During the last three to four months, I have spent a great deal of time sinking my teeth into various critical Biblical commentaries and lexicons. Naturally, after beginning to research "the truth about the truth" one of the most commonplace yet controversial arguments revolve around the "Gentile Times" doctrine (i.e. the application of the Seven Times of Daniel 4 from 607 B.C.E. to 1914 A.D.). Since there is no shortage of opinions and arguments about this subject, I find it necessary to define clearly the parameters of each review and subsequent discussion of this book. This thread specifically will deal with section A (the exegesis of Jeremiah 25) and the reckoned chronology from therein (i.e. 609 B.C.E. to 539 B.C.E.). Other related subjects such as Daniel 9:2, the list of Babylonian Kings' regnal years, questionable Watchtower statements/dishonesty, the translation of Jeremiah 29:10, and so forth are not confined within the parameters of our discussion. These will be discussed a future time, in a separate thread, to avoid a conglomeration of several simultaneous arguments which can, in turn, confuse or make it difficult to keep track off the discussion.
Disclaimer: All quotes cited are taken directly from Jonnson Olof, Carl. The Gentile Times Reconsidered: Chronology and Christ's Return. (Commentary Press, Revised and Expanded, 2004)
It is held that these seventy years were a period of complete desolation for Judah and Jerusalem. Although it is predicted in the passage that the land of Judah would be a devastated place, it should be noted that this “devastation” is not equated with, or linked with, the period of the seventy years. All that is clearly and unambiguously stated in the text is that “these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon seventy years”. The phrase “these nations” is a reference back to verse 9, in which it is predicted that Nebuchadnezzar would come against “this land [that is, Judah] and its inhabitants, and also against all these nations round about.” The seventy years, then, should be understood to mean years of servitude for these nations.”Servitude” here should not be taken to mean the same thing as desolation and exile.
An "easy target" fallacy is committed here (i.e. a strawman) since the Watchtower's interpretation of the "70 years" referring to a period of desolation is not based on a superficial reading of the text of Jeremiah 25 alone, but upon a series of intertextual references to the "seventy years" of Jeremiah (i.e. 2 Chronicles 36:21; Daniel 9:2; cf. Insight On The Scriptures, p. 463, Vol. 1).
Thus, the nations that accepted the Babylonian yoke would serve the king of Babylon seventy years. But the nations that refused to serve the Babylonian king would become devastated. The seventy years of servitude foretold by Jeremiah, therefore, did not apply to Judah as a nation, but only to the nations who submitted to the king of Babylon.
The highlighted statements are incorrect for several reasons. Since Jonnson postulates that the 70 years began in 609 B.C.E., the burden of proof requires that he substantiates a tribute of vassalage in that specific year. Bear in mind, that there is difference between a nation's utter defeat and loss of battle and a tribute of vassalage. During this time period, vassalage consisted of a monetary tribute (i.e. taxation) to the dominant nation, a formal agreement of the vassal king to respect and adhere to the wishes of the King as well as to not seek aid from surrounding nations and in some cases, pay tribute to the sacrificial gods of the dominating nation (cf. Isaiah 7:2-6; 8:12; 2 Kings 16:10-16; 2 Kings 33:23-35). Thus, there is no substantiation for the starting point of the 70 years here.
Also when reading Jeremiah 25, Jonnson's proposes a strained exegesis on the text and it's quite obvious that his bolded statements thus have no basis in the text itself.
The chapter begins: "The word that occurred to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Je·hoi′a·kim the son of Jo·si′ah, the king of Judah, that is, the first year of Neb·u·chad·rez′zar the king of Babylon; which Jeremiah the prophet spoke concerning all the people of Judah and concerning all the inhabitants of Jerusalem (i.e. the emphasis here is clearly on the Judeans and their disobedience and the text provides no basis to "exclude" Judah from among "these nations"). “Therefore this is what Jehovah of armies has said, ‘“For the reason that YOU did not obey my words (the emphasis and audience of the message has not changed here) here I am sending and I will take all the families of the north,” is the utterance of Jehovah, “even [sending] to Neb·u·chad·rez′zar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these nations round about (i.e. the preceded warnings apply to Judah and the surrounding nations); and I will devote them to destruction and make them an object of astonishment and something to whistle at and places devastated to time indefinite. (i.e. Judah and the surrounding lands will suffer this fate) 10 And I will destroy out of them the sound of exultation and the sound of rejoicing, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the hand mill and the light of the lamp. 11 And all this land must become a devastated place, (the audience being referred to even at this point obviously still includes the Judeans) an object of astonishment, and these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon seventy years.”’
Later in Jeremiah 25 he continues describing the calamity coming upon "all the nations" (i.e. "these nations) and Judah is specifically mentioned: "And I proceeded to take the cup out of the hand of Jehovah and to make all the nations drink to whom Jehovah had sent me: 18 namely, Jerusalem and the cities of Judah and her kings."
Also a reading of Jeremiah 25:11 in the LXX (which is far older and traditionally regarded as more accurate than the Masoretic text) states:"And all the land shall be a desolation; and they shall serve among the Gentiles seventy years." The LXX equivalent makes it quite obvious that the "servitude" (specifically, the servitude of seventy years) is NOT in reference to vassalage as it would be nonsensical to say: "The nations (they) will serve as vassals among the nations." Hence, it is patently obvious the "seventy years" refer to "THESE NATIONS", "ALL THE NATIONS", etc. which would include Judah and this attenuates his chronology causing two contravening methodologies and it invalidates his interpretation of "servitude" as "vassalage."