A Contradiction in the Bible? Was King David the 7th or 8th Son of Jesse?

Question

A contradiction in the Bible? Was King David the 7th or 8th son of Jesse?

Answer

This is a favorite question of skeptics. In 1 Samuel, we are clearly told that David is Jesse's eighth son, but a verse in 1 Chronicles seems to contradict this. 1 Samuel 16:6-10, records Jesse presenting his seven sons to Samuel. When the Lord told Samuel that these seven were not acceptable to Him, Samuel asked Jesse if he had any other children. Jesse told Samuel about David, his youngest and his eighth son.

"Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, 'The LORD has not chosen these.' And Samuel said to Jesse, 'Are all the young men here?' Then he said, 'There remains yet the youngest [Jesse’s eighth son], and there he is, keeping the sheep.'" (1 Samuel 16:10-11)

David is also described as the youngest of eight sons in 1 Samuel 17:12-14.

"Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehemjudah, whose name was Jesse; and he had eight sons: and the man went among men for an old man in the days of Saul. And the three eldest sons of Jesse went and followed Saul to the battle: and the names of his three sons that went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next unto him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. And David was the youngest: and the three eldest followed Saul." (1 Samuel 17:12-14)

So why in 1 Chronicles 2 do we read of David being called the seventh son? Both of these accounts agree that David was the youngest of Jesse's sons, but was he Jesse's seventh or eighth son? Skeptics love to point this out and say the Bible contradicts itself and therefore can't be trusted. We know that isn't true and, since we begin by believing the Bible and trusting in God's promise that His word is pure and preserved, we are able to find an answer to any skeptic's accusations.

We start with what the Bible clearly states: David was Jesse's eighth son. That couldn't be more obvious from 1 Samuel. We then must wonder why 1 Chronicles lists only seven sons. Note that it doesn't say Jesse had only seven sons, it simply lists seven. We can easily reason that the name of one of Jesse's sons was omitted from the genealogy in 1 Chronicles. There are answers for why this might have been done.

David–the 7th or 8th son?

The book of 1 Chronicles is a record of the kings of Israel. Chapter 1 is a genealogical table beginning with Adam and ending with the sons of Esau, the son of Isaac. Chapter 2 begins with the second son of Isaac, Jacob. Remember, his name was changed by God to Israel and he became the father of 12 sons who became the tribes of Israel.

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