Are There Contradictions in the Tanach?
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Are There Contradictions in the Tanach?

By Shlomo Phillips © May 15, 2014 (latest update June 29, 2017)

Recorded Live on Facebook

Why this study was written:
Most traditional Christians believe in the "inerrancy" (i.e. the absence of any error and/or contradiction) of the sixty six books of the Christian Bible (i.e. the Jewish Tanach and the Christian New Testament). Critics often cite the obvious contradictions found in the New Testament as evidence that their claim of Divine authorship and preservation is not accurate. Biblically knowledgeable Christians of course have ready, although mostly unconvincing, answers for these allegations that they, if not their detractors, accept as successfully defending New Testament inerrancy. As one example only: After Judas' betrayal, the Pharisees bought Potter's field and Judas went and hung himself (Matthew 27:5). This contradicts that "Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out" (Acts 1:18-19). Critics note that falling in a field would not cause such a dramatic death. Likewise, Matthew says the Rabbi's bought the field not Judas, lest blood money be placed into the Temple coffers, while Luke says in Acts that Judas bought the property before falling his death in the field. The text does not mention a rope breaking and such a fall would have had to be from a very high place to have such an impact on the body. Falling from a tree would not do this.

Since many Christians proclaim the necessity of biblical inerrancy and that "God said it, I believe it, that settles it," some say that the entire Christian religion must be considered false. While it be so for the extreme "true Believers," I disagree with this assessment. The obvious existence of contradictions in their texts does not necessarily confirm the falseness of their religion. Scriptural integrity is only part of religious conviction. The contradictions in the New Testament (and they certainly exist) pose serious but not terminal issues for Christian doctrine. While Christians are "a people of a Book," theirs is primarily a faith based religion. Al Qua'ran certainly has its share of contradictions as well.

My dear friend Noach enjoys debating doctrine and beliefs (as do I) and sent me the following examples of alleged contradictions within the Tanach (i.e. the Jewish 'Old Testament') for my perusal and comment. If there are contradictions in the Tanach do they pose the same type of issues for us Jews as the Christians confront?

This was the impetus of this study. Our two religions are very different.

Judaism and Christianity vary widely in their views concerning the Scriptures. Judaism is very diverse of course and I would never presume to speak for any other Jew. The following is my opinion only. It reflects how I see these proposed contradictions and their possible resolution.

For Jews the Torah (i.e. the Five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) is "G-d breathed," to use that terminology, which we normally wouldn't. Those writings are viewed as "thus sayeth the Lord," so to speak. The rest of the Tanach varies as the texts themselves say. When the Prophets are writing for instance they or their chroniclers are reporting events in their own words. When the prophets say, "thus says HaShem" etc. those are words of Divine utterance. The rest of the Tanach is 'inspired' but not necessarily 'Divine utterances'. Likewise with the Psalms and other sections of the Writings. In most cases they are written by holy people inspired by their relationship, need, desire, love, etc. of G-d, but their words are their own. Contradictions in human writings, even when the authors are inspired, is to be expected. And yet there are few if any of these to be found in the texts of the Hebrew Bible. When they do appear, we seek to explain them as well. Some will accept our explanations, some will offer others, and some will not accept any. This is the way of humans. We are an inquisitive and cantankerous bunch!

Exploring such questions is very important nonetheless. Such honest examinations in part gave rise to our Oral Traditions like the Talmud, in which the sages and rabbis debate and determine our understandings as Jews. Throughout the millennia our sages have carefully dissected every passage in the Tanach seeking ever deeper wisdom and insights into the diverse texts and their teachings.

What follows is my attempt to answer numerous challenging questions about alleged contradictions. Mostly these replies will be my own but in some cases I will also include the answers of our sages. Your Comments are invited.

From My Friend Noach:
    This is the list of contradictions I was sent. I know there are rabbinical answers to these texts: Here's the list I'd like your opinion on as to their make up. Nothing to spend too much time on, mind you.
The Verses:
Man was created equal, male and female. Gen.1:27. Woman was created as a companion to the man only after he rejected the animals. Gen.2:18-24.

    As with several of these the issue is not really so much a contradiction as a lack of consideration of the context. All human beings are 'equal' but not all have the same purpose. The Torah specifies varies roles for different people. There was never a question of the animals being a suitable partner/spouse for Adam.

Man was created after the plants. Gen.1:12, 26. Man was created before the plants. Gen.2:5-9.

    Genesis presents two creation accounts. One was the original creation 'at the beginning of G-d's creating', the second was the creation in which Adam and Chava (Eve) were created and placed within the garden. There is no contradiction here.

The birds were created out of the water. Gen.1:20. The birds were created out of the land. Gen.2:19.

    See previous.

The animals were created before man. Gen.1:24-26. The animals were created after man. Gen.2:19.

    See previous. Also, we see here a common cause for confusion. Genesis 2:19 does not say the animals were created after Adam. It says that they were created at some undefined point and later they were brought to Adam for him to name, he having been subsequently created according to the context.

On the first day, G-d created and separated light and darkness. Gen.1:3-5. On the fourth day, G-d again created and separated light and darkness. Gen.1:14-18.

    On the first day HaShem created the Or Chadash, the transcendent light of Creation. This light lit the earth but was qualitatively different from the daylight we experience. As Rashi notes:
      Here too, we need the words of the Aggadah: He saw it that it was not proper for the wicked to use it [i.e. the transcendent Light, the Ohr Chadash]; so He separated it for the righteous in the future. According to its simple meaning, explain it as follows: He saw it that it was good, and it was unseemly that it [pure Light] and darkness should serve in confusion; so He established for this one its boundary by day, and for that one its boundary by night.
    This standard rabbinic interpretation aside, this is not a contradiction First there was light, then there was the separating of day and night.

G-d encouraged reproduction, Gen.1:28. He said it was an unclean process, Lev.12:1-8 (Note that bearing a daughter is more unclean than bearing a son).

    Sex and procreation are holy when they are in accordance with Divine Law and intent. The Levitical passages are referring to sanitation. If you have ever attended a birth no more need be said. The laws of niddah do not contradict the essential goodness of reproduction through which all life is maintained.

G-d was pleased with his creation. Gen.1:31. G-d was not pleased with his creation, Gen.6:6.

    HaShem was pleased and said everything was rightly formed. Humanity then chose the path of yetzer hara, which is to say, the negative path. As any parent HaShem was "saddened" by the course humanity chose. It is essential to remember however that HaShem is utterly transcendent and independent. He is not effected in any way by what we do or fail to do, and yet so that we can comprehend human expressions are often used. Also, its important to understand that absolutely everything occurs by the Will of HaShem for His purposes and so even our transgressions serve the great good of His Will. No contradiction here.

Adam was to die "the day" he ate the forbidden fruit, Gen.2:17. Adam lived 930 years, Gen.5:5.

    The Hebrew word use for "die" here is mooth. This can refer to physical or spiritual death. Upon their rebellion Adam and Eve were clothed in mortal flesh and lost their original nature. At that point death became certain for they and their descendents until the Redemption. Prior to that it was not. Not a contradiction, just a metaphor.

The name of "The Lord" was known in the beginning. Gen.4:26; Gen.12:8; Gen.22:14; Gen.26:25. The name of "The Lord" was not known in the beginning. Ex.6:3.

    Torah (including Genesis 4:26 and the rest) was written by Moses. Moses knew the Sacred Name of Four Letters by the time he wrote the text. The word "name" or shem in Hebrew refers to much more than a literal name, as it does in English. Ones name is ones reputation even more than one spoken name. Between Adam and Enosh's time it appear that humanity turned away from actively serving HaShem, thus disrespecting HaShem's reputation. Enosh began to restore HaShem's reputation through his emunah (active faith/trust) and obedience. This is not a contradiction, it is a lack of understanding of the word shem.

G-d preferred Abel's offering to Cain's, Gen.4:4, 5. G-d shows no partiality. 2 Chr.19:7; 2 Sam.14:14.

    'HaShem is no respecter of persons'. Proper Torah observant is accepted from everyone. One offered a proper sacrifice, the other did not. There is no contradiction here.

Three: G-d asks Cain the whereabouts of his brother, Gen.4:9. G-d goes to see what is happening, Gen.18:20, 21. G-d is everywhere and sees everything, Prov.15:3; Jer.16:17; Jer.23:24.

    G-d is completely glorious in all ways. His ways transcend our ways. So that we have some conception human metaphors are often used. This is such a case. Cain, though his act was hidden from G-d and so we are told that G-d 'plays along' and asks about Abel for the understandability. No contradictions here.

It didn't rain before the flood, Gen.7:4. There was rain from above and below, Gen.8:2.

    I don't follow this one. According to Torah the 'foundations of the earth opened' and the ark was hit from all sides by the waters. No contradiction with this. There was dew but no rain before the global flood.

Two pairs of each kind were to be taken aboard Noah's ark, Gen.6:19, 20; Gen.7:9, 14-16. Two pairs and seven pairs of some kinds were to be taken aboard, Gen.7:2, 3.

    Correct, 2 of each ritually unclean animal and more of those that were ritually clean. That's what the texts say. We can think of it this way perhaps: Two of all animals came forward, and then HaShem called more forward of certain 'clean' species. No contradiction, just two different harmonious accounts

Noah entered the ark during the Flood, Gen.7:7. Noah entered the ark after the Flood, Gen.7:12, 13.

    Common sense tells us that Noah's family entered the ark before the flood waters were released, otherwise they would have died in the deluge. Verse 14 dispels this argument by returning to the pre-flood event: "...they, and every beast after its kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after its kind, and every fowl after its kind, every bird of every sort. [7:15] And they went in unto Noah into the ark,..." Noah and his family were in and out as they made their preparations and then, at the command of HaShem, all the beings that were to survive entered the ark. No contradiction

There were many languages before the tower at Babel. Gen.10:5, 20, 31. There was only one language before the tower at Babel. Gen.11:1.

    This is a failure of translation. The word translated as languages in chapter 10 is lashon and refers mainly to the literal tongue of a human or an animal (used for licking etc). At 11:1 the word used is saphah and refers to a language proper. This language was Hebrew, the Holy Tongue — [from Tan. Buber, Noach 28]. So then, before the flood people ate and drank and babbled according to their local traditions. That is one point (the chapter 10 references). They all spoke Hebrew (11:1), which is a different point. Not a contradiction.

Abraham married his half-sister and was blessed. Gen.11:29. Incest is wrong. Deut.27:22; Lev. 18:9; Lev. 20:17.

    She was not his sister. She was his half sister. Defining what is incest has changed over the years.

Abraham made a covenant with Abimelech and Phichol, Gen.21:22, 27, 32. It was Isaac who made the covenant with Abimelech and Phichol, Gen.26:26-28.

    Two different agreements. No contradiction.

Hebron was the name at the time of Abraham, Gen.23:2. Hebron was named differently Josh.14:15.

    Jerusalem is really Y'rushalayim and was also known as Salem. New York used to be Nouvelle-Angoulême (New Angouleme). Atlanta used to be Terminus and so on. In both of these passages Hebron is called Chebron. The later simply notes an alternative name: Kirjatharba. No contradiction.

Jacob's name was changed at Peniel, Gen.32:28-30. Jacob's name was changed at Padanaram.Gen.35:9,10.

    Places change their names. It was the same location: Rashi notes: "The second time in this place: once when he went away and once when he returned."

Isaac's servants dug a well at Beer-shebah, Gen.26:32, 33. Abraham dug a well at Beer-shebah, Gen.21:29-31.

    Lots of wells were dug. No contradiction

Esau married two Hittite women, Gen.26:34. Esau married three Canaanite women, Gen.36:2, 3.

    Esau was not a good man. He married Judith and Bashemath, who were Canaanite Hittites (such a union was forbidden for an Israelite). Because of their lineage their children could not have a share in the Covenant blessings of Avraham. So Esau took a third wife, the Ishmaelite Bashemath. Esau renamed her to Mahalath. He then renamed Basemath Adah and Judith Oholibamah. In the end his plotting failed and the Covenant continued through Jacob and the 12 Houses. Not a contradiction.

Bashemath was a daughter of Elon the Hittite, Gen.26:34. Bashemath was a daughter of Ishmael, Gen.36:3.

    See previous. Two different women.

Luz was renamed Beth-el, Gen.28:19. Luz was a different place than Beth-el, Josh.16:2.

    Most scholars believe the royal city of Luz was a region in which Bethel was located. It would be like being in the Old City of Jerusalem and going to the City of David. The later is just outside the Dung gate. One could go from the City of David (Jerusalem) to the City of David in moments even as one might go from DC to Georgetown. from Oakland to Berkeley, from Atlanta to Doraville etc. No contradiction

G-d renamed Jacob and called him Israel, Gen.35:10. G-d forgot the new name, Gen.46:2.

    Genesis 46:2 does not say G-d forgot his name. It says He summoned him. Again, this is clearly metaphorical language so that we can comprehend the Holy One who transcends comprehension. No contradiction

Eliphaz had six sons, Gen.36:11,12. Eliphaz had seven sons, Gen.36:15,16. Eliphaz had seven different sons, 1 Chr.1:36.

    These just reflect a different of calculating the offspring of Eliphaz. Amalek (I Chr 1) was an enemy of G-d's people. Rashi notes:
      "The sons of Esau:" Eliphaz: in order to deal with him briefly and to cast him away; he only mentioned him in honor of Isaac.

Dan had one son, Gen.46:23. Amazingly, this one son produced over 62,000 military-age males by the first census, Num.1:38,39.

    Numbers 26:42 tells us that "The descendants of Dan according to their families: the family of the Shuhamites from Shuham. These were the families of Dan." Rashi notes: From Shuham: This is Hushim (see Gen. 46:23). Not his personal offspring.

Moses married a Midianite, Ex.3:1. Moses married an Ethiopian, Num.12:1.

    Not a contradiction. Moses had two wives: First was the Cushite woman whom he divorced [Tanchuma Tzav 13] and then Zipporah (or Tzipora), daughter of Yitro (Jethro), Ex. 3:1.

All the beasts died in plague number six, Ex.9:6. All the beasts received boils in plague number seven, Ex.9:10, All the beasts were hit with hail and fire in plague number eight, Ex.9:25. All the beasts lost their firstborn in plague number ten, Ex.12:29. All the plant life was destroyed by hail, Ex.9:25. All the plant life was destroyed by locusts, Ex.10:15.

    Our sages teach:
      "upon man and upon beast": Now if you ask, "From where did they have beasts? Does it not say already, 'and all the livestock of the Egyptians died' (verse 6) ?" [I will answer that] the decree was leveled only upon those in the field, as it is said: "upon your livestock that is in the field" (verse 3), but he who feared the word of the Lord brought all his livestock into the houses, and so it is taught in the Mechilta (Beshallach 1) regarding "He took six hundred chosen chariots" (Exod. 14:7). — [See Rashi on that verse.]
    The same holds true for all of these when one carefully considers the context.

G-d instructs the Israelites to spoil the Egyptians and plunder their enemies, Ex.3:22; Deut.20:13-17. G-d prohibits stealing or defrauding a neighbor, Lev.19:11,13.

    Stealing is the unlawful taking of another's property. Torah says they gave of their wealth. It appears that many of the Egyptians understood the wrongs that were being done and sought to make amends. Likewise, the "spoils of war" are not included in the category of theft. Besides, if G-d says to take something it is not stealing. Everything belongs to HaShem.

Moses' father-in-law proposed the idea of judges for the people, Ex.18:17, 24. Moses proposed the idea of judges for the people, Deut.1:9-18.

    Moses heeded the advise of Jethro and passed it on. No contradiction

Jethro was the name of Moses' father-in-law, Ex.3:1. Ruel was the name of Moses' father-in-law, Ex.2:18. Raguel was the name of Moses' father-in-law, Num.10:29. Hobab was the name of Moses' father-in-law, Jud.4:11.

    Ruel and Raguel are the same name (Number 10:29) in the Hebrew and Jewish translations properly handle it as Reuel (or some version of it) in our translations. There is debate on this name and Yitro (Jethro). Some scholars believe Reuel was Jethro's father (hence 'father-in-law' by lineage) although I can find no support for this in the Bible. Numbers 10:29 implies that Hobab is Reuel's son. If both of these views are correct he would be Jethro's brother and deserving of the father-in-law's respect. Other scholars believe that all three names refer to the same person. This was not unusual at the time. Jacob for instance is also known as Israel. This remains an unsolved theological debate and possible contradiction.

