Fatal Numerical Discrepancies in the Bible

Most of the people who contact me for the purpose of arguing for the bible take the position that the bible is without errors of any kind. Not one error, they insist. They claim that the bible is the Word of God in its totality, and that the writers of the bible were guided by the Holy Spirit. They contend that every one of the errors and contradictions that I and others have exposed can be simply explained by looking at the problems from within the 'totality' of the biblical message.

Well, this is just nonsense, and anyone who thinks that the bible does not contain a single mistake is an idiot, whether it's Joe Blow or Jerry Fallwell, John Doe or Pat Robertson.

Christians attempt to argue against some of the errors, to some degree or another. And not all of these errors are minor (such as little contradiction in the Gospels as to whether Jesus' robe was red or purple). Some problems are major, such as what are the requirements for salvation. With many of these contradictions, Christian spin-doctors can create circumstances which seem to explain the problem, but that only works for people who are easily convinced and want to believe.

But numbers are hard to argue with.

In the second chapter of the book of Ezra is given a long list of the Israelites who returned from Babylon to Jerusalem. The list begins with the following words:

"Now these are the children of the province that went up out of the captivity, of those which had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away unto Babylon, and came again unto Jerusalem and Judah, every one unto his city."

In the seventh chapter of Nehemiah there is a copy of the very same list. Nehemiah seems to have simply copied Ezra. He begins with basically the same words, starting at verse six:

"And I found a register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first, and found written therein, Now these are the children of the province that went up out of the captivity, of those which had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away unto Babylon, and came again unto Jerusalem and Judah, every one unto his city."

It's exactly the same list. No one can argue that this was some other list. In each account, there follows a list of families that came out of Babylon, with the number of persons belonging to them. But in transcribing them, Nehemiah made many errors, which are highlighted in red.

Family Name
Book of Ezra's total
Book of Nehemiah's total
Parosh 2,172


Shephatiah 372 372
Arah 775 652
Pahath-Moab, etc. 2,812 2,818
Elam 1,254 1,254
Zattu 945 845
Zaccai 760 760
Bani 642 648
Bebai 623 628
Azgad 1,222 2,322
Adonikam 666 667
Bigvai 2,056 2,067
Adin 454 655
Ater 98 98
Bezai 323 324
Jorah (Hariph) 112 112
Hashum 223 328
Gibbar (Gideon) 95 95
Beth-lehem and Netophah 179 188
Anathoth 128 128
Azmaveth 42 42
Kirjath-arim, etc. 743 743
Ramah and Gabah 621 621
Michmas 122 122
Bethel and Ai 223 123
Nebo 52 52
Magbish 156 not listed
Elam 1,254 1,254
Harim 320 320
Lod, Hadid, and Ono 725 721
Jericho 345 345
Senaah 3,630 3,930
Jedaiah 973 973
Immer 1,052 1,052
Pashur 1,247 1,247
Harim 1,017 1,017
Jeshua, etc. 74 74
Asaph 128 148
Shallum, etc. 139 138
The Nethinim, etc. 392 392
Delaiah, etc. 652 642
Servants 7,337 7,337
Singers 200 245

There are 20 errors in the list, out of 43 numerical statements. That is a bad example of "perfection". And this only one example.

Ezra and Nehemiah agree on the number of domestic animals there were, but they disagree in the oblations. Ezra says they gave 61,000 drams of gold, 5,000 pounds of silver, and 100 priests garments. But Nehemiah says that they gave 41,000 drams of gold, 4,200 pounds of silver, and 597 priests garments. These are a lot of errors.

Yet people say there is not one error in the bible.

They may try to blame it on copyists or translators, but that is still an error. If God is going to go through the trouble of providing His Infallible Word to Humankind, and have them write it down, He would not then let it be corrupted by bungling fools for translators, and thereby producing a flawed work.

Numerical errors abound in the bible. Here are just a few more to make the point.

When did Ahaziah son of Jehoram begin his reign in Judah?
"In the eleventh year of Joram the son of Ahab began Ahaziah to reign over Judah." 2Ki 9:29
"In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel did Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah began to reign." 2Ki 8:25

How old was Jehoiachin when he began to reign?
"Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign." 2Ch 36:9
"Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign." 2Ki 24:8

How long did Jotham reign in Jerusalem?
Sixteen years. 2Ki 15:33
At least twenty years. 2Ki 15:30

How old was Ahaziah when he began to reign?
Twenty two years old. 2Ki 8:26
Forty two years old. 2Ch 22:2

How long did Omri reign?
From the 31st to the 38th year of Asa's reign, Omri is said to have reigned twelve years. An impossibility. 1Ki 16:23,28-29

How much gold was brought to Solomon from Ophir?
420 talents of gold. 1Ki 9:28
450 talents of gold. 2Ch 8:18

How many stalls did Solomon have for his horses?
4,000 stalls. 2Ch 9:25
40,000 stalls. 1Ki 4:26

How long did Gad tell David he was to suffer famine?
Three years. 1Ch 21:11-12
Seven years. 2Sa 24:13

How many horsemen did David take with him from Hadadezer?
700 horsemen. 2Sa 8:4
7,000 horsemen. 1Ch 18:4

According to Genesis, Noah was 500 years old when he begat Shem (5:32). Noah was 600 years old when the Flood waters were on the earth (7:6). Shem was 100 years old when he begat Arphaxad, two years after the Flood (11:10). This is a mistake. If Shem begat Arphaxad two years after the Flood, then he should have been 102 years old.

According to the information supplied in Genesis chapters 5 through 9, Methuselah, who lived for an unbelievable 969 years, must have lived through the Flood. But there is no mention of him on the Ark. With the years supplied by the bible, if Methuselah died at the outset of the Flood, he would have only lived to 968 years. (According to the Septuagint, the Flood occurred 14 years before the death of Methuselah.

The author of Matthew recounts all the generations from Abraham to Jesus. He concludes that there are 41 generations, including Abraham and Jesus. Then, he goes on to say that there are 14 generations from Abraham to David, 14 generations from David until the "carrying away into Babylon", and then 14 generations from there to Christ. This is in Matthew 1:17. Three times fourteen is not forty-one. God needs a calculator?

There are many, many more of these numerical errors. But if this amount doesn't convince someone, no amount will.

What am I trying to convince them of? That the authors of the bible wrote at different times, in different places, and had no "divine guidance" to aid them. They were ordinary, fallible, uninspired men wrote the books of the bible. Their errors prove this.