What Was The Number Of The Israelite Men Fighting In Israel?

(2 Samuel 24:9; 1 Chronicles 21:5)

Please refer to the alleged contradiction question "Who Incited David To Count The Fighting Man of Israel?" in our Q & A section that serves as the foundation for understanding this alleged contradiction. David had Joab, the captain of his armies, go out to make a census.

In 2 Samuel 24:9, the Bible states: "Then Joab gave the sum of the number of the people to the king. And there were in Israel eight hundred thousand (800,000) valiant men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand (500,000) men."

In 1 Chronicles 21:5, "Then Joab gave the sum of the number of the people to David. All Israel had one million one hundred thousand (1,100,000) men who drew the sword, and Judah had four hundred and seventy thousand (470,000) men who drew the sword."

Which of the calculations is correct? Is there a contradiction? No.

The differences lie in the fact that in 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles include or exclude numbers given in the reports, which have to be sought out elsewhere in the books.

The census report in 2 Samuel reports that there were 800,000 men who drew the sword in Israel. This number (800,000) does not include the standing army of 288,000 soldiers (described in 1 Chronicles 27:1-15), or the 12,000 soldiers specifically stationed in Jerusalem (described in 2 Chronicles 1:14). These figures add up to the report in 1 Chronicles: 800,000 + 288,000 + 12,000 = 1,100,000 (which makes up the whole army of Israel).

The census report in 1 Chronicles reports that there were 470,000 soldiers of Judah who drew the sword, yet does not include the standing army of the 30,000 soldiers that are cited in 2 Samuel 6:1. It so happens that these numbers (400,000 + 30,000 = 500,000) add up to the number of soldiers reported in 2 Samuel.

Another historical fact to consider is that Joab was not able to finish counting all the men (1 Chronicles 21:6), which makes the census incomplete (explaining why there is a difference in the report of the numbers).



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