2000 baths
26 It was a handbreadth thick, and its brim was made like the brim of a cup, as a lily blossom; it could hold two thousand baths.
NASBu  1 Kings 7:26

3000 baths
5 It was a handbreadth thick, and its brim was made like the brim of a cup, like a lily blossom; it could hold three thousand baths.
NASBu  2 Chronicles 4:5

SAB contradiction 356 (by book)

A serious Bible contradiction?

In front of Solomon’s temple stood a large copper basin, called the copper sea. A description is given both in 1 Kings and in 2 Chronicles. Surprisingly, in 1 Kings the reported content is two thousand baths and in 2 Chronicles three thousand baths. Is this just a scripture error? A copyist error?


In 2 Chronicles 4:5 a Hebrew word has been used that is lacking in the parallel text (of 1 Kings): màcházik. It means: enclosing, embracing. This gives, in fact, a different meaning in Chronicles: The copper sea had the capacity of 3000 baths. The total maximum content could therefore be 3000 baths, while the normal amount of water contained was only 2000 baths according to 1 Kings. Is the solution that simple? Yes, it is.

In targum Jonathan (Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, circa fifth century) 2 Chronicles 4:5 already has the extension: "it contained 3000 baths dry and 2000 baths liquid". In 1742, Patrik, Polus and Wels already mentioned the reading of this targum in their still monumental commentary of the Bible (Dutch translation). Many English commentators have also brought forward this explanation: Gill, Gaebelein, e.g.

Differences between Kings and Chronicles generally

How can such differences occur in Bible books? It is absolutely wrong to suppose that the author of Chronicles changed the information of Kings writing his book, or that he made an error accidentally, however current theology often presents these childish explanations. 

As a rule, the parallel reports in Kings and Chronicles are from the same writers, which explains the same use of words and literary style. The first reports were not only written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, but also under the inspiration of the time of the occurrence. With the result that we often encounter additional observations in the reports.

Wisdom as great as the sea

The old writers set high value on not losing interesting information about a subject. Particularly in cases of different names of people, it was standard procedure to present them differently in their reports to not let any doubt exist about the intended individuals. Everyone who goes in search of the detailed features of the Hebrew Bible will meet – rather than discrepancies – a wisdom as great as the sea.

No Bible Contradiction