Part 6 in the series
This section refers to the website starting from http://www.jehovahsjudgment.co.uk/607/zechariah.html
Zechariah: Did the seventy years continue?
The section starts off by claiming that the secular chronology is unworkable, though no valid proof has yet been provided. It then states that some place the 70 years as running from Jerusalem's destruction in 587 until 20 years after the year in which they claim it was re-inhabited (though their alleged 537 contradicts the bible).
The article's accompanying chart claims to present the secular view of the period as "a comparason [sic] with Biblical chronology", but shows 537BC as the year for the Jew's return despite that being incompatible with the bible and Josephus.
The article again makes the irrelevant claim that Jeremiah's 70 years could not have begun in Jehoiakim's 3 rd year because an exile did not take place in that year, ignoring the fact that captives were taken as part of a tribute paid to Nebuchadnezzar.
Rather than acknowledging that such persons are only describing the different period of 70 years of which Zechariah spoke, rather than that defined by Jeremiah, the article dishonestly claims that such people are contradicting themselves by placing the same period at two different times. It then continues with its persecution complex, claiming that everyone simply want to make JWs look bad rather than trying to point out the facts.
The article quotes Zechariah 1:12 and 7:5, which indicate a period of 70 years that was still current nearly 20 years after Babylon's fall. The article then employs its pejorative use of the word "apostates" again, claiming that 'they' take things out of context.
The article quotes Zechariah 1:15, and correctly indicates that the Jews had not completed the rebuilding of the temple, but ignores the fact that this was the reason for which Jerusalem was still "denounced" (Hebrew za`am, 'to express indignation'). The article also misapplies the significance of the 'nations being at ease'; however the account indicates that during the part of "these seventy years" about which Zechariah was speaking, the nations were no longer under oppressive Babylonian rule.
The article next attempts to use the presence of the expression "how long?" at Zechariah 1:12 to imply that the 70 years must have been a separate period that had ended and a now-undefined period was running, ignoring the true application of the expression. Specifically, almost every question in the bible of the form, "how long?" refers to frustration with the circumstances rather than a request for an actual duration. For example, Amos 8:5 refers to people asking "how long?" until the next new moon or Sabbath, though such a period is of known duration.
The article again connects the end of the denunciation with the rebuilding of the temple, but continues to ignore that this is the focal point of Zechariah's mention of 70 years, which began with the destruction of the temple in 587BC.
The article next quotes Zechariah 7:3, and highlights that 70 years is not mentioned in that verse when referring to the period during which the Jews would "weep in the fifth month" (Jeremiah 52:12), despite the fact that verse 5 indicates that such fasting, which had continued until the present, had only been going for 70 years. The article then illogically claims that the 70 years had ended nearly 20 years prior, invalidating the context of the men's question in an attempt to separate the 70 years from the period of fasting.
The article then repeats its invalid claim that Judea was uninhabited for 70 years (nowhere stated in the bible) to try to reinforce its invalid claim that Zechariah referred to the same period. It then restates its false claim that the Jews returned in 537, contradicting Ezra, Josephus, and their own earlier interpretation for Tyre's 70 years.
The article then restates its false conclusions. It suggests that the period of 70 years of which Zechariah spoke ending in 517 supposedly contradicts the ending of a different period in 539 spoken of by Jeremiah, Daniel, and Ezra. It also ignores the wording and context of Zechariah in making the claim that the context thereof indicates a period of 70 years that had finished nearly 20 years earlier.
The 70 years mentioned at Zechariah 1:12 and 7:5 ended "in the fourth year of Darius", 70 years after 587BC, the established year that Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed. This coincides with the nearing of completion of the temple after the decree by Darius. Sharezer and Regem-melech were then sent to ask if the weeping and fasting (that commemorated the destruction of the temple and the death of governor Gedaliah in the fifth and seventh months, respectively) should stop, because the angel had said that the denunciation would last 70 years.
What about 519 BCE?
The article next presents an irrational straw man argument regarding the unnecessary notion that Babylon was actually destroyed in 519BC. This conjecture is based on the flawed and non-biblical conclusion that the 70 years were the same as the period of being uninhabited.
The article acknowledges that there is "abundant secular evidence" in support of 539, though it denies the strongly interconnected secular evidence that establishes the fall of Jerusalem in 587BC. The claim is made that the evidence for 539BC is accepted because it "does not contradict the scriptures", however it is only their flawed interpretation of the scriptures that is not also compatible with 587BC.
Despite the Society's rejection of many secularly accepted dates before, after, and during the period, the article here makes the childish assertion that if this particular date is wrong, it would necessitate the shifting forward of all other secularly established dates. In view of their 20-year gap in Neo-Babylonian history and their gross disregard secular history, it is evident however that their illusory chronology could easily reduce a later period by a similar amount if it so desired.
The article states its conclusions, with the implication that because it accepts the secularly accepted date of 539, that all of its other dates must be correct. The fact remains that 539 is not the end-point of their 70 years, and their alleged events and time marking the terminus for the period (537BC) contradicts secular history and the bible.
The article then sums up its 'conclusions'. It applies its fictional interpretations of the scriptures to secular history, and from there, concludes that secular history is wrong, under the guise of agreeing with the bible.
