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The first year of Artaxerxes Longimanus is B.C.474
The decree of Artaxerxes in his 20th. year.
THUCYDIDES VITAL EVIDENCE ON THE YEAR OF ACCESSION OF ARTAXERXES LONGIMANUS.
The one event which Thucydides does mention in his brief and hurried summary of this unwritten period, is the flight of Themistocles, and just here at this very point which he does touch the chronology of this period, he is in flat contradiction to Ptolemy's Canon. Writing of the year B.C. 471, Thucydides says, Themistocles had been ostracised and was living at Argos. Lacedaemonians and Athenians sent officers to arrest him. He fled to the Corcyreans. They conveyed him to the neighbouring continent. The officers constantly enquired in which direction he had gone, and pursued him everywhere. He stopped at the house of Admetus the King of the Molossians, who protected him and would not give him up to his pursuers, though they pressed him to do so. And as Themistocles wanted to go to the King (of Persia), Admetus sent him on foot across the country to the sea at Pydna (which was in the Kingdom of Alexander). There he found a merchant vessel sailing to Ionia, in which he embarked. It was driven by a storm to Naxos, but at length he arrived at Ephesus. Themistocles then went up the country with one of the Persians who dwelt in the coast, and sent a letter to Artaxerxes the son of Xerxes, who had just succeeded to the throne.” End of quote.
Anstey states that this shows that Ptolemy's Canon is in error, for according to Ptolemy's Canon, in B.C. 471 Xerxes was in the 15th year of his 21 year reign, after which Artabanus reigned 7 months, and then Artaxerxes Longimanus came to the throne; this would have made Artaxerxes only a boy of 14 in 471 B.C., when Themistocles arrived in Persia, and according to Ptolemy, Artaxerxes Longimanus did not come to the throne until B.C. 464, seven years later.
Anstey continues: “This event is dated in Ptolemy's Canon 7 years later than the time at which it occurred. No blame attaches to Ptolemy for this. He did the best he could with the materials at his disposal. But real blame does attach to the modern scholar, who refuses to recognise a proved error, and continues to regard as an infallible guide, a table of reigns, which as regards this part of the Persian period, is incapable of verification, suspect as to its source and false in its facts.” Quote ends.
So we see that after Themistocles had been accused and convicted of treason in his own country, Thucydides records that Themistocles fled to Persia when Artaxerxes had but “lately come to the throne.” Thucydides Book 1 Chapter 137. Thucydides was in the best position to know about Themistocles for they both lived in Athens, and Thucydides was born about the time, or just after Themistocles death. Thucydides also lived during the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus, for we read in Neh.5v14. and 13v6. of the thirty second year of the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus. According to Thucydides and Diodurus, Artaxerxes reigned forty years; this would be from B.C. 474 to 434: Usher would give a 51 year reign to Artaxerxes from 474 to 424 B.C.; whereas Clinton says he reigned from B.C. 464 to 424.
NOTE ON THEMISTOCLES.
Thucydides spent most of the twenty years of his exile in Thrace and was there for the rest of the war. Thucydides, like John Bunyan, made valuable use of his exile, he spent his time writing, travelling and gathering material for his remarkable “History of the Peloponnesian War.” He did not return to Athens until the Spartans took it in 404 B.C. and peace was made. In his “History of the Peloponnesian War,” Thucydides gives an account of the war between Athens and Sparta, but failed to finish the work, stopping his account of the events in the middle of 411 B.C.; more than six and a half years before the end of the war. (431 to 404 B.C.). He describes events leading up to the war, and in books 2 to 8, the war itself.
Thucydides stood alone amongst the historians of his day for historical integrity. Most of the classical historians were often careless and inaccurate in their histories, but Thucydides was remarkable for his meticulous critical historical research. Thucydides complained that his predecessor Herodotus included too many “mythical” elements and that his primary reason for writing was to please his audience; he also complains that other historians were unclear in their chronology. Herodotus, B.C. 484 to 424, Xenophon, about B.C. 430 to 437; and Ctesias, 5th. century B.C.; all lacked the accuracy and integrity of Thucydides in their histories, as Thucydides said of these chroniclers, “They cared only for popularity and took no pains to make their narrative trustworthy.” This contrasted greatly with his own searching scrutiny of historical materials and strict adherence to the facts. Thucydides writes, “'As to the deeds done in the war, I have not thought myself at liberty to record them on hearsay from the first informant or on arbitrary conjecture. My account rests either on personal knowledge or on the closest possible scrutiny of each statement made by others. The process of research was laborious, because conflicting accounts were given by those who had witnessed the several events, as partiality swayed or as memory served them.”
CHARON OF LAMPSACUS.
CORNELIUS NEPOS. About 100 A.D.
PLUTARCH. A.D. 46 to 120.
DIODORUS THE SICILIAN. Of the first century A.D.
JEROME. A.D. 340 to 420.
JAMES USSHER. A.D. 1581 to 1656.
Bishop William Lloyd took Ussher's Chronological dates and put them in the margins of his Lloyd's Bible, however he altered Ussher's date of the 20th. year of Artaxerxes Longimanus in Nehemiah.2v1., from B.C.454 to B.C. 445.
S. P. TREGELLES.
“On the 20th of Artaxerxes.- Some have found a difficulty in making out the chronology of the seventy weeks, because they have thought that the time from the 20th of Artaxerxes to the crucifixion of our Lord would not fully accord with that marked out in the prophecy. If it had been so, it need have surprised no one; whatever be the result of the chronological calculations, the word of God is the same; we know that it is certain, and everything else must bend to it. But here I believe the difficulty to be wholly imaginary. It is true that we may find some from the date printed in the margin of our Bibles; but the history of this date, as it here stands, is rather curious. Archbishop Ussher drew up a scheme of Chronology, which is commonly followed, rather from convenience than from its absolute correctness being supposed. About a hundred and fifty years ago Bishop Lloyd undertook to affix Archbishop Ussher's dates to our English Bibles; but IN THIS INSTANCE, he made a considerable alteration and substituted another date of his own, so as to adapt the reign of Artaxerxes to his own theory.
The date which stands in our Bibles for the 20th year of Artaxerxes is 446 B.C.- this makes the commencement of his reign 465 B.C.; but the authority of the best and most nearly contemporary historian will put the matter in a very different light. Thucydides mentions that the accession of Artaxerxes had taken place before the flight of Themistocles; this authorises us to adopt Ussher's date and place the commencement of the reign 473 or 474 B.C. This would give the date of 454 or 455 B.C. If we add to this the date of the crucifixion it will give us the exact period of the sixty-nine weeks. In doing this we must remember that the birth of our Lord was about four years before the Common Era, so that the thirty-third year of His life, when He is supposed to have suffered, would correspond with the year twenty-nine of our reckoning. I believe this to have been the true date; first because of the day of the week on which the Passover commenced in that year; and also, because of the consuls of that year (the two Gemini) having been mentioned by several writers as those of the year when our Lord was put to death.
This remark does not affect the instruction given us by God in this chapter; it is a point, which I only notice for the removal of difficulties.
It is a great pity that Archbishop Ussher's date should in this particular case have been misrepresented: it was a point to which he had paid particular attention. About the year 1613 he lectured on the subject at Trinity College, Dublin, resting on the testimony of Thucydides. He then discussed difficulties connected with the supposed length of the reigns of Darius and Xerxes so as to adapt other events to this certain date. From October 1615 he corresponded at various times on the point with Thomas Lydiat (the scholar most familiar with such subjects of any in England), until 1643; and in 1650, after thirty-seven years of minute consideration, he published the result in his 'Annales Veritis Testamenti,' where the date is 3531. This answers in Ussher's 'Collatio Annorum' to 474 B.C., or the third year of the seventy-sixth Olympiad. His judgement in 1613 seems to have been doubtful; but in 1617 he says, 'These things being laid together do show, that the expulsion of Themistocles from Athens fell no later that the beginning of the fourth year of the seventy-sixth Olympiad; to which time you (i.e. Lydiat) doubtfully refer the beginning of his troubles; how much sooner so ever, my opinion is, that at that time Themistocles fled into Persia, as Eusebius noteth, whose testimony I have no reason to discredit, unless I have some better testimony or reason to oppose against it. The year before that, which is the third of the seventy-sixth Olympiad, I suppose Artaxerxes Longimanus to have begun his reign: to whom as yet 'neosti basileuonta,' Themistocles fled, as Thucydides sufficiently proveth.' (Works, 15, p. 11). Ussher in thus laying down this date had no motive for bringing the space of 483 years from the 20th of Artaxerxes to A.D. 29; for his division of the seventy Heptads differs from mine, and he did not regard A.D. 29 as the date of the crucifixion of our Lord.” End of quote.
N.B. 2. XERXES APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN CO-REX WITH DARIUS FOR SOME TIME BEFORE DARIUS DIED.
Historical evidence shows that Xerxes was selected as crown prince and viceroy of Babylon about 498 B.C., and that a palace was completed for him in Babylon by about 496 B.C. See pages 215 and 216 of A. T. Holmstead's, “History of the Persian Empire;” and pages 80 and 100 of William Cullican's, “Medes and Persians.” Some think that the evidence for a reign of 21 years for Xerxes is inconclusive, one piece of “evidence,” a papyrus text from Assuan in Egypt, has the date “year 21, the accession year of Artaxerxes;” however Xerxes is not mentioned. In any case a co-regency in 496 B.C. would give a reign of 22 years to 474 B.C., which gives ample scope for the 21 year reign of Xerxes.
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