The Watchtower , November 1, 2011, page 22 states:
“The Bible says that the Jewish captives were to be exiled in Babylon ‘until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the LORDspoken by Jeremiah.’
“When were they released? In ‘the first [regnal] year of Cyrus king of Persia.’ (2 Chronicles 36:21, 22, New International Version) Biblical and secular history agree that this exile in Babylon ended after Cyrus conquered Babylon and freed the Jews, who returned to Jerusalem in 537 B.C.E. Since the Bible explicitly says that the exile lasted for 70 years, it must have begun in 607 B.C.E.”
2 Chronicles in the NIV actually states:
“The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah.
“In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing: ”.
So the Bible does not say, as the article falsely asserts, “the Jewish captives were to be exiled in Babylon” . The Bible’s words actually are: “all the time of its desolation it rested ”.
The NIV says that the rest ended when the seventy years ended, but it does not say that the “rest” lasted for seventy years, only that the land’s rest ended at the same time that the seventy years ended.
The seventy years ended when Cyrus dethroned the Babylonian kingdom. The seventy years was a period of servitude by several nations to Babylon, so their servitude ended when Babylon no longer reigned as the region’s super power. The WTS confuses the issue by associating the Seventy Years with the destruction of Jerusalem.
It is impossible for anyone, including the WTS, to show which year the first Jews returned. The article simply makes a bald unsubstantiated assertion that it happened in 537 BCE. They need another article where they prove that date.
The Bible does NOT say the exile lasted for 70 years. Jeremiah, who is the source, very clearly states that the 70 years was a period of servitude by several nations to the region’s super power, without any need for a destruction of any city, including Jerusalem.
Nowhere does the Bible state: “this is the moment that the Seventy Years started”. Nor does the Bible state: “this is the moment that the Seventy Years ended”. The Bible writers were not concerned.
The WTS starts the period with the entry into Egypt by the murderers of Gedaliah, saying that the WTS requires the land to be devoid of inhabitants. However, the WTS does not end the period with the entry of people from Babylon. Instead, it waits until they have returned to their respective towns, settled down, and then walked all the way to Jerusalem, set up an altar and dedicated it.