Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Basic Bible Chronology


INTRODUCTION

For many years I've had great interest in Biblical Chronology. I like to read the Bible every year in chronological order because that is how my brain works. I love knowing when stuff happened and in what order. In fact, if you have never read the Bible like this I highly recommend it. The Old Testament prophecies just come to life when you read them in their historical context of the Kings & Chronicles.

Being also a science-math major, I was also extremely interested as to how the Bible fits into historic and scientific theories. I've learned to trust scripture primarily because it should be obvious to anyone that historic and scientific theories change every year. What was "fact" last year, may be relegated to the trash heap next year. But God's Word never changes.

I set out to figure out when the first man Adam was created. I've always noticed the BC dates given in the margins of many Study Bibles, but no one ever reveals how they know these dates to be correct, nor how they are determined. I'm going to show you!


BIBLE & REGULAR HISTORY

There are 4 places in scripture where Biblical dates cross with popular historical dates:

Biblical/Historical Crossover Table
  1. The 1st year of the reign of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar = 4th year of the reign of the Judean king Jehoiakim = The Battle of Carchemish (Jeremiah 25:1; Jeremiah 46:2).
  2. The 19th year of the reign of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar = 11th year of the reign of the Judean king Zedekiah = Destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon (Jeremiah 32:1; Jeremiah 52:12-14).
  3. The 1st year of the reign of the Babylonian king Evil-Merodoch = 37th year of Judean king Jeconiah's (Jehoiachin's) captivity in Babylon (2Kings 25:27; Jeremiah 52:31).
  4. The 15th year of Tiberius Caesar = 30th year of Jesus Christ (Luke 3:1; Luke 3:23).
Now, think of it. If we can establish how far Adam is from one of the above dates using the Bible, and then figure out when on our calendar one of the above dates happens, then we would be able to date on our calendar when Adam was created. This was an exciting idea to me! So I tried to do just that.


A SUMMARY OF BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGY

First we need to see if we can use just the Bible to reach one of the key crossover points listed above. A summarized Biblical chronology is listed here using AC (my own term, meaning After Creation):

  • 0 AC: Creation (Genesis 1:1)
  • 1656 AC: The Flood (derived by adding up the genealogical data of Genesis 5:1-32 and Genesis 7:6 and Genesis 11:10).

    DETAILS:
    - Seth born when Adam was 130: 0 + 130 = 130 AC
    - Enosh born when Seth was 105: 130 + 105 = 235 AC
    - Cainan born when Enosh was 90: 235 + 90 = 325 AC
    - Mahalalel born when Cainan was 70: 325 + 70 = 395 AC
    - Jared born when Mahalalel was 65: 395 + 65 = 460 AC
    - Enoch born when Jared was 162: 460 + 162 = 622 AC
    - Methuselah born when Enoch was 65: 624 + 65 = 687 AC
    - Lamech born when Methuselah was 187: 689 + 187 = 874 AC
    - Noah born when Lamech was 182: 876 + 182 = 1056
    - Flood happens when Noah was 600: 1056 + 600 = 1656 AC
  • 2083 AC: Abraham enters Canaan at age 75 (derived by adding the genealogical data of Genesis 11:10-32 and Genesis 12:4).

    DETAILS:
    - Arphaxad born 2 years after the Flood: 1656 + 2 = 1658 AC
    - Salah born when Arphaxad was 35: 1658 + 35 = 1693 AC
    - Eber born when Salah was 30: 1693 + 30 = 1723 AC
    - Peleg born when Eber was 34: 1723 + 34 = 1757 AC
    - Reu born when Peleg was 30: 1757 + 30 = 1787 AC
    - Serug born when Reu was 32: 1787 + 32 = 1819 AC
    - Nahor born when Serug was 30: 1819 + 30 = 1849 AC
    - Terah born when Nahor was 29: 1849 + 29 = 1878 AC
    - Abram (at 75) left Haran when his father Terah died (at age 205): 1878 + 205 = 2083 AC
  • 2513 AC: The Exodus (2083 AC + 430 years; Genesis 12:10; Exodus 12:40; Galatians 3:17).
  • 2992 AC: Solomon's Temple started (2513 AC + 479 years; 1Kings 6:1; notice the ordinal number "480th", thus we only add 479 to get to the 480th year).
  • 3029 AC: End of Solomon's reign of 40 years; Kingdom of Israel splits in two (2992 AC - 3 years + 40 years; 1Kings 6:1; notice it is "the fourth year of Solomon's reign" thus the minus 3 to get to the 1st year; 1Kings 11:42 says, "Solomon reigned... forty years" thus the plus 40).
  • 3418 AC: Fall of Judah (destruction of the Temple & Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar; 3029 AC + 389 years; Ezekiel 4:4-6, we only add 389 and not 390 so we can reach the year of the Fall of Israel and not the year after, thus the +389).

