4

Melachim II (II Kings) - Chapter 8 26Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he reigned, and one year he reigned in Jerusalem; and his mother's name was Athaliah the daughter of Omri king of Israel.

Divrei Hayamim II (Chronicles II) - Chapter 22 2Ahaziah was forty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem, and his mother's name was Athaliah the daughter of Omri.

Please explain this contradiction. Please also look directly in your sources about whether Ahaziah was 22 or 42 years old when he began to reign. Thank you.

5
  • notice how in the verse quoted in Kings, it says Omri King of Israel. Meaning Omri was king while Ahaziah was 22, but at 22 Ahaziah was selected to become the next king. Almost how like Jonathan was the next to be king, but thats why Samuel had to come and anoint David instead, because it was expected for Jonathan to be king. At 42, is when Ahaziah began to rule, for 1 year only, and that is why Omri is not mentioned as king in THAT verse (of Chronicles) Aug 1, 2023 at 7:33
  • How Jonathan was next to be king while Saul was reigning Aug 1, 2023 at 7:34
  • 4
    "I have heard many times that a divine book can not contradict", this is a LOADED statement. I wonder where you would have heard this...
    – bondonk
    Aug 1, 2023 at 7:40
  • 1
    @bondonk See my comment to Rabbi Kaii: the statement is not only loaded but demonstrably a mistake.
    – MichoelR
    Aug 1, 2023 at 11:29
  • 1
    VTC dupilcate? - judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/131323/age-of-king-ahaziah
    – Dov
    Aug 1, 2023 at 17:44

2 Answers 2

11

There are some assumptions I've seen you make in the questions and comments that I'd like to directly address, rather than showing how we resolve the specific contradictions, as other answers have already tried this. I will note for all reading this that the OP has asked 3 different "contradictions in Torah" questions today, and they can be found in the user's profile.

Assumption 1: The Torah shouldn't require commentary to be understood fully.

This is false. The Torah never claimed to be standalone, one can certainly barely get through half a chapter without having a bunch of questions, and the vast majority of commentary (Oral Tradition) that has made it from Sinai to today has, with top-notch scholarship, been traced, double and triple checked for contradictions, and scrutinised to see that it has some sort of basis. I can't stress this enough, and I wish there wasn't so much misinformation against the truth of how hard the Jewish people have been working to preserve and analyse the word of God as closely, honestly and accurately as (superhumanly!) possible for thousands and thousands of years.

The basis for the commentaries on Achazyahu, for example, is that the age given in Divrei Hayamim would make him older than his father, and the commentary we received about it we can directly trace back to the times of the Tosefta approx 1800 years ago, and from there we can trace every school that taught it, by name, right back to Sinai. The Tosefta has been analysed by at least two of our greatest and most authoritative commentators, one in the middle ages, one in the 19th century, and their words as well as the contradiction in general, have been analysed by several other great commentators. In particular, the basis for the commentary we received must always be established (in this case, the Divrei Hayamim account would put Achazyahu older than his father, so the Torah is in no uncertain terms telling us that there is a commentary to go with this verse), and held up against logic and the rest of the body of Torah and commentary in totality.

Assumption 2: The Torah is concerned people might think it is false so it tries to ensure no contradictions.

Also generally false. הָרוֹצֶה לִטְעוֹת יִטְעֶה - let those who wish to err, err (Bereshit Rabba 8:8) The Torah is not in the business of proving itself. It could have told us exactly what date Mt. Vesuvius was going to erupt, or predict a comet, or tell us how many moons Neptune has, or a billion other things. The Torah takes care to be consistent and thoroughly true in everything it says (including a lot of prophecies), but it's clear that it is written and addressed to those who already believe it is Divine, and makes little effort to capture people who don't believe that with proofs etc. As to why this is, you'd have to ask in a separate question, but note well from this that just because there are puzzling verses in the Torah, it doesn't mean that the Torah is not perfect, and instead this means that it wants us to think about it, as well as engage with the Oral Tradition to find out more. One of the reasons the commentary was left as an Oral Tradition, and the Written Torah is so impenetrable by itself is indeed in order to foster a more active and hands-on relationship with the Torah.

Assumption 3: The Torah is (at least where relevant) a factual history book.

Again, generally false. If you read Torah, Prophets and Writings, especially with Rashi, you'll get a feel for what this Divine work is trying to do. It's not trying to be a history book, and again, you don't need a Rabbi or commentary to tell you this. Just read Bereshit and see how it's not telling us a history, with so much skipped; so much context left out; note the switches in chronological order without mention; note the brevity of everything (yet lots of odd repetition and interesting phraseology, a clear sign that there is a supplemental tradition). It is clear that the Torah is being very selective in its wisdom. Everything written is something we need to know for some timeless reason, and the commentary is there to give us that reason.

