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According to my reading of the following passage from Chronicles, an Israelite king who had been dead for a decade (according to Kings) attacked Judah:

2 Chronicles 16:1 (NKJV)
In the thirty-sixth year of the reign of Asa, Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah and built Ramah, that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah.

1 Kings 16:8 (NKJV)
In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah, Elah the son of Baasha became king over Israel, and reigned two years in Tirzah.

Please help me reconcile these two passages.

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Most commentaries attribute the year counts to different events, so while one count is that of the reigning king, the other might be from his first battle or the split of the kingdom. They manage to find accurate, textually-based summations, and even some other textual hints that the counts are different, although changing the scales like that is only out of pure necessity since there clearly is a contradiction. – bjorne Oct 23 '13 at 20:14
How is this question coming? Do you have an acceptable answer yet? – user2027 Feb 4 '14 at 12:39

There is no way possible that the 36th year was during the reign of Asa, since Baasha only reigned 24 yrs (1 Ki 15:33), and that reign had only begun when Asa was already sitting as king in Judah for about 4-5 years. In other words, "in the 36th year" refers to the time when the person was king since the kingdom divided, which is the preference of the writer(s) of Chronicles. On the other hand, the writer(s) of Kings preferred to reference the time since the king had actually begun reigning. Please see the graph for clarification, below, which is drawn to scale. So while Baasha and Asa were at odds from the get-go, the actual building up of the ramparts in Ramah did not get into full-swing until roughly the mid-points of their respective reigns. enter image description here

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Maybe I’m not following your question correctly, but what I see in 2 Chr 16:1 is regarding the 36th year of the reign of Asa, while 1 Ki 16:8 is about the 26th year of his life. Otherwise, I see a lot of match in the words of your 2 Chr 16:1 with my 1 Ki 15:17’s “Baasha, king of Israel, attacked Judah and fortified Ramah to prevent communication with Asa.”

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Just to be clear: are you saying that the 36th year of Asa's reign coincided with the 26th year of his life? – Niobius Nov 22 '13 at 22:36
No. I'm just saying the years of reign are one thing and "the 26th year of Asa" is regarding his life...about his age. – John Martin Nov 22 '13 at 22:50

B.S.J. Isserlin gives a concise, if boring answer to this contradiction in The Israelites, page 66. He explains that Chronicles is not highly rated for reliability. Whenever there is a contradiction between Kings and Chronicles, with no extra-biblical source as a guide, then Kings should be preferred.

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