God's Signature of Authenticity
about contents
Passion Week
Jesus' revised
Birth Date
Reign of Herod
the Great
Herodian Chronology new
Julian 5BC Mar 23 Eclipse
Herodian Chronology new
Julian 5BC Sep 15 Eclipse
Herodian Chronology
Tishri reckoning
Herodian Chronology
Nisan reckoning
Ancient Calendars
Seasons & Transport

Herodian Chronology notes

These are the footnotes hyperlinked from the following four chronology tables:


  1. Olympiad years are reckoned July 1 to June 30.

    As to the first year of the Olympiadic era, ancient historians differ, but modern scholars generally accept the year 776.261   For the purpose of this reckoning, the year was usually the normal Greek calendar year, and we saw (§§113-114) that this began at Athens with Hekatombaion 1, at Delphi with Apellaios 1, both of which may be taken as approximately equivalent to July 1.  The first year of the first Olympiad accordingly ran approximately from July 1, 776, to June 30,775 B.C., and may be stated in brief form as 776/775 B.C.

    261  Bickerman, Chronology of the Ancient World, 76;  Samuel, Greek and Roman Chronology, 194 n. 2.

    Jack Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology
    Rev. ed. (Hendrickson Publishers, 1998) [p. 93]

  2. A.U.C. years were initially reckoned from Martius 1 but in A.U.C. 601 (153 B.C.) they were reckoned from Januarius 1. Roman intercalary months were determined by Chris Bennet at Roman Dates; Roman consuls were excerpted from E.J. Bickerman, Chronology of the Ancient World (Thames & Hudson; rev. 1980)

    190. Assuming use of the Varronian era and strictly speaking, we should reckon A.U.C. from Apr 21, 753 B.C.  By this factual reckoning A.U.C. 1 extended from Apr 21, 753 B.C., to Apr 20, 752; and if A.U.C. 1 is set parallel with 753 B.C. it means that A.U.C. 1 began in the year 753 B.C.  But the Roman year came to be reckoned from Jan 1 (§142), therefore in practice the A.U.C. reckoning was also often counted from Jan 1.  By this manner of reckoning A. U.C. 1 extended from Jan 1 to Dec 31, 753 B.C.; and in this case we have simple and exact equations, A.U.C. 1 = 753 B.C., A.U.C. 753 = 1 B.C., A.U.C. 754 = A.D. 1, and so on.  Unless otherwise stated, it is this latter manner of equation which may be assumed in the present handbook.  In either case a table of parallel years will show A.U.C. 1 in parallel with 753 B.C., A.U.C. 754 in parallel with A.D. 1, and so on (see Table 47). 271

    271  Emil Shürer, A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, vol. 1.2, 393-398.

    Jack Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology
    Rev. ed. (Hendrickson Publishers, 1998) [p. 99]

  3. Actian Era years are reckoned from Octavian's victory over Mark Antony at Actium on 31 B.C. September 2 (Julian), through 30 B.C. September 1 (Julian).

    … the era of Actium dated from the naval battle at Actium on Sept 2, 31 B.C., in which Octavian defeated Mark Antony. 259

    259 Samuel, Greek and Roman Chronology, 246-247.

    Jack Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology
    Rev. ed. (Hendrickson Publishers, 1998) [p. 92]

  4. During the transition from Roman Republic to Empire, the "ruler" held many titles which were acquired at different times, and as the candidates vied for power and authority, there wasn't a singular designated ruler.  Regardless, for the purposes of this analysis, it is important to specify the "regnal" years of Tiberius and Caligula and show their correspondence to the reigns of Herod's sons.

    For the sake of simplicity, the Roman Rulers are identified as:

    "Jul"      Gaius Julius Caesar 63 B.C. – 44 B.C.
    "Oct"    Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus ("Octavian", later renamed "Augustus") 44 B.C. – A.D. 14
    "Aug"    Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus (renamed) 44 B.C. – A.D. 14
    "Tib"     Tiberius Claudius Nero A.D. 12 – A.D. 37
    "Cal"     Gaius Caesar (a.k.a. "Caligula") A.D. 37 – A.D. 41

  5. Intervals for Jerusalem and the Temple are presumed to be in factual years, similar to an era (as opposed to king or priest in regnal years).

  6. How Josephus reckoned the reigns of the Temple High Priests and Herodian kings, especially Herod the Great, has been disputed.  Some scholars have presumed that because Josephus was Jewish, all his dates are converted to and reckoned as Jewish regnal accession years (as are the Hebrew kings).  However, accession-year reckoning simply doesn't fit the dates and reigns as Josephus reported them.  However, non-accession reckoning, empirically, seems to reconcile well.  But by which calendar?  Josephus had Roman and Jewish sources upon which he drew, and likely others as well.

    The purpose of these Herodian chronologies is to compare, analyze, and reconcile their reigns by three different calendars:

    Vermés and Millar argue Josephus used non-accession inclusive reckoning, at least for kings and emperors:

    One possible solution might be that Josephus, in reckoning from the time of accession without regard to the calendar year, always counted the last fraction of the year as a whole one, so in fact a certain fraction of the year should be deducted from every reign.  Nevertheless, this does not correspond to the method of reckoning employed by the ancient historians and chronographers, who count full years in such a way that the calendar year during which a change of government has taken place is assigned in its entirety either to the departing ruler, or to the new one (cf. pp. 126-7, lists Porphyry and Eusebius). …

    … Instead of the calculation of regnal years suggested here, another is admittedly possible.  Taking the calendar year as a basis, they could be counted in such a way that the fraction of a calendar year at the beginning and end of a reign is always counted as a full year.  Josephus seems to reckon, for example the regnal years of Herod according to this method (see the remarks at the end of § 15). [p. 200-201 n. 1]

    The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ Vol. 1,
    Emil Schürer (1844-1910), Géza Vermès, Fergus Millar, Pamela Vermès (1973)
     T. & T. Clark (1973, revised)

    Emil Schürer originally remarked (at the end of § 15) that Josephus used Nisan reckoning:

    From this it is evident that he reckoned the portions of a year as full years, and probably counted regnal years (as the Mishnah suggests, from Nisan to Nisan…)

    Emil Schürer, ibid p. 327

    Vermés and Millar elaborate on Josephus' use of non-accession, inclusive reckoning:

    (1) The custom of reckoning a part, however small, of the calendar year at the beginning and end of a reign, as a full regnal year, undoubtedly holds good for Egypt.  Not only the years of the Ptolemies, but also those of the Roman emperors were reckoned in this way in Egypt (cf. E. J. Bickerman, Chronology of the Ancient World (1968), p. 66). Later this reckoning of the years of an emperor became usual outside Egypt (Mommsen, I, pp. 501 f., II 2, pp. 756 ff.). Unger believed that Josephus also reckoned the regnal years of the Hasmonaeans in this way (see pp. 200-1 above).

    Vermès and Millar, ibid p. 327

    And in Appendix III, Vermés and Millar elaborate on Josephus' reliance on Julian dates:

    [Hoffmann] emphasized above all that Josephus was hardly in a position (and if he had been, would certainly not have bothered) to convert to the Jewish calendar dates transmitted to him in another calendar.  He simply followed the calendar used by his sources.  Hoffmann believed, however, that the source for the numerous dates in the Bellum must have been the official documents kept in the Roman camp itself.  It may therefore be assumed that they were given according to the Julian calendar, the months of which Josephus designated only by their Macedonian names.  The basis of this theory is not unreasonable.  A writer such as Josephus does not put himself to the trouble of converting dates, but gives them as they are transmitted.  One should therefore not take for granted that he uses the same calendar for all his dates.  Many are doubtless given according to the Jewish, others according to the Roman calendar.

    Vermès and Millar, ibid p. 597
    Emil Schürer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ Vol. 1,
    (London: Clark, 1973 Rev.), pp. 596-599

    And Hoehner has argued for a Julian non-accession inclusive reckoning:

    In conclusion, it seems reasonable that in computing Herod's reign one needs to consider that it was reckoned in accordance with the Julian calendar, the nonaccession-year system, and inclusive reckoning. [p. 105]

    Harold W. Hoehner, "The Date of the Death of Herod the Great",
    Chronos, Kairos, Christos I (1989) p. 101-111

    A Tishri non-accession inclusively reckoned chronology was prepared as well for the sake of completeness.

  7. These are the reigns of the Hebrew High Priests and Kings relevant to this study of Herodian chronology (albeit the last kings were not Hebrew but rather Hasmonaean and Idumaean).

  8. The transition from Hyrcanus II to Aristobulus II is shown in 66 B.C.  However, more commonly it is thought that Aristobulus II reigned 67-63 B.C., interrupting Hyrcanus II reign from 76-67 B.C.  Since Josephus is our only source for these durations of reign without any absolute dates, a transition in 66 B.C. better harmonizes most (but not all) of Josephus' other synchronisms.  The conflict between Aristobulus II having reigned 3 years and 3 months (Ant. 20.10.1) or 3 years and 6 months (Ant. 14.6.1) remains unresolved.

  9. Assumes Herod was appointed king by Octavian and Antony in the fall of 40 B.C., likely in October following the Treaty of Brundisium.  Antigonus was made king by the Parthians (Pacorus) after Pentecost in 40 B.C. when Lysanias of Chalcis succeeded his father Ptolemy (Ant. 14.13, Wars 1.13).

    While Josephus seems to be the only source that dates when Lysanias of Chalcis succeeded his father Ptolemy and entered into a friendship with Antigonus who induced Pacorus to depose Hyrcanus II (ostensibly in 40 B.C.),  Kevin Butcher has documented a Syrian Antioch coin (BMC 25 and AUB 108) which is dated to the Seleucid year 272 (40 B.C.) likely when Pacorus invaded Syria and occupied Antioch:

    Note that the Seleucid era is used on one issue of Antioch during the Roman period, Catalogue no. 21 below. This seems to correspond to the period of occupation of Antioch by the forces of Labienus and Pacorus, and consequently a reversion to the Seleucid dating system and the temporary abandonment of the Caesarean era. [p. 307]

    In year nine there was also an issue using the old Seleucid method of dating; this was the last time this era was used on the coinage of Antioch; it is probably connected with the Parthian invasion of Syria under Labienus and Pacorus (see p. 307).

    Seleucid year 272. under Labienus and Pacorus (41/40 BC)
    21.1 BMC 25
    21.2 AUB 108
    [p. 315-16]

    Kevin Butcher, Coinage in Roman Syria : Northern Syria, 64 BC - AD 253,
    Royal Numismatic Society No. 34 (2004)

    Chris Bennett has made a study of various calendar systems and provides a Seleucid to Julian conversion table at
    http://www.tyndalehouse.com/egypt/ptolemies/chron/babylonian/babylonian.htm, according to which, Seleucid year 272 corresponds to 6-April 40 B.C. through 25-March 39 B.C.

  10. According to Jospehus, Herod was appointed king by the Roman Senate with Antony and Octavian both in attendance at Rome, in 40 B.C. (consul of Calvinus and Pollio) but ostensibly in the first half of 40 B.C. which corresponds to Olympiad 184.4:

    ...But when the senate was dissolved, Antony and Caesar went out of the senate house with Herod between them, and with the consuls and other magistrates before them, in order to offer sacrifices, and to lay up their decrees in the capitol. Antony also feasted Herod the first day of his reign. And thus did this man receive the kingdom, having obtained it on the hundred and eighty-fourth olympiad, when Caius Domitius Calvinus was consul the second time, and Caius Asinius Pollio [the first time].

    Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews – 14.14.5
    William Whiston

    However, according to Appian, while Octavian was in or near Rome after the battle of Perusia by Feb of 40 B.C., Antony had wintered in Alexandria, Egypt, then marched to Tyre and then (about February 40 B.C.) sailed to Cyprus, Rhodes and Athens, and then sailed to Brundisium.  Both Antony and Octavian were in Brundisium, Italy until October 40 B.C., following which they returned to Rome together.  Seemingly there was no opportunity for both Octavian and Antony to have been in Rome together at the Senate to appoint Herod as king of Judea in early 40 B.C. at the end of Oly 184.4 as Josephus reports (Ant. 14.14.5).

    The movements of Octavian and Antony in  40 B.C. are covered by Octavian's Perusine War thru to Octavian and Antony's Pact or Treaty of Brundisium (a.k.a. "Brundusium", "Brendesium", "Brentesium") on 2 October 40 B.C., as reported in detail by Appian (Civil Wars 5.5.48-5.7.66) and briefly by Dio (Roman History,  48.27-30)

    Appian reports that subsequent to Senate ratification, in the following year (39 B.C.) Antony established various client kings and sent lieutenants to collect tribute from them, including Herod in Idumea and Samaria (Civil Wars 5.8.75). The absence of "Judea" in Appian's report of Herod's appointment has been questioned by scholars (Stern, M., 1974-84. vol. II, 189-90, Greek and Latin Authors on Jews and Judaism Edited with Introductions, Translations and Commentary, 3 Vols., Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.)

    Harold W. Hoehner notes:

    4 Josephus states in Ant. xiv. 389 that Herod was pronounced king in the 184th Olympiad.  But this seems to be incorrect, for the 184th Olympiad ended in the summer of 40 B.C., and Herod did not even go to Rome until the winter.  Moreover, since Octavian and Antony did not reach Rome until the autumn of 40 B.C., they could not have appointed Herod as king until after the 184th Olympiad (cf. Schürer, 1, 355 n. 3).  That Herod was accustomed to reckon his accession from 40 rather than from 37 B.C. when his reign became de facto, is plausibly argued on the basis of numismatic evidence by B. Kanael, ‘The Coins of King Herod of the Third Year’, JQR, XLII (1952), 261- 4. [p. 6]

    Harold W. Hoehner, Herod Antipas,
    Cambridge University Press (1972)

    A chronology of Herod's appointment as king can be reconciled by assuming Josephus erred in citing the 184th Olympiad, which should have been the 185th:

    Around Pentecost (Sivan 6th) in early May of 40 B.C., Herod escapes the Parthian invasion of Judea by Pacorus and Antigonus, and travels by road to Pelusium, then sails to Alexandria.  Herod then sailed for Rome but severe weather forced him to delay in Rhodes, where he equipped a trireme ship.  (Wars 1.14.2-3, Ant. 14.14.3)

    In late summer Herod sails from Rhodes to Brundisium and on to Rome, a windward voyage of at least 45-63 days towards the end of the Mediterranean fair weather sailing season, not including making port at Brundisium.   (Wars 1.14.3, Ant. 14.14.3)

    Following the Treaty of Brundisium, Antony and Octavian had returned to Rome and Herod went to Rome (ostensibly, sailed in his trireme) shortly thereafter.   While all three men were in Rome together in October of 40 B.C., the 185th Olympiad, the Roman Senate met and ratified Antony's appointment of Herod as king.  Then after only 7 days in Rome, while the Mediterranean sailing weather had not yet turned stormy for the winter, Herod sailed to Ptolemais (on the coast of Galilee), a10-15 day leeward voyage.  (Ant. 14.14.5-15.1, Wars 1.15.3)

    Herod, now king, marched through Galilee and raised an army.  It is not certain if Herod stopped campaigning in winter of 40/39 B.C., but given the dispersion and number of conquests, and defeat at Jerusalem, it is assumed most of the campaigns were during the fair weather of 39 B.C. before entering winter quarters in late 39 B.C. (Ant. 14.15.1-3, Wars 1.15.3-6)

  11. Herod issues his "year 3" bronze coins: 

    (Note carefully, in the chronological tables, this entry has been portrayed as occurring in 2nd Adar, but that monthly position was chosen somewhat arbitrarily as the actual months these coins were minted is unknown, although some scholars believe they were minted continuously from 40 B.C. to 37 B.C. In the tables, this entry is highlighted in orange to draw attention to the arbitrariness of showing it in 2nd Adar. In only the Nisan-reckoned chronology does 2nd Adar (and 1st Adar and Shevat) fall in both Herod's 3rd year and 37 B.C., hence its portrayal in 2nd Adar, whereas in all other chronologies the reckoning system precludes Herod's 3rd year from coinciding with 37 B.C.)

    Ya'akov Meshorer argues that Herod's "" dated ("year 3") coins on which the date is always accompanied by the monogram "ΤΡ" (tau-rho) were minted continuously from 40 to 37 B.C.  The mint was likely at Samaria-Sebaste which Herod ruled since Marc Antony appointed him tetrarch in 42 B.C.  Herod ostensibly minted these coins in competition with Antigonus who was minting his own coins at Jerusalem.  When Herod captured Jerusalem and killed Antigonus, Herod began to mint other coins.  Herod began minting the coins in 40 B.C. to commemorate his appointment from Caesar (Octavian) as King of Judea, and the "year three" date is reckoned from Herod's appointment in 42 B.C. as tetrarch (ΤΕΤΡΑΡΧΗΣ) to which the monogram tau-rho ("ΤΡ") refers. (Ya'akov Meshorer, Ancient Jewish Coinage vol 2, 1982, pp. 9-12)

    In a die study of Herod's dated coins Fontanille and Ariel concluded that it was unlikely the coins could be minted at Jerusalem in 37 B.C. alone and that Meshorer's theory of continuous minting of the same dated coin was possible:

    If the coins were minted in Jerusalem, minting could have taken place in only four months of year-three (June–September 37 BCE).  The replacement frequencies for both a third of a year or even a full year is so high, as to argue for a continued minting of the coin as a type immobilisé.  Burnett, Amandry and Ripollès viewed Meshorer’s idea of an immobilized date as unlikely (RPC 1:678).  Research into contemporaneous Roman coins has established that the use of dates on coins was not always exacting (Sutherland 1951:182).  The minting of a coin bearing a date could have extended beyond the year in question.  This does not mean that the date on the coin was immobilized as that numismatic concept is commonly understood, and as was used by Meshorer.  But it does allow for coins to have been minted beyond the precise end of the year noted on the coin. [pp. 84-85]

    Jean-Philippe Fontanille, Donald T. Ariel, "The Large Dated Coin of Herod the Great: The First Die Series",
    Israel Numismatic Research, 1 (2006) pp.73–86

    Baruch Kanael accepts the "LΓ" coin is dated ("year 3") and is reckoned from Herod's appointment to King by Rome in 40 B.C., and that the coin was minted in 37 B.C. when Herod captured Jerusalem and killed Antigonus, but Kanael argues:

    It appears, therefore, that the date "year three of the reign of Herod" is doubly emphasized on the coins: both in the form of ["year 3"] , which was common on coins of the period, and in that of the monogram "ΤΡ" (tau-rho), which also means "in the third year" τρίτω ἔτει, and is intended to stress the fact that Herod was legally king of the country even during the years 40-37(8) B.C.E. when Antigonus ruled.  [p. 264]

    Baruch Kanael, "The Coins of King Herod of the Third Year ",
    The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 42, No. 3 (Jan., 1952), pp. 261-264

    Josef Meyshan agrees with Kanael that the date "year 3" is reckoned from Herod's appointment as King by Rome in 40 B.C. and minted in 37 B.C., but argued that the "ΤΡ" (tau-rho) monogram refers to Tyre where the coin was minted:

    The four coins dated . “year three”, bearing the monogram ΤΡ. and the legend ΗΡΩΔΟΥ ΒΑΣΙΑΕΩΣ on the obverse are the first issued by Herod1b.  They w׳ere issued in the third year after his proclamation as King of Judaea by the Roman Senate (40 B.C.) i.e. in 37 B.C. the year of his victory over Antigonus Mattathias, when Herod became de facto King of Judaea. [pp. 57-58]

    The author supposes that the monogram [] (ΤΡ) on the coins of Herod the Great is a mintmark of the town of Tyre and is an abbreviation of the word Tyrus4.  Indeed all the four coins with the monogram ΤΡ and year 3 () differ with regard to style and fabric from the other coins of Herod. They are better wrought and are similar as regards fabric to the other Roman provincial coins. [p. 91]

    Josef Meyshan, "Essays in Jewish Numismatics" - Numismatic Studies and Researches, Vol VI
    Israel Numismatic Society (1968)

    Jodi Magness affirms the coins were minted at Samaria-Sebaste but proposes that:

    … scholars have made four incorrect or unfounded assumptions regarding these coins:

    1) that "year 3" refers to a year in Herod's reign;
    2) that "year 3" refers to a period of three years;
    3) that the monogram TP is Greek;
    4) that the dated coins are earlier than the undated coins.

    … the monogram TP is an abbreviation of the Latin tribunicia potestas.

    Herod's dated coins could have been minted on the occasion of Agrippa's visit.  In this case, TP and "year 3" would refer to the third year of Agrippa's tribunate [renewed by Augustus in 18 B.C.]

    It is also possible, however, that Herod's dated coins were issued on the occasion of Augustus's visit to Syria in 20 B.C.E. In this case, the date and monogram would refer to the third year of Augustus's tribunate [bestowed in 23 B.C.] [pp. 168-169]

    Jodi Magness, "The Cults of Isis and Kore at Samaria-Sebaste in the Hellenistic and Roman Periods"
    The Harvard Theological Review, vol. 94 no. 2 (Apr., 2001), pp. 157-177

  12. Josephus' report that Antigonus reigned 3 years and 3 months when Sosius and Herod besieged him (Ant. 20.10.1) as winter ended, which would be Adar or 2nd Adar (VeAdar), conflicts with Josephus' accession of Antigonus around Pentecost (Sivan 6th) of the year Lysanias succeeded Ptolemy of Chalcis (40 B.C.), the conflict being the interval of time is either 3 years and 7 months (by Tishri non-accession reckoning) or 3 years and no months (by Nisan non-accession reckoning), or 2 years and 9 months (reckoned factually), but there is no reckoning which even approximates 3 years and 3 months.  However, Antigonus had reigned 3 years and 3 months by Nisan non-accession reckoning when Herod captured Jerusalem and killed Antigonus, some 5 or 6 months after the seige.  As reigns are ended and computed upon death or being deposed, perhaps Josephus meant 3 years and 3 months when Herod captured Antigonus (and Jerusalem) rather than when Herod beseiged them.

    Josephus also gives conflicting durations for Herod's siege of Jerusalem: 5 months in Wars 1.18.2, and 6 months in Wars 5.9.4

  13. Years portrayed in this column are now renumbered from years of Pompey having captured Jerusalem to years of Herod having captured Jerusalem (not Herod's regnal years).

  14. Josephus phrase "on the third month, on the solemnity of the fast" suggests that his reckoning at least in this instance was Nisan years, because the 3rd month of a Tishri year is Kislev and there have never been any Jewish fasts in Kislev, whereas the 3rd month of a Nisan year is Sivan and there was an ancient fast on the 23rd of Sivan commemorating when Jeroboam blocked prevented the pilgrimage to Jerusalem (Megillat Taanit 3).  Regarding the possibility that "third month" refers to the 3rd month of the siege and not of the year and thus "the fast" would refer to Yom Kippur, Herod's siege began as winter ended (Ant. 14.15.14) and Yom Kippur (Tishri 10) was 7 months away, or 8 months if an intercalary year.

    While there is no absolute fixed month for when Pompey besieged Jerusalem, Josephus states Herod captured Jerusalem on the same day as had Pompey, hence Pompey's 3-month siege was likewise begun at the end of winter:

    Jerusalem was surrendered to Pompey by Hyrcanus II (Ant. 14.4.2, Wars 1.7.2) but Aristobulus II had taken refuge in the Temple, which Pompey then besieged for 3 months. (Ant. 14.4.3, Wars 1.7.4).  After the Temple was taken, Pompey restored Hyrcanus II to the high priesthood (Ant. 14.4.4, Wars 1.7.6).

    Note carefully that although the Temple was besieged for 3 months and then Hyrcanus II was restored, Jerusalem had surrendered 3 months prior, and Josephus records the time from Pompey's capture of Jerusalem to Herod's capture of Jerusalem as 27 years.  So in analyzing this interval, it is the surrender of Jerusalem that is pivotal, not the fall of the Temple or Hyrcanus' II reign.

    However, it would seem that Josephus erred when recording that Hyrcanus II reigned for another 24 years which would be from when Jerusalem surrendered to Pompey, whereas Hyrcanus II actually reigned another 23 years (a few months less than 24) from when he was restored.

    Josephus records Herod's capture of Jerusalem as ending 126 years of Hasmonean rule (ostensibly from when Judas Maccabeus rededicated the Temple in 146 B.C.) and 27 years after Pompey captured Jerusalem. There is no consistent calculation that yields Josephus' durations for both intervals, and the error is not correctible with any simple, single adjustment, in that adjusting one interval (by shifting an event date) misadjusts the other interval.  Nor would an intercalation error account for the differences. Josephus also reports a contradictory duration of Hasmonean rule of 125 years in Ant. 17.6.3 when Herod extolled his virtues to the assembled principal men of the Jews.

    Also, Herod did not kill Antigonus himself, but rather turned him over to Mark Anthony in Antioch to be killed (Wars. 1.18.3).

  15. Augustus grants all land between Trachonitis and Galilee to Herod in late 24 B.C. or early 23 B.C., after Herod sends troops to aid Aelius Gallus and after the end of the first Actiad but before Augustus sends Agrippa (Marcus Vipsanius) east (to Aegean islands and Judea in late 23 to early 22 B.C.):

    The games at Actium were celebrated on 2nd September for the first time in B.C. 28, then in the years B.C. 24, 20, 16, etc.  That enlargement of territory therefore took place "after the course of the first Actiad had run," i.e. in the end of B.C. 24 or beginning of B.C. 23. See Zumpt, Commentt. epigraph, ii. 76.

    Emil Schürer, History of the Jewish people in the time of Jesus Christ; div1 vol1, p.409, note 10

    The grant of Trachonitis is mentioned twice: Bell. Jud. I, § 398, Μετὰ δὲ τὴν πρώτην Ἀκτιάδα προστίδησιν αὐτοῡ τη βασιλείᾳ τόν τε Τράχωνα καλούμενον . . . and Thackeray brings the translation: "after the course of the first Actiad had run."  The first Actiad continued from 28-24 B.C.E.  The translation suggested by Narkiss (1. c. p. 10, note 12) "after the first Actian games" seems improbable for philological reasons.  This date i.e. about 23 B.C.E., finds support also in Ant. XVI, ch. IX: The grant of Trachonitis to Herod (id. § 343) is mentioned after he had sent auxiliaries to aid Aelius Gallus in his campaign against the Sabaeans (25/24 B.C.E.) and before Agrippas was sent east by Augustus (22 B.C.E.).  We cannot accept Narkiss' view that Josephus made a chronological error in Antiquities for, as is known, he took most of his information regarding Herod from Nicolaus of Damascus, who is reliable at least as far as chronological matters are concerned.  There can, therefore, be no doubt that Trachonitis was granted to Herod circ. 23 B.C.E., and not in 28 B.C.E., as Narkiss suggests. [p. 262-263, note 11]

    Baruch Kanael, "The Coins of King Herod of the Third Year"
    The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 42, No. 3 (Jan., 1952), pp. 261-264

  16. Second, for Corbishley to state that Josephus reckoned from two different starting points, he theorizes that Josephus had intended to compute from 37 B.C. but did not because "he mistakenly presumed that his sources did the same" 48 when in fact they reckoned from 40 B.C. This can neither be proved nor disproved.  However, it seems better to say that Josephus' statement in Bellum Judaicum (i. 21. 1 § 401) that Herod restored the temple in, his fifteenth year might be an error on the part of either Josephus or a scribe49 or that it might refer to the time of preparation before actual construction. 50 [p. 40]

    Harold W. Hoehner, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ
    Zondervan (1977)

  17. John 2:20 occurred when Jesus attended Passover, in Nisan, after beginning his ministry.  Jesus was baptized at "about age 30", early in Tiberius' 15th year which was AD 26 and so the following Passover is Nisan of AD 27.  Herod began building the Temple in his 18th year (reckoned from when he was made king by Rome) which was 20 BC, 46 years prior to the statement in John 2:20.

    However, Finegan [p. 349] and Hoehner [p. 41] both argue that counting 46 years from John 2:20 back to the priests building the Temple (ναοῦ) in 19 BC after 1 year and 6 months, based on ναοῦ (Temple edifice) being the term used in both John 2:20 and Ant. XV.11.6[421].  However, Josephus uses the same term ναοῦ (Temple edifice) describing that Herod had erected the Temple (ναὸν) on new foundations (Ant. XV.11.3[391]) and that the Temple (ναὸς) was built of stones (Ant. XV.11.3[392]).  Hoehner further argues [p. 41] that rebuilding the Temple edifice (ναὸς) by the priests preceded Herod's rebuilding the temple precincts (νεὼν), and thus the 46 years should be counted not from when Herod began (18 BC), but from when the priests finished (20 BC).  Hoehner further notes that grammarians see οικοδομηθη "to build" as an ongoing process (which indeed it was as Josephus the Temple precincts (ἱερὸν) were finished in Nero's reign (Ant. XX.9.7 [219])

  18. Days of travel for Mediterranean voyager (when shipping is open) or overland messenger (anytime) are computed as follows:

    Hoehner notes:

    Although Itin. 589.5 suggests a distance of 116 miles between Jerusalem and Caesarea (possibly the figure CXVI is a scribal error for LXVI), the itemized list in Itin. 600.1-6 which totals 68 [Roman] miles seems far more plausible. [footnote 2 on p. 34]

    Harold W. Hoehner, Herod Antipas
    Society for New Testament Studies, Monograph series, 17
    Cambridge University Press (1972)

    Casson has determined Mediterranean sailing durations as:

    55-73 days        Caesarea to Rhodes (10 days) plus to Rome (45-63 days) 
    10-15 days        Rome to Rhodes (7-11 days) plus to Caesarea (3-4 days) 
    [pp. 145-146; Table 1]

    Lionel Casson, "Speed under Sail of Ancient Ships",
    Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, Vol. 82 (1951), pp. 136-148

    To which are added 2 days non-courier travel for the 68 miles between Jerusalem and Caesarea yielding:

    57-75 days travel via ship from Jerusalem to Rome
    12-17 days travel via ship from Rome to Jerusalem

    Ramsay and Eliot have determined a Roman Imperial Postal courier's rate of travel as 50 miles/day and the durations for Rome-Caesarea distances are:

    45.9+2 days       = 2,295 mi / 50  Adriatic via ship route from Rome to Caesarea
    54.8 days          = 2,742 mi / 50  entirely overland route from Rome to Caesarea

    C. W. J. Eliot, "New evidence for the speed of the Roman Imperial Post"
     Phoenix, Vol. 9, No. 2 (Summer, 1955), pp. 76-80
    A. M. Ramsay, "The Speed of the Roman Imperial Post"
    The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 15 (1925), pp. 60-74

    Again adding Hoehner's additional 68 miles between Caesarea and Jerusalem and reapplying Ramsay's postal-courier rate of 50 miles/day to the Rome-Jerusalem distances gives:

    47.3+2 days       = 2,295+68 mi / 50        Adriatic via ship route Rome to Jerusalem
    56.2 days          = 2,742+68 mi / 50        entirely overland route Rome to Jerusalem

    The following table outlines the communiques between Herod, Antipater and Caesar Augustus during Herod's last two years:


    Jerusalem to Rome (days)

    Rome to Jerusalem (days)









    Antipater "wrote to his friends at Rome" to request they "send to Herod" to send Antipater to Caesar.





    "which when it was done" implies return correspondence




    Herod sends Antipater to Caesar with presents and Herod's will making Antipater heir.  Sylleus accompanied Antipater to Rome.





    Saturninus sends murder conspirators (Corinthus and Fabatus) to Rome.






    Bathyllus, Antipater's freed-man, came from Rome




    Letters from Herod's friends, accusing Archelaus & Philip




    Letters from Antipater to Herod (seemingly returning to Judea)




    Herod "wrote back" to Antipater to not delay returning



    Antipater, enroute home, intercepts Herod's letter at Celenderis in Cilicia, continues and lands at Sebastus.




    Herod sends "letters and  messengers" to Caesar notifying of Antipater's guilt in conspiracy





    Herod sends "more ambassadors and letters" to Caesar notifying that Antipater had suborned Acme





    "letters from [Herod's] ambassadors" that Caesar has killed Acme and gave Herod permission to banish or kill Antipater.




    Archelaus sails to Rome to have Caesar affirm him as king (apparently Nicolaus of Damascus went with him Ant. 17.11.3)





    Antipas sails to Rome to have Caesar affirm him as king.





    Varus informs Caesar the Jewish nation is in tumult





    Varus sends commanders of the rebels to Caesar





    Philip had earlier come to Rome to assist Archelaus





    Jews petition Caesar to live under their own laws, while Archelaus still waiting Caesars confirmation






    Archelaus returns to his ethnarchy in Judea

    See also Ancient Mediterranean travel between Rome and Jerusalem for additional background.

  19. There were two total lunar eclipses in 5 B.C. and both followed a Jewish fast from which Matthias may have recused himself from serving as high priest:

    1. Ta'anit Bechorim (Fast of the Firstborn) on Nisan 14 occurred 1 before or 1 day after the eclipse of 5 B.C. March 23, depending on whether Nisan 1 was determined by calendrical computation (Hebrew intercalated calendar as per Hillel II rules) or by direct observation of the new moon crescent which is visible to the naked eye between 1 and 2 days after the astronomical new moon. However, the Ta'anit Bechorim (Fast of the Firstborn) may not have been celebrated in 5 B.C. as it is unattested before the 2nd century A.D. There are two references:
      1. The 8th century Jerusalem Talmud (Pesachim 68a) attests that Rabbi Judah haNasi (2nd century A.D.) fasted on the eve of Passover, though whether that was due to being a "firstborn", or a sensitive constitution, or preserving his appetite for the Passover Seder was debated by other Rabbis. 
      2. The same 8th century Jerusalem Talmud  (Soferim 21:3) stated (prior to its being emended or treated homiletically) that the "firstborn fast on the eve of Pesach".
    2. Yom Kippur fast on Tishri 10 occurred 4 or 2 days prior to the eclipse of 5 B.C. September 15, depending on whether Tishri 1 was determined by calendrical computation (Hebrew intercalated calendar as per Hillel II rules) or by direct observation of the new moon crescent which is visible to the naked eye between 1 and 2 days after the astronomical new moon. Further, more than enough time remains after September 15 for Herod to fall ill and do all the events leading up to his death, estimated at 60-90 days.

  20. Note carefully that the analysis of Josephus' grammar in Antiquities 17.6.4 indicates that when Josephus was reporting on how Herod seemed to think High Priest Matthias was somehow complicit in the rebellion that tore down the eagle Herod had erected over the Temple, Josephus (as was his style) mentioned a related anecdote about Matthias having recused himself from officiating at a fast, and Josephus further elaborated (seemingly, parenthetically) that Herod had consequently deposed this same Matthias and burned the leaders of the rebellion, after which anecdote Josephus resumed his main narrative in Antiquities 17.6.4 that the fast from which Matthias recused himself was followed by a lunar eclipse. Accordingly, Jospehus' "parenthetical elaboration" of the deposing of Matthias and burning of the rebels had likely taken place either:

    1. December 5 B.C. assuming High Priest Matthias recused himself from theTa'anit Bechorim (Fast of the Firstborn) preceeding the eclipse of 5 B.C. March 23.
    2. January 4 B.C. assuming High Priest Matthias recused himself from the Yom Kippur fast preceeding the eclipse of 5 B.C. September 15.

    Note further that Josephus (our only source) does not give us precise reigns for the High Priests, only their sequence and duration of years, but neither accession nor ending months. Consequently, unfortunately, there is no way to cross-check specific dates other than to ascertain which scenario best fits the entire chronology and understanding of Josephus' grammar.

  21. These 5 entries - three Actian years 25, 26, & 27 and the two events of Saturninus sending plotters to Rome and Varus succeeding Saturninus and hearing Antipater's accusers - don't reconcile correctly.  The concensus chronology is that C. Sentius Saturninus was governor (or president) of Syria until 7-6 B.C. when he was succeeded by P. Quintilius Varus. There are coins which indicate Varus governed Syria during Actian years 25, 26, & 27, which imply Varus replaced Saturninus not later than September of 6 B.C.

    Note that in Ant. 17.5.2 Josephus says Varus was replacing Saturninus at that time, but in Wars 1.31.5 Josephus only says Varus is president of Syria at that time.  The Antiochian coins of Varus, while reckoned on Actian years, don't necessarily require posting as Roman governor of Syria to be on Actian years. But assuming so, then for the new governor to arrive at his posting on the turnover of the Actian year (which is in September) it is reasonable he would be in Jerusalem a couple months earlier or mid -5 B.C. as shown in the chronologies. While mid-year is the right time of year, 5 B.C is 1or 2 years too late to reconcile with the coins which put Varus at his post in Syria not later than September of 6 B.C.

    However, if as is implied by Wars 1.31.5, Varus was already president of Syria (having replaced Saturninus earlier) and was in Jerusalem "very seasonably" for other reasons (perhaps at Herod's request to sit in judgment of Antipater), then either chronology of Herod's death fits better with Varus being in Jerusalem several months after his governorship began.

  22. Plausibly, Antipater chooses to return to Jerusalem at this time because having secured the letters accusing Archelaus & Philip, which letters had been sent and would soon be delivered to Herod, Antipater wanted to be there to exploit those letters and further his conspiracy.  As the Mediterranean would soon close altogether to shipping and travel, and the alternative land travel would add another 35-40 days to the journey which would cause him to arrive well after Herod had received the letters accusing Archelaus & Philip, Antipater had to leave Rome without delay.  The voyage home is windward and only takes 10-15 days, and so leaving in late October, though difficult sailing, would get him back to Caesarea just before Mediterranean shipping closed altogether around November 11.

  23. There is no obvious intersection of coastal sailing routes with the Roman Imperial Post (cursus publicus) roads at Celenderis in Cilicia.  Celenderis is a port on the main coastal sailing route, but seemingly not on the shortest postal route which passes through Tarsus further east and then follows a northwest route to Byzantium.  There is a longer Roman road that follows the coast through Celenderis and then around the coast of Asia Minor to Byzantium, but that hardly seems the route a postal carrier would use for an urgent and important dispatch from Herod to Antipater (who was presumed by Herod to still be in Rome and not sailing home).  Hence it seems quite fortuitous that a letter posted by Herod in Jerusalem to Antipater in Rome would be intercepted by Antipater sailing from Rome while temporarily in port at Celenderis.  Possibly the letter was being couriered by a messenger from Herod, which messenger might have been sent via sail routes at that time of year and the northwestward voyage would naturally intersect the southeastward voyage at Celenderis, but the timing that both Antipater and the letter would be in Celenderis remains quite coincidental.

  24. Mediterranean weather significantly reduces sailing from early November to early March, and is risky from late September to through October.  Regarding the chronology oriented around the March 23rd eclipse and Julian reckoning, Herod's messenges can easily obtain summer passage.  However, for the chronology oriented around the September 15th eclipse and Julian reckoning (as well as Tishri and Nisan reckoned chronologies), Herod's messengers would depart on a 55-73 day northwestward bound sea voyage in mid-Octoberwhich would entail completing the latter half of the voyage in November when sailing conditions generally close the Mediterranean.  Because notifying Augustus of the outcome of Antipater's trial and of conspirators in the very household of Augustus, the messenger would be on official business and would qualify to use the privileges of an official postal courier, which would include fresh animals at each station (essential to completing the journey in a reasonable time).  Herod may have had such diplomatic privileges or possibly Varus arranged for them prior to leaving for Antioch.  So even though Mediterranean sailing will have closed and assuming no ship would undertake the winter voyage, Herod's messengers will have reached Augustus in Rome some 48-56 days later (including an extra day from Jerusalem to Caesarea). See also Ancient Mediterranean travel between Rome and Jerusalem for additional background.

  25. Herod initially had willed his entire kingdom to Antipater.  But after Antipater's treachery and slaying, Herod then willed his entire kingdom to Antipas out of hatred for Archelaus and Philip (Ant. 17.6.1) seemingly in late 5 B.C., and then prior to his death in early 4 B.C. Herod changed his will again making Archelaus sole heir (Ant. 17.8.1).  But Antipas and Philip contested Herod's will, and Augustus decided to split Herod's kingdom giving Archelaus one half (an ethnarchy) and Antipas and Philip one fourth (a tetrarchy) each.

  26. Josephus describes a theater [θέατρον Ant. 17.6.3] and hippodrome [τὸν ἱππόδρομον Ant. 17.10.2] at Jerusalem, and an amphitheater [ἀμφιθεάτρῳ Wars 1.33.8] and hippodrome [ἱππόδρομον Wars 1.33.6, Ant. 17.6.5, 17.8.2] at Jericho.

    At Jericho, a hippodrome with an amphitheater have been excavated near Herod's palaces: 

    North of the palace complex, at Tell es־Samarat, is the site of the hippodrome (fig. 20).  The structure consists of a racecourse 320 m long and 85 m wide, surrounded by walls.  Its long axis points toward the Herodian palace complex to the south.  A theatral area is at the north, adjoining one of the narrow ends of the hippodrome.  There seems to have been no scene building, so it appears that the “theater,” the only evidence of seats at the hippodrome, was a viewing area for the races.  Behind, or north, of this structure is a square (70 by 70 m) building on an artificial platform 8-12 m high, which perhaps supported a peristyle, possibly a gymnasium.  The complex is dated to the Herodian period based on its short time of use and the architectural decoration.  It may have been the locale for otherwise-unknown Jericho games.  Since the amphitheater and hippodrome at Jericho are linked in Josephus’s account, the theatral area may be what Josephus called the amphitheater, for which there is no other evidence.  The complex is a unique and enigmatic collection of structures, and it is not astonishing that Josephus’s account is unclear. [pp. 112, 173-174]

    Duane Roller, The Building Program of Herod the Great,
    University of California Press (1998)

    The hippodrome, theater and amphitheater, to my mind should be identified as Tell es־Samarat117 and the area immediately to its south, located ca. 1.5 km to the north of Tulul Abu el־’Alayiq, the location of the Hasmonaean and Herodian winter palaces,118 and 600 m southwest of ancient Jericho (Tell es-Sultan), on the south bank of Wadi el-Maijar (Plate 12).  Tell es-Samarat has the shape of an ordinary tell but its southern side resembles the cavea of a theater.  Immediately to the south of this cavea-like slope, one can discern, mainly on aerial photographs, a level area whose shape resembles a track for horse and chariot races.119 [pp. 74-75]

    Ehud Netzer, The Architecture of Herod The Great Builder,
    Mohr Siebeck (2006)

    However neither a stone theater nor hippodrome have yet to be found at Jerusalem, though it has been argued the Jerusalem theater was a temporary structure likely built of wood and hence decayed or dismantled without leaving a trace of its existence:

    … the [stone] seats found by Reich and Billig in Jerusalem cannot be used as an argument for a Herodian stone theater in Jerusalem.  Instead, it is much more likely that they stem from a second- or third-century building. [p. 293]

    … Their [two ornamented bone disks] identification as theater tickets, and thus as an indirect reference to a permanent theater in Second Temple Jerusalem, can certainly be ruled out because both pieces (as E. Alfoldi-Rosenbaum showed for the entire group) were clearly used as playing stone pieces for a board game and have nothing at all to do with the theater.  In summary, we can say that we have neither a direct nor an indirect reference to a stone theater building or a permanent amphitheater during the Herodian period in Jerusalem. [p. 293-294]

    If one therefore presumes that Herod had a theater and an amphitheater built in Jerusalem only as temporary wooden constructions, then a number of problems are solved:

    a. the lack of archaeological evidence for the buildings;
    b. the silence of literary sources after the first mention of the buildings;
    c. the emphasis of the stone construction of the Herodian theater of Caesarea;
    d. the two-time theater construction under Agrippa I and Agrippa II in Berytos. [p. 298]

    According to the present status of the sources available to us, there is no sufficient indication that Herod the Great built a permanent theater and a permanent amphitheater in Jerusalem.  Everything we can derive from the sources speaks for the fact that Herod erected temporary wooden facilities for the contests dedicated to the emperor, which did not last longer than the games.  In the Jerusalem of Jesus’ day, there were no longer a theater and an amphitheater. [p. 299]

    Achim Lichtenberger, "Jesus and the Theater in Jerusalem"
    Jesus and Archaeology, ed. James H. Charlesworth, Eerdmans (2006) pp. 283-299


