Fancy a mind trick? Here’s 2 for the price of 1; if you only want Watchtower’s trick, skip to the next paragraph. You may need to write this down or use a calculator:
Think of any date in the last 1000 years
Swap the digits around anyway you like to come up with an earlier date
(For example, the year 1432 can be swapper around to the earlier date 1234)
Now subtract the earlier date from your original date (1432 – 1234 = 198)
Now keep adding the individual digits together until you end up with a single digit
For example: add 1 + 9 + 8, and then repeat until you have a single digit [1 to 9]
Now convert the number to a letter of the alphabet (1=A, 2=B, 3=C, and so on)
Think of any Bible book beginning with that letter.
Now take the last letter of that Bible book, and convert back to a number.
Open that Bible book, and turn to that chapter number, where you will be instructed to write down a specific name. (I’ve predicted the name that you will write down, at the end of this article)
OK, now you’ve experienced a mind trick we can move onto Watchtower’s…
In October 2018, Watchtower released a new book commentary on the Bible book of Ezekiel, entitled “Pure Worship”. Chapter 6, "The End Is Now Upon You", and paragraph 13 (under the sub-heading "Look, It Is Coming!"), makes the claim that the 607 BCE date for the destruction of Jerusalem can be calculated from a prophetic enactment recorded in Ezekiel 4:4-6, where Ezekiel is to lie on his on his left side for 390 days and on his right side for 40 days. Each day represented a year.
The Watchtower publication assumes: "The 390 years of Israel’s error evidently began in 997 B.C.E., the year that the 12-tribe kingdom was divided into two parts." As regards the 40 days, rather than following consecutively, the publication offers a further assumption whereby the two time-spans run in parallel: "The 40 years of Judah’s sin likely began in 647 B.C.E". Rather than modestly acknowledge the uncertainty of that viewpoint, the publication proceeds to invoke divine sanction of it’s interpretation, concluding: “Thus, both time periods would end in 607 B.C.E., the exact year in which Jerusalem fell and was destroyed, just as Jehovah had foretold.*”
Any reader who picks up on the use of “evidently”, “likely” and “thus” – instead of verifiable factual references – might be inclined to calm their queries by the presence of an asterisked footnote (*), referring the reader to a 1988 Watchtower publication (revised in 2015) entitled Insight on the Scriptures; vol.1 p.462 “Chronology: From 997 B.C.E. to desolation of Jerusalem”. Anyone curious enough to read that reference will soon encounter the following admission on page 463:
“The chart is not intended to be viewed as an absolute chronology but, rather, as a suggested presentation of the reigns of the two kingdoms.”
Yes, the writers of that “Bible Encyclopedia”, as Watchtower likes to describe it (w89 3/15 p.10), were very well aware of their own existing research into the difficulties of verifying exact dates for that time period using the Bible. In their 1963 Bible research book “All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial” (revised in 1990) it too admits (on page 285, par.7) under the heading “Measuring Events in the Stream of Time”:
“From 607 B.C.E. to 997 B.C.E. The calculation for this period backward from the fall of Jerusalem to the time of the division of the kingdom after Solomon’s death presents many difficulties.”
It would seem, then, that like the simple trick at the beginning of this post, Watchtower is using forced numbers and relying on the reader’s psychological bias. The forced number in this case is 997 BCE. Starting with this forced number, adding 390 years would appear to support Watchtower’s unique claim that Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 BCE. From that date, they then take the reader on further mental gymnastics to arrive at…1914 CE and 1919 CE – dates that have become a vulnerable Jenga block, holding up the organizations claim that it’s Governing Body are God’s only appointed channel to mankind; remove that 1914 block, and the rest come tumbling down. Of course, living in the information age as we do, one only has to invest a few minutes researching Rehoboam – the son of Solomon, whose kingship marked the beginning of the split-kingdom – to realize that 997 is a fictional date invented by Watchtower with absolutely no historical, archaeological, or even Biblical support.
In summary, if the reader of this new book was doing so to be entertained by a mathematical trick, then they might consider it good value. If, on the other hand, the reader was hoping to find scholarly insight into a fascinating Bible book, then they may find themselves disappointed by deceptive use of the words “evidently”, “likely” and “thus”.
Oh, that name that you were instructed to
write down at the beginning? It’s Maʹher-shalʹal-hash-baz – the longest name in
Bible. At least that’s something Watchtower printed correctly…