Isaiah 40:8 claims that “the word of our God stands forever.” This assertion
doesn’t excuse copying errors, or any other error, regardless how slight. In fact,
according to Isaiah 40:8, any “word” which has not “stood forever” is disqualified as
having been from God. Which should make us question the authorship.
If “the word of our God stands forever,” and the “word” of Ahaziah’s age doesn’t
stand the test of time, whose word is it? God’s or Satan’s?
Don’t look now, but even the Old Testament seems uncertain on this point.
2 Samuel 24:1 reads, “Again the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel,
and He moved David against them to say, ‘Go, number Israel and Judah.’” However,
1 Chronicles 21:1 states, “Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to
Uhhh, which was it? The Lord, or Satan? There’s a slight (like, total) difference.
Talk about identity theft.
But seriously, the mistake is understandable. After all, it’s pretty hard to know
who you’re talking to, when you can’t put a face to revelation. And, as God said in
Exodus 33:20, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.”
So there we have it.
No man can see God’s face, and live. Well, except for Jacob, of course. As Genesis 32:30 states, “So Jacob called the
name of the place Peniel: ‘For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.’”
And we mustn’t forget Moses, as per Exodus 33:11: “So the LORD spoke to
Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.”
So no man can see God’s face, and live.
Except for Jacob and Moses.
But God didn’t mention that exception, did He?
So maybe He changed His mind.
And then again, maybe not.
On one hand, Genesis 6:67 suggests that God makes mistakes for which He
repents, as follows: “And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and
He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created
from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I
am sorry that I have made them’” (italics mine).
On the other hand, Numbers 23:19 records, “God is not a man, that He should lie,
nor a son of man, that He should repent.”
The point, if not already obvious, is that the Old Testament is fraught with errors.
Perhaps the simplest errors are numerical, and these are plentiful. For example, 2
Samuel 8:4 speaks of David taking seven hundred horsemen and 1 Chronicles 18:4,
describing the exact same event, makes it seven thousand.
Seven hundred in one verse, seven thousand in another—obviously some scribe
flubbed a zero. Wrong.
The Old Testament doesn’t have zeros. Nor, for that matter, does it have
numerals. In the time of the Old and New Testaments, the Arabic numerals we are all familiar with weren’t in common use. The clumsy Roman numerals were the language of
mathematics, and the earliest evidence of the zero dates from 933 CE.
In ancient Hebrew, numbers were written longhand. Seven hundred was sheba’
me’ah and seven thousand was sheba’ eleph. So this scriptural difference may indeed
represent a scribal error, but it’s not a simple error of a zero. Rather, it’s the difference
between me’ah and eleph.
Similarly, 2 Samuel 10:18 speaks of seven hundred charioteers and forty thousand
horsemen, and 1 Chronicles 19:18 speaks of seven thousand charioteers and forty
thousand foot soldiers. 2 Samuel 23:8 records eight hundred men, 1 Chronicles 11:11
numbers them at three hundred. And in case the reader suspects they are speaking about
different events, JoshebBasshebeth and Jashobeam are crossreferenced, clarifying that
both passages describe the same person. 2 Samuel 24:9 describes eight hundred thousand
men “who drew the sword” in Israel and five hundred thousand in Judah;
1 Chronicles 21:5 puts the numbers at one million one hundred thousand in Israel and
four hundred and seventy thousand in Judah. 2 Samuel 24:13 describes seven years of
famine, 1 Chronicles 21:1112 states it was three. 1 Kings 4:26 numbers Solomon’s horse
stalls at forty thousand, 2 Chronicles 9:25 numbers them at four thousand. 1 Kings 15:33
teaches that Baasha reigned as king of Israel until the twentyseventh year of Asa, king of
Judah; 2 Chronicles 16:1 states Baasha was still king of Israel in the thirtysixth year of
Asa’s reign. 1 Kings 5:1516 speaks of 3,300 deputies to Solomon, 2 Chronicles 2:2
records 3,600. In 1 Kings 7:26 we read of two thousand baths, but in 2 Chronicles 4:5 the
number is three thousand. 2 Kings 24:8 states “Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when
he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months.” 2 Chronicles 36:9 records, “Jehoiachin was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three
months and ten days.” Ezra 2:65 writes of two hundred men and women singers,
Nehemiah 7:67 states they were two hundred and fortyfive.
Now, are these differences important?
Answer: Yes, and no. For the most part, we could care less how many baths,
singers and foot soldiers there were, or whether one scribe made a slip of the stylus while
another rounded numbers off to the nearest hundred. From the point of conveying useful
information, these discrepancies are insignificant. However, from the point of validating
the Old Testament as the inerrant word of God, these discrepancies are highly significant.
Furthermore, there are numerous discrepancies which are not numerical in nature.
For example, Genesis 26:34 tells us Esau’s wives were Judith and Basemath;
Genesis 36:23 records his wives as Adah, Aholibamah and Basemath. 2 Samuel 6:23
states that Michal was childless until the day she died; 2 Samuel 21:8 attributes five sons
to Michal. 2 Samuel 8:910 speaks of Toi as king of Hamath, and Joram as an emissary
of King David; 1 Chronicles 18:910 records the king’s name as Tou, and that of the
emissary as Hadoram.
Again, not a big deal.
But here’s something that is:
2 Samuel 17:25 tells us Jithra (a.k.a. Jether; both names are crossreferenced, so
we know these two passages speak of the same individual) was an Israelite, whereas
1 Chronicles 2:17 identifies him as an Ishmaelite. Now, if Old Testament authors
couldn’t get this straight, we might wonder how much more inclined they might have
been, being Jewish, to calculated lineageswitching in the case of Abraham sacrificing his “only begotten son,” Isaac. In the “Jesus Begotten?” chapter earlier in this book, I
discussed the fact that at no time was Isaac the only begotten son of Abraham. And we
find here that Old Testament authors substituted “Israelite” with “Ishmaelite” when there
was no obvious motivation. How much more likely would they have been to have
switched lineages when their birthright and covenants with God were at stake?