1 Samuel 16:9—What is the correct spelling of the name of David’s brother?

Problem: According to 1 Samuel 16:9, the name of David’s brother is “Shammah.” However, in 1 Chronicles 2:13 his name is “Shimea.” Which is the correct spelling?

Solution: It is not uncommon for proper names to be spelled differently due to regional patterns of pronunciation. The name in 1 Samuel 16:9 has a double “m.” This may indicate that the region of Judah tended not to pronounce the guttural letter “ayin” which appears in the spelling of the name in 1 Chronicles, and that this was compensated for by the doubling of the “m.” Perhaps this points to the 1 Chronicles spelling as the correct spelling and the 1 Samuel spelling as a reproduction of the pronunciation pattern of the region. (See Appendix 2.)

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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.