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Allow me to explain (7 of 439)

December 22, 2010

Backstory is here. Past explanations are here.

7. How long was the ark of the covenant at Abinadab’s house? 1 Sam 7:1-2, 10:24 vs 2 Sam 6:2-3, Acts 13:21

This is another one that’s almost harder to understand as a contradiction than not.

1 Samuel 7:1-2//
And the men of Kiriath-jearim came, and fetched up the ark of Jehovah, and brought it into the house of Abinadab in the hill, and sanctified Eleazar his son to keep the ark of Jehovah.2 And it came to pass, from the day that the ark abode in Kiriath-jearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after Jehovah.

1 Samuel 10:24//
And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the Lord hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king.

2 Samuel 6:2-3//
And David arose and went with all the people who were with him to Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God which is called by the Name, the very name of the Lord of hosts who is enthroned above the cherubim.3 They placed the ark of God on a new cart that they might bring it from the house of Abinadab which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were leading the new cart.

Acts 13:21//
And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years.

First, allow me to explain the suspected contradiction:

1 Samuel 7 seems to say that the ark was at Abinadab’s for twenty years. 1 Samuel 10 notes Saul becoming king, after the reference to the ark being at Abinadab’s.

2 Samuel 6 says that David brought the ark away from Abinadab’s pad, and we know that David was king after Saul. Acts 13 tell us Saul was king for 40 years.

So it looks like 1 Samuel says the ark was at Abinadab’s for 20 years, before Saul become king. 2 Samuel and Acts 13 say that David brought the ark from Abinadab’s, which would have been about 40 years later.

The trouble with the “contradiction,” though, is that 1 Samuel doesn’t say anything about the ark leaving Abinadab’s house. The reader who understands this as a contradiction assumes that, “it was twenty years,” refers to the total amount of time the ark spent at Abinadab’s. But there’s no reason to assume that.

The next verse in 1 Samuel 7 begins, “Then …” It would be reasonable to assume that the, “Then” of verse three is the end of the twenty year period.

If I said, for example, I lived in Illinois for 22 years, then I got married, you wouldn’t automatically assume that I moved out of Illinois after 22 years. You’d just know that after living in Illinois for 22 years I got married.

Verse 3 says,

Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the Lord, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.”

The ark was at Abinadab’s house for 20 years, then Samuel prophesied and there was revival in Israel. The Ark stayed at Abinadab’s until 40+ years later when King David went and got it.

Short answer: About 60 years

There may be enough detail in the Old Testament to figure out the exact number of years, but I’m not going to go there right now.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 23, 2010 4:09 pm

    You know, when you started this series, I assumed the people who came up with the “contradictions” had found some differences in concepts in the Bible…I wasn’t expecting a bunch of nitpicking that at best barely makes sense. What were they thinking when they made this list?? So far, none of the “contradictions” have even really had significance to the stories of the Bible or to its doctrines.

    Glad you keep at it with this, though, I find it very interesting :)


    • Lex permalink
      December 28, 2010 11:04 am

      I was kind of hoping for some theological conversation, but you’re right – so far it’s been pretty silly. Still, though, I think it’s an important conversation. The foundation of modern Christianity is that the Bible is the inspired, infalible Word of God. If there are flaws in it – however minute – it would present a problem.

      That said, I’m still holding out hope for some good ones down the road. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover still. Glad you’re enjoying it!

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