The Chronology of the Pentateuch (Part 6)

(Conclusion of Chapter 16 in the previous Biblical Chronology Article)

Month 3, 2513

According to Leviticus 23:15-16, Pentecost was to be observed 50 days after the sabbath after Passover, or 49 days after the Feast of First Fruits. I initially based my reflections on the Jewish tradition that the Law was given on Pentecost. My own investigation has led me to believe that this is correct. If we can figure out which day of the month this was, then we know that the day before it was a sabbath, and we can then count the sabbaths backwards and assign days in the 1st and 2d months as sabbaths, which is what I have done.

On the 1st day of the 3d month, Israel arrived before Sinai and camped in front of Mount Sinai (Ex. 19:1-2).

Exodus 19:3-6 says Moses went up on the mountain. I assume that this was the next day.

Exodus 19:7-8a says that Moses told God’s words to the elders and that they, for the people, accepted it. I assume that this was the 3d day of the month.

Exodus 19:8b-9a says that Moses went back to God and told Him of the people’s acceptance, and received more information from Him. I assume that this was the 4th day.

Exodus 19:9b says that Moses told the people about this. Given the amount of time it takes to go up the mountain and down, and the amount of time it takes to gather the elders and confer with them, I assume that this was the following, or 5th day.

Exodus 19:10-13 indicates that Moses then went up the mountain again and got further instructions from God, and then came down and consecrated the people. This would be the 6th day.

The people were told to prepare for God’s arrival on the 3d day, so that next day was a day of consecration.

God arrived on the 8th day and spoke the 10 Words to the people. Then God gave Moses the Ordinances (Ex. 21-23).

The following day, Day 9, the people accepted the covenant and the elders had a meal with God.

Exodus 24:16 says that God’s glory was on the mountain for 6 days, and then Moses went up into the glory on the 7th.

Now, possibly none of these events had any connection to the festival calendar that God was about to initiate, and possibly none of these events had any connection with Creation Week. I assume, however, they these events were connected with both. First, the reference to God’s creation week in Exodus 20:11 shows that God expected these people already to be operating in terms of that week. Moreover, the cloud of God was on the mountain for six days and then Moses was called up on the seventh. Second, the festival calendar of Leviticus 23 begins with Passover, and so we are justified in assuming, provisionally at least, that the events after Passover are also tied to the calendar.

If we make these assumptions, everything falls nicely into place. This, to me, is strong confirmation that the assumptions are correct. We have already made associations with the Feast of First Fruits and with Pentecost, so let us now consider the parallels with Creation Week:

Day 1: Creation; Israel arrives at Sinai.

Day 2: Firmament established. The Firmanent is the outer house of God, which is pictured in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle. That room is maintained by the priests. On this day, God tells Moses that Israel will be a nation of priests.

Day 3: Land emerges; Israel accepts God’s offer.

Day 4: Astral bodies created and made lights for the Firmament; Moses reports to God, who says that He will appear to the people in a cloud. The astral bodies show God’s light in the sky; here God says He will show Himself in a fiery cloud.

Day 5: Hosts of land and sea; the host of God hears that God is coming.

Day 6: Creation of man and announcement of God’s test to Adam and Eve; God tells Israel to make themselves clean and new: to wash themselves, wait for the 3d day, keep themselves from their wives, and not to touch the mountain. This is parallel to the test given Adam and Eve: to not eat (or even touch, as Eve rightly surmised) the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Day 7: A day of sabbath rest and waiting, which Adam and Eve failed to observe, but which Israel did observe on this occasion.

Day 8: The first day of a new creation, when Yahweh gave the Torah-law to Israel.

Day 9: The second day of a new creation, when the elders of Israel were admitted into the outskirts of the cloud-firmament to eat a meal with God. Later the priests would maintain that meal (the 12 loaves of showbread) in the Holy Place, equivalent to the place half-way up the mountain where the elders ate.

Day 14: At the end of this second week, the week of man, Moses ascended the mountain and remained there (for 40 days, anyway). God ascended to sabbath rest at the end of His week in Genesis 1-2, and since man is God’s image, it is implied that man would ascend to join God in rest (by entering the Throneland of Eden, west of the Garden) at the end of man’s week. We see the same progression here. God creates His world anew during the first week and sets a test before Israel, which they pass initially. Instead of being cast out of God’s presence, therefore, the elders of Israel are invited to eat with Him, but they are still “in the Garden” which is the gateway to the Throneland of Eden. At the end of this second week, the week of man, Moses is invited into the equivalent of the Throneland, to dwell with God as a junior partner in His rule. This sequence of events foreshadows the work of Christ.

With all this in mind, I feel fairly confident that the 14th day of the 3d month was a sabbath, and thus that the Law was given on a Sunday, the first day of a new week. If this is so, then we can calculate back the sabbaths and know when they came in the 1st month. (I have assumed a 29-day 1st month and a 30-day second month. If these are reversed, the sabbaths in the 2d month change, but those in the 1st month do not. This is because the entire span of time with which we are concerned crosses over two monthly boundaries. You can confirm this by drawing and marking calendars for both systems.)

I would be remiss if I did not point out how I think this chronology anticipates the work of Christ. The plagues against Egypt and the liberation of God’s people parallel the 3-year ministry of Jesus in general. Pharaoh’s attack and pursuit of Israel, on Friday (month 1, day 16) parallels the crucifixion, wherein Christ allowed Pharaoh to win (it seemed). Israel’s passage through the death-experience of the Red Sea on the sabbath of month 1, day 17, parallels Christ’s sojourn in the tomb. Israel’s victory celebration on Sunday, month 1, day 18, parallels His resurrection.

This sequence is then applied to God’s people. Israel’s consecration and sabbath wait (month 3, day 7) parallels the waiting of the apostles for the Holy Spirit in Acts 1 (note v. 12). The arrival of God’s fire on Mount Sinai (month 3, day 8) parallels the arrival of tongues of fire on Pentecost; God’s sermon parallels Peter’s. The meal eaten by the elders the following day parallels the continual feast of the saints that began in Acts 2:42.

Month 4, 2513

Moses was on the mountain with God for 40 days and 40 nights. If month 3 lasted 29 days, as I have posited, Moses returned on the 25th day of month 4. If month 3 lasted 30 days, then Moses returned on the 24th day of month 4.

Exodus 32:7 indicates that God ordered Moses to leave the mountain as soon as the evil festival got going. The previous day, the 24th on my reckoning, Aaron had told the people that this would be a festival to Yahweh. On the next day, the 26th, Moses interceded for Israel (Ex. 32:30).

Interestingly, these are days 4, 5 & 6 of the week. Israel was given the Law on the 1st day of the week, and admitted, through her elder, to God’s mountain on the 2d day. If we discount the 40-days, then Israel fell into sin before the “week” was out, and Moses was told to leave the mountain. Israel had lost her privilege.

God heard Moses’ intercession, and after a time called Moses back up the mountain for 40 more days (Ex. 34:1-3, 28). I have pictured this in months 5 & 6.

17. The Year 2514

With Moses again on Mount Sinai for 40 days during months 5 & 6 of 2513, we come to the beginning of year 2514, which of course began with the new moon of month 7. The next dated event we find is in Exodus 40:2, 17, where we are told that on the 1st day of the 1st month of 2514 the Tabernacle was erected. Thus, during the preceding six months the Tabernacle and its furnishings were made.

Exodus 40:12-15 show us that on this same day Aaron and his sons were consecrated to be priests. This event is recorded in greater detail in Leviticus 8. It is unlikely that on this same day, which is already quite full, God also dictated Leviticus 1-7 to Moses. Doubtless these revelations had been given previously, though not while Moses was in the cloud on Mount Sinai; we are told that God spoke these commands to him from the tent of meeting that preceded the building of the Tabernacle (Lev. 1:1; Ex. 33:7).

Aaron’s ordination actually lasted a week (Lev. 8:35), and on the eighth day Aaron offered his first sacrifice, God lit the fire on the altar, and God’s fire slew Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 9-10).

Numbers 7 tells us that on this same first day of the lunar year, the princes of the tribes of Israel began offering gifts to their newly enthroned King.

Numbers 8 describes the consecration of the Levites to assist the priests. The events in Numbers 1-9 are not given in chronological order, so we cannot be sure when this consecration took place. It makes sense that it took place after the consecration of Aaron as priest and before the first Passover conducted in connection with the Tabernacle (Num. 9). Apparently the Levites had already been exchanged for the firstborn of Israel, an event that almost certainly would have precede the consecration of the Levites by sacrifice (Num. 3). The travelling duties of the Levites, delineated in Numbers 4, probably took place in the second month, along with the mustering of the Israelite host for travel.


1st Month (March-April 2514) (assume 29 days)

Day 1: The Tabernacle is erected and God moves into it (Ex. 40:17; Num. 7:1). Moses is driven from the Tabernacle (Ex. 40:35) and is not able to reenter it until the sacrificial system has been set up. Aaron and his sons are anointed and invested, and begin the sacrifices of consecration (Lev. 8). The princes of the tribes begin to offer gifts of fealty to Yahweh, beginning with Judah (Num. 7:1, 12).

Day 2: Issachar’s offerings (Num. 7:18).

Day 3: Zebulun’s offerings (Num. 7:24).

Day 4: Reuben’s offerings (Num. 7:30).

Day 5: Simeon’s offerings (Num. 7:36).

Day 6: Gad’s offerings (Num. 7:42).

Day 7: Ephraim’s offerings (Num. 7:48).

Day 8: Manasseh’s offerings (Num. 7:54). Aaron offers sacrifices that cleanse the way for Moses and him to enter the Tabernacle. God lights the altar with His own fire (Lev. 9). Nadab and Abihu bring their own fire before God’s face and are consumed (Lev. 10).

Day 9: Benjamin’s offerings (Num. 7:60).

Day 10: Dan’s offerings (Num. 7:66). Passover lambs are set aside (Ex. 12:4).

Day 11: Asher’s offerings (Num. 7:72).

Day 12: Naphtali’s offerings (Num. 7:78).

Day 13: Perhaps on this day the Levites were consecrated to assist the priests (Num. 8:5-26).

Day 14: Passover observed, and rules given for a second Passover in the second month (Num. 9:5-6).

Day 21: Last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.


2d Month (April-May 2514) (assume 30 days)

Day 1: Numbering and mustering of the Israelite host (Num. 1:1). Probably also the numbering of the Levites and assignation of their travelling duties (Num. 4). With the host formed, the unclean must depart the offcial boundaries of the camp (Num. 5:1-4).

Day 14: Second Passover.

Day 20: God’s cloud moves from the Tabernacle, signalling to break camp (Num. 10:11).

Day 21: Last day of Feast of Unleavened Bread; Israel sets out for the promised land.

Day 23: On the 3d day, the people complain and are punished at Taberah (Num. 10:33; 11:1-3).

Day 24: The people complain about manna. This is probably the following day. Moses complains about bear-ing the burden all alone. God gives him 70 helpers. God gives the people quail for a whole month (Num. 11:4-35).


3d Month (May-June 2514) (assume 29 days)

Day 24: Departure from Kibroth-hattaavah (Num. 11:20).

Day 27: Probably the day they set up camp at Haze-roth (Num. 11:35).

Day 28: Aaron and Miriam grumble; Miriam is struck with “decay” (“leprosy”) for a week (Num. 12)


4th Month (June-July 2514) (assume 30 days)

Day 6: Miriam is cleansed; Israel breaks camp (Num. 12:16).

Day 9: Probably the day they set up camp in the Wilderness of Paran (Num. 12:16).

Day 10: The spies depart for 40 days (Num. 13:1-25).


5th Month (July-August 2514) (assume 29 days)

Day 20: The spies return; Israel rejects their message. God tells them that their sojourn in the wilderness will be extended to 40 years.

A series of events and rebellions follow, which seem to happen one after another during the 5th and 6th months:

– The people fight Canaanites and lose (Num. 14:40-45).

– God gives laws for libations of wine, a promise that someday they will enter the land and be able to offer wine (Num. 15).

– The rebellion of Korah (Num. 16).

– The destruction of Korah the following day (Num. 16:16).

– The plague on Israel the next day (Num. 16:41-50).

– The staffs of leaders placed before God, perhaps on the same day, perhaps a day later (Num. 17:1-7).

– Aaron’s staff blossoms the next day (Num. 17:8-11).

– Levites are given additional responsibilities to pro-tect Israel from the threat of God’s presence, and are given the tithe as reward (Lev. 17:12–18:32).

– God gives laws for cleansing after contact with the dead, introducing the 38 years of dying in the wilderness (Num. 19).

My guess is that all this happened by the end of the sixth month. The book of Numbers then skips to the end of the wanderings. Numbers 20 takes place in the 40th lunar year after the Exodus (the solar years 2553-54).

18. The Years 2553 and 2554.

No events are recorded for the first sixth months (months 7-12) of 2553. Numbers 20 says that Israel arrived at Kedesh in the 1st month, and that Miriam died at that time.

Over the next few months, we find Israel rebelling and demanding water (Num. 20:2-13), and we find Israel attempting to pass through Edom and being rebuffed (Num. 20:14-21).

Then Aaron died. Numbers 33:38 says that he died on the 1st day of the 5th month. Numbers 20:29 says that the people mourned him for 30 says, which takes us to the beginning of the 6th month. The death of the high priest released Israel from her “city of refuge” situation in the wilderness, and now the conquest of the land could begin anew (Num. 21).

Numerous battles and other events take place over the next several months (month 6, 2553; months 7-10, 2554). This brings us to the 1st day of the 11th month, which is the day Moses preached his sermons to Israel recorded in Deuteronomy 1-4, 5-26, 27-28, 29-30, 31, 32 (Dt. 1:3). The very same day, God showed Moses the land he would not be allowed to enter (Dt. 32:48). Then, apparently on that same day, Moses died (Dt. 32:50; 34:1-7).

Israel mourned for Moses 30 days (Dt. 34:8), which carries us into the 12th month. It makes sense to me that Joshua sent the two spies into Jericho during this month.

We come now to the 1st lunar month, still in the year 2554. Joshua 4:19 says that Israel crossed the Jordan on the 10th day. They had camped across the Jordan for three days previously (Josh. 3:1-2). Now, in Joshua 1:11 Joshua is seen telling the people that in 3 days they will cross the Jordan. Thus, Joshua 1 takes place at the Jordan (Josh. 3:1).

Accordingly, Joshua 2 must precede both Joshua 1 and Joshua 3. In Joshua 2 we find that the spies hid for 3 days after leaving Rahab, and then reported to Joshua at Shittim. Then Israel moved from Shittim to the Jordan, and remained there for 3 days before crossing the river. All of these days serve to push the actual spying back into the 12th month.

Some have suggested that the seven days of marching around Jericho (Josh 6:3-4) correspond with the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Thus, the destruction of Jericho would be a form of purging the leaven. I find this a bit hard, because the Feast of First Fruits came during the week of Unleavened Bread, and also because Joshua 5:13 seems to imply that they were sojourning near Jericho when the angel of Yahweh appeared to Joshua and gave him orders regarding the conquest of Jericho. My own guess is that the week of conquest followed the week of Unleavened Bread.

1st Month (March-April 2514)

Day 1: New Moon

Day 2: Spies leave Rahab and hide for 3 days.

Day 5: Spies report to Joshua; Israel breaks camp at Shittim.

Day 7: Israel arrives at Jordan; waits 3 days

Day 10: Israel crosses Jordan (Josh. 4:19); Passover lambs set aside.

Day 11: Israel circumcised (Josh. 5:2-9).

Day 14: Passover (Josh. 5:10).

Day 15: Feast of Unleavened Bread begins; Israel eats of the land (Josh. 5:11).

Day 16: Manna ceases (Josh. 5:12).

Day 21: Last day of Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Day 22: First day of march around Jericho (Josh. 5:3).

Day 28: Last day of march around Jericho; fall of Jericho (Josh. 5:4).

James Jordan is scholar-in-residence at Theopolis. This article originally appeared at Biblical Horizons