Answering 439 Bible Contradictions: #10
Answer: Absalom rebelled against his father David four years after he began administering justice at the city gate in Jerusalem.
Problem: Most English versions (ESV, NIV, NET, HCSB) translate Absalom’s rebellion in 2 Samuel 15:7 as happening “four years” after his return to Jerusalem, though some versions (KJV, NASB, NKJV) say it took place after “forty years.”
Explanation: While the traditional Hebrew text does say “forty years”, the better reading is most likely “four years” in agreement with the ancient Greek (LXX), Syriac and Latin (Vulgate) texts. Context suggests it highly unlikely it took Absalom forty years to prepare his rebellion. David began his reign at thirty years old (2 Sam. 5:4) and reigned a total of forty years, seven and a half of those were over Judah in Hebron (2 Sam. 5:5) and the latter thirty-three from Jerusalem. “Forty years” could not therefore refer to the time of David’s reign.
We conclude then that four years after Joab brought David’s son to Jerusalem, Absalom began his rebellion against his father David. Context and manuscript evidence makes this a logical conclusion. The new atheists like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins love spelunking for errors in Scripture to debunk a God they do not believe exists. Is this the best they can do?