Q&A: Large Number of Sacrifices - 2 Chronicles 7:5

Large Number of Sacrifices - 2 Chronicles 7:5

Question

One of my professors, an atheist, states the Bible is unreliable as there are "impossibilities" recorded in it. One such impossibility he has mentioned is the huge number of sacrifices in 2 Chronicles 7:5.

Answer

2 Chronicles 7:5 And King Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty-two thousand head of cattle and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep and goats. So the king and all the people dedicated the temple of God.
The number of sacrifices in 2 Chronicles 7:5 (1 Kings 8:62-64) presumably provided food for Israel during the time of the celebration (2 Chron. 7:8-10). If taken literally, the huge amount of sacrifices would have required approximately twenty sacrifices per minute for ten hours a day for twelve days (J. W. Wenham, "Large Numbers in the Old Testament"). So, the Chronicler may have been speaking in hyperbole. Or, since the single bronze altar was not sufficient for this number of sacrifices, after consecrating the court (1 Kings 8:64), Solomon could have set up a series of auxiliary altars to assist, and the Levites may have assisted the priests (2 Chron. 29:32-36).

Since God cannot lie (Tit. 1:2), all Scripture is true (2 Tim. 3:16). So, when there may appear to be an inconsistency or an impossibility in Scripture, it simply means our interpretation and/or understanding of it is in error.

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).