Solomon's Stalls

 Joseph Francis Alward  
         © Copyright 2003 

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An Apparent Contradiction

The King James Version of the Bible contains many discrepancies, contradictions, and errors. Many allegations of error are made by skeptics, and not all of them are obvious errors. The one described below can be harmonized effortlessly, or attributed to copyist error.

"And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots and twelve thousand horsemen."  (1 Kings 4:26) The author of this verse tells us that Solomon had 40,000 stalls with horses in them, and 12,000 men to ride the horses. If one horsemen was required per chariot, and each chariot was pulled by three or four horses, then these numbers make sense.  

On the other hand, 2 Chronicles reports that Solomon had 4,000 stalls for horses and chariots, and 12,000 horsemen: "And Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen."  (2 Chronicles 9:25)


An Easy Harmonization

At first sight, the skeptic might conclude there is a clear contradiction here: Kings says there are forty thousand stalls, while Chronicles claims there are only four thousand. Now let's look more closely.

If we look objectively, we see that these verses are easily harmonized by assuming that the Chronicles author is omitting information given by the Kings author, while offering information not given by Kings. Kings tells us about stalls for horses--horses only, while Chronicles tells us about (presumably different, and perhaps larger) stalls in which both horses and chariots were kept together. We thus see that the Chronicles author evidently chose not to tell its readers about the forty thousand stalls which housed only horses.  There's nothing wrong with that, the apologists say; the Chronicles authors probably figured that diligent readers who really cared would look back to Kings to get the full picture, and vice versa.

The table below summarizes the information from Kings and Chronicles:


Stalls with Horses Only

Stalls for Horses and Chariots


1 Kings 4:26


No Data Provided


2 Chronicles 9:25

No Data Provided



The New International Version of the Bible, and others, accepted the obvious and assumed that one or the other of the two verses was incorrectly transcribed. The NIV editors chose the Kings verse to be the one in error and changed "forty" to "four". This change made life easier for everyone except the King James inerrantists.

I conclude that it is not virtually 100 % certain that there is a contradiction between Kings and Chronicles as they relate to the number of horse stalls in Solomon's army.  It's probably 99.999% likely that either Kings or Chronicles is wrong, but even  a 0.001 % probability that their bible is inerrant is more than enough to justify the true-believers' faith.  After all, these are people who readily accept as true vastly more improbable stories about resurrections and talking donkeys.