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Monday, January 08, 2018

Babel: More Historical Confirmation of the Bible


by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.


The Bible possesses the attributes of divine inspiration with sufficient internal evidence to establish its divine origin. Hence, when it relates a historical incident that occurred thousands of years ago, one would naturally expect that such an incident might well be noted in other historical accounts from antiquity. Of course, one would not expect all, or even many, of the details to match exactly for at least two reasons: (1) the oral transmission of history is inevitably subject to human frailty, including both accuracy of memory and temptation to embellish, and (2) false religion has the tendency to distort and recast history in order to suit its own purposes and achieve its own agenda. An excellent example of these tendencies is seen in the multiplicity of, and variety in, the multitude of accounts of the great Flood of Noah’s day.1 Though they differ widely from culture to culture, country to country, and century to century, nevertheless, they share substantial agreement in too many significant features not to have arisen from the same historically factual event.

Consider another great event whose historicity is set forth in Scripture as factual:

Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” …So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth (Genesis 11:1-9).

The great Joseon (Chosun) nation was a Korean dynastic kingdom that flourished for five centuries (1392-1897).2 During the 17th century, Korea was largely closed to the West and somewhat of a mystery to Europeans. But for a group of wayfaring Dutchmen on a journey to Japan, that all changed in 1653 when their ship “De Sperwer” (The Sparrowhawk) was shipwrecked on Jeju (formerly Cheju-do) Island off the coast of South Korea. The 36 survivors were taken into custody by the local prefect and, within a year, transferred from the island to the capitol of Seoul on the mainland where they spent the next 12 years. At the end of 13 years, in September 1666, eight survivors managed to escape to Japan. One of those survivors, Hendrick Hamel, spent the ensuing year in Nagasaki writing an account of his observations and experiences in Korea, which was published in 1668 under the title Journal van de Ongeluckige Voyage van ‘t Jacht de Sperwer. In what was essentially the first Western account, Hamel provided the world with a firsthand description of Korean society and culture. Only recently was his account translated accurately by a Dutchman based on the original manuscript.3

Apart from his fascinating assessment of Korean life in the 17th century, Hamel provides a portrait of religious life, including the customs and practices of Confucianism. At one point in his narrative, he makes a passing remark concerning the beliefs held by the Confucian monks: “Many monks believe that long ago all people spoke the same language, but when people built a tower in order to climb into heaven the whole world changed.”4 Keep in mind that Hamel encountered the monks’ belief circa 1660. No one knows for how long this belief was part of the religious traditions of Korea. Hamel claims that “many” of the monks believed the matter, and that the event occurred “long ago.”

Observe that the belief of the non-Christian monks regarding the Tower of Babel contained four salient points that explicitly and directly connect with the biblical account:

  1. The entire world’s population spoke a single language;
  2. The people constructed a tower;
  3. Their stated goal was to climb into heaven;
  4. Their efforts affected the entire world.

All four of these features are included in the biblical record found in Genesis 11:

  1. “[T]he whole earth had one language and one speech” (vs. 1).
  2. “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower” (vs. 4).
  3. “a tower whose top will reach into heaven” (vs. 4, NASB).
  4. “So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city” (vs. 8).

Christianity and the Bible have nothing to fear from the unbelief, skepticism, and hostility of infidelity. The more information surfaces from history and nature, the more the Bible is confirmed in its uncanny accuracy and supernatural endowment.5

Endnotes


1  See Kyle Butt and Harrison Chastain (2015), “Noah’s Flood and The Epic of Gilgamesh,” Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=5194&topic=100; Eric Lyons and Kyle Butt (2003), “Legends of the Flood,” Apologetics Presshttp://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=64.

2  The following historical details are gleaned from Gari Ledyard (1971), The Dutch Come to Korea (Seoul, Korea: Royal Asiatic Society); Keith Pratt and Richard Rutt (2013), Korea: A Historical and Cultural Dictionary (London: Routledge).

3  Hendrik Hamel (1668), Hamel’s Journal: And, A Description of the Kingdom of Korea, 1653-1666, trans. Jean-Paul Buys (Seoul, Korea: Royal Asiatic Society, Korea Branch, 1994 edition).

