Timeline: Judean Kings

After the civil war Israel had two thrones. The throne of the southern kingdom was located at Jerusalem, the historical capital. This throne outlives the northern throne of Samaria and establishes the chronology across this period in history.

Background

Abraham’s descendants started few. The generation after Abraham that matters to us here was Isaac. He had only two children, Jacob and Esau, and only Jacob would be used to restore Adam’s fallen race. Then, when Jacob starts having sons, the number of sons starts to explode. At Jacob’s son’s generation there are twelve. By the time this tribe goes down to Egypt, there are about 72. 430 years later, when they come out of Egypt, there are over 600,000 men able to serve in the army, in their 20th year or better. If the population is evenly spread between the ages of 1 and 60, and for every male head of household there is a wife, the total population out of Egypt is at least 1.8 million people.

God takes this now growing band and says that he will not let them take over Canaan all at once, that they are not numerous enough , but that as they grow, they will be able to conquer it, with God’s help.

360 years after finally moving into Canaan, the Israelites are given their first king (9907 AA - 9547 AA = 360). Saul turns out badly so God chooses another, and David becomes king over the Israelites.

David’s son Solomon is the last king (so far) to rule over all of the Israelites, because after the death of Solomon, civil war erupted in Israel. When things settled down, David’s house was left ruling over just a part of Israel, the southern kingdom, known as Judah.

The story of the civil war in Israel goes like this: The country had gone to Shechem to make Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, king. Jeroboam, the man who had rebelled against Solomon, returned from Egypt, to agitate for his position. The story picks up in 1 Kings.

1Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all the Israelites had gone there to make him king. 2When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard this (he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), he returned from Egypt. 3So they sent for Jeroboam, and he and the whole assembly of Israel went to Rehoboam and said to him: 4"Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you."

5Rehoboam answered, "Go away for three days and then come back to me." So the people went away. F. Kings 12:01-5 NIV

1And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for all Israel were come to Shechem to make him king. 2And it came to pass, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who was yet in Egypt, heard of it, (for he was fled from the presence of king Solomon, and Jeroboam dwelt in Egypt;) 3That they sent and called him. And Jeroboam and all the congregation of Israel came, and spake unto Rehoboam, saying, 4Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee. 5And he said unto them, Depart yet for three days, then come again to me. And the people departed. F. Kings 12:01-5 KJV

The king goes off and thinks about the situation for three days, first consulting his father’s advisors, then consulting the young men he grew up with. Rejecting the sound advice of his father’s advisors, he proceeds to place a heavy yoke on Israel fostering a revolt.

16When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king: "What share do we have in David, what part in Jesse's son? To your tents, O Israel! Look after your own house, O David!" So the Israelites went home. 17But as for the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah, Rehoboam still ruled over them.

18King Rehoboam sent out Adoniram, who was in charge of forced labor, but all Israel stoned him to death. King Rehoboam, however, managed to get into his chariot and escape to Jerusalem. 19So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.

20When all the Israelites heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. Only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the house of David.

21When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he mustered the whole house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin -- a hundred and eighty thousand fighting men -- to make war against the house of Israel and to regain the kingdom for Rehoboam son of Solomon.

22But this word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God: 23"Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon king of Judah, to the whole house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, 24`This is what the LORD says: Do not go up to fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing.'" So they obeyed the word of the LORD and went home again, as the LORD had ordered. F. Kings 12:16-24 NIV

16So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents. 17But as for the children of Israel which dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them. 18Then king Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was over the tribute; and all Israel stoned him with stones, that he died. Therefore king Rehoboam made speed to get him up to his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem.made…: Heb. strengthened himself 19So Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day.rebelled: or, fell away 20And it came to pass, when all Israel heard that Jeroboam was come again, that they sent and called him unto the congregation, and made him king over all Israel: there was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only.

21And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin, an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam the son of Solomon. 22But the word of God came unto Shemaiah the man of God, saying, 23Speak unto Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and unto all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the remnant of the people, saying, 24Thus saith the Lord, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel: return every man to his house; for this thing is from me. They hearkened therefore to the word of the Lord, and returned to depart, according to the word of the Lord. F. Kings 12:16-24 KJV

Pay attention to a couple important points. Verse 19 indicates that this is so "to this day", probably originally indicating after the fall of Jerusalem when these scrolls are believed to have been organized into the Bible. But, this separation remains in place even to modern times, they have never been reconciled. Verse 24 indicates that this is God’s doing, that Judah and Israel are now two countries.

The northern kingdom, who retained the name Israel, established a new capital at Tirzah, and would later purchase land for construction of a new capital at Samaria. At this point, the northern Kingdom, Israel, consists of 10 of the original tribes, the southern Kingdom, Judah, consists of the tribes of Benjamin and Judah.

A record of the kings of both kingdoms is given in the Bible. This record turns out to have problems, ones which we must overcome before we can get to the bottom of our quest for an overarching time line.

Problems

It would seem that tracking the reigns of the kings of Judah and Israel should not be particularly difficult. The problems become apparent as soon as we start to read the text. The two kingdoms, Israel and Judah, each have a throne. When there is a change in who sits on one throne, the Bible usually records the year of the other throne.

So far, so good, but there turns out to be absurdities in the data. The following is one example:

  • Asa reigns over Judah for 41 years.[1] [2]
  • In Asa’s 3rd year, Baasha becomes king of Israel.[3]
  • Baasha reigns over Israel 24 years.[4]
  • Israel attacks Judah in the 36th year of Asa’s reign. [5]
  • To stop the attack, Asa negotiates a peace deal with Baasha in that 36th year.[6]

The thing to notice about this is that Baasha’s reign over Israel is only 24 years long, so he could not have made peace with Asa in Asa’s 36th year if Baasha’s reign started in Asa’s 3rd year.

Given a start in the 3rd year he could have only lived through Asa’s 27th year. Given that there may be different ways of putting ends on this sort of thing, we could have a couple years of slop, but that would get us to Asa’s 29 or 30th year, but not to his 36th year. We have 6 years or more that appear simply wrong.

This is just one example of many such problems through the record.

To get through this passage we’ll need to notice some things. First, Chronicles provides dates for only the kings of Judah. It does not attempt to provide the spans of kings reigns for the kings of Israel.

Kings agrees with Chronicles on all the Judean kings, and then attempts to add the kings of Israel. This leaves all the Judean kings with two references asserting their individual time in office.

Since one of our Bible study strategies is to look for duplication and second witnesses, we can start with the position that the Judean king sequence is the one to be trusted. The kings of Israel, recorded in Kings along with the kings of Judah, are the ones without second witnesses and thus cannot be trusted.

To this point in the chronology, only the time from Noah to Abraham did not have second witnesses. So far we have "trusted" it without a second witness.

So why should we change the rule here?

The difference is that in that period there were no contradictory parallel passages pushing us to strange results.

Also, as we will see, once we start looking at the overall chronology, there are plenty of overarching "second witnesses" to the Judean Kings version of the chronology, which will also show that the time from Noah to Abraham was correct.

This is sometimes called 'stepping out in faith' which is what we are essentially doing here.

As we look at the details in Kings we will find a similar internal parallel time sequences which supports the idea that the Judean king sequence is the correct, and trustworthy one.

Kings With 2 Names

There are three places in the biblical record where there are two names recorded for specific kings. The following is a list.

Uzziah/Azariah

The first king, Uzziah, entered the temple when he should not and leprosy broke out on his forehead.[7] Because of this he could neither enter the temple, nor be approached by his subjects, and so he lived in a separate house until he died.

There are two important parallel names for Uzziah’s reign. The first is that of Azariah, the head priest, who is named explicitly in Kings as the leader for Uzziah’s reign, and that Uzziah’s son Jotham is specifically mentioned as taking over responsibility for the palace and governed the land until Uzziah’s death.

Azariah was able to approach the king, even though he was leprous, because he was a priest. The law allows the priest to approach a leprous person to inspect the leprosy. Since he would retain this ability he became in effect a prime minister. Kings emphasizes this role by using Azariah’s name for a substitute in its chronology.[8]

Eliakim/Jehoiakim

Eliakim reigned over Judah 11 years. He was placed on the throne by Pharaoh Neco, and as a sign of Pharaoh’s power over Eliakim, his name was changed to Jehoiakim.

The name change is significant, because it is indicating the control Pharaoh has over the throne of Judah. This indicates that the country at this time is now a servant state of Egypt.

Mattaniah/Zedekiah

Mattaniah, who was Eliakim’s brother and uncle of the previous king Jehoiachin, was placed on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar after Jehoiachin surrendered to the Babylonians after only 100 days on the throne.

Like Pharaoh Neco with Eliakim, Nebuchadnezzar changed Mattaniah’s name to Zedekiah, indicating the Babylonian control of Judah and her kings.

Summary Chronology of Judah’s Ancient Kings

Recall the article titled Timeline: Unified Kingdom Kings showed that Solomon’s reign ended with the year 10016 AA, or 516 years from the Exodus. The following table picks up and charts all the Judean kings, the kings of the southern kingdom.

Recall also, the priest of the northern kingdom supported Rehoboam through his 3rd year in office, or through the year 10019 AA, or 519 years from the Exodus. The first year of the split kingdom, 10020 AA is exactly 4000 years from Noah’s flood.

King’s Name Age at Reign Time in Office First Year Last Year
Rehoboam 41[9] 17[10] [11] 10017 AA 10033 AA
Abijah Not given 3[12] [13] 10034 AA 10036 AA
Asa Not given 41[14] [15] 10037 AA 10077 AA
Jehoshephat 35[16] 25[17] [18] 10078 AA 10102 AA
Jehoram 32[19] [20] 8[21] [22] 10103 AA 10110 AA
Ahaziah 22[23] [24] 1[25] [26] 10111 AA 10111 AA
Queen Athaliah Not given 6[27] [28] 10112 AA 10117 AA
Joash 7[29] [30] 40[31] [32] 10118 AA 10157 AA
Amaziah 25[33] [34] 29[35] [36] 10158 AA 10186 AA
Uzziah/Azariah 16[37] [38] 52[39] [40] 10187 AA 10238 AA
Jotham 25[41] [42] 16[43] [44] 10239 AA 10254 AA
Ahaz 20[45] [46] 16[47] [48] 10255 AA 10270 AA
Hezekiah 25[49] [50] 29[51] [52] 10271 AA 10299 AA
Manasseh 12[53] [54] 55[55] [56] 10300 AA 10354 AA
Amon 22[57] [58] 2[59] [60] 10355 AA 10356 AA
Josiah 8[61] [62] 31[63] [64] 10357 AA 10387 AA

Special Cases

At the end of the monarchy in Jerusalem, the world starts to unravel. Over a period of 20 years God causes Jerusalem to be carried away in pieces.

Establishing the chronology over this period can’t be done from the king’s reigns since there are two kings who don’t reign for whole numbers of years. There are other references which pick up the details we need to piece the kings reigns together as shown above. The following table summarizes these references.

Name Year   Name Year Ref
Josiah’s 13 is Jeremiah’s 1 Jer. 25:3
Jeremiah’s 23 is Nebuchadnezzar’s 1 Jer. 25:1-3
Jeremiah’s 23 is Jehoiakim’s 4 Jer. 25:1-3
Nebuchadnezzar’s 18 is Zedekiah’s 10 Jer. 32:1
Nebuchadnezzar’s 8 is Jehoiachin’s time 2 Ki 24:12

The references in this table allow us to construct the chronology across this difficult time in Jerusalem’s history. Jeremiah’s first year is Josiah’s 13th. Since we already know Josiah’s first year is 10357 AA, we can compute Jeremiah’s 1st as 10357 AA + 13 - 1 = 10369 AA.

Jeremiah’s 23rd year is thus computed as 10369 AA + 23 - 1 = 10391 AA, which is also Nebuchadnezzar’s first.

Jehoiakim’s 4th is thus also 10391 AA, so Jehoiakim’s first year is computed as 10391 AA - 4 + 1 = 10388 AA.

Josiah’s last year was his 31st and that year is computed as 10357 AA + 31 - 1 = 10387 AA.

King Jehoahaz has no year assigned to him at all. Since these are probably assigned at Passover, we can assume that Jehoahaz must have reigned in what was Josiah’s last, 31st, year, or 10387 AA.

A similar issue arises with Jehoiachin’s reign, but we are told it is within Nebuchadnezzar’s 8th year, which is computed as 10391 AA + 8 - 1 = 10398 AA, which is also the last year of Jehoiakim’s reign, provided confirmation that we handled Jehoahaz correctly. These dates are reflected in the following table.

King’s Name Age at Reign Time in Office First Year Last Year
Jehoahaz 23[65] [66] 3 months[67] [68] 10387 AA 10387 AA
Eliakim/Jehoiakim 25[69] [70] 11 years[71] [72] 10388 AA 10398 AA
Jehoiachin 18[73] [74] 3 months, 10 days[75] [76] 10398 AA 10398 AA
Mattaniah/Zedekiah 21[77] [78] 11 years[79] [80] 10399 AA 10409 AA

Note some curious features from the above data. Nebuchadnezzar the Babylonian king starts his reign over Jerusalem, using Jerusalem kings as vassals, in the year 10391 AA. This is 390 years after the year 10000 AA, which was the date of Solomon’s temple. Note that this is the same number of years as there are days in a Sabbath or Jubilee year.

Note also that the last year that there is a king in Jerusalem is the 390th year after the priests from the northern kingdom of Israel broke their support for Rehoboam, the first king of the divided kingdom.[81] This is again the same number of years as there are days in a Sabbath or Jubilee year.

The inference here is that the people of the city of Jerusalem were given a "Sabbath’s rest" as they were allowed to live in their own land for the number of years as there are days in a Sabbath year.

Note also that Nebuchadnezzar initially attacked in Jehoiakim’s 3rd year[82], which is computed as 10388 AA + 3 - 1 = 10390 AA, and that his last attack was in the year 10409 AA, the last year of Zedekiah’s reign and the last year of a 20 year interval. The same interval, that had marked the time from Solomon’s temple in 10000 AA to the last year David’s house was supported by the priests of the northern kingdom in 10019 AA.[83]

Summary

This article gives the math for the chronology moving from Solomon to Nebuchadnezzar's invasion of Jerusalem. There are no more dated references to time. From this point forward various prophetic references must be used to track the chronology. The first of those eras is Ezra's return. We turn to that next.



1. F. Kings 15:19
2. F. Chronicles 16:13
3. F. Kings 15:33
4. F. Kings 15:22
5. S. Chronicles 16:1
6. S. Chronicles 16:2
7. S. Chronicles 26:16
8. S. Kings 15:1
9. S. Chronicles 12:13
10. F. Kings 14:21
11. S. Chronicles 12:13
12. F. Kings 15:1
13. S. Chronicles 13:1
14. F. Kings 15:10
15. S. Chronicles 16:13
16. F. Kings 22:24
17. F. Kings 22:24
18. S. Chronicles 20:34
19. S. Kings 8:17
20. S. Chronicles 21:5
21. S. Kings 8:17
22. S. Chronicles 21:5
23. S. Kings 8:25
24. S. Chronicles 27:2
25. S. Kings 8:26
26. S. Chronicles 22:2
27. S. Kings 11:6
28. S. Chronicles 22:12
29. S. Kings 11:21
30. S. Chronicles 24:1
31. S. Kings 12:1
32. S. Chronicles 24:1
33. S. Kings 14:2
34. S. Chronicles 25:1
35. S. Kings 14:2
36. S. Chronicles 25:1
37. S. Kings 15:2
38. S. Chronicles 26:3
39. S. Kings 15:2
40. S. Chronicles 26:3
41. S. Kings 15:32
42. S. Chronicles 27:1
43. S. Kings 15:32
44. S. Chronicles 27:1
45. S. Kings 16:2
46. S. Chronicles 28:1
47. S. Kings 16:2
48. S. Chronicles 28:1
49. S. Kings 18:2
50. S. Chronicles 29:1
51. S. Kings 18:2
52. S. Chronicles 29:1
53. S. Kings 21:1
54. S. Chronicles 33:1
55. S. Kings 21:1
56. S. Chronicles 33:1
57. S. Kings 21:9
58. S. Chronicles 33:21
59. S. Kings 21:9
60. S. Chronicles 33:21
61. S. Kings 22:1
62. S. Chronicles 34:1
63. S. Kings 21:9
64. S. Chronicles 33:21
65. S. Kings 23:31
66. S. Chronicles 36:5
67. S. Kings 23:31
68. S. Chronicles 36:5
69. S. Kings 23:36
70. S. Chronicles 35:5
71. S. Kings 23:36
72. S. Chronicles 35:5
73. S. Kings 24:8
74. S. Chronicles 36:9
75. S. Kings 24:8
76. S. Chronicles 36:9
77. S. Kings 24:18
78. S. Chronicles 36:11
79. S. Kings 24:18
80. S. Chronicles 36:11
81. S. Chronicles 1:17
82. Daniel 1:1
83. S. Chronicles 1:17