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A book by Rich Van Winkle

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An Amazing Life: Jesus and the Nozerim

Appendix X – Chronology

(I'm only about 80% done with this, but am posting it for reference and comments.)

Where to Start?

A story must start somewhere. Some stories have obvious starting points and for others it just doesn’t matter. A story about Jesus could logically begin with his birth. But, as we shall see, determining something as basic as that is problematic when we’re looking backward over 2,000 years.

In this Appendix we will deal with the sequence and timing of events in Jesus’ life. For the most part, the story is more concerned with the sequence than the timing. But some of the events in the life of Jesus have important timing and for those events we want to spend extra effort to use reliable dating methods. Unfortunately, there are actually NO reliable dates during the life of Jesus. Don’t be misled by those who create elaborate schemes that appear to yield results accurate down to the minute (generally is relation to Jesus’ trial, death, and resurrection). To understand the reasons for this, we need some background and that is where we’ll start…

In the Beginning… – but when was that?

We keep track of dates using a handy thing called a “calendar”. Because most of us use the same calendar, it is easy to refer to dates as corresponding to when events happened. Odds are good that the calendar you use is the “Gregorian calendar”, named for Pope Gregory XIII. Prior to his update in 1582, the dominant calendar was the Julian version. The Gregorian calendar added leap years – that extra day in February – necessary to keep the calendar in synch with passage of days determined by our orbit around the sun. The Georgian calendar is synchronized with the solar year to within one day over a period of 3,300 years.

But wait. If we’re looking backwards at events that occurred before the Gregorian calendar even existed, how can we affix a date? If we use the Gregorian calendar we can all agree on a date even if that date occurs before the calendar’s inception[1]. But such dates will NOT coincide with a date taken from the Julian calendar. Any date recorded under the Julian system has to be adjusted to the Gregorian. (Unless otherwise noted, all dates given hereafter are Gregorian dates).

If only it were that simple. The Julian calendar (not surprisingly) originated with the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar. The early Romans numbered their years “ab urbe condita”, that is: "from the founding of the city" (abbreviated “a.u.c.”). In 48 BCE ("Before the Common Era", the proper way to note “B.C.” dates) Julius Caesar asked the Alexandrian (Egyptian) astronomer Sosigenes to redesign the calendar. Sosigenes made the remarkable decision to rely upon the earlier (generally unaccepted) work of the Alexandrian Aristarchus. He was the first person known to advocate a heliocentric[2] model of the “universe” and his calendar (from 239 BCE) consisted of a solar year of twelve months and 365 days with an extra day every fourth year[3]. The calendar which Julius Caesar adopted in the year 709 a.u.c. (what we now call 46 BCE) was identical to this calendar.

If only it were that simple. Sosigenes proposed that the year 46 BCE should have two intercalations: the first being a customary intercalation of 23 days following February 23 and a second "to bring the calendar in step with the equinoxes[4]”.  This extra insertion totaled 67 days and made the year beginning on the 1st of March, 45 BCE 445 days long[5]. OK, that would have been just fine, but then the Roman date-keepers misunderstood Caesar's instructions and made every third year (instead of 4th) to be a leap year. We don’t know which years from 43 BCE through to 8 CE were actually leap years.

If only it was just that complex. When the months were renamed as “Julius” (July) and “Augustus” (August), it was decided that August couldn’t have fewer days than July (after all, Augustus was equal to Julius), so a day was taken from February and added to August. There is still uncertainty regarding the timing of this change, so Julian dates prior to 4 CE (the "Common Era") are uncertain. But then there’s the whole matter of splitting the calendar into two parts: “A.D.” and “B.C.”[6] Around 527 CE, the Roman Abbot Dionysius Exiguus decided that the Incarnation of Jesus had occurred on March 25 in the year 754 a.u.c., with his birth occurring nine months later. The Julian calendar was reset so that 754 a.u.c. became 1 A.D. That might have been helpful except that his assumptions or computations were wrong.  We will return to that issue shortly.

Which Calendar Works Best?

The answer is that none of them work. Dates of events around the time of Jesus are almost never more than good guesses. Far too often, historians attempt to reconcile a date based upon correlation of events. If an ancient historian gives us an actual date using the contemporary calendar, we still can’t be certain how that date relates to the modern calendar(s) or to other ancient calendars[7].

Indeed, one of the big issues around the time of Jesus was which calendar should be used by the Jews – the ancient lunar calendar or the more modern and accurate solar calendar. With so many traditional events scheduled under lunar references, changing to something more accurate was difficult (we still use the lunar calendar to schedule Easter). In all, we have probably spent way too much time trying to reconcile or compute dates staring from conflicting event data, best-guess dating under ancient calendars, and then uncertain conversion to modern dates. But when you’re trying to figure out the birth date of Jesus or when the end-of-times will begin, dates have great significance.

A Significant Example:

Having a workable chronology is important for several reasons: proper historical context, correct sequencing, showing relationships between events, and presenting an accurate narrative are a few. In this chronology we are going to work hard at finding and using accurate dates, but acknowledge up front that we lack validation tools and sources to make this “scientific”. Since it is not the purpose of this work to thoroughly explore all the issues regarding dates in the life of Jesus, we will not be discussing each date’s derivation in detail. Instead, we will point to sources relied upon and overviews where needed.

However, it might be useful to show how we approached the determination of one date in the life of Jesus and to discuss why it was chosen and why it is different than that derived by others. That date is Jesus’ birthday.

We can start with some certainty that Jesus was not born on 25 December in the year 1 CE. When Dionysius Exiguus picked the Roman Year 754 as the year of Jesus’ birth, he was simply wrong. According to Matthew (2:1 and 2:16), King Herod I (“the Great”) was alive when Jesus was born, and he ordered the “Massacre of the Innocents” in response to Jesus’ birth. The Gospel of Luke [1:5] states that Jesus was conceived during the reign of Herod I and was born when Cyrenius (or Quirinius) was the governor of Syria. Luke adds that there was a correlation between the birth of Jesus and a census of Judaea (Luke 2:1-3). Finally, Matthew records a special star that appeared during the time of Jesus’ birth (2:1-4). With these events to correlate – periods of rule, census, and unusual appearance of a star – we should be able to narrow down or even determine the year of Jesus’ birth.

Herod was a Roman appointed king and we have historical record of his date of death – March or April of 4 BCE[8]. This date is based upon the record of Josephus (Jewish Roman historian) who places Herod’s death shortly after a lunar eclipse that occurred the evening following the execution of two prominent zealots (Judas and Matthias). Josephus does not give a year, but the context leads to a common belief that this particular eclipse was the one which took place on the 15th of Adar (the Hebrew calendar’s 12th month) in the year 750 a.u.c. That date corresponds to March 13, 4 BCE.

If the “Massacre of the Innocents” story is given weight then it is obvious that Jesus could not have been born later than 5 BCE and 6 BCE makes more sense. With that as a baseline, we can look to see whether the other events might align.

The census of Quirinius has long been an issue for biblical scholars and historians. The problem arises from this passage in the New Testament (“NT”):

In those days [after the birth of John the Baptist] a decree went out from Emperor Augustus [who ruled Rome from 27 BC until his death in AD 14] that all the world [oikoumene οκουμένη or the "inhabited world” = Roman Empire] should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. (Luke 2:1-7).

We might shrug this off as a mistake or an attempt to have Jesus’ birth fulfill a prophecy regarding the Messiah[9]. But there are those who continue to try and find a way to maintain the illusion of NT inerrancy. So, let’s take a moment and look at the facts and their argument.

Quirinius was not a major figure in Roman history, but the Romans keep pretty good records and we have many of them. Thus, we know quite a bit about Quirinius – personally and professionally. In 15 BCE, Augustus appointed him as governor with the rank of proconsul over the provinces of Crete and Cyrenaica (he was of the “equestrian class”). In 12 BCE, Augustus promoted him to “Consul[10]” (the highest elected or appointed office of the Romans below Emperor), a sign of his success and the favor he enjoyed. As Counsel, Quirinius was assigned as adviser to Caius Caesar (a nephew and adopted son of Augustus) while he was engaged in the Armenian Campaign against Parthia. During this time he secretly paid court to Tiberius despite friction between him and Caius. In 4 CE, Caius Caesar died of wounds received during the siege of Artagina (Armenia). Tiberius becameTiberius Caesar – in line to be Emperor[11].

Meanwhile, C. Sentius Saturninus held the office of “Legate[12]” to Syria[13] from 9 (or 8) BCE until the first half of the year 6 BCE. He was succeeded by P. Quinctilius Varus who continued until 3 BCE. It is uncertain who served as governor between 2 BCE and 1 CE, but there is evidence[14] that it was G. Calpurnius Piso. He was succeeded by Gaius Caesar (born Gaius Vipsanius Agrippa), along with Lucius Aemilius Paullus, who served together from 1 to 4 CE. Gaius was wounded during a campaign in Armenia (2 CE) and died two years later in Lycia. L. Volusius Saturninus then served until 6 CE[15]. With the banishment of Herod Archelaus in 6 CE, a new and different situation arose in the Syrian sub-province of Iudaean (which included  Samaria, Judea and Idumea).  Augustus made the sub-province into a new imperial procuratorial Province under direct Roman administration. He appointed Coponius as prefect of Iudaea at the same time Quirinius was appointed Legate of Syria. Josephus states that Quirinius was given the rank of “dikaiodotes”  (governor/judge) in the sense of one having extraordinary judicial powers[16]. The reason for this was the need to distribute the property of Herod and to assess the Iudean Province for taxation purposes[17] since its citizens would be paying taxes to Romans instead of Herod[18]. 

This leads us to the “census” and its issues. If the scenario above is correct, then Luke is incorrect. Luke is tightly boxed – his “registration” occurred “while Quirinius was governor of Syria”. Luke knew the difference between a governor and a procurator and specifically says “of Syria” not “in Syria”. Nevertheless, Christian “historians” suggest that Luke’s statement is true IF Quirinius ordered some type of census while working for the governor of Syria during the reign of Herod “the Great”. Although there is NO evidence of such, this idea is still presented as “historical”.

Here’s what we can say with some confidence. Augustus is known to have taken a census of Roman citizens at least three times:  in 28 BCE, in 8 BCE, and in 14 CE[19]. Some claim that the Romans took a census every 14 years, but there is no reliable historical indication of such. Basically, the Romans avoided both the cost and disruption of such a census unless some circumstance called for it. The census of Quirinius recorded in history and noted above is a good example in several regards: it was not a general Roman census and yet it was significant enough to be reported by Josephus, it was the result of a specific need under a special circumstance, and it caused a revolt. I would add that there were no similar “registrations” recorded during the Roman era for any independent kingship (such as Herod’s). It is inconceivable that the Romans would require such a census from a “client state” without the local ruler’s consent and involvement. If such a thing had happened during the reign of Herod, it would have been recorded in history as such by the Romans, the Jews, or both.

Some have suggested that Luke’s note that this was the “first registration” implies that there was another – and it was the other non-first census recorded to have happened in 6 CE. But we know that any census taken after 28 BCE could not be the “first” (as above), so either Luke is incorrect in this also or Quirinius was unrecorded as the governor of Syria and Jesus was much older than the other evidence suggests. In short, the Christian idea that Quirinius ordered a census of Judea during the reign of Herod lacks both historical support and rationality. But there is another problem with Luke’s testament: All went to their own towns to be registered. (Luke 2:1-7).

In what should now be apparent as a persistent problem, Christian historians have also re-written history in an attempt to make this “own town” statement fit. Aside from the fact that no other historian records any similar “registration”, we can question this statement on two obvious logical grounds: there is nothing to be gained by having people return to their “own town” and the disruption such a requirement would cause is unimaginable. Besides, there is the problem of determining what is one’s “own town”.  It is clearer here than anywhere that it is Luke’s intent to support the “Bethlehem” prophecy rather than offer history. We will take a moment to look at Roman census taking.

Firstly, we should understand that to the Romans the census – a census of Romans - was considered a foundation of their civilization: “It made them a populus, a people, capable of collective action”[20]. In early Roman times it was repeated every five years (a “lustrum”) in connection with religious gatherings. “The census of the Roman provinces, introduced much later, was quite distinct from this census of citizens, the difference corresponding to that between the Roman people as conqueror and the provinces as conquered. Since in this light the provincial census was designed to regulate not the rights but the obligations of those enumerated, it served only to define military service and tribute. The forms of the latter in the various provinces showed great diversity.” [21]

Records from Egypt have been cited as supporting a provincial census that requires people to return to their homelands. Specifically, an edict issued by Gaius Vibius Maximus, the Prefect of Egypt from 130-107 CE, declared:

“The census by household having begun, it is essential that all those who are away from their nomes be summoned to return to their own hearths so that they may perform the customary business of registration and apply themselves to the cultivation which concerns them.”[22]

While Christians have claimed that this edict proves that Luke’s “homeland census” is factual, it does nothing of the sort. The social and political situation in Egypt 100 years after the life of Jesus was hardly comparable to the reign of Herod I. The declaration by a calvary officer (later accused of having sexual relations with another Roman) is written in Greek (whereas Latin was the language of Roman officialdom) and is unclear about what “home” means or whether the return there is inherently linked to the “census”. It remains difficult to give weight to Christian arguments when they so frequently distort facts and extrapolate without reason. Ultimately, “there are no literary or epigraphic traces of an [such a] census in the time of Augustus, and such an event could not have occurred without leaving some traces.” (Schaff-Herzog, idib).

The New Testament helps us little in determining when Jesus was born. The astrological signs mentioned by Matthew (the “star of Bethlehem”)[23] have been used by some to help ascertain the time of Jesus’ birth, but this too seems more a fulfillment of expectation than a useful historical assertion. This “star” could have been the Comet Halley, but it was described in 6 or 12 BCE (Chinese): "The comet heads east with its tail pointing west at night (appearing in the sky for more than 70 days)". Christians have suggested this as an independent record of the "star of Bethlehem", but they fail to acknowledge the description itself and the failure to note that comets were considered bad omens. Others have suggested that a planetary conjunction (Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation of Pisces) of 15 September 7 BCE would have produced a notable sight similar to that reported in Matthew[24].

Lastly, it should be noted that there are two other useful clues that some scholars have built upon:  A statement in the Gospel of John (8:57) where Jesus’ critics say: "thou are not yet fifty years old" has been used to place Jesus’ birth as early as 18 BCE and two statements about Jesus’ age in Luke (“Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry” (Luke 3:23) and Jesus’ baptism by

 

John the Baptist which, according to Luke 3:1-2[25], began in the "15th year of Tiberius[26]") that suggest a date of birth around 2 BCE[27].

To summarize this section, I agree with most historians and scholars that Luke’s account “raises greater difficulty ... Most critics therefore discard Luke"[28]. However, I will offer this summarized view of a rational apologetic Christian: Luke’s census is not a historical impossibility, rather at all points, historical analogies can be drawn. Quirinius was not the official governor of Syria at the time of Jesus’ birth - the Syrian records and the current accepted chronology of Jesus’ life simply prevent this conclusion. However, Quirinius’s personal chronology is not fully known, particularly around the years of Jesus’ birth. Thus, it is not impossible that he held another office at the time which Luke appropriately describes. In short, it is most likely under this otherwise unattested office that Quirinius officiated over what Luke describes. To say more would go beyond the present evidence; to say otherwise, would strain the syntax. Luke’s historiographical track record (well-documented in other places) and the implausibility of such a monumental miscalculation, especially considering his method of and purpose for writing (cf. Luke 1:1–4), should forestall the rather premature conclusion of inaccuracy. Further evidence may eventually vindicate Luke’s statements more conclusively. (Adapted from “Once More: Quirinius's Census” by Jared Compton (2009))[29]

From this discussion (or debate) we should recognize that any attempt to develop a chronology of the life of Jesus is both difficult and contentious. There are no answers – only guesses – although some guesses are better supported than others. My guess is that Jesus was older than generally thought, being born in the spring of 7 BCE and being crucified in 36 CE. I suggest that his ministry overlapped that of John and lasted longer than suggested in the gospels (which give it a minimum of three years). In all cases, I have considered dates on a basis similar to the discussion above attempting to reconcile conflicts, view the larger picture, and avoid the traps of prophetic expectation. However, I will add that I would term this chronology as nothing more than my best guess. Instead of citing my numerous sources, I will only cite sources who offer a good historical foundation, comprehensive analysis, and balanced views (preferably with their own listing of good sources).

Some authors attempt to identify dates that are approximations or in dispute. I would say that every date from the time of Jesus is uncertain (or an approximation) and disputable. My interest is more in the sequence of events than in their exact dating, but I have included dates as a general guide. Those dates are based upon my own analysis, the best sources I could find, and comparison of numerous sources.

Since I am not interested in making doctrinal or theological assertions, it matters little to me if a given date was a “Passover” or other religiously significant event. Those who attempt to build a chronology around such have often made a mockery of historical research[30]. Here, the story determines the significance of a date instead of the opposite.


Date BCE

Event(s)

Sources/Notes

1003

David takes Jerusalem and becomes King of Israel

Ryrie S.B.[31] (“RSB”)

959

Solomon Completes Temple at Jerusalem

RSB

740-680

Life of Isaiah the Prophet

RSB

587-6

Babylonians capture Jerusalem. Jews begin Babylonian exile.

RSB

538

Cyrus of Persia assumes throne and allows Jews to return to Judea and begin rebuilding Temple.

RSB

515

Temple construction completed in Jerusalem (Zecharia)

RSB

340

Onias I is High Priest in Jerusalem. See Appendix VII.

Extrapolated

336

Alexander (son of Phillippus) becomes king of Macedonia

Jerome[32]

332

Alexander the Great in Judea. Founds Alexandria in Egypt. He is greeted by Simon bar Onias (“the Just”)

Jerome/Jerusalem Talmud (“JT”) Yoma 69a; Josephus (l.c. xi.8, § 4); 2 Maccabees ii.

324

Alexander dies in Babylon (at 32 years of age). The fight to divide his empire begins among his generals.

Jerome

320~

Simon the Just becomes High Priest

Jewish Encyclopedia[33]

320

Seleucus becomes the satrap of Babylon

 

305

Ptolemy I assumes the title of Pharaoh of Egypt.

 

280

Eleazar assumes High Priesthood as Onias II is too young

 
     

276

Manasseh assumes High Priesthood when Eleazar dies and Onias II is still too young

Josephus[34] "Ant." xii. 4, § 1-10

274-71

First Syrian war (of six). Antiochus I, the Seleucid king, tried to expand his holdings in Syria and Anatolia. Ptolemy proved to be a more skilled general and won a major vistory.

 

270

Onias II (bar Onias I) becomes High Priest. Josephus (a Tobiad) wrongly maligns him as a “cheapskate”.

 

261

Ptolemy II commissions 72 scholars to translate the Torah (5 books of Moses) into Greek – the “Septuagint”.

 

260-53

Second Syrian War. Antiochus II had more success against Ptolemy than his father. The war was concluded with the marriage of Antiochus to Ptolemy's daughter, Berenice Syra. Antiochus repudiated his previous wife, Laodice, and turned over substantial domain to her. She then poisoned him.

 

246-41

Third Syrian War (aka Laodicean War). Antiochus II (d. 246 BCE) left two ambitious mothers (Laodice and Berenice Syra) in a competition to put their respective sons on the throne. Berenice asked her brother Ptolemy III, the new Ptolemaic king, to come to Antioch and help place her son on the throne, but when Ptolemy arrived, Berenice and her child had been assassinated. He declared war on Laodice's newly crowned son, Seleucus IIand campaigned with great success.

 

218

Simon II (bar Onias II) becomes High Priest

 

185

Onias III (bar Simon II) becomes High Priest

 

175

Jason (“Jesus”) bar Simon II becomes High Priest. The Hellenizing of Jerusalem and Judaism begins.

 

172

Menelaus becomes High Priest. He was the brother of Simeon – the Benjamite who had denounced Onias III to Antiochus IV Epiphanes, and revealed to the Syrians the existence of the treasure of the Temple.

 

170

Onias III murdered. Supporters take Onias IV (bar Onias III) to Egypt where he is granted asylum by Ptolemy.

 

170

Antiochus IV Epiphanes attacks Egypt but is repelled.

 

169

Ptolemy grants Onias IV permission to build a Jewish Temple in the nome of Heliopolis. The Samaritans give Antiochus permission to build a temple to Zeus atop Mt. Garizim.

Jerome

168

Antiochus leads a second attack on Egypt. Before he reached Alexandria, the Roman ambassador delivered a message from the Roman Senate directing Antiochus to withdraw his armies or consider themselves in a state of war with the Roman Republic. Antiochus withdrew.

 

167

Meanwhile Jason takes Jerusalem and forces Menelaus into hiding. Antiochus (returning from Egypt) ousts Jason and restores Menelaus.

2 Maccabees 5:11-14

167

Antiochus outlawed Jewish religious rites and traditions and ordered the worship of Zeus as the supreme god. When most Jews refused, Antiochus sent an army to enforce his decree. Because of the resistance, the city was destroyed, many were slaughtered, and a military fortress (the “Acra”) was established next to the Temple. Jewish Temple worship is suspended in Jerusalem.

2 Maccabees 6:1-11

167

A Jewish priest in Modiin (Judea) named Mattathias the Hasmonean refused to worship the Greek gods and triggered a revolt against the Seleucids and their Jewish collaborators – the Maccabean revolt.

1 Maccabees

166

Mattathias is killed and his son Judah takes over leadership of the revolt. Was succeeded as army commander by his younger brother,

1 & 2 Maccabees,

165

Jerusalem was recaptured by Judah Maccabee and the Temple purified – the beginning of the holiday “Chanukah”. But the Jews were still in political subjection to Syria, and there still existed a strong Hel- lenizing party opposed to the Maccabees. With a view to acquiring political independence, Judas made a treaty with the Romans.

The Biblical World[35] 10:127

162

Alcimus procures the title “High Priest” (without being from a priestly family), but soon dies. Judas Maccabaeus assumes the title – even though he is also not entitled to it.

 

161

Judas is killed in the battle of Eleasa against Demetrius. Jonathan Maccabaeus succeeded him.

TBW 10:128

157

Jonathan made treaties with various foreign states, causing further dissent between those who merely desired religious freedom and those who sought greater power.

Jerome

153

Onias IV has a son named Ananias (aka Onias V). Temple services continue in Egypt under legitimate High Priests.

Hughes

148

Judeans and Samaritans argue before Ptolemy regarding the honors due their respective temples. Ptolemy decides that the Jerusalem Temple is primary.

Jerome

142

Simon, second and last surviving son of Mattathias, secured the recognition of the freedom of Judea from Demetrius II. Jews reckon their political independence from this date.

TBW 10:129

141

The reconstituted Sanhedrin declared Simon the High Priest and Ethnarch (ecclesiastical, military, and civil head of the nation) and these offices are made hereditary. The Oniads are forced into exile at Qumran.

See note[36]

139

Simon obtained a Roman guarantee of unrestricted Jewish possession of their territory.

 

135-134

Ptolemy, son-in-law of Simon, sends troops to kill (John) Hyrcanus, his brother-in-law, who is residing in Gazara, where he serves as governor (stratêgos). (John) Hyrcanus is informed about this plan and avoids being killed because he has the support of the people of Gazara. (John) Hyrcanus, now High Priest, takes control of Jerusalem before Ptolemy can, and then besieges Ptolemy at Dagon (Dok), near Jericho. (John) Hyrcanus is prevented from capturing the fortress, however, because Ptolemy has his mother as a hostage. Because it is a sabbatical year, the siege is lifted and Ptolemy escapes to Philadelphia, which is under the rule of Zenon Cotylas, but only after killing (John) Hyrcanus' mother.

1 Macc 16:18-22; Ant. 13.7.4-8.1; 229-35

135-34

In the first year of (John) Hyrcanus' reign, Antiochus VII Euergetes (Sidetes) invades Judea, and lays siege to Jerusalem. In order to conserve provisions, (John) Hyrcanus sends out the non-combatants out of the city, but Antiochus does not let them pass; only for the festival of Tabernacles are they allowed back into the city. After a long siege, (John) Hyrcanus comes to terms with the Seleucids, who had already proven himself conciliatory to the Jews by sending offerings for the festival of Tabernacles. He pays tribute for Joppa and other cities conquered. But he does not allow the Akra to be occupied by Seleucid (Syrian) troops again, as Antiochus VII originally demands. Instead, they send hostages and five hundred talents of silver; Antiochus VII also demolishes the city walls. Stress on the separateness of the Jews and their desire not to have contact with other peoples is cited as the motive for not surrendering the Akra. (The account of the Jews in Diod. 34/35.1 is slanderous, claiming that the ancestors of the Jews were lepers expelled from Egypt. Because of their resentment, the Jews became xenophobic and "haters of humanity" [misanthropoi].)

 

Hyrcanus opened the tomb of David and took 3,000 talents, 300 of which he used to bribe Antiochus to lift the siege.

Ant. 13.8.2-3; 236-48; War 1.2.5; 61; Diod. 34/35.1; Eusebius, Chron.; Justin 36.1
*In
War 1.2.5; 61, Josephus contradicts himself (see Ant. 7.15.3; 393 cf. Ant. 13.8.4; 249 where Antiochus lifts the siege after successfully negotiating (John) Hyrcanus, who opens the tomb only after Antiochus departs.

135-104

The Pharisees and those who support them oppose (John) Hyrcanus' rule and unsuccessfully try to remove him from power in a popular rebellion. At this time, (John) Hyrcanus breaks his allegiance with the Pharisees; the breaking point comes when the Pharisee Eleazar tells (John) Hyrcanus that he should resign as High Priest because his mother was taken captive during the time of Antiochus IV. (The implication is that he was raped, which would disqualify her as the wife of a priest [see Lev 21:14].) He is furious with the insinuation about his mother, which he denies, but even more angry when the Pharisees will not agree with his recommendation that Eleazar be executed for his impertinent remark. From this point, (John) Hyrcanus allies himself with the Sadducees. How long the Pharisees have been allies of the Hasmoneans is not explained.

Ant. 13.10.5-7; 288-99; War 1.2.6; 67

130-129

Antiochus VII Euergetes (Sidetes) compels (John) Hyrcanus to send troops in support of his campaign against the Parthians (Phraates II). After some initial success against the general Arsaces, Antiochus VII is defeated and killed in battle. Josephus quotes Nicolas of Damascus to the effect that the Jews under his command request that Antiochus VII not march out for two days after a victory over the Parthians because this was the beginning of Pentecost; the Jews are not required to march on the Sabbath or on the first day of a festival. Demetrius II once again takes control of the Seleucid Kingdom; he was held prisoner by the Parthians.

Ant. 13.8.4; 249-53; War 1.2.5; 61; see Diod. 34.15-17; Justin 38.10; Livy, Epit. 59; Appian, Syr. 68; Eusebius, Chron. 1.255 on Antiochus' Parthian campaign.

130-29

In order to strengthen his position, (John) Hyrcanus sends envoys to the Roman senate, requesting that the Romans condemn Antiochus VII Euergetes (Sidetes) for taking from the Jews control of Joppa, Gazara and Pegae and other cities. The senate reaffirms their support of the Jews, but postpones making a decision about their request.

Ant. 13.9.2; 260-66

129?

Taking advantage of the death of Antiochus VII Euergetes (Sidetes), (John) Hyrcanus attacks the trans-Jordan cities of Medaba and Samoga; he also takes the Samaritan cities of Shechem, Garizein and conquers the Cuthaean nation, also known as Samaritans.The temple on Mt. Gerazim is also destroyed, some two hundred years after its construction. (John) Hyrcanus also turns south and takes the Idumean cities of Adora and Marissa, and forces the Idumeans to live as Jews, which requires first circumcising them.

 *According to War, (John) Hyrcanus began his campaign when Antiochus VII leaves to wage war against the Parthians, whereas Ant. places it after his death in 129 BCE

Ant. 13.9.1; 254-58; War 1.2.6; 62-63.

128-122

Demetrius II goes to war against Ptolemy VII Physcon, king of Egypt, and creates ill-will between himself and those in his kingdom. As a result, Ptolemy VII, at the urging of the Syrian troops, puts forth a rival to the Seleucid throne, Alexander surnamed Zebinas. The Egyptian king sends Alexander with an army against Demetrius II, who is defeated. He flees to his wife, Cleopatra, in Ptolemais, who does not receive him, and then on to to Tyre, where he is killed (126-25 BCE). Alexander Zebinas is friendly to (John) Hyrcanus, but is defeated by Antiochus VIII Gryphus, the son of Demetrius II, and executed (123-22 BCE).

 

*According to Justinus, Alexander was the adopted son of Antiochus VII Sidetes (39.1.4), whereas Porphyry says that he was the son of Alexander Balas (Eusebius, Chron. 1.257).

Ant. 13.9.3; 267-69; see Justin 39.1; Eusebius, Chron. 1; Appian, Syr. 68; Livy, Epit. 60

122-111

Antiochus VIII Gryphus rules the Seleucid kingdom until 113 BCE, when he is deposed by Antiochus IX Cyzicenus, son of Antiochus VII Sidetes and step-brother and cousin of Antiochus VIII Gryphus, who rules for two years. (The two had the same mother, Cleopatra, who had been married to Demetrius II and Antiochus VII Sidetes, and their fathers had been brothers.)  In 111 BCE, Antiochus VIII Gryphus re-takes part of the kingdom from Antiochus IX Cyzicenus, who now rules only Coele-Syria. During this period, both kings leave (John) Hyrcanus in peace. (John) Hyrcanus is not subject to either Antiochus.

 

According to Josephus, Antiochus VIII Gryphus had to fight constantly against his brother (Ant. 13.10.1; 270-72), whereas Justinus says that he had eight years of eight years of peaceful rule before he is challenged by Antiochus IX Cyzicenus


Ant. 13.10.1; 270-74; see Diod. 34/5.34; see 35.1; Justin 39.2-3; Appian, Syr. 69
(39.8.9). 

122 -107

(John) Hyrcanus lays siege to the city of Samaria, and entrusts the outcome to his two sons, (Judas) Aristobolus and Antigonus. The Samaritans appeal to the Seleucid king, Antiochus IX Cyzicenus, for help, whom (Judas) Aristobolus defeats and pursues as far as Scythopolis in Samaria. The siege of Samaria is then resumed. The Seleucid king appeals to Ptolemy VIII Lathyrus for military support, contrary to the will of his mother and co-regent, Cleopatra III. He ravages Jewish territory in an attempt to force (John) Hyrcanus to lift the siege. Ptolemy VIII leaves Callimandrus and Epicrates to direct the war against the Jews. They are ultimately unsuccessful, however, due to ineptitude and corruption. After besieging the city for a year, (John) Hyrcanus' troops destroy it completely. They also destroy Scythopolis, in part due to Epicrates' betrayal of the city. On the day on which Samaria fell, (John) Hyrcanus while serving as High Priest in the Temple is said to have heard God tell him that his two sons had just defeated Antiochus IX.

 

Josephus says that the Samaritans called on Antiochus IX Cyzicenus for help against the Jewish assault on the city of Samaria, which would date the siege to before 113 BCE. In War 1.2.7; 65, he said that it was Antiochus surnamed Aspendius (a.k.a. Antiochus VIII Gryphus) who came to the aid of the Samaritans. 

Ant. 13.10.2-3; 275-83; War 1.2.7; 64-66 (see 1.2.8; 68-9)
*In
Ant. 13.10.2; 276-77 and 13.10.3; 282,

107-102

Cleopatra III engages in a struggle for power with her son Ptolemy VIII Lathyrus. She relies upon two Jewish generals, Chelkias and Ananias, sons of Onias III.

Ant. 13.10.4; 284-87

135-104

The Pharisees and those who support them oppose (John) Hyrcanus' rule and unsuccessfully try to remove him from power in a popular rebellion. At this time, (John) Hyrcanus breaks his allegiance with the Pharisees; the breaking point comes when the Pharisee Eleazar tells (John) Hyrcanus that he should resign as High Priest because his mother was taken captive during the time of Antiochus IV. (The implication is that he was raped, which would disqualify her as the wife of a priest [see Lev 21:14].) He is furious with the insinuation about his mother, which he denies, but even more angry when the Pharisees will not agree with his recommendation that Eleazar be executed for his impertinent remark. From this point, (John) Hyrcanus allies himself with the Sadducees. How long the Pharisees have been allies of the Hasmoneans is not explained.

Ant. 13.10.5-7; 288-99; War 1.2.6; 67

104

(John) Hyrcanus dies, leaving five sons. He is said to have received the three highest privileges: rule of the nation (archê tou ethnous), high priesthood, and the gift of prophecy. He is said to have foretold that his two eldest sons would not masters of affairs in the state: (Judas) Aristobolus and Antigonus.

 

(John) Hyrcanus stipulates in his will that his wife should assume political power and his son (Judas) Aristobolus the high priesthood. (Judas) Aristobolus, however, usurps power from his mother, and puts her in prison, where she dies of starvation. He also imprisons all his brothers with the exception of Antigonus. (Judas) Aristobolus transforms the government into a monarchy, assuming the title of king (basileia), as noted by Josephus, 481 years and three months after the Babylonian exile. 4Q448 col. b probably refers to Alexander Jannaeus as "king Jonathan" (hmlk Ywntn) and also refers to his "kingdom" (mmlktk).

 

Strabo says that it was Alexander Jannaeus who first assumed the kingship, but possibly Aristobolus's reign was so short as to be overlooked.

Ant. 13.10.7; 299-300; War 1.2.8; 67-69

 

Ant. 13.11.1; 301-302; War 1.3.1; 70-71.

 

Strabo, 16.2.40 (762)

104-103

During his one year reign, (Judas) Aristobolus wages war against the Itureans, and annexes part of their territory (probably Galilee). He requires that they be circumcised and live according to the Jewish laws if they want to remain in their territory. (Judas) Aristobolus is supposed to have called himself "Philellene," presumably indicating his preference for Hellenism.

 

Strabo quotes the work of the historian Timagenes.
*According to Timagenes, as quoted by Strabo (whose work is then quoted by Josephus), Aristobolus was a kind or moderate (eipeikes) man who benefited the Jews greatly, since he expanded his kingdom; this is at odds with the depiction of him as matricide and fratricide.

Ant. 13.11.3; 318-19; Strabo 16.2.40 (753-56)

104-103

(Judas) Aristobolus tragically has his brother Antigonus killed, whom he wrongly suspects of disloyalty. (Judas) Aristobolus is actually a victim of court intrigue. Judas the Essene, known as a prophet, foretells the death of Antigonus. Later, Aristobolus has great remorse for ordering his brother's death, and he develops a fatal illness.

Ant. 13.11.1-3; 303-19; War 1.3.2-6; 72-88

103

Upon his death, (Judas) Aristobolus' widow, (Salome or Salina) Alexandra releases his brothers from prison, and makes (Jonathan or Yannai) Alexander both High Priest and king (Jannaios is the Greek version of Yannai). (He is commonly known as Alexander Jannaeus.) She also marries him. Alexander was disliked by his father, who preferred Aristobolus and Antigonus, but in a dream it was revealed to (John) Hyrcanus that Alexander would be his successor. Alexander puts to death one of his brothers, who is a potential rival for the throne, but allows the other brother, Absalom, to live, since he has no such ambition.

Ant. 13.12.1; 320-23; War 1.4.1; 85

96

Alexander Jannaeus attacks Ptolemais, because Antiochus VIII Gryphus (Antiochus Philometor) and Antiochus IX Cyzicenus are both preoccupied with their internal struggle for supremacy in the Seleucid kingdom. Zoilus, who holds Straton's Tower, comes to the aid of Ptolemais, but is only marginally effective. The city appeals to Ptolemy VIII Lathyrus, son of Cleopatra III, who, having been driven from Egypt by his mother, now rules in Cyprus. Hoping to find allies among Zoilus and the people of Gaza, Ptolemy VIII Lathyrus travels from Cyprus with his troops and lands at Sycamina, near Ptolemais. In the meantime, however, those in the city change their mind about accepting help from Ptolemy VIII Lathyrus, because they do not want to be subject to him and out of fear of reprisal from Cleopatra III and her son Ptolemy IX Alexander.

Ant. 13.12.2-3; 324-33

96-95

For fear of Ptolemy VIII Lathyrus, Alexander lifts the siege. He requests that Cleopatra III come to attack her son, and deceitfully makes an alliance of friendship with Ptolemy VIII Lathyrus. When he discovers Alexander's deceit, Ptolemy VIII Lathyrus besieges Ptolemais, and invades Judea, attacking Asochis and Sepphoris in Galilee. Under the command of Philostephanus, his troops cross the Jordan River to engage the army of Alexander Jannaeus at Asophon. After a long battle, the troops of Alexander Jannaeus are forced to flee. The army of Ptolemy VIII overruns Judea, slaughtering many. He also takes Ptolemais.

Ant. 13.12.4-6; 334-47

88

Cleopatra III, fearing the growing strength of her son, sends troops under the command of Chelkias and Ananias, two Jewish generals in her service, and her other son Ptolemy IX Alexander. Ptolemy VIII Lathyrus attempts to take Egypt, while its army is absent, but fails, and takes refuge in Gazara. Following the advice of Ananias, Cleopatra III makes an alliance with Alexander Jannaeus, and does not appropriate any of his territory. Ptolemy VIII Lathyrus returns to Cyprus.

Ant. 13.13.1-2; 348-55; War 1.4.2; 86

88

Alexander Jannaeus marches on Coele-Syria, and takes the cities of Gadara and Amathus. But Theodorus , son of Zenon, ambushes Alexander Jannaeus and plunders his baggage and kills some 10,000 Jews.

Ant. 13.13.3; 356; War 1.4.2; 86

86-80

Roughly coincidental with the death of Antiochus VIII Gryphus, Alexander Jannaeus takes the cities of Raphia and Anthedon, and lays siege to Gaza (Gazara). Because of the treachery of Lysimachus, who murders his brother Apollodotus, the general of the Gazaeans, and makes an alliance with the Jews, Alexander Jannaeus gains admittance to the city, whereupon his troops loot and murder.

Ant. 13.13.3; 357-64; War 1.4.2; 87

79-76

Antiochus VIII Gryphus dies as a victim of a plot. After his death, his son, Seleucus VI Epiphanes Nicator defeats Antiochus IX Cyzicenus and kills him, whose son, Antiochus X Eusebes Philopator, in turn, drives Seleucus out of Syria. Seleucus takes refuge in Cilicia, where he rules, until he dies in a popular uprising in Mopsuestia. Antiochus, the brother of Seleucus, wages war against Antiochus XI Epiphanes Philadelphus, but is defeated and dies in battle, whereupon another brother, Philip I Epiphanes Philadelphus puts on the diadem and begins to rule in part of Syria. Ptolemy VIII Lathyrus sends for a fourth brother, Demetrius III Theos Philopator Soter (nicknamed Eukaros but called Akairos by Josephus), to come from Cnidus, who then begins to rule in Damascus along with Philip I Epiphanes Philadelphus.These two brothers are opposed by Antiochus X Eusebes Philopator, but he soon dies in fighting the Parthians.

Ant. 13.13.4; 365-71

76-67

The subjects of Alexander Jannaeus are not entirely pleased with his rule.This becomes clear when, once during his officiating at the Festival of Tabernacles, the celebrants pelted him with the kitrons that they hold as part of the ritual. In retaliation, he has c. 6,000 of them killed. Later, Alexander wages war against the Nabateans east of the Jordan and demolishes Amathus. He also engages Obedas, the Nabatean king, but is defeated at Garada, a village in Gaulanis. Barely escaping with his life, Alexander Jannaeus discovers upon his return to Judea that his opponents (including the Pharisees) have risen in revolt against him. He wages a six-year civil war against his opponents, during which many die. His opponents entreat Demetrius III Theos Philopator Soter to come to their aid against Alexander Jannaeus. (Both armies consist of Greek mercenaries and Jewish soldiers.)  Demetrius III defeats Alexander near Shechem.

 

Josephus says that Alexander had 6,200 mercenaries and 20,000 Jews and Demetrius had 3,000 horses and 40,000 foot soldiers, whereas in War, Alexander had 9,000 mercenaries and 10,000 Jews, whereas Demetrius 3,000 horses and 14,000 foot soldiers.

Ant. 13.13.5-14.1; 372-78; War 1.4.3-5; 88-95

75

Alexander Jannaeus flees to the mountains, but many of the Jews who opposed Alexander Jannaeus, after his defeat at the hands of Demetrius III, suddenly switch their allegiance to Alexander Jannaeus. At this Demetrius III withdraws, realizing his precarious situation. With his renewed support Alexander Jannaeus subdues those Jews who still oppose him, who take refuge at Bethoma. He brings these opponents to Jerusalem, where he crucifies some 800 of them and, while they are dying, kills their wives and children before their eyes. This spectacle serves as entertainment for him and his concubines while dining. The remaining opponents, some 8,000 Jews flee Jerusalem. During the civil war, Alexander Jannaeus must concede control of territory taken from the Nabatean king in exchange for his neutrality. (The Jews nicknamed him "Thracian" because of his cruelty.)

Ant. 13.14.2; 379-83; War 1.4.6; 96-98; 4QNahum Pesher 1

72

Antiochus XII Dionysius, brother of Demetrius II, who also has designs on the throne, seizes control of Damascus; he then begins a campaign against the Nabateans. (In the meantime Philip I Epiphanes Philadelphus both gains control of Damascus and loses it again.)  Alexander Jannaeus attempts to impede his progress by building a trench and a wall with towers intended to stop the Syrian advance. Antiochus XII Dionysius meets his death in battle, and cannot retaliate against Alexander Jannaeus. The Nabatean king Aretas becomes ruler of Coele-Syria (the territory around Damascus) and successfully invades the territory of Alexander Jannaeus, defeating him at Adida; Alexander Jannaeus is forced to conclude a peace treaty with the Nabateans. Alexander Jannaeus takes Dion, Pella, Gerasa, Gaulane, Seleucia, the so-called "ravine of Antiochus," and Gamala during a three-year campaign. Alexander Jannaeus destroys Pella because its inhabitants would not agree to adopt the customs of the Jews.

Ant. 13.15.1-4; 387-97; War 1.4.7-8; 99-106
*In
War, Josephus says that Alexander took  Pella and Gerasa, whereas in Ant. he took Dion and  Dion and Essa, but Essa last is probably corruption of Gerassa.

67

Alexander Jannaeus develops an illness, related to his excessive drinking; after three years of being ill, he dies in the territory of the Gerasenes while besieging Ragaba. Before he dies, he advises his wife, (Salome) Alexandra, to whom he bequeaths his kingdom, to make peace with the Pharisees and allow them a certain amount of political power. He recognizes that for his wife to rule effectively and in peace she needs the support of the Pharisees, who have the support of the general populace. (Salome) Alexandra conceals her husband's death from his soldiers, finishes capturing Ragaba, and returns to Jerusalem. Thereupon she allies herself with the Pharisees, who eulogize Alexander Jannaeus to the people and provide him a honorable burial.

Ant. 13.15.5; 398-404; War 1.4.8; 105-106

38

(Salome) Alexandra becomes queen and appoints her eldest son, Hyrcanus II, as High Priest. It is said that, unlike her husband, she is godly and therefore loved by the people, and there is peace and prosperity during her reign. She gives to the Pharisees authority to rule, and they reimpose regulations made in accordance with the traditions of their fathers that were annulled by Hyrcanus II, when he broke with the Pharisees in favor of the Sadducees. They are also allowed to free prisoners and to recall exiles with Pharisaic allegiance. Taking revenge on their enemies, the Pharisees convince (Salome) Alexandra to allow them to kill those who during the reign of Alexander Jannaeus advised the king to execute his (Pharisaic) opponents. The leading citizens, led by her son Aristobolus II, however, protest to (Salome) Alexandra, and she puts a stop to the executions. (Salome) Alexandra increases the size of her army and hires mercenary soldiers.

Ant. 13.16.1-3; 405-17; War 1.5.1-3; 107-14

37

(Salome) Alexandra sends her son Aristobolus II on a military expedition to Damascus, but with no results.

Ant. 13.16.3; 418; War 1.5.3; 115-16

36

(Salome) Alexandra's kingdom is threatened by Tigranes, king of Armenia, who controls parts of Seleucid  kingdom. She forestalls an invasion of her territory by sending  gifts to Tigranes. Tigranes, however, is forced to flee back to Armenia, when he learns that the Roman general Lucullus has attacked his homeland.

Ant. 13.16.4; 419-21; War 1.5.3; 116

36

(Salome) Alexandra becomes seriously ill. With the goal of  usurping power from his mother, brother and the Pharisees, Aristobolus II takes advantage of his mother's illness by taking possession of the fortresses, where the supporter of Alexander Jannaeus were exiled, appropriating the financial reserves there, and recruiting a mercenary army. In response to the complaints of Hyrcanus and the elders of the Jews (probably Pharisees), (Salome) Alexandra detains the wife and children of Aristobolus II in the Baris, the fortress adjacent the Temple. She dies, however, before the threat posed by Aristobolus II has been neutralized.

Ant. 13.16.5-6; 422-32; War 1.5.4; 117-19

36-5

Herod and Romans besieged and captured Jerusalem. Antigonus was carried away to Antioch and beheaded.

 

35

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Herod plundered Jerusalem in order to give gifts to Antony (and others). He killed forty-five members of the Sanhedrin and rewarded those who supported him during the siege including the Pharisee Ptollion (Abṭalion) and his disciple Samaias (Shemaiah). Famine struck Judea.

Ant. 15.1.1-2; 1-10; War 1.18.1-4; 347-59; see Plutarch, Ant. 36

35-4

Herod appoints the Egyptian (some say Babylonian) Hananel/Ananel (of a High-Priestly family) as High Priest. This encouraged the Qumranians and since they were tied to the Essenes, Herod generally left them alone.

Antony gives Cleopatra control of Coele-Syria, the coastal region from the Eleutherus River to Egypt, Cilicia and Cyprus. Cleopatra also has designs on Herod's kingdom as well as that of the Nabataean king Malchus, and tries to convince Antony to grant to her these territories.

Ant. 15.3.8; 79; 4.1; 95; War 1.18.4-5; 360-62; see Plutarch, Ant. 36; Dio Cassius 49.32.4-5

34

Hyrcanus II was released from his Parthian imprisonment and went to reside in Babylonia. Herod feared that he might lead the Parthians against him and invited him to Jerusalem where Herod is outwardly respectful to him.

 

Herod begins the systematic elimination of all opponents to his title either through assimilation, marriage, imprisonment, exile, of murder. See Appendices VIII and IX.

 

32

Herod's mother-in-law enlists the aid of Cleopatra to persuade Antony to appoint her son Aristobolus as High Priest. (Aristobolus was the brother of Mariamme, Herod's wife, son of Alexandra and grandson of Hyrcanus II and Aristobolus II.) Herod finally relented and replaced Hananel with Aristobolus. Herod restricted Mariamme to the palace, being suspicious of her loyalty to him; she appealed to Cleopatra for help and she advised her to steal away to Egypt with her son. Her attempt to leave Jerusalem is thwarted, but Herod, fearing Cleopatra, took no punitive measures against her personally. He did, however, arrange to have Aristobolus drowned at his villa in Jericho (he was High Priest for less than a year).  

Ant. 15.2.1-3.4; 11-61; War 1.22.2; 437

31

Hananel is re-appointed as High Priest. The Qumranians and the Essenes enjoyed a decade of prosperity as Herod was occupied by other matters.

 

L. Munatius Plancus made Legatus of Syria.

 

Alexandra appealed to Cleopatra for justice in the matter of Herod's murder of her son. Cleopatra convinced Antony (who is in the process of marching against the Armenians) to summon Herod to Laodocia (near Antioch) for an inquiry.

 

Ant. 15.3.5-9; 62-87

31

Herod leaves his brother-in-law, Joseph (married to Herod's sister Salome), with orders to kill Mariamme if he should die. Joseph, in an attempt to prove Herod's love to Mariamme and Alexandra reveals Herod's instructions. In Herod's absence, the rumor arises that he has been executed; Alexandra persuades Joseph to let them take refuge with the Roman legion stationed near the city. Herod is exonerated by (his longtime friend) Antony and when he returns to Jerusalem, his sister Salome reveals the plan of Alexandra and Mariamme to flee and accuses Mariamme of infidelity with Salome's husband Joseph.  Mariamme denies the accusation, but Herod still has Joseph killed.

 

30

While on his Armenian campaign, Antony grants Cleopatra portions of Herod's kingdom, the balsam plantations near Jericho, as well as parts of the Nabatean (Arab) kingdom. Herod is forced to lease back the territorial concessions from Cleopatra. Returning to Egypt, after accompanying Antony as far as the Euphrates River, Cleopatra visits Jerusalem, and tries to seduce Herod.  He refuses her advances, and contemplates killing her, but does not for fear of Antony.

Ant. 15.4.1-88; see Plutarch, Ant. 36; Dio Cassius 22; 32; 49.32.5 (Both, however, date these concessions to 36 BCE.)

29

Jacob[37] “the Patriarch”, son of Matthan ben Eliezar, becomes a principal emissary for Herod (having close ties with the Egyptian Court).

 

Herod and Malchus (the Nabataean king) pay the tribute to Cleopatra - for a while. When Malchus ceases his tribute payments, Antony orders Herod to make war against him. Herod suggests, instead, that Antony use Herod's soldiers in his war against Octavius.

 

Herod initially defeats the Nabataeans in Coele-Syria but is then attacked and defeated by Cleopatra's general Athenion in charge of her forces in Coele-Syria (taking the Jews by surprise). Then the Nabateans return and deal the Jews even more losses.

Ant. 15.4.4-5.1; 107-20; War 1.19.1-4; 364-69

28?

There is a springtime earthquake in Judea which kills thousands and destroys much property (including several structures at Qumran). The Nabataeans plan to attack the Jews thinking that the earthquake has weakened the nation and its army. The Jews defeat the Nabataeans near Philadelphia (across the Jordan River).

 

L. Calpunius Bibulus became Legatus of Syria.

Ant. 15.4.2-5; 121-60; War 1.19.3-6; 367-85; Livius[38]

28

Octavius, backed by the Roman senate, defeats Antony at the battle of Actium. Antony and Cleopatra escape to Alexandria. Herod leaves Judea under the care of his brother Pheroras, and appears before Octavius in Rhodes, unapologetically conceding his former loyalty to Antony and promising to be equally loyal to Octavius. Octavius reinstates Herod as king.

 

Relations between Herod and Mariamme deteriorate, in part due to rumors spread by his sister Salome against her and her mother Alexandra.

Ant. 15.6.1-7.3; 161-214; War 1.20.1-3; 386-95; see  Dio Cassius 51.1-18; Plutarch, Ant. 56-65

27?

Herod has Hyrcanus II killed for treason. Allegedly, Hyrcanus sent a letter to Malchus asking refuge for his family in case Herod seeks to do away with them. Joshua ben Fabus (Jesus bar Phabes) replaces Hananel (aka Ananelus) as High Priest.

 

Herod sends Jacob as envoy to Octavius. His success yields the reward of marriage to Cleopatra VIII – aka “Cleopatra of Jerusalem”.

 

Q. Didius Became Legatus of Sysia. 

Ant. 15.6.1-7.3; 161-214

27

Antony and Cleopatra commit suicide. Herod meets Octavius in Egypt, who returns the territory previously appropriated by Cleopatra. He also adds Gadara, Hippus, Samaria, Gaza, Anthedon, Joppa and Straton's Tower.

 

Joseph bar Jacob born in Jerusalem.

 

Marcus Cicero appointed governor of Syria.

 

When Herod returned to Jerusalem, he had Mariamme executed for her alleged disloyalty. Afterward, Herod had great remorse for his deed. Herod contracted an illness, which many see as divine retribution.

 

The Roman senate changed Octavius' name to Augustus and gave him the titles Princeps and Imperator. M. Valerius Mesala appointed as Legatus of Syria.(Possibly with M. Tullius Cicero as co-Legatus).

Ant. 15.7.3-7; 215-46 War 1.20.3; 396

 

26?

During his illness, Herod absents himself to Samaria. In Jerusalem, Alexandra conspires to usurp control from Herod; she attempts to convince the commanders of the two fortresses in Jerusalem to rebel against the ailing Herod, but to no avail. They betray her to Herod, who has her executed. He also executed the Sons of Baba.

 

Famine and plague in Judea, but Herod still hosted games in Jerusalem.

 

Herod married Malthace (sons  Antipas, Archelaus, and Olympias).

Ant. 15.7.8; 247-52; Livius

26

A Roman census is taken and 4,164,000 Romans are counted.

Jerome

25

Herod has Costobar (Herod's sister Salome's second husband whom she divorced), executed for his role in hiding the sons of Baba, members of a family of supporters of the Hasmonean Antigonus whom Costobar allowed to escape and concealed from Herod. Salome betrays her former husband. The sons of Baba are killed also. Herod also executes Antipater, Lysimachus and Dositheus for allegedly conspiring with Costobar against him.

Ant. 15.7.9-10; 253-66

24

Egypt and Syria are made Imperial Provinces. Syria governed by a Prefect as “Legatus Caesaris”.

 

24-23

In honor of Caesar Augustus (the former Octavius), Herod introduces a quinquennial (every 5 years) athletic competition. He builds a theater in Jerusalem and an amphitheater near the city in the plain, offending many Jews who take offense at the practice of having condemned criminals killed by wild animals as entertainment and having images of men on trophies displayed in Jerusalem (as idolatrous). Herod alleviates the religious concerns of most, but some continue to be offended and plot to assassinate Herod. The conspiracy is discovered and those involved are executed. Herod's informant is murdered afterwards.

Ant. 15.8.1-4; 267-91; War 1.21.8; 415

23

Herod sends 500 soldiers to Aelius Gallus to be used in a war against Sabaeans of Arabia.They are defeated by disease and mismanagement.

 

The twins Ptolas and Clopas born to Jacob and Cleopatra.

Ant. 15.9.3; 317; see Strabo , Geog.16.4.23

23-22

Herod rebuilds the city of Samaria and renames it Sabaste (Greek for Augustus). He builds a temple to Caesar in the center of Sabaste and fortresses in Gaba (in Galilee) and Hesebonitis (or Heshbon) in Perea.

 

Herod accuses Jacob of sedition and has him executed. Two years later, Herod would marry Cleopatra (“of Jerusalem”).

Ant. 15.8.5; 292-98; War 1.21.2; 403

22

Palestine is beset by a two-year drought (the 13th year of Herod’s reign). Thousands die during this period, but when Herod converts his gold and silver palace ornaments into coinage and uses them to buy grain from Egypt, his beneficence gains him much gratitude and respect from the Jews and other nations.

 

Varro is appointed Legatus (Prefect) of Syria. It is 730 a.u.c. 

Ant. 15.9.1-2; 299-316

21

Herod built himself a palace in Jerusalem, and married the daughter of Simon bar Boethus – a second wife named Mariamme (see 29 BCE). He appointed Simon High Priest in place of Jesus son of Phabes. (Mariamme bears a son who is named Herod  - one of two).

 

An unusually good harvest during the Sabbatical year.

Ant. 15.9.3; 317-22; 17.1.3; 19-22;War 1.21.1; 402; 16.28.4; 562-63

21-20

M. Vipsanius Agrippa is made special Legatus of Syria and governs from Lesbos.

 

Herod's oldest daughter Salampsio (by Mariamne I) was married to Phasael II (the son of Herod's older brother by the same name). They had 3 sons & 2 daughters, the youngest of whom, Cypros III (named after Herod's mother) was married to her cousin Agrippa I (the son of her mother's brother, Aristobulus IV) and their son was Agrippa II. (Marrying daughters to uncles or cousins was common and was one of several practices that make family relationships and naming complex).

 

The daughter of the High Priest Yehoshua, Hannah (aka Anne), married Alexander III Helios.

 

20

Herod sent his sons (by the first Mariamme) Alexander and Aristobolus   to Rome for their education. Caesar Augustus added the territories of Trachonitis, Batanaea and Auranitis to Herod's kingdom. Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa went to Mytilene, where he met with Herod and some Gadarenes who came to complain about Herod. Agrippa put them in chains and handed them over to Herod, who released them. Herod’s son, Archelaus, was born.

Ant. 15.10.1-3; 342-50; War 1.20.4; 398-400

Starting in the 20s

Herod began rebuilding of the port city of Straton's Tower, which he renamed Caesarea in honor of Caesar Augustus. He had built a large circular breakwall to create a harbor suitable for large fleets of ships. Herod also rebuilt Anthedon, and renamed it Agrippium, in honor of Marcus Agrippa. (Jerome says “Antipatris”). Gadara rebelled against Herod.

 

Alexander III Helios and Anne have a daughter – Mary.

Ant. 15.9.6; 331-41; War 1.21.5-8; 408-16

During Herod’s Reign

Augustus grants the Samaritans independence.

Jerome at 190.4

20

Herod builds the fortress named the Herodion 7 miles south of Jerusalem.  

War 1.21.10; 419-21

19

Herod announces his plan to rebuild the Temple and Temple Court in Jerusalem. See Appendix XIII.

 

18

Herod forbids public gatherings and requires all citizens to take an oath of loyalty to him, which most do. Those who do not cooperate with Herod's policies are secretly executed. Polion, the Pharisee, Samaias and most of their disciples refuse to take an oath of loyalty, but are exempted from punishment, on account of Pollion's earlier support of Herod. Herod punishes thieves severely, by selling them into permanent foreign slavery, which is contrary to the Jewish law. 

Ant. 15.9.5; 326-30; 15.10.4; 365-72; 16.1.1; 1-5; 16.5.2-3; 142-49; War 1.21.9; 417-18; 21.11; 422-25; 21.12; 428

17

Remembering that the Essene Manaemus predicted that he would be king of the Jews when he was still a youth, Herod summons him to ask him how long his reign would be. Manaemus replies that he has twenty or even thirty years as king. Because of Manaemus, Herod holds the Essenes in high esteem and the Essenes are exempt from taking Herod’s oath.

Ant. 15.10.5; 373-79

16

Caesar Augustus visits Syria, and gives Herod equal authority with the Syrian procurators. Herod is then the third most influential man in the Roman empire, behind Augustus and Agrippa. Herod obtains the  tetrarchy of the trans-Jordanic Perea for his brother Pheroras. Josephus says that Augustus appointed Herod as procurator (“epitropos”) of all Syria – which is very unlikely and possibly indicative of a bias. Nevertheless, as one of the procurators of Syria, Herod gained additional income, autonomy, and status.

 

Some historians have M.T. Cicero, son of the famous orator, as Legatus to Syria.

Ant. 15.10.3; 354-64; War 1.20.4; 399; 24.5; 483; see Dio Cassius 54.7.4-6; 9.3
*In
War 1.20.4; 399

16

In order to alleviate the growing dissatisfaction among Jews with his rule, Herod remits one third of the taxes.

Ant. 15.11.1-2; 380-87; 11.6; 421-23; War 1.21.1; 401

15

The Temple is completed (1 ½ years after begun). It is described as one of the most magnificent structures in the world. Construction on its surrounds would continue for another 50+ years.

 

John (the Baptist) is born to Zecharias and Elizabeth.

 

15-14

Herod visits Caesar Augustus in Italy and brings back Alexander and Aristobolus (as above). They resent their father for his execution of their mother, and Herod hears of this and becomes disaffected with them. Aristobolus marries Berenice, the daughter of Salome, Herod's sister, and Alexander marries Glaphyra, the daughter of Archaelus, the king of Cappadocia.

 

Herod rebuilt Samaria and named it Sebaste (Greek for Augustus). He also built the so-called Panium at Paneas.  Augustus granted freedom to the Samians [Samaritans - Ar.]. 

 

Zecharias and Alexander III Helios executed. Elizabeth and Anne are taken in by Joseph of Arimathea.

Ant. 16.1.2; 6-11

14

Herod married Pallis (son named Phasael), Phaedra, and Elis.

Livius

13

M. Agrippa again named as Legatus to Syria.

 

12

Marcus Agrippa headed to Asia and Herod went to meet him. The Jews of Ionia (in Asia) complain to Agrippa in Herod's presence that they are being deprived of their right to live according to their own laws and practice their religion without interference (contrary to Roman law). Nicolas of Damascus, who is traveling with Herod and Agrippa, addresses Agrippa in support of the complaints of the Ionian Jews and Agrippa upholds the rights of the Ionian Jews. 

 

Herod befriends Nicholas and they become close. Herod convinces Agrippa to come to Jerusalem (after a side trip). When Herod returns to Jerusalem, he explains how he was instrumental in guaranteeing the rights of Jews in Asia.  He also remits one quarter of the taxes.

Ant. 16.2.1-2; 12-26; see Philo, Legatio 37; 294-97

11

Herod, Agrippa, and Nicholas toured the cities that Herod had constructed or rebuilt. When Agrippa arrived in Jerusalem, he was well received by the populace (or at least those who were allowed to appear).

Ant. 16.2.3-5; 27-65

10

Increasing dissension disrupted Herod’s household. Alexander and Aristobolus wanted to rule. Herod's sister Salome and Pheroras were enemies of these two sons of the first Mariamme. They started a rumor that they were plotting with the king of Cappadocia (the father-in-law of Alexander) to influence Augustus to have Herod removed from power. In turn, Herod brought his son Antipater and his mother Doris to the court and Antipas was declared to be heir to Herod's throne. Herod sent Antipater to Rome with Agrippa as a way of commending him to Augustus. It is 740 a.u.c.

Ant. 16.3.1-3; 66-86; War 1.23.1-2; 445-51

10-9

In Rome, Antipater continued his effort to undermine Alexander and Aristobolus and Herod sought to have them killed. Herod went before  Augustus in Rome and accused Alexander and Aristobolus of plotting and attempting to poison him. Alexander defends himself and his brother successfully and Augustus reconciled the antagonists while affirming Herod’s freedom to choose whomever he considers the most worthy heir.

 

M. Titius named as Legatus to Syria.

 

Ptolemy Bar Mennius, the Exilarch, was deposed and fled to Parthia (with his wife Alexandra III).

Ant. 16.4.1-3; 87-126; War 1.23.3; 452-54

9

On his return trip from Rome, Herod stops in Athens, and donates funds to endow the then ailing Olympic Games. He is given the position of president of the celebration. Then, on his way to Jerusalem, Herod visited Archaleus, Alexander’s father-in-law. Back in Jerusalem, Herod announced publicly his intention to divide his kingdom among Antipater, Alexander and Aristobolus.

 

M. Agrippa died.

War 1.21.12; 426-28; Ant. 16.5.3; 149; 16.45-6; 127-35;  War 1.23.4-5; 455-65

8

Herod celebrates the completion of the rebuilding of Caesarea and the Outer Temple, but his building projects are emptying his coffers. Herod plundered the tomb of David and Solomon but was blocked by an apparition. Revolt against Herod in Trachonitis.

 

Herod invests Antipater, Aristobuls, and Alexander with “insignia of Royalty”. Aristobulus’ son Agrippa born.

Ant. 16.5.1; 136-41;179-83

7

Dissension reaches a new peak in Herod's court with more in-fighting, accusations, and back-stabbing. Herod began to believe everything that he heard about everyone. Charges are made and plots unfold. Under torture, three of Herod’s eunuchs disclosed that Alexander is hostile to Herod and has made preparations to assume the kingship. Herod sends spies, and soon everyone is betraying everyone else, even those who are innocent. Many die under torture to extract from them incriminating evidence. One associate of Alexander revealed under torture that Alexander and Aristobolus had a plan to kill Herod. Herod imprisons Alexander and tortures more of Alexander's associates getting more confessions and accusations. Herod believes this report and Alexander discloses that Pheroras, Salome and many of Herod's trusted "friends" are involved. Some were imprisoned; others he executed. 

Ant. 16.7.2-6; 188-228; 16.8.1-5; 229-60; War 1.24.1-6; 467-87; 488-98

7

Archaleus went to Jerusalem and convinced the easily confounded Herod that Alexander was not disloyal. Herod blamed the conspiracy on and his brother Pheroras, but they reconciled. Herod, grateful for Archaleus’ assistance, travels with him to Antioch on his way to Rome.

Ant. 16.8.6; 261-70; War 1.25.1-6; 499-511

7-6

After returning from Rome, Herod warred with the Arabs who had given refuge to brigands from Trachonitis and who refused to pay a debt owed to Herod. Syllaeus, the Arab leader, complained to Augustus about Herod’s attack. Augustus was angered that Herod took military action without permission outside of the borders of his kingdom and Augustus couldn’t be assuaged. Herod sent a delegation led by Nicolas (of Damascus) who was successful in restoring Herod to a position of favor by proving that Syllaeus had lied. Nevertheless, relations with Rome continued to sour.

Ant. 16.9.1-4; 271-99; 9.8; 335-55; 

6

Eurycles from Lacedemon arrived at Herod's court and managed to inveigle his way into the in-fighting of Herod’s clan. An incriminating letter allegedly written by Alexander surfaced and Herod puts the brothers in chains before sending a delegation to Augustus to bring charges against them.

 

Herod sent troops to destroy Qumran. The community is temporarily disbanded.

 

Joseph and Mary betrothed.

Ant. 16.10.1-7; 300-34; War 1.26.1-27.1; 513-36

5

Augustus advises Herod to convene a council at Berytus to determine what should be done about Alexander and Aristobolus. It was revealed at that time that Alexander had the support of some of the military, with whom he had conspired to kill Herod. Herod has his sons executed in Sabaste and certain members of the military killed for their involvement.

Ant. 16.11.1-7; 356-94; War 1.27.1-6; 536-51

5-4

Jesus is born to Joseph and Mary.

 

4

Antipater was named Herod's successor and he arranged marriages for the children of  Alexander and Aristobolus to prevent them from contending with him for power. With supremacy in the court and the support of Pheroras, Antipater grew increasingly bold. But they favored the Pharisees and Salome favors the Sadducees. She went to Herod to report on the activities of Antipater's supporters and Herod has the Pharisees (who had made a prediction of his dynastic demise) killed. .

 

Herod also ordered Pheroras to send his wife away, but he refused. So   Herod told Antipater and his mother to have nothing to do with Pheroras or his wife, but secretly Antipater continues to meet with them. Antipater decided to go to Rome and avoid the intrigue.

Ant. 17.1.1-3; 1-22; 2.4-3.2; 32-53; War 1.28.1-29.2; 552-73

4

Antipater presented Herod's will to Augustus naming him as successor. Herod’s son by the second Mariamme, named Herod, is listed as the second in line to the throne.

Ant. 17.3.2; 54-57; War1.29.2-3; 573-77

4-3

Herod finally banished Pheroras and his wife, and Pheroras soon died. Herod found evidence that Pheroras had been poisoned at the instigation of Syllaeus. He also discovered the depth of Antipater's animosity to him, and that both Antipater and Pheroras had met secretly.

 

Antipater, still in Rome, had forged letters sent to Herod incriminating two of Herod's other sons (Archaleus, son of Malthrace, and Philip, son of Cleopatra of Jerusalem) studying in Rome. Antipater didn’t know  of the disclosure of his plot to kill his father.

 

Herod banished Doris from the court, because she was identified as the major cause of the dissension. Under torture Herod learned of more plots against him and so he divorced Mariamme and removed her son, Herod, from his will.

 

Herod Kills his sister Salome’s husband, forces her to marry another and then kills him. Salome then married Alexas.

 

He also removed his father-in-law, Simon, as High Priest in favor of Matthatias ben Theophilus from Jerusalem.

 

When Antipater returned to Jerusalem, he learned of his plight. Herod and Quintilius Varus, proconsul of Syria, convene a council to determine Antipater’s fate. Antipater was found guilty and placed in chains. Herod sends envoys to Augustus with a letter accusing Antipater.

 

Joseph and Mary flee to Egypt.

Ant. 17.3.3; 58-60; War 1.29.4; 578-81; Ant. 17.4.1-2; 61-78 War1.30.1-7; 582-600

 

Jerome

3

According to the NT (Matt.) Herod orders that all infant boys (two years old or younger) be killed in Bethlehem. Augustus remarked that "it was better to be Herod's pig than his son" (a Greek pun). Herod executed Aristobolus, Alexander and Antipater.

Matt 2:13-18; Saturnalia 2.4.11

2

At nearly 70 years of age, Herod rewrote his will to name Antipas as his heir, bypassing his two eldest sons, Archelaus and Philip. Herod became seriously ill and rumors started that he had died. Judas and Matthias, two "most learned of the Jews and interpreters of the ancestral laws" induce some of their students to pull down an idolatrous golden eagle placed by Herod over the great gate of the Temple. Herod punishes Matthias and Judas - some others involved are executed. Herod also removes the High Priest Matthias, since he believes that he was involved, replacing him with Joazar, the brother of his second wife named Mariamme.

Ant. 17.6.1-4; 146-67; War 1.32.7-33.1-5; 645-56

1

As Herod's illness worsened and cures are not working, he devises a plan to order hundreds of leading Jews to be led into the hippodrome where, upon his death, they would be killed. Jews would lament even if it was for him.

 

Augustus sent a letter to Herod giving him permission to deal with Antipater as he sees fit. Rumor spreads (again) that Herod has died and when Antipater hears of it he tries to bribe a guard to release him. The guard informed Herod who then had Antipater executed. Herod changed his will so that Antipas was designated as tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, Philip as the tetrarch of Trachonitis, Batanaea and Paneas, and  Archelaus as tetrarch Judea and Samaria. Salome was to receive Jamnia, Azotus and Phasaelis.

 

Herod died in Jericho five days after Antipater's execution (March). Before Herod's death became widely known, Salome and her husband Alexas released the leading Jews who had been assembled in the hippodrome. Herod received a splendid funeral and was buried at the Herodion.

 

Prince Simon V and Athronges launched bids for the throne.

 

A revolt begins in Gallilee and the leader Hezekiah the Zealot was captured and killed. He was succeeded by his son Judas.

Herod Antipas took over rule of Galilee and the east bank of the Jordan as a tetrarch; Philip became tetrarch of the Golan heights in the north-east; and Archelaus became the ethnarch ('national leader') of Samaria and Judaea.

Jacob (James) is born to Joseph and Mary.

Ant. 17.6.5-6; 168-81; 17.7; 182-87; 17.8.1; 188-92; 17.8.2-3; 193-99;War 1.33.5-6; 656-601.33.7; 661-641.33.7-8; 664-691;33.8-9; 665-73

 

There was no year 0 - The Common Era Begins

 

1

   

2

Simon is born to Joseph and Mary

 

6

Archelaus is deposed and replaced with prefects/procurators. Annas appointed high priest.  

7

Joseph and Mary move from Egypt to Galilee.  

13

Tiberias is made “colleague” to Augustus.

 

14

An imperial edict is issued prohibiting divining and astrology.

 

15

Augustus dies. 

 
 

Tiberias became the third Roman Emperor

 
     
 

 

36

 
     
     
     
 

Jesus and followers return to Jerusalem for Passover. Jesus is arrested by the Romans and Pilate orders him crucified as a rebel.

 

 

 (*=significant apparent disagreement in sources)

 



[1] A calendar obtained by extension earlier in time than its invention or implementation is called the "proleptic" version of the calendar and thus we have both proleptic Gregorian and proleptic Julian Calendars.

[2] Placing the Sun, not the Earth, at the center.

[3] The average length of a year in the Julian calendar is 365.25 days (one additional day being added every four years). The difference of the length of the Julian calendar year from the length of the solar year accumulates so that after about 131 years the calendar is out of sync with the equinoxes and solstices by one day. Thus, the Gregorian “calendar reform” in 1582 that omitted ten days and changed the rules for leap years.

[4] To be achieved by inserting two additional months between the end of November and the beginning of December.

[5] There were politics involved here since the Roman senate started its annual session on January 1st , the start of the Roman civil year.

[6] The idea of “Anno Domini” and “Before Christ” might be fine for those who view Jesus as God and Messiah, but is inappropriate for general use. Thus, we have “before the common era” (BCE) and the “common era” (CE).

[7] Of course, the Jews have their own calendar and dates can also be examined from it. See http://www.hebcal.com/converter/?gd=1&gm=1&gy=0001&g2h=Compute+Hebrew+Date&hd=23&hm=Tevet&hy=3762

[8] Although this date is disputed – see “Herodian Messiah”, Jospeh Raymond, Tower Grove Pub., 2010, pp. 49-66.

[9] In 1839, David Strauss broke new ground in “Das Leben Jesu” (the Life of Jesus) by rejecting the Christian apologetic arguments and affirming that Luke's account was fiction:"we have before us two [Matthew and Luke] equally unhistorical narratives … composed … quite independently of each other… intended to show the birth of Jesus as a fulfillment of prophecy.” See “Luke vs. Matthew on the Year of Christ's Birth” by Richard Carrier, Ph.D. (2006) at http://www.errancywiki.com/index.php?title=Legends&rcid=41896.

[10] One reference states that there were 83 Consuls during the entire reign of Augustus. It was an exclusive title.

[11] See http://www.csun.edu/~hcfll004/succession.html.

[12] A Roman “Legatus Propraetor” was a consul or ex-consul who was generally appointed by the Emperor as governor of a Roman province with the magisterial powers of a praetor. In some cases, this gave him command of four or more legions (1/6th) of the Roman Army. In a province with only one legion, the Legatus was also the provincial governor, but in provinces with multiple legions, the provincial governor had overall command while each legion had its own Legatus.

[13] The governorship of the Syrian province was one of the top such positions because of its strategic importance and wealth. However, the regional procurators were often given great autonomy even though they were lower in rank.

[14] An inscription found in Antioch in the 1700s called the Lapis Tiburtinus. See below and Endnote #1.

[15] As indicated in a coin found in Antioch dated 4 CE. See “Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels” by Paton J. Gloag (2007), p. 281. Accord, “The history of the Jewish people in the age of Jesus Christ (175 B.C.-A.D. 135)” by Emil Schürer, Géza Vermès, Fergus Millar (1885;1973; 2000), pp. 258-259.

[16] Justin (2nd Cent.) states that Quirinius was a “procurator” (i.e. hegemon”) at the time of Jesus’ nativity, a note seldom mentioned by historians. Its implication is important because a procurator was normally a personal advocate of the emperor with special authority quite distinct from or beyond that of the residential governor. Some interpret this to refer to a position he held under the governorship of Sentius Saturninus where he could have conducted the census asserted by Tertullian (in “Against Marcion” 4:7) (3rd century). It’s a stretch.

[17] See http://www.livius.org/su-sz/sulpicius/quirinius.html and http://www.biblicalchronology.com/census.htm.

[18] "Thus in 6 or 7 C.E., Augustus commissioned the newly appointed Legate of Syria, Quirinius, to carry out the census." "The Jewish people in classical antiquity: from Alexander to Bar Kochba” by John Hayes, John Haralson, and Sara R. Mandell (1998) pp. 153-154.

[19] “The Expansion of the Empire under Augustus” by Erich S. Gruen in The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume X: The Augustan Empire, 43 BC - AD 69, (1996).

[20] From www.roman-empire.net/society/society.html.

[21]  “The new Schaff-Herzog encyclopedia of religious knowledge: embracing Biblical, historical, doctrinal, and practical theology and Biblical, theological, and ecclesiastical biography from the earliest times to the present day” by Johann Jakob Herzog, Philip Schaff, and Albert Hauck (1908), p. 494.

[22] From a document written in Greek found in Egypt in 1905 dated to the end of the first century.

[23] “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose (in the east) and have come to worship him.”(Matt. 2:2).

[24]  Note "The Magi and the Star" by Simo Parpola in Bible Review, December 2001, p. 16-23, and p. 52 & 54 – suggesting a December date. See “The Pentecost Revolution: The Story of the Jesus Party in Israel” by Hugh Schonfield (1974) p. 55.

[25] For full discussion of this topic (that I partly disagree with), see “New Testament Chronology” by Kenneth F. Doig (1990), ch. 12.

[26] Tiberius assumed power as early as 4 CE (with the death of the heir Gaius Caesar and Augustus’ adoption of him). However, Augustus lived until either 10 or 14 CE. Some place the time of Tiberius’ reign as early as 1 CE under the practice of antedating imperial reigns. Since the Roman custom was to count the first full calendar year of an emperor's reign as year one, the start of Tiberius’ reign could range from 1 to 15 CE. Note http://www.biblicalchronology.com/tiberius.htm.

[27] For analysis of the age of Jesus at baptism, see “At What Age Was Jesus Baptized?” By David Tidd at http://www.bereanbiblesociety.org/articles/1031594566.html. I would argue that the date for the start of Tiberius’ reign is either 13 or14 CE depending upon how that is figured – from the date he was awarded the throne or the date he actually took control. See http://www.roman-emperors.org/tiberius.htm.

[28] “The Oxford Companion to the Year: An Exploration of Calendar Customs and Time-reckoning” by Bonnie Blackburn & Leofranc Holford-Strevens (2003) p.770.

[29] http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2009/11/01/Once-More-Quiriniuss-Census.aspx).

[30] Dating the death of Jesus has become increasingly important to those who are attempting to fix the prophesized “end-of-days”, “apocalypse” or “rapture”. They’ve been getting it wrong for 2,000 years using the same twisted logic and “facts”.

[31] I have relied heavily upon the timelines and dating of the Ryrie Study Bible (Expanded Edition – Moody Bible Institute) NASB (1995 Update).

[32] From St. Jerome’s (Hieronymous) Chronological Tables for Olympiads 170-203 (Armenian Translation).

[33] The Jewish Encyclopedia as reproduced at JewishEncyclopedia.com. (“JE”).

[34] Flavius Josephus, the Jewish-Roman Historian, “Josephus” hereafter. Cites to his primary works are noted only by “Ant.” For “Antiquities of the Jews” and “Hist” for “History of the Jews”

[35] “The Biblical World”, Volume 10 edited by William Rainey Harper, Ernest De Witt Burton, Shailer Mathews (1897), p. 128. (“TBW”).

[36] Since almost all of the dates during the century of the Hasmoneans come from Josephus and the Books of the Macabbees, I will not cite these sources.

[37] Here I will begin denoting ancestors of Jesus with enhanced text.

 

 

 

 

 


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