(Investigator 157, 2014 July)


My aim is to calculate biblical chronology back to Abraham and compare this with Egyptian history.

My calculations disagree by 46 years with a list of dates for Israel's kings in the NRSV Reference Bible (1993).

I don't settle this conflict but will note the difference in brackets.

In summary:

Abraham moves to Canaan:                          1922   BC    [or 46 years later]
Jacob and family move to Egypt:                  1707      "            "
Israel's Exodus from Egypt:                           1492      "            "
Construction of Solomon's temple starts:      1012      "            "


We’ll start with 586 BC when the last king of Judah was dethroned and the Jews went into exile in Babylon, and calculate back to Abraham.

The date, 586 BC, is from secular textbooks:          586 BC                  

The period of Israel’s kings after Solomon’s death was 390 years. (Ezekiel 4:5) [or 344 years according to NRSV] and therefore started:                                                                                                                976 BC [or 930]

Solomon reigned 40 years (1 Kings 11:42)
Therefore Solomon's 4th year was:                        1012 BC [or 966]

Solomon’s 4th year was the 480th year from the Exodus.  (1 Kings 6:1)
Therefore the Exodus from Egypt started:             1492 BC [or 1446]

The Israelites dwelt in Egypt 430 years. (Exodus 12:40-41) These 430 years include the stay of Israel’s ancestors in Canaan which commenced when Abraham entered Canaan at the age of 75. (Genesis 12:4-14).

The 430 years in Canaan and Egypt started:        1922 BC [or 1876]


Straight-out addition of the reigns of Judah’s kings (and one queen) from II Kings and II Chronicles comes to 393 years:

Rehoboam     17 Joash    40 Manasseh    55
Abijah     3 Amaziah    29 Amon    2
Asa    40-41 Uzziah    52 Josiah    31
Jehoshaphat    25 Shallum    1/12 Joahaz    ¼
Jehoram    8 Jotham    16 Jehoiakim    11
Ahaziah    1 Ahaz    16 Jehoiachin    ¼
Athaliah    6 Hezekiah    29 Zedekiah    11

Ezekiel 4 describes the prophet Ezekiel lying on his side for 390 days next to a picture of Jerusalem engraved on a brick. The reason is:
For I [God] have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days… (4:5 KJV)
Some Bible translations have "punishment" rather than "iniquity" and some writers therefore argue Ezekiel was predicting a 390-day siege of Jerusalem. Others argue that Ezekiel was predicting a 390-year exile of the Israelites. Neither interpretation, however, finds fulfillment in history.

If the 390 days when Ezekiel lay next to his engraving represent years of "iniquity" then the 390 years refer to the entire Kings period starting when Israel split into two kingdoms until Babylon conquered Jerusalem in 586 BC.
The straight-out addition giving 393 years is so close to 390 years that I interpret Ezekiel as giving the exact summation.

However, besides rounding out most reigns to full years, the Bible is also sometimes vague on whether certain kings reigned as co-regents or consecutively.

The chart in the NRSV Reference Bible does show overlapping reigns and starts the Kings period in 930 BC i.e. 46 years later than 976 BC.

This leaves an apparent 46-year discrepancy with Ezekiel which we might investigate another time.


From Abraham’s arrival in Canaan at age 75 until his grandson Jacob took the clan to Egypt was 215 years.

You can add this up from Genesis 12:4; 21:5; 25:26; 47:9.

The 430 years "in Egypt" have to count from Abraham’s arrival in Canaan since Jacob took the clan to Egypt 215 years later and after that it was only 4 generations until the Exodus. (Genesis 50:23; Exodus 6:14-26)

Therefore the 430 years in "Egypt" (Exodus 12:40-41) began with 215 years in Canaan (which Egypt at various times ruled) followed by 215 years in Egypt proper.

The words "Now the sojourning of the children of Israel … in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years…" (Exodus 12:40 KJV) are problematical because "Israel" is the alternative name of Jacob (Genesis 32:28) and Jacob's children or descendants stayed in Egypt 215 years. The 430 years count from Jacob's grandfather Abraham, but Abraham and his son Isaac and grandson Jacob cannot be "children of Jacob".

One solution is that the land was already called "Israel" in Jacob's time (Genesis 34:7; 49:7; 49:16) and "children" sometimes means "people" rather than "descendants". Therefore in Exodus 12:40 "children of Israel" could refer to "people of the land of Israel" and these people include Abraham


Measuring from 1922 BC [or 46 years later] the period that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, lived in Canaan was 215 years:
                                                                                        1922 to 1707 BC [or 1876 to 1661]

Joseph (Jacob's 11th son) became second-in-charge or vice-regent of Egypt at age 30. (Genesis 41:46) Then came seven years of prosperity followed by seven years of famine. (Genesis 41:46-57)

After two years of famine, when Joseph would have been 40, his father Jacob and the entire family moved from Canaan to Egypt. This move completed the first 215 years of the 430-year period. (Genesis 45:1-8)

Jacob was then 130 years old.  (Genesis 47:9)
Therefore Jacob was 130 and Joseph was 40 in:    1707 BC [or 1661]

Joseph became vice-regent at 30:                            1717 BC [or 1671]
The seven-year famine started in:                            1710 BC [or 1664]

"Then Joseph died, and all his brothers, and all that generation… Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph." (Exodus 1:7, 8)
Since these verses cover a long period the "new king of Egypt" could mean a new dynasty. At this point the Israelites were made slaves and Moses was born.

The ten plagues of Egypt and the Exodus occurred when Moses was 80. (Deuteronomy 31:2; 34:7; 1:3)

Therefore the "new king" or dynasty that enslaved Israel began in 1492 – 80 =
                                                                                        1572 BC [or 1526]

We now have some rough biblical dates.


Egyptologists have established a chronology based on the reigns of Egyptian kings. The following is from Schultz & Seidel (1998, p. 528):

Twelfth Dynasty
Amenemhat I 1976-1947
Sesostris I
Amenemhat II 1914-1879/76
Sesostris II 1882-1972 (sic)
Sesostris III 1872-1853/52
Amenemhat III 1853-1906/05
Amenemhat IV 1807/06-1798/97
Nefrusobek 1798/97-1794/93

Thirteenth Dynasty    (approx. 50 kings) 1794/93-1648

Fourteenth Dynasty (petty kings in Nile Delta) ?-1648

Fifteenth Dynasty (Hyksos)
Salites 1648-1590
Beon 1648-1590
Apakhnas 1648-1590
Khaian 1648-1590
Apophis 1590-1549
Khamudi 1549-1539

Sixteenth Dynasty (Hyksos vassals, parallel to Fifteenth Dynasty)

Seventeenth Dynasty (only in Thebes, approx. 15 kings) ca.1645-1550

New Kingdom
Eighteenth Dynasty

Ahmose I 1550-1525
Amenophis I 1525-1504
Thutmosis I
Thutmosis II 1492-1479
Thutmosis III
Amenophis II
Thutmosis IV 1397-1388
Amenophis III 1388-1351/50
Amenophis/Akhenaten 1351-1334
Smenkhkare 1337-1333
Tutankhamun 1333-1323
Ay 1323-1319
Horemheb 1319-1292

This chronology is one of many but is widely used.

Egyptologists start with dates they consider certain and calculate back from names, wars and eclipses recorded on monuments and papyrus documents. Seven ancient "king lists" are known, all of them partial and with errors, the most useful being the "Turin King List" compiled about 1200 BC.

Archaeological sites in neighboring countries are dated by comparing their pottery-types with pottery used in Egypt during the reigns of different pharaohs. Therefore if Egyptian chronology contains errors then historical dates for neighboring countries could be wrong too.


The volcanic eruption of Santorini near Crete used to be dated to about 1500 BC by pottery and other objects in the ash.

Large volcanic explosions eject sulphur which makes rainfall acidic and shows up in the Greenland icecap. The snow layers can be counted and layers of acidic ice correlated to known volcanic explosions such as Tambora (1816 AD) and Pompeii (79 AD).

Danish scientists, in 1987, published their analysis of an ice core from Greenland and found an acid spike dated 1645 BC but none around 1500 BC. In 2006 carbon dating of an olive branch found in the Santorini pumice and ash supported the new date.

In other words, the dates for Egyptian history may be 100 years too low for the period around 1500 BC. (Science Illustrated, 2008)


Egypt’s priesthood and pharoahs were not objective historians but destroyed whatever history they didn’t like. For example:

•    An inscription at El Kab in Sudan reveals that around 1650 the Cushites (from Sudan) rampaged through Egypt and reached the Nile Delta. No known Egyptian inscription, however, records this defeat. The Cushite Empire conquered Egypt several times, but only recently became part of textbook content because the Egyptians erased evidence of Cushite rule. (Investigator #124)

•    Hatshepsut (1479-1457 BC), the female pharaoh, vanished from history for over 3000 years.

•    Pharoah Akhenaten (1351–1334 BC) introduced sun-worship. The New Encyclopedia Britannica says: "the name "Amon" [Egypt's most powerful god] was also hacked out of the inscriptions throughout Egypt. Here and there the names of other gods and goddesses were removed...."

After his death Akhenaton's own name was obliterated from monuments and his capital city abandoned and forgotten until the 19th century. Pringle (2014) writes: "Those who succeeded Akhenaten on the thrown attempted to erase all memory of his rule, his religion, and his capital." His wife Nefertiti and son Tutankhamun were also erased.

•    Wegner (2014) reports the discovery of a previously unknown "entire dynasty of kings" based in Abydos, NW of Thebes — a third Egyptian kingdom (besides the Hyksos and Thebes) which flourished 1650-1550 BCE.

•    The Hyksos, a foreign dynasty, ruled northern Egypt for 108 years but their history was obliterated. The Modern World Encyclopaedia (1935) dates them to 3000-2500 BC which is wrong by over 1000 years.

