SEDER OLAM - Revisited

סדר עולם - חדש



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Index of names


Generations  1-14
(3760 - 2080 BCE)

Generations 15-21
(2080 - 1240 BCE)

Generations 22-28
(1240 - 400 BCE)

Generations 29-35
(400 BCE - 440 CE)

Generations 36-42
(440 - 1280 CE)

Generations 43-49
(1280 - 2120 CE)

Generation 50

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Solomon starts to sin
(2761 AM - 999 BCE)

Osorkon the Elder, of Egypt
(2768 AM - 992 BCE)

Hadad the Edomite

Rezon the Aramaean

Jeroboam and Shoshenq
(2770 AM - 989 BCE)

Death of Solomon
(2781 AM - 979 BCE)

Scission of the kingdom
(2781 AM - 979 BCE)

Idolatry in the kingdom of Israel
(2781 AM - 979 BCE)

The kings' chronology

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Hebrew years 2760 to 2880 (1000-880 BCE)
  ~~~ Part I ~~~ Part II ~~~ Part III ~~~

Year 2761– 999 BCE – Solomon deviates from God’s path

At the end of twenty years of reign, after having built his kingdom, the Temple for 7 years and his own Palace for 13 years (I Kings 7:1), Solomon started to fall into complacency. In particular, he loved many women who influenced his heart and judgment, away from God’s faith:

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, besides the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel: 'You shall not go among them, neither shall they come among you; for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods'; Solomon did cleave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not whole with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the detestation of the Ammonites. And Solomon did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father.
Then did Solomon build a high place for Chemosh the detestation of Moab, in the mount that is before Jerusalem and for Molech the detestation of the children of Ammon. And so he did for all his foreign wives, who offered and sacrificed unto their gods. And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared unto him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he kept not that which the Lord commanded.

Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon: "Forasmuch as this has been in your mind, and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely rend the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant. Notwithstanding in your days I will not do it, for David your father's sake; but I will rend it out of the hand of your son. Howbeit I will not rend away the entire kingdom; but I will give one tribe to your son; for David My servant's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake which I have chosen."
--- I Kings 11:1-13

At the beginning of Solomon’s reign, God had promised him to extend his life, at the condition that he would keep His commandments. But, after 20 years of reign in such path, Solomon’s spirit changed, because of his foreign wives. So God only granted another 20 years of sinful reign to Solomon, one sinful year for one year of righteousness, with no extension of life.

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Year 2768 – 992 BCE – Osorkon the Elder, of Egypt

The 21st Dynasty of Egypt came into trouble again during Solomon’s second phase of reign. His father-in-law, Psusennes I, was succeeded a few years earlier by his son Amenemope, brother of Solomon’s wife. But the new Pharaoh was inexperienced due to his youth, and only reigned for about 10 years until his death in 992 BCE. There is a probability that he was murdered because, in the same year, Smendes II, the High Priest of Amon, in Thebes, also died. Pinedjem II, the brother of Smendes II took over the post of High Priest but, in Tanis, the lineage of male king was broken: a new Pharaoh, called Osorkon, came from the ruling family of Berber tribes located in present day Libya. These people were originally of Canaanite origin, from the Girgashites who came to that region at the time of the conquest of Joshua. These tribes were known to the Egyptians as the Meshwesh.

Map of Meshwesh kingdom
Map of the region around 1200 BCE
(Bates, Oric, The eastern Libyans: an essay, London, 1914, p. 50)

Osorkon changed the balance of alliances and established the Meshwesh as the new rulers of Lower Egypt, while the Priests of Amon were still ruling Upper Egypt from their capital Thebes. Osorkon didn’t have benefit in maintaining the alliance with Solomon that prevailed before, because the Israelite king was married to the sister of the preceding Pharaoh, from another family.
So what happened to this preceding ruling Tanite dynasty? Here the text of the Bible brings us some light:

And the Lord raised up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite; he was of the king's seed in Edom. For it came to pass, when David was in Edom, and Joab the captain of the host was gone up to bury the slain, and had smitten every male in Edom --for Joab and all Israel remained there six months, until he had cut off every male in Edom-- that Hadad fled, he and certain Edomites of his father's servants with him, to go into Egypt; Hadad being yet a little child. And they arose out of Midian, and came to Paran; and they took men with them out of Paran, and they came to Egypt, unto Pharaoh King of Egypt, who gave him a house, and appointed him victuals, and gave him land.
And Hadad found great favour in the sight of Pharaoh, so that he gave him to wife the sister of his own wife, the sister of Tahpennes the Queen. And the sister of Tahpenes bore him Genubath his son, whom Tahpenes weaned in Pharaoh's house; and Genubath was in Pharaoh's house among the sons of Pharaoh. And when Hadad heard in Egypt that David slept with his fathers, and that Joab the captain of the host was dead, Hadad said to Pharaoh: "Let me depart, that I may go to my own country." Then Pharaoh said unto him: "But what have you lacked with me, that, behold, you seek to go to your own country?" And he answered: "Nothing; howbeit let me depart in any wise."
--- I Kings 11:14-22

So, as a child, Hadad, the heir to the throne of Edom, had fled to Egypt with the help of his father’s close advisors. There he was welcomed and raised in the royal house. His host was probably Pinedjem I who was the High Priest in Thebes since 1070 BCE. He had also crowned himself Pharaoh in year 1054 BCE, at a time when David took the kingship over all Israel and started to wage war towards Aram and Edom. Pinedjem I had an extended family from a few wives. Many of his sons and daughters got a share in the power of both political Tanis and religious Thebes. One of his sons, Psusennes I, became Pharaoh in Tanis from 1047 BCE and he is the one who gave one of his daughters as a wife to King Solomon. Hadad grew up in the house of Pinedjem I and knew all the family children in Thebes and Tanis. Pinedjem I married Hadad to a sister of his own wife Tahpennes. This Biblical Tahpennes was probably the Egyptian queen whose name was Se-te-pe-Amun which means "chosen by Amun": it was her official name, called the "throne name", like any other important royal member had. Most of the rulers of the 21st Dynasty used this "chosen by Amun" as a root for their official throne name. Psusennes for example is the Greek version of his name but his real names in Egypt were: Paseba-khanniut for his personal name ("nomen") and Akhepe-Re-Setepe-Amun, meaning "Great are the manifestations of Ra, chosen by Amun", for his throne name ("praenomen"). Psusennes had two wives, one called Wiay and one who was his own sister, Mutnedjmet.

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Hadad’s desire to depart Egypt probably did not meet approval from Psusennes because, beside the fact that Hadad’s wife was Pharaoh’s sister through their father Pinedjem I, he knew that Hadad hated the Israelites, and thus Solomon, Pharaoh’s son-in-law, and would necessarily cause trouble to him. There is no further mention in the text about Pharaoh’s decision to let Hadad go, but we can assume that it was refused in order not to cause trouble to Solomon. However, the rest of the text indicates that something went awfully wrong, after Solomon deviates from God’s path:

And God raised up another adversary unto him [Solomon], Rezon the son of Eliada, who had fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah. And he gathered men unto him, and became captain over a troop, when David slew them [of Zobah]; and they went to Damascus, and dwelt therein, and reigned in Damascus. And he was an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon, beside the evil that Hadad did; and he abhorred Israel, and reigned over Aram.
--- I Kings 11:23-25

What "evil" could Hadad have possibly done? He desired to leave Egypt after he learned from David’s death in 1019 BCE. But God watched after Solomon in the first 20 years of his reign. It is only after 999 BCE that God raised adversaries to Solomon, among them Hadad. After the death of Psusennes I in 1001 BCE, his son Amenemope reigned in Tanis, but not for long: he died in 992 BCE and without heir. The crown could have then been taken by one of Psusennes’ family members, who mostly lived in Thebes. But there too, the High Priest Smendes II died in that same year of 992 BCE. So this whole royal family must have been shaken, and it was more important for them to control the religious power in Thebes, over Middle and Upper Egypt. So, in Tanis, another ruler came: it was Osorkon, of Canaanite origin like Hadad.

It is possible that Hadad had something to do in the misfortune of the Egyptian dynasty, maybe poisoning the two rulers, in Tanis and in Thebes. Another strange and unique circumstance happened to this family at the same period: one of Psusennes’ sisters was the High Priestess called Maatkare Mutemhat. The High Priestess title, Maatkare, was revived by their father Pinedjem I to grant honour to one of his daughters and strengthen the faith to Amun. The name Maatkare means the "wife of God [Amun-]Re", Maat being the goddess wife of Amun-Re in the Egyptian pantheon. The High Priestess took the vow to never marry, because she was already officially the "wife" of a god. But, when Maatkare’s tomb was discovered in the Theban Necropolis in 1881, they found a small mummy besides her inside the sarcophagi. It was initially thought to be the mummy of a child, but it would not have been possible for a High Priestess to give birth ! Recent X-Ray analysis however determined that it was the mummy of a monkey, a baboon, so the assumption has been that she had been buried with her baboon pet. Was it normal for a High Priestess to be buried with a pet? Probably not, as there is no other occurrence of such kind found anywhere in the History of Ancient Egypt. So there is suspicious that Maatkare did indeed give birth to a child… This situation would have shaken the religious establishment and, beyond the mere scandal it caused, priests would have feared from the gods’ displeasure and outrage: in essence, her husband-god god Amun had been cheated ! It would seem plausible that the mother and the child would have been sacrificed to appease the gods after such sacrilege and, as an extraordinary measure, it would have been decided that Maatkare would be buried with a symbol of her would-have-been-child, the only son she could have had from her husband-god Amun: the god Thoth, who is often represented with the face of a baboon. Also importantly, Thoth was the god responsible for the judgment of the dead. So his place in Maatkare’s sarcophagi was to expiate the sin and a hope that Thoth would protect her in the afterlife.

The sarcophagi of Maatkare
Sarcophagi of Maatkare with the small mummy in it, photography published in
Brugsch, Emile, "La trouvaille de Deir-el-Bahari", Le Caire, 1881
(Cairo Museum CG61088)

We can assume that the "evil" Hadad had been the cause of this situation: maybe he ordered the High Priestess to be raped, or maybe he managed to seduce her, so that she would be pregnant. This would have been a sure way, in addition of getting rid of the High Priest himself, to shaken the entire royal and priestly establishment. Then, when he managed to get rid of the royal figure, Pharaoh Amenemope, as well, he would have been sure that the recovery or the nomination of a new Pharaoh would not come from Thebes, as it should have been the case. Hadad had in effect destroyed politically and religiously the family who had an alliance with King Solomon, the son of David who had destroyed Hadad's family and kingdom. This is why the Biblical text mentioned "evil" in his case, unlike the king of Aram who was only an "adversary". Hadad was not a direct military threat to Solomon’s kingdom, like Aram was, but his evil actions indirectly had impacts on the fate of the Israelite kingdom.

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Year 2770 – 989 BCE – Jeroboam and Shoshenq

Solomon also had trouble in his own house. Jeroboam, the son of a king’s servant from the tribe of Ephraim, lifted his hand against the king (I Kings 11:26). Jeroboam was a mighty young man. The text tells us the root cause of his rebellion, despite the fact that Solomon gave him position and responsibility: it was the consequence of a divine prophecy that Ahijah had told him:

And he [Ahijah the Shilonite] said to Jeroboam: "Take you ten pieces; for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: 'Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to you -- but he shall have one tribe, for My servant David's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel -- because that they have forsaken Me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon; and they have not walked in My ways, to do that which is right in My eyes, and to keep My statutes and My ordinances, as did David his father. Howbeit I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand; but I will make him prince all the days of his life, for David My servant's sake, whom I chose, because he kept My commandments and My statutes; but I will take the kingdom out of his son's hand, and will give it unto you, even ten tribes. And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David My servant may have a lamp always before Me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen Me to put My name there. And I will take you, and you shall reign over all that your soul desires, and shall be king over Israel. And it shall be, if you will hearken unto all that I command you, and will walk in My ways, and do that which is right in My eyes, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as David My servant did, that I will be with you, and will build you a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto you. And I will for this afflict the seed of David, but not forever.'
Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam; but Jeroboam arose, and fled into Egypt, unto Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon.
--- I Kings 11:31-40
Jeroboam fled to Egypt, but not to the Pharaoh of Egypt, which at the time was Osorkon the Elder. Jeroboam found asylum to Shishak king of Egypt.

Who was Shishak? He was Shoshenq, the father of Osorkon. Shoshenq was king of the Meshwesh dynasty of Egypt, but he was not himself the Pharaoh, the political ruler over the capital of Lower Egypt, Tanis. It was his son Osorkon who was the Pharaoh. So the Meshwesh dynasty sheltered in fact both enemies of Solomon, first Hadad the Edomite and then Jeroboam who would later wage war against Solomon’s son.

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Year 2781 – 979 BCE – Death of Solomon

When King Solomon died after 40 years of reign, the Israelite kingdom was still intact, but it was undermined by threats that waited to unleash. The root cause of them was that Solomon allowed idolatry to exist in his kingdom. God did not accept such deviation from His commandments, and had planned to split the kingdom, as announced to Jeroboam.

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Year 2781 – 979 BCE – Scission of the kingdom

Solomon was succeeded by his son Rehoboam who would make irreparable political mistakes which lead to a scission of the kingdom in the first year of his reign. In addition, Egypt was no longer an ally to David’s house, due the previous change of rulers. As for the borders in the north, they were also under the threat from the rise of Aram.

As soon as he heard about the death of Solomon, Jeroboam returned to Israel and was soon chosen to be king for all the tribes which broke away from the house of Judah, following their discontent with Rehoboam. The threat of a civil war was growing:

And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, be assembled all the house of Judah, and the tribe of Benjamin, a hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men that were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom back to Rehoboam the son of Solomon.
But the word of God came unto Shemaiah the man of God, saying: "Speak unto Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and unto all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, saying: Thus says the Lord: You shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel; return every man to his house; for this thing is of Me." So they hearkened unto the word of the Lord, and returned and went their way, according to the word of the Lord.
--- I Kings 12:21-24

Eventually, Rehoboam had to bind to the fact that the other tribes, except Benjamin, would not accept his kingship. The kingdom split in that first year, about 280 years after the end of the conquest by Joshua.

But the reigns of the early kings of Judah and Israel were plagued by recurrent conflicts between the two sides, without any of the side to be able to overcome the other.
The kingdom of Israel would be sinful from the very first reign of Jeroboam, and will remain so until the end. In Judah, a few kings would follow the path of God but most of them would sin.

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Year 2781 – 979 BCE – Jeroboam establishes idolatry in the kingdom of Israel

Jeroboam established the capital of the new kingdom in Sichem (today's , in the territory of his tribe, Ephraim. During the reign of Solomon, he had been ordered to build the "House of Joseph" in this city (I Kings 11:28) probably a mausoleum, as Joseph had been buried just outside Sichem. Jeroboam’s chief concern was that the people of his new kingdom would go to Jerusalem for pilgrimage and religious sacrifices and, as a consequence, may turn against him to remain under the protection of the house of God. The solution he found was to divert his people from their traditional divine service and force them to serve idol worship:

Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold; and he said unto them: 'You have gone up long enough to Jerusalem; behold your gods, O Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt.'
And he set the one in Beth-el, and the other put he in Dan. And this thing became a sin; for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan. And he made houses of high places, and made priests from among all the people, that were not of the sons of Levi.
And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he went up unto the altar; so did he in Beth-el, to sacrifice unto the calves that he had made; and he placed in Beth-el the priests of the high places that he had made.
--- I Kings 12:28-32
The choice of locations for the two new high places, Beth-El and Dan, was carefully chosen. Beth-El was important because the Ark of the Covenant had been placed there in the Judges period, and Beth-El was also close enough from the kingdom of Judah thus enabling the Israelites not to have to travel to Jerusalem any more during the festivals. As of Dan, it was located in the northern part of the kingdom at this period of time, so it kept the Israelites of the north as farther as possible from the kingdom of Judah and Jerusalem. As a result of this turn to idolatry, all the Levites who had been in the divine service among the territories of Israel left and found refuge in the kingdom of Judah.

The temple of Dan
The Israelite temple of Dan,
showing the ruins of the staircase leading to the "high place" (bamah)
(courtesy and photograph: Tel Dan Excavations)

God tried to send signs to Jeroboam to turn him back into the good path, but to no avail. His kingdom was doomed to disappear:

After this thing Jeroboam returned not from his evil way, but made again from among all the people priests of the high places; whosoever would, he consecrated him, that he might be one of the priests of the high places. And by this thing there was sin unto the house of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to destroy it from off the face of the earth.
--- I Kings 13:33-34

Jeroboam also established a new calendar of festivals in which the new year of his kingdom was set on the 8th month compared to the calendar used in Judah (I Kings 12:32). The Hebrews had used a solar-lunar calendar, combining the 12 months and the 4 seasons, and the start of it was decreed to be in Nisan, which was also called Aviv, as the month of Spring. Conveniently it was also the month when the Hebrews were taken out from Egypt, as the Exodus took plave on a 15th of Nisan. The Egyptian calendar was not much different as it also started in that same period, but was divided in 12 months of 30 days, thus not taking into account the lunar phases: this is the calendar that the Hebrews used when they were in Egypt, but they had been given a new calendar by divine commandments based both on solar (seasons) and lunar (regular) cycles. When Jeroboam started to reign, after a few months of conflicts with Rehoboam, he decreed to start the year from the start of his reign, which took place on the 15th day of the 8th month of the corresponding Judah calendar: this was the month of Marshvevan, called “Bul” at the time (I Kings 6:38). This was another important step for him to grad mindshare of his people because he knew that, after a while, they would adapt to the new calendar and will be forgetful of the Judean calendar and festivals.

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Chronology of the two kingdoms

This difference of calendar has some implication in the calculation of the chronology of events that followed because each time a new king would reign, the years stated would be the years from the start of his reign. So, generally speaking, there is always some slight difference in the years stated in the Biclical text because the referential of the years depends of the reign of such or such king, in Judah or Israel. There are typically two indications in the Biblical text:

1-      The start of a reign: it is relative to the year of reign in the other kingdom (for example a new king of Judah came to reign on the Xth year of reign of the king of Israel); obviously, as there is no mention of a starting month, some discrepancy would cumulate and need to be readjusted in some particular moments where we have an indication that enables us to do so; of course, as mentioned above, the reign of Jeroboam over Israel started 8 months from the start of the reign of Rehoboam in Judah (a reign which started at the death of Solomon)
2-      The length of a reign: it is generally given in a number of years, or in months for reigns of a period smaller than 12 months, or in days for a period smaller than 29 or 30 days (lunar months); obviously, here again, as there is no mention of reigns being of X years + Y months precisely, when a reign ends after X years, it will mean that X years of reign have completed and up to 11 months have completed as well; so some discrepancy also cumulates because of this, and needs to be readjusted at particular events of the chronology, when we have some indication to do so; also, one must remember the known rule for the kings of Judah, for whom reigns were counted from the 1st of Nisan:

Mishnah I. There are four New Years. On the First of Nisan is New Year for kings and festivals. [...]
Gemara. Our Rabbis learnt: If a king ascended the throne on the twenty-ninth of Adar, as soon as the first of Nisan arrives he is reckoned to have reigned a year. If on the other hand he ascended the throne on the first of Nisan, he is not reckoned to have reigned a year till the next first of Nisan comes round.
--- Talmud, Rosh Hashanah, 2a
To minimize the effects of apparent discordance of the chronologies between Judah and Israel, we applied the simple average rules as follows:

-          when the text says (as an example) in the 10th year of the reign of King X of Judah, we need to consider that year being after 9 (full) years to fit into the chronology of Israel which started 8 months after the one of Judah; but when the text says in the 10th year of the reign of King Y of Israel, we keep the full 10 years to compensate for the 8-month shift from the start of the chronology of Judah; this is an approximation of course, but it keeps the chronology as close as possible to what it must have been; but, as with any approximation, some adjustments would be necessary by one year or so, from time to time to fit specific circumstances

-          the length of a king’s reign is until his death; but, there are several occurrences where his son was raised to reign in the last years of his father (surely to guarantee the succession while the old king was still alive), and would receive his status of king generally at the death of his father; so, for as long as his father was alive, the chronology was counted from the start of the reign of his father, even if it is mentioned that the son started to reign, and the chronology of the reign of the son begins from the death of his father; this detail explains some apparent non-logical statements of the text, but, in essence, we have to read the text as it occurred at the moment it was written down, with the father was alive, or the father had just died

-          there are necessary adjustments to make from time to time in the chronology to make good sense of some events (for example the death of a king followed by the reign of his son, and not the reverse); these adjustments are not a contradiction of the text but simply a necessity because of the lack of complete detail of an event happening in year X, month Y and day Z; such adjustments cannot however exceed one year in any chronology

-          the adjustment of lunar and solar-lunar calendars are done after two periods of 120 years with a difference counting for about  two years

Go to >> Part II

Copyright Albert Benhamou 2013 - All rights reserved.