Posted - 22 Jan 2006 : 21:46:44
| Does the bible contradict itself?
7 years or 3 years of famine?
II Samuel 24:13 So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, 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?
I Chronicles 21:11-12 So Gad came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Choose thee 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...
There are many atheistic, Islamic and Bible Debunker sites on the internet which contain longs lists of supposed contradictions in the Bible.
On one Islamic site listing "101 Clear Contradictions in the Bible" this is number four.
God sent his prophet to threaten David with how many years of famine?
(a) Seven (2 Samuel 24:13).
(b) Three (1 Chronicles 21:12).
Those Christians who continue to use the modern versions like the NASB and the NIV will typically answer these objections in this way which is taken directly from the Apologetics Index.
"It is probably a copyist error and the better preserved text renders the famine as three years -- Walvoord, John F., and Zuck, Roy B., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Scripture Press Publications, Inc.) 1983, 1985."
Another modern version site by the name of Tecktonic.org Apologetics Ministries has this to say: "Were there seven years of famine offered, or three (per 1 Chronicles 21:11)? Three is the more likely reading, favored by the LXX and by symmetry with the other punishments offered (three months of flight from enemies, three days of plague). Samuel was hit by a copyist error
So, Samuel was hit by a copyist error, was he? Where was God during this whole process?
In 2 Samuel 24: 13 the prophet Gad comes to David and says: "Shall SEVEN years of famine come unto thee in thy land?"
SEVEN years is the reading of the Hebrew text here as the NIV, RSV, NRSV, and ESV footnotes tell us. The reading of THREE YEARS comes from the Greek Septuagint version, but not the Hebrew.
The false reading in 2 Samuel 24:13 of THREE years is found in the NIV, RSV, NRSV, ESV, NEB, Bible in Basic English, and the New Living Translation.
Those versions that agree with the KJB's correct reading of SEVEN years are the Geneva Bible, the Revised Version, ASV, the Jewish translations of 1917, 1936, the Spanish Reina Valera, the Italian Diodati, NASB, Douay, Young's, NKJV, the Living Bible and even the Syriac versions.
This is really a very simple "contradiction" to solve if one just believes God's word as found in the Bible and takes the time to read it carefully.
Only in the book of 2 Samuel are we told in chapter 21:1 "Then there was a famine in the days of David THREE years, year after year; and David enquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.
David then, as requested by the Gibeonites, had seven men of the sons of Saul put to death by hanging in "the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of the barley harvest." This couldn't have been much of a harvest because the famine was still in the land. They would then have to wait till next year for a good crop.
Next we read of king David telling Joab to go and number the people of Israel. This census taking seems to have been a vain attempt by David to boast in the power of the flesh. See how strong I am and how many people I command. This was the sin that brought about the threatened judgment of more famine by God.
It is important to see that this numbering of the people took a period of 9 months and 20 days as is noted in 2 Samuel 24:8. "So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days."
So, what we have here is four years of famine that had already preceded the time when Gad comes to David and says in 2 Samuel 24:13 "Shall SEVEN years of famine come unto thee in the land?"
But when we look at 1 Chronicles, there is no mention of the famine that had already been going on before David numbered the people. There in 1 Chronicles we read: "Thus saith the LORD, Choose thee either THREE years' famine: or three months to be destroyed before thy foes...or else three days the sword of LORD, even the pestilence..."
So to answer the question: "Were there seven years of famine or only three?", the correct answer is BOTH. There were seven years of famine altogether; four had already occurred and three more years were threatened as a further judgment.
The Bible is right.