I’ve spent a good 15 years trying to test a literal biblical timeline against contemporary ancient king lists, timelines, archaeological evidence, geological evidence and other modern channeled texts.
One of the things that’s really stuck out to me in studying Egyptian, Greek, Babylonian and Akkadian histories is that these ancient people used cultural genealogies to legitimize their authority in the same way that modern Western culture uses science to claim cultural superiority. Each of them followed a similar template of claiming direct descent from the ancient heroes and demigods–passing through the ancient cataclysms–straight to their established rulers and religious priesthoods. For them it was a form of nationalism, ego and pride. To have the oldest, most cohesive history of one’s culture was to be able to lay claim of superiority over other cultures (for examples, see this article on ancient examples of history revisionism). In a tradition carried out by many Jews and Christians alike today, to possess the “true” history (ie. scripture) of the world was to be able to claim the mandate of heaven and approval of the gods or God himself. Josephus’s “On the Antiquity of the Jews” is a prime example.
Despite being forced by overwhelming evidence to drop overly literal interpretations of the bible, my scholarly research has not altogether destroyed my faith in the Bible. In fact the more I study the enduring scriptural texts of ancient and modern cultures, the more I’m convinced that much of these books comes from a source of higher intelligence. But what I have come to believe through reading a great deal of historical and channeled material is that the Bible is a text of mysticism as much as it is a text of history. The numbers, dates, names and accounts for periods before Moses seem to be trying to teach hidden concepts more than they seem to be trying to give a literal history. That’s not to say their is not literal basis for some of the incredible historical events mentioned in the text (such as the Fall, Flood, Peleg, Tower, etc). But it is to say that to interpret them as most literalists do (such as biblical creationists) is to destroy their purpose and depth—and especially their mystical significance.
For an in depth example, one only need read Swedenborg’s, mystic interpretation of the Bible in his Arcana Cœlestia. As another example… take the narrative given in the channeled Oaspe text. In this account it is inferred that the list of individuals from Adam to Noah, and from Noah to Terah, may actually be archetypes pointing to cycles of time spanning tens of thousands of years instead of a literal father-son genealogy spanning a mere few hundred years. Studying the king lists in Egyptian, Sumerian and Babylonian culture also adds a good deal of insight. As well as the creation accounts found Hindu scripture or texts like The Kolbrin.
For an excellent treatise on the patterns and ancient context of biblical dates see “Making Sense of the Numbers of Genesis“.
For a well research literal timeline of the Bible, see the work of Daniel Gregg at Torahtimes.org
|Gen||Descendant of Adam||Notes about Life||Total Life Span||Begat son at…||Lived after that …||Prstd Ordin- ation||BIRTH (Yr-BC)||DEATH (Yr-BC)||Scripture reference’s) which give exact ages/dates.|
|1||Adam||Dates start at the Fall of Adam||930||130||800||–||4000 BC||3070 BC||Moses 6:10, 11, 12 – Gen 5:3, 4, 5|
|2||Seth||.||912||105||807||69||3870 BC||2958 BC||Moses 6:13, 14, 16 – Gen 5:6, 7, 8|
|3||Enos||.||905||90||815||134||3765 BC||2860 BC||Moses 6:17, 18 – Gen 5:9, 10, 11|
|4||Cainan||.||910||70||840||87||3675 BC||2765 BC||Moses 6:19 – Gen 5:12, 13, 14|
|5||Mahalaleel||.||895||65||830||496||3605 BC||2710 BC||Moses 6:20 – Gen 5:15, 16, 17|
|6||Jared||.||962||162||800||200||3540 BC||2578 BC||Moses 6:21, 24 – Gen 5:18, 19, 20|
|7||Enoch||Enoch translated either when 365 or 430 yrs old (in 1052 A.F. Or 2948 BC)||N/A||65||N/A||25||3378 BC||N/A||Moses 6:25 7:68 8:1 – Gen 5:21, 22 D&C 107:49|
|8||Methuselah||.||969||187||782||100||3313 BC||2344 BC||Moses 8:5, 6, 7 – Gen 5:25, 26, 27|
|9||Lamech||.||777||182||595||32||3126 BC||2349 BC||Moses 8:8, 10, 11 – Gen 5:28, 30, 31|
|10||Noah||See Note about Bible discrepacy||950||492||458||10||2944 BC||1994 BC||Moses 8:12 – Gen 5:32 9:29|
|11||Shem||.||610||110||500||–||2452 BC||1852 BC||Gen 11:10, 11, 12|
Noah’s Flood: Occurred when Noah was 600, and Shem was 108. That’s 1548 years from fall or 2344 BC. Noah died 350 years after it ended
(Gen 7:6,11 8:17 9:28).
