Believers and devotees are so impressed by prophets and their prophecies, that they seldom take the trouble to determine whether the predictions actually come true. Even those who have enough common sense to dismiss fortune-telling, palmistry, tarot reading, etc., as superstitions, are so dazzled by the very word "prophet," that they cannot see that a "prophet" is no less a fraud, merely cloaked in the trappings of religion. This essay examines several prophecies that were backed by the authority of the Bible itself, but still proved to be untrue.


Joshua not only made a baseless prediction about the fate of the indigenous peoples in the promised land; he promised its fulfillment in the name of God.

          Joshua 3:10 And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you,    
          and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and 
          the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites.

Apparently, the truth is that this supposed genocide never happened. It was nothing more than a sanctimonious fiction in the mouths of bloodthirsty religious fanatics.

          Joshua 15:63 As for the Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah 
          could not drive them out: but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem 
          unto this day.
          Joshua 17:12 Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those 
          cities; but the Canaanites would dwell in that land.
          1 Kings 9:20 And all the people that were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, 
          and Jebusites, which were not of the children of Israel, 21 Their children that were left after 
          them in the land, whom the children of Israel also were not able utterly to destroy, upon 
          those did Solomon levy a tribute of bondservice unto this day.
          2 Chronicles 8:7 As for all the people that were left of the Hittites, and the Amorites, and 
          the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and Jebusites, which were not of Israel, 8 But of their 
          children, who were left after them in the land, whom the children of Israel consumed not, 
          them did Solomon  make to pay tribute until this day.


The prophet Isaiah promised Ahaz, the king of Judah, that the invasion of his kingdom would not succeed.

          Isaiah 7:1 And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, 
          king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, 
          went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it... 3 Then said 
          the Lord unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shear-jashub thy son, at the 
          end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field; 4 And say unto him, 
          Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be faint-hearted for the two tails of these 
          smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah...   
          7 Thus saith the Lord God, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.

In fact, the invasion succeeded only too well.

          2 Chronicles 28:1 Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned 
          sixteen years in Jerusalem: but he did not that which was right in the sight of the Lord,  
          like David his father:.. 5 Wherefore the Lord his God delivered him into the hand of the king 
          of Syria; and they smote him, and carried away a great multitude of them captives, and 
          brought them to Damascus. And he was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, 
          who smote him with a great slaughter.

I cannot improve on Thomas Paine's comments on this fiasco in his book The Age of Reason:

          But to show the imposition and falsehood of Isaiah, we have only to attend to the sequel of 
          this story... which is, that instead of these two kings failing in their attempt against Ahaz, 
          king of Judah, as Isaiah had pretended to foretell in the name of the Lord, they succeeded; 
          Ahaz was defeated and destroyed... Thus much for this lying prophet and impostor,     
          Isaiah, and the book of falsehoods that bears his name.


When the priests found the forgotten book of the law in the temple, Josiah the king sent them to the prophetess Huldah for advice. She replied that God would punish the people because they had forgotten the law, but would be merciful to Josiah because he had reinstated it. Among other mercies, she promised him that he would die "in peace."

          2 Kings 22:20 Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be 
          gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring 
          upon this place. And they brought the king word again.

What actually happened was, that Pharaoh Necho invaded Judah, and Josiah led his army against the invaders. During the battle at Megiddo, Josiah was mortally wounded. He was evacuated to Jerusalem, but died of his wounds. In other words. he did not die in peace, but was a casualty in a war.

          Chronicles 35:23 And the archers shot at king Josiah; and the king said to his servants. 
          Have me away; for I am sore wounded. 24 His servants therefore took him out of the 
          chariot, and put him in the second chariot that he had; and they brought him to    
          Jerusalem, and he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchers of his fathers. And all 
          Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.


Jeremiah was obviously angry at Jehoiakim because of his "abominations," and therefore prophesied that when he died his body would be desecrated by the Judeans, and denied decent burial in Jerusalem.

