Very important contribution:
The Missing Years In Jewish Chronology
posted Monday, 21 May 2007I 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.