Book Review: From Abraham to Paul: A Biblical Chronology: Part II

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Excerpt Book review: From Abraham to Paul: A Biblical Chronology, by Andrew E. Steinmann. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2011. Hardback, 421 + xxxviii pages. Part II. Continue reading

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From Abraham to Paul: A Biblical Chronology (henceforth FATP) distills the wisdom of over 2000 years of investigation of biblical chronology into a system that is faithful to the biblical texts. It is also faithful to a reasonable interpretation of the archaeological data bearing on those texts. The background research is thorough, as reflected in the 30 pages of bibliographic references that can be investigated for further insights.


Dr. Steinmann’s approach is to present that portion of past research that provides the best understanding of the biblical texts and the associated material from extra-biblical sources. A tedious overview of all previous scholarship on a given topic, such as would be found in a PhD thesis, is avoided, so that the reader therefore can focus on determining if the conclusion reached in FATP makes sense. As an example, the writings of Josephus are an important resource for the historian, but his chronology of the kingdom period is next to worthless and so is not brought up for discussion. But one part of Josephus that is of great value for this period is his citation of Phoenician records for the chronology of the kings of Tyre, records that Josephus said existed in the archives of Tyre when he wrote. The reader of FATP is introduced to the scholarship of researchers such as J. Liver, F. M. Cross Jr., and William Barnes who have established the authenticity of this Tyrian material, based in part on an archaeological finding that was published in 1951. These scholars were by no means committed to establishing the Bible’s accuracy in historical matters, but their studies nevertheless verify, independently of the biblical account, that construction began on Solomon’s Temple in the spring of 967 B.C. (see Chapter 3 of FATP for the details). With this example as elsewhere in the book, Dr. Steinmann’s goal is to evaluate the multitude of sources, select those that can be judged as historically reliable, and then present that information in a logical form that shows the history and chronological progression of the events described. At the end of each section, the chronology for the period is summarized into tables that the reader will find useful for future reference.


In all this the first task is exegesis. What does the text say? But beyond that is another question: what does the text mean? It is clear that the text says that Jotham of Judah reigned sixteen years, but does this mean 16 years from the start of his sole reign or 16 years from the time he took over the responsibilities of kingship when his father, King Uzziah, was struck with leprosy? It is therefore appropriate that after a short first chapter devoted to the importance of time and chronology throughout the Bible, Chapter 2 discusses the meaning of time expressions in ancient Israel and neighboring cultures, including the various ways a king’s reign could be measured.


After this background, Chapter 3 establishes two benchmarks for Old Testament chronology: the dates for Solomon’s reign and the time of the Exodus. Much of the material in this chapter has not appeared before in book form. As already mentioned, the Tyrian data found in Menander/Josephus have been used by several scholars to date the beginning of Temple construction, and hence the spring of Solomon’s fourth year (1 Kings 6:1), to 967 B.C. This date that can also be calculated from the biblical texts, which in turn are tied to Assyrian and astronomical data. Chapter 3 correlates the reign of Shoshenq I, first pharaoh of the 22nd Dynasty (the biblical Shishak, 1 Kings 14:25 and 2 Chronicles 12:2) with Solomon’s successor Rehoboam, and, with less precision, the reign of Siamun, next-to-last pharaoh of Egypt’s 21st Dynasty, with Solomon’s early years.  By using Egyptian data, the times of these two monarchs can only be determined within a few decades. Egyptologists, however, give precise dates to the two pharaohs based on Shoshenq’s invasion of Judah in Rehoboam’s fifth year, i.e. in 925 B.C. according to Thiele’s chronology but in 926 B.C. according to the chronology adopted in FATP. The important lesson here is that Egyptologists have had such confidence in the biblical dates for the division of the kingdom and Rehoboam’s reign that they use these dates to set the anchor-point for determining the reign of all pharaohs of the 21st and 22nd Dynasties.


Having established the dates of Solomon and the division of the kingdom upon his death, Chapter 3 then uses 1 Kings 6:1 to date the Exodus to Nisan 14, 1446 B.C. Recognizing that the date of the Exodus is a controversial issue, a full treatment is given for the various arguments in favor of this date versus a date in the 13th century that is advocated by some evangelicals. Topics covered are the archaeology of Hazor, Ai, and Jericho, the length of time required for the events of the Book of Judges, and the claim that the 480 years of 1 Kings 6:1 cannot be trusted because it is an imaginary figure for twelve 40-year generations.


Some new material here is the discussion of radiocarbon dating for the destruction of Jericho City IV. Radiocarbon dates of grain samples from this level are often cited as verification of Kathleen Kenyon’s (mis)dating of the city’s destruction to between 1580 and 1550 B.C., which is about 150 to 170 years before the destruction described in the book of Joshua (1406 B.C.).


Bryant Wood has challenged Kenyon’s dates based on the pottery found in City IV. For the radiocarbon dating, Steinmann gives an impressive list of publications from the excavation team in Egypt’s Delta region, led by Manfred Bietak, that claim that radiocarbon dates for Egyptian pharaohs of the 15th century B.C. are approximately 170 years too early, and these radiocarbon dates should be adjusted downward by that amount to correspond to reality. If this is so, then it is reasonable to expect that radiocarbon dates from 15th-century Jericho would also read about 170 years too high. Applying the same corrections that Egyptologists say are necessary for 15th-century radiocarbon dates in Egypt’s Delta region would make the adjusted radiocarbon dates of Jericho City IV agree with the biblical date. This controversy over radiocarbon dating in the second millennium B.C. has by no means been resolved. While I was writing this review (late June, 2012), I learned of a new Web page established by the principal physicist associated with Dr. Bietak that again asserted that radiocarbon dates for grain samples and other short-lived material from 15th-century Egypt are almost two centuries too high.


Chapter 3 also presents the Jubilee cycles as a confirmation of both anchor dates: the date of start of Temple construction and the date of entrance into Canaan, 40 years after the Exodus, at which time counting for the Jubilee and Sabbatical cycles started (Leviticus 25:1-12). This material will be new to most readers, although not to readers of Bible and Spade, since there was an article about the Jubilee and Sabbatical cycles and their use in dating the Exodus and Conquest in the Fall 2008 issue. Chapter 3 of FATP summarizes these converging lines of research into a convincing apologetic for 1) the accuracy of the Bible in chronological matters, 2) the 1446 date of the Exodus, and 3) the fact that the Book of Leviticus must have been written before 1406 B.C., since evidence from the Bible and Israel’s history shows that counting for the Jubilee and Sabbatical cycles started in that year, and the only credible charter for their observance is found in Leviticus 25-27.


Chapter 4 is devoted to the chronology of the patriarchs. The crucial text here is Exodus 12:40, 41, where 430 years are given for the sojourning of the people of Israel who dwelt in Egypt (the Samaritan and some copies of the LXX add “and their fathers”; Samaritan and LXX both add the sojourning in the time in Canaan). By the most straightforward reading of the Masoretic text, the 430 years would start when Jacob, at the age of 130 years, entered Egypt (Genesis 47:9). This would mean that Jacob was born in 2006 B.C., Isaac in 2066, and Abraham in 2166. FATP accepts this so-called “Long Sojourn” interpretation, which seems to be the majority opinion of conservative scholarship.


Archbishop Ussher and various other writers have interpreted the Exodus passage in light of Paul’s statement in Galatians 3:17, where the apostle says that the Law was given 430 years after the covenant with Abraham (or after the covenant was ratified; either interpretation is possible). This would seem to start the 430 years with God’s promise to Abraham when the patriarch was 75 years old (Genesis 12:4, 7; compare Galatians 3:16), just as clearly as the Masoretic text of Exodus 12:40, 41 would seem to place it 215 years later. Interpreters holding this opinion therefore advocate a “Short Sojourn” in Egypt of 215 years. In response to the argument from Galatians, Steinmann (p. 69) argues that “Paul probably considered Jacob’s entry into Egypt as the ratification of the covenant.” But this apparently contradicts Hebrews 6:13-17, which states that God’s oath to Abraham was the confirmation. On p. 69, the statement is made that if the Short Sojourn is assumed, it would “hardly be possible” for Israel to increase from 70 individuals when Jacob entered Egypt to the multitude that left in the Exodus 215 years later. Taking the number of non-Levite men 20 years of age and older given in Numbers 1:46 and adding one-third this number as an estimate of the non-Levite boys 19 and younger gives a total of 804,733 non-Levite men and boys at the Exodus. Adding an equal number of non-Levite women and girls, plus 22,000 Levite men and boys and an assumed equal number of Levite women and girls gives roughly 1,653,466 individuals. To increase to this number in 215 years from a starting population of 70 requires a compound continuous annual growth rate of 4.7 percent. This is not an unreasonable figure, since it is exceeded in some countries at the present day. In short, the discussion in Chapter 4, although advocating the Long Sojourn, is not likely to change the opinion of many who hold to the Short Sojourn.


One problem that is not addressed in Chapter 4 is the statement in Genesis 28:6-9 that says that Esau, after Jacob left for Paddan Aram, went to Ishmael and took a wife from among Ishmael’s daughters. According to the chronology presented in Table 13 of FATP, Jacob left for Paddan Aram in 1930 B.C., while in Table 12, Ishmael died 13 years earlier, in 1943 B.C. Therefore Esau could not have visited Ishmael after Jacob fled. This problem would be the same for the either the Long or the Short Sojourn theories. It would be resolved if Jacob spent 40 years in Paddan Aram instead of 20, so that the 20 years of Genesis 31:38 would be added to the 20 years of verse 41 to make a total of 40 years. This was the solution of Kennicott and Smith, as summarized in Adam Clarke’s Commentary. Dr. Steinmann rightly says of this interpretation: “It is difficult—if not impossible—to interpret Gen 31:38 and 31:41 in this manner” (p. 77, note 137). Although this issue must be judged as unresolved, it does not affect the overall chronology of the patriarchs. The dates of birth and death of Jacob would remain the same whether he spent 20 years or 40 years in Paddan Aram. 


Chapter 5 deals with events in the life of Moses. Here, as elsewhere when attempting to correlate biblical history with Egyptian history, FATP refers to the chronological tables of the pharaohs found in Hornung et al., editors, Ancient Egyptian Chronology (Brill, 2006). The “low” chronology of the 18th Dynasty and earlier is favored by Hornung et al. Their dates for Tuthmosis III, 1479-1425 B.C., would make him the pharaoh of the Exodus. On p. 83 of FATP it is stated that the Egyptian “High” chronology would make Amenhotep II the pharaoh of the Exodus. A footnote says that this is favored by Douglas Petrovich (Masters Seminary Journal, 2006). Petrovich describes events in Amenhotep’s career that fit in with a departure of the Hebrews in 1446 B.C. Despite the claims of some Egyptologists, Egyptian chronology for the 20th Dynasty and earlier is by no means settled. As mentioned above, the reason that Egyptian chronology for the 21st Dynasty and later is more secure is because the reign of the first pharaoh of the 22nd Dynasty can be tied to a biblical date. The uncertainties over Egyptian chronology should not be used to discredit those places that FATP makes some connection with Egypt; Egyptian chronology is not the book’s theme.


Chapter 6 deals with the period of Joshua and the judges. The chronology of the kingdom period after the time of Saul is like a jigsaw puzzle where all the pieces fit together with hardly any latitude for adjustments. In contrast, at our present state of knowledge the chronology of Joshua and Judges is more like a room of furniture where certain combinations of furniture must always go together, but these combinations and other pieces can be moved around a bit within the constraints of the “walls.” The walls are the dates of the Conquest at one end and the start of the monarchy at the other. Most interpreters place the 20-year judgeship of Samson somewhere in the 40-year Philistine oppression, but opinions are divided on whether they should be at the beginning or end of this time. With other interpreters, Steinmann starts the 18-year oppression of the Philistines and Ammonites in trans-Jordan at the same time as the 40-year oppression of the Philistines west of the Jordan. Unique, however, is his placing Jephthah’s six-year judgeship at the start of the 18-year oppression in the east, rather than following those 18 years. This possibility is allowed by a well thought-out analysis of the Hebrew of Judges 10:8. Less plausible is the interpretation that the 18-year oppression and the judgeship of Jephthah overlapped because Jephthah did not totally defeat the Ammonites, but merely “brought them low” (the verb at the end of Judges 11:33 has this primary meaning). Furthermore, most interpreters will think it strained to suppose that Jephthah did not count the 300-year possession of the trans-Jordan region by the Reubenites and Gadites as starting from when the region was conquered in 1408 or 1407 B.C., but from when their warriors were dismissed from further warfare by Joshua in about 1400 B.C. At least Jephthah’s 300-year figure is taken seriously instead of being dismissed as a mistake, as must be done by advocates of a 13th-century Exodus. While Chapter 6 of FATP has many good principles for the interpretation of this period, the furniture will continue to be moved around.


Chapter 7 is devoted to the reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon. The reigns of Saul and David can be determined fairly accurately by measuring back from Solomon’s dates. The discussion of Chapter 3 mentioned how dates for Solomon are in agreement when calculated by three independent methods: the biblical data as tied to Assyrian and astronomical dates, the Tyrian King List, and the Jubilee cycles. Chapter 8 deals with the divided kingdom. The kingdom period ended with the capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 587 B.C., a date that is in agreement with all Scriptural sources for the period and also with Babylonian records for the years preceding and following the capture. Four tables at the end of the chapter show the consistency of biblical dates between Solomon and this date. Chapter 9 gives the chronology of the Babylonian Exile and the Persian period. A good argument is made that the first return from exile should not be dated to the same year as Cyrus’s decree, 538 B.C., because it would take more than a year for 50,000 individuals to arrange all their affairs and organize the return. Dr. Steinmann determines when counting for the Sabbatical cycles was resumed and uses this to calculate that the return was in 533 B.C. For the later Persian period, the traditional dates of 458 B.C. for Ezra’s coming to Jerusalem, and 445 for Nehemiah’s, are defended against a host of scholars who thought otherwise. Chapter 10 consists of four pages devoted to the intertestamental period. 


Chapter 11, on the birth of Christ, is one of the most interesting sections of the book. It establishes the foundation for New Testament chronology, in the same way that Chapter 3 served this function for the chronology of the First Covenant. Like Chapter 3, Chapter 11 introduces some new material. Topics covered are the chronology of the reign of Herod the Great, the timing of Christ’s birth and the visit of the Magi, and the exegetical and historical issues related to the census associated with Quirinius.


For the regnal years of Herod and the time of his death, FATP presents the scholarship of Filmer, Hoehner, and others that shows that, although Josephus missed by one year the Roman consuls who were in office when Herod was appointed as governor of Judea and when he captured Jerusalem three years later, several other lines of evidence in Josephus firmly date his appointment as governor by the Romans to 39 B.C., his capture of Jerusalem to 36 B.C., and his death at some time between the total lunar eclipse of January 10, 1 B.C., and the Passover that occurred 90 days later (the 89 days given in FATP overlooks that 1 B.C. was a leap year according to the Julian calendar that astronomers use to fix these dates). The error that placed Herod’s death in 4 B.C. is not due to Josephus, but to the confusion that arose because Herod gave administrative authority to his three sons in 4 B.C. and they all antedated their reigns to that date, rather than to Herod’s death in 1 B.C. It is then shown that, in agreement with the time given by the majority of early church writers, the Messiah was born at some time in mid- to late 3 B.C., or possibly in early 2 B.C.


By using a clue given in Luke’s gospel, the time and place of the Magis’ visit (Matthew 2:1-12) is specified in a more precise and sure manner than has been found in any previous writer, at least as far as this reviewer is aware.


The material on the Quirinius census should change forever the way this topic is dealt with by scholars. The problem is well known: Luke presumably made a mistake when he stated that Quirinius (Cyrenius) was governor of Judea when a census was taken that brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. However, it is “known” from Josephus that Quirinius did not come to Judea until A.D. 6. The approach of FATP is once again to start by examining the text. Luke does not strictly say that Quirinius was governor; the verb used means that he had governmental authority, not necessarily that he was the official governor of the province. After establishing the proper understanding of the text, Roman records are cited that are consistent with an empire-wide census taking place in 3 B.C. More significantly, Josephus gives contradictory information regarding Quirinius. He dates the coming of Quirinius to Judea just after the exile of Archelaus (A.D. 6) in Antiquities 18.1,2 (18.1.1) and 18.26 (18.2.1), but these passages also say that one of the acts after his coming was to depose the high priest Joazar from office. Joazar was installed by Herod the Great a few weeks before his (Herod’s) death in response to the golden eagle crisis, because Joazar cooperated with authorities in the matter of a census, and with Herod regarding his handling of the golden eagle incident. This made Joazar extremely unpopular with the people, and after the death of Herod they demanded that Joazar be removed from the high priesthood. This was done within a few months of Herod’s death, which means that Joazar, Quirinius, and the census are all associated together in the time shortly before the death of Herod and the time immediately thereafter, contradicting the A.D. 6 date for the coming of Quirinius to Judea. The internal contradictions of Josephus in these matters were pointed out years ago by Zahn, Lodder and other scholars, but new insights that help in unraveling the contradictory accounts of Josephus have been given by Dr. Steinmann’s colleague John Rhoads. FATP devotes 11 pages to sorting out the correct order of events and explaining why Josephus made the mistakes that he did in dating Quirinius and the census. These pages may require several readings to understand all the issues, but once this is done it is clear that the preponderance of evidence favors the enrollment associated with Quirinius to have been in 3 B.C., and perhaps continuing into early 2 B.C.


Chapter 13 and 14 present the general outline of Jesus’ ministry, starting with His baptism in A.D. 29 and culminating with the Crucifixion on Friday, April 3, A.D. 33 and the resurrection on Sunday April 5. Part of the evidence substantiating these dates is astronomical: the Crucifixion had to occur in a year when Nisan 14 fell on a Friday. Because this happened in both A.D. 33 and 30, some have placed the Crucifixion and Resurrection in A.D. 30, but this faces several difficulties, one of which is that it requires an interpretation of the 15th year of Tiberius (Luke 3:1) that finds no support in Roman literature or inscriptions.


Astronomy presents another insight related to the Crucifixion. Just as the sun was setting on April 3 of A.D. 33, there was an eclipse of the moon. The eclipsed moon arose above the horizon at 6:20 P.M., about three and one-half hours after Christ died. The first part of the moon to be seen was shadowed by the umbra, or full shadow of the earth; this, combined with the moon’s position low on the horizon means that the moon would have appeared to have a dark red color, with the portion that arose later (in the penumbra) a lighter shade of red. It should be remembered that in biblical times, any eclipse of the sun or moon was regarded as a portent. When there was a total eclipse of the moon the night after Herod put to death a leader in the golden eagle incident, it was regarded by the people as a divine judgment against Herod. The eclipse after the death of Christ had an added ominous aspect because of the unusual color of the moon not seen in most eclipses: a dark or bloody red, such as happens only when an eclipse occurs at sunset or sunrise.


FATP points out that the circumstances of this eclipse are established by purely astronomical considerations, based on the work of Humphreys and Waddington. If the darkness in the land from the sixth to the ninth hour (noon to 3 P.M.) was due to smoke or a dust storm, the residual dust or smoke would have made the reddening of the moon deeper than can be calculated by astronomical means alone. The apostle Peter took advantage of what the people had seen at the time of the Crucifixion when he said that the various phenomena, including the sun turning to darkness and the moon to blood, were signs of the ushering in of the great day of the Lord, in which anyone who calls on the name of the Lord would be saved. Dr. Steinmann is to be commended for agreeing with Peter that Joel’s prophecy was fulfilled in the events surrounding the Crucifixion and the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, in contrast to the common opinion that Joel was speaking of events related to the Second Coming.


It has long been maintained that there is a contradiction between John and the Synoptic Gospels on the question of whether the Last Supper was a Passover meal. The Synoptics definitely portray it as such, and the various features of the meal as presented in John’s Gospel are also consistent with the Passover Seder. This question is covered quite extensively (pages 273-280), where it is shown that the only text that really supports the idea that John put the Passover Seder on the day after the Last Supper is John 18:28. In this verse, John relates that the Jews wanted to avoid being defiled by entering Pilate’s palace, thus preventing them from eating the Passover. The usual explanations of this seeming contradiction are that either John or the Synoptic writers were mistaken in their timing of events, or that Jesus and the disciples were observing a different calendar than the official calendar of the high priests (several variations of this last view have been published).


FATP follows the interpretation of John Hamilton (Churchman, 1992), who maintained that the priests and their associates had not yet eaten the Passover because of their activities during the night. The priests were busy into the night hours assisting in the slaying of lambs for the great number of pilgrims present in Jerusalem at Passover time, so that their own participation in the Passover Seder was delayed by some hours.


During this time, Judas unexpectedly came to them. Although organizing the mob to arrest Jesus may not have taken long, the necessary diplomacy to obtain Pilate’s agreement to a trial in the middle of the night would have required the meticulous attention of Annas and Caiaphas and their associates in the Sanhedrin. After Pilate gave his consent, there was the delay caused by the disagreement among the hostile witnesses (Mark 14:55-59) while the rulers were attempting, against all ethical judicial practice, to decide what charge to bring against Jesus. The meeting with Pilate was finally accomplished, but the Roman governor introduced more delays, first by sending Jesus to Herod, then by his argument over the nature of their charges against Jesus. When Pilate finally capitulated, it was the “about the sixth hour” (John 19:14), that is, about sunrise according to the Roman reckoning of hours that John uses throughout his Gospel. Jesus’ accusers had failed to expedite their plans in time to eat the Passover before daybreak, as required by Exodus 12:8-10, and they therefore were to bear their sin and be cut off from the holy nation (Numbers 9:13). This explanation adds additional drama to the tensions in the trial of Jesus. It also offers a better understanding of John 18:28 than is provided by the different-calendar theories. 


Chapter 14 gives a thorough coverage of the time from Pentecost to the end of Paul’s ministry, where once again the best of current and past scholarship is summarized to present a consistent chronology for the period. This also characterizes the whole book, so that if only one resource dealing with biblical chronology is acquired, it should be FATP. Although very few readers will agree with every detail, critics who have a difference of opinion in one area should not use that to discredit the general value of this work: it represents the finest synthesis that has been produced in over 2000 years of attempting to understand the chronological texts of the Bible. The book also makes a theological statement, showing that the inductive method that takes the biblical texts at face value has led to a coherent history of the period covered. This has never been achieved by the popular redaction criticism that is the bane of biblical scholarship. As a summary statement it would be hard to improve on the evaluation of Eugene Merrill:


Steinmann lays out here a foundation that doubtless will provide the basis for all subsequent discussions of biblical chronology, an indispensable preliminary to a proper understanding of the biblical narrative.


Rodger C. Young received a BA degree in physics from Reed College, Portland OR, and BA and MA degrees in mathematics from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. In addition, he has done graduate work in theology and Biblical languages at Nazarene Theological Seminary, Kansas City, MO. Mr. Young has worked as a computer application developer and systems analyst at Monsanto and IBM. Following his retirement in 2003 he has devoted himself to the study of Biblical chronology and has authored a number of articles on that subject. His extensive work on Biblical Chronology can be found on his website at:

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7/19/2012 9:30 AM #

Using the Tyrian chronology from Josephus to verify that construction of Solomon's Temple began in 967 BCE is open to dispute, and that 967 BCE date for the start of construction can be shown to be incorrect based on information contained in ancient Jewish documents that preserve better chronological details about Solomon's Temple than those found in Josephus. The Babylonian Talmud (Tractate Yoma 9a) says that Solomon’s Temple operated for 410 years until it was destroyed by the Babylonians. Academic history says that Solomon’s Temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar II in 586 BCE. Simple math reveals that 586 BCE + 410 years gives the year 996 BCE as the year for the completion of Solomon's Temple. Since it took seven years to build the Temple, that means construction was begun in the year 1002 BCE. The Jewish book of chronology, the Seder Olam, confirms the chronology recorded about the Temple in the Babylonian Talmud, saying that from the completion of Solomon’s Temple until the renovation of the Temple by Joash of Judah were 155 years, then from Joash’s renovations until Josiah’s renovations in his 18th regnal year were 218 years. From the Bible we know that from Josiah’s 18th regnal year, which can be verified as the year 622 BCE, until the destruction of Solomon’s Temple in 586 BCE there were 36-plus years. Again, doing simple math, 155 years + 218 years + 36-plus years = 409/410 years, which confirms the rounded-off figure of 410 years from the Babylonian Talmud. The traditional dates for the kings of Judah and Israel based on the work of Edwin Thiele, dates which are found in just about every recent study Bible and Bible commentary, incorporate the incorrect date 967 BCE for the start of construction of Solomon's Temple. The resultant harmonization of the reigns of the Hebrew kings is thus shoe-horned to fit into a time period that is about 30 years too short. The only way that will work is to disregard some of the biblical text (Thiele assumed scribal error in 2 Kings 17 and 18) and to propose ridiculously long co-reigns not supported by the biblical text. However, when the correct date 996 BCE is used, harmonization of the reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah is easily achieved exactly as given in the Bible without having to disregard or assume scribal error in the biblical text, nor assume long co-reigns not mentioned in the biblical text.

Dan Bruce - 7/19/2012 9:30:20 AM

7/19/2012 10:48 AM #

The synoptic gospels indicate that the "last supper" was a Passover meal, and those references have been interpreted by some to mean that it was the Passover Seder during which the Paschal lamb was eaten and the Exodus from Egypt was recalled. However, there is no mention of a lamb being eaten at the supper in the upper room. On the other hand, the Book of John specifically says that the trial of Jesus took place before Pilate on the Day of Preparation for the Passover (John 19:14), which means that the supper in the upper room could not have been the Passover Seder, which was observed by the Jewish authorities after the trials and curcifixion. So, which is correct, was the “last supper” a Passover Seder, as the synoptic gospels seem to indicate, or not? With the correct chronology of the Passion Week at hand, the answer is easy to see. Let me explain. The synoptic gospels follow one calendar, the Book of John follows another. In the synoptics, the day begins at sunset. In John, the day begins at sunrise. That means that there is a twelve-hour offset between the days. Some have speculated that the synoptics were following the Pharasean calendar, whereas John was aligned with the Sadducean (priestly) calendar. In the synoptics, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is also called “the Passover” (Luke 22:1), is observed on the evening of the 14th day of Nisan as prescribed by Exodus 12:18. This “Passover” meal (i.e., the first meal of the Feast of Unleavened Bread) coincides with the day of preparation for the Passover mentioned in John, the day before the Paschal lamb was slain (Mark 14:12). When all of this is plotted out graphically, it can be seen that the “last supper” in the upper room was eaten on the day before the main Passover meal featuring the eating of the Paschal lamb. The Passover meal featuring the eating of the Paschal lamb was eaten on the evening following the “last supper,” after the crucifixion and while Jesus was in the tomb. Jesus thus did not change or set aside the observance of the traditional Passover as commanded for Jews in the Law. However, his actions and words did give additional meaning to the Passover Seder for those who would be under the new covenant. Jesus’ command to his disciples during the “last supper” to “this do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19), referring to the eating of unleavened bread symbolic of his body uncontaminated by the commission of sin and the drinking of wine symbolic of his blood shed for remission of the sins of those under the new covenant being instituted by his death and resurrection (Matthew 26:29, Luke 22:20), forever after brought the Passover Seder to its full new covenant meaning. Many Jewish followers of Yeshua (Jesus) observe the fulfilled Passover in their Seder each year. It should also be noted that the crucifixion took place on a Thursday, not a Friday, durinf Passover Week in the year 30 CE, not 33 CE.

Dan Bruce - 7/19/2012 10:48:43 AM

7/19/2012 12:54 PM #

There are two Scripture passages that together reveal the length of the sojourn of the Children of Israel in Egypt as 430 years. Genesis 15:13 says “And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land [that is] not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years” (KJV). In that verse, God says that the oppression of the Children of Israel would span a period of 400 years. Then there is Psalm 105:12-15a, which says “When they were [but] a few men in number; yea, very few, and strangers in it. When they went from one nation to another, from [one] kingdom to another people, He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes; [Saying], Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm …” (KJV). That latter verse from Psalm 105 would seem to indicate that there was no oppression of the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob) by anyone, including the pharaohs of Egypt, during their time in Canaan or Egypt. Thus, the 400 years of oppression must be applied after the death of Jacob aka Israel, which means that the sojourn of the Children of Israel in Egypt was 430 years. Either that, or the Bible is incorrect, which I believe is impossible.

Dan Bruce - 7/19/2012 12:54:51 PM

7/21/2012 5:43 PM #

Greetings Dan,
In response to the first of your three entries above: your chronology relies on chronological statements in the Seder Olam (2nd century A.D.). You accept what the Seder Olam without any critical analysis of its trustworthiness. In a response to similar statements that you made back in 2010, I wrote the following to you in a private memo of July 29, 2010:

The Seder Olam is an important document and it preserves some useful information from the history of Israel, but it must be used with care. For example, it should be understood that for the chronology of the kingdom period, it derives its overall lengths of time by counting the reigns of the kings of Judah in a non-accession sense, and then just adding them all up; this is how it gets its figure of 850 years from the entry into the land to the destruction of Jerusalem. Virtually no one, yourself included, would think that this is the proper way to establish the chronology of the kingdom period.

You have never answered this in our private correspondence. That is, you have never given any reason why we should trust the Seder Olam’s chronology for the kingdom period over that of later scholarship. It is not enough to say, “Using the Tyrian chronology from Josephus to verify that construction of Solomon's Temple began in 967 BCE is open to dispute” and then go on to cite the chronology of the Seder Olam as if that is an authority that is not open to dispute and therefore settles the question.

If the argument regarding the Tyrian data is wrong, then the proper course would be to show why it is wrong. Show why J. Liver, F. M. Cross Jr., William Barnes, Valerius Coucke, and myself have all made errors in using the Tyrian data to date the construction of Solomon’s temple. Notice that Coucke’s work, that arrived at the spring of 967 B.C. for this date, is absolutely, and I mean absolutely, independent of the work of these other scholars who arrived at the same date; these later scholars were not aware of Coucke’s publications (in French, in the 1920s). In my own writing, I was not aware of the Tyrian data when I wrote my first article on the date of Solomon’s death as derived from the biblical data, yet I deduced from the biblical data that the date of start of construction on the Temple can be dated to exactly the spring of 987 B.C., in agreement with the date that I later found that other scholars had calculated, but starting from non-biblical sources. As I said in my 2010 memo to you:

If there’s any one of my papers that I would recommend for your reading, it is “Three Verifications of Thiele’s Date for the Beginning of the Divided Kingdom.” Let me know if you find any flaw in my thesis: the three different ways of determining this date are fundamentally independent, and so their combined testimony is evidence of the highest order that Thiele’s date for this event must be accepted by all serious historians.

