Old Testament Timeline: An Overview*

The following dates (all b.c.) are close approximations based on correlating dates between the Bible and other ancient Near Eastern sources (largely from Assyrian accession lists, Babylonian king-lists, or Egyptian historical sources). Often dates can be confirmed between the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires by narratives recording contacts between these two countries.

Patriarchs to Judges (c. 2166–1030)

1446 Date for Exodus** 1260 Date for Exodus**
Abraham 2166–1991 2000–1825
Isaac 2066–1886 1900–1720
Jacob 2006–1859 1840–1693
Joseph 1915–1805 1749–1639
Moses’ birth 1526 1340
Exodus 1446 1260
Desert wanderings 1446–1406 1260–1220
Entrance into Canaan 1406 1220
Period of the judges 1375 to 1050–1030 1210 to 1050–1030

United Monarchy (c. 1050–931)

Dates Notes
Saul’s reign 1050–1030 to 1010 Numerals relating to Saul’s age and length of reign may be missing in the Hebrew text (see 1 Sam. 13:1)***
David’s reign 1010–971
Solomon’s reign 971–931

Divided Monarchy to Exile (931–586)

Kingdom divided 931 See The Divided Kingdom: Kings of Judah and The Divided Kingdom: Kings of Israel
Syro-Ephraimite war 740–732 Pekah (Israel) and Rezin (Syria) pressure Jotham and Ahaz (Judah) to join their opposition to Tiglath-pileser III (Assyria)
Fall of Samaria (Israel) 722 Shalmaneser V (727–722) and Sargon II (722–705) of Assyria
Josiah’s reforms 628
Battle of Carchemish 605 Daniel and three friends exiled to Babylon
Jerusalem attacked 597 Nebuchadnezzar II takes exiles to Babylon including Jehoiachin and Ezekiel
Fall of Jerusalem (Judah) 586 Nebuchadnezzar II takes more exiles to Babylon

Return from Exile (539–445)

Fall of Babylon 539 Cyrus of Persia (539–530)
1st return of exiles to Jerusalem 538
Temple building begins 536
Temple completed 516 Darius I (522–486)
Esther in palace of Xerxes 478 Xerxes I/Ahasuerus (485–464)
2nd return of exiles to Jerusalem under Ezra 458 Artaxerxes I (464–423)
3rd return of exiles to Jerusalem under Nehemiah 445

*See also Historical Books Timeline; The Divided Kingdom: Kings of Judah and The Divided Kingdom: Kings of Israel.

**See The Date of the Exodus.

***Possible dates for the beginning of Saul’s reign are calculated based on other data in the OT: e.g., David’s age at accession and length of reign (2 Sam. 5:4–5); Ish-bosheth’s age when he became king (2 Sam. 2:10); and Jonathan’s probable age in relation to both Ish-bosheth and David, presuming that Jonathan was Saul’s firstborn son (1 Sam. 14:49; 31:2) and was at least 20 when referred to as a commander of troops early in Saul’s reign (1 Sam. 13:2).