Topical Study tool for Students: Judges of Israel This article has been designed for students as a quick study tool. It is a Topic Excerpt from Seder Olam Rabbah (No.4) The Period of the Judges. Biblical Chronology for the Period of the Judges is understood to be excessively erroneous, and the chronologies of both Josephus and Seder Olam Rabbah make it apparent that this has been known for a very long time.
Topic 9. Seder Olam : Ehud & 80 years of Peace - Judges 3:30
Biblical Chronology for the Period of the Judges is understood to be excessively erroneous, and the chronologies of both Josephus and Seder Olam Rabbah make it apparent that this has been known for a very long time. How these two deal with the data however is different. The following is a quick insight into how the Seder Olam Rabbah overlaps various judgeships and years. For Example:
1. Judges 3:8 / 8 years Serving Cushanrishathaim [Counted in Othniel's 40 years]
2. Judges 3:14 / 18 years Serving Moab [Counted in Ehud]
3. Judges 4:4 / 20 years Oppression [Counted in Deborah]
4. Judges 10:3 / 21 years not 22 for Jair [Sharing 1 year with Tola]
5. Judges 10:8 / 16 years not 18 years of Oppression [Two years of Jephthah]
6. Judges 12:8 / 6 years not 7 for Ibzan [Shared 1 year with Jephthah]
7. Judges 12:13 / 7 years not 8 for Abdon [Shared 1 year with Elon]
8. Judges 13:1 / 40 years Philistine Oppression [Counted in Samson & Jephthah(Eli?)]
The Book of Judges, Seder Olam Rabbah and Josephus however, all ascribe 80 years to Ehud's Judgeship. The King's Calendar ascribes only 18 years, whilst others ascribe only Eight.
ii) How long did Ehud Reign?
Whilst the Book of Judges makes it appear that Ehud judged Israel for 80 years, the Seder Olam Rabbah, by overlaying 18 years of oppression on Ehud's judgeship, effectively increases Ehud's judgeship to 98 years. Here is what the Book of Judges says:
Judges 3:14 And the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years :15 But when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised them up a saviour, Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite,
Judges 3:29 And they smote of Moab at that time about ten thousand men, every lusty man, and every man of valor; and there escaped not a man.
Judges 3:30 So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest fourscore years.
Judges 3:31 And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, who smote of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox-goad; and he also saved Israel.
Judges 34:1 And the children of Israel again did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, when Ehud was dead.
It appears that Ehud 'judged' Israel for 80 years; that his defeat of the Moabites occurred at the very commencement of his judgeship; and that an 80 year period of peace ensued.
iii) Successive Judgeships?.
Seder Olam Rabbah deals with the excessive Biblical Chronology, by overlaying periods of oppression, on the reigns of various judges. That there was felt a need to do so relates to three difficulties we have with regard to the Period of the Judges, and with this time frame in particular.
Firstly there is need to get rid of some of the excess years provided for, as Seder Olam Rabbah attempted to do.
Secondly, it is difficult to follow the exact meaning of the texts. For instance, Seder Olam Rabbah takes the approach that each judge mentioned, had their judgeships in succession. That is to say, one after the other without a break between them. That is why all periods of Oppression are overlaid on the times allocated for Judges at those times of Oppression. But you can read the text [primary text reading] as though judges only arose as the need arose, and therefore, there were breaks in the list.
Thirdly, with regard to Ehud, if we read that there was 'peace' during his judgeship, we must then believe that he died at the age of at least 100 years. That there was peace, is attributed to his strong leadership. It is hard to imagine that the enemy held off until this 100 year old man died. Didn't he raise up strong underlings?
iv) Overlaying Periods of Oppression.
As mentioned, Seder Olam Rabbah deals with the excessive chronology for the Judges Period, by overlaying periods of oppression, on the time frames provided for various judges. For example,
We are told that while Othniel provided 40 years of peace, the eight years of Serving Cushanrishathaim, should be treated as part of those 40 years. It becomes a contradiction, and therefore the Seder Olam Rabbah is incorrect to delete these years of oppression.
The Book of Judges makes it appear that Ehud's success resulted in an 80 year peace. But if you follow the Seder Olam Rabbah at this point in overlaying Eglon's 18 years of oppression onto Ehud's judgeship, then it requires believing that for the first 18 years of Ehud's judgeship, he was ineffective against this King of Moab. That is not the primary text reading. Furthermore, it requires that he had a judgeship of 98 years, and was about 35-40 years old when the 80 years of peace commenced, making him 120 years old when he died.
The same situation arises in relation to the judgeship of Deborah.
Judges 4:3,4 And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD.....Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, she judged Israel at that time. It reads that she was the judge during the 20 years of oppression. This is further impressed upon us by Verse 24: And the hand of the children of Israel prevailed more and more against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.
However in Judges 5:31 we read: "So perish all Thine enemies, O LORD; but they that love Him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might. And the land had rest forty years". This verse appears to contradict the first two.
But in Judges 4:23 it says: "So God subdued on that day Jabin the King of Canaan before the Children of Israel. Which day? The Day that Deborah instructed Barak to attack the enemy". While we might read these verses as contradictions, the primary text reading is that Deborah was the judge at that time, and that as a result of what she instigated, a 40 year peace ensued.
Whilst it might be said that the redactors were not exactly sure how to apply the material in the ancient records, it does appear however, that the Seder Olam Rabbah is not justified in overlaying these periods of Oppression on the various judgeships.
With that as the case however, the error/s in the chronological tabulations must lie elsewhere.
v) Removing the Excess years.
Since there is excessive chronological data provided for the Period of the Judges, and in view of what appears in the foregoing sections, the King' Calendar reduces Ehud's reign to just 18 years.
Why 18 years and not the 8 years accepted by others? Because an 8 year peace would provide Samuel with a 42 year Judgeship, whereas an 18 year judgeship for Ehud results in a 32 year judgeship for Samuel, and this figure of 32 years, is found in the chronologies of Josephus.
Josephus' reference to a combined period for Samuel and Saul of 32 years, [via the lens of the King's Calendar], speaks to a possibility of a 'corrupted' text that originally provided Samuel with a 32 year judgeship.
To give Ehud an 8 year judgeship, would be to increase Samuel's judgeship to 42 years. Furthermore, it would require lowering the 282 years elapsing between the capture of Heshbon and Jepthah's judgeship as perceived by the King's Calendar, to just 272 years. Refer: The Period of the Judges
From a King's Calendar perspective, having removed 62 years of excessive data from the period of the Judges that preceeds that of Jephthah, [in reference to Heshbon's capture 300 years earlier], we are still left with excessive chronology.
vi. Samson and the Philistine Oppression.
While in the preceeding section, the argument was that it is incorrect for the Seder Olam Rabbah to overlay periods of oppression onto the time frames provided for judges, on this side of Jephthah's judgeship, the converse would be true.
Judges 13:1 And the children of Israel again did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.
This contextually occurs immediately after the death of Abdon.
The Book of Judges makes it quite clear that Samson's judgeship took place within the 40 year oppression of the Philistines.
Judges 16:31 Tells us that Samson judged Israel for 20 years and
that at the time of his death he said: v.30 'Let me die with the Philistines.' And he bent with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead that he slew at his death were more than they that he slew in his life.
From the preceeding We know that we can remove a least a further 20 years from the excessive chronological calculations for the period of the judges in the time of Samson. Additionally, Seder Olam Rabbah says: "the Eternal gave them in the hand of the Philistines for forty years," 20 in the time of Jephthah and 20 in the time of Samson. [We note here that there is a primary text reading error, for Jephthah did not rule for 20 years]. We do know however from the contextual meaning of Judges 13:1, that the other 20 years occur of Philistine oppression occurred during the judgeship of Eli. This is confirmed in 1 Samuel Chapter 4. "for there was war with the Philistines".
There is every reason to reduce the 450 years provided by the Book of Judges, by at least 108 years. [62 from Ehud, and 40 from Samson and Eli]. If you calculate this in relation to a 440 year period between Entry into Canaan and Solomon's 4th year, you will note that there is still a lack of sufficient time within which to fit the judgeships of Joshua and Samuel, and include time for King Saul. That particular issue however, will be held over to the next article.
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 Five to see how it synchronises the Divided Kingdom Period]
General formula for Biblical Data conversion:
The formula for constructing the artificial calendar was:
'X' times 364 equals 'Y' days
'Y' days divided by 336 equals 'Z' artificial years.
'X' = any given number of 'real/solar' years
364 = perceived days in the sectarian calendar
'Y' = number of days calculated
336 = number of days in an artificial year
'Z' = artificial years = 1.083'X' and represents the original number of the converted years plus 8%.
To reverse the process by hand:
'Z' years times 336 equals 'Y' divided by 364 equals the Number of 'X' years converted.
To see how effective this method is, SEE:Appendix 5:Diagrammatic Reconstruction of Israelite History from 936 to 586 BCE:
The Principle of Linear Causality
The King's Calendar is a very simple approach to Biblical Chronology. It substitutes a value of 336 days for every year listed in Scripture. As far as the Divided Kingdom is concerned, when you use this 336 day year value, the synchronisms actually work. To see how effective this method is, SEE:Appendix 5: Diagrammatic Reconstruction of Israelite History from 936 to 586 BCE
Because it is a mathematical system, the King's Calendar must abide by certain mathematical rules, the most important of which, is that if you change any date for any day, month, or year every other day, month, or year is effected and must also change. It's like a 'domino effect'. Chronological references cannot be 'forced' to fit, and nor can they simply be ignored or 'compressed' as is the usual case with historians and archaeologists.
If any King's Calendar chronological determination disagrees with anything in the history books, it must argue the case as to why the history books are wrong, or why the evidence for an assertion is untrustworthy. If the King's Calendar successfully defends its' position, then the history books cannot be treated as definitive, and if the King's Calendar is 'proven' wrong, then every other chronological reference it provides is also wrong.
Because of this, the King's Calendar Chronological Reconstruction of Israel's history is unique, in that its' methodology can be scientifically (mathematically) tested and demonstrated to be either true or false. Its' chronological predictions are able to be 'proved' or 'disproved'.
About the KingsCalendar Publisher
R.P.BenDedek is the owner and Editor of KingsCalendar.com which was originally set up 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
R.P. BenDedek also writes social commentaries and photographic 'Stories from China' both at KingsCalendar, and as a contributing columnist at Magic City Morning Star News in Maine USA.
He has been teaching Conversational English in China since 2003 and currently (2013) is teaching in Suzhou City Jiangsu Province.