As I pointed out just above and in my review of Dr. Steinmann’s book, the Seder Olam has a very simplistic way of reckoning the chronology of the kingdom period. If you can give us any reason why we should trust the Seder Olam in its kingdom-period chronology, then you ought to separate out this part of your system and submit your reasoning to a peer-reviewed journal. Then we could properly evaluate your argument. Until you can do that, you will not have any credibility with those of us who are aware of the issues involved, or even with the general public. Also—let me repeat—the proper way to answer the thesis of my “Three Verifications” article is to show that the three methods delineated there for calculating that construction began on Solomon’s temple are not independent. If they are independent, this establishes the dates of Solomon as the most secure of any historical dates in the 10th century B.C. or earlier, for any country.

The “Three Verifications” article, along with my other papers, is available on my Web site.

You also say that the “967 BCE date for the start of construction can be shown to be incorrect based on information contained in ancient Jewish documents that preserve better chronological details about Solomon's Temple than those found in Josephus. The Babylonian Talmud (Tractate Yoma 9a) says . . .”
The chronology of the Babylonian Talmud is basically taken from the Seder Olam, so these sources are not independent. Note: it is not a mark of scholarly objectivity to use BCE and CE rather than BC and AD. Let’s use the more Christ-honoring terms BC and AD unless the journal we’re writing for insists otherwise.

You also write, “Academic history says that Solomon’s Temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar II in 586 BCE.” The correct date is 587 B.C. The sentence itself contradicts your claim that your chronology is based only on the Bible. We all have to tie the Bible’s chronology to the BC/AD calendar somewhere, and you do this by accepting a wrong date from “academic history” and add to that incorrect computations from the Seder Olam.

Dan, you have some good things to say in your studies of Daniel’s prophecies, where you build on the old works of Bishop Newton and Adam Clarke regarding the interpretation of Daniel ch. 8. Your interpretations and viewpoints here do not depend on a wrong chronology of the reign of Solomon or the Hebrew kingdom period. But your comments on the chronology of the kingdom period will only introduce confusion for those who are not aware of the solid scholarship that has established the dates that we can now be quite certain of for this time. These dates have won the respect of Assyriologists and Egyptologists. I mention in my review how the dates of Egypt’s 21st and 22nd Dynasties are now based on the biblical chronology; also how Assyriologists have had to change their dates based on the biblically-based work of Thiele and those who followed him. Andrew Steinmann and I are even attempting to get published an article that says that classical scholars can derive the date for the fall of Troy in the Trojan War by starting from a biblical text. These are major gains that have given credibility to the Bible’s chronology as historically trustworthy, so much so that scholars from other disciplines have recognized the Bible’s importance in establishing chronology in their own fields of study. It works counter to all these solid gains when we have people claiming that theirs (or Ussher’s) is the only biblical chronology or theirs is derived from the “Bible only.” They then denigrate the work of Thiele by the false statement that his work was just an accomodation of the Bible to Assyrian data. Anyone who continues to say this either has not read the relevant works in Thiele and elsewhere, or has not devoted the time to understand those works.

Yours sincerely,
Rodger C. Young

Rodger C. Young - 7/21/2012 5:43:12 PM

7/21/2012 6:24 PM #

DB>> “there is no mention of a lamb being eaten at the supper in the upper room.”

RCY: An argument from silence. There is no mention of the meat eaten. Are we then to conclude that there was no meat at the meal?

DB>> “On the other hand, the Book of John specifically says that the trial of Jesus took place before Pilate on the Day of Preparation for the Passover (John 19:14), which means that the supper in the upper room could not have been the Passover Seder”

RCY: The meaning of John 19:14, regarding the Day of Preparation of the Passover, is dealt with at length in FATP, pp. 275-279. Please read these pages. Here as in many other texts dealing with chronology, it is essential to understand the original language in which the text was written, or, lacking this capability, to consult a good resource that analyzes the original language for you. John 19:14 does not say the “Day of Preparation for the Passover,” but “the Day of Preparation of the Passover,” i.e. the Friday of Passover week (“Day of Preparation” is the common biblical phrase for a Friday). The discussion in FATP is very thorough on this. This interpretation of John 19:14 is also given by John Hamilton. It was Friday of the Passover week.

The other text that is cited to support the idea that John placed the official Passover Seder one day later than the Last Supper is John 18:28. As I mentioned in the review, there are many varieties of opinion (yours included) that state that this means the disciples were observing a different calendar than the Jewish leaders. In addition to the arguments given in FATP against these theories, as summarized in my review, there is one additional argument that is not mentioned in either FATP or in my review. It is the following. These various theories assume that the Jewish officials did not want to enter the Praetorium because they were looking forward to eating the Passover Seder at the end of the coming day, i.e. just after sunset on the day of the Crucifixion. John Hamilton reminds us that A. Edersheim pointed out long ago that being defiled somehow in the Praetorium would not have prevented anyone from eating the Passover on the following evening. Leviticus ch. 11 describes various means by which a person could be defiled. The person so defiled was considered impure only until evening. After that they would be pure. So even if the high priests and their associates were defiled by entering the Praetorium, that defilement would not have prevented them from eating the Passover in the following evening. This argument applies to all theories that maintain that the high priests and their associates were looking forward to a Passover Seder some 12 hours after Jesus was condemned. The alternative is clear: they were trying to get a judgment from Pilate before sunrise, so they could hastily return home and eat the Passover before daybreak and thus not suffer the condemnation of Numbers 9:13.

Rodger C. Young

Rodger C. Young - 7/21/2012 6:24:55 PM

7/22/2012 4:43 PM #

Rodger, a few words about the start of Jesus' ministry in 28CE and the crucifixion in 30 CE. I didn't just pick those dates out of the air. The prophecy of the “seventy weeks” in Daniel, chapter 9, verses 24-27, can be used to show that the ministry of Jesus began in 28 CE, then by using the three Passovers mentioned in the Gospel of John to indicate the length of Jesus' ministry (one Passover in 28 CE, one in 29 CE, and one in 30 CE), the crucifixion can be located as occurring during the Passover week in the year 30 CE.

Of course, the challenge for correctly interpreting the prophecy of the seventy weeks has always been to locate the "weeks" in history. The Bible in Daniel 9:25 says that the “seventy weeks” are to start after a decree to restore Jerusalem to an anointed one, who is also a prince. Traditional exposition have interpreted the reference to a “decree” as referring to a decree by a Persian king, and that the “seventy weeks” is a way of saying 490 years (a week being seven years). Both assumptions are incorrect, and using either leads to an incorrect interpretation of Daniel 9.

The correct decree, and the only one that meets all of the biblical specifications in verse 25, is one issued by Julius Caesar just before his assassination on the Ides of March in the year 44 BCE, ratified by the Roman Senate soon after his death, and recorded in Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 14.10.5 (Whiston translation), as follows:

Gaius Caesar, consul the fifth time [in 44 BCE], hath decreed, That the Jews shall possess Jerusalem, and may encompass that city with walls; and that Hyrcanus, the son of Alexander, the high priest and ethnarch of the Jews, retain it in the manner he himself pleases; and that the Jews be allowed to deduct out of their tribute, every second year the land is let [in the Sabbatic period], a corus of that tribute; and that the tribute they pay be not let to farm, nor that they pay always the same tribute.

When that decree by Caesar is used as the starting point, it is easy to interpret Daniel, chapter 9, correctly, especially when one understands that "weeks" is referring to the annual Feast of Weeks festival (Daniel used Jewish festivals as chronological markers in chapters 8, 9, and 12), meaning that the 70 weeks is essentially 70 years (70 Feasts of Weeks), not 490 years.

The 70 weeks are divided into three divisions of 7 weeks, 62 weeks, and 1 week.

The seven weeks are used to locate the prophecy in time. The seven-week division began sometime after the decree was given in 44 BCE (and after the wall referred to in Daniel 9:25 had been rebuilt in 43 BCE), and it coincided with the 7-year sabbath cycle that began in 42 BCE and ended in 36 BCE. Most expositions are vague about the seven-week division or just lump it in with the 62 weeks, but it is importasnt on its and and is used to locate the prophecy in time. The 62-week division ran from 35 BCE to 27 CE. The final week of the 70 weeks concluded when the Feast of Weeks ended on the Day of Pentecost in 28 CE.

I realize this is a new way of looking at the prophecy of the "seventy weeks," but it fits the biblical requirements exactly both chronologically and theologically. The above synopsis is all too brief, but I have explained the interpretation of the "seventy weeks" in detail in Chapters Six and Seven of my book, "Lifting the Veil on the Book of Daniel," and both chapters can be read (for free) beginning at for anyone interested in understanding the prophecy and its application to Jesus' ministry.

Dan Bruce - 7/22/2012 4:43:29 PM

7/22/2012 4:53 PM #

Rodger, if, in contrast to what you call "various theories", the Jewish officials were not afraid of being defiled so that they could not eat the Passover, I wonder why the Book of John, chapter 18, verse 28 says quite clearly: "Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover" (KJV). Sorry, I have to take the Bible at face value on this one.

Dan Bruce - 7/22/2012 4:53:26 PM

9/18/2012 8:17 PM #

I purchased and read a copy of Andrew Steinmann’s book From Abraham to Paul (FATP) about six months ago.  I have also read most of Rodger Young’s published papers and John Rhoads’ paper about the census of Quirinius.

I am very thankful for the papers and books that the three of you have published over the years.  They have been very helpful to me.

There are a few points, though, where I’m not in full agreement with the ideas in FATP.  One of them is the proposal about the Last Supper that appears on pages 273-280.

I would like to recommend a relatively new book that has the goal of completely resolving the issues surrounding the Last Supper.  It is:

Humphreys, Colin J. The Mystery of the Last Supper: Reconstructing the Final Days of Jesus. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

After reading the book by Colin Humphreys, I am convinced that there are significant shortcomings in Andrew Steinmann’s proposal regarding the Last Supper.

In this book, as in his previously published works, Colin Humphreys collaborates with an astrophysicist by the name of Graeme Waddington.

In the last chapter, Colin Humphreys writes:
This is not a devotional book, but at times as I was writing it I felt caught up in a most wonderful story. When we understand these final days of Jesus better, we see an even bigger picture than before.

The solution given in this book is as follows.

1) John places the last supper, the trials and the crucifixion of Jesus all before the official Jewish Passover meal. In John’s account, Jesus died at the time the first Passover lambs were slain, at about 3 p.m. on the fourteenth day of the Jewish month Nisan.
2) In Matthew, Mark and Luke (the synoptic gospels), the last supper is a Passover meal. Jesus was therefore crucified after this Passover meal, on Nisan 15. Hence John and the synoptic gospels apparently disagree not only on whether the last supper was a Passover meal or not, but also on the date of the crucifixion.
3) The solution to the above problems given in this book is that, in their description of the last supper as a Passover meal, Matthew, Mark and Luke were using a different calendar to John. This book also identifies the different calendars used.
4) John was using the official Jewish calendar, the one used by the priests of the temple in Jerusalem in the first century AD. This calendar was a lunar calendar with a sunset-to-sunset day. In this calendar the Passover lamb was slain on Nisan 14, in the afternoon, and the Passover meal was eaten after sunset, the day then being Nisan 15.
5) In their description of the last supper, Matthew, Mark and Luke were using a different lunar calendar, one having a sunrise-to-sunrise day. In this calendar, both the sacrifice of the Passover lamb and the eating of the Passover meal were on Nisan 14. Nisan 14 in this calendar was before Nisan 14 in the official Jewish calendar.
7) Using a different calendar theory, all four gospels agree on the date and nature of the last supper. The last supper was a real Passover meal according to the calendar used by the synoptic gospels. However, the Passover meal in this calendar was eaten before that in the official calendar, hence John was correct in saying that the last supper was before the official Passover meal.  All four gospels also now agree on the date of the crucifixion.  It was on Nisan 14 in the official Jewish calendar, Jesus dying at 3 p.m. when the first Passover lambs were slain (John and also Paul).
13) With the aid of an astrophysicist I have reconstructed both the official Jewish calendar and the pre-exilic Jewish calendar for the first century AD. Passover in the pre-exilic Jewish calendar was always a few days before Passover in the official calendar.
14) From these calendar reconstructions we can identify the date of the crucifixion as Friday, April 3, AD 33, and the date of the last supper as Wednesday, April 1, AD 33.

Paul - 9/18/2012 8:17:24 PM

9/20/2012 4:59 PM #

Greetings Paul,

Thank you for your comments about the Passover question and my published articles. Like you, I have great respect for the team of Humphreys and Waddington in giving us understanding from the scientific field of events related to the life of our Lord. In FATP, you will have noticed the summary of their investigation of the lunar eclipse that appeared at sunset after the Savior of mankind died in fulfillment of the prophecies of the death of the Messiah found in Isaiah 53:5,7,8,9,10, and 12. Humphreys and Waddington showed that by astronomical calculation, combined with a knowledge of atmospheric  optics, the umbral part of the moon would have been a dark, blood-red color, while the penumbral part that appeared later would have been of a lighter red hue. No one who knows about the way the ancients view eclipses could doubt that this must have had a tremendous effect on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, especially since they had experienced a darkening of the sun for three hours, plus an earthquake, on the same day.

We cannot prove from science that the sun was darkened on Crucifixion Day. Neither can we verify that an earthquake occurred on exactly that day. You may have noticed that a few months ago someone published a study of the varves of the Dead Sea that gave evidence of an earthquake in the region sometime about AD 33. But notice the way the secular press handled this: it was maintained that although there was an earthquake, it probably was not at the time of the Crucifixion (no evidence was given for this statement); instead, early Christians “moved” the time of the earthquake, whenever it was, to the time of the Crucifixion. I trust we can all see the anti-Biblical and anti-God bias in the kind of “scientific” reports that appear from time to time dealing with sacred history.

But you can’t move the time of the eclipse. Nor can the impression it made on the people be minimized. That is what Peter took advantage of on the Day of Pentecost, when he stated that the sun turning to darkness, and the moon to blood, plus the outpouring of the Spirit of God that his hearers were seeing and hearing, were signs of the advent of the times of the Messiah, when whoever called on His (the Messiah’s) name would be saved.

In his sermon and warning to the people, Peter claimed that these events were the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32. Most of his hearers would have been familiar with this prophecy. Those who took it to heart and did not find some excuse to reject it experienced the promised salvation on that day. Those who tried to rationalize it away were left in their sins, having rejected the only plan that God had then, or now, for the forgiveness of those sins.

In our day there will be some who maintain that it was just a coincidence that there was a lunar eclipse, and one of this unusual type, associated with the death of the Messiah. But in addition to the “strangeness” of an eclipse at just this time, we have the phenomenon that it was predicted far in advance by one of God’s spokesmen, Joel  ben Pethuel.  This is in keeping with the theme of the latest issue of Bible and Spade, which I received in the mail today: predictive prophecy, as found in the Bible, has always been a stumbling block to those who do not want to see the hand of God in anything, much less in their private lives.

This digression was to let you know how much I appreciate the work of Humphreys and Waddington. However, I cannot agree with their interpretation of the supposed difference between John and the Synoptics regarding the calendar being used for the observation of the Last Supper for one simple reason: according to Leviticus 11:28, 31, 32, 39, 40, 15:5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23, 27, ritual uncleanness only lasted until sunset on the day that the uncleanness happened.   If John and the Jewish leaders were observing a calendar that put the Crucifixion before the eating of the Passover Lamb, then entering the praetorium before, or even shortly after, daybreak on the day of the Crucifixion would not have prevented them from eating the Passover after sundown on that day, as would have been the case under the thesis of the book by Humphreys and Waddington.  There is no such problem with the explanation of John 18:28 given by John Hamilton. For that reason, I believe that Rev.Hamilton’s interpretation  is entirely consistent with John 18:28, while all of those that maintain that John and the Synoptics were using a different calendar are not consistent with that verse.

Yours sincerely,
Rodger C. Young

Rodger C. Young - 9/20/2012 4:59:30 PM

9/20/2012 7:06 PM #


Thank you for your reply.

It sounds like you have already read Colin Humphreys’ book entitled The Mystery of the Last Supper: Reconstructing the Final Days of Jesus.  Is that correct?

I (Paul) would like to explain in more detail why I think that there are significant shortcomings in Andrew Steinmann’s proposal regarding the Last Supper.

Colin J. Humphreys writes (on pages 127, 129-30 in his book The Mystery of the Last Supper):
(Pages 129-30)
At first sight the Old Testament seems curiously confused about the dates of the Passover Feast and the related seven-day Feast of  Unleavened Bread (the Passover Feast being the first meal in the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread).  According to the book of Exodus, the Feast of Unleavened Bread started on the fourteenth day of the first month (Exodus 12:17–19). However, Leviticus and Numbers have the Feast starting on the fifteenth day of the first month (Leviticus 23:6 and Numbers 28:17), whereas in Ezekiel it is back on the fourteenth day (Ezekiel 45:21).

A key question is why the date of the Passover meal and the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread changes on going from Exodus to Leviticus and Numbers. This would not have been a minor matter for the Israelites because the book of Exodus instructs that the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover meal was eaten, should be celebrated on a particular day, because it commemorated ‘the very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt’ (Exodus 12:17) and yet the date was apparently changed by one day after this clear instruction was given.

This change of the date of the Passover meal and of the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, from the fourteenth to the fifteenth day of the first month, is really quite extraordinary. Imagine being born on the fourteenth day of a certain month and then, after a period of years, changing your birthday celebration to the fifteenth day. You would not do this without an extremely good reason. The Passover meal is of much greater historical significance than any individual’s birthday. It commemorated a new era for the Israelites, which started on a particular day in history. There must have been a compelling reason for the Israelites to change the date of this annual celebratory feast by one day.

(Page 127)
I (Colin Humphreys) have already suggested the solution. The pre-exilic calendar had a morning-to-morning day. When the calendar changed to an evening-to-evening day it became necessary to transfer the feasts from the old to the new calendar. In the pre-exilic calendar used in Exodus 12, with its morning-to-morning day, the Passover lambs were slain ‘between the two evenings’ on day 14 and the roasting of the lambs and the eating of the Passover meal followed later that night, which was still part of day 14. But when the same events were transferred to the post-exilic Jewish calendar, with its evening-to-evening day, the Passover meal which was eaten in the evening/night was necessarily held on Nisan 15, because Nisan 15 commenced at sunset. By the time of Jesus, the killing of the lambs had been advanced to 3 p.m., because of the large number to be slain. Thus in the official Jewish calendar at the time of Christ the slaughter was on Nisan 14, and the Passover meal was on Nisan 15, which was also now the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It is therefore clear how the date of the Passover meal transferred from one calendar to the other and we have a consistent explanation that fits the different dates of the Passover meal, and the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, in the pre-exilic Jewish calendar and in the official Jewish calendar in the first century AD.

  (Page 130)
I (Colin Humphreys) [therefore] suggest there is no discrepancy between the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Ezekiel over the date of the Passover meal, eaten on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. There was simply a change of calendars. Exodus and Ezekiel use the pre-exilic calendar, with its morning-to-morning day. Leviticus and Numbers use the later post-exilic calendar, based on the Babylonian calendar, with its evening-to-evening day.

If Humphreys is right, then there is no way that Jesus could have celebrated an official Passover meal with his disciples on Thursday evening at the beginning of Nisan 14 in the official first century Jewish calendar as suggested by Andrew Steinmann.  The reason is that the lambs were not scheduled to be slain until Friday afternoon as the day of Nisan 14 was drawing to an end and the next day was about to start (in the evening).  If Jesus and disciples celebrated a Passover-style meal on Thursday evening at the beginning of the day on Nisan 14 rather than at the end of the day on Nisan 14 and beginning of the day on Nisan 15, then they were not following the instructions that are given in the Old Testament.  I think that is very unlikely that Jesus would have disregarded the instructions that are given in the Old Testament.

I think that these considerations are very damaging to Andrew Steinmann’s theory about the Last Supper.

I have a question.  If you reject the idea of different calendars (i.e. pre-exilic and post-exilic that are posited in the book by Humphreys), then how do you explain the apparent differences between Exodus 12:17–19, Leviticus 23:6, Numbers 28:17, and Ezekiel 45:21?



Paul - 9/20/2012 7:06:43 PM

9/20/2012 10:21 PM #


This comment is in reference to John 18:28.

I’m not convinced that the uncleanness that would have resulted from entering the Praetorium was the type that would have lasted only until the evening.

I strongly suspect (but cannot prove) that the controlling passage in the Old Testament law is the passage Numbers 19:11-21.

Please see footnote #65 in The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.
It is possible to preview this book at:

65. … There is more to be said for John’s position than Barrett will allow. It is true that some forms of uncleanness lasted only until evening, but in other cases, specifically that due to contact with a dead body, it lasted for seven days (Num. 19:11). This was so even without physical contact. Anyone who entered a tent in which a man had died was expressly said to be unclean for seven days (Num. 19:14). Now the reason that the houses of Gentiles were regarded as conveying uncleanness was that the Gentiles were thought to throw abortions down the drains (SBk. II. p. 839; Danby, p. 675, n. 10) Thus it was the defilement connected with the dead, and hence a seven-day defilement, that the houses of the Gentiles conveyed. Richardson holds that the Jews simply “wished to avoid having to undergo the necessary rites of purification.” But this is assumption; it is not what John says. MiM holds that the priests had had their Passover slain, but that the events of the night had prevented them from eating it. They must eat it almost immediately in order to do so before daybreak, hence they could not afford a defilement that would last until evening. There is a good deal that is conjectural in this. But in any case the hypothesis is unnecessary once we have seen that the uncleanness in question lasted seven days. Jesus’ enemies were being careful to avoid a ceremonial defilement that would have compelled them to postpone their eating of the Passover for a month. See further SFG, pp. 192ff.



Paul - 9/20/2012 10:21:52 PM

9/21/2012 11:27 PM #


I see another problem with Andrew Steinmann’s theory about the Passover and the Last Supper now.

My understanding is that Andrew Steinmann is arguing that the events in John 18:28, Matthew 27:11, and Mark 15:1 took place before daybreak.  This is so that he can argue that the Passover meal was to be finished before daybreak on Friday morning.  He writes on page 278, “As for the notice of John 18:28, it does not mean that the following day was the Passover.  Note that two of the three Synoptic Gospels as well as John state that Jesus was brought to Pilate early in the morning at the end [of the] fourth watch of the night, that is, after 4:30 am.”

But I think that Luke’s gospel deals a very damaging blow to this theory.

Luke 22:66 – 23:1 (NIV) says:
Luke 22:66
At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. 67 “If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.”
Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, 68 and if I asked you, you would not answer. 69 But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”
70 They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”  He replied, “You say that I am.”
71 Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”

Luke 23:1
Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate.
I believe that Luke 23:1 and John 18:28 are descriptions of the same events.

According to Luke’s gospel, the chief priests and the teachers of the law took Jesus to Pilate after daybreak on Friday morning.  I think that means that the events in John 18:28 also took place after daybreak.  Therefore, I think it follows more or less unavoidably that the Passover meal that chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking forward to in John 18:28 was a Passover meal that was scheduled for later in the evening on Friday (by our way of reckoning days) or the beginning of Saturday (by the Jewish sunset-to-sunset reckoning).

This makes sense because Friday was Nisan 14 and Leviticus 23:6 tells us that, “On the fifteenth day of that month the Lord’s Feast of Unleavened Bread begins;”

As I mentioned in a previous post, I strongly suspect that the uncleanness that is referred to in John 18:28 was an uncleanness that would have lasted for seven days rather than just until the next evening.  I strongly suspect that the controlling passage in the Old Testament is Numbers 19:11-21.  Please see pages 675-676 in “The Gospel According to John” by Leon Morris.  It can be found online at

If it is true that the uncleanness that is referred to in John 18:28 was an uncleanness that would have lasted seven days, then this verse is not a problem for the interpretation/resolution that appears in the book The Mystery of the Last Supper by Colin Humphreys.



Paul - 9/21/2012 11:27:09 PM

9/25/2012 12:30 PM #

All modern chronologies (Thiele, Young, Steinmann, etc.) can make the chronology of the Hebrew kings synshronize with one another by disregarding some of the Bible, or by proposing irrationally long co-reigns not supported in the biblical text or any other source. In the case of Thiele, he dismisses as innacurate the chronological details in 2 Kings 17 and 18 to make his system work, a afct admitted in the conclusion of his book.

I contend that disregarding any of the Bible is unnecessary. I believe that modern scholars have created error in the chronology of the chronology of the Hebrew kings by making the biblical chronology conform to an incorrect Assyrian chronology based on a Rawlinson's misinterpretaion of the date for the Bur Sagale eclipse, which he determined happened in 763 BCE, and to Champollion's misattribution of the Karnak relief of Shoshenq I as a description of the campaign of Shishak against Rehoboam in 925 BCE. I believe that the Bur Sagale eclipse occurred in 791 BCE (the eclipse that year, as confirmed by NASA records, fits the AEC equally as well as the 763 BCE eclipse), and I believe that Shoshenq I led the invasion of Judah against Rehoboam in 961 BCE as the commander of pharaoh Siamun's army, not in 925 BCE as pharoah (the biblical reference to Shishak as king of Egypt thus being an anachronism). Unfortunately, this forum is much too limited a platform in which to discuss my proposals that exactly synchronize the reigns of the Hebrew kings with one another and with the reigns of the kings of Egypt and Assyria.

I have published two books (totaling 384 pages) that explain my chronology in detail. It is difficult to do justice to my proposal with any less. In my books, the date for the beginning of the divided kingdoms is anchored by the Bible only, not by secular Assyrian chronology as are the chronologies of Thiele, Young, and Steinmann. If anyone is interested in reading my two books, they are available for free online at .

And, I do realize that it is rather cheeky of me, a nobody in academic circles, to say that such distinguished scholars (and I mean that sincerely) as Jean-Francois Champollion, Sir Henry Rawlinson, George Smith, Edwin Thiele, Rodger Young, and Andrew Steinmann have misinterpreted Hebrew/Assyrian/Egyptian chronologies, but that is what I am saying. I believe that I have made a good case in my books to back up my proposition that all three chronologies can be synchronized without having to disregard the biblical text or introduce the possibility of error in its chronological details.

As for my use of the Seder Olam, I use it for confirmation of chronology derived from the biblical text, not for generating chronology. Jewish sources do contain some accurate information that should not be ignored, imo.

Dan Bruce - 9/25/2012 12:30:08 PM

9/25/2012 1:36 PM #

Greetings Paul,

I would characterize your objections to John Hamilton’s explanation of John 18:28 as falling into 3 categories:
1.  You write, “My understanding is that Andrew Steinmann is arguing that the events in John 18:28, Matthew 27:11, and Mark 15:1 took place before daybreak . . . But I think that Luke’s gospel deals a very damaging blow to this theory.” You then cite Luke 22:66 and 23:1 as evidence that daybreak had already occurred, so that there was no rush to get a sentence from Pilate before daybreak, as required in Hamilton’s exposition.
2.  Regarding the defilement that would have come about for entering the praetorium, you write, “I strongly suspect that that the controlling passage in the Old Testament is Numbers 19:11-21,” recommending that I read “The Gospel of John” by Leon Morris, pp. 675-76. Numbers 19:11-21 deals with defilements that last 7 days, whereas the passages I cited earlier in Lev. 11 and 15 deal with defilements that last only till sundown of the day in which the defilement occurred. If the defilement lasted 7 days then the high priests and their associates could not have eaten the Passover after sundown of the Crucifixion Day, assuming (with Humphreys) that Jesus and the disciples were observing a calendar that put the Passover Seder earlier than in the official calendar.
3.  In support of the idea of different calendars, Humphreys asserts that there are contradictions within the Pentateuch itself regarding when the Passover Seder was to be observed. Thus it is said that Exodus 12:17-19 it is on the fourteenth day of the month, while Leviticus 23:6 and Numbers 28:17 say it was the 15th of the month. In Ezekiel  45:21 it is back to the 14th of the month.

In my opinion, every one of these arguments is faulty. I haven’t yet read “The Mystery of the Last Supper,” although I plan to get the book soon. I had read summaries previously, and your summary of the salient points has been helpful. I do have a question: does Humphreys cite John Hamilton’s work? If not, that would be a serious oversight in a scholarly treatment of the question. It wouldn’t be so serious in a book designed for a less sophisticated audience, as seems to be the case for The Mystery of the Last Supper. Even so, I think Hamilton’s interpretation should have been discussed.

So that my response to these issues won’t be too foreboding, I’ll devote the rest of this present comment to issue 1 and send separate entries for the other two issue.

Issue 1: Luke’s gospel purportedly shows that daybreak had already occurred when Jesus was first presented to Pilate. If this were the case, then (under Hamilton’s understanding that the disciples ate the Passover meal during the save evening/night that the officials were supposed to) there was no use worrying about getting quickly back to their homes before daybreak.

Luke 23:66 says (NIV), “At daybreak” the council had Jesus appear before them, after which they led the Lord to Caiaphas. The Greek here is hos egeneto hemera, “when day was coming,” which is a rather vague indication of the time. Many commentators regard this as a second meeting of the Sanhedrin that night. Without entering into this question, the remainder of Luke 22 and the first verses of chapter 23 indicate that, after this, Jesus was delivered to Pilate. Several things then happened, some of which would have taken more than just a few minutes: 1) Pilate has a dialogue with the Jewish leaders, asking what the charges were (Jn 18:29-32). 2) Pilate then has a private interview with Jesus inside the praetorium (18:33-38). 3) Pilate goes out to confront and dispute with the leaders again (18:38-40) 4) Pilate delivers Jesus over to the soldiers, who beat and mistreat Him (Jn 19:1-2) 5) Another conflict between Pilate and the Jewish leaders (19:4-13). After this last confrontation, Pilate delivered Jesus to them, and John remarks (19:14): “It was the Day of Preparation [Friday] of Passover Week, about the sixth hour.”

