accomplishment. The years will seem to flow faster and faster, and appreciative and retentive minds will be continually enriched with memories of happy events. As millenniums pass, humans on this earth will no doubt come to appreciate more fully Jehovah’s view of time: ‘For a thousand years in Jehovah’s eyes are but as yesterday when it is past.’—Ps. 90:4.
33. With regard to time, what blessing has Jehovah commanded?
33 Viewing the stream of time from our present human standpoint and taking into account God’s promise of a new world of righteousness, how joyous in prospect are the blessings of that day: “For there Jehovah commanded the blessing to be, even life to time indefinite”!—Ps. 133:3.
Studies on the Inspired Scriptures and Their Background
Study Number 3—Measuring Events in the Stream of Time
The counting of time in Bible days and a discussion of the chronology of outstanding events of both the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures.
1. (a) What indicates that Jehovah is an accurate timekeeper? (b) What progress has been made in understanding Bible chronology?
IN GIVING Daniel the vision of “the king of the north” and “the king of the south,” Jehovah’s angel several times used the expression “the time appointed.” (Dan. 11:6, 27, 29, 35) There are many other scriptures too that indicate Jehovah is an accurate timekeeper, who accomplishes his purposes exactly on time. (Luke 21:24; 1 Thess. 5:1, 2) In his Word, the Bible, he has provided a number of “guideposts” that help us locate important happenings in the stream of time. Much progress has been made in the understanding of Bible chronology. Research by archaeologists and others continues to shed light on various problems, enabling us to determine the timing of key events of the Bible record.—Prov. 4:18.
2. Give an example of reckoning with ordinal numbers.
2 Ordinal and Cardinal Numbers. In the previous study (paragraphs 24 and 25), we learned that there is a difference between cardinal numbers and ordinal numbers. This should be kept in mind when measuring Biblical periods in harmony with modern dating methods. For example, in the reference to “the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin the king of Judah,” the term “thirty-seventh” is an ordinal number. It represents 36 full years plus some days, weeks, or months (whatever time had elapsed from the end of the 36th year).—Jer. 52:31.
3. (a) What State records assist in determining Bible dates? (b) What was a regnal year, and what was an accession year?
3 Regnal and Accession Years. The Bible refers to State records of the governments of Judah and Israel, as well as to State matters of Babylon and Persia. In all four of these kingdoms, State chronology was accurately reckoned according to the rulerships of the kings, and the same system of reckoning has been carried over into the Bible. Very often the Bible gives the name of the document quoted, as, for example, “the book of the affairs of Solomon.” (1 Ki. 11:41) The reign of a king would cover part of an accession year, to be followed by a complete number of regnal years. Regnal years were the official years in the kingship and were generally counted from Nisan to Nisan, or from spring to spring. When a king succeeded to the throne, the intervening months until the next spring month of Nisan were referred to as his accession year, during which he filled out the regnal term of rulership for his predecessor. However, his own official regnal term was counted as beginning on the next Nisan 1.
4. Show how Bible chronology may be counted according to regnal years.
4 As an example, it appears that Solomon began reigning sometime before Nisan of 1037 B.C.E., while David was still living. Shortly afterward, David died. (1 Ki. 1:39, 40; 2:10) However, David’s last regnal year continued down to the spring of 1037 B.C.E., still being counted as part of his 40-year administration. The partial year, from the start of Solomon’s reign until spring of 1037 B.C.E., is referred to as Solomon’s accession year, and it could not be counted as a regnal year for him, as he was still filling out his father’s term of administration. Therefore, Solomon’s first full regnal year did not begin until Nisan of 1037 B.C.E. (1 Ki. 2:12) Eventually, 40 full regnal years were credited to Solomon’s administration as king. (1 Ki. 11:42) By keeping the regnal years apart from accession years in this way, it is possible to calculate Bible chronology accurately.a
COUNTING BACK TO ADAM’S CREATION
5. How is the date for the restoration of Jehovah’s worship in Jerusalem determined?
5 Starting From the Pivotal Date. The pivotal date for counting back to Adam’s creation is that of Cyrus’ overthrow of the Babylonian dynasty, 539 B.C.E.b Cyrus issued his decree of liberation for the Jews during his first year, before the spring of 537 B.C.E. Ezra 3:1 reports that the sons of Israel were back in Jerusalem by the seventh month, Tishri, corresponding to parts of September and October. So the autumn of 537 B.C.E. is reckoned as the date of the restoration of Jehovah’s worship in Jerusalem.
