Article: 700, 1700 or 7000 Horsemen? by Will Kinney

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2 Samuel 8:4 -- 700 horsemen


1 Chronicles 18:4 -- 7000 horsemen?

This apparent contradiction is frequently brought up by atheists and Bible doubters.

I will present five possible explanations. Sadly, one of the frequently offered explanations by "Christians" is the first one mentioned wherein they believe there was a scribal error in the Hebrew manuscripts. This "defence" is offered by a group calling itself The Christian Think Tank.


First the written objection and then the "answer". This particular Christian group is following the NASB reading. All the Christian sites I visited which are new version proponents agree there is a scribal error.


2 Samuel 8:4 and 1 Chronicles 18:4: Samuel says that David captured 1,700 horsemen and Chronicles says he captured 7,000 in the exact same battle. 1,700 does not equal 7,000 no matter what you do so one or the other must be in error. Again, you can claim copyist error but it is yet another error in our current version of scripture.

The "Christian" answer:

"Yes, it is an 'error' in ONE of the MSS families--the Masoretic Text...Other families such as 2 Samuel in the LXX and (most probably) in the Dead Sea Scroll version of this reflect identical wording in the two is simply a text-critical decision that someone made that created a conflict (in this case). Again, we have mss. data that resolves the issue plausibly."

This, my friends, is the typical "Christian" answer. "The Hebrew text is wrong, but it is all straightened out in the LXX." Well, not even the NASB, ESV or Holman Standard got it right according to this guy, did they? This 'Think Tank' merely tanked; there was not much thinking involved.

First of all, the Greek Septuagint (LXX) reads differently than do the NASB, RSV, Holman Standard and the ESV. In 2 Samuel 8:4 the Greek Septuagint reads: "And David took A THOUSAND of his chariots, and 7000 HORSEMEN, and 20,000 footmen." This is similar to the reading found in the NIV, but not in the NASB, ESV, or Holman Standard. The NIV says: a THOUSAND of his chariots, 7000 CHARIOTEERS (not "horsemen"), and 20,000 footmen". The NIV reads the same in both 2 Samuel 8:4 and in 1 Chronicles 18:4.

On the other hand, the NASB, RSV, ESV and Holman Standard all read: "1,700 horsemen, and 20,000 foot soldiers" in 2 Samuel 8:4 but they have "1000 CHARIOTS and 7000 horsemen, and 20,000 foot soldiers" in 1 Chronicles 18:4, thus creating an apparent contradiction, and differing from the NIV.

Lamsa's 1933 translation of the Syriac Peshitta version is different still. In 2 Samuel 8:4 it says David took from him ONE THOUSAND AND SEVEN HUNDRED (1,700) CHARIOTS and 20,000 footmen." BUT in 1 Chronicles 18:4 it says David took from him A THOUSAND (1,000) chariots, and 7,000 horsemen", AND omits all reference to the 20,000 footmen. The Syriac differs in the two accounts in both the number of chariots and the number of horsemen, and whether there were 20,000 footmen or not.

What we see then is that the NIV chose to basically follow the Greek Septuagint, while the NASB, RSV, ESV and Holman Standard chose to follow ONE OF the Syriac readings.

The King James Bible reads in 2 Samuel 8:4 "And David took from him a thousand chariots, and 700 horsemen, and 20,000 footmen." Other Bible versions that agree with the KJB are the NKJV, Webster's 1833 translation, the Third Millenium Bible and the KJV 21st Century Version.

Even the modern paraphrase called The Message (2002) agrees with the KJB saying: "He captured from him a thousand chariots, seven thousand cavalry, and twenty thousand infantry. He hamstrung all the chariot horses, but saved back a hundred. "

1 Chronicles 18:4 says: "And David took from him a thousand chariots, and 7,000 horsemen, and 20,000 footmen."

The NIV and NASB don't even agree with each other and both disagree with the King James Bible. In 1 Samuel 8:4 the KJB says 1,000 chariots and 700 horsemen and 20,000 footmen; the NASB, ESV, and Holman say David captured from him 1,700 horsemen and 20,000 footmen, while the NIV says David took 1,000 of his chariots, 7,000 charioteers and 20,000 foot soldiers.

