Bible Contradiction? Who was Samuel’s firstborn son?

July 18, 2019 by SLIMJIM

For today’s post we will tackle the question the Skeptic Annotated Bible asked: Who was Samuel’s firstborn son?

Here are the two answers which the skeptic believes indicate a Bible contradiction:


Now the name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judging in Beersheba.” (1 Samuel 8:2)


The sons of Samuel were Joel the firstborn, and Abijah the second.” (1 Chronicles 6:28)

(All Scriptural quotation comes from the New American Standard Bible)

Here’s a closer look at whether or not there is a contradiction:


  1. When dealing with skeptics’ claim of Bible contradictions it seems one can never be reminded enough of what exactly is a contradiction.  A contradiction occurs when two or more claims conflict with one another so that they cannot simultaneously be true in the same sense and at the same time.  To put it another way, a Bible contradiction exists when there are claims within the Bible that are mutually exclusive in the same sense and at the same time.
  2. One should be skeptical of whether this is a Bible contradiction given the Skeptic Annotated Bible’s track record of inaccurately handling the Bible.  See the many examples of it’s error which we have responded to in this post:   Of course that does not take away the need to respond to this claim of a contradiction, which is what the remainder of this post will do.  But this observation should caution us to slow down and look more closely at the passages cited by the Skeptic Annotated Bible to see if they interpreted the passages properly to support their conclusion that it is a Bible contradiction.
  3. A bit of background of each verse in its context might be helpful for readers.
    1. 1 Samuel 8 is a chapter that gives description of the transition of Israel being ruled by Judges to being ruled by Kings.  1 Samuel 8:1 mentioned that Samuel appointed his sons as judges then in verses 2-3 give more information about the sons.
    2. 1 Chronicles 6 present the priestly line’s genealogy and it also mentioned about Samuel’s family history.
  4. Sometimes the skeptic cite alleged Bible contradictions that actually are referring to different individuals.  Here however the skeptic is right that both 1 Samuel 8:2 and 1 Chronicles 6:28 are referring to the same individuals.
    1. In both passages and the context the father is Samuel.
    2. In both passages the second son is “Abijah.
    3. Also in both passages Samuel’s family is a priestly family.
  5. The skeptic cited 1 Samuel 8:2 as teaching Joel was Samuel’s firstborn son. I believe the skeptic interpreted this verse correctly and Joel was Samuel’s firstborn son.
    1. 1 Samuel 8:2 states it directly: “the name of his firstborn was Joel.
    2. Joel being the firstborn of Samuel is affirmed in other passages:
      1. These are those who served with their sons: From the sons of the Kohathites were Heman the singer, the son of Joel, the son of Samuel” (1 Chronicles 6:33).
        1. Here it Joel is “the son of Samuel.
        2. Notice Joel’s son is Heman since the verse says Heman was “the son of Joel.
        3. Heman is described here as a “singer,” an important for below.
      2. These are those who served with their sons: From the sons of the Kohathites were Heman the singer, the son of Joel, the son of Samuel” (1 Chronicles 5:17).
        1. Here this verse mentioned Joel is “the son of Samuel.
        2. This apparently is the same Joel as in 1 Chronicles 6:33 since in both verses Samuel has a son name Heman who was a singer.
    3. Thus it is clear that Samuel’s firstborn was name Joel.
  6. The skeptic cited 1 Chronicles 6:28 as teaching Vashni was Samuel’s firstborn son.  I believe this is not the case.
    1. Notice how the verse in the New American Standard Bible does not say Vashni.  It says Joel instead.
    2. The author of Skeptic Annotated Bible got “Vashni” from reading the King James Bible which stated that name.  However I think it is problematic of the King James to state the name is Vashni.
      1. From our post “” I mentioned that the manuscripts of the Old Testament contain minor error at times with the manuscripts; yet we can still establish what the Words of the Old Testament are with reasonable accuracy.  Here with this alleged Bible contradiction we do have touch on the issue of textual Criticism.  For more on textual criticism make sure to also check out our “.”
      2. I think the King James Bible’s translation of “Vashni” is a misreading of the Hebrew.  “Vashni” in the Hebrew is וַשְׁנִ֖י in 1 Chronicles 6:28 (note: 1 Chronicles 6:28 is 1 Chronicles 6:13 in the Hebrew Bible).  וַשְׁנִ֖י can be seen as the combination of the Hebrew word meaning “and”(וַ) plus the word meaning “two” (שֵׁנִי).  In other words “Vashni” is in the pronunciation of the word “and two/second…”  I think what happened here is an error of thinking this is a name when its just means “and second…”  The verse also is missing the name of the first born.  Literally the verse translated is “And the sons of Samuel the first the second Abijah.”  Notice there’s a missing name for the firstborn.  Joel probably fell out accidentally due to a common scribal error called homoeoteleuton, in which words that look similar in sharing the same or similar endings can accidentally get dropped.  Both Samuel and Joel have similar ending in Hebrew and it is easy for a scribe to think he’s written Joel already when one sees the ending of the word “Samuel.”
      3. While the Hebrew medieval manuscripts is missing the name “Joel” in 1 Chronicles 6:28, consulting the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartenesia‘s Textual Critical Apparatus for this verse we see that there are witnesses of earlier translations of the passage that does have “Joel” in this verse, specifically the Syriac Peshitta, Luciani’s Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate.
      4. Ultimately the word “Joel” is very compelling to be in the verse as what best explains the passage.
    3. Also there are no additional collaborating Bible verses that Samuel’s firstborn was named Vashni.
      1. This is a contrast with the passages that collaborate to state Samuel’s firstborn was name Joel.
      2. Furthermore one of the verses affirming that Samuel’s firstborn was named Joel is 1 Chronicles 6:33.  It comes from the same chapter as our verse 1 Chronicles 6:28.  This is a compelling point since this is within the very chapter that supposedly teaches the firstborn was Vashni.
  7. There is no Bible contradiction.  Its just that the author of the Skeptic Annotated Bible is not familiar with Hebrew and the field and skill of textual criticism.
  8. We shouldn’t miss that worldviews are at play even with the skeptic’s objection to Christianity.  The worldview of the author of the Skeptic Annotated Bible actually doesn’t even allow for such a thing as the law of non-contradiction to be meaningful and intelligible.  In other words for him to try to disprove the Bible by pointing out that there’s a Bible contradiction doesn’t even make sense within his own worldview.  Check out our post “Skeptic Annotated Bible Author’s Self-Defeating Worldview.”