Friday, May 1, 2009

Exodus Plagues Part 2: Killing a Dead Horse

In the Exodus Plagues Part 1, we saw God unleash four plagues against the Egyptians. The Egyptian magicians were able to duplicate the first two plagues, but realized that the plagues were coming from God when they couldn't duplicate the third plague. The reason for this judgement against the Egyptians was because the Pharaoh would not the Israelites go worship in the desert for three days. However, even if Pharaoh had wanted to let the Israelites go, God was going to control the Pharaoh's freewill and make him refuse the request, presumably to justify the continued punishment of the Egyptians. It's not until the fourth plague that God decides to spare the Israelites from the effects of the plagues.

Join me now as we continue studying God's miraculous signs of judgement against the Egyptians and we answer the question: How many times can you kill a horse?

Exodus Plagues Part 2: Killing a Dead Horse
Part 2 of our study picks up right where Part 1 left off, covering Exodus 9. The Pharaoh will not let the Israelites go to worship God in the desert for three days, so God is continuing to bestow plagues upon Egypt.

The Fifth Plague - The Plague on Livestock (Exodus 9:1-7): God tells Moses to tell the Pharaoh that if he will not let the Israelites go to worship, God will kill all of the livestock in Egypt except for those livestock belonging to the Israelites. Livestock included were horses, donkeys, camels, cattle, sheep, and goats.

(At this point in time, one must wonder just how much livestock the Egyptians own because, as we learned in Genesis 46:34, shepherds are detestable to Egyptians.)

Implicitly, the Pharaoh refuses, and so God kills all of the non-Israelite livestock in Egypt. The Pharaoh investigates the still-living Israelite livestock, but still doesn't yield to the worship request.

The Sixth Plague - The Plague of Boils (Exodus 9:8-12): In like manner to third plague, the gnat/lice plague, God inflicts the plague of boils without a pretense of another request to worship. God does so by having Moses toss soot into the air in front of Pharaoh. At that moment, festering boils broke out on the Egyptians and on animals. Presumably the Israelites were not affected, but it doesn't state this.

I find it particularly interesting that animals were afflicted with this plague. In the previous plague, all of the livestock, or in other words, all of the economically useful animals which the Egyptians owned were killed. So the only animals afflicted by this plague would be wild animals and pets. These animals were completely innocent and by no means enabled the Egyptians to oppress the Israelites, and yet God chooses to torture them with painful boils. Is that justice? Is that love? Don't get me wrong. I'm not a big animal rights guy, but making innocent animals suffer pointlessly just seems wrong to me.

One more interesting point in this plague story: In verse 12 we see the first explicit declaration that God hardened Pharaohs heart. Up until now, defenders of the faith could have put together a case that it was really just Pharaoh that would not let the Israelites go, and that God was innocent of the matter and justified in His punishment of the Pharaoh. But now, God has explicitly overridden the Pharaoh's freewill. The blood is on God's hands.

Furthermore, a phrase is used saying that this happened the way God had told Moses it would happen. This similar phrase was used in many of the previous plagues when the Pharaoh's heart hardened, implicitly stating that God was involved in controlling the Pharaoh then as well.

The Seventh Plague – The Plague of Hail (Exodus 9:13-35): God gives a message to Moses for the Pharaoh. Essentially, the message is that if the Pharaoh will not let the Israelites go worship, God will send the full force of His plagues against the Egyptians; that God could have completely eliminated the Egyptians, but God chose to put the Pharaoh in this position so that God could show His power and make a name for Himself in all of the world; and that because the Pharaoh will not let the Israelites go, God will send the worst hailstorm in Egyptian history, with fury such that it will kill everything outside of shelter.

This is an odd proclamation because, yet again, God is saying that the reason why the Egyptians will be punished is because the Pharaoh will not let the Israelites go worship. In God's own words, God is not providing vengeance for the mistreatment of the Israelites as Egyptian slaves. Instead, God's punishment is only due to the refusal of the worship request. But as we (and Moses, Aaron, and possibly the Israelite elders) know, God is altering the Pharaoh's freewill to make him refuse the request. So ultimately, God is simply torturing the Egyptians because He wants to torture them.

Progressing on, we see in Exodus 9:20-21 that some of the Pharaoh's officials heeded this warning and brought in their slaves and livestock from the field, while others didn't. This prompts the question: does that mean that some of the Pharaoh's officials moved their already-dead livestock under shelter? (As we learned earlier, all of the Egyptian livestock were killed in the fifth plague.) The answer is no. Somehow the horses, donkeys, camels, cattle, sheep, and goats must have been resurrected, because we find in Exodus 9:25 that any of these animals which were still out in the field were killed by the hailstorm. Unbelievable. Apparently, you can kill a horse more than once.

The Pharaoh claims that he had sinned, and then got Moses to pray to stop the hailstorm plague. Then the Pharaoh “sinned again” (Exodus 9:34) and refused to let the Israelites go worship. Just to be clear, in Exodus 10:1 God takes credit for making the Pharaoh refuse the request again. This makes for an interesting conundrum, because to sin is defined as going against the will of God, and yet God's will was making the Pharaoh refuse the request. So how is that exactly sin?

That's it for Part 2 of this four part series on the Exodus plagues. We've seen how God tortured innocent animals and seems to have lost track of His killings, which results in God killing Egyptian livestock twice. (Just for good measure, God will kill the firstborn livestock a third time in Part 4.) In Part 3 of the study, we will find out how God chooses to represent Himself.


  1. The Egyptians had animal resurrection?! Amazing! Of course the Israelites wouldn't come outright say it in their text because it kinda beats their god to that one. But, since its in the Bible, it must be true!

    Egyptian animal resurrection! Back up your pets and let's get to Egypt!

  2. Yes, indeed! Maybe Old Yeller will get a second chance! :-)

  3. Basicly,Moses was a sorcerer.a studied sorcerer[and Moses was taught by the best in the world]can conjure spiritual beings to assist them in their quest. Sorcerers who use their abilities to cause "harm" are called "black magicians".

  4. In that case, maybe Moses was a necromancer, and it was Moses that brought the livestock back to life to be killed again? ;-)

  5. Actually i was talking about all the plagues being the work of a "black magician" aka Moses,not the animal ressurecction part.Baalam son of Beor one of the most renowned black magicians in history, was one of pharoahs magicians [as was Reuel/Jethro]during Moses youth.During this era Egypt was unsurpassed in sorcery.Moses and Baalam were both descendents of Shem.The Hebrews called their god Ha shem. Maybe Moses conjured Shems spirit to assist him with the plagues.A side note,Moses staff was antedeluvian,brought through the flood by Noah.Moses got the staff from Reuel/Jethro in Midian after he fled Egypt upon "murdering" an Egyptian.Pre-flood magick was supposedly very refined.

  6. That's some interesting information. I hadn't heard that before. Is this in the Talmud, or some Jewish midrash? Unfortunately, Wikipedia doesn't have these details handy. :-)

  7. The thing I find absolutely ridiculous is in Exodus 7, verse 24 where it states, "And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile to get drinking water, because they could not drink the water of the river."

    All the Egyptians? Newborn babies and the deathly sick digging for water? Give me a break. And what about the Pharoah? Wouldn't he just force servants to do it? Silly, silly Bible...

    Oh, wait, maybe by "all" the author didn't mean every single Egyptian. Maybe "all" is meant to picture a great many or most.

    I find it ironic that the author used resurrection as the only possible way to account for the details of the plagues. If he were a true skeptic, he would have thought of other natural ways to resolve the issue.

