2 Samuel 2:10—How could Ishbosheth have reigned only two years when 2 Samuel 5:5 says David reigned for seven and one half years?

Problem: After the death of Saul, his son Ishbosheth reigned over Israel. According to 2 Samuel 2:10, Ishbosheth reigned for two years. While Ishbosheth reigned in Israel, Judah followed after David (2 Sam. 2:10). After Ishbosheth was killed, the people of Israel came to David to crown him king of all Israel. However, according to 2 Samuel 5:5, David reigned in Hebron for seven and one-half years. How could David have reigned over Judah for seven and one-half years when Ishbosheth reigned over Israel for only two years?

Solution: Although Ishbosheth was eventually crowned king of Israel, this did not take place until five years after the death of Saul. The Philistines had been a major obstacle in uniting the ten tribes of Israel and establishing Israel under the reign of Ishbosheth. Once the armies of Israel under Abner’s direction had sufficiently driven back the Philistines, Abner set up Ishbosheth as king over Israel. During the entire period of Abner’s conflicts with the Philistines, and during the two years of Ishbosheth’s reign, David reigned as king of Judah.

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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.