Javascript Menu by
TowerWatch Ministries
TowerWatch Ministries
Helping Christians Reach Jehovah's Witnesses
with the Gospel of Our Savior Jesus Christ



607: The Shaky Foundation of the 1914-Doctrine

607: The Shaky Foundation of the 1914-doctrine

By Jan S. Haugland


The Watchtower Society (WTS) has provided what can be called a theological framework for the Jehovah's Witnesses. As we will see, this framework rests entirely on the date 1914. Currently, Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) hold that in 1914, Jesus Christ was put upon a throne in heaven, and started to 'rule in the midst of his foes' (Psalm 110:2). The end of the world started that year.

Until the November 1st issue of the Watchtower, the WTS also argued that some of those who witnessed the events in 1914 would also be alive to see the end. When this doctrine now is abandoned, the importance of 1914 is reduced. Still, quite a few key doctrines are built on the 1914 date:

  • The WTS claims that the JW leadership, the so-called "anointed," were selected by Christ to be his sole channel of communication to mankind, and that this happened in 1919. This is based on the premise that Christ returned in 1914, and did an inspection of Christian groups three and a half year later, sent the WTS leadership in "Babylonian captivity" (actually, prison) then and finally selected them in 1919. Without 1914, the WTS has no specific position relative to Christ.
  • JWs claim that they alone fulfill Matt 24:14 by proclaiming the 'good news' all over the world in our time. This "good news" is that Christ started to reign in 1914, and the end will come "soon." If this is false, JWs have been preaching a false gospel (Gal 1:6-9).
  • The JWs interpretation of most parts of the Bible is based on the idea of Christ's invisible presence since 1914. If it is wrong, their interpretation is a false one, and any claim to being directed by God will be proved horribly wrong.
  • There is no evidence that our time has any specific Biblical prophetic importance if the 1914 claims are wrong.
  • Even doctrines like the "two-class" system, which is a unique interpretation by the Jehovah's Witnesses, is actually dependent on the 1914 date. The WTS claims that the "gathering" of the "great crowd" (non-anointed living on Earth) started around 1935, and that this happened after the "time of the end" had started. So without this chronology, this strange doctrine also falls.

JWs claim that the year 1914 was predicted by Charles Taze Russell, the founder of the movement, from the 1870s, and this is used as a major evidence that Russell was directed by God.

'Gentile Times' - The History of a Doctrine

It is true that Russell had 1914 as an important part of his Chronology. He predicted the end of the world and the full establishment of God's Kingdom on Earth for this date. This was not what happened, but yet JWs argue that something important happened when World War I started.

What chronological evidence did Charles Taze Russell use? His chronological argument was borrowed completely from the second-adventist Nelson Barbour. They had a long list of dates, one of which was 1914.

Nelson Barbour built all his arguments upon his complete Bible chronology, which placed the creation of Adam in 4127BC. Barbour (and Russell) thought that different Bible verses containing numbers were 'coded' messages from God about the dates of various events.

One of these texts were Daniel chapter 4. The prophet Daniel here says to king Nebuchadnezzar:

Dan 4:24,25 "And you they will be driving away from men, and with the beasts of the field your dwelling will come to be, and the vegetation is what they will give even to you to eat just like bulls; and with the dew of the heavens you yourself will be getting wet, and seven times themselves will pass over you, until you know that the Most High is Ruler in the kingdom of mankind, and that to the one whom he wants to he gives it." [NWT]

Somehow, Barbour (and JWs today) interpret this to mean something more than years (or 'seasons') of insanity for Nebuchadnezzar. The English expression "times" is also used in translations of Revelation 12:6, 14. Here it can be interpreted as if three and a half "times" equals 1260 days. One "time" is defined as 360 days, and seven times will be 2520 days. The WTS then appeal to the "year-day" rule, based on Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6 (which interestingly is no longer applied to the WTS interpretation of Rev 12!) and get 2520 years.

But what lasted for 2520 years? Barbour, without any further evidence, applied this period to Jesus' words about the fall of Jerusalem, fulfilled in 70AD:

Luk 21:24 "and they will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled."

Dispite the fact that Jesus words "will be" informs us that the start of these "times of the nations" or "gentile times" (most translations) would be when Jerusalem should fall in the future, Barbour argued that these "gentile times" started when Jerusalem fell to Babylonians centuries earlier, in the 19th year of King Nebuchadnezzar. (Jeremiah 52:12) When was this?

Barbour said Jerusalem was destroyed in 606BC.

Counting 2520 years from 606BC gives us 1914, right?


Barbour was, like Russell, very ignorant about chronology and history. When the calendar we use (Julian, later improved to the Gregorian) was created, there was no zero year, so 1 BC was followed by 1 AD. 2520 years from 606BC would give us 1915, which Russell actually used instead of 1914 for a few years. But then World War I started in 1914. Russell had predicted something for 1914, something did indeed happen, so Russell thought he had been right. Russell then 'forgot' about the zero-year, and changed the chronology to 1914 again.

But sooner or later this had to be corrected. How? By moving the destruction of Jerusalem by one year, from 606 to 607BC. This is easy to do on paper.

The Watchtower book Revelation - Its Great Climax is at Hand! (1988) quotes the old Barbour booklet on page 105:

"'It was in B.C. 606, that God's kingdom ended, the diadem was removed, and all the earth given up to the Gentiles. 2520 years from B.C. 606, will end in A.D. 1914.' - The Three Worlds, published in 1877, page 83."

A footnote informs us:

"Providentially, those Bible Students had not realized that there is no zero year between "B.C." and "A.D." Later, when research made it necessary to adjust B.C. 606 to 607 BC, the zero year was also eliminated, so that the prediction held good at "A.D. 1914." - See "The Truth Shall Make You Free," published by the Watch Tower Society in 1943, page 239."

Isn't this quite impressive? "Providentially" - by God's direction - they had made two errors cancelling each other out!

What new "research" changed this date? None, of course. If you examine the WTS' books, you will find no evidence whatsoever for this new date.

This change was necessary to keep the 1914 date, on which the whole superstructure of Watchtower doctrine is built.

Fact is, Jerusalem fell to Babylonians in 587BC, not 607. Barbour's and Russell's ignorance in chronology and history has given the WTS a tremendous problem. The Encyclopaedia Britannica (online-version), a source often used by the WTS, says :

"In 587/586 BC the city and Temple were completely destroyed by Nebuchadrezzar, and the captivity began. It ended in 538 BC when Cyrus II the Great of Persia, who had overcome Babylon, permitted the Jews, led by Zerubbabel, of the Davidic house, to return to Jerusalem."

Of course, the WTS admits that they are pretty alone in the world claiming that Jerusalem fell in 607. They argue that this is because they alone really hold the Bible above "secular" sources.

The WTS, in the book Your Kingdom Come (1981) page 187, says:

"Christians who believe the Bible have time and again found that its words stand the test of much criticism and have been proved accurate and reliable. They recognize that as the inspired Word of God it can be used as a measuring rod in evaluating secular history and views. "

This may sound very nice to a Christian, but is it true? Does the Watch Tower Society really hold the Bible to be 'accurate and reliable'? Do they use the Bible as a measuring rod?

Does the Bible teach that Jerusalem fell in 607BC?

The Bible contains no absolute dates, since our calendar was not invented when any part of the Old Testament was written. It is not possible, therefor, to date events directly. The Bible does, however, provide many relative dates.

One example can be found in

Dan 1:1 "In the third year of the kingship of Jehoiakim the king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and proceeded to lay siege to it."

Then follows an account of how the holy things in the temple was taken to Babylon, and also some prominent Israelites - among them Daniel - were taken captive. Jerusalem was not destroyed at this point. In Daniel 2:1, we likewise find an event dated in the 2nd year of Nebuchadnezzar. Logically, this means that the deportation of Daniel and others occurred in the accession year (or, theoretically, the first year, but verse 5 shows otherwise since a three year education is betweeen 1:1 and 2:1) of Nebuchadnezzar's reign.

This was how events were dated in the Biblical times. If we can date the reigns of the Kings, in this case Jehoiakim and Nebuchadnezzar, we can date the events.

