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Synchronisms of last Judean kings' regnal years and various events described in the Old Testament with regnal years of Neo-Babylonian rulers and events recorded in cuneiform documents - PDF version

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The 37th year of the Neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar has been unambiguously dated to 568/567 BC based on an ancient astronomical diary (VAT 4956)[1][2]. That, in turn, allowed precise dating of events described in other Babylonian documents of particular importance for Jewish history:

  • the last Egyptian intervention in Assyria[3]:20 in the summer of the 17th year of Nabopolassar was recorded on tablet BM 21901[4] and has been linked[5]:12-19[6]:416[7]:108[8]:180 to the biblical battle of Megiddo[9][10] and the death of Josiah[11] (usually dated to Sivan[5]:18[6]:418[7]:108[12] or early Tammuz[7]:108[8]:181 609 BC), the three-month reign of Jehoahaz (while Necho II was engaged in fighting for[13]:43[14][15]:184 Assyrians)[8]:181-182[3]:32 and the subsequent installment of Jehoiakim (placed either before[6]:419 or after[8]:181-182 Tishri 1, 609 BC);
  • the battle of Carchemish in the spring or summer of Nabopolassar's 21st year mentioned on tablet BM 21946[16] took place around Sivan[17]:25[18]:226 605 BC and was identified as the event spoken of in the book of Jeremiah 46:2[17]:24[18]:226[5]:20[19]:290 while the subsequent conquest of Syro-Palestine by Babylonians has been associated with the siege of Jerusalem described in Daniel 1:1[15]:190[13]:66-67[8]:182ff.[17]:26 which in turn enabled scholars to synchronize a number of events recorded only in the Hebrew Scriptures[20][21][22];
  • the above mentioned tablet BM 21946 speaks of a military campaign in Syro-Palestine during Nebuchadnezzar's 7th year[23], seizing the city of Yaahudu[17]:72 on Adar 2 (dated to March 15/16 - evening to evening -, 597 BC)[17]:33, capturing its king and appoining there a new ruler. This series of events has been unanimously associated with a story found in 2 Chronicles 36:10[17]:34[8]:190 which deals with a siege of Jerusalem by Babylonians (a few months after the death of Jehoiakim)[24], the ensuing deportation of Jehoiachin and the installment of Zedekiah sometime around Nisan 1[25];
  • the fact of Jehoiachin, his family and servants having been captives in Babylon in the 13th year of Nebuchadnezzar and onwards has been verified following the publication of the so called Jehoiachin's Rations Tablets[26]
  • the accession year of Amel-Marduk was dated to 562/561 BC on the basis of various documents the best known of which is the Uruk King List (tablet IM 65066)[27]; this information was in turn used to date king Jehoiachin's release from prison on April 3 (Adar 27), 561 BC[28].

No chronicles recording military activities of Nebuchadnezzar during 593 - 562 BC exist except for tablet BM 33041[29] dated to the 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar (568/567 BC) and containing description of his army invading Egypt, which has also been cited in the context of predictions found in Ezekiel 29:17-20[30][31][32]. Due to this scarcity of extrabiblical sources one of the most important dates in Jewish history relating to the destruction of Jerusalem[33][34] is a matter of debate with some scholars favouring 587 BC[35][36] while others opting for 586 BC[37][38]. Neither view seems to be a majority[39]:21 and the interpretation depends on a number of factors, especially:

  • assuming either the accession year system or the non-accession year system for the last kings of Judah;
  • counting regnal years of the last Jewish rulers from either Nisan 1 or Tishri 1;
  • chossing either Adar or Nisan 597 BC as the beginning of king Zedekiah's reign and Jehoiachin's exile[40].

An indepth analysis of the subject seems to favour the 587 BC solution at the same time showing that the last kings of Judah may have employed Tishri-based non-accession year system[39]:21-38.

Source For details see "Description" above and the "References" section below this template
Author Apologist


  1. Neugebauer, Paul V.; Weidner, Ernst F. () Ein astronomischer Beobachtungstext aus dem 37. Jahre Nebukadnezars II (-567/66), Leipzig B.G. Teubner Retrieved on .
  2. VAT 4956 - transliteration and translation
  3. a b Lipschitz, Oded () The Fall and Rise of Jerusalem: Judah Under Babylonian Rule, Eisenbrauns (After the month of Ululu 609 BC there is no mention of Assyria or its last king, Ashur-uballit II, in Babylonian records)
  4. translation of tablet BM 21901
  5. a b c Horn, Siegfried H. (1967). "The Babylonian Chronicle and the Ancient Calendar of the Kingdom of Judah". Andrews University Seminary Studies V (1).
  6. a b c Clines, David J. A. () On the Way to the Postmodern: Old Testament Essays 1967-1998, A&C Black
  7. a b c Galil, Gershon () The Chronology of the Kings of Israel and Judah, BRILL
  8. a b c d e f Thiele, Edwin R. () The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, Kregel Academic
  9. Kalimi, Isaac () The Reshaping of Ancient Israelite History in Chronicles, Eisenbrauns, pp. 90 (Discussing 2 Chronicles 35:20 in the context of BM 21901)
  10. Reference to 2 Kings 23:29 in the context of BM 21901: Thiele 1970, p. 180; Kalimi 2005, p. 90.
  11. Placing 2 Kings 22:1 and 2 Chronicles 34:1 in the context of events described in BM 21901: Thiele 1970, p. 180.
  12. Kahn, Dan'el. "Revisiting the Date of King Josiah's Death" in: Alejandro F. Botta (Ed.) (2013). In the Shadow of Bezalel. Aramaic, Biblical, and Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Honor of Bezalel Porten. BRILL. p. 264.
  13. a b Kitchen, Kenneth Anderson () On the Reliability of the Old Testament, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing (The phrase "went up against Assyria" in 2 Kings 23:29 presented as a mistranslation of the intended "went up to [help] Assyria")
  14. Carmy, Shalom () Modern Scholarship in the Study of Torah: Contributions and Limitations, Rowman & Littlefield, pp. 86 (A possible interchange of ῾al with ᾽el evidenced by comparing 2 Kings 18:27 with Isaiah 36:12)
  15. a b Jones, Floyd Nolen () Chronology of the Old Testament, New Leaf Publishing Group (An example of the opposing view regarding H5921. However, Jones' claim that the Hebrew word על listed in the Strong's Concordance as number 5921 was never translated as "to" in the New American Standard Version is incorrect, e.g. H5921 in Genesis 38:12 was translated as "to" in NAS and similarly in 1 Chronicles 12:23).
  16. Translation of tablet BM 21946
  17. a b c d e f Wiseman, Donald J. () Chronicles of Chaldean Kings (626-556 BC) in the British Museum, Trustees of the British Museum
  18. a b Tadmor, Hayim (1956). "Chronology of the Last Kings of Judah". Journal of Near Eastern Studies 15 (4).
  19. Malamat, Abraham () History of Biblical Israel: Major Problems and Minor Issues, BRILL
  20. Stefanovic, Zdravko () Daniel: Wisdom to the Wise: Commentary on the Book of Daniel, Pacific Press Publishing, pp. 45-46 (Daniel 1:1 is using the accession system to refer to the 3rd year of Jehoiakim which was his 4th year according to the non-accession year system applied by Jeremiah 25:1. A similar synchronism can be observed in Thiele 1970, p. 182)
  21. Jeremiach 25:1 referring to the 4th year of Jehoiakim (using a Tishri-based non-accession year system or a Nisan-based accession year system) was identified as the accession year of Nebuchadnezzar: Tadmor 1956, p. 226; Lipschitz 2005, pp. 39, 45; Clines 1998, p. 399; Thiele 1970, pp 181 ff.
  22. The accession year of Nebuchadnezzar according to the Babylonian reckoning is equated with his 1st year based on Jeremiah 25:1 using the non-accession method: Clines 1998, p. 399.
  23. Nebuchadnezzar's 8th year according to 2 Kings 24:12 (non-accession year reckoning) is equated with his 7th year according to BM 21946 and Jeremiah 52:28 (accession year reckoning) in Clines 1998, p. 399. Moreover, Nebuchadnezzar's 8th year is synchronised with the accession of Zedekiah on the basis of 2 Kings 24:12 (Tadmor 1956, p. 226).
  24. The exact fate of Jehoiakim has been a mystery. Some scholars (esp. those adopting the accession year system for his reign) dated his death to Marcheshvan 22 (= December 10, 598 BC), i.e. the day of Jehoiachin's accession (e.g. Horn 1967, p. 21) which was before the arrival of main Babylonian forces. Others assumed that he died later on in Kislev (Lipschits, Oded (2002). "'Jehoiakim Slept with his Fathers...' (II Kings 24:6) - Did He?". Journal of Hebrew Scriptures 4: 23. DOI:10.5508/jhs.2002.v4.a1. ISSN 1203-1542.) or even Tevet (Green, Alberto R. (1982). "The fate of Jehoiakim". Andrews University Seminary Studies 20 (2): 106.). More recently it has been shown that the 2 Kings 24-25 and Jeremiah employed the non-accession year system for both Jewish and Babylonian rulers (Young 2004, pp. 32ff.) which places the death of Jehoiakim before Tishri 1, 598 BC.
  25. Some claim Zedekiah had already been in office for almost a month on Nisan 1, 597 BC ( Thompson, John Arthur () The Book of Jeremiah, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, pp. 729 ) while others argue his installment took place after Nisan 15 (Hayes, John H.; Hooker, Paul K. () A New Chronology for the Kings of Israel and Judah and Its Implications for Biblical History and Literature, Wipf and Stock Publishers, pp. 95 ). Similarly, Thiele had to date Jehoiachin's exile as having started after Nisan 10, 597 BC due to a problem posed by the synchronism recorded in Ezekiel 40:1 and placed the installment of Zedekiah before Nisan 1 to allow for the accession year in a Nisan-based accession year system supposedly used by Jeremiah and Ezekiel (Thiele 1970, p. 192). The exact date is not known.
  26. Pritchard, James Bennett; Fleming, Daniel E. () The Ancient Near East: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures, Princeton University Press, pp. 274-275
  27. Transliteration and translation of the Uruk King List
  28. The event described in 2 Kings 25:27 and Jeremiah 52:31 and dated to the 37th year of Jehoiachin's exile was synchronized with the accession year of Amel-Marduk (Thiele 1970, pp. 189-190; Longman, III, Tremper () Jeremiah, Lamentations (Understanding the Bible Commentary Series), Baker Books, pp. 475 , Tadmor 1956, p. 226).
  29. Horn, Siegfried H. (1978-04). "New Light on Nebuchadnezzar's Madness". Ministry Magazine. (Including a translation of BM 33041)
  30. Lundbom, Jack R. () Jeremiah 37-52, Doubleday, pp. 208
  31. Lipiński, Edward () On the Skirts of Canaan in the Iron Age: Historical and Topographical Researches, Peeters Publishers, pp. 198
  32. This saying of Ezekiel was dated to 1 Nisan (26 April) 571 BC on the assumption that Jehoiachin went to his exile after Nisan 1, 597 BC (Thiele 1970, p. 189; Blenkinsopp, Joseph () Ezekiel, Westminster John Knox Press, pp. 127 ). If Jehoiachin was taken to Babylon before Nisan 1 this saying should be dated a year earlier, i.e. to 1 Nisan (8 April) 572 BC.
  33. Apart from primary sources mentioned in other references, Jeremiah 39:2 and 52:5-6 were also taken into account (Thiele 1970, pp. 190, 192; Bright 2000, p. 330).
  34. The year preceding the fall of Jerusalem was Zedekiah's 10th year and has been synchronized with the 18th year of Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah applying in this case the non-accession year system to report Nebuchadnezzar's years acc. Clines 1998, p. 399) on the basis of Jeremiah 32:1 (Thiele 1970, p. 190; Tadmor 1956, p. 226). According to 2 Kings 25:1-9 and Jeremiah 52:12 the 11th year of Zedekiah was the year of the fall of Jerusalem and overlapped with Nebuchadnezzar's 19th year (Thiele 1970, p. 190; Tadmor 1956, p. 226). Clines interpreted the 19th year of the Babylonian king in Jeremiah 52:12 as reckoned by the non-accession year system and equated it with the 18th year of Nebuchadnezzar as recorded in Jeremiah 52:29 using the accession year reckoning (Clines 1998, p. 399).
  35. Bright, John () A History of Israel, Westminster John Knox Press, pp. 330
  36. The exact dates were calculated on the basis of 2 Kings 25:2-3.8 and Jeremiah 52:12 as follows: the fall of Jerusalem on Tammuz 9 (= July 29) 587 BC and the destruction of the city on Av 7 (= August 25) 587 BC (Horn 1967, p. 22).
  37. Kaiser, Jr., Walter C. () A History of Israel, B&H Publishing Group, pp. 421
  38. The exact dates were calculated on the basis of 2 Kings 25:2-3.8 and Jeremiah 52:12 as follows: the fall of Jerusalem on Tammuz 9 (= July 18) 586 BC and the destruction of the city on Av 7 (= August 14) 586 BC (Horn 1967, p. 22).
  39. a b Young, Rodger C. (2004-03). "When Did Jerusalem Fall?". JETS 47 (1).
  40. Various years of Jehoiachin's exile were synchronized with corresponding years counted from the destruction of Jerusalem and with some regnal years of Zedekiah:
    • Tevet 10, the 9th year of the exile (Ezekiel 24:1-2) was equated with Tevet 10, the 9th year of Zedekiah (2 Kings 25:1, Jeremiah 39:1; 52:4) in Thiele 1970, p. 190 (dated to 15 January 588 BC with the accession year system in mind and assuming the beginning of exile after Nisan 1, 597 BC; applying the non-accession year system to the reign of Zedekiah or assuming the beginning or the exile prior to Nisan 1, 597 BC the event has to be dated a year earlier as in Young 2004, p. 32, the precise date being December 28, 590 BC);
    • Tevet 5, the 12th year of the exile (Ezekiel 33:21) was placed in the same lunar year as the fall of Jerusalem in Thiele 1970, p. 191 (dated to 8 January 585 BC on the assumption that Jehoiachin's captivity began after Nisan 1, 597 BC as in Thiele 1970, p. 192; if Jehoiachin went to his exile before Nisan 1, 597 BC the report in Ezekiel 33:21 has to be redated to January 19, 586 BC as in Zimmerli, Walther () Ezekiel: A Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel, 2, Fortress Press, pp. 193 );
    • Nisan 10, the 25th year of the exile (Ezekiel 40:1) was synchronised with the 14th year after the fall of Jerusalem in Thiele 1970, pp. 191-192 (dated to 28 April 573 BC on the assumption that Jehoiachin's captivity began after Nisan 1, 597 BC as in Thiele 1970, p. 192; if Jehoiachin went to his exile before Nisan 1, 597 BC the passage in Ezekiel 40:1 has to be redated to April 10, 574 BC as in Klein, Ralph W. () Ezekiel: The Prophet and His Message, University of South Carolina Press, pp. 5 ).


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