|Gen||Descendant of Adam||Notes about Life||Total Life Span||Begat son at…||Lived after that||Prstd Ordin- ation||BIRTH (Yr-BC)||DEATH (Yr-BC)||References|
|12||Arphaxed||.||438||35||403||–||2342 BC||1914 BC||Gen 11:12, 13|
|13||Salah||.||433||30||403||–||2307 BC||1884 BC||Gen 11:14, 15|
|14||Eber||.||464||34||430||N/A||2277 BC||1823 BC||Gen 11:16, 17|
|15||Peleg||In his days the earth is divided||239||30||209||N/A||2243 BC||2014 BC||Gen 11:18, 19|
|16||Reu||.||239||32||207||N/A||2213 BC||1984 BC||Gen 11:20, 21|
|17||Serug||.||230||30||200||N/A||2181 BC||1961 BC||Gen 11:22, 23|
|18||Nahor||.||148||29||119||N/A||2151 BC||2013 BC||Gen 11:24, 25|
|19||Terah||See Note about Bible discrepacy||205||70-130||+/-105||N/A||2122 BC||1927 BC||Gen 11:26, 32, 12:1,4|
|20||Abraham||.||175||100||75||?||2022 BC?||1847 BC?||Gen 21:5,25:7,8|
|21||Isaac||.||180||60||60||?||1922 BC||1742 BC||Gen 25:7 36:28|
|22||Jacob||.||147||68||79||?||1862 BC||1715 BC||Gen 47:28 9?|
|23||Levi||.||137||64?||73?||–||1794 BC||1657 BC||Exodus 6:16|
|24||Kohath||Very little info (Only age at death given)||133||70?||63?||–||1730 BC?||1597 BC?||Exodus 6:18|
|25||Amram||Very little info (Only age at death given)||137||63?||74?||–||1660 BC?||1523 BC?||Exodus 6:20|
|26||Moses||Translated at age 120||N/A||40-80||N/A||40-80||1597 BC||1477 BC||Deut. 34:7, Exodus 7:7, Acts 7:23,30|
The Exodus: See Note. Occurred when Moses was 80 years old. In 1517 BC, 430 years after Abraham was 75 or 215 years passed from the time that Jacob entered Israel to the exodus (Acts 7:23,30 – Gal 3:17 – Gen 15:13,16).
