Sunday, January 1, 2012

Biblical and Middle Eastern History Timeline

Middle East
5004 – 3952 BCE
World created, according to interpretations of selected genealogies in the Bible, as per Ussher  (4004 BCE), Newton, Kepler, Bede and others

3500 -2500 BCE

“Cradles of Civilization”: Sumerian, Akkadian, and Egyptian Empires.  Sargon.  Mules and oxen draw solid wheeled carts, literature, records, trade, surgery.
2100 – 1700 BCE
Bronze Age
Date range for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph
Egypt:  Osiris: god of the underworld; Horus (hawk): sky god.  Book of the Dead.  Value for the body as “holding” three lives/souls.  One version of creation starts with an ocean in darkness.  Hittites are renowned charioteers (with horses). Hammurabi’s Code
1750 – 1580 BCE
Hyksos in Egypt

Hyksos leadership of Egypt.  Invaders? Skilled horsemen.  Limited records for 200 years.  “Asiatic” or “Semitic” names (most Semitic languages dead now)
1650 – 1500 BCE

Volcanic eruption of Thera (Santorini)
Early Canaanite writing
1700- 1400 BCE

Minoan frescoes on island of Crete. Religious images include the bull, serpent, sun disk, tree. 
1450 BCE

Megiddo (n Israel) an Egyptian garrison.  Egypt and Mitanni (NE) partnership against the Hittites (N)
1500 – 1200
Date range for Moses, 40 years in the desert, Joshua’s invasion and settlement of Canaan
Jericho fort guards place to ford River Jordan.  Ancient settlements, Rebuilt 17 times.  Abandoned 1400 – 1500 and 850 – 1325 BCE.  Ai abandoned around 2700 BCE.
1350 - 1330 BCE

Pharoah Akhenaten, monotheist, sun god (movement shifted back to polytheistic practices afterward)
Pharoah Tutankhamen
1280 BCE
Transition of powers

Egyptian (S) and Hittite (N) powers wane.  Peace pact between them because of growing Mittani (NW) power
1200 – 1000 BCE
Iron Age

Iron Age begins and spreads technological advantages (unevenly) in chariots, ships, and weapons. Egyptians still rely on bronze, lose N garrisons to Mesopotamians with iron
1209 BCE
Earliest mention of Israel (as a people, not a nation) on Egyptian victory stele, with Canaan

1200 – 1150 BCE
Sea Peoples
invasions Eastern Mediterranean
Bible is silent on the Sea Peoples invasions. Book of Judges is presumed to reflect this period, though written later. 
Whole cities and regions are destroyed, depopulated, and abandoned (Greece – Mid East), for a century or more.  Subsequent settlements poorer and smaller.
Like Vikings – no evidence of empire building, just pillaging. Did they carry plague(s) that depopulated the region?  
1000 -900 BCE

First kings: Saul, David, Solomon
Israel and Judah united kingdom under D/S only.  Jerusalem made capital.  Solomon described with great wealth, hundreds of wives, Solomon’s Temple, worship of other gods
Camels may have been previously domesticated in Arabia and Central Asia, but were uncommon in Mid East until 1000 BCE. No external references to King Solomon.  Possible later reference to “House of David” on small Tel Dan ( N. Israel/Syria border) stele fragment.
925 BCE
Pharoah Shishak invades Israel.
Pharoah Sheshonq conquers many Northern Israelite cities.  Mentions N. Israel cities (Megiddo) etc but not  Jerusalem or southern cities. 
900 – 722 BCE
Kingdom divided into Judah (S)and Israel (N).  Battles with the Syrians, Egyptians, Assyrians. Criticism of widespread polytheism. 
Archeology reveals larger, sophisticated, walled cities in N (like Samaria and Megiddo) than in the S (like Jerusalem and Hebron).  N on trade routes and center of extensive wine and olive oil production. Evidence in N. of remote trade for high quality goods, such as ivory, and by artisans, such as architectural refinements and engineering, invoices, receipts in N.  S more remote and rural until after 722.
853 BCE
King Ahab (N) dies in battle (according to both Bible and Assyrian stele
Egypt, Canaan, Israel and Syria band together against Assyrians and lose, pay tribute as vassal states
722 BCE
Assyrians crush Israelite rebellion (N) Residents are exiled, others flee south (to Judah).  Possibly earliest collections of Bible stories postdate this refugee movement which brings remote Jews together.  J documents:  (south) describe approachable, physical God, Yahweh. E documents: (north) describe remote God, Elohim.   Leviticus and other Priestly documents possibly written at this time or after Jews return from Babylonian exile (500s).
Massive Israelite refugee movement flees south from Assyrians to Jerusalem, bringing sophisticated technology with them.  Cities balloon in size, increase in number, defensive walls built with better skills than just previously.
700 BCE
Jerusalem palace 150 x 250 sq ft,
Casemated wall like Samaria (n) had
King Hezekiah mentioned by Assyrians
 Southwest Palace in Ninevah is 1650 x 794 sq ft: 80 rooms, 2 miles of carved reliefs decorating walls
Assyria captures fort of Lachich in 703 BCE 
663 BCE

Assyrians (Ashurbanipal) conquer Egypt).  Biggest library in the ancient world in Ninevah: 24,000
600s BCE
First version of Deuteronomy  written during King Josiah’s reign, followed by revisions and Joshua,  I/II Samuel, I/II Kings, and Jeremiah presumed written, perhaps by same author/group .  King Josiah dies in battle with Egypt. 
Temple in Sheba (Yemen) built

626 BCE

Ashurbanipal dies, others conquer Assyrians: Babylonians, Chaldeans, Medes, Caucasians
600 – 800 BCE
Presumed assembly of disparate oral and written tales, laws, songs etc. into written Bible scrolls (not found).  Subsequently edited many times.
Neo-Babylonians poor record keepers
597 BCE
Alliance of Judah, Egypt, Edom, Moab, Amon, Tyre and Sidon against Babylonians.  Crushed. Samaria holds out longest.
King Johoichan deported to sophisticated Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar.  N: a big builder.  One temple: 1500 x 1800 ft.   900 chapels and temples in empire.  Banks, insurance, loans, jewelers’ guarantees, lawyers, contracts, debt prisons. Consistent astronomical records maintained for 350 years.
587 – 538 BCE
King Zedekiah refuses to pay tribute.  Crushed. Blinded.  “Babylonian exile” of Jews.  Not enslaved.  50 years.
Parts of Ezra, Chronicles, Jeremiah, and early part of Daniel written, plus all of Tobit, Ezekiel, Lamentations, possibly Judith.
Coins become common for trade
538 BCE
Leviticus and other P documents possibly written when Jews returned to Jerusalem and discovered differences in practices, or possibly written after 722 when Israelites migrate south and introduce new ideas
Nebuchadnezzar dies, Persians conquer Babylon, under Cyrus, messianic stories about him,  Tolerant ruler, didn’t destroy Babylon. Released Jews from exile, with Temple valuables. 
444 BCE
Artaxeres installs Nehemiah as governor of Jerusalem, vassal state to Persia.  No evidence of war in Israel under Persian rule. 
Book of Nehemiah written.  Content of Pentateuch (first five books) probably set by this time.
Judah is poor, deforested, poor construction techniques

Greek Parthenon built, burned by Persians
419 BCE

Darius protects and preserves religious rights of Jews as far south as Aswan, Egypt
333 BCE
Bible silent on Greek period until Maccabean wars.  Samaria only independent town that could withstand Greeks (a while).
Book of Esther probably written 300 – 400 BCE. 
Alexander the Great.  Tolerant toward regional religions and practices but Greeks regarded circumcision as barbaric mutilation.  No Greek interest in Judah.  Greeks gave Jews in Alexandria, Egypt same rights as other citizens.  City became center of intellectual Judaism.
250 – 100 BCE
Hebrew no longer widely spoken.  Hebrew Bible translated into Greek (version called the Septuagint) at order of King Ptolemy. New books added, like late part of Daniel, Esther, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and Macabees. 

168 – 164 BCE
Seleucids despoil Temple in Jerusalem, put up other gods, ban circumcision.
Maccabeean revolt.  Seleucids win but allow Judaism to be practiced again.  Hannukah story.  Maccabees fight for political independence.  Crushed.

142 – 129 BCE

Syrians grant them political autonomy under Jewish leader, John Hyrcanus.
129 – 63 BCE

Jewish independent state, under Hasmonean dynasty
63 BCE +
Jesus’s dates not stated, but presumed between 7 BCE and 36 CE.
Julius Caesar dies 44 BCE.  Augustus d. 14 CE
Pontius Pilate resigned 36 CE. 
Nero d. 66 CE
30 – 70 CE
Presumed date range when Hebrew scrolls were  hidden in Dead Sea caves
( 100 copies of OT books, 300 other documents ) These are the earliest Bible documents found.

50 – 65 CE
Presumed dates of Paul’s letters in New Testament(about half scholars believe are written by him, others by other authors)

66 – 70 CE

Jewish Rebellion, Jerusalem destroyed by Romans, Jews and Christians scattered.
70 – 100 CE
Presumed writing of the Gospels, (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), Acts, and Revelation

135 CE

Another Jewish Rebellion, Jerusalem destroyed, Jews no longer allowed there.
200 – 400 CE
Presumed dates of previously unseen 50 + Coptic Christian gospels found in caves near Nag Hammadi, Egypt  (13 volumes, 1000 sheets).  Christianity becomes official religion of Roman Empire, Several Ecumenical Councils determine articles of faith (not explicit in Bible).

800 – 900 CE
Masoretic Translation of OT used for Protestant and Jewish Bibles. 

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