1 Samuel 13:21: A Review of Will Kinney’s Claims

The KJVO Claim

Will Kinney suggests that 1 Samuel 13:21 causes confusion among those of us who prefer the modern versions. His claim is that the KJV uses the word “file” in this passage and that the modern versions create confusion by using “two-thirds of a shekel.”

Here is a quick comparison/contrast of the versions:

  • KJV: Yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, and for the forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads.
  • NIV: The price was two thirds of a shekel for sharpening plowshares and mattocks, and a third of a shekel for sharpening forks and axes and for repointing goads.
  • NKJV: …and the charge for a sharpening was a pim for the plowshares, the mattocks, the forks, and the axes, and to set the points of the goads.
  • ESV: …and the charge was two-thirds of a shekel for the plowshares and for the mattocks, and a third of a shekel for sharpening the axes and for setting the goads.

Why do the modern versions, including the New King James Version, read differently?

A PiM or a “file”?

Pim-weight_drawing The KJV translates this Hebrew passage as “…they had a file…” The translators are following the Targums and Syriac Versions for their understanding of this term. The reason is that before the 1900s, a “PiM” was unknown. Even Hebrew scribes centuries ago were unfamiliar with this weight. Therefore, this was considered a “dubious” Hebrew word and best guesses were made as to the meaning of the term. Since this is the only place in the Old Testament that this term was used, the only clues were the context of the passage and a similar looking, but very different word meaning “to make wide (some say ‘mouth’)” made best sense. The problem is that the word PiM is NOT (and cannot be) the plural for the word “mouth” (PeH) as Kinney suggests (following the KJV marginal note). This verse has been problematic for that very reason. Besides, there is another perfectly fine, common word for “file” (?araqa).

Through archeological digs in the early 1900s where the Philistines once lived, many stones were found with the word “PiM” written on them. This is a stone that was used on scales to determine the value of objects/services. This weight was two-thirds the weight of a full shekel. For this reason, until the beginning of the 1900s, this word was obscure and no one knew what it really meant.

For More Information

  • Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament: 1766b
  • International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Volume 4, pg. 1053 “Weights and Measurements” I.D.6.
  • Wikipedia, PIM_weight
  • Jou?on, P., & Muraoka, T. (2006). A grammar of biblical Hebrew. §98e footnote 4.


  1. robycop3 says:

    Please note that in all his KJVO claims, Mr. Kinney WILL NOT address the FACT that his KJVO myth is TOTALLY LACKING in Scriptural support. This fact alone renders KJVO false, as all TRUE doctrines of worship are found in GOD’S WORD, either directly or by clear implication. And there’s not the first quark of the first word of support for KJVO to be found in the KJV itself, let alone in any other English version, old or new. thus, we must conclude that KJVO is both totally man-made and totally-FALSE.

    Let’s throw a little SECULAR HISTORY/ARCHAEOLOGY into the mix. As I said earlier, when a Jew calls someone a “philistine”, it’s an expression of utter contempt if not downright hate. Many of them equate ‘philistine’ with ‘barbarian’. But history/archaeology reveals that the Philistines were not barbarians. Far from it. OTOH, they were among the best ironsmiths & bronze smiths in that parta the world. Even the Egyptians came to them to have iron weapons & tools made.

    The Israelis had some skilled goldsmiths & silversmiths who made decorative items & small utensils, but no ironsmiths who could make weapons or larger tools.(A coulter is a plowshare or harrowing disk.) At various times, Philistine craftsmen set up smithies in Israel, observing a strict rule that they were not to teach their skill to any Israelis. At the time of 1 Samuel 13’s events, Israel & Philistia were at loggerheads, & all the Philistine smiths had left Israel, forcing the Israelis to travel to Philistia to obtain tools or have them repaired/sharpened. And no smith was allowed to sell any weapons to the Israelis.

    Knowing they had a monopoly, and Israel was not their friend at the time, the Philistines jacked up their prices for their tools, and the maintenance of them. This was among the issues that led to war.

    And if the Israelis actually had sharpening files at that time, there woulda been no need to do business with the Philistines. They coulda bought the tools & weapons from 3rd-party merchants & maintained them themselves.

    BTW, the Philistines had a healthy respect for the Israeli slingers & archers, whose weaponry didn’t depend upon metal smiths.

  2. Hi all. Here is my article on this and why the King James Bible is right, as always.

    Thank you,

    Will Kinney

    • Kinney says in the above article: "Many Bible study sources apparently still consider the word “pim” to be a plural Semitic cognate for the word “mouths”. Wigram’s Englishman’s Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of the Old Testament page 1012, Strongs concordance page 93, The Complete Word Study Old Testament, and the AMG publishers 1994 by Zodhiates on page 752 all continue to list the word “pim” under the Hebrew word # 6310 peh, which occurs hundreds of times."

      Using concordances to define terms goes beyond the scope of a concordance. Hebrew lexicons are the appropriate tools, not concordances. The concordances commonly make a mistake with this word. Eventhough the Strong's Concordance notes the wrong Hebrew word, it still notes that this is a pim. Why is this left out of your article?

      Using dated source materials and the wrong sources will lead to these kinds of errors. Consulting pre-1900s materials for circa 1900 archaeological evidence is circular argumentation of the worst kind.

      HALOT, the standard, most up-to-date lexicon notes that "pim" is the correct word with the meaning "two-thirds of a shekel." The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament also notes that this is the word "pim." If you need the number, see #1766 in the Theological Wordbook.

      Relying on unorthodox, Jewish sources, nonevangelical sources like Lamsa and out-dated material is not convincing…

  3. Mr. Kinney has never been able to provide any proof for his KJVO stance, although he has been asked repeatedly to do so on various discussion boards. all he has ever shown is that modern versions do not necessarily read the same as the KJV. His own opinion has become his urle-of-thumb. Sad…

  4. Darrel Hall says:

    See what Jack Chick has to say about KJVO

    • Douglas Zachary says:

      Jack Chick would hardly be a scholarly resource to evaluate the KJVO issue. Sadly, Jack is now gone, but I have asked David (who took his place) may questions and given opportunity to defend the KJVO position and he never responds to give any defense of KJVO. Of course I am asking some rather difficult questions.
      The bottom line is are there any errors in the KJV. It is very easy to prove translation errors in the KJV. In my studies I have come across many translation errors between the KJV and the Textus Receptus. Any one can find them.
      This does not mean the KJV is a bad translation of God’s Word and I continue to use it for specific reasons, but I prefer to follow the advice of the KJV translators and use a variety of translations, but I like the check the translations against the word of God in the original languages to avoid losing the nuances of meaning that the English translations of God’s Word often misses. DZ

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