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 http://www.jewfaq.org/calendar.htm . To obtain the Hebrew calendar months for 1914, go to http://www.hebrewcalendar.net/ 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.