The Missing 165 Years – Discrepancy Between Jewish and Secular Calendars

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  • #603057

    Csar
    Member

    How did the secular historians make a 165 year error in dating the destruction of the First Beis Hamikdash? There were 490 years between the destruction of the First (423 BCE) and the Second (70 CE or 68 CE, depending how you count) Beis Hamikdash. Yet the secular historians date the destruction of the First Beis Hamikdash to 586 BCE.

    #1014153

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    This is a famous question. There is no really good answer.

    Some think that chazal at some point messed up the years so that we wouldn’t really know when we were hitting 6000.

    #1014154

    Sam2
    Participant

    If I’m not mistaken, they say that Bayis Sheni lasted 165 years longer than we say it did.

    #1014155

    Csar
    Member

    Who are those “some” that think Chazal messed up the years? Talmidei Chachomim or secular historians?

    Where is this famous question discussed in Rabbinic literature?

    Why not assume the error on the part of the secular historians? Why assume the error to Chazal?

    And what is the relevancy of the year 6000?

    #1014156

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    Who are those “some” that think Chazal messed up the years? Talmidei Chachomim or secular historians?

    Notice how you changed my connotation from being on purpose to being an error. Why did you do that?

    Where is this famous question discussed in Rabbinic literature?

    I don’t know.

    Why not assume the error on the part of the secular historians? Why assume the error to Chazal?

    Who said anything about an error?

    And what is the relevancy of the year 6000?

    Someone else will explain this to you.

    #1014157

    shmoel
    Member

    This whole thread is not a kasha at all, unless you give any credence to historians versus Chazal. Why would you do that?

    #1014158

    HaKatan
    Participant

    Csar, I never heard that reason PBA mentioned, but I could see this as a possibility. The 6,000 is equivalent to the Sheshes Yimei Bireishis, the 6 days of creation.

    There are opinions that hold that Moshiach must have arrived by Year 6,000 from Creation. So if we had a precise calendar of the years, it might prevent one from yearning for the redemption since it would be known by when the redemption must be.

    I have my questions about this reason he mentioned, but I do not with to discuss them.

    #1014159

    Kozov
    Member

    HaKatan- Where are these opinions?

    If Moshiach has to come by year 6000, why would it prevent someone from yearning the redemption when Moshiach can come before 6000?

    #1014160

    yitayningwut
    Participant

    Year six-thousand is when the world supposedly will come to an end. But it isn’t reliable.

    #1014161

    HaKatan
    Participant

    From Ohr Samayach (ohr.edu):

    As far as the year 6000 is concerned, it is simply an upper limit — i.e., by the year 6000 the Mashiach will already be here. But that’s not to say that it can’t happen sooner.

    In these matters, says the Rambam, no one knows exactly what will happen until it happens. The Rambam cautions against being preoccupied with Midrashim about Mashiach, since ultimately such things add nothing to one’s love and awe of Hashem.

    Sources:

    Rambam Hilchot Melachim 11:1,4 12:2

    #1014162

    Csar
    Member

    pba: An error can be an intentional error (as you suggested) or an unintentional error. Nevertheless, it would be descrbed as an error either way. You suggested it was an error (“messed up”) and possibly intentional. I did not change your connotations as to whether it was intentional (“on purpose”) or not.

    Sorry for the misunderstanding.

    #1014163

    shmoel
    Member

    Don’t forget that a two-year discrepancy in dates is due to whether you start counting the years from year 0 or 1.

    This makes a difference as to whether the Churbon of the 2nd Beis Hamikdash occurred in the year 68, 69 or 70 in the common era.

    #1014164

    CJL
    Member

    I believe that something like the reason PBA refers to is suggested by Rav Schwab z”l, although I did not see it myself.

    #1014165

    midwesterner
    Participant

    Rav Shimon Schwab zt’l has an essay printed in one of the “Selected” books, I think it was Selected Speeches. (It’s the last essay in the book.) It was originally printed in 1962. He introduces (as a third option to answer the contradictions between goyishe history and Talmudic history) the possibility that Chazal intentionally hid the 165 years. In that essay, he seems to lean towards actually holding that way as well.

    When it was reprinted in the Selected book in about 1990 he adds a post script that he has thought about it long and hard for decades since the original publication, and he has decided that he believes be’emuna sheleima in the counting of Chazal where they state that Bayis Sheni stood for 420 years. He trusts that just as goyishe historians have revised their theories about numerous other topics, surely they will here as well, and the version of Chazal will ultimately be proven correct.

    #1014166

    akuperma
    Participant

    Chronology over that sort of time period is always subjective. That’s why there are disputes even within hazal, and all the more so with the goyim involved. Even in our lifetimes one sees how problems developed (ask an American how long World War II was, and see if you get the same answer as a European, or an East Asia).

    #1014168

    rabbiofberlin
    Participant

    This puzzle has been around for many years. Some years ago, Tradition had a thorough analysis of this question but the answers were still not satisfactory. Rav Shimon Schwab z’tl once wrote an article on this (I think it it was in the sefer hajovel for Rabbi Breuer z’tl) and he maintained that the Chazal intentionally “fudged” the years of bayis sheni ,so that the “choshvei haketz’ (people who tried to guess the arrival of Moshiach ,based on various calculations-as per sefer doniel- or remozim in the torah- “bezos jovo aharon”) would not be able to accurately know the dates.

    First and foremost was the reason that if you knew the exact date of Moshiach’s arrival (“Be-ito”) then you would give up hope for an early arrival and this, we are prohibited to do (ani maamin…).the other reason was-as one poster alluded to-that, in this way, we did not know exactly when the “six thousand years’ of existence for the world (see perek chelek)finished.

    This was the gist of Rav Schwab’s article. For the record, it is not easy to dismiss the actual historical facts of the secular historians, who have plenty of evidence- archeological and historical- that the churban bayis horishim was on 586 BCE.

    #1014169

    Csar
    Member

    I think another reason Rav Schwab withdrew his original suggestion was because, if so, it meant that our count of shmitta and yoivel would be wrong if we accept the secular historians count.

    #1014170

    mms601
    Participant

    Rabbi Schwab retract that approach, and stated it was merrily a thought experiment.

    #1014171

    MDG
    Participant

    Chazal’s timeline works out perfectly:

    Avraham was born in 1948 and had Yitschak in 2048.

    There were 400 years until freedom from Egypt (2448) and another 480 until the first Beit Hamikdash was built in 2928.

    We are in 5772 and the 2nd Temple was destroyed in (about) 69 AZ, which was 1943 years ago, so the 2nd Temple was destroyed in the year 3829.

    The first Temple stood for 410 years and the second for 420 (see first perek of B”B) and there was 70 years of exile in between. That’s a total of 900 from the beginning of the first to the end of the second.

    Start with the beginning of the first, in 2928, and add 900, you get 3828 – which everyone agrees to as the end of the second Temple (give or take one year – but one out of 5772 is close enough).

    #1014172

    Sam2
    Participant

    Csar: Not necessarily. Everyone agrees you can be off by a year or two. Our Shmittah count comes from the Rambam who had a Mesorah from the Geonim. The fact that our Shmittah years are divisible by 7 is irrelevant.

    #1014173

    midwesterner
    Participant

    MDG: If bayis sheni was destroyed in about 69 CE then it was built around 351 BCE. Then Bayis rishon was destroyed in around 421 BCE. The problem with that is that there is voluminous historical data that Nevuchadnetzar actually destroyed Bayis Rishon somehere around 586 BCE. Hence 165 missing years. Rav Schwab’s thesis includes a machshava that Bayis sheni was built with yerios on a somewhat scaled down level at which it functioned for some 165 years until it was formally dedicated. The 420 years of Bayis sheni begin at that point. He was subsequently chozer from it, as I and other commenters above have mentioned.

    Did you know that for 1500 years, during most of Bayis Sheni and for 1000 years afterward, Klal Yisroel paid no attention to calculating brias haolom in any meaningful way? There was a cheshbon called Minyan Shtaros that was used in virtually all correspondence, on all kesubos and gittin, shtarei mechira and shtarei chov.

    When Klal Yisroel migrated from Bavel and Africa to Europe around the tekufa of Rabbeinu Gershom Meor Hagolah, an effort was made to reinstate the counting from Brias Haolam. They started pretty much like you did. Leidas Yitzchok in 2048, as can easily be calculated by pesukim in Breishis. 400 years al pi Chazal to Yetzias Mitzrayim makes 2448. Posuk in Melachim (haftarah first day of Sukkos) says 480 years after yetzias Mitzraim Shlomo dedicated the Bais Hamikdash, 2928. Gemaros tell us 410, 70, and 420, which makes 3828 for churban bayis sheni. And they had tracked since then.

    No one ever counted continuously. It was only reconstructed after 1500 years of neglect. Not such a peleh that someone might’ve missed a step. See Rav Schwab who has inferences from pesukim and chzal why Hashgacha may have caused this to happen, and why Hashgacha allowed it to be discovered many many centuries later. You might even be able to Google it. Comperative Jewish Chronology or something like that.

    This article was written originally by one of the gedolei rabbanim in America. Not some YCT type skeptic. It’s arguments are very compelling. Yes, he was chozer. That is also part of his gadlus. K’sheim shekibel schar al hadrisha kach kibel schar al haprisha. Not Emes according to Rav Schwab. But to dismiss it as a shtus when you don’t know what it’s talking about smells of ignorance.

    #1014174

    midwesterner
    Participant

    One more thing: Probably not proper to use AD to describe the goyishe calendar. It is roshei teivos for a phrase that includes recognition of some human as a deity. BCE for before common era and CE for common era is probably more appropriate. It jsut recognizes an accepted cheshbon without accepting any individual’s influence on its creation.

    Unless it wasn’t a typo, and you were somehow involving the famous NASI apologist, though I can’t figure out why. 🙂

    #1014175

    rabbiofberlin
    Participant

    MDG- you are working backwards. If there is indeed a discrepancy of 165 years, then all of the dates you mention are pushed back 165 years. the problem is not the dates that you mention, but the archeological and historical evidence that the churban bais rishon was much earlier than the dates you mention. You have the luxury to dismiss the historians’ claim but many people feel uncomfortable being blind to solid evidence. BTW- it is not exactly one of the “ani maamin’s to accept blindly the calculations and dates that you mention.

    #1014176

    MDG
    Participant

    I used AZ an is in Avodah Zarah, which their “calendar” is based on (see A”Z 8a).

    #1014177

    midwesterner
    Participant

    AZ. Cute!! Like it!

    #1014178

    bp27
    Participant

    midwesterner – The Rambam is Hilchos Kiddush Hachodesh explains how the calculation of the molad is calculated from Brias Haolam (this is one of the reasons why Rav Schwab ZT”L was chozer, because according to his calculation the cheshbon of the molad wouldn’t fit).

    It does indeed appear from the Rambam’s method of calculation that there was a continuous use of the years since Brias HaOlam, regardless if this count was used in every day use (where minyan shtaros was used).

    #1014179

    dying of boredom
    Participant

    I don’t know much on the topic, although I do know that no one really knows where those 165 years are. But I can’t imagine that they stopped counting from Brias Haolam at any point, as too many things depend on it – as mentioned above, in adition to Birchas HaChama which is a 28 year cycle starting at Brias Haolom….

    #1014180

    rabbiofberlin
    Participant

    bp27- why wouldn’t the moled be accurate? it deals with the moon cycles-those don’t change year by year….

    #1014181

    derszoger
    Member

    yitayningwut: “Year six-thousand is when the world supposedly will come to an end. But it isn’t reliable.”

    Who brings down that it will it supposedly come to an end then? And what makes you feel that source is unreliable? I’ve heard 6000 is when Moshiach must come by. Year 7000 is when the world must end.

    #1014182

    frumnotyeshivish
    Participant

    Doesn’t the Ramchal (perhaps in Derech Hashem – I don’t remember exactly offhand) discuss 6,000 etc.?

    I thought I saw there that Mashiach will come by then. Is this not reliable, or are there others?

    #1014183

    frumnotyeshivish
    Participant

    Wikipedia – “Jewish eschatology”

    The Midrash comments:

    “Six eons for going in and coming out, for war and peace. The seventh eon is entirely Shabbat and rest for life everlasting”.

    The Zohar explains:

    [which has the numerical value of six]

    Elaborating on this theme are numerous early and late Jewish scholars, including the Ramban, Isaac Abrabanel, Abraham Ibn Ezra, Rabbeinu Bachya, the Vilna Gaon, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Ramchal, Aryeh Kaplan, and Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis.

    #1014184

    mermaid
    Member

    What will happen after the world ends?

    #1014185

    MDG
    Participant

    from rabbiofberlin:

    ” but the archeological and historical evidence that the churban bais rishon was much earlier than the dates you mention.”

    I have not heard of any real archeological findings that prove 586 BCE. If you find any, please show me (the web site). AFAIK, the date of 586 BCE came from Josephus, and everyone seems to accept it at face value.

    “You have the luxury to dismiss the historians’ claim but many people feel uncomfortable being blind to solid evidence.”

    According to wikipedia (Solomon’s Temple),

    Because of the religious sensitivities involved, and the politically volatile situation in East Jerusalem, only limited archaeological surveys of the Temple Mount have been conducted. Since no excavations have been allowed on the Temple Mount during modern times, there is no direct archaeological evidence for the existence of Solomon’s Temple….

    “BTW- it is not exactly one of the “ani maamin’s to accept blindly the calculations and dates that you mention. “

    Many of those calculations come from the Torah, the Neviim, and our mesorah. Maybe some of it is up to debate.

    #1014186

    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    The extra dates are because of records of different kings of Persia. They have more than we do. The Abravanel explains that there were more kings there but not necessarily were they kings of the trans-Persia.

    #1014187

    yitayningwut
    Participant

    derszoger –

    The Gemara in Avodah Zarah 9a says the world will last 6000 years. It is unreliable for two reasons: 1) It is technically unreliable because there are other dates recorded in the same context that didn’t work out exactly the way they were predicted. 2) We generally cannot take any of these kind of Aggados literally, or even guess what they mean until after they happen, especially ones which deal with mashiach and end-of-the-world scenarios. This is a concept made very clear by many of the meforshim (Rambam, Ramban, et al).

    #1014188

    rabbiofberlin
    Participant

    MDG-= thanks for your considerate reply. see HaLeivi’s comments. According to the historical documents of the Persian empire (and greek), there were a slew of Persian kings between the churban and the Second Temple, a fact that would be difficult to square with “only” 70 years of galut bavel. I will try to find the copy of Tradition where this matter is discussed and quote from it.

    I have not heard that we get thev 586 date from Josephus. I doubt that.

    As far as your assertion of the dates coming from Torah and neviim-I think that -if you count the years of “malchus jehuda’ until the churban bayis rishon- you will find that it does not reach till 420 either.

    The whole question depends upon the length of golus bavel- we are accustomed to say it is seventy years but this has no real source in the Tenach.

    #1014191

    derszoger
    Member

    I believe the historians base their timeline on historical records they’ve compiled, not on archeology.

    #1014192

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Chazal were not as interested in dates in History as Historians were.

    The Torah is known to write things out of order (Like Avraham dying before Yaakov was born) and Stories in the Gemorah also are chronologically incorrect Like the Story of the 10 martyrs. Rabbi Yishmoel was a Cohen Gadol in the Beis Hamingdosh and Rabbi Akiva participated in the Bar Kochba Rebellion, they didnt live in the same generation.

    #1014193

    HolyMoe
    Participant

    to rabbiofberlin:

    See Ezra 3:12 that talks about MANY Kohanim, Leviim, and elderly family-heads crying because they remembered the first Bais HaMikdosh and compared it to the just-built second Bais HaMikdosh.

    So I must disagree with your statement about Galus Bavel being much more than 70 years.

    #1014194

    rabbiofberlin
    Participant

    holyMoe- thanks for the quote. I did see it and I will research the commentators on it.BTW- the possuk talks about “zekeinim”-old people.

    May I also add another indication of longevity comes from Shimon Hazzzadik- that the perek says “hojo mei-anshei knesset hagedolah” and yet he is, according to the Gemara, the one who welcomed Alexander to Jerushalaim. Alexander the Great came to Jerusalem in appx 340 BCE- so Shimmon Hazzadik was, according to the chazal, over 150 years old ! (80 plus 70 plus…)

    I am not sure we can extrapolate from one possuk but thank you for the quote from Ezra.

    #1014195

    midwesterner
    Participant

    Not sure where that last ROB count comes from. Shimon Hatzadik haya mishiyarei Anshei Kneses Hagedola. The Anshei Kneses Hagedola was led by Ezra in Bayis Sheni, which was constructed, according to Chazal, in 350 BCE. Not sure why he would have to be 150 years old.

    #1014196

    derszoger
    Member

    So if we have an offene pasuk that says some people were alive during both Beis Hamikdash’s, when else can the discrepancy be placed at?

    #1014197

    MDG
    Participant

    “As far as your assertion of the dates coming from Torah and neviim-I think that -if you count the years of “malchus jehuda’ until the churban bayis rishon- you will find that it does not reach till 420 either.”

    See this link that does the math and biblical citations:

    http://www.dafyomi.co.il/kerisus/jewishkings.pdf

    Mods, please let this through. You can see that it’s from a Torah teaching web site.

    #1014198

    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    Why do you think being from Anshei K’neses Hagedola means that he was around by the first Bayis.

    As to Chazal being interested in dates, it is one thing to say that where they left it out, but quiet another to dismiss whole Sugyos discussing it in detail.

    Keep in mind that clues can only hint, they aren’t hard fact. Chazal give us dates straight out. We can try to reconcile what we find, but it’s actually silly to dismiss the words of Chazal because of clues and pointers.

    #1014199

    MDG
    Participant

    At the end of Divrai Hayamim (36:21), it talks about the exile of 70 years for neglecting Shita:

    ?????????? ??????-?’ ?????? ??????????? ???-??????? ??????? ???-?????????????? ????-????? ?????????? ???????? ?????????? ????????? ??????

    #1014200

    midwesterner
    Participant

    Derzoger: Please read fropm the top. Rav Shimon Schwab zt’l suggested that the dedication of Bayis Sheni was held in 2 stages, 165 years apart. So Bayis Sheni would have stood for a total of 585; 165 in a scaled down format, and 420, which is mentioned in the gemara, when is was fully rebuilt.

    #1014201

    rabbiofberlin
    Participant

    MDG- thanks for the link. By the way- there is a discrepancy in those tables if you count the years of the individual kings- you get to 383-if you extrapolate the dates -it is 374- Maybe you can make some sense in this.

    If you add the 40 years of shlomo’s reign and the 480 years before that- it would make either 903 or 894 years from jetzias mitzrayim to the churban bais rishon. The regular count we have is from seder olam rabbah (2nd century) and it would place jetzyias mitzrayim at about 1300 BCE. (2448 mybrias haolam). An earlier poster said that 586 came from josephus- this may be because josephus puts jetzyias mitzraim at a much earlier date (appx 1500 BCE),.Hence, it is possible that 586 did find its first proponent in josephus. well, now we can all go back and do soem more research.

    #1014202

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Alexander the great ruled from 336-326 BCE

    Vespasian was roman Emperor from 69-79 CE

    We know that Alexander visited the Bais Hamigdosh and Vespasian destroyed it right when he became Emperor.

    Those dates alone are 410 years.

    #1014203

    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    I actually like the Abravanel’s explanation very much. We are talking about a time of which we understand very little. In Gemara, we find references to different Kaisers that turn out to be local representatives of the emperor.

    #1014204

    derszoger
    Member

    Kaiser as in Ceaser? How do you know they were only local representatives?

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