Supposed Contradictions

I. Problems with Names, Ages, Dates and Numbers

Bible Rejecter’s Question # 1: Twos or sevens?
Gen. 6:20, 7:14-15 say there were two of each kind of fowl on the Ark but Gen.7:3 says there were seven of each kind!


Bible Believer: There were at least 2 of each sort, of each kind of animal (including fowls) that God commanded Noah to bring on the Ark and this is what Gen 6:20 (see verse 19) and 7:14 refer to. But Noah was commanded to bring 7 of each sort of fowl on to the ark in addition to what was commanded in Gen 6:20. This merely meant that he had to add an extra 5 on to the already established 2 of every sort, for the fowl. If there were 7 of each sort of fowl (Gen 7:3) then there was obviously at least 2 of each sort (Gen 6:20). The passages don’t conflict.


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 2: How old was Terah (Abraham’s father) when he died?
Gen 11:26 says that Terah was 70 when Abraham was born. Acts 7:4 and Gen.12:4 say Abraham left Haran aged 75 after his father died so Terah could not have been more than 145 (70+75). But…Gen.11:32 says that Terah lived to be 205!


Bible Believer: There is no contradiction here, Terah died at age 205. Brian stumbles on one verse and loses the whole plot. Gen 11:26 does not say that “Terah was 70 when Abraham was born” (as Brian asserts), it merely says that Terah lived 70 years before he begat sons. It DOESN’T tell us which son was born when he was 70, or that all three of his sons were in quick succession.

The list does indeed go Abram, Nahor, Haran, however this doesn’t mean that Abraham was the eldest of the three, in fact the next two verses suggest that Haran was the eldest. Those who think that the verse is saying Abraham is the eldest here should notice that Noah’s sons are listed in the order of Shem, Ham and Japheth every time their names appear together including in the verses speaking of their births (Gen 5:32, 7:13, 9:18). Despite this order Japheth was the eldest not the youngest (Gen 10:21) and Ham not Japheth was younger than the other two (Gen 9:22-24). So the order of sons in Gen 11:26 cannot be taken to say anything about which son was born first. They are listed in order of significance. Terah was 130 (he died when he was 205) when he begat Abraham not 70.  

Bible Rejecter’s Question # 3: How many went to Egypt?
Exod.1:5, Gen.46:27 and Deut.10:22 say 70 people.
But.. .
Acts 7:14 says 75.

Bible Believer: A little study of Gen 46:26-27 clears this one up. Verse 26 says that all the people that came out of Jacob’s “loins” that came down to Egypt with Jacob were 66. Verse 27 mentions that ALL the people of Jacob’s household that settled in Egypt (we add Joseph, his two sons and Jacob himself to the 66) were 70 altogether. Exodus 1:5 and Deut 10:22 are referring to the Gen 46:27 count. The Bible says this figure of 70 doesn’t include Jacob’s son’s wives (see Gen 46:26, before verse 27); and this is plain since they didn’t come out of “Jacob’s loins”. In Acts 7:14 Stephen is referring to ALL those that Joseph called into Egypt, which obviously DOES include Jacob’s son’s wives. We can assume that nine out of eleven wives came with them (at least one had died -
Gen 38:12), which Stephen added to the 66 of Gen 46:26 making a “kindred” of 75 that were called by Joseph into Egypt.


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 4: 25 or 30?
Levites served from 30 (Num.4:30) or 25 (Num.8:24)?

Bible-Believer: The commandment given in Num 4:30 for Levites to serve from 30 was evidently temporary (probably due to the distribution of ages among the males at the time) and took effect in the wilderness until the commandment in 8:24. The finalised commandment of the Levites’ duties (including serving from 25 upwards) in 8:24 was to take effect for the rest of Israel’s future.


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 5: How many horsemen?
2 Sam.8:4 says 700 horsemen.
But.. .
1 Chron.18:4 says 7000 horsemen.

Bible Believer: This is not an error; Brian obviously hasn’t investigated the two books involved for very long or specifically looked up their use of the term “horsemen”. The author of 1st and 2nd Samuel uses the term “horsemen” ONLY to refer to soldiers on horseback that DID NOT fight in chariots, both groups are treated distinctly in these books, see 1Sam 13:5 (30,000 doesn’t go into 6000) and 2Sam 10:18. Meanwhile, when 1st and 2nd Chronicles was written the term “horsemen” was clearly used differently, as an all encompassing term, referring not only to soldiers on horseback that DID NOT fight in chariots but also to soldiers who DID fight in chariots (2Kings 13:14, 1Chron 19:6, 2Chron 9:25). The distinction of “horsemen” and “footmen” is the predominant one in Chronicles. When 1Chron 18:4 refers to “horsemen” it is speaking of both chariot men and men on horseback that weren’t in chariots, while when 2Sam 8:4 refers to “horsemen” it is only speaking of men on horseback that weren’t in chariots. The author of 1Chronicles merely translates the information in 2Sam 8:4 into his standard of categorisation for armies. This is the reason for the seeming discrepancy. 2Sam 8:4 doesn’t mention how many of the soldiers that fought in chariots were taken (he merely mentions their chariots) but using both accounts and knowing that 2Sam 8:4 is speaking only of those “not in chariots” we can deduce that there were 6300 chariot soldiers taken and 700 horsemen who weren’t in chariots taken (equalling 7000 taken altogether).


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 6: How many chariots and horsemen or footmen?
2 Sam.10:18 says 700 chariots and 40,000 HORSEMEN.
But.. .
1 Chron.19:18 says 7000 chariots and 40,000 FOOTMEN.

Bible-Believer: Firstly to the supposed contradiction of 7000 vs. 700 chariots. 1Chron 19:18 doesn’t say 7000 “chariots” as Brian claims above (how could David “slay” chariots?) the verse says he slew “7000 MEN” that fought in chariots. 2Sam 10:18 does say that he slew the men of “700 CHARIOTS” though; this means it’s a case of 7000 “men” vs. 700 “chariots”, which isn’t a disagreement. The verses are giving the numbers of different things! Clearly there were 10 men assigned to 1 chariot (700 chariots = 7000 men), this was more or less normal practice (2Chron 1:14). The case for the second supposed contradiction between the verses is equally weak. Evidently David slew 40,000 horsemen (which 1Chron 19:18 doesn’t mention) AND 40,000 footmen (which 2Sam 10:18 doesn’t mention). Similar and much larger slaughters to this were not uncommon (2Chron 13:17, 2Chron 28:6, 1Kings 20:29).


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 7: How many years of famine?
2 Sam.24:13 says 7 years of famine.
But.. .
1 Chron.2l: 12 says 3 years of famine in the same account.

Bible-Believer: This requires a bit of study but both accounts are correct. What we must first realise is that 2Sam 24:13 and 1Chron 21:12 are recording two separate statements that Gad made, they are not giving contradictory details on the same statement. 2Sam 24:13 records Gad asking David “shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land?” but the account in 1Chron 21:11-12 doesn’t record Gad asking David that question or any question at all. In fact 1Chron 21:11-12 records a COMMAND that Gad gave David “Choose thee, either three years famine…”. Both verses are clearly recording TWO completely different statements that Gad made to David that day and should not be compared. He uttered both statements, evidently 2Sam 24 doesn’t record the 1Chron 21:11-12 “command” and 1Chron 21 doesn’t record the 2Sam 24:13 “question”. The question remains though, why would Gad say “shall SEVEN years of famine come unto thee…?” and talk about David choosing THREE years famine (1Chron 21:11) during the same incident?

The answer is that when Gad was asking the question there had already been FOUR years famine in the land (2Sam 21:1 says David prayed after 3 years famine, 2-3 months passed between then and ch.24, 24:8 says the numbering of Israel lasted almost 10 months, after this Gad comes to David with his question). This is why he could warn David that the curse could be about to turn into seven years famine in David’s reign before he gave him the option of THREE years famine (4+3=7). This is also the reason why 2Sam 24 didn’t need to record Gad’s mentioning of the option of three years. Gad probably asked the question recorded in 2Sam 24:13 first and after that gave the command recorded in 1Chron 21:11-12.


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 8: How high were Jachin and Boaz, the pillars of King Solomon's Temple?
1 Kings 7:15 says 18 cubits high.
But.. .
2 Chron.3:15 says 35 cubits high.