The priests were with Moses at Mount Sinai, Ex.19:22, 24. Moses appointed the first priests later in the wilderness, Ex.28:1.

    Seems like a sequence change to me, nothing more.

Moses was great, Ex.11:3. Moses was meek, Numbers 12:3.

    Truly great men should be meek of spirit.

Moses was the only one allowed near G-d, Ex.24:2. Moses was not the only one allowed, Ex.24:9-11.

    24:1 calls him. There is no contradiction here. Moses went up alone. He returned and gave instructions to the people, we accepted the Torah, and the listed elders worshipped HaShem, then Moses left them and went up the mount (24:12). To look for a contradiction within a single passage like this while ignoring the context is not very convincing.

Moses condemned the making of an idol, Ex.32:19, 20. Moses made an idol, Num.21:9; 2 Ki.18:4.

    The serpent was not an idol. No one worshipped it. It was a focal point used for those who were used to worshipping images.

The commandments were memorably given at the beginning of the wilderness trek, Ex. 19 and 20. The people appeared not to remember them later in the wilderness, Lev.24:12; Num.15:34.

    The Levitical passage do not say they did not remember. They just did wickedness. Num.15:34 refers to an issue that had not been previously ruled on. No contradiction here.

Moses told the people they would pass over the Jordan that day, Deut.9:1. It was Joshua who took them over much later, Josh.1:1, 2.

    The text says that they were beginning a process. Hence the Judaica Press version has this as: Hear, O Israel: Today, you are crossing the Jordan to come in to possess nations greater and stronger than you, great cities, fortified up to the heavens.

The number of Israelites, excluding children, was 600,000, Ex.12:37. The number of Israelites, including children, was only 7000, 1 Ki.20:15.

    The later is a counting of those who did not bend the knee to Ba'al (I Kings 1918). It bears no relation to the numbering recorded at Exodus 12:37.

Manna tasted like coriander seed and honey, Ex.16:31. Manna tasted like fresh oil, Num.11:8.

    The manna fell at night and looked like coriander-seed of the color of bdellium (Numbers 11:7). In the morning it looked as though it were covered with frost. A strict reading says these blue coriander seed looking grains were pounded into a flour and cooked into cakes that tasted like honey or oil (Exodus 16:31, Numbers 11:8). Interestingly the Oral Torah has this:
      [The manna] did not actually enter the mill, the pot, or the mortar, but its taste changed to [that of] ground, crushed, or cooked food. — [Sifrei Beha’alothecha 1:42:8].
    There is also a tradition that says the manna tasted like whatever the eater wished it to taste like. Not a contradiction, just a miraculous gift of HaShem.

The Sabbath Day was to remember creation, Ex.20:11; Ex. 31:17. The Sabbath Day was to remember the sojourn in Egypt, Deut.5:15.

    Both are correct. This is why we light two Shabbat candles. Many things have more than a single meaning.

G-d details sacrificial offerings, Ex.20:24; Ex.29:10-42; Lev.1:1-17; Num.28:1-31. G-d says He did not order sacrifices, Jer.7:22.

    A matter of context. Rashi clarifies:
      "on the day I brought them forth": The beginning of the condition was only (Exodus 19: 5): "If you hearken to My voice and keep My covenant, you shall be a peculiar treasure to Me."
    The issue has never been about sacrificing animals etc, its about developing emunah (active faith) in G-d with obedience. With emunah, sacrifices are meaningless (for instance Isaiah 1:10-12) as well as my study Here.

The Book of Jasher was written at the time of Joshua, Josh.10:13. The Book of Jasher was written at the time of David, 2 Sam.1:17,18.

    Probably a poor translation into English. Jasher means "straight" or "just." The Judaica Press translates it this way: "And he said to teach the sons of Judah the bow. Behold it is written in the book of the just." There are as many as five known books named The Book of Jasher. ALL of them were written in or near the Christian era. As there is no known book by that name in either the time of David or Joshua "the Book of the Just" probably refers to either the Torah or "the Book of HaShem" from which He judges the souls of the righteous. In any case, there is no contradiction.

The Israelites were a numerous and mighty people, Ex.1:8, 9. The Israelites were few in number, Deut.7:7.

    Both has always been true as it is today.

The Israelites had plenty of water to wash their clothes for purification, Ex.19:10. The Israelites had no water and rioted for a drink, Ex.15:22-24.

    Different times and places. No contradiction.

G-d was with the people, Ex.3:12. G-d was not with the people, Ex.33:3.

    When Israel obeys HaShem He is with us. When we disobey He is not. As in other cases this is purely metaphorical and an issue of time and circumstances. HaShem is everywhere. He neither "comes" to us nor does He "leave" us. Sometimes He blesses us when we are obedient and observe emunah, and sometimes he "withdraws His Presence" from us when we move away from Him.

Aaron died on Mt. Hor, Num.20:27, 28; 33:38,39. Aaron died at Mosera, Deut.10:6.

    Our sages explain that Aaron's death occurred on Mount Hor. Also occurring then was the defeat of the people in a war with the king of Arad. Because of this defeat the Israelites were forced to flee, marching 'seven stations' backward to Mosera, where funeral rites were performed (See Mek., Beshallaḥ, Wayassa', i.; Tan., Huḳḳat, 18; Yer. Soṭah, i. 17c, and Targum Yer. Num. and Deut. on the relevant passages).

After Aaron's death, the people journeyed from Mt. Hor to Zalmonah to Punon etc., Num.33:41, 42. After Aaron's death, the people journeyed from Mosera to Gudgodah to Jotbath, Deut.10:6, 7.

    See previous.

The Canaanites were utterly destroyed, Num.21:3. The Canaanites were left to trouble the Israelites for years, Jud.3:1,2.

    The reference is that their cities and armies were defeated and destroyed, not that none of them survived. No contradiction.

Stones were taken out of the Jordan River, Josh.4:3. Stones were placed in the Jordan River, Josh.4:9.

    Many stone shrines were established. As Rashi notes on 4:9: "And twelve stones": i.e. others Joshua set up in the midst of the Jordan.

The Nazarite vow is broken if one goes near a dead body, Numb.6:6-9. Sampson, a Nazarite, apparently did not break this vow, Jud.13:5; 15:8,15,16; 16:17. Samuel ministered to the "Lord", 1 Sam.3:1. Samuel did not know the "Lord". 1 Sam.3:7.

    The issue here is a lack of understanding both of the vow and of human nature. Whoever said Samson kept the vow perfectly anyway? There is no contradiction here.

David killed Goliath, 1 Sam.17:49,50. Elhanan killed Goliath, 2 Sam.21:19-21. (Notice that the phrase "the brother of" has been added).

    According to Targum Jonathan the seeming contradiction is resolved by explaining that Elhanan was an alternative name for David, a solution which still has supporters among ultra-conservative Christians and Jews (see Miqraoth G'doloth Samuel at Hebrewbooks.org - Page 414). Rashi supports this view as well.
    Other common interpretations have this as the brother of Goliath: Elhanan "slew Lahmi the brother of Goliath", apparently constructing the name Lahmi from the last portion of the word "Bethlehemite." Hebrew does not break down as English does and the idea here is that beit-ha'lahmi references Elhanan killing Lahmi of 'a House weavers' (of weavers: Jaare-oregim). The King James Version takes this interpretation (adding the brother of in italics to acknowledge it is based on interpretation rather than strict translation. Personally, I lean toward the prior understanding.

"G-d" caused David to number the people, 2 Sam.24:1. "Satan" caused David to number the people, 1 Chr.21:1.

    Here we have a common difference between the two religions. For most Christians there is an 'anti-god' known as Satan who regularly thwarts HaShem's plans (this views arises from Zoroastrianism not the Bible). For Jews there is only One G-d and none can thwart His plans. At times Satan and similar terms are used to reflect the yetzer hara or negative instinct intrinsic to all humans. At other times the reference is to negative spirit beings, however they too serve the will of G-d. Hence verses like "an evil spirit of the Lord" (compare I Samuel 16:15). Everything happens according to the sovereign will of HaShem.

