A. From Assyrian Inscriptions. --
(1) 854 B. C. . Salmanasar II, in the summer of his sixth year, vanquishes Benadad of Syria ( 1 Kings 20:1 ), the predecessor of Hazael, with other kings, among them Achab of Israel, in the battle of Karkar.
(2) 842 B.C. Salmanasar II, in his eighteenth year, receives tribute from Jehu.
(3) 738 B.C. Theglathphalasar III (Phul, 2 Kings 15:19 ) receives, in his eighth year, tribute from Manahem.
(4) 733-2 B. C. War between Theglathphalasar and Rasin of Syria ; siege of Damascus. "Joachaz of Juda ", i.e. Achz, brings presents from Theglathphalasar. Conquest of Israelitish territory by Theglathphalasar.
(5) 731-0 (?) B. C. "Pakacha", i.e. Phacee (Hebr. Pekach ), is killed, and "Ausi", i.e. Osee, is set over Israel by Theglathphalasar.
(6) 722-1 B. C. Samaria is taken possession of, in the early part of Sargon's reign, by the Assyrians.
B. From Scripture. --
(1) Towards the end of Solomon's reign, Jeroboam I fled into Egypt to Sesac. In the fifth year of the reign of Roboam, Jerusalem was plundered by the same Sesac ( 1 Kings 11:40 ; 14:25 ). Sesac I probably reigned about 940-19 B.C.
(2) In, or shortly before, the fifteenth year of Asa's riign, " Zara the Ethiopian " (Hebr. Zerach ) declared war against Asa (II Par. [A. V. II Chron.), xiv, 9; cf. xv, 10 sqq.]. Some commentators think that Zara was a king of Egypt, namely, Osorkon I or II. The first was the successor of Sesac I. The second cannot be placed chronologically.
(3) Benadad II ( 1 Kings 20:1 ), the contemporary of Salmanasar II, was contemporary with Achab and Joram of Israel. Joram died during the reign of Benadad's successor, Hazael. According to Assyrian sources. Benadad was, in 846, still King of Syria.
(4) Hazael, who, according to Assyrian inscriptions, was already ruling in 842, was contemporary with Jehu, Joas of Juda, and Joachaz of Israel ( 2 Kings 13:22 ). In 803, Ramman-nirari III conquered Damascus under the Syrian King Mari, who was possibly the Biblical Benadad (III), contemporary of Joas of Israel (ibid., v, 25).
(5) Manahem honours Phul, King of the Assyrians, with presents ( 2 Kings 15:19-20 ). That Phul is identical with Theglathphalasar III is apparent enough from the fact that, in the year 729, according to Assyrian inscriptions, Tukultiapalisarra, and Babylonian inscriptions Pulu, becomes King of Babylon, and that this same king, according to the same sources, died in 727.
(6) Phacee and Rasin, King of Syria, besiege Achaz at Jerusalem ( 2 Kings 16:5 ). Achaz calls Theglathphalasar to his assistance (ibid., v. 8).
(7) Damascus is taken by Theglathphalasar, and Rasin is killed ( 2 Kings 16:9 ). Achaz visits Theglathphalasar at Damascus (ibid., v, 10).
(8) Theglathphalasar, during the reign of Phacee, takes possession of Israel's territory. Phacee is conspired against and slain by Osee, and the latter becomes king ( 2 Kings 15:29, 30 ).
(9) Salmanasar beleaguers Samaria, which, in the third year of the siege, the sixth of Ezechias, and the ninth of Osee, is taken by the Assyrians ( 2 Kings 17:5, 6 ; 18:10, 11 ). Salmanasar reigned from January, 726, to January, 721. Sua (or Seve), mentioned in 2 Kings 17:4 , as "king of Egypt ", is not identified with certainty. Some think him to be Sabaka, whose chronology, as also that of Theraca ( 2 Kings 19:9 ), has not been determined. Under Sargon of Assyria is mentioned, in the year 707, one Sib'u, or Sib'e, as "prince [ turtan , or sultan] of Musri".
