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Opinion talk:The Ussher and Thiele Chronologies Compared

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Why was this put up so hastily?

From Latent 03:30, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

I feel that all the objections to the Thiele/McFall system have a ready answer that is completely consistent with Scripture, and I wonder why this judgment was made without giving some consideration to the various points I had been making on the Thiele discussion page. For example, it was said that the Scripture should have said that a king was made viceroy, instead of saying he was made king, and so coregencies are ruled out. But I pointed out that there is no word for coregency in Hebrew, and, if Temlakos had asked me, I could have told him that neither is there any word for viceroy. Biblical Hebrew simply had no expression to say what is being demanded of it here. I feel this is unfair.

I also think that I should have been given a chance to show that all synchronisms in the modified Thiele/McFall system have an exact correspondence with tables that I was about to present, and just a few hours ago said I would present. But now it probably won't do any good; the case is closed.

On my part, I see that there are discrepancies that do not appear to have any solution in the Ussherian chronology. I have just come from the chronology dispute page, where I asked some quesitons about these, as Temlakos suggested I do. When I left that page I noticed that he had created this new page without waiting for my demonstration that all, all! Biblical synchronisms fit into the modified Thiele/McFall system. Neither are there any special unreasonable assumptions. I also said that I could provide recent scholarship that supported Thiele's contention that Pekah was a rival to Menahem and Pekahiah. I feel that this recent scholarship is sound and faithful to several texts of the Bible. It was only a few hours ago that I left off the discussion, saying I would return and show this scholarship. But now it's no use; the judgment has been made. I feel every one of these criticisms could have been answered, and this summary judgment was premature.

Why was it decided that I really didn't have anything to contribute about the Pekah question?

Latent 03:30, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

A time for calm reflection

An essay is not the same as an official administrative imprimatur. Had I put the essay on a project page, and gotten Mr. Ashcraft to sign off on it, then Latent would have legitimate grounds for the complaint he made. As it is, when I write on that Essay namespace, the views I express there are my own and do not represent those of that abstraction that we call "the administration."

And as for the case being closed: Well, when I'm defending a point of view, of course I'm going to express that defense with the confidence it deserves. But that doesn't make the case closed. As I said, I'm writing in the Essay namespace, not the Project namespace. Mr. Latent can write an essay of his own. Publishing it to the Essay namespace is easy: just preface the title with the expression "Essay:" and leave no space beyond the colon.

Now as regards the content of the essay:

  1. True enough, Hebrew has no word for the concept viceroy, meaning one who rules in the name of the reigning sovereign and who for all intents and purposes is the sovereign. Ancient coregents did have the same dignity. But Hebrew does seem to have an expression that translated as "when such-a-one was still king in such-a-realm." That expression appeared in 2_Kings 8:16 .
  2. Mr. Latent still has his opportunity. And more than that, he now has the benefit of seeing all the objections that I have raised against the Thiele/McFall system. And in fact, I'm going to hand my essay to my pastor to see whether he has time to review it; perhaps he can answer the riddles.
  3. I addressed the apparent discrepancies by interspersing some comments in the text that Mr. Latent had left at Talk:Biblical chronology dispute. Anyone wishing to see those replies can look there, at the bottom of the page.
  4. Regardless of any extra-Biblical support for a Menahem-Pekah rivalry, the key facts remain that the math as stated in the Bible doesn't add up for Pekah's assassination, Hoshea's subsequent rule beginning "in the twelfth year of Ahaz," and Hezekiah's beginning-of-reign "in the third year of Hoshea."
  5. And as regards the rivalry: Why does not the Bible repeat the phraseology used to describe the Omri-Tibni rivalry, in which "the people of Israel divide, and half follow the one, and the other half follow the other"? 1_Kings 16:21-22

Perhaps I ought to have mentioned a "zeroth principle" on which to judge a chronology: Occam's razor. In this case, it ought to read, "One does not infer non-explicit things from Scripture without sufficient warrant from elsewhere in Scripture."--TemlakosTalk 12:31, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

Responses of Latent to Temlakos's comments

From Latent 20:53, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Temlakos: (1) True enough, Hebrew has no word for the concept viceroy, meaning one who rules in the name of the reigning sovereign and who for all intents and purposes is the sovereign. Ancient coregents did have the same dignity. But Hebrew does seem to have an expression that translated as "when such-a-one was still king in such-a-realm." That expression appeared in 2_Kings 8:16.

Latent: That expression is indeed found in 2 Kings 8:16. And there are other ways of expressing that a coregency was instituted, such as in 2 Kings 15:5, 2 Chronicles 23:1, and 2 Chronicles 11:22. All these indicate the founding of a coregency. Coregencies were a wise policy, and for the southern kingdom that policy was followed by most of the kings between Asa and Manasseh. We do not have the right to insist on a particular way of wording something and then say that only in these cases would a coregency be recognized.

For chronological discussions, the important point is whether the years given in Scripture for a king's reign are to be measured from the start of the coregency or from the start of the sole reign. Here we have two choices: either we let the Scriptural data determine the answer to this question, or we insist that it always had to be done "our way" (whichever way that may be). This first choice (let the Scriptures determine) was taken by Thiele and McFall. The latter choice (we know beforehand what should have been done) was taken by the Seder Olam, the Talmud (always measured from sole reign), and Gershon Galil (always measured from coregency). Was it also taken by Ussher? No one who took the latter choice has produced a chronology that matches all the Scriptural texts. Latent 20:53, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Temlakos: (2) Mr. Latent still has his opportunity. And more than that, he now has the benefit of seeing all the objections that I have raised against the Thiele/McFall system. And in fact, I'm going to hand my essay to my pastor to see whether he has time to review it; perhaps he can answer the riddles.

Latent: Thanks for explaining the place of an Essay in CreationWiki. I appreciate now that it was not meant to be the last word. Until I write a corresponding essay, you may refer to what I wrote in the Edwin Thiele article. Maybe you'll show that to your pastor also? Latent 20:53, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Temlakos: (3) I addressed the apparent discrepancies by interspersing some comments in the text that Mr. Latent had left at Talk:Biblical chronology dispute. Anyone wishing to see those replies can look there, at the bottom of the page.

(4) Regardless of any extra-Biblical support for a Menahem-Pekah rivalry, the key facts remain that the math as stated in the Bible doesn't add up for Pekah's assassination, Hoshea's subsequent rule beginning "in the twelfth year of Ahaz," and Hezekiah's beginning-of-reign "in the third year of Hoshea."

Latent: The math works out exactly. Pekah was assassinated in the six-month period beginning in Tishri of 732 BC, i.e. the six months between Tishri 1 of 732 BC and Nisan 1 of 731 BC. Hoshea's 9 years began at this time, ending in the six-month period beginning in Nisan of 723 BC. Hoshea's death was therefore before the death of Shalamaneser V, who died in December of 722 or January of 721. That it was Shalmaneser, not Sargon, who captured Samaria is shown by a damaged Assyrian text about Shalmaneser, saying that he 'ravaged' Samaria. Sargon’s claim to have been the one to capture Samaria (that is, the initial destruction) was only made late in his reign. That this claim was false was shown by Hayim Tadmor, as I explain on the Thiele page. Thiele’s chronology for Hoshea has therefore found verification from discoveries by Assyriologists that appeared after Thiele published his dates for Hoshea. This once again contradicts the unfounded claim that Thiele was deriving his chronology from secular sources and imposing this on the Scripture. Notice that Tadmor’s finding that Sargon did not have any campaigns in the west in 722 or 721 does not allow Ussher's date of 722 for the death of Hoshea.

Pekah began his rivalry with Menahem in Nisan of 752 BC. The math here works out so exactly that it is possible to given the exact month. Thiele, in a desire to simplify things in his third edition, omitted the logic that demonstrates how this exact month was derived from the relevant Scriptural texts. This logic is explained in his 2nd edition. The exactness in getting the month when Menahem started could not have been invented by Thiele or anyone else, but it follows logically if we accept that the Scriptural dates of the Masoretic text are both authentic and precise. For anyone who wants to investigate this, check it out in Thiele's 2nd edition. In this and other matters, please read Thiele and don't just take somebody's word for what Thiele said.

That there were two kingdoms in the north at this time was presented by J. H. Cook in a 1964 article in Vetus Testamentum. This was based largely on various Scriptures in Isaiah and Hosea that showed that there were two distinct kingdoms in the north in the period from about 750 to 730. One kingdom was called Ephraim and the other Israel. Although 'Ephraim' was used as a synonym for Israel in some places in Scripture, Cook showed why this was not the case in the Scriptures he presented. More recently, a Jewish scholar (Nahum Sarna I think; I could look it up if anyone is interested) argued from a historical interpretation of the Scriptures that Pekah was in control of Gilead while Menahem ruled in Samaria. It is somewhat tedious to relate all that has been written on this, since most of the readers here will stop reading. However, I will quote from a 2004 article in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. This article says, "Thiele and Cook could have said more about one verse in Hosea that clearly distinguishes Israel and Ephraim as different entities at the time that Hosea wrote, and which therefore provides a definitive biblical support for the brief existence of two rival kingdoms in the north. That verse is Hosea 5:5, which appears as follows in the MT [Masoretic Text; the verse is then printed in Hebrew, after which: ] . . . for which a literal translation is "and the pride of Israel testifies against him (to his face). Both Israel and Ephraim will stumble in their sin; Judah also stumbled with them." . . . neither of these commentators [Cook or Thiele] remarked on the construction of the second line, where "Israel" and "Ephraim" are both preceded by a vav. This is the normal mode of expressing "both . . . and" in Hebrew, and it shows that the construction "Israel, even Ephraim" taken by many translations is not warranted. The LXX translates this literally, using kai . . . kai, which is the Greek way of expressing "both . . . and.""

