[b-hebrew] First temple destroyed 586 or 587 BCE?

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Sat Sep 25 11:51:43 EDT 2004


Dear Liz,

The reason why I sent my first post was not to argue for a particular 
date or to defend the information of the Tanakh against other sources. 
But it was to point out two common methodological flaws in modern 
scholarship: 1) Scholars are too often chewing cud on the opinions of 
earlier scholars, who were chewing cud on the opinions of earlier 
scholars, and so on...instead of going to the sources, and 2) Scholars 
who defend a viewpoint or a theory too often look for, and use data that 
confirm their position and overlook contradictory data.  By following 
either of these points the real problems of a situation may be overlooked.

Applied to the exile we have the following situation as far as 
chronology is concerned:

There are only two astronomical diaries (cuneiform tablets with 
astronomical observations connected with particular regnal years of a 
king) by which an absolute chronology of the New Babylonian Empire and 
the first part of the Acheamenid Empire can can be constructed. The 
first one is Strm Cambys 400, which is connected with Kambyses' 7th year 
(traditionally 523 B.C.E.), and the second is VAT 4956, conneted with 
Nebuchadnezar's 37th year (traditionally568 B.C.E.). Many tablets, on 
the basis of which a relative chronology can be made, seem to confirm 
the chronology of the mentioned diaries, and this is the accepted 
chronology.  Less known (because nobody has systematically looked for 
them) are all the tablets that contradict the traditional chronology-but 
that is not my point here.

My point is that there is a third chronological source, namely the 
Tanakh, which must be dealt with, i.e., empirically this source exists, 
and a researcher must take a standpoint regarding this source in one way 
or another. Two passages dealing with the question are Daniel 9:2 and 2 
Chronicles 36:20, 21. If we treat these passages according to the normal 
rules of lexicon, grammar, and syntax, they say that Jerusalem and Juda 
was a desolate waste for a full 70 years, and the consequence of this is 
that one of the three sources must give wrong information.

The wrong way to handle this situation, though this is the rule rather 
than the exception, is to say: "Archaeology has shown that a 70-year 
desolation is impossible, so these words must be wrong". A scholar may, 
after a study of the data, reach the same conclusion, but to conclude 
before one has made a linguistic and philological analysis would be 
rather weak.  Few persons have made such a linguisitc study; if fact, I 
am only aware of one scholarly study with a linguistic analysis of the 
mentioned passages during the last fifty years. A balanced study will 
also include a linguistic and philological study of VAT 4956 and StrmKambys.

So what I am calling for are independent studies of the sources, 
particularly linguisitc ones, where scholars do not only follow the 
traditional and accepted viewpoints, but ask critical questions, and 
particularly look for contradictory evidence.

Best regards

Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo




Lisbeth S. Fried wrote:

>Dear All,
>I have argued for the date 586 for the destruction of the temple in
>an excursus on the Jubilee year in Milgrom's commentary on 
>Leviticus Part III that I wrote with Noel Freedman.
>I went into all the sources that I could, but I didn't re-evaluate P&D. 
>I am confident that the date is 586 based on cuneiform and biblical
>sources.
>In a separate article I suggest that the 70 years refers to the time 
>between the destruction of the temple in 586 and its dedication in 
>516. It should not be taken as a firm date however. Zechariah speaks
>of the 70 years of exile in the 2nd year of Darius and again in his
>fourth year.
>Best,
>Liz 
>
>Lisbeth S. Fried, Ph. D.
>Department of Near Eastern Studies
>University of Michigan
>2068 Frieze Bldg.
>105 S. State St.
>Ann Arbor, Michigan  48109-1285 
>וישובו איש תחת גפנו ותחת תאנתו ואין מחריד
>כי פי יהוה צבאות דבר
>
>
>  
>
>>-----Original Message-----
>>From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org [mailto:b-hebrew-
>>bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Yigal Levin
>>Sent: Thursday, September 23, 2004 5:51 PM
>>To: b-hebrew
>>Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] First temple destroyed 586 or 587 BCE?
>>
>>
>>----- Original Message -----
>>From: "Tony Costa" <tmcos at rogers.com>
>>To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
>>Sent: Thursday, September 23, 2004 10:35 PM
>>Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] First temple destroyed 586 or 587 BCE?
>>
>>
>>    
>>
>>>Dear Rolf, the 2nd Temple was rebuilt in 515 BCE. If we take 586/587 BCE
>>>      
>>>
>>as the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon to the rebuilding of the 2nd
>>Temple we have a figure of 70 years .
>>
>>
>>That's one way of looking at it. Another is that the 70 years began with
>>    
>>
>the
>  
>
>>exile of Jehoiachin (see Ezekiel 1:1-2), which was in 597, or even with
>>    
>>
>the
>  
>
>>death of Josiah in 609, which is 70 years before the conquest of Babylon
>>    
>>
>by
>  
>
>>Cyrus.
>>
>>(I actually agree with Tony)
>>
>>Yigal
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>The Temple and its function was integral to the city of Jerusalem, not
>>necessarily the city itself. Are there any scholars who hold to the
>>    
>>
>position
>  
>
>>you take that the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians occurred in 609 BCE
>>which I believe is the date you are proposing?
>>    
>>
>>>Tony Costa
>>>
>>>Rolf Furuli <furuli at online.no> wrote:
>>>
>>>I have not read this article, but I have done extensive research
>>>regarding the date of the fall of Jerusalem, and have published a
>>>thorough analysis of the biblical material. If we accept that Babylon
>>>was conquered by Cyrus in 539 B.C.E. and take the biblical passages
>>>dealing with the question at face value, I see no way to accept 587 as
>>>the date for the fall of Jerusalem. This date gives room for only 50
>>>years for the exile, but I cannot see how we can avoid accepting a 70
>>>year exile while Jerusalem was *a desolate waste* if we apply the
>>>normal use of lexicon, grammar and syntax to the pertinent biblical
>>>passages.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>Best regards
>>>
>>>Rolf Furuli
>>>
>>>University of Oslo
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>Tony Costa
>>>
>>>"But I do not consider my life of any account
>>>as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the
>>>ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify
>>>solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God." (Acts 20:24)
>>>_______________________________________________
>>>b-hebrew mailing list
>>>b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
>>>http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew
>>>
>>>
>>>      
>>>
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>>    
>>
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