(10) Ezechias received, in or shortly after his fourteenth year, an embassy from Merodach-Baladan (D. V. Berodach Baladan), who was King of Babylon from 721 to 710, and again, for 9 months, in 703. See 2 Kings 20:1, 6, 12 .
(11) Sennacherib of Assyria besieged Ezechias at Jerusalem. The date given for this event, "in the fourteenth year of King Ezechias " ( 2 Kings 18:13 ; and Isaiah 36:1 ) is either misplaced or incorrect. The event took place, according to 2 Kings 20:6 , after the recovery of Ezechias in his fourteenth year (i.e. fifteen years before his death), and after the arrival of the Babylonian embassy.
(12) Death of Josias in a combat with Nechao, King of Egypt ( 2 Kings 23:29 ). Nechao (Necho II) ascended the throne in 610.
(13) Battle near Carchemish (Charcamis, Karchemis) between Nechao and Nabuchodonosor of Babylon in the fourth year of Joakim ( Jeremiah 46:2 ; cf. 25:1 ; and 2 Kings 24:1 ). According to the account of Berosus in Flavius Josephus, Nabuchodonosor, after having slaughtered the Egyptian army near Carchemish, marched on to Syria and Palestine in order to invade Egypt. Arrived at the confines of this country, he received the news of the death of his father, Nabopolassar. Returning to Babel to assume his administration, he confided the Jewish, Phoenician, and Syrian prisoners of war to the chiefs of his army. In consequence of this Juda also rose in revolt against him (cf. 2 Chronicles 36:6 ; and Daniel 1:1 ). Nabopolassar died in the beginning of the summer of 605 B.C. The fourth year of Joakim is in Jer., xxv, 1, designated as the first year of Nabuchodonosor, and, according to v. 3 of the same, was the twenth-third after the thirteenth year of Josias.
(14) Nabuchodonosor takes Joachin (Jechonias) as a prisoner to Babylon, according to Jer., lii, 28, in the seventh, according to 2 Kings 24:12 , in the eighth year of his reign. Chapter lii, 28-34, in Jeremias, follows the Babylonian manner of dating (post-dating), whereas the other texts count the initial year of any reign as the first. According to Babylonian dating, the first year of Nabuchodonosor was 604, but, according to Israelitish dating, it was 605. Jer., lii, 31, "In the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Joachin, king of Juda, in the twelfth month, the five and twentieth day of the month, Evilmerodach king of Babylon, in the first year of his reign (i.e. 562 B.C. ), lifted up the head of Joachin, king of Juda, and brought him forth out of prison " (incorporated in 2 Kings 25:27 ), evidently follows the Babylonian dating. All these datings point to 598 as the year when Joachin was carried away.
(15) In his eighth year, or the beginning of his ninth year, Sedecias revolted against Nabuchodonosor and called to his assistance Egypt, namely, the newly elevated Pharao Hophra (D. V. Ephree), who ascended the throne in 589 (probably the first half of the year) — 2 Kings 24:20 (cf. 25:1 ); Jer., xxxvii, 4 (A. V. xxxvii, 5); xliv, 30; Ezech., xvii, 15.
(16) The siege of Jerusalem began in the tenth month of the ninth year of Sedecias ( 2 Kings 25:1 ; Jeremiah 34:1 ; 52:4 ). According to Jer., xxxii, 1, the tenth year of Sedecias coincides with the eighteenth of Nabuchodonosor. Jerusalem was taken in the eleventh year of Sedecias, the nineteenth year of Nabuchodonosor, in the fourth month ( 2 Kings 25:8 ; Jeremiah 52:12 ). According to Babylonian chronology, this was the eighteenth year of Nabuchodonosor ( Jeremiah 52:29 ).
(17) The fourth month of the eleventh year of Sedecias falls in the nineteenth year ( Israelitish chronology ) of Nabuchodonosor. From this it appears that the fourth month (Thammuz) of the first year of Sedecias falls in the ninth year of Nabuchodonosor. As Joachin's abduction took place in the eighth year of Nabuchodonosor, it is very probable that Sedecias became king in this, the eighth year.
