First Letter To The Governing Body Of Jehovah's Witnesses

My original letter to the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses

Dear Brothers

My name is XXXXX and I attend the XXXXX congregation in the UK. I have been a faithful witness for the last 17 years. I really need you help in explaining something to me. I ask this with the utmost respect as I do not doubt you but I need answers to questions that I can not put answers to myself. I have looked at a lot of information in the past few months and there are quite a few things that do not seem to make sense. At the moment, my faith is shipwrecked and I can not stress to you how much your reply to me will mean.

About 8 months ago, a family member asked me to prove to him that Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 BCE. I thought that this would not be a problem so I set out to do this. The truth is brothers, that I have found it impossible to prove this date and what is more, the date that comes up time and again as the confirmed date for the destruction is 587 BCE. I have done countless research to try and justify the 607 date and I can not find a thing.

After doing a lot of historical research, I wanted to know if you were aware of these so I looked on my WTCD and found the appendix to chapter 14 which is set out below. I would like to go through this and point something's out that I need answers to. I have already had discussions with my local Elders and they were unable to answer my questions. I have told them that I am writing this letter.

I would like to make it clear from the outset that I am not being argumentative and disrespectful. If my style of writing makes it seem that way then please accept my humble apologies as I value your comments.

I have copied out the Appendix in Italics and will insert my questions and comments as appropriate:

*** kc 186-9 Appendix to Chapter 14 *** Historians hold that Babylon fell to Cyrus' army in October 539 B.C.E. Nabonidus was then king, but his son Belshazzar was coruler of Babylon. Some scholars have worked out a list of the Neo-Babylonian kings and the length of their reigns, from the last year of Nabonidus back to Nebuchadnezzar's father Nabopolassar. According to that Neo-Babylonian chronology, Crown-prince Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Egyptians at the battle of Carchemish in 605 B.C.E. (Jeremiah 46:1, 2) After Nabopolassar died Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon to assume the throne. His first regnal year began the following spring (604 B.C.E.).

The Bible reports that the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem in his 18th regnal year (19th when accession year is included). (Jeremiah 52:5, 12, 13, 29) Thus if one accepted the above Neo-Babylonian chronology, the desolation of Jerusalem would have been in the year 587/6 B.C.E. But on what is this secular chronology based and how does it compare with the chronology of the Bible? Some major lines of evidence for this secular chronology are: Ptolemy's Canon: Claudius Ptolemy was a Greek astronomer who lived in the second century C.E. His Canon, or list of kings, was connected with a work on astronomy that he produced. Most modern historians accept Ptolemy's information about the Neo-Babylonian kings and the length of their reigns (though Ptolemy does omit the reign of Labashi-Marduk). Evidently Ptolemy based his historical information on sources dating from the Seleucid period, which began more than 250 years after Cyrus captured Babylon.

There are no dates in the Bible. We need secular history to work out where everything happened in time. One of the things that we do have are the above king lists. However, if the 607 BCE date is correct, the Kings lists are out by 20 years.

We use the Royal cannon in our proving that 539 BCE was the first year of Cyrus. Why then do we reject it when it shows that Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem in 587 BCE in his eighteenth year? The Cannon was in use centuries before Ptolemy and historians state that it is based on Babylonian, not selucid sources, due to certain expressions and characteristics in it. The Cannon omits Labashi-Marduks reign (which is only a few months and which fell in the last year of Neriglissar ) as it deals only with whole years. The Royal Cannon could therefore leave him out.

The Uruk King list has also been uncovered in 1959-60. It states the regnal periods of the Babylonian Kings from Kandalanu to Nabonidus. These also agree with the Royal Cannon and Borossus.

We also have more cuneiform documents from the neo Babylonian period than any other pre Christian era. Literally tens of thousands have been found. The lengths of the kings can be established via these and these agree with the Royal Cannon and Borossus.

Nabonidus Harran Stele (NABON H 1, B): This contemporary stele, or pillar with an inscription, was discovered in 1956. It mentions the reigns of the Neo-Babylonian kings Nebuchadnezzar, Evil-Merodach, Neriglissar. The figures given for these three agree with those from Ptolemy's Canon.

There is also a lot more cuneiform evidence to show the Kings regnal years than just the above. These all back up the Royal cannon and I can send you details of these if you require. They are all written in the Neo Babylonian era. The one that sticks in my mind is the Nabon no.24 also known as the Adad-guppi inscription. Adad-guppi was a colorful character. She was the mother of Nabonidus and lived until she was 104. The inscription is an account of her life and the kings that she had lived under. It then lists the kings and their reigns. All the reigns are in complete accordance with the above quoted king lists. And what is more important is, that this is dated from the Neo Babylonian period itself and is not a copy.

VAT 4956: This is a cuneiform tablet that provides astronomical information datable to 568 B.C.E. It says that the observations were from Nebuchadnezzar's 37th year. This would correspond to the chronology that places his 18th regnal year in 587/6 B.C.E. However, this tablet is admittedly a copy made in the third century B.C.E. so it is possible that its historical information is simply that which was accepted in the Seleucid period.

I do not know if you are aware but VAT 4956 is not the only cuneiform astronomical tablet that historians use to date the Babylonian king's reigns. The astronomical tablets are reliable as their observances can not be duplicated for some time, sometimes even thousands of years .VAT 4956 is a copy as you have stated. We know this because the original is broken off in two places and the scribe has inserted the words "broken off". The tablet has 30 astronomical observances that are so accurately described that modern astronomers have no trouble dating it to 568 BCE, which the tablet in two places states is Nebuchadnezzars 37th year. The observances are of the moon and the five then known planets. Modern astronomers point out that such combinations of astronomical positions would not be duplicated again in thousands of years. There is no way that the observances can have been made 20 years earlier. But this is not the only tablet evidence that historians use to date the period. Below is a quick resume of the others that hopefully you were not aware of and that is the reason why they were not put in the Appendix:

There is BM 32312, which can be dated to 651BCE due to the observances on it. This is the oldest preserved astronomical diary. The king, his regnal year and month names are broken away. The tablet talks of a battle between Assyria and Babylon, where Babylon is heavily defeated. However we can date this tablet as another tablet BM 86379 (The Akitu Chronicle) talks of the battle in Shamash-shuma-ukin's 16th year which interestingly states that the Babylonian King was defeated. Shamahshumakins's reign of 20 years may then be dated to 667/66-648/47 BCE. This is in good agreement with the above king lists .A change of Nebuchadnezzars 18th year from 587 to 607 BCE would also change Shamushshumukins 16th year from 652 to 672 BCE which BM 32312 does not allow.

The Saturn Tablet (BM 76738 and BM 76813) gives observances for 14 successive years of the planet Saturn corresponding to the first fourteen years of king Kandalanu, so we can date this exactly. Mr. Chris Walker who is an assistant curator in the British Museum, sent me some information on the text which explains:

" A complete cycle of Saturn's phenomena in relation to the stars takes 59 years. But when that cycle has to be fitted to the lunar calendar of 29 or 30 days then identical cycles recur at intervals of rather more than 17 centuries. Thus there is no difficulty in determing the date of the present text."

Therefore the absolute chronology of Kandalanus reign is definitely fixed by the Saturn tablet because the pattern of positions described in the text is fixed to specific dates in the Babylonian lunar calendar, that are not repeated again in more than 17 centuries.

We also have the "saros cycle texts" (LBAT 1417 - 1421) They record the lunar eclipses in the Babylonian area at the time. The texts were compiled during the Selucid era (312-64 BCE). The evidence is that the eclipse records were extracted from astronomical diaries by Babylonian astronomers who had access to a large number of diaries from earlier centuries. Prof. A.J Sachs in F.R Hodsons book "THE PLACE OF ASTRONOMY IN THE ANCIENT WORLD" states "It is all but certain that these eclipse records could have been extracted only from the astronomical diaries."

LBAT 1417 records four lunar eclipses at 18 year and nearly 11 days intervals from 686 to 632 BCE. It seems to be part of the same tablet as the previous two texts in the series, LBAT 1415 and 1416.The first entry records an eclipse from Sennacheribs third year of reign in Babylonia which may be identified with the eclipse that took place on April 22 668 BCE. Unfortunately the year number is only partly legible. However the next entry states an eclipse to the second month in Shamushshumukins accession year. This equates to April/May in 668 BCE. Babylonian astronomers had worked out that this would be an eclipse that would not be observable to Babylon. Modern eclipse catalogues show that such an eclipse took place on May 2, 668 BCE. The length and time of the eclipse are in good agreement with the text. If we have to add 20 years to Shamushshumukins reign to fit in with our chronology, this will give us an accession date for Shamashashumkin of 688 BCE. However no unobservable eclipses occurred in April or May of that year. One did occur on June 10 668 BCE, but this one was observable to Babylon. It is therefore an impossible alternative.

The next entry in the text is dated to Shamushshumukins 18th year that is 650/649 BCE. This eclipse too was a computed one, which would begin before sunset. According to modern calculations this eclipse took place on May 13 650 BCE between 16.25 P.M. and 18.19 P.M. Again if we place this eclipse 20 years earlier no eclipses took place in April or May that year. .One eclipse did take place on June 22 but this began at 7.30 am.

The next and last entry is dated to the 16th year of Kandalanu (632 BCE) and to the fifth month, which would correspond to May or June. This partial eclipse also took place the time it should have on May 23, 632 BCE . If we add 20 years to make Kandalanus 16th year 652 BCE, we do find an eclipse taking place on July 2nd that year, but it was a full eclipse and not partial as stated.

So we see that the LBAT 1417 tablet backs up the regnal years of Shamashshumukin and Kandalanu and do not allow for 20 years to be inserted.

LBAT 1419 records an uninterrupted series of Lunar eclipses at 18 year intervals from 609/08 to 447/46 BCE. The first entries that are recorded are damaged. However the two following entries are clearly dated to the 14th and 32nd year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. His 14th and 32nd years are dated to 591/90 and 573/72 BCE respectively. The two eclipses recorded, one saros apart, both took place in the sixth month in August or September. Both eclipses were calculated in advance and the Babylonians knew that none of them would be observable in Babylonia because they both occurred in the daytime. According to modern calculations both eclipses took place as predicted and fit in very well with the chronology established for Nebuchadnezzar. However if we were to look for the two eclipses twenty years earlier, no eclipses occurred in that year that fit the description of the text.

The next entry records an eclipse that is quite detailed:

"Month VII, the 13th, in 17 degrees on the east side all (of the moon) was covered,28 degrees maximal phase In 20 degrees it cleared from the east to north? Its eclipse was red. Behind the rump of Aries, it was eclipsed. During onset, the north wind blew, during clearing, the west wind. At 55 degrees before sunrise.
Unfortunately the king and royal year are missing. But this eclipse took place on Oct 6/7 555 BCE in the first year of Nabonidus. Although the year and name is missing, it is of the uppermost importance to notice that the text places the eclipse one saros cycle after the eclipse in the 32nd year of Nebuchadnezzar.

LBAT 1420 contains annual eclipses. All are from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, from his first to his twenty ninth years. The first record, that records two eclipses that were not observable, is damaged and the year number is illegible. However the last part of Nebuchadnezzar name is preserved. The name of the king is not repeated which means that the king is the same during the whole period. Some of the records are damaged but the ones that are legible are in good agreement with the king lists. This record carries detail of twenty four eclipses of which 12 have the regnal year preserved. . Again these eclipses took place according to modern calculations and if we were to add twenty years to the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, the eclipses would not be correct.

LBAT 1421 records two eclipses observable in Babylon in the sixth and twelfth month of year 42, evidently of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. Provided that these eclipses occurred in the 42nd year of Nebuchadnezzar and there was no other king that ruled as long as him, we should find the eclipses as recorded. Modern calculations state that they did happen.

Business tablets: Thousands of contemporary Neo-Babylonian cuneiform tablets have been found that record simple business transactions, stating the year of the Babylonian king when the transaction occurred. Tablets of this sort have been found for all the years of reign for the known Neo-Babylonian kings in the accepted chronology of the period.

I again spoke to Mr. Walker. I asked him how complete the Cuneiform tablets are for the Babylonian Era. He said that he could give me quite a few texts FOR EVERY YEAR of the Babylonian kings. Some of these are exact to the day and month! He said there is no record of the 20 years that we need to prove 607 BCE. There is also other evidence that we can use to date the king's reigns and to match it up to the king lists. Some 2500 business tablets were found in 1875/76 that tells us a lot about the "Egebi" Business house, which was the "Rothschild" of Babylon. This information is so detailed that we can work out who was head of the business house and what kings they reigned under. These are also in good agreement with the above king lists.

There are also texts that interlock the various kings, therefore not allowing for an unknown king. There are also tablets detailing the careers of scribes, temple administrators, slaves, business men and others that may be followed for decades. But never do these careers cross the established chronological borders into some unknown 20-year period. The insertion of 20 years would not only distort the understanding of the careers, activities and family relations of the individuals but would also give them abnormal life spans.

There is also something else that you do not mention in the appendix that I feel you should be aware of. Egyptian Chronology is an independent issue on its own and there are 4 accounts in Babylonian history (1 Cuneiform, 3 in the Bible) where direct reference is made to the Egyptian Kings. How ever this seems to back up the 587 theory. For example, the Bible tells us that King Josiah died at Meggido in the reign of Pharaoh Necho. In our chronology this happened in 629 BCE. But Necho did not start ruling until 610BCE.

From a secular viewpoint, such lines of evidence might seem to establish the Neo-Babylonian chronology with Nebuchadnezzar's 18th year (and the destruction of Jerusalem) in 587/6 B.C.E. However, no historian can deny the possibility that the present picture of Babylonian history might be misleading or in error. It is known, for example, that ancient priests and kings sometimes altered records for their own purposes.

