Are you grappling with a difficult verse in the Bible? And are you looking for a short, easy-to-read answer that really makes sense without explaining away the verse? Visit this page for a daily excerpt from IVP's Hard Saying series.

Today's Study

1 Chronicles 21:25: How Many Shekels for the Altar Site?

This is another of the alleged cases of the chronicler's exaggeration, this time to magnify the temple by increasing the sale price for David's altar (and eventually the site of the temple) from 50 shekels of silver (2 Sam 24:24) to 600 shekels of gold.

But the Chronicles text clearly and explicitly says that David bought "the site" (Hebrew hammaqom), which included the whole area of Mount Moriah. Using the standard of one ounce of gold equal to $400 in modern currency, David paid approximately $100,000 for the site. Samuel, however, stated the price for the oxen and the threshing floor, a very small portion of the entire area. For that David paid a mere 50 shekels ofsilver. Some have noted that 600 is 12 times 50, a fact that might have been intended to imply national significance. The purchase of this larger area may have come later, after the initial purchase of the threshing floor and oxen used by David in the original sacrifice.

The distinction between the two purchases also helps explain why Araunah offered, at first, to donate to David the threshing floor. It is difficult to conceive that he would have been in a position to donate all of Mount Moriah, but he might well offer just the threshing floor.