    Besides the usage of the word "all", here are questions he could have asked himself:

    What was the timeline of the plagues? Could the Egyptians have replenished their livestock from non-Egyptian sources between the plagues? Could they have taken some of the Isralites livestock after the fifth plague?

    These are all legitimate questions that should be explored. If the author feels that resurrection is the only plausible explanation for the plague accounts being true, I know of another resurrection story I can surely convince him of.

  8. Thanks for the comment Rod.

    You are right that "all" could mean "most" or "a great many". We certainly use such patterns of speech today. This would just point to the fact that even though the Bible says one thing, it may mean another. This concept is particularly dangerous to verses which are not metaphors, similes, or poetry, where one would normally look for alternate meanings, because it leads to an incredible amount of equally valid interpretations on a much wider spectrum of the text.

    Words have meanings. They should be used with care.

    Going with your suggestion though, most of the livestock were killed in the fifth plague. Any livestock left out during the seventh plague died. All of the first-born livestock died in the tenth plague. So how is it that the Pharaoh was able to pursue the Israelites with "six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt"? Exodus 14:7

    The bit about the horse resurrection was just a bit of playful satire, but maybe you missed that.

    As for the time line of the plagues, I did consider that. There is nothing in the text which would suggest long spans of time between plagues. The narrative often reads as though one plague is following on another's heels. But certainly, when you consider the way that God spoke of now being the time to redeem His people, to suggest that months or years went between the plagues seems a little ludicrous.

    The only definitive timespan between plagues was seven days between the first and second plague (Exodus 7:25). We know it was not very long between the seventh and eighth because it says what wasn't destroyed by hail would be eaten by locusts (Exodus 10:5). We also know that between the ninth and tenth plagues there was little time because Exodus 10:29 has Moses say he will not appear before the Pharaoh again, only to be speaking to him of the next plague in Exodus 11, so that had to be during the same visit. "All" evidence in the text suggests that these plagues happened in relatively rapid procession.

    It certainly is possible that the Egyptians took or bought replacement livestock. However, this doesn't seem likely since, according to Genesis 46:34, the Egyptians found "all" shepherds detestable. That doesn't paint a picture of a people which would rush out to replace their livestock, now does it?

    Besides, in the aftermath of the plagues up to that point, they likely had bigger problems to worry about, such as disposing of all of the dead carcasses.

    Rod, perhaps you didn't think of these considerations. I welcome a response when you have puzzled through them. And you are welcome to comment on any of my other posts.

  9. I have to provide one more counter to Rod's comment:

    With respect to the use of "all" in Exodus 7:24, I believe it would be accurate (if the story was credible to begin with!); not in the exaggerated sense that Rod seems to believe I have which would put babies and the deathly sick digging for water, but rather in the sense that digging for water would have been the only source of potable water. Therefore, in that respect, all of the Egyptians would have been getting their water by digging along the Nile.

    So the difference in the use of "all" in Exodus 7:24 and "all" Exodus 9:7 comes down to accuracy. "All" is accurate for Exodus 7:24. However, if only a portion of the livestock were killed, then "all" would not be accurate in Exodus 9:7. If instead "many" were killed, there was a Hebrew word for that which would have been used instead.

  10. It is good to question that which on the surface doesn't seem to add up. But I encourage you all to dig deeper and ask the God who did these things to reveal the truth about your questions. Be open to the possibility that there could be an explanation. For example like this person did:

  11. Hello Anonymous, and thanks for the comment.

    I can appreciate what you are saying. There was another commenter before you by the moniker of Rod Flanders who (mockingly, not respectfully like yourself) suggested the same thing, and I replied with reasonable arguments up above. However, I will be the first to tell you that they are not bullet proof.

    The most amazing thing to me is not how many times the horses were killed. You could easily forget all about that or say that I am wrong. The amazing thing to me here is that God hardened Pharaoh's heart. That is the most significant part of this post, and I think the most valuable thing for you to consider.

  12. Here's something to chew on: Would a tyranical Pharaoh sit idly by and watch his slaves herds after losing all of his own?

    In regard to God hardening Pharaoh's heart, let me tell you about a time my parents hardened my heart. As a youngster I cut my baby brothers hair. My parents knew I did it. When they asked, I lied. Knowing that a lie was really bad in my household, I didn't want them to know. Each time they asked, giving my an opportunity to soften and confess, I lied again. They knew each lie was making my heart harder and harder, so why didn't they just stop asking! They were in control of the situation.

    I always remember the misery I caused for myself that day. I wonder if Pharaoh ever laid awake at night and pondered the misery caused by his own stubborness, and also caused by God, in His lovingkindness, giving him opportunity after opportunity to soften his heart.

    1. Hello Jody H, and thanks for the comment.

      That is a great example about cutting your brother's hair. It sounds like you were blessed with some wonderful parents! However, I do have a little bit of trouble assigning the blame on your parents for hardening your heart in that case. I think even the language you use reveals this, that they were "giving m[e] an opportunity to soften" reveals that it comes down to your choice, right? (I hate to be presumptuous about what you yourself felt, but that is the way it appears to me.)

      For certain, there were times in this story where Pharaoh defiantly hardened his own heart, as you appeared to do in your example, but you have got to go back to the whole text to get the narrative.

      In Exodus 4:21-23, God explicitly says that He will harden Pharaoh's heart. In your example, if your parents were doing bad things, like breaking dolls, throwing out your clothes, burning your bed, etc. each time you supplied an answer, it would be more in line with the plagues of the Exodus. After a while of that type of treatment, you would surely give in, regardless of the truth. In fact, that is what we find Pharaoh do explicitly, such as in eighth plague in Exodus 10:1-20. Pharaoh gave up, but it was God who change Pharaoh's heart. In those verses, God even tells us why He is doing it; just to make a memorable story.

      To me, that is the kind of thing which must be worked out in your heart when you examine the Exodus. Does that fit in with the kind of God you have been taught about, or the kind of God you would want to worship? Stories like this made it difficult for me to continue on, but perhaps your experience will be different.

    2. The biggest problem with our ability to comprehend is our linear thinking regarding time. I cannot wrap my tiny mind around God's ability to see future and past with exactly the same clarity, but I believe it is true. God knew Pharaoh's heart (past, present, future) and used the hardness of it to show His own power in, not only freeing His people, but in prospering them for their journey. (By the way, many Egyptians did not share Pharaoh's disdain for God.)

      Anyone who has hardened their heart toward God, has declared himself to be God's enemy. God can see if, at any future moment, that person will have a desire to know Him as Lord and Savior. I like to think about the God who loves and is "nice" to everybody, but the fact is He is also a warrior who fights against those who fight against His people. The history of this will continue to play out in the future until the Revelation is fulfilled. (But that is a whole other blog, isn't it.)

      Does it make sense for the pot to say to the potter "What on earth do you think you are doing?"

      I walk by faith. My life has struggles and trials, just like everybody, but I have peace and joy. I wish the same for you.

    3. "(By the way, many Egyptians did not share Pharaoh's disdain for God.)"

      Yes, that is a good point, and I am aware of it. It was not just Pharaoh who God was causing to suffer, but many, many people. In fact, in the last plague, you see in Exodus 11:5-6 how even fellow slaves, who were not Israelites, suffered at the command of God. Interesting stuff.

      "Does it make sense for the pot to say to the potter "What on earth do you think you are doing?""

      It is interesting that you reference that verse. I recently wrote a post regarding it, called "By Invitation Only." You can find it here if you are interested:

      "I wish the same for you."

      Thanks Jody, same to you, and thanks for stopping by!

    4. TWF:

      On the topic of the hardening of Pharaoh's heart, here's a quote from St. Irenaeus' Against Heresies, a second-century church father. The early Christians were (as-far-as-I-know) universally for free will until the time of Augustine.

      "Refutation of the arguments of the Marcionites, who attempted to show that God was the author of sin, because He blinded Pharaoh and his servants.
      1. But, say they, God hardened the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants. Exodus 9:35 Those, then, who allege such difficulties, do not read in the Gospel that passage where the Lord replied to the disciples, when they asked Him, Why do You speak unto them in parables?— Because it is given unto you to know the mystery of the kingdom of heaven; but to them I speak in parables, that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not hear, understanding they may not understand; in order that the prophecy of Isaiah regarding them may be fulfilled, saying, Make the heart of this people gross and make their ears dull, and blind their eyes. But blessed are your eyes, which see the things that you see; and your ears, which hear what you hear. Matthew 13:11-16; Isaiah 6:10 For one and the same God [that blesses others] inflicts blindness upon those who do not believe, but who set Him at naught; just as the sun, which is a creature of His, [acts with regard] to those who, by reason of any weakness of the eyes cannot behold his light; but to those who believe in Him and follow Him, He grants a fuller and greater illumination of mind. In accordance with this word, therefore, does the apostle say, in the Second [Epistle] to the Corinthians: In whom the this world has blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ should shine [unto them]. 2 Corinthians 4:4 And again, in that to the Romans: And as they did not think fit to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up to a reprobate mind, to do those things that are not convenient. Romans 1:28 Speaking of antichrist, too, he says clearly in the Second to the Thessalonians: And for this cause God shall send them the working of error, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but consented to iniquity. 2 Thessalonians 2:11
      2. If, therefore, in the present time also, God, knowing the number of those who will not believe, since He foreknows all things, has given them over to unbelief, and turned away His face from men of this stamp, leaving them in the darkness which they have themselves chosen for themselves, what is there wonderful if He did also at that time give over to their unbelief, Pharaoh, who never would have believed, along with those who were with him? As the Word spoke to Moses from the bush: And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, unless by a mighty hand. Exodus 3:19 And for the reason that the Lord spoke in parables, and brought blindness upon Israel, that seeing they might not see, since He knew the [spirit of] unbelief in them, for the same reason did He harden Pharaoh's heart; in order that, while seeing that it was the finger of God which led forth the people, he might not believe, but be precipitated into a sea of unbelief, resting in the notion that the exit of these [Israelites] was accomplished by magical power, and that it was not by the operation of God that the Red Sea afforded a passage to the people, but that this occurred by merely natural causes (sed naturaliter sic se habere)."

    5. TWF:

      Perhaps another, this from Origen:

      "11. And as if the sun, uttering a voice, were to say, "I liquefy and dry up," liquefaction and drying up being opposite things, he would not speak falsely as regards the point in question;(107) wax being melted and mud being dried by the same heat; so the same operation, which was performed through the instrumentality of Moses, proved the hardness of Pharaoh on the one hand, the result of his wickedness, and the yielding of the mixed Egyptian multitude who took their departure with the Hebrews. And the brief statement(108) that the heart of Pharaoh was softened, as it were, when he said, "But ye shall not go far: ye will go a three days' journey, and leave your wives,"(109) and anything else which he said, yielding little by little before the signs, proves that the wonders made some impression even upon him, but did not accomplish all (that they might). Yet even this would not have happened, if that which is supposed by the many-the hardening of Pharaoh's heart-had been produced by God Himself. And it is not absurd to soften down such expressions agreeably to common usage:(110) for good masters often say to their slaves, when spoiled by their kindness and forbearance, "I have made you bad, and I am to blame for offences of such enormity." For we must attend to the character and force of the phrase, and not argue sophistically," disregarding the meaning of the expression. Paul accordingly, having examined these points clearly, says to the sinner: "Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? but, after thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God."(111) Now, let what the apostle says to the sinner be addressed to Pharaoh, and then the announcements made to him will be understood to have been made with peculiar fitness, as to one who, according to his hardness and unrepentant heart, was treasuring up to himself wrath; seeing that his hardness would not have been proved nor made manifest unless miracles had been performed, and miracles, too, of such magnitude and importance."

      I think some of the idea may match the statement of one who says they anger another by their presence. That is, something comparable to a man saying one he hates and then becoming angry. Or, perhaps, a closer idea might be found in the phrase "I will upset them by [doing such-and-such]". For example, a man, knowing a neighbor of his, may be aware that one of his neighbors hates might state that he would upset his neighbor if he visits him. Or to get a closer phrase, if asked by a friend why he will or will not do something for his neighbor will say, "I'll upset him."

      May all be well with you,
      Felix Zamora

    6. Hi Felix,

      I think Origen missed the mark, given the explicit mention of the action that God hardened Pharoah's heart. Origen is just trying to give God an out which the text doesn't actually permit, and, in the process, calls the text false. For what we see is that Pharaoh repents (at least a little), and then God hardens his heart. That repentance was undoubtedly driven by fear from the curses. One generally does not suddenly change heart over their fears.

      St. Irenaeus may have been closer to the mark, but what of it? So Pharaoh, and his servants, were "lost" causes... So what? What then did God gain by forcing Pharaoh's heart to become hard again sooner rather than later? The text makes it clear: It is explicitly to put on a show for the Israelites. (Exodus 10:1-2). The issue is that the entire Egyptian population suffered for this heart-hardening, including fellow slaves to the Egyptians (Exodus 11:5-6).

      I don't know about you, but that sets off my immorality alarm. God could have gotten Pharaoh to submit, but instead forced him to be obstinate, and caused grief to an entire nation.

      Best wishes to you and yours.

  13. I I think "all" is qualified by Ex. 9:3, "livestock that are in the field" (ESV)

    1. I think "livestock that are in the field" is actually a clarification of what kind of livestock would be affected. For example, birds were common livestock of that era as well, but would not be considered livestock in the field. The phrase is referring to grazing animals, which is confirmed by the subsequent "on your horses and donkeys and camels and on your cattle and sheep and goats." NIV

      In the aftermath, in Exodus 9:6, there is no distinction claimed about the animals in the field.

      Going with your suggestion, though, certainly most of the livestock were killed in the fifth plague. Any livestock left out during the seventh plague also died. All of the first-born livestock died in the tenth plague. So how is it that the Pharaoh was able to pursue the Israelites with "six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt"? Exodus 14:7

    2. Any hermeneutic which settles immediately (or even eventually) on "the author/editor musta been a complete maroon," is insufficient. Perhaps the text demands more than smugness from the reader?

    3. Alas, I am not sure if you are the same Anonymous as one of the earlier two, or completely different, so forgive me here...

      I do not think that the author was a "complete maroon." I think that the author was human. Humans make mistakes. And, if you have ever done any proofreading of your own, you can appreciate just how difficult it is to catch your own errors. That is especially true in a case like this, where the purpose was not to accurately record every detail, but to communicate a particular message, because the author focuses on the message and not the details, at the expense of accuracy.

      In my opinion, any hermeneutic which does not take into account the humanity of the author is insufficient.

    4. FIRST POSTING: Timing seems to be the missing element regarding the repeated fate of livestock. I think the Egyptians needed cattle for things like food and sacrificial offerings to their gods, regardless of their attitude about the herdsmen. There could have been enough time to replenish their supplies. An added result would be the draining of their monetary reserves. Cattle ain't cheap, and having to replace your herds three times could take a hefty toll, even on the governmental treasuries.

      And if I were Pharaoh, I would keep my most valuable war machine underground or under a plague-proof pyramid, (not being sure about the architecture of then an there, of course).

      The larger picture (for those who question the brutality of God against the Egyptian innocents), would be on several levels. The Israelites and Egyptians dwelt in harmony until this Pharaoh got greedy or fearful. Egypt was rife with false god worship, including human sacrifice, all abominations against a holy, and the one, true God, YHWH. These religions included all the worldly pleasures we can see today, perverted sex, abuse of drugs, favor in business (not inherently wrong, except by false gods), and more unlawful sex (adultery, fornication). Sin is most egregious to a perfect and all-powerful Being.

      But we can see that everyone had many chances to comply with God's request or even defect to God's people. The plagues started off with the least destructive, and grew in their severity progressively.

      This shows mercy, and patience.

      We cannot know the mind of God at all, nor His written word, if we are not truly converted to Christianity. Only then can the Holy Spirit reveal the hidden truths bound therein.

      The only message clearly understood by the unsaved is that they have violated God's commandments and are worthy of perpetual torment in Hell (yes sin is that bad), but He made an escape route through total repentance and desperate dependence in His Son Jesus.

      Successful repentance is possible only through the new spirit given to converts. Until then, even a desire to repent is futile. But repentance (intent to turn from all sin with God's help) is necessary for salvation. (Mt 7:21-23)

      Thank you for your blog. May truth prevail.

  14. Hello Lee, and thanks for your comment. If you are going to judge truth, you should go by what God says, right?

    You mention that God gave them several chances to repent and that "This shows mercy, and patience." However, you have failed to take into account how God said that He would manipulate Pharaoh's free will. This is seen in Exodus 4:21-23, Exodus 7:1-5, Exodus 7:13, Exodus 9:12, and Exodus 14:4. Plus He manipulated the free will of all the Egyptians in Exodus 12:31-39. If God is forcing them to reject the Exodus request, how can you make a case that this is showing mercy and patience?

    Indeed, may truth prevail. God's truth is in the text, but it is not what you have been told. Read it, and consider all of the details, and then the truth will set you free.

  15. I too was confused about this, and this site was the first place i visited for other's input. Firstly,at least you are honest enough to read and consider and debate with thought. That's refreshing! But i tend to agree with what someone else wrote: we don't know the timeframe regarding the series of plagues. The NIV Bible uses "Then the Lord..." But "then" simply implies a chronological "after", which does not explicitly have to mean *straight away*. Perhaps days, weeks or even months passed between some of the plagues. As for Egyptians detesting shepherds, what does that have to do with owning livestock? Many of the english medieval upperclass detested peasant workers, yet they still housed a great multitude within their towns and estates. Note how the Bible states the egyptians detested shepherds, not livestock. Egypt had livestock in large numbers like any other region.

  16. Hello Anonymous. You seem to have read through some of the discussion comments, so, thanks for that! :-) I did answer your general objection of how long it took between the plagues in an earlier reply. You may have seen it already, so I'll just paste it below for convenience if you happened to miss it. But I would add to that now that God was on a time schedule. The Exodus had to occur 430 years after they had entered Egypt; Exodus 12:40-41, but because we do not know the date when the first plague occurred.

    Regarding your objection of the shepherds/owning livestock. First, you may already know that the term "shepherd" was applied in a generic sense in the Bible as someone who made their livelihood of taking care of primarily grazing animals, not someone who only watched sheep. Where the shepherd/livestock connection comes in is the logical affinity association. You said, accurately, that "Egypt had livestock in large numbers like any other region." This was in a similar fashion to today, where dealing with livestock was a specialized "craft," so to speak, and it was done by shepherds. Shepherds were the livestock business men in some cases, or just simple "ranch hands" in others.

    Imagine that you did not like beekeepers, but you do like honey, and God killed all of the hives through plagues. Is your first impulse to go help out the beekeepers by buying replacement hives for them, even though you despise the beekeepers? Probably not, and that unlikelihood is even greater if God repeats plagues on the beekeeper's hives, as He did here in Exodus with the livestock. Does that make more sense to you now? Or do you think that is too much of a stretch?

    { From Above }
    Most of the livestock were killed in the fifth plague. Any livestock left out during the seventh plague died. All of the first-born livestock died in the tenth plague. So how is it that the Pharaoh was able to pursue the Israelites with "six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt"? Exodus 14:7

    As for the time line of the plagues, I did consider that. There is nothing in the text which would suggest long spans of time between plagues. The narrative often reads as though one plague is following on another's heels. But certainly, when you consider the way that God spoke of now being the time to redeem His people, to suggest that months or years went between the plagues seems a little ludicrous.

    The only definitive timespan between plagues was seven days between the first and second plague (Exodus 7:25). We know it was not very long between the seventh and eighth because it says what wasn't destroyed by hail would be eaten by locusts (Exodus 10:5). We also know that between the ninth and tenth plagues there was little time because Exodus 10:29 has Moses say he will not appear before the Pharaoh again, only to be speaking to him of the next plague in Exodus 11, so that had to be during the same visit. "All" evidence in the text suggests that these plagues happened in relatively rapid procession.

  17. Hi. Yes iv read your take on what you consider to be evidence of the rapid procession of plague events. However, I still do not see this being explicitly stated anywhere, nor even sufficiently implied to the extent where the possibility of time lapsing between the events can be reasonably ruled out. One thing iv noticed on reading the Bible is that God's time is not necessarily our time; eg our "soon" doesnt seem to match God's "soon". You really do need to be careful of this when detetmining timeframes. Im not being biased here - i too look at these things critically when i read, but thats what iv noticed.
    The livestock issue: yes i understand what shepherd means re livestock. No its not just sheep, im aware of that. Now consider how important meat as a foodstuff is to any large, well established society. Grain does not feed a society alone. It makes perfect sense to me that a society that had its meatsource decimated would act fast to reestablish supply - not only is meat a critical gastric resource, but many agricultural tasks were carried out by livestock, eg bullock teams carting loads of grain, ploughing fields, etc.
    Your example of the beekeeper is irrelevant: we're not talking about a luxury commodity when we talk about the critical importance that livestock plays to the growth and sustenance of a society. Additionally, livestock formed a major part of a society's financial backbone as a trade commodity. If your country's livelihood has been decimated, im sure you would scramble to get your economy back to strength, especially if youve been the biggest and most powerful country prior to disaster. Remember that Pharaohs are typically proud and self-important, to the extent that some of them thought they were gods. Theres no way such a society would sit idle and not quickly reestablish the might of their capital.

  18. "Perpetual torment in hell" one commenter above made this statement.
    I see no evidence of this in the Bible. It says sinners will be cast into the lake of fire, and that the fire is unquenchable. It does not say they will live in perpetual torment. This is a stupid medieval notion of hell, largely carried into the present day by the catholic church. Its stupid, contorted notions like these that give Christianity a bad rap.

  19. You need to research just how important cattle and other livestock were to the egyptians, in order to understand the very real possibility that egypt scrambled to restock its supplies between plagues.

  20. Dear Anonymous. I am assuming that you are the same Anonymous who posted earlier and recently. (FYI, it would be good to add a name on the end, even if it is a fake one, just so people have a better sense that you are the same person from comment to comment.)

