top of page

Apparent Contradiction of Words and Numbers

Four Witnesses to a 430-year Sojourn in Egypt

Abraham’s Witness to a 430-Year Egyptian Sojourn

Jacob’s Life Requires a 430-Year Egyptian Sojourn

Elasticity of Hebrew Genealogical Terms

Abbreviated/Condensed Genealogies

Shem’s List: The Ultimate Example of Condensing

Shem’s Genealogy—Which Bible?

Evidence from the Lifespan of Job for Missing Generations

Evidence from the Message of Job for Missing Generations

Evidence from the Times of Job for Missing Generations

Biblical Earth Movements After the Flood

Peleg, Joktan and the Table of Nations

Historical Errors Obscuring the Condensing of Shem’s Line

Interpretative Errors Supporting Ussher View

The Missing World between the Flood and Peleg

Recent Scholarship Improves Biblical Understanding

Summary of Biblical Findings

Secular Evidence—Those Many Documents Unavailable to Ussher


Interpretative Errors Supporting Ussher View

Chapter Fifteen

Those who hold a late date for the Flood misinterpret numerous verses to support their view.  For convenience and quick reference, the 45 found in HB are collected in this chapter but only the error and correct view are stated.  They are organized according to the chapter that discusses them the most, even though multiple chapters discuss some.  See the indicated chapter for the fullest explanation.  

No single writer embraces all these misinterpretations.  Rather, they are found throughout creationist literature.  But generally, the most errors come with the most dogmatic incorrect positions.  While not exhaustive this list covers the misinterpretations we have found.   

Interpretative Errors Identified in Chapters 1-2 (Levi Genealogy; Four Witnesses)

1.     Error:  Levi’s genealogy in Exodus 6 and Numbers 27 (Levi-Kohath-Amram-Aaron) is complete. 

Correction:  8-12 generations are omitted between Amram and Aaron.

2.     Error:  Israel sojourned in Egypt 215-years. 

Correction:   four witnesses testify to a 430-year Egyptian sojourn—God, Moses, Stephen and Paul.

3.     Error:  The Apostle Paul testifies to a 215-year Egyptian sojourn in Galatians three and he is the most important writer in Scripture.  There may be uncertainty about what the other writers meant but Paul is clear. 

Correction: the first witness to 430-years in Egypt is God himself, the giver of all Scripture.  What the Apostle Paul said can be interpreted to agree or disagree with God’s words in Genesis 15. 

4.     Error:  The 400 years of affliction and servitude of Genesis 15:13 included Abraham as well as his descendants. 

Correction:  God assured Abraham “As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age” (Genesis 15:15). 

5.     Error:  The affliction of Genesis 15:13 was as mild as Abraham’s and Isaac’s friction with the Canaanites or the mocking of Ishmael at the time of Isaac’s weaning. 

Correction:  God revealed a far more severe affliction.  God introduced it by causing a “dreadful and great darkness” to fall on Abraham.  This nightmare conveyed the real character of the 400 years of racial prejudice and exploitation to be endured by his descendants in a foreign land.

6.     Error:  Israel returned to Canaan in the fourth generation as God said (Genesis 15:16).  The four generations may have begun with Levi or Kohath or maybe they were just four generations in general. 

Correction:  No four-generation scheme works.  Here “generation” would be referring to lifetimes, i.e., in four normal lifetimes Israel would return to Canaan. 

7.     Error:  The King James Version of Exodus 12:40 allows for a 430-year sojourn in Egypt and Canaan while the Septuagint states it. 

Correction:  The correct text of Exodus 12:40 was uncertain when the KJV was translated.  Now Exodus 12:40 reads in nearly every English version, “The time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430-years.”

Interpretative Errors Identified in Chapter 3 (Abraham)

1.     Error:  Abraham was the oldest of Terah’s three sons. 

Correction:  Terah fathered his first son at the age of 70; Abraham was born when he was 130.

2.     Error:   In Acts 7 Stephen faced a hostile crowd.  Maybe he was rattled or had a memory lapse but his words about Abraham are incorrect. 

Correction:  Stephen was “full of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:55).  He spoke with “wisdom and the Spirit” (Acts 6:10).  He affirmed that God’s call came in Mesopotamia; that Abraham followed God’s leading to Haran; that after his father died, God led him to Canaan; and that God’s 400 years of enslavement and affliction would take place in a land belonging to others. 

3.     Error:  Abraham’s birth country was Urfa or some other Northern Mesopotamia place near Haran. 

Correction:  Abraham’s country of birth was 700 miles SE of Haran, a place called Ur.

4.     Error:  God’s call came to Abraham after his father died and he immediately followed God to Canaan. 

Correction:  God’s call came when his family lived in the Southern Mesopotamian city-state of Ur. 

5.     Error:  Lot was Abraham’s young nephew. 

Correction:  More likely Lot was 10-30 years older than Abraham.   

6.     Error:  In Acts 7:4 Stephen is saying that 60 years after Abraham arrived in Canaan his father died.  He returned to Haran and brought his father’s body to Canaan for burial. 

Correction:  When Abraham’s father died, God led him to Canaan. 

Interpretative Errors Identified in Chapter 4 (Jacob)  

1.     Error:  Jacob was a wimp, a mama’s boy and basically dishonest. 

Correction:  This line of thinking derails a true understanding of Jacob’s many fine qualities and adds to the confusion that results in support for a 215-year Egyptian sojourn.  Jacob submitted to the daily routine of successful ranching while his twin brother preferred the excitement of the hunt.  Jacob showed faith in God’s promises while his brother took them lightly.  Jacob continued to grow in faith through the years and God richly rewarded him.

2.     Error:  Jacob received his two wives at the beginning of the 20-year stay with his father-in-law. 

Correction:  Jacob served Laban seven years before receiving not one but both of Laban’s daughters in marriage.

3.     Error:  Jacob’s 11 sons were born in the order listed.    

Correction:  Since these children were born in a ten-year period, as many as three mothers were pregnant at the same time.  So the writer listed them by mother in two groups, before and after the resting period of Leah.

4.     Error:  After a 20-year association with Laban Jacob without even saying goodbye sneakily fled his father-in-law’s ranch with his family and possessions. 

Correction:  God told Jacob to return to Canaan.  Jacob knew Laban would never let him go with his wives and children because in Laban’s mind they belonged to Laban, not Jacob.  So Jacob had to flee when the opportunity was most favorable.  Jacob exercised good, not bad judgment by obeying God.

5.     Error:  The work contract between Laban and Jacob in Genesis 30:31-34 marked the beginning of Jacob’s final six years with Laban. 

Correction:  Laban frequently changed his contract with Jacob and the one that is recorded came just over three years before Jacob left Laban.

6.     Error:  Dinah, Simeon and Levi all had to be older than they would have been if Jacob served Laban seven years before receiving his wives. 

Correction:  Dinah was raped when she was about 15 while Simeon and Levi were about 22 and 21 when they massacred the men of Shechem. 

7.     Error:  Rachel died in childbirth before the years in Shechem rather than after them. 

Correction:  After leaving Shechem Jacob’s party worshipped at Bethel and settled there as God commanded. When they set out to rejoin Isaac at Mamre, Rachel died near Bethlehem while giving birth to Benjamin. 

8.     Error:  When Jacob moved his family to Egypt, Benjamin had 10 living sons according to Genesis 46:21

Correction:  Jacob’s list included both those alive as well as those still in the womb when his family moved to Egypt.

Interpretative Errors Identified in Chapters 5-6 (Flexibility of Family Terms; Condensed Lists) 

1.     Error:  Hebrew kinship terms express only immediate relationships. 

Correction:  All of the common Hebrew kinship terms are used with great flexibility.  Such terms as father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister and even the verb, to beget/to bear are used in both immediate and broad senses.  Chapter five gives dozens of examples.

2.     Error:  Hebrew genealogies are complete. 

Correction:  At times they are condensed.  The most obvious example is that of Ezra.  He lists his own genealogy in Ezra 7:1-5 but leaves out six names in a row that are found in I Chronicles 6:7-9.

3.     Error:  The same ten names of David’s genealogy beginning with Perez found in Ruth 4:18-22 and three other places is complete. 

Correction:  The list gives three consecutive names at the beginning of the time in Egypt, three more consecutive names at the time of the Exodus 430-years later and the three consecutive names leading up to David some 400 years after that.  Since only ten names are recorded, about twenty are omitted.    

Interpretative Errors Identified in Chapters 7-8 (Shem’s Genealogy; LXX or MT)

1.      Error:  Shem’s genealogy is complete. 

Correction:  It omits generations, especially between Eber and Peleg (from 40 to 50).

2.     Error:  The years in Shem’s and Adam’s genealogies provide a biblical timeline of history.  

Correction:  Scripture does not label them as such, nor does it say or even hint that they should be used for that purpose.  Of note, the Levi-Aaron list provides a clear pattern for understanding factual information about the father before omitted generations.   

3.     Error:  There is no large decrease in human longevity from before to after the Flood.  

Correction:  Those who lived and died before the Flood lived about 900 years, while the first three generations born after the Flood lived only half that long, about 450 years. 

4.     Error:  Noah and Shem outlived many named generations born after them.     

Correction:  The 1300-1600 gap between Eber and Peleg means both Noah and Shem were dead long before Peleg was born. 

5.     Error:  The Septuagint has the correct numbers for Adam’s and Shem’s lists.  Further, the LXX contains the correct OT text.

Correction:  The numbers in the Septuagint show deliberate manipulation.  They are artificial and thus disqualified from consideration.  HB finds twelve other reasons for the MT numbers being the correct numbers and the MT being the correct OT text. 

6.     Error:  The authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) were Essenes, heretics who mixed Judaism with ideas from Eastern Religions.  Christ may have gotten his ideas from them.    

