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


Shem’s Genealogy—Which Bible?

The first seven chapters of HB present a rock-solid case for a huge gap in Shem’s genealogy, from 40 to 50 generations skipped between Eber and Peleg.  The omission of those generations places the Flood around 4000 BC or over 1600 years earlier than Archbishop James Ussher’s 2348 BC Flood date.   This finding is based on how Scripture itself uses family terms, genealogies and those numbers given in Genesis five and eleven.  A daunting obstacle opposes this view—many Bibles do not contain the same numbers. 

You read correctly.  Those numbers in Shem’s list as well as the numbers in Adam’s list, used by so many young earth creationists to determine the date of Noah’s Flood and creation, are not even found in a majority of the world’s Bibles.  They appear in most Protestant Bibles.  But Catholic and Orthodox Bibles contain numbers from the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament and the adherents of those branches of Christendom greatly exceed those who use the Protestant Bible—1.6 billion vs 920 million according to Wikipedia.  The begetting year of most fathers in those Bibles is increased by 100.  Even some knowledgeable creationists argue adamantly for the Septuagint’s larger numbers.  If HB is using wrong numbers, it cannot be right.

To make matters worse, the Flood itself is viewed as a local event by a significant number of godly Bible-believing Christians and the six days of creation as undefined periods of time.  Other views also conflict with our missing 40-50 generations view.  While entire books address the many issues examined in this chapter, we will explain their views and use the fewest possible words in answering them.  But be warned, this is a venture into uncharted territory for most inerrancy folks. 

Up front we want to dogmatically state that we believe the Bible of the Reformation preserves the correct text.  While the Greek Septuagint (LXX) is an excellent translation of its base Hebrew text, the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew.  To some extent a translation contains interpretations of the translator, so the text of the original language must be preferred.  This was the conviction of the Protestant reformers who fought numerous misinterpretations based on the LXX.  This is why seminaries that train pastors teach the original languages of both the Old and New Testaments.  Besides being a translation, the LXX contains 14 non-canonical books, obvious changes from the original and contrived numbers in the genealogies of Adam and Shem.  For these reasons and more, we view the original language text called the Masoretic Text (MT) to be the correct Old Testament text. 

Origin of the Greek Septuagint (LXX)

Our story begins by rehearsing how there came to be two major versions of the Old Testament. In colorful language Flavius Josephus relates that Ptolemy II Philadelphus who ruled Egypt from 285 to 246 BC requested of the high priest in Jerusalem that a copy of the Torah be translated into Greek and added to his library in Alexandria which had reached 200,000-volumes by that point.  Over time Ptolemy’s library became one of the most famous in the ancient world and it’s Greek became the common language of the Mediterranean region and Middle East.  The Torah contains the first five books of the OT written by Moses as God spoke to Israel in the wilderness (1446-1406 BC).  Ptolemy’s request was nearly 1200 years later, about 250 BC.  Jerusalem sent 72 elders to Alexandria where they quickly made the translation.  Because just over 70 Jews were involved, their translation was called the Septuagint, the Greek word for 70. 

A second story dates the LXX to about 280 BC.  While only 30 years separate the two dates, the Word of God requires accuracy and truth.  Evidence favors the 250 date, but the 280 date is advanced by those who argue for the LXX numbers and therefore is important to the question of which text contains the correct numbers.  This controversy is explored in detail in Appendix 8.3.

The original Septuagint contained just the five books of Moses—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.  This is extremely important because over hundreds of years many more books were added to it, yet the growing collection continued to be called the “Septuagint.”  First, by fits and starts during the next 150 years the remainder of the Hebrew Bible was translated into the Greek by possibly four generations of translators and became a part of the Septuagint.  This was the OT often cited in the NT.  Then, as the church age progressed more and more non-canonical books were added to it.  This much larger collection is what the words “Septuagint” and “LXX” refer to today.   


Aramaic Replaces Hebrew

An impressive argument for the LXX numbers is that they are supported by 400 years of historians including Demetrius, Eupolemus, Philo and Josephus before the first known mention of the MT numbers.  This MT silent period lasted from the beginning of the LXX translation to the alleged Jewish deflation of the birthing numbers sometime after 70 AD.  However, it happened as Hebrew underwent a transformation in Israel.  Beginning with Babylonian invasions of Israel and the resulting Babylonian Captivity, nearby peoples replaced the Jewish population.  Then, as Jews slowly returned after the prophesied 70 years of exile, they became mixed with this new population, some of whom spoke a significant regional Semitic language called Aramaic (from Aram, one of Shem’s five sons).  As Aramaic words entered the Jews’ Hebrew language, their distinctive Hebrew tongue eventually came to be replaced by Aramaic. 

By Jesus’ day Aramaic, not Hebrew, was the everyday language spoken in Israel.  Possibly only several hundred thousand Jews could even understand biblical Hebrew.  To get along as a conquered people, many Jews in Israel also spoke the international language, the Koine Greek.    Scholars debate just how much the average Jew of that day used or even understood Biblical Hebrew although the Hebrew OT did continue to be used by Jews in Temple functions, scholarly debates, public teaching and readings in local synagogues.  Nevertheless, that Hebrew OT was the official OT text of Judaism and in coming centuries came to be known as the Masoretic Text (MT).   

Just before His ascension Jesus told his disciples “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).   As the church reached further and further from Jerusalem, it needed to speak in a language the world understood.  That language was not Aramaic or biblical Hebrew.  It was the Koine Greek.  The early disciples witnessed from the Greek Old Testament, the LXX.  Thus, the LXX became the commonly used OT Bible of the NT Church while the books of the NT all came to be preserved if not written in that same Greek language and remain so to this day.  Fifteen hundred years later leaders of the Protestant Reformation returned to the Hebrew MT believing it was the true OT.  

Necessity, therefore, forced the use of the Greek LXX, but the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) prove beyond doubt that the MT all along was the preferred Jewish text.  The next pages will explain why their existence is among the top reasons Hidden Beauty believes the MT, not the LXX contains the true birthing numbers in the Genesis five and eleven genealogies. 

We also learn from this so-called period of silence the priority of God.  He was vastly more concerned with getting out the Gospel than establishing the dates for the Flood and Creation.  In fact, those dates were so unimportant to God that they are never given in all of Scripture.  Suggesting that a written summation of the Genesis five and eleven numbers is unnecessary and the reader can add those two sets of birthing ages in his head while reading the text defies about every rule of clear writing. 

This is doubly certain in view of the summation of each birthing and remaining number in the Genesis five list.  Nine times Scripture gives the birthing number, the remaining years and sums those two numbers.  Clearly, by summing them all nine times, the author shows they were meant to be summed while the absence of a summation of the nineteen birthing numbers shows they were not meant to be summed.  Such minor issues as the dates of the Flood and creation could wait until they needed to be addressed.  But Jesus commanded the apostles to devote their attention to announcing the good news that “God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes on him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). 

In addition to the two major Pentateuchal texts—the Masoretic Text in Hebrew and the original Septuagint in Koine Greek—the Samaritans had their own version.  When they separated from Judah following Solomon’s reign, the godly among them honored Moses and lived by the Pentateuch.  Nevertheless, the ungodly leaders made major changes such as changing certain commands related to worshipping in Jerusalem so that they could live as a separate kingdom.  It was written in Hebrew using the Samaritan alphabet.  It is called the Samaritan Pentateuch (SP) and is helpful to textual scholars as they study verses in the Books of Moses.  However, after the captivity it lost its significance and by the days of Jesus and the Apostles, the MT and LXX were the only OTs used. 

