(1) The number of the returning exiles

In the December, 1967 issue of the Congregational Monthly a letter refers to the statement in A Declaration of Faith that "the Bible is not free from human error", and the writer mentions three apparent discrepancies. The first is the apparent disagreement amongst the census taken of the returning exiles in Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7. In fact a careful examination of these passages shows the most remarkable harmony in the essential features of the genealogical records. It is evident that more than one record was kept and that for various reasons some individuals were first recorded in the wrong family lists which were subsequently corrected. The divinely inspired record correctly states that both of these lists existed, and indicates that the total number was correct in each case. The details are as follows:--

Named groups in Ezra - 29,818

In Nehemiah - 31,089

Named only in Nehemiah - 1,765

Named only in Ezra - 494

31,583 31,583

Included in "congregation",

but not named 10,777

Included but not named 10.777

Total in Ezra 2.64 = 42,360 Total in Nehemiah 7.66 = 42.360

Here is evidence of the exercise of scrupulous care resulting in the preservation of an accurate record of the numbers involved and their apportionment among the family names.

(2) Jehoiachin--How old was he and how long his reign?

The same writer alleges a discrepancy between 2 Kings 24.8 and 2 Chronicles 36.9. In the former it is stated that Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign and that he reigned three months. In the latter Jehoiachin is said to have been eight years old when he began to reign and his reign is given as three months and ten days. If two contemporary historians referring to the reign of Queen Victoria were to state respectively that her reign was 63 years and 63 years and so many months, a reader gifted with reasonable intelligence would not allege any discrepancy, but would rather assume that it was the intention of one writer to be more precise than the other. If a man gives his age as fifty, when he is in fact fifty years and ten days old, a fair minded person would not accuse him of deceit or suggest that there was a " discrepancy " between his answer and the true facts. Both statements in the Holy Scriptures are correct. If one asked, " How many months did he reign? ", the answer is " Three months ". If one asks, "Precisely how long was his reign? " The answer is " Three months and ten days ".

How old was he?

With regard to his age at the commencement of his reign there are two possible answers, either or both of which may apply. At the age of eight he was co-regent with his father, and at the age of eighteen his brief period of sole monarchy commenced.

The Hebrew expression in 2 Chronicles 36.9 means literally, "a son of eight years, or of the eighth year", and it would be quite in keeping with Biblical usage to date the commencement of his reign in relation to some great contemporary event. In the present case the event was the Babylonish captivity which began in the fourth year of Jehoiakim his father and continued through his eleven years reign. (Compare Jeremiah 25.1 and 2 Kings 23.36). The first year of Jehoiachin was the eighth year of the captivity. The verse signifies that Jehoiachin began his reign m the eighth year (of the captivity). Each statement viewed in its whole context is correct and accurate, and there is no discrepancy.

How high were the pillars of Solomon's Temple ?

Another alleged discrepancy is said to be found in the details of the pillars and "chapiters" given in several different Scriptures. In one place the figure is thirty five cubits for the pillars and in three places the figure given is eighteen cubits, and the "chapiters" are variously described as of three and five cubits. There is no disagreement in the relevant Scriptures, but rather a lack of understanding or a lack of candour on the part of the critic. The pillars are each 18 cubits high (1 Kings 7.15, 16; 2 Kings 25.17; Jeremiah 52.21). Each pillar is finished with a "chapiter", and apparently exactly half a cubit of each pillar fits into the chapiter and is thus concealed from view. The visible portions of the two pillars together measure exactly 35 cubits, (2 Chronicles 3.15--see also A.V. margin " long ").

Were the chapiters 5 cubits high as in 1 Kings 7, or 3 cubits as in 2 Kings 25.17? Both are correct. The full measurement given in 1 Kings 7, 2 Chronicles 3, and Jeremiah 52.21, includes the ornamental embellishment, nets, wreaths, chains etc. The 3 cubits given in 2 Kings 25.17 is the measurement of the chapiter only, and the "wreathen work" would account for the other two cubits.

These instances may serve to illustrate how desperately modern critics must exercise their ingenuity to find "discrepancies" in the Bible -- and what a vain, futile and presumptuous exercise this is. There are d difficulties -- because of the limitations of our understanding. There are no discrepancies-because there are no limitations of the Divine wisdom, and "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God ", and therefore true and trustworthy.


For more information write to:

Trinitarian Bible Society
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