- Jerusalem uninhabited and in ruins for 70 years
- The bible does not state anywhere that Jerusalem would be uninhabited for 70 years.
- 70 years of the nations [sic] servitude to Babylon starting with Nebuchadnezzar
- It is valid to refer to Nebuchadnezzar as king in the same manner that Belshazzar was called king when really prince. Additionally, Jeremiah chapter 25 only states that nations would serve "the king of Babylon", not "Nebuchadnezzar".
- Tyre forgotten for 70 years.
- Even according to the Watchtower Society, "Tyre's 70 years" represented the period of Babylon's domination and did not literally refer to the entire period specifically for Tyre.
- Egypt devastated for 40 years.
- The bible does not indicate that such devastation eventuated. It does indicate that Babylon was excessive in its treatment of the Jews, and would be punished for their treatment of them, weakening their deservedness of a reward of subjugation of Egypt. The length of the reign of Pharaoh Amasis, particularly in the Society's protracted model, is not indicative of devastation.
Naturally, a fictitious framework can be made to appear to harmonize with itself. So the article gives itself a glowing endorsement because it can be viewed as consistent with itself, and can simply make the claim that any incompatible points of secular history must be wrong rather than taking an honest approach to resolving what may appear to be contradictions.
The article then reasons that anyone who does not accept 607BC is "extremely biased, rabidly opposed to Jehovah's Witnesses, or just have no regard for the Bible's inspiration to promote any other date," supposedly proven by a link to a not-to-scale timeline.
The article paints itself as being accurate 'month-to-month' implying that it fulfils its requirements at the exact times required. It again ignores the fact that 537BC has no secular support for the return of the Jews and contradicts Josephus and Ezra, and that there is no evidence whatsoever to confirm their reckoning of the beginning of the period.
What the passages "actually" mean
The article next alleges that people who disagree with its model are distorting what the bible says. It then lists some dishonest examples of what it claims are distortions of the bible account.
- When the Bible says Jerusalem and Judah are both devastated for 70 years, it doesn't actually mean 70.
- Incorrect - 70 means 70. Daniel 9:2 states that the end of the 70 years would see the "fulfilling" of Jerusalem's devastations. The original language indicates that the devastation would be complete then, not that it was completely devastated for the entire period. Additionally, the '70 years of nations serving Babylon' at Jeremiah 25:12 means exactly what it says, and does not actually mean 'Jews in exile'.
- When it says 40 years for Egypt, it doesn't actually mean 40.
- Incorrect - 40 means 40. Forty years of desolation of Egypt was a possible eventuality, but the bible gives no indication that it actually transpired.
- When Jeremiah said the land will be devastated, he actually meant it already was.
- Incorrect - Jeremiah did not mean the land was already devastated. Jeremiah indicated that nations would become devastated at a future time when Nebuchadnezzar brought the 'calamity', but that nations had already begun 'serving the king of Babylon'.
- When the Bible said the land would be without an inhabitant, it didn't actually mean without any inhabitants.
- Incorrect - without an inhabitant means without an inhabitant. However, the bible does not state anywhere that the land would be without an inhabitant for 70 years.
- When the Bible says all the princes were in Jerusalem, it didn't actually mean all the princes were there.
- Incorrect - all who were available to be there were there. None of those mentioned as being in Jerusalem were those stated as being in Babylon. If a person states that "someone drank all the milk", it means that someone drank the available milk, not that they drank all milk in existence.
- When the Bible said Daniel was trained for 3 years before seeing the King, it didn't actually mean 3 years before seeing the King.
- Incorrect - 3 years means 3 years. The bible says it was "them", that is "the sons of Israel and of the royal offspring and of the nobles" who saw the king after 3 years of training, not "Daniel". Any of the people could individually have met the king prior to the end of the 3 years.
- When it said Tyre would be forgotten for 70 years until helping rebuild the temple, it didn't actually mean 70.
- Incorrect - 70 years means 70 years. Tyre was considered to be in servitude to Babylon for 70 years as one of "these nations". The bible does not say that Tyre was forgotten until helping to rebuild the temple, but that after the 70 years ended, attention would be turned to Tyre, and then its hire would become something holy.
After the string of flawed comments, the article makes ad hominem attacks against those who disagree with their interpretations (meaninglessly comparing them to Trinitarians), and against secular historians (for relying on "pagan astrologers"). The article then claims that Jehovah's Witnesses "go with the whole Bible record" and then makes a further ad hominem attack regarding the motives of secular historians.
The article then falsely claims that its interpretations are tantamount to "God's view", and that everyone else contradicts the bible.
The article attempts an emotional ploy of understanding the doubtful reader, claiming that the authors also "at one time, believed that 607 BCE was incorrect." Then a statement of mock-humility is made, stating that had previously been "gullible enough to be taken in by" those who recognize the validity of 587BC; actually this is employed as an appeal to the reader's pride, lest they to be "gullible". The paragraph then presents a persecution complex, lying about the motives of those who do not agree with 607BC.
The article then makes reference to an unnamed "very popular book which advocates the 587 BCE date", and makes an ad hominem attack on its author using the pejorative usage of the word "apostate". It is again falsely claimed that 587 is not compatible with the bible.