Can I put this on the Pekah page? It seems too long for inclusion here. But all the information about Pekah, including the Scriptural references, are explained by one simple principle (Occam's Razor): Pekah became a rival to Menahem in Nisan of 752 BC. This is simpler than any other explanation of the Scriptural chronology and the Assyrian data for this period that I have seen, including those that throw out the Assyrian data because it contradicts their scheme. (Throwing out data is not simplification; you need to explain the reasons for doing so, and such explanations make things more complicated than just accepting solid data.)

See what McFall wrote on the twelfth year of Ahaz in 2 Kgs 17:1 in his 1991 BSac article, p. 33. Here he was following an explanation of this verse given by Edmund Parker in Andrews University Seminary Studies 6 (1968) pp. 129-133. The Hebrew of this verse must be read and understood to appreciate the argument. This is one of two possible interpretations of this verse that is consistent with the basic Thiele/McFall chronology; for the other interpretation see Kenneth Kitchen and T.C. Mitchell in the New Bible Dictionary, 1st. ed., p. 220, R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the OT pp. 734, 736, or Eugene Merrill, Kingdom of Priests p. 403. I would explain all this but this has gotten too long. Latent 20:53, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Temlakos: (5) And as regards the rivalry: Why does not the Bible repeat the phraseology used to describe the Omri-Tibni rivalry, in which "the people of Israel divide, and half follow the one, and the other half follow the other"? 1_Kings 16:21-22. Perhaps I ought to have mentioned a "zeroth principle" on which to judge a chronology: Occam's razor. In this case, it ought to read, "One does not infer non-explicit things from Scripture without sufficient warrant from elsewhere in Scripture."--TemlakosTalk 12:31, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

Latent: See my comments above about the impropriety of insisting that something in Scripture always has to be stated in exactly the same way. The inference of the rivalry is a proper inference from other Scriptures, as shown by Cook. As I remember, there was also at least one interpreter who determined this from the Scriptures long before Cook. And Hoshea 5:5 is explicit that there were two kingdoms in the north at this time.

Latent 20:53, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Response by Temlakos to Latent, 15 September 2008

Concerning the various items:

1. The three verses named (2_Kings 15:5 , 2_Chronicles 23:1 , and 2_Chronicles 11:22 ) each talk about a different thing, in a different context. True enough, Uzziah did have to devolve some of the powers and duties of his office onto his son Jotham. But to say that Jotham actually began to reign at that time, one has to put that into the proper year of a king of the Northern Kingdom. And in this case, it would have had to be the second year of Pekah, as stated. Jotham is listed as beginning to reign in the second year of Pekah, and then Pekah is assassinated in the twentieth year of Jotham, meaning in the twentieth year after he began to reign. Now while the Thiele system does show Jotham beginning to reign in the second year of Pekah, it shows Pekah being assassinated in the eighteenth year of Jotham, or at most the nineteenth, not the twentieth. Furthermore, the Thiele system gives Jotham two additional years of total reign, above and beyond what Scripture says, and even has Jehoahaz I (Ahaz) ruling for nineteen years altogether, not the sixteen quoted in Scripture.

From Latent 15:24, 19 September 2008 (UTC) See the table below, and the explanation following, to show how these verses all present a consistent chronology with no interregna necessary.
It is not wise to insist that a Biblical author always has to do things in a certain way. Where is the rule found that some information about the beginning of a reign must always contain a synchronism to the other kingdom? For example, 2 Kings 14:21 says that Azariah was 16 years old when he began to reign, but no synchronisms here is given to a king of Israel. As we discussed before, this refers to his age when he became coregent, not when he began his sole reign. Regarding the confusion expressed about Pekah, see the table below. Pekah is not assassinated in the 18th year of Jotham, but the 20th. Thiele's chronology needs to be presented fairly and clearly, and that is best done if we use a more exact notation, as McFall did, instead of Thiele's notations of dates in a form like 931/30. Latent 15:24, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

Here again we see the inconsistency of method: sometimes the regnal periods are the periods of sole reign; sometimes they are the combined years of sole reign and co-regency. I have always been prepared to pass along the respectful suggestion that Edwin Thiele and his followers ought to have made up their minds which policy they prefer.

From Latent 15:24, 19 September 2008 (UTC) I would respond that the fault is not with Thiele, but with the ancient scribes. They had no such rule as this that we might like to force on them. This is known from Egyptian history: Egyptologists have to figure out from the various lengths of reign whether a king's years were measured from a coregency or from a sole reign. If we want to insist that it was always done way, we will only be forcing our modern presuppositions on ancient texts. That is never a good idea. It is always better to let the texts themselves determine for us the methods used by the scribes. Latent 15:24, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

Concerning that second verse, that has nothing to do with any co-regency. That has to do with the high priest of Jerusalem seeking to overthrow the wicked Queen Athaliah and place seven-year-old Joash on the throne. Recall that on the day that Joash was crowned, Athaliah cried "Treason!"—and oh, that was rich—and Jehoiada had her executed summarily and forthwith. That he didn't have it done on the spot was only because he didn't want to profane the Temple. The Queen is dead; long live the King.

From Latent 15:24, 19 September 2008 (UTC) Sorry, I meant 1 Chron 23:1, not 2 Chron 23:1. It is correct in the Thiele article.

The last verse has to do with Rehoboam's plans for his son Abijam. But those plans did not come to fruition until after he was dead. In fact, the Thiele system makes no mention of Abijam actually becoming co-regent or getting any closer to the kingship than being made "high prince" until after Rehoboam was dead.

From Latent 15:24, 19 September 2008 (UTC) Regarding 2 Chron 11:22: It is correct that neither Thiele nor McFall make any reference to Abijam's coregency with Rehoboam, for the simple reason that the Hebrew court recorders measured from his sole reign, and nothing is measured from the year he was appointed as prince among his brothers. As a result, this verse does not figure in chronological calculations. The point was that such an appointment, which can properly be described as an appointment as viceroy or coregent, was a well-accepted practice for the southern kingdom. Latent 15:24, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

2. Your acknowledgment is noted. When you do decide to post your own essay, I'll even add a link to it at Portal:Geology.

From Latent 15:24, 19 September 2008 (UTC) Thanks.

3. Concerning the apparent discrepancy in the length of reign of Jeroboam II and the accession of Uzziah, I have added more clarification. The date that I gave in that table was the date of the co-regency of Jeroboam II, not the date of the death of Joash of Israel. The reason: Uzziah is listed as having begun to reign in the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam II, this although Amaziah outlived Joash of Israel by fifteen years. Twenty-seven minus fifteen makes twelve, and thus I conclude, as did Ussher, that Jeroboam II was indeed co-regent of the Northern Kingdom for twelve years and then reigned for forty years alone. The Thiele/McFall system does show Uzziah beginning to reign as sole ruler "in the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam II." But it also shows Uzziah becoming co-regent at sixteen, and Amaziah, his father, dying twenty-four years later. That gap begs explanation, because the verses that show Amaziah dying have Uzziah becoming king by proclamation immediately thereafter, and Uzziah was sixteen years old at that time, not twenty-four years before.

From Latent 15:24, 19 September 2008 (UTC) This depends on the argument that all passages in a given section of the Bible are in strict chronological sequence. This can be demonstrated as false in numerous instances. It is very reasonable that Uzziah was set up by the people of the land (2 Kgs 14:21) at the time that his father was taken captive by Jehoash of Israel. Scripture does not tell how long Amaziah was held captive. If it had been more than a few days, the people would naturally want a new king to reign in his place.
Some older interpreters argued that the vav-conversive (or vav-consecutive) that begins 2 Kgs 14:21 meant that the installation of Uzziah in this verse necessarily followed the death of Amaziah in the preceding verse. This argument has been shown to be invalid, as can be shown from numerous Scriptures. I only mention it here in case someone has been influenced by it. Latent 15:24, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

4. The concern I had about the math involving Pekah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hoshea is this:

A. Jotham began to reign in the second year of Pekah. B. Ahaz began to reign in the seventeenth year of Pekah. C. Pekah was assassinated in the twentieth year of Jotham. D. Hoshea began a nine-year reign in the twelfth year of Ahaz. That would be the twenty-ninth year of Jotham, hence the nine-year interregnum. E. Hezekiah began his twenty-nine-year reign in the third year of Hoshea.

In the Thiele system, Hoshea begins his reign, not in the twelfth year of Ahaz, but the third. And Hezekiah begins his reign, not on the third year of Hoshea, but what would have been the sixteenth had Hoshea lived that long.

So while a hypothetical Pekah/Menahem rivalry might seem to be internally consistent, it is not consistent with the stated points of synchrony with the Southern Kingdom.

