[99] Evidence for 604 being the first regnal year of Nebuchadnezzar

In the 3rd century BCE, a Babylonian priest named Berossus wrote a history of Babylonia which dealt with the lengths of reigns of kings during the Neo-Babylonian period (Nabopolassar to Nabonidus). Another historian, astronomer, and writer, Claudius Ptolemy (70-161 CE), put together his own listing of kings and dates of reigns for the same period, although whether he did it independently of Berossus we do not know. However he certianly did not find fault with the chronology of Berossus. The table of reigns is:

Name of King

Berossus

Ptolemy

BCE

Nabopolassar

21 years

21 years

625-605

Nebuchadnezzar

43 years

43 years

604-562

Evilmerodach

2 years

2 years

561-560

Neriglissar

4 years

4 years

559-556

Labashi-Marduk

9 months

n/a

556

Nabonidus

17 years

17 years

555-539

As you can see, both historians have listed Nebuchadnezzar's first year as 604. Cambridge Ancient History (Cambridge University Press) follows this Chronology. Six further confirmations of this Chronology for the kings of Babylon are detailed below. Much of this is taken from: www.freeminds.org/history/gentile.htm 

1. The Uruk King List, unearthed during an excavation campaign in 1959/60. Portions of it are eaten away, but what is still preserved agrees with Berossus' and Ptolemy's lengths of reigns of the first two kings, Nabopolassar and Nebuchadnezzar.

2. We have the preserved Royal Inscriptions of Nabonidus. One, designated Nabon. No. 8, helps to establish the whole Neo-Babylonian era, since it states that from the 16th year of Nabopolassar to the accession year of Nabonidus was a period of 54 years (in complete agreement with Berossus and Ptolemy). The other Royal Inscription, Nabon. H 1 B, gives the lengths of all the reigns of the Neo-Babylonian kings up to the 9th year of Nabonidus (except for Labashi-Marduk, whose short reign is ignored). The figures given are again in complete harmony with Berossus and Ptolemy.

3. Thousands of business document texts that have come down to us from that period. There are dated tablets in existence from every year during the whole era. The records of a banking house centered in Babylon, the house of "The Sons of Egibi," verify each year of every king's reign during the period. This aligns exactly with Berossus, Ptolemy, the Chronicles, and the Royal records.

4. There are the preserved documents of Babylonian astronomers, termed "Astronomical Diaries." These have been designated VAT 4956 (kept in the Berlin Museum) and B.M. 32312. They contain dated astronomical positions which are not duplicated in the heavens for thousands of years, thus pinpointing with precise accuracy Nebuchadnezzar's nineteenth (sic) regnal year (in which he conquered Jerusalem--Jer. 52:12) as 586/585 BCE (sic) .

5. There are the synchronic links provided by comparing the chronology of Egypt to that of Babylon. There are at least four such dated connecting links, giving excellent proof of the correctness of Berossus' and Ptolemy's king-lists.

6. Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology, page 274, heading: JUDAH: "Archaeological evidence for the destruction of the kingdom in 586 B.C. comes from Jerusalem, Lachish, Tell Beit Mirsim, and other sites."