This page assumes a basic understanding of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ teachings about 607 BCE. For more information, see 607 for Beginners and Jehovah’s Witnesses and 1914.
Some adherents of JW dogma claim they have “irrefutable” proof for their 607 BCE doctrine at http://www.jehovahsjudgment.co.uk/607/* (purportedly compiled by an individual calling himself “thirdwitness”). A consideration of all points in the article is given herein. The headings are taken from the original article, and the content of each section is examined. It is recommended that this article be considered side-by-side with the original. The main headings are linked to the relevant pages of the original article, which will be shown in a separate window (or tab).
* A copy of the site is hosted at http://thirdwitness.com/607_BCE/www.jehovahsjudgment.co.uk/607/, in affiliation with a JW apologist webring called “Jehovah’s Witnesses United”. That copy is older, and is missing some of the appendices.
Questions are welcome—leave a comment.
The site opens with a foreword from “the authors”,* starting with ad hominem attacks on (supposedly) the “two most prominent apostates” (purportedly Ray Franz [deceased] and Carl Jonsson [misspelled on the site as ‘Karl’]) who ‘support’ 587 BCE, ignoring the fact that the great majority of secular and religious historians agree with the secularly accepted date (and none support 607 BCE). The foreword then claims that “the 587 BCE date is a chronological disaster” (formatting theirs) and that “587 promoters” ignore “enormous critical problems”, along with other similar childish taunts. Despite the authors’ snide claims that 587 BCE cannot be reconciled with the biblical accounts, this is simply not the case. A postscript to the introduction by “the authors” falsely claims that some secular evidence also supports 607 BCE. All points raised in the article (and a few that aren’t) are dealt with in this article.
* The extended introduction from “the authors” is not present in the version hosted by the web ring.
The introduction refers to ‘apostates’, employing Jehovah’s Witnesses’ pejorative usage, which is not consistent with the actual meaning of the word. In reality, an ‘apostate’ is simply a person who is no longer affiliated with a group, and a person who leaves a different religion to become a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses is also an ‘apostate’.
The article summarises the Watch Tower Society’s dogma regarding 607 BCE and 1914, with a link to more information in Appendix A.
The article claims that the accepted secular chronology is not compatible with the biblical accounts; however, it is only the Witnesses’ interpretation of the Bible’s chronology of the Neo-Babylonian period, and not the Bible itself, that is at odds.
The article very briefly states the secular reasoning for arriving at 587 BCE for the destruction of Jerusalem (with a link to additional commentary about the secular evidence in Appendix B), then makes an ad hominem attack (guilt by association and ad hominem abusive) regarding “Christendom”.
The article implies that only Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the Bible, as if the Bible’s representation of the Neo-Babylonian period cannot be reconciled with secular history without taking liberties with the scriptural account. It then quotes the Contemporary English Translation for a rendering of Daniel 9:2 that suits its purpose. (That translation is a paraphrase; it was criticised in The Watchtower, 1 October 1997, page 20, for its rendering of 1 Timothy 5:17, and 15 March 2000, page 29, for adding words to Romans 12:19. The translation also invalidates Jehovah’s Witnesses’ application of the seventy years at Jeremiah 29:10, stating: “After Babylonia has been the strongest nation for seventy years.”)
Daniel 9:2 states that Daniel* discerned something about the seventy years from “the word of Jeremiah”, so this verse cannot be validly interpreted in a way that contradicts Jeremiah 25:12, which stipulates that the true nature of the seventy years was of all the nations of the region serving Babylon,# and not of Jewish exile. Also, the wording in the New World Translation (NWT), “fulfilling the devastations”† (plural) discredits their own interpretation, suggesting that various devastations had occurred, which concluded with the final eventuality that such ‘devastations’ were fulfilled, and not that a single devastation had befallen Jerusalem for the entirety of the period. (The word translated ‘fulfilled’ means ‘brought to a state of completion’, not ‘happened as prophesied’.) The scripturally consistent interpretation is that the “devastations of Jerusalem” occurred during the seventy years of Babylon’s domination. Any other interpretation is inconsistent with Jeremiah 25:11–12. (Daniel 9:2 more likely refers to Jeremiah 29:10, which is more relevant to the context of releasing the Jews after the seventy years had ended, however for the verse in Daniel to be of any value, it must be contextually consistent with both references in Jeremiah.)
* The historicity of Daniel is disputed. Regardless of authenticity, the book of Daniel is written from the perspective of one of the Jews taken to Babylon in Nebuchadnezzar’s accession year. In this article, “Daniel” refers to the character whereas “Daniel” (in italics) refers to the book. For more information about the book of Daniel, see Daniel’s dreams and visions.
# It is not necessary that every single nation was specifically attacked by Babylon, as the nations serving Babylon represented its dominance in the region.
† The 2013 revision of the New World Translation has abandoned the Watch Tower Society’s unique use of “devastations” at this verse, in favour of “desolation”, as found in many other translations.
The article states that the Jews returned to Jerusalem in 537 BCE, but 538 BCE is the year indicated by the evidence. The author lies outright, claiming 537 BCE is “the year the Bible says the Jews returned home”; however, the Bible says no such thing. Instead, the Bible says Cyrus made a decree in his first (regnal) year and that the Jews were in Jerusalem by the seventh month, with no indication of any intervening year. Comparison of Ezra chapters 1–3 with Josephus’ Against Apion (Book I, chapter 21) confirms that the Jews arrived in Jerusalem in Cyrus’ first regnal year.
The article provides links to three charts. The first chart shows the Watch Tower Society’s interpretation of the seventy years, with October marked for both 607 BCE and 537 BCE. The caption proudly asserts, “Notice how the bible’s [sic] own chronology allows for the 70 year desolation to begin and end in the same month.” Notably, throughout the article, references to 1914 make no mention of October, because there was nothing in particular to ‘notice’ in that month. Actually, the seventy years—based on the most direct reading of the relevant scriptures—refers to Babylon’s dominance from 609 BCE until 539 BCE; if they had bothered, the correct chart would look like the image to the right. Ignoring that simple truth, the two other charts present straw-man arguments of ‘failed’ attempts at positing the ‘seventy years’. The first of these depicts the period from 605 BCE until 537 BCE, which the caption dishonestly claims is “the favorite “reinterpretation””. The second chart depicts 587 BCE until 518 BCE, probably drawing on the author’s failure to understand that the ‘seventy years’ mentioned in the book of Zechariah refers to a separate period. Both charts incorrectly assert that the Jews returned in 537 BCE, but 538 BCE is the correct year.
The false claim is again made that the secular evidence contradicts the Bible. Ignoring the context of the seventy years originally given by Jeremiah 25:12, and drawing on the false assumptions about Daniel 9:2, the article concludes that the seventy years must have started in 607 BCE.
The article restates its faulty conclusion that Judea, exclusively, must have lain in ruins for the full seventy years, and restates its doubly ad hominem attack on the fact that Jerusalem was only desolate for fifty years.
Ignoring the scriptural contradictions introduced by its interpretation, the article instead accuses those who reject their 607 BCE doctrine, and then makes a continued ad hominem attack on the alleged motives of “apostates”.
The article attempts to discredit any interpretation other than Jehovah’s Witnesses’ belief that the seventy years refer specifically to exile and desolation of Jerusalem, without any justification whatsoever. This serves to slant the opinion of the naïve reader before even attempting to consider any evidence, priming the uninformed reader for the Witnesses’ interpretation.
The article dishonestly states that it is only a “claim” made by “apostates” that seventy years refer to “mere servitude to the King of Babylon” (formatting theirs), despite the direct statement at Jeremiah 25:11: “these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” The fact that ‘serving Babylon’ does not mean exile is even more strongly indicated at Jeremiah 27:8–11, which explicitly indicates that nations submitting to Babylon would remain in their own land.
In summary, the false conclusion that the secular chronology contradicts the Bible is restated, and a false and irrelevant claim is made regarding the alleged attitudes of others about the actual date of Jerusalem’s destruction.
The article distorts the context of Daniel 9:1 with a false frame of reference: “when the 70 years were about to expire”; however, Daniel 9:1–2 only indicates that Daniel “discerned by the books” the interpretation of the seventy years at the time, without any suggestion that the period was ongoing. Daniel 9:1 refers to the first year of Darius the Mede,* who actually only ruled Babylon as governor for a matter of weeks prior to Cyrus’ arrival in October 539 BCE.
* Darius (Ugbaru in the Nabonidus Chronicle) has no accession period because he was acting as governor in Babylon for the actual Medo-Persian king, Cyrus.
The author asserts that Daniel refers to Jeremiah 25:11. However, it is more likely that Daniel‘s statements about releasing the Jews after seventy years would relate to the statement at Jeremiah 29:10 (NIV): “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.” (The corruption of this verse in the New World Translation is addressed later.)
The article quotes Jeremiah 25:11, 18, (with no evidence that this is the verse to which the author of Daniel referred) in an attempt to apply the seventy years exclusively to Jerusalem. The context of the words “these nations” is avoided by leaving out verse 9, which explicitly indicates that those referred to in the application of the seventy years were “all these nations round about”, with no mention of exile; verse 12, which indicates the order of events of ‘calling the king to account’ after the seventy years ended, is also ignored.
A false but irrelevant claim about the desolation only affecting “the land of Judah” is also made.
Where do the 70 years start?
A spurious connection is made between the seventy years of nations serving Babylon (involving Babylon’s position in the region), and the calamity (involving Babylon’s conquests in the region), and a false conclusion is asserted.
Whereas the calamity would go “from nation to nation”, Jeremiah 25:12 is quite clear that the seventy years affected all the surrounding nations at the same time, and not that a seventy-year ‘calamity’ affected Jerusalem with shorter periods affecting other nations.
When did Judah go into exile?
The article quotes part of 2 Kings chapter 25 to imply that years of Jewish exile were counted from when the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. However, Ezekiel 40:1 indicates that the Jews regarded the exile as having begun eleven years prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, and Jeremiah 29:1–10 indicates that the seventy years did not begin sometime after that exile. Jeremiah 52:28–30 concurs that the prior exile was more significant. (Note that Jeremiah 52:28–30 is an interpolation from Babylonian sources that does not include accession years, explaining why it refers to Nebuchadnezzar’s seventh and eighteenth years rather than the years indicated elsewhere in Jeremiah.) Additionally, Jeremiah 52:30 indicates a later exile of Jews in Nebuchadnezzar’s twenty-third year (582 BCE).
Judeans living outside Jerusalem
The section starts with a false claim that the fifth year of Jehoiakim (after March 604 BCE) was supposedly “two years into the devastation of Judah”. This lie ignores the fact that Jehoiakim gave a tribute (which included slaves) to Nebuchadnezzar in his accession year (early 604 BCE) to prevent a siege, whereas the first exile occurred in early 597 BCE. The author continues the straw-man argument, irrelevantly stating that “Judah was not ravaged” (in 604 BCE), based on a claim that Jews went to Jerusalem to attend a fast in that year. (However, Jeremiah uses Tishri-based dating for the reigns of Judean kings; the fast mentioned at Jeremiah 36:9 was actually held in December of 605 BCE.)
Daniel’s reference to ‘seventy years’—which the author imagines to be from Jeremiah 25:11, though the author of Daniel more likely referred to Jeremiah 29:10 as explained earlier—is again misapplied to the calamity of verse 18, whereas “all this land” from verse 11 actually refers to “all these nations” as indicated in verse 9. (The Message translation is quoted in the article; that translation also destroys the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ application of the seventy years at Jeremiah 29:10, stating: “Babylon’s seventy years are up.”)
The article makes another ad hominem attack on ‘apostates’, claiming they make the issue “unduly complex and hard to understand”, whereas the overly ‘simple’ conclusions reached in the article deliberately leave out verses of Jeremiah chapter 25 that indicate the true context of the seventy years. Furthermore, the historically consistent interpretation of the chapter and of Daniel’s reference to it are not particularly complicated.
The article claims that Jeremiah 25:1 makes the secularly consistent interpretation impossible. This conclusion is only reached when the seventy years are erroneously equated with the ‘calamity’. Jeremiah gave his warning in Jehoiakim’s fourth year, before the ‘calamity’; as verses 1 to 7 indicate, it was by that time too late for the Jews to repent and avoid the calamity,* however there is nothing to preclude the fact that the seventy years—during which “all these nations” would be subservient to Babylon—had already begun.
* It was not yet too late for the Jews to avoid exile (597 BCE) or the destruction of the city (587 BCE). In Zedekiah’s 10th year—588 BCE, during the siege—Jeremiah indicated it was still possible to avoid destruction of the city (Jeremiah 38:17–23).
The article dishonestly claims the secularly consistent interpretation places the events of Jeremiah 25:1 after those of Daniel 1:1, ignoring the fact that Jeremiah included accession years and the author of Daniel did not. In reality, both verses refer to Nebuchadnezzar’s accession year, with Jeremiah 25:1 set in September of 605 BCE, and Daniel 1:1 set in February 604 BCE.#
# Earlier than Elul (August/September) of 605 BCE would have been Nabopolassar’s 21st year. Tishri or later would be Jehoiakim’s 5th year by Jeremiah’s reckoning. BM 21946 confirms that tributes from the Hatti-land were taken back to Babylon in Sebat (January/February).
The article next focuses on the previously-mentioned pluralisation of “devastations” in the New World Translation’s rendering of Daniel 9:2, starting with a tired claim about what is supposedly argued by unnamed “apostates”.
The article correctly indicates that the word translated “devastations” is chorbah, and explains that it refers to something in ruins. It provides a few examples of how chorbah is used in the Bible, though continues to ignore the fact that Daniel 9:2 actually says the devastations would be fulfilled (that is, completed) by the end of Babylon’s seventy years of supremacy, which does not require that they were in such a state for the entire period. (The word chorbah does not require that Jerusalem, or the surrounding region, was completely uninhabited; however, because Daniel is discussing the fulfilment of the devastations at the end of the seventy years, this is irrelevant.) Discussion about the choice of “devastations” is continued in Appendix C.
As previously stated, Ezekiel 40:1 and Jeremiah 29:1–10 demonstrate that both the exile and the seventy years were considered by the Jews to have begun prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, which makes the article’s explanation impossible, and their discussion of the word “devastations” irrelevant. Specifically, in 594 BCE, to counter Hananiah’s claims that the Jews would be released from Babylon in just two more years (Jeremiah 28:11), Jeremiah wrote from Jerusalem to the Jewish exiles already in Babylon, advising them that they would not be released until after Babylon’s seventy years had ended (Jeremiah 29:10*). This would be meaningless to the exiled Jews if the seventy years had not yet even begun, as is claimed by the Watch Tower Society. Therefore, even though some Bible translations imply that Jerusalem itself had to be desolate for the entire seventy years, such an interpretation contradicts Ezekiel and Jeremiah, and can therefore be discounted.
* The NWT distorts the application of Jeremiah 29:10 to say seventy years “at Babylon”, rather than “for Babylon” as given in most Bible translations in agreement with Jeremiah 25:12. As the letter to Jewish exiles already in Babylon was written before the Society alleges Jerusalem to have been destroyed, their argument for translating the verse differently is redundant.
The article next discusses the word shamem, and its application at 2 Chronicles 36:20–21. The correct understanding of this verse is dependent on the context of the expression, “to fulfil Jehovah’s word by the mouth of Jeremiah”. Jeremiah didn’t say anything at all about Sabbaths being fulfilled; he applied the seventy-year period specifically to Babylon. The part of 2 Chronicles 36:20–21 from “the mouth of Jeremiah” that was ‘fulfilled’ was “until the royalty of Persia began to reign”, which followed the ‘calling to account’ of Babylon’s king (Jeremiah 25:12).
The original text allows for the mention of Sabbaths to be a parenthetical statement, as demonstrated here (based on the text of the New World Translation): “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, to fulfil 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 fulfil seventy years” (parentheses added). Such a rendering is consistent with that of the New International Version, which is dishonestly quoted in the article. The full verse states: “The land enjoyed its Sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah.” The portion excluded from the article has been italicised here. Once reinstated, it is revealed that the verse simply states that the land rested, not for seventy years, but from an unspecified starting point until the end of a seventy-year period indicated by Jeremiah. In any case, 2 Chronicles 36:20–21 quite definitely states that the end of the seventy years was associated with the beginning of Persian rule rather than a later return from exile.
The article ignores the actual source of the reference to paying off Sabbaths, Leviticus 26:34 (though it noted that Leviticus 26:31 also uses the word chorbah). Verse 34 states: ““‘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.” In the same discussion about keeping Sabbaths, Leviticus 25:8 makes reference to a period of time associated with Sabbath rests: ““‘And you must count for yourself seven sabbaths of years, seven times seven years, and the days of the seven sabbaths of years must amount to forty-nine years for you.” Notably, the period from which Jerusalem was destroyed (587 BCE) until the Jews returned to Jerusalem (538 BCE) is also forty-nine years.
Next, the article quotes parts of Jeremiah 4:27–29 & 9:11, which indicate that for an unspecified period of time, cities in Judah would be uninhabited. Though neither passage mentions seventy years, or any other specific duration, the quoted verses are dishonestly prefaced with “let’s go back to the prophecy of Jeremiah about this 70 year devastation”. Actually, Jeremiah only mentions “seventy years” three times: twice in chapter 25 in connection with ‘all the nations’ being subject to Babylon, and once in chapter 29 where Jeremiah wrote to Jews already exiled in Babylon prior to the destruction of Jerusalem.
The article dishonestly “summarizes the whole 70 year period” by switching back to 2 Chronicles chapter 36. It quotes part of 2 Chronicles 36 (erroneously cited as verses 20 to 23, but actually starting from verse 19) to allege that the seventy years began in the year the temple was destroyed, ignoring the beginning of the chapter, which describes what happened at Jerusalem over a number of years, culminating in its destruction. It thereby reduces the supposed application to only the destruction of the temple. (Incidentally, the entire thirty-sixth chapter of 2 Chronicles does indeed encompass the full seventy-year period, as Necho killed Josiah in 609 BCE, which is also the year in which Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Assyrian capital at Harran, positioning Babylon as the unrivalled world power.)
Again there are summarising notes, with the incorrect conclusion that Daniel says “the city of Jerusalem was in chorbah for 70 years”, whereas the author of Daniel actually indicated that Jerusalem’s devastations were complete at the end of seventy years. It is again claimed that the Bible counts the seventy years from the year Jerusalem was destroyed, however Ezekiel 40:1 and Jeremiah 29:1–10 show that to be a fallacy.
The introductory paragraph mentions that “some” interpret the seventy years as of ‘servitude’, and asks ‘why?’, with a dishonest answer about supposedly untrustworthy “secular chronology”. The correct answer is that Jeremiah 25:11 explicitly states, “these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon seventy years”.
Again, the article mismatches the ‘calamity’ with the seventy years for which “these nations” will “serve” Babylon, with a long-winded quote of Jeremiah chapter 25. Note that verse 11 does not say “and then these will have to serve the king of Babylon seventy years,” but simply specifies the complete duration of Babylon’s dominance. Moreover, verse 12 explicitly indicates that Babylon’s king would be ‘called to account’ at the end of seventy years, which irrefutably occurred in 539 BCE. There was no Neo-Babylonian king after that, and no adverse judgement befell Cyrus in 537 BCE.
The article then boldly exclaims again that 607 BCE to 537 BCE is exactly seventy years—still with no explanation why 537 BCE is chosen—despite the fact that:
- the seventy years ended in 539 BCE when Babylon was “called to account” (Jeremiah 25:12, Daniel 5:26–31);
- the relevant month of 537 BCE is not part of Cyrus’ first year (Ezra 1:1, 3:1).
Appreciating the full meaning of the servitude
In an attempt to bolster its definition of the seventy years, the article claims that conquering Jerusalem meant that all of the nations were then subject to Babylon, and that Nebuchadnezzar had become some kind of sovereign in place of God. Because their interpretation has no basis in reality, the author claims that “all the nations serving Babylon is clearly symbolic”. Apart from this being ridiculous in itself, it also contradicts Daniel chapter 4, which suggests that God was still considered “sovereign” and able to debase Nebuchadnezzar during the seventy years. A linked chart depicts the period from 607 BCE to 537 BCE, with a selective quotation of parts of Jeremiah 25:11 & 29, distorting the application of the servitude (a period of fixed length) and the calamity (Babylon’s effect on different nations at different times).
607 allows for only 68 years too?
It is claimed that the servitude to Babylon continued under the rule of Cyrus, despite the dramatic events of Daniel 5:26–31 that explicitly indicated the ME’NE (numbering) of Babylon’s days, and the TE’KEL (‘calling to account’) of its king. It is then alleged that until 537 BCE, Cyrus was also “placing himself equal to the Most High,” despite the Bible’s assertion at Isaiah 45:1 that Cyrus acted as God’s “servant”. The fact that this contradicts the clear order of events at Jeremiah 25:12 is also ignored, as is the fact that 2 Chronicles 36:20–21 explicitly associates the end of the seventy years with the beginning of Persian rule, and not a later return from exile.
Letting the Bible Answer
The article poses a series of questions that distort the context of the scripture to which they refer. The correct answers are supplied here under the original questions.
- When was the prophecy of the 70 years made? (Jer 25:1)
- Jeremiah’s warning about the seventy years and the ‘calamity’ was given in Elul (August/September) 605 BCE. The article falsely implies that the calamity was the beginning of the seventy years during which nations would serve Babylon, though the Bible says no such thing.
- Has Babylon already conquered the Judah [sic] and the nations and brought them under their servitude? (Jer 25:9)
- The Babylonian empire became dominant in 609 BCE when it conquered Harran, the last capital of the previous world power, Assyria. Even by the Society’s reckoning, this occurred prior to Jerusalem’s destruction. Because the nations were subject to Babylon before the ‘calamity’, the question is irrelevant.
- What two events would begin at the same time? (Jer 25:11)
- The leading question falsely implies that the seventy years must begin at the same time as the calamity. However, it is clear that all the nations were to serve Babylon for the same period of seventy years (Jeremiah 25:12), whereas the calamity started at different times “from nation to nation” (Jeremiah 25:32).
- What does the devastation mean? (Jer 25:10)
- The ‘devastation’ in the context of Jeremiah 25:10 refers to the calamity that affects different nations at different times. The verse is incorrectly attributed to only Jerusalem, whereas verse 9 indicates that “them” refers to all the surrounding nations. Because the calamity struck different nations at different times, there is no requirement for the verse to apply to the full seventy years.
- What is the cup that every nation will drink? (Jer 25:15)
- “The cup” is the calamity of Babylon coming up against different nations at different times. All of the nations faced the seventy years at the same time, because its end-point is static (verses 11–12), but various nations suffered the calamity at different times during Babylon’s seventy years of power (verse 29).
- Have they began [sic] drinking it at the time of this prophecy?
- Calamity befell Assyria in 609 BCE. The calamity had not yet affected Jerusalem when the prophecy was made in 605 BCE.
- Who drinks the cup first, and what does it mean for them?
- The rendering of “starting off in” (“first” in the revised NWT) are mistranslations of the Hebrew verb chalal (חָלַל, Strong’s H2490), meaning “to begin”. Calamity began in Jerusalem in the fourth year of Jehoiakim. The original text does not preclude calamity affecting other nations first.
- The calamity began to affect the area around Judea (the “Hatti-land”) in early 604 BCE, when Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem. Jehoiakim paid Nebuchadnezzar a tribute to end the siege (Daniel 1:1, 2 Kings 24:1). Jehoiakim paid tribute for three years, but then refused, after which marauder bands were sent, which eventually led up to the siege in late 598 BCE (2 Kings 24:1–8).
- Who will drink the cup after Judah? (Jeremiah 25:15–26)
- Assyria had already suffered calamity. The nations that were to suffer calamity after Judah are listed at Jeremiah 25:15–26.
- What is the starting point of the 70 years of servitude and the cup drinking?
- The seventy years started after the fall of the Assyrian world power. Nineveh was conquered in 612 BCE; Assyria’s capital was then moved to Harran, which Nebuchadnezzar conquered in 609 BCE.
- The cup drinking started for Judah in early 604 BCE. Various nations were made to drink the cup at other times during Babylon’s period as world power.
The section is introduced with the false premise that it has been proved that the seventy years began with Jerusalem’s destruction. It then postulates that “promoters of 587” ignore that premise. The article falsely concludes that those proponents seek “some other event around the year 607″ for their explanation of the seventy years, though the Bible clearly indicates that the period ended at Babylon’s fall in 539 BCE and not with an unsubstantiated return of the Jews in 537 BCE (Jeremiah 25:11–12; Daniel 5:26–31).
The article cites Daniel 1:1, and again employs the baseless assumption that Jehoiakim’s third year mentioned therein was of vassalage rather than his actual reign. (Appendix N attempts to distort the consistent application of different kings’ regnal years in Daniel.) A distorted view of Jehoiakim’s third year is presented, incorrectly framing the seventy years from that event, and ignoring the distinction between the seventy years of Babylonian supremacy and the calamity mentioned in Jeremiah chapter 25. In doing so, it claims that ‘proponents of 587’ suggest only a round period of about seventy years.
The article then cites Jeremiah 52:28–30* to imply that captives could not be taken earlier than Nebuchadnezzar’s seventh year. It is thus implied—without basis—that captives could not be taken as part of the earlier tribute paid by Jehoiakim to Nebuchadnezzar without being considered an ‘exile’, despite the fact that BM 21946 explicitly indicates Nebuchadnezzar’s presence in the area in his accession year.
* The article does not bother to mention that these three verses are interpolated from Babylonian sources and do not include accession years, whereas Jeremiah refers to the 8th and 19th years for the first two exiles.
The nature of the seventy-year supremacy is again distorted to suggest that it could not have begun until Jews had been exiled, whereas the account in Jeremiah refers to “all these nations” serving Babylon. Additionally, Jeremiah 27:8–11 very clearly states that exile would be a punishment for nations that refused to serve Babylon, and that nations could avoid exile by serving Babylon.
Only 68 years?
It is again falsely stated that the exile is synonymous with Babylon’s seventy years. In doing so, Ezekiel 40:1 is again ignored, as the Jews regarded their exile as having begun prior to the fall of Jerusalem. The invalid end-point for the seventy years—537 BCE—is again used, still with no attempt to justify the dogmatic selection of that year for the return of the Jews. A straw-man attack continues in Appendix E.
Jeremiah does not mention it in his list of exiles
The article presents a false dilemma regarding the fact that captives were taken prior to the first exile named by Jeremiah. This is despite the fact that 2 Kings 24:1 indicates that Nebuchadnezzar came up against Jerusalem prior to the siege in 598 BCE, and that Jehoiakim capitulated and paid tribute at that time, and that captives were usually included in such booty, and that Berossus attests to the event. The distinction that these were part of a booty presented to Nebuchadnezzar as a tribute, rather than forcibly taken into exile, is again ignored.
Jeremiah’s first account of the King’s fourth year
The argument presented in the article in this section is grossly ignorant of basic knowledge required for interpreting biblical regnal years. Jeremiah, living in Jerusalem, counted accession years as part of the regnal period (and used Tishri-based years for the reigns of Judean kings). On the other hand, Daniel is written from the perspective of a person trained in Babylon, and therefore uses the Babylonian accession-year system, where the accession period was not enumerated. Jeremiah 25:1 and Daniel 1:1 refer to the same year, with the events of Daniel 1:1 occurring several months after Jeremiah’s warning in August/September 605 BCE. Jeremiah’s reckoning of Jehoiakim’s fourth year and Nebuchadnezzar’s first year are wholly compatible with Daniel’s reference to Jehoiakim’s third year and unstated (accession) year of Nebuchadnezzar. BM 21946 (rows 12 and 13 on the front) further identifies the period at Daniel 1:1 as January/February 604 BCE.
Jeremiah 25:10 is misquoted by suggesting that the land would be completely devastated at the beginning of the seventy years, rather than as stated in the verse that it would “become a devastated place” during that period.
Jeremiah’s second account of the King’s fourth year
The events Jeremiah assigned to Jehoiakim’s fourth year are again dishonestly stated as having occurred after those of Daniel 1:1, further demonstrating the author’s ignorance of the different regnal dating systems.
Jeremiah’s account of the King’s fifth year
The article falsely implies that Jerusalem should already have been ‘desolated’ by Jehoiakim’s fifth year, again confusing the seventy years with the calamity.
The article then quotes Jeremiah 36:9–10, and misapplies the verse, suggesting that the people came “to celebrate a religious festival”, whereas the verse actually states that a fast was proclaimed. The article falsely states that the cities of Judah would supposedly have been destroyed by this point in time. However, because Jeremiah uses Tishri-based dating for Judean kings, the “9th month” (Kislev) during Jehoiakim’s fifth year was December of 605 BCE, before captives had been taken in January/February 604 BCE. Verses 11 and 12 are then quoted, and it is alleged that no captives could yet have been taken because all of the princes who were present were present. The claim is irrelevant because tribute had not yet been paid. Aside from that, none of those named in Daniel as having been taken to Babylon are mentioned as being in Jerusalem a year later (falsely stated as two years later in the article because of the author’s ignorance of the accession-year system).
The article postulates that in the author’s distorted view of the correct history (which is framed as the view of “certain apostates”), Jehoiakim ‘must’ have been “taken away in chains” when captives were taken in Nebuchadnezzar’s accession year. However, a comparison of 2 Kings 24:1, Daniel 1:1, and 2 Chronicles 36:6 suggests that whilst Nebuchadnezzar may have intended to take Jehoiakim captive “in chains”, that this was averted by paying tribute. (This is also consistent with Jeremiah 27:8–11, which indicates that nations that submitted to Nebuchadnezzar could avoid exile.) In the Watch Tower Society’s chronology, it is supposed that Jehoiakim was not taken away in chains at any point, but that there may have been an intention to do so during the siege in what they refer to as 618 BCE (actually 598 BCE).
