There are some Muslims who attempt to discredit the Bible on the basis of contradiction of numbers. They are quick to argue that if the Holy Bible is truly God's Word, then it would contain no numerical errors because God is perfect. It is true: God is perfect. However, man is not. And though it was God who revealed the Scriptures in perfect fashion, it was the hand of man that copied the manuscripts from one generation to the next. And since man is imperfect, there are bound to be mistakes in his work. We call these mistakes copyist errors because they most likely were made during the laborious and tedious task of duplicating the scriptures for wider distribution. An example of this type of error are the following verses taken from the King James version of the Bible:
And David took from him a thousand chariots, and seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen.
II Samuel 8:4
And David took from him a thousand chariots, and seven thousand horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen.
I Chronicles 18:4
It is clear that the first verse speaks of 700 horsemen, and the other 7000 horsemen -- a difference of 6300. Such errors in the Old Testament can be found in other passages and are attributed to the fact that many of the Hebrew characters of numbers closely resembled one another. Thus it was easy to mistake one number for another during the process of copying. It was also easy to misplace a zero that could account for the difference between 7000 and 700. These errors are believed to have been nonexistent in the original scriptures. It is also important to point out to the Muslim that such errors do not affect the great doctrinal teachings of the scriptures. For example, a similar contradiction of numbers can be found in the Qur'an. Notice the following verses:
... in the end will (all affairs) go up to Him (God) on a Day, the space whereof will be (as) a thousand years of your reckoning.
Surat-us Sajda (32):5
The angels and the Spirit ascend unto Him (God) in a Day, the measure whereof is (as) fifty thousand years. Surat-ul Ma'arij (70):4
It appears that one verse speaks of a Day with God equivalent to one thousand years, whereas the other verse equates a Day to fifty thousand years. Yet, in no way does this detract from the Qur'anic teaching that God is merciful and compassionate, and ready to forgive at all times. In like manner, the difference of 6300 horsemen does not detract from the Biblical teaching that God has revealed His mercy and compassion through Jesus the Messiah in whom there is redemption and forgiveness of sins!
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