How can 1 Kings 6:1 be accepted as accurate if Rameses the Great was Pharaoh of the Exodus?

First Kings 6:1 states, "Now it came about in the four hundred and eightieth year after the sons of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, ... he began to build the house of the Lord" (NASB). Since Solomon's reign began in 970 B.C., his fourth year would have been 966. Four hundred and eighty years before 966 comes out to 1446 or 1445. (There may have been a rounding off of numbers here, but essentially the time locus of the Exodus would have been between 1447 and 1442, if 1 Kings 6:1 is correct.) This would have been early in the reign of Amenhotep II, who according to the usual estimates reigned between 1447 and 1421. (Some more recent discussions of Egyptian chronology tend to lower these dates by a few years, but they have not yet been generally accepted as valid.)

The most-favored date for the Exodus in scholarly circles is about 1290, or quite early in the reign of Ramses II (1300-1234). [NO NOT SO, MANY SCHOLARS GIVE THE 1450 OF THE EXODUS - Keith Hunt].  In most of the popularizations of the Exodus drama, such as Cecil B. DeMille's "The Ten Cornmandments," the late date theory is assumed to be correct. The principal arguments in its favor are as follows:

1. The Israelites are stated in Exodus 1:11 to have labored as slaves in the

building of the city of "Raamses"— which presupposes that there was already a King Rameses for this city to have been named after.

2. Since the Hyksos Dynasty was in charge of Egypt at the time Jacob migrated into Egypt—at least according to the Jewish historian Josephus—and since the Hyksos may not have seized power much before 1750 B.C, the 1445 date is precluded. Exodus 12:40 testifies that the Israelites sojourned in Egypt for 430 years, a subtraction of 430 from 1750 would come out to 1320—which is much closer to the time of Rameses II in the Nineteenth Dynasty than to the period of Amenhotep II of the Eighteenth Dynasty.

3. The early chapters of Exodus presuppose the proximity of the royal residence to the land of Goshen up in the Delta, whereas the capital of Egypt in the Eighteenth Dynasty was five hundred miles further south, in the city of Thebes. But Rameses built up Tanis in the Delta as his northern capital and as the base of his military expeditions against Palestine and Syria.

4. The archaeological evidence of the destruction levels in key Palestinian cities like Lachish, Debir, and Hazor points rather to the thirteenth century than to the early fourteenth century, as the early date theory would require. Furthermore, he extensive  explorations of surface sites in the various tells throughout Transjordan carried on by Nelson Glueck indicate that there was no strongly entrenched, sedentary population to be found in Moab, Heshbon, or Bashan, such as is indicated in the Mosaic campaigns of conquest against Sihon and Og according to the record of Numbers 21 and Deuteronomy 1.5. 

5. The failure of the Book of Judges to mention any Egyptian invasions of Palestine during the late fourteenth and thirteenth centuries is a strong indication that those invasions were already past history by the time of Joshua and the Israelite conquest of Canaan.

These five arguments present an impressive case for the inaccuracy of 1 Kings 6:1. If the Exodus actually took place around 1290 B.C., then the figure should have been 324 years rather than 480. Some Evangelical scholars who adhere to the late date theory point out that 480 may be an "artificial" number, intending to convey no more than that there were about twelve generations intervening between the Exodus and the temple (thought of as 40 years each, because of the prominence of the number 40 in the lives of leaders like Moses and Joshua). But the true average length of generations is 30 years rather than 40, and so we may perhaps correct the total number to 360 rather than 480 (so R. K. Harrison, Old Testament Introduction, pp. 178-79).

However, careful examination of the case for the late date theory shows that it is incapable of successful defense in the light of all the evidence.

Not only does 1 Kings 6:1 unequivocally affirm the 1445 date for the departure of the Israelites from Egypt (the whole theory of symbolical or artificial numbers in matters of dating in the Old Testament  has  no  objective  support whatever), but so does Judges 11:26. This contains a question put by Jephthah to the Ammonite invaders who laid claim to the Israelite territory east of the Jordan: "For three hundred years Israel occupied Heshbon. Aroer, the surrounding settlements, and all the towns along the Arnon. Why didn't you retake them in that time?" Since the probable date of Jephthah was about half a century before King Saul, Jephthah's parley with the Ammonites must be dated around 1100 B.C. His remarks therefore imply a conquest dating back to about 1400, which fits in perfectly with a 1445 Exodus. Since this is a casual reference to chronology and adduces a time interval apparently well known to Israel's enemies and acknowledged by them, it carries special credibility as evidence for the early date.

Nor is this the only corroboration of 1 Kings 6:1. In his speech at Antioch Pisidia, the apostle Paul affirms in Acts 13:19-20: "And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land as an inheritance—all of which took about four hundred and fifty years. And after these things [i.e., after the division of the land to the Twelve Tribes] He gave them judges until Samuel the prophet" (NASB). Quite clearly the interval included the first departure from Egypt to take possession of the Holy Land, all the way to the end of Samuel's career, as the prophet who anointed David as king. In other words, about 450 years elapsed between the Exodus and the establishment of David in the Holy City of Jerusalem: 1445 to 995 B.C.

Thus it turns out that if the 1290 date is correct, then we must condemn as inaccurate at least two other passages in Scripture besides 1 Kings 6:1 itself; and the Bible then loses all claim to complete trustworthiness in matters of historical fact—even the major events of the history of Redemption. It is therefore of particular importance to examine the case for the accuracy of the 1445 date indicated by these two passages from the Old Testament and the one from Acts 13.

First, as to the reference to the slave labor of the Israelites in the city of Rameses in Exodus 1:11, it should be noted that even by the late date theory this would have to be regarded as an anachronism (i.e., a later name applied to the city than the name it bore at the time of their taskwork in it). The reference to this work project occurs before any mention of the birth of Moses, and Moses was eighty years of age by the time of the Exodus event. It would have been impossible for Moses to have been born after the commencement of Rameses's reign in 1300 B.C. and then be eighty years old ten years later! Consequently the city in question could not have borne the name "Rameses" back in the period referred to by Exodus 1:11. Therefore its evidential value for the late date theory is fatally undermined. It should also be observed, however, that even though a later name was inserted in place of the original name of the city that was current in Moses' time, this furnishes no more difficulty than to refer to Kiriath Arba as Hebron, even though narrating an event that took place there prior to its change of name. Nor would a history of England be justly accused of inaccuracy if it spoke of Constantius I of Rome making a triumphant march into "York" back in a day when it was called "Eboracum."

Second, as to the argument that there could not have been a 430-year interval between a Jacob migration in the Hyksos period and a 1445 Exodus, we freely admit the force of this objection. If the Hyksos rule began around 1750 B. C., a 1445 Exodus would be out of the question. But we hasten to add that the textual evidence of both Genesis and Exodus make it quite certain that it  was  a  native  Egyptian dynasty that was in power back in Joseph's day; it could not have been Hyksos—Josephus to the contrary notwithstanding. Consider the following facts:

1. The reigning dynasty looks down with contempt on Semitic foreigners from Palestine and forbids such to eat at the same table with Egyptians (Gen. 43:32: "The Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians"). But the Hyksos themselves had originally come down from Palestine into Egypt, speaking a Semitic language like theirs. (Thus their first king was named Salitis, representing the Semitic term sallit; they named their cities in Egypt Succoth, Baal-zephon, and Migdol, all good Canaanite names.) It is therefore inconceivable that they would have regarded other visitors from Palestine as an inferior breed of humanity. But the ethnic Egyptians certainly did so, as their literature abundantly testifies.

2. Joseph is obviously uneasy about his family admitting to the Egyptian authorities that they were shepherds as well as cattle raisers. (Gen. 46:34 states quite plainly: "For every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.") But this could scarcely have been true of the Hyksos, who were so closely associated with sheep-herding in the recollection of the later Egyptians that they (like Manetho) construed the name "Hyksos" to mean "Shepherd Kings." During their era certainly there could have been no reproach attachable to the raising of sheep.

3. The Pharaoh "who knew not Joseph" came to power a considerable interval after Joseph's death and after his family had already settled in Goshen. Therefore we are warranted in assuming that this new Pharaoh was a Hyksos rather than a native Egyptian. This emerges from his concern expressed in Exodus 1:8-10 as to the alarming population growth of the Hebrews, whom he states to be "more and mightier than we" (NASB). The population of Egypt was unquestionably much larger than the two million or so Israelites (who only became that numerous by the time of the Exodus, many years later). But for the leader of the warrior caste of the Hyksos, who dominated the native population only through their superior military organization (something like the Spartans as they kept the more numerous Helots and Messenians subject to their rule), this would not have been an exaggerated apprehension. Because of the steadfast loyalty of Joseph and his family to the Egyptian government, a Hyksos monarch might well have feared that they might make common cause with a native Egyptian uprising ("Let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply and in the event of war, they also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us" [v. 10]). It was at a later time, then, after the Hyksos themselves had finally been expelled from Egypt by Ahmose—who however left the Hebrews undisturbed in Goshen because of their consistent loyalty to the native Egyptians—that Amenhotep I of the Eighteenth Dynasty adopted the oppressive policy of the Hyksos rulers. Amenhotep I also was uneasy at the phenomenal growth of the Hebrew population in Goshen and tried to discourage this growth by hard labor and, finally, by the time of Moses' birth, by infanticide. If it is at v.13 that this Eighteenth-Dynasty oppression begins, then we must understand the Hyksos as having compelled the Israelites to work on the storage cities of Pithom and Rameses. In this connection it might be pointed out that the name "Rameses" itself may have been of Hyksos origin. The father of Rameses II was "Seti," which means "Follower of Seth" or "Sutekh," the Egyptian equivalent of "Baal," who was the patron god of the Hyksos dynasties. A great many of the Hyksos royal names ended likewise in "Ra," the name of the sun god of Egypt (names such as Aa-woser-Ra, Neb-khepesh-ra, Aa-qenen-ra, etc.), and Ra-mose (a name already current in the Eighteenth Dynasty, by the way) means "Born of Ra." (Ra-mes-su, the Egyptian spelling of Rameses, actually means "Ra has begotten him.") But it is most significant that Rameses II went to great effort and expense to restore and build up the old Hyksos capital of Avaris, even though he named it after himself. At all events, nothing could be more unlikely than that Joseph and his family moved into Egypt during the Hyksos period. Hence this objection to the 1445 Exodus is without weight.

Third, the argument that an Eighteenth Dynasty Pharaoh would have kept his royal residence far down (or up) the Nile, five hundred miles away from Goshen, also proves to be untenable in the light of the inscriptional evidence. We offer the following data:

1. Thutmose III, the probable "Pharaoh of the Oppression," erected two red granite obelisks in front of the temple of Ra (or Re', as it is more usually vocalized today) in Heliopolis, describing himself as "Lord of Heliopolis." This city was at the base of the Delta, and therefore hardly remote from Goshen. It is fair to assume that up in the Delta he had frequent need of slave labor for his building projects, especially in view of the barracks and military installations that had to be erected in the Delta as a base of operations against Palestine and Syria (which he invaded no less than fourteen times).

2. An Eighteenth-Dynasty scarab has been found that refers to the birth of Amenhotep II as having occurred in Memphis, likewise at the base of the Delta. From this we must assume that at least part of the time Thutmose III must have maintained a palace in Memphis.

3. In an inscription set up by Amenhotep himself (translated in Pritchard, ANET, p. 244), he recalls how he used to ride out from the royal stable in Memphis to practice archery near the pyramids of Gizeh. W. C. Hayes (The Scepter of Egypt, 2 vols. [Cambridge: Harvard University, 1959], 2:141) concludes that Amenhotep must have maintained large estates at Perwennefer, a large naval dockyard near Memphis, and that he resided there for extended periods of time. So much for the theory that Eighteenth-Dynasty kings resided only at Thebes.

Fourth, the archaeological evidence of thirteenth-century destruction levels at cities like Lachish, Debir, and Hazor, mentioned in the narrative of Joshua's conquests, fails to furnish any decisive evidence that Joshua's invasion in fact took place in the thirteenth century. In the turbulent, unsettled conditions that characterized the period of the Judges, such as the total destruction meted out to Shechem by Abimelech the son of Gideon, episodes of this sort must have been frequent, even though our scanty records do not permit any specific identification of the victorious aggressor in most instances. As for the date of the destruction of City  IV  in  Old  Testament Jericho, even though the collapsed walls may have been erected considerably earlier than 1400 B.C. (as Katherine Kenyon deduced from the sherds discovered in the earth-fill), these walls may still have been the same as those that fell before Joshua at the time of the Israelite conquest. After all, the walls that now surround Carcassonne in France and Avila in Spain were erected many centuries before our present era—yet they still stand today. But their earth-fill must contain artifacts and sherds coming from several centuries ago, rather than from the late 1900s.

But more significant for dating the Fall of Jericho to the end of the fifteenth century is the fact that the associated cemetery (contemporaneous with City IV) yielded numerous Egyptian scarabs bearing the name of Eighteenth-Dynasty Egyptian kings, but none of them later than Amenhotep III, in whose reign (1412-1376) the capture of Jericho would have occurred, according to the early date theory. Over 150,000 sherds were discovered in City IV, according to John Garstang's published reports, but only one piece was found of the Mycenean type. Since Mycenean ware was introduced into Canaan soon after 1400, we are forced to conclude that City IV was destroyed before the early fourteenth century. Concerning this, John Garstang wrote:

We are aware that varying opinions have appeared in print which conflict with our interpretation of the date of the fall of Jericho about 1400 B.C. Few such opinions are based on first-hand knowledge of the scientific results of our excavations; while many of them are devoid of logical reasoning, or are based upon preconceptions as to the date of the Exodus. No commentator has yet produced from the results of our excavations, which have been fully published in the Liverpool Annals of Archaeology, any evidence that City IV remained in being after the reign of Amenhotep III .... We see no need therefore to discuss the date as though it were a matter for debate (The Story of Jericho [London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1948], p. xiv).

Perhaps it should be added that the reference to iron implements as part of the booty taken from Jericho, according to Joshua 6:24, is no decisive evidence that the city fell during the Iron Age (twelfth century and thereafter). In fact the contrary is the case, for during the Iron Age iron objects would hardly have been mentioned with gold and silver as valuable booty, for by the Iron Age this metal had come into common use. Yet iron itself was known and used long before 1200 B.C. in the Near East, for iron objects have been found at Tell Asmar dating from about 2500 B.C. (Oriental Institute Communications, ASOR, 17:59-61). The Hebrew word for "iron" is barzel, corresponding to the Babylonian parzillu, and it was probably derived from the ancient Sumerian language, which spells the word for "iron" as naAN.-BAR (Deimel, Sumerisches Lexikon, Heft 2).

As for the often-cited negative findings of Nelson Glueck concerning the nonexistence of sedentary occupation in the Transjordan during the fifteenth century B.C, the most recent (though unofficial) reports indicate that sherds that Glueck could not identify he did not mention in his survey—and some of them may well have been from that period (cf. H. J. Franken and W.J. A. Power, "Glueck's Exploration in Eastern Palestine in the Light of Recent Evidence," VT 9 [1971]: 119-23). In the last thirty years an increasing number of excavated sites have testified to urban centers that flourished during the supposedly unoccupied era. Thus G. Lankaster Harding reported in the Biblical Archaeologist for February 1953 the discovery of an ancient tomb in Amman containing numerous artifacts (black-pricked ware, buttonbase vases, oil flasks, scarabs, and toggle pins) dating from about 1600. In his Antiquities of Jordan (1959, p. 32), Harding described characteristically Middle Bronze pottery and other artifacts found at Naur and Mount Nebo. In 1967 a sixteenth-century tomb was discovered in Pella (ASOR Newsletter, December 1967). Under a runway at the Amman airport a Late Bronze temple was uncovered in 1955. The excavations at Deir Alia by Franken and those of Siegfried Horn at Heshbon have shown that the pottery of Transjordan was quite dissimilar to contemporary pottery produced on the West Bank; since Glueck was unaware of this fact, an important margin of error entered into his calculations (cf. E. Yamauchi's article in Christianity Today, 22 December 1971, p. 26).

The site of Ai is usually identified with Et-Tell, which according to the archaeological evidence was unoccupied between 2200 B.C. and 1200 B.C. or a little afterward. There are many reasons for rejecting the identification of Ai with Et-Tell, but since its period of nonoccupation agrees neither with the early date nor the late date theory, it hardly seems worth discussion. W. F. Albright's suggestion was that the account in Joshua 7 was garbled and that it was Bethel itself that the Israelites captured and destroyed rather than Ai. But Albright failed to explain how the observers from Bethel were able to descry the pretended flight of the Israelites from the charge of the Aites (Josh. 8:17), or how the inhabitants of both cities could have taken part in the pursuit. The true location of Ai has yet to be discovered, but until further excavation reveals a Late Bronze level of occupation (which is entirely possible) Et-Tell has no bearing whatever on the dating of the Conquest.

On the other hand, the archaeological data from the Wadi Tumilat (ancient Goshen) is quite decisive against a Nineteenth-Dynasty date for the events of the Exodus. In the Nineteenth Dynasty, Rameses II carried on extensive building in that area occupied formerly by the Hebrews. This cannot be reconciled with the situation of exclusive Israelite occupation during the Ten Plagues. The details of the plague of flies, the plague of hail, and the plague of darkness make it clear (in Exod. 8:22; 9:25-26; 10:23) that the Hebrews were exempted from these afflictions in the region that they inhabited. This strongly suggests that no Egyptians were living at all in Goshen during this period, in view of the fact that all the Egyptians had to bear the brunt of these three plagues. But back in the days of Thutmose III and Amenhotep II of the Eighteenth Dynasty, there was no Egyptian building activity in the Wadi Tumilat at all— so far as the present state of our knowledge goes.

As far as the fifth argument for a 1290 date is concerned, that the Book of Judges contains no references to the Egyptian invasions of Seti I and Rameses the Great in the land of Canaan, this turns out to be of little weight. The Book of Judges is equally silent concerning Egyptian invasions of Palestine that took place after the death of Rameses II and prior to the establishment of the Hebrew monarchy. His son Merneptah records in the so-called Israel Stela (on display at the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo) an allegedly devastating invasion in 1229 throughout the land of the Hittites, Yanoam near Laish-Dan, Gezer near the Valley of Aijalon, Ash-kelon in Philistia, and also against the Horites and the Israelites themselves. This would have to have occurred in the time of the Judges, even according to the late date theory.

Nor is there any mention of the campaigns of Rameses III (1204-1172) of the Twentieth Dynasty. Inscriptions of his (published in Pritchard, ANET, p. 262) record that he subdued the Tjeker (Palestinians) and burnt the cities of the Philistines to ashes. Some of the bas-reliefs on his monuments depict his triumphant progress up to Djahi (Phoenicia) to the north. In Bethshan at the eastern end of the Plain of the Esdraelon, stelae have been discovered attesting his authority in that region. These examples show that the Hebrew account did not see fit to refer to the Egyptian invasions at any period during the time of the Judges. The reason for this silence is not quite clear, but at any rate its supposed evidence for a 1290 date for the Exodus turns out to be valueless.

John Garstang and J.B. Payne both offered the suggestion that the periods of "rest" referred to in Judges may have coincided with periods of time when the Egyptians were in firm control of the main strongholds and important highways of Palestine, thus insuring no major movements of aggression on the part of Mesopotamian invaders or Moabites or Ammonites or Philistines. Thus the eighty years of peace following the death of King Eglon of Moab would have coincided with the pacification of Canaan by Seti I and Rameses II. The quiet period after the overthrow of Jabin and Sisera by Deborah and Barak may have been the result of the firm control by Rameses III. Perhaps the references to the "hornet" sent by the Lord to drive out the Canaanites before the Israelite attack is a covert reference to the Egyptian invasions (cf. Exod. 23:28; Deut. 7:20; Josh. 24:12). The hieroglyphic symbol for the king of Lower Egypt was a wasp-shaped bee. Whether or not this was the case, the fact remains that there is no specific reference to any Egyptian invasion of the Holy Land until the time of Solomon, so far as the Hebrew records go.

After this rather extensive survey of the biblical, historical, and archaeological evidence, we are forced to conclude that only the 1445 date can be sustained. 

It is quite obvious that the Pharaoh from whom Moses had to flee after his slaying of the Egyptian taskmaster remained on the throne until near the close of Moses' forty-year sojourn in Midian; for Exodus 4:19 reports Yahweh as saying to Moses, "Go, return into Egypt; for all the men are dead which sought your life." The whole tenor of the narrative in Exodus 2 leads us to believe that it was the Pharaoh of 1:22 who "after many days" passed away, as mentioned in 2:23. No other Pharaoh meets all these qualifications besides Thutmose III. He alone was on the throne long enough (1501-1447) to have been reigning at the time of Moses' flight from Egypt until near the time of his return.

Thutmose's son Amenhotep II, who doubtless hoped to equal his father's prowess, proved unable to launch any invasion of Palestine apart from his modest campaigns in his fifth year and his seventh year—or was it the ninth year? The Memphis stela dates his first campaign in the seventh year and the second in his ninth year, but the Amada stela puts his first campaign in the third year (cf. J. A. Wilson's footnote in Pritchard, ANET, p. 245). This suggests that some major disaster, such as the loss of his main chariot force in the Red Sea crossing (Exod. 14), was a factor in his diminished scale of foreign aggression.

As for Amenhotep I1’s son and successor, Thutmose IV, the evidence of his "Dream Stela" strongly suggests that he was not the firstborn son but a younger son who would not ordinarily have been eligible to succeed him. In this text (which had apparently been somewhat damaged and then later restored) the god of the Sphinx, Har-em-akht, appeared to the young prince and promised him the throne of Egypt if he would have his sand-engulfed shrine dug out and restored for worship. Obviously if Thutmose had already been his father's oldest son, he would have needed no such promise from the god but would have automatically succeeded his father upon the latter's decease. It is reasonable to infer from this that the oldest son of Amenhotep II was carried off by some accident or illness prematurely— such as the tenth plague.

Many other evidences could be advanced in support of the 1445 B.C. date for the Exodus and in refutation of the 1290 theory, but what has already been adduced is more than sufficient to prove the point. (See further my Survey of Old Testament Introduction, pp. 215-19; Bimson, Redating the Exodus, pp. 35-146; Leon Wood, A Survey of Israel's History [Grand Rapids: Zonder-van, 1970], pp. 88-109.)



Doesn't 1 Kings 7:23 give an inaccurate value for pi?

First Kings 7:23 says, "He [Hiram] made the sea of cast metal ten cubits from brim to brim, circular in form, and its height was five cubits, and thirty cubits in circumference" (NASB). Some critics have urged this approximate value of three to one as the relationship between the diameter and the circumference of the circle amounts to a geometrical inaccuracy, inconsistent with a truly errorless Scripture. The true value of pi is calculated to be 3.14159 rather than 3.0.

This criticism is, however, devoid of merit. While it is true that the more exact calculation of pi is essential for scientific purposes, or for the manufacture of precision parts in a factory, the use of approximate proportions or totals is a familiar practice in normal speech, even today. If the statistical statements concerning the population of cities or nations were subjected to the same stringent standard as that leveled at 1 Kings 7:23, then we would have to say that all population statistics are in error. A certain number of people are dying each minute, and babies are being born at a standard rate every sixty seconds; therefore any exact sum that might be true at 1:00 p.m. on a given day through computer calculation would be "inaccurate" by 1:01 p.m. that same day. It is perfectly proper to speak of the circumference of any circle as being three times its diameter if we are speaking approximately, just as one may legitimately state that the population of China is from 800 million to one billion. The Hebrew author here is obviously speaking in the approximate way that is normal practice even today.

There is one interesting feature about this that might well be added. If the rod used to mark out a length of five cubits (approximately ninety inches) for the radius were used to measure the inside circumference of the same bowl-shaped vessel here described, then it would take exactly six of those five-cubit measures to complete the circumference. Let the skeptic try it and see!

Despite 1 Kings 9:22, didn't Solomon impose forced labor on Israelite citizens?

First Kings 9:22 says that in contrast to the descendants of the conquered Canaanite nations, "Solomon did not make slaveses [lo’ na-tan ... 'a-bed] of the sons of Israel; for they were men of war, his servants [‘abddim], his princes, his captains, his chariot commanders, and his horsemen" (NASB). In other words, he treated them as free men, as citizens of honorable standing. Yet earlier, in 1 Kings 5:13 (5:27 Heb.), it is stated that "King Solomon levied forced laborers [lit., 'raised a levy of forced labor'] from all Israel; and the forced laborers [hammas] numbered 30,000 men" (NASB). Each of three contingents of ten thousand worked for four months of the year, by shifts or in rotation. Besides these there were seventy thousand burden bearers and eighty thousand stonecutters to assist in procuring and preparing the materials for the temple and palace that were to be erected on the temple mount in Jerusalem.

It is not stated whether the burden bearers and stonecutters were non-Israelite Canaanites, but it is a fair assumption that they were. Nothing is said about the division into shifts that characterized the Israelite workers, as just described. It is a fair assumption also that the thirty thousand Israelites who participated in the felling and processing of building materials for the temple were specially selected for their experience and skill along these lines, and that they considered it a privilege to have a part in this work for God. Hence there is no real contradiction between the two statements (5:13 and 9:22).

It should be noted, however, that Solomon did not restrict the drafting of an Israelite labor force to the temple mount structures. He apparently used this kind of work crew to strengthen the defenses of Jerusalem as well: the filling up of the depression between Mount Zion and Mount Moriah as a heightened and fortified Millo ("Filling"), along with a general improvement of the entire city wall (1 Kings 9:15). Some of the provincial capitals required this type of additional fortification, such as Hazor and Megiddo— and even Gezer, after Pharaoh had turned the city over to Solomon (as a dowry for his daughter, who became Solomon's wife). Indeed the maintenance of corvee labor on the part of Israelite citizens may have continued intermittently until the close of Solomon's reign, for while it uses the word sebel rather than mas, 11:28 mentions that Jeroboam was originally a supervisor or foreman of such a "burden- bearing" force for the "house of Joseph" (which presumably included Manasseh as well as Ephraim). 

Perhaps Solomon resorted to this system of corvee for Israelite citizens as the building operations progressed and as his own original high principles suffered eclipse under the pressure of his ambitious goals.

In the light of his dealings with Bathsheba and her husband, Uriah, how could David be regarded by the Lord as a servant whose heart was "perfect" before Him (cf. 1 Kings 11:4; 15:3; Acts 13:22)? 

Even before David became king of Israel, he had committed several sins and offenses to his discredit. His deception of the high priest Ahimelech resulted in the massacre of nearly every priest in the city of Nob by the agents of King Saul, even though they were completely unaware of David's status as a wanted fugitive (1 Sam. 21-22). Later on, as a vassal of King Achish of Gath, David systematically deceived him as to the various tribes and communities his warriors had raided in their forays from Ziklag; and he was willing to put every one of his victims to death in order to keep the truth about his activities from getting back to Achish (1 Sam. 27:8-12). His affair with Uriah's wife, Bathsheba, and the subsequent cover-up that he engineered by having Uriah killed in battle before the walls of Rabbath Amrnon (2 Sam. 11) were by no means the only shameful blots on his record, even though they are doubtless the best known.

From these considerations it is quite apparent that David did not gain God's favor or approval because of a sinless life. Although his conduct was for the most part exemplary and his courage and ability as a leader beyond comparison, it was not because of these things that he especially pleased God. It was rather because of his tremendous faith in the power and grace of God that his heart was adjudged to be salem (KJV, "perfect"; NASB, "wholly devoted"; NIV, "fully devoted") with Yahweh his God (1 Kings 11:4; 15:3). The adjective salem basically means "complete, whole, sound, finished" or even "at peace with ['im] someone." (The word is cognate with solom, "peace, welfare.") That is, David's heart was all there for God, and God was his very reason for living. Many of his psalms eloquently express his deep attachment to the Lord, his joy in fellowship with God, and his complete trust in His redeeming power.

Furthermore, David could never remain out of fellowship with God for very long. Psalm 32 reveals what unbearable agony he went through after the affair with Bathsheba, until finally the prophet Nathan came to him and condemned his crimes in the name of Yahweh (2 Sam. 12:7-10). A lesser man would have flared up against this daring prophet and had him put to death. But one of the greatest assets in David's character was his ability to receive rebuke, to acknowledge his utter sinfulness (cf. Ps. 51:3-5), and to cast himself on the mercy of God to forgive him, cleanse him, and restore him to holy fellowship once more.

The believer who can face guilt and failure in the way David did is in a profound sense a man after God's own heart—the kind that God told Samuel He was going to look for after Saul had forfeited favor by his disobedience (1 Sam. 13:14). David was that kind of a son and servant to the Lord; he was an 'is kilebabo ("a man according to His heart"). As such he became a model for all believers to follow, in regard to wholehearted commitment to pleasing the Lord, obeying His word, and furthering the cause of His kingdom on earth. God could trust him with great responsibility and consistent victory on the battlefield because David's central  purpose  was to  glorify God, not to glorify or please himself. 

Recalling these dominant traits in David's life, the apostle Paul commended him to the congregation in Antioch Pisidiae, saying: "And after He had removed him [Saul], He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart [kata ten kardian mou], who will do all My will" (Acts 13:22, NASB). 

The glory of God, the will of God, and the loving fellowship of God were what mattered most to King David, even though there were temporary lapses in that relationship. But even after he had fallen into sin and failure, David knew how to trust God's grace and forgiving love enough to confess and forsake his iniquity in an attitude of true repentance so as to get back in step with the Lord on the highway of holiness. Such a believer is certain to be a man or woman after God's own heart!

Was Elijah's prediction of the dogs' licking up Ahab's blood at Jezreel really fulfilled by the Pool of Samaria?

First Kings 21:19 reads: "Thus says the Lord, 'Have you murdered, and also taken possession?'... Thus says the Lord, 'In the place where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth the dogs shall lick up your blood, even yours'" (NASB). But in the record of the fulfillment of this sentence of doom, which occurs in 1 Kings 22:37-38, we read: "So the king died and was brought to Samaria, and they buried the king in Samaria. And they washed the chariot by the pool of Samaria [Ifre-ka-t someron], and the dogs licked up his blood... according to the word of the Lord which He spoke" (NASB). The licking up of Ahab's blood by dogs is certainly confirmed by this narration. But what about the detail "in this place where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth"? The Hebrew text lays stress on the very spot: "where the dogs licked up" (bim e qom ‘a ser laq e qu hakk e labim) Naboth's blood (21:19). This calls for further investigation.

Where was Naboth stoned to death by the two false witnesses and the mob that accompanied them? Could it have been by a pool located just outside the city of Samaria? This is barely conceivable; but it hardly seems likely, in view of the circumstances surrounding the whole transaction of Ahab's offer to Naboth outside of Jezreel (21:2-3), which met with Naboth's refusal. Jezebel sent orders "to the elders and to the nobles who were living with Naboth in his city." In all probability Naboth was tried and convicted on a trumped-up charge of blasphemy in the city square of Jezreel itself, and he was then led to a place just outside the city wall of Jezreel; so it must have been there (rather than in Samaria, which was many miles distant) that his innocent blood was spilled. Yet this is not actually stated in so many words.

If Naboth's accusers had taken Naboth "outside of the city" of Jezreel, they may have carried him all the way to Samaria in order to hold his execution by stoning right outside the capital of the kingdom of Israel, at the pool just outside the city wall. Nevertheless this would have been an exceptional procedure according to Old Testament law. Normally a punishment or execution was inflicted on an offender in the same jurisdiction as his crime was committed. (Yet this was not invariably the case. Joshua 7:24 records that Achan, whose theft of spoil from the accursed city of Jericho took place at Jericho itself, was not stoned to death outside Jericho but rather in the valley of Achor [which seems to have been part of the Wadi Qilt, at some distance from Tell el-Sultan, Old Testament Jericho], a site fairly removed from the scene of the crime.)

There remains one other intriguing possibility, as we study the probable route traveled by Ahab's henchmen during their retreat from the disaster at Ramoth-gilead. They would almost certainly have crossed the Jordan just below Bethshan and then made their way in a west-northwesterly direction until coming to the summer capital of Jezreel, just beyond which they would have to take the highway leading through the pass through the Esdraelon range. By the time they reached Jezreel, with their melancholy task of interring Ahab's corpse in the cemetery of Samaria after their arrival there, they may well have decided to wash off his chariot before it entered Samaria itself. By that time his dried gore must have been quite malodorous and disfiguring to the appearance of the royal chariot—which presumably would have been part of the later funeral procession. A pool outside Jezreel would have been most convenient for their purpose. But how could a pool at Jezreel have been called "the Pool of Samaria"? Perhaps in the planning of this new summer palace and its adjacent landscaping, Ahab and Jezebel decided that a pool would enhance the beauty of the grounds. They might well have called it "Samaria Pool" in honor of the regular capital city (founded by Ahab's father, Omri), which would serve as the seat of government during the cooler seasons of the year.

Not all pools connected with ancient Near Eastern cities bore the name of the city itself, particularly if there was an older pool already in existence. In Jerusalem, for example, there were the Pool of Siloam, the Pool of Bethesda (Beth-zatha), the King's Pool, and the Pool of Shelah. Since the "Pool of Samaria" here mentioned was one at which the city's prostitutes normally bathed (1 Kings 22:38), it was probably not the only pool in use, but only a later pool, constructed by the landscapers connected with the summer palace. 

It is therefore reasonable to infer that there was another pool known as the Pool of Jezreel, intended for the general public of Jezreel itself. Hence Ahab's palace pool, if such there was, would have to have borne some other name. What, then, would have been more appropriate than the name of the national capital, where Ahab resided in his ivory-inlaid palace for the greater part of the year?

Is there not a contradiction between 1 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 20, as to Jehoshaphat's ill-fated fleet at Eziongeber?

First Kings 22:48 agrees with 2 Chronicles 20:35-36 that a fleet of ocean-going merchantmen ("ships of Tarshish") was constructed at the Red Sea port of Eziongeber, for the purpose of engaging in trade with Ophir—a trade that Solomon had found very profitable back in the previous century (1 Kings 9:28). They also agree that Ahaziah the son of Ahab, king of Israel, was somehow involved in this venture. Apparently the plan originally agreed on by both rulers (2 Chron. 20:35-36) was that this would be a joint commercial venture, with both the costs and the profits to be shared by both governments. First Kings 22:49 says: "Then Ahaziah the son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, 'Let my servants go with your servants in the ships.' But Jehoshaphat was not willing" (NASB). But 2 Chronicles 20:35-36 contributes the interesting information that Jehoshaphat actually was at first quite willing for Ahaziah to join with him in this undertaking, even though it was wrong for him to act in partnership with a degenerate Baal-worshiper like the son of Ahab and Jezebel. It was only under the pressure of the prophet Eliezer son of Dodavahu, who denounced the alliance as highly displeasing to God, that Jehoshaphat finally backed away from the agreement. Second Chronicles 20:37 tells us that Eliezer predicted that Yahweh would destroy all the ships that Jehoshaphat had built, and then the Lord apparently proceeded to do so by sending a violent storm on the harbor of Eziongeber.

There is really no basic contradiction between the two accounts, even though there is perhaps a difference in emphasis. But we still cannot be quite certain whether Jehoshaphat notified Ahaziah that the deal was off at some time before the storm struck or whether it was after it had smashed up the ships. In the latter case, the only thing that Jehoshaphat could have vetoed, so far as Ahaziah was concerned, was a project to attempt a rebuilding of the ruined fleet as a joint venture for a second time.

2 Kings

When did Jehoram son of Ahab begin his reign?

Second Kings 1:17 states that Jehoram, Ahab's younger son, began his reign as king of Israel in the second year of Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. (Quite confusing is this appearance of identical names among the children of both Ahab of Israel and Jehoshaphat of Judah, but apparently their treaty of alliance and friendship extended even to the naming of their children!) This appears to be in conflict with the notation in 2 Kings 3:1, that Jehoram ben Ahab became king in the "eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat." But the discrepancy arises from the fact that just prior to joining Ahab in the unsuccessful attempt to recapture Ramoth-gilead from the Syrians, Jehoshaphat took the precaution to have his son Jehoram installed as co-regent on the throne of Judah.

In the battle of Ramoth-gilead, in which Ahab was fatally wounded by an arrow (1 Kings 22:34-35), Jehoshaphat himself nearly lost his life; so his foresight was well grounded. But Jehoram began his reign as coregent in that year, 853 B.C. Yet Jehoshaphat lived on until 848, five years later. Thus it came about that the second year of Jehoram ben Jehoshaphat was 851-850. It was also the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat (who began  to  reign  in  869-868  as  sole king, that being the year when his father Asa died). Since Jehoram ben Ahab ascended the throne of Israel in 850, both synchronisms were correct: the second year of Jehoram ben Jehoshaphat was the same as the eighteenth of Jehoshaphat.

It should be pointed out in this connection that this precedent for installing the crown prince as coregent in his father's lifetime was followed at least six times in the course of the Judean monarchy: (1) Asa died in 869, but his son Jehoshaphat became coregent in 872 (making three or four years of coregency); (2) Jehoshaphat died in 848, but his son Jehoram became co-regent in 853; (3) Amaziah died in 767, but his son Azariah (or Uzziah, as he is variously known) became coregent in 790 (possibly when Amaziah was taken captive to Israel by Jehoash ben Jehoahaz, king of Israel); (4) Uzziah died in 739, but his son Jotham became coregent in 751 (when his father was stricken with leprosy); (5) Jotham died in 736 or 735, but his son Ahaz became coregent in 743; (6) Ahaz died in 725, but his son Hezekiah became coregent in 728. From the technical legal standpoint, Jehoiachin was the senior king of Judah from 597 (Ezekiel always dates his prophecies by Jehoiachin's regnal years); and so during the entire reign of his brother Zedekiah (597-587), the latter ruled only as coregent. If we bear these guidelines in mind, many apparent confusions in the dates of the period of the divided monarchy can be readily cleared up.

The young men who mocked Elisha because he was bald were cursed, and forty-two of them were killed by two she-bears (2 Kings 2:23-24). How could a man of God curse people for such a mild personal offense? 

A careful study of this incident in context shows that it was far more serious than a "mild personal offense." It was a situation of serious public danger, quite as grave as the large youth gangs that roam the ghetto sections of our modern American cities. If these young hoodlums were ranging about in packs of fifty or more, derisive toward respectable adults and ready to mock even a well-known man of God, there is no telling what violence they might have inflicted on the citizenry of the religious center of the kingdom of Israel (as Bethel was), had they been allowed to continue their riotous course. Perhaps it was for this reason that God saw fit to put forty-two of them to death in this spectacular fashion (there is no evidence that Elisha himself, in imposing a curse, prayed for this specific mode of punishment), in order to strike terror into other youth gangs that were infesting the city and to make them realize that neither Yahweh Himself nor any of His anointed prophets were to be threatened or treated with contempt.

Certainly from that time on, the whole Israelite community became convinced that Elisha was a true prophet and that he bore an authoritative word from God. Even the ungodly king Jehoram son of Ahab treated him with great deference and respect (see 2 Kings 3:11-13) after this had taken place.

Was not Elisha the prophet guilty of lying to the Syrian troops in 2 Kings 6:19?

Technically Elisha's statement to the foreign invaders was true in the light of the situation in which he made it. He said to the expeditionary force of Benhadad, sent to capture him by surprise, "This is not the way, nor is this the city; follow me and I will bring you to the man whom you seek" (NASB). While it is true that Dothan had been Elisha's location the night before and that they had taken the right way to get up to Dothan, nevertheless neither of those facts was now true. Why? Because Elisha was no longer in Dothan; he had come out of the city to meet them. Therefore the way up to Dothan was no longer the right path for them to use if they wished to capture the troublesome prophet. Thus he was only speaking the truth when he said, "This is not the way, nor is this the city." It was now Elisha's purpose to go in front of them down the highway to Samaria, the city where he would remove the "blindness" (i.e., their inability to recognize him) from their eyes. Consequently the rest of his statement was likewise true: if they would follow him all the way down to Samaria, then he would indeed bring them to Elisha inside the city of Samaria. The following verse (v.20) shows how he fulfilled his promise to the letter. Samaria was the right city for them to see the prophet they had come to capture. But unfortunately for them, when they did get into Samaria, they saw their hoped-for quarry surrounded by the regimental troops of the king of Israel; and it was the Syrians who were taken prisoner.

This delightful episode certainly does record the complete discomfiture of the foreign invaders by a supernatural blindness cast on them by the Lord (somewhat like the blindness sent on the Sodomites who riotously at-tempted to break down the door to Lot's house [Gen. 19:11]). But it is not really justified to call Elisha's statement a lie, for every part of it was technically correct. Nowhere does he actually say, "I am not the man you are looking for." He only said that he would lead them to that man in the city where they would find him (as soon as he got there).

When did Ahaziah ben Jehoram become king?

Second Kings 8:25 says that Ahaziah son of Jehoram of Judah became king in the twelfth year of Jehoram son of Ahab of Israel. Yet in 2 Kings 9:29 it is stated that it was in his eleventh year. Which is right? Is there not a discrepancy of one year?

The answer is that Ahaziah ben Jehoram became king in 841 B.C., which according to the nonaccession-year system came out to Jehoram ben Ahab's twelfth year, but according to the accession-year system was his eleventh year. In 2 Kings 8:25 the nonaccession-year system was used, but in 2 Kings 9:29 it was the accession-year system that was followed. Confusing?

The fact of the matter is, however, that the Northern Kingdom followed the nonaccession-year system from 930 B.C. until 798 B.C., but from 798 (the beginning of the reign of Jehoash ben Jehoahaz) till the Fall of Samaria in 722 B.C, it switched to the accession-year system. The southern kingdom, on the other hand, used the accession-year system from 930 until the beginning of the reign of Jehoram ben Jehoshaphat (848-841), or possibly a couple of years earlier, in 850 B.C, before Jehoshaphat died. Around 850 the southern kingdom of Judah switched to the nonaccession-year system and stayed on it until the end of the reign of Joash ben Ahaziah (835-796)—when it finally reverted to the accession-year system (i.e., the first official regnal year did not begin until New Year's Day of the year following the year when the new king came to the throne). Therefore, by the accession-year system, what was the eleventh year of Jehoram was the twelfth year by the nonaccession-year system, i.e., 841 B.C. No discrepancy!



How old was Ahaziah when he began to reign (cf. 2 Kings 8:26 with 2 Chron. 22:2) and Jehoiachin when he began to reign (cf. 2 Kings 24:8 with 2 Chron. 36:9-10)?

Copyists were prone to making two types of scribal errors. One concerned the spelling of proper names (especially unfamiliar proper names), and the other had to do with numbers. Ideally, we might have wished that the Holy Spirit had restrained all copyists of Scripture over the centuries from making mistakes of any kind; but an errorless copy would have required a miracle, and this was not the way it worked out.

It is beyond the capability of anyone to avoid any and every slip of the pen in copying page after page from any book—sacred or secular. Yet we may be sure that the original manuscript of each book of the Bible, being directly inspired by God, was free from all error. It is also true that no well-attested variation in the manuscript copies that have come down to us alter any doctrine of the Bible. To this extent, at least, the Holy Spirit has exercised a restraining influence in superintending the transmission of the text.

These two examples of numerical discrepancy have to do with the decade in the number given. In 2 Chronicles 22:2 Ahaziah is said to have been forty-two; in 2 Kings 8:26 he is said to have been twenty-two. Fortunately there is enough additional information in the biblical text to show that the correct number is twenty-two. 

Second Kings 8:17 tells us that Ahaziah's father Joram ben Ahab was thirty-two when he became king, and he died eight years later, at the age of forty. Therefore Ahaziah could not have been forty-two at the time of his father's death at age forty!

Similar is the case of Jehoiachin, whose age at accession is given by 2 Chronicles 36:9-10 as eight but by 2 Kings 24:8 as eighteen. There is enough information in the context to show that eight is wrong and eighteen is right. That is to say, Jehoiachin reigned only three months; yet he was obviously a responsible adult at the time, for he "did what was evil in the sight of the Lord" and was judged for it.

Observe that in each case it is the decade number that varies. In Ahaziah's case it is forty-two as against twenty-two. In Jehoiachin's case it was eight as against eighteen. It is instructive to observe that the number notation used by the Jewish settlers in the Elephantine in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah (fortunately we have a large file of documents in papyrus from this source) consisted of horizontal hooks to represent decades. Thus eight would be /III IIII, but eighteen would be /III IIII [horizontal line hook above] Similarly twenty-two would be I with [two line hooks], but forty-two would be /I with [four line hooks. If, then, the manuscript being copied out was blurred or smudged, one or more of the decade notations could be missed by the copyist.

The same was probably the case with the date of Sennacherib's invasion of Judah in 701 B.C. This is stated in 2 Kings 18:13 to have occurred in the "fourteenth" year of Hezekiah, which implies that Hezekiah must have begun his reign in 715. Yet the other six references to Hezekiah's chronology in 2 Kings make it clear that he was crowned as assistant king in 728 and became sole king in 725. Since Sennacherib did not become king in Assyria until 705 and the invasion occurred in the fourth year of his reign, the 701 date for the invasion is absolutely certain. Therefore we are to understand the "fourteen" in 2 Kings 18:13 as a miscopying of an original "twenty-four." The difference in the Hebrew notation would have been as follows: fourteen, was /III with one line hook above, and twenty-four was /III with two lines and hooks. A blurred manuscript probably confused the scribe of Isaiah 36:1, who originated the error; and it may have been that the later scribe of 2 Kings 18 was so impressed by the number fourteen with which he was familiar in the Isaiah text that he decided to "correct" v. 13 to conform with it. At least that is the likeliest explanation I know of. (See also the discussion of Sennacherib's invasion in Hezekiah's fourteenth year at 2 Kings 18:13.)

How could God commission Jehu to destroy the house of Ahab (2 Kings 9:6-10; 10:30) and then later condemn him for the bloodshed (Hos. 1:4)?

There can be no question that Jehu fully carried out the commission he received from the Lord: "You shall strike the house of Ahab your master, that I may avenge the blood of My servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord, at the hand of Jezebel. For the whole house of Ahab shall perish" (2 Kings 9:7-8, NASB). After Jehu, racing back from Ramoth Gilead to Jezreel, shot King Jehoram dead, and Ahaziah of Judah as well (for he was the grandson of Jezebel), he then proceeded to the city of Samaria and intimidated the elders of that city into decapitating all seventy of Ahab's sons who were living in the palace (2 Kings 10:1-10). Not long after that he managed to lure all the Baal-worshiping leaders of Israel into the temple of Baal on the pretext of leading them in a great celebration of worship there. Once they were locked up inside the temple itself, he had them all massacred by his troops and destroyed the entire building, desecrating it in such a way that it could never be used for worship again (vv. 18-27).

It was after Jehu had carried out all these stern measures for the suppression of idolatry in Israel that the commendation came to him from the Lord: "Because you have done well in executing what is right in My eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in My heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel" (2 Kings 10:30, NASB). Jehu had served as God's executioner on behalf of the many hundreds of prophets of the Lord whom Jezebel and Ahab put to death (1 Kings 18:4,13), and he had taken the most thorough means of suppressing the soul-destroying curse of idolatry. Therefore he would be granted security on his throne, and his descendants after him unto "the fourth generation" (i.e., Jehoahaz 814-798, Jehoash 798-782, Jeroboam II 793-753, and Zech-ariah, who was assassinated within a few months of his accession in 752).

In the course of his own career, however, Jehu did not enjoy a great deal of success as a ruler or defender of his country. The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III of Assyria depicts Jehu "the son of Omri [sicl]" prostrate before the invader and paying him tribute as his vassal (cf. Pritchard, ANET, p. 281), in connection with an expedition against Benhadad of Damascus and the Phoenician cities of Byblos, Sidon, and Tyre. But 2 Kings 10:33 indicates that even before that invasion by Assyria (in the twenty-first year of Shalmaneser, which would have been about 832 B.C.), Jehu had lost all Transjordanian Manasseh, Gad, and Reuben (which later had for the most part been conquered by Moab under King Mesha) to King Hazael of Damascus. His son Jehoahaz (814-798) was reduced to complete vassalage by Hazael and his son Benhadad II (2 Kings 13:1-3). 

But Jehoash (798-782) was allowed by the Lord to expel the Syrians in three decisive engagements (v. 19) and also to crush the pretensions of King Amaziah of Judah in the Battle of Bethshemesh (14:13), with a resultant spoliation of Jerusalem itself. But it was Jehu's great-grandson Jeroboam II who achieved very great success on the battlefield, for he regained possession of the Transjordanian tribal territory and all the area formerly ruled over by Jeroboam I—just as the prophet Jonah had predicted (vv.25-27).

On what basis, then, did the prophet Hosea proclaim the judgment of the Lord on the dynasty of Jehu (Hos. 1:4-5)? It was because of the impure motive with which Jehu himself had carried out his commission from Yahweh to blot out the race of Ahab. Although Jehu had only done what God had commanded, he did so out of a carnal zeal that was tainted with protective self-interest. Second Kings 10:29 says of him: "However, as for the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, [by] which he made Israel sin, from these Jehu did not depart, even the golden calves that were at Bethel and ... Dan" (NASB). But v.31 goes on to say: "But Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, [by] which he made Israel sin" (NASB). 

This same mixture of motives showed up in Jehu's descendants as well, for Jehoahaz "did evil in the sight of the Lord,   and   followed   the   sins   of

Jeroboam So   the   anger   of  the Lord was kindled against Israel, and He gave them continually into the hand of Hazael king of Syria, and into the hand of Benhadad the son of Hazael. Then Jehoahaz entreated the favor of the Lord, and the Lord listened to him" (2 Kings 13:1-4; NASB).

Jehoash, Jehoahaz's son, did not do much better; for he too followed his father's evil example (2 Kings 13:11), even though he did retain a respectful relationship with the prophet Elisha (vv.14-19). And even though Jeroboam II enjoyed such remarkable success in war (14:25) and had a long reign of forty-one years (v.23)—i.e., from 793-782 as viceroy under his father, and 782-753 as sole king—yet his relationship toward the Lord was no better than his father's. "He did evil in the sight of the Lord; he did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, [with] which he made Israel sin" (v.24; NASB). The whole prophecy of Amos, especially Amos 2:6-16; 4:1; 5:5-13; 6:1-8, is a commentary on the corruption of government, society, and personal morality that prevailed in the Northern Kingdom during Jeroboam's reign. (Amos's ministry came "two years before the earthquake" [1:1], in the reign of Uzziah of Judah. This must have been some time between 760 and 755.)

The important principle set forth in Hosea 1:4 was that when blood is shed, even in the service of God and in obedience to His command, blood-guiltiness attaches to God's agent himself if his motive was tainted with carnal self-interest rather than by a sincere concern for the purity of the faith and the preservation of God's truth (such as, for example, animated Elijah when he had the 450 prophets of Baal put to death after the contest with them on Mount Carmel). The "bloodshed of Jezreel" was finally visited on the house of Jehu when his great-great-grandson Zechariah was murdered at his own birthday party by his trusted chariot captain Shallum (2 Kings 15:10).

Did Pekah really rule over Samaria for twenty years?

Second Kings 15:27 states that "Pekah son of Remaliah became king over Israel in Samaria—twenty years."

(NASB inserts "and reigned" in italics before "twenty years.") This raises an apparent difficulty because he did not establish his headquarters in Samaria itself until 739 B.C., when he assassinated King Pekahiah son of Menahem (15:25). Since he in turn was assassinated by Hoshea in 732, Pekah would appear to have reigned only eight years in Samaria rather than twenty.

To understand' the basis for the "twenty years," we must go back to the coup d'etat of 752, when Zechariah son of Jeroboam II was murdered by an army commander named Shallum. Shallum, however, lasted for only one month on the throne; for he was defeated by Menahem, who launched an invasion of Samaria from the city of Tirzah (2 Kings 15:8-16). Menahem succeeded in buying off the Assyrian invader Tiglath-pileser III, who came against Israel sometime after 745. After a large tribute was given to Assyria, Tiglath-pileser "confirmed" Menahem in office as his vassal-king (v. 19). Possibly he felt he needed Assyrian support because he was facing opposition within his own kingdom. And indeed he was, for Pekah son of Remaliah had apparently laid claim to the throne of Israel back in 752, the year of Zechariah's assassination; and he established his headquarters in Gilead, ruling over most of the East Bank territory of the Israelite kingdom. Apparently Pekah held out against Menahem until Menahem died in 742. Then he must have entered into a treaty of reconciliation with Menahem's son and successor, Pekahiah, according to the terms of which Pekah received a command in the army headquarters in Samaria. He then conspired with fifty of his trusted supporters from Gilead and murdered Pekahiah in his palace. Then, of course, Pekah had himself proclaimed king.

How then is the interval of "twenty years" to be justified? It was simply the official position of Pekah's government that after Zechariah (or Shallum) was murdered, Pekah became the only lawful king over Israel. To be sure, he was unable to dislodge Menahem from the West Bank; but still, as the only legitimate king of Israel (in his own opinion, at least), his right to Samaria as capital of the kingdom was ipso facto established. He finally took up official residence in Samaria (after the coup d'etat against Pekahiah) from 740 or 739, but his reign in Samaria was theoretically computed from 752, when he first asserted his right to the throne.

Are there not historical inaccuracies in Kings and Chronicles, such as "So, king of Egypt" and "Zerah the Ethiopian," of whom there is no record in secular sources (cf. 2 Kings 17; 2 Chron. 14)?

The plainest and shortest answer to this question is that there are no proven inaccuracies in any of the historical records in Scripture. The second observation to make is that if a historical statement in the Bible is factually true, it does not require any corroboration from secular sources to become true. This is a basic canon of logic. Undoubtedly there are multitudes of events that have taken place in earlier times that have never been recorded either in sacred or secular written sources. They nevertheless actually took place, even though they were not recorded. And if an event was recorded only in a nonscriptural document, it needs no attestation from Scripture to preserve it from being a non-event. And, of course, the reverse is true. An episode that actually took place became a fact of history whether or not it was recorded in an extrabiblical source.

The only way to justify skepticism of scriptural veracity when it records names or events not found in extant secular accounts is to establish that the Bible is demonstrably inferior to all other ancient sources in the matter of its trustworthiness. To assume that the failure up until now to find a mention of Zerah or So in any pagan document proves that they never existed is to fall into a blatant non sequitur quite unworthy of true scholarship. Those who follow such a criterion in their handling of scriptural testimony should be reminded that the number of such unverified names and events has been sharply reduced by the archaeological discoveries of the last 150 years. Back in 1850, for example, many learned scholars were confidently denying the historicity of the Hittites and the Horites of Sargon II of Assyria and Belshazzar of Chaldean Babylon, or even of Sodom and Gomorrah. Yet all of these have more recently become accepted by the scholarly world because of their appearance in ancient documents discovered within the last fifteen decades of archaeological investigation.

The skeptical approach toward the historical statements of Scripture has thus been proven to be completely unjustified. This furnishes strong evidence that the cynical suspicion toward the Bible's accuracy is basically unfounded and that a far sounder approach—considering the excellent record of Bible history in the light of archaeological discovery—would be to assume that any biblical notice is accurate and dependable until proven false. Up until now, so far as this writer is aware, there is no biblical record that has ever been proven false by any evidence exhumed by the excavator's spade.

It is not altogether certain that So (So'), the king mentioned in 2 Kings 17:4 as a potential ally of Hoshea of Samaria, during the final years of its existence in the 720s B.C., is the name of a king at all. The Hebrew text could be translated as follows: "He [i.e., 'Hoshea'] sent to Sais [the name of the Egyptian capital city at that time], the king of Egypt." During that time the king of Egypt was named Tefnakht (ca. 730-720) and he made his headquarters in Sais. (This is suggested by K.A. Kitchen in his article on "So" in J. D. Douglas, ed., New Bible Dictionary [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962], p. 1201.)

It is true that no mention of Zerah the Ethiopian (Heb., kusi) has yet turned up in any ancient text outside the Bible itself (2 Chron. 14:9-15). Apparently he was not a reigning monarch of Egypt during the time of King Asa of Judah (910-869), since none of the Egyptian rulers bore such a name during that period. K.A. Kitchen (The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt [Warminster: Aris & Phillips, 1973]) estimates the date of the Battle of Mareshah to be about 897 B.C., which would have been the twenty-eighth year of Pharaoh Osorkon I (who was of a Libyan dynasty rather than a Cushite). But Kitchen (ibid., p. 309) says: "By 897 B.C. Osorkon I was already an old man, and so he may well have sent a general of Nubian [or Cushite] extraction to lead a force into Palestine.... However, Zerah proved no match for the Judean king, and so we have no trace of a triumphal relief of Osorkon to adorn anew the temple walls of Egypt"—as Osorkon's father, Sheshonq (Shishak) had done back in die days of Rehoboam.

How could Sennacherib's invasion have occurred in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah?

Second Kings 18:13 in the Masoretic text states: "Now in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and seized them." Since Sennacherib's own record in the Taylor Prism establishes 701 B.C. as the date of that invasion, the fourteenth year of Hezekiah would mean that he did not ascend the throne until 715 B.C. Yet 2 Kings 18:1 (the very same chapter, be it noted) states that Hezekiah became king in the third year of Hoshea king of Israel—which comes out to 729 or 728. This would have been the year in which he was crowned as subordinate king, under his father Ahaz (who did not die until 725). The Masoretic text of 2 Kings 18:13 therefore stands in clear contradiction to 18:1,9, and 10, which confirm that Hezekiah's fourth year was Hoshea's seventh and that Hezekiah's sixth was Hoshea's ninth (i.e., 722 B.C.). We must therefore conclude that the Masoretic text has preserved an early textual error (which also appears in Isa. 36:1—where the error probably originated), in which a mistake was made in the decade column. The word "fourteen" was originally "twenty-four." (For further details, see the articles on 2 Kings 8:24 and on Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7. Compare also my Survey of Old Testament Introduction, pp. 291-92, and E. J. Young, Book of Isaiah: New International Commentary, 2 vols. [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969], 2:540-42.)

In 2 Kings 29:8-11 and Isaiah 38:8, how was it possible for the shadow on the stairway of Ahaz to retreat by ten steps?

Obviously this phenomenon, asked for by Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:10), prayed for by the prophet Isaiah (v. 11), and graciously granted by the Lord (Isa. 38:7-8) in answer to his prayer, was intended as a miraculous confirmation of God's promise to heal Hezekiah of his potentially fatal carbuncle or cancer after he had previously been warned that he had not long to live. Had it been some unusual occurrence that could be explained by the laws of astronomy or meteorology, it could hardly have served as a God-given sign of the imminent fulfillment of a difficult promise. Conceivably there might have been some extraordinary intervention of a cool, moisture-laden stratum in the sky that caused an unusual refraction of the sun's rays; but the precise timing of such a condition to coincide with Hezekiah's request and Isaiah's prayer would have itself constituted a miraculous event. 

Would it really have been difficult, however, for a God who had already created the entire universe of matter out of non-matter to do a thing like this simply by the word of His power? Obviously not!

How could the embassy from Merodach-baladan have come to Hezekiah after 701 B.C, if by that time Merodach-baladan had been expelled from Babylon (2 Kings 20:12-15)?

Merodach-baladan (or Marduk-apa-iddin, as it is spelled in cuneiform) was in secure control of Babylon from 721-710. If Hezekiah's illness occurred fifteen years before his death in 698 or 696 (as it is variously reckoned), then it must have occurred in 712 or 711 B.C. This coincides very well with a diplomatic approach on the part of the king of Babylon (who was technically a vassal of the king of Assyria) Sargon II (722-705), to organize an east-west entente cordiale against the Assyrian overlord. If we place Hezekiah's illness back in that period rather than after the Sennacherib invasion of 701, then the embassy from Babylon fits in very well with the chronology of Hezekiah.

But how can we date Hezekiah's illness before the Assyrian invasion of Judah in 701? Is it not narrated in Isaiah after the invasion is over? Does not the introductory phrase "In those days" (Isa. 38:1) refer to the episode just narrated in chapter 37, which tells how the angel of the Lord took the lives of 185,000 Assyrian troops in a single night, thus compelling the God-defying, blaspheming Sennacherib to retreat to Nineveh without capturing Jerusalem? 

Normally we would be justified in making this connection, but in this particular case we encounter the difficulty that the last episode referred to in 37:38 did not take place until 681. Therefore a strict construction of "In those days" in 38:1 would mean that Hezekiah did not become ill until 681, and that he must have had fifteen more years of life (v.5) after that. But all authorities, even Edwin Thiele (who mistakenly defers the accession of Hezekiah until 715 B.C. [cf. his A Chronology of the Hebrew Kings (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1977), p. 65]), accept the statement of 2 Kings 18:2 that Hezekiah reigned only twenty-nine years. No authority has ever suggested that he reigned any later than 686; yet fifteen years after 681 would come out to 666 or 665. Therefore "In those days" cannot be construed as referring to the event immediately preceding, namely, the murder of Sennacherib by his sons in 681.

We must understand "In those days" as an introductory formula for a new episode—e.g., "Now it came about in those days when Hezekiah was king that he became mortally ill." Similar uses of this formula may be found in Esther 1:2 (where it introduces the account of the king's feast without any tie-in with a preceding event), in Judges 17:6 ("In those days there was no king in Israel"), likewise Judges 18:1; 19:1. Compare also in the New Testament Matthew 3:1: "Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea." There is no clear connection with Matthew 2:22 (the verse immediately preceding), which probably refers to the return of the holy family from Egypt to Nazareth after the close of the reign of Herod Archelaus in A.D. 6—at which time John the Baptist would have been only eleven years old!

If, then, the formula "In those days" does not refer to the days following Sennacherib's departure from Palestine in 701, what are the indications as

to the time of his illness? As we have already suggested, the promise of fifteen more years points to a date of around 713 for his medical crisis. Since Hezekiah must have died sometime between 698 and 696 (his successor, Manasseh, was only twelve at the time of his accession, and he ruled until 642, as all authorities agree—after a reign of fifty-five years, according to 2 Kings 21:1), the choice must lie with 713 or 711 at the latest. Now Isaiah 39:1 informs us that Merodach-baladan sent his embassage to Hezekiah in order to congratulate him on his recovery from his nearly fatal illness. Since Merodach-baladan was expelled from Babylon by 710 and did not get back there, except very briefly in 704 or 703, the evidence points very strongly to a date of no later than 711 for the arrival of his envoys at Jerusalem—subsequent to Hezekiah's illness. This shows that the placement of Isaiah 38 after the narrative of Sennacherib's invasion in chapter 37 was due, not to chronological sequence, but to a shift of topic, which served some other purpose in Isaiah's mind than a sequential order of events. What could that purpose have been?

In order to clear up this question, we must observe the implications of the prediction uttered by Isaiah after he transmitted God's message to the king concerning his foolish pride in showing off his treasures to the Babylonian envoys. Isaiah 39:6 contains this ominous warning: "Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day shall be carried [off] to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the Lord" (NASB). In view of the contemporary situation, with Babylon a subject province under the Assyrian yoke, this was a very surprising prophecy indeed. Yet this was the judgment God had ordained for His backslidden nation, and He had revealed His plan to His prophet Isaiah.

It would be the Babylonians, specifically the Chaldeans in charge of Babylon, who would finally carry out the sentence of total depopulation and exile for the disobedient people of Judah. From this standpoint Isaiah 39 forms an appropriate introduction to chapter 40 and the subsequent chapters of Isaiah's prophecy, all of which were probably composed in the reign of Hezekiah's ungodly son, Manasseh. Chapter 40 presupposes the Babylonian captivity as a sure and settled prospect in store for Judah. The focus of attention is largely diverted from Assyria to the future crisis of Nebuchadnezzar's destruction of Jerusalem and deportation of the Jews, along with the promise of their ultimate restoration to their homeland after the Exile is over. Thus we see that the contents of chapter 39 make a most fitting introduction to chapter 40, since it explains the reason for the coming deportation to Babylon, the headquarters of Merodach-baladan.

How, when, and where did Jehoiakim die?

Second Kings 24:6 states, "So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers, and Jehoiachin his son became king in his place" (NASB). (This suggests that this wicked king enjoyed a normal burial and was buried in a royal tomb— although "slept with his fathers" might mean simply that he joined his forefathers in the realm of the dead—Sheol.)

Second Chronicles 36:5-8 reads: "Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem.... Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against him and bound him with bronze chains to take him to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar also brought some of the articles of the house of the Lord to Babylon and put them in his temple in Babylon.... And Jehoiachin his son became king in his place" (NASB). This could be construed to mean that Jehoiakim was taken off to Babylon as a prisoner and remained there the rest of his life—an event that would have to have occurred in 598 B.C. (since he ruled eleven years from 608 B.C.) Yet the text here does not actually say that he never returned from Babylon, as a chastened vassal of Nebuchadnezzar, having given him solemn promises of loyalty and assurances that he would never again team up with Pharaoh Necho and the Egyptians against the Chaldean overlord-ship. If it was the latter, then this event probably took place in 604 B.C, after Nebuchadnezzar had extended his rule over Syria, Phoenicia, Samaria, and Judah, taking with him an assortment of hostages, such as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

Just as Ashurbanipal of Assyria took King Manasseh from his kingdom and imprisoned him for a considerable length of time in Babylon (2 Chron. 33:11-12), until he became repentant for his previous unfaithfulness to God and was finally restored to his throne by the Assyrian king, so also Jehoiakim was probably restored to his throne in Jerusalem as a chastened vassal king under the Chaldean overlordship. The Chronicles passage does not describe his deportation to Babylon in terms clearly suggestive of the downfall of Jerusalem in 597, when the young son and successor Jehoiachin was thus deported, along with "all the captains and all the mighty men of valor, ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and the smiths. None remained except the poorest people of the land" (2 Kings 24:14, NASB). Moreover, on the occasion of that second deportation, Nebuchadnezzar did not remove just "some of the articles of the house of the Lord" (2 Chron. 36:7) but, rather, "all the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king's house" (2 Kings 24:13).

It therefore appears that the episode of 2 Chronicles 36:5-8 was not the same as that of 2 Kings 24:14. The former took place in 604, along with the captivity of Daniel and his friends; the latter took place in 597 and involved a different king (Jehoiachin), with a far larger amount of treasure and a huge number of captives. Thus the case for establishing a discrepancy completely fails; the data of the biblical text precludes identifying the two events as the one and same transaction.

But the manner and place of Jehoiakim's death were a bit more pathetic than the brief statement in 2 Kings 24:6 would indicate, for we read in Jeremiah 22:18-19: "Therefore thus says the Lord in regard to Jehoiakim the son of Josiah ... 'They will not lament for him:'... He will be buried with a donkey's burial, dragged off and thrown out beyond the gates of Jerusalem" (NASB). This predicts the shameful treatment meted out to Jehoiakim's corpse after he died (apparently around 7 December 598 B.C). Instead of a normal interment in a royal tomb—whether at the time of the funeral or sometime thereafter—that body was tossed into some open pit like that intended for a dead animal; and he was permanently interred outside the city walls by a citizenry that deeply resented his wicked and disastrous reign. His unhappy son, Jehoiachin, remained to face the full consequences of his father's oath breaking toward Nebuchadnezzar—as noted above.

What was the correct age for Jehoiachin when he came to the throne, eight or eighteen?

Second Kings 24:8 tells us that Jehoiachin "was eighteen years old when he became king." But the parallel passage in 2 Chronicles 36:9 states that he was "eight" years old when he began to reign. Obviously there has been a textual error committed by the copyist either in 2 Kings or in 2 Chronicles. This type of error occurs now and then because of blurring or surface damage in the earlier manuscript from which the copy is made. A numerical system generally in use during the fifth century (when Chronicles was probably composed—very likely under Ezra's supervision) features a horizontal stroke ending in a hook at its right end as the sign for "ten"; two of them would make the number "twenty." (See article on 2 Kings 8:26.) The digits under ten would be indicated by rows of little vertical strokes, generally in groups of three. Thus what was originally written as a horizontal hooked stroke over one or more of these groups of short vertical strokes (in this case, eight strokes) would appear as a mere "eight" instead of "eighteen."

The probabilities are that 2 Chronicles 36:9 is incorrect, both because the age of eight is unusually young to assume governmental leadership— though Joash ben Ahaziah was only seven when he began to reign (2 Kings 11:21) and Josiah was only eight (2 Kings 22:1)—and because the Chaldeans treated  him as a responsible adult and condemned him to permanent imprisonment in Babylon after he surrendered to them in 597 B.C. Moreover, it is far less likely that the copyist would have mistakenly seen an extra ten stroke that was not present in his original than that he would have failed to observe one that had been smudged out.

While it is true that Jehoiachin's father, Jehoiakim, must have been unusually young to have begotten him (sixteen or seventeen), nevertheless some of the Judean royalty seem to have married at an early age (in other words, if Jehoiakim was twenty-five at his accession in 608 [2 Kings 23:36], and if Jehoiachin was eighteen in 598 when his father died [2 Kings 24:8], then there must have been only a difference of seventeen or eighteen years between them). Note that Ahaz appears to have fathered Hezekiah at the age of thirteen or fourteen, judging from the fact that Ahaz was twenty on his vice-regency in 743 and that Hezekiah was twenty-five at his father's death in 725 (hardly at his first appointment as vice-regent in 728!) (cf. 2 Kings 16:2 [2 Chron. 28:1] and 2 Kings 18:2 [2 Chron. 29:1]).

1 Chronicles

Special note: For a general discussion of the discussion purposes of the author of 1 and 2 Chronicles consult the first discussion under Jonah, p. 300 concerning the alleged midrashic elements in Jonah.

Why are there so many genealogies in 1 and 2 Chronicles?

The Chronicles were apparently compiled by Ezra in the middle of the fifth century B.C., or at least by a contemporary of his. After the long ordeal of the Babylonian captivity, which lasted from 586 to 539, a group of Jewish colonists was led back by Zerubbabel and Jeshua to establish a new commonwealth of Israel in their ruined homeland. The Israelites had lost every material possession—every building, every home:—as a result of the Chaldean devastation. All that was left were the people, their memories, their traditions, and their Bible—and, of course, the God who had given it to them and who had kept His promise by restoring them to their land after the Exile was over. It was therefore of utmost importance to establish their lines of descent, from Abraham and the twelve sons of Jacob, and from the later ancestors to whom specific territories, cities, and towns had been assigned back in the days of Joshua.

There are many people today who will spare no effort to trace their ancestry back as far as they can. But in Israel's case there was the added factor that Yahweh Elohim had made a personal covenant with Abraham and his "seed," a series of gracious promises and special requirements for them to lead a godly life. Probably the great majority of the deported Israelites elected not to undertake the hardships involved in making the trek back to Jerusalem; the 42,000 freemen who made up the group of returnees could hardly have been more than 10 percent of those eligible to go back from Babylon, (cf. Isa. 6:13) It was very important to establish definitely which families were represented in the second commonwealth, for God's plan of redemption was bound up with them rather than with the 90 percent who preferred to stay in Exile.

This emphasis on genealogies continues even until New Testament times, for early in Matthew and Luke we find the lines of descent recorded for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ—the son of David, the son of Abraham, the son of Adam. Jesus' human ancestry was very important for His status as the Son of Man, the Messiah, the Savior of all true believers, both from Israel and from the Gentiles.

What was the genealogical relationship between Sheshbazzar, Shealtiel, and Zerubbabel?

First Chronicles 3:16-19 states: "And the sons of Jehoiakim were Jeconiah his son, Zedekiah his son [i.e., Jehoiakim's younger son—not to be confused with his uncle Zedekiah son of Josiah, who became the last king of Judah]. And the sons of Jeconiah [or Jehoiachin, cf. 2 Kings 24:8] the prisoner [reading 'ash rather than 'Assir, as the Masoretes have wrongly pointed it] were Shealtiel his son, and Malchiram, Pedaiah, Shenazzar [and three others]. And the sons of Pedaiah were Zerubbabel and Shimei. And the sons of Zerubbabel were Meshullam and Hananiah" (plus one daughter and five more sons, according to v.20).

This passage establishes that Zerubbabel, the governor of the province of Judah in Zechariah's time (Zech. 4:6-9), was the son of Pedaiah and, therefore, a nephew of Shealtiel (Pedaiah's older brother). But Ezra 3:2 refers to Zerubbabel as the "son" of Shealtiel; so Shealtiel apparently had adopted Zerubbabel after the premature death of his natural father, Pedaiah. (There is no reference to Pedaiah's early demise elsewhere, but this is the only reasonable explanation for Zerubbabel's being taken over by Shealtiel. Other references to Zerubbabel as "the son of Shealtiel" are Ezra 3:8; 5:2; Neh. 12:1; Haggai 1:1.)

As for Sheshbazzar, Ezra 1:8 states that Cyrus, king of Persia, had his treasurer, Mithredath, turn over the fifty-four hundred gold and silver vessels of the destroyed Jerusalem temple (seized by Nebuchadnezzar as booty back in 587) into the hands of "Sheshbazzar, the prince [nasi'] of Judah." Verse 11 states that these vessels were safely conveyed by Sheshbazzar to Jerusalem (in 537) as the returned Israelites began building their new colony there. Later on, Ezra 5:14 corroborates the fact that these temple vessels were given over by Cyrus (doubtless through his treasurer, Mithredath) "to one whose name was Sheshbazzar, whom he had appointed governor [pehah]."

There are two possible deductions to draw from the foregoing evidence:

"Sheshbazzar" is another name for Zerubbabel, or "Sheshbazzar" is another name for Shealtiel, the "father" of Zerubbabel. The former has some strong advocates, such as C.F. Keil (Keil and Delitzsch, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, p. 27), who suggests that "Sheshbazzar" was Zerubbabel's official court name (analogous to "Belteshazzar," the court name of Daniel [Dan. 1:7]). The difficulty with this theory is that "Sheshbazzar" (derived possibly from Shamash-mar-(u)sur, "Sun-god, protect the son!" which is what one would expect for an official court name) is no more clearly of Babylonian origin than "Zerubbabel" (Zeru-Babili, "Seed of Babylon"). This weakens the supposition that one is the given name and the other a Gentile name later imposed.

The latter view, that Sheshbazzar was the court name of Shealtiel, the (adoptive) father of Zerubbabel, has more to commend it; for Shealtiel is a genuine Hebrew name (meaning, "I asked God," or possibly, "My request is God"). It is not inconceivable, perhaps, that Zerubbabel or Sheshbazzar was the name originally given to the baby by the parents at circumcision, since they had become accustomed to such non-Hebraic names during the long captivity in Babylonia. But it seems far more likely that Shealtiel was a name bestowed originally by his Hebrew parents and that Sheshbazzar was the court name later assigned to him by the Babylonian government. This would mean, then, that the temple vessels were entrusted to Shealtiel-Sheshbazzar, the aged adoptive father (actually the uncle) of Zerubbabel, by the Persian authorities. It would have to follow that Shealtiel was originally given the status of pehah, or governor, of the new Jewish colony to be established in Judea, and that both he and his "son" Zerubbabel participated in the laying of the foundations of the second temple in 536.

It should, however, be carefully noted that Sheshbazzar is never mentioned again after the foundation ceremony itself (Ezra 5:16). This might indicate that soon after that event he passed away and left the mantle of authority with his "son," Zerubbabel, who from then on probably served as the pehdh (though this is nowhere expressly affirmed of him). Admittedly, this explanation is cumbered with attendant suppositions that are otherwise unsubstantiated; and it lacks the simplicity of the first view, that Sheshbazzar is another name for Zerubbabel (an interpretation strongly argued by Unger, Bible Dictionary, p. 1014). From the standpoint of sheer likelihood, the objection based on the Babylonian etymology of both names (Sheshbazzar and Zerubbabel) may not seem to loom as large as the necessity of imagining that Zerubbabel's father held the honor of senior governor and shared with him in the laying of the cornerstone of the temple, when there is no actual mention of two such leaders in connection with the foundation ceremony. If so, the fairest thing to say is that either explanation would solve the problem of the apparent discrepancy, but the available evidence does not point strongly to either of them in preference to the other.

Before leaving this topic, it ought to be added that if Sheshbazzar was the same person as Shealtiel, then we may suppose that there might have been a levirate marriage involved. That is to say, according to Deuteronomy 25:5, if a man died without having had a son by his wife, his surviving brother (or nearest male relative, if he had no brother) had the responsibility of taking the widow into his home and marrying her, so as "to raise up seed unto his brother." The first son born to them after this levirate marriage was to be accounted, not the son of the second man, but the son of the deceased man. If, then, Pedaiah died young without leaving issue, Shealtiel may have taken his widow over and thus became the biological father of her first-born child, Zerubbabel. But legally he would be accounted the son of Pedaiah, just as 1 Chronicles 3:19 attests. And yet, since he was actually begotten by Shealtiel and raised up by him in his home, he would also (unofficially) be known as the son of Shealtiel.

There remains just one more difficulty to deal with in this connection. Luke's genealogy of Jesus (3:27-28) lists the following links in the series: A ddi -Melchi - Neri - Salathiel - Zarobabel - Resa-loanan, et al. Since Salathiel is the Greek form of Shealtiel, and Zorobabel is obviously Zerubabbel, the question arises as to whether there is any relationship here between Shealtiel and Zerubbabel (descendants of King Josiah of the Davidic dynasty) and those two who are descended from Melchi and Neri in the Lucan genealogy. The answer must be in the negative; for not only are the names of Neri and his forbears impossible to be fitted into the Davidic line, but their time locus is definitely wrong. In Matthew's genealogy of Christ, Salathiel and Zorobabel are generations fifteen and sixteen after David, whereas in the Lucan series Salathiel and Zorobabel are twenty-one and twenty-two after David. Even though some links are occasionally omitted in the Matthew list (such as Ahaziah-Joash-Amaziah between Joram and Uzziah), the discrepancy of five generations is hardly overcome.

How then are we to account for the sequence Shealtiel and Zerubbabel in the line descended from Jeconiah (Matt. 1:12) and the sequence Shealtiel and Zerubbabel in the branch of David's family that descended through Nathan (Luke 3:27-31) to Neri? It is, to be sure, quite unusual for the same father-to-son pair to occur in two different family lines; yet there is an interesting analogy to be found back in the time of Ahab and Jehoshaphat. Both kings, during a time of cordial relations between the governments of Judah and Israel, named their two sons Jehoram and Ahaziah (2 Kings 1:17 and 8:16; 1 Kings 2:51; 2 Kings 1:1; 8:25). Thus it is quite conceivable that a descendant of King David named Shealtiel living in the post-Exilic period (i.e., Shealtiel son of Neri) might have decided to name his own son Zerubbabel, in honor of the well-known pair who led the remnant back to Jerusalem at the close of the Exile. In the previous millennium, the Twelfth Dynasty and the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt had a series of Amenemhat-Senwosret kings and Amenhotep-Thutmose kings, respectively. And so there are both precedents and analogies for the recurrence of father-son pairs, so far as names are concerned.

How could a good God, a God of peace, condone warfare (1 Chron. 5:22), give instructions as to how war should be fought (Deut. 20), and be acclaimed by His people as "the Lord is a warrior" (Exod. 15:3)? 

The key element in 1 Chronicles 5:22 (which tells of the tribal conquests of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh over the pagan races of Transjordan) is: "For many fell slain, because the war was of God."

Underlying this question are certain assumptions that require careful examination as to their soundness. Is it really a manifestation of goodness to furnish no opposition to evil? Can we say that a truly good surgeon should do nothing to cut away cancerous tissue from his patient and simply allow him to go on suffering until finally he dies? Can we praise a police force that stands idly by and offers no slightest resistance to the armed robber, the rapist, the arsonist, or any other criminal who preys on society? How could God be called "good" if He forbade His people to protect their wives from ravishment and strangulation by drunken marauders, or to resist invaders who have come to pick up their children and dash out their brains against the wall?

No policy would give freer rein to wickedness and crime than a complete surrender of the right of self-defense on the part of the law-abiding members of society. No more effective way of promoting the cause of Satan and the powers of hell could be devised than depriving law-abiding citizens of all right of self-defense. It is hard to imagine how any deity could be thought "good" who would ordain such a policy of supine surrender to evil as that advocated by pacifism. All possibility of an ordered society would be removed on the abolition of any sort of police force. No nation could retain its liberty or preserve the lives of its citizens if it were prevented from maintaining any sort of army for its defense. It is therefore incumbent on a "good God" to include the right of self-defense as the prerogative of His people. He would not be good at all if He were to turn the world over to the horrors of unbridled cruelty perpetrated by violent and bloody criminals or the unchecked aggression of invading armies.

Not only is a proper and responsible policy of self-defense taught by Scripture from Genesis to Revelation, but there were occasions when God even commissioned His people to carry out judgment on corrupt and degenerate heathen nations and the complete extermination of cities like Jericho (cf. the article on "Was Joshua justified in exterminating the population of Jericho?" in connection with Joshua 6:21). The rules of war laid down in Deuteronomy 20 represented a control of justice, fairness, and kindness in the use of the sword, and as such they truly did reflect the goodness of God. Special hardship conditions were defined as a ground for excusing individual soldiers from military duty until those conditions were cleared up (Deut. 20:5-7). Even those who had no such excuse but were simply afraid and reluctant to fight were likewise allowed to go home (v.8). 

Unlike the heathen armies, who might attack a city without giving it an opportunity to surrender on terms (cf. 1 Sam 11:2-3; 30:1-2), the armies of Israel were required to grant a city an opportunity to surrender without bloodshed and enter into vassalage to the Hebrews before proceeding to a full-scale siege and destruction. Even then, the women and children were to be spared from death and were to be cared for by their captors (Deut. 20:14). 

Only in the case of the degenerate and depraved inhabitants of the Promised Land of Canaan itself was there to be total destruction; a failure to carry this out would certainly result in the undermining of the moral and spiritual standards of Israelite society, according to vv. 16-18. (This corrupting influence was later apparent in the period of the Judges (Judg. 2:2-3,11-15].)



In the New Testament itself, the calling of a soldier is considered an honorable one, if carried on in a responsible and lawful fashion (Matt. 8:5; Luke 3:14; Acts 10:1-6,34-35). Paul even uses the analogy of faithful service in the army as a model for Christian commitment (2 Tim. 2:4), without the slightest suggestion of reproach for military service. 