The article provides a link to a chart (which contradicts the Watch Tower Society’s chronology as explained below) with the caption, “Some have claimed that the 607-based chronology does not add up when considering the reigns of the Judean Kings.” Notably, the chart states that “Judah becomes a vassal Kingdom to Babylon”; with that in mind, according to their interpretation, the seventy years of servitude to Babylon should be reckoned from 620 BCE rather than 607 BCE (Jeremiah 25:11). The following timeline shows the period according to the Bible. References to BM 21946 are also included; “R” in references to the chronicle refers to rows on the reverse. (The text of BM 21946 and the article’s attempt at reconciling it with the Watch Tower Society’s chronology are presented in Appendix Q.)
The timeline below shows the Watch Tower Society’s chronology for the same events. Most of the years are simply adjusted to allow for the twenty-year gap created by the Society’s spurious chronology. Whilst all of the years assigned in the chart below are wrong, the elements in red indicate problems with the relative chronology, most of which are created by the Watch Tower Society’s distorted interpretation of “kingship” as ‘vassalage’ at Daniel 1:1. This creates various inconsistencies with BM 21946, which dates events relative to Nebuchadnezzar’s reign.
Note the following anomalies in the Watch Tower Society’s chronology:
- 624–621 BCE—BM 21946 provides a year-by-year record of Nebuchadnezzar’s activities, and shows Nebuchadnezzar returning to the ‘Hatti-land’ straight after his enthronement. However, the Watch Tower Society’s chronology has Nebuchadnezzar doing ‘a lot of nothing’ from his enthronement up until 620 BCE.
- 621 BCE—With the Society’s twenty-year ‘adjustment’, Nebuchadnezzar’s 601 BCE attack on Egypt should be moved to 621 BCE. However, the Watch Tower Society provides no year for this event, because 621 BCE falls before their reckoning of when Jehoiakim began paying tribute. This is problematic because Josephus gives the attack on Egypt as the reason for Jehoiakim’s refusal to pay tribute after three years. (“But on the third year, upon hearing that the king of Babylon made an expedition against the Egyptians, he did not pay tribute,” Antiquities of the Jews, Book X, chapter 6 as quoted in The Watchtower, 15 October 1964, page 637.) If the attack on Egypt is placed in 619 BCE, such that the subsequent request for Jehoiakim’s tribute were made on Nebuchadnezzar’s return to Babylon in early 618 BCE, this would mean Jehoiakim’s refusal to pay would fall in the second year of paying tribute rather than the third. This would suggest that the attack on Egypt would have to have been in 618 BCE. However, BM 21946 (rows 5 to 7 on the reverse) places the attack on Egypt in Kislev (December), at the same time the Society says Nebuchadnezzar was laying siege to Jerusalem.
- 620 BCE—Nebuchadnezzar’s demand for tribute from Jehoiakim in his accession year should be placed in early 624 BCE according to the Society’s twenty-year gap. However, the Society will not admit there was a siege on Jerusalem in Nebuchadnezzar’s accession year, despite both BM 21946 (rows 12 and 13 on the front) and Berossus attesting to his presence in the region to demand tribute in Sebat (February 604 BCE). Instead, it states that Jehoiakim was “compelled” to pay tribute (without acknowledging that this was to curtail a siege) in what they claim was ‘really’ Nebuchadnezzar’s ‘first year of Jehoiakim’s vassalage’, which they place in 620 BCE (Insight, “Babylon”, volume 1, page 238; Daniel’s Prophecy, page 32).
- 620–618 BCE—The Society’s chronology constrains the period for which Jehoiakim paid tribute from early 620 BCE to mid-618 BCE (about 2.5 years). This contradicts BM 21946 (rows 12, 13, and 15 to 17 on the front, and rows 1 to 5 on the reverse), which places Nebuchadnezzar in the region to exact tributes on various occasions, from his accession year through to his fourth year, which should be 625 BCE (early 624 BCE) until 621 BCE when adjusting for the Society’s twenty-year gap. It further contradicts BM 21946 (row 8 on the reverse), which says Nebuchadnezzar stayed in Babylon during his fifth year (620 BCE in the Society’s chronology).
- 618 BCE—In addition to the problems the Society’s chronology causes regarding the reason for which Jehoiakim refused to pay tribute after three years, it also creates further problems for the timing of events between Jehoiakim’s refusal to pay and the siege that resulted in most of the Jews being exiled to Babylon. 2 Kings 24:2 states that in between these two events, various “marauder bands” of “Chaldeans”, “Syrians”, “Moabites” and “the sons of Ammon” attacked Judah. BM 21946 (rows 9 and 10 on the reverse) states that Nebuchadnezzar sent these “companies” in his sixth year, which should be 619 BCE in the Society’s chronology. However, the Society constrains these “marauder bands” to the latter half of 618 BCE—which would be Nebuchadnezzar’s seventh year in the Society’s interpretation—when BM 21946 (row 11 on the reverse) says the siege itself took place. In fact, BM 21946 (rows 6 to 10 on the reverse) places three full years between the attack on Egypt and the siege on Jerusalem, but the Society’s chronology forces all these events into late 618 BCE.
To disguise the fact that there is not enough time remaining in 618 BCE for all these events, the chart on the apologist’s website places the siege from mid-617 BCE until late 617 BCE instead, conflicting with BM 21946 as well as the Watch Tower Society’s own interpretation.
- 609 BCE—The Watch Tower Society says an eighteen-month siege against Jerusalem began in December of 609 BCE and ended in 607 BCE. (It should be noted that various secular sources also suggest the siege lasted eighteen months.) However, because Jeremiah used Tishri-based dating for the reigns of Judean kings, ‘the tenth month’ (Teveth) of Zedekiah’s ninth year begins at the end of 590 BCE. The siege ended in July of 587 BCE, and therefore actually lasted about thirty months. The chart on the apologist’s website also misrepresents the Watch Tower Society’s placement of the final siege on Jerusalem, with the beginning of the siege and the destruction of Jerusalem both depicted in the wrong months.
Josephus’s [sic] account
The article states that Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews (Book X, chapter 6) “confirms that there was [sic] no exiles taken in Jehoiakim’s 3rd year”. It then provides a paraphrased account of Josephus that suits the author’s intentions. (The actual text is provided in Appendix D).
The article dishonestly states that the events of Daniel 1:1 and the entire 24th chapter of 2 Kings all happened in one year, however a comparison of 2 Kings 24:1 with Daniel (not to mention BM 21946) indicates that those events happened an absolute minimum of three years prior to the siege of Jerusalem in 598 BCE, and is fully compatible with the events of Daniel 1:1 occurring in early 604 BCE during Nebuchadnezzar’s accession year. Notably, Josephus indicates that Judea was not conquered at that time, as Jehoiakim averted it by paying a tribute.
Secular historians agree that Nebuchadnezzar defeated Necho in 605 BCE, which Josephus attests to be “the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim”. Additionally, Josephus states the reason for which Jehoiakim refused to pay tribute “on the third year”: “upon hearing that the king of the Babylonians made an expedition against the Egyptians.” According to BM 21946, that expedition occurred in Nebuchadnezzar’s fourth year, 601 BCE. A comparison of 2 Kings 24:1 and Josephus’ Antiquities indicates that this was after three years of paying tribute, and is completely consistent with the events of Daniel 1:1 occurring in early 604 BCE.
Why did everyone forget about the 1st exile?
Again, the article attempts to raise doubt about captives being taken in 605 BCE by claiming that it would have to have been an “exile”, and that such an exile is not mentioned in other historical accounts. However, the captives in early 604 BCE were given as part of a tribute, not taken as part of a forced exile.
The author claims that the first exile “is supposedly the crucial start of the 70 year prophecy” (even though that isn’t the case in reality or in the Watch Tower Society’s chronology), again indicating the author’s misunderstanding of Jeremiah 25:11–12, and the context of the seventy years as distinct from the calamity. Further ignorance is demonstrated by suggesting that the first year would have to be indicated for an exile in addition to the 7th, 18th, and 23rd years. However, using those accession-year references, the year referred to as “1st” would really be the ‘0th‘ (i.e. accession) year.
The article mentions Ezekiel’s reference to “our exile,” then immediately says that Ezekiel mentions Daniel in his writings, with the false implication that they were both taken to Babylon at the same time. However, each of Ezekiel’s three references to ‘Daniel’ (14:14; 14:20; 28:3) are ‘character references’, two of which refer to “Noah, Daniel and Job”, and none of which identify Daniel as the character in the book of Daniel or as any other individual taken to Babylon. Since Noah and Job were neither Jews nor contemporaries of Ezekiel, it is likely that Ezekiel’s references to ‘Daniel’ also refer to an ancient non-Jew.* It is entirely plausible that the later author of the book of Daniel intentionally capitalised on Ezekiel’s ambiguous references to a character of that name to retrofit ‘Daniel’ as a contemporary of Ezekiel.
* The original text actually says Danel; it most likely refers to the character of that name in the Ugaritic Epic of Aqhat from the 14th century BCE.
The article reiterates that it is strange that an exile is not mentioned, again ignoring the fact that captives were given as part of a tribute.
The third year of his vassal Kingship
The article next claims that Daniel 1:1 is “obviously speaking from the perspective of Babylon’s control over the Jews,” though there is no reason to suggest that such a conclusion is even plausible, let alone “obvious”.
It then draws a flawed conclusion about 2 Kings 24:1, stating “that is why” that verse refers to Jehoiakim serving Nebuchadnezzar. However, Daniel 1:1 makes no reference to vassalage or to being a servant, and there is no implication in the original-language rendering of the verse that the period refers to anything other than the plain reading of Jehoiakim’s third year (not counting his accession year).
The article pleads its case, claiming that the author of Daniel always wrote from the perspective of Babylonian officials because he does so with Cyrus. However, the comparison is flawed; at the time of Cyrus, there was no Judean king for whom to cite a regnal year, which is different to the situation in Daniel 1:1. The reality is that the author of Daniel, in his references to any king, consistently refers to the years of the kings’ reigns in context of the place or people being ruled over. A misleading example in Appendix O claims to also refer to “vassal Kingship”.
Summing up the section’s flawed conclusions, the article again claims that the taking of captives must have been an exile, and falsely concludes that Jeremiah precludes it. It makes irrelevant mention of “cities of Judah” as if they must have been affected by those given by Jehoiakim as part of the tribute, and that the princes who were present were present, though none named as present were those named as taken to Babylon (and the fast was held before the tribute was paid anyway).
It then draws on Josephus’ omission of Daniel as part of the tribute to suggest that he agrees with their conclusion, an argument from silence.
The author then naively infers that a reference to Jehoiakim’s third year must be his 3rd year of paying tribute because both mention the number 3.
The article claims that the taking of captives in 605 BCE (actually early 604 BCE) “causes nothing but problems and bizarre inconsistencies”, however no such inconsistencies exist when it is recognised that Daniel and others were given as part of a tribute, not taken by force as part of an exile.
The article next tries to find fault with the actual beginning of the seventy years of Babylon’s dominance in the region—Babylon’s defeat of the Assyrian empire in 609 BCE.
It starts off with a flawed argument that all who disagree with the Watch Tower Society must supposedly agree with each other, claiming that “many apostates” ‘contradict their own arguments’, whereas in actuality, many people recognise that the seventy years began in 609 BCE, and others believe something else.
The article acknowledges that Jeremiah 25:11 does indeed stipulate that the seventy years were a time during which “these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon”, but then continues with the false claim that the period of servitude must have been the same as the period of desolation, though it is obvious that various nations were desolated at different times during Babylon’s seventy years of dominance.
The article quotes Jeremiah 25:1, which indicates that Jeremiah received the prophecy of the coming calamity in 605 BCE, though Jeremiah does not say that the seventy years of Babylon’s dominance had not started, or that the period marked the beginning of the calamity.
It next quotes Jeremiah 25:8–11 in an attempt to correlate the desolation of “all these nations round about” with the seventy-year period during which “nations will have to serve the king of Babylon”, and in so doing, attempts to indicate not just the calamity but also the beginning of the seventy years as future events. However, it is not the case—even in the Watch Tower Society’s interpretation—that all of those nations were ‘devoted to destruction’ at the moment that the seventy years began. There is nothing in the passage to suggest that the situation of nations serving Babylon as a world power had not already begun.
Next, the article attempts to dismiss the validity of Nebuchadnezzar being recognised as king before he had officially ascended to the throne. However, the Society employs the same reasoning in defending Daniel’s later references to Belshazzar as king (instead of Nabonidus) when he was really prince, in the same manner that Nebuchadnezzar is mentioned instead of Nabopolassar. Additionally, while the prophecy indicated that Nebuchadnezzar would be sent against the nations for the calamity, it is only the (unnamed) “king of Babylon” who would be served for seventy years.
The article then cites Jeremiah chapter 28, ignoring the context to suggest that the seventy years had not yet begun during the fourth year of Zedekiah. Actually, Jeremiah reiterated that Babylon would be dominant for a full seventy years, to refute Hananiah’s claim that Nebuchadnezzar would be deposed “within two full years”. Jeremiah did not merely indicate that there would only be a yoke at a future time, but that they would come under a heavier yoke than the one they already had (Jeremiah 28:10–14). Verse 11 explicitly states that the Jews were already under “the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon” in the fourth year of Zedekiah.
Who’s your daddy?
The article next claims that Nebuchadnezzar’s father should be mentioned at Jeremiah 27:7 as one of the kings whom the nations would serve during the seventy years. However, during the late years of Nabopolassar’s life, Nebuchadnezzar was the more prominent of the two for practical purposes, and there is no more need to refer to his father as king, than there was for Daniel to refer to Nabonidus—who is also not mentioned at all in the Bible—as king rather than Belshazzar. Additionally, the verse only indicates three kings, whereas there were actually six Babylonian kings from Nebuchadnezzar to Belshazzar (plus additional hypothetical kings to fill the twenty-year gap in the Society’s chronology).
Is 609 even right?
In a final desperate attempt to invalidate 609 BCE as the beginning of the seventy years, the article claims that Assyria was actually defeated in 612 BCE. However, while Nineveh was destroyed in that year, the Assyrian empire was not, and Harran became its capital. The Assyrian empire came to an end in 609 BCE with the defeat of Harran and the capture of Assyria’s final king, and it was at that time that Babylon was indisputably recognised as the new world power.
The article states that the “nations had already been under Babylonian domination for some years” in 609 BCE (though they had not yet completely removed the Assyrian world power); they therefore imply (incorrectly) that the seventy years of ‘nations serving Babylon’ should ‘really’ have begun in 612 BCE, contradicting their own premise for the period.
The flawed conclusions from the section are restated. The article again ignores the fact that Jeremiah indicated a heavier Babylonian yoke than the Babylonian yoke they were already under. It falsely claims that the seventy years beginning in 609 BCE contradicts the Bible, and then claims that the period ended in 537 BCE—which contradicts Jeremiah 25:12 and Daniel 5:26–31.
It is falsely claimed that the seventy years could not have been foretold after the period had already begun in 609 BCE. However, the total duration of Babylon’s dominance could be foretold any time prior to the end of the period (though the focus of the announcement in Jeremiah chapter 25 is actually the calamity). Nothing in the passage precludes the seventy years from having already begun. Jeremiah simply stated that the total duration of Babylon’s dominance in the region (which the article claims began in 612 BCE) would be seventy years.
This section attacks a straw-man argument that the Witnesses’ chronology might make Daniel too old by the time of Cyrus. The real aim of the section is to allege a discrepancy in the plain reading of Daniel 1:1.
The article quotes parts of Daniel 1:1, 3–5, which indicates that the captives taken as part of the tribute paid by Jehoiakim in early 604 BCE would receive three years of training in Babylon. It then attempts to complicate matters by making it seem as though the period of training is incompatible with Daniel interpreting a dream for Nebuchadnezzar before the end of that period.
The article repeats its spurious claim that when Daniel 1:1 referred to Jehoiakim’s third year, it ‘really’ meant his third year of vassalage to Nebuchadnezzar, which they count from 620 BCE. Not only is there no basis for this in the original text, but it also contradicts the Society’s interpretation of 2 Kings 24:1, which states that three years had already passed, which would mean that Jehoiakim was in his fourth year of supposed vassalage. Moreover, Nebuchadnezzar didn’t appoint the already-ruling Jehoiakim as a vassal king, but demanded a yearly tribute. Further, the Watch Tower Society’s interpretation of “kingship” at Daniel 1:1 is not even consistent with its interpretation of the same word at Daniel 2:1, for which it claims, ““The second year” is evidently counted from 607 B.C.E.” (The Watchtower, 1 September 2007, page 18), again with no basis in the original text.
The article’s claim ignores the fact that Jeremiah 25:1 correlates the beginning of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign with Jehoiakim’s fourth year (counting accession year) in agreement with Daniel 1:1 (not counting accession year), and that 2 Kings 24:1 confirms that Nebuchadnezzar came up against Jerusalem prior to the siege in 598 BCE, during which Jehoiakim paid tribute.
The article claims that Daniel was considered to be “one of the children” until the end of the three years of training, and not old enough to receive a position of authority.* However, the original-language word (ben) used for “children” in verses 6 and 17 does not refer to only a small child, but can also refer to a teenager, a young man, or even an adult son, and does not automatically preclude referring to such a person as a “man”.# Moreover, the story states that Daniel was assigned a position because he demonstrated wisdom in interpreting the dream.
* No similar objections are raised in regard to the biblical accounts of Azariah becoming king at sixteen years of age (2 Kings 15:1–2), or of Manasseh becoming king at twelve (2 Kings 21:1), or of Josiah becoming king at eight (2 Kings 22:1), or of Jehoash becoming king at seven (2 Kings 11:21).
# The Aramaic word (gĕbar, Strong’s H1400) translated “able-bodied man” in the New World Translation simply means man.
Significantly, the article suggests that by the time of the events of Daniel chapter 2, Daniel had already become known as a “well-known” wise man. However, when instructions were given to kill all of the wise men (Daniel 2:13), Daniel was not one of the foremost wise men, and there is no indication at all that he was already known to Nebuchadnezzar. This is consistent with Daniel 1:17, as those involved in instructing Daniel would have been aware of his wisdom, though he had not yet met Nebuchadnezzar.
The article states that Daniel was taken during the exile of Nebuchadnezzar’s seventh year (again without recognising the use of the accession-year system), and fails to recognise that an earlier exile was not necessary for Daniel and others to have been given as part of the tribute previously paid by Jehoiakim.
Despite ignoring the logical order of events of the first two chapters, the interpretation suggested in the article only makes Daniel about seven years younger by the time of Darius, and does not significantly deal with the issue of Daniel’s advanced age by that time. Instead, Daniel’s advanced age is simply ‘explained away’ as being “filled with Jehovah’s spirit”.
Something doesn’t add up
As if it had already provided any “proof”, the article then claims that it has more.
The article contends that Daniel’s first meeting with Nebuchadnezzar was after three years of training, and that events of chapter 2 must have come later. However, such a view does not agree with the Bible. If the events of Daniel 1:20 truly pre-dated chapter 2, Nebuchadnezzar would already have known that Daniel was “ten times better” than all of the other wise men, so by the time of the events of Daniel 2:2, Daniel should have been the foremost person that Nebuchadnezzar would call to interpret his dream. However, the story in chapter 2 does not suggest that Nebuchadnezzar knew Daniel at all at the time.
Daniel chapter 1 states that it was not only Daniel who was brought in at the end of the training, but all those who were sent for training (Daniel 1:3–5). Verses 18–19 say nothing to suggest that Nebuchadnezzar was not already familiar with Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach or Abednego, or that they did not already have official positions; it is only stated that none of the others were found to be as wise as them, and that Nebuchadnezzar further learned that Daniel (along with his three companions) was not only better, but ten times better than the other wise men. (Appendix L mentions Ezekiel’s reference to Daniel.)
…and now here’s a problem from secular sources!
The article next raises a straw-man argument regarding the plausibility of Nebuchadnezzar demanding tribute from Jerusalem on his way from Carchemish to Babylon to claim his throne upon learning of Nabopolassar’s death. Reference is made to BM 21946, which records Nebuchadnezzar’s return to Babylon in Elul (August/September) 605 BCE, and it is speculatively stated that it would not have been possible to make a siege on Jerusalem on the way. (Appendix Q provides further discussion of BM 21946.)
Though it is certainly possible that Nebuchadnezzar’s army demanded tribute from Jerusalem and other cities in the district on Nebuchadnezzar’s behalf while Nebuchadnezzar made a hurried return to Babylon, BM 21946 explicitly states that Nebuchadnezzar demanded the tribute on his return to the region in Tevet (January/February) of 604 BCE, still in his accession year. The taking of captives early in 604 BCE is consistent with Jehoiakim paying tribute for three full years (604 BCE to 601 BCE) and then his subsequent refusal following Babylon’s attack on Egypt in 601 BCE, as suggested by 2 Kings 24:1. Relying on the article’s own incorrect order of events of chapters 1 and 2 of Daniel, the article falsely claims that “the apostates [sic] argument needs this to happen in 605 BCE”. However, since Nebuchadnezzar did not know Daniel at the beginning of the story at Daniel chapter 2 but knew him to be the wisest person in Babylon at the end of chapter 1, there is no basis for the claim that a later arrival in Babylon would reduce their period of training.
The article argues that captives could not have been taken in Nebuchadnezzar’s accession year, claiming that the tablet first mentions “exiles” in Nebuchadnezzar’s seventh year, in reference to the capture of the king. However, the article ignores the fact that in both instances a “heavy tribute” was also paid, which typically included slaves.
The article claims that the biblical narrative does not allow for Daniel chapter 2 to address Daniel’s first encounter with Nebuchadnezzar. Actually, the exact opposite is true, as it is clear from the story that Nebuchadnezzar did not know Daniel at all before he interpreted the dream, let alone that he was “ten times wiser” than all the other wise men.
The article misdirects the focus of Daniel 1:18–20, ignoring the fact that it was not just Daniel, but “them” (that is, ‘all of the trainees’) who were presented to Nebuchadnezzar, of whom none were found to be like Daniel and his three companions. Notably, verse 19 indicates that Daniel and his three friends continued to stand before the king, suggesting that they were already serving there in some capacity. Appendix N attempts to further confuse the order of events presented in the first two chapters of Daniel.
The article again restates its flawed conclusions. It claims it is “abundantly clear” that references to Nebuchadnezzar’s ‘kingship’ were relative to the Jews. It is meaningless though, to suggest that Babylon’s seventy years of domination of the surrounding nations began when (and because) Jerusalem was captured, as those nations were not viewed as subject to Jerusalem’s king prior to Babylonian rule.
It states that Daniel completed his three years of training before seeing the king, whereas any number of individuals may have met the king during their training, but all of the trainees were brought in at the end of the three years. Most significantly, Daniel wasn’t known to Nebuchadnezzar at the beginning of chapter 2, he was known to him at the end of chapter 2, and chapter 1 does not indicate that he was unknown to Nebuchadnezzar prior to the end of the training period.
The article next attempts to deal with Isaiah’s references to Tyre, again insisting that the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BCE is incompatible with the Bible. Completely ignored in the section is the fact that Ezekiel specifically names Harran and other Assyrian cities as trading partners of Tyre (Ezekiel 27:23). When Harran was conquered by the Babylonians in 609 BCE, Tyre lost a major source of income. It is in that sense that Tyre became ‘forgotten’ commercially during Babylon’s seventy years; after Babylon was conquered in 539 BCE, Tyre once again became a major site for trade.
Of particular note, desperate to claim that “apostates” are wrong, this section of the article shows itself to be ‘apostate’ (by its own definition), directly contradicting the Watch Tower Society about the nature of Tyre’s seventy years. Specifically, the Society’s publication, Isaiah’s Prophecy—Light for all Mankind, volume 1, chapter 19, page 253, cites Jeremiah 25:8–17, and states “True, the island-city of Tyre is not subject to Babylon for a full 70 years, since the Babylonian Empire falls in 539 B.C.E. Evidently, the 70 years represents the period of Babylonia’s greatest domination,” (formatting added) acknowledging that Tyre’s period of seventy years is the same as the seventy years referred to by Jeremiah that ended with Babylon’s fall in 539 BCE. Ignoring the Watch Tower Society, the article attempts to explain how a literal period of seventy years supposedly applied specifically to Tyre.
Ezekiel 26:1–4, 7–9 is quoted, which indicates that Nebuchadnezzar would destroy Tyre’s walls because of its rejoicing over the destruction of Jerusalem. (Parts of verses 5, 6 and 8, which indicate that the people of Tyre’s dependant towns would be slain, are omitted as they conflict with the article’s interpretation of the ‘70 years’ for Tyre that follows.) Isaiah 23:13–16 is then quoted, and it is suggested that the seventy years of being ‘forgotten’ are only in a ‘commercial sense’. Interestingly, verse 14 states that seventy years are “the same as the days of one king,” reminiscent of the fact that Jeremiah 25:11–12 speaks of nations serving the “king of Babylon” for seventy years. (The article also ignores Ezekiel 26:12, which states that Tyre’s valuables would be plundered by Nebuchadnezzar. Ezekiel 29:18 says that did not occur, stating that Nebuchadnezzar and his army received no reward for besieging Tyre.)
The article quotes Isaiah 23:17–18, and claims those verses were fulfilled in 537 BCE “when the temple was rebuilt”, despite the fact that in their (incorrect) chronology the Jews returned in that year, and reconstruction of the temple foundations began the following year (Ezra 3:1, 8). Although it would be possible for additional time to have passed between the end of ‘seventy years for Tyre’ and Tyre’s subsequent provision of cedars for the temple, the article does not say that, as it would weaken the claim that Tyre’s seventy years could not have ended in 539 BCE.
The caption of a linked chart states that “Isaiah specifically says the period will end when Tyre’s profit becomes holy to Jehovah.” The implied causal relationship is false, because Isaiah actually said that “at the end … her profit must become something holy”. Though Isaiah indicates that the profit would be given after the period ended, the article claims that it marks the end of the period. (The caption on a second linked chart raises an irrelevant straw-man argument proposing Tyre’s ‘70 years’ from 587 BCE until 517 BCE; its caption states: “… or simply be render it’s words meaningless [sic].”)
The article then attempts to dismiss the secular chronology of the period, even though the Watch Tower Society’s own interpretation of Tyre’s seventy years is consistent with secular history—specifically, that Tyre’s seventy years “represents the period of Babylonia’s greatest domination.”
The article refers to “the Bible’s 607-based chronology,” as a dishonest claim of authority, though the Bible contains no explicit year-based chronology at all. The article then boasts that only its own interpretation of Tyre’s seventy years is compatible with its own interpretation of ‘607 chronology’, and claims that “secular historians, … the Churches, and … the apostates” are wrong, though it omits that the Watch Tower Society also contradicts its interpretation.
The article restates its flawed conclusions: that the seventy years of being ‘forgotten’ had to have begun after Jerusalem was destroyed, and that such a period is supposedly only compatible with “607-based chronology”.
Ignoring the fact that 587 BCE is accepted by professional secular historians, the article continues its ad hominem attack on “Christendom and the apostates”.
This section of the article claims that a prophecy at Ezekiel 29:1–16 about Egypt being desolate for forty years must have been fulfilled by Nebuchadnezzar. The fact that the passage does not actually mention either Nebuchadnezzar or Babylon is ignored. As with their interpretation of the ‘70 years for Tyre’, the article’s claims about ‘Egypt’s 40-year desolation’ are not endorsed by the Watch Tower Society.
The article quotes Ezekiel 29:12, which states that Egypt was to become a “desolate waste” for forty years. It then quotes parts of Jeremiah 42:15–16, 19 to suggest that the forty years of desolation would affect any Jews who tried to seek refuge in Egypt, despite the fact that the alleged beginning of Egypt’s forty years of desolation by its own interpretation (588 BCE) post-dates its own dating for when all of the Jews had already been exiled to Babylon, including those whom it alleges had sought refuge in Egypt (602 BCE).
Next, the article quotes Ezekiel 29:17–20, which states that Babylon would be given a victory over Egypt as a reward for carrying out judgement against Tyre (apparently because of the failure of Ezekiel 26:12). The fact that Ezekiel 29:17 introduces an entirely separate pronouncement separated by sixteen years from the first part of the chapter is ignored. It is then alleged that the forty years of desolation of Egypt must have eventuated, despite the fact that neither secular history nor the Bible provide any evidence that it happened.
The article correctly states that Nebuchadnezzar went up against Egypt in his 37th year (568 BCE), but incorrectly cites it as 588 BCE. The fact that the previous pharaoh, Hophra (aka Apries) was allied with Babylon in this attack—against the new pharaoh, Amasis II—is ignored, as is the fact that the attack was unsuccessful. The article then speculates that Egypt was desolate for forty years starting from 588 BCE, and makes the additional baseless claim that a later military alliance with Nabonidus supports that view. No explanation is offered for the logistics of exiling all of Egypt to Babylon, or for the circumstances of their supposed return. Significantly, their interpretation requires that Pharaoh Amasis had a protracted sixty-four-year reign, encompassing the entire forty-year period of supposed desolation, ignoring the much more logical and secularly accepted view that Amasis’ forty-four-year reign was peaceful and prosperous. The article then indicates how secular history demonstrates that it didn’t happen, and claims that all of the secular history must be wrong. Notably though, the period of Amasis’ reign as uncontested ruler in Egypt after the death of Hophra was forty years. As far as Hophra and his lineage were concerned, Egypt was destroyed during Amasis’ uncontested forty-year reign. Less than a year after the end of Amasis’ reign, Egypt became a “lowly kingdom” as part of the Persian Empire, consistent with Ezekiel 29:14–15.
Though there is also precedent in scripture for retracting a Babylonian victory over Egypt as a ‘reward’, this is also ignored. The Bible indicates that Babylon was chosen to execute judgement on Jerusalem (Jeremiah 25:1–12; Jeremiah 30:11), but was then punished for its treatment of the Jews (Jeremiah 25:38; 51:34–36). Babylon apparently exceeded punishment “to the proper degree”, otherwise a subsequent judgement against Babylon would be unjust. It is therefore consistent that Nebuchadnezzar, or his progeny, would later be denied as full a conquest of Egypt (Jeremiah 18:7–10). It is also worth noting that if Egypt had to be uninhabited during forty years of desolation, it would be more likely to occur during the Persian period from 525 BCE until 404 BCE while there was no pharaoh in Egypt. (However, there is no evidence that happened either.)
The article provides a link to a chart that claims to be consistent with secular history, however the period given for the ‘forty years’ is not supported by any secular sources (or by the Watch Tower Society). In addition to the contradictory secular facts not explicitly shown in the chart, it is claimed that Nebuchadnezzar’s 37th year was 588 BCE, which does not “harmonize with … secular history.” The chart also claims without basis that “all captives are released” in 539 BCE. A second chart claiming to present “secular chronology” raises another straw-man, postulating a forty-year Egyptian exile from 568 BCE until 528 BCE (though it does closely coincide with the unchallenged rule of Amasis II following the defeat of Hophra). The article then attempts to lead the reader with a series of questions that encourage fundamentalism and dogma to overrule logical analysis. Appendix G attempts to refute selected complaints about the forty-year period.
The section starts off by claiming that the secular chronology is unworkable, but provides no evidence to back up the claim. It then states that “some” place the seventy years from Jerusalem’s destruction in 587 BCE until twenty years after the year in which they claim it was re-inhabited (though their selection of 537 BCE contradicts the Bible).
The article’s accompanying chart claims to present the secular view of the period as “a comparason [sic] with Biblical chronology”, but shows 537 BCE as the year for the Jews’ return despite that being incompatible with the Bible and Josephus.
The article again makes the irrelevant claim that Jeremiah’s seventy years could not have begun in Jehoiakim’s third year because an exile did not take place in that year, ignoring the fact that captives were part of the tribute paid to Nebuchadnezzar. (It also again ignores the fact that Daniel‘s reference to Jehoiakim’s “third year” did not count his accession year, and it was actually the same year that Jeremiah called Jehoiakim’s fourth year.)
Rather than acknowledging that Zechariah describes a different period of seventy years to that defined by Jeremiah, the article dishonestly claims that ‘opposers’ contradict themselves by placing the same period at two different times. It then continues its persecution complex, claiming that everyone simply wants to make Jehovah’s Witnesses ‘look bad’ rather than trying to point out the facts.
The article quotes Zechariah 1:12 and 7:5, which indicate a period of seventy years that was still on-going nearly twenty years after Babylon’s fall. The article employs its pejorative use of the word “apostates” again, claiming that ‘they’ take things out of context. Then the article quotes Zechariah 1:15, and correctly indicates that the Jews had not yet completed the rebuilding of the temple, but ignores the fact that this was the reason for which Jerusalem was still “denounced” (Hebrew za`am, ‘to express indignation’). The article also misapplies the significance of the ‘nations being at ease’; however, the biblical account indicates that during the latter part of “these seventy years” about which Zechariah was speaking, the nations were no longer under oppressive Babylonian rule, indicating a period distinct from the seventy 70-years mentioned in Jeremiah, Daniel, and 2 Chronicles.
The article next attempts to use the expression “how long” at Zechariah 1:12 to imply an undefined period distinct from the seventy years, ignoring the actual sense of the idiom. As is often the case in modern usage, almost every question in the Bible of the form, “how long…?” is used as a rhetorical device to indicate frustration with the circumstances rather than an actual request for a specific duration. For example, Amos 8:5 refers to people asking “how long?” until the next new moon or Sabbath, though such a period is of known duration.
The article again connects the end of the denunciation with the rebuilding of the temple, but continues to ignore the fact that this is the focal point of Zechariah’s references to ‘70 years’, which began with the destruction of the temple in 587 BCE. The article then quotes Zechariah 7:3, and states that seventy years is not mentioned in that verse when referring to the period during which the Jews would “weep in the fifth month” (Jeremiah 52:12), despite the fact that verse 5 indicates that those annual fasts (commemorating the destruction of the temple and the death of governor Gedaliah in the fifth and seventh months, respectively) had been observed “for seventy years”. The article then illogically claims that the seventy years had ended nearly twenty years prior—invalidating the context of the men’s question—in an attempt to separate the seventy years from the period of fasting.
The article repeats its claim that Judea was uninhabited for seventy years (never stated in the Bible) to try to reinforce its claim that Zechariah referred to the same period. It then restates its false claim that the Jews returned in 537 BCE, contradicting Ezra, Josephus, and their own earlier interpretation for Tyre’s seventy years.
The article restates its false conclusions. It suggests that the seventy-year period in Zechariah ending in 517 BCE supposedly contradicts the end of a different period in 539 BCE described in Jeremiah, Daniel, and 2 Chronicles. It also ignores the wording and context of Zechariah, claiming that it indicates a period of seventy years that had finished nearly twenty years prior.
The seventy years mentioned at Zechariah 1:12 and 7:5 ended “in the fourth year of Darius”, seventy years after 587 BCE, the established year that Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed. This coincides with the nearing of completion of the temple after the decree by Darius. In the ninth month—after the fasts had been held for the seventieth year—Sharezer and Regem-melech were sent to ask if the weeping and fasting should stop, because Zechariah had been told that the denunciation would last seventy years.
The article next presents an irrational straw-man argument regarding a hypothetical notion that Babylon was actually conquered in 519 BCE.* This conjecture is based on the flawed and non-biblical conclusion that the seventy years were the same as the period of being uninhabited.
*In the PDF version of the website, this section is instead presented as ‘Appendix R’.
The article acknowledges there is “abundant secular evidence” in support of 539 BCE, though it denies the strongly interconnected secular evidence that establishes the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BCE. The article claims that the evidence for 539 BCE is accepted because it “does not contradict the scriptures”, however it is only their flawed interpretation of the scriptures that is not also compatible with 587 BCE.
Despite the Society’s rejection of many secularly accepted dates before, after, and during the period, the article here makes the assertion that if this particular date is wrong, it would necessitate the shifting forward of all other secularly established dates. However, in view of their twenty-year gap in Neo-Babylonian history and their gross disregard for secular sources, it is evident that if they desired, their illusory chronology could simply extend a later period by a similar amount to ‘push back’ the fall of Babylon to 539 BCE.
The article states its conclusions, with the implication that because it accepts the secularly accepted date of 539 BCE, that all of its other dates must be correct. The fact remains that 539 BCE is not the end-point of their seventy years, and their alleged events and terminus for the period (537 BCE) contradict secular history and the Bible.
The article sums up its ‘conclusions’. It applies its fictional interpretations of the scriptures to secular history, and from there, concludes that secular history is wrong, under the guise of ‘agreeing with the Bible’.
- “Jerusalem uninhabited and in ruins for 70 years”
- The Bible does not state anywhere that Jerusalem was uninhabited for seventy years.
- “70 years of the nations [sic] servitude to Babylon starting with Nebuchadnezzar”
- It is valid to refer to Nebuchadnezzar as king in the same manner that Belshazzar was called king while still prince (and Nebuchadnezzar was officially king as of September 605 BCE anyway, which is the setting for Jeremiah chapter 25). Additionally, Jeremiah only states that nations would serve “the king of Babylon”, not “Nebuchadnezzar”.
- “Tyre forgotten for 70 years”
- Even according to the Watch Tower Society, “Tyre’s 70 years” represented the period of Babylon’s domination and did not refer only to Tyre.
- “Egypt devastated for 40 years”
- The Bible does not indicate that such a devastation eventuated, and does not mention Babylon in the same passage as the forty years. It does indicate that Babylon was excessive in its treatment of the Jews, and would be punished for their treatment of them, weakening their deservedness of a reward of subjugation of Egypt. The length of the reign of Pharaoh Amasis, particularly in the Society’s protracted model, is not indicative of devastation. (However, Amasis II did reign for forty years after Hophra’s unsuccessful challenge.)
607 BCE—the only date that works
Ignoring its many errors and inconsistencies, the article gives its fictional framework a glowing endorsement because it can be viewed (superficially) as internally consistent, based on its assertions that all the incompatible secular history must be wrong.
The article then reasons that anyone who does not accept 607 BCE is “extremely biased, rabidly opposed to Jehovah’s Witnesses, or just have no regard for the Bible’s inspiration to promote any other date,” supposedly proven by a link to a not-to-scale timeline.
The article claims its interpretations are accurate “month-to-month”, implying that it fulfils its requirements at the exact times required. It again ignores the fact that their selection of 537 BCE for the return of the Jews contradicts Josephus and Ezra, and that there is no evidence whatsoever to confirm their reckoning of the beginning of the period. The fact that nothing significant happened ‘month-to-month’ in October 1914 is ignored. A link to another chart shows the author’s interpretations of the seventy years, as well as their postulated periods of time for Egypt and Tyre that are not even supported by the Watch Tower Society.
What the passages “actually” mean
The article alleges that people who disagree with its model are distorting what the Bible says. It then lists some examples of what it claims are distortions of the biblical account.
- When the Bible says Jerusalem and Judah are both devastated for 70 years, it doesn’t actually mean 70.
- Incorrect—seventy does mean seventy. Daniel 9:2 states that the end of the seventy years would see the “fulfilling” of Jerusalem’s devastations. The original text indicates that the devastation would be complete then, not that it was completely devastated for the entire period. Jeremiah 29:10–14 and Daniel chapter 9 indicate that after the seventy years, the Jews would repent, and then they would be allowed to return to their homeland; they do not state that the seventy years ended after the Jews repented and returned to Jerusalem. Additionally, the ‘70 years of nations serving Babylon’ at Jeremiah 25:12 means exactly what it says, and does not actually mean ‘Jews in exile’.
- When it says 40 years for Egypt, it doesn’t actually mean 40.
- Incorrect—forty does mean forty. Forty years of desolation of Egypt was a possible eventuality. The Bible gives no indication that it actually transpired, or that it would be caused by the Babylonians, though the period may allude to Amasis’ uncontested reign after Hophra’s unsuccessful challenge.
- When Jeremiah said the land will be devastated, he actually meant it already was.
- Incorrect—Jeremiah did not mean the land was already devastated. Jeremiah indicated that nations would become devastated at a future time when Nebuchadnezzar brought the ‘calamity’, though the nations had already begun ‘serving the king of Babylon’ as the dominant world power.
- When the Bible said the land would be without an inhabitant, it didn’t actually mean without any inhabitants.
- Incorrect—without an inhabitant means without an inhabitant. However, the Bible never states that the land would be without an inhabitant for seventy years.
- When the Bible says all the princes were in Jerusalem, it didn’t actually mean all the princes were there.
- Incorrect—all who were available to be there were there. Jeremiah’s use of Tishri-based dating places the fast in December 605 BCE, prior to the tribute in early 604 BCE. Additionally, none of those mentioned as being in Jerusalem were those stated as being in Babylon. (The article attempts a similar fallacy in Appendix Q in regard to “all the kings”.)
- When the Bible said Daniel was trained for 3 years before seeing the King, it didn’t actually mean 3 years before seeing the King.
- Incorrect—three years means three years. The Bible says it was “them”, that is “the sons of Israel and of the royal offspring and of the nobles”, who saw the king after three years of training, not “Daniel”. Any of the people could individually have met the king prior to the end of the three years.
- When it said Tyre would be forgotten for 70 years until helping rebuild the temple, it didn’t actually mean 70.
- Incorrect—seventy years means seventy years. Tyre was considered to be in servitude to Babylon for seventy years as one of “these nations”. The Bible does not say that Tyre was forgotten until helping to rebuild the temple, but that after the seventy years ended, attention would be turned to Tyre, and then its hire would “become something holy”.
After the string of flawed comments, the article makes ad hominem attacks against those who disagree with their interpretations (meaninglessly comparing them to Trinitarians), and against secular historians (purportedly for relying on “pagan astrologers”). The article then claims that Jehovah’s Witnesses “go with the whole Bible record”, and then makes a further ad hominem attack regarding the alleged motives of secular historians.
The article falsely claims that its interpretations are tantamount to “God’s view”, and that everyone else contradicts the Bible.
It then engages an emotional ploy about ‘understanding the doubtful reader’, claiming that the authors also “at one time, believed that 607 BCE was incorrect.” Then a disingenuous appearance of humility is offered, stating that the authors had previously been “gullible enough to be taken in by” those who recognize the validity of 587 BCE; actually this is employed as an appeal to the reader’s pride, lest they too be ‘gullible’. The paragraph then presents a persecution complex, lying about the motives of those who do not agree with 607 BCE.
The article then makes reference to an unnamed “very popular book which advocates the 587 BCE date”, and makes an ad hominem attack on its author, again employing the pejorative usage of the word “apostate”. It is again falsely claimed that 587 BCE is not compatible with the Bible. The article concludes with a quote from Romans 16:17–18 (incorrectly cited as the non-existent Romans 17:18–19), with the implication that agreeing with whatever the Watch Tower Society happens to teach at any particular time is more important than truth.
The first appendix attempts to defend Jehovah’s Witnesses’ numerology that connects their interpretation of Jerusalem’s destruction with their fiction surrounding 1914.
The Seven Times prophecy
This section of the article claims that it has provided “irrefutable evidence” for their position (all of which has been refuted above), and then makes the allegation that others are “forced to admit” that their position “may indeed be … right”, though their arguments have actually proven not only unconvincing, but have been categorically disproved. Ignoring that fact, the article then claims that ‘critics try to dismiss the issue as unimportant’ instead, perhaps drawing on the fact that most people simply do not care about the flawed beliefs of a minor religion. It then objects to the idea that “there is no evidence that 607 began the Gentile Times and that 1914 was the end of those Gentile Times” (in actuality, the scriptures provide positive evidence against that position).
The section then draws on the use of the word “times” (Greek: καιρός, kairos) at Revelation 12:14, and claims that because a comparison of that verse with Revelation 12:6 suggests “times” to mean “1260 days” (3.5 ‘years’ of 360 days each), that the unrelated “times” (Aramaic: עִדָּן, `iddan) mentioned in Daniel ‘must’ be of the same duration. For no particular reason, it is stipulated that the “seven times” must actually represent years (of approximately 365.242 days each), resulting in 2,520 years. It is then stated that this contrived duration is the period “from 607BC to 1914CE”. It is conveniently omitted that the alleged end of the period was meant to occur in October of 1914, at which time nothing happened.
Why Daniel Used the Word ‘Times’ not Years [sic]
The appendix next makes suppositions about why the author of Daniel used the word “times” (Aramaic `iddan), asserting that this must be to correlate with use of the word “times” (Greek kairos) in Revelation. In the story, the word “times” is used because it is the word Nebuchadnezzar initially uses in his description of his dream, and the story is written from the perspective of Nebuchadnezzar rather than Daniel. The suggestion that the author of Daniel chose a particular word for some special purpose only makes sense if the statements attributed to Nebuchadnezzar (not only his description of the dream but the entire chapter) are merely a fictitious narrative rather than a historical account. Ignoring that logical conclusion, the section continues with its speculative reasoning, suggesting that the only possible reason for Revelation to stipulate that 3½ times were specifically 1,260 days could only be to provide meaning to the story in Daniel. The article makes this claim several times, trying to convince the reader of its superstitious numerological reasoning.
