We need to know for certain the dates of Ezra's and Nehemiah's activity and which Persian kings they served. There is no explicit statement linking the public reading of the Torah by Ezra, which to all appearances looks like a shemittah year, to a specific regnal year of a king of Persia. One cannot just assume Neh. 8:1ff records events of the regnal year mentioned in Neh. 2:1. And we do not know if Artaxerxes I is the king mentioned in Neh. 2:1. It could be Xerxes per Josephus because Jewish literature treats "Artaxerxes" (Achashverosh) as a title. These and other problems beset attempts to use the Ezra-Nehemiah narrative to fix sabbath years in the early post-exilic period, so it is not a given that 445 BCE was a shemittah.
Your theory that a cycle beginning in 515 BCE was interrupted by Antiochus IV Epiphanes and a new cycle was put in place in 164 BCE when the Temple was cleansed is interesting. However I think 515 BCE was the second year of a 7-year cycle. 2 Chronicles 36:19ff implies that the 70th year of the destruction of the First Temple was a shemittah year, that as long as the land of Israel was without its Temple (not just without its people) it remained "desolate" and enjoyed its sabbaths. From the destruction of the First Temple in 587 BCE to its rebuilding in Year 6 of Darius I in 516 BCE was 71 years. So 517, the 70th year, was a shemittah and 516, the 71st year, was the end of the desolation and the first year in a new 7-year cycle. I don't see this as a new count because there is no reason to believe the count was lost or discarded, just as the seventh day was never lost or discarded even if it could not always be observed in the Exile. There is evidence of a resumption of the actual observance of the shemittah with respect to the land, but no evidence of a completely new calendar for shemittot at this point.
But yes, there are shemittot recorded for the years 163 BCE, 135, BCE, 37 BCE, and one in 55 CE, and this cycle cannot be extended back to agree with a shemittah falling on your date of 515 BCE or my date of 517 BCE. This is probably the reason why. Originally a 50-year cycle was in force where the 50th year was a year unto itself, a Yovel, and not the 1st year of a new cycle. The Torah states that the land is to be worked six successive years and left alone on the seventh, i.e. the shemittah. If the Yovel had never been a year unto itself but the first year of a new 7-year cycle there would be times when the land was worked just five years which cannot happen. At some point in the post-exilic period (I think under the Greeks) the Yovel became the first year of a new cycle and the last year of the old but it was no longer observed as a shemittah, which meant the land was still worked six years.
System 1, Pre-exilic (8 sabbath years in 50 years): 1,2,3,4,5,6,7(shemittah),8,9,10,11,12,13,14(shemittah),15,16,17,18,19,20,21(shemittah),22,23,24,25,26,27,28(shemittah),29,30,31,32,33,34,35(shemittah),36,37,38,39,40,41,42(shemittah),43,44,45,46,47,48,49(shemittah),50(shemittah),1,2,3,4,5,6,7(shemittah),etc.
System 2, Post-exilic (7 sabbath years in 50 years): 1,2,3,4,5,6,7(shemittah),8,9,10,11,12,13,14(shemittah),15,16,17,18,19,20,21(shemittah),22,23,24,25,26,27,28(shemittah),29,30,31,32,33,34,35(shemittah),36,37,38,39,40,41,42(shemittah),43,44,45,46,47,48,49(shemittah),50=1,2,3,4,5,6,7(shemittah),etc.
System 2 is reflected in the years 163 BCE, 135, BCE, 37 BCE, and 55 CE. So what you (and I) could argue is that somewhere between the late 6th and mid-2nd centuries BCE, System 1 was replaced with System 2. After 70 CE System 2 was eventually replaced (by the chronology of Sabbath years in the Seder Olam Rabbah) for the system we follow now in the land of Israel. BTW, a shemittah is currently in progress.
