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How are these dates arrived at?
Where authorities
conflict, those dates that most closely agree with the information in Holy Scripture have been accepted. Some (such as Solomon's reign) are fixed by correlation with records of events in surrounding nations known to us from archaeology.
 
Some
chronologies, such as that of Sir Robert Anderson (in his The Coming Prince), slip into error by assuming that the 430 years of Galatians 3:17 (from Promise to Law), is the period from Abraham to Moses, whereas Exodus 12:40-41 makes it clear that this was only the period from Jacob's entrance into Egypt until Moses led the people out.
This kind of problem has caused errors in some older chronologies.
 
Some
dates are derived from the time period between two events as referred to in the text of Holy Scripture itself.
As examples –
    430 years: from Jacob's entrance into Egypt – to Israel's Exodus   Exodus 12:40-41; Galatians 3:17.
plus  480 years: from Israel's Exodus – to the start of Solomon's Temple   1 Kings 6:1.
(though the Septuagint, probably reflecting an older Hebrew manuscript gives 440 for the latter)
   = 910 (or 870).
 
Sabbath
Year cycle
 
The
primary calendar reference point here is 37 BC/BCE.
 
 
Herod the Great's attack on Jerusalem in 37 BC, to establish his kingdom, is described in vivid detail by the Jewish historian Josephus. He reports, among others, that the suffering of the inhabitants of Jerusalem was exacerbated by the fact that the year was a Sabbatical Year, that is, they were not permitted to harvest crops.
 
The
Bible tells us that this seven-year cycle to the Sabbatic Year began with the year of Israel's entrance into Palestine under Joshua – the first Sabbatic Year. Confirmation therefore of the year date of entrance (the year Israel crossed the Jordan) would be that it conforms to the cycle of Sabbath-years. Based on the 967 BC date for the Temple construction under Solomon and the 480 year period back to the Exodus, less 40 years journey through the wilderness, is 1407 BC. The Sabbath-year cycle however means that it must have been 1409 (2 year difference) or 1401 BC (5 year difference). I have used the closer date of 1409 BC therefore.
 
The
Jubilee Year
This is calculated (7×7+1=50) assuming the each Jubilee year does not interrupt the Sabbath year cycle, so that the Jubilee years are in effect 49 years apart.
 
An
interesting illustration of determining dates is the calculation of Jesus' birth-date.
There is such a wide variety of opinion on this date (from 12 BC to 1 BC) that the process I've used will be sketched. First the 'what' and then the 'how' –
 
The
year-date of Jesus Christ's birth is determined primarily by these two constraints –
1.  The date of death of King Herod the Great (Matthew 2:19-20).
(Because obviously Jesus' birth was before the death of His would-be murderer).
2.  The date of Tiberius' acceptance of the Roman Senate's invitation to become Caesar (Luke 3:1). This is so because the beginning of John the Baptist's ministry (the herald of Jesus ministry) is given relative to Tiberius' reign.
 
Herod
the Great
The Bible tells us that Herod died after Christ's birth (He was the one who killed the Bethlehem babies). We know from correlation with Roman records that Herod died in 4 BC. From the Bible we know this was while the child Jesus was in Egypt (Mat.2:19).
(Herod's two-years-old-and-under instruction to his murdering soldiers, according to information from the Wise Men as to when the star appeared, has led some to count back two years from Herod's death and so arrive at a year-date of 6/7 BC. This is particularly tempting because a significant conjunction of planets occurred around this time and so gives us a natural explanation for the Star. However, this ignores other important biblical criteria which conflict with this date, as well as the scheming carefulness of Herod who wanted to be doubly sure of killing all possible Jewish messiahs).
 
Tiberius
Caesar
The Bible tells us that John the Baptist, who baptised Jesus (aged 'about 30'), began his ministry in the fifteenth year of emperor Tiberius (Luke 3:1). Tiberius accepted his office on the 17th September 14 AD. This would imply that Jesus (if aged 30 at His baptism) was born in the year 1 BC (15+14=29 AD, 29-30=-1, i.e. 1 BC).
However, this cannot be, for Herod, who tried to kill Him, had already died three years earlier (4 BC).
But remember, Palestine was rule by Rome from Syria, and therefore used a calendar year that started 1st October. Tiberius' second year of office began by the Syrian calendar therefore in October, 14 AD. His fifteenth year was therefore 27 AD (14+(15-2)). Thus, if these historically accepted dates are right, Jesus must have been at least 31 (27+4) when He was baptised by John, which is why Luke is right in saying "about 30".
 
The month-date of Christ's birth must be arrived at using other information.  
 
Christ's birth occurred six months after the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:26,36). Gabriel appeared to Zechariah, the doubting future father, in the Temple to announce the impending conception of his child John. Zechariah belonged to the Abijah division of priests (Luke 1:5,8). Each division served in the Temple for a two week period (14 days and six hours). Abijah was the eighth division of priests in the religious year (1 Chronicles 24:10). The religious year commenced with the month Nisan. (Jewish months commence with the sighting of the new moon and so do not conform to our months). Nisan in year 5 BC was most probably from 13th March to 10th April.
 
 
Zechariah's division of priests therefore did their annual service in Jerusalem, at the very earliest, from the 19th June. Probably therefore sometime before the end of his service on 2nd July Gabriel appeared to Zechariah. If Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the sixth month of John the Baptist then His birth was no less than 15 months after the time of John's conception (6+9). If John was conceived in 6 BC then - Jesus was born toward the end of September or beginning October in the year 5 BC.
 
 
So, approximately during the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), in year 5 BC/BCE, the Christ of God, Emmanuel Himself, came into this world. How awesomely appropriate!
 
 
An earlier or later year-date is simply impossible if the Bible is true!
 
 
A later date is impossible as it puts Christ's birth after Herod's death, contradicting the Bible. An earlier date makes Luke's statement, that Jesus was about thirty at His baptism in the fifteenth year of Tiberius, incorrect, and so is also in conflict with the Bible.
 
 
Only year 5 BC therefore conforms to all reliable criteria.
 
 
This becomes more evident if one remembers that the visit of the Wise Men, who arrived after pauper-offering for a firstborn son for Jesus in Jerusalem (more than 40 days after His birth, Luke 2), must be fitted in before the Family's escape to Egypt (financed by the expensive gifts of the Wise Men) and Herod's subsequent death around Passover in 4 BC.
 
~Thank you Lord for the birth of Your Love into our common humanity!
 
Yet, when our best has been done in finding the 'when', we are never infallible. All the above is always open to correction and refinement as more information becomes available.
 
May the Lord make this Time-Line useful in enhancing the student's comprehension of the Word of God
in the context in which it was first given and in which it has been and still is to be fulfilled.

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