Josephus Chronology: Antiquities of the Jews: Jewish Wars: History of Israel.Despite the obvious carelessness with which Josephus recorded some of his chronological material, it is apparent that he worked from original, chronologically correct data. As one begins to deconstruct his calculations, it becomes obvious that he had great difficulty in both understanding and applying the data that not only he himself researched and recorded in his own private notes, but that which was obviously supplied to him by other sources. Josephus had access to at least Six (6) ORIGINAL, chronological pieces of datum, that are no longer available to us.
Josephus: The Flawed Humanity of the Jewish Historian.
Josephus left for us a history of the Jews, that is somewhat troublesome in many details. Cornfeld (1982) in his introduction to the Jewish Wars says:
'Despite all discrepancies, ambiguities, contradictions and plain mistakes, the fact remains that Josephus was a highly reliable witness, not only with respect to events in Palestine and Jerusalem of his own time, but also, though to a somewhat lesser extent, with regard to earlier times, for which he depended on available traditional sources. In sum, despite ambiguities and exaggerations, his is the most comprehensive surviving account in existence...
The acknowledged problem with Josephus' material, is the same problem that exists in relation to the Bible, that is 'the Chronology'. It is flawed! It doesn't make sense! It is excessive!
The problem that we face with both, is the mindsets of those studying them. When one starts with an assumption that one's viewpoint is correct, when 'impasses' are encountered one has to rationalise them in order to get past them. Very few people seem to have the ability to study the material without preconception; without imposing on it their own prejudices.
Now despite the obvious carelessness with which Josephus recorded some of his chronological material, it is apparent that he worked from original, chronologically correct data. As one begins to deconstruct his calculations, it becomes obvious that he had great difficulty in both understanding and applying the data that not only he himself researched and recorded in his own private notes, but that which was obviously supplied to him by other sources.
Despite the complexities of his chronological compositions however, as one begins to deconstruct his calculations via comparative studies of all his chronological quotations, it becomes very clear that his material is far from incomprehensible, and can assist in accurately guiding us through Israelite history.
The conclusions reached in 'The King's Calendar: The Secret of Qumran' (Chapter 20) indicate that it is reasonable to believe that Josephus had access to at least Six (6) ORIGINAL, chronological pieces of datum, that are no longer available to us. These are:
1.That Jerusalem was founded 995 years prior to David's reign.
2.That 'an' Exodus (Hyksos expulsion from Egypt) occurred 589 years prior to David's reign.
3.That 525 years elapsed between the Exile and Cyrus' kingship in Babylon.
4.That 995 years elapsed between the commencement of David's reign and Aristobulus in 104 BCE.
5.That 423 years elapsed between Cyrus'as King of the Medes, and the death of Judas Maccabeus.
6.That 908.5 years elapsed between the Israelite entrance into Canaan, and the Babylonian Exile.
These datum were not invented by Josephus, but were made available to him either by specific persons, or extant records, and were provided from within the perspective of the 'artificial' calendar used by the Essenes, in which the historical records were transcribed into 'yearly' periods of time comprised of 12 months of 4 weeks of 7 days (ie. 336 days). This process in effect created an artificial period of 13 years, for every true 12 years of recorded Israelite History.
The original premise of research in 'The King's Calendar:The Secret of Qumran', was that chronological contradictions are only apparent, but not real. This premise facilitated in the discovery of the artificial nature of the chronological records of Israel, and ultimately those of Josephus, and demonstrated that while some contradictions are real, most are not. They are just references based within a different chronological approach.
Although Josephus did in fact provide some erroneous references, there is a 'logical' basis for the figures he quotes. His figures are not so much erroneous, as that his understanding of the application of the chronological references led him to incorrect conclusions. He is not alone in this for most Biblical Chronologists, historians and archaeologists do the same thing.
An Example of Error
As one example of both a plain mistake and a contradiction in Josephus' work (for he quotes otherwise elsewhere in his writings), he states in The Jewish War Book 6 Chapter 10.1.(439) [Cornfield, 1982, pp.451], in regards to the time lapse between King David and the Babylonian Exile, that 477.5 years elapse between these two events.
This contradicts what can be found in the Biblical records. The Biblical data for the Southern Kingdom (Judah) only records 473.5 years for this period. He is in error. But as is argued in the 'King's Calendar' Chapter 20, such errors arise because Josephus was not a very organised person; he little understood the data before him; he appears to have had at his disposal materials that were 'supplied' to him, and he never kept track of what he had previously written. He was, to put it clearly, 'very sloppy'. This does not mean however that he made anything up, or that the information upon which he relied was erroneous.
Examples of His Carelessness
Josephus was either careless or misunderstood his own, or some other person's notes as can be seen in the following examples:
In Antiquities of the Jews - Book Thirteen, he states that 82 years elapse between the Death of Judas Maccabeus (c.161 BCE) and the Death of Queen Alexandra (c.67 BCE), and in so doing, he under quoted by Twelve Years. There were in fact 94 solar years.
In Antiquities of the Jews - Book Fourteen, he states that 32 years elapse from the Death of Queen Alexandra (c.67 BCE) to the Death of Antigonus (c.37 BCE), and over quoted by Two years.
However if you notice, in calculating the time lapse between the extreme parameters Josephus listed in Books thirteen and fourteen, (from the death of Judas Maccabeus in 161 BCE. to the death of Antigonus in 37 BCE), he has only provided 114 of the 124 years that exist. He has underquoted by Ten (10) years.
Since Queen Alexandra reigned 10 years, we can conclude that Josephus has failed to understand the material before him, and failed to 'actually' include her Ten Year reign in his figures, despite having referred to her Death.
From this we can see that while Josephus relied upon reliable records, his use of them was careless.
He was not however, always careless or incorrect. His reference in Book Fifteen to the 18 years from the Death of Antigonus (c.37 BCE) to the Completion of Herod's Temple (c.18 BCE) was correct in Solar Years, as was also his reference in Book Sixteen to the 12 years between completion of the Temple and Deaths of Alexander and Aristobulus (c.7 BCE). But Note that these references are in Solar years.
Examples of His Ignorance and Carelessness in Self Correction
Josephus was obviously ignorant of the 'Artificial Nature' of many of the Records he had at his disposal. For Example: The Jewish War, Book One - Chapter III [Cornfeld 1982, p.25. Ch. III (1) 70.]
Josephus states that from Cyrus to Aristobulus, 471 years elapsed.(sOLAR YEARS = 434/435). However in Antiquities 13:11:1 [Cornfeld, 1982, p.25 ] he changed this figure to 481 years.
When the 471 years are measured out (artificially) from Cyrus to Aristobolus, the reference is correct. But when you measure out the 481 years (from the perspective of the genuine solar year) from the commencement of the reign of Aristobolus, its' commencement point is not the reign of Cyrus as stated, but the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BCE.
The original reference is correct in artificial years for the stated parameters (Cyrus - Aristobolus), and the latter is correct in solar years but for a different set of parameters (Destruction of Temple to Aristobolus).
Example of Ignorance and Error
Josephus' ignorance of the artificial content of material provided him, caused him to err when he tried to separate or isolate specific sections of time. For Example:
He appears to have had at his disposal, an artificial record of the time lapsing between the reign of King David, and the overthrow of Babylon by King Cyrus, a period of 525 artificial years.
Its' original composite parts would have been the 473.5 Biblical Artificial years between David and the Exile, plus 51.5 Artificial years between the Exile and Cyrus.
These 51.5 artificial years however are only equal to 47.5 Solar years.
In The Jewish War Book 6 Chapter 10.1 (439) [Cornfield, 1982, pp.451], when Josephus quotes 477.5 years for the duration of the Monarchy, this figure is derived by subtracting the 47.5 SOLAR years between The Exile and Cyrus, from the Artificial Figure of 525 years for the period extending from King David to the overthrow of Babylon by Cyrus. The mathematical process was quite straightforward, for he did not know that an artificial calendar existed. It does not excuse him however for failing to have noticed that he was contradicting his other references for this exact same period of time.
From all of the foregoing we can see that Josephus was not really conversant with the material with which he was dealing, and had no awareness of its' artificial nature.
MIXED CALCULATIONS: Mixing Artificial chronological material with True Solar Years.
Joseph states that between King David and Titus 1179 years elapse. The Jewish War Book Six Chap. X.I. (440) [Cornfeld, 1982, p.452]
His calculations combine 'artificial' material and 'Natural' material. For this he may be excused, since he was unaware of the artificial nature of most of the chronological records. Jerusalem fell to Titus in October CE 70. Calculating back in time by 1,179 SOLAR years, we arrive at 1109 BCE, which is about a century earlier than what is possible as the commencement year of David's reign. This figure is wrong.
The Composition of the 1179 years: Reconstructive Methodology
What Josephus Did was This
A. 173 years from Aristobolus to Titus
B. 481 years from Cyrus to Aristobolus (actually Exile to Aristobolus)
C. 47.5 years from Exile 586 BCE to Cyrus
D. 477.5 years from David to Exile.
A Total of 1179 years from the Start of King David's Reign to Titus
1. Between A.D. 70, the fall of Jerusalem under Titus and 104/3 BCE (the reign of Aristobulus), 173 solar years elapse. This part of the figure is correct.
2. The addition of these 173 years to the 481 SOLAR years Josephus applied to the time frame between Cyrus (538 BCE) and Aristobulus (104 BCE), results in a total of 654 years. The 481 years however are incorrect as they should be applied from Aristobolus to the Exile in 586 BCE.
3. To these 654 SOLAR years we can add the 47.5 SOLAR years that transpire between the Babylonian Exile (586 BCE) and Cyrus (539 BCE). This is duplication for these years are covered in the 481 year figure.
4. To this total of 701.5 SOLAR years, we add the false figure of 477.5 years that Josephus calculated as transpiring between David and the Babylonian Exile. This is wrong for two reasons. Firstly it is a miscalculation, and secondly, Josephus in using it, is including an artificial reference with his solar year references.
5. The Final Total is 1179 years.
The Correct figures that Josephus ought to have used here are:
187.5 (artificial years) ie 173 solar years from Titus to Aristobolus
471.0 (artificial years) Josephus original and correct quote from Cyrus to Aristobolus
51.5 (artificial years) not the 47.5 Solar years between 586 BCE and Cyrus' control of Babylon
473.5 (artificial years) not 477.5 SOLAR years from David to Exile in 586 BCE
A total of 1183.5 artificial years from the Start of King David's reign to Titus.
When you remove from this the 13.5 duplicate years within the Biblical Narratives Assumptions & Limitations No.6 the final figure becomes 1170 Artificial years.
An Example of Correct Data but confused application
Josephus is specific when he provides chronological references for this event, however what becomes obvious is that he was not talking about the Mosaic Exodus but the Hyksos Exodus from Egypt. (Even if he didn't mean to).
Antiquities. Book 10:8:5 Re: The burning of the temple : From the Departure from Egypt to Fall of Jerusalem (in 586 BCE) 1062.5 years elapse.
Chronologically this is excessive of anything indicated in biblical or profane sources. In true Solar years, it takes us to 1648 BCE, which by no stretch of the imagination can refer to the Mosaic Exodus.
In artificial years however, it points to the year 1566 BCE, some 117 solar or 127 artificial years earlier than the Exodus. As such, it falls within various dates for the expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt. Such dates range from 1583 BCE (Marston 1935, p 83) until after the commencement of the 18th Dynasty under Ahmose (c. 1570 - 1550 BCE)
Josephus never stated that this reference was to the Mosaic Exodus, we just presumed it. The texts simply states 'from the departure out of Egypt'.
When you remove the excess 13.5 years from the Biblical Sources, the final date for this event becomes 1554 BCE (Line 1048 on the King's Calendar)
The reference is provided in Artificial years, and points to the Expulsion of the Hyksos in 1554 BCE.
Whatever may be the current perception of Josephus' chronological references, they are not the wild imaginings of a drug crazed religious zealot. He used legitimate data without understanding it, and appears to have been disorganised in his records. His references however, can be understood.
1. An erroneous Reference to the Fall of Samaria.
In Antiquities Book 9:14:1 [ 280 ] ( Whiston, 1993, p.264 ) Josephus states that "...the ten tribes of the Israelites were removed out of Judea nine hundred and forty-seven years after their forefathers were come out of the land of Egypt, and possessed themselves of the country......" The Date for this removal was 722 BCE, the Fall of Samaria under Hoshea of Israel.
This figure of 947 years elapsing between the exodus and the fall of samaria in 722 BCE is written off by everyone as a complete fantasy, for it would require that the exodus occurred in 1669 BCE. While the reference is wrong however, it is not fanciful.
As previously mentioned Antiquities 10:8:5 states that between the Exodus and the Burning of the Temple, 1062.5 years elapse, and as also previously mentioned, these years refer not to the Mosaic Exodus but to that of the Hyksos from Egypt, and pinpoint the year 1554 BCE, which falls in the middle of current academic speculation.
The Breakdown of that ARTIFICIAL 1062.5 year figure is:
589 (ARTIFICIAL) Years from EXODUS TO DAVID + 473.5 (ARTIFICIAL) years from David to the Burning of the Temple.
Since the matter at hand is the fall of Samaria in 722 BCE, we can reconfigure the breakdown of the 1062.5 years and divided it into two different parts ie EXODUS TO 722 BCE + 722 TO 586 BCE
When we do this however the result is 914.5 years from Exodus to 722 and 148 years from 722 to 586 BCE.This is at variance with Josephus' 947 years from Exodus to 722 BCE, and would require that we reduce the 148 years from 722 to 586 BCE., to 115.5 years. There is a variation of 32.5 years.
In this case, Josephus' intention appears to have been to subtract the time difference between the Fall of Samaria (722 BCE) and (586 BCE) the Fall of Jerusalem (136 Solar Years) from 1062.5 years, to arrive at a balance of years that he presumed would apply to the period between Exodus and the fall of Samaria.
This ought to have resulted in the following equation : 1062.5 less 136 = 926 years. Remembering that Josephus was unaware of the artificial construct, any years he personally calculates will be in solar years; What he appears in fact to have done is subtract the time difference between 701 BCE, when Sennacherib invaded Hezekiah in Judah, and the Exile in 586 BCE., or 115 Solar years.
From his original source quoting a time span of 1062.5 years between the Exodus and the Babylonian Exile, AND WHICH HE BELIEVED TO BE RECORDED IN TRUE SOLAR YEARS, Josephus erroneously deducted 115 years (701 - 586 BCE) instead of 136 years (722 - 586 BCE), resulting in a 947 year calculation for the period 'Exodus to Fall of Samaria', instead of 914.5 years. These 914.5 artificial years then relate not to the Mosaic Exodus, but to the expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt during the 16th Century BCE.
2. Contradictions to the Biblical Record
Within Josephus' chronological references, there are a few references to the lengths of the reigns of certain kings during the Divided Kingdom period that do not match the information provided in the Biblical records. I would like to draw your attention to them for they are not all wrong.
The Reign of Omri
1 Kings 16:23 states that "In the thirty and first year of Asa king of Judah began Omri to reign over Israel, and reigned twelve years; six years reigned he in Tirzah" This Scripture appears to state that he commenced his 12 years in Asa's 31st year, but a perusal of the other related references indicates that it was in Asa's 31st year that he commenced his Six (6) year sole reign.
HOWEVER Josephus in Antiquities 8:12:5 states that Omri reigned 6 years in Tirzah commencing in the 30th year of king Asa of Judah. In Appendix Five one can see that both of these references are correct.
From Josephus perspective, Omri commenced his six years in Tirzah in the 30th SOLAR YEAR OF ASA'S REIGN, whilst 1 kings 16:23 indicates that Omri ascended to the throne (of the one Nation) in the 31st artificial year.
The Reign of Athaliah
According to Josephus 9:7:1 Athaliah reigned 5 years. Within Appendix Five it appears to be correct, but it is not. Athaliah's 6th Artificial year commenced in October 844, and her 6th Solar Regnal year ought to have commenced in Nisan of 843 BCE. Had it not, then Joash would claim 843 BCE as his First Solar Regnal Year. The Synchronisms do not appear to support this. So we can only assume that while technically Josephus was incorrect, we might assume that she died very shortly after the New Year (Nisan) so as to not in any practical sense, be considered to have reigned her 6th year.
The Reign of Jehu
2 Kings 10:36 states that Jehu reigned 28 years. Josephus in Antiquities 9:8:1 says it was for 27 years. Either we have an error in transcription in relation to the artificial calendar, or an error in Solar year reckoning, for Jehu reigned 25 solar years.
The Reign of Jehoahaz of Israel
According to Antiquities 9:8:5 Jehoahaz son of Jehu of Israel, reigned for 17 years commencing in the 20th year of Jehoash of Judah. The Bible however states that he reigned for 17 years commencing in the 23rd year of Jehoash of Judah - 2 Kings 13:1. Both of these references are correct, for in the one it refers to artificial reckoning and in the other to the solar year reckoning. SEE APPENDIX FIVE CHART.
The Reigns of Jehoash of Judah and Jehoash of Israel
According to Josephus Antiquities 9:8:6 and 2 Kings 13:10 Jehoash of Israel commenced to reign in the 37th year of Jehoash of Judah. From these we can assume that Jehoash of Israel commenced during his father's reign. However, it can also be demonstrated that the reference has a solar year application. Jehoash of Israel's first REgnal/SOLAR year commences in Nisan of 806 BCE which is the 37th REGNAL/SOLAR year of Amaziah. These references can be seen as both artificial and solar year references.
The Reign of JeroboamII
In Antiquities 9:10:1 Josephus says that in 15th year of Amaziah, Jeroboam commenced to reign for 40 years - not the 41 Years of 2 Kings 14:23. In Appendix Five you can see that in all, Jeroboam reigned only 37 Solar Years, therefore Josephus reference cannot be to Solar Years. Its' variation from Scripture can be seen as a calculation commencing one year later than the presentation in Appendix five, based on the 41 years of the Biblical record. The Biblical record actually requires him to share both his first and last years. Josephus has not included both of these years.
The Reign of Uzziah
In Antiquities 9:10:3 Josephus writes: 'After the same manner did Uzziah, the son of Amaziah, begin to reign over the two tribes in Jerusalem, in the fourteenth year of the reign of Jeroboam'. THIS IS CORRECT IN SOLAR YEAR SYNCHRONISM.
3. The Three Charts of the Reigns of the Kings of Israel and Judah.
The original premise of research in 'The King's Calendar', was that contradictions are only apparent, but not real. This premise facilitated in the discovery of the reality behind apparent contradictions. As we have seen, some contradictions are NOT TRULY CONTRADICTORY, they are just references based within a different chronological approach.
In THE FOLLOWING PHOTOGRAPH you can see the reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah for the period of the divided kingdom. The reigns are presented from three perspectives. The first two columns on the left represent the original data quoted in the Scriptures. In the second set, we can see the adjustment that occurs when the reigns are synchronised according to Scripture. In the third set, we see the actual length of reigns in Solar years.
The King's Calendar : The Secret of Qumran : JOSEPHUS - CHAPTER 20
Chapter Twenty contains 40 discussions on chronological references, the conclusion to which demonstrates that the correct figures in artificial years for those that Josephus provides are as follows:
i) Aristobulus to Titus. 173 solar years = 187.4 artificial years
ii) Cyrus to Aristobulus. The correct artificial figure is 471 years.
iii) Babylonian Exile to Cyrus. The Correct Chronological Reference is 52 artificial years.
iv) Monarchal Israel from David to the Babylonian Exile 473.5 artificial years As per Biblical Narratives
v) Departure from Egypt to David From the expulsion of the Hyksos to King David is 589 artificial years
vi) Founding of Jerusalem to David The Correct figure is 995 artificial years
vii) Departure from Egypt to Babylonian Exile The Expulsion of the Hyksos to the Babylonian Exile is correct at 1062.5 artificial years
viii) Founding of Jerusalem to the Babylonian Exile This is a correct artificial figure of 1468.5 artificial years
ix) Babylonian Exile to Aristobulus Artificially this is 525 years.
x) Error of 13.5 artificial years
The Biblical Narrative, which is reflected in all the ancient sources, contains an accumulative error of 13.5 years, the result of overlapping reigns. (Twelve years overlap Uzziah and Amaziah, one year overlap Jotham to Hezekiah, and 6 months assigned Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin)
Appendix 12 & 17 charts are freely available on line for students wishing to check out the methodology of the King's Calendar Research.
In addition to its researches in Josephus the King's Calendar is currently providing a series on Seder Olam Rabbah [See Bibliography] and a Series called 'The Law, Rules of Evidence & Archaeology.
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Since 2004 he has been writing academic articles, social commentaries and photographic 'Stories from China' both here at KingsCalendar, and formerly as a contributing columnist at Magic City Morning Star News (Maine USA) where from 2009 to 2015 he was Stand-in Editor. He currently has a column at iPatriot.com and teaches English to Business English and Flight Attendant College Students in Suzhou City Jiangsu Province People's Republic of China.)
BenDedek originally created the site to publicize his research results into the Chronology of Ancient Israel. Those results were published under the title: 'The King's Calendar: The Secret of Qumran.' Whilst there have been many attempts to solve the chronological riddle of the Bible's synchronisms of reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah and their synchronism with other Ancient Near Eastern Nations, no other research is based on a simple mathematical formula which could, if it is incorrect, be disproved easily. To date, no one has been able to dismiss the mathematical results of this research.
Free to air Academic articles set forth Apologetics for and results of his discovery of an "artificial chronological scheme" running through the Bible, Josephus, the Damascus Documents of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Seder Olam Rabbah. Check the Chapter Precis Page to see details of each chapter and to gain access to the Four Free to Air Chapters
(The Download book does not contain a section on Seder Olam)
Definition: King's Calendar Chronological Research
The Premise: Between the 5th and 3rd centuries BCE (but continuing down to at least 104 BCE), Sectarian redactors transcribed the legitimate 'solar year' chronological records of Israel and Judah, into an artificial form, with listed years as each comprised of 12 months of 4 weeks of 7 days, or 336 days per year, thus creating a 13th artificial year where 12 solar years existed.
When the Synchronous Chronological Data provided in the Books of Kings and Chronicles for the Divided Kingdom Period are measured in years of 336 days, the synchronisms actually align. [Refer to Appendix 5. to see how it synchronises the Divided Kingdom Period]