Philistine Foreskins – ATA

How many Philistine foreskins did David pay Saul for his daughter Michal, 100 (2 Samuel 3:14) or 200 (1 Samuel 18:27)? Is there a contradiction?

2 Samuel 3:14 reads:

So David sent messengers to Ishboshheth, Saul’s son, saying, Give me my wife Michal, whom I betrothed to myself for a hundred foreskins of the Philistines.

In 1 Samuel 18:27, we are told

…David arose and went, he and his men, and killed two hundred men of the Philistines. And David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full count to the king, that he might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him Michal his daughter as a wife.

The Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament) reads 100 in verse 27, which agrees with 2 Samuel 3:14 and 1 Samuel 18:24. It’s been suggested that a copyist error may have entered at verse 27.

This is possible, or it may be that the Septuagint reading is a copyist’s effort to reconcile 1 Samuel 18:27 with 1 Samuel 18:24 and 2 Samuel 3:14. Even if that is the case, there is still no contradiction in the text.

Saul’s request for 100 Philistine foreskins was beyond abnormal. It has nothing to do with a dowry or wanting David as a son-in-law, it was Saul’s attempt at killing David and using the enemy to do it (read all of chapter  18). Rather than fall to the Philistines, David defeated 200 of them. Some (ie. Jamieson-Fausset-Brown) think it was out of respect for his soon-to-be wife (I don’t know any number of Philistine foreskins is a sign of respect). It is more likely David’s emphatic response to Saul’s attempt to kill him.

Regardless, Saul asked for 100 Philistine foreskins, and David gave him that and more. He sent a bonus 100. But, that doesn’t change the price asked by Saul—100.

There is no contradiction.

A response to 1001 Bible Contradictions.

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