ATA – Seven or three years of famine?

ataINQUIRY:
Did God offer David seven (2 Samuel 24:12-13) or three (1 Chronicles 21:11-12) years of famine? Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:
A hurried look at 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21 seems to show a contradiction. However, if the questioner will slow down and read through the text more carefully, it will be seen that the verses are in agreement.

David was presented with three choices:

  • 3 years of famine;
  • 3 months to be destroyed before his enemies;
  • 3 days of pestilence.

It is clear from the 1 Chronicles account that these are the options given to David. The latter two choices are paralleled in 2 Samuel 24, but the first choice appears to be different. Why does the text refer to seven years of famine?

We need to look at 2 Samuel 21:1 to know why it reads seven instead of three. It reads:

…there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David inquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, ‘’It is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house, because he killed the Gibeonites.”

Three years of famine had already occurred. Add to this the current year (the time which passed from 2 Samuel 21:1 to 2 Samuel 24:13), and then the three years of 1 Chronicles 21:11, and you have the seven years.

There is no contradiction.


A response to 1001 Bible Contradictions.

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