I was recently on the “Iron Sharpens Iron” (ISI) radio program. Here’s a link to the ISI page about the call (link) and here is direct link to the mp3 (link).

The following is an outline of some of the topics discussed. This is not a transcript, but more or less notes for the discussion.

I. In General – Regarding Harold Camping

a) False Teacher

He has been seen to be a false teacher at least since his date setting book “1994?” (which was demonstrated by history to be false).

Now, he teaches annihilationism and some form of Modalism.

Perhaps, worst of all, he severs himself and his followers from communion, declaring the church age to be over and discouraging his followers from gathering together.

1 Corinthians 11:25-26
After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

Jesus has not come, and consequently we continue to show (symbolically) the Lord’s death in the Lord’s Supper, whereas Mr. Camping and his followers have excommunicated themselves.

b) Familiar with the Bible

Mr. Camping is obviously quite familiar with the text of the Bible. He’s been studying it for many years. Unfortunately, his studies are misdirected in that he applies Scripture for purposes for which it was not intended.

II. Regarding Amram and Moses

During the call-in segment of Mr. Camping’s debate with Dr. White, I had an opportunity to ask one question of Mr. Camping. My question was:”What was the name of Moses’ father?”

Why did I ask the question?

I knew that his answer would demonstrate that he was unwilling to submit to Scripture.

What does Scripture tell us is the name of Moses father?

Scripture tells us:

Exodus 6:20 And Amram took him Jochebed his father’s sister to wife; and she bare him Aaron and Moses: and the years of the life of Amram were an hundred and thirty and seven years.

Numbers 26:59 And the name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed, the daughter of Levi, whom her mother bare to Levi in Egypt: and she bare unto Amram Aaron and Moses, and Miriam their sister.

1 Chronicles 6:3 And the children of Amram; Aaron, and Moses, and Miriam. The sons also of Aaron; Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.

1 Chronicles 23:13 The sons of Amram; Aaron and Moses: and Aaron was separated, that he should sanctify the most holy things, he and his sons for ever, to burn incense before the LORD, to minister unto him, and to bless in his name for ever.

Mr. Camping is fond of saying that things are doubled to emphasize their importance. This statement of paternity is not simply doubled but doubled twice – that is to say – it is quadrupled. There are four Scriptural testimonies all agreeing that Moses’ father was Amram, and no Scripture suggesting any other name for Moses’ father.

Why does Camping not follow this plain teaching of Scripture?

Camping needs to avoid following this plain teaching of Scripture, in order for his date-setting method to work. One of Mr. Camping’s methods of calculating the end times is to place it exactly 7000 years from the date of Noah’s flood. One sees this in his articles and books. For example he writes: “Because the year 2011 A.D. is exactly 7,000 years after 4990 B.C. when the flood began, the Bible has given us absolute proof that the year 2011 is the end of the world during the Day of Judgment, which will come on the last day of the Day of Judgment.” (source)

To give you a sense of contrast, Archbishop Ussher in his “Annals of the World” gives a date for the flood of about 2350 B.C. I’m aware that there is a lot modern scholarship that suggests that disputes Ussher’s date, but the point is simply to give you a sense of contrast between a more literal reading of the text and Mr. Camping’s view.

How does Camping date the flood so much earlier (about 2500 years earlier)?

As you can imagine, it is not easy to fit an additional 2500 years into the text, and there is no chance that Mr. Camping is going to date the end of the world to be about 2500 years from now. To accomplish his purposes, Mr. Camping has to rely on what he calls a “clue phrase” in the text.

What is this clue phrase?

The clue phrase is “called his name.” In some of the genealogical accounts there is a statement that father called the name of his son “Seth” (or whatever the child’s name is). Camping asserts that when such a phrase is used, the literal son is being mentioned. Otherwise, in Camping’s view, the father-son relationship should not be assumed, and consequently we should be free to view the genealogies another way, such that the “father” is simply an ancestor, and that the “son” is simply a descendant that happened to be born the year his father died.

What are the problems with this?

At first this may seem like a fairly reasonable system. After all, there sometimes some inconsistencies in the biblical genealogies (a matter we can perhaps address a little later). However, there are some real problems:

1) This idea of a “clue phrase” is wrong from a positive usage sense.

Camping writes: “A more careful examination of the Scriptures reveals why the phrase “called his name” which is the Hebrew qara, was used. In every place where this phrase is employed, there can be no doubt of the existing relationship; invariably it is indicative of parent and child.” (link)

Mr. Camping’s claim about this supposed clue phrase is wrong:

Genesis 3:20 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.

It should be plain that Eve is not Adam’s child.

1 Samuel 7:12 Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.

Plainly, an inanimate object is not a child.

Ruth 4:17 And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Obed was the son of Boaz and Ruth not of Naomi’s female neighbors.

Exodus 2:10 And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.

Moses was not biologically the son of Pharaoh’s daughter: he held that relationship only by adoption.

2) This idea of a “clue phrase” is wrong from a negative usage sense.

Genesis 4:1-2
And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

Both Cain and Abel were the direct children of Adam and Eve without any “clue phrase” being provided. In fact, Seth is the first one where it is said that someone “called his name” Seth.

Exodus 2:2 And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.

This is a report of Moses’ conception and birth. His mother (Jochebed) is not said to have “called his name” Moses, but she was nevertheless his biological mother.

Even if the “clue phrase” is off, isn’t it possible that the Hebrew genealogy works this way?

As far as I can recall, Mr. Camping is not the first to come up with this idea that Hebrew genealogies might sometimes be based on dating from the death of an ancestor to a descendant born about the same time. There are at least two serious problems applying such a principle to Amram and Moses though:

1) Aaron AND Moses

Amram is called the father both of Aaron and Moses. This might be fine if those were twins, but they were three years apart:

Exodus 7:7 And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh.

2) And Miriam

Furthermore, they had an older sister, Miriam who (when Moses was three months old – Exodus 2:3) was resourceful enough to persuade the princess of Egypt to hire Moses’ mother as a nurse for him (Exodus 2:7). Amram can’t have died in three different years (one for Miriam, then again for Aaron, and finally for Moses).

What other reasons does Camping give?

There is one other main argument that Mr. Camping presents, namely that adding a speculative generation (or more than one) between Amram and Moses is necessary to make the stay in Egypt 430 years.

Camping provides the following breakdown:

Levi 77 years in Egypt
Kohath 133 years in Egypt
Amram 137 years in Egypt
Aaron 83 years in Egypt
430 years total time


This enumeration is alleged to correspond to the 430 years that Scripture says ended the day of the Exodus.

What are the problems with this analysis?

1) The 430 years should be measured from the Promise to Abraham

Galatians 3:16-17
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.

Notice that Paul is explicit that the giving of the law was 430 years from the promise to Abraham. Since Abraham died before the entry into Egypt, it is impossible that there could have been 430 years in Egypt.

2) Kohath wasn’t born in Egypt

Genesis 46:8-26, especially vs. 11 let us know that Kohath was one of the sons of Levi who came into Egypt with Levi and Jacob as one of the “seventy souls” mentioned in Genesis 46. It states:

Genesis 46:11 And the sons of Levi; Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.

So then how long was the stay in Egypt?

The stay in Egypt itself was 215 years. It was 215 years from the promise until the entry into Egypt, as we can determine from Genesis, and we know the total time was 430 years, so we can deduce that the time in Egypt was 215 years.

Does the 215 year view fit the genealogies?

Yes, the genealogies have Levi and Kohath coming into Egypt. Amram is the only one in the series who lives his entire life in Egypt and that was 137 years. Some of the time before his birth and after his death were also time in Egypt, of course.

Additionally, it should be noted that Jochebed is described as being the daughter of Levi.

Exodus 6:20 And Amram took him Jochebed his father’s sister to wife; and she bare him Aaron and Moses: and the years of the life of Amram were an hundred and thirty and seven years.

Numbers 26:59 And the name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed, the daughter of Levi, whom her mother bare to Levi in Egypt: and she bare unto Amram Aaron and Moses, and Miriam their sister.

This evidence again suggests that Levi was not dead over a century before Amram was born, but rather that there was some overlap between Amram and his grandfather Levi (though both Amram and Jochebed were born in Egypt and apparently died in Egypt).

Is Mr. Camping the only one who holds to the 430 year theory?

No. In fact, we find many modern scholars who have a similar view, and even many of the modern translations translate one of the key verses in such a way as to require the 430 year theory. For example, the King James Version states:

Exodus 12:40 Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.

Whereas the more modern English Standard Version states:

Exodus 12:40 The time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years.

Are you a King James Version Only-ist?

No. I simply think that the KJV better preserves the ambiguity of the original text here.

What is the historical view of the text?

Both the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Septuagint provide an additional phrase “and in the land of Canaan” that clarify that the 430 years is not to be understood as simply the time in Egypt.

Eusebius of Caesarea, who got his information from the Jewish historian Alexander Polyhistor (who flourished in the first century before Christ) took the 215 year view. In at least one place Joseph adopted the 215 year view:

They left Egypt in the month Xanthicus, on the fifteenth day of the lunar month; four hundred and thirty years after our forefather Abraham came into Canaan, but two hundred and fifteen years only after Jacob removed into Egypt. It was the eightieth year of the age of Moses, and of that of Aaron three more. They also carried out the bones of Joseph with them, as he had charged his sons to do.

-Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book II, Chapter 15, Section 2 (I am told that in another place Josephus disagrees with his opinion stated here, although I could not locate that other place.)

The Reformed commentators whom I checked on this matter (John Calvin, Matthew Henry, John Gill, and Matthew Poole) all likewise agreed with the 215 year view as well. Even Luther appears to agree.

More recently, however, there has been some debate over the topic.

Do you have any other significant issues with Camping’s Theology?

Yes, I think his view of the atonement is seriously flawed (see my post: link)


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