It may also be that, between the hos egeneto hemera of Luke 23:66 and the “sixth hour” of Jn 19:14, the pericope of Jesus being sent by Pilate to Herod (Luke 23:6-12) should perhaps be fit in. On the other hand, this could have happened earlier, which would require an earlier consultation between the Jewish leaders and Pilate. Luke’s sequence of events would suggest this, so for now let’s not include Pilate’s sending of Jesus to Herod in the timeframe between Luke 23:66 and “about the sixth hour” of Jn 19:14.

Back to the main subject: the point to be made is that Luke’s phrase referring to the time when Jesus was sent to Pilate is more vague than John’s phrase telling when the interview with Pilate ended. Furthermore, the several events that transpired after Luke 23:66 show that daybreak (first visibility of the sun) was still some time away when Jesus was delivered to Pilate in Luke 23:66. The end of the time before Pilate, “about the sixth hour” means that the sunrise was coming upon them. Daybreak occurs about 6 AM (“the sixth hour”) around the time of the spring equinox when Passover was observed. As remarked in FATP, p. 295, John used the Roman system of counting the hours of the day, a convention we ourselves follow. So John’s more exact time expression, combined with the several events that transpired between the time that the Jewish leaders were still hoping to eat the Passover (Jn 18:28) and the sixth hour of Jn 19:29, shows that there still could have been time for them to do so. But they must have been getting very anxious at this point. Pilate’s reluctance to execute Jesus and the consequent delays, contrary to what the Jewish leaders expected, must have been very aggravating to those whose governing principle was expediency, not justice.

Yours sincerely,
Rodger C. Young
St. Louis

Rodger C. Young - 9/25/2012 1:36:49 PM

9/25/2012 2:47 PM #

Greetings Dan,

Why do you continue to disregard the questions I put to you in my comment of July 21? I put some of these same questions to you in private correspondence back in 2010, and again you have never answered them. I don’t find it helpful that you keep making unsubstantiated claims and then ignore anyone who asks you to substantiate them.

I’ll try not to repeat the questions you never answered; refer above to my entry of July 21. Also, I do not find it helpful to keep saying that “All modern chronologies (Thiele, Young, Steinmann, etc.) can make the chronology of the Hebrew kings synchronize with one another by disregarding some of the Bible . . .” We all know that Thiele erred when it came to 2 Kgs 17 and 18. But where do you find anything in my chronology for the kingdom period that contradicts any text of the Bible?

You repeat the claim that “In my books, the date for the beginning of the divided kingdoms is anchored by the Bible only . . .” but you ignore my pointing out that your date for the beginning of Daniel’s 70 “weeks” must be interpreted as beginning at a date in the life of Julius Caesar regarding events that are not found anywhere in the Bible. They are derived completely from secular sources. Also please read again what I said about Thiele’s chronology actually correcting Assyrian dates from the Biblical data. Why do you keep saying these kinds of things when you’ve never dealt with my previous challenges to your generalizations?

We can all understand that you want us to read your books. But to just keep repeating claims that have been well answered, and refuted, does not help us to establish your credibility so that we will want to read them.

Why do you keep using BCE instead of BC?

Trying to help,
Rodger C. Young
St. Louis

Rodger C. Young - 9/25/2012 2:47:11 PM

9/25/2012 2:53 PM #

Greetings Paul,

This entry concerns your second objection to John Hamilton’s thesis, wherein you stated that  “I strongly suspect that that the controlling passage in the Old Testament is Numbers 19:11-21.” The Numbers passage concerns defilement by touching a human corpse, for which the period of cleansing was set as seven days. This was to counter my earlier statement that the controlling passages for defilement were to be found in Leviticus 11 and 15, where the defilement for various occurrences lasted only until evening of the day in which the defilement occurred, and the person defiled would be ceremonially clean after sunset of that day.

The seven-day defilement (Num 19:11-21) applied only to those who had touched a corpse or who had entered a tent where someone died. The person who sprinkled the water of cleansing on the one who had touched a corpse would only be unclean until evening, as would anyone who touched the more seriously unclean things (Num 19:21-22). Just before this (Num 19:7,8) the priest who slew the heifer and the person who burned the carcass would only be unclean until evening. So in this chapter itself the 7-day uncleanness is very restricted in scope. Although there are those who try to apply this passage to the defilement mentioned in Jn 18:28, this seems like a highly unlikely proposition.

Rev. Hamilton addressed this issue in his Churchman article. (I found out by a recent exchange of emails with him that the article was a republication, without alteration, of the dissertation for his theology  degree at Cambridge.) On p. 330 he writes, “The treasurers of the Temple used to go to the Roman fortress of Antonia which did not differ in character from the praetorium, to fetch the robe of the High Priest from the Gentile commandant. Buchler says: “Their defilement by the Antonia and by the Gentile commandant of the fortress cannot have been grave as they were permitted to enter the Temple buildings at once and to partake of the paschal sacrificial meal in the evening of the same day. The defilement contracted by the noble priests as well as that attaching to the robe, was evidently removed by an immersion before nightfall.” ” A reference is given to A. Buchler, “The Levitical Impurity of the Gentile in Palestine before the Year 70,” Jewish Quarterly Review 17 (1927), p. 28 ff.

This example from the first century AD is more convincing than the citations that John Morris musters to support the idea that the defilement lasted seven days. Consequently, I think that the reference to the rules observed relative to ritual uncleanness by contact with Gentiles and Gentile-controlled buildings, as observed in the first century AD, should settle this matter. The seven-day defilement was limited to the circumstances delineated in Num 19:11-21. For Jn 18:28, the defilement only lasted until evening, which refutes theories that maintain that the high priests were planning to celebrate the Passover Seder one day later than did Jesus and the disciples.

Yours sincerely,
Rodger C. Young

Rodger C. Young - 9/25/2012 2:53:24 PM

9/25/2012 3:27 PM #


I use BCE instead of BC (and CE instead of AD) because my publications are often read by Jewish readers, who are more acquainted with that notation. BCEand CE are also more commonly used in academia. I guess my question to you is: Why does that usage bother you?

Dan Bruce - 9/25/2012 3:27:16 PM

9/25/2012 6:36 PM #


Thank you for your replies.

I have a copy of John Hamilton's article now.  I found it at

I have John Hamilton's paper entitled "The Chronology of the Crucifixion and the Passover".  I'm still not convinced.

I highly recommend Colin Humphreys' book "The Mystery of the Last Supper: Reconstructing the Final Days of Jesus".



Paul - 9/25/2012 6:36:26 PM

9/26/2012 8:25 AM #


Here’s a short explanation of why I’m still not convinced even after reading John Hamilton’s article entitled “The Chronology of the Crucifixion and the Passover”.

I think the arguments about which sections of the Old Testament Law applied to the situation that is described in John 18:28 are extremely speculative and inconclusive.  I think that they will always be inconclusive.  I don’t think that we have enough evidence to draw a firm conclusion.

I think that you (Rodger) and I (Paul) are in agreement that Nisan 14 in AD 33 was from Thursday sunset to Friday sunset (at least in the official calendar of the temple).  

If you consult modern (and ancient) Jewish sources concerning the date of the Pesach Seder meal, the answer is almost always that the meal starts after sundown on the evening of Nisan 15.

Here are some examples that can be found online:

Note: Colin Humphreys’ viewpoint gives an extremely compelling explanation of why it is that Jews currently observe the Pesach Seder meal at the beginning of the evening on Nisan 15 despite the fact that there is no mention of Nisan 15 in Exodus 12: 1-20.  John Hamilton’s viewpoint is completely incapable of offering any such explanation.  I take this as a very significant sign that Colin Humphreys’ viewpoint is correct and John Hamilton’s viewpoint is incorrect.

Leviticus 23:7 says, “On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.”  I think that this verse supports the idea that the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was treated as a Sabbath day regardless of what day of the week that it happened to fall on.  I think that the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread fell on Saturday in AD 33.  Therefore, Saturday, Nisan 15, AD 33 was a regular Sabbath and also the Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. I believe that explains why John 19:31 says that the day after the Crucifixion was a “special Sabbath”.   I think that it also makes sense that when John 19:14 says, “It was the day of Preparation of Passover, about the sixth hour …”, this verse is saying that it was the preparation for the Sabbath day that always occurs on Nisan 15.   I’m opposed to the interpretation that argues that this only means that the day of Preparation of the Passover refers to the Friday that happens to fall within the week of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  I don’t think that this interpretation takes the natural meaning and implications of Leviticus 23:7 seriously enough.  Granted, it’s possible that this interpretation of John 19:14 may be compatible with both John Hamilton’s views and Colin Humphreys’ views.

I think that ever since the return from the exile in Babylon, the Pesach Seder meal has been celebrated at the beginning of the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread which was on Nisan 15 as described in Leviticus 23:6.  One of the reasons why I think that the Pesach Seder meal has been observed on Nisan 15 since the return from Babylon is that Colin Humphreys’ viewpoint offers an extremely compelling explanation of why that is the case.

The question is whether John 18:28, 19:14, and 19:31 as a whole should be interpreted as adding support to this interpretation.  I think that the answer is yes.  I think that current Jewish practice and the natural implications of text of these verses point to the conclusion that the Pesach Seder meal was scheduled for that Friday evening after sunset.  I think that we have evidence here (again) that the current practice of observing the Pesach Seder meal on the evening of Nisan 15 extends back to the first century and quite likely back to the time when the Jewish people returned from the exile in Babylon.  

Granted, I cannot prove beyond all doubt that this is the case, but I think that it makes sense. It all fits together.  I think that current practice is a guide to the past in this particular case.

Colin Humphreys’ proposed solution to the Last Supper mystery is like a jigsaw puzzle.  All of the pieces fit together perfectly and neatly.  I personally doubt that it is possible to take the puzzle apart, cut the pieces up some other way, and then put everything back together some other way and still have it all work out right.  

I’m not sure this will settle our disagreement, but it may give you an idea of where I’m coming from.



Paul - 9/26/2012 8:25:02 AM

9/27/2012 4:37 PM #


I read John Hamilton’s article again yesterday carefully from beginning to end.  In the process I realized that it will not be possible for me to be persuaded to adopt the viewpoints of John Hamilton or Andrew Steinmann on the Last Supper.  I have come to the conclusion that both of their viewpoints contradict Scripture in a way that is not fixable or negotiable.

I believe that there is sufficient evidence from passages outside of the book of John to lead us to the firm conclusion that the Passover Seder meal in the book of John was scheduled for the evening of Friday, Nisan 15.  

Here are the passages that lead me to that conclusion.

Philippians 3: 4, 5 says, “If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee”.

I Corinthians 15:20 says, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

Leviticus 23: 9-11 says, “The LORD said to Moses, "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. He is to wave the sheaf before the LORD so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath.”

Colin Humphreys’ book contains the following footnote on page 203:
J. B. Segal, The Hebrew Passover: From the Earliest Times to AD 70 (London: Oxford University Press, 1963), pp. 248–51. Segal states that the Sadducees interpreted the Sabbath of Leviticus 23:11 as the normal Sabbath (Friday evening to Saturday evening) which fell in Passover week. Since the barley sheaf had to be waved on ‘the day after the Sabbath’, the Sadducees interpreted this as the Jewish day from Saturday evening to Sunday evening that fell in Passover week.  The Pharisees, on the other hand, interpreted the Sabbath of Passover week to be Nisan 15, because Leviticus 23:6–7 states, ‘On the fifteenth day of that month [Nisan] the Lord’s Feast of Unleavened Bread begins . . . On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.’ So, as we saw in Chapter 3, Nisan 15 became known as the Sabbath of the Passover, and the Pharisees said that it was on the day after this, on Nisan 16, that the barley sheaf should be waved.

Segal is telling us that, according to the Pharisaic interpretation, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread always fell on Nisan 15 and the sheaf (firstfruits) festival always fell on Nisan 16.  I see no reason to doubt what Segal is saying.  It makes sense because it is based on Leviticus 23: 4-14.

I believe that the mention of “firstfruits” in I Corinthians 15:20 is an unambiguous reference to the sheaf (firstfruits) festival that is established in Leviticus 23: 9-11.  Paul was a Pharisee.  Therefore, Paul would have reckoned the sheaf (firstfruits) festival as occurring on Nisan 16.  In AD 33, Nisan 16 in the official Jewish calendar was from Saturday evening to Sunday evening.  This fits perfectly.  It makes sense because Jesus rose from the dead early in the morning on Sunday.

Exodus 12: 14, 17, and 31 make it very clear that the Passover Seder meal was to be celebrated on the first evening of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

According to the Pharisaic interpretation, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread began in the evening on Nisan 15.  That means that according to the Pharisees, the Passover Seder meal was to be celebrated in the evening on Nisan 15. In AD 33, Nisan 15 was from Friday evening to Saturday evening in the official Jewish calendar.

John Hamilton places the Passover Seder meal on Thursday evening at the beginning of Nisan 14 rather than on Friday evening at the beginning of Nisan 15. He realizes that the sheaf (firstfruits) festival must fall on the day after the Passover Seder meal has been observed.  Nisan 14 ran from Thursday evening to Friday evening.  The next day ran from Friday evening to Saturday evening.  As a result, John Hamilton places the sheaf (firstfruits) festival on Saturday.  He writes (on page 334), “The next day, Friday, Jesus was crucified, and the following day was a Sabbath. Jn. 19:31 adds that ‘the Sabbath was a high day’. Now clearly if, against the Synoptic chronology, that Sabbath was the first paschal day, it would have been great for that reason. But if it was the second paschal day, as proposed in the present solution, ‘then it was great because on it one brought the ‘Omer gift according to Pharisaic tradition’. This is the sheaf –offering described by Philo: ‘Within the feast there is another feast following directly after the first day. This is called the Sheaf’. Segal confirms the great importance of this ceremony. ‘It was carried out with deliberate display; ... there is no doubt that the ceremony was held, according to the accepted practice, on the second day of the Passover week’.”

John Hamilton is arguing that the sheaf (firstfruits) festival occurred on Saturday, Nisan 15.  This blatantly contradicts I Corinthians 15:20.  According to I Corinthians 15:20, the sheaf (firstfruits) festival fell on the day that Jesus rose from the dead which was Sunday, Nisan 16.  See the discussion above.

I don’t think that there is any way to fix this problem.  I just do not see any way to get out of this contradiction.

Andrew Steinmann’s viewpoint on the Last Supper is subject to the same objections.

I think that, as a result, we must admit that the Passover Seder meal in the book of John was scheduled for Friday evening on Nisan 15.  This is consistent with Leviticus 23: 6 and the practices of Jewish people all over the world today.  See my previous post for evidence that the standard Jewish practice is to start the Passover Seder meal in the evening on Nisan 15.

As a result, I am convinced that the only way to reconcile the accounts of the Last Supper in the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke with the account of the Last Supper in the book of John is to adopt some kind of different-calendar theory.  I am also convinced that the only different-calendar theory that actually works is the theory of Colin Humphreys.

According to Exodus 12: 1-32, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread falls on Nisan 14.  According to Leviticus 23:4, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread falls on Nisan 15.  For an extremely compelling explanation and reconciliation of this apparent discrepancy that depends on a different-calendar theory, see Colin Humphreys’ book “The Mystery of the Last Supper: Reconstructing the Final Days of Jesus”.