Any dating therefor requires some independent non-Biblical evidence. Only relative dates can be taken from the Bible itself. We will look at how these absolute dates are obtained later.

Does the WTS defend Bible chronology?

As we have seen, the WTS claims they follow the Bible and defend it against criticism. Is this true? Sometimes, but not in this case.

We noticed that Daniel 1:1 said that Nebuchadnezzar took prisoners from Jerusalem in the 3rd year of Jehoiakim (accession-year system).

According to Watchtower chronology, this is not possible.

The WTS Bible encyclopedia, Insight on the Scriptures (hereafter: it), Volume 1, page 1269, states:

"Evidently it is to this third year of Jehoiakim as a vassal king under Babylon that Daniel refers at Daniel 1:1. It could not be Jehoiakim's third year of his 11-year reign over Judah, for at that time Jehoiakim was a vassal, not to Babylon, but to Egypt's Pharaoh Necho."

"Evidently," they say. A person not versed in the Bible may find it possible that Daniel refers to "the third year" since a specific event of a king's reign. But when we know that this was the way time was counted in those days, we understand how extremely unlikely this is. To use an example: Is it likely that any person living in our days will date the start of World War II to 1869, simply because he meant the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans was a more interesting event to initiate the start of our calendar? If Daniel had made such a strange statement, he would have known he would almost certainly be misunderstood. Also, Daniel like many other Bible writers use this dating frequently (Daniel 7:1; 8:1; 9:1; 10:1; 11:1).

Daniel 2:1 has the prophet interpret the dreams of Nebuchandezzar in his 2nd year. Again, the WTS must appeal to acrobatics, when the text itself says "in the second year of the kingship of Nebuchadnezzar" which is extremely unambiguous.

This refusal to put Scripture ahead of dogma becomes especially embarrassing in Your Kingdom Come (hereafter:kc), which in an appendix tries to refute criticism against WTS chronology. On page 188 they try to refute the value of the Babylonian chronicles by Berossus:

"Though Berossus claims that Nebuchadnezzar took Jewish captives in his accession year, there are no cuneiform documents supporting this."

Isn't it astonishing to see that just a few paragraphs after the WTS heralds itself as the sole defender of the Bible, they purposely fail to acknowledge that the Bible itself, in Daniel, supports Berossus against the WTS chronology?

These are certainly not the only examples. The prophet Zechariah delivers the most striking blow against the WTS chronology.

Zec 1:7 "On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, that is, the month Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of Jehovah occurred to Zechariah the son of Berechiah the son of Iddo the prophet.

This time, the WTS agrees with every source that the event must be dated in February 519 BC. After all, the 607 date of the WTS uses the reign of Cyrus as an "anchor point," so it would be unwise to deny this.

What did the prophet Zechariah see and hear?

Zec 1:12 "So the angel of Jehovah answered and said: "O Jehovah of armies, how long will you yourself not show mercy to Jerusalem and to the cities of Judah, whom you have denounced these seventy years?""

Yes, for 70 years God had denounced the cities of Judah. This takes us back to 589BC. According to Watchtower chronology, nothing of significance happened this year. In the established chronology, this was the year when Nebuchadnezzar started the siege on Jerusalem (2. Kings 25:1; Ezek 24:1,2; Jer 52:4).

Moreover, it would have been meaningless for this angel to say the cities had been denounced for "seventy years" if this period started eighteen years after the complete destruction of the capital! On the other hand, if this angel was talking about a seventy year period from 607 to 537 - as a JW no doubt will argue - why should the angel ask "how long?" These very words demonstrate that at this point the period of denouncing had not yet ended. And since they still continued, they must have started with a major event in 589BC.

As if this was not enough, Zechariah later delivers an even more fatal blow to Watchtower chronology:

Zec 7:1-5 "Furthermore, it came about that in the fourth year of Darius the king the word of Jehovah occurred to Zechariah, on the fourth day of the ninth month, that is, in Chislev. And Bethel proceeded to send Sharezer and Regem-melech and his men to soften the face of Jehovah, saying to the priests who belonged to the house of Jehovah of armies, and to the prophets, even saying: "Shall I weep in the fifth month, practicing an abstinence, the way I have done these O how many years?" And the word of Jehovah of armies continued to occur to me, saying: "Say to all the people of the land and to the priests, 'When you fasted and there was a wailing in the fifth month and in the seventh month, and this for seventy years, did you really fast to me, even me?"

The chronological evidence in these verses is astonishing and gives a wealth of information. Even WTS literature must agree that these events the Jews were mourning and fasting are clearly marked in the Bible. They had been fasting in the fifth month "in order to commemorate how on that day Nebuzaradan, the chief of Nebuchadnezzar's bodyguard, after two days of inspection, burned down the city of Jerusalem and its temple," as stated in the WTS book Paradise Restored to Mindkind - by Theocracy! (hereafter: pm), page 235. They also fasted in the seventh month "to commemorate the assassination of Governor Gedaliah, who was of the royal house of King David and whom Nebuchadnezzar made governor of the land for the poor Jews who were allowed to remain after the destruction of Jerusalem." (pm, p. 235).

This runs the WTS into an obvious problem, since they claim this happened in 607BC. November 518BC, in the 4th year of Darius, when Zechariah had this vision, is 90 years after 607BC. The WTS agrees that the seventy years of mourning started when Jerusalem was destroyed. The Bible text above shows as clearly as any text can do, that the seventy years ran up to the year 518. The Israelites asked if they should continue this fasting. If they had stopped twenty years earlier, this question would not make sense. Also, in 1:12, the seventy years were called "these seventy years" as opposed to "those seventy years" which would be the choice of word if they ended twenty years earlier (in Zec 7:5 RSV says "for these seventy years", NIV says "for the past 70 years").

How does the WTS answer this serious objection to their chronology? With respect to the Angel in Zechariah chapter 1, they say:

"So did Jehovah's angel mean that those seventy years had not yet ended, or that they had just now ended? This could not historically be true." (pm, p. 131; bold added)

Yes indeed! Every historian and every Bible commentary, backed by thousands of cuneiform documents, ancient documents and inscriptions, states that 586/7BC is the correct date for the fall of Jerusalem. Now, when God himself and God's Angel says the same thing through the prophet Zechariah, the Watchtower Society boldly states 'This could not historically be true.'

Further examples should not be necessary to demonstrate to what degree the WTS supports the Bible.

Yet, let us examine the arguments used by the WTS to establish the date of 607BC.

The Seventy Years for Babylon

To counterbalance the wealth of evidence against their chronology, the WTS appeals to some Bible scriptures. Your Kingdom Come (kc) page 187-8, says:

"The prophet Jeremiah predicted that the Babylonians would destroy Jerusalem and make the city and land a desolation. (Jeremiah 25:8, 9) He added: "And all this land must become a devastated place, an object of astonishment, and these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon seventy years." (Jeremiah 25:11) The 70 years expired when Cyrus the Great, in his first year, released the Jews and they returned to their homeland. (2 Chronicles 36:17-23) We believe that the most direct reading of Jeremiah 25:11 and other texts is that the 70 years would date from when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and left the land of Judah desolate."

The 70 years of Jeremiah is here fully applied to the period from Jerusalem's destruction by Nebuchadnezzar until the Jews were permitted to return home from Babylon. The fall of Babylon to Cyrus was in 539BC. This is not in dispute. The WTS argues that the Jews came home in 537BC. This is possible, even though 538 is a more probable year. It then follows, the WTS argues, that Jerusalem fell 70 years earlier, in 607BC.

The seventy years is a prophetic period used by Jeremiah, so it is natural to first examine how this expression is used in his book. As we have seen above, the first mention is in Jeremiah 25:11. This text does not say what the WTS claims it does say.

Jer 25:11 "And all this land must become a devastated place, an object of astonishment, and these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon seventy years."

We will immediately note that Jeremiah nowhere says that Jerusalem will lay desolate for seventy years. These seventy years were a time of servitude, not desolation. Even though the context speaks about the devastation, the seventy years themselves applies to servitude only. The text in kc quoted above ignores this completely. Moreover, the servitude was not limited to the Israelites, "these nations" naturally includes many, if not all, nations in this Syro-Palestianian area.

