2 Samuel 23:8

אלה שמות הגברים אשר לדוד ישב בשבת תחכמני ראש השלשי הוא עדינו העצנו על־שמנה מאות חלל בפעם אחד ס
These are the names of David’s mighty warriors: Josheb-Basshebeth, a Tahkemonite, was chief of the Three; [he raised his spear] against eight hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter.

1 Chronicles 11:11

ואלה מספר הגברים אשר לדויד ישבעם בן־חכמוני ראש השלושים הוא־עורר את־חניתו על־שלש־מאות חלל בפעם אחת׃
This is the list of David’s mighty warriors: Jashobeam, a Hakmonite, was chief of the officers; he raised his spear against three hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter.

It's NIV and the Masoretic Text comes from blueletterbible.org;

These verses are similar and different at the same time, it's clear that it's the same person, because Adino the Eznite theory requires adding or leaving the part about the spear and makes Four from Three.

I see there are many differences like that across the same books and noone seems to do anything about that. I want to know if there are other manuscripts, ancient translations etc. that have these verses not conflicting each other and since that must be scribal mistake, how, taking into consideration all sources we have, the text from the original manuscript could look like?

  • 1
    It is not true that 'no-one seems to do anything about it'. Good and worthy men have spent their working lives clarifying the scripture, collating the manuscripts, correcting the discrepancies. I have studied primarily the KJV for fifty years, now, and I have very, very rarely found any instances of real errors in the text. Almost invariably, there is a good reason for the apparent 'anomalies' that I find. This one, also, has an explanation. It is a mistake to immediately jump to the conclusion that an apparent discrepancy is a textual error. First, eliminate all other possibilities.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 15, 2018 at 11:29
  • @NigelJ I said 'seems' because I see this contradiction being ignored by translations. I pressed enter too soon, intended to write more, give me time. Sep 15, 2018 at 11:38
  • 1
    Textual Critics collate manuscripts. Translators translate the text. Both are specialities requiring a lifetime's devotion.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 15, 2018 at 11:43
  • @NigelJ. My time for edit passed, here it is then: I eliminated other possibilities, the name here has two different variations of which Josheb-Basshebeth looks like error, then we have Tahkemonite and Hakmonite, similar words and of course infamous 800 and 300 men. The Hebrew words also look similar. It's true many passages can get reconciled easily when giving them thought, but remember, you were working with copies of original Scripture and copies aren't free of error. I have no idea how to reconcile this, so I look for the answer in ancient manucripts. Sep 15, 2018 at 11:47
  • May I suggest you add your research to your question ? It is valuable information.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 15, 2018 at 11:49

3 Answers 3


Great question.

In this case it is quite obvious that the verse in Chronicles is the original text. The text as is preserved in Chronicles reads smoothly: Jashobeam, the Hakmonite (literally: son of Hakmoni) is a chief officer for David and killed 300 people with his spear. The text in Samuel however is badly corroded and fragmented that it is barely readable. This is a literal translation of the original text:

These are the names of David’s mighty warriors: Sits in Shebet-Takhmonite. The head of three--he is Adino the Eznite [...] against eight hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter.

As you can see the text doesn't read at all. Who is sitting in Shebet-Takhmonite? Did a town by this name even exist in biblical times? It is not found anywhere else in the bible! Furthermore, shouldn't the text name the warrior before mentioning his hometown? And the phrase "head of three", seems to be misplaced as well, since the text hasn't yet made clear that three warriors existed (See verse 18 for example, where "head of three" makes more sense as it follows after the three warriors have been mentioned. This is probably also what caused some scribes to correct the word שלישים to שלשי resulting in yet another scribal error). Then the words עורר את חניתו (raised his spear) are also missing from the text, and we are left to fill in the gaps "[he raised his spear] against three hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter."

As I have noted in the comments, the NIV completely disregards the words Adino the Eznite and exchanges it with "raised his spear"; so they have already played around with the original text, but the original text does not contain these words. Indeed the NJPS translation has the words "he wielded his spear" in brackets (after "Adino the Eznite") to show that it is not in the original text. Some translators have also noted the problematic words יושב בשבת תחכמני in the beginning of the verse, so they have chosen to reinterpret it as the name of a person called "Josheb-basshebeth". The NJPS has taken this regrettable route, but this translation is of course ludicrous, as the word יושב is a known and common biblical word which refers to "sitting". And adding confusion to this, this supposed Josheb-basshebeth would somehow have to be synonymous with Adino the Eznite though they don't bear any resemblance, and seem to be completely different people! The reality is inescapable, that the text in Samuel is fragmented and unreadable.

The text in Chronicles however follows the natural order and reads smoothly: first it names the officer Jashobeam, the Hakmonite, and then it goes to tell the mighty deeds that he has done. So ultimately we have to favor the text in Chronicles.

The only anomaly that remains is how the words עדינו העצני = Adino the Eznite made it into the text in Samuel. Is it merely a corruption of עורר את חניתו? it is hard to see how it became that. Is it perhaps the name of a different warrior which followed after Jashobeam the Hakmonite in the original text but later became one with the Takhmonite? But then we would have to explain why this name is missing from Chronicles? This question must remain unresolved.

  • Thanks, that's what I wanted. One more question - do we have manuscripts or mentions of that corrupted verse except MT? I mean Septuagint, writings of Church Fathers, ancient Jewish commentaries? We must have something to say with full confidence how 2 Samuel 23:8 looked originally. Sep 16, 2018 at 19:28
  • I haven't searched other ancient texts but if your looking for the LXX you can view it here biblehub.com/sep/2_samuel/23.htm... it seems like in the LXX it is two different people: Jashobeam and Adino. I will continue my research when I have more time.
    – bach
    Sep 16, 2018 at 19:40
  • see also this similar question hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/845/… and my answer which may be helpful to you
    – bach
    Sep 16, 2018 at 20:18
  • unfortunately the verses are all missing from the dead sea scrolls dssenglishbible.com/2%20samuel%2023.htm
    – bach
    Sep 16, 2018 at 20:27
  • 1
    @KonradŚciepura: The Septuagint only adds to the confusion, by rendering Josheb / Jashob(eam) as Jebosthe the Canaanite in Samuel, and as Jesebaal, son of Achaman in Chronicles.
    – Lucian
    Sep 17, 2018 at 0:56

The list in 2 Samuel 23 was compiled at the end of David's reign (verse 1). The list in 1 Chronicle 11 was compiled at the beginning of David's reign. 2 Samuel 23 is therefore supplementary, not contradictory. "at one time" he slew 300. "at one time" he slew 800.


(2 Samuel - Chapter 23) and (1 Chronicles - Chapter 11) are detailing the same stuff. One or the other has more or less info. So one has to transfer the missing info in Chronicles to the respective verse(s) in Samuel to get the full story. It should be noted that Biblical characters often have more than one name or variation of their name or tribe. So if I was combining (2 Sam. 23:29) and (1 Chron. 11:30), I would just put the variant name or tribe in parenthesis versus having it as an additional word in the message. That full message would be: "Heleḅ (Ḥeled), the son of Baanah the Netophathite, Ittai (Ithai), the son of Riḅai from Giḅah of the sons of Binyamin." So, combining (2 Shemuel 23:8) and (1 Chronicles 11:11), we see that Taḥcemoni (the son of Ḥacmoni) pierced (killed) 800 [men] ONE TIME (once) and 300 [men] ONE TIME (once). There is no contradiction. Taḥcemoni was either the leader of the three (HA-SHE-LO-SHAH)" [by correcting the last letter - see 1 Chron. 11:20] or "the leader of the third (HA-SHE-LI-SHI) [army]" [see 1 Chron. 27:5] plus the "chief of the Thirty" (1 Chron. 11:11). I don't think the disputed word is SHALISH "captain," b/c there is a YOD at the end, which that word shouldn't have. That letter may have been copied & misread instead of a HEH "h" though. The Greek & Latin translations read: "the three" while the Aramaic translation reads: "the third."

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