Part 4 in the series
Part 1: http://www.jehovahs-witness.com/12/118445/2082380/post.ashx#2082380
Part 2: http://www.jehovahs-witness.com/12/118507/2083398/post.ashx#2083398
Part 3: http://www.jehovahs-witness.com/12/119298/2100119/post.ashx#2100119
This section refers to the website starting from http://www.jehovahsjudgment.co.uk/607/assyria_defeat_609.html
Did the 70 years begin with Assyria's defeat?
The article next tries to find fault with the actual beginning of the 70 years of Babylon's dominance in the region - Babylon's defeat of the Assyrian empire in 609BC.
It starts off with a flawed argument that all people who disagree with the Watchtower Society must supposedly must all agree with each other, by claiming that "many apostates" contradict their own arguments, whereas in actuality, many recognize that the 70 years began in 609BC, whereas others believe something else.
The article acknowledges that Jeremiah 25:11 does indeed stipulate that the 70 years were a time during which these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon, but then continues with the false claim that the period of servitude must have been the same as the period of desolation, though it obvious that various nations were desolated at various times during Babylon's 70 years of dominance.
The article then quotes Jeremiah 25:1, which indicates that Jeremiah received the prophecy of the coming calamity in 605BC, though Jeremiah does not say that the 70 years of Babylon's dominance had not started, nor that they marked the beginning of the calamity.
It next quotes Jeremiah 25:8-11 in an attempt to correlate the desolation of all these nations round about with the period of 70 years during which nations will have to serve the king of Babylon, and in so doing, attempts to place not just the calamity but also the beginning of the 70 years as a future event. However it simply is not the case that all of those nations were 'devoted to destruction' at the moment that the 70 years begun - even in the Society's interpretation, and there is nothing to indicate that the situation of nations serving Babylon as a world power had not already begun.
Next, the article attempts to dismiss that Nebuchadnezzar could have been recognized as a King before he officially ascended to the throne. However, the Society uses the same reasoning in defending Daniel's later references to Belshazzar as king relative to Nabonidus when he was really prince at the time, in the same manner as Nebuchadnezzar relative to Nabopolassar. Additionally, while the prophecy indicated that Nebuchadnezzar would be sent against the nations for the calamity, it is only the (unnamed) "king of Babylon" who would be served for seventy years.
The article then cites Jeremiah chapter 28 to suggest that the 70 years had not yet begun during the 4th year of Zedekiah. To accomplish this, it ignores the context. In reality, Jeremiah was refuting a false prophecy of Hananiah to reiterate that Babylon would be dominant for a full 70 years rather than being deposed "within two full years" as Hananiah had claimed. Further, it should be noted that Jeremiah did not indicate that there would only be a yoke at a future time, and that there was not already a yoke present, but rather that a heavier yoke would be put in place (Jeremiah 28:10-14). Significantly, verse 11 explicitly states that the Jews were already under "the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon" in the 4th year of Zedekiah. The article here demonstrates its dishonesty and complete lack of candor. Indeed, Jeremiah 28:11 all on its own completely disproves the Society's model.
Who's your daddy?
The article then attempts to discredit the facts by claiming that Nebuchadnezzar's father should be mentioned as one of the kings that the nations would serve during the 70 years at Jeremiah 27:7. However, during the late years of Nabopolassar's life, Nebuchadnezzar was the foremost of the two for practical purposes, and there is no more need to refer to his father as king as there was for Daniel to refer to Nabonidus - who is also not mentioned at all in the bible - as king rather than Belshazzar. Additionally, the verse only indicates three kings, whereas there were actually 6 Babylonian kings between Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar (inclusive), plus additional unknown kings to fill the 20-year gap in the Society's spurious model. So insisting that Jeremiah 27:7 should mention Nebuchadnezzar's father is doubly redundant.
Is 609 even right?
In a last desperate attempt to invalidate 609 as the beginning of the 70 years, the article claims that Assyria's defeat was actually in 612BC. However, while Nineveh was destroyed in that year, the Assyrian empire was not, and its capital city was moved to Harran. The Assyrian empire came to a complete end in 609BC, and it was at that time that Babylon was indisputably recognized as the current world power.
Of note, the article admits that the "nations had already been under Babylonian domination for some years" in 609BC (though they had not yet completely removed the Assyrian world power); they therefore contradict themselves by insisting (incorrectly) that the 70 years of 'nations serving Babylon' must actually have begun in 612BC.
The section then restates its flawed conclusions. It again ignores the fact that Jeremiah indicated a heavier Babylonian yoke than the Babylonian yoke they were already under. It then claims without any valid argumentation that 609BC for the beginning of the 70 years contradicts the bible, and then claims that the period ended in 537 - which contradicts Jeremiah 25:12 and Daniel 5:26-31.
It claims that the 70 years were foretold after the year 609, whereas it was the calamity that was foretold in 605, and Jeremiah simply made mention of the fact that Babylon's total period of dominance in the region (claimed in the article to have been in 612BC) would be 70 years.
Is Daniel too old under 607-based chronology?
The article next approaches one of the less significant problems with its 607 doctrine, that being that Daniel would have been very old by the time of Cyrus. In so doing, it attempts to make the issue more confusing than it really is, by shifting focus to what they allege to be a discrepancy in the interpretation that agrees with the plain reading of Daniel 1:1.
The article quotes parts of Daniel 1:1,3-5, which indicate that the captives taken as part of the tribute paid by Jehoiakim in 605 would receive three years of training in Babylon. It then attempts to complicate matters by making it seem as though this is incompatible with Daniel interpreting a dream for Nebuchadnezzar before the end of that period.
The article repeats its spurious claim that when Daniel referred to Jehoiakim's third year, he actually meant his 3rd year of vassalage to Nebuchadnezzar. Not only is there no basis for this in the original text, but it also contradicts the Society's interpretation of 2 Kings 24:1, which states that 3 years had already passed, which would mean that Jehoiakim was in his fourth year of supposed vassalage. Moreover, Nebuchadnezzar didn't appoint the already-ruling Jehoiakim as a vassal king, but merely demanded that a yearly tribute be paid.
The claim made in the article ignores the fact that Jeremiah 25:1 correlates the beginning of Nebuchadnezzar's reign with Jehoiakim's 4th year (counting accession year) in agreement with Daniel 1:1 (not counting accession year), and that 2 Kings 24:1 confirms that Nebuchadnezzar came up against Jerusalem at some point prior to the siege in 598, during which Jehoiakim paid tribute.
The article claims that Daniel was considered to be "one of the children" until the end of the 3-year training, and not old enough to receive a position of authority. However, the original-language word used for "children" in verses 6 and 17 do not refer to only a small child but can also refer to a teenager or young man. Once assigned a position in the kings court - possibly in his late teens - it would be completely valid to refer to him as an "able-bodied man". Moreover, the account states that Daniel was assigned a position because he demonstrated wisdom in interpreting the dream.
Significantly, the article suggests that by the time of the the events of Daniel chapter 2, Daniel had already become known as a "well-known" wiseman. However, when the word was sent out to kill all of the wise men (Daniel 2:13), Daniel was not one of the foremost wise men, and it was people other than Nebuchadnezzar who went looking for Daniel, which is consistent with Daniel 1:17, as those involved in instructing Daniel would have been aware of his wisdom, though he had not yet met Nebuchadnezzar.
The article then states that Daniel was taken in the exile of Nebuchadnezzar's 7th year (again without recognizing the use of the accession-year system), and fails to recognize that an earlier exile was not necessary for Daniel and others to have been given as part of the tribute previously paid by Jehoiakim.
Despite ignoring the logical order of events of the first two chapters, the interpretation suggested in the article only makes Daniel about 5 years younger by the time of Darius than otherwise conjected, and does not significantly deal with the issue of Daniel's advanced age by that time.
Something doesn't add up
As if it had already provided some "proof", the article next claims that it has more proof.
The article contends that Daniel's first meeting with Nebuchadnezzar was 3 years after training, and that events of chapter 2 had to have come later. However, such a view does not agree with the bible. If the events of Daniel 1:20 truly predated chapter 2, Nebuchadnezzar would already have known that Daniel was "ten times better" than all of the other wise men, so by the time of the events of Daniel 2:2, Daniel would have been the foremost person that Nebuchadnezzar would have called to interpret his dream. However the account in chapter 2 does not suggest that Nebuchadnezzar even knew Daniel at all at the time.
The article insists that Daniel had to have finished the 3 years of training before meeting Nebuchadnezzar for the first time, however Daniel chapter 1 states that it is not only Daniel who was brought in at the end of the training, but all those who were sent for training (Daniel 1:3-5). Verses 18-19 say nothing to suggest that Nebuchadnezzar was not already familiar with Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach or Abednego, nor that they did not have official positions by then; it is only stated that none of the others were found to be as wise as them, and that Nebuchadnezzar further learned that Daniel was not only better, but ten times better than the other wise men.
The article claims that the bible narrative does not allow for Daniel chapter 2 to be discussing the first time that he became known to Nebuchadnezzar. (Of course the exact opposite is true, as it is clear from the account that Nebuchadnezzar did not yet know Daniel at all before he interpreted the dream, let alone that he was "ten times wiser" than all the other wise men.)
The article then misdirects the focus of Daniel 1:18-20, by ignoring the fact that it was not just Daniel, but "them", that is 'all of the trainees', of whom none were found to be like Daniel and his three companions. Notably, verse 19 indicates that those 4 continued to stand before the king, suggesting that they were already serving there in some capacity.
The article again restates its flawed conclusions. It is claimed that it is "abundantly clear" that references to Nebuchadnezzar's 'kingship' were relative to the Jews. Specifically, it is meaningless to suggest that Babylon's 70 years of domination of the surrounding nations began when (and because) Jerusalem was captured, as those nations were not viewed as subject to Jerusalem's king prior to Babylonian rule.
It states that Daniel completed his 3 years of training before seeing the king, whereas any number of individuals may have met the king during the training, but all of the trainees were brought in at the end of the 3 years. Most significantly, Daniel wasn't known to Nebuchadnezzar at the beginning of chapter 2, he was known to him at the end of chapter 2, and the end of chapter 1 does not indicate that he was unknown to Nebuchadnezzar prior to the end of the training period.