quoting Psalms 102:25-27). Tracing the speaker back through the preceding verses, it is God.
Concerning the role of angels (Hebrews 1:7, quoting Psalms 104:4): "And of the angels He says, 'Who makes His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire.' "
(2) The book is quoted as having been revealed by the Holy Spirit
Concerning the role of the Gentiles in the death of the Messiah (Acts 4:25-26, quoting Psalms 2:1-2): "Who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Thy servant, didst say, 'Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples devise futile things? The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against His Christ.' " Both the King James and New King James Versions omit the reference to the Holy Spirit. In that case, the "who" would refer back to "God" in verse 24.
Concerning the betrayal of the Messiah (Acts 1:16-20, quoting Psalms 69:25 and 109:8): "Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. . . . For it is written in the book of Psalms, 'Let his homestead be made desolate, and let no man dwell in it'; and 'His office let another man take.' "
[Page 54] Concerning David honoring the Messiah as superior (Matthew 22:42-45, quoting Psalms 110:1), "He said to them, Then how does David in the Spirit call him 'Lord' saying, 'The Lord said to my Lord, sit at My right hand, until I put Your enemies beneath Your feet?' " The parallel gospel account of the same incident refers to David speaking "in the Holy Spirit" (Mark ).
(3) Jesus' possible role in its revelation
Concerning the proclamation of His Father's name (Hebrews 2:11-12, quoting Psalms 22:22): "For both He who sanctified and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, 'I will proclaim Your name to My brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise.' " I.e., it sounds like it was Jesus in/through the Psalms text that was doing the speaking.
Hebrews 10:4-9 (quoting Psalms 40:6-8) might also be interpreted in a similar sense. However these words are spoken "when He comes into the world" (Hebrews 10:5). This makes it much more likely to mean that the text was used by Christ rather than being applied to Him by the author.
In the light of John 16:13-15, the idea of Christ playing a role in inspiration should not seem quite so extraordinary as it does on first hearing. Hebrews 2:11-12 seems to be asserting it and 1 Peter 1:10-11 ("the Spirit of Christ," verse 11) may also have the same concept in mind.
(4) The book is quoted as "scripture"
Concerning the betrayal of the Messiah (John 13:18, quoting Psalms 41:9): "I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, 'He who eats My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.' "
Concerning the betrayal of the Messiah (Acts 1:16-20, quoting Psalms 69:25 and 109:8) was quoted earlier in this chapter.
Concerning the rejection of the Messiah (Mark 12:10-11, quoting Psalms 118:22-23): "Have you not even read the Scripture, 'The stone which the builders rejected. This became the chief corner stone; this came about from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes.' "
(5) The book is quoted as containing genuine prophecy
Concerning the resurrection (Acts 13:33, quoting Psalms 2:7): "That God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, 'Thou art My Son; today I have begotten Thee.' "
Concerning hatred of the Messiah. Jesus (John ) used the Psalms (35:19 or 69:4) as prophecy of this hatred, "But they have done this in order that the word may be fulfilled that is written in their Law, 'They hated Me without a cause.' "
(6) The book is quoted as coming from a prophet
Concerning the use of parables (Matthew 13:34-35, quoting Psalms 78:2): "All these things Jesus spoke to the multitudes in parables, and He was not talking to them without a parable, so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, 'I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things hidden since the foundation of the world.' "
(7) Words attributed to God in the Psalms were actually spoken by Him
Concerning the Messiah's superiority to the angels (Hebrews 1:5, quoting Psalms 2:7): "For to which of the angels did He ever say, 'Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee'? . . ."
Hebrews 5:5 also quotes the same verse: "So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him, 'Thou art My Son, Today have I begotten Thee.' "
Concerning God's threat against the disobedient (Hebrews 4:3, quoting Psalms 95:11): "For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, 'As I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest.' "
These same words are presented in Hebrews 3:7-11 as being inspired by "the Holy Spirit" (verse 7).
Concerning the Messiah's "footstool" (Hebrews , quoting Psalms 110:1): "But to which of the angels has He ever said, 'Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet'?"
Concerning the Messiah being a priest after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:6, quoting Psalms 110:4): "Just as He says in another passage, 'Thou art a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.' "
Hebrews 7:21 also quotes the same text: "For they indeed become priests without an oath, but He with an oath through the One who said to Him, 'The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, Thou art a priest forever.' "
B. David as a Psalms writer: Old Testament evidence
About half of the Psalms carry attributions attributing them to David: 73 in the Hebrew text and 88 in the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament. Asaph is attributed with 12, as are the sons of Korah with an identical number. Two carry Solomon's name. One carries the name of Ethan and another single Psalm that of Moses (33-1424).
