Yes it does because Josephus was simply making and observation that for a period of fifty years the temple lay in a state of obscurity so this would have had to be in the context of the overall period of desolation of the land, the temple and city of seventy years as Josephus elsewhere clearly attests.
Yes, but it is good to be specific. Cyrus had two kingships; one when he was head over the Persian half of the Medo-Persian empire and then when he became king over Babylon. These 20 years are said in the currently timeline to be from 559-539 BCE. In relation to the 70 and 50 years of desolation, 50 years of desolation would end when Cyrus becomes king over Persia and 70 years ends when Cyrus becomes king over Babylon. So Josephus is being cryptic here in the reference to the 50 years in contrast to his previous statement about the 70 years just 2 paragraphs earlier in the same work.
However, one must read between the lines even more apparently. It turns out this reference to the siege of Tyre for these 13 years beginning year 7 of Nebuchadnezzar is actually a cryptic reference to the chronology of Cyrus' 20 years in relation to the fall of Babylon, where a kingship begins in the 14th year. That is, if during the 20-year rule of Cyrus, Darius the Mede rules for 6 years prior to Cyrus coming to the throne, then he would have begun to rule in the 14th year. The Hirom reference and the reference to 54 years is a clue that Josephus is actually talking about the 54 years from the fall of Jerusalem until when Cyrus becomes king over Persia. It's a complicated reference, but the numbers do not add up which is a clue this is a cryptic reference. Also the mention of Hirom? Hiram was a famous contemporary of Solomon not Cyrus.
Here's his statement followed by how when the siege of Tyre is replaced by the siege of Babylon, and the 7th year of Nebuchadnezzar is replaced by the 7th year of Nabonidus, how the siege ends when Babylon would have been overthrown. Thus this reference would be proof that Josephus knew the precise chronology for these last 20 years but had to suppress this information because of the Persian revisionism, keeping in mind that in his earlier work, Antiquities, he clearly assigned an 18-year rule for Evil-Merodach, but in Against Apion, this suddenly became 2 years. There is no getting around, therefore, that the chronology was being revised and manipulated.
Against Apion 1:21. These accounts agree with the true histories in our books; for in them it is written that Nebuchadnezzar, in the eighteenth year of his reign, laid our temple desolate, and so it lay in that state of obscurity for fifty years; but that in the second year of the reign of Cyrus its foundations were laid, and it was finished again in the second year of Darius... So that the whole interval is fifty-four years besides three months; for in the seventh year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar he began to besiege Tyre, and Cyrus the Persian took the kingdom in the fourteenth year of Hirom. So that the records of the Chaldeans and Tyrians agree with our writings about this temple; and the testimonies here produced are an indisputable and undeniable attestation to the antiquity of our nation. And I suppose that what I have already said may be sufficient to such as are not very contentious.
Below is the last 25 years of the NB Empire showing how the overlay of the references by Josephus when applied to Nabonidus parallels the siege of Jerusalem in relation to the reign of Nabonidus which if counted as 13 years from year 17 would reflect the true, original Biblical chronology. It's speculative but curious, since Josephus contradicts the Bible directly in relation to the temple being completed in the 2nd year of Darius rather than his 6th year. A direct contradiction is usually a reference to an encryption. There are also two other numbers mentioned that relate to when Cyrus first began to rule and when the temple is destroyed. That is, both fifty and fifty-four years are mentioned. There are 54 years from the destruction of the temple until Cyrus began his 20-year rule over Persia, and 50 years of desolation of the land from the last deportation until Cyrus began his 20-year rule over Persia. So the numeric elements are there.
Josephus says it is 54 years and 3 months, but if you actually add up the numbers it is 55 years and 3 months.
"Nabuchodonosor besieged Tyre for thirteen years in the days of Ithobal, their king; after him reigned Baal, ten years; after him were judges appointed, who judged the people: Ecnibalus, the son of Baslacus, two months; Chelbes, the son of Abdeus, ten months; Abbar, the high priest, three months; Mitgonus and Gerastratus, the sons of Abdelemus, were judges six years; after whom Balatorus reigned one year; after his death they sent and fetched Merbalus from Babylon, who reigned four years; after his death they sent for his brother Hirom, who reigned twenty years. Under his reign Cyrus became king of Persia."
13+10+6+1+4+20=54 years. But when you add the 10 months, 2 months and 3 months, you get 1 year and 1 months, making this 55 years and 3 months. Thus you have a reference here for 55 years to contradict the 54 years. Is this an error or an encryption? It is not considered to be an error because Jerusalem did not fall in year 18 of Nebuchadnezzar but year 19. But the Nabonidus Chronicle when compared to the Bible combines what happened in the accession year of Nebuchadnezzar with what happened in his 1st year. This is why you have this 1-year descrepancy for the actual year Jerusalem fell based on the Babylonian records and the Bible. A critical comparison of the Babylonian Chronicle, which only survives partially, notes that the king of Judah, Jehoiachin was deported in year 7 of Nebuchadnezzar. The Bible clearly says he was deported in year 8. Likewise when the reign of Zedekiah begins in year 9 of Nebuchadnezzar, since Jehoiachin was deported on the very last day of year 8, we find his 11th year falling in year 19 of Nebuchadnezzar at the time Jerusalem falls. That is an 8-year difference. 19 minus 11 is 8. Therefore, Zedeiah's rule began in the 9th year of Nebuchadnezzar, which is also an 8-year difference. There is no doubt about this because Ezekiel was deported in year 7. Thus this one-year discrepancy would be referenced by the 55 years. That is, officially it was 54 years from the fall of Jerusalem until the 1st of Cyrus when Jerusalem falls in year 19; the 54 years would be a reference to the actual Biblical chronology, as stated. But the numbers add up to 55 years, which address the statement that Jerusalem falls in year 18, which it does not. That's the revised Babylonian dating that moves everything up one year. So Josephus addresses that one-year descrepancy by noting an error in the 54-year reference with times that actually add up to 55 years.
Again, Josephus is not taken seriously here, otherwise, he contradicts himself in his earlier statement about the 70 years. Besides that, his numbers also don't work out with the actual chronology. If you count 54 years from the 7th year of Nabonidus which falls in 598 BCE you end up with the 20-year rule of Hirom ending in 544 BCE. Cyrus begins his rule in year 14 of Hirom, thus 6 years earlier in 550 BCE. That fits neither the 559 BCE 1st year for Cyrus, nor the 539 BCE first year of Cyrus. So it totally does not work.
Even if you work backwards it doesn't work. That is, if you date the fall of Babylon per the pivotal date of 539 BCE, and begin Cyrus' rule the next year in 538 BCE, 50 years earlier is 588 BCE, year 17 of Nebuchadnezzar. You do get 50 years of desolation if you begin the 50 years from 587 BCE and end it in 537 BCE, though. However, this does not work with the 14th year of Hirom, which is supposed to be 54 or 55 years from the 7th of Nebuchadnezzar, that is 47 or 48 years earlier, which only go back to 585 or 584 BCE, which would be years 20 or 21 of Nebuchadnezzar. Hardly his 7th year.
Again, the cryptic reference is based upon substituting Nabonidus for Nebuchadnezzar, and the 20-year rule of Hirom for the 20-year rule of Cyrus. The 20-year rule of Cyrus begins in the 6th year of Nabonidus, thus he'd become king at Babylon in his 21st year which he counted as year one. But if you begin his rule 1 year later, beginning in the 7th year of Nabonidus then his 1st year over Babylon would fall in his 20th year. So based on a 13-year siege beginning year 7 of Nabonidus, his rule ends up being 19 years when Babylon falls. This occurs in the 14th year of Cyrus, leaving the 6-year rule of Darius the Mede to finish out the remainder of his 20 years, after which he becomes king at Babylon beginning year 1!
Again, this is pure SPECULATION on an OBSERVATION. But because it works out so specifically, we cannot presume that Josephus didn't know precisely that Darius the Mede ruled for six years prior to Cyrus coming to the throne. His reference earlier in Antiquities about an 18-year rule by Evil-Merodach also is specifically accurate to the original chronology. Thus per the Bible we are required to extend the rule of Nebuchadnezzar by 2 years from 43 to 45, and also includes a 6-year rule for Darius the Mede, which is otherwise zero. When you factor in the 18-year rule of Evil-Merodach per Josephus, rather than 2 years, you have added a total of 24 years to the NB Period. You need 2 more years to round out the 26-year descrepancy between the secular history and the Bilbical timeline. 586 to 538 is 48 years. Compared to 529 to 455 which is 74 years. 74 minus 48 is 26.
Other comparisons of Josephus as well gives insight into Jewish history. For instance, his knowledge not only that Xerxes and Artaxerxes were the same king, but that the fable of the Book of Esther was substitute history for Nehemiah. That is, the characters of both Esther and Mordecai were a split character of Nehemiah's history. In Jewish folklore Nehemiah is a eunuch and in love with Artaxerxes. When he asks to return to his homeland, for instance, he is sitting on the king's lap and "batting his eyes" at the king. Jewish folklore makes Nehemiah out to be a flamboyant effeminate, with lots of the usual gay exaggerations our popular culture refers to as a "flaming queen." A later adaptation split the character so that one reflected the infatuation with the king as the beautiful Esther, and the high position of prime minister (cupbearer) was reflected by Mordecai, which was the Babylonian name for Nehemiah. When the Persian history was revised, Nehemiah's history with Artaxerxes would have made him far too old, over 143 years, so this history was suppressed and only his history upon returning from Babylon with Zerubbabel was reflected in the substitute "Esdras" that replaced the oridinal "Esdras" (Ezra/Nehemiah). The story of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the wall continued in Jewish folklore though as a pseudo-historical refrerence, but it was a popular "wive's tale" because of the exaggerated character of Nehemiah who was a eunuch (gay). When Josephus relates this part of the history, he places both Ezra and Nehemiah during the reign of "Xerxes" who he represents as the father of Artaxerxes. He places the story of Esther and Mordecai during the rule of Artaxerxes, thus following the history of Nehemiah and Ezra. This is based on the original version of Esther where she is married to Artaxerxes. But this is not a total contradiction if one knows that Xerxes and Artaxerxes were the same king. Therefore Ezra and Nehemiah did serve under Xerxes, and if Esther and Mordecai are based on Nehemiah under Artaxerxes then that is also true. The accounts become exchangeable and thus repeat different versions of the same history, split up over two different kings who were really the same king.
Bottom line is that Bible scholars, the WTS and others want to keep as much of the secular history in place as they can, so they compromise on the Biblical references, and totally ignore the Jewish historical references, such as in the apocryphal books of Esdras. When they do use Jewish sources like Josephus, they deliberately ignore certain references, such as the last deportation from Egypt as specifically stated by Josephus. So there is a conscious manipulation. In the case of Jerusalem's walls, for instance, Ezra 4:11 clearly says they were "finished" during the time of Smerdis/Bardiya ("Artaxerxes") which means they at least were being built! This is totally ignored in order to make it seem the walls were not rebuilt until the 20th of Artaxerxes, which is not only non-Biblical but ridiculous! Why would the Jews build a brand new temple in the middle of a wide open city without a wall? And how is it that Nehemiah and a handful of people threw up a double wall around Jerualem in just 52 days? The temple took 22 years to build and a wall just 52 days?
Now keep in mind JWs for years review this again and again and nobody notices it doesn't make sense. That's because the WTS makes sure they don't have time to think and if someone raises a question they have plenty of double-talk to get around those questions, or they chastise that person for doubting.
I admire some like scholar and FaithfulJW and even Furuli for supporting the Biblical references, but often even these are not confident enough to go all the way and totally let the Bible's chronology speak for itself. In that regard, Martin Anstey comes out as the true Biblical chronologist. He clearly understood that the 1st of Cyrus per the Bible needs to begin the 70 weeks, in which case the Persian Period plainly and simply is 82 years too long. My research has easily identified those extra years, part of which reflect a 26-year reduction in the NB Period, also easily restored. The VAT4956 confirms the original dating for Nebuchadnezzar for us, fortunately, so the Bible's timeline is now confirmed by a secular astronomical text. So technically there is no contradiction between secular and Biblical, just failure to recognize that the Persians revised their chronology to protect their favorite son, Xerxes who was also going under the name Artaxerxes. The Jews also cooperated with this counterintelligence against the Greeks and continued to cover for the secular timeline even down to the time of Josephus. The Jews finally adjusted their records in the 3rd century AD when they revised the Book of Esther to reflect her married to Xerxes rather than Artaxerxes, allowing her history to occur before that of Ezra and Nehemiah who appear in the canonical works during the time of "Artaxerxes." But this is a dead giveaway the Jews not only knew the original timeline but were supporting the fake timeline for their own political or religious needs long after the fact. Of course, when the new version of Esther came out, it completely contradicts Josephus, who does just the opposite, which is place Ezra and Nehemiah before Esther instead of after. But we can see through all this and understand what is being done, obviously.
The best thing is to TRUST THE SCRIPTURES, which means trust that 455 BCE was the original dating for the 1st of Cyrus. Add 70 years to arrive at the last deportation in 525 BCE, and date the fall of Jerusalem to 529 BCE. That is the strict Biblical chronology of truth. When that is done, then the second coming in 1992 harmonizes with 45 years after the end of the gentile times in 1947, and the "end of gift and sacrifice" in the middle of the 70th week in 1992-1993. Without coming to that conclusion, now supported by the VAT4956 evidence, or the evidence the Persians revised their history and that Xerxes and Artaxerxes were the same king, then you will always have the wrong conclusions.