"The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife can get to them.”
Exodus 1:19  NASB

(And  7 other examples; excluded is Tobit 5:17-18 as Tobit is not a biblical book of the Hebrew Canon nor of the New Testament Canon and consequently is not part of the Bible)

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
Exodus 20:16  NASB
(And 13 instances more)


SAB Contradiction 283


The Problem
Is it wrong to lie? Generally spoken: Yes, it is wrong to lie. And that is the rule the Bible teaches. However, what to answer to lying people, who want to harm us or others with the information we offer them? The rule to not lie and to not hurt is also valid for them, isn’t it? We seem to have here a moral dilemma. Should we lie to people who want to hurt us and others with the information we give? Without giving a moral judgement, positive or negative, I  would like to show a remarkable biblical way to coop with this dilemma.


Hiding the truth with the truth
When the prophet Samuel was ordered by the Lord to go to Bethlehem to anoint one of the sons of Jesse to a future king of Israel, he was very frightened. He said to the Lord: If Saul will notice, he will certainly kill me. Then the Lord said: Well, take a cow (heifer) when you go to Bethlehem and if they ask you what you are going to do, say to them that you will have an offering festival in Bethlehem. And so it happened. The Lord gave to Samuel his approval to hide the truth about anointing a new king. Now, most instances of the critic of the so called lies in the Bible are illustrations of hiding the truth (1 Samuel 16:1-13). Let’s have a look.


The order to kill Hebrew baby boys in Egypt
18  So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this thing, and let the boys live?”
19  The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife can get to them.”
20  So God was good to the midwives
(Exodus 1:18-20  NASB)

The midwives had received a commandment of the king to kill the Hebrew boys as soon as they were born. Apparently the midwives refused to do this and taught the people how to handle in case of a birth and so it was not necessary for them to become active at birth. Later on they could control that everything had been done as they had instructed. And so they said honestly to the king that the Hebrew women “are vigorous and give birth before the midwife can get to them.” This was not a lie at all, it was true


How Rahab saved two Israelite men
4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them, and she said , “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from.
5 It came about when it was time to shut the gate at dark, that the men went out; I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.”
6 But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them in the stalks of flax which she had laid in order on the roof.
(Joshua 2:4-6  NASB)

The soldiers who had come to arrest the Israelite men, went out rapidly to seek them outside as soon as they had heard Rahab. They went the wrong way as Rahab had put them on the wrong foot. However, not one of her words was a lie. Let’s follow here sayings:

– “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from.”
This was true, later on she noticed that it were Israelite men.
– “… when it was time to shut the gate at dark, that the men went out …”
This was not a lie, the men had left her room a few moments earlier. Apparently some things happened nearly simultaneously. (a) The closing of the gates of Jericho which was observable for Rahab as her house was on the wall of the city. (b) The coming up of the soldiers to her front door. (c) Hearing the soldiers coming up she instructed the men to get up the stairs and to hide in the stalks. (d) The men ran upstairs.
– “I do not know where the men went …”
This was not a lie. She didn’t know whether they went right or left on the roof.
– “Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.”
This was not a lie. If the soldiers would have followed the Hebrew men in the right direction, surely, they would have arrested them.

Rahab telling the truth to the soldiers was hiding the truth. Why did she do that? She wanted to belong to the God of Israel. She hated her life as a harlot. She saw those blessed men from God and it was as if the holy Spirit started to work in her heart who gave her the words to speak. (Matthew 10:19-20)


David at Nob
2 David said to Ahimelech the priest, “The king has commissioned me with a matter and has said to me, ‘Let no one know anything about the matter on which I am sending you and with which I have commissioned you; and I have directed the young men to a certain place.’ (1 Samuel 21:2  NASB)

When David went on the run for Saul he came to the priest Ahimelech and he told that he had got special orders of the king to accomplish a secret matter. He also asked for bread and a weapon. Were those lies? Of course not. David was Saul’s most successful officer and certainly he had got special mandates in their struggle against the Philistines (1 Samuel 18:30). He was still in that position when Saul was working on his plan to destroy David. And so there isn’t any indication for the assumption that David was lying against Ahimelech. 
What would be more natural and more effective for a man as David, being on the run, to get out at night with a troop of his soldiers and travel through the country with them?


A deceiving spirit of God?
21 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’
22 The Lord said to him, ‘How?’ And he said, ‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Then He said, ‘You are to entice him and also prevail. Go and do so.’
(1 Kings 22:21-22  NASB)

God is looking for a way to motivate king Ahab to go into battle and fall in action. Then a spirit comes before his throne and offers to become a “spirit of lies (deception) in the mouth of the prophets” who will motivate Ahab at war.
This seems a good example that God works through lies. However, not infrequently things are not as they seem. Also in 2 Thessalonians 2:11 we read that God can send “… a deceiving influence so that they will believe what is false.” Truth can make the ungodly angry and can move him in the opposite direction of the truth. That happened with Pharaoh when he refused to listen to Moses and Aaron and by his refusals he brought damage over the country.
A spirit of truth (speaking truth and not lies) encountered the false prophets of Ahab; they did not listen to the truth but act controversially. All encouraged Ahab to go to war. All prophesied prosperity. Unfortunately it brought him defeat and death. 
( The deceiving spirit means: a spirit causing deception, not: speaking lies.


A lie of the Prophet Elisha?
9 So Hazael went to meet him [Elisha] and took a gift in his hand, even every kind of good thing of Damascus, forty camels’ loads; and he came and stood before him and said, “Your son Ben-hadad king of Aram has sent me to you, saying, ‘Will I recover from this sickness?’” 10  Then Elisha said to him, “Go, say to him, ‘You will surely recover,’ but the Lord has shown me that he will certainly die. (2 Kings 8:9-10  NASB)

This is an old-fashioned alleged Bible Contradiction. Elisha seems to encourage Hazael, the messenger of the Syrian king, to lie to the king suggesting that he would recover of his illness despite the Lord had shown him his death. However, we can make short work of it. It is generally explained as follows: he will recover from his illness, nevertheless shortly thereafter he will die.

In my view we have to do with a serious mistranslation. All old and modern versions of the Bible have this mistranslation, but the Hebrew text says: “Go, say not, ‘You will surely recover,’ and the Lord has shown me that he will certainly die.”

Elisha doesn’t give here a prophesy for the king at all. He gives a personal message to Hazael to not say that the king will recover. Further reading will show that all this happened as Elisha had foretold. Not one single lie.


Jesus and the Feast of Booths
8 Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come.”
9 Having said these things to them, He stayed in Galilee.
10 But when His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He Himself also went up, not publicly, but as if, in secret.
(John 7:8-10  NASB)

Jesus’ brothers advised Jesus to go the Jerusalem for the Feast of Booths. He refused to go at that moment and so they left without Jesus. Jesus was busy with his work and set off later on. Was He lying to his brothers saying “I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come.”? In no way. They may have got the impression that Jesus didn‘t want to go to the Feast, but He only said that he didn’t go at that time as it was not yet his time to leave.

No Bible Contradictions