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Eusebius Chronicon


[p1] I have searched through the various books of ancient history; [I have read] what the Chaldaeans and Assyrians have recorded, what the Egyptians have written in detail, and what the Greek have related as accurately as possible. They include the dates of their kings and the Olympiads, which are athletic contests, and they contain the outstanding exploits of both the Greeks and the barbarians, of both the brave and the decadent. They also mention the remarkable victories of these nations, their generals, scholars, heroes, poets, historians and philosophers.

I think it is fitting, or rather a useful and necessary task, to summarise all this, and to write down the ancient history and chronology of the Hebrews, taken from the Holy Scriptures, alongside the things which I have just mentioned. From that we can tell how long Moses, and the prophets who came after him, lived before the appearance on earth of our saviour, about which they prophesied through the holy spirit; and we can easily recognise in which [reigns] of Greek or barbarian [rulers] the famous men of each race were alive; and at what time, from the beginning, the outstanding prophets existed amongst the Hebrews, together with all their rulers, one after another.

I warn and advise everyone from the start, that no-one should ever pretend that he can be completely certain about matters of chronology. It will help if first we remember the advice of our true master, [p3] who told his companions [Acts, 1’7]: “It is not for you to know the hours and seasons whicih the Father has set under his own authority.” He, as our Lord and God, uttered this saying not only about the end of the world, but also, in my opinion, about all dates, to dissuade men from such pointless investigations.

Indeed, my own words here will confirm this saying of our master, [by showing] that it is not possible to gain an accurate knowledge of the whole chronology of the world from the Greeks, or from any others, not even from the Hebrews themselves. But it is possible to hope for this only: that what is said by us in this present treatise will help us to recognise two things. Firstly, no-one, like some have done, should believe that he is calculating dates with full accuracy, and be deceived in that way. But he should realise that this has been brought up for discussion, only so that he can know the means and manner of the proposed investigation, and so that he should not remain in doubt.

There is no reason to be surprised that the Greeks do not appear in the most ancient times. They have fallen into various fatal errors, and for a long time before the generation of Cadmus they were completely ignorant of writing. They say that Cadmus was the first to bring them the alphabet, from the land of the Phoenicians. And so the Egyptian in Plato’s book [ Timaeus, 22’B ] rightly despises Solon; “O Solon,” he says, “you Greeks are always children. An old Greek man is never to be found, and no-one can learn from you about ancient times.” But many improbable stories have been told by the Egyptians and Chaldaeans. For instance, the Chaldaeans calculate that their recorded history has lasted for more than 400,000 years. [p5] The Egyptians make up myths about gods and demi-gods, and also about some shades; and they tell many crazy myths about other mortal kings.

Yet what forces me to examine such matters in detail now, when I value the truth above all else? Even amongst my beloved Hebrews one can find inconsistencies, which I will mention at the appropriate time. But I have said this much in reproach of those chroniclers who are eager for such hollow glory.

In accordance with these objectives, I will scrutinise the books of the ancient writers.

First I will put in writing the chronology of the Chaldaeans; and then the chronology of the Assyrians; next the kings of the Medes; and then the kings of the Lydians and Persians.  Then I will go on to a different topic, and set out all the chronology of the Hebrews in sequence.  After the Hebrews, in the third section [I will set out] the dates of the Egyptian dynasties.  I will add to them the dynasty of the Ptolemaei, who reigned after Alexander the Macedonian in Egypt and Alexandria.  Then I will start on another [topic], and describe one after another what the Greeks have told about their history: first the rulers of Sicyon, and then [the rulers] of the land of the Argives, and of the city of the Athenians, from the first to the last; next, the kings of Lacedaemon and Corinth; and lastly, those who in any region held control of the sea.  To these I will add a list of the Olympiads, which are recorded by the Greeks.  After I have set out all the Olympiads in sequence, I will write down the first kings of the Macedonians and Thessalians, and then the leaders of the Syrians and Asians, who came after Alexander, one by one.  Next I will set out in their turn all the individual rulers of the Latins, who were later called Romans, starting from Aeneias after the capture of Troy.  Then [I will set out] in sequence [the kings], starting from Romulus, who founded the city of Rome; the succession of emperors, starting from Julius Caesar and Augustus; and the consuls for each year.

After collecting material from all these sources, I will move on to the chronological canons of time. Resuming from the beginning with those who ruled in each nation, I will divide their dates into separate series; [p7] and next to them I will place in sequence the numbers of their [regnal] years, so that it can easily and quickly be seen, at which time each of them lived. I will briefly mention the outstanding events of each reign, as recorded by every nation, in the context of that reign.

But the second book is a task for the future. Now, in the following section, let us investigate the chronology of the Chaldaeans, and what they have recorded about their ancestors.


How the Chaldaeans record their chronology, from [the writings of] Alexander Polyhistor; about the books of the Chaldaeans, and their first kings

That is what Berossus relates in his first book, and in the second book he lists the kings, one after another. He says that Nabonassar was king at that time. He merely lists the names of the kings, and says very little about their achievements; or perhaps he thinks that they are not worth mentioning, when he has already stated the number of kings. He begins to write as follows: “Apollodorus says that the first king was Alorus, who was a Chaldaean from Babylon, and he reigned for 10 sars.” He divides a sar into 3,600 years, and adds two other [measures of time]: a ner and a soss. He says that a ner is 600 years, and a soss is 60 years. He counts the years in this way, following some ancient form of calculation. After saying this, he proceeds to list ten kings of the Assyrians, one after the other in [chronological] order; from Alorus, the first king, until Xisuthrus, in whose reign the first great flood occurred, the flood which Moses mentions.

He says that the total length of the reigns of the [ten] kings was 120 sars, which is the equivalent of 432,000 years. He writes about the individual kings as follows:

The reigns of all these kings, added together, make 120 sars. They are calculated in this way:

In total, 10 kings and 120 sars. [p11] And they say that 120 sars are the equivalent of 432,000 years, because one sar is the equivalent of 3,600 years.

That is what Alexander Polyhistor says in his book. But if anyone thinks that what is contained in that book is a true history, and that [those kings] really ruled for so many myriads of years, then he should also believe in all the other similar things in that book, which are equally incredible. Now will tell what Berossus wrote in the first book of his history, and first I will add another quotation from the same book of Polyhistor, as follows.

Another unreliable account of Chaldaean history, from the same book of Alexander Polyhistor about the Chaldaeans

Berossus, in the first book of his Babylonian History, says that he lived at the time of Alexander the son of Philippus, and that he transcribed the writings of many authors, which had been carefully preserved at Babylon, containing the records of (?) over 150,000 years. These writings contain the history of heaven and the sea, of creation, and of the kings and their deeds.

Firstly, he says that the land of Babylonia lies between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. Wild wheat, barley, lentils and sesame grow on the land; and the marshes produce roots, called gonges, which are as nutritious as barley. There are dates, apples, [p13] and other fruits and fish, as well as birds in the woods and marshes. The parts lying towards Arabia are dry and barren, but the parts on the opposite side from Arabia are mountainous and fertile. A large number of foreigners dwell in Chaldaea; they live in Babylon in a disorderly way, like wild animals.

In the first year, a horrible beast appeared out of the Red Sea in the region near Babylonia. Its name was Oannes, according to Apollodorus. It had the complete body of a fish, but underneath its head there grew another head, beneath the fish’s head; and in the same way the feet of a man grew of the tail of the fish. It had the voice of a man, and its likeness has been preserved even down to the present day. He says that this beast spent the day with men, taking no food, but instructing them about writing and science and all kinds of crafts. It taught them about founding cities and establishing temples, about introducing laws and about geometry. It showed them how to sow seed and gather fruit; and in general it gave men all the skills they needed for a civilised life. Since that time, nothing additional has been discovered.

But when the sun set, this beast called Oannes went back into the sea, and spent the night in the water, because it was amphibious. Afterwards other similar beasts appeared, which he says he will mention in the list of kings. But he says that Oannes wrote about creation and about the government of states, and he passed on this message on to mankind.

There was once a time, in which everything was darkness and water. [p15] In those times, monstrous beasts were born, with strange appearances. There were men with two wings, and some with four wings and two faces. They had one body, but two heads, of a man and a woman, and two sets of genitals, male and female. Other men had the legs and horns of a goat, or the hooves of a horse, or the rear end of a horse and the front of a man, like centaurs. Other beasts were born, such as bulls with human heads; dogs with four bodies and fish tails protruding from their rear end; horses with dogs’ heads; humans and other animals with the head and body of a horse, but the tail of a fish; and other beasts with the form of all kinds of wild animals. As well as these [beasts], there were fish and reptiles and snakes and many other strange creatures, each of which had a different appearance. Representations of them were set up in the temple of Belus. A woman called Omorca ruled over all these [creatures]; she is called Thalatth in the Chaldaean language, which is translated into Greek as thalassa (“the sea”).

When everything was joined together in this way, Belus came along and split the woman in half. Half of her he made the heavens, and the other half he made the earth; and he destroyed all the creatures on her. He says that this story is an allegory about nature; for when everything was wet and creatures were born in it, this god cut off his own head. The other gods took the blood that flowed from him and by mixing it with earth they created men. Therefore men are intelligent and have a share of divine reason.

[p17] Belus, which is translated as Zeus in Greek, cut the darkness in half. He separated the earth and the heavens from each other, and he arranged the universe. But because the creatures could not bear the power of the light, they were destroyed. When Belus saw that the land was empty and fertile, he ordered one of the gods to cut off his own head, and by mixing the blood which flowed from him with earth, to create men and wild beasts who could endure the air. Belus created the stars, the sun, the moon and the five planets.

That, according to Alexander Polyhistor, is what Berossus says in his first book. In the second book he lists the kings, one after another, and he says that the time of the ten kings, which we mentioned above, lasted for longer than 400,000 years. Anyone who believes that these writers are telling the truth about such a huge number of years should believe all the other improbable stories that they tell. Such a length of time is clearly supernatural, and is not worthy of belief, even if it is explained in a different way. And even if someone thinks that this number of years is possible, they still should not accept the statement about the dates without some further questions. If the number of rulers was sufficient to explain all these thousands of years, which are produced by their chronology, or if the writers reported the events and actions which would be expected to occur over such a length of time, then one might perhaps agree that there is some likelihood of their account being true. But as they claim that so many myriads of years were taken up by the rule of only ten men, who can doubt that these stories are merely ravings and myths?

Perhaps these so-called sars were originally measured not in years, but in some very small period of time. For instance, the ancient Egyptians talked about lunar years, [p19] that is a month of days or years containing 30 days. Other people consider the seasons to be periods of three months; in other words, they reckon each changing period of three months as a single year, and count the years in that way. Similarly, it is likely that the so-called sar of the Chaldaeans indicated some such [period of time].

So they count only ten generations from Alorus, who was the first to be called king [of the Chaldaeans], up until Xisuthrus, in whose reign the great flood occurred. In the Hebrew scriptures also, Moses declares that there were ten generations before the flood; for the Hebrews mention that number of generations, one by one, from the first man in their account up until the flood. But Hebrew history assigns about 2,000 years to these ten generations. Assyrian [history] lists the same number of generations as the book of Moses, but produces a very different total of years. It says that the ten generations lasted for 120 sars, which is the equivalent of (?) 430,000 years.

The reader who is keen to know the truth can easily understand, from what we have already said, that Xisuthrus is the same as the man who is called Noah by the Hebrews, in whose time the great flood occurred. The book of Polyhistor also mentions him, and writes about him as follows.

From the same book of Alexander Polyhistor, about the flood

When Otiartes died, his son Xisuthrus became king, for 18 sars. In his reign, the great flood occurred. This is how the story is told.

Cronus (whom they call the father of Zeus, while others call him Chronus [“time”]) approached him in his sleep, and said that on the 15th day of the month of Daesius the human race would be destroyed by a flood. [p21] Cronos ordered him to bury the beginnings, the middles and the ends of all writings in Heliopolis, the city of the Sippareni; to build a boat and embark on it with his close friends; to load the boat with food and drink, and to put on board every kind of bird and four-footed creature; and then, when all the preparations were complete, to sail away. When he asked where he should sail, Cronus replied, “To the gods, to pray that good things may happen to men.” Xisuthrus did as he had been told. He built a boat which was 15 stades long, and 2 stades wide. After completing everything as instructed, he sent his wife, his children and his close friends onto the boat.

When the flood had come, and soon afterwards stopped, Xisuthrus sent out some of the birds. But they could not find any food or anywhere to rest, and so they returned to the boat. A few days later, Xisuthrus sent out the birds again, and this time they returned to the boat with mud on their feet. The third time that he sent out the birds, they no longer returned to the boat. Xisuthrus realised that some land had appeared. He removed part of the sides of the boat, and saw that it had come to rest on a mountain. He disembarked with his wife and daughter and the helmsman, and kissed the ground. After he had set up an altar and had sacrificed to the gods, he disappeared from sight, along with the others who had left the boat with him. When Xisuthrus and his companions did not return, the remainder of those who were on the boat disembarked and searched for him, calling out his name. They could not see Xisuthrus anywhere, but a voice came out of the sky telling them that they should honour the gods, and that Xisuthrus had gone to live with the gods, because of the honour he showed them; his wife, his daughter and the helmsman had received the same reward. The voice told them to return to Babylon; they were destined to dig up the writings which had been hidden in the city of the Sippareni, [p23] and distribute them amongst men. They were told that they were now in the land of Armenia.

When they heard all of this, they sacrificed to the gods and went by foot to Babylon. A small part of the boat, which came to rest in Armenia, can still be found in the mountains of the Cordyaei in Armenia. Some people scrape off the asphalt, which covers the boat, and use it to ward off diseases, like an amulet. When they arrived back in Babylon, they dug up the writings in the city of the Sippareni. They founded many cities, and re-founded Babylon, constructing many temples.

Afterwards Polyhistor gives an account of the building of the tower, which agrees with the books of Moses, in exactly these words.

[From the writings] of Alexander Polyhistor, about the building of the tower

The Sibyl says: “When men all spoke the same language, they built a very tall tower, so that they could climb up to heaven. However god blew a wind at them and overturned the tower. Then he gave each of them their own language, and so the city was called Babylon. After the flood there came Titan and Prometheus, in whose time Titan made war against Cronus.”

That is what Polyhistor says about the building of the tower. He continues with the following details.

The Hebrew scriptures say that Sennacherib was king at the time of king Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah. To be exact, Holy Scripture says [ 2 Kings 18’13 ]: “It happened in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah that Sennacherib the king of the Assyrians marched against the fortified cities of Judah, and captured them.” And after telling the whole story, it continues [ 2 Kings 19’37 ]: “And his son Esarhaddon reigned in his place.” Later on again, it adds [ 2 Kings 20’1 ]: “It happened at that time that Hezekiah fell ill”, and [ 2 Kings 20’12 ] “ at that time Merodach Baladan sent envoys with letters and gifts to Hezekiah.”. That is what the Hebrew scriptures say.

But Sennacherib and his son Esarhaddon [Asordanus] and Merodach Baladan, along with Nebuchadnezzar, are mentioned by the historian of the Chaldaeans, who speaks about them as follows.

[p27] [From the writings] of the same Alexander, about Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar, their exploits and their virtues

After the reign of the brother of Sennacherib, when Achises had been king for less than thirty days, he was killed by Merodach Baladan. Merodach Baladan seized the throne, but after ruling for six months he was killed by someone called Elibus, who became king in his place. In the third year of his reign, Sennacherib the king of the Assyrians led an army against the Babylonians and defeated them in battle. He captured Elibus, and ordered him to be taken with his friends to the land of the Assyrians. After bringing the Babylonians under his control, he appointed his son Asordanus to be their king. Then he returned to the land of the Assyrians.

When Sennacherib heard that the Greeks had arrived in Cilicia with the intention of fighting, he set out for Cilicia and met them in battle. Although many men from his own army were killed, he defeated the enemy, and as a monument of his victory he set up a statue of himself in that place. He ordered it to be inscribed with Chaldaean letters, which recorded his bravery and greatness for future generations. And he founded the city of Tarsus, on the same model as Babylon, and gave it the name of Tharsis.

Then, after relating the other achievements of Sennacherib, he adds: “After remaining [in power] for 18 years, he died as a result of a plot which was formed against him by his son Ardumuzan.” That is what Polyhistor says [about Sennacherib].

These dates agree with what is said in Holy Scripture. For in the time of Hezekiah, as Polyhistor states:

In total, from Hezekiah until Nebuchadnezzar, there are 88 years, which is the same number of years as was calculated by Polyhistor in his history of the Chaldaeans.

After this, Polyhistor relates some other deeds and exploits of Sennacherib. He speaks about his son in the same way as the Hebrew scriptures, and gives a detailed account of all that happened. He says that the philosopher Pythagoras lived at the same time as these kings. After Sammuges, Sardanapallus was king of the Chaldaeans for 21 years.

Sardanapallus sent an army to the assistance of Astyages, the satrap of the Medes, and accepted Amyïtis, the daughter of Astyages, as the bride of his son Nebuchadnezzar. Then Nebuchadnezzar became king for 43 years. After gathering an army, he attacked the Jews, Phoenicians and Syrians, whom he took away as captives. I do not need to give a long explanation to prove that Polyhistor agrees with the Hebrew scriptures in this matter also.

After Nebuchadnezzar, his son Amilmarudoch became king for 12 years. He is called Evilmerodach in the Hebrew histories. Polyhistor says that after him, Neglissar ruled the Chaldaeans for 4 years, and then Nabonidus for 17 years. In his reign, Cyrus the son of Cambyses led an army against the land of the Babylonians. Nabonidus met him [in battle], but was defeated and put to flight.

Just as Berossus gives a brief account of each of the Chaldaean kings, so Polyhistor describes them in the same manner. From what he says, it is clear that Nebuchadnezzar led an army against the Jews and conquered them. From Nebuchadnezzar until Cyrus the king of the Persians, there is period of 70 years. [p31] The Hebrew histories agree with this, and state that the Jews were in captivity for 70 years, calculating from the first year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar up until Cyrus the king of the Persians.

Abydenus, whose account is similar to Polyhistor (?) in most respects, writes as follows in his History of the Chaldaeans.

[From the writings] of Abydenus, about the first kings of the Chaldaeans

So much about the wisdom of the Chaldaeans.

[From the writings] of Abydenus, about the flood

After him, there were other kings, including Sisuthrus, to whom Cronus foretold that there would be a great torrent of rain on the fifteenth day of the month of Daesius. Cronus ordered him to conceal all the books which were kept in Heliopolis, the city of the Sippareni. Sisuthrus did as instructed, and then he sailed away to Armenia. Immediately it began to happen as the god had foretold. [p33] On the third day, when the rain eased, Sisuthrus sent out some birds, to test if they could see any land rising up out of the sea. But they found nothing except a gaping wide sea, and, having nowhere to rest, they flew back to Sisuthrus. The same thing happened when [he sent] some other birds. But he achieved success with the third set of birds, who came back with mud splattered on the bottom of their feet, and then the gods removed him from the sight of men. The inhabitants of Armenia made wooden amulets out of his ship, as a protection against poisons.

I think that it will be obvious to everyone that what Abydenus says about the flood is similar to the story of the Hebrews, and uses the same form of words. That these historians, whether they are Greeks or Chaldaeans, give Noah a different name, and call him Sisuthrus, is hardly surprising. Nor is it surprising that, as is their custom, they refer to gods rather than God, and talk about birds in general without mentioning a dove.

That then is what Abydenus says about the flood in this History of the Chaldaeans. He also writes about the building of the tower, in a way which is similar to the account of Moses, as follows.

[From the writings] of Abydenus, about the building of the tower

They say that the first men at that time were puffed up with pride because of their strength and height, and in their arrogance they thought that they were better than the gods. They built a huge tower where Babylon now is, and it was already close up to heaven. But the winds came to the aid of the gods, and threw down the structure around them. The remains of the tower were called Babylon. Up to that time they had shared a common language but then they received a great variety of different speech from the gods. Afterwards a war arose between Cronus and Titan.

[p35] The same author writes about Sennacherib, as follows.

[From the writings] of Abydenus, about Sennacherib

At this time, Sennacherib became the 25th of the [Assyrian] kings. He conquered Babylon and brought it under his control. He defeated a fleet of Greek ships in a naval battle off the coast of Cilicia. He established a temple of the Athenians, and erected bronze columns on which he inscribed in writing his mighty achievements. He built Tarsus with a design which was similar to Babylon, so that the river Cydnus flows through the middle of Tarsus, just as the Euphrates flows through the middle of Babylon.

After him Nergilus became king, but he was killed by his son Adramelus. Then Adramelus was killed by Axerdis, his half-brother (by the same father, but a different mother). Axerdis gathered an army and sent it against the city of Byzantium. He was the first king to seek help from mercenaries, and one of these was Pythagoras, who became a student of Chaldaean wisdom. Axerdis conquered Egypt and parts of lower Syria. Then Sardanapallus was [king].

Then Saracus became king of the Assyrians, [p37] and when he was informed that an army like a swarm of locusts had invaded by sea, he immediately sent his general Nabopolassar [Busalossorus] to Babylon. But this general started to plot rebellion, and betrothed his son Nebuchadnezzar [Nabuchodonosor] to Amytis the daughter of Astyages, the king of the Medes. And then he immediately set off to attack the city of Nineveh. When king Saracus learned of the attack, he burnt down the palace with himself inside it. Nebuchadnezzar took over power as king, and put up a strong wall around Babylon.

After saying this, Abydenus gives an account of Nebuchadnezzar, which agrees with the writings of the Hebrews, as follows.

[From the writings] of Abydenus, about Nebuchadnezzar

When Nebuchadnezzar came to power, he fortified Babylon with a three-fold circuit of walls in about fifteen days. He made a channel for the river Narmalacis, a branch of the Euphrates, [(?) and the Acracanus]. [p39] He dug a reservoir above the city of the Sippareni, which was 40 parasangs in circumference, and 20 fathoms deep; and he constructed gates, which could be opened to irrigate the whole plain. They call these gates ochetognomones. He protected [the shore] against flooding by the Red Sea, and he built the city of Teredon [to guard] against the raids of the Arabs. He adorned the palace with new kinds of plants, and called it “The Hanging Gardens”.

Then he gives a detailed description of this Hanging Garden. He says that the Greeks regard it as one of the so-called seven wonders of the world.

And in another place the same author writes as follows: “It is said that in the beginning everything was water, which was called the sea. But Belus restrained [the sea] and assigned a region to each person. He surrounded Babylon with a wall, and at the appointed time he disappeared from sight. Later Nebuchadnezzar gave Babylon new walls, with gates of bronze, which lasted until the time of the Macedonians.”

The words of Daniel are in accordance with everything that Abydenus says. In his book [ Dan4’30 ] he relates how Nebuchadnezzar, becoming arrogant and puffed up with pride, declared; “Is this not the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”

That Nebuchadnezzar regarded his power as proof of his good fortune, is made clear the words of the prophet Daniel. And Abydenus declares that he was “mightier than Heracles”, when he writes as follows: [p41] “Megasthenes says that Nebuchadnezzar, who was mightier than Heracles, let his armies as far as Libya and Iberia. He conquered these countries, and settled some of their inhabitants on the right-hand shore of the Euxine Sea. But the Chaldaeans say that afterwards, when he went up to the palace, he was possessed by some god, and uttered these words: ‘O Babylonians, I Nebuchadnezzar predict that a great disaster will befall you.’”

After adding some more details about this, the historian continues: “When he had (?) uttered this prediction, he immediately vanished from sight, and his son Amilmarudocus became king in his place. But Amilmarudocus was killed by his kinsman Niglisares, leaving a son called Labassoarascus. When he too died a violent death, they proclaimed Nabannidochus as king, although he had no right to assume royal power. When Cyrus captured Babylon, he made Nabannidochus the governor of Carmania; but king Dareius took some of the territory away from him.

All this is in accordance with what is said in the Hebrew scriptures. [p43] The book of Daniel tells how and in what way Nebuchadnezzar was afflicted in his mind. The Greek historians and the Chaldaeans turn his suffering to good account, by calling the madness a god who entered into him, or some demon which came to him. But this is not surprising, because it is their custom to attribute all such occurrences to a god, and to call the demons gods. All this is related by Abydenus.

Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian, gives a similar account in the first book of his Antiquities [ Ap1’128-160 ], as follows:

From the first book of the Antiquities of Josephus, about Nebuchadnezzar

I will now relate what has been written about us in the Chaldaean histories, which closely agree with our scriptures on various points. Berossus shall be witness to what I say: he was by birth a Chaldaean, well known by the learned, on account of his publication for Greek readers of books on Chaldaean astronomy and philosophy. This Berossus, therefore, following the most ancient records of that nation, describes in the same way as Moses the flood, and the destruction of mankind which it caused. He also gives us an account of the ark in which Noah, the forefather of our race, was preserved, when it was brought to the highest part of the Armenian mountains. Then he gives us a list of the descendants of Noah, with their dates; and at length comes down to Nabopolassar, who was king of Babylon, and of the Chaldaeans. And in his narrative of the acts of this king, he describes how he sent his son Nebuchadnezzar against Egypt, and against our land, with a great army, when he was informed that they had revolted from him. [p45] After he had subdued them all, and destroyed our temple at Jerusalem by fire, he removed our people entirely out of their own country, and transported them to Babylon. Then our city was deserted for a period of seventy years, until the days of Cyrus king of Persia. He adds that this Babylonian king conquered Egypt, and Syria, and Phoenicia, and Arabia, and exceeded in his exploits all the kings who had reigned before him in Babylon and Chaldaea.

I will set down Berossus’ own words, which are as follows: “Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar, heard that the governor whom he had set over Egypt, and over the regions of Coele Syria and Phoenicia, had revolted from him. Because he was not able to bear the hardships of a campaign, he committed part of his army to his son Nebuchadnezzar, who was then a young man, and sent him against the rebel. Nebuchadnezzar joined battle with the rebel, and conquered him, and forced the country to submit to him again. Meanwhile it happened that his father Nabopolassar fell ill, and died in the city of Babylon, after he had reigned twenty-one years. When Nebuchadnezzar heard, soon afterwards, that his father Nabopolassar was dead, he set the affairs of Egypt and the other countries in order. He committed the captives he had taken from the Jews, and Phoenicians, and Syrians, and inhabitants of Egypt, [p47] to some of his friends, that they might conduct them with his heavy-armed forces troops, and the rest of his baggage, to Babylonia. He himself went in haste, having only a few companions with him, over the desert to Babylon. When he arrived there, he found that the public affairs were being managed by the Chaldaeans, and that the principal person among them had preserved the kingdom for him. Accordingly, he then took over complete control of his father’s dominions.

“He ordered the captives to be placed in colonies in the most suitable places of Babylonia; but as for himself, he adorned the temple of Belus, and the other temples, in a magnificent manner, out of the spoils he had taken in this war. He also rebuilt the old city, and added another to it on the outside. He restored Babylon in such a way, that no-one who should besiege it afterwards might be able to divert the course of river, in order to force an entrance into it. He achieved this by building three walls about the inner city, and three about the outer city. Some of these walls he built of burnt brick and bitumen, and some of brick only. So when he had fortified the city on this grand scale, and had adorned the gates magnificently, he added a new palace to the one which his father had dwelt in. It was close by it, but was superior in its height, and also in its great splendour. It would require too long a narration, to describe it all in detail. However, as prodigiously large and magnificent as the palace was, it was finished in only fifteen days. In this palace he erected very high walks, supported by stone pillars, and by planting what was called a Hanging Garden, and adorning it with all sorts of trees, he gave it the appearance of a mountainous country. This he did to please his queen, because she had been brought up in Media, and was fond of mountainous scenery.”

This is what Berossus says about Nebuchadnezzar, and he relates many other things about him in the third book of his Chaldaean History, in which he censures the Greek writers because they suppose, without any foundation, that Babylon was built by Semiramis, queen of Assyria, and they wrongly claim that those wonderful buildings were created by her. [p49] On this subject, the account in the Chaldaean History must surely be accepted. Moreover, we find confirmation of what Berossus says in the archives of the Phoenicians, concerning this king Nebuchadnezzar, that he conquered all of Syria and Phoenicia. Philostratus is in agreement on these matters in his History, where he mentions the siege of Tyre; as is Megasthenes, in the fourth book of his Indian History, in which he tries to prove that this king of the Babylonians was superior to Heracles in strength and the greatness of his exploits; for he says that he conquered most of Libya and Iberia.

I have said before that the temple at Jerusalem was attacked by the Babylonians, and burnt down by them, but it was restored after Cyrus had taken control of Asia. This is proved by what Berossus adds on the subject; for in his third book he says as follows: “Nebuchadnezzar, after he had begun to build the wall which I mentioned, fell sick and died, when he had reigned forty-three years. His son Evilmerodach became king, but he governed public affairs in an illegal and dishonest manner, and after he had reigned for only two years, Neriglissar, his sister’s husband, plotted against him and killed him. After his death, Neriglissar, the man who had plotted against him, succeeded him in the kingdom, and reigned for four years; his son Laborosoarchod obtained the kingdom, though he was but a child, and kept it for nine months; but because of the depraved disposition which he showed, a plot was laid against him also, and he was beaten to death by his friends.

After his death, the conspirators met together, and by common consent entrusted the kingdom to Nabonidus [Nabonnedus], a Babylonian who had joined in the plot. In his reign the walls of the city of Babylon were built magnificently with burnt brick and bitumen; but when he had reached the seventeenth year of his reign, Cyrus advanced from Persia with a great army; and having already conquered all the rest of Asia, he marched against Babylonia. [p51] When Nabonidus heard that Cyrus was coming to attack him, he met him with his forces, but was defeated in battle. He fled away with a few of his troops, and was shut up in the city of Borsippa. Cyrus captured Babylon, and gave orders that the outer walls of the city should be demolished, because the city had proved very formidable, and was difficult to capture. He then marched away to Borsippa, to besiege Nabonidus, who immediately surrendered without waiting for a siege. Nabonidus was at first kindly treated by Cyrus, who sent him away from Babylonia and gave him Carmania, as a place to inhabit. Accordingly Nabonidus spent the rest of his time in that country, and there he died.”

This account is true, and agrees with our scriptures; for in them it is written that Nebuchadnezzar, in the eighteenth year of his reign, destroyed our temple, and so it lay in ruins for fifty years; but in the second year of the reign of Cyrus its foundations were laid, and it was completed again in the second year of Dareius. I will now add the records of the Phoenicians, because I ought to give the reader abundant proof on this occasion. These records list the lengths of the reigns of their kings as follows:

So the whole period is fifty-four years and three months; for Nebuchadnezzar began to besiege Tyre in the seventh year of his reign , and Cyrus the Persian came to power in the fourteenth year of Hirom. Therefore the records of the Chaldaeans and the Tyrians agree with our writings about this temple.

That is what Josephus says about these matters. Later on, Abydenus includes another account of the kings of the Chaldaeans, which is similar to Polyhistor. Then he lists the kings of the Assyrians in [chronological] order, as follows.


[From the writings] of Abydenus, about the kingdom of the Assyrians

“That is the account which the Chaldaeans give of the kings of their country, but they do not mention Ninus or Semiramis.” After saying this, he immediately begins the history [of the Assyrians]: “Ninus was the son of Arbelus, the son of Anebus, the son of Babus, the son of Belus, king of the Assyrians.”

Then he lists [the kings of the Assyrians] from Ninus and Semiramis up until Sardanapallus, who was the last of all the kings; and from Sardanapallus until the first Olympiad, there are 67 years. That is the account which Abydenus gives about each of the Assyrian kings. But he is not the only writer [to mention them]: Castor, in the first book of the Summary of his Chronicle, speaks about the kingdom of the Assyrians in the following words.

From the Summary of Castor, about the kingdom of the Assyrians

“Belus was the king of the Assyrians. During his reign, the Cyclopes brought lightning and thunder to assist Zeus during his battle against the Titans. At the same time, the kings of the Titans were in their prime – including king Ogygus.” And shortly afterwards he says: “The giants attacked the gods, [p55] and were killed, after Heracles and Dionysus, who were descended from the Titans, came to the aid of the gods. Belus, whom we mentioned before, came to the end of his life, and was regarded as a god. After him, Ninus ruled the Assyrians for 52 years. His wife was Semiramis. After Ninus, Semiramis ruled the Assyrians for 42 years. Then Zames, who was also called Ninyas, [was king].”

