"THE THIRD EPISTLE OF JOHN" Supporting Ministers Of The Gospel (5-8) by Mark Copeland


Supporting Ministers Of The Gospel (5-8)


1. In writing to Gaius, John has referred to his joy of hearing that
   Gaius is "walking in the truth" - 3Jn 3-4

2. An area of Gaius' life in which this was especially true was in
   showing hospitality to traveling ministers - 3Jn 5-8

3. In Second John, we saw the "danger" of receiving and supporting
   those teachers who do not proclaim the doctrine of Christ - cf. 2 Jn 9-11

4. But here in Third John, we learn of the "good" that can be done when
   we receive and support those involved in the spreading of the gospel

5. In this study, we shall consider...
   a. The scriptural authority for supporting ministers of the gospel
   b. The reasons given by John for why we should be willing to do so

[Going outside of our text to other portions of Scripture, consider 
what we learn about...]


      1. Jesus Himself was dependent upon others for support as He went
         about preaching - Lk 8:1-3
      2. In sending out the twelve disciples, He taught that "a worker
         is worthy of his food" - cf. Mt 10:5-10
      3. In sending out the seventy, He said "the laborer is worthy of
         his wages" - cf. Lk 10:1-8

      1. Though for personal reasons he generally chose not to accept
         it, Paul defended the right of supporting ministers - 1Co 9: 3-14
         a. Just as soldiers are not expected to support themselves - 1Co 9:7a
         b. Just as farmers and shepherds enjoy the fruits of their 
            labors - 1Co 9:b
         c. Just as the Law illustrated with the command not to muzzle
            the ox that treads out the grain - 1Co 9:8-10
         d. From the principle of reasonableness:  if one sows
            spiritual things, is it a great matter to reap material
            things? - 1Co 9:11
         e. From the example of those serving in the temple who could
            partake of the offerings on the altar - 1Co 9:13
         f. Even the Lord commanded:  "Those who preach the gospel
            should live of the gospel" (perhaps a reference to Mt 10:10
            and Lk 10:7) - 1Co 9:14
         g. NOTE:  Paul chose not to receive such support under normal
            circumstances for the following reasons...
            1) It was one of the few areas in which he could boast - 1Co 9:15
            2) He could not boast in preaching the gospel, for he had
               been divinely commissioned - 1Co 9:16-17
               a) He must do it as a steward of Christ
               b) He had no choice if he were to be saved
               c) Such is not the case of those who preach today; 
                  unless the Lord appeared to us and commanded us to
                  preach (as He did with Paul), it is something we do
                  willingly and thereby have a reason to boast
            3) But, that Paul might have a reason to boast, a reward,
               he freely gave up his right (authority) to receive
               support in _most_ cases - 1Co 9:18 
               (however cf. 2 Co 11:7-9; Php 4:10-16)
      2. Another passage by Paul suggesting the scripturalness of
         supporting teachers - Ga 6:6

[With the approval of Jesus and His apostle Paul, there should be no
question about the scripturalness of supporting ministers of the 

As we return to our text (3Jn 5-8),we find that John gives us six
reasons that ought to motivate us to do so...]


      1. John wrote of Gaius:  "Beloved, you do faithfully..." - 3Jn 5
      2. When we show hospitality to brethren (and ministers), it 
         demonstrates our faithfulness to the teachings of Christ and
         His apostles

      1. John said of those who had received Gaius' hospitality that
         they "...had borne witness of your love..." - 3Jn 6a
      2. We demonstrate that we are keeping that "new" commandment
         first given to us by the Lord Himself - cf. Jn 13:34-35
      3. In light of the value of such love ("by this all will 
         know..."), we ought to be grateful for opportunities to bear
         witness of our love for the brethren

      1. John makes reference to sending such ministers on their 
         journey "in a manner worthy of God" - 3Jn 6
      2. "worthy of God" means "as befits God"
      3. Thus the way in which we support ministers of God can be a 
         reflection upon God Himself
         a. If we do not consider His faithful ministers worthy of
            support, what do we think of God?
         b. If we honor and support those servants who faithfully
            proclaim His Word, it is because we honor and respect the
            One they serve!

      1. The ones Gaius was encouraged to support were those who were
         "taking nothing from the Gentiles" - 3Jn 7
         a. This likely means they would not solicit support from the unsaved
         b. Depending instead upon their brethren
      2. When ministers of the gospel solicit help from those lost 
         souls they are trying to save, it sends a bad message
         a. Perhaps the ministers are in it just for the money...
         b. If what they taught was worth anything, why don't their own
            followers support it?
      3. When the gospel is offered free of cost, being supported 
         whole-heartedly by those who know it best, it can be a 
         powerful testimony of the value _we_ place on it!

      1. John, by inspiration of the Spirit of God, tells us "We 
         therefore _ought_ to receive such" - 3Jn 8a
      2. Thus, supporting ministers of the gospel is not only an 
         opportunity, but an obligation!
         a. Exhorted by Paul in Ga 6:6
         b. Exchange of material things for spiritual things considered
            reasonable by Paul in 1Co 9:11; cf. also Ro 15:26-27

      1. As John concludes in verse 8:  "that we may become fellow 
         workers for the truth"
      2. When we support a teacher, we become co-workers in what they do
         a. If we support teachers of error, we share in their evil
            deeds - 2Jn 10-11
         b. But when we support teachers of the gospel, we have 
            fellowship in their work - Php 1:3-5; cf. 4:15-16
      3. As co-workers, we will one day enjoy the same rewards - cf. 
         Mt 10:40-42


1. So we not only have scriptural authority for supporting ministers of
   the gospel, but many reasons to do so!

2. The rapid spread of the gospel and growth of the early church was
   facilitated by such people as Gaius, along with...
   a. Aquila and Priscilla, who allowed the churches to meet in their
      homes - Ro 15:3-5a; 1Co 16:19
   b. Philemon, who let the church meet in his house, and could be 
      called upon without hesitation to provide lodging for the apostle
      Paul - Phm 1-2, 22

3. Today, as walls tumble down that once stood preventing the free 
   course of the gospel, there is still a need to support those who 
   preach the gospel

May the spirit and liberality of Gaius fill the hearts of those 
Christians and churches who would be fellow workers for the truth!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Did the Hebrew Writers Borrow from Ancient Near Eastern Mythology? by Dewayne Bryant, Ph.D.

Did the Hebrew Writers Borrow from Ancient Near Eastern Mythology?

by Dewayne Bryant, Ph.D.

For centuries, the bulk of the people in the West regarded the Bible as the Word of God. They saw it as the inerrant and inspired revelation of God to His creation. Beginning in the mid-1800s, some academicians began rejecting the inspiration of the Bible. This came, in part, after the discovery of ancient mythological texts. Upon examining the textual evidence, skeptics highlighted the Bible’s similarities with other literature and claimed it to be only one sacred book among a larger body of myth. After studying the Bible’s differences from ancient mythology, other scholars viewed these discoveries as confirmations of the Bible’s uniqueness. 
Perhaps the most dominant viewpoint in biblical studies concerning the biblical text is that the Bible contains significant amounts of mythology borrowed from Israel’s neighbors (although we should quickly add that truth is not determined by majority opinion). This presumption has dominated biblical studies for nearly two centuries. But as additional texts have surfaced, more cautious scholars have backed away from this viewpoint. Indeed, myth was once seen as pure fiction, but now scholars are beginning to realize that this may not necessarily be the case. The belief that myth may contain small nuggets of historical truth is gaining popularity, even if we recognize that tales of the gods were nothing more than the work of inventive scribes. So where does this leave the Bible? The question we must ask is this: is the Bible pure myth, or is it something else?
We must first determine what we mean by “myth.” It is a notoriously difficult term to define, and scholars use it with a variety of nuances (see Kreeft and Tacelli, 1994, pp. 212-213). Some define it as any story including the supernatural. Most separate myth from legend, with the former being stories about the gods, and the latter being stories—with varying degrees of historical truth—about human beings. In modern parlance, some use it to refer to fiction, especially the body of stories about a particular character (e.g., the mythology of Superman or Captain America). But if we look at the term as it bears on the sacred texts of the religions in the ancient Near East, it has a clearly defined usage.
In his book The Bible Among the Myths, Old Testament scholar John Oswalt notes the radical differences between mythological texts and the Hebrew Bible (2009). The Bible and ancient myth came from two fundamentally different worldviews. Although he identifies nearly a dozen different points, we will examine four in particular.


In the Bible, God’s moral character is    identified with holiness and righteousness. To be more accurate, it is His character that defines holiness. His attributes set the standards for behavior. They are ethically and morally pure and upright. Furthermore, since He is perfect and cannot fundamentally change (Malachi 3:6), He can become neither any better nor any worse. His goodness is celebrated throughout the Bible (Psalm 16:2; 31:19; 107:1). He cannot be tempted or tempt another (James 1:17), or look upon evil with any measure of approval (Habakkuk 1:13). Individuals mirror God’s holiness, in part through ethical living (Leviticus 11:44; 1 Peter 1:16).
The gods of the ancient Near East often commit evil acts and frequently give themselves over to debauchery. In Egyptian myth, the chaotic god Seth murders his brother Osiris and dismembers the body. In an Egyptian myth titled “The Contendings of Horus and Seth,” Seth attempts to rape his nephew Horus during a contest over who will take Osiris’ place (Lichtheim, 2006, 2:219). Rape is a common theme in the Greek myths, where women and even goddesses are violated with a frequency that would shock many modern readers. In the Atrahasis Epic, the gods are outraged because humanity is keeping them awake at night. They attempt to silence humanity through various means, including disease and famine, and finally send a flood to destroy humanity for the sake of a good night’s sleep (see Foster, 1997). The gods are not above getting drunk, either. In one Ugaritic text, called “The Myth of El’s Banquet,” the Canaanite god El (or Ilu) becomes inebriated, and on his way home meets an unidentified animal which causes him to soil himself and fall down into his own excrement (see Pardee, 1997). Such inglorious stories are nowhere to be found in the Bible about God. The God of the Bible can in no way be compared to deities of human invention.


The biblical account of mankind’s creation is the most complete and noble of any in ancient Near Eastern literature. Other accounts of man’s creation must be pieced together from various fragments (as in Egypt), or else depict man as little more than an afterthought (as in Mesopotamia). Regardless of the specific tradition, the requirements are clear: man is created to serve the gods, to perform services for them, and, should they fail, incur divine wrath. As Walton observes:
while Israelites viewed man as created to rule, Mesopotamians viewed him as created to serve…. The fact that the Israelites viewed man as the centerpiece of creation afforded him a certain dignity, undergirded by the fact that he was created in the image of God. In contrast, Mesopotamians did not see man as created with dignity. Human beings achieved their dignity by the function they served (1989, p. 29).
He adds that humanity was originally created “in a barbarous state,” with humanity being “an unplanned afterthought, created for the sake of convenience” (p. 30).
The biblical account of Creation is vastly different from its Near Eastern counterparts. Man is the apex of creation. He has dignity because of who he is, not what he does. He is created as a kind of governor or viceroy charged with stewarding God’s creation (Genesis 1:28). Furthermore, this creation was prepared with man in mind (cf. Genesis 1:29-30), for his use and enjoyment. Although he is also created to worship his Creator, it is not a wearisome task. The New Testament further reveals that worship is also meant for the benefit of fellow believers (Acts 2:46-47; Ephesians 5:19), in addition to giving honor to God.


What the gods required of humanity in other cultures could not be known with any accuracy. The most a person could do was to infer the will of the gods based on their circumstances. If all was well and life was going smoothly, then it was apparent that the person was indeed doing the gods’ will. Should they suffer misfortune or tragedy, it must have meant that the person had offended the gods. It became their task to determine which god they might have offended through omens and offer the appropriate sacrifices. This was no easy task, and could be viewed as something of a guessing game. In contrast, God clearly outlined what He expected of mankind with precision through His spokesmen. His will is revealed clearly as a matter of public record, made known through readings to the people (Deuteronomy 31:9-13). The people were warned before punishment, rebuked afterwards, and told specifically what needed to be done to please God.