Just suppose that Berossus figures for the reigns of the kings contain an error of 20 years. Then the compiler of the Royal Cannon must have made the same mistake independently of Berossus. It could be argued that they all got their sources from the same place and they are just repeating the errors. However how would we explain the scribes that produced the Hillah stele and the Adad-guppi stele? Surely they must have known the kings that they were lived under, and were living under at the time, especially as those reigns also functioned as calendar years by which they dated events? Is it really likely that the Scribes in Egypt made the same mistake as well? Also the Babylonian astronomers must have made the same mistake when dating their cuneiform tablets? The scribes prior to the Neo Babylonian period, who wrote BM32312 which dates Shamushshumukins 16th year, and the scribes who wrote BM76738 and 76813 which dates the beginning of Kandalanus reign to 647 BCE, must have also made the same mistake? What about the tens of thousands of dated economic, administrative and legal documents that have been excavated from the Neo Babylonian period which cover every year of the kings, except the twenty years that we need to prove 607 BCE? Did they all make the same mistake?

Or, even if the discovered evidence is accurate, it might be misinterpreted by modern scholars or be incomplete so that yet undiscovered material could drastically alter the chronology of the period.

Among the tens of thousands of discovered material from the period, we are unable to find one shred of support for our 607 BCE date. If an idea, refuted by an overwhelming amount of discovered evidence is to be retained because it is hoped that "yet undiscovered material" will support it, it seems to me that any idea, no matter how false could be retained on the same principle. If I said that I believed that the world was flat and I was shown a dozen photographs of the globe taken from the shuttle, all I have to do is say that I am waiting for the one piece of evidence to prove that I am right and it will prove all those photographs wrong. Surely this would be wishful thinking.

But if we can not trust the history, what reason do we have of accepting any date from the Babylonian era i.e. the 539 BCE date? This date has been established solely by historical documents and of the two, 587 has much better support than 539 BCE. Surely to retain one date and reject the other is inconsistent.

Evidently realizing such facts, Professor Edward F. Campbell, Jr. introduced a chart, which included Neo-Babylonian chronology, with the caution: "It goes without saying that these lists are provisional. The more one studies the intricacies of the chronological problems in the ancient Near East, the less he is inclined to think of any presentation as final. For this reason, the term circa [about] could be used even more liberally than it is."-The Bible and the Ancient Near East (1965 ed.), p. 281.

The chart referred to above covers the chronologies of Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, Assyria and Babylon from c.3800 BCE to 323 BCE. The term circa is placed before many of the reigns but no circas are placed before any of the kings of the Neo Babylonian period. Also, I have read a book that quotes Professor Freedman who cooperated in the above book. He states about the Neo Babylonian era " This is one of the best- known periods of the ancient world, and we can be very sure that the dates are correct to within a year or so and many of the dates are accurate to the day and month." The "year or so" is talking about the fall of Jerusalem and the uncertainty is whether it fell in 587 or 586 BCE.

Christians who believe the Bible have time and again found that its words stand the test of much criticism and have been proved accurate and reliable. They recognize that as the inspired Word of God it can be used as a measuring rod in evaluating secular history and views. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) For instance, though the Bible spoke of Belshazzar as ruler of Babylon, for centuries scholars were confused about him because no secular documents were available as to his existence, identity or position. Finally, however, archaeologists discovered secular records that confirmed the Bible. Yes, the Bible's internal harmony and the care exercised by its writers, even in matters of chronology, recommends it so strongly to the Christian that he places its authority above that of the ever-changing opinions of secular historians.

But how does the Bible help us to determine when Jerusalem was destroyed, and how does this compare to secular chronology?

The only way that we can prove a foretold event happened is by History. If history says one thing and we say the Bible says some thing else, then surely we should have a look at our interpretation and understanding of the text again?

The prophet Jeremiah predicted that the Babylonians would destroy Jerusalem and make the city and land a desolation. (Jeremiah 25:8, 9) He added: "And all this land must become a devastated place, an object of astonishment, and these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon seventy years." (Jeremiah 25:11)

The Prophecy in Jeremiah 25 is written to Judah and the surrounding nations. If it is not why does verse 9 say "I will bring him against this land and against its inhabitants and against all the nations round about." Verse 11 says "And all this land must become a devastated place, an object of astonishment, and these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon seventy years". If the seventy years only applied to Judah, what does the seventy years mean to all "these other nations?" And if it just applied to Judah, why does the wording say "these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon" and not use the singular "nation?" This prophecy is describing 70 years of servitude for all the nations including Judah. In verse 17-26, Jehovah tells Jeremiah to take his cup of rage and give it to the nations. The first nation mentioned is Jerusalem and the cities of Judah and then it goes on to mention 24 other kings that will taste the cup of rage. Verse 26 says "and all the other kingdoms of the earth that are on the surface of the ground." so we see that it covered more than just Judah:

*** Rbi8 Jeremiah 25:17-26 ***

And I proceeded to take the cup out of the hand of Jehovah and to make all the nations drink to whom Jehovah had sent me: 18 namely, Jerusalem and the cities of Judah and her kings, her princes, to make them a devastated place, an object of astonishment, something to whistle at and a malediction, just as at this day; 19 Phar'aoh the king of Egypt and his servants and his princes and all his people; 20 and all the mixed company, and all the kings of the land of Uz, and all the kings of the land of the Phi·lis'tines and Ash'ke·lon and Ga'za and Ek'ron and the remnant of Ash'dod; 21 E'dom and Mo'ab and the sons of Am'mon; 22 and all the kings of Tyre and all the kings of Si'don and the kings of the island that is in the region of the sea; 23 and De'dan and Te'ma and Buz and all those with hair clipped at the temples; 24 and all the kings of the Arabs and all the kings of the mixed company who are residing in the wilderness; 25 and all the kings of Zim'ri and all the kings of E'lam and all the kings of the Medes; 26 and all the kings of the north who are near and far away, one after the other, and all the [other] kingdoms of the earth that are on the surface of the ground; and the king of She'shach himself will drink after them.

Three things were predicted in Jeremiah's prophecy:

1. The land of Judah would become a "devastated place" although no time limit is put upon this.
2. These nations would have to serve the King of Babylon for 70 years.
3. When the seventy years has been fulfilled Then Jehovah would call to account the king of Babylon.

