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Answering The Atheist
November 25, 2007 / Volume 7, Issue 47

THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Was Jehu the son (1 Kings 19:16) or grandson (2 Kings 9:2) of Nimshi? Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:
Jehu, the king of Israel, was the son of Jehoshaphat, the grandson of Nimshi, as 2 Kings 9:2 (cf. 9:14) indicates. However, along with 1 Kings 19:16, other texts say that he was the son of Nimshi (2 Kings 9:20; 2 Chronicles 22:7).

In the same book, even in the same chapter (2 Kings 9), Jehu is both called the son of Jehoshaphat and the son of Nimshi. On the surface, such may appear to be a contradiction, but surely if it were, the writer of 2 Kings would have been aware of such, and not said both in the same chapter.

Though on the surface these appear to be contradictory statements, one must consider the meaning of the Hebrew word ben, which is in all these texts translated "son". If the word means specifically one's immediate and biological son, then certainly, there is a contradiction here. Son is the most common rendering of the word (2,978 times), but it is also rendered children (1,568), old (51), young (35), man (20), child (10), stranger (10), people (5), and a variety of other words (92).

Strong's defines the word as:

a son (as a builder of the family name), in the widest sense (of literal and figurative relationship, including grandson, subject, nation, quality or condition, etc...
The word is used correctly, whether Jehu is called the son of Jehoshaphat or the son of Nimshi, he is a builder of the family name for both his father and his grandfather.

There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible