Examining The Alleged Contradiction Of Exodus 20 And 34

Proponents of the JEDP hypothesis see a contradiction between Exodus Chapters 20 and 34

Exodus chapter 20, is the first giving of the Ten Commandments which were broken by Moses after He came down from Mount Sinai and found that the Israelites had turned away from God.

Exodus chapter 34, Is the second giving of the Ten Commandments, as a renewal of the original covenant that was broken by the people.

Those who insist that Exodus 19-24 are predicated on the E source, and Exodus chapter 34 is predicated upon the J source, assert that there is a conflict between these two descriptions of the Ten Commandments. The claim is that there are discrepancies between chapters 20 and 34, evidence Moses could not have written these texts, but two other unknown writers composed these chapters. The following facts, impeach these assertions:

  1. Both Deuteronomy 35, and Deuteronomy 9 and 10, stipulate that there was a renewal of the original covenant. This is the reason there is a repetition of thoughts, nearly word for word (v.5-7), and the terms for this covenant, v. 12-25).
  2. The first parallel is found in the earlier visions of Moses; the second is finds similarities in chapter 20-23.
  3. One of the objections by JEDP proponents is the ten words that are not directly quoted in verse 10, as they were in Exodus chapter 19 and Deuteronomy chapter 6.
  4. The, “Ten Words,” eseret ha-devarim, (Shemot/Exodus 34:28), are Hebrew words that denote the ten commandments, and are far more than the simple Hebrew words that indicate Ten Commandments; they are ten individual divine expressions from the eternal mind of God.
  5. In examination of verse 28, we find that these ten words are assumed: “So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments,” 
  6. In examination of verse 28 we find the same ambiguity as in Exodus chapters 2-23, where the actual terms of the covenant were the ten words which were inclusive of the entire book of the covenant.
  7. The Book of the Covenant is understood as an amplification and elucidation of these ten words, defining Exodus 34 as no contradiction to Exodus 20.

This Is A Mere Attempt At Eradicating Mosaic Authority

People who believe the Bible is the word of God—authored by Him as He spoke to men who were set apart for Him—stipulate that Moses is the singular author of these texts. Modern progressive Christians and atheist scholars often assert that Moses is not the author of the Pentateuch, stating that many other unknown writers are responsible for this compilation of biblical texts.

Persons who attend university today are frequently taught that the Pentateuch was composed by four unknown authors or through several literary strands, described by the letters J.E.D.P.

  • J represents the Yahwist theory (“J” from the German Jahweh), originating from the period of 950 BC, the early Hebrew kingdom.
  • E represents the Elohist theory, originating from the period of 750 BC, during the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
  • D represents the Deutero theory that is observed in the Pentateuch by the book of Deuteronomy, originating from the Southern Kingdom of Judah, about 650 BC.
  • P represented as the Priestly theory, describe texts from the Pentateuch such as Leviticus, originating from the period after the decline of Israel in 587 BC.

According to some modern scholars who assert the JEDP theory, the texts of the Pentateuch were developed into their current form during the time of Ezra, about 400 BC.

This postulation for how the first five books of the Bible were composed is often referred to as the Documentary Hypothesis, and the Graf-Wellhausen theory.

The danger that originates in this hypothesis can be understood by its incursion into the historical defining principles of the Bible, as originating in the mind of God and not men.

Critics who accept the JEDP theory argue that the texts of the first five books should be viewed as a combination of credible historical events, as well as religious poetry from the imaginations of men. In other words, the Pentateuch is not the word of God, it is merely a fabrication of events that never happened.

According to the JEDP theory, and critical scholars, the narratives of the Pentateuch that are asserted as written by Moses on Mount Sinai are foolish, contrived, and impossible. The fundamental premise of the Documentary Hypothesis is that the supernatural events described by the Bible are not possible in this material world. This defines the first five books of the Bible as fantasy, folklore, and merely the contrived stories of Hebrew writers.

It is interesting in the JEDP assertion that a “P’ author is responsible for the Levitical portion of the Pentateuch, we find in Numbers that the Levites were condemned and disqualified by God, to act as His representatives.

In Numbers 16, the son of Levi, Korah, came to criticize Moses as the only leader and writer of the first five books. God said that in coming against Moses, whom God had chosen, “the Levites went too far” (16:7). The Levites were disqualified from communication with God.