The Hebrew word for desolation is "Chorbah"(devastation, desolation, and ruin). Does this word imply total desolation? Please look at Ezekiel 33:24 where it talks of "the inhabitants of these devastated places. Also please look at Nehemiah 2; 17. During Nehemiah time, Jerusalem was inhabited, yet the city is said to be devastated. Please read again Jeremiah 25:17-18:

*** Rbi8 Jeremiah 25:17-18 ***

17 And I proceeded to take the cup out of the hand of Jehovah and to make all the nations drink to whom Jehovah had sent me: 18 namely, Jerusalem and the cities of Judah and her kings, her princes, to make them a devastated place, an object of astonishment, something to whistle at and a malediction, just as at this day;

The term "just as at this day" is important. This phrase seems to indicate that the devastation, the "Chorbah" to a certain degree had begun at this time. Dr J.A Thompson in his book "The book of Jeremiah" states "The last phrase "as at its day" suggests that at the time of writing some aspects of this judgment at least were apparent." As pointed out by Professor Arthur Jeffrey in the Interpreters Bible (Vol 6,p.485), "Chorbah" is "often employed to describe the state of a devastated land after the armies of an enemy have passed (Lev 26:31,33; Isaiah 49:19; Jer 42:22;Ezekiel 36:34: Malachi 1:4;Maccabees 1:39)". It would not be inaccurate then to talk of Judah as "Chorbah" eighteen years prior to its depopulation, if the land had been ravaged by the army of an enemy at that time." The phrase "desolate waste, without any inhabitant" is found at Jeremiah 9:11 and 34:22. Although it refers to Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, it is nowhere equated with the period of seventy years. The point I am trying to make here is this: The "seventy years" were not seventy years of Judah not having an inhabitant. The term "Chorbah" does not mean that and this meaning does not fit in with what the Bible says. The Bible says that Judah was going to be desolated and ravaged by an enemy army. The time period is not stated. The time period of seventy years applies to the region, not just Judah, serving the king of Babylon.

If we are to believe that the 70 years is 70 years of complete desolation without any inhabitant only for Judah, then this is in direct conflict with the prophecy. The servitude mentioned does not mean exile and desolation. It means vassalage. Please turn to Jeremiah 27:8 and 11. These scriptures are telling the nations to serve the Babylonian king. The nation that will not serve him, Jehovah will turn his anger upon him until He has finished them off. But the nation that does serve the king of Babylon and "bring its neck under the yoke of the king and actually serve him, I will let it rest upon its ground, is the utterance of Jehovah, and it will certainly cultivate it and dwell in it."

(Jeremiah 27:8-11) "'"'And it must occur that the nation and the kingdom that will not serve him, even Neb·u·chad·nez'zar the king of Babylon; and the one that will not put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, with the sword and with the famine and with the pestilence I shall turn my attention upon that nation,' is the utterance of Jehovah, 'until I shall have finished them off by his hand.' 9 "'"'And as for YOU men, do not listen to YOUR prophets and to YOUR practicers of divination and to YOUR dreamers and to YOUR practicers of magic and to YOUR sorcerers, who are saying to YOU: "YOU men will not serve the king of Babylon." 10 For falsehood is what they are prophesying to YOU, for the purpose of having YOU taken far away from off YOUR ground; and I shall have to disperse YOU, and YOU will have to perish. 11 "'"'And as for the nation that will bring its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and actually serve him, I will also let it rest upon its ground,' is the utterance of Jehovah, 'and it will certainly cultivate it and dwell in it.'"'"

So to "serve" meant to be a vassal kingdom to Babylon and their reward for being obedient was to stay in their land. Verse 12 is a direct command to Zedekiah, which shows that Jehovah did not want them to leave. He wanted them to "serve" the king by being a vassal kingdom and to stay in their land. If they did not "place their neck on the yoke of the king of Babylon" Jehovah was going to punish them. The same applied to any King that Jehovah had poured "the cup of rage" out to.

*** Rbi8 Jeremiah 27:12-13 ***

12 Even to Zed·e·ki'ah the king of Judah I spoke according to all these words, saying: "Bring YOUR necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him and his people and keep on living. 13 Why should you yourself and your people die by the sword, by the famine and by the pestilence according to what Jehovah has spoken to the nation that does not serve the king of Babylon?

Also the whole of Jeremiah 42 is telling the Jews who were left after the destruction to stay in the land of Judah, cultivate it and stay in submission to the king of Babylon. Verses 18 and 19 are telling the Jews not to enter Egypt and leave the land. Verse 22 tells them that if they did, Jehovah was going to punish them.

(Jeremiah 42:18-19) "For this is what Jehovah of armies, the God of Israel, has said, 'Just as my anger and my rage have been poured out upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so my rage will be poured out upon YOU because of YOUR entering into Egypt, and YOU will certainly become a curse and an object of astonishment and a malediction and a reproach, and you will no more see this place.' 19 "Jehovah has spoken against YOU, O remnant of Judah. Do not enter into Egypt. YOU should positively know that I have borne witness against YOU today,

*** Rbi8 Jeremiah 42:22 ***

22 And now YOU should positively know that by the sword, by the famine and by the pestilence YOU will die in the place into which YOU do delight to enter to reside as aliens."

The question that comes to mind here is:If Jehovah wanted the land to be totally uninhabited, we did he command the remaining Jews not to leave Judah?

Thus the nations that accepted the Babylonian yoke would serve the king of Babylon seventy years by being vassal kings. But the nation that refused to serve the king would become devastated. The seventy years of servitude foretold by Jeremiah therefore did not apply to Judah as a nation, but only to the nations who submitted to the king of Babylon. As Judah refused to submit, it had to get punished for this, which meant desolation and exile because it did not place its neck under the yoke. It could not have meant seventy years of being uninhabited as Jehovah commanded the remnant not to leave. The seventy-year could then be described as Babylon being a world power. Historians feel that this world power began its reign when it destroyed the city of Haran in 609 BCE and took over from the Assyria world power that had control at that time.

The 70 years expired when Cyrus the Great, in his first year, released the Jews and they returned to their homeland. (2 Chronicles 36:17-23)

According to the Bible, the end of the seventy years would be marked by the destruction of Babylon. Nowhere does it say that the seventy years would end when the Jews returned:

*** Rbi8 Jeremiah 25:12-13 ***

12 "'And it must occur that when seventy years have been fulfilled I shall call to account against the king of Babylon and against that nation,' is the utterance of Jehovah, 'their error, even against the land of the Chal·de'ans, and I will make it desolate wastes to time indefinite. 13 And I will bring in upon that land all my words that I have spoken against it, even all that is written in this book that Jeremiah has prophesied against all the nations.

If Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 BCE and Babylon was destroyed in 539BCE, this only equates to 68 years and Babylon would have been destroyed before the seventy year time period had been fulfilled? How did Jehovah "call to account against the king of Babylon and against that nation...their error" in 537 BCE, two years after his dethronement? The Persian conquest definitely put an end to Babylon's supremacy over the nations who had served as vassal kings. After that year it was impossible to serve the king of Babylon in any sense either as exiles or vassals.

We believe that the most direct reading of Jeremiah 25:11 and other texts is that the 70 years would date from when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and left the land of Judah desolate.-Jeremiah 52:12-15, 24-27; 36:29-31.

Is that what the Bible and Jeremiah said? At the end of the day we can interpret the scripture any way that we want to, but is not the Bible absolutely clear as to what would happen to these nations?

