Revising the Dates of Biblical and Historical Happenings
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Brit-Am Introductory Note:
Currently Accepted Chronologies of Ancient History are Incorrect.
Several Alternate Chronological Theories Exist, see:
The Revision of Ancient History - A Perspective
All these theories agree that the present-day Chronologies as given in Encyclopedia, etc, are incorrect.
They offer alternatives.
This subject concerns our own Studies concerning the Lost Ten Tribes.
We do not absolutely need to have the Chronology right in order to get the Brit-Am message across.
Nevertheless for the sake of obtaining an overall view and keeping matters in the correct perspective it helps to know where the truth lies.
We therefore turn to the Bible.
Even according to Scripture matters are not that clear. Differences of opinion exist. These however involve discrepancies of 100 to 150 years concerning when the Israelites first entered the Land and later when the Persians ruled over them. This is not very much of a difference when compared to conventional opinions and for points concerning Brit-Am it does not make much of a difference.
Rabbinical Chronology. Major Dates according to Mainstream Rabbinical Opinion versus Modern Estimations 
Rabbi Philip Biberfeld gives an outline of Biblical Chronology according to his understanding.
We do not entirely agree with this opinion as will be explained. Rabbi Biberfeld in effect presents the Biblical Narratives as basically consistent with Conventionally accepted Chronology.
Below are extracts from the work of Rabbi Biberfeld followed by notes by Brit-Am.
ANCIENT JEWISH HISTORY by Rabbi Philip Biberfeld, NY, 1948.
Chronology p. 29 ff.
CHRONOLOGY. A reliable chronology is a prerequisite for the study of Jewish history. Without it, proper historical relations to the civilizations of other peoples cannot be established and clarified. Let us, therefore, as a preliminary task reconstruct the chronology of the early times as derived from the Bible and other sources. The data derived from such a chronology will accord completely with the most recent findings of archaeological science..
1. The Bible provides continuous chronological dates up to the death of Joseph. On the basis of the traditional era of creation (anno mundi) they lead to the following dates of the common era.
The Flood - 2104 BCE. The Chinese tradition is very close, placing the Flood in the year 2200 BCE. According to Indian tradition, a new age, the Silver Age, started in 2204 BCE.
Birth of Abraham - 1812 BCE. Thus date is corroborated by recent excavation in the area of the Dead Sea, suggesting very strongly that the time of Abraham cannot be placed earlier than the 1800s BCE.
Birth of Isaac 1712.
Lifetime of Jacob 1652-1605.
Death of Joseph 1451.
The Sojourn in Egypt lasted from 1522 (130th year of Jacob, Gen. 47:9) to 1312, altogether 210 years.
The Biblical account that it lasted 400 or 430 years includes the preceding time leading to the Egyptian bondage either from the birth of Isaac (400) or from the time of the Covenant with Abraham (430). The sojourn in Egypt cannot have lasted for 400 years. Such an assumption is ruled out when we consider the lifetime of all the generations who lived there.
There is a possibility that the 430 years are dated from the time of the Hyksos who ruled over Egypt and, apparently, also over Palestine. When they were driven out of Egypt, Palestine remained under Egyptian rule. Thus, from about 1730 onwards, Abraham and his descendants were really under Egyptian rule. This may well be the meaning of the words of the Bible: 'Now the sojourning of the children of Israel that they stayed in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years.' It is noteworthy that in the following sentence referring to the actual Exodus not Egypt is mentioned, but 'the land of Egypt,' indicating that after having stayed under Egyptian domination for 430 years (partly in Palestine) the Jews finally went out of the land of Egypt. The Hyksos are known to have established their own era, named after Tanis, their capital city. The Ramesside House, tracing its ancestry back to one of the Hyksos kings, erected the '400 year stela' of Tanis to commemorate this time. It may well be that the 400 and 430 years of the Bible are in direct connection with this era.
The date of the Exodus thus is 1312. The general Jewish tradition is followed here.Some Jewish authorities place it 30 years later at 1282.
The next date is provided by the 480 years which according to I Kings 6:1, elapsed between the Exodus and the beginning of the building of the temple in the fourth year of King Solomon. The traditional chronology of the Seder Olam, follows the literal meaning of this statement.
As a result, only 902 years remain for the entire time from the building of the temple to its second destruction (1312-480 plus 70). After a further subtraction of 70 years for the Babylonian exile, only 832 years are left for the time of the first and the second temple. According to the Seder Olam they are divided into 410 and 420 years respectively. The very short time thus available for the period of the second temple led to the reduction of the time of the Persian kings to only 34 years. It was assumed that the kings Koresh [Cyrus], Darius, and Artachshacta were identical and that Ezra already came to Palestine one year after the budding of the second temple.
These consequences were rejected by R. Serachja of Lunel as incompatible with the words of the Bible.
To solve these difficulties, the suggestion has been made that the 480 years of the Book of the Kings be considered a mere symbolical number such as those that frequently occur in Egyptian chronologies. Then the time necessary for the later period could easily be subtracted from it. Such an assumption, however, would be unparalleled in the whole Bible and seems unjustified for a book written in the prophetic spirit. It is, moreover, unnecessary; for the Bible itself points the way to an adequate solution. The genealogy of King David shows only four generations for the time from the conquest of the land to his own time (Salmo-Boas-Oved-Jesse). If we assume a period of 480 years from the Exodus to the fourth year of king Solomon, these four generations together must have lived 366 years, as we have to allow 40 years for the wandering in the desert, 70 years for King David, and 4 years for Solomon. This would be possible only if we assume that Salmo, the first of the line, was one year old at the time of the conquest and that each of the following generations was born when their respective fathers were 91 years old. This seems very improbable. The six preceding generations of the same genealogy, from Judah to Nahshon, cover only 290 years, which means that, on the average, one generation was separated from the next by about 40 years. The genealogy of King David thus demonstrates that the 480 years must have a meaning similar to the 400 or 430 years for the sojourn in Egypt. There, too, the lifetime of the generations living in Egypt was proof of the shorter duration of the whole period. The sums of 400 or 430 years were to include the preceding time preparing for the historical climax in Egypt. In the very same way, the time of the Exodus, as referred to in the Book of Kings, may have been counted from those preceding events which started the entire historical development that led finally to the Exodus. There is, indeed, one event of outstanding significance which fulfills these requirements: the death of Joseph. A turning point in the early history of the Jews, it marked the end of the Patriarchal Age and the beginning of a new epoch, that of the oppression, which finally led to the Exodus. It is, therefore, the beginning of the Book of the Exodus. Counting 480 years from this event, which took place in 1451, we arrive at the year 971, which according to dates derived from completely independent Assyrian inscription was, indeed, the fourth year of king Solomon. The meaning of the 480 years would then be that that much time had elapsed from the beginning of the era of the Exodus starting with the second book of the Torah and the death of Joseph until the building of the first temple. Thus, the main problems of the later chronology are solved. There now remain 1041 years for the time of the first temple, the Babylonian exile, and the second temple, instead of the 902 years of the [midrash] Seder Olam. The difference of 139 years is made up by the time that elapsed between 1451 and 1312. This chronology is in full accord with the traditional era of creation (anno mundi) which is based on the tradition of the Sanhedrin. Its reliability is clearly illustrated by the fact that its dates for the second millenium B.C.E. have been widely confirmed by the most recent archaeological discoveries. The timing of the Seleucid era, a basic date for the chronology of the first millennium B.C.E., has been handed down as the year 3448 in complete agreement with the general chronology putting it at 312. The difficulties arose solely from the inaccurate apportionment of the correct space of time. The 1382 years from the Exodus to the second destruction were divided into 480 years until the building of the first temple, 410 years for the first temple, 70 years for the Babylonian exile, and 420 years for the second temple. In step, the division must be 341, 385, 70, 586 years, respectively. The total, however, of 1382 years remains unchanged. We thus get the following dates for the time after the Exodus: The Conquest of the Land started in 1272. This, again, is corroborated by recent excavations in Palestine. The destruction and burning of several sites by the Israelites must have taken place in the middle of the 13th century The Period of the Elders and Judges lasted from about 1245 to about 1030, for only 215 years. This is in accord with the fact that only four generations of ancestors of King David lived during this time. No contradiction can be found in the account that Jephta based the claims of the Israelites to the country east of the Jordan on a possession of 300 years This was an approximate number intending to show that the Israelites possessed the country from times immemorial. Besides, the time of occupancy of their predecessor. King Sihon, may have been included.
Deborah about 1125.
Destruction of Shiloh about 1050
King Saul 1026-1015.
King David 1015-975.
King Solomon 975-935.
Partition of the Kingdom 934.
Kingdom of Israel 934-722.
Kingdom of Judah 934-586.
Babylonian Exile 586-516 .
Persian Rule 536-332.
Greek Rule 332-140 .
Beginning of the Seleucid Era, according to tradition 1000 years after the exodus, 312.
Jewish Rulers 140-B.C.E. - 1.-6 CE.
Roman War Against the Jews 66-70 CE.
