I come accrossed this contradiction , just to read and I want someone to clarify me that :Five hundred thousand dosn't equal to Four hundred and seventy thousand

Such that the given answers of this question How many fighting men were found in Judah? had two differents answers in Bible and I didn't think if it is a translation because Four hundred and seventy thousand not equal to Five hundred thousand

Answer 1 in Samuel

(A) Five hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9).

Answer 2 in Chronicles

(B) Four hundred and seventy thousand (1 Chronicles 21:5).

  • This question is a duplicate. – Lucian May 4 '20 at 19:00
  • 3
    Does this answer your question? Why does the number of Israelites not tally in 2 Samuel 24:9 & 1 Chronicles 21:5? – Nigel J May 4 '20 at 19:27
  • (-1) for posting a low quality question. (It is obvious to anyone that the two books use different degrees of precision). The real dilemma here is the discrepancy of about 300,000 people in (the rest of) Israel. That would have made for an interesting question; unfortunately, that is not the question being asked here. – Lucian May 4 '20 at 20:12

On the number of fighting men in Judah, I would say both are correct, in different contexts. In mathematical terms you can think in terms of rounding and significant digits. Most scholars accept that biblical authors often rounded large numbers, but not always which leads to apparent contradictions like this one. See this link for another example of rounding.

The more difficult number is the number of fighting men in Israel mentioned in the same verses (800,000 and 1,100,000 respectively), but since the count wasn't completed in David's day, it is possible that the numbers in Chronicles represent the more precise results finalized after the time of David and the writing of Samuel. This would explain the higher numbers for Israel, and the slightly lower, but more precise estimate for Judah.

  • But the Bible is the word of God ? how it can't give the exact number ? why this difference ? In the same time what do u meant in mathematical terms , am a mathematician I never claimed that 1=0.99 , how you have tried to make equality between tow large number what mind accept this , Why instead of that to say :yes it is a contradiction in the same time you may search to know where is the truth – Mohamed Salim May 4 '20 at 15:19
  • I mean that in mathematics if I am adding 10.01 to 11.1, scientific notation suggests that I take only the significant digits which I can be secure about so I can only say they equal 21.1 because to say they equal 21.11 is to hypothesize about the hundredths digit of the second number about which I have no information. See this article on rounding and scientific notation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Significant_figures – ninthamigo May 4 '20 at 15:41
  • Secondly, eve though the numbers don't agree, they don't need to. The counting was not completed in David's day and because God told him to stop, he had no incentive to complete his census. Therefore, the first number is BOTH incomplete and probably a rounded number. However, that doesn't mean the data couldn't have been calculated with more precision in later generations when Chronicles was written. – ninthamigo May 4 '20 at 15:42
  • 1
    I think you love so much football – Mohamed Salim May 4 '20 at 15:44
  • I do like futbol (soccer). Go barca! – ninthamigo May 4 '20 at 15:45

My answer would be (B).

But I would not say this is a discrepancy but to a writing style. The reason I chose (B) is because it is from the Chronicles, a record kept by the king and country. It is more likely they would record the exact numbers.

The book of Samuel is a religious book kept by the church and prophets. They are less concerned about exact numbers and more focused on spiritual things. It would not be unusual even in our day to write only generally concerning the less important matters.

  • What Game you are playing ? The Contradiction is clear at all and you want to cover that ? How 470000=500000 ? Answer me what logic you have studied ?And why in the same time you said I choose B , it is your Bible who claimed that how you believe with parts in Bible and you reject other part ? Is this the guess at you ? – Mohamed Salim May 4 '20 at 15:34
  • It seems reasonable that the book of Samuel would round up the number since it is not concerned with exact numbers, but do you have any evidence that this is the case (e.g. can you cite a scholar who presents an argument that this is the cause of the discrepancy)? – Null May 4 '20 at 15:36
  • @MohamedSalim This is not a discussion forum. If you want to argue, go to a discussion forum. This is an SE Q&A site with a particular format. Go and Read Tour, How to Ask and How to Answer. Also, Go and Read what comments are for – KorvinStarmast May 4 '20 at 17:57
  • @KorvinStarmast don't escap and don' trick me , you should answer my question because clear contradictions in your bibl and there are infinity of them , don't cover sun by screeing – Mohamed Salim May 4 '20 at 17:59
  • @MohamedSalim You are asked to conform to the norms of this site. If you cannot do that then you are invited to go to an internet site that is built for arguments. There are thousands of them on the internet. This isn't one of them. I note that you are willfully not taking my advice to go and read up on how an SE site works. But you instead want to argue in comments. That is not what comments are for., – KorvinStarmast May 4 '20 at 18:00

It is worth noting the time difference between the writing of Samuel and the date of David's census (approximately 975 B.C.) and the writing of Chronicles (approximately 450 B.C.). There is a time difference of more than 500 years during which the exiled Jews had been held in Babylonian captivity.

Also, the account in Chronicles shows that the census David called for was not finished. In 1 Chronicles 27 verse 23 says David did not count those below 20 years of age and in verse 24 we are informed that Joab did not finish the census.

The English Standard Version Study Bible makes these comments regarding the discrepancy between the numbers recorded in 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles:

One possible solution begins by taking the 470,000 men in Judah as part of the total of "all Israel" and proceeds to notice that in 1 Chronicles 21:6 the Chronicler says that Joab's figures here were incomplete, for he did not include Levi and Benjamin in the numbering. Therefore, the census was unfinished, leaving the actual number of God's people uncertain, where the text again emphasizes that the numbers were incomplete.

See 1 Chronicles 27:23 where David did not count those below 20 years of age and verse 24 which says that Joab did not finish the census.

Does this descrepancy or inaccuracy in the numbers prove that the Bible is not the inspired word of God? For people who want to find fault they may see this as "evidence". For people who realise that the truth of God's word does not depend on the exactness of a census (with more than 500 years inbetween the two records) it is simply an enigma.

  • Do know what does meant word of God ? – Mohamed Salim May 4 '20 at 16:04
  • I take "the inspired word of God" to mean all 66 books of the Bible written over several thousand years, from Genesis to Revelation. – Lesley May 4 '20 at 16:07
  • Is God lie ? Is 470000=500000 ? Were God enable to give the exact numbers of fighters ? What approximately you meant ? No approximation with God all thing must be accurate and theoritical ? What game you are playing ? – Mohamed Salim May 4 '20 at 16:10
  • you must understand this "But intellectual bondages are harder to shatter; the slave himself fights to retain them" – Mohamed Salim May 4 '20 at 16:13
  • Sir, I am not playing any game. You asked why there was a difference in the numbers recorded and I have provided a reasonable explanation. You are at liberty to take it or leave it, but please do not accuse me of playing a game. I don't play games. – Lesley May 4 '20 at 16:14

This is a textual discrepancy. Furthermore, the number is irrealistically high. Chronicles was written between 350-300 BCE, and according to Israeli archaeologists Magen Broshi and Yigal Shiloh, the population of ancient Palestine as a whole did not exceed one million in that era. Furthermore, not all of the population would have been Jewish.

The male and female birth rates in humans are identical - so that leaves 500.000 men of all ages and religions at best.

Today's percentage of children in the world population is around 25%. It would have been much higher in Hellenistic Palestine. With life expectancies of twenty to thirty, women would have to give birth to between 4.5 and 6.5 children to maintain replacement levels. Given the violent nature of the period (Alexandrian conquests), however, the birth rate would have needed to be higher than that baseline, at around 6 to 9 children per woman.

The Torah dictates a minimal age of 20 for military service (Num. 1:3, and Rashi and Naḥmanides). We can extrapolate from reliable data from a somewhat later age (the Roman Empire), taking into consideration that life expectancy would in comparison be lower:

enter image description here

We can deduce that at least around 275.000 males would have been 10 or younger. Assuming a "conscription" age of 20, that would leave at best 175.000 for the entire region, again still including all religions and not just the Jewish population. We know that there was a considerable Samaritan, Egyptian, Greek (Ptolemaic and Alexandrian Empires) and Phenician presence around 350 BCE.

Given that Judah comprises 30% of the Ancient Palestinian geographic area with cities, 50.000 Jewish men aged at least 20 years would be more realistic for that era. Perhaps not surprisingly, the difference is a factor of ten. Historical philologists have encountered the same systematic rate of exxageration in Jewish folk tales (Eliach 1982; Mintz 1968:356-79.)

  • Do you know what does it meant word of God ? Never textual discrepancy. meet with word of God ? and by this way you claimed as well that someone typed Bible hhhhhhhhhhhh – Mohamed Salim May 4 '20 at 15:41
  • “… I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” — Genesis 32:30 “No man hath seen God at any time…”– John 1:18 – Codosaur May 12 '20 at 8:10

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