The NASB, ESV, Holman while omitting any reference to the chariots here in 2 Samuel 8:4, are in conflict with themselves when the parallel passage of 1 Chronicles 18:4 is compared. There the NASB, ESV, Holman also read as does the KJB with 1,000 chariots, 7,000 horsemen and 20,000 footmen.

The NIV reading in 2 Samuel 8:4 of 1,000 chariots, 7,000 (not 700) horsemen comes from the Greek Septuagint. They tell you this in the NIV footnote.

Here are some different explanations given by men who did not try to change the KJB reading.


Adam Clarke makes no attempt to change the King James reading but merely states: "A thousand chariots - It is strange that there were a thousand chariots, and only seven hundred horsemen taken, and twenty thousand foot. But as the discomfiture appears complete, we may suppose that the chariots, being less manageable, might be more easily taken, while the horsemen might, in general, make their escape. The infantry also seem to have been surrounded, when twenty thousand of them were taken prisoners."

John Gill comments: "And David took from him a thousand [chariots], and seven hundred horsemen…"Chariots" are not in the text here... but it is supplied from (1 Chronicles 18:4) ; where the word is expressly mentioned...which may be reconciled by observing, with Kimchi and Abarbinel, that here the chief officers are meant, there all the chariots and horsemen that were under their command are mentioned, which together made up that large number; or else here are meant the ranks and companies of horses David took, which were seven hundred; and these having ten in a company or rank, made seven thousand; and there the complement of soldiers in those companies and ranks are intended."

David Guzik's Commentaries on the Bible agrees with the King James reading and makes no attempt to change it, saying: "David took from him one thousand chariots, seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand foot soldiers. Also David hamstrung all the chariot horses, except that he spared enough of them for one hundred chariots."

Matthew Henry likewise agrees with the King James reading and comments: "The horsemen are here said to be 700, but 1 Chronicles 18:4 they are said to be 7000. If they divided their horse by ten in a company, as it is probable they did, the captains and companies were 700, but the horsemen were 7000."

John Wesley also agrees with the KJB reading - "Seven hundred - Or, seven hundred companies of horsemen, that is, in all seven thousand; as it is 1 Chronicles 18:4, there being ten in each company, and each ten having a ruler or captain."


Dr. Peter Ruckman says on page 178 of his book Problem Texts that most of today's "scholars" say the number of 700 in I Samuel 8:4 is a scribal error. Then he asks if it never occurred to these men that professional soldiers might not be as stupid as Bible scholars.

He continues: "Why wouldn't a war chariot have spare horses? What if both of them (or four to six in a harness) were killed? What do you do, silly, leave the chariot lying there in the mud? Obviously, the Syrians have ten horsemen per chariot. Observe exactly the same thing comparing 2 Samuel 10:18 and 1 Chron. 19:18; ten men per chariot.

2 Samuel 10:18 says "the Syrians fled before Israel; and David slew the MEN OF 700 chariots of the Syrians, and forty thousand horsemen." Then in 1 Chronicles 19:18 we read: "But the Syrians fled before Israel; and David slew of the Syrians 7000 men WHICH FOUGHT IN chariots, and forty thousand footmen."


An explanation offered by Gerardus D. Bouw in The Book of Bible Problems. He says on page 84: "Apparently the 6,300 were captured as a group while the remaining 700 were captured at a different time. In support of this theory he notes the differences in the language used in the two sections.

In 2 Samuel 8:3 it says David smote Hadadezer as he went TO RECOVER his border at the river Euphrates, while in 1 Chronicles 18:3 it says David smote Hadarezer as he went TO STABLISH his dominion by the river Euphrates.

So, in effect he is suggesting that Hadarezar initially went to stabilize his control over the Euphrates and David took his troops of 700 horsemen. Then Hadarezar sent another 6300 to recover his previous dominion and then these too were taken by David, thus making a total of 7,000.