Correction:  These ideas made famous by secular sensationalists are patently untrue.  None of the 900+ DSS or countless fragments ever mention the Essenes.  An extensive list of differences separates the Qumranians and the Essenes. 

7.     Error:  The DSS tell us nothing about which OT text is the correct one. 

Correction:  The DSS are one of the strongest arguments for the Masoretic Text being the true Old Testament. 

8.     Error:  The Hebrew verb “YLD” used 55 times in the lists of Adam and Shem can be translated “he had” or “he brought forth to birth.”    

Correction:  The verb is in the hiphil stem which indicates causative action.  The father’s action caused or contributed to causing the birth of all after him so any of his descendants could be named next while the years indicate when his immediate son was born. 

9.     Error:  The Jews extensively changed their OT text after 70 AD. 

Correction:  The DSS show that the Jews faithfully copied their OT text.

10.  Error:  The biblical Flood was a local event. 

Correction:  Over 90 times Scripture uses global language for the Flood.  Ten unique features separate this flood from all other floods. 

11.  Error:  The days of Creation were long periods of time.  God’s seventh day rest continues to this day.

Correction:  Each day of Creation week was a normal day.  God distinguished the seventh day from the first six with a blessing.  It stands as a memorial to Creation week.

Interpretative Errors Identified in Chapter 9-11 (Job)

1.     Error:  Job was a descendant of Arpachshad, Shem’s first son and heir. 

Correction:  Job most likely descended from Shem’s fifth son, Uz, since Job owned much land in Uz and a man named Uz received the land of Uz when the land was divided long before Job. 

2.     Error:  If the doubling (42:10, 12) includes Job’s years, he lived 210 years (70 + 140 = 210). 

Correction:  The doubling of Job’s years was like the doubling of his children (10 before and 10 after).  Thus, Job lived 140 years before and 140 years after his trial, a total of 280 years. 

3.     Error:  Job lived between the time of Abraham and David (2100-1100 BC). 

Correction:  Job was born about 500 years before Abraham who lived 175 years while Job lived 280 years.  Longevity was declining about 4-5 years per generation at that time.   

4.     Error:  The purpose of the book is to explain the problem of human suffering. 

Correction:  The suffering of Job was permitted by God to reveal the true source of all suffering, Satan, at the earliest time.  Job is the earliest book in the Bible.  It precedes all of the OT except Genesis 1-11.

5.     Error:  God told Job to look at Behemoth who was either mythical, or an elephant or hippo.

Correction:  Behemoth was a long-necked, long-tailed dinosaur whom Job watched in the Jordan Valley long before the dinosaurs were driven out and Sodom developed there.

6.     Error:  The creature God concluded His words to Job with (Leviathan) (Job 41) was either a whale or sea crocodile.  

Correction:  Leviathan, the only animal specifically named in the Creation account of Genesis 1 (1:21) explains Job’s suffering.  He was a dreadful sea monster, a serpent, created by God to picture Satan and the vicious harm he attempts to inflict on mankind.

7.     Error:  Angels were created on day one of Creation week (Job 38:7) since Scripture says “God saw all that He had made and it was very good.”  Genesis 1:31. 

Correction:  When God pronounced that all He had made was very good, He was speaking about the physical universe.  Angels are spiritual.

8.     Error:  There is no ice age in Job.  Cold weather conditions are found throughout the OT. 

Correction:  Ice age conditions are only now being recognized and the professionals find numerous ice age phenomena in Job, such as frequent drenching rain, thunder and lightning. 

9.     Error:  Peleg’s name means “divided” and refers to the division of human speech into languages shortly before Peleg’s birth.  Peleg was born 101 years after the Flood. 

Correction:  More specifically, Peleg’s name means “to divide by water” and is used that way in many languages.  He received this name because when he was born the Ice Age was winding down and the melting ice was raising sea level to cover the land bridges that connected the continents.  Thus, Peleg’s name is related to a division of continents caused by water, not a division of languages caused by God’s judgment on Babel. 

Interpretative Errors Identified in Chapter 12-13 (Table of Nations; Errors of History)

1.      Error:  Peleg and Joktan were brothers in the immediate sense that both had the same father. 

Correction:  They were brothers in the broad sense of both being descendants of Eber.  Peleg was born as much as a millennium after Joktan whose descendants populated Arabia during the Great Ice Age.

2.     Error:  The Table of Nations in Genesis 10 is a record of the repopulation of the earth after the Flood. 

 Correction:  The Table of Nations is extremely selective giving only 36 of the estimated 80 sons born in the second generation and just three of the estimated 400 sons born in the third generation after the global Flood.  The purpose of this record was to inform Israel about the background of her neighbors.

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth

Witnesses in a court of law take an oath “to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”  Why?  Without the truth a court will most likely render an incorrect verdict.  About forty-five interpretative errors are listed above and certainly others have been overlooked.  In some way each error helps to defend the practice of viewing Shem’s genealogy as a chronology.  No wonder when the Flood occurred is such a mystery.


bottom of page