Bible history timeline
Below is a list of some historical events that are important to the study of the Bible and its prophecies. This timeline was updated in July 2000. The research for this timeline was done by George and Raymond Konig. Many dates and years of various ancient events are taken from the "Concordia Self-Study Bible NIV."
2100 BC (4100 years ago)
God promises Abraham many descendants
Abraham lived around 2100 BC in what is now Iraq. God told him to move to Canaan, which later became Israel. Unlike many people, Abraham believed in the one true God. God rewarded Abraham's faith, making him the father of a great nation (Israel).
2000 BC (4000 years ago)
Jacob (Israel) is born
Jacob, the son of Isaac who was the son of Abraham, is born in Canaan, which later becomes Israel. Jacob's name is changed to Israel. He has 12 sons, for whom the 12 Tribes of Israel are named.
1910 BC (3910 years ago)
Joseph sold into slavery
Joseph's brothers are jealous of Joseph, so they sell him into slavery. Joseph ends up in Egypt, where he rises to power as a trusted assistant of a pharaoh. His father and his brothers later leave Canaan, because of a famine, and move to Egypt.
1446 BC (3446 years ago)
After being enslaved for 400 years, the Jews, led by Moses, leave Egypt and head toward the land of Canaan, which later becomes Israel. Moses and his fellow Jews wander the desert for 40 years before reaching the border of Canaan.
1406 BC (3406 years ago)
Israel begins establishing itself as a country
After Moses dies, Joshua leads the Jews into Canaan and begins conquering the land, establishing the Jewish nation of Israel for the first time in history.
1400 BC (3400 years ago)
Israel is ruled by judges, not kings
From about 1400 BC to about 1050 BC, Israel was not ruled by kings. The people think of God as their King. Instead of an earthly king, Israel is lead by judges who settled disputes.
1050 BC (3050 years ago)
Saul becomes Israel's first king
After about 350 years of being ruled by judges, the people of Israel demand to have a king, like the neighboring countries. By demanding a king, the people are turning away from their faith in God as their king. Saul become king and reigns about 40 years.
1010 BC (3010 years ago)
David becomes King of Israel
David becomes king of Israel in about 1010 BC and reigns for 40 years. David, unlike Saul, follows the commands of God. He makes mistakes, but repents for them. He seeks to please God. He expands the size of Israel and rules over surrounding territory.
970 BC (2970 years ago)
Solomon becomes king, builds Temple
Solomon, son of David, becomes king in about 970 BC. He too reigns for about 40 years. Solomon builds the Temple in honor of God. The work is completed in about 960 BC. But, Solomon eventually turns away from God and worships false gods.
926 BC (2926 years ago)
Israel becomes a divided kingdom
Shortly after the reign of Solomon, Israel becomes a divided kingdom. The southern kingdom, called Judah, included the city of Jerusalem and the Temple. The northern kingdom continued to be called Israel. The two often war with each other.
721 BC (2721 years ago)
Assyrians conquer northern kingdom of Israel
The Assyrian Empire conquers the northern kingdom of Israel in about 721 BC. The Assyrians torture and decapitate many. They force many Jews (10 of the 12 Tribes of Israel) out of Israel and bring in foreigners. History loses track of these 10 tribes.
612 BC (2612 years ago)
Babylon conquers Nineveh (Assyrian Empire)
The Assyrian Empire's capital city - Nineveh - is attacked by coalition of Babylonians, Scynthians and Medes. As explained by the prophet Nahum in the Bible, Nineveh was to be destroyed because of the Assyrian Empire's treatment of Jews and other people.
605 BC (2605 years ago)
Babylon exerts influence over Judah
The neo-Babylonian Empire, under the reign of king Nebuchadnezzar, seeks to expand its size and begins forcing Judah into submission. Nebuchadnezzar takes many Jews as captives to Babylon to ensure Judah's obedience.
597 BC (2597 years ago)
Babylon attacks Judah
Babylonian army attacks Judah and takes more Jews as captives to Babylon. Ezekiel, one of the captives, becomes a prophet of God. Ezekiel explains that God is allowing Babylon to punish Judah because the people have been unfaithful to God.
586 BC (2586 years ago)
Babylon destroys Jerusalem and Temple
Babylon attacks Judah again. This time, the Babylonians destroy Jerusalem and the Temple that Solomon had built. More Jews are taken as captives to Babylon.
