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This discrepancy is likely the result of a copyist error, where 1 Chronicles 18:4
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:
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.
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.
This discrepancy is likely the result of a copyist error. The correct number is probably 7,000, from 1 Chronicles 18:4
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
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.
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.
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.
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.