[b-hebrew] Daniel

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Mon Sep 4 08:39:59 EDT 2006

Dear Harold,

The so-called "Jewish" counting of the years since creation was calculated 
by a group of rabbis sometime during the early Middle Ages, and is recorded 
in "Seder Olam Rabba". As I'm sure you know, such a count is not referenced 
either in the Bible or in post-biblical literature, including the Talmud. 
Jews were perfectly content to use whatever "civil" year-count was used by 
the country they were living in: during the Israelite monarchy it was the 
reigning king. The two notable exceptions are 1 Kings 6:4, in which the 
building of the Temple is dated to the Exodus, and several places in 
Jeremiah, Daniel etc., in which years of the Exile are counted. My guess was 
that as long as the "civil" calendar had no religious significance, it did 
not bother the Jews, but after Christians started counting "years of our 
lord" (Anno Dominii) and Muslims by the Hegira, Jews felt that they needed 
their own "absolute" calendar, which would be MORE absolute than the 
gentiles', and so they "back-calculated" when creation was supposed to have 
occurred. As long as they were using biblical material as a source they were 
okay, but as soon as they got to the early Second Temple period they lost 
count - there were just too many kings, who were not recorded in Jewish 
sources. For example, Cambyses, son of Cyrus the Great. Also, they were not 
aware that there had been 3 kings named Darius and 3 named Artaxerxes. And 
so the whole Persian Period was "condensed" into just one generation, 
instead of over 200 years.

So there is no way that the dates Shoshanna has been citing can match up 
with the dates in any history book that you are ever going to read.

Yigal Levin

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Harold Holmyard" <hholmyard at ont.com>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Monday, September 04, 2006 12:23 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Daniel

> Dear Shoshanna,
>> From my sources (Artscroll, Judaica Press, Rashi, etc.)
>>The beginning of Achashverosh's reign was 3393.
>>Achashverosh was the successor to Cyrus, toward the end of the 70
>>years of the Babylonian Exile (4 Century BCE) - Rashi.
> HH: The Babylonian Captivity started in 587 B.C, so it did not end in
> the 4th century BCE. That is too late.
>>Ibn Ezra also says that Achashverosh reigned after Cyrus during the
>>time of the Second Temple, but the Temple was still not built during
>>his reign, as is related in the book of Ezra (4:6).  Ibn Ezra
>>identifies Achashverosh with Artaxerxes, during whose reign the
>>construction of the Temple was suspended.  This follows the view of
>>the Sages, that this Achashverosh was the second monarch over the
>>united Persian Empire (ie; from the time that Persia united with
>>Media, which is from the death of Darius the Mede, who also reigned
>>over the Babylonian Empire).  According to them, the first king was
>>Cyrus, who sanctioned the rebuilding of the Second Temple, and he was
>>succeeded by this Achashverosh, who suspended its construction.
>>Ibn Ezra also conjectures that there was another Achashverosh among
>>the ancient kings of Persia who also reigned over Persia and Media.
>>However, he did not reign over other countries as did Achashverosh
>>II, the main character of the Book of Esther.  Therefore Scripture
>>states:  He was the Achashverosh who reigned, etc., one hundred
>>twenty-seven provinces.
>>The dates I have are from the creation of the world, year 1.  We are
>>now in the year 5766, so you can subtract.
> HH: Subtracting 3393 from 5766 gives a difference of 2373 years ago,
> which is only 367 B.C. Unless I counted wrong, that seems too late.
> Here's part of a Wikipedia article:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahasuerus
> Ahasuerus (Hebrew אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ, Standard Hebrew Aḥašveroš, Tiberian 
> Hebrew
> ʾĂḫašwērôš, commonly transliterated Achashverosh) is a name used several
> times in the Hebrew Bible and related legends and apocrypha. The name is
> generally thought to be equivalent to Xerxes, both being derived from
> the original Persian Khashayar-sha.
> ▪ The name of the king of Persia in the Book of Esther[1]. He is
> generally identified with Xerxes I[2] of Persia although several
> alternative identifications have been proposed. The Greek version of the
> Book of Esther refers to him as Artaxerxes and Josephus relates that
> this was the name by which he was known to the Greeks[3]. Similarly the
> Midrash of Esther Rabba, I, 3 identifies him as Artaxerxes.
> HH: Here's something on Xerxes I:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xerxes_I_of_Persia
> Xerxes I (Persian: خشایارشاه, 'Khashâyâr Shâh'), was a Persian Emperor
> (Shahanshah) (reigned 485–465 BC) of the Achaemenid dynasty. "Xerxēs" is
> the Greek transliteration of the Persian throne name Khashayarsha or
> Khashayar-shah, meaning "King of heroes". In the Book of Ezra and in
> Book of Esther, the Persian king Axašweroš (אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ) (Ahasuerus)
> probably corresponds to Xerxes I.
> Yours,
> Harold Holmyard
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