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 2Nehemiah 7

Difference

5 the sons of Arah, 77510 the sons of Arah, 652123
6 the sons of Pahath-moab of the sons of Jeshua and Joab, 2,81211 the sons of Pahath-moab of the sons of Jeshua and Joab, 2,8186
8 the sons of Zattu, 94513 the sons of Zattu, 845100
10 the sons of Bani, 64215 the sons of Binnui, 6486
11 the sons of Bebai, 62316 the sons of Bebai, 6285
12 the sons of Azgad, 1,22217 the sons of Azgad, 2,3221,100
13 the sons of Adonikam, 66618 the sons of Adonikam, 6671
14 the sons of Bigvai, 2,05619 the sons of Bigvai, 2,06711
15 the sons of Adin, 45420 the sons of Adin, 655201
17 the sons of Bezai, 32323 the sons of Bezai, 3241
28 the men of Bethel and Ai, 22332 the men of Bethel and Ai, 123100
33 the sons of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, 72537 the sons of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, 7214
35 the sons of Senaah, 3,630.38 the sons of Senaah, 3,930.300
41 The singers: the sons of Asaph, 12844 The singers: the sons of Asaph, 14820
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 13945 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, 1381
59 and 60 list several names with one total of 65261 and 62 list numerous names with one total of 64210
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.
 
 
About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.