The Stories of Samuel, Chronicles and Kings: Conflicts, Contradictions, and Inconsistency. Kenneth M.

Montville DD

For anyone who is familiar with the Bible they know that the Old Testament is much longer than the New Testament. The Old Testament is made up of 39 books containing the longest books of the Bible—Psalms and Proverbs—whole the 27 books of the New Testament contain some of the shortest—3 John and Philemon. When thinking about this for a moment it makes sense. The New Testament only covers the infancy of Jesus, his ministry and the events of a few decades afterward while the Old Testament covers about 4,000 years of mythological Jewish history from the beginning of creation— naturally the Old Testament is going to be longer. Just like the New Testament, the Old Testament has divisions within it. The New Testament is divided into the four gospels, Acts, the thirteen Pauline epistles, the eight general (Catholic) epistles, and Revelation, this division is not debated among the faithful much aside from the placement of the Epistle to the Hebrews within either the Pauline or Catholic epistles. However, the divisions of the Old Testament are debated more between Christians and Jews. The Christian breakdown is this:

Pentateuch

Twelve Historical Books

Five Poetical Books Five Major Prophets

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zapheniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi

Twelve Minor Prophets

This is fairly contrary to the traditional breakdown of the Jewish version of the Old Testament known as the Tanakh. Tanakh is a sort of acronym for the three sections of the Hebrew Bible the Torah, the Nevi’im and the Ketuvim (Instruction, Prophets and Writings respectively). The Prophets and Writings are then broken down further into categories like major and minor prophets and the poetical books,
Copyright © 2011 Kenneth M. Montville All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this publication can be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.

five scrolls and the historical books. It should be noted that the Writings are considered by Jews to be divinely inspired but are neither prophetic nor authoritative. Really, the only similarity with the Christian canon is that the Torah contains the same five books as the Pentateuch. However, it isn’t just what certain books are called that change, placement of books and book divisions are also different. Where Christians divide Samuel, Kings and Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah into two books the Jews maintain that they are one and while the Christian canon lists Daniel as a prophetical book the Jews allot Daniel among the “other historical books” giving it no prophetical or authoritative credence. For the Jews their canon looks something more similar to this:

Torah Nevi'im

Torah Prophets

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy Joshua, Judges, Samuel (I & II), Kings (I & II), Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakuk, Zaphaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi Psalms, Proverbs, Job Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, Chronicles (I & II)

Minor Prophets

Ketuvim

Three Poetic Books Five Scrolls Other Historical Books

One could write for years on the differences between the Jewish and Christian understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures and many people have, this is not what this essay is about. This essay will try to examine one particular aspect of the Old Testament, that of the curious relation between six of the Christian books—three in the Tanakh—those of I & II Samuel, I & II Kings and I & II Chronicles. Note how within the Christian canon all six of these books fall into the same category, while in the Tanakh Chronicles is delegates as an historical book and not a prophetic one. For background the books are supposed historical accounts beginning with the birth of Samuel and genealogy of the House of Saul thus setting the stage for David and Solomon and ending with the release from Babylonian captivity by Cyrus the Great. The books of I & II Samuel and I & II Kings move in procession from one to the next while I & II Chronicles covers the entirety of their stories starting with the line to David. However, simply because these books claim to tell the same story their internal consistency is left wanting. The first contradiction is found near the end of 2 Samuel 24 where David needs to count the fighting men of Israel. In this account God demands that David count the fighting men, David finds
Copyright © 2011 Kenneth M. Montville All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this publication can be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.

“and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men.”1 Upon counting the men David exclaims that he has sinned greatly and the prophet Gad comes to rebuke him and offer an ultimatum commanding David to choose his punishment, “"Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days' pestilence in thy land?”2 David chooses pestilence rather than having to fall to his enemies and thus seventy thousand people die.3 However, in the version of this story which appears in 1 Chronicles 21 the details are very different. It is actually Satan who entices David to count the fighting men of Israel.4 Upon the counting David found that in “Israel there were one million one hundred thousand men who drew the sword, and in Judah four hundred and seventy thousand who drew the sword.”5 Again, as in 2 Samuel, the prophet Gad comes to rebuke David and offer him the choice of his punishment, “Either three years' famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; or else three days the sword of the LORD, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel.”6 In this version David also chooses the pestilence and seventy thousand people die.7 People fail to notice the differences unless they are laid out side by side so let us do just that.
2 Samuel 24 Who commands David to count the people? How many fighting men are found in Israel? How many fighting men are found in Judah? How many years famine is David threatened with? God Eight hundred thousand Five hundred thousand Seven 1 Chronicles 21 Satan One million one hundred thousand Four hundred seventy thousand Three

This is not the only point of variance however. The list of differences between the story in the books of Samuel and Kings and that presented in the books of Chronicles can be listed in the same way ad nauseum. For the sake of brevity I shall list them in the same manner as above rather than summarize the whole of all the stories. Here we will see how the internal consistency of the Bible is left wanting even in what should be a consistent self referencing history.

1 2

2 Samuel 24:9 2 Samuel 24:13 3 2 Samuel 24:15 4 1 Chronicles 21:1 5 1 Chronicles 21:5 6 1 Chronicles 21:12 7 1 Chronicles 21:14
Copyright © 2011 Kenneth M. Montville All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this publication can be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.

Samuel How old was Ahaziah when he began his rule? 8 How old was Jehoiachin when he began his rule? 9 How long did Jehoiachin rule Jerusalem? 10 The Chief of the mighty men of David killed how many people at once with his spear? 11 When did David bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem 12 When David defeated the King of Zobah, how many horsemen did he take? 13 How many stalls for horses did Solomon have? 14 In what year of King Asa's reign did Baasha, King of Israel die? 15 How many overseers fif Solomon appoint to work on building the temple? 16 Solomon built a facility containing how many baths? 17 Eight hundred -

Kings Twenty-two Eighteen Three months

Chronicles Forty-two Eight Three months and ten days Three hundred

-

Before defeating the Philistines One thousand seven hundred -

-

After defeating the Philistines Seven thousand Four thousand After his thirtysixth year Three thousand six hundred Over three thousand

Fourty thousand Twenty-sixth year Three thousand three hundred Two thousand

This is but one isolated case of a series of internal inconsistencies within the Bible. Whether it is within the same book such as the conflicting creation stories of Genesis 1 and 2 or between books such as the different genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke, the authors of the books of the Bible seemed to have had little care for making sure their numbers, names and order of events matched.

8 9

2 Kings 8:26 vs. 1 Chronicles 22:2 2 Kings 24:8 vs. 2 Chronicles 36:98 10 2 Kings 24:8 vs. 2 Chronicles 36:98 11 2 Samuel 23:8 vs. 1 Chronicles 11:11 12 2 Samuel 5-6 vs. 1 Chronicles 13-14 13 2 Samuel 8:4 vs. 1 Chronicles 18 :4 14 1 Kings 4:26 vs. 2 Chronicles 9 :25 15 1 Kings 15:33-16:8 vs. 2 Chronicles 16:1 16 1 Kings 5:16 vs. 2 Chronicles 2:2 17 1 Kings 7:26 vs. 2 Chronicles 4:5
Copyright © 2011 Kenneth M. Montville All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this publication can be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.