Then he lists each of the subsequent kings of the Assyrians in order, up until Sardanapallus. He mentions all of them by name; and we also will write down their names, together with the length of each of their reigns, a little later on.

Castor writes about the Assyrians again in his Canons, in these words: “ First we have listed the kings of the Assyrians, starting with Belus; but because the length of his reign is not stated for certain, we have only mentioned his name. We have started the list in this chronicle with Ninus, and ended with another Ninus, who succeeded Sardanapallus as king. In this way, the total duration of the kingdom can be clearly shown, as well as the length of each of the individual reigns. And it shows that the kingdom lasted for 1,280 years.”

That is what Castor says. And Diodorus Siculus, who wrote the [Historical] Library, gives a similar account, in the following words.

From the writings of Diodorus, about the kingdom of the Assyrians

“No noteworthy deeds or even names have been recorded of the native kings who ruled in Asia in the most ancient times. Ninus of Assyria is the first king who is recorded in history. His achievements were great, and we will give a detailed account of him.” And then a little later he says: “[Ninus] had a son by Semiramis, who was called Ninyas. But when Ninus died, Semiramis became queen, and she buried Ninus in the palace.” And again, a little later he says: “[Semiramis] ruled over all of Asia, except for the Indians; [p57] and she died in the manner which we have described, when she had lived for 62 years and had reigned for 42 years.” And he states separately that: “After she died, Ninyas the son of Ninus and Semiramis became king, and he remained at peace. He did not attempt to imitate the exploits of his mother, who had been eager for war and struggle.”

And again, a little later he says: “And in a similar way the other kings ruled for 35 generations, handing down the kingdom from father to son, until the time of Sardanapallus. When he was king, the empire of the Assyrians was destroyed by the Medes, after lasting for over 1,300 years, as Ctesias of Cnidus says in his second book. There is no need to write down the names of these kings, or the lengths of their reigns, because they achieved nothing worthy of mention. The only event which is recorded is that the Trojans received assistance from the Assyrians, led by Memnon the son of Tithonus. They say that when the Greeks sailed with Agamemnon against Troy, Asia was ruled by Teutamus, who was the twenty-sixth king from Ninyas the son of Semiramis; and the empire of the Assyrians in Asia had already lasted for over a thousand years. Priamus the king of the Trojans, worn out by the pressure of war, submitted to the king of the Assyrians, and sent an embassy to ask the Assyrians to send aid and reinforcements. The king of the Assyrians gave him ten thousand men from the land of the Ethiopians, and a similar number of Susians, with two hundred chariots; and he sent Memnon the son of Tithonus to be their leader.” And again he says: “The barbarians say that the splendid achievements of Memnon are reported in the royal books.”

“Sardanapallus was the 35th king from Ninus, who established their empire. He was the last king of the Assyrians, and he outstripped all his predecessors in luxury and indolence.” And a little later he says: “He was so shameless, that he not only ruined his own life by his perversions, but also destroyed the entire empire of the Assyrians, which had lasted for longer than any other recorded empire. [p59] Arbaces, one of the Medes who was renowned for his bravery and his outstanding spirit, was the leader of the Medes who were sent every year to the city of Ninus [Nineveh]. While leading his army, he became acquainted with the general of the Babylonians, who urged him to overthrow the empire of the Assyrians.” This is what Diodorus says in the second book of his Historical Library [chapters 1-24].

Cephalion is another writer who mentions the empire of the Assyrians, and this is what he says.

[From the writings] of the historian Cephalion, about the kingdom of the Assyrians

“I begin my account with what the other writers have mentioned: firstly Hellanicus of Lesbos and Ctesias of Cnidus, and then Herodotus of Halicarnassus. In ancient times, the Assyrians ruled over Asia, and Ninus the son of Belus was their king. In his reign, many great events occurred.” Then he writes about the birth of Semiramis, Zoroaster the magus, the war with the king of the Bactrians and the disaster [suffered] by Semiramis; and about the death of Ninus, after a reign of 52 years. After Ninus, Semiramis became queen. She built the walls around Babylon, in the manner which has been described by many writers, such as Ctesias, Zenon [(?) or Dinon], Herodotus, and later authors. Then he tells of her expedition into the land of the Indians, how she was defeated and fled; and how she killed her own sons, but was herself put to death by Ninyas, another of her sons, when she had reigned for 42 years. After her, Ninyas became king, but Cephalion says that he achieved nothing worthy of mention. [p61] Then he passes over all the other [kings]; “they ruled in total for a thousand years, handing down the kingdom from father to son; and none of them reigned for less than twenty years. Their unwarlike, unadventurous and effeminate character kept them safe. Because they were inactive and remained indoors, no-one had access to them except for their concubines and effeminate men. If anyone wishes to know, I think that Ctesias lists the names of 23 of these kings. But what pleasure or benefit would I provide, if I wrote down the names of barbarian kings, who achieved nothing, but were cowardly, weak and degenerate?”

And again he adds: “After about 640 years had passed, Belimus was king of the Assyrians; and in his reign, Perseus the son of Danaë, who was escaping from Dionysus the son of Semele, arrived in the country with 100 ships.” Then, after describing the defeat of Perseus by Dionysus, he adds: “In a later generation, when Pannyas was king of the Assyrians, the expedition of the Argonauts sailed to the river Phasis, and to (?) Medeia of Colchis. They say that Heracles left the ship because of his love for Hylas, and wandered amongst the Cappadocians.” And again he says; “A thousand years after Semiramis, when Mitraeus was king [of the Assyrians], Medeia of Colchis left king Aegeus; her son was Medus, [p63] who gave his name to the Medes and the country of Media.”

Then he says: “Teutamus became king after Mitraeus, and he too lived according to the customs and laws of the Assyrians. Nothing else happened in his reign, but [at this time] Agamemnon and Menelaus the Mycenaeans sailed with the Argives and other Achaeans against the city of Troy, when Priamus governed Phrygia. [Priamus wrote to Teutamus:] ‘The Greeks have invaded your territory and attacked me; we have met them in battle, and sometimes we have been victorious, but sometimes we have been defeated. Now even my son Hector has been killed, along with many others of my brave children. Therefore send a force to come to our relief, and appoint a valiant general to lead them.’ “ Then [Cephalion] describes in detail, how Teutamus sent assistance to him, and appointed Memnon the son of Tithonus to be the leader of the army; but the Thessalians killed Memnon in an ambush.

Then in another place, he says: “In the 1,013th year, Sardanapallus became king of the Assyrians.” Later, he describes the downfall of Sardanapallus. “After the death of Sardanapallus, Arbaces the Mede destroyed the kingdom of the Assyrians and transferred their empire to the Medes.” All this is what Cephalion says.

The kings of the Assyrians, as recorded by the most reliable of the writers, are as follows.

The kings of the Assyrians

1. Ninus, for 52 years.
They say that Ninus was the first to rule over all the inhabitants of Asia, except for the Indians. It can be shown that Abraham, the patriarch of the Hebrew nation, lived during his reign.

2. Semiramis, for 42 years.

3. Zames, also called Ninyas, for 38 years.

4. Arius, for 30 years.

5. Aralius, also called Amyrus, for 40 years.

6. Xerxes, also called Balaeus, for 30 years.

7. Armamithres, for 38 years.

8. Belochus, for 35 years.

9. Balaeas, for 12 years.

10. Aladas, for 32 years.

11. [p65] Mamythus, for 30 years.

12. Machchalaeus, for 30 years.

13. Spherus, for 22 years.

14. Mamylus, for 30 years.

15. Sparethus, for 40 years.

16. Ascatades, for 40 years.
Moses, the law-giver of the Jews, lived during his reign.

17. Amyntas, for 45 years.

18. Belochus, for 45 years.
His daughter Tratres, who was also called (?) Achurard, ruled for 17 years. Dionysus and Perseus lived at this time.

19. Balatores, for 30 years.

20. Lamprides, for 32 years.

21. Sosmares, for 8 years.

22. Lampares, for 30 years.

23. Pannias, for 42 years.
The expedition of the Argonauts and Heracles happened during his reign.

24. Sosarmus, for 19 years.

25. Mithraeus, for 27 years.

26. Teutamus, for 32 years.
Troy was captured during his reign.

27. Teutaeus, for 40 years.

28. Theneus, for 30 years.

29. Derusus, for 40 years.

30. Eupalmes, for 38 years.
[David], the famous king of the Hebrews, lived during his reign. Solomon, the son [of David], built the temple at Jerusalem.

31. Laosthenes, for 45 years.

32. Peritiades, for 30 years.

33. Ophrataeus, for 21 years.

34. Ophatanes, for 50 years.

35. [p67] Acrazanes, for 42 years

36. Sardanapallus, for 20 years.
In his reign, Lycurgus established laws for the Lacedaemonians. The empire of the kings of the Assyrians lasted until this time, when Thespieus the son of Ariphron was archon of the Athenians. According to some writers, the whole empire of the Assyrians lasted for 1,240 years; according to others, it lasted for 1,300 years. Thonnos Konkoleros, who is called Sardanapallus in Greek, was defeated by Arbaces and Belesius, and burnt himself to death. From Sardanapallus until the first Olympiad, there are 40 years.

After destroying the empire of Sardanapallus and the Assyrians, Arbaces appointed Belesius to be governor of Babylon. He transferred the empire of the Assyrians to the Medes, and the duration of their empire was as follows.


The kings of the Medes

1. Arbaces, for 28 years.

2. Maudaces, for 20 years.

3. Sosarmus, for 30 years.

4. Artycas, for 30 years.

5. Deioces, for 54 years.

6. Phraortes, for 24 years.

7. Cyaxares, for 32 years.

8. Ashdahak [Astyages], for 38 years.

In his time, Cyrus was king of the Persians. He deposed Ashdahak and destroyed the empire of the Medes, which had lasted for 298 years. Others writers have given a different list of the kings of the Medes.


The kings of the Lydians

1. Ardys the son of Alyattes, for 36 years.

2. Alyattes, for 14 years.

3. [p69] Meles, for 12 years.

4. Candaules, for 17 years.

5. Gyges, for 35 years.

6. Ardys, for 37 years.

7. Sadyattes, for 5 years.

8. Odyartes, for 49 years.

9. Croesus, for 15 years.  Cyrus killed Croesus, and destroyed the empire of the Lydians.


The kings of the Persians

1. Cyrus, for 31 years.

2. Cambyses, for 8 years.

3. Smerdes the magus, for 7 months.

1. Dareius the son of Hystaspes, for 36 years.
In his reign, the temple at Jerusalem was rebuilt, after the first [temple] had been burnt down by the Babylonians.

2. Xerxes the son of Dareius, for 20 years.

3. Artaxerxes, who was called Longimanus [Macrocheir], for 41 years.
In his reign, Ezra and Nehemiah were the leaders of the Hebrews.

4. Dareius, for 7 years.

5. Artaxerxes, for 40 years.

6. Ochus, for 26 years.

7. Arses, for 4 years.

8. Dareius, for 6 years. Alexander the son of Philippus killed Dareius, and ruled over the empire of the Persians and Assyrians for 12 years.

After Alexander, there were Macedonian kings for 295 years, until the death of queen Cleopatra, who reigned in about the 187th Olympiad [32-29 B.C.]. In her time, Augustus was emperor of the Romans, who was called Sebastos in Greek. [p71] [Cleopatra died] in the 15th year of Augustus’ reign. From then until the 202nd Olympiad [29-32 A.D.], and the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar, there are 52 years. And from then until the 20th anniversary of Constantinus, there are 300 years.

We will now proceed to the chronology of the Hebrews.


How the Hebrews have recorded their chronology

We will set down here the chronology of the Hebrews, taken from the writings of Moses and later Hebrew writers; from the Jewish Antiquities of Flavius Josephus; and from the chronicle of Africanus.

How the Hebrews describe the [most ancient] times

The dates and kings of the Chaldaeans and Assyrians, and of the Medes and Persians, have been described in the previous section. And it is clearly shown that the ancestors of the Hebrew race were Chaldaeans, because Abraham was a Chaldaean and his forefathers are said to have lived in the land of the Chaldaeans, as Moses says in these words [Genesis, 11’31 ]: “Terah took his son Abraham, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarah, the wife of his son Abraham, and he led them out of the land of the Chaldaeans.”

Therefore it is fitting, after our account of the Chaldaeans, next to relate the history of the ancient Hebrews. The description of the flood, which is recorded by the Hebrews, is very different from the stories of the Greeks, which they tell about the flood at the time of Deucalion. [The Hebrew flood] happened a long time before Ogyges and the equally large flood, which is said by the Greeks to have happened in the time of Ogyges. In all, the flood which is described by the Hebrews happened 1,200 years before the time of Ogyges, which in its turn happened 250 years before Deucalion’s flood.

But three is considerable agreement between the Hebrew scriptures and the accounts of the Assyrians, and the story which is told by them about the flood. They relate that before the flood, there were [p73] ten successive generations.

After the flood, the human race throughout the whole world was derived from three men. Japheth was the ancestor of the inhabitants of Europe, from Mount Amanus to the western ocean. Ham was [the ancestor of the inhabitants] of Egypt, Libya and all the regions to the west in that direction. And Shem, who was the eldest brother, [was the ancestor] of the Assyrians, and all the peoples of the east.

The Hebrew scriptures state that Nimrod was the first man to build the city of Babylon. These are the words of the scriptures [Genesis, 10’8-11 ]: “Cush was the father of Nimrod” (Cush was an Ethiopian, who they believe was the father of Nimrod). Then Scripture says about Nimrod: “He grew to be a mighty [warrior] on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord, that is why it is said, ‘Like Nimrod, a mighty [hunter] before the Lord.’ The first centres of his kingdom were Babylon, Erech, Akkad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went to [Assyria], where he built Nineveh.” Nineveh is the city which is called Ninus [by the Greeks]; it was the first royal city of the Assyrians, which was founded by Asshur. Asshur was one of the sons of Shem, who, as we said, took possession of all the regions of the east.

They say that the sons of Shem were Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Aram and Lud. Elam was the ancestor of the Elymaeans, the most ancient tribe of the Persians, who founded the city of Elymais. Asshur was the ancestor of the Assyrians; he founded the city of Nineveh, which was later restored by Ninus the king of the Assyrians, who renamed it Ninus after his own name. Arphaxad was the ancestor of the Arphaxaeans, who were also called Chaldaeans. Aram was the ancestor of the Aramaeans, who were also called Syrians. Lud was the ancestor of the Lydians. Arphaxad was the father of Shelah, and Shelah was the father of Eber, from whom the name and nation of the Hebrews was derived. The sixth in succession from Eber was Abraham, the patriarch of the Jewish nation, in the tenth generation after the flood. That is sufficient to show in brief the close relationship between the Hebrews and the Chaldaeans and Assyrians. [p75] Therefore it is fitting after [the Assyrians] to start on the chronology of the Hebrews.

At the very start of their account of history, [the Hebrews] tell the ancient story of the fall of the human race from their blissful state, and the first patriarch Adam, who was the forefather of the whole human race (Adam in the Hebrew language means all men in general). The rest of the life [of Adam] after he was cast out of paradise is described by the Holy Spirit, through Moses. And then [Genesis, 5’1-32 ] he lists the names of Adam’s descendants and successors, and the length of each of their lives, so that from this point onwards we can calculate the chronology of the Hebrews, and write it down in order.

No-one could calculate the length of their stay in the so-called paradise of God. The admirable Moses, inspired by the Holy Spirit, seems to be suggesting another kind of era, greater than our own, a thrice-blessed and god-loving way of life, which he calls paradise – the dwelling place of the first race of men. When Moses describes the blissful life of Adam in paradise, he is referring to the whole race [of men].

But this present chronicle will not include an account of that stay [in paradise], nor [will it start] from the creation of heaven, the earth and the universe, as some have done, but [it will start] from the establishment of our human race, and our era, beginning with the forefather of our race, called Adam, who was the one who fell from paradise and was case out from the blissful life. Taking the information from the scriptures of the Hebrews, as the book of Moses relates, I will set down the number of the years of the doomed and mortal life [of Adam], [p77] and what follows; which is where the historical accounts of the Hebrews begin. At this point, the book of Moses says [Genesis, 3’23 ]: “The Lord banished him” (that is, the first man) “from paradise to work the ground from which he had been taken. And he drove Adam out, and made him dwell outside the region of paradise.” Then it adds [Genesis, 4’1 ]: “Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain.” Our present chronicle will start from this point; but it will not include the first part of history, which cannot be calculated and must be left separate from the subsequent times.

There is much disagreement amongst the Hebrews about the dates which they have recorded. Therefore it is best to look at the different accounts which they have given, and by comparing and considering them all, to decide where the truth lies. The five books of Moses tell the story of the creation of the world, and of life before the flood, and the history of the most ancient men after the flood, and the successive generations after the flood, and Moses’ departure from this life. But the books of the law are written down differently by the Jews, and by the Samaritans, who were foreigners who came to live among the Jews.

The characters, which are used by the Jews to represent the Hebrew letters, are different from those used by the Samaritans; and even the descendants of the Jews agree that the Samaritans use the original and true forms of the characters. The two races had no disagreement [about the texts] until the characters were changed. But now there is a great difference between them on matters of chronology, which will become immediately obvious when we compare them in the discussion which follows.

The Greek translation also differs significantly from the Jewish version in some respects, but it does not differ much from the Hebrew version of the Samaritans. There are some differences in the period up to the flood; but from then onwards until the time of Abraham, the two versions are in agreement.

The text which we use was translated by seventy Hebrew men, out of their native language into Greek. [p79] They produced the translation in complete harmony during the reign of Ptolemaeus Philadelphus, and placed it in the library at Alexandria.

Now we will down write each version of Scripture in turn, so that it will be easy to spot the differences between them. First of all, we will see how the Septuagint [the translation of the seventy men] records the chronology of the period from Adam until the birth of Abraham.

The Septuagint

The Hebrew version, of the Jews

This version differs from the Septuagint by a total of 586 years. This is the difference from the Septuagint in the number of years for which each of them lived before their sons were born; apart from Jared, Methuselah and Lamech, who are given the same number of years in both versions. From the agreement with respect to these three, we can deduce that the version which we use is more reliable, because the longer length of years which is assigned to Jared and his descendants in the Hebrew version makes it clear that the years of their predecessors should also be the same as in the Septuagint version. If the later and more recent generations are found, with the addition of the hundred years, to be assigned the same number of years in both the Hebrew and the Septuagint versions, how much likely is it that the previous generations, their forefathers, lived to be older than their descendants? For in the summary of each man’s life, the number of years before his son was born, and the number of year that he lived afterwards, added together gives the same total of years in the Hebrew version and the Septuagint translation. It is only the numbers of years before their sons were born which are shorter in the account preserved in the Jewish copies. Therefore we suspect that this was something which the Jews did: that they ventured to compress and shorten the time before these sons were born, in order to encourage early marriages. For if these most ancient of men, who lived such long lives, came quite soon to marriage and fatherhood, as their account declares, who would not want to imitate them and marry early?

The Hebrew version, of the Samaritans

[The Samaritan version] differs from the Jewish version by 349 years; and it differs from the Septuagint translation by 935 years. That is the end of our discussion of the period before the flood.

Let us now proceed to the times after the flood. First, let us note that the books of the Chaldaeans contain a very similar account to what is told by the Hebrews about the flood and about the ark which was built by Noah. But because I have already written down the account which was recorded by the Chaldaeans in the appropriate place, I think it is pointless to repeat the same words here.

[p87] Some proof that the flood rose above the highest mountains was given a long time afterwards to us, as we wrote this [chronicle]. We observed that, in our own times, fish had been found on top of the highest peaks of the Libanus mountains. Some men, who had gone there to cut out stones from the mountains for building, found various kinds of sea-fish, compacted into the mud in the hollows of the mountains. The fish had survived until the present time, as if they had been artificially preserved, and the sight of them provided evidence to us that the ancient story was true. Let our readers believe this as they wish – but we will now proceed to the following period of time.

After the flood, according to the Septuagint translation

From the flood up until the first year of Abraham, there are 942 years. From Adam up until the flood, 2,242 years. In total, 3,184 years.

After the flood, according to the Hebrew version of the Jews

After the flood, according to the Hebrew version of the Samaritans

From the flood up until the first year of Abraham, there are 942 years. This is the same total as in the Septuagint translation.

Therefore, the Hebrew version of the Samaritans agrees with our version in the number of years which it assigns to each of these men, before his son was born; but it differs from the Hebrew version of the Jews by 650 years. For according to the Jewish version, there were 292 years from the flood up until the first year of Abraham.

It is clear from the oldest version of the Hebrew scriptures, which is preserved by the Samaritans, and which is in agreement with the Septuagint translation, that these men, from the flood down to Abraham, did not have sons until they were over a hundred years old. So who could suppose that their ancestors, who lived for much longer, had fathered children more quickly, rather than after the length of time which is recorded in the Septuagint [translation]? That is what any rational study would suggest; and so we must agree that [the numbers of years in] the Jewish version are incorrect for the whole period from Adam until Abraham, except for the three generations starting with Jared; and the Samaritan version is also incorrect, but only in the period from Adam until the flood, because in the period from the flood until Abraham, it records the same numbers of years as the Septuagint translation.

Indeed, it is absolutely clear that [the dates in] the Hebrew version of the Jews are incorrect. It even suggests that Noah and Abraham were alive at the same time – which is something that is not mentioned in any history. For if, according to the Jewish scriptures, there were 292 years from the flood until Abraham, and Noah lived for another 350 years after the flood, it is obvious that Noah was alive until the 58th year of Abraham. And it is possible to show that the Jewish version is untrustworthy in another way: because it says that the generations before Abraham were about 30 years old when their sons were born, but the generations after Abraham are said to have been much older when they fathered their children.

[p95] Therefore, because it has been definitely established that the Septuagint version was translated from the original, unadulterated Hebrew scriptures, it is reasonable for us to use that version for this chronicle – especially since it is the only version that is approved by the church of Christ, which has spread throughout the whole world, and it is the version that was handed down to us from the beginning by the apostles and disciples of Christ.

According to the Septuagint [version], from Adam until the flood, there are 2,242 years. From the flood until the first year of Abraham, 942 years. In total, 3,184 years.

According to the Hebrew [version] of the Jews, from Adam until the flood, there are 1,656 years. From the flood until the first year of Abraham, 292 years. In total, 1,948 years.

According to the Hebrew [version] of the Samaritans, from Adam until the flood, there are 1,307 years. From the flood until the first year of Abraham, 942 years. In total, 2,249 years.

All the versions agree that from Abraham up until Moses and the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, there are 505 years, which are calculated in the following way. In the 75th year of Abraham, God appeared to him and said that he would give the promised land to his offspring. It is written [ Genesis, 12’4-7 ]: “Abraham was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. He took his wife Sarah, and his nephew Lot.” And a little later, Scripture adds: “The Lord appeared to Abraham, and said, ‘To your offspring I give this land.’ “ So from the first year of Abraham [until this promise made by God], there are 75 years; and from the 75th year of Abraham until the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, there are 430 years. The Apostle Paul bears witness to this, when he says [ Galatians, 3’17-18 ]: “The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.” And shortly afterwards, he adds: “God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.” Abraham’s son Isaac was born in Abraham’s 100th year, 25 years after the promise which God made to him. From then until the exodus from Egypt there are 405 years, so that the total time from the promise until [the exodus] is 430 years.

[p97] But God, who had appeared to Abraham, appeared to him again and said [ Genesis, 15’13 ]: “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and ill-treated for four hundred years.” The word “descendants” is used deliberately; and to show that we should not allocate the [whole] time to Isaac, the period of 430 years is mentioned at the time of the exodus of the children of Israel from the land of the Egyptians. Scripture says [ Exodus, 12’40-41 ]: “Now the length of time which they and their forefathers lived in Egypt and the land of Canaan, was 430 years. At the end of the 430 years, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt by night.” Because the length of time, from when the promise was made by God (in the 75th year of Abraham), is 430 years, it is clear that from the first year of Abraham until Moses and the exodus from Egypt, there are 505 years.

Some writers calculate the years in detail, as follows:

So the total length of time, from the first year of Abraham until the exodus from Egypt, is 505 years.

In total, from Adam until the exodus from Egypt, according to the Septuagint version, there are 3,689 years; according to the Jews, 2,453 years; according to the Samaritans, 2,753 years.

The period from the death of Moses until Solomon and the building of the temple is described in one way by the book of Judges, with which the holy Apostle agrees in the Acts of the Apostles; but in a different way by the book of Kings and the Hebrew tradition. It will be best to report both accounts, and then to choose the one which is more truthful.

Firstly, it must be mentioned that Africanus, who compiled a Chronography in five books, seems to me to have been greatly mistaken in these matters. [p99] By his reckoning, there were 741 years from the exodus of Moses until Solomon and the building of the temple at Jerusalem, but he provides no evidence for most of this. He is wrong, not only because what he says is contrary to the account of the Holy Scriptures, but also because he audaciously adds a total of 100 years on his own authority. He assigns an additional 30 years to the elders after Joshua; and then after Samson, he places 40 years of anarchy, and another 30 years of peace. By inserting these additional years without any proof, he carelessly produces an inflated total of over 740 years in his calculation of the time between Moses and king Solomon.

By observing how many generations had elapsed, we can see that his account is improbable. There were 14 generations from Abraham until David, and the ninth generation had already come to an end at the time of Moses, when Nahshon the son of Aminadab was leader of the tribe of Judah. Nahshon died in the desert after leaving Egypt, and he was present when the people were first numbered. It is clear that there were five generations after Nahshon until David: David was the son of Jesse, who was the son of Obed, who was the son of Boaz, who was the son of Salmon, who was the son of Nahshon. So how can it be claimed that these five generations after Moses lasted for a total of more than 700 years? If the years are evenly distributed between the men in each generation, we will find that each of them lived for over 140 years before his son was born; and no-one in their senses would consider that possible. Moses himself died at the age of 120 years, and his successor Joshua died at the age of 110 years. Before their time, Joseph lived in all for 110 years, and earlier still Jacob, who was also called Israel, the patriarch of all the Jews, lived for 147 years.

[p101] So how can it be supposed that in later times, after Moses, anyone could have lived for as long as we have said? Africanus is clearly wrong in this matter. However, Clemens reckoned that there were 674 years from Joshua the successor of Moses until the building of the temple, as can be found in the first book of his Miscellany [ Stromata, 1’21 ]. The holy Apostle Paul, in his speech to the Jews in the Acts of the Apostles, says as follows [ 13’19-22 ]: “Joshua destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, and he divided the land [amongst the Jews] for 450 years, and after that he gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who reigned for 40 years. After that, God removed Saul and gave them David in his place.”

That is what the Apostle says. According to him, there were 534 years after Joshua. As well as the 450 years, which he assigns to the judges until Samuel, there must be added 40 years for Saul, another 40 years for David, and the four years of Solomon’s reign before the building of the temple, which makes a total of 534 years from Joshua the successor of Moses until Solomon. If you add the 40 years of Moses in the wilderness, and the 27 years of Joshua the son of Nun, then the total for the whole period will be 600 years, according to the Apostle. The book of Judges is in agreement with his account, and assigns 450 years to the judges until Samuel, which are divided up as follows:

According to the book of Judges

The total for all the judges until Samuel is 450 years.

The total is consistent with the words of the holy Apostle, but it does not include the years of Moses, or of Joshua the successor of Moses, or of Samuel, or of Saul. The number of years for Samuel and Saul, and also for Joshua, may be uncertain; but as the Apostle suggests, the 40 years of Saul should be added to the 450 years of the judges, and if the 40 years of David and the 4 years of Solomon are joined to this, they make a total of 534 years, the same as in the account of the Apostle. If we also add the 40 years of Moses in the wilderness, and the 27 years of Joshua the son of Nun, according to the tradition of the Hebrews, the total for the whole period is 600 years.

If this total is compared with the five generations between Nahshon and David, which were mentioned previously, and the years are divided equally between the generations, it follows that the men in each generation lived for more than 115 years before their sons were born. It is scarcely credible that, when Moses lived in all for 120 years, his descendants should reach almost the same age, before their sons were born. Therefore there is nothing left but to move on at this point to the account in the book of Kings.

The book of Kings clearly states that, from the exodus of the children of Israel until Solomon and the building of the temple, there was a total of 440 years; according to the Hebrew version, it was 480 years. [p105] The third book of Kings says as follows [ 1 Kings, 6’1 ]: “It happened in the 440th year after the exodus out of Egypt, that Solomon began to build the house of the Lord.” In the Hebrew version, it says “It happened in the 480th year” because the Jewish teachers, by a careful calculation, decided that the total came to 480 years. They did not count separately the years in which the foreigners are said to have ruled over the people [of Israel], but counted just the time that the judges ruled them, and included within this the periods of foreign domination. And this must be how it is done, because it is the only way that the total can be made to be 480 years. I believe that when the holy Apostle stated the number of years, which was mentioned before, he was not speaking in the manner of a chronographer, or of someone who was making an exact calculation. It would have been superfluous to introduce a discussion of chronology into his declaration of the message of salvation, and so he followed the common interpretation of the book of Judges.

The book of Kings expressly states that there were 440 (or 480) years from the exodus until Solomon. But if we look at the dates of each of the judges, and also count separately the times of foreign rule which are mentioned in the book of Judges, there is a total of 600 years between Moses and Solomon. This total of 600 years is divided up as follows:

Therefore the men in each of the five generations, which we mentioned previously, must have lived for 120 years before their sons were born; which is wholly incredible.

However, if we follow the account in the book of Kings, we will have a total of 480 years, because the 120 years, during which the Hebrews were ruled by foreigners, have been removed. [p107] Instead, the years of their enslavement will have been combined with the years of their freedom in a single total, which is how the Hebrews themselves count it. That is how we will calculate the dates here, by assuming that the times of foreign rule are included in the number of years assigned to each of the judges. We have been particularly persuaded to use this method of calculation, by considering how long is allowed for the five generations from Nahshon to David. If we subtract the 40 years of Moses in the wilderness and the four years of Solomon from the total of 480 years, there are 436 years left, up until the death of David. If these years are divided equally between the five generations, there are 87 years for each generation. If anyone investigates this, he will find that it is a plausible account, starting from the birth of David. David was the eighth son of Jesse, and was born after his seven elder brothers when his father was an old man; and so we can reckon that something similar may have happened to his ancestors.

Therefore we will follow here the account in the book of Kings, that there were 480 years from the exodus out of Egypt until Solomon and the building of the temple. We will include the periods of foreign rule in the number of years assigned to each of the judges who ruled in succession.

The book of Judges supports this decision in another way, by the words of Jephthah, who was one of the judges of the people. When the Ammonites, who lived on the other side of the river Jordan, made war on Jephthah, he sent an embassy to the enemy, with this message [ Judges, 11’25-26 ]: “Are you better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever quarrel with Israel, or fight with them? For three hundred years Israel occupied Heshbon, Aroer, the surrounding settlements and all the towns along the Jordan. Why did he not retake them during that time?” His message tells them that Moses and Balaam the son of Beor lived 300 years before their own time. [p109] The only way to produce this total of 300 years is to reckon that the periods when foreigners ruled [the people of Israel] are included in the number of years assigned to the judges who ruled them. If anyone counts the periods of the people’s enslavement, when they were ruled by foreigners, separately [from the judges], he will produce a total which far exceeds the 300 years. But if he counts only the years which are assigned to the judges who ruled the people, he will find that there are 300 years from Moses until Jephthah, as Jepththah’s message stated.

Therefore, the chronology which we use for this period will be as follows:

From Moses to Solomon

In total, from Moses and the exodus out of Egypt until the building of the temple, 480 years.

About Joshua, the book which bears his name tells us nothing more than that [p111] he died at the age of 110 years. But the Hebrews say that he was leader for 27 years; and so he was 43 years old when Moses went out of Egypt.

