www.thain.com Site updates - Daniel's arithmetic

The arithmetic used by Daniel

The Babylonians and other Chaldeans reckoned years inclusively, which is to say they included the "zeroth" year in any tally of years. The Jewish method of counting years (and the one we use today) was exclusive, which is to say that the "zeroth" year was excluded from the count.

Great care must therefore be exercised in the use of modern (Arabic) numerals and the arithmetic employed when reckoning them up. It is very easy to slip into modern habits, even when one may be well aware of the tendency to do so. Add to that the ordinary frailty of human kind, and it's remarkable indeed when two people computing the years of Daniel's prophecy ever arrive at the same result!

I attempted at one stage in the development of this site to make things easier for the reader by numbering the years in such a way that the arithmetic appeared to the modern mind more intuitively to be correct... but it was a mistake. By so doing I introduced more problems that I had solved, and therefore in both the online pages and the downloadable PDFs I have reverted to what I believe to be the Biblical way of doing things.

If those few readers to whom such things matter find themselves feeling worried that the numbers just don't look right, the best advice is to write out the years in tabular form and add them up individually instead of doing the arithmetic with a calculator or in one's head. A spreadsheet is an ideal tool for this, but a pencil and paper are just as good and were all our forefathers had at their disposal.

If, despite the many hours spent proof-reading and checking, any errors still appear to remain in anything published on this site, I should be extremely grateful for a short note pointing them out. To err is human, but to really mess things up you need a computer!