This is even true of Kings and Chronicles, which ostensibly come across as attempts at historical accounts. They are only to the degree of what parts of our history, morally, need to be preserved for timeless reasons. Therefore, if left out information from a story will make it sound like a contradiction, it won't mind so much, because it expects you to realise that there might be missing information (because it contains no timeless lesson), and it expects you to go and look in the Oral Tradition.

Finally, the assumption of "I have heard many times that a divine book can not contradict". This, really, is what you should be asking as its own question. We generally hold that a divine book should be true (which is why the basis is important). Even that statement, as well as the one about not contradicting, is something that requires in-depth discussion to see what it means. These are lofty philosophical concepts and are dealt with at length in countless places.


tl;dr Any discrepancy in the Torah must have a commentary alongside it that explains it, and the explanation itself must hold up with some sort of logical basis, which has been traced back to Sinai, as well as analysed by our generational scholars. Indeed if there were any critical contradiction in Torah that had no commentary, or a commentary that had zero basis (which involves a trace of where it originates, logical analysis, grammatical rules, limited and consistent traditional exegetical rules i.e. extremely sound scholarship), we'd have more of a problem. However, asking to resolve a contradiction in the Torah without any reference to commentary is not in keeping with the Torah's own expectations of validity.

This, by the way makes this question off topic for Mi Yodeya, as it is expecting Mi Yodeya to conform to a standard that is not in keeping with general traditional Judaism, and answer based on that standard. This is why your first question got upvoted, but the next two have since been downvoted, because by that point it became clear you do not wish to hear an answer referencing commentaries. It would be better to simply ask as its own question What does Judaism say about what I've heard in that "a divine book can not contradict". You can mention these 3 contradictions there and how they prompted you to ask this.

9
  • 5
    Good. I would add that there is an explicit statement by our sages we read every day, that verses can contradict, and do: (יג) וְכֵן (נ"א וְכַאן) שְׁנֵי כְתוּבִים הַמַּכְחִישִׁים זֶה אֶת זֶה, עַד שֶׁיָּבֹא הַכָּתוּב הַשְּׁלִישִׁי וְיַכְרִֽיעַ בֵּינֵיהֶם. "When two verses contradict each another, one should seek a third verse that reconciles them."
    – MichoelR
    Aug 1, 2023 at 11:27
  • Do you have Halachic examples of "how hard the Jewish people have been working to preserve ... the word of God as closely, honestly and accurately as (superhumanly!) possible for thousands and thousands of years"?
    – Al Berko
    Aug 1, 2023 at 18:46
  • @AlBerko could you elaborate on what you are looking for? What is a "halachic" example?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Aug 1, 2023 at 18:47
  • I'm interested to know what specific Halochos obligate us to "*preserve the word of God (the Oral Torah I presume) as closely, honestly, and accurately as (superhumanly!) possible for thousands and thousands of years"? Where does the Halocho say "you should do so and so in order to preserve the Oral tradition"? I'm only aware of the Halochos of writing Torah scrolls but those were formulated toward the end of the first millennium IIRC.
    – Al Berko
    Aug 1, 2023 at 18:50
  • 1
    Wow! Great answer, +1
    – fartgeek
    Aug 14, 2023 at 14:51
6

The Meztudas Dovid, the Ralbag, the Malbim and others all quote the Seder Olam that explains that he was 22 years old. The reason why it says in Divrei Hayomim that he was 42 is because it was 42 years from the kingship of Omri when it was decreed that the entire family will be wiped out in 42 years. The reason why it is mentioned is to explain why he only ruled for one year - as the time was up.

The Radak has an alternate explanation, that he ruled while his father was alive from 22 until 42 and then one year after his father’s death. (The Malbim points out that this is hard to understand, as his father only lived 40 years).

2
  • I don't understand this explanation at all?? Please rephrase it in simple logic. One says 22 another says 42. What does it have to do with 42 in relation to the kindship of Omri. How does the Radak explanation make sense? It says "Ahaziah was forty-two years old when he began to reign" began to reign means start. Nowhere in the verse or chapter does it mention the father.
    – user32576
    Aug 1, 2023 at 5:19
  • @user32576 that is not the only location where 2 ages are mentioned for the same person. Firstly, the same way marriage is established in two steps, so too kingship. David was anointed as king of Judah before being anointed king of Israel. So with this in mind, the explanations above explain that he was selected to rule at the earlier age, but was only actually ruling as full blown king at the advanced age. That is why it says EXPLICITLY that he BEGAN to rule at 42, and it was a one year reign in both accounts. Certainly if he ruled from 22 to 42 as full blown king then it couldn't be 1 year. Aug 1, 2023 at 7:24

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .