Jerusalem's Temple Destruction Date of 607 BCE Re-Examined
[See blog with graphics at: http://www.singnewsong.com/607bce.html]
The following information is an excerpt taken from the publication called: The "Report" Volume I pages 221-252.
You may be surprised to know that many Bible events can be dated by proper use of the Scriptures. In addition, secular history and the Bible are in complete agreement and in full harmony on many points of interest for serious Bible students. Let's examine a few of these.
NEBUCHADNEZZAR AND JERUSALEM'S DESTRUCTION
2 Kings 25:8 says:
"And in the fifth month on the seventh [day] of the month, that is to say, the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan the chief of the bodyguard, the servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. And he proceeded to burn the house of Jehovah and the king's house and all the houses of Jerusalem; and the house of every great man he burned with fire. And the walls of Jerusalem, all around, the entire military force of Chaldeans that were with the chief of the bodyguard pulled down."
Yes, the city of Jerusalem and its great and magnificent temple was destroyed in the nineteenth year of the King Nebuchadnezzar.
As pointed out in chapter 2 of THE "REPORT," the Watchtower Society theorizes that this particular act, namely that of (a) destroying the temple in Jerusalem, and (b) removing the present king (Zedekiah), brought to an end the earthly reign of the Davidic line upon "Jehovah's throne." In other words, the whole line of descendants of David, whether good or bad makes no difference, yes any and all descendants of David, who sat upon the throne in Jerusalem, were actually "sitting upon Jehovah's throne," and thus representing Jehovah God's "supreme rulership over earth." And of course, the Watchtower Society further purports that this all occurred in 607 BCE, with the removal of wicked king Zedekiah from the throne. You may recall this comment from the publication You Can Live Forever In Paradise On Earth, pages 138, 139, paragraph 14, which again shows the Watchtower Society's clear position on this subject by way of the "tree" dream of Nebuchadnezzar. It states:
"So, in a more important way, this heaven-high tree, comes to represent the supreme rulership of God, particularly in its relationship to our earth. Jehovah's rulership was expressed for a time through the kingdom that he set up over the nation of Israel. Thus the kings of the tribe of Judah who reigned over the Israelites were said to `sit upon Jehovah's throne.' -- 1 Chronicles 29:23."
This publication along with numerous other publications released by the Watchtower Society over the years, have repeatedly shown, using what seems to be extensive "Biblical chronological proofs," that this great event had to occur in 607 BCE -- thus completely contrary to what historians world-wide state on the subject. Yes, the Watchtower Society emphatically state that all the historians are clearly wrong in saying that Jerusalem's temple was destroyed in 587/586 BCE! Yes, the historians of the world, as the Watchtower Society maintains, simply do not take into account the Bible's chronological evidence, and that's what makes them so wrong. -- See Let Your Kingdom Come pg. 184-189.
Therefore, the question could be raised, did Jehovah God really strip the Israelite nation and its Davidic line of the privilege of representing His "supreme rulership" upon earth with the removal of wicked Zedekiah from the throne? And further, did the destruction of the temple mark the time Jehovah CEASED to use the nation of Israel as His representative, His royal government on earth? And all of that, in the fateful year of 607 BCE?
As in the case of teaching any doctrine of the Bible, accurate knowledge is of the utmost importance, since precious lives of individuals are involved! It is as Philippians 1:9, 10 says:
"And this is what I continue praying, that your love may abound yet more and more with accurate knowledge and full discernment; that you may make sure of the more important things, so that you may be flawless and not be stumbling others up to the day of Christ."
Therefore, let's examine the inspired record itself to `make sure of these more important things.' Yes, let's see if the Watchtower Society, as the tutor of more than 6 million Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide, themselves truly have "accurate knowledge" and "full discernment" of these Biblical events.
NEBUCHADNEZZAR'S DREAM AND DANIEL
To properly resolve this matter, we must go back in time, in Daniel's day. In Daniel the 2nd chapter, we read the account of Nebuchadnezzar's dream of an immense image where the head was made out of gold, its breasts and arms were of silver, its belly and thighs were of copper, its legs were of iron, its feet were partly of iron and partly of molded clay. (vss. 31, 32) The dream disturbed Nebuchadnezzar very much since he could not understand its meaning. Therefore, he instructed the wise men of his time to interpret the dream to him. And to insure the accuracy of the interpretation C they must also relate to him WHAT HE DREAMED before relating its interpretation! A colossal task indeed!
Therefore, the person interpreting the dream would first have to RECALL the dream to Nebuchadnezzar! Only the True God, Jehovah could actually do such a thing. The stage is now set for a dramatic event. First, the wise men of Babylon were consulted by the king.
But, the interpretation could not be given by all the wise men of Babylon. Remember, they had to recall the dream first, to the king. And that was a very difficult task indeed!
The wise men of the entire kingdom fail, and now, the king becomes infuriated and decides to take drastic action which endangers even Jehovah's servants living in Babylon! The Bible states:
"Because of this the king himself became angry and got very furious, and he said to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. And the order itself went out and the wise men were about to be killed; and they looked for Daniel and his companions, for them to be killed." -- Daniel 2:12, 13
However, Daniel interceded, prayed to Jehovah, and the answer was given to him by Jehovah. (vss. 14-24) And what was the interpretation?
After relating to Nebuchadnezzar the exact account of his dream, Daniel now makes the all important interpretation. At Daniel 2:37, 38 we read:
"You, O king, the king of kings, you to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the might, and the strength and the dignity, and into whose hand he has given, wherever the sons of mankind are dwelling, the beasts of the field and the winged creatures of the heavens, and whom he has made ruler over all of them, you yourself are the head of gold."
Now, that is quite an interpretation! Jehovah revealed all that Nebuchadnezzar was, all that he had become, the head over everything, every nation, every kingdom -- Jehovah had given all this into his hands! Jehovah made him WORLD RULER! Yes, he was the "head of gold." But wait! This poses a serious problem for the Watchtower Society and its aforementioned explanation. Yes, the problem of Israel and its Davidic line representing Jehovah's "supreme rulership on earth" up until the time the temple was destroyed. Why?
THE TIMING OF THE DREAM IS VERY, VERY IMPORTANT
Let's go back to the timing of the Dream and of its interpretation as recorded by Daniel himself. At Daniel 2:1 we read:
"And in the second year of the Kingship of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, and his spirit began to feel agitated, and his very sleep was made to be something beyond him."
Did you get it? Why yes -- it was in the "second year of the kingship of Nebuchadnezzar," that this dream occurred! However, as we previously read earlier, Nebuchadnezzar, destroyed the temple in his "nineteenth year" of kingship. That's right, in his "nineteenth year" of rulership. And again, what is our source for establishing these "chronological events?" Why, you say: "God's Word, the Bible itself clearly states these facts!" And you are right, it's just that simple. But still, at this point, you may be saying: "Well, what does all that mean...I don't get the point...why is that fact so important?" -- See 2 Kings 25:8.
Well simply put, this is very important because it means that this "dream," and it's interpretation by the prophet Daniel, actually occurred some 17 years before Jerusalem was destroyed! Yes, 17 years before! Therefore, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon was really the "head of gold" by Jehovah's permission at least 17 years before Jerusalem was destroyed! Now how can the Watchtower Society teach that `Judean kings, Jehoiakim (who was on the throne at the time of Daniel's interpretation), Jehoiachin and finally Zedekiah, represented "Jehovah's Supreme rulership on earth" when Daniel the prophet has made known by means of the interpretation of the "dream" that Jehovah God indeed had already given Nebuchadnezzar "ALL the dignity, kingdom, might strength . . . WHEREVER THE SONS OF MANKIND ARE DWELLING."
