Bible contradictions often rank as one of the top reasons for rejecting the Christian faith. After all, how could an all-knowing and all-powerful God have flaws and inconsistences in His written Word? This article will debunk the so-called contradictions. This list is not exhaustive at the moment, and the author will add more examples as he becomes aware of them (if you have one not-mentioned here, contact us about it).
Scripture verses will be in orange, with the response in black. All verses are from the King James Version – with updated language (such as replacing ‘thy’ with ‘your’) – unless stated otherwise.
1 Samuel 31:4-5 Then said Saul unto his armour bearer, Draw your sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armour bearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. And when his armour bearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him.
2 Samuel 1:5-10 And David said unto the young man that told him, How know you that Saul and Jonathan his son be dead? And the young man that told him said, As I happened by chance upon mount Gilboa, behold, Saul leaned upon his spear; and, lo, the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him. And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called unto me. And I answered, Here am I. And he [Saul] said unto me, Who are you? And I answered him, I am an Amalekite. He said unto me again, Stand, I pray you, upon me, and slay me: for anguish has come upon me, because my life is yet whole in me. So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen: and I took the crown that was upon his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them here unto my lord.
The account in 1 Samuel simply says that Saul took his sword and fell upon it – it does not say that Saul actually died from his suicide attempt. The story told by the Amalekite is therefore not contradictory: Saul attempted to kill himself but did not die from his wound. The Amalekite saw Saul still alive and killed him. Then when Saul’s amour bearer saw that Saul was dead, he committed suicide.
Even if this were contradictory, that would not mean the Bible is at fault. It simply records the Amalekite’s conversation with David where he says that he killed him. The Bible may not necessarily agree with this account.
Bible sceptics often point to the fact that the creation account in Genesis 1 is different from that in Genesis 2. For example, in Genesis 1:12 trees were created before man, and in Genesis 2:9, trees were created after man. But the answer to this is quite simple: Genesis 1 describes the overall creation of everything and Genesis 2 describes only the creation of the Garden of Eden. Presumably, man was to observe the Garden of Eden being made so he would know Who made it.
1 Kings 7:23 And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.
2 Chronicles 4:2 Also he made a molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass, and five cubits the height thereof; and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.
If the metal sea was ten cubits in diameter, then it could not have been 30 cubits in circumference – it would have to be 31.4 cubits. So is this a blatant error, giving the value of pi as 3.0? No; there are a few answers to this.
Answer 1: The Bible may have rounded the diameter and circumference to the nearest whole number. If the diameter was somewhere between 9.5 and 10.5, and the circumference was somewhere between 29.5 and 30.5, those numbers would have been rounded to 10 and 30. This is definitely acceptable. So the value of pi as given in the Bible could be anywhere from 2.81 to 3.21 depending what the measurements were before rounding.
Answer 2: In 1 Kings 7:26, it tells us that the brim of the sea was like a lily with the brim curving away from the centre of the sea: “And it was an hand breadth thick, and the brim thereof was wrought like the brim of a cup, with flowers of lilies: it contained two thousand baths.” So it is possible that the diameter is a measure of brim-to-brim (as Kings says) and the circumference is a measure around the sea below the wider brim.
It is actually quite silly to say the Bible gets the value of pi wrong. Pi is an irrational number meaning it is infinite in length (it is non-terminating and non-repeating). According to the critic’s logic, a value like 3.14 would be wrong because it is not even more accurate like 3.14159.
1 Kings 4:26 And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.
2 Chronicles 9:25 And Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen; whom he bestowed in the chariot cities, and with the king at Jerusalem.
1 Kings tells us how many horses Solomon had (forty thousand) but it does not say how many chariots there were. 2 Chronicles explains that Solomon had four thousand horses and chariots. So there were forty thousand stalls for the horses alone, and there were four thousand other stalls for horses and chariots. The obvious conclusion is that there were 10 horses per chariot.
Genesis 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
Genesis 6:5-6 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
Claiming this is a contradiction is like saying ‘You liked pizza 20 years ago but you don’t now. Contradiction!’ God was pleased with His perfect creation in Genesis 1, but was not pleased when man began to sin badly in Genesis 6.
Genesis 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.
Genesis 5:5 And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.
Why didn’t Adam die as soon as he ate from the tree? Simple: God was not talking in the physical sense but in the spiritual sense. His soul was separated from God by sin.
2 Samuel 10:18 And the Syrians fled before Israel; and David slew the men of seven hundred chariots of the Syrians, and forty thousand horsemen, and stroke Shobach the captain of their host, who died there.
1 Chronicles 19:18 But the Syrians fled before Israel; and David slew of the Syrians seven thousand men which fought in chariots, and forty thousand footmen, and killed Shophach the captain of the host.
2 Samuel tells us that David slew an unknown number of men who fought in seven hundred chariots. 1 Chronicles tells us that David slew seven thousand men which fought in an unknown number of chariots. Clearly, there were ten men in each chariot.
Genesis 1:26-27 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Genesis 2:7, 21-22 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. ... And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
Genesis 1 is an overview of what happened while Genesis 2 explains it in more detail. And Genesis 1 does not say that man and woman were created at the same time – only that they were created.
Genesis 7:1 And the LORD said unto Noah, Come you and all your house into the ark; for you have I seen righteous before me in this generation.
Job 2:3 And the LORD said unto Satan, Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and turns away from evil? ...
Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
How can Noah and Job be righteous when no-one is righteous? Romans is contrasting man’s ‘righteousness’ with God’s perfect righteousness, and, of course, we don’t fare well at all. Genesis and Job are contrasting the righteousness of Noah and Job with other men.
Genesis 11:26 And Terah lived seventy years, and brings forth Abram, Nahor, and Haran [a person].
Genesis 11:32 And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran [a place].
Genesis 12:4 So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.
Acts 7:4 Then came he [Abram] out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran [Haran]: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein all of you now dwell.
Genesis 12 and Acts 7 tell us that Abram was 75 when he left Haran, and that his father (Terah) was dead at the time. Yet because Abram was born when Terah was 70 (Genesis 11:26), Abram would have been 135 when Terah died. So on one hand, Abram was 75 and his father was dead, and on the other hand, Abram was 135 when his father died.
Is this a contradiction? Not at all. Notice how Genesis 11:26 says Terah lived 70 years and brings forth Abram, Nahor, and Haran. So Abram may have been the last child Terah had among the three, and the reference to Terah’s age is simply when he stated having children – not when he actually had Abram.
Genesis 10:5, 20, 31 By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations. ... These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations. ... These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations.
Genesis 11:1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
The genealogies mentioned in Genesis 10 span many centuries when there were different languages. The phrase “every one after his tongue” does not necessarily apply to all people mentioned in the genealogies – only ‘every one’ who lived in the ‘Isles of the Gentiles’ or ‘every one’ who had a different tongue (language).
Genesis 7:2 Of every clean beast you shall take to you by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.
Genesis 7:8-9 Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creeps upon the earth, There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah.
On the one hand, Genesis 7:2 says that there shall be seven of every clean beast, and on the other hand, Genesis 7:8-9 is telling us that both the unclean and clean went in ‘two and two’. But there is no contradiction here. There are seven clean animals overall, but they just entered the Ark two abreast.
The popular science magazine, New Scientist, declared that the Bible’s mathematics is ‘poor’ because it counts Shemaiah’s five sons, Huttush, Igal, Bariah, Neriah, and Shaphat, as six (1 Chronicles 3:22). It is clear the author never even read the verse. The whole verse reads: “And the sons of Shechaniah; Shemaiah: and the sons of Shemaiah; Hattush, and Igeal, and Bariah, and Neariah, and Shaphat, six.” Clearly, the number six is counting the descendants of Shechaniah which included Shemaiah.