the Author -- Tractate Rosh Hashana
Nachman Cohen ---
Rabbi Nachman Cohen, Director of Torah Lishmah Institute, is the Spiritual Leader of Young Israel Ohab Zedek, of North Riverdale/Yonkers, and Chairman of the Board of the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists.
Rabbi Cohen studied in Mesivta Torah Vodaath as well as Yeshivas Karlin Stolin. He received an Sc.M. in Physics from Brown University and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Boston University.
Excerpt from the Book -- Tractate Rosh Hashana
The Dating of Kings
We turn now to a most difficult problem: The dating of the kings
of Judea and Israel. When one studies the verses of Tanach, there appear to be
many seeming discrepancies in the dating of kings.
In several places Rashi comments that there is no simple
explanation for the manner in which the kings are dated. It is beyond the scope
of this work to investigate all of the approaches taken to explain the
difficulties. Yet, one item is of significance: To the best of my knowledge, no
one takes the G'mara's criteria for dating kings into account when making
an analysis. This is somewhat startling given that there were no Jewish kings in
Therefore, the laws set down in the G'mara clearly must
have referred to Biblical times. As such, it would appear that to unravel the
dating system used in the Tanach, one must follow the rules set down by our
It is to this that we now turn.
Rules for dating kings
1. All rules mentioned in I-. (See text.)
2. The reigns of the Kings of Judah are dated from Nisan.
3. The reigns of the Kings of Israel are dated from Tishri —
because they are assumed to be wicked — as per R. Avuhu.
4. When a King of Judah becomes wicked his reign is counted
5. When a King of Israel becomes righteous, his reign is
counted from Nisan — as per R. Avuhu.
Nisan and Tishri
In listing the above rules, I expanded upon the rule which R.
Avuhu explicitly stated in the G'mara. R. Avuhu merely mentions that when
non-Jewish kings are righteous they are counted from Nisan, and when they are
not righteous they are counted from Tishri. I expanded this rule to Jewish
kings, as well. The reason for this is as follows: Nisan and Tishri are not
arbitrary dates. They represent very different ways in which God runs the world.
Tishri, the time of creation, represents God's running the world through the
laws of nature. Nisan, the time the Jewish nation was redeemed from Egypt,
represents God's running the world through Divine Providence ( השגחה פרטית ).
Thus, I believe, a king— be he Jewish or non-Jewish — is counted based upon his
beliefs. If he believes in Divine Providence, he is counted from Nisan. If not,
he is counted from Tishri.
Re: Converting the count from one system to another
If a King of Israel becomes
a. Before Nisan: When Nisan arrives,
the year of his reign is moved ahead;
b. Before Tishri: The present year of his reign continues until
c. Very close after 1 Tishri: The count can revert back to that
of the past year — in which case, as per (my interpretation of) [J2], documents
contained both the reign of the King of Judah and the King of Israel so as to
clarify any questions concerning the date. (See below.)
If a King of Judah becomes wicked —
a. Before Tishri: The year of his reign is moved ahead at the
arrival of Tishri;
b. Before Nisan: The year of his reign remains unchanged until
the next Tishri;
c. Immediately after 1 Tishri: The year of his reign may be
rolled ahead, retroactive to Tishri.
The following chart is based upon the aforementioned rules: —
|Kings of Israel
Kings of Judah
|(Note: r. = reigned ; T =
Tishri; N = Nisan)
Yeravam (r. 22 yrs)
|Rechavam (r. 17 yrs)
the same year
Aviyam ascended in the 18th year of Yeravam, whereas his
father died in the 17th year of Yeravam. Unless Rechavam died at the
last minute of Yeravam's calendar year, this proves that even for a king
who is the son of a king, the year of ascension begins after the son
begins his reign. Otherwise, Aviyam's ascension would have been reckoned
from the 17th year of Yeravam.
|Yeravam (r. 41
||Aviyam (r. 3
Asa was crowned within the same year of Yeravam's reign
in which his father, Aviyam, died. Hence, this year is attributed to
both of them.
Now comes the first problem: I:15:25 records that Nadav,
Yeravam's son, ascended in the 2nd year of Asa. Based on the above, it
should have said that he ascended in the 3rd year of Asa, as follows: