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Old Testament Regnal Year Reckoning

Reckoning of a king's regnal years varied depending on what system was used and what calendar year was observed.

The following table shows how various prophets and kingdoms reckoned the Regnal Years of kings according to either the accession or non-accession year system ("R/Y" columns) and what Calendar Year was observed ("C/Y" columns). Note, the table portrays the approximate sequence and relationship of the various kings but it does not intend to show the exact chronological reign of these kings.

The information in the table and discussion below has has been excerpted and compiled from the work of Finegan1 (who cites Thiele and McFall) and McFall2:

  1. Jack Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology Finegan, Jack Handbook of Biblical Chronology, rev, Hendrickson Publishers, 1999; pp 18-33, 246-261
  2. Leslie McFall
Highlighting of regnal year reckoning by:
Accession Year is in      , Non-Accession year is in      , Nisan/Nisanu Calendar Year is in      , Tishri Calendar Year is in     

 
  Jer, Zec, Eze
  Dan, Ezr, Neh
   Judah (S.K.)
   Israel (N.K.)
   Mesopotamia
Period 
R/Y 
C/Y 
R/Y 
C/Y 
R/Y 
C/Y 
King 
R/Y 
C/Y 
King 
R/Y 
C/Y 
King 
 
                         
 
         Acc  Tishri  Solomon            
 
                         
931-848 BC 
         Acc  Tishri  Rehoboam  Non  Nisan  Jeroboam      
 
         Acc  Tishri  Abijam  Non  Nisan  Nadab      
 
         Acc  Tishri  Asa  Non  Nisan  Baasha      
 
         Acc  Tishri    Non  Nisan  Elah      
 
         Acc  Tishri    Non  Nisan  Zimri      
 
         Acc  Tishri    Non  Nisan  Tibni      
 
         Acc  Tishri    Non  Nisan  Omri      
 
         Acc  Tishri  Jehoshaphat  Non  Nisan  Ahab      
 
                         
848-798 BC 
         Non  Tishri  Jehoram  Non  Nisan  Ahaziah      
 
         Non  Tishri  Ahaziah  Non  Nisan  Joram      
 
         Non  Tishri  Athaliah  Non  Nisan  Jehu  Acc  Nisanu  Shalmaneser III
 
         Non  Tishri  Joash  Non  Nisan  Jehoahaz/Jehoash  Acc  Nisanu  
 
                         
798-723 BC 
         Acc  Tishri  Amaziah  Acc  Nisan  Jehoash  Acc  Nisanu  
 
         Acc  Tishri  Azariah  Acc  Nisan  Jeroboam II  Acc  Nisanu  Tiglath-pileser III
 
         Acc  Tishri    Acc  Nisan  Zechariah  Acc  Nisanu  
 
         Acc  Tishri    Acc  Nisan  Shallum  Acc  Nisanu  
 
         Acc  Tishri    Acc  Nisan  Menahem  Acc  Nisanu  
 
         Acc  Tishri  Jotham  Acc  Nisan  Pekahiah  Acc  Nisanu  
 
         Acc  Tishri  Ahaz  Acc  Nisan  Pekah  Acc  Nisanu  Shalmaneser V
 
         Acc  Tishri  Hezekiah  Acc  Nisan  Hoshea  Acc  Nisanu  Sargon II
 
                         
697- 586 BC 
         Acc  Tishri  Manasseh        Acc  Nisanu  Sennecherib
 
         Acc  Tishri  Amon        Acc  Nisanu  Esarhaddon
 
 Acc  Nisan      Acc  Tishri  Josiah        Acc  Nisanu  
 
 Acc  Nisan      Acc  Tishri  Jehoahaz        Acc  Nisanu  Nabopolassar
 
 Acc  Nisan  Acc  Tishri  Acc  Tishri  Jehoiakim        Acc  Nisanu  Nebuchadnezzar
 
 Acc  Nisan  Acc  Tishri  Acc  Tishri  Jehoiachin        Acc  Nisanu  
 
 Acc  Nisan  Acc  Tishri  Acc  Tishri  Zedekiah        Acc  Nisanu  
 
                         

Different prophets and chroniclers reckoned a year of a king's rule differently. A year of a king's rule may or may not include the partial initial year in which the king ascended to the throne, and subsequent years are measured from the start of different calendar years, depending on the prophet's or chronicler's viewpoint.

Factual-year: A full year of a king's reign, reckoned from the actual accession to the anniversary of the same accession. The 1st year of reign begins on the day of the king's accession and the 2nd year begins exactly a year later.

Regnal-year: A full year of a king's reign (there are no 'partial' regnal years) as reckoned from calendar new year to end of calendar year. Regnal years coincide with calendar years:

But a regnal year can be reckoned by either the accession or non-accession method and also by different calendars (e.g. civil vs sacred):

Accession-year system: (used in Judea, Babylonia, Assyria, and Persia)

The portion of the year from the accession of the new king to the end of the then current calendar year (before "new calendar year" begins) is treated as the new king's "accession year" but is credited towards the expiring king's last regnal year. The new king's year 1 begins then with the new calendar year.

The new king is not credited with any of his "accession year", the entire calendar year being credited to the prior king, including that portion since the prior king expired.

The 1st regnal year begins after the new king's uncredited and uncounted "accession year" on the 1st day of the new calendar year after his accession, and subsequent regnal years thereafter begin on the 1st day of each new calendar year.

The accession-year system is sometimes called "postdating".

Non-accession-year system: (used in Judea, Egypt)

The portion of the year from the accession of the new king to the end of the then current calendar year (before the "new calendar year" begins) is treated as year 1 of the new king, and the expiring king is not credited with this calendar year as a regnal year (because he did not live out the full year on the throne).

The new king is credited with an entire 1st regnal year, even though reigning over only the portion since the prior King expired.

The 1st regnal year begins on the day of the king's accession, and the 2nd year begins on the 1st day of the new calendar year after his accession, and subsequent regnal years thereafter begin on the 1st day of each new calendar year.

The non-accession-year system is sometimes called "antedating".

King's who started and ended their reign within a single calendar year (e.g. "child-kings" who are quickly murdered) would not be credited with any regnal years because the next king who closed out the calendar year would be credited with reigning that year.

A major point of confusion long existed for Bible scholars because both the accession and non-accession reckoning systems were in use in Judea, and then exiled persons such as Daniel and Ezra would use the Jewish civil calendar while prophets such as Jeremiah, Zechariah and Ezekiel would use the Jewish sacred calendar. Edwin R. Thiele is largely credited with unraveling these different reckoning systems and Leslie McFall has further refined them into what is now called the "Thiele/McFall system".

Thiele/McFall system summary:

For the purposes of verifying fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy of 69-weeks, and the prophetic passages which bear on the post-exilic reconstruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, we are mainly concerned with how Daniel and Jeremiah (and Ezekiel who cites Daniel) reckoned the years of a King's reign. So, in summary;



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(last updated October 10, 2013)