MESSIAH: HIS FIRST COMING SCHEDULED
CHAPTER XIV THE PERIOD OF THE RESTORATION
WHATEVER God says, He will perform. In the first warnings which He gave
to the Jews relative to their disobeying Him and His scattering them
among the nations, He declared that He would bring them back to their
own land and use them in blessing the world. (See such passages as
Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 4:25-31; and 28.) The prophets, especially
Isaiah, foretold their final reestablishment in the land of the fathers.
Jeremiah, however, spoke very specifically concerning the Babylonian
captivity and their return after a period of 70 years. Such a prophecy
is found in Jeremiah 25.
Being faithful to His Word, the Lord, as He had promised (Isa.
44:24-45:13), moved upon the heart of Cyrus king of Persia, who issued
the decree permitting the Jews to return to their land. The accounts of
this period are found in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai,
Since a number of false theories concerning this era have been accepted
without question, and since there is much confusion in regard to a
number of problems connected with it, the unraveling of the tangle will
require much detailed information and tedious labor. But to the task we
shall now address ourselves.
I. BIBLICAL EVIDENCE Since the Bible is the Word of God, we take its
statements at face value, using ordinary intelligence and common sense.
A. Statement of the Problem of the Persian Period
As has already been seen in 538 B.C.E. we pass from the consideration of
Babylonian history to that of the Medes and the Persians. Darius the
Mede and Cyrus the Persian reigned jointly for two years, namely, in 538
and 537. Upon the passing of Darius, Cyrus became sole rex in 536 B.C.
Thus far the evidence is very clear. But at this point we begin to
experience difficulties. The Persian period of universal history is the
darkest era of ancient times on
this side of the Exodus, since the records of the time have either not
been preserved to us, or have not been discovered.*
Our principal sources of information are the books of Ezra, Nehemiah,
and Esther. It is true that we have inscriptions from the times of
Darius the Mede, Cyrus, Cambyses, Smerdis, and Darius Hystaspes. The
Behistun inscription in the Zagros Mountains which was written either in
the fifth or the sixth year of Darius Hystaspes gives us quite a bit of
information of contemporary events. No assistance of value can be
gathered from this source.
We obtain no help from the Jewish, the Greek, or the Persian histories.
According to Persian and Jewish traditions, the Persian Empire lasted 52
years. According to Martin Anstey, clay tablets unearthed help to assist
in establishing the chronology for the reigns of Cyrus, Cambyses,
Pseudo-Smerdis, and Darius Hystaspes, but after Darius we do not have
any that will aid us in determining the date of a single reign.
The generally-received chronology is based upon the canons of Ptolemy,
an astronomer and historian of the second century of the present era. He
depended upon calculations and guesses made by Eratosthenes and vague
floating traditions. According to Ptolemy the Persian period was 205
years long. Assuming that the chronology is correct as far back as the
conquest of Alexander in 331 B.C.E., we shall see that the Persian
period was of only 123 years duration, whereas, according to Ptolemaic
reckoning, it was 205 years. We have, therefore, a real problem in
ascertaining the exact facts in the case.
B. The Received Chronology of the Persian Period I will give the
received chronology for this period as Anstey has presented it in The
Romance of Bible Chronology, Vol. II, p. 233:
* An article in the daily papers announce the fact that in recent months
the archaeologists digging at Persepolis, the ancient capital of Persia,
have unearthed 150,000 tablets. If this report is correct, it may be
that much new and startling light might burst forth, not only on the
Persian period, but also upon the preceding as well as following
centuries. Let us hope that such will be the case. Before it is known
what they may contain, I am bold to go on record, affirming my belief
that not one fact which might be brought to light will contradict
anything the Scriptures say. Nothing thus far has been discovered that
can in the least throw doubt upon these Sacred Oracles. Neither can
anything be found that will.
Cyrus, as Co-Rex with Darius the Mede.................B.C. 538
Cyrus, as sale
(Pseudo-Smerdis, 7 mos.)
Xerxes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ....
... . . . B.C. 485
(Artabanus, 7 mos.)
Artaxerxes Longimanus .........................................B.C. 464
(Xerxes II, 2 mos.)
(Sogdianus, 7 mos.)
Darius II, Nothus.....................................................B.C.
ArtaxerxesII, Mnemon............................................B.C. 404
Artaxerxes III, Ochus..............................................B.C.
Arogus or Arses......................................................B.C.
Darius III, Codomannus, reigned 335-331, slain....B.C. 330
"The generally received opinion is that Cambyses and Pseudo-Smerdis are
not mentioned in Scripture, that Xerxes is the Ahasuerus of Esther, and
that Artaxerxes Longimanus is the Artaxerxes of Ezra 7:1 and Nehemiah
2:1, 5:14 and 13:6."
We shall turn to the Hebrew text of the books of Chronicles, Ezra,
Nehemiah, and Esther and scrutinize them microscopically to ascertain
the facts in the case.
C. Correcting the Chronology of the Persian Period
The present state of the received chronology is in such great confusion
that it is utterly impossible for one to arrive at the historical facts
unless he is willing to investigate all the factors involved. A strained
interpretation has been forced upon the records of Chronicles, Ezra,
Nehemiah, and Esther in the interest of a preconceived theory;
therefore, we shall in this investigation discard all conventionalities,
presuppositions, and hypotheses and look at the text, accepting it at
its face value. Furthermore, we must be very careful in our study of the
different monarchs mentioned in this section of the Word of God. By
patience and close attention to details we can arrive at the facts. The
task is hard, but the results accruing from solving the problem will
well repay all our labor.
1. RULES TO BE OBSERVED
Mr. Anstey lays down three very important rules that must be observed in
our investigation of this section of the Word. They are as follows:
(a) Never adopt any rule which is inconsistent with other data.
(b) Never frame any hypothesis, or entertain any conjecture, which
cannot be verified or supported by positive evidence. And
(c) Never identify different persons bearing the same name, and never
fail to identify the same person bearing different names.
These principles which are axiomatic are absolutely essential in our
investigation of these books.
2. SOURCES OF OUR INFORMATION
As stated before, we are compelled to rely entirely upon the books of
Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. The book of Daniel throws some
light upon the situation.
The books of Chronicles were originally one and are so reckoned in the
listing of the Divine Oracles by Josephus in his polemic "Against Apion."
Scholars, I think, are agreed that the diction, style, and general
features prove the original unity of these two books. They begin with
the creation of Adam and trace the history in the form of genealogical
tables to the time of David. At this point the record is enlarged,
giving the details of his reign. Chapters 11-29 are devoted to his life
and labors as King of Israel. The first nine chapters of the second book
of Chronicles are devoted to Solomon's administration. From chapter 10
to the close appears the record of the Chosen People from the disruption
of the kingdom at the death of Solomon to the Babylonian captivity. Thus
the history is carried forward in a majestic manner.
A casual reading of the Chronicles account and a comparison of it with
that given in Kings impress one with the fact that the writer of the
former record had, as his direct objective, the presentation of the
history from the divine standpoint. In other words, he has given us the
divine philosophy of history-the interpretation of God's providential
dealings with both individuals and nations.
Ezra is a continuation of Chronicles, as is seen by comparing the first
paragraph of the former with-the last of the latter. The same style,
diction, and interpretation of history continue through the books of
Ezra and Nehemiah, That these constituted a single work originally is
shown by the Masoretic note at the end of Nehemiah, which makes Nehemiah
3:31 the middle of these books. The number of verses listed and other
data presented by the Masoretes prove conclusively that these two books
were anciently considered as a single work. They were never divided into
two volumes until Origen arbitrarily separated them into two distinct
We must recognize the fact that Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah
constitute one sweeping survey of history, and that the book of Esther
is a separate work, in which is reflected a crisis in the history of
Israel. It does not, therefore, continue the account which comes
to a close with the ending of Nehemiah, but is a sidelight on the times
of Darius Hystaspes. This point will be proved later.
3. THREE SEVENTY-YEAR PERIODS
Three periods of 70 years are mentioned in the prophetic word. It,
therefore, behooves us to notice each passage and its context
microscopically in order to differentiate one from the other.
a. The Seventy Years of Jerusalem's Desolations
As stated before, Jeremiah 25 is one of the most important passages in
the Scriptures from a chronological standpoint. Its significance is
heightened by the fact that it blends the Babylonian captivity of the
children of Israel with world-affairs which, as we know from other
passages, will develop in the end time. Jeremiah began his prophetic
ministry in the thirteenth year of Josiah king of Judah, which was 3499
A.H. (626 B.C.E.). That was a crucial year for Judah. Speaking in
familiar terms, I would say that the die had all but been cast, the
Rubicon crossed when Jeremiah began his ministry. The oracle presented
in this chapter was uttered in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, 23 years
after the prophet had begun his public ministry. As we have seen,
Nebuchadnezzar had already come against Jerusalem, had removed some of
the vessels from the temple of Jehovah, and had taken certain of the
seed royal to Babylon in the previous year (Dan. 1:1f). In this fourth
year of Jehoiakim, Jeremiah was given the vision concerning the
servitude of the nations in western Asia to Babylon. The guarantee of
this political bondage was in evidence already by Nebuchadnezzar's
conquest the year previous.
There is but one period of 70 years of captivity referred to by
"11 And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and
these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 And it
shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will
punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith Jehovah, for their
iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it desolate
forever. 13 And I. will bring upon that land all my words which I have
pronounced against it, even all that is written in this book, which
Jeremiah hath prophesied against all the nations" Jer. 25:11-13).
Let us note the fact that the prophecy foretells the desolation of the
land of Israel and Judah's captivity in Babylon for 70 years. According
to this prediction God said that at the expiration of this 70-year
period He would punish the king of Babylon. This is the
terminal date of the epoch. This fact must be kept clearly in mind as we
continue our studies.
The same epoch is again referred to in a letter which Jeremiah wrote to
the exiles in Babylon after the deportation of Jeconiah and the nobility
who were taken into bondage with him in 3528 A.H. (597 B.C.E.). There
had arisen in Babylon false prophets who were telling the captives that
they would remain there only a short time, and that they then would be
brought back to their native soil. In this communication the Lord
reiterated the fact that, after 70 years were accomplished for Babylon,
He would visit Israel and perform His good word toward her in causing
her to return to the land of the fathers. This letter constitutes
chapter 29 of Jeremiah's book and clearly refers to the 70 years of
desolation mentioned in chapter 25. About this position there can be no
This same time is mentioned again in Daniel 9:1, 2:
"In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the
Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans, 2 in the first
year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the
years whereof the word of Jehovah came to Jeremiah the prophet for the
accomplishment of the desolations of Jerusalem, even seventy years."
If one studies Daniel: 1-7 in connection with Jeremiah 25:1-14, he
immediately sees that this prediction began in the third year of
Jehoiakim, when Nebuchadnezzar invaded the country. That it ended with
the accession to power of Cyrus king of the Medo- Persian empire is
clear from a reading of II Chronicles 36:20-23:
"20 And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon;
and they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the
kingdom of Persia: 21 to fulfill the word of Jehovah by the mouth of
Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths: for as long as it lay
desolate it kept sabbath, to fulfill threescore and ten years. 22 Now in
the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, that the word of Jehovah by the
mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, Jehovah stirred up the spirit
of Cyrus, king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all
his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, 23 Thus saith Cyrus,
king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath Jehovah, the God of
heaven, given me; and he hath charged me to build him a house in
Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whosoever there is among you of all his
people, Jehovah his God be with him, and let him go up."
From this quotation it is very clear that the decree which Cyrus issued
brought to a close the period of desolation of Jerusalem foretold by
In the first year of Darius the Mede (3587 A.H. or 538 B.C.E.), which
was the 68th of the 70 years of desolation, Daniel was reading the
prophecy of Jeremiah. He states that he understood from
the books the significance of Jeremiah's prediction. This prophet wrote
only one book, but Daniel understood from the books. What books would
throw light upon Jeremiah's statement? Since Chronicles and Kings give
us the account of the reigns of various rulers of Israel and Judah, it
is highly probable that Daniel was referring to them. It is also quite
likely that the book of Isaiah was included in this collection. Daniel
was a student of prophecy. Isaiah, whose ministry fell something like a
century and a half before that of Daniel, foretold that God would use
Cyrus to restore His people to the land of their fathers.*
At the time when Daniel read Jeremiah's prophecy, Cyrus was associated
with Darius in the government of the Medo-Persian empire. Since the
prophet was a high official at the Persian court, he doubtless knew the
trend of things and could see naturally that sooner or later Cyrus, if
he lived, would grasp the power of the empire. He could, therefore, in
the light of Isaiah's prediction and the trend of affairs, recognize
Cyrus as the one of whom Isaiah by inspiration had spoken as the
deliverer of Israel.
It did not take special inspiration by the Spirit for him to come to
this conclusion, because he had studied the books (Kings, Chronicles,
Jeremiah, and Isaiah) and knew that within 2 years the 70 years of
Jerusalem's desolations would expire. Being acquainted with the trend of
events and being associated with Cyrus personally, he would recognize in
him the fulfillment of Isaiah's
* The book of Isaiah has been dissected by the rationalistic critics
into a number of various documents, which, they assert, came from
different times. Especially has the latter half of it suffered at their
hands. The principal argument for such vivisection is based upon
differences of style, diction, concepts, and teaching. The evidence
cited in support of the theory is indeed insufficient. In fact, for
every particle of so-called evidence indisputable facts can be brought
forward, which render the claim null and void.
The principal reason motivating the dissection of the book is a desire
to break the force of predictive prophecy. The mention of Cyrus by name
in this passage, if uttered by Isaiah in the latter half of the eighth
century B.C.E., approximately two centuries before the birth of Cyrus,
proves the reality of verbal inspiration of the Scriptures. Rationalism
will not admit the possibility of a special revelation by the Spirit of
God. Hence the bold claim is made that Isaiah did not utter this
prediction. Then the theory is advanced that some unknown prophet of the
late exilic period, who saw the trend of events and the gains which were
being made by Cyrus, and who knew his kindly disposition and political
policies, made the shrewd prophecy that he would permit the Jewish
captives to return to their land. For this position there is not one
particle of evidence.
Many of the utterances of the prophets have been fulfilled to the letter
through the centuries. To the open-minded person there can be no
question concerning the pure Isaianic character of this prediction.
prediction. Anyone who will take God's Word at its face value, as Daniel
did, and not attempt to force an unnatural meaning upon it, and who will
pray for spiritual insight into the present situation, can recognize the
fulfillment of certain predictions even today.
Isaiah foretold that Cyrus was the one who would issue the decree for
the building of Jerusalem and the laying of the foundation of the
temple. Did Cyrus do this thing? The decree which he actually issued is
recorded in II Chronicles 36:22, 23; Ezra 1:1-4; 6:1-5. Though in these
different accounts of the decree nothing is said of the building of the
city, we may be certain that Cyrus did give permission, because
Zerubbabel and the leaders of the Jews armed with authority from him
went back to Jerusalem and actually built the city and finished the
walls. This fact is seen from a statement in a letter which the enemies
of the Jews wrote to Artaxerxes (Pseudo-Smerdis) in 522 B.C.E.
"Be it known unto the king, that the Jews that came up from thee are
come to us unto Jerusalem; they are building the rebellious and the bad
city and have finished the walls, and repaired the foundations" (Ez.
4:12). But later we shall investigate this phase of the question more
b. The Seventy Years of Indignation against Jerusalem
"Then the angel of Jehovah answered and said, O Jehovah of hosts, how
long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah,
against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years?"
Here reference is made to 70 years of indignation against Jerusalem and
the cities of Judah. In answer to the question asked, the Lord said, "I
am returned to Jerusalem with mercies; my house shall be built in it,
saith Jehovah of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth over
Jerusalem" (Zech. 1:16).
This query was raised and the answer given in the second year of Darius
Hystaspes, in 3605 A.H. (520 B.C.E.). When we count backward 70 years
from this date we reach the ninth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin
and the eighth of Zedekiah's reign. In Ezekiel 24:1-14 we find the
prediction of the seething caldron which symbolized God's wrath at
boiling temperature against His people. Evidently, therefore, this
70-year period began in 3536 A.H. (589 B.C.E.) The first year of this
epoch of indignation was the seventeenth of the 70 years of Jerusalem's
c. The Seventy Years of Fasting
A third period of 70 years, mentioned in the Scriptures, is
characterized by the fasts of the fifth and seventh months. The people
of Bethel sent a delegation to Jerusalem in the fourth year of Darius
(518 B.C.E.) to inquire whether or not they should continue to fast as
they had done for so many years. Evidently the reason for their making
this inquiry was the fact that the foundation of the temple had already
been laid 2 years prior to this time. See such passages as Haggai 2:10,
15, 18, 20. The fast of the fifth month was to commemorate the fall and
destruction of Jerusalem in 3539 A.H. or 586 B.C. This question was
asked in the fourth year of Darius Hystaspes, which, as we shall see,
was the 69th year from the destruction of the city. An immediate answer
was given by Zechariah saying,
"Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When
ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and in the seventh month, even these
seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me?" (Zech. 7:5).
As stated above, this event occurred in the 69th year of this period,
during which the people of Israel had fasted because of the destruction
of the city, but the prophet said that they had been fasting 70 years.
To the casual observer there seems to be a discrepancy of one year, but
the facts will show that there is no contradiction. We shall shortly see
that the Persian method of reckoning time was not that of the Assyrians
and the Hebrews. Instead of numbering the years of the reign of a king
from the first New Year's day after his coronation, the Persians dated a
man's reign from his actual accession to the throne. We shall see that
the ninth month was the time when Darius received the crown. This
delegation made these inquiries in the ninth month and on the 24th day.
They were, therefore, at the very end of the 69th year of this period.
Thus a day or two would put them into the next year. A careful reading
of Zechariah 7 and 8 will disclose the facts that the prophet
remonstrated with the people for doing their own pleasure in their
fasting, instead of really seeking God. Furthermore, he exhorted them to
obey the Word of the Lord. After this, but we cannot say how long, the
Word of the Lord came to the prophet (8:1) telling of the great future
that awaits Jerusalem. In verse 18 of this chapter the final answer is
given, and the prediction is made that all of the fasts of the nation
will eventually be turned into a period of rejoicing. This 70-year epoch
ended the fifth year of Darius, or 517 B.C.E.
The 70-year period of desolations of Jerusalem enables us to check the
Biblical chronology with that of Babylon and her kings who succeeded
Nebuchadnezzar, showing that our count is abso-
lutely correct. The era of the 70 years of indignation, starting in the
seventeenth year of the period of desolations, runs parallel with it for
54 years and extends beyond it for 16 years. This period enables us to
check the time between the first year of Cyrus and the third of Darius
Hystaspes. The third period, relative to the fall of Jerusalem, simply
confirms and corroborates the reckoning based upon the second era of 70
years. Thus by these checks and double checks we may be certain that the
chronology as it is worked out is absolutely correct to the very year.
4. THE PERSIAN KINGS FROM CYRUS TO DARIUS HYSTASPES
As has already been stated, Daniel occupied an official position in the
third year of the reign of Belshazzar, 539 B.C.E. (Dan. 8:1). In 538
B.C.E., when the authority of the empire passed from the Babylonians to
the Medes and the Persians, Darius may have had the priority over Cyrus.
This monarch appointed a satrap over each of the 120 provinces of the
kingdom. He also appointed presidents, or chief men, over these leading
officials, and in this small higher committee Daniel was given the
preeminence. (See Daniel 6.) This was in 538 B.C.E. Daniel held this
high position until the third year of Cyrus' sole kingship (Dan. 10:1),
at which time the Lord granted him the final vision constituting
chapters 10-12 of his book.
From Ezra 1:1-4 it seems quite apparent that someone had pointed out to
Cyrus the prediction referring to him which Isaiah had made two
centuries prior to his day. (See Isaiah 44:24-45:13.) In his decree
Cyrus said that God had commanded him to build Him a house in Jerusalem.
Since Cyrus was a heathen king, since God usually uses men and means to
communicate His truth to the unsaved, and since Daniel was occupying a
position of influence and power at the court of Cyrus, it seems most
likely that he was the one who pointed out to the king the role he was
to play in the unfolding of God's plan relative to Israel. According to
Isaiah 44:28, Cyrus would perform all God's pleasure, saying that
Jerusalem should be built, and that the temple foundation should be
laid. In 45:13 we also find the thought repeated that Cyrus should build
"my (God's) city," i.e., Jerusalem, "and let my exiles (Israelites) go
free" without price or reward. We are, therefore, justified in believing
that the decree of Cyrus included the authority
to build the city of Jerusalem as well as to reestablish the temple and
This position is confirmed by a statement from Josephus, which reads as
"This (the knowledge concerning God's purposes concerning Cyrus) was
known to Cyrus by his reading the book which Isaiah left behind him of
the prophecies; for this prophet said that God had spoken thus to him in
a secret vision: 'My will is, that Cyrus, whom I have appointed to be
king over many and great nations, send back my people to their own land,
and build my temple.' This was foretold by Isaiah one hundred and forty
years before the temple was demolished. Accordingly, when Cyrus read
this, and admired the Divine power, an earnest desire and ambition
seized upon him to fulfill what was so written; so he called for the
most eminent Jews that were in Babylon, and said to them, that he gave
them leave to go back to their own country, and to rebuild their city
Jerusalem, and the temple of God, for that he would be their assistant,
and that he would write to the rulers and governors that were in the
neighborhood of their country of Judea, that they should contribute to
them gold and silver for the building of the temple, and besides that,
beasts for their sacrifice" (Ant. Book XI, chap. 1, 2).
In the first year of his reign as sole rex, Cyrus, according to the
prediction uttered by Isaiah, issued the decree for the return of those
captives who desired to go back to the homeland. Only a small number,
comparatively speaking, 42,360, accepted the offer and under the
leadership of Zerubbabel, prince of the house of David, and Joshua, the
high priest, went back. Judging from the time it took Ezra and his
company to return from Babylon to Palestine, we should conclude that
these pilgrims made the jo11rney in 4 or 5 months. We see them, however,
in the land on the first day of the seventh month of Cyrus' first year (Ez.
We have three versions of this decree: II Chronicles 36: 22, 23; Ezra
1:1-4;61-5. There is an echo of it in the letter of Tattenai, the
governor beyond the River, to King Darius in Ezra 5:6, 17. That part
which reflects this proclamation is found in verses 13-15. The various
accounts of this decree differ in detail, one mentioning certain facts
omitted by the others, and another speaking of some things not found in
the versions of the rest. This fact shows us that we do not have the
full account of the original; therefore, wisdom would dictate that one
should be very slow in saying that this proclamation did not authorize
the rebuilding of Jerusalem. The necessity of this warning is seen from
the fact that God foretold the issuing of the decree by Cyrus, not only
to construct the temple, but also to rebuild the city. We who believe
that God said what He meant and meant what He said, and that He fulfils
His Word literally, accept the proposition that Cyrus actually issued
the proclamation which authorized the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem. From
this position there is no possibility of escape.
The second chapter of Ezra gives the account and the numbering of the
families of the Israelites who returned under the leadership of
Zerubbabel. This same list appears, in a corrected form, in Nehemiah
7:5-73. The total number of pilgrims given in both chapters is the same,
but it was necessary for Nehemiah to revise and bring the list up to
date in order to serve his purpose. They erected an altar upon which
they offered burnt offerings and sacrifices according to the law of
Moses and, at the proper time, observed the feast of tabernacles (Ez.
3:1-7). In the second month of the second year of their return, which
was the second of Cyrus' sole rexship, the faithful exiles began to make
preparation for the reconstruction of the temple. This information is
given in 3:7-9.
In verse 10 we read,
"And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of Jehovah,
they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the
sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise Jehovah, after the order of David,
king of Israel."
This was an occasion of joy mingled with sadness, because there was no
comparison between the former house and the one being constructed. If we
had this account alone, we would conclude that the foundation of the
temple was laid in the second year of Cyrus, but from Haggai 2:18 we
learn that it was not laid until the 24th day of the ninth month of the
second year of Darius Hystaspes, which, as we shall see, was exactly 15
years later. Between Ezra 3:9 and 10, therefore, there is a gap of 15
years. As we see from this chapter, preparation was made for the
beginning of the work, but it was hindered by the enemies of Israel.
This opposition is given in detail in chapter 4, which proves to be a
parenthesis in the narrative. Chapter 5, therefore, resumes the account
where chapter 3 leaves off. As we shall presently see, the prophets,
Haggai and Zechariah, were the human agents used of God to stimulate the
discouraged exiles to a renewal of their efforts in building the temple
and the city wall. Chapter 4:1-3 tells from whom this opposition came;
namely, those immigrants placed in the land by Esar-haddon king of
Assyria, who mounted the thrones of both Assyria and Babylon in the year
3445 A.H. or 680 B.C.E., and reigned for 12 years. They approached
Zerubbabel and Joshua, asking that they might have some participation in
of the temple. They did this upon the grounds that they had worshiped
the God of Israel since their coming into the land. But these astute
Jewish leaders saw the hypocrisy of the claim and avoided any alliance
with them. Then these enemies of Israel came out into the open and
opposed them very strenuously by misrepresenting them at the Persian
From verse 5 we learn that this opposition began in the days of Cyrus
and continued to the reign of Darius king of Persia. This is a blanket
statement which gives the entire duration of this particular opposition.
The following verse begins to explain in detail this protracted trouble.
By some means, not stated, these enemies thwarted and frustrated the
work all during the days of Cyrus, although he had issued the decree
authorizing it. We are told that this hostility continued in the reign
of the Ahasuerus of verse 6. What monarch is here called Ahasuerus? From
profane history we learn that Cambyses, son of Cyrus, succeeded his
father. Evidently then this ruler is indicated. In verses 7-22 we find a
letter that was written against the Jews to Artaxerxes. Obviously this
monarch was not Ahasuerus of verse 6, because in the beginning of verse
7 we read, "And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam" et at. In this
letter we see the word kings in the plural (vs. 13) ; us is also used in
the reply (vs. 18). The epistle concludes with kings. This use of the
plural number is quite significant, appearing at this part of the
historical account. Following Cambyses upon the throne were Pseudo-Smerdis
and his brother, who seized the reins of government during the king's
absence in his conquest of Egypt and his war against Ethiopia. These
usurpers held the power for 7 months. In view of these facts then we can
be absolutely certain that those referred to by the use of the plural
number were none other than these two usurpers who followed Cambyses.
According to verse 23, when the letter from Pseudo-Smerdis was read
before the opponents of Israel, they caused the work on the house of God
at Jerusalem to cease until the second year 0.£ the reign of Darius king
of Persia (vs. 24). This statement is in absolute accord with that found
in Haggai to which attention has already been called, and which states
that the foundation of the Lord's house was laid in the ninth month of
the second year of Darius. From these facts we see that chapter 4 is a
divine explanation of the opposition which caused the work of rebuilding
the temple to cease from the second year of Cyrus to the second year of
b. Ahasuerus = Cambyses
From this survey which we have made of chapter 4, we see that Ahasuerus
of 4:6 was the Cambyses of profane history.
c. Artaxerxes = Pseudo-Smerdis
We have also seen from an examination of chapter 4 that the Artaxerxes
of verses 7 and 23 is none other than Pseudo-Smerdis with his brother as
associate on the throne, which they usurped during Cambyses' absence.
d. Darius, Artaxerxes, and Ahasuerus = Darius Hystaspes
When we come to the reign of Darius Hystaspes, we encounter the greatest
difficulty in the chronological problem of the Persian period, which
arises from the false identification of certain characters. It becomes
necessary, therefore, to investigate all the relevant data which we find
in the records. In doing this, we must study most minutely and carefully
Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. The vital issues proving the identity of
Darius under different names come up at various times in this
discussion. Several points, however, must be made clear before we can
proceed. One important matter is the method of reckoning the reigns of
the Persian sovereigns.
Up to this time the years mentioned in the Scriptures have been reckoned
according to the regular Jewish method, beginning with the first of
Nison. The data which we find embedded in the Hebrew text of these three
post-exilic books show that these years are reckoned on a different
basis. As proof of this position one needs to look no further than
Nehemiah 1. In this chapter we learn that certain Jews went from
Jerusalem to Babylon, with whom Nehemiah engaged in conversation. This
was in the twentieth year (1:1). To his questions regarding the
condition of the Jews in Palestine and the state of affairs at
Jerusalem, they stated that the city wall was broken down, that the
gates thereof were burned with fire (vs. 3), and that the remnant was in
great affliction. This report was given to Nehemiah in Chislev, which
was the ninth month, in the twentieth year of the reign of Artaxerxes.
Naturally it was very depressing to Nehemiah, who had a heavy burden for
his brethren in Palestine. At this time he held the high position at the
Persian court known as cupbearer. In his official capacity he had to
appear before the king constantly. According to 2:1 Nehemiah came before
his master in the month Nison of the same twentieth
year of Artaxerxes. The monarch noted an expression of distress and
gloom upon his countenance and asked concerning the reason. After the
customary formalities on such occasions, Nehemiah divulged the secret of
his sadness. The king generously asked this man of God what he desired.
After prayer he replied that he wished to go to Judah, the city of the
sepulchres of his fathers, that he might build it. In 2:6 appears a very
significant statement, "And the king said unto me (the queen also
sitting by him), For how long shall thy journey be?" Permission being
granted, Nehemiah, armed with imperial authority, left on scheduled time
The news concerning the distressed condition of the returned captives
was brought to Nehemiah when he was in Shushan the palace in the ninth
month of the twentieth year of Artaxerxes. The burden was so very heavy
upon him that he could no longer conceal his sorrow of heart; hence in
the first month, Nison, of that same twentieth year, he told the whole
matter to the king. It is clear, therefore, that the first month was
later than the ninth of that same twentieth year of Artaxerxes. How is
this to be explained? There is but one satisfactory answer; namely, the
Persian years were not reckoned as the Jewish and the Assyrian, but were
dated from the year of the accession of the reigning monarch.
In speaking of the method of reckoning adopted by the Persians, Martin
Anstey has the following to say:
"The method of reckoning adopted is not the Assyrian method, for with
them also New Year's Day is always the 1st day of Nison.
"The method of reckoning adopted is not that of the vague Egyptian or
Chaldean year of Ptolemy's Canon, the 365-day year, whose New Year's Day
or 1st Thoth, or as we should say 1st January, fell back one day every
four years, and traveled the entire circle of the four seasons in the
course of the Sothic cycle of 1,460 years, for in the 20th of Artaxerxes,
B.C. 502, the 1st Thoth or New Year's Day of the Egyptian or Chaldean
year was on December 27th, and December was the 10th month, so that in
passing from the 9th month Chisleu to the 1st month Nison, a New Year
would have been entered.
"The same would hold good if this Artaxerxes were identified with
Longimanus, for in his twentieth year, B.C. 445, the 1st Thoth of the
Egyptian or Chaldean year was December 12th.
"The New Year did not begin with the summer solstice, about the 21st day
of the 4th month, for the 1st day of the 1st month, and the 1st day of
the 5th month of Artaxerxes, were both in the same 7th year of
Artaxerxes (Ezra 7:7-9).
"The New Year did not begin with the autumnal Equinox, about the 21st
day of the 7th month, for the 6th, 7th, and 9th months are all in the
same 2nd year of Darius (Hag, 1:1, 2:1-10).
"The New Year did not begin at the winter solstice, about the 21st day
of the 10th month, for some part of the 9th month, and the following 1st
month were both in one and the same 20th year of Artaxerxes (Neh.1:1; 2:
"And it has already been shown that the New Year did not begin at the
spring Equinox or about the 1st Nison.
"The solution probably lies in the fact that the Persians, being like
ourselves, members of the Aryan or Japhetic, and hot members of the
Semitic race, reckoned as we do, and in that case the years of the
King's reign would be reckoned not by calendar years, as with the Jews
and the Assyrians, but from the day on which the King ascended the
throne. Or, it may be that New Year's Day was immediately connected with
the day on which the foundation of the Temple was laid, viz., the 24th
day of the 9th month of the 2nd year of Darius (Haggai 2:18).
"The data supplied by the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai and
Zechariah, require, and are satisfied with, a New Year's Day commencing
sometime after the 24th day of the 9th month (about Nov. 24th), because
the 24th day of the 9th month was in the same year as the 1st day of the
sixth month (Hag. 1:1 ; 2:10), and sometime before the last day of the
9th month (Nov. 20th), because some part of the 9th month was in the
same 20th year of Artaxerxes as the succeeding 1st month.
"The years of the reign of Darius Hystaspes, or Artaxerxes, or Ahasuerus,
then, began somewhere between the 24th and the 30th days of the 9th
month of the year.
"If this be so, then the 24th day of the 11th month of the 2nd year of
Darius precedes the 8th month of the 2nd year of Darius, and the
prophecy of Zech. 1:7, which reads as if it were the opening verse of
the book, precedes Zech. 1:1.
"It is difficult to understand why the fact that Zechariah was the son
of Berechiah, the son of Iddo, should be repeated in Zech. 1:7, if this
verse were not originally the first verse of his Book of prophecy, the
present arrangement being that of some critic who thought that the 8th
month must necessarily precede the 11th month of the 2nd year of
Darius."-Romance of Bible Chronology, Vol. I, pp. 248, 249.
From this concise statement of Mr. Anstey we conclude that the Persian
year began sometime between the 25th of the ninth month and the first of
the tenth month. Having this understanding we are in a position to
proceed with our study.
One other preliminary consideration must be examined before we can
understand the events by years of the reign of Darius Hystaspes. This is
the matter of the preaching ministries of Haggai and Zechariah in this
second year of Darius, when the work on the temple was resumed. We must
bear in mind that Ezra, chapter 4, is parenthetical; hence, chapter 5
connects immediately with 3:10-13. With this understanding we can see
why this work was resumed after a lapse of 15 years of indifference and
neglect. Ezra 5 connects, therefore, immediately with chapter 3, since 4
The leaders of the returned exiles are enumerated in Ezra 2:2. They were
Zerubbabe1, Joshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan,
Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah. Whenever we see the names, Zerubbabel
or Joshua, anywhere in the book of Ezra,
we understand that reference is made to the men by these names
enumerated in this list. That is natural and logical. Seraiah is also
called Azariah in Nehemiah 7: 7. It is quite likely that this one was
Ezra, whose father was called by that name. The books of Ezra and
Nehemiah originally constituted one work, and, since Nehemiah stands
third in this list, it is logical to believe that he is the one who is
the leading figure of the present book of Nehemiah. Furthermore, it is
logical to believe that Mordecai appearing in this list of names is the
same Mordecai of the book of Esther. With all the facts favoring the
identification of those outstanding leaders as the ones known in these
books by such names, we shall take this as a working hypothesis, as one
does in geometry, and see if all the facts justify the assumption.
Before proceeding further, I wish to state that the great chronological
difficulty of this section of the Scriptures lies in the incorrect
identification of the Artaxerxes of the book of Nehemiah with Artaxerxes
Longimanus, who, according to the generally accepted chronology, reigned
a century later (464-424). This error has led to another; namely, the
creation of two Nehemiahs: the one of Ezra 2:7, and another, the
cupbearer and the governor mentioned in Nehemiah 1: 11 and 8:9. Another
mistake which has contributed to the general confusion of this period is
the incorrect identification of Ahasuerus of the book of Esther with the
Xerxes of profane history who reigned 485-465 B.C.E., whereas this
Ahasuerus is Darius Hystaspes (521-485 B.C.E.). This same blunder has
also led to the creation of two Mordecais: the one of Ezra 2:2 and
another of the book of Esther. In order to carry this theory out, a
false construction has been placed upon Esther 2:5, 6. The original text
and also our English translation clearly state that Mordecai of the book
of Esther was taken with Jeconiah king of Judah to Babylon by
Nebuchadnezzar. This Mordecai is one of the leading characters of the
book. But since a different theory has been accepted, this passage has
been distorted to make it say that it was Kish, the great-grandfather of
Mordecai, who went into captivity, whereas the record plainly states
that it was Mordecai of the book of Esther. Further investigation will
show the fallacy of the current view.
In the fifth chapter we read of the ministries of Haggai and Zechariah
the prophets, who stirred up the returned exiles to resume the work on
the construction of the house of God. Haggai was older than Zechariah.
These prophets have dated, especially
Haggai, the time of their receiving the revelations which they uttered.
Since the years of the Persian period are given in terms of the
accession year of the reigning mot:1archs, and since Darius mounted the
throne between the 24th day of the ninth month and the first of the
next, we must be very careful in studying these Oracles, because a
knowledge of the sequence of events contributes largely to the proper
understanding of the prophecies.
(1.) EVENTS OF 520 B.C.E., THE SECOND YEAR OF DARIUS HYSTASPES
We have already seen that the returned exiles at the time of their
arrival at Jerusalem in 536 B.C.E., the first year of Cyrus, immediately
inaugurated the worship of God by erecting the altar of sacrifice.
Having seen the ruins of the temple of Jupiter at Baalbek, Syria, I can,
in my fancy, picture the situation of the temple area when the captives
cleared away sufficient debris of the ruined house of God in order to
erect the altar. Thus were re-inaugurated the divine services. They
continued to be observed daily. The worshipers being on fire with a holy
zeal made contributions of money and food in order that the work might
continue, but, as we have already seen, it was hindered by opposition
from the Samaritans.
During the 15 years intervening from the second year of Cyrus to the
second of Darius, the zeal for the house of the Lord on the part of the
exiles had cooled considerably. Instead of putting God and divine
services foremost, they had during this period built ceiled houses and
had settled down in a mood of complacency, believing that they could do
nothing to change the situation.
Where there is no vision the people perish. This statement is true with
reference to a divine revelation and also with respect to the natural
insight of men of vision. Every successful business or movement was
first conceived by someone who bent all of his energies for the
materialization of his vision. The same psychological principle obtains
in the spiritual realm. God understands man's psychology far better than
he himself does; hence the Lord in the 24th day of the eleventh month of
the second year of Darius granted to Zechariah a series of visions in
which he presented the future of Jerusalem and the Hebrew people. When
one takes into consideration all the facts, he is led to the conclusion
that Zechariah received these visions in one night. They are contained
in 1:7-6: 8 and are followed by the symbolic acts of making crowns and
placing them upon the head of Joshua, the high priest (chapter 6:9-15).
Hope spurs men to trials of endurance and to heroic action. Not
only the immediate future for Israel was presented in these visions, but
also the coming golden age, when Israel will be placed at the head of
the nations, was vividly painted. God's great love for the Chosen People
is shown throughout the entire series of visions.
It is difficult to stir those who have fallen into a state of spiritual
lethargy. Unbelief is very subtle. It veils the eyes and shuts out all
light. Doubtless these wonderful visions of rhapsody and glory appeared
to many of the prophet's audience as idle dreams; hence the message fell
largely upon deaf ears.
The Lord always uses men and means, but He invariably selects faithful
men as His spokesmen. When the oral word is unheeded, He resorts to
other measures. The messages delivered by Zechariah in the eleventh
month were, of course, delivered in January of our calendar year. The
exiles paid little attention to them. The spring came on, the crops were
planted and cultivated, and finally the time for harvest arrived, but
the outlook for that year was very gloomy, because the Lord had
withdrawn His favor from the land. There was an all-but-complete crop
failure. The situation was doubtless very discouraging.
On the first day of the sixth month of the second year of Darius, which
corresponds roughly to our August 1st, the Spirit of God came upon
Haggai, who faithfully delivered the message to Israel. This old
prophet, having the experience of years as a background and the
infallible illumination of the Spirit of God, explained the situation to
the returned captives. He declared that the reason of their crop-failure
was their indifference toward God and His worship. A person or nation
cannot fling defiance into the face of God and go unpunished. One cannot
neglect the Lord and divine service and still receive the blessings of
the Almighty. God is unchangeable and deals with people upon the same
principles today as always. May I venture to say that the present
situation in America is due in the final analysis to the fact that the
people have neglected God and have hurled defiance in His face by
disregarding His Word and doing the things which they choose? God always
punished Israel and the nations of antiquity, and He will do the same
It is impossible for one to be dogmatic and to say what was the
immediate response to the prophet's message. On the 24th day of this
same month-3 weeks and 3 days later-a genuine revival broke out in
Israel. From verse 12, however, it appears that they began to obey the
Lord at once. Judging this case from others, it would seem probable that
the people began to pray and in response
to this attitude the Lord stirred their hearts. Then they started the
work on the house of God. It is quite likely that what was done was the
removal of the debris from the temple area.
About a month later, i.e., on the 21st day of the seventh month, a new
revelation came to the prophet, in which he foretold the events which we
know from other Scriptures will occur at the final consummation of the
age when God shakes, not only the heavens above, but the earth beneath
and establishes His reign of righteousness upon the earth. This is seen
in 2:6-8. Whenever men turn their hearts toward the Lord and endeavor to
do His will, He always gives fresh illumination and renewed courage;
hence this vision was evidently for that purpose.
The next message came through Zechariah and constitutes 1:1-6, which is
dated in the eighth month of the second year of Darius. According to
some conservative scholars of highest academic attainments, this message
has been misplaced. If this is true, which seems to be the correct view,
the changing of the position is due to a misunderstanding concerning the
years of Darius. As we have already seen, the regnal year of Darius
began somewhere between the 24th day of the ninth month and the first of
the tenth month. Thus the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth months of the
regular solar year were at the beginning of the regnal year of this
Persian monarch. The first month of the regular Jewish year followed the
twelfth, unless there was an intercallated month to correct the calendar
as was often done. Since this first paragraph of Zechariah was delivered
in the eighth month of the second year of Darius, we may be certain that
it was spoken at the time corresponding to our October. In this oracle
Zechariah called the people to genuine repentance and to a heeding of
the words which God had spoken through the former prophets. "To obey is
better than sacrifice" is a principle which always obtains. The one
concern with us should be: "What has the Lord spoken? Regardless of all
circumstances we will do that and that alone."
The final message of this year seems to have been delivered on the 24th
of the ninth month. On this day, according to Haggai 2:18, the
foundation of the temple was laid. The time corresponds roughly to the
latter part of November of our calendar. We learn from Ezra 3:10-13 that
there was great joy on the part of some because of the fact that the
work had been resumed on the house of God. At the same time there were
those who wept because the structure which they were attempting to build
was insignificant in
comparison with that which had been erected by Solomon. The words which
Zechariah had spoken in chapter 4 of his prophecy were intended to
encourage Zerubbabel whose hands had already laid the foundation stone.
Doubtless this message was given after the opposition from the
Samaritans had begun. This is seen by a glance at the first nine verses
of Ezra 5. As soon as Zerubbabel had got the work well under way,
Tattenai, the governor beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai, and their
companions again acted in opposition. A mountain of difficulty was
erected before Zerubbabel. The situation was so very critical that the
average person would have faltered and given up; hence, the message was
delivered to encourage him.
The question which they asked, according to 5:3, was, "Who gave you a
decree to build this house, and to finish this wall?" Evidently the
walls of the city had already been finished when this opposition arose.
This is abundantly clear from the facts stated in the letter, written by
Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and their companions, which they sent to
Pseudo-Smerdis, called Artaxerxes (Ezra 4:7), in the year 522 B.C.E.
From verse 12 of this chapter we see that the accusers wrote to the
Persian monarch that the Jews were building the rebellious and bad city
and had "finished the walls, and repaired the foundation." The walls
here can refer to nothing but the city walls; hence they were built and
completed by 522 B.C.E., two years before the laying of the foundation
for the temple. It is necessary to understand this fact if one is to
comprehend the subsequent events.
In 520 B.C.E., Tattenai, Shethar-bozenai, and their companions, after
having inquired of the Jews concerning the purpose of their building
program and their reasons for the same, wrote to Darius Hystaspes,
reporting what they had learned.
Darius made a decree, and a search was made in the archives at Babylon
to find the original proclamation of Cyrus authorizing the Jews to
rebuild Jerusalem and their holy temple. When it could not be located,
the hunt was continued at Achmetha, which was in the province 6f Media.
There a record was found in which appeared an account of the decree
which Cyrus had issued for the rebuilding of the temple. Having learned
the fact that Cyrus had actually issued the decree, Darius reaffirmed
it, enlarged the grant made to the Jews, and issued a 111ost solemn
warning that no further interference should be made against the
completion of this house of God.
When Tattenai, the governor, and his associates received this official
communication, they ceased their opposition, and the work of the
construction of the temple continued to completion.
(2.) EVENTS OF 519 B.C.E., THE THIRD YEAR OF DARIUS HYSTASPES
The third year of Darius is not mentioned in the books of Ezra,
Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah, but it appears in the book of Esther.
At this point of our investigation it becomes necessary to examine the
data presented in the Scriptures bearing upon the identification of King
Ahasuerus of the book of Esther. It is as one noted author says, "Almost
every Medo-Persian king from Cyaxares I (B.C. 611-571) to Artaxerxes III
Ochus (B.C. 358-338), has in turn been advanced as the Ahasuerus of
Esther." From this fact it would appear that the data are very
Concerning King Ahasuerus of Esther, we read this statement:
"Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus (this is Ahasuerus who
reigned from India even unto Ethiopia, over a hundred and seven and
twenty provinces), that in those days, when the king Ahasuerus sat on
the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the palace, in the third
year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his
servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the
provinces, being before him" (Esth. 1:1-3).
Let us remember that the word Ahasuerus seems to have been a common name
with the Persian monarchs. From Ezra 4: 6 we saw that Cambyses was
called by this name. In view of the general usage of the term, the
writer of Esther identified the king mentioned in his book by informing
us that, "(this is Ahasuerus who reigned from India even unto Ethiopia,
over a hundred and seven and twenty provinces)." From this statement we
may conclude that there was but one Ahasuerus who reigned over the
territory here designated. This parenthetical expression is equivalent
to a restrictive clause placed here for the identification of the
monarch around whom this narrative is to center. According to the Greek
historian Herodotus (Books III and IV), Darius Hystaspes invaded and
conquered India in 506 B.C.E. Moreover he inherited the territory of
Cambyses who conquered Egypt and Ethiopia. The former yielded to
Cambyses in the fifth year of his reign, i. e., in 525 B.C.E., whereas
the, Ethiopians later submitted. (See Book III of Herodotus.)
