[b-hebrew] Yitzchak: Daniel 9:25

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Thu Sep 7 05:26:19 EDT 2006

On 9/7/06, Shoshanna Walker wrote:

> http://www.ou.org/chagim/chanukah/timeline.htm
> So Rashi (and Gabriel) was using the Seder Olam dates:
> First Temple destroyed on Tisha B'av  422 or 423 BC (3338)
> Second Temple destroyed on Tisha B'Av  68 or 69 CE (3828)
> Shoshanna

There are no "Seder Olam dates" as opposed to "contemporary
dates" with which Rashi can play free.  As it is, Seder Olam
quotes R' Yose ben Rabbi in Avoda Zara 8b-9a who says that
"the Persian period while the Temple stood was 34 years, the
Greek period 180 years, the Hasmonean period 103 years, and
the Herodian period 103 years."  The first thing I notice is that
it quotes a reputedly early Amoraic source (3rd century CE).
Now, the second interesting thing is that it gets the Greek period
almost right, dating it to 316 BCE, as opposed to the true date of
330 BCE.  But the Persian period figure is ridiculous.  The main
thing such a ridiculous Persian period figure achieves is that the
total era of the Second Temple is 420 years.  But there were too
many Persian kings to fit in the 34 years of the Second Temple
"after rebuilding" along with the kings along with some 30-40
years "before rebuilding" (the last we hear of the Book of Kings is
that 37 years after the exile began the Babylonian king was still
in power).  Books such as Ezra are not oblivious to these Persian
kings: Ezra names Cyrus (1:1), Darius I (4:5), Xerxes (4:6),
Artaxerxes (4:7), Darius II (4:24).  These are named again in
Ezra 6:14-15 where it is apparent that Darius I of Ezra 6:14 is not
Darius II of Ezra 6:15.  Some 100 years separate the end of
Cyrus' reign and the beginning of Darius' reign.  Even if you
figure that the 34 years of the Persian period "while the Temple
stood" is from Darius II's reign, you are not going to fit the reigns
of the Persian kings into the exilic figure of 70 years, and not
into the 30 or so years that you have left after you subtract the
Babylonian period from those 70 years.  R' Yose was simply
wrong on his "34 years" figure.  The Persian period was over
500 years prior to his time and he had no reliable information
on the kings of that period.  On the other hand, he probably did
have somewhat accurate information about the Greek period
because he could date it almost accurate (still, a decade or two
off).  Since the "34 Persian years" is not historically based, and
yet it completes the mostly accurate Greek figure to a total of
420 years, it appears that R' Yose was interpreting Daniel's 490
years as to end at the destruction of the Temple and filling in
the unknown variable in the equation (the length of the Persian
period) with the number needed to make 490 years work out.

Note that your OU web page is also not exactly in line with R'
Yose's dates.  They end up being 1 year off when the Greek
period ends and the Hasmonean period begins.

Incidentally, these dates are known to be wrong based on
inscriptions written during the Persian period itself.  For some
examples available on the internet, see:


Another letter apparently mentions year 21 of Xerxes:

See also here, which mentions Darius I's 21st year:

Altogether these suggest at least 21 years for Darius (I), 21 years
for Xerxes, 14 years for Darius (II) and 38 years for Artaxerxes.
While these are only fragmentary glimpses at the evidence that is
available through the internet, they add up to 94 years which
already does not really work out with R' Yose's dates.

Yitzhak Sapir

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