Differences between the MT and the LXX

There are tens of thousands of differences between the MT and the canonical OT LXX books.  Many are merely matters of breathing, pronunciation, spelling, etc.  The Torah is the most similar in the two versions while substantial differences are found in some of the other books such as Jeremiah and Daniel.  Our concern is the numbers in Shem’s genealogy which most creationists sum to calculate the date of the Flood.  If those numbers are wrong, we are beating a dead horse and Ussher’s date for the Flood is wrong as well.  

Astonishingly all but the key numbers differ in the Genesis five and eleven lists as authority Dr. Pete Williams wrote in a 1998 Journal of Creation article.  Further, the LXX contains one more name than the MT.  In a spreadsheet Williams displayed side by side the years given in the three OT Pentateuchal texts for Genesis five and eleven.[1]  This involves a whopping 146 numbers.  (See Appendix, Tables 8.1 and 8.2.)  In fact, of 20 names only the numbers of Noah and Shem agree in all three texts.   Beyond mere disagreements of certain numbers, 12 of the 20 fathers were 100 years older when their heir was born according to the LXX.  The LXX numbers also show that the decline in human longevity began before the Flood.  

Some creationists prefer the larger numbers and several dogmatically defend them.  They charge that the birthing ages in the two genealogies were deliberately and systematically deflated after 70 AD in the MT while the LXX numbers are mostly the correct numbers.  On the other hand, Williams says that both “the Septuagint and the Samaritan Pentateuch show evidence of systematic schematisation [British] within themselves.”  Is Williams a lone voice?  No.  Numbers specialists have studied and compared the three different manuscripts of these two passages.  In noting the specific numbers and their patterns they conclude that the LXX numbers are artificial and obviously manipulated—devised, not natural. 

Why would specialists in the field of number patterns stamp the LXX numbers as artificial and manipulated?  Here are three reasons and undoubtedly there are more.  First, the birthing numbers in the LXX are uncannily similar to each other.  From Cainan to Lamach they read 170, 165, 162, 165 and 167.  The odds of five consecutive generations giving birth to their heirs so close to the same age is great.  Because the MT numbers are 100 years less, they are spread out about four times compared with the LXX and do not raise red flags to numbers specialists.  The Shem list, though, is a scandal.  The LXX gives the following birthing ages for the first seven named fathers born in his line after the Flood (including the extra name in the LXX list):  135, 130, 130, 134, 130, 132, 130.  The odds of such similar birthing ages are astronomical.  Second, the LXX numbers show a consistent decline in longevity after the Flood with one exception.  While this is extremely satisfying to the secular mind, it is a stretch statistically.   

Thirdly, the LXX Shem birthing numbers show an artificial pattern when calculated as a percentage of total lifespan.  This observation is not apparent on the surface, but stands out when one divides the birthing age by the total age.  For example, Arpachshad was 135 when he fathered the next generation.  Divide 135 by his lifespan of 438.  The answer, 23.9%, tells how far he was into his total years when he fathered the next generation.  The first four names (Arpachshad, Cainan, Shelah and Eber) show these percentages:  23.9%, 28.3%, 28.3% and 26.6% and this in spite of LXX adjustments in total ages to show gradual reduction in longevity.  The next four names show these percentages:  38.3%, 38.9%, 39.4% and 38.0% in spite of an increase in Nahor’s longevity.  The artificial nature of these numbers is obvious—four consecutive names with percentages between 23.9% and 28.3% and the very next four names with percentages between 38.0% and 39.4%. 

If using today’s average lifespan of 70 years, these numbers would read 16.7%, 19.8%, 19.8% and 18.6% for the first four names and 26.8%, 27.3%, 27.6% and 23.9% for the second four names.  By comparison the MT percentages are 8.0%, 6.9% and 7.3% for the three names and 12.6%, 13.4% and 13.0% for the next three.  This is consistent with the contention of this book that following the first three names is a gap of 40-50 generations.  The MT birthing numbers show that the first generations after the Flood obeyed God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 9:7) by having children as soon as they were physically capable while the LXX numbers don’t show such urgency (23.9%, 28.3%, 28.3% and 26.6%).  The very numbers of the LXX are sufficient reason to reject them.  

The Dead Sea Scrolls

But the very best evidence to uphold the MT as the correct OT text is the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS).  Those who weigh the MT vs the LXX must understand these scrolls so Hidden Beauty devotes many pages to their content, the Qumran community and distortions by sensationalists.  (See Appendix 8.4 – 8.6.)  In 1947 Bedouin youths looking for lost sheep stumbled across several parchments in a cave near the Dead Sea.  They were identified as legitimate ancient documents and soon the search was on for more.  Over eight years searchers found 900 scrolls and uncounted fragments, mostly in Hebrew and written on parchment. They were hidden in eleven caves in the cliffs close to an ancient two-building settlement called Qumran that looked down on the NW corner of the Dead Sea.  The fragile pieces of parchment had been preserved by the hot, dry desert climate and the darkness of the caves.  This discovery is variously called the greatest archaeological event of the 20th century and the greatest finding of ancient documents of all time. 

Searchers found fragments of every book of the OT except Esther.  Textual scholars began studying the manuscripts as soon as they realized the scrolls were genuine and have been studying them ever since.  A growing list of insights have developed over the intervening 70 years of study and the more recent discovery of scrolls at six other Judean Desert locations.  Seven hundred of the original scrolls are non-biblical sacred writings.  They give a new understanding of the religious life of Israel during this period.  But HB is exploring the question of whether the LXX or MT is the true OT so it will focus on the 200 plus biblical scrolls as well as the more recent biblical discoveries.  First, early impressions will be reported.  Then the more accurate current understanding is related.    

The scholars quickly realized that not all the texts read alike.  Yes, many of them did read like the earliest already-existing MTs, but some of them read like the earliest LXX texts.  Further, some did not read like either.  They were sorted into piles that were similar.  Eventually they had five groups—those similar to the MT, those similar to the LXX, those similar to the Samaritan Pentateuch, a fourth similar group and finally those that fit none of the four piles.  What an eye-opener.  Before, the thinking was that there was just a single text of the Hebrew Old Testament and copies of it had more or fewer mistakes depending on the diligence of the scribe.  Now it was apparent that multiple Hebrew OT texts had come into existence over the centuries.    

In studying the base Hebrew texts used to translate the LXX, the scholars discovered that the LXX was a good translation, that it faithfully translated the Hebrew text that it was based on.  As a result, the LXX has been declared an excellent and trustworthy translation of its source Hebrew texts.  Some of the remarkable evidence for its accuracy will be addressed later.

The presence of different families of OT texts at Qumran means the 70 who translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek had multiple Hebrew texts to choose from.  They did not have to change any birthing numbers in the genealogies of Adam and Shem.  Those numbers already existed in the text they selected to translate into Greek.  The argument that the LXX numbers are right while the MT numbers have been changed does not fit the finding of multiple Hebrew OT textual families found at Qumran. 

 The existence of these multiple textual families led to further observations.  Differences in the texts did not seem to trouble the Qumranian scribes.  They carefully copied the texts they procured, even obvious mistakes.  This showed the care with which the scribes did their copying.  The two previous oldest Masoretic Texts were the Aleppo Codex of 930 AD and the Leningrad Codex of 1050 AD which are almost identical to each other.  Now the DSS discovery brought to light scrolls that existed a thousand years before and they are remarkably like those two medieval texts.  One scroll is the complete book of Isaiah.  It is amazingly close to Isaiah in the previous oldest copy of the MT, the Aleppo Codex. 

However, the birthing years in Genesis five and eleven is the issue before us.  With several exceptions the scrolls are not complete OT books but rather portions of OT books, chapters and even compilations of verses from various books.  None contain any of the birthing years of Genesis five and eleven so that is not our argument.  Rather, they consistently show that the Scriptures regardless of textual family were carefully and faithfully copied during the time when Israel was shifting from Hebrew to Aramaic.  Thus, the DSS prove that the charge that Jews made extensive changes to the MT in the second century A.D. is false. 

The birthing numbers were changed sometime before the translation into Greek.  So, when the Jews translated their Torah for Ptolemy’s library, they had multiple texts to choose from and to avoid offending the Egyptians chose a text that had the larger numbers.  Toward the end of this chapter, we will describe the development of the OT canon and suggest those birthing numbers were most likely changed well before 250 BC.  

More Recent Insights

In 2016 newly developed computer imaging was able to read a charred Hebrew scroll from an ancient synagogue at Engedi dated c. 200 AD.  The scroll consisted of Leviticus chapters one and two.  The words in it were identical to the earliest existing Hebrew copy of Leviticus 1-2.    Emanuel Tov, who coordinated the work of 98 scholars during his years as editor-in-chief of the 40 volume DSS publishing project from 1991 to 2009, exclaimed, “We have never found something as striking as this.  This is the earliest evidence of the exact form of the medieval text [earliest previously existing MTs, the Aleppo and Leningrad Codices].”[2]   Biblical scrolls found at five other Judean Desert locations are like the Engedi Leviticus scroll.  They are identical (or nearly identical) to the MT.   They were carried by those fleeing the Romans during the Jewish revolts of 67 and 132 AD and represent Jewish national circles that adhered only to the MT. 

More careful examination of the Qumran scrolls since 1990 reveals that the Pentateuchal ones were likewise close to the MT while the texts of other OT books were more like other textual families.  In a 17-page article Emanuel Tov, explained what was going on.[3]  The goal of the Qumran community was to keep the Mosaic Law as perfectly as humanly possible.  In this effort they interpreted the requirements of the law more strictly than the priesthood in Jerusalem and viewed themselves as the true Israel.  They were opposing the wicked priest (presumably the Levitical officials at Jerusalem) and even observed a different calendar than the temple leadership.  They wrote the 700 non-biblical sacred texts in their efforts to accomplish their goal.  So while they stayed close to the Pentateuchal MT in their effort to fully keep the law, they practiced greater freedom in the other OT books, showing their freedom from the religious establishment in Jerusalem. 

Those loyal to the Jerusalem priesthood fled the Roman war machine but did not take their scrolls to Qumran.  Instead, they hid out in other Judean Desert locations.  The Qumran scrolls represent various religious movements in Israel that identified with the Qumran goal.  As a result, on the one hand scrolls exist that are identical or nearly identical to the MT Pentateuch which shows the great care given the MT.  On the other hand, the existence of multiple textual families shows beyond question that these different textual families were well known in Israel and had a long history. 

Tov also wrote an article on the numbers problem in the three major Pentateuchs.  He concluded that the differences are recensional, not scribal.[4]  He believes that the Hebrew base text for the LXX and Samaritan Pentateuch developed as one text and was later separated into two texts.  He also views the LXX numbers as obviously contrived.

Now, for another shocker.  Textual scholars have studied OT quotes in the New Testament.  It turns out the NT authors cited verses from various OT textual families.  Tov observed that the Apostle Paul used currently recognized different Greek textual families for the same biblical book (Isaiah) and apparently under the same conditions in the same epistle (Romans).   Paul, it appears, used whatever text was available wherever he happened to be.  This shows that God’s focus was on the message, not the exact wording of the OT quote.   

To all the DSS evidence for the careful handling of Scripture, two unfortunate responses are found.  Most creationists dismiss them.  In fact, most have not even heard much about them.  But those who have say the people who lived in the tiny settlement of Qumran in the midst of the 11 Dead Sea caves and collected and copied the scrolls are insignificant, unimportant.  Unbelievers go even further, identifying them as heretics—Essenes.  The Essenes had their own agenda.  They mixed Judaism with heathen beliefs from ancient Eastern religions.  Some liberals conclude that possibly Jesus got His ideas from them while certain creationists adamantly conclude the Qumranians were not a part of true Israel.  Their scrolls prove nothing about God; mystery and confusion surround them; we have better things to do with our time.  Appendix 8.6 contains a full discussion of the “Qumranians were Essenes” issue.

Thirteen Reasons to Prefer the Masoretic Text Numbers

A plethora of misinformation underlies the thinking of those who prefer the LXX numbers.  Our first eight reasons for rejecting these arguments have already been explained.  First and foremost is that the DSS have a strong preference for the MT.  Second, the LXX translators had multiple Hebrew texts to choose from and chose the textual family with the larger numbers.  Third, the LXX numbers are obviously manipulated.  Fourth, the changing of languages in Israel and growing dependance on the LXX explains why the LXX birthing numbers predominantly show up in historical records.  Fifth, God’s clear priority was to get out the Gospel, not clarify minor issues such as the dates of the Flood and Creation.  

Sixth, the purpose of the numbers.  Most creationists say they were given to establish a chronology of early earth history.  This argument was addressed at length in chapter one (pp 17-19). It quotes a conservative Hebrew scholar who offered possible non-chronology purposes for those numbers.  He specifically stated that “The major arguments they use (for the chrono-genealogical view) are defective and falsifiable.”  Arguments seven and eight are major subjects of this book—the common Hebrew practice of condensing genealogies and the huge decline of longevity between Eber and Peleg in the MT.  (These two arguments dissolve if the LXX numbers are correct.  The LXX numbers contain no enormous decline in longevity between two generations).  

 The remaining arguments have not been previously mentioned.  Nine.  This argument involves a complicated grammatical issue regarding the form of the Hebrew verb “beget” in the Genesis five and eleven lists.  Hebrew verbs do not have tenses.  While English verbs have tenses which tell about the “when” of the action, Hebrew verbs have seven possible stems which tell the type of action of the verb.  One of the challenges to the new Hebrew student is learning all the forms of those stems for the same verb. 

The Hebrew verb for beget (YLD) is in the hiphil stem in Genesis five and eleven.  It is used consistently that way for a total of 55 times.  Those not seasoned in Hebrew might translate the hiphil of YLD with “he had” or “he brought forth to birth.”  With this rendering of YLD the student might conclude that because of this, the age of the father when the named son was born establishes a chronology.  He might conclude that though names may be omitted, the chronology remains unchanged.  Thus, the Hebrew student would conclude that the Hebrew grammatical structure prohibits omitting generations.   With this thinking he would sum the Shem list birthing ages found in the LXX and confidently conclude that the Flood occurred around 3300 BC.  By adding the numbers in Adam’s list, he would place creation around 5560 BC. 

The fact is that the hiphil stem indicates causative action.  While the basic qal stem would be sufficient for “he had” or “he brought forth to birth,” the hiphil stem has greater force.  It says “A” took an action that caused the birth of generation “B.”  If a generation “C” followed, “A’s” action, in effect, caused that birth as well.  In fact, regardless of how many generations followed “B,” “A’s” action caused that chain.  Thus, all descendants of “A” were caused by that action (even though the actions of descendants were necessary as well).  But the writer felt the need to record when “A” took that action.  This is where the confusion arises.  The offspring’s name is mistakenly linked to this age.  When that happens, the reader establishes a chronology.  But “A’s” age was when he took this action and his immediate son was born.  The named son could be the immediate son or any descendant down the line.  It was the choice of the author to name the one in the line he wanted to feature. 