|Gen||Descendant of Adam||Notes about Life||Total Life Span||Begat son at…||Age Made King||Total Reign||Beg Reign (lds)||Reign (accepted BC)||Scripture reference’s giving exact ages/ dates.|
|Joshua||See Note for explanation for length of riegn||110||N/A||75||35||1477-1422||Josh 24:29|
|27||Othneil||8 yr captivity to Mesopt. 40 year freedom||–||N/A||–||40||1442-1402||Judges 3:ll (also see Judges 3:8)|
|Ehud/Sham.||18 yr captivity to Moab. 80 year freedom||–||N/A||–||80||1402-1322||Judges 3:30 (also see Judges 3:14)|
|28||Deborah||Rules w/ Barak. 20 yr captivity to Canaan.||–||N/A||–||40||1322-1282||Judges 5:31 (see also Judges 4:2–3)|
|Gideon||7 yr captivity to Midian. 40 year freedom||–||–||–||40||1282-1242||Judges 8:28 (See also Judges 6:1)|
|29||Abimelech||Son of Gideon (Judg 9:18,21)||–||N/A||–||3||1242-1233||Judges 9:22 (16-55)|
|Tola||Son of Puah of Issachar||–||N/A||–||23||1239-1216||Judges 10:1|
|Jair||Of Gilead||–||N/A||–||22||1216-1194||Judges 10:3|
|30||Jephthah||18 year oppression by Philistines||–||N/A||–||6||1194-1188||Judges 12:7 (see also Judges 10:8)|
|Ibzan||of Bethlehem (1 chron )||–||N/A||–||7||1188-1181||Judges 12:8–9|
|Elon||Of Zebulun||–||N/A||–||10||1181-1171||Judges 12:11–12|
|Abdon||Son of Hillel, of Pirathon||–||N/A||–||8||1171-1163||Judges 12:13–14|
|31||Samson||40 year oppression by Philistines||–||N/A||–||20||1163-1143||Judges 15:20 (see also Judges 13:1)|
|Eli||40 is not civil reign shouldn’t be counted?||98||N/A||–||40||1143-1103||1 Samuel 4:15,18|
|32||Samuel||Rules solely for a time and jointly with Saul||105||N/A||59?||7||1103-1096||Josephus? (is 66 when he anoints Saul)|
|Saul||Born ? (40 yrs includes Samuel?)||60||N/A||20||27||1102-1060||1037-1010||Acts 13:21|
|33||David||Born 1040 BC?||70||–||33||40||1062-1022||1010-970||2 Sam 5:4–5, 1 Chr. 29:27, 3:4|
|34||Solomon||Born 990 BC? Temple lain in 1018 BC?||58?||?||–||39/40||1022-952||970-931||2 Chr. 9:30, 1 Kings 11:42|
Foundation of Temple is Lain: Solomon lays temple foundation in 4rth year of his reign in approximately 1018-1019 BC, and
480 years after the Exodus (1 Kings 6:1).
|Gen||King||Life Notes||Life Span||Begat son at…||Age Made King||Total Reign||Reign (lds)||Reign BC||References|
|35||Rehoboam||Fights against bro, Jeroboam all his life.||58||–||41||17||982-965||931-915||2 Chr. 12:13, 1 Kings 14:21|
|36||Abijam||(a.k.a. Abijah) Wicked like his father||–||–||–||3||965-962||915-912||2 Chr. 13:2, 1 Kings 15:2|
|37||Asa||Rightous||–||–||–||41||962-921||912-871||2 Chr. 16:13, 1 Kings 15:10|
|38||Jehoshaphat||Rightous||60||28||35||25||921-896||871-849||2 Chr. 20:31, 1 Kings 22:42|
|39||Jehoram||Wicked||40||18||32||8||896-888||849-842||2 Chr. 21:5,20, 2 Kings 8:17|
|40||Ahaziah (x)||Chronicles says he started to reign at 42||23||22||22||1||888-887||842-841||2 Chr. 22:2 , 2 Kings 8:26|
|Athalia||Wicked wife of Jehoram. Userps throne||–||N/A||–||6||887-881||841-835||2 Chr. 22:12, 2 Kings 11:3|
|41||Joash||Son of Ahaziah, saved by High Priest||47||22||7||40||881-841||835-796||2 Chr. 24:1, 2 Kings 12:1, 11:21|
|42||Amaziah||.||54||38||25||29||841-812||796-767||2 Chr. 25:1, 2 Kings 14:2|
|43||Uzziah||(a.k.a. Azariah) big earthquake during reign||68||43||16||52||812-760||767-740||2 Chr. 26:3, 2 Kings 15:2|
