The Chronology of Judges solved!

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Old Testament Chronology and Timelines

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Judges Sermon Outlines

Conquest

Othniel, Ehud, Ruth

Deborah

Gideon

Jephthah

Samson

Eli, Samuel, Saul, David

1406-1399

1350-1204

1204-1144

1191-1144

1118-1094

1118-1078

1128-1004

Josh 1-15

Judges 3, 17-21, Ruth

Judges 4-5

Judges 6-9

Judges 10-12

Judges 13-16

1 Samuel 1-31

Canaanites

Mesopotamia, Edom

Hazorites

Ishmaelites, Midianites

Ammonites

Philistines

Philistines, Ammonites, Amalekites

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The Chronology of Judges solved!

Other related outlines:

1.      Harmony of Othneil, Ehud, Judges 17-18, Judges 19-21 and Ruth

2.      Book of Ruth: Ruth and Boaz lived in the time of Ehud: 1300 BC

3.      Chronology of the book of Judges solved

Introduction:

  1. The chronology of the book of Judges has been a problem because when you add up all the numbers and dates given in the book of Judges, the sum of years is about 100 years more than what it should be.
  2. The key in using the period of the Judges to determine the exodus date of 1446 BC, is that it must be more than 300 years (Judges 11:26-28) and less than 410 years. Either way it clearly refutes an exodus of 1250 BC and that is all we are concerned about in this section on the Judges.
  3. The first Judge arose only after Joshua died in 1350 BC. The last judge died the year David began to reign in 1004 BC: Judges 1:1. The formal period of the Judges is from 1350 - 1004 BC for a total of 346 years. 1 Samuel tell us that Eli and Samuel were the two last judges, even though he is not mentioned in the book of Judges.
  4. Joshua lived 1460 - 1350 BC: Joshua is described as a young man, a youth and was about 20 years old when Israel left Egypt in 1446 BC: (Ex 33:11; Num 11:28). Joseph was called "a youth" at age 17: Genesis 37:2. Joshua was chosen by Moses to fight Amalek at (Exodus 17:9) Rephidim. It is truly remarkable that a 20 year old was given the responsibility of leading the armies of Moses. Since the exodus was 1446 BC and Joshua lived to be 110 years old. (Joshua 24:29) This means Joshua was born about 1460 BC and died 1350 BC. This means that Joshua began serving Moses at age 18-20, and served Moses for 40 years in the wilderness and then 50 years in Canaan after crossing the Jordan.
  5. Samuel and Saul died the same year David became king in Hebron in 1004 BC. So the Judgeship of Samuel completely overlapped the reign of Saul. While we often view the period of the judges ending with the day Saul became king, the Bible says that Samuel Judged Israel all the days of his life. Saul died within a year after Samuel's death. So the last judge was Samuel and the first king was David. So it is important to remember that the period of the Kings began with the anointing of Saul and the period of the Judges ended with the death of Samuel.
  6. When can use Jephthah's statement in Judges 11:26, that he lived 300 years (1100 BC) after Israel crossed the Jordan, as an anchor to adjust the chronology of the book of Judges into real time. We accept that when Jephthah said it had been 300 years since Israel crossed the Jordan, it was likely a rounded figure. However it is clear that the literal period of time when Jephthah said 300 years, must have been somewhere between 275 - 300 years. For the purposes of chronology, we really have not choice but to use 300 years as the time Jephthah made this statement and this is what we have done.
  7. The chronology found in the book of Judges begins with Othneil and ends with Abdon who died about the same time as Eli. Samson lived at the same time as Jephthah so Abdon judged after him in chronological terms) This literal period of time that the book of Judges deals with therefore, is 281 years from the death of Joshua in 1350 BC to the death of Abdon in 1069 BC. (Eli died in 1088 BC).
  8. We know that Shamgar judged at the same time as Deborah because both of their judgeships are described as "after Ehud".

A. The Chronology of Judges Master Table:

Oppressor: years

A

Area of Israel affected

Judge: years

Tribes involved in fighting

B

A+B

Date BC

Indivisible units

Aram-naharaim: (3:8) served 8

8

-

Othneil: (3:11) land had rest 40

-

40

48

1350 - 1302

Unit 1:
1350 - 1144
(206 years)

Moabites: (3:14) served 18

18

Central

Ehud: (3:30) land undisturbed 80
Ruth & Boaz lived at this time.

Benjamin

80

98

1302 - 1204

Philistines: (3:31)

-

Southern

After Ehud came Shamgar: (3:31)

-

-

-

1200

after Ehud died, served Canaanites: (4:3) 20

20

Northern, Mt. Tabor

Deborah: (5:31) land undisturbed 40

Zebulun, Naphtali

40

60

1204 - 1144

Midianites, Amalekites: (6:1) in hand of 7

7

Central to transjordan Starts in Jezreel Valley and moves transjordan

Gideon: (8:28) land undisturbed 40

Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali

40

47

1191-1144

Unit 2:
1191 - 1096
(95 years)

-

-

-

Abimelech: (9:22) After Gideon 3

-

3

3

1144 - 1141

-

-

-

Tola: (10:2) after Abimelech died 23

-

23

23

1141 - 1118

-

-

-

Jair: (10:3) after Tola 22

-

22

22

1118 - 1096

Ammonites: (10:8) crushed Israel 18

18

Transjordan

Jephthah: (12:7) 6

Gileadites

6

24

1118 - 1094

Unit 3:
1118 - 1070
(48 years)

-

-

-

Ibzan: (12:8) after Jephthah judged 7

-

7

7

1094 - 1087

-

-

-

Elon: (12:9) after Ibzan judged 10

-

10

10

1087 - 1077

-

-

-

Abdon: (12:14) after Elon judged 7

-

7

7

1077 - 1070

Philistines: (13:1) into hands 40

40

South, Gaza

Samson: (16:31) judged 20

None

20

40 (not 60: see notes)

1118 - 1078

Unit 4:
1118 - 1078
(40 years)

B. Indivisible Units of Chronology:

  1. "Indivisible Units of Chronology" are connected strings of dates of several Judges that must be taken as a unit. For example, when the Bible says that "after Jephthah then Ibzan became Judge, and after Ibzan then Elon became Judge, and after Elon then Abdon became judge", there is no way to suggest that these Judges ruled at the same time. We have identified 5 different "Indivisible Units of Chronology". Each unit is a fixed block of time. We cannot shorten the time for each block, but we can overlap one block with another. If we arrange each of the five blocks end to end like a train, the sum total of time is 489 years from Othneil to the death of Samuel in 1004 BC. However, if we overlap the 5 "Indivisible Units of Chronology" on top of each other, the sum total of time is 346 years. This harmonizes perfectly with Jephthah's statement that he lived 300 years after Israel crossed the Jordan in 1406 BC: Judges 11:26.
  2. The period of time from the death of Joshua to the time of Jephthah in Judges 11:26 was 250 years. Yet the numbers in the book of judges add up to 301 years for this same period of time. This means that the chronology of Othneil to Jephthah (301 years), taken at face value, has about 50 years too many to harmonize with Judges 11:26. Our solution to this is simple. We have broken the chronology down into 5 "indivisible units of chronology" as follows: Unit 1: Othneil to Deborah: 206 years. Unit 2: Gideon to Jair: 95 years. Unit 3: Jephthah to Abdon: 48 years. Unit 4: Samson: 60 years. Unit 5: Eli to Samuel: 120 years. So the only way to reduce the total time from 409 years (excluding Eli - Samuel) to about 250 years is to overlap these "indivisible units of chronology". We can also reduce Samson from 60 to 40 years because his judgeship ended at the same time as the oppression ended.
    Unit 1: Othneil to Deborah: 1350 - 1144 (206 years)
    Unit 2: Gideon to Jair: 1191 - 1096 (95 years)
    Unit 3: Jephthah to Abdon: 1118 - 1070 (48 years)
    Unit 4: Samson: 1118 - 1078 (40 years)
    Unit 5: Eli to Samuel: 1128 - 1008 (120 years).
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NOTE 1:
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The reason we call them "indivisible units of chronology" is because there is no way to suggest the time is shorter than in the sequence of dates given within that period. Let's now examine each of these units.

C. Indivisible Unit 1: Othneil, Ehud, Ruth to Deborah: 1350 - 1144 (206 years)

  1. The unit consists of periods of oppression and peace that are mutually exclusive. In other words, you cannot overlap a times of war and times of peace. While it is possible that in this first Unit, the times of war and peace are in different regions of Israel, we consider this unlikely given the natural reading of the text. It is also unnecessary.
  2. You have 8 years of oppression, followed by 40 years when the "land had rest", followed by 18 years of oppression, followed by 80 years when the "land had rest". There simply is no way to shorten this time by overlapping periods of oppression and peace within the unit.
  3. But a secondary factor comes into play within unit 1. It says "after Ehud died came both Shamgar and Deborah". We know therefore, that both Shamgar and Deborah judged within the same period of chronological time side by side, and it is quite interesting that no dates are given for Shamgar. All we know is that Shamgar followed Ehud, as did Deborah who judged 40 years. So we can rightly ignore Shamgar in terms of the chronology since we know he judged during the same "post Ehud" period as Deborah, for whom we know the specific dates of her judgeship.
  4. The book of Ruth coincides with Ehud's liberation of Eglon, king of Moab and the story of Benjamin's sodomy of Judges 19-21.
  5. See harmony of Judges and Ruth

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D. Indivisible Unit 2: Gideon to Jair: 1191 - 1096 (95 years)

  1. Scripture gives a sequential narrative of one judge after the other in a train like string.
  2. When you splice the different verses together you get this meaning: "First Gideon and the land was undisturbed 40 years (8:28). After Gideon came Abimelech who judged for 3 years (9:22). After Abimelech died Tola judged for 23 years (10:2). After Tola came Jair who judged for 22 years (10:3)".
  3. It is obvious then that you cannot shorten the 95 years because each Judged after the prior one died.
  4. Abimelech must be included in the chronology. Those who remove Abimelech from the chronology simply because he was not appointed by God are violating the context of the chronology given. It matters not if Abimelech was approved by God or not, the fact remains that he judged for three years after Gideon in Shechem (9:22). What difference does three years really make anyway?

E. Indivisible Unit 3: Jephthah to Abdon: 1118 - 1070 (48 years)

  1. Like unit two, unit 3 has a sequential narrative of one judge after the other: "First Jephthah judged 6 years (12:7). After Jephthah then Ibzan judged 7 years (12:8). After Ibzan then Elon judged 10 years (12:9). After Elon then Abdon judged 7 years (12:14)".
  2. Each of these judges ruled one after the other like a train with four cars in a row.
  3. Like Unit 2, there is no way to reduce 48 years of Unit 3 because it is clear the judges did not rule at the same time.

F. Indivisible Unit 4: Samson: 1118 - 1078 (40 years)

  1. Now it is important to notice that there were 40 years of oppression by the Philistines and Samson judged 20. However the oppression of the Philistines continued right through to the death of Samson. In other words, Samson did not succeed in defeating the Philistines until the day he died. So we do not add the 20 years of Samson on top of the 40 years of Philistine oppression, because both ended at the same time.
  2. So a total of 40 years, not 60 are to counted because Samson judged during the last 20 years of the 40 year Philistine oppression.
  3. Whether 40 or 60 years, it doesn't make any difference in the chronology of Judges because we can fit either in easily.

G. Indivisible Unit 5: Eli to Samuel: 1128 – 1008 (120 years).

 

 

NOTE 2:
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We have now defined each of the 5 "Indivisible Units". Let's now examine how one unit can be overlapped with another in order to reduce the time from 489 years to 346 years.

H. Splicing Units 1 and 2 together:

  1. We can prove that Deborah and Gideon judged at the same time. After each Judge the narrative tells us there were two periods of 40 years where the land had rest. Most view these as two different sets of 40 years which they add up to 80 chronological years. However, these two periods of 40 years of rest are in fact the same period and amount to a total of only 40 chronological years. Therefore we match the 40 years of rest of Gideon (8:28) with the 40 years of rest of Deborah (5:31) and it creates a close harmony with the 300 years of Jephthah in Judges 11:26.
  2. By lining up the two 40 years of peace, we very nicely splice the end of "indivisible unit 1", with the beginning of "indivisible unit 2".
  3. This shows us that Israel was being oppressed in the north by the Canaanites at the same time the Midianites were crossing the Jordan and raiding the crops of central Israel, then returning transjordan.
  4. Deborah's battle was at Mt. Tabor and involved 10,000 men from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun: "the God of Israel, has commanded, 'Go and march to Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men from the sons of Naphtali and from the sons of Zebulun." Judges 4:6.
  5. Gideon's battle started in the valley of Jezreel, then moved transjordan far east of the Jordan and involved a specialized army of 300 from Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali: "the Midianites and Amalekites and the sons of the east ... camped in the valley of Jezreel. ... Gideon ... called together to follow him: Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they came up to meet them." Judges 6:33-35.
  6. The critical link between Deborah and Gideon is in the tribes who fought and the tribes who refused to fight. Deborah started judging 13 years before Gideon and chastised the region of Gilead, and the tribes of Dan and Asher because they would not join in the battle: "Gilead remained across the Jordan; And why did Dan stay in ships? Asher sat at the seashore, And remained by its landings." Judges 5:17. She praises Zebulun and Naphtali for joining the battle: ""Zebulun was a people who despised their lives even to death, And Naphtali also, on the high places of the field." Judges 5:18
  7. When Gideon (from the tribe of Manasseh) started judging 13 years later, the same tribes fight and the same tribes refused! Gideon comes to two towns in Gilead (‍Succoth and Penuel) and asks the leaders for food to feed his army of 300 and they both refuse. (8:5-8) Gilead had previously refused Deborah's request for help at Mt. Tabor: "Gilead remained across the Jordan" Judges 5:17. So this was the second time Gilead had refused to fight for their brethren. After Gideon destroys Midian, he returns and destroys the town leaders of Gilead (‍Succoth and Penuel). A kind of "two strikes and you're out" policy with God. Later Gilead would redeem themselves under Jephthah, who himself was a Gileadite who saved themselves from the Ammonite oppression. Perhaps still not that noble, since they were merely defending their own home turf from the invasion of the king of Ammon. Good thing the Gileadites had no French genes in them, or else they would have just surrounded to the Ammonites and expected the other tribes to liberate an fight for them!
  8. So we can prove that Deborah and Gideon Judged at the same time because they same two tribes (Zebulun and Naphtali) willingly supplied valiant warriors and the Gilead refused both of them to fight. This is an enormous key to unlocking the chronology of Judges!
  9. Since Deborah and Gideon judged at the same time, then the 40 years of peace that followed both are identical and should be laid upon one another in chronological terms.

I. Splicing Units 3 and 4 together:

  1. Samson and Jephthah were two judges that arose in different parts of the country at the same time. We can place Jephthah at 1100 BC (Judges 11:26) but we are unsure exactly where to place Samson.
  2. Judges 10:6-8 is a transitional text in the book of Judges that acts as an introduction to the next two Judges: Jephthah who defeated the Ammonites, and Samson who defeated the Philistines: "The anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and into the hands of the sons of Ammon." Judges 10:7. This also proves that Jephthah and Samson judged at the same time because God sold them into the hands of two nations during a single period of his anger. Nothing could be clearer than this.
  3. Remember that Samson did not stop the 40 year oppression of the Philistines until the day he died. This means we include his 20 year judgeship inside the 40 years of Philistine oppression. The oppression and judgeship ended at the same time. Samson judged for 20 years, but the Philistine oppression of 40 years ran concurrently with his judgeship, because the Philistines were not routed until Samson died! This means that adding 20 years of judgeship time to 40 years of oppression time for a total time span of 60 is wrong. In fact from Samson, we can see that there were 20 years of oppression before Samson started judging. Then Samson judged 20 years during the final 20 years of Philistine oppression. Most make the mistake of viewing a period of 40 years of oppression that ended when Samson started judging and that the land had peace for the next 20 years.
  4. Also take note that Saul and David fought the Philistine Goliath in 1021 BC. So the battles with the Philistines was an ongoing matter.
  5. Since we are told that Jephthah lived in 1100 BC, we will use "Indivisible unit 3": Jephthah - Abdon (48 years), from 1100 BC forward and basically ignore Samson. Samson should be placed directly on top of the Jephthah - Abdon chronology, although we cannot be sure exactly what dates are involved.
  6. We need to also remember that when Jephthah said it had been 300 years, this was after the Ammonites had already crushed Israel for 18 years from 1118 - 1100 BC. (10:8). So we know that the "300 years" dates from the first year he was judge and the last year of the Ammonite oppression when he defeated them. This also means that Jair judged during the entire time of the Ammonite oppression and died in the fourth year that Jephthah was judge in 1096 BC.
  7. It is clear that the oppression of the Ammonites was isolated to the transjordan region of Gilead alone. Samson's judgeship centered around the Philistines at the modern Gaza strip area in the far south west. So Jair was judge in the central and northern sections of Canaan. These three distinct geographic areas make it clear how Jair, Samson and Jephthah could be judges at the same time.

J. Splicing Unit 5 together: Eli and Samuel: 124 years.

  1. Eli and Samuel are rather simple to synchronize.
  2. Eli lived to be 98 years old and "judged Israel forty years." 1 Samuel 4:15-18.
  3. Samuel was brought to Eli by Hanna after the boy was weaned at about age 5: "And his mother would make him a little robe and bring it to him from year to year when she would come up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice." 1 Samuel 2:19
  4. The narrative seems to have Samuel living with Eli for about 5 before God spoke to him at night and revealed that Eli and his sons would soon die. So Samuel was called to be a prophet when he was 10.
  5. The bible says that "Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life." 1 Samuel 7:15.
  6. So Both Eli and Samuel judges even though they are never mentioned in the book of Judges. Samuel was the last Judge.
  7. Samuel was also confirmed to be a prophet at age 10 and Eli died that same year.
  8. Samuel was described as an old man (52 years old) when he anointed Saul as the first "king" around 1046 BC and reigned 42 years: 1 Samuel 13:1
  9. Samuel anointed David as a "youth" (15 years old) about the time he killed Goliath. "Then Saul said to David, you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth." 1 Samuel 17:33. David killed Goliath in 1021 BC, which was the 27nd year of Saul's 42 year reign.
  10. Samuel dies about 1008 BC and Saul died in 1004 BC. Samuel had died and Saul consulted the witch of Endor where Samuel told Saul he would die the following day: 1 Samuel 28:19.
  11. The witch described Samuel as "an old man is coming up" 1 Samuel 28:14. So Samuel was an old man when he died.
  12. Although the bible does not tell us how old Samuel was when he died, we grant Samuel 90 years, even though he could have lived to be 120 and it would really make no difference in calculating the overall Chronology of the Judges. This means he lived 1098 -1008 BC. Although the dates for Eli are dependent on the age that Samuel was when he died, it doesn't really change much. If Samuel lived to be 100 or 120 years, it just pushes back the year Eli died earlier. Nothing else is affected.
  13. Since we granted Samuel 90 years, we need to subtract the 10 overlapping years between the time Samuel was born and when Eli died.
  14. Therefore the Eli to Samuel unit is calculates this way: 40 years Eli judged + 90 years of Samuel when he died - 10 overlap years + 4 years between the time Samuel dies and Saul dies when David is king.= 124 years. So for chronological purposes, Unit 5 has 124 years from the time of Eli judging to Saul’s death.
  15. Saul died the same year David started reigning as king in Hebron in 1004 BC. So the period of the Judges he judged really didn't end until Samuel died in 1008 BC.

K. The reigns of David and Solomon:

  1. It is clear that the Exodus took place in 1446 BC. Those who believe the 1250 BC Exodus date must deny the inspiration of the scriptures.
  2. There is almost universal agreement from scholars and archeologists that Solomon ruled from 964-924 BC
  3. Five unknowns: We know Samuel died in 1004, but not his age then. The age David was anointed is unknown. Solomon was born when David was 40 - 41 years old. We know Solomon became king in 964 BC, but not his age when he became king. We know Solomon died in 924, but not his age then.
  4. David was 30 years old when he became king and reigned a total of 40 years: 7.5 in Hebron and 33 in Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 5:4-5).
  5. We can get a basic idea of when Solomon as born by examining what David did first arriving in Jerusalem included:
    a) building his palace and Millo (2 Samuel 5:9-11), and immediate wars with philistines (end of year one)
    b) war with Ammonites and adultery with Bathsheba (end of year 2)
    c) the death of first child (10 months), birth of Solomon (9 months) (end of year 4)
  6. Using this calculation method, Solomon was born in the 4th - 5th year of the reign of David's reign at Jerusalem and who was age 40-41 at the time. Since David died at age 70, that means that Solomon began reigning when he was 30-31 years old.
  7. David described Solomon as "young and inexperienced" just before he became king: 1 Chronicles 22:5; 29:1. Solomon describes himself when he became king: "I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in." 1 Kings 3:7.
  8. We will use 40 as the age of David when Solomon was born and 30 as the age of Solomon when he ascended the throne since God likes to use the round numbers of 30 and 40 so often in describing the events of the kings!
  9. The Eli - Solomon Timeline:

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L. The Exodus Timeline:

  1. The Pharaoh of the Exodus was Tuthmosis III: 1479 - 1425 BC
  2. Here is a detailed study of the Exodus Chronology Timeline.

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M. Joshua was not younger than 18 and not likely older than 20 years of age at Sinai in 1446 BC.

  1. Although Joshua was not older than 20 years old at Sinai, he must have been no less than 20 years old at Kadesh Barnea, 2 years later, to be excepted from the 20 years and older will die in the wilderness edict:
    1. “your corpses will fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me. ‘Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.” (Numbers 14:29-30)
    2. If Joshua was only 19 years old, there would have been no need to make the specific exception here.
    3. So we can be certain that Joshua was at least 20 years old at Kadesh when the spies were sent out.
    4. This sets the lowest possible age of Joshua at Sinai at 18 years old.
  2. We can be certain that Caleb was 38 years old at Sinai and 40 years when he was chosen as one of the twelve spies sent from Kadesh Barnea:
    1. “I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought word back to him as it was in my heart. … Now behold, the Lord has let me live, just as He spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, when Israel walked in the wilderness; and now behold, I am eighty-five years old today. “I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in.” (Joshua 14:7,10-11)
    2. Joshua 14:10-11 tells us that Moses promised Caleb the Hebron area as an inheritance when he returned from spying out the land.
    3. They left Egypt in 1446 BC and after 45 days, they arrived at Sinai. They spent 11 months at Sinai. Then they travelled between Sinai and Kadesh and arrived exactly two years after leaving Goshen in 1438 BC.
    4. 85-45 years = 40 years. Caleb was 40 years old at Kadesh when the 12 spies were sent out in 1438 BC.
    5. After returning from spying out the land, Caleb spent 38 years at Kadesh before crossing the Zered Wadi which triggered the start of the conquest in 1406 BC.
    6. 40 + 38 = 78 Years old when the Conquest started in 1406 BC.
    7. 85 - 78 = 7 year is how long the conquest took.
    8. Caleb was 85 years old in the 7th and last year of the conquest in 1393 BC.
  3. Quick summary of Hebrew words used in this study:
    1. "bâchurowth": Hebrew word meaning a "youth" used three times in the OT.
    2. "sharath": Hebrew word meaning a "servant" used 97 times in the OT.
    3. "naʿar": Hebrew word meaning an "infant, child, lad, youth" used 200 times in the OT. Sometimes translators rendered it "servant" indicating that they were "child servants" of a prophet or master.
  4. The Hebrew word, bâchurowth is only used three times in the Old Testament and always indicates a young man in the natural sense of the word. “Then Joshua the son of Nun, the servant [sharath] of Moses from his youth [bâchurowth], said, “Moses, my lord, restrain them.” (Numbers 11:28)
    1. “Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young [bâchurowth] manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things. So, remove grief and anger from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting. Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth [bâchurowth], before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no delight in them”. (Ecclesiastes 11:9–12:1)
    2. The usage of the word in Ecclesiastes would indicate a man 20 and under. This is how it has always been applied historically in the church.
  5. The Hebrew word naʿar, is used over 200 times in the Old Testament and always indicates an infant, child or young man in the natural sense of the word. “Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young [naʿar] man, would not depart from the tent.” (Exodus 33:11)
    1. Joshua chose two young men to spy out Jericho, make a covenant with Rahab and return with a report. It would make perfect sense to send youths as spies because they would not attract attention like older men would: “Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the harlot’s house and bring the woman and all she has out of there, as you have sworn to her.” So the young [naʿar] men who were spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and her mother and her brothers and all she had; they also brought out all her relatives and placed them outside the camp of Israel.” (Joshua 6:22-23)
    2. “God heard the lad [naʿar] crying; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter with you, Hagar? Do not fear, for God has heard the voice of the lad [naʿar] where he is.” (Genesis 21:17)
    3. “Joseph, when seventeen years of age, was pasturing the flock with his brothers while he was still a youth [naʿar], along with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought back a bad report about them to their father.” (Genesis 37:2)
    4. “We have an old father (Jacob) and a little child (Benjamin) of his old age. Now his brother is dead, so he alone is left of his mother, and his father loves him.’ “Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me that I may set my eyes on him.’ “But we said to my lord, ‘The lad [naʿar] cannot leave his father, for if he should leave his father, his father would die.’” (Genesis 44:20–22)
    5. “When she opened it, she saw the child (Moses), and behold, the boy [naʿar] was crying. And she had pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.”” (Exodus 2:6)
  6. Joshua was the "servant and attendant of Moses from his youth" Joshua's role as a personal servant: Exodus 24:13, 33:11, Joshua 1:1, 11:15, Judges 2:8. This is perhaps the most powerful proof he was young because it is part of a pattern of very young men serving prophets and kings. In fact, many times the Hebrew word for "youth" [naʿar] changed to "servant" by the English translators. There is another word for servant [sharath] that is used 97 times for a "servant" without reference to youth.
    1. Abraham's youth servant: “Abraham said to his young [naʿar] men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad [naʿar] will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.”" (Genesis 22:5)
    2. Potiphar's youth servant: “So Joseph (aged 17-18) found favor in his sight and became his personal servant [sharath]; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge.” (Genesis 39:4) ““Now a Hebrew youth [naʿar] was with us there, a servant [sharath] of the captain of the bodyguard, and we related them to him, and he interpreted our dreams for us. To each one he interpreted according to his own dream.” (Genesis 41:12)
    3. Abraham's youth servant: “Then Absalom called his young [naʿar] man who served [sharath] him and said, “Now throw this woman out of my presence, and lock the door behind her.”” (2 Samuel 13:17)
    4. Balaam's 2 youth servants: “Now he (Balaam) was riding on his donkey and his two servants [lit: youths, naʿar] were with him.” (Numbers 22:22)
    5. Gideon's youth servant: “But if you (Gideon) are afraid to go down, go with Purah your servant [lit: youth, naʿar] down to the camp,” (Judges 7:10)
    6. Abimelech's youth servant: “Then he (Abimelech) called quickly to the young [naʿar] man, his armor bearer, and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, so that it will not be said of me, ‘A woman slew him.’ ” So the young [naʿar] man pierced him through, and he died.” (Judges 9:54)
    7. Sampon's youth servant: “Then Samson said to the boy [naʿar] who was holding his hand, “Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, that I may lean against them.”” (Judges 16:26)
    8. Levite's youth servant: “Then her husband arose and went after her to speak tenderly to her in order to bring her back, taking with him his servant [lit: youth, naʿar] and a pair of donkeys.” (Judges 19:3)
    9. Jonathan's youth servant at Geba: “Now the day came that Jonathan, the son of Saul, said to the young [naʿar] man who was carrying his armor, “Come and let us cross over to the Philistines’ garrison that is on the other side.” But he did not tell his father.” (1 Samuel 14:1)
    10. Jonathan's youth servant at Gibeah: “Now it came about in the morning that Jonathan went out into the field for the appointment with David, and a little lad [naʿar] was with him.” (1 Samuel 20:35)
    11. Amalekite's youth servant: “David said to him, “To whom do you belong? And where are you from?” And he said, “I am a young [naʿar] man of Egypt, a servant [sharath] of an Amalekite; and my master left me behind when I fell sick three days ago.” (1 Samuel 30:13)
    12. Solomon's youth servant: “Now the man Jeroboam was a valiant warrior, and when Solomon saw that the young [naʿar] man was industrious, he appointed him over all the forced labor of the house of Joseph.” (1 Kings 11:28)
    13. Elijah's youth servant: “He said to his servant [lit: youth, naʿar], “Go up now, look toward the sea.” So he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go back” seven times.” (1 Kings 18:43)
    14.  Moses's youth servant was Joshua:

                                                              i.      Note: although Joshua is never called the "naʿar" of Moses" (youth of Moses), he is twice described as being a young man who served Moses FROM HIS YOUTH.

                                                            ii.      “So Moses arose with Joshua his servant [sharath], and Moses went up to the mountain of God.” (Exodus 24:13)

                                                          iii.      “Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses returned to the camp, his servant [sharath] Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.” (Exodus 33:11)

                                                           iv.      “Then Joshua the son of Nun, the servant [sharath] of Moses from his youth [bâchurowth], said, “Moses, my lord, restrain them.” (Numbers 11:28)

                                                             v.      “Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant [sharath], saying,” (Joshua 1:1)

                                                           vi.      “Just as the Lord had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.” (Joshua 11:15)

                                                         vii.      “Then Joshua the son of Nun, the servant [sharath] of the Lord, died at the age of one hundred and ten.” (Judges 2:8)

  1. The 12 spies that were sent from Kadesh Barnea were leaders within their tribal clan and were likely older men. For example Caleb was 40 when he was chosen to spy out the land from Kadesh about 2 years after leaving Sinai.  How do we explain the fact that Joshua was a 20 year old clan leader?
    1. As Moses' personal servant it would be natural for the tribe of Ephraim to choose Joshua as their tribal representative. Although not an "older" leader, like the others probably were, he would get significant special consideration for his very special rose as Moses personal servant.
    2. Also, Joshua had in fact shown leadership when Moses asked him to gather the troops to battle the Amalek just before reaching Sinai: “So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.” (Exodus 17:9-10)
    3. So for a period of almost two years, Joshua had shown leadership not only as Moses' servant, relaying commands, he had also fought victoriously against the Amalekites.
  2. Caleb was 38 years old at Sinai and Joshua was about 20. Why would God give more responsibility to a younger man? Doesn't this argue that Joshua must have been older than Caleb? For example some suggest Joshua died in 1384 BC (at the age of 110), which would make him 62 years old at Sinai in 1446 BC. (using upper chronology)
    1. There are many examples in scripture where God chose young men to do great things: Joseph, Samuel was a leader from infancy. Jonathan was 15 when he defeated the Philistines at Geba. David was 15 when he killed Goliath. Josiah was king at 8. Joshua actually fits a pattern of remarkable young men.
    2. The real question is why did God/Moses chose Joshua over Caleb to be his personal servant?
    3. What good is a successor that dies a few years afterwards? In fact, given the fact that Joshua was Moses' successor, you would expect God to find the youngest possible man available, since this would mean he would rule the people for a long time after spending 38 more years at Kadesh, and then rule the people in Canaan.
  3. Some make Joshua as old as 62 years of age at Sinai have to find some way of explaining why Joshua is called "young". Their solution, is to make this relative to the age of Moses rather than actually being a young man in the natural sense. Therefore Joshua was "younger" at 62 than Moses who was 80. This seems unlikey for the following reasons:
    1. 62 years old compared to 80 is only a small difference of 18 years.
    2. There is no indication in either of the two texts that there is some comparison with Moses' age.
    3. Num 11:28 is not comparative with Moses' age and clearly indicate that Joshua served Moses from the time of HIS youth, in the natural sense of the expression.
  4. Some feel that since Joshua was described as "old and advanced in years" and Caleb "still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me", that this proves Joshua was older than Caleb in 1993 BC.
    1. In the 7th year of the conquest (1993 BC), Caleb was 85 and Joshua was 67 years old.
    2. “Now Joshua was old and advanced in years (67) when the Lord said to him, “You are old and advanced in years, and very much of the land remains to be possessed.” (Joshua 13:1)
    3. "I (Caleb) am eighty-five years old today. “I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in.” (Joshua 14:7,10-11)
    4. Moses was described the same way when he was 120 years old: “Although Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, his eye was not dim, nor his vigor abated.” (Deuteronomy 34:7)
    5.  It is rather natural for a 67 year old man to be described as "old and advanced in years".
    6. The conclusion that Caleb must have been older than Joshua based upon these comparative statements is invalid and not well thought out.
  5. In our Chronology, we need also to add about 15 years after the death of Joshua before we start the first period of oppression. This is because Israel remained faithful until the elders who were alive in 1446 when they witnessed the 10 plagues and crossed the Red Sea had died.
    1. “It came about after these things that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being one hundred and ten years old. And they buried him in the territory of his inheritance in Timnath-serah, which is in the hill country of Ephraim, on the north of Mount Gaash. Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, and had known all the deeds of the Lord which He had done for Israel.” (Joshua 24:29-31)
    2. Assumptions that need to be considered include:

                                                              i.      Joshua lived to be 110 years old. Did the "survivors" live to be 120?

                                                            ii.      Were they ineffective in the last 5 years of their life due to typical ailments of old age?

                                                          iii.      What kinds of regional decay (if any) had already set into areas outside Joshua's control?

                                                           iv.      How many years lapsed after these men died before Israel went into apostasy.

    1. Joshua was no older than about 20 years of age at Sinai. This means that the "elders who survived him and witnessed (knew) the miracles in Egypt" would be at least 5 years old in 1446 BC when they crossed the Red Sea. Someone younger would probably not remember much.
    2. Regardless of Joshua's age at Sinai, only those under the age of 20 were allowed to cross the Jordan.
    3. Under all circumstances, only those born 15 years after Joshua (those age 5 in the exodus) would be included among those who survived him.
    4. When we add the possibility that some of these outlived Joshua past 110 years of age and subtract the effect that senility and old age might have had on their effectiveness in old age, we consider this to be a wash. We might add 5 years for those who lived to be 115, but subtract 5 years because many are not functional the last year years of their life. The net difference is zero in these two variables.
    5. On the other hand, even if none of the survivors lived to older than 105 years old, this would mean that we need only add 10 years to the period Israel remained faithful after Joshua died. It is our assumption that generally, while these elders outlived Joshua, they did not reach the age of 110 years as Joshua did.
    6. When all things are taken into consideration, if Joshua died in 1350 BC, we need to subtract 10 years for those who "survived" Joshua and subtract another 5 years for things to progress from good to bad so that God brings judgement through the first 8 year period of oppression.
  1. Joshua was no younger than 18 and no older than 20 at Sinai. Therefore, the 8 year oppression of Aram-naharaim (3:8) began in 1335 BC or 15 years after Joshua died.

 

Conclusion:

1.      The chronology of the Judges fits almost perfectly from Othneil, the first Judge, down to Jephthah in 1100 BC.

2.      The chronology of the Judges from Jephthah down to Solomon also fits almost perfectly within 6 years.

3.      In proving the exodus of 1446 BC, we can use the Jephthah to Solomon Chronology in this way: According to Judges 11:26-28, Jephthah lived 300 years after Israel crossed the Jordan which is 1100 BC. Solomon's 4th year as king was 480 years after Israel left Egypt and 140 years after Jephthah. The period of the Judges ended when David became king in 1004 BC, since Samuel judged till he died in 1008 BC. If we take the raw chronological numbers from the book of Judges we get this: Jephthah 6 years + Ibzan 7 years + Elon 10 years + Abdon 7 years + Eli 40 years + Samuel 80 years (who died in 1008 BC) + 4 years till Saul died and David became king in Hebron + 40 years of David + 4 years of Solomon = 198 years. Unadjusted it is only 58 years too long. (Remember the Bible tells us plainly that Samson judged at the same time as Jephthah, so we don't count Samson or the oppression that preceded him.) But we also know that Eli judged from 1128 - 1088 BC which was before Jephthah! So we can actually ignore 28 of the 40 years Eli judged. (1100-1128 = 28. 40-28 = 12) Adjusted we can subtract 28 years from 58 years and arrive at a net difference of only 30 years. That’s amazing! Who said you can’t make sense of the Chronology in the book of Judges?

4.      Now if we add Jephthah's 300 years back to the crossing of the Jordan and add 40 years in the wilderness and add the 134 years forward from Jephthah to the 4th year of Solomon, we get 474 years. 1 Kings 6:1 says the actual period was 480 years. Using the Judges Chronology, the difference is only 6 years! This is a stunning confirmation of the statement in 1 Kings 6:1 that the exodus happened 480 years before the 4th year of Solomon. It clearly refutes the 1250 BC exodus.

5.      All this makes it utterly impossible for the Bible believer to teach the exodus took place in 1250 BC. Trust your Bible, not Bible trashing archeologists who teach a 1250 BC exodus.

6.      The Exodus took place in 1446 BC.

7.      Trust Bible. It is the inspired word of God!

 

By Steve Rudd: Contact the author for comments, input or corrections.

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