Demonstration of the years of Pekah

From Latent 15:24, 19 September 2008 (UTC)
To demonstrate that the synchronisms work out, it will be helpful to use a more accurate notation than the system that users our modern BC years. I will use the Nisan/Tishri notation for this, and then write out McFall's chronology for these kings in that notation. I will also simplify somewhat by just writing the official year which is used for the reckoning, rather than specifying which half-year was intended, as is done in McFall's table. Since it is well established that Judean regnal years began in Tishri, a Judean regnal year will be written as the BC year in which the official regnal year began, followed by a small 't' for Tishri. Example: 932t for the last year of Solomon. The northern kingdom began their regnal year in Nisan, so their regnal year for the first year of Jeroboam I would be written as 931n. This is meant to improve accuracy, and it could be wished that the Ussherian system could be expressed in a similarly precise fashion. As it is, there seem to be various one-year, two-year, and even three-year discrepancies that no one seems to be concerned about.
What follows is this simplification of McFall's chronology for those kings around the time of Pekah, as taken from his latest table at


or rivalry

sole reign


Uzziah 791t 768t 740t 52
Zechariah 753n 753n 6 mo.
Shallum 753n 752n 1 mo.
Menahem 752n 742n 10
Pekahaiah 742n 740n 2
Pekah 752n 740n 732n 20
Jotham 751t 736t 732t 16
Ahaz 735t 732t 716t 16
Hoshea 732n 723n 9
Hezekiah 729t 716t 687t 29
2 Kgs 15:27: Pekah began to reign in year 52 of Uzziah. Coregency years are by non-accession reckoning, so this year would be 792t – 51 = 741t. This agrees with the beginning of the sole reign of Pekah in 740n, since the latter six months of 741t overlaps the first six months of 740n. We get the extra information from this that it was in the first six months of this year that Pekah began to reign. This extra information is a consequence of the fact that Israel's years were offset by six months from Judah's throughout the kingdom period.
Notice that Shallum's one month went across the New-Years day (Nisan 1) of 752 BC. The exactness that determines this is found in Thiele's second edition. It is an exercise in solid logic, similar to modern logic puzzles. Thiele did not invent this; it is a consequence of the way things actually happened. It would be tedious to explain the logic here, but it all works out exactly. Please read Thiele on this, if you can get a copy of his second edition. McFall does not explain the logic.
Item A: Jotham began to reign in the 2nd year of Pekah. 2nd year of Pekah was 752n – 2 = 750n. This overlaps the last six months of 751t, when Jotham began to reign in McFall's system. In other words, the synchronism shows that it was not just any time in 751t, but in the last six months of the Judean year, that Jotham began his coregency with Uzziah. That is why it is marked as "Apr-Sept 750" on McFall's web page.
Item B: Ahaz began in the 17th year of Pekah. 17th year of Pekah was 752n – 17 = 735n. This overlaps the first six months of 735t that is the first year of Ahaz's coregency with Jotham.
Item C: Pekah was assassinated, and Hosea began, in twentieth year of Jotham. Although Jotham is only given 16 years in Scripture, his 20th year is mentioned in 2 Kings 15:30. The 20 years are measured from the beginning of the Uzziah/Jotham coregency and hence are by non-accession counting: 751t – 19 = 732t. This overlaps the second six months of the reign of Hoshea in the above table, 732n. McFall (BSac 1991, p. 32) explains the 20th year as follows: "He [Jotham] resigned (abdicated?) as king in September 735 B.C., but stayed on in some capacity of rule until April 731 B.C. because his coregency years constitute the era by which the synchronism of Hoshea was fixed. He died between September 732 and September 731." An article in the December 2004 issue of JETS gives further light on this from the background of the conflict between the pro-Assyrian faction in Israel that supported Ahaz and the anti-Assyrian faction that supported Jotham and Hezekiah: "[A]ny record such as 2 Kings 16:2 that recognized these last four years for Jotham [736 to 732] must have come from the annals of the anti-Assyrian and anti-Ahaz court that prevailed after the death of Ahaz. Ahaz is given sixteen years in these annals, measuring from the start of his sole reign, instead of the twenty or twenty-one years that he would be credited with if the counting started from 736t, when he deposed Jotham."
Item E: Hezekiah began his coregency (not his sole reign) in the third year of Hoshea. From the table above, this was 732n – 3 = 729n, which overlaps the first six months of the 729t that is given for the beginning of the coregency. His 29 years of sole reign were from 716t to 687t.
Pekah's 20 years are measured from the start of his rivalry to Menahem in 752n, so 752n – 20 = 732n. This is the year that Hoshea began.
Ahaz's 16 years were from 632t to 616t.
Item D deals solely with 2 Kings 17:1. An extended discussion follows.

The 12th year of Ahaz in 2 Kings 17:1

Thiele was unable to understand this verse, and declared it an error in Scripture. It was here, in the reigns of Hezekiah and Ahaz, that he departed from a high view of the inspiration of Scripture. It is also here that later interpreters have found it was Thiele, and not the Scripture, that was in error. Perhaps it was because he only looked at the verse in a modern translation, instead of looking at the original Hebrew, that he charged the Scripture with error. Those who followed Thiele and who interpreted the Scripture so that it did not contradict Scripture may be divided into two camps. Both of these camps offered solutions that should be acceptable to anyone with a high view of inspiration. I will assume that the present readers are not informed on these developments so instead of just citing the authorities and leaving it at that, I will take some time and space here to fill in the details.

Perhaps the most common explanation of the 12th year of Ahaz is that which measures 12 years back from the starting year of Hoshea, 732n, to get 744n or 743n (non-accession counting) as some kind of date in the career of Ahaz. This approach was proposed by Kenneth Kitchen and T. C. Mitchell in NBD and was adopted by R. K Harrison (Introduction to the Old Testament), by Harold Stigers (BETS 1966), and by Eugene Merrill (Kingdom of Priests). These are well-respected names in Biblical scholarship. These authors basically held that the pro-Assyrian pressure put Ahaz in partial control over the anti-Assyrian Jotham at an earlier stage than when Ahaz took full control in 735 BC.

This, however, was not the approach taken by McFall. He adopted the explanation offered by Edmund Parker in AUSS 6 (1992) which is based on a close look at the Hebrew of 2 Kgs 17:2. Some comments will be necessary to explain what the original language says here.

This verse is not in the same form as the usual formula for kings throughout the preceding chapters of 1 and 2 Kings. The usual formula is the following: King A of Judah began to reign in year B of King C of Israel, and he reigned D years in Jerusalem. Vice versa for a king of Israel. There are two verbs in this formula: one for beginning to reign, the other for the years reigned.

2 Kings 17:1 has only one verb, despite most modern translations which make it appear that there are two verbs. The one verb is the Hebrew perfect of the verb malak. As all students of the Hebrew language will know, the Hebrew perfect is usually translated in the past tense. But Hebrew does not have the range of tenses that we are familiar with in English or other Indo-European languages; the Hebrew perfect can be translated as any of the English past tenses, including "reigned" or "had reigned". Malak, in the same form as in 2 Kings 17:1, is properly translated "had reigned" in places like Genesis 36:31 and Joshua 13:10, 12. Parker therefore held that a proper translation of 2 Kgs 17:1, one that was strictly grammatically correct, was the following: "In the 12th year of Ahaz king of Judah, Hoshea son of Elah had reigned nine years in Samaria over Israel."

This is grammatically exact. This rendering of the verse is accepted by McFall, who wrote his doctoral dissertation (later published in book form) on the Hebrew verbal system. There is no rabbit out of the hat here; it is sound grammatical exegesis. The only objection might be that this is different from what we might have expected from the preceding passages. It is indeed different, as pointed out above; the form is different, not just the import. Perhaps it will help us to understand why the text is written this way if we realize that the beginning year of Hoshea had already been synchronized to a king of Judah, in 2 Kgs 15:30. At the end of the reign of a king, we usually expect the new king to be introduced and his starting year, and thereby the death of his predecessor, to be given by another synchronism. But it Hoshea's case there was no succeeding king. The formula for the close of his reign, then, could not follow the usual formula of supplying the next king and a synchronism. Instead, only the synchronism was given, and it applied to the end of his reign, not the beginning.

There are therefore two alternatives to choose from, and as always we need to be very careful that we don't impose our view of how the ancient author "should have done it" on the inspired text. The proper view of inspiration is that the original text (in the autograph) will always found to be factually correct. It does not guarantee that the way we say things should have been done would have always been followed. The way that Parker and McFall have interpreted this text makes it strictly and precisely fit in with the other texts that have been given for the chronology of this time. The reader then can choose between this or the interpretation of Kitchen et al, both of which are consistent with the basic Thiele/McFall approach.

This chronology makes sense of all the Biblical reign lengths. No other chronology for the time between Pekah and the end of Samaria has ever been able to find any consensus among historians. Notice that it also places the fall of Samaria (Hoshea's last year) during the last year of Shalmaneser V, not during the reign of Sargon II, in keeping with Tadmor's demonstration that Sargon had no campaign in the west in 722 or 721 BC.
I would appreciate it if the Ussher chronology for the kingdom period could be put in a table like that above, so we could see more clearly where there were coregencies and where interregna are inserted. Latent 15:24, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

To handle your request: You may add as much material as you need to the Pekah article to set forth Cook's theory and its supporting evidence, in detail. Make sure that you label it as just that—a theory. People need to know what other people have written on the subject, whether those writings are acceptable as a true and correct interpretation of the facts—or not. But I reserve the right to point out those five A-B-C-D-E bullet points that I have just mentioned, to show that the synchronies with key figures in the Southern Kingdom fail in this system.

