Contradictions

Originally available only on the Web, this series tackling the supposed contradictions in God’s Word is now also available in book form.

The relevant passages are:

Jeremiah 52:31
Now it came to pass in the thirty-seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-fifth day of the month, that Evil-Merodach king of Babylon, in the first year of his reign, lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah and brought him out of prison.
2 Kings 25:27
Now it came to pass in the thirty-seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, that Evil-Merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison.

Many Christians assume that this alleged discrepancy is a “copyist mistake” because it involves numbers. Numbers would be, after all, a reasonable mistake when copying from another manuscript. In fact, if one were to search books or the Internet on this alleged contradiction, the likely answer given by Christians is that this is a copyist mistake.

However, before one assumes this, I suggest we take a closer look at what these two verses are saying. In both verses, the passages have some portions that are identical and others that are not; the form is below:

Now it came to pass in the thirty-seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month [date] that Evil-Merodach king of Babylon, in the first year of his reign, . . . [further information].

This would be a legitimate contradiction, or perhaps a copyist mistake, if the date were different, but the further information were identical. But this is not the case, and accordingly, the further information proves very significant in this case. So, let’s take a closer look at this further information.

Jeremiah 52:31 has on the date of the 25 that the King of Babylon “lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah and brought him out of prison.” On the other hand, 2 Kings 25:27 has on the 27 that the King of Babylon “released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison.

These are two different dates, indeed, because they are referring to two different instances. On the 25, the King of Babylon gives the decree to release Jehoiachin king of Judah. But it took a couple of days for Jehoiachin king of Judah to actually be released.

Hence, this is no contradiction; rather, the Bible is actually being much more specific in the details than the reader may first realize. Even in today’s culture, if a prisoner is pardoned by a governing official like the President, it takes time before the person is released from prison—the orders need to be verified, paperwork filed, etc. So, two days is not unreasonable.

This should be a lesson to Christians, too. When an alleged contradiction is brought to our attention, the first place we should look is the Scriptures themselves and think logically about the verses in question.

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