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“Then David defeated Hadadezer, the son of Rehob king of Zobah, as he went to restore his power at the Euphrates River.

from him 1,700 horsemen and twenty thousand foot soldiers; and David hamstrung almost all the chariot horses, but left enough of them for a hundred chariots.” ‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭8‬:‭3‬-‭4‬ ‭NASB2020‬‬

Vs

“David also defeated Hadadezer king of Zobah as far as Hamath, as he went to establish his rule to the river Euphrates.

a thousand chariots and seven thousand horsemen and twenty thousand foot soldiers, and David hamstrung almost all the chariot horses, but left enough of them for a hundred chariots.” ‭‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭18‬:‭3‬-‭4‬ ‭NASB2020‬‬

Q: 1,700 horsemen as opposed to 7,000, is this a contradiction or a scribal error?

2 Answers 2

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That is far from being the only discrepancy to be found in the Chronicler. At the other end of the kingdom, Jehoiachin began his reign at the age of eighteen, according to 2 Kings ch24 v8. In 2 Chronicles ch36 v9 he is only eight years old. In Kings, he is succeeded by his uncle Zedekiah. In Chronicles, he is succeeded by his elder brother Zedekiah. In Kings, he is taken into captivity by the Babylonians after his father dies. In Chronicles, the Babylonians take his father into captivity and come back a few months later to take the son.

The Chronicler was an historian, and as such he would have written his history by drawing upon his sources. That is what historians do. His sources will have included, but were obviously not limited to, the earlier Samuel-Kings histories.

We need to consider the possibility that these errors of detail had already found their way into the source manuscripts when the Chronicler read them. In other words, the books of Chronicles were written incorporating already existing scribal errors.

Therefore it would be good to have a theory of inspiration which allows for that possibility, since otherwise we are faced with contradictions.

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The difference between 2 Sam 8:4 and 1 Chron 18:4 is more apparent than real. Ellicott sums up the situation well when he says (on 2 Sam 8:4) -

(4) A thousand chariots.—The word chariots has evidently dropped out of the text here, but is rightly inserted, following the LXX. and 1 Chron.; 700 horsemen should also be changed to 7,000, in accordance with 1 Chron., this being a more fitting proportion to 20,000 infantry in the plains of Syria, and the difference being only in two dots over the letter marking the numeral in Hebrew.

With this understanding, the NIV provides the best translation of 2 Sam 8:4 with:

David captured a thousand of his chariots, seven thousand charioteers and twenty thousand foot soldiers. He hamstrung all but a hundred of the chariot horses.

This agrees with 1 Chron 18:4 which says:

David captured a thousand of his chariots, seven thousand charioteers and twenty thousand foot soldiers. He hamstrung all but a hundred of the chariot horses.

The NIV has a footnote to this verse which reads:

Septuagint (see also Dead Sea Scrolls and 1 Chron. 18:4); Masoretic Text captured seventeen hundred of his charioteers

Thus, it appears that the text of 2 Sam 18:4 has been corrupted in transmission - there are a number of other such examples in the 1 & 2 Sam where this has occurred. (1 Sam 13:1 being a prime example where the text is obviously corrupted.)

Note that the BSB is similar to the NIV and has a footnote for 2 Sam 8:4 -

LXX (see also DSS and 1 Chronicles 18:4); MT captured from him seventeen hundred charioteers

Note that the text, as received in 2 Sam 8:4 is clearly corrupted as it literally reads:

and took David for him a thousand [ ] and seven thousand charioteers and twenty thousand foot-soldiers ...

Thus, it is clear that the word "chariots" is missing.

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