Time Has An End

by Harold Camping
Family Stations Inc.


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Major change occurred when King Solomon died in the year 931 B.C. As we have just learned, God brought judgment upon the nation of Israel as a result of Solomon’s sin. This judgment took the form of a split in the kingdom. Much tragedy and grief would follow in subsequent years. We read in I Kings 11:9-12:

And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded. Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father’s sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son.

Ten of the twelve tribes were taken away from Solomon’s son Rehoboam who followed Solomon as the next king to rule from Jerusalem. Those ten tribes, located north of Jerusalem, were given by God to a man named Jeroboam (I Kings 11:31). Thus, beginning in the year 931 B.C., Israel became two independent kingdoms. One was named Judah with its capital in Jerusalem. It now consisted of only two tribes, Judah and Benjamin (II Chronicles Chapters 10 and 11). The other kingdom, which consisted of the ten tribes, was called Israel, and its capital city eventually became Samaria (I Kings 16:21-29; II Kings 17:6; Micah 1:1-5). From the year 931 B.C. and after, both the nation of Judah and the nation of Israel became external representatives of the kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of Israel was ruled by a total of twenty different kings, none of whom were in King David’s bloodline. Moreover, none of them gave evidence of a saved relationship with God. The Kingdom of Judah was ruled by twenty monarchs, also. Some of them obeyed the Lord, but others led the people of Judah to sin. Nevertheless, God continued to minister to the nations of Israel and Judah by sending prophets to them who gave them His warnings and His counsel (Jeremiah 7:12-13, 25).  

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Many of the prophetic Books of the Bible, like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Amos, were written by God speaking through these prophets to warn Israel and Judah of the judgment of God that would fall upon these nations if they did not turn from their wicked ways.

However, these same prophecies and warnings are especially directed against the Israel of our day, which consists of the local congregations located throughout the world. Thus, God tolerated the Kingdom of Judah and the Kingdom of Israel so that, using them as examples, He could bring His warnings to the church world and also to the secular world that exists in our day.

This is the key to studying the Bible. Each historical event is written so that readers must make or must refuse to make spiritual application to their own situation. It is our prayer that you will witness God’s reaction to sin in the historical setting and then heed the insistent warning of extreme peril to those who disobey God. That is why we read in II Timothy 3:16:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.

How wonderful it is that God uses His Word, the Bible, to bring salvation to sinners and to correct those whom He saves so that they may serve the Lord more faithfully (John 16:13; I Corinthians 2:10-14)!

Jonah

It was during this time that a most significant event took place. It is recorded in the Bible in the Book of Jonah. Jonah was a prophet of Israel during the time that Jeroboam II was king over Israel (II Kings 14:25). The Bible shows us that this king ruled over Israel from 792 B.C. to 751 B.C.

At that time in history, the most powerful kingdom in that part of the world was Assyria. Fact is, in the year 709 B.C., Assyria completely destroyed Israel. Jonah was given a command by God to go to the very powerful, very wicked capital city of Assyria, a city called Nineveh (see Zephaniah 2:13 and the Book of Nahum), with the message that it was God’s intention to destroy it because of its great wickedness. We read in Jonah 1:2 and 3:2-4:

Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the
 

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LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.

The first time Jonah heard God’s command, he refused to obey (Jonah 1:3). Possibly we can understand his reluctance. Assyria was the enemy of Israel. Would not Israel greatly benefit if this mighty Assyrian city was destroyed? So Jonah disobeyed God’s command and took a ship bound for a far away city named Tarshish. His intent was to flee from the presence of the Lord. He went down into the ship and fell fast asleep (Jonah 1:5).

Jonah Chapter 1 goes on to record that a great storm arose, and the ship was about to sink. Jonah recognized that the storm was a result of his disobedience and, to save the ship, he counseled the sailors to throw him into the sea. They did so. The sea became calm, and Jonah was swallowed by a whale.

Amazingly, the whole city of more than 120,000 people,
together with its king, repented and cried to God for mercy.

Jonah Chapters 2 and 3 continue the account. After three days and nights in the whale’s belly (see also Matthew 12:40), Jonah was cast out alive upon the land. He then dutifully preached to the Ninevites that, because of their wickedness, in forty days, God was going to destroy them. Amazingly, the whole city of more than 120,000 people, together with its king, repented and cried to God for mercy. The king decreed in Jonah 3:8-9:

But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?

Because the whole city repented, God did not destroy Nineveh, even as God stipulated in Jeremiah 18:7-8:

7At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; if that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.  

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The fact is we can know that this whole city became saved because we read in Matthew 12:41:

The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

In this study, we have already made reference to this event both in the Preface and in Chapter 1, and now, because of the enormously significant truths given in this account, we must examine it in greater detail.

Looking for the Spiritual Meaning

The Book of Jonah is a true historical account that is teaching tremendously significant spiritual truths. The following is a summary of some of the major truths taught in this book.

Historical Fact Spiritual Application*
Ship going to Tarshish (Jonah 1:3) (Isaiah 60:9, “Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the LORD thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee.”) Picture of churches throughout the Church Age going into all the world with the Gospel.
Jonah went down into the ship and was fast asleep (Jonah 1:5). Jonah represents churches which, at the end of the Church Age, are spiritually dead.
Jonah fleeing from the presence (Actually, this is literally of God (Jonah 1:3-10; 4:2) impossible. See Psalm 139:7-12) Churches at the end of the Church Age no longer having God present with them in the sense that He is no longer saving anyone as the local churches minister the Gospel
Ship ready to sink (Jonah 1:4) Churches at the end of the Church Age are spiritually destroyed. They no longer are used of God in His program of bringing people into the kingdom of God.


* See Chapters 10, 11, and 12 of the present writing for a more in-depth discussion.  

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Historical Fact Spiritual Application*
Tarshish (Jonah 1:3; 4:2) The whole world from which, throughout the Church Age, true believers have come
Jonah thrown into the sea (Jonah 1:12, 15) Jonah now represents Christ who experienced eternal damnation on behalf of those He came to save.
Sailors who were saved from ship- wreck because Jonah was thrown into the sea (Jonah 1:15-16) Those saved because Christ endured Hell on their behalf
Nineveh (Jonah 1:2; 3:2, 7-8; 4:11) The entire wicked world
120,000 (Jonah 4:11) Complete fullness of all those in the world who become saved during the last part of the Great Tribulation
Jonah preaching to Nineveh (Jonah 3:3-4) All those who, as ambassadors of Christ, are warning the world that the end of the world is almost here
They did not know their right hand from their left hand (Jonah 4:11). (See Deuteronomy 28:14 and Joshua 23:6.) Those in the world who have never ). known the commands of the Bible (They are altogether ignorant of the Bible's teachings).
Much cattle (Jonah 4:11) The entire creation, which will become the New Heavens and the New Earth. (This is parallel to the experience of the true believers who will receive a new resurrected body.)
Forty days (Jonah 3:4) The time of the end. (This is a test for those who hear today's warning that A.D. 2011 could be the year in which the world ends. Will they react like the people of Nineveh who became saved or will they react like the world of Noah's day who remained in rebellion against God when they were given a timetable of 120 years before destruction?)
* See Chapters 10, 11, and 12 of the present writing for a more in-depth discussion.

This extremely insightful historical parable is teaching both a most awful and a most wonderful lesson. God continually came to the nation of Israel by means of prophets who taught the Israelites many Biblical truths. But Israel continued to rebel against God and eventually was destroyed. The people of Nineveh knew nothing about Biblical truths. No prophets of God had ever come  

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The people of Nineveh knew nothing
about Biblical truths.

to them. Even when Jonah preached as a lone prophet to a great city of more than 120,000 people, their knowledge of Bible truth would have been minuscule.

God had warned Israel, for example, in I Kings 14:15:

For the LORD shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river, because they have made their groves, provoking the LORD to anger.

The groves spoken of in this verse identify with the worship of false gods. Because Israel did not listen to those warnings of God, they were totally destroyed by the Assyrian nation in the year 709 B.C. We read in II Kings 17:14, 18:

Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the LORD their God. Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only.

The same situation prevails in the world in our day. On the one hand, there are all the local congregations that have been taught from the Bible for many years. Presently, they are being warned that God’s wrath is upon them because they are not nearly as faithful to the Bible as they should be. Their members are trusting in their denomination, or their pastor, or their creedal confessions, or their water baptism, or their church membership as the guarantee of their salvation. But they are not trusting the Bible as the ultimate authority. The proof of this is the fact that they are not repenting of wrong doctrines they hold. Nor are they obeying God’s command to leave the churches. Because God has come to the local churches as the Judge of all the earth to prepare those who are not true believers to stand before the Judgment Throne, the genuine believers must get out of the local churches. (See The End of the Church Age and After and Wheat and Tares, available free of charge from Family Radio.)

In spite of the ready availability of the Bible, most of those in the churches and in the world will remain in rebellion against God. Like Matthew 24:37-38 declares:  

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But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark.

Those remaining in the local churches and most of the people of the world will give no heed to the warning that the end of the world is almost here. They will remain in complete denial to the truth that they must very soon stand before the Judgment Throne of God.

In a world of more than six billion people, most know little or nothing about the Bible. They are typified by the wicked citizens of Nineveh. However, there is wonderful news. The Bible assures us that a great multitude of these will become saved (Revelation 7:9-14). Even as the spiritually ignorant Ninevites became saved when God warned of impending destruction, so it could well be that most of the great multitude that are spoken of in Revelation 7:9 will come from the billions of spiritually ignorant peoples of the world. How wonderful! It is glorious that salvation does not depend in any way upon knowledge of Bible truths. It is magnificent to know that all that is required is that the individuals God intends to save be under the hearing of the Bible.

. . . many of those who are the last to hear the Gospel will
become God’s people, but many who had been the
first to hear the Gospel will be cast away
because they had never become saved.

In this connection, we might keep in mind the teaching of Luke 13:25- 30 where God reveals that those who have had first opportunity to be God’s people will be last. But those who are the last to be given the opportunity to hear the Gospel will be first. That is, many of those who are the last to hear the Gospel will become God’s true people, but many who had been the first to hear the Gospel will be cast away because they had never become saved. Here is what Luke 13: 25-30 says:

When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: then shall ye begin to say,  

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We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.

I am afraid that these verses are teaching that in our day, those in the churches, to a high degree, are the first who shall be last, whereas those who heretofore were taught nothing from the Bible are the last who shall be first.

Incidentally, we must remember that when God reached into Nineveh and saved 120,000 people, it did not mean that Nineveh would continue as a city of saved people. The situation is analogous to God who, for His own glory and purpose, reaches into a family or clan and saves one or two individuals, even though the rest of that family or clan remains altogether in rebellion against God.

Likewise, the saving of these 120,000 did not signify in any way that any of the rest of the nation of Assyria who lived outside of the city of Nineveh, or that any of the following generations of people who would live there, would become saved.

As we approach the end of time, we can know that
wickedness all over the world will increase and
the wicked will be brought into judgment.

As we speak of the wickedness of Nineveh, which we learned identifies with the enormous wickedness of our world today, it would be well to recognize that, at this time of Great Tribulation, God is not only preparing the peoples in the local churches for their time of trial at the Judgment Throne of God, but God is also preparing for judgment those who are not a part of local churches. This is so even though a great multitude which no man can number will become saved, even as the 120,000 citizens of ancient Nineveh became saved. As we approach the end of time, we can know that wickedness all over the world will increase and the wicked will be brought into judgment. To understand this, we should examine for a moment the Bible’s statement about God’s judgment upon the unsaved world at large.  

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Unsaved Mankind is Desperately Wicked

We do not normally realize that any individual who is not saved is tremendously wicked. But the Bible tells us in Jeremiah 17:9:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

In Matthew 15:19, the Bible adds:

For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.

We read these verses and know that they are true. However, there have always been people who, though they pay no attention to the Bible, do live decent moral lives. Think, for example, of a mother’s love for her children. Surely we cannot detect terrible wickedness in the lives of such kindly, loving, generous, law-abiding individuals. Nevertheless, the Bible is true in all that it teaches. But how can the indictment of these verses be correct?

God Restrains Wickedness in the Lives of the Unsaved

When we search the Bible for an answer to this puzzle, we find at least two answers. The first answer is that God restrains sin in the lives of people (Psalm 76:10). God gives us an example of this in Genesis Chapter 20. There we read of a heathen king named Abimelech who had an opportunity to sin with Sarah, the wife of Abraham. However, he did not commit this sin. God explained in Genesis 20:6 why Abimelech did not commit this sin:

I also withheld thee from sinning against me; therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.

The lesson we learn from this is that God restrains mankind from being as sinful as they are by nature. Obviously, since the heart of man is as wicked as God declares it is, mankind would soon completely destroy themselves if God allowed all mankind to live as wickedly as they are by nature.

. . . any wickedness, however slight in our eyes,
is grievous wickedness against God.
 

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Secondly, when examining verses like Jeremiah 17:9 and Matthew 15:19, we must confess that we cannot see the inmost part of man. But the Bible says in I Samuel 16:7b:

Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

God tells us in His Word that the human race has fallen completely and hopelessly into sin (Isaiah 1:4-6; Romans 3:10-19, 23). The fact is, therefore, that any wickedness, however slight in our eyes, is grievous wickedness against God. Anyone who refuses to live altogether like a true believer is, in God’s sight, exceedingly wicked.

God Gives People Up To Sin

In any case, the Bible does speak of a time when God gives people up to gross sin. To give people up to sin is another way of saying that God’s restraint on sin is completely removed. In Romans Chapter 1, more than twenty gross sins are named. These sins are named immediately after God emphasizes, in three of these verses, that the peoples of the world have been given up to commit terrible sin (Romans 1:24, 26, 28). In addition, the curious and surely dramatic truth displayed in this chapter is in connection with the first sin that is named.

In Romans 1:21-23, God first explains:

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

These verses express the continuing rebellion of mankind who set up their own man-made religions and gospels. They, with their own sinful minds, believed they were wise while they lived for their own glory rather than for the glory of God.

Following this are verses 24 through 28 which detail the first of more than twenty sins that are named after this first sin. In these verses we read:

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: who changed the truth of God into a lie, and  

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worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.

The startling and shocking thing about the sin of lesbianism and homosexuality named in these verses is that never in New Testament history has this sin been in evidence like it is in our day. There are those who try to argue that at the time Rome ruled the known world, this kind of sin was very prevalent. While any kind of sin is always present in any group of people, the Bible’s own testimony assures us that this kind of sin was probably not at all as widespread in that Roman era as some people would like to think. Ancient Rome ruled over many countries including Greece and the lands of Israel. We read in I Corinthians 5:1 of a member of the church in Corinth who was apparently living adulterously with his father’s wife. In that connection, I Corinthians 5:1 declares:

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.

We are astonished to recognize that it is at our time in history
that the sin of homosexuality has taken off like a skyrocket!

The Gentiles named in this verse would have been the Greeks of Corinth, a city over which the Romans ruled at that time. Surely the sin named in this verse is far less heinous and perverted than the sin of homosexuality or the enormous sexual depravity that is occurring in our day. We are astonished to recognize that it is at our time in history that the sin of homosexuality has taken off like a skyrocket! A generation ago, this sin was still regarded as an awful perversion, a sin far more despicable than fornication or adultery. But today, the “gay” lifestyle is increasingly regarded as merely another accepted way of people living together. Not only are a far greater number of people openly living in this sin, but  

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increasingly, the general public is accepting it as a lifestyle that is not necessarily sinful at all.

But God is not fooled. He declares three times in these verses, Romans 1:24-28, that He has given people up to this sin. This explains why it is multiplying so rapidly and why people are blindly accepting it as a non-sin.

. . . when God removes His restraint on sin on a worldwide
basis, as is evidenced by this homosexual issue today,
it means that Judgment Day must be close.

The ominous fact is that when God removes His restraint on sin on a worldwide basis, as is evidenced by this homosexual issue today, it means that Judgment Day must be close. Even as God has removed Himself from the local congregations so that they can easily increasingly rebel against the Law of God, so, too, God is removing Himself from restraining sin in the lives of the unsaved of the world. We can only conclude that God is preparing the whole world for His return at which time each and every unsaved person must stand for judgment.

Truly, we can thank God that at this same perilous time in the earth’s history, God is still saving people.

But now we should return to our journey down the timeline of history as we continue to witness the unfolding of God’s magnificent salvation plan.

709 B.C. The End of the Ten Tribes

Traveling down the Biblical highway of time has brought us to 709 B.C. In the year 709 B.C., disaster struck the ten tribes of Israel, whose capital was Samaria. Because of Israel’s constant rebellion against God, after 222 years of existence as a nation, they were completely destroyed by the nation of Assyria (II Kings Chapter 17).

Virtually every theologian, Bible student, or archaeologist interested in the rise and fall of nations will immediately offer 722 B.C. as the year when Israel was conquered. In so doing, most will be unwittingly acknowledging their lack of trust in the Bible. To conclude that Israel’s end came in the year 722 B.C. requires a complete denial of the truthfulness and accuracy of the Bible. This is so because the Bible gives very clear information regarding the year of the end of Israel. The Bible teaches very plainly that in the year 709 B.C., Israel came to its end.

First, we need to learn about an event that threatened the security of Israel’s neighbor to the south, Judah. In II Kings 18:13 we read:  

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Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah did Sennacherib king of Assyria come up against all the fenced cities of Judah, and took them.

The massive assault of Sennacherib king of Assyria against the Kingdom of Judah, which is described in this verse, ended with the complete destruction of the army of Sennacherib. In one night, his army of 185,000 men was destroyed. We read in II Kings 19:34-36:

For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake. And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.

If we would carefully lay out the Biblical Calendar of the kings of Judah and Israel, we would discover that the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah was the year 701 B.C. (See The Perfect Harmony of the Numbers of the Hebrew Kings which can be obtained free of charge from Family Radio.)

It is also true that archaeologists, based on the archaeological record, conclude that this assault by Sennacherib on the nation of Judah occurred in the year 701 B.C. For example, Merrill F. Unger states in his book Archaeology and the Old Testament:

The Assyrian king in 701 B.C. launched his great western campaign to punish Hezekiah and other recalcitrants and bring them back under the Assyrian yoke. This important undertaking is not only graphically described in the Bible but is also recorded in the annals of Sennacherib which were recorded on clay cylinders or prisms. The final edition of these annals is found on the so-called Taylor prism of the British Museum. . . . The account of Sennacherib’s western campaign recorded in the Taylor Prism is the same as that described in II Kings 18:13 - 19:37, II Chronicles 32:1-12, and Isaiah Chapters 36 and 37. A great deal of light is shed on the Biblical narrative by the monuments and there are numerous striking points of agreement, proving that the campaign of 701 B.C. is the one described in the Bible.
The destruction of Sennacherib’s army, which was besieging Jerusalem, by divine intervention (II Kings 19:35; Isaiah 37:36) offers an adequate reason why the king never returned to the region of Palestine. Sennacherib’s own records, moreover, give ample evidence that he never took Jerusalem.” 1


1 Archaeology and the Old Testament, Merrill F. Unger, Zondervan, 1965, pages 267-269.  

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Thus, there is complete agreement between the archaeological record and the Biblical record that the events recorded in II Kings 18:13 occurred in the year 701 B.C. Therefore, it should be very obvious that if II Kings 18:13 indicates that this assault on Jerusalem by Sennacherib occurred in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, then Hezekiah’s first year should be fourteen years earlier, in the year 715 B.C.

Moreover, II Kings 18:9 clearly states:

And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria, and besieged it.

If the first year of King Hezekiah was 715 B.C., then the fourth year would have been the year 711 B.C. And since in the Bible verse given above, we are instructed that the fourth year of Hezekiah coincided with the seventh year of Hoshea king of Israel, then it is clear that in the year 711 B.C., the nation of Israel had not yet been destroyed by the Assyrians. Moreover, it is also clear from this verse that at that time Shalmaneser was king of Assyria.

The next verse, II Kings 18:10, continues:

And at the end of three years they took it: even in the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken.

The phrase “the end of three years” indicates the assault on Samaria, which was the capital of Israel, began early in the fourth year of Hezekiah and ended in the sixth year. The sixth year would have been the year 709 B.C. Thus, we can know from the Biblical information that, without question, Israel was conquered by the Assyrians in the year 709 B.C.

But the archaeologists offer their conclusions based on their findings in the archaeological record. Based on an historical inscription written about 200 years later, they conclude that Shalmaneser was king of Assyria during the period 727 B.C. to 722 B.C. Based on inscriptions found in the ruins of ancient Khorsebad, they have concluded that a king named Sargon II, who may have been the son or brother of Shalmeneser, conquered Samaria in the year 722 B.C. They have arrived at this conclusion because Sargon II claimed to have conquered Babylon in his thirteenth year as king, and the archaeological information shows that Babylon was conquered by the Assyrians in the year 709 B.C. Thus, if 709 B.C. was Sargon’s thirteenth year, then his first year was 722  

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B.C. Thus, if Samaria was conquered by Sargon in his first year, it must have been the year 722 B.C. in which Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians. Of course, this conclusion is altogether incorrect because it disagrees entirely with the Biblical account which we know is impeccably accurate.

It is easy to understand how the very faulty archaeological record is what it is. The archaeological record shows that Sargon, who is called Sargon II by the archaeologists, was a very vain king. Extensive inscriptions about his exploits and power have been found. On the other hand, very little has been found in the archaeological record concerning Shalmaneser who ruled before him. Only the Bible tells us that Shalmaneser was still king as late as the year 711 B.C.

It is true that there is an implication in the Bible that Sargon was involved in the final end of Samaria. We read in II Kings 18:10, in which the end of Samaria is described, “they took it.” The pronoun “they” could refer to both King Shalmaneser and to King Sargon who likely had been reigning as coregents. Moreover, the next verse does not name Shalmaneser. The verse simply says, “And the king of Assyria did carry away Israel . . . ” (II Kings 18:11).

When we take into account the archaeological record, but recognize the superb accuracy of the Biblical account, we can fairly accurately reconstruct this period of history. Shalmaneser began to reign over Assyria in the year 727 B.C. Five years later, in the year 722 B.C., Sargon became co-regent with him. Thus, 722 B.C. became the first year of Sargon ruling as king.

Early in the year 711 B.C., Shalmaneser began his assault on Samaria which lasted three years and ended in the year 709 B.C. Very close to the final end of this assault, Shalmaneser died, perhaps killed in battle. In all likelihood, God used the plural pronoun “they” in II Kings 18:10 to indicate that both Shalmaneser and Sargon were involved in the final days of the overthrow of Samaria.

With the death of Shalmaneser in 709 B.C., Sargon became the sole ruler. It was also in this year that Sargon conquered Babylon. While this year 709 B.C. in one sense was his thirteenth year, inasmuch as it appears that he became co-regent with Salmaneser in the year 722 B.C., in another sense, Sargon himself spoke of 709 B.C. as his first year. It was in this year that he became the sole ruler of the kingdom of Assyria.

Because of Sargon’s extreme vanity, he probably destroyed many of the inscriptions relating to Shalmaneser’s reign. Thus, Sargon’s greatness would be substantially enhanced. The historian who 200 years later examined the available records from Shalmaneser’s reign would conclude that Shalmaneser reigned only five years.  

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The Bible, however, has not been altered. It records the facts of history. We can see, therefore, given the superb accuracy of the Biblical record, that we can very accurately correct the archaeological or ancient historical record. We can be certain, because of the exquisite accuracy of the Bible, that the year 709 B.C. is the correct date for the end of national Israel. Unfortunately, because reputable theologians have not trusted the perfect accuracy of the Biblical record, they have betrayed their low opinion of the infallibility of the Bible.

The Bible is very clear as to why Israel was destroyed. We read in II Kings 17:7-8:

For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods, and walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.

The Bible continues to detail their sins and then declares how God had warned them. II Kings 17:13 declares:

Yet the LORD testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets.

However, Israel did not listen to the prophets of God. They continued in all of their sins. Finally, God declares in II Kings 17:18:

Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only.

Thus, in the year 709 B.C., Israel, which for 222 years had been an external representation of the kingdom of God, ceased to be a nation.

The spotlight of the Gospel will now be pointing at the remaining nation, Judah. This will bring us to the year 609 B.C., the next important milestone in the unfolding drama of God’s salvation program.  

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609 B.C. Disaster Comes to Judah

In the year 709 B.C., a king reigned over Judah who was one of the most God-fearing kings who ever ruled over Judah. His name was Hezekiah, and the Bible has many wonderful things to say about him. During the reign of Hezekiah (715 B.C. - 686 B.C.), Judah experienced great blessings from God.

Unfortunately, however, Hezekiah was followed on the throne by his son Manasseh. Manasseh reigned a long time (697 B.C. - 642 B.C.). During the first eleven years, while a young man, he reigned as co-regent with his father. When his father, Hezekiah, died, he continued to reign for an additional forty-four years. But he proved to be an exceedingly wicked ruler. The consequences of his evil rule were catastrophic for the nation of Judah. We read in II Kings 21:11-14:

Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols: therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down. And I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies.

God is fully capable of bringing to pass any
prediction He makes.

Would God punish Judah in such terrible fashion? Indeed, God never gives idle warnings. God is fully capable of bringing to pass any prediction He makes (Numbers 23:19; Daniel 4:34-35).

But then it looked like the horrendous prediction of doom upon Judah would not happen. Manasseh died, and his son Amon, who was also wicked like his father, reigned for two years and was killed by his servants. The eight-yearold son of Amon, a child named Josiah, became king. Josiah proved to be the most obedient, God-fearing king who ever sat on the throne of Israel or Judah.

The Bible declares in II Kings 23:25:  

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And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.

Surely a new era had dawned for the nation of Judah. With such a marvelous king, they should be set for a long period of enjoying God’s blessings.

But God has a timetable for the unfolding of His Gospel plan. We know that this is so because as we discover the way in which God’s timeline unfolds, we are finding that God is following a very precise plan. Each element of that plan interlocks with every other element in a way that could never happen if God were developing the plan simply depending on how things were going at any time in history.

This is dramatically seen in the situation with Josiah. Judah finally had the finest king they have ever had. And because he began to reign at the young age of eight years, he could conceivably reign for fifty or sixty years. Judah could be guided into a more blessed relationship with God than they ever had before experienced.

But that did not fit God’s plan. Even though Josiah excelled spiritually, God declared in II Kings 23:26-27:

Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal. And the LORD said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.

The prophecy of God’s wrath coming upon Judah had to mesh precisely with God’s plan.

Likewise, we must understand that today, churches still exist that believe they are altogether faithful to God. Therefore, somehow they believe they are not included in God’s judgment falling upon the local congregations.

God’s time plan cannot be changed. We have come to the end of the Church Age, and God’s divine process of judgment is already at work in each and every local congregation.*


* For much more Biblical information on this very serious subject, the reader is invited to send for the books The End of the Church Age and After and Wheat and Tares, available free of charge from Family Radio.  

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Therefore, even as a wonderful and faithful king like Josiah could not stop God’s timetable of judgment, so, too, a pastor who believes he is altogether faithful to the Bible cannot stop the present timetable of God’s judgment.

Moreover, as we shall learn later in this study, even though Josiah excelled spiritually, the rot of spiritual rebellion permeated Judah. Later we will look at many verses in the Bible that detail this spiritual rottenness.

Thus, disaster came upon Judah exactly one hundred years after the ten tribes of Israel had been destroyed by Assyria. In the year 609 B.C., when Josiah was only thirty-nine years of age, he was killed in battle. Upon his death, Judah lost its independence. First, it became subject to the rule of Egypt, and then, after a few years, it became a servant of Babylon. During the next twenty-three years inclusively, three sons and one grandson of Josiah each in turn reigned over Judah. But all four of these final kings were vassals of Egypt or of Babylon. Thus, the year 587 B.C. became the next important milestone in the unfolding of God’s salvation plan.

Again we are struck by Josiah’s age at death. The number 39 is a product of 3 x 13 indicating God’s purpose and super fullness of time. Even as the year 609 B.C. began the seventy year tribulation that included the complete destruction of the nation of Israel, so too, precisely 13,000 years after Creation, in A.D. 1988, the Great Tribulation, just prior to the end the world, began.

587 B.C. Jerusalem is Destroyed

We are proceeding down the timeline of history and have come to another year of great significance. It is the year that the Kingdom of Judah was completely destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon. Jerusalem and the magnificent temple Solomon had built were destroyed. A high percentage of the people of Judah were killed and many were taken captive (II Kings Chapter 25; II Chronicles 36:17-20; Jeremiah Chapters 39 and 52).

This terrible time in the history of the nation of Judah was actually anticipated by the much earlier experiences of the patriarch Jacob. Do you recall that in the year 1877 B.C., he was commanded by God to leave the land of Canaan and go to Egypt?

The destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon in the year 587 B.C. was a parallel situation in that Israel was commanded to leave the land of Canaan and go to live in the land of Babylon. The consequence of this change in authority ended up with the complete destruction of Judah inasmuch as the last king of Judah, a king named Zedekiah, rebelled against the king of Babylon. We read in II Kings 24:19-20:  

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And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. For through the anger of the LORD it came to pass in Jerusalem and Judah, until he had cast them out from his presence, that Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

We must remember, God was in control of the events that were taking place. It was His plan that Judah would come under the authority of Babylon. We read, for example, in Jeremiah 38:17-18:

Then said Jeremiah unto Zedekiah, Thus saith the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel; If thou wilt assuredly go forth unto the king of Babylon’s princes, then thy soul shall live, and this city shall not be burned with fire; and thou shalt live, and thine house: but if thou wilt not go forth to the king of Babylon’s princes, then shall this city be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and thou shalt not escape out of their hand.

The above verses, together with a great many others that could be cited, show that God placed the Kingdom of Judah under the authority of Babylon. This was done because of the continuing wickedness of Judah.

The final result of this placing of Judah under the authority
of Babylon was the utter destruction of Jerusalem.

The final result of this placing of Judah under the authority of Babylon was the utter destruction of Jerusalem. The great tribulation Judah was enduring began officially in the year 609 B.C. when King Josiah was killed in battle. Three months later, his son Jehoahaz was removed from the throne by the king of Egypt (II Kings 23:31-34). The oppression of Judah by Egypt and Babylon would continue for seventy years, until the year 539 B.C., when the Jews would be allowed to return to Jerusalem from Babylon. The year 609 B.C. was 322 years after Judah began as a nation.

This seventy-year period was divided into two parts. The first part was the twenty-two-year period (twenty-three years inclusive) from 609 B.C. to 587 B.C. The second part was the period continuing from 587 B.C. to 539 B.C.

In a real sense, we could say that God was finished with Judah in the year 609 B.C. The remaining four kings were all under the authority of heathen nations so that, in principle, God had left Judah and had, as it were, turned over the  

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rulership of Judah first to Egypt and finally to Babylon. Babylon in turn finally destroyed the nation of Judah. The Bible gives us the exact day of the year when this occurred. We read in Jeremiah 39:2:

And in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month, the ninth day of the month, the city was broken up.

This tragic event was not by any means the end of God’s salvation program in the world. The events that were literally happening at that time in history were a portrait or an anticipation of God’s plan for the time of the Great Tribulation of our day. While Jerusalem had become the scene of horror and destruction beginning in 609 B.C., in Babylon the true believers were being protected by God. They were a portrait or an anticipation of all the true believers who are living during the second part of the present Great Tribulation. We read in Jeremiah 29:4-7:

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.

These verses altogether identify with God’s present program as He sends the Gospel through the world during this present time of the latter rain and the end of the world harvest.

It is curious and perhaps very significant the way God has woven into the fabric of the histories of these two nations, Israel and Judah, and also during the Church Age, two numbers that signify judgment. They are the numbers 23 and 37. We will tentatively develop this concept a bit further, although later, in Chapter 8 of this book, some of these conclusions will be repeated.

Twenty-Three Kings

Remember that both of these two nations, during their existence, had twenty monarchs who ruled. Moreover, both of these nations began earlier,  

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prior to when those twenty monarchs ruled. They began when Saul became the first king. He ruled over the undivided kingdom – over all Israel – as did King David and as did King Solomon who followed. Upon Solomon’s death, two of these tribes became the nation of Judah, and ten of the tribes became the nation of Israel. Therefore, in a real sense, the nation of Israel, which consisted of the ten tribes, had a total of 23 (20 + 3) monarchs rule over them. Likewise, in a real sense, the nation of Judah, which consisted of the two tribes, had 23 (20 + 3) monarchs rule over them. Thus, both nations were tied into the number 23 which signifies judgment. And significantly, both nations ended under the judgment of God. (Chapter 8 of this book will give us a detailed study of the numbers in the Bible.)

Thus, both nations were tied into the number
23 which signifies judgment.

Moreover, the nation of Israel existed as an independent nation from 931 B.C. until 709 B.C. when they were destroyed by the nation of Assyria. 931 - 709 = 222 years that they existed as a nation. Significantly, the number 222 is the product of 3 x 2 x 37. As Chapter 8 of this book shows, the number 3 signifies God’s purpose, the number 2 identifies with those who are caretakers of the Bible, and the number 37 signifies God’s judgment. Thus, we see hidden within the 222 years of the history of Israel that it was God’s purpose (the number 3) that eventually those who were made caretakers of the Bible (the number 2) would come into judgment (the number 37).

Likewise, the nation of Judah was an independent nation from 931 B.C. until 609 B.C. (931 - 609 = 322 years). The number 322 breaks down into 2 x 7 x 23. We will see in Chapter 8 of this study that the number 7 signifies perfect completeness. Thus we see hidden within the 322 years of the history of Judah that God’s people (the number 2) would perfectly completely (the number 7) eventually come under God’s judgment (the number 23).

Later we will learn that the duration of the Church Age extended from A.D. 33 to A.D. 1988 (1,988 - 33 = 1,955 years). The number 1,955 breaks down into 5 x 17 x 23. In Chapter 8 of this book, we learn that the number 5 signifies God’s salvation or judgment, and the number 17 signifies Heaven. Therefore, we will learn that during the Church Age, which lasted 1,955 years, God’s salvation program (the number 5) brought people to Heaven (the number 17), but the Church Age would end in judgment (the number 23).  

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It is curious and perhaps significant that a major portion of the history of the twelve tribes of Israel, which began in the year 1047 B.C. when Saul was made king, ended in the year 587 B.C. when Babylon destroyed the temple and Jerusalem (1,047 - 587 = 460 years). The number 460 breaks down into the significant numbers 2 x 10 x 23. Since the number 10 signifies completeness, we again get the message that those who were caretakers of the Bible (the number 2) would be under God’s complete (the number 10) judgment (the number 23).

Another amazing and significant point concerning the number 23 is woven into the history of Israel. As previously noted, the twelve tribes became a nation in the year 1047 B.C. In the year 609 B.C., King Josiah was killed in battle, and, for the remaining 23 years inclusive, the kings of Judah were altogether controlled by Egypt and Babylon. Therefore, Judah ceased to exist as an independent nation in the year 609 B.C. The year 609 B.C., in a sense, was the year of the end of Judah, although it was in the year 587 B.C. that they no longer had a land or a temple that belonged to them.

It is also remarkable to note the time interval between the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, which took place in the year 2067 B.C., and the destruction of Judah in 587 B.C. (2,067 - 587 = 1,480 years). The number 1,480 breaks down into the significant numbers 2 x 2 x 10 x 37, thus indicating that even as Sodom and Gomorrah came into judgment, so those who were caretakers of the Bible (the number 2) came into complete (the number 10) judgment (the number 37).

There are more time relationships relating to the nations of Israel and Judah. We can take note, for example, that David ascended the throne in the Jubilee Year of 1007 B.C. Exactly 1,000 years later in the Jubilee Year 7 B.C., Christ was born. David, as the physical king of physical Israel, typified Christ who is the spiritual King who rules forever over the spiritual kingdom of God that consists of all true believers in Christ.

Again we might take note of the fact that David ascended the throne of Israel in the year 1007 B.C. Exactly 1,040 inclusive years later, in the year A.D. 33, Christ arose from the dead. The number 1,040 breaks down into the significant numbers 13 x 10 x 2 x 2 x 2. Spiritually, this can signify that, in the super fullness of God’s timetable (the number 13), the complete (the number 10) number of the caretakers of the Bible (the number 2) will become saved.

. . . beginning with Abraham and until Christ came, the nation
of Israel was the centerpiece of God’s salvation plan.
 

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We must keep in mind that, from Abraham until Christ, the nation of Israel was the centerpiece of God’s salvation plan. Israel was raised up by God to be an external representation of the kingdom of God. However, as we count the number of kings that ruled over them or review the time durations of their existence, we learn very clearly that, even though they, in many ways, were a special people of God, this did not protect them from judgment. Fact is, they became a prime example that however holy and righteous we may think we have become, we are still under the wrath of God if we have not become saved. This principle was dramatically illustrated by the eventual destruction of both Israel and Judah after Israel became divided, as well as by the local congregations of the Church Age that also eventually came under the wrath of God.

We have taken time in our study of the unfolding of the
timeline of history to show that God has a very methodical,
carefully worked out plan for His salvation program.

We have taken time in our study of the unfolding of the timeline of history to show that God has a very methodical, carefully worked out plan for His salvation program. This plan is carefully structured so that nothing happens capriciously or in some erratic fashion. This is why God declares in Galatians 4:4-5:

But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

The term “fulness of the time” indicates that there was a precise time in history when Jesus was to be crucified. This fact is also emphasized by the language of Luke 9:51 and John 13:1. We read in Luke 9:51:

And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.

And God says in John 13:1:

Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the  

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Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

We, therefore, can be assured as we progress down the timeline of history and finally come to the end of time we will learn that the closing events of the history of the world must fit into a very well developed pattern of time pre-prepared and pre-ordained by God.

This brings us to the next important milestone as God unfolded His Gospel program for the world. That was the year 539 B.C. which was precisely seventy years after Judah was placed under heathen rule in the year 609 B.C.

539 B.C. Babylon Conquered

Our travels down the highway of time have finally brought us to the auspicious year of 539 B.C. The year 539 B.C. marked the beginning of the Biblical record of the closing historical events that Israel experienced prior to the birth of Christ. These are the events that began with the return of Israel from Babylon to the land of Israel and continued until the last insertion was made into the Old Testament of the Bible in the year 391 B.C.

These events have been frequently misunderstood by Bible teachers and theologians who trusted the archaeological and secular historical records more than the Bible. We know, of course, that the Bible record in the Hebrew language of the Bible is absolutely trustworthy. However, it cannot be denied that the secular record that has been subsequently discovered and translated by archaeologists frequently had been tampered with long before its discovery by the archaeologist. This was particularly the situation when a succeeding king wished to make the historical record more pleasing to himself, or in order to erase the historical record of a great disaster that humiliated him or the kingdom over which he ruled.

For example, while a great amount of correct secular historical information has been discovered concerning the history of Egypt, not one word has been discovered concerning the nation of Israel leaving Egypt under the leadership of Moses. One can readily understand that the enormous humiliation Egypt experienced at that time would never want to be remembered by those of that nation. And, therefore, not one detail of this disaster which Egypt experienced appears in the secular record.

In a similar manner, the Bible makes a statement concerning the events that are recorded in the Book of Esther. We read in Esther 10:1-3:

And the king Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land, and upon  

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the isles of the sea. And all the acts of his power and of his might, and the declaration of the greatness of Mordecai, whereunto the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia? For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed.

In these verses, God specifically indicates that much information about Mordecai’s greatness in the Media-Persian Kingdom were written in the legal records of the Media-Persian Empire.

Yet the archaeological record says absolutely nothing about any of the individuals named in the Book of Esther. Not one word identifying with the individuals named in the Book of Esther has been found by archaeologists. In all likelihood, if and when the followers of Haman came again into power after King Ahasuerus died, they promptly expunged from the kingdom records all references to the events recorded in the Book of Esther. Thus, a very distorted report of the events that occurred during the reign of that king remains in the secular record. This has made it impossible for the historians and the theologians who trusted the archaeologists to come to truth.

This in turn serves to indicate the great importance of the fact that everything recorded in the Bible can be implicitly trusted. How wonderful it is that every word in the Hebrew language from which we obtain our English translation is absolutely true and trustworthy. It is exquisitely accurate because it was written by God. However, even when we implicitly trust every word in the Bible as being infallibly true, it does not mean that we then can quickly come to truth. For example, when we read the Biblical Books Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther, it appears that God designed these accounts in such a way that it would not be at all easy to discover the true facts regarding the Media-Persian kings and especially the identity of Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther. Of course, God wrote the Bible in such a way that it also is a test to discover which Bible readers trust the archaeologists’ conclusions more than the Bible’s. Unfortunately, when we read Bible commentaries on this subject, it appears that all too frequently the archaeologists’ conclusions are the accepted conclusions.

To illustrate the complexity of the Bible account, we might look at Ezra 6:14:

And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the com  

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mandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.

This verse apparently is speaking of three different kings, one named Cyrus, one named Darius, and one named Artaxerxes. However, please note, the word “commandment” is singular, indicating one commandment was given - not three. Moreover the word “king” is singular, indicating one king - not three. Therefore, it would have been more accurate to translate this verse “. . . according to the commandment of Cyrus, even Darius, even Artaxerxes king of Persia.” It is parallel to Daniel 6:28 which we will learn should have been translated: “So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, even in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” The citation of Ezra 6:14 thus gives us information not found in the secular records, namely, that Cyrus was known by the name Darius as well as by the name or title Artaxerxes.

Returning to the year 539 B.C., the Bible records that, many years earlier, Israel had ceased to exist as a viable nation in their own homeland. We have learned that in the year 709 B.C., exactly 170 years prior to 539 B.C., the ten tribes with their capital in Samaria had been destroyed by the Assyrians. Precisely seventy years earlier than 539 B.C., in the year 609 B.C., Judah had begun to be subjugated by enemies. For a brief time it was Egypt (II Kings 23:29-35), and then it was Babylon (II Kings Chapters 24 and 25), that obtained complete mastery over them. In the year 587 B.C., Jerusalem was conquered and the temple was destroyed. Almost all of the people who were not killed went into Babylonian captivity. Thus Israel had ceased to be a nation in her own homeland.

Meanwhile, God was raising up a king in the heathen empire of the Medes and Persians to bring into action God’s plan to permit Israel to return to their land. This was anticipated by a citation written about 200 years earlier and recorded in Isaiah 44:28. There we read:

That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.

In preparation for the fulfillment of this prophecy, King Cyrus, in the year 559 B.C., began ruling as a Persian king over a Persian tribe that was a servant of the much larger Median kingdom. However, early in his rule, Cyrus conquered the Median Kingdom. Thus, he became ruler of the huge Media-Persian empire that God raised up to fulfill His prophecy of using Cyrus to free the people of Israel from Babylonian bondage and allow them to return to Jerusalem.  

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According to the archaeological record, Cyrus had begun to rule in the year 559 B.C. However, the Bible indicates that the first year of his reign coincided with the end of the seventy-year tribulation Judah had experienced. This was the year 539 B.C., the year that Cyrus conquered Babylon. There is no contradiction between 559 B.C. and 539 B.C. being the first year of King Cyrus. It simply means that the Media-Persian kingdom, which had been ruled over the previous twenty years by King Cyrus, had, in the year 539 B.C., come into its full extent by the inclusion of its rule over Babylon. The year 539 B.C. was the first year of this greatly enlarged kingdom. Thus, as that time, he became the king of the greatest empire that had ever before existed.

This victory over Babylon was immediately followed by Cyrus giving command that the captive Jews could return to their homeland, Israel. We read in Ezra 1:1-3:

Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.

The return of Israel to Jerusalem made it possible for the Jews to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Moreover, as we shall discover, it also set the stage for the completion of the writing of the Old Testament. We will learn that this very important event occurred in the year 391 B.C. We will discover that the year 391 B.C. bears a very significant relationship to two very important years: the year 7 B.C. when Christ was born and the year A.D. 2011 which appears to be the year that Christ will again physically come to end the world.

The Books of the Bible that give us historical information about this period of 539 B.C. to 391 B.C. are Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai, and Zechariah. We should now learn from them that which is necessary to assure us that the last inclusion in the writing of the Old Testament did occur in the year 391 B.C.

It is very interesting that the archaeological record gives considerable information about the kings that ruled between the years 539 B.C. and 391 B.C. However, the Bible also gives considerable information about these same kings. As we have noted, a number of the Biblical citations appear to disagree with the ar  

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chaeological record. Because of a mistrust on their part of the accuracy of the Biblical record in general, the archaeologists and the theologians who have attempted to reconcile the archaeological record with the Biblical have come to some very incorrect conclusions. For example, they have concluded that, for a year or two, King Cyrus had an assistant named King Darius who ruled beginning in 539 B.C. They have also concluded that Xerxes I who ruled during the years 485-465 B.C. was the King Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther.

Fact is, as we noted earlier, God, when writing the Bible, seems to have written about the Media-Persian kings in such a way that anyone who mistrusted any word of the Bible would never be able to determine the true identity of King Ahasuerus of the book of Esther. Even as we read these books of the Bible which contain the names of many of these Media-Persian kings, we may find great difficulty in knowing which of the kings identify with a particular Biblical citation.

We declare, however, that every word of the Bible in the Hebrew language is absolutely trustworthy. Thus, the Bible is the absolute authority out of which a proper understanding of the archaeological record is to be developed. We will now proceed to follow this principle as we set forth the true historical record of the period from 539 B.C. to 391 B.C.

We will begin by naming the Media-Persian Kings that reigned during this period of time. We will then integrate the Biblical record into the archaeological record so that we will have a more complete account. There were nine kings that ruled during this period of time. The dates of their reigns, according to the archaeological record, appear to be accurate and are not in anyway contrary to any Biblical information. Remember, however, that the archaeological record shows King Cyrus beginning to reign in the year 559 B.C., whereas the Bible tells us his first year would have been twenty years later, in the year 539 B.C. Please recall that this was because it was in 539 B.C. that he conquered Babylon and thus became the ruler of the greatest world empire that had ever previously existed. The nine kings and the lengths of their reigns2 that we will examine as follows.


2 We should note that the accession year of each king's reign is given in the above table. However, the following year, the first full year of his reign, is counted as the first year of his reign. Thus, for example, the year 402 B.C. is actually looked upon as the second year of the reign of Artaxerxes II, with 404 B.C. being his accession year and 403 B.C. being the first full year of his reign. Some of the reigns of the Media-Persian kings began and ended in the middle of a year. For example, we have learned that the first year of King Ahasuerus was 404 B.C. and thus, his twelfth year was 392 B.C. However, the twelfth month of his twelfth year would have been approximately March of 391 B.C.  

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King
    Length of Reign (Beginning with accession year)
Cyrus
    559 - 529 B.C.
Cambyses
    529 - 522 B.C.
Smerdis
    522 B.C.
Darius I
    522 - 485 B.C.
Xerxes I
    485 - 465 B.C.
Artaxerxes I
    465 - 424 B.C.
Xerxes II
    424 B.C.
Darius II
    424 - 404 B.C.
Artaxerxes II
    404 - 358 B.C.
Cyrus

We have already begun to look at King Cyrus who reigned from 559 B.C. to 529 B.C. Cyrus King of Persia is the name given him in Ezra 1:1-2, 8 and in Daniel 10:1. As we learned earlier, in Daniel 6:28, he is spoken of as both Cyrus and Darius. There we read:

So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

More accurately in this verse, the conjunction “and” should have been translated as the word “even.” Thus, this verse should read “. . . in the reign of Darius even in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

Darius the Median is the name or title given him in Daniel 5:31, where we read:

And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.

Please note that the next verse assures us that this Darius is the supreme ruler. We read in Daniel 6:1-2:  

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It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; and over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage.

This same name or title is given him in Daniel 11:1:

Also I in the first year of Darius the Mede, even I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him.

Darius the son of Ahasuerus of the seed of the Medes is the name or title given to him in Daniel 9:1:

In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans.

This verse assures us that, even though Cyrus reigned as a Persian king when he first ascended the throne in 559 B.C., in actuality, by birth, he was a Mede. It also assures us that the name or title “Ahasuerus” was already being used by the father of king Cyrus.

Earlier we noted that the most puzzling citation concerning the identity of Cyrus is in Ezra 6:14 where we read . . .“according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.” Here God is telling us that Cyrus also carried the name or title of both Darius and Artaxerxes. Remember we took note of the fact that in this verse the words “commandment” and “king” are singular, that is, there is only one commandment and one king in view. Thus, this should have been translated, . . . “according to the commandment of Cyrus, even Darius, even Artaxerxes, king of Persia.

The archaeological record shows that he was also named Hystespes. It further reveals that his father’s name was Cambyses. Since the Bible tells us in Daniel 9:1 that his father’s name was Ahasuerus, we can know that Ahasuerus was a title. The archaeological record also shows us that his grandfather’s name was Cyrus and that it also was Astyages. Thus, we may conclude that Cyrus was a title like the names Artaxerxes and Darius were titles.

When we attempt to harmonize the above, we can conclude that the given name of Cyrus was Hystespes. He was a Mede by birth, son of a king named Cambyses who carried the title Ahasuerus. Cyrus reigned as a Persian king. He was recognized as King Darius the Mede and as King Cyrus the Persian. He was also called Artaxerxes. As indicated above, in all likelihood the  

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names Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes were titles. In similar manner, for example, the Egyptian kings were called “Pharaoh.” The ruler of Rome was called “Caesar.” The chief official of the United States is called “President.” We can speculate that it was possibly very wise for Hystespes to use the title Darius the Mede when speaking to Median subjects over which he ruled and possibly to use the title Cyrus the Persian when addressing subjects who were Persian.

In Isaiah 44:28 and 45:1, he is named Cyrus. In II Chronicles 36:22-23, he is called Cyrus King of Persia. In the Book of Daniel, every citation concerned with the Media-Persian king speaks of Cyrus even though he is also called Darius the Median, or King Darius, or Darius the son of Ahasuerus. Cyrus is not named in the Books of Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai, or Zechariah.

It was king Cyrus who conquered Babylon in the year 539 B.C., killing Belshazzar the king of Babylon, but, according to the archaeological record, he took the city with virtually no loss of life (Daniel 5:30-31). He immediately decreed that the Jews could return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. He also provided great financial help to them (Ezra Chapter1).

King Cyrus, according to the archaeological record, was killed in battle in the year 529 B.C. His son Cambyses, who apparently was named after Cyrus’ father (who also was called by the name Cambyses and the title Ahasuerus) became king.

Cambyses

Cambyses, the son of the Cyrus named in the Biblical record, was called Artaxerxes and Ahasuerus. In the archaeological record, he was called Cambyses. We read about King Cambyses in the Bible in connection with the attempts of the enemies of Israel to stop the work of temple building. During his reign, the enemies of the Jews were able to stop the building of the temple by obtaining a stop order from King Cambyses. We read in Ezra 4:4-7:

Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, and hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia. And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, wrote they unto him an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions, unto Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter was writ  

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ten in the Syrian tongue, and interpreted in the Syrian tongue.

These enemies could not get the work on the temple stopped while Cyrus was king. However, upon his death, they sent accusations against the Jewish builders to the son of Cyrus, Cambyses (called in the Bible Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes). Thus, they were able to force the cessation of work on the temple. King Cambyses, could not find a record of the decree of his father Cyrus that the temple was to be constructed. He, therefore, issued a decree that the work on the temple was to cease. We read in Ezra 4:23-24:

Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power. Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

King Cambyses the son of Cyrus is referred to in the Bible only in Ezra Chapter 4. He, as we have seen, carried the titles Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes, but his given name Cambyses is not recorded in the Bible.

Darius I

When Cambyses died in the year 522 B.C., another son of Cyrus ascended the throne who was named Darius I. The archaeological record informs us that at that time a usurper to the throne named Smerdis ruled briefly but was killed by Darius I. Darius I was the legitimate heir to the throne, being the son of King Cyrus. The archaeological record shows that he reigned from 522 B.C. to 485 B.C. as a very great ruler. Archaeologists speak of him as Darius the Great. The Bible indicates he was asked to search for the original decree issued by King Cyrus concerning the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 6:1). It was found, and immediately Darius I decreed that the work on the temple was to be resumed. The temple was completed in the year 515 B.C. (Ezra 6:1- 12). Ezra 6:15 declares:

And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.

The name Darius spoken of in the Books of Ezra, Haggai and Zechariah is always this King, Darius I. He is not mentioned in the Books of Nehemiah,  

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Esther, or Daniel. The Bible clearly shows that it was during his reign in the year 515 B.C. that the work of rebuilding the temple was finished.

Xerxes I

King Darius I was followed on the Media-Persian throne by his son who, according to the archaeological record, was called Xerxes I. Xerxes I reigned from 485 B.C. to 465 B.C. He is the king who is commonly understood to be King Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther. This is a strange and unwarranted conclusion because there is no clear archaeological or Biblical evidence to support this conclusion. On the other hand, we will learn that the archaeological as well as the Biblical evidence shows us that King Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther had to be Artaxerxes II who began to rule in the year 404 B.C.

Artaxerxes I

King Xerxes I was followed by his son King Artaxerxes I who ruled from 465 B.C. to 424 B.C. The archaeologists also speak of him as Artaxerxes I Longimanus. There is considerable archaeological evidence that agrees with the Biblical record that identifies this king as the king who in 445 B.C. sent Nehemiah to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall. We read in Nehemiah 2:1, 5:

And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence. And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it.

He is also the king spoken of in Ezra 7:1,6-7 as having given orders to the priest Ezra to reestablish the Law of God in Jerusalem.

Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah, this Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him. And there went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the sing  

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ers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, unto Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king.

The seventh year of King Artaxerxes I was 458 B.C. This king died in the year 424 B.C. He was followed by his son Xerxes II who was murdered after he had reigned only two months. Thereupon another son, Darius II, ascended to the throne. Darius II reigned from 424 B.C. to 404 B.C. There is nothing in the Bible that identifies with either Xerxes II or with Darius II.

Artaxerxes II – King Ahasuerus of the Book Of Esther

The Media-Persian king who immediately followed Darius II was Artaxerxes II who reigned from 404 B.C. to 358 B.C. The archaeologists also speak of him as Artaxerxes II Memnon. We will learn that he must have been King Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther. As we noted earlier in our study, there are no archaeological statements that speak of any of the individuals named in the Book of Esther other than the king himself. Even the king spoken of in the secular record does not readily identify with King Ahasuerus of the Bible. Neither wicked Haman, nor his ten sons, nor Esther nor Mordecai are named anywhere in the secular accounts. Fact is, many archaeologists and historians look upon the Book of Esther simply as a novel and not at all as having any historical reality. How wonderful that we can know that the Bible gives us trustworthy historical information!

It is very important that we take note of Biblical information that relates to this matter of the actuality of the events recorded in the Book of Esther. We read in Esther 10:1-3:

And the king Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land, and upon the isles of the sea. And all the acts of his power and of his might, and the declaration of the greatness of Mordecai, whereunto the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia? For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed.

Based upon the truth of this citation, we would expect to find extensive and detailed information about Esther and Mordecai in the archaeological record. The fact that none has been found clearly indicates extensive tampering with the legal records of the Media-Persian kingdom as it existed in that time of  

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history. This could also have seriously limited the ability of ancient historians to produce a true historical account of that period of history.

Because no written records have been found mentioning names such as Haman, Esther, or Mordecai, as we noted earlier in our study, archaeologists and theologians have speculated that King Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther was actually Xerxes I. Their basis for this conclusion is given, for example, in a Bible dictionary where we read:

Ahasuerus, Hebrew ‘achashwerosh’ representing the Persian ‘Khshayarsha,’ which in Greek became ‘Xerxes.’ King of Persia, mentioned in the Book of Esther. There seems little doubt that he is to be identified with the well-known Xerxes, who reigned from 485 B.C. to 465 B.C. The main support for this identification is to be found in the linguistic equivalence of the names noted above. In addition, a close similarity has been noted between the character of Xerxes and the character of the king of the Persians portrayed in the Book of Esther. 3

We can learn from the Bible that this idea that the Persian spelling of the word “Xerxes” being similar to the Hebrew spelling of the word “Ahasuerus” is altogether without justification. In analyzing this reason for concluding that Xerxes I was the Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther, we should remember that nowhere in the Bible is the name or title “Xerxes” to be found.

However, even though there is no suggestion of any kind of a King Xerxes, there is a word in the Bible that gives us the Hebrew spelling of the word “Xerxes.” This is because the word “Artaxerxes” which is found several places in the Bible is formed of two parts – Arta and Xerxes. The Hebrew spelling is “Arta chshasta.” This allows us to know that the Hebrew spelling of the word “Xerxes,”when transliterated to our English, is “chshasta.”

Thus, we can compare the transliteration of the Persian word for “Xerxes” with the Hebrew spelling of the words “Xerxes” and “Ahasuerus.” We immediately see the following:

Persian word for Xerxes Khshayarsha
Hebrew word for Xerxes Chshasta
Hebrew word for Ahasuerus Achashwerosh

The similarity between the first five letters of the Persian and Hebrew spellings of the word Xerxes can readily be seen. But please note, the


3 Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary, 1963, page 23.  

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spelling of the Persian word for Xerxes is not similar to the Hebrew word for Ahasuerus.

In actuality, the name “Ahasuerus” in all likelihood was a title like “Pharaoh” or “Caesar.” This is strongly suggested by taking note of two other words found in the Bible. As we learned, the Hebrew word “Ahasuerus” is transliterated in our alphabet as “achashwerosh.” A very similar word, “achashdarpan” is translated as “prince” (Daniel 6:1-7). Additionally the word “achashdarpenin” is translated as “lieutenants” in Esther 3:12, 8:9, and 9:3.

It is easy to see the similarity of these three words.

a cha sh werosh Ahasuerus
a cha sh darpan prince
a cha sh dar penin lieutenants
Since the second and third words signify the titles “prince” and “lieutenant,” it is easy to see the likelihood that the first word also signifies a title. Since Ahasuerus was a king, even as Pharaoh (a title) was king of Egypt, we strongly suspect that the word “Ahasuerus” is equivalent to “king” just as the word “Pharaoh” is equivalent to “king.”

Given this clue, what could be another name for Ahasuerus? The Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament, translates the word “Ahasuerus” as Artaxerxes. Josephus, a Jewish historian who lived about the time of Christ, also emphasizes that Ahasuerus was Artaxerxes. Of course, we cannot trust the Septuagint and Josephus as we do the Bible. Their conclusions, however, do reflect the common opinion of about 2,000 years ago.

Their conclusions also agree with the testimony of the Bible which speaks of another Media-Persian king being called both Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes. Remember we read in Ezra 4:6, 11:

And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, wrote they unto him an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. This is the copy of the letter that they sent unto him, even unto Artaxerxes the king; Thy servants the men on this side the river, and at such a time.

The context shows that Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes are names for the same king. This particular king was Cambyses who reigned from 529 B.C.-522 B.C.

Another fact that should be noted is the contradictory conclusions of archaeologists and historians as they interpret the secular records of Artaxerxes II and that of his son Artaxerxes III. Curiously, the historical, archaeological  

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record shows the reign of Artaxerxes II was that of an ineffectual feeble ruler. On the other hand, his son Artaxerxes III, who reigned after the death of his father in 358 B.C., seems to have saved the kingdom. We read:

Artaxerxes III, who, though he shed rivers of blood and all but exterminated his whole family, was successful in uniting once more the empire, which under the feeble sway of his father had been threatened with dissolution. 4

On the other hand, in somewhat contradictory fashion, it is reported:

When the long reign of Artaxerxes II came to a close in the autumn of 358 B.C. the authority of the empire had been restored almost everywhere. 5

The above citations truly suggest that the authority and power of Artaxerxes II was worldwide to the end of his life. However, the cruel character of his son Artaxexes III suggests a ruler who would go to any extreme to get full credit to himself. Therefore, the obliteration of the record of the name and activity of the Jew, Mordecai, who became second-in-command, could be expected. Moreover, we can surely expect that the wicked Haman, who at one time had great authority under the rule of King Ahasuerus, must have had friends and fellow party members who would reassert their authority once the king died. If they were aligned with Artaxerxes III, they too, would have had great reason to remove all references to the Jew, Mordecai, ruling as second-in-command to King Ahasuerus (Artaxerxes II).

In the archaeological record, there has been found a very helpful piece of evidence that ties Artaxerxes II to the Book of Esther. It was discovered when the ruins of the ancient city of Shushan were excavated many years ago. The throne room, called the “Apandana,” was also excavated. A report concerning this excavation reads as follows:

The Apandana was the king’s throne room, or great Hypo-Hall, which covered nearly an acre of ground. It was supported by thirty-six noble columns – six rows of six each – with capitals carved in the form of bulls kneeling back to back, and by long cedar of Lebanon beams spanning the great distance between the massive columns. Here came the king when he “sat on the throne of his kingdom,” and here were held his banquets and state social events such as the prolonged banquet described in the first chapter of the Book of Esther. The


4 Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 17, 1959, page 555.

5 Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 2, 1959, page 448.  

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floor of the throne room was “a pavement of red, and blue and white and black marble,” just as it had been described in the Book of Esther. 6

Please note the reference to the red, blue, white, and black pavement which matches the language of Esther 1:6: “. . . upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black, marble.

Of great significance was an inscription that was written in three languages on four of the column pedestals of this throne room. This inscription declares:

Says Artaxerxes, the great King, the King of Kings, the King of all the countries upon the earth, the son of King Darius, the son of King Artaxerxes, the son of King Xerxes, the son of King Darius, the son of King Darius Hystespes. My ancestor Darius built this Apandana (throne room of the palace) in former times. In the time of Artaxerxes, my grandfather, it was burnt by fire. I have restored it.7

This inscription was placed there by a King Artaxerxes who can only be Artaxerxes II who reigned from 404 B.C. to 358 B.C.

Please note the similarity of some of the statements in this inscription to the Biblical account. The above inscription states:

. . . the great King, the King of Kings, the King of all the countries upon the earth.

The Bible states in Esther 1:1:

. . . this is Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even to Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces.

The number 127 is used in another place in the Bible to illustrate that which is worldwide. Sarah, the wife of Abraham, is the only woman in the entire Bible whose life span is given. She died at the age of 127 (Genesis 23:1). Profoundly, Sarah is a picture of all the true believers that exist throughout time throughout the world. We read in Galatians 4:27-28, 31:


6 Archaeology and the Bible, G. Frederick Owen, Fleming H. Revell Co., 1961, pages 166-167.

7 op. cit., page 166.  

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For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

These verses teach that Sarah, the mother of Isaac, symbolically was the mother of every true believer. Therefore, we may understand that her life span of 127 years encompasses the entire number of all true believers who will be saved throughout the history of the world. Therefore, we may likewise conclude that spiritually the 127 provinces ruled over by Ahasuerus represent the whole world, with Ahasuerus himself representing God who rules the whole world. Therefore, the inscription Artaxerxes II wrote on the column pedestals in which he speaks of being “King of all the countries upon the earth” is amazing in its similarity to the Biblical message that his kingdom included 127 provinces. The inscription further states:

In the time of Artaxerxes, my grandfather, it was burnt with fire . . . I restored it.

We know that the Artaxerxes named in this citation was Artaxerxes I who was the grandfather of Artaxerxes II.

We read in Esther 1:3-4:

In the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him: when he shewed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honour of his excellent majesty many days, even an hundred and fourscore days.

Surely the language of Esther 1:3-4 could identify with a lavish “open house” lasting 180 days in which Artaxerxes II is displaying the beautiful restored palace that had been partially destroyed by fire during the reign of his grandfather, Artaxerxes I, who reigned from 465 B.C. to 424 B.C. And now, Artaxerxes II has restored it.

We are truly seeing a great deal of circumstantial evidence which shows that King Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther can only be Artaxerxes II who reigned from 404 B.C. to 358 B.C. At the same time, because of the magnificent accuracy of the Bible, our understanding of the archaeological record is greatly enhanced.  

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It is significant that God has not directed theologians to look at Artaxerxes II as King Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther. It almost appears that God very purposefully has caused theologians of the past to remain in ignorance concerning this matter. We do know that the identity of King Ahasuerus is crucial to knowing when the last insertion was made into the Old Testament. We will also presently learn that the timing of this last insertion gives very important clues, not only to the timetable of the birth of Christ, but also to the timing of His appearing on the last day of the world’s existence.

THE BOOK OF ESTHER–A Historical Parable

When we examine the events recorded in the Book of Esther, we can see how they clearly identify with the events that occur at the time the world comes to an end. The Book of Esther, like the Book of Jonah, is a historical parable. That is, it is a true historical narrative placed in the Bible to illustrate spiritual truth. The chief characters and what they spiritually represent are as follows:

    Chief Character
    Spiritual Representation
    King Ahasuerus
    Almighty God
    Provinces ruled over by King Ahasuerus
    All the kingdoms of the world
    Queen Vashti
    Nation of Israel
    Queen Esther
    All true believers headed up by Christ
    Mordecai
    The Holy Spirit
    Haman
    Satan
    Haman’s ten sons
    Satan represented by the ten horns of Revelation 12:3, 13:1, etc.
    Media-Persian Empire
    The whole world

Simply outlined, the narrative begins with Queen Vashti disobeying the king (Esther Chapter 1) and, therefore, being replaced by Queen Esther (Esther 2:1-17). This points to the nation of Israel, who, in the Old Testament, was  

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spiritually married to God (Jeremiah 3:14), but who was replaced by the New Testament true believers who become the bride of Christ (Isaiah 54:1-3; Ephesians 5:25-27; Revelation 19:7-8). In this historical parable, Esther therefore represents:

  1. The New Testament true believers who are married to Christ.
  2. Christ Himself as the head of the true believers.

Included in the Media-Persian kingdom of King Ahasuerus were the Jews who lived in the capital city, Shushan, which was located east of Babylon, as well as in many of the other 127 provinces (Esther 1:1-2). These Jews represent all genuine believers who are scattered all through the world.

The wicked Haman, who was very highly placed in the kingdom, managed to get permission to kill all the Jews. Unbeknownst to the king, this extermination was to include Queen Esther (Esther Chapter 3). Haman cast the lot (like throwing dice) to determine which day the annihilation of the Jews would take place. The answer was the thirteenth day of the twelfth month of the twelfth year (Esther 3:7; 9:1) of the reign of King Ahasuerus.

Queen Esther, at the risk of her own life, pleaded for the Jews and received permission from the king that allowed the Jews to fight against Haman’s ten sons and all the enemies of the Jews (Esther Chapters 4-8). The king also had Haman executed because he had plotted to have Esther killed (Esther 7:7- 10). Therefore, on the appointed day, the Jews were completely victorious over their enemies, and the ten sons of Haman were hanged (Esther 9:1-25). This historical victory by the king’s command was, thereafter, annually celebrated by the Jewish nation as the feast of Purim, a word signifying the casting of the lot (Hebrew “pur”) (Esther 9:17-32).

This historical parable is definitely pointing to the end of the world when Satan and all the unsaved will be cast into the Second Death, eternal damnation. It also gives very valuable information relating to the Biblical Calendar of History.

It surely is very significant that, in the Book of Esther, there is very clear reference to recording in a book the historical events of the Book of Esther. We read in Esther 9:32:

And the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim; and it was written in the book.

The only book that can be in view is the Bible because that is where these events are recorded. Furthermore, because the twelfth month of the twelfth  

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year of King Ahasuerus (Artaxerxes II) is the year 391 B.C., we know it is in that year that the last insertion was made into the Bible. There is no indication anywhere in the Bible of an insertion being made at a date later than 391 B.C. The occasion for this inclusion was particularly significant even as the year 391 B.C. proves to be particularly significant.

The occasion was the death of Haman and his ten sons together with more than 75,000 enemies of Israel. As we noted earlier, this is actually a historical parable pointing to the final end of Satan and the wicked of the world who have been plotting the overthrow of Christ and His kingdom. Haman clearly is a picture or type representing Satan. His ten sons surely represent the rule of Satan during the Great Tribulation. We are distinctly reminded of Revelation 20:7-8:

And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.

This end time language thus focuses the Book of Esther upon the end of the world when Christ will return.

The Book of Esther also focuses on Jesus coming as Savior, as Christ was typified by Esther. Remember, she was willing to give her life in her desire to save the lives of her people, Israel (Esther 4:16). Thus, the Book of Esther focuses in a very unique way upon both the first coming of Jesus as Savior and upon His second coming as Judge of all of the earth.

Curiously, the year 391 B.C. also appears to anticipate the two awesome events of Jesus’ literal appearance on this earth. We will learn that it was in the Jubilee Year of 7 B.C. that Christ appeared as a baby in a manger. It is in all likelihood that, in A.D. 2011, He will appear in the clouds as He comes at the end of this world’s existence.

It is curious and even amazing that in the year 391 B.C., when God’s Word of the Old Testament was finally completed, the year 391 B.C. itself was anticipating Christ’s coming as the perfect fulfilment of the Word of God. The time duration from 391 B.C. to 7 B.C. when Jesus was born equals 384 years. When we break the number 384 down to find any spiritual meaning, we find it breaks down to 3 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 384. Please note the number 3 which spiritually signifies God’s divine purpose. Please note the number 2 which spiritually signifies the caretakers of the Gospel. Jesus is the quintessential caretaker because He is the very essence of the Gospel. Please note that  

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there are 7 “2s.” The number 7 spiritually signifies that which is perfect or that which is a perfect fulfillment. The 7 “2s” thus signify that the coming of Jesus as the Savior is the perfect fulfillment of God’s intentions for the Gospel.

But Christ, the essence of the Gospel, is coming at the end of the world to complete the Gospel in every aspect. We are learning in this study that could be A.D. 2011. Amazingly, the year 391 B.C. anticipates A.D. 2011 in a most remarkable way.

391 B.C. - A.D. 2011 = 2,402 years

Because there is no year zero, we must subtract one year, giving a total of 2,401 years. To discover the spiritual significance, if any exists, in the number 2,401, we must break it down to its fundamental numbers. Amazingly, the number 2,401 breaks down into:

7 x 7 x 7 x 7 = 2,401 years.

The number 7 points to perfect fulfillment. The 4 “7s” focus our attention on the number 4 or upon the number 2 x 2. The number 4 spiritually signifies the extreme end, thus giving us the idea that, at the time the Word of God ended in the Old Testament era in the year 391 B.C., God is pointing us to its perfect completion (number 7) in the extreme end of time (number 4) which may be A.D. 2011.

It might be noted that there was one other time tied to the year 391 B.C. which stands out in relationship to the coming of the Lord Jesus. Jesus grew up in the village of Nazareth and was known by His friends as a carpenter. That is, for many years, there was no public evidence that He was the Messiah.

But later in this study, we will learn that, when He was almost thirtyfive years of age, He officially began His work as the Messiah. We will learn that it was in September of A.D. 29 that John the Baptist announced “. . . Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). On the same day, God announced from Heaven “. . . This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). From the day of these enormously important announcements, Jesus became fully engaged in His work as the Messiah. He was born into this world in 7 B.C. His appearance to the world as the Messiah was in A.D. 29.

Again, we are fascinated by the relationship of A.D. 29 to the year 391 B.C., the year the last insertion was made into the Old Testament.  

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Adding 29 to 391 gives a sum of 420 inclusive years. The number 420 breaks down into the significant numbers 10 (completeness) x 7 (perfect fullness) x 3 (God’s purpose) x 2 (caretakers of the Gospel). Just as the numbers 3, 2, and 7 are featured by the year of the birth of Christ as it relates to the year 391 B.C., so the same numbers are featured as Christ officially began His work as the Messiah.

Of course, all of this may be coincidental. However, as we learn that God does use numbers and number patterns to illustrate spiritual truth, we should not be surprised if these number patterns are assisting in focusing our eyes on the possibility that A.D. 2011 may be the last year of this world’s existence. Fact is, from time to time, we have indicated that there could be important spiritual significance to certain time intervals that have occurred as God has unfolded His salvation plan. Therefore, before we continue down the highway of time, we should address the subject of God’s use of numbers in the Bible. This we will do as we continue our study.


Chapter 6 Table of Contents Chapter 8