1 Samuel 6:19-How many men died?

The modern versions would like to dispute the number of dead recorded in 1 Samuel 6:19. The Authorized Version reads 50,070, but modern versions go with 75, 70, or 50. Obviously we have a huge discrepancy between these translations. So which is it?

The text in the Authorized Version reads,

“And he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter.”

1 Samuel 6:19

Here Will Kinney offers a reasonable answer for why the Authorized Version translation is perfectly fine. The following is an excerpt from his articles entitled, 1 Samuel 6:19 How many men died – 50,070, or 70 or 75, or 70 men 50 chief men, or 50 oxen of a man? You can read the full article here.


In a note on 1 Chronicles 11:11 the NIV 1984 edition has this statement: ?Many disagreements between numbers in Samuel and Kings, and those in Chronicles, are alleged. Actually, out of the approximately 150 instances of parallel numbers in these books, FEWER THAN ONE-SIXTH DISAGREE. (Boy, that’s reassuring, isn’t it?)  GOD GAVE US A BIBLE FREE FROM ERROR IN THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPTS. IN ITS PRESERVATION through many generations of recopying, HE PROVIDENTIALLY KEPT IT FROM SERIOUS ERROR, ALTHOUGH HE PERMITTED A FEW SCRIBAL MISTAKES.”

There you have it. This is the view of all modern Bible translators. “Only the originals were inspired, text garbled, error in transmission, desire to embellish the record, no serious error, a few scribal mistakes.”

Mr. Archer does not dispute the Hebrew reading of 50,070, but he says it is an error, and thus we have the reading of “70 of them” in the NIV. 

“He struck SEVENTY MEN of them” is the reading of the RSV, NRSV 1989, ESVs 2001, 2007, 2011 and 2016 editions, NEB 1970, Darby 1890, the Living Bible 1971, Amplified bible 1987, Easy To Read Version 2006 (Hey, it’s WRONG, but at least it’s “Easy to Read”, right?) Expanded Bible 2011 (Thomas Nelson), the 2011 Names of God Bible 2011, Common English Bible 2011, Lexham English Bible 2012, and the New Living Translation 2013. 

The footnotes found in the RSV, NRSV and ESV all tell us: “Hebrew – of the people seventy men, fifty thousand men”.  They all admit that this is the number found in the Hebrew texts. 

The absurd paraphrase called The Message says simply: “Seventy died.” 

The New Life Version 1969 has: “He killed 70 (50,070) men.”  Huh?

Young’s “literal” translation reads: “He smiteth among the people SEVENTY MEN – FIFTY CHIEF MEN.”  

The Jubilee Bible 2000 says: “he smote FIFTY THOUSAND OF THE PEOPLE AND 70 PRINCIPAL MEN.”

Lamsa’s translation of the Syriac Peshitta 1933 – “the LORD smote FIVE THOUSAND AND SEVENTY MEN of the people”  

Green’s “literal” 2005 and the Hebraic Roots Bible 2012 are different still, reading: “Yea, He struck SEVENTY among the people, FIFTY OUT OF A THOUSAND MEN.” (What does that even mean???)

The NKJV reads the same as the KJB in the text, but it has a ridiculous footnote that reads “OR, He struck SEVENTY men of the people AND FIFTY OXEN OF A MAN.”!

The New Living Translation of 2013, whose text reads “The Lord killed 70 men”, also mentions in their footnote: “Perhaps the text should be understood to read ‘The LORD killed 70 men AND 50 OXEN.”!

But the modern scholars are not done yet. 

The Holman Christian Standard Bible 2009 has come up with a reading that is different from them all. The HCSB now says: “He struck down 70 men out of 50,000 men.”

And The Voice of 2012, one of the new Critical Text versions, actually says: “God struck down 75 men” and then Footnotes “50,000 and 70 men”!!!  

Do you think there may be a chance that modern version translators are losing their minds because they keep messing with The Book?

Dan Wallace’s NET Version

Surprisingly, even Daniel Wallace and Company’s generally goofy NET version also follows the Hebrew texts here and says 50,070 men slain. Then they give us this interesting footnote: “The number 50,070 is surprisingly large, although it finds almost unanimous textual support in the MT and in the ancient versions. Only a few medieval Hebrew mss lack 50,000, reading simply 70 instead. However, there does not seem to be sufficient external evidence to warrant reading 70 rather than 50,070, although that is done by a number of recent translations (e.g., NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT). The present translation (RELUCTANTLY) [Note – he actually puts the word “reluctantly” there in his footnote] follows the MT and the ancient versions here.” 


The Bible versions that correctly read that God struck down 50,070 men are Wycliffe 1395, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew’s Bible 1549 – “And he slue of the people fyftye thousand and thre skore & ten persones.”, the Bishops’ Bible 1568 -“he slue among the people fiftie thousand and three score and ten men”, the Geneva Bible 1587, the Douay-Rheims 1610, the King James Bible, The Bill Bible 1671, Webster’s 1833, The Lesser Bible 1853, the Julia Smith Translation 1855, The Wellbeloved Scriptures 1862, The Jewish Family Bible 1864, the Smith Bible 1876, The Revised English Bible 1876, The Sharpe Bible 1883, the Revised Version 1885, the ASV 1901,  Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible 1902, The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1907, The Improved Bible 1913, the JPS (Jewish Publication Society) 1917, Hebrew Publishing Company Bible 1936, the 2004 Hebrew Complete Tanach, the NASB 1972 – 1995, the Complete Jewish Bible 1998 – “He killed 50,070 of the people.”, the Third Millennium Bible 1998, the International Standard Version – “He struck down 50,070 men among the people” and the 2012 Natural Israelite Bible – “He struck FIFTY THOUSAND AND SEVENTY MEN OF THE PEOPLE.”, The Hebrew Names Version 2014 and The New English Septuagint Translation 2014. 

Other English translations that follow the Hebrew text and tell us that “God stuck 50,070 men” are  The New Jewish Version 1985, God’s First Truth 1999, The World English Bible 2000, The Sacred Scriptures Family of Yah 2001, The Word of Yah 1993, The Apostolic Polyglot Bible 2003, The Complete Apostles’ Bible 2005, The Revised Geneva Bible 2005, the Bond Slave Version 2009, Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010, Online Interlinear 2010 (André de Mol), Holy Scriptures VW Edition 2010, The New Heart English Bible 2010, the Conservative Bible 2011 – “even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men”, The New Brenton Translation 2012, the Interlinear Hebrew-Greek Scriptures 2012 (Mebust), World English Bible 2012 – “he struck fifty thousand seventy of the men”, the International Standard Version 2014 – “He struck down 50,070 men”, and the Holy Bible, Modern English Version 2014. And this Interlinear Hebrew Old Testament 


Foreign Language Bibles

Among foreign language Bible that correctly have the Spanish Sagradas Escrituras 1569, Cipriano de Valera 1602, Biblia de las Américas 1997, Reina Valeras of 1909-2011 – “Hizo morir a CINCUENTA MIL SETENTA HOMBRES del pueblo.”,  Luther’s German Bible of 1545 and German Schlachter Bible 2000 – “Und er schlug des Volks fünfzigtausend und siebenzig Mann.”, the Portuguese de Almeida 1681 and the Almeida Actualizada “CINQUENTA MIL E SETENTA HOMENS”,  the Italian Diodati of 1649 -“percosse ancora del popolo CINQUANTAMILA E SETTANTA UOMINI.”, the French Martin 1744, the French Ostervald of 1996 and the French Louis Segond of 2007 – “Il frappa 50’070 hommes” and Rumanian Cornilescu and the 2009 Romanian Fidela Bible , the Hungarian Karoli Bible – “Megvere pedig a nép közül ötvenezer és hetven embert.”, the Russian Synodal Bible – ” и убил из народа пятьдесят тысяч семьдесят человек” = 50,070 men, the Tagalog Ang Dating Biblia 1905 – “sa makatuwid baga’y pumatay siya sa bayan ng pitong pung lalake at limang pung libong tao.”, the Dutch Staten Vertaling Bible, 

and the Modern Greek bible – “και επαταξεν εκ του λαου ανδρας πεντηκοντα χιλιαδας και εβδομηκοντα·” 

The Explanation of the large number 50,070 men. 

The number of 50,070 is the total number of all the people, both Israelites and Philistines, that were slain by God from the time the ark was first taken to this final day of death when the men of Bethshemesh (the 70 men?) looked into the ark.

In 1 Samuel 4:2-3 we read: “And when they joined in battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about FOUR THOUSAND MEN. And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines?” Notice it was the LORD who smote them.

In verse 10 we read of another battle in which “and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel THIRTY THOUSAND FOOTMEN.” In 5:6,9,11,12 and 6:9 we read of additional men being slain by the LORD. It was God Himself who was behind this great slaughter of both the children of Israel and the Philistines. 

Four thousand, thirty thousand, and easily a few thousand more in the succeeding battles; thus the figure of 50,070 total men slain by God is quite believable.

Notice the wording of 1 Samuel 6:19 “And he smote of the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter.”

It is possible to read this with the understanding that God smote the men of Bethshemesh because they looked into the ark (possibly the 70 men), and the total number of people slain, both Jews and Philistines, throughout this whole episode with the ark of the covenant being taken and its recovery was 50,070.

Matthew Henry also notes: “Some think the seventy men were the Beth-shemites that were slain for looking into the ark, and the 50,000 were those that were slain by the ark, in the land of the Philistines.”

John Gill and another commentator also mentions the view (one of many) that the number of 50,070 includes both the large number of people killed during the battles that occurred during this event of the taking of the ark and when the men of Bethshemesh looked into it.

The modern bibles are riddled with false readings, false statements and unbelief. They are false witnesses to the truth of God, and they are translated by men who do not believe God has been able to preserve His words for us today. 

I and many other Christians believe God Almighty has preserved His inerrant words and we have them today in the King James Holy Bible.


Again, a reasonable answer defending the reading of the Authorized Version on this point is only a few clicks away. If you really want to know, the answer is at your fingertips. Thanks again to Will Kinney and brandplucked.webs.com for writing the article and for allowing us to repost his findings.

N.B. – Don’t forget that we have book deals going on all 4th of July weekend. Check out this post for more details.

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