Chronology — is the arrangement of facts and events in the order of time. The writers of the Bible themselves do not adopt any standard era according to which they date events. Sometimes the years are reckoned, e.g., from the time of the Exodus (Num. 1:1; 33:38; 1 Kings 6:1), and sometimes from the accession of kings (1 Kings 15:1, 9, 25, 33, etc.), and sometimes again from the return from Exile (Ezra 3:8).
Hence in constructing a system of Biblecal chronology, the plan has been adopted of reckoning the years from the ages of the patriarchs before the birth of their first-born sons for the period from the Creation to Abraham. After this period other data are to be taken into account in determining the relative sequence of events.
As to the patriarchal period, there are three principal systems of chronology: (1) that of the Hebrew text, (2) that of the Septuagint version, and (3) that of the Samaritan Pentateuch, as seen in the scheme on the opposite page.
The Samaritan and the Septuagint have considerably modified the Hebrew chronology. This modification some regard as having been wilfully made, and to be rejected. The same system of variations is observed in the chronology of the period between the Flood and Abraham. Thus:
Hebrew Septuigant Samaritan
From the birth of
Arphaxad, 2 years
after the Flood, to
the birth of Terah. 220 1000 870
From the birth of
Terah to the birth
of Abraham. 130 70 72
The Septuagint fixes on seventy years as the age of Terah at the birth of Abraham, from Gen. 11:26; but a comparison of Gen. 11:32 and Acts 7:4 with Gen. 12:4 shows that when Terah died, at the age of two hundred and five years, Abraham was seventy-five years, and hence Terah must have been one hundred and thirty years when Abraham was born. Thus, including the two years from the Flood to the birth of Arphaxad, the period from the Flood to the birth of Abraham was three hundred and fifty-two years.
The next period is from the birth of Abraham to the Exodus. This, according to the Hebrew, extends to five hundred and five years. The difficulty here is as to the four hundred and thirty years mentioned Ex. 12:40, 41; Gal. 3:17. These years are regarded by some as dating from the covenant with Abraham (Gen. 15), which was entered into soon after his sojourn in Egypt; others, with more probability, reckon these years from Jacob’s going down into Egypt. (See EXODUS.)
In modern times the systems of Biblical chronology that have been adopted are chiefly those of Ussher and Hales. The former follows the Hebrew, and the latter the Septuagint mainly. Archbishop Ussher’s (died 1656) system is called the short chronology. It is that given on the margin of the Authorized Version, but is really of no authority, and is quite uncertain.
Creation 4004 5411
Flood 2348 3155
Abram leaves Haran 1921 2078
Exodus 1491 1648
Destruction of the
Temple 588 586
To show at a glance the different ideas of the date of the creation, it may be interesting to note the following: From Creation to 1894.
According to Ussher, 5,898; Hales, 7,305; Zunz (Hebrew reckoning), 5,882; Septuagint (Perowne), 7,305; Rabbinical, 5,654; Panodorus, 7,387; Anianus, 7,395; Constantinopolitan, 7,403; Eusebius, 7,093; Scaliger, 5,844; Dionysius (from whom we take our Christian era), 7,388; Maximus, 7,395; Syncellus and Theophanes, 7,395; Julius Africanus, 7,395; Jackson, 7,320.