    Wooden theatres and amphitheatres were very common in Rome during the Late Republic and even during the Early Empire.  This was the early stage in the development of the Roman theatre.3  According to Vitruvius (De Arch. V5.7, written in 16-13 BCE [Bieber 1961:186]), Rome's public theatres in his time - the age of Augustus and Herod - were of wood.  The attitude of the Romans to stone theatres - permanent structures - differed from that of the Greeks.  Tacitus (Annals XIV20) said that in earlier times, people watched the shows standing, so that they might not spend entire days in idleness.  But even when seats were already permitted, at the end of the third century BCE, it was prohibited for the auditorium to be of stone, and at the end of the shows and the festival the structure was dismantled. [p. 233]

    The Roman architectural reality described above suggests that in Herodian times the construction of a stone theatre was the exception; most Roman theatres were still made of wood. Against this background, we can properly understand why Josephus, citing Nicholaus of Damascus, the court historian of Herod, found it appropriate to praise Herod by noting that the Herodian theatre in Caesarea was of stone (Ant. XV9.6 [341]). This might sound strange, unless the first theatre erected by Herod 18 years earlier in Jerusalem was not of stone but of wood. His statement can be properly understood in the light of contemporary practice at Rome.  Another indication that this was indeed the case can be found in the description of the decoration of the Jerusalem theatre, seemingly pertaining to the scaenae fions, which also continued above and around the auditorium.  These decorations were trophies (τρόπαια) of gold and silver, apparently shields and bounty stands on which body armour, made as a decorative envelope set on wooden skeletons (τά ξύλα), was hung.  These motifs were among the most popular throughout the Augustan empire.  Were the theatre made of stone, one would expect decorations of stone relief, instead of precious metals over a wooden skeleton. [p. 235-236]

    The transformation evident in the structure of the Herodian theatres during the period of c. 18 years that elapsed between the construction of the wooden theatre in Jerusalem and the stone theatre in Caesarea parallels a transformation that had occurred in Rome.  [p .237]

    If Herod's theatre in Jerusalem was indeed a temporary wooden structure, it would be easier to explain how it disappeared from the urban landscape without leaving any trace or memory.  In this case, the stone theatre seats found near Robinson's Arch (if originating in a theatre) should be attributed to the Hadrianic structure, when Roman theatres had already become monumental structures throughout the empire. [p. 237-238]

    Joseph Patrich, "Herod's theater in Jerusalem: A new proposal"
    Israel Exploration Journal, 52 (2002),  pp. 231-239

  27. Two months are assumed between Augustus' receipt of Herod's letters accusing Acme of conspiring with Antipater and Augustus now killing Acme for her disloyalty.  It is further assumed that if Augustus had now reached his judgment of Acme, he likely will have also reached his judgment of Antipater and commensurately permits Herod to sentence Antipater however Herod chooses.  Accordingly, now Herod's ambassadors in Rome mail Augustus' decision to Herod.  Essentially, it is assumed that Augustus weighed Herod's accusations and evidence for two months before sentencing Acme to death.

  28. Barnes has traced the movements of Gaius Caesar; from his being appointed to Augustus' consilium to his departing Rome early spring of 1 B.C. to entering his consulship in Syria A.D. 1, demonstrating Gaius Caesar could not have been present in Rome during the summer of 1 B.C. when Archelaus, Nicolaus and Antipas would have been pleading to Augustus about Herod's will if Herod had died in 1 B.C.:

    The statement, however, possesses great point if the occasion was the first on which Gaius sat on his father's consilium).  In that case, the date is 5 B.C. or very soon afterwards: it was in 5 B.C. that the Senate voted that the young prince should participate in public business.1 [p. 208]

    1 Res Gestae, 14; Dio, lv. 9. 2 ff.

    Gaius was in Rome in the summer of 2 B.C., and then went to the Danube frontier.2  From there he was despatched to the east;3 and Tiberius met him on Chios or Samos, with abject obeisance.4  After going to Egypt and conducting an expedition into Arabia,5 he passed through Palestine in time to enter upon his consulate on 1 January A.D. 1 in Antioch.6  Although temporal indications are completely lacking for Gaius' movements between his being in Rome in 2 B.C. and his presence in Syria in A.D. 1, the time needed for the operations on the Danube and in Arabia requires him to have left Rome in early spring 1 B.C. at the very latest.  That he did not return to Rome from the northern frontier before going to Egypt seems to be indicated by the fact that he travelled there by way of the Ionian islands: the voyager from Rome was carried very swiftly by the prevailing winds direct from the straits of Messina to Alexandria.7  Since Archelaus and Antipas left Judaea for Italy almost immediately after a Passover,8 they will have arrived in Rome at the end of May or even later.9

    2 Dio, lv. 10. 6 f., 10. 17. Cf. in general P.I.R. 2 J 216.
    3 Dio, lv. 10. 18. ff; Orosius, vii. 3· 4; Pliny, Natural History, vi. 141.
    4 Dio, lv. 10. 19 (Chios); Suetonius, Tiberius, 12. 2 (Samos); cf. Velleius Paterculus, ii. 101. 1.
    5Pliny, Natural History, ii. 168; vi. 141, 160; xii. 55 f.; xxxii. 10. Velleius, ii. 101. 1 predictably dismisses Gaius' activities in Egypt as tourism.
    6 Suetonius, Augustus, 93; Dio, lv. 10a. 4; I.L.S. 140. It is not recorded that Gaius had reached Syria before 1 January A.D. 1: but could the prince have considered entering on his consulate elsewhere than in Antioch?
    7L. Casson, 'The Isis and her voyage', Trans. Am. Phil. Ass. lxxxi (1950), pp. 43 ff.
    8War, ii. 10 ff.; Ant. xvii. 213 ff.
    9 L. Casson, 'Speed under sail of ancient ships', Trans. Am. Phil. Ass.Jxuii (1951), pp. 136 ff.; A. H. M. Jones, The Later Roman Empire 284-602 (1964), ii, pp. 842 ff., list ancient voyages whose duration is known. [p. 208]

    Timothy D. Barnes, "The Date of Herod's Death"
    Journal of Theological Studies, vol XIX, iss 1 (1968) pp. 204-209

    But Andrew Steinman disputes Barne's reconstruction of Gaius' movements:

    45) Barnes, “The Date of Herod’s Death,” 207-209 argues that since Archelaus could not have arrived in Rome until May or later, and since Josephus reports that Gaius Caesar was present in Rome when Archelaus was before Augustus (War 2.25 [2.2.4]; Antiquities 17.229 [17.9.5]), this could not have taken place in mid-1 BCE.  According to Barnes, Gaius had to have left Rome in early 1 BCE.  However, Barnes’ reconstruction of Gaius’ movements depends on a highly speculative synchronization of the reports about Gaius in Dio, Orosius, Pliny and Suetonius.  Not only does he not consider whether or not all of these sources are completely accurate in their reports about Gaius, but he must admit that there are no temporal indicators of Gaius’ movements.  In addition, he tries to argue (n. 6) that Gaius may have arrived in Syria earlier than January 1, 1 CE, but has only supposition to substantiate his claim.  In addition, Barnes argues that this had to happen when Gaius was first made one of Augustus’ counselors, and he again cites Dio, who notes that Gaius was introduced into the Senate in 5 BCE.  However, Dio is noting when Gaius entered the Senate, and his notice does not say anything about Gaius being invited to be among a select group of counselors as Josephus describes. [p. 14]

    Andrew E. Steinmann, "When did Herod the Great reign?"
    Novum testamentum, vol 51 (2009) pp. 1-29

  29. April (~Sivan) 1 B.C. is nearly 1 year too late for Philip to inherit his tetrarchy which includes the territory where he founded Caesarea Paneas (also called Caesarea Philippi):

    The lower time limit for the era of the city is fixed by the coins of Macrinus and Diadumenianus dated KC (year 220): Y. Meshorer, “The Coins of Caesarea Paneas”, INJ 8, 1984/5, 53 nn. 29-31.  Macrinus was defeated by Elagabalus on June 8, 218 AD so that the latest calendar year in which coins with his portrait and that of his son could have been minted is 218/9 AD by the spring reckoning.  This makes 2/1 BC, counted from spring to spring, the latest possible ‘year 1’ of the city.  Since Philip could not have founded cities before he had any territory to govern, he must have been in possession of his tetrarchy by that date.  However, if Herod died after January 9, 1 BC, the larger part of the year 2/1 BC would have still belonged to his reign.  For the rest of this year, until Nisan 1, 1 BC, the king’s sons, including Philip, would have been preparing to go to Rome in order to get the emperor’s confirmation. [p. 81, note 29]

    Alla Kushnir-Stein, "Another look at Josephus' evidence for date of Herod's Death",
    Scripta Classsica Israelica, vol 14 (1995) pp. 73-86

  30. When/What authority did Tiberius have over Judea?

    The evidence for reckoning Tiberius' reign from the death of Augustus in A.D. 14 is:

    The evidence for reckoning Tiberius' reign from his co-reign with Augustus in A.D. 12 is:

    As with many reigns (e.g. Hebrew kings, Herod the Great) their beginning is often reckoned from different events and by different calendars, and Tiberius seems no exception.  His reign as Emperor of Rome can be reckoned from either his co-reign with Augustus in A.D. 12 or his appointment as Head of State subsequent to Augustus death in A.D. 14.  Generally it seems his years were reckoned factually, not on calendar years.

    The point is not to argue which reckoning is correct; they both are.  The point is that both reckonings seemed in use, likely dependent on the viewpoint of the reckoner: Romans and Greeks ostensibly being more accustomed to reckoning the next reign from the death of the former emperor, while Jews and Judeans (e.g. Josephus and Luke) ostensibly having been subjected to Tiberius' authority upon his co-reign with Augustus reckoning it two years earlier.   But reckoning Tiberius' reign from A.D. 12 reconciles best with Josephus and the events before, during and after the life of Jesus Christ.

  31. Herod Philip, the Tetrarch, dies after reigning 37 years in Tiberius' 20th or 22nd year, depending on how Tiberius reign is reckoned (Ant. 18.4.6), while Vitellius was consul (Ant. 18.4.5).  Passover was months earlier (Ant.18.4.3). Vitellius was consul (with Persico) in A.U.C. 787 (A.D. 34).

    Vitellius was consul (with Persico) in A.U.C. 787 (A.D. 34), and Augustus died August 19 A.D. 14, a difference of 20 years.  Using A.D. 34 as an absolute date, and working backwards:

    In all of Josephus works, only Ant. 18.4.6 cites a year of Tiberius.  Neither does Josephus record how long Tiberius reigned.

    Tiberius' 20th year would be reckoned from Augustus' death in A.D. 14.  However, David Beyer has found other Greek copies of Josephus in which Ant. 18.4.6 reads "twenty-second year of Tiberius" for the death of Philip after reigning 37 years, which reconciles with reckoning Tiberius' years from his co-reign with Augustus beginning in A.D. 12. 

    All 55 manuscripts examined by Beyer attest to Philip's reign ending in Tiberius' 20th or 22nd year, though the length of Philip's reign varied inconsistently.  Of the 22 manuscripts recording Philip's reign as 37 years, 3 of those manuscripts also recorded Tiberius' year as his 22nd rather than 20th.

    Highlighted below are Beyer's variants demonstrating Tiberius' year as his 20th or 22nd and Philip's reign as 37 years:

    [examined by Beyer in the British Museum]:

    Stage 5. Printed Editions (20-37)

    All texts bear the 20th year unless stated otherwise.


    4516 h 2


    German text

    >22nd yr=)




    Greek text





    Latin text





    Italian text

    >22nd yr=)


    1229 f10





    200 d 2

    Anvers ?









    c. 38.i.11.










































    Italian text

    >22nd yr=)









    Greek & Latin texts










    Greek & Latin












    [examined by Beyer in the Library of Congress (note the 4th column is Tiberius' year-Philip's year)]:


    Hain 9451





    Incunabula x.J83





    Hain 9454

    1480? 1486?









    Hain 9453





    D S116 J5





    Rosenwald Coll #1071





               PA 4223 .A264


    D S116 .J86B3





    D S116 J814





    [pp. 92, 93]

    David Beyer, "Josephus Reexamined: Unraveling the Twenty-second Year of Tiberius," pp. 85-96, in
    Chronos, Kairos, Christos II: Chronological, Nativity, and Religious Studies in Memory of Ray Summers,
    ed. E. Jerry Vardaman. Mercer University Press: 1998

    Beyer erroneously omits counting in his summary the 3 entries from his 'stage 5 table' wherein Philip's reign is listed as 37 years in Tiberius' 22nd year.  Beyer did report other earlier manuscripts in which Tiberius' year was always his 22nd, but Philip's reign was listed as 22, 32 and 35 years.  Because the end of Philip's reign is fixed in A.D. 34 (when Vitellius was Consul), shorter reigns of 35, 32 and (implausibly) 22 years require he began later in 2 BC, A.D. 2 and A.D. 12 (respectively).

    Steinmann and Filmer's reliance on these multiple textual variations of the duration of Philip's reign to conclude that Philip's accession could have been 2 years (or more) later than 4 B.C. is mistaken.  Philip's reign ended when Vitellius was Consul, and only a reign of 37 years for Philip can reconcile with the reigns of Herod, Archelaus, Antipas and Tiberius.  However, Beyer's evidence of the two text variants in copies of Josephus recording Philip's reign ending when Vitellius was Consul in either Tiberius' 20th or 22nd year is entirely consistent with Tiberius' reign being reckoned from either his co-reign with Augustus (A.D. 12 A.D.) or his sole-reign upon Augustus' death (A.D. 14).

    Philip's appointment as tetrarch was made simultaneously with Archelaus' appointment as ethnarch and Antipas' appointment as tetrarch, Augustus having made all three appointments when he settled the estate of Herod within months of Herod's death.  Antipas' reign of 43 years (enumerated on coins) ended (Ant. 18.7.2) in Gaius Caligula's 2nd year (Ant. 18.6.11), which requires Antipas' reign to have begun in 4 B.C.  Josephus reports Archelaus being banished in his 9th or 10th year (Wars 2.7.3 or Ant. 17.13.2 respectively) which banishment Dio dates to A.U.C. 759 which is A.D. 6 (Dio Rome 55.25.1, 55.27.6), which requires Archelaus' reign to have begun also in 4 B.C.  Augustus appointed Philip to his tetrarchy at the same time, 4 B.C., from which a 37-year reign ends when Vitellius was consul, all consistent with Josephus' reports (Ant. 18.4.5-6).

    The atheist researcher Richard Carrier reasonably criticizes Beyer's statistical analysis and neglect to examine the manuscripts held in France and Italy, though Carrier seems prematurely dismissive of Tiberius' reign having different reckonings (see Richard Carrier, The Date of the Nativity in Luke (6th ed., 2011).  Carrier argues that the critical editions of Josephus were composed by scholars such as Niese, Naber, and Thackeray who also examined many manuscripts to select the most reliable, and they determined the 'correct' text should read Philip's reign ended "in the 20th year of Tiberius after 37 years".  Regardless, it would be probative to know if these (generally deemed best) manuscripts held in France and Italy similarly showed variations in Tiberius' year as either his 20th or 22nd, and in corresponding reign(s) of Philip.

    Beyer doesn't mention examining manuscripts for any variations in the immediate prior passage (Ant. 18.4.5) wherein Josephus reports Vitellius was consul, which in turn "double dates" the end of Philip's reign (and Tiberius' 20th or 22nd year) to A.D. 34 when the Roman Consuls were Paullus Fabius Persicus and L. Vitellius.

    The ethnarch ("ruler of half") and two tetrarch ("ruler of fourth") appointments were made in 4 B.C.  The only question is, when Philip's reign ended was Tiberius in his 20th or 22nd year?  Both:  Tiberius was in his 20th year reckoned from when Augustus died in A.D. 14 and in his 22nd year reckoned from when Tiberius co-reigned with Augustus in A.D. 12.  The early copyists didn't "err" when writing Tiberius' 22nd year; Josephus (as well as Luke and coins minted by Gratus and Pilate) imply from a Judean viewpoint, that Tiberius' was reckoned as emperor from his co-reign with Augustus.  Neither did other and later copyists "err"; rather they (possibly from a Roman or Greek viewpoint) seem to have deliberately emended Josephus to Tiberius' 20th year as reckoned from Augustus' death.  It wouldn't be the first time copyists (and historians) have emended dates thinking to reconcile them with what history should have been. 

    Lastly, it must be noted that Josephus did publish a later and enlarged edition of Antiquities in the second century.  A different year of Tiberius could have been introduced then by Josephus himself, possibly as a correction to his Greek assistants (synergoi) who are believed to have been largely responsible for the original text of books 17-19.

    Philip's reign ended in both Tiberius' 20th and 22nd years, depending on how Tiberius' reign is reckoned.  But regardless, Philip was tetrarch for 37 years ending when Vitellius was consul, and hence began in 4 B.C. as did the corequisite reigns of the other tetrarch and ethnarch.  Three years later upon the death of Tiberius, Caius Caesar became Roman Emperor and appointed Agrippa I as king over Philip's tetrarchy of Gaulanitis & Trachonitis (Ant. 18.6.10).

    Herod's kingdom (the whole) was divided by Augustus into one half given to Archelaus (an ethnarchy) and two fourths (two tetrarchy's) one each given to Antipas and Philip.  Philip's forth was not appointed years after Archelaus' half and Antipas' fourth; the whole was divided completely and appointed simultaneously by Augustus in 4 B.C.

  32. The reign of Herod Antipas is accepted as 43 years based on the evidence of coins.  There was one coin found in 1674 at Jericho which date was seemingly misread as Antipas' 44th and 45th years, but this 'find' was never authenticated.  Maltiel-Gerstenfeld mentions two coins allegedly dated ΜΔ (Antipas' 44th year) but his British Museum Catalog cite does not show such coins, though the Rafaeli cite has not been checked:

    Here I must mention two coins attributed to the year 44 (ΜΔ) of Herod Antipas’ reign (39 A.D. ?): BMC no. 13, p. 122 and: S. Rafaeli, Coins of the Jews, Table 78 no. 1 (Hebrew).  From the point of view of chronology, such issues are possible.  However, it may simply be the case that until now no specimen with this date has appeared.  Yet I am convinced that in the course of the many excavations under way now in the Galilee, more coins minted by the last tetrarchs and kings of the Herodian dynasty will be discovered.

    [p.12: G.F. Hill, A Catalogue of the Greek Coins in the British Museum: Palestine, London, 1914]
    [p. 237: Rafaeli, S. Coins of the Jews: History of Jewish Coinage. Jerusalem: 1913 (Hebrew).]

    [p. 142]

    Jacob Maltiel-Gerstenfeld, 260 years of ancient Jewish coins: A catalogue
    Kol Printing Service Ltd (1982)

    Barnes also cites the British Museum Catalog and A. Reifenberg.  Reifenberg cites Schürer whose rejection of the unauthenticated coins (extending Antipas' reign to 44 and 45 years) remain largely uncontested.

    Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and the Peraea, lost his tetrarchy during the second year of the reign of the emperor Gaius (March 38 to March 39),3 while coins survive which were minted in his forty-third year as ruler.4  …  Archelaus, Antipas, and Philip reckoned their reigns either from their father's decease or from Augustus' confirmation of his last will.

    3 Ant. xviii. 252; cf. 238, 256; xix. 351.
    4 Br. Mus. Cat., Palestine, pp. xcvii, 230, no. 10; A. Reifenberg, Ancient Jewish Coins2 (1947), pp. 19, 45

    [p. 205]

    Timothy D. Barnes, "The Date of Herod's Death"
    Journal of Theological Studies, Volume XIX, Issue 1 (1968) p. 204-209

    Reifenberg, Ancient Jewish Coins (1947), p 19 cites Schürer for a full discussion and rejection of the 44 and 45 year coins of Antipas, and Schürer details the "coin evidence" for Antipas' reign of 43 years:

    2. Of the coins of Antipas of A.D. 43 (ΜΓ) there are at present three known examples (Madden, Coins of the Jews, 1881, p. 121 sq.; two according to Lenormant, Trésor de Numismatique, p. 125, pl. LIX. n. 19 and 20; one according to de Sauley, Mélanges de Numismatique, t. ii. 1877, p. 92). Their existence is thus put beyond question.  But great difficulties are caused by a coin with the supposed date of A.D. 44 (ΜΔ).  It has been described not only by the little to be depended upon Vaillant, but also in a manuscript account of travels by Galand, who found it at Jericho in A.D. 1674 (communicated by Fréret, Mémoires de l'Académie des inscr. et belles-lettres, t. xxi. 1754, pp. 292 sq.).  Sanclemente, pp. 315-319, and Eckhel, Doctrina Num. iii. 487, have both occupied themselves with this discussion.  Both conjecture that the date has been incorrectly read (it may rather have been ΛΔ = 34).  Compare pro and contra also : Ideler, p. 391; Madden, History of Jewish Coinage, p. 99; Coins of the Jews, p. 122; Riess, 1880, pp. 55-57; Sattler, Das Jahr. 749; Memain, p. 448 f.; Kellner, p. 176.  Eckhel's reasons are very convincing; he points especially to this, that the coin described by Galand, according to its other peculiarities, corresponds to those of the year 34, but not to those of the year 43.   The only point of difficulty arises from the statement made by Fréret at p. 293 in reference to Galand's description: "les lettres de l'époque ΜΔ sont très-nettement figurées dans son manuscrit et absolument séparées l'une de l'autre."  The matter therefore continues undecided.  But even if the date 44 be the correct reading, still the death of Herod cannot in any case be placed earlier than A.U.C. 750. [p. 466]

    Emil Schürer, History of the Jewish people in the time of Jesus Christ, div1 vol1,
    Translated by Rev. John MacPherson, Charles Scribner's Sons (1891)

    and his [Antipas] coins, just like those of old Herod, have upon them no image.16

    16 On the coins of Herod Antipas, compare Eckhel, iii. 486-490; Mionnet, v. 5G6; Lenormant, Trésor de Numismatique, p. 125, pi. lix. n. 16-20; Cavedoni, Bibliiche Numismatik, i. 53, 58-60; Levy, Geschichte der jüd. Münzen, p. 80; Madden, History of Jewish Coinnge, pp. 95-99; De Sauley, Numismatic Chronicle, 1871, p. 254; Madden, Numismatic Chronicle, 1875, pp. 47-49; De Sauley, Melanges de Numismatique, t. ii. 1877, p. 92; Madden, Coins of the Jews, 1881, pp. 118-122 (this gives the most complete list).—The coins fall into two classes:  1. The one class has the inscription ΗΡΩΔΟΥ ΤΕΤΡΑΡΧΟΥ, with the number of the year, 33, 34, 37, 38; on the other side the name of the city, ΤΙΒΕΡΙΑΣ.  2. The other class has the inscription ΗΡΩΔΗΣ ΤΕΤΡΑΡΧΗΣ; on the other side, ΓΑΙΩ ΚΑΙΟΑΡΙ ΓΕΡΜΑΝΙΚΩ.  Of this second class there are only three examples which can be with certainty identified, all with the year number ΜΓ or 43 = A.D. 39-40.  Since this was most probably the last year of Herod Antipas, the existence of the year number 44, which some prefer to read, is extremely questionable.  One of the two who contend for this date, Vaillant, is generally not to be depended on; the other, Freret, describes a coin (in the Memoires de I'Academic des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, alte serie, t. xxi. 1754, p. 293, according to a manuscript by Erland) which had on one side the inscription ΗΡΩΔΟΥ ΤΕΤΡΑΡΧΟΥ (sic), while the inscription on the other side was quite illegible.  The coin seems therefore to have belonged to the first class, and it may be reasonably conjectured that instead of ΜΔ, 44, should be read ΑΔ, 34.  Compare, however, what is said in vol. i. p. 465.—The coins of Antipas, with the name of the emperor, without his image, occupy a middle position between those of Herod the Great, which have neither name nor image of the emperor, and those of Philip, which have both. [pp. 20-21]

    Seeing then that the deposition of Antipas was closely connected with the appearance of Agrippa, it would seem that it must have taken place, if not in A.D. 38, at least in A.D. 39. In fact, it can be proved that it actually occurred not earlier and not later than the summer of A.D. 39. Not earlier : for the forty - third year of Antipas, of which we have coins extant, only began with 1st Nisan 792 A.U.C, A.D. 39.  But also not later.  Caligula was absent from Rome from autumn A.D. 39 till 31st August A.D. 40 on an expedition to Gaul, Germany, and Britain (Dio Cassius, lix. 21-25 ; Suetonius, Caligula, 17, 43-49 : his entry into Rome "natali suo," i.e. 31st August, see Suetonius, Caligula, 8).  Seeing then that the deposition of Antipas took place while Caligula was at Baiae, and seeing also, according to Josephus, Antiq. xix.8.2, that it cannot have occurred after the German campaign, it must have happened before that campaign, i.e. before autumn A.D. 39. [p.37]

    —On the coins of Herod bearing what is supposed to be the year number 44, which would require an extension of his reign down to A.D. 40, see above, vol. i. p. 466, and the present vol. pp. 20, 21. Were the existence of this coin well established, we should be obliged, with Lewin, to assign the deposition of Antipas, not to the period of Caligula's residence at Baiae, but to the period of his Gallic campaign, and so to assume a serious error in Josephus. [p. 38]

    Emil Schürer, History of the Jewish people in the time of Jesus Christ, div1 vol2
    Translated by Rev. John MacPherson, Charles Scribner's Sons (1891)

  33. Herod's age can not be analyzed exactly as there is no date for his birth, Josephus is the only source, and Josephus gives Herod's age as "15" when appointed governor of Galilee (~47 B.C.) and about "70" near death (~5 B.C.). Both numbers can't be correct because 42 years elapsed between 47 and 5 B.C., and 15 years of age + 42 years yields an age of 57 near death, not 70. Most scholars therefore assume the "70" year age near death is better attested and thus the "15" year age when appointed governor is an error, which is emended to "25" years of age when Herod was appointed governor of Galilee, ostensibly assuming Herod's age when appointed governor was written as ΕΙ (epsilon iota = "15") wherein the Greek letter Ε epsilon (= "5") is correct but the error was the Greek letter Ι iota (= "10") should have been the Greek letter Κ kappa (= "20"), i.e. written ΕΚ (epsilon kappa = "25")

Excepting Javascript applets and "fair use" excerpts of other author's works,
content on this site, "Theos Sphragis" by Charles D. Davis,
is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Creative Commons License

Kindly address inquires to: Charles D. Davis <bibleberean@gmail.com>
(last updated May 6, 2015)