Why God Is Not Omniscient (God v. Moses)

Many consider the Hebrew “God” to be omniscient; unfortunately this is not so. Omniscient is defined as 1: having infinite awareness, understanding, and insight; and 2: possessed of universal or complete knowledge. I will prove my point by simply quoting the book of Numbers, chapter 14 [one of my favorite Bible stories]:

The Israelites, who have not yet occupied the land of Canaan [the land of milk and honey] are distraught and worried about its inhabitants, the Canaanites. To sum it up, the Israelites are simply terrified of being devoured in battle and have started to loose their faith in their “God”. They complain to Moses and even threatened to stone him and his posse (Aaron, Joshua, Caleb, etc).

Suddenly, “God” appears and speaks to Moses:

…Then the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites. And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me?” And how long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? [Numbers 14:10-11]

Now, why does an omniscient being ask such questions? Let me remind you, this is “God” asking the questions, not Moses. It’s obvious that “God” is lost.

Not only is “God” lost, but he starts to get upset, and as usual, “he” then decides to play the genocide card:

I will strike them with pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation of greater and mightier than they.” [Numbers 14:12]

Here is the part I love, Moses actually convinces “God” not to destroy the Israelites because other people will find out! Moses tells “God” that the other nations will find out and make fun of “him” because “he” couldn’t perform!

But Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for in your might you brought up this people from among them, and they will tell the inhabitants of the land….Now if you kill this people all at one time, then the nations will say, ‘It is because the Lord was not able to bring these people into the land he swore in the wilderness’. [Numbers 14:13-16]

It gets better; Moses now throws “God’s” own words back at “his” face!

And now, therefore, let the power of the Lord be great in the way you promised when you spoke, saying, ‘the Lord is slow to anger’, and abounding in steadfast love,… [Numbers 14:17-18]

Forgive the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of your steadfast love… [Numbers 14:19]

Moses manages to convince “God” to spare the Israelites, but not without a catch. “God” promises to that none of the Israelites “shall see the land that I swore to give to their ancestors; none of those who despised me shall see it.” [Numbers 14:23]

Ironically, Moses is also prohibited by “God” from ever reaching the promise land. Go figure!

What I find most interesting is that “God’s” rage is only subdued when Moses reminds him that others might find out and, as we all know, what other people think of us is very important. “God” is obviously very conscious of “his” image.

Now, if “God” was truly omniscient, did “he” not see any of this coming? Why ask Moses? It’s clear that Moses was much wiser than “God”; and here lays the rub: Moses actually proves that “God” is not infallible, thus “he” is no “God” at all.

Thanks for reading,


  1. All Bible quotes taken from New Revised Standard Version
  2. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/omniscient

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