Why are the statistics in Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7 different?

Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7

Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7 are listings of numbered people from different families. The chapters represent the statistics of the same families. But they are not identical. I have produced a grid below that lists the families that do not match. If you would like to see the grid comparing all families in Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7, go here.

Of 39 entries (verses), 17 do not match. They are listed below.

Ezra 2 Nehemiah 7

Difference

5 the sons of Arah, 775 10 the sons of Arah, 652 123
6 the sons of Pahath-moab of the sons of Jeshua and Joab, 2,812 11 the sons of Pahath-moab of the sons of Jeshua and Joab, 2,818 6
8 the sons of Zattu, 945 13 the sons of Zattu, 845 100
10 the sons of Bani, 642 15 the sons of Binnui, 648 6
11 the sons of Bebai, 623 16 the sons of Bebai, 628 5
12 the sons of Azgad, 1,222 17 the sons of Azgad, 2,322 1,100
13 the sons of Adonikam, 666 18 the sons of Adonikam, 667 1
14 the sons of Bigvai, 2,056 19 the sons of Bigvai, 2,067 11
15 the sons of Adin, 454 20 the sons of Adin, 655 201
17 the sons of Bezai, 323 23 the sons of Bezai, 324 1
28 the men of Bethel and Ai, 223 32 the men of Bethel and Ai, 123 100
33 the sons of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, 725 37 the sons of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, 721 4
35 the sons of Senaah, 3,630. 38 the sons of Senaah, 3,930. 300
41 The singers: the sons of Asaph, 128 44 The singers: the sons of Asaph, 148 20
42 The sons of the gatekeepers: the sons of Shallum, the sons of Ater, the sons of Talmon, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hatita, the sons of Shobai, in all 139 45 The gatekeepers: the sons of Shallum, the sons of Ater, the sons of Talmon, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hatita, the sons of Shobai, 138 1
59 and 60 list several names with one total of 652 61 and 62 list numerous names with one total of 642 10
65 besides their male and female servants, who numbered 7,337; and they had 200 singing men and women. 67 besides their male and their female servants, of whom there were 7,337; and they had 245 male and female singers. 45 (singers)
17 discrepancies

It is obvious from the above table that there were many statistical differences between Ezra and Nehemiah. Though most of them are identical, some do not match. Why? The answer is simple.

Ezra was written no later than 450 B.C.1 Nehemiah should be dated during the reign of Artexerxes 1 (464-423 B.C.).2 According to the book, "Talk Thru the Bible," Ezra was written about 538-516 B.C.3 where Nehemiah was written around 444-425 B.C.4 Therefore, the dates of writing are different and the statistical differences can easily be accounted for by considering that during the difference of years, people died, families grew, etc.

I must note that there is a small percentage of copyist errors in numbers throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. It is certainly possible that some of the numbers differ due to copyist mistakes. Nevertheless, the difference in dates of writing can certainly account for the difference in numbers.

  • 1. Harrison, R. K., Introduction to the Old Testament, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1969, p. 1143.
  • 2. Harrison, p. 1146.
  • 3. Wilkinson, Bruce and Kenneth Boa, Talk Thru the Bible, New York: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, p. 116.
  • 4. Ibid., p. 123.

 

 

 

 
 
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