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How Many Did Jashobeam Kill?

In 2 Samuel 23:8 the bible reads that Jashobeam used his spear to kill 800 men in one battle. Then later in 1 Chronicles 11:11 it reads that Jashobeam used his spear to kill 300 men in a single battle. I was wondering if it was two separate battles mentioned. This may seem like a dumb question, but I am far from being a scholar and I am very interested in these Great men of God.

I confess that I have been very interested in these mighty men of David’s army as well. I am impressed with the tremendous courage that these men displayed in the service of their king. No doubt, their king’s courage inspired them to perform great exploits as well.

The word scholar, by today’s definition, means someone who has mastered their subject area. I know of no one that could honestly be called a Biblical scholar. Did you know there is only one recorded place (Luke 10:21) where Jesus Christ rejoiced about something during His earthly ministry? Do you know what it was? It was the fact that God the Father chose to reveal His word to “babes” and to hide it from “the wise and prudent” (there’s the scholars!). Take courage, brother, spending time with that Book and praying about that Book will do a lot more than reading what the “scholars” have to say. Those men have high academic degrees. But Psalm 62:9 says that “men of high degree are a lie.” My experience with Biblical scholars can be summed up in Job’s words to his friends: “physician’s of no value” (Job 13:4).

May I leave you with a piece of advice? Pray Psalm 119:18 before you open God’s word. And when the Lord opens your eyes to something that you never saw before, check out what the scholars and the new versions have to say about the passage. It has been my experience that their comments fall far short of what the Lord revealed to me from His holy word!

As far as your specific question is concerned, I will not give you a definitive answer on it. However, it looks like there are only two valid options for a Bible believer concerning what these passages say. Either these passages are speaking about the exploits of one man or they deal with the feats of two different men. Let’s consider these options.

If 2 Samuel 23:8 and 1 Chronicles 11:11 refer to the same man, I like your explanation. Certainly the contexts of those passages would fit that explanation. 2 Samuel 23 is at the end of David’s 40 year reign, but 1 Chronicles 11 is very early in David’s reign. That could explain the 800 registered kills in the later list versus the 300 in the earlier account. Obviously, we would have a problem if the smaller number appeared in the later list, but it seems to line up properly. 

The other possibility is that these accounts refer to two different men. Although your question assumes that Jashobeam is the subject of both accounts, consider the following chart which cites the differences between the passages:

2 Samuel 23:8 1 Chronicles 11:11
The spearman is called Adino the Eznite (not Jashobeam). The spearman is called Jashobeam.
The spearman is called a “Tachmonite.” The spearman is called “an Hachmonite.”
The spearman is “chief among the captains.” This indicates that this man shares the same rank as the other captains, but he is at a higher level within that rank. The American military, for example, differentiates its generals by stars. Beginning at the lowest rank, a brigadier general, followed by a major general, a lieutenant general, a general, and general of the army (war time general). The spearman is “the chief of the captains.” This indicates that he has a rank above captains. He might have been in a similar position as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff which happens to be the highest officer in the American military.
The spearman kills 800 at one time. The spearman kills 300 at one time.

I personally believe that these passages are talking about two separate individuals, but I may be wrong. I don’t have any problems with anyone that would hold to the other choice. Either one of those options leaves the word of God free from error. That’s important because there are other choices for these passages that cast doubt (Genesis 3:1) on the word of God. For example, some scholars attribute the differences in the passages to “scribal errors.” By that they meant that some careless scribe copied the wrong word down on the manuscript. I have a BIG problem with that kind of choice.

Anyway, I hope this has been a help to you, and I hope you continue studying these mighty men. Certainly there is much to be learned in these passages and put into practice (spiritually speaking) as “a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3).

Karl Lohman
Daily Proverb

Proverbs 20:14

It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth.