2 Samuel 24:13 So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall SEVEN years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days' pestilence in thy land?
1 Chronicles 21:11-12 So Gad came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Choose thee either THREE years' famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee;or else three days the sword of the Lord, even the pestilence, in the land...
There are many atheistic, Islamic and Bible Debunker sites on the internet which contain longs lists of supposed contradictions in the Bible.
On one Islamic site listing "101 Clear Contradictions in the Bible" this is number four.
God sent his prophet to threaten David with how many years of famine?
(a) Seven (2 Samuel 24:13).
(b) Three (1 Chronicles 21:12).
Those Christians who continue to use the modern versions like the NASB, NIV, and NKJV will typically answer these objections in this way which is taken directly from the Apologetics Index.
"It is probably a copyist error and the better preserved text renders the famine as three years -- Walvoord, John F., and Zuck, Roy B., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Scripture Press Publications, Inc.) 1983, 1985."
Another modern version site by the name of Tecktonic.org Apologetics Ministries has this to say: "Were there seven years of famine offered, or three (per 1 Chronicles 21:11)? Three is the more likely reading, favored by the LXX and by symmetry with the other punishments offered (three months of flight from enemies, three days of plague). Samuel was hit by a copyist error. See our foundational essay on copyist errors for general background. "
So, Samuel was hit by a copyist error, was he? Where was God during this whole process?
Another site that calls itself Rational Christianity - Christian Apologetics, which uses the NKJV has this to say: "This is a copyist error Presumably the correct number is three, since the other choices are threes.
Bible corrector Adam Clark confidently (and mistakenly) affirms: �Shall seven years of famine - In 1 Chronicles 21:12, the number is three, not seven; and here the Septuagint has three, the same as in Chronicles: this is no doubt the true reading.�
John Gill at least offers a reasonable explanation. He writes: �in (1 Chronicles 21:12) , only "three years" are mentioned, and so the Septuagint version here; but Josephus , the Targum, the Syriac and Arabic versions, have the number "seven"... for the reconciling of which let it be observed, that there had been three years of famine already on account of the sin of Saul, (2 Samuel 21:1) ; and in the current year, through the rains not falling in the proper time, the land was barren and unfruitful.. and the sense is, shall there be a continuance of seven years of famine, that is, three more added to what had been?�
Jamieson, Fausset and Brown likewise see the simple truth when they comment: �Shall seven years of famine come unto thee--that is, in addition to the three that had been already, with the current year included (see on 1Ch 21:11).�
In 2 Samuel 24: 13 the prophet Gad comes to David and says: "Shall SEVEN years of famine come unto thee in thy land?"
SEVEN years is the reading of the Hebrew text here as the NIV, RSV, NRSV, and ESV footnotes tell us. The reading of THREE YEARS comes from the Greek Septuagint version, but not the Hebrew.
The false reading in 2 Samuel 24:13 of THREE years is found in the NIV, RSV, NRSV, ESV, NEB, Bible in Basic English, The Message, the Holman Standard, the 1989 Revised English Bible, the New Living Translation and the latest Catholic versions like the St. Joseph New American Bible 1970, the Jerusalem bible 1968 and the New Jerusalem bible 1985. However the older Catholic bibles like the Douay-Rheims and the 1950 Douay had the correct Hebrew reading of "SEVEN years".
Those versions that agree with the KJB and the Hebrew reading of SEVEN years are: Wycliffe 1395, Coverdale 1535, the Bishops' Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1599, the Revised Version of 1881, the 1901 ASV, the Jewish translations of 1917, 1936, the Complete Jewish Bible, the Hebrew Names Version, even Daniel Wallace's NET version, the Spanish Reina Valera 1909, 1960, 1995, the Italian Diodati 1649, Riveduta 1927, the New Diodati 1991, the French Martin 1744, Louis Segond 1910, Ostervald 1996, the Portuguese Almeida, and O Livro 2000, Martin Luther's German Bible 1545, Rotherham's Emphasized bible 1902, Lamsa's 1936 translation of the Syriac, the Modern Greek version (not to be confused with the so called LXX), the NASB, Douay, Young's, the New Berkeley Version 1969, the NKJV 1982, the New Life Bible, and even the Living Bible and the Amplified bible.