|44||Jotham||.||41||21||25||16||760-744||750-735||2 Chr. 27:1,8, 2 Kings 15:33|
|45||Ahaziah||(a.k.a Ahaz)||36||–||20||16||744-728||735-715||2 Chr. 28:1, 2 Kings 16:2|
|46||Hezekiah||Sun goes back 15 degrees||54||42||25||29||728-699||715-687||2 Chr. 29:1, 2 Kings 18:2|
|47||Manasseh||.||67||45||12||55||699-644||687-642||2 Chr. 33:1, 2 Kings 21:1|
|48||Amon (x)||Murdered||24||16||22||2||644-642||642-640||2 Chr. 33:21 2 Kings 21:19|
|49||Josiah||.||39||14||8||31||642-611||640-609||2 Chr. 34:1 2 Kings 22:1|
|50||Jehoiakim||(a.ka. Eliakim) vassal to pharaoh||36||15||25||11||611-600||609-511||2 Chr. 36:5, 2 Kings 23:36|
|“||Zedekiah||(a.k.a. Mattaniah) Johoiakim’s cousin||32||32||21||11||600-589||597-586||2 Chr. 36:11. 2 Kings 24:18|
BOM Timeline: Babylonian Captivity. This puts us into the BOM and established written history. (See 1 Nephi 10:4)
REGULAR FONT = Date calculated using bold dates.
? = Uncertainty in date calculation
Kings Reigns and Dates of The Kingdom of Israel
|35||Jeroboam I||Splits Northern Kingdom from Judah & pure Davidic Line||?||–||21||961-940||931-911||1 Kings 11:26–40, 2 Chron #|
|Nadab||Killed by Baasha||–||–||2||940-938||911-910||1 Kings 15:25|
|36||Baasha||–||–||24||938-914||910-887||1 Kings 15:33|
|Elah||Killed by Zimri (only reigns 7 days, thus omitted here)||2||2||2||914-912||887-886||1 Kings 16:8|
|Omri||Tibni reigns after Zimri for 5 years as rival to Omri||12||12||12||912-900||886-875||1 Kings 16:23|
|37||Ahab||22||21||22||900-878||875-853||1 Kings 16:29|
|38||Ahaziah||–||N/A||2||878-876||853-852||1 Kings 22:51|
|39||Jeroham||Killed by Jehu in 841||12||12||12||876-864||852–841||2 Kings 3:1|
|40||Jehu||28||28||28||864-836||841-814||2 Kings 10:36|
|41||Jehoahaz||17||17||17||836-819||814-798||2 Kings 13:1|
|41||Jeoash||16||16||16||819-803||798-753||2 Kings 13:10|
|42||Jeroboam II||with Joash/Jehoash from 793/792||41||–||41||803-762||782-753||2 Kings 14:23|
|43||Menahem||Several short-lived claimants omitted.||10||10||10||762-752||752–742||2 Kings 15:17|
|43||Pekahiah||Murdered by Pekah||x||2||2||2||752-750||742-740||2 Kings 15:23|
|44||Pekah||Killed by Hoshea||x||20||12||20||750-730||740-732||2 Kings 15:27|
|45||Hoshea||Samaria and Israel fall to Assyria in 722||9||-16||9||730-721||732-722||2 Kings 17:1|
About General Date Accuracy
Dates accuracies range from high at the reign of Zedekiah (BOM), to +/- 10-20 yrs at Rehoboam, to poorer during the reign of the judges. LDS revelation, given in D&C 77:6–7, 12 & D&C 88:108–110 emphasizes the mystical importance of the 7000 year cycle in the bible timeline (1 Ne. 13:40, Mormon 7:9. see also the Jaredite genealogy and the book of Moses as well, as seen in my genealogical tables)
For Mormon’s, Book of Mormon verses in 1 Nephi 1:4 & 2:4 state that Nephi’s family left Jerusalem in the first year of the reign of Zedekiah. 1 Nephi 10:4 & 19:8 assure that this was in 600-601 BC. Thus we use this as our starting point, and count back through the kings of Judah until David. We can assume an error of a few years because dates for this period are only accurate to the year, not the month. Dates from Adam to David are counted forward from Adam with an arbitrary starting point of 4000 BC (D&C 76:11). At Solomon, where the two dating schemes meet, we amazingly find only a 15 year error.