From Latent 15:24, 19 September 2008 (UTC) Thanks. That is just the way this should be approached, and again I'm appreciative of an environment where alternate views can be expressed, as long as they properly documented and clearly explained. The Pekah article is exactly where this should go.

In regard to this last: I have been watching the Edwin Thiele article quite closely. I have, thus far, not seen anything to explain those five points labeled A-B-C-D-E. Those points are fatal to the Thiele system unless and until someone will present a satisfactory explanation. And it's OK to quote such material here, so long as we attribute what we quote. Be as detailed as you have to be, even if it means breaking out another article.

From Latent 15:24, 19 September 2008 (UTC) The table and discussion above address all five points.

5. I find the Hoshea reference (Hoshea 5:5 ) unconvincing. That could as easily explain the nine-year interregnum that I mentioned earlier. Perhaps Hoshea the Regicide came from the house of Ephraim. And in general, if we lack a consistent method of exegesis, then we can quite literally make Scripture read any way we think is expedient.

From Latent 15:24, 19 September 2008 (UTC) How does Hosea 5:5 explain an interregnum? To me, that is reading something into the verse that most interpreters would never see, if we want to talk about a consistent method of exegesis. Can you name any interpreter who has seen evidence for an interregnum in this verse? I had attempted to show exactly what the Hebrew says, which is that there were two kingdoms in the north and one in the south to contend with. This is straightforward, literal translation and exposition of the text. If Hoshea came from Ephraim, this does not explain two separate entities, Israel and Ephraim, in existence at the same time. The Hebrew says "Both Israel and Ephraim." (If you don't read Hebrew, you may have to take my word for this. The Holman Bible translates it correctly.)
The Scripture does not say that Hoshea was from Ephraim, but let's assume that he was. If Hoshea was king and he came from that part of the kingdom called Ephraim, then saying "both Israel and Ephraim" would be as incongruous as saying "both the United States and Texas." The Hebrew here is straightforward—no twisting of the text, only a simple grammatical rendering. Israel and Ephraim were separate entities when Hosea 5:5 was written. Who ruled over these entities? (I know I need to put this in the Pekah page, along with the further evidence that shows that Pekah formed, in Gilead, a rival reign to Menahem, and there later was a détente because of the Assyrian threat.) So I'll leave this for now, but the verse Hoshea 5:5 stands as a testimony that there were really two kingdoms in the north in the days of Pekah and the prophet Hosea. The both-and construction (double-vav) is found in places like Zech. 5:2, "both its timber and its stones." Latent 15:24, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

And I wouldn't be so quick to rely upon Assyrian steles. Those Assyrian kings had a nasty habit of boasting about having done things that their ancestors actually did, in order to improve whatever the concept was for "approval ratings" as we know them today. (The Pharaohs did the same in Egypt, and that's probably why Egyptian chronology is a total wreck. History as propaganda is a veritable Egyptian invention. History as objective inquiry began with the Bible, and in the secular world with Herodotus.)--TemlakosTalk 03:28, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

From Latent 15:24, 19 September 2008 (UTC)
We need always to understand that boasting would be involved. All historians recognize this. However, the information that can be extracted from the inscriptions can be useful for determining many historical facts. For example, although Tiglath-Pileser may have been inclined to boast about the amount of tribute he received, or the number of the enemy taken captive, he would not state that he took tribute from a certain Menahem of Samaria in the first few years of his reign if there wasn't a Menahem reigning in Samaria at that time. Shalmaneser would not have spoken of Ahab of Israel as commanding so many chariots in the battle of his sixth year if there were no Ahab around in Shalmaneser's 6th year. It is this kind of information that historians use. Someone in this discussion has said that it needs to be seen if the Ussher chronology can be verified from Assyrian sources. But if every Assyrian source is thrown out, how will this ever be done? As it is, the Thiele/McFall chronology is verified by several Assyrian and Babylonian references. It was not derived from those references in the first place, but from the Biblical texts. The majority of these Assyrian and Babylonian references are accepted by virtually all reputable historians. Where are there any Assyrian or Babylonian references that verify the Ussherian chronology, beyond the Babylonian references at the lower end that Ussher used as the starting place? I have given several synchronisms to Assyria and Babylonia that work in the Thiele/McFall system but do not work in the Ussherian system. How many more references are necessary to show that the Ussherian system does not work, and the farther back we go from 587 BC the farther off it gets? Is the whole system unfalsifiable? Latent 15:24, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

Some well established dates in Assyrian and Babylonian history that contradict Ussher's chronology

From Latent 21:45, 18 September 2008 (UTC) I'll address your ABCDE points later. They all have an answer. To me, the following challenges to Ussher's chronology are more serious.

I still have tentative plans to put out an essay on Thiele's chronology. Meanwhile those interested may view the Edwin Thiele article to see the various positive reasons why his chronology has been accepted by many who examine closely the relevant Scriptural passages and who are also acquainted with the findings of secular history. In CreationWiki, however, the chief competitor to the Thiele/McFall chronology is not any of the schemes put forth by secular historians or non-conservative Biblical commentators. Here, instead, it is the Ussherian chronology that is presented as the alternative to the Thiele/McFall system.

I did not want an essay on the reasonableness of the Thiele/McFall chronology to be merely an attack on the Ussherian. As a consequence, I am placing here, on the essay devoted to Ussher, my comments on the deficiencies of the Ussherian chronology. I will not cumber this down with all the references that might be given for the various events in Assyrian and Babylonian history. Those references can be provided later for anyone who is interested. I will instead try to summarize the multitude of problems that anyone familiar with Assyrian and Babylonian history will find in Ussher's chronology. Mostly, this is not Ussher's fault; there has been a great advance in knowledge since he wrote, and his sources were only the written books passed on from classical antiquity. Since then, numerous inscriptions that have been deciphered, the scripts and languages of which were not even understood in Ussher's day. These inscriptions and monuments have greatly advanced our knowledge of what happened, and when it happened, in the first and second millennia BC.

There are numerous points to be made. We can argue about any one of them, but one of the first requisites for debunking what Assyriologists say in these matters is that the critic should have a solid knowledge of the Akkadian language, so that his or her refutation of what Assyriologists state (for instance, in giving the Akkadian equivalent of the names of Hebrew kings) would have any credibility. It is my opinion that the number of instances where the Assyrian or Babylonian chronology contradicts that of Ussher makes it very hard to uphold Ussher's chronology. And let us remember that Ussher, like Thiele, had to provide absolute dates by anchoring, at some point, to secular history. But the knowledge of secular history has advanced greatly since Ussher's day.

The points of conflict:

  1. Ussher's date of 599 BC for the end of Jehoiachin's reign and start of Zedekiah's does not agree with the Babylonian Chronicle's date of 2 Adar (= March 16) 597 BC for Nebuchadnezzar's first capture of Jerusalem and its king Jehoiachin. This date, the most exact of any tying a Biblical reference to an event in secular history, is established from an official Babylonian court record that was translated by Donald Wiseman in 1956. The date fits exactly in the Thiele/McFall chronology. (Wiseman published after the first edition of Thiele's Mysterious Numbers.)
  2. Ussher's date of 712 BC for the 14th year of Hezekiah, during which Sennacherib invaded Judah (2 Kgs 18:13), does not fit the 701 BC date that is well established for the event from Assyrian records. Sennacherib was not on the throne in 712 BC, Hezekiah's 14th year in Ussher's chronology – the Assyrian's reign started in 704. The 701 date fits exactly in the Thiele/McFall chronology.
  3. In 742 or 743 BC, Manasseh gave tribute to Pul, king of Assyria (2 Kgs 15:19). That Pul = Tiglath-Pileser III is proved from Assyrian and Babylonian records, as shown definitively in Thiele, Mysterious Numbers, 3rd. ed., pp. 139-141. There are no ancient records that give this name to anyone besides T-P III. In addition, three ancient royal inscriptions of T-P III tell of his receiving tribute from "Me-ni-hi-imme Sa-me-ri-na-a-a," which is the Akkadian way of expressing "Menahem of Samaria." Although some Assyriologists have dated this tribute to 738 BC, T. C. Mitchell in the Cambridge Ancient History dates it to 743 or 742 BC. The 1994 publication of the Iran Stele has definitely favored Mitchell's dates, which are exactly compatible with the Thiele/McFall chronology. In Ussher's chronology, Menahem died in 751 BC, 16 years before Pul (Tiglath-Pileser) began to reign.
  4. Assyrian records state that Jehu (Hebrew Iehu, Akkadian Ia-u-a) gave tribute to Shalmaneser III in that monarch's 18th year, 841 BC. Thiele used this, along with the Battle of Qarqar in 853 BC (Shalmaneser's 6th year) as the anchoring points to which he attached his already-developed relative Biblical chronology, so naturally Thiele's date is going to agree with this. Recall, however, that in order to get this agreement, Thiele had to go against the majority opinion of Assyriologists. His Biblical chronology in this matter was found to be correct, and the Biblical data thus corrected an error in the previous standard interpretation of the Assyrian Eponym Canon. This remarkable incident should put to rest all opinions that state that Thiele merely bent his chronology to that of the secular historians. In Ussher's chronology, Jehu died in 856 BC, Shalmaneser's 3rd year, and so he could not have given tribute in the 18th year.
  5. Similarly, Ahab's presence at the Battle of Qarqar (we have no need to insist that this be mentioned in the Bible; is the Bible an exhaustive source for everything in ancient history?) 853 BC, was 35 years after Ahab's death according to the Ussherian chronology.
  6. According to Jer. 52:31, Jehoiachin was released from prison in his 37th year of captivity, in the 12th month of the year that Evil-Merodach (Amel-Marduk) came to the throne of Babylon. Amel-Marduk became king in October of 562 BC, so that his official accession year began in Nisan of 562 and ended the day before Nisan 1 of 561 BC. The twelfth month of this year was Adar, in the spring of 561. Using Judah's Tishri-based regnal years, Jehoiachin's first official year of captivity began in Tishri of 598 BC and ended the day before Tishri 1 of 597 BC. His 37th year of captivity, 36 years later, went from Tishri 1 of 562 BC to the day before Tishri 1 of 561 BC. Included in this time is the 12th month of the accession year of Amel-Marduk, Adar of 561 BC. According to Ussher's system, however, Jehoiachin's first year of captivity was 599 BC (using BC years here – does Ussher specify when the year began?), and his 37th year of captivity would be 563 BC, which has no overlap with the Adar of 561 BC that has been established as the 12th month of the accession year of Amel-Marduk.
  7. A series of scholars have examined the list of Tyrian kings found in Menander/Josephus (Against Apion) and in the copies of these lists made in Theodotion of Antioch, Eusebius, and Symmachus. Virtually all these source from antiquity agree on one thing: it was 155 years from the accession of Hiram of Tyre until the flight of Dido from Tyre to found Carthage. The reason for this agreement is that the sources repeat the number 155, and they also say it was twelve years after Hiram became king that he helped Solomon in the start of Temple construction, and 143 years from that time to Dido's flight. This remarkable way of expressing the total number of years has preserved this important information over the centuries in the various copies of Josephus, Theodotion, Eusebius, and Syncellus, even though the years given to the various Tyrian kings, and the spelling of some of their names, differs in the various copies. This information has led several modern scholars to compute the years from the founding of Carthage to the beginning of the building of Solomon's Temple. (References can be given; for now the main scholars are J. Liver, J. M. Peñuela, Frank Moore Cross, and William Barnes.) From this information, these scholars arrive at one firm date for the death of Solomon, assuming that Temple construction began in his 4th year and he died in his 40th year, as the Bible says. That date is 932 BC. Barnes says that this date is exact to within two years. Notice that it is in agreement with Thiele's date of 931 BC for the division of the kingdom, and even more in agreement with the date that McFall, in his revision of last month (August 2008) gives that places the death of Solomon one Tishri-based year earlier than in Thiele's chronology. Here again, the Thiele/McFall chronology has found verification from secular history, whereas the Ussherian chronology places the death of Solomon in 745 BC, 23 years too early to agree with the Tyrian king list.

I realize that the standard defense against these various lines of argument is to try to cast doubts in some way on the scholarship of the Assyriologists and others who have given us these dates and their connections with the Biblical history. Let us remember, however, that Assyriologists and other ancient historians, unless they are firmly committed to a high view of inspiration (which is definitely not the case with almost all of them), have no interest in verifying the Bible. Too often, their bias lies the other way, in trying to find evidence that the Bible cannot be trusted. In essence, then, the above witnesses to the correctness of the Thiele/McFall chronology comes from the testimony of hostile or neutral witnesses. Not only are the witnesses usually hostile; their testimony, spread over a span of history measured in centuries, deals with quite separate events, all converging on one essential truth: the Bible's chronological data, as interpreted by careful scholars like Thiele and McFall, have been shown to be reliable, trustworthy, and accurate.

Which is primary, Scripture or Assyrian/Babylonian scholarship?

To that, only one answer can possibly serve: the Bible is paramount.

I recognize that Edwin R. Thiele's chronology has held up more than has that of any other scholar except Ussher. Indeed, the Thiele chronology is the only one that most Ussherites that I've read find worth contesting.

I also recognize that James Ussher used an anchor point in secular history. That anchor point is the death of Nebuchadnezzar II and the accession of his son Amal-Marduk in 562 BC.

However, as a student of the Bible, I have certain principles upon which I make an unyielding stand:

  1. Whenever secular history contradicts the Bible, secular history must yield to the Bible, and not the other way around. The Bible is either true in whole, or utterly unreliable. And if the Bible says that Hoshea assassinated someone "in the twentieth year of Jotham," and that Hoshea finally began to "reign" "in the twelfth year of Ahaz," and if, furthermore, Hezekiah began to reign "in the third year of Hoshea," then we can take that to the bank. (More on that below.) To reckon king lists in light of extra-Biblical evidence is as grave an error as was the "bad report of the spies" spoken of in the Book of Numbers. We are to interpret circumstance in light of God, never the other way around.
  2. As I stated above, Assyrian monarchs are well-known for taking credit for their ancestors' battles and similar achievements.
  3. In my essay I specifically warned against the logical fallacy titled Your theory does not work under my theory, so your theory must be wrong. I respectfully observe that my learned opponent has fallen into that very trap.

More to the point: I have not yet received an answer to the wholesale violation of synchrony in the reigns, lengths of reigns, and terminations of reigns of Pekah, Jotham, Hoshea, Jehoahaz I, and Hezekiah.

Now part of the problem that the Ussherites have is that James Ussher originally had access to copious materials, all of which were burned when the Library of Dublin caught fire. Therefore Ussher made reference to many materials that are since lost. This, as I will readily acknowledge, invites the accusation, explicit or implicit, that James Ussher made up his secular synchronies out of the whole cloth. I doubt that we shall be able to judge that this side of the Eternal City (Revelation 21-22 ).

Nevertheless the most important source that Ussher had, the Bible itself, survives. Ussher worked out a chronology using very simple math—math for which I can personally vouch, because I worked out the required successions, synchronies, interregna, and two viceroyalties independently of Ussher. Thiele's math does not follow naturally but, by Thiele's own admission and that of the man who is now our resident Thiele scholar, follows from secular dates. This alone proves false Thiele's defense that he was genuinely placing Scripture as primary, for if Scripture must yield to so much as one interval at variance with Scripture, then Scripture is no longer primary. And once again, the reigns of five kings do not synchronize as stated in the Bible—not, that is, according to the Thiele system.

None of this is to say that the material that User:Latent has gathered is not fit for publication. An essay advocating and defending the Thiele system would be appropriate. The views expressed in essays are those of the original authors and in no event constitute administrative directives, even when an administrator (in this case, I) writes one.

When this debate began, I had high hopes for a settlement of the long-running Biblical chronology dispute. If anyone can answer the discrepancies of the Thiele system with "the twentieth year of Jotham", "the twelfth year of Ahaz," and "the third year of Hoshea," such a settlement might still be possible.--TemlakosTalk 03:19, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

I agree completely that Scripture takes precedence over secular theories

From Latent 15:24, 19 September 2008 (UTC) I have repeatedly said that Thiele built his chronology on the Scripture, and only later did he tie it to the absolute dates of secular history. In doing so, he was able to correct some of those secular dates. I do not find it a fair representation of his system to keep saying that he built his chronology on secular history. It is true that secular history has proven the correctness of his basic approach, and from the discussion thus far I haven't seen anywhere that this is true of the Ussherian system. But this only verifies that the Thiele/McFall Biblically based chronology shows the correct way to interpret the Biblical texts. And, as I have also repeatedly said, that approach was basically a grammatical approach that was entirely faithful to the original Hebrew of the Masoretic text.

I had prepared offline a response to Temlakos's earlier questions and I will paste those in now, giving only this summary response to his later entry just above. I will intersperse these answers in the text above where they were asked by Temlakos.

In the Discussion of Problems aritlce, the section on the Divided Kingdom needs to be split into a separate page. Some of the other sections, such as those dealing with Exodus and Judges, also need to be split out.

I know with my entries above that this present discussion has gotten very long, but I thought it necessary to answer fully all the objections, otherwise it would seem there is no adequate answer. It will get longer if anyone tries to answer my objections to the Ussherian system.

This leaves me with some homework: put the Pekah stuff above in the Pekah page. I think it would be good to devote an article to McFall, since his corrections to Thiele's chronology provide the proper area for discussion, not the original Thiele chronology that is generally agreed to be deficient in the time of Ahaz and Hezekiah, and which did not use an exact notation. But I really want to get back to the task I set out to do when joining CreationWiki a few days ago, which was to update the Bryant Wood page that was initially taken from an unreliable source. Maybe I can get to this if Temlekos goes on that camping trip he talks about and is out of touch a few days.

Meanwhile, please remember my requests: that we have the Ussher chronology presented as in my tables above, showing when coregencies started and where interregna were introduced. Also some explanation of the one-year, two-year, and even three-year (Jereboam II and Azariah) discrepancies should be given. And, of course, I wait for any comments on where the Ussher chronology has found any confirmation from Assyrian history and how it can be explained that the Thiele/McFall chronology has found several such confirmations, including some that appeared after Thiele first published. How can this be explained except by the statement that the Thiele/McFall chronology is basically the correct chronology of the divided kingdom? In the scientific method, the convincing proof that a theory is correct is when new evidence, not previously available, comes to light that is in agreement with the theory. It will not do to say that this new evidence shows that Thiele built his chronology on secular history, just because secular history has confirmed it.

Latent 15:24, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

A comprehensive table of the Ussher chronology

Here, as requested, is a table showing the kings of the Divided Kingdoms, from Rehoboam and Jeroboam I up to Hoshea and Hezekiah and the Fall of Samaria.

Name Kingdom Born Viceroyalty or Rivalry Sole Reign or Beginning Death or Endpoint Synchrony
Rehoboam Judah 1016 975 958 Division of kingdom
Jeroboam I Israel 975 954 Division of kingdom
Abijam Judah 958 956 18th year of Jeroboam I
Asa Judah 956 914 20th year of Jeroboam I
Nadab Israel 954 953 2nd year of Asa
Baasha Israel 953 930 3rd year of Asa
Elah Israel 930 929 26th year of Asa
Zimri Israel 929 929 27th year of Asa (7 da)
Tibni Israel 929 925 27th year of Asa (rival after Zimri)
Omri Israel 929 925 918 31st year of Asa (won the war)
Ahab Israel 918 898/7 38th year of Asa
Jehoshaphat Judah 949 914 889 4th year of Ahab
Ahaziah Israel 898? 898/7 896 17th year of Jehoshaphat
Jehoram Israel 896 884 18th year of Jehoshaphat
Jehoram Judah 924 892 889 885 5th year of Jehoram of Israel while Jehoshaphat was still king
Ahaziah Judah 907 885 884 12th year of Jehoram of Israel
Athaliah Judah 927 884 878 Jehu's War
Jehu Israel 884 856 Jehu's War
Joash Judah 885 878 839 7th year of Jehu
Jehoahaz Israel 856 840 23rd year of Joash
Joash Israel 841 840 825 37th year of Joash
Amaziah Judah 859 839 810 2nd year of Joash of Israel
Jeroboam II Israel 836 824 784 15th year of Amaziah
Uzziah Judah 826 810 758 27th year of Jeroboam II measured from his viceroyalty
First Interregnum Israel 784 772 See next king
Zachariah Israel 772 772 38th year of Uzziah
Shallum Israel 772 771 39th year of Uzziah
Menahem Israel 771 761 39th year of Uzziah
Pekahiah Israel 761 759 50th year of Uzziah
Pekah Israel 759 739 52nd year of Uzziah
Jotham Judah 783 758 742 2nd year of Pekah
Ahaz Judah 762 742 726 17th year of Pekah
Second Interregnum Israel 739 730 See next king
Hoshea Israel 730 721 12th year of Ahaz
Hezekiah Judah 751 726 698 3rd year of Hoshea
Fall of Samaria Israel 721 9th year of Hoshea

This side-by-side analysis takes into account all stated regnal periods, ages at accession, and inter-kingdom synchronies.

Ahaziah of Israel probably served as co-regent to Ahab in Ahab's last year. Ahab has one more regnal year than might be explicable solely from the inexactitude of non-accession dating. Similarly, Joash of Israel might have had a one-year co-regency before his father Jehoahaz died.

Jehoram of Judah definitely did serve as co-regent to Jehoshaphat; the Bible says so. The twelve-year coregency of Jeroboam II in the latter part of the reign of Joash of Israel is attested by the declaration that Uzziah acceded to the throne in the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam. Without such a coregency, that would have had to have been the thirteenth year, not the twenty-seventh.

Concerning Amaziah and Uzziah: The Bible plainly says that Amaziah fled away and was hunted down and killed, and his body brought back to Jerusalem slumped over a horse. And then it says that the people acclaimed Uzziah as their king. It also says that Uzziah was sixteen years old, in the selfsame verse. By the Thiele/McFall system, he had actually been sixteen years old twenty-four years earlier.

The First Interregnum of the Northern Kingdom occurred during the long reign of Uzziah of Judah. Jeroboam II began his sole reign in the fifteenth year of Amaziah. Fifteen years after that, Amaziah was dead and Uzziah was on the throne. The length of the sole reign of Jeroboam II is 41 years. Now if Zachariah had succeeded Jeroboam II at once, then that event ought to have taken place in the twenty-fifth year of Uzziah. But the Bible says the thirty-seventh year. Twelve years of discrepancy equal an interregnum, during which time the Northern Kingdom was in such a disordered state that the people could not even be said to divide themselves between champions, as they did in Omri's civil war. (Tibni does not have an article of his own, mainly because the Bible is silent on Tibni's activities other than his contesting Omri for about four years and finally losing.)

Now Menahem began to reign in the 39th year of Uzziah. Pekahiah likewise began to reign in the 50th year, and Pekah in the 52nd. The placement of Menahem and Pekah as rivals in different parts of the Northern Kingdom begs explanation. How can the 39th year and the 52nd year of Uzziah be one and the same year?

The Second Interregnum results from the "twelfth year of Ahaz" problem. The current argument seems to be that the verse announcing Hoshea's accession actually said that Hoshea had been reigning for nine years already, and that this was the same year as the Fall of Samaria. That grammatical point is now under investigation (meaning that I have consulted one whom I consider eminent as a Hebrew grammarian, and I expect an answer within a week or two).

As to Hezekiah, the Thiele/McFall system now seems to suggest that he served a thirteen-year coregency with his father Ahaz. The chief reason for this assumption is that one must account for Hezekiah beginning to reign "in the third year of Hoshea." This ignores the utterly antipodal character of father and son, and of their respective conduct in and of office. Simply put, Jehoahaz I is likely to have trusted his son Hezekiah about as far as he could have thrown him, and indeed Hezekiah must have had supernatural protection from the all-too-common court ritual of, not to put too fine a point on it, murder. This we can gather simply by reading Scripture. Ahaz did that which was evil (and what evil!) in the sight of the LORD, and Hezekiah did that which was right (and what right!). Indeed Hezekiah was the first of the two greatest reformers that the Southern Kingdom ever had (the other was Josiah).

At this time a few other points remain to be answered. I shall answer these later, under a separate heading.

TemlakosTalk 15:09, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

Additional answers to the points raised by Latent

As promised, herewith other answers to the points that User:Latent has raised.

  1. User:Latent declares that his table is self-consistent. Now if one accepts the interpretations that Thiele and McFall (at least, according to Latent) have placed on the relevant verses in I and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles, that would almost be correct. The synchronies of the reigns of Menahem and Pekah, each to a differently named year of the reign of Uzziah, still beg explanation at the time of this posting. Laying all that aside, however, I contend that the interpretations that Thiele and McFall place on the verses in question are strained, counterintuitive, and inconsistent from one case to another, and one king to another.
  2. Latent also declares that 2_Kings 14:21 gives Uzziah's age at the start of his reign, with no synchrony at that time to a king of Israel. However, from other key verses before and almost immediately afterward (except for an intervening set of verses describing the reign of Jeroboam II, we know that Uzziah's father Amaziah outlived Joash of Israel by fifteen years, that in fact Uzziah began his reign "in the twenty-seventh reign of Jeroboam" (actually, we can accept that as fifteen years after the death of Joash by assuming, as did Ussher, that Joash made Jeroboam II his viceroy twelve years before he died), that the manner of Amaziah's death was by political murder, and that the people acclaimed Uzziah king in Amaziah's stead. Now the grammar of that verse certainly seems to this observer that Uzziah was sixteen years old at the time his father died. Perhaps my pastor can shed light on whether that verse lends itself to any interpretation such as that proposed by Dr. McFall, but I have never seen any scholarship other than from McFall that reads that verse in any manner other than the straightforward manner in which I have read it. I remind User:Latent that that straightforward reading prevails in every translation that I have examined in the English language, and at least one translation in a language other than English, namely French. And I quote that verse: « Et tout le peuple de Juda prit Azaria, âgé de seize ans, et l'établit roi à la place de son père Amatsia. »2_Rois 14:21 (LSG)
  3. Latent seems to declare that the ancient scribes were not always consistent in their notation. Yet no scholar, to my knowledge, has advanced any evidence of a definite manner by which one can reasonably infer the original meaning of the text from one case to the next, or one king to the next.
  4. Latent refers to viceregal appointments as accepted practice. As I stated above, four such viceroyalties follow directly from the arithmetic of the stated regnal times and synchronies. In the case of Rehoboam and his son Abijam, this is not mentioned, and I have seen no evidence to show where the stated number of co-regnal or viceregal years came from.
  5. Latent disputes the notion that all verses in any given section must be in strict chronological sequence. But in the case of 2_Kings 14:21 , we have something more radical than suggesting that a few verses were out of order. In that case, a single verse, and indeed a single sentence, is now interpreted as reporting events grossly out of order. Latent also duly notes the appearance of a vav-conversive, and the dispute as to whether that is conclusive or inconclusive. I thank him for mentioning that; my pastor will be most interested.
  6. I have read the table fragment showing Uzziah next to Zachariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, Pekah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hoshea, and Hezekiah. I am curious as to how Thiele and/or McFall might have interpreted a "thirty-ninth year of Uzziah" and a "fifty-second year of Uzziah" as representing one and the same year. (If, as has been alleged, Uzziah began as co-regent twenty-four years before his father died, the discrepancies still don't match, as those numbers are thirteen years apart, not twenty-four.)
  7. The matter of a verb form that could be either perfect or pluperfect has already struck my pastor as, frankly, a new angle that he had never seen before. He has, however, taken due note of it and will investigate that possibility at his earliest opportunity. I note with great interest that Thiele made a very radical assumption, namely that Scripture itself was in error. Now first this is very rich, coming from one who let stand in his own work an error of calculation that implied that Uzziah had been made viceroy eight years before he was born. And second, and more to the point, once we start declaring any part of Scripture to be in error, we make Scripture utterly unreliable. McFall, to his credit, did not, and probably recognized that he could not, let that sort of arrogance stand. Equally to his credit is McFall's decision not to make things any more complicated than he had to. Indeed, a perfect/pluperfect confusion seems a very elegant solution to a very embarrassing lapse. It seems that way, that is to say, at first glance, but that translator after translator, beginning with the Royal Commission on Bible Translation of 1611 (the scriveners of the King James Version) and even including the scriveners of the Geneva Bible, would make the same mistake (if mistake it was), seems odd, to say the least. But then again, I personally disclaim any expertise in Hebrew grammar, and that is why I have consulted an off-line expert.
  8. I also note with more than a slight bit of bemusement the discussion of "anti-Assyrian factions at court." The Bible nowhere mentions such factionalism. Why not? What is the authority for the assumptions of such intrigue? And is it really accurate to say that Ahaz deposed Jotham? The Bible nowhere says, "And Ahaz made conspiracy against Jotham, and slew him, and reigned in his stead, in the seventeenth year of Pekah," though the Bible does say that Pekah and King Rezin of Syria fought a war against Jotham.