    Anyway, ah, yes, it would be good to do some research. Perhaps you can help me out. You see, I am having great difficulty identifying the Pharaoh of the Exodus. No records outside of the Bible correlate with the plagues to indicate which Pharaoh this might be. It should not be that difficult, right? You seem to be familiar with the scope of the plagues. I am sure how you can see how they would decimate the economy of that region, perhaps even poisoning it for some time given the salt content of blood and all of those decaying animals. Such plagues should have left a record, but I am having trouble finding it. Not to mention that the Pharaoh was killed in the sea, so that should be a pretty easy time marker to find. Once we figure that out, we can figure out just how important the livestock was at that particular time, and place for that matter, as there were several Pharaohs along the Nile depending on the era. :-)

    This probably is not the right post to discuss the doctrine of Hell, but I would argue that it is not only the doctrine of Hell which gives Christianity a "bad rap." But if you would like to discuss it, you should know that I have studied that as well. You will find a post on Mark's version of Hell and Luke's version of Hell within my archives. It is not so much the Catholic church you have to thank, but rather Luke and the Parable of the Beggar Lazarus which has played one of the largest roles in advancing the doctrine of torture, such as Luke 16:23-24:

    In Hades, where [the rich man] was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.' NIV

  21. BTW, its the same Anonymous in the above February 25 posts. I will call myself Adam from now on, because that is my name.
    I just read the overview of your blog, re your christian background and experiences.
    Firstly, im happy you are the type to think for yourself, even if that thought leads you to question your faith, even if that introspection unravels what you thought to be true. You are seeking truth, and unfortunately for the enquiring mind, it seems there is no easy path to it. To hold a light to accepted belief is important. It takes honesty to do so, and a genuine thirst for truth. I can identify with your experiences. I currently do not attend a church as I got to the point where i couldnt sit there a minute longer exposing myself to various twisted, contorted versions of christianity. I have attended energetic, lively, upbeat denominational services as well as the older stale variety. I saw/met/came to know some genuinely kind and driven people, but imo they were being misled with rubbish pomp and ceremony, or were mostly filled with what i call "factory christians" (the kind who are simply brought up in a christian family and claim to be christian but who have little real biblical knowledge or desire). Having live bands and modern churches doesnt mean squat when it comes to real christianity. People yelling out "praise Jesus" every 5 mins is like reality tv: all bling and no substance. The things iv seen in modern churches has ranged from the ridiculous to the down right biblibally-offensive, and i dont want a part of it. Perhaps im being too critical, but the version of christianity i see in the New Testament is NOT whats going on in alot of churches from my experience. The fact that there even exists various denominations is self-evident of the fact that people are manipulating christianity as represented in the bible. I cant attend any church where someone gets up the front and says something clearly at odds with what i can read for myself in the bible. When the majority of a congregation are also actively perpetuating false doctrine...well...what can be said? One example: How many churches today actively claim to speak in tongues? How many are REALLY speaking in tongues. Answer: about none. Why? Because these people have not understood, or purposely and knowingly, what it really means to speak in tongues as defined in the bible. Forget what your pastor says, or the guy next to you whose trying to fit in. Speaking in tongues as defined in the new testament was to speak in another language, a world language, for the purpose of spreading Jesus' message to foreign lands. It was not a foolish, ridiculous bunch of garbled rubbish. Paul outlines it in 1 Corinthians 14 onwards. I wish churches would stop trying to glorify themselves with their perverted misunderstanding. Its like attending a bad circus.

  22. Lol. Yes I have wondered about egyptian records referrimg to major events. As you say, youd think it would be well documented in egyptian writings. Hmmm...could there be a rational explanation why we dont hear of it? Some scholars have said that Imhotep was Joseph, and from what iv read it fits well with the biblical account. But still, where are the plagues and destruction of this particular Pharaoh recorded? Was he simply referred to as Pharaoh in Genesis because at that time he was the very first pharaoh? Was hieroglyphic practice established at that time? If not, that could be one explanation for the lack of records. I cant rule out the biblical account just because we cant easily find documentation.

  23. That was me, Adam again lol. Will remember to state that lol

  24. Adam again. I will do some research and see what i can find. I too am reading the Bible from the beginning. I had already started when i discovered your blog. Funnily enough, i had done a google search to understand how Pharaoh's cattle could be killed multiple times. I think i had read up to Isaiah last time around. But yes, I can identify with your frustration and questioning :-)

  25. I will say this: you're clearly a very intelligent guy. I myself am not sure exactly what to believe re the bible. I cant dismiss it as fiction though, there just seems to be too many original ideas and concepts in it. The way its worded. The fact that the Jews never edited out their many failings and weaknesses. The fact that its the only believable account of creation. The fact that it contains the proclamations of a God who wouldnt be naturally conceived of by humans (if you lived back in OT times, wouldnt you conclude that the sun was a god and worship that, or some other hugely impressive natural phenomena. Where did the Jews get this completely unique idea of God from?)
    Now, im aware that there must exist translation errors, which can result in diverse interpretations things (for example the KJV verses the NIV re Moses' apparent almost-assasination in Exodus 4:24). But even so, with all these different versions, the message I hear and understand is identical: That ONE God created the heavens and the earth, that we are sinners (we fail to do what that God says is right), that there must be judgement for our inevitable list of sins (whether purposefully transgressed or not), and that God so loves the world that he gave up his only son as a sacrificial payment of those sins, that we might be eternally reconciled to him.
    Now, im not as well read as you, nor do i posess your impressive mastery of the english language. But i consider myself to be intelligent and posess an enquiring mind too.
    Im not afraid to question what i read; indeed i am largely self taught. I just think that, ultimately, the overall message is whats really important. We will always find questionable material that doesnt seem to make sense in the bible, and we can drive ourselves nuts trying to reconcile it against what we may know or think we know. (And how many of these issues are caused by translation?) Just as reading within context is absolutely critical, so too is reconciliation of what we read with the overriding message of the bible.

  26. Hello Adam. (That is so much better than Anonymous.) Thanks for sharing a little bit of your story. I am glad to see you are seeking out the truth as well, and not superficially so, gauging by the Imhotep reference. :-)

    Some resources that may (sincerely) help you are linked on my blog. One is my own baby, a chapter-by-chapter summary of the Bible, which is posted up to Luke so far. I have tried to make it as unbiased as possible. Also, on the right hand side-bar, you will see reference links. Other than the Skeptics Annotated Bible, the rest are either non-biased or Christian biased. Several links are to select Christian radio shows which, in general, I have found to be closest to the actual Biblical sources.

    You are not the only one to have searched for this multiple plague livestock killing. In fact, this is one of my most popular posts from the Old Testament because of search engine hits.

    To be quite honest, this particular apparent contradiction is a very, very minor issue to me. Part of why I feel that way is, as you rightfully point out, the language is vague enough to provide significant wiggle room in the interpretation, especially in regard to timing. The other part of that feeling is that there are much greater contradictions and, more importantly, moral issues as well, which should cast doubt on the story contained in the Bible. But that is my experience. You can read all about it on this blog. Your mileage may vary.

    Regarding Pharaoh of the Exodus, check out the Wikipedia page on this mystery man. to get you started. The Bible provides a convenient timeline in it which should make determination of the Pharaoh easy, but that is not the case.

    I would also agree with your sentiment that "I cant rule out the biblical account just because we cant easily find documentation." However, I would suggest that when you cannot find corroborating evidence, you may want to flag at least that particular information as only tentatively believed, especially when the magnitude of the events which transpired should have left an indelible mark in time.

    By the way, thank you for realizing that "speaking in tongues" was not meant to be gibberish, but instead was meant to be actual language. I am not sure why so many people miss that.

    Thanks for stopping by, and best of luck in your search for the truth. If you ever want an opinion from the other side of the fence to bounce an interpretation off of, you know where to find me. I will try to give you the most accurate Biblical interpretation possible.

  27. Hi TWF, Adam here.
    My theory behind the seemingly modern movement (last 10-15 years) of gibber-tongue is that some discerning church members were beginning to ask why this phenomena wasnt occurring in modern times as it did in NT times. Perhaps they began questioning whether people were really being filled with the Holy Spirit. Or perhaps a few had a genuine experience and the rest felt they looked bad if they too werent a part of it (jealousy, guilt, the desire to fit in, etc). So people started bluffing their way, until it reached today's current level of ridiculousness.
    Either way, its one huge deterrent to me attending any upbeat church. If people cant be honesty with themselves concerning biblical matters, i dont trust their genuineness.
    I looked elsewhere for a church that seemed to genuinely care about following biblical teaching. Funnily enough, the two denominations I found were the Jehovas Witnesses, and the Seventh Day Adventists. Yet I cant bring myself to attend EITHER of these due to their OWN hangups and, in some cases, bizzarre interpretations. However, I do agree with much of David Asher's biblical teaching, but to place so much importance of Saturday over Sunday seems to be missing the point to me. So, that leaves me on my own lol. Im thankful for the internet. :-)
    Perhaps there will emerge a new generation of Christian. One who isnt afraid to debate, to learn for themselves, and above all, to follow what the bible itself says rather than the traditions of a particular denomination. I still believe that the real church exists outside of any particular building: its the worldwide group of believers who base their belief on whats really in the bible.
    Ill drop by occassionally for your take on things - its good to talk to someone intelligent who isnt afraid to question, and who is prepared to reconsider.

  28. Hello Adam. Please do stop by any time. And, if you feel like it, do not hesitate to discuss something that you think I have got wrong. I do my best to be Biblically and intellectually honest, but I have my faults and limitations like anyone else. I am sure I have made mistakes along the way. So I enjoy a challenge to anything I have written in the hopes that the truth will come from a thorough examination of the facts.

    I had not heard of David Asher. Is that the same Asher who wrote "The Way of Faith"?

    I do not have much experience with the Seventh Day Adventists, but I may have a similar respect and loathing for Jehovah's Witnesses as you do. They actually do study the Bible regularly, so most of them are Biblically literate, but, as you say, they have definitely got their own bizarre hangups and interpretations.

    I would welcome a new generation of "Christian," although I would argue that such a Christian should not believe or follow everything in the Bible. This might seem like an opposing viewpoint, but, based on some inferences I take from what you have said so far, I have a feeling that your "Christian" and mine might just be very similar people. That is not to suggest that you are mistreating the Bible, but rather to suggest that possibly the difficulties that I have observed in the Scriptures you have instead found interpretations which render them as non-issues. And if that works out for the greater good, I am all for it.

  29. David Asscherick (sorry, my mistake) is a very well-known SDA, at least in that denomination's culture. He speaks often on a radio programme that we get here in Australia, which is derived from 3ABN in America. I believe you can youtube some of his sermons. If you can find the one re his take on "hell", I think it will cause you to see things from another perspective. This guy just seems to have a great insight into things.
    Yes, perhaps our vision of true christianity is much alike :-)
    I am enjoying reading your various blog posts, though i detect an underlying level of cynacism, almost to the point where it seems you are disregarding possibility well before alternatives are thoroughly considered. As though you're saying, "this is dumb - prove me wrong".
    (Dont get me wrong, im definately not judging the past i got so frustrated and annoyed with the whole thing that at one time i actually set fire to my bible lol, among other things...)
    Anyone can read the story of Balaam and draw the obvious conclusion that things are terribly wrong with God. However, theres another, simpler possibility that turns this particular bizarre chapter on its head: Numbers 22:20 should not be there. If we read this event without 22:20, everything fits. So, could there be an interpretive mistake? It appears so to me. And logically, if one mistake is found, cant we also use our discerning minds (while being careful to ensure the validity of the overall message) to rectify other bits of the bible that cause these same frustrations and which seemingly contradict the big picture? Why throw the baby out with the bath water? Humans are prone to error. Heck, they erred *in the presence of God*. I would almost go so far to say that Paul's words in the NT should be taken and followed with far less seriousness than those of Jesus. Again Paul is a mere man, but Jesus was the source. People have this notion that just because these other writings appear within the same cannonized book, that they are automatically just as valid as the teachings of Jesus.
    Regards, Adam.

  30. "this is dumb - prove me wrong". LOL I am not sure which posts you have read, but I can see you getting a cynical impression, especially on the OT posts. But, hey, you have got to admit, it seems a little strange for Abraham to be worried about the attractiveness of Sarah when she was at least 89 years old, for example. ;-)

    Of course, in nearly all fields, even beyond religion, skeptics to what we "know" and believe often appear to be cynical just because of their contrary nature. But I am sure there are definitely notes of cynicism in my post from time to time, as I am somewhat to my moods, like anyone else. If you are just hunting around somewhat randomly here, may I refer you to the short list of my favorite OT posts?

    Otherwise, you may better appreciate the tone in my NT/Gospel posts. Among other things, I have spent a considerable amount of time looking at the Synoptic Problem, how the Gospels were constructed, and how the viewpoints of the different authors is made manifest.

    I am not sure if it comes across in the blog or not, but one of the things I have enjoyed about the Bible is its captured humanity. To me, it has been a great study in psychology. So if I come off as though I am mocking at times, know that it is meant, in a way, as more of a general mocking of our collective faults.

    I can definitely get behind the intent of the notion of slicing away problematic verses; dismissing them as mistranslations and typos. And Paul is certainly fallible and questionable, as are the other Epistle writers. I would love to create a new version of the Bible written with such a perspective, but there would always be questioning about whether or not the right changes had been made, and whether on not we are simply bending God's word to fit us, instead of us bending to fit God's word. It is a tricky problem to revive a religion which has so much "baggage."

    Thanks, I will check out Asscherick's take on Hell. It should be interesting, I am sure.

  31. FYI, I just started watching Asscherick's sermon on Hell and realized that I had seen him before. I have caught part of the earlier series. In the past, I disagreed with his interpretations of the OT prophesies to the point where I stopped watching the series. While he touted letting the Bible interpret itself, it seemed that he was ignoring some of the explicit definitions given by the Bible. But that is nothing against him personally. It is a fairly common practice, at least as I see it. ;-)

    Actually, overall Asscherick puts on a well designed presentation, and does a great job putting together the information in a format which is more easy to digest. I would definitely rank him as being one of the better guys out there. So I am looking forward to watching the rest of the sermon.

  32. Adam, I just finished watching the "Good News about Hell" sermon. Again, Asscherick does a great job putting together a cohesive presentation, but I think it fall short of being Biblically accurate. (Of course, I realize that it may be impossible to present a picture which accounts for each little detail in the Bible just by its very nature.)

    For all I know, maybe you have greater learned Biblical knowledge than I do, but if I could humbly suggest one thing to keep in mind, it would be this: context. It is the Achilles Heel of many a preacher and Bible scholar. You should not quote a verse without considering if the verse's context matches your use for that verse. This kind of thing drives me nuts, and Asscherick is not immune to such transgressions.

    Adam, you are obviously into studying the Bible, so I am sure you know what I am talking about here. Keep an eye on the context, especially with third-party messages like Asscherick, and I am sure you will do just fine. Anything that does not come straight from your own reading of the Bible, which definitely includes anything on my blog, should be verified against the text. But I am sure you know that. :-)

    BTW, up above, I realized that I botched a link, so here is the corrected link to Mark's Version of Hell. The bulk of the Hell discussion there starts about halfway through the post, under the heading "Gehenna to Hell in a Hand-basket." Check it out if your are bored. ;-)

    1. Hi TWF.
      In reality, my suggestion that the Bible be "rewritten" is not one that I would encourage, or want anything to do with personally. Fear of God and all that lol :-) As you say, it opens up possibilities for error, though isnt that exactly what occurs with each denominational translation? Just look at the new NIV compared to the 1984 version. I wont touch that new one. There exist major differences between the KJV and others also. However, if the editing was done in a sensible manner, and focussed soley on those standout examples of seeming contradiction or mistake, without changing any wording (just omitting of problematic text) wouldnt that be a positive thing for the bible? Maybe im treading a dangerous path here. Perhaps instead we need to better teach people *how* to read the bible, rather than change it outright. I have no huge issue with, say, the writings of Paul being removed (as example only, this isnt meant as an attack on Paul as i believe much of his writings are good.) Just parts like "anything is permissible" give rise to dangerous thought in weaker minds. To me, the core of what the bible is are the majority of the OT, and the words of Jesus (but obviously we need certain other NT books to remain in order to set the scene for Jesus' appearance.), maybe we should just leave the bible exactly as it is lol. Was the whole "not to add unto these things" in revelation in reference only to those prophecies, or should we apply it bible-wide? Hmmm...again, lol.
      As for your cynacism, I suppose in part its a perception due to reading post after post, topic after topic of dismissal. A culmulative effect. Lets just say, to me, your approach is weighted much more on the atheist side than the neutral resolution side. When i read the bible and get stuck on something (whether because i dont understand or find an idea, dare i say, repulsive to my natural ideals of fairness and justice), i try to keep in mind what the nature of this creator being might be. A being of such power and intelligence as to bring about the heavens and earth and the incredible complexities of life is intrinsically going to be a little difficult to fathom. Its like an ant pondering the nature of man. The ants finite intellect simply cant do it. We arent talking about a man trying to understand another man, or even another extremely highly intelligent man. We are talking lightyears of intellectual difference when we speak of God. We were made in his image, yes, but we werent made of the same magnitude or equality. Now, the way i see it, morality, the concepts of fairness and justice and love, are those things that all sentient beings above a particular base intellect *can* fathom on equal grounds of understanding. But we need to be careful that our reasoning behind what we consider fair takes in the bigger picture.

    2. (Part 2) Consider if you wrote a virtual life simulation program (i have a computer science background). Would you not have complete power and authority over that world and all its creatures? Would you not give and take life as you wished? If you had an overall plan or objective for that virtual world, what would be your attitude towards its inhabitants? If those inhabitants rebelled or did what you did not want them to, thus getting in the way of your greatly desired bigger plan, would you not remove them? What remorse or guilt or feelings of unfairness would you have? Keep in mind that life and sentience as experienced by those created entities would not be equal to your own level of awareness, much like a birds sentience is not that of a mans. Yet you know that the *are* sentient and have feelings, and that to them, thats all that matters. So you love and care for them, out of moral obligation but also out of a freewilled adoration towards them. But if they continually rebel and frustrate you, or develop hatred towards you, even to the point where they are beginning to corrupt the hearts and minds of those that do the right thing, wouldnt the logical solution at various times be to remove the bad eggs from that world? You are their creator and god afterall. You posess the source of knowledge. You posess the power and authority. You OWN them and evetything in their world. Their place of habiation is your footstool - the means of relaxation and enjoyment to you. Yet you can be persuaded to spare some, if one you particularly adore pleads for their life. Does this mean you arent omnipotent? No. It means you have the ability to show mercy, to give second chances. But if you willed to destroy them all, who could stop you? If you have the power to generate a set of new ones and start over again, keeping in mind you are the ultimate source of life and ownership, who could say you were wrong? The inhabitants may hot like it. You might hear their cries of terror. But ultimately your own creation is yours to do as you will. Thankfully for us, the bible creator, our rightful and lawful owner (he who creates, owns, right?), demonstrates that he is ultimately wanting life for us. Its not our (this or subsequent generations after adam and eve) fault that we are born into sin. It was adam and eve's wrongdoing. Why should we die and pay for their mistake? So God has provided a way out. One man brought sin into the world, so God set one man to ultimately pay for it. You know the story.

    3. Now, that simulation analogy can give rise to even more questions and thoughts. I use the word simulation for want of a better word to describe an understandable concept. I think the concept, overall, is pretty accurate to reality, as frightening as that may seem.
      The problem lies not so much in the idea, but in our inability to easily handle that idea.
      And the majority of that stems from another concept: we were never meant to think the way we do. In the beginning, we were without knowledge of good and evil. We just *were*. A dog doesnt question everything you tell it. Its perfectly happy (so long as its loved and looked after) without thinking about everything. I believe our original naievety was our correct state of being. To be an intellectual in this world is frustrating and exhausting, and sometimes depressing.
      -Adam (and the above posts)

  33. Hello again Adam. Thanks for the comments. It is great to see that you are a deep thinker as well. Incidently, if you would like to take this discussion into an easier format, my email address is

    Too funny about your mention of the NIV. The latest rev has really rubbed me the wrong way too in a few places.

    Regarding my cycnicism... did it really come out that I was of the atheist persuation? Darn, I was trying to hide that! ;-) But seriously, I am guessing that perhaps you read some of the "about me" posts, and thought that I should be a little more neutral based on what I had said there. Please allow me a brief explanation. When I had started blogging, I had read through somewhere around Kings or Chronicles, and I was having considerable doubts, but there was a large part of me holding out before committing to one camp or another. So my early posts reflected my doubts, and the early "about me" posts reflect my hopes. I am afraid my hopes were never fulfilled. They were pretty much dead after reading the Prophets, and buried by the Synoptic Problem. However, I am sympathetic to the faith, as I would hope this dialog has demonstrated, at least in some small way.

    Clearly, you and I read the Bible from a different perspective, which you may have read about on my other blog. I was looking for a self-evident truth to present itself through the text, looking for a reason to believe, because my Christianity had been essentially vacuous. From what you have said, you appear to be reading from the perspective of already having a faith, but wanting to come to a deeper knowledge of it. Surely you can see how each perspective might color our personal interpretations. I would say that my view would be more accurate, but then, I do have a personal bias. ;-)

    But, other than some familiarity, I do not have much of a denominational bias. So I will be happy to give you the honest wrap about what is in the Scripture versus what is a stretched truth. It sounds like you may have that pretty well covered yourself in your own studies, but the offer is still open.

    I have, indeed, thought along the same lines of God's perspective versus ours, and the "similuation" you refer to. I think it is important to do so to help broaden one's own view. Even human to human, I would have a difficult time understanding everything in your Computer Science world, at least without some very dedicated study, just as you would have some trouble with the engineering I deal with, at least initially. I would not expect to understand all of God's technical details. However, as you recognize, morality, concepts of fairness and justice and love, are not at the level of transmuting energy into matter and setting the spin on quarks. In fact, experiements with monkeys in recent years suggests that even they understand the concept of fairness to some degree. Your thoughts reminded me of a great quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet:

    "Sure, He that made us with such large discourse, looking before and after, gave us not that capability and god-like reason to fust in us unused."

