1 Samuel 16:10—Did Jesse have eight sons as indicated in this verse, or only seven as indicated in 1 Chronicles 2:13–15?

Problem: Although 1 Samuel 16 only names the three oldest brothers of David, verse 10 states that Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel before he brought David out. However, 1 Chronicles 2:13–15 indicates that David was the seventh son of Jesse. How many sons did Jesse have?

Solution: The passage in 1 Chronicles records the names of seven sons of Jesse, perhaps because one of David’s brothers died, and his name was not preserved as late as the composing of 1 Chronicles. It is not an uncommon practice for the surviving children to speak of their family in terms of the remaining number, so that any member of a family which would have been composed of eight sons, identifies himself as one of a group of seven brothers. This would very likely be the case in David’s family if the brother had died before marriage, leaving no posterity, and had made no significant contribution during the rise and reign of David. There would have been no reason to retain his name among the genealogical records of the sons of Jesse.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.