Were there 38 or 29 (Joshua 15:20-32) cities of Judah toward Edom southward? (NOTE – the count of the cities in the above text comes to 36 if you omit the two duplicates of Hazor – p.b.) Is there a contradiction?
Here is the text in question:
The cities at the limits of the tribe of the children of Judah, toward the border of Edom in the South, were Kabzeel(1), Eder(2), Jagur(3), Kinah(4), Dimonah(5), Adadah(6), Kedesh(7), Hazor(8), Ithnan(9), Ziph(10), Telem(11), Bealoth(12), Hazar(13), Hadattah(14), Kerioth(15), Hezron (which is Hazor)(16), Amam(17), Shema(18), Moladah(19), Hazar Gaddah(20), Heshmon(21), Beth Pelet(22), Hazar Shual(23), Beersheba(24), Biizjothjah(25), Baalah(26), Ijim(27), Ezem(28), Eltolad(29), Chesil(30), Hormah(31), Ziklag(32), Madmannah(33), Sansannah(34), Lebaoth(35), Shilhim(36), Ain(37), and Rimmon(38): all the cities are twenty-nine, with their villages. (15:21-32)
There are 38 names listed. It is noted that Hazor appears multiple times, but there is no reason to omit any (it is possible for more than one town in a region to have the same name—look up Red Level, AL on mapquest).
If 38 names are listed, why does verse 32 say there are 29 cities? Did Moses fail to count correctly? Maybe, but consider a few alternatives.
- 29 of the cities were of Judah, the other 9 were of Simeon (see the list in Joshua 19). Why include them? It may be that a town of Simeon was closer to the border of Judah in some areas.
- Verse 32 tells of 29 cities “with their villages.” It is possible that 9 of the names listed are villages or suburbs of nearby cities.
There are reasonable explanations for the difference. There is no reason to deem this a contradiction.
A response to 1001 Bible Contradictions.