The Crucified Life Ministries Blog

3 or 7 years of Famine?

Biblical Contradictions

Today we introduce a new section of our website called Biblical Contradictions. People are so intent on proving the Bible wrong they come up with all kinds of supposed contradictions in scripture. When these contradictions are examined, most have obvious answers. Today we are starting this new section off with a question from a Bible Corrector regarding the following two verses:

So Gad came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Choose thee 12 Either three years’ famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; or else three days the sword of the LORD, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel. Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to him that sent me.

1 Chronicles 21:11-12 (KJB)

So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days’ pestilence in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me.

2 Samuel 24:13 (KJB)

The context of these verses that we learn from the Bible is that Satam provoked King David to perform a census on Israel. God was displeased, and David is going to be chastened for his iniquity. In the parallel verses, David is given the choice of punishment, but it seems to be inconsistent in the parallel records regarding the length of the famine.

Here we have parallel verses describing the same events, and as you can see, if you take the verses by themselves, it looks like a Biblical Contradiction is at hand. Was David in this circumstance given the option of having a 3 or 7-year famine? A famine is devastating, and the difference between 3 and 7 years is very dramatic.

There is more than one simple explanations for this simple difference in the text. As normal, the perceived differences in the text comes from only examining the near context of the verse. Looking at additional context yields some pertinent facts.

2 Samuel 21:1 (KJB) Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David inquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.

2 Samuel 21:1 (KJB)

Israel was already in the middle of three years of famine before David numbered the people of Israel and Judah. 2 Samuel 24:1–7 record the initiation of the census, but we find an additional clue in verse 8:

So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.

2 Samuel 24:8 (KJB)

According to the text, numbering the people was about a year-long process, and there is no indication that God had suspended the three-year famine before the events in chapter 24. If God combined three additional years of famine (1 Chronicles 21:12) with the three years of initial famine, and a year while the census was conducted, the resulting overall famine would have totaled about seven years (2 Samuel 24:13).

So as you can easily see that what some call a Biblical Contradiction can just as easily be two men who were moved by God to write what God told them to document. No contradiction exists in this circumstance which, is what believers should expect from God’s Word.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

2 Timothy 3:16 (KJB)

Psalm 119:160 (KJB) Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.

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