DO 1 KINGS 9:28 AND 2 CHRONICLES 8:18 CONTRADICT?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Concentrate on these two verses:
- 1 Kings 9:28: “And they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold, four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to king Solomon.”
- 2 Chronicles 8:18: “And Huram sent him by the hands of his servants ships, and servants that had knowledge of the sea; and they went with the servants of Solomon to Ophir, and took thence four hundred and fifty talents of gold, and brought them to king Solomon.”
Kings has 420 talents of gold, yet Chronicles reports 450 talents. Have the critics, at last, found a mistake in God’s Holy Word? Let us consult “Christian scholarship.” Perhaps these “Bible experts” can resolve the matter for us.
HOW “BIBLE SCHOLARS” “HELP”
In one popular study Bible, this footnote appears at 2 Chronicles 8:18: “The difference between 450 talents here and 420 in 1 Kings is likely a copyist’s error” (bold emphasis mine). Another bestselling study Bible has this editors’ comment: “First Kings 9:28 reports 420 talents, probably accounted for by a scribal error in transmission” (bold emphasis mine).
Who wrote the above remarks? Atheists? No! Agnostics? No! Other non-Christians? No! With great trembling, we reveal the answer: they are “Bible-believing (?) church leaders!” As we can see, dear readers, scholarship can be quite the enemy of the truth. People trained in seminary (Bible cemetery!) have been instructed (brainwashed) not to believe the Scriptures… and they pass their nagging doubts on to us the commoners in the pew! After all, the transmission—yea, rather, the recovery or reconstruction of God’s “lost” words—depends on their advanced degrees. Although the Holy Spirit allowed an “error” to creep in through a copyist, they can be trusted to sit in judgment of the Scriptures and do what the Holy Spirit failed to do (give us the “real,” “original” Bible text). Extending their logic, what other numbers in the Scriptures could be “errors?” How could we trust anything in the Bible then?
Suppose some poor (!) Christian soul was dealing with Bible critics concerning 1 Kings 9:28 and 2 Chronicles 8:18. They badger him, “The Bible has errors!” He appeals to his “handy” study Bible for enlightenment. Horrors! He quickly shuts the cover, for the critics might use his Bible’s footnotes against him—if they have not already done so (having read it in their own “study” Bible earlier). (He needs to be sure to thank the “Christian” scholars who helped them… uh, I mean… helped him!) At this point, to say the Christian is embarrassed is the understatement of the century! He just might henceforth commence a lifelong crusade, speaking at colleges and churches around the world about how the Bible cannot be trusted. Countless souls are enticed, just as ready to rebel against the Lord, and off they go in the world launching their warped movements.
Dear friends, here is the pathetic state of affairs among God’s people. While the Church the Body of Christ has been in the world fighting abortion, pornography, drugs and alcohol, and homosexuality, it has overlooked a far graver sin. The Devil has been working within the leadership ranks of “Christianity” for many centuries, apostates and heretics causing millions upon millions to doubt the Bible… spiritually-perverted people WITHIN the church teaching lies as opposed to WITHOUT it! It is one thing to tell someone to disbelieve and discard the Bible (here is the position of atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, et cetera). However, it is infinitesimally more serious to encourage someone to keep and correct the Bible (here is the “scholarly” opinion). The first position is at least consistent; the second is far subtler and actually hypocritical.
Let it be clearly understood: perhaps, next time, we had better not be so eager to appeal to “Bible scholars” when we should be listening to the Holy Spirit!
HOW GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT HELPS
Read 1 Kings 9:28 in context: “ And king Solomon made a navy of ships in Eziongeber, which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red sea, in the land of Edom.  And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon.  And they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold, four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to king Solomon.”
Now, 2 Chronicles 8:18 in context: “ Then went Solomon to Eziongeber, and to Eloth, at the sea side in the land of Edom.  And Huram sent him by the hands of his servants ships, and servants that had knowledge of the sea; and they went with the servants of Solomon to Ophir, and took thence four hundred and fifty talents of gold, and brought them to king Solomon.”
Both King Solomon and King Hiram/Huram are engaged in international trade. Of particular note is the gold of Ophir, which Solomon’s servants brought back to their king. The precise location of Ophir is unknown, but it may have been in southern Arabia, eastern Africa, the Persian Gulf, or India. As we have stated before, so we say again. In Kings, the amount of gold given to Solomon is 420 talents, but Chronicles has the total as 450 talents. Why are these values different?
Here are some facts from the Bible (if we care to see them, if we want to submit to God’s authoritative words, if we desire to “believe” the Scriptures as we claim we do!):
- Solomon has a “navy” or fleet of ships (1 Kings 9:26); Huram has “ships” (2 Chronicles 8:18). Is it possible there are at least four ships under consideration? Actually, there might have been 10, 20, or 30 ships—that point is irrelevant! Whatever the case, could 420 talents of gold have been on one of those ships, and 450 talents of gold been on another of those ships? Again, are we not dealing with more than one ship?! (Why have the scholars not given the Scriptures the benefit of the doubt? Should we trust the Scriptures [faith], or the “scholars” [doubt]?)
- We do not need to be mathematical geniuses to see “450” contains “420.” Perhaps 420 talents were on one ship, and 30 talents were on another ship, bringing the sum up to 450 talents. (Why have the scholars not given the Scriptures the benefit of the doubt? Should we trust the Scriptures [faith], or the “scholars” [doubt]?)
- According to 1 Kings 11:42 and 2 Chronicles 9:30, Solomon reigned a total of 40 years. As a dear brother in Christ (a Bible believer) once asked, was Ophir so far away Solomon managed to receive only one shipment of gold during those four decades—and that single delivery had to be either 420 or 450?! (Why have the scholars not given the Scriptures the benefit of the doubt? Should we trust the Scriptures [faith], or the “scholars” [doubt]?)
- Excluding these passages, there are many variations between Kings and Chronicles, even large sections of text unique to each. Should we relegate these dozens upon dozens of disparate portions to the dreaded status of “scribal errors” too?! Again, where do we stop with the doubts?! (We do not!)
We have just provided a few simple explanations to account for the difference between 1 Kings 9:28 and 2 Chronicles 8:18. It does take some mental effort, as can be observed. Nevertheless, the easier approach is to follow the “scholars” in their unbelief and dismiss the whole matter as a “scribal error.” Friends, here are our two choices—doubt or faith. May we choose the right (not left) one. (If you want an advanced, really “eye-opening” example of doubting scholarship, see our Mark 16:9-20 study linked at the end of this article.)
To put the values of the gold of Ophir into a modern perspective, the 420 talents (1 Kings 9:28) equates to approximately 16 tons (14.5 metric tons) and the 450 talents (2 Chronicles 8:18) is roughly 17 tons (15.4 metric tons). Each weight involves well in excess of (United States) $800 million! By the way, a “talent” was the standard measurement of gold weight in those days, for it was the maximum load a man could carry (2 Kings 5:23).
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