Appendix 5 - The Twentieth Year of Artaxerxes

The month Nisan in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes is the epoch of the prophetic era of the seventy weeks. In dealing with this subject, therefore, it is of vital importance to fix that date, and I have dealt with the matter exhaustively in an Excursus (App. II., Note A) added to The Coming Prince, to which I beg leave to refer the reader. I will here give but one extract : - "According to Clinton (F. H., vol. ii. p. 380), the death of Xerxes was in July, B.C. 465, and the accession of Artaxerxes was in February, B.C. 464. Artaxerxes, of course, ignored the usurper’s reign, which intervened, and reckoned his own reign from the day of his father’s death. Again, of course, Nehemiah, being an officer of the court, followed the same reckoning. Had he computed his master’s reign from February 464, Chisleu and Nisan could not have fallen in the same regnal year (Neh. i. i; ii. i). No more could they, had he, according to Jewish practice, computed it from Nisan."

Not content, however, with my own investigations, I appealed to the author of The Five Great Monarchies, and Canon Rawlinson favoured me with the following reply: "You may safely say that chronologers are now agreed that Xerxes died in the year B.C. 465. The Canon of Ptolemy, Thucidides, Diodorus, and Manetho are agreed, the only counter authority being Ctesias, who is quite untrustworthy."

Then as regards the Julian date of the 1st Nisan, B.C. 445 (Neh. ii.), when my book was in the press, I began to fear lest my own lunar calculations to fix the Jewish New Year (see Appendix IV., ante), might prove untrustworthy, and accordingly I wrote to the then Astronomer-Royal, Sir George Airy, who replied as follows: "I have had the moon’s place calculated from Largeteau’s Tables in additions to the Connaisance des Temps, 1846, by one of my assistants, and have no doubt of its correctness. The place being calculated for - 444, March 12d. 20 h., French reckoning, or March 12d. 8 h. P.M., it appears that the said time was short of New Moon by about 8 h. 47 m., and therefore the New Moon occurred at 4 h. 47 ni. A.M., March 13th, Paris time." The New Moon, therefore, occurred at Jerusalem on the 13th March, B.C. 445 (-144 Astronomical) at 7h. 9m. A.M. And the next day, the 14th, was the 1st Nisan.