Another quotation bearing upon this subject is Esther 10:1: "And the
king Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land, and upon
the isles of the sea." Herodotus tells us (Book VI) that Darius with his
fleet took Samos, Chios, and Lesbos and the rest of the islands in the
year 496 B.C.E. He gives a list of the nations which paid tribute to
Darius (Book III, chap. 89-97). Among these are included Egypt and
India, the island of Cyprus, and the islands of the Erythraean Sea. In
summing up the situation the historian said, "Later on in his reign the
sum was increased by the tribute of the islands and of the nations of
Europe as far as Thessaly" (Herodotus, Book III, chap. 96). Anstey
informs us that among the peoples who did not pay a regular settled
tribute, but brought gifts to Darius, were "the Ethiopians bordering
upon Egypt, who were reduced by Cambyses."
According to Pliny, Darius Hystaspes built, or rather enlarged and
beautified, Shushan as his official residence. There he kept his
treasures (Herodotus Book V, chap. 49). From all this extracanonical
evidence it is clear that Darius Hystaspes did reign from India to
Ethiopia and over the isles of the sea just as the book of Esther
Anstey gives us the following historical information:
"Thucydides (Book 1) and Plato (Menexenus) tell us that Darius Hystaspes
subdued all the islands in the Aegean Sea, and Diodorus Siculus (Book
12) tells us that they were all lost again by his son Xerxes before the
12th year of his reign, but it was after the 12th year of the reign of
Ahasuerus that he imposed his tribute upon the Isles, and the successors
of Xerxes held none of them except Clazomene and Cyprus (Xenophon,
Hellenics, Book 5). "From all which it is clear that the Ahasuerus of
Esther cannot be Xerxes, in fact that he can be none other than Darius
Hystaspes, for his predecessors, Cyrus and Cambyses, never took tribute
but only received presents. Polyenus (Stratagem, Book 7) says Darius was
the first that ever imposed a tribute upon the people. For this reason
Herodotus tells us (Book 3, Chap. 89) the Persians called Cyrus a
father, and Cambyses a master, but Darius a huckster, 'for Darius looked
to making a gain in everything.'"
With this understanding then we note the outstanding event of the third
year of this mighty monarch. It was in this year that he made a great
feast for the nobility of the realm. From now on we read of "Persia and
Media" instead of "Medes and Persians." It was at this time that Queen
Vashti was deposed, because she refused to expose herself in an indecent
manner before the drunken and inflamed guests at Darius' debauching
(3.) EVENTS OF 518 B.C.E., THE FOURTH YEAR OF DARIUS
In the fourth year of King Darius a delegation was sent by the people of
Bethel to Jerusalem to inquire as to whether or not they
should continue to fast in the fifth and seventh months as they had done
for so many years. The prophet replied by asking this pertinent
question, "When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and in the seventh
month, even these seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to
me?" (Zech. 7:5). The fast of the fifth month was to commemorate the
fall of the city and the burning of the temple which occurred, as we
have already seen, in 586 B.C.E. The fast of the seventh month was in
memory of the slaying of Gedaliah the governor. The young prophet called
attention to the fact that men should obey the words of God which He had
spoken to the former generation. Then he held up as an example those to
whom the word 0.£ God had come on former occasions, and who had hardened
their hearts like an adamant against the message. Hence upon them came
judgment for rebellion and disobedience. Later, however, the word of the
Lord came to the prophet, and he foretold the glorious future in the
kingdom age when old men and women will be in Jerusalem leaning on their
staffs for very age, while the children will play in the streets.
Finally, the answer was given relative to the fasts, the substance of
which was that those which had been fast days will eventually be turned
into occasions of great joy (Zech. 8:18-23).
(4.) EVENTS OF 517 B.C.E., THE FIFTH YEAR OF DARIUS
Nothing of importance is recorded in the Biblical account concerning the
events of the fifth year of Darius. The one outstanding incident which
demands our attention is Darius' Behistun inscription in the Zagros
Mountains that is usually supposed to have been executed in the fifth,
or possibly the sixth, year of his reign. This historical record, carved
in the rock, tells of his having reconquered the provinces which had
revolted; namely, Elam, Souciana, Sargotia, Media, Babylonia, Parthia,
and Armenia. He moreover speaks of his having overthrown nine pretenders
to the throne, among whom was Pseudo-Smerdis, his immediate predecessor.
Having disposed of his opponents, having conquered the revolting
territories, and having restored peace to his realm, Darius felt quite
secure and, it is needless to say, considered himself as a great prince.
Hence he became known as "Arta-xerxes," which means "great shah" (Ez.
6:14; 7:1). He was also recognized as "the king of Assyria." Evidently
this title was given to him because of the fact that the territory which
formerly constituted the Assyrian empire had been incorporated into the
Medo-Persian realm. His
assumption of this title, again, is seen in his calling himself "king of
kings" in his letter recorded in Ezra 7:11-26. He also bore the name
"king of Babylon" (Neh. 13:6). This acquisition of new titles becomes
quite obvious as we pass from the fourth chapter of Ezra to the seventh
and succeeding ones.
Further proof of the position which I am now advocating is to be found
in Ezra 6:14b: "And they builded and finished it, according to the
commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the decree of Cyrus,
and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia." If we take this statement as
it is rendered in the English, we would suppose that the reconstruction
of the temple was accomplished, according to the commandment of God, and
according to the decrees issued by three different rulers; namely,
Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes. When we turn back to the first chapter of
Ezra and study carefully every verse up to this one, we see that there
were only two men who issued decrees relative to the temple. Cyrus made
the first proclamation [V.1:2-4], granting permission to all Israelites
who wished to return to the land of the fathers to do so, and
authorizing the reconstruction of the temple. As we have seen from
chapter 4, opposition arose on the part of the inhabitants of the land
who made representation at the foreign office in Shushan and thus
stopped the work until the second year of the reign of Darius. At this
time they pursued the same course. Upon investigation Darius found that
Cyrus had issued the original proclamation concerning this permission.
[V. 6:6-12] He in turn issued a second decree confirming the one
published by Cyrus and enlarging upon the grants conferred upon the
Hebrew people. There were, therefore, only two decrees made by Persian
kings concerning the reconstruction of the temple. If we accept the
English translation of Ezra 6:14, we would think that a king by the name
of Artaxerxes, who succeeded Darius, either immediately or later, also
issued a decree for building it; but we know that the sacred structure
was completed in the sixth year of the reign of Darius. The word
Artaxerxes following Darius in this quotation, therefore, cannot refer
to another king. Evidently something is wrong with the usual translation
of this verse. When we look at the Hebrew, we see that the conjunction
translated and also means even. In many instances its only significance
is that of but. The translator has to select that definition which
accords with all the facts of the context. Since we know that this
little Hebrew conjunction means and, but, and even, we must select that
connotation which accords with all the known, facts. Since it means
even in many connections, since the word Artaxerxes signifies great shah
or prince, and since we see from the history of the times that he was
assuming to himself great and impressive titles, as many monarchs have
done and continue to do, the only conclusion to which we can come is
that the proper rendering of this conjunction in this context is even.
With this understanding of the situation I submit this translation: "And
they builded and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of
Israel, and according to the decree of Cyrus, and Darius, even
Artaxerxes king of Persia." This rendering is grammatical and is in
accord with all known facts.
In view of all these historical circumstances there is but one
conclusion to which we can come; namely, that the Ahasuerus of the book
of Esther was none other than Darius Hystaspes of profane history.
Further confirmation of this position is seen in the fact that in the
Apocryphal book, I Esdras, the Ahasuerus of the canonical book of Esther
and the Artaxerxes of Ezra 7:1 are both identified as Darius Hystaspes.
For instance, in I Esdras 3:1, 2, we read, "Now king Darius made a great
feast unto all his subjects, and unto all them that were born in his
house, and unto all the princes of Media and Persia, and to all the
satraps and captains and governors that were unto him, from India unto
Ethiopia, in the hundred twenty and seven provinces." A comparison of
this quotation with Esther 1:1-4 shows that the Apocryphal account was
taken from our canonical Esther. 'the latter uses the word Ahasuerus
whereas the former substitutes the word Darius in the narrative. In the
Apocryphal book, The Rest of the Chapters of the Book of Esther,
Ahasuerus is everywhere called Artaxerxes. In our canonical Esther we
read that the two keepers of the threshold sought to take the life of
Ahasuerus; but in The Rest of the Chapters of the Book of Esther we are
told that these eunuchs attempted to lay hands upon Artaxerxes the king
in order to take his life. Here again the Ahasuerus of our canonical
Esther is identified as Artaxerxesin the Apocryphal writing. In Esther
10:1 we read of Ahasuerus who laid tribute upon the isles of the sea,
whereas in The Rest of the Chapters of the Book of Esther it was the
great king Artaxerxes who wrote to the princes and governors of the 127
provinces from India to Ethiopia. These facts show that the writers of
the Apocryphal books understood that Ahasuerus was the Artaxerxes or
Darius of our canonical Ezra.
Archbishop Usshur, author of the chronology that bears his name,
identified Darius Hystaspes as the Artaxerxes and Ahasuerus of the
books of Ezra and Esther. But Joseph Scaliger, one of the most profound
scholars in modern times, repudiated the correct Scriptural
identification of this one ruler who bore these various names and
identified the Ahasuerus of Esther with Xerxes, successor of Darius
Hystaspes. This mistake threw the chronology into hopeless "confusion.
Only by discarding it and studying the facts anew can we arrive at the
truth on this point.
With the atmosphere thus cleared, we are in a position to understand
that Darius Hystaspes is the same ruler who is called Artaxerxes in the
books of Ezra and Nehemiah, and Ahasuerus, in the book of Esther.
In this connection may I call attention to the fact that the word
Artaxerxes with the Persian rulers had a significance similar to that of
Pharaoh in Egypt? Such writers as Abraham Zacutus in the fifteenth
century, who was astronomer to Emanuel, King of Portugal, David Ganz of
Prague, and the Sedar Olam Zeutah., or the lesser chronicle of the Jews,
tell us that "Artaxerxes among the Persians was the common name of their
king as that of Pharaoh was among the Egyptians." The title Ahasuerus
likewise appears to have had a similar significance.
In the light of the evidence which we have gleaned, we may be certain of
the following facts: In Ezra 4 : 24 we read of the second year of this
King Darius, or Artaxerxes; in Ezra 6: 15 we see that the temple was
completed in his sixth year; in Ezra 7: 1 f. we read of Ezra's leaving
Babylon in his seventh year; and in Nehemiah 1 : 1 and 2: 1 we learn of
his twentieth year; and finally in Nehemiah 5: 14 and 13: 6 we read of
his thirty-second year. As we have seen, this same monarch is known in
the book of Esther as Ahasuerus; hence in this roll we read of his
third, sixth, seventh, and twelfth years; but in the prophecies of
Haggai we find several predictions made in his second year, and in
Zechariah, others spoken in his second and fourth years.
(5.) EVENTS OF 516 B.C.E., THE SIXTH YEAR OF DARIUS
As we have already seen, the temple was completed in this year (Ez.
6:15). Another outstanding event of far-reaching consequences was that
of the selection and preparation of Esther to become queen of the
empire. (See Esther, chapter 2.)
(6.) EVENTS OF 515 B.C.E., THE SEVENTH YEAR OF DARIUS
The next stated event in the reign of Darius Hystaspes is found in Ezra
7. According to verses 7 and 8, Ezra, a faithful priest,
left Babylon on the first day of the first month of the seventh year of
his reign to be present, it seems, at the dedication of the temple. With
him came 1,754 exiles to join those who had already returned to the
land. At the river, which runs to Ahava, they observed a fast from the
ninth to the eleventh day of the first month of the seventh year of
Artaxerxes (Ezra 8:15-21), praying God's protection and blessing upon
them as they journeyed to the homeland. On the next day they resumed
their journey, starting for Jerusalem. At Jerusalem the returned exiles
observed the Passover at the regular time, the fourteenth day of the
first month, which was followed by the feast of unleavened bread (Ez.
It took about four months for Ezra's journey; hence the pilgrims arrived
in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month. Three days later the
sacred vessels which they brought back to the homeland were deposited
with the proper officials at the temple. Upon learning the conditions
which obtained in the land, Ezra the Scribe was very much depressed, for
many of the children of the captivity had married heathen wives;
nevertheless, he was indeed thankful that the temple had already been
restored and the debris, which had been in evidence on every hand had,
to a certain extent, been removed. In the ninth chapter we find recorded
the wonderful prayer which he by the Spirit of God poured out in behalf
of the nation because of its wickedness. On the twentieth day of the
ninth month of this same year the people were gathered together. This
faithful scribe pled with them to confess their sins, to separate
themselves from their heathen wives, and to maintain a life of
separation unto God. In 10:16 we read of the events of the first day of
the tenth month and in verse seventeen of the first day of the first
month. Of course, we cannot be dogmatic, but in all probability these
months fall in the same seventh year of Darius.
(7.) EVENTS OF 510 B.C.E., THE TWELFTH YEAR OF DARIUS
Now leaving the book of Ezra we turn to Esther. We have already seen
that the Ahasuerus of this book is the same Darius or Artaxerxes of the
books of Ezra and Nehemiah. In Esther 3:7 we learn that in the first
month of the twelfth year lots were cast for the slaughter of the Jews.
This plot against the Chosen People had been, as we have seen, concocted
by Haman. On the thirteenth of the first month posts were dispatched at
the king's commandment in order to carry out this decree against the
Jews (Esth. 3:12). Two days later Esther gained audience with the king
him and Haman to her banquet. That night the king could not rest (Esth.
6:1-14). On the following day Esther gave her banquet, at which Haman
was accused and hanged, and Mordecai became the prime minister (Esth.
On the twenty-third day of the third month scribes wrote letters which
were dispatched by every means available-horses, mules, camels,
dromedaries-in order that they might overtake the posts who had been
sent out by Haman. The second decree counteracted the first. Finally, on
pogrom day, the thirteenth of the twelfth month, the Jews defended
themselves against their adversaries. The Lord by His overruling
providence turned the darkness of Israel's night into day and delivered
her from being exterminated. Let us remember that He still loves her and
that He will,
in her darkest of all nights yet in the future, turn the tables and will
deliver her, i.e., those who turn to him with all their hearts.
(8.) EVENTS OF 502 B.C.E., THE TWENTIETH YEAR OF DARIUS
As we have already seen, the last thing which occurred in Jerusalem, and
which is recorded in the book of Ezra, was in the seventh year of
Artaxerxes. Nothing, so far as our records go, of any importance
transpired in the land of Palestine until the twentieth year of
Artaxerxes, when Hanani went to Shushan, the Persian capital, and
reported to Nehemiah the conditions that obtained at Jerusalem.
During the thirteen years while the veil of obscurity was resting over
Palestine, a distressing situation had developed in which the Jews were
being vigorously opposed. In addition to this persecution the wall at
Jerusalem had been broken down, and the gates burned. We are not told
how this was brought about, but undoubtedly there had been some attack
against the city.
Ezra, who led the second deputation of captives back to the land in the
seventh year of Artaxerxes, in all likelihood remained in Jerusalem
during this period of silence, for he was a man always active in God's
cause. When we get our next glimpse of Palestine in the twentieth year
of Artaxerxes, we find him cooperating with Nehemiah. Joshua, as we have
already learned, was the high priest who came back with the first
company of exiles under the leadership of Zerubbabel. The Scriptures do
not give us any information as to his death, but Josephus asserts that
it occurred about the time Ezra arrived in Jerusalem, namely, 515 B.C.E.
There is no external
evidence that would throw doubt upon the historian's record; hence we
shall accept it at face value. Accordingly, Joiakim, his son, succeeded
to the high priesthood in the seventh year of the Persian king who is
called Artaxerxes by Ezra, but whom Josephus calls Xerxes. In this
connection let us remember that this term together with others was a
common title of the Persian monarchs. Those who have read the Greek
papyri and have glanced at official documents especially know that the
Roman Caesars seemed to vie one with the other in an effort to add
pretentious titles to their names. This seems to have been the custom
with the Persian rulers. Joiakim died and was succeeded by his son
Eliashib about the time of the death of Ezra.
This little historical survey of the situation, drawn from non Biblical
sources, is in perfect accord with the facts as they are presented in
the sacred text. For instance, from Nehemiah 3:1, 20 we learn that
Eliashib was called the high priest in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes;
i.e., in the year when Nehemiah came back to Jerusalem. There is no
reason so far as the text goes for doubting this statement. His father
Joiakim may have died or he may have been incapacitated on account of
age or sickness to perform the priestly functions; hence, it was natural
that Eliashib, his son, should succeed to the priesthood under such
Another bit of confirmatory evidence of the position just stated is that
the grandson of Joiakim was Jehohanan who was sufficiently old in the
seventh year of Artaxerxes to have a chamber in the house of God (Ez.
10:6). According to Nehemiah 12:26, Joiakim was functioning in the
capacity of high priest either immediately before or at the time of
Nehemiah the governor and of Ezra the priest. The situation becomes
clear by our glancing at the priests and Levites who returned with
Zerubbabel and those who sealed the covenant with Nehemiah in the
twentieth year of Artaxerxes. This tabular form is presented by Anstey.
It appears below:
"Priests and Levites who returned Priests
and Levites who sealed
with Zerubbabel in the 1st year of with
Nehemiah in the 20th year
Cyrus, B.C. 536. Neh. 12: 1-9 of
Artaxerxes, BC502, Neh.10:1-10
1. Seraiah ...........................
3. Ezra..... . . . . . . . . . . . .
4. Amariah ............... ... .. . .
5. Malluch (Melicu)..................
6. Hattush .................. . . .
7. Shechaniah (Shebaniah).............
1. PRIESTS (continued)
8. Rehum (Harim).......................
9. Meremoth .............. . . . . . .
11. Ginnetho ..........................
12. Abijah ............................
13. Miamin ............................
14. Maadiah ...........................
16. Shemaiah ..........................
17. Joiarib ...........................
18. J edaiah
19. Sallu (Sallai).....................
21. Hilkiah ...........................
22. Jedaiah ...........................
Neh. 12:7, These were the chief of Neh.10:8, these (with Zidkijah),
the priests and of their brethren in Pashur Malluch, Obadiah, Daniel,
the days of Jeshua. Baruch and Meshullan, were the
priests that sealed with Nehemiah
Jeshua the son of Azaniah
Binnui of the sons of Henadad
3. Kadmiel ..................
4. Sherebiah .................
(Hodijah, cp. Ezra 2:40; 3:9
6. Mattaniah (over the choirs)
7. Bakbukiah ( over the
8. Unni (over the watches) ....
(and 12 others)
A glance at the tabulation above shows that 15 of the 22 chief priests
of 536 B.C.E. affixed their names to the covenant in the twentieth year
of Artaxerxes. Looking at the table of the Levites, we see that eight
are listed as having come back with Zerubbabel and the captives, and of
these five affixed their names to the covenant in the twentieth year of
Artaxerxes. Thus we see that 20 of these 30 men were living when the
covenant was made. Since it is inconceivable that two-thirds of them
could be living and actively engaged in the ordinary functions of their
life's work 91 years later in 445 B.C.E. where the popular theory places
them, we are driven irresistibly to conclude that the Artaxerxes of the
book of Nehemiah was none other than Darius Hystaspes, who is called
Artaxerxes. Let us remember in this connection that this name is simply
a title indicating "great shah, or ruler."
In view of all the facts which we have thus far learned, we may be
positive that the Artaxerxes mentioned in Nehemiah 2:1, 5:14, and 13:6
cannot possibly, under any conditions, be Artaxerxes Longimanus; "nor
can he be any other Persian monarch of later date, and as the only
Persian monarch of earlier date who reigned as long as 32 years (Neh.
5:14; 13: 6) was Darius Hystaspes, the Artaxerxes of Nehemiah 2:1, 5:14,
and 13:6 can be no other than Darius Hystaspes himself."
(9.) THE EVENTS OF THE YEAR 490 B.C.E., THE THIRTY-SECOND YEAR OF DARIUS
Nehemiah came to Jerusalem in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, Darius
Hystaspes. He assumed by imperial decree the office of Governor and
continued in this capacity until the 32nd year of this monarch. During
these 12 years he lived at his own charges, fulfilling his duties as the
leader of the people of God. (See N eh. 5:14-19. ) In the 32nd year,
however, he returned to Babylon and after certain days he came back to
Jerusalem. Upon his arrival he learned that there had been a plunge, on
the part of his brethren, into sin and a departure from God (Neh. 13 6).
The last things recorded of this great man of God were the reforms which
he instituted at this time. This date brings us, from a historical
standpoint, to the close of Hebrew history as set forth in the divine
The situation which we see reflected in the last chapter of Nehemiah
corresponds to a certain extent to that which is in evidence throughout
the book of Malachi. Some scholars have judged, and I think correctly
so, that Malachi's ministry fell about this time, namely, around 490
S. SUMMARY OF THE ARGUMENTS THAT DARIUS HYSTASPES IS THE ARTAXERXES OF
EZRA 7 AND OF THE BOOK OF NEHEMIAH
Since a proper understanding of the chronological question depends upon
a clear knowledge as to who Darius Hystaspes was, I shall give a summary
of the proof which identifies him positively as the Artaxerxes of the
books of Ezra and Nehemiah.
a. Unity of the Book of Ezra-Nehemiah
The books of Ezra and Nehemiah constituted one single history until it
was divided by Origen, the critic, in the third century of the present
era. This is clearly shown by the summary statement
found in the Hebrew Bible concerning the number of verses constituting
the book and the middle passage of it together with other data. Nehemiah
3:31 is recognized as the center of this work. From this and all the
data found in this Masoretic note, it is very evident that these two
books originally constituted one single work.
The narrative in these two books is continuous, the only exception being
that of Ezra 3:10-13, which is separated from chapter 5 by the
parenthetical account of the opposition to the Jews as related in
chapter 4. The work of the laying of the foundation of the temple was
started in the second year of Cyrus, but was interrupted by the
Samaritans and never begun again until the second year of Darius, 15
A tabular form of the data in these books shows the continuity of the
narrative. On this point I will quote from Anstey:
THE CONTINUITY OF THE EZRA-NEHEMIAH NARRATIVE
Ezra 4:24 2nd year of
Ezra 6:15 6th year 01
Ezra 7:8, 9 7th year of Artaxerxes-Ezra
comes to Jerusalem.
Neh. 1:1 20th year of (Artaxerxes)-Hanani's
Neh. 2:1 20th year of Artaxerxes-Nehemiah
goes to Jerusalem. Neh. 5:14, 13:6 32nd year
of Artaxerxes-Nehemiah returns to Babylon.
According to the popular theory in vogue at the present time, the temple
at Jerusalem was completed in the sixth year of Darius Hystaspes, 516
B.C.E. Between chapters 6 and 7, we are told, is a gap of 58 years.
Chapter 7 narrates the going of Ezra from Babylon to Jerusalem in the
seventh year of Artaxerxes Longimanus in 458 B.C.E. The things narrated
in Ezra 7-10 are, upon this hypothesis, an account of the reforms
instituted by Ezra in 458. The book of Nehemiah relates events of the
twentieth year of Artaxerxes, 445 B.C.E.
As we have already noted, the temple was completed in the sixth year of
Darius Hystaspes in 516 B.C.E., according to the commandment of the God
of Israel and according to the decrees of Cyrus and Darius, even
Artaxerxes (the great shah, or ruler) king of Persia. Cyrus issued the
original proclamation for the reconstruction of the temple. Darius in
the second year of his reign confirmed this original decree by a similar
one. These are the only two Persian rulers issuing decrees pertaining to
the reconstruction of the temple. The word Artaxerxes simply means
"great ruler." Darius, according to the Behistun inscription, executed
it either in the fifth or sixth year of his reign, conquered his foes,
his empire, assuming to himself titles of great dignity. Since the term
Artaxerxes signifies Great Shah or Ruler, it is in perfect keeping with
all the facts that he should at this time assume this title also. No
other construction can be placed upon the facts as they are embedded in
the Hebrew text.
Further confirmation of the continuity of the narrative is seen in the
last statement of Ezra 6. According to verses 19-21 the children of the
captivity together with their brethren who had remained in the land, and
who had separated themselves from the filthiness of the nations,
observed the Passover and the feast of unleavened bread with unusual
joy. The basis of this joy was that God had "turned the heart of the
king of Assyria (Darius Hystaspes, into whose kingdom the former
Assyrian empire had been incorporated) unto them, to strengthen their
hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel." At this
Passover, therefore, the Hebrew people rejoiced before God because He
had turned the heart 0.£ Darius to confirm the decree of Cyrus, thus
permitting them to complete the work of reconstruction of the house of
God. This last statement of verse 22 is a reference to God's overruling
providence in turning the heart of Darius toward the Jewish people in
the second year of his reign. From this position there can be no escape.
It is a very unfortunate matter that the Scriptures were divided into
chapters and verses, because these frequently destroy the continuity of
the thought. Chapter 7:1 begins this way, "Now after these things, in
the reign of Artaxerxes, king of Persia, Ezra, the son of Seraiah . . ."
As we have seen, the title "Artaxerxes" in 6:14 refers to Darius
Hystaspes. Since this chapter concludes with the events of the sixth
year of Darius or Artaxerxes, it is natural to suppose that the
Artaxerxes mentioned in 7:1 is the same monarch, because in the seventh
chapter Ezra tells us that Artaxerxes was favorable to him and his
company in permitting them to return to the land of the fathers. These
facts naturally weld chapters 7 to 10 with chapter 6. Only clear,
unmistakable, positive proof to the contrary could ever break this
natural continuity of thought; therefore, the idea that a gap of 58
years intervened between the events of chapter 6 and those of chapter 7
is simply a myth. In chapter 6 we are reading of the completion of the
temple in the sixth year of Darius and in chapter 7 of the events of
the seventh year of the same ruler. As we shall see later, the book of
Nehemiah recounts the events of the twentieth and the 32nd years of this
same Darius Hystaspes.
b. The Age of Ezra
Should we assume that the Artaxerxes of Ezra 7 is Artaxerxes Longimanus
(464-424 B.C.E.) , we must concede that Ezra was 128 years old when he
returned from Babylon to Jerusalem in the seventh year of Artaxerxes.
Proof of this position is found in the facts that are embedded in the
genealogical table of the high priest (I Chron. 6:3-15) and the abridged
one appearing in Ezra 7:1-5. According to the Chronicles passage, Israel
had 22 high priests from Aaron to Seraiah, who was slain by
Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah at the time of the captivity in 586 B.C.E. The
genealogy appearing in Ezra 7:1-5 is an abridged one which omits six
names from the list-those between Merioth and Azariah. The only other
difference between the two genealogies is this: The chronicler began
with Aaron and traced the lineage to Seraiah, whereas Ezra began with
himself and went backward to Aaron. From the Chronicles passage we see
that Seraiah was the father of Jehozadak, but in the Ezra genealogy
attention is called to the fact that Ezra was the son of Seraiah;
therefore, Jehozadak and Ezra were brothers.
Since Seraiah was slain by Nebuchadnezzar in his nineteenth year, i.e.,
586 B.C.E. (II Kgs. 25:8, 18-21), Ezra was born either in that year or
shortly before. The seventh year of Artaxerxes Longimanus was 458 B.C.E.
of the current chronology. If, therefore, the Artaxerxes of Ezra 7 was
Artaxerxes Longimanus, Ezra then was 128 years old when he led his
deputation of captives back to Jerusalem in that seventh year of
Artaxerxes Longimanus. Furthermore, he was, upon this hypothesis, 141
years old when he walked in the procession at the dedication of the wall
with Nehemiah in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes Longimanus. Who can
accept such an absurdity as this? Reason absolutely rejects such an
But if we are willing to take all the evidence and accept the natural
deduction to be drawn from the data, we conclude that the Artaxerxes of
Ezra 7 was none other than Darius Hystaspes whose seventh year was 515
B.C.E. In this year Ezra was at least 71 years old. A man of such an age
could do the things that are mentioned here.
c. The Lists of Priests and Levites
Proof of the contention here set forth is to be found in the lists of
priests who came back vrith Zerubbabel and Joshua and those who sealed
the covenant in the days of Nehemiah. In Nehemiah 12:1-7
appears the list of the names of the 22 priests who returned with
Zerubbabel. In verses 12-21 we have a second list of their names given
in connection with their sons administering the priestly office in the
days of Joiakim the son of Joshua. There is one difference, however, in
the two lists: Hattush is mentioned in the first list but is omitted
from the second.
In these same verses, Nehemiah 12:12-21, appear the names of the sons of
the chief priests who came back with Zerubbabel, and who functioned in
their priestly offices with Joshua; but their sons functioned in the
same capacity in the days of Joiakim, the high priest, who, as we have
already seen, succeeded his father about the time of Ezra's return from
Babylon. It is quite likely that they held office along with Joiakim,
Ezra, and Nehemiah. (See Nehemiah 12:26.) If the second generation of
chief priests was contemporaneous with Ezra and Nehemiah, then we would
date their ministration from 502-490 B.C.E.
When one compares the list of 22 priests and 8 Levites who returned with
Zerubbabel and Joshua and the captives with the register of the chief
priests and the Levites who sealed the covenant with Nehemiah in the
twentieth year of Artaxerxes, he will see that 20 out of the 30 coming
back with Zerubbabel affixed their seal to this document. Zerubbabel and
Joshua led the captives back in 536 B.C.; the twentieth year of Darius
Hystaspes was 502 B.C.E. or 34 years later. It is quite in keeping with
human life and affairs to believe that 20 out of 30 of these men who
returned with Zerubbabel were living 34 years later and sealed the
covenant with Nehemiah. This is only reasonable and in accordance with
facts as we know them in human experience. But let us suppose, as
practically all scholars today assume, that the Artaxerxes in the
twentieth year of whose reign Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem was
Artaxerxes Longimanus whose reign began, according to the accepted
chronology in 464 B.C.E. and continued to 424. The twentieth year of his
reign would be 445 B.C.E. In this case we have 20 out of 30 men who were
performing the functions of chief priest and Levites in 536 B.C.E. still
alive and filling the same positions in 445 B.C.E., 91 years later. Is
this supposition possible? Longevity existed before the Flood, but the
span of life was cut down most drastically immediately after it. In the
days of Moses the life of the average individual was further reduced to
threescore and ten and "if by reason of health and strength four score"
(Ps. 90). It seems that the life of a generation has been constantly
as time passes by. One or two men in a given community might reach the
century mark; such cases are the exception and not the rule. It was
certainly not the case in the days of Ezra. Daniel was very young when
he was taken into captivity at the beginning of the 70-year period of
Babylonian exile. He lived through it and to the third year of Cyrus
king of Persia. Thus we can account for 73 years of his life. We are
bound to assume that he was a young man, probably in his teens, when he
was taken to Babylon. Let us, for the sake of investigation, assume that
he was 17 years of age at that time. Upon this basis he was, at the time
of his passing away, around 90. Evidently he was an exception to the
rule as may be seen in many cases. One, or possibly two, who returned
with Zerubbabel and Joshua, and who were sufficiently old to perform the
priestly functions at that time, might have lived until the twentieth
year of Artaxerxes Longimanus, i.e., 445 B.C.E.; but it is incredible to
think that 20 out of 30 of those listed in 536 B.C.E. were continuing
their priestly function 91 years later. In view of these facts it is
unthinkable to conceive of the position that the Artaxerxes of the book
of Nehemiah was Artaxerxes Longimanus. On this point I wish to quote
"Some valuable chronological information is contained in the
genealogical and other lists in these Books. The list of those who
sealed the covenant with Nehemiah, in the 20th year of Artaxerxes (Neh.
10:1-13) is almost identical with the list of those who returned to
Jerusalem with Zerubbabel and Joshua, given in Neh. 12:1-9.
"This is the crowning argument for the identification of the Artaxerxes
of Nehemiah with Darius Hystaspes."
d. The Age of Nehemiah
In Ezra 2:2 and Nehemiah 7:7 the third in the list of the leaders who
brought the captives back from Babylon is Nehemiah. This man undoubtedly
was one of the outstanding characters of the time, as is indicated by
the position which he holds in the narrative. The first presumption,
then, is that Nehemiah, the cupbearer, the leading character in the book
of Nehemiah, is the same individual. Unless there is positive proof
indicating otherwise, we must accept this presupposition. For instance,
there are many Roosevelts in the country today. Whenever we read in the
paper anything about Mr. Roosevelt, we instantly think of the President
of the United States, since he stands out from all other Roosevelts in
prominence. So it was with this Nehemiah. Acting thus upon this normal,
logical supposition, we find Nehemiah as one of the leaders of the
tion movement. If we assume that Artaxerxes of the book of Nehemiah is
Artaxerxes Longimanus, who mounted the throne in 464 B.C.E., and whose
32nd year was 433 B.C.E., then Nehemiah was 103 years older at this
latter time than he was when he returned with the captives in the first
year of Cyrus. It is unreasonable and absurd to think that a man of such
age could carryon the work of repairing the walls and administering the
office of governor during such troublous times as existed. On the
contrary, if we accept the proposition that Artaxerxes of the book of
Nehemiah was Darius Hystaspes whose 32nd year was 490 B.C.E., then
Nehemiah was only 46 years older than he was when he returned to
Jerusalem with Zerubbabel in the first year of Cyrus. This assumption is
not only reasonable but necessary. From this consideration, therefore,
we conclude that Artaxerxes of the book of Nehemiah is none other than
e. The Artaxerxes of Nehemiah Reigned Thirty-two Years
Since the Artaxerxes mentioned in Ezra 7, in whose seventh year that
ready scribe returned with a deputation of captives from Babylon is the
Artaxerxes of the book of Nehemiah, and since this ruler was not
Artaxerxes Longimanus, he could have been none other than Darius
Hystaspes, inasmuch as he reigned at least 32 years, according to
Nehemiah 5:14; 13:6, and no other Persian king except Artaxerxes
Longimanus reigned that long. From this angle, therefore, we identify
the Artaxerxes of the book of Nehemiah with Darius Hystaspes.
f. The Testimony of Josephus and Jewish Extra-canonical Writings
As already seen, Josephus identifies the Artaxerxes of Ezra 7 with the
Persian king whom he calls Xerxes, and who reigned at least 28 years.
This could not be Xerxes, the son of Darius Hystaspes, mentioned in
Ptolemy's canon, because he reigned only 21 years. He, therefore, must
have been Darius Hystaspes. Evidently Josephus was mistaken in calling
him "son of Darius." In the apocryphal book of I Esdras the Ahasuerus of
the book of Esther is identified with Darius Hystaspes and in the
chapters of the apocryphal Rest of Esther Ahasuerus is known as
Artaxerxes. Jewish tradition, as is reflected in the tract Sedar Olam,
also identifies Artaxerxes of the book of Nehemiah as Darius Hystaspes.
These facts likewise corroborate the position taken.
g. Circumstantial Evidence
In Ezra 7:23 we read of "the realm of the king and his sons." According
to profane history Darius Hystaspes had several sons before he became
king. Some of these disputed the succession with his son by his second
wife "Atossa, the daughter of Cyrus, one of whom Darius Hystaspes
appointed to succeed him, viz. Xerxes."
Additional evidence in favor of the present contention is to be found in
the fact that Artaxerxes of the book of Nehemiah, in the twentieth year
of whose reign permission was granted Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem,
and who reigned as long as 32 years (Neh. 13:6), could not have been
Xerxes who reigned only 21 years. Since, as seen above, he could not
have been Artaxerxes Longimanus, we are again driven to believe that he
was Darius Hystaspes. All evidence points to the conclusion that
Artaxerxes of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah was none other than Darius
Hystaspes. If one rejects this proposition and supposes that this
monarch is Artaxerxes Longimanus, he is forced to create two Ezras. two
Nehemiahs, two Mordecais, and several others. Such a supposition is
unreasonable; therefore, all the evidence proves positively, without a
shade of doubt, that Darius Hystaspes was the Artaxerxes of Ezra 7 and
of the book of Nehemiah.
6. SUMMARY OF THE ARGUMENTS THAT DARIUS HYSTASPES IS THE AHASUERUS OF
THE BOOK OF ESTHER
a. The Identification of Mordecai of the Book of Esther
The next thing in order is to summarize the testimony identifying the
Ahasuerus of the book of Esther. Since the days of Joseph Scaliger, this
monarch has been reckoned as the Xerxes of the Ptolemaic canon. Such an
interpretation of the facts is required by the effort to make Biblical
chronology fit into the accepted chronology of the day. In order to
accomplish this unusual feat, a forced interpretation has been placed
upon Esther 2:5, 6. In this passage we are told that there was a
"certain Jew in Shushan the palace, whose name was Mordecai, the son of
Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite, who had been
carried away from Jerusalem with the captives that had been carried away
with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon,
had carried away." The strained interpretation referred to makes this
passage declare that Kish, the great-grandfather of Mordecai, was the
one who was taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar when
Jeconiah was deported. Such an interpretation is possible, if one closes
his eyes to the usual manner of writing genealogies and ignores the data
of the context. The genealogy, for instance, of Ezra is recounted in
Ezra 7:1-6, which traces his lineage back to Aaron. Aaron was not the
one who taught the law in the seventh year of Artaxerxes; Ezra was the
one. On account of the long list of ancestors, Ezra repeats his name in
verse 6 after giving his pedigree. The writer of Esther wants to
introduce Mordecai the Jew and differentiates him from all other
Mordecais. He does this by tracing his genealogy back to his
great-grandfather and follows this information by stating that Mordecai
was a Benjamite, i.e., of the tribe of Benjamin, who had been carried
with Jeconiah to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. Let us note another example
of the identification of a writer or speaker. In Zephaniah 1:1 the
prophet traces his lineage back to his great-great-grandfather and
follows these words by dating his prophecy, "In the days of Josiah, the
son of Amon, king of Judah." Another example may be found in Zechariah
1:1. Here the prophet traced his genealogy back to his grandfather Iddo
and spoke of himself as the prophet to whom the word of the Lord came.
From these and other examples we can see that the natural meaning
intended by the inspired writer was that Mordecai was the one who went
into captivity with Jeconiah and not Kish, his great-grandfather.
If we make Ahasuerus of the book of Esther Xerxes whose reign was from
485 to 465, his twelfth year would be 474 B.C.E. In this event Mordecai
would be at least 123 years of age, and Esther, who was his cousin,
would have been, as Anstey says, "an aged beauty." Such a position is
unthinkable. Ahasuerus of the book of Esther, therefore, is not Xerxes
but Darius Hystaspes.
b. The Testimony of Josephus and the First Book of Esdras
Josephus speaks of the husband of Esther as Artaxerxes throughout. It
must be admitted, however, that he is somewhat confused in his name
because he speaks of Artaxerxes as "Cyrus the son of Xerxes, whom the
Greeks called Artaxerxes." This could not be Artaxerxes Longimanus, for
that would make Mordecai 143 years of age, which supposition is
ridiculous. In I Esdras 1:2 Ahasuerus is identified as Darius Hystaspes.
c. The Vast E1npire of the Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther According to
Esther 1:1, Ahasuerus is the one who reigned over 127 provinces. Note
how specific the language is: "this is Ahasuerus
who reigned from India even unto Ethiopia, over a hundred and seven and
twenty provinces." This language indicates that he was the one and the
only one who reigned over this number of provinces from India to
Ethiopia. It could mean nothing if there were more than this one monarch
whose territory was so very extensive. Who then reigned over these 127
provinces? From Daniel 6:1 we learn that Darius the Mede in 538 B.C.E.
was sovereign of an empire consisting of 120 provinces. It is quite
evident that this monarch could not have been the Ahasuerus of the book
of Esther. According to Herodotus, the Greek historian, Darius Hystaspes
conquered India in 506, for he says that this monarch "established 20
governments of the kind which the Persians call satrapies, assigning to
each its governor and fixing the tribute which was to be paid him by the
several nations" (Vol. 3:89). Then the historian enumerated the nations
included in the conquest of Darius; namely, Asia Minor, Phoenicia,
Syria, Cyprus, Egypt, Libya, Cyrene, Susa, Babylon, Assyria, Media,
Armenia, Parthia. He also gave the amount of tribute paid by each
nation. In chapter 95 he further states that "The Indians, who were more
numerous than any other nation with which we are acquainted, paid a
tribute exceeding that of any other people, to wit: 360 talents of gold
dust. This was the twentieth satrapy." The Ethiopians did not pay a cent
of tribute, but brought gifts to the king. The Egyptians and Nubians
likewise made a certain contribution to him. His empire finally grew
until it included 127 satrapies. He alone of the Persian rulers governed
so much territory. Hence Darius Hystaspes was Ahasuerus of Esther.
d. The Taxation of the Islands of the Sea
After having enumerated the 20 satrapies of the realm of Darius,
Herodotus states "Such was the revenue which Darius derived from Asia,
and a small part of Libya. Later in his reign the sum was increased by
the tribute of the islands and of the nations of Europe as far as
Sicily" (Herodotus, Book 3, 96). Thucydides also gives us this
information: "The Ionians had attained great prosperity when Cyrus and
the Persians, having overthrown Croesus, and subdued the countries
between them and the river Halys and the sea, made war against them and
enslaved the cities of the mainland. Sometime afterward, Darius, strong
in the possession of the Phoenician fleet, conquered the islands also."
The three Greek writers, Herodotus, Thucydides, and Plato, inform us
that Darius Hystaspes subdued the islands of the Aegean
Sea, whereas Diodorus Siculus (Book 12) states that they were all lost
again by Xerxes the son of Darius "before the twelfth year of his
reign," which occurred in 474 B.C.E. This is in perfect keeping with
what we are told concerning the smashing defeats which he suffered at
Thermopylae, Salamis, and Platea in 480 B.C.E. After Xerxes, no Persian
kings held any islands except that of Clazomene and Cyprus. From these
considerations we may be absolutely certain that Ahasuerus of the book
of Esther was none other than Darius Hystaspes; therefore, the
identification of Xerxes as the monarch of the book of Esther is
e. The Perfect Synchronism of the Biblical Account With That of Profane
According to Esther, chapter 7, the Persian monarch made a feast in his
third year, namely, 519 B.C.E. During the first 2 years of his reign
Darius was occupied with the overthrow of pretenders to the throne and
in subduing revolts, the first of which was in his first year; and the
second, in his fourth. The latter lasted for 2 years, according to
Herodotus. He divorced Vashti in the third year, but was occupied in
quelling revolts until his sixth year, at which time he turned his
thoughts toward matrimony. After the year of preparation for the
marriage, he wedded Esther in his seventh year (Esth. 1:3; 2: 16).
The character of the monarch of the book of Esther together with the
local setting fits in perfectly with that of Darius Hystaspes just as
accurately, if not better, than with Xerxes his son.
In view of all the facts presented, I am absolutely certain that
Ahasuerus of the book of Esther was none other than Darius Hystaspes who
reigned from 521-485 B.C.E.
II. EXAMINATION OF THE BASIS OF THE RECEIVED CHRONOLOGY
"The Chronology of this period has never yet been accurately determined.
The received chronology, though universally accepted, is dependent on
the list of the Kings, and the number of years assigned to them in
Ptolemy's Canon. Ptolemy (A.D. 70-161) was a great constructive genius.
He was the author of the Ptolemaic System of Astronomy. He was one of
the founders of the Science of Geography. But in chronology he was only
a late compiler and contriver, not an original witness, and not a
contemporary historian, for he lived in the 2nd Century after Christ. He
is the only authority for the chronology of the Persian period. He is
corroborated. He is contradicted by the Persian National Tradition:»
preserved by Firdusi, by the Jewish National Traditions preserved by the
Sedar Olam, and by the writings of Josephus. "It has always been held to
be unsafe to differ from Ptolemy and for this reason his Canon, or List
of Reigns, is the only thread by which the last year of Darius Hystaspes,
485 B.C.E., is connected with the first year of Alexander the Great."
As Mr. Anstey states, the chronology of the Persian period is everything
but certain. It is resting upon fragmentary traditions, deductions made
by a late compiler, and the manipulations and guesses of modern
chronologists. Under such conditions it is utterly impossible for one to
accept this system as authentic.
A. The Egyptian Sothic Cycle
Confirmation for the accepted chronology is sought by resort to
astronomical calculations based upon the Egyptian Sothic Cycle. Thus we
are told from time to time that our present method of reckoning is
demonstrated by accurate mathematical calculation. One of the principal
arguments is based upon a statement of Censorinus, a Latin writer. In
this connection I wish to quote from Martin Anstey, who has stated the
situation very succinctly in the following passage.
"To the list of these six early Greek authors must be added the name of
the Latin writer Censorinus.
"Censorinus (A.D. 238) wrote his work De die Natali in the year A.D.
238. Like Ptolemy he was a compiler of dates and a calculator of Eras.
He fixed the date of the last Sothic period before his own time, as that
covered by the years B.C. 1321-A.D. 139. This calculation is used by
Egyptologers in dating the reign of Merenptah, the Pharaoh of the
Exodus. The passage is one of first rate importance. It is therefore
given in full. Censorinus says:"'
The Egyptians in the formation of their great year had no regard to the
moon. In Greece the Egyptian year is called "cynical" (doglike), in
Latin "canicular" because it commences with the rising of the Canicular
or dogstar (Sirius), to which is fixed the first day of the month which
the Egyptians call Thoth. Their civil year had but 365 days without any
intercalation. Thus with the Egyptians the space of four years is
shorter by one day than the space of four natural years, and a complete
synchronism is only established at the end of the 1461 years (Chapter
"'But of these Eras the beginnings always take place on the first day of
the month which is called Thoth among the Egyptians, a day which this
present year (A.D. 238) corresponds to the VIIth day of the Kalends of
July (June 25), whilst 100 years ago this same day corresponded to the
XIIth day of the Kalends of August (July 21) at which time the dogstar
is wont to rise in Egypt (Chapter XXI).
"This information is used by Egyptologers in translating the Egyptian
Vague year of 365 days into the Julian year of 365 1/4 days. Taking
together the somewhat doubtful testimony of Manetho and the calculations
of modern astronomers, based on the information given by Censorinus,
they are able to
arrive at a date for the reign of Merenptah, the Pharaoh of the Exodus.
But the validity of the result obtained is dependent upon the truth of a
considerable number of assumptions, and cannot be regarded as anything
but hypothetical, or tentative.
"Another calculation by Censorinus of still more fundamental importance
is his determination of the date of the 1st Olympiad. This he places in
the 10l4th year before the consulship of Ulpius and Pontianus, A.D. 238.
Of these 1014 years, 238 belong to the present Era A.D. This leaves 776
for the number of years before the commencement of the present era, and
accordingly the 1st Olympiad is dated B.C. 776.
"The fragment is here given in full. It is taken from Cory's Ancient
Fragments." (Because of the length of this quotation I shall omit it,
but anyone can see it in the work cited by Mr. Anstey.)
"Hence the year B.C. 776, thus determined by Censorinus, has been made
the pivot upon which Chronology has been made to depend. The scheme or
framework being determined beforehand, all that remained was to make the
facts fit into the space allotted to them, and all dates, both sacred
and profane, have been made to conform to the requirements of the
"Eusebius accepted this basis, and adapted the Chronology of the Old
Testament to it, and he and Jerome, who translated his work into Latin,
are followed by all subsequent writers. They all adopt the principle,
though they differ somewhat in their application of it. Eusebius
identifies the year B.C. 776 with the 49th of Uzziah. Elsewhere he
copies Julius Africanus and identifies it with the 1st year of Ahaz.
Syncellus identifies it with the 45th year of Uzziah. Clinton says it
was in reality the 33rd year of Uzziah. But the method adopted is the
same, and through Eusebius the Era has passed into the works of all
subsequent writers, and thus the space of time between the first of
Cyrus as Sole Rex and the year of our Lord A.D. 1, has been fixed
beforehand, as a space of 536 years instead of 454, as it is by Daniel.
The important thing to note is that this fixing of the dates is not
based on contemporary testimony like that of Jeremiah 25: 1, in which we
are distinctly told that the 4th year of Jehoiakim was the 1st year of
Nebuchadnezzar, but is arrived at by a process of computation worked out
1000 years after the event, and resting ultimately upon the shadowy
calculations of Eratosthenes and Timaeus, who obtain their data by
multiplying the number of Ephors, Kings, Archons or Priestesses by the
number of years which they imagined each of these various officers would
be likely to have occupied these several posts."
From this quotation we can see that the attempt to determine chronology
by calculations based upon the Sothic cycle is of little value.
Nevertheless, certain Egyptologists depend entirely upon it and devise a
system of dates which are contrary to other data and to the Scriptures.
In view of the unreliability of this method of establishing a scheme of
dating history, one can see that no scientific value can be attached to
any calculations based upon it.
B. Astronomical Observations and Calculations
Most chronologers attempt to fix the system of dates by astronomical
calculations. Thus the dates of the death of Herod and the birth of
Jesus of Nazareth are thought by many to be determined absolutely by
this method. But Martin Anstey has shown
the futility of such a computation. A mathematical calculation has only
that certainty which is given to it by the various elements entering
into it. If there is the least uncertainty attaching to any of the
different factors, the doubt still remains in the conclusion. There can
be no doubt that mathematics is an exact science. As long, therefore, as
the astronomer confines his calculations to known quantities about which
there can be no inexactness or doubt, just that long there will be no
question in regard to the conclusions which he reaches-if he makes no
mistakes in his computation. A celebrated case on which different
astronomers have put much labor and have arrived at different
conclusions is the "eclipse of Thales." Herewith I give Anstey's
treatment of the case.
"Astronomical Observations and Calculations are regarded by many
Chronologers as the surest and most unerring data for fixing the dates
of various events. Eclipses can be calculated both backward and forward.
They are distinguished from each other by the time when, and the place
where, they can be seen, the duration of the eclipse, and the quantity
or number of digits eclipsed. They have therefore been regarded as a
means of correcting and determining the dates of the events at which
they have occurred, and the results thus obtained have been invested
with a kind of quasi-infallibility. The date of our Lord's birth is
fixed by means of an eclipse of the moon recorded by Josephus as having
occurred shortly before Herod's death.
"Tables of eclipses have been furnished by Chronologers and Astronomers
from B.C. 753 to A.D. 70, and a list of 44 of the most remarkable of
these (25 eclipses of the sun, and 19 eclipses of the moon) is given in
Hales' New Analysis of Chronology. The most celebrated of these eclipses
is that known as the 'Eclipse of Thales,' from the fact that Thales
foretold the year in which it would happen. It has been used by
Chronologers to adjust the various Eras and the Chronologies of Assyria,
Babylon, Media, Lydia, Scythia, and Greece. But it has proved an apple
of discord. Five several eclipses, occurring at as many different dates,
have been identified by different astronomers as the one in question.
The eclipse is described by Herodotus as occurring in the sixth year of
the war between the Medes and the Lydians, on the river Halys, when
during an obstinate battle the day suddenly became night. Both armies
ceased fighting, a treaty of peace was arranged, and confirmed by a
"This 'Eclipse of Thales' thus described by Herodotus has been
identified with the following five distinct astronomically calculated
eclipses of the sun
"(1) On July 30, B.C. 607-By Calvisius.
"(2) On May 17. B.C. 603-By Costard, Montucla, and Kennedy.
"(3) On Sept. 19, B.C. 601-By Ussher.
"(4) On July 9, B.C.. 597-By Petavius, Marsham, Bouhier and Larcher.
"(5) On May 28, B.C. 585-By Pliny, Scaliger, Newton, Ferguson, Vignoles,
"It will be seen from the above that there are many sources of error
which must be allowed for, before attaching to the chronological result
arrived at the infallibility which belongs to a mathematical
calculation. "There may be errors of observation on the part of the
historian, errors of calculation on the part of the astronomer, and
errors of identification on the part of the Chronologer, who may wrongly
conclude that the dated eclipse
calculated by the astronomer is one and the same with the eclipse
described by the historian. The mistake of investing these
astronomically determined chronological dates with the infallibility of
a mathematical calculation, is that of assuming that the strength of the
chain is that of its strongest link, instead of that of its weakest
link. The astronomical calculations may be infallibly correct, and
demonstrably accurate to the tick of the clock, but that only fixes the
infallibility of one link in the chain, the strength and security of
which cannot be transferred to the other links, or to the result as a
whole. We cannot, therefore, obtain from Astronomical Observations and
Calculations the material we need to enable us to use them as a standard
by which to test the truth of the Chronological statements of the Old
Testament. Like the testimony of the Monuments, and all the other
witnesses, the testimony of Astronomy must be heard and adjudged upon;
it must not presume to adjudge upon the testimony of other witnesses."
The conclusions of these different astronomers and chronologers show
that we cannot depend upon astronomy for the setting of dates, since
there are so very many unknown and uncertain quantities entering into
each case, If the determination of a date involved only a mathematical
calculation, pure and simple, we could rely absolutely upon the result
In another connection Mr. Anstey gives us a fuller discussion of the
matter of eclipses and shows that they cannot be relied upon for the
determination of chronological questions. This quotation is worthy of
our most careful consideration.
"Prideaux puts the authority of Ptolemy's Canon above that of every
other human writer. He says:"
'Ptolemy's Canon being fixed by the eclipses, the truth of it may at any
time be demonstrated by astronomical calculations, and no one hath ever
calculated those eclipses but hath found them fall in the times where
placed; and, therefore, this being the surest guide which we have in
Chronology, and it being also verified by its agreement everywhere with
the Holy Scripture, it is not for the authority of any other human
writer whatsoever to be receded from.'
"Lloyd and Marshall speak of it in similar terms. Halma regards it as
'the most precious monument of antiquity.'
An examination of the table of eclipses, gathered from the works of
Ptolemy by M. Halma, shows that whilst there are eclipses recorded in
the 1st and 2nd years of Merodach-baladan (Mar. 19, 720, Mar. 8, 719 and
Sep. 1, 719), the 5th year of Nabopolasser (Api. 22, 600), the 7th of
Cambyses (July 16, 522), and the 20th and 31st years of Darius Hystaspes
(Nov. 19, 501 and Ap. 25, 490), as soon as we reach this point, at which
the narrative of the Old Testament closes, and the late Persian period
begins, there is from the 31st year of Darius to the Archonship of
Phanostratus, no eclipse whatever on record, and consequently- no
astronomical data by which to fix the duration of the reigns of the
Kings of the later Persian period.
"Apart from three eclipses recorded by the Chaldees on Dec. 23, 381, and
June 18, 380, in the Archonship of Phanostratus, and on Dec. 10, 380, in
the Archonship of Evander, there is not a single eclipse on record .from
the 31st year of Darius to the death of Alexander the Great.
"Ptolemy's Canon is compiled from Chaldean records in which eclipses of
the moon alone are registered, the Chaldean astronomers not being able
to calculate the eclipses of the sun.
"So that for the construction of that part of Ptolemy's Canon which
covers the interval of 109 years between B.C. 490 and 381, eclipses are
entirely wanting, and Ptolemy has to fall back upon the same materials
as other Chronologers. At the very point at which the Old Testament, the
Apocryphal literature, Josephus, the classics, the Cuneiform
Inscriptions of Persia and the tablets of Babylonia all fail, Ptolemy
fails also. These 82 years are years that never existed except in the
constructive imagination of the Chronologer. They are years in which the
sun never set, and on which the light never shone.
"Of course, if one could be quite sure of the exact date of an eclipse,
like the Eclipse of Thales, and could identify it with an event like the
Battle of Halys, such an eclipse would measure the lapse of time between
that event and the present day, and also between that event and every
other event connected with it by a chain of continuous, contemporary
"But the date of the Eclipse of Tha1es and the Battle of Halys is quite
unknown to us. All that we know of it is what we are told in Herodotus,
Book i, Chap. 74, where he says;"
'War broke out between Cyaxares the Mede and Alyattes the Lydian, and
continued for five years with various success. In the course of it the
Medes gained many victories over the Lydians, and the Lydians also
gained many victories over the Medes. A combat took place in the 6th
year in the course of which, just as the battle was growing warm, day
was in a sudden changed into night. This event had been foretold by
Thales the Milesian, who forewarned the Ionians of it, fixing for it the
very year in which it actually took place.'
"The date of this eclipse as fixed by Volney was B.C. 625. Clinton made
it B.C. 603. Ideler said no eclipse fulfilled the conditions except that
of B.C. 610. Later still, Mr. Hind and Prof. Airy brought it down to
B.C. 585. The Eclipse of Thales has been placed in 607 (Calvisius), 603
(Costard, Montucla and Kennedy), 601 (Ussher) , 597 (Petavius, Marsham,
Bouhier and Larcher), and 585 (Pliny, Scaliger, Newton, Ferguson,
Vignoles, and Jackson). George Rawlinson concludes a paragraph on the
subject by saying, 'It may be doubted whether astronomical science has
yet attained to such exactness with respect to the line of solar
eclipses as to justify the adoption of its results as the basis of a
chronological system. All astronomical calculations are uncertain since
they assume the uniformity of the moon's motion which is a very doubtful
point, and since Professor Airy made his calculations for Mr. Bosonquet,
which brought the date of the Eclipse of Thales down to B.C. S85,
certain irregularities in the moon's movements have been discovered.'
"In any case, since there are never less than 2 eclipses in any year,
usually 4, and sometimes as many as 7, and since an eclipse repeats
itself more or less completely every 18 years and a few days, and much
more completely every 54 years and a month, there will always be an
eclipse available within a reasonable number of years with which to
identify any recorded eclipse, the date of which we desire to fix; apart
from which, it is a perfect paradox to contemplate the fixing of the
current of the history of the entire world by the motions of the moon,
the very type and symbol of instability.
"The method of astronomical calculation is, therefore, by no means an
infallible guide to Chronology, but even if it were an infallible guide,
Ptolemy could make no use of it, for he had no recorded eclipses to work
the method with, during the later Persian period, the only part of his
Chronology which is in dispute.
"We have seen that the received Chronology and the received dating of
the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, which identifies the Artaxerxes of Ezra
7 and Nehemiah with Artaxerxes Longimanus, land us in the absurdity of
making the leading men of the period live to an impossible age.
"Ezra, 141 in the 20th year of Artaxerxes Longimanus.
"Nehemiah, 103 years older in the 3nnd year of Artaxerxes Longimanus
than when he returned to Jerusalem in the 1st year of Cyrus.
"Mordecai 123 in the 12th year of Xerxes."
As further proof that dates cannot be set by astronomy with any degree
of accuracy and certainty, I wish to call attention to the fact that
chronologers are at variance relative to many outstanding events of the
past. They at times vary by several centuries in. regard to the date of
a certain happening. In view of these facts one cannot put confidence in
the determination of chronology by astronomy.
The present system of Chronology--the B.C.E. and C.E. dates--is based
upon computations which, in turn, often rest upon fragmentary evidence.
For instance, the early years of the present dispensation are very
uncertain. The chronology of those days is based upon bits of
information gathered here and there, which have been pieced together by
conjecture and hypotheses. Roman chronology has been worked out by the
lists of the consuls and is supposed to be correct. After having done
special research work on the foundations afforded by these lists in the
British Museum, London, and the libraries and museums in Rome, I found
that there is no authentic list that can be relied upon. Neither can any
confidence be put in the chronology which is based upon the lists of the
occupants of the Papal Throne. All historians of the period are in
doubt. In fact, most of them in suggesting a date for a given event of
those early days place a question mark after certain names.
The calendar is, therefore, resting upon conjectures and guesses at
different places. By certain late compilers a scheme of years has been
made out and has come down to us in the form of B.C.E. and C.E. systems.
Some modern astronomers have accepted these schedules as correct without
investigation and have placed certain events as having occurred in a
given year of one of them. Thus they speak in terms of these current
schemes without implying that they are correct.
From a purely mathematical point of view the astronomer can figure just
when an eclipse was 2000 or 3000 years ago and where it was visible.
There can be no doubt concerning its having
occurred just as he figures. For example, he may make his calculation
and discover that there was an eclipse of the sun exactly 3000 years ago
which was visible from a belt that crossed the northwestern portion of
the United States. If his calculation is correct we may be sure that
there was such an eclipse. To be more explicit, let me say that an
eclipse which took place exactly 3000 years ago did not occur in the
year which is known as 1063 B.C.E., the present date of this writing
being 1938 C.E. My reason for saying this is that we know positively 82
years were added to the length of the Persian period. Nevertheless,
because of current usage we are compelled to speak in terms of the
popular chronology. But no scientist who has taken the time to
investigate the foundation of our current chronology will affirm that
the years determined by pure calculation will fit into the popular
chronology because it is incorrect. To state the case differently, let
me say that the year which is called 1063 B.C.E. was 3082 years ago, if
no other mistakes were made in the computation of the two systems.
Should a different scheme be devised for the reckoning of time, the
astronomers would speak in terms of the new calendar.
Knowing the contradictions and the guesses that have been made by both
chronologers and certain astronomers, one can place no confidence in any
calculations that might be made by astronomers to determine the date of
a given historical event.
C. The Uncertainty of the Data Underlying the Present System of
An examination of the data that underlie the current system of reckoning
time will reveal the fact that it is not built upon the firm foundation
of established facts but upon surmises, guesses, and hypotheses. The
following quotations from Anstey will make this point clear.
"The Sedar Glam Rabbah, i.e., The Large Chronicle of the World, commonly
called the Larger Chronicon, is a Jewish Talmudic Tract, containing the
O1ronology of the world as reckoned by the Jews. It treats of Scripture
times, and is continued down to the reign of Hadrian (A.D. 76-138). The
author is said to have been Rabbi Jose ben Cha1iptha, who flourished a
little after the beginning of the 2nd Century after Christ, and was
Master to Rabbi Judah Hakkodesh, who composed the Mishna. Others say it
dates from A.D. 832, and that it was certainly written after the
Babylonian Talmud, as it contains many fables taken from thence.
"The Sedar Glam Zeutah, i.e., Small Chronicle of the World, commonly
called the Lesser Chronicle, is said to have been written. A. D. 1123.
It is a short chronicle of the events of history from the beginning of
the world to the year A.D. 522;
"Both contain the Jewish tradition respecting the duration of the
Persian Empire. This tradition is 'that in the last year of Darius
Hystaspes, the prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi died, that
thereon the spirit of prophecy ceased from among the Children of Israel,
and that this was the obsignation or sealing up of vision and prophecy
spoken of by the prophet Daniel (Dan. 9: 24). The same tradition tells
us that the Kingdom of the Persians ceased also the same year, for they
will have it that this was the Darius whom Alexander the Great
conquered, and that the whole continuance of the Persian Empire was only
52 years, which they reckon thus'
Darius the Median reigned....................... . . . . .
Cyrus. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
(whom they identify with the Ahasuerus who married Esther)
Darius (whom they will have to be the son of Esther) ......
Total........................... . . . . . .... . .
.................................................. 52 years
"'This last Darius, they say, was the Artaxerxes who sent Ezra and
Nehemiah to Jerusalem to restore the state of the Jews, for they tell us
that Artaxerxes among the Persians was the common name for their Kings,
as that of Pharaoh was among the Egyptians.'
"Now we may say with Dr. Prideaux in his Historical Connection of the
Old and New Testaments, published in 1858, from which the above extract
is taken, that 'this shows how ill they have been acquainted with the
affairs of the Persian Empire,' and that 'their countryman, Josephus, in
the account which he gives of those times, seems to have been but very
little better informed concerning them,' or, we may draw the contrary
conclusion, that Josephus knew the history of his own country better
"How long did the Persian Empire last? We may ask the Persians
themselves, and if we do they will tell us that they have no records of
the period, these having been all swept away by the Greek and Mohammedan
Invasions. But they have certain vague, floating, national traditions,
cast into an epic poem by Firdusi, and from these we learn that the
succession of the Persian Monarchs was as follows: (1) Darius Hystaspes,
(2) Artaxerxes Longimanus, (3) Queen Homai, the mother of Darius Nothus,
(4) Darius Nothus, the bastard son of Artaxerxes Longimanus, and (5)
Darius, who was conquered by Alexander the Great. All the Kings between
these two Dariuses they omit.
"Or again we may ask the Jews, and if we do they wilt tell us that the
Persian Empire lasted only 52 years, from the first of Cyrus to the
first of Alexander the Great. We may go to Ptolemy, and if we do he will
determine the length of the period and make out a list of kings for us
by means of astronomical calculations and conjectural identifications of
recorded with calculated eclipses, and then we shalt get a Persian
Empire lasting 205 years. But if we take the account given in Nehemiah,
and the years specified by the prophet Daniel, we shall find that the
Persian Empire continued for a period of 123 years.
"The Jews shortened it to 52 years. 'Some of them,' says Sir Isaac
Newton, 'took Herod for the Messiah, and were thence calted Herodians.
They seem to have grounded their opinion on the 70 weeks, which they
reckoned from the first year of Cyrus. But afterwards, in applying the
prophecy to Theudas and Judas of Galilee, and at length to Bar Cochab,
they seem to have shortened the reign of the Kingdom of Persia.' This
explains why the Jews underestimated the duration of the Persian Empire,
and it shows that originally they reckoned about 123 years.
"Now, From 1st year Cyrus to 1st year Alexander the Great.
From 1st year Alexander the Great to Herod (B.C. 331-4) ........327
From 1st year Cyrus to the birth of Christ. . . . . . . .
"If, then, the wise men from the East had heard of Daniel's prophecy,
and had kept an accurate account of the years, and if the Jews of
Palestine were also expecting the Messiah at the very time when He was
born (B.C. 4) on the ground that it was then within 33 years of the 483
predicted in Daniel for His appearance, and therefore now time for Him
to be born, this would indicate that they reckoned the time between the
1st year of Cyrus and the birth of Christ as a period of 450 years. And
since the 327 years (B.C. 331 to B.C. 4) from Alexander the Great to the
birth of Christ were in all probability accurately computed by the
Greeks, for they began their reckoning by Olympiads within 60 years of
Alexander's death, it leaves exactly these 123 years for the duration of
the Persian Empire, and abridges the accepted Ptolemaic Chronology by 82
years for 205 -123 = 82, which is the exact year expressed for these
events in the Chronology of the Old Testament, as developed in these
pages, for Cyrus' 1st year is shown to be the year AN. HOM. 3589, whence
3589 + 483 = 4071 (inclusive reckoning) , for the Crucifixion, and as
Christ was about 30 years of age when He began His ministry, and His
ministry lasted three years, He was born AN. HOM. 4038, or exactly 450
years after the 1st year of Cyrus, Christ having been born four years
before the commencement of the Christian Era. But 450 years before the
actual date of the birth of Christ is B.C. 454. The true date of the 1st
year of Cyrus is therefore B.C. 454, not B.C. 536, which makes the
Chronology of this period 82 years too long.
"It may be objected that in the Battle of Marathon, which was fought
B.C. 490, Darius Hystaspes was defeated by the Greeks, and that the
Greek Chronology, which was reckoned by Olympiads from B.C. 776 onward,
cannot be at fault to the extent of 82 years. But that is just the very
point in dispute. The Greeks did not make a single calculation in
Olympiads, nor had they any accurate chronological records till sixty
years after the death of Alexander the Great. All that goes before that
is guesswork, and computation by generations, and other contrivances,
not the testimony of contemporary records.
"The Sedar Olam, therefore, may be called as a witness, and it is not to
be ruled out of court by any objection raised by the Greeks, but it must
be called as a witness only, not as arbitrator or Judge."
In another connection Anstey gives us the facts concerning the
insecurity of the chronology which is based upon Greek and Roman
history. He also calls our attention to the way in which the present era
was begun. All of the facts lead one to the conclsion that one cannot
depend upon the present scheme as it has been worked out and given to
us. Mr. Anstey's summary of the situation is very enlightening.
"It is through the Greeks that we have received our knowledge of the
history of the great Empires and civilizations of the East. Even
sonchoniathon and Berosus and Manetho, have all come to us through the
Greeks. It was the Greeks who created the framework of the Chronology of
the civilized ages of the past, and fitted into it all the facts of
history, which have reached us through them. Apart from the Bible, the
vague floating national traditions of the Persians and the later Jews,
and the direct results of modern explora-
tion, all our chronological knowledge reaches us through Greek
spectacles. Here as everywhere else it is 'thy sons O Zion against thy
sons, O Greece' (Zech. 9:13). It is Nehemiah and Daniel against Ptolemy
and Eratosthenes. It is Hebraic Chronology against Hellenic Chronology.
And here the Greek has stolen a march upon the Hebrew, for he has stolen
his Old Testament and forced his own Greek Chronology into the Hebrew
record, Hellenizing the ages of the Hebrew Patriarchs in the Greek LXX.
"Are we then to accept the testimony of the Greek as correcting or
antiquating the testimony of the Hebrew? By no means. Let the Greek be
heard as a witness, but let him not presume to pronounce sentence as a
Judge. Clinton's Fasti Hellenici is perhaps the most valuable treatise
on Chronology ever produced. But it is not infallible. Clinton's
standard is Ptolemy's Canon; Sayce's standard is the Monuments. But
neither of these sources is competent to correct the Hebrew Old
Testament, which must be placed in the witness-box alongside of them,
not in the dock, to be sentenced by them.
"To begin at the beginning, the point of departure for Greek Chronology,
the 1st Olympiad, B.C. 776, upon which everything else depends, rests
upon no firmer foundation than that of tradition and computation by
"The opening sentence of Clinton's Tables reveals the basis upon which
he builds. He says: 'The first Olympiad is placed by Censorinus in the
1014th year before the Consulship of Ulpius and Pontianus, A.D. 238 =
B.C. 776. Solinus attests that the 207th Olympiad fell within the
Consulship of Gallus and Verannius. These were Consuls A.D. 49, and if
the 207th Games were celebrated in July, A.D. 49, 206 Olympiads, or 824
years had elapsed, and the first games were celebrated in July, 776.'
"But Censorinus wrote his De Die Natali, A.D. 238, and Solinus also
belongs to the 3rd Century A.D. They are not, therefore, contemporary
witnesses, and we do not know how far their computations were derived
from hypothesis and conjecture, or how far they rest upon a basis of
objective fact. Nevertheless, this point has been made the first link in
the chain of the centuries, a chain flung out to float in the air, or
attached, not to the solid staple of fixed fact, but only to the rotten
ring of computation and conjecture. The Canon of Ptolemy rests upon this
calculation. Eusebius (A.D. 264-349) adopted it, and set the example of
making Scripture dates fit into the years of the Greek Era. Eusebius is
based upon Manetho (3rd Century B.C.), Berosus (3rd Century B.C.),
Abydenus (2nd Century B.C.), Polyhister (1st Century B.C.), Josephus
(A.D. 37-103), Cephalion (1st Century A.D.), Africanus (3rd Century
B.C.), and other sources now lost. Eusebius' Chronology was contained in
his 'Chronicon.' This was translated by Jerome, and has been followed by
all subsequent writers down to the present day.
"The one infallible connecting link between sacred and profane
Chronology is given in Jeremiah 25:1. 'The fourth year of Jehoiakim,
which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar.' If the events of history
had been numbered forward from this point to the birth of Christ, or
back from Christ to it, we should have had a perfectly complete and
satisfactory Chronology. But they were not. The distance between the 1st
year of Nebuchadnezzar and the birth of Christ was not known. It has
been fixed by conjecture, with the assistance of Ptolemy. Clinton fixes
it at B.C. 606, Sayce at B.C. 604, and from this date, thus fixed,
Chronologers reckon back to Adam and on to Christ. The distance between
the 1st year of Nebuchadnezzar and the birth of Christ has not been
measured by the annals or chronicles of any well-attested dated events.
It was originally fixed by Ptolemy, by means of computation and
conjecture, and recorded events have been fitted into the interval by
computing Chronologers as far as the fictitious framework would allow.
"The opening sentence of Sir Isaac Newton's Introduction to his Short
Chronicle from the first memory of things in Europe to the Conquest of
Persia by Alexander the Great shows how entirely fluid and indeterminate
were those first years of Grecian history.
"'The Greek Antiquities,' says Newton, 'are full of poetic fictions,
because the Greeks wrote nothing in prose before the conquest of Asia by
Cyrus the Persian.' "The uncertainty as to the epoch of the foundation
of Rome and the Era which dates from that event, is just as great as the
uncertainty as to the beginnings of the history of Greece. The following
is a list of the dates that have been sonctioned by various writers:--
"Varro, Tacitus, Plutarch, Dion, Aulus Gellius, Censorinus, etc
Cato, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Solinus, Eusebius, etc........
Livy, Cicero, Pliny, and Velie ius
Paterculus..................................753 or 752 B.C.
Fabius Pictor and Diodorus
Siculus................................................ 747 B.
C. L. Cincius
A margin of 25 years.
"These uncertainties in Greek and Roman Chronology, and the late and
purely conjectural character of the foundation upon which they rest,
show how impossible it is for us to erect the Chronology of the classic
literature of Greece and Rome into a standard by which to correct the
Chronology of the Hebrew Old Testament. "Nearly all the great Empires of
the East seem to have thrown the origin of their dated history back into
the 8th Century.
"Babylon (Nabonassarean Era)................................ 747 B.C.
Greece (1st Olympiad)............................................. 776
Rome (Foundation of the City)................................ 753 B.C.
China. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... . . . . . . . .
Media. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. ... 711
"It may be of interest to add the following remarks respecting the
origin of the Vulgar Christian Era:--
"It was not until the year A.D. 532 that the Christian Era was invented
by Dionysius Exiguus, a Scythian by birth, and a Roman Abbot. He
flourished in the reign of Justinian (A.D. 527-565). He was unwilling to
connect his cycles of dates with the era of the impious tyrant and
persecutor Diocletian, which began with the year A.D. 284, but chose
rather to date the times of the years from the incarnation of our Lord
Jesus Christ 'to the end that the commencement of our hope might be
better known to us and that the cause of man's restoration, namely, our
Redeemer's passion, might appear with clearer evidence.' The year
following that in which Dionysius Exiguus wrote these words to Bishop
Petronius was the year 248 of the Diocletian Era. Hence the new Era of
the Incarnation as it was then reckoned was 284 + 248 = A.D. 532.
Dionysius abhorred the memory of Diocletian with good reasons, for in
the 1st year of his reign, from which the Diocletian Era begins, he
caused a number of Christians who were celebrating Holy Communion in a
cave to be buried alive there. The Diocletian Era was, from this fact,
sometimes called the Era of the Martyrs.
"Dionysius reckoned the year of our Lord's birth to be the year A.U.C.
753, according to Varro's computation, i.e., the year 45 of the Julian
Era. Dionysius obtained this date from Luke's statements that 'John the
Baptist began his ministry in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius,'
and that 'Jesus was beginning to be about 30 years of age' (Luke
3:1-23). Tiberius succeeded Augustus, August 19th, A.U.C. 767. Therefore
his 15th year was
A.U.C. 782. Subtract the assumed year of the Nativity, 753, and the
remainder is 29 years complete or 30 current.
"But according to Matthew, Christ was born before the death of Herod,
that is, according to the computation of the Chronologers, before 749.
Hence the year of the Incarnation, the year A.D. 1, was fixed four years
too late, and to remedy this we have to express the true date of our
Lord's birth by saying that He was born B.C. 4. It was subsequently
discovered that the source of the error lay, not with the Evangelists,
Matthew or Luke, but in the fact that Tiberius began to reign as
colleague or partner with Augustus some years before Augustus died, and
that the length of his reign after Augustus' death was not 26 years, but
22. In this way the difficulties were cleared up. The Era of the
Incarnation was allowed to remain and the birth of Christ was set down
as having occurred in the year B.C. 4."
The accepted chronology contradicts many of the outstanding facts which
are clearly set forth in various writers during the period 480-340
B.C.E. It creates more problems than it solves; in fact, it unravels
none but makes many difficulties which otherwise would never appear. It
necessitates the forcing upon the record strained and unnatural
meanings. We must, therefore, reject it and take our stand upon the
chronology which is afforded by the correct interpretation of Daniel's
inspired prophecy, and which was shown in the preceding chapter.
The evidence which has been presented in this chapter shows conclusively
that a most serious error has been made in the received chronology with
reference to the length of the Persian period. Insurmountable
difficulties have been discovered which prevent one's accepting this
system, that, as we have seen, is based upon speculation and assumption.
It is utterly impossible to square the known facts, presented in the
Scriptures, with this system of reckoning time.
The decree for the rebuilding of Jerusalem, announced by Gabriel, was
issued by Cyrus. He did this in 3589 A.H. Zerubbabel with his principal
associate, Joshua the High Priest, began the long trek homeward and the
work of rehabilitation.
Since the history of the Persian period is in such hopeless confusion,
one cannot rely upon it for material out of which to construct a
The time from 3589 A.H. must be reckoned by the seventy weeks of
Daniel's prophecy. From that year to the cutting off of King Messiah
were to be 483 years (inclusive reckoning). We take our stand upon the
infallible Word of God and are convinced that He came on scheduled time.
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