This is a continuation from part 1 at http://www.jehovahs-witness.com/12/118445/2082380/post.ashx#2082380
This section refers to the website starting from http://www.jehovahsjudgment.co.uk/607/ruins.html
Ruins, desolation, a wasteland
The article next focuses on the previously mentioned pluralisation of "devastations" at Daniel 9:2 in the NWT. The article correctly indicates that the word translated "devastations" is chorbah, and explains that it means that something is in ruins and provides a few examples of its use in the bible, though continues to ignore the fact that Daniel 9:2 actually says that such devastations would be fulfilled (that is, completed) by the end of the 70 years of Babylon's supremacy, which does not require that they were in such a state for the entire period. As a side point, the fact that the word chorbah does not require that either Jerusalem or the surrounding region had to be completely unpopulated is also ignored, however because Daniel is disussing the fulfilment of the devastations at the end of 70 years, this is not actually relevant.
As previously stated, Ezekiel 40:1 and Jeremiah 29:1-10 demonstrate that both the exile and the 70 years were considered by the Jews to have begun prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, which makes the article's explanation impossible, and their discussion of the word "devastations" irrelevant. Specifically, in about 595BC, to quell the false claims of Hananiah that the Jews would be released from Babylon in just two more years (Jeremiah 28:11), Jeremiah wrote from Jerusalem to the exiles in Babylon, advising them that they would not be released until after Babylon's 70 years had ended (Jeremiah 29:10*). This would be meaningless to the exiled Jews if the 70 years had not even begun yet, as is claimed by the Watchtower Society.
*The NWT distorts the application of Jeremiah 29:10 to say 70 years "at Babylon" rather than "for Babylon" as given in most bible translations in agreement with Jeremiah 25:12. However, since it was written before the Society alleges Jerusalem to have been destroyed, their argument for translating the verse differently is redundant.
Therefore, even though some bible translations imply that Jerusalem itself had to be desolate for the entire 70 years, such an interpretation contradicts Ezekiel and Jeremiah, and can therefore be discounted.
The article next discusses the word shamem, and its application at 2 Chronicles 36:20-21. To properly understand this verse, it must be understood what is referred to where it says "to fulfil Jehovah's word by the mouth of Jeremiah". Jeremiah did not prophesy anything at all about sabbaths being fulfilled; he applied the 70 years specifically to Babylon. The part of 2 Chronicles 36:20-21 from "the mouth of Jeremiah" that was fulfilled was "until the royalty of Persia began to reign", which followed the calling to account of Babylon's king (Jeremiah 25:12).
Indeed, the original text allows for the mention to sabbaths to be a paranthetical statement, as demonstrated by using the same words as the NWT: "Furthermore, he carried off those remaining from the sword captive to Babylon, and they came to be servants to him and his sons until the royalty of Persia began to reign to fulfil Jehovah’s word by the mouth of Jeremiah (until the land had paid off its Sabbaths; all the days of lying desolated it kept Sabbath), to fulfil seventy years."
But this isn't just something I've decided on my own. Such a rendering is also agreed by the New International Version, which is dishonestly quoted in the article. The full verse states: "The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah." I have italicized the portion excluded from the article. When it is reinstated, the verse simply states that the land rested, not for 70 years, but from an unspecified starting point until the end of the 70 years prophesied by Jeremiah.
Next, the article quotes Jeremiah 4:27-29 and Jeremiah 9:11, which indicate that for an unspecified period of time, cities in Judah would be uninhabited, however there is no mention at all of 70 years. The quoted verses are dishonestly prefaced with "let's go back to the prophecy of Jeremiah about this 70 year devastation", however neither of those chapters have anything to do with Jeremiah's prophecy regarding 70 years. Jeremiah mentions "seventy years" three times. Twice he uses them in connection with nations being subject to Babylon in chapter 25, and once in chapter 29 where Jeremiah is writing to Jews already exiled in Babylon prior to the destruction of Jerusalem.
Then the article dishonestly "summarizes the whole 70 year period" by switching back to 2 Chronicles chapter 36. It quotes part of 2 Chronicles 36 (erroneously cited as verses 20-23, but actually starting from verse 19) to allege that the destruction of the temple is indicated to be the beginning of the 70 years, ignoring the complete description of what actually happened at Jerusalem over a number of years culminating in its destruction and reducing the supposed explanation to only the destruction of the temple. (Incidentally, the entire 36th chapter of 2 Chronicles does indeed encompass the entire 70 year period, as Necho killed Josiah in 609BC, the same year as Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Assyrian capital at Harran and became a world power.)
Again there are summarizing notes, with the incorrect conclusion that Daniel said "the city of Jerusalem was in chorbah for 70 years", whereas Daniel actually said that Jerusalem's devastations were complete at the end of the 70 years. It is again claimed that the bible indicates the start of the 70 years with Jerusalem's destruction, however Ezekiel 40:1 and Jeremiah 29:1-10 show that to be a fallacy.
Servitude to the King of Babylon for 70 years?
The introductory paragraph mentions that 'some' interpret the 70 years as of 'servitude', and asks the question 'why?', with the dishonest answer of fitting secular chronology. The correct answer is of course that Jeremiah explicitly said that "these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon seventy years" at Jeremiah 25:11.
Again the article mismatches the "calamity" with the 70 years for which "these nations" will "serve" Babylon, with a long-winded quote of Jeremiah chapter 25. Note that verse 11 does not say "and then these will have to serve the king of Babylon seventy years," but simply gives the complete period of Babylon's dominance. Moreover, verse 12 explicitly indicates that Babylon's king would be 'called to account' at the end of 70 years, which irrefutably occurred in 539BC. There was no Neo-Babylonian king after that, and no adverse judgement befell Cyrus in 537.
The article then boldly exclaims again that 607 to 537 is exactly 70 years, still with no explanation why 537 is chosen despite that fact that 1) the 70 years ended in 539 with Babylon being "called to account" (Jeremiah 25:12, Daniel 5:26-31), and 2) it does not fall in Cyrus' first year (Ezra 1:1, 3:1)
Appreciating the full meaning of the servitude
In an attempt to bolster their definition of the 70 years, a claim is made that conquering Jerusalem meant that all of the nations were then subject to Babylon, and that Nebuchadnezzar had become some kind of sovereign in place of God. Apart from this being ridiculous in itself, it is also contradicted by the events of Daniel chapter 4.
607 allows for only 68 years too?
It is then claimed that the servitude to Babylon continued under the rule of Cyrus despite the dramatic events of Daniel chapter 5:26-31 that explicitly indicated the ME'NE (numbering) of Babylon's days, the TE'KEL ('calling to account') of its king. It is then alleged that until 537, Cyrus was also "placing himself equal to the Most High", despite the fact that Cyrus acted as God's servent in capturing Babylon in 539.
Letting the Bible Answer
When was the prophecy of the 70 years made? (Jer 25:1)
Jeremiah's warning of the "calamity" that would shortly come against Jerusalem in 605 is falsely implied to also be the beginning of the 70 years during which nations would serve Babylon.
Has Babylon already conquered the Judah [sic] and the nations and brought them under their servitude? (Jer 25:9)
Babylon became the dominant nation when it conquered Harran, the last capital of the previous world power, Assyria. Even by the Society's reckoning, this occurred prior to Jerusalem's destruction. So the nations were subject to Babylon before the "calamity", and the question is irrelevant.
What two events would begin at the same time? (Jer 25:11)
It is falsely impled that the 70 years must have only begun at the same time as the calamity, though the original text allows for a period that was already in progress.
What does the devastation mean? (Jer 25:10)
The verse is misattributed to Jerusalem only, whereas "them" actually refers to nations, and the verse is not subject to the full 70 years.
What is the cup that every nation will drink? (Jer 25:15) Have they began [sic] drinking it at the time of this prophecy? Who drinks the cup first, and what does it mean for them? Who will drink the cup after Judah? (Jeremiah 25:15-26)
"The cup" that is coming is the calamity, with Jerusalem facing the calamity first. Obviously, all of the nations would have faced the 70 years at the same time, because its end-point is static (verses 11-12), but various nations suffered the calamity starting at different times during the 70 years of Babylon's power (verse 29).
What is the starting point of the 70 years of servitude and the cup drinking?
The 70 years started when Babylon became the dominant power in the region, after the complete fall of the Assyrian world power, with the fall of Harran to Nebuchadnezzar in 609BC.
The cup drinking started for Judah after Jeremiah made the prophecy but still in the year 605 when Nebuchadnezzar first made a siege against Jerusalem, at which time Jehoiakim paid him a tribute (Daniel 1:1, 2 Kings 24:1). He continued to pay that tribute for three years, but then stopped, after which marauder bands were sent, which eventually led up to the siege in 598 (2 Kings 24:1-8). Other nations were made to drink the cup at later times during the period of Babylon's position as world power.
Well, that's enough for part 2. I will be back when time permits to continue with the next instalment.