God’s timeline. When the Bible plays number games
It is not the intention of this study to prove that a new Bible timeline is possible but rather to point out that the various chronological clues hidden in the Old and New Testaments together complete a jigsaw puzzle which make a reconstruction of a previously hidden aspect of Jesus possible. Following the rules of the game, we will first piece together the New Testament framework and then we’ll put the individual pieces hidden in the Old Testament in their correct places in order to obtain the image that the authors of the Bible wanted us to play with. I think, however, that it is a good idea to give readers a little advice before they sit down and get to work on the jigsaw – don’t be discouraged by the apparent weakness of the opening hypothesis. Keep going and you’ll get to the surprising evidence confirming my argument. Furthermore, if you have problems remembering all the most important dates while you’re reading, you can always consult the chronological table summary at the end. Finally, whilst this study moves a long way away from the conclusions of Catholic exegesis bear in mind that it uses and translates the quoted texts.
Let’s start by establishing Jesus’s date of birth as gleaned from the Scriptures. The first step requires us to consider the Gospel verses that indirectly tell us Christ’s age: “You are not even 50 years old, yet you have seen Abraham?” (John 8.57) and “It has taken 46 years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days? But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body” (John 2.20-21). These two verses make the parallel between Christ and the temple seem obvious just as it is evident that those questioning Him believed he was around 50 years of age.
As proof that Jesus was just under 50 let’s read St. Irenaeus who wrote that:
“From the fortieth and fiftieth year a man begins to decline towards old age, which our Lord possessed while He still fulfilled the office of a Teacher, even as the Gospel and all the elders testify; those who were conversant in Asia with John, the disciple of the Lord, affirming that John conveyed to them that information”. (St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book II, Chap. XXII, 5).
We can infer from Irenaeus’s words, then, that Jesus was between 40 and 50 years of age when he taught but we are looking for something more exact. How can we find it? Perhaps there is a way and it is to give a more precise meaning to the term ‘generation’, i.e. 35 years as taken from Job who writes that:
“Job lived 140 years after that, living to see four generations of his children and grandchildren.” (Job 42.16)
If 140 years is 4 generations, one generation is 35 years. Now as Jesus said: “I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation” (Matthew 24.34) when, in the last few days of his life he prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple. Thus, as we can give a precise meaning to the term ‘generation’ and we know that Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D., a simple calculation gives us the year in which Jesus was killed – 35 A.D. (70-35=35).
Now we need to establish a year of birth in line with the timeframe referred to by St. Irenaeus – 40-50 years – which gives us a date somewhere between 15 and 5 B.C. A little known astronomical fact comes to our aid here, the established date that Halley’s comet passed over Bethlehem, 12 B.C., and the fact that this was probably the star that guided the Magi. However, despite the fact that it is confirmed by the Gospels, the year the comet passed over Bethlehem cannot be the year Jesus was born. And the reason for this is clear from Matthew 2.16 in which we read that:
“When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men”.
The fact that Herod killed all children under two years of age means that Jesus was born before 12 B.C., in the period between 14 B.C. and 15 B.C. as we would have, in any case, calculated by subtracting 50 years from the year of his death which, as we have seen, could have been 35 B.C. 50 has not been chosen arbitrarily but on the basis of the limits imposed by Irenaeus and in the verses from John 2.20-21 and 8.57 quoted above. Personally, on the basis of what comes next, I’m certain that 15 B.C. is the correct date because this dating, together with the more precise meaning I’ve given to the term ‘generation’, gives us the additional confirmation of a more coherent and complex timeline, that of the kings of Judah and Israel.
Our second step involves a calculation based on Matthew 1.17 which refers to fourteen generations passing between Christ and Babylon. If one generation is thirty five years, fourteen generations would be 490 years. We conjectured that Jesus was born in 15 B.C., therefore subtracting 490 years from 15 B.C. gives us an ‘absurd’ 505 B.C. for the Babylonian exile. Don’t laugh! Suspend your disbelief and keep on reading and you’ll see that this date places us in a very exact chronological framework and the only one which has, to date, been capable of clarifying the age-old problem of the lapse of time between the 1st and 2nd temples referred to by Seder Olam Rabbah. So keep reading, I won’t disappoint you.
Once again from Matthew 1.17 we know that from Babylonia to David another 14 generations pass (490 years) so, once again, we can calculate: 505+490=995 B.C. which should be the first year of David’s reign. But to be sure, let’s recalculate all the years of the reigns of the kings of Judah (the series relating to the kings of Israel stops before 505 B.C. in 638 B.C.), add up the totals (483 years and 6 months as the table below shows) and subtract them from 505 B.C. for the first effective year of David’s reign, 989 B.C. The table below summarises this long process.
Chronological table of the kings of Judah and Israel
|KING||YEAR CAME TO THE THRONE||LENGTH OF REIGN EXPRESSED IN DATES||LENGTH OF REIGN ACCORDING TO MY CALCULATIONS||LENGTH OF REIGN ACCORDING TO BIBLICAL AUTHORS||DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MY CALCULATION AND THAT OF BIBLICAL AUTHORS|
|DAVID||989||989-949||40 YEARS||40 YEARS|
|SOLOMON||949||949-909||40 YEARS||40 YEARS|
|REHOBOAM J.||909||909-892||17 years||17 YEARS|
|JEROBOAM IS.||909||909-887||22 YEARS||22 YEARS|
|ABIJAH J.||XVIIIrd of JEROBOAM||892-889||3 YEARS||3 YEARS|
|ASA J.||XXth of JEROBOAM||889-847||42 YEARS||41 YEARS||-1|
|NADAB IS.||IInd of ASA||887-886||1 YEAR||2 YEARS||+1|
|BAASHA IS.||III OF ASA||886-863||23 YEARS||24 YEARS||+1|
|ELAH IS.||XXVIth OF ASA||863-862||1 YEAR||2 YEARS||+1|
|ZIMRI IS.||XXVIIth OF ASA||862-858||4 .YEARS||7 DAYS||-4|
|OMRI IS||XXXIst OF ASA||858-851||7 YEARS||12 YEARS||+5|
|AHAB IS.||XXXVIIIrd OF ASA||851-830||21 YEARS||22 YEARS||+1|
|JEHOSHAPHAT J.||IVth OF AHAB||847-824||23 YEARS||25 YEARS||+2|
|AHAZIAH IS||XVIInd OF JEHOSHAPHAT||830-829||1 YEAR||2 YEARS||+1|
|JEHORAM IS.||XVIIIth OF JEHOSHAPHAT||829-816||13 YEARS||12 YEARS||-1|
|JEHORAM J.||Vth OF JEHORAM IS.||824-817||7 YEARS||8 YEARS||1|
|AHAZIAH J.||XIInd OF JEHORAM IS.||817-816||1 YEAR||1 YEAR|
|JEHU IS.||REIGNED FOR 28 YEARS FROM THE DEATH OF AHAZIAH||816-786||30 YEARS||28 YEARS||-2|
|ATHALIAH J.||REIGNED FOR 7 YEARS||816-809||7 YEARS||7 YEARS|
|JEHOASH J.||VIIth OF JEHU||809-770||39 YEARS||40 YEARS||+1|
|JEHOAHAZ IS.||XXIIIrd OF JEHOASH J.||786-772||14 YEARS||17 YEARS||+3|
|JEHOASH IS.||XXXVIIth OF JEHOASH J.||772-755||17 YEARS||16 YEARS||-1|
|AMAZIAH J.||IInd OF JEHOASH IS.||770-728||42 YEARS||29 YEARS||+13|
|JEROBOAM IS.||XVth OF AMAZIAH||755-690||65 YEARS||41 YEARS||-24|
|UZZIAH J.||XXVIIth OF JEROBOAM||728-674||54 YEARS||52 YEARS||+2|
|ZECHARIAH IS.||XXXVIIIth OF UZZIAH||690-689||6 MONTHS||6 MONTHS|
|SHALLUM IS.||XXXIXth OF UZZIAH||689-689||1 MONTH||1 MONTH|
|MENAHEM IS.||XXXIXth OF UZZIAH||689-678||11 YEARS||10 YEARS||-1|
|PEKAHIAH IS.||Lth OF UZZIAH||678-676||2 YEARS||2 YEARS|
|PEKAH IS.||LIInd OF UZZIAH||676-647||29 YEARS||20 YEARS||-9|
|JOTHAM J.||IInd of PEKAH||674-659||15 YEARS||16 YEARS||1|
|AHAZ J.||XVIInd of PEKAH||659-644||15 YEARS||16 YEARS||1|
|HOSHEA IS.||XIIth OF AHAZ||647-638||9 YEARS||9 YEARS||FALL OF SAMARIA|
|HEZEKIAH||IIIrd OF HOSHEA||644-615||29 YEARS||29 YEARS|
|MANASSEH J.||615-560||55 YEARS||55 YEARS|
|AMON J.||560-558||2 YEARS||2 YEARS|
|JOSIAH J.||558-527||31 YEARS||31 YEARS|
|JEHOAHAZ J.||527-527||3 MONTHS||3 MONTHS|
|JEHOIAKIM J.||527-516||11 YEARS||11 YEARS|
|JEHOIAKIN J.||516-516||3 MONTHS||3 MONTHS|
|ZEDEKIAH J.||516-505||11 YEARS||11 YEARS||DEPORTATION|
|TOTAL||484 YEARS AND SIX MONTHS||474 YEARS AND SIX MONTHS|
