Monday, 25 March 2013

Contradictions In The Bible 10 :

How can "head of his staff" (Heb. 11:21) be reconciled with "head of the bed" (Gen. 47:31)?

Hebrews 11:21 refers to the dying Jacob as "worshiping on the head of his staff" when
he pronounced his blessing on Joseph. But in Genesis 47:31 we read, "Then Israel bowed 
in worship at the head of the bed" (NASB). Actually the Hebrew text says`al hammittah
"on the head of the bed"), which perhaps might mean that he leaned his forehead on the
headboard of his bed. But this is rather unlikely in view of what he had just been doing,
conversing with Joseph, and asking him to place his hand under his thigh as he promised
to bury Jacob in Canaan rather than in Egypt. Jacob would have been far more likely to
sit on the side of his bed, leaning perhaps on his staff.

Now it so happens that the word for "bed" and the word for "staff" are spelled exactly the same in the Hebrew consonants; only the vowel points (first invented about the eight century A.D. or a little before) differentiate between the two. But the Septuagint, translated back in the third century B.C., reads m-t-h as mattah ("staff"); it was the medieval Jewish Masoretes of the ninth century A.D. who decided it was mittah ("bed"). Hebrews 11:21 follows the earlier vocalization and comes out with the far more likely
rendering "on the head of the staff"--like the Septuagint and the Syriac Peshitta. In all probability this was the correct reading, and the Masoretic pointing ought to be changed accordingly.

Gleason L Archer.

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