    So it seems a little odd to me to suggest that the naive state is what we were meant for. We have the capacity for this kind of thought. Did God intend for it to "fust in us unsed," to waste away without purpose? If God put the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, with full foreknowledge that Adam and Eve would partake of it, it seems to me reasonable that He intended for the Fall to occur, as opposed to suggesting that life was intended to remain in the Garden. Now if God was not omniscient, that changes things. But that is a whole other topic of discussion! :-)

  34. I will post once more here, then gladly accept your offer to correspond via email :-)
    Yes, im a deep thinker, but at times i think its more a burden than a blessing, esp when so many others arent :-)
    Re Shakespeare, could it be that the nature of our fall gave rise to our intellectual abilities, as a tool to help us, by that very skill of reason, find our way back to God?
    Lol, thats the first time anyone's ever said I have faith. Actually, in my mind, iv always never been sure what to believe. I suppose i *want* to believe, but in order to do so i first have to, to paraphrase Paul, work out my own salvation. You see, i believe in creation. My knowledge and understanding of science causes me to reject evolution - the idea of complexity creating itself is ridiculous and repulsive to me. Which came first: veins or blood? Only the simultaneous creation of these things makes any sense, for one has no need to exist without the other. Its like believing that given long enough, a computer program will write itself, without the guidance of an external intellect, even to the complexity of eventually becomming a fully-fledged operating system! Etc, etc...Absurd!
    Im just trying to discover *who* created us. So far, the best contender for the title is the biblical God. At least it makes sense and is believable. Like iv said, just because its not perfectly written, doesnt mean we should throw the baby out with the bathwater.
    Now, iv often wondered, "why doesnt our creator (whomever it is, but lets assume bible God for now) just speak to us directly?". Why seemingly hide away, while meantime we tear out our hair in frustration; while war rages; while death claims us all? Why not just come forward and solve the matter once and for all? But whether biblical god or not, no such thing happens. We're left alone in the silent cries of our thoughts. Now, lets assume that bible god truly is THE God. Can we find the answer to this dilemma in the bible? From what iv read, i think yes. Its not exactly obvious, but i can see it there.
    So, in truth, im in the stages of developing faith. Its still very difficult for me to perceive those people written about in the bible as truly once inhabiting the earth, but logically i cant see why not. I think my own experiences growing up in a society of unbelievers who automatically dismiss the bible as mere fiction has had a detrimental effect on my ability to see those accounts as real events in history. I mean, nothing scientifically, in my mind, and by my reasoning, says that these thing *cant* have occurred. But to get my mind to accept that, say, Jesus was a real man who once lived and walked the earth, is still rather difficult. Yet should it be? I believe we were created, so naturally i believe we have a creator. Now that creator mustv posessed many of our traits, such as the ability to love, to get angry, justice, mercy, etc. A creator cant logically create attributes they arent already familiar with. So that fits with the bible. Maybe theres a side of me that doesnt want it to be true, because if you really read the bible carefully, our salvation isnt automatic, even if we believe that Jesus is the son of God who died for our sins. From what iv read, i understand it like this: were supposed to believe, then repent (change our ways), wait for Jesus to come and make his house in us via the Holy Spirit, then go out into the world and spread the good news, even to the point of death. It should be noted that i truly believe, going solely from what iv read myself, that we are to live in a repented state for awhile, and if we overcome and remain repentant, the Holy Spirit will then descend upon us FOR REAL, giving us some very real connection to God and quite possibly, unearthly powers, such as true prophesy, healing, etc. :-)

  35. Just an aside, just because we have the capacity to do something, doesnt mean we should, or even that its good. We have the capacity to lie, cheat and kill, for example. However, in a corrupt and sinful world, unfortunately we feel the need to capitalise on these abilities just to survive. But id much prefer to exist in a world without that need. A world where the thoughts of such things never even occurred to its citizens. Thats my vision of heaven, and my belief of how things actually were before we gained the knowledge of good and evil.
    -Adam (and the previous post, but i know u know that :-) )

  36. (I say i truly believe re Holy Spirit, in the context that if you believe the bible, that is the order of things i truly believe are supposed to occur for the real christian. Now, as far as whether i ACTUALLY believe, well i dont know. Do you understand what im saying? Anotherwords, if i get to the stage where i can truly believe the bible, then i truly believe the order of things for the new christian and the phenomena of the holy spirit is meantbto be as i have said :-)
    Like iv said, atm i dont know what to believe re the bible, other than it is reasonable (id freakin scary) that it might really be true :-)

  37. Hello Adam. Indeed, deep thought can be a burden at times. :-)

    Perhaps we did develop that intellectual capability as a consequence of the Fall, but I would suggest that we had it before. Ironically, the story confirms that perspective to some degree. In Genesis 3:1-6, you see a scene where Eve is reasoning out right and wrong with the serpent. She knows God's command, and yet she weighs the argument made by the serpent and the appearance of the fruit. She was judging right and wrong before she knew what right and wrong was! ;-)

    There are many huge discussions we could spawn from your comments, but let me briefly reply to a some select points.

    "I suppose i *want* to believe, but in order to do so i first have to, to paraphrase Paul, work out my own salvation. You see, i believe in creation."

    As you may have guessed, I fall on the evolution-side of beliefs, but not dogmatically. I am even comfortable assuming that evolution is wrong, and considering the possibilities from there. One possibility is that we do not know how we came to be. Perfectly respectable answer, but not very satisfying. So we turn to creation, and a god. Were we a willful creation of a god, or are we just the dream of a Brahma, or some byproduct of some other process? Willful creation obviously sounds more appealing, at least to many of us, so we turn to our "patriarchal" view of god, or gods really, because if we allow for one eternal, non-created being, we should allow the possibility of multiple entities of the same nature. Not to mention all of the possible configurations of attributes that such a god or gods could have.

    So there is really a wide span of possibilities, and it is up to us to whittle them down to what seems probable, such as aligning them with the God of the Bible. We can "reason" all we want, but with such subtle, intricate, and diverse possibilities, what will seem probable to us will be largely influenced by our "world views," including whether or not there is a salvation to be worked out.

    "I mean, nothing scientifically, in my mind, and by my reasoning, says that these thing *cant* have occurred."

    It is kind of a shame that you were brought up in a "society of unbelievers" with an automatic dismissal of the Bible. Yes, if you have a God who can create something from nothing, obviously He could make anything happen, and I mean anything. It does not have to be bound to scientific principles, by definition of what the Christian God is.

    "But to get my mind to accept that, say, Jesus was a real man who once lived and walked the earth, is still rather difficult."

    Well, I can tell you that I do believe there was a real Jesus. I do not think that all of the stories attributed to Him are true, but His existence does seem reasonable to me based on the evidence.

    "Now that creator mustv posessed many of our traits, such as the ability to love, to get angry, justice, mercy, etc. A creator cant logically create attributes they arent already familiar with."

    That is an interesting statement, filled with some paradox, because how, or why, would God be familiar with these traits in Himself before He had created anything? Future-tense omniscience would allow for that, but it is still rather strange to think about. :-)

    [end part 1]

  38. [start part 2]

    "...our salvation isnt automatic, even if we believe that Jesus is the son of God who died for our sins. From what iv read, i understand it like this... us some very real connection to God and quite possibly, unearthly powers, such as true prophesy, healing, etc."

    I would say that is a pretty good assessment. Of course, there is also the perspective of the Elect to factor in there as well...

    "A world where the thoughts of such things never even occurred to its citizens. Thats my vision of heaven, and my belief of how things actually were before we gained the knowledge of good and evil."

    And, in a way, that is what is promised to be in the future, as the world will be made sinless, according to Revelation and other prophesies, among other things. It is hard to imagine that it could be eternally sinless without some abridgement of our knowledge, desires, ego, etc. Yet that those aspects are part of what makes you you. Without them, we would all be different people. Good people. And if God can make such an adjustment to our character, and that He intends to live with us in that state eternally, you have to wonder why God would not have just created us that way from the beginning. At least, I do.

    "Now, as far as whether i ACTUALLY believe, well i dont know. Do you understand what im saying?"
    Yes, I understand quite well. :-)