I come back again to Occam's Razor. And to that I add this: I and II Kings and I and II Chronicles weren't just "written by scribes in different eras." They constitute part of an Inspired Work. We must assume, therefore, that God Himself spoke on some level to these scribes' minds, and therefore any inconsistency of method would beg explanation just as surely as if we were dealing, not with a set of disparate documents hastily cobbled together (which, by the way, describes the Qur'an), but with a single, unified work by a single Author. Which, in a sense, is exactly What we are dealing with.

TemlakosTalk 23:53, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

First, responses to Temlakos's 8 objections

From Latent 02:26, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

After I had prepared some questions on your table above, I saw your recent entry. I'll quickly supply answers to your objections and then present my comments on your chronological table.

Objection 1: these synchronisms are entirely consistent with the chronology that Thiele derived from the Biblical texts. But see the explanation of the Pekah question that I just placed at the end of the Pekah article. I also show there that both Biblically and from Assyrian records there could not have been an interregnum between Menahem and Hoshea.

Objection 2: I agree completely with these straightforward translations. I don't think you understand what I am saying about this verse. See what I say about objection 5 below.

Objection 3: It is completely artificial to insist that an ancient scribe only had one way of expressing things. Regarding consistency, see my note above that shows that there was no single way in Scripture of expressing a coregency, a fact that you have taken advantage of in the various coregencies posited in your table.

Objection 4: we now agree (we didn't earlier) that coregencies must be inferred from the comparison of texts related to the chronology of the time. As I also said earlier, it is of no importance to any chronological scheme whether or not Rehoboam had a coregency with his son Abijam. Thiele and McFall do not even mention this, and it plays absolutely no part in their computations. Neither does it play any part in my considerations of the chronology of the time. So this issue is irrelevant to what we're trying to do.

For objection 5: I have not maintained that we need to split 2 Kings 14:21 into two parts. I stated earlier that a reasonable time for the people to make Uzziah the king was when his father Amaziah was taken captive. Uzziah was 16 years old at that time, and this began the coregency with Amaziah.

Objection 6: Where did you get that the 39th year and the 52nd year of Uzziah were the same for Thiele or McFall?

Objection 7: It's good you defer to superior judgment on the matter of the Hebrew perfect. McFall, as I mentioned elsewhere, has received recognition for writing an important book that deals with the so-called tense issue in the Hebrew language. A first-year student of Hebrew will learn that such a translation is not only possible, but literal. That previous translators did not translate it as Parker and McFall have suggested, but took the simple past tense, is because the alternative, equally possible, translation did not seem to be required until we understand the chronological issues of the time. All I'm saying is that the Parker/McFall translation is both grammatically possible and is in perfect accord with the understanding of how biblical Hebrew verbs were used. I even gave some examples of how the same word is translated "had reigned" elsewhere in Scripture.

Objection 8: you are requiring that the Bible state things in a particular way or you won't accept them. I think you can read almost any recent commentary on 2 Kings and they will speak of the Assyrian and anti-Assyrian factions. And they derive this historical situation from the Biblical texts.

Now comments on Temlakos's chronological table

That table is really helpful to someone trying to figure out the specifics of the Ussherian chronology. Here are some comments.

  • Your table is frequently off by one year according to strict mathematics, but I suppose that is partly due to the lack of knowledge in Ussher's day about when the ancient scribes started their years. The Thiele/McFall chronology is accurate to within a half year for the starting and ending of most kings' reigns. So the Ussherian system has more room to absorb error. That is alright, but notice that it should make the Thiele/McFall system easier to disprove, because it does not have the luxury of getting things 'almost right.' In other words, the Thiele/McFall system, if it is not correct, should be easier to disprove than a system that allows itself the luxury of "within a year or two is close enough." But let's proceed to weightier matters.
  • You omitted the synchronism that Joram of Israel started in the second year of Jehoram of Judah (2 Kgs 1:17). From your table, the 2nd year of Jehoram of Judah was 892 – 2 = 890 (for coregency) or 889 – 2 = 887 (for sole reign). Neither of these fits your start date of 896 for the start of Joram of Israel.
  • You omitted the synchronism that Hoshea of Israel began in the 20th year of Jotham. According to your table, 20th of Jotham = 758 – 20 = 738, eight years before your starting date for Hoshea in 730.
  • As you know, your table places the birth of Ahaz in 762 and the birth of Hezekiah in 751, when his father Ahaz was 11 years old.
  • You have Hoshea of Israel reigning 7 years, from 730 to 723, but Scripture says he reigned 9 years.
  • You have coregencies that are not stated explicitly in Scripture, so I think we now agree that a coregency is called for when the Scriptural data show there was one, without our demanding any particular formula that must be repeated before we accept a coregency.

In case you haven't seen it yet, I put a new section at the end of the Pekah article that shows how Thiele and McFall handle the various chronological data, and showing the difficulties with trying to account for these data with an interregnum. We can discuss those various issues in the discussion area for that article.

Thanks for putting up the table. It has helped me in understanding better the Ussherian system (I still haven't received the book), and it offers a good meeting ground when we try to work out these knotty problems. I have tried to make my questions very specific to your table, and as you see there are several things there that I find inconsistent with the Scripture, not to speak of Assyrian history.

Latent 02:26, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

And responses

User:Temlakos responds:

  1. I have not gone back to using Ussher's slightly more precise dates, mainly because I was pressed for time. In fact, Ussher gives dates according to an Anno Mundi calendar and quite often suffixes them with the letters a, b, c, or d to stand for fall, winter, spring or summer. The months involved are presumably Eitanim/Tishri, Teveth, Nisan/Abib, and Tammuz.
  2. 2_Kings 3:1 gives the date of reign for Jehoram of Israel on which Ussher, and I, rely. This is "the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat, and is somewhat earlier in time. I'll have to ask my pastor about that as well.
  3. The Bible clearly says that Hoshea killed Pekah in the twentieth year of Jotham. But it also says that Hoshea began to reign in the twelfth year of Ahaz. Those years are nine years apart by the strict and plain reading. Concerning this, Ussher says that Hoshea killed Pekah but then was unable to govern because instead of beginning a nice, comfortable reign, Hoshea succeeded only in plunging his country into anarchy, from which it took nine years to recover.
  4. I have discussed Jehoahaz I before. Yes, he sired his son Hezekiah at the age of eleven. But the question of a very early marriage has already received considerable treatment even in CreationWiki's article on this king. I remind my opponent again that the criminological history of the United States does in fact contain a sad and frankly sick-making case involving a twelve-year-old boy who got involved with an adult woman (who happened to be his schoolteacher!), which woman then fell pregnant by him. The more ancient history of Rome tells of the first marriage of Julius Caesar to Cornelia Cinnae, aka "Cinilla," when they both were in their teens; Caesar's only daughter Julia, who married Pompey the Great, was the product of that marriage. (Cinilla, sadly, died giving birth to this girl.) Therefore I hardly think that the Ussher chronology need fail on this account.
  5. The "seven-year" reign of Hoshea was an unfortunate sequence of typographical errors, which I have since corrected. This places the Fall of Samaria at 721 BC, not 723 as most Assyriologists have it.
  6. The coregencies involved are readily inferable when regnal periods clearly exceed the intervals between the accession of one king and his eventual successor. In the case of Jeroboam II, his twelve-year co-regency that preceded his forty-one-year reign is inferable from the statement that Uzziah began to reign in the twenty-seventh reign of Jeroboam II, while in fact Joash of Israel had died only fifteen years before then. The difference between myself and members of the Thiele camp is that I infer my limited coregencies strictly from Scripture, while they appear to infer them from some need to fit Scripture to Assyrian and/or Babylonian records. (Let them say what they will, but when the chief evidence adduced in this page comes from Assyrian and Babylonian records, I can infer nothing else.)

