Why Are Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7 So Different?

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Some argue that the Bible is contradictory because Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7 provide very different numbers. However, there is a reasonable explanation that solves this alleged contradiction in the Bible.

Differences Between Ezra and Nehemiah

Ezra 2Nehemiah 7
5 The sons of Arah, 77510 The sons of Arah, 652
6 The sons of Pahath-moab, namely the sons of Jeshua and Joab, 2,81211 The sons of Pahath-moab, namely the sons of Jeshua and Joab, 2,818
8 The sons of Zattu, 94513 The sons of Zattu, 845
10 The sons of Bani, 64215 The sons of Binnui, 648
11 The sons of Bebai, 62316 The sons of Bebai, 628
12 The sons of Azgad, 1,22217 The sons of Azgad, 2,322
13 The sons of Adonikam, 66618 The sons of Adonikam, 667
14 The sons of Bigvai, 2,05619 The sons of Bigvai, 2,067
15 The sons of Adin, 45420 The sons of Adin, 655
17 The sons of Bezai, 32323 The sons of Bezai, 324
28 The men of Bethel and Ai, 22332 The men of Bethel and Ai, 123
33 The sons of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, 72537 The sons of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, 721
35 the sons of Senaah, 3,63038 the sons of Senaah, 3,930
41 The singers: the sons of Asaph, 12844 The singers: the sons of Asaph, 148
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, 138
59 The following were those who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addan, and Immer, though they could not prove their fathers’ houses or their descent, whether they belonged to Israel: 60 the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, and the sons of Nekoda, 65261 The following were those who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer, but they could not prove their fathers’ houses nor their descent, whether they belonged to Israel: 62 the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, the sons of Nekoda, 642
65 besides their male and female servants, of whom there were 7,337, and they had 200 male and female singers67 besides their male and female servants, of whom there were 7,337. And they had 245 singers, male and female

Below is a table of the differences between Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7. {| !Ezra 2 !Nehemiah 7 |- |5 The sons of Arah, 775. |10 The sons of Arah, 652. |- |6 The sons of Pahath-moab, namely the sons of Jeshua and Joab, 2,812. |11 The sons of Pahath-moab, namely the sons of Jeshua and Joab, 2,818. |- |8 The sons of Zattu, 945. |13 The sons of Zattu, 845. |- |10 The sons of Bani, 642. |15 The sons of Binnui, 648. |- |11 The sons of Bebai, 623. |16 The sons of Bebai, 628. |- |12 The sons of Azgad, 1,222. |17 The sons of Azgad, 2,322. |- |13 The sons of Adonikam, 666. |18 The sons of Adonikam, 667. |- |14 The sons of Bigvai, 2,056. |19 The sons of Bigvai, 2,067. |- |15 The sons of Adin, 454. |20 The sons of Adin, 655. |- |17 The sons of Bezai, 323. |23 The sons of Bezai, 324. |- |28 The men of Bethel and Ai, 223. |32 The men of Bethel and Ai, 123. |- |33 The sons of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, 725. |37 The sons of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, 721. |- |35 the sons of Senaah, 3,630. |38 the sons of Senaah, 3,930. |- |41 The singers: the sons of Asaph, 128. |44 The singers: the sons of Asaph, 148. |- |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. |- |59 The following were those who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addan, and Immer, though they could not prove their fathers’ houses or their descent, whether they belonged to Israel: 60 the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, and the sons of Nekoda, 652. |61 The following were those who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer, but they could not prove their fathers’ houses nor their descent, whether they belonged to Israel: 62 the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, the sons of Nekoda, 642. |- |65 besides their male and female servants, of whom there were 7,337, and they had 200 male and female singers. |67 besides their male and female servants, of whom there were 7,337. And they had 245 singers, male and female. |}

The Answer – Why Are Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7 So Different?

Ezra and Nehemiah Were Written at Different Times

Ezra and Nehemiah were written at different times, which would account for the differences in numbers, since people could have been born and people could have died between the two different times of writing.

Bruce Wilkinson and Kenneth Boa, in ”Talk Thru the Bible”, say that Ezra was written about 538–516 BC1 and Nehemiah was written about 444–425 BC2.

More Answers to “Contradictions” in the Bible

To read more answers to alleged and apparent contradictions in the Bible, see “Contradictions” in the Bible Answered.

These books are also excellent resources:

  1. Wilkinson, Bruce and Kenneth Boa, ”Talk Thru the Bible” (New York: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983), 116. []
  2. Ibid, 123. []

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