Now that we’ve reconstructed the table we need to evaluate its reliability, to test it in the light of a few specific chronological facts capable of throwing light on its sustainability or otherwise. To do this we will refer to both a non biblical and a biblical source which have in common certain dating issues which remain unresolved despite the fact that for the former calculations of solar and sidereal years and both together have been resorted to. We’re talking about Seder Olam Rabbah or The Great Order of the World, a Hebrew language chronology of events from the Creation to Alexander the Great’s conquest of Persia. Amongst other things it notes that the lapse of time between the building of the temple by Solomon and its post-exile reconstruction was 480 years. So let’s take our chronological table and see whether it effectively corresponds to this important and exact chronological data.
To begin with we need, guided by 1 Kings 6.1, to identify the year work started on the temple on Solomon’s orders. The verse cited reads:
In the four hundred and eightieth year after the Israelites came out of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, the second month, he began to build the temple of the Lord.
An analysis of our chronological table shows us that this was 945 B.C. Let’s identify now the year reconstruction began after the period of exile. To do this we need to bear in mind the information reported in Ezra 7.7-10 in which we read of Ezra’s return:
“There went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinim, to Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king. And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. For upon the first day of the first month he began to go from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him. For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgements”.
Ezra’s return to his home country is thus not an end in itself but his aim is to rebuild the temple as we read in Ezra 7.14-20:
“Because you are sent of the king and his seven counsellors, to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of your God which is in your hand, and to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counsellors have freely offered to the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem,and all the silver and gold that you shall find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem; therefore you shall with all diligence buy with this money bulls, rams, lambs, with their meal offerings and their drink offerings, and shall offer them on the altar of the house of your God which is in Jerusalem. Whatever shall seem good to you and to your brothers to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, do that after the will of your God. The vessels that are given to you for the service of the house of your God, deliver before the God of Jerusalem. Whatever more shall be needful for the house of your God, which you shall have occasion to bestow, bestow it out of the king’s treasure house”.
This excerpt thus dates the year of the reconstruction of the temple, and it needs to be a very precise calculation, as starting from the first year of Artaxerxes’s reign. This king received a request for asylum from Themistocles who had been sent packing from his home country in 471 B.C. It seems clear to me then that Artaxerxes was already king in 471 B.C. just as it seems obvious that Themistocles took the opportunity to leave as soon as Artaxerxes, a ‘’friendly’ king, came to the throne.
Therefore, if 471 B.C was the first year of Artaxerxes’s reign, the seventh year that we need to calculate according to Ezra verse 7.7 as quoted above is 464 B.C. Let’s now work out the interval of time between 945 B.C., which we have identified as the year work began on the building of the first temple, and 464 B.C, the year in which those returning from Babylonian exile started reconstruction work and the result is confirmed by the Seder as 480 years. All we need to do is a simple subtraction: 945-464=481. The result, allowing for a margin of a single year which I have always discounted, tells us we’re right and that the chronological table I’ve reconstructed and Seder corroborate each other’s version.
So far I’ve referred to the start of work but if we use the conclusion of work as the basis of our calculations the result confirms my timeline too. In this case John 2.20-21’s reference to the rebuilding work on the temple taking 46 years helps us out. As we saw earlier, work started in 464 B.C. so all we need to do is subtract 46 years from this date to obtain 418 B.C.
“the sixth year of the reign of King Darius” (Ezra 6.15)
that is, following the dating of Darius’s II’s reign, his sixth year as king which is corroborated by historians too. I think it is important to highlight that my timeline not only identifies exactly a VIth year which, given the almost completely ignored Artaxerxes edict, can only be that of Darius II and not that of Darius I. Thus my reconstructed chronology is not only accurate but it is also closer to the text of the Bible itself. Whatever starting point is used, therefore, the year the temple was blessed or the year work began on it, my timeline holds firm.
Let’s move on now to a test using a biblical source which has also been used as the basis for calculations which have not born the fruit hoped for. We’re talking about Ezechiel 4.4-8. Despite the simplicity of the issue (essentially it is merely a matter of adding 190 to 40 years starting from the beginning of the exile of Israel and Judah), Ezechiel 4.4-8 presents serious difficulties as a result of two different versions. For the Jews, in fact, the years to subtract for Israel are 390 and for Christians 190. It is difficult to agree on or establish the truth and to speak of right or wrong is, in any case, out of place. I’ll try to make my own contribution using the table that I hope you’re now familiar with.
Let’s begin by quoting the version that interests us using the English Revised Version which reads:
“Moreover lie thou upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it, thou shalt bear their iniquity. For I have appointed the years of their iniquity to be unto thee a number of days, even one hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel.
And again, when thou hast accomplished these, thou shalt lie on thy right side, and shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah: forty days, each day for a year, have I appointed it unto thee. And thou shalt set thy face toward the siege of Jerusalem, with thine arm uncovered; and thou shalt prophesy against it. And, behold, I lay bands upon thee, and thou shalt not turn thee from one side to another, till thou hast accomplished the days of thy siege”. (Ezechiel 4.4-8)
It is well known that Ezechiel’s intention here was to prophesy the exile of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, which were divided even in their wickedness and condemned to 190 years punishment for Israel and 40 years for Judah.
According to my calculations the last year of the reign of Hoseah, the last king of Israel, was 638 B.C. If we subtract the 190 years of punishment we get 448-7 which is the year of Artaxerxes’s edict, generally dated as 445 B.C. We get the same year with another simple calculation, subtracting 70 years of exile from 516/7 B.C. which, as the last year of Jehoiachin’s reign as shown in our chronological table, is the beginning of exile following 2 Kings 24.13 “as the lord had said” on the subject of exile. In fact, according to my calculations, the troops of Nebuchadnezzar set siege to Jerusalem in 518/7 B.C. and conquered it in 516 B.C. thereby setting in motion the 70 years of exile (a little aside: Jeremiah 25.1 and St John note that the fourth year of Jehoiakim’s reign coincided with the first year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign which, using our table, is 524 B.C. Interested readers can easily follow the chronological notes in the Bible and identify and date all Nebuchadnezzar’s military activities).
And the same goes for Judah which was condemned to 40 years of full, harsh punishment in an overall period of 70 years. If we subtract 40 years from 505 B.C. (the last year of Zedekiah’s reign according to my calculations) we get 465 B.C. which is very probably the seventh year of Artaxerxes’s reign if we take 471/2 B.C. as the first year of his reign rather than the more exact 471 B.C., the year, that is, that Ezra returned as noted in Ezra verse 7.7:
There went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinim, to Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king.
We need to underline here that Ezechiel seems to be using here for his calculations not 2 Kings 24.13 which is the usual reference point for calculations on the beginning and duration of the period of exile together with Daniel’s prophecies, and the Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks in particular, but rather the definitive fall of the two capital cities Samaria and Jerusalem which occurred in 638 B.C. and 505 B.C. respectively.