II. As has been mentioned previously, there is an early Exodus theory prevalent, assigning the Exodus to the middle of the 15th century. It is, however, incompatible with a number of basic data, some of which are provided by recent excavations.
1. It is not in accord with the traditional era of creation. There are 2448 years from the creation to the Exodus, to which must be added 1450 years, the number of years B.C.E, and 1947 years, the number of years C.E, making a total of 5845 years against the traditional 5707 of the era.
2. According to this theory, Abraham's birth would have to be dated at 1950. Recent excavations, however, have revealed that he cannot be placed earlier than the 19th century.
3. One of the strongest supports of this theory has been the fact that the Tell-el-Amarna letters (about 1400) enumerate the Habirus among the tribes invading Canaan. But there is increasing agreement to the effect
that the information of Tell-el-Amama about the Habiru invasion with regard to its form and scope could never be harmonized with the Biblical story of Joshua's campaign.
4. The Bible connects the bondage in Egypt with the name of Ramses. This can refer only to Ramses II (dated about 1300), who is well known for his numerous buildings. The storage cities of Pithom and Ramses, mentioned in the Bible, were erected by him. There is no evidence that there had been any town before his time. The Biblical account cannot refer to Ramses I as he mled only two years over Egypt.
5. It is argued that the 'early Exodus theory' is attested by an inscription of Pharaoh Memephtah, the successor of Ramses II. In his victory inscription on the famous 'Pillar of Memephtah' of the fifth year of his reign he boasts:
The kings are overthrown saying 'Salaam'
Not one holds up his head among the nine bows.
Wasted is Tehenu (Lybia)
Kheta is pacified (Hittites) Plundered is the Canaan with every evil, carried off is Askelon, seized upon is Gezer, Yenoam is made a thing not existing, Israel is desolate, his seed is not; Palestine has become a widow for Egypt
All lands are united, they are pacified;
Every one that is turbulent is bound by King Mernephtah, who gives life like Ra every day.
The proponents of the 'early Exodus' theory claim that this inscription presupposes the presence of Israelites in Palestine in the fifth year of Mernephtah, the Pharaoh of the Exodus according to their opponents. This interpretation, however, is not accurate. The Egyptians used a certain 'determinative' in connection with the names of settled peoples. That sign is used in the inscription with Tehenu, Kheta, Askelon, Gezer and Yenoam, but not with Israel, indicating that at this time Israel was still a nomadic people that perhaps had just escaped from Egypt.
This interpretation is further strengthened when we follow, for the last lines, the translation given by Ranke: 'All lands are united in peace. Every one roaming around is bound.'
The boasting of Pharaoh would then tally with that which is hinted at repeatedly in the Bible. ‘For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, ״they are entangled in the land, the wilderness has shut them in.” There is, on the other hand, proof that the Palestinian campaign of Mernephtah preceded the conquest of Joshua. In this campaign several places were named after Mernephtah. Egyptian troops are reported to have been at the ‘Well of Mernephtah, in the mountains’, at the ‘fortress of Mernephtah on the way to Upper Tyre’, in the ‘city of Mernephtah in the region of Amur.’ This ‘well of Mernephtah’ is mentioned in the book of Joshua as a point on the borderline at the partition of the land. There can, consequently, be no doubt that the conquest took after the time of Mernephtah and did not precede it by about 150 years.
6. I have already pointed out that there is increasing archaeological evidence to the effect that the conquest with its burning of cities took place in the middle of the 13th century. Furthermore, in the Biblical account of the conquest, ‘chariots of iron’ are mentioned repeatedly. As iron was not in use in Canaan before the 13th century, these chariots again point to a mid-13th century date.
