[Up] [Previous] [Other] [Home]

4004 B. C. and All That

As nearly everyone is aware, the Earth is four billion years old, the ancestors of human beings split off from the common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees millions of years ago, and anatomically modern humans date back to approximately 40,000 years ago./p>

However, modern science is a recent development in human history, and the political freedom which allowed religious orthodoxy to be questioned is also of a recent date. As well, religion is quite properly important in the lives of many, as it is the basis on which many people have learned the basic ethical values such as respect for the rights of others, and compassion and generosity.

Among Protestants, the most well known calculation of the date of Creation from the information in the Bible was that of Archbishop James Ussher, which placed Creation in the year 4004 B.C., Dr. John Lightfoot refined that to 9 AM on October 23rd of 4004 B.C. (by the Julian Calendar).

There are, however, a number of other calculations of the date of Creation.

What is the information that was used to arrive at these results?

Genesis opens (Genesis 1:1-5):


In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.


From this, if we are to take a literalistic approach, the world was created at sunset, Jerusalem time, at the beginning of Sunday by the Jewish calendar - or on Saturday by the modern civil calendar.

Adam was created on the sixth day.

Then we have the fifth chapter of Genesis, which lists the descendants of Adam, and the ages of their parents at their births, thus, the account of Adam proceeds (Genesis 5:3-5):


And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness after his image; and called his name Seth:

And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters:

And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died.


This account gives the spans:

              Masoretic         Septuagint

Adam          130 800 930       230 700 930
Seth          105 807 912       205 707 912
Enos           90 815 905       190 715 905
Cainan         70 840 910       170 740 910
Mahaleel       65 830 895       165 730 895
Jared         162 800 962       162 800 962
Enoch          65 300 365       165 200 365
Methuselah    187 782 969       167 802 969
Lamech        182 595 777       188 585 753
Noah          500               500
Shem, Ham, Japeth

If Adam was 130 years old when Seth was born, this does not mean that Seth was born on Adam's 130th birthday. So there would be an uncertainty of at least a year for each generation. As well, that the figures for Enos, Cainan and Mahaleel may have been rounded to the nearest five years is a possibility that can be considered without rejecting the authority of Scripture.

Also, while the Septuagint is generally considered a poor translation of Scripture, and the authority of the Masoretic text is now accepted by Christians, it might be noted that the ages at which the patriarchs had their first child are more consistent in the Septuagint. This particularly helps the theory that the "years" in these geneaologies should actually be lunar months to yield plausible ages.

But by adding the years, at least a nominal date can be obtained for the births and deaths recorded in this list:

              Masoretic                    Septuagint                     

Adam          130 800 930     1  931       230 700 930     1  931
Seth          105 807 912   131 1043       205 707 912   231 1143
Enos           90 815 905   236 1141       190 715 905   436 1341
Cainan         70 840 910   326 1236       170 740 910   626 1536
Mahaleel       65 830 895   396 1291       165 730 895   796 1691
Jared         162 800 962   461 1423       162 800 962   961 1923
Enoch          65 300 365   623  988       165 200 365  1123 1488
Methuselah    187 782 969   688 1657       167 802 969  1288 2257
Lamech        182 595 777   875 1652       188 585 753  1455 2232 
Noah          500          1057            500          1643
Shem, Ham, Japeth          1557                         2143

We are told that the flood happened when Noah was 600 years old, 100 years after his three sons were born, in Genesis 7:11:


In the six hundredeth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of that month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and all the windows of heaven were opened.


Note that this is the same year as that of Methuselah's death.

The date of Noah's death was given in Genesis 9:28-29:


And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years.

And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died.


These years are the same in the Septuagint.

Genesis 11:10-32 give another series of generations for the descendants of Shem, beginning:


These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood:

And Shem lived after he begat Arphaxad five hundred years, and begat sons and daughters.


Assuming that Shem was actually a hundred and two years old when Arphaxad was born, everything else is consistent (this issue is present in the same way in the Septuagint), and we can continue the table above:

              Masoretic                 Septuagint

Noah          500 450 950  1057 2007    500 450 950  1643 2593
Shem          102 500      1557 2159    102 500      2143 2745
Arphaxad       35 403      1659         135 400      2245
Cainan                                  130 330      2380
Salah          30 403      1694         130 330      2510
Eber           34 430      1724         134 270      2640
Peleg          30 209      1758         130 209      2774
Reu            32 207      1788         132 207      2904
Serug          30 200      1820         130 200      3036
Nahor          29 119      1850         179 125      3166
Terah          70          1879          70          3345
Abram, Nahor, Haran        1949                      3415

Then, the Bible recounts subsequent events:

In Genesis 12:4, it is noted that Abram departed from a city called Haran when he was 75 years old.

In Genesis 21:5, it is noted that Abraham (as he is now called) was 100 years old when Isaac was born.

In Genesis 25:26, it is noted that Isaac was 60 years old when Esau and Jacob were born.

Genesis 47:8-9 indicates that Jacob was 130 years old when he arrived in Egypt.

Exodus 12:40-41 notes that the Jews spent 430 years in Egypt until the Exodus.

And then in I Kings 6:1 it is noted that in the 480th year after the Exodus, in the fourth year of the reign of King Solomon, construction began on the Temple.

Thus, we have:

Abram         100          1949         100          3415
Isaac          60          2049          60          3515
Jacob             130      2109             130      3575
Egypt             430      2239             430      3705
Exodus            480      2669             440      4135
Temple                     3149                      4575

The 480 years from the Exodus to the building of the Temple correspond to periods of time recounted in the books of Joshua and Judges that total to 460 years, which, when added to the time it took to go from Egypt to Israel, the reign of King David, and the first few years of the reign of King Solomon, to 504 years. This is typically resolved by presuming that some of the reigns of the judges were overlapping.

And the year in which the Temple was constructed works out to be 973 B.C., by taking the reigns of the kings from David and Solomon onwards, to historical events which can be dated by eclipses which were recorded in Babylonia. This puts the first year of the world, or anno mundi, in either 4121 B.C. by the Masoretic text, or 5547 B.C. by the Septuagint. Of course, there are a number of other details about which there is controversy, leading to other proposed dates for Creation.

As noted, construction began on the Temple in the fourth year of the reign of King Solomon.

The reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah are recorded in the Bible as follows:

David (Judah)      7
David             33
Solomon           40                                     I Kings 11:42

Judah                      Israel
Rehoboam          17       Jeroboam          22           I Kings 14:20-21
Abijam             2 (3)                    (18)          I Kings 15:1-2
Asa               41                        (20)          I Kings 15:9-10
                  (2)      Nadab              1  (2)      I Kings 15:25
                  (3)      Baasha            23 (24)      I Kings 15:33
                 (26)      Elah               1  (2)      I Kings 16:8
                 (27)      Zimri              0           I Kings 16:15
                 (27)      Omri,Tibni         4
                 (31)      Omri               7 (12)      I Kings 16:23
                 (38)      Ahab              20 (22)      I Kings 16:29
Jehoshaphat       24  (25)                   (4)          I Kings 22:41-42
                 (17)      Ahaziah            1  (2)      I Kings 22:51
                 (18)      Jehoram           11 (12)     II Kings 3:1
                           Joram
Jehoram            7 (8)                     (5)         II Kings 8:16-17
Ahaziah            1                        (12)         II Kings 8:25-26

[Up] [Previous] [Other] [Home]