In our Greek Septuagint source text, there is a contradiction between the prices given in the two parallel accounts of 1 Kings 10:29 and 2 Chronicles 1:17.
In 1 Kings, the customs duty paid by a chariot was 100 silver coins, and a horse for 50 silver coins.
In 2 Chronicles, however, the fee paid by a chariot was 600 silver coins, and a horse 150 silver coins.
This contradiction does not exist in the surviving Hebrew Masoretic text, nor in the Aramaic Peshitta – only in the Greek Septuagint. So what’s going on?
Could it be a scribal error? Perhaps, but we’re going with the possibility that the Greek Septuagint is right in both places, and that there was a range of fees paid by the traders, depending on what they were carrying. Yes, perhaps 1 Kings is giving the minimum fee charged, while 2 Chronicles is recording the maximum fee charged.
This may be supported by the phrase ‘according to their means,’ which is only found in 2 Chronicles 1; it may suggest that it’s giving the maximum value paid if the trader’s customers can afford it.
This would make sense, as you can get more tax money out of the rich than you can out of the poor. Otherwise, importers of lower-value everyday goods would be paying a higher percentage of tax than the importers of luxury goods. Not only would this be unfair, but it would be bad economics, as it would probably kill-off all trade of lower-value goods, leading to less tax revenue, not more (as many modern governments have found).
So perhaps the actual fees were:
- Between 100 to 600 silver coins per chariot.
- Between 50 to 150 silver coins per horse.
Again, the fee depends on what goods they were carrying. This sounds more reasonable.
However, if this is the case, then the Hebrew Masoretic text must have been spuriously ‘fixed’ by someone later on to make both accounts match up, with only the Greek Septuagint preserving the original (correct) numbers.
However, this is all just a guess; we don’t really know what happened.
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