III. The chronology, as outlined above (sub I ) , is in accord with the dates provided by contemporary Assyrian inscriptions and by that of the Ptolemaic Canon. Assyrian chronology is based upon a number of lists of eponyms, officials who held office for a period of one year, and whose names were used to date all the documents executed during their office. As these lists sometimes refer to astronomical events, such as eclipses of the sun, it is possible with their help to attain some real accuracy. They cover the period from about 900 to 650 B.C.E. Similarly reliable is the so-called Ptolemaic Canon, a list of the kings of Egypt, Persia and Babylon as far back as the year 747 B.C.E. It is based on astronomical dates and is rather accurate. These reliable sources are in accord with the Biblical records. Nothing comparable to their trustworthiness can be found in the chronological dates of the Babylonian sources for the earlier times. It is not until we arrive at about 2000 B.C.E that the dates given may be accepted as approximately correct. The foundation of the chronology is frail. The kings are described as kings and rulers of Kish, Lagash, Sumer, Agade, Ur, Isin, Larsa and Erech, as well as of Babylon and Assyria. There is at present no doubt that many of these dynasties were contemporary and overlapping. In the case of the individual cities there existed, moreover, a tendency to start out with reigns of legendary duration and work down to reigns of actual historical length. As indicated previously, many scholars once tended to trust these Babylonian sources, and to assume extremely early dates for the beginning of Babylonian history; but this practice has been completely reversed by recent discoveries. The present trend is clear. After all the exaggerations of the past decades, it becomes increasingly apparent that the Biblical accounts, which had been ridiculed, contain the scientific truth regarding these earliest times. A synchronization, however, is possible in spite of the complete lack of reliability on the part of the Babylonian sources. The Flood, as a very decisive event, has left its deep mark in Babylonian tradition. The Babylonians had a list of ten kings ruling before the Flood, and they arranged their later dynasties in the order they ruled after the Flood. Recent excavations at Ur, Shuruppack, and Kish have, furthermore, given archaeological evidence of the Flood. We are thus enabled to coordinate the history of the city kingdoms after the Flood with those events and developments which, according to the Bible, followed the Flood.
The date of the Flood as given by Biblical tradition, 2104 BCE, is corroborated in a rather astonishing way, by Chinese and Indian traditions. The Chinese place it at 2200; the Indians started a new age, the Silver Age, with the year 2204. Indian culture reached its height in the first half of the third millenium and disappeared well before the end of the same millennium. In Assyria, the names of rulers can first be traced shortly before the year 2200 B.C.E.These surprising agreements fully justify the use of the date of the Flood as a basis for our chronology.
Important for the synchronization of the Egyptian chronology is the fact that the Babylonian king Bumaburiash lived at the time of Amenhotep IV. Assyrian king
lists show that he was also a contemporary of the Assyrian king Puzur Ashur, who lived at about 1450 B.C.E. Thus, Amenhotep IV, too, must be placed at this time.
The early Egyptian dynasties ruled over city states.
They were contemporaneous and overlapping just as those of Babylonia were. This form of political organization can be observed at this stage of historical development wherever details are at hand. The long period allotted to them by arranging them successively has, therefore, to be reduced considerably, as was done with the Babylonian dynasties.
From about 1700 to 1580, Egypt was ruled by the Hyksos. They were nomads and their dynasty is referred to as 'Shepherd-Kings.' There is a wide-spread belief that under their rule the Hebrews came to Egypt. It has to be admitted that Semites must have been there, but there is no evidence available that the Patriarchs were among them. The theory does not seem to be in accord with the Biblical account. When the brothers of Joseph came to Egypt they were advised to introduce themselves at the court as keepers of cattle. In doing so they hoped to avoid to be taken into the service of the king, as every shepherd was 'an abomination to the Egyptians.' Under the 'Shepherd-Kings' this does not make much sense. It is, however, fully understandable under the kings of the following dynasty, who drove the invading Hyskos out of Egypt and became the founders of the New Kingdom. During their reign, surely, every shepherd must have been an 'abomination' to the Egyptians, reminding them of the hated Hyskos.
It is, consequently, under the rule of this dynasty, the eighteenth, that we must place the arrival in Egypt of Joseph (1544) and Jacob (1522). The Pharaoh at this time was either Thutmes III or Amenhotep H I. The last king of this dynasty, the heretic, Amenhotep IV (Odmaton), tried to introduce monotheistic ideas into Egypt. As we have noted, he was a contemporary of the BabyIonian Bumaburiash who lived at about 1450 B.C.E. After his death and the short reign of his successors, the once powerful 18th dynasty was overthrown. A sharp reaction against the religious reforms of Ikhnaton set in under the 19th dynasty. Ramses II, its most famous king, became the oppressor of the Israelites. The Exodus then took place under his successor, Mernephtah.
We may conclude that from the beginning of the second millenium, Biblical Chronology as here developed is substantially in conformity with the results of recent excavations. As to the third millennium, there are still some discrepancies. The present tendency, however, is directed towards a reduction of previously assumed early dates to the level set by Biblical chronology.
In contrast to Rabbi Biberfeld Brit-Am tends to take literally the statement that the Temple began to be build 480 years after the coming out of Egypt.
1-Kings (NASB) 6:
1 Now it came about in the four hundred and eightieth year after the sons of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.
So too, "the reduction of the time of the Persian kings to only 34 years" may (or may not) need to be reconsidered.
At all events the scenario of Rabbi Biberfeld provides us with useful information and a workable overview.
See Also: Rabbi Philip Biberfeld