Notice that at 3418 years after Creation is the same as #2 in our crossover table above (the destruction of Jerusalem in the 19th year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon).


CLAUDIUS PTOLEMY'S KING LIST

Concerning a fixed date on the secular calendar much astronomical data is available from ancient Babylonian records and other sources. Astronomical events were very important to most ancient peoples because they worshiped the heavenly bodies. So they meticulously recorded things like lunar and solar eclipses and planetary motion through the stars.

I discovered that ancient kings' reigns are determined mainly by a single man, an astronomer by the name of Claudius Ptolemy. He lived around AD 90-168 and published a work called the Almagest. In the back of this publication is a list of kings and their lengths of reigns (no dates). He gives no details or references for why he assigns these numbers to these kings (which is really bad), but just a bare list; a king name and a length of years of his reign. Even though his list is just a list, archaeologists and historians have learned to depend on it because it seems to keep coming up as very accurate though, not indisputable. This list is the primary source for ancient kings and the length of their reigns for all published dates of ancient history in textbooks and Study Bibles! Ptolemy's King List shows kings from the first Babylonian king to the last Roman Caesar before Ptolemy died. The whole list doesn't concern us at this moment, but merely a portion of it near when Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon as the Bible mentions:
  • Nabopolassar: 21 years
  • Nebuchadnezzar: 43 years
  • Evil-Marduk: 2 years
  • Neriglissar: 4 years
  • Nabonidus: 17 years [last Babylonian king]
  • Cyrus: 9 years [king of Media/Persia]
  • Cambyses: 8 years

ADAD-GUPPI STELE LUNAR ECLIPSE

Adad-Guppi Stela
Next, I discovered there were stelae found in Haran, some of which are the tomb inscriptions of a woman named Adad-guppi who is stated as being the mother of Nabonidus – the last king of Babylon (in agreement with Ptolemy as shown above). In one of the stelae it is stated a lunar eclipse occurred in the 5th year of Nabopolassar (king of Babylon). Claudius Ptolemy knew about this eclipse and calculated it to an absolute date of April 22, -620 (Julian calendar).

Immediately, if I trust this stele, I can perform a calculation. The Julian calendar date given as -620 is actually 621 BC on a regular calendar. This is because there is no 0 year on our calendar. For instance the next year after 1 BC is AD 1, not 0.

So, trusting Adad-Guppi's data, and Ptolemy's calculation:
  • 5th year of Nabopolassar = 621 BC
  • If Nabopolassar reigned 21 years, then he had 16 years to go before the accession year of Nebuchadnezzar.
  • Thus 621 BC + 16 =  605 BC
  • According to the Bible, the destruction of Jerusalem happened in the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar.
  • Thus 605 BC + 19 = 586 BC
  • According to the Bible, the destruction of Jerusalem happened 3418 years after the creation of Adam.
  • Thus 586 BC - 3418 = 4004 BC
But there's more confirmation.


VAT4956 & ABSOLUTE ASTRONOMICAL DATES

VAT4956
Being the suspicious character that I am, I wanted to find out how Ptolemy calculated that this particular lunar eclipse happened on April 22, -620 (Julian date). So I did my own investigation of the stele and its data. I really did... LOL! I won't go into the details, but it is remarkable. I used my own astronomy programs (RedShift & Dance of the Planets) and calculators to do the same. I was convinced Ptolemy wasn't just whistling Dixie.

Another important tablet was found. It is called VAT4956 (you can Google it). The astronomical data on it is of such meticulous detail that there is only one year (in millions) that such astronomical data could be true. That year is 568 BC. And on that tablet it mentions:
  • Nebuchadnezzar by name and says specifically it is his 37th year!
  • 9 measurements of moonrise & moonset
  • 5 conjunctions of moon & specific stars
  • 1 conjunction of Mercury & specific star
  • 2 conjunctions of Venus & specific star
  • 3 conjunctions of Mars & specific star
  • 1 conjunction of Jupiter & specific star
  • 1 conjunction of Saturn & specific star
 Thus, if this tablet is to be trusted, then:
  • 568 BC = 37th Year of Nebuchadnezzar
  • The destruction of Jerusalem happened in the 19th of Nebuchadnezzar.
  • 37 - 19 = 18 years before the date on this tablet.
  • 568 BC - 18 years = 586 BC
  • Again, according to the Bible, the destruction of Jerusalem happened 3418 years after the creation of Adam.
  • Thus 586 BC - 3418 = 4004 BC.
This tablet agrees with the Adad-Guppi data and Ptolemy as well.


A CONFIRMATION OF PTOLEMY'S KING LIST

BM33066
To further verify, another cuneiform tablet was found (called by 3 different names: Strm Kambys 400LBAT 1477 or BM 33066). The astronomical data on it is of such meticulous detail that there is only one year (in millions) that such astronomical data could be true: 523 BC! The interpretation I studied of this tablet mentions:
  • It is the 7th year of a certain "king" (name not mentioned)
  • 2 lunar eclipses
  • Conjunction of Mercury & Venus
  • Conjunction of Saturn & Venus
  • Conjunction of Mars & Jupiter
  • Conjunction of Saturn & Jupiter
  • Conjunction of Venus & Jupiter
  • Conjunction of moon & Mercury
  • Conjunction of moon & Jupiter
  • Positions of Venus, Mars, Jupiter & Saturn to stars or constellations
Thus, if this tablet is to be trusted, let's see if this 7th year of a king fits with a 7th year of a king on Ptolemy's King List.
  • 523 BC = 7th Year of "king." 
  • Assume 568 BC = 37th Year of Nebuchadnezzar as shown in VAT4956
  • Ptolemy said Nebuchadnezzar reigned 43 years.
  • 43 - 37 = 6 more years to reign.
  • 588 BC + 6 = 562 BC would be the accession year of Evil-Marduk.
  • Ptolemy said Evil-Marduk reigned 2 years.
  • 562 BC + 2 = 560 BC would be the accession year of Neriglissar.
  • Ptolemy said Neriglissar reigned 4 years.
  • 560 BC + 4 = 556 BC would be the accession year of Nabonidus.
  • Ptolemy said Nabonidus reigned 17 years.
  • 556 BC + 17 = 539 BC would be the accession year of Cyrus.
  • Ptolemy said Cyrus reigned 9 years.
  • 539 BC + 9 = 530 BC would be the accession year of Cambyses.
  • At this point 530 BC is 530 BC - 523 BC = 7 years into the reign of Cambyses.
  • Thus, the "king" in whose 7th year is 523 BC is, according to Ptolemy's King List, Cambyses.

CONCLUSION

Let's plug BC dates in for each of the Bible Chronology dates we first derived above.
  • 0 AC: Creation = 4004 BC
  • 1656 AC: The Flood = 2348 BC
  • 2083 AC: Abraham enters Canaan at age 75 = 1921 BC
  • 2513 AC: The Exodus = 1491 BC
  • 2992 AC: Solomon's Temple started = 1012 BC
  • 3029 AC: Kingdom splits in two = 975 BC
  • 3418 AC: Destruction of the Temple & Jerusalem by Babylon = 586 BC
Thus, a straightforward reading of the Bible puts the creation of Adam in Genesis 1 at 4004 BC and will not allow for billions of years. God is the Eyewitness, and He told us the truth. There is no need to try to harmonize the beliefs of evolution and the popular Big Bang Theory of the origin of the Universe. These so-called scientific theories have their own serious problems without even worrying about their conflict with Scripture. So let's read God's own story of how He created all things and mankind and accept them. Life just gets easier that way, IMHO.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Ezekiel 28 - Was Satan the Anointed Cherub?

Traditional View

Traditionally, the passage of Ezekiel 28 is thought to refer to Satan. This is based mainly on two premises:
  1. Ezekiel 28:1 refers to the "prince of Tyre" whereas Ezekiel 28:11 refers to the "king of Tyre." It is said the "prince of Tyre" is a mere man because Ezekiel 28:2 says, "...yet you are a man", but Ezekiel 28:16 says the "king of Tyre" is a "covering cherub" and therefore is not a man but must be a heavenly being.

  2. Ezekiel 28:13 says the "king of Tyre" was "in Eden, the garden of God" and this cannot be said of any man alive at the time of Ezekiel's prophecy so therefore it must refer to Satan.
Thus, it is concluded by some, since the "king of Tyre" is a "cherub" and not specifically referred to as a man, and this being was "in Eden, the garden of God" and also wicked, it can be none other than Satan himself. Then after reaching this conclusion, the rest of the characteristics describing this king of Tyre are ascribed to Satan. This is how we end up with some of the traditional views of Satan.

A more-than-cursory study, however, will reveal there are many very good reasons to believe that the above interpretation is erroneous.


Satan as a Cherub?

The biblical description of a cherub is a very odd-looking creature and hard to imagine. Ezekiel himself describes cherubs (or cherubim as a plural in Hebrew) in Ezekiel 1:5-28 and 10:-5. There we see cherubs have the likeness of a man but have four faces (man, lion, ox & eagle), four wings (two above, two to cover their body), straight legs and calve's feet. They are burnished bronze in color, have hands under their wings and looked like burning coals of fire; like torches. Nowhere in scripture is Satan described in this manner. Instead Satan is always referred to the serpent, devil and dragon:
  • Genesis 3:1 - "serpent"
  • 2 Corinthians 11:3 - "the serpent [who] deceived Eve"
  • Revelation 12:9 - "the great dragon..., that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan"
  • Revelation 20:2 - "the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan"

Prince VS King

The Hebrew words translated "prince" (nagiyd) and "king" (melek) in Ezekiel 28:1 and 11 respectively are used interchangeably in many other places in scripture to refer to the same person. For instance, Saul is called nagiyd in 1 Samuel 10:1 and melek in 1 Samuel 12:1. So, just because two different words are used does not necessarily mean it is not the same person. Of course, it could simply refer to two men; one the prince and the other the king... exactly like it says.


Eden, the Garden of God

The phrase, "Eden, the garden of God" is used by the prophet Ezekiel in another prophecy. It is clear in that passage (Ezekiel 31) that taking this phrase as a literal reference to the garden of Eden in Genesis is a mistake. Instead it is a metaphor used to describe the nations of the world (God's garden called 'Eden') in which trees (nations; e.g. Assyria & Egypt) are planted by God and either flourish, making provision for trees around them, or are cut down (divine judgment) and left to die. Here are some examples:
  • Ezekiel 31:3-7 - Assyria is described as a tree: "Assyria was a cedar in Lebanon, with fine branches that shaded the forest, and of high stature; and its top was among the thick boughs...".
  • Ezekiel 31:8 - Other nations are described as trees: "The cedars in the garden of God could not hide it; the fir trees were not like its boughs, and the chestnut trees were not like its branches; no tree in the garden of God was like it in beauty".
  • Ezekiel 31:8 - Notice that Assyria and all other nations are located in "the garden of God".
  • Ezekiel 31:9 - This garden of God's is called "Eden" showing all other nations planted there: "I made it beautiful with a multitude of branches, so that all the trees of Eden envied it, that were in the garden of God".
  • Ezekiel 31:12 - The fall of Assyria is likened as a tree cut down: "...the most terrible of nations, have cut it down and left it; its branches have fallen on the mountains and in all the valleys; its boughs lie broken by all the rivers of the land; and all the peoples of the earth have gone from under its shadow and left it".
  • Ezekiel 31:16-18 - The nations that see the fall of Assyria are said to be trees of Eden: "I made the nations shake at the sound of its fall, when I cast it down to hell together with those who descend into the Pit; and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, were comforted in the depths of the earth. They also went down to hell with it, with those slain by the sword; and those who were its strong arm dwelt in its shadows among the nations. 'To which of the trees in Eden will you then be likened in glory and greatness? Yet you shall be brought down with the trees of Eden to the depths of the earth; you shall lie in the midst of the uncircumcised, with those slain by the sword. This is Pharaoh and all his multitude,' says the Lord GOD".
As can be easily seen, it is impossible to take the expression of "Eden, the garden of God" in Ezekiel 31 passage literally as referring to the Garden of Eden of Genesis. Assyria, nor Egypt were ever in the Garden of Eden of Genesis. The phrase is clearly a colorful metaphor used by God to describe the nations of the world and their flourishment or their demise.


Ezekiel Chronology

Another important characteristic of the Ezekiel 31 VS the Ezekiel 28 passage is that chronologically speaking, Ezekiel 31 was given before the prophecy of Ezekiel 28. The book of Ezekiel is not arranged in chronological order. However, the prophecies it contains are dated by the prophet himself and can therefore be arranged in order. Most scholars agree Ezekiel seemed to date his prophecies based on the year of Jehoiachin's Captivity because that is the same year in which Ezekiel himself was taken captive from Judah to Babylon. Ezekiel dates his prophecies in the following order:

PASSAGE TEXT DATE
(Jehoiachin's Captivity)
YY-MM-DD
DATE
(Historical)

NOTES

Ezekiel 1-7 "thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month" 05-04-05 592 BC This is thought to be the 30th yr of Ezekiel's life, but the 5th yr in Babylon.
Ezekiel 8-19 "sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth day of the month" 06-06-05 591 BC
Ezekiel 20-23 "seventh year, in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month" 07-05-10 590 BC
Ezekiel 24-25 "ninth year, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month" 09-10-10 588 BC
Ezekiel 29:1-16 "tenth year, in the tenth month, on the twelfth day of the month" 10-10-12 587 BC
Ezekiel 30:20 - 31:18 "eleventh year, in the first month, on the seventh day of the month" 11-01-07 586 BC
Ezekiel 26-28 "eleventh year, on the first day of the month" 11-05-01 586 BC Scholars agree this is the 5th month.
Ezekiel 33:21 - 39:29 "twelfth year of our captivity, in the tenth month, on the fifth day of the month" 12-10-15 585 BC
Ezekiel 32:1-16 "twelfth year, in the twelfth month, on the first day of the month" 12-12-01 585 BC
Ezekiel 32:17 - 33:20 "twelfth year, on the fifteenth day of the month" 12-12-15 585 BC Scholars agree this is the 12th month.
Ezekiel 40-48 "twenty-fifth year of our captivity, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was captured" 25-01-10 572 BC Scholars agree this is the 1st month
Ezekiel 29:17 - 30:19 "twenty-seventh year, in the first month, on the first day of the month" 27-01-01 570 BC

So the metaphorical use of "Eden, the garden of God" as given in Ezekiel 31 is established before the Ezekiel 28 prophecy is given, thus establishing the contextual precedence. In other words, God uses the phrase originally as an obvious metaphor and then immediately uses it again in Ezekiel 28. Why, therefore, would the original use of the phrase change from metaphor to literal? I don't believe it would.


Conclusion

The Ezekiel 28 passage is not referring to Satan at all. Instead it is referring metaphorically to the rulers of the actual city of Tyre in Ezekiel's day that was to be mostly conquered by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and finally finished off by Alexander the Great of Greece to complete the fulfilling of the prophecy. This helps expel many traditional beliefs about the spiritual being called "Satan."