Students of the Old Testament often scratch their heads over some of the numbers there. A useful resource on this challenge comes from a section of the Church’s Old Testament Student Manual.
One of the most interesting examples of an issue with numbers is 1 Samuel 13:1, where the text is actually missing one number and part of another. What makes it so interesting is to see how different translations of the Bible attempt to fill in the gap.
Whether we are dealing with the Bible or the Book of Mormon, it’s important to realize that the work of writing, transcribing, copying, translating, and printing a text means that the Word of God passes through numerous human hands, each capable of error. We rejoice in the sacred gift of the scriptures and must look to them for guidance and inspiration, but we need to recognize that imperfections are possible, and that the final authority and source of all truth must be God, not a printed work made with the help of fallible mortals. Frankly, that’s actually one more reason why it’s so important to have modern revelation through authorized servants of God, the apostles and prophets, and one more reason why I’m grateful that this has been restored.
April 14 Update: For insight into some of the numerical issues in the Book of Mormon, see Brant Gardner’s page, “Counts and Numbers in the Book of Mormon.”