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Written by: Camping, Harold    Posted on: 05/06/2003

Category: Bible Studies

Source: CCN

                      THE BIBLICAL CALENDAR



                        by Harold Camping

                A Chronological Record of Events                   According to the Holy Bible

                      FAMILY STATIONS, INC.                       290 Hegenberger Road                   Oakland, California  94621

                        TABLE OF CONTENTS

<0>  Introduction <1>  The Clue Phrase "Called His Name' <2>  An Ancient Calendar <3>  Calendar Confirmation from Egypt <4>  Aaron's was the Fourth Generation <5>  The First Civilization <6>  The Confusion of Tongues <7>  Egypt Becomes a Great Civilzation <8>  Writing and the Tower of Babel <9>  Conclusion <10>  A Calendar of Events in Biblical History           Events           The Chronological Sequence During the Egyptian Sojourn           Historical Timetable of Pharaohs and Dynasties           Chronology of the Judges           Israel Chronology           Note on Oppression by Heathen Power           Chronological Table of the Kings of the Divided Kingdom <11>  References


.    Chapters 5  and 11  of the  book of  Genesis have  long been a seemingly  insurmountable  obstacle  to  students  of  the  Bible.  Inasmuch as they begin with  Adam and end with Abraham,  they have their  roots in  creation and  their outreach  into the era of the great civilizations of Babylon and Egypt, which flourished  during Abraham's  day. They therefore tantalize the scholar who is trying to reconstruct past history.  Unfortunately, because a solution to an understanding of  these chapters has not  been forthcoming, the events  embraced within their scope -- creation, the  fall of man, the Noachian  flood -- are likewise often  looked upon as accounts impervious to clear understanding. .     Bishop  Ussher's  attempt  to  understand  these chronological notices has  only worsened  matters.  His  conclusions that Adam's date  was 4004  B.C., the  flood date  was 2349  B.C. and that the Israelites  spent  215  years  in  Egypt,  agree  neither with the Biblical nor the secular evidence.

.    But these chapters of Genesis are  a part of the Word of  God, and therefore they must be  true and dependable. The question  is, can they be rightly understood?  I would be so  presumptuous as to suggest a solution  to these chronologies.  This  solution will be compared with some of the pertinent archaeological evidence.

The Clue Phrase "Called His Name"

.    In Genesis 4 and 5 we read of the birth of Enosh to Seth.  Why did God use different language in describing this event in Genesis 4 than  in Genesis 5?  In  Genesis 4 "Seth called  his name Enosh" (Gen. 4:26).  But in Chapter 5 the  Bible says," Seth begat Enosh" (Gen.5:6).  Why did God use the phrase "called  his name" (ASV) in connection  with Enosh's  birth in  Genesis 4  when He  did not in Genesis 5?  It is obvious that the phrase "Seth begat Enosh, " or "Methuselah  begat  Lamech,"  did  not  insure  that Enosh was the immediate son of Seth or Lamech or Methuselah.  Many instances can be  found where a father-son  relationship appears to be indicated and yet other Scriptural evidence points to more distant ancestry.  Matthew  1:1,, where  Jesus is  referred to  as the son David, and David, the son Abraham, is illustrative. .    A  more careful examination of  the Scriptures reveals why the phrase "called his name" which is  the Hebrew qara', was used.  In every place  where this phrase is employed,  there can be no doubt of  the  existing  relationship:  invariably  it  is indicative of parent  and  child.  Thus  the  Bible says, for example, "Abraham called  the  name  of  his  son...Isaac"  (Gen. 21:3), "...so they called  his name Esau" (Gen. 25:25),  "a virgin shall conceive and shall call his name Immanuel" (Isa. 7:14). In every instance where this  "clue" phrase appears  one may be  certain that an immediate son is being described and not a more remote descendant. 

.    God's use of this "clue" phrase thus assures one that Seth was the immediate son of Adam (Gen.  4:24), Enosh of Seth (Gen. 4:26), and Noah of his father, Lamech (Gen. 5:29).

.    But  what  about  the  rest  of  the  names appearing in these genealogies  under  discussion?  Two  are  decipherable.  Other Biblical evidence shows clearly that Shem was the immediate son of Noah, even though the phrase "called his name" is not used.(1) The Bible  shows, too, by other information that when Terah was 130 he became the father of Abram.(2) But in the case of all of the other names listed in  these chapters there  is no Biblical  evidence of any  kind that points to an immediate father-son relationship.  In fact, there is internal evidence within these accounts that points to other than immediate father-son relationships.(3)

An Ancient Calendar

.    In  further  reflection  upon  this  situation,  two  Biblical notices should be examined.  The first is that of Genesis 7 and 8, where the dates of the flood  events are referenced to the age  of Noah.  Thus Gen. 8:13 records, "in the six hundred and first year, in the first  month, the first day of  the month, the waters....," etc. Gen. 7:6  indicates to us that the six  hundred years was the age of Noah when the  flood came.  Could the calendars  of ancient peoples have been tied to the life spans of certain individuals?

.    The second notice  is that of  the New Testament  where Christ declared  "this  generation  will  not  pass  away until all these things take  place" (Matt.  24:34).  In  this reference  Christ is speaking of events that would  take place just before His  return.  He  is  therefore  insisting  "this  generation" would continue at least for  almost two thousand  years, for this  much time has now elapsed, and  all of  the events  of which  he was  prophesying in Matthew 24 have  not yet happened.  As  a matter of fact,  this is the generation of Jesus Christ.  This is 1981  A.D. -- the year of our Lord.  The  events of today are dated exactly  as they were in Noah's day, by reference to the birth day of a person.

.    Since  this method  of dating  events was  practiced in Noah's day, was  suggested by Jesus Himself, and  is actually the pratice use  today,  could  not  this  have  been  the method described in Genesis 5  and 11?  Isn't it  possible that  these accounts are a calendar giving the name of  the patriarch whose life span was the reference  point  at  his  period  or generation in history?  This would make abundant  sense, for this would  provide for continuity and clarity in historical reckoning.

Calendar Confirmation from Egypt

.    God gives additional evidence  to support this reasoning.  In Exodus 6 God gives genealogical information concerning some of the descendants of  Jacob. The information given  does not appear very meaningful to our present day  and age.  But hidden amongst  these verses are three numbers.  The first is found in verse 16 where it is stated that Levi's three sons were  Gershon, Kohath and Merari, and the years of Levi's  life were 137.  The second is in the next verse, where it says Kohath's four sons were Amram,  Ighar, Hebron and Uzziel, and the years of Kohath's life were 133.  The third is in verse 20, where it says Amram was married  to Jochebed ande she bore him Moses and Aaron, and the years of Amram's  life were 137.  At first reading,  it appears that Levi was the great grandfather, Kohath the grandfather, Amram  the father, and Moses and Aaron the sons.  But is this so?  There is no other Biblical  evidence that indicates this  is the case, and  there is no use  anywhere in the Bible of the  phrase "called his  name" in reference  to these men which would point to a immediate father-son relationship.  But why would God give the life spans of only three individuals amongst so many?

.    To  solve  this  puzzle,  let  us  assume God is giving us the calendar for the Israelitish  sojourn in Egypt.  One  might recall that Jacob came  to Egypt with  his sons including  Levi, and that the Israelites went out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses and Aaron.  Both Levi and Aaron are mentioned in Exodus 6 and  the age of Aaron at the time of Israel's departure from Egypt is given  as 83 (Exodus 7:7).  It can be shown from the Bibical references that when Levi  entered Egypt he was 60+3 years of age, with the burden of the evidence pointing to 60 years.  Since he died at the age of 137, he lived 77 years in Egypt.  If this is a calendar giving the names of the reference patriarchs  or generations, we would expect that Kohath  was a  descendant of  Levi and  was born  the year of Levi's death: that  Amram was a descendant of  Kohath, and that he was born the year  of Kohath's death. Aaron  in turn was born  the year of Amram's death, and  was descended from Amram.  Let  us add these time spans together: 

              Levi              77 years in Egypt               Kohath            137 years in Egypt               Amram            133 years in Egypt               Aaron              83 years in Egypt                                 430 years -- Total Time

Turning  now  to  the  Biblical  record, we discover the following interesting  information.  "Now  the  time  that  the children of Israel dwelt  in Egypt was four hundred  and thirty years.  And it came to pass at the end of four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came  to pass, that all the hosts  of Jehovah went out from the land of Egypt" (Ex. 12:40,41).

.    God thus shows us clearly that the calendar used to record the passage of time during the Egyptian sojourn was based on the lives of  Levi  and  his  descendants,  Kohath,  Amram  and Aaron.  This explains too the prophecy given to Abraham in Gen. 15:13-16, where he is told his descendants would be oppressed 400 years  in a land that was not theirs, and that they would return to their  own land in the fourth generation.

Aaron's was the Fourth Generation

.    I believe  that God in  His wonderful wisdom  has given us the key that unlocks the hitherto perplexing genealogies of Genesis  5 and 11.  These chapters are a calendar.  The time was divided into patriarchal  periods  or  generation,  even  as  the New Testament period  is the  generation of  Jesus Christ,  and as  the Egyptian sojourn was so divided.  Thus, for example, when Methuselah died, bringing to an end his generation, a man who was  born in the year of  Methuselah's  death  was  selected  to  be  the  next reigning patriarch, or at least the next man for calendar reference.  After Methuselah,  this  was  Lamech.  None  of  the  conditions  of his selection  are given,  except that  he had  to be  a descendant of Methuselah.  The Bible indicates that Methuselah was 187 years old when  he begat  Lamech: i.e.,  when he  was 187  the forefather of Lamech  was  born  to  Methuselah  (Gen.  5:25).  This  notice establishes  the  certainty  of  Lamech's  blood  descent  from Methuselah by  showing where his forefather tied  into the life of Methuselah.

.    The selection  of the  next patriarch  had to  include a birth date coinciding with Methuselah's death date to insure  a rational history.  Had he  been born one  or more years  earlier an overlap would  have occurred which would  have blurred history.  If Lamech had been born  one or more years kater  than Methuselah's death, a gap would have  occurred which have confused  history.  Therefore, when  a  citizen  of  the  world  of  that  day  spoke of an event occurring  in the  year Methuselah  950, only  one year in history answered to that date.  Again, if  he spoke of the year Lamech  2, only  one year  answered to  this date,  and he knew precisely how many years transpired from Methuselah 950 and Lamech 2.

.    At the beginning men were comparatively scarce.  Thus it seems apparent that when Adam died, there was no one born  that year who was qualified to  become the next reference  patriarch.  When Seth died  112  years  later  the  same  situation prevailed.  But when Enosh, the grandson of Adam, died 98 years after Seth, a child who was a  descendant of  Enosh was  born in  the same  year, and this child was eventually named as the  next reference patriarch.  this was Kenan.  Kenan's life  span thus became the  calendar reference for that  period of history.  The calendar was  continued in this fashion until Methuselah died and Lamech was born.

.    When Lamech was born he was  the one to whom the calendar  was referenced.  But his  descendant who was born the year of Lamech's death and  who should have  become the next  patriarch died in the flood.  This can easily be  known, for Lamech died 5  years before the flood  and only  Noah and  his immediate  family survived  the flood.  Noah, who  as an  immediate son  of Lamech,  of necessity became a  substitute calendar  reference, even  though he  was not born  the year of  Lamech's death.  Thus  the flood events are all dated by the life span of Noah (Gen. 7:6,11; Gen. 8:4,5,13,14).

.    When  Noah died 350 years after  the flood, the same situation prevailed that  existed when Adam died.  Few people lived upon the earth, and no  one met the conditions required  to become the next reference patriarch.  When Shem  died 152  years after  Noah, the child Arpachshad, a descendant of Shem, was born in the same  year and he became the next patriarch.  The calendar was then continued in this same fashion until Terah was born.

.    When  Terah  was  born  he  was  the reference patriarch.  But during his life span  God brought into being the  nation of Israel through  Terah's  immediate  son,  Abram.  Thus the descendant of Terah  who  was  born  the  year  of Terah's death was outside the Messianic line  and outside of God's  chronological purposes.  God effectively  had narrowed  men down  to the  family of Abram.  The normal method of calendar keeping was set aside in  the absence of patriarchs who qualified.  When Abraham died, no descendant of his was born the year of his  death.  When Isaac, the immediate son of Abraham,  died, the  same situation  prevailed.  This was repeated when Jacob, the  immediate son Isaac, died.  But  in the year that Levi, the immediate  son of Jacob  died, a descendant  of Levi was born  whose  name  was  Kohath,  and  he  apparently  met  the qualifications  of a  reference patriarch.  Thus he continued the calendar line  as we have seen.  Amram  followed Kohath, and Aaron followed  Amram.  Interestingly  it can  be shown  that in  a real sense Aaron's generation continued until Christ's began 1981 years ago.(6)

.    A chronology beginning with Adam may now be set forth.  To tie this genealogical  table to our  present calendar, synchronization between  the  Biblical  and  secular  histories  should  be found.  Because so much work  has been done in recent  times, particularly in relationship to the dating of the kings  of Israel, this can be done  rather readily.  Edwin R. Thiele, in his book The Mysterious Numbers of  the Hebrew Kings established the  date of the death of solomon  and the  division of  the kingdom  as 931  B.C.(7)  Since Solomon reigned 40  years (I Kings  11:42) and began  building the temple  in  the  fourth  year  of  his  reign  (I Kings 6:1), this building began  in the  year 967  B.C.  this  date in  turn can be related to the  exodus because in at least two  places God gives a time  bridge from the  exodus to the  building of the temple.  The first is recorded in  I Kings 6:1, where 480 years is indicated as the time span between these events.  The second can be shown from the chronology of the Hebrew judges.(8)

.    A time span of 480 years brings us to 1447 B.C. as the date of the Exodus.  If we work back from this date to Adam, we arrive at the date for Adam as 11013 B. C.  The key dates are as follows:

        Creation of Adam                  11013 B.C.         Seth born                          10883 B.C.         Enosh's generation            10778-9873 B.C.         Kenan's generation            9873-8963 B.C.         Mahalel's generation          8963-8068 B.C.         Jared's generation            8068-7106 B.C.         Enoch's generation            7106-6741 B.C.         Methuselah's generation        6741-5772 B.C.         Lamech born                        5772 B.C.         Noah born                          5990 B.C.         Flood                          4990-4989 B.C.         Arpachshad's generation        4488-4050 B.C.         Shelah's generarion            4050-3617 B.C.         Eber's generation              3617-3153 B.C.         Peleg's generarion            3153-2914 B.C.         Reu's generation              2914-2675 B.C.         Serug's generation            2675-2445 B.C.         Nahor's generation            2445-2297 B.C.         Terah born                          2297 B.C.         Abram born                          2167 B.C.         Isaac born                          2067 B.C.         Jacob born                          2007 B.C.         Entrance into Egypt                1877 B.C.         Exodus                              1447 B.C.         Foundation of temple laid            967 B.C.         Division of Kingdom                  931 B.C.

The First Civilization

.    The development of a  Biblical chronology beginning with  Adam is interesting, but will it  hold up when compared with  the known facts  of  secular  history?  To  ascertain  this,  the  earliest civilization of antiquity  will next be examined  to determine its location and the time of its emergence. 

.    The threshold of history appears to be located in  the area of the present nation of Iraq.  Albright writes:(9)

        Archaeological research  has established that there         is  no focus of civilization  in the earth that can         begin to compete in antiquity and activity with the         basin of the  Eastern Mediterranean and  the region         immediately to the east of it...The Obeidan is  the         earliest  clearly  defined  culture  of  Babylonia,         where we find its remains underlying nearly all the         oldest  cities of  the country,  such as  Ur, Erch,         Lagash,  Eridu,  etc.  This  proves  that  the         occupation of the marshlands of Babylonia by  human         settlers  came  rather  late  in  history  of  the         irrigation culture, probably not far from 3700 B.C.

.    Thus  the archaeological  evidence shows  that the location of the  first  civilization  after  the  flood was in the Mesopotamia Valley, and this agrees exactly with the Bible, for it reports the first cities were Babylon, Erech, Nineveh, etc. (Gen. 10:10, 11).

.    The  date  of  3700  B.C.  suggested by Albright is apparently satisfactory to most  archaeologists.  M. B. Rowton writes that in Uruk,  one  of  the  most  ancient Mesopotamia sites, the earliest level of  monumental buildings is that of  the level known as Uruk V.  He concludes,(10)  "the beginning of  Uruk V can  plausibly be dated 3500 B.C."  These  dates of 3500 or 3700  B.C. are estimates arrived at by starting at  a more clearly defined historical point and  allowing  a  reasonable  period  of  time  for  each level of occupation  prior  to  this.  Thus,  the  archaeological evidence appears to  indicate that  prior to  about 3700  B.C. there was no substantial civilization began to be formed in the plains of Sumer in the land of Babylon, Erech, Ur, etc. .    How  does this time compare  with the Biblical chronology?  In Genesis 10 the  notice is given  that the first  building activity after the flood is that of Nimrod, the beginning of  whose kingdom was Babel,  Erech and  Accad, all  of them  in the  land of Shinar (Gen.  10:10).  But  when  did  Nimrod  come upon the scene?  His genealogical  descent  is  that  of  Noah, Ham, Cush, Nimrod (Gen. 10:1,6,8).  The Bible  offers no  timetable for  this side of the family  tree,  but  it  does  offer  precise information regarding another branch, that of Noah, Shem, Arpachshad and Shelah.  If the genealogical statements  of the Bible  are studied one  might note that very often two branches of the tree are offered.  One is that of  the descendants leading  eventually to Christ  and about which precise timetables are  given, as we have seen.  The second is the genealogical descent of that  side of the family which turned away from  God.  It can be shown that  the timetable of these two lines run roughly parallel.(11)

.    It thus  may be assumed that Ham  and Shem were contemporaries (they  obviously  were,  inasmuch  as  they  were  brothers), that Arpachshad  and Cush  were nearly  contemporaries, and that Shelah and Nimrod were probably men of the same period of history.  Thus, if  Shelah's date is  known, it may  be surmised that Nimrod's was close to the same date. 

.    Shela's date by  Biblical reckoning was  that of 4050  B.C. to 3617 B.C.  Nimrod then must have lived about this time.  The Bible would thus suggest a date  of about 3900 to 3617 for  the founding of the  great cities  of the  Mesopotamia Valley.  Thus the  date suggested by the  evidence of archaeology (3700-3500) accords very well with the Biblical statement. 

.    It is of  more than passing  interest in this  connection that the name Nimrod has  left its mark on the Mesopotamia Valley.  The great archaeologist George Rawlinson writes:(12)

        The  remarkable  ruin  generally  called  Ahkerhuf,         which lies  a little to the  south-west of Baghdad,         is known to many as the "Tel-Nimrod"; the great dam         across  the    Tigris  below    Mosul  is    the         `Suhr-el-Nimrud';  one of  the chief  of the buried         cities  in the same neighborhood is called `Nimrud'         simply;  and the name  of `Birs-Nimrud' attaches to         the grandest mass of ruins in the lower country.

The Confusion of Tongues

.    The  next  bit  of  history  that  should  be  interesting  to investigate  is the  event of  the tower  of Babel.  Is there any secular evidence that relates to the  account of this confusion of tongues as set forth in Gensis 11?  There is, indeed.

.    It might first of all be noted that  the account of Genesis 11 indicates that prior  to this time  in history all  men spoke  one language.  Moreover,  the leading  civilization was  that of these people  who dwelt in the plains  of Shinar or Sumer.  Their desire to  be  the  one  great  civilization  of  the  world prompted the building  of  this  great  tower,  which  in turn brought on God's interference with their plans so that they were forced to separate into various nations.

.    As has already been shown, the first great civilization of the world as revealed by secular evidence was  that which sprang forth in  the  Mesopotamia  Valley.  The  time  of the beginning of the second  important  civilization  of  antiquity  could  be  of real significance.  Presumably, it would  have begun very shortly after the tower of Babel.  The event of the  tower of Babel can be known to  have occurred during  the generaton of 

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