Evidence from Josephus:  When Was Dedication of the Second Temple of the Jews

by Murrell Selden  (rev. 8/14/2015)


Here is a chronology study using Josephus.  What do I note?  Josephus said Darius the King was in his 9th year of reign, not his 6th year of reign when the temple building was completed.  I like the analysis,  because I believe that theologically the temple building had to be built and dedicated in a Jubilee year (which I believed  to be  in 520 B.C.E.).  The city was not repaired until the reign of Artaxerxes.  I also note that Josephus says that the husband of Ester was Artexerxes, not Xerxes.  I do not believe that, because Mordecai could not have lived that long.  When Ezra mentions Artexerxes, he is talking about the whole span of time to which he was a witness.  Moreover, his account may have been doctored up by later priests.  Ezra had exceptional authority.  Ezra 6 is not in the time of Artexerxes.


Temple Building of Zerrubabel Per Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 11, Chapter 1)
This is what I summarize: Cyrus conquered Babylon in 537 B.C.E. and was there for a short time, and he authorized the Israelites to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. By 536 he had placed Cambyses in charge. Zerrubabel has gone to build the foundation of the temple, which he did, but the project was halted during the reign of Cambyses until the second year of Darius. Cambyses ruled 6 years but was killed. Then Some Magi family member ruled one year. Then Darius ruled 9 years more until the temple building was completed. 

Here is the chronology implied:

Year        Ruler                  Years 

536     Darius B.       0 (not mentioned by Josephus, died in less than 1 year)

535     Cambyses        1 (2nd year of liberation)
534                             2
533                             3
532                             4
531                             5
530                             6 (not mentioned in Bible)
529    Magi family       1 (not mentioned in Bible, except perhaps in relation to the Bethlehem Star)
528    Darius               1
527                             2
526                             3
525                             4
524                             5
523                             6
522                             7
521                             8
520                             9 (which is not same as Ezra 6:15, "6th year")


Wikipedia says Darius I ruled from 522 to 486 B.C.E. This analysis shows that he ruled six years earlier. This analysis shows that, if Josephus is right, the Bible is in error on the 6th year (and that it really was the 9th year).  As I believe temple dedications were in Jubilee years, this analysis supports the temple completed and dedicated in 520 B.C.E.  Or perhaps the understanding of Ezra means the temple was completed in the sixth year, but it was not dedicated.  Ezra is very brief, and Ezra does not make it clear that various chapters and even verses may vary in time.  It does seem that the dedication follows directly after the completion of the building, but this evidence does not support that.