500 - 400 BCE

Persian Rule of Israel, 
539-332 BCE

After the Cyrus Edict, and the return to Zion, the Jewish people were split between Israel and Babylon.   Only 42,300 Jews returned from Babylon, about 10% of the Jewish population. After finishing rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem, the Jews in Israel continued to face hostile resistance from the Samarians while rebuilding their lives.   Meanwhile, hostility against the Jews reared its head in Babylon. The Babylonian Jews were about to face total annihilation driven by the anti-Semitic rhetoric from their ancient enemy, Amalek.   A significant schism in dating occurs in this time period driving two schools of thought. The academic world adds many Persian kings in succession, whereas the Jewish and Biblical accounts only name a few in a shorter period of time. This causes a discrepancy called the missing 164-years and changes the dating order of certain events. Followers of the Biblical narrative might find it challenging to reconcile the academic dating with the Biblical narrative.   This site follows the academic dating but does not in so doing disregard the Biblical dating account.

Frieze from Darius I ​(r. 522–486 BCE) Palace at Susa (Shushan) The Louvre, Paris, Photo by Ardon Bar-Hama

“Jerusalem” Pentagram from the 
Period of Persian Rule of Israel

In the Persian period, the official seal of the Persian Province of Judah contained a five-pointed star with the word “Jerusalem” spelled with five Hebrew consonants, YRSLM. One letter is stamped between each point of the star.   

In this picture is a clay seal dating to the Persian period. The official seal of the Persian Province of Judah contained a five-pointed star with the word “Jerusalem” spelled with five Hebrew consonants, Yud Reish Shin Lamed Mem. One letter is stamped between each point of the star.  

Efrat Bocher and Oded Lipschits 

Persian King Xerxes (Biblical Ahasuerus), r.486-465 BCE

Back in Persia Cyrus was succeeded by his son Cambyses II, followed by a second son Bardiya who was murdered by his cousin Darius I. Darius married Atossa, Cyrus’ daughter. Their son was allegedly Xerxes, better known in the Bible as Ahasuerus.   Pictured here is Crown Prince Xerxes standing behind his father Darius the Great in a stone relief from the main banquet hall at the royal palace at Persepolis, Persia - today’s southwest Iran.

Crown prince Xerxes, known in the Book of Esther as King Ahasuerus, stands behind his father Darius The Great in a stone relief from the main banquet hall at the royal palace at Persepolis, Persia.  

Nehemiah’s Wall Found at the City of David

Nehemiah 4:10-12
From that day on, half my servants did work and half held lances and shields, bows and armor. And the officers stood behind the whole house of Judah who were rebuilding the wall. The basket-carriers were burdened, doing work with one hand while the other held a weapon. As for the builders, each had his sword girded at his side as he was building. The trumpeter stood beside me.

When the enemies and neighboring nations saw the project progressing in earnest, they organized attacks on the builders, causing the Jews to build with shovel in one hand and sword in the other. The Samarians stirred on the neighbouring nations with false accusations against the Jews and even tried to assassinate Nehemiah.   Nehemiah 4:10-12 From that day on, half my servants did work and half held lances and shields, bows and armor. And the officers stood behind the whole house of Judah who were rebuilding the wall. The basket-carriers were burdened, doing work with one hand while the other held a weapon. As for the builders, each had his sword girded at his side as he was building. The trumpeter stood beside me.   Higher up the hill of the original wall in the City of David, archaeologists uncovered a section of a wall and tower dating back to the Persian period, most likely belonging to the wall Nehemiah built.

City of David Excavations, Jerusalem
Israel Antiquities Authority

Biblical Archaeology Society

Nehemiah's Wall Is Built in 444 BCE, In 52 Days by 41 Teams

Nehemiah 6:15-16
So the wall was completed in fifty-two days, on the twenty-fifth of Elul. When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and disheartened, for they realized that this task had been accomplished by our G-d.

Despite heavy physical and political resistance, the Jews pressed forward with 41 teams building unceasingly. The wall was completed in 52 days, finishing on the twenty-fifth of Elul in the year 444 BCE.   Nehemiah 6:15  And so the wall was completed in fifty-two days, on the twenty-fifth of Elul. When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and disheartened, for they realized that this task had been accomplished by our G-d.

Nehemiah Travels From Shushan, Persia  
to Rebuild the Wall of Jerusalem

Nehemiah 2:17
“Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem…”  

City of David Megalim Institute, Courtesy of George Blumenthal and the Gol Family

Watch a summary of the story of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the wall by the Megallim Institute, courtesy of George Blumenthal and the Gol Family.

The First Reference to the Celebration of Passover Outside of the Bible, 419 BCE


Passover Letter s ent from Jerusalem to Elephantine, Egypt

"In the month of Nisan, let there be a Passover for the Judahite garrison. Now accordingly count fourteen days of the month Nisan and keep the Passover, and from the 15th day to the 21st day of Nisan are seven days of Unleavened Bread. Be clean and take heed. Do not work…  Let this be done as King Darius (II) commanded."



Pergamon Museum 

One of the Papyri, circa 419 BCE, is a letter sent from Jerusalem to Elephantine outlining Passover rituals. It is the oldest extra-Biblical text referencing Passover.   "And now, this year, year 5 of King Darius, it has been sent from the king to Arsa[mes ……… …]In the month of Nisan, let there be a Passover for the Judahite garrison. Now accordingly count fourteen days of the month Nisan and keep the Passover, and from the 15th day to the 21st day of Nisan are seven days of Unleavened Bread. Be clean and take heed. Do not work…

read more

לְאַחַר שֶׁשָּׁאוּל הַמֶּלֶךְ וּבְנוֹ יְהוֹנָתָן מֵתִים בַּקְּרָב, פּוֹנִים רָאשֵׁי הַשְּׁבָטִים לְדָוִד, שֶׁמָּלַךְ כְּבָר שֶׁבַע שָׁנִים וָחֵצִי בְּחֶבְרוֹן. הֵם מְמַנִּים אוֹתוֹ לְמֶלֶךְ עַל הַקּוֹנְפֵדֵרַצְיָה הַשִּׁבְטִית הַמְּאֻחֶדֶת שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל.     

דָּוִד הַמֶּלֶךְ פּוֹנֶה מִיָּד לְכִוּוּן יְרוּשָׁלַיִם, אַחַת הֶעָרִים הָאַחֲרוֹנוֹת שֶׁטֶּרֶם נִכְבְּשָׁה בְּמַהֲלַךְ כִּבּוּשׁ הָאָרֶץ בִּידֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.   דָּוִד בּוֹחֵר בִּירוּשָׁלַיִם מֵאַרְבַּע סִבּוֹת עִקָּרִיּוֹת: מַיִם, בִּטָּחוֹן, אִחוּד וְשִׁלְטוֹן קַרְקָעִי נֵיטְרָלִי, אַךְ חָשׁוּב מֵהַכֹּל, בִּגְלַל הַקְּדוֹשָׁה שֶׁל יְרוּשָׁלַיִם הַטְּבוּעָה בַּמָּקוֹם הַנִּבְחָר, שֶׁבּוֹ יִבָּנֶה בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ הָעֲתִידִי.     

לְפָנֶיךָ סִרְטוֹן הַמְּסַפֵּר אֶת הַסִּבּוֹת שֶׁל דָּוִד בְּכִבּוּשׁ הָעִיר.