About Samuel, because Scripture does not explicitly assign a number of years to him, I think that the length of Saul’s reign which is mentioned by the holy Apostle should belong jointly to Saul and to Samuel. It is clear that Samuel was leader of the people for many years; but Scripture states that Saul reigned for just two years. In the first book of Kings, it says [ 1 Samuel, 13’1 ]: “Saul was the son of a year in his reigning; and he ruled over Israel for two years”. Symmachus makes this clearer in his translation: “Saul was like a year-old child in his reigning”, meaning that Saul was pure and faultless at the beginning of his reign. He kept that nature for two years, but when he turned to evil ways, he was rejected by God and suffered divine punishment. Therefore the remaining years have been assigned to Samuel, and 40 years is the joint total for Saul and Samuel. It is clear that Saul [or Samuel] ruled for this length of time, not only from the evidence of the Apostle, but also from a careful investigation of Scripture, which says [ 2 Samuel, 2’10 ] that after the death of Saul, “Ish-Bostheth son of Saul was 40 years old when he became king over Israel, and he reigned two years. The house of Judah, however, followed David.” Ish-Bostheth must have been born after Saul became king, because Scripture [ 1 Samuel, 14’49 ], when talking of the beginning of Saul’s reign, mentions three sons of Saul, but not this one. Therefore we think that Ish-Bosheth was born later, and the length of Saul’s reign was about the same as the age of his son after his death.

In summary, the third book of Kings [ 1 Kings, 6’1 ] says that there were 480 years from the exodus out of Egypt until Solomon and the building of the temple; there were 505 years from Abraham until Moses and the exodus; [p113] there were 942 years from the flood until the first year of Abraham; and there were 2,242 years from Adam until the flood. Altogether there were 4,170 years from Adam until Solomon and the building of the temple.

The historian Josephus, in the first book of his Jewish Antiquities, produced some Phoenicians as witnesses to the date of Solomon and to his building of the temple, and the evidence of the men whom he mentions seems useful to me. In that book, he writes as follows [ Against Apion, 1’106(17) ]:

The evidence of the Phoenicians about the temple at Jerusalem, from Josephus

I will now, therefore, pass from these records, and come to those that belong to the Phoenicians, and concern our nation, and shall produce proof of what I have said out of them. There are then records among the Tyrians that take in the history of many years, and these are public writings, and are kept with great exactness, and include accounts of the facts done among them, and such as concern their transactions with other nations also, those I mean which were worth remembering. Therein it was recorded that the temple was built by king Solomon at Jerusalem, one hundred forty-three years and eight months before the Tyrians built Carthage.

In their annals the building of our temple is related; for Hirom, the king of Tyre, was the friend of Solomon our king, and had such friendship transmitted down to him from his forefathers. He thereupon was ambitious to contribute to the splendour of this edifice of Solomon, and made him a present of one hundred and twenty talent talents of gold. [p115] He also cut down the most excellent timber out of that mountain which is called Libanus, and sent it to him for adorning its roof. Solomon also not only made him many other presents, by way of requital, but gave him a country in Galilee also, that was called Chabulon. But there was another passion, a philosophic inclination of theirs, which cemented the friendship that was between them; for they sent mutual problems to one another, with a desire to have them resolved by each other; wherein Solomon was superior to Hirom, as he was wiser than he in other respects: and many of the letters that passed between them are still preserved among the Tyrians. Now, that this may not depend on my bare word, I will produce for a witness Dius, one that is believed to have written the Phoenician History after an accurate manner. This Dius, therefore, writes thus, in his Histories of the Phoenicians:

“Upon the death of Abibalus, his son Hirom took the kingdom. This king raised banks at the eastern parts of the city, and enlarged it; he also joined the temple of Olympian Zeus, which stood before in an island by itself, to the city, by raising a causeway between them, and adorned that temple with donations of gold. He moreover went up to Libanus, and had timber cut down for the building of temples. They say further, that Solomon, when he was king of Jerusalem, sent problems to Hirom to be solved, and desired he would send others back for him to solve, and that he who could not solve the problems proposed to him should pay money to him that solved them. And when Hirom had agreed to the proposals, but was not able to solve the problems, he was obliged to pay a great deal of money, as a penalty for the same. As also they relate, that one Abdemon, a man of Tyre, did solve the problems, and propose others which Solomon could not solve, upon which he was obliged to repay a great deal of money to Hirom.”

These things are attested to by Dius, and confirm what we have said upon the same subjects before. [p117] And now I shall add Menander the Ephesian, as an additional witness. This Menander wrote the Acts that were done both by the Greeks and Barbarians, under every one of the Tyrian kings, and had taken much pains to learn their history out of their own records. Now when he was writing about those kings that had reigned at Tyre, he came to Hirom, and says thus:

“Upon the death of Abibalus, his son Hirom took the kingdom; he lived fifty-three years, and reigned thirty-four. He raised a bank on that called the Broad Place, and dedicated that golden pillar which is in Zeus’ temple; he also went and cut down timber from the mountain called Libanus, and got timber of cedar for the roofs of the temples. He also pulled down the old temples, and built new ones; besides this, he consecrated the temples of Heracles and of Astarte. He first built Heracles’ temple in the month Peritius, and that of Astarte when he made his expedition against the Tityans [(?) inhabitants of Utica], who would not pay him their tribute; and when he had brought them under his control, he returned home. Under this king there was a younger son of Abdemon, who mastered the problems which Solomon king of Jerusalem had recommended to be solved.” Now the time from this king to the building of Carthage is thus calculated.

“Upon the death of Hirom, Baalbazerus his son took the kingdom; he lived forty-three years, and reigned seventeen years: after him succeeded his son Abdastartus; he lived thirty-nine years, and reigned nine years. Now four sons of his nurse plotted against him and slew him, the eldest of whom reigned twelve years: after them came Astartus, the son of Eleastartus; he lived fifty-four years, and reigned twelve years: after him came his brother Astharymus; he lived fifty-eight years, and reigned nine years: he was slain by his brother Phelles, who took the kingdom and reigned but eight months, though he lived fifty years: he was slain by Eithobalus, the (?) son of king Astartus, who reigned thirty-two years, and lived forty-eight years: [p119] he was succeeded by his son Balezorus, who lived forty-five years, and reigned eight years: he was succeeded by Metenus his son; he lived thirty-two years, and reigned twenty-nine years: Physmalion succeeded him; he lived fifty-eight years, and reigned forty-seven years. Now in the seventh year of his reign, his sister fled away from him, and built the city Carthage in Libya. So the whole time from the reign of Hirom, till the building of Carthage, amounts to the sum of one hundred fifty-five years and eight months.”

Since then the temple was built at Jerusalem in the twelfth year of the reign of Hirom, there were from the building of the temple, until the building of Carthage, one hundred forty-three years and eight months. Therefore, what occasion is there for quoting any more evidence out of the Phoenician histories [on the behalf of our nation], since what I have said is so thoroughly confirmed already? To be sure, our ancestors came into this country long before the building of the temple; for it was not till we had gained possession of the whole land by war that we built our temple. And this is the point that I have clearly proved out of our sacred writings in my Antiquities.

That is what Josephus says.

The list of times [of reigns] which is shown here covers 432 years, from the building of the temple, in the fourth year of Solomon, until the destruction [of the temple] by the Babylonians. They are reckoned as follows:

1. Solomon – for 37 years
(The rest of his reign except for the first three years)

2. Rehoboam – for 16 years

3. Abijah – for 3 years

4. Asaph – for 41 years

5. Jehoshaphat – for 25 years

6. Jehoram – for 8 years

7. Ahaziah – for 1 year

8. Athaliah his mother – for 7 years

9. Joash – for 40 years

10. [p121] Amaziah – for 28 years

11. Uzziah – for 52 years
In his reign the Greeks established the first Olympic games [776 B.C.].

12. Jotham – for 16 years

13. Ahaz – for 16 years

14. Hezekiah – for 29 years

15. Manasseh – for 55 years

16. Amon – for 2 years

17. Josiah – for 31 years

18. Jehoahaz – for 3 months

19. Jehoiakim – for 11 years

20. Jehoiachin, also called Jekhoniah, his son – for 3 months

21. Mattaniah, also called Zedekiah – for 11 years

In total, 432 years.

After this, the Babylonian captivity of the Jews and the abandonment of their country lasted for 70 years, which came to an end in the 65th Olympiad [520-517 B.C.], in the second year of Dareius the king of the Persians, as the Holy Scriptures say.

Clemens agrees with our account, when he writes in the first book of his Miscellany as follows [ Stromata, 1’21 ]: “The captivity lasted for seventy years, and ended in the second year of Darius Hystaspes, who had become king of the Persians, Assyrians, and Egyptians; in whose reign, as I said above, Haggai and Zechariah and the angel of the twelve [Malachi] prophesied. And the high priest was Joshua the son of Josedec.” That is what Clemens says.

More evidence that there was a period of 70 years from the destruction of the temple until the second year of Dareius is provided by the prophet Zechariah, who said in the second year of Dareius [ 1’12 ] : “Almighty Lord, how long will you not pity Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, which you have despised? This is the seventieth year.”

But the acute observer may say: “But why is it said at the beginning of the book of Ezra [ 1’1 ], that in the first year of Cyrus the king of the Persians, to fulfil the word of God which was spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord aroused the spirit of Cyrus the king of the Persians, and he gave an order throughout his kingdom in a written decree.” And then, adding what follows in that book, [p123] he will show that it refers to the release of the Jews, and how Cyrus ordered the temple to be rebuilt. From this you would assume that the 70 years of the captivity came to an end in the reign of Cyrus, and not in the reign of Dareius.

To this I reply, that the words of the prophets refer to two different periods of 70 years. The one is reckoned from the destruction of the temple, and came to an end in the second year of Dareius, as the statement of Zechariah makes clear. The second is from the enslavement of the Jews, up until the capture of Babylon and the destruction of the kingdom of the Chaldaeans. This is reckoned from the time of the prophecy, and came to an end in the reign of Cyrus, and not in the reign of the Dareius, in accordance with the word of Jeremiah, in which he foretells what will happen [ 29’10 ]: “Thus says the Lord. When the 70th year has been completed, I will come to you, and I will fulfil my promise to you, that I will lead you back to this place.” And again, he prophesies as follows [ 25’11-12 ]: “All this land will be deserted and ruined, and they will serve the king of the Babylonians amongst the foreigners; and the Lord says about that nation, and about the land of the Chaldaeans, that I will bring them to ruin.”

All this was fulfilled in the reign of Cyrus, by counting the years, not from the destruction of the temple, but earlier, from the second year of Jehoiakim, king of the Jews, because it was in this year that Nebuchadnezzar the king of the Babylonians first enslaved the Jews; or even earlier, from when the prophet Jeremiah first began to prophesy. From that time, there were 40 years until the siege of Jerusalem and the burning of the temple, and 70 years until the first year of the reign of Cyrus. The one period of 70 years lasted from the beginning of Jeremiah’s prophecy until the reign of Cyrus; but there were 30 years from the destruction of the temple until the reign of Cyrus, and [the other period of] 70 years was completed in the second year of the reign of Dareius. The temple was restored in the eighth year of Dareius.

From that time onwards, the Jews remained without their own kings. They had their own high priests as leaders, but were subject first to the kings of the Assyrians, then to the kings of the Persians, and after them to the Macedonians who ruled after Alexander, up until the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, who as king of Syria forced the Jews to adopt Greek customs. At that time, Mattathias the son of Asamonaeus, who was a priest at Jerusalem, his son Judas, who [p125] was surnamed Maccabaeus, and their successors re-established the Jewish state, and ruled it continuously until the time of Augustus.

In Augustus’ time, Herodes was the first foreigner to become king of the Jews, with the support of the Romans; during his reign, our Saviour Jesus Christ was born. This was the fulfilment of the prophecy spoken by Moses [ Genesis, 49’10 ]: “The sceptre will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his”. These are the words of the prophecy.

But the total length of time, from Solomon and the first building of the temple until the second year of Dareius and the rebuilding of the temple, is 502 years. And from Moses and the exodus from Egypt until Solomon and the first building of the temple, is 480 years. And from the first year of Abraham until the exodus, is 505 years. And from the flood until the first year of Abraham, is 942 years. And from Adam to the flood, is 2242 years. So the overall total, from Adam until the second year of Dareius and the second building of [the temple in] Jerusalem, is 4680 years. And from the second year of Dareius which was the first year of the 65th Olympiad [520 B.C.] [until the ministry of Christ], is 137 Olympiads and 548 years.

To show this in more detail, the kings of the Persians are listed here, along with the lengths of their reigns:

The empire of the Persians lasted for 234 years. Beginning in the 55th Olympiad [560-557 B.C.], it ended in the 113th Olympiad [328-325 B.C.]. And from the second year of Dareius until the death of Alexander, who died in the first year of the 114th Olympiad [324 B.C.], is 197 years.

After the death of Alexander, there were the following kings of Egypt and Alexandria:

In his time, Antiochus Epiphanes was king of Syria; and in Antiochus’ reign occurred the events which [are related] in the books of Maccabees. These books tell how Antiochus tried to convert the Jews to Greek customs; he defiled the temple by putting up sacred images there, and carried off the sacred vessels of the temple in the 151st Olympiad [176-173 B.C.].

So from the death of Alexander of Macedonia to the first year of Antiochus Epiphanes, is 150 years. And from the second year of Dareius until Antiochus, is 347 years.

In the reign of Antiochus, Mattathias the son of Asamonaeus [p129] showed great devotion to his country’s religion, and became leader of the Jews. After his death, his son Judas Maccabaeus [became leader]; and after him, his brother Jonathan [was leader]; and after him, his brother Simon [was leader].

The account of the book of Maccabees ends in the reign of Simon; it covers a period of 40 years, up until the end of the 161st Olympiad [136-133 B.C.]. And from this time until Augustus the Roman emperor, is 88 years.

After Simon, according to Africanus and Josephus, Jonathan, also called Hyrcanus, was leader of the Jews for 26 years. After him, Aristobulus [was leader] for one year. Aristobulus was the first to wear the royal diadem, acting as king and high priest of the Jewish race; this was 484 years after the Babylonian captivity. After him, Alexander, also called Jannaeus, was king for 25 years. After him, his widow Alexandra, also called Sallina, [was queen] for 9 years. And after her, Aristobulus and Hyrcanus [were kings]. In their reign, Pompeius the Roman general forced the Jews to pay tribute to the Romans. He set up Hyrcanus as their king, but led off Aristobulus as a prisoner to Rome.

In Hyrcanus’ reign, in the (?) 184th Olympiad [44 B.C.], Julius Caesar became emperor of the Romans, for 4 years and 7 months. And after him, Augustus (Sebastos in Greek) was emperor for 56 years and 6 months. In his reign, Herodes was the first foreigner to be made king of the Jews by the Romans; his family came from Ascalon, and he had no right to the throne. In Herodes’ reign, Christ the Son of God was born in Bethlehem of Judaea.

After Augustus, Tiberius became emperor. In his 15th year, the fourth year of the 201st Olympiad [28 A.D.], our Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ the Son of God, appeared amongst men.

So from Antiochus Epiphanes until the 15th year of Tiberius, is 201 years. And from Alexander of Macedonia until the same year of Tiberius, is 352 years. And from the second year of Dareius [until the same year of Tiberius], is 548 years. [p131] And from the 15th year of Tiberius until the final siege of Jerusalem in the second year of Vespasianus, is 42 years.

From Adam until the second year of Dareius, is 4680 years. And from the second year of Dareius until the 15th year of Tiberius, is 548 years. So the total, from Adam until the 15th year of Tiberius, is 5228 years.

From the 15th year of Tiberius until the 20th anniversary of Constantinus Victor Augustus, is 300 years. So the overall total, according to the Hebrews in the Septuagint version, is (?) 5518 years. According to the Jews’ Hebrew text, it is 1237 years less; and according to the Samaritans’ Hebrew text, it is 935 years less.

This is the way in which the numbers of years are calculated, according to the Hebrews.


After the chronology of the Chaldaeans, the Assyrians and the Hebrews, it it time to move on to the records of the Egyptians.

Diodorus, in the first book of his historical library [ 1.44 ], writes as follows: “Some of them tell the story that the first rulers in Egypt were gods and heroes, who ruled for slightly less than sixteen thousand years; the last of the gods who ruled there was Horus the son of Isis. Then men became kings of the country, in the time of Myris, and have continued for slightly less than five thousand years, until the 180th Olympiad [60-57 B.C.], when I visited Egypt, in the reign of Ptolemaeus, who was called the New Dionysus.

[p133] “For the great majority of that time, the country has been ruled by native kings; but for short periods it was ruled by Ethiopians, by Persians and by Macedonians. There were only four Ethiopian kings, and they did not rule in a single sequence, but at separate times; in total, they ruled for slightly less than 36 years. During the supremacy of the Persians, which was established when Cambyses conquered the [Egyptian] people by force, and which lasted for 135 years, the Egyptians rose in revolt, because they could not endure the harsh government and the impiety [of the Persians] towards the native gods. Then the Macedonians and their descendants became kings, for 276 years. For the whole of the rest of the time, [Egypt] was governed by native rulers, who consisted of 470 kings and 5 queens.

“Records about all of these rulers have been kept by the priests in their sacred books, which have been continuously handed down from one [generation] to another, since the most ancient times. These books tell about the character of each king, their virtue and their bravery, their spirit and their nobility, as well as the achievements of each of them in their reigns. However it is unnecessary, and moreover worthless, for us to write down the deeds of each of them; especially since many of them were judged to be insignificant even in their own times.”   That is what Diodorus says.

And now it is right and fitting for us to add to this Manetho’s account of the Egyptians, which seems to be a reliable history.

From the Egyptian records of Manetho, who composed in three books commentaries about the gods, demi-gods, spirits, and the mortal kings who ruled over the Egyptians, up until the time of Dareius the king of the Persians.

The first man amongst the Egyptians was Hephaestus, who discovered fire for them; he was the father of Sol [the Sun]. After him came [(?)Agathodaemon; then] Cronus; then Osiris; then Typhon the brother of Osiris; and then Horus the son of Osiris and Isis. These were the first rulers of the Egyptians. [p135] After them, one king succeeded another until the time of Bidis, for a total of 13,900 years – calculated by lunar years, which lasted for 30 days. That is the period which we now call a month, but the men of that time called it a year.

After the gods, a race of demi-gods ruled for 1,255 years. After them, other kings ruled [the country] for 1,817 years. After them, 30 kings from Memphis [ruled] for 1,790 years; and then another ten kings from Thinis ruled for 350 years. And then the shades and demi-gods were kings, for 5,813 years. The total for all of these is 11,000 years – which are lunar years, or months.

The total time, which the Egyptians assign to the gods and demi-gods and spirits is 24,900 lunar years – which is the equivalent of 2,206 solar years. If you compare this figure with the chronology of the Hebrews, you will find almost the same number of years. For Aegyptus is called Mizraim by the Hebrews; and he was born many years after the time of the flood. It was after the time of the flood that Ham the son of Noah became the father of Mizraim, who was also called Aegyptus; and when the nations were scattered around the earth, Mizraim set off for Egypt to live there. According to the Hebrews, there were 2,242 years in all from Adam until the flood.

So let the Egyptians boast of their antiquity, in the ancient times which preceded the flood. They say that they had some gods, demi-gods and shades. If the years which are recorded by the Hebrews are converted to months, the total is over 20,000 lunar years, so that there are about the same number of months as are contained in the years recorded by the Hebrews, when we count the years from the first-born man up until Mizraim. Mizraim was the patriarch of the Egyptians, and the first dynasty of the Egyptians was descended from him.

But if, even so, the number of years is found to be too large, then we must investigate the reason for this. Perhaps it happened that there were many kings in Egypt at the same time. They say that some of them were kings of Thinis, some of Memphis, some of Sais, and some of Ethiopia; and there were yet others in other places. [p137] And as it seems that these dynasties ruled each in its own (?) nome, it is very unlikely that they ruled in succession to each other. Rather, some of them ruled in one place, and others in another place. Therefore the increase in the number of years can be explained in that way. But we will leave this matter, and proceed to the details of the chronology of the Egyptians.

After the demi-gods and spirits, they reckon that the first dynasty consisted of 8 kings. The first of these kings was Menes, who was an outstanding ruler. Starting from him, we will list the rulers of each generation. The succession of rulers was as follows.

1st Dynasty. Menes and his seven descendants:

2nd Dynasty. 9 kings:

3rd Dynasty. 8 kings of Memphis:

4th Dynasty. 17 kings of Memphis, from another family:

5th Dynasty. 31 kings of Elephantine:

6th Dynasty.

[p141]   7th Dynasty. 5 kings of Memphis, who ruled for 75 (?) days.

8th Dynasty. 5 kings of Memphis, who ruled for 100 years.

9th Dynasty. 4 kings of Heracleopolis, who ruled for 100 years.

10th Dynasty. 19 kings of Heracleopolis, who ruled for 185 years.

11th Dynasty. 16 kings of Diospolis, who ruled for 43 years.

At this point, Manetho finishes his first book, which contains 192 kings who reigned in total for 2,300 years [and 75 days].

From the second book of Manetho:

12th Dynasty. 7 kings of Diospolis:

13th Dynasty. 60 kings of Diospolis, who ruled for 453 years.

14th Dynasty. 76 kings of Xois, who ruled for 484 years.

15th Dynasty. [? 17] kings of Diospolis, who ruled for 250 years.

16th Dynasty. 5 kings of Thebes, who ruled for 190 years.

17th Dynasty. Shepherds. Phoenician brothers and foreign kings, who captured Memphis:

18th Dynasty. 14 kings of Diospolis:

19th Dynasty. 5 kings of Diospolis:

This is [the end] of the second book of Manetho, which contains (?) 92 kings who reigned in total for 2,121 years.

From the third book of Manetho:

20th Dynasty. 12 kings of Diospolis, who ruled for 172 years.

21st Dynasty. 7 kings of Tanis:

22nd Dynasty. 3 kings of Bubastis:

23rd Dynasty. 3 kings of Tanis: