THE BIBLICAL CALENDAR OF HISTORY
Written by: Camping, Harold Posted on: 05/06/2003
Category: Bible Studies
THE BIBLICAL CALENDAR
by Harold Camping
A Chronological Record of Events
According to the Holy Bible
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
<1> The Clue Phrase "Called His Name'
<2> An Ancient Calendar
<3> Calendar Confirmation from Egypt
<4> Aaron's was the Fourth Generation
<5> The First Civilization
<6> The Confusion of Tongues
<7> Egypt Becomes a Great Civilzation
<8> Writing and the Tower of Babel
<10> A Calendar of Events in Biblical History
The Chronological Sequence During the Egyptian Sojourn
Historical Timetable of Pharaohs and Dynasties
Chronology of the Judges
Note on Oppression by Heathen Power
Chronological Table of the Kings of the Divided Kingdom
. Chapters 5 and 11 of the book of Genesis have long been a seemingly
insurmountable obstacle to students of the Bible. Inasmuch as they
begin with Adam and end with Abraham, they have their roots in creation
and their outreach into the era of the great civilizations of Babylon and
Egypt, which flourished during Abraham's day. They therefore tantalize the
scholar who is trying to reconstruct past history. Unfortunately, because a
solution to an understanding of these chapters has not been forthcoming, the
events embraced within their scope -- creation, the fall of man, the
Noachian flood -- are likewise often looked upon as accounts impervious to
Bishop Ussher's attempt to understand these chronological notices has
only worsened matters. His conclusions that Adam's date was 4004 B.C.,
the flood date was 2349 B.C. and that the Israelites spent 215 years in
Egypt, agree neither with the Biblical nor the secular evidence.
. But these chapters of Genesis are a part of the Word of God, and
therefore they must be true and dependable. The question is, can they be
rightly understood? I would be so presumptuous as to suggest a solution to
these chronologies. This solution will be compared with some of the
pertinent archaeological evidence.
The Clue Phrase "Called His Name"
. In Genesis 4 and 5 we read of the birth of Enosh to Seth. Why did God
use different language in describing this event in Genesis 4 than in Genesis
5? In Genesis 4 "Seth called his name Enosh" (Gen. 4:26). But in Chapter 5
the Bible says," Seth begat Enosh" (Gen.5:6). Why did God use the phrase
"called his name" (ASV) in connection with Enosh's birth in Genesis 4
when He did not in Genesis 5? It is obvious that the phrase "Seth begat
Enosh, " or "Methuselah begat Lamech," did not insure that Enosh was the
immediate son of Seth or Lamech or Methuselah. Many instances can be found
where a father-son relationship appears to be indicated and yet other
Scriptural evidence points to more distant ancestry. Matthew 1:1,, where
Jesus is referred to as the son David, and David, the son Abraham, is
. A more careful examination of the Scriptures reveals why the phrase
"called his name" which is the Hebrew qara', was used. In every place where
this phrase is employed, there can be no doubt of the existing
relationship: invariably it is indicative of parent and child. Thus
the Bible says, for example, "Abraham called the name of his
son...Isaac" (Gen. 21:3), "...so they called his name Esau" (Gen. 25:25),
"a virgin shall conceive and shall call his name Immanuel" (Isa. 7:14). In
every instance where this "clue" phrase appears one may be certain that an
immediate son is being described and not a more remote descendant.
. God's use of this "clue" phrase thus assures one that Seth was the
immediate son of Adam (Gen. 4:24), Enosh of Seth (Gen. 4:26), and Noah of his
father, Lamech (Gen. 5:29).
. But what about the rest of the names appearing in these
genealogies under discussion? Two are decipherable. Other Biblical
evidence shows clearly that Shem was the immediate son of Noah, even though
the phrase "called his name" is not used.(1) The Bible shows, too, by other
information that when Terah was 130 he became the father of Abram.(2) But in
the case of all of the other names listed in these chapters there is no
Biblical evidence of any kind that points to an immediate father-son
relationship. In fact, there is internal evidence within these accounts that
points to other than immediate father-son relationships.(3)
An Ancient Calendar
. In further reflection upon this situation, two Biblical notices
should be examined. The first is that of Genesis 7 and 8, where the dates of
the flood events are referenced to the age of Noah. Thus Gen. 8:13 records,
"in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the
month, the waters....," etc. Gen. 7:6 indicates to us that the six hundred
years was the age of Noah when the flood came. Could the calendars of
ancient peoples have been tied to the life spans of certain individuals?
