Elephantine Papyri Hebrew Dates

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#1. AP-5 Papyrus

AP-5, Date: 18 Elul = 28 Pachons, year 15 of Xerxes (471 BC)
Papyrus written: Sept 12/13, 471 BC, night-time, JDN: 1549645.5
First day of Elul: Aug 27, 471 BC, Pachon 12: JDN: 1549629
Type: A Grant to Permit Building
Scribe: Pelatiah b. Ahio

Pachon began the third Egyptian season called Shemu and is associated with the harvest. AP-5 is the earliest papyrus that used a double dated expression. The contract deals with a new building. Excavators found the document intact, rolled up, and well preserved. The scribe listed the date using the standard form: Jewish day, month = Egyptian day, month, year, and king.

#2. AP-6 Papyrus

AP-6, Papyrus Date: 18 Kislev = [17] Thoth, year 21, the beginning of the reign of Artaxerxes I (465 BC) Papyrus written: Jan 2/3, 464 BC, night-time, JDN: 1551949.5
First day of Kislev: Dec 17, 465 BC, Thoth 1; JDN: 1551933
Type: Property rights dispute, Dargman versus Mahseiah
Scribe: Ethan b. Aba, Dictated by Dargman

Artaxerxes is a main character in Bible prophecy. His rise to the throne is shrouded by mystery and intrigue. His father, Xerxes, ruled Persia for twenty-one years. Then Artaxerxes Longimanus came to the throne between September 19 and January 2, 465 BC.

#3.AP-8 Papyrus

AP-8, Papyrus Date: Kislev 21 = Mesore 1 [Epagomenal 1], year 6 of Artaxerxes I (460 BC) Papyrus written: Dec 11/12, 460 BC, nighttime, JDN: 1553753.5
First day of Kislev: Nov 22, 460 BC, Mesore 12, JDN: 1553734
Type: Mahseiah bestowal of land to his daughter, Mitahiah
Scribe: Atharshuri Nabu-zira-ibni (Babylonian)

The dating for AP-8 has been an enigma to scholars since its publication. It is perfectly preserved, but the scribe appears to have placed a double fault in the data. However, the riddle becomes untangled when we consider how the Egyptians regarded their calendar.

#4. Kraeling-1

Kraeling-1, Papyrus Date: 25 Phamenoth = 20 Sivan, year 14 of Artaxerxes I
or 15 Phamenoth = 25 Sivan, year 14 of Artaxerxes 1 (450) BC
Papyrus written: June 26, 450 BC, daytime, JDN: 1557237
First day of Sivan: June 7, 450 BC, Mechir 26, JDN: 1557218
Type: Land dispute between Mika and Anani b. Azariahbr> Scribe: Mannuki

Kr-1 is very badly fragmented. The papyri came to Emil Kraeling in pieces like a challenging puzzle. He was up to the challenge. He arranged the pieces in a way that allowed him to understand the document.

#5. Kraeling-2

Kraeling-2, Papyrus Date: 18 [Tammuz] = [2] Pharmouthi, year 16 of Artaxerxes I
Papyrus written: July 12, 449 BC, daytime, JDN: 1557619
Tammuz 1: June 25, 449 BC, Phamenoth 15, JDN: 1557602
Marriage contract, Tamut, the handmaiden to Ananiah b. Azariah
Scribe: Nathan b. Ananiah, who was a witness to AP-8 & 9 and wrote AP-10, AP-13 and AP-15

This papyrus merely shows that the eighteenth day of an unknown Jewish month coincided with Pharmouthi in 449 BC. The date we restored is likely correct, but Ab 18 could have coincided with Pharmouthi 30.

#6. AP-13 Papyrus

AP-13, Papyrus Date: 2 Kislev = 10 Mesore, year 19 of Artaxerxes I (446)
Papyrus written: Nov 17/18, 446 BC, night-time, JDN: 1558842.5
First day of Kislev: Nov 17, 446 BC, Mesore 10, JDN: 1558842
Transfer of land: Mahseiah b. Yedoniah to Miphtahiah, his daughter
Scribe: Nathan b. Ananiah

Nathan b. Ananiah drafted this document. Several other papyri name him as a scribe or witness. Cowley noted that Nathan’s writing was coarse. He formed the letters poorly and often misspelled words. To many scholars, his contract dating seems to be riddled with problems of one sort or another. Despite his penmanship and spelling, Nathan had no problem handling dates. His dates are valid.

#7. AP-14 Papyrus

AP-14, Papyrus Date: 14 Ab = 19 Pachon, year 25 of Artaxerxes I (440 BC)
Papyrus written: Aug 26/27 440 BC, night-time, JDN: 1560951.5
First day of Ab: Aug 14, 440 BC, Pachon 7, JDN: 1560939
Settlement between Pi and Mibtahiah, daughter of Mahseiah
Scribe: Petisi b. Nabunathan (Babylonian)

Since a Jewish date begins and ends at sunset, and an Egyptian date begins and ends at dawn, a half-day overlap exists. Two separate Jewish days overlap the Egyptian day specified by the scribe.

#8. Kraeling-3

Kraeling-3, Papyrus Date: 7 Elul = 9 Payni, year 21 Artaxerxes I (437 BC)
Papyrus written: Sep 14/15, 437 BC, night-time, JDN: 1562066.5
First day of Elul: Sep 9, 437 BC, Payni 4, JDN: 1562061
House sale, Bagazust and Ubil, to Ananiah b. Azariah
Scribe: Haggai b. Shemaiah

This synchrony provides very useful data for reconstructing the Hebrew calendar. Besides supporting the overall scheme, the unnaturally early beginning of Elul, in this year helps date this papyrus in absolute time. For the reasons discussed in the treatise for AP-14, the scribe could only have written Kraeling-3 at night. If the onset of Elul 7 had preceded the onset of Payni 9, the start of Elul would have scarcely begun after the new moon conjunction. And if there were only twenty-nine days in Elul, as this study proposes, then Tishri would have begun before the lunar conjunction. For the reasons specified in the treatise for AP-14, this work has firmly fixed that Elul 1 fell on Sep 9, 437 BC, JDN 1562061. The calendar day began the night before on JDN 1562060.34, and the new-moon conjunction occurred 1.25 days earlier on JDN 1562059.1.

#9. AP-10 Papyrus

AP-10, Papyrus Date: 7 Kislev = 4 Thoth [Epagomenal 4], year 9 Artaxerxes I (456 BC)
Papyrus written: Dec 13/14, 456 BC, nighttime, JDN: 1555216.5
First day of Kislev: Dec 8, 456 BC, Mesore 29, JDN: 1555211
Loan of money, Yauhan borrowed from Meshullam b. Zaccur
Scribe: Nathan b. Ananiah, also wrote AP-10 and AP-13

Many say Nathan should have written Epagomenal 4, not Thoth 4. We agree. However, Nathan did not forget about the epagomenal month. He purposely ignored it. Scribes often stopped recording events in their annals until those days passed. Pharaoh performed a ritual during the brief intercalary month called Pacifying Sekhmet. She was the moody daughter of the sun god, Ra, and the vehicle for his vengeance.

#10. AP-15 Papyrus

AP-15, Papyrus Date: [25 Tishri] = 6 Epiphe, year [30] [Artaxerxes I] (435 BC)
Papyrus written: Oct 11, 435 BC, daytime, JDN: 1562823
First day of Tishri: Sep 17, 435 BC, Payni 12, JDN: 1562799
Marriage contract – Ashor b. Zeho and Mibtahiah
Scribe: Nathan b. Ananiah, also wrote AP-10 & AP-13

The Egyptian month and day were easy to read, and the interpreter became certain that the remaining partial letters matched the name, Tishri. Cowley and other scholars initially restored the day number to twenty-six, but after closer inspection, he realized that the day number was twenty-five. The interpreters restored the date based on what they saw, regardless of the astronomical implications. They were right.


Kraeling-4, Papyrus Date: 25 Tishri = 25 Epiphe, year 31 Artaxerxes I (434 BC)
Papyrus written: Oct 30, 434 BC, daytime, JDN: 1563207
First day of Tishri: Oct 6, 434 BC, Epiphe 1, JDN: 1563183
Partial gift of a house, Ananiah b. Azariah to Tamut, his wife
Scribe: Mauziyah b. Nathan

The synchronized dates of this well-preserved papyrus correlate astronomically. The Jewish date fell on Oct 29/30 (ss-ss), 434 BC, and the Egyptian date fell on Sept 30/31 (sr-sr). Therefore, the scribe dated Kraeling-4 during the daylight hours of Oct 30, 434 BC, JDN 1563207. The first day of Tammuz fell twenty-four days earlier on Oct 6, 434 BC, JDN 1563183. Tishri began at sunset the previous night around JDN 1563182.34. The moon was in conjunction on JDN 1563180.95 allowing a 1.39 day (about 33 hours) translation time, and an illuminated fraction of more than two degrees.

#12. Kraeling-5

Kraeling-5, Papyrus Date: 20 Sivan = 7 Phamenoth, year 38 Artaxerxes I (427 BC)
Papyrus written: June 12, 427 BC, daytime, JDN 1565624
First day of Sivan: May 24, 427 BC; Mechir 18; JDN 1565605
Freedom for Tamut (Tpmt) extended by Meshullum b. Zakker
Scribe: Haggai b. Shemaiah

Kraeling-5 is the last double-dated, Aramaic papyri from Elephantine to have been written during the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus. The deed itself is another in the saga of Ananiah ben Azariah and his family. Meshullum seems to extend freedom to Tamut and her daughter, Yehoyishma but only after his death and the death of his son.

#13. Kraeling-6

Kraeling-6, Papyrus Date: 8 Pharmouthi = 8 Tammuz, year 3 Darius II (420 BC)
Papyrus written: July 11/12, 420 BC, night-time, JDN: 1568210.5
First day of Tammuz: July 5, 420 BC, Pharmouthi 2, JDN: 1568204
Partial house gift, Ananiah b. Azariah to Yehoyishma, a daughter
Scribe: missing

The first year of Darius II began on Nisannu 11, 423 BC, after the brief reigns of Xerxes II and Sogdianus, and his years ended on Nisannu 10, 403 BC, after 6939 days.
Kr-6 is tattered. Emil Kraeling pieced much of Kr-6 together, and the dateline is good. Once again, as in Kr-1, the scribe wrote the Egyptian expression last, and he wrote the Hebrew expression first. Therefore, the scribe used Jewish reckoning to establish the king’s year.

#14. AP-20 Papyrus

AP-20, Papyrus Date: Elul = Payni, year 4 Darius II (420 BC)
Papyrus written: September 2, 420 BC, daytime, JDN: 1568263
First day of Elul: September 2, 420 BC, Payni 1, JDN: 1568263
Property Suit: brothers Menahem and Ananiah versus brothers Mahseiah and Yedoniah
Scribe: Mauziah, son of Nathan b. Ananiah

The scribe did not assign day numbers to the months on AP-20. The document merely says that Elul and Payni coincided with each other during the fourth year of Darius. It is true. Elul 1 and Payni 1 coincided on Friday, September 2, 420 BC, during the daylight. Mauziah wrote the date on AP-20 using the standard form.

#15. Kraeling-8

Kraeling-8, Papyrus Date: 6 Tishri = 22 Payni, year 8 Darius II (416 BC)
Papyrus written: Sep 22, 416 BC, daytime, JDN: 1569744
First day of Tishri: Sep 17, 416 BC, Payni 17: JDN: 1569739
Slave Deed: Enslavement Marks: Uriah b. Mahseiah per Zakkur b. Meshullam
Scribe: Dwhsn b. Nergal-usezib (Babylonian)

Kr-8 shows clear evidence that the Jewish intercalary system diverged from the Persian system. Parker and Dubberstein provide ancient documentation that proves a second Addaru fell out in both the seventh and tenth years of Darius II, according to the Persian calendar.

#16. AP-25 Papyrus

AP-25, Written: Dec 16/17, 416 BC, night-time, JDN: 1569829.5
Written: Dec 16/17, 416 BC, night-time, JDN 1569829.5
First day of Kislev: Dec 15, 416 BC, Thoth 11, JDN: 1569828
Property Dispute: Yedoniah b. Hoshaiah b. Uriah to Yedoniah b. Nathan and Mahseiah b. Nathan
Scribe: Mauziah b. Nathan

AP-25 and AP-28 contain full date expressions for both the Hebrew and Egyptian systems. The Egyptian year changed before Thoth 1, but the Jewish year numbers did not change until Tishri 1. The year numbers of each system were the same from Tishri to Thoth, but they differed between Thoth and Tishri. Mauziah dated AP-25 after the Egyptian new year, and he competently marked the difference in years between the two systems.

#17. AP-28 Papyrus

AP-28, Papyrus Date: 24 Shebat, year 13 = 9 Athyr, year 14 Darius II (410 BC)
Written: Feb 10/11, 410 BC, night-time, JDN: 1571711.5
First of Shebat: Jan 18, 410 BC, Phaophi 16, JDN: 1571688
Division of slaves between the brothers Mahseiah and Yedoniah, sons of Nathan after the death of their mother, Mibtahiah Scribe: Nabutukulti b. Nabu-zira-ibni (Babylonian)

The papyrus remains in excellent condition. The dateline arrangement is the same as AP-25 and shows the full day, month, and year for both the Jewish and Egyptian systems. As in AP-25, the date falls between Thoth and Tishri, so the Egyptian year was one year greater than the Jewish year during this span for Darius II.

#18. Kraeling-9

Kraeling-9, Papyrus Date: 24 Marchesvan = 29 Mesore, year 1 Artaxerxes II (404 BC)
Papyrus written: Nov 25/26, 404 BC, night-time, JDN: 1574191.5
First day of Marchesvan: Nov 3, 404 BC, Mesore 7, JDN: 1574169
Gift of part of a house: Ananiah to Yehoyishima, his daughter
Scribe: Haggai b. Shemaiah

Kr-9 does not identify whether this king was Artaxerxes Longimanus or Artaxerxes II. However, based on the content in the body, scholars have determined that the year belongs to Artaxerxes II. Only Kr-9 and Kr-10 belong to the reign of this late king. These are the last two papyri that were preserved for us, using a dual-date expression.

#19. Kraeling-10

Kraeling-10, Papyrus Date: 20 Adar = 8 Choiak, year 3 Artaxerxes II (402 BC))
Papyrus written: March 9/10, 402 BC, night-time, JDN: 1574660.5
First day of Adar: Feb 19, 402 BC, Athyr 20, JDN: 1574642
House Bequest: Ananiah b. Azariah to Yehoyishima, his daughter
Scribe: Haggai b. Shemaiah

The Hebrews in Elephantine also inserted an intercalary Adar here. The dateline does reveal that the Jews did not distinguish between the regular Adar and an intercalary Adar. The twenty-nine-day Adar placed before Nisan is the regular Adar, and the thirty-day month placed after Shebat is the interpolated month.