4  Ibid., p. 61.

5  My thanks to Shane Fisher, missionary to Korea, for calling my attention to this  fascinating incident.







Copyright © 2018 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

Does Moses’ Prohibition of Mixed Garments Prove He Was a Superstitious Pagan?


by  Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


It is well known that the pagan people of antiquity were superstitious in their religious practices.1 Do the prohibitions for the Israelites about mixing materials like wool and linen in weaving their clothes2 indicate that Moses was superstitious and that God was not the ultimate Author of the books of Moses?3

Admittedly, there are various prohibitions and comments made within the Law of Moses that simply do not make a lot of sense to the modern mind without more information about the time and culture of the Israelites who lived 3,500 years ago. Before responding to the allegation that Moses was uninspired and superstitious in the matter at hand, therefore, one should immediately be struck by the fact that making “knee jerk” accusations, without deeper study, demonstrates bias and is bound to result in mistakes. As Solomon rightly stated: “The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17).

So, why would God through Moses command the Israelites not to wear “a garment of mixed linen and wool” (Leviticus 19:19)? Commentators give several possible explanations. Adam Clarke argues that garments with mixed threads or patterns could encourage vanity and an attention-seeking mentality among the Israelites, instead of the humble faith that God desires from His followers.4 Others highlight that the prohibition may have had health concerns at its root.5 Charles Whitlaw, in his monumental work The Scriptural Code of Health, notes that modern science has proven that “[w]ool when combined with linen increases its power of passing off the electricity from the body; in hot climates it brings on malignant fevers and exhausts the strength, and when passing off from the body, it meets with the heated air, inflames, and excoriates like a blister.”6

Perhaps a more likely explanation lies in the consideration that God was acutely aware of the pagan practices of those around the Israelites with whom they had mingled or would soon mingle. For instance, three times Moses commanded the Israelites not to boil a young goat in its mother’s milk,7 a practice which we now know was used in ancient pagan religions when one wished to approach a god to worship.8 Clearly, certain injunctions were given to the Israelites to buffer them from the paganism around them and simultaneously to keep the Israelite nation holy in the eyes of Gentiles—set apart from all other nations. In fact, a central theme of the book of Leviticus, wherein the passage at hand is found, is holiness, with various forms of the word occurring 152 times.9 It should come as no surprise, therefore, that various commentators argue that Leviticus 19:19 and Deuteronomy 22:11 were rules given by God to keep the Israelites from engaging in the superstitious and idolatrous practices of those around them.10 Rather than proving Moses was superstitious and pagan like those around him, the exact opposite is the case. Unlike the contemporary societies of their time, the Israelites were more advanced in their knowledge—as though they were being properly educated by Someone with significantly more knowledge than the common people of the day.

While it is not certain why Moses prohibited wearing garments comprised of wool and linen, it is certain that he cannot justly be accused of being a superstitious pagan. Legitimate, logical possibilities exist that clarify why such injunctions could have been given. As is the case 100% of the time, no accusation against the integrity of Scripture can be maintained after careful, fair examination of all reasonable, possible explanations.

Endnotes


Cf. Eric Lyons and Kyle Butt (2015), “3 Good Reasons to Believe the Bible is from God,” Reason & Revelation, 35[1]:8.

Cf. Leviticus 19:19; Deuteronomy 22:11.

Note that regardless of the rationale for the command given in Leviticus 19:19, the world does not live under the Law of Moses today, but rather, the Law of Christ (Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 7:12; 8:7-13; 9:11-17; Galatians 3:28; 5:1-4; Romans 7:6; 10:12; Ephesians 2:14-16).

Adam Clarke (2013), Adam Clarke’s Commentary, Wordsearch Database, Leviticus 19:19.

The Pulpit Commentary: Volume 2: Leviticus and Numbers (2007), Wordsearch Corp., Leviticus 19:19; Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, and David Brown (1871), Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary (Wordsearch Corp.), Leviticus 19:19.

Charles Whitlaw (1838), The Scriptural Code of Health, with Observations on the Mosaic Prohibitions, and on the Principles and Benefits of the Medicated Vapour Bath (London: self-published), p. 68.

Exodus 23:19; 34:26; Deuteronomy 14:21.

Gleason L. Archer (1974), A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago: Moody Press), p. 174.

Dave Miller (2017), A Summary of the Bible (Montgomery, AL: King Solomon Publications), p. 6.

10 E.g., Jamieson, Fausset, Brown, Leviticus 19:19; Jamieson, Fausset, Brown, Deuteronomy 22:11; Matthew Henry (2014), Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (Wordsearch Bible), Deuteronomy 22:11.

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