The Biblical Timeline (2024)

We believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, thus our primary source for dating events and people in the Bible Prophecy Timeline are the Bible’s genealogies and event-to-event comparisons found in other traditionally accepted non-biblical sources, such as ancient historical records by Josephus and modern-day scholarship by professional theologians and educators. For this chronology, we relied on the Masoretic text, on which English Bibles are based.

While we believe the Bible Prophecy Timeline provides the most accurate dating available, many dates are still subject to interpretation and some educated guesswork due to a few vague areas in Bible history. As with anyone’s family tree, the farther back you go the fuzzier things can become.

The following is a brief summary of our calculated date of creation, beginning with the chronology found in Genesis chapter five:

NameBirth (AC)Age when son bornLength of lifeDeath (AC)
Adam0130930930
Seth1301059121042
Enosh235909051140
Kenan325709101235
Mahalalel395658951290
Jared4601629621422
Enoch62265365987*
Methuselah6871879691656
Lamech8741827771651
Noah1056500

Timespans in the Bible are typically recorded in terms of people’s ages, events, and king’s reigns. Presuming that Adam was created in year 0, we’ll assume that his son Seth was born in the year 130 After Creation—or 130 AC.

(This presumption makes it reckless to be dogmatic as to the exact year of creation. Additionally, because we are not told the month and day of each birth in the Bible, there is the potential for an error of up to 364 days in these calculations every time a new birth is mentioned.)

Genesis chapter 5 ends with the statement that “after Noah was 500 years old he became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” Genesis 9:24 tells us that Ham was Noah’s youngest son. Genesis 11:10 tells us that Shem was 100 years old two years after the Flood, which means he must have been born when Noah was 502. We conclude that Japheth was the son born when Noah was 500 years old, Shem two years later, and Ham an unspecified period after that.

NameBirth (AC)Age when son bornLength of lifeDeath (AC)
Noah10565029502006
Shem15581006002158
Arphaxad1658354382096
Shelah1693304332126
Eber1723344642187
Peleg1757302391996
Reu1787322392026
Serug1819302302049
Nahor1849291481997
Terah187870

The next point of interest is the date of Shem’s death. With the exception of Eber, none of Shem’s descendants outlived him. Now let us consider the Hebrew patriarchs …

NameBirth (AC)Age when son bornLength of lifeDeath (AC)Reference
Terah187870205208311:32
Abraham1948100175212321:5; 25:7
Isaac204860180222825:26; 35:28
Jacob21081472255

With Jacob, the tidy progression of fathers and sons ends. We are not told how old he was when he fled to Haran nor given his age when any of his children are born. It is possible, however, to work out when Joseph was born.

We are told Joseph was 30 when he was appointed over the land of Egypt (Genesis 41:46). There followed seven years of plenty and, in the second year of the famine, Joseph revealed himself to his brothers (Genesis 45:6), which would make him about 39. Jacob came down to Egypt when he was 130 years old (Genesis 47:9), which means that Joseph was born when Jacob was 91—that is, in 2199 AC.

As most of Jacob’s family seems to have been born during the 20 years that he was in Haran, it appears that the twins Jacob and Esau were about 70 when the deception over the birthright occurred. We assume then that Jacob was 71 when he fled to Haran. He served Laban for seven years before marrying, and Levi was the third son to be born to Leah. If we assume that Leah was pregnant once a year, then Jacob was 81 when Levi was born. If Joseph was born about 2199 AC, his older brother Levi must have been born about 2189 AC.

Next, God told Abraham that his descendants would be enslaved for 400 years or four generations (Genesis 15:13). This seems to be confirmed by the statement in Exodus 12:40, 41 that the children of Israel were in Egypt for 430 years. If Jacob went to Egypt in the year 2238 AC, that would place the Exodus in the year 2668 AC.

There is, however, a problem. As given in Exodus chapter 6, Levi, who lived 137 years, had a son called Kohath, who lived 133 years, and a daughter, Jochebed. Amram, son of Kohath, married his aunt Jochebed, and lived for 137 years. Their son was Moses. This comes to a total of 407 years, and when we add in Moses’ age of 80 at the time of the Exodus, we seem to have plenty of time to fit in the 430 year of the oppression.

The trouble is that the years don’t just add up like that. The average age of the preceding four generations when their first son was born was 75. If Levi, Kohath, and Amram were also 75 when their sons were born—and Moses was 80 at the time of the Exodus—that makes a span of 305 years for the Jewish oppression, minus Levi’s age when he went down into Egypt, which was 49. The oppression can only have lasted 256 years.

The usual solution adopted by most commentators is to conclude that the 430 years refer not to the oppression but to the time that Abraham and his descendants would have to wait until the land of Canaan belonged to them. The 430 years is the time from Abraham’s visit to Egypt until the Exodus. This works out as approximately 215 years of wandering in Canaan and 215 years of oppression in Egypt.

There is evidence that this is how the Jews understood this passage. Josephus, the 1st century AD Jewish historian, wrote, “They left Egypt in the month Xanthicus, on the fifteenth day of the lunar month; four hundred and thirty years after our forefather Abraham came into Canaan, but two hundred and fifteen years only after Jacob removed into Egypt” (Antiquities of the Jews II:xv:2). A scroll fragment from the Dead Sea (4Q559) confirms this short chronology.

Jacob went down into Egypt in the year 2238 AC and, for our purposes, we will place the Exodus 215 years later in the year 2453 AC. Again, an approximation.

Next, in 1 Kings 6:1, we are told that the fourth year of Solomon’s reign was the 480th year after the Exodus. That means a date of 2933 AC for the commencement of work on the temple.

Dr. Edwin R. Thiele, in The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, establishes the year 931 BC as the date when Rehoboam began to reign. Assuming he’s correct, 1 Kings 11:42 tells us that Solomon reigned for 40 years, so his reign began in the year 971 BC, which means that his fourth year must have been the year 967 BC.

Therefore, if Solomon’s fourth year, the year 967 BC, came 2933 years after creation, then we can say that this world was created in the year 3900 BC. As it should be obvious that this can only be an approximate date, it should be equally obvious that there are limits to the amount one can stretch the chronology. If we make the Jewish oppression 430 years, include maximum time between generations, and so on, the most we can add in is another thousand years or so. Certainly there is no room in the biblical figures for pushing creation back to 10,000 BC.

No. The Bible says that as to the day and hour of Christ’s return, no one knows. See Matthew 24:50. Moreover, the return of Christ will only come after other prophetic fulfillments occur—and we don’t know when those will happen either. The timeline’s purpose is not to predict when exactly future events will occur, but rather to show the Bible’s reliability as an historical record, its trustworthiness in matters of prophecy, and as an in-depth tool for Bible study.

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The Biblical Timeline (2024)
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