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THE IRISH ECCLESIASTICAL RECORD
THE CHRONOLOGY OF THE
BY REV. C. LATTEY, S.J.
THE question of the antiquity of man, which was dealt with in the I. E. RECORD for May, 1917,1 does not introduce us to anything like strict chronology; but it is of evident importance in order to the better understanding of the biblical narrative that we should establish points of contact with contemporary history and an established system of dates. In the present essay, accordingly, an attempt is made to fit the earlier parts of Old Testament history into what we know of the early history of some other nations. Our terminus a quo, from which we shall work back, will be the building of the Temple, which it seems possible to date with some degree of accuracy; the terminus ad quem will be the incidents of. Genesis xiv. where an independent synchronism will serve to confirm the results already obtained. Some of the chief difficulties will then be considered. It may be as well to say at once that it does not seem possible to arrive at absolute certainty; if the general trend of the argument point to one definite conclusion, at least no attempt will be made to minimise what may tell against it.
Both the Assyrian and the Egyptian monuments furnish a clue to the date of the beginning of the Temple. The former show Ahabbu mat Sir'ilaa fighting with his allies against Shalmaneser II, King of Assyria, at the battle of Karkar (Qarqara). In spite of some difficulties, it may be taken as generally admitted that this is Ahab of the
1 Fifth Series, vol. ix. pp. 378 et seq.
FIFTH SERIES; VOL. XIII—JANUARY, 1919
land of Israel,' and the date is given as 853 or 854 B.C. For a discussion of the question it may be enough to refer to Dr. Pinches' important work, The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records of Assyria and Babylonia (Chapter x). We can now proceed to fix the beginning of the Temple within certain fairly large limits, premising that throughout this essay we shall only attempt approximations, inasmuch as the nature of the evidence forbids us to hope for more. It may be remembered that the Books of Kings furnish us, not merely with a chronological scheme of the reigns of the Kings of Judah and Israel, but also with a system of cross-references between the two that creates no little difficulty. Father Deimel, indeed, the Professor of Assyriology at the Biblical Institute, in his Veteris Testamenti Chronologia (p. 118) quotes with approval St. Jerome's saying: 'ut huiusmodi haerere quaestionibus non tam studiosi quam otiosi hominis esse videatur.' Without stopping to discuss details, therefore, we may conclude from this datum to about 974-948 B.C. as the outside limits for the beginning of the Temple. The reader may consult the convenient table on pp. 104-105 of the Chronologia.
The Egyptian evidence turns upon the invasion of Judah by the Pharaoh Sheshenq in the fifth year of Rehoboam (3 Kings xiv. 25). Prof. Flinders Petrie, in his History of Egypt (vol. iii. pp. 234-235), has no difficulty in identifying this invasion with that monarch's Syrian campaign. Putting the narratives of Kings and Paralipomena together, he says: "This accords perfectly with the contemporary record in Egypt. And when an encyclopaedic critic states that "it is difficult to doubt that Shishak and Shushakim are corruptions of Cushi and Cushim," and "they belong to well-ascertained types of textual corruption," it is evident that this form of historical criticism belongs to a well-ascertained type of critical aberration.' Prof. Flinders Petrie would himself put the invasion in 933 B.C., which would give 977-937 B.C. for Solomonthough the frequency with which periods of forty years recur may possibly indicate the use of round numbersand 973 B.C. for the beginning of the Temple (3 Kings vi. 1; xi. 42). This only just falls within the limits fixed by the Assyrian data, but, as has already been said, we cannot hope for more than approximate dates.
In 3 Kings vi. 1 we are further told that it was in the 480th year after the Exodus that Solomon began the