Questions From Readers
● What are the reasons for changing the date of Adam’s creation first from 4028 B.C. to 4026 B.C. and now recently in the book “New Heavens and a New Earth” to 4025 B.C.?
Because of the wide interest in Bible chronology, we here publish some notes on the subject that go beyond those needed merely to answer this question.
Bible chronology is an interesting study by which prophetic and historic events of the Bible are placed in their order of occurrence along the stream of time. There are problems in connection with Bible chronology which either straighten out only when the time comes for the fulfillment of Jehovah’s respective prophecies or are solved by reason of increased Bible scholarship or archaeological discoveries or because of better Bible translations which convey more clearly the original-language records. At this point, too, it must be admitted that there are still several knotty chronology problems in the Bible of a minor nature that have not as yet been resolved. Generally, however, the Watch Tower Society has endeavored to keep its associates abreast with the latest available scholarship on Bible chronology consistent with the internal historic and prophetic events recorded in the Scriptures.
Reliable Bible chronology requires the determination of certain Absolute dates. Absolute dates are starting points coinciding with proved secular historic dates from which a series of Bible dates can be reckoned forward and backward with certainty. For the Greek Scriptures portion of the Bible we have the Absolute date of August 19, A.D. 14,* Julian calendar (or August 17 Gregorian calendar) when Augustus Caesar died and was succeeded at that time by Tiberius Caesar to become the next emperor of Rome. This is an established date in Roman history. Thus when it is written at Luke 3:1-3 (NW): “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,” we know for a certainty that John’s ministry here referred to must have started in the spring of A.D. 29 and further that Jesus’ ministry, which followed John’s by about six months, must have commenced in the fall of A.D. 29.
Another illustration of an Absolute date for the Greek Scriptures is that of Nisan 14, A.D. 33, the date for the impalement of Jesus. The Scripture, at John 19:31 (NW), definitely indicates Jesus died on what to us is Friday, because the next day (Nisan 15) was said to be ‘a great sabbath,’ meaning that two legal sabbaths happened to fall due on the one Saturday, namely, (1) the regular weekly Jewish sabbath day according to Exodus 20:10 and (2) by the law of Moses, no matter on what day of the week it fell, the 15th of Nisan was always to be an additional day of rest, according to Leviticus 23:6, 7. Such a double sabbath falling legally due within the same twenty-four hours occurs only once every several years, thus emphasizing that Jesus died on a Friday afternoon according to the Scriptural accounts.
The accuracy of astronomy tables containing the eclipses of the moon away back to 1207 B.C. establishes such an Absolute date. These tables* prove that an eclipse of the moon occurred Friday, April 3, A.D. 33, Julian calendar (or April 1 according to our present Gregorian calendar), at six minutes past 3 p.m., Greenwich time. Since an eclipse of the moon always means a full moon and a full moon always occurs for a Nisan 14, this makes certain that Friday. April 1, A.D. 33 (Gregorian calendar), is the Absolute date for Jesus’ impalement.
Still a third example of an Absolute date for the Greek Scriptures of the Bible. Archaeologists in the latter part of the nineteenth century discovered an important inscription at Delphi, Greece, which in part says, when translated into English: “Claudius Caesar [Roman Emperor A.D. 41-54], Pontifex Maximus, of tribunician authority for the 12th time [12th year as Emperor] . . . greets the city of the Delphians . . . as Lucius Junius Gallio, my friend, and the proconsul of Achaia wrote . . . ”* The 12th year of Claudius’ emperorship would be in the early part of A.D. 52, inasmuch as the number “12th” is ordinal, meaning eleven full years plus some months; eleven years plus the extra months being counted from A.D. 41 when he began to rule, the result is A.D. 52. The above-mentioned Gallio is the Roman judge who heard the complaint made against Paul in Corinth, the capital of the southern Roman province of Greece known as Achaia. In the Bible it is recorded: “Now while Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews rose up with one accord against Paul and led him to the judgment seat.”—Acts 18:12, NW.
The impression given by the book of Acts is that Gallio had arrived in Corinth only shortly before the time when the Jews brought Paul into his presence. Since Dio Cassius reports a decree of Claudius requiring new officials to start from Rome for their assigned provinces by the first day of June,* Gallio must have started his proconsulship in Corinth around July 1, A.D. 51. This then establishes the sure date of the summer of A.D. 51 for Paul’s closing stay in Corinth. This Absolute date enables us to fix the chronology for all of Paul’s stirring ministry and for most of the book of Acts.
The outstanding Absolute date for the B.C. period of the Hebrew Scriptures is that for the fall of Babylon as the capital city of the third world power at the hands of Cyrus, king of the Persians, October 13, 539 B.C., Julian calendar (or October 7 by our present Gregorian calendar), which event is referred to at Isaiah 45:1. This date is made Absolute by reason of the archaeological discovery and deciphering of the famous Nabunaid Chronicle, which itself gives a date for the fall of Babylon and which figure specialists have determined equals October 13, 539 B.C., according to the Julian calendar of the Romans.*
From this known date we are then able quickly to understand Ezra 1:1, that the year 537 B.C. was the time when the decree was issued by King Cyrus for the return of the Jews to Palestine and that the temple was begun to be rebuilt in the fall of this same year 537 B.C. How is this calculated? In Assyria, Babylon and Persia, when a king first came to the throne, the year was usually called the king’s accession year, and not until the first day of the first month of the next year did the king begin counting events in his own first regnal year.* Cyrus as a Persian ruler counted his regnal years from spring to spring or from Nisan to Nisan. From October, 539 B.C., to the spring of 538 B.C. would be his accession year as the ruler of the fourth world power with the collapse of Babylon as the third world power. Therefore, his first regnal year as “King of Babylon and King of Lands” ran approximately from April, 538 B.C., to April, 537 B.C. Actually, a clay tablet has been found dated what amounts to our April 4, 538 B.C., indicating Cyrus’ first regnal year.* Therefore Cyrus’ issuing of the decree for the return of the Jews must have taken place before April, 537 B.C., and this would give the Jews plenty of time to travel back to Jerusalem by the fall of 537 B.C., to rebuild the altar as the first step in rebuilding the temple.—See Ezra 3:1, 2.
Jehovah’s witnesses from 1877 up to and including the publishing of “The Truth Shall Make You Free” of 1943 considered 536 B.C. as the year for the return of the Jews to Palestine, basing their calculations for the fall of Babylon on secular histories that were inaccurate, not up to date on archaeological evidences. This meant that Jeremiah’s seventy years of desolation for Jerusalem ran back from 536 B.C. to 606 B.C., instead of more correctly as now known from 537 B.C. to 607 B.C. (2 Chron. 36:21; Jer. 25:12; Zec. 1:12) With the above Absolute date for the fall of Babylon, the date 607 B.C. is on solid ground for the fall of Jerusalem, when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon terminated the reigning Davidic dynasty by taking Jerusalem’s last ruler, King Zedekiah, captive.* This leads to the important modern date of 1914, which marks the end of the “seven times” of 2,520 years of Gentile domination since the first fall of Jerusalem 607 B.C. (Dan. 4:9-16; Luke 21:24) This adjustment of one year for Jerusalem’s fall to 607 B.C. was acknowledged in the book “The Kingdom Is at Hand” of 1944, footnote of page 171, and also in The Watchtower of 1952, page 271.
Undue concern seems to be manifested as to the date of Adam’s creation and some ask, What are the reasons for changing the creation date of Adam first from 4028 B.C. to 4026 B.C. and now recently in the book “New Heavens and a New Earth” to 4025 B.C.? Let us examine the advancements made in Bible chronology that have warranted the above adjustments as we have moved forward to newer positions of light as to God’s Word.—Prov. 4:18.
While preparing in 1944 the book “The Kingdom Is at Hand” a two-year error was detected by internal Bible scholarship. In the following quotation from this 1944 publication of the Society, full explanation is offered: “In the book ‘The Truth Shall Make You Free’, published in 1943, the chronology on pages 150, 151 concerning the kings of Jerusalem, from Solomon’s successor to Zedekiah, is based on the book of 2 Chronicles, chapters 12 to 36. This appears to show the reigns of those kings as successive, end to end. Actually, however, this was not so, as is plainly shown in the books of 1 and 2 Kings, which books give us a countercheck on the successors of Solomon by a comparison of these kings of Judah with the neighbor kings of the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel. . . . Measured by 2 Chronicles, the period of kings from Saul to Zedekiah was 513 years. Measured by the more precise and detailed books of Kings, the period was actually 511 years, or 2 years less. This fact affects the chronology as a whole and pulls man’s creation 2 years closer to A.D. 1 and gives it the date 4026 B.C., not 4028 B.C.”—Footnote, page 171.
