Let’s read these two verses from the King James Version. 2 Kings 8:26 says, “Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah  when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem.” 2 Chronicles 22:2 reads, “Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem.” It is obvious that these two accounts can’t both be right. We believe Ahaziah was indeed 22 years old, for his reign began immediately after his father’s death and his father, Jehoram, died when he was 40 years old. We learn this in 2 Chronicles 21:5 and 20, “Jehoram was thirty and two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalemand departed without being desired. Howbeit they buried him in the city of David, but not in the sepulchers of the kings.” If Ahaziah was 42 years old when he began to reign, then HE WAS TWO YEARS OLDER THAN HIS DECEASED FATHER, which is impossible!

Attempts have been made to reconcile these differences but they have all failed. We believe the only answer to this seeming contradiction is that an error was made by a scribe while copying from the Hebrew text. There is evidence to support the belief that instead of NUMBERS being spelled out in ancient Hebrew texts LETTERS were used. Several letters in the Hebrew script are similar in appearance, as is the case with the letters which represent TWENTY TWO and FORTY TWO. One has said that, “A very slight stroke of the pen could blur the distinction.” So, there is NO CONTRADICTION in these verses, but a COPYIST ERROR.

The King James translators used the Masoretic text, but it should be noted that other texts, such as the Syriac and Arabic versions, have Ahaziah’s age as “Two and twenty years old” in both passages. Modern translations such the New American Standard Bible and the New International Version reflect this change. But no matter which “text” is used, we must keep in mind that they too are “a copy of a copy.” We can be sure that if we had the ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPTS of Scripture that were written by the men God inspired to write the Bible, they would be free of any errors.

It has been argued that some texts are DIVINELY INSPIRED and thus DIVINELY PRESERVED, which means they are absolutely free of copyist errors. But this belief does NOT hold up, for it has been proven time and time again that every COPIED MANUSCRIPT has errors of some kind. Does this mean that God has not preserved His truth and that we can’t trust God to reveal His truth to us? Absolutely not! The Lord Jesus prayed in John 17:17, “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth.” And in John 8:31-32 He said, “If ye continue in My word, then are ye my disciples indeed. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” In light of these clear and emphatic statements from the lips of our blessed Savior, we believe what others have concluded on this subject:

“God inspired the original autographs and has sovereignly protected His Word through the preservation of thousands of manuscripts with thousands of slight variations—arguably none of which is doctrinally significant. Taken as a whole, these variations do not negate God’s message or His preservation of that message. God has ensured the purity and preservation of His Word through thousands of surviving manuscripts spread over thousands of years and miles. These manuscripts show God’s superintending care through the use of imperfect men so that the Bibles we have today can truly be called God’s Word.”  (183.5)  (DO)