Monday, October 12, 2015

Searched and Known # 1: How many men did the chief of David’s captains kill in one day (800 or 300)? Reconciling 2 Samuel 23:8 and 1 Chronicles 11:11


CRBC member Ethan McG., fresh out of college, fresh back from short term mission service in Japan, and fresh into a new tech job with a local company has started a new podcast he has titled "Searched and Known" (a quote from chapter one in the Second London Baptist Confession 1689).  He wants the focus of the podcast to be on apologetics, with each episode aimed at giving an answer to an apparent contradiction within or an objection to particular Biblical passages.

My family had supper with his family one evening last week, and after supper we sat down for a few minutes to record a conversation on 2 Samuel 23:8 and 1 Chronicles 11:11 where the issue is whether David's captain slew 800 men (2 Samuel 23:8) or 300 men (1 Chronicles 11:11).

I have uploaded SK # 1 to CRBC's sermonaudio site.  You can find it here.  Hope to add other episodes in the future.

Here also are some notes I used for the conversation:

I.  The Problem:

How do we reconcile the following two accounts?:

A.  2 Samuel 23:8:

KJV 2 Samuel 23:8 These be the names of the mighty men whom David had: The Tachmonite that sat in the seat, chief among the captains; the same was Adino the Eznite: he lift up his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time.

NIV 2 Samuel 23:8 These are the names of David's mighty men: Josheb-Basshebeth, a Tahkemonite, was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter.

NAS 2 Samuel 23:8 These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-basshebeth a Tahchemonite, chief of the captains, he was called Adino the Eznite, because of eight hundred slain by him at one time;

NKJV 2 Samuel 23:8 These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-Basshebeth the Tachmonite, chief among the captains. He was called Adino the Eznite, because he had killed eight hundred men at one time.

B.  1 Chronicles 11:11:

KJV 1 Chronicles 11:11 And this is the number of the mighty men whom David had; Jashobeam, an Hachmonite, the chief of the captains: he lifted up his spear against three hundred slain by him at one time.

NIV 1 Chronicles 11:11 this is the list of David's mighty men: Jashobeam, a Hacmonite, was chief of the officers; he raised his spear against three hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter.

NAS 1 Chronicles 11:11 And these constitute the list of the mighty men whom David had: Jashobeam, the son of a Hachmonite, the chief of the thirty; he lifted up his spear against three hundred whom he killed at one time.

NKJV 1 Chronicles 11:11 And this is the number of the mighty men whom David had: Jashobeam the son of a Hachmonite, chief of the captains; he had lifted up his spear against three hundred, killed by him at one time.

II.  Wrong-headed analysis:

A.  Skeptic:  This is a simple, irreconcilable, and inexplicable “error” that undermines the authority and integrity of Scripture.

For skeptics the purpose of pointing out such passages does not come from real interest in understanding this passage but in gaining a foothold for rejecting the teaching of the Bible altogether (existence of God, the moral law, the claims of Christ, etc.).

B.  Liberal/Mainline Evangelical:  Capitulation to modern critical skepticism.

Example:

MacArthur’s Study Bible note on 2 Samuel 23:8 on the “800”:  “Probably a textual error.  1 Chronicles 11:11 has “three hundred”, the likely number (p. 463).

III.  Faithful analysis (harmonization):

Note:

1.  Those who faithfully collected the OT books were not fools.  They would have been aware of this difference but saw no appalling contradiction in incorporating both.

2.  Reasonable explanations can be found.  See the comments of Matthew Poole at 1 Samuel 23:8:  “Object. But this man is said to have slain only three hundred in 1 Chron xi.11…..”  He offers three alternatives:

a.  Refers to two different battles.

b.  He slew 300 personally and 500 more via his men, for a total of 800.


c.  Refers to two different men:  father and son.

2 comments:

Mad Jack said...

I have two thoughts here. My first thought is that this refers to two different battles. Since the Scripture is divinely inspired, there can be no contradiction or mistake; ergo, there's an explanation for the difference, and the most likely is that two different battles are being referenced.

My second thought is that spending a long time debating this and other similar points with someone who wants to cast doubt on the Bible as a whole tends to stray away from the main point, that Christ is doing the time for all the crimes I committed or will ever commit. He offers this free of charge, and all I or anyone else need do is accept it. Good stuff, isn't it.

This is a nice analysis, and I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for the post.

Pastor Jeff said...

MJ,

Thanks for reading and glad you liked the post. Don't know if you listened to the podcast.

I agree that such arguments are unlikely, in and of themselves, to convince or convert a sinner. As Paul said in 2 Cor 2:14 the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God. They are foolishness to him. At the least I hope it might make the listener think more deeply about such things. You may know there is a divide between evidentialist apologetics (attempting to evangelize by showing evidences) and presuppositional apologetics (if you are not saved, you will not get it and I can't prove it to you, till you hear the gospel, repent, and believe). I think Ethan is interested in doing this podcast and tackling these topics in the spirit of 1 Peter 3:15, attempting to give an answer to every man who asks. If it does not convince the sinner, it might edify the saint.

JTR