A Timeline of the Bible

By Tim Lambert

(The dates for the Old Testament are traditional but not everyone agrees with them).

2,166 BC Abraham was born

According to the Bible Abraham was born in the great city of Ur in what is now southern Iraq. Ur was a city-state and it was part of an ancient culture called the Sumerian. Hundreds of years before Abraham was born the Sumerians had become highly civilized.

However, Abraham and his father Terah, and his wife Sarai (Sarah) moved to the city of Haran in northern Iraq.

After Terah died God told Abraham to leave his homeland (modern-day Iraq) and go to Canaan (modern-day Israel). Abraham faithfully obeyed.

2066 BC Abraham and Sarah had a son called Isaac. When he grew up Isaac married Rebekah.

2006 BC Jacob and his brother Esau were born to Isaac and Rebekah

When they grew up Jacob, with help from his mother, disguised himself as Esau and tricked his father Isaac into blessing him. At that time people believed that if a father blessed his son that son would become the leader of the family after his father’s death. He would inherit a double portion of his father’s property. They also believed that once a blessing was given it could not be withdrawn. A blessing was legally binding.

Fearing his brother would take revenge Jacob fled to his mother’s brother Laban. He worked for Laban for 21 years. Finally, Jacob returned to Canaan with his two wives and his livestock and was reconciled with his brother.

1915 BC Joseph was born

1898 BC Joseph was sold into slavery

Jacob had 12 sons but Joseph was his favorite. Their father’s favoritism made the other brothers jealous. One day they sold Joseph as a slave and told their father Jacob that Joseph was dead. Joseph was taken to Egypt and sold to a man named Potiphar.

After being falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife Joseph was sent to prison. However, God enabled Joseph to interpret their dreams. He interpreted those of a butler and a baker. The butler was later released.

Later still Pharaoh had a dream, that no one could interpret. The butler remembered Joseph and suggested he might be able to help. Joseph was summoned and God enabled him to interpret the dream. It foretold seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Pharaoh then made him Vizier, or second in command.

1876 BC Joseph’s father and brothers settled in Egypt

Joseph was eventually reconciled with his brothers and the Pharaoh welcomed his family to come and live in Egypt

C. 1600 BC The Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians

In time the Israelites grew in number and the Egyptians enslaved them. Pharaoh also ordered the midwives to kill all male children but they disobeyed.

1526 BC Moses was born

An Israelite woman named Jochebed gave birth to a boy and she hid him in a basket on the Nile, among the reeds. Pharaoh’s daughter found the child and adopted him. However, when he grew up Moses killed an Egyptian and was forced to flee from Egypt.

1446 BC The Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt

According to the Old Testament God appeared to Moses in a burning bush. He told Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt.

Moses and his brother Aaron told Pharaoh God commanded him to let the Israelites go but Pharaoh repeatedly refused so God sent plagues on Egypt.

Pharaoh eventually agreed to let the Israelites go but he soon changed his mind and chased them with his army. However, God caused the Red Sea to part, letting the Israelites through. Yet when the Egyptians attempted to follow the waters flowed back into place and they were drowned.

The Israelites then marched through Sinai. When they did so God gave them laws to live by including the 10 commandments.

1444 BC Spies were sent to Canaan

God told Moses to send spies to explore Canaan. Two of them, Joshua and Caleb were convinced they could capture the land. However, 10 spies reported that the Canaanites were much too strong to be conquered.

Angry at their lack of faith God declared that nobody over the age of 20 would enter the promised land (except Joshua and Caleb). So the Israelites spent 40 years wandering in the desert before they entered Canaan.

1406 BC Moses died and Joshua took over

The Bible claims the Israelites invaded Canaan. It was divided into city-states. Each little country had a fortified city as its center.

The Israelites invaded Canaan from the east across the River Jordan. God caused the River Jordan to dry up to allow the Israelites to pass. They then destroyed the city of Ai.

However, the people of Gibeon tricked the Israelites into making a treaty with them. The kings of five cities then attacked the Gibeonites, angry that they had made peace with the invaders. The Gibeonites appealed to Joshua for help so the Israelites fought and defeated the five kings near Gibeon. Afterward, they conquered most of the southern cities of Canaan.

The Israelites then turned north and defeated the northern cities. Joshua then divided up the conquered land between the 12 tribes of Israel.

However, not all of Canaan was conquered. The Canaanites still held some areas, including Jerusalem.

1367-1327 Othniel rules as judge

After Joshua’s death, the Israelites started worshiping idols. So God allowed the Aramites (a people from southern Syria) to oppress them. However, when the Israelites cried out to God he raised up Othniel to lead them. The Israelites overpowered the Aramites and Othniel ruled for 40 years.

1316-1236 Ehud saved the Israelites from the Moabites, the Ammonites, and the Amalekites. Afterward, Israel had peace for 80 years.

1209 Deborah defeated the Canaanites

The Israelites went back to worshiping idols so God allowed Jabin the king of Hazor (a Canaanite city in the north of what is now Israel) to oppress them. However, a judge named Deborah led the Israelites and they crushed the Canaanites in battle.

1162 Gideon defeated the Midianites

Once again the Israelites returned to idolatry so God allowed the Midianites to oppress them. (The Midianites came from Arabia and they rode camels). Once again the Israelites cried out to God and he raised up Gideon.

Gideon raised an army but God said there were too many of them. God wanted to make it clear it was he who defeated the Midianites. It was not due to the skill or courage of the Israelites. So God cut down Gideon’s army until there were only 300 men left.

They carried trumpets and jars with torches inside. At night they crept up to the Midianite camp. They blew their trumpets and smashed their jars and showed their torches. Panic-stricken the Midianites began fighting each other. They then fled and an army of Israelites pursued them.

C. 1105 The prophet Samuel was born

During his lifetime the Israelites fought the Philistines. They were originally from Crete and they invaded Canaan from the sea. The Philistines lived in Southwest Canaan and they fought the Israelites as both peoples tried to dominate the region.

The Philistines won a great battle and they captured the Ark of the Covenant. However, God sent an epidemic to punish them so the Philistines sent the ark back.

Some years later the Israelites returned to God and put away their idols. As a result, they crushed the Philistines at the battle of Mizpah.

C. 1078-1072 Jephthah the judge defeated the Ammonites

1050 Saul became king

Until then the Israelites were divided into twelve tribes. However, the people demanded a king to rule over them. So Samuel anointed Saul as the first king of Israel. Saul first defeated the Ammonites (a people who lived Northeast of the Dead Sea). He also fought a series of wars against the Philistines.

However, Saul disobeyed God. Through Samuel God told him to destroy the Amalekites. God told him to kill them all and to kill all their cattle, sheep, camels, and donkeys. Yet Saul spared the life of Agag, king of the Amalekites and he kept the best of the animals alive.

So Samuel told Saul that God had rejected him. Samuel then anointed a shepherd boy called David king of Israel. (Nevertheless, Saul continued to reign as king for the rest of his life).

David killed Goliath the Philistine champion and he became a hero. Saul grew very jealous of David and tried to kill him so David was forced to flee.

1010 Saul and his son Jonathan were killed in a battle with the Philistines

1010-1003 David was king of Judah

After Saul’s death, David was accepted as king by the tribe of Judah but at first, he was not accepted by the rest of Israel

1003 David became king of all Israel

Eventually, all the tribes accepted David as king. Furthermore, David captured Jerusalem from a people called the Jebusites.

In a series of wars, David also defeated the Philistines and the Moabites (people who lived east of the Dead Sea). He also defeated the Amorites from southern Syria and the Ammonites from the Northeast of the Dead Sea. David also conquered the Edomites, who lived south of the Dead Sea. By the time David died in 970, Israel was a strong and secure kingdom.

970-930 Solomon was king of Israel

During Solomon’s reign, Israel became a rich country. Solomon built a great palace for himself. He also built a magnificent temple in Jerusalem. However, Solomon also alienated the people by imposing heavy taxes and using forced labor.

930 Solomon died and Rehoboam became king

The Israelites appealed to Rehoboam to reduce the burdens his father laid on them but he refused. As a result, the kingdom split. Judah and Benjamin formed the kingdom of Judah in the south with Jerusalem as its capital. Rehoboam continued to rule in Judah.

However, in the north 10 tribes broke away and formed a kingdom they called Israel. Its capital was, at first, at Shechem and later at Samaria. Jeroboam was its first king.

After the split, both kingdoms drifted away from God and turned to worship idols.

874-853 Ahab ruled the kingdom of Israel

According to the Bible Ahab was a wicked man. He married an evil woman from Sidon (in modern-day Lebanon) called Jezebel. Ahab also worshiped Baal the weather god and built a temple for him. Furthermore, Jezebel killed many of God’s prophets.

However, the prophet Elijah asked the people to put Baal and God to the test to see which one was real. God proved he was real by sending fire from Heaven and the people killed the prophets of Baal. Eventually, Ahab was killed in a battle with the Syrians.

Elijah was later taken up to Heaven in a chariot of fire and the prophet Elisha took his place.

841-814 Jehu ruled Israel

He killed all of Ahab’s family. He also killed the priests of Baal. However, Jehu was not a truly good man and he served God half-heartedly.

The Assyrians came from northern Iraq. After 900 BC they began building a great empire. The Assyrians were formidable soldiers but they were also infamous for their cruelty.

C. 785-775 The prophet Jonah lived. Jonah means dove.

C. 760-750 BC The prophet Amos lived. Amos means one with a burden.

During Amos’s lifetime, Israel was a rich kingdom. However, wealth was very unevenly distributed. Amos was appalled by the oppression of the poor by the rich and he demanded social justice.

C. 750 The city of Rome is founded

740-686 The prophet Micah lived in Judah. Micah strongly criticized the rich for oppressing the poor.

c. 750-715 The prophet Hosea appealed to the people of Israel to stop worshiping idols and return to God

740-681 The prophet Isaiah lived in Judah

738 The Assyrians captured Galilee (the northern part of Israel) and deported many of the inhabitants to other parts of their empire

725 Shalmaneser, ruler of the Assyrians captured Hoshea the last king of Israel

722 After a 3-year siege the Assyrians captured Samaria, the capital of Israel

The Assyrians deported many of the Israelites from Samaria to other parts of their empire. Only the poorest Israelites were left behind.

715-686 Hezekiah was king of Judah. Hezekiah was a good man who trusted God and removed idols.

701 Sennacherib the ruler of the Assyrians besieged Jerusalem

The Assyrians boasted that no god had ever been able to save his people from their army. However, during the night, God killed many thousands of the Assyrian soldiers who camped outside Jerusalem, saving the city.

686-642 Manasseh was king of Judah. Manasseh was an evil king who worshiped idols

C. 640-609 At this time Zephaniah prophesied that God would judge the surrounding nations

The prophet Zephaniah prophesied that the Assyrians, the Philistines, the Moabites, and the Ammonites would all be judged. (Later they were destroyed by the Babylonians).

C. 630 The prophet Nahum prophesied that Assyria would be destroyed

625 Babylon, one of the cities ruled by the Assyrians rebelled

612 The Assyrians were destroyed

The Babylonians and a people called the Medes from what is now Iran destroyed Nineveh the capital of the Assyrian Empire. So the Assyrian Empire came to an end.

However, the Babylonians then created their own empire to replace the Assyrian one and in time they turned their eyes on Judah.

640-609 Josiah was king of Israel

Josiah was a good man who ordered men to repair God’s temple in Jerusalem. By accident, they found part of the Old Testament there and Josiah tried to enforce all of its requirements. Josiah tried to rid his kingdom of idols. But after his death, the people went back to worshiping idols.

C. 605 God warned the prophet Habakkuk that he was going to use the Babylonians to punish Judah

C. 605-586 The prophet Obadiah prophesied the destruction of the Edomites. (They were destroyed by the Babylonians).

626-586 The prophet Jeremiah lived at this time

Jeremiah prophesied the destruction of Judah as a judgment of her sins

597 The Babylonians conquered Jerusalem

This time they took the king of Judah, Jehoiachin, prisoner and they placed Zedekiah on the throne as a puppet king. However, Zedekiah rebelled and appealed to the Egyptians for help.

