A TIMELINE OF THE BIBLE
By Tim Lambert
A TIMELINE OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
(Dates for the early part of the Bible are traditional but not everybody agrees with them)
(?) The Creation
The Bible does not say when God created the world. However his greatest creation is man. Human beings are made in the image of God. Unlike animals they can reason and think - and they can also choose to obey or disobey God.
(?)The Fall of Man
Human beings disobeyed God and as result their relationship with God was broken.
People became evil and God decided to destroy them. However God warned Noah and his family he intended to send a great flood. Noah faithfully built an ark and he and his family and samples of each kind of animal survived.
(?)The Tower of Babel
People attempted to build a huge tower. Their pride offended God and he caused them to speak different languages bringing the work to a halt and making them scatter.
The Bible does not say exactly when Job lived but it was probably at the time of the Patriarchs. He lived in Uz east of the River Jordan
2,166 BC Abraham was born
Abraham was born in the great city of Ur in what is now southern Iraq. Ur was a city-state and it was part of an ancient culture called the Sumerian. Hundreds of years before Abraham was born the Sumerians had become highly civilized.
However Abraham and his father Terah and his wife Sarai (Sarah) moved to the city of Haran in northern Iraq. Haran was a center of trade and it was a rich and flourishing city.
After Terah's death God told Abraham to leave his homeland (modern day Iraq) and go to Canaan (modern day Israel). Abraham faithfully obeyed.
Going to live in Canaan was a big sacrifice for Abraham. Life in Sumerian cities was comfortable for the well off. They lived in large houses of several rooms arranged around a courtyard. They even had bathrooms.
Abraham gave up his life in a sophisticated city and became a nomad living in a tent made of goat’s hair (It must have been like the difference between staying in a hotel and camping!). Compared to the Sumerians the Canaanites were primitive and their lives were hard and rough. In Canaan Abraham and his descendants raised herds of animals.
2066 BC Abraham and Sarah had a son called Isaac
Both Abraham and Sarah were very old and having a son was a great blessing. His name Isaac means 'he laughs'. When he grew up Isaac married Rebekah.
2006 BC Jacob and his brother Esau were born to Isaac and Rebekah
When they grew up Jacob, with help from his mother, disguised himself as Esau and tricked his father Isaac into blessing him. At that time people believed that if a father blessed his son that son would become the leader of the family after his father's death. Furthermore he would inherit a double portion of his father's property. They also believed that once a blessing was given it could not be withdrawn. A blessing was legally binding.
Fearing his brother would take revenge Jacob fled to his mother's brother Laban. He worked for Laban for 21 years. Finally Jacob returned to Canaan with his two wives and his livestock and was reconciled with his brother.
1915 BC Joseph was born
1898 BC Joseph was sold into slavery
Jacob had 12 sons but Joseph was his favorite. Their father's favoritism made the other brothers jealous. One day they sold Joseph as a slave and told their father Jacob that Joseph was dead. Joseph was taken to Egypt and sold to a man named Potiphar.
After being falsely accused by Potiphar's wife Joseph was sent to prison. However God enabled Joseph to interpret dreams. He interpreted those of a butler and a baker. The butler was later released.
Later still Pharaoh had a dream, which no one could interpret. The butler remembered Joseph and suggested he might be able to help. Joseph was summoned and God enabled him to interpret the dream. It foretold seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine.
At that time Egypt was one of the richest and most advanced societies on earth. However farming in Egypt depended on the Nile. Each spring the Nile flooded and deposited a layer of silt over the farmland. If the flood was large the harvest would be good. However if the Nile failed to flood famine would occur. Joseph suggested stockpiling food during the good years and rationing it during the famine years. Pharaoh then made him Vizier, or second in command.
1876 BC Joseph's father and brothers settled in Egypt
Joseph was eventually reconciled with his brothers and the Pharaoh welcomed his family to come and live in Egypt
C. 1600 BC The Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians
In time the Israelites grew in number and Egyptians were afraid of so many foreigners living among them. They felt that the Israelites were a threat to their internal security so they enslaved them. Pharaoh also ordered the midwives to kill all male children but they disobeyed.
1526 BC Moses was born
An Israelite woman named Jochebed gave birth to a boy and she hid him in a basket on the Nile, among the reeds. Pharaoh’s daughter found the child and adopted him. However when he grew up Moses killed an Egyptian and was forced to flee from Egypt.
