Adam Jacobs, in his article “The Scientific Foreknowledge of the Jewish Sages,” published in Algemeiner, reviews the book by Haim Shore, Coincidences in the Bible and in Biblical Hebrew. Shore is a Professor of Engineering at Ben Gurion University, in Israel.
In his book, Shore demonstrates how the ancient Jewish wise men possessed a great knowledge about the nature of reality, a knowledge which is revealed in the writings they produced over many centuries.
In his article, Jacobs asked the following question: “How could human beings living hundreds or thousands of years ago have known about matters which they could not have verified through experimentation or that would have required knowledge of parts of the world that had not yet been discovered or phenomena that are fully invisible to the naked eye?”
Jacobs then proceeds to give three examples that demonstrate that the ancient sages were aware of facts that have only been revealed recently by scientific investigations. The three examples are: the number of stars, the theory of continental drift, and the law of conservation of mass and energy.
Below, is Jacobs’ third example:
The Law of Conservation of Mass and Energy
250 years ago Anton Lavoisier, (the father of modern chemistry), proved that matter that appears to have been destroyed continues to exist in a different form. It was a striking discovery due especially to the non-intuitive nature of the reality – when you burn a piece of paper it really does appear to be gone. 2800 years ago, King Solomon wrote the following in the book of Ecclesiastes “I know that whatever God does, it shall be forever; nothing can be added to it or taken away.” 1500 years later Rabbi Saadiah Gaon in his book of Beliefs and Opinions explained this verse to mean that “…a created object can never annihilate another object in any way. Even if it is burnt with fire, it can never be annihilated; because it is impossible to destroy something to the point that it becomes nothing; for only God [can do this], who himself created it from nothing.”
Jacobs also provides a list of other items discussed by the ancient Jewish sages that have parallel with modern, scientific understanding of things:
• The origin of the universe
• The exact length of the lunar cycle
• The existence of the outer layer of the sun
• Water in space
• Meteorites as a source of water on planet Earth
• The effects of sound waves on matter
• The weight of air
• How the conception of twins occurs
• The day when blood coagulation begins
Jacobs concludes his article with this statement: “Each one of these examples may be coincidental and there may be a variety of alternative methods of explaining them. But what if they are (as these sages claimed) the revealed wisdom of a transcendental power – one for whom this foreknowledge would be rather intuitive as it was the designer of the system in toto?”
For people who believe that there was a “designer of the system in toto,” there is no problem in also believing that the designer revealed some of the marvels of his creation to his creatures. Those who cannot accept the notion of a Creator God have to find another explanation for these so-called “coincidences in the Bible.”
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary