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1 Kings 6:1 (KJV)

1 And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.

It is said that King Solomon started building the house of God after four hundred & eighty years after they left Egypt.

But if we follow the narration of Paul in Acts 13 we get different figures

Acts 13:17 (KJV)

17 The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it. 18 And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness. 19 And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot. 20 And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. 21 And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years. 22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.

If we add forty years of David's reign & solomon's three years of reign we get the figure of five hundred & seventy three years.

So how can we reconcile the above figures?

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  • The Septuagint has 440 years. I prefer this (even smaller) figure.
    – Lucian
    Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 21:41
  • Apparently, 450 years is the figure one gets when adding together all the time periods mentioned in Judges and First Samuel, spanning from the death of Joshua, recorded near the beginning of the Book of Judges, and ending with the seventh chapter of the First Book of Samuel, right before Saul is proclaimed king in the following two chapters. However, the judges reigned simultaneously over the various cities of Israel, as opposed to kings, which are usually only one at a time for any given state.
    – Lucian
    Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 22:45
  • New Jerome Commentary: "Apparently an awkward timing for whole sequence from v 17, including the 400 years before Exodus. (Gen 15.13)" Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 15:30
  • New Jerome Commentary: "Apparently an awkward timing for whole sequence from v 17, including the 400 years before Exodus. (Gen 15.13)" Eugene Faulstich considers Septuagint corrupt Adds 100 years to many of ages of patriarchs, If Sept were accurate, there would be many of pre flood men still alive after the flood of Noah. "There would of course, be nothing strange in St. Paul's following the same traditional chronology as Josephus, even where it differed from that of the present Hebrew text of the Old Testament." Ellicott's Commentary Bible Hub. I'm with Gene. Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 15:37

8 Answers 8

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As noted in the question, Paul's reciting of the history of the nation includes periods of time which when added together total 573 years:

Led by God in the wilderness  40 years
Given to judges              450 years
Ruled by Saul                 40 years
Ruled by David                40 years
Ruled by Solomon               3 years
  Total                      573 years

The writer of Kings gives a specific period of time after the people of Israel came out of Egypt when Solomon began construction of the Temple:

In the four hundred and eightieth year after the people of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, he began to build the house of the LORD. (1 Kings 6:1) [ESV]

As noted in the question, Paul's account of this period of history is 93 years longer:

Paul - Acts   573 years  
1 Kings 6:1   480 years  
  Difference   93 years

The 93 year difference corresponds to five separate periods which occurred during Paul's 450 years of judges. During those 450 years, Israel went through many cycles of following after false gods; being oppressed by foreign powers, before calling out to the LORD who sent a deliverer.

Five of the periods were so bad, the LORD sold, or gave His people over to someone else:

Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia. And the people of Israel served Cushan-rishathaim eight years. (Judges 3:8)

And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-hagoyim. 3 Then the people of Israel cried out to the LORD for help, for he had 900 chariots of iron and he oppressed the people of Israel cruelly for twenty years. (Judges 4:2-3)

The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD gave them into the hand of Midian seven years. (Judges 6:1)

So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of the Philistines and into the hand of the Ammonites, and they crushed and oppressed the people of Israel that year. For eighteen years they oppressed all the people of Israel who were beyond the Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead. (Judges 10:7-8)

And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, so the LORD gave them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years. (Judges 13:1)

These periods add up to 93 years:

Sold to Cushan-rishathiam         8 years
Sold to Jaban king of Canaan     20 years
Given to Midian                   7 years
Sold to Philistines & Ammonites  18 years
Given to Philistines             40 years
  Total                          93 years

The "missing" 93 years can be reconciled by subtracting the years the Israelites "belonged" to a foreigner because the LORD had sold them, or given them to over to be ruled by someone who was not a descendant of Israel.

There are two ways to view the length of time between the LORD bringing the people out of Egypt and the beginning of the building of Temple. One way is to simply consider the total amount of time. This is Paul's 573 years. The second way is to count only those years which the Israelites were serving an Israelite chosen by the LORD. This is the writer of 1 Kings 450 years.

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  • 1
    It is obvious there are periods in Judges where the LORD is not their God - they are going after other gods. So there will be a time in the future where Jeremiah applies to the nation, but I don't think it requires the LORD counting every year as part of an unbroken period of time, which is at the heart of the OP's question. Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 21:10
  • 1
    Why did you not include Judges 3:14 in your list ?
    – Lucian
    Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 23:39
  • 1
    @Lucian The periods included are either sold or given away: Sold (3:8, 4:2, 10:7) וַֽיִּמְכְּרֵ֗ם gave them into the hand (6:1, 13:1) וַיִּתְּנֵ֧ם The period under Eglon (3:14) can be excluded since it is described differently: served וַיַּעַבְד֤וּ with no mention of being sold or given away. Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 6:16
  • 1
    @RevelationLad: Seems rather random.
    – Lucian
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 7:45
  • 1
    Judges 2:14 includes Eglon to the group, just as Judges 2:16;18,3:15 includes Ehud to the group of judges.
    – user21676
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 21:40
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Aside from a tallied 574 years between the Exodus and the fourth year of Solomon, yet the time period between Sihon/Og and the end of the Joshuaic war must be accounted for(Acts 13:19), which sum amounts to 7 years according to the account of Caleb; Caleb was 38 at the Exodus, for two years later he was 40, at the valley of Eschol[Num 10:11-13{2nd year of the Exodus};33{3 days later},12:15{7 days later},13:21-26{Eschol};30{Caleb's courage},32:8-9{Kadeshbarnea = Eschol}, Deu 2:14;24{38 years from Eschol to Sihon}, Jos 14:7 = Caleb 40 years old at Kadeshbarnea/Eschol in the 2nd year of the Exodus], and so forty years later after leaving Egypt he turned 78(38 years after Kadeshbarnea - Deu 2:14), at the border of Sihon king of the Amorites[Deu 2:14;24]; seven years later he claimed to be 85 years old, at the end of the Joshuaic war(Jos 14:10). So the total number of years between the Exodus and the 4th year of Solomon(i.e. when the 480th year total was presented - 1Ki 6:1), is 40 years in the wilderness, plus 7 years till the end of the Joshuaic war, plus 450 years of judges(which includes Eli's reign), plus 40 years of Saul, plus 40 years of David, plus 4 years of Solomon, which equals 581 years. Now 581 minus 480 is 101 years; that means at least 101 years out of the 581 must not be counted for some reason to get to 480, which reason is attributed to the years where Israel was considered not 'free', that is, the time periods in the book of Judges where they were ruled by their oppressors. The total number of these must therefore add to 101 years, and this should constitute the sum of those reigns recorded in Judges 3:8{8 years};14{18 years},4:3-4{20 years},6:1{7 years},10:8{18 years},13:1{40 years}, only 111 years is the result, meaning there had to be at least 111 years of oppression, not at most 101; thus to reconcile this difference of 10 years, one must add fifty to the former number of 101 and subtract 40 to get 111 years of oppressors. Now adding 50 unmentioned years to the total 581 years as calculated above would result in a total 631 years between the Exodus and the fourth year of Solomon, but when from this number is taken away the 40 year reign of Eli, and the 111 year reigns of the oppressors, the result is 480 years.

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There are issues with the Judges chronology, but the example given here is not one of them.

This 450 year reference is one of those rare examples where the King James Version of our Bible lets us down. Compare the following quotes from the ESV, NIV, and Amplified, and notice how the original text is translated differently to that given in the opening question.

The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. And for about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. And after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance. All this took about 450 years. And after that he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. (Acts 13:17-20 ESV)

The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great and numerous during their stay [as foreigners] in the land of Egypt, and then with an uplifted arm He led them out of there. For a period of about forty years He put up with their behavior in the wilderness. When He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He gave their land [to our ancestors] as an inheritance—this took about four hundred and fifty years. (Acts 13:17-20 AMP)

The God of the people of Israel chose our ancestors; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt; with mighty power he led them out of that country; for about forty years he endured their conduct in the wilderness; and he overthrew seven nations in Canaan, giving their land to his people as their inheritance. All this took about 450 years. After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. (Acts 13:17-20 NIV)

The modern versions translate the text correctly this case, and it may be verified by comparing the historical context previously mentioned in Act 7:6.

So, the '450-year' approximation does not actually refer to the Judges period at all. What it is referring to may be summarised as follows:

  1. 400 years enslaved (compare Acts 7:6 and Genesis 15:13)
  2. 40 years wandering
  3. 7 years conquering promised land
  4. 1-2 years distributing inheritance

TOTAL = 449 YEARS (approx 450)

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King Saul and King David both reigned as King 40 years, this is the 80 years.

The 400 years is the time the children of Jacob were servants of Egypt (Gn 15:13) and so the Lord gave them 400 years of milk and honey (peace and protection)in the land of Canaan. So yes as God planned that they would be in Egypt 400 years until the Lord returned to bring them out of Egypt God also knew that in the 400 year in the land of Canaan the Israelite would want a King.

David was alive when he anointed Solomon as King,(1 Kings 1:35)and so at Davids death Solomon had been King for 4 years. Although David was called a "child" when he was anointed by Samuel the Bible refers to Solomon as being "young" when David died so he was under 20, for 20 was the age males were considered "able bodied" for military services, "a man."

So, yes, iiii, C, and lxxx, years is accurate.

I did review and compare 1 Kings 6:1 with the 1539 of "The Great Bible" and the 1560 Geneva Bible. I did this merely because I like to compare verses to get the most accurate meaning of whats being said. For many verses in today's Bibles have lost there original message and are being preached using a false understanding of what was originally written? For instance "matrix" described from where a women gives birth but today it has another meaning and they even named a movie it, haha? And the word "hate" simply meant "to reject" and people think God "hated" Esau as we hate serial killers, haha?

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It is only by, well, a shocking degree of ignorance that the the Book of Acts as we know it contains this characterization of what Paul said.

Paul studied under Gamaliel, believed to have been the preeminent Jewish scholar of his day, and not possibly could have said what is attributed to him at Acts 13:16 ff.

[Edit: added verse references to the next two paragraphs.]

The Judahite line, leading TO David, is something Paul would have known by heart, well, just as many of us do. That line is Judah → Pharez → Hezron → Ram → Amminidab → Nahshon → Salma → Boaz → Obed → Jesse → David (Gen 46:12; 1 Chron 2:9-12, 15b, Ruth 4.18-22).

Too he would have known that Nahshon, as captain over the children of Judah (Num 1:5a, 7), was present with Moses, leaving only his son Salma to enter Canaan (Num 26.65).

The way the passage in Acts is translated, not to mention whatever its author may have "believed" Paul said, presents us with a cartoon version of Paul, a version who wouldn't have even known it can't take 450-500 years to span merely 3-5 generations. The translation/author characterizes him as believing that even 450 years after Salma was old enough to have sons, David had still yet to be born. The average was 40-45 years per generation, so even though David was the child of an aging father, still we're looking at less than 200 years. Even Jacob saw three generations before migrating to Goshen at age 130. And even Abraham, who lived to age 175, saw at least two generations (Jacob was born when he was 160). So, again, the stuff of the passage you cite is just cartoonish.

[Edit: parsed and added verse references to the next three paragraphs.]

In citing a number like 450 --and I'm not saying he did not-- the only thing Paul can have been doing is adding a buffer zone to 430 for the time it took Joshua to subdue Canaan. That's 430 by one tradition (Gal 3.17) plus 6 years entailed of conquest (Num 10:11; 13:1-2, 6, 16; Josh 14:7-10), but since it's tantamount to 470 by another tradition (plus those same 6 years), all Paul would have been doing is splitting the difference as an estimate. It just depends on whether that 430 years was thought to have ended with Moses receiving the Law, or forty years later with Joshua forcing its ratification.

To reiterate, Paul knew that Judaism commenced with the birth of Isaac, and that the second covenant (the Law) stood as the cap for the famed 430-year span. But while one camp (in a split akin to Sadducees versus Pharisees) believed the 430-year span ended at the GIVING of the Law, another believed it capped off forty years later only when ratified —see circumcision at Gilgal (Josh 5:2ff). We see this difference of opinion reflected in the fact that Septuagint authors took the liberty to say 440 instead of 480 at 1 Kgs 6:1. Paul really gets into this in the third chapter of Galatians.

The point is, no, somewhere between translation and authorship the statements you cite, as they're laid out in the Book of Acts, are useless outside the framework of already HAVING a bead on what they're imagined to support. It can be adduced that the span from the Exodus to the death of king David is just under 300 years, though I won't get into all of that here. And forget trying to apply Jephthah's reference to 300 years "mid judges" (Jdgs 11:1ff) or, that is, using that as evidence for a longer period. The offspring of Isaac, even starting with Esau (Gen 32:3, 36:1ff), were settling deep in the southern Levant, and I'm confident that when Joseph and his large entourage deliberately passed through that same region (Gen 50:10-11) to let that branch of the family share in mourning Jacob, there were many opportunities for members of his entourage to peel off and settle in Canaan anew. That's just what all the literary evidence points to. Even by the time of Moses and Joshua, after all, there were an awful lot of non-Hebrews documented as part of the various lineages, and even Caleb himself is famously the son of a Kennizite (Num 32:12, Josh 14:6, 14).

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  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 21:52
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Is the 480 years mentioned in 1 Kings 6 accurate?

The shortest answer is yes.

A short answer is: I suspect an early scribal error in Acts 13:20 between the numbers: 450= τετρακοσιοις και πεντηκοντα and 350= τριακοσιοις και πεντηκοντα, which may have been mixed up by the scribe. At least one copy of New-Testament writings (Lectionary 1063 kept at the National Library of Greece) has τριακοσιοις- sources Douglas N Petrovich and Wikipedia.

A longer answer: A difference of 100 doesn’t seem uncommon in Greek texts (like for example the Septuagint, where many ages of the first Patriarchs were extended erroneously by 100 years). Now I’ll try to provide also a mathematical proof for the inaccuracy of the 450 years in Acts 13:20.

Proof: Suppose the 450 years in Acts 13:20 were true. According to the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:1-17 we have the following lineage: Rahab-Boaz-Obed-Jesse-David.

Matthew 1:5-6 NKJV

5 Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, 6 and Jesse begot David the king.

Let’s now assume Rahab is the prostitute from Joshua 2:1 (Matthew 1:5 seems to suggest Rahab is a well-known character in the Bible, why else would she be mentioned explicitly by name as a mother in a primarily male lineage?):

Joshua 2:1 NKJV

Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there.

Let’s further assume the prostitute Rahab was at least 20 years old at that time (the proof will also work with a younger age but let’s go with that). So the period between the birth of Rahab and the birth of David would be at least:

  • 20 years (between the birth of Rahab and Joshua 2:1)+
  • 7 years (between the Conquest of Jericho and the distribution of the land)+
  • 450 years (for the judges period which we assumed at the beginning)+
  • 10 years (between the beginning of Saul's reign and the birth of David-see 2 Samuel 5:4 )

= 487 years.

Could this be possible in the line: Rahab-Boaz-Obed-Jesse-David?

If we reasonably assume Rahab was at most 100 years old when she gave birth to Boaz, then there remain at least 487-100=387 years for Boaz-Obed-Jesse-David, or 129 years on average for each generation from birth to the next birth. And this in a biblical period when the average age was not so long anymore (Moses lived 120, Joshua lived 110, Eli lived 98, David lived 70 years). This is not very plausible, which is why the assumption of 450 years in Acts 13:20 must be rejected. END OF PROOF.

Note: if we repeat the calculation with 350 years instead of 450 years for Acts 13:20, we get an average age of 96 years from birth to birth in the line Boaz-Obed-Jesse-David, which is still a big number, but is more plausible.

If we assume 350 years instead of 450 in Acts 13:20, we’ll get:

  • 40 years wandering in the wilderness
  • 7 years Conquest of Canaan until the distribution of the land
  • 350 years Judges-period
  • 40 years reign of Saul
  • 40 years reign of David
  • 3 years between the beginning of Solomon’s reign and the beginning of the construction of the Temple

=480 years in accordance with 1 Kings 6:1

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    @agarza Thanks for editing! I appreciate.
    – Valentin
    Commented May 21 at 3:09
-1

I also have a problem. What brought me here was the mismatch in Christ's geneology. God placed a limit of 120 years on men in genesis 6:3 and after that point, the longest living man was Moses at 120 years. So my problem is that for this time scale to match up, each person in David's line would had to have given birth after the age of 120 years.

-1

This is part of haftarah for this week's Torah portion--Terumah. Here's my post there from 4 years ago. https://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/632637/jewish/Haftorah-in-a-Nutshell.htm#:~:text=Lawrence,construction%20%26%20480%20years%3F The Torah portion is Exodus 25.1-27.19 "G‑d says to Moses, “They shall make for Me a Sanctuary, and I shall dwell amidst them.”"

The even shorter answer than originally given is "yes". The statement fits very nicely in Bible Chronology "puzzle", which, I believe is most accurate & complete available. His 4 main books have been free for postage through his website.

http://biblechronologybooks.com/hebrewkings.html

Late Eugene Faulstich, Bible Chronologist , Ruthven/Rossie, IA, believes Exodus 1461/2540 & 480 yrs was 981/3020.AM Gene connects 588/3413 Temple destruction yr to 480. "Established by 3 means of computer-verified astronomical testing--Sabbath yr cycle, Sabbath day cycle, and priestly cycle. Perhaps no other date is more accurately verifiable to synchronize Hebrew history with that of contemporaries Date of Exodus found in same manner. This date used with 480 yr & Talmudic 833 yrs in land to form ironclad case for 588 date for fall of Jerusalem." 1461-480=981, 1461-833=588 Patterns 480 yr periods for Houses of God was found. Gene believes Bible Chronology shows G-d's control of timeline of Israel's history. Ex 25.8-11, 1 K 6.1-2, Nehemiah's dedication 5.14-16, Herod's Temple start. 2540 AM/1461, 3020/981, 3500/501, 3980/21 BCE Each "House" separated by 480 yrs. Gene has Jesus Cleansing Temple Nisan 10/4027 AM or April 3/26 or 27 CE, John 2.20. Herod's Temple 46 years. Hebrew year changes Nisan 1. So we have Herod's Temple start 20 or 21 BCE. 27 CE+ 20 BCE=47 years-1=46 years. Gene has Jesus crucifixion in 30 CE. The 46 years would work with 26+21-1 or 27+20-1. The minus 1 is because of no year "0". I wish Gene could be here to clarify his conclusions. Works is found in Witnesses for Jesus The Messiah. https://www.worldcat.org/title/witnesses-for-jesus-the-messiah/oclc/21426450 The "21" BCE date works for 26 CE cleansing & fits 480 year pattern for 501 BCE Nehemiah 5.14-16 . Click on Science & God in Balance at his website. pp 13, 47, & 74.
2 Kings 25.8, Shabb. 33a, 40b, Avot 5.9, Arakin 11b 12b establishes Ab 7/588 Sabbbath day, # 119 Sabbath+1 year, 833 years after Joshua, Jehoiarib priest serving.

David 1018-985. Ruled 33 yrs. 1018 is last year of Shalmaneser II of Assyria. 2 years later David given rest, probably Sabbath year 2 Sam 7.1. Sabbatical year 1016. Established 24 priestly sections 1 Chron 24. 1 K 1.28-40. First anointing Solomon 986, 1 yr before death David. Synchronism start priestly sections & Passover when Solomon made king. Nisan 15/986 was a Saturday, the start of Jehoiarib section. Solomon 986-945. 1st time 986 1 K 1.39. 2nd time David's death 985. Solomon 40 yrs 2 Chron 9.30. 2 slaves left Shimei's employ indicating Sabbath year. 1 K 2.39, 981 Settled with Hiram 2 Chron 8.1-2 Temple finished & dedicated 20 years later. Jubilee year 960. After his death servanthood/Sabbatical yr question 2 Chron 10.1-10. Solomon refused to release slave. Asked Rehoboam to do so. Sabbath year 946, Solomon's last full year.

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  • Hi Larry, thanks for contributing. We generally look for a little more detail in an answer (vs. a comment). Could you sketch out the main tenets of Faulstich's argument? Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 23:26
  • Larry, you might have a really great Answer here. Could you elaborate a little more, perhaps include some of the timeline from your linked source? Answers are more popular when they contain just a little more interesting or useful information inside the Answer without needing to go off site.
    – Jesse
    Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 8:36

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