I’m a big science fiction and fantasy fan. If I had my own library, it would be full of this genre of books, in addition to films. Every time we sit down to read a fictional book or see a fictional program we’re required to suspend our disbelief. Even though we know there are no such things as hobbits or elves, when we sit down and watch The Lord of the Rings we don’t expect to see evidence of a car in a scene. We want to enjoy the fantasy. However, when we suspend our disbelief we enter into an unspoken agreement with the makers of what we’re watching. We will suspend our disbelief, and they will make certain not to ruin it by showing something real or otherwise out of place with the film. Now, this isn’t isolated to science fiction and fantasy. If we’re watching a historical film set during the American Civil War, we don’t want to see someone wearing a modern-day watch or sporting Ray-Ban sunglasses. However, mistakes do happen, and when they do, they disrupt our unbelief and possibly ruin whatever it is we are watching. 

These types of errors in film have to do with continuity and don’t always include something from out of time, but they are typically out of place. Our hero has a scar on his right cheek in one scene, and in the next, it’s on his left, and then it’s back where it should be later. These types of issues can be amusing or, as I said, they can ruin what we’re watching, which is ironic because what’s being ruined is a state of disbelief. 

It’s a little different when we’re reading a book. If we happen to notice something out of place in a book, we have a tendency to be more forgiving. At least I am. However, when we read the Bible, we know what we are reading is the inspired word of God, so any “errors” we discover are always on us. What do we do when we encounter something “out of place” in the Bible? Do we acknowledge the sovereignty of God and just move on? Usually, if we notice an inconsistency in the Bible, it’s with two or more verses that seem to contradict. In such cases, we can go review the verses and discover our errors. What if we don’t find our errors? What if we just move on? 

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)

In 1 Peter 5, the Apostle Peter is talking about how to handle our anxiety while in the world when he said we should be of sober mind because the devil is looking to destroy people who are unaware. Earlier in this same letter, Peter gives us this charge.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)

As Christians, we ought to be able to tell people why we have hope in Christ, and I’m certain most of us know and are prepared. However, are you prepared for the person who doesn’t really care about your hope in Christ, but wants to destroy your faith by pointing out “contradictions” in the Bible? What about the person who has an earnest question and wants to know more? We could say we’re not equipped to handle such questions and move on. In some cases, this might be the best choice. Especially if you’re dealing with someone who doesn’t really want to hear your answer; like a person seeking to destroy your faith. However, in the second case, where there’s an earnest desire to know, we should do our best to answer if we know the answer. If we don’t we should try and find out. 

Such is the case with this verse from Acts.

After this, Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family, seventy-five in all.

Acts 7:14 (NIV)

Before Stephen is martyred in Acts, he gives a short history of the Israelites from Abraham to the present day. In Acts 7:14, he states that seventy-five relatives of Jacob settled in Egypt. However, we are told something different in Genesis.

With the two sons who had been born to Joseph in Egypt, the members of Jacob’s family, which went to Egypt, were seventy in all.

Genesis 46:27 (NIV)

Most English translations I’ve read have no footnote on Acts 7:14, nor is there a reference to the Old Testament that says where this information came from. Most Bibles should have a footnote for Genesis 46:27 telling you that the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) states there were seventy-five people. That might be good enough for some people. Usually, when I read a footnote that tells me a verse is slightly different between translations, I don’t give it much thought. I’ll check for missed verses when I see them, but that’s about it. 

However, this is a special case because about two million people came from these seventy or seventy-five people in over 400 years. I’m not going to get into population growth maps and such because all someone would have to do if they didn’t believe this would point out the difference between Genesis 46:27 and Acts 7:14. We could tell them the Septuagint states there were seventy-five people but who were these people? Genesis 46 outlines all of the people included in Genesis 46:27, and when we add them up, it’s not seventy-five. 

The Septuagint adds five people. Machir, Galaad, Sutalaam, Taam, and Edom. The sons of Manasseh and Ephraim, as well as, the son of Sutalaam in Genesis 46:20.

And there were sons born to Joseph in the land of Egypt, whom Aseneth, the daughter of Petephres, priest of Heliopolis, bore to him, Manasses and Ephraim. And there were sons born to Manasses, which the Syrian concubine bore to him, Machir. And Machir begot Galaad. And the sons of Ephraim, the brother of Manasses; Sutalaam, and Taam. And the sons of Sutalaam; Edom.

Genesis 46:20 (LXX)

Most of our English translations of the Old Testament do not come from the Septuagint. Why would they? That would be a translation path from Hebrew to Greek and then English. 

When Stephen said there were seventy-five people, he didn’t make a mistake. He had read the Septuagint version, which adds these other members of Jacob’s family to the list, while most of the Old Testament versions we read were translated from the original Hebrew. The Septuagint didn’t just make up the extra five people. We can read about them in Numbers 26:29-37. 

Is there a contradiction? The short answer is no. What did Moses originally write? From my research, we can glean that Moses probably wrote that there were seventy people because he chose not to make the five additions. When the Septuagint was created, those translators chose to include those five people. Both cases are true. Machir, Galaad, Sutalaam, Taam, and Edom were Jacob’s descendants. Why did the Septuagint include them when Moses did not? We don’t know. Both versions are true, so there’s no contradiction.

It’s important when we run into something we don’t understand in the Bible we find the answer. If not for ourselves, then for those we might encounter later on who have the same questions. If nothing else, these types of issues can build up our faith. 

Do you know God? God knows you, and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away. 

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart, and I receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.