In the Rest of the World
C. 2,000 BC The inhabitants of France and Britain learned to use bronze tools and weapons (rather than stone)
C. 2,000 BC The Minoan civilization arose on the island of Crete.
C. 1600 BC Civilization spread to mainland Greece
C. 1,500 BC The Chinese invented a form of writing using thousands of characters
1446 BC The Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt
God appeared to Moses in a burning bush. He told Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt.
Moses and his brother Aaron told Pharaoh God commanded him to let the Israelites go but Pharaoh repeatedly refused so God sent plagues on Egypt.
Pharaoh eventually agreed to let the Israelites go but he soon changed his mind and chased them with his army. However God caused the Red Sea to part, letting the Israelites through. Yet when the Egyptians attempted to follow the waters flowed back into place and they were drowned.
The Israelites then marched through Sinai. When they did so God gave them laws to live by including the 10 commandments.
1444 BC Spies were sent into Canaan
God told Moses to send spies to explore Canaan. Two of them, Joshua and Caleb were convinced they could capture the land. However 10 spies reported that the Canaanites were much too strong to be conquered. The people did not believe that with God on their side they could do it. Instead they rebelled and refused to invade Canaan.
Angry at their lack of faith God declared that nobody over the age of 20 would enter the promised land (except Joshua and Caleb). As a result of their disobedience the Israelites spent 40 years wandering in the desert before they entered Canaan.
1406 BC Moses died and Joshua took over
Finally the Israelites invaded Canaan. At that time Canaan was divided into city-states. Each little country had a fortified city as its center.
The Israelites invaded Canaan from the east across the River Jordan. God caused the River Jordan to dry up to allow the Israelites to pass. They then destroyed the city of Ai.
However the people of Gibeon tricked the Israelites into making a treaty with them. The kings of five cities then attacked the Gibeonites, angry that they had made peace with the invaders. The Gibeonites appealed to Joshua for help so the Israelites fought and defeated the five kings near Gibeon. Afterwards they conquered most of the southern cities of Canaan.
The Israelites then turned north and defeated the northern cities. Joshua then divided up the conquered land between the 12 tribes of Israel.
However not all of Canaan was conquered. The Canaanites still held some areas, including Jerusalem. The remaining Canaanites were a subtle snare to the Israelites. They often led them astray, influencing them to worship idols instead of the true God.
During the period of the judges Israel went in a cycle. Again and again the people drifted away from God and worshiped idols. So God allowed their enemies to defeat them. However when they cried out to God he raised up a judge to lead them and defeat their enemies. Yet each time a judge died they went back to their old ways.
The Bible states that Ruth lived during the time of the Judges but it doesn't say exactly when. Ruth means something worth seeing.
1367-1327 Othniel rules as judge
After Joshua's death the Israelites started worshiping idols. So God allowed the Aramites (a people from southern Syria) to oppress them. However when the Israelites cried out to God he raised up Othniel to lead them. The Israelites overpowered the Aramites and Othniel ruled for 40 years. His name Othniel means lion of God.
1316-1236 Ehud saved the Israelites from the Moabites, the Ammonites and the Amalekites. Afterwards Israel had peace for 80 years.
1209 Deborah defeated the Canaanites
The Israelites went back to worshiping idols and doing evil so God allowed Jabin the king of Hazor (a Canaanite city in the north of what is now Israel) to oppress them. However a judge named Deborah led the Israelites and they crushed the Canaanites in battle.
1162 Gideon defeated the Midianites
Once again the Israelites returned to their sinful way so God allowed the Midianites to oppress them. (The Midianites came from Arabia and they rode camels). Once again the Israelites cried out to God and he raised up Gideon.
Gideon raised an army but God said there were too many of them. God wanted to make it clear it was him who defeated the Midianites. It was not due to the skill or courage of the Israelites. So God cut down Gideon's army until there were only 300 men left.
They carried trumpets and jars with torches inside. At night they crept up to the Midianite camp. They blew their trumpets and smashed their jars and showed their torches. Panic-stricken the Midianites began fighting each other. They then fled and an army of Israelites pursued them.
C. 1105 The prophet Samuel was born
During his lifetimes the Israelites fought the Philistines. They were originally from Crete and they invaded Canaan from the sea. The Philistines lived in Southwest Canaan and they fought the Israelites as both peoples tried to dominate the region.
The Philistines won a great battle and they captured the Ark of the Covenant. However God sent an epidemic to punish them so the Philistines sent the ark back.
Some years later the Israelites returned to God and put away their idols. As a result they crushed the Philistines at the battle of Mezpah.
C. 1078-1072 Jephthah the judge defeated the Ammonites
In the Rest of the World
C. 1250 BC In England Stonehenge was built in stages over a thousand years. It was completed at this time.
C. 1200 BC The Greeks fought the Trojans
C. 1200 BC A people called the Olmecs created a civilization in Mexico. It was the first civilization in the Western Hemisphere.
THE UNITED KINGDOM
1050 Saul became king
Until then the Israelites were divided into twelve tribes. However the people demanded a king to rule over them. So Samuel anointed Saul as the first king of Israel. Saul first defeated the Ammonites (a people who lived Northeast of the Dead Sea). He also fought a series of wars against the Philistines.
However Saul disobeyed God. Through Samuel God told him to destroy the Amalekites. God told him to kill them all and to kill all their cattle, sheep, camels and donkeys. Yet Saul spared the life of Agag, king of the Amalekites and he kept the best of the animals alive.
So Samuel told Saul that God had rejected him. Samuel then anointed a shepherd boy called David king of Israel. (Nevertheless Saul continued to reign as king for the rest of his life).
David killed Goliath the Philistine champion and he became a hero. Saul grew very jealous of David and tried to kill him so David was forced to flee.
1010 Saul and his son Jonathan were killed in a battle with the Philistines
1010-1003 David was king of Judah
After Saul's death David was accepted as king by the tribe of Judah but at first he was not accepted by the rest of Israel
1003 David became king of all Israel
Eventually all the tribes accepted David as king. Furthermore David captured Jerusalem from a people called the Jebusites.
In a series of wars David also defeated the Philistines and the Moabites (people who lived east of the Dead Sea). He also defeated the Amorites from southern Syria and the Ammonites from Northeast of the Dead Sea. David also conquered the Edomites, who lived South of the Dead Sea. By the time David died in 970 Israel was a strong and secure kingdom.
970-930 Solomon was king of Israel
During Solomon's reign Israel became a rich country. Solomon built a great palace for himself. He also built a magnificent temple in Jerusalem. However Solomon also alienated the people by imposing heavy taxes and using forced labour.
THE DIVIDED KINGDOM
930 Solomon died and Rehoboam became king
The Israelites appealed to Rehoboam to reduce the burdens his father laid on them but he refused. As a result the kingdom split. Judah and Benjamin formed the kingdom of Judah in the south with Jerusalem as its capital. Rehoboam continued to rule in Judah.
However in the north 10 tribes broke away and formed a kingdom they called Israel. Its capital was, at first, at Shechem and later at Samaria. Jeroboam was its first king.
After the split both kingdoms drifted away from God and turned to worshiping idols.
874-853 Ahab ruled the kingdom of Israel
Ahab was a wicked man. He married an evil woman from Sidon (in modern day Lebanon) called Jezebel. Ahab also worshiped Baal the weather god and built a temple for him. Furthermore Jezebel killed many of God's prophets.
However the prophet Elijah asked the people to put Baal and God to the test to see which one was real. God proved he was real by sending fire from Heaven and the people killed the prophets of Baal. However they soon slipped back into idolatry. Eventually Ahab was killed in a battle with the Syrians.
Elijah was later taken up to Heaven in a chariot of fire and the prophet Elisha took his place.
841-814 Jehu ruled Israel
He killed all of Ahab's family. He also killed the priests of Baal and the destroyed the priests of Baal. However Jehu was not a truly good man and he served God half-heartedly.
C 800 BC The Assyrians became a threat to Israel
The Assyrians came from northern Iraq. After 900 BC they began building a great empire. The Assyrians were formidable soldiers but they were also infamous for their cruelty.
C. 785-775 The prophet Jonah lived around this time. Jonah means dove.
C. 760-750 BC The prophet Amos lived around this time. Amos means one with a burden.
During Amos's lifetime Israel was a rich kingdom. However the wealth was very unevenly distributed. Amos was appalled by the oppression of the poor by the rich and he demanded social justice.
740-686 The prophet Micah lived in Judah. Micah strongly criticized the rich for oppressing the poor.
c. 750-715 The prophet Hosea appealed to the people of Israel to stop worshiping idols and return to God
740-681 The great prophet Isaiah lived in Judah
738 The Assyrians captured Galilee (the northern part of Israel) and deported many of the inhabitants to other parts of their empire
725 Shalmaneser, ruler of the Assyrians captured Hoshea the last king of Israel
722 After a 3 year siege the Assyrians captured Samaria, the capital of Israel
The Assyrians deported many of the Israelites from Samaria to other parts of their empire. Only the poorest Israelites were left behind.
The Assyrians also brought people from other parts of their empire to live in Samaria (the central part of what is now Israel south of Galilee and north of Judah). However these people did not know what the God of Israel required so he sent lions to kill some of them. When this was reported to the Assyrian king he sent one of the priests from Samaria to teach them to worship God.
These newcomers intermarried with the Israelites who had been left behind and their descendants became the Samaritans.
(At the time of Jesus Jews despised the Samaritans because they were 'impure'. Although they worshiped God they were not true Jews).
715-686 Hezekiah was king of Judah Hezekiah was a good man who trusted God and removed idols
701 Sennacherib the ruler of the Assyrians besieged Jerusalem
The Assyrians boasted that no god had ever been able to save his people from their army. However during the night God killed many thousands of the Assyrian soldiers camped outside Jerusalem, saving the city.
686-642 Manasseh was king of Judah. Manasseh was an evil king who worshiped idols
C. 640-609 At this time Zephaniah prophesied that God would judge the surrounding nations
The prophet Zephaniah prophesied that the Assyrians, the Philistines, Moabites and Ammonites would all be judged. (Later they were destroyed by the Babylonians)
C. 630 The prophet Nahum prophesied that Assyria would be destroyed
625 Babylon, one of the cities ruled by the Assyrians rebelled
612 The Assyrians were destroyed
The Babylonians and a people called the Medes from what is now Iran destroyed Nineveh the capital of the Assyrian Empire. So the Assyrian Empire came to an end.
However the Babylonians then began to conquer the peoples previously ruled by the Assyrians. The Babylonians created their own empire to replace the Assyrian one and in time they turned their eyes on Judah.
640-609 Josiah was king of Israel
Josiah was a good man who ordered men to repair God's temple in Jerusalem. By accident they found part of the Old Testament there and Josiah tried to enforce all of its requirements. Josiah tried to rid his kingdom of idols. Unfortunately after his death the people went back to worshiping idols.
C. 605 God warned the prophet Habakkuk that he was going to use the Babylonians to punish Judah
C. 605-586 The prophet Obadiah prophesied the destruction of the Edomites. (They were destroyed by the Babylonians).
626-586 The prophet Jeremiah lived at this time
Jeremiah prophesied the destruction of Judah as a judgement for her sins.
597 The Babylonians conquered Jerusalem
This time they took the king of Judah, Jehoiachin, prisoner and they placed Zedekiah on the throne as a puppet king. However Zedekiah rebelled and appealed to the Egyptians for help.
In the Rest of the World
C. 900 BC The first civilization in South America arose, in Peru
C. 750 BC Rome was founded
C 650 BC A people called the Celts arrived in Britain. They introduced iron tools and weapons.
THE EXILE AND RETURN
587 The Babylonians captured Jerusalem again
Zedekiah was blinded and led away in chains. However this time the Babylonians deported all but the poorest people in Judah to other parts of the Babylonian Empire. They also plundered the temple in Jerusalem.
C. 571 While the Jews were in exile in Babylon Ezekiel had a series of visions
C. 571 The prophet Daniel served the king of Babylon
In the Babylonian Empire the Jews lived in their own settlements. They were allowed to keep their own religion and customs. Some Jews rose to high positions in Babylon. One such was Daniel.
During his time king Nebuchadnezzar had a dream. God revealed to Daniel what the dream was and what it meant. It was a prophetic dream about a series of empires.
Later Daniel himself had a dream about four animals, each representing empires. The message of the dreams was that God is in control of the rise and fall of all empires.
539 The Persians captured Babylon bringing the Babylonian Empire to an end.
However the Persians conquered the people previously ruled by the Babylonians and they created their own empire to replace the Babylonian Empire. The Persians were a tolerant people and they allowed each part of their empire a certain amount of independence.
538 Cyrus, king of Persia allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild the temple in Jerusalem
536 Rebuilding the temple began
However the Samaritans offered to help. Zerubbabel the leader of the Israelites refused. However work soon stopped because of opposition from the Samaritans who were angry at being excluded from the work.
