The WTS's start of the "70 years"

by Doug Mason 43 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Doug Mason
    Doug Mason

    It is my understanding that the Scholars of the WTS say that the "70 years" began when the land was "completely depopulated", not when Jerusalem was destroyed.

    If that is the case, they should have jumped from their 537 BCE date back to the removal of inhabitants during Nebuchadnezzar's 23rd year, thus making that 607 (or 606) BCE.

    Did Russell start the 70 years (and hence his 2520 years) with the destruction of Jerusalem or with the depopulation of the land?

    If Russell started the period with Jerusalem's destruction, when did the WTS shift its starting point to the depopulation?

    The WTS Scholars could have dated the depopulation in Nebuchadnezzar’s 23 rd year to 607 BCE when in 1942/1943 they amended Russell's date for Jerusalem's destruction and they moved the Parousia from 1874 to 1914. Doug

  • cabasilas

    Good question, Doug.

    A fine point. The abandonment of 1874 for the Parousia was in the early 30s. See:

    Historical Idealism and Jehovah's Witnesses pp. 36, 37 for some good documentation on this.

  • AnnOMaly

    Did Russell start the 70 years (and hence his 2520 years) with the destruction of Jerusalem or with the depopulation of the land?

    It wasn't 'or.' It was both. It was (and still is) understood that Jerusalem's destruction resulted in the depopulation of the land.

    Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 2, 'The Time is at Hand,' p.52

    Usher dates the seventy years desolation eighteen years earlier than shown above--i.e., before the dethronement of Zedekiah, Judah's last king--because he figured the king of Babylon took many of the people captive at that time.* (2 Chron. 36:9,10,17; 2 Kings 24:8-16) He evidently makes the not uncommon mistake of regarding those seventy years as the period ofcaptivity, whereas the Lord expressly declares them to be seventy years of desolation of the land, that the land should lie "desolate, without an inhabitant." Such was not the case prior to Zedekiah's dethronement. (2 Kings 24:14) But the desolation which followed Zedekiah's overthrow was complete; for, though some of the poor of the land were left to be vine-dressers and husbandmen (2 Kings 25:12), shortly even these--"all people, both small and great"--fled to Egypt for fear of the Chaldees. (Verse 26) There can be no doubt here: and therefore in reckoning the time to the desolation of the land, all periods up to the close of Zedekiah's reign should be counted in, as we have done.

    *Note, however, this partial captivity occurred eleven, not eighteen, years before the dethronement of King Zedekiah.

    ZWT 1898, Dec. 1, p.359-360

    The captivity of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar was in two parts: (1) He carried captive the chief of the warriors and craftsmen, and noble people of the land, about eighteen thousand being specified--Daniel and his companions being of this number. ('2 Kings 24:12-18'.) He left the poor and less capable people in the land, appointing over them as under-king the uncle of Jehoiachin, viz., Zedekiah, whom he compelled to take an oath of allegiance to the Kingdom of Babylon. (2) The second captivity was eleven years later, and was the result of Zedekiah's unfaithfulness to his oath of allegiance, for he attempted to throw off the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar.

    This is one of the points at which chronologists in general blunder. They begin to count the seventy years mentioned by the prophet from the captivity of Jehoiachin, instead of eleven years later, at the captivity of Zedekiah. They very generally fail to notice an important item; viz., that the Lord does not specify through Jeremiah's prophecy, seventy years of captivity, but seventy years of desolation of the land without an inhabitant.-- See chapter on Chronology in MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II.

  • scholar

    Doug Mason

    Post 644

    Celebrated WT scholars have determined that the seventy years began with the depopulation of Judah by October, 607 BCE a few months after the temple and city was destroyed. This is the only possible understanding of matters because the seventy year period was one of desolation, servitude and exile which was exactly how Josephus presented matters in agreement with those pertinent Bible prophecies.

    Higher critics and apostates present a variety of 'fuzzy' beginnings of the seventy years but none of these are credible. Pushing matters forward to the 23 rd year of Neb has no scriptural support for the simple reason that by that time the exiles were either in Babylon or Egypt.

    Whether Russell or his associates began the period at the time of destruction of the temple or when the population were deported is not important because the interval of time between these two events was only a matter of a few months.

    scholar JW

  • inbetween


    its one thing to debate such a topic, even good to consider the pros and cons, however I never undertstand this strange "celebrated JW scholars" thing ...who are they ? why celebrated ? sounds more like a joke to me ...

  • Black Sheep
    Black Sheep
    ... which was exactly how Josephus presented matters in agreement with those pertinent Bible prophecies.

    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. Against Apion, Book 1

  • bohm

    inbetween: my thought exactly. when i hear that expression i get an image of Rutherford pissing his own pants on a drinking binge. There was an old thread where Scholar was quizzed about what scholars he was referring to, and he claimed there was also scholars outside jw who supported the 607 date. After some time he provided a list. Turns out the scholars was mostly old pyramidiologists and all of those with any authority either belonged to jw or splinter religions of jw.

    But who cares, its fun to see scholar get his ass kicked yet again :-).

    Doug: I think its an excelent question, jw chronology relies on not being fleshed out, and having a lot of loose ends (especially with relation to evidence against it) that leaves the believers to guess on rationalization and give them oppertunity to think its themselves that are to stupid for not being able to understand the proof. Look forward to what kind of quotes others can dig up, it would surprice me if the WT did not contradict itself on this topic as well :-).

