Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I address you, those who are Jehovah's Witnesses, those of you who believe that Scripture should settle all matters. You are reading this, because you, like I was, are wondering if the claims about 607 BC are true or false. Else, you are reading this because you are an apologist, but I've yet to see an apologist that will calmly and rationally give a sound argument.
Let's be honest. If 607 BC is wrong, then 1914 is wrong, and so is the appointment of a Slave in 1918/1919 over all Christ's belongings. That is the crux of the matter. That is why 607 BC is so heavily defending. That is why you are reading this.
Brothers and Sisters, I was 39 years old when I discovered the truth about 607 BC. I would not give up a major belief that I held for over three decades on a whim, a lie, a half truth, or a misrepresentation. Be sure I did the due diligence. All I am asking is that you do the same.
For, what is the Year Text for 2012? "Your Word is Truth".
1 Thessalonians 5:21 says, "Make sure of all things; hold fast to what is fine."
1 John 4:1 says, "Beloved ones, do not believe every inspired expression, but test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God, because many false prophets have gone forth into the world."
Acts 17:11 says, "Now the latter were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so."
If you examine the Scriptures, if you test this teaching, if you make sure of the matter, Jehovah God will NOT be angry with you. On the contrary, you will be doing what he commands. He will view you as noble-minded. Testing the Watchtower Society is not the same as testing God. And if a human institution or teacher proclaims to be God's messenger, we must test them MORE, not LESS. Read Habakkuk 1: Jehovah invites questions, those who are insecure do not.
All articles in defense of Jerusalem being destroyed in 607 BC are presented with a false choice: believe every secular scholar (historians, archeologists) that Jerusalem was destroyed in 587/587 BC OR believe the Bible says that Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 BC. But is this true?
Here are some useful links on the matter:
Here are my notes. I know I've posted these in several places on this site already (including the last link), and I know they are not perfect, but I am open to correction. I invite questions. If I cannot answer your question, there are several experts here that certainly can.
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According to what we've been taught, the 70 years ended in 537 BCE when the Jews returned to Jerusalem--2 years after 539 BCE, when Cyrus overtook Babylon. Therefore, if the 70 years period is for the destruction of Jerusalem and Exile at Babylon:
537 BCE - 70 years = 607 BCE.
Is this true Biblically?
Jeremiah 25:12, says "And it must occur that when seventy years have been fulfilled I shall call to account against the king of Babylon and against that nation,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘their error, even against the land of the Chal·de´ans, and I will make it desolate wastes to time indefinite."
When was the king of Babylon called into account? Daniel 9:26-28 says, "ME´NE, God has numbered [the days of] your kingdom and has finished it. TE´KEL, you have been weighed in the balances and have been found deficient. PE´RES, your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and the Persians."
So the ending point of the 70 years is 539 BCE.
539 BCE - 70 years = 609 BCE
What happened in 609 BCE? "The Babylonians defeat the Assyrian army of Ashur-uballit II and capture Harran. Ashur-uballit, the last Assyrian king, disappears from history." So logically the 70 year period that Jeremiah foretells is the period of Babylon's Dominance of the region and the lands roundabout, from the time Assyria's last stronghold was captured, until Babylon fell to Cyrus.
In the NWT, Jeremiah 29:10 says: “For this is what Jehovah has said, ‘In accord with the fulfilling of seventy years at Babylon I shall turn my attention to YOU people, and I will establish toward YOU my good word in bringing YOU back to this place.’
However, other modern translations, like the ESV, says, “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place."
Professor Ernst Jenni, a Hebrew scholar says, "The rendering in all modern commentaries and translations is “for Babel” (Babel as world power, not city or land); this is clear from the language as well as also from the context. By the “local meaning” a distinction is to be made between where? (in, at) and where to? (local directional “to, towards”). The basic meaning of l is with reference to, and with a following local specification it can be understood as local or local-directional only in certain adverbial expressions (e.g. Num. 11, 10 [Clines DCH IV, 481b] “at the entrance”, cf. Lamed pp. 256, 260, heading 8151)."