C. 520 The prophets Zechariah and Haggai encouraged people to rebuild the temple
Work on the temple then began again
516 The Temple was completed
C. 475 A woman named Esther bravely risked her life to save her people. Esther means star.
458 Ezra led another group of Jews to Jerusalem.
Ezra found out that some Jews had married non-Jews. He commanded the people to separate from their non-Jewish wives.
445 Nehemiah led more Jews to Jerusalem
Led by Nehemiah the Jews rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem
C. 430 BC Malachi, the last Old Testament prophet lived at this time. Malachi means messenger.
334 BC Alexander the Great invaded the Persian Empire
Alexander quickly conquered what is now Israel. Later he completely destroyed the Persian Empire.
However Alexander died in 323 without an heir. His empire was then divided among his generals. A Greek general called Ptolemy took Egypt and Israel.
198 BC The Seleucids captured Israel
After Alexander's death a general called Seleucus took Syria and Iraq. His descendants, the Seleucids later took Israel.
168 BC A Seleucid named Antiochus Epiphanes (175-163) defiled the temple
He sacrificed to Zeus in the temple and tried to ban the Jewish religion. As a result the Jews rose in rebellion.
162 BC After Antiochus the next Seleucid ruler granted the Jews religious freedom. However some Jews continued to fight for independence.
142 BC The Jews won their independence. However it did not last long as Rome was growing increasingly powerful.
63 BC The Roman general Ptolemy captured Jerusalem. From this time Israel was ruled by the Romans. It was divided into three parts, Galilee in the north, Samaria in the middle and Judea in the south.
In the Rest of the World
551 BC - 479 BC Confucius lived in China
221 BC Work began on the Great Wall of China
384-322 BC The Greek philosopher Aristotle lived
202 BC The Romans defeated the Carthaginians (from North Africa) at the battle of Zama. Hannibal, the Carthaginian general later committed suicide. The Romans became the dominant power in the Mediterranean.
44 BC Julius Caesar was assassinated
30 BC Egypt became a province of the Roman Empire
NEW TESTAMENT TIMELINE
31 BC - 14 BC Octavian was ruler of the Roman Empire (From 27 BC he called himself Augustus Caesar)
37 BC-4 BC The Romans allowed Herod the Great to reign as a puppet king in Judea.
Herod was a cruel man but he tried to please the Jews by beginning to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. After his death one of Herod's sons, called Herod Archelaus ruled Judea. However he was so bad that in 6 AD the Romans removed him and replaced him with a Roman governor or procurator.
4 BC-39 AD Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great ruled Galilee (the northern part of what is now Israel). Jesus called him 'that fox'. Herod Antipas had John the Baptist beheaded.
C. 4 BC Jesus was born in Bethlehem
His family fled to Egypt to escape Herod but soon returned to Israel. Jesus grew up in Nazareth in Galilee.
26-36 AD Pontius Pilate was governor or procurator of Judea
c. 27-30 AD Jesus preached, healed the sick and cast out demons
C. 30 AD Jesus was crucified but after 3 days he rose from the dead. Later he ascended to Heaven.
C 35 AD Saul was converted and changed his name to Paul
37 - 41 AD Caligula was Roman Emperor
C 46-48 AD Paul and Barnabas sailed to Cyprus and what is now Turkey
C. 48-51 AD Paul and Silas traveled to Turkey and Greece
53-57 AD Paul made a third journey to Turkey and Greece
C. 58-60 AD Paul was arrested and spent two years in prison
Paul appealed to Caesar and was sent to Rome by ship (on the way he was shipwrecked at Malta)
64 AD The city of Rome was severely damaged by a fire. Some people said that Emperor Nero started it. To deflect blame from himself Nero blamed Christians and he persecuted them.
66 AD The Jews rebelled against the Romans
C. 67 AD Paul was martyred
70 AD Jerusalem was destroyed
81-96 AD Domitian was Roman Emperor. He unleashed a wave of persecution against Christians.
90-95 AD John was exiled on the island of Patmos
C 95 Revelation, the last book of the Bible was written
In the Rest of the World
43 AD The Romans invaded Britain
c. 50 AD The Romans founded London
61 AD A woman named Bouddica led a rebellion against the Romans in England but she was defeated
A History of Angels
A Brief History of Christianity in England
Famous Christian Women
A Timeline of Christianity