This is really a very simple "contradiction" to solve if one just believes God's word as found in the King James Bible and takes the time to read it carefully.
Only in the book of 2 Samuel are we told in chapter 21:1 "Then there was a famine in the days of David THREE years, year after year; and David enquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites."
David then, as requested by the Gibeonites, had seven men of the sons of Saul put to death by hanging in "the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of the barley harvest." This couldn't have been much of a harvest because the famine was still in the land. They would then have to wait till next year for a good crop.
Next we read of king David telling Joab to go and number the people of Israel. This census taking seems to have been a vain attempt by David to boast in the power of the flesh. See how stong I am and how many people I command. This was the sin that brought about the threatened judgment of more famine by God.
It is important to see that this numbering of the people took a period of 9 months and 20 days as is noted in 2 Samuel 24:8. "So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days."
So, what we have here is four years of famine that had already preceeded the time when Gad comes to David and says in 2 Samuel 24:13 "Shall SEVEN years of famine come unto thee in the land?"
But when we look at 1 Chronicles, there is no mention of the famine that had already been going on before David numbered the people. There in 1 Chronicles we read: "Thus saith the LORD, Choose thee either THREE years' famine: or three months to be destroyed before thy foes...or else three days the sword of LORD, even the pestilence..."
So to answer the question: "Were there seven years of famine or only three?", the correct answer is BOTH. There were seven years of famine altogether; four had already occurred and three more years were threatened as a further judgment.
The King James Bible is right as always.
For many more articles defending the King James Bible as being the only true Bible see my site at; http://brandplucked.webs.com/articles.htm
Comment by Steve Van Nattan:
This discussion is very old, but the Mullahs in Cairo, in the famous Al-Azhar mosque there, have been pouring over the Bible to find every possible contradiction. Ironically, it is probably one of the most intense Bible study groups on earth. Their results are famous as one of the most Satanic attacks on the Bible since the days of the Apostles. All sorts of claims are made, and these are then passed on to Imams in mosques around the world.
Because the Mullahs in the Cairo mosque are well trusted for being wise and scholarly, ordinary Imams simply believe their lies and never check to see for themselves what the Bible says. They also teach the lies to Muslims in mosques around the world, assuring them that these alleged contractions will cause Christians to be confounded and become helpless and unable to answer.
Beyond claims of biblical errors, they also promote stupid lies, like, when Christians baptize their babies they sometimes drown them, and Christians worship Mary (which Catholics help them prove), and Christians kill those who do not follow them. The drowning of babies comes from the Coptic and Orthodox custom of immersing babies at their baptism. They also will claim that Christians approve of women going about nearly naked. This is because Muslims in many nations believe that all Americans are Muslims, just as all the people in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern nations are Muslims.
When a Muslim comes to the USA from the Middle East, they are often shocked to find that Christians are quite hard to find. They are not prepared to find a secular majority. There is no such thing in most Islamic nations. You need to help a Muslim see that the true Christian is in the minority and standing against Satanic resistance to live for his faith. This will get his attention, I promise you.
It is a real revelation to the sincere seeking Muslim to learn that the high and mighty scholars of Islam are fabricating lies and untruth. What is treacherous are these modern English versions which give credibility to these devils by changing the Bible, as if they need to reconcile seeming contradictions. Ahmed Deedat used many English translations, jumping from one to the other to show the contradictions between them and mocking that we could not make up our mind. NEVER use any version but the King James Bible when witnessing with a Muslim. He may tie you in knots if you use any other version.
You must show absolute trust in the King James Bible, use no other English Bible, and boldly tell all Muslims, whether sincere seekers or sinister vipers, that the Bible is right, and the Mullahs are wrong. They do the same thing in defending the contradictions in the Koran and the Hadith. A Muslim seeker will be used to absolute trust, but if you are timid and reticent in your responses, they will see you, and the Bible, as suspect at best.