Thursday, March 31, 2016

Doctrine - Creation according to Muhammad - Heavens and Earth (Part 2)

This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.
Muhammad gives us two completely different accounts of the actual creation of the heavens and the Earth. In the first account we see all of creation tied up in a ball.
"Have not the unbelievers [infidels] then beheld that the heavens and the earth were [both] a [solid] mass all sewn up, and then We unstitched them and of water fashioned [gave life to] every living thing? Will they not believe? And We set in the earth firm mountains lest it should shake with them, and We set in it ravines [broad passages] to serve as ways, that haply so they may be guided; and We set up the heaven as a roof well-protected; yet still from Our signs they are turning away." (Koran 21:31-33)
In this account of creation, Muhammad teaches us that everything was formed by water. We do know that in the Jewish and Christian accounts of creation, somethings were formed out of water. Peter says that, "by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water." (2 Peter 3:5-6) However, not everything that was made was formed out of water. Of the animals it is said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind." (Genesis 1:24) Thus they came froth from the Earth and not water. Also, of man it is said, "Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." (Genesis 2:7) Clearly, man was formed from the dust of the ground, not from water.

In Muhammad's second version of creation we see the primordial creation existing as a dispersed smoke or cloud.
"Then He lifted [applied] Himself to heaven when it was smoke, and said to it and to the earth, "Come willingly [in obedience], or unwillingly [against your will]!" They said, "We come willingly [obedient]." So He determined [made] them as seven heavens in two days, and revealed its commandment [office] in every heaven.'" (Koran 41:10-11)
There are several things that are of interest in this version of creation. First we see again the claim of two days of creation, as opposed to the traditional six days. Secondly is that God assigns morality to inert matter. He does this when His command implies an option to obey or disobey. However, it was only mankind into whom God breathed a living soul and it is in the soul that we find our will and our ability to choose either good or evil. Inert matter lacks a soul and thus is amoral; lacking the ability to choose. Thirdly Muhammad assigns to inert matter a part in God's creation. God did not just command matter, matter chose to respond. The creation was a partnership between the commanding of God and the working of matter. However, matter lacks life and is unable to respond. Also, it was not matter who was made in the image of God but mankind. Part of that image is that we are creators like God is a creator. However, matter does not share in that image of God. Finally, we see that from the beginning, Muhammad's God is a God of commands and threats, that His authority and kingdom expands by fear and not love. This view of God, as being harsh, exacting, and threatening, is woven through all the teachings of Muhammad.

As innovative as these two differing versions of creation are, neither of them conform to the Jewish account of creation. In the scriptures we are simply told, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1) This creation was out of nothing, not from some smoke or some tied-up ball of something. It does say that the Earth lacked form and organization, however, it does not say the same for the heavens or the rest of creation. "The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters." (Genesis 1:2) What exactly is meant by such language is unclear and uncertain, but it would be hard to construe its description as being smoke or a tied-up ball. Finally, the main means of creation was not by threatening or unstitching, but by speaking. "Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light." (Genesis 1:3) God did not threaten the light with a command, He simply spoke and light appeared.

In viewing all of creation, Muhammad says,
"Certainly the creation of the heavens and earth is greater than the creation of men; but most men know it not." (Koran 40:59)
But greater in what since? God loves all that is good and everything He has created is good, but His special care is not on creation as a whole, but upon mankind in particular. This present heavens and Earth are not eternal. One day, even as Muhammad says, they will come to an end.
"On the day when We shall roll up heaven as a scroll is rolled for the writings; as We originated [made] the first creation, so We shall bring it back [forth] again -- a promise binding on Us; so We shall do." (Koran 21:104)
With the destruction of the old, God will create a new heavens and a new Earth, "in which righteousness dwells." (2 Peter 3:13) This new creation God will make for mankind, not for anything else from the previous creation. Furthermore, it was only man that was made in the image of God, not the heavens or the Earth, only mankind. While one could say that the creation of the heavens and the Earth, in scope and grandeur, are greater than the creation of man, certainly, in relation to their special creation and special relationship with God, mankind was the greatest of all His creations. All God did, all He made, and all He sacrificed was for the sake of mankind. We are, to Him, the center of His creation.

More to come...
David Robison

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Doctrine - Creation according to Muhammad - Heavens and Earth (Part 1)

This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.
The Koran, in describing the creation of the heavens and the earth, is at variance with the Jewish scriptures in many points. First is the reckoning of the number of days of creation. In most places, the Koran assigns six days to the days of creation.
"Surely your Lord is God, who created the heavens and the earth in six days -- then sat Himself upon [mounted] the Throne," (Koran 7:52)
"God is He that created the heavens and the earth, and what between them is, in six days, then seated Himself upon the [ascended his] Throne." (Koran 32:3)
However, in other verses, the number is either two or four.
"What, do you disbelieve in Him who created the earth in two days, and do you set up compeers to Him [assign Him peers]? And He set therein [on Earth] firm mountains [tower] over it, and He blessed it, and He ordained therein its diverse sustenance in four days, equal to those who ask [for the cravings of all alike]." (Koran 41:8-9)
One could argue that Muhammad was indicating that the actual creation of the Earth took two days and the creation of everything upon the earth took four, thus making up the six days total. However, either way, this does not match with the Jewish timeline of creation. On day one God created the heavens and the Earth, at least in their basic form.
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day." (Genesis 1:1-5)
As for the rest of the six days, on day two God created the atmosphere that separated the waters below from the waters above. "God called the expanse heaven." (Genesis 1:8) In day three He separated the waters from the land and caused vegetation to grow. On day four He separated the lights in the sky into the sun, moon, and starts. On day five He created all animal life upon the Earth. Finally, on day six, He created mankind. In such a timeline, it is hard to reconcile the statements of Muhammad into just two days for the creation of the Earth and four days for the things on the earth. In the Judaic story, when did the creation of the Earth end and the creation of those things things on Earth begin? Day one, day two, day three, or day four? One could argue for day one, since it says in that day God created the earth, or one could argue for day three, since that is when land appeared and the first life appeared on the Earth. Either way, day two does not seem like a logical day to pick for the completion of the creation of Earth. Furthermore, such a delineation into two and four days is not made anywhere in the Judaic or Christian scriptures.

Muhammad goes on to teach that God, in creating the heavens, actually created seven heavens.
"And We created above you seven ways [heavens]" (Koran 23:7)
"And We have built above you seven strong ones [solid heavens]" (Koran 78:12)
"who created seven heavens one upon another." (Koran 67:3)
In fact, in one verse, Muhammad also alludes to the possibility of seven Earths below corresponding to the seven heavens above.
"It is God who created seven heavens, and of earth their like [and as many earths]." (Koran 65:12)
Unfortunately, Muhammad does not define what these seven heavens are. The idea of multiple heavens can be seen in the Book of Genesis when God refers to the creation of heaven in the plural. "In the beginning God created the heavens."(Genesis 1:1) Heaven, as a term is rather imprecise as it could mean our atmosphere, the realms of outer space, and the place where God lives. In this simple example we could construct three heavens that appear in tiers, or levels, one upon the other. This is what Paul could have been referring to when he said, "I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago — whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows — such a man was caught up to the third heaven." (2 Corinthians 12:2

It is also possible that Muhammad was including in these seven heavens the orbital systems of the planets; each planet making up a level of heaven by its orbit and each planet being the earth that is "its like." In this case, the planets could have been Earth, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn or some other collections of planets, the moon, and the Sun. However, such a composition of "heavens" being built "one upon another" would have necessitated the Earth being the center of their orbits, something which we now know to be untrue. We could excuse Muhammad in his error noting that he was not an astronomer, but we cannot excuse him in his insistence of receiving this information, word-for word, directly from God the creator. It is interesting that neither the Jewish or Christian scriptures stipulate such a system of heavens as being based on direct revelation from God. Also, such an interpretation is further complicated by Muhammad's references to the lower heavens.
"We have adorned the lower heaven with the adornment of the stars and to preserve [guard] against every rebel Satan; [That] they listen [overhear] not to the High Council, for they are pelted [darted at] from every side, rejected [driven off], and theirs is an everlasting chastisement [torment]," (Koran 37:6-9)
"And We adorned the lower [lowest] heaven with lamps [lights], and made them things [placed theme there] to stone [to be hurled at the] Satans; and We have prepared for them the chastisement [torment] of the Blaze [flaming fire]." (Koran 67:5)
In other verses, Muhammad assigns the air, birds, and rains to the heavens as well. Taking all these verses in total, it is hard to determine exactly what Muhammad meant by the seven heaves, their layered order, and their composition. However, regardless, no where does the Jewish or Christian scriptures speak of seven heavens.

It is also interesting to note that Muhammad, in describing the lower heavens, says that they were made as a defense against Satans, lest they should listen in on the counsel of heaven, and that God provided stones (maybe hail?) to pelt them with lest they should come too close. All this before mankind was created and sin entered into the world. However, the Jewish scriptures record that, "God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good." (Genesis 1:31) To me, necessity of defenses and stones for pelting Satans seem less that good and makes us wonder about a God who created the heavens and the Earth with sin in mind. It is interesting to note that in the list of things created, from the Jewish scriptures, hell is not included. It seems that it was either created later, after sin arrived, or altered from its original intent or purpose to serve its purpose of eternal punishment. "The eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels." (Matthew 25:41)

Muhammad also intimates as to the weight of heaven; that it is always pressing down upon us and would crush us if God permitted.
"Hast thou not seen how that God has subjected to you all that is in the earth and the ships to run upon the sea at His commandment, and He holds back heaven lest it should fall upon the earth, save by His leave?" (Koran 22:64)
Here is is uncertain which of the seven heavens Muhammad is referring to, or if he is referring to all of them together. However, God has designed the world to exist in harmony and balance. The idea of God standing in the way of our destruction from His own creations, while present in the Koran, is foreign to the language and faith of both the Jewish and Christian scriptures. The truth is that God has designed the heavens to float above the Earth. This is a statement of His wisdom in creation, not His strength to hold them up.

More to come...
David Robison

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

History - The fictional stories of Muhammad - Jesus

This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.
Later, we will look deeper into the doctrinal issues surrounding Jesus and who He was as taught by the Koran, but here we will focus our attention on some of the historical elements of Jesus' life as told by Muhammad. One of the more interesting stories of Jesus infancy, as told in the Koran, was that He was able to speak from His very birth. The Koran records a prophesy saying,
"When the angels said, 'Mary, God gives thee good tidings of a Word from Him [God announceth to the the Word from Him] whose name is [shall be] Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary; high honoured [illustrious] shall he be in this world and the next, near stationed [one of those who have near access] to God. He shall speak to men [when] in the cradle, and of age [grown up], and righteous he shall be.'" (Koran 3:40-41)
This ability to speak was used to rebuke those who accused Mary of fornication in the conception and birth of Jesus. After giving birth, Mary returned from the remote place she had gone to to have the baby, whereupon her relatives met her and chided her for her unchastity.
"Then she brought the child to her folk carrying him; and they said, 'Mary, thou hast surely committed a monstrous [strange] thing! Sister of Aaron, thy father was not a wicked man, nor was thy mother a woman unchaste.' Mary pointed to the child then [she made a sign to them]; but they said, 'How shall we speak to one who is still in the cradle, a little child [infant]?' He said, 'Lo, I am God's servant; God has given me the Book, and made me a Prophet." (Koran 19:28-31)
No where in the Jewish scriptures is there any prophesy that the Messiah would have the power to speak while an infant and no where in the Christian scriptures does it say that Jesus ever did so. It is also important to know that none of the apostles, the disciples of Christ, or anyone else ever adduce Christ's ability to speak as a child as proof of His divine nature and mission. It would seem that, if such a miracle did occur, then those who best knew of the miracle, that being Mary's relatives, would have often repeated it and believed the miracle and the virgin birth. However, later we see that many of Jesus' relatives did not believe in Him, including His own brothers. John notes that, "not even His brothers were believing in Him." (John 7:5)

The Koran contains another notable miracle of Jesus that is completely missing from the Christian account of His life.
"And He will teach him the Book, the Wisdom, the Torah, the Gospel, to be a Messenger to the Children of Israel saying, "I have come to you with a sign from your Lord. I will create for you out of clay as the likeness of a bird; then I will breathe into it, and it will be a bird, by the leave of God." (Koran 3:43)
"When God said, 'Jesus Son of Mary, remember My blessing [favor] upon thee and upon thy mother, when I confirmed [strengthened] thee with the Holy Spirit, to speak to men in the cradle, and of age; and when I taught thee the Book, the Wisdom, the Torah, the Gospel; and when thou createst out of clay, by My leave, as the likeness [figure] of a bird, and thou breathest into it, and it is a bird, by My leave; and thou healest the blind and the leper by My leave, and thou bringest the dead forth by My leave; and when restrained [I withheld] from thee the Children of Israel when thou camest unto them with the clear signs, and the unbelievers among them said, "This is nothing but sorcery manifest."'" (Koran 5:109-110)
Again, there is no prophesy in the Jewish scriptures that would establish the forming and giving life to a bird made out of clay as a clear sign of Jesus' ministry. There is also no account in the Christian scriptures of such a miracle ever having been performed. There is one ancient text, called "Infancy Gospel of Thomas," that does contain this miracle but its authorship is of questionable origin and it was never accepted by the early church as part of the canonical or authoritative writings of Jesus or His apostles. 

Finally, the Koran speaks of Jesus appointing apostles.
"O believers, be you God's helpers, as Jesus, Mary's son, said to the Apostles. 'Who will be my helpers unto God?' The Apostles said, 'We will be helpers of God.'" (Koran 61:14)
However, Jesus' prime motive if appointing apostles was not that they would be helpers of God, but that they might walk and learn from His and be His representatives in the World. "And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out the demons." (Mark 3:14-15) Jesus' intention with His disciples was not to turn their attention to a distant and disconnected God, but to turn their attention towards Himself for He Himself was God. He was calling them to join in and participate with His mission; to teach His message and to do His works. They were called to continue what Jesus started in this world after His death and resurrection. This calling of His apostles, and all believers and disciples, is found in the fact that Jesus was more than just a prophet or a messenger, He was God incarnate. We are all called to be His helpers and to join with Him in His mission in the Earth today.

David Robison

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

History - The fictional stories of Muhammad - Mary

This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.
The Koran begins the story of Mary with her conception and birth.
"When the wife of Imran said, 'Lord, I have vowed to Thee, in dedication, what is within my womb. Receive Thou this from me; Thou hearest, and knowest.' And when she gave birth to her she said, 'Lord, I have given birth to her, a female.' (And God knew very well what she had given birth to; the male is not as the female.) 'And I have named her Mary, and commend her to Thee with her seed, to protect them from the accursed Satan.'" (Koran 3:31)
In the Christian account of Mary, we know little about her family and her parents. We know she and Elizabeth were relatives for, in the angels' greeting to her, he says, "And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month." (Luke 1:36) The Greek word here translated as "relative" is often translated as "cousin" but can also mean some form of close of distant relative. We know that Elizabeth was the daughter of an Arron. "Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth." (Luke 1:5) This also means that Mary would have been somehow related to Aaron, probably the daughter of one of his children. It is unlikely, however, that Mary was the direct daughter of Aaron as the Koran stipulates. This is because we know that Elizabeth was and she and Mary were pregnant at the same time, yet Elizabeth was well advanced in years while marry was most likely still a teenager. It is more probable that Mary and Elizabeth were Aunt and Niece rather than sisters or cousins. There is also no indication n the Christian scriptures that there was any premonition of Mary's significance before her conception by the Holy Spirit. The Koran seems to indicate that Mary's mother knew she was special and she was special because of her seed that would follow. All parents believe their children are special, but there is no indication that Mary's mother knew that her seed would be special in the way He was. Finally, I find it amusing that Muhammad added the parenthetical thought that God already knew she had given birth to a female because female babies look different from male babies. It seems to me God would have known simply by knowing and without having to look at the child.

Muhammad further speaks of Mary's family when he records the words of her relatives that came to condemn her for having a child outside of wedlock.
"Sister of Aaron, thy father was not a wicked man, nor was thy mother a woman unchaste.'" (Koran 19:29)
We have already shown that Elizabeth was the daughter of Aaron and therefore it is highly unlikely that Mary was the also the daughter of Aaron, making Elizabeth and Mary sisters, especially when considering the great disparity of their ages. Muhammad also records that Mary, for some reason, was not reared by her parents but by Elizabeth's husband, Zacharias.
"That is of the tidings of the Unseen, that We reveal to thee [Mohammad]; for thou wast not with them, when they were casting quills [lots and reeds] which of them should have charge [rear] of Mary; thou wast not with them, when they were disputing [about it]." (Koran 3:39)
"Her Lord received the child with gracious favour, and by His goodness she grew up comely, Zachariah taking charge of her." (Koran 3:32)
The Christian account give no indication that Mary was raised by anyone other than her parents and it is even more unlikely that it would have been Zacharias and Elizabeth. If they were her wards then there would have been no reason for Mary to travel to them when she first received the news of her conception. "Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth." (Luke 1:39-40) If she was being raised by them then she, being unmarried, would most likely have already been living with them.

Muhammad includes this miraculous story regarding Mary.
"Whenever Zachariah went in to her in the Sanctuary, he found her provisioned [supplied with food]. 'Mary,' he said, 'how comes this to thee?' 'From God,' she said. Truly God provisions [supplied] whomsoever He will without reckoning." (Koran 3:32)
This story seems to indicate that Mary resided, at least in part, in the sanctuary. However, no such story is recorded in the Christian scriptures nor is there any indication that Mary lived anywhere else than with her parents.

Muhammad relates the events of Mary's conception as follows,
"And mention in the Book Mary when she withdrew [went apart] from her people [family] to an eastern place [eastward], and she took a veil apart [to shroud herself from them] from them; then We sent unto her Our Spirit that presented himself [took the form] to her a [perfect] man without fault." (Koran 19:16-17)
However, the Christian account has Mary not withdrawing to the hill country until after she conceives as we have shown above. Also, there is no record that God appeared to Mary as a perfect man to impregnate her with Jesus. This would be tantamount to fornication regardless if the man she was having relations with was a spirit or a human being. When Mary asked how she was to conceive, the explanation from the angel was simply, "The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:35) There is no indication of the necessity of intercourse or the need for the image of a perfect man for Mary to conceive.

Muhammad goes on to describe Jesus birth.
"and We made [appointed] Mary's son, and his mother, to be a sign, and gave them refuge [abode] upon a height, where was a hollow and a spring:" (Koran 23:52)
"So she conceived him, and withdrew with him to a distant place. And the birthpangs surprised [came upon] her by the trunk of the palm-tree. She said, 'Would I had died ere this, and become a thing forgotten!'" (Koran 19:22-33)
However, the Christian scriptures are very clear regarding the events of Jesus' birth.
"Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." (Luke 2:4-7
Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem that the prophesies might be fulfilled that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. The scriptures also tell us that Jesus was born in a manger, not near a palm tree. Such a manger, at the time of Joseph and Mary, may have been a hollowed out cave or even a room attached to the house where animals were stabled during the night. Either way it was not a distant place nor besides a plan tree and not, as Muhammad claimed, in some elevated place.
"But the one that was below her called to her, 'Nay, do not sorrow; see, thy Lord has set below thee a rivulet [streamlet at thy feet]. Shake also to thee the palm-trunk [towards thee], and there shall come tumbling upon thee dates fresh and ripe. Eat therefore, and drink, and be comforted; and if thou shouldst see any mortal, say, "I have vowed to the All-merciful a fast [abstinence], and today I will not speak to any man." (Koran 19:24)
It is unclear who the "one below" was; whether it was the child Jesus, and angel, or just a passer by. Either way, there is no indication from the Christian scriptures that Jesus was born in an elevated place, that Mary was alone, that she was distressed by lack of food, that she stood near a plan tree at His birth, and that she had the strength to bend a palm tree and miraculously received a tumbling of fruit. In all of this there is very little agreement between the Koran and the Christian scriptures as it pertains to this story

More to come...
David Robison

Monday, March 21, 2016

History - The fictional stories of Muhammad - Zacharias and John

This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.
Zacharias was the father of John the Baptist. Both Zacharias and his wife, Elisabeth, were well advanced in years and they were childless. Zacharias was a priest and one day, while he was performing his priestly duties, God appeared to him and promised him a son. However, being so old, Zacharias wondered how this could be. The Koran records,
"'Lord,' said Zachariah, 'appoint to me a sign.' 'Thy sign,' God said, 'is that thou shalt not speak, save by tokens, to men for three days. And mention thy Lord oft, and give glory at evening and dawn.'" (Koran 3:36)
"He said, 'Lord, appoint to [vouchsafe] me some sign.' Said He, 'Thy sign is that thou shall not speak to men, though being without fault [though sound in health], three nights.'" (Koran 19:11)
However, in the Christian story, this sign was not given to Zacharias to bolster his faith but as a judgment on his unbelief. Also, his silence was to last until John was born, that being at least nine months away; a bit longer than the three days assigned in the Koran.
"Zacharias said to the angel, 'How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.' The angel answered and said to him, 'I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.'" (Luke 1:18-20)
Of John's birth, it is recorded in the Koran,
"'O John, take [receive] the Book forcefully [with purpose of heart]'; and We gave him judgment, yet a little child, and a tenderness from Us, and purity; and he was godfearing, and cherishing his parents, not arrogant, rebellious." (Koran 19:13)
It is unclear as to which "Book" Muhammad is referring to. The Koran and the Christian scriptures had yet to be written. It is possible that Muhammad was referring to the Jewish scriptures, but John came as the heralder and forerunner of a new covenant; one that was to supersede the old covenant and hearken back to the promises made to Abraham. The Koran also makes note of the prophesies made at John's birth.
"'Peace be upon him, the day he was born, and the day he dies, and the day he is raisedup alive!'" (Koran  19:15)
Certainly, John found peace on the day he was born and will find peace on the day of his resurrection, but the day of his death was another story. Herod had thrown a huge party and daughter of his wife Herodias danced before them. Her dancing pleased Herod's guests and he promised her anything she would ask for. Now Herodias hated John because he had opposed her marriage to Herod, being that she was once the wife of Herod's brother Philip. Unsure of what to ask for, the girl came to her mother Herodias and asked her advise.
"And she went out and said to her mother, 'What shall I ask for?' And she said, 'The head of John the Baptist.' Immediately she came in a hurry to the king and asked, saying, 'I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.' And although the king was very sorry, yet because of his oaths and because of his dinner guests, he was unwilling to refuse her. Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded him to bring back his head. And he went and had him beheaded in the prison, and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about this, they came and took away his body and laid it in a tomb." (Mark 6:24-29)
Not quite the peaceful death that Mohammad had promised.

More to come...
David Robison

Sunday, March 20, 2016

History - The fictional stories of Muhammad - King Solomon

This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.
The Koran teaches us three previously unknown facts about King Solomon. First, that he could control the wind.
"And to Solomon [we subjected] the wind, strongly blowing, that ran at his command [bidding] unto the land that We had blessed" (Koran 21:81)
"So We subjected to him the wind, that ran at his commandment, softly, wherever he might light on [wheresoever he directed it]" (Koran 38:35)
It seems that, perhaps, Muhammad confused Solomon with Jesus who, among all the people of the scriptures, was the only one ever recorded as being able to control the wind. The story was that Jesus and His disciples were crossing a lake when a huge storm arouse and was endangering the boat. The disciples were greatly worried while Jesus slept on a pillow in the front of the boat.
"They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, 'Master, Master, we are perishing!' And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. And He said to them, 'Where is your faith?' They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, 'Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?'" (Luke 8:24-25)
Their astonishment seems to belie the fact that they were unaware of anyone previously ever being able to command the wind, even Solomon. Furthermore, their statement "Who then is this..." seems to indicate that they understood that Jesus was not just another man, like Solomon, but was special for they understood no mere mortal could control the wind.

The second interesting fact of Solomon is that he could speak bird and ant.
"And Solomon was David's heir, and he said, 'Men, we have been taught the speech of the birds, and we have been given of everything; surely this is indeed the manifest bounty.' And his hosts were mustered to Solomon, jinn, men and birds, duly disposed [and they marched on in bands]; till, when they came on the Valley of Ants, an ant said, 'Ants, enter your dwelling-places, lest Solomon and his hosts [army] crush you, being unaware!' But he smiled, laughing at its words" (Koran 27:16-19)
Interestingly, the Jewish Scriptures contain only one story of the communications between humans and animals and it is the story of Balaam and his donkey. Balaam was disobeying God and on his way God came to kill him. However, the donkey saw what was happening, though the prophet did not, and tried to prevent it. For this service to his master, the domkey was ruthlessly beaten. Finally,
"Balaam said to the donkey, 'Because you have made a mockery of me! If there had been a sword in my hand, I would have killed you by now. The donkey said to Balaam, 'Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden all your life to this day? Have I ever been accustomed to do so to you?' And he said, 'No.' Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand; and he bowed all the way to the ground." (Numbers 22:29-32)
The third fact about Solomon that the Koran teaches us is that God gave him a fountain flowing with molten brass.
"And to Solomon [did we subject] the wind; its morning course was a month's journey, and its evening course was a month's journey. And We made the Fount of Molten Brass to flow for him. And of the jinn, some worked before him by the leave of his Lord." (Koran 34:11)
No just record exists in the Jewish scriptures, nor is there any scientific evidence that such a fountain ever existed.

Solomon's ability to speak with birds features prominently in the Koranic story of the Queen of Sheba. First, however, here is the Jewish account of that story.
"Now when the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with difficult questions. So she came to Jerusalem with a very large retinue... When she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about all that was in her heart. Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was hidden from the king which he did not explain to her. When the queen of Sheba perceived all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built... there was no more spirit in her. Then she said to the king, 'It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. Nevertheless I did not believe the reports, until I came and my eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me. You exceed in wisdom and prosperity the report which I heard.'" (1 Kings 10:1-7)
As we will see, the Koranic story is quite different. The story starts out with Solomon realizing that one of the birds was missing from his company.
"And he reviewed the birds; then he said, 'How is it with me, that I do not see the hoopoe [lapwing]? Or is he among the absent? Assuredly I will chastise him with a terrible chastisement, or I will slaughter him, or he bring me a clear authority [excuse].'" (Koran 27:20-21)
Solomon appears to have been quite a harsh task master for the birds. The bird explained that he had been flying around a distant land that was being ruled by a woman, not a man.
"and said [the bird], 'I have comprehended [gained the knowledge] that which thou hast not comprehended [knowest not], and I have come from Sheba [Saba] to thee with a sure tiding. I found a woman ruling over them, and she has been given of everything, and she possesses a mighty [splendid] throne. I found her and her people prostrating to [worshiping] the sun, apart from God; Satan has decked out fair their deeds to them and he has barred [turned] them from the way, and therefore they are not guided, so that they prostrate not themselves to [worship] God, who brings forth what is hidden [the secret things] in the heavens and earth" (Koran 27:22-25)
Solomon's first instinct was to fight with them. I believe that this inclination reveals something of the nature and inclination of Muhammad more than it does Solomon. To convey his intentions, Solomon wrote a note to the queen and sends it via the bird and commanded it to wait for the queen's response.
"Said he [Solomon to the bird], 'Now We will see whether thou hast spoken truly, or whether thou art amongst those that lie. Take this letter of mine, and cast it unto them, then turn back from them and see what they shall return [wait for their answer]'" (Koran 27:27-28)
Upon receiving Solomon's note, the queen of Sheba decides not to fight Solomon but to send him presents to try and assuage his anger.
"She said, 'O Council [my nobles], see, a letter honourable has been cast [thrown down] unto me. It is from Solomon, and it is "In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. Rise not up against me, but come to me in surrender [submitting (Muslims)]." '... She said, 'Kings, when they enter a city, disorder [spoil] it and make the mighty ones of its inhabitants abased. Even so they too will do. Now I will send them a present, and see what the envoys bring back.'" (Koran 27:29-31, 34-35)
However, when the envoys returned to Solomon with their gifts, he was not impressed and was more determined then ever to go to war against them.
"But when he [the messengers] came to Solomon he said, 'What, would you succour me with wealth, and what God gave me is better than what He has given you? Nay, but instead you rejoice in your gift! Return thou to them; we shall assuredly come against them with hosts [forces] they have not power to resist, and we shall expel them from there, abased and utterly humbled.'" (Koran 27:36-37)
Solomon then asked those who were with him, who would lead the charge to defeat the queen.
"He [Solomon] said, 'O Council [nobles], which one of you will bring me her throne, before they come to me in surrender?' An efreet of the jinns said, 'I will bring it to thee, before thou risest from thy place; I have strength [power] for it and I am trusty.' Said he who possessed knowledge of the Book [Scriptures], 'I will bring it to thee, before ever thy glance returns to thee [in a twinkling of an eye].'" (Koran 27:38-40)
Lane notes that "the efreets are generally believed to differ from the other djinn in being very powerful and always malicious; but to be in other respects of similar nature." (Lane’s Modern Egyptians, i.285) It is interesting that the Koran teaches that Moses was served by the Jinn and could communicate with them at will. This would be akin to saying that we had command over the angles and were in constant communications with them in our daily lives.

Solomon then had a change of heart and decided to test the queen of Sheba to see if she would surrender to God before he set out to destroy her. So Solomon devised this test.
"He said, 'Disguise her throne for her, and we shall behold whether she is guided or if she is of those that are not guided.'… but [the gods] that she served, apart from God, barred her [lead her astray], for she was of a people of unbelievers.' It was said to her, 'Enter the pavilion [Palace].' But when she saw it, she supposed it was a spreading water [lake of water], and she bared her legs. He said, 'It is a pavilion smoothed of crystal [palace paved with glass]. She said, 'My Lord, indeed I have wronged myself [sinned against my own soul], and I surrender [resign myself] with Solomon to God, the Lord of all Being [of the Worlds].'" (Koran 27:41,43-56)
Quite a fanciful story that stands in total contradiction the the story as recorded in the Jewish scriptures.

The last story in the Koran pertaining to Solomon is in reference to his death.
"And when We decreed that he should die, naught indicated [nothing showed] to them that he was dead but the Beast of the Earth [reptile] devouring [gnawed] his staff [which supported his corpse];" (Koran 34:13)
The Koran tells us that Solomon died standing up and no one who saw him perceived that he was dead for his staff supported him and he did not fall over. However, all we have recorded in the Jewish scriptures pertaining to his dead is this simple statement, "And Solomon slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of his father David." (1 Kings 11:43)

More to come...
David Robison

Saturday, March 19, 2016

History - The fictional stories of Muhammad - David

This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.
The Koran contains two stories of interest pertaining to David. The first has to do with the defeat of the Philistines and of Goliath.
"So, when they went forth against Goliath And his hosts, they said, 'Our Lord, pour out upon us patience, and make firm our feet, and give us aid against the people of the unbelievers!' And they routed them, by the leave of God, and David slew Goliath" (Koran 2:251-252)
The story, as recorded in the Jewish scriptures shows us a different timeline than the Koranic story. In the Jewish story, the army of Israel was terrified of Goliath. For forty days Goliath taunted and challenged the army of Israel and for forty day its men trembled before him.
"As he [David] was talking with them [his brothers], behold, the champion, the Philistine from Gath named Goliath, was coming up from the army of the Philistines, and he spoke these same words; and David heard them. When all the men of Israel saw the man, they fled from him and were greatly afraid. The men of Israel said, Have you seen this man who is coming up? Surely he is coming up to defy Israel. And it will be that the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father's house free in Israel.'" (1 Samuel 17:23-25)
Unfortunately, there were no takes to challenge Goliath from among the army of Israel. However David dared to believe that God would deliver Goliath into his hands and volunteered for the mission. After much second guessing by the King of Israel, he finally let David go forth into battle against Goliath.
"Thus David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and he struck the Philistine and killed him; but there was no sword in David's hand. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. The men of Israel and Judah arose and shouted and pursued the Philistines as far as the valley, and to the gates of Ekron. And the slain Philistines lay along the way to Shaaraim, even to Gath and Ekron." (1 Samuel 17:50-52)
The victory was not due to the prayers and faithfulness of the army of Israel, as the Koran would have us to believe, but due to the courage and daring of one man, David.

The second story in the Koran relates to David's sin with Bathsheba. Having sinned, two men come to David to convince him of his error.
"Has the tiding [story] of the dispute [two pleaders] come to thee? When they scaled the Sanctuary [walls of his closet], when they entered upon David, and he took fright at them; and they said, 'Fear not; two disputants [opposing parties] we are -- one of us has injured [wronged] the other; so judge between us justly [with truth], and transgress not, and guide us to the right path.' 'Behold, this my brother has ninety-nine ewes, and I have one ewe. So he said, "Give her into my charge"; and he overcame [over-persuaded] me in the argument [dispute].' Said he, 'Assuredly he has wronged thee in asking for thy ewe in addition to his sheep; and indeed many intermixers [associates] do injury one against the other, save those who believe, and do deeds of righteousness -- and how few they are!' And David thought [perceived] that We had only tried him; therefore he sought [asked] forgiveness of his Lord, and he fell down, bowing, and he repented." (Koran 38:20-23)
However, the Jewish scriptures tell us that it was only one man who came to David to expose his sin and that was the Prophet Nathan.
"Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him and said, 'There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor... Now a traveler came to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd, to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him; rather he took the poor man's ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.'... Then David's anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, 'As the Lord lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die.'... Nathan then said to David, 'You are the man!'... Then David said to Nathan, 'I have sinned against the Lord.' And Nathan said to David, 'The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die.' (2 Samuel 12:1, 4-5, 7, 13).
David was brought to repentance, not by two unnamed men who scared him and broke into his room, but by a trusted friend and prophet of God, Nathan.

More to come...
David Robison

Friday, March 18, 2016

History - The fictional stories of Muhammad - King Saul

This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.
The Koran contains two stories of King Saul. The first describes how God made certain His selection of Saul as king, and the second relates to how Saul and his men defeated Goliath. When God appointed Saul as king over Israel, the people, according to the Koran, complained against his selection, saying they were eminently more qualified and more worthy of the kingship than Saul. However, God offered to them a sign that it was Saul He had chosen.
"And their Prophet said to them, 'The sign of his kingship is that the Ark will come to you, in it a Shechina [a pledge of security] from your Lord, and a remnant [relics] of what the folk [family] of Moses and Aaron's folk left behind, the angels bearing it. Surely in that shall be a sign for you, if you are believers.'" (Koran 2:249)
However, there is only one reference in the Jewish scriptures to the Ark of the Covenant being with Saul in battle. "Then Saul said to Ahijah, 'Bring the ark of God here.' For the ark of God was at that time with the sons of Israel." (1 Samuel 14:18) However, there is no record of the Ark ever being carried by angels and it is even questionable if the Ark was actually brought from its resting place at Kiriath-jearim to the battlefield with Saul, for it says that, "While Saul talked to the priest, the commotion in the camp of the Philistines continued and increased; so Saul said to the priest, 'Withdraw your hand.'" (1 Samuel 4:19) And we are told that, regarding Kiriath-jearim, that "the ark remained at Kiriath-jearim, the time was long, for it was twenty years; and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord." (1 Samuel 7:2)

As for the contents of the Ark, we are clearly told,
"the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron's rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant" (Hebrews 9:4)
The Ark did not contain any relics of the families of Moses and Aaron.

The Koran continues to give an account of the battle that was supposedly won by Saul with the aid of the Ark.
"And when Saul went forth with the hosts [his forces] he said, 'God will try you with a river; whosoever drinks of it is not of me, and whoso tastes it not, he is of me, saving him who scoops up with his hand.' But they drank of it, except a few of them; and when he crossed it, and those who believed with him, they said, 'We have no power [strength] today against Goliath and his hosts.' Said those who reckoned they should meet God, 'How often a little company has overcome [vanquished] a numerous company, by God's leave! And God is with the patient.' So, when they went forth against Goliath And his hosts, they said, 'Our Lord, pour out upon us patience [steadfastness], and make firm our feet, and give us aid against the people of the unbelievers [infidels]!'" (Koran 2:250-251)
First, the battle sited above where Saul calls for the Ark, was not the same battle where they defeated Goliath. Secondly, the story of God culling down the army by a test at the stream was with Gideon, not Saul.
"So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, 'You shall separate everyone who laps the water with his tongue as a dog laps, as well as everyone who kneels to drink.' Now the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was 300 men; but all the rest of the people kneeled to drink water. The Lord said to Gideon, 'I will deliver you with the 300 men who lapped and will give the Midianites into your hands; so let all the other people go, each man to his home.'" (Judges 7:5-7)
Finally, when Saul and his army did go up against Goliath, they were not confident, nor prayerful in their hope for strength, but were frightened and scared into inaction.
"Again the Philistine said, 'I defy the ranks of Israel this day; give me a man that we may fight together.' When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid... The Philistine came forward morning and evening for forty days and took his stand... them, behold, the champion, the Philistine from Gath named Goliath, was coming up from the army of the Philistines, and he spoke these same words; and David heard them. When all the men of Israel saw the man, they fled from him and were greatly afraid." (1 Samuel 17:10-11, 16, 23-24)
It wasn't until David killed Goliath and cut off his head that the Israelites found courage and strength to enter into the battle and defeated the Philistines.

More to come...
David Robison

Thursday, March 17, 2016

History - The fictional stories of Muhammad - Moses (Part 5)

This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.
We finish our discussion of Moses with one of the more fanciful stories of Muhammad, and it involves Moses, his servant, and a fish. It must be stated from the very beginning that this story is completely lacking from both the Jewish and Christian scriptures.
"And when Moses said to his page [servant], 'I will not give up [stop] until I reach the meeting [confluence] of the two seas, though I go on for many years." (Koran 18:59)
It is difficult to understand which seas Muhammad could be referring to. Rodwell interprets this as the meeting place of the sea of Greece and the sea of Persia, however, he acknowledges that no interpretation of this verse based on the meeting of two physical seas seems reasonable. (J.M. Rodwell, The Koran, footnote 18:15) What complicates the interpretation is that Moses was journeying with his servant. According to the Jewish record, Moses had only one servant and that was Joshua, and then only for the forty years the children of Israel were wondering in the wilderness. It is hard to understand where Moses was going, why he was going, and why he expected it to take so long. Especially since we see him and his servant arriving in the next verse.
"Then, when they reached their meeting [confluence], they forgot their fish, and it took its way into the sea, burrowing [at will]. When they had passed over, he said to his page [servant], 'Bring us our breakfast; indeed, we have encountered weariness from this our journey.' He said, 'What thinkest thou? When we took refuge [repaired to] in the rock, then I forgot the fish -- and it was [none but] Satan himself that made me forget it so that I should not remember it [mention it] -- and so it took its way into the sea in a manner marvellous [wondrous].' Said he, 'This is what we were seeking!'" (Koran 18:60-63)
So apparently, the fish was to be their meal. Most likely it would have been smoked or preserved in some way to keep it on their long prolonged journey. Either way, the fish would have been dead. When they arrive at the meeting of the meeting of the two seas, they realize that they had left the fish behind in a cave, probably a cave they had spent the night in. When they realize that they had left it behind, the servant somehow comes to the knowledge that the fish had taken to the sea. How he knew that and how the fish made it from the cave to the sea is unknown to us. We are not told in the story and it is hard to imagine a literal interpretation of these events. What is even more confusing is that Moses immediately proclaims that this what they were seeking. Were they seeking the fish or the loosing of the fish" Rodwell suggests,
"The loss of our fish is a sign to us of our finding him whom we seek, namely, El-Kidr, or El-Khadir, the reputed vizier of Dhoulkarnain, and said to have drunk of the fountain of life, by virtue of which he still lives, and will live to the day of judgment. He is also said to appear, clad in green robes, to Muslims in distress, whence his name. Perhaps the name Khdir is formed from Jethro." (J.M. Rodwell, The Koran, footnote 18:16)
However, if this is the case, then it is hard to understand why then they returned tracing their steps apparently looking for their fish.
"And so they returned upon their tracks, retracing them. Then they found one of Our servants unto whom We had given mercy from Us, and We had taught him knowledge proceeding from Us." (Koran 18:63-64)
Upon finding this one to whom Allah had taught knowledge, Moses asks to proceed with him that he might teach Moses what he had been taught,
"Moses said to him, 'Shall I follow thee so that thou teachest me, of what thou hast been taught, right judgment [guidance].' Said he, 'Assuredly thou wilt not be able to bear with me patiently  [have patience with me]. And how shouldst thou bear patiently that thou hast never encompassed [comprehendest] in thy knowledge?' He said, 'Yet thou shalt find me, if God will, patient; and I shall not rebel [disobey] against thee in anything.' Said he, 'Then if thou followest me, question me not on anything until I myself introduce the mention of it to thee [give thee an account thereof].'" (Koran 18:65-69)
Moses and the man depart and they encounter three situations. In each situation, Moses is surprised and challenges his traveling partner with what he is doing, The man reminds Moses that he said Moses would not have patience with him and, in each case, Moses remembers and acknowledges his agreement with his traveling partner. At the conclusion of the journey, the man reveals to Moses what he must learn from each of the situations they encountered. For the sake of discussion, we will look at each situation and its lesson together.
"So they departed; until, when they embarked upon the ship, he [the unknown] made a hole in it. He said, 'What, hast thou made a hole in it so as to drown its passengers? Thou hast indeed done a grievous [strange] thing.'... As for the ship, it belonged to certain poor men, who toiled upon the sea; and I desired to damage it, for behind them there was a king who was seizing every ship by brutal force." (Koran 18:70, 78)
"So they departed; until, when they met a lad, he slew him. He [Moses] said, 'What, hast thou slain a soul innocent, and that not to retaliate for a soul slain [free from guilt of blood]? Thou hast indeed done a horrible [grievous] thing.' Said he, 'Did I not say that thou couldst never bear with me patiently?'.. As for the lad, his parents were believers; and we were afraid he would impose on [trouble] them insolence [error] and unbelief [infidelity]; so we desired that their Lord should give to them in exchange one better than he in purity [virtue], and nearer in tenderness [filial piety]." (Koran 18:73-74, 79-80)
So they departed; until, when they reached the people of a city, they asked the people for food, but they refused to receive them hospitably [for guests]. There they found a wall about to tumble down, and so he set it up. He [Moses] said, 'If thou hadst wished, thou couldst have taken a wage [obtained pay] for that.'... As for the wall, it belonged to two orphan lads in the city, and under it was a treasure belonging to them. Their father was a righteous man; and thy Lord desired that they should come of age [reach the age of strength] and then bring forth their treasure as a mercy from thy Lord. I did it not of my own bidding. This is the interpretation of that thou couldst not bear patiently.'" (Koran 18:76, 81)
It is unclear who exactly was this traveling partner of 'Moses, the one who was to teach him the knowledge he had learned from God. There is no indication that he was an angel or a jinn, for these creatures, as far as we know, are not taught by God but know the truth because they see the truth and know knowledge because they are spiritual beings and stand in the presence of God. It is possible that this entire experience was a dream, although the Koran never represents it as a dream but as something that actually happened and it is told as if it was a real story. It is also possible that the traveler could have been a prophet, although throughout the entire story there is no indication that he received any message or revelation from God.

What is most troubling in this story is the detachment of God from His creation. In these stories it is not God who is working on behalf of men, but man himself. We see one who supposedly was wise, interfering in the live of men as he best understood their lives and best understood what was of preferable for their lives. No where in the story do we see the leading or prompting of God; no where do we see the hand of providence moving on behalf of mankind; no where do we see the agency of the Holy Spirit to lead, guide, strengthen, and bless. God is there somewhere, and He is represented in His knowledge, but He is detached from the needs and hopes of His people and relies on men of wisdom to understand and chart the best course for their lives and the lives they care of. In the end, we see the care of men, but not the care of God. How different from the message of Jesus who said, "Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:31-33) Or the words of David, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6) The story of the scriptures is a story of a God who is intimately involved with thee lives of His children. It is God who is watching over us, guarding and providing for us with His providence, and leading us by His Spirit into His will. We are not left to the aid of men, we have strength with God. As David said of Him, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." (Psalms 46:1)

The second story deserves more discussion. The traveling man determined himself that error and unbelief was resident in the child. How could one make such a determination? How can man know what is in another man's heart? This knowledge belongs only to God. Furthermore, how did it come into this man's responsibility to execute judgment that belongs to God; to kill the child for what might happen and for whom the child might become? The story justifies itself in that, by slaying the evil child, the parents might have a better child and a child of greater piety. However, this story ignores the love of a parent and obscures the love of God who loves all His children, the good and the evil. It says that, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16) Not just some of the world, but God loved the whole world; every man, woman, and child. The Story also discounts the ability for lives to be altered and the fact that Jesus came to make all things new. In Christ we are not left to our natures as we were born with them but are free to change, free to be transformed into the very image of Christ. "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." (2 Corinthians 5:17-18) There is hope for all life. Even the most vile of persons can still find the cleansing and sanctifying grace of God to be transformed into a son or daughter of the Most High. There is always hope.

More to come...
David Robison

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

History - The fictional stories of Muhammad - Moses (part 4)

This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.
As we approach the end of our discussion of Moses, there are a few miscellaneous events recorded in the Koran that relate to Moses and the people of Israel. The Koran records that the people asked Moses to show them God clearly and fully.
"The People of the Book will ask thee to bring down upon them a Book from heaven; and they asked Moses for greater than that, for they said, 'Show us God openly.' And the thunderbolt took them for their evildoing." (Koran 4:152)
Here, Muhammad is performing a peremptory strike against those who would ask of him to show them a sign of his authority and commissioning from God. He claims that, just as disaster struck those who asked of Moses to see God, so would such a disaster strike those who demanded a sign from Muhammad. However, in the actual account, the people of Israel did not ask to see God since they already saw God upon the mountain in the fire and smoke. They asked Moses that they might see God mo more and that God would reveal Himself to and through Moses and they, in turn, would obey Moses.
"And when you heard the voice from the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes and your elders. You said, 'Behold, the Lord our God has shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice from the midst of the fire; we have seen today that God speaks with man, yet he lives. Now then why should we die?... Go near and hear all that the Lord our God says; then speak to us all that the Lord our God speaks to you, and we will hear and do it.' (Deuteronomy 5:23-25, 27)
The people were content that Moses should be their prophet; that he should be the one to see and hear God and that they would then obey everything God commanded them through Moses.

The Koran also says that the people asked Moses to make them idols to lead them like the all the other nations had.
"They said, 'Moses, make for us a god, as they have gods.' Said he, 'You are surely a people who are ignorant." (Koran 7:134)
However, it was Aaron whom they asked to make for them an idol, not Moses.
"Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, 'Come, make us a god who will go before us.'" (Exodus 32:1
The Koran also records the story where Moses asked God to show him His glory.
"he said, 'Oh my Lord, show me, that I may behold Thee!' Said He, 'Thou shalt not see Me; but behold the mountain -- if it stays fast in its place, then thou shalt see Me.' And when his Lord revealed Him to the mountain He made it crumble to dust; and Moses fell down swooning." (Koran 7:139)
However, the actual promise from God was that Moses would be able to see God, just not His face for no one can see His face and live. Also, as God passed by Moses there was no wind, fire or quake, just the gentle and calm presence of God and the voice of God proclaiming His glory.
"The Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the Lord. Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, 'The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.'" (Exodus 34:5-7)
It seems, perhaps, that Muhammad confused the story of Moses with the story of Elijah.
"So He said, 'Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord.' And behold, the Lord was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave." (1 Kings 19:11-13)
The Koran also describes the feeding of Israel with water, manna, and quail.
"And We cut them up [divided] into twelve tribes, [as] nations. And We revealed to Moses, when his people asked him for water: 'Strike with thy staff the rock'; and there gushed forth from it twelve fountains all the people knew now their drinking-place. And We outspread the cloud to overshadow them, and We sent down manna and quails upon them: 'Eat of the good things wherewith We have supplied you.' And they worked no wrong upon Us, but themselves they wronged." (Koran 7:160)
The problem with this story is that the timing is all wrong. There was a place where they stopped and there was twelve springs, but it was not a miraculous spring gushing forth from a rock, but the spring at Elim. "Then they came to Elim where there were twelve springs of water and seventy date palms, and they camped there beside the waters." (Exodus 15:27) It was then two months and fifteen days after their departure from Egypt that God first provided manna for them from heaven. "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day.'" (Exodus 16:4) However, there is no mention of a cloud. They were fed with this manna up until the day they entered the promise land. "The manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year." (Joshua 5:12) It was some time later, as the Israelites journeyed towards Mount Zion, that the people complained and God provided them water from a rock.
"Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.' And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. He named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the Lord, saying, 'Is the Lord among us, or not?'" (Exodus 17:5-7)
However, there is no mention of the number of streams that proceeded from the rock. Finally, it was still some time later, more than two years since they left Egypt, and after the Israelites had left Mount Zion, that the Lord sent quail upon the grumbling congregation.
"Now there went forth a wind from the Lord and it brought quail from the sea, and let them fall beside the camp, about a day's journey on this side and a day's journey on the other side, all around the camp and about two cubits deep on the surface of the ground. 32 The people spent all day and all night and all the next day, and gathered the quail (he who gathered least gathered ten homers) and they spread them out for themselves all around the camp. 33 While the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord struck the people with a very severe plague." (Numbers 11:31-33)
He sent them quail with a curse. "And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul." (Psalms 106:15 NKJV) It is also unclear, from the context of the story of the twelve streams and each tribe knowing where to drink, if Muhammad is referring to the dividing of Israel into the twelve nations and and giving them their inheritance in the Promised land. If so, then this would also be in error since Moses never made it into the promise land. "For you shall see the land at a distance, but you shall not go there, into the land which I am giving the sons of Israel." (Deuteronomy 32:52) What makes matters even more confusing is that, in this same context in the Koran, we read the following story.
"And question them concerning the township which was bordering the sea, when they transgressed the Sabbath, when their fish came to them on the day of their Sabbath, swimming shorewards, but on the day they kept not Sabbath, they came not unto them. Even so We were trying them for their ungodliness." (Koran 7:163)
This verse is in the same context as the one where Moses split the rock and provided water for the twelve tribes. However, this verse could not have been during their time in the wilderness since they did not dwell in townships and did not live near the waters. However, if it speaks of their possessions in the Promise Land, then its inclusion in the same context as Moses is confusing. Either way, it must be stated, that there is no record of this story in the Jewish scriptures.

More to come...
David Robison

Sunday, March 13, 2016

History - The fictional stories of Muhammad - Moses (part 3)

This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.
Because of the signs Moses performed and the plagues God sent upon Egypt, Pharaoh relented and let the Children of Israel go.
"Also We revealed unto Moses, 'Go with My servants by night; strike for them a dry path in the sea, fearing not overtaking, neither afraid.' Pharaoh followed them with his hosts, but they were overwhelmed by the sea; so Pharaoh had led his people astray, and was no guide to them." (Koran 20:79)
The context of this verse in the Koran has Moses in the presence of Pharaoh. Moses throws down his staff and it becomes a serpent. The magicians try the same, and their staffs also become serpents, but Moses' serpent eat up the magician's serpents. In the end, Pharaoh refused to believe Moses' signs while the magicians believed.

However, the Jewish text places the release of the Israelites, not at the first meeting between Moses and Pharaoh, when Moses performed this sign, but after the last plague, the slaughter of the firstborn.
"Now it came about at midnight that the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle. Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians, and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was no home where there was not someone dead. Then he called for Moses and Aaron at night and said, 'Rise up, get out from among my people, both you and the sons of Israel; and go, worship the Lord, as you have said.'" (Exodus 12:29-31)
All this happened because of the hardness of Pharaoh's heart that the oppression of the Israelites. The Koran records.
"So We took vengeance on them, and drowned them in the sea, for that they cried lies to Our signs [treated our signs as falsehoods] and heeded them not." (Koran 7:132)
Every judgment Muhammad sees the the ancient scriptures he perceives as stemming from the people's refusal to believe the prophet. In this way, the retelling of Jewish stories are self-serving to Muhammad. He is constantly warning the people of what will happens to those who disbelieve the prophet. However, the judgment on Pharaoh, his army, and the people of Egypt was not because Pharaoh disbelieved Moses, but because of their oppression of the people of God and their hardness of heart towards them.
"The Lord said, 'I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians.'" (Exodus 3:7-8)
The truth is, we are not judged because we believe of disbelieve the prophet or apostle, but we are judged because of the sin and evil that is in our hearts. These are the things that bring judgment down upon us, not whether or not we believe the messenger.

While in the wilderness, as Moses ascended the holy mountain to receive the Law, the people worried that Moses had been gone so long, so they proceeded to make an idol that it might be their God and may lead them, seeing that Moses had left and appeared not to be coming back again.
"We have not failed in our tryst [promise] with thee,' they said, 'of our volition [accord]; but we were loaded with fardels, even the ornaments of the people, and we cast them, as the Samaritan [Samiri] also threw them, into the fire.' (Then he brought out for them a Calf, a mere body that lowed; and they said, 'This is your god, and the god of Moses, whom he has forgotten.'... Moses said, 'And thou, Samaritan [Samiri], what was thy business [motive]?' 'I beheld what they beheld not,' he said, 'and I seized a handful of dust from the messenger's track, and cast it into the thing. So my soul prompted me.'" (Koran 20:90, 96)
However, when Moses returned from the mountain and saw them playing the idolater with the golden calf, he came to ask Aaron what he had done. However, the Koran records that it was not Arron who was responsible, but the Samiri who had created the golden idle.
"Yet Aaron had aforetime [before] said to them, 'My people, you have been tempted by this thing, no more; surety your Lord is the All-merciful; therefore follow me, and obey my commandment!' 'We will not cease,' they said, 'to cleave [devotion] to it, until Moses returns to us.')" (Koran 20:92-93)
However, the Jewish account clearly states that Aaron was the one who fashioned and set the golden calf before the people.
"Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, 'Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.' Aaron said to them, 'Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.' Then all the people tore off the gold rings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. He took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf; and they said, 'This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.' Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, 'Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.'" (Exodus 32:1-6)
It was also Aaron who, upon Moses' return, made the ridiculous defense for himself saying that the people were in an uproar so he told them to bring their gold and jewels. "So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf." (Exodus 32:24) He simply threw it in and out came a calf. I'm not sure Moses bought that excuse.

When Moses returned from the holy mountain, he brought with him the Law of God.
"We gave Moses the Book [law], and appointed with him his brother Aaron as minister [councilor] and We said, 'Go to the people who have cried lies to Our signs'; then We destroyed them utterly." (Koran 25:37-38)
It is unclear to whom whom Muhammad is referring to as those who "cried lies" to the signs of God. We do know that, upon seeing the people out of control, he said, "'Whoever is for the Lord, come to me!' And all the sons of Levi gathered together to him." (Exodus 32:26-27) He then commanded the Levites to take their swords and execute judgment on the people. "So the sons of Levi did as Moses instructed, and about three thousand men of the people fell that day." (Exodus 32:28) It must be understood that the Levite were just one of twelve tribes in Israel, and a smaller tribe at that. Also, estimates put the number of Jews in the exodus as high as perhaps three and a half million people. If Muhammad was speaking of slaying the Isrealites that committed idolatry with the golden calf, then the death of three thousand out of three and a half million hardly constitutes an utter destruction as Muhammad claims. If however, Muhammad is speaking to some non-Hebrew people, then it must be understood that Moses was not sent to any but the Hebrew children. Moses plainly says, "The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, with all those of us alive here today." (Deuteronomy 5:2-3) Either way, Muhammad seems mistaken in his retelling of these events.

More to come...
David Robison

Saturday, March 12, 2016

History - The fictional stories of Muhammad - Moses (Part 2)

This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.
Moses, while he was feeding his father-in-laws sheep, saw a strange sight, a bush that was burning but not being burnt up. Moses approaches the bush to investigate the matter when God spoke to him from the burning bush.
"Verily I am God; there is no god but I; therefore serve [worship] Me, and perform [observe] the prayer of My remembrance." (Koran 20:14)
Muhammad writes often of this command from God that the people should obey and perform the stated prayers. He associates this command with many of the Jewish prophets and apostles. However, we fail to see this command being given by any of the Jewish messangers. In fact, no where in the Jewish scriptures do we see the command to observe the ritualistic prayers as given by God.
"God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, 'Moses, Moses!' And he said, 'Here I am.' Then He said, 'Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.' He said also, 'I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God." (Exodus 3:4-6)
That day, Moses received his commission and ordination from God.
"Hast thou received the story of Moses? When his Lord called to him in the holy valley, Towa: 'Go to Pharaoh; he has waxed insolent [burst all bounds]. And say, "Hast thou the will to purify thyself [become just]; and that I should guide thee to thy Lord, then thou shalt fear?"'" (Koran 79:15-19)
However, Moses' mission was not to Pharaoh, to enlighten him and to lead him to godliness, but to free the children of Israel who were in bondage in Egypt.
"The Lord said, 'I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey... Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.'" (Exodus 3:7-8, 10)
Muhammad tells us that God instructed Moses, and his brother Arron, to provide houses for God's people and to place, in each house, a Kebla so that people might have some direction to pray towards. A Kebla is defined as a point of adoration, a direction that people are to turn to and face when they pray.
"And We revealed to Moses and his brother, 'Take you [provide], for your people, in Egypt certain houses; and make your houses a direction for men to pray to [a Kebla]; and perform the prayer; and do thou give good tidings to the believers.'" (Koran 10:87)
We have no record of such a command in the Jewish narrative of Moses. in fact, the first time we see any mention of a direction in which people should pray is at the dedication of the temple in Jerusalem when Solomon asks God to hear the prayers prayed towards the temple. "Your servant prays before You today; that Your eyes may be open toward this house night and day, toward the place of which You have said, 'My name shall be there,' to listen to the prayer which Your servant shall pray toward this place. Listen to the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place; hear in heaven Your dwelling place; hear and forgive." (1 Kings 8:28-30) We also know that Moses did not build, or provide, "certain houses" for the children of Israel to worship at in Egypt. In fact, when the first Passover was to be kept, each one kept it in their own homes. "You shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning." (Exodus 12:22)

