F. The servitude referred to at Jeremiah 25:11 whereby the nations which fell under the domination of the Babylonian Empire would serve the king of Babylon seventy years included a) vassalage, b) willing exile, and/or c) forced captivity and exile.
Josephus at Ant. 11.1.1 says:
IN the first year of the reign of Cyrus which was the seventieth from the day that our people were removed out of their own land into Babylon, God commiserated the captivity and calamity of these poor people, according as he had foretold to them by Jeremiah the prophet, before the destruction of the city, that after they had served Nebuchadnezzar and his posterity, and after they had undergone that servitude seventy years, he would restore them again to the land of their fathers, and they should build their temple, and enjoy their ancient prosperity.
1. Josephus specifically mentions Jeremiah's prohecy.
2. Josephus specifically mentions "servitude" of a specific people.
3. The specific people in servitude 70 years are the "poor people" who were last "removed out of their own land." Remember after Jerusalem fell the "poor people" and lowly people were left in the land to continue crops. Then they ended up killing Gedaliah the next year and ran down to Egypt. YHWH tried through Jeremiah to get them to return and they refused so God promised he'd send a sword via Nebuchadnezzar to kill them. A few "remaining from the sword" were to return to Judea (Jer. 44:14,28). So it is clear who Josephus is referring to and when. This is the last deportation off the land of those poor left remaining who had ran down to Egypt and now returned.
So we have YOUR interpretation of the prophecy of Jeremiah's 70 years and we have the Jewish historical version of who fulfilled Jeremiah's prohpecy by Josehus.
NEXT STEP PROCESS: Now please note, that if Josephus is interjecting 70 years from the last deportation to the 1st of Cyrus, that there is a 25-26 year discrepancy between Josephus and the Neo-Babylonian Period! Using the current timeline, if year 18 falls in 587 BCE, year 23 falls in 582. 582 to 538 is 44 years. 70 minus 44 is 26. So the NB Period per Josephus is 26 years longer than the current Babylonian records.
So what does this mean? It means that either Josephus or the secular records were revised. Both can't be correct.
NEXT STEP: So what we do next is look at the actual documentation from the Babylonian records to see how credible they may be. When we do we get an early WUPS!! Huh? Right. The Babylonian Chronicle notes itself that it is a "copy" made in year 22 of Darius. End of story. What do we know from this? We know "copy" is synonymous with revision so we presume the Persians revised the Babylonian record. This is not an original record. So the Persians removed 26 years from the NB Period. That wasn't hard to discover.
Having confirmed this, however, we know all the dates being used are likely phony, including 539 BCE.
NEXT STEP: With this much potential confusion, we now abandon the secular timeline entirely as unreliable and try to establish an ABSOLUTE Biblical chronology somehow. The 70-year interval from year 23 to the 1st of Cyrus is RELATIVE chronology. It still doesn't give us the absolute years involved.
The most direct reference is based on Jesus appearing in 29 CE which begins the 70th week of a period beginning in 455 BCE. The context of this prophecy, which is when the "word goes forth to rebuild Jerusalem" is first applicable to the 1st of Cyrus in 455 BCE. We can test this dating against whatever other ABSOLUTE chronology we have in place. When we do it checks out. For example.
1. 1947 begins the 70th jubilee, which also is the 50th jubilee from the return from Babylon. That is, 490 years is 10 jubilees of 49 years each. The final jubilee of 49 years begins in 1947 and ends in 1996. To be the 50th jubilee from the return from Babylon, you need five periods of 490 years each, which is 2450 years.
50 x 49 is 2450.
2450 minus 1996 is 454 + 1 = 455 BCE.
So the Bible's own internal chronology confirms that the return from Babyon occurs in 455 BCE. So we done.
OR, you can use an astronomical text.
2. The KTU 1.78 astrotext dates year 12 of Akhenaten via a solar eclipse occurring in 1375 BCE. At least that is when NASA dates that eclipse last time I checked, not that NASA has the final word on everything. Per the Bible Akhenaten was the pharaoh that ruled immediately after the ten plagues. Thus we can date the Exodus via this astronomical text to 1386 BCE. 1947-1996 is the 69th jubilee from the Exodus, but represents the 70the jubilee period of the entire week of jubilees.
