2 Chronicles 16:1—How can this verse say Baasha king of Israel built Ramah in the thirty-sixth year of the reign of Asa?
Problem: Asa began his reign in about 911 b.c. The thirty-sixth year of his reign would have been about 876 or 875 b.c. However, Baasha began his reign in 909 and reigned until 886 b.c. when Elah his son became king (1 Kings 16:8). How could 2 Chronicles 16:1 say Baasha built Ramah in the thirty-sixth year of Asa, 11 years after Baasha’s death?
Solution: The number “thirty-six” is undoubtedly a copyist error. The actual number was probably “sixteen.” This error is explained by the fact that the numbers were probably written in numerical notation. In this type of notation, the difference between the letter representing the number 10 xx and the letter representing the number 30 xx was only two small strokes at the top of the letter. It is quite possible that a copyist misread the original and wrote the wrong letter for the number, possibly as the result of a smudged or damaged manuscript at his disposal.
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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.