[b-hebrew] Chronology - was uncancellable meaning in hebrew verbs

James Read J.Read-2 at sms.ed.ac.uk
Sat Jul 4 11:01:30 EDT 2009

Sounds like good stuff. That's the kind of thing I've been meaning to  
look into for a long while.

What sources do you use for astronomical events such solar eclipses etc?

James Christian

Quoting Rolf Furuli <furuli at online.no>:

> Dear James,
> The subject is clearly relevant for BH; so it can be discussed on this list.
> We may start with the exile in Babylon. Daniel and the Chronicler say
> that Jerusalem was a desolate waste for a full 70 years, but this
> does not fit the Neo-Babylonian chronology. We should keep in mind
> that this chronology was fixed long before a single cuneiform tablet
> was unearthed - on the basis of the belief that the king list of the
> 2nd century astronomer Claudius Ptolemy was correct.
> In 1915 two German scholars (Neugebauer/Weidner) published an
> analysis of the astronomical Diary VAT 4956, which has more than 30
> positions of the moon and some planets in relation to particular
> stars. The tablet mentions year 37 of Nebuchadnezzar. This analysis
> showed that most of the positions fitted the year 568/67, and that
> was year 37 of Nebuchadnezzar II according to the chronology of
> Ptolemy.
> Before this, in 1892, another German scholar (Strassmaier) published
> the tablet Strm Kambys 400, which also has many astronomical
> positions, and which mentions year 7 of Cambyses, which according to
> Ptolemy would be 523/22. Comparing these two tablets with the Bible
> indicates that at least one of the three sources  give wrong
> information. The tablets allow for only about 50 years for the exile,
> while the Bible has 70. The usual way to proceed has been, 1) either
> to reject the witness of the Bible, or 2) to try to reinterpret the
> texts of the Bible.
> I approached the issue from a different angle. I made a careful
> analysis of the passages in the Bible, and found that they,
> linguistically speaking, were perfectly clear, and no one would have
> tried to give them an alternative interpretation if the person did
> not have a particular agenda. Then I started to look at the
> Babylonian evidence with fresh eyes. The very backbone of the
> Neo-Babylonian chronology is VAT 4956. Interestingly no one has
> published a new analysis of it since 1915 (Sachs/Hunger published an
> English translation and transliteration in 1988, but no analysis). I
> made digital photographs of this tablet in Berlin, and analyzed it
> sign for sign (about 600) from a philological, linguistic and
> astronomical point of view (87 pages with this analysis is found in
> one of my books). My conclusion is that the positions of the moon
> better fit the year 588/87 than 568/67, and that would fit the
> 70-year chronology.
> I have also visited the British Museum and read dated business
> tablets. And the dates of about 90 such tablets argues in favor of
> the view that the Neo-Babylonian Empire lasted longer than most
> scholars today believe. In one chapter I also discuss twelve persons
> that may have been kings in the Neo-Babylonian Empire, but are not
> mentioned by Ptolemy (the evidence for this is by no means
> conclusive, but should be considered). My conclusion, therefore, is
> that the cuneiform evidence does not definitely contradict a 70-year
> exile when Jerusalem was a desolate waste. But it is possible to
> interpret it in a way that conforms with Daniel and the Chronicler.
> Then to Assyria. As a matter of fact, the royal inscriptions of
> Assyria exaggerates the victories of the kings and by and large are
> propaganda. The books of kings on the other hand have a completely
> different quality. The kings of Judah down to Sidkia can be followed,
> and their years of reign are mentioned. The chronology of Judah is
> between 30 and 40 years longer than the chronology of Assyria, and
> the two chronologies cannot be conformed. And as usual when sources
> differ, the Bible is the looser; the Assyrian chronology is accepted
> and the Biblical chronology is rejected. When I made a thorough study
> of the situation, I found something that even makes the situation
> ridiculous and laughable: The Assyrian chronology hinges on the
> interpretation of one single datum!  Only astronomical information
> connected with a particular year of a particular king or official can
> be used to make an absolute chronology. Only once is such information
> available for Assyria; a solar eclipse is reported in the limmu (his
> one year as official) of Bur Sagale. This is viewed to be the solar
> eclipse of 15 June 763 B.C.E. However, there are at least 8 other
> solar eclipses that can fit the data. So, the Neo-Assyrian chronology
> has a very weak foundation, but most people are not aware of that.
> This was a sketch, and there are hundreds of other interesting
> details that can be used to question the traditional chronology.
> Best regards,
> Rolf Furuli
> University of Oslo
>> Hi Rolf,
>> That sounds interesting. Lately I've been interested in calendars
>> and chronology. Can you summarise what you've found in a short
>> email? It might make for an interesting discussion.
>> James Christian
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