The biblical authors had a worldview by which history was viewed as linear. The past, present, and future all had great importance. Specifically, the past served as a reminder, which God makes clear is important enough to signify with memorials, such as piles of stones (e.g., Joshua 4:19-24), or the institution of the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-26; Luke 22:7-39). The future is also important in the biblical worldview, as we see in the prophet Joel’s concern about the coming Day of the Lord (Joel 2:1-11), or Christ’s teaching about His impending return (Matthew 24:30; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). The biblical writers considered all phases of time to be important.
There was virtually no understanding of history in the modern sense among the cultures of the ancient Near East. The Near Eastern view of history was cyclical and assigned little importance to the past or to the future. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus (circa 484-425 B.C.) is called the “father of history” for good reason—prior to his time there was little or no recording or analysis of the past for its own sake. Historiography, as we know it, did not exist (an exception may be seen in the Babylonian chronicles, which record the history of Babylon from the eighth century through the third century B.C.). The past had very little importance outside its use as propaganda by monarchs interested in glorifying themselves (see Oswalt, 2009, pp. 111-137).


Mythology is much more than exciting stories filled with fantastic monsters, magic, and imaginative details. It is a way of thinking—a worldview. Careful comparison of the biblical text with myth makes it clear that the Bible and ancient Near Eastern mythology are not merely different from one another—they are radically so. Even a cursory reading is enough to give most people a feeling that the Bible and myth are quite different, even if they immediately may not be able to put their finger on why. Thanks to the discovery and study of ancient texts, the differences are easy to detect. The Bible, unlike Near Eastern mythology, has an air of dispassionate objectivity that puts it in a category by itself. The Bible and ancient mythology are so different from one another that any allegations of wholesale borrowing on the part of the biblical authors must be rejected by those who handle the ancient evidence with care.


Foster, Benjamin R., trans. (1997), “Atra-Hasis” in The Context of ScriptureVol. 1: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World, ed. William W. Hallo and K. Lawson Younger (Leiden: Brill).
Kreeft, Peter and Ronald Tacelli (1994), The Handbook of Catholic Apologetics: Reasoned Answers to Questions of Faith (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press).
Lichtheim, Miriam (2006), Ancient Egyptian Literature, Volume 2: The New Kingdom (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press).
Oswalt, John N. (2009), The Bible Among the Myths: Unique Revelation or Just Ancient Literature? (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Pardee, Dennis, trans. (1997), “Ilu on a Toot” in The Context of Scripture, Vol. 1: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World, ed. William W. Hallo and K. Lawson Younger (Leiden: Brill).
Walton, John H. (1989), Ancient Israelite Literature in its Cultural Context (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).

Did the Bible Writers Commit Biological Blunders? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Did the Bible Writers Commit Biological Blunders?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

In our scientifically advanced age of cloning, biomimetics, Pentium processors, and the Internet, Americans’ skepticism of biblical inerrancy appears to have reached an all time high (see Gallup and Lindsay, 1999, p. 36), especially in regard to matters of the Bible and science. How can a book, parts of which were written 3,500 years ago, have relevant scientific data? How could the Bible writers have made accurate statements about the heavens long before the invention of telescopes and satellites? How could they have correctly classified animals before the development of Linnaean taxonomy? How could their references to zoology, botany, astronomy, and human anatomy be trustworthy?
Although the purpose of the Bible is not to provide a commentary on the physical Universe, Christians rightly conclude that, if the Bible was truly given “by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16-17; see Butt, 2007), then it should be free from the kinds of errors that books written by uninspired men contain (see Lyons, 2005, 2:5-25). The Bible may not be a textbook of biology, geology, or chemistry (the Bible is about God and redemption through Jesus Christ), but “wherever it deals with these fields, its statements are true and dependable” (MacRae, 1953, 110[438]:134). At least common sense demands such, if the writers really were “carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21, NIV).
According to many outspoken skeptics, the Bible writers made several scientific slip-ups. In a 1991 article titled “Scientific Boo-Boos in the Bible,” Christian-turned-skeptic Farrell Till alleged: “One thing the Bible definitely is not is inerrant in matters of science.... [T]he Bible is riddled with mistakes” (1991a). Elsewhere Till challenged Christians to explain
why a divinely inspired, inerrant book has so many obvious scientific errors in it. And if the Bible is riddled with scientific errors, they should wonder too about the truth of that often parroted claim that the Bible is inerrant in all details of history, geography, chronology, etc., as well as in matters of faith and practice. It just ain’t so! (1991b).
After criticizing the sacred writers for making various “mathematical miscalculations,” Dennis McKinsey, author of The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy, began a section titled “False Science” in which he stated: “A second major area in which the Bible fails miserably concerns the large number of statements that are patently erroneous from a scientific perspective. On numerous occasions the Bible makes statements that have little or nothing to do with scientific accuracy” (1995, p. 213). According to McKinsey,
Few topics activate biblical critics more than that of biblically based scientific contradictions and inaccuracies. That is readily understandable, in view of the fact that the book is a veritable miasma of poor science, bad math, and inaccurate geography, all with a heavy overlay of mythology and folklore.... Scripture is a veritable cornucopia of scientific inaccuracies, falsehoods, and blunders (1995, pp. 209,230).
After listing 21 alleged scientific blunders in the Bible, McKinsey declared: “So that is biblical ‘science.’ Can you conceive of a more discordant deluge of deceptive delusion! Saddest of all is that most of Christianity’s most prominent spokesmen are fully cognizant of these biblical inanities, but have spared no effort to avoid them or minimize their importance” (1995, p. 216, emp. added).
The truth is, faithful, Christian apologists have no reason to avoid the questions posed by McKinsey or anyone else regarding the reliability of the Bible. We may find many of the alleged discrepancies quite trifling (e.g., “Judas died twice;” “Jesus was a thief;” cf. McKinsey, 2000, p. 236), and wonder why such allegations would even be made, but we will not avoid questions about the Bible’s inspiration and inerrancy out of fear that the Bible may not be the Word of God. In fact, this issue of R&R addresses McKinsey’s first four scientific slip-ups supposedly found in Scripture—four alleged mistakes that McKinsey believes are some of the very best proofs of the Bible’s errancy. We think you will be both disturbed and impressed by the answers—disturbed by the arrogance of skeptics’ allegations, yet impressed with how easily the truth can be discovered and error refuted.


Everyone knows that a bat is not a bird. Bats are beakless, give birth to live young, and nurse their young with milk until they are self-sufficient. A bat’s wings are featherless, and its body is covered with hair. Based upon such characteristics, scientists classify bats as mammals, not birds. So what does the Bible have to say about these creatures?
Bats are specifically mentioned only three times in Scripture. Isaiah warned Israel of the time when their idols would be cast away “into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth...to the moles and bats” (2:19-20). The other two occurrences are found in the Pentateuch amidst laws regarding clean and unclean animals. In the book of Leviticus, Moses wrote:
“[T]hese you shall regard as an abomination among the birds; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, the kite, and the falcon after its kind; every raven after its kind, the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after its kind; the little owl, the fisher owl, and the screech owl; the white owl, the jackdaw, and the carrion vulture; the stork, the heron after its kind, the hoopoe, and the bat” (11:13-19, emp. added).
Deuteronomy 14:11-18 also lists the bat among “birds.” But bats aren’t birds; they are mammals.
According to skeptics, the Bible’s classification of bats as birds represents one of the “scientific difficulties in the Bible” (Petrich, 1990). Such categorization is supposedly “an obvious contradiction between the Bible and Science” (Khalil, 2007). Since “the bat, is, of course, a mammal, not a bird,” McKinsey listed Leviticus 11:19 as a “superb verse to use...to take enlightenment to the biblically benighted” (1995, pp. 744,14, emp. added; see also McKinsey, 2000, p. 213).
Was Moses, who “was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds” (Acts 7:22), so uninformed that he could not tell the difference between bats and birds? Was the God, Whom the Bible claims created bats and birds, unable to classify them properly? How is this not “an obvious contradiction between the Bible and Science,” as Ibrahim Khalil asserted?
The elementary answer to these questions is simply that God did not classify animals 3,500 years ago according to our modern classification system. As far back as Creation, God has divided animals into very basic, natural groups. He made aquatic and aerial creatures on day five and terrestrial animals on day six (Genesis 1:20-23,24-25). Similarly, in the first 23 verses of Leviticus 11, God divided the creatures into land animals (11:2-8), animals “that are in the water” (11:9-12), “birds” (11:13-19), and flying insects (11:20-23). He did not divide animals into mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. In fact, the group of “creeping things” mentioned later in Leviticus 11 (vss. 29-30; cf. Genesis 1:24-25) includes both mammals (e.g., mice) and reptiles (e.g., lizards). Clearly then, God divided animals according to their locomotion and environment rather than whether or not they have hair, lay eggs, and nurse their young.
Still, some may question why the English word “bird” is used for the category in which bats are listed. Why not simply call this group of animals “the flying creatures”? Actually, the term “bird” in Leviticus 11:13 (as well as Genesis 1:20-30) is translated from the Hebrew word ‘ôp, which literally means “flying creatures” (Harris, et al., 1980, p. 654; cf. Brown, et al., 1993). It is derived from ‘ûp, meaning to “fly, fly about, fly away” (Harris, et al., pp. 654-655). That this word is not used solely for “birds” is evident from Leviticus 11:20-23, where it is used with sherets in reference to “winged creeping things” (ASV), i.e., flying insects.

Admittedly, bats and birds have many differences, but one major commonality—the ability to fly—is the very characteristic God used to group them together. Why are no other mammals included in this list? Because “bats are the only mammals capable of true flight” (Jones, n.d.)—another reason why Bible translators have chosen to use the term “birds” in these passages, instead of the more general terms “flying creatures.” The rationale among translators seems to be, “if 99.9% of all ‘flying creatures’ are birds, then we will use the term ‘birds’ to translate the word (‘ôp).” Since Bible students should be very familiar with the figure of speech known as synecdoche (“by which a part is put for the whole”—“Synecdoche,” 2009; see Dungan, 1888, pp. 300-309; cf. Genesis 8:4; 21:7), they should have little trouble understanding why translators continue to use the term “birds” to categorize all the flying creatures, including bats. After all, bats make up a very small percentage of all of the animals that fly.
What’s more, notice that bats are placed at the end of the list of birds and just before the list of flying insects. This placement is entirely proper for the only living “flying creature” that is neither a true bird nor an insect.
To accuse God or the Bible writers of categorizing animals incorrectly based upon Linnaeus’ taxonomy in Systema Naturae (1735), or any other modern method of classifying animals, is tantamount to criticizing people for not organizing their wardrobe or cataloging their books according to your own methods. Whether a person chooses to organize books alphabetically, sequentially, or topically, according to the Dewey Decimal Classification System or the Library of Congress Classification System, is a matter of judgment. Likewise, it is extremely unfair to judge ancient classification systems according to modern man’s arbitrary standards. Skeptics are wrong for imposing their preconceived standards back onto an ancient text. Frankly, placing bats in the category of “flying creatures,” rather than with the land animals, “all that are in the water,” or the “creeping things,” makes perfectly good sense. Bats are, after all, “the world’s most expert fliers” (Cansdale, 1970, p. 135, emp. added), not walkers, crawlers, or swimmers. For Moses’ allusion to bats to be a true error, he would have had to say something to the effect of, “bats are not flying animals.”
Sadly, one significant question often left unexplored in a discussion of the Bible’s treatment of bats and birds is why God classified bats as “unclean.” Was this simply due to many bats’ eerie outward appearance, or that they are nocturnal cave dwellers? Could there be something more? Kyle Butt addressed the wisdom of God’s instruction about bats in his book, Behold! The Word of God (2007). The fact is,
...bats often carry rabies. While it is true that many animals are susceptible to rabies, bats are especially so. The American College of Emergency Physicians documented that between 1992 and 2002, rabies passed from bats caused 24 of the 26 human deaths from rabies in the United States (“Human Rabies...,” 2002). In the Science Daily article describing this research, “Robert V. Gibbons, MD, MPH, of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, MD, reviewed the 24 cases of humans with bat rabies.” From his research, he advised “the public to seek emergency care for preventive treatment for rabies if direct contact with a bat occurs” (“Human Rabies...,” 2002, emp. in orig.). Moses’ instruction to avoid bats coincides perfectly with modern research. Once again, the super human wisdom imparted through Moses by God cannot be denied by the conscientious student of the Old Testament (p. 124).


Not only is Moses ridiculed for classifying a bat as a “bird,” but supposedly he made another mistake when he categorized the hare (or rabbit, NASB, NIV) as an animal that “chews the cud” (Leviticus 11:6; Deuteronomy 14:7). Cows, goats, sheep, and deer all have three- or four-chambered stomachs and bring already-chewed and swallowed vegetation up into their mouths to masticate once more. These animals “chew the cud” and are known as ruminants (“Ruminant,” 2009). A rabbit, however, does not have a three- or four-chambered stomach, nor does it bring previously swallowed food directly back up from its stomach to its mouth to chew again. For these reasons, skeptics have repeatedly criticized the Bible’s categorization of a rabbit as an animal that “chews the cud” (cf. Morgan, 2009; Wells, 2009; McKinsey, 1995, p. 214). [NOTE: Skeptics have also charged the animal mentioned in Leviticus 11:5 (Hebrew shaphan) of not being a cud chewer. Since, however, there is disagreement over the identity of this animal (translated “coney” in the KJV, ASV, and NIV, “rock badger” in the NASB and RSV, and “rock hyrax” in the NKJV), our discussion will center solely on the rabbit. If the shaphan resembles the rabbit, as some believe (see Day, 1996), then whatever arguments made for the rabbit’s inclusion in this list might also apply to the shaphan.]
In an article titled “Bible Biology,” Farrell Till alleged: “The Leviticus writer made a serious biological error in describing them [rabbits and shaphan, which he contends are coneys—EL] as cud chewers.... [T]hey have no cuds to chew” (1991b). Elsewhere Till addressed this issue while simultaneously commenting on the scientific foreknowledge argument that Christians sometimes use as one of the proofs for the Bible’s inspiration:
Something that has long perplexed me is the way that inerrancy proponents can so easily find “scientific foreknowledge” in obscurely worded Bible passages but seem completely unable to see scientific error in statements that were rather plainly written. There are too many to discuss, but Leviticus 11:5-6 can serve as an example....They [rabbits and coneys—EL] do not have compartmentalized stomachs that ruminants must have in order to be cud-chewers. Inerrancy champions have stumbled over these passages with various attempts to explain them....Yet after all has been said on the matter, the fact remains that hares and conies are not cud-chewers. But “Moses” said that they were.
One would think that if God were going to arm his inspired writers with scientific foreknowledge...he could have easily programmed them to know the simple fact that hares and conies aren’t cud-chewers” (1990; cf. Butt, 2007, pp. 103-130).
Once again, we are told the Bible is wrong. And, if the Bible is wrong about something as basic as whether or not rabbits “chew the cud,” how could anyone really believe that it was “given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16)?
First of all, critics must acknowledge the fact that we frequently describe things as they appear to take place and not necessarily as they actually happen. Meteorologists talk about the sun rising and setting, even though they know very well that actually the Earth is moving around the Sun, rather than vice versa. Doctors refer to a pregnant woman’s “water” breaking, when actually the liquid is amniotic fluid, and not merely H2O. Furthermore, the amniotic fluid does not break, rather the sac containing the fluid bursts. The Bible writers also referred to things as they appeared. Paul, for example, in his discussion of Jesus’ resurrection, described some of the Christians who had died as having “fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:6). Did Paul know that these Christians had died, and not merely “fallen asleep”? Most certainly. Did the Bible writers know that the bat is not a blue bird? Of course. But what about the rabbit? Why is it listed among the cud chewers? It may be simply because rabbits “appear to chew their food very thoroughly like true ruminants, and this is what the law is insisting on” (Wenham, 1979, p. 172, emp. added). Rabbits move their jaws and wiggle their noses in a way which looks like they are ruminating (Harris, 1990, 2:571). In fact, so convincing is this appearance that, according to Walter Kaiser, “Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778), to whom we owe the modern system of biological classification, at first classified the coney and the hare as ruminants” (Kaiser, et al., 1996, p. 158; cf. Keil and Delitzsch, 1996). In short, it may be that rabbits were listed as “cud chewers” based on simple observation.
Interestingly, though the rabbit (or hare) does not have a three- or four-chambered stomach from which it directly regurgitates previously swallowed food for a second chewing, it does practice what modern scientists call “refection.” In his classic work titled All of the Animals of the Bible Lands, George Cansdale addressed this process:
[A]t certain times of the day, when the hare is resting in its “form,” it passes droppings of different texture and appearance which it at once eats again, swallowing them after little or no chewing. It thus seems to be eating without taking any green stuff into its mouth. This is not, of course, the same thing as chewing the cud, but it has a similar effect. Like the ruminants, hares feed on bulky vegetable matter of which only a part can be digested, and the yield is largely the result of bacterial action inside the gut; the process of breaking down in to assimilable substances is started on the first passage through and taken a stage further on the second (1970, pp. 131-132).
According to biologist Leonard Brand, “Lagomorphs [hares and rabbits—EL] produce two kinds of fecal pellets which are produced at different times during the day. When the animals are active and feeding they produce the familiar hard pellets. When they cease their activity and retire to their burrows or resting areas, they begin producing soft pellets which they eat as soon as they are passed” (1977). So although rabbits do not regurgitate previously swallowed food, they do swallow their partly digested food a second time. In fact, rabbits reingest more than half of their feces (Brand, 1977).
Still, the skeptic contends that the refection of rabbits is not rumination. To compare the two supposedly represents a
complete failure to explain away the biological error of the Leviticus writer. After all has been said about what hares appear to be doing and how their reingesting of caecotrophic materials [caecal feces—EL] achieves the same purpose as cud-chewing, the fact still remains that hares do not chew the cud.... [T]he Leviticus writer was wrong when he said that hares and coneys “chew the cud” (Till, 1991b, emp. added).
But what did Moses mean when he used the phrase “chew the cud”? The word “cud” (Hebrew gerah) appears only 11 times in all of Scripture: seven times in Leviticus 11 and four times in Deuteronomy 14—every occurrence is in the two passages that give lists of clean and unclean animals. The rabbit is mentioned in each list as one that “chews the cud” (Leviticus 11:6; Deuteronomy 14:7). Therefore, if the only sections in Scripture where specific animals are mentioned that “chew the cud” include rabbits, then it is entirely proper to conclude that Moses simply defined “cud chewers” more broadly than modern scientists. Today, “cud chewers” (called ruminants) may be strictly defined as animals that “swallow their food without chewing it very much, store it temporarily in one of their stomach compartments, then later regurgitate it and rechew it thoroughly, and then swallow and digest it” (Wenham, 1979, pp. 171-172). It would be completely unjust, however, to force present-day definitions on a 3,500-year-old document. “As with Moses’ classification of bats as ‘birds,’ the modern definition of terms does not take away from Moses’ ability, or even his right, to use words as he sees fit to use them” (Kaiser, et al., 1996, p. 158). Moreover, Jonathan Sarfati concluded: “It is inconceivable that someone familiar with Middle-Eastern animal life would make an easily corrected mistake about rabbits, and also inconceivable that the Israelites would have accepted a book as Scripture if it were contrary to observation” (1998, 20[4]:56), especially when the Book has so many negative things to say about the Israelites.


