Below is a list of some historical events that are important to the study of the Bible and its prophecies. The research for this Biblical history timeline was done by George Konig and Ray Konig, authors of the book, 100 Prophecies: Ancient Biblical prophecies that foretold the future. Scholars vary in the dates that they assign to ancient events. The dates shown below are approximations.
2100 BC (about 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), and an ancestor to the Messiah (Jesus Christ).
2000 BC (about 4000 years ago)
Jacob (Israel) is born
Jacob, the son of Isaac, who was the son of Abraham, is born in Canaan. Jacob's name is changed to Israel. (Canaan is later renamed Israel, after Jacob). He has 12 sons, for whom the 12 Tribes of Israel are named.
1900 BC (about 3900 years ago)
Joseph sold into slavery
Joseph, one of the 12 sons of Jacob (Israel), is sold into slavery by his brothers, who are jealous of him. 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. They are later saved from harm by Joseph.
1446 BC (about 3400 years ago)
The Hebrews, or Israelites (descendants of Jacob), are enslaved for 400 years in Egypt until Moses leads them out of Egypt. They wander the desert for 40 years. Moses then brings them to the border of Canaan, the land that God had previously promised to their forefather Abraham.
1406 BC (about 3400 years ago)
Israel begins establishing itself as a sovereign country
After Moses dies, Joshua leads the Israelites into Canaan and begins conquering the land, establishing a sovereign country of Israel for the first time in history.
1400 BC (about 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 led by judges who settled disputes.
1050 BC (about 3000 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 (about 3000 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 he repents for them. He seeks to please God. He expands the size of Israel and rules over surrounding territories.
970 BC (about 3000 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 (about 2900 years ago)
Israel becomes a divided kingdom
Shortly after the reign of Solomon, Israel becomes a divided kingdom. The southern kingdom, called Judah, includes the city of Jerusalem and the Temple. The northern kingdom continued to be called Israel. The two often war with each other.
721 BC (about 2700 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 Israelites (10 of the 12 Tribes of Israel) out of Israel and bring in foreigners.
612 BC (about 2600 years ago)
Babylon conquers Nineveh (Assyrian Empire)
The Assyrian Empire's capital city - Nineveh - is attacked by coalition of Babylonians and others. As explained by the prophet Nahum in the Bible, Nineveh was to be destroyed because of the Assyrian Empire's treatment of Israelites and other people.
605 BC (about 2600 years ago)
Babylon exerts influence over Judah
The neo-Babylonian Empire, under the reign of king Nebuchadnezzar, begins forcing Judah into submission. Nebuchadnezzar takes many Jews as captives to Babylon to ensure Judah's obedience.
597 BC (about 2600 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 (about 2600 years ago)
Babylon destroys Jerusalem and the 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 (about 2600 years ago)
King Nebuchadnezzar attacks Tyre mainland
Babylon begins a 13-year siege of the mainland of the Phoenician city of Tyre.
539 BC (about 2500 years ago)
Cyrus the Great conquers Babylon
After the death of Nebuchadnezzar, the neo-Babylonian Empire begins to lose power. Cyrus the Great conquers Babylon in 539 BC, establishing the Medo-Persian Empire.
538 BC (about 2500 years ago)
Cyrus releases Jews from Babylonian Captivity
After conquering Babylon, Cyrus offers the Jews their freedom to leave Babylon and to 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 (about 2500 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 (about 2500 years ago)
Second Temple is dedicated
The Temple is consecrated for worship, 70 years after the Babylonians had destroyed it in 586 BC.
333 BC (about 2300 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 fall of the Medo-Persian Empire and the rise of the Grecian Empire.
332 BC (about 2300 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 (about 2300 years ago)
The Old Testament is translated into Greek
A Greek ruler asks the Jews to translate all or part of the Old Testament into the Greek language. The translation is called the Septuagint.
175 BC (about 2200 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. He also defiles the Temple.
164 BC to 63 BC (about 2200 years ago)
Jews have independence
The Maccabees, a group that fought for Jewish independence, stage a revolt against the Greeks and establish the Hasmonean royal dynasty, as well as sovereignty over all or part of the land of Israel for about 100 years, from about 164 BC to 63 BC.
63 BC (about 2100 years ago)
The Romans take over land of Israel
After the death of Alexander the Great, the empire of the Greeks is divided up and becomes weaker. During this time, the Roman Empire becomes increasingly powerful. The Roman general named Pompey seizes control over the land of Israel.
About 5 BC (about 2000 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 (about 2000 years ago)
Jesus begins His ministry
Jesus is about 30 years old when he begins his ministry. He preaches salvation, delivers prophecies and performs miracles. He announces that he is the Messiah (the Christ) who was promised by the prophets of the Old Testament. Jesus promises salvation and eternal life to those who believe in him (See John 3:16, as an example).
About 28 AD (about 2000 years ago)
Jesus is crucified and resurrected
Jesus is falsely accused and is sent to Pontius Pilate, the Roman ruler of the land of the Jews, to be crucified. Jesus is later resurrected, meaning he is brought back to life, and his followers began evangelizing him to others, allowing Christianity to spread very quickly throughout the Roman world and to eventually become the first religion to spread throughout the world.
70 AD (about 1900 years ago)
Romans destroy Jerusalem and Temple
In 70 AD, 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.
First century AD (about 1900 years ago)
The Bible is completed
During the first century of this era, the New Testament, which describes the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, is completed. The writing of the Bible (the Old Testament and the New Testament) comes to an end. It began during the time of Moses, about 3400 years ago. Jesus becomes, and remains, the final subject of the Bible.