Most scholars reject the possibility that the attributions go back to the composition of these songs of praise and faith. The difference between the headings in the Hebrew and Greek are a weighty argument in behalf of this contention. On the other hand, we may be dealing with two slightly different textual traditions and some of the Septuagint readings may represent misunderstanding of the technical psalmistic terms used in the ancient Hebrew text they worked from. Certainly "all Hebrew manuscripts contain these titles" (34-925) and there is nothing in the attributions incompatible with the Biblical record of the Davidic era.
There is much incompatible between the Psalms and the religious reconstruction of that period found in much of religious scholarship. That is because of the religious bias that is unable to concede that Israel at that period--and even earlier--was well grounded in the concept of true monotheism.
The twentieth century brought to light various pagan religious hymns of the ancient world. Although these effectively undermined much of the claim that a Jew of David's period could not have written the Psalms, they also opened a new front: it was claimed that the Biblical Psalms reflect the phraseology of their polytheistic rivals and, in a few cases, borrowed much of its wording while modifying it for the worship of the God of Israel.
This assumed, of course, that it was the Israelites who did the adapting. In reality the process could have worked in either direction--and, on its own merits, quite likely did. (As in the case of the "wisdom literature" found among both the Jews and other ancient contemporaries. Sometimes the pagans did “get it right,” so why not, suitably adapted, utilize it?)
Furthermore, even assuming Davidic era "borrowing", the very fact of alterations recognizes that the unacceptable elements were consciously removed. In the Western world, religious songs are often adapted so that a very different theological tradition may utilize it without compromising its own convictions. Why deny the people of David's day a similar flexibility?
David was certainly not the author of all the Psalms; even the blanket acceptance of all the existing attributions rules that out. Likewise is it improbable that some Psalms were composed on behalf of David rather than personally by him? Be that as it may, if the Biblical portrait of David is anywhere near accurate, he was fully capable of writing Psalms such as those attributed to him. Furthermore, many of the Psalms are specifically endorsed as inspired or of Davidic origin in the New Testament. To reject either claim is not merely to reject the "traditional" attributions of the Psalms but to reject the explicit Biblical testimony itself.
(1) There were inspired psalm writers in the days of David
In 1 Chronicles 25:1-8 we read that they were to "prophesy" to the accompaniment of harps and other instruments (verse 1). Verse 3 refers also to certain individuals who, accompanied by the harp, "prophesied in giving thanks and praising the Lord." According to verse 2, all of these were ultimately under the authority of David.
Asaph is recorded as the author of twelve of the Psalms in the attributions that are attached to them. In 1 Chronicles 25:1-8, he is mentioned in the context of those possessing supernaturally granted composing abilities. In 2 Chronicles 29:30 he is specifically called a "seer" (i.e., a prophet).
(2) Upon at least one occasion, David claimed to have been inspired by the Holy Spirit to speak
2 Samuel 23:2: "The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue."
(3) David's psalm-writing ability was an accepted fact in Old Testament Jewish thought
23:1: "Now these are the last words
of David. David the son of Jesse
declares, and the man who raised on high declares, the
anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of
2 Chronicles 29:30: "Moreover, King Hezekiah and the officials ordered the Levites to sing praises to the Lord with the words of David and Asaph the seer. So they sang praises with joy, and bowed down and worshipped."
(4) Outside the book of Psalms, several psalms are presented as if written by David
(1) 2 Samuel 1:17-27 records a lament-psalm David "chanted" at the death of Saul and Jonathan. According to verse 18, David took steps to assure that the lament was preserved. Hence, the psalms David was associated with were not only sung by him, he also acted to make sure they survived.
[Page 58] (2) 2 Samuel 3:31-34 records a lament-psalm David "chanted" at the grave of Abner.
(3) 2 Samuel 22:1-51: David "spoke" these words because God had delivered him from the hands of Saul.
Admittedly none of these explicitly claim David as the author. Yet they are presented to the reader in such a way--without any hint of any one else being responsible for their composition--that it seems inescapable that they intend us to accept David as both reciter and author.