Saul utterly destroyed the Amalekites, 1 Sam.15:20. David utterly destroyed the Amalekites, 1 Sam.27:8, 9. David destroyed the Amalekites - again - almost, 1 Sam.30:1,17,18.

    This has been addressed above. Their political and social structure was destroyed. Such statements are not absolutes. With common sense, no contradiction

G-d chose Saul to save the people from the Philistines, 1 Sam.9:15-17. Saul dies and the Philistines overrun the Israelites, 1 Sam.31:6, 7.

    The history of Israel is one of process. Saul had his role to pay, David had his. We have ours. Through Saul David HaMelech arose and through him the complete Redemption will eventually be achieved.

G-d chose Saul, 1 Sam.9:16. G-d repents for choosing Saul, 1 Sam.15:35. G-d doesn't need to repent, Num. 23:19.

    Humans have free will. As discussed previously the Bible uses terms humans can relate to. Saul was given the opportunity to lead the people and he erred by submitting to his yetzer hara. That is the point. Reading these things too literally, without considering the figurative nature of human language and the texts' intention to educate the readers, will cause one to err. This is neither a contradiction nor a sign of weakness on the part of HaShem nor our Scriptures.

Saul inquired of G-d but received no answer, 1 Sam.28:6. Saul died for not inquiring, 1 Chr.10:13, 14.

    Here the context simply was not considered.
      Verse 13 says: And Saul died because of the treachery that he had committed against the Lord, concerning the word of the Lord that he did not keep, and also because he had inquired of the dead spirit. (14) And he did not inquire of the Lord, and He slew him, and transferred the kingdom to David the son of Jesse."
    He used divination rather than seeking HaShem and in this he violated Torah. No contradiction

Saul killed himself, 1 Sam.31:4; 1 Chr. 10:4, 5. Someone killed Saul, 2 Sam.1:5-10. The Philistines killed Saul, 2 Sam.21:12. G-d killed Saul, 1 Chr.10:13,14.

    It could well be that "...I chanced to be on Mt. Gilboa, and behold, Saul was leaning on his spear..." is what I Sam 31:4 says, that he impaled himself but was not yet dead when the Amalikite arrived. Rashi notes:
      And Saul died because of the treachery that he had committed: He committed two treacherous acts by inquiring of the familiar spirit: one when he inquired after Samuel, and one when he inquired of familiar spirits, and in the Aggadah of Samuel (24:6) we learn that he committed five treacherous acts.
      "concerning the word of the Lord that he did not keep": that which Samuel had commanded him, as it is written (I Sam. 10:8): "Seven days shall you wait," and because he dealt treacherously in the war of Amalek [by sparing Agag].
    As stated, HaShem determines the affairs of men (and our free will is included in this). Saul disobeyed HaShem and HaShem ruled against him. The method of this execution of G-d's will is beside the point. No contradiction although I will acknowledge certain comparisons to the story of Judas' suicide mentioned above. When dealing with texts that are thousands of years old some points simply are not as clear as we might prefer.

Jesse had eight sons, 1 Sam.16:10, 11; 1 Sam.17:12. Jesse had seven sons, 1 Chr.2:13-15.

    "And Jesse presented seven of his sons before Samuel..." No contradiction

Saul knew David before the encounter with Goliath, 1 Sam.16:19. Saul did not know David until after the encounter with Goliath. 1 Sam.17:55-58.

    There are numerous possible answers for this one. Scholars are not in agreement. 1. The books are not always in chronological order. This event may have happened first even though its presented later in the book. 2. It is also possible that if David's place in the royal household did occur first (which I think seems most likely) we are told that David was forced to flee Saul's home (after his moving farewell to Jonathan). During this period of absence Saul may have seen him from a distance and questioned who he was (possibly even suspecting this was the David he had banished). or again, he may have known him but recognized the Power HaShem had placed within him. In any case there is no clear answer either way and so there is no certain contradiction here.

Michal was childless, 2 Sam.6:23. Michal had five sons, 2 Sam.21:8.

    Rashi explains: "had no child: from that day on."

David sinned in taking the census, 2 Sam.24:10,25. David's only sin, ever, was another matter, 1 Ki.15:5.

    David committed many sins as well as many acts of righteousness according to the Scriptures. As discussed before, such literalism often leads one to confusion. No contradiction here, only the picking of nits.

