Tables of Reign Lengths From The Hebrew Court Recorders -- By: Rodger C. Young

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 48:2 (Jun 2005)
Article: Tables of Reign Lengths From The Hebrew Court Recorders
Author: Rodger C. Young


Tables of Reign Lengths From The
Hebrew Court Recorders

Rodger C. Young

Rodger Young resides at 1115 Basswood Lane, St. Louis, MO 63132.

I. Understanding The Tables

The tables at the end of this article summarize the results of my previous three papers dealing with the chronology of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel.1 These tables are meant to display the chronological data in a format that will make it easy for writers of Study Bibles or commentaries to incorporate the reign lengths and starting and ending years of the kings into their texts. The present paper avoids the various calculations that derived these dates (those calculations were done in the earlier papers) and seeks to focus on how to use the tables, and also on their importance for our understanding of the Scriptures and the doctrine of inspiration.

To use the tables, it may be helpful to review how the calendar of the Hebrews differs from our own. The Hebrew calendar was (and is) lunar-solar. Each month started with the new moon. Since twelve lunar months fall short of a full solar year, in some years a thirteenth month was added. In later years the formula was worked out with some exactitude as to when this should be done. The month that began near the spring equinox was called Nisan. The northern kingdom (Israel) considered the year to start in Nisan throughout its history, whereas for civil purposes Judah considered the year to start in the seventh month, Tishri, corresponding roughly to our October. The Scriptures often give the number of the month instead of the month's name, and when this is done the numbering always starts from Nisan, independently of whether the official year started in Nisan or Tishri.

In the tables, the expression "931n" is used to represent the year beginning on Nisan 1, 931 bc and ending the day before Nisan 1, 930 bc. This is the kind of year that would be used in the court records of the northern kingdom. "931t" represents the year beginning Tishri 1, 931 bc and ending the day before Tishri 1, 930 bc; this is the kind of year that would be used in Judah. The six-month overlap of these two dates is written as 931t/930n, meaning the time period that began on Tishri 1 of 931 bc and ended the day before Nisan 1 of 930 bc. The overlap of 932t and 931n is written 931n/931t. This method of expressing dates may be called the "Nisan/Tishri" notation.

In column 6 ("Years reigned") of the first two tables and in column 4 ("in") of tables 3 and 4 there is often a number followed by another number in parentheses. When this is the case, it means that the first number is...

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