Example Bible Contradictions
This page is a growing collection of Bible contradictions. Together they show it is unreasonable to affirm that everything in the Bible is inspired. The examples are taken from a widely used, modern, translation of the Bible, the New International Version.
Contradictions to Study
For now this page lists contradictions in their order of appearance. More contradictions will be added.
Question: Who were Esau's wives?
Esau married 1) Judith and 2) Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite when he was 40 years old and living in Canaan.
Later, while still living in Canaan, Esau also married 3) Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael.
(Genesis 28:6-9 NIV)
(Genesis 28:6-9 KJV)
Later in Genesis Esau's wives are different. Esau's wives are said to be 1) Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, 2) Oholibamah, and 3) Basemath the daughter of Ishmael.
(Genesis 36:2-3 NIV)
None of these are the same wives he married earlier. This is confusing, especially since this list of wives is said to be the same wives he took while living in Canaan and not a list of wives taken later, say, after moving to Seir.
Who were Esau's wives? The answer is unknowable, technically, because inspiration does not allow picking sides on a contradiction.
Question: Who selected the officials set over the people?
Moses selected officials to be set over the 1000s, 100s, 50s, and 10s of people.
15Moses said to his father-in-law, Because the people come to me to inquire of god. 16When they have a controversy they come to me and I judge between one and another and I make them know the commandments of god and his laws.
17Moses' father-in-law said to him, The thing that you are doing is not good. 18You will surely wear yourself out, both you and all this people that is with you, for this thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone. 19Listen now to my voice. I will give you counsel and god will be with you. You must become a teacher from god to the people, to bring their disputes before god. 20You will warn them to preserve the commandments and laws that you may show them how to conduct themselves and the works that they must do. 21Also you will provide out of all the people able men who fear god, truthful men who hate bribes and deceit, and appoint such over them to be rulers of 1,000s of 100s of 50s and of 10s. 22Let them judge the people at all times. When they have an important matter let them come to you, but every small matter they will judge for themselves, so it will be easier for you and they will bear the burden with you. 23If you will do this thing, and god commands you so, then you will be able to endure and all this people will also go each to his own house in peace.
24Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had told him. 25Moses chose able men out of all Israel and appointed them heads over the people, rulers of 1,000s of 100s of 50s and of 10s. 26They judged the people at all times. The hard cases they brought to Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves. (Exodus 18:13-26 BRB)
15Moses answered him, "Because the people come to me to seek God's will. 16Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God's decrees and laws."
17Moses' father-in-law replied, "What you are doing is not good. 18You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people's representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. 21But select capable men from all the people -- men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain -- and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied."
24Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.
(Exodus 18:13-26 NIV)
(Exodus 18:13-26 KJV)
The people selected officials to be set over the 1000s, 100s, 50s and 10s and Moses merely approved their selection.
14You answered and said to me, The thing that you spoke is good for us to do.
15I took the heads of your tribes, wise men and renowned, and made them heads over you, heads over 1,000s and heads over 100s and heads over 50 and heads over 10 and scribes for your tribes. 16I commanded your judges at that time saying, Hear the causes between your brothers, and judge righteously between a man and his brother, and the settler that is with him. 17You will not be partial to persons in judgment, but you will hear the small as well as the great, you will not be afraid of the face of man, for the judgment is god's, and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it to me, and I will hear it. 18I commanded you at that time all the things that you should do. (Deuteronomy 1:9-18 BRB)
14You answered me, "What you propose to do is good."
15So I took the leading men of your tribes, wise and respected men, and appointed them to have authority over you -- as commanders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens and as tribal officials. 16And I charged your judges at that time: Hear the disputes between your brothers and judge fairly, whether the case is between brother Israelites or between one of them and an alien. 17Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of any man, for judgment belongs to God. Bring me any case too hard for you, and I will hear it. 18And at that time I told you everything you were to do.
(Deuteronomy 1:9-18 NIV)
(Deuteronomy 1:9-18 KJV)
Who selected the officials set over the people? The answer is unknowable, technically, because inspiration does not allow picking sides on a contradiction.
Spying Out the Land
Question: Whose idea was it to spy out the land?
The LORD told Moses to send a spy from each of the 12 tribes into Canaan to spy out the land.
(Numbers 13:1-2 NIV)
The idea to spy out the land was the people's and the idea to send a man from each of the 12 tribes was Moses'.
23The saying pleased me well and I took 12 men of you, 1 man of each tribe, (Deuteronomy 1:22-23 BRB)
23The idea seemed good to me; so I selected twelve of you, one man from each tribe. (Deuteronomy 1:22-23 NIV)
Whose idea was it to spy out the land? The answer is unknowable, technically, because inspiration does not allow picking sides on a contradiction.
Cities of Refuge
Question: Who set up cities of refuge east of the Jordan?
The LORD told Moses to tell the Israelites that when they crossed the Jordan river into the land of Canaan they were to set up cities of refuge. Moses, of course, was not around by the time they crossed the river (see Deuteronomy 31:2), which is why he passed this task onto the Israelites. They were to set up 3 cities east of the Jordan and 3 west of the Jordan.
(Numbers 35:9-15 NIV)
Moses set up the 3 cities of refuge east of the Jordan after that area had been conquered, but well before anyone crossed the Jordan into the land of Canaan. This contradicts Moses telling others to do this at a later date.
(Deuteronomy 4:41-43 NIV)
(Deuteronomy 4:41-43 KJV)
After conquering Canaan Joshua son of Nun set up the 6 cities of refuge as per the instructions from Moses. He set up the 3 cities on the west side first and then also set up the 3 cities on the east side.
Who set up cities of refuge east of the Jordan? The answer is unknowable, technically, because inspiration does not allow picking sides on a contradiction.
Choosing a King
Question: Did the LORD want the people to have a king?
Moses wrote clear instructions on how to set a king over the people and never denigrates the act, suggesting this was right or at least acceptable behavior. The rules for the king included choosing the king the LORD chooses, not allowing a foreigner to be king, not allowing the king to become materially rich and requiring the king to make himself a copy of the scriptures and read them every day (enforced by who by the way?).
18Whenever he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he will write for himself a copy of this law in a scroll out of what is before the priests and the Levites, 19and it will be with him and he will read from it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Master his god, to preserve all the words of this law, and these commandments, to do them, 20that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandments, not to the right hand nor to the left, so that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his sons, in the middle of Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:14-20 BRB)
18When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. 19It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees 20and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.
(Deuteronomy 17:14-20 NIV)
(Deuteronomy 17:14-20 KJV)
About 400 years later, when the Israelites asked the prophet Samuel to set a king over them, he thought this was fundamentally wrong and prayed about it rather than just cite the instructions supposedly provided beforehand by Moses for this very scenario. The LORD agreed with Samuel, not Moses, explaining the people wanting a man to be king was evidence they had rejected him as their king. He also explained one reason this was so bad was all kings, as a natural effect of what a king is, would steal from the populace to support their kingdom. So it was wrong to set a king over the people and Samuel tried to dissuade them. The people did not listen to Samuel, because they were not listening to God, and in the end God told Samuel to give the people what they deserved and set a king over them.
6The thing displeased Samuel when they said to him, Give us a king to judge us like all the peoples. Samuel prayed before the Master.
7The Master said to Samuel, Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me that I should not be king over them 8according to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of the land of Mizraim to this day. They have forsaken me and served other gods, so they also do to you. 9Now listen to their voice, but testify solemnly to them and show them the manner of the king who will reign over them.
10Samuel told all the words of the Master to the people who asked of him a king. 11He said, This will be the manner of the king who will reign over you:
Your children he will take and will appoint to himself for his chariots and for his horsemen and they will run before his chariots.
12He will make to himself officers of 1,000s and 100s and 50s and 10s and they will plow his ground and reap his harvest and they will make his implements of war and instruments for his chariots.
13Your daughters he will take for weavers and grinders and bakers.
14The best of your fields and your vineyards and your oliveyards he will take and give to his servants.
15Your grain and your vineyards he will take a 10th of and will give to his eunuchs and servants.
16Your servants and your maids and your attractive young men and your donkeys he will take and make his servants.
17Your sheep he will take a 10th of and you will be servants to him.
18You will cry for help in that day because of your king whom you will have chosen for yourselves and the Master will not answer you in that day.
19The people refused to obey the voice of Samuel and said to him, No, but we will have a king over us 20that we may also be like all the peoples and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.
21Samuel heard all the words of the people and repeated them before the Master. 22The Master said to Samuel, Listen to their voice. A king will reign over them.
Samuel said to the men of Israel, Go every man to his city. (1 Samuel 8:4-22 BRB)
6But when they said, "Give us a king to lead us," this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7And the LORD told him: "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do."
10Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. 11He said, "This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day."
19But the people refused to listen to Samuel. "No!" they said. "We want a king over us. 20Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles."
21When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD. 22The LORD answered, "Listen to them and give them a king."
Then Samuel said to the men of Israel, "Everyone go back to his town."
(1 Samuel 8:4-22 NIV)
6¶But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord.displeased: Heb. was evil in the eyes of 7And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. 8According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. 9Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.hearken…: or, obeyhowbeit…: or, notwithstanding when thou hast solemnly protested against them then thou shalt
10¶And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king. 11And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. 12And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. 13And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. 14And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. 15And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.officers: Heb. eunuchs 16And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. 17He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. 18And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day.
19¶Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; 20That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles. 21And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the Lord. 22And the Lord said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city.
(1 Samuel 8:4-22 KJV)
Did the LORD want the people to have a king? The answer is unknowable, technically, because inspiration does not allow picking sides on a contradiction.
Saul and David
Question: When did Saul and David meet?
According to the following story in 1st Samuel chapter 16 David was hired by King Saul to play the harp to soothe him with music because he was being tormented with an evil spirit. In time David also became his armor bearer. At the time David was hired he already had a reputation for being a brave man and a warrior. Saul sent personally to his father Jesse in Bethlehem to hire David and sent to him a second time to say that he wanted to keep David.
15Saul's servants said to him, Your servants are before you. 16Let our master command his servants to seek out a man who can play well on the harp and when the evil spirit is on you he will play with his hands and you will be well.
17Saul said to his servants, Provide me now a man who can play well and bring him to me.
181 of the young men answered and said, I have seen a son of Jesse the Beth Lehemite who is skilful in playing and a mighty valiant man, a man of war and prudent in speech, a handsome man and the Master is with him.
19Therefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, Send me David your son, he will be useful to me. 20Jesse took a donkey laden with bread and a skin of wine and a kid of goats and sent them by David his son to Saul.
21David came to Saul and stood before him and he loved him greatly and he became his armorbearer. 22Saul sent to Jesse saying, Let David attend me for he has found favor in my sight.
23Whenever the spirit from god was on Saul, David took the harp and played on it, so Saul was refreshed and was well and the evil spirit departed from him. (1 Samuel 16:14-23 BRB)
15Saul's attendants said to him, "See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. 16Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the harp. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes upon you, and you will feel better."
17So Saul said to his attendants, "Find someone who plays well and bring him to me."
18One of the servants answered, "I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the harp. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the LORD is with him."
19Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, "Send me your son David, who is with the sheep." 20So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them with his son David to Saul.
21David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers. 22Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, "Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him."
23Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.
(1 Samuel 16:14-23 NIV)
19¶Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David thy son, which is with the sheep. 20And Jesse took an ass laden with bread, and a bottle of wine, and a kid, and sent them by David his son unto Saul. 21And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armourbearer. 22And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, Let David, I pray thee, stand before me; for he hath found favour in my sight. 23And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.
(1 Samuel 16:14-23 KJV)
Later, when David was preparing to go out against Goliath, Saul did not know who he was, or, at least, who his father was.
Abner said, As your soul lives king, I do not know.
56The king said, Inquire whose son this young man is.
57When David returned after he had killed the Philistine Abner took him and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. 58Saul said to him, Whose son are you young man?
David said to him, I am the son of your servant Jesse the Beth Lehemite. (1 Samuel 17:55-58 BRB)
Abner replied, "As surely as you live, O king, I don't know."
56The king said, "Find out whose son this young man is."
57As soon as David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with David still holding the Philistine's head.
58"Whose son are you, young man?" Saul asked him.
David said, "I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem."
(1 Samuel 17:55-58 NIV)
(1 Samuel 17:55-58 KJV)
When did Saul and David meet? The answer is unknowable, technically, because inspiration does not allow picking sides on a contradiction.
Question: Where did David take the giant's head?
David took the severed head of the giant to Jerusalem.
(1 Samuel 17:54 NIV)
(1 Samuel 17:54 KJV)
David presented the severed head of the giant to Saul after the battle.
(1 Samuel 17:57 NIV)
Where did David take the giant's head? The answer is unknowable, technically, because inspiration does not allow picking sides on a contradiction.
Question: Where did David put the giant's sword?
David put the weapons of the giant in his own tent.
(1 Samuel 17:54 NIV)
(1 Samuel 17:54 KJV)
David acquired the sword of the giant later on from a priest in the town of Nob (see 1st Samuel 21:1).
9The priest said, The sword of Goliath the Philistine whom you killed in the valley of Elah is here, wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you wish to take that take it, for there is no other but that here.
David said, There is none like that. Give it to me. (1 Samuel 21:8-9 BRB)
9The priest replied, "The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, is here; it is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you want it, take it; there is no sword here but that one."
David said, "There is none like it; give it to me."
(1 Samuel 21:8-9 NIV)
(1 Samuel 21:8-9 KJV)
Where did David put the giant's sword? The answer is unknowable, technically, because inspiration does not allow picking sides on a contradiction.
Question: Who stood up against Moses?
Many times in the stories of Moses crowds of people complained to him or otherwise quarreled with him. Save one occassion Moses always left the identity of these people anonymous.
Three individuals lead an open rebellion against Moses. They threatened to fork the entire assembly, but met their fate before getting too far. Moses wrote about the ordeal and included their names. The three who opposed him were 1) Korah, 2) Dathan and 3) Abiram.
Much later, in the New Testament period, Jude referred to the rebellion of Korah which Moses had written about.
(Jude 1:11 NIV)
The apostle Paul, writing his disciple Timothy, also spoke of the individuals who opposed Moses, but said they were 1) Jannes and 2) Jambres.
Who stood up against Moses? The answer is unknowable, technically, because inspiration does not allow picking sides on a contradiction.