‘2 and 30 year' (Gen 11:20)
'20 and 2 year' (1 Kings 14:20; 16:29)
‘30 and 2 year' (2 Kings 8:17).
So the addition by modern translations in 1 Sam 13:1b is problematic and actually requires replacement of the plural shanim in MT.
If you try and insert more time into the first number, you have a low chance of guessing right.
Therefore any conjectural emendation is improbable.
We now look at the inherent probability of MT.
Saul was 1
Reigned for 2
Had 3 thousand men
2 thousand with Saul
1 thousand with Jonathan
I shouldn’t be pointing this out because I like to see myself as a concentrism/chiasmus sceptic.
The probability of MT being right does not have to be very high to be above the probability of any particular conjecture.
It precedes them all, by many chapters.
It doesn’t come either at the beginning or end of Saul’s reign.
The 2 years can be read as placing the events of the narrative 2 years into Saul’s reign, rather than saying he only reigned 2 years.
We would also lack an explanation of why the regnal formula occurs right here.
1 Sam. 10:6
‘Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.’
Uniquely in Scripture, Saul is said as an adult to have become a different person.
“Then go down before me to Gilgal. And behold, I am coming down to you to offer burnt offerings and to sacrifice peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, until I come to you and show you what you shall do.”
When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart. And all these signs came to pass that day.
He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Sam. did not come to Gilgal, & the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, & the peace offerings.” & he offered the burnt offering.
1. It’s more probable than any specific conjecture.
2. It has some merits of connecting with the wider narrative.
3. It should therefore shed its reputation of being a parade example of being corrupt.