Numbers 1:1—How could Moses have written Numbers when critics claim it was written centuries after his death?

Problem: Many modern critics claim that Moses did not write the first five books of the Bible traditionally attributed to him (see comments on Ex. 24:4). But the Bible declares here that “the Lord spoke to Moses” (1:1) and that “Moses wrote down” the events of this book (33:2).

Solution: The critics have no real evidence for their claim, either historical or literary. The fact that Moses used different names for God (Elohim, Jehovah [Yahweh]) is no proof. Each name of God informs us of another characteristic of God that fits the narrative in which it is used (see comments on Gen. 2:4).

Furthermore, there is strong evidence that Moses wrote the Book of Numbers. First, there is all the evidence mentioned earlier (in comments on Ex. 24:4) that the book reflects a detailed, first-hand knowledge of the time, places, and customs of the period it describesall of which Moses possessed.

Second, the book claims to have been written by Moses (1:1; 33:2). This would make the book an outright fraud, unless Moses is really its rightful author.

Third, there are a number of NT citations from the Book of Numbers which are associated with Moses (Acts 7; 13; 1 Cor. 10:2–8; Heb. 3:7–16). If Moses did not write Numbers, then these inspired NT books would be in error too.

Fourth, our Lord quoted from Numbers and verified that it was indeed Moses who lifted up the serpent in the wilderness (John 3:14; cf. Num. 21:9). This places the stamp of Christ’s authority on the authenticity of the question.

See All Problems

This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.