Here is another possible explanation for the apparent contradiction. It seems more likely there was only one battle that took place between king David and Hadadezer the king of Zobah. In one account we are told David took 700 horsemen while in the other the number is 7000 horsemen.

I believe an important part of the equation is that some footmen were also horsemen; they could either fight on horse or on foot since they were specifically trained for both methods of combat. Those footmen who were also horsemen could then replace the number of fallen horsemen in the midst of battle. We see this double role in another passage. In 2 Samuel 10:18 we are told of 40,000 HORSEMEN of the Syrian army who were slain by king David and his men; but in 1 Chronicles 19:18 this same number is listed as 40,000 FOOTMEN. These particular soldiers could fight either on foot or on horseback.

When we compare 2 Samuel 8:4 - the 700 horsemen taken with the number of 7000 horsemen taken in battle in 1 Chronicles 18:4, the difference can be attributed to how each writer is considering the men in question. The additional 6, 300 men were trained as both horsemen and footsoldiers. As "horsemen" reserves they could be included with the 700 and so would be combined as a total of 7000, but as footsoldiers they would be counted among the 20,000.

So how many "horsemen" were slain? Seven hundred - but also an additional 6,300 who were trained both as horsemen and footmen. The two different writers are giving two different views of the same events.


The following is an excellent defense and likely explanation of this apparent contradiction. It was sent to me by brother Meng Kwang Han who lives in Singapore and is a King James Bible believer there.

There is an apparent contradiction between 2 Samuel 8:4 where it is stated that “seven hundred horsemen” were captured and 1 Chronicles 18:4 where “seven thousand horsemen” were captured.

Brother Meng Kwang Han writes: "Here I categorically reject any attempts to reconcile this by saying that there are copying errors in the Masoretic text. Admitting that would be tantamount to saying we have no preserved Word of God left in whatever languages, particularly Hebrew, none whatsoever. When met with such numerically problematic passages, we ought not to be dogmatic and insist that there are errors in the copied manuscripts. Rather we should plead our incompetence in understanding the words of the most High. The Word of God, every jot & every tittle of it has been preserved intact. Hence we can safely trust that God has indeed perfectly preserved His Word, according to His promises. There is no problem with the manuscript nor is there any copying error, nor is there any translation error. We emphasized again that the problem lies with incompetent men handling the Word of God.

The solution to this apparent contradiction lies in 2 very insignificant words “unto Hamath” in 1 Chronicles 18:4. (In this presentation, no attempt will be made to explain where Hamath is, as it is not deemed necessary) In short, the account in 2 Samuel was probably a distinctly important battle while the account in 1 Chronicles was a summary of the long-drawn battle that took place between David and Hadadezer (Hadarezer). Note also the difference in the words used to describe the 2 accounts. In 2 Samuel, the battle that took place between David and Hadadezer (Hadarezer) was “as he went to recover his border at the river Euphrates” and that in 1 Chronicles was “as he went to stablish his dominion by the river Euphrates.”

The battle in 2 Samuel was significant as it meant a strategic victory for David in capturing 700 horsemen from Hadadezer (Hadarezer). The place of the battle is not mentioned. However, we know from military conquests that there will always be pockets of resistance left that needs military mopping up. As horsemen are more mobile, it might have taken a longer period of time to quell all the resistance in the border of the Euphrates. However in the subsequent battles that ensued, the remaining 6300 horsemen were captured, bringing the total amount to 7000 only when David’s forces have reached unto Hamath. Or perhaps Hadadezer (Hadarezer) might have sent another reinforcement of 6300 horsemen which were also subsequently subdued. We do not know but any of the above are possible scenarios that God has chosen not to reveal.

Is there any basis for what I am proposing. I believe there is. In the recent US campaign in Afghanistan, US troops literally bombed the hill areas for weeks before sending in ground troops. However it took the US many days before the Taleban & the Al-Queda pockets of resistance could be completely quelled. With modern day sophisticated weaponry, the US campaign took months to complete. It is no wonder that in David’s day, it was similar, if not an even longer drawn out battle.