If the author had wished to emphasize that the son was born in the normal process of nature, the stem indicating intensive action, the piel stem, would have been used.  That would be saying that “A” did not adopt “B” or buy him as a slave or procure him in some other way, but he acquired him by begetting him.  But neither the qal nor piel stems were selected.  The author chose the stem that emphasizes causation and he did this repeatedly.  So, the passage emphasizes that the father’s action caused the births of all who resulted from his action.  If the author named “C” rather than “B,” he would be skipping one generation.  If he named “G” rather than “B,” he would be skipping B, C, D, E and F—five generations.  Thus, the hiphil does not introduce a chronology.  Because of the hiphil, those from Green to Unger who taught Hebrew for a lifetime knew they were on solid ground when they stated that names were omitted in the lists. 

Believers who subscribe to the inerrancy of Scripture are to be commended as they try to take the literal meaning of the words their translations use.  But since the Hebrew verb form can, to some extent, be lost in the translation, Scripture must be read with care.  To this extent those who read a translation of the Hebrew are dependent on Hebrew scholars.  Why four paragraphs on the hiphil not supporting the chronological argument?  It is because creationists have been inundated with articles on Genesis five and eleven being chronologies.  Those lists are even given a special name—chronogenealogies.  In effect, those well read in creationist literature have been brainwashed as this idea has been repeated over and over so it could take multiple explanations using different words to plant the correct meaning in their minds. 

Ten.  The DSS are firsthand documents in existence today.  Conversely, the actual texts of many of the various external witnesses to the LXX numbers during the 400 silent years such as Demetrius, Eupolemus and Philo are not available for independent verification.  They cannot be checked to determine if their statements are consistent, in proper context and not somehow compromised.  Rules of evidence prefer a physical document to a report of a document. 

Eleven.  Josephus is cited as a key historical witness to the LXX birthing numbers but his testimony is questionable.   He declared that everything he wrote came straight from the Jews sacred books and that he accessed the original Hebrew documents.  Yet he was in Rome and under Flavian patronage when he wrote all of his known works.  Josephus scholars universally decry his liberties with the facts.  He elaborated at will and changed obvious facts to entertain and not offend his readers.  For instance, in relating about Abraham in Genesis 11 and 20, he says Abraham and Nahor married their cousins, the daughters of their brother Haran.  When Abimelech confronted Abraham about Sarah being his wife, Josephus wrote that Abraham said she was his cousin even though the LXX says “Sarah is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother.”  Without question he would definitely have reported the greater LXX birthing numbers as the MT numbers would have insulted the intelligence of his readers. 

Behind the personage was a character.  Here are the facts.  He was a Jewish general in Galilee leading a revolt against the Romans.  He was defeated and taken prisoner.  That should have been the end, but Josephus had a secret weapon, words.  With words he made the Romans and Greeks love him.  The way he wrote delighted them.  He even wrote they all worshipped the same god.  Various people used different names.  The Greeks called him Zeus. 

In addition to Josephus’ known penchant to elaborate at will, his LXX list does not include the second Cainan.  He writes that from Adam to Moses were ten fathers and from Shem to Abraham were ten fathers so he leaves out the second Cainan.  This is extremely damaging to his testimony.  In fact, it pretty much disqualifies his witness to the LXX numbers.  It indicates that he had no Hebrew text or if he did, it did not contain the second Cainan, or he wanted to delight his audience with exactly ten names in each list.  Since the second Cainan is in today’s LXX, one must wonder just how reliable his copy of the LXX was or how reliable today’s copy is.  He also gave three or four different numbers from today’s LXX.  While Josephus is cited as a leading ancient historian to the LXX numbers, if a leading witness is so defective, how certain can we be about the others? 

Twelve.  Jerome (345-420 AD) testified to seeing the actual Hebrew texts in Jerusalem.  This man was a true scholar in Latin, Hebrew and Greek.  He translated the Latin Vulgate directly from the Hebrew.  Even though he is dated to the late 4th century AD, he would have carefully investigated any tales of Jewish officials deflating the numbers after 70 AD and he would not have selected the MT numbers unless he was convinced they were correct.  Jerome is a strong witness to the MT numbers. 

Thirteen.  Argument from the Book of Jubilees (BOJ).  The BOJ (c. 150-160 BC) declares that 50 Jubilees occurring from Creation to Joshua’s conquests, 2500 years.  To do so it changed some MT birthing years in the two lists to total that number but its first five birthing numbers are the same as those in the MT and the sixth is different by just one year.  LXX advocates say that the MT numbers were copied from the BOJ and since the BOJ numbers are unreliable, the MT numbers are also unreliable. 

Scholars agree that the BOJ numbers were contrived to produce fifty jubilees.  Still, God’s law regarding sabbath years lay deep in the souls of His people.  They were to do no work and let the land rest on the seventh year.  After observing seven sabbatical years they were to observe a super sabbatical year on the fiftieth year.  So, the numbers seven, 49 and 50 were very powerful and pleasing to the Jewish mind.  Is it not possible that some overzealous Jew began thinking about those begetting numbers in the MT and by changing some could more establish Israel’s early history from them with greater certainty?  He could use the first numbers because they were small and would give his idea credibility.  In fact, he would only have to change a half dozen of the 19 MT numbers to achieve his goal.  This could explain how the BOJ came to be written.

More importantly, the MT numbers existed well over a thousand years before the BOJ numbers.  So, the argument using the BOJ as the source for the MT numbers is backwards.  The BOJ got many of its numbers from the existing MT.  Further, while the BOJ drew considerable attention at both Qumran and Jerusalem, it was never declared authoritative in either place. 

A baker’s dozen of arguments have been given preferring the MT birthing numbers in Genesis five and eleven.  These arguments will be challenged by godly believers.  Some of our thirteen arguments may even be incorrect.  For instance, the Josephus argument may be blamed on scribal errors and the external witness argument may be challenged.  But no one can dismiss most of the others such as the arguments from the DSS and the pattern of the LXX numbers.  Consequently, the inescapable conclusion is that MT numbers are correct and the LXX numbers are artificial.

However, some advance a fourteenth argument for the MT numbers.  They claim that God promised to preserve the Scripture’s original text.  They cite such verses as Psalm 12:7, Luke 16:17, Romans 12:1-2, and Jude 1:3 for this claim.  This is so surprising that we must repeat:  one highly visible Ph.D. creationist (and his followers) in effect says God has promised to preserve the original autographs.  But this is not what those verses are saying.  Rather, they concern the fulfillment of what God has promised, not the text in which He promised it.  Jesus indicated clearly that God will fulfill all He has said in Matthew 5:18: “Until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” 

The idea that God has promised to preserve the original text sends the blood pressure of scholars who have spent lifetimes studying the various texts and therefore know of thousands of differences in them through the ceiling.  This view brings their utter scorn on all who hold it.  As we have said repeatedly, the original autographs were lost long ago.  Errors have entered the text(s) that we have today.  Thus, we must compare Scripture with Scripture to get the clearest and best meaning.  Creationists need to separate themselves from such unbiblical teaching.   

Those who prefer the LXX birthing numbers do so because they are persuaded that the Flood and Creation occurred earlier than Ussher’s dates and the LXX accommodates them with earlier Flood and Creation dates.  Hidden Beauty also came into existence because it seemed that civilization was going strong at the time of Ussher’s Flood date.  But HB limited its search to the Scriptures and drew its conclusions from the common and frequent practices within the Hebrew text.  Defending the larger LXX numbers is certainly zeal for God, but wouldn’t it be better to stand on the common practices of Scripture which uses family terms broadly and condenses genealogies? 

Other Views Needing Correction 
The Local Flood View

Believers exposed to the early pronouncements from the budding science of geology saw their precious Bible vilified via Noah’s Flood.  While the Flood is the greatest geological event spoken of since Creation, it is a religious story and thus a tempting target for scoffers.  And that is what happened.  Early geologists unmercifully ridiculed the biblical Flood story.  Those who love Jesus searched for an answer.  They noticed that the words Scripture uses for the Flood are employed in different senses throughout the Bible and began to defend it by reasoning that Scripture was using words like “all,” “every” and “on the earth” in a limited sense.  They suggested the Flood may have occurred where a sea like the Black Sea exists today or possibly the Flood wiped out a large population in a region like the Tigris-Euphrates River basin. 

Geologists have learned much since the days of Charles Lyell, the father of geology.  Now they know of entire systems or masses of magma that rise like plumes or spreading tree branches all the way from the lower mantle to the surface of the earth.  One is under the Indian Ocean.  Another is under an area greater than Ethiopia.  “All the fountains of the great deep burst forth” (Genesis 7:11) no longer sounds that far-fetched.  Geologists know that the crust of the earth up to ten miles down is layered with fossil-bearing, water-deposited material and hardened flows of magma.  These layers can be traced for thousands of miles and give evidence of immediate deposit.  Vast amounts of physical evidence in the earth’s surface layers confirm a global flood. 

However, believers should look to Scripture as the final authority, not Scripture as interpreted by some human authority.  Scripture itself uses an overwhelming number of terms commonly understood in a global, world-wide sense in speaking of the Flood.  Sometimes one verse will use two or more such terms so all such terms, whether in various verses or the same verse, are separately counted in the summaries below: 

—Of the wickedness of man and judgment on all humans outside the ark: Genesis 6:3, 5, 5, 6, 7, 11, 11, 12, 12, 13, 13, 13, 17, 19, 19, 20, 20; 7:4, 11, 11, 21, 22, 23 (23 occurrences);

—Of the death of all land animals except those on the ark:  Genesis 6:19, 20; 7:3, 14, 14, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 23, 23, 23 (14 occurrences); 

—Of the waters increasing/prevailing:  Genesis 7:16, 18, 19, 19, 20, 20, 24 (7 occurrences);

—Of the subsiding of the waters and the exiting of the Ark:  Genesis 8:1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 5, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 13, 14, 17, 17, 18, 19, 19, 19, 19 (22 occurrences);

—Of God’s command to fill the earth and His promise not to destroy all flesh by another flood:  Genesis 8:21, 21, 22; 9:1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 7, 7, 10, 10, 10, 11, 11, 12, 12, 13, 14, 15, 15, 16, 16, 17, 19, 10:32 (28 occurrences).

A dozen all-encompassing terms such as “all flesh” might be tolerable in describing a devastating flood of limited geographical area.  But as shown above, Scripture uses these terms over 90 times as it describes a flood that blotted out all land-dwelling life.  Similarly, a chapter might suffice to describe a local flood, but Scripture devotes five chapters to this flood.  Five chapters is equal to all the Scripture that comes before—both the Creation account and all pre-Flood history. 

The rest of the Bible continues this global view of the Flood.  Thousands of years later, God said, “I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth” (Isaiah 54:9).  God says that just as He has kept that oath, so He will also keep His oath to love Israel.  Jesus said “the Flood destroyed them all” (cited in two Gospels:  Matthew 24:39; Luke 17:27).  Peter reasons of the certainty of future judgment by using the Flood as an example: “if (God) did not spare the ancient world…when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly…” (II Peter 2:5).  Later Peter divides time into two epochs: “the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished, but…the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire…,” i.e., then…now, (II Peter 3:6-7).  Scripture abounds with statements to the effect that the Flood was global.  As to human authorities, Merrill F. Unger, a modern prince of biblical Hebrew, wrote in his Bible dictionary, page 372, “In the Genesis account nothing short of a globe-encircling catastrophe is indicated.” 

In addition to the constant use of inclusive nouns and adjectives in the Flood account, nine other major features of the Flood story support a global event: 1-Satanic activity; 2- design of the Ark; 3- the years provided to build it; 4-the duration of the Flood; 5-the character of Noah; 6-pre-flood geography; 7-permission to eat animal flesh; 8-the rainbow; and 9-repopulating the world. 

1.  Satanic activity.  The Flood record begins with a brief but chilling and mysterious account of Satanic activity that worked to corrupt mankind and thus destroy God’s plan for man.  Commentators generally overlook Satan as the cause of the explosion of human wickedness that required radical surgery, yet that is the Scriptural explanation (Genesis 6:1-4) that begins five chapters on the Flood and the repopulation of the earth. 

2.  Design of the Ark.  The Ark was remarkably suited to enable the survival of its passengers.  It was the largest vessel built until modern times, yet its dimensions were as sound as today’s ship design.  How is that possible?  God, not Noah, specified the dimensions of the Ark.  God designed the Ark to float and hold a maximum of cargo, not travel to some destination.  Basically, it was a rectangular box which would head into the wind to prevent capsizing.  If the flood was local, there would be no need for a ship at all.  God could simply have directed the Noah party out of the danger zone.  But the Ark was an ocean-going vessel for a worldwide flood. 

3.  The years provided to build it.  Because of the wickedness of man God determined to destroy all flesh in 120 years (Genesis 6:3).  If the flood was local, this would give Noah enough time to make a hundred trips to the safe zone, even if it were a thousand miles away.  But if the flood were to be all encompassing, Noah would need helpers and this is exactly what happened.  After the 120-year warning period began, God gave him three sons.  But Noah would also have to learn the craft of ship building.  Then he needed the time to train a large team of helpers.  Finally, he was assigned the daunting and dangerous task of preaching the message of coming judgment during that time.  The time element is consistent with a global flood.

4.  The duration of the Flood.  Scripture reports that the Flood continued to rise for 150 days, covering the highest hills and taking all human life outside the Ark.  By comparison the Great Mississippi Flood was the most destructive river flood in the history of the United States, with 27,000 square miles inundated in depths of up to 30 feet in early 1927.  Yet it did not cover all the surrounding hills and drowned barely a fraction of the population.   Following 150 days of rising water, the Ark passengers could not disembark for another 221 days because it took that long for the waters to recede, the land to dry out and safety be assured.  When the animals were released, they would quickly travel up to hundreds of miles in all directions from the Ark and all that land had to be safe for them.  No local flood has produced such conditions across thousands of miles that took most of a year to return to normal.

5.  The character of Noah.  The chief character of the Flood, Noah, is ranked with Daniel and Job as the most righteous man in history (Ezekiel 14:14, 20).  In the entire Flood narrative God does the speaking and Noah does the obeying with no indication of hesitation or back talk.  How different is the story of Moses from the burning bush to his striking of the rock.  God couldn’t blot out such a righteous man as Noah.  This world’s most righteous individual of the day was suitable for dealing with the world’s most unusual flood of all time. 

6.  Pre-Flood geography.  As to geography, some local flood proponents suggest that mankind had not spread out worldwide, that he only occupied a small area of the world, so only a local flood was needed to blot out all flesh.  This argument assumes that the geography of the earth before the Flood was the same as today.  That notion has been changing over the past fifty years.  Now creationists with relevant scientific backgrounds think the geography of the earth’s surface was vastly different before the Flood and this is consistent with Genesis chapter one.  Since all the land was in one place, just one super continent existed.  And since the area of the super continent exceeded that of the surrounding ocean, the Flood covered a vast area of land. 

The mechanism which brought on the Flood broke up the super continent.  The pieces of land moved mostly over the next three millennia (4000 BC-1000 BC) to form today’s major continents and many islands.  The mechanism that started this process, while not yet understood, involved a destabilizing of the earth’s mantle as it belched out vast amounts of volcanic material to start the Noahic Flood.  Even after the flood waters had receded 13 months later and the Ark passengers had disembarked, continuing volcanic activity produced the two necessary conditions for an ice age.  Heat from this volcanic activity sustained the warmed oceans while cold over land produced by a thin atmospheric haze caused the Ice Age which went on to reshape vast portions of the land deposits made by the Flood.  The Flood changed pre-flood geography beyond recognition. 

7.  Permission to eat animal flesh.  God stated another worldwide change.  It is so astonishing that expositors hesitate to take it at face value yet it explains how the animals and their keepers could live peaceably on the Ark for a year.  Apparently, the Fall did not alienate man and animals.  While some humans may have harmed animals, the general population lived peaceably with them.  But in some way the Flood caused a nutritional need for man that only animal flesh could supply.  While God gave only the green plants for food before the Flood, He added animal flesh to man’s diet after the Flood.  Here are the words of God Himself:   

2[God said] “The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea.  Into your hand they are delivered.  3Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you.  And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.”  Genesis 9:2-3.

8.  The rainbow; Yet another unique feature of the Flood was the covenant God established between “me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations” (Genesis 9:12).  The rainbow is the sign of the covenant which is seen all over the world.

11“Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”  13“I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  14When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh.  And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.  16When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”  Genesis 9:11, 13-16.

As numerous defenders of the Bible have pointed out, vastly devastating local floods have occurred thousands of times down through the centuries, so if Noah’s Flood were local, God who cannot lie would have lied many times.  The sign of the rainbow reaches as far as Noah’s Flood reached.  It is world-wide because the Flood was world-wide. 

9.  Repopulating the world.  Lastly are the multiple statements related to repopulating the world.  Six times Scripture repeats this idea:

Genesis 9:1 “And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.’”

Genesis 9:7 “And you (Hebrew-plural), be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it.”

Genesis 9:19 “These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed.”

Genesis 10:5 “From these (sons of Japheth) the coastland peoples spread in their lands, each with his own language, by their clans, in their nations.”

Genesis 10:32 “These are the clans of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood.” 

Genesis 11:8 “So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth.”

These nine unique features of the Flood utterly distinguish it from any other flood in all history.

 The Day-Age View 

Vast scientific research finds the universe billions of years old.  Physics has reached the point where it recognizes that if creation began as a tight ball of infinitely hot and compact matter, it would fly apart at an astronomical rate and in 14.3 billion years spread out to today’s universe.  In deference some creationists have sought for Scriptural agreement by interpreting the days of creation week as vast periods of time.  They notice that the Hebrew noun for day has different shades of meaning as do most Hebrew words.  One of those shades of meaning for “day” is a period of time.  On this basis they view the days of creation as periods of time. 

To be sure, throughout Scripture “day” is used in different senses.  But the laws of hermeneutics require the interpreter first to see if Scripture itself defines those days in Genesis one, and if so, to accept the Scriptural definition.  So, does Scripture itself define the length of those days?  Indeed it does.  The fifth commandment sets up an analogy between man’s work week and God’s creation week.  Israel was to follow the pattern set by God.  This means Hebrews were to work six days just as God worked six days and then rest on the seventh day just as God rested on the seventh day. 

8Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  9Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God.  On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter…. 11For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day.  Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.  Exodus 20:8-11.

We can first eliminate any idea that the word “day” in verses referring to man’s work week was longer than a normal day.  Exodus 23:12 is specific: “Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your servant woman, and the alien, may be refreshed.”  Besides Exodus 20:9-10 and 23:12, this idea is stated in yet a third place:

2Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD.  Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death.  3You shall kindle no fire in all your dwelling places on the Sabbath day.  Exodus 35:2-3.

So these three passages settle the issue of whether the days in man’s week were literal or not.  Beyond doubt they were literal.  But the question before us is “Were God’s creation days literal?”  At this point, the day-age folks make an observation that might raise uncertainty.  They observe that the seventh day of creation week was not framed chronologically by an evening and a morning.  They are correct to the extent those words are not used in association with the seventh day.  The day-age people then take their observation to the next level by saying this indicates that since the work of creation was done, God not only rested on the seventh day but is still resting today.  So now, according to their reasoning, one of the days of Genesis 1:1-2:3 is longer than a normal day.  In the end, they conclude all the days were longer than a normal day. 

A continuing seventh day is a crucial first step to their argument for the days being ages.  So, they spend much time explaining the Scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments that speak of God offering His rest to humans.  Then they associate those rests with the rest of God following the sixth day of creation week.  While the subject could consume an entire chapter, we will state simply that each of these three rests was different.  God rested for one day to set a pattern for the Sabbath rest. 

The rest God offered Israel was the rest of being a nation with their own geographical territory.  To acquire that land, they had to fight, not rest.  To be prosperous, they had to work the land six days a week, not rest.  That rest was interrupted when Assyria captured the Northern Kingdom and Babylon captured the Southern Kingdom.  The rest offered since Calvary is the rest of eternal salvation, gained by believing on Jesus Christ.  That rest never ends.  God gives one kind of rest to Israel and another kind to NT believers.  Since those are rests from the hand of God, He calls them “My rest,” but they are not the rest of the seventh day of creation week. 

God is working today, not resting, according to the words of Jesus: “My father works until now and I work” (John 5:17).  At a future time, God will perform a new work of creation, a new heaven and a new earth.  So the rest of God on day seven of creation week lasted one normal day.  All seven days of Genesis 1:1-2:3 are literal, normal days in which God shrank millions and even billions of years of development of the universe and earth into six literal days.   

Perhaps evening and morning were left out of the seventh day record so that what was said would stand out.  God blessed the seventh day, the only day of the seven He blessed.  This was not a general blessing but a very specific blessing.  In effect by setting the seventh day apart as holy, God consecrated it for all time.  This was long before God gave the Mosaic Law.  From this seventh day on, it would proclaim God as the Creator.  To violate it by making it other than a normal day would be to desecrate what God made holy.  Exodus 31:17 is the fullest biblical statement of the purpose of the seventh day.  It signifies that God created everything in six days.  Here is what it says:

“It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.”  Exodus 31:17. 

So the seventh day is a sign.  For the sign to work the previous periods must be days not years or billions of years.  If they are not normal days, the sign is destroyed.  While the words seem repetitive, one could say “The seventh day throughout human history witnesses to God as the Creator and that He did the work of creation in six normal days.”   What Scripture itself says about the seventh day is truly remarkable and what Scripture itself says needs to be the creationist’s focus. 

Returning to the days of Genesis one, days are stated as ordinal, not cardinal numbers in the creation account.  Cardinal numbers follow the pattern of “one,” “two,” “three.”  Ordinal numbers express the order of things and follow the pattern of “first,” “second,” “third.”  In arguing for the seventh day continuing to the present, some observe that the King James Version translated the days as a sentence: “And the evening and the morning were the first day” (Genesis 1:5).  They are correct to the extent that the verb is not associated with the noun “day” but with the nouns “evening” and “morning.”  The English Standard Version correctly translates: “And there was evening and there was morning.”  The next two Hebrew words are the adjective “first” and the noun “day.”  In English we would say, “The first day.”  Some have incorrectly observed that the definite article is used for the first six days but not the seventh day.  The fact is, the definite article is not found with any of the seven days.  Rather, it is a given in the construction itself.  This definite article argument is a red herring used to buttress the day-age view. 

 Some might raise objections by pointing out that “Sabbath” can be a day, a year or even a lot of years.  True, but Scripture generally indicates which kind of a Sabbath is meant, i.e., a Sabbath day, a Sabbath year or a Sabbath of Sabbath years.  For instance, Leviticus 25 introduces a particular kind of Sabbath: “the land shall keep a Sabbath to the LORD” (Leviticus 25:2).  Verses three, four and five explain: 3“For six years you shall sow your field… 4But in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the LORD.  You shall not sow…5You shall not reap….  It shall be a solemn rest for the land.”  God permitted people to take food from it for themselves and their livestock, but for an entire year they were not to work it.  The Sabbath year was for the benefit of the land.  This was three millennia before modern agricultural practices. 

The Sabbath year had other features outlined in the entire fifteenth chapter of Deuteronomy.  “At the end of seven years you shall grant a release” (Deuteronomy 15:1).  “He shall serve you six years and in the seventh year you shall let him go” (Deuteronomy 15:12).  “He has served you six years” (Deuteronomy 15:18).  The word “day” is not found in this chapter because the subject is years, not days.  “At the end of seven years in the year of release” (Deuteronomy 31:10).  On other occasions Scripture uses the word “day” for a normal day.  “For six days you shall eat unleavened bread and on the seventh day…” (Deuteronomy 16:8).   

So, when the Scripture wants to speak of years, it uses that word over and over.  Likewise, it uses the word “day” hundreds of times for an ordinary day.  Why should the words for “day” and “year” be understood any differently in Genesis 1-11?  In the genealogies we read “all the days of Seth were 912 years” (Genesis 5:8).  All those days added up to 912 years.  All those days were normal days.  In the same way Genesis 2:4 states, “In the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens” (Genesis 2:4).  Looking back there was the first day, the second day, the third day, etc.  When summed the total was six normal days. 

One troubling thought comes with the idea that according to the day-age theory, late in day six, about 50,000 to 150,000 years ago, man was created.  Scripture gives us 2000 years of well-established biblical history from Abraham to Christ and the 2000 years from Christ to the present.  Even those 4000 years seem immense when one considers that the current signs of the times point to Christ’s return at any time.  Saying that 46,000 to 146,000 years of undescribed divine activity in the affairs of man is inconsistent with the biblical revelation of a God who acts deliberately and in a timely way.  Let us prefer what the Bible says with regard to those six days of creation than an interpretation based on today’s science.  That is the life of faith. 

Many ancient people such as the Greeks and religions such as Hinduism believed that matter was eternal and evil.  The 2nd law of thermodynamics states the universe is expanding indicating matter had a beginning.  Creationist and astrophysicist Hugh Ross founded Reasons to Believe which confirms the Scriptural account of creation through recent scientific findings.  To date he claims to have found 250 such reasons to believe the Bible.  Dr. Ross is a leading defender of the day-age theory so he subscribes to the age of the Creation if produced by God at the normal speed of 14.3 billion years.  We believe his 14.3 billion years are better explained by a God who is all-powerful and compressed all that work into six normal days. 

Dr. Ross believes that the entire universe is necessary just to support life on one planet, the earth.  We agree.  Of special note, he speaks of one scientific development that might well explain day two of Creation week.  He says that in 1999 astrophysicists discovered dark matter and estimates that it is the dominant component of the universe, currently comprising 70% of its mass.  It is embedded in the edge of the universe and is fine tuned to continue the universe’s expansion which must happen to sustain life on earth.  We believe dark matter best explains the waters above the heavens when God separated them from the earth on day two of Creation week.  We will know for sure in heaven, but creationists owe Dr. Ross their appreciation for his ministry of acknowledging creation as testifying to the existence of the God of the Bible. 

Extra Name in Shem’s Genealogy

The DSS expose an error commonly repeated by creationists who defend the MT.  It has to do with a second Cainan in Luke’s genealogy of Christ.  See Appendix 8.8.

Arguments from Meaning of Names and Symmetry

A very different approach used by some creationists to determine whether the LXX or MT of Shem’s line is the correct reading is to study the meaning of names.  These views are held by Christians with a rich tradition of intense study of God’s Word.  For their sakes Hidden Beauty provides thought for their consideration, but because this chapter is so long, see Appendix 8.7 for our discussion of the subject. 

When Were the Birthing Years Changed?
History of the Masoretic Text

We began the chapter with the puzzling problem of two major Old Testament texts.  One is the official Textus Receptus of Judaism, the Hebrew Masorah (Masoretic Text).  The other is the Greek translation of a different Hebrew textual family.  How do two different textual traditions square with inerrancy?  Inerrancy only applies to the original autographs.   About 98% of the original OT autographs were written in Hebrew.  Because of this, the Hebrew text is the official text. 

After divine revelation and enablement to record comes preservation and transmission.  God used Israel to preserve the MT as is seen in the oldest existing MT, the Aleppo Codex of c. 930 AD.   Looking at the details, with the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD devout Jews sought to protect the copies of the MT they possessed.  Faithful copying continued for the next 400 years.  Then around 500 AD several families of priests began composing rules for copying.  Over the next 400 years these rules would become the standard for copying the Hebrew Old Testament.  These scribes became known as Masoretes, so eventually the text they preserved became known as the Masoretic Text.  It was the same Hebrew text copied at Qumran a millennium earlier. 

Some charge that the Masoretes and those before them changed the text in a number of ways.  They point to the change from the Phoenician script to the Chaldean block alphabet.  This was a necessary change because if alphabets change, for Scripture to be understood, the letters in it must also be changed.  A second misleading charge is that the keepers of the official text added vowels.  This also is true.  In fact, they added even more.  Originally, the text only contained consonants and the letters of each line stood side by side without breaks.  At some point scribes added spaces between words, marks that indicated vowels, marks to show pronunciation and cantillation, and even marks to indicate paragraphs.  Later, someone added chapters and verses.  Who would want to go back to letters without vowels or breaks from margin to margin?

But the critics point out that consonants without vowels can become different words depending on which vowels are used, where they are used and how many are used.  For an example in English, the three consonants “slt” can mean entirely different things depending on which vowels are used: salt/silt/slat/slit/slot/slut/slate/salute.  But the alternative is that every reader must sort this out for himself, in effect requiring him to become an expert in the Hebrew text.  On the basis of tradition and much learning the scribes were in a far better position to determine the correct word than the average reader.  So vowel pointing actually helped to clarify the text for those seeking its guidance.

Then the critics point to the explanations the Masoretes put in the outside margin and below the text.  These did not change the text at all.  The Masorah parva are statistical notes in the outside margin of each page.  This was all a part of counting all the words in a book or all the letters on a page, etc.  That certainly didn’t change the text.  The Masorah magna are notes below the text on each page that in effect expand on the Masorah parva.  It cites entire verses found elsewhere that contain a certain word.  All of these devices made the unchanged text easier to read. 

Finally, the Critical Apparatus is the section below the Masorah magna that contains questions and uncertainties about the text.  It is a reminder that some question the text at that point and maybe someday the problem will be resolved.  Clearly, the Critical Apparatus does not change the text.  In conclusion, while the charge that Hebrew scribes changed the text through the centuries has taken in a lot of gullible readers, just the opposite is true.  The notes in the outside margin and at the bottom of each page along with the many marks within the text and later chapter/verse divisions have helped to improve the readability and clarity of the text through the centuries. 

