Just put together some analysis for a related topic...
1904 and Russell taken to task for 606 BCE...calling you brainiacs!
Keep in mind that 606/607 is not the start of the magic calculations for wts but at present 539BC is. WTS points to 539 as a "pivotal year" where wts and historians agree upon. During Russell's time 536 was the start because it was believed that Cyrus conquered Babylon and by adding 70 you ended with 606, today it's believed 539 was the date for Cyrus' conquest and you still end up with 607. Instead the end of 70 years being with Cyrus' victory, it's been reasoned that it was the time Jews entered "Judea" or Jerusalem when the prophesy has been fulfilled to which wts claims has taken place in 537BC from where they derive 607.
Seventy years. Are we wandering too far afield in discussing this or are we keeping our eyes on the ball?
If it is fair game to bring up 70-year desolations, enjoinders or penalty conditions, then I'd say, the plot thickens. ---
It is described here and elsewhere how the“70 year desolation” of Jerusalem was looking for a place to land based on its “prophecy” a priori by Jeremiah.
So if Jeremiah prophesied it, it must have happened, right? And, I presume, if Jeremiah prophesied Babylon’s destruction, it must have happened as well.
In an earlier topic and post “Impact on the receiving end of What the Bible Really Teaches”, I had asked rhetorically:
Is it necessarily a matter of faith that Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Babylon was destroyed by Jehovah as a punishment? Is it also necessary that we come to understand Jehovah as an adjunct to Assyrian culture and politcal philosophy? Is that the sort of consolation and glad tidings from the Gospel that we should seek, that we are as one with the Assyrians? What is this all about?
In investigating all this, one of the fascinating finds I came across was a brief paper by the University of Chicago Assyrianologist D. D. Luckenbill.
The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, Vol. 41, No. 3 (Apr.,1925), pp. 165-173Published by: The University of Chicago:
The Black Stone of Esarhaddon
To quote D. D. Luckenbill:
The seventy years of the Exile have given Old Testament scholars a great deal of difficulty. They are hard to fit into any chronological scheme, and do not go well with a forty-year period suggested by Ezek. 4:6. Perhaps our Esarhaddon text suggests a way out.
I shall quote a few passages from the Old Testament which would seem to indicate that seventy years was a perfectly proper period for an ancient oriental city to lie desolate:
“And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith Jehovah, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it [Babylon] desolate forever” [Jer. 25:12].
“For thus saith Jehovah, After seventy years are accomplished for Babylon, I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place [Jer. 29:10]”. ....
“To fulfil the word of Jehovah by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths: for as long as it lay desolate it kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years [II Chron. 36:21 f.].”
#.. . In the first year of his [Darius']reign I , Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years whereby the word of Jehovah came to Jeremiah the prophet, for the accomplishing of the desolations of Jerusalem, even seventy years [Dan. 9:2].
On that last quote, I spent some time examining the assertion of Dan. 9:1 in another topic. No one seems to know who Darius the Mede was except Thucydides, but he was talking about the monarch who was invading Greece in the 480s BC. In the History of thePeloponnesian War, he identifies the Persians, if not exclusively as Medes 50 times and frets about Greeks becoming “Medized”.
But let it also be noted that in the same passage that Jeremiah predicts a 70 year penalty for Jerusalem, he throws the book at Babylon, to be immediately in effect after return to Jerusalem.
When I was visited and instructed by delegations of Jehovah’s Witnesses at my home, we conducted our studies based on the pamphlet “What the Bible Really Teaches”. As a result of reading this booklet carefully, almost immediately I came to believe that I was being manipulated and deceived.
In the sections discussing the downfall of Babylonian rulers to the Persians, I was led to believe by the text and the selected Bible verses that Jehovah had utterly destroyed Babylon in 538 BC for wicked deeds performed by the reigning king. …
Despite what is depicted in “What the Bible Really Teaches” on pages 23-24, I can find no evidence that Cyrus destroyed Babylon. To the contrary, cuneiform accounts relate that he was warmly received there. Babylonian and Persian records on clay tablets and stone before and after make that quite clear. Alexander liked it enough that he had selected it as his capital and died there in the fourth century. What destruction there was of Babylon was almost exactly 100 years before Nebuchadnezzar brought down Jerusalem. This was the result of an attack by Sennacherib, the same Assyrian monarch who had besieged Jerusalem in Isaiah’s time.
Strangely enough the expected 70 year desolation period for Babylon (not Jerusalem) decreed by Sennacherib was revoked by his son Esarhaddon in a ceremony also recorded in stone, recovered and translated by Assyrianologist Luckenbill and others. The destruction is well recorded and Isaiah’s reference to it in the pamphlet Isaiah 14:22-23 (its flooding) is edited out in “What the Bible Really Teaches” so one can’t spot the connection. It is hard to interpret this omission as anything other than deliberate deception about the events.
D. D. Luckenbill in the above paper, translated the Black Stone of Esarhaddon and its description of the rescinding of the sentence of 70 year desolation. The stone, residing in the British Museum is dated to the accession year of the Assyrian monarch Esarhaddon, son and successor to Sennacherib.
Line (incomplete notation) Line
12 [70 ] sanate mi-nu-ut 12 Seventy years as the period
13 ni-du-ti-su is-tur-ma 13 of its desolation he (Marduk) wrote down ( in the
Book of Fate)
14 ri-mi-nu-u d Marduk 14 But the merciful Marduk
15 sur-ris lib-ba-su i-nu-uh ma 15 in a moment his heart was at rest (appeased)
16 e-lis a-na sap-lis 16 turned it (the book) upside down
17 us-bal-kit 17 and for the eleventh year
18 sanate a-sab-su ik-bi 18 ordered its restoration
The last line of the Black Stone inscription shows the nature of the document:
“The sons of Babylon, who had been brought to servitude, who had been apportioned to the yoke and the fetter, I gathered together and accounted them Babylonians. Their freedom anew I established. The Black Stone contains the city's charter.”
A full translation of the text was to appear in D. D. Luckenbill, Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia (1926–27).
And when Esarhaddon’s remedy of his father’s desolation decree for Babylon is rescinded, it becomes clear that Jeremiah and Ezekiel’s insistence on 70 year desolations is a cultural inheritance from Assyria. Esarhaddon had a high priest read the 70 year desolation decree on Babylon upside down so that it read as an effective sentence of 11 years.
I find abundant evidence in history that Babylon continued as a thriving city for centuries. Greek historians Herodotus and Xenophon record many events there and Persian cuneiform records address events in the city without any significant interruption.
In fact, the only evidence I see of a destruction of Babylon in accordance with prophetic utterances by Isaiah in chapters 13 and 14 was a destruction that included flooding in the year 689 BC. This was undertaken not by the Persians or Medes but Isaiah’s contemporary the Assyrian King Sennacherib. Are the authors of the pamphlet aware of this? I noticed that in quoting Isaiah 14:21-22
“… Never again must they rise to conquer the world and cover the face of the earth with their cities.
I will rise against them declares Yahweh Sabaoth, and deprive Babylon of name, remnant, offspring and posterity, declares Yahweh…”
The pamphlet stops short of quoting Isaiah about how Babylon was turned into a swamp as a result of Jehovah’s wrath.
“I shall turn it into the haunt of hedgehogs, a swamp. I shall sweep it with the broom of destruction, declares Yahweh Sabaoth.”
I had missed the double desolation reference in Jeremiah 25:12 until now. Leaving it at that, I'll let someone else explain how it is absolutely half right.