The Britannica says the Hyksos were:
Semitic-Asiatics who settled in northern Egypt during the 18th century BC. In about 1630 they seized power, and Hyksos kings ruled Egypt as the 15th dynasty (c. 1630–1521 BC)…

The Hyksos introduced the horse and chariot, the compound bow, improved battle axes, and advanced fortification techniques into Egypt. At Avaris … in the northeastern delta, they built their capital with a fortified camp over the remains of a Middle Kingdom town that they had seized…
  Schultz & Seidel (1998) write:
They brought to Egypt the horse and chariot, the wide usage of bronze, and new weapons… Their power extended from Palestine to Thebes the main city in Middle Egypt… In about 1550 BC Ahmose, the founder of the 18th Dynasty, expelled the Hyksos and reunited Egypt. (p. 107)


Aside from deliberate destruction of history much material was buried simply to make space. Thomas (2012), referring to the great Karnak temple at Luxor, writes:
At some point during or after the end of the Ptolemaic period (304-30 BC), an enormous group of statues and other objects, now known as the 'Karnak Cachette', was buried in a large pit…

However, from the Middle Kingdom onwards many royal and private statues, stelae, obelisks, offering tables, amulets and other objects gradually accumulated in courtyards and halls throughout the outer, more public parts of the temple. Ultimately filling up many available spaces and impeding new building projects, these donated objects probably also offered obstacles to daily life in the temple. An efficient solution was found, in this and other temples, when the still-sacred (and often very heavy) objects were gathered together and buried within the temple precinct.


With dates and reigns still debated, any connection of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph or Moses with particular pharaohs is speculative:

•    The Hyksos introduced horses and chariots into Egypt and Genesis says that Joseph used chariots (Genesis 41:43; 46:29; 50:9) and requisitioned horses. (47:17) The Israelites' 215-year stay in northern Egypt apparently overlapped with the 108-year rule of the Hyksos.

•    Perhaps the Santorini volcanic explosion triggered climate change that brought the 7-year famine when Joseph was vice-regent — however the current date for Santorini (1628 BC) is later than my date (1710 BC or 1664) for the famine.

•    The Exodus coincides with the 18th Dynasty near the reign of Hatshepsut; and Akhenaten's monotheism (in the form of Sun-worship) came after, and therefore might have been inspired by, Moses' monotheism — but again, speculative.


Of later pharaohs five appear in the Old Testament. Using the dates in Schultz & Seidel their reigns were:

Shishak [Shosheng I] (I Kings 11:40) —    945-924 BC
So [Osorkon IV]    (II Kings 17:4)        —    732-722   "
Taharqa (II Kings 19:9)                      —     690-664   "
Necho I (II Chroncles 35:20)              —     610-595   "
Hophra [Apries] (Jeremiah 44:30)      —     589-570   "

Pharoah Shishak invaded Israel "in the fifth year of Rehoboam's reign". (I Kings 14:21-29; II Chronicles 12:1-12) An inscription at Amun temple at Karnak lists over 150 geographical names relating to this invasion. (Levin 2012) Since only one great Egyptian invasion of Israel at this period is known, Sheshong is considered to be Shishak. (Schultz & Seidel, p. 271)


Infrared images taken by NASA satellites are now helping archaeologists, and indicating that 99% of ancient Egypt is still unknown!

Amor (2011) reports: "Egyptologist Dr Sarah Parcak and a team of archaeologists from the University of Alabama have used infrared satellite imaging to aid in the discovery of more than 3000 ancient towns and villages, some 1000 tombs, and possibly 17 pyramids lying unknown beneath the sands of Egypt."  

Bonin (2011) writes that Dr Parcak: "Estimates that less than one per cent of ancient Egypt is known."


Five pharaohs named in the Bible are among hundreds of Bible names and events historically confirmed.

Critics who deny the Exodus and other biblical events because Egyptian records don't mention them, ignore that only 1% of ancient Egypt is uncovered.

Such critics also put their trust in priests and pharoahs who removed from historical records kings, cities, dynasties, kingdoms and even empires.


A Historic Eruption, Science Illustrated, March/April 2008, 46-53

Amor, K. Satellite imagery uncovers lost pyramids and settlements in Egypt, Minerva, Volume 22, Number 4, July/August 2011, p. 7

Bonin, L. Hidden Egypt, Science Focus, July 2011, 51-55

Encyclopædia Britannica 2009 Deluxe Edition, Chicago

Levin, Y. Did Pharoah Sheshong Attack Jerusalem? Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 2012, 42-52

NRSV Reference Bible with Apocrypha, 1993, Zondervan, 438-439

Pringle, H. Beyond the Palace Walls, Archaeology, May/June 2014, 24-30)

Schultz, R. & Seidel, M. (Editors) 1998 Egypt The World of the Pharoahs, Koenemann.

Thomas, S. An Unnamed Statue of a Late Middle Kingdom Vizier, Ancient Egypt, December 2011/January 2012

Wegner, J. Kings of Abydos, Current World Archaeology, April/May 2014, 20-27.


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