Did David Cause 3 or 7 Years of Famine
Some websites claim that there is a contradiction in the Bible between 2 Samuel 24:13 and 1 Chronicles 21:11-12. 2 Samuel says that there will be seven years of famine, whereas 1 Chronicles mentions only three years of famine. Is this a Bible contradiction or can these verses be reconciled? Here are the two passages in question.
2 Samuel 24:13 “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.”
1 Chronicles 21:11-12 “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.”
Bible Contradiction Solved
The solution is really simple. Four years of famine had already taken place by the time that this message was given to David. Gad went to David and gave him the prophecy from the Lord. Then Gad asked David if he preferred seven full years of famine or the other options? Not buying it yet? Follow me on this one.
2 Samuel 24:13 says something strange when read from the King James Version (many newer versions cut this out even though it shows up in the Hebrew). Verse 13 says Gad “told him and said unto him”. Clearly a distinction was being made between the words of God and the words of Gad (no pun intended).
2 Samuel 24:13 So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land?
In other words, not everything Gad said to David was from the Lord. This is important, because God specifically said three years.
Four Previous Years of Famine
How do we know that there had been four previous years of famine? We get the four previous years of famine from the following two verses. 2 Samuel 21:1 declares that there had been three years of famine in the land. We then learn in 2 Samuel 24:8 that it took David nine months and twenty days to number Israel.
2Sa 21:1 “Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David enquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.”
2Sa 24:8 So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.
This leaves us with a remaining two months and a week of missing time. Did Gad round up or was there two months between the time that David finished numbering Israel and when Gad came to speak to David? At this point it makes no difference. The Bible is once again shown to be without error.
Don’t forget to check out the Bible Contradiction audio series below.