Isaac Kalimi discusses instances of historical errors and anachronisms in the books of 1-2 Chronicles as well as 1 Maccabees.

Isaac Kalimi

Isaac Kalimi, The Reshaping of Ancient Israelite History in Chronicles (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2005), 392-403

Isaac Kalimi
Reading Public

3. Historical Mistakes

Several historical differences between the text of the early books and the book of Chronicles stem from the Chronicler’s lack of awareness of the use of certain technical idioms and unchanging linguistic structures and his lack of awareness of the real historical and geographical facts o the period of the Monarchy. These are some of the signs of the time gap separating the later historian, who lived in the Persian period, and the early sources at his disposal in his book on the history of the First Temple period. In other words, despite the Chronicler’s many literary and historiographical talents, his work is not free of errors and misunderstanding.

This phenomenon is also observable in other historiographical sources—for example, in the historiography of the Hasmonean revolt:

(a) In 1 Macc 1:29 we are told: “two years later the king sent a minister of taxation (αρχουνα φρονολογιας) to the cities of Judah.” This is apparently a reference to Appollonius, who was called “captain of the Mysians” in 2 Macc 5:24 because he was in command of the mercenary force from the land of Mysia (Μυσια), in northwest Asia Minor. The Greek translator of 1 Maccabees was apparently unfamiliar with this geographical term and with the military title derived from it, so he paraphrased it, explain: מוסים ‘Mysians’ = מסים ‘taxes’.

(b) In 1 Macc 3:13, Seron is termed “commander of the army of Syria” (αρχων τηνς δυναμεως Συριας). However, it is clear from v. 14 that Seron was not the head of the Seleucid army: “He [Seron] said: ‘I will make a name for myself and become a noble of the kingdom, for I will wage war against Judas and his companions, who ridicule the word of the king.’” Only the Seleucid king himself was the commander-in-chief of the army, and the commanding officer of the various expeditions were determined by him. Later, when Josephus made use of this source (Ant. 12.288), he paraphrased it erroneous, apparently using the term accepted in his day for “commander of the army of Syria” and describing Sermon as “commander of the armies of Coele-Syria” (σταρατηγος της κοιλης Συριας).

The following are a number of examples of historical mistakes made in the book of Chronicles.

. . . .

20.15 According to 1 Kgs 9:26-28, Solomon built ships at Ezion-geber, near Elath on the shore of the Red Sea, and Hirma, king of Tyre, sent “his servants, sailors who were familiar with the sea” to Solomon. Hiram’s servants sailed to Ophir with Solomon’s servants to import gold.

In 2 Chr 8:17-18 the Chronicler apparently wanted to show that Solomon initiated this expedition. He wrote that Solomon went “to Ezion-geber and to Elath on the seacoast” (instead of “Ezion-geber, near Elath” in Kings!”); and Hiram sent him not only Tyrian sailors but also ships: “Hiram sent him, with his servants, ships and servants familiar with the sea. They went to Ophir with Solomon’s servants and imported gold . . . from there.” This does not seem to be a textual error, as Rudolph claims. He emends the text to read, “And for the ships he sent his servants who know well the sea.” At any rate, there is no textual support for either the supposed error or for the proposed emendation. The Chronicler’s citation is a paraphrase of the earlier text that ignored the vast geographical and technological problems prohibiting the dispatch of ships from Tyre on the Phoenician coast to Ezion-geber on the Red Sea—either by land or by sea. It is unreasonable to assume that Hiram’s ships sailed from Tyre around the African continent to reach Ezion-geber. Neither is there any evidence of a canal linking the Nile and the Red Sea during the Solomonic era. However, these possibilities existed in the Chronicler’s day, as we read in Herodotus 2.158 and 4.42 and on steles set up by Darius I (522-486 B.C.E.) along the route of the canal between the Nile and the Red Sea. On one of the steles, Darius said, “I ordered this canal to be dug up to link the river flowing throughout Egypt with the sea coming from Persia . . . and ships sail from Egypt along this canal to Persia.” But the sources available to us do not indicate that this canal existed during the period of the United Monarchy.

Citations in Mormonr Qnas
Copyright © B. H. Roberts Foundation
The B. H. Roberts Foundation is not owned by, operated by, or affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.