As I believe I have shown, Ezra 4.4-8 is a precise chronological note which, as our table makes clear, became a prophecy fulfilled. On the other hand, if we use the timeframe generally used to date this prophecy, it could not have been fulfilled or only in very approximate terms. In fact if we take the 190 years of the Revised English Bible and accept that 538 B.C. marked the end of Israel’s exile the sum of the two indicates that the exile began and Samaria fell in 728 B.C. Studies of this event, however, date it to 721/2 B.C., a considerable difference, the same discrepancy we found for the prophecy on the exile of Judah, to be calculated by subtracting 40 years from 587 B.C. when it began (587-40=547 B.C. despite the fact that it is generally dated to 538 B.C. together with the Edict of Cyrus).
This discrepancy is well known in scholarly circles and has led to these being considered symbolic numbers. This is, of course, entirely possible however it is generally accepted that this symbolic meaning escapes us.
Even if it is used to get to the bottom of the chronological problem constituted by Ezra 4.4-8,our table enables us, with this further confirmation, to affirm that both its calculations and the chronology of the kings are exact despite the account that has been written on the subject, and that I will now refute, by W. F. Albright in his “The Chronology of the Divided Monarchy of Israel” in the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research” 100 (1945), 16-22.
In this essay Albright argues that he has demonstrated the chronological unreliability of the books cited in that he has highlighted a serious discrepancy at a specific point of the Chronology of the Kings. Specifically, he argues that adding together the years that the two kings of Israel, Jehu and Pekah, reigned, we should get a figure which is identical to the sum of the kings of Judah – 114 years – because Jehu (Israel) and Ahaziah (Judah) started their reigns the same year and the same is true of Pekah (Israel) and Jotham (Judah), a perfect match which, however, Albright finds to be absent calculating 128 years for Judah and 114, as we have seen, for Israel. If this were true Albright would be quite right but this is not the case as I will attempt to explain.
There’s no need to get into complex chronological issues because all this is based on a very simple fact. Albright relied on the calculations made by the editor of the Bible who committed a very serious error of calculation in the case of the length of Amaziah’s reign. The chronological table shown earlier makes this clear if you look at my column of figures and compare it to the Bible author’s calculations.
The crucial fact to note here is that Amaziah’s reign, according to my calculations, lasted 42 years instead of the 29 referred to explicitly in the Bible, a difference of 13 years. This corresponds almost exactly to the discrepancy of 14 years indicated by Albright (128-114=14). In short this means that Albright unfortunately based his arguments on the calculations of the Bible editor without checking their reliability. I’m quite certain that, if he had had the patience to recalculate the years all the kings reigned he would have realised his mistake and would not have written his essay. He would not, that is, have asserted that he had found the proof of the chronological unreliability of the Book of Kings.
We need first to consider this: if Albright’s analysis was intended to refute the Book of Kings once and for all and to bury the Chronology of the Kings, now that we have shown that the foundations of this analysis are undermined by a certain superficiality which invalidates the study, does not this argument now actually prove its reliability? There are no longer 14 years difference between the kingdoms of Judah and Israel but only a year and a half. For Judah the total is, in fact, 142 while for Israel it is 140 years and 7 months – exactly that correspondence that Albright was looking for.
Secondly, we need to consider the total number of years from Jehu to Pekah which are no longer the 114 calculated by Albright but far more.
Finally, and following on from this second issue, is my third point. If my chronological calculations show, to the contrary of Albright, who first brought awkward issues of precision and reliability into the argument, the accuracy of the chronology of the Book of Kings then how is it possible to calculate, at the same time, the 1st year of David’s reign at around 1000 B.C. and the end of the Babylon exile in 587? In fact, in its implicit dating (reign from XXth of…, that is), which is the most exact and, as we have seen, reliable, the Bible indicates a total of 483 years and 6 months. a simple calculation, then, dating 586 as the last year of Zedekiah’s reign, gives us the beginning of David’s reign at 586 + 483/4 = 1070/1. If we demonstrate, therefore, that the fundamental correspondence between the reigns of Judah and Israel exists and that Albright is wrong, the Chronology of the Kings is automatically correct. David’s reign either began in 1070 B.C., as the period of exile started in 586 B.C., or we get into a complex mechanism of chronological incongruity.
