2 Chronicles 4:5 – The Capacity of the Laver

By Wayne Jackson

Unbelievers think they have discovered a discrepancy between the capacity of Solomon’s laver, as recorded in 2 Chronicles 4:5, and that of an earlier account in 1 Kings 7:26. The former account states that the basin contained 2,000 baths (c. 11,500 gallons), while the later record gives the figure at 3,000 baths (c. 17,500 gallons). Several solutions have been postulated as a possible means of reconciling the difficulty.

  1. A scribal error in the figures may be involved since the manner of representing these two figures looks quite similar in the Hebrew language (see Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary, Vol. 3, p. 104).
  2. The passage in 1 Kings may denote the amount of water used in the Hebrew ceremonies, whereas the verse in 2 Chronicles may depict the maximum quantity which the laver could contain.
  3. It may be that the “bath” of Solomon’s day was of greater capacity than that employed much later in the post-Babylonian period, from which era Chronicles is dated. Thus different standards of measurement may be employed (see Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 318).
So underline the numeral 3,000 in 2 Chronicles 4:5, and in your margin note: Possible scribal error; or perhaps different standard of measurement. There is no provable error here.
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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.