How Old Was Ahaziah When He Began To Reign?2 min read

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In the account of the Book of Kings it says: 

“Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Athaliah, the daughter of Omri king of Israel.” (2 Kings 8:26) 

On the other hand, the record in the second Book of Chronicles gives a different age for Ahaziah. It says:  

“Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Athaliah the daughter of Omri.” (2 Chronicles 22:2) 

There seems to be a “contradiction” here, as the first verse says Ahaziah was 22 years old when he began to reign. But the second verse writes 42 years old. How can this be? 

The explanation is a bit more complicated because, unlike other difficulties in the Bible,, “reading carefully” doesn’t help here. Another English translation doesn’t help either, because they also write 42 years and 22 years. But in the German translation of the Bible, the solution can be found. Because the second verse in the German Schlachter 2000 translation writes: 

“Es war nach 42 Jahren, daß Ahasja König wurde, und er regierte ein Jahr lang in Jerusalem; und der Name seiner Mutter war Athalja, eine Tochter Omris.”(2. Chronik 22:2; SCH2000) 

The verse in the German translation writes: “Es war nach 42 Jahren…“. The word “nach” means “after” in English. So the verse begins like this: “It was after 42 years…” 

So does this verse mean that after 42 years Ahaziah became king? 

So the explanation is that 42 years after a certain event, Ahaziah became king and he was 22 years old when he reigned. 

Important Note: It is very often helpful to switch the Bible translations and compare them at the same time. Also, even if the “translation” has an “error” (!), it doesn’t mean that the original contains an error. The original itself is and always will be error-free. And the proof of this is that in this case the solution was just found in another translation. If the original itself were wrong, then all translations (in all languages) would be wrong and thus the “difficulty” mentioned above would not be solvable. 

Another helpful tip is to often change the language in addition to the Bible translation. 

In this example, the German Bible translation (Schlachter2000) proves very helpful because when it was translated it was translated from the Hebrew original compared to the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament with explanation from the Jews). 

The Bible, then, contains absolutely no errors. However, should a verse seemingly “contradict” another verse, the explanation can very often be found by changing the translation and/or language. 

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