ABC:2 Chronicles 13

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Verse 1

Jim Meritt of Infidels.org claims there is a contradiction here in his section "The mother of Abijah".[1] The ReasonProject also lists this as a Bible contradiction with the headline "Who was Abijam's mother?"[2]

2 Chronicles 13:1 Now in the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam began Abijah to reign over Judah.
2 He reigned three years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Michaiah the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. And there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam.

2 Chronicles 11:20 And after her he took Maachah the daughter of Absalom; which bare him Abijah, and Attai, and Ziza, and Shelomith.
21 And Rehoboam loved Maachah the daughter of Absalom above all his wives and his concubines: (for he took eighteen wives, and threescore concubines; and begat twenty and eight sons, and threescore daughters.)
22 And Rehoboam made Abijah the son of Maachah the chief, to be ruler among his brethren: for he thought to make him king.

1 Kings 15:1 Now in the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam the son of Nebat reigned Abijam over Judah.
2 Three years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom.

As correctly pointed out by Apologetics Press author Eric Lyons, the Bible authors were not confined by today's modern English style of writing. The Old Testament authors frequently refer to descendants as the "son" or "daughter" of X descendant when they were in fact the grandson, great-grandson, granddaughter, great-granddaughter, or even further back. You see, "son" and "daughter" are modern English terms, but the Bible was not authored in English. Translators like those involved with the KJV were actually translating Hebrew words thousands of years old, and trying to find English words (which themselves are now centuries out of date) to best translate them into.

"There simply is no way of knowing how many times in the Bible the terms 'son(s)' and 'daughter(s)' are used to mean grandchildren, great-grandchildren, or some other descendant. After reading Genesis 29:5, one might think that Laban was the son of Nahor, but Genesis 24 explains that he actually was Nahor’s grandson (24:24,29; cf. 22:20-24). Consider also Mephibosheth. He is called the 'son of Saul' in 2 Samuel 19:24, when actually he was 'the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul' (2 Samuel 9:6; 4:4). He literally was Saul’s grandson, though Scripture refers to him once simply as 'son of Saul.'"

-Eric Lyons, Apologetics Press[3]

In other words, the verses complement one another, Abijah was the son of Maachah who in turn was called the descendant of both Absalom and Uriel of Gibeah. Both Absalom and Uriel are thus in her lineage. For example, if you've ever seen or read 'Narnia' you will observe they imitate the Bible's style of referring to individuals as "Son of Adam" or "Daughter of Eve".[4] As correctly pointed out by Lyons, it is not uncommon for the Bible to thus refer to a descendant as the son or daughter of someone who is descended farther back in their lineage. This is simply a stylistic language difference that can be readily observed in the Bible.

Absalom is frequently referred to as the descendant of Maachah, daughter of Talmai King of Geshur. In fact, when he fled from his father David, he went to stay with his mother's side of the family, his grandfather Talmai, King of Geshur. Gibeah thus would have been a city within the land of Geshur. Other cities said to be in Geshur included Ramah (1 Samuel 22:6) and Migron (1 Samuel 14:2), and it was near Mount Ephraim (Judges 19:16). It was said to be in Aram (translated by the KJV as Syria - 2 Samuel 15:8). The exact location of Geshur and Gibeah is disputed.

2 Samuel 3:3 And his second, Chileab, of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur;

2 Samuel 13:37 But Absalom fled, and went to Talmai, the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son every day.
38 So Absalom fled, and went to Geshur, and was there three years.

2 Samuel 15:7 And it came to pass after forty years, that Absalom said unto the king, I pray thee, let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed unto the LORD, in Hebron.
8 For thy servant vowed a vow while I abode at Geshur in Syria, saying, If the LORD shall bring me again indeed to Jerusalem, then I will serve the LORD.

1 Chronicles 3:2 The third, Absalom the son of Maachah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur: the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith:

At any rate, there's no contradiction, the Hebrew word translated son (Hebrew ben[5]) just meant descendant and could be used to refer to grandchildren and great grandchildren as well.

Sources

  1. Meritt, Jim (1992). A List of Biblical Contradictions. Internet Infidels.
  2. Marlow, Andy (2009). Contradictions in the Bible. Project Reason.
  3. Lyons, Eric (2004). Who was Abijah's Grandfather? Apologetics Press.
  4. Human. WikiNarnia.
  5. Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius. Hebrew Lexicon entry for Ben. The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon.]