Bible-Believer: One passage concerns the making of the pillars; the other concerns the assembly of them. 1Kings 7:15 is referring to the height of the original basic pillars (18 cubits) that Hiram cast in the plain of Jordan (1Kings 7:14-15, 41-46) before he SEPERATELY cast all its add-ons (1Kings 7:16). 2Chron 3:15 however is referring to the height of what Solomon made “before the house”, which were the pillars complete with add-ons; it was here he put together all the parts (see the next few verses) for the pillars to be reared up. Complete with chapiters (3:15), chains on the head of the pillars, pommels and/or bowls upon the chapiters (2Chron 4:12-13, 1Kings 7:41) and pomegranates above the chapiters (3:16, 1Kings 7:20) the pillars were 35 cubits high when they were erected.


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 9: When did Basha die?
1 Kings 16:6-8 says during the 26th year of Asa's reign,
2 Chron.16:1 says he was still alive during the 36th year of Asa's reign.

Bible-Believer: In the books of Kings and Chronicles rulership complications many times give rise to numerical differences in the records between the four books but the differences aren’t mistakes, the different authors are just reckoning the same numerical information differently.

The “26th year of Asa’s reign” spoken of 1Kings 16:8 only speaks about the amount of time that Asa had reigned ALONE, and these “26 years” do not include the period he co-reigned with his mother queen Maachah before she made an idol and was dethroned (see 1Kings 15:10-13) which could have lasted ten years or more. This is very plausible as it wouldn’t be the first time that the author differentiates between a co-reign and an individual reign (see below). This explains the seeming inconsistency with Baasha still being alive in the “36th year of Asa’s reign” in 2Chron 16:1 (the “36 years” of 2Chron 16:1 including BOTH Asa’s co-reign and individual reign). A similar case arises in the records of how long Jotham reigned, which also seems at first sight to be contradictory (see “contradiction” nos. 10 and 13 just below).


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 10: How long did Omri reign?
1 Kings 16:23 says that Omri began to reign in the 31st year of King Asa of Judah and that he reigned for 12 years but… 1 Kings 16:28-29 says that Omri died and was replaced by his son Ahab in the 38th year of King Asa of Judah! How could Omri have reigned 12 years if he ruled from the 31st to the 38th year of Asa’s rule: How could Ahab have taken over from his dad, Omri, in the 38th year of Asa’s rule when Omri ruled until the 43rd year of Asa’s rule according to 1 Kings 16:23?

Bible Believer: The “twelve years” of 1Kings 16:23 more than likely begins from the 27th year of Asa, not the 31st. It was in the 27th year of Asa that Omri first began to reign as king over Israel (see verses 15-16). However he wasn’t undisputed king until Tibni died (verse 22), and by this time it was the 31st year of Asa (verse 23). So Omri began to reign on two different dates. The 27th year to the 38th year could not be twelve whole years of course, however the convention in the book of Kings is to count a part of a year in power as a whole year in the record (see 1Kings 15:25-28 for example). Alternatively if the twelve years of verse 16:23 do begin in the 31st year of Asa, the answer would apparently be that Omri’s son Ahab was made king by his father five years before Omri died and the year after the new king’s palace in Samaria was complete, so their reigns overlapped (this was another common situation-See 2Kings 15:5, 15:33 then 15:30 to see Jotham’s co-regency being counted as years in power).


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 11: What year?
2 Kings 1:17 says that Jehoram began to reign in the 2nd year while 2 Kings 8:16 saysit was in the 5th year.

Bible-Believer: 2Kings 1:17 and 8:16 are clearly discussing the beginning of the reigns of two different Jehorams. One is Jehoram the son of Ahab, king of Israel (2Kings ch1). The other is Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah (2Kings 8:16).

Another accusation of contradiction is frequently made regarding these two verses because both Jehoram’s reigns are dated by one another. A comparison of 2Kings 3:1 and 1:17 (see also 8:16 with regards this) leads us to the conclusion that there was a seven year co-reigning of Jehoshaphat and Jehoram in Judah, beginning 2 years before Jehoram of Israel began to reign (the 16th year of Jehoshaphat) and ending 5 years into his reign when Jehoram of Judah began to reign alone.


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 12: What year? (Part II)                                                   
Did Ahaziah become king in the 11th (2 Kings 9:29) or 12th (2 Kings 8:25) year of Joram?