Following the section in Leviticus 11 where various unclean birds are listed, verse 20 begins a new category with these words: “All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you” (KJV, emp. added). Fowls on four legs? “Whoever heard of four-legged fowl?” (McKinsey, 1995, p. 213). Surely Bible believers would agree with critics who contend that “there are no birds that go around on four legs” (Morgan, 2009), unless, of course, they are mutants. So why does Leviticus 11:20 refer to birds with four legs?
The problem in Leviticus 11:20 is not with God or His inspired writer, but with the King James Version’s translation of the verse. Moses was not referring to “birds,” but to “flying insects.” The Hebrew sherets ‘ôp is more accurately translated “winged creeping things” (ASV), “winged insects” (NASB, ESV, RSV), or “flying insects” (>NKJV, NIV). Interestingly, when these same creatures are discussed in Deuteronomy 14:19, the King James translators used the phrase “creeping thing that flieth” to translate the same Hebrew words (sherets ‘ôp) used in Leviticus 11:20. That this alleged contradiction is merely a translation issue has even been admitted by certain skeptics, including Farrell Till. Although Till chides the Bible writers elsewhere in his writings, he freely admits in this instance that “[f]our-legged fowls...would be a biological blunder indeed, but since the context clearly indicated insects in this passage, we won’t hold bibliolaters responsible for a translation flaw” (Till, 1991b, emp. added).
[NOTE: Although four-legged “fowls” are only found among mutated birds, we must not dismiss all “four-legged” flying creatures as biological impossibilities. Bats, mentioned one verse earlier (Leviticus 11:19), “crawl on all fours, with their long arms and flexible legs splayed out to the sides” (Zimmer, 1994, emp. added). What’s more, both history and the fossil record reveal that extinct flying reptiles also had arms and claws attached to membranous wings (cf. Lyons and Butt, 2008, pp. 13-46). Though scientists believe these flying reptiles mainly walked upright, at the very least their “hands” would have been used for climbing trees and handling food (Zimmer)—they would have used “all fours.” While we certainly believe that the “four-footed-fowl” difficulty surrounding Leviticus 11:20 is merely a translation problem, and not a mistake by the inspired writer, some flying mammals and reptiles currently have (or had in the past) four limbs.]


All flying insects that creep on all fours shall be an abomination to you. Yet these you may eat of every flying insect that creeps on all fours: those which have jointed legs above their feet with which to leap on the earth. These you may eat: the locust after its kind, the destroying locust after its kind, the cricket after its kind, and the grasshopper after its kind. But all other flying insects which have fourfeet shall be an abomination to you (Leviticus 11:20-23, emp. added).
Skeptics admit that Leviticus 11:20 is not referring to four-legged fowl, but to “flying insects.” However, as critics have repeatedly noted, insects have sixlegs, not four. About these verses, Dennis McKinsey asked: “Whoever heard of four-legged insects? In fact, whoever heard of any four-legged creeping things that fly?” (1995, p. 213). He then listed this alleged discrepancy as another “superb verse to use” when talking with Christians about the blunders in the Bible (pp. 749,14). Steve Wells, author of The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, wrote mockingly: “You’d think that since God made the insects, and so many of them (at least several million species), that he would know how many legs they have” (2009). In her article titled “Scientific Errors in the Bible,” Loren Petrich declared: “There are...scientific difficulties in the Bible.... In the part of Leviticus which lists proscribed animals, we find that...grasshoppers have four legs.... [B]ut the number of legs possessed by grasshoppers should have been easy to find, since several people in the Bible reportedly ate grasshoppers, and one can always count the number of legs a grasshopper has before eating one” (1990). Farrell Till had much to say about the wording of Leviticus 11:20-23 in his article about “Bible Biology”:
Many of the biological mistakes in the Bible were anatomical in nature. The Leviticus writer...was so unobservant, for example, that he apparently thought insects were four-legged creatures....
An immensely greater problem than linguistic and translation flaws in this passage is the fact that whoever wrote it consistently referred to winged insects as four-legged creatures, a mistake that practically any modern-day elementary student would know better than to make. What educated person today doesn’t know that insects have six legs? We have to wonder why God, who so routinely gave scientific insights to his inspired writers, couldn’t at least have opened the eyes of his earthly messenger in this case and had him count the legs on a grasshopper....
What is there about insects that would warrant writing a description (like the one in the Leviticus passage) that mentions only four of their six legs?...[T]hese insects don’t “go on all fours”; they go on all sixes. That’s a strange oversight from an author writing under the direction of an omniscient deity who routinely gave marvelous scientific insights to his inspired
crew (1991b).
As one can see, critics of the Bible’s inerrancy are not at a loss for words when they discuss the Bible’s references to insects that “creep on all fours.” But are the critics right?
Yes and no. The skeptic is right to conclude that insects such as locusts, grasshoppers, and crickets have three pairs of legs, not two pairs. But the skeptic is not correct in assuming that God or the Bible writers were unaware of this fact. The very idea that the Israelites, who during various plagues saw untold millions of insects at a time (e.g., locusts; cf. Exodus 10:1-20; Joel 1:4; Amos 4:9), were clueless about how many legs these creatures had, is outlandish—“people in biblical times could count legs just as easily as people today” (Hutchinson, 2007, p. 57). As Petrich mentioned, the Israelites not only saw insects, but they ate them (cf. Mark 1:6; Leviticus 11:22), which means they would have seen them “up close and personal.” Are we to believe that when the Israelites caught, cleaned, and put locusts up to their mouths, they never realized how many legs these insects had? The writer of Leviticus would have known this as surely as Americans know that beef comes from cows which walk on four legs.
So why did Moses use the term “four” to describe creatures with six legs? Likely for the same reason we refer to certain arthropods as having 100 or 1,000, legs—Moses was using a colloquial expression like one might hear on a farm; he was not writing a technical, scientific paper on the anatomy of insects. Idiomatic expressions were as prevalent in ancient times as they are in modern times. Today, we identify certain creatures as centipedes (meaning “hundred feet”), yet the “total number of legs in most species is closer to 30 than to 100” (“Millipedes and Centipedes,” 2008). We refer to other arthropods as millipedes (meaning “thousand feet”), but no millipede has ever been reported as having anywhere near the number of feet suggested by its name. The “most leggy” millipede discovered in modern times had only 750 legs (see “Most Leggy...,” 2006), while the vast majority of millipedes have fewer than 400 legs (“Millipede,” 2009). Yet, we still call these creatures millipedes. Why? Because numbers are often used as more of a designation than a literal number. (Have you ever purchased a “2 x 4” only to find that it was more like a “1½ x 3½”?) Just as the terms “centipede” and “millipede” signify “no more than that such insects have a great number of feet” (Clarke, 1996), the phrase “creep on all fours,” could reasonably refer to something other than insects that have literally only four legs.
Consider another example of the flexibility of names and numbers. In George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm (1946), the pigs gave the farm animals “Seven Commandments.” The first two commandments were as follows: (1) Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy; (2) Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.” Later, as the story goes, when the pigs realized that the “slower” animals (e.g., sheep) were unable to learn the Seven Commandments, they summed up the commandments of the farm with a single maxim: “Four legs good, two legs bad.” Did the pigs suddenly mean to exclude the birds from the good, four-legged animals? No. The pigs explained that by “two legs,” they meant “man,” and by “four legs,” they meant “animal” (regardless of whether the animals had four legs, or two legs and two wings).
The skeptic must admit the fact that numbers often represent something more than a literal number. But if this is the explanation to Moses’ use of the term “four” in Leviticus 11:20-23, then what did he mean? Why did he use the expression “winged creeping things that go upon all fours” (Leviticus 11:20, ASV, emp. added)? The fact is, he did not define the expression for us (though his contemporaries surely knew its meaning). The phrase likely means that, in contrast to birds (listed just previously—Leviticus 11:13-19), which walk upright, “winged creeping things” walk horizontally—they “go upon all fours.” Skeptics cannot argue with the fact that we often use similar language. If Farrell Till, Steve Wells, or other Bible critics have ever referred to centipedes and millipedes, one wonders why they would have a problem with Moses referring to the flying things that walk horizontally as “winged creeping things that go upon all fours.”


