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1. Birth of Jesus

(1) Death of Herod

(2) Census of Quirinius

(3) Star of the Magi

(4) Course of Abijah

(5) Day and Month

(6) Summary

2. Baptism of Jesus

3. First Passover

4. Death of John the Baptist

5. Length of Jesus' Ministry

6. Death of Jesus

7. Summary of Dates



1. Paul's Conversion

2. Death of Herod Agrippa I

3. Famine under Claudius

4. Sergius Paulus

5. Edict of Claudius

6. Gallio

7. Festus

8. Relative Chronology of Acts

9. Pauline Epistles

10. Release and Death of Paul

11. Death of Peter

12. Death of James the Just

13. The Synoptic Gospels, etc.

14. Death of John

15. Summary of Dates


The current Christian era is reckoned from the birth of Jesus and is based upon the calculations of Dionysius (6th century). Subsequent investigation has shown that the Dionysian date is at least four years too late. Several eras were in use in the time of Jesus; but of these only the Varronian will be used coordinately with the Dionysian in the discussion of the chronology of the life of Jesus, 753 A. U. C. being synchronous with 1 B.C. and 754 A. U. C. with 1 A.D.

I. Chronology of the Life of Jesus.

1. Birth of Jesus:

Jesus was born before the death of Herod the Great (Matthew 2:1) at the time of a census or enrollment made in the territory of Herod in accordance with a decree of Augustus when Quirinius (Revised Version; Cyrenius, the King James Version) was exercising authority in the Roman province of Syria (Luke 2:1 f). At the time of Jesus' birth a star led the Magi of the East to seek in Jerusalem the infant whom they subsequently found in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1). John the Baptist was six months older than Jesus (Luke 1:36) and he was born in the days of Herod (Luke 1:5; compare Luke 2:1) after his father, Zacharias, of the priestly course of Abijah, had been performing the functions of his office in the temple.

(1) Death of Herod.

The death of Herod the Great occurred in the spring of 750/4. (NOTE: The alternative numbers are B.C. or A.D., i.e., 750 A. U. C. = 4 B.C., etc.) He ruled from his appointment in Rome 714/40 (Ant., XIV, xiv, 4-5, in the consulship of Caius Domitius Calvinus and Caius Asinius Pollio) 37 years, and from his accession in Jerusalem after the capture of the city 717/37 (Ant.,. XIV, xvi, 1-3; BJ, I, xvii, 9; I, xviii, 1-3; Dio Cassius xlix0.22; compare Schurer, GJV3, I, 358, note 11) 34 years (Ant, XVII, xviii, 1; BJ, I, xxxiii, 7-8; compare Schurer, op. cit., I, 415, note 167 where it is shown that Josephus reckons a year too much, probably counting from Nisan 1 and including partial years). Just before Herod's death there was an eclipse of the moon (Ant., XVII, vi, 4). According to astronomical calculations an eclipse was visible in Palestine on March 23 and September 15, 749/5, March 12, 750/4 and January 9, 753/1. Of these the most probable is that of March 12, 750/4. Soon after the eclipse Herod put to death his son Antipater and died five days later (Ant., XVII, vii; BJ, I, xxxiii, 7). Shortly after Herod's death the Passover was near at hand. (Ant., XVII, vi, 4 through ix, 3). In this year Passover (Nisan 15) fell on April 11; and as Archelaus had observed seven days of mourning for his father before this, Herod's death would fall between March 17 and April 4. But as the 37th (34th) year of his reign was probably reckoned from Nisan 1 or March 28, his death may be dated between March 28 and April 4, 750/4.

This date for Herod's death is confirmed by the evidence for the duration of the reigns of his three sons. Archelaus was deposed in 759/6 (Dio Cassius lv.27 in the consulship of Aemilius Lepidus and Lucius Arruntius) in the 10th year of his reign (Ant., XVII, xiii, 2; compare BJ, II, vii, 3 which gives the year as the 9th). Antipas was deposed most probably in the summer of 792/39 (Ant., XVIII, vii, 1-2; compare XVIII, vi, 11; XIX, viii, 2; BJ, II, ix, 6; Schurer, op. cit., I, 448, note 46 and 416, note 167). There are coins of Antipas from his 43rd year (Madden, Coins of the Jews, 121). The genuineness of a coin from the 44th year is questioned by Schurer but accepted by Madden. The coin from the 45th year is most probably spurious (Schurer, op. cit., I, 417, note 167). Philip died after reigning 37 years, in the 20th year of Tiberius-August 19, 786/33-787/34 (Ant., XVIII, iv, 6). There is also a coin of Philip from his 37th year (Madden, op. cit., 126). Thus Archelaus, Antipas and Philip began to reign in 750/4.

(2) Census of Quirinius.

The census or enrollment, which, according to Luke 2:1, was the occasion of the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem where Jesus was born, is connected with a decree of Augustus embracing the Greek-Roman world. This decree must have been carried out in Palestine by Herod and probably in accordance with the Jewish method-each going to his own city-rather than the Roman (Dig. 15, 4, 2; Zumpt, Das Geburtsjahr Christi, 195; Kenyon, Greek Papyri in the British Museum, III, 124; Schurer, Theol. Ztg, 1907, 683; and on the other hand, Ramsay, Expositor, 1908, I, 19, note). Certainly there is no intimation of an insurrection such as characterized a later census (Acts 5:37; Ant, XVIII, i, 1; BJ, II, xvii, 7; compare Tac. Ann. vi0.41; Livy Epit. cxxxvi, cxxxvii; Dessau, Inscrip. lat. Sel. number 212, col. ii, 36) and this may have been due in no small measure to a difference in method. Both Josephus and Luke mention the later census which was made by Quirinius on the deposition of A rchelaus, together with the insurrection of Judas which accompanied it. But while Josephus does not mention the Herodian census-although there may be some intimation of it in Ant, XVI, ix, 3; XVII, ii, 4; compare Sanclemente, De vulg. aerae emend., 438; Ramsay, Was Christ Born at Beth.1, 178-Luke carefully distinguishes the two, characterizing the census at the time of Jesus' birth as "first," i.e. first in a series of enrollments connected either with Quirinius or with the imperial policy inaugurated by t he decree of Augustus. The Greek-Roman writers of the time do not mention this decree and later writers (Cassiodor, Isidor and Suidas) cannot be relied upon with certainty as independent witnesses (Zumpt, Geburtsjahr, 148). Yet the geographical work of Agrippa and the preparation of a breviarium totius imperil by Augustus (Tac. Ann. i0.11; Suet. Aug. 28 and 101; Dio Cassius liii0.3; lvi0.33; compare Mommsen, Staatsrecht, II, 1025, note 3), together with the interest of the emperor in the organization and finances of the empire and the attention which he gave to the provinces (Marquardt, Rom. Staatsverwaltung, II, 211; compare 217), are indirectly corroborative of Luke's statement. Augustus himself conducted a census in Italy in 726/28, 746/8, 767/14 (Mommsen, Res Ges., 34) and in Gaul in 727/27 (Dio Cassius liii.22, 5; Livy Epit. cxxxiv) and had a census taken in other provinces (Pauly-Wissowa, Realencyc., under the word "Census," 1918; Marquardt, op. cit., II, 213). For Egypt there is evidence of a regular p eriodic census every 14 years extending back to 773/20 (Ramsay, op. cit., 131 if; Grenfell and Hunt, Oxy. Papyri, II, 207; Wilcken, Griech. Ostraka, I, 444) and it is not improbable that this procedure was introduced by Augustus (Schurer, op. cit., I, 515). The inference from Egyptian to similar conditions in other provinces must indeed be made cautiously (Wilcken, op. cit., 449; Marquardt, op. cit., 441); yet in Syria the regular tributum capitis seems to imply some such preliminary work (Dig, 1. 15, 3; Appian, Syriac., 50; Marquardt, op. cit., II, 200, note 2; Pauly-Wissowa, op. cit., 1921; Ramsay, op. cit., 154). The time of the decree is stated only in general terms by Luke, and it may have been as early as 727/27 (Zumpt, op. cit., 159; Marquardt, op. cit., II, 212) or later in 746-8 (Huschke, Census, 34; Ramsay, op. cit., 158), its execution in different provinces and subject kingdoms being carried out at different times. Hence, Luke dates the census in the kingdom of Herod specifically by connecting it with the administrative functions of Quirinius in Syria. But as P. Quintilius Varus was the legate of Syria just before and after the death of Herod from 748/6-750/4 (Ant., XVII, v, 2; XVII, ix., 3; XVII, x, 1 and 9; XVII, xi, 1; Tac. Hist. v0.9; and coins in Eckhel, Doctr. num. vet., III, 275) and his predecessor Was C. Sentius Saturninus from 745/9-748/6 (Ant; XVI, ix, 1; x, 8; xi, 3; XVII, i, 1; ii, 1; iii, 2), there seems to be no place for Quirinius during the closing years of Herod's reign. Tertullian indeed speaks of Saturninus as legate at the time of Jesus' birth (Adv. Marc., iv.9). The interpretation of Luke's statement as indicating a date for the census before Quirinius was legate (Wieseler, Chron. Syn., 116; Lagrange, Revue Biblique, 1911, 80) is inadmissible. It is possible that the connection of the census with Quirinius may be due to his having brought to completion what was begun by one of his predecessors; or Quirinius may have been commissioned especially by the emperor as legatus ad census accipiendos to conduct a census in Syria and this commission may have been connected temporally with his campaign against the Homonadenses in Cilicia (Tac. Ann. iii0.48; compare Noris, Cenotaph. Pis., 320; Sanclemente, op. cit., 426 passim; Ramsay, op. cit., 238). It has also been suggested by Bour (L'Inscription de Quirinius, 48) that Quirinius may have been an imperial procurator specially charged with authority in the matter of the Herodian census. The titulus Tiburtinus (CIL, XIV, 3613; Dessau, Inscr. Latin Sel., 918)-if rightly assigned to him-and there seems to be no sufficient reason for questioning the conclusiveness of Mommsen's defense of this attribution (compare Liebenam, Verwaltungsgesch., 365)-proves that he was twice legate of Syria, and the titulus Venetus (CIL, III, 6687; Dessau, op. cit., 2683) gives evidence of a census conducted by him in Syria. His administration is dated by Ramsay (op. cit., 243) in 747/7; by Mommsen in the end of 750/4 or the beginning of 751/3 (op. cit., 172). Zahn (Neue kirch. Zeitschr., 1893, IV, 633), followed by Spitta (Zeitschr.ff. d. neutest. Wiss., 1906, VII, 293), rejects the historicity of the later census connected by Josephus with the deposition of Archelaus, basing his view on internal grounds, and assigns the Lucan census to a time shortly after the death of Herod. This view however is rendered improbable by the evidence upon which the birth of Jesus is assigned to a time before the death of Herod (Matthew 2:1 Luke 1:5; Luke 2:1 f); by the differentiation of the census in Luke 2:1 and Acts 5:37; by the definite connection of the census in Josephus with Syria and the territory of Archelaus (compare also the tit. Venet.); and by the general imperial policy in the formation of a new province (Marquardt, op. cit., II, 213). Moreover there seems to be no adequate ground for identifying the Sabinus of Josephus with Quirinius as urged by Weber, who regards the two accounts (Ant., XVII, viii, 1 and XVII, iv, 5; XVIII, i, 2; ii, 1) as due to the separation by Josephus of parallel accounts of the same events in his sources (Zeitschr.ff. d. neutest. Wiss., 1909, X, 307)-the census of Sabinus-Quirinius being assigned to 4 B.C., just after the death of Herod the Great. The synchronism of the second census of Quirinius with the periodic year of the Egyptian census is probably only a coincidence, for it was occasioned by the deposition of Archelaus; but its extension to Syria may be indicative of its connection with the imperial policy inaugurated by Augustus (Tac. Ann. vi0.41; Ramsay, op. cit., 161).

(3) Star of the Magi.

The identification of the star of the Magi (Matthew 2:2; compare Matthew 2:7, 9, 16; Macrobius, Sat., II, 4; Sanclemente, op. cit., 456; Ramsay, op. cit., 215) and the determination of the time of its appearance cannot be made with certainty, although it has been associated with a conjunction in 747/7 and 748/6 of Saturn and Jupiter in the sign of Pisces-a constellation which was thought to stand in close relation with the Jewish nation (Ideler, Handbuch d. math. u. tech. Chron., II, 400). When the Magi came to Jerusalem, however, Herod was present in the city; and this must have been at least several months before his death, for during that time he was sick and absent from Jerusalem (Ant., XVII, vi, 1; BJ, I, xxxiii, 1).

(4) Course of Abijah.

The chronological calculations of the time of the service of the priestly course of Abijah in the temple, which are made by reckoning back from the time of the course of Jehoiarib which, according to Jewish tradition, was serving at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, are uncertain (Schurer, op. cit., II, 337, note 3; compare Lewin, Fasti Sacri, 836).

(5) Day and month.

The day and month of Jesus' birth are also uncertain. December 25 was celebrated by the church in the West as early as the 2nd century-if the date in Hippolytus on Dan., IV, 23, be genuine (compare Ehrhardt, Altchr. Lit., 1880-1900, 383); but January 6 was celebrated in the East as the anniversary both of the birth and of the baptism. The fact that shepherds were feeding their flocks at night when Jesus was born (Luke 2:8) makes it improbable that the season of the year was winter.

(6) Summary.

The birth of Jesus may therefore be assigned to the period 747/7 to 751/5, before the death of Herod, at the time of a census made by Herod in accordance with a decree of Augustus and when Quirinius was exercising extraordinary authority in Syria-Varus being the regular legate of the province, i.e. probably in 748/6.


2. Baptism of Jesus:

The Synoptic Gospels begin their description of the public ministry of Jesus with an account of the ministry of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1; Mark 1:1; Luke 3:1; compare of in John 1:19; John 4:24; Josephus, Ant, XVIII, iii, 3) and Luke definitely dates the baptism of Jesus by John in the 15th year of Tiberius. Luke also designates this event as the beginning of Jesus' ministry, and by stating Jesus' age approximately brings it into connection with the date of His birth. If Luke reckoned the reign of Tiberius fro m the death Augustus, August 19, 767/14, the 15th year would extend from August 19, 781/28 to August 18, 782/29; and if Jesus was about thirty years old at this time, His birth would fall 751/3 to 752/2-or sometime after the death of Herod, which is inconsistent with Luke's own and Matthew's representation. This indeed was one of the common modes of reckoning the imperial reigns. The mode of reckoning from the assumption of the tribunician power or from the designation as imperator is altogether unlikely in Luke's case and intrinsically improbable, since for Tiberius the one began in 748/6 and the other in 743/11 (Dio Cassius Iv0.9; liv0.33; Vell. ii0.99; Suet. Tib. ix.11). But if, as seems likely, the method of reckoning by imperial years rather than by the yearly consuls was not definitely fixed when Luke wrote, it is possible that he may have counted the years of Tiberius from his appointment in 764/11 or 765/12 to equal authority with Augustus in the provinces (Veil. ii 121; Suet. Tib. xx0.21; Tac. Ann. i.3). This method seems not to have been employed elsewhere (Lewin, op. cit., 1143; compare Ramsay, op. cit., 202). The coins of Antioch in which it is found are regarded as spurious (Eckhel, op. cit., III, 276), the genuine coins reckoning the reign of Tiberins from the death of Augustus (ibid., III, 278). If Luke reckoned the reign of Tiberins from 764/11 or 765/12, the 15th year would fall in 778/25 or 779/26, probably the latter, and Jesus' birth about thirty years earlier, i.e. about 748/6 or 749/5.

3. First Passover:

At the time of the first Passover in Jesus' ministry the Herodian temple had been building 46 years (John 2:20). Herod began the temple in the 18th year of his reign (Ant., XV, xi, 1, which probably corrects the statement in BJ, I, xxi, I that it was the 15th year; compare Schurer, op. cit., I, 369, note 12). As Josephus reckons from the accession of Herod in 717/37, the 18th year would be 734/20 to 735/21 and 46 years later would be 780/27 to 781/28. The interval implied in John between this Passover and the beginning of Jesus' ministry agrees well with the Lucan dating of the baptism in 779/26.

4. Death of John the Baptist:

The imprisonment of John the Baptist, which preceded the beginning of Jesus' Galilean work, was continued for a time (Matthew 11:2-19 Luke 7:18-35) but was finally terminated by beheading at the order of Herod Antipas. Announcement of the death was made to Jesus while in the midst of His Galilean ministry (Matthew 14:3-12 Mark 6:14-29 Luke 9:7-9). Josephus reports that the defeat of Antipas by Aretas, in the summer of 789/36, was popularly regarded as a Divine punishment for the murder of John (Ant., XVIII, v, 2); But although Josephus mentions the divorce of Aretas daughter by Antipas as one of the causes of hostilities, no inference can be drawn from this or from the popular interpretation of Antipas' defeat, by which the int erval between John s death and this defeat can be fixed (Schurer, op. cit., I, 443).

5. Length of Jesus' Ministry:

The Synoptic Gospels mention the Passion Passover at which Jesus' ministry was terminated, but they contain no data by which the interval between the imprisonment of John the Baptist and this Passover can be fixed with certainty. Yet indications are not wanting that the interval consisted of at least two years. The Sabbath controversy broke out in Galilee when the grain was still standing in the fields (Matthew 12:1 Mark 2:23 Luke 6:1) and the condition of the grass when the Five Thousand were fed (Matthew 14:15 Mark 6:39 Luke 9:12) points to the springtime, the Passion Passover marking the return of still another springtime (compare also Luke 13:7 Matthew 23:37). But the Gospel of John mentions explicitly three Passovers (John 2:23; John 6:4; John 11:55) and probably implies a fourth (John 5:1), thus necessitating a ministry of at least two years and making probable a ministry of three years after the first Passover. The Passover of 6:4 cannot be eliminated on textual grounds, for the documentary evidence is conclusive in its favor and the argument against it based on the statements of certain patristic writers is unconvincing (compare Turner, HDB, I, 407; Zahn, Kom., IV, 708). The indications of time from John 6:4 John 11:55 -the Passion Passover-are definite and clear (John 7:2; John 10:22). But the interval between the first Passover (John 2:23) and the Galilean Passover (John 6:4) must have been one and may have been two years. The following considerations favor the latter view: Jesus was present in Jerusalem at a feast (John 5:1) which is not named but is called simply "a" or "the" feast of the Jews. The best authorities for the text are divided, some supporting the insertion, others the omission of the definite article before "feast." If the article formed part of the original text, the feast may have been either Tabernacles-from the Jewish point of view-or Passover-from the Christian point of view. If the article was wanting in the original text, the identification of the feast must be made on contextual and other grounds. But the note of time in John 4:35 indicates the lapse of about nine months since the Passover of John 2:23 and it is not likely that the Galilean ministry which preceded the feeding of the Five Thousand lasted only about three months. In fact this is rendered impossible by the condition of the grain in the fields at the time of the Sabbath controversy. The identification of the feast of John 5:1 with Purim, even if the article be not genuine, is extremely improbable; and if so, a Passover must have intervened between John 2:23 and John 6:4, making the ministry of Jesus extend over a period of three years and the months which preceded the Passover of John 2:23. While the identification cannot be made with certainty, if the feast was Passover the subject of the controversy with the Jews in Jerusalem as well as the season of the year would harmonize with the Synoptic account of the Sabbath controversy in Galilee which probably followed this Passover (compare the variant reading in Luke 6:1).

6. Death of Jesus:

Jesus was put to death in Jerusalem at the time of the Passover when Pontius Pilate was procurator of Judea (Matthew 27:2; Mark 15:1; Luke 23:1; John 18:29; John 19:1; Acts 3:13; Acts 4:27; Acts 13:28 1 Timothy 6:13; Tac. Ann. xv.44), Caiaphas being the high priest (Matthew 26:3, 17 John 11:49; John 18:13) and Herod Antipas the tetrarch of Galilee and Perea (Luke 23:7). Pilate was procurator from 779/26 to 789/36 (Ant., XVIII, iv, 3; v, 3; compare Schurer, op. cit., I, 487, note 141); Caiaphas was high priest from 771/18 to 789/36 (Ant., XVIII, ii, 2; iv, 3; compare Schurer, op. cit., II, 271) and Antipas was tetrarch from 750/4 to 792/39. If the first Passover of Jesus' ministry was in 780/27, the fourth would fall in 783/30. The gospels name Friday as the day of the crucifixion (Matthew 27:62 Mark 15:42 Luke 23:54 John 19:14, 31, 42) and the Synoptic Gospels represent this Friday as Nisan 15-the day following (or according to Jewish reckoning from sunset to sunset, the same day as) the day on which the paschal supper was eaten (Matthew 26:17; Mark 14:12; Luke 22:7). But the Fourth Gospel is thought by many to represent the paschal meal as still uneaten when Jesus suffered (John 18:28; compare John 13:29); and it is held that the Synoptic Gospels also contain traces of this view (Matthew 26:5 Mark 14:2; Mark 15:21 Luke 23:26). Astronomical calculations show that Friday could have fallen on Nisan 14 or 15 in 783/30 according to different methods of reckoning (von Soden, EB, I, 806; compare Bacon, Journal of Biblical Literature, XXVIII, 2, 1910, 130; Fotheringham, Jour. of Theol. Studies, October, 1910, 120), but the empirical character of the Jewish calendar renders the result of such calculations uncertain (Schurer, op. cit., I, 749). In the year 783/30 Friday, Nican 15, would fall on April 7. There is an early patristic tradition which dates the death of Jesus in the year 782/29, in the consulship of the Gemini (Turner, HDB, I, 413), but its origin and trustworthy character are problematical.

7. Summary of Dates:

1. Birth of Jesus, 748/6.

2. Death of Herod the Great, 750/4.

3. Baptism of Jesus, 779/26.

4. First Passover of Jesus' ministry, 780/27.

5. Death of Jesus, 783/30.


Schurer, Geschichte des Judischen Volkes im Zeitalter Jesu Christi, 3. und 4. Aufl., 1901-9, 3 volumes, English translation of the 2nd edition, in 5 volumes, 1885-94; Ideler, Handbuch der mathematischen und technischen Chronologie, 1825-26, 2 volumes; Wieseler, Chronologische Synopse der Evangelien, 1843, English translation; Lewin, Fasti Sacri, 1865; Turner, article "Chronology of the NT" in HDB, 1900, I. 403-25; von Soden, article "Chronology" in Cheyne and Black, EB, 1899, I, 799-819; Ramsay, Wa s Christ Born at Bethlehem? 1898; F. R. Montgomery Hitchcock, article "Dates" in Hastings, Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels; Mommsen, Res Gestae Divi Augusti2.

II. Chronology of the Apostolic Age.

The chronology of the apostolic age must be based on the data in Acts and the epistolary literature of the New Testament which afford contacts with persons or events of the Greek-Roman world. From the fixed points thus secured a general outline of the relative chronology may be established with reasonable probability.

1. Paul's Conversion:

Paul was converted near Damascus (Acts 9:3; Acts 22:5; Acts 26:12; Galatians 1:17). After a brief stay in that city (Acts 9:19) he went to Arabia and then came again to Damascus (Galatians 1:17). When he left Damascus the second time, he returned to Jerusalem after an absence of three years (Galatians 1:18). The flight of Paul from Damascus (Acts 9:24) probably terminated his second visit to the city. At that time the ethnarch of Aretas, the king of the Nabateans, acting with the resident Jews (Acts 9:23), guarded t he city to seize him (2 Corinthians 11:32). Aretas IV succeeded Obodas about 9 B.C., and reigned until about 40 A.D. Damascus was taken by the Romans in 62 B.C. and probably continued under their control until the death of Tiberius (March 37 A.D.). Roman coins of Damascus exist from the time of Augustus, Tiberius and Nero, but there are no such coins from the time of Caligula and Claudius (Schurer, op. cit., I, 737; II, 153). Moreover the relations of Aretas to Augustus and Tiberius make it extremely improbable that he held Damascus during their reign as part of his kingdom or acquired it by conquest. The statement of Paul however seems to imply Nabatean control of the city, and this is best explained on the supposition that Damascus was given to Aretas by Caligula, the change in the imperial attitude being due perhaps to the influence primarily of Agrippa and possibly also of Vitellius (Steinmann, Aretas IV, 1909, 34). But if Paul's escape from Damascus was not earlier than 37 A.D., his conversion cannot be placed earlier than 34 or 35 A.D., and the journey to Jerusalem 14 years later (Galatians 2:1) not earlier than 50 or 51 A.D.

2. Death of Herod Agrippa I:

Herod Agrippa I died in Caesarea shortly after a Passover season (Acts 12:23; compare Acts 12:3, 19). Caligula had given him the tetrarchy of Philip and of Lysanias in 37 A.D.-the latter either at this time or later-with the title of king (Ant., XVIII, vi, 10; BJ, II, ix, 6) and this was increased in 40 A.D. by the tetrarchy of Antipas (Ant., XVIII, vii, 1; BJ, II, ix, 6). Claudius gave him also Judea and Samaria (Ant., XIX, v, 1; BJ, II, xi, 5) thus making his territory even more extensive than that of his grandfather, Herod the Great. Agrippa reigned over "all Judea" for three years under Claudius (Ant., XIX, viii, 2; BJ, II, xi, 6), his death falling in the spring of 44 A.D., in the 7th year of his reign. The games mentioned by Josephus in this connection are probably those that were celebrated in honor of the return of Claudius from Britain in 44 A.D. There are coins of Agrippa from his 6th year, but the attribution to him of coins from other years is questioned (Schurer, op. cit., 560, note 40; Madden, op. cit., 132).

3. Famine under Claudius:

The prophecy of a famine and its fulfillment under Claudius (Acts 11:28) are associated in Acts with the death of Herod Agrippa I (Acts 11:30; Acts 12:23). Famines in Rome during the reign of Claudius are mentioned by Suetonius (Claud. xviii), Dio Cassius (lx.11), Tacitus (Annals xii.43), and Orosius (vii.6). Josephus narrates in the time of Fadus the generosity of Helena during a famine in Palestine (Ant., XX, ii, 5), but subsequently dates the famine generally in the time of Fadus and Alexander. The famine in P alestine would fall therefore at some time between 44 and 48 (Schurer, op. cit., I, 567, note 8).

4. Sergius Paulus:

When Paul visited Cyprus with Barnabas the island was administered by Sergius Paulus (Acts 13:7), a proprietor with the title proconsul (Marquardt, op. cit., I, 391). There is an inscription from Cyprus (Cagnat, Inscr. graec. ad res rom. pertin., III; 930) dating from the 1st century, and probably from the year 53 (Zahn, Neue kirch. Zeitschr., 1904, XV, 194) in which an incident in the career of a certain Apollonius is dated in the proconsulship of Paulus (epi Palilou (anth)upatou).

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1. Difficulties of the Subject

2. Plan of Treatment

3. Bible to be Regarded as Highest Authority






1. Causes of Variation in Systems

2. Some Important and Pivotal Dates

3. Difficulties to Be Removed

4. Overlappings


Indications of Overlapping


Main Points at Issue


A Suggested Interpretation


I. Introductory.

1. Difficulties of the Subject:

For evident reasons the student of Biblical chronology must meet many difficulties, and must always be severely handicapped. First of all, the Old Testament is not purely nor intentionally a book of history. Nor does it present a formulated system of chronology, its many numbers and dates being used principally with a view to the spiritual facts and truths with which the authors were concerned. We are not, therefore, to expect to find a perfectly arranged order of periods and dates, though happily for us in our investigation we shall indeed find many accurately dated events, frequent consecutions of events, and orderly success ions of officials; as, for example, the numerous genealogical tables, the succession of judges and the lists of kings.

Furthermore, there is not to be found in the Old Testament one particular and definitely fixed era, from which all of its events are dated, as is the case in Christian history. The points of departure, or reckoning, are found to vary in different periods of the advancing history; being at one stage the Creation, at another the migration of Abraham, or the Exodus, or again the disruption of the kingdom. Ordinarily dates and all time-allusions are comparative, i.e. they are related to the reign of some contemporary monarch, as the vision of Isaiah "in the year that king Uzziah died" (Isaiah 6:1), or to some unusual occurrence, historical or natural, as the great earthquake (Amos 1:1 Zechariah 14:5). Only occasional reference is found to some event, which marks an era-beginning; such as the Exodus (Judges 11:16, 26 1 Kings 6:1).

The general lack of uniformity among writers on Biblical chronology contributes further toward increase of the already perplexing confusion. It is almost possible to say that no two writers agree; and proposed harmonies are with each other most inharmonious. The two articles on Old Testament chronology in a recent work (Murray, Illus. Bible Dictionary, 1908), for example, are several hundred years apart at certain points. Wide diversity of opinion exists about the most prominent events, such as the call of Abraham and the age of his famous contemporary Hammurabi, the year of the Exodus, and the beginning of Solomon's temple. Naturally there is less variance of opinion about later dates, some of which, e.g. the fall of Samaria and the destruction of Jerusalem, may be considered as fixed. A like wide range of opinion prevails among archaeologists with regard to events in contemporaneous history, the difference between Goodspeed and Hommel in the dates of early Babylonian history being five hundred years, and the beginning and extent of the Hyksos period in Egypt varying in different "authorities" by hundreds of years. Nor should the difference in the various and total numbers of the Hebrew, Samaritan and Septuagint texts of the pre-Abrahamic ages be left out of sight in any statement of the difficulties attending the discussion of this subject.

2. Plan of Treatment:

These difficulties, and others as serious, have determined the plan of this article. The usual method of development has been to begin with the sources of Old Testament history, and to follow its course downward. While such a system may have its advantages, there is, however, this serious disadvantage connected with it: that the least certain dates are confessedly those at the beginning of the records, and the use of them at the foundation renders the whole structure of the discussion more or less uncertain. Archaeology and comparative history have done much to fix dates from the Exodus downward, bringing these later centuries by discovery and translation almost into the position of attested history. But the ages before the Exodus, and particularly before Abraham, still lie from the very nature of the ease in great obscurity. And thus any system beginning with the indistinct early past, with its compacted numbers and their uncertain interpretation, is much like a chain hung on thin air. The writer purposes, therefore, beginning with certain familiar, important and pivotal dates, to gather around and relate to these the events and persons of the Old Testament. Such accepted dates are: the completion of the Second Temple in 516, the fall of Jerusalem in 586, the fall of Samaria in 721, tribute to Shalmaneser II from Jehu in 842, and from a member of Omri's dynasty in 854. Such Old Testament events as mark the beginning of eras are the Disruption, Solomon's temple, the Exodus and Abraham's Call. The material and the plan, then, almost necessarily require that we begin at the end of the history and work logically backward to the earlier stages, at which we may hope to arrive with firm ground under our feet for the disposition of the more uncertain problems. It is hoped that on this plan the system of chronology will not be mere speculation, nor a personal theory, but of some certainty and affording some assurance in days of wild assertion and free manipulation.

3. Bible to be Regarded as Highest Authority:

It should be remembered that this is a study of Bible chronology, and therefore full value will be given to the explicit and positive statements of the Bible. Surely the time has come, when all fair-minded men should recognize that a clear and straightforward declaration of the Sacred Scriptures is not to be summarily rejected because of its apparent contradiction by some unknown and irresponsible person, who could stamp clay or chisel stone. It has been all too common that archaeological and critical adventurers have doubted and required accurate proof of every Bible statement, but have been ready enough to give credence to any statement from ancient pagan sources. We assume, as we have every reason to do, the trustworthiness of the Bible records, which have been corroborated in countless instances; and we shall follow their guidance in preference to any other. The help of contemporaneous history and the witness of archaeology can be used to advantage, but should not be substituted for the plain facts of the Scriptures, which are full worthy of our trust and regard. The province of a chronology of the Bible is properly to present in system the dates therein given, with an honest effort to harmonize the difficulties, using the external helps, but ever regardful of Scripture authority and rights.

II. The Ages between the Testaments.

Between the coming of Christ and the end of Old Testament history there lie in round numbers four hundred years. But while these were extra-Biblical ages, they were neither barren nor uneventful years; for in them will be found much of the highest value in the development of Jewish life, and in the preparation for the Messiah. And thus they have their proper place in Bible chronology (see BETWEEN THE TESTAMENTS). The birth of Jesus could not have been later than 4 B.C., since Herod the Great died in April of that year. Herod became king of Judea in 37 B.C. Palestine had been conquered and Jerusalem entered by the Romans under Pompey in 56 B.C., the Jews coming in this way under the power of Rome. The Roman age was preceded by the government of priest-kings, with which the Idumean Antipater became identified by marriage, so that Herod, whom Rome made king, was both Jew and alien.

The period of the Maccabees, which ended in 39 B.C. with the removal of Antigonus by the Romans in favor of Herod, began 168 B.C. with Judas. Antipater, who had been appointed procurator of Judea in 47, was assassinated in 43 B.C. The period of the Seleucids stretches from its close with the regency of Antiochus VII in 128 back to its founder, Seleucus, 312 B.C. The most notable of these monarchs from the Jewish point of view was Antiochus Epiphanes, who reigned from 175 to 164, and in 168 gave occasion to the rise of the Maccabees by his many acts of impiety and oppression, particularly the desecration of the Jerusalem temple. In 203 B.C. Antiochus the Great, who had become king of Syria in 223, took Jerusalem, and later, in 198, annexed Judea to Syria. Previous to this Judea had been an Egyptian dependency, as after the death of Alexander the Great, 323 B.C., and the division of his empire, it had been annexed by Ptolemy Soter to Egypt. Ptolemy Philadelphus, becoming king 280 B.C., encouraged the translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, the result being the Septuagint version, and all it meant by way of preparation for the spread of Christianity. Alexander's defeat of Darius III, or Codomannus, at Arbela in 331 brought the Persian empire to an end, fulfilling the long-cherished ambition of the Greeks for mastery of Asia. The long reign of the Biblical king of Persia, Artaxerxes Longimanus, extended from 465 to 424 B.C., and in reaching his reign we find ourselves in the region of the Old Testament history. Reversing the order of this brief review and setting out from Old Testament point of view, we have the following table for the centuries between the Testaments:

III. Persian Period.

Entering now the last period of Old Testament history, which may be called the Persian period, we find that the activities of Ezra, Nehemiah and other Jewish leaders are dated by the regnal years of the kings of Persia (e.g. Haggai 1:1 Zechariah 1:1 Ezra 1:1 Nehemiah 2:1); and consequently the difficulties in the chronology of this period are not great. Recently a fanciful effort has been made to place the events narrated in Esther, Ezra and Nehemiah in the time of the Babylonian Captivity, claiming Scripture warrant from the occurrence of these names, with Mordecai, in Ezra 2:2 and Nehemiah 7:7; but altogether without success (see Prince of Judah, or Days of Nehemiah Redated). These names were doubtless of common occurrence, and their appearance among those returning with Zerubbabel is not sufficient to affect the historical evidence for the accepted dates of Ezra and Nehemiah. The attempt to move back these dates into the 6th century, to associate Nehemiah with Daniel and Mordecai and to place his work before Zerubbabel may be dismissed as pure fancy and impossible of reconciliation with the Old Testament narrative.

Artaxerxes I began his reign, which gives date to Ezra and Nehemiah, in 465 B.C. In his 7th year, 458, Ezra went from Babylon to Jerusalem by the king's decree (Ezra 7:7), taking back with him the vessels of the Temple and much besides for the worship at Jerusalem, accompanied also by a great company of returning Jews. Nehemiah followed from Shushan in the 20th year of the king (Nehemiah 1:1), having heard of and being distressed by the partial failure of Ezra's efforts. Under his wise and courageous leadership, the city walls were speedily restored, and many reforms accomplished. He returned after twelve years (433) to the service of the king in Shushan (Nehemiah 13:6), but in a short time, hearing evil tidings from Jerusalem, went back to complete his reforms, and apparently spent the rest of his life in that work. Although the Bible is silent, such is the testimony of Josephus. The Book of Mal, reflecting the difficulties and evils of this time, is evidently to be placed here, but not with exactness, as it might have been written as early as 460 or as late as 420.

The period from the return under Ezra (458) back to the completion of the Temple in the reign of Darius I (516) is, with the exception of incidental references and the assignment of undated books and incidents, practically a blank. Here belong, we believe, the Book of Esther, possibly Mal, some of the Psalms, and those social and religious tendencies among the returned exiles, which made the vigorous reforms of Ezra and Nehemiah so necessary. But the Old Testament does not draw the curtain from the mystery of that half-century, that we may know the happenings and watch the development. Beyond this blank we come again to explicit dates. The second temple, begun with the Return under Zerubbabel, was completed in the 6th year of Darius, i.e. 516. The building of it, which had been early abandoned for selfish reasons, was resumed in the 2nd year of Darius under the exhortation of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah (Haggai 1:1 Zechariah 1:1). Darius the Great began his reign in 521. Cambyses succeeded Cyrus in 527. Babyl on was taken by the Persians in 538, and shortly after the Jews, under the edict of Cyrus, began their return to Jerusalem, reaching their destination by 536 at the latest. Cyrus overthrew Lydia in 545, the Medes five years earlier, and must have come to the Persian throne not later than 555. His conquest of Asia Minor opened the contest between Persia and Greece for supremacy, to be continued by Darius and. Xerxes, resulting finally at Arbela (331) in Greek triumph under Alexander, and the inauguration of a new age.

The table for the Persian period of Old Testament history, following the stream upward, is therefore as follows:

IV. Babylonian Period.

Just preceding the Persian is the Babylonian period of Old Testament chronology, overlapping, of course, the former, and finally superseded by it in Cyrus' conquest of Babylonia. This period may properly be said to begin with the death in 626 B.C. of Ashurbanipal, the last great ruler of Assyria. At this time Nabopolassar had been made governor of Babylonia, subject to the supremacy of Assyria. With Ashurbanipal's death Nabopolassar became independent sovereign of Babylonia, and shortly entered into league with the Medes to overthrow the rule of Assyria, and then to divide its empire between them. This was accomplished in the fall of Nineveh (606) which brought the end of the mighty Assyrian empire, the last king being Sinsharishkun (the historic Saracus), a son of Ashurbanipal. Some years before his death in 604 Nabopolassar associated with him on the throne of Babylonia his son Nebuchadnezzar, most illustrious ruler of the new Babylonian empire, and intimately connected with the history of Judah in the last years of that kingdom. His long reign came to an end in 562.

While the conflict, which brought Assyria to its end, and the attendant confusion, were absorbing the attention of Mesopotamian countries, Egypt under a new and virile dynasty was reviving her ambitions and intrigues for dominion in Asia. Pharaoh-necoh II taking advantage of the confusion and helplessness of Assyria invaded Palestine in 609, intending to march on through Palestine to attack Mesopotamia. King Josiah in loyalty to his Assyrian overlord opposed him, but was defeated and slain at the battle of Megiddo, after a reign of 31 years; apparently an unnecessary and foolish opposition on Josiah's part, as the plan of Necoh's march shows that Judah was not directly affected. After the victory at Megiddo, Necoh continued his march north-eastward, subduing Syria and hoping to have a hand in Mesopotamian affairs. But in 606 or 607 B.C. he was defeated at Carchemish and driven back to Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, fresh from victory over Nineveh. In the same year Nebuchadnezzar marched against Egypt, receiving the submission of Jerusalem as he passed through Palestine, and sending noble hostages back to Babylon, among whom were Daniel and his three friends. The death of his father and his endangered succession recalled Nebuchadnezzar suddenly to Babylon, where he became sole ruler in 604. It appears that Necoh must have returned to Egypt after Megiddo and before the battle of Carchemish, as he made Jehoiakim, king in place of Jehoahaz, whom he carried captive to Egypt. Nebuchadnezzar's victory at Carchemish and his march southward brought Judah in close relations with Babylon, and opened up the dramatic chapter of Jerusalem's fall and exile. These historic events fix the dates of the last kings and the closing incidents of the kingdom of Judah, as shown in the following table:

V. Assyrian Period and Judah after Fall of Samaria.

This section, which may for convenience be treated as a division, is the chronology of Judah under Assyria after the fall of the Northern Kingdom in 721. As the Scripture time-references are frequent and explicit, and the contemporaneous Assyrian records are full, and explicit also, the problems of this period are neither many nor insoluble. One difficulty is found in the fact that the aggregate years of the reigns of Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon and Josiah fall one or two years short of the period between Hezekiah's accession in 726 and Josiah's death in 609. But there is evidence of anarchical conditions at the close of Amon's reign (2 Kings 21:23, 14), and it is probable that at least a year should be counted for the interregnum. The chief difficulty is with the invasions of Sennacherib in Hezekiah's reign. The confusion is caused by the apparent dating of Sennacherib's famous and disastrous invasion of 701 in the 14th year of Hezekiah's reign (2 Kings 18:13). Various attempts reconciliation have been made; one attempt has been to place the beginning of Hezekiah's reign in 715, which is out of the question entirely, as it disregards the exact terms in which the beginning of his reign is placed before the fall of Samaria (2 Kings 18:10). Another suggestion has been that "24th" be read instead of "14th"; but this is pure conjecture. There is a simple and satisfactory solution: in the chapters which contain the record (2 Kings 18 and Isaiah 36) it is evident that two invasions are described. Frequently in the Scriptures records are topical rather than chronological, and just so in this instance the topic is Sennacherib's menace of Judah, and the ultimate deliverance by Yahweh. The story includes two invasions: the first in the 14th year of Hezekiah (713) when Sennacherib led the armies of his father Sargon, the end of which, so far as Jerusalem was concerned, was the payment of tribute by Hezekiah, as is accurately stated in 2 Kings 18:16. The second invasion, the description of which begins with the following verse (2 Kings 18:17), was the more serious, and is probably identified as that of 701, when Sennacherib had become king. The necessary insertion of a paragraph indicator between 2 Kings 18:16 and 2 Kings 18:17 satisfies every demand for harmony.

From 609 B.C., the year of Josiah's death, we count back 31 years to the beginning Of his reign in 639; he attained his majority in the 8th year (632; 2 Chronicles 34:3); the reformation in his 12th year, at the time of the Scythian irruption, would fall in 628 (2 Chronicles 34:3); in the following year Jeremiah began to prophecy; and in Josiah's 18th year (621) the temple was cleansed and the Book of the Law found (2 Chronicles 34:8). Allowing a year of confusion, Amon began his short reign in 642, and Manasseh his long reign of 55 years in 697, Hezekiah's reign of 29 years dating back to 726. Some fixed important dates of contemporaneous history are: death of Ashurbanipal, Assyria's last great king, in 626, with the consequent independence of Babylon and beginning of the 2nd Babylonian empire. Ashurbanipal's long reign began in 668 on the death of his father Esarhaddon; who succeeded his father Sennacherib in 681. Sargon usurped the Assyrian throne in 722, and died in 705. Shalmaneser IV, successor of Tiglath-pileser III, r eigned for the brief space between 727 and 722. In Egypt the XXVth, or Ethiopian Dynasty, was in power from circa 720 to 667, two of its kings, So and Tirhakah, having mention in the Old Testament (2 Kings 17:4; 2 Kings 19:9 Isaiah 37:9), and after this the XXVIth (a native) Dynasty appeared, Pharaoh-necoh being one of its kings. The dates of this period we may summarize in the following table:

VI. Period of Divided Kingdom.

The most complex, but most interesting, problems of Old Testament chronology are found in the period of the Divided Kingdom. In the literature of this period are found larger number of dates and historical references than in that of any other. We have the assistance of several important sources and factors in arranging these dates:

(1) The parallel records of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah serve as checks to each other, since the accession and death of the kings in each nation are fixed by reference to reigns of those of the other. Many other events are similarly related.

(2) The history of the two kingdoms, or parts of it, at least, is given in three parallel authorities: the Books of Kings, of Chronicles, and of the Prophets.

(3) The Assyrian records are fullest and are practically continuous in this period, the limu lists extending unbroken from 893 to 650 B.C.

1. Causes of Variation in Systems:

But while this apparently should be the most satisfactory field for the chronologist, it has been found impossible to arrive at anything approaching certainty, and consequently there is considerable divergence among individuals and schools. One cause of variation is the difference between the Assyrian royal lists and the total of the Old Testament numbers for this period, the Old Testament aggregate being 51 years greater then the Assyrian lists. Two common methods of harmonizing this difference have bee n adopted:

(1) to accept the Old Testament aggregate as correct and to assume that the 51 years have been omitted from the Assyrian lists (see W. J. Beecher, Dated Events of Old Testament, 18, 19);

(2) to harmonize the Old Testament numbers with the Assyrian lists by taking into account the overlapping of reigns of kings who were, for brief periods, associated on the throne.

Instances of such overlapping are the co-regency of Uzziah and Jotham in Judah (2 Kings 15:5), and possibly the reign of Pekah contemporaneously with Menahem and Pekahiah in Israel (2 Kings 23-28). The latter method yields the most satisfactory results, and will be adopted in this article. The chief point of difference will be the age of Solomon and the foundation-laying of the Temple. This may be found according to the former method by adding 51 years to the dates as given below. That the method of following the aggregate of the Old Testament numbers must assume arbitrarily that there have been omissions from the Assyrian lists, and that it also must resort to some overlapping and justment of the numb ers as they are given in the text, are sufficient reasons against its adoption. And in meeting the difficulties of this period it should always be borne in mind that the Old Testament is not a book of annals merely, and that dates are given not for any special interest in them, but to correlate and emphasize events. Ordinarily dates are given with reference to local situations and contemporary persons, and not as fixed by some great epoch-marking event; e.g. Uzziah's reign is fixed not with reference to the Disrupti on nor the Temple building, but by relation to his Israelite contemporary, Jeroboam II.

2. Some Important and Pivotal Dates:

However, there are some fixed dates, which are so by reason of their international significance, and upon these we may rest with reasonable assurance. Such are the fall of Samaria (721 B.C.); the accession of Tiglath-pileser III (745); tribute paid to Shalmaneser II by Jehu in 842, and by Ahab, or one of his dynasty, in 854; and the invasion of Judah by Pharaoh-shishak in the fifth year of Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:25). There are also certain coincident dates, fixed with fair accuracy, in the parallel history of the two kingdoms, which serve both as starting-points and as checks upon each other. The most prominent of these are: the beginning of Hezekiah's reign, 5 years before the fall of Samaria (2 Kings 18:10); the synchronism of the reigns of Jeroboam II and Jotham (1 Chronicles 5:17), Jotham's accession being used as a basis of calculation for the reigns of Israelite kings (2 Kings 15:30); the coincidence of the end of the Omri Dynasty and the death of Ahaziah, king of Judah (2 Kings 9), Jehu and Athaliah therefore beginning their reigns at the same time; and, primarily, the division of the kingdom and the synchronous beginning of the reigns of Jeroboam I and Rehoboam. Using these fixed dates and coincidences, we must find the summaries of the reigns of Israelite and Jewish kings between 721, the 9th year of Hoshea and the 6th of Hezekiah, and 843, the beginning of the reigns of Jehu add Athaliah, to be 122 years each; and likewise the summaries from 843 back to the Disruption to be the same.

3. Difficulties to Be Removed:

The most serious difficulties are found near the end of the period, when conditions in the Northern Kingdom were becoming anarchical, and, also evident co-regencies, the extent of which is not evident, occurred in the Southern Kingdom. Pekah is said to have reigned 20 years (2 Kings 15:27); and yet Menahem paid tribute to Assyria in 738, and he was succeeded for two years by his son Pekahiah, from whom Pekah seized the kingdom. This would allow Pekah only 6 years of sovereignty. The explanation lies in the context: in the confusion which followed the death of Jeroboam, Pekah established his authority over the section East of the Jordan, and to that year the numbers in 2 Kings 15:27, 32 2 Kings 16:1 refer. Uzziah was leprous the last 16 years of his life, and Jotham his son was over the kingdom (2 Kings 15:5). The length of Jotham's reign was just 16 years, not additional to the 16 of the co-regency, as this would result in the absurdity of making him co-regent at the age of 9 years (2 Kings 15:33). Therefore nearly his whole reign is included in the 52 years of his father. For some reason Ahaz was associated with his father Jotham before the death of the latter, since the 16 years of his reign plus the 5 of Hezekiah before the fall of Samaria bring his accession before the death of Uzziah and Jotham, i.e. in 741. So that for approximately 6 years the three reigns were contemporaneous. That these 6 years may not be accounted for by a co-regency with Hezekiah at the other end of Ahaz' reign is evident from the age of Hezekiah at his accession (2 Kings 18:2), and from the radical difference in the policy of the two kings. 2 Kings 7:1 may suggest that Uzziah and Jotham died about the same time, and that Ahaz was regarded as succeeding both directly.

Another difficulty is found at the beginning of Uzziah's reign, where he is said to have succeeded his father Amaziah at the age of 16, but is also said to have accomplished certain notable things after his father's death (2 Kings 14:21, 22). Evidently, then, he became king before the death of Amaziah. When did this co-regency begin? No better time is suggested than Amaziah's ignominious defeat by Jehoash of Israel in the 15th year of his reign, after which the people arose and put Uzziah in his place, Amaziah living on for 15 years (2 Kings 14:17), so that 15 of Amaziah's 29 years were contemporaneous with Uzziah. Further, in the last years of Joash of Judah there may have been a co-regency, since he was "very sick" in those years (2 Chronicles 24:25). Thus the totals of 146 years for the reigns of the kings of Israel and of 165 for the reigns of the kings of Judah between 721 and 842 are reduced to the actual 121 by the overlappings, which are suggested in the narrative itself.

4. Overlappings:

For the first division of this period, from the rise of Jehu, circa 843, to the division of the kingdom, the totals of the reigns of the kings of Israel is 98 years, and of the kings of Judah is 95. But there must be some overlappings. The interval between Ahab and Jehu, as shown by mention of them in the Assyrian records, is 12 years; but the two sons of Ahab reigned 14 years, Ahaziah 2 and Jehoram 12. Evidently the last year of Ahab, in which came the defeat at Karkar, was the 1st of Ahaziah, and the 2nd of Ahaziah, who suffered in that year serious accident (2 Kings 1:2), was the first of Jehoram. It is probable that the long reign of Asa closed with Jehoshaphat as co-regent (1 Kings 15:23), so the above totals of both kingdoms must be reduced to some extent, probably to 90 years, and the disruption of the kingdom placed about 933 B.C. Shishak, founder of the XXIId Dynasty, invaded Palestine in the 5th year of Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:25), and in, or shortly before, the 21st year of his own reign, so that he must have bec ome sovereign of Egypt about 950 B.C. Jeroboam fled to Egypt after Solomon had reigned more than 20 years, as is shown by the connection of Jeroboam with the building of Millo; and so Jeroboam's flight must have been about the beginning of Shishak's reign. This is in accord with the Old Testament records, since the hostile Shishak Dynasty must have arisen in the reign of Solomon, the dynasty which was ruling at the beginning of his reign having been in alliance with him. So we place the accession of Shishak about 950, his invasion of Judah in 929, and the Disruption in 933 B.C.

Read Complete Article...


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Smith's Bible Dictionary

By this term we understand the technical and historical chronology of the Jews and their ancestors from the earliest time to the close of the New Testament Canon.

  1. TECHNICAL CHRONOLOGY.--The technical part of Hebrew chronology presents great difficulties.
  2. HISTORICAL CHRONOLOGY.--The historical part of Hebrew chronology is not less difficult than the technical. The information in the Bible is indeed direct rather than inferential although there is very important evidence of the latter kind, but the present state of the numbers make absolute certainty in many cases impossible. Three principal systems of biblical chronology have been founded, which may be termed (the Long System, the short, and the Rabbinical. There is a fourth, which although an off shoot in part of the last, can scarcely be termed biblical, in as much as it depends for the most part upon theories, not only independent of but repugnant to the Bible: this last is at present peculiar to Baron Bunsen. The principal advocates of the Long chronology are Jackson. Hales and Des-Vignoles. Of the Short chronology Ussher may be considered as the most able advocate The Rabbinical chronology accept the biblical numbers, but makes the most arbitrary corrections. For the date of the Exodus it has been virtually accepted by Bunsen, Lepsius and Lord A. Hervey. The numbers given by the LXX. for the antediluvian patriarchs would place the creation of Adam 2262 years before the end of the flood or B.C. cir. 5361 or 5421.
Easton's Bible Dictionary
Is the arrangement of facts and events in the order of time. The writers of the Bible themselves do not adopt any standard era according to which they date events. Sometimes the years are reckoned, e.g., from the time of the Exodus (Numbers 1:1; 33:38; 1 Kings 6:1), and sometimes from the accession of kings (1 Kings 15:1, 9, 25, 33, etc.), and sometimes again from the return from Exile (Ezra 3:8).

Hence in constructing a system of Biblecal chronology, the plan has been adopted of reckoning the years from the ages of the patriarchs before the birth of their first-born sons for the period from the Creation to Abraham. After this period other data are to be taken into account in determining the relative sequence of events.

As to the patriarchal period, there are three principal systems of chronology: (1) that of the Hebrew text, (2) that of the Septuagint version, and (3) that of the Samaritan Pentateuch, as seen in the scheme on the opposite page.

The Samaritan and the Septuagint have considerably modified the Hebrew chronology. This modification some regard as having been wilfully made, and to be rejected. The same system of variations is observed in the chronology of the period between the Flood and Abraham. Thus:

" Hebrew Septuigant Samaritan " From the birth of " Arphaxad, 2 years " after the Flood, to " the birth of Terah. 220 1000 870 " From the birth of " Terah to the birth " of Abraham. 130 70 72

The Septuagint fixes on seventy years as the age of Terah at the birth of Abraham, from Genesis 11:26; but a comparison of Genesis 11:32 and Acts 7:4 with Genesis 12:4 shows that when Terah died, at the age of two hundred and five years, Abraham was seventy-five years, and hence Terah must have been one hundred and thirty years when Abraham was born. Thus, including the two years from the Flood to the birth of Arphaxad, the period from the Flood to the birth of Abraham was three hundred and fifty-two years.

The next period is from the birth of Abraham to the Exodus. This, according to the Hebrew, extends to five hundred and five years. The difficulty here is as to the four hundred and thirty years mentioned Exodus 12:40, 41; Galatians 3:17. These years are regarded by some as dating from the covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15), which was entered into soon after his sojourn in Egypt; others, with more probability, reckon these years from Jacob's going down into Egypt. (see EXODUS.)

In modern times the systems of Biblical chronology that have been adopted are chiefly those of Ussher and Hales. The former follows the Hebrew, and the latter the Septuagint mainly. Archbishop Ussher's (died 1656) system is called the short chronology. It is that given on the margin of the Authorized Version, but is really of no authority, and is quite uncertain.

" Ussher Hales " B.C. B.C. " Creation 4004 5411 " Flood 2348 3155 " Abram leaves Haran 1921 2078 " Exodus 1491 1648 " Destruction of the " Temple 588 586

To show at a glance the different ideas of the date of the creation, it may be interesting to note the following: From Creation to 1894.

According to Ussher, 5,898; Hales, 7,305; Zunz (Hebrew reckoning), 5,882; Septuagint (Perowne), 7,305; Rabbinical, 5,654; Panodorus, 7,387; Anianus, 7,395; Constantinopolitan, 7,403; Eusebius, 7,093; Scaliger, 5,844; Dionysius (from whom we take our Christian era), 7,388; Maximus, 7,395; Syncellus and Theophanes, 7,395; Julius Africanus, 7,395; Jackson, 7,320.

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
(n.) The science of measuring time by regular divisions or periods; the order of a series of events.
... Hence in constructing a system of Biblecal chronology, the plan has been adopted
of reckoning the years from the ages of the patriarchs before the birth of ...
/c/chronology.htm - 74k

... 1. Chronology Uncertain: According to the ordinary interpretation of the genealogical
tables in Genesis 5 the lives of the antediluvians were prolonged to an ...
/a/antediluvians.htm - 11k

Uzziah (27 Occurrences)
... 5. Chronology of Reign: The chronology of the reign of Uzziah presents peculiar
difficulties, some of which, probably, cannot be satisfactorily solved. ...
/u/uzziah.htm - 27k

Hittites (39 Occurrences)
... HISTORY 1. Sources 2. Chronology 3. Egyptian Invasions: XVIIIth Dynasty 4. "The
Great King" 5. Egyptian Invasions: XIXth Dynasty 6. Declension of Power: Aryan ...
/h/hittites.htm - 55k

Jehoram (27 Occurrences)
... The statement in 2 Kings 1:17, "the second year of Jehoram," follows a system of
chronology common to the Lucian group of manuscripts, in which the 1st year of ...
/j/jehoram.htm - 30k

Joram (26 Occurrences)
... The statement in 2 Kings 1:17, "the second year of Jehoram," follows a system of
chronology common to the Lucian group of manuscripts, in which the 1st year of ...
/j/joram.htm - 27k

Period (43 Occurrences)
POLITICAL SITUATION 1. The Canaanites 2. Foes Without IV. ... II. Chronology. ...
/p/period.htm - 34k

Azariah (47 Occurrences)
... 5. Chronology of Reign: The chronology of the reign of Uzziah presents peculiar
difficulties, some of which, probably, cannot be satisfactorily solved. ...
/a/azariah.htm - 36k

... In Babylonian literature, much attention is paid to epochal chronology. ... In the Old
Testament there is a mixture of all these kinds of chronology. ...
/a/archaeology.htm - 61k

Criticism (1 Occurrence)
... In Babylonian literature, much attention is paid to epochal chronology. ... In the Old
Testament there is a mixture of all these kinds of chronology. ...
/c/criticism.htm - 101k



Chronology of the New Testament

Chronology of the Old Testament

Chronology: Jewish Year Instituted

Related Terms


Uzziah (27 Occurrences)

Hittites (39 Occurrences)

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Joram (26 Occurrences)

Period (43 Occurrences)

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Criticism (1 Occurrence)


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Judges (117 Occurrences)


History (57 Occurrences)

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Literature (2 Occurrences)

Israel (27466 Occurrences)

Jehoahaz (22 Occurrences)



Galatia (6 Occurrences)

Felix (11 Occurrences)


Rome (12 Occurrences)

Dalmatia (1 Occurrence)

Mesha (4 Occurrences)

Mahath (4 Occurrences)



Apostles (79 Occurrences)

Adonijah (28 Occurrences)


Ahaz (42 Occurrences)


Sarai (13 Occurrences)

Shem (17 Occurrences)

Succession (2 Occurrences)

Sarah (38 Occurrences)

Menahem (8 Occurrences)

Chios (1 Occurrence)

Herod (45 Occurrences)

Joseph (248 Occurrences)

New (1850 Occurrences)

Ahaziah (34 Occurrences)

Athaliah (17 Occurrences)

Ephesians (4 Occurrences)

Acts (271 Occurrences)

Old (3966 Occurrences)

Colossians (1 Occurrence)

Pentecost (3 Occurrences)

Samaritan (8 Occurrences)

Consist (7 Occurrences)

Aramaic (12 Occurrences)


Eden (19 Occurrences)

Joshua (211 Occurrences)

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Philippi (8 Occurrences)

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Jesus (10891 Occurrences)

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Testament (13 Occurrences)


Books (16 Occurrences)

Kingdom (409 Occurrences)

Christ (573 Occurrences)

Language (112 Occurrences)

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