Marianne -- Before going too far out on a limb with von Spaeth's dating of the Senenmut ceiling you should read Christian Leitz' rebuttal "Remarks about the Appearance of Mars in the Tomb of Senenmut ... more
CB: Before going too far out on a limb with von Spaeth's dating of the Senenmut ceiling you should read Christian Leitz' rebuttal "Remarks about the Appearance of Mars in the Tomb of Senenmut in... more
Basically, he gives a number of reasons why von Spaeth's claimed identification of Mars cannot be right. This is of course a different matter from whether Leitz' own dating is right. They can't both... more
Interesting, Marianne. Here's another Website on Senenmut's astronomical ceiling: http://www.anistor.gr/english/enback/v021.htm . I don't see the connection you're making between "year 7" and the... more
Nope. 1534 BC is probably the year of the birth of Hatshepsut, herself, if that southern sky has been correctly interpreted. It can work out. Look: 1534 Year of the birth of Hatshepsut 1534 minus 16... more
GR: Thanks for that explanation. You begin with the hypothesis that "1534 [is the] Year of the birth of Hatshepsut." I still don't see why Senenmut would construct an astronomical ceiling in one of... more
In his "Chronicle of the Pharaohs", Peter Clayton has the 18th Dynasty starting like this: Ahmose I 1570-1546 24 yrs [Josephus gives 25 yrs, 4 mos.] Amenhotep I 1551-1524 27 years [Clayton doesn't... more
We have the eruption of Thera in 1613 BCE, an inscription from the reign of Ahmose I seemingly recording its after effects, and Theran pumice in 18th dynasty strata. If the ceiling is a snapshot of... more
Not everyone is in agreement that the "Tempest Stela" of Ahmose I records the eruption of the Theran volcano. [See Allen] I used to argue for that, but I'm not so sure now. And you know where Bietak... more
Good points. I guess if Senenmut had to consult records, as opposed to being an eyewitness of the "event" in 1534, the value of the astronomical ceiling is diminished. For the "snapshot" could be of... more
Hi Tory. You quote some interesting dates for Thutmose III. I'm using this reference for the "Annals of Thutmose III": "The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East," Prof. Charles F. Horne. New ... more
I wrote: 1534 BC is probably the year of the birth of Hatshepsut, herself, if that southern sky has been correctly interpreted. It can work out. Look: 1534 Year of the birth of Hatshepsut 1534 minus... more
TE: I freely confess my ignorance of things celestial as far as ancient chronology is concerned. But I also confess my great scepticism about this whole subject. I appreciate the attraction of trying ... more
Dear Marianne, Thank you for your comments. First an apology: I did not intend my post to be a blast at you or your chronological views although I realise on re-reading it why you think I might have... more
Hello, all -- a different subject just for a moment. There are different views about the dates on which Sabbath years were kept after the exile. Some conclude that a Sabbath commenced in 38 bc,... more
Hi David, We need to know for certain the dates of Ezra's and Nehemiah's activity and which Persian kings they served. There is no explicit statement linking the public reading of the Torah by Ezra,... more
Hi David, Or -- if we take 573 BCE to be the year of a Yovel (Jubilee), the 25th year of the captivity as reported in Ezekiel 40:1, then the fall of 515 BCE would be the start of the first year of a... more
So Moshe, born according to Spaeth in 1534, was the historical Senenmut. It seems like that is where Spaeth is headed from what little of his website I have read? There is at least one orthodox rabbi ... more
Tory: So Moshe, born according to Spaeth in 1534, was the historical Senenmut. It seems like that is where Spaeth is headed from what little of his website I have read? There is at least one orthodox ... more
You know, this is pretty wild. That date for the birth of Moses works out every time. The Torah says that Moses didn't return to Egypt until he was 80 "because all who had sought his life were dead". ... more
Naturally, wouldn't you know that some ancient authors, like Eusebius and Artapanus failed to believe that the Hebrews left Egypt 430 years after they had arrived--and that's one of the reasons... more
Hello Marianne, Your comments are very interesting and informative. I think the church historians engaged in a bit of historical revision for political as well as religious reasons. It might have... more
Cullom: I think the church historians engaged in a bit of historical revision for political as well as religious reasons. It might have seemed preferrable to have Moses and God best a famous king of... more
Hello Marianne, Do you know of any king besides Ahmose and Amenhotep I during the period in question who was succeeded by a son-in-law? I suppose Thutmosis II was succeeded by a son-in-law since his... more
Oops--pressed some wrong button. Hatshepsut, her Speos Artemidos inscription, says the "Aamu" were ensconced at Avaris "with vagabonds among them". Now, the Aamu were realistically depicted in a tomb ... more
Hello Marianne, I should have said that Thutmosis I was succeeded by a "son-in-law" since his son Thutmosis II married his daughter Hatshepsut. The story of Abisha is remarkably similar to the story... more
Cullom: In your earlier post you related that Egypt was ruled by Palmanothes AND Chenephres so Chenephres must have been more than an important official. ML: Why? He can have been a local lord.... more