Essays Impeaching Yale Professor Joel Baden’s Assertions on the Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch

One of the difficulties for people trying to navigate the statements of atheists and Christians, regarding the reliability of the Bible, are the many conflicting assertions from these two groups.

See the chart to the left? This is how modern atheist and progressive scholars, try to explain who wrote the Torah. Confusing, right? Everything man puts his hands on that God has said, simply, becomes complicated and confusing. Here is how the Torah was written: “the Lord said to Moses, write…

Here is the problem: These modern assertions for multiple authors for the Torah, didn’t exist until the 17th century. From 1,450 BC, to 1760 AD, no one contested the Mosaic Authorship of the Torah. How is it that thousands of Hebrew scholars during these 3,200 years, previous, didn’t know that Moses was not the author of the Torah?

How is it that modern scholars in the last two hundred years are, today, so much smarter, and know so much more about the events and authors of the extant Hebrew texts, than the scholars who never disputed these texts during the entire previous period of biblical scholarship history?

In this, you can see that there is great concern for these modern assertions. There is absolutely no evidence anywhere, that this new Documentary Hypothesis, is actually true. All of the ideas regarding the multiple authors, reside in conjecture, speculation, and the opinions of largely, atheist scholars.

Atheists assert that the first five books of the Bible, the Torah, or Pentateuch, is not reliable because we don’t really know who wrote it. Remember, we did know that Moses wrote the Torah for the 3,200 years previous to this time in history.

If Moses did not write the Torah, the entire foundation of everything Jesus and the men who wrote the New Testament, would also not be true

How, you ask?

Over 80 times in the New Testament Jesus and the writers of the New Testament, cite Moses as the only author of the Torah. The Pharisees rejected Jesus when He claimed to be the Messiah, telling him, “we are Moses’ disciples.” Jesus responded, “If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me.” ~John 5:46

After Jesus rose from the dead, He met two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus. Notice what Jesus told these men: “Then Jesus took them through the WRITINGS of Moses.”

“Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. 26 Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” ~Luke 24:25-27

If you are a believer in Jesus, the issue of who wrote the Torah, is settled by the words of Jesus who affirms that Moses wrote these texts, not four unknown authors.

It is interesting that none of the preeminent Hebrew scholars of the first century, ever wrote that Moses was not the true and singular author of the Torah. Conversely, many of the first century scholars who recorded commentary during that period of history, confirmed the Mosaic authorship for the Torah.

There is extant commentary from early Rabbis that God gave Moses the words for the Torah, by “direct revelation,” including all of the incredible details about the creation of the universe, earth, and man.

Because of the stellar career of George Robinson, a great body of excellent commentary has been left to us. Amongst the many observations made in his commentary, Dr. Robinson said the following regarding the reliability of the ancient Hebrew scholars:

Tradition says that Moshe not only took down the Written Torah—the Pentateuch—but also was given the Oral Torah, the laws eventually set down in the Mishnah, during those days and nights on Sinai.”[1]

There are 720 citations for Moses found in the extant manuscript texts for the Old Testament. Dr. Robinson cites a particular reference in Ezra, where Moses is referenced as the true author of  the Torah:

“The tradition of Mosaic authorship seems to have been supported by later biblical texts as well as the Talmud. In Ezra, Nekhemyah, and Divrei Hayamim, the last three books of the Tanakh, repeated reference is made to the “Torah of Moshe” and the “Book of Moshe.” When Ezra reads to the people on that all-important day in Jerusalem, he reads from “the scroll of the Torah of Moshe.”[2]

God told Moses, in Deuteronomy 32, he would not cross the Jordan River into the land He promised the Israelites, because Moses misrepresented Him before the people.

In spite of this certainty where Moses told the people nine times that he would not cross the Jordan river with them, Joel Baden has written, that the introduction to Deuteronomy chapter 1, proves Moses said he did cross the Jordan river. Baden asserts that it was on the “other side of the Jordan,” when Moses wrote the texts for Deuteronomy in Canaan. Baden claims that this is what the texts at the introduction of Deuteronomy 1, confirms.

Badan says that this is a contradiction with what Moses stated, previously, that he would not cross the Jordan river.

Here is the problem: That is not what Deuteronomy 1 states. Baden did not read the text of Deuteronomy 1 correctly. Nor did he conduct a correct exegesis of the preceding texts of the Torah. If he had, Baden would never have made this critical error.

Baden states: “Deuteronomy begins by saying this is what Moses said to the Israelites on the other side of the Jordan, but if he says this on the other side of the Jordan then it must be written from inside Canaan. Where did he write it? Moses never got there, so how it doesn’t quite make sense.

What the Book of Deuteronomy Chapter 1 actually states:

“These are the words that Moses spoke to all the people of Israel while they were in the wilderness east of the Jordan River.”

Notice the inability of Professor Baden to understand the fundamentals of the opening statement for Deuteronomy. Baden thinks “the other side of the Jordan,” means Canaan. In facts we know that Moses was still in the wilderness, on the EAST side of the Jordan river, when he wrote the texts of Deuteronomy. Moses had not entered Canaan, as Baden asserts.

This is Baden’s error in scholarship that runs concurrent through all of his assertions that the inconsistencies he finds in the Torah, demand that multiple writers are responsible for the text.

We can see why Baden makes these errors, as he has a fundamental difficulty in understanding the simplest terms in the Torah, such as: “other side of the Jordan.”

Moses is writing Deuteronomy chapter 1 while the Israelites are at Kadesh-barnea in the fortieth year after they were delivered from slavery in Egypt. As Deuteronomy chapter 1 begins, the texts states that Moses is going to expound the Law of God and restate many of the principles He has already taught the people. Deuteronomy is known as the “second telling of the Law.”

Moses tells the people who will go on without him that in order to conquer the people of Canaan and receive the inheritance that God promised them, they should remember that this is their second and final chance. The generation who doubted and complained against God in the wilderness, all died. In this reminder of Deuteronomy, God is telling the generation that has come through the wilderness after forty years, what they must do to be successful.

Moses doesn’t want this generation to fail and die in the wilderness as their fathers had. It was only an eleven day journey from Mount Sinai to Kadesh-Barnea. The people God brought out of Egypt should have arrived at Canaan, thirty-eight years earlier. Moses wants to ensure that this new generation doesn’t make the same mistakes of not believing and trusting God.

“Normally it takes only eleven days to travel from Mount Sinai to Kadesh-barnea, going by way of Mount Seir. But forty years after the Israelites left Egypt, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses addressed the people of Israel, telling them everything the LORD had commanded him to say. This took place after he had defeated King Sihon of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon, and at Edrei had defeated King Og of Bashan, who ruled in Ashtaroth. While the Israelites were in the land of Moab east of the Jordan River, Moses carefully explained the LORD’s instructions as follows.” ~Deuteronomy 1:2-5

Notice that Moses gives us a frame of reference when this text was written: “This took place after he had defeated King Sihon of the Amorites.” Moses wrote the texts of Deuteronomy after this battle between the Israelites and “King Sihon of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon, and at Edrei had defeated King Og of Bashan, who ruled in Ashtaroth.”

This battle is described in the book of Numbers, chapter 21:

Numbers 21:18-24“Then the Israelites left the wilderness and proceeded on through Mattanah, Nahaliel, and Bamoth. After that they went to the valley in Moab where Pisgah Peak overlooks the wasteland. The Israelites sent ambassadors to King Sihon of the Amorites with this message: “Let us travel through your land. We will be careful not to go through your fields and vineyards. We won’t even drink water from your wells. We will stay on the king’s road until we have passed through your territory.” But King Sihon refused to let them cross his territory. Instead, he mobilized his entire army and attacked Israel in the wilderness, engaging them in battle at Jahaz. But the Israelites slaughtered them with their swords and occupied their land from the Arnon River to the Jabbok River.”

We can now see why Professor Baden, scholar of the Hebrew Bible, is a failure in his exegesis of these texts: He doesn’t actually know the Hebrew Bible. Anyone who simply reads the texts can quickly see that Baden doesn’t know what he is talking about. Moses wrote Deuteronomy, not in Canaan, as Baden asserts, being impossible because Moses never made it to Canaan; Moses wrote Deuteronomy, “While the Israelites were in the land of Moab east of the Jordan River.”

Either Baden is inept as a scholar, or his false assertion that Moses must have written Deuteronomy in Canaan, was intentional, to mislead the readers of his commentary and make them believe the texts of Deuteronomy proves that Moses could not have written these texts.

We can now see the true agenda of Professor Baden: He is purposely misleading people into believing that Moses could not have written all of the Pentateuch, because of false claims Baden makes here at the start of his Podcast: “Moses claimed to be on the other side of the Jordan, at Canaan.”

The text of Deuteronomy proves that Baden is lying. Moses wrote the texts “while the Israelites were in the land of Moab, East of the Jordan river, not in Canaan.

I have followed the scholarship of Professor Joel Baden, through his exegesis of the Torah, and found the exact same errors through all of his commentary. In hundreds of places in the Torah, Baden injects his own opinion and bias into what the texts state, and ignores the fundamental principles of proven Hermeneutics.

Instead of studying all of the Torah as a whole, and placing every questionable texts alongside those before and after the text in question, Baden assumed from the start, the texts have multiple writers, and Moses is not the single author.

I provided this page as a central location for all of the essays I have written, and will write, to impeach the error of Professor Joel Baden, concerning the Torah.


[1] Robinson, George. Essential Torah (p. 99). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
[2] Robinson, George. Essential Torah (p. 98). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

%d bloggers like this: