When Did Solomon Die?
|Edwin Thiele's date of 931 BC for the beginning of the divided monarchies has stood the test of time since it was introduced over 65 years ago. This paper examines the possibility that Solomon died before Tishri of that year, instead of on or after Tishri 1 as Thiele assumed without explaining why. This six-month correction fixes errors in Thiele's chronology of Judean kings, and also makes the date of the Exodus calculated from 1 Kgs 6:1 to be in exact agreement with the date of the Exodus as calculated from the Jubilee cycles.|
When Did Jerusalem Fall?
|The method of Decision Tables was used in the Solomon paper to sort through all the confusing possibilities and to show which ones are valid and which produce contradictions with the texts involved. In this paper, the method is applied to all Scriptures in Jeremiah, Ezekiel, 2 Kings, and 2 Chronicles relating to the date of Jerusalem's fall to Nebuchadnezzar. It is shown that all texts involved are in harmony with themselves and with each other, and the only year possible for Jerusalem's fall is 587 BC.|
When Was Samaria Captured? The Need for Precision in Biblical Chronologies
|This paper gives the chronology of the eighth century BC. It sorts out the mess that Thiele made when he rejected the Hoshea/Hezekiah synchronisms of 2 Kgs 18. The results are similar to those obtained by other conservative scholars, as is emphasized in this paper. The new contributions of this paper are its formalizing the notation used for dates that was presented in my two earlier papers, and its discussion of the reasons why precision is important in chronological studies.|
Tables of Reign Lengths from the Hebrew Court Recorders
|This is sort of my magnum opus. It avoids the tedium that was necessary to establish the chronology of the kingdom period, since that was dealt with in the previous three papers. It focuses instead on the theological significance of this work on chronology done by myself and by those whose scholarship I followed and built on. The four tables at the end are meant to demonstrate the accuracy and believability of all Scriptural texts dealing with the chronology of the kingdom period.|
The Talmud's Two Jubilees and Their Relevance to the Date of the Exodus
WTJ Spring 2006
|This expands on the idea presented in the Solomon paper regarding the Jubilees. It shows that the remembrance of the Jubilees in the Talmuds, the Seder Olam, and in the Hebrew text of Ezek 40:1 allows a complete calendar of pre-exilic Sabbatical and Jubilee years to be constructed. This calendar shows that Israel's entry into Canaan, when counting started for these cycles, must have occurred in Nisan of 1406 BC, with the Exodus therefore in 1446 BC. This calculation of the date of the Exodus is independent of the method of calculating the date based on 1 Kgs 6:1, although both give the same date. Therefore counting must really have started at that time. The conclusion is drawn that the Book of Leviticus was in existence in 1406 BC, since no reasonable alternate source for the laws of the Jubilee and Sabbatical cycles has ever been postulated, and nations of the ancient Near East are known to have put ritual and cultic matters like this in writing.|
Seder Olam and the Sabbaticals Associated with the Two Destructions of
Jewish Bible Quarterly
|These articles are really an extension of my work on Jubilee and Sabbatical cycles that showed that a complete calendar of such cycles for the pre-exilic period can be constructed. However, to avoid controversy and to keep the papers fairly short, I do not mention the Jubilee cycles here--only the Sabbatical cycles. These papers look into ancient Jewish records that declare that the destructions of both temples (the First Temple by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 BC and the Second Temple by Titus in AD 70) happened in a Sabbatical year. The original Hebrew of these sources is examined, and conclusions are drawn from this rather than from various erroneous translations of these texts into English. Scriptural texts that reinforce the conclusion that Jerusalem fell to Nebuchadnezzar in a Sabbatical year are also given.|
Ezekiel 40:1 As a Corrective for Seven Wrong Ideas in Biblical Interpretation
AUSS Fall 2006
|The ideas I put forth in my previous papers can sometimes be used to analyze very specific problems or specific Biblical texts that are difficult to interpret. These ideas are 1) The use of an exact notation for dates that matches the calendar methods in use in ancient Israel and surrounding nations, 2) The use of Decision Tables to determine which of several possible interpretations best explains the text being studied. This article applies these techniques to an in-depth analysis of Ezekiel 40:1. By properly understanding the Hebrew in this verse and exploring its implications for chronology, several conclusions can be drawn, extending even so far as establishing the date of the composition of the Pentateuch.|
Inductive and Deductive Methods As Applied to OT Chronology
|This is an overview of the developments of conservative scholars in the field of OT chronology. The approach and successes of these scholars is contrasted with the methods and lack of consensus among scholars with a low view of the inspiration of Scripture. The article ends with a discussion of why the date that Hayim Tadmor gives for the tribute of Menahem of Israel to Tiglath-Pileser III cannot be the correct date. Tadmor's date is used by many scholars as a reason for not accepting the integrity of the biblical chronological data for the time, yet Tadmor's reasoning requires a distortion in the translation of the relevant Assyrian texts.|
Three Verifications of Thiele's Date for the Beginning of the Divided Kingdom
AUSS Fall 2007
|By a careful study of the chronological methods of the Scriptural authors, Edwin Thiele established that the divided monarchy began in the year that started in Nisan (roughly April) of 931 BC. My "Solomon" paper refined this to say that Solomon died before Tishri (roughly October) of that year. His last official year of reign therefore began in Tishri of 932. The Jubilee data, in conjunction with 1 Kings 6:1, establish this date, independently of the work of Thiele. Compleletely independent of either of these two methods, the list of Tyrian kings found in Josephus (and tied to Roman data for the founding of Rome) gives the date of 932 BC for the death of Solomon, plus or minus two years at the most, according to the work of J. Liver, Frank Cross, and Wm. Barnes. This paper compares these three methods of arriving at this crucial date and shows that the three methods are fundamentally independent. The consequences are not only that the date is firm, but that the complex and profuse chronological data of the Scriptural history are entirely trustworthy. This is a finding that was unanticipated by liberal scholarship, with its low view of the inspiration of Scripture and its faulty historical methods.|
|Review of Tetley,
Chronology of the
AUSS Fall 2007
|Thiele's method of determining the chronology of the divided kingdom has been characterized as "too complicated." The problem was not with Thiele; the problem is that we must first understand the methods used by ancient scribes, both Hebrew and non-Hebrew, in recording chronological information. When did their year begin? Did they use accession or nonaccession reckoning? And so on. In order to reduce the complexity that such an approach involves, Christine Tetley attempted to make simplifying assumptions and thereby produce a "reconstructed chronology." Her book is also an extensive attempt to give credence to LXX variations of chronological data in Kings and Chronicles. My review evaluates whether these approaches have met with any success.|
|A Critical Analysis of the Evidence from Ralph Hawkins for a Late-Date Exodus-Conquest
|(With Bryant Wood, archaeologist and chief editor of Bible and Spade) The Israeli archaeologist Adam Zertal has published various articles regarding excavations at a site on Mt. Ebal. Zertal identifies a large structure at this site, dated to 1200 BC or slightly later, as the altar described in Josh. 8:30-31. If this identification were true, it would place the entry into Canaan about 1200 BC and the Exodus in 1240 BC. In the March 2007 issue of JETS, Ralph Hawkins advocated Zertal's identification. Since a date this late cannot be reconciled with the 480 years of 1 Kgs 6:1 or the chronology of Judges, Hawkins denigrates the reliability of the chronological data of the books of Kings and Judges. In our response, Bryant shows that the object that Zertal identifies as Joshua's altar is in the wrong place, of the wrong size and shape, and in the wrong time period to be identified with Joshua. My part of the article summarizes several of my articles listed above and explains why these research papers, in conjunction with other scholarly works, now provide a formidable argument for the historical exactness of the chronological data of the Scriptures, contra Hawkins and the authorities he cites.|
|Evidence for Inerrancy from an Unexpected Source: OT Chronology
Bible & Spade
|Dr. Wood asked to reprint in Bible and Spade my talk at the Nov. 2005 annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. This has already been reprinted once, modified somewhat at the end, in TMSJ (the "Inductive and Deductive" article). With permission of the editors of TMSJ, it appears in Bible and Spade with a different ending. Instead of discussing Menahem's tribute, the new ending emphasizes the theological significance of the accuracy of the chronological details of the OT.
To access a text-only version that is somewhat more readable than the version with graphics, click here.
|Evidence for Inerrancy from a Second Unexpected Source: the Jubilee and Sabbatical Cycles
Bible & Spade
The Jubilee implied by the Hebrew text of Ezek 40:1 allows a calendar of Jubilee and Sabbatical years to be constructed. This calendar is exactly consistent with the date of 1406 BC for the entry into Canaan that is derived from 1 Kings 6:1 and Thiele's date for the division of the kingdom. This two-fold precision establishes the historical accuracy (i.e. inerrancy) of all the Scriptural texts that Thiele used to derive the time of the division. It also establishes that the book of Leviticus that instigated the observance of the Jubilee and Sabbatical cycles must have been in existence in 1406 BC. Until unbelieving scholarship can give a better explanation of these facts, the only intellectually honest conclusion is that Leviticus is a revelation from God to His servant Moses--a precept repeatedly and emphatically stated in the book itself.
To access a text-only version that is somewhat more readable than the version with graphics, click here.
|Acceptance of my
Solomon thru Athaliah
in recent research
|In August 2008, Leslie McFall added to his website a revised table of the chronology of the kings of Judah, with the caption, |
The suggestion that Solomon died between Nisan (April) and Elul (August) 931 B.C. was first put forward by Rodger Young, "When Did Solomon Die?" JETS 46 (2003) 589-603. Consequently, the first four Judean kings (from Rehoboam to Jehoshaphat) have been moved back one year. The implication of this minor, but very important, shift does away with Th[ie]le's suggestion that Judah's system was imposed on Israel's for these four kings by the biblical scribes.One slight correction to this: Solomon could have died any time in the year preceding Tishri of 931 BC, rather than his death happening in just the latter six months of that year, as explained in ''Table of Reign Lengths,'' footnote 3. Dr. McFall's note has now been verified in his latest publications. In an article in JETS 52:4 (December 2009), p. 690, note 43, he graciously writes, "I am indebted to Rodger Young for this precise dating of the Division; see his essay "When Did Solomon Die?" JETS 56 (2003) 599-603." In a subsequent publication (McFall, "The Chronology of Saul and David," JETS 53 : 533 [chart]), Dr. McFall shows that he also accepts the modifications that this implies for the reigns of Rehoboam through Athaliah. Other recent publications that include this one-year correction to Thiele's chronology include Bryant G. Wood, "The Rise and Fall of the 13th-Century Exodus-Conquest Theory," JETS 48 (2005): 477, 488; Douglas Petrovich, "Amenhotep II and the Historicity of the Exodus Pharaoh," MSJ 17 (2006): 83; Andrew E. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul: A Biblical Chronology (St. Louis: Concordia, 2011), 133-34, 138.
This small one-year correction in the timing of events from which we are three thousand years distant might seem like unnecessary hair-splitting over matters of no real consequence to the modern world, or even to our understanding of the history of the time. Getting the chronology of this time correct is important, however, for a least three reasons:
1) Egyptologists use the chronological note of 2 Chr 12:2 in conjunction with an inscription of Sheshonq I of Egypt's 22nd Dynasty to given an absolute (B.C.) date to Shoshenq's inscription, based on Thiele's date of spring 965 B.C. for Shoshenq/Shishak's invasion. From this anchor point, Egyptologists then determine absolute dates for all of Egypt's 21st and 22nd Dynasties, dates that could only be reckoned approximately based on Egyptian inscriptions alone. Egyptologists thereby demonstrate more confidence in this historical section of the Bible than do many Biblical commentators. That Shoshenq is the Biblical Shishak is shown by several Egyptian monuments in which the pharaoh's name is written without the 'n'.
The Parian Marble and Other Surprises from Chronol-
ogist V. Coucke
|In a footnote in Mysterious Numbers, Edwin Thiele acknowledged that some of his most basic principles were discovered, unknown to him, by classical scholar Valerius Coucke, a professor at
Het Grootseminarie Brugge (Le Grand Séminaire de Bruges) in Belgium in the 1920s. From the bibical data as correlated with known chronological practices in the ancient Near East, Coucke had independently derived the following basic principles of Thiele's system: (1) That Judah used a Tishri-based regnal year, whereas Israel used a Nisan-based regnal year; (2) Initially, Judah used accession reckoning for its kings, while Israel used nonaccession reckoning; (3) In the 9th century BC, during the rapprochement between the two kingdoms, Judah adopted Israel's nonaccession reckoning; (4) Both kingdoms eventually went to accession reckoning, and (5) The chronology of the kingdom period cannot be understood successfully unless it is acknowledged that coregencies were a known, and utilized, principle during this time.
It has long been recognized that Coucke's independent discovery of these principles that are at the core of Thiele's system serves as a strong support for the essential soundness of the principles, although there remained details in the work of both scholars that needed modification (see the articles above for some of them). Coucke's work, when presented to Thiele by Siegfried Horn some two years after Thiele's initial 1944 publication, was certainly a pleasant surprise to both Thiele and Horn. This is the first of five surprises that are described in the present paper. The other surprises: (2) Coucke's use of an exact notation to express Tishri Years and Nisan years, similar in its details to the notation that I introduced in my "Solomon" paper, and also similar to the notation that Daiqing Yuan had used in his 2006 ThM thesis at DTS; (3) Coucke's use of the Parian Marble's date for the fall of Troy and other classical sources to determine, completely independently of any biblical reference or biblical date, that construction began on Solomon's Temple in either 969/68 or 968/67 BC; (4) Coucke's further use of classical sources--this time the Tyrian King List of Menander plus Pompeius Trogus--to do another calculation that put the beginning of Temple construction as either 968/67 or 967/66 BC (the scholars I mention in my "Three Verifications" paper used the Tyrian King list in the same way to derive 968/67 BC for the beginning of construction of the Temple, although neither they nor I had read Coucke's work); Coucke then used these two dates in conjunction with the two dates of (3) to limit the start of Temple construction to 968/67, one year earlier than the date derived from Thiele's chronology for Solomon but in agreement with the date derived from the biblical and Assyrian data in my "Solomon" paper, and (5) His use of Ptolemy's Canon and 2 Kgs 25:27 to correctly date the fall of Jerusalem to 587 BC.
One authority in this field, when presented with Coucke's two independent methods of deriving the date for start of construction of Solomon's Temple from classical authors, responded that since Josephus cited Menander, and Josephus also used the Bible in his writing, everything was ultimately derived from the Bible and so anything in the writing of Josephus or Menander that seemed to verify the Bible was circular reasoning. This in spite of the fact that nothing in the sources cited by Coucke in items (3) and (4) just above is based on a biblical text. It does show, however, that there is a certain antipathy in parts of the scholarly world against any writer who might be suspected of trying to demonstrate the accuracy of the Bible's historical data. With this in mind, the present paper states that Coucke's approach does not "prove" that the biblical chronology that gives the date of Temple construction is true, but just the opposite: the date of Temple construction, which can be determined securely and precisely by other means (see "Three Verifications"), gives credibility to the Parian Marble's date for the Fall of Troy. The Parian Marble's date for that event (June 10, 1208 BC) is 25 years earlier than the commonly accepted date of 1183 BC, which leads to to an interesting study on the sources and reasons for the 1183 date. This is a complex question that requires looking at the classical sources for dating the Fall of Troy, but such research requires more space and attention that could be given in the present paper. For that reason, Andrew Steinmann and I have written a paper that addresses such issues as why there are two traditions in Eusebius' Canons regarding the dates of Troy, one of which agrees with the Parian Marble's 1208 date and the other which agrees with Eratosthenes' 1183 date. The article will be available in late November 2012 (see below). Dr. Steinmann is the one who found a copy of Coucke's original publication in the Wheaton College library, and so started this present investigation into the writings of Coucke.
Coucke's 1928 article on OT
|Much of Coucke's research has been superseded by later studies, but, as mentioned above, he provided some insights that have not been fully appreciated by subsequent investigators. One such insight is his determination of the year in which construction began on Solomon's Temple based on records taken from the archives of Tyre (the Tyrian King List, as found in Josephus, Menander, and Dius). From these classical (non-biblical) sources, Liver, Barnes, and Cross all derived the same date, 968/67, that Coucke derived for this event, although they were unaware of Coucke's earlier work. But another innovative area of Coucke's research has not heretofore been pursued by later scholars. This is his deriving the same date by another method, one that starts with the date for the Fall of Troy given in the Parian Marble, and also in some texts of the Canons of Eusebius. This method is likewise independent of the biblical data. It is also independent of the Tyrian King List. In the hope that others besides just Andrew Steinmann and myself will investigate this line of reasoning and its significance for the history of the Trojan War and for early Greek chronology, I have made available a translation of Coucke's 1928 article in the link opposite.|
the Census of
by John Rhoads
JETS March 2011
|John Rhoads has made an impressive debut into the field of Biblical chronology with this essay in the March 2011 issue of JETS. John is assistant professor of theology at Concordia University Chicago. It is a commonplace among various scholars that Luke's statement that a Roman census brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem (Luke 2:1-7) is an anachronism and mistake, because the Quirinius mentioned in Luke 2:2 did not come to Syria and Judea until AD 6, according to Josephus in his Antiquities (18:2:1/26-28). However, other passages in Josephus are consistent with Quirinius coming to Syria and Judea before the death of Herod the Great (died early 1 BC--see A. Steinmann, "When Did Herod the Great Reign," Novus Testamentum 50 , pp. 1-29). For a synopsis of part off Rhoads' demonstration that Qurinius came to Syria before Herod died, and so the taxation associated with his name must have taken place before 1 BC, click here.|
|From Abraham to
Paul: A Biblical
by Andrew Steinmann
Andrew Steinmann, Distinguished Professor of Theology and Hebrew at Concordia University Chicago, has authored this significant new book dealing with the biblical history from the time of Abraham to the NT period, ending with the deaths of Paul and Peter. All issues discussed in the papers listed above on this Web page, and much more, are dealt with in Dr. Steinmann's work. The method of presentation is well thought out. After some introductory matters, including the measurement of time in the ancient world and the importance of a proper chronology in understanding the working of God in history, certain benchmarks are determined from which the basic chronology of the OT can be filled in. These basic dates are the chronology of Solomon's reign, and from there the date of the Exodus, the date of Jacob's descent into Egypt, and the date of Abraham's birth.
A thorough discussion is given on how these basic dates are established. Archaeological issues, including radiocarbon dating, are addressed in the process. Having established these benchmarks, Dr. Steinmann then goes on to fill in the biblical chronology, starting with Abraham and concluding with the time of the New Testament. Much of this material has not appeared before in book form because of the considerable advance in understanding of some of these issues that has transpired from scholarly studies in the last ten or fifteen years.
Most of this understanding has come from scholars with a high view of the inspiration of Scripture, or at least from those who followed the inductive method of starting with the biblical texts and giving the ancient authors the benefit of the doubt, rather than with speculations that assume a priori that the historical parts of the OT were written, or redacted, at a time much later than the events described.
I am not alone in believing that this book is a highly significant achievement. As quoted in the endorsements, Eugene Merrill wrote, "Steinmann lays out here a foundation that doubtless will provide the basis for all subsequent discussions of biblical chronology." An advertisement for the book is available at Amazon. For an advertisement with more information, including a view of some of the contents, see the Concordia Publishing House advertisement by clicking on the front-cover image to the right.
The editors of the
Associates for Biblical Research web site
asked that I write a critical review of Andrew Steinmann's From Abraham to Paul. I asked that they get someone else to do it. I would not be regarded as an objective reviewer, because the book accepts all my corrections to Thiele's chronology of the kingdom period, and so it was a foregone conclusion that I would be favorably disposed toward at least this portion of the book. I was urged to do it anyway.
I have divided the review into two parts. Part 1 gives some background material. It describes how chronologists have, over the centuries, tried to systematize the Bible's chronological information and how From Abraham to Paul fits into this historical overview. Part 2 critiques the individual chapters of the book. Hopefully, readers will not think that once they have read the comments on the chapters, they need not bother to read the book, which contains much more information that found in my comments.
|(with Andrew Steinmann)
the date of the
Trojan War to
the building of
|JESOT is "Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament," a new online journal that had its first issue in May of 2012. Full title of the article, co-authored with Andrew Steinmann of Concordia University Chicago, is "Correlation of Select Classical Sources Related to the Trojan War with Assyrian and Biblical Chronologies."
The cast of characters includes a Phoenician princess renowned for her beauty, her evil brother, a scholar who measured the size of the earth before anyone traveled around it, a turncoat general who became a historian, an unknown scribe who thought that recording when new forms of poetry were introduced was as important as when battles were fought, and that wisest of all men, who sought to match wits with the king of an island fortress.
Comment from JESOT reviewer A: "This is a most stimulating and creative bit of scholarship that I personally find helpful in drawing attention to the vast information available in classical and early Phoenician sources." Reviewer B: "This is an extremely well-done article in fact it will become a staple in the field for years to come."
|How Lunar and Solar Eclipses Shed Light on Biblical Events
Bible & Spade
|Astronomers and historians make use of ancient records that mention eclipses of the sun or moon to assign precise dates to various historical events. As an example, Josephus mentions an eclipse of the moon shortly before the death of Herod the Great, and this had been used in the past to date Herod's death to 4 BC. More recent examination of the historical material related to the death of Herod means the eclipse in question must have been the full eclipse of January 10, 1 BC, rather than the partial lunar eclipse of March 13, 4 BC. This supports the date that early Christian writers gave for the birth of Christ rather than the 4 BC date erroneously given in most modern sources.
The Bur-Sagale solar eclipse of 763 BC has been related by various writers to the ministry of Jonah in Nineveh. Additional material from the Assyrian Eponym Canon is cited that may allow a more precise dating of Jonah's Nineveh ministry.
Recently, astronomical calculations from British physicists Colin Humphreys and Graem Waddington have shown that there was a lunar eclipse that became visible just after sundown, three and one-half hours after the death of Christ. Lunar eclipses occuring immediately after sundown have been observed in modern times, and the appearance of the moon at that time has been described as blood red. What this would have meant to the people of Jerusalem who had just witnessed the death of God's Messiah is discussed in detail.
|Eclipses: The Science and the Pseudoscience
Bible & Spade
|This one-page addendum to the article "How Lunar and Solar Eclipses Shed Light on Biblical Events" explains why the lunar surface that is in the umbra (full shadow) of the earth nevertheless is not completely dark, and why, when viewed at sunset or sunrise, it takes on a deep red color. Eclipses, whether of the sun or the moon, are not rare. There are from two to five solar eclipses that can be viewed from somewhere on earth each year, and every year there is at least one lunar eclipse of one type or another. A cautionary note is sounded regarding recent claims that lunar and solar eclipses that NASA tables show will occur in 2014 are end-time events. A closer look at when these eclipses occur, and from where on earth they will be visible, shows that such claims are not based on a proper understanding of the astronomy involved.|
|Chart of Hebrew
Kings and Prophets
|A notable commercial artist, Hannah Gleghorn, has graciously provided a one-page chart showing, in parallel, the reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah, along with the prophets who spoke the word of God in their reigns. The chart is consistent with the modifications to Thiele's chronology of the kingdom period that are presented in the papers listed above and summarized in the "Tables of Reign Lengths" paper. Mrs. Gleghorn originally designed the chart for use in her teaching a women's Bible study group. The chart is also available as a menu choice after clicking on the "Chronological Tables" option below.|
|Mar 2, 2013||Rewrote section on acceptance of my correction to Thiele's dates for Solomon thru Athaliah.|
|July 16, 2013||Provided information, with links, to the two eclipse articles in Bible and Spade.|
|Sept 28, 2013||Made available, through menu for chronological tables, Hannah Gleghorn's chart of kings and prophets. From same menu, provided option for printable (PDF) version of the four tables.|