Just as the New Testament contains undesigned coincidences, so the Old Testament
has parallel accounts which provide coincidence material. The parallel accounts of
Kings and Chronicles produce obvious parallel texts and there are frequently prophets
who also write about the same historical events.
One of the larger detailed correspondences between the two main historical narratives
(Kings and Chronicles) is the way that the dating information within them can be
fitted together to produce a consistent chronology. This is done by fitting together
large numbers of minor coincidences between accounts. More conventional undesigned
coincidences are also common in the Old Testament. Blunt lists 65 different ones.
Here are examples of just two.
Example: Jericho and Flax
The Children of Israel left Egypt and crossed the Sinai Desert to arrive on the east
bank of the River Jordan a generation later. From here they crossed into Canaan.
The first town that they took was Jericho. The crossing of the River Jordan took
place in the spring. The date is given in Joshua 4:18 as the tenth day of the first
month. This is four days before Passover, and the Passover was celebrated soon afterwards
Before the Israelites crossed the River Jordan two spies were sent out to Jericho.
Here they were seen and soldiers were sent to look for them. They were hidden by
a woman called Rahab on the roof of her house. The detail that is important is that
the men were hidden under piles of flax:-
But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that
she had laid in order on the roof. (Joshua 2:6)
In the land of Canaan the barley harvest began just before Passover. It was preceded
by the flax harvest which ended as the barley harvest began. This can be demonstrated
by consideration of various passages in the Old Testament, but it would be known
to anyone who lived in Canaan as part of their lives tending crops. It was because
of the time of year that there was flax drying on the roof of Rahab’s house.
The coincidence lies in the time of the crossing of the Jordan - just before Passover
- and the detail that there was flax airing on the roof of Rahab’s house, something
that might be expected at this time of year. The details are insignificant and not
a major part of the story and one has to look hard to find them. They are certainly
consistent. It is unlikely that they were invented by the writer, which suggests
that they are part of an accurate historical record.
The Occupation of Gibbethon
When the Israelites entered the land of Canaan and settled there, Gibbethon was assigned
to the Levites. However, in 1 Kings 15:27, in the reign of Baasha (early on in the
divided monarchy - c900BC) Gibbethon was occupied by the Philistines and the army
of the northern kingdom of Israel was besieging it. This shows a change in occupancy
in the preceding five centuries.
The change in ownership is not described in the Bible, but the reason for its happening
is given in 2 Chronicles. This is in the account of the reign of Rehoboam, king of
the southern kingdom of Judah a little earlier than the time of Baasha (930-913 BC).
The passage which explains why the Philistines could easily occupy the city is:-
Rehoboam lived in Jerusalem, and he built cities for defense in Judah...
And the priests and the Levites who were in all Israel presented themselves to him
from all places where they lived. For the Levites left their common lands and their
holdings and came to Judah and Jerusalem, because Jeroboam and his sons cast them
out from serving as priests of the LORD, (2 Chronicles 11:5,13-14)
The city had been abandoned by the Levites because of the religious policy of Jeroboam
I, the king of Israel shortly before Baasha (who seized the throne from Jeroboam’s
son). As a consequence the Philistines were able to take Gibbethon in an era when
city walls were proof against most armies.
The detail is minor and three different books of the Bible are required to explain