(5) The Old Testament explicitly refers to the Davidic authorship of certain Psalms
(1) 2 Samuel 22:1-51 (verse 1) presents the text of Psalms 18 as David's work.
(2) Psalms 72:20 atributes an uncertain number of the preceding Psalms to the hand of David, "The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended."
C. New Testament corroboration of Davidic and inspired compositions within the Psalms' five divisions
Only attributions of authorship will be quoted in this section. Previously quoted attributions of inspiration will be summarized for the convenience of the reader since these are also relevant in the present context.
(1) The first section: Psalms 1-41
David wrote the sixteenth Psalm (Acts 2:25-28, quoting Psalms 16:8-11): "For David says of Him, 'I was always beholding the Lord in my presence; for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will abide in hope. Because Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow Thy Holy one to undergo decay.' "
David wrote the thirty-second Psalm (Romans 4:6-8, quoting Psalms 32:1-2): "Just as David also speaks of the blessing upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works: 'Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.' "
References to the inspiration of Psalms in this section:
(1) Psalms 2 is quoted as having been revealed by the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:25-26) and as prophecy (Acts 13:33).
[Page 59] (2) Psalms 16 is quoted as coming from God (Acts 13:35, quoting verse 10).
(3) Psalms 22 is quoted as having been revealed by Christ (Hebrews 2:11-12, quoting verse 22).
(4) Psalm 41 is called "scripture" (John 13:8, quoting verse 9).
(2) The second section: Psalms 42-72
David wrote the sixty-ninth Psalm (Acts 1:16, 20, quoting verse 25): "Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. . . . For it is written in the book of Psalms, 'Let his homestead be made desolate, and let no man dwell in it'; and, 'His office let another man take.' "
Romans 11:9-10 (quoting Psalm 69:22): "And David says, 'Let their table become a snare and a trap, and a stumbling block and a retribution to them. Let their eyes be darkened to see not, and bend their backs forever.' "
References to the inspiration of Psalms in this section:
(1) Psalms 45 is quoted as what God said (Hebrews 1:8-9, quoting verses 6-7).
(2) Psalms 69 is quoted as both "Scripture" and as inspired by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:16, 20, quoting verse 25).
(3) The third section: Psalms 73-89
No specific assertion of Davidic authorship is made in the New Testament. Psalms 78, however, is quoted as having been written by a prophet (Matthew 13:34-35, quoting verse 2).
(4) The fourth section: Psalms 90-106
David wrote the ninety-fifth Psalm (Hebrews 4:7, quoting verses 7-8): "He again fixes a certain day, 'Today,' saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, 'Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.' "
References to the inspiration of Psalms in this section:
(1) Psalms 97 is quoted as coming from God (Hebrews 1:6, quoting verse 7).
(2) Psalms 102 is quoted as originating with God (Hebrews 1:10-12, quoting verses 25-27).
(3) Psalms 104 is quoted as revealed by God (Hebrews 1:7, quoting verse 4).
(5) The fifth section: Psalms 107-150
David wrote the one hundredth-and-ninth Psalm: Acts 1:15-20 (reproduced above), quoting verse 8 as of Davidic origin.
The testimony of Jesus that David wrote the one hundredth-and-tenth Psalm (Matthew 22:43-45, quoting verse 1): "He said to them, 'Then how does David in the Spirit call him, Lord, saying, 'The Lord said to my lord, sit at My right hand until I put Your enemies beneath Your feet'? If David calls him Lord, how is He His son?' " Note the double testimony to the Davidic authorship, as well as the allusion to his inspiration ("in the Spirit").
The testimony of the apostle Peter that David wrote the one hundredth-and-tenth Psalm (Acts 2:34-35, quoting verse 1): "For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: 'The Lord said to my lord, sit at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.' "
References to the inspiration of Psalms in this section:
In addition to the reference to the Spirit's inspiring Psalms 110:1 (quoted immediately above), Psalms 118:22-23 is quoted as "Scripture" in Mark 12:10-11.
Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability: 301
New Testament confirmation of the inspiration
"God" speaks even in texts where He is not specifically mentioned 6
Holy Spirit revealed the book's contents 3
Jesus' possible role in its revelation 1
It is quoted as "scripture" 3
It contained genuine prophecy 2
It came from a prophet 1
Words attributed to God in Psalms were actually spoken by Him 7
David as a Psalms author: Old Testament evidence
Inspired psalm writers existed in David's day 3
David claimed to have been inspired by the Holy Spirit 1
David's psalm-writing ability was accepted as factual in Old Test 2
Several psalms (outside Psalms itself) presented by text as Davidic 3
Old Testament explicit references to Davidic writings in Psalms 2
New Testament corroboration of inspired and
[Page 61] Davidic compositions within the Psalm's five divisions
The first section: Psalms 1-41 2
The second section: Psalms 42-72 2
The third section: Psalms 73-89 0
The fourth section: Psalms 90-106 1
The fifth section: Psalms 107-150 3
A. Internal evidence for the inspiration of textually explicit non-Solomonic sections
Of chapter 30: "The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, the oracle. . . ." (30:1).
Of at least the first half of chapter 31: "The words of King Lemuel, the oracle which his mother taught him" (31:1). The NASB has a marginal footnote on the word "oracle" in both of these places, "burden." The prophets typically referred to their revelations by this term, presumably because of its implication of heavy responsibility.
B. New Testament evidence for the inspiration of Proverbs
(1) Its moral teaching is presented as being written for the Christian, implying external, Divine intervention in its composition so that it would be appropriate for those not yet alive
Hebrews 12:5-6 (quoting Proverbs 3:11-12): "And you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, 'My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.' "
(2) In quoting from the Greek (Septuagint) version of Proverbs, James indicates its supernatural origin
James 4:6 (quoting Proverbs 3:34): "But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, 'God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.' " The NASB's "it says" refers back to "the Scripture speaks" in verse 5. However "it" is italicized as an interpretive addition. The KJV and New King James both render "He says." The "He" refers to the Divine "He" in the first part of the verse, which would make the text an even more explicit advocate of a Divine origin for Proverbs.
(3) The code phrase used to identify authoritative Old Testament scripture ("it is written") is applied to the book of Proverbs
Romans 12:19-20 (quoting Proverbs 25:21-22): "Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.' 'But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will reap burning coals upon his head.' " The first quotation probably comes from Proverbs 20:22, making a double referral to that book within a single Romans text.
(4) The book's moral-guide reliability is seen in the fact that it contains "true" (i.e., reliable, accurate) proverbs
2 Peter 2:22 (quoting Proverbs 26:11): "It has happened to them according to the true proverb, 'A dog returns to its own vomit,' and 'A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.' "
C. Evidence that Solomon wrote or compiled the bulk of the book
(1) The three major sections of the book explicitly claim to be by Solomon
The first section (1:1-9:18) begins with the comment, "The proverbs of Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel."
[Page 63] The second section (10:1-24:34) begins with the assertion that these are, "The proverbs of Solomon. . . " (10:1).
section (25:1-29:27) begins in a similar vein, "These also are
proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah, king of
The "also" could be read to indicate that this was the third effort by Hezekiah's researchers to bring together the complete work of Solomon. This would fit in well with the insertion of the textual division in 10:1: initially they issued the first nine chapters; then the next fourteen; finally the last five.
The text does not tell us whether all these proverbs came from the same source or, more likely, were scattered in unorganized form among various manuscripts in the royal archives. Either way, it should be noted that the compilation process is explicitly referred to. Hence when it was engaged in, there was no ethical objection to admitting it.
The absence of such allusions in OT works believed by secularist religious scholarship to be compilations, argues strongly against the fundamental assumption of their theory. In other words, if compilers were involved, they would have been “up front” about it and not been adverse to admitting their presence.
The fourth section (30:1-31:31) is explicitly attributed to other authors. If the prestige of Solomon did not require that his name be attributed to materials he did not write, why should we assume that other Bible writers felt the need to write under a pseudonymous label, claiming they were someone more famous or prominent? The candor in the closing chapters of Proverbs argues that this option (popular as it is among many scholars) was not one the Biblical writers felt was needed or justified.
Interestingly, the only explicit claims to inspiration (Proverbs 30:1; 31:1) are found in this section.
(2) Solomon is pictured by the various Biblical records as being wise enough to have written the book
(a) Solomon wished the wisdom to judge his people rightly (1 Kings 3:8-9). Because of his placing a higher priority on insight, perceptivity, and the interests of the kingdom than on self-advancement, God is quoted as giving him wisdom far exceeding those of his contemporaries (1 Kings 3:10-13). The wisdom was, seemingly, a miraculous gift. Hence we would not at all be surprised to find what he wrote to have been inspired as well. It would not have to be, but neither would it be an unsuspected phenomena.