It then suggests that Daniel chapter 4 must have an additional fulfilment beyond Nebuchadnezzar, and quotes Daniel 4:17, which says in part that “the Most High is Ruler in the kingdom of mankind”. In their interpretation, the seven years of the ‘initial fulfilment’ allegedly occurred after the 2,520 years had already begun, meaning Nebuchadnezzar was simultaneously the highest ‘ruler in the kingdom of mankind’ (since the tree had already been banded) and ‘the lowliest of men’. The paradox is conveniently ignored.
Could Seven Times Mean 70 Years or some other period?
A spurious suggestion that some claim seven times really meant “7 decades” is raised. Decades are never mentioned in the Bible, and the argument is a red herring. Mention is made of 537 BCE, though no evidence has been provided for the period to have started in 607 BCE. It is claimed that the seven times must mean 2,520 years, because no Judean king was installed in 537 BCE. The fact that nothing happened in October of 1914 either is ignored.
Another unrelated non-issue is raised in the same section regarding whether ‘years’ of 365 days should be used instead of ‘years’ of 360 days. The spurious connection with the period from Revelation is again furnished as proof for the length of the period, though no explanation is offered for why the ‘day for a year rule’ is not applied to the other “times” referred to in Daniel. Also ignored is the fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not employ the same ‘rule’ even for the “times” in Revelation chapter 11 that supposedly define the period.
What the Tree Pictures
It is alleged in this section that because it was a common metaphor to refer to kingdoms as trees, that the tree in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream must be the same as any other reference to kingdoms represented by trees.
The Riddle of Ezekiel 17
This section continues the notion that any metaphorical use of a kingdom represented by a tree must refer to the same kingdom.
Trees, Stumps, Roots, Twigs and the Kingship of Jesus
More scriptures that relate to trees are mentioned, with no relevance to the tree in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, and then it is speculated that these scriptures correlate with their alleged extended interpretation of Daniel chapter 4.
The Prophecies of Daniel Point to Jesus as Ruler
It is asserted in this section that other prophecies in Daniel were about the Messiah, so it is claimed that Nebuchadnezzar’s dream must also have been about the Messiah. The fact that Daniel explicitly provided the interpretation of the dream is ignored, as is the fact that only two stories in the entire book of Daniel make any reference to a future kingdom of God. Additionally, none of Daniel actually refers to Jesus, despite later Christian re-interpretations of the book.
Should We Apply the Day for a Year Rule?
It is claimed that not applying the spurious ‘day for a year’ rule would point to a time where nothing happened. The fact that nothing happened in October of 1914 is ignored. The article then draws again on its previous claim that the author of Daniel used the word “times” for a higher purpose, again ignoring the fact that the arbitrary term was that provided in the description of the dream by Nebuchadnezzar.
Jerusalem Will Be Trampled On by the Nations
Next the appendix attempts to defend the incorrect interpretation of correlating the 2,520 years with the “appointed times of the nations”, or “Gentile Times”. The fact that the original Greek wording of Luke 21:24 precludes those “appointed times” beginning prior to the other events discussed in that passage is ignored. Also ignored is the fact that Revelation 11:2 indicates the length of that period to be forty-two months (or only 3½ ‘times’), which actually refers to the Roman conquest of Jerusalem from 66 CE until 70 CE. An illustration about Elvis is provided, which also ignores the fact that the grammar of Luke does not support their interpretation.
It is then claimed that “events that took place on earth in 1914” prove their position. However, nothing significant happened in October of 1914. The events that occurred earlier in the year have no relevance, because the ‘woe to the earth’ is supposed to follow the appearance of the Messiah. The fulfilment cannot be placed prior to October, because the month for the starting point, and therefore the end point, of their 2,520 years cannot be moved without destroying their own interpretation. Reference to October is conveniently ignored.
One of the Most Important Prophecies in the Bible
The article makes a circular reference about the alleged importance of the 607 BCE doctrine because of its significance to other core beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses, particularly in connection with 1914. The fact that nothing of significance happened in October of 1914 is quietly ignored.
Secular records “correcting” the Bible
This appendix begins by attacking historian Edwin Thiele for changing the lengths of certain reigns in his chronology of Jewish kings from those stated in the Bible, as if to claim that biblical chronology cannot otherwise be reconciled with known secular history. The article makes reference to one of the more significant problems with their chronology—the twenty-year gap—and acknowledges that other problems also exist. In contrast, a tabulation of Judean kings (PDF) using reigns as stipulated by the Bible is entirely compatible with the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BCE.
It is suggested that Josephus disagrees with other sources for the lengths of reigns of Neo-Babylonian kings, with the implication that he might therefore agree with the 607-based chronology. However, Josephus elsewhere specifically indicates a fifty-year period for the desolation of Jerusalem’s temple (Against Apion, Book I, chapter 21), and a specific period of 182.5 years “from the captivity of the ten tribes to the first year of Cyrus” (Antiquities of the Jews, Book X), which is only consistent if 587 BCE is employed for Jerusalem’s destruction.
The article makes reference to “at least one” ‘expert’ who is not in support of 587 BCE for Jerusalem’s destruction. However, the article does not disclose the inherent bias of their chosen expert, Rolf Furuli, a Jehovah’s Witness.* The article then arrogantly claims that it is “the Bible’s viewpoint” rather than their interpretation of it that is at odds with 587 BCE.
* Furuli’s field of expertise is Semitic languages. He is not a historian.
The article then suggests that because some archaeological records may not be correctly understood that they must all be wrong, with a plea of wishful thinking that “Perhaps some key evidence has been overlooked, disregarded, or ‘corrected’?”
The article’s speculative interpretation of the forty-year desolation of Egypt is cited as an example of contradictions between the Bible and secular history, though even Watch Tower publications do not endorse the article’s interpretation.
Next, the article attempts to minimise the fact that there are various lines of corroborating evidence for the known chronology of the period, by stating that some of those lines of evidence have a common source. The article then admits that no matter how much evidence is presented to the contrary, secular evidence will simply be ignored in favour of their own interpretations, with a claim of using “the Bible as the ultimate authority”, ignoring various elements of their chronology that also contradict the Bible itself.
Why does the NWT use the word “devastations” and not “ruins” at Daniel 9:2?
The article briefly explains the New World Translation’s choice of the word “devastations”. Unfortunately, the correct sense in which the “devastations” were ‘fulfilled’ is ignored. The 2013 revision of the New World Translation has abandoned the use of “devastations” at this verse, in favour of “desolation”.
Josephus’s [sic] account of the exiles from Jerusalem
This appendix claims that Josephus does not support 587 BCE for the destruction of Jerusalem. Again, the article incorrectly and pejoratively applies the word “apostate” to refer to a view that is inconsistent with JW dogma. Without citing the actual source, the article quotes from chapter 6 of Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, Book X, which the article incorrectly interprets as being in chronological order. That this is not the case is evidenced by the fact that the fifth quoted paragraph refers to Jehoiakim’s fifth year, whereas the third paragraph, in their interpretation, refers to events that occurred “on the third year” after Jehoiakim’s eighth year. Additionally, the article’s interpretation of the passage cannot be reconciled with other statements by Josephus, such as his indication of the period of time between the end of the ten-tribe kingdom and the beginning of Cyrus’ reign.
In actuality, “in the fourth year of Jehoiakim … Nebuchadnezzar took the government over the Babylonians” in Elul (August/September) 605 BCE, then when Nebuchadnezzar returned in Sebat (January/February) 604 BCE, Judea was ‘excepted’ from being ‘taken’ because Jehoiakim “bought his peace with money” and “brought the tribute he was ordered to bring for three years” (during Nebuchadnezzar’s subsequent campaigns throughout the region from mid-604 BCE into 601 BCE). However, “on the third year”, “when Nebuchadnezzar had already reigned four years”, Nebuchadnezzar came to demand tribute, but Jehoiakim refused to pay, “upon hearing that the king of the Babylonians made an expedition against the Egyptians” in December 601 BCE. Specifically, the reference to Jehoiakim having paid tribute for three years is correctly seen as a parenthetical statement in contrast to his subsequent refusal to pay in early 600 BCE. This order of events is confirmed by BM 21946.
Daniel 1:1 is misapplied, expressly contradicting the plain indication of Jehoiakim’s third year by claiming, with no basis in the original text, that it actually refers to his third year as a vassal to Nebuchadnezzar, and by presuming that “gave into his hand” actually means “killing him”. Actually, Jehoiakim became a tributary in his third regnal year (not counting accession year), when “some of the utensils” were taken to Babylon as part of the tribute.
Excuses for only 68 years
Conveniently ignoring the fact that the period from the fall of Assyria’s final capital city, Harran, in 609 BCE until the Medo-Persian conquest of Babylon in 539 BCE is exactly seventy years, this appendix raises a straw-man argument claiming that “apostate’s interpretations [sic]” only allow for a period of sixty-eight years.
Though the premise for the appendix is redundant, it also provides no reliable basis for its claim that the period cannot be a round figure, and instead relies on speculation. In an attempt to establish that the period must be exact, it poses several rhetorical questions regarding other periods mentioned in the Bible that cannot be verified as exact.
The appendix then claims that “another tactic” is to move the return date of the Jews, however this is particularly irrelevant as the seventy years refers to a period during which “nations” served Babylon (Jeremiah 25:11–12), with no mention in the Bible of a seventy-year exile; instead, Jeremiah 29:10 expressly states that attention would be given to the Jews’ return after the 70 years had been completed.
Jeremiah 25:18—Just as at this day
This appendix raises another straw-man argument, vaguely citing an alleged claim by “some [unnamed] apostates” that the phrase “just as at this day” (Jeremiah 25:18) may have some bearing on the correct interpretation of Jeremiah chapter 25. Since the calamity was experienced by different nations at different times during Babylon’s seventy years of dominance, there is no need to even claim that Jerusalem was already devastated in Jehoiakim’s fourth year.
The appendix awkwardly suggests that Jeremiah 25:17–26 “are not enclosed in quotation marks” because they were written years later. Though a period of time may have passed between the first and second parts of Jeremiah chapter 25,* that isn’t why unspoken material that isn’t part of the pronouncement is not given in quotation marks. The presence or absence of quotation marks in an English translation of an ancient narrative in itself has no bearing at all on whether something was written years later.
* In the Greek Septuagint version, Jeremiah chapter 25 corresponds to the first thirteen verses of the Hebrew version, immediately followed by Jeremiah 49:34–39 and 46:1. Verses 14–38 of the Hebrew version correspond to an entirely separate pronouncement that makes up chapter 32 in the Septuagint.
Attempts at explaining-away [sic] the Tyre and Egypt problems
This appendix attempts to attack various arguments against the article’s own speculative interpretations of desolation of forty years for Egypt and seventy years for Tyre. Notably, the article’s interpretations for these periods are not supported even by Watch Tower Society literature.
Tactic 1: Contradict yourself (Egypt)
A straw-man argument about Egypt being depopulated in Nebuchadnezzar’s 23rd year is raised and subsequently attacked.
Tactic 2: Use a logical fallacy (Tyre and Egypt)
Another straw-man argument is raised, arguing against the fact that Tyre was not depopulated for a literal period of seventy years. In providing its argument, the article contradicts the Watch Tower Society’s interpretation regarding Tyre (Isaiah’s Prophecy—Light for all Mankind, volume 1, chapter 19, page 253).
The section then states (correctly) that one instance being figurative has no bearing on whether the other is figurative, but gives no basis for any claim that the period for Egypt is not figurative. Significantly, Watch Tower Society literature does not support the article’s interpretation of the forty years for Egypt, instead acknowledging that “the secular history of Egypt provides no positive evidence of the prophecy’s fulfillment” (The Watchtower, “Questions From Readers”, 1 October 1970, page 608).
Tactic 3: Make something up (Egypt)
A straw-man argument is raised, refuting an alleged claim that Egypt might have repented in a similar case to that of Nineveh. The possibility of Babylon’s victory over Egypt being figurative or exaggerated is ignored. The plausibility of a diminished Babylonian victory over Egypt due to “Babylon’s harsh treatment of God’s people,” (Insight, “Drunkenness”, volume 1, page 657) is attacked separately under ‘Tactic 7’.
Tactic 4: Use another logical fallacy: Argument from ignorance (Egypt)
This section claims that even though there is no evidence that Egypt was completely depopulated for forty years, it still must have happened. It relies on a reference to a Babylonian chronicle (BM 33041) which states that Nebuchadnezzar “went to Mitzraim (Egypt) to make war.” The article then presumes that there is “a good possibility” that the rest of the damaged chronicle supports its position.
Tactic 5: Yet Another logical fallacy: If I don’t know how it can be done, then it can’t be done (Egypt)
This section raises a straw-man argument that Babylon could have exiled all of Egypt regardless of how difficult it might seem. No evidence is provided to indicate that it actually happened.
(The article’s own insistence that Nebuchadnezzar could not possibly have demanded tribute from Jerusalem on his way to Babylon before ascending to the throne employs the same logical fallacy.)
Tactic 6: My argument isn’t wrong, the evidence is wrong! (Tyre)
Another straw-man argument, this section attacks the veracity of anyone who claims that Ezekiel was not a genuine prophet. However, whether Ezekiel prophesied in advance or the text was written later does not affect whether the interpretation is figurative. Though the alleged ‘tactic’ makes reference to “evidence”, no actual evidence is discussed.
Humorously (albeit unintended), the article makes reference to a “leading opposer of 607” as if there is some formal hierarchy among individuals who recognise JW doctrines to be in error.
Tactic 7: Make something up (again) (Egypt)
This section attacks the possibility that Babylon did not have as complete a victory over Egypt as had been foretold because of its harsh treatment of the Jews. The article arrogantly questions why the prophecy would be made but not then fulfilled, querying the Bible’s silence on why the foretold outcome did not occur. However, no attempt is made to explain why the Bible does not state that it did occur.
Tactic 8: Contradict yourself (again) (Egypt)
This section claims that any suggestion of forty years for Egypt being figurative is a contradiction, though no explanation is provided for what is actually contradicted. The article asserts that other periods of forty days or years in the Bible must be literal (without evidence), and concludes that Egypt’s forty years must also be literal.
While dogmatically asserting that such periods must be literal, no mention is made of the Watch Tower Society’s statement that “Tyre is not subject to Babylon for a full 70 years” (Isaiah’s Prophecy—Light for all Mankind, volume 1, page 253).
The appendix concludes with an assertion that anyone who rejects JW dogma is “obsessed with discrediting Jehovah’s Witnesses” because they dare to accept an interpretation that is consistent with secular history. Again, it is falsely implied that the scriptural accounts cannot be reconciled with the known secular history.
Jeremiah 52:20 [sic]—where did the exiles come from?
This appendix (including its heading) repeatedly cites verse 20 of Jeremiah chapter 52; it is actually discussing verse 30.
Another straw-man argument, this appendix attempts to claim that Jerusalem’s destruction in 587 BCE precludes later exiles being taken from Judea in Nebuchadnezzar’s 23rd year. To set up the false premise, the section starts by stating that “the Bible clearly says that the land will be without inhabitants during the 70 years”. However, while parts of Judea were devastated for part of that period, the Bible makes no reference to either exile or complete depopulation for any entire seventy-year period.
The article then claims that exiles taken in Nebuchadnezzar’s 23rd year must have been made up of Jews who had fled to Egypt, with the assertion that Nebuchadnezzar’s bodyguard attacked Egypt while Nebuchadnezzar was besieging Tyre. However, it is more likely that Nebuchadnezzar’s bodyguard, Nebuzaradan, took captives in nearby Judea during the siege against Tyre. Additionally, it is consistent with Jeremiah 39:10 and 2 Kings 25:12 that the exiles taken in Nebuchadnezzar’s 23rd year were those whom Nebuzaradan had previously “let remain in the land of Judah” “as vinedressers and compulsory laborers”. The Bible never mentions Nebuzaradan going to Egypt, but it does refer to Jews returning from Egypt to Judah (Jeremiah 44:14, 28). Additionally, taking the Jews from Egypt in Nebuchadnezzar’s 23rd year contradicts the article’s assertion that the supposed ‘forty-year desolation’ of Egypt in Nebuchadnezzar’s 37th year would affect any Jews there.
Ezekiel 33:24, 27—these devastated places?
This appendix attempts to deal with one of the contradictions between the 607 BCE model and the Bible. Specifically, Ezekiel 33:21–24 indicates that in the twelfth year of exile, there were still inhabitants in Judea. This is entirely consistent with Jeremiah 39:10 and 2 Kings 25:12, but incompatible with the JW requirement that there were no inhabitants. Instead, the section claims that the information “Jehovah gives Ezekiel … is time-delayed” (although all delays relate to time), and then speculates about what “some Jews thought”, the assumption being that Jehovah lies to Ezekiel about inhabitants in Jerusalem in order to appear consistent with an outdated report.
Also conveniently ignored in this section is the fact that Ezekiel and others had already been exiled for eleven years by the time Jerusalem was destroyed, and it was those exiles who had already been told years earlier that their own exile would continue until Babylon’s seventy years were completed (Jeremiah 29:10), which would be meaningless if that period had not yet begun. The claim is even more absurd in view of the rendering of Jeremiah 29:10 in the 2013 version of the New World Translation, which more clearly states that attention would be given to the Jews’ return only after seventy years had already ended.
Ezekiel 33:24, 27—Ten years prior?
This appendix refutes an alleged claim by “one critic” that the stated verses were “written ten years prior to the destruction of Jerusalem”. The context of the original comment is not provided.
See Appendix I for the contradiction of their view with these verses of Ezekiel, which is again quietly ignored.
Jeremiah 29:10—eighty years at Babylon?
This appendix attempts to defend the illogical requirement of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ 607 BCE dogma that exiles taken in early 597 BCE were exiled for longer than seventy years. This section relies on the New World Translation’s rendering of “seventy years at Babylon”, which conflicts with plain statements in Jeremiah chapter 25 that the seventy years was a period during which “all these nations round about” would serve Babylon, with no mention of exile. It also ignores the context of Jeremiah chapters 28 and 29, which specifically indicate those exiles as the intended recipients, refuting contrary claims by Hananiah of an earlier release.
The article then claims that those Jews would be exiled for sixty rather than eighty years, though either period is irrelevant because the seventy years indicated at Jeremiah 25:11–12 and 29:10 are in reference to Babylon’s supremacy in the region, not exile.
Ezekiel 28:3—Why was Daniel already famous?
The section begins with a humorous but irrelevant ad hominem attack. It then states that Daniel was known to Ezekiel as a very wise man, in what is claimed to be “after only six years of Daniel’s exile”. Taking the tales in Daniel chapters 1 and 2 at face value, and irrespective of JWs’ spurious interpretation of Daniel 1:1, it would be possible for Daniel to have become well known in the time indicated under either model, so the argument presented is not particularly noteworthy.
However, Daniel chapter 2 indicates that at that time Daniel was not yet known to Nebuchadnezzar as one of the wise men at all. This is evident because he would otherwise have been immediately called to interpret the dream rather than only after he had been sought for execution. Therefore, these events pre-dated the end of the three years of training and would therefore have also contributed to Daniel’s fame. Then at the end of the three years of training, when all of the trainees were presented, it was further learned that Daniel was “ten times better”.
The fact that Ezekiel most likely referred to some other individual is completely ignored. The original text of Ezekiel 14:14, 14:20, and 28:3 actually specifies Danel rather than Daniel, and the inclusion of the name among two other ancient non-Jews (Noah and Job) readily identifies the individual with Danel from the Ugaritic Epic of Aqhat.
Rolf Furuli on Vat [sic] 4956
Reference is made to the opinions of Rolf Furuli—a Jehovah’s Witness—about a tablet, VAT* 4956, but no information is provided (purportedly removed at the request of “Bro Furuli”), pending independent publication of Furuli’s pro-JW opinions.#
*VAT stands for Vorderasiatische Abteilung Tontafeln (literally, Near-Eastern Department clay tablets), identifying the tablet as part of the collection at the Berlin Museum. The author’s user of “Vat” suggests a mistaken view that it is an abbreviation for Vatican.
#This appendix is omitted from the Index on the original website.
The 1 November 2011 issue of The Watchtower claims that unnamed “researchers” have analysed VAT 4956 and found it compatible with their chronology. Their source is most likely Rolf Furuli’s Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, and Persian Chronology, Volume II. An independent consideration of his analysis calls his results into question.
See also The Watch Tower Society’s 2011 attempt to defend 607.
Daniel’s gross inconsistency?
This appendix claims that there is some difficulty with the order of events of Daniel when 587 BCE is recognised as the correct year for Jerusalem’s destruction. In actuality, the appendix’s own interpretation contains obvious flaws. Firstly, Daniel being given as part of a tribute in Nebuchadnezzar’s accession year is ignored, again with an assertion that no forced exiles were taken at that time. It is then claimed that Daniel’s three years of training must actually be limited to a shorter period for him to become famous and then interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.
Actually, the wording of Daniel 1:1 and 2:1 can be taken on face value. In these tales, Daniel is taken as part of a tribute in Nebuchadnezzar’s accession year, and begins three years of training, during which he becomes known as wise to those training him (Daniel 1:17). In Nebuchadnezzar’s second year, Daniel, not yet known to the king, is sought to be killed among the other wise men, but then Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and as a result is given a prominent position. Then at the end of the three years, all of the trainees are brought before the king, and Daniel, already recognised as wise, is then recognised as ten times better than all the others. Conversely, if—as is claimed in the article—Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream some time after his three years of training were completed, Nebuchadnezzar should already have known that Daniel was “ten times better” than the other wise men. But Daniel 2:2, 10–13 & 24–26 indicate that Nebuchadnezzar did not previously know about Daniel’s abilities. Instead of acknowledging this basic logic, much circumlocutory is employed to make it appear impossible for Daniel to have received three years of training and then interpret the king’s dream.
The appendix presents a table claiming that the ‘587′s “explanation”’ treats years in an inconsistent manner when interpreting Daniel 1:1, 1:5 & 2:1. The table correctly states that references to regnal years of Jehoiakim (1:1) and Nebuchadnezzar (2:1) do not count their accession years (which it calls “ascension months”). However, the table wrongly claims that Daniel 1:5 ‘must’ be using the “Jewish method of counting years”. The Jewish method of counting regnal years isn’t relevant, and the concept of “ascension months” has nothing to do with a period of training. The Babylonians used accession years for counting years of reign to avoid counting the same year for more than one king. Years of training are counted in the ordinary fashion—ordinal years starting from the first year—and have no use for an ‘accession period’, regardless of whether they are counted from a Jewish or Babylonian perspective. Additionally, the actual order of events indicated in the book of Daniel allows for three full years of training, as shown in the diagram below.
The appendix then claims that there is some inconsistency in the way “587-promoters” regard Daniel’s reckoning of regnal years, obfuscated by the distorted application of years as a vassal, which has no support in the original text. However, in each instance, Daniel consistently refers to regnal years as indicated, not as “kingship over Jews” but in relation to the nation discussed. Specifically, he refers to Jehoiakim’s reign over Judah, and Nebuchadnezzar’s, Belshazzar’s, and Cyrus’ reigns over Babylon. (Darius the Mede was governor in Babylon while waiting for Cyrus, so his rule has no accession period.)
Another example of counting from vassal kingships
This appendix makes an invalid comparison about Hoshea’s reign* in order to claim that the Bible elsewhere refers to reigns in terms of vassalage. In the Watch Tower Society’s chronology (The Watchtower, 15 September 1980, page 8), the beginning of Hoshea’s reign was disputed until he was officially enthroned with support from Tiglath-Pileser III.
* For more information about the Watch Tower Society’s distortion of Hoshea’s reign, see Ahaz and Hoshea.
In the secular reckoning of the period, which can be reconciled with the biblical record, there actually was no separate period during Hoshea’s reign (731 BCE – 723 BCE). The discrepancy in the Society’s chronology is caused by its failure to recognise Hezekiah’s partial co-regency with Ahaz. Additionally, Israel was already a vassal to Assyria, and Menahem and Pekah had also been paying tribute to Tiglath-Pileser III.# The premise for the comparison of Hoshea’s ‘vassalage’ is therefore irrelevant.
# See page 6 of timeline from 1048 BCE to 515 BCE (PDF).
Why does the chief of the Bodyguard have two names
This appendix attempts to explain why, as a result of its distorted chronology, the name of Nebuchadnezzar’s “chief of the bodyguard” switches from Nebuzaradan (in 607 BCE) to Arioch (in 605 BCE) and then back to Nebuzaradan (in 602 BCE). In the correct chronology, the position is occupied by Arioch in 603 BCE, and by Nebuzaradan in 587 BCE and 582 BCE (the appendix incorrectly refers to the latter year as 585 BCE). The appendix speculates wildly about whether there may have been more than one “chief of the bodyguard” or that they could have been the same person.
The BM 21946 Tablet and how it supports 607 rather than secular chronology
In this appendix, it is dishonestly claimed that BM 21946 supports the erroneous chronology of the Watch Tower Society. See also the list of anomalies in chapter 6.
What is BM21946
The tablet chronicling some of Nebuchadnezzar’s conquests is introduced. The appendix acknowledges that various parts of the tablet are damaged. Reference is made to row 8, which indicates that in 605 BCE, “Nebuchadnezzar conquered the whole area of the Hatti-country.”
Neb’s military conquests
Though the tablet explicitly goes on to state, from row 12, that after his accession in September 605 BCE, “In the accession year Nebuchadnezzar went back again to the Hatti-land and until the month of Šabatu [January/February 604 BCE] marched unopposed through the Hatti-land; in the month of Šabatu he took the heavy tribute of the Hatti-territory to Babylon”, the appendix raises a straw-man argument about how difficult it would be to ‘conquer’ Jerusalem before returning to Babylon. The fact that Nebuchadnezzar’s army likely remained in “the Hatti-country” while he returned to Babylon is also ignored.
In this appendix it is disputed that Nebuchadnezzar, after hearing in mid-August that his father had died, was able to return to Babylon in time to be crowned in early September.
Though the article previously condemned others for using the rationale that “If I don’t know how it can be done, then it can’t be done” (in relation to the ridiculous claim that all of Egypt was desolate for forty years), the author now boldly employs the same ‘method’.
However, the claims that the travel times are “impossible” are greatly overstated. The appendix suggests that “for a horse and chariot about 30 miles per day is good”. A horse can gallop at 30 miles per hour, though not for extended periods. A horse pushed to run at 15mph, for less than five hours per day could cover the required distances. (Setting aside the fact that specially trained horses can cover one hundred miles in a day.) Whilst there was probably not particular concern given to individual animals, it is also possible that there were stops along the route where a rider could change horses to allow for maintained galloping speeds.
Conquest of the whole Hatti-country?
The straw-man is continued. As stated above, Nebuchadnezzar returned to Jerusalem in January 604 BCE, after his accession in September 605 BCE, so the speculation is irrelevant.
It is worth noting that when the tablet says “all the kings”, the appendix says it doesn’t really mean all the kings. The article hypocritically—and erroneously—employed a similar objection when referring to “all the princes” being present after Daniel and others had been taken to Babylon.
What probably happened
The appendix continues with its speculation. It continues to ignore the possibility that Nebuchadnezzar could have left orders with his army to continue throughout the region. It also ignores the fact that Nebuchadnezzar returned to Jerusalem a few months after claiming the Babylonian throne.
The appendix summarises its ignorant speculation. It then notes that Josephus states that Nebuchadnezzar “took all Syria, as far as Pelusium, excepting Judea“, but fails to note that Judea was not conquered because Jehoiakim paid a tribute.
Full Translation of Cuneiform Text BM21946
- In the twenty-first year the king of Akkad stayed in his own land, Nebuchadnezzar his eldest son, the crown-prince,
- mustered (the Babylonian army) and took command of his troops; he marched to Carchemish which is on the bank of the Euphrates,
- And crossed the river (to go) against the Egyptian army which lay in Carchemish,
- . . . . . fought with each other and the Egyptian army withdrew before him.
- He accomplished their defeat and to non-existence [beat?] them. As for the rest of the Egyptian army
- which had escaped from the defeat (so quickly that) no weapon had reached them, in the district of Hamath
- the Babylonian troops overtook and defeated them so that not a single man [escaped] to his own country.
- At that time Nebuchadnezzar conquered the whole area of the Hatti-country.
- for twenty-one years Nabopolassar had been king of Babylon.
- On the 8th of the month of Ab he died (lit. ‘the fates’); in the month of Elul Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon
- and on the first day of the month of Elul he sat on the royal throne in Babylon.
- In the accession year Nebuchadnezzar went back again to the Hatti-land and until the month of Sebat
- marched unopposed through the Hatti-land; in the month of Sebat he took the heavy tribute of the Hatti-territory to Babylon.
- In the month of Nisan he took the hands of Bel and the son of Bel and celebrated the akitu (New Year) festival.
- In the first year of Nebuchadnezzar in the month of Sivan he mustered his army
- and went to the Hatti-territory, he marched about unopposed in the Hatti-territory until the month of Kislev.
- All the kings of the Hatti-land came before him and he received their heavy tribute.
- He marched to the city of Askelon and captured it in the month of Kislev.
- He captured its king and plundered it and carried off [spoil from it . . . . .]
- He turned the city into a mound and heaps of ruins and then in the month of Sebat he marched back to Babylon.
- In the second [year] in the month of Iyyar the king of Akkad gathered together a powerful army and [marched to the land of Hatti].
- . . . . . . he threw down, great siege-towers he . . . . . .
- . . . . . . from the month of Iyyar until the mon[th of . . . ] he marched about unopposed in the land of Hatti.
- In the third year [. . . he l]eft and . . . . . .
- [in the month of . . . on the] thirteenth day, Nabusumalisir . . . . .
- . . . the king of Akkad mustered his troops and [marched] to the Hatti-land.
- and brought (back) much [spoil] from the Hatti-land into Akkad.
- In the fourth year the king of Akkad mustered his army and marched to the Hatti-land. In the Hatti-land they marched unopposed.
- In the month of Kislev he took the lead of his army and marched to Egypt. The king of Egypt heard (it) and mustered his army.
- In open battle they smote the breast (of) each other and inflicted great havoc on each other. The king of Akkad and his troops turned panic and returned to Babylon.
- In the fifth year the king of Akkad (stayed) in his own land and gathered together his chariots and horses in great numbers.
- In the sixth year in the month of Kislev the king of Akkad mustered his army and marched to the Hatti-land. From the Hatti-land he sent out his companies,
- and scouring the desert they took much plunder from the Arabs, their possessions, animals and gods. In the month of Adar the king returned to his own land.
- In the seventh year, the month of Kislev, the king of Akkad mustered his troops, marched to the Hatti-land,
- and encamped against (i.e. besieged) the city of Judah and on the second day of the month of Adar he seized the city and captured the king.
- He appointed there a king of his own choice (lit. heart), received its heavy tribute and sent (them) to Babylon.
- In the eight year, the month of Tebet, the king of Akkad [marched] to the Hatti-land as far as Carchemish . . . . . .
- . . . . . . . . in the month of Sebat the king re[turned] to his own land.
- In the nin[th year, the month of . . . . . . the king of] Akkad and his troops [marched along] the bank of the Tigris . . . . . .
- the king of El[am . . . . . . . . . ]
- the king of Akkad[ . . . . . . . . . . ]
- which is on the bank of the Tigris he pitched his camp. (While there was still) a distance of one day(‘s march) between them,
- the king of El[am] was afraid and, panic falling on him, he returned to his own land.
- In the tenth year the king of Akkad (was) in his own land; from the month of Kislev to the month of Tebet there was rebellion in Akkad . . . .
- . . . . . . . . with arms he slew many of his own army. His own hand captured his enemy.
- [in the month of . . . . ] he marched to the Hatti-land, where kings and [. . . . . ]-officials
- [came before him] and he [received] their heavy tribute and then returned [to Babylon.]
- [in the] eleventh [year] in the month of Kislev, the king of Akkad [mustered his] troops [. . . . . . . ] and marched [to the] Hatti-land.
Secular chronologist’s [sic] blatant disregard for the Bible
In this appendix,* the author rants about how secular sources do not always agree with the Bible, then claims, “It would not surprise us one bit to find out that there was a number of years ruled by Babylonian kings between Neb and the fall of Babylon which has been move [sic] to another place in the Babylonian line prior to Neb” (formatting added). The author is careful to note that any such ‘errors’ must be before or during the Neo-Babylonian period, ignoring any possibility that similar errors could exist after the Babylonian period, because that would affect their selection of 539 BCE, 537 BCE and—most importantly to JW dogma—607 BCE.
In the PDF version of the website, this section is instead presented as ‘Appendix S’, following the insertion of chapter 12 as ‘Appendix R’.
This section presents a not-to-scale timeline showing the article’s chronology, most—but not all—of which is consistent with the Watch Tower Society’s interpretation. Entries in red here are wrong in the original timeline. Entries in green are correct. Comments in black in this list are not from the original article. Entries not simply moved by the ‘twenty-year gap’ are underlined.
For additional details regarding the period from 628 BCE to 607 BCE in the Watch Tower Society’s chronology, see also the list of anomalies in chapter 6.
- 628 King Jehoiakim begins his 11-year rule in Jerusalem. Should be 608.
- 625 Nebuchadnezzar begins his Babylonian rule. Should be August 605.
- 624 Jeremiah warns that Babylon will come up against Jerusalem. Should be 605, prior to, or around the time of, Nebuchadnezzar’s accession.
- 620 Jehoiakim becomes vassal King to Babylon. Should be early 604. See also comment below for 618 regarding Daniel.
- 618 (December) Jehoiakim rebels, Nebuchadnezzar lays siege, kills King. Should be 598. Nebuchadnezzar takes exiles including Daniel and Ezekiel, some temple treasures, and temple utensils. Jehoiachin placed on throne. Should be 597. However, Daniel and some of the temple treasures were taken in 604 as part of the tribute paid by Jehoiakim.
- 617 (March) Nebuchadnezzar returns, takes Jehoiachin into exile, all temple treasures and gold temple utensils taken. Zedekiah’s 11-year rule in Jerusalem as Babylonian vassal King begins. Should be 597. No support from Watch Tower Society that Nebuchadnezzar left and returned between December and March.
- 614 Daniel’s 3-year training ends. Should be 601, three full years after taken in early 604. Daniel known as “ten times wiser” than all others.
- 609 Zedekiah rebels. Should be December 590.
- 607 (August) Jerusalem destroyed, temple burned. This is the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar, the 11th year of Zedekiah. Ezekiel makes the final prophecy against Tyre. Should be 587, and prophecy against Tyre should be in April.
- 607 (October) Should be 587. Last Jews in land flee to Egypt. Land now totally uninhabited. ‘Totally’ may be hyperbole, no evidence that exiles taken in 582 were not from Judah. 70-year period begins. 70 years during which nations served Babylon should be 609. The “seven times” begin—Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations until he who has the legal right arrives. No scriptural basis for a ‘secondary interpretation’ of Daniel chapter 4.
- 606 Tyre sieged by Nebuchadnezzar. Should be 586. 70-year period for Tyre begins. Contradicts Watch Tower Society’s application of the seventy years.
- 605 Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in his 2nd year since destroying Jerusalem and becoming direct King of the Jews. Should be 603, during Nebuchadnezzar’s 2nd regnal year. Daniel not yet known by Nebuchadnezzar prior to interpreting dream.
- 590 Ezekiel makes last prophecy against Egypt in 27th year of his exile. Should be 571 (and Watch Tower Society assigns 591 for 27th year of exile). Also states that siege of Tyre is completed, which lasted 13 years according to Josephus. It began 16 years earlier. Should be 573.
- 588 Egypt desolated by Nebuchadnezzar in his 37th year. Should be 568. Nebuchadnezzar attacked Egypt in his 37th year. 40 year period begins. No evidence this ever happened. Not endorsed by Watch Tower Society.
- 548 Egypt’s 40 year period ends. No evidence this ever happened. Not endorsed by Watch Tower Society.
- 547 Egyptian King Amasis II forges alliance with last Babylonian King, Nabonidus. (Approx.) No support from Watch Tower Society.
- 539 Cyrus conquers Babylon, Darius the Great becomes King. A broken clock is right twice a day. End of seventy years of nations serving Babylon.
- 538 Cyrus makes decree for Jews to return home. They’re on a roll…
- 537 (October) Jews repatriated in cities, back in land after exactly 70 years of vacancy. Should be 538 (and they were going so well…). Desolation ends. Seventy years were of nations serving Babylon, not Jewish exile.
- 536 Tyre supplies timber for the rebuilding of the temple. Should be 537. Its 70 year period ends. Watch Tower Society does not interpret Tyre’s seventy years this way, but as “the period of Babylonia’s greatest domination”, which ended 539.
- 535 Daniel has his final recorded vision. Should be 536 (third year of Cyrus). No evidence this ever happened.
- 455 The word goes forth to rebuild Jerusalem. Should be 445, and was actually permission to repair Jerusalem’s walls and gates. This is shifted by JWs (and some other Christian groups) to misapply the ‘seventy weeks’ (Daniel 9:24–26) as a ‘Messianic prophecy’ about Jesus. 70-week prophecy begins. The correct interpretation is that there were seven ‘weeks’ (forty-nine years, from 587 until 538) from the temple’s destruction until Cyrus (whom Isaiah also calls “anointed one”, which means Messiah) allowed Jews to return to Jerusalem. The original intent of the ‘62 weeks’ most likely applied to the period from 605 BCE until the appointment of the Hellenised priest Menelaus in 171 BCE. However, Aristobulus I may have taken advantage of the 62 ‘weeks’ (434 years), from 538 BCE until 104 BCE when he proclaimed himself king of Judah.
- 29 CE Jesus baptized, (approx., possible but there is no contemporaneous evidence Jesus existed) becomes Messiah. There is no evidence for stories about Jesus in the Bible, many of which are based on older myths or to ‘fit’ Old Testament scriptures.
- 33 CE Jesus executed. (approx., possible but there is no contemporaneous evidence Jesus existed)
- 36 CE Gentiles receive holy spirit, No evidence this ever happened. 70-week prophecy ends. Invalid application of Daniel 9:24–26. See 455 above.
- 1914 CE The “seven times”, lasting 2,520 years, ends. No scriptural basis for a ‘secondary interpretation’ of Daniel chapter 4. He who has the legal right to the throne of David, Jesus, is crowned as King in Heaven. The “last days” begin. Nothing significant happened in October of 1914 (which is why the timeline ignores October for this entry). Charles T. Russell expected Armageddon to begin in or shortly after October 1914. It didn’t happen. There was no sudden “woe for the earth” in or after October; World War I had started months before.
The corrected timeline (some events that never actually happened have been removed; pertinent literary events that did not actually happen are marked with an asterisk):
- 609 Babylon becomes world power after conquering Assyria’s final capital, Harran. Seventy years of nations serving Babylon begin.
- 608 King Jehoiakim begins his 11-year rule in Jerusalem.
- 605 (summer) Battle of Carchemish
- 605 (August/September) Jeremiah warns that Babylon will come up against Jerusalem.
- 605 (September) Nebuchadnezzar begins his Babylonian rule.
- 604 (February) Jehoiakim becomes vassal King to Babylon. Daniel and others given as part of tribute along with some temple treasures.*
* The ‘Daniel’ character is presented as a representative of the captives as a literary device.
- 603 Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in his 2nd regnal year. Daniel not known by Nebuchadnezzar prior to interpreting dream.*
* Daniel interpreting the dream is a folktale, but the timing of the story is compatible. The ‘seven times’ is probably a narrative device representative of the forty-nine years from Jerusalem’s destruction until the Jews’ return.
- 601 3 years of training ends for Daniel and others.* Daniel known as “ten times wiser” than all others.
* The story of three years of training is a folktale, but the timing of the story is compatible.
- 601 (December) Nebuchadnezzar attacks Egypt.
- 600 (early) Jehoiakim rebels after learning of Nebuchadnezzar’s attack on Egypt.
- 598 (December) Nebuchadnezzar sieges Jerusalem.
- 597 (March) Nebuchadnezzar takes exiles including Ezekiel, temple treasures, and temple utensils. Jehoiachin placed on throne.
- 590 (December) Zedekiah rebels, siege begins.
- 587 (April) Ezekiel makes the final prophecy against Tyre.
- 587 (August) Jerusalem destroyed, temple burned. The first seven of the seventy ‘weeks’ begins. This is the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar, the 11th year of Zedekiah.
- 587 (October) Jews flee to Egypt.
- 586 Tyre sieged by Nebuchadnezzar.
- 573 Siege of Tyre is completed.
- 571 Ezekiel makes last prophecy against Egypt in 27th year of his exile.
- 568 Egypt attacked by Nebuchadnezzar in his 37th year. Apries (Hophra) allied with Nebuchadnezzar against Amasis II. Hophra is killed and Amasis retains control of Egypt. 40-year period begins.
- 547 Egyptian King Amasis II forges alliance with last Babylonian King, Nabonidus. (Approx.)
- 539 Darius the Mede conquers Babylon (September). Cyrus becomes King (October). Persia replaces Babylon as world power. Seventy years of nations serving Babylon ends.
- 538 Cyrus makes decree for Jews to return home. End of the ‘7 weeks’, Cyrus acts as ‘Messiah‘ (literally “anointed one”), per Isaiah 45:1.
- 538 (October) Jews repatriated in cities, back in land 49 years after Jerusalem destroyed (seven Sabbaths of years), making the following year a Jubilee year.
- 537 (May) Temple construction begins, 50-year Jubilee after destruction of the old temple. Tyre supplies timber for the rebuilding of the temple.
- 526 Amasis II dies after forty years of ruling Egypt.
- 525 If Egypt was ever uninhabited for forty years, it would be more likely to occur during the Persian period from 525 BCE until 404 BCE while there was no pharaoh in Egypt. However, there is no evidence this happened.
- 445 Nehemiah given permission to repair Jerusalem’s walls and gates.
- 171 Antiochus IV appoints a Hellenised priest, Menelaus, in Jerusalem, ‘62 weeks’ after 605 BCE, commencing Daniel’s ‘2,300 days’.
- 168 Antiochus IV enters Jerusalem in response to revolt by former high priest Jason (mid-year), commencing Daniel’s ‘3½ times’
- 168 Antiochus IV bans Jewish religion and imposes Greek worship (December), commencing Daniel’s ‘1,290 days’.
- 165 Rededication of temple in Jerusalem (December), ending Daniel’s ‘3½ times’.
- 164 Antiochus IV dies, at the end of Daniel’s ‘1,290 days’; possibly commencing Daniel’s ‘1,335 days’.
- 161 (late, or early 160) Judas Maccabeus signs treaty with Rome, possibly ending Daniel’s ‘1,335 days’.
- 104 Aristobulus I proclaims himself king of Judea (the first king since Jerusalem fell), possibly taking advantage of an interpretation of the ‘62 weeks’.
- 29 CE Jesus baptized, (approx., possible but there is no contemporaneous evidence Jesus existed)
- 33 CE Jesus executed. (approx., possible but there is no contemporaneous evidence Jesus existed)
A more detailed timeline (PDF) is also available.
- The Real Issue: 70 Years
- Seventy years of what?
- Is Jerusalem Included in the 70 Years of Desolation?
- Ruins, Desolation, Waste, a Wasteland
- Servitude to the King of Babylon for 70 Years?
- Did the 70 Years Begin in Neb’s 1st Year?
- Did the 70 years Begin with Assyria’s Defeat?
- Does 607 make Daniel Unrealistically Old?
- The 70 Years for Tyre
- Egypt’s 40-Year Desolation
- Zechariah: Did the 70 Years Continue After 537?
- What About 519 BCE?
- The Seven Times prophecy
- Secular records “correcting” the Bible
- Why does the NWT use “devastations” and not “ruins” at Dan 9:2?
- Josephus’ account of the exiles from Jerusalem
- Excuses for only 68 years
- Jeremiah 25:18—Just as at this day
- Attempts at explaining-away the Tyre and Egypt problems
- Jeremiah 52:20—where did the exiles come from?
- Ezekiel 33:24, 27—these devastated places?
- Ezekiel 33:24, 27—ten years prior?
- Jeremiah 29:10—eighty years at Babylon?
- Ezekiel 28:3—Why was Daniel already famous?
- Rolf Furuli on Vat 4956
- Daniel’s gross inconsistency?
- An example of counting a vassal kingship
- Why does the chief of the Bodyguard have two names?
- How the BM21946 tablet supports 607, not 587
- Secular chronologist’s blatant disregard for the Bible
- Timeline—607-based Timeline