Transmission of Scripture

Along with the preservation of Scripture comes its transmission.  While inspiration is completely divine and thus without error, the preservation and transmission of Scripture involve mankind.  While God will never let preservation deteriorate so the message is lost, history testifies that those who had high respect for God diligently copied and translated the Scripture.  God always had such servants.  As a result, today’s Bible is entirely adequate to instruct the follower of God in His will. 

Since few speak biblical Hebrew today, God’s servants have translated the Bible into thousands of modern languages.  It was no different in the days of Jesus and the New Testament writers.  Even back then few spoke biblical Hebrew.  Even then they needed a translation of the original text.  But now the Old Testament is available in its original language.  Possibly a thousand scholars worldwide can work with the myriads of documents to determine the most exact reading.  The MT like every other textual family of the Bible has accumulated scribal errors and even deliberate changes through the years.  But most importantly, it is to be preferred because it is in the original language of the OT. 

Development of the Old Testament Canon

Following revelation and inspiration at some point the revelation is also recognized as authoritative and thus binding on all mankind.  That is canonization.  Canonization happened immediately in the case of the books of Moses.  At the point where Moses completed the Pentateuch, the OT consisted of five books.  God placed them in the care of the priesthood of Israel.  It became responsible for preserving, teaching and transmitting the books of Moses.  In time a special class of priest called scribes would be trained to make copies of God’s revelation.

The second clear step in the canonization of the OT came with the work of Samuel.  Samuel, though a member of the tribe of Levi, was not a descendant of Aaron and thus not qualified to be a priest.  In admirable integrity he somehow prevented being called a priest in Scripture and most likely in life.  But because Eli’s sons were wicked and Eli was elderly, God used Samuel to serve as a faithful priest during that ugly period when Eli’s sons along with their father were the official priests. 

Beyond that, God began the line of prophets with Samuel.  Further, as the last judge he provided the binding force of government in Israel.  He was a type of Christ, combining the three functions of leadership in a society under God—prophet, priest and king (the judges were the forerunner of kings).  Samuel trained Eli’s sons’ sons to be faithful priests so that the next three generations of Eli’s descendants faithfully served the office of priest until the priesthood was transferred back to the line of Aaron through Eleazar in the days of Zadok. 

I Chronicles 9:22 credits Samuel along with David for organizing and standardizing the service of the priesthood in the Tabernacle.  Samuel also scrupulously honored the canon of the Law and wrote and/or certified the books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth and most of First Samuel that tells about his ministry and David’s years before the death of Saul.  Samuel faithfully declared God’s word in his lifetime so the portions of Scripture that he produced were likewise canonical when he produced them.

The third period of canonization came in the days of David and Solomon.  They were neither priests nor prophets but they expressed worship and divine wisdom.  Their books would begin a third section of Scripture, the writings.  God showed His unique pleasure with David by giving him victories over the enemies of Israel and giving him the promise of a house that would last forever.  God likewise placed His approval on Solomon by granting him the wisdom he asked for and expanding his kingdom.  Later, God authenticated the books of the prophets with fulfilled prophecy.  In this way the fourth period of canonization was accomplished.  Finally, the work of Ezra the priest testifies to much work with Scripture.  He would have completed the Old Testament Scripture except for brief portions added after his time. 

Jesus refers to Scripture several hundred times with various statements such as “It is written” or “Moses said.”  On the day of his resurrection “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).  On a later post-resurrection appearance he said, “Everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44).  These are the three sections of the Old Testament.  The next verse says “He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45).  God the Son called these writings Scripture.  Thirty years later the Apostle Paul would write “All Scripture is God-breathed.”  II Timothy 3:16. 

The DSS make no distinction between these books called Scripture and the many other religious books in the collection.  From this DSS scholars conclude that the OT canon was not yet established in Israel at that time.  It is true that no body of believers had yet certified a list of divinely inspired books.  But while unbelievers may have been uncertain about which books belonged to that category, the words of Jesus in the Gospels and the writings of the Apostles in the rest of the New Testament show that the godly knew which books were Scripture.  Therefore, canonization by a large body of Christians must not be confused with the recognition of authoritative books by believers. 

The voice of the splinter group at Qumran that disappeared from 70 AD until the discovery of the DSS cannot begin to compare with the voice of the New Testament church which became a major movement within the entire Roman Empire and constantly spoke of “Scripture.”  The community at Qumran was entirely comfortable with writing books of religious fiction and storing them beside the books of the OT.  These were the kind of anti-OT material NT writers warned about.  Undoubtedly Paul had such Qumranian favorites as the Book of Jubilees and the Book of Enoch in mind when he instructed Timothy to “charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths…”  I Timothy 1:3-4. 

The Apostle warned “Certain persons…have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law [but] without understanding…what they are saying.”  I Timothy 1:6-7.  This warning would have included the Qumranians’ extensive teaching of the law in their sectarian books such as the Community Rule.  Of the Qumranian type of asceticism he wrote “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons… who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving.…”  I Timothy 4:1-3.

Further, only individual OT books were found at Qumran, not groups of books bound together to indicate they were equally authoritative.  To dismiss the DSS because they were the product of heretics is to miss their value.  But to overstate their existence with such statements as “they prove there was no OT canon during the Second Temple [Herod’s Temple] Period” is equally harmful.  What they do show is that various versions of the OT existed between 100 BC and 70 AD, that scribes faithfully copied them through the centuries to follow and that by far the preferred OT text at Qumran was a single Hebrew textual family, the one that developed into the Masoretic Text. 

Answer to “When Were the Birthing Years Changed?”

As reported earlier, Emanuel Tov concluded that the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Hebrew forerunner of the LXX were originally one document.  Since the Samaritan Pentateuch was composed after Solomon when Israel separated from Judah, the years could have been changed any time after that.  Solomon’s kingdom gained a much greater understanding of the history of Israel’s neighbors, so seeds for changing those numbers could have formed that early. 

But why would the Jerusalem Elders select a text for translation into Greek that was only 1/7th as popular as the preferred Torah text at Qumran?  That question can be answered by another question: “Wouldn’t they select the version they felt would best be received in the Greek world?”  They would have had broad knowledge of Greek thinking.  They knew the Greeks believed in more years of civilization than the majority Hebrew text seemed to report.  It apparently was a small thing to them to carry to Alexandria the Hebrew text that recognized the most years since they knew the Greeks believed the Great Pyramid of Giza was built 300 years before the Flood date found in the majority Hebrew text. 

How tragic that the 70 had become so insensitive to their own sacred writings that they could not recognize the very nature of Hebrew genealogies, that they were about identification of descendants with ancestors and ancestors with descendants rather than records of precise succession. 

Weighing the LXX Textual Quality

As textual scholars study the two texts, they find occasional scribal errors in the MT that can be corrected from the LXX text.  See Appendix 8.7 for four such instances.   Appendix 8.7 also explains how changes in the LXX directed the location of Abraham’s homeland to Urfa in Northwest Mesopotamia instead of Ur 700 miles to the Southeast. 

Our next three chapters become a unit on the Book of Job.  They describe a world awash in history eight or nine generations before Peleg but many generations after Eber.  They add further evidence of a global flood nearly two millennia before Ussher’s too late Flood date (2348 BC). 


[1] Pete Williams, “Some Remarks Preliminary to a Biblical Chronology,” Journal of Creation, 12(1) April 1998: 98-106.

[2] Emanuel Tov, “The Biblical DSS as Representing Variety in Judaism and Early Christianity,” posted 3/2020; (Search on the Title). 

[3] Tov, ibid.

[4] Emanuel Tov, “The Genealogical Lists in Genesis 5 and 11 in Three Different Versions,” 37-52.  (Search on the title to find this pdf file.) 

bottom of page