From the present uncertainty as to the dates of accession it follows that the precise year B.C. in which any king began his reign cannot, in most cases, be determined. The inexactness is increased by the fact that the duration of any one reign is given in round numbers of years, so that, in the absence of any determining data, it is impossible to know whether the time is too long or too short by a fraction of a year. We have, therefore, to consider the dates B.C. here given as--within a year, earlier or later--more or less inaccurate. Dates marked with an asterisk (*) may, however, be regarded as reasonably exact.
The inaccuracies in the chronology of the Bible are attributable to various causes. In many cases they are due to would-be "corrections" on the part of the copyists, who did not understand certain passages or sought to bring certain dates into agreement with an error of long standing. Thus the discrepancy of twenty years excess in the reign of Azarias has also been carried through the synchronisms of the Israelitish kings, Zacharias, etc. The synchronistic comparisons between Joatham, Achaz, and Ezechias, on the one hand, and Phacee and Osee, on the other, form a very inaccurate combination, brought into the Bible by the speculations of successive copyists and commentators.
The statement, tolerably accurate chronologically, concerning the beginning of Osee's reign, "in the twentieth year of Joatham" ( 2 Kings 15:30 ), who, be it noted, only reigned sixteen years (v. 33), seems to have originated with some one who did not wish to mention the godless Achaz. The twenty years of the reign of Phacee, in whose second year Joatham became king, stand in relation to the twentieth year of Joatham like cause and effect. The synchronisms of Ezechias with Osee got into the Bible through the undoubtedly genuine "twelfth year of Achaz ", during which Osee became an independent king, by means of the following arithmetical calculation:--
Phacee became king in the 52nd year of Azarias.
Achaz " " ""17th "" Phacee.
Osee " "" "12th ""Achaz
Total81 years to Osee.
Azarias reigned 52 years
Achaz "16 "
Total 84 years to Ezechias.
Subtract 81 years to Osee
There remain 3 years of Osee till Ezechias became king.
That the reverse is not the case, that is, that the twelfth year of Achaz is not the result of a calculation, is shown by the fact that the other possible calculations would produce the fourth, and not the twelfth, year of Achaz. The other reckonings are as follows:--
52 years of Azarias 52 years of Azarias.
20 ""Phacee 16 ""Joatham.
Total 72" toOsee 68" toAchaz.
There remain4" of Achaz when Osee becomes king.
The year 68 of Azarias=17 Phacee=16 Joatham=0 Achaz.
4 4 4 4
The year 72 of Azarias=21 Phacee=20 Joatham=4 Achaz =1 Osee.
From this it appears that not the "twelfth year of Achaz ", but the "twentieth year of Joatham", is
(1) That which is added, II Par., xxx, 5-9, 11, 25; and xxxi, 1, about the first year of Ezechias, was not possible while a king ruled in the kingdom of the Ten Tribes.
(2) If Ezechias became king six or seven years before the capture of Samaria, consequently in 728-7, then his reign of twenty-nine years must have ended in 69908, and his recovery must have taken place fifteen years before, about 713. On this occasion the promise is made to Ezechias that he and his city Jerusalem shall be delivered "out of the hand of the king of the Assyrians " ( 2 Kings 20:6 ). This king was Sennacherib, who ascended the throne only in 705, while this event, according to Assyrian sources, took place not earlier than 701. There is no ground for assuming that strained relations existed between Ezechias and Sargon (722-705), who, nevertheless, just about 713, was engaged with the Philistines, and in 711 conquered Azotus (cf. Isaiah 20:1 ). The cause of serious animosity between Ezechias and Assyria was evidently the embassy of Merodach-Baladin, who had no relations whatever with the King of Juda, and who did not send to him a magnificent embassy to congratulate him on his recovery without some ulterior motive. We cannot but regard this as an expression of the unfriendly attitude towards the Assyrians which was favoured by Ezechias. This is the light in which we can understand the war of the Assyrian against Juda. But cause and effect must be connected according to time. As to the year 713 or shortly afterwards (for the delivery of Ezechias ), there can, then, be no discussion. The year 703 is probably correct; Merodach-Baladan had then regained the throne of Babylon, and Sennacherib already ruled in Assyria. Thus the recovery of Ezechias would have taken place in about 704. While this would be his fourteenth year, 718-7 would then be his first, which calculation also agrees with other data. Cf. Winckler, "Alttest. Unters.", 135.
