Questions Concerning Time
Since writing the article Time is Short in 1995, several queries concerning Bible Chronology have come in. I trust that the following answers will prove helpful.
1. Please supply more detail concerning Abraham’s year of birth
The texts I use to arrive at Abraham’s year of birth are as follows:
|“And Nahor lived nine and twenty years, and begat Terah:”|
|“And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.”|
|32: And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.|
|4: Then came he (Abraham) out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell.|
|4: So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.|
|Terah (Abraham’s father)|
|See article Time is Short as to how I arrived at Terah‘s year of birth in||= 1878|
|Terah begat his firstborn son when he was 70 years. (Genesis 11:26) This was in year 1878 + 70||= 1948|
|Was Abraham Terah’s firstborn? We are about to find out.|
|Terah died in Haran at the age of 205 years (Genesis 11:52), which was year 1878 + 205||= 2083|
|Abraham then left Haran, that is after his father Terah’s death (Acts 7:4) in year||= 2083|
|In that year (2083) Abraham was 75 years old. (Genesis 12:4) Therefore Abraham was born 75 years before 2083, which was year 2083 – 75||= 2008|
|Had Abraham been Terah’s firstborn, he would have been born when Terah was 70 years (Genesis 11:26) which would have been in year 1878 (Terah’s birth year) + 70||= 1948|
IF Abraham had been born in year A.M. 1948 (Terah’s 70th year) he would have been 135 years at his father’s death in 2083 (2083 – 1948 = 135). But the Bible plainly states that Abraham was 75 years old when he left Haran after his father’s death. Therefore I conclude that Abraham was not Terah’s firstborn. Terah’s firstborn was probably Haran (Lot’s father) who died in the land of the Chaldees before his father Terah (Genesis 11:28). We are also told that Abram’s brother Nahor (who is mentioned second) married his brother Haran’s daughter, Milcah (Genesis 11:29). So Haran was a lot older than both his brothers Nahor and Abraham.
What do I conclude from the above? I conclude that Abraham was born in year 2008 and that he was not Terah’s firstborn. Abraham is mentioned first in Genesis 11:26 because he was in the Messianic line, not because he was the firstborn. Another example of where the firstborn is not mentioned first is in Genesis 10:21: “Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children born …” As in the case of Abraham, Shem is mentioned first in Genesis 10:1 simply because he is in the Messianic line: but it also clearly states that Japheth was the elder.
2. In your article Time Is Short you calculate the 430 years from Abraham’s call. Why?
The Apostle Paul writes in Galations 3:17:
“And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.”
In other words: Yahweh’s law (written at Sinai) was unable to disannul (make void, invalidate, over-rule) the covenant made 430 years previously.
My answer to the question is: I used Abraham’s call date because most Bible chronologists start the 430 year count from Abraham’s call when the patriarch was 75 years old. The objective of the article Time is Short was to highlight the fact that we are approaching the 6000 year mark. Mentioning an alternative date in that article would not have helped reach that objective: it may well have provoked an unnecessary argument. But now that the question has been asked, I’ll answer it in some detail.
There is another starting date, which specifically mentions an everlasting covenant God made with Abraham. This covenant was made when Abram was 99 years old, that is in year 2008 + 99 = year 2107. In that year Yahweh made an everlasting covenant with Abraham. I quote the entire passage concerning this everlasting covenant.
|1: And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
2: And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
3: And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
4: As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
5: Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
6: And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
7: And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
8: And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
9: And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.
10: This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.
11: And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.
12: And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.
13: He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
14: And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.
15: And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.
16: And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.
17: Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?
18: And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!
19: And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.
20: And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.
21: But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.
22: And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.
23: And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him.
24: And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.
25: And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.
26: In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son.
27: And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him.
We can see from this passage that Yahweh made an everlasting covenant with Abraham and his seed when the patriarch was ninety nine years old: which was in year 2008 + 99 = 2107. This was 24 years after Abraham, when 75 years old, was called out of Ur of the Chaldees. It means that were we add 430 years to the covenant year 2107 we would arrive at an Exodus/Law year of 2107 + 430 = AM 2537.
Our amended chronological chart would then read as follows:
|Everlasting Covenant between God and Abraham (Genesis 17)||2008 + 99||= 2107|
|The Law was given 430 years after the covenant (Galatians 3:17)||2107 + 430||= 2537|
I will use the everlasting covenant date of 2107 when answering questions 3 to 6: even though it is not the popular choice of Christian chronologists who – perhaps – have misgivings about its eternal reference to circumcision, the physical sign of the covenant.
3. How can we prove that from the law to the temple was 480 years?
It plainly states in 1 Kings 6:1 that building operations of the Temple began 480 years after the children of Israel came out of Egypt; which was a just a few weeks before the law was given at Sinai. To prove this fact – if indeed further proof were needed – I give the following breakdown, taken from J.B. Dimbleby’s book All Past Time.
|Deut.2:7, Deut:29:5||Israel’s wandering in the wilderness||= 40 years|
|Joshua died aged 110 after judging for 16 years plus a 4 year lapse||= 20 years|
|Judges 3:8||Chushan-rishathaim oppression||= 8 years|
|Judges 3:11||Othniel delivered Israel. 40 years rest.||= 40 years|
|Judges 3:14||Moabite oppression||= 18 years|
|Judges 3:30||Ehud / Shamgar judged Israel||= 80 years|
|Judges 4:3||Canaanite oppression||= 20 years|
|Judges 6:1||Midian oppression||= 7 years|
|Judges 8:28||Gideon judged Israel||= 40 years|
|Judges 9:22||Abimelech rules||= 3 years|
|Judges 10:2||Tolu judged Israel||= 23 years|
|Judges 10:3||Jair judged Israel||= 22 years|
|Judges 10:8||Philistine/Ammonite oppression||= 18 years|
|Judges 12:7||Jepthah in North East, Eli in S.W.||= 6 years|
|Judges 12:8-9||Ibzan in North East, Eli in S.W.||= 7 years|
|Judges 12:11||Elon in North East, Eli in S.W.||= 10 years|
|Judges 12:13-14||Abdon in North East, Eli in S.W.||= 8 years|
|1 Samuel 4:18||Eli in S.W.||= 7 years|
|Acts 13:21||Samuel the priest, his first 20 years||= 20 years|
|Samuel’s last 18 years, judged jointly with Saul||= 40 years|
|2 Samuel 5:4||David’s reign||= 40 years|
|1 Kings 6:1||First 3 years of Solomon’s reign||= 3 years|
TOTAL = 480 years
4. How long was it between the starting date of Solomon’s temple and the captivity of Judah?
Solomon began building the Temple in Jerusalem in the 4th of his 40 year reign. To answer this question, therefore, we will need to take a close look at the reigns (not the life-spans) of all the Kings of Judah. The following details are obtained from the Bible alone.
|1 Kings 6:1||Solomon remainder of his reign||36 years|
|1 Kings 14:21||Rehoboam reigned||17 years|
|1 Kings 15:2||Abijah reigned||3 years|
|2 Chronicles 16:13||Asa reigned||41 years|
|1 Kings 22:42||Jehoshaphat reigned||25 years|
|2 Kings 8:17||Jehoram reigned||8 years|
|2 Kings 8:24||Ahaziah reigned||1 year|
|2 Kings 11:1-3||Athalia reigned||6 years|
|2 Kings 12:1-3||Joash reigned||40 years|
|2 Kings 14:1-2||Amaziah reigned||29 years|
|2 Kings 15:1-2||Uzziah reigned||52 years|
|2 Kings 15:32-33||Jotham reigned||16 years|
|2 Kings 16:1-2||Ahaz reigned||16 years|
|2 Kings 18:1-2||Hezekiah reigned||29 years|
|2 Kings 21:1||Manasseh reigned||55 years|
|2 Kings 21:19||Amon reigned||2 years|
|2 Kings 22:1-2||Josiah reigned||31 years|
|2 Kings 23:31||Jehoahaz reigned only 3 months|
|2 Kings 23:31||Jehoiakim reigned||11 years|
|2 Kings 24:8||Jehoiachin reigned only 3 months|
|2 Kings 24:18||Zedekiah reigned||11 years|
TOTAL = 429 years
In short, Judah’s 70 year captivity began 429 years after the Temple building operations began.
5. How many years elapsed between the end of Judah’s 70 year captivity and the arrival of the Messiah? Please give Bible Proof.
Chronologists generally refer to secular sources to provide an answer to this question. But a growing number of believers are requesting proof from the Bible alone; simply because secular sources are neither reliable nor readily available to millions of Christians. Besides, secular sources mostly disagree with each other.
I certainly agree with your observation: ‘Why, indeed, should a Bible student have to rely on a secular source to prove any Bible teaching?’ In order to answer your question – with Bible proof – I will need to refer to a prophecy in the book of Daniel which spells out the time – in years – when the Messiah would come. Towards the end of Judah’s 70 year captivity we are told that the prophet Daniel set his face towards God “to seek by prayer and supplication, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes” for understanding of the Almighty’s plan for His people. I quote the passage in which the angel of the Lord opens up Daniel’s understanding.
|22: And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.
23: At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.
24: Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
25: Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
You will see from the above that the Messiah’s arrival was to be “seven weeks, and three score and two weeks (of years, that is 483 years) from the going forth of the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.” Therefore to arrive at the year the Messiah would come we simply add 483 years to the end date of Judah’s 70 year captivity. The commandment to restore and rebuild the Temple of God in Jerusalem is found in the book of Ezra. It was given when Judah’s 70 year captivity ended. I quote:
|1: Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
2: Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
3: Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.
4: And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.
5: Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem.
6: And all they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, beside all that was willingly offered.
7: Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods;
8: Even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah.
9: And this is the number of them: thirty chargers of gold, a thousand chargers of silver, nine and twenty knives,
10: Thirty basons of gold, silver basons of a second sort four hundred and ten, and other vessels a thousand.
11: All the vessels of gold and of silver were five thousand and four hundred. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up with them of the captivity that were brought up from Babylon unto Jerusalem.
Bear in mind that this decree by Cyrus was passed at the end of Judah’s 70 year captivity. It was issued in direct fulfilment of Jeremiah’s prophecy. (Jeremiah 25:11, 29:10 and Daniel 9:2) As I am unable – from Bible data alone – to date any other decree concerning the restoration of Jerusalem and the Temple, I will use the captivity end-date, when Cyrus issued his decree, to begin the 483 count. See the answer to question 6 for the full count.
6. In the article Time is Short you say that the Messiah (Jesus) was born about 4000 years after the creation. Please give Bible Proof.
You will see from the answers to Questions 1-5 how I arrived at the dates of Abraham’s birth, the giving of the Law, Solomon’s Temple and also the total number of years the Kings of Judah reigned. It now remains to prove – from the Bible alone – when Messiah the Prince (Jesus Christ) would come. To do this I will use the Temple starting date of AM 3017, even though it is not the popular choice of most Bible chronologists. I do this because:
- Paul’s statement in Galations 3:17 clearly states that the law came 430 years after the covenant. Therefore we must identify a dated covenant in order to do this calculation.
- Abraham’s Call – though dated (for Abraham was 75 at the time) – is not a covenant.
- The covenant mentioned in Genesis 15 is undated, so we cannot calculate from it.
- The only DATED COVENANT I am able to find between God and Abraham is the one recorded in Genesis 17. It provides full details of an everlasting covenant between Yahweh and the patriarch and his Seed. It also provides the date (AM 2107), when Abraham was 99 years old. This date is not used by most Christian chronologists, perhaps because circumcision, the physical sign of the covenant is seen as a stumbling block. But as far as proving the date of Messiah’s arrival – from the Bible alone – this date (AM 2107) is invaluable. So I will use it to answer the question.
Now let us begin our count to the arrival of YESHUA THE MESSIAH (JESUS THE CHRIST). I shall use A.M. (anno mundi) years throughout as B.C. years may confuse the reader.
|From the Creation to Terah (Abraham’s father’s) birth, see article Time is Short||AM 1656|
|Abraham’s year of birth (see Question 1)||AM 2008|
|Everlasting Covenant made when Abraham was 99 years old. (see Question 2)||AM 2107|
|Law given 430 years after the everlasting covenant (see Question 2)||AM 2537|
|Temple started 480 years after the law was given at Sinai. (see Question 3)||AM 3017|
|Total reigns of the Kings of Judah … 429 years: Captivity begins. (see Question 4)||AM 3446|
|Judah’s 70 year Captivity prophesied by Jeremiah (25:11-12, 29:10, Daniel 9:2)||AM 3516|
|Messiah would come 483 years after the Captivity ended. (see Question 5)||AM 3999|
Bible chronologists differ by a few years as to the creation date. In the early 18th century Archbishop Ussher of Amagh, Ireland, calculated that creation occurred in B.C. 4004. In his book ALL PAST TIME, J.B.Dimbleby, astronomer and historian calculated that the Saviour was born in A.M.3996, a difference of 8 years. The Christian mathematician Ivan Panin arrived at the year A.M. 3999. In other words, give or take a few years – allowing for a slight miscalculation when dealing with the reigns of the Kings of Judah, or a difference in prophetic interpretation, all these believers are saying that THE MESSIAH, (JESUS CHRIST) was born about 4000 years after the creation. This means that IF our assumption is correct, that Yahweh the Almighty God of Israel is working to His Sabbatical Principle, in which every sixth period of time is followed by a seventh period of rest, a Sabbath! then the coming millennium (the Sabbath Rest of God), could well begin within the next eight years! In view of these facts we do well to hearken to the warning words of the Apostle Peter.
2 Peter 3:
|1: This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:
2: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:
3: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
4: And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
5: For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
6: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
7: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
8: But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
9: The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
10: But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
11: Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
12: Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
Author: David B Loughran
Stewarton Bible School, Stewarton, Scotland