Pre-Christian Background

(Dates on this page are B.C.)
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5509 This year was the starting point for the apo ktiseos kosmou (AKK) or anno mundi (AM) chronological system commonly employed by East Roman (Byzantine) scholars from about the fifth century.  In this system, then, 1 A.D. corresponds to the year of the world 5509/5510.  2001 A.D. is thus 7509/7510, 7509 through 31 August and 7510 thereafter, since the East Roman year began with 1 September.  (A variant system, known as the Alexandrian era and attributed to the fifth century monk Panodorus, began on August 29, 5493 B.C.)

5199 In the Anno Mundi chronological system attributed to Eusebius and common in the West before the adoption of the Anno Domini system, this year was the starting point.

4004 The year of the creation according to Bishop Ussher (1581-1656), an Anglo-Irish (Protestant) priest.

776 First Olympic games held.  (Important for dating purposes only.)

753 The year of the founding of Rome.  Used in the A.U.C. (Anno Urbis Conditae) system.  754 A.U.C. = 1 A.D.  The Roman year began with the Kalends of March (1 March).


~537 Return of Jewish exiles under Sheshbazzar, with Zerubabbel (grandson of Jehoiachin, the last of David's ancestors to enjoy political power) and Jeshua (Ezra 2.2).

536 Rebuilding of the temple begun (Ezra 3.8).

520  Rebuilding of the temple reinitiated under during Darius'  second year (Ezra 4.24).

516 Temple completed in Darius' sixth year (Ezra 6.15).

458 Ezra traveled from Babylon to Jerusalem.  He called an assembly - the people separated themselves from their foreign wives (Ezra 10).

445 Nehemiah travels to Jerusalem as governor and oversees the reconstruction of the city's wall (Nehemiah 6.15).  Ezra read the Law aloud to the people near the Water Gate (Neh. 8.3).

250 The Septuagint translation of the Torah accomplished in Alexandria, Egypt, about this time under Ptolemy Philadelphus.

166-142 The Maccabean revolt, led by Mattathias.  Judea became independent of the Seleucids.  The Hasmonean dynasty (Mattathias' descendants).

722 The fall of Israel to Shalmanesser V and Sargon II of Assyria.

586 Jerusalem destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar's forces after a two year siege.

539 Cyrus (559-530) captured Babylon in October.  Soon thereafter, he proclaimed that the temple in Jerusalem should be rebuilt.  About 50,000 Jews returned.

522 Darius I (522-486) king of Persia.

520 Haggai and Zechariah began preaching around this year.

486 Reign of Xerxes (486-465), king of Persia.

465 Reign of Artaxerxes (465-424), king of Persia.

445 Artaxerxes' command to rebuild Jerusalem's walls (Neh. 2.4-8).  Many begin Daniel's prophecy of the seventy weeks from this date (Dan. 9.25).

433 Malachi likely written when Nehemiah briefly returned to Persia during this year and the people again disregarded the Law.

332 Alexander the Great conquered Palestine.

198 Rule of Palestine transferred from the Ptolemies (Egypt) to the Seleucids (Syria).

175 Antioches Epiphanes (175-164) came to power as Seleucid ruler of Palestine.  He attempted to Hellenize the Jews.

63 Pompey conquered Jerusalem for Rome.

44 Caesar assassinated, 15 March.

43 Octavian (Caesar’s nephew, later known as Augustus), Mark Antony, and Leupidus rule Rome as a triumvirate.

42 The Senate recognized Julius Caesar as a god.

37 Herod the Great (ruled 37-4? BC) became king of Judea, appointed by the senate of Rome. 

30 In August, Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide in Alexandria after their defeat by Octavian’s forces.  In spite of the fact that Herod had backed Antony, Octavian confirmed him as king of Judea.

20 Construction began on the Herod’s temple in Jerusalem.

9 The Julian calendar adopted in Asia Minor.  There, the civil year began on 23 September, IX Kalendarum Octobris, Augustus’ birthday.