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I would like to know when David, the king of Israel, was born.

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    May 2, 2018 at 18:11

5 Answers 5

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David was born 1041 bc, maybe plus or minus a year.

David was 30 years old when he began to reign and he reigned 40 years.(2 Sam 5:4)

Multiple lines of evidence put the start of the reign of Solomon at 971 BC.

(However, there are two provisos:

First, there was a co-regency between David and Solomon, and the Bible does not tell us how long that was for. The years of a co-regency would be added to the length of reign of both kings. If the co-regency was for 2 years then David was born about 1039 BC.

Second, the Jews numbered the years of a reign by the number of New Year's Days within the reign plus one. So, if a king reigned just over one year but included two New Year's Days then the reign length would be counted as "three years". eg a reign from 31 December 2020 to 1 January 2022 would be counted as three years, a reign from 1 Jan 2021 to 1 Jan 2022 would be two years, and a reign from 1 Jan 2021 to 31 Dec 2021 would be one year, even though it is only two days shorter than the reign of three years. So David's 40 years could have been just over 38 years.)

The evidence for the year of the beginning of the reign of Solomon is found in:-

  1. the work of Valerius Coucke, based not primarily on the Bible, but on classical sources, including Josephus. (See the wikipedia article on "Valerius Coucke");

  2. Edwin Thiele's "Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings";

  3. William Hamilton Barnes's evidence from the Tyrian King Lists. Barnes was not aware of the work of Coucke in the 1920s but followed similar reasoning independently;

  4. Kenneth Kitchen's evidence from Egyptian chronology;

  5. 1 Kings 6:1, Ezekiel 40.1 and Leviticus 25:9,10, together with the Seder Olam.

This 5th line of reasoning is the simplest. The Seder Olam probably written in the second century AD says that Ezekiel's Jubilee in Ezekiel 40:1 was the 17th. It was a Jubilee Year because in that year New Year's Day, Rosh Hashanah, was on the 10th day of the month (Ez 40:1, see Leviticus 25:9,10). For 48 out of 49 years New Year's Day happens on the 1st day of the month. The Jubilee Year happens every 49 years. Ezekiel 40:1 is counted from the destruction of Jerusalem 587 BC, and was in 574 BC.

A translation of the Seder Olam says:

And so it says (Ez. 40:1): “In 25th year of our exile, on the day of the New Year, on the tenth of the month, 14 years after the destruction of the of Jerusalem.” When did he Ezekiel have this vision? At the beginning of a Jubilee period. If they stayed for 17 entire jubilee periods, how can there be an excess of 17 years?

See http://www.betemunah.org/sederolam.html and look at the section in part 2 under Joshua (chapters 11 and 12), and the paragraph starting "Caleb said to Joshua "I was 40 years old when Moses..", etc.

The author of the Seder Olam does not know how to find 17 "extra" years from the time of the beginning of the Jubilee Cycle to the 14 year after the destruction of Jerusalem (in 587 BC). These difficulties of the author of the Seder Olam are not important to us. What is important is that he says there were 17 Jubilee cycles: for this assertion he must have had access to information outside of the Bible held by the priests in Jerusalem.

Tishri of 574 BC is in the same Jewish year as Nisan 573 BC, and Nisan 573 BC + (17 jubilees * 49 years) = 573 + 833 = Nisan 1406 (year of entry into Canaan and year the Jubilee cycles first began)

1406 + 40 years in the wilderness = 1446 (date of exodus).

1446 - 479 (as per 1 Kings 6:1) = 967 BC (Temple of Solomon started to be built).

967 BC + 4 (as per 1 Kings 6:1) = 971 BC (Start of Solomon's, approx. end of David's reign)

971 + 70 (as per 2 Samuel 5:4) = 1041 BC (year of David's birth).

3 Extra Biblical evidences of the existence of David:-

In 1993 AD the "House of David" inscription was found at Tell Dan, the first time the name "David", relating to a king, was confirmed outside scripture. The inscription related to events in the year 841 BC, and defeat of Ahaziah. "We thus gain a clear mention of David as dynastic founder of the kingdom of Judah about 150 years after his death". (See "On the Reliability of the Old Testament" by Kenneth Kitchen, Eerdmans, (2003), pages 92,93 and 615).

The stela of Mesha king of Moab also mentions the "House of David" from about the same time. "This was some six generations after his [David's] death" (Kitchen, page 93). (The stele was bought in 1868 and is in the Louvre. But it was not until 1994 that Andre Lemaire showed it speaks of "the House of [D]avid". See https://web.archive.org/web/20120331134523/http://www.cojs.org/pdf/house_of_david.pdf )

Shoshenq I of Egypt lists his achievements at Karnak. One of the places he speaks of which is in south Judah/Negev region is a place called "Heights of David". This would have been within 50 years of David's death (Kitchen, p93).

Postscript: I should have provided a link to the archaeologist Eilat Mazar's article, first published early 2006: "Did I find King David's Palace?" :- https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-sites-places/jerusalem/did-i-find-king-davids-palace/

Eilat Mazar reasoned from the scripture where to find David's Palace. She managed to raise the money to do a dig and found a palace built after the Tyrian style: according to scripture the Palace was built by Tyrians sent by Hiram, King of Tyre (2 Sam 5:11).

Post post script:

So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David. 1 Kings 2:10.

In 1913 Raymond Weill, a Jewish archaeologist, used Nehemiah 3:16, where the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem is being discussed, to do an archaeological dig. It reads:

After him Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, ruler of half the district of Beth-zur, repaired to a point opposite the tombs of David, as far as the artificial pool, and as far as the house of the mighty men (Nehemiah 3:16).

Weill reckoned from the Scripture where the location was and did a huge archaeological dig, finding the remains of tombs inside the walls of Jerusalem. (Burials in ancient Israel would always be outside the city, the only exception being royal burials.) The verse in Nehemiah speaks of the sepulchres (plural) of David. It seems to me it is speaking of the sepulchres of the kings of the House of David, not just David's tomb. For more see the Youtube video by Joel Kramer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_k2k0qLFR74&t=11s

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    +1 This is the first answer to have the basic dates in agreement with scholarly evidence. Your supporting evidence is very thorough. I want to understand better the relationship of all these points.
    – Bit Chaser
    Nov 13, 2018 at 17:41
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According to the New International Version Study Bible, David began to reign in 1010 B.C. and died in 970 B.C. After King Saul died, David ruled over Judah from 1010/1011 and then conquered Jerusalem in 1004. His family line comes through Boaz and Ruth, then Jesse (Ruth 4:18-22). The New Living Translation Study Bible notes make this comment:

The book of Ruth ends with a genealogy of ten generations,from Perez, the sonof Judah (Jacob's son),to David the grandson of Obed... That Ruth and Boazwere ancestors of Israel's greatest king is a majorreason for the inclusion of this small book in the O.T.

David was the youngest of Jesse's sons when Samuel anointed him (1 Samuel 16:10-13). David is believed to have been twelve to sixteen years of age when this happened. The NIV Study Bible places this even at around 1025.

That would place David's birth around 1040 B.C.

God promised David a descendant to rule on the throne forever and the genealogy of Jesus is traced back to David in both Matthew and Luke's gospels.

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The exact date of David's birth is not known, and there is no evidence of his reign or existence anywhere except for in the Bible. Most historians agree however that his reign was around 1000 B.C.1, and it is plausible that David died near 962 B.C. If he lived 70 years, then that would but his year of birth around 1032 B.C.


1 Encyclopedia Britannica

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  • Sorry ShemSeger but this post is 25 years out of date. Oct 23, 2019 at 21:19
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If you add the lengths of the reigns of the kings of Judah in 1 & 2 Kings you get 393.5 years, which is very close to the 390 years of iniquity of the "house of Israel" (Samaria) in Ezekiel 4:4-6, Samaria never had a king who did right in the sight of the LORD and although the nation of Israel {Samaria} ended in about 722 BC the "house of Israel" or tribes went on, many of them moved or had moved to Judah, see 2 Chronicles 35:16-19. If we count back from the accepted date of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC and add the 390 years (probably more accurate than the adding of the reigns), you get 976 BC for the split of the kingdom under king Rehoboam. Then add 40 and 40 for the reigns of Solomon (2 Chronicles 9:30) and David (2 Samuel 5:4), you get 1056 BC for the beginning of David's reign. David was thirty years old when he became king (2 Samuel 5:4), therefore it appears that David was born in 1056+30=1086 BC.

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David was born in the year 1107 B.C.E.

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    How do you know this? Please edit this to add supporting evidence.
    – curiousdannii
    2 days ago
  • Hi @stkuser, welcome to Christianity.SE. We tend to prefer well-supported answers here; have a look at how the high-rated answers to this question are laid out, giving references and scholarly evidence for their responses. If you believe the date is 1107 BC, you'll be more likely to get your answer voted up if you can support that date similarly to how other answers do.
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    yesterday

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