Problem

How many men did Joab count?

2 Samuel 24:9 - And Joab gave up the sum of the number of the people unto the king: and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men.
1 Chronicles 21:5 - And Joab gave the sum of the number of the people unto David. And all they of Israel were a thousand thousand and an hundred thousand men that drew sword: and Judah was four hundred threescore and ten thousand men that drew sword.

How many men did Joab count?

2 Sam 24:9

Israel: 800,000
Judah: 500,000

1 Chron 21:5

Israel: 1,100,000
Judah: 470,000


Solution

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The answer lays in the translation. The first passage states that Joab gave the census to David and the number was 800,000 while the second passage says that their were 1,100,000 men who drew the sword. The word VALIANT is the key. There were a total of 1,100,000 men however only 800,000 were valiant. The other 300,000 were reserves. There is a classification between one who draws the sword and a valiant man who draws the sword. An example would be a military ranking such as a sergeant vs. a general. Both would be in their respects services but have significantly different rankings.

As for the 500,000 vs. 6 states that Joab had not finished the census because of David’s conviction of sin. He did not include Levi or Benjamin. So the 470,000 would have been and accurate number at that time.

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The descriptions of the number of men is sufficiently different to distinguish between the numbers given in the two accounts.

1 Chronicles tells us--

a. All Israel had one million one hundred thousand men who drew the sword

b. Judah had four hundred and seventy thousand men who drew the sword

2 Samuel tells us--

c. There were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men who drew the sword

d. The men of Judah were five hundred thousand men

Collecting the information that we are given, we have:

Concerning Israel

a. All Israel had one million one hundred thousand men who drew the sword (1 Chronicles)

c. There were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men who drew the sword (2 Samuel)

Concerning Judah

d. The men of Judah were five hundred thousand men (2 Samuel)

b. Judah had four hundred and seventy thousand men who drew the sword (1 Chronicles)

We can conclude from this the following:

1. Israel had one million one hundred thousand men who drew the sword (1 Chronicles) of which there were eight hundred thousand that could be described further as valiant men (2 Samuel).

2. Judah had five hundred thousand men (2 Samuel) of which there were four hundred and seventy thousand who could be described as men who drew the sword (1 Chronicles).

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Books on Apparent Contradictions