Posts Tagged ‘contradiction’

How Many Stalls? Answering An Alleged Allegation

October 29, 2007

Recently on a message board that I frequent a list of supposed biblical contradictions was posted.  One of these was a difference between 1 Kings 4:26 and 2 Chronicles 9:25.  Some when answering this charge of contradiction some have been quick to make use of the “copyist error” defense.  I believe there are better explanations for the differences in these two passages than this. 

1 Kings 4:26

2 Chronicles 9:25 

And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen. And Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen; whom he bestowed in the chariot cities, and with the king at Jerusalem.

At first glance it would appear that the passages are in contradiction with one telling us that Solomon had forty thousand stalls and one telling us that he had four thousand.  However, there are a couple of possible explanations for this difference.  The passage in 1 Kings speaks of forty thousand stalls for the horses that pulled the chariots whereas 2 Chronicles mentions four thousand stalls that held both horses and chariots.  So it is possible that there were thirty-six thousand stalls that held horses only and four thousand containing both horses and chariots.  Another possible explanation could be that Hebrew word “urvah” which is translated as stalls is being used in a different sense in each passage.  This word simply means a place where animals are kept.  So a building containing multiple pens would be called an “urvah” and each individual pen could also be called an “urvah”.  Thus it could be the writer of 1 Chronicles was using the word “urvah” to refer to four thousand buildings, each with ten horse stalls, there would have been forty-thousand individual stalls and it is these forty thousand individual stalls that the writer of 1 Kings was referring to.  

This once again illustrates the importance of not presuming the Bible guilty until proved innocent.  When we give the Bible the benefit of the doubt and look for a possible reasonable explanation it is usually not long before we find that the passages are not so difficult to reconcile as they first appear or as those who seek only to discredit the Bible believe they are.