Questions From Readers
● At 1 Corinthians 10:8 the apostle Paul said that 23,000 Israelites fell in one day for committing fornication. However, the figure given at Numbers 25:9 is 24,000. Were these two different incidents?—K. S., U.S.A.
Both texts apparently apply to the same incident. To the Corinthian Christians, who lived in a notoriously licentious city, the apostle Paul appropriately wrote at 1 Corinthians 10:8: “Neither let us practice fornication, as some of them [the Israelites in the wilderness] committed fornication, only to fall, twenty-three thousand of them in one day.” Evidently Paul was referring to the incident recorded in Numbers, chapter 25. At that time the Israelites suffered a scourge from Jehovah for having immoral relations with the daughters of Moab and for engaging in the false worship of the Baal of Peor. Numbers 25:9 reported the result, stating: “And those who died from the scourge amounted to twenty-four thousand.”
It is possible that the number of those slain was between 23,000 and 24,000, allowing for either round figure to be satisfactorily given as a total. However, it is to be noted that in Numbers special mention is made of the fact that the judges of Israel killed the head men who had an attachment with the Baal of Peor. (Num. 25:4, 5) There may well have been a thousand of those head ones who died at the hands of the judges. But the 23,000 persons apparently were direct victims of the scourge from Jehovah. The resulting total would be 24,000, the figure given at Numbers 25:9. Of course, in general all 24,000 experienced God’s scourge in that they all died under his decree of judgment. (Deut. 4:3) Since Paul wrote under divine inspiration, there is no reason to conclude that he erred in giving the number of those who fell because of their wrongdoing in the incident involving the Baal of Peor.
● Who was the father of Zerubbabel? The Bible seems to indicate both Pedaiah and Shealtiel.—J.B., U.S.A.
Pedaiah was the fleshly father of Zerubbabel. This is indicated by 1 Chronicles 3:17-19, which states: “And the sons of Jeconiah [Jehoiachin] as prisoner [in Babylon] were Shealtiel his son and Malchiram and Pedaiah . . . And the sons of Pedaiah were Zerubbabel and Shimei.” However, Zerubbabel is called the son of Shealtiel elsewhere in the Bible, as at Ezra 3:2, 8 and in the genealogies of Jesus Christ at Matthew 1:12 and Luke 3:27. Why is this so?
According to First Chronicles, chapter three, Pedaiah was Zerubbabel’s father, whereas Shealtiel was his uncle, his father’s brother. Yet, for some reason that is not disclosed in the Bible, Zerubbabel was reckoned as the son of Shealtiel. Evidently Zerubbabel was considered to be his legal son and heir. It is, of course, possible that Shealtiel died childless and that his brother, Pedaiah, complied with the law of levirate marriage, marrying his brother’s widow. (Deut. 25:5-10) The first son of such a union would be viewed as Shealtiel’s legal heir. On the other hand, perhaps, because of Pedaiah’s death, Shealtiel came to have custody of Zerubbabel, raising him as his son. However, the Scriptures themselves are silent on the matter.
Regardless of the undisclosed circumstances, the Bible shows that Zerubbabel was literally the son of Pedaiah. (1 Chron. 3:19) But, since the Scriptures also call him the son of Shealtiel, it was fittingly stated on page 160 of the book “Babylon the Great Has Fallen!” God’s Kingdom Rules!: “In fact, Jehoiachin had sons at Babylon, Shealtiel, Malchiram, Pedaiah, Shenazzar, Jekamiah, Hoshama and Nedabiah. Of these sons Shealtiel was reckoned as the father of Zerubbabel, who became governor of Judah under Persia and who rebuilt the temple at restored Jerusalem.”