Dating Notation for Kings of Israel and Judah

Throughout the pages of this website there are many references to specific dates for the kings of Israel and Judah

The following is taken from pages 225-226 of a paper on chronology written by Rodger Young describing the method of notation he uses in his various papers which can be found on his website at, specifically “Tables of Reign Lengths from the Hebrew Court Recorders” JETS 48/2 (June 2005) 225–48. I found it useful to use his notation on this website. He uses BC (Before Christ) dating in his papers while I choose to use BCE (Before Common Era). (Currently my web pages have a mix of BC and BCE.)

To use the tables, it may be helpful to review how the calendar of the Hebrews differs from our own. The Hebrew calendar was (and is) lunarsolar. Each month started with the new moon. Since twelve lunar months fall short of a full solar year, in some years a thirteenth month was added. In later years the formula was worked out with some exactitude as to when this should be done. The month that began near the spring equinox was called Nisan. The northern kingdom (Israel) considered the year to start in Nisan throughout its history, whereas for civil purposes Judah considered the year to start in the seventh month, Tishri, corresponding roughly to our October. The Scriptures often give the number of the month instead of the month’s name, and when this is done the numbering always starts from Nisan, independently of whether the official year started in Nisan or Tishri.

In the tables, the expression “931n” is used to represent the year beginning on Nisan 1, 931 BC and ending the day before Nisan 1, 930 BC. This is the kind of year that would be used in the court records of the northern kingdom. “931t” represents the year beginning Tishri 1, 931 BC and ending the day before Tishri 1, 930 BC; this is the kind of year that would be used in Judah. The six-month overlap of these two dates is written as 931t/930n, meaning the time period that began on Tishri 1 of 931 BC and ended the day before Nisan 1 of 930 BC. The overlap of 932t and 931n is written 931n/931t. This method of expressing dates may be called the “Nisan/Tishri” notation.

For the general reader the Nisan/Tishri dates of the tables will need to be expressed in terms of BC years. This might be done as follows

  1. 931n would be written as 931/930, since the Nisan year falls in both these BC years.
    931t would be written in the same way, even though it represents a time period that is six months later than 931n.
  2. The six-month interval 931t/930n would also be written as 931/930 BC .
  3. 931n/931t may be written as simply 931 BC .