[b-hebrew] Dates of Ezra and Nehemiah

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Sat Sep 16 20:26:08 EDT 2006

On 9/16/06, K Randolph wrote:

> Nehemiah 1:1 "in the month of Kislev of the 20th year" ... 20th year
> of what? When Nehemiah was 20 years old? The text does not say

By comparison of Neh 1:1 to Neh 2:1 it becomes very likely if not obvious
that "20th year" refers to Artaxerxes and not Nehemiah.  This becomes
even more likely when one compares other similar texts (such as Haggai
or Zechariah) where a convention of reference to royal years can be
discerned.  Further, those comparisons also make it clear that it is
unlikely that Nehemiah refers to Artaxerxes' birth year, since by comparison
we would have Darius at age 2, and that makes no sense.  Also, I think
I remember reading that Artaxerxes and other names were throne names
that were only adopted when the king first sat on the throne.  This would
make "Artaxerxes' 'birth' year" and Artaxerxes' regnal years essentially

> By having the seventy sevens start at about 415 BC, having the two shorter spans
> concurrent, makes for some difficulties, but at the same time clears up other
> difficulties. The seventieth seven fits the Jewish revolt of 66 AD.

Do you mean 425 BCE ? (415 BCE + 66 CE - 1 year zero which never was = 480)

> Difficulties are that it does not fit with what is known (or thought to be known)
> about  Persian history and it dates Jesus' life, death and resurrection
> significantly earlier than tradition.
> For those who don't believe that this is a prophecy, the whole thing is a tempest
> in a teapot, signifying nothing.

Since when is reconstructing history dependent on belief in prophecy?
Besides, do I have to be Christian to accept your reconstruction of

Compare for example the building of the Temple after the exile.  We can
reconstruct the various years during which Babylon attacked Judea.  We can
reconstruct the timeline of Darius I and how it fits with the various
accounts of
rebuilding the Temple.  We can do both of these independently of the prophecy
of 70 years exile, and only after this figure out where the 70 years
fall into this.
Belief in prophecy is not a condition for reconstructing history, much less so
when the text involved (Daniel) is a complex prophecy that is not clear on what
it refers to.

[responding to Liz]
> > Nehemiah was cupbearer to Artaxerxes I. While the date of Ezra is disputed,
> > the date of Nehemiah is not disputed due to the evidence from Elephantine.
> You put a lot of trust in that Elephantine document, while I don't.

So what? An Elephantine letter is not evidence but "belief in prophecy" is?

Yitzhak Sapir

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