If proponents of the Documentary Hypothesis had actually read the first five books of the Bible, they would have learned that their “P” theory for authorship of the Pentateuch is refuted by God Himself. The Lord only spoke to Moses.

This view of scripture, in opposition to the actual texts of the Bible, can best be characterized by the humanist-atheist worldview that removes the existence of God from all references to the Bible. By depriving the first five books of the Bible of its power and authority from the Creator of all that exists, all subsequent books that follow the Pentateuch are rendered as nothing more than fanciful literature from antiquity.

The historical view of the Pentateuch is supported by a vast record that has been meticulously copied and preserved by the Jews throughout their long history. Every credible Hebrew scholar from antiquity adamantly declares that God imparted these texts seen in the first five books of the Bible personally to Moses by direct revelation, and all of these texts are the word of God.

Where does this historical attestation reside? In the preserved records of the Hebrew people over the past three Millenia. There is no critical argument against the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch found anywhere prior to the seventeenth century.

The JEDP hypothesis is a new argument postulated by atheists and progressive scholars, who do not believe God exists or the Bible is the word of God.

Any person who simply reads the Bible for themselves quickly notices that all of the Old Testament affirms, in 720 citations, the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. When we arrive at the 260 chapters of the New Testament, we find the writers citing Moses in 96 citations. The 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament state over and over again—Moses is the singular author of the first five books of the Bible.

This historical attestation to Moses’ authoritative authorship cannot be overcome by the assertion of multiple authors and differences in writing style or name usages for God, asserted by critics.

Etymology For The Documentary Hypothesis

We might ask how a 3,000-year history of the Jews in upholding Moses as the only author of the Pentateuch could have suddenly evolved into the Documentary Hypothesis in the last 200 years.

Do scholars today know more about the events of the Bible, than scholars who upheld the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch for three Millenia?

Later criticism of texts from antiquity is an often used tactic by critics of the Bible, in an effort to cause doubt and disbelief in their reliability.

This is particularly effective when the persons making the assertions are scholars who have obtained a PhD. Most people believe that anyone who devotes themselves to the apprehension of an advanced degree must be an expert in their field.

You will discover that there are many who are known as Old Testament scholars, who are also atheists and unbelievers masquerading as scholars who are interested in literary integrity. Some people attend university to obtain a degree for the express purpose of trying to overturn the reliability of the Bible.

These persons act as agents of atheism—to disrupt, impugn, and bring doubts to people who are actively pursuing faith in God and the Bible. These scholars are enemies of biblical truth, and they often infiltrate the minds of unsuspecting people by the guise of scholarly expertise. The problem is that these persons do not believe the texts of the Bible they claim to be proficient in—even before they begin their pursuit of a scholarly degree.

Old Testament Scholarship is not biased, but many Old Testament Scholars are. Every human being is capable of cognitive prejudice. People often choose their preferred conclusions and then seek to justify their choices by fallacious reasoning.

Where Did We Go Wrong?

The failure of Old Testament Criticism is that we who believe have allowed atheist scholars to inject false suppositions and conjecture into the study of the Old Testament and distort the true facts of the Bible.

Atheist and progressive scholars do not accept that the biblical texts are true and authoritative, because they don’t believe that God exists. God-believing biblical scholars affirm the 66 books of the Bible as inspired by God and perfect the way they are.

Believing scholars insist that the texts of the Bible are eternal truths from an infinite mind and do not need to be proven authoritative today by transient human minds. Believing biblical scholars assert that the arduous task of proving the texts of the Bible are true, has already been accomplished centuries before by some of the greatest biblical scholars ever to inhabit the earth.

Starting with Origen in 248 AD, all of the texts of the Bible were arduously studied, subjected to extreme criticism, and found absolutely true. Modern biblical criticism that exists in the world today is often based upon the opinions, conjectures, and speculation of predominantly atheist scholars. There has never been any evidence that proves Moses did not write the entire Pentateuch. All that you will find are the opinions of people who don’t believe God exists in the first place.

The believing biblical scholar maintains that an intensive study of the biblical texts is the way that a person may know the Bible and prove they are truthful and reliable.

For a complete study on why Moses is the only viable writer of the Pentateuch, see my book, “Proving The Pentateuch.”





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