Really, the expression "wherever the sons of mankind are dwelling" graphically depicts the broad scope of Nebuchadnezzar's world rulership and would by necessity include, you guessed it, none other than, Israel's "Davidic" king, wicked Jehoiakim who was on the throne at the time! Therefore, we can plainly see that this world domination of Babylon, as demonstrated by Nebuchadnezzar becoming the "head of gold," must also include the nation of Israel and its Davidic king sitting upon the throne in Jerusalem!
THE WATCHTOWER SOCIETY'S "POSITION"
But you must be wondering: "What is the Society's position on this matter...this is clearly damaging to their teaching that those wicked Judean kings represented `His royal government on earth'... how does the Society explain this...?" Well, there can be no question, no doubt, that this small bit of information you have just read, has caused great distress to the Watchtower Society and their "chronologists" in the Writing Department. Why? Well, again if we consider that Jehovah had already set up Nebuchadnezzar, as the king and ruler over everything, then the purported temple destruction date, regardless of whatever date it was, would not hold any significance whatsoever to the Sovereign of the Universe! That's right -- He had already turned everything over to Babylon 17 years before the temple was destroyed and Nebuchadnezzar's subsequent removal of the wicked "Davidic" king, Zedekiah.
Therefore, Jehovah would not use the date of 607 BCE or any other date that can be established for the temple destruction as HIS DATE to begin the count of the 2,520 year formula and thus arriving at the Watchtower Society's pivotal date of 1914. So you can see, that this bit of information would be very damaging to the Watchtower Society and its doctrine of 1914. But let's get back to the question again: How then does the illustrious Watchtower Society explain this apparent discrepancy between their "chronology" and the plain statement at Daniel 2:1?
THIS WAY: In the publication Insight On The Scriptures, Volume II, page 481, paragraph 2, this direct quote can be found on the subject. It states:
"The book of Daniel states that it was in `the second year' of Nebuchadnezzar's kingship (probably counting from the destruction of Jerusalem in 607 BCE and therefore actually referring to his 20th regnal year) that Nebuchadnezzar had the dream about the golden-headed image."
Yes, that is their answer!
CONTEMPT FOR GOD'S WORD EXPRESSED
Can you believe it! The Watchtower Society has the audacity to say the actual Bible-statement is in error! Yes, isn't that what they have just said? Let's back up and look at what they have just said again. Did you read it? Yes, the Watchtower Society says that when God's Word says as recorded by the inspired eye-witness Daniel, that the Dream happened in the "2nd year of Nebuchadnezzar's kingship" or reign, that it really means the twentieth year [20th] of his reign! In other words brothers, the Watchtower Society is CONTRADICTING THE BIBLE ITSELF!!! Can you believe it! The Watchtower Society is showing outright contempt for God's Word the Bible.
Brothers, do you not see just how far the Watchtower Society will go to uphold their 1914 doctrine? Do you see it? Yes, they will do exactly what they have said for many many years the clergy of Christendom does -- yes, the Watchtower Society will actually contradict the Bible itself. This is how far will they go to uphold their 1914 dogma. Yes, they will resort to even "twisting" the words of the Holy Scriptures to make "their" doctrine seem correct! How irreverent, ungodly and disgusting they are! 2 Peter 3:16 says of such like ones in part:
" . . . In them [Paul's letters], however, are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unsteady are TWISTING, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, TO THEIR OWN DESTRUCTION."
Brothers, does this sound like the work or activity of the "Faithful and Discreet Slave" -- that Jesus promised would give his disciples "their food at the proper time?" Is it any wonder, as pointed out in chapter 4 of THE "REPORT," the Bible speaks of them [particularly the Governing Body] as the villianous "Man of Lawlessness" -- the "son of destruction," the traitor. -- 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12.
THE WRITINGS OF JEREMIAH HELP IN DATING BIBLICAL EVENTS
Actually, the fact that Jehovah had indeed given the dominant position of world rulership and kingdom to Babylon is consistent with what Jeremiah urged during his day, before the destruction of Jerusalem. We must remember that Jeremiah was made "prophet" to not only Jerusalem and its inhabitants, but also to the "nations." (Jeremiah 1:5, 10) Therefore, his message was not limited to Israel alone. The account says that he began his prophetic mission during the "thirteenth year" of Josiah's reign and continued as such until the "eleventh year of Zedekiah" when "Jerusalem went into exile." (Jeremiah 1:2, 3) It was during the reign of Zedekiah that Jeremiah continually urged the people to "come under the yoke of Babylon" and submit to his (Nebuchadnezzar's) rule. And this was certainly by the order of Jehovah. For notice how after instructing Jeremiah to "make for yourself bands and yoke bars" and send them to the "kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, Sidon and Judah" at Jeremiah 27:2-5, the prophet is to make clear this all important point at Jeremiah 27:6-8:
"`And now I myself have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, MY SERVANT; and even the wild beasts of the field I have given him to serve him. And all the nations must serve even him and his son and his grandson until the time even of his own land comes, and many nations and great kings must exploit him as a servant. And it must occur that the nation and the kingdom that will not serve him, even Nebuchadnezzar 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.'"
SEVENTY YEARS CALCULATED
Jeremiah 25:8-13 gives us the clue when it says:
"Therefore this is what Jehovah of armies has said, `for the reason that you did not obey my words, here I am sending and I will take all the families of the north,' is the utterance of Jehovah, `even sending to Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these nations round about; and I will devote them to destruction and make them an object of astonishment and something to whistle at and places devastated to time indefinite . . . 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.'"
"`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 Chaldeans, and I will make it desolate wastes to time indefinite. 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.'"
Yes, seventy years of world domination by Babylon. That's what Jeremiah prophesied about -- Babylon's subjugation of the surrounding nations for seventy years with Jerusalem included among them! It appears from all available evidence that this period ran from 609 to 539 BCE (the fall of Babylon). And again, who was to be affected by Jehovah's great change in events concerning world domination -- namely for seventy years? If you consider verses 17-26 of the same chapter you will plainly see:
`Jerusalem, the cities of Judah and her kings, her princes, Pharaoh the king of Egypt, all the kings of the land of Uz, the kings of the Philistines, Ashkelon and Gaza, Ekron, Ashdod, Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, Sidon, Dedan, Tema, Buz, Zimri, Elam, Medes, 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.'
Yes, the whole world!
THE QUESTION OF JEWISH EXILE AND CAPTIVITY
Therefore placing the time of the destruction of the temple is a relatively simple task when we let God's Word speak for itself. There is no conflict or lack of harmony with the sacred scriptures and the historical evidence we have today. Let us consider the evidence presented in the Bible.
First, the Bible record tells us when Daniel and the first exiles were taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar. At Daniel 1:1, 2 we read:
"In the third year of the kingship of Jehoiakim the king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and proceeded to lay siege to it. In time Jehovah gave into his hand Jehoiakim 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 Shinar to the house of his god; and the utensils he brought to the treasure-house of his god."
Also, verses 6 and 7 of the same chapter say:
"Now there happened to be among them some of the sons of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. And to them the principal court official went assigning names. So he assigned to Daniel [the name of] Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, Shadrach; and to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego."
Now, did you notice that Daniel is very specific in stating that he along with certain ones of the "sons of Israel and of the royal offspring and of the nobles" were taken captive in the third year of Jehoiakim? Did you see it?
Again, the Watchtower Society contests this plain Biblical fact in the publication Insight On The Scriptures Volume I, page 1269, paragraph 1, where it states:
"Second Kings 24:1 shows that Nebuchadnezzar brought pressure upon the Judean king `and so Jehoiakim became his servant [or vassal] for three years. However, he [Jehoiakim] turned back and rebelled against him [Nebuchadnezzer].' Evidently it is to this third year of Jehoiakim as a VASSAL king under Babylon that Daniel refers at Daniel 1:1. It could not be Jehoiakim's third year of his 11-year reign over Judah, for at that time Jehoiakim was a VASSAL, not to Babylon, but to Egypt's Pharaoh Necho."
Therefore, according to the Society, Daniel was taken not in the "third year of Jehoiakim," as he said, but he was taken captive actually in his third vassal year which really means his ELEVENTH YEAR. Now, what do you think of that explanation?
