2 Samuel 8:4—Did David capture 1,700 horsemen or 7,000 as 1 Chronicles 18:4 says?

Problem: After David had defeated Hadadezer, he took prisoners from Hadadezer’s army. According to 2 Samuel 8:4, David captured “one thousand, seven hundred horsemen” (the word “chariots” added by some translations is not in the Hebrew text). However, the passage in 1 Chronicles 18:4 states that David captured 7,000 horsemen. Which number is correct?

Solution: This is undoubtedly a copyist error. Probably an early copyist inadvertently omitted the word “chariot” that we find supplied in some translations. This in turn created a problem for a later copyist who would have recognized that it was not proper Hebrew structure to write “one thousand seven thousand horsemen,” so he would have reduced the second “thousand” to “hundred” resulting in the reading we now have in 2 Samuel 8:4. It is probably the 1 Chronicles passage that retains the correct number.

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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.