This might be a good week to start a conversation about Jeremiah 29:10
This is still not a historical story, as I mentioned. This is ex eventu prophecy.
Even the Catholic NABRE Bible, the official US Catholic version (produced by Catholics and Protestants) agrees. On the footnote to Daniel 9:2, we read:
Seventy years: Jeremiah was understood to prophesy a Babylonian captivity of seventy years, a round number signifying the complete passing away of the existing generation (Jer 25:11; 29:10). On this view Jeremiah’s prophecy was seen to be fulfilled in the capture of Babylon by Cyrus and the subsequent return of the Jews to Palestine. However, the author of Daniel, living during the persecution of Antiochus, extends Jeremiah’s number to seventy weeks of years (Dn 9:24), i.e., seven times seventy years, to encompass the period of Seleucid persecution.
This chapter is ex eventu describing the events that lead up to the first Chanukah (the Seleucid/Antiochus era of persecution). Even the majority of Christianity agrees about this with Judaism.
And there were only 55 prophets of Israel, 48 male and 7 female. Daniel is not on the list. While the "prophecies" are true because they deal with real history (and point to a future that Jews in general hope in), it is not a prophetic book. The author of Daniel was not "Daniel."
I believe this writting is originally about the destruction and 70 year curse the king of Assyria put on Babylon. He moved the people out of the city and burned it to the ground. It was to be cured and uninhabited for 70 years. After he died his son with the help of his priest said the curse was only for 11 years. The city then was rebuilt.
Of course, people are free to believe whatever they wish. I can only offer the critical view.
However I do sense that the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses sometimes lingers with many who leave. They feel a need to find an interpretation, a truth or enlightenment that goes beyond the simplicity of a very ancient text that was never written with an intention to be used outside Jewry.
This, IMHO, is the big "trap" of some Christian movements and interpretations, and maybe of much of religion in general: the teaching that there is some secret, some "magic," in texts that mean one thing to the people who wrote them but must be ignored in favor of the "hidden insight" promised to people who will believe anything but the original explanation.
I understand that Christians are attempting to make these texts fit their view, as a collection of texts that point to Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. Because it is difficult to make the texts acquiesce to this through the original intentions, a plethora of differing and conflicting ideas must be offered by people who will argue their view about a text they cannot even read unless it's translated into a language they understand.
While I don't claim that Jesus was just some accident that has no place in God's providence, I can't ignore that if you have to make the Hebrew texts say something the people who wrote them never intended, you have made your own religion a trap.
I don't believe people need religion to fulfill their place in life and the world. Even as a practicing Jew, I think a lot of it can be just plain harmful.
But I also think it doesn't have to be. If you are going to choose the religious path, why can't it be done with critical thinking? If the Jew can do this, can't the Christian, especially if they are claiming to have greater enlightenment and understand the Jewish Scriptures better than the Jewish people do?
People who choose religion sometimes design their own trap. All truth has to come from their religion. They have to be totally right. It's all or. nothing. Again, to me, IMO, that's a trap.
If you really want to be enlightened, why not choose actual enlightenment? There's critical study of Scripture that, believe me, if you just study it will make you far more enlightened than what you were as a JW. True, that magical feeling and high of knowing something only a select group knows won't be there. You probably won't have a lot of definitive answers either. You won't be special by what you know, true. In fact, you will know nothing different than what millions other know or can learn.
But it will be true. It might mean changing your views from a literal interpretation of Scripture to one that shows it is something less than history. But if you are looking for religious truth, isn't honesty about what you're studying and practicing enlightening enough?
If it doesn't stop Jews from worshipping God (and millions of Christians) to know what these texts are really about, why do you need the Bible to be something it isn't? If you need to make the Bible into what it isn't to keep your beliefs intact, then maybe it's not the critical view of Scripture that should be rejected.
You may not need religion, but if you choose to have it, you shouldn't choose a trap. But believe what you wish. I won't stop you.
Hey guys! So here's THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT of Jeremiah 29:10 if this helps.
Because of Israel’s apostasy, the prophet Jeremiah had foretold that the Jews would be delivered as captives to Babylon. In that foreign land they would be confined for seventy years (Jeremiah 25:12; 29:10).
Sure enough, the prophet’s warnings proved accurate. The general period of the Babylonian confinement was seventy years (Daniel 9:2; 2 Chronicles 36:21; Zechariah 1:12; 7:5). But why was a seventy-year captivity decreed? Why not sixty, or eighty? There was a reason for this exact time frame.
The law of Moses had commanded the Israelites to acknowledge every seventh year as a sabbatical year. The ground was to lie at rest (Leviticus 25:1-7).
Apparently, across the centuries Israel had ignored that divinely imposed regulation.
In their pre-captivity history, there seems to be no example of their ever having honored the sabbath-year law.
Thus, according to the testimony of one biblical writer, the seventy years of the Babylonian captivity was assigned “until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths” (2 Chronicles 36:21).
If each of the seventy captivity-years represented a violation of the sabbatical-year requirement (every seventh year), as 2 Chronicles 36:21 appears to suggest, this would indicate that Israel had neglected the divine injunction for approximately 490 years.
The captivity era therefore looked backward upon five centuries of sinful neglect.
At the same time, Daniel’s prophecy telescoped forward to a time—some 490 years into the future—when the “Anointed One” would “make an end of sins” (9:24). Daniel’s prophecy seems to mark a sort of “mid-way” point in the historical scheme of things.
In the first year of Darius, who had been appointed king over the realm of the Chaldeans (c. 538 B.C.), Daniel, reflecting upon the time span suggested by Jeremiah’s prophecies, calculated that the captivity period almost was over (9:1-2).
He thus approached Jehovah in prayer. The prophet confessed his sins, and those of the nation as well. He petitioned Jehovah to turn away His wrath from Jerusalem, and permit the temple to be rebuilt (9:16-17).
The Lord responded to Daniel’s prayer in a message delivered by the angel Gabriel (9:24-27).
The house of God would be rebuilt. A more significant blessing would come, however, in the Person of the Anointed One (Christ), Who is greater than the temple (cf. Matthew 12:6). This prophecy was a delightful message of consolation to the despondent Hebrews in captivity.
According to Jeremiah 25:11, the 70 years were the time the "nations will serve the king of Babylon". A time of servitude as vassal states, not of captivity in a foreign land.
Jeremiah 25:12 shows when the 70 years end. "when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation". Babylon was punished in 539 BC.
Jeremiah 27:7, 8 reiterates this, "All nations will serve him and his son and his grandson until the time for his land comes; then many nations and great kings will subjugate him. If, however, any nation or kingdom will not serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon or bow its neck under his yoke, I will punish that nation."
Jeremiah 27:11 shows that 70 years did not have to be one of captivity: "But if any nation will bow its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, I will let that nation remain in its own land to till it and to live there"
Jeremiah 29 was written to the Exiles who had already been taken captive under Jehoiachin. He tells them to settle down. That is why verse 10 says, “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place."
There would be no hope of return for the first or future waves of Exiles until the 70 Years elapsed first. Jeremiah is not talking about a 70 Years that would start at a future point, but a 70 Years that had already begun.
At this point, Jerusalem was not destroyed, nor did it have to be, provided it remain in servitude to Babylon during the 70 years.
Rather than reading a few verses, the real context comes from reading chapters 25 to 29. Only then does the 70 years have real context.
If my research is on point, after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, the captivity only lasted for 30+ years.
It used to puzzle me to read how the old men cried after the Temple was rebuilt.
I thought, if they were old enough to appreciate the original Temple, and survived a captivity of 70 years, they must be in their 90's or 100's. How in the world did they manage the trek from Babylon to Jerusalem?
Questions, questions, questions ...
It is all about contextual reading.
Something JWs rarely do.
The “topical study” method is really about stringing together phrases from isolated verses in disparate books. These isolated verses are memorized as prooftext. It is not true exegesis.
Really, the Bible will interpret itself, if we keep ourselves out of it.
This might be a good week to start a conversation about Jeremiah.
Was a good friend of mine,
Never understood a single word he said,
But I helped him drink his wine ...