Therefore, the Jews did not serve AT Babylon 70 years, they were to be subservient and obedient to Babylon the world power (in essence there Superior Authority at the time) for 70 years.
Daniel 9:1 mentions the "desolations of Jerusalem" during the 70 years. During this time good king Josiah was killed, Egypt installed a puppet king, and then Babylon came and installed a puppet king, and when he rebelled, they installed another. Meanwhile the temple and city was looted. The surrounding land and crops were devastated by both Egyptian and Babylonian armies. There were at least 3 waves of deportation to Babylon. Finally, Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and the temple, after a two and a half year siege, and everyone went into Exile.
What is more, there is no Scriptural evidence that the Jews returned in 537 BC. Ezra 1:1 says,"And in the first year of Cyrus the king of Persia…" And Ezra 3:1 says, "When the seventh month arrived the sons of Israel were in [their] cities. And the people began to gather themselves as one man to Jerusalem."
From Ezra's timeline, a plain reading would indicate that the first regnal year would be Nissan 538 BC, and therefore, they returned by the 7 th month, Tishri 538 BC. Therefore, the return does NOT seem to have been 537 BC…there is no scripture that indicates this.
20 years after the exile, Zechariah and Haggai raised up to stir the people to rebuild the temple which is still in ruins. Haggai was written in 520 BCE and the first wave of Jews had returned 18 years earlier.
Haggai 2:3 says, "‘Who is there among YOU that is remaining over who saw this house in its former glory? And how are YOU people seeing it now? Is it not, in comparison with that, as nothing in YOUR eyes?’"
If the temple were destroyed in 607 BCE, how old would Haggai's audience be that they would remember the temple in its glory days? If the temple was destroyed in 587/586, how old would the audience be? It is more plausible that Haggai is referencing 70-somethings, not 90-somethings.
Zechariah 7:1-5: 'Furthermore, it came about that in the fourth year of Da·ri´us the king the word of Jehovah occurred to Zech·a·ri´ah, on the fourth [day] of the ninth month, [that is,] in Chis´lev. And Beth´el proceeded to send Shar·e´zer and Re´gem-mel´ech and his men to soften the face of Jehovah, saying to the priests who belonged to the house of Jehovah of armies, and to the prophets, even saying: “Shall I weep in the fifth month, practicing an abstinence, the way I have done these O how many years?” And the word of Jehovah of armies continued to occur to me, saying: “Say to all the people of the land and to the priests, ‘When YOU fasted and there was a wailing in the fifth [month] and in the seventh [month], and this for seventy years, did YOU really fast to me, even me?'
The fourth year of Darius is 518 BC.
518 BC - 70 years = 588 BC (which leads us in the middle of Babylon's final two and a half year siege from 589-587 BC.)
This 70 years is therefore not the same as the 70 years of Babylon's Dominance.
Again, to confirm this Zechariah 1.
Verses 7, 8:On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, that is, the month She´bat, in the second year of Da·ri´us, the word of Jehovah occurred to Zech·a·ri´ah the son of Ber·e·chi´ah the son of Id´do the prophet, saying:“I saw [in] the night, and, look! a man riding on a red horse, and he was standing still among the myrtle trees that were in the deep place; and behind him there were horses red, bright red, and white.”
Therefore this is 520 BC.
Verses 11, 12:And they proceeded to answer the angel of Jehovah who was standing among the myrtle trees and to say: “We have walked about in the earth, and, look! the whole earth is sitting still and having no disturbance.” So the angel of Jehovah answered and said: “O Jehovah of armies, how long will you yourself not show mercy to Jerusalem and to the cities of Judah, whom you have denounced these seventy years?”
520 BC - 70 years = 590 BC (the year before Babylon's final two and a half year siege)
In harmony with this, in Against Apion I, 21, Josephus says,"This statement is both correct and in accordance with our books [that is, the Holy Scriptures]. For in the latter it is recorded that Nabochodonosor in the eighteenth year of his reign devastated our temple, that for fifty years it ceased to exist, that in the second year of Cyrus the foundations were laid, and lastly that in the second year of the reign of Darius it was completed."
2 Chronicles 36:20, 21 is often used as a prooftext that there was a 70-year exile. It says, "Furthermore, he carried off those remaining from the sword captive to Babylon, and they came to be servants to him and his sons until the royalty of Persia began to reign; to fulfill Jehovah’s word by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had paid off its sabbaths. All the days of lying desolated it kept sabbath, to fulfill seventy years."
Some read this to indicate that the land had to pay 70 years worth of Sabbaths. However, I feel the text is better interpreted that the land paid off its Sabbaths UNTIL the 70 years were up. During the 70 years, all nations roundabout, including Judah, were to serve Babylon. Unfortunately, Judah kept rebelling. And the subsequent sieges during this time (by Egypt and Babylon, who evidently besieged Jerusalem 3 times) devastated the land. If Zedekiah had not rebelled against Babylon, had he surrendered during the final siege that lasted two and a half years, then the destruction of Jerusalem and the deportation need not have happened. However, Zedekiah did not listen to Jeremiah and all the nation had to serve out the rest of the 70 years in Exile.
Let me illustrate it this way: A substitute teacher oversees a classroom of children and her class is to last 70 minutes. During the 70 minutes, the children are to be respectful and submissive to her. However, for 20 minutes, Johnny keeps misbehaving. Finally, the teacher sends Johnny to the principle's office and sits in time out, until the 70 minutes are completed. Then he is allowed to return.
I believe the mention of Sabbath's has to do with the Jubilee cycle. In the Law, a poor Israelite might go into debt and have to sell his field. Now a wealthier Israelite might purchase that field, but every seventh year was a Sabbath in which the land was given a rest. This cycle of Sabbath years occurred 7 times--for a period of 49 years. The 50th year was the Jubilee year. Hereditary land was returned. Slaves were set free. It was a year of Goodwill.
Similarly, this relates exactly what happened with the Exile. In 587 BC, Judah lost its hereditary possession and went into slavery. Seven Sabbath years transpired--49 years. Then in the Jubilee year, they were set free and their hereditary land was returned to them
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Therefore, we find two competing interpretations of the 70 Years of Jeremiah.
(1) From 607 BC to 537 BC (held to be regarding the Jewish Exile at Babylon)
(2) From 609 BC to 539 BC (held to be regarding Babylon's period of Dominance)
If you are still once the fence between these two interpretations, the question becomes: Which interpretation of the Scriptures does the archeological and historical evidence support?
In his book, The Gentile Times Reconsiders, Brother Carl Olaf Jonson presents 17 lines of evidence that prove Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 BC.
Here are some things for you to research:
(1) Early historians, the Neo-Babylonian chronicles, and the Uruk kinglist
(2) Inscriptions Nabon. No.18 and Nabon. No. 8 (the Hillah stele)
(3) Nabon. H 1, B (the Adad-guppi’ stele)
(4) Economic-administrative and legal documents [numbering in the tens of thousands]
(5) Prosopographical evidence
(6) Chronological interlocking joints
(7) Synchronisms with the contemporary Egyptian chronology
(8) The Astronomical diary VAT 4956
(9) The astronomical diary B.M. 32312
(10) The Saturn tablet B.M. 76738+76813
(11) The lunar eclipse tablet LBAT 1417
(12) The lunar eclipse tablet LBAT 1419
(13) The lunar eclipse tablet LBAT 1420
(14) The lunar eclipse tablet LBAT 1421
(15) LBAT 1415
(16) Lunar eclipse Text no. 5 in Hunger, ADT V.(17) Text no. 52 in Hunger, ADT V.
(18) Planetary tablet, SBTU IV 171
PLEASE consider VAT 4956 if nothing else, which pinpoints Nebuchadnezzar's 37 th year. It forms an astronomical fingerprint that lists of Babylonian planetary and lunar observations that occurred over a year's time and could only describe one year in human history. Once you have that, it is a simple matter of going back to his 18 th year, the year he destroyed Jerusalem.
In regard these astronomical texts: the sky does not lie.
For more discussions regarding the evidence for 587 BC see:
My Christian Love to all of you,