(b) Solomon was credited with writing thousands of proverbs and having a fame that was known in other lands (1 Kings 4:29-34). Verse 31 lists by name several prominent contemporary wise men. This would reasonably imply an awareness of these wise men of the proverbs written by each other. In light of the natural tendency of intellectuals to seek out others of a similar nature, it would be expected that they would [Page 64] have a considerable acquaintance with the proverb/wisdom literature of other nations as well. Hence "conceptual" parallels between Israelite and other writings of this type would be neither surprising not alarming.
(c) Jesus accepted the Old Testament picture of Solomon's vast wisdom (Matthew 13:42).
(d) There was a written record of Solomon's doings and sayings at the time First Kings was written (1 Kings 11:41; Proverbs 25:1 takes for granted the existence of such a record, at least of the proverbial sayings.)
Objections to the picture of a Solomonic proverbs maker:
The objections come in several forms. One is that his actual lifestyle often contradicted the teaching of his proverbs. We used to call this human weakness.
Paul referred to this paradox between knowledge and conduct in his own life (Romans 7:15). The apostle Peter knew right but allowed Judaizing pressure to force him into hypocrisy (Galatians 2:11-14). The demands of a major court, with both minor and major foreign powers in constant contact, imposed at least equivalent pressures upon Solomon.
With his intellectual stature, any diplomatic residents would certainly have been chosen from among those he would be most likely to respect for their intellectual calibre. In addition there was the pressure from his foreign-born wives. The emotional pressures from them must have been intense. That he stumbled is far less of a shock than that he was able to keep his wits about himself and maintain at least an underlying conception of how things ought to be.
Others have noted the duplication of proverbs in different sections of the book. Authors and speakers commonly repeat themselves and it is quite reasonable to believe that Solomon wrote down some of the same proverbs more than once, especially since (except for the initial chapters) he did not personally bring them together in a unified whole.
The third objection concerns allegedly borrowing. In this scenario, however, Solomon would become a proverb borrower rather than a proverb originator. In either case his interest in and determination to bring together the best practical down-to-earth wisdom for daily conduct continues to exist. All that changes is the form it may take.
The most often cited case concerning the parallels between Proverbs 22:17-24:34 and "The Wisdom of Amenemope." The degree of borrowing is sharply disputed: from a low of nine verses to a maximum of twenty-three. The borrowing could have gone in either direction, of course. Similar expressions on similar thoughts could easily have occurred independently as astute minds wrestled with the perplexities of life. Furthermore, both could represent a general tradition throughout the region, independently tapped into by the respective authors (35-918).
Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability: 343
Internal evidence for the inspiration of non-Solomonic sections 2
New Testament evidence for the inspiration of Proverbs 4
Evidence that Solomon wrote or compiled the bulk of the book
The three major sections explicitly claim to be by Solomon 3
Solomon is pictured as being wise enough to have written the book 4
A. Alleged conceptual use of by the New Testament
Although it is conceded by all that there are no direct New Testament quotations or citations, a number of alleged "conceptual borrowings" have been suggested. At the absolute minimum, this would be an endorsement of the principles taught by those "borrowings" and could be intended as something much stronger. In the judgement of this writer, however, most of the alleged borrowings are shaky and strained. Two of the strongest are these:
1 Timothy 6:10: "For the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many a pang." Allegedly borrowed from Ecclesiastes 5:10: "He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity."
Matthew 6:7: "And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetitions, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose they will be heard for their many words." Allegedly borrowed from Ecclesiastes 5:2: "Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few."
B. Internal claims of the book
(1) The authoritativeness of Divine law
In Ecclesiastes 12:13, the author emphasizes, "The conclusion when all has been heard is: fear God and keep His commandments because this applies to every person." Some take this as a direct assertion of personal inspiration (6-66).
There is, however, a difference between teaching that one must obey God's commandments and the claim that one oneself is inspired. Many a preacher today does the former without any pretense of the latter.
On the other hand, when the author stresses that this is "the conclusion," that suggests that what went before that "conclusion" was intended to build up to that summation. In other words, the author was teaching what was appropriate or essential to carrying out the Divine will in daily life.
Hence, at the minimum, the author is asserting the oneness between his teaching and the Divine revelation. He is not giving a kind of secular wisdom unrelated to the Divine will but, rather, the "worldly" wisdom that interlocks with and furthers the accomplishment of the will of God. This does not exclude inspiration but does not necessarily affirm its existence either.
