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From Cyrus to Alexander the Great

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Cyrus to Alexander the Great

Trying to find a biblically acceptable solution to the problem of Persian history among the selection of chronologies pustulated today is almost impossible. To accept one chronology rather than another only revels other problems aligning a specific references in the bible to an event or time period. A recent Internet search for 'chronology Ptolemy Canon' reveled over a thousand hits, some of which are sympathetic towards Ptolemy, others castigate him for the deception he has foisted on the historical scholarly community. The criticism of the list of Babylonian and Persian kings given by him in his Almagest may be warrantied but the accusation that he manipulated or even selected only the eclipse references that supported his arguments are not so well founded. All that Ptolemy may be guilty of is accepting a chronology of his day without verifying the validity of the information he received (the same thing that some are just as guilty of today), and then trying to develop mathematical formula for what he thought was accurate data. His list of the succession of kings that reigned in the Babylonian and Persian empires, have come down to us from earlier times than that of Ptolemy and may have influenced many historical writers of the past.

The problem with an account of history based on Ptolemy's list of kings becomes apparent when trying to find eclipses of the sun mentioned by Herodotus and harmonize them with an eclipse of the moon that apparently missed, in the thirty-seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar. The forced interpretation of the time between the decree of Artaxerxes to rebuild the temple and the cutting off of the sacrifice, in the seventy-week prophecy of Daniel 9 also does not fit well with the intent of the straightforward statement in the Scriptures that Cyrus would be the one to issue the decree. There is additionally some debate that Xerxes and Artaxerxes may be one and the same king, Xerxes changing his name to Artaxerxes on the instigation of Themistocles after his defection from the Greeks.

The list Ptolemy uses includes the following names for the Persian kings:-

	Cyrus (The Great)

The Persian poet Firdusi, who lived 931-1020 AD furnishes a national epic of Persia that provides the following list of Persian kings for this period:

	[Cyrus] [Cambyses]
	Artaxerxes Longimanus
	Queen Homai - mother of Darius-II

Josephus, writing in the late first century provides this list:

	Darius II as the last king

Herodotus, possibly a contemporary of Artaxerxes gives the following names

	Cambyses son of Cyrus
	Darius Hystaspes

The book of Daniel maintains that there would only be four Kings in Persia; "And now will I show thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and when he is waxed strong through his riches, he shall stir up all against the realm of Greece. (Daniel 11:2)." As the only Persian kings mentioned in the Bible are Cyrus, Cambyses, Ahasuerus, Artaxerxes and Darius, it is the contention of this theses that Cyrus and Cambyses reigned concurrently, Xerxes and Artaxerxes being one and the same king and therefore leaving only the following four kings as successors to the Persian throne.

Cyrus, Darius Hystaspes, Artaxerxes and Darius

Is it possible that the rest of the Persian kings found in the Canon of Ptolemy are merely phantom kings and can be eliminated, leaving only these four with the rightful title of King of kings, King of Persia? If six of the ten Persian king in Ptolemy's list are either imaginary or duplicate names then in order to eliminate them we must discover how they were included in the list in the first place. As will be demonstrated below Cambyses the son of Cyrus was the father of Cyrus the Great and reigned concurrently with his son, ending his own life within weeks of the death of his son Cyrus. Darius Hystaspes took the throne after putting down the rebellion of the Magi under Smerdis and was succeeded by his son Xerxes, who later changed his name to Artaxerxes, followed by his son Darius who was defeated by Alexander the Great. It is in the reign of Xerxes where the major chronological problems have there origin.

At the beginning of his reign, Xerxes embarked on a ill-fated campaign against Greece. After his defeat and return to Persia, in order to circumvent a retaliatory invasion and to regain some credibility with Greece he was persuaded to change his name to Artaxerxes. It was reported abroad that Xerxes had been murdered and Artaxerxes avenging his father's homicide killed his assassin and took the thrown for himself. If Xerxes and Artaxerxes were the same king it would therefore result in conflicts with contradictory historical records for the same period. According to one version, the father of Artaxerxes would have been Xerxes and another Darius, but this Darius could not possibly be Darius Hystaspes as Xerxes followed him to the throne. As Artaxerxes-I was succeeded by his son Darius it therefore follows that this Darius must have been the father of Artaxerxes-II instead of the one defeated by Alexander the Great. Artaxerxes-II was supposed to have been succeeded by two kings, that to date there is no archeological evidence whatsoever to support this position, and then Darius-III who was defeated by Alexander the Great. If Xerxes and Artaxerxes are the same king then the need for Artaxerxes-II and Darius-III disappears, all of this brings the validity of the list of Persian kings provided by Ptolemy into question.

The rest of this thesis will show that the Biblical chronology is probably correct, and with the help of astronomical references to confirm the time periods given in the seventy week prophesy of Daniel 9, an accurate timing for the defeat of Babylon and the granting of the decree of Cyrus to rebuild the temple and Jerusalem can be ascertained. The evidence will show that the solar eclipse that was seen by Xerxes at Sardis before his invasion of Grease, happened in the early years of the reign associated with Artaxerxes-II. It will likewise be demonstrated astronomically that Artaxerxes-I and Artaxerxes-II could have been the same king and therefore some of the events associated with Xerxes and Darius-II may belong to other kings.

The Fall of Babylon and the timing of the Decree to rebuild Jerusalem

Daniel had seen and interpreted the writing on the wall in the palace of Belshazzar, and "In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old"(Dan 5:30-31). Daniel realizing the destruction of the Babylonian kingdom also signified the end of the seventy years that Judah was to be in subjection to them, prayed:-

"In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans, in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years whereof the word of Jehovah came to Jeremiah the prophet, for the accomplishing of the desolations of Jerusalem, even seventy years. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. (Daniel 9:1-3)."

While he was praying Daniel had a vision, and the man Gabriel came to give him understanding of the vision.

"Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy. Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the anointed one, the prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: it shall be built again, with street and moat, even in troublous times. And after the threescore and two weeks shall the anointed one be cut off, and shall have nothing: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and even unto the end shall be war; desolations are determined. (Daniel 9:24-26)"

In this prophesy Daniel was given the time period between two very important events as far as this chronology is concerned. Namely the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, and the cutting off of the anointed one or the crucifixion of Christ.

The seventy weeks, a more accurate translation would be seventy sevens, pertain to seventy periods of seven years for a total of four hundred and ninety years. The seventy weeks are divided up into three parts, each of different lengths, seven weeks sixty-two weeks and one week. The seven and sixty-two weeks relate to the rebuilding of Jerusalem in troubled times and the coming of the anointed one, were as the sixty-two weeks pertains only to the time period preceding the cutting off of the anointed one. The last week describes the cutting off of the sacrifice and placement of the abomination of desolation, and this seven year period is undoubtedly the last in the sequence.

If the whole period of seventy weeks is equivalent to a total of four hundred and ninety years between the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem unto the anointed one, and even if the crucifixion of Christ is placed as late as 33 A.D. it would still require four hundred and fifty-seven years between Cyrus and the beginning of the current era, placing the creation of Adam no later than 4009 B.C.E. and the end of the six thousand years in the past, disqualifying this position. Even the seven weeks and sixty-two weeks is only seven years shorter than above and still to long a period to qualify. Only the sixty-two weeks or four hundred and thirty-four years between the commandment to restore Jerusalem unto the cutting off of the anointed one is short enough to place the end of the six thousand years in the future, and as will be shown is the correct interpretation of this sequence of events.

Daniel had discovered that the seventy years were completed in the first year of Darius but the decree to rebuild was given in the first year of Cyrus. Both of these kings first year of reign is recognized by writers in the Bible as the end of the seventy years under Babylonian domination. The truth is, Darius was the king of the Medes and Cyrus was the king of Persia. At the fall of the city of Babylon Darius was made king of Babylon but Cyrus was King of Kings. Babylon was merely a territorial dominion of the Persian Empire and both kings reigned concurrently with each other, so when Daniel claims that the seventy years were completed in the first year of Darius it is not in conflict with 2Chronicles which defines the same year as the first year of Cyrus. Between this year and the crucifixion there can only be four hundred and thirty-four years if the six thousand years of man is to end in the future.

Jesus was crucified at the Passover in 27 C.E. (see The Real Birth Date of Christ) therefore the beginning of 434 years, starting with the decree given by Cyrus in the first year of his reign, would place it in the spring of 408 B.C.E. and the overthrow of Babylon in the fall of 409 B.C.E. instead of the currently accepted date of 539 B.C.E. as given in Ptolemy's Cannon. This configuration places the creation of Adam perhaps as late as 3961 B.C.E. and the possibility for the return of Christ at the end of the 6000 years still in the future. Many historians would disagree and argue that this date for the end of the Babylonian empire and the beginning of the Persian period is far too late and that the time between Cyrus and the accepted date for Alexander the Great, some seventy-five years or so, would be too short for all the Persian kings.

Many interpreters of this time based Biblical Prophecy end up in never-never land at this point because they do not establish a firm benchmark for the dates they may depend on to authenticate their position. The date that Cyrus defeated the Babylonians and set the Jews free is such an important benchmark, especially in Biblical chronology, that establishing it using the interpretation of prophesy alone is inadequate, it must also be confirmed using the astronomical data already available. This must include at the very least the eclipse of the sun when the war between the Medes and Lydians came to an end and the missed eclipse of the moon in the thirty-seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar. The identification of the eclipse seen by Xerxes at Sardis, at the beginning of his march into Greece, helps to verify the validity of the biblical prophecy of Daniel as there being only four king in Persia and also confirms the timing of his reign.

Astronomical Evidence for the Date of the Decree of Cyrus

The Lydian v Median Eclipses of the Sun

At the end of a six year war between the Lydians and the Medes an eclipse of the sun suddenly turned the day to night and interrupted the hostilities in the midst of the battle. The war ceased abruptly and the border between the two nations was set along the Halys river. The Lydian territory in the north-west covered an area synonymous with the western half of modern day Turkey, Media in the east and Babylon in the south, while the Persians were one of a band of unorganized bedouin tribes occupying a region in the southern reaches of Iran and were subjects of the Medes.

A peace treaty was negotiated, (Herodotus Book I) "and they brought about an interchange of marriages; for they decided that Alyattes should give his daughter Aryenis to Astyages the son of Kyaxares, seeing that without the compulsion of a strong tie, agreements are apt not to hold strongly together." This marriage resulted in the birth of Mandane the mother of Cyrus the Great. The eclipse of the Sun that stopped the war has never been satisfactorily identified, and is thought to be a mythical eclipse by some chronologists today. The nominally accepted date for this event is 585 B.C.E. but the time of this eclipse is too late in the day and too far west of central Turkey to be a possible candidate.

When Mandane was old enough to have children, Astyages "married her to a Persian of good family indeed, but of a quiet temper, whom he looked on as much inferior to a Mede of even middle condition." Astyages had married Mandane to Cambyses the son of Cyrus and soon after she gave birth to a son. Cyrus the Great was the son of this union between Cambyses and Mandane. Cyrus, on the maternal side had a legitimate claim to the throne of Lydia and Medea and Persia on his fathers side. Cyrus reigned for nine years as king of Babylon and at his death Herodotus ascribes a total reign of twenty-nine years,(Book 1:214). When Cyrus was bourn, Astyages had been warned in a dream that this child would obtain the kingdom and he plotted to have the infant Cyrus killed to remove a perceived threat to his kingship. When Cyrus was about ten years old he was discovered to be still alive and was sent back to his own parents house. This would make Cyrus at least forty years old when he died placing his birth around 439 B.C.E. If Mandane was bourn within twelve months of the alliance between Lydia and Media and Cyrus was bourn soon after Mandane was able to have children, then the eclipse that stopped the hostilities between Lydia and Media should be found around 454 B.C.E. fifteen years prior to the birth of Cyrus.

In 455 B.C.E. on the 31st May at 12:38pm the shadow of the eclipsed Sun is shown more or less centered just south of Cyprus and proceeded along the southern Turkish border until it reached the Caspian Sea at 1:28pm local time. If the date for the decree of Cyrus as mentioned in the Bible is 408 B.C.E. then this eclipse of the Sun, corrected for the gradual slowing down of the earth's rotation, a matter of about two hours difference from the model, would satisfy the description of the events surrounding the ending of the war as described by Herodotus, both in time and location.

Nebuchadnezzar Eclipse

The timing for the reign of Nebuchadnezzar in the Canon of Ptolemy is established with the support of a Seleucid copy of a contemporary Babylonian document known as vat4956, describing astronomical events surrounding an omitted eclipse of the moon. This support migrates from the traditional date of 568 B.C.E. to 438 B.C.E. when confronted with the discovery of a missed eclipse of the Moon that more closely agrees with the information derived from this tablet. All this coupled with a Biblical president for fixing the date for the decree of Cyrus to rebuild Jerusalem.

Counting backwards from 408 B.C.E. the reference to the thirty-seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar would occur around 438 B.C.E. if Ptolemy's canon is correct for the lengths of the reigns for the kings of the Babylonian period. On December the 31st of that year, exactly six days after the winter solstice using a sunrise calender a near eclipse of the moon occurred. Although the translation of the clay tablet known as vat4956 is incorrect, (some of the references require impossible motions and positions for the moon and planets, and will be addressed separately) enough information can be gleaned from the text to substantiate that this revised date is probably correct for this omitted eclipse and is in complete agreement with the predicted date for the decree of Cyrus.

Darius the Mede

Cyrus had reigned for nine years in Babylon when he died but his total reign as king of Persia was twenty-nine years making the start of his reign in Persia around 428 B.C.E. some twenty years before his decree to rebuild Jerusalem. As soon as he became king Cyrus untied the Persian tribes and brought the Medes in submission to him, placing a king of his own chousing on the Median throne. At this time he would have bean a young man of less than twenty years old, without a mature enough offspring to leave in charge of a subjugated nation, but at the time of the fall of Babylon, Darius a sixty-two year old man was on the Median throne. The question is who would have had the right to sit on the throne of the Median empire that Cyrus could trust and would reach the age of sixty-two at the fall of Babylon? This question has never been satisfactorily answered but the one candidate that could fulfill all of these requirements was a Median prince by marriage, Cambyses the father of Cyrus the Great.

If this Median king is Cambyses and is known to us through Daniel as Darius the Mede, he reigned in Babylon for one or two years and then just simply disappears. Or did he? If this is the same Cambyses that invaded Egypt and reigned there for eight years, and the same one that met his demise after accidently stabbing himself with his sword, then he died when he was about seventy years old, on his way home from the war with the Massagetai, shortly after the death of Cyrus.

Daniel in the Lions Den

At the fall of Babylon Darius the Mede was made king Dan 9:1 and "It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage. Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm."(Dan 6:1-3) This act caused a great deal of hatred for Daniel "Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault;"(Dan 6:4). The end result of their plotting saw Daniel thrown into the lions den. Daniel survived and as a result the presidents and princes that had plotted against him were thrown into the lions den in his place and were destroyed. It had been demonstrated to Darius that the God of Daniel was the only true God but the uproar that this act must have caused may be the reason for the disappearance of Darius from Babylon after the first year of his reign.

If this Darius is Cambyses, the son of Cassandane the wife of Cyrus then Herodotus tells the following story in Book III 3:-

"And the following story is also told, which for my part I do not believe, namely that one of the Persian women came in to the wives of Cyrus, and when she saw standing by the side of Cassandane children comely of form and tall, she was loud in her praises of them, expressing great admiration; and Cassandane, who was the wife of Cyrus, spoke as follows: "Nevertheless, though I am the mother of such children of these, Cyrus treats me with dishonor and holds in honour her whom he has brought in from Egypt." Thus she spoke, they say, being vexed by Nitetis, and upon that Cambyses the elder of her sons said: "For this cause, mother, when I am grown to be a man, I will make that which is above in Egypt to be below, and that which is below above." This he is reported to have said when he was perhaps about ten years old, and the women were astonished by it: and he, they say, kept it ever in mind, and so at last when he had become a man and had obtained the royal power, he made the expedition against Egypt."

If this story that Herodotus rejected is correct then it provides reasonably grounds for understanding the motivation that drove Cambyses to invade Egypt. One thing that is certain, after the lions den incident Cyrus would want to get Darius out of Babylon as soon as possible to prevent further uprisings against him. What better than to give him an army and send him off to enlarge the empire, the conquest of Egypt was the objective.

Cambyses created a diplomatic incident to give him an excuse to invade Egypt. He sent to the king of Egypt a request to have him send one of his favorite daughters to be his wife. This the king was not willing to do as he thought that Cambyses was the son of the Egyptian woman that Cassandane despised and that would have made them close cousins and therefore the union would have been incestuous. The Egyptian king sent another in her place hoping that the matter would not be discovered. When this substitute arrived and the deception was reviled, Cambyses had all the excuses he needed to invade Egypt and keep his youthful oath to his mother.

Cambyses marched on Egypt and reigned there for seven years. If this reign parallels the last seven years of Cyrus then Egypt capitulated in the third year of Cyrus reign. The third year of Cyrus was also the third year of the reign of Darius the Mede as king of Babylon. Darius disappeared from Babylon after his first year and if he was Cambyses the son of Cyrus, the father of Cyrus the Great then his disappearance can be explained by his invasion of Egypt.

Herodotus believed Cambyses to be mad because of his apparent irrational behaviour in Egypt. When the Egyptians made great celebrations over the arrival of an Apis Bull, Cambyses became jealous over the festivity and killed the god, showing that it was no God, only an animal. Cambyses was not mad, he had already been introduced to the true God through Daniel and the lions den, and was only showing a false religion up for what he believed that it was.

Herodotus also relates that Cambyses had been informed by the Oracle at the city of Buto, that in Agbatana he should bring his life to an end: and he supposed that he should die of old age in Agbatana in Media, where his chief seat of power was; but the oracle, it appeared, meant in Agbatana of Syria where Cambyses is said by Herodotus to have died. Why did Cambyses believe he would die of old age if he were yet young as would be the case if he were the son of Cyrus the Great? If he was old he could have been his father. If Cambyses main seat of power was in Media then he must have been a Median king, not the king of Persia. Was he really Cambyses the father of Cyrus the Great, otherwise known as Darius the Mede?

What was Cambyses doing in Syria and when was he there? Could he have been on his way back from the campaign against the Massagetai where Cyrus lost his life as stated by Herodotus? Before Cyrus crossed over the river Araxes to meet the Massagetai, Croesus the Lydian gave him good advice on how to take advantage of his enemy. Because of the loyalty of this deposed Lydian king, Cyrus delivered him to Cambyses as an escort to keep him safe on his return to Persian lands. On their way to Persian territory, news that the Babylonian throne had been usurped by an imposter reached them. Cambyses, jumping on his horse stabbed himself with his sword about the same place he had stabbed the Apis Bull. The wound became infected and he died about a month later in Agbatana of Syria.

Cyrus the night before he lost his life at the campaign against the Massagetai had a night vision. In the vision it was reveled to him that Darius the eldest son of Hystaspes was to take the kingdom. Cyrus believing that Darius was plotting to take the kingdom by force sent Hystaspes back to Persia to protect the throne and investigate his son. If, as Herodotus states, the divine powers were however showing Cyrus beforehand that he was destined to be killed in the following day's battle, then why did the kingdom go to Cambyses instead of Darius as the vision indicated? On the other hand, if the kingdom went to Darius then the eight years of Cambyses reign must have run concurrently with the reign of Cyrus.

Herodotus states "Now in the Hellenic tongue the names which have been mentioned have this meaning--Darius means "compeller," Xerxes "warrior,"Artaxerxes "great warrior." Thus then might the Hellenes rightly call these kings in their own tongue" (Herodotus Book 6:98). These names should be understood more by way of a title rather than a real name. If Cambyses is known as Darius the Mede in the Bible then his total reign as king may have been the thirty-six years attributed to Darius-I in Ptolemy's kings list, starting his reign seven years before Cyrus united the Persian tribes. If this is the same Darius of Ezra and the building of the Temple then the house of God was completed in only four to seven years and makes more sense of the chronology of Ezra and Nehemiah. If Cambyses seven years reign in Egypt was a co-regency with Cyrus then his reign cannot add to the total length of the Persian empire.

The Building of the Second Temple

Modern chronologies based on the historical model presented by Ptolemy are not necessarily supported by the ancient sources referred to by the chronologist in support of their own recreation of history. The first Persian king following the fall of Babylon was Cyrus the Great supposedly followed by Cambyses and Darius. Although all of these kings reigned over Babylon, a problem becomes apparent in the timing of the building of the Temple in Jerusalem. In the first year of the reign of Cyrus the Great over Babylon, he made a decree to allow the Jews to return to their own land and rebuild the city and the Temple (2Ch 36:22, Ezra 1:1, 5:13, 6:3). Ezra organized the Jews that wished to return and were back in Jerusalem and had setup the alter for the burnt offering by the first day of the seventh month and continued to offer burnt offerings daily (Ezra 3:1-6), "But the foundation of the temple of Jehovah was not laid." The foundation for the second temple was begun "in the second year of their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month"(Ezra 3:8). If the decree of Cyrus was given in the first year of his reign and the Jews were back in Jerusalem by the seventh month following, then the foundation for the temple was laid in the second month of the second year of Cyrus. But Ezra 4:23-24 states "Then as soon as the copy of the letter of Artaxerxes the king was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their associates, they hurried to Jerusalem to the Jews, and made them stop working by force and power. Then the work of the house of God in Jerusalem stopped. So it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia. Ezra 6:15 "And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king. According to this view the foundation for the temple was laid in the second year of Cyrus and completed in the fourth year of Darius, presumably Darius-II as a letter from Artaxerxes is mentioned, a period of 117 years. This would be far too long a period to expect even a biblical character at that time to live, so some scepticism about these dates must be exercised.

Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews - Book XI, chapter 4, declared:-

"(2) In the second year of their coming to Jerusalem, as the Jews were there in the second month, the building of the temple went on apace; and when they had laid its foundations on the first day of the second month of that second year..." "(7) Now the temple was built in seven years time. And in the ninth year of the reign of Darius, on the twenty-third day of the twelfth month, which is by us called Adar..."

If Josephus is correct in the temple only taking seven years to build, and it was in the building stage from the second to the ninth year of the reign of Darius then it took eight regional years to complete. However the building started in the second month of the second year and ended in the twelfth month of the ninth year, this would be counted in the months of the Jewish calendar not the regional years of the Persian kings and therefore only seven Jewish years Nisan to Adar. This is another reference that the Jews were still using a Nisan calendar after the return from Babylon and the Persians were using a different one.

In the first year of Cyrus the decree was given to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple (Ezra 1:1). In the seventh month of that year the Jews were gathered into Jerusalem and the altar was set up (Ezra 3:2), but the foundations for the Temple were not laid until the second year in the second month (Ezra 3:8). However in Ezra 6:15 it states "And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king," possibly only four years instead of the seven claimed by Josephus. It has been shown above that the first year of Cyrus was also the first year of Darius the Mede as king of Babylon, so if this reference to the completion of the building of the Temple in seven years by Josephus, or possibly only four as in Ezra is correct, then the building was completed within the reign of Cyrus, and the Darius mentioned must refer to Darius the Mede.

Darius Hystaspes

While Cyrus and Cambyses were campaigning against the Massagetai the Babylonian throne had been usurped by Smerdis of the Magian tribe, clamming to be the brother of Cambyses the king. Cambyses had been warned in a dream that Smerdis was plotting to take the throne. Thinking that it was his own brother of the same name that was plotting against him Cambyses had his brother killed secretly. As Cambyses lay dying, his death wish was that this imposter should be exposed and killed but the majority of the Persians with him thought he was delirious from the infection due to the wound he had incurred and Smerdis continued to reign for six month.

Darius the eldest son of Hystaspes, arriving in Babylon and discovering the deception, conspired with six others, they took maters into there own hands and by stealth entered the palace, killed Smerdis and finally he became king. Towards the end of his reign both Egypt and Greece rebelled.

Darius was preparing an invasion of Egypt and placed Xerxes on the throne as regent, "However in the next year after this and after the revolt of Egypt, it came to pass that Darius himself died (Book 7:4)." Darius or Ahasuerus as he is known from Scripture was the father of Xerxes, but the true length of his reign must be extrapolated from the start of Xerxes reign and the timing of the eclipse of the Sun when Xerxes started his invasion of Greece.

The first year of Cyrus as king of Babylon started in 409 B.C.E. and he reigned for nine years until 401 - 400 B.C.E., plus the six month of Smerdis requires Darius Hystaspes to start his reign in 400 or 399 B.C.E.. It will be shown below that Xerxes started to reign in 376 B.C.E. just before the death of Darius, therefore Darius must have reigned for about twenty-four years.

From Xerxes to Alexander the Great

Xerxes and Artaxerxes are thought by some to be the same king, evidence for this is said to be in the reliefs at Persepolis. Although the face of Xerxes has been obliterated, his relief has one hand longer than the other, the same characteristic as on an Artaxerxes reliefs. Josephus only records one Artaxerxes not two as in the Ptolemaic list. Could Artaxerxes-I and Artaxerxes-II be the one and the same king?

In the Ptolemaic list of kings a reign of 46 years is attributed to Artaxerxes-II and only 41 years to Artaxerxes-I, Darius-II coming to the throne in the 41st year of his father's reign. There is no king list of Persian origin to definitively settle the succession of the kings of Persia but there are numerous astronomical tablets that like a simple blood type test can eliminate an innocent suspect but only point to a possible perpetrator. These clay tablets record the insertion of intercalary months with the corresponding year of the kings reign. There are thirteen insertions of an intercalary month attributed to Artaxerxes-I and only 7 for Artaxerxes-II. Only one of these, an insertion of a Ululu-II in the 16th year of Artaxerxes-II contradicts the Addaru-II, sequence obtained for Artaxerxes-I.

  Regnal year     2-5-7-10-13-16-19-21-24-26-29-32-35-38-40
  Artaxerxes-I    A-A----A--A--A--A--A--A-----A--A--A--A--A
  Artaxerxes-II   A-A-A--A-----U--------A--A

The practice of inserting intercalary months was performed by observation when necessary but assigning individual tablets to their respective reigns was performed by using Ptolemies list of king and therefore his version of Persian history has created a bias. The surprising fact is that if all the tablets attributed to Artaxerxes were associated with the same king, the sequence would not change.

The insertion of seven intercalary months over a nineteen year period is required to keep the lunar year instep with the solar calendar. This requires the insertion of a month every two or three years. In a perfect arrangement this would be a recurring pattern of one insertion in every 3rd,3rd and 2nd year. This pattern projected over three consecutive nineteen year periods provides an almost perfect repartition cycle. The insertion of intercalary months attributed to Artaxerxes-I do not follow this pattern. The pattern of insertions of a month that follow from the second year his reigns is 3,2,3,3,3,3,2,3,2,3,3,3,3,2 years. As can be seen from examination the 16th year, the insertion of a Addaru-II may not have corrected the drift of the lunar year sufficiently, requiring the addition of a Ululu-II to correct the timing of their religious festivals. As can be clearly seen except for the sixteenth year the pattern of insertions is consistent with them both and all the tablets could be associated with one and the same king.

If these two Artaxerxes are one and the same king then Darius came to the throne in the forty-first year of Artaxerxes and reigned for five years until his defeat by Alexander the Great in 331 B.C.E.. If Xerxes and Artaxerxes are also the same king then an early morning eclipse of the Sun in the forth year of the reign of Artaxerxes, observable from the Sardis should pinpoint the time that Xerxes lead his army of two million men into Greece and establish a firm basis for this revised chronology.

Artaxerxes reigned for forty-one years and was followed by Darius. The last king of Persia was Darius, according to Ptolemy the son of Arses also known as Artaxerxes IV. Ptolemy gives the length of Darius reigned as four years, but he dose not use the antedating system for counting the reigns of kings. According to a diary associated with his reign, Darius reigned for five years. In the fifth year of his reign Jupiter is reported to be in Scorpio. In the same diary Alexander's entrance into Babylon is told, as this occurred in the fall of 331BC and Jupiter passed through Scorpio between BC. 332/12/1 and 331/11/1 therefore the start of the reign of Darius can be estimated between the fall of 336 and 335 B.C.E..

  B.C.E. years    336/5 - 335/4 - 334/3 - 333/2 - 332/1
  Regnal years      1   -   2   -   3   -   4   -   5

Darius was defeated by Alexander the Great in his fifth year, and an eclipse of the moon in the evening of September 20, 331 B.C.E. is reasonably attributed to this event. Allowing forty-one years for the reign of Artaxerxes plus the four years attributed to Darius places the earliest start of Artaxerxes reign around 376 B.C.E. The eclipse of the sun that occurred before Xerxes crossed the Bosporus must therefore be shortly after this date.

Eclipse of Xerxes

Xerxes began to reign and prepared for his invasion of Greece a few years later. After four years of preparation, including building two floating bridges across the Bosporus, the day he was setting out from Sardis the Sun was eclipsed. This eclipse has never been identified and is thought to be a device used by Herodotus to give more emphasis to his narrative. If Xerxes and Artaxerxes are the same king, the discovery of a suitable eclipse in the fourth year of the reign of Artaxerxes would provide strong support for this argument, at the same time eliminating all but the four Persian kings numbered by Daniel. On June 23rd 373 B.C.E. at 4:58am an eclipsed sun could be observed from Sardis. If Xerxes-Artaxerxes began to reign in 376 B.C.E. then this eclipse occurred in the fourth year of his reign. Artaxerxes-I reigned for forty-one years making the last year of his reign 336/5 BC in complete agreement with the first year of Darius above.

According to a reconstruction of the timing of his campaign into Greece, Xerxes reached Therma at the beginning of August. The eclipse of the sun on June 23rd would give Xerxes about five to six weeks to move his army from Sardis to Therma and is consistent with the accepted chronology of the invasion.

Having fixed the last year of the reign of Cyrus as 401 to 400 B.C.E. using astronomical data and the start of Xerxes-Artaxerxes reign as around 376 B.C.E. in a similar manner, this allows only twenty-four years for the sole reign of Darius-Ahasuerus. Herodotus reports that Darius made Xerxes crowned prince when he was planning a campaign against Egypt close to the end of his reign, but Darius died before preparations were completed. According to Ptolemy, the father of Xerxes was Darius-I with a reign of thirty-six years and the father of Artaxerxes Darius-II with a reign of 19 years. If Xerxes and Artaxerxes are the same king then there can only be one father, and this being Darius-II with a reign of about twenty-four years. The thirty-six years associated with the reign of Darius-I should probably by attributed to Cambyses, known as Darius the Mead as this would make his reign seven years longer than that of his son Cyrus. Darius-II would be the Ahasuerus of Ezra in the Scripture and the nineteen years associated with his reign of would be a little short of the twenty-four years required in this reconstruction but close to the time that this king reigned between the death of Smerdis and the advancement of Xerxes to crowned prince.


So far it has been shown that by taking the references in the Bible to establish the date for the decree of Cyrus and working from that point, demonstrate that without any manipulation of the data given in historical documents predating Ptolemy, dates for the eclipse of the Sun at the end of the war between Lydia and Media and the eclipse of the Moon in the thirty-seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar can be established. Recognizing that Xerxes and Artaxerxes are the same king and placing the defeat of the Persian empire in the reign of Darius his successor locates another mythical eclipse when Xerxes spanned the Bosporus. With this information the beginning and ending of the Persian empire can be firmly established. Allowing nine years for Cyrus, twenty-four for Ahasuerus-Darius, forty-one for Xerxes-Artaxerxes and four years for Darius, a total of approximately seventy-eight years leaves little or no time for the reigns of the other kings of Persia mentioned in Ptolemy's canon. It must therefore be concluded on the astronomical evidence alone that the information in the Bible is correct and the account in Ptolemy's canon for the Persian period is inaccurate.

The history of the Greeks from Alexander the Great through the Roman era until Christ is well enough documented by others and can be taken as reasonably accurate for the purposes of establishing this chronology. The only caveat is the timing of the birth and crucifixion of Christ established in the section dealing with that subject, in 7 B.C.E. and 27 A.D. respectively.

After carful reflection of all the chronological evidence given in this thesis, the only solution that can reasonably be concluded is that the crucifixion of Christ occurred at the end of four thousand years from the creation of Adam and therefore the six thousand years will not be complete until 2027 A.D.

Astronomical Observations

All the astronomical references to historical eclipses given below are taken from Voyager 1.1, a program first produced in 1985. There are more modern versions of planetarium programs available but they now employ a correction table to manipulate the position of historical eclipses to where and when current consensus chronology places them instead of keeping to a strictly mathematical model. Although a correction to compensate for the slowing down of the Earth's rotation due to tidal friction caused by the Moon is necessary, using a table to modify the lactation of historical eclipses not only supports a possibly erroneous chronology but also impedes serious investigation into other possibilities.

In relation to an atomic clock set to agree with the true rotation of the Earth at some time in 1902, by the end of a hundred years, in 2002 a DeltaT correction of +64.3 seconds must be taken into consideration to orient the Earth correctly with the stars. The main problem is, as the Earth slows down noon local time at Greenwich would occur later each year than noon on the clock, and an eclipse would drift further away from the datum point. The problem with the data published for DeltaT is that their values decrease until 1893 and then for no apparent reason reverse this trend and by 1638 the Delta-T had reached +65 seconds. This means the Earth was rotating at the same speed in 1638 as it is today unless there is something wrong with the data. Either the astronomical community must maintain a strictly mathematical model of the universe and allow the historians to explain why their data dose not fit the model or explain in simple terms why this data indicates that the Earth was speeding up in the past and then reverses this trend around 1893.

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