Gentile Times - When did they end?

by Justin 25 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Justin

    Recently a poster commented that Pastor Russell may have clapped his hands two days too soon because the Gentile Tiems were not supposed to end until October 4/5, 1914. I guess October 4/5 is the date now given (though I haven't seen it in print, being unfamiliar with the newer publications), whereas Russell was satisfied to have passed October 1.

    One would assume that, as the downfall of the Judean kingdom (supposedly in 607 BCE) was the beginning of the Gentile Times, that whenever they ended in 1914 would be the date that would correspond to the overthrow in 607 BCE. (It would, given all the Society's presuppositions, be difficult to come up with an exact date, as the Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar and must be periodically adjusted to keep it in synch with the solar year.) After all, God's words to Zedekiah (the last Judean king) are usually quoted to support the idea that the Gentile Times began when that king lost his crown and the kingdom authority would be held in abeyance until "he comes whose right it is" - understood to be Christ Jesus at the parousia. (Ezek. 27:25-27)

    When was the kingdom overturned? It would appear to be when the Babylonians breached the walls and Zedekiah fled. "And on the ninth day of the fourth month the famine prevailed in the city, and there was no bread for the people of the land. And the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled by night the way of the gate between two walls, which is by the king's garden: (now the Chaldees were against the city round about:) and the king went the way toward the plain." (2 Kings 25:3-4) This happened "on the ninth day of the fourth month." Contextually, this would appear to be the fourth month of Zedekiah's eleventh year (verse 2), but the Society applies the succeeding dates as absolute dates of the Jewish calendar (as the fifth month, the seven month), and the prophet Zechariah also treats these months as absolute dates (not relative to Zedekiah) commemorated by fasts. (Zech. 7:5) So if we oblige, and accept that the fourth month was actually the fourth month of the Hebrew calendar, this would mean that it was Tammuz, and the 9th day of Tammuz in the year 1914 was July 3.

    To obtain some information on the months of the Hebrew calendar, and which Gregorian calendar months they correspond to, see . To obtain the Hebrew calendar months for 1914, go to and follow instructions.

    According to 2 Kings 25:8-9, it was "in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month," that the temple in Jerusalem was burnt. The fifth month is Ab (or Av), and its 7th day was July 30 in 1914. It was, though, the murder of Governor Gedaliah which caused the remaining Jews to flee down into Egypt contrary to Jeremiah's counsel, and this left the land desolate. According to Jeremiah: "Now it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah . . . came unto Gedaliah . . . Then arose Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and the ten men that were with him, and smote Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shapan with the sword, and slew him, whom the king of Babylon had made governor of the land." (Jer. 41:1-2) Notice, this occurred in "the seventh month." Now we are getting warm, for the seventh month is Tishri, and overlaps our September and October. Thus, the Society begins counting the Gentile Times, not from the actual overthrow of the Judean kingdom, but from the flight of the remaining people after Gedaliah's murder so that it corresponds exactly with their idea of the seventy years' desolation!

    Their book, "Babylon the Great Has Fallen!" God's Kingdom Rules (published 1963), contains on pages 684-5 a "Chart of Dates of Babylon the Great". Beside the year 607 B.C. is found the notation, "Fifth month (Ab 7-10), temple razed and Jerusalem destroyed." Then a second notation: "Seventh month, Jews abandon Judah, Seven Gentile Times begin to count". The beginning of the Gentile Times is clearly linked to the second event (abandonment of the land) and not the first (Jerusalem destroyed).

    Page 163 of the same book reads: "By the flight of the faithless, disobedient Jews down to Egypt the land of Judah was left desolate, without human inhabitant and domestic animals. This proved Jehovah's prophecy by Jeremiah true. It occurred toward the middle of the seventh month, Tishri or Ethanim (September-October), which would be near October 1, 607 B.C."

    Page 180 further states: "Thus desolation was accomplished in the seventh lunar month of the year 607 B.C. First then, Jerusalem, as representative of God's kingdom, began to be trodden down and thus the Gentile Times, 'the appointed times of the nations,' began. . . .

    "By count, then, those Gentile Times, those 'appointed times of the nations,' would end 2,520 years from the middle of the seventh lunar month (Tishri) of 607 B.C. So they would end about the middle of the month Tishri (or near October 1), A.D. 1914."

    The Society admits they are using an approximate date - "about the middle of the month Tishri" - but not being satisfied with this they have apparently shifted from October 1 to October 4/5, if this is what is stated in the latest publications. But why? Tishri is a 30-day month. The middle of a 30-day month is the 15th. In 1914, Tishri 15 is October 5th, and in the Jewish reckoning it began the previous evening on October 4th.

    But if they are going to be so exacting, why not pick the date in 1914 that corresponded with the breaching of Jerusalem's walls and the flight of the king - Tammuz 9 or July 3, 1914? Certainly, at that time (whether in 607 BCE or 586 BCE) Jerusalem began to be trampled on by the Gentiles, even as it was trampled later under the Roman occupation. The city did not need to be completely desolated for this to happen. And in 1914, Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated on June 28, and Austria declared war on Serbia on July 28th. So there would have been no need to have to explain why the war began before the Gentile Times ended.

  • stillajwexelder

    Never forget that time is an invention of man

  • XQsThaiPoes

    You are right it is like they are diliberately choosing a date where nothing happend so you can't debate their time line.

    Listen to this newest take on 1914

    August 1 2004 wt

    "According to Bible chronology and fulfilled prophcies, in the year 1914, God's Kingdom was established in the heavens with Jesus Christ as King. At that time the nations of the world had one thought in common. Rather than submitting to the sovereignty of God's newborn kingdom, they were embroiled in a contest of power- the Great War, or World War 1."

    WHat does this mean? According to the watchtower in 1914 the "nations" should have stopped ww1 to notice the birth of this invisible "newborn kingdom". Does anyone see how stupid this is. They never even present proof the kingdom exist.

  • blondie

    Actually, an adjustment was made in 1912 to October 1915.

    Since this question is agitating the minds of a considerable number of the friends, we have presented it here in some detail. We remind the readers, however, that nothing in the Scriptures says definitely that the [R5142 : page 377] trouble upon the Gentiles will be accomplished before the close of the Times of the Gentiles, whether that be October, 1914, or October, 1915. The trouble doubtless will be considerable before the final crash, even though that crash come suddenly, like the casting of a great millstone into the sea. (Rev. 18:21.) The parallel between the Jewish Harvest and the present Harvest would corroborate the thought that the trouble to the full will be accomplished by October, 1915.

  • Justin


    I was just reading that article yesterday! There's a theological library nearby that has the old bound volumes from 1879 through 1919. The problem under consideration seems to have been that, if there is no Year Zero between BC and AD (which turns out to be the case), one year must be added when going from the BC to the AD eras (for example, 2,520 years - 607 BC = 1,913; 1,913 + 1 = 1914). But Russell's date for the fall of Jerusalem was actually 606 BC, so if he added a year (which he didn't) he would arrive at 1915. Eventually the Society adapted, not accepting the 1915 date, but by maintaining 1914 and pushing Jerusalem's destruction back one year to 607 BC. Even Carl Jonsson, in his book on the Gentile Times, did not seem to know much about this except that they had done it! If anyone has further info, please let us know.

    Anyway, I presume that the outbreak of the war convinced Russell that 1914 was correct, even though all his hopes were not realized at that time.

  • JCanon

    Interesting topic as to when the gentile times began. But there is no question when they ended: 1947. That's when the Jews regained control over their homeland again. That's when they ended.

    But I reflected on precisely when did they begin which is vague. The ending is easy, the beginning complex. But I would agree that the year Jerusalem fell was not directly related to this, after all, they were still a vassal nation at the time, unlike now and the 10-tribe kingdom had long previously been conquered, so when does their gentile times begin?

    But there is no problem with the "7 times prophecy" which begins in the 5th month per se and the "end of the gentile times" because there are not related. The "7 times" prophecy is about the physical ruling king's presence, thus it relates to the fall of Jerusalem and the second coming. The second coming occurs 45 years after the gentile times end. So there is no Biblical pressure to coordinate the fall of Jerusalem in the 5th month and the "end of the gentile times" say at the end of November 1947.


  • Justin


    Thanks for your comments. It is an interesting question whether the end of the Gentile Times have anything to do with the Jewish people. Russell expected the rise of a new Jewish Jerusalem and the end of the Gentile Times to reverse what he thought had happened in their beginning. Though the authority would ultimately be in the hands of Jesus Christ, its earthly representation would be through the Ancient Worthies or faithful ones of old who would initially rule their own people without any Gentile interference. Russell believed that Christ had already returned invisibly in 1874 and was enthroned as King in 1878, and the idea that the Kingdom would be born in heaven in 1914 followed by a war in heaven was Rutherford's thought. So when Russell announced in 1914 that the Gentile Times had ended, the he was expecting the rising again of Jerusalem in short order.

  • JosephMalik


    What is it that makes so many believe that the Gentile times has something to do with the seven times of Daniel?s fulfilled prophecy regarding Nebuchadnezzar? Russell?s abuse of this prophecy is simply another example of the errors he was teaching at the time. Just how do you re-open a fulfilled prophecy anyway? And how if you do re-open it do you apply it to someone or something else? It would take an entirely new prophecy that does not exist in scripture to do this.

    If anyone wants to know about the Gentile times they should look in the texts where this expression appears. In other words we should find the answer in Luke where such words appear and Matt and Mark who also discussed such times. The answer to when such times began and end is contained in Luke and the parallel comments found in Matt and Mark. Common sense itself should tell us that such Gentile Times have not yet ended. That much we can see for ourselves.

    By putting the material in Matt, Mark and Luke side by side we can easily see that such Gentile Times began with sin, in the days of Adam and Eve at the beginning or our creation and end with our Lord?s return to this earth. It is that simple. There is no such thing as 2520 days that become years and then count from 607 or some other year and all that. The WT view is pure fiction and they have no truth on this matter. It is during such Gentile times that the wheat and weeds grow and/or the sheep and goats multiply and develop. The Gentile times are rooted in such prophecies by our Lord. They are simpy another way of expressing:

    15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.


  • Kenneson

    Anyone interested in the many dates Russell believed in need only look at the Watch Tower of November 1, 1914. Check out the article "Making Ready for the Reign of Righteousness." Lengthy but worth the while. 1874 was the Lord's Parousia; 1878 was the resurrection of the saints and 1914 the end of the Gentile Times. How long the latter period would last, however, becomes vague, anywhere from one to 25 years. But alas, 1939 came and went and no Millennium.

    Anyone wanting to read the very old Watch Towers can do so at Bible Students Online.

    Click Watchtower on the left. That will take you to the year of issue. Click on 1914 and then find Nov. 1 and click that. And there you are. Scroll down to article.

  • onacruse

    The "Gentile times" ended when Nebuchadnezzar stopped eating grass.

    Anything beyond that, even in the strictest Biblical sense, is sheer and mere extrapolation.

    Or, call it "exegesis" if you like: I'd rather play the nickel-slots at Vegas...better odds.


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