What does it say about skepticism when one of its leading voices over the last few decades gives four “superb” examples of Bible discrepancies that are then logically explained rather easily using everyday, common sense? McKinsey and others claim to “take enlightenment to the biblically benighted” (2000, p. 14) with the type of “discrepancies” discussed in this article. However, it is the skeptic who needs to be enlightened concerning the simple, easy-to-understand truths of God’s Word. Yes, even those statements about bats, birds, and bugs, rabbits, rodents, and rumination, are truthful, defensible, and understandable.
All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it (John 1:3-5).
For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light (John 3:20-21).


Brand, Leonard (1977), “Do Rabbits Chew the Cud?” Origins, 4(2):102-104, [On-line], URL: http://www.grisda.org/origins/04102.htm.
Brown, Francis, S.R. Driver, and Charles B. Briggs (1993), A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Butt, Kyle (2007), Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Cansdale, George (1970), All the Animals of the Bible Lands (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Clarke, Adam (1996), Adam Clarke’s Commentary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Day, Alfred Ely (1996), “Coney,” International Standard Bible Encyclopae-
 (Electronic Database Biblesoft).
Dungan, D.R. (1888), Hermeneutics (Delight, AR: Gospel Light, reprint).
Gallup, George Jr. and Michael Lindsay (1999), Surveying the Religious Landscape: Trends in U.S. Beliefs (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing).
Harris, R. Laird (1990), Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Harris, R. Laird, Gleason Archer, Jr. and Bruce Waltke, eds. (1980), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago, IL: Moody).
“Human Rabies Often Caused by Undetected, Tiny Bat Bites” (2002), Science Daily, [On-line], URL: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/05/020506074445.htm.
Hutchinson, Robert (2007), The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Bible (Washington, D.C.: Regnery).
Jones, Edwin (no date), “Bats,” Stewardship Forest, [On-line], URL: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/forestry/pdf/www/www21.pdf.
Kaiser, Walter C. Jr., Peter H. Davids, F.F. Bruce, and Manfred T. Brauch (1996), Hard Sayings of the Bible (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press).
Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch (1996), Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament (Electronic Database: Biblesoft), new updated edition.
Khalil, Ibrahim (2007), “The Bat in Bible and Quran,” [On-line], URL: http://www.articlesbase.com/science-articles/the-bat-in-bible-and-quran-113198.html.
Linnaeus, Carolus (1735), Systema Naturae.
Lyons, Eric (2005), The Anvil Rings: Answers to Alleged Bible Discrepancies (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2008), The Dinosaur Delusion: Dismantling Evolution’s Most Cherished Icon (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
MacRae, Allen A. (1953), “The Scientific Approach to the Old Testament—Part 2,” Bibliotheca Sacra, 110[438]:130-139, April.
McKinsey, C. Dennis (1995), The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy (Amherst, NY: Prometheus).
McKinsey, C. Dennis (2000), Biblical Errancy (Amherst, NY: Prometheus).
“Millipede” (2009), [On-line], URL: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/invertebrates/arthropod/Millipede.shtml.
“Millipedes and Centipedes” (2008), University of California Integrated Pest Management, [On-line], URL: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7472.html.
Morgan, Donald (2009), “Bible Absurdities,” [On-line], URL: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/donald_morgan/absurd.html.
“Most Leggy Millipede Rediscovered” (2006), BBC News, June 8, [On-line], URL: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/5052966.stm.
Orwell, George (1946), Animal Farm, [On-line], URL: http://www.george-orwell.org/Animal_Farm/index.html.
Petrich, Loren (1990), “Scientific Errors in the Bible,” [On-line], URL: http://www.skepticfiles.org/atheist/genesisd.htm.
“Ruminant” (2009), Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, [On-line], URL: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary.
Sarfati, Jonathan (1998), “Do Rabbits Chew their Cud?” Creation, 20[4]:56, September.
“Synecdoche” (2009), Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, [On-line], URL: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary.
Till, Farrell (1990), “What about Scientific Foreknowledge in the Bible?” The Skeptical Review, July-August, [On-line], URL: http://www.theskepticalreview.com/tsrmag/4scien90.html.
Till, Farrell (1991a), “Scientific Boo-Boos in the Bible,” The Skeptical Review, January-February, [On-line], URL: http://www.theskepticalreview.com/tsrmag/1boobo91.html.
Till, Farrell (1991b), “Bible Biology,” The Skeptical Review, March-April, [On-line], URL: http://www.theskepticalreview.com/tsrmag/2biolo91.html.
Wells, Steve (2009), Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, [On-line], URL: http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/.
Wenham, Gordon (1979), The Book of Leviticus (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Zimmer, Carl (1994), “Masters of an Ancient Sky,” Discover, February 1, [On-line], URL: http://discovermagazine.com/1994/feb/mastersofanancie333.

Did Solomon Err in Proverbs 6:7? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Did Solomon Err in Proverbs 6:7?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? (Proverbs 6:6-9).
Some have charged the Bible with error because Solomon stated that ants have no “captain, overseer, or ruler”—when “everyone knows” that ants have a queen. As with most allegations leveled against the inspiration of the Bible, a little study and deeper examination beneath the surface would dispel such premature assessments.
First, observe that the first of the three Hebrew terms in verse 7, rendered “captain” in the NKJV, refers to a magistrate or military leader—a person in authority who is the decider.1 The NASB and RSV render the term “chief,” the KJV has “guide,” while the NIV renders it “commander.” The second term, rendered “overseer” in the NKJV, refers to an “official, officer” or “magistrate”2—those who oversee the work of others. The third word means to “rule, have dominion over.”3 Clearly, all three terms used by Solomon in verse 7 connote the exertion of authority over others via guiding, commanding, overseeing, and ruling. These terms certainly characterize the function of most human queens.
Second, one must realize that mere humans—perhaps early entomologists or other naturalists—were responsible for assigning the term “queen” to one particular ant in an ant colony. As we’ve just noted, in the conventional sense of the term, a queen is a ruler who wields absolute power over her subjects. Whatever hierarchy exists between herself and her subjects, all are ultimately subject to her directives, guidance, and oversight of her kingdom. However, a study of life in an ant colony quickly reveals that the queen does not function as a “queen” in the conventional sense of that word. She does not govern, rule, direct, oversee, make decisions, or lead the colony. Keller and Gordon note: “there is neither a central authority at work here nor any hierarchy among the workers. Work arrangements depend entirely on individual initiatives within a system of self-organization.”4 Another writer elaborates: “Indeed, strictly speaking, ant-hives are republics—each individual having their own special office, and each performing it with assiduous diligence.”5
So why have researchers acquiesced to the term “queen”? Because the entire colony depends on her for their existence since she does only one thing: lay eggs. That’s it. Her “job is to lay eggs.”6 She is their progenitor—not leader: “Once she settles in and begins laying eggs, that’s all she does for the rest of her life.”7 Her importance is seen in that the colony would die out if she did not produce more ants. But that function does not accurately translate into her being thought of as a “queen.” No wonder that, toward the end of the 19th century, “some writers had dispensed with the term ‘queen’ altogether, finding it an inappropriate term to describe the founding female of the nest.”8 She wields no apparent authority, makes no decisions for the rest of the colony, or exercises control over them. The term “mother” is more apropos and descriptive of her actual role. As noted 19th-century naturalist and Vice President of both the American Entomological Society and the Academy of Natural Sciences, Henry McCook, explained: “Her queenhood is wholly fanciful, except in the first stages of her independent career. Her motherhood is the great fact of life to her and her fellows. It is as a mother that she is the destined foundress of a new community.”9
Third, a return to the context quickly clarifies Solomon’s point. The context shows that Solomon is addressing the problem of laziness. Ants do not have overlords or bosses that stand over them and direct their activity or keep them working. Instead of sleeping the day away and avoiding work, ants manifest initiative and industry. They do so without coercion from a hierarchy of authority or power. Instead, they manifest remarkable independence and individual responsibility. They do what needs to be done for the survival of the colony without a boss standing over them. So there is no error on Solomon’s part. In fact, his emphatic declaration, coupled with the reinforcement of not one but three specific descriptive terms (“captain,” “overseer,” “ruler”), only adds additional credence to the divine origin of Solomon’s remarks. The surface appearance of error is strictly due to the uninspired selection of the term “queen” to refer to the female ant that is responsible for egg production.


1 Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs (1906), The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2004 reprint), p. 892; William Gesenius (1847), Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1979 reprint), p. 738.
2 Brown, Driver, and Briggs, p. 1009; Gesenius, p. 517.
3 Brown, Driver, and Briggs, p. 605; Gesenius, p. 817.
4 Laurent Keller and Elisabeth Gordon (2009), The Lives of Ants (Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp. 57-58.
5 “Natural History: The Ant, or Emmet” in James Hogg, ed. (1852), Hogg’s Instructor (Edinburgh: James Hogg), 9:246.
6 “Insects” (2000), Exploring Life Science (Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish Corporation), 6:439, https://apologeticspress.page.link/Exploring-Life-Science.
7 L. Patricia Kite (2001), Insect Facts and Folklore (Brookfield, CT: The Millbrook Press), p. 10.
8 Charlotte Sleigh (2003), Ant (London: Reaktion Books), p. 79.
9 Henry McCook (1909), Ant Communities and How They are Governed (New York: Harper & Brothers), p. 157. Cf. Lori Lach, Catherine Parr, and Kirsti Abbott (2010), Ant Ecology (Oxford: Oxford University Press).