Adherents of JW dogma are boastful of a new website (http://www.jehovahsjudgment.co.uk/607) which they claim has "irrefutable" proof for their 607 doctrine. It is full of problems, and I will indicate these section by section, as time permits.
Why is 607BCE an important date to Jehovah's Witnesses
The introduction paints JWs as the persecuted underdog. In the first paragraph, the article refers to 'apostates', using the JW perjorative usage, which ignores the true broader meaning of the word. (A person who leaves a religion to become a JW is also an 'apostate'.) This automatically demonstrates a non-objective approach, of which the reader should be suspicious. The article then gives a summary for the basis of the 607/1914 dogma. I will deal with most of the problems with that when I get to Appendix A. The article states that the accepted secular chronology is not compatible with the biblical accounts, however it should be noted that it is the Witnesses' interpretation of the bible and not the bible itself that is at odds. The motive for the article is then stated, specifically that "if 607 is wrong, 1914 is also wrong". The article just became a lot more subjective, and the agenda for defending 607 is starkly evident - let the reader use discernment!
The real issue: seventy years
The article briefly states the secular reasoning for arriving at 587 for the destruction of Jerusalem, then applies an ad hominem attack (both 'guilt by association' and 'ad hominem abusive') regarding "Christendom". The article then implies that exclusively Jehovah's Witnesses believe the bible, as if the bible cannot be reconciled with the secular history without taking liberties with the scriptural account.
The article then conveniently quotes the Contemporary English Translation for a rendering of Daniel 9:2 that suits their purposes. Of note, that translation of the bible is a paraphrase; also it was criticized in the Watchtower, 1 October 1997, p20, for its rendering of 1 Timothy 5:17, and 15 March 2000, p29, for adding words to Romans 12:19. Incidentally, that translation destroys the JW application of the 70 years at Jeremiah 29:10, stating: "After Babylonia has been the strongest nation for seventy years."
Daniel 9:2 explicitly indicates that Daniel discerned from what Jeremiah said about the 70 years, so this verse cannot be validly interpreted in a way that contradicts Jeremiah 25:11-12 which stipulates the true nature of the 70 years were of all the nations of the region serving Babylon, and not of Jewish exile. Also, the wording in the NWT, "fulfilling the devasations" (plural) discredits their own interpretation, indicating that various devastations had occurred which had concluded with the final eventuality that such 'devastations' were fulfilled, and not that a single devastation had befallen Jerusalem for the entirety of the period. (The word translated 'fulfilled' means 'brought to a state of completion', not 'happened as prophesied'.) The interpretation that is scripturally consistent is that the "devastations of Jerusalem" occurred during the 70 years of Babylon's domination. Any other interpretation is inconsistent with Jeremiah 25:11-12.
The article states that the Jews returned to Jerusalem in 537, but 538 is the correct year, but more on that later.
The claim is again made that the secular evidence contradicts the bible. Ignoring the context of the 70 years originally given by Jeremiah 25:12, and drawing on the faulty conclusion drawn from the misinterpretation of Daniel 9:2, the article then states that the 70 years must have started in 607.
The article then restates its faulty conclusion that Jerusalem must have exclusively lay in ruins for the full 70 years, and restates their doubly ad hominem attack on the suggestion that Jerusalem was only desolate for 50 years.
70 years of what?
Ignoring the as yet unstated scriptural contradictions that their interpretation causes, the article instead points the finger at those who reject their 607 doctrine, and then makes a continued ad hominem attack on the "motives" of apostates.
The article attempts to discredit any valid interpretation other than the JW belief that the 70 years refer specifically to exile and desolation of Jerusalem, so far without any justification whatsoever. This serves to slant the opinon of the naive reader before any actual evidence has been provided, priming the reader for accepting the JW interpretation.
Again there is a summary restating the false conclusion that the secular chronology contradicts the bible, and a false and irrelevant claim is given regarding the attitudes of others toward the true date of Jerusalem's destruction.
Is Jerusalem included in the 70 years?
The article tries to slant the interpretation of Daniel 9:1 by placing a false frame of reference, stating "when the 70 years were about to expire", however Daniel 9:1-2 only indicates that Daniel "discerned by the books" the interpretation of the 70 years at the time, and not whether such a period had already ended or was still ongoing. (They do though correctly state Cyrus' first year as 539/8, which contradicts the alleged return of the Jews in 537. More on that later.)
The article then quotes Jeremiah 25:11, 18, in an attempt to apply the 70 years exclusively to Jerusalem. The context of the words "these nations" is carefully avoided by leaving out verse 9, which explicitly indicates that those who were referred to in the application of the 70 years were "all these nations round about", and there is no mention of exile.
An irrelevant claim about the desolation only affecting "the land of Judah" is then mentioned.
Where do the 70 years start?
A spurious connection is made between the 70 years of nations serving Babylon (involving Babylon's position in the region), and the "calamity" (involving Babylon's conquests in the region), and a false conclusion is then applied.
When did Judah go into exile?
The article quotes 2 Kings 25 to imply that the exile was regarded as having started from when the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. However Ezekiel 40:1 indicates that the Jews regarded the exile as having begun 11 years prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, and Jeremiah 29:1-10 indicates that the 70 years did not begin at some time later than that exile. Jeremiah 52:28-30 concurs that the prior exile was more significant; additionally, Jeremiah 52:30 indicates a later exile of Jews in Nebuchadnezzar's 23rd year (582BC). (Note that Jeremiah 52:28-30 are an interpolation from Babylonian sources which do not include accession years, explaining why they refer to 7th and 18th years rather than the years elsewhere referred to by Jeremiah). (The spurious JW claim that these were from Egypt will be dealt with more fully later.)
Judeans living outside Jerusalem
Drawing again on the false conclusion reached in the 'Where do the 70 years start' section, another attack is made on 'apostates'.
Daniel's reference to the 70 years from Jeremiah 25:11 is again misapplied to the 'calamity' of verse 18, whereas "all this land" from verse 11 actually refers to "all these nations" as indicated in verse 9. The false conclusion is then restated that Daniel equated the 'calamity' with the beginning of the 70 years. The Message translation is quoted in the article; incidentally, that translation destroys the JW application of the 70 years at Jeremiah 29:10, stating: "Babylon’s seventy years are up."
The article makes another ad hominem attack on 'apostates', claiming that they 'complicate' the issue, whereas the overly 'simple' conclusions reached in the article deliberately leave out verses of Jeremiah chapter 25 that indicate the true context of the 70 years. Furthermore, the actual interpretation of the chapter and of Daniel's reference to it are not actually 'complex'.
A claim is then made that Jeremiah 25:1 makes the secularly consistent interpretation impossible. This conclusion is only reached when the 70 years are erroneously equated with the 'calamity'. Jeremiah gave the warning in Jehoiakim's fourth year before the 'calamity' because, as verse 1 to 7 indicate, it was now too late for the Jews to repent, however there is nothing to preclude that the 70 years during which "all these nations" would be subservient to Babylon had not already begun. The article dishonestly claims that the secularly consistent interpretation places Jeremiah 25:1 after Daniel 1:1 by ignoring the fact that Jeremiah included accession years and Daniel did not. In reality, both verses refer to Nebuchadnezzar's accession year, with Jeremiah 25:1 coming before Daniel 1:1.
The article then restates its false conclusions that have been built on its previous false conclusions.
Stay tuned for part 2 which will continue from where I've left off.