Accounting Problem with 1 Samuel 24:24 and 1 Chronicles 21:24-25?

Accounting Problem with 1 Samuel 24:24 and 1 Chronicles 21:24-25?

Question

In 2 Sam. 24:24 and 1 Chron. 21:24-25, how much was paid? A CPA would see a major discrepancy!

Answer

2 Samuel 24:24 But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.

1 Chronicles 21:24-25 But King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will buy them for the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” So David paid Ornan 600 shekels of gold by weight for the site.

It is true that in the texts you cite there appears at first glance to be two conflicting records. And they also possibly identify another problem as well – who actually owned the land?

These texts are often used to challenge the inerrancy and authority of the Scriptures. As shown above they pose two problems to the reader: (1) Who owned the land, Araunah or Ornan? (2) How much did David pay him?

In response to the first question, there are numerous possibilities. For instance, it is possible that Ornan also went by the name Araunah. Having and being called by more than one name was common in that day as it is today as well. It is also possible that Araunah is a title rather than a proper name. Also, if Araunah wasn’t a Hebrew but rather a Canaanite, when his name was translated into Hebrew this could have resulted in some variation of spelling. Strong’s Lexicon (#728), identifies Araunah as an "orthographical variation" of Ornan. These are each reasonable explanations. So, I don’t observe a discrepancy in the text.

As to the second, there’s a lot of difference between 50 shekels of silver (2 Sam. 24:24) and 600 of gold (1 Chron. 21:24-25). Any CPA looking at a ledger would immediately see these differences. However, there is no discrepancy. 1 Chronicles 21:1 states, "Then David said, 'Here shall be the house of the Lord God and here the altar of burnt offering for Israel.'" While the smaller 50 shekels of silver refers to only the threshing floor itself, the 600-gold figure included the land surrounding the threshing floor for "the house of the Lord God" – a rather large piece of property (cf. 2 Chron. 3:3-4). The figure may also have included the land for Solomon’s future palace and numerous other buildings referred to in 1 Kings 7-8 as well. So, once again there is no discrepancy in the text.

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).