When Did Solomon Die? -- By: Rodger C. Young
JETS 46:4 (December 2003) p. 589
When Did Solomon Die?
[Rodger Young resides at 1115 Basswood Lane, St. Louis, MO 63132.]
The work of Edwin Thiele has become the starting place for all subsequent studies of OT chronology that take seriously the text of the Hebrew Scriptures as preserved in the Masoretic tradition.1 It is to be lamented that Thiele’s original working hypothesis, that the text as received was without factual error when referring to these “mysterious numbers,” was abandoned when he was unable to reconcile certain data related to the reign of Hezekiah. It was therefore left to later scholars to point out that the problems that led Thiele to reject the authenticity of the biblical synchronisms for the time of Hezekiah could be overcome by positing a coregency of Hezekiah and Ahaz, under which Hezekiah’s sole reign began in 716 or 715 BC.2
Any study which is faithful to the text of Kings and Chronicles must be solidly based on an understanding of certain fundamental questions that must be addressed. Thiele presented these questions as five variables.3 They are: (1) Were the king’s years counted according to the accession system, in which the year he came to the throne was his “accession” or zero year, and was thus not counted in the total years for his reign, or was the non-accession system in use, whereby that first partial year was counted in the sum? (2) In which month was the year considered to begin? (3) When reference is made to the years of a king in the rival kingdom, does such a reference reckon the time of reign according to the system of the rival kingdom, or according to the system used in the writer’s homeland? (4) Is a coregency involved? (5) Did the same method of chronological procedure continue without change during the period in question?
Thiele resolved these issues to his satisfaction as follows. (1) For the first few kings, Judah applied accession reckoning and Israel non-accession reckoning for their own kings. (2) Judah always began its regnal years in Tishri
JETS 46:4 (December 2003) p. 590
(the fall), while Israel always began its regnal years in Nisan (the spring). (3) Regarding references from one kingdom to another, Thiele wrote that “both Judah and Israel used their own systems for the years of the neighboring kings.”4
Regarding item (4), a careful study of the dates given requires coregencies for certain kings. For item (5), the scriptural data requires and even signals that a change in reckon...
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