Much evidence is presented in 607 vs 587 BCE for the true date of Jerusalem's destruction: 587 BCE. This article will discuss the line of reasoning the WTS uses to arrive at the erroneous date: 607 BCE. Each of the following premises behind their calculation will be discussed:
- The Jews were exiled to Babylon when Jerusalem was destroyed
- Jeremiah said the Jews were to be exiled for 70 years
- The 70 years ended when some Jews return in 537 BCE (DP pg. 9)
- 537 BCE + 70 Years = 607 BCE = Jerusalem's destruction
1. Were the Jews exiled to Babylon when Jerusalem was destroyed?
Yes, this is correct. No disagreement here.
2. Did Jeremiah say the Jews would be exiled for 70 years?
The WTS believes Jeremiah foretold an exile of 70 years:
"The Bible prophecy does not allow for the application of the 70-year period to any time other than that between the desolation of Judah, accompanying Jerusalem's destruction, and the return of the Jewish exiles to their homeland as a result of Cyrus' decree. It clearly specifies that the 70 years would be years of devastation of the land of Judah." - Insight vol. 1 pg. 463.
This is what Jeremiah said regarding the 70 years:
"[Judah] must become a devastated place
and these nations
will have to serve
the king of Babylon seventy years
." - Jeremiah 25:11
The WTS assumes the years of devastation didn't begin until the exile, but Jeremiah speaks of Judah in a devastated condition prior to the exile:
"to make [Judah] a devastated place ... just as at this day
" - Jeremiah 25:18
Jeremiah said the 70 years were a period of serving the king of Babylon, not exile. How do we know an exile wasn't implied?
First, the prophecy applied not only to Judah, but to all the surrounding nations. They served Babylon 70 years from their own lands.
Second, Jeremiah encouraged the Jews to serve Babylon, so so they wouldn't have to be exiled! Jeremiah proves exile was never required:
"'And as for the nation that will bring its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and actually serve him, I will also let it rest upon its ground
, ... and it will certainly cultivate it and dwell in it.'" - Jeremiah 27:7-11
So Jeremiah's prophecy never required an exile, only serving Babylon for 70 years.
3. Did the 70 years of Jeremiah end with the return of Jews in 537 BCE?
So when did this servitude of 70 years end?
"'And it must occur that when seventy years have been fulfilled I shall call to account against the king of Babylon and against that nation'" - Jeremiah 25:12
God called the king of Babylon to account when Cyrus and the Persian empire conquered Babylon on October 12-13, 539 BCE. For God to "call to account" meant the 70 years of servitude were over, with no king of Babylon left to be served by the nations. (Jeremiah 25:11) This would mean the servitude began no later than 609
BCE if a literal 70 years is counted back from 539 BCE. It should be mentioned
that according to accepted secular chronology, 609 BCE is the year Babylon
became the dominant empire after dealing the Assyrian empire its last crushing
blow at the city of Harran.
What about the promise to bring them back?
To discourage those already exiled years before Jerusalem's destruction from listening to false prophets, Jeremiah wrote:
"For this is what Jehovah has said, 'In accord with the fulfilling of seventy years at Babylon I shall turn my attention to YOU people, and I will establish toward YOU my good word in bringing YOU back to this place.'" - Jeremiah 29:1,8-10
Even before Jerusalem's destruction false prophets like Hananiah recognized Babylon's yoke was already upon them. (Jeremiah 28:1-2) It seems evident that the 70 years of
servitude were already in progress. This scripture does not indicate that the 70
years had to begin with an earlier exile. "In accord with the fulfilling of seventy years" simply means it was God's intent to bring back those now exiled, and any yet to be exiled should they remain disobedient, once the 70 ears of servitude had ended. There is no associating the duration of the 70
years with a period of exile as already examined above. Additionally it's argued
that the Hebrew expression "le Babel" here translated "at
Babylon" should be correctly translated "for Babylon" as in
translations such as ASV, RV, NIV, RSV, NJB, etc… The mistranslation is a
remnant from the King James Version. An argument that "at Babylon" is
correct, and that the 70 years was one of exile, would put the Bible at conflict
4. Does 537 BCE + 70 Years = 607 BCE = Jerusalem's destruction?