  • Leolaia

    pseudo-scholar....You never fail to sidestep the issue. It is not a matter of months between Nebuchadnezzar's 18th year when he exiled 832 people from Jerusalem and his 23rd year when his general Nebuzaradan exiled an additional 745 Jews (Jeremiah 52:28-30). That's a matter of at least 4 years. So much for 2 Kings 25:26 (which does not relate anything more from Nebuchadnezzar's reign beyond his 19th year) proving that no Jews lived in the land for seventy years after the destruction of Jerusalem. It is also explicitly stated in Jeremiah 52:16 that in Nebuchadnezzar's 19th year, after Nebuzaradan burned down the Temple, palace and every important building in Jerusalem (v. 12-13), and after the walls around the city were destroyed (v. 14), and after he exiled the people to Babylon (v. 16), he still "left behind the rest of the poorest people of the land to work the vineyards and fields". How long they were left there Jeremiah does not say, but it would have to be from among these people that Nebuzaradan took an additional 745 Jews into exile. So not only was the land still inhabited but it was even being cultivated. Now let me draw your attention to this statement of yours last month:

    "Jeremiah along with other prophets was quite emphatic that Judah would be entirely desolated without an inhabitant for seventy years"

    If you truly mean this, then you cannot continue to support the Society's chronology if you want to not contradict ch. 52 of Jeremiah. That's Doug Mason's point. The Bible unambiguously says that Judah was still inhabited at least until Nebuchadnezzar's 24th year. But dating the release from exile to 537 BC and the destruction of Jerusalem to 607 BC (as Nebuchadnezzar's 18th year) means that there were still Judahites living in the land and if they were working in the fields, it wasn't entirely desolated either. In fact, you also claim that the land would have to lie fallow for seventy years in your interpretation of 2 Chronicles 36:20-21:

    "The seventy years was an exact period of time with a definite beginning and end between two momentous events namely the Fall of Jerusalem and Judah and the exilic return back to Jerusalem and Judah. During this time the land was able to enjoy its sabbaths as foretold."

    But if the kind of people left behind in the land were poor farmers (as stated in 52:16) and if there were still people around to be exiled in Nebuchandezzar's 24th year (as stated in 52:30), then the Watchtower chronology would have the land being cultivated during at least the beginning of the seventy years. If the seventy years is supposed to be, as you say, a period of time when Judah was "without inhabitant" (and ignoring all the archaeological evidence indicating continued occupation), then you would have to start the seventy years after Nebuchadnezzar's 24th year, not his 19th year. So not only is 607 BC not consistent with historical facts, but it is not even consistent with your own concept of the seventy years as a period of time when the land was entirely without inhabitant and desolated.

  • Narkissos

    Fwiw, the WT used to link the start of the 70 years with the murder of Gedaliah in the 7th month and the move of Johanan's groups to Egypt (Jeremiah 41--43; e.g. W 6/1 1972 QFR); Jeremiah 52:30 is explained away as follows in the Insight book (entry Nebuchadnezzar)

    About three years later, in the 23rd year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, more Jews were taken into exile. (Jer 52:30) This exile probably involved Jews who had fled to lands that were later conquered by the Babylonians. Lending support to this conclusion is the statement of the historian Josephus: "In the fifth year after the sacking of Jerusalem, which was the twenty-third year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar marched against Coele-Syria and, after occupying it, made war both on the Moabites and the Ammanites. Then, after making these nations subject to him, he invaded Egypt in order to subdue it."—JewishAntiquities, X, 181, 182 (ix, 7).

  • scholar


    Post 10343

    It is a matter of being faithful to what the inspired record says and not read something that is simply not there. The events of the 23 rd year of Neb's reign have nothing to do with the beginning of the seventy years but simply refers in a 'matter of fact' way something of historical note that Neb did in a particular year. Further, Jeremiah in 52:28-30 simply lists the number of exilees taken not only from Jerusalem but from other surrounding nations showing the devastating effect that Neb's invasion of Judah had upon that nation as prophesied by Jeremiah.

    Jeremiah was quite emphatic that Judah would be depopulated to the extent of being "wihout an inhabitant" and some months after the destruction of Jerusalem, the remaining population fled to Egypt right on time leaving the land desolate at October, 607 BCE. Such grand fulfillment of prophecy proves that Jehovah is a great Timekeeper and Fulfiller of Prophecy and so it was that the land remained deolate for a fixed period of seventy years until the return of the exiles in 537 BCE.

    Scholars have theorized about the deportations and the their census but such theories do not in any way disprove the fact of the seventy years beginning in 607 BCE until 537 BCE. Such scholars have debated long and hard on the conflicting numbers of Jeremiah 52 and 2Kings 24 with no apparent resolution in sight which makes for a very detailed analysis of the military campaigns of Nebuchadnezzer into Judah and the surrounding nations. Such academic studies of this critical period although interesting hide the 'elephant in the room' metaphor whicH is the fulfillment of Jeremiahs' prophecy that Judah, its city and temple would lie desolate for seventy years.

    You need to undertake much more research on this critical period and the military campaigns of Nebuchadnezzer for your hypothesis to have any chance of success and if you require some assistance in this matter then scholar will help you. I suggest that you begin with THE CHRONOLOGY OF THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAH: TWO APPARENT DISCREPANCIES. by Alberto Green in JBL.101/1,1982.pp.57-73.

    scholar JW

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