Start of the '7 times' period in Daniel

by Noumenon 14 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Noumenon

    Hi - Would be grateful for any info on what Russell and the early bible students believed as to when the '7 times', 2520 years, prophesy in Daniel 4 started.

    Specifically, did they hold that the supposed 2520 year period started with Jerusalem's destruction in 586/607BCE or Babylon's destruction in 539BCE, and why?

    Much thanks

  • kwintestal

    If you get a chance, read the book "Gentile Times Reconsidered" by Carl Olof Jonsson. It goes into amazing depth and detail.


  • scholar


    Better still, read the excellent article 'APPOINTED TIMES OF THE NATIONS' , pp.132-35 in Insight On The Scriptures, 1988, Volume One published by the Watchtower Society Of New York.


    BA MA Studies in Religion

  • Noumenon

    Thanks Scholar but I'm well versed in the WTBS version of things, having been raised a JW, and Kwin I'm not looking for evidence specifically re 586 v 607.

    I'm specifically seeking information on what Russell believed as to when the period started. To clarify, did Russell believe the 2520 year period started with Babylon's destruction in 539BCE or Jerusalem's destruction earlier (whether 586 or 607 doesn't matter to me)?

  • Narkissos


    I'm no expert on Russellism but I think that the whole idea of 2,520 years ending in 1914 was definitely a Barbour & Russell production ("based" on the Bible patchwork we all know AND the Great Pyramid calculations). And mathematically that HAD to start in 607 BC.

    I guess RR could be of help on this one. You might pm' him (or just type the word "Russell" in the title of your thread )

  • toreador

    All I know is the early bible students/Russel pointed to 1799 and then to 1874 from some calculations they used using the bible and pyramids.

  • VM44

    AlanF had done some excellent (as usual) research on this topic. Some is at this webpage, "Notes On False Prophets, Part I: JW Beliefs About Chronology in the Early Days"

    Here is a relevant selection from that page:

    Most Jehovah's Witnesses understand that the calculations leading to 1914 as the end of "The Gentile Times," and as the year when Christ invisibly established his kingdom in the heavens are unique to the Watchtower Society. On its inside cover, the 1959 book Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose contains these statements:

    1870 Charles Taze Russell begins his study of the Bible with a small group of associates.

    1877 The book "Three Worlds" is published identifying the date 1914 as the end of "Gentile Times."

    The impression given here, as well as in most other Watchtower publications, is that the book Three Worlds (which was written by N. H. Barbour and which Russell only financed) was the first publication to contain this teaching about 1914.

    But this is not true at all. In 1823 John Aquila Brown published an explanation virtually identical to the one ultimately adopted by the Society, except that the 2520 years ran from 604 B.C. to 1917 A.D. He foretold that then "the full glory of the kingdom of Israel shall be perfected," but he did not apply the "Gentile Times" to the 2520 years. He also taught that the 2300 days of Daniel 12 would end in 1844. A form of this teaching was taken up by William Miller and his followers, who predicted the end of the world in 1843-1844, and who started the Second Advent movement.

    After the failure of the expectations for 1844, Miller's movement split into several sects, one of which eventually formed around N. H. Barbour. Barbour redid Brown's calculations and came up with a period from 606 B.C. to 1914 A.D. (actually this was a miscalculation since this period is only 2519 years. The Society used this calculation until 1943, when 606 was changed to 607 in The Truth Shall Make You Free, pages 238-239, using an incorrect and disingenuous explanation.) Barbour first published the 1914 date in his magazine Herald of the Morning in September, 1875.

    In the July 15, 1906 Watch Tower C. T. Russell told how in 1876 Barbour and others convinced him of their 1914 teachings. Russell became assistant editor of Herald of the Morning by July, 1878. This magazine, and later, Russell's Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence, also published the year 1873 as the end of 6000 years of human history and 1874 as the start of Christ's invisible presence. Among Adventist related groups, the invisible presence doctrine actually started as a result of the failure of Barbour's and other's prediction of 1874 for Christ's return, as shown below. The doctrine allowed them to say, like William Miller before, that they had expected the "wrong thing at the right time." This explanation was later adopted by the Society to explain the failure of its 1914 predictions.

    Over at Hearld Magazine's special Bible Sudent's History page, we have:

    E. B. Elliott

    Six thousand years end in 1872 / modified chronology from Henry Fynes Clinton.
    Elliott?s chronology drawn up and modified slightly by Rev. C. Bowen.
    Jubilees end 1874; Gentile Times end 1914.

    Nelson H. Barbour

    Jewish and Gospel Age Parallels and Harvests, 1845 year doubles.
    Published idea of invisible presence in 1874 in his magazine.
    Views concerning the prophetic time periods taught by Pastor Russell originated with Barbour. (1,260, 1,290, 1,335, 2,300 day-for-year time prophecies).
    The dates, 1798-99, 1828, 1846, 1872, 1874, 1878, 1881, 1914. Taught six thousand years ending in 1872 from E. B. Elliott.

    Pastor Charles Taze Russell

    First to combine the ideas of time prophecy, chronology, and the purpose of the return of Christ to bless all mankind. Attributed his understandings to some of those listed above.

    Barbour's (and Russell's) book, "Three Worlds and The Harvest of this World" (1877) gives the gentile times calculation, which is essentially the same as the JWs use now.

    On page 83, the calculation is given:

    The seventy years captivity ended in the first year of Cyrus, which was B . C . 536. They therefore commenced seventy years before, or B . C . 606. Hence, it was in B . C . 606, that God's kingdom ended, the diadem was removed, and all the earth given up to the Gentiles. 2520 years from B . C . 606, will end in A . D . 1914, or forty years from 1874; and this forty years upon which we have now entered is to be such "a time of trouble as never was since there was a nation." And during this forty years, the afterwards the spiritual)," the Jews are to be restored, the Gentile kingdoms broken in pieces "like a potter's vessel," and the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ, and the judgment age introduced.

    It has been researched where and when the WTS added (or rather, subtracted) a 1 to these dates, giving 607 BC, but the essentially idea of tying it to the end of Babylonian capivity (release by Cyrus) is the same.

    The "Three Worlds" book may be downloaded from here:


  • VM44

    Here is the calculation given in the December 1912 issue of Zion's Watchtower. --VM44

    Then, we were content to say, "606 B.C. seems a well authenticated date for the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, and B.C. 536 the date when the seventy years' appointed desolation of the land ceased." Our method adopted in the STUDIES IN THE 360 SCRIPTURES was a simple one. We said: 7 The Bible times of Gentile supremacy and --- Israel's rejection equals 7 times 360, or 2,520 2,520 years. From this we deducted the B.C. 606 date before Christ (B.C.) 606. Thus we ----- found the year A.D. 1914. A.D. 1914

  • scholar


    Your question is answered in the book The Time Is At Hand published by Russell in the Chapter entitled 'Times Of The Gentiles', pp.78-79. Under the section heading The Beginning of Gentile Times, 606 B.C., Russell gives the reasons why the Gentile Times began with the destruction of Jerusalem in 606 later 607 BCE.


    BA MA Studies in Religion

  • Noumenon

    Much thanks for your responses.

    I was asking because I was wondering where John Denton (Armageddon 2033/34 website - now gone it seems) got his theory about the 2520 year period starting at 539BCE, ie, Babylon's destruction at the hands of the Medes and Persians.

    I realise that to say the 7 times has a greater fulfillment that the 7 years of madness of Nebuchadnezzar is an assumption, along with that idea that it is 2520 years, but that aside, it seems a much more contextually/scripturally correct interpretation to have the date 539BCE as the starting point for counting the 2520 years, rather than the date of Jerusalem's destruction. It just seems to make far more interpretative sense that the tree that was chopped was not Jerusalem at all but rather the Babylonian world power, in 539BCE, when a 'holy watcher' in Daniel 4: 23 came down and wrote the 'mene mene tekel parsin' writing on the wall in Belshazzar's court, the very night of Babylon's overthrow. The chapters in Daniel are all about world empires and their domination over the earth, until finally Christ takes world rulership. Jerusalem was never a world rulership.

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