THE WATCHTOWER SOCIETY CONTRADICTS THE BIBLE AGAIN
Yes, this is just another example of the Watchtower Society's "special insight" into chronological matters. Again, we see that they are turning a very simple matter into a very complex and elaborate scheme to attempt to establish their own 'phony chronology.' Yes, again, let us remember the Watchtower Society is really stating that the account written by Daniel does not mean what it plainly says! However, the Bible, God's Word, the Holy Scriptures says it was in the THIRD YEAR of Jehoiakim's reign and that is exactly what it means! This is no difficult matter. Even a child of very tender age could understand what the Bible is plainly saying! Therefore, why is the Watchtower Society attempting to "twist" this plainly stated scripture? Is it any wonder the Society's chronology does not match up with the historical evidence of our time!
It was recently reported in the well-known magazine that less than 4 percent of all Jehovah's Witnesses are college educated. The survey taken ranks Jehovah's Witnesses among the lowest in all of America in this particular category. And certainly this is not surprising since this type of faulty door-to-door, house-to-house Bible teaching and instruction could indeed cause thinking, honest-hearted reasoning people like doctors, school teachers, college professors, archaeologists, scientists, historians, lawyers, or any person with some formal education to turn away from the teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses ALTOGETHER. And why?
Well, it is obvious. When these more informed individuals see the trickery, the mind-control phony antics of these pious, self-righteous leaders of the Watchtower Society on one hand, claiming to uphold God's Word before millions of people and on the other hand, actually contradicting the Bible itself, when it conflicts with some of their precious 1914 dogma -- they have to be repelled! The arrogance of these religious leaders is so obvious, that rather than admit that they are wrong, they would rather turn and contradict the Bible, the very source they claim to hold so dear. What disgusting hypocrites. And even those who are "ignorant" of these published viewpoints of the Watchtower Society, yes those uninformed "Jehovah's Witnesses" that go from door-to-door and thus continue to promulgate these false "Watchtower facts" in printed form throughout the land -- they too unwittingly, can cause reasonable, thinking persons (when a point like this is brought to their attention) to doubt the worthiness of even having a `religious preference,' as well as the integrity and honesty of individuals who would ascribe to such "fallacious words." Yes, we remember opening this discussion with the scripture at Phillippians 1:9,10 which says in gist: `do not continue stumbling others up to the day of Christ.' No, this brand of "chronology" cannot be pleasing to Jehovah in any form or fashion. It is as Jeremiah appropriately said:
"The wise ones have become ashamed. They have become terrified and will be caught. Look! They have rejected the very word of Jehovah, and what wisdom do they have?" -- Jeremiah 8:9
GOD'S WORD OR THE WATCHTOWER SOCIETY'S WORD -- WHICH DO YOU ACCEPT?
Therefore, all we need to do is accept what the Bible is saying at face-value. There is nothing complicated about that. So then, if we consider that Zedekiah ruled for eleven years, Jehoiachin ruled for three months and Jehoiakim ruled for eleven years, then we know that Daniel must have been taken captive in the last year of Nebuchadnezzar's being the Crown Prince. Historical records show that in the spring of 605/604 BCE the Crown Prince Nebuchadnezzar (his father Nabopolassar was king) attacked Egypt at Carchemish. After heavy losses on both sides, Egypt was decisively defeated and pursued through Syria by the Babylonian Army. Nabopolassar dies during this time and Nebuchadnezzar hastens to Babylon to claim the throne. -- See Babylon, by Joan Oates, page 128.
This historical record matches the Bible account as recorded by Jeremiah. Jeremiah 46:2 also shows this attack at Carchemish as taking place during the fourth year of Jehoiakim. However, the events of Daniel 1:1 were said to have occurred in the third year of Jehoiakim. And so, how do we resolve the seeming discrepancy between Daniel's account and Jeremiah's account? Simple.
These two events no doubt happened within months of each other, DURING THE SAME YEAR. Yes, during the same year. But you may be saying: "How could it be the same year when one account says it was the 4th year of Jehoiakim and the other account says it was the 3rd year of Jehoiakim?" Well, it is actually very simple to harmonize these two accounts. Let's pay close attention to the following:
Daniel, since writing his account in Babylon could very easily have used the Babylonian accession year system because this is the way the Babylonians counted their years. And Jeremiah could have used the Jewish non-ascension year system.
Thus, the capture of Daniel would have taken place approximately 20 years before Jerusalem was destroyed! And if Jerusalem had really been destroyed and actually laid desolate for 70 years before the Jews were released, and taking into account that Daniel must have been of some age when he interpreted the dream for Nebuchadnezzar in his second year -- that would place Daniel's age when appointed over 120 satraps in excess of 100 years old! This takes a great stretch of the imagination to believe if one is realistic about it. -- Daniel 6:1-3; Psalms 90:10
An important point to keep in mind is that starting from the time period that Daniel was taken captive and Solomon's glorious temple ws descrated until the time of the new temple foundation was laid (537 BCE) would be approximately a duration of 70 years -- from 607 BCE to 537 BCE. And with the temple destruction coming some 20 years after that happening (50 years before the Jews were released), it could be said that the Jewish people starting with Daniel's capture would see 70 years of "devastations" (from 607 BCE to 537 BCE). -- Daniel 9:2
But what about the Watchtower Society's quote of Josephus' writings which state that Jerusalem lay waste for 70 years before Cyrus' release of the Jewish nation?
It is interesting to note this observation made by Dr. Hudson on Josephus' writings and the timing of the temple destruction (Antiquities of the Jews, published by Kriegel publications) which says:
"But then it is true that in one of Josephus' last books of all, I mean his first book against Apion, Sect. 21, he gives us, from the Tyrian Annuals, a series of kings and judges down from Ithobaal and Nebuchadnezzar to Cyrus, amounting to 54 years and 3 months; wherein he says the temple lay waste, not 70 years, as he had formerly so often said, but only 50 years, which is very near the truth, by the Astronomical Canon itself, and may probably be his own correction in his old age."
607 BCE AS TEMPLE DESTRUCTION DATE
The Jewish nation was already in captivity during Jeremiah's time BEFORE Zedekiah was taken from the throne. This can be verified by considering a letter Jeremiah wrote as recorded at Jeremiah 29:1-3 where the letter was addressed to "priests, prophets, and all the people in exile." Jeremiah 29:4,7 also records the letter as stating:
"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 . . . 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."
And verse 10 makes this point:
"For this is what Jehovah has said, `In accord with the fulfilling for seventy years [for] Babylon I shall turn my attention to you people [already down there in exile], and I will establish toward you my good word in bringing you back to this place."
Therefore those people, already in exile would have to wait until the fulfillment of 70 years ran to it's completion before they would be released to return to their homeland! From checking the context we can see that Zedekiah was still on the throne and the temple had not been destroyed at this time. (Please consider verse 21) Therefore this would mean that the seventy year period spoken of by the mouth of Jeremiah had actually already started before the temple was destroyed! No, there could not have been a 70 year period that would run from the time of the TEMPLE DESTRUCTION up until the Jews were released from Babylon captivity in 537/536 BCE as the Watchtower Society has purported!
The temple must have been destroyed 20 years AFTER Daniel and others were taken captive [in the 3rd year of King Jehoiakim], and eleven years AFTER Ezekiel and many others of the nation were taken captive. (See Ezekiel 40:1) This would be exactly when historians place the destruction of the temple, around 50 years before the Jews were released, in 587/586 BCE. Yes, the Bible and secular history are both in agreement with this provable fact! The time periods we have discussed are as follows:
BUT WHAT ABOUT DANIEL 9:2 AND 2 CHRONICLES 36:21?
Therefore, it becomes quite apparent, from reading the accounts of Daniel 9:2 and 2 Chronicles 36:21, that both accounts clearly mention the fulfillment of a 70-year period running upon the Jews, or more accurately upon "Jerusalem" itself. Therefore, since both accounts cite as their source the "books"/the `writings of Jeremiah,' -- these writers under inspiration (Ezra who wrote 2nd Chronicles and Daniel), must have spiritually "discerned" from the writings of Jeremiah and the 70 year Babylonish domination, that the Jewish nation and land thereof would be "devastated" and/or "desolated" for a specific 70 year period, though the two 70 year periods need not coincide or run parallel in time fulfillment with the 70 years of Babylon's World Domination.
Remember, evidently when Daniel "discerned" this, it was not known to the Jewish nation just how long they would reside in captivity, and would be finally released back to their homeland to restore their worship system. Jeremiah's account (as mention at 29:10) merely states that `after Babylon has had a full 70 years...I will turn my attention to you people [Jewish nation.]' But the real question to the Jewish people was: how much longer after the collapse of the Neo-Babylonian Empire (in 539 BCE) would the Jewish people have to stay in captivity. That was the question.
Therefore, Daniel "discerned" the Jewish nation would see "desolations" and "devastations" upon "Jerusalem," for 70 years, starting with his captivity and first desecration of the temple in Jerusalem, in the 3rd year of Jehoiakim. Indeed, Daniel "discerned" approximately when the Jews would be released and free to go back to their homeland to start their worship again to Jehovah God. Again, that period of "devastations" and "desolations" upon Jerusalem, would run from 607 BCE thru 537 BCE. And this was no doubt "good news" to the Jewish people. No, it was not known until Daniel revealed it. Therefore, we see that there was a particular 70-year period that had run its course by the time of the Jewish nation's release from captivity to Babylon (Spring 538 BCE) with the remainder of the time needed to re-establish their worship system by the laying of the foundation of the Temple in 537 BCE, in the ninth month and 24th day of that month. Thus, the 70-year period would begin from the first desecration of the temple, when Daniel was taken captive, in 607 and continue up till 537, when the temple foundation was laid. -- Daniel 1:1, 2, 6; Ezra 3:1, 6, 8, 10; Haggai 2:18
ANOTHER 70 YEAR PERIOD
At Zechariah 7:5, we read of still a third 70-year period for the Jewish nation. It reads:
". . . Say to all the people of the land and to the priests, `When you fasted and there was wailing in the fifth [month] and in the seventh [month], and this for seventy years, did you really fast to me, even me?'"
Notice the comment made by the Watchtower Society on these verses in the book Aid to Bible Understanding, Page 339 par. 7 which says:
". . . Endeavoring to uphold this seventy-year temple destruction theory (supposedly running from 586 to 516 BCE), some scholars cite Zechariah 7:5-7. Jehovah there refers to the fasting done by the Jews in certain months of each year for seventy years. But nothing is said in this text as to this seventy-year period terminating with the completion of the rebuilt temple in 516/515 BCE. Rather it is quite evident that Jehovah is referring to the past practice of the Jews, when they fasted at those specific times during the seventy years prior to their return to Jerusalem and Judah in 537 BCE. This is evident also from the fact that these words were spoken in the "fourth year of Darius the king," whereas the temple was not completed until Darius' "sixth year." -- Ezra 6:15, Zechariah 7:1."
Yes, these words were spoken 2 years before the temple was completed. Nevertheless, is Zechariah really referring to a "past practice" of fasting? In other words, if we accept this viewpoint from the Society, this would mean that the 70 year period of "fasting" spoken of in Zechariah 7:5-7 occurred between 607 and 537 and therefore ENDED there!
If that is the case, then why does Zechariah record this message from Jehovah in the 8th chapter and verse 19. It states:
"This is what Jehovah of armies has said, "The fast of the fourth [month], and the fast of the fifth [month], and the fast of the seventh [month], and the fast of the tenth [month] will become for the house of Judah an exultation and a rejoicing and good festal seasons. So love truth and peace."
Clearly, the Jewish nation was still fasting, yes even two years before the temple was completed! However, Jehovah was saying that their fasting would be changed into fasting of "exultation" and fasting of "rejoicing and good festal seasons" -- Why? Because the temple would be completed shortly and true worship restored to its rightful place! Now that's something to rejoice about.
The main problem here for the Watchtower Society is that they ACCEPT the date for the temple being rebuilt as being 516/515 during Zechariah's day. Yes, this is a problem because no mention is made of Zechariah 1:12 which pointedly says:
"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?"
What "seventy years" is the angel talking about here? Yes, if Jerusalem had been fully "denounced" for "70 years," namely between 607 BCE and 537 BCE as the Society says, then why was there a 20 year delay in the rebuilding of the temple? And further, why were the Jews still "fasting" in the fifth, seventh and tenth month? The Jewish nation had been freed by Cyrus for close to twenty years! What was the problem? If the seventy years had been fully terminated as the Watchtower Society claims in 537 BCE, then why was there this twenty year delay?
And, why is Jehovah's angel stating here, some eighteen years after the fact, that Jerusalem `has been denounced these SEVENTY YEARS?' Surely, the angel is not confused concerning the time-frame of Jehovah's denunciation upon his own people, is he? Ridiculous, you say!
Therefore, this 70 year period must have extended beyond 537/536 BCE. Yes, this period continued even down to Zechariah's day, with the rebuilding of the temple in 516/517! Zechariah 1:12 certainly has to be taken into consideration. It cannot be so easily dismissed by any serious student of the Bible because it clearly refutes the presentation of the Watchtower Society on this subject.
Obviously, the Society does not want `their people' to begin to see that there are other "70-year periods" mentioned in the Bible since this may raise serious questions about their own brand of "chronology." It is also interesting to note that in the Bible dictionary that replaces the publication Aid to Bible Understanding where this quote is taken, (called Insight on the Scriptures), we do not find this discussion of Zechariah 7:5 at all. Why? You be the judge of that.
We do find instead the following statement in the "Insight" publication (Vol. I. Page 463) which says:
"The Bible prophecy (Jer. 25:8-11) does not allow for the application of the 70 year period to ANY TIME OTHER than that between the desolation of Judah, accompanying Jerusalem's destruction, and the return of the Jewish exiles to their homeland as a result of Cyrus' decree."
In other words, there can only be ONE "70-year desolation period" spoken of in the Bible for the Jewish nation. How very narrow-minded!
Again, if we use the historical and archaeological data available we find that 586 BCE is listed as the actual date for the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. Therefore, from 586 BCE to the building of the temple in 516 BCE we have another 70 year period that the temple actually lay in ruins! We find that the Bible DOES allow for more than one 70 year period of "desolations" or "devastations" that in some way touched the lives of the Jewish nation!
ONE FINAL THOUGHT: In the Watchtower Society's zealous effort to explain away obvious and plain facts and establish `their own' chronology, the New World Bible Translation Committee took another suspicious liberty in the rendering of Jeremiah 24:5-10. The 24th chapter explains how Jehovah God views the exiles in comparison to those yet remaining in Jerusalem. There is a convenient mistranslation particularly in verse 5 which says:
" . . . `Like these good figs, so I shall regard the exiles of Judah, whom I WILL SEND away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans, in a good way.'"
This gives the impression that the "good figs" have not as of yet been sent off to Babylon. It is something that will occur in the future.
However, notice how the New International Version of the Bible (as well as numerous other translations) render the verb tense of the word "send" in this verse:
" . . . `Like these good figs, I regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I SENT away from this place to the land of the Babylonians.'"
Consider also the Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible's rendering of this verse:
"Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the captives of Judah, whom I HAVE SENT out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans."
In fact, we have yet to find a single Bible that renders the verb in the future tense as does the New World Translation. Therefore, these captives are not the exiles taken to Babylon at the destruction of Jerusalem (as the New World Translation would lead one to believe), but are the exiles ALREADY IN BABYLON when Jerusalem is destroyed!
End of Part 1