Welcome to The Biblical Timeline. This site is dedicated to helping both novice and more serious readers understand how the events described in the Bible relate to each other and to the larger history of the world. Allow me to begin with a quote from a kindred spirit of long ago:
“I have perused the diverse histories of the past which the Egyptians have written in detail, and which the Greeks have recorded as accurately as possible. These works contain information about the times of Kings and Olympiads, about the brave deeds which were performed by barbarians and Greeks, Aryans and non-Aryans, and about the marvelous accomplishments of their generals, sages, braves, poets, storytellers, and philosophers. I thought it would be appropriate to write down everything in brief, especially the beneficial and important things, and further to put adjacent to these accounts the history of the Hebrew patriarchs as revealed in the Bible. And thus we might establish how long before the life-giving revelation of Christ Moses and the Hebrew prophets who succeeded him lived and what they, filled with the divine spirit, said. In this fashion it might be possible to recognize easily when the braves of each nation appeared compared with when the celebrated Hebrew prophets lived and, one by one, who all their leaders were.
Permit me, right at the outset, to caution everyone against believing that there can be complete accuracy with respect to chronology. Indeed, we would benefit by contemplating what that wise Teacher told his acquaintances: ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority’ (Acts 1:7). It seems to me that Jesus as God and Lord, delivered this succinct verdict not solely regarding the end of the world but about all times, in order to discourage those who would dare attempt such a futile undertaking”
– Eusebius of Caesarea, introduction to his Chronicle. 325 AD
Beginning in 2005 (and long before I was aware of the passage above), I decided to put together a timeline so that I could see how the events of the Old Testament related to those of the major cultures of ancient times. This was very much a hobby, but in 2018 a friend encouraged me to put it on line, and here we are
Old and New Chronologies
The timeline has been (and remains) a work in progress for fifteen years or so. The original version was based entirely on what is known as the “orthodox” or “old” chronology for the regnal dates of the kings of the world empires and kingdoms other than Israel. These are the dates that you might find in a text book or on Wikipedia and are what are accepted by the majority of scholars. These dates are by no means absolute and in fact if you scratch the surface you will find that there is still a lot of disagreement among scholars but that most of this involves relatively minor adjustments to the timeline. Still, out chronologies of ancient times are far from absolute and I would not be surprised to see revisions based on new archaeological discoveries
Recently, I was introduced to what is known as the “new’ chronology which has been championed by Egyptologist David Rohl, most recently in the documentary film Patterns of Evidence: Exodus, but also in earlier Rohl documentaries which were televised in the US and UK. The new chronology is based on a radical down dating of the Third Intermediate Period in Egypt. This is made possible by identifying that many Pharaohs which rule sequentially in the orthodox chronology actually ruled at the same time or in parallel in different parts of the country. The result is a shift of over 300 years in some parts of the timeline and about 200 years for the Middle Kingdom of Egypt (Joseph through the Exodus). This change has a ripple effect on other nations and periods that derive their chronologies from the Egyptian one. It does not however impact the chronology of Israel directly as the dates going back to the Exodus and beyond can be derived from scripture and from synchronisms with foreign kings whose dates are not in question (the old and new chronologies are in agreement from 664 BC onward for Egypt and from earlier dates for Assyria and Babylon). The new chronology resolves some disconnects between archaeology and scripture that exist in the orthodox chronology, particularly around the exodus, and therefore it’s good for biblical scholars to at least be aware of it.