Paul - 9/27/2012 4:37:20 PM

9/27/2012 5:19 PM #

Greetings Paul,

The following is my third entry in response to your comments on Sept 20, 22, and 26.

In support of his theory that Jesus and the disciples were using a calendar that differed from the official calendar of the high priests, Colin Humphreys, in The Mystery of the Last Supper, asserts that there are contradictions within the Pentateuch itself regarding when the Passover Seder was to be observed. Thus it is said that Exodus 12:17-19 it is on the fourteenth day of the month, while Leviticus 23:6 and Numbers 28:17, it is alleged, say it was the 15th of the month. In Ezekiel  45:21 the Passover is back on the 14th of the month.

The citations from Leviticus and Numbers should also include the preceding verse in each case. Doing so will shed light on the problem. So here are Lev 23:5-8 and Num 28:16-18, as given in the NIV:

Lev 23:5, “The Lord’s Passover [pesach] begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. (v. 6) On the fifteenth day of that month the Lord’s Feast [hag] of Unleavened Bread begins: for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. (v. 7) On the first day hold a solemn assembly (miqra qodesh) and do no regular work. (v. 8) For seven days present to the Lord an offering made by fire . . .”

Num 28:16, “On the fourteenth day of the first month the Lord’s Passover (pesach) is to be held. (v. 17) On the fifteenth day of this month there is to be a festival (hag); for seven days eat bread made without yeast. (v. 18) On the first day hold a sacred assembly (miqra qodesh) and do no regular work. (v. 19) Present to the Lord an offering made by fire . . .”

The reason I added the preceding verses, in both cases, to what you cited is that both of them state that the Seder meal was to be observed on the fourteenth of the month. These passages are not inconsistent with Exodus chapter 12, which says (12:6,12) that the lamb should be slaughtered at twilight (lit., “between the evenings”) of the 14th day of the month, and then on “the first day” there was to be a sacred assembly (miqra qodesh, Ex. 12:16).

The passages are not in disagreement regarding the time of the Passover meal, as Humphreys says. In both of them, the meal was to be eaten on the 14th of Nisan. The problem is that the following festival, in both Lev 23:6 and Num 28:17, is placed on the 15th of the month. If the festival were to be in the daylight hours following the evening Passover meal, this would contradict the usual understanding that the Hebrew day began at sunset and ended at sunset the next day.

Therefore these texts do not allow any time for the eating of the Seder but the evening of the 14th. The question of the festival can be resolved in two ways. The first is that the festival was to be observed after sunset, about 24 hours after the Seder. This would be consistent with starting the day at sunset. The second interpretation, taken by one writer I know about, is that the festival would be before sunset, so that a new day was reckoned to start at sunrise (hence the date of the 15th). In either interpretation, the Passover meal was still eaten on the 14th.

In your posting of Sept. 26, you write, “Colin Humphreys’ viewpoint gives an extremely compelling explanation of why it is that Jews currently observe the Pesach Seder meal at the beginning of the evening on Nisan 15 despite the fact that there is no mention of Nisan 15 in Exodus 12: 1-20. John Hamilton’s viewpoint is completely incapable of offering any such explanation.”

My response: It was not John Hamilton’s purpose to explain the current controversy over whether the Seder meal should be eaten on the evening of the 14th or the 15th Nisan, and so it does not seem relevant to say he was “completely incapable” of explaining the issue. I myself was not aware of the controversy over when the Passover Seder was to be observed. Wikipedia says that it is observed in Israel on Nisan 14 but by observant Jews outside Israel on Nisan 15. Wikipedia is a very biased source when it comes to Biblical matters, but in this case their usual anti-Biblical bias probably doesn’t apply.

As remarked earlier, the apparent reason that Humphreys says that the Seder meal was eaten on Nisan 15 was because the relevant passages in Lev 23:6-8 and Num 28 17-25 indicate that the meal was eaten on the 15th, not the 14th, and these passages were written after the Exile. So that would “prove” that, after the Exile and then presumably in the first century AD, the meal was officially observed on the 15th. Does this indeed represent Humphrey’s “extremely compelling explanation” of why the 15th is observed today, and presumably was observed in the first century AD?

I’ve ordered Humphreys book so I can read this for myself, but it won’t arrive for a few days. I may have more to say after reading the book. For now, if you can confirm what I just said about when Humphreys thinks Lev 23 and Num 28 were written, then I would find this explanation unacceptable for two reasons. The first is what I pointed out above: when we add the preceding verses (Lev 23:5 and Num 28:16) to both of the accounts cited by Humphreys, then we have these passages testifying not to the observance of the Seder on the 15th, but on the 14th. The verses are explicit on this, no matter how we try to resolve the question of when the following festival (hag) was observed.

The second reason for my objection is that it follows the common interpretation of those who have an anti-supernatural bias and thereby maintain that the books of Leviticus and Numbers were not written by Moses, but by some fraud (or several frauds) in the post-exilic period. It has been a major endeavor of my own writing to show why such a position requires its advocates to put forth theories that do not stand up under logical scrutiny and sound historical analysis. See for example, “Evidences for Inerrancy from a Second Unexpected Source” in the Fall 2008 issue of Bible and Spade, or for that matter, just about any of the published articles as available on my Web site.

Your replies have generally been well thought out, and have caused me to look further into this matter, so please accept my thanks for that. Congratulations also on getting me to buy Humphreys book. Please correct any misunderstandings I may have expressed in this response, which I wanted to send before waiting the several days or weeks before I get the book and read through it.

Yours sincerely,
Rodger C. Young

Rodger C. Young - 9/27/2012 5:19:10 PM

9/27/2012 6:26 PM #

Greetings again Paul,

I think we need to keep in perspective some issues on the interpretation of John 18:28 when judging the explanation of John Hamilton vs. that of Colin Humphreys.

If it can be established that, in the first century AD, the Passover Seder was observed on Nisan 15, as is done by most Jewish people outside of Israel today, then Humphreys’ explanation of why the high priests observed the Seder meal on the 15th rather than when Jesus and the disciples observed it becomes not only reasonable, but also significant theologically. As I said in my previous post, I cannot agree that Lev 18 and Num 26 were written after the exile and therefore these verses provide a “proof” that this was the case. But the observance on the 15th, contrary as it is to all Scriptures that pertain to the subject, nevertheless had to start some time. So let’s assume for now that Humphreys is right that this was the practice of the leaders of the Jewish nation, and even of the common people, in the first century AD.

Under this assumption, it is significant that Jesus and the disciples did not follow the prevailing practice accepted by the Jewish leaders and, presumably, by the majority of people in their day. Instead, they observed the meal just after sunset had marked the beginning of the fourteenth of the month, in accordance with the Mosaic Law. Jesus was the complete fulfillment of the Law, and as such obeyed all its strictures exactly. This included when such observance went against what was “religiously correct” behavior.

Another example of Jesus’ observing all the precepts of the Mosaic Law even when the prevailing opinion and practice were not consistent with that Law is found in Matthew 9:20, where the diseased woman touched the “kraspedon” (KJV, “hem”; NIV, “edge”) of Jesus’ garment. See also Lk 8:44, Mt. 14:36, 23:5, and Mk. 6:56 for other appearances of this word.  “Kraspedon” means “tassle”, not “hem” or “edge”. In Num 15:38, 39 the Israelites were to put tassels on their garments (see also Deut 22:12). This was for all the people, not just for the priests. The LXX translates the Hebrew word used in these OTR passages as "kraspedon". In the few portrayals of ancient Israelites that have survived from antiquity, there are no traces of tassels on their garments. Nor do I think they are mentioned in Josephus. Apparently by the first century AD, and long before, the tassels had gone out of vogue. Yet Jesus wore them.

To me, the reasoning of the rabbis and the common people in this matter would be similar to the position of many today who maintain that some of the commands of the NT are no longer binding on Christians since they can be “explained” as merely cultural matters that do not apply in our culture. I should clarify that I believe that the Christian is not bound by any part of the Mosaic Law unless that part is explicitly repeated in the commandments of Jesus and his apostles as binding on the Christian. Having said that, it must be acknowledged that there are many NT commands that we as Christians can find very inconvenient, and even unpopular, to follow today. But our example should be the Lord Himself, who wore those Mosaic tassels when apparently no one else was doing so. That is what I think is the theological significance that follows if we accept Humphreys’ interpretation (is this what he says?) that Jesus observed the Passover Seder one day earlier than the “official” day because he was following exactly the commands of the Law instead of the common practices of the day.

So when I get my copy of “The Mystery of the Last Supper” I’ll be anxious to see if Humphreys says anything about this, i.e. if a strict observance of the Mosaic Law is why Jesus and the disciples ate the Last Supper one day before the “official” observance of the Passover meal.

Meanwhile, I still find nothing unreasonable or unscriptural in John Hamilton’s interpretation, namely that the officials were trying to squeeze a judgment out of Pilate before daybreak so they could hurry home and eat the meal before daybreak. If a real case could be made for a first century AD observance of the Passover Seder on Nisan 15, instead of Humphreys weak case that it was because of post-exilic authorship of Leviticus and Numbers, then we would have two viable possibilities for the reason the Jewish leaders were anxious about a defilement that would come from their entering the praetorium.

Rodger C. Young
St. Louis

Rodger C. Young - 9/27/2012 6:26:57 PM

9/28/2012 9:22 AM #


I would like to retract the objections that I posted previously that are based on Luke 22:66.  I still stand behind everything else that I have posted.

I have read your reply that was posted on 9/27/2012 at 5:19 PM.

I think it would be fair to say that Colin Humphreys believes that Leviticus 23 and Numbers 28 were written by Moses and edited/redacted after the return from the Exile in Babylon.  If you want me to, I can look for quotations to back that up.

I look forward to your responses after you have read the book by Colin Humphreys.



Paul - 9/28/2012 9:22:51 AM

9/28/2012 12:11 PM #


I have read your comments that were posted on 9/27/2012 at 6:26 PM.

Note:  According to Colin Humphreys theory, Nisan 14 in the pre-exilic calendar ran from sunrise on Wednesday, April 1, AD 33 to sunrise on Thursday, April 2, AD 33.  He places the Last Supper on Wednesday evening.  See page 163.

You write, “Under this assumption, it is significant that Jesus and the disciples did not follow the prevailing practice accepted by the Jewish leaders and, presumably, by the majority of people in their day.  … Another example of Jesus’ observing all the precepts of the Mosaic Law even when the prevailing opinion and practice were not consistent with that Law is found in Matthew 9:20 … That is what I think is the theological significance that follows if we accept Humphreys’ interpretation (is this what he says?) that Jesus observed the Passover Seder one day earlier than the “official” day because he was following exactly the commands of the Law instead of the common practices of the day. … So when I get my copy of “The Mystery of the Last Supper” I’ll be anxious to see if Humphreys says anything about this, i.e. if a strict observance of the Mosaic Law is why Jesus and the disciples ate the Last Supper one day before the “official” observance of the Passover meal.”

I think that the direction that you are heading in these comments is absolutely right.

Colin Humphreys believes that there are significant theological ramifications that result from his theory and they are basically the kind of ramifications that you identify in your comments.

Here are some examples from Colin’s book:

(Pages 132-3)
The book of Ezekiel is of particular interest because it states it was written during his exile in Babylon.  A key message of Ezekiel is that the Jews were in captivity because they had ‘conformed to the standards of the nations around you’ (Ezekiel 11:12). Chapters 40–48 describe Ezekiel’s vision of a new temple that he had in the twenty-fifth year of his exile (Ezekiel 40:1). After this considerable length of time in exile let us assume that most of the Jewish priests had adopted the Babylonian-style calendar. Then the whole point of Ezekiel stating ‘In the first month on the fourteenth day you are to observe the Passover’ (Ezekiel 45:21) was to call his fellow Jews back to celebrating Passover according to the original pre-exilic calendar, and not to conform ‘to the standards of the nations around you’ (Ezekiel 11:12).

(Page 160)
It is clear from the gospels that Jesus understood his role as that of a new Moses.

(Pages 195-6)
Finally, let me emphasise the striking symbolism our new dating of the last days of Jesus has revealed. By using the pre-exilic calendar, Jesus held his last supper as a real Passover meal on the exact anniversary of the first Passover, described in the book of Exodus, thus identifying himself as the new Moses, instituting a new covenant and leading God’s people out of captivity. Jesus died at about 3 p.m., on Nisan 14 in the official Jewish calendar, at the time the Passover lambs were slain, thus becoming identified with the Passover sacrifice. These powerful symbolisms are based on objective historical events. The details of the last days of Jesus I have reconstructed in this book are deep in meaning and significance and, I suggest, throw new light on God working to a climax within history.



Paul - 9/28/2012 12:11:06 PM

9/28/2012 11:30 PM #


I hope I haven’t been overloading you with comments.  I’ve been on vacation Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday this week so I’ve had additional time to read, meditate, write, and post comments.  

From my end I can say that I’ve enjoyed the back-and-forth discussions that you and I have had.

I would like to add one more example of the theological ramifications that Colin Humphreys sees in the theory that he is arguing for.  

(Page 162)
Indeed, Jesus could only have held his last supper on the exact anniversary of the first Passover of Moses by using the pre-exilic calendar. As we saw in Chapter 9, Ezekiel 33–48 promise that God will revive his people through a new temple and a new king, taken to be the Messiah, teaching the people to follow his Laws. How appropriate for Jesus, a few days after cleansing the temple (Mark 11:15), to have celebrated the Passover Feast on the date specified by Ezekiel, Nisan 14 (Ezekiel 45:21) in the pre-exilic calendar, and not on Nisan 15 in the later official calendar, as used by the priests who had allowed the temple to become defiled (Mark 11:17).

When you read the book, there are some things that I know that you will read and disagree with.

He is an advocate of the late-date Exodus theory.  He’s not antagonistic to the early-date theory though.  On pages 117-8, in the chapter about the Egyptian calendar practices, he writes, “So, we have considerable details of the lunar calendar and feast days of the Egyptians at the time of Moses (if the 1450 BC Exodus date were correct, this would not make any difference to my argument since the Egyptian lunar calendar was in use from before 3000 BC).”

He repeatedly cites 586 B.C. as the date of the exile to Babylon.  I think he is completely unaware of your work that establishes 587 B.C. as the date of the exile to Babylon.  I’m on your side on this one.



Paul - 9/28/2012 11:30:52 PM

10/3/2012 10:14 PM #

Greetings Roger and thank you for your helpful articles and refinements to Dr Thieles chronology.

One small query I have is how Solomon’s fourth year (1 Kings 6:1) has recently been adjusted from 966 BC to 967 BC.  I assume it stems from your pinning of the divided kingdom to 931 BC?

However, when we locate David’s death at 970 BC.  Solomon’s fourth year, becomes 966 BC.

Im assuming that we should treat Solomon’s accession year as 970 BC because it was a partial year shared with his father.  His first full year after David died was 969 BC, his second year 968 BC, his third 967 BC and his fourth, 966 BC.

This may seem trifling but it means the Exodus is more finely tuned at 1445 BC than the commonly stated 1446 BC.  Do you have a reason for not using an 'accession based' count for Solomon's reign?

Christian Gedge - 10/3/2012 10:14:33 PM

10/8/2012 10:09 AM #

Greetings Chris,
It’s good to hear from someone who wants to get the details right. For the period from Solomon to the end of the Judean kingdom in 587 BC we have an abundance of data that helps us to construct an exact chronology for the period. Anyone with only a half-way view of the inspiration of Scripture would have to conclude that if God was behind the writing of the several historical books that cover this period, then He was interested in giving us enough detail so the chronology could be worked out in a general way. For those of us with a full or Biblical view of the inspiration of Scripture, all these precise data of the kingdom period means that the Grand Designer intended that the numerous reign lengths and synchronisms were given so that the chronology could be worked out with precision. You may have seen that the sub-title of my “Samaria” article was “The Need for Precision in Biblical Chronologies.”

For unbelieving scholarship it should have come as a surprise that the many (about 125) precise chronological markers for the kingdom period fit into a rational scheme, based on only a few observations regarding how ancient recorders, both Hebrew and non-Hebrew, did their work. Even rationalist interpreters now largely agree that the real breakthrough in putting together the chronological puzzle of the kingdom period came with Edwin Thiele’s publication, in 1944, of the basic material of his PhD thesis. Of particular importance was his ability to pinpoint the time of the division of the kingdom to some time in the year that began in Nisan of 931 BC. As pointed out in FATP, this date is accepted by secular historians, who use it for determining more precisely the regnal years of Egypt’s 21st and 22nd Dynasties by referring to 2 Chr 12:2.

It was Thiele who established the date for the beginning of the divided kingdom, not I. I did write a study that showed that three independent lines of evidence confirm this date; see the “Three Verifications” article on my Web site. My contribution was in showing that Thiele’s assumption that Solomon died after the mid-point of this Nisan-based year, i.e. after Tishri (~October) of 931 BC, led him into problems that he was never  able to resolve. If, however, Solomon died sometime before Tishri of 931, then not only are those problems resolved, but there is harmony with the Jubilee cycles, for which counting started in Nisan of 1406 BC and continued until the Jubilee year marked by Ezekiel that began on Tishri 10 (the Day of Atonement) of 574 BC. With this correction, which as you know is accepted by Dr. Steinmann in FATP and by other recent writers, Solomon’s 40th year, the year of his death, began in Tishri of 932, not Tishri of 931 as Thiele would have it.

Now to answer your question: Since 932t was Solomon’s 40th and final year, his 4th year, 36 years earlier, was 968t, i.e. the Judean regnal year that began in Tishri of 968 BC. This is true whether the years of Solomon are reckoned by the accession method or the nonaccession method. It is 36 years from year 4 to year 40 in either case. All that is assumed is that there was consistency by the court recorders in their method of measuring the four years of 1 Kgs 6:1 and the 40 years of 1 Kgs11:42.

I regard these dates, 931n for the division of the kingdom, 932t for Solomon’s death, and 968t for Solomon’s fourth year, so that construction on the Temple began in the spring of 967 BC, as the most secure historical dates of any kingdom or culture in the early 1st millennium BC. When we move back to the early monarchy and the Judges period, however, it is not possible to be quite so precise. The first place this indecision appears is for the year in which Solomon began to rule. If we assume nonaccession reckoning he would have acceded to the throne in 971t (932t + 39). For accession reckoning it would be 972t (932t + 40). We could determine which of these alternatives to take if we had a synchronism of when he came to the throne with some datable event, but we don’t have this. For two of the later kings of Judah, Jehoshaphat and Jotham, we have such a synchronism of their first year of coregency with their fathers, and it was reckoned in a nonaccession sense in both cases. For this reason, I assumed that Solomon’s years were reckoned in a nonaccession sense. But again, whether accession or nonaccession does not affect the time of his fourth year, since this was 36 years before his death in 932t in either case; what is in question is whether he began in 972t (accession reckoning) or 971t (nonaccession).

The second uncertainty is whether Solomon’s 40 years are measured from the start of the coregency with David or from when his sole reign began on David’s death. There may have been some predilection of the author of 1 Kgs to choose whichever of these options gave Solomon the “ideal” reign length of 40 years, which was the length of reign of his father. A similar preference for the 40-year figure might have determined whether Solomon’s years were reported in a nonacccession sense or accession sense.

Maybe this has been more than you asked for, but I would like to make one point from it. We do not determine Solomon’s reign from David’s years, as you seemed to indicate when you wrote, “when we locate David’s death at 970 BC, Solomon’s fourth year, becomes 966 BC.” David’s reign can only be determined when we know the years of Solomon, and even then there is some uncertainty because we do not know whether Solomon acceded to the throne in 971t or 972t, or whether these years marked the beginning of his sole reign or the beginning of his coregency with David. In FATP, Dr. Steinmann follows my suggestion that a reasonable time of overlap of the reigns would have David dying in 969t, about a year and a half before construction began on the Temple.

The fixed date of 968t for Solomon’s fourth year, which is the 480th year of the Exodus-era according to 1 Kgs 6:1, is useful in dating the Exodus to Nisan of 1446 BC and the entry into Canaan to Nisan of 1406 BC, two dates that are firm and which can be used by archaeologists such as Bryant Wood in dating more precisely artifacts from places like Jericho and Khirbet el-Maqatar. The artifacts can only be dated approximately by ceramic studies and other archaeological techniques.

A final note: Thiele’s date for the division of the kingdom, 931n, was derived several years earlier by the Belgian scholar Valerius Coucke, independently and quite unknown to Thiele. Coucke used (of all things!) data derived solely from classical (non-biblical) sources to place the beginning of Temple construction in 968t, and then used 1 Kgs 6:1 and 11:42 to put Solomon’s death in 932t, in agreement with the date I derived in my 2003 article “When Did Solomon Die?” He then put the division of the kingdom after the midpoint of this year, in 931n. Coucke, like Thiele, deduced from the Biblical data that the northern kingdom used Nisan-based years while Judah used Tishri-based years. I had not read Coucke when I published my chronology of Solomon’s reign in 2003. Coucke’s work is the subject of my article, “The Parian Marble and Other Surprises from Chronologist V. Coucke,” which a few days ago I made available at . A follow-up article authored by Dr. Steinmann and myselfwill appear about Nov. 1: “Correlation of Select Classical Sources Related to the Trojan War with Assyrian and Biblical Chronologies.” I’ll make that available come Nov. 1.

Hope this wasn’t too much detail,
Rodger C. Young and

Rodger C. Young - 10/8/2012 10:09:54 AM

10/8/2012 1:19 PM #


I hope I don't come across as disrespectful by disagreeing with you (and many others) about Hebrew chronology. Having dealt with the problems inherent in deriving chronology from the biblical text, and then making the chronology for the Hebrew kings harmonize with one another and synchronoize with surrounding contemporaneous chronologies, I appreciate the scholarship you do. However, I also respect my own research, and, after having read your papers, can see that we have a fundamental disagreement, mainly that about the year the divided monarchies of Israel and Judah began.  

My chronology for the Hebrew kings is based on the belief that the united kingdom of Israel did not divide in 931 BCE, but in 961 BCE instead. The 961 BCE date is derived from the Bible only, from an interpretation of the chrono-specific prophecy given in the Book of Daniel, chapter 4, and is independent of Assyrian chronology, unlike all currently-in-vogue traditional chronologies for the Hebrew kings--chronologies that are anchored, not by the biblical text, but by Assyrian chronology. When that 961 BCE date for the division of the kingdoms is used, the reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah fit exactly into the time frame defined by that date, and they synchronize exactly with one another without having to disregard any verses of the Bible and without having to hypothesize preposterous and undocumented co-reigns for any of the kings.

The chronologies of Assyria and Egypt can then be shown to synchronize exactly with that Bible-only chronology of the Hebrew kings if the following adjustments are made:

1) Assyrian chronology is adjusted by using the correct date for the eclipse that occurred when Bur-Sagale was an Assyrian governor, the correct date being 791 BCE instead of the 763 BCE date that Sir Henry Rawlinson chose. Either date is possible since no one knows when Bur-Sagale lived, and NASA records show that both eclipses equally fit the sparce description given in the Assyrian Kings List, which is the only mention of either Bur-Sagale or the eclipse that occurred during his governorship. Assyrian chronology needs to be further adjusted for the two-year disruption at the end of the reign of Shalmaneser III, when his sons battled for the throne after his death and no eponyms were recorded for those two years while the throne was being disputed.

2) As for Egyptian history, when it is understood that the Karnak inscription describing the invasion of the Negev and the northern kingdom of Israel by Shoshenq I is an account of his campaign against Asa of Judah followed soon thereafter by a subsequent campaign to defend his ally Baasha of Israel against Asa's ally Ben-Hadad of Damascus in 925 BCE, and that prior to that invasion Shoshenq I led pharaoh Siamun's army against Rehoboam and Judah in 961 BCE as commander of the army (before he became pharaoh, the reference in the Bible to Shishak king of Egypt thus being an anachronism), the reigns of the kings of Egypt line up precisely with the Hebrew kings.

3) When it is understood that Rehoboam reigned over the united monarchy of Israel for four-plus years before Shishak came against him in Rehoboam's fifth year, and that the accounting for the reigns of the Hebrew kings began only after Shishak's  campaign against Rehoboam in 961 BCE. This means that Rehoboam began his reign in 967/966 BCE, which would make Solomon's reign strectch from 1,006 BCE to 967/966 BCE.

Thus, the fourth year of Solomon's reign would have been the year 1,002 BCE, when he began construction on the first Temple. The figures preserved by Jewish sages in the Seder Olam and the Talmud both confirm that chronology for the Temple. The Seder Olam says that there were 218 years between the renovation of the Temple by Josiah in 622 BCE and the renovation by Joash of Judah, which takes the chronology to 640 BCE. It also says that from the 23rd year of Joash in 640 BCE, when he renovated the Temple, was 155 years, which takes the chronology to 995 BCE. Since the Temple was begun in 1,002 BCE and finished seven years later in 996 BCE, and dedicated the following year in 995 BCE, all of the figures add up. In addition, the Talmud says that the Temple was completed by Solomon 410 years before it was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar II, an event which happened in 586 BCE (here I disagree with your 587 BCE dating, Rodger), so 586 + 410 = 996 BCE again confirms my chronology.

You are correct about one thing you said in an earlier comment. I do want people to read my books, "Sacred Chronology of the Hebrew Kings" and "Lifting the Veil on the Book of Daniel," in which I have explained my biblical chronology in great detail. I believe that the new chronology in those books is more faithful to the biblical reord, and shows how secular history can be reconciled with the biblical text without having to do violence to associated secular histories. Plus, all of the numbers (from the Bible, Assyrian history, Egyptian history, and records of the Jewish sages) add up. Consequently, I believe that the biblical chronology I have developed is the most accurate interpretation of the chronology that has been handed down from antiquity, and that all other chronologies will conform to it when they are properly understood.

The new chronology that I have presented in my books must be studied "line by line, precept by precept" to see how all of the chronological pieces fit together into a harmonious and synchronized whole. Trying to discuss details of my chronology here with someone who has not read my books seems pointless. Instead, I prefer to let the chronology in its entirety speak for itself. That is why I, like you, have made my books and research available for free on my website, I'll be glad to answer questions about the chronology presented in my books from anyone who has read them (the way to contact me directly is provided in the online books).

I thank the editors of ABR for allowing me to make my response to Rodger's previous comments about my work available to your readers. May we all find God's truth as we study His Word.

Dan Bruce - 10/8/2012 1:19:46 PM

10/8/2012 5:30 PM #


Here is why I accept 586 BCE as the correct date for the destruction of Solomon's Temple by Nebuchadnezzar, not 587 BCE.

The Bible in two separate citations (2 Kings 25:8 and Jeremiah 52:12) records that Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem in his nineteenth regnal year.

If Nebuchadnezzar inherited the throne of Babylon after the Battle of Carchemish, which most scholars agree happened in 605 BCE, and began his first regnal year in the Tishri that followed that battle a few months thereafter in 605 BCE, then his regnal years would align as follows (where Tishri=Sept/Oct):

Battle of Carchemish (before Tishri 605 BCE) - Accession Year
Year 1 begins in Tishri 605 BCE
Year 2 begins in Tishri 604 BCE
Year 3 begins in Tishri 603 BCE
Year 4 begins in Tishri 602 BCE
Year 5 begins in Tishri 601 BCE
Year 6 begins in Tishri 600 BCE
Year 7 begins in Tishri 599 BCE
Year 8 begins in Tishri 598 BCE
Year 9 begins in Tishri 597 BCE
Year 10 begins in Tishri 596 BCE
Year 11 begins in Tishri 595 BCE
Year 12 begins in Tishri 594 BCE
Year 13 begins in Tishri 593 BCE
Year 14 begins in Tishri 592 BCE
Year 15 begins in Tishri 591 BCE
Year 16 begins in Tishri 590 BCE
Year 17 begins in Tishri 589 BCE
Year 18 begins in Tishri 588 BCE
Year 19 begins in Tishri 587 BCE
Temple destroyed in July/Aug 586 BCE
Year 19 ends in Tishri 586 BCE

Thus, it seems that the seventh regnal year of Nebuchadnezzar was the year 599 BCE (not 597 BCE as Wiseman proposed for the seventh year), making 599 BCE the year when Nebuchadnezzar began the siege of Jerusalem that resulted in the capture of King Jehoiachin about 18 months later in 597 BCE. In the nineteenth regnal year of Nebuchadnezzar, which closed in the waning months of the year 586 BCE, the Babylonians destroyed the Temple.

So, I don't agree with your 587 BCE date for the destruction of the Temple since the math for that year doesn't add up with the two biblical citations in 2 Kings and Jeremiah and the widely accepted secular date for the Battle of Carchemish as 605 BCE. I accept 586 BCE as the correct year for the destruction of the Temple.

Dan Bruce - 10/8/2012 5:30:31 PM

10/9/2012 8:22 AM #

Errata in previous comment:

"The Seder Olam says that there were 218 years between the renovation of the Temple by Josiah in 622 BCE and the renovation by Joash of Judah, which takes the chronology to 640 BCE. It also says that from the 23rd year of Joash in 640 BCE, when he renovated the Temple, was 155 years, which takes the chronology to 995 BCE."

should read ...

"The Seder Olam says that there were 218 years between the renovation of the Temple by Josiah in 622 BCE and the renovation by Joash of Judah, which takes the chronology to 840 BCE. It also says that from the 23rd year of Joash in 840 BCE, when he renovated the Temple, was 155 years, which takes the chronology to 995 BCE."

Dan Bruce - 10/9/2012 8:22:17 AM

10/17/2012 11:17 AM #

Greetings Dan,

The two texts you cite as evidence that Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians in 586 BC are dealt with in my paper “When Did Jerusalem Fall?” I am disappointed that either you have not read that paper, which is freely available, or if you did, you did not address the simple point made there: in the reign of Zedekiah, Zedekiah reckoned his years by the nonaccession method. His contemporaries Jeremiah and the author of 2 Kings 25, used this same nonaccession method in reckoning the reign of Nebuchadnezzar.

This is similar to the way we do things today. We count the years of other nations by our modern calendar that uses BC and AD dates in honor of the Lord our Savior, even when recounting events in nations like China or the Moslem world that use a different calendar.  You can object to this, and say we ought to use their calendar, and Jeremiah and his associates should have followed Babylonian customs, but that doesn’t change the way they actually did things.

I’m aware that there are those that insist that Zedekiah absolutely must have used accession reckoning for his reign because that was the way that the majority (but not all) of his predecessors on the throne of Judah reckoned their reign.  It has been pointed out in FATP, and abundantly in my writings, that this kind of a priori assumption leads to contradictions of several Scriptural texts, all of which are in harmony when we realize that Zedekiah’s reign is reckoned in Scripture in a nonaccession sense, so that his reign was considered to begin when Jehoiachin was captured by Nebuchadnezzar on 2 Adar 597 BC (Judean year 598t) and ended 10 actual (11 nonaccession) years later in 588t, i.e. in July of 587.

I can understand that some may find it difficult to understand my use of Decision Tables to analyze all the Scriptural texts related to the fall of Jerusalem.  Perhaps the use of this method is best appreciated only by someone like computer software testers who must take into account all the data and all the combinations of the data in order to do their job. But it is not necessary to understand the Decision Tables that I used in “When Did Jerusalem Fall?” in order to get the complete picture of how all the Scriptural texts for this period harmonize, and how they all harmonize in putting Jerusalem’s fall in 587 BC, not 586. All that is necessary is to examine Table 2 (texts from Ezekiel), Table 4 (texts from 2 Kgs 24 and 25), and Table 6 (texts from Jeremiah). These tables show that 1) each Scriptural author is entirely self-consistent in the way he reckoned the last years of the Judean monarchy, 2) The chronology of the three sources agrees completely, and 3) They all agree with the fall of Jerusalem, and Zedekiah’s exile to Babylon, occurring in the summer of 587 BC.

The proper way to challenge this would have been to show where there is some error in the tables or my article, or an error in Dr. Steinmann’s demonstration, in FATP, of why assuming 586 BC for Jerusalem’s fall leads to contradiction of the Scripture. FATP does not analyze all the Scriptures for this, but it gives reference to my paper that does. You have done neither of these things.

It should be an encouragement to those of us who have a high view of the inspiration of Scripture that all the Biblical texts related to the fall of Jerusalem are in harmony once we rid ourselves of any a priori assumption of how Zedekiah “should have” counted his regnal years. For those with a low view of inspiration, whose general method is to assume that the historical parts of Scripture are a hodge-podge put together, or at least heavily redacted, by late-date authors who lived long after the events described, the harmony of not just some, but all the many Scriptural texts involved, demonstrates the falsity of their assumptions and the poverty of their historical method. The errors of such scholars, and their prejudicial way of handling the Scriptural texts, are largely because of their anti-supernatural world outlook.

Rodger C. Young
Jerusalem paper:

Rodger C. Young - 10/17/2012 11:17:07 AM

11/21/2012 6:48 PM #

I have a copy of the A.M. chronology based on Thiele's book compared to Ussher's calculations. It shows 4004 for the birth of Christ from Adam for Ussher and 3959 for Thiele. With all of the minor adjustments made by those who have followed, have those adjustment in time changed the overall date of Thiele's work for A.M. 3959 for Christ's birth? Thanks Chaplain Clark

Chaplain Timothy Clark - 11/21/2012 6:48:18 PM

11/26/2012 5:47 PM #

Greetings Chaplain Clark,

Conservapedia had a reckoning of the date of the creation of Adam based on Thiele’s chronology that gave 3959 BC. I don’t know that Thiele himself ever published this date or agreed with it. One place that might show Thiele’s thinking on dates before the Exodus would be the Seventh Day Adventist commentary or bible dictionary. I’ll look into those sometime at the nearby seminary library, but for now I’ll just show how this date can be derived as starting from the Exodus in 1446 B.C.

430 years before the Exodus, according to Exodus 12:40 and Gal 3:17, was the promise to Abraham, in 1876 B.C.

Abraham was 75 years old at this time (Gen 12:4) so he was born in 1951 B.C.

Terah, Abraham’s father, was 130 years old when Abraham was born (Gen 11:32, Acts 7:4), so Terah was born in 2081 B.C.

The genealogical list of Genesis 11 gives 222 years between start of Flood and birth of Terah, so this starts the Flood in 2303 B.C.

The genealogical list of Genesis 5 gives 1656 years from the creation of Adam until the Flood, placing Adam’s creation in 3959 B.C.

Now some comments on the controversial parts of this chronology.

First, Thiele’s scheme would give 1445 B.C. for the Exodus rather than the correct date of 1446. This is because his years for Solomon’s reign are one year too late, as shown in my paper “When Did Solomon Die?” and also explained in FATP pages 133-134.

There is a major point of disagreement among evangelical scholars on the 430 years of Exodus 12:40. The majority of recent writers, including those at ABR, hold that the 430 years do not go back to the promise to Abraham, but to the entry of Jacob and his family into Egypt, or (as Dr. Steinmann thinks) to the promise given to Jacob just before he went down into Egypt. This “Long Sojourn” theory gives 430 years from Jacob’s entry into Egypt to the Exodus and another 215 years back to the promise to Abraham, thus putting Abraham’s birth in (1951 + 215) = 2166 B.C. Advocates of the “Short Sojourn” theory begin the 430 years with the promise to Abraham, as mentioned above.

Some might still hold that Genesis 11:26 implies that Terah was 70 years old when he fathered Abraham, Nahor, and Terah (triplets?), but I think the proper interpretation of this verse is that he was 70 years old when he finished writing his “toledoth” (sacred histories). Another writer then took up where he left off and described the life of Abraham. Acts 7:4 shows that Terah died at age 205, at which time Abraham, age 75, left Haran for Canaan.

Another problem area is in interpreting the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11. Assuming for now that there are no gaps in the genealogies, there is still the question of whether the Hebrew MT (Masoretic Text), the Samaritan Pentateuch, or the Greek Septuagint (LXX) gives the correct spans of time for these patriarchs. The Samaritan Pentateuch and the LXX both add a few hundred years to the genealogies of the MT in Genesis 5 and 11.

Rodger C. Young

Rodger C. Young - 11/26/2012 5:47:54 PM

12/18/2012 11:10 AM #

I’ve been enjoying your recent JETS articles on the chronology of the Kings of Israel and Judah, and thought I would send you an email to get your opinion on the issue of Hiram and David (2 Sam 5:11; 7:2).

Eugene Merrill’s 1989 article titled, “The ‘Accession Year’ and Davidic Chronology,” argues for a date of 977t BC for 2 Sam 5:11 (thus demonstrating that the chronological arrangement of 2 Sam 5-9 is in question). I noticed that Steinmann’s “From Abraham to Paul” follows Merrill on this issue (page 117) with the modification of 977t to 980t. This conclusion leads Steinmann to give a date of 975 for 2 Sam 7 (the covenant). However, this means that Solomon was born prior to 2 Sam 7 and my understanding has always been that the Davidic Covenant was given prior to Solomon’s birth.

Leslie McFall, in his JETS article titled, “The Chronology of Saul and David,” does not interact with Merrill on this issue (I sent him the article and he is looking into this) and his chart shows 2 Samuel’s narrative order matching the chronological order. I’d like your thoughts on this issue.

Merrill recently release the 2nd edition of Kingdom of Priests (2008) in which he maintains his ~980 BC date for Hiram helping David build the palace. This implies to me that nobody has challenged Merrill on this, or that his position has stood the test of time and is considered to be the standard.

Please send me your thoughts on this issue and your opinion of the chronological dating of 2 Sam 5-7, thanks!

Nathan E Brown - 12/18/2012 11:10:16 AM

12/18/2012 5:45 PM #

Greetings Nathan,

Allow me to clarify your comments about Hiram of Tyre sending envoys, and then material assistance for the building of a palace, to David in Jerusalem (2 Sam 5:11). Dr. Steinmann, in FATP, does not say that this was in 980t. Note 171 on p. 117 instead says that Hiram’s first year was 980t, whereas Eugene Merrill had said that Hiram’s first year was 977t. This is a separate issue from Hiram’s sending envoys and material aid. We might assume that Hiram would send the envoys when he first came to the throne on the death of his father Abibaal. Materials for the construction of David’s palace could have been sent several years later. This is because 2 Sam 5:4-16 is a summary of the whole reign of David, giving significant events such as his reigning first in Hebron then in Jerusalem, his building a palace, and his fathering of several sons in both Hebron and Jerusalem. This sort of summary of the reign of a king is found rather commonly in documents from the ancient Near East, and we need to be careful that we recognize such documents for what they are; they are not to be interpreted so as to say that events preceding them and following them are necessarily in strict chronological order. The passage that summarizes David’s career, 2 Sam 5:4-16, cannot be used to say that Solomon was born before the promise to David’s house in chapter 7 just because it precedes this chapter in the arrangement of 2 Samuel.

We might guess that Hiram sent the envoys when he (Hiram) first came to the throne. After FATP went to press, Dr. Steinmann and I authored an article that would change Hiram’s first year from the 980t of FATP to one year earlier, 981t. See the reasons for our doing this in “Correlation of Select Classical Sources Related to the Trojan War with Assyrian and Biblical Chronologies,” pages 226 and 227. This is available online at  

Second Samuel 7:1 that introduces the covenant with David says that this was after David was settled in his palace (Hebrew “bayit,” house) and had rest from his surrounding enemies. Assuming that this is the same palace for which Hiram assisted in the building (the same word, “bayit,” is used in 5:11), this must be dated to some time, probably a few years, after Hiram came to the throne. In FATP p. 123, the years 979 to 976 B.C. are assigned to the building project, which seems reasonable. This necessarily puts the Davidic covenant after the affair with Bathsheba. The disorders that resulted from David’s infidelity span several years and so the Bathsheba incident cannot be moved later than 976, as explained in FATP pages 119-121. For instance, if Solomon was 20 years old when he became king (he had a one year old son at that time, 1 Kgs 14:21), then he would have been born in 991t, and this was necessarily at least two years after the adultery of David and Bathsheba. FATP puts the adultery in 997.

It might be contended that this reconstruction relies too much on the dates of Hiram. But one of the conclusions that Dr. Steinmann and I came to when writing “Correlation of Select Classical Sources” was that the Tyrian data preserved by Josephus, including its chronology of the kings of Tyre, is a historical source of first-rate authenticity. On pp. 245 and 246 we concluded the following:  

“Consequently, in places where it is possible to correlate the Tyrian history with records or facts that are external to the Tyrian records themselves, the Tyrian accounts have repeatedly been vindicated. The most important vindications have come from a careful examination of the dates that can be derived from these accounts. When all the information is put together, the excerpts of Tyrian history found in Josephus provide a chronological system of considerable complexity. They cover almost seven centuries, from the re-founding of Tyre in 1209 B.C. until the end of the reign of Hiram III in 532 B.C. Twenty-one rulers are named, with lengths of reign for all but one of these (Abibaal, father of Hiram I). Most importantly for testing the credibility of the Tyrian data, at five places it is possible to synchronize their information with dates or events derived from sources independent of the list. This illustrates an important principle for the historian: chronology provides an effective test of historical authenticity. The chronological test can be applied whenever the source material provides more than a trivial amount of information regarding spans of time and synchronizations. This certainly characterizes the Tyrian data preserved in Josephus, even though those data were a small part of what was originally available in the writings of Menander and Dius. If these records were the creation of a late-date author or redactor, whether Josephus, Menander, or anyone else, their various statistics would not have formed a complex, coherent, and testable chronological system.”

A footnote to this passage gives the 5 places where the Tyrian data have been shown to be correct by synchronization with other events in the ancient Near East for which the dates are known.

Hope this helps,
Rodger C. Young

Rodger C. Young - 12/18/2012 5:45:22 PM

2/19/2014 12:39 AM #

I realize I am a significant late comer to this thread, but I wanted to address a couple of things I saw as I read through the review and the comments.

Firstly, I wanted to address the chronology of Jesus' last days, specifically the discussion between Mr. Young and Paul. I do not see that any particular resolution has come to the discussion, and it is completely possible that a full resolution will not be possible. Regarding the suggestion of a dual calendar being used between the Synoptics and John, I did not see anyone address that the Synoptics specifically say that Jesus had the disciples go to prepare the Passover dinner on the day that the Passover was to be sacrificed. Luke 22:7 says, "Then came the [first] day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover [lamb] had to be sacrificed." Mark 14:12 says, "On the first day if Unleavened Bread, when the Passover [lamb] was being sacrificed, His disciples said to Him, 'Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?'" And Matthew 26:17 says, "Now on the first [day] of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, 'Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?'"

It seems clear from these passages that the Synoptics are speaking of the actual day that the Passover was actually being sacrificed at the Temple, not simply the day the Passover was *supposed* to be sacrificed at the Temple. It does not seem sufficient to suggest that the Synoptics are using a different calendar from the official one used at the time, as the Synoptics indicate that the Passover was actually being sacrificed on that day, indicating that day was the official day according to the tradition of the time. Nothing besides John 18:28 or 19:14 indicate even a possibility that Jesus was being crucified at the time if the Passover sacrifice, and the Synoptics agree with John that Jesus was crucified on the day of preparation (Luke 23:54, Mark 15:42, Matthew 27:62). So, it seems that any suggestions of two calendars are making too much of something which is not really there. The original Passover had the lamb killed on the day of the fourteenth and eaten that evening; the command in Exodus says to do the same thing, kill the lamb on the fourteenth and eat it that evening. Leviticus and Numbers should not, and I might go as far as to say cannot, be interpreted differently, the fourteenth is the Passover in which you kill the lamb and eat it in the evening. At no place, and even to the present day it is the same, do the Jewish people ever kill the Passover on the day of the fifteenth and in all cases, the Passover is eaten the evening immediately after the lamb is killed on the fourteenth (although I acknowledge that no one is killing a Passover lamb at this point since the destruction of the Temple, only holding the Seder at the appropriate time following what would be the sacrifice on the fourteenth.

To sum up, the difficulty in trying to reconcile an apparent contradiction between John and the Synoptics by appealing to a different calendar does not satisfactorily deal with the fact that the Synoptics, Mark particularly, claims the Passover was actually being sacrificed the day before Jesus' crucifixion, so if John is claiming that Jesus is being crucified at the same time as The Passover sacrifice, which is not automatic from the text, then an official versus a traditional calendar cannot answer that contradiction, no matter how intriguing it seems. If I am missing something, I am greatly interested to know it.

Secondly, I wanted to address the issue of Jesus' birth in 2 or 3 BC versus his crucifixion in AD 33. Does this mean that we give Luke a little wiggle room in 3:23, when he says "about 30 years old," that Jesus could have been 32 or 33 at that point?

Thirdly, and lastly, I did appreciate the comments made regarding the short chronology of the time in Egypt, as I do tend to be a proponent of the short timeframe, but I wanted to ask, even disregarding the differences of interpretations of Genesis 15, Acts 13, and Galatians 3, with others, is how to reconcile a long chronology time period of approximately 400 years actually in Egypt (from the time Jacob and his entourage of 70 go down) with them only being in Egypt for 4 generations? I recognize the issue of expanding from 70 to nearly 2 million in a short chronology, though as you acknowledge it isn't absurd to suggest it happened as the growth rate needed is seen even today and the Bible declares they were quite fertile, but I have a difficult time stretching the generations out long enough to come up with only four of them in 400-430 years. Could you shed some light on this argumentation for me?

Thank you.

David E. Gregory - 2/19/2014 12:39:35 AM

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