David paid 50 pieces of silver for the property, 2 Sam.24:24. David paid 600 pieces of gold for the property, 1 Chr.21:25.

    The rabbis clarify:
      "for fifty shekels of silver": Now in I Chronicles 21:25 it states: "six hundred shekel; of gold by the weight." How can this be? He gathered fifty shekels of silver from each and every tribe which totals six hundred [silver shekels] and he presented him with silver equal to the amount of [fifty shekels] of gold. This we learned at the end of Tractate Zev. (116b). i.e., that he gathered silver in the amount of six hundred [shekels] of silver [equivalent to fifty] gold shekels. We also learned it in Sifrei.
No contradiction. The Talmud clarifies most such points. HaShem has truly blessed the Jewish people with such ongoing instruction.

His name was Solomon, 2 Sam.12:24; 1 Chr.22:9. His name was Jedidiah, 2 Sam.12:25.

    Not a contradiction as the fact that the author says the second name in the very next verse. Many Jews have two or more names. I for instance am named both Shlomo and Yochanan.

Solomon had 40,000 stalls of horses, 1 Ki.4:26. Solomon had 4,000 stalls of horses, 2 Chr.9:25.

    This is 5:6 in Jewish versions. Rashi explains:
      "forty thousand stalls of horses": In Chron. II 9:25 it says four thousand [stalls of horses whereas here forty thousand are mentioned]. Our Sages explained there were forty thousand stalls and in each there were four thousand partitions, or there were four thousand stalls and in each there were forty thousand partitions.

Solomon had 3300 supervisors, 1 Ki.5:16. Solomon had 3600 supervisors, 2 Chr.2:2.

    Rashi:
      "Seventy thousand that bore burdens": to bring the stones from the mountains to the city, and the eighty thousand men were the ones who hewed them in the mountains. There is altogether one hundred fifty thousand men. And they were all proselytes who were drawn and attracted to the Jewish people, that converted because of Solomon’s greatness and hospitality. And it is likewise written in Chronicles II (2: 16) "And Solomon numbered all the strangers that were in the land of Israel... and they were found a hundred and fifty thousand. And he set seventy thousand..."

Solomon's "molten sea" held 2000 "baths", 1 Ki.7:26. Solomon's "molten sea" held 3000 "baths", 2 Chr.4:5.

    Most of these types of questions are clarified by the sages. Rashi Note:
      Two thousand measures: Six thousand measures ... are found to be one hundred fifty ritual baths of purity. Four thousand measures equal one hundred ritual baths, and the two thousand equal fifty ritual baths. And even were you to divide everything according to the measurements by which the Sages measured, a cubit squared by three cubits high for each ritual bath, you will find it to be the same. [The lower part of] the [sea was] three cubits [high by ten cubits] square, [which] equal [one hundred square cubits equaling] one hundred ritual baths. [The upper part of] the [sea was] two cubits [high and] round [with a diameter of ten cubits and contained sufficient water for] fifty ritual baths since the square is greater than the circle by one quarter. And in Chron. II (4:5) it is written “it contained three thousand measures”? Our Rabbis explained it refers to a dry measure, since the overflow was one third of the capacity of the receptacle.

The thing to remember is that even if there are a few discrepancies in the Tanach, it is over 2500 years old and remains an utterly awesome library for those seeking to know HaShem. We worship the Eternal HaShem, not a book. In addition to our mitzvot it is our enduring emunah (active faith) in HaShem that makes us free. Ultimately, it is deveikut, our unyielding attachment to the Holy One that secures our Redemption.

There are many searching questions about G-d. But it is only fitting and proper that this should be so. Indeed, such questions enhance the greatness of G-d and show His exaltedness. G-d is so great and exalted that He is beyond our ability to understand Him. It is obviously impossible for us, with our limited human intelligence, to understand His ways. Inevitably there are things that baffle us, and this is only fitting. If G-d's ways were in accordance with the limits of our meager understanding, there would be no difference between His understanding and ours, and this is inconceivable -- Rebbe Nachman of Breslov -- Likutey Moharan II, 52

Your questions, submissions to the list, comments, and corrections are sincerely invited.

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