Yet those who rely primarily on secular information for the chronology of that period realize that if Jerusalem were destroyed in 587/6 B.C.E. certainly it was not 70 years until Babylon was conquered and Cyrus let the Jews return to their homeland. In an attempt to harmonize matters, they claim that Jeremiah's prophecy began to be fulfilled in 605 B.C.E. Later writers quote Berossus as saying that after the battle of Carchemish Nebuchadnezzar extended Babylonian influence into all Syria-Palestine and, when returning to Babylon (in his accession year, 605 B.C.E.), he took Jewish captives into exile. Thus they figure the 70 years as a period of servitude to Babylon beginning in 605 B.C.E. That would mean that the 70-year period would expire in 535 B.C.E.

But there are a number of major problems with this interpretation: Though Berossus claims that Nebuchadnezzar took Jewish captives in his accession year, there are no cuneiform documents supporting this.

But the Bible itself backs these deportations up, by the direct reading of Daniel 1:1,2;

*** Rbi8 Daniel 1:1-2 ***

1 In the third year of the kingship of Je·hoi'a·kim the king of Judah, Neb·u·chad·nez'zar the king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and proceeded to lay siege to it. 2 In time Jehovah gave into his hand Je·hoi'a·kim the king of Judah and a part of the utensils of the house of the [true] God, so that he brought them to the land of Shi'nar to the house of his god; and the utensils he brought to the treasure-house of his god.

Daniel 1:1 tells us that in the third year of Jehoiakim (corresponding to the first year of Nebuchadnezzar: see Jer 25:1) Nebuchadnezzar took tribute from Judah consisting of utensils from the temple and "some of the sons of Israel and of the Royal offspring and of the nobles" and brought them to Babylon. It is true that the Babylonian Chronicle does not mention specifically these Jewish captives, however it does mention that Nebuchadnezzar, in his accession year "marched about Hattu to Babylon". Most probably captives were included in this "vast booty". This is pointed out in Professor Gerhard Larsson's Book "When did the Babylonian Captivity begin":

"It is certain that this "heavy tribute" consisted not only of treasure but also from prisoners from the conquered countries. To refrain from doing so would have been altogether too alien from the customs of the kings of Babylon and Assyria."

This clearly points to a beginning of the servitude early in the reign of Jehoiakim. However we as Jehovah's Witnesses feel that the "third year of Jehoiakim" is understood to be his third year of vassalage to Nebuchadnezzar and therefore his eleventh regnal year. However this explanation is in direct conflict with Daniel 1:1, 2:1and Jer 25:1.

*** Rbi8 Daniel 2:1 ***

2 And in the second year of the kingship of Neb·u·chad·nez'zar, Neb·u·chad·nez'zar dreamed dreams; and his spirit began to feel agitated, and his very sleep was made to be something beyond him.

If Daniel had been brought to Babylon in Nebuchadnezzars eighth year, how could he be interpreting dreams in Nebuchadnezzar second year? If it is because it is the second year of Nebuchadnezzar as a "gentile trampling on Jerusalem", why did not Daniel use this method of dating when dating other kings in the following verses? Daniel knew that his words would be read by us two thousand years later and so would not have put something so misleading in it:

*** Rbi8 Daniel 8:1 ***

In the third year of the kingship of Bel·shaz'zar the king, there was a vision that appeared to me, even me, Daniel, after the one appearing to me at the start

*** Rbi8 Daniel 9:1 ***

In the first year of Da·ri'us the son of A·has·u·e'rus of the seed of the Medes, who had been made king over the kingdom of the Chal·de'ans;

*** Rbi8 Daniel 10:1 ***

10 In the third year of Cyrus the king of Persia there was a matter revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Bel·te·shaz'zar; and the matter was true, and there was a great military service. And he understood the matter, and he had understanding in the thing seen.

More significantly, Jeremiah 52:28-30 carefully reports that Nebuchadnezzar took Jews captive in his seventh year, his 18th year and his 23rd year, not his accession year.

This presupposes that this is a complete record of the deportations. The sum total of the deportations according to Jer 52:30 is "four thousand and six hundred". However 2 Kings 24:14 gives the number of just one of those deportations as "ten thousand". Jeremiah does not mention the deportation in the accession year of Nebuchadnezzar described by Daniel, but this does not mean that it did not happen. It was probably a small deportation consisting of "the Royal offspring and of the nobles". The important thing is that Daniel mentions this independent of Berossus. Also if the larger number of "ten thousand" was taken to Babylon, there still would have been a large number left in Jerusalem, therefore it would not be left totally desolate.

Also, Jewish historian Josephus states that in the year of the battle of Carchemish Nebuchadnezzar conquered all of Syria-Palestine "excepting Judea," thus contradicting Berossus and conflicting with the claim that 70 years of Jewish servitude began in Nebuchadnezzar's accession year.-Antiquities of the Jews X, vi, 1.

Josephus wrote this more than 600 years after Berossus and almost 400 years after Daniel who both state that it did happen (Dan 1:1-2). Even if Josephus was right, this would not contradict the conclusion that the servitude of the nations surrounding Judah began in Nebuchadnezzars accession year (see below). DR E W Hengstenberg in his book "Die Authentie des Daniel's und die Inegritat des Sacharjah (translated from the German) states:

"It should not be thought that Josephus got the Parex tes Ioudaias (excepting Judea) from a source no longer available to us. What follows shows that he just derived it from a misunderstanding of the passage at 2 Kings 24:1. As he erroneously understood the three years mentioned there as the interval between the two invasions, he thought that no invasion could be presumed before the 8th year of Jehoiakim".

Personally, I would prefer to take the evidence from Berossus, who got his information from sources preserved from the Neo Babylonian sources itself, and the writings of the Bible prophet Daniel who was an eye witness at the time and who was personally involved in the deportations. Again Daniel knew that his words would be read thousands of years after his death and would know not to put anything misleading in his writings. There is also historical evidence that supports a direct reading of Daniel 2:1.

It is the Babylonian Chronicle BM 21946. This covers the period from the last (21st) year of Nabopolassar up to an including the tenth year of his successor and son, Nebuchadnezzar.It starts with a detailed account of the battle at Carchemish where the Babylonian inflicted a heavy defeat on the Egyptian army and the events afterward. Immediately after the battle, Nebuchadnezzar began to take over the whole of the western areas in vassalage to Egypt. The chronicle tells us that.... "In his accession year Nebuchadnezzar (11) returned to Hattu. Until the month Shebat he marched about victoriously in Hattu. In the month Shebat, he took the vast booty of Hattu to Babylon...."He then spent the next four years in conquering the territories. Clearly then the nations in the Hattu area (including Judah) became vassals to Babylon soon after the Battle at Carchemish. This agrees with the Bible.

Furthermore, Josephus elsewhere describes the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians and then says that "all Judea and Jerusalem, and the temple, continued to be a desert for seventy years." (Antiquities of the Jews X, ix, 7) He pointedly states that "our city was desolate during the interval of seventy years, until the days of Cyrus." (Against Apion I, 19) This agrees with 2 Chronicles 36:21 and Daniel 9:2 that the foretold 70 years were 70 years of full desolation for the land.

