[b-hebrew] Daniel

Harold Holmyard hholmyard at ont.com
Mon Sep 4 07:53:52 EDT 2006

Dear Yigal,

>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.

HH: Thanks for the helpful perspective. But, Yigal, if these facts are 
known to the Jewish community, why does it continue to use the flawed 
dates? Or are these facts known to only part of the community?

Harold Holmyard

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