[b-hebrew] Yigal: Seder Olam, was Daniel

Lisbeth S. Fried lizfried at umich.edu
Tue Sep 5 14:38:49 EDT 2006

Hi Yigal,
I agree with you completely. It is interesting to try to figure out where SO
got it's dates for the Persian period. Rashi states that every king had the
throne name Artaxerxes, so that Darius is Artaxerxes and so is Ahashueros
(Xerxes). Thus you have Ezra in the first month of the 7th year of
Artaxerxes following after the last month of the 6th year of Darius. Rashi
assumes these refer to the same man, and this is followed by SO.
Not to be picayune, there were actually 4 Artaxerxes (the King Arses also
took the throne name Artaxerxes (I discuss this in my book, pp. 144-5).
There may have been five. Darius III's murderer took that name for a month,
but I don't know if there actually was a throne to sit on at that point.
Best wishes for a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.
Liz Fried

> > Dear Harold,
> >
> > The so-called "Jewish" counting of the years since creation was
> > 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
> > Jews were perfectly content to use whatever "civil" year-count was used
> > the country they were living in: during the Israelite monarchy it was
> > 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
> > not bother the Jews, but after Christians started counting "years of our
> > lord" (Anno Dominii) and Muslims by the Hegira, Jews felt that they
> > 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
> > 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.
> > 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
> >
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