Old Testament Unreliable?

There seems to be another casualty in the Gaza battle between Hamas and Israel. In the article “Who are the real terrorists in the Holy Land?” that appeared in his column, “As I Wreck This Chair” (The Philippine Star, January 11, 2009), William Esposo questioned the right of Israel to occupy the Promised Land by assailing the Old Testament. “Much of what is written in the Old Testament, many history scholars dispute — a lot of them concluding that these were mostly the wishful thinking of landless nomadic tribes.” The Embassy of Israel here in the Philippines in a rejoinder called this assertion “plainly ridiculous.” Esposo fought back in his “‘Anti-Semitism’ as Jewish Counter Propaganda” (January 15, 2009) that appeared in the same column: “The Old Testament is unreliable simply because it is loaded with myths, exaggerations, maybe even delusions of ‘prophets’ who have been affected by severe hunger in the desert.” To prove his point, the columnist added, “The Old Testament talked about an angel sent by God to slay the 600,000 Assyrians. Come again? Even the great Persian Empire never had that much armed force in one place, so where did the 600,000 Assyrians come from?” However, when I checked, 2 Kings 19:35 says, “That night the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies!” (Emphasis mine. NIV) Now, admittedly, 185,000 was a huge number. But that’s way far below 600,000! I wonder from which passage in the Old Testament Esposo got that number.

Questioning whether there was an army in history that big is one thing, but misquoting the actual number is another. If that’s his basis for calling the Scripture unreliable, then he needs to set his facts straight before casting doubt on it just to prove his point. It’s flimsy at best.
It appears to me that the “many history scholars” he mentioned were the liberal scholars whose alleged historical conclusions were already discredited by recent archaeological finds in Israel. And, granting for the sake of discussion, that there were “a lot of them”, that does not mean that their assertions were true just because of their sheer number. The majority is not always right, as shown by the mob that shouted for the Lord's crucifixion.

Brethren, we can trust the Old Testament.


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