Saturday, April 10, 2010

I'm Not A Scholar But...

It seems as if someone hopes to challenge the faith and belief system of the Christian life.  My good friend in Oklahoma, the secular humanist, has taken two verses from the Old Testament that (at first glance) seem to be contradictory.  He has asked for an explanation.

There are those who point out apparent contradictions in the Bible in order to prove that it cannot be trusted for 100% accuracy. The sad thing is that many, if not most, of these people are professing Christians. It is true that our English translations may contain translation errors because the translators were not perfect, but the original manuscripts do not contain errors or contradictions.

So, if doubt is the point of this apparent contradiction, then let's put it to rest.  Again, I must say, those who are hoping to cast aspersion on Christianity will not be persuaded by logic and reasoning.  It is a thing of the heart, something that is on the other side of the spectrum of unbelief.  So, I must conclude, even if I give a plausible and clearly defined answer to a supposed contradiction, I am almost sure that anyone opposed to my faith will not be convinced.  But, it's good for me to be challenged and to present an answer.

So, let's take a look at an apparent contradiction in the King James translation of the Bible.  To do that, let us take a quick glace at the Hebrew words used in the verses from Kings and Chronicles.  (By the way, I did take Hebrew in seminary, but I still do not qualify as an expert or scholar!)

Sometimes a contradiction doesn't exist in the original manuscripts but it shows up in our English translations. How many stalls did Solomon have for his horses? 4,000 or 40,000?:

"And Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen; whom he bestowed in the chariot cities, and with the king at Jerusalem." (2 Chronicles 9:25)

"And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen." (1 Kings 4:26)

This is possibly the most commonly mentioned supposed contradiction in the entire Bible. If we check the Hebrew text we discover that the numbers 4,000 and 40,000 were accurately translated, so how do we reconcile this? As it turns out, the word "stalls" in these verses is not the same Hebrew word. However, they are extremely similar to each other.

The word on the left is the Hebrew word translated "stalls" in 2 Chronicles 9:25 and the word on the right is the one translated "stalls" in 1 Kings 4:26. They are very similar, but not the same. The Hebrew word on the left has the letter "yod" in it.  It is absent from the word on the right.  This is critical to note.  The difference here is as subtle as the English difference between "stable" and "stall." They both are used in relation to the housing of horses, but a stall can be a portion of a stable.

In other words, a stable can have many stalls and I believe that is how we are to understand the difference in these verses. The Hebrew word on the left is similar to our Englih word "stable" and therefore Solomon's stables each had 10 stalls; or perhaps he had 4,000 stables, each with varying number of stalls that added up to 40,000 stalls in total.

Therefore, there is no contradiction at all in the verses cited above.  (Just for the record, I looked this up and found most of the information on and went to my Hebrew just to make sure.)

I can believe this so easily.  To me, what would be very hard for an unbeliever to grasp is the life, miracles, preaching, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus who we know from history lived on this earth a little over 2,000 years ago.  I believe that readily as it has transformed my life.  I can personally testify to it.  No one can deny or challenge that.  It is a truth within me.  I believe.

What would stop you from believing?

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