A Historical Timeline of the Bible

Introduction

Is God a Poor Mathematician?

My first assumption in putting all these tables together is that the times and years for people and events in the Bible are correct and true. There is no reason to believe that God can't count and wasn't present when certain events took place. We already know that many so-called Biblical scholars and Christian denominations have problems counting even the most obvious.

My case in point is that of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ clearly stated more than once that He would be in the grave 3 days and 3 nights, a period of 72 hours (Matt. 12:38-40; 27:63, John 2:18-22, Mark 8:31; 9:31, Acts 10:40, Luke 13:32; 18:33; 24:7, 46, I Cor 15:4) . Christ knew there were 12 hours in a day, John 11:9 reads: Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world." By extension there has to be 12 hours in a night. 3 days x 12 hours + 3 nights x 12 hours = 72 hours! Still most of Christianity ignores the fact that you can nowhere derive a count of 72 hours between a Friday evening sunset and a Sunday morning sunrise. At best this could only be 36 hours. It is ludicrous to believe that the one whom God the Father used to create the entire physical universe (John 1:10) is such a poor mathematician. Even worse, God the Father isn't good at math either. Since we know that the Father was the one who resurrected Jesus Christ was it His bad math that caused Him to raise His son 36 hours early? As we look at the precision and wonders of this universe in which scientists have been able to d erive mathematical models to explain things in nature, and to have the ability to measure and predict events to the utmost accuracy, how can we deduce that the two divine beings who created everything that exists can't even tell the time of day could create such marvelous wonders and put in motion the forces to hold it together?

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So when the Bible says that Adam lived 930 years, or Abraham lived 175 years, or that the Israelites wandered 40 years in the wilderness, etc., I believe that the Bible is correct. If God was sloppy in recording events and the times of those events then what confidence can we have as to the rest of His written word?

Basic Biblical Chronology

There are some basic benchmarks in the Bible that can give us a real good feel for the timing of events.

  1. The number of years from the creation of Adam to the time of the flood is 1,656. Tables 2a and 2b show a verse by verse breakdown. There are arguments that the length of the year was different back then or that the numbering of years in ancient writings was encrypted in some manner so, for example, that 10 years was actually 1 year and that Adam only lived to be 93 years old instead of 930 years, etc.

    All my tables assume that one year is the period of 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds from vernal equinox to vernal equinox. Both the current Roman and Hebrew calendars are based on this. This is also true for the ancient Egyptian, Babylonian and Assyrian calendars.
  1. The number of years from the flood to the time of the covenant with Abraham was 451 years, 2327 B.C. to 1876 B.C..
  2. The covenant to the time of the exodus as 430 years, 1876 B.C. to 1446 B.C.
  3. The time of the exodus to the 4th year of Solomon's reign when work on the temple began was 479 years. The work on the temple began in the 480th year after the exodus so only 479 full years had passed. This period is from 1446 B.C. to 967 B.C. (Table 3).
  4. Solomon lived 36 more years after this (Table 3).

The sum of this 1,656 + 451 + 430 + 479 + 36 = 3,052 years from the creation of Adam of until the death of Solomon. Tables 2a, 2b and 3 provide the details of all the events in between.

Jerusalem (the Jews) fell to Nebuchadnezzar in August 586 B.C. Counting back the years of the reigns of the kings of Judah we arrive at a date between 931–928 B.C. There have been some difficulties in coming to a consensus as to the exact chronology of the kings of Judah and Israel . In recent years archeology has shed a lot of light on this problem. Along with secular historical events in nations outside of Israel in which some dates can be absolutely pinpointed, the window of disagreement has narrowed. Almost any good Bible reference or reputable history book will confer the dates of 931–928 B.C. for the most part. Even most variations outside of these dates don't wander far off. Most dates I've seen are in the range of 932–922 B.C.

Counting back from 932–922 B.C. a period of 3,052 years we get a date for the creation of Adam of 3984–3974 B.C. Considering a period of time of 3,500 years from the creation of Adam to the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar, such a small range of variation is negligible in the overall scheme of things. My tables are based on 931 B.C. as the date for the death of Solomon.

Now we have the timeframe in which we'll work.

The Children of Israel Did Not Spend 430 Years in Egypt !

The title speaks for itself. So, how long were the Israelites in the land of Egypt? And how long were the Israelites slaves in the land of Egypt? Accounts of this vary. Some say 430 years, some say 400 years, some say something else. Which is correct? The proper placing of these two distinct time periods of 430 and 400 years has a major effect on the proper placing on the time of the exodus.

The 430 Years

A problem arises with Exodus 12:40. In the Masoretic text of the Old Testament, Exodus 12:40 reads as follows: “The time that the children of Israel dwelt in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years .” Two other highly reliable biblical texts, however, strongly suggest that this translation is incorrect due to a critical omission. In both the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), Exodus 12:40 reads as follows: “Now the sojourning of the children of Israel and of their fathers, which they sojourned in the land of Canaan AND in the land of Egypt was 430 years”

So prior to living in Egypt the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob lived in the land of Canaan. This sojourn began when Abraham was 99 years old when God made His covenant with him in Genesis 17. The apostle Paul made this statement in Galatians 3:17 – “And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant [Genesis 17] that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect.” The law was given the year of the exodus, 430 years after the covenant of Genesis 17.

From the time Abraham was 99 years old until the time Jacob at age 130 moved to Egypt (Genesis 47:9) it was a span of 191 years. So Israel lived in Egypt the remaining 239 of the 430 years, being in slavery to the Egyptians just a little over 100 years. My tables reflect this as the period of 1876 B.C. to 1446 B.C.

Many like to say that Israel spent 430 years in Egypt to try to force the date of the exodus into the time of Rameses II. A proper interpretation of the Bible nullifies this idea.

The 400 Years

So where do the 400 years come in? In Genesis 15:13 we read: Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. 14And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age.” (Abraham died 175 years old, Gen 25:7.)

These 400 years began 76 years later when Abraham died. Amazingly these 400 years end exactly in the same year that Joshua and the Israelites completed their conquest of the land of Canaan and took possession of the land.

In Acts 7:6 we read: “But God spoke in this way: that his descendants would dwell in a foreign land, and that they would bring them into bondage and oppress them four hundred years.” This is the New Testament confirmation of this period of time. Although Abraham, Isaac and Jacob lived in the land of Canaan they were still strangers (foreigners) in their own land. After living a while in Egypt they were eventually subjected to slavery. They were freed, wandered for 40 years in the wilderness, and spent 6 years conquering the land of Canaan. This ended these 400 years. My tables reflect this as the period of 1800 B.C. to 1400 B.C.

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