This is true. Josephus does state 70 years of desolation. But you failed to mention that Josephus, in his last reference to the period of Jerusalem's desolation, states that the desolation lasted for fifty years, not seventy. He also quotes the works of Berossus and the records of the Phoenicians to prove the fifty years. I write the next sentence with the utmost respect: Is it really honest to quote Josephus in support of the idea that the desolation lasted for 70 years, but conceal the fact that he in his latest statement on the length of the period argues that it lasted for fifty years?

Second-century (CE) writer Theophilus of Antioch also shows that the 70 years commenced with the destruction of the temple after Zedekiah had reigned 11 years. -See also 2 Kings 24:18-25:21.

Theophilus does commence the seventy years from the destruction of Jerusalem, but again you fail to mention that he was confused about the date of the end as he first places it in the second year of Cyrus (537/36 BCE) and then in the second year of Darius (520/19BCE). Some writers' i.e. Clement of Alexandria also end the seventy years in the second year of Darius (520/19 BCE). There are at least two other early Christian writers who wrote different dates for the start and finish. It is obvious that they did not have access to sources that could have helped them to establish an exact chronology for this ancient period.

But the Bible itself provides even more telling evidence against the claim that the 70 years began in 605 B.C.E. and that Jerusalem was destroyed in 587/6 B.C.E. As mentioned, if we were to count from 605 B.C.E., the 70 years would reach down to 535 B.C.E. However, the inspired Bible writer Ezra reported that the 70 years ran until "the first year of Cyrus the king of Persia," who issued a decree allowing the Jews to return to their homeland. (Ezra 1:1-4; 2 Chronicles 36:21-23) Historians accept that Cyrus conquered Babylon in October 539 B.C.E. and that Cyrus' first regnal year began in the spring of 538 B.C.E. If Cyrus' decree came late in his first regnal year, the Jews could easily be back in their homeland by the seventh month (Tishri) as Ezra 3:1 says; this would be October 537 B.C.E.

However, there is no reasonable way of stretching Cyrus' first year from 538 down to 535 B.C.E. Some who have tried to explain away the problem have in a strained manner claimed that in speaking of "the first year of Cyrus" Ezra and Daniel were using some peculiar Jewish viewpoint that differed from the official count of Cyrus' reign. But that cannot be sustained, for both a non-Jewish governor and a document from the Persian archives agree that the decree occurred in Cyrus' first year, even as the Bible writers carefully and specifically reported.-Ezra 5:6, 13; 6:1-3; Daniel 1:21; 9:1-3.

But if we were to count the seventy years from 609 BCE, which is when Babylon destroyed Haran, this would fit in nicely with the seventy-year prophecy. If the seventy years meant that Babylon would be replacing the Assyrians as the new world power and other nations had to put their necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, this would fit in well with what history and more importantly what the Bible says.

Jehovah's "good word" is bound up with the foretold 70-year period, for God said: "This is what Jehovah has said, 'in accord with the fulfilling of seventy years at Babylon I shall turn my attention to you people, and I will establish toward you my good word in bringing you back to this place.'" (Jeremiah 29:10)

Regarding Jer 29; 10, the Hebrew word "le" in the NWT is translated "at". It can be translated "at" but its most common meaning is "for". I have checked a lot of Bibles and except for our Bible and the KJV, every one that I have read says "for Babylon". One even says "Babylonias seventy years." All these translations expressed the same thought, namely that the seventy years refer to the Babylonian supremacy, not to the Jewish captivity, nor to the desolation following the destruction of Jerusalem. This is also in agreement with what Jeremiah says in his prophecy.

The proceeding verses to the above scripture say:

(Jeremiah 29:4-10) "This is what Jehovah of armies, the God of Israel, has said to all the exiled people, whom I have caused to go into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, 5 'Build houses and inhabit [them], and plant gardens and eat their fruitage. 6 Take wives and become father to sons and to daughters; and take wives for YOUR own sons and give YOUR own daughters to husbands, that they may give birth to sons and to daughters; and become many there, and do not become few. 7 also, seek the peace of the city to which I have caused YOU to go into exile, and pray in its behalf to Jehovah, for in its peace there will prove to be peace for YOU yourselves. 8 For this is what Jehovah of armies, the God of Israel, has said: "Let not YOUR prophets who are in among YOU and YOUR practicers of divination deceive YOU, and do not YOU listen to their dreams that they are dreaming. 9 For 'it is in falsehood that they are prophesying to YOU in my name. I have not sent them,' is the utterance of Jehovah."'" 10 "For this is what Jehovah has said, 'In accord with the fulfilling of seventy years at Babylon I shall turn my attention to YOU people, and I will establish toward YOU my good word in bringing YOU back to this place.'

These verses were written several years prior to the destruction of Jerusalem. Jeremiah is telling the Jews exiled in Babylon, not to listen to false prophets who were saying a quick return was going to happen. He told them to settle down and wait. This utterance clearly shows that the seventy years were in progress at that time. If the period had not commenced, why did Jeremiah connect it with the exiles staying at Babylon? If the seventy-year period had not commenced, what relevance is there in Jeremiah's reference to it? Jeremiah did not urge them to wait until the seventy years would begin, but to wait until the period had been completed. As this scripture was written about 7 years before the destruction, why did not Jeremiah tell them to wait 77 years?

Daniel relied on that word, trusting that the 70 years were not a 'round number' but an exact figure that could be counted on. (Daniel 9:1, 2) And that proved to be so. Similarly, we are willing to be guided primarily by God's Word rather than by a chronology that is based principally on secular evidence or that disagrees with the Scriptures. It seems evident that the easiest and most direct understanding of the various Biblical statements is that the 70 years began with the complete desolation of Judah after Jerusalem was destroyed. (Jeremiah 25:8-11; 2 Chronicles 36:20-23; Daniel 9:2) Hence, counting back 70 years from when the Jews returned to their homeland in 537 B.C.E., we arrive at 607 B.C.E. for the date when Nebuchadnezzar, in his 18th regnal year, destroyed Jerusalem, removed Zedekiah from the throne and brought to an end the Judean line of kings on a throne in earthly Jerusalem.-Ezekiel 21:19-27.

I would like to comment on the above scriptures (2 Chronicles 36:20-23; Daniel 9:2) and some others, that I feel "prove" the 587 BCE date:

Daniel 9:2

The Babylonian dominion was definitely broken when the armies of Persia captured Babylon in Night of the 5th and 6th October 539 BCE. Belshazzar in that night got to know that his days were Numbered. Daniel tells Belshazzar:

*** Rbi8 Daniel 5:26 ***

26 "This is the interpretation of the word: ME'NE, God has numbered [the days of] your kingdom and has finished it.