586 BC to 573 BC (2586 years ago)
Babylon king Nebuchadnezzar attacks Tyre mainland
Babylon begins a 13-year siege of the mainland of the Phoenician city of Tyre.
539 BC (2539 years ago)
Cyrus the Great conquers Babylon
After the death of Nebuchadnezzar, Neo-Babylonian Empire begins to lose power. It was conquered in about 539 BC by Cyrus the Great. Cyrus was king of the Medo-Persian Empire.
538 BC (2538 years ago)
Cyrus releases Jews from Babylonian Captivity
Cyrus offers the Jews their freedom to leave Babylon and return to Judah. Cyrus' kingdom rules over Judah and many other parts of the Middle East, but Cyrus allows people more cultural and religious freedom than did the Neo-Babylonian Empire.
536 BC (2536 years ago)
Work begins to rebuild Temple
Some of the Jews in Babylon return to Judah and begin work in about 536 BC to rebuild the Temple, which had been destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC.
516 BC (2516 years ago)
Second Temple is dedicated
The Temple is consecrated for worship, 70 years after the Babylonians had destroyed it in 586 BC. For the first time in 70 years, the Jews are able to acknowledge God as their ultimate ruler in a way they had been unable to do.
333 BC (2333 years ago)
Greeks begin rule over land of Israel
The Greeks, under the leadership of Alexander the Great, defeat Persian armies in Macedonia in 333 BC. This marks the end of the Persian Empire; the Grecian Empire expands.
331 BC (2331 years ago)
Alexander conquers Tyre (Phoenician Empire)
Alexander wars against the island fortress of the Phoenician city of Tyre. He takes rubble from the mainland of Tyre and builds a walkway to the island. Alexander's forces then conquer the island fortress, bringing an end to the Phoenician Empire.
250 BC (2250 years ago)
The Old Testament is translated into Greek
A Greek ruler has the Jews translate the first five books of the Old Testament into the Greek language. (Some scholars say this translation included other books from the Old Testament, not just the first five). The translation is called the Septuagint.
175 BC (2175 years ago)
Greek ruler Antiochus Epiphanes torments the Jews
Greek ruler Antiochus Epiphanes rules Syria from about 175 BC to about 164 BC. He reigns over Judah and tries to destroy the Jewish religion and copies of the Torah (the first five books of the modern Bible). He also defiles the Temple.
166 BC to 63 BC (2166 years ago)
Jews have independence during Hasmonean Period
Maccabean revolt opens way for Jewish independence in Jerusalem and the surrounding area. The revolt is led by Mattathias and his five sons, Judas (Maccabeus), Jonathan, Simon, John and Eleazar. The era of independence runs from about 166-63 BC.
63 BC (2063 years ago)
Romans take over land of Israel
After the death of Alexander the Great, his empire was divided up among four generals. This weakens the empire. Meanwhile, the Roman Empire is becoming increasingly powerful. The Roman general named Pompey takes control of Jerusalem.
about 5 BC (2005 years ago)
Jesus is born in Bethlehem
Jesus is born in the town of Bethlehem. The Apostle Matthew later points out that Jesus' birth in Bethlehem fulfilled a prophecy delivered by the prophet Micah, about 700 years beforehand. (see Micah 5:2).
about 25 AD (1975 years ago)
Jesus begins His ministry
Jesus begins His ministry. He is about 30 years old. He probably began preaching around 25 AD.
about 28 AD (1972 years ago)
Jesus is crucified
Jesus is falsely accused of being an anti-government rebel. He is sent to Pontius Pilate, the Roman ruler of the land of the Jews, to be crucified.
70AD (1930 years ago)
Romans destroy Jerusalem and Temple
In 70AD, the Roman Army, under Titus, destroys Jerusalem and the Temple, to suppress an uprising of the Jews. According to the historian Josephus, about 1.1 million Jews were killed. Others were taken as slaves.
135 AD (1865 years ago)
Romans destroy and plow Jerusalem
In 135 AD, the Romans, under Hadrian, kill an estimated 580,000 Jews to suppress the Bar Kochva uprising. The Romans ran a plow over Jerusalem to completely destroy the Holy City. The Romans ban the Jews from living in Jerusalem.
Tyre attacked and destroyed, again
Tyre again is attacked and destroyed, this time by the Arabs. The once-great city never recovers its former greatness. This fulfills a prophecy from Ezekiel that Tyre would be attacked by many nations, never to rise again to prominence.