The scope of 500,000 casualties is hard for us to fathom, but that is how many Israelites died in a war against their fellow Hebrews from Judah. Now, it is important to remember that ancient Near Easterners rounded their numbers and that no one in the original audience would have read this as a dishonest reporting of casualties if, say, 498,532 people actually had died. It is important to remember our doctrine of inerrancy claims that scripture is without error in what the original writers intended to claim, and the writer of Chronicles is not claiming an exact number.
Now that we have some understanding of the doctrine of inerrancy, let me just conclude by reflecting on how tragic this event is in Israel’s history. In essentially one to two generations, Israel has endured a mighty fall from their heights during Solomon’s reign. Imagine one out of every six people in Chicago killed, and we gain a sense of the tragedy contained in 2 Chronicles 13. Brother slays brother, all because one part of Israel has rejected God and His purposes for them in the line of David. Israel’s story continues to often prove tragic.