. The second notice is that of the New Testament where Christ declared
"this generation will not pass away until all these things take place"
(Matt. 24:34). In this reference Christ is speaking of events that would
take place just before His return. He is therefore insisting "this
generation" would continue at least for almost two thousand years, for this
much time has now elapsed, and all of the events of which he was
prophesying in Matthew 24 have not yet happened. As a matter of fact, this
is the generation of Jesus Christ. This is 1981 A.D. -- the year of our
Lord. The events of today are dated exactly as they were in Noah's day, by
reference to the birth day of a person.
. Since this method of dating events was practiced in Noah's day, was
suggested by Jesus Himself, and is actually the pratice use today, could
not this have been the method described in Genesis 5 and 11? Isn't it
possible that these accounts are a calendar giving the name of the patriarch
whose life span was the reference point at his period or generation in
history? This would make abundant sense, for this would provide for
continuity and clarity in historical reckoning.
Calendar Confirmation from Egypt
. God gives additional evidence to support this reasoning. In Exodus 6
God gives genealogical information concerning some of the descendants of
Jacob. The information given does not appear very meaningful to our present
day and age. But hidden amongst these verses are three numbers. The first
is found in verse 16 where it is stated that Levi's three sons were Gershon,
Kohath and Merari, and the years of Levi's life were 137. The second is in
the next verse, where it says Kohath's four sons were Amram, Ighar, Hebron
and Uzziel, and the years of Kohath's life were 133. The third is in verse
20, where it says Amram was married to Jochebed ande she bore him Moses and
Aaron, and the years of Amram's life were 137. At first reading, it appears
that Levi was the great grandfather, Kohath the grandfather, Amram the
father, and Moses and Aaron the sons. But is this so? There is no other
Biblical evidence that indicates this is the case, and there is no use
anywhere in the Bible of the phrase "called his name" in reference to these
men which would point to a immediate father-son relationship. But why would
God give the life spans of only three individuals amongst so many?
. To solve this puzzle, let us assume God is giving us the calendar
for the Israelitish sojourn in Egypt. One might recall that Jacob came to
Egypt with his sons including Levi, and that the Israelites went out of
Egypt under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Both Levi and Aaron are
mentioned in Exodus 6 and the age of Aaron at the time of Israel's departure
from Egypt is given as 83 (Exodus 7:7). It can be shown from the Bibical
references that when Levi entered Egypt he was 60+3 years of age, with the
burden of the evidence pointing to 60 years. Since he died at the age of 137,
he lived 77 years in Egypt. If this is a calendar giving the names of the
reference patriarchs or generations, we would expect that Kohath was a
descendant of Levi and was born the year of Levi's death: that Amram was a
descendant of Kohath, and that he was born the year of Kohath's death. Aaron
in turn was born the year of Amram's death, and was descended from Amram.
Let us add these time spans together:
Levi 77 years in Egypt
Kohath 137 years in Egypt
Amram 133 years in Egypt
Aaron 83 years in Egypt
430 years -- Total Time
Turning now to the Biblical record, we discover the following interesting
information. "Now the time that the children of Israel dwelt in Egypt
was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of four
hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the
hosts of Jehovah went out from the land of Egypt" (Ex. 12:40,41).
. God thus shows us clearly that the calendar used to record the passage of
time during the Egyptian sojourn was based on the lives of Levi and his
descendants, Kohath, Amram and Aaron. This explains too the prophecy given
to Abraham in Gen. 15:13-16, where he is told his descendants would be
oppressed 400 years in a land that was not theirs, and that they would return
to their own land in the fourth generation.
Aaron's was the Fourth Generation
. I believe that God in His wonderful wisdom has given us the key that
unlocks the hitherto perplexing genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11. These
chapters are a calendar. The time was divided into patriarchal periods or
generation, even as the New Testament period is the generation of Jesus
Christ, and as the Egyptian sojourn was so divided. Thus, for example,
when Methuselah died, bringing to an end his generation, a man who was born
in the year of Methuselah's death was selected to be the next reigning
patriarch, or at least the next man for calendar reference. After Methuselah,
this was Lamech. None of the conditions of his selection are given,
except that he had to be a descendant of Methuselah. The Bible indicates
that Methuselah was 187 years old when he begat Lamech: i.e., when he was
187 the forefather of Lamech was born to Methuselah (Gen. 5:25).
This notice establishes the certainty of Lamech's blood descent
from Methuselah by showing where his forefather tied into the life of
. The selection of the next patriarch had to include a birth date
coinciding with Methuselah's death date to insure a rational history. Had he
been born one or more years earlier an overlap would have occurred which
would have blurred history. If Lamech had been born one or more years kater
than Methuselah's death, a gap would have occurred which have confused
history. Therefore, when a citizen of the world of that day spoke of
an event occurring in the year Methuselah 950, only one year in history
answered to that date. Again, if he spoke of the year Lamech 2, only one
year answered to this date, and he knew precisely how many years transpired
from Methuselah 950 and Lamech 2.
. At the beginning men were comparatively scarce. Thus it seems apparent
that when Adam died, there was no one born that year who was qualified to
become the next reference patriarch. When Seth died 112 years later the
same situation prevailed. But when Enosh, the grandson of Adam, died 98
years after Seth, a child who was a descendant of Enosh was born in the
same year, and this child was eventually named as the next reference
patriarch. this was Kenan. Kenan's life span thus became the calendar
reference for that period of history. The calendar was continued in this
fashion until Methuselah died and Lamech was born.
. When Lamech was born he was the one to whom the calendar was
referenced. But his descendant who was born the year of Lamech's death and
who should have become the next patriarch died in the flood. This can
easily be known, for Lamech died 5 years before the flood and only Noah
and his immediate family survived the flood. Noah, who as an immediate
son of Lamech, of necessity became a substitute calendar reference, even
though he was not born the year of Lamech's death. Thus the flood events
are all dated by the life span of Noah (Gen. 7:6,11; Gen. 8:4,5,13,14).
. When Noah died 350 years after the flood, the same situation prevailed
that existed when Adam died. Few people lived upon the earth, and no one
met the conditions required to become the next reference patriarch. When
Shem died 152 years after Noah, the child Arpachshad, a descendant of Shem,
was born in the same year and he became the next patriarch. The calendar was
then continued in this same fashion until Terah was born.
. When Terah was born he was the reference patriarch. But during his
life span God brought into being the nation of Israel through Terah's
immediate son, Abram. Thus the descendant of Terah who was born the
year of Terah's death was outside the Messianic line and outside of God's
chronological purposes. God effectively had narrowed men down to the
family of Abram. The normal method of calendar keeping was set aside in the
absence of patriarchs who qualified. When Abraham died, no descendant of his
was born the year of his death. When Isaac, the immediate son of Abraham,
died, the same situation prevailed. This was repeated when Jacob, the
immediate son Isaac, died. But in the year that Levi, the immediate son of
Jacob died, a descendant of Levi was born whose name was Kohath, and
he apparently met the qualifications of a reference patriarch. Thus he
continued the calendar line as we have seen. Amram followed Kohath, and
Aaron followed Amram. Interestingly it can be shown that in a real sense
Aaron's generation continued until Christ's began 1981 years ago.(6)
. A chronology beginning with Adam may now be set forth. To tie this
genealogical table to our present calendar, synchronization between the
Biblical and secular histories should be found. Because so much work
has been done in recent times, particularly in relationship to the dating of
the kings of Israel, this can be done rather readily. Edwin R. Thiele, in
his book The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings established the date of
the death of solomon and the division of the kingdom as 931 B.C.(7)
Since Solomon reigned 40 years (I Kings 11:42) and began building the
temple in the fourth year of his reign (I Kings 6:1), this building
began in the year 967 B.C. this date in turn can be related to the
exodus because in at least two places God gives a time bridge from the
exodus to the building of the temple. The first is recorded in I Kings 6:1,
where 480 years is indicated as the time span between these events. The
second can be shown from the chronology of the Hebrew judges.(8)
. A time span of 480 years brings us to 1447 B.C. as the date of the
Exodus. If we work back from this date to Adam, we arrive at the date for
Adam as 11013 B. C. The key dates are as follows:
Creation of Adam 11013 B.C.
Seth born 10883 B.C.
Enosh's generation 10778-9873 B.C.
Kenan's generation 9873-8963 B.C.
Mahalel's generation 8963-8068 B.C.
Jared's generation 8068-7106 B.C.
Enoch's generation 7106-6741 B.C.
Methuselah's generation 6741-5772 B.C.
Lamech born 5772 B.C.
Noah born 5990 B.C.
Flood 4990-4989 B.C.
Arpachshad's generation 4488-4050 B.C.
Shelah's generarion 4050-3617 B.C.
Eber's generation 3617-3153 B.C.
Peleg's generarion 3153-2914 B.C.
Reu's generation 2914-2675 B.C.
Serug's generation 2675-2445 B.C.
Nahor's generation 2445-2297 B.C.
Terah born 2297 B.C.
Abram born 2167 B.C.
Isaac born 2067 B.C.
Jacob born 2007 B.C.
Entrance into Egypt 1877 B.C.
Exodus 1447 B.C.
Foundation of temple laid 967 B.C.
Division of Kingdom 931 B.C.
The First Civilization
. The development of a Biblical chronology beginning with Adam is
interesting, but will it hold up when compared with the known facts of
secular history? To ascertain this, the earliest civilization of
antiquity will next be examined to determine its location and the time of
. The threshold of history appears to be located in the area of the
present nation of Iraq. Albright writes:(9)
Archaeological research has established that there
is no focus of civilization in the earth that can
begin to compete in antiquity and activity with the
basin of the Eastern Mediterranean and the region
immediately to the east of it...The Obeidan is the
earliest clearly defined culture of Babylonia,
where we find its remains underlying nearly all the
oldest cities of the country, such as Ur, Erch,
Lagash, Eridu, etc. This proves that the
occupation of the marshlands of Babylonia by human
settlers came rather late in history of the
irrigation culture, probably not far from 3700 B.C.
. Thus the archaeological evidence shows that the location of the first
civilization after the flood was in the Mesopotamia Valley, and this agrees
exactly with the Bible, for it reports the first cities were Babylon, Erech,
Nineveh, etc. (Gen. 10:10, 11).
. The date of 3700 B.C. suggested by Albright is apparently
satisfactory to most archaeologists. M. B. Rowton writes that in Uruk, one
of the most ancient Mesopotamia sites, the earliest level of monumental
buildings is that of the level known as Uruk V. He concludes,(10) "the
beginning of Uruk V can plausibly be dated 3500 B.C." These dates of 3500
or 3700 B.C. are estimates arrived at by starting at a more clearly defined
historical point and allowing a reasonable period of time for each
level of occupation prior to this. Thus, the archaeological evidence
appears to indicate that prior to about 3700 B.C. there was no substantial
civilization began to be formed in the plains of Sumer in the land of Babylon,
Erech, Ur, etc.
. How does this time compare with the Biblical chronology? In Genesis 10
the notice is given that the first building activity after the flood is
that of Nimrod, the beginning of whose kingdom was Babel, Erech and Accad,
all of them in the land of Shinar (Gen. 10:10). But when did Nimrod
come upon the scene? His genealogical descent is that of Noah, Ham,
Cush, Nimrod (Gen. 10:1,6,8). The Bible offers no timetable for this side
of the family tree, but it does offer precise information regarding
another branch, that of Noah, Shem, Arpachshad and Shelah. If the
genealogical statements of the Bible are studied one might note that very
often two branches of the tree are offered. One is that of the descendants
leading eventually to Christ and about which precise timetables are given,
as we have seen. The second is the genealogical descent of that side of the
family which turned away from God. It can be shown that the timetable of
these two lines run roughly parallel.(11)
. It thus may be assumed that Ham and Shem were contemporaries (they
obviously were, inasmuch as they were brothers), that Arpachshad and
Cush were nearly contemporaries, and that Shelah and Nimrod were probably
men of the same period of history. Thus, if Shelah's date is known, it may
be surmised that Nimrod's was close to the same date.
. Shela's date by Biblical reckoning was that of 4050 B.C. to 3617 B.C.
Nimrod then must have lived about this time. The Bible would thus suggest a
date of about 3900 to 3617 for the founding of the great cities of the
Mesopotamia Valley. Thus the date suggested by the evidence of archaeology
(3700-3500) accords very well with the Biblical statement.
. It is of more than passing interest in this connection that the name
Nimrod has left its mark on the Mesopotamia Valley. The great archaeologist
George Rawlinson writes:(12)
The remarkable ruin generally called Ahkerhuf,
which lies a little to the south-west of Baghdad,
is known to many as the "Tel-Nimrod"; the great dam
across the Tigris below Mosul is the
`Suhr-el-Nimrud'; one of the chief of the buried
cities in the same neighborhood is called `Nimrud'
simply; and the name of `Birs-Nimrud' attaches to
the grandest mass of ruins in the lower country.
The Confusion of Tongues
. The next bit of history that should be interesting to
investigate is the event of the tower of Babel. Is there any secular
evidence that relates to the account of this confusion of tongues as set
forth in Gensis 11? There is, indeed.
. It might first of all be noted that the account of Genesis 11 indicates
that prior to this time in history all men spoke one language. Moreover,
the leading civilization was that of these people who dwelt in the plains
of Shinar or Sumer. Their desire to be the one great civilization of
the world prompted the building of this great tower, which in turn
brought on God's interference with their plans so that they were forced to
separate into various nations.
. As has already been shown, the first great civilization of the world as
revealed by secular evidence was that which sprang forth in the Mesopotamia
Valley. The time of the beginning of the second important civilization
of antiquity could be of real significance. Presumably, it would have
begun very shortly after the tower of Babel. The event of the tower of Babel
can be known to have occurred during the generaton of
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