Numbers Don’t Lie

Archaeologists can easily find Israelin ancient history.  The grandson of Abraham, he along with his father Isaac, is a famous patriarch in the bible (circa 1910 B.C.). He lived contentedly in the land of Canaan until famine forced him to relocate.  His married life had produced 12 sons and one daughter, Dinah.  It grieved him greatly to head south to Egypt because it was a land of idols, sin, and shame.  Nevertheless, “Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto God (Genesis 46:1).”  At the altar the Lord told him, “I will go down with thee into “Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again (Genesis 46:4).”  He found peace in prayer, plus assurance that he would return to the Promised Land.

Scoffers pounce on this sacred scene and try to discredit the accuracy of the Bible.  Luke records the address of Stephen before the Hebrew council (Acts 7:1-53) and particularly verses 14, 15 “Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls.  So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers.”   Threescore and fifteen equals 75!  Skeptics say this is a contradiction and refer back to Genesis 46:26 “All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob’s sons’ wives, all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten.”  Threescore and ten equals 70!

“A discrepancy has been imagined.  The “souls that came with Jacob” were 66.  The “souls of the house of Jacob” (v 27, i.e. the entire Jacobean family) were 70, viz. the 66 which came with Jacob, Joseph and his two sons, already inEgypt=69; Jacob himself=70 (Scofield bible reference notes, page 65).”  Scofield said concerning the Acts account, “There is no real contradiction.  The “house of Jacob” numbered seventy, but the “kindred” would include the wives of Jacob’s sons (ibid, page 1157).”

What about God’s promise that Jacob would return from Egypt?  It is true that he died there but his embalmed body went back home!  “His sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a burying place (Genesis 50:13)”.  Numbers don’t lie, but skeptics and critics do.

Rev. Raymond Parnell is Pastor Emeritus of Christ Memorial Temple in Lafayette, Indiana.

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