Bible-Believer: It appears that the verse in 9:29 (the context is an event in the history of Israel) is referring to the number of calendar years that Joram had been king in Israel before Ahaziah began to reign in Judah and not how many actual years Joram was reigning for like 8:25 is (the context here is kings and their reigns). Say for example Joram was made king in the 11th month (“shebat”) of the 600th year and Ahaziah became king in the 2nd month (“iyar”) of the 611th year, Joram would be in his TWELFTH year of reigning when Ahaziah began to reign (from and including 600 to 611) even though it would only be 10 years and 3 months since he was made king (therefore his ELEVENTH year in office).


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 13: How old was Jehoiachin when he began to reign and how long did he reign? (see here also)
2 Kings 24:8 says he was 18 and reigned for 3 months.
But.. .
2 Chron.36:9 says he was 8 and ruled for 3 months 10 days.

Bible-Believer: This is not as SIMPLE as Brian makes it out to be and definitely not a mistake.

In the Bible’s History Books of Kings and Chronicles, a king can be said to “begin to reign” at a few different ages in his life, especially when there are complications involved with his reign.

There are more than a few examples of this.

1.      For example, King David was anointed king in 1Samuel 16:13 but fled from the already reigning king Saul (there were now two kings at this stage) for many years until he became the undisputed king when Saul died.
When David did become undisputed king, he was anointed again in 2Samuel 2:4 (at a different age) and anointed yet again in 2Samuel 5:3. All this goes to show that David became king long before he started to “REIGN”.  In other words, David “began to reign” at THREE different times in his life.

2.      See also 1Kings 16:15-23 where King Omri “began to reign” at two different times in his life, because of complications.


Jehoiachin (the son) is said to have begun to reign at two different times: first as co-ruler and rightful heir when a child aged 8, and then as undisputed king as an adult aged 18. This is made clear when you examine the context of both 2Kings 24 and 2Chronicles 36.


2Chronicles 36:5-9 describes how Jehoiakim (Jehoiachin’s father) was bound in fetters to be taken to Babylon and then records that his son Jehoiachin was “8” when he began to reign (Jehoiakim didn’t die yet). So, Jehoiachin becomes officially king at the age of 8 because his father was carried to Babylon, and this is obviously the situation the author of Chronicles (without mentioning the death of Jehoiakim) is speaking of. There were two living kings therefore at this stage (both the father, Jehoiakim, and Jehoiachin, the 8 year old son) but one was in Babylon and one (the 8 year old) was in Israel.


There is a difference in the way 2Kings 24 tells the story. It specifically mentions that Jehoiakim slept with his fathers (died) and THEN Jehoiachin his son reigned in his stead starting at age “18”.

So, It seems that 2Chronicles focuses on when Jehoiachin became replacement king at age 8, while 2Kings is to mention when Jehoiakim became undisputed king (after the death of his father king Jehoiakim).

Jehoiachin (like Omri and Jotham) therefore began to reign at two different times: 2Chronicles recording when he took his father’s place as ruler after his father was carried away to Babylon alive, and 2Kings is speaking about when Jehoiachin became undisputed king after his father’s death ten years later.

It is probable that Jehoiachin’s mother (Jehoiakim’s wife) ruled for him for the ten years before Jehoiachin reached the age of adulthood (18 years old). Notice 2Kings 24:15 where she is taken away along with the rulers of the kingdom and Jeremiah 13:18-19 where she is called “queen”.

A Chart showing the overlap of the reigns…

Macintosh HD:Users:craigledbetter:Office Sync:Jehoiakin.png


Regarding the 3 months versus 3 months and 10 days contradiction, 2Kings is being less specific than 2Chronicles. In other words, 3 months and 10 days is still only 3 MONTHS (it’s not 4 months or 5 months), just like 3 minutes and 10 seconds is still only 3 MINUTES.


Below is a list of the kings of Judah after king Saul, David and Solomon, and the years that they reigned…






928-911 B.C.

17 years
















Athaliah (Queen)
































3 months






3 months




Nebuchadnezzar destroys Jerusalem and the Temple in 586 B.C.


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 14: When did Nebuzaradan come to Jerusalem?
2 Kings 25:8 says the 7th day of the fifth month.
But.. .
Jer.52:12 says the 10th day of the fifth month.