(3) If Ezechias became king in 728-7, then Achaz could not have reigned more than seven or eight years, and in this case the father would at most have been only seven years older than the son (cf. what follows). For a joint reign of Ezechias and Achaz is out of the question, and the supposition that Ezechias was not his son is, in view of 2 Kings 18:1 , and 2 Chronicles 28:27 , without sufficient basis. Neither can another interpretation of the word son , accepted a number of times in the Books of Kings by Herzog, be considered a fortunate hypothesis.
By the anticipation of the twenty-nine years' reign of Ezechias there resulted a shortage of ten years which has probably been made up by lengthening the reign of Manasses by ten years.
The year 730 as the beginning of Osee's reign is, according to Biblical statistics, reasonably certain. For in his sixth or seventh year, and in the twelfth year of Achaz, he rose against Salmanasar ( 2 Kings 18:9 ; cf. 17:4 ), and in his sixth year Samaria was taken. The year 722-1 being the ninth, 730 is consequently the first. The Assyrian account of the death of Phacee and the nomination of Oseeis usually placed by Assyriologists at about 734-732, since Theglathphalasar was not in Palestine again after 732. This reason is, however, not convincing. The course of events after 735-4 is probably as follows. The anti- Assyrian party in Palestine, of which Rasin of Damascus was the head and moving spirit, organized an uprising and endeavoured to draw the other nations into it. Hence the alliance between Rasin and Phacee against Juda, which declined to participate in the uprising, and their endeavour, on the death of Joatham, to keep his son Achaz from the throne. Achaz appealed to Theglathphalasar for assistance. The latter immediately made for his object, namely, the subjection of Syria and the conquest of Damascus, without neglecting to occupy also the surrounding districts which belonged to Israel. Cf. 2 Kings 16:7-9 ; and 15:29 . After the fall of Damascus in the summer of 732, Tyre and Israel must have been conquered, but, when winter approached, Theglathphalasar turned all further operations over to his rabsak (whom he, according to his own inscriptions, dispatched against Tyre ), and retired to Ninive. The territory of Israel was taken possession of, perhaps partly while the monarch was still in command; but before Samaria could be taken, Osee, supported by the Assyrian party, had executed his stroke and caused Phacee to fall. Various circumstances assign the subjection of Tryre, Israel, and Ascalon to 731-30, and the appointment of Osee as Assyrian vassal king over Israel need not be placed before 730. (Cf. Winckler, op. cit., 132 sqq).
The chronology of the kings of Juda, as approximately determined above, has still to be compared with their ages at the commencement of their respective reigns--given in Holy Scripture for most of them. If we assume that, in the co-regencies which we have considered, the age at the beginning of the co-administration is indicated, we arrive at about the following dates of birth:--
The variants 42, 20, and 8, in connection with Ochozias, Achaz, and Joachin, must be considered as erroneous.
The year 774 in connection with Joatham is impossible, because his father was born in 783. In order to avoid other difficulties, we shall, in connection with Joatham, write 15 instead of 25 (years old when he began to reign). The year of his birth thus becomes 764. By this Achaz, who is supposed to have been born in 758 (or 753), reaches into the same period, however. Let us here, also, write 15 instead of 25. Now Achaz is born in 748. But, in this case, Ezechias cannot have been born in 742. If we again change the 25 years, in the case of Ezechias, to 15, then the year of his birth becomes 732. (If we suppose the reign of Ezechias to begin in 728-7, there is no way of accounting for Ezechias as the son of Achaz.) The confusion in the duration of the various reigns of the period was responsible for the increase in the different life-times. The change from the singular `eser (ten) to the plural `esrim (twenty) was but a step.
More errors need not be supposed in the enumerative statement of the various ages. In the above list only the following changes have to be made: Joatham 764; Achaz, 748; Ezechias, 732.
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