(2) As to authorship
Ecclesiastes 1:1 begins with an assertion of the regal authorship, "The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem." This is repeated in verse 12 of the same chapter, "I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem." Hence the identification in verse 1 cannot be limited to being the source of the quotation in verse 2. In accompaniment with the repetition of the regal claim in verse 12, it is clearly intended as a claim of royal authorship for the book.
Ecclesiastes fits well with Solomon's interest in "wisdom" and the discouragements that so easily can come when one comes face to face with the disillusionment of maturity. One can easily picture him writing and compiling the Proverbs in his early and middle years of kingship and Ecclesiastes when the inherent futilities of governance began to close in upon him.
Five grounds of argument have been introduced against the Solomonic authorship and the scenario we have outlined deals with at least two of them. One is the lack of royal "bias" in the work--the book's praise of the lowly over the regal (Ecclesiastes 4:13; 10:17). Yet a long-ruled monarch would, of all people, be aware of the idiocy of life in which incompetency is revered because it is regal and honor is dismissed because it comes from the masses.
Likewise the backward looking tense "have been king" (1:12) (Note 2) fits in with the aging maturity of a monarch who has served years on the throne far better than into [Page 67] the picture of a monarch somewhere in the past. Indeed, how else would an aging monarch refer to himself?
Thirdly, there is his combination of religious sentiments, pessimism, and proverbs. That he would think multi-dimensionally fits in with a ruler consciously seeking insight and wisdom. A one-dimensional personality would actually be an argument against Solomonic argument.
A fourth argument is ground in Ecclesiastes 1:16, where the author pictures himself as one who "magnified and increased wisdom more than all who were over Jerusalem before me and my mind has observed a wealth of wisdom and knowledge." Solomon was only the second king of Israel so "all"—it is contended--implies a much larger number had already ruled. The text, however, states "over Jerusalem" rather than "over Israel." Jerusalem had been ruled over by a large number of earlier kings--long before Israel even existed. (Remember Melchizedek?)
Finally, there is the linguistic peculiarities of the book as allegedly reflecting a post-Solomonic date. In fact using the linguistic characteristics as the sole criterion leaves one thoroughly perplexed as to any date one might select,
It differs from all other books of the Old Testament of whatever age; it equally differs from all known intertestamental Hebrew works, such as Ecclesiasticus (which, however, has been greatly influenced by it) and the
the extant pre-Christian Hebrew literature of any period, either in respect to
vocabulary, grammar or style. It is quite as dissimilar to fifth-century productions
such as Zechariah, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther and Malachi as to any of the pre-exile
Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability: 356
Alleged conceptual use of by the New Testament 2
Internal claims of the book 3
22. Song of Solomon
There is no New Testament citation of this book, either of its contents nor allusion to its authorship. This is not surprising because of the nature of the contents of the Song and the lack of any New Testament passage where such a reference would compellingly come to mind.
In the Old Testament itself, the Song begins with an assertion of Solomonic authorship, "The Song of Songs, which is Solomon's" (1:1). Even conservative scholars have sometimes questioned the relevancy of this text. They argue that "[b]ecause of the ambiguity of the Hebrew construction, the attributive particle could thus mean 'to,' for,' 'concerning,' or 'after the fashion of,' as well as alluding to direct authorship by Solomon" (37-487). If this approach be accepted, then we could be dealing with a contemporary or near-contemporary document composed by one of the court wise men of the era.
The Solomonic authorship has been challenged on two other major grounds as well. The first is the usage of alleged Greek language borrowings that were (allegedly) not utilized till after the Exile. As is usual in such cases, equally competent scholars have challenged both the fact of such borrowings and the conclusion that, even if true, it requires a post-Exilic dating of the work. (Note our “allegedly not utilized till after the Exile.” What if they or equivalent terminology were used earlier?)
More obvious to the non-Hebrew-language reader is the apparent oddity that Solomon--if he be the author--refers to himself in the third person in a number of places (1:5; 3:7, 9, 11; 8:11-12). The dual role of king and shepherd in the narrative would be an appropriate reason for such rhetorical distancing. Furthermore the love poetry of the ancient world reflects the double imagery as well as the "disjointedness" of the text that perplexes the modern reader (Note 3).
Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability: 361
Evidence for authorship 1