587 The Babylonians captured Jerusalem again

Zedekiah was blinded and led away in chains. However this time the Babylonians deported all but the poorest people in Judah to other parts of the Babylonian Empire. They also plundered the temple in Jerusalem.

C. 571 While the Jews were in exile in Babylon Ezekiel had a series of visions

C. 571 According to the Bible Daniel served the king of Babylon

539 The Persians captured Babylon bringing the Babylonian Empire to an end.

However, the Persians created their own empire to replace the Babylonian Empire. The Persians were tolerant people and they allowed each part of their empire a certain amount of independence.

538 Cyrus, king of Persia allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild the temple in Jerusalem

536 Rebuilding the temple began

However, the Samaritans offered to help. Zerubbabel the leader of the Israelites refused. However, work soon stopped because of opposition from the Samaritans who were angry at being excluded from the work.

C. 520 The prophets Zechariah and Haggai encouraged people to rebuild the temple. Work on the temple then began again

516 The Temple was completed

C. 475 According to the Bible a woman named Esther risked her life to save her people. Esther means star.

458 Ezra led another group of Jews to Jerusalem.

Ezra found out that some Jews had married non-Jews. He commanded the people to separate from their non-Jewish wives.

445 Nehemiah led more Jews to Jerusalem

Led by Nehemiah the Jews rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem

C. 430 BC Malachi, the last Old Testament prophet lived at this time. Malachi means messenger.

334 BC Alexander the Great invaded the Persian Empire

Alexander quickly conquered what is now Israel. Later he completely destroyed the Persian Empire.

However, Alexander died in 323 without an heir. His empire was then divided among his generals. A Greek general called Ptolemy took Egypt and Israel.

198 BC The Seleucids captured Israel (After Alexander’s death, a general called Seleucus took Syria and Iraq. His descendants, the Seleucids later took Israel).

168 BC A Seleucid named Antiochus Epiphanes (175-163) defiled the temple. He sacrificed to Zeus in the temple and tried to ban the Jewish religion. As a result, the Jews rose in rebellion.

162 BC After Antiochus the next Seleucid ruler granted the Jews religious freedom. However, some Jews continued to fight for independence.

142 BC The Jews won their independence. However, it did not last long as Rome was growing increasingly powerful.

63 BC The Roman general Ptolemy captured Jerusalem. From this time Israel was ruled by the Romans.

The New Testament

37 BC-4 BC The Romans allowed Herod the Great to reign as a puppet king in Judea.

Herod was a cruel man but he tried to please the Jews by beginning to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. After his death, one of Herod’s sons, called Herod Archelaus ruled Judea. However, he was so bad that in 6 AD the Romans removed him and replaced him with a Roman governor or procurator.

4 BC-39 AD Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great ruled Galilee (the northern part of what is now Israel). Jesus called him ‘that fox’. Herod Antipas had John the Baptist beheaded.

C. 4 BC Jesus was born in Bethlehem

26-36 AD Pontius Pilate was governor or procurator of Judea

c. 27-30 AD Jesus preached and healed the sick

C. 30 AD Jesus was crucified

C 35 AD Saul was converted and changed his name to Paul

C 46-48 AD Paul and Barnabas sailed to Cyprus and what is now Turkey

43 AD The Roman invade Britain

C. 48-51 AD Paul and Silas traveled to Turkey and Greece

53-57 AD Paul made a third journey to Turkey and Greece

C. 58-60 AD Paul was arrested and spent two years in prison

Paul appealed to Caesar and was sent to Rome by ship (on the way he was shipwrecked at Malta)

64 AD The city of Rome was severely damaged by a fire. Some people said that Emperor Nero started it. To deflect blame from himself Nero blamed Christians and persecuted them.

66 AD The Jews rebelled against the Romans

C. 67 AD Paul was martyred

70 AD Jerusalem was destroyed

81-96 AD Domitian was Roman Emperor. He unleashed a wave of persecution against Christians.

90-95 AD A man named John was exiled to the island of Patmos

C 95 Revelation, the last book of the Bible was written

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