          Jeremiah 22:18 Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king 
          of Judah; They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! or, Ah sister! they shall   
          not lament for him, saying, Ah lord! or, Ah his glory! 19 He shall be buried with the burial    
          of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem.

What actually happened, was that Nebuchadnezzar carried him off to Babylon, so that the people of Jerusalem never had a chance to make the prophecy come true.

          2 Chronicles 36:5 Jehoiakim was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and  
          he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem: and he did that which was evil in the sight of the 
          Lord his God. 6 Against him came up Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and bound him in 
          fetters, to carry him to Babylon.


The prediction was, that Jehoiakim would not leave an heir to the throne.

          Jeremiah 36:30 Therefore thus saith the Lord of Jehoiakim king of Judah; He shall have 
          none to sit upon the throne of David: and his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the 
          heat, and in the night to the frost.

In spite of the prophecy, Jehoiakim did leave an heir to the throne.

          2 Chronicles 36:8 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, and his abominations which he 
          did, and that which was found in him, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of 
          Israel and Judah: and his son Jehoiachin reigned in his stead.


In the course of his narration, St. Matthew points out that a prophecy of Jeremiah is fulfilled by the events of the passion.

          Matthew 27:3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was 
          condemned,  repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief 
          priests and elders... 7 And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to 
          bury strangers in... 9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, 
          saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom 
          they of the children of Israel did value; 10 And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord 
          appointed me.

Unfortunately, there is nothing even resembling this in the book of Jeremiah. (Zecharia 11:12-13 contains the key words "thirty pieces of silver," but otherwise it does not resemble Matthew's supposed quote.) In other words, we have here the fulfillment of a nonexistent prophecy. The Ethernet Virtual Connection Forum, a Christian database, offers possible explanations:

          The words quoted from Jeremiah are not found in his written prophecy, and it has been 
               1. That "Matthew quoted from memory" (Augustine and others).
               2. That the passage was originally in Jeremiah, but the Jews cut it out (Eusebius and 
                    others); though no evidence is produced.
               3. That it was contained in another writing by Jeremiah, which is now lost (Origen and 
               4.That Jeremiah is put for the whole body of the prophets (Bishop Lightfoot and others) 
                    though no such words can be found in the other prophets.
               5. That it was "a slip of the pen" on the part of Matthew (Dean Alford).
               6. That the mistake was allowed by the Holy Spirit on purpose that we may not trouble 
                    ourselves as to who the writers were, but receive all prophecy as direct from God, 
                    Who spoke by them (Bishop Wordsworth)...
          These suggestions only create difficulties much more grave than the one which they 
          attempt to remove, but all of them are met and answered by the simple fact that Matthew 
          does not say it was written by Jeremiah, but that it was "spoken" by him...
          Of course... one may be said to "say" what he has written; but we need not go out of our 
          way to use this figure, if by so doing we create the very difficulty we are seeking to solve. 


Jesus promised one of the malefactors who was crucified with him, that they would be together in heaven that very day.

          Luke 23:43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me 
          in paradise.

But Jesus himself had stated that he would lie in his grave for three days, and only then be resurrected and taken up into heaven,

          Matthew 12:39 Then he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation 
          seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet 
          Jonas: 40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the 
          Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
          Luke 24:6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet 
          in Galilee, 7 Saying, the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and  
          be crucified, and the third day rise again.

Jesus should have known that his prediction could not be fulfilled. His promise to the malefactor was, to say the least, irresponsible.


According to a hasidic story, the Krakow rabbi, while saying his morning prayers, began to weep and tear his garments. He told his devotees that in his mind's eye he had seen that the Warsaw rabbi had died. They all wept and tore their garments. Shortly afterward, a devotee of the Warsaw rabbi came to visit, and they began to commiserate with him. But he informed them that the Warsaw rabbi was alive and well, adding: "What sort of useless rabbi do you follow, who makes such mistakes?" The Krakow devotees answered: "It is of no consequence whether his vision was right or wrong. The main thing is his God-given gift of clairvoyance."