Everything I’ve set out so far demonstrates that it is possible to keep strictly to the Bible and that it is not as unreliable as we have been led to believe.
Now allow me to move from the sedate trot of the previous pages to a headlong gallop. With a few concise phrases and a few sums, I’ll show that it is possible, using the chronological table that I’ve constructed, to ride from prophecy to prophecy through 708 years of Jewish history. We’ll start in 638 B.C. which, according to my calculations marks the fall of Samaria, and finish in 70 B.C. without a single chronological stumbling block. Ready? Climb onto our time travelling steed then!
As I mentioned earlier, my calculations date the fall of Samaria to 638 B.C. This was the first of 190 years of punishment prophesied in Ezechiel 4.4 as follows:
“Moreover lie thou upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it. according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it, thou shalt bear their iniquity. For I have appointed the years of their iniquity to be unto thee a number of days, even one hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel”.
The 190 days/years that the prophet refers to started in 638 B.C. and finished, by means of a simple sum, in 448 B.C., the year which, according to my calculations, marks the end of the period of exile and the year in which Artaxerxes decreed return. It is important to remember that, in all my work, I have taken +/- 1 to equal 0 so there’s nothing strange about me starting our steed on its way to the next prophesy with the year 447. It is purely an issue of accuracy.
The prophecy we will consider now is that of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks and the first sixty nine weeks in particular, the period, that is, from 447 B.C. to 35 A.D., the year of Jesus’s death, again according to my calculations (which are not significantly different from those of the exegetists which date it to 32/3 A.D.) Once again it is a very simple sum: [(483-447)-1]=35 A.D. For a clearer understanding of the formula, which removes the non-existent year 0, it is worth quoting the prophecy which says:
Know therefore and discern
that from the going forth of the commandment
to restore and to build Jerusalem
unto the anointed one, the prince,
shall be seven weeks:
and threescore and two weeks
it shall be built again, with street and moat,
even in troubled times.
26 And after the threescore and two weeks
shall the anointed one be cut off, and shall have nothing:
and the people of the prince that shall come shall
destroy the city and the sanctuary;
and his end shall be with a flood, and even unto the end
shall be war; desolations are determined.
As the text makes clear, from the commandment (in 447 B.C., as cited earlier) to the killing of the anointed prince (Christ) 69 weeks of years will pass – 69×7=483 years – which are then added to 447 B.C. to get 35 A.D. as the year that the anointed one will be killed.
Now let’s set off on a headlong gallop through the last 35 years. There is a very strong link between the Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks and Mark 13.30. I think we can safely say that Daniel passes the word to Jesus who prophesies the destruction of Jerusalem with these words:
” I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation”.
As I mentioned at the beginning, the term generation is not a vague term. It indicates 35 years. And it is important to bear in mind, to contextualise the verse quoted, that it is part of a chapter devoted to the vaticination of the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. My calculation, then, based as it is on 1 generation as 35 years, gives an exact year, 70 B.C., which is the year in which the tragic events of Jerusalem are historically considered to have happened. Nothing could be more straightforward: 35 A.D. + 35 (1 generation) = 70 A.D.
