Your car is bigger than my car

Often when you're reading the Bible you'll come across something odd. It's always worth pausing with these for a few minutes and following a marginal reference or two, because you never know what you might stumble upon.

Regular reading trumps marginal references though. People are very good at pattern matching; so good in fact, that they will often see patterns where there are none. This post is about a connection that you'd be more likely to spot as a regular reader than a margin-follower.

Having spotted a connection it is important to maintain a healthy skepticism until the balance of evidence can be weighed. Almost everyone has heard a speaker expound a pet theory via a series of tenuous connections, a practise which only serves to cast doubt on the veracity of perfectly valid beliefs that the same individual also holds.

We'll start with the oddity though, because that's the point in Scripture where you'd be most likely to stop and reflect:

"So Moses took the carts and the oxen, and gave them to the Levites. Two carts and four oxen he gave to the sons of Gershon, according to their service; and four carts and eight oxen he gave to the sons of Merari, according to their service, under the authority of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest." - Numbers 7v6-8, NKJV

If you had 6 carts and 12 oxen to divide by 2, the obvious split is 3 carts and 6 oxen apiece. Why would you do anything different?

I don't have a margin which took my anywhere useful with this passage, but perhaps you have. Instead, it's the regular reader who has the advantage because the solution is found 3 chapters previous in Numbers 4, where we find out what these two families had to carry in their carts:

"...[the sons of Gershon] shall carry the curtains of the tabernacle and the tabernacle of meeting with its covering, the covering of badger skins that is on it, the screen for the door of the tabernacle of meeting, the screen for the door of the gate of the court, the hangings of the court which are around the tabernacle and altar, and their cords, all the furnishings for their service..." - Numbers 4v25-26, NKJV

The families of Gershon were responsible for transporting curtains, skins, hangings, cords and the like. The vast majority of material here is fabric. Contrast that to what the sons of Merari was tasked with carrying:

"And this is what [the sons of Merari] must carry as all their service for the tabernacle of meeting: the boards of the tabernacle, its bars, its pillars, its sockets, and the pillars around the court with their sockets, pegs, and cords, with all their furnishings and all their service..." - Numbers 4v31-32, NKJV

Boards, long metal poles, standing pillars with sockets, pegs, and rope. Many of these items are made of wood, but there are also a significant number of solid metal blocks.

They split the carts 2/4 because the things Merari had to look after were heavier, and they needed 4 carts to distribute the load.

It's hard to see how such a record could be produced without someone actually having the problem of carting around various articles of the Tabernacle. You couldn't forge this sort of detail if you tried.

Since I was introduced to this connection (reading the Bible with other people trumps your own connections and marginal cross-references!) I've been assured that it's one of many similar ones from Blunt's Undesigned Scriptural Coincidences. One for the reading list, methinks.

Let me know of any other coincidences via Facebook or Twitter!

Photo credit: Majed Sahli via photopin cc

Nathan

Bible enthusiast, husband, Dad, and tech-head with too many projects and not enough time.