Is there is a Biblical basis to support this theory? I believe there is, right here in the 2 passages of the Word of God. In 2 Samuel 8:1, it is said that “David took Methegammah out of the hand of the Philistines”. But did David only take Methegammah from the Philistines? No. We know from 1 Chronicles 18 that “David smote the Philistines, and subdued them, and took Gath and her towns out of the hand of the Philistines.” On top of Methegammah, he took Gath and other towns. In other words, it is most probable that in 2 Samuel 8:1, the account was for a specific battle where an important town Methegammah was taken and the strength of the Philistines was significantly reduced, while the account in 1 Chronicles was more of a summary where in the “other towns” taken Methegammah is also included." - Brother Meng Kwang Han

Any one of the last five explanations could be the correct one or perhaps there is another God has not yet been pleased to reveal to us. But there is no reason to doubt the accuracy of the King James Bible. We can have all confidence that it is indeed the true and perfect word of the living God.

Will Kinney

1 Kings 20:38 Ashes upon his face

In 1 Kings 20:38 we read in the King James Holy Bible: "So the prophet departed, and waited for the king by the way, and disguised himself with ASHES UPON HIS FACE."

The NKJV along with the NASB, Holman Standard, RSV, NRSV, ESV says: "Then the prophet departed and waited by the road, and disguised himself with A BANDAGE OVER HIS EYES."

The NIV has: "He disguised himself with HIS HEADBAND DOWN OVER HIS EYES."

The New Century Version says "The prophet WRAPPED HIS FACE IN A CLOTH."

Rotherham's 1902 Emphasized Bible has: "disguised himself with HIS TURBAN OVER HIS EYES."

Darby's translation says: "disguised himself with A SASH OVER HIS EYES."

The Douay-Rheims has: "disguised himself by SPRINKLING DUST ON HIS FACE AND HIS EYES."

The word for "ashes" is number 666 aphehr and is found only two times in the Hebrew texts. The other time is in verse 41 where it says "he hasted, and took the ASHES away from his face; and the king of Israel discerned him that he was of the prophets."

According to Wigram's Hebrew Concordance and Strong's, this word # 666 comes from # 665 ehpher meaning "ashes" and is used in such places as Genesis 18:27 where Abraham says: "Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ASHES" and where Job says in Job 42:6 "Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ASHES."

Not only does the King James Bible tell us that the prophet disguised himself with ASHES upon his face, but so also do the following Bible versions: Wycliffe 1395 " he chaungide his mouth and iyen, by sprynging of dust", Tyndale 1530, Coverdale 1535, Bishops' Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1599, Young's translation, the 1936 Jewish translation by the Hebrew Publishing Company, New York, Webster's 1833 translation, Lamsa's 1933 translation of the Syriac Peshitta, the KJV 21st Century Version, Green's Literal translation 1976-2000, the Amplified Version, and the Third Millenium Bible 1998. Luther's 1545 German bible also reads "with ashes on his face".

If the prophet had a "bandage or headband over his eyes" it would have been impossible for him to have seen anything at all. He would have been totally blindfolded. It's not a very effective way of carrying on a conversation with anybody else, is it.

If a Bible critic comes along who says the King James Bible is in error for telling us the prophet disguised himself "with ashes upon his face", he then places his own mere opinion against many other men just as learned and knowledgeable, if not much more so, as he is, who disagree with him and affirm the Authorized rendering to be correct.

Commentators as well as the multitude of Bible versions all offer different and conflicting opinions. What one affirms another categorically denies. The thing to remember is that no Bible commentator, no modern Bible translator, and no self-appointed King James Bible critic believes that any Bible on this earth is the complete, inerrant, inspired words of God. Every man does that which is right in his own eyes.

I and thousands of other Bible believers will continue to maintain that God has given us His perfect and preserved words of truth, and that for the last 400 years they have been found in the King James Holy Bible.

Will Kinney

1 Kings 22:38 -

“Washed the armour” or “while the harlots bathed”? - More New KJV nonsense.