6. (a) What foretold period ended in the autumn of 537 B.C.E.? (b) When must that period have begun, and how do the facts support this?
6 This restoration of Jehovah’s worship in the autumn of 537 B.C.E. marked the end of a prophetic period. What period? It was the “seventy years” during which the Promised Land “must become a devastated place” and concerning which Jehovah also said, “In accord with the fulfilling of seventy years at Babylon I shall turn my attention to you people, and I will establish toward you my good word in bringing you back to this place.” (Jer. 25:11, 12; 29:10) Daniel, who was well acquainted with this prophecy, acted in harmony with it as the “seventy years” drew to a close. (Dan. 9:1-3) The “seventy years” that ended in the autumn of the year 537 B.C.E. must have begun, then, in the autumn of 607 B.C.E. The facts bear this out. Jeremiah chapter 52 describes the momentous events of the siege of Jerusalem, the Babylonian breakthrough, and the capture of King Zedekiah in 607 B.C.E. Then, as Jer 52 verse 12 states, “in the fifth month, on the tenth day,” that is, the tenth day of Ab (corresponding to parts of July and August), the Babylonians burned the temple and the city. However, this was not yet the starting point of the “seventy years.” Some vestige of Jewish sovereignty still remained in the person of Gedaliah, whom the king of Babylon had appointed as governor of the remaining Jewish settlements. “In the seventh month,” Gedaliah and some others were assassinated, so that the remaining Jews fled in fear to Egypt. Then only, from about October 1, 607 B.C.E., was the land in the complete sense “lying desolated . . . to fulfill seventy years.”—2 Ki. 25:22-26; 2 Chron. 36:20, 21.
7. (a) How may the years be calculated back to the division of the kingdom after Solomon’s death? (b) What support is supplied by Ezekiel’s prophecy?
7 From 607 B.C.E. to 997 B.C.E. The calculation for this period backward from the fall of Jerusalem to the time of the division of the kingdom after Solomon’s death presents many difficulties. However, a comparison of the reigns of the kings of Israel and of Judah as recorded in First and Second Kings indicates that this time period covers 390 years. Strong evidence that this is the correct figure is the prophecy of Ezekiel 4:1-13. This prophecy shows that it is pointing to the time when Jerusalem would be besieged and its inhabitants taken captive by the nations, which occurred in 607 B.C.E. So the 40 years spoken of in the case of Judah terminated with Jerusalem’s desolation. The 390 years spoken of in the case of Israel did not end when Samaria was destroyed, for that was long past when Ezekiel prophesied, and the prophecy plainly says that it is pointing to the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. Thus, “the error of the house of Israel,” too, terminated in 607 B.C.E. Counting back from this date, we see that the period of 390 years began in 997 B.C.E. In that year, Jeroboam, after the death of Solomon, broke with the house of David and “proceeded to part Israel from following Jehovah, and he caused them to sin with a great sin.”—2 Ki. 17:21.
8. (a) How are the years reckoned back to the Exodus? (b) What change affects Bible chronology about this time?
8 From 997 B.C.E. to 1513 B.C.E. Since the last of Solomon’s 40 full regnal years ended in the spring of 997 B.C.E., it follows that his first regnal year must have commenced in the spring of 1037 B.C.E. (1 Ki. 11:42) The Bible record, at 1 Kings 6:1, says that Solomon began to build the house of Jehovah in Jerusalem in the second month of the fourth year of his reign. This means three full years and one complete month of his reign had elapsed, bringing us to April-May of 1034 B.C.E. for the start of the temple building. However, the same scripture states that this was also “the four hundred and eightieth year after the sons of Israel came out from the land of Egypt.” Again, 480th is an ordinal number, representing 479 complete years. Hence, 479 added to 1034 gives the date 1513 B.C.E. as the year that Israel came out of Egypt. Paragraph 19 of Study 2 explains that from the year 1513 B.C.E., Abib (Nisan) was to be reckoned as “the first of the months of the year” for Israel (Ex. 12:2) and that previously a year beginning in the autumn, with the