In 1953 in preparing the chart that appears in the book “New Heavens and a New Earth” a one-year error was brought to light. By the aid of the New World Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures the difference between the two numbers appearing at Genesis 7:6 and Genesis 7:11 became apparent, especially since there are two different Hebrew words here maintaining a distinct difference. At Genesis 7:6 the number 600 referring to Noah’s age means 600 full years, being what is generally termed a cardinal number. Whereas at Genesis 7:11 the number “600th,” an ordinal number, means 599 full years plus a portion of another year. For example, this is said to be the twentieth century, meaning there have been nineteen full centuries in the past and we are now fifty-four years along in the next century. To reconcile these two different numbers properly translated from the Hebrew text, the position clearly appeared that Noah must have entered the ark in November upon the beginning of the flood when he was 599 years old plus some months. But that while he was in the ark some months later with the deluge waters still occurring upon the earth, Noah had a birthday rounding out his full 600 years. Inasmuch as previously our chronology considered Noah as 600 full years old when he entered the ark, instead of the actual 599 years and some months, as we now see, this has meant that the preflood dates must be shrunk by one year, this bringing Adam’s creation for the fall of 4025 B.C. Incidentally, Jesus, who became the second or “last Adam,” was born in the fall of the year around the first of October.—1 Cor. 15:45, NW.
It is well to understand that all Bible chronology dates for events prior to 539 B.C. must be figured backward from the Absolute date of 539 B.C. In the sure date of 607 B.C. for the fall of Jerusalem we have an anchor for the chronology establishment of the important year of 1914. By an overwhelming number of physical facts occurring since 1914, this great turning-point year in man’s history, 1914, has been abundantly confirmed.
According to Genesis 1:24-31 Adam was created during the last part of the sixth creative-day period of 7,000 years. Almost all independent chronologists assume incorrectly that, as soon as Adam was created, then began Jehovah’s seventh seven-thousand-year period of the creative week. Such then figure that from Adam’s creation, now thought to be the fall of 4025 B.C., why, six thousand years of God’s rest day would be ending in the fall of 1976. However, from our present chronology (which is admitted imperfect) at best the fall of the year 1976 would be the end of 6,000 years of human history for mankind, 6,000 years of man’s existence on the earth, not 6,000 years of Jehovah’s seventh seven-thousand-year period. Why not? Because Adam lived some time after his creation in the latter part of Jehovah’s sixth creative period, before the seventh period, Jehovah’s sabbath, began.
Why, it must have taken Adam quite some time to name all the animals, as he was commissioned to do. Further, it appears from the New World Bible Translation that, even while Adam was naming the animals, other family kinds of living creatures were being created for Adam to designate by name. (Gen. 2:19 footnote d, NW) It was not until after Adam completed this assignment of work that his helpmate Eve was created. Since God created nothing new whatever on the seventh day, Eve must have been created on the sixth day; and this the divine record confirms in its account of the sixth day: “God proceeded to create the man in his image, in God’s image he created him; male and female he created them.”—Gen. 1:27, NW.
The very fact that, as part of Jehovah’s secret, no one today is able to find out how much time Adam and later Eve lived during the closing days of the sixth creative period, so no one can now determine when six thousand years of Jehovah’s present rest day come to an end. Obviously, whatever amount of Adam’s 930 years was lived before the beginning of that seventh-day rest of Jehovah, that unknown amount would have to be added to the 1976 date.
The Americana, 1927 edition, Vols. II, p. 548, and XXVI, p. 606.
Canon der Finsternisse, by T. R. Oppolzer, Vienna 1887, Vol. II, p. 344.
Light from the Ancient Past, by Finegan, 1946, p. 282.
Light from the Ancient Past, by Finegan, 1946, p. 282.
Babylonian Chronology 626 B.C.—A.D. 45, by Parker and Dubberstein, 1942, p. 11.
The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, by E. R. Thiele, 1951, p. 14.
Strassmaier, Cyrus, tablet No. 11.