What did Jeremiah mean with the words "seventy years?" Naturally, the expression can refer to a period of exactly 70 years, as opposed to 71 or 69 years. This is the way it is understood by the WTS, and it is quite possibly correct.

However, it can just as well be a round number and apply to an approximate period. One example is the text in Psalm 90:10 "In themselves the days of our years are seventy years." Nobody will based on this text argue that the lifetime of a human being is exactly seventy years. In  Isaiah 23:15 we see that "seventy years" is equalled to "the days of one king," which naturally is approximate. This principle, being known by Jeremiah, can simply mean he said the nations would serve Babylon for a lifetime, approximately seventy years.

"These nations" started serving Nebuchadnezzar no later than 605BC, when - as we have seen - he even took prisoners and booty from Jerusalem. This year Nebuchadnezzar defeated Pharao Nechoh (Jeremiah 46:2), and the nations in this area had to pay tribute to the king of Babylon from this year. The period ended abruptly in 539BC, when Babylon fell to Cyrus. This period of servitude is sixty-six years, which nobody can deny is approximately seventy.

It is quite possible, however, to apply the start of these seventy years on the year 609BC, giving exactly seventy years. This year Harran fell, and the Assyrian empire had definately given space for Babylon as the dominating power in this area. Thus, in 609 the dominion of "these nations" shifted from Assyria to Babylon. Some nations came under Babylon immediately, others followed soon. [Footnote 1]

It is of course not possible to know for sure what Jeremiah meant. Note, however, that no matter what interpretation we choose for the seventy years, the "most natural reading" of Jeremiah 25:11 gives the seventy years to end in 539BC when Babylon fell to Cyrus. Also, the start of these years has nothing to do with the fall of Jerusalem, but the supremacy of Babylon.

Jeremiah mentions the seventy years in another verse.

Jer 29:10 "For this is what Jehovah has said, 'In accord with the fulfilling of seventy years at Babylon I shall turn my attention to you people, and I will establish toward you my good word in bringing you back to this place.'" [NWT]

At this point, the New World Translation shows its bias toward WTS interpretation. It must be noted, however, that in the discussion of "the seventy years" this is the only place the NWT is controversial.

With the sole exception of the King James Version (or Authorized Version) from 1611, and newer translations derived from it, the NWT is completely alone in stating "at Babylon" here.

For every other translation we have been able to lay hands on, the texts says "for Babylon" or similar:

Jer 29:10 "For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfil to you my promise and bring you back to this place." [RSV]

Carl Olof Jonsson sent a letter to a number of acknowledged Hebrew scholars in Scandinavia, asking what was the exact meaning of the Hebrew expression "LeBabel" which occurs here. With no exceptions, they answered that the translation "for Babylon" was correct. These scholars were Dr. Seth Erlandson in Uppsala, Dr. Hans M. Berstad, Prof. Tryggve Mettinger and Dr. Tor Magnus Amble. Hebrew scholars are unanimous on this question, which should be obvious from the fact that every modern translation has this meaning.

That aside, it is not at all possible to interprete this text to mean that the seventy years ran from Jerusalem's destruction until Cyrus freed the Jews from Babylon. The context of this verse is that it is a part of a letter sent from Jeremiah to those who were taken captive from Jerusalem in the second (of three) deportations (2. King 24:10-17;2. Chron 36:10).

This was ten years prior to the destrcution of Jerusalem.

In this letter (Jeremiah 24:9-11) Jeremiah tells the captives that they should settle in Babylonia and not expect a quick return as a few false prophets have predicted. They would stay in Babylon until seventy years "are completed for Babylon." Only then would they return.

This only makes sense if the seventy years had already started.

This interpretation of Jeremiah 29:10 is supported by Dr. Avigdor Orr:

"The sense of the Hebrew original might even be rendered thus: 'After seventy years of (the rule of) Babylon are accomplished, etc.' The seventy years counted here evidetly refer to Babylon and not to the Judeans or to their captivity. They mean seventy years of Babylonain rule, the end of which will see the redemption of the exiles." [Footnote 2]

If the seventy years should begin in the future, ten years after Jeremiah's words were written, it would mean God had already decided that Jerusalem would be destroyed. In this case, the later warnings of Jeremiah would have no meaning:

Jer 38:17,18 "Jeremiah now said to Zedekiah: "This is what Jehovah, the God of armies, the God of Israel, has said, 'If you will without fail go out to the princes of the king of Babylon, your soul will also certainly keep living and this city itself will not be burned with fire, and you yourself and your household will certainly keep living. But if you will not go out to the princes of the king of Babylon, this city must also be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they will actually burn it with fire, and you yourself will not escape out of their hand.'""

If God had already decided to burn the city ten years before he did it, such a warning would have been futile. The example in the book of Jonah shows that God will change his plans when met with repentance.

We have seen that Jeremiah never talks about seventy years of devastation for Jerusalem. We should have this in mind when we examine the next two references, where Daniel and Ezra applies these words. Naturally, no interpretation of these texts should be contrary to the words of Jeremiah himself.

The prophet Daniel experienced the dramatic fulfillment of Jeremiah's prophecy. He was possibly among the Jewish captives who received the letter from Jeremiah (Jeremiah 29:4-14). At least he knew the contents of this letter, promising a return to the holy land after 70 years of Babylonian supremacy.

On a night in 539 BC, the time was up for the mighty Babylonian empire, when the King of Babylon saw the writing on the wall - literally. Daniel interpreted these mysterious writings:

Dan 5:25-28 "And this is the writing that was inscribed: ME'NE, ME'NE, TE'KEL and PAR'SIN. "This is the interpretation of the word: ME'NE, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and has finished it. "TE'KEL, you have been weighed in the balances and have been found deficient. "PE'RES, your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and the Persians.""

Yes, God had "numbered the days" of the kingdom of the Babylonians. Exactly seventy years after they finally defeated the Assyrians, the Medes and the Persians under King Cyrus put an end to the Baylonian dominance. Daniel concludes: "In that very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed" (v30).

There is no doubt that this refers back to the prophecies of Jeremiah. This "numbering of days" was of course revealed in advance and not kept secret:

Amos 3:7 "For the Sovereign Lord Jehovah will not do a thing unless he has revealed his confidential matter to his servants the prophets."

Note the order of events as described by Jeremiah:

Jer 25:11,12 "And all this land must become a devastated place, an object of astonishment, and these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon seventy years."' "'And it must occur that when seventy years have been fulfilled I shall call to account against the king of Babylon and against that nation,' is the utterance of Jehovah.""

First the seventy years had to run out, and then would the king of Babylon be called to account. According to WTS interpretation, the seventy years ended two years after the king was called to account. This is, as anyone can easily see, a contradiction of the text.

The Jews who were in the Babylonian exile no doubt appreciated the end of the Babylonian empire. They knew that this would have to happen before they could return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple and the city. Then, as Jeremiah had said, they would return. God had promised "I will establish toward YOU my good word in bringing YOU back to this place." (29:10)

This was what Daniel found when he started to examine these prophecies immediately after the fall of Babylon:

Dan 9:2 "in the first year of his reigning I myself, Daniel, discerned by the books the number of the years concerning which the word of Jehovah had occurred to Jeremiah the prophet, for fulfilling the devastations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years." [NWT]

The WTS has often used these words to support their interpretation of the seventy years, namely that these years were the years from Jerusalem's destruction until the Jews returned. In some translations (NIV is one example), the wording is inaccurate and gives the impression that seventy years had to pass while Jerusalem was in ruins. The NWT, however, faithfully retains the somewhat ambiguous wording of the original.