That is a Week is seven days, with each day being 490 years long. Each 490 years is 10 jubilees of 49 years each.
490 x 7 = 3430
49 x 70 = 3430
So in the entire period of 3430 years, from 1435 BCE to 1996 AD, the Exodus is the first jubilee event falling in the 50th year after this week begins, thus 49 years after 1435 BCE.
1435 - 49 is 1386 BCE, the same date for the Exodus and the 1st of Akhenaten confirmed by astronomical text.
So we're on. We can independently establish the timeline back to the Exodus in 1386 BCE, skipping over all the problems and contradictions and discussions about the confusing Babylonian records.
Now here is where JWs are again on the right track. If any astronoimcal texts supporting the current Neo-Babylonian period are "copies" like the Babylonian Chronicle from a later period, particularly later than year 22 of Darius II, then they can't be used to date anything. Any copy is automatically presumed to be a revised text. Anybody can copy astronomical information and then apply a new historical king to the text as the WTS has pointed out, as in the case of the VAT4956, which is wholly dismissible and fraudulent on its face.
Ironically, the WTS has the audacity to introduce the SK400 (Strm. Kambyses 400) as proof of the 537 BCE chronology for the return of the Jews. But the SK400 was "copied" after the VAT4956 and is just as dismissible. So in this case COJ is correct. He notes that it doesn't make sense that the WTS dismisses the VAT4956 because it is a "copy" and they don't dismiss the SK400 which they use for their dating connected with 537 and 607 BCE!!! Bottom line is, if it is a copy from an earlier period there is a 99% chance it is a reveised document with revised dates.
This is problematic because the SK400 and the VAT4956 are the only texts used by R. Newton to confirm the current popular dating of the NB Period, he dismissing as totally fraudulent Ptolemy's canon, which is the other foundation of the NB "absolute dating" via astronomical texts.
The only other critical eclipses dating the NB Period that could be considered "contemporary" all have substitute eclipses in the 455 BCE timeline. Thus.
1. The Nabon 18, dating year 2 of Nabonidus to 454 BCE by a rare eclipse in progress at moonset, occurring in month 6, also occurs in month 6 of year 22 of Nabonidus in 479 BCE per the 455 BCE chronology. So this was just a swap-out.
2. Same with the Assyrian eponym eclipse misdated to 763 BCE. When the NB Period is dated via the Bible the 1st of Nebuchadnezzar occurs in 547 BCE, which is 57 years later than 604 BCE. So going into the Assyrian Period you need a matching eclipse in the month of Simanu close to 57 years later. It occurs in 709 BCE, which is not only the more normally dated month 3, but it is an extremely rare and predictable eclipse, explaining why such as fuss was made over it in the annals in the first place. Another swap-out.
Now note, after the Assyrian Period you get "absolute dating" from 14C (radiocarbon dating) as well. For example, 14C dating of short-lived cereals as the destructive level of Rehov City IV dates that event using new technology between 874 and 867 BCE, with an absolute mid-range date of 95.4% probability (918-923 BCE) of 871 BCE. Using the 763 BCE eclipse to date Shishak's invasio it falls in 925 BCE, so it conflicts with the 14C by just over half a century. But if you correct the Assyrian eponym eclipse to 709 BCE, Shishak's invasion drops down 54 years to 871 BCE, which is right in the middle of that narrow 14C range! So now you have a radiometric confirmation aligning with the 709 BCE eclipse now.
Shishak's invasion, in turn, occurs late in Solomon's reign while Rehoboam was still over the 12 tribes, so if we date that invasion to year 39 of Solomon in 871 BCE, then his 4th year falls in 906 BCE, which means the Exodus 480 years earlier falls specifically, using the 709 BCE eclipse combined with the 14C dating for Shishak in 871 BCE to: 1386 BCE!!!
So I don't mind overcoming some of your discussion points or showing how they fit into my chronology, but this is such a DONE DEAL now. There's no turning back. You can either go with real dating and the Bible or pretend the Persians didn't make any changes to their timeline. It's up to you. But the Bible's timeline is independent now since 1947, especially for the criticial dates involving the restoration, or return from exile or release from bondage that links the Exodus, the return from Babylon and the final return after the Holocaust in 1947 to a very specific chronology involving 70 weeks.