Now to reply to one question, "where do I assume that the thirty-ninth and fifty-second years of Uzziah must be the same year in the Thiele system": well, does not the Thiele camp state that Menahem and Pekah began their reigns, such as they were, in the same year? And does not Scripture say that Menahem began to reign in the thirty-ninth year of Uzziah, while Pekah began to reign in the fifty-second? How then is that discrepancy resolvable?

Defenders of the Thiele system will no doubt respond that I am being cavalier in my dismissal of the Assyrian and Babylonian evidence. To which I reply, that my having to dismiss this evidence (such as it is) in favor of the plain reading of Scripture is incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial. On the other hand, it is eminently competent, relevant, and material to observe that the plain reading of the text of I and II Kings and I and II Chronicles stood without question for centuries before any modern scholar even cared to admit that such a nation-state as the Assyrian Empire ever existed. (It is indeed a fact that modern scholars refused to admit the possibility of a nation-state called "Assyria," as distinct from the "Syria" of the Seleucid Empire and following, until some enterprising archaeologist found the ruins of Nineveh and started to dig.)

Furthermore, Ussher had access to other source material on the Assyrians and did a quite creditable job of identifying which king of the Assyrians played which role in which administration of the Divided Kingdoms Northern and Southern. The Annals of the World is available for purchase at the Northwest Creation Network on-line store and from other sources, including at "The Dragon Bookstore" at the Creation Museum and Family Discovery Center in Petersburg, KY. Unhappily, James Ussher's original sources were destroyed by fire. I suppose that that means that I am left with only Ussher's word on this. (Yes, that means that I own a copy of Ussher's Annals.) But I worked out the successions and the synchronies myself, using a spreadsheet, and reached the same conclusions that Ussher himself had reached, centuries ago. True, I did not have Assyrian or Babylonian records to "help" me, but I did not think I needed them. And frankly, I still don't.

TemlakosTalk 03:22, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

The Hebrew verbal system and 2 Kgs 17:1

From Latent 23:29, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

Although an alternative interpretation (that of K. Kitchen and others) that is consistent with the Thiele/McFall system was offered, the following is that which I prefer. In response to a request by Temlakos, I am giving here a grammatical study that refers to 2 Kgs 17:1.

The following is from Gary D. Pratico and Miles V. Van Pelt, Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar (Zondervan, 2001). It is typical of what could be found in any introductory Hebrew grammar.

The Perfect conjugation is used to express a completed action or a state of being. When used to describe a completed action (either in reality or in the mind of the speaker), the Hebrew Perfect may be translated by the English past tense (he studied), present perfect (he has studied), past perfect (he had studied) or future perfect (he will have studied) . . . It must be emphasized that the Hebrew Perfect does not have tense (time of action) apart from context and issues of syntax. Rather, it signifies aspect (type of action). The Perfect aspect designates a verbal action with its conclusion envisioned in the mind of the speaker or writer. To state it differently, the Perfect aspect denotes completed action, whether in the past, present, or future.

There is one aspect of the verb that is not mentioned above, but which is relevant to the translation of 2 Kgs 17:1. That is, the Hebrew perfect can also refer to the initiation of an action. In Hebrew, the word for 'to reign' is, in the Qal Perfect, malak. As shown in the quote above, this may be translated as 'reigned,' 'had reigned,' or 'will have reigned', but what is not shown is that the verb, in the same form, is often translated 'began to reign.' In each case, it is the context that determines how it is to be rendered into English, and here it must be the perception and understanding of the translator that decides which translation to use. If the translator does not understand the full context, then a wrong or misleading translation can be given. In such a case, it is not the fault of the original Hebrew that an English-speaking reader will get the wrong sense, but the fault of the translator who did not consider everything in the context before making the translation decision.

In 2 Kgs 17:1, most translations into English translate the Qal perfect verb 'malak' as 'began to reign' instead of the simpler 'reigned' or 'had reigned' suggested from the Pratico and van Pelt quotation above. This leads to a certain awkwardness, however, when translating the rest of the sentence, because there is no other verb in the verse. A literal translation then would be "In the twelfth year of Ahaz, king of Judah, Hoshea son of Elah began to reign over Israel in Samaria nine years." Although "began to reign nine years" is grammatically acceptable in English, I know of no other case in the Old Testament where the verb malak is used in both the sense "began to reign" and also in the sense, at the same time, of "reigned so many years." (If I'm wrong on this, please provide such an instance.)

From Latent 15:45, 30 September 2008 (UTC) I was wrong about this. Examples of where the single verb malak serves the double purpose of expressing both "began to reign" and "reigned" are 1 Kgs 15:33 and 16:8. In 2 Kgs 17:1, however, the simpler translation "had reigned" (only one verbal form necessary in English) is consistent with this translation of malak in 1 Kgs 2:11 (David "had reigned" over Israel 40 years) and 11:42 (Solomon "had reigned" in Jerusalem 40 years). As said previously, not only the simplicity but the extended context favors this interpretation.

For this reason, most translations of this verse supply a second verb (KJV is an exception), although there is no such second verb in the original: "began to reign" in Ahaz's 9th year, and then "reigned 9 years". The fact that most translators felt obligated to provide a second verb whereas the original has only one verb indicates that they were not entirely comfortable with the way this verse is constructed in the Hebrew original.

Now consider a second possibility for a literal translation of the same verse that uses the third of the options presented in Pratico and van Pelt's Hebrew grammar. This would be: "In the twelfth year of Ahaz, king of Judah, Hoshea son of Elah had reigned over Israel in Samaria for nine years." As suggested above, this reads easier to an English-speaking person than the first literal translation. It is in keeping with the use of the perfect, followed by a time duration, that is quite common in the Hebrew Bible. For example, Judges 10:2, "He [Tola] led (or had led) Israel 40 years;" Judges 16:31, "He (Samson) had led Israel 20 years," 1 Kgs 2:11, "David had reigned (malak, the same form and same spelling as in 2 Kgs 17:1) over Israel for 40 years"; 1 Kgs 11:42, "Solomon had reigned (malak) over Israel 40 years," 2 Kgs 17:1, "In the 12th year of Ahaz, king of Judah, Hoshea the son of Elah had reigned (malak) over Israel nine years."

There are therefore two important points to summarize this: the first is that the translation "had reigned" in 2 Kgs 17:1 is just as grammatically acceptable (and I have suggested, more so), than the translation "begin to reign." The second is that it is always context that should determine how a verb in the Hebrew perfect should be rendered in a more tense-specific language such as English, French, or any of the other Indo-European languages. And here it is the larger context, namely the fit of Ahaz's 12th year with the last year of Samaria in the Thiele/McFall system, that shows that the rendering "had reigned" is the preferred rendering. Notice one further thing: Thiele thought 2 Kgs 17:1 was mistaken in its reference to Ahaz's 12th year; he did not derive his starting date of 735 BC for the beginning of the Jotham/Ahaz coregency from this date, and yet this is exactly compatible with the 723 ending date for Hoshea. It was Edmund Parker, followed by McFall, who explained that there was no conflict of 2 Kgs 17:1 with a starting date for Ahaz in 735 when that verse was properly translated.

As has been repeatedly said, the Thiele/McFall chronology is based on a close examination of the Hebrew texts. It is not a chronology derived from without (Assyrian and other data) and then imposed on the Scripture. In this regard, however, McFall has been a better student of what the Hebrew actually says than Thiele was, and his chronology is therefore an improvement that is to be preferred in many instances over that of Thiele. What we should be discussing here is therefore the Thiele/McFall chronology, not just the original chronology as specified by Thiele.

One final objection has been raised: why did not any translator of the Scripture (as far as we know) translate this verse correctly before the time of Edmund Parker? The answer must be that there was not a complete understanding of the context until that time, and it is always context that determines how the Hebrew perfect should be rendered into English. There is another example of how the majority of translations have not rendered properly a Hebrew term, leading to a real misunderstanding of the intent of the original author. I refer to the word toledoth in the first 37 chapters of Genesis. Ever since the time of the LXX, this has been translated as some version of "generations." But the work of Percy Wiseman (see Tablet theory) has shown that this is not consistent with ancient writings from the time of Moses and before: "histories" is a translation that is closer to the original meaning of this word in the first part of Genesis, and this is the meaning that Moses intended when he translated the patriarchal tablets into Hebrew to begin the formation of the Biblical canon. For example, what does "the generations of the heavens and the earth" mean in Gen 2:4? Fortunately, in this case many of the newer translations have realized that "generations," used for thousands of years in translations of the original Hebrew, is not acceptable, and so we find (although not always consistently) that modern translations use the more accurate "account" or "histories".

Latent 23:29, 22 September 2008 (UTC)