Answering Humanist's Accusations Against the Bible
HUMANIST QUESTION: Genesis 8:13 describes the earth as being dry on the first day of the first month. But Genesis 8:14 informs us the earth was not dry until the twenty-seventh day of the second month.
Now it came about in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, on the first of the month, the water was dried up from the earth. Then Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and behold, the surface of the ground was dried up. In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry.- Genesis 8:13-14
A fact the humanists ignore is that the Bible was not written in English. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, with a few sections in Aramaic. The New Testament was written in Greek.Greek follows a logic similar to our own and lends itself to a word-for-word translation much better than Hebrew. However, in the above verses we are dealing with Hebrew.
First... if you are not carrying a bias against the Bible (that bias being that the Bible is full of contradictions), you probably would not see a problem with this English translation. Notice the first sentence says the water was dried up. The standing water is gone, but, that does not mean the earth is dry.
Those of us who live in Oregon, where it rains A LOT, understand what is being said. While there may not be water running through the streets, and the streets may even be dry, there still is mud and muck... a lot of it.
What these verses are saying is that the water was gone by the first day of the first month, but the ground was still muddy and mucky. It took until the 27th day of the second month for the ground (earth) to be dry and firm.
If we look at this from a technical view, looking at the words in Hebrew, two different Hebrew words are used.
In verse 13 the Hebrew word "charab" is translated as "dried up." A more detailed translation would be "the face of the ground was dry." That means the standing water is gone. In verse 14 the Hebrew word "yabesh" is used. This word literally means "to be desolate" and in this context it means to be without moisture. So in verse 14 the ground is described as completely dry and firm.
I assume you do not read Hebrew. So how can you know there are two Hebrew words, having different meanings, used here?
I hope that you are attending a good (conservative Biblically) church, and are able to ask your pastor or an elder. When you have a question, going to the leaders of your church is a good first option. One of the purposes of the church is to help you grow in your knowledge of God and the Bible.
A second option is to have a reference book, like the one you are reading now. However, a more versatile solution would be to have a good study Bible, such as a MacArthur Study Bible. In addition to a study Bible, an excellent reference book is Strong’s Concord-ance. It includes both a Greek and Hebrew dictionary to help you understand the original words used in scripture.
A third option is to use multiple Bible translations. We are using the NASB for this book, which is a word-for-word translation. However, since it is difficult to translate Hebrew word-for-word, often a paraphrase translation will provide a better understanding of the Old Testament. For example, the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) translates these verses this way:
In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, on the first day of the month, the water that had covered the earth was dried up. Then Noah removed the arks cover and saw that the surface of the ground was drying. By the twenty-seventh day of the second month, the earth was dry. - Genesis 8:13-14
That makes it a little clearer. Here is what the NIV translation says:
By the first day of the first month of Noahs six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry.
Be careful, there are many poor and deceptive translations. Good word-for-word translations include the, KJV, NASB, NKJV, and ESV. The CSB is in the middle and is an optimal equivalence translation. Good paraphrase translations are the NIV and NLT.
A fourth option is to turn to the internet. To see what was available I did a search for "Bible Contradiction Genesis 8:13" and found the following web site: answersingenesis.org/the-flood/times-of-recession. It is okay to get help on the internet, BUT it is risky. Be sure the web site you use is one that is Biblically solid. There is A LOT of bad information on the internet. For example, Wikipedia often comes up at the top of the search listings, but it is not a reliable source of information about the Bible nor Christianity. The web sites I recommend for these types of questions are:
There is no contradiction here.
The Old Testament contains an interesting contradiction in the story of the census taken by King David and the resulting punishment of the Israelites. God was so angered by the census that he sent a plague that killed 70,000 men. According to II Samuel 24:1, the Lord had caused David to take the census which makes the punishment appear even more nonsensical. But an attempt was later made, at I Chronicles 21:1, to improve Gods image by claiming that Satan incited the census.
Many people, when they die, will stand before Jesus and say:
Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles? - Matthew 7:22
And Jesus will say to them:
I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness. - Matthew 7:23
Get your Bible out and read Matthew 7:21-23. These are some of the most frightening verses in the Bible.
They describe people who believe with all their heart that they are saved. They have no doubt that they know Jesus and they've done many great things that prove this is true. Put Jesus says, 'Depart from me...' He doesn't know them.
Are you truly trusting Jesus? Scripture says to examine yourself to see if you are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). Have you done that?
Do you read your Bible regularly? Do you fear false teaching? Are you growing in your obedience to God? Are you growing in your understanding of what God wants? Do you regularly share the good news about Jesus with others?