1 Chronicles 22:14: Too Much Gold and Silver?

The figures stated for gold and silver raised by David to build the temple seem so high as to be beyond being credible. Furthermore, they stand in poor relationship to other figures given in 1 Chronicles 29:4, 7 and 2 Chronicles 9:13. What is the best explanation of this matter?

The total amount of gold and silver adds up to over forty thousand tons--a sum that boggles the mind even for one of the Caesars or Pharaohs.

Yet C. F. Keil supported these figures by saying that "in the capitals of the Asiatic kingdoms of antiquity, enormous quantities of the precious metals were accumulated," for he quotes from ancient documents to show that Cyrus obtained 500,000 talents of silver in his Asiatic campaigns alone. He concluded his discussion of these amounts by saying, "We cannot therefore regard the sums mentioned in our verse either as incredible or very much exaggerated, nor hold the round sums which correspond to the rhetorical character of the passage with certainty to be mistakes."

We cannot use the figures given in 1 Chronicles 29:4, 7 as a means to determine the accuracy of those in the text we are examining. In 1 Chronicles 22 David makes the lead donation for the work of the temple, to which he then invited others to add in supporting the same project. These, then, are supplemental contributions beyond the major gift already promised by David.

The fact that Solomon received yearly only 666 talents of gold, or about 25 tons, has a bearing on this problem, of course. But that amount in 2 Chronicles 9:13 did not include the money brought in by the merchants and traders and the kings of Arabia and governors of the land (2 Chron 9:14). Therefore assuming something much in excess of 25 tons of gold per year, David could have collected in almost 40 years a considerable amount of gold, since he was capturingand looting all the neighboring kingdoms, while Solomon could only depend on the revenue that came from taxes and trade.

Therefore, it is quite possible that this is another error in textual transmission, for which numbers were especially susceptible in antiquity. But so far there is no way to prove the case either one way or the other. The jury is still out on this problem.

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C. F. Keil, The Books of Chronicles (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1950), pp. 247-48.

Ibid., pp. 248-49. See also Alan R. Millard, "Does the Bible Exaggerate King Solomon's Golden Wealth?" Biblical Archaeology Review 15, no. 3 (1989): 21-29, 31, 34, and Kenneth A. Kitchen, "Where Did Solomon's Wealth Go?" Biblical Archaeology Review 15, no. 3 (1989): 30, 32-33.