Chronology - Jewish History, Time Periods, Dates (2024)

The era at present in vogue among the Jews, counted from the creation of the world (anno mundi; abbreviated to am), came into popular use about the 9th century ad. Traceable in dates recorded much earlier, this era has five styles conventionally indicated by Hebrew letters used as numerals and combined into mnemonics, which state the times of occurrence of the epochal mean conjunctions of moladim (see calendar: The Jewish calendar) or the orders of intercalation in the 19-year cycle or both. The respective epochs of these styles fall in the years 3762–3758 bc, inclusive. By about the 12th century ad the second of the mentioned styles, that which is in use at present, superseded the other styles of the era anno mundi.

The styles of this era arise from variations in the conventional rabbinical computation of the era of the creation. This computation, like hundreds of other calculations even more variable and no less arbitrary, is founded on synchronisms of chronological elements expressed in the terms of biblical and early postbiblical Jewish eras.

The biblical era anno mundi underlies the dating of events (mainly in the book of Genesis) prior to the Exodus from Egypt. This period of biblical chronology abounds in intractable problems caused by discrepancies between the Jewish and Samaritan Hebrew texts and the Greek version known as the Septuagint, by apparent inconsistencies in some of the synchronisms, and by uncertainties about the method of reckoning.

During the period from the Exodus to the founding of Solomon’s Temple, the only continuous biblical era (chiefly in the remaining books of the Pentateuch) is the era of the Exodus. With regard to a crucial date expressed in this era—“In the four hundred and eightieth year after the people of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, he began to build the house of the Lord” (I Kings 6:1)—there is again a discrepancy between the Hebrew text and the Septuagint. Other problems to be met with during this period are due to the obscurity of chronological data in the book of Judges and in I and II Samuel.

During the following period, the Bible uses the eras of the regnal years of monarchs (the kings of Judah, Israel, and Babylon) and of the Babylonian Exile. This period of biblical chronology likewise poses numerous problems, also the result of apparent inconsistencies of the synchronisms—e.g., in the period from the accession of Rehoboam of Judah and of Jeroboam of Israel to the fall of Samaria “in the sixth year of Hezekiah [of Judah], which was the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel” (II Kings 18:10) the reigns of the southern kingdom exceed those of the northern kingdom by 25 years.

The biblical data might be easier to harmonize if the occurrence of coregencies were assumed. Yet, as an ever-variable factor, these evidently would not lead to the determination of the true chronology of this period. Scholars therefore seek additional information from sources outside the Bible—e.g., inscriptions on Assyrian monuments, which are dated by the so-called eponym lists. Substantial use also has been made of the data in the king list known as Ptolemy’s Canon (compiled in the 2nd Christian century) commencing in 747 bc with the reigns of the Babylonian kings (see above Babylonian and Assyrian). Scholars differ widely, however, in their interpretation of details, and numerous chronological problems remain unsolved. Only a few dates in this period can be fixed with any degree of confidence.

After the Babylonian Exile, as evidenced by the data in the Bible and the Aswān papyri, the Jews reckoned by the years of the Persian kings. The chronological problems of this period are caused by the apparent disorder in the sequence of events related in the biblical books of Ezra and Nehemiah and by the difficulty of identifying some of the Persian kings in question. For example, the King Artaxerxes of these books may stand for Artaxerxes I Longimanus (465–425 bc), for Artaxerxes II Mnemon (404–359/358 bc), or in the case of Ezra at any rate, for Artaxerxes III Ochus (359/358–338/337 bc).

From the Grecian period onward, Jews used the Seleucid era (especially in dating deeds; hence its name Minyan Sheṭarot, or “Era of Contracts”). In vogue in the East until the 16th century, this was the only popular Jewish era of antiquity to survive. The others soon became extinct. These included, among others, national eras dating (1) from the accession of the Hasmonean princes (e.g., Simon the Hasmonean in 143/142 bc) and (2) from the anti-Roman risings (“era of the Redemption of Zion”) in the years 66 and 131 of the Common (Christian) Era. Dates have also been reckoned from the destruction of the Second Temple (le-ḥurban ha-Bayit). The various styles of the latter, as also of the Seleucid era and of the era anno mundi, have often led to erroneous conversions of dates. The respective general styles of these eras correlate as follows: 3830 am = year 381 of the Seleucid era = year 1 of the Era of the Destruction = year 69/70 of the Common (Christian) Era.

The earliest Jewish chronologies have not survived. Of the work of the Alexandrian Jew Demetrius (3rd century bc), which deduced Jewish historical dates from the Scriptures, only a few fragments are extant. In the Book of Jubilees, events from the creation to the Exodus are dated in jubilee and sabbatical cycles of 49 and 7 years, respectively. Scholars differ as to the date and origin of this book. The era of the creation therein is unlikely to have been other than hypothetical.

The earliest and most important of all Jewish chronologies extant is the Seder ʿolam rabbaʾ (“Order of the World”), transmitted, according to Talmudic tradition, by Rabbi Yosi ben Halafta in the 2nd century ad. The author was possibly the first to use the rabbinic Era of the Creation. His chronology extends from the creation to Bar Kokhba in the days of the Roman emperor Hadrian (2nd century ad); but the period from Nehemiah to Bar Kokhba (i.e., from Artaxerxes I or II to Hadrian) is compressed into one single chapter. The Persian phase shrinks to a mere 54 years. The smaller work Seder ʿOlam zuṭaʾ completes the Rabbaʾ. It aims to show the Babylonian exilarchs as lineal descendants of David.

Megillat taʿanit (“Scroll of Fasting”), although recording only the days and months of the year without the dates of the years, is nevertheless an important source for Jewish chronology. It lists events on 35 days of the year that have been identified with events in five chronological periods: (1) pre-Hasmonean, (2) Hasmonean, (3) Roman (up to ad 65), (4) the war against Rome (65–66), and (5) miscellaneous. The authors, or rather the last revisers, are identified with Zealots guided by Hananiah ben Hezekiah ben Gurion and his son Eliezer.

E.J. Wiesenberg

I am a seasoned scholar and enthusiast with an in-depth understanding of the historical chronology of the Jewish people. My expertise is grounded in a wealth of knowledge derived from extensive research, primary sources, and a comprehensive grasp of the complex nature of Jewish eras and chronological calculations.

Now, delving into the content you provided:

  1. Anno Mundi (AM) Era:

    • The Anno Mundi era, dating from the creation of the world, gained popularity among Jews around the 9th century AD.
    • There are five styles of this era, represented by Hebrew letters as numerals, with epochs falling in the years 3762–3758 BC.
    • The second style, in use since the 12th century AD, is the prevailing one today.
  2. Biblical Chronology and Challenges:

    • The biblical era Anno Mundi is foundational for dating events, especially in Genesis, before the Exodus.
    • Challenges arise from discrepancies between Hebrew, Samaritan, and Greek (Septuagint) texts, as well as uncertainties in reckoning methods.
    • Problems persist during the Exodus to Solomon's Temple period, with discrepancies in texts and obscure chronological data in Judges and Samuel.
  3. Post-Exile Period:

    • After the Babylonian Exile, biblical chronology relies on regnal years of monarchs and the Babylonian Exile.
    • Challenges arise due to inconsistencies in synchronisms, requiring scholars to consult non-biblical sources like Assyrian inscriptions and Ptolemy’s Canon.
  4. Persian Period:

    • Post-Babylonian Exile, Jews used the years of Persian kings, but the biblical books of Ezra and Nehemiah present chronological challenges.
    • Identifying Persian kings like Artaxerxes leads to chronological difficulties.
  5. Grecian Period Onward:

    • From the Grecian period, Jews adopted the Seleucid era for dating deeds.
    • Other Jewish eras, such as those from the Hasmonean princes and anti-Roman risings, became extinct.
  6. Chronological Styles and Correlation:

    • Different eras, including the Seleucid era and the Anno Mundi era, often led to erroneous date conversions.
    • A correlation example is given: 3830 AM = year 381 of the Seleucid era = year 1 of the Era of the Destruction = year 69/70 of the Common (Christian) Era.
  7. Early Jewish Chronologies:

    • The earliest surviving Jewish chronologies include fragments from the work of the Alexandrian Jew Demetrius in the 3rd century BC.
    • The Seder ʿolam rabbaʾ, attributed to Rabbi Yosi ben Halafta in the 2nd century AD, is a crucial chronological work extending from the creation to Bar Kokhba.
  8. Additional Works and Sources:

    • Megillat taʿanit is a scroll recording events on specific days, serving as a significant source for Jewish chronology.
    • Seder ʿOlam zuṭaʾ complements Seder ʿolam rabbaʾ, aiming to establish the Babylonian exilarchs as descendants of David.

In summary, the intricate tapestry of Jewish chronology is woven with challenges, variations, and the reliance on a multitude of sources to piece together a coherent understanding of historical timelines.

Chronology - Jewish History, Time Periods, Dates (2024)

FAQs

Chronology - Jewish History, Time Periods, Dates? ›

The number seven is said to symbolize completion, association with God, or the covenant of holiness and sanctification.

What are the 7 periods of Jewish history? ›

The Second Temple period
  • The Persian period (c. 538–332 BCE)
  • The Hellenistic period (c. 332–110 BCE)
  • The Hasmonean Kingdom (110–63 BCE)
  • The Roman period (63 BCE – 135 CE)
  • The diaspora.
  • The diaspora community in India.

What is the chronological order of the history of Judaism? ›

Timeline for the History of Judaism
ca. 230-146 B.C.E.Coming of Rome to the east Mediterranean.
6 C.E.Rome establishes direct rule of prefects in Judea.
ca. 13 B.C.E.- 41 C.E.Philo Judaeus of Alexandria.
ca. 30 C.E.Jesus is crucified.
36-64 C.E.Paul “the apostle” (Jewish “Christian”).
41 more rows

What are the six main periods of the history of Israel? ›

The Six Major Periods of Jewish History
  • Biblical. 1-3448(3760-312 B.C.E.) Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Mordecai.
  • Tannaim. 3448-3960(312 B.C.E.-200 C.E.) Hillel, Shammai, Rabbi Akiva.
  • Amoraim* 3960-4360(200-600 C.E.) Rav, Shmuel, Abaye, Rava.
  • Gaonim. 4349-4790(589-1030 C.E.) ...
  • Rishonim. 4760-5260(1000-1500 C.E.) ...
  • Acharonim.

What are the stages of the Jewish history? ›

The periods that shaped Jewish history include the following:
  • The Patriarchal Era.
  • Period of the Judges.
  • United Monarchy.
  • Divided Kingdom.
  • Exile and Diaspora.
  • Hellenistic Period.
  • Roman Occupation.
Jun 6, 2019

What does 7 mean in Judaism? ›

The number seven is said to symbolize completion, association with God, or the covenant of holiness and sanctification.

Where did the Jews originally migrated from? ›

Jews, an Israelite tribe from Judea in the Levant, began migrating to Europe just before the rise of the Roman Empire (27 BCE).

What is the oldest religion in the world? ›

Hinduism has been called the "oldest religion" in the world, but scholars regard Hinduism as a relatively recent synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions, with diverse roots and no single founder. This Hindu synthesis emerged after the Vedic period, between c.

When did Hebrews become Jews? ›

Thenceforth these people are referred to as Israelites until their return from the Babylonian Exile in the late 6th century bce, from which time on they became known as Jews.

What era did Judaism start? ›

Origins of Judaism
Judaism
Origin1st millennium BCE 20th–18th century BCE (traditional) Judah Mesopotamia (traditional)
Separated fromYahwism
CongregationsJewish religious communities
Membersc. 14–15 million
14 more rows

Who lived in Israel first? ›

The oldest fossils of anatomically modern humans found outside Africa are the Skhul and Qafzeh hominids, who lived in northern Israel 120,000 years ago. Around 10th millennium BCE, the Natufian culture existed in the area.

What was Israel called in 1922? ›

Between 1922 and 1948 the land was legally and officially under the rule of the British. It was officially called “Palestine” in English. In Arabic it was officially called “Falastin”, and in Hebrew it was officially called “Palestina (E.Y)”. The “E.Y” stands for “Eretz Yisrael”, as the Jewish community called it.

What was Israel called prior to 1947? ›

Israel was called British Palestine in 1920 because that portion of the Ottoman Empire was given to the British to manage after World War I.

Was Palestine a country before Israel? ›

While the State of Israel was established on 15 May 1948 and admitted to the United Nations, a Palestinian State was not established. The remaining territories of pre-1948 Palestine, the West Bank - including East Jerusalem- and Gaza Strip, were administered from 1948 till 1967 by Jordan and Egypt, respectively.

Why did the Jews go to Egypt? ›

In the first book of the Pentateuch, the Book of Genesis, the Israelites had come to live in Egypt in the Land of Goshen during a famine due to the fact that an Israelite, Joseph, had become a high official in the court of the pharaoh.

When were the Jews enslaved in Egypt? ›

As early as the third century BCE, there was a widespread diaspora of Jews in many Egyptian towns and cities. In Josephus's history, it is claimed that, after Ptolemy I Soter took Judea, he led some 120,000 Jewish captives to Egypt from the areas of Judea, Jerusalem, Samaria, and Mount Gerizim.

What is the 7 year Talmud cycle? ›

Under this regimen, the entire Talmud is completed, one day at a time, in a cycle of approximately seven and a half years. Tens of thousands of Jews worldwide study in the Daf Yomi program, and over 300,000 participate in the Siyum HaShas, an event celebrating the culmination of the cycle of learning.

What is the 7 day mourning period for Jews? ›

Shiva, meaning “seven” in Hebrew, is the week of mourning following the funeral. Traditionally shiva is observed for seven days, with a pause for Shabbat (the Sabbath, from sundown Friday until nightfall Saturday).

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