Daniel simply says that seventy years had to pass before Jerusalem's devastations could end. He does not say that these seventy years started when Jerusalem was destroyed. Note this leading translation:

Dan 9:2 "In the first year of his reign I, Daniel, was studying the scriptures, counting over the number of years - as revealed by Yahweh to the prophet Jeremiah - that were to pass before the desolation of Jerusalem would come to an end, namely seventy years." [NJB]

Another accurate translation:

Dan 9:2 "in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years which, according to the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years." [RSV]

Note that RSV and NWT uses plural, "devastations." The WTS argues that the devastation of Jerusalem occurred when the city was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. But Daniel talks about several devastations. The Jerusalem Bible even use the expression "the successive devastations of Jerusalem."

The word for "devastation" is chorbah. It does not, as we will see, mean complete destruction. We have seen that Nebuchadnezzar took prisoners and booty from Jerusalem already in 605 BC, his accession year. Every year after this his army passed through the land, no doubt casuing more destruction, and the Bible even speaks about marauder bands from different nations causing havoc in this time (see 2 Kings 24:2; Jeremiah 35:11).

If we look at how this expression is used elsewhere in the Bible, the WTS argument falls completely down. The prophet Ezekiel speaks about "the inhabitants of these devastated places" (Ezekiel 33:24, 27), which then makes it pretty obvious that the word need not necessarily refer to places that are completely devoid of people. When we also see, in Nehemiah 2:17, that the Bible calls Jerusalem devastated even after the Jews had returned to it, we realize that the WTS application of this word is in error.

We have now seen that Daniel 9:2 gives no support to WTS interpretation. First, Daniel nowhere states that the seventy years started when Jerusalem was finally destroyed. Second, the devastations of Jerusalem started many years before the final destruction in 587 BC.

The final Bible verse we will examine in regards to the seventy years is also concerned with the fulfillment of Jeremiah's prophecy. Again, the text must be examined with the words of Jeremiah himself in mind. Ezra the scribe concludes his chronicles about the kings of Judah with these words:

2Chron 36:20,21 "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 fulfill Jehovah's word by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had paid off its sabbaths. All the days of lying desolated it kept sabbath, to fulfill seventy years."

Again, these words can imply that the land was desolated for exactly seventy years. As we have seen above, the devastations started before the final destruction of Jerusalem, so this lends no support to the WTS interpretation anyway.

Moreover, Ezra did not say that the period of seventy years ran parallel with the period the country laid desolated. He simply said that the seventy years had to end before the time of desolation was over. This also applies to Ezra's reference to the sabbaths.

Jeremiah nowhere mentions sabbath years in relation to the seventy years. Ezra no doubt refered to the prophecy in Leviticus 26:33-35. Ezra does not equal the time needed to pay off sabbaths with the seventy years. He refers to two different prophecies, and states that two periods had to be completed before the Jews could return: the sabbath rest and the seventy years of Babylonian supremacy.

There are two principles in relation to the sabbath rest worth remembering. If the land had to rest for seventy years, this would have to mean that for 490 (7*70) years, the Jews had not kept sabbath. This takes us back to 1077 BC (or 1097 in WTS chronology). This was before the reign of the rightous David, even before Saul who was the first king. Is it likely that the country did not hold Sabbath for a single year during the reigns of eg. Saul, David, Solomon and Josiah? On the other hand, using established chronology the country was desolate (in this sense, not being used for agriculture) for 50 years. This (7*50 years) brings us back to 937 BC, very close to the time of the division of the Kingdom, which is attributed to the faithlessness of the king. Too much emphasis on details in this prophecy has a doubtful value, but it is a factor worth consideration.

The Bible teaches 587 BC as date for destuction

The conclusion of the above must be that there is nothing in the Bible contradicting the established ("secular") chronology dating the accession year of Nebuchadnezzar as 605 BC. The Bible states that the final fall and destruction of Jerusalem was in the 19th regnal year of Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 52:12; 2 Kings 25:1-4; 2. Chron 26:11,19).

This is 587 BC. [Footnote 3]

On the other hand, the WTS has failed to make a system that is internally consistent with the Bible testimony about the seventy years. Moreover, their chronology directly contradicts clear statements in Daniel and Zechariah.

While the Bible itself is sufficient to reject the Watchtower Society's chronology, we will take our time to examine the enormous amount of archeological evidence for established chronology.

The Archeological Evidence

(See summary of evidence and timeline below)

As we have seen earlier, the Bible contains no absolute dates. It contains relative dates and timespans, and only if we can pinpoint at least one of the events and relative dates to our calendar, do we come up with an an absolute date.

This problem of course faces the WTS as well. They have focused on one key-date, an event that is witnessed in both secular historical sources and the Bible itself: The fall of Babylon to King Cyrus in 539 BC.

How was this date arrived on? Historians have used the regnal lists of Ptolemy and Berossus. These are considered accurate and reliable, and they date the reign of Cyrus over Babylon from 539 BC. This has been confirmed by the most reliable dating method known in history: contemporary documents with astronomical observations.

Astronomical observations

The most secure source of absolute dates comes from contemporary inscription with astronomical observations. Babylonians did, like many other people, place much emphasis on astrology, and they carefully observed the celestial phenomena and wrote down the exact placement of planets relative to the zodiac. These inscriptions were accurately dated relative to the reign of the king. Many such observations can be found on single inscriptions, forming a unique "finger print" for a year, since the observations could not possibly occur any other date for thousands of years in either direction. Astronomers today can accurately calculate the astronomical phenomenon described in the astronomical inscriptions, and will verify that it is impossible that these observations are fake or can apply to any other year.

So, the only chance for an inscription with correct astronomical observations to be "fake," is to have be dated wrong. Since WTS chronology is consistenly off with twenty years, the contemprary astronomical records would have to be dated twenty years wrong. Can anyone imagine astrologers and chroniclers in the neobabylonian era to do such a thing? The work involved in forging just one of these astronomic tables is enormous, considering that they mention numerous dates and events in a king's life, and just one change in the observations themselves or the dates would make these observation fit no constellation of astronomical phenomenoms in known history.

The WTS consider such astronomical calculations to be extremely reliable:

"A Babylonian clay tablet is helpful for connecting Babylonian chronology with Biblical chronology. This tablet contains the following astronomical information for the seventh year of Cambyses II son of Cyrus II: "Year 7, Tammuz, night of the 14th, 1 2/3 double hours [three hours and twenty minutes] after night came, a lunar eclipse; visible in its full course; it reached over the northern half disc [of the moon]. Tebet, night of the 14th, two and a half double hours [five hours] at night before morning [in the latter part of the night], the disc of the moon was eclipsed; the whole course visible; over the southern and northern part the eclipse reached." (Inschriften von Cambyses, König von Babylon, by J. N. Strassmaier, Leipzig, 1890, No. 400, lines 45-48; Sternkunde und Sterndienst in Babel, by F. X. Kugler, Münster, 1907, Vol. I, pp. 70, 71) These two lunar eclipses can evidently be identified with the lunar eclipses that were visible at Babylon on July 16, 523 B.C.E., and on January 10, 522 B.C.E. (Oppolzer's Canon of Eclipses, translated by O. Gingerich, 1962, p. 335) Thus, this tablet establishes the seventh year of Cambyses II as beginning in the spring of 523 B.C.E. This is an astronomically confirmed date." (it-1, p 453; bold and italic as in original)

This astronomically confirmed date must be beyond doubt. Without it, the WTS key date, 539 BC for the fall of Babylon to Cyrus, has no foundation in fact. We have no wuarrel with this. But the WTS is grossly dishonest when they accept this piece of evidence as definite and beyond doubt, when they discard exactly the same type of evidence, for the Neo-Babylonian era. As we will see, the astronomical evidence for Neo-Babylonian chronology is more direct and then even stronger.

A comprehensive astronomical diary, VAT 4956, dated in Nebuchadnezzar's 37th year, gives definite aobservations that cannot fit any other year but 568 BC. This is beyond any doubt; not a single year thousands of year before or after this year can fit all evidence, and the chance of fabricating observations that by accident fits this year is not even worth considering. Since the Bible establishes that Jerusalem fell in the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 52:12; 2 Kings 25:1-4; 2. Chron 26:11,19), this must have happened in 587/6 BC, and certainly not 20 years earlier.

The WTS cannot accept this. They try to discredit this diary:

"VAT 4956: