Three Years or Seven Years of Famine?

Supposed contradiction and verses:

Is there 3 years or 7 years of famine? The Bible conflicts.



1 Chronicles 21:11-12

11 So Gad came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Choose thee

12 Either three years' famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; or else three days the sword of the Lord, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the Lord destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel. Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to him that sent me.


2 Samuel 24:12-13

12 Go and say unto David, Thus saith the Lord, I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.

13 So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days' pestilence in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me.



   The first passage we have in Chronicles is clear that there are three options which were to be presented to David. These are:

1. Three years of famine

2. Three months of being beaten by his enemies

3. Three days of the sword of the Lord (pestilence) in the land.

   One notices right off that both passages agree on points two and three, yet there appears a big difference in the first choice, that of the years of famine. The knee-jerk reaction is to say there is a contradiction rather than trying to understand when the passage offers a different number. This answer comes from what occurred a year earlier in 2 Samuel 21.

2 Samuel 21:1

Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David enquired of the Lord. And the Lord answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.

   This is a year before the passage in question, and three years of famine had already struck the land. Add to that the year between these two chapters and that is four years. Now add the three years David is being given the option of…. 7 years. Why is it done this way? Only assumptions can be given as we do not know for certain; however, the most likely cause would be that Gad presented this inquiry more than once. Laying out the three options as presented was most likely the first option. Possibly David took longer to respond than Gad thought, or Gad immediately repeated the options right afterwards and in either case, to show the severity of the famine that would then cause a total of 7 years of famine to have taken place.

   There is no contradiction!


In His Grace,

            Mike Harris


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