Coming or Going, Noah? (Updated)

Update: On March 2, 2016 I sent the following article to Dr. Kent Hovind. My expectation was that, since he issued the challenge on his broadcast, he would consider my response on his broadcast. On Kent’s March 28, 2016 broadcast (at 23:30), the first line of my email was read before Kent decided to skip the email entirely, going on to another question.

A picture of Jonathan Sampson's email to Kent Hovind
Original email sent to Dr. Kent Hovind after he issued a challenged to Jonathan Sampson regarding God’s command for Noah to go/come into the Ark.

A Bit of Backstory

If you know me, you likely know that I used to be a King James Onlyist. I adopted the perspective shortly after moving to Pensacola, FL as a young man around 2003.

Shortly after moving to Pensacola, I was surrounded by a group of wonderful people who all began to show me where my Bible was “missing” verses like Matthew 18:11 (see Luke 19:10). Having no knowledge to catch me, I fell by persuasion rather swiftly, and began parroting the same arguments.

Fast-forward now, 13 years later, and I am no longer a King James Onlyist. However, many of my friends are, including Kent Hovind (yes, that Kent Hovind). Since his release from prison, Kent has been leveraging YouTube to uncritically gush over the works of Gail Riplinger. I watched each broadcast, but eventually became so frustrated with his/their misinformation that I had to begin responding.

Well, my responses caught Kent’s attention, and before long I was banned. Yes, banned. Kent once threatened to throttle my comments on YouTube; this never happened. Almost immediately afterwards, my posts became visible to me, and me alone.

Kent Issues a Challenge

In spite of his decision to block me, Kent has called me out in a recent video:

“Jonathan (I assume you’re still watching), did God tell Noah to ‘come into the ark’, or ‘go into the ark’? I would just like an answer to that one question.”

— Kent Hovind, 2016-02-23 YouTube broadcast at 29:30

Kent claims, once again, that there is a crucial difference between the King James Bible, and the modern “perversions” (his words, obviously). For the record, lets look at the contrasting renderings:

English Standard Version (source)
Then the Lord said to Noah, Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation.

King James Version (source)
And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.

The distinction here is with God being inside the Ark, in the KJV, while being outside the Ark, in the English Standard Version (and others). So which is it? Coming or going, Noah?

God’s Perspective

Normally, I wouldn’t spend much time on this type of issue. Theologically, nothing here is at stake. The Bible teaches the omnipresence of God. His eyes are in all places; no secret place can hide you from the God who fills Heaven and Earth (Jeremiah 23:24).

Given God’s absolute omnipresence, He is both within the Ark, and without. It’s proper for Him to say “come in,” and “go in,” given His unique perspective. Consider the record in Genesis 19:24 where God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah:

King James Version
Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven;

So the Lord is on the Earth calling down fire and brimstone from the Lord out of heaven. So where is the Lord? In heaven, or in Earth? Is the Lord sending judgment, or calling judgment? The question is flawed.

One thing that frustrates me is how King James Onlyists, and Kent in particular, pretend that these types of variant readings are part of a larger ploy to attack God in the modern “perversions” (again, his words). To test the consistency of their claim, I’ve made a habit of first checking earlier English translations to see how they rendered these passages:

Wycliffe (1382) “Enter thou and all thine house into the ship…”
Tyndale (1530) “goo in to the arcke both thou and all thy houssold…”
Matthew’s (1537) “Go in to the arcke; both thou and all thy household…”
Geneva (1599) “Enter thou and all thine house into the Ark…”

(Wycliffe and Geneva on BibleGateway)

Was Wycliffe trying to damage God’s Word? Tyndale, the originator of many famous Authorized Version passages, rendered the text “go”. Even the Geneva, stemming also from the Textus Receptus, rendered it without a reference point; “Enter thou…into the Ark.” There is no conspiracy, Kent.

And Finally, a bit of Hebrew

I fully expect Kent to check-out at this point (or maybe try and push one of Riplinger’s books), but for those of you who are interested in actually studying a matter out, we can briefly look to see which word is in question, and how else the King James Version translates it.

According to an online Hebrew Lexicon, the term used here is bow’. Now, I don’t speak, read, or comprehend Hebrew, but thanks to the many people who do, I don’t need to. A cursory glance at a couple of online resources shows the semantic range of this word:

בּוֹא bôwʼ, bo; a primitive root; to go or come

According to Strongs, this word appears 2,577 times, and with the following renderings:

come (1,435x), bring (487x), … in (233x), enter (125x), go (123x), carry (17x), …down (23x), pass (13x), …out (12x), misc (109x).


I feel pretty content with what we’ve learned here. I still feel it was an unnecessary journey, but I learned a couple of things along the way and am better for it. So whether you’re coming, or going, I wish you godspeed in your continued study of His Word.

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