So obviously the seventy years allotted to Babylon ended that night. This sudden collapse led Daniel to turn his attention to Jeremiah's prophecy of Jehovah returning the Jews. He tells us:

(Daniel 9:1-2) In the first year of Da·ri'us the son of A·has·u·e'rus of the seed of the Medes, who had been made king over the kingdom of the Chal·de'ans; 2 in the first year of his reigning I myself, Daniel, discerned by the books the number of the years concerning which the word of Jehovah had occurred to Jeremiah the prophet, for fulfilling the devastation's of Jerusalem, [namely,] seventy years.

He "discerned" that the seventy-year period had now finished and God was going to turn his attention to the exiled Jews, so that they could return. In the lengthy prayer that followed, he does not mention once the seventy year. Instead the whole emphasis is on the Jewish exiles and the conditions set forth in Jeremiah's prayer for their return to Jerusalem.

In his letter to the exiles (Jer 29:12-14) Jeremiah that Jehovah's fulfilling of his promise to restore them rested on certain conditions:

(Jeremiah 29:12-14) And YOU will certainly call me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to YOU.' 13 "'And YOU will actually seek me and find [me], for YOU will search for me with all YOUR heart. 14 And I will let myself be found by YOU,' is the utterance of Jehovah. 'And I will gather YOUR body of captives and collect YOU together out of all the nations and out of all the places to which I have dispersed YOU,' is the utterance of Jehovah. 'And I will bring YOU back to the place from which I caused YOU to go into exile.'

They had to return to Jehovah, by seeking Him with prayer, confessing their sins and starting to listen to His voice. And this is precisely what Daniel did:

*** Rbi8 Daniel 9:3-6 ***

And I proceeded to set my face to Jehovah the [true] God, in order to seek [him] with prayer and with entreaties, with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. 4 And I began to pray to Jehovah my God and to make confession and to say:

"Ah Jehovah the [true] God, the great One and the fear-inspiring One, keeping the covenant and the loving-kindness to those loving him and to those keeping his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled; and there has been a turning aside from your commandments and from your judicial decisions. 6 And we have not listened to your servants the prophets, who have spoken in your name to our kings, our princes and our forefathers and to all the people of the land.

So we see that Daniel had in his mind the scripture below:

*** Rbi8 Jeremiah 29:10 ***

"For this is what Jehovah has said, 'In accord with the fulfilling of seventy years at Babylon I shall turn my attention to YOU people, and I will establish toward YOU my good word in bringing YOU back to this place.'

This was evidently the reason why Daniel in his reference to Jeremiah's prophecy, connected the seventy years "for Babylon" with Jerusalem, speaking of them as " the number of years…for fulfilling the devastation's of Jerusalem. It was clear from Jeremiah's letter that the completion of Babylon's seventy years would entail the "fulfilling of the desolation's of Jerusalem" (by the return of the exiles).It should be noted that Daniel does not equate the seventy years with the period of Jerusalem's desolation. It is only the expiration of the seventy-year period.

2 Chronicles 36:20-21.

(2 Chronicles 36:20-23) Furthermore, he carried off those remaining from the sword captive to Babylon, and they came to be servants to him and his sons until the royalty of Persia began to reign; 21 to fulfill Jehovah's word by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had paid off its Sabbaths. All the days of lying desolated it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.'"

It must first be observed that the chronicler emphasizes that the agreement between the prophecy of Jeremiah and the fulfillment in the events he records. Thus in verse 20 and 21, he points out that the Jewish exiles came to be servants to the Babylonian kings "until the royalty of Persia began to reign (in 539 BCED), to fulfil Jehovah's word by the mouth of Jeremiah….to fulfill seventy years." The chronicler then, seems to be saying that the seventy years were fulfilled at the Persian conquest of Babylon, which is in agreement with what Jeremiah stated in his prophecy.

What complicates matters is the insertion in the text, is the statement about the "Sabbath rest" of the land, which is inserted in the middle of the reference to Jeremiah's prophecy. If we turn to the prophecy in the book of Jeremiah, there are no references made to "Sabbath years" so what is the chronicler referring to?

The reference is to the scripture in Leviticus 26:34-35:

(Leviticus 26:34-35) "'At that time the land will pay off its Sabbaths all the days of its lying desolated, while YOU are in the land of YOUR enemies. At that time the land will keep Sabbath, as it must repay its Sabbaths. 35 All the days of its lying desolated it will keep Sabbath, for the reason that it did not keep Sabbath during YOUR Sabbaths when YOU were dwelling upon it.

Like Daniel, the Chronicler understood the desolation of Judah to be a fulfillment of this curse predicted in the law of Moses He therefore inserted this prediction from Leviticus 26 to show that it was fulfilled after the final deportation to Babylon, exactly as was predicted by Moses. By inserting the two clauses from Leviticus 26, the chronicler did not mean to say that the land enjoyed a Sabbath rest of seventy years, as this was not predicted by Moses or Jeremiah .He does not say how long it rested, only that "all the days of lying desolated it kept Sabbath." The two prophecies should not be mixed up or confused. Not only do they refer to periods of different character and different lengths, they also refer to different nations. But as the two periods were closely connected, in that the end of one period was contingent on the end of the other, the Chronicler, like Daniel, brought them together.

The next two verses are interesting:

(2 Chronicles 36:22-23) And in the first year of Cyrus the king of Persia, that Jehovah's word by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, Jehovah roused the spirit of Cyrus the king of Persia, so that he caused a cry to pass through all his kingdom, and also in writing, saying: 23 "This is what Cyrus the king of Persia has said, 'All the kingdoms of the earth Jehovah the God of the heavens has given me, and he himself has commissioned me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among YOU of all his people, Jehovah his God be with him. So let him go up.'"

If Jehovah's word " by the mouth of Jeremiah" is here taken to be another reference to the seventy years, it might prove that Ezra ended that period in 538/537 BCE. But in view of the fact that these verses actually deal with Cyrus decree allowing the Jews to return to their homeland, it is more natural to understand his reference to Jeremiah's prophecy as a reference to what the prophet said immediately after his prediction of these seventy years for Babylon at Jeremiah 29:10:

*** Rbi8 Jeremiah 29:10 ***

10 "For this is what Jehovah has said, 'In accord with the fulfilling of seventy years at Babylon I shall turn my attention to YOU people, and I will establish toward YOU my good word in bringing YOU back to this place.'

Note that the prophet did not say that Jehovah first would visit the exiles, causing them to return to Jerusalem, and that as a result of that, the seventy years would be accomplished. It clearly states that the seventy years would be accomplished first, and after their fulfillment, Jehovah would visit the exiles and cause them to return to Jerusalem. The seventy years then would be fulfilled whilst the Jewish exiles were still in Babylon.

Thus we find the scriptures above are in agreement. The chronicler ends the period while the Jewish exiles were still living in Babylonia, when "the royalty of Persia began to reign" in 539 BCE. He lays stress upon the fact that the Jewish exiles could not return to Jerusalem until Babylon's seventy years had been fulfilled and the land had paid of its Sabbaths. After that, Jehovah caused them to return to their homeland, in fulfillment with Jeremiah 29:10b, in the first year of Cyrus.

Zechariah 1:7-12

(Zechariah 1:7-12) On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, that is, the month She'bat, in the second year of Da·ri'us, the word of Jehovah occurred to Zech·a·ri'ah the son of Ber·e·chi'ah the son of Id'do the prophet, saying: 8 "I saw [in] the night, and, look! a man riding on a red horse, and he was standing still among the myrtle trees that were in the deep place; and behind him there were horses red, bright red, and white." 9 And so I said: "Who are these, my lord?" At that the angel who was speaking with me said to me: "I myself shall show you who these very ones are." 10 Then the man who was standing still among the myrtle trees answered and said: "These are the ones whom Jehovah has sent forth to walk about in the earth." 11 And they proceeded to answer the angel of Jehovah who was standing among the myrtle trees and to say: "We have walked about in the earth, and, look! the whole earth is sitting still and having no disturbance." 12 So the angel of Jehovah answered and said: "O Jehovah of armies, how long will you yourself not show mercy to Jerusalem and to the cities of Judah, whom you have denounced these seventy years?"

Darius second year corresponded to 520/519 BCE and the 24th day of the 11th month may be translated as 15 February 519 BCE. Although the temple rebuilding had been going for about five months, the cities of Judah were in a terrible state. That is why the Angel said the above in verse 12. According to the angel, Jehovah had denounced Jerusalem and the cities for seventy years. The reason why the angel asks this question was that Jehovah still in Darius second year, had not shown mercy to the cities of Judah. Or did the angel mean to say that Jehovah had denounced Judah for seventy years up to 537 BCE and then another eighteen years up to 519 BCE? This would make the hostility nearly ninety years not seventy.

Counted from 587 BCE the hostilities had now, in 519 BCE lasted for sixty-eight years. And if counted from the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem (Jan 27th,589BCE), the hostilities lasted for almost exactly seventy years to the day .It seems clear that the seventy years mentioned in the text do not refer to the prophecy in Jeremiah but simply to time elapsed by 519 BCE. The seventy years elapsed from the destruction of the temple in 587 BCE to its rebuilding in the year's 520/519 BCE is also confirmed in the next scripture:

(Zechariah 7:1-5) Furthermore, it came about that in the fourth year of Da·ri'us the king the word of Jehovah occurred to Zech·a·ri'ah, on the fourth [day] of the ninth month, [that is,] in Chis'lev. 2 And Beth'el proceeded to send Shar·e'zer and Re'gem-mel'ech and his men to soften the face of Jehovah, 3 saying to the priests who belonged to the house of Jehovah of armies, and to the prophets, even saying: "Shall I weep in the fifth month, practicing an abstinence, the way I have done these O how many years?" 4 And the word of Jehovah of armies continued to occur to me, saying: 5 "Say to all the people of the land and to the priests, 'When YOU fasted and there was a wailing in the fifth [month] and in the seventh [month], and this for seventy years, did YOU really fast to me, even me?

Again this event is recorded exactly: the fourth year of Darius…on the fourth day of the ninth month. This date corresponds to December 7, 518 BCE. The fast in the fifth month was to commemorate when Nebuzaradan burned down the temple. The fast in the seventh month was to commemorate the assassination of Gedaliah. For how long had the Jews been fasting in these months in memory of the two events? For seventy years according to Zechariah 7:5, and 518 BCE was the seventieth year since 587 BCE. If the destruction of the temple was in 607 BCE, this would make the time these fasts had been observed amount to ninety years rather than seventy.

Haggai 2:1-3

(Haggai 2:1-3) In the seventh [month], on the twenty-first [day] of the month, the word of Jehovah occurred by means of Hag'gai the prophet, saying: 2 "Say, please, to Ze·rub'ba·bel the son of She·al'ti·el, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Je·hoz'a·dak the high priest, and to the remaining ones of the people, saying, 3 'Who is there among YOU that is remaining over who saw this house in its former glory? And how are YOU people seeing it now? Is it not, in comparison with that, as nothing in YOUR eyes?'

This was about 519 BCE. How many of the old ones would there be who saw the original temple? If it was destroyed in 587 BCE, then these old men would have been around 70-80. But if the temple was destroyed in 607 BCE, then these old men would have been around 90-100.The next scripture adds some more detail:

Ezra 3:10-13

(Ezra 3:10-13) When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of Jehovah, then the priests in official clothing, with the trumpets, and the Levites the sons of A'saph, with the cymbals, stood up to praise Jehovah according to the direction of David the king of Israel. 11 And they began to respond by praising and giving thanks to Jehovah, "for he is good, for his loving-kindness toward Israel is to time indefinite." As for all the people, they shouted with a loud shout in praising Jehovah over the laying of the foundation of the house of Jehovah. 12 And many of the priests and the Levites and the heads of the paternal houses, the old men that had seen the former house, were weeping with a loud voice at the laying of the foundation of this house before their eyes, while many others were raising the voice in shouting for joy. 13 Hence the people were not distinguishing the sound of the shout of rejoicing from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people were shouting with a loud shout, and the sound itself was heard even to a great distance.

Now we see that there was so many of the older ones present weeping loudly, that it could not be distinguished from the shouts of joy from the younger ones. How likely is it that 90-100 year olds undertook the arduous journey from Babylon to the ruins of Jerusalem and participated in the laying of its foundations and in such large numbers?

So, Brothers the questions that I need answers to please are as follows:

1. Why do we say that the seventy years were completed when the Jews returned to Jerusalem, when the Bible clearly shows that it was completed when Babylon was destroyed?
2. What does the seventy years mean to "the other nations" if it is not meant to be Babylon as a world power?
3. Why was only VAT 4956 quoted and not all the historical evidence which historians use to date the era quoted in the appendix to chapter 14?
4. Is it really credible that all this evidence (that can be checked by going to the British Museum) is wrong and has been misinterpreted?
5. Why do we quote from Josephus to support the seventy years, when Josephus himself changes the time period to fifty years and says that this is in agreement with Berossus in the final part of his works, and the appendix does not quote this? With the utmost respect, is this not "dishonest"?
6. Why do we quote Theophilus, when he is not quite sure when the seventy years ended?
7. Why do we accept 539 BCE and not 587 BCE, when they are both based on the same evidence and the evidence for 587 is a lot stronger?
8. Why do we not consider the scriptures that talk of seventy years, in the light of Jeremiah 25, in particular 2 Chronicles 36: 20-21 which talks of the Sabbath years, which is not mentioned in Jeremiah?

So that, Brothers, is what I have been doing with my life since I got asked that "simple" question. I can not stress to you how much I need answers and explanations to this information. My faith at the moment is in tatters and I want to save it. If history is so adamant that Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 BCE, surely we should look at the evidence and see if our interpretation of the Bible is wrong. All scripture that seems to talk about the seventy years should be considered in the light of the original prophecy in Jeremiah 25, don't you think? If we are to reject the historical information, then we should reject it all totally. This would obviously mean that we are to reject the 539 BCE date as well.

I look forward to hearing from you brothers with eagerness.

Your brother


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