Joseph Smith’s Moses 1:41 would suggest that some aspect of the dates given in that book and Genesis were channeled much like modern texts like Oahspe or The Book of Mormon. This antediluvian chronology is actually given in seven different books of both LDS and non-LDS scripture (see genealogy chart). The channeled text “The Law of One”, suggests that life spans of 900 years were common during earth’s first precessional cycle after humans were brought to the planet 75,000 years ago. Oahspe suggests that the sinking of Pan/Lemuria occured 50,000 years ago. Of course, none of these channeled events can be verified scientifically.
Patriarchal Era Notes
Nimrod is the great grandson of Noah (Noah-Ham-Cush-Nimrod) said to be born around the time of Salah. He is credited with building the city of Babel (Genesis 10:10) and the tower (Apocrypha). It’s climax and destruction (I.e. Brother of Jared leaving) seem strangely out of place given the suggested populations for those who hold to a global flood. Apocryphal sources state that Nimrod lived long enough to be a contemporary of Abraham.
All three of Terah’s children are mentioned as being born when Terah was 70 (Genesis 11:26)
Lectures on faith, gives another chronology on the patriarchs which is very similar but diverges as follows: (under construction)
Jacob was about 68 calculated from….
Levi, Kohath, and Amram’s age when they had their patriarchal son is not given.
Moses and Aaron were brothers, both born of Amram; Aaron was three years older than Moses.
Jacob entered Egypt at age 130 (Gen 37:9 gives exact age)
The Septuagint copy of Exodus 14:40 says Israel was in captivity for exactly 215 years. This date fits nicely with genealogies and would have spanned from the time Jacob/Israel and his sons entered Egypt until the Exodus. Jacob died in the year 1715 BC at age 147, so he lived in Egypt for 17 years before his death. This puts his entrance into Egypt in 1732 BC. We know the exodus was in 1517 BC, so these date match since 1732 – 1517 = 215 years. However, Oahspe puts this event thousands of years earlier.
Exodus 12:40 says “Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was 430 years”. The septuagint and Samaritan copies correct this wording to say “Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, and of their fathers, which they sojourned in the land of Canaan and in the land of Egypt was 430 years”. (p156 skousen) Gen 15:13–16 substantiates that the septuagint correction is the proper wording.
Gen 15:13–16 says that Abraham’s seed would be “sojourners in a strange land for four generations” or “400 years”. This appears to be giving a rounded estimate. The 430 year version given in Ex. 12:40 and the septuagint are likely the more exact dates.
The exodus occurred 430 years from the time of Abraham’s vision in Canaan. (Gen 16:3, 15–16 suggests that this vision was shortly before Abraham married Hagar, which was 10 years before Abraham was 86) (430 year figure comes from Gal 3:17, Acts 7:6–7, & Gen 15:13, 16. This amount of time matches well with genealogies and other dates given) The 430 years could have also have started when Abraham had Ishmeal and left Canain, which would only change dates by a few years.
Acts 7:23 tells that Moses was 40 when he smote the Egyptian and fled. Acts 7:30 tells that Moses refuge in Midian for another full 40 years. Exodus 7:7 further supports this and says Moses was 80 years old when he returned to liberate Israel. From this we know that Moses was ordained to the priesthood by Jethro and bore both his two sons during this 40 year period between the ages of 40 and 80.
Clarke’s Bible commentary 1:883 suggests that Joshua was 57 at the time of the Exodus. After 40 years in the wilderness, this would put the death of Moses, and the beginning of his reign at age 97. [reigning 13 years]
Dates given for the period of the Judges seem to be the most questionable or unreliable of all post Moses Bible periods. This is somewhat expected since it was a period of repeated captivity and apostasy. Adding up the dates given equals about 536 years, but with all the apparent rounded or estimated numbers it doesn’t seem very trustworthy. However, 1 kings 6:1 clears up the problem, telling that the Solomon’s temple began to be built in the fourth year of Solomon’s Reign and “480 years after the children of israel were come out of Egypt”. Which puts us at 1499 BC. But this still begs the question of whether this date points to the Exodus, or the entry into Israel. Since the record states “come out of Egypt” instead of “Come into Canaan” we will suppose it is referring to the exodus.
A second witness comes in Judges 11:26, where Jephthah says that Israel had been living in the coasts of Israel for 300 years. Which fits appropriately with the 480 year number given in kings, since Jephthah lived a bit more than half way through the period of the judges.
A third witness is given in Acts 13:20, which says God gave unto Israel “judges about the space of 450 years until Samuel the prophet”. Samuel began to reign about 80 years before Solomon began the temple, so this may conflict a bit with the 480 from Kings or it is likely that the periods of “servitude” listed in the Book of Judges are actually also included in the rounded numbers given. If not it seems quite a coincidence that the servitude periods add up to be very close to the number needed to make the dates match 480. (8+18+20+7+18+40=111, And 585?-111=474)
Either way we have a good ballpark figure for the Exodus of about 1499 BC (1019+480) for the Exodus. (many scholars use the date 1446 BC).
The period of the Kings is the most recent found in the Old Testament, and given the intricate detail involved is probably quite accurate. Many of the names and dates given in Kings and Chronicles fall within secular recorded history and can be “scientifically” verified. However, it is this same fact which has led to some confusion as archeologists and historians find slightly conflicting dates. I believe the Bible is more accurate than these however, as historical dates often used calendars and counting systems which I believe were less accurate than that of the Hebrews. The Bible’s internal chronology for this period (calculated from the length of king’s reigns) gives 429 (433-4) years from the fall of Judah to the building of Solomon’s Temple.
The book of Mormon tells us Lehi left Jerusalem 600 years before the birth of Christ (1 Ne. 10:4), which it also tells us was during the 1st year of the reign of Zedekiah (1 Ne 1:4). So to get the date for the building of Solomon’s temple we add up reigns which total 433 years. And 433 minus 10 (Zedekiah lived about 10 years after Lehi left Jerusalem) minus 4 (Solomon started his temple in the 4rth year of his reign) gives us 419 years. So all together that’s 600+419 or 1019 BC (give or take a few years because kings reigns are not accurate to the month).
The mystical significance of the biblical 7000 year cycle seems to be emphasized by the fact that the bible also gives dates covering each major epoch of time.
-Adam to Abraham
Approximately 2,048 years passed from the Fall to God’s vision to Abraham. (Moses 6:10–25, 7:68, 8:1-12, Gen. 5:3–32, 11:10-32, Lectures on Faith: Lecture Second.)
-Abraham to Exodus
Approximately 430 years passed from around the time of Abraham’s vision until the Exodus. (Exodus 12:40, Gen. 15:13–16)
-Exodus to Solomon
480 years passed from the Exodus to the building of the Temple of Solomon. (1 Kings 6:1)
-Solomon to Fall of Judah
Approximately 418 years passed from the building of the temple to the reign of Zedekiah and fall of Judah to Babylon (Period well documented in books of Kings & Chronicles)
-Zedekiah to birth of Christ
600 years passed from the time Lehi left Jerusalem (the first year of Zedekiah’s reign) to the time of Christ. (1 Nephi 1:4, 2:4)
2048+430+480+418+600= +/- 3976 Years from Adam to Christ
Biblical Chronology- Kings of Israel Line