Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the destruction of Jerusalem took place in 607BCE. Most secular historians point to 587/586BCE as the date for that destruction. Of course those who want to discredit Jehovah's Witnesses are quick to point this out in an attempt to disprove their application of the seven times prophecy. If the seven times began in 587BCE and not 607BCE then Jehovah's Witnesses must be wrong about 1914. But the real question for Bible believers is what does the Bible say concerning the destruction of Jerusalem? Can the Bible prove or disprove either date? Let us take a closer look using Bible prophecies and events.
When Did Nebuchadnezzar Begin His Reign
Jehovah's Witnesses agree with secular historians that 539BCE is the year in which Babylon was conquered by Medo-Persia. There is so much evidence that it is called an absolute date and there is no Biblical evidence that would contradict this date. But here is where the discrepancy comes in. Secular historians believe Neb (Nebuchadnezzar) began his reign in 605BCE. Jehovah's Witnesses believe his reign began in 625BCE. What accounts for the 20 year discrepancy?
Jehovah's Witnesses reason that the Jews returned to their homeland after Cyrus made his decree in his first year and Jerusalem at last became inhabited once again in 537BCE. Ezra 1:1 "And in the first year of Cyrus the king of Persia, that Jehovah’s word from 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 realm, and also in writing, saying:
2 “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. 3 Whoever there is among YOU of all his people, may his God prove to be with him. So let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of Jehovah the God of Israel—he is the [true] God—which was in Jerusalem." 607BCE is then arrived at by counting 70 years back from 537BCE in conjunction with prophecy of the 70 years of desolation.
Jeremiah 52:12 tells us exactly when Neb sacked Jerusalem, "And in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month, that is, [in] the nineteenth year of King Neb·u·chad·rez´zar, the king of Babylon, Neb·u´zar·ad´an the chief of the bodyguard, who was standing before the king of Babylon, came into Jerusalem. 13 And he proceeded to burn the house of Jehovah and the house of the king and all the houses of Jerusalem; and every great house he burned with fire. 14 And all the walls of Jerusalem, round about, all the military forces of the Chal·de´ans that were with the chief of the bodyguard pulled down." Since the destruction occurred in Neb's 19th year then we count 18 years back from 607BCE and we have the date that Neb began his rule, 625BCE.
On the other hand secular historians rely upon Babylonian inscriptions and tablets. They count back from 539BCE, piecing together the archaeological evidence, then adding together the years that they believe each king ruled. In this way they determine the year of 605BCE to be the first year of Neb's reign. Then they count forward 18 years and arrive at 587BCE as the year that Jerusalem was desolated.
The following evidence will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that 607BCE is the actual date of the desolation of Jerusalem. It will also prove that 587BCE cannot possibly be the date for that desolation. Let us now show you why that is the case.
Jerusalem Uninhabited for Seventy Years
The simple and basic reason for concluding that 607BCE is the correct date is found at Daniel 9 and 2 Chronicles 36. Daniel 9:2 tells us, "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 devastations of Jerusalem, [namely,] seventy years."
In Hebrew the word here used for 'devastations' is horvot. It merely means ruins. Here are some other Bible translations confirming this meaning.
"Jerusalem will lie in ruins for seventy years."--Contemporary English translation.
"the seventy years that Jerusalem would be in ruins"--Good News Bible.
"Jerusalem would remain in ruins for 70 years."--God's Word translation.
"fulfilling of the wastes of Jerusalem -- seventy years;"--Young's Literal Translation.
"the number of years that Jerusalem had to lie in ruins, namely, seventy." --The Message (MSG) translation
2 chron 36:20: "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."
The Hebrew words used here are SHAMA which means desolation, desert, wilderness, or a place where no one lives, and SHAVTA which usually means REST as in the case of no work being performed.
Here again are other translations.
"While it lay in ruins, the land had its 70 years of rest."--God's Word Translation.
"Judah was an empty desert, and it stayed that way for seventy years, to make up for all the years it was not allowed to rest."--Contenmporary English translation.
"For the seventy years that the land was not being used, the Day of Rest was kept. So the Days of Rest were enjoyed that had not been kept before."--New Life Version (NLV).
"It rested. That deserted land wasn't farmed for a full 70 years."--New International Reader's Version (NIRV).
"The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed."--New International Version - UK (NIVUK).
These verses leave us no doubt that Jerusalem would be devastated, desolated, uninhabited, in ruins, a wilderness, a wasteland, with no work being performed in the land for 70 years. Could 70 years have run from 587BCE to 517BCE? No! Impossible. By the year 517BCE as a reading of both Zechariah (written in 518BCE) and Haggai (written in 520BCE) will show the Jews had built houses, planted crops, and were working on the temple. Jerusalem had definitely been inhabited for some time before 517BCE. The 70 years of desolation thus occurred between 607BCE and 537BCE. This is actually the only period in time that the 70 year desolation period could have taken place.
But as further proof lets again return to 2 Chron 36. And read verses 20 onward: "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. 22 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.’”
You will please take note of the smooth logical flow of the verses, telling both the beginning and the ending of the 70 years of desolation. After telling of those last remaining ones, who survived the destruction by the sword, being carried off to Babylon in fulfillment of the 70 years of desolation the account proceeds to tell how and when the 70 years of desolation came to an end when Cyrus made his decree. This decree was given in Cyrus' first year in 538/537BCE. The Jews had reached there homeland by 537BCE and the 70 years of desolation was over.
Therefore 587BCE to 537BCE can not fit the prophecy because simple math tells us this is only 50 years. 587BCE to 517BCE does not fit the prophecy since Jerusalem was inhabited from 537BCE onward, even growing crops and building houses. A person must purposely twist the prophecy of the 70 years of desolation to try to make it fit between 587BCE and 517BCE.
However, there is much more proof that 607BCE is the only possible date for the desolating of Jerusalem. Before we get to that proof lets examine if the Bible dates associated with Kings Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah harmonize with this date of 607BCE.
The Rules of Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah
Does the 607 date fit with Bible history and chronology concerning the dates that Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah ruled? Contrary to what promoters of the 587 date say, 607 fits perfectly. Let me demonstrate.
628--Jehoiakim begins to rule. He reigns 11 years. 2 chron 36:5 tells us, "Twenty-five years old was Je·hoi´a·kim when he began to reign, and for eleven years he reigned in Jerusalem;"
625--Neb begins to rule. The first year of Neb = the fourth year of Jehoiakim. Jer. 25:1 confirms this: "The word that occurred to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Je·hoi´a·kim the son of Jo·si´ah, the king of Judah, that is, the first year of Neb·u·chad·rez´zar the king of Babylon;"
620--Jehoiakim is set up as a vassal king by Neb. 2 kings 24:1 "In his days Neb·u·chad·nez´zar the king of Babylon came up, and so Je·hoi´a·kim became his servant for three years. However, he turned back and rebelled against him."
617--Neb conquers and kills Jehoiakim. As the seige continues Jehoiachin, who reigns for only 3 months, is taken into exile. Zedekiah, the last king, begins his 11 year rule. Many Jews are taken into captivity, including Ezekiel, Daniel, and Jehoiachin, as are the utensils of Jehovah's house. There are 3 separate scriptures describing this event. Lets examine each of them.
Dan 1:1 "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. 3 Then the king said to Ash´pe·naz his chief court official to bring some of the sons of Israel and of the royal offspring and of the nobles, 4 children in whom there was no defect at all,"
2 Kings 24:12 "At length Je·hoi´a·chin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he with his mother and his servants and his princes and his court officials; and the king of Babylon got to take him in the EIGHTH year of his being king. 13 Then he brought out from there all the treasures of the house of Jehovah and the treasures of the king's house, and went on to cut to pieces all the gold utensils that Sol´o·mon the king of Israel had made in the temple of Jehovah, just as Jehovah had spoken. 14 And he took into exile all Jerusalem and all the PRINCES and all the valiant, mighty men, ten thousand he was taking into exile, and also every craftsman and builder of bulwarks. NO ONE HAD BEEN LEFT BEHIND EXCEPT THE LOWLY CLASS of the people of the land. 15 Thus he took Je·hoi´a·chin into exile to Babylon; and the king's mother and the king's wives and his COURT OFFICIALS and the FOREMOST MEN of the land he led away as exiled people from Jerusalem to Babylon."
2Chron 36:5 "Twenty-five years old was Je·hoi´a·kim when he began to reign, and for ELEVEN years he reigned in Jerusalem; and he continued to do what was bad in the eyes of Jehovah his God. 6 Against him Neb·u·chad·nez´zar the king of Babylon came up that he might bind him with two fetters of copper to carry him off to Babylon. 7 And some of the utensils of the house of Jehovah Neb·u·chad·nez´zar brought to Babylon and then put them in his palace in Babylon. 8 As for the rest of the affairs of Je·hoi´a·kim and his detestable things that he did and what was to be found against him, there they are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah; and Je·hoi´a·chin his son began to reign in place of him. 9 Eighteen years old was Je·hoi´a·chin when he began to reign, and for three months and ten days he reigned in Jerusalem; and he continued to do what was bad in Jehovah's eyes. 10 And at the return of the year King Neb·u·chad·nez´zar sent and proceeded to bring him to Babylon with DESIRABLE ARTICLES of the house of Jehovah. Further, he made Zed·e·ki´ah his [father's] brother king over Judah and Jerusalem."
The dates and the events described in all 3 accounts above compliment one another. Daniel often spoke from the perspective of Babylon because of his being exiled there at the time of his writing the book named after himself. (More on this later). And so he describes it as being in Jehoiakim's 3rd year that he is conquered because Daniel speaks from the time that Jehoiakim was made a vassal king of Neb. It clearly shows he was conquered in this 3rd year and yet the Bible says he reigned for 11 years. This leaves no doubt what Daniel meant when he said 'In the THIRD year of the kingship of Je·hoi´a·kim'.
Jeremiah also confirms this in chapter 27. Verses 19-21: "For this is what Jehovah of armies has said concerning the pillars and concerning the sea and concerning the carriages and concerning the remainder of the utensils that are remaining over in this city, 20 that Neb·u·chad·nez´zar the king of Babylon had not taken when he carried Jec·o·ni´ah the son of Je·hoi´a·kim, the king of Judah, into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, together with all the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem; 21 for this is what Jehovah of armies, the God of Israel, has said concerning the utensils that are remaining over at the house of Jehovah and the house of the king of Judah and Jerusalem,
So you see from the Bible ALL the nobles (this would include Daniel) were taken when Jeconiah who is Jehoiachin were taken into exile in Neb's 8th year and Jehoiakim's 3rd year of vassalage to Neb or 11th and final year of rule. There is no record in the Bible or in secular history that says otherwise.
In summary the dates all harmonize and took place in 617BCE. Jehoiakim's 11th and final year = his 3rd year as vassal king under Neb = Neb's 8th year = Jehoiachins 3 month rule = Zedekiah's 1st year.
Jer. 52:28 also confirms this, "These are the people whom Neb·u·chad·rez´zar took into exile: in the seventh year, three thousand and twenty-three Jews. 29 In the eighteenth year of Neb·u·chad·rez´zar, from Jerusalem there were eight hundred and thirty-two souls. 30 In the twenty-third year of Neb·u·chad·rez´zar, Neb·u´zar·ad´an the chief of the bodyguard took Jews into exile, seven hundred and forty-five souls."
Notice that he took exiles the 7th year (7th full year. During 8th year as described in 2 Kings 24), and in his 18th year (Again described as 19th year in Jer. 52).
607--Zedekiah's 11th and final year of ruling. 2 Chronicles 36:11, "Twenty-one years old was Zed·e·ki´ah when he began to reign, and for eleven years he reigned in Jerusalem." Jeremiah 52:5, "So the city came under siege until the eleventh year of King Zed·e·ki´ah.
607--Neb's 19th year is when Jerusalem is destroyed. Jer 52:12, 13, "And in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month, that is, [in] the nineteenth year of King Neb·u·chad·rez´zar, the king of Babylon, Neb·u´zar·ad´an the chief of the bodyguard, who was standing before the king of Babylon, came into Jerusalem. 13 And he proceeded to burn the house of Jehovah and the house of the king and all the houses of Jerusalem; and every great house he burned with fire."
Yes the Bible's dates concerning Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, Zedekiah, and Neb all harmonize in every way when assigning the date of 607BCE as the year of Jerusalem's desolation.
See chart @ http://www.jehovahsjudgment.co.uk/research/media/kings_with_data.png
Daniel's Exile in Jehoiakim's 3rd Year
There are some that make the claim that Daniel was in Babylon during Neb's 2nd year as sole ruler of the Babylonian empire because he went into exile in Jehoiakim's third year of ruling over Judah, some 8 years before Jehoiakim's rulership ended. They reason that if Neb began to rule in 625BCE and Jehoiakim in 628BCE as Jehovah's Witnesses believe, then Daniel was there in exile by 625/24BCE. That would make him well over 100 years of age when he died since he lived under the rule of Cyrus and Darius after Babylon was conquered. His life span would have ran from about 640BCE to 535BCE. Impossible! So Jehovah's Witnesses chronology would have to be wrong since Daniel could not have lived that long and served in the court of Darius. But lets examine what the Bible really says about Daniel's exile and time in Babylon.
One of the controversial scriptures is Daniel 1:1: "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." Note that it is Neb the king who does the conquering and takes the exiles.
Among these exiles is Daniel because Daniel 1:6 says, "Now there happened to be among them some of the sons of Judah, Daniel, Han·a·ni´ah, Mish´a·el and Az·a·ri´ah." But look at verse 5, "Furthermore, to them the king appointed a daily allowance from the delicacies of the king and from his drinking wine, even to nourish them for three years, that at the end of these they might stand before the king." That would make at least 3 years that Daniel has been in captivity, right?
But now notice Daniel 1:18: "And at the end of the days that the king had said (the end of 3 years) to bring them in, the principal court official also proceeded to bring them in before Neb·u·chad·nez´zar. 19 And the king began to speak with them, and out of them all no one was found like Daniel, "
And now the other controversial scripture, Daniel 2:1, "And in the second year of the kingship of Neb·u·chad·nez´zar, Neb·u·chad·nez´zar dreamed dreams;" This is one of the dreams that Daniel interpreted. Ah, convincing proof that Daniel was there in the 2nd year of King Neb. But wait, Daniel has already been there at least 3 years under Neb's rule, how can it be that he is interpreting the king's dream in only his 2nd year of ruling? It would at least be his 3rd year. Then why does Daniel write that it was in the 'second year of the kingship' of Neb?
It is because as mentioned earlier Daniel is speaking from the perspective of the Jews coming under Neb's rule and no longer having a King to rule over Israel just as he had previously spoken of Jehoiakim's 11th year as his 3rd year. Do we have any further reason to believe that Daniel would date the rulership of kings from this same perspective?
Yes we do. Here is the further proof: At Daniel 10:1, Daniel dates the rule of Cyrus in the same way. Notice he says, "In the third year of Cyrus the king of Persia there was a matter revealed to Daniel,..." Cyrus actually began to rule Persia around 560 BCE. Does this mean that Daniel was in exile in 557 BCE at Persia under Cyrus in his 'third year'? It can't be. Daniel was in exile at Babylon from before Jerusalem was desolated until Babylon was conquered in 539BCE. How could he be in exile in Persia in 557BCE and at the same time be in exile in Babylon? This clearly shows us that Daniel is without a doubt speaking from his perspective as an exile under Babylon's rule. This was the 3rd year of Cyrus' rule since his conquering of Babylon. Not the third year since Cyrus began to rule Persia. This would be the year 536/535BCE. Daniel uses that same perspective when alluding to the 2nd year of Neb. It is the 2nd year of Neb since he conquered Jerusalem. That '2nd year' would be from the time that Neb became king over Jerusalem in 607BCE, therefore the year would be 605BCE not 624BCE.
Do other events in the Bible concerning Jehoiakim prove that Daniel was speaking of Jehoiakim's third year since becoming a vassal king of Neb rather than his actual third year of ruling over Judah? Yes they do. Consider the following as further proof.
The Bible tells us that Jehoiakim was under Egypt's rule and a vassal king of Pharaoh Necho until Necho was defeated by Neb. 2 Kings 23:34, "Furthermore, Phar´aoh Ne´choh made E·li´a·kim the son of Jo·si´ah king in place of Jo·si´ah his father and changed his name to Je·hoi´a·kim; and Je·ho´a·haz he took and then brought to Egypt, where he eventually died. 35 And the silver and the gold Je·hoi´a·kim gave to Phar´aoh. Only he taxed the land, to give the silver at the order of Phar´aoh."
When did Neb defeat Necho? Jeremiah 46:2 provides the answer, "For Egypt, concerning the military force of Phar´aoh Ne´cho the king of Egypt, who happened to be by the river Eu·phra´tes at Car´che·mish, whom Neb·u·chad·rez´zar the king of Babylon defeated in the fourth year of Je·hoi´a·kim the son of Jo·si´ah, the king of Judah" Since it wasnt until Jehoiakim's 4th year that Neb defeated Necho then how is it that Neb placed Jehoiakim as his vassal king and took exiles in his Jehoiakim's third year even before he defeated Necho? Jehoiakim was still under Necho until after Neb defeated Necho.
But you may be surprised that there is even more proof. Jer 36 gives us further indication that during Jehoiakim's fifth year he was still not under Neb's vassalage. Notice verse 1, "Now it came about in the fourth year of Je·hoi´a·kim the son of Jo·si´ah, the king of Judah, that this word occurred to Jeremiah from Jehovah, saying: 2 “Take for yourself a roll of a book, and you must write in it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel and against Judah and against all the nations, since the day that I spoke to you, since the days of Jo·si´ah, clear down to this day. 3 Perhaps those of the house of Judah will listen to all the calamity that I am thinking of doing to them, to the end that they may return, each one from his bad way, and that I may actually forgive their error and their sin.”
You will take note that apparently no punishment has come upon Judah as of yet. There is still time to repent and be forgiven. No exiles have been taken. No calamity has arrived as of yet. And this is in the 4th year of Jehoiakim's reign.
But the story continues. Jeremiah 36:9 "Now it came about in the fifth year of Je·hoi´a·kim the son of Jo·si´ah, the king of Judah, in the ninth month, that all the people in Jerusalem and all the people that were coming in from the cities of Judah into Jerusalem proclaimed a fast before Jehovah." Notice it is now the 5th year of Jehoiakim.
14 Then all the princes sent out to Bar´uch Je·hu´di the son of Neth·a·ni´ah the son of Shel·e·mi´ah the son of Cush´i, saying: “The roll from which you read aloud in the ears of the people—take it in your hand and come.” Accordingly Bar´uch the son of Ne·ri´ah took the roll in his hand and came in to them. 15 Then they said to him: “Sit down, please, and read it aloud in our ears.” So Bar´uch read aloud in their ears." What? How can this be? 'All the princes' sent out to Baruch? Didn't some of the princes already go into exile in Jehoiakim's third year?
When the words are read to Jehoiakim notice which part he especially takes exception to. 29 "And against Je·hoi´a·kim the king of Judah you should say,‘This is what Jehovah has said: “You yourself have burned up this roll, saying, ‘Why is it that you have written on it, saying: “The king of Babylon will come without fail and will certainly bring this land to ruin and cause man and beast to cease from it”?’ If in his third year Jehoiakim had already bowed to Neb and become a vassal king of his then why does he become so angry about it and burn the roll in the fire?
Jeremiah concludes with this pronouncement. 30 "Therefore this is what Jehovah has said against Je·hoi´a·kim the king of Judah, ‘He will come to have no one sitting upon the throne of David, and his own dead body will become something thrown out to the heat by day and to the frost by night. 31 And I will call to account against him and against his offspring and against his servants their error, and I will bring upon them and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem and upon the men of Judah all the calamity that I have spoken against them, and they did not listen.’”’”
The further prophecying by Jeremiah about Neb shows that Neb had not yet taken action at all against Jerusalem. He had taken no exiles and that is why there is no record of Neb taking exiles before or shortly after he defeated Pharaoh Necho. The fact that Jehoiakim is so bold and brazen shows that Neb had not assaulted Jerusalem yet. There is absolutely no mention of what Neb had already done to Judah. No mention of him already taking exiles. The calamity is yet future. The assault on Jerusalem is yet future. It was not until Neb's 8th year which was Jehoiakim's 11th and final year and his third year as Neb's vassal king that captives were taken. That is what the Bible clearly shows us.
Here is the Bible record stating exactly when Neb took Jewish exiles as we have previously noted. Again look at Jer. 52:28. "These are the people whom Neb·u·chad·rez´zar took into exile: in the seventh year, three thousand and twenty-three Jews. 29 In the eighteenth year of Neb·u·chad·rez´zar, from Jerusalem there were eight hundred and thirty-two souls. 30 In the twenty-third year of Neb·u·chad·rez´zar, Neb·u´zar·ad´an the chief of the bodyguard took Jews into exile, seven hundred and forty-five souls." Notice there is no mention of Jewish exiles being taken to Babylon before the 7th year of Neb. There is no record at all of exiles being taken in Neb's first year. So reasoning on the matter, if exiles were first taken by Neb in his 7th year of his rule, as the Bible shows, then how could Daniel possibly be there in Babylon to interpret Neb's dream in the 2nd year of his actual rule?
The fact is that Daniel was taken into exile at the same time as both Ezekiel and Jehoiachin around the year 617BCE when the first exiles were taken. Thus he would have still been under 100 years of age when he served under both Cyrus and Darius. He would have lived from about 630BCE to 535BCE. This would easily have been possible for a man of that day and age, especially a man full of God's spirit, having Jehovah's support. The argument that Daniel would have been too old has no merit whatsoever.
Hoshea's Reign Counted from His Vassalship to Assyria
Jeremiah's account of the rule of Hoshea provides an example and sets a precedent to show that Bible writers did indeed sometimes start the rule of kings from the time of their becoming a vassal king to another nation. It shows that it is not unreasonable nor is it twisting the scriptures to say that Jehoiakim's 3rd year in Daniel was his 3rd year as vassal king. This exact Bible example is found in 2 kings.
2 kings 15:27 "In the fifty-second year of Az·a·ri´ah the king of Judah, Pe´kah the son of Rem·a·li´ah became king over Israel in Sa·mar´i·a for twenty years. 30 Finally Ho·she´a the son of E´lah formed a conspiracy against Pe´kah the son of Rem·a·li´ah and struck him and put him to death; and he began to reign in place of him
2 kings 16:1 In the seventeenth year of Pe´kah the son of Rem·a·li´ah, A´haz the son of Jo´tham the king of Judah became king."
We here learn that Hoshea began reigning after Pekah ruled for 20 years. Ahaz began ruling in Pekah's 17th year. We can conclude that Hoshea therefore began ruling in Ahaz's 3rd or 4th year. Of this there can be no doubt. But wait! Look!
2 Kings 17:1 "In the twelfth year of A´haz the king of Judah, Ho·she´a the son of E´lah became king in Sa·mar´i·a over Israel for nine years."
Uh oh. We have a problem. Ahaz's 12th year should be Hoshea's 9th year, but no it is his first year. Hoshea should have ruled 18 years not 9 years. What is going on? Is Jeremiah so stupid that he can not add? Does he not know how to count the reigns of Kings? Has he become like Daniel in his 'ignorance' with how to count the reigns of kings? That is the same accusations made against JWs concerning 'the third year of Jehoiakim'.
Does the Bible provide an answer? Why, yes it does. Continue reading in chapter 17 of 2 Kings: "3 It was against him that Shal·man·e´ser the king of As·syr´i·a came up, and Ho·she´a came to be his servant and began to pay tribute to him." Surely this must be wrong. Hoshea's reign is being counted by Jeremiah from the time that he became a vassal king of Assyria. How can this be?
Jeremiah was inspired just like Daniel. If Jeremiah started counting a king's rule from the time he became a vassal king then Daniel could surely and apparently when examining the whole of the Bible did do the same. I wonder: if its ok for Jeremiah to do that would it be ok for Daniel to do the same?
And make no mistake all the years fit perfectly. Jeremiah just left out the first 9 years of Hoshea and began counting when he became a vassal king thus saying that he ruled 9 years. Perhaps Jehovah's Witnesses may not be so ridiculous and wicked after all for believing that Jehoiakim's third year in Daniel 1:1 is his third year as a vassal king to Babylon.
778 ISRAEL: Pekah rules 20 years--2 kings 15:27
777 JUDAH: Jotham rules 16 years--2 king 15:32-33
762 JUDAH: Ahaz becomes king in the 17th year of Pekah, rules 16 years--2 kings 16:1,2
758 ISRAEL: Hoshea assassinated Pekah. Hoshea rules 18 years. This is also 4th year of Ahaz and the 20th year since Jotham first became king--2 kings 15:30
749 ISRAEL: Hoshea in the 12th year of Ahaz becomes vassal king to Assyria and rules 9 more years as such-- 2 kings 17:1.
746 JUDAH: Hezekiah becomes king in the third year of Hoshea (12th year from beginning of his rule) and rules 29 years--2 kings 18:1,2
740 ISRAEL: Hoshea's rule ends in his 9th year as vassal king (18th overall year as king) and in Hezekiah's 6th year--2 kings 18:10
Dates are appoximations and may be off a year due to accession/regnal years.
Since Ezekiel gives many prophecies in connection with the destruction of Jerusalem it is vital that we establish exactly when Ezekiel was taken into exile. At Ezekiel 40:1 we read, "In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, in the start of the year, on the tenth [day] of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city had been struck down, on this very same day the hand of Jehovah proved to be upon me." So here we can definitely establish that Ezekiel was in exile some 11 years before the destruction of Jerusalem. Using secular chronology this would be 597/598BCE. Using Jehovah's Witnesses' chronology this would be 617/618 BCE which incidentally would coincide with Daniel's exile as well. Keep these dates in mind because they are vital for the rest of our discussion.
Egypt's Forty Year Desolation
Ezekiel prophecied that Nebuchadnezzar would plunder and desolate Egypt and he even showed how long that desolation would last. This prophecy is key in establishing when the desolation of Jerusalem took place. Part of that prophecy was made in the 27th year of Ezekiel's exile.
Ezekiel 29:17: "Now it came about in the twenty-seventh year, in the first [month], on the first [day] of the month, that the word of Jehovah occurred to me, saying: 18 “Son of man, Neb·u·chad·rez´zar himself, the king of Babylon, made his military force perform a great service against Tyre. Every head was one made bald, and every shoulder was one rubbed bare. But as for wages, there proved to be none for him and his military force from Tyre for the service that he had performed against her. 19 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘Here I am giving to Neb·u·chad·rez´zar the king of Babylon the land of Egypt, and he must carry off its wealth and make a big spoil of it and do a great deal of plundering of it; and it must become wages for his military force.’ 20 “‘As his compensation for service that he did against her I have given him the land of Egypt, because they acted for me,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah."
Lets count 27 years from 597/598 BCE (the date of Ezekiel's exile according to secular chronology). This would bring us to 570BCE. Counting 27 years from 617/618BCE would bring us to 590BCE according to Jehovah's Witnesses' chronology. These dates are very important when considering the prophecy that Ezekiel made about the land of Egypt and how long it would be desolated.
According to the prophecy of Ezekiel, Egypt was to be desolated for 40 years. Notice Ezekiel 29:12: " And I will make the land of Egypt a desolate waste in the midst of desolated lands; and its own cities will become a desolate waste in the very midst of devastated cities for FORTY years; and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations and disperse them among the lands.”
Make no mistake. These are not two separate and distinct prophecies. It is indeed King Neb who would cause the 40 years of desolation upon Egypt. Ezekiel 30 ties it all together in verse 10: “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘I will also cause the crowd of Egypt to cease by the hand of Neb·u·chad·rez´zar the king of Babylon. 11 He and his people with him, the tyrants of [the] nations, are being brought in to reduce the land to ruin. And they must draw their swords against Egypt and fill the land with the slain. 12 And I will make the Nile canals dry ground and will sell the land into the hand of bad men, and I will cause the land and its fullness to be desolated by the hand of strangers. I myself, Jehovah, have spoken.’"
So now lets take the dates using secular chronology. Ezekiel made the prophecy in 570BCE so the desolation had to take place sometime after that date. Vat 4956, the one that establishes the 37th year of Neb which secular history believes to be 568BCE also talks about Neb's campaign against Egypt. So using secular chronology Neb desolated Egypt in 568, his 37th year. That is when the 40 year desolation would have begun and it would have ended in 528 BCE. But wait, Cyrus let all the exiles go in 537BCE. Did he decree that all exiles could leave, except Egyptians? Also historical records show that Egypt actually had an alliance with the last Babylon King, Nabonidus, before the destruction of Babylon in 539BCE. Therefore, Egypt had been repatriated even before 539BCE. From 568BCE until 539BCE is less than 30 years. How is it that Egypt could have been desolated for 40 years? It is absolutely and positively impossible. Therefore 587BCE as the date for the destruction of Jerusalem simply cannot be if the Bible is to be believed.
Now lets take it using the date of 607BCE. Ezekiel would have made the prophecy in 590BCE. The 37th year of Neb's reign would be the year 588BCE. That would also be the year that Egypt was desolated. Now lets allow for the 40 years of desolation and we arrive at the year 548BCE. There is plenty of time for the 40 year desolation of Egypt to take place before their restoration sometime before 539BCE.
It is not surprising that Egyptian records do not contain any references to a 40 year desolation at that time just as they do not record the Hebrew's exodus from Egypt almost one thousand years earlier. But what is amazing is that secular history does record an alliance between King Nabonidus of Babylon and King Amasis of Egypt in the year 547BCE, one year after the 40 year desolation would have ended. It harmoniously fits in perfectly with true Bible prophecies and chronology.
The Seventy Year Prophecy for Tyre
Ezekiel 26:1 tells us about a prophecy that was to be fulfilled upon Tyre, "And it came about in the eleventh year, on the first [day] of the month, that the word of Jehovah occurred to me, saying: 2 “Son of man, for the reason that Tyre has said against Jerusalem, ‘Aha! She has been broken, the doors of the peoples! The trend will certainly be to me. I shall be filled—she has been devastated,’ 3 therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘Here I am against you, O Tyre, and I will bring up against you many nations, just as the sea brings up its waves. 4 And they will certainly bring the walls of Tyre to ruin and tear down her towers, and I will scrape her dust away from her and make her a shining, bare surface of a crag."
Here we can establish that Ezekiel made this prophecy in 587/586BCE according to secular chronology or 607/606BCE according to Jehovah's Witnesses. This is again an important date for the prophet Isaiah expands on this prophecy and gives us further details about a 70 year prophecy to be fulfilled upon Tyre.
Isa 23:13 "Look! The land of the Chal·de´ans. This is the people—As·syr´i·a did not prove to be [the one]—they founded her for the desert haunters. They have erected their siege towers; they have stripped bare her dwelling towers; one has set her as a crumbling ruin. 14 Howl, YOU ships of Tar´shish, for YOUR stronghold has been despoiled. 15 "And it must occur in that day that Tyre must be forgotten seventy years, the same as the days of one king. At the end of seventy years it will happen to Tyre as in the song of a prostitute: 16 “Take a harp, go around the city, O forgotten prostitute. Do your best at playing on the strings; make your songs many, in order that you may be remembered.17 And it must occur at the end of seventy years that Jehovah will turn his attention to Tyre, and she must return to her hire and commit prostitution with all the kingdoms of the earth upon the surface of the ground.18 And her profit and her hire must become something holy to Jehovah. It will not be stored up, nor be laid up, because her hire will come to be for those dwelling before Jehovah, for eating to satisfaction and for elegant covering. "
Now lets return again to Ezekiel 26 and see how it coincides with the prophecy of Isaiah: 7 “For this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘Here I am bringing against Tyre Neb·u·chad·rez´zar the king of Babylon from the north, a king of kings, with horses and war chariots and cavalrymen and a congregation, even a multitudinous people. 8 Your dependent towns in the field he will kill even with the sword, and he must make against you a siege wall and throw up against you a siege rampart and raise up against you a large shield;"
Looking at both prohecies we see that Tyre will be sieged by Babylon, by Nebuchadnezzar, and for 70 years Tyre will be forgotten and not hired commercially speaking. This does not mean Tyre would be desolated for 70 years but would merely be forgotten in a business sense. Secular historians will try to tell us that the seige of Tyre began shortly after the desolation of Jerusalem around 587/586BCE. The 70 years would therefore end in 517/516BCE. But wait again, notice Ezra 3:1 actually tells us when the 70 years on Tyre were fulfilled, "When the seventh month arrived the sons of Israel were in [their] cities. And the people began to gather themselves as one man to Jerusalem. 7 And they proceeded to give money to the cutters and to the craftsmen, and eatables and drink and oil to the Si·do´ni·ans and the Tyr´i·ans, to bring cedar timbers from Leb´a·non to the sea at Jop´pa, according to the permission granted by Cyrus the king of Persia to them."
This event happened in 537BCE or 536BCE only 50 or so years after the seige of Tyre if 587BCE is to be accepted. The scripture in Isaiah was fulfilled at this time concerning the hiring of Tyre for Jehovah. Remember Isaiah 23:18 said, "And her profit and her hire must become something holy to Jehovah." Because Tyre was suppying cedar timbers for Jerusalem it was a holy work performed by Tyre.
Therefore the 587BCE date cannot be correct. Tyre could not have been sieged in 586BCE because that does not allow for 70 years to pass before Tyre is hired to provide timbers in the building work at Jerusalem. No, the siege of Tyre could have only taken place in 607/606BCE shortly after the true date of the destruction of Jersusalem in 607BCE. Counting 70 years from 607/606BCE we arrive just in the right year, 537/536BCE when the timbers were supplied for Jehovah's rebuilding work after the Jews had returned to Jerusalem.
Chart for 70 year prophecy on Tyre: http://jehovahsjudgment.co.uk/research/media/tyre.png
The 70 Year Servitude of the Nations to Babylon Beginning with Neb
Jer 25:1: The word that occurred to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Je·hoi´a·kim the son of Jo·si´ah, the king of Judah, that is, the first year of Neb·u·chad·rez´zar the king of Babylon; 2 which Jeremiah the prophet spoke concerning all the people of Judah and concerning all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying:
8 "Therefore this is what Jehovah of armies has said, ?"For the reason that YOU did not obey my words, 9 here I am sending and I will take all the families of the north," is the utterance of Jehovah, "even [sending] to Neb·u·chad·rez´zar 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. 10 And I will destroy out of them the sound of exultation and the sound of rejoicing, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the hand mill and the light of the lamp. 11 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."'
You will note that the prophecy is made after Neb has become king in his first year and in the 4th year of Jehoiakim. Popular chronology would say this was 605BCE. 605BCE to 539BCE is only 66 years. It would therefore be impossible for the nations to serve Babylon beginning with Neb for 70 years.
Some will try to point to 609BCE as the year that this 70 year servitude began with Neb's father. But the Bible verses quoted above say otherwise. Jeremiah chapter 27 also confirms that it would be Neb, his son, and his grandson that the nations would serve, not his father.
Jer. 27:1: In the beginning of the kingdom of Je·hoi´a·kim the son of Jo·si´ah, the king of Judah, this word occurred to Jeremiah from Jehovah, saying: 2 "This is what Jehovah has said to me, ?Make for yourself bands and yoke bars, and you must put them upon your neck. 3 And you must send them to the king of E´dom and to the king of Mo´ab and to the king of the sons of Am´mon and to the king of Tyre and to the king of Si´don by the hand of the messengers who are coming to Jerusalem to Zed·e·ki´ah the king of Judah. 4 And you must give them a command for their masters, saying:
"?"This is what Jehovah of armies, the God of Israel, has said; this is what YOU should say to YOUR masters, 5 ?I myself have made the earth, mankind and the beasts that are upon the surface of the earth by my great power and by my stretched-out arm; and I have given it to whom it has proved right in my eyes. 6 And now I myself have given all these lands into the hand of Neb·u·chad·nez´zar the king of Babylon, my servant; and even the wild beasts of the field I have given him to serve him. 7 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.'
The Bible makes it very clear that the 70 years of serving Babylon by the nations would begin during the rule of Nebuchadnezzar. Interestingly JWs and the Bible have no problem with this since according to both the evidence shows that he began his rule around 625BCE not 605BCE. Further proof that 587 is incorrect.
Zechariah's References to Seventy Years
Zechariah 1:12 says, "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?”
Zechariah 7:5 says, “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?"
Since Zechariah covers the time period between 520BCE and 518BCE proponents of the 587 date point to these two references in Zechariah in an attempt to prove that the 70 years had not yet ended at this time and would not end until 517BCE. But a closer look at the context will help us see why this argument is incorrect.
In the first few verses chapter one Jehovah warns the people not to become like their fathers who did not listen and received punishment. The repatriated Jews needed to show zeal in the building work that lay ahead.
Next Zechariah's vision shows horses walking about in the earth. Notice the report that they bring back in verse 11, “We have walked about in the earth, and, look! the whole earth is sitting still and having no disturbance.”
The report shows that the nations are unconcerned about the building project taking place in Jerusalem. They feel they have nothing to fear from the Jews. Jehovah has not yet executed vengence upon all of those nations who laughed and scoffed at Judah. The temple has not even been finished and the work has been neglected.
Thus the angel ask in verse 12, “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?”
Reason on the matter, why would the angel ask 'how long' when the exact length of time was already known to be 70 years? The only reason for asking was because the 70 years had ended and yet by all appearances the 70 years of denunciation was continuing. In other words, were the 70 years of desolation not enough? Will Jehovah continue to not show favor just like he did during the 70 years of desolation?
The answer comes as recorded in verse 13-17. "And Jehovah proceeded to answer the angel who was speaking with me, with good words, comforting words; 14 ...“I have been jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with great jealousy. 15 With great indignation I am feeling indignant against the nations that are at ease; ...16 My own house will be built in her, ...My cities will yet overflow with goodness;” Yes, Jehovah will show favor. Jerusalem and the temple will be rebuilt and blessings will flow to God's people.
Now lets look at Zechariah chapter 7. Throughout the 70 years of desolation and beyond the Jews had kept festivals of fasting commemorating their sorrow over the destruction of Jerusalem. So men from Bethel are sent to ask Zechariah, “Shall I (we the people of Bethel) weep in the fifth month, practicing an abstinence, the way I have done these O how many years?” Notice that they do not specify that it was 70 years only. For the commemoration had continued on now for an additional 17 years.
The answer then comes from Jehovah in verses 5-7, “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? 6 And when YOU would eat and when YOU would drink, were not YOU the ones doing the eating, and were not YOU the ones doing the drinking? 7 [Should YOU] not [obey] the words that Jehovah called out by means of the former prophets, while Jerusalem happened to be inhabited, and at ease, with her cities all around her,"
Jehovah's words are merely pointing out how much better obedience in the first place would have been than the later fasting over the calamity. Notice that God's words actually takes them back in time and reminds them that if they would have been obedient when the land was still inhabited before that calamity, then the 70 years of desolation would not have occurred. If the the fastings and commemorations were really for Jehovah rather than their own sorrow they would be obedient. And so the rest of the chapter reminds them of just why the desolation came upon them.
When we look at the context, coupled with the previous information that the land was to be desolated, uninhabited, ruined, and a wilderness for 70 years, we can see that Zechariah is not contradicting the other Bible prophecies at all.
539 or 587
Some have suggested that perhaps it is the date of 539BCE as the year of Babylon's overthrow that is incorrect rather than 587BCE as the date of Jerusalem's destruction. Perhaps Babylon was really conquered in 519BCE and the Jews returned to their homeland in 517BCE. Aside from the archaeological evidence why 539BCE is correct (and their is much evidence of that fact) lets consider why this is not in accord with logical reasoning.
If Babylon was conquered in 519BCE and the 70 years desolation then ended in 517BCE this would mean that every event after Babylon's overthrow would have to be pushed forward 20 years since most dates thereafter are based on 539BCE as the correct year for Babylon's overthrow.
For example, the word to go forth the rebuild Jerusalem would have been given in 435BCE not 455BCE. Thus the 70 weeks of years prophecy of Daniel which identified the arrival of the Messiah would have ended in 56CE, not 36CE. Jesus birth would have been around 19CE, his baptism 49CE, and his death 53CE. The destruction of Jerusalem would have thus occurred in 90CE. Anyone considering Roman history will concede that these dates are impossible. Therefore, logical reasoning, secular evidence, and Biblical evidence all point to 539BCE as the only acceptable date for the overthrow of Babylon and thus making 607BCE as the only acceptable date for the destruction of Jerusalem.
The Conclusion--607 Vs. 587
Here are the timelines which are impossible if 587BCE is the correct date of Jerusalem's desolation.
1. 70 years on Tyre began after destruction of Jerusalem. That would mean 587BCE at earliest bringing us to 517BCE some 20 years after exiles returned and Tyre provided cedars to Jews in rebuilding work in fulfillment of prophecy. Impossible!
2. Egypt devastated 40 years. Ezekiel gave prophecy in 570BCE and devastation began in 568BCE if 587BCE date is the correct date for Jerusalem's desolation. 40 years ends in 528BCE. And yet exiles released 537BCE. Impossible!
3. Jerusalem to be uninhabited and desolate for 70 years. If 587BCE is correct. desolation would end 517BCE. By this time houses had been built and crops grown for some 20 years. Impossible!
The Bible just will not work with the 587BCE date supplied by secular historians. But notice how well 607BCE coincides with the Bible's timelines.
628--Jehoiakim begins 11 year rule.
625--Neb begins rule.
620--Jehoiakim placed as Babylonian vassal king by Neb. Lasts 3 years.
617--Jehoiakim killed. Daniel, Ezekiel, and Jehoiachin exiled. Zedekiah begins 11 year rule.
614--Daniel's 3 year training ends.
607--Jerusalem destroyed, 70 years begins, 19th yr of Neb, Zedekiah's rule ends
607--Ezekiels prophecies against Tyre after their celebrating Jerusalem's destruction.
607/606--Seige of Tyre and 70 year prophecy on Tyre begins.
605--Daniel interprets Neb's dream in his 2nd year since desolating Jerusalem.
590--Ezekiel gives prophecy of Egypts desolation in 27th yr of exile. Also tells of the siege of Tyre now completed, which lasted 13 years (according to Josephus). It began 16 years earlier.
588--Egypts desolation of 40 years begins, 37th year of Neb.
548--Egypt's 40 year desolation ends.
538--Cyrus' decree for Jews to return to Jerusalem.
537--Jews restored to homeland, 70 years of desolation end.
537/536--70 years on Tyre end. Provides timber for Jerusalem.
536/535--Cyrus' 3rd year, Daniel gets vision.
455--Word goes forth to rebuild Jerusalem. 70 weeks of years (490 years) begin.
29CE--Jesus baptized and anointed.
36CE--End of 70 weeks of years.
Yes the year of 607BCE as the date of Jerusalem's desolation fits perfectly with the Bible history and chronology. It is in fact the only date that does fit perfectly. No other date will work. The only conclusion that can possibly be reached is that 607BCE is indeed the date that Jerusalem was desolated according to God's Word the Bible.
On the other hand the Bible does not agree with the 587BCE date. Jehovah's Witnesses prefer to go with the Bible and what it says rather than unproven writings of historians which may or may not have an axe to grind and a reason to slant the history to suit their own beliefs. But clearly 587BCE was not the year that Jerusalem was desolated.
So you must decide, will you accept the chronology as recorded in the Holy Bible, God's view, or will you accept the chronology of secular historians and the view of imperfect man?
For further information proving 607 see http://geocities.com/jimspace3000/JWstrs/607BCE.htm