2 Chronicles 9:21—Did Solomon’s ships get gold from Tarshish or from Ophir?

Problem: Here the Chronicler affirms that Solomon’s ships “went to Tarshish” and brought back gold. However, in 1 Kings 9:28 it claims they “went to Ophir” and acquired gold.

Solution: Solomon had more than one fleet of ships and they went to more than one location. Every three years they went to Tarshish (Spain) and brought back “gold, silver, ivory, apes, and monkeys” (1 Kings 10:22; cf. 2 Chron. 9:21). This appears to be different from their mission to “Ophir” (Africa) which was for “gold” (1 Kings 9:28); Ophir was renown for gold in ancient times (cf. Job 28:16; Ps. 45:9; Isa. 13:12). That Ophir is a different trip seems evident from the fact that it brought back different things. For “the ships of Hiram, which brought gold from Ophir, brought great quantities of almug wood and precious stones from Ophir” (1 Kings 10:11), as opposed to “gold, silver, ivory, apes, and monkeys” mentioned in the trip to Tarshish (1 Kings 10:22).

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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.