Moses was worried that Pharaoh might not believe that he was sent by God. So God gave him signs to perform in the sight of Pharaoh to convince him that Moses was sent by God.
"Thrust thy hand in thy bosom and it will come forth white without evil-among [free from hurt] [one of] nine signs to Pharaoh and his people" (Koran 27:12)
However, only three signs were given to Moses by God to be performed in Pharaoh's presence; his staff that, when thrown down, turned into a snake, his had that became leprous when placed inside his garment, and water that would turn to blood when poured on the ground.
"If they will not believe you or heed the witness of the first sign, they may believe the witness of the last sign. But if they will not believe even these two signs or heed what you say, then you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water which you take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground." (Exodus 4:8-9)
The Koran tells us that Pharaoh's wife believed Moses and his message and plead for her husband to believe as well.
"God has struck a similitude for the believers -- the wife of Pharaoh, when she said, 'My Lord, build for me a house in Paradise, in Thy presence, and deliver me from Pharaoh and his work, and do Thou deliver me from the people of the evildoers [the wicked].'" (Koran 66:11)
However, the Jewish account never mentions Pharaoh's wife in any context at all. 

When Moses appeared before Pharaoh, and performed the signs, though Pharaoh did not believe, his magicians, who had been called to reproduce the signs Moses gave, did, according to the Koran, believed Moses and believed in God.
"And the sorcerers were cast down [prostrated], bowing themselves. They said, 'We believe in the Lord of all Being, the. Lord of Moses and Aaron. Said Pharaoh, 'You have believed in Him before I gave you leave. Surely this is a device you have devised in the city that you may expel its people from it. Now you shall know! I shall assuredly cut off alternately your hands and feet, then I shall crucify you all together.' They said, 'Surely unto our Lord we are turning [do we return]. Thou takest vengeance upon us only because we have believed in the signs of our Lord when they came to us. Our Lord, pour out upon us patience [consistency], and gather us unto Thee surrendering [cause us to die Muslims].'" (Koran 7:117-123)
It was not until the plague of gnats that the magicians were unable to reproduce the signs and wonders that were given to Moses to work and there is no indication that they became believers in God.
"The magicians tried with their secret arts to bring forth gnats, but they could not; so there were gnats on man and beast. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, 'This is the finger of God.' But Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said." (Exodus 8:18-19)
We also have no evidence that Pharaoh threatening the magicians for believing in God before he gave them leave to. We also see again the reference to crucifixion. However, it would be several hundred years before crucifixion would be invented as a means of punishment. Moses lived around 1300 BC while crucifixion was not first seen until about 519 BC.

The Koran records that God gave Moses nine signs.
"And We gave Moses nine signs, clear signs." (Koran 17:103)
However, the Jewish text lists the three signs to be performed in Pharaoh's presence: the leprous hand, the staff that turns into a snake, and the water that pours out as blood. The text also list the ten plagues that God sent to force Pharaoh to release the children of Israel: water turning into blood, frogs, flies and gnats, pestilence on the livestock, boils, hail, locust, darkness, and death of the first born. In all, three signs and ten plagues. It seems that Muhammad was a bit off in his addition.

More to come...
David Robison

Friday, March 11, 2016

History - The fictional stories of Muhammad - Moses (part 1)

This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.
Moses figures prominently in the Koran and much of his life is covered in its narration of the ancient history of the Jewish people. Moses was born in a time when the Pharaoh of Egypt was growing concerned with the Hebrew population within his borders. He had subjugated then to slavery and he was worrying that, as their numbers grew, they would revolt against him. For this reason, Pharaoh set out to kill the male Hebrew children lest the Hebrews should become too powerful.
"Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, 'Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier than we. Come, let us deal wisely with them, or else they will multiply and in the event of war, they will also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us and depart from the land.'... Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, "Every son who is born you are to cast into the Nile, and every daughter you are to keep alive.'" (Exodus 1:8-10, 22)
However, Muhammad moves this event up till after Moses had returned to Egypt and had his first meeting with Pharaoh.
"And when he brought them [came to them from our presence with] the truth from Us, they said, 'Slay the sons of those who believe with him, and spare their women.' And Pharaoh said, 'Let me slay Moses, and let him call to his Lord. I fear that he may change, your religion, or that he may cause corruption [disorder] to appear in the land.'" (Koran 40:26)
It was in this time that Moses was born. However, Moses' mother was a godfearing woman and sought to spare Moses from the command of Pharaoh.
"So We revealed to Moses' mother, 'Suckle him, then, when thou fearest for him, cast [launch] him into [on] the sea, and do not fear, neither sorrow [fret], for We shall return [restore] him to thee, and shall appoint him one of the Envoys [Apostles].'" (Koran  28:6)
However, the Jewish text gives no record of any prophetic communication between God and Moses' mother and no promise of Moses later being commissioned as an apostle of God.
"The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got him a wicker basket and covered it over with tar and pitch. Then she put the child into it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to find out what would happen to him." (Exodus 2:2-4)
Moses was spotted floating in the Nile river and rescued by, according to Muhammad, Pharaoh's wife.
"So then the folk of Pharaoh picked him out to be an enemy and a sorrow to them; certainly Pharaoh and Haman, and their hosts, were of the sinners. Said Pharaoh's wife, 'He will be a comfort [joy of the eye] to me and thee. Slay him not; perchance he will profit us [be useful to us], or we will take [adopt] him for a son.' And they were not aware." (Koran 28:7-8)
However, the Jewish history shows that it was was Pharaoh's daughter, not his wife, who rescued Moses and took him as her son. Also, the story says that she was walking with her maidens, there were no men there to object, and no one expressed any concern that this child could grow up to be a threat to Egypt. 
"The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the Nile, with her maidens walking alongside the Nile; and she saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid, and she brought it to her.  When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the boy was crying. And she had pity on him and said, 'This is one of the Hebrews' children.'... The child grew, and she [Moses' sister] brought him to Pharaoh's daughter and he became her son. And she named him Moses, and said, 'Because I drew him out of the water.'" (Exodus 2:5-6, 10)
The Koran says little about Moses' time growing up in Pharaoh's household. However, later on, when he had grown into manhood, he fled Egypt fearing repercussions due to an incident where he killed an Egyptian and buried him in the sand. Moses spent the next several years as a sheep herder in Midian. The Koran says that the priest of Midian made a deal with Moses for one of his two daughters if Moses would serve and work for him.
"He said, '[truly] I desire to marry thee to one of these my two daughters, on condition that thou hirest thyself to me for eight years [be my hired servent]." (Koran 28:27)
However, he actually had seven daughters and there is no mention of an agreement of servitude as the price to marry one of his daughters.
"Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters... Moses was willing to dwell with the man, and he gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses." (Exodus 2:16, 21
The Koran reports that, after the eight years of servitude, Moses and his family departed from Midan. It was during this journey that he saw the infamous Burning Bush.
"So when Moses had accomplished [fulfilled] the term and departed [and was journeying] with his household, he observed on the side of the Mount a fire." (Koran 28:29)
However, the Jewish story has him still working for his father-in-law, tending his sheep.
"Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God." (Exodus 3:1)
We don't know exactly how long Moses spent in exile from Egypt, but it is likely that it was longer than the eight years ascribed to it by the Koran, for we know that he left Egypt when he "had grown up," (Exodus 2:11) and that he "eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three, when they spoke to Pharaoh." (Exodus 7:7)

It is at this point in the story that Moses sees the Burning Bush.
"Hast thou received the story [history] of Moses? When he saw a fire, and said to his family, 'Tarry you here; I observe a fire. Perhaps I shall bring you a brand from it, or I shall find at the fire guidance [a guide].'" (Koran 20:8-10)
However, as we have said, Moses was not traveling with his family, he was still working for his father-in-law. In fact, the Jewish account clearly states that, after his encounter with God at the Burning Bush, Moses returned home to his father-in-law and his family.
"Then Moses departed and returned to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, 'Please, let me go, that I may return to my brethren who are in Egypt, and see if they are still alive.' And Jethro said to Moses, 'Go in peace.'... So Moses took his wife and his sons and mounted them on a donkey, and returned to the land of Egypt." (Exodus 4:18-20)
Next we will look at Moses' commissioning at the Burning Bush to return to Egypt and his actions and words as he appears before Pharaoh.

More to come...
David Robison