In 1 Kings 22:38 we read of the death of wicked king Ahab. "So the king died, and was brought to Samaria: and they buried the king in Samaria. And one washed the chariot in the pool of Samaria; and the dogs licked up his blood; AND THEY WASHED THE ARMOUR; according to the word of the LORD which he spake."

"And they washed the armour" is the reading of the King James Bible, Wycliffe 1395, the Bishops’ Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1599, Las Sagradas Escrituras 1569, the Spanish Reina Valera 1909 and the 2004 Reina Valera Gomez bible all read just like the King James Bible with - “Y lavaron el carro en el estanque de Samaria; LAVARON TAMBIEN SUS ARMAS; y los perros lamieron su sangre, conforme á la palabra de Jehová que había hablado.”

Also agreeing with the King James Bible are the Italian Diodati 1649 and the New Diodati 1991 - “Lavarono poi il carro E LE ARMI a una piscina in Samaria e i cani leccarono il suo sangue”, the French Martin 1755 - “et les chiens léchèrent son sang, et aussi quand on LAVA SES ARMES, selon là parole que l'Eternel avait prononcée”, the French Ostervald 1996, Lamsa's translation of the Syriac, Young's, Webster's 1833, the 1936 Hebrew Publishing Company translation, the Douay-Rheims translation, the 1950 Douay (though the most recent Catholic versions read like the NKJV, NIV), the Modern Greek version, Green's interlinear and Green’s ‘literal’ translation 2000, the KJV 21 1994 and the Third Millenium Bible 1998.

The most recent Hebrew translation I am aware of is the Judaica Press Tanach, and the Jewish scholars behind this translation also agree with the sense of the King James Bible saying: “And he washed the chariot at the pool of Samaria, and the dogs licked his blood, AND THEY WASHED THE WEAPONS THERE as according to the word of the Lord which He had spoken.”

However the NKJV says: "the dogs licked up his blood WHILE THE HARLOTS BATHED." Then in a footnote tells us "Syriac and Targum read 'they washed his armor'."

This footnote implies that the Hebrew text could not possibly read as does the KJB and others, but that the KJB translators got their "erroneous reading" from some other source than the Hebrew. Do you see the subtilty of the attack on God's infallible word?



The RSV, NRSV, the new ESV 2001, and the Holman Standard 2003 go even further than the NKJV, NASB, NIV in that they tend to follow most of the LXX reading with: “the dogs licked up his blood, and THE PROSTITUTES WASHED THEMSELVES IN IT.”

I do not trust any scholar or commentator but rather the living God who promised to preserve His pure words till heaven and earth pass away. I believe He did this in English only in the Holy Bible, also referred to as the Authorized King James Bible.

If you get ten scholars in a room you will come up with 15 different opinions. Notice what John Gill says regarding this verse.

John Gill’s commentary. "And one washed the chariot in the pool of Samaria,.... and the dogs licked up his blood; mixed with the water of the pool; the Septuagint adds, "the swine," which is not probable, such creatures not being bred in the land of Israel: and they washed his armour; his coat of mail, through the joints of which the blood issued, and ran upon it. The word is sometimes used for whores, and is so translated here in the Greek version, and by Munster and Castalio; and so Josephus writes, that afterwards it was a custom for whores to wash in this pool; though some say two whores were painted on Ahab's chariot, by the order of Jezebel, to inflame his lust, and these were what were washed; BUT THE WORD SIGNIFIES ARMOUR, or ornaments, clothes, jewels."

Here you see the conflicting suppositions of the "scholars", yet in this instance John Gill sides with the KJB reading though he "corrects" many other places in the KJB, according to his own understanding.

Matthew Henry expounds the verse as it stands in the KJB with no corrections to the text. Matthew Henry- . "The royal corpse is brought to Samaria and buried there (v. 37), and hither are brought the bloody chariot and bloody armour in which he died, v. 38."

If you think the scholars have the final authority you are mistaken. God promised to preserve His words somewhere on this earth. They are either in the King James Bible which has been used by God far more extensively and far longer than any other, or they are lost forever.

The New KJV is just another poor imitation. For a series of articles on the NKJV see:

All of grace,

Will Kinney

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