Bible Chronology

“Thy Word is truth.”

Jn. 17:17

“And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son… and called his name Seth: and the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters: and all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.  And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos…”

Gen. 5:3-6

“In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened…”

Gen. 7:11

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Order of Contents

Intro
Where to Start?
The History of Biblical Chronology  3
Biblical & World Chronologies  13
Old Testament Introductions Highlighting Chronology  2
Chart of Biblical & World History  1
The Jewish Reckoning  4
Specific Biblical Periods:

The Table of Nations  1
Sabbatical & Jubilee Years  1
The Period of the Kings
  9
Daniel’s 70 Weeks
Ezra & Nehemiah
The Birth of Christ

On Secular, Ancient Chronologies  2

Ptolemy’s Chronology  2
Babylonian Chronology
Assyrian Chronology  4
Egyptian Chronology  2

More Resources

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Introduction

Ancient history is a giant puzzle, none of which, according to modern experts, is certain.  Strikingly, the Bible is the only book in the world that provides a chronological history from the Creation to the first century A.D.

Yet, the Bible is often found wanting in it being judged against the (shifting) reconstructions of archaeology and ancient chronologies.  The time benchmarks of the ancients, however, were not infallible (much more so scholars’ piecing them together), and they, in fact, often contradict themselves.

Liberals long ago succumbed to Satan’s temptation, ‘Yea, hath God said?’ (Gen. 3:1) and denied Scripture to be true in all of its historical details.  Many evangelical scholars today, while defending the inerrancy of the autographs of Scripture as they were originally written, yet still believe that significant chronological details have been forever lost or erroneously altered through the transmission of Scripture into our hands, contrary to our Savior’s promise: ‘Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law…” (Mt. 5:18)  Other evangelical scholars are willing to accept as solutions chronological paradigms where the Biblical data is forced to fit secular chronologies, though violence is done to the Biblical testimony in the process. 

While there are some challenging issues to sort out regarding the chronological statements that Scripture makes, yet the simple and faithful Christian may rest his faith upon God’s Word, having full assurance that the ‘times and seasons’ that Scripture records are true (and that ‘from the beginning’, Ps. 119:60), as surely as God cannot lie (Titus 1:2) and sees the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:10).

It is time to boldly assert with the apostle Paul, “Let God be true, and every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4).  One of the first Christian chronologists, Theophilus, bishop of Antioch (c. AD 412), said, “All times and years are made known to them who are willing to obey the truth.”

The Bible believing resources below will be a great aid and guide to you through this vast subject-field.  For a demonstration as to why the ancient secular, Greek, Latin and Egyptian chronologies are inherently unreliable, see Isaac Newton’s classic work, The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended  1728  376 pp.  rev. ed.:  Buy   205 pp.

For the most faithful, modern, full scale chronology of Scripture that we are aware of, we highly recommend Floyd Jones’ Chronology of the Old Testament: a Return to Basics  Buy  (15th ed., 2002, 325 pp.) along with James Ussher’s classic 17th century work, Annals of the World  Buy  (1658  1,248 pp.).


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Where to Start?

These links provide a great place to start through introductory and comprehensible articles for the beginner.  The works in the sections below are mostly at the intermediate to advanced level.

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Bible Timeline Articles  at AnswersinGenesis.org

History Questions and Answers Articles  at Creation.com

The Days of Creation at ReformedBooksOnline.com

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How is 4,004 B.C. Derived for the Date of Creation?

‘Chronological Compendium’  1 page, on p. xiii of Floyd Jones’ Chronology

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The History of Biblical Chronology

Articles

Shaw, Benjamin – ‘Early Christian Chronologies and the Significance of a Biblical Chronology’  2005  6 pp.  Presented at a meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society.

Shaw is a professor of Old Testament at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Serminary, a very conservative, Bible-believing seminary.

Horn, Siegfried H. – ‘From Bishop Ussher [1600’s] to Edwin R. Thiele [1900’s]’  1980  13 pp.  in Andrews University Seminary Studies

Horn takes the majority, evangelical view today of being pro-Thiele (not entirely recommended).  For more on Thiele’s view, see under the Period of the Kings below.

Horn is not entirely fair to Ussher.  See Pierce’s defense of Ussher’s chronology of the Period of the Kings below.

Russell, Michael – ‘Introduction’ & ‘Preliminary Dissertation, Containing Remarks on Ancient Chronology’  1827  36 & 120 pp.

Russell is no safe guide as far as principles of interpretation, but his historical references are the most comprehensive on this page.

Dr. Ben Shaw of GPTS:

“In the time of Scaliger [late-1500’s] and the following decades, a large number of works on chronology appeared.  Early English Books Online, for example, has more than three dozen titles on chronology that were published in English from the late 16th century to the middle of the 17th century.  Thus Ussher was not working in a vacuum, but had had the way prepared for him by Scaliger and others when he undertook his massive enterprise. In addition, the work of Ussher was followed by that of other scholars whose names have largely been lost.

They exist now only in rare book collections, their titles obtainable from old bibliographies, or from newer works which view them primarily as historical curiosities.  One of the last of these was Michael Russell, whose multi-volume work A Connection of Sacred and Profane History, From the Death of Joshua to the Decline of the Kingdoms appeared in several editions through the course of the 19th century.”


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Biblical and World Chronologies

The Early Church

Julius Africanus – ‘The Extant Fragments of the Five Books of the Chonography of Julius Africanus’  9 pp.  in Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 6, pp. 130-139

Dr. Ben Shaw of GPTS:

“Two of the earliest Christian chronologists were Julius Africanus (AD 170-240) and Eusebius (AD 263-339).  These were not the only early Christian chronologists, and were perhaps not even the earliest, but they are the earliest whose work remains available to the modern reader.  For Julius Africanus fragments of the five books of his chronography remain, and are readily available to the modern reader in the Ante-Nicene Fathers (vol. VI: 130-39).

He gives a total of 5,500 years from the creation to the advent of Christ.  In his discussion of the patriarchs up to the time of Abraham, he generally follows the numbers found in the LXX of Genesis 5 and 11, with some notable exceptions. He does not include the “second” Cainan, found between Arpachshad and Shelah in the LXX of Genesis 11 but not found in either the MT or in the Samaritan Pentateuch.  In addition, whether some text is missing or not is not clear, but he skips from Peleg to Abraham.  He states that Abraham entered the promised land in the year of the world 3277, which accords with the total number of years from creation to the seventy-fifth year of Abraham if the numbers of the LXX are followed, while omitting the second Canaan.  

Eusebius, in his Chronicle not in his Ecclesiastical History, largely followed the chronology of Julius, also relying on the LXX text for his numbers.”

Eusebius – Chronicle  For the part most relevant to the Scriptures and Israel, see sections 22-42

For info about the Chronicle, see above on Julius Africanus as well as Wiki.  See also Brian Croke’s ‘The Originality of Eusebius’ Chronicle’  1982  6 pp., which can be read online for free.

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1500’s, in Latin

Scaliger, Joseph Justus – Work on the Emendation of Chronology  1580’s  432 pp.

Scaliger (1540-1609) was a French Huguenot.

Dr. Ben Shaw of GPTS:

“Before Ussher, perhaps the most thorough and celebrated work on chronology was that of the French Huguenot Joseph Justus Scaliger (1540-1609) Opus de Emendatione Tempore (Work on the Emendation of Chronology).  It was published, in Latin, in the 1580’s and, to my knowledge, was never translated into English.

In this work Scaliger brought all the tools of the Renaissance scholar to the task of constructing a world chronology. He used the Bible, classical sources, ancient Near Eastern sources to the extent they were available, works on history from the opening centuries of the Christian era, and works on astronomy. He gathered the data from all these sources, piecing that data together in such a way as to produce correlations among the various chronological sources so that one continuous chronology of the history of the world might be produced.

The results of the work of Scaliger laid the foundation not only for those who immediately followed, but essentially formed the framework for our modern knowledge of the historical sequence of the western world.”

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1600’s

Perkins, William – Digest or Harmony of the Books of the Old or New Testament  1631  62 pp. in Works, vol. 2, p. 675 ff.  Buy

“More than half a century before Ussher published his famous book, Perkins produced his Harmony, stating, ‘I set before you a tablet of little brief of the holy and heavenly history.’  Perkins dated God’s creation of the universe in 3967 BC…

To begin with, his unwavering commitment to biblical inerrancy shaped his calculations…  Unsurprisingly, therefore, he viewed Scripture as the absolute authority for his chronology.” – J. Stephen Yuille

Ussher, James – Annals of the World  Buy  1658  1,248 pp.

This is the historically classic piece synthesizing world history according to the Biblical timeline.  Ussher posited creation at 4,004 BC.  Larry Pierce, who translated Ussher’s work from the Latin, explains how Ussher determined the 4,004 BC date in this article:  The Forgotten Archbishop.

“Ussher also provided a detailed chronology of biblical events that was included in many annotated editions of the King James Bible form the eighteenth century into the twentieth, thus making his name synonymous with Biblical chronology.” – J. Stephen Yuille

Regarding: “…his chronological scheme of the period of the Hebrew kings, which according to him began with Solomon’s death in 975 B.C. and ended with the Babylonian exile in 589. For the last kings of this period he based his dates on the list of Babylonian, Persian, Macedonian, and Roman rulers, known from Ptolemy’s Canon.  This king list of the second century A.D. was the only reliable ancient chronological source available in his time.” – Siegfried Horne

“The Ussher Tradition.  This camp… includes [modern] Biblical scholars who support Ussher’s original chronology, including Floyd Nolen Jones [below] and Larry Pierce…  Several of the major creation ministries, such as Answers in Genesis, and The Creation Research Institute, follow the Ussher Tradition…

The Ussher camp still disputes some of [Leslie] McFall’s assertions [of the Thiele tradition] concerning synchronies between the Northern and Southern Kingdoms (especially synchronies of Kings Menahem, Pekahiah, and Pekah of the Northern Kingdom with Uzziah of the Southern Kingdom).” – Creationwiki

Lightfoot, John – A Chronicle of the Times, and the Order of the Texts of the Old Testament… & The Harmony, Chronicle and Order of the New Testament…  147 & 358 pp.

“There is not a single difficulty that has not been satisfactorily cleared up in standard works by able Chronologers from the Chronicle of the Old Testament by Dr. John Lightfoot, in the 17th Century, to Willis J. Beecher’s Dated Events of the Old Testament . . . in our own day.”

– Martin Anstay, Chronology of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1913/1973), p. 169  

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1700’s

Stackhouse, Thomas – A New History of the Holy Bible from the Beginning of the World to the Establishment of Christianity, with answers to most of the controverted questions, dissertations upon the most remarkable passages and a connection of profane history all along; to which are added notes explaining difficult texts, rectifying mistranslations, and reconciling seeming contradictions, the whole illustrated with proper maps, vols, 1 (Creation-), 2 (Abraham-), 3 (Wilderness-), 4 (Temple-), 5 (death of Nehemiah-), 6 (Transfiguration-A.D. 100)  Here is his succinct chronological table of dates.

Stackhouse was a Bible-believing Anglican, and posits the beginning of the world at 4,004 BC.

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1800’s

Smith, George – The Gentile Nations, or the History and Religion of the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes, Persians, Greeks and Romans; collected from ancient authors and holy Scripture, and including the recent discoveries in Egyptian, Persian, and Assyrian Inscriptions: forming a complete connexion of sacred and profane history, showing the fulfillment of sacred prophecy  1854

Smith (1840–1876) was a pioneering English Assyriologist who first discovered and translated the Epic of Gilgamesh.  O.T. Allis quotes Smith approvingly numerous times.

Preface:

“The author ventures to hope, that more than this has been effected by these researches; and that the field of ancient history has been wrested from the power of infidelity and scepticism, and made subservient to the interests of revealed truth.  

It has at least been shown, that an honest and candid examination of the annals of the primitive nations, not only does not produce any facts in opposition to the records of Holy Writ, but actually furnishes the most important illustrations and corroborations of their teaching: and, what is yet more remarkable, it has been clearly shown, that the foul and false systems of doctrine and worship, which Satanic energy fastened at length on every part of the Gentile world, in all their darkness and enormity, bear witness to the light from which men had departed, and the truth which they had forsaken: so that, in future, the history and religion of the ancient heathen world may be numbered among the most important of the external evidences of the verity of divine revelation.”

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Goodenow, Smith B. – Bible Chronology Carefully Unfolded  1896  390 pp.

Being converted by the means of Charles G. Finney at 14 years old, the author spent much of his life on the subject in defense of Scripture, though he allows for the occasional corruption of a date or number in the text as we have it due to copyist errors (p. 5).  

He works backwards from the time of the death of Christ and posits Creation at 4,104 BC.  He leaves a possibility of error of a few hundred years.  He argues against the liberal Assyriologists of his day.  His work is worth comparing.

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Early 1900’s

Beecher, Willis – The Dated Events of the Old Testament, being a Presentation of the Old Testament Chronology  1907  210 pp.

“Coming now to those who have defended the Old Testament against the critics we have the writings of…  W.J. Beecher…” – O.T. Allis

“There is not a single difficulty that has not been satisfactorily cleared up in standard works by able Chronologers from the Chronicle of the Old Testament by Dr. John Lightfoot, in the 17th Century, to Willis J. Beecher’s Dated Events of the Old Testament . . . in our own day.”

– Martin Anstey, Chronology of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1913/1973), p. 169  

Anstey, Martin – The Romance of Bible Chronology: an Exposition of the Meaning, and a Demonstration of the Truth, of every Chronological Statement Contained in the Hebrew Text of the Old Testament, vol 1 (the Treatise), 2 (Chronological Tables)  1913  310 & 55 pp.

See Wiki for more on Anstey and his work.

“This classic work on Biblical Chronology…  assumes that the Bible is historical, literal and accurate…  It usefully critiques the chronologies of earlier chronologers like Scaliger and Ussher.  

Its main weakness for the modern reader is its outdated attempt to correlate these Biblical determined dates with archaeology as understood at the beginning of the 2oth Century.  These archaeological interpretations are now known to be incorrect.  The book also espouses the discredited “Gap Theory” explanation for the geological record, but this does not affect the scripturally based chronology the book develops.” – Amen.org

Mauro, Philip – The Wonders of Bible Chronology: From the Creation of Adam to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ  Buy  1922  150 pp.  Here is a version of his timeline.

Mauro (1859-1952) was an American lawyer who became a Bible-believing Christian and wrote numerous very good, conservative books on religious topics.

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Late-1900’s

Allis, O.T. – ‘Chronology’  1975  51 pp.  being ch. 6 of The Old Testament: its Claims and its Critics, pp. 379-430  Buy

Panin, Ivan – Bible Chronology  n.d.  107 pp.

This is ‘a highly technical chronology of biblical dates and numeric biblical patterns’, which is committed to the absolute authority of the Scriptures, per the canons which he lists on p. 2.

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2000’s

Jones, Floyd Nolen – Chronology of the Old Testament: a Return to Basics  Buy  15th ed. 2002  325 pp.

We recommend this work as the most faithful, current work on the subject.  Jones follows in the Ussher tradition.

Steinmann, Andrew – From Abraham to Paul: a Biblical Chronology  Buy  2011  460 pp.  Here is the table of contents and his timeline of dates.

“Although Dr. Steinmann has a high view of the inspiration of Scripture and the book is valuable as an apologetic resource, the works of scholars of various theological viewpoints are treated fairly.” – Rodger Young

Young says that Steinmann on the period of the Kings follows and slightly revises Thiele.  Here is Youngs’s Review, part 1 (General), 2 (Specifics).

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Old Testament Introductions Highlighting Chronology

Archer, Gleason

A Survey of Old Testament Introduction  Buy  1964, rev. 1974  582 pp.

In treating of each of the Old Testament books, with few exceptions, Archer defends conservative positions on them and highlights Biblical chronology.

“A definitive study which takes its place among the front rank of works in the field, ably defends the conservative position against the attacks of critics, and is essential for evangelicals who wish to have an intelligent grasp of the OT.” – Cyril J. Barber

‘The Chronology of the Old Testament’ in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. by F. E. Gaebelein, I:359-74 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979)

“Hence, in the last century or so, while the study of classical and Biblical chronology has continued (mostly as a matter of historical interest), the attempt to take the Biblical chronology back before the time of Abraham has been largely abandoned. This is the case not only among those scholars who do not hold to a view of Biblical infallibility and inerrancy but among evangelical scholars as well. Thus, when Gleason Archer produced his chronology for the Expositor’s Bible Commentary he omitted any attempt to show a chronology before Abraham.” – Dr. Ben Shaw of GPTS

Merrill, E.H.

Kingdom of Priests: A History of Old Testament Israel  Buy  1987, rev. 2008  546 pp.

Merrill was a distinguished Old Testament scholar and professor at Dallas Theological Seminary.

“Merrill has written a chronologically comprehensive survey of Israel’s history from a decidedly conservative perspective.  There has been a great need for a suitable seminary-level textbook in this area and this volume will fill the gap at least temporarily…  It highlights chronology, giving absolute dates for early history…” – Tremper Longman III

‘Chronology’ in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch, ed. by T. D. Alexander & D. W. Baker (InterVarsity Press, 2003), 113-122

“Hence, in the last century or so, while the study of classical and Biblical chronology has continued (mostly as a matter of historical interest), the attempt to take the Biblical chronology back before the time of Abraham has been largely abandoned. This is the case not only among those scholars who do not hold to a view of Biblical infallibility and inerrancy but among evangelical scholars as well…  

A more recent work, by E. H. Merrill, shows a chronology before Abraham, but discounts the utility of it.  This is made particularly clear in his chart of the Genesis genealogies, which gives an A.M. date (Anno Mundi: year of the world) for the various patriarchs, but does not give a Gregorian date [our current system] for them.” – Dr. Ben Shaw of GPTS

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Chart of Biblical & World History

Adams, Sebastian – Synchronological Chart or Map of History  Buy  1871  This is a 23 ft. long wall chart.  The wikimedia picture may be difficult to open and browse as the file is huge.

Adams was a presbyterian minister.  See Wiki for more info on his Biblically based chart.


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The Jewish Reckoning

The traditional Jewish chronological reckoning, which the modern nation of Israel still uses, accounts the creation of the world to be 3,761 BC, in contrast to Ussher’s 4,004 BC.  Why the difference?

The bulk of the difference lies in that the main Jewish document that this is based on (the Seder Olam, c. 160 AD, which is below) cuts off 164 years (contrary to accepted secular history) from the Persian period between the 500’s and 300’s BC.  This otherwise inexplicable anomaly more than likely happened, as Floyd Jones shows in detail below, due to the Jews’ fudging Daniel’s prophecy of 70 weeks (490 years) till the Messiah so that it would not fit with the coming of Jesus, but with the failed messianic rebellion of Bar Kokhba in 132 AD. 

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Article

Jones, Floyd Nolan – ‘The Seder Olam Rabbah-Why Jewish Dating is Different’  being pp. 42-46 of this document.

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Extended & Detailed

‘Jewish Talmudic Calendar’ at Wiki

‘Hebrew Calendar’ at Wiki

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Historic Jewish Book

Seder Olam: the Rabbinic View of Biblical Chronology  Buy  trans. 1998  292 pp.  With a commentary.  See the ‘Look Inside’ link through the Buy link for a preview.

For more background, see the Wiki article on this ancient book.  See also the related Wiki article on the later and shorter Seder Olam Zutta.

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The Table of Nations  Gen. 10-11

Robert, Clayton – The Chronology of the Hebrew Bible Vindicated: the Facts Compared with Other Ancient Histories, and the Difficulties Explained, from the Flood to the Death of Moses  1747  500 pp.

This book was in Samuel Miller’s library and was donated to Princeton Theological Seminary therefrom.

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The Sabbatical & Jubilee Years in History

The Sabbatical Year, where all of Israel was to rest and cease from normal labor for a year, was to happen every seven years according to Leviticus.  The Jubilee year is when Hebrew slaves were to be set free, debts cancelled, and the people were to rest, every 50 years.

Though these years were never fully celebrated in Israel before the Babylonian captivity (586 BC), according to Scripture’s testimony, yet the below will be of significant interest.  To see that James Ussher, the 1600’s puritan, was fundamentally correct in his approach to chronology, see our page Bible Chronology.

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Larry Pierce, ‘Appendix E – Some Objections Considered’ in this document, p. 40

Josephus [a 1st century Jewish historian] records a Sabbatical year in 163 BC and 37 BC.  This agrees with the start of the first Sabbatical year as deduced from the Bible by Ussher of 1445 BC and the resulting cycles…  

Ussher noted some very interesting Jubilee years in history:

[Old Testament]

a) When Solomon finished the temple in the eighth month (about November) of 1005 BC, he waited until the seventh month (about October) of the following year to dedicate this multi-billion dollar building—the seventh month of 1004 BC was the start of a Jubilee.

b) The seventh month of the same year of Hezekiah’s deliverance from the Assyrians in 710 BC, was the start of a Jubilee.

c) The Jubilee year in 563/562 BC marked the year when Nebuchadnezzar was freed from his insanity and Jeconiah was freed from his imprisonment.

[New Testament]

d) The last Jubilee in biblical history heralded the start of the ministry of John the Baptist in the fall of 26 AD.

[Note that Jesus’ public ministry started 6 months after that of John’s, and Jesus opened his public ministry by preaching on the Messianic text of Isa. 61:1 about the Jubilee Year (Lk. 4:16-21).]


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The Period of the Kings

On Ussher

Pierce, Larry – ‘Ussher’s Timeline for the Divided Kingdom’  n.d.  123 paragraphs

Pierce, who translated Ussher from the Latin, defends (well) in minute detail Ussher’s chronology of the King’s period.

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Books, 1800’s

Russell, Michael – A Connection of Sacred and Profane History, from the Death of Joshua to the Decline of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, vol. 1, 2  1827

Russell’s principles of interpretation are not recommended, but his work is here for reference.

Dr. Ben Shaw of GPTS:

“In the time of Scaliger [late-1500’s] and the following decades, a large number of works on chronology appeared.  Early English Books Online, for example, has more than three dozen titles on chronology that were published in English from the late 16th century to the middle of the 17th century.  Thus Ussher was not working in a vacuum, but had had the way prepared for him by Scaliger and others when he undertook his massive enterprise. In addition, the work of Ussher was followed by that of other scholars whose names have largely been lost.

They exist now only in rare book collections, their titles obtainable from old bibliographies, or from newer works which view them primarily as historical curiosities.  One of the last of these was Michael Russell, whose multi-volume work A Connection of Sacred and Profane History, From the Death of Joshua to the Decline of the Kingdoms appeared in several editions through the course of the 19th century.”

Crockett, William Day – The Books of the Kings of Judah and Israel: A Harmony of the Books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles  1897  350 pp.

‘An attempt to reconcile and correlate the history of the Books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles into chronological sequence.’ – Cyril J. Barber

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Articles  (in chronological order)

Beecher, Willis – ‘The Chronology of the Kings of Israel and Judah’  1880  36 pp.  in The Presbyterian Review

Beecher says, ‘The following rules are obeyed with entire uniformity, in all the dates of the period under consideration…’  Martin Anstey delineates Beecher’s 4 rules on p. 170 of his work, which Anstey says are ‘the key to the solution of all of these difficulties [in the period of the kings]…’  

Thiele, Edwin R. – ‘The Chronology of the Kings of Judah and Israel’  1944  52 pp.  in Journal of Near Eastern Studies

Thiele’s work has probably been the most important and influential in the field in the last century.  He sought to be faithful to Scripture as much as possible, but does allow for a few errors therein.  See Wiki on Thiele (1895–1986) and his work.

Thiele’s synthesis of the chronological issues are summarized in 6 points in Horn’s article, pp. 48-49.  While Thiele’s 6 principles may be helpful in adding to our toolbox, his basic paradigm of assuming the rightness of Assyrian chronology, and making the Bible ‘fit’ into it, is not recommended.

Allis, O.T. – ‘The Kingdom Period’  1975  32 pp.  being ch. 6 of The Old Testament: its Claims and its Critics, pp. 398-430  Buy 

Allis was one of the renowned old Princeton and early Westminster scholars and professors.

Jordan, James – The Mysterious Numbers of Edwin R. Thiele  1990  22 paragraphs

Jordan makes some good points regarding chronology, though some of his material on the topic in his many newsletters is just strange.  Jordan is highly not recommended on theology in general.

McFall, Leslie

‘Chronology of the Hebrew Kings’  n.d.  a one page table

‘Did Thiele Overlook Hezekiah’s Coregency?’  Pay ($5 a month)  Bibliotheca Sacra 146:584 (Oct 1989) p. 393 ff.

‘A Translation Guide to the Chronological Data in Kings and Chronicles’, Bibliotheca Sacra 148 (589):3—45, 1991

“The most prominent Thiele scholar today is Leslie McFall, who has worked hard to create a self-consistent chronology based largely on Thiele’s Mysterious Numbers. McFall has sought to disavow some of Thiele’s earlier assertions that Scripture itself was in error on certain points.” – Creationwiki

See Creationwiki for more on Leslie McFall and his work.

‘Has the Chronology of the Hebrew Kings been finally settled?’  Themelios Vol. 17 (1991) pp. 6-11

‘Some Missing Coregencies in Thiele’s Chronology’  1993  24 pp. in Andrews University Seminary Studies

Book Review of Gershon Galil, The Chronology of the Kings of Israel and Judah. (Studies in the History and Culture of the Ancient Near East 9). E. J. Brill, Leiden, 1996  in Vetus Testamentum 49 (1999) 572-74

McFall, Lesie & Pierce, Larry – Chronologies  2002  6 pp.  McFall first critiques Pierce’s “Ussher’s Timeline for the Divided Kingdom” (below) and then Pierce defends his article.

Pierce, Larry

‘Evidentialism – The Bible and Assyrian Chronology’  2001  56 paragraphs  in Journal of Creation

Pierce follows in the Ussher tradition.

“In the past 100 years, various reconstructions of Assyrian chronology have been used to undermine the accepted chronology of the period of the divided kingdom.  Edwin Thiele’s work on Hebrew chronology–as reinterpreted in the light of Assyrian chronology–has become widely accepted by evangelicals and secular historians. However, Assyrian chronology is not as simple as Thiele would have us believe, and there is no reason to bend the Bible to fit the current reconstructions of Assyrian chronology.” – Summary

‘Ussher’s Timeline for the Divided Kingdom’  n.d.  123 paragraphs

‘Some Objections Considered’  being pp. 35-41 of this document.

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Contemporary Books

Thiele, Edwin R. – The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings  Buy  1965  rev. 1994  256 pp.  Kregel

Thiele’s work has probably been the most important and influential in the field in the last century.  He sought to be faithful to Scripture as much as possible, but does allow for a few errors therein.  See Wiki on Thiele (1895–1986) and his work.

Thiele’s synthesis of the chronological issues are summarized in 6 points in Horn’s article, pp. 48-49.  While Thiele’s 6 principles may be helpful in adding to our toolbox, his basic paradigm of assuming the rightness of Assyrian chronology, and making the Bible ‘fit’ into it, is not recommended.

‘While not eliminating all the problems of chronology in the period of the kings of Israel and Judah, Thiele’s work has helped  Bible students reconcile many aggravating problems.’ – Cyril J. Barber

See the reviews of this book in The Jewish Quaterly Reveiw (1953) and Andrews University Seminary Studies (1979).

Kolberg, Bruno – Redating the Hebrew Kings  2010  370 pp.

This work purports to uphold the following principles (Introduction, p. 1):

“The regnal notices for the Hebrew kings have been accurately recorded in the Masoretic Text (MT) as translated by the King James Version of the Bible (KJV). These notices have no scribal errors or emendations.

Where the regnal data in the MT disagrees with the Greek manuscripts, the MT is to be preferred. Similarly, where the MT data disagrees with secular texts such as the Assyrian Eponym Canon (as presently dated), the MT is to be preferred.”

One of Kolberg’s main theses is that:

“…Edwin Thiele’s date of 931/30 B.C. for the division of the Hebrew kingdom is doubtful for two reasons:

1. the Bible’s internal chronology contradicts it, and

2. the Assyrian synchronism on which it is based—i.e., the battle of Qarqar believed to have occurred in 853 B.C.—is wrongly dated.

Accordingly, all calendars that use Thiele’s date to fix Biblical events before 931/30 B.C. are likewise doubtful. As this study proposes, an earlier date of 942/41 B.C. for the division of the kingdom, also called the disruption or schism, is more Biblically sound.”

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See Also Commentaries on the Books of the Kings

Commentaries on 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles

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Daniel’s 70 Weeks

Articles

Newton, Isaac – ‘The Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks’  being ch. 10 in Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, pp. 142-158

Habershon, M. – Period IV: Four Hundred and Ninety Years from the Seventh Year of Artaxerxes, BC 457/6 to AD 33 or 34  1841  5 pp.  in A Guide to the Study of Chronological Prophecy  pp. 18-22

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Books

Lloyd, William – An Exposition of the Prophecy of Seventy Weeks, which God sent to Daniel by the Angel GabrielAn Exposition of the Prophecy of Seventy Weeks, which God sent to Daniel by the Angel Gabriel  1690  144 pp.

LLoyd (1627-1717) was a latitudinarian, Anglican, Bible-believing chronologist who was responsible for first putting Ussher’s dates (slightly revised) into standard edition of the Bible in his time: The Holy Bible with Chronological Dates and Index, 1701.

Marshall, Benjamin – A Chronological Treatise upon the 70 Weeks of Daniel  1725  330 pp.

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See Also Commentaries on the Book of Daniel

Commentaries on Daniel

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Ezra & Nehemiah

McFall, Leslie – ‘Was Nehemiah Contemporary with Ezra in 458 BC?’  Westminster Theological Journal, vol. 53 (1991) pp. 263-293.  Accompanying chart: A Chronological and Literary Harmony of Ezra & Nehemiah

McFall argues for a new date for the some of the pivotal events pertaining to the period, but in doing so gives one of the fullest accountings of the issues, traditional date, and other possibilities that is available. 

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See also:

Commentaries on Ezra & Nehemiah

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The Birth of Christ

Newton, Isaac – Of the Times of the Birth and Passion of Christ  being ch. 11 of Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, pp. 158-182

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Secular, Ancient Chronologies in General

Primary Sources

ed. Pritchard, James – Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament  3rd ed. 1969  740 pp.

This is the standard collection of ancient documents relating to and shedding light on the Old Testament in one volume (known as ANET), which contains numerous primary sources relating to the chronologies and dates of Biblical and secular history.

Note that the editor was a liberal professor at Princeton and the perspective of the work is oriented to the comparative religions line of thought.

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Book

Newton, Isaac – The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended  1728  376 pp.  revised edition:  Buy   205 pp.

Newton (1642-1727) was the famous scientist who also had a penchant for history and chronology.  For a snippet as to why this work is important to ancient secular chronology, and to get a taste of the issues and problems involved in the subject, browse the preview in the ‘Look Inside’ link through the ‘Buy’ link above.

“…Newton decimated and overthrew the current dates of Greek, Latin and Egyptian chronology demonstrating the impossibility of using any of their chronologies as a stable foundation which could be used as a standard.” – Floyd Jones, Chronology, p. 22

The book flap:

“…Such was the greatness of his intellect, that he found history a pleasant diversion for his idle moments.  He drafted a book on the ancient history and the Gentile nations and worked on it periodically for over forty years but never published it. It was published posthumously in 1728, a year after he died.

…He notes that all the pagan nations had greatly exaggerated their history, creating much needless confusion.  Like a first rate prosecuting attorney, Newton cross-examines the ancient writers, using their own words against them to expose their logical inconsistencies.  He then develops a more and sound chronology using the scientific method based on logic, observations, astronomy, and just plain common sense.

Newton is not satisfied with merely showing one way of determining a historical date but overwhelms the reader with many independent ways of using the classical data mixed with common sense to establish the approximate date for many important secular historical events…

As originally written, Newton’s historical work is very difficult for modern readers to understand, but this special [modern reprint] edition presents this classic in a format and style suitable for today’s readers.”

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Ptolemy’s Chronology and its connection to Biblical chronology

Intro

Siegfried Horne:

“This king list of the second century A.D. [see Wiki] was the only reliable ancient chronological source available in his [Ussher’s] time.  It began with Nabonassar, king of Babylon in 747 B.C., and ended in the second century A.D. with the reign of the Roman emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161). 

Since this king list contains the names of seven rulers mentioned in the Bible-namely, Nebuchadnezzar, Evil-Merodach, Cyrus, Darius I, Xerxes, Artaxerxes I, and Darius II-, it provided pegs to which events of biblical history could be fastened, for the Bible contains synchronisms with some of these kings.  For instance, 2 Kgs 25:8-9 states that the destruction of Jerusalem took place in the 19th regnal year of Nebuchadnezzar. 

It was also of great importance that Ptolemy’s Canon carried the stamp of reliability, since it mentions nineteen lunar eclipses ranging over nine centuries.  These eclipses are dated to the year, month, day, and hour, mostly in terms of regnal years of various kings, and can be checked by astronomers and proved to be correct [according to Horne, though see below].”

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Book

Newton, Robert – The Crime of Claudius Ptolemy  Buy  1977  428 pp.

James Jordan (from here and here):

“Thiele also regards the canon of Ptolemy as “completely reliable.” We shall have to return to Ptolemy later in this series, but for now we make the point that Ptolemy’s list of reigns, written around A.D. 150, is not at all beyond question, as Robert R. Newton’s The Crime of Claudius Ptolemy (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1977) demonstrates. It seems likely that Ptolemy invented regnal dates and manipulated astronomical data in order to support his theories of celestial mechanics. Unfortunately, Ptolemy’s questionable work has influenced chronologists ever since he wrote it, even though his chronology is seriously contradicted by the records of the Jews and the Persians.

Speaking of the Jewish historian Josephus, Anstay writes that “since his account of the closing years of the Persian Empire agrees with that of the National Persian Traditions incorporated in the poem of Firdusi, and with that of the National Jewish Traditions preserved in the Sedar Olam, he [Josephus] stands as a witness against the longer Persian Chronology of Ptolemy, now universally accepted” (Anstay, pp. 22-23). If we reject Ptolemy and go with the shorter chronologies used by men closer to the scene of the disputed events, then the chronology of the ancient Near East must be shortened by a century. This means that the synchronisms between Israel and the surrounding cultures are called into question, and this calls Thiele’s work into question in this area.”

“Robert R. Newton has called attention to the established fact of small accelerations and decelerations in the rotation of the earth and of the earth-moon revolution, which means that the farther back we go in history, the less certain we can be of when, where, and how eclipses took place.”

Siegfried Horne

“The reliability and even the integrity of Ptolemy have recently been challenged by Robert R. Newton, The Crime of Claudius Ptolemy (Baltimore, Md., 1977).  I am not qualified to decide whether Newton’s criticism of Ptolemy’s astronomical work is warranted, but I want to say emphatically that Newton’s criticism of Ptolemy’s Canon is without any basis.  

During the last hundred years ancient king lists have been discovered, as well as thousands of dated contemporary records, which fully prove the reliability of Ptolemy’s list of rulers from the eighth century B.C. down to the second century A.D.  See Julia Neuffer, “Ptolemy’s Canon Debunked?” AUSS 17 (1979): 39-46.”

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Articles

Julia Neuffer, “Ptolemy’s Canon Debunked?” AUSS 17 (1979): 39-46

This is a response defending Ptolemy and his canon from the book of Robert Newton above.

Jonsson, Carl Olof – Professor Robert R. Newton, ‘Ptolemy’s Canon.’ and ‘The Crime of Claudius Ptolemy’  2000  10 paragraphs

Jonsson seeks to give a balanced assessment of Robert Newton’s book above.  Very helpful.

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Babylonian Chronology

Intro

From ChristianEvidences.org

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“The Babylonian Chronicles were found in 1956; these 4 tablets date to circa 600 BC. These record the events associated with the rise of the Babylonian Empire and King Nebuchadnezzar.

These recount the Fall of Assyria, Egypt and then Judah to Babylon in similar fashion to what we find in II Kings, II Chronicles, Jeremiah and Daniel.

These confirm events surrounding the Battle of Carchemish in 605 BC – which the Old Testament refers to in Jeremiah 46: 2 and II Kings 24: 7-17.”

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The Babylonian Chronicles

See Wikipedia for background info and for a collection of links to translations of the Babylonian Chronicles.

Chronicles of the Chaldean Kings (625-556 BC) in the British Museum  1956  134 pp.  Introduced and Translated by D.J. Wiseman

Mesopotamian Chronicles at Livius.org

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Article

Horne, Siegfried – The Babylonian Chronicle and the Ancient Calendar of the Kingdom of Judah  1967  16 pp.

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Assyrian Chronology and its connection, or lack thereof, to Biblical chronology

Intro

Quotes

O.T. Allis:

“Among the early results of excavation in Assyria was the discovery and publication by Rawlinson a century ago of tablets containing the Eponym Canon.  These tablets recorded the names of the kings and high officials who, like the archons at Athens and the consuls at Rome, gave their names in succession, each to a year, thereby establishing the chronological sequence.

While the system of dating by eponyms began centuries earlier, these lists cover a period of about 250 years, beginning about 900 B.C.  A gratifying result of the discovery of these lists lies in the fact that they connect with and overlap for about a century the Ptolemaic Canon, which had been known and used for centuries, but which only began with the Era of Nabonasser, 747 B.C.

It was quickly discovered that the two canons were in agreement for the periods which they both covered; and thus the year 722 B.C. for the fall of Samaria, as given by Ussher on the basis of the Ptolemaic Canon, served to anchor the Eponym Canon for the Assyrian chronology.

The Eponym Canon was preserved in two forms; the one consisted merely of the names of the eponyms (limmu), while the other of which several fragmentary duplicates were discovered, added to the name of the year a brief notation of some important event.  Thus for the eponym of Pur-sagale, which was the ninth year of Ashur-Dan III, there was mention of an eclipse of the sun, which astronomers were able to verify as having occurred in 763 B.C., a further anchoring of the Canon.”

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Larry Pierce

“There are three dates where Assyrian and Biblical histories are supposed to intersect. They are the main reason for abridging the traditional Biblical chronology which is longer.  These dates are 841 BC [the Black Obelisk of
Shalmaneser III and Jehu?], 853 BC [the battle of Qarqar and Ahab?] and 701 BC [Sennacherib attacking Hezekiah?].  There is no mention in the Bible of the events that supposedly happened in the years of the first two dates. Their intersection with Biblical history rests entirely on secular interpretations of Assyrian records, not on Biblical data.”

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Conclusion

Contra most of evangelical scholarship which seeks to correct the Biblical account by the Assyrian chronology, Allis (who has the fullest discussion of the issue) comes to the conclusion that the synchronisms posed between the Assyrian records and the Biblical record are very unlikely, and hence the one does not affect the other.  This is the same conclusion that some of the original Assyriologists who looked at the question came to.

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Articles

Allis, O.T. – ‘The Kingdom Period’  1975  32 pp.  being ch. 6 of The Old Testament: its Claims and its Critics, pp. 398-430  Buy 

Jordan, James

‘The Assyrian Eponym Canon’  1992  15 paragraphs

Most of the article is block quotes from the respected Old Testament scholar, O.T. Allis, whose work is not online.

‘Ahab and Assyria’  1992  13 paragraphs

Most of this article is block quotes from O.T. Allis.

Jordan:

“In my opinion, Allis’s arguments settle the question.  There is no good reason to believe that the Ahabbu or Ahappu of the Shalmaneser Monolith Inscription is the same as the Ahab of the Bible.  All evidence is against it.  Accordingly, the alleged synchronism between the Assyrian Eponym Canon and the Biblical chronology does not exist, and there is no reason to try and shorten the chronology found in the books of Kings and Chronicles.”

‘Jehu, Hazael and Assyria’  1992  28 paragraphs

Much of the article consists of quotes from Allis.

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Pierce, Larry – ‘Evidentialism – The Bible and Assyrian Chronology’  2001  56 paragraphs  in Journal of Creation

Pierce follows in the Ussher tradition.

“In the past 100 years, various reconstructions of Assyrian chronology have been used to undermine the accepted chronology of the period of the divided kingdom.  Edwin Thiele’s work on Hebrew chronology–as reinterpreted in the light of Assyrian chronology–has become widely accepted by evangelicals and secular historians. However, Assyrian chronology is not as simple as Thiele would have us believe, and there is no reason to bend the Bible to fit the current reconstructions of Assyrian chronology.” – Summary

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The Assyrian Eponym Canon

Smith, George – The Assyrian Eponym Canon; Containing Translations of the Documents, and an Account of the Evidence, on the Comparative Chronology of the Assyrian and Jewish Kingdoms from the Death of Solomon to Nebuchadnezzar  1875  220 pp.

O.T. Allis:

“It was also discovered that, according to the Annals of Shalmaneser III, this king, in his sixth year fought a battle at Qarqar against an alliance of kings, among whom Ahabbu of Sir’ilaia was mentioned. This was in 854 B.C. So it was at once pointed out that if this Ahabbu was the Ahab of the Bible, as many assumed to be the case, this made a difference of more than forty years in the biblical chronology, which placed the death of Ahab, according to Ussher, in 897 B.C.”

“This difference between the biblical and the Assyrian chronologies led to a vigorous debate. Three main positions were taken regarding it. We may describe them as the Gap Theory, which sought to harmonize the Assyrian chronology with the biblical, the Co-Reign Theory, which sought to harmonize the biblical chronology with the Assyrian, and the Objective Theory, which sought to do justice to both”

“This theory was proposed by George Smith in his book, The Assyrian Eponym Canon, which was published in 1875. . . . We may call his solution objective because it consisted, he tells us, `of taking the Assyrian records to be correct as to Assyrian dates, and the Hebrew as to Hebrew dates’ and also of recognizing `the possibility of errors in the Assyrian accounts where they differ on Jewish matters from the Bible.’” [Smith, pp. 185, 192]

George Smith, p. 154:

“If we allow that the Ahab and Jehu mentioned in the Assyrian records may not be the Ahab and Jehu of the Bible, we are not under the necessity of altering the chronology of either nation in order to make the Assyrian notices fit the times of the Hebrew monarchs”

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Egyptian Chronology and its relation to Biblical Chronology

Bates, Gary – ‘Egyptian Chronology and the Bible—Framing the Issues’  2014  110 paragraphs

“This article (although lengthy) does not attempt to solve any of the seeming problems in aligning Egyptian chronologies with the biblical text with any great detail. But for the average layperson trying to understand Egyptian history, it is often a case of ‘Where do I start?’ ‘How do we align such things?’  There are so many names, dynasties and dates bandied around with seeming authority that it is a confusing topic to investigate…  Hopefully this article will help us realize that the issue is not as cut and dried as the secular community sometimes presents it. Nor does Egyptian civilization falsify biblical history as the skeptics would like us to think.”

Mitchell, Elizabeth – ‘Doesn’t Egyptian Chronology Prove that the Bible is Unreliable?’  2010  58 paragraphs

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More Resources

Scholarly Articles

At BiblicalStudies.org.uk  (not all of which articles are recommended)

Biblical Chronology

Old Testament Chronology

New Testament Chronology

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Biblical Chronology Links

Links to Biblical Chronology Sites

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“And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.”

Ex. 12:41

And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.”

Josh. 10:11-13

“Let God be true, but every man a liar.”

Rom. 3:4

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Related Pages

The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible

The Inerrancy of the Bible

Creation

Bible Background, Survey, Authenticity & Introduction

Old Testament Background, Survey, Authenticity & Introduction

New Testament Background, Survey, Authenticity & Introduction

Old Testament Commentaries

New Testament Commentaries

On Prophecy

The Inter-Testamental Period