Q&A: Solomon's Stalls - 40,000 or 4000 ?

Solomon's Stalls - 40,000 or 4000 ?

Question

How many stalls did Solomon have - 40,000 or 4000? 1 Kings 4:26 and 2 Chronicles 9:25

Answer

1 Kings 4:26 (KJV) And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.

2 Chronicles 9:25 Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horses, which he kept in the chariot cities and also with him in Jerusalem.

There is apparently a copyist error. In Hebrew language, the vowels are not written in the text. So, when we examine the consonants: (1) for the number 40 (rbym,) and (2) for the number 4 (rbh), we note that they are very similar. Therefore, an error is likely because of a damaged text, etc. Though the ratios work better in the Chronicles passage (4000/1400) than in the Kings passage (40,000/1400), we do not know the exact number.

Dillard states:

The number of Solomons chariot horses is surrounded by a thicket of textual difficulties; a somewhat oversimplified chart of the data from the relevant passages is presented below:
MT:

4,000 stalls for chariot horses
1,400 chariots
40,000 stalls for chariot horses
1,400 chariots

G:

4,000 stalls for chariot horses
1,400 chariots
40,000 stalls for chariot horses
4,000 stalls for chariot horses

Assuming one horse to a stall and teams of two, the ratio of four thousand stalls to fourteen hundred chariots would allow for spare animals and would be a plausible figure; however, the diversity and interrelatedness of the variants suggests a basic difficulty in the history of transmission, such that it is not possible to speak with confidence regarding the original text.


Reference

Dillard, R.B. Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 15, 2 Chronicles. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1988.(p 74).

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).