In a similar vein is the description in Ephesians 6:11-17 of the spiritual armor to be put on by the Christian warrior in the service of his Lord. There does not appear to be any basis in Scripture, either in the Old Testament or the New, for the concept of a "good" God who enjoins pacifism on His followers. (For a more extensive discussion of the Bible evidence on this point, see G. L. Archer, "Does Pacifism Have a Scriptural Basis?" The Evangelical Beacon [December 28, 1971]: 4-6.)





First Chronicles 6:16ff says that Samuel's father was a Levite, but 1 Samuel 1:1 says that he was an Ephraimite. Which is correct?

First Chronicles 6:16,22-28 says that Elkanah the father of Samuel (to be distinguished from Elkanah the son of Assir, who was five generations before him) was descended from Kohath the son of Levi, just as Moses and Aaron were. For this reason Samuel was accepted as a lad by the high priest Eli (1 Sam. 1:24,28; 2:11) to be an apprentice under him. When Samuel reached adulthood, he functioned as a priest and held sacrifices in the leading centers of Israel—which he could not have done had he not been of the priestly tribe.

So far as 1 Samuel 1:1 is concerned, this simply states that Elkanah was "from" (min) Ramathaim-zophim on Mount Ephraim. All Levites were assigned to certain "Levitical cities" or towns throughout the Twelve Tribes, according to the regulation laid down in Numbers 35:6. We do not have a list of these forty-eight towns, but quite possibly Ramathaim-zophim was one of them. By ancestry, then, Elkanah was a Levite; by location he was an Ephraimite. Hence there is no contradiction whatever between these two passages.

In 1 Chronicles 21 David is said to have yielded to Satan's temptation to number Israel. As a result of this God destroyed seventy thousand people through pestilence. Was it just of God to punish the people for David's sin? 

From the human standpoint, it would certainly seem far more ideal for the evil consequences of sin to be limited to the wrongdoer alone. But because of the interrelated involvements of family and society, no such limitation is possible. There is a sense in which the millions who perished during the Nazi era suffered death because of one man, Adolf Hitler. In David's case, of course, there was no malicious or cruel intent behind his stubborn purpose to have a census taken of all the citizens in his kingdom. His motive was more likely to have been a self-congratulatory pride in his achievements as a military genius and in the prosperity that the entire kingdom had attained under his leadership.

It is a mistake, however, to assume that David's countrymen were not also involved in this same attitude of pride. Second Samuel 24:1 tells us, "Now again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and it incited David against them to say, 'Go, number Israel and Judah.'" (NASB). It may very well have been that the advisability of conducting a census had been suggested by David's advisers, both on the grounds of military expediency and for the sake of a more accurate basis for taxation. There must have been a high level of nationalistic pride that tended to minimize God's sovereign grace and power rather than to acknowledge Him as the author of all their astonishing victories on the battlefield and the extension of their hegemony from the borders of Egypt to the banks of the Euphrates and the northernmost reaches of Syria. As a nation they must have been ripe for a judgment of warning, or else it would never have been said that the "anger of the Lord burned against Israel."

From 1 Chronicles 21:1 we are apprised of how Satan capitalized on this situation: "Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel." As is his custom, when Satan found the situation ripe for exploitation, he moved in to encourage the desire on David's part and in the hearts of his leaders to carry through this egotistical undertaking, even though General Joab strongly advised against it (cf. v.3). It should not be a matter of surprise, therefore, that the totalling up of all the manpower of the Twelve Tribes at the height of their power constrained God to remind them that it was not by their great numbers they would prevail but only by His great grace.


Why does Chronicles consistently give a higher numerical figure than Samuel or Kings, wherever there is a discrepancy?

Some eighteen or twenty examples may be found of discrepancy in numbers between Chronicles and Samuel-Kings in reporting the same transaction. This has been interpreted by some critics as evidence of a consistent policy to glorify the past as the Chronicler resorts to deliberate exaggerations. It should be pointed out, however, that in the vast number of instances Chronicles does agree perfectly with Samuel and Kings in the matter of numbers and statistics; and so the alleged desire to embellish the record and exaggerate the glory of the past must have been a very modest one on the Chronicler's part.

A careful examination of the eighteen or twenty examples of true discrepancy (for most of the apparent discrepancies turn out to be referring to a different group of people or things not occurring at precisely the same time or belonging to exactly the same category) yields the interesting result that fully a third of them display a smaller number in Chronicles than in   Samuel-Kings.   For  example,   see Chronicles 11:11 as compared with Samuel 23:8; 1 Chronicles 21:3b as compared with 2 Samuel 24:9b; 2 Chronicles 3:16b as compared with Kings 7:20b (cf. v.42); 2 Chronicles 8:10 as compared with 1 Kings9:23; Chronicles 36:9 as compared with 2 Kings 24:8. A good example of a more modest (and credible) figure is 2 Chronicles 9:25, which gives four thousand as the number of stalls Solomon built for his cavalry, whereas 1 Kings 4:26 puts the figure at forty thousand. Or again, 1 Chronicles 11:11 gives the number of enemies slain by Jashobeam in a single battle as reaching three hundred; 2 Samuel 23:8 gives it as eight hundred— according to the Masoretic text.

One interesting example of a suspiciously high figure appears in 1 Samuel 6:19 (unfortunately there is no parallel in Chronicles). The number of persons slain by a divine plague at Bethshemesh, where the inhabitants had opened up the sacred ark of the covenant and looked inside it, is reported as 50,070—a figure probably exceeding the total population of Bethshemesh (though we cannot be sure of that).

In explanation of these transmissional errors (as we believe them to be), let it be understood that numerals and proper names are always more liable to copyist errors than almost any other type of subject matter (especially when we are dealing with non-Hebraic foreign names). Almost all suspiciously high numbers are round numbers expressed in thousands. In the later stage of transmission particularly (but prior to the imposing of a system of spelling out in full, as prescribed by the guild of so-ffrim, or professional scribes), alphabetic letters were often used. Thousands were indicated by sup-ralinear dots appearing over the digit letter. (Thus an aleph with two dots over it indicated one thousand.) As a manuscript became worn, brittle, or moth-eaten, it would be difficult to tell whether the multiplying dots were over the letter or not. But even the earlier types of notation, such as that employed in the fifth-century B.C. Elephantine Papyri, were also subject to garbling in the attempt to copy from a faded or smudged document. 

In line with the Egyptian hieratic style, the Jewish authors would use superimposed horizontal fish hooks in order to indicate decades. A serious consequence of this may be instanced in the case of 2 Kings 18:13, where an original "twenty-four" was copied out as "fourteen," apparently because the upper fishhook was smudged in the manuscript copied from. (This case is discussed in a separate article. Compare also the discussion of Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7 in regard to the numbers who returned from Babylon.)

To revert to the original question about the Chronicler who has been unjustly accused of propagandist tendencies, the elimination of seven instances described above (which actually show smaller statistics than Samuel-Kings) leaves us only a dozen well-accredited numerical discrepancies in which Chronicles shows a higher number. Considering the large amount of text involved, it is almost incredible that so few numerical discrepancies do occur, out of hundreds of instances where numbers are cited by both sources. 

In other cases the unit of measurement reflects a later, lighter standard of weight than that specified in the earlier source. See, for example, the discussion of 1 Chronicles 22:14 and the halving of the weight of the shekel by the fifth century B.C.

(For a more thorough discussion of the numbers included in the text of Chronicles, see J. B. Payne, "The Validity of Numbers in Chronicles," Bulletin of the Near East Archeological Society, n.s. 11 [1978]: 5-58.)

How could David say in 1 Chronicles 22:14 that he had provided for 100,000 talents of gold for the future temple and then say in 1 Chronicles 29:4 that he had donated only 3000 talents?

The answer to this is very simple. In 1 Chronicles 22 David makes his principal donation to the work of building and equipping the future temple of

Yahweh so that Solomon will have everything needful when he sets about its construction. But in 1 Chronicles 29 David holds another building fund rally in which he appeals to his well-to-do supporters to make a supplemental donation beyond that which they have already given in chapter 22. The language of 29:3-4 is quite explicit on this: "And moreover, in my delight in the house of my God, the treasure I have of gold and silver, I give to the house of my God, over and above all that I have already provided [i.e., the 100,000 talents of 22:14—concerning which consult the article following] for the holy temple, namely, 3000 talents of gold,... and 7000 talents of refined silver, to overlay the walls of the buildings" (NASB). 

In other words, he sees a need for a supplemental contribution even beyond the large sum he had already devoted to the project. The nobles and wealthy businessmen followed their king's example and gave an additional 5000 talents, plus 10,000 darics, of gold— along with 10,000 talents of silver, 18,000 talents of brass, and 100,000 talents of iron. There is no contradiction whatsoever between these two chapters; 29 records a later donation supplemental to that of 22.

First Chronicles 22:14 lists "100,000 talents of gold" as donated by David to the future temple in Jerusalem. Is this a credible figure, or is it a transmissional error?

Both in the Masoretic text and in the Septuagint this remarkably large figure of "100,000 talents of gold and 1,000,000 talents of silver" is given. Such a sum as this might have been beyond the resources of the Caesars themselves. It would be quite possible to commit an error in textual transmission in the act of copying out large numbers of this sort. We have a probable example of this as we compare 2 Chronicles   9:25   (which   gives   four thousand as the number of stalls built for Solomon's chariot horses) and 1 Kings 4:26 (which gives the figure as forty thousand). The latter citation has undoubtedly undergone multiplication by ten because of an obscurity in or misunderstanding of the Vorlage. It may be that here also, in 1 Chronicles 22:14, there has been the error of one decimal point. Perhaps the original figure was "10,000 talents of gold"; perhaps the silver total of 1,000,000 was miscopied from an original 100,000. Another possibility would be the misinterpreting of an abbreviation for "manehs" as "kikkars" (there were sixty manehs or minas to the kikkar or talent).

At the same time it should be observed that the Masoretic text figure cannot be excluded from the realm of possibility. Keil (Keil and Delitzsch, Chronicles, pp. 246ff.) makes the following points:

The ordinary civil or "royal" shekel seems to have been only one-half the Mosaic "shekel of the sanctuary." This appears from a comparison of 1 Kings 10:17 ("300 shields of beaten gold, using three minas [150 shekels] of gold on each large shield") and 2 Chronicles 9:16 ("300 shields of beaten gold, using three hundred shekels of gold on each shield"). (Three hundred shekels would equal six minas; hence the figure in 1 Kings involves a shekel twice as heavy as that of 2 Chronicles.) This means that the 100,000 talents referred to in Chronicles would be equal to only 50,000 talents back in the earlier period. The Chronicles talent would weigh about thirty-seven and a half pounds rather than the seventy-five pounds of the Solomonic age.

Keil also points out that Alexander the Great is reported to have plundered the Persian royal treasury of 40,000 to 50,000 talents of gold and silver bullion, plus 9000 talents in coined gold (i.e., darks). In Persepolis alone he captured 120,000 talents, in Parsagada 6000 more, and in Ecbatana 180,000 talents. There may be some overlap in these figures, but if they are added end to end, they total about 355,000 talents of gold and silver. 3. David is recorded as conquering the Edomites, Philistines, Moab-ites, Ammonites, and the Sykrian kingdoms of Damascus, Hamath, and Zobah—and the Amalekites as well. These defeated nations are listed in 2 Samuel 8:7-13, and there it is stated that all their treasures taken as spoil were dedicated by David to the Lord.

Over the forty years of David's reign, these must have accumulated to a very large total—especially since David did rather little in the way of expensive public works. Moreover his friendly political relations with the prosperous merchant cities of Tyre and Sidon must have resulted in considerable revenue from commerce. Thus a total accumulation of "100,000 talents of gold" (i.e., 50,000 talents by the earlier standard) and "1,000,000 talents of silver" (equaling 500,000) can hardly be shown to be so far beyond his capacity to donate to the erection of the future temple, on which he had set his heart.