I think it is important to underline that the date of the crucifixion of Jesus is always the same despite the very different analytical and chronological methods used to calculate it. The first dates it according to the words of Irenaeus on the basis of Jesus’s 40-50 years of age, the second according to Daniel’s Seventy Week prophesy, the third using the information in the previous passage while I will describe the fourth now. It refers to Theodoret of Cyrus who dates the Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks somewhere between the XXth year of Artaxerxes and the baptism of Christ on page 231 of his Commentary on Daniel. We know, from Theodoret once again, that this period lasted 69 weeks, 483 years that is, so all we need to do is to identify this date according to my calculations. As far as the year of baptism is concerned, if the date of His death was 35 A.D, then He must have been baptised in 32 A.D. because His ministry lasted three years. As far as the XXth year of Artaxerxes is concerned, if the first year of his reign was, as mentioned earlier, 471/2, its end would have been 451/2. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll round it off at 451 B.C. and do the following sum: [483-451)-1]= 31 which means that, if we remove the non-existent year 0, we’ve found the year we’re looking for with a very slight approximation which, as we have seen, is unimportant. You will have realised by yourselves what I’m about to say: Theodoret must have been aware of the dates in my chronology otherwise it would be a very strange coincidence. There are traces, moreover, of the timeframe I’ve reconstructed in other authors too. Midrash reports, in fact that Queen Vashti, who was overthrown by Esther, called herself ‘daughter of the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar’. To make sense of the very few years that separate her from King Nebuchadnezzar (which we obviously cannot do if we date the exile to 586 B.C. and the Book of Esther to the Artaxerxes years) a note explains that this family relationship is not to be taken literally but is rather a literary form used to indicate a general female line ancestry. No, in my opinion, it is very likely indeed that Vashti was indeed Nebuchadnezzar’s granddaughter, if the first year of his reign was 524 B.C. while Artaxerxes’s was 471 B.C. My account, moreover, makes the invention of a diaspora, and a first one at that, to explain the presence of Jews in the Artaxerxes years unnecessary. Finally, the advanced age – over 100 – of Mordecai no longer requires explanation because the events take place over a much shorter period. And the archaeological evidence also confirms my timeframe which, as you will have gathered, excludes Cyrus from the events of the period of exile. Cyrus’s stele, in fact, does not list the Jews among the peoples liberated. It is true that the Bible refers explicitly to Cyrus’s role in liberating the Jews but I believe that it would be better for now to leave this subject to one side as it would take us too far from the point of this account.
So here we are, ladies and gentlemen, moving from prophecy to prophecy we have not only arrived at our destination but we’ve completed the jigsaw puzzle too. Before I leave you to observe this as yet hidden face of Jesus which you yourselves have constructed – in following this chronology have we got to the bottom of his date of birth or not? – I’d like to propose one last simple but highly symbolic calculation which will attract your curiosity (it would be interesting to hear what the rabbis think of it as they are usually highly sensitive to the language of numbers). My chronology dates the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem and the years of exile countdown to 517 B.C. (N.B. it began in 516 B.C.) and its end in 447 B.C. As you all know, Titus destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. so this is the sum to do:[(447+70)-1]=516. In practice it means that, taking away the non-existent year 0, the total of the years that passed between the commandment on the return from exile (see DNA 9.25) and the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus is the same as that which indicates the year in which:
“he carried out thence all the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the Lord, as the Lord had said.” (2 Kings 24.13)
and consequently the capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. In other words, from the year of the rebuilding of Jerusalem after the return from exile to its destruction by Titus the same number of years pass as those which mark the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar. It feels like a piece from some other jigsaw puzzle. Could it be the children’s fault?
Summary chronological table
|989 B.C.||FIRST YEAR OF DAVID’S REIGN|
|945 B.C.||WORK BEGINS ON THE BUILDING OF THE TEMPLE|
|938 B.C.||WORK ON THE TEMPLE IS COMPLETED|
|638 B.C.||IIIrd OF HOSHEA, FALL OF SAMARIA, THE 190 YEARS OF EXPIATION IN EZRA 4.5BEGIN|
|524 B.C.||IST YEAR OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR|
|517 B.C.||THE FIRST OF 70 YEARS OF EXILE|
|505 B.C.||XITH OF ZEDEKIAH, FALL OF JERUSALEM, THE TEMPLE IS BURNT DOWN|
|471 B.C.||IST YEAR OF ARTAXERXES|
|468 B.C.||ESTHER BECOMES QUEEN|
|464 B.C.||VIITH OF ARTAXERXES, EZRA’S RETURN|
|451 B.C.||XXTH OF ARTAXERXES, NEHEMIAH GETS PERMISSION TO RETURN TO JERUSALEM, WORK BEGINS ON THE REBUILDING OF THE WALLS|
|447 B.C.||THE END OF THE EXILE OF JUDAH AND ISRAEL|
|424 B.C.||WORK BEGINS ON THE RECONSTRUCTION OF THE IIND TEMPLE|
|418 B.C.||WORK ON THE IIND TEMPLE IS COMPLETED|
|399 B.C.||WORK ON THE REBUILDING OF THE WALLS IS COMPLETED|
|15 B.C.||BIRTH OF JESUS|
|70 B.C.||FALL OF JERUSALEM|