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Dates of the Twelve Minor Prophets

This set of notes explain in more detail the dates I propose for the Twelve Minor
Prophets on the Old Testament Dates page.

Notes on dates of the Twelve Minor Prophets

1.)  HOSEA
roughly 765-725
max: 791-686, min: 734-715
Reigns of Uzziah (787-734), Jotham (750-730), Ahaz (731-715), and Hezekiah (715-686) of Judah,
and of Jeroboam II of Israel (791-750).

Directed primarily against Israel. Some time after Israel had allied with Assyria (5.13; 7.11; 8.9), but
before the rebellion which led to the annexation of most of Israel in 733 (Jezreel still in Israel 1.4-5, etc;
Gilgal 4.15; Tabor 5.1; 6.8, 12.11 Gilead). Mention of Shalmaneser III taking Beth-Arbel in 841 (10.14).

While Hosea's career is given such a lengthy dating through the various reigns, the book itself is
more of a piece, relating to a single period at a distance from the parting and end of Israel sufficient
that Assyria is threatening, but not certainly on the way.

7.7; 8.4; 12.10-11; 10.15? } on the absence of kings in Israel

2.)  JOEL

Probably to be set in roughly the same period as Hosea and Amos.  The setting is that of an invasion
(1.6) of Judah.  The nations mentioned are:    Tyre and Sidon (3.4) &
Philistia (3.4)
These have captured Judeans and Jerusalemites and sold them into slavery to the Greeks (3.6), and
perhaps looted the Temple (3.5) or at least made off with a great deal of treasure (3.5).

                                                3.10:       Beat your plowshares into swords
                                                                and your pruning hooks into spears

                cf Isa 2.4 & Mic 4.3:             They will beat their swords into plowshares
                                                                and their spears into pruning hooks

                                       also 3.16:       The Lord will roar from Zion
                                                                and thunder from Jerusalem

                                     Amos 1.2:        The Lord roars from Zion
                                                                and thunders from Jerusalem
                                                (both are identical in Heb., with imperfect verbs)

3.19:  Egypt and Edom are ssaid to have done violence to Judah, shedding innocent blood.

There are several potential periods to which Joel might best apply:
1.) Early in the reign of Uzziah, before his conquering of the Philistines.  See 2Chr 26.6-8
2.) Early in the reign of Ahaz, 2Chr 28.18, was an invasion of Judah's Shephelah by the Philistines.
3.) After the fall of Jerusalem

While some would find the similarities with Isaiah, Micah, and Amos, all dated mid-late 8th century,
as evidence that Joel must date to a later period, the more obvious solution is that Joel is also a
mid-late 8th century prophet, placed appropriately in the list of the Twelve whether according to the
order of the MT or the LXX:

At this point, I lean toward a date of about 730 for Joel, based on the connection of Edom and the
Philistines both recorded as attacking Judah early in the reign of Ahaz (731-715), see 2Chr 28.17-18.

3.)  AMOS
His prophecy is precisely dated to two years before the earthquake in Uzziah's (787-734) and
Jeroboam II's (791-750) reigns. This earthquake is usually set around c. 750.  So Amos = c. 752.

v. 20's "Halah" in NRSV is only a suggested correction in BHS, and isn't necessary or likely.  This
therefore doesn't mean that Obadiah is necessarily dated after the fall of Samaria.  In fact, a better
date is early in the reign of Ahaz (731-715). This makes the pairing of territories a reversal of what
occurred in those invasions (2 Chr 28.17-18):  "For the Edomites had again invaded and defeated
Judah, and carried away captives.  And the Philistines had made raids on the cities in the
Shephelah and the Negev of Judah...."

Obadiah 19-20 pairings:

                Negeb................................................................... Esau
                Shephelah........................................................... land of Philistines
                Ephraim............................................................... land of Samaria
                Benjamin............................................................. Gilead
                Israelite exiles among Canaanites................ Phoenicians to Zarephath
                Exiles of Jerusalem in Sepharad.................... Towns of Negeb

Most telling is the pairing of Negeb & Esau, and Shephelah & Philistia.  These are exactly the areas
closest to the invaders' territories, and the most likely to be seized.  That they were seized around
730 is related in 2 Chr 17.18, above.

This reading thus places Joel and Obadiah in response to the same invasions. It's not surprising
that in at least one ancient tradition of ordering the Twelve Minor Prophets that Joel and Obadiah
are thus placed together, c. 730.

5.)  JONAH
Jonah's career is placed in (or before) the reign of Jeroboam II (791-50), according to 2 Kings 14.25.
The Assyrian kings of this period were not as strong as those before and after, due to the pressure
of the Urartian kingdom to their north.  These kings were:

                Adad-narari III...................... 810-783
                Shalmaneser IV.................. 783-773
                Assur-dan III........................ 773-755
                Assur-narari V..................... 754-745

Resurgence came with the next king, Tiglath-pileser III, 744-727

The Hebrew used in Jonah is so generically prosaic as to be not much help in dating.  While it
undoubtedly dates to some period after that of which it described, how much later is a question to
be answered.  Its placement in this position among the Minor Prophets in both the MT and LXX
traditions indicates, however, that those doing the ordering of the books were arranging the books
by subject matter, and not actual dates of composition (although these could certainly be the same!).

6.)  MICAH
Reigns of Jotham (750-730), Ahaz (731-715), and Hezekiah (715-686)
max: 750-686  min: 730-715
Micah 4.1-3 = Isaiah 2.2-4
cf. Joel 3.10, Mic 4.3, Isa 2.4
Note also the Amos 1.2 and Joel 3.16 parallel
Jer 26.18-19 dates Micah 3.12 to the reign of Hezekiah (715-686)

Most, if not all, of Micah appears to be prior to the fall of Samaria, but 1.16 indicates an exile has
already occurred, so it's possibly post-733, though it's an exile of children, which would likely
indicate this took place as a corollary to the establishment of a treaty relationship.  Micah is
difficult to pin down where the subject is Israel and where Judah.

7.)  NAHUM
c. 650
Directed at Nineveh, it obviously dates before that city's fall in 612, but after the sacking of Thebes
in 663 (3.8).  Assyria is said to be "at full strength" (1.12), which could not be said after 626, when
the Assyrian army was defeated at Babylon by the Chaldean army.  So, sometime between 663
and 626.  In 652, the Assyrian army beat an army of rebels at Babylon, but the conflict was the last
success of Assyria, apparently being too great a drain on resources.  Just after this would be
precisely the time for Nahum—Assyria still ruled, but was on the way down.  Her atrocities were to
be answered for, according to God's will!

1.6:  "For I am rousing the Chaldeans...."  This rousing of the Chaldeans occurred in 626 with
Nabopolassar's defeat of the Assyrian army at Babylon.  He was promptly crowned King of Babylon,
initiating the Neo-Babylonian Empire over the course of the next few years.  Thus c. 625.  Also, it will
have been prior to the reforms of Josiah in 622/1 (1.2-4).

Also c. 625, pre-dating the fall of Nineveh (2.13) and Josiah's reforms (passim).

10.)  HAGGAI
Precisely dated:
                1.1          29 Aug 520
                2.1          17 Oct 520
                2.10        18 Dec 520

Also precisely dated:
                1.1          27 Oct - 24 Nov 520
                1.7          15 Feb 519
                7.1          7 Dec 518

Sometime after 520, when the Judean returned exile community was still not intermarrying, and
457, when the intermarriage problem (etc.) was addressed by Ezra.  c. 500-480.

©2005 Kevin P. Edgecomb
last updated 27 December 2005