We're making big changes. Please try out the beta site at beta.ccel.org and send us feedback. Thank you!
« Prev Note on the Chronology of the First Book of Kings Next »

500

NOTE ON THE CHRONOLOGY OF THE FIRST BOOK OF KINGS.

I have not thought it worth while to trouble the reader with conjectures or corrections of the text, intended to remove the numerous and obvious discrepancies which the redactor of the Book of Kings leaves uncorrected in his references to the synchronism of the reigns.791791   See W. Robertson Smith, Journ. of Philology, x. 20. Many of them are removed or modified when we bear in mind that, e.g., Nadab and Elah and Ahaziah are described as reigning "two years" each (xv. 25, xvi. 8, xxii. 51), whereas the reign of each may not have exceeded a year, or even a few months, if these months came at the end of one year and the beginning of another. Periods of anarchic interregnum, or of association of a son with his father on the throne, may account for other confusions and contradictions; but they are purely conjectural, and in some cases far from probable. Jerome, as is well known, gave up all attempts to harmonise the chronologic data as a hopeless problem. "Relege," he says, "omnes et veteris et novi Testamenti libros, et tantam annorum reperies dissonantiam ut hujuscemodi hærere quæstionibus non tam studiosi quam otiosi hominis esse videatur."

The Assyrians were, for the most part (though, as Schrader shows, not always), as scrupulously exact in501 their chronological details as the Jews were careless in theirs. The cuneiform inscriptions give us the following data, which may be regarded as points de repère, and which are not reconcilable with the received dates:—

  b.c.
Battle of Karkar, in which Ahab and Benhadad
were defeated
854
Jehu pays tribute to Shalmanezer II. 842
Menahem tributary to Assyria 738
Fall of Samaria 722
Sennacherib's Invasion 701

These dates do not accord with those which we should derive from the Book of Kings in the ordinary system of chronology, which seem to fix the Fall of Samaria in 737.

The dates of the later Kings of Assyria seem to be as follows:—

  b.c.
Rimmon-Nirari III. 810
Shalmanezer III. 781
Assur-dân IV. 771
Tiglath-Pileser III. (Pul, a usurper) 745
Shalmanezer IV. 727
Sargon 722
Sennacherib 705
Esar-haddon I. 681
Assur-bani-pal 668
 
Destruction of Nineveh 606

Adding up the separate data of this book for the kings of Israel we have from Jeroboam to the death of Joram ninety-eight years seven days; and for the same period of the kings of Judah from Rehoboam to Ahaziah we have ninety-five years. Supposing that some such502 errors as we have indicated have crept into the computation, the dates of the reigns may be, as reckoned by Kittel:—

  b.c.
Saul 1037-1017
David 1017-977
Solomon 977-937
Jeroboam I. 937-915
Nadab 915-914
Baasha 914-890
Elah 890-889
Zimri 889
Omri 889-877
Ahab 877-855
Ahaziah 855-854
Jehoram 854-842
 
Rehoboam 937-920
Abijah 920-917
Asa 917-876
Jehoshaphat 876-851
Joram 851-843
Ahaziah 843-842

From Phœnician inscriptions (recorded in the Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum) little of historical importance has hitherto been reaped.

In the Egyptian monuments there is nothing which illustrates the period of the Kings except the inscription of Sheshonk recording his invasion in the days of Rehoboam, of which I have given some account (p. 315).

The Assyrian inscriptions, to which allusion is made in their place, are of extreme importance and interest, and from the lists of kings we have good details of chronology. The best book on their bearing upon503 Hebrew history is that of Schrader, Die Keilinschriften und d. Alte Testament, 1883.

On the datum of four hundred and eighty years from the Exodus to the building of the Temple, I have already touched. It does not agree with Acts xiii. 20, nor with the Book of Judges. The LXX. reads "four hundred and forty." It is almost certainly a late and erroneous chronological gloss derived in very simple fashion, thus:—The wanderings forty years, Joshua forty years, Othniel forty years, Ehud eighty years, Jabin twenty years, Barak forty years, Gideon forty years, the Philistines forty years, Samson twenty years, Samuel forty years, Saul forty years, David forty years = four hundred and eighty, or twelve generations of forty years.

But the same result was arrived at with equal empiricism by omitting the episodes of heathen dominations (Jabin and the Philistines), and only adding up the years assigned to the Judges, and the four years of Solomon's reign before he began to build the Temple, thus:—Othniel forty years, Ehud eighty years, Barak forty years, Gideon forty years, Tola twenty-three years, Jair twenty-two years, Jephthah six years, Ibzan seven years, Elom ten years, Abdon eight years, Samson twenty years = two hundred and ninety-six.

Eli forty years, Samuel twenty years (1 Sam. vii. 15), David forty years, Solomon four = one hundred and four. Add to the four hundred the two generations of the wanderings and Joshua, and we again have four hundred and eighty; but quite as arbitrarily, for the period of Saul is omitted.792792   See Reuss, Hist. d'Israel, i. 101-103.

The problems of early Hebrew chronology cannot yet be regarded as even approximately solved.


« Prev Note on the Chronology of the First Book of Kings Next »



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |