1,700 or 7,000 Horsemen Captured by David? 2 Sam, 1 Chron 18:4

Are 2 Samuel 8:4 and 1 Chronicles 18:4 contradictory concerning how many horsemen David captured (17,00 or 7,000)? Here are some plausible solutions.
Bible "contradictions"
...

Read this article at its new location here: https://reformedwiki.com/did-david-capture-1700-or-7000-horsemen

Quick answer

This discrepancy is likely the result of a copyist error, where 1 Chronicles 18:4 is probably the correct number. The doctrine of the Bible's inerrancy states that the original manuscripts are without error and we can have great confidence that the Bible that we have today is essentially a copy of the original writings, not that everything has been copied perfectly, so this apparent contradiction is not a problem for biblical inerrancy.

The argument

Some argue that the Bible is contradictory concerning how many horsemen David captured, whether it was 1,700 or 7,000 horsemen. Here are the relevant passages:

1,700 horsemen

2 Samuel 8:4 - And David took from him 1,700 horsemen, and 20,000 foot soldiers. And David hamstrung all the chariot horses but left enough for 100 chariots.

7,000 horsemen

1 Chronicles 18:4 - And David took from him 1,000 chariots, 7,000 horsemen, and 20,000 foot soldiers. And David hamstrung all the chariot horses, but left enough for 100 chariots.

The answer

Probably a copyist error

This discrepancy is likely the result of a copyist error. The correct number is probably 7,000, from 1 Chronicles 18:4. Here is what Geisler and Howe say on the subject:

Probably on earlier copyist inadvertently omitted the word "chariot" that we find supplied in some translations. This in turn created a problem for a later copyist who would have recognized that it was not proper Hebrew structure to write "one thousand seven thousand" horsemen," so he would have reduced the second "thousand" to "hundred" resulting in the reading we now have in 2 Samuel 8:4.[1]

This is not a problem for biblical infallibility and inerrancy

The doctrine of the Bible's inerrancy states that the original manuscripts are without error and we can have great confidence that the Bible that we have today is essentially a copy of the original writings, not that everything has been copied perfectly, so this apparent contradiction is not a problem for biblical inerrancy.

"I don't buy that explanation"

Some people have trouble accepting possible explanations to alleged contradictions in the Bible, especially ones that they consider a stretch. For example, Dan Barker, president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, says this:

I have received numerous replies from Christians who think that these contradictions are either trivial or easily explained. Yet not a single "explanation" has been convincing.

Fact vs Opinion

The fact is that there are plausible explanations for every alleged contradiction in the Bible. That there is a plausible explanation for an alleged contradiction does not mean that it is definitely the correct explanation for the alleged contradiction.

However, as long as a possible explanation has been suggested, then it has been objectively demonstrated that there is no necessary contradiction regarding the Bible verses and passages brought up.

When people like Dan Barker say that they don't find a particular explanation for a contradiction "convincing," then that is merely their opinion. A plausible explanation has been suggested that eliminates the necessary alleged contradiction. They simply don't like it, which is not at all a relevant argument against the explanation.

Additional Resources

To read more about solutions to Bible contradictions and difficulties, check out Norman Geisler's The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation. While we do not agree with some of Geisler's theology, particularly concerning his view of predestination, this book is still an excellent resource. It is thorough and filled with research.

Another book to check out is Tim Chaffey's Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions: Exploring Forty Alleged Contraditions, which also answers many alleged contradictions in the Bible.

Read More

Why Were 42 Lads/boys Killed by Bears? 2 Kings 2:23-24
2 Kings 2:23-24
Bible "contradictions"
Is God good?
Updated: 7 days ago
Why Did God Send a Lying Spirit? (1 Kings 22:22 Vs. Titus 1:2)
1 Kings 22:22, Titus 1:2
Bible "contradictions"
Is God good?
Updated: 7 days ago
How Many Baths: 2,000 or 3,000? 1 Kings 7:26, 2 Chronicles 4:5
1 Kings 7:26, 2 Chronicles 4:5
Bible "contradictions"
Updated: 7 days ago
How Many Overseers Did Solomon Have, 3,300 or 3,600?
1 Kings 5:16, 2 Chronicles 2:2
Bible "contradictions"
Updated: 7 days ago
How Many Stalls of Horses Did Solomon Have, 4,000 or 40,000?
1 Kings 4:26, 2 Chronicles 9:25
Bible "contradictions"
Updated: 7 days ago
Did Michal Have Any Children? 2 Samuel 6:23, 21:8
2 Samuel 6:23, 2 Samuel 21:8
Bible "contradictions"
Updated: 7 days ago
Did Saul or the Amalekite Kill Saul? 1 Sam 31:4, 2 Sam 1:8-10
1 Samuel 31:4, 2 Samuel 1:8-10
Bible "contradictions"
Updated: 7 days ago
Were the Chariots of Iron Too Powerful for God? Josh 17, Jdg 1
Joshua 17:18, Matthew 19:26, Judges 1:19
Bible "contradictions"
Updated: 7 days ago
Should Rebellious Sons Be Stoned? Deuteronomy 21:18-21
Deuteronomy 21:18-21
Bible "contradictions"
Is God good?
Updated: 7 days ago
If God Is Not a Man, Can Jesus Be God? (Numbers 23:19)
Numbers 23:19
Bible "contradictions"
Updated: 7 days ago