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 7-year cycle because after 573 BCE the following Yovel would have commenced in the fall of 523 BCE. The next Yovel would commence in the fall of 473 BCE and that means that 459 BCE and 445 BCE would be Sabbath years during the reign of Artaxerxes I (464-424 BCE).
However, there is still the well-known age problem created by having Ezra and Nehemiah serve Artaxerxes I. Ezra's father was slain in 586 BCE (2 Kings 25:18-22), so both Ezra and his brother Yehozadak were born before the destruction of Jerusalem. If Ezra made it down to 459 BCE he was at least 127 years old. On the other hand, if Ezra served Xerxes as Josephus states, and if Xerxes had a Persian count that began in 496 BCE (his Babylonian count began in 486 BCE; see post #7244) then Ezra was in his late 90s when he returned to Jerusalem in 490 BCE. A Sabbath year was two years later in 488 BCE. So the choice is between believing Ezra returned to Jerusalem at 127+ years old or at ca. 97 and died shortly afterwards.
Recall that Nehemiah was among those who returned to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:2; Neh. 7:7). It is difficult to believe that an adult alive in 538 BCE was still living over 90 years later in 445 BCE and remained active down to 433 BCE. Ezra and Nehemiah are really one book not two. The last note of time in Ezra is the 7th year of Artaxerxes. If in Ezra-Nehemiah 'Artaxerxes' is merely a title, 'Great Shah,' and Xerxes is the Jewish author's intended king per Josephus then Ezra 7:1 and the opening date in Neh. 1:1 refer to the 7th and 20th years of Xerxes' Persian count (490 BCE, 477 BCE). It means Nehemiah, after reaching the age of say 18-20 in 538 BCE, was active for at least 73 more years (538-465 BCE) and not 105 years (538-433 BCE).
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
Re: Post-Exilic Sabbath Years Tory,Sat Feb 23 19:25