This article was originally posted on the old website under the title Assyrian, Babylonian and Israelite History 8th Century but has now been republished on this smartphone friendly site.
As a warning to those readers who hold that every English word in the Bible is Divine, infallible and immutable, this article indicates that some sections of Israelite history have been recorded incorrectly by the ancient redactors.
8th Century BC
Biblical chronology Versus biblical narrative
756 BC. to 701 BC.
The information contained in this article comes from a section of the polemics in Chapter Eleven of ‘The King’s Calendar: The Secret of Qumran.’ The underlying assertion of this article is that for this period of History, the biblical chronological data is correct, but that some of the narrative is incorrect. For Laws of Evidence perspective: See Syro-Ephraimitic War : Issues of Evidence.
756 BC. to 701 BC.
To date no-one has been successfully able to synchronise the biblical data provided for the houses of Judah and Israel for this period of history, with either each other, or with the known history of the Ancient Near East.
Generally speaking the history of the Ancient Near East at this time in history is both known and understood. The problem is that when one attempts to make the biblical chronological data and its narrative (the story that goes with that data) ‘fit’ that history, the necessary conclusion reached is that not only do the biblical ‘synchronisms’ fail, but that some of the chronological data must be compressed (reduced).
The premise of the ‘King’s Calendar’ however, is that the chronological data and synchronisms are factually correct, but that while the narratives (stories) that go with them reflect ‘real’ history, the biblical redactors mixed up the names of the Kings of Judah mentioned in those narratives.
Scholars, when looking at the data for this time period ‘incorrectly’ do four fundamental things.
1. They treat the chronological data as if presented in the same manner as all other ancient near eastern data;
2. Their primary reliance is upon what is currently accepted to be the correct history of the ancient near east
3. They assume that the biblical data is compiled from the records of the northern kingdom;
4. For all their distrust of the biblical narratives, the ‘facts’ they question are usually chronologically related.
It does not appear that anyone has ever considered that the chronological data may be correct and that it is the narratives that are wrong.
The ‘King’s Calendar’ foundational premise.
1. That the biblical data is recorded from a southern kingdom perspective
2. That the final redactors confused the identities of either, Hezekiah (HZKH) and Ahaz/Ahaziah (HZH) – or – Jehoahaz/Jotham (JHHZ) and Ahaziah/Ahaz (HZH)
3. That the chronological data is encoded (One year = 336 days)
4. That the chronological data ‘standing alone’ is correct.
The ‘King’s Calendar’ reconstruction of biblical chronology for this time period, has as it’s firm foundation, the established ‘academic’ fact that King Hezekiah of Judah had his 14th regnal year in 701 BC. Working back through history the ‘King’s Calendar’ finds little fault with the biblical chronological references, however it becomes obvious that some of the kings have been misidentified.
Correct Chronological data: Incorrect Identification of Kings.
The Fall of Samaria 722 BC.
1. Samaria (the Northern Kingdom called Israel) fell to the Assyrians in 722 BC
2. This is an established chronological fact.
3. That year was the 9th and final year of King Hoshea of Samaria.
4. That year is synchronised in the Bible with the 6th year of King Hezekiah
5. Hezekiah’s 14th year is established as falling in 701 BC.
See Bible History Error: Kings Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezkiah of Judah on the new site.
Academics trusting the biblical narrative conclude that ‘obviously’ 722 BC was Hezekiah’s 6th year of ‘co-rule’ with father king Ahaz. As we shall see, this is not correct for when one follows the primary text reading of the chronological records, it becomes obvious that there are a number of inconsistencies in the biblical narratives.
Inconsistencies regarding the Syro-Ephraimitic war : 734-732 BC
Part of academic confusion over this particular period of Israelite history results directly from reliance upon the biblical narratives which clearly state that it was King Ahaz of Judah who appealed to Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria for assistance during the Syro-Ephraimitic War against Rezin of Damascus and Pekah of Israel.
That confusion is further compounded by archaeological reference to tribute paid to Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria by a king named ‘Jehoahaz’ (presumably Jotham’s real name not Ahaz’s real name which was likely Ahaziah), and further compounded by lack of any other Assyrian records for Israel and Judah at this time.
Historians and archaeologists therefore are required to rely heavily upon the biblical narratives for information. It is therefore necessary for us to examine that information to determine precisely what the Bible ‘actually’ does tell us as opposed to what we have always assumed that it says.
The first thing to notice in such an examination is that the biblical narratives are inconsistent. Being inconsistent means that they must not be unequivocally relied upon to provide competent direct documentary evidence.
Within this section we shall examine Four (4) biblical narrative discrepancies or contradictions.
1. Both Jotham and Ahaz are named as the Victims of Rezin and Pekah
2. That Rezin and Pekah Did and Did Not Conquer Ahaz.
3. That Tiglath-Pileser Did and Did Not Hearken to Ahaz.
4. That Rezin and Pekah acted in Unison, separately on their own.
What does the Bible say?
Discrepancy No. 1.
Both Jotham and Ahaz are named as the Victims of Rezin and Pekah
Isaiah Chapter 7, 2 Kings 16 and 2 Chronicles 28, all relate that Rezin of Damascus and Pekah of Israel came against King Ahaz in Jerusalem. For Example:
A) Isaiah 7:1 In the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah, Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah the king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to wage war.
B) 2 Kings 16:5 Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, came up to wage war on Jerusalem.
C) 2 Chronicles. 28:5 Therefore the Lord his G-d gave him (Ahaz) into the hand of the king of Syria….. he was also given into the hand of the king of Israel,
Scripture is quite adamant that it was against Ahaz, that Rezin and Pekah conspired.
However there is another statement which might be seen to contradict this impression, although one can understand the viewpoint that this particular verse has been misplaced and rightly belongs elsewhere. Nevertheless that statement fully supports the chronological data as portrayed in the ‘Kings Calendar,’ for it states (2 Kings 15:37) that it was during the reign of Jotham, that Rezin and Pekah commenced to come against Judah.
Discrepancy No. 2.
That Rezin and Pekah Did and Did Not Conquer Ahaz.
In both the Isaian and Kings accounts listed above the emphatic statement is made that Rezin and Pekah came up to Jerusalem to wage war on Ahaz but could not conquer it (Jerusalem). For Example:
A) Isaiah 7:1 In the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah, Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah the king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to wage war against it, but they could not conquer it.
B) 2 Kings 16:5 Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, came up to wage war on Jerusalem, and they besieged Ahaz but could not conquer him.
The abovementioned pictures of an unsuccessful siege, are quite removed from the detailed statement and information provided in the Chronicles account.
C) 2 Chronicles 28 :5 Ahaz is clearly defeated.
:5 Therefore the Lord his G-d gave him into the hand of the King of Syria, who defeated him and took captive a great number of his people and brought them to Damascus. He was also given in to the hand of the King of Israel, who defeated him with great slaughter.
:6 For Pekah the son of Remaliah slew a hundred and twenty thousand men of valour, because they had forsaken the Lord, the G-d of their fathers.
:7 And Zichri, a mighty man of Ephraim, slew Maaseiah the king’s son and Azrikam the commander of the palace and Elkanah the next in authority to the king.
:8 The men of Israel took captive two hundred thousand of their kinsfolk..
:16 At that time King Ahaz sent to the king of Assyria for help
:20 So Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came…
There is a huge discrepancy between these accounts regarding the events that led to Ahaz’ request to Tiglath-Pileser.
That Tiglath-Pileser Did and Did Not Hearken to Ahaz.
Having now read two different accounts of the events leading to Ahaz’ request to Tiglath-Pileser for assistance, let us now read two different accounts of Tiglath-Pileser’s response. (The Isaian account is silent at this point.)
A) 2 Kings 16:7-9
So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, saying, “I am your servant and your son. Come up, and rescue me from the hand of the king of Syria and from the hand of the king of Israel, who are attacking me.” Ahaz also took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the Lord and in the treasures of the king’s house, and sent a present to the king of Assyria. And the king of Assyria hearkened to him; the king of Assyria marched up against Damascus, and took it, carrying its people captive to Kir, and he killed Rezin
Although this version informs us of a very speedy and positive response from Tiglath-Pileser, the chronicles account is quite different.
B) 2 Chronicles 28:16, 19-21
:16 At that time King Ahaz sent to the king of Assyria for help. :19 for the Lord brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had dealt wantonly in Judah and had been faithless to the Lord. So Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came against him, and afflicted him instead of strengthening him. For Ahaz took from the house of the Lord and the house of the king and of the princes, and gave tribute to the king of Assyria; but it did not help him.
It is extremely clear at this point, that the two accounts are contradictory, either through redactorial bias and invention, or more likely, because there are at least two events recorded here, with some confusion as to the particular circumstances of each.
That Rezin and Pekah acted in Unison, separately on their own.
In both the Isaian and Kings’ account the two kings Rezin and Pekah act in unison in a conspiracy against Ahaz of Judah. That conspiracy is spelled out in Isaiah 7:6.
Let us go up against Judah and terrify it, and let us conquer it for ourselves, and set up the son of Tabeel as king in the midst of it.
2 Kings 16:5
Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, came up to wage war on Jerusalem, and they besieged Ahaz but could not conquer him.
In both of these accounts, it is made quite clear that ‘Two’ Kings (Rezin and Pekah) came against Jerusalem. However, this is not the picture painted in the Chronicles account.
2 Chronicles 28:5 makes it clear, that Ahaz suffered from several different attacks, including those from the Philistines [v18] and that attacks from Syria and Israel were independent of each other.
:5 Therefore the Lord his G-d gave him into the hand of the king of Syria, who defeated him and took captive a great number of his people and brought them to Damascus. He was also given into the hand of the king of Israel, who defeated him with great slaughter.
These discrepancies in accounts support the concept that accounts of events during Ahaz’ reign are composite stories drawn from original but unclear material. As such, they do not suffice as solid foundations upon which to base accurate academic conclusions of the sequence of events during this period in the Ancient Near East.
Tiglath-Pileser’s 734-732 BCE campaign did result in the destruction of Damascus, the death of Rezin, and a dynastic change in Israel, yet the ‘Kings Calendar’ chronological synchronisms preclude Ahaz from being the Judean King who appealed to Tiglath-Pileser.
Relying solely upon the chronological data, the ‘King’s Calendar’ is able to offer a reconstruction of the various historical stories. It requires however, that the ‘Holy Bible’ undergo some alteration.
Altering the Bible is Heresy! Why? Intelligent people with their eyes open KNOW that the chronological data makes no sense, and despite those who in worshipping the Bible maintain that EVERY WORD in the Bible is absolutely and Divinely correct, the reality is that despite a lack of precision and perfection, the archaeologists and historians have sufficient evidence to demonstrate that Biblical Chronology is wrong.
SOMETHING IS WRONG! The King’s Calendar merely insists that the Hebrew names of three kings of Judah have suffered transcription error that has effectively resulted in one king’s actions and deeds being ascribed to his successor.
The King’s Calendar Historical Reconstruction.
As previously stated the ‘King’s Calendar’ postulates that the biblical chronological data (which academics do not trust) is in fact correct and trustworthy. However, the biblical narrative (which academics rely upon to reconstruct history) is held to be untrustworthy, in as much as that while it relates historical matters, it appends the names of the wrong kings to these events.
In this section an attempt has been made to reconstruct the history of Israel presented in the Bible by altering references to Judean kings, inserting the name of the king designated by the ‘King’s Calendar’ to be the one inherently intended within the chronological data.
A. Rewriting Isaiah Chapter Seven
:1 In the days of – Jotham – (not Ahaz), son of Uzziah, king of Judah, Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah the king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to wage war against it, but they could not conquer it.
:2 When the house of David was told, ‘Syria is in league with Ephraim,” his heart and the heart of his people shook..
:3 And the Lord said to Isaiah, ‘Go forth to meet – Jotham – (not Ahaz),
:4 and say to him, ‘Take heed, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smouldering stumps of firebrands, at the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and the son of Remaliah…
:10 Again the Lord spoke to – Jotham – (not Ahaz), ‘Ask a sign of the Lord your G-d; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven
:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold a young woman shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel
:16 For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted.
B. Reconstructing Jotham’s History.
2 Chronicles 27
:2 he (Jotham) did what was right in the eyes of the Lord
:4 he built cities in the hill country and forts and towers
:5 fought the King of the Ammonites and prevailed
:5 received tribute from Ammon for at least 3 years
:6 became mighty, because he ordered his ways before the Lord his G-d.
2 Kings 16
:5 Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, came up to wage war on Jerusalem, and they besieged – Jotham – (not Ahaz) but could not conquer him.
:6 At that time the king of Syria (Aram not Edom) recovered Elath for Syria (not Edom) and drove the men of Judah from Elath; (redactorial insertion follows – ‘where they dwell to this day’)
:7 So – Jotham – (not Ahaz) sent messengers to Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria …
:8 and sent a present to the king of Assyria.
:9 The king of Assyria hearkened to him; the king of Assyria marched up against Damascus, and took it, carrying its people captive to Kir, and he killed Rezin.
2 Kings 15
:36 Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?
:37 In those days the Lord began to send Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah against Judah.
:38 Jotham slept with his fathers ..and Ahaz his son reigned in his stead.
C. Reconstructing The History of Ahaz
2 Chronicles 28
:1 He (Ahaz) did not do right in the eyes of the Lord but
:2 walked in the ways of the Kings of Israel…He even made molten images…;
:3 and he burned his sons (Plural) as an offering…
:4 sacrificed and burned incense under every green tree
:5 Therefore G-d gave him into the hand of the king of Assyria (not Syria) who defeated him and took captives to Damascus. He was also given into the hand of the king of Israel (Hoshea), who defeated him with great slaughter.
:6 The king of Israel (not Pekah) slew 120,000 and [v8] took 200,000 captives
:7 his (Ahaz’) son Maaseiah was killed. (no heirs?)
:8 the men of Israel took much spoil to Samaria
:9 Prophet Oded spoke out against the captivity
:13 “you shall not bring the captives in here (Samaria) there is fierce wrath against Israel
:15 They were returned to Jericho to their kinsfolk.
:16 At that time Ahaz sent to the king of Assyria (not Tiglath-Pileser) for help
:17 for the Edomites had invaded and defeated Judah and carried away captives
:18 And the Philistines made more raids.
:20 So the king of Assyria (not Tiglath-Pileser) came against him, afflicting him instead of strengthening him.
:21 For Ahaz took from the house of the Lord and the house of the king and of the princes, and gave tribute to the king of Assyria; but it did not help him.
:22 In the time of his distress ….
:23 he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus which had defeated him
:24 and shut up the doors of the house of the Lord
2 Kings 16
2 Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his G-d as his father David had done
:3 but he walked in the way of the kings of Israel. He even burned his son as an offering according to the abominable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel.
:4 And he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places and on the hills and under every green tree.
:10 When King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet (not Tiglath-Pileser) the king of Assyria, he saw the altar that was at Damascus.
:11 And Uriah the priest built the altar; in accordance with all that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus
:14 He removed the bronze altar and put it on the north side of his altar.
(This story, as applicable to Ahaz, is most aptly placed at the time of the fall of Samaria in 722 BCE Compare 2 Kings 16:9 / 2 Chronicles 28:20)
Whilst academic anti-biblical sentiment might for the most part be responsible for the general failure to unravel the particulars of the chronological history of Israel, in truth, the real reason is that no one has ever been able to ‘go outside their academic box’ to explore possibilities. Their vision has been too narrow.
If one can dismiss biblical chronology, one can also dismiss the narrative, and what is offered in this article is one concept that has never been explored.
For the ‘King’s Calendar’ chronological presentation of the kings mentioned in this article, GO TO: The Divided Kingdom Chart