Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Missing Years In Jewish Chronology

Very important contribution:


http://emet.blog-city.com/the_missing_years_in_jewish_chronology.htm

The Missing Years In Jewish Chronology

posted Monday, 21 May 2007
I have always been fascinated by the "missing years" in Jewish chronology and it is something that I really want to explore in more depth in later posts. For a bit of a background to this issue, see this Wikipedia article

I have addressed the issue once before in this post, which includes R'Biberfeld's solution to the problem. R'Biberfeld preposal can be found in his scholarly polemic "Universal Jewish History" which is available online in its entirety here. It is a very interesting book, which although dated, does contain some fascinating ideas and sources.

A rather new approach which has recently appeared can be found in the 3rd volume of the Hakira Journal. The article entitled "A Y2K solution to the Chronology Problem" is available for download here. I will hopefully analyze this solution in a later post.

What I really want to post up is a fascinating piece by R' Saadia Gaon in his Emunot v'Deot relating to this issue. It can be found in Chapter 9 of the "Treatise of Redemption" (pg 322 of the Yale English Edition). R'Saadia Gaon in his critique of the Christian interpretation of some passages in Daniel, makes the claim that the Christians intentionally altered the calendar so that the dates of their view of redemption would coincide with their understanding of scripture. R'Saadia Gaon makes the accusation that they intentionally added dynasties to their list of kings to achieve this effect (the opposite of the views championed by the article in Hakira and R'Shimon Shwab). Here is the quote in full:

However the clearest [refutation of all lies in the fact that from the time when this revelation was made to Daniel until the date which they believe [to have been the time of the fulfillment of the prophecies regarding the redemption], only 285 years had elapsed. Now the total sum [mentioned in the book of Daniel] is 490 years. Of this number of year 70 were taken up by the period preceding the building of the second temple, and 420 by that of its existence.

I have found, then, that the advocates [of the Christian doctrine] had no other means [of supporting their theory] except the contention that an addition is to be made in the chronological calculation. They maintain, namely, that the government of the Persian over Palestine existed for a period of something like 300 years before that of the Greeks and that the number of their kings during this period was seventeen. However, I have refuted this contention on their part from the text of the book of Daniel itself, [pointing out] that it was impossible that between the time of the government of Babylon and that of the Greeks more than four Persian kings should have rules over Palestine. For the angle said to Daniel, peace be upon him: And as for me, in the first years of Darius the Mede, I stood up to be a supporter and a stronghold unto him. And now, I will declare unto thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all; and when he is waxed strong through his riches, he shall stir up against the real of Greece (Daniel 11:1,2). The above statement has thus been explained from every aspect.

These are, then, the arguments that may be offered in refutation of the doctrine of the Christians aside from the objections to be raised against their theory of the suspension of the laws of the Torah and those that might be urged against them on the subject of the Unity of God, and other matters, which cannot properly be presented in this book.

The eight treatise has hereby been completed.


14 comments:

  1. What about all the unearthed Persian documents, etc. and Herodotus' Greek history, that clearly point to more time for the Persian Empire? Have you run your theory by Prof. David Levene of NYU? Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  2. In the final analysis, there is nothing Christian about the contention that the first Beit Mikdash was destroyed some 165 years before the year 3338, as claimed in Seder Olam. This comes from Babylonian records which can nowadays be dated exactly because the historical data in these records are interleaved with data about lunar eclipses.

    The best explanation of the missing years seems to be by Dr. Moshe Lerman who showed convincingly that the Jewish count of the years started around the year 3400. He based himself on the date that we say Bircat HaHamah once every 28 years, and on some subtle mathematics regarding the small and big Mahzorim of the calendar. It follows from his approach that the year count only approximately reflects the time of Creation according to Tenach. The English site of A7 once had an article about this, and there is a much more detailed Hebrew version floating around also. As it happens, from 3400 onwards there is no significant disagreement between the various calendars. The disagreement is only regarding data before the year 3400, which on the Jewish side were retroactively computed by Rav Yosi, author of Seder Olam. We have no basis for saying that they are historically valid.

    From what Rav Saadia Gaon writes, it seems that the Christians of his time based themselves on the Greek version of history, which is more accurate than Seder Olam.

    ReplyDelete
  3. We've been through all this before. The "evidence" is smoke and mirrors. I just wanted to bring forward a RSG I had not been aware of. If someone wanted to distrust a Tanna, he certainly will distrust a Gaon...

    ReplyDelete
  4. >We've been through all this before. The "evidence" is smoke and mirrors.<

    You are wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  5. There's nothing wrong in Judaism with not accepting everything...how about the belief that a field mouse can be created from dirt? Nobody's perfect. Also, Rabbi Azariah Del Rossi came up with the same 165 years.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Everything is wrong about not accepting Chazal's transmission of history. The major foundation of religion's edifice is that history.

    ReplyDelete
  7. "The major foundation of religion's edifice is that history."

    You are wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  8. "You are wrong."

    Of course. Anyone who accepts the 165 year gap as real is compelled to seek a different basis for Judaism.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Different from what? I do not believe that you honestly checked the evidence regarding the plus or minus 165 years.

    First of all, the truth is the basis of Judaism. We accept the truth from who said it. If your basis is different, you indeed have to look for a different basis.

    ReplyDelete
  10. But l'shitascha Chazal lied about history...

    ReplyDelete
  11. Perhaps they had a good reason? Perhaps to prevent Chishuvei HaKets. I think that is what Rav Schwab said. Ask his family - easy in Monsey - why he withdraw this, whether it was truth or pressure.

    Perhaps Chazal just did not know all dates exactly but they judged that a convincing calendar was critical for the survival of judaism in galus?

    I know another reason which I do not want to write. It is close to what Rav Schwab wrote, but different. It might be that if you would accept the evidence according to its merits, without cheshbonos about the status of Chazal, you might be given insight about Chazal that is reserved to the purest seekers of truth.

    ReplyDelete
  12. The correct chronology for the period of the Hebrew kings, one that agrees with the schedule of Sabbatical years, is posted online at http://www.prophecysociety.org/books/SC2012/SC-frontcover.html

    ReplyDelete
  13. Following all the discussions about the calendars, I find missing one important fact. According to the secular dating, and that Jerusalem was said to be rebuilt according to the decree of Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerses-- from the decree of Artaxerses in his 7th year, there would be exactly 490 years to the martyrdom of the first xtian martyr, 3 and a half years after the cruxifiction of JC. So obviously xtians altered the calendar so that Daniel chapter 9 would point directly to JC. The historian Josephus says there were 246 years of Persia and counts the 490 years from the prophet Jeremiah's prediction of the temple being rebuilt, leading the 490 years to end with the first Channukuh.

    ReplyDelete
  14. When reading the book of Deutotonmy Chapter 1:3
    It says as follows

    Deuteronomy 1American Standard Version (ASV)

    1 These are the words which Moses spake unto all Israel beyond the Jordan in the wilderness, in the Arabah over against Suph, between Paran, and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Di-zahab.
    2 It is eleven days' journey from Horeb by the way of mount Seir unto Kadesh-barnea.
    3 And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that Jehovah had given him in commandment unto them;
    plz explain verse 3

    ReplyDelete