Bible-Believer: 2Kings 25:8 says “in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, …… came Nebuzar-adan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, UNTO Jerusalem.”
Jeremiah 52:12 says “in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, …… came Nebuzar-adan, captain of the guard, which served the king of Babylon, INTO Jerusalem.”

INTO and UNTO have different meanings, UNTO means towards or to. For example when Isa 45:22 says “Look UNTO me, and be ye saved”, it isn’t saying “look INTO me”. Nebuzaradan came TO the city of Jerusalem on the seventh, and he and his armies actually went INTO (invaded) the city of Jerusalem on the tenth. The author of Kings records the date of arrival of Nebuzaradan to Jerusalem’s walls, Jeremiah records the date of his army’s invasion of Jerusalem.


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 15: 7th or 8th son?
Was David Jesse’s 7th (1 Chron.2:15) or 8th (1Sam.16:10-11) son?

Bible Believer: There’s no reason to assume that there was actually an error made somewhere here (I wouldn’t gamble the loss of my soul on it!) because the Bible doesn’t go into detail about Jesse’s family or his sons, so we can only speculate. The most likely answer is that Jesse didn’t “beget” his seventh son, he brought him up for a dead or incapacitated relative of his like Mordechai did for Esther’s parents (Est 2:7) and Michal did for her sister (2Sam 21:8). This would have rightfully made David the seventh “begotten” son of Jesse as 1Chron 2:15 says (see 1Cron 2:13-this genealogy only lists Jesse’s “begotten” sons).


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 16: Differing census figures?
Ezra 2:64 says the number of the congregation was 42,360 but if you go to the trouble of adding the numbers given its really 29,818. Ezra (and the Bible) erred by 12,542.
Neh.7:66 says of the same census that the number of the congregation was again 42,360 but this time when the numbers given are added the actual total is 31,089! Nehemiah (and the Bible) erred by 11,271. In an account of the same census Ezra and Nehemiah give different numbers for each clan (e.g. Ezra, Arah:775 vs. Nehemiah, Arah:652 etc.) but give the exact total count of 42,360! If this is God’s word then He can’t add and can’t get the same story right when telling it twice!

Bible Believer: Firstly the fact that the numbers given in both the Ezra and Nehemiah census don’t add up to the total of 42,360 is a clue, that the “numbers given” aren’t the ENTIRE congregation! The numbers in the census of both books are only the amount of MEN that returned to Judah (see Neh 7:7 and Ezra 2:2) while the total of 42,360 includes the whole congregation (Neh 7:66, Ezra 2:64). There is no error in addition. The rebuilding of the city would attract many more men than women, and especially single men who didn’t have livelihoods back in Babylon. Many of the men that returned to Judah married non-Jewish wives (see Neh 13:23 and Ezra 9:2).

On the second point, Nehemiah’s census gives different numbers to Ezra’s census for over 20 clans, which rules out the possibility of the whole thing being an unintentional mistake (keep in mind Nehemiah was written after Ezra). Clearly when Nehemiah found the census (see Neh 7:5), which he proceeds to copy out through the rest of ch7, the records had been changed since the time that Ezra made his original census (the one of Ezra 2). Not only are many numbers different in Nehemiah’s census but also the order of the families listed is different. So Nehemiah merely copied out faithfully the census that he found in Neh 7:5. The only thing left to speculate is why there were differences between that census and Ezra’s census. There are many explanations for the changes. The most plausible answer is that the census that Nehemiah found in Neh 7:5 was an update to Ezra’s first census (which may have been merely a count of all the people that left or planned to leave Babylon for Israel, made in Babylon). The update was made in Israel after a recount (carried out after Ezra’s arrival in Israel) of all the men that had actually arrived in Israel from Babylon. More men from various families came after Ezra’s first census was made, and not everyone on Ezra’s first census made it to Israel or had died by the time the update was made. Despite the other changes, the total of 42,360 was kept in the census that Nehemiah found, which may be because the 42,360 of Ezra 2:64 actually took into account the updates already (while the numbers of the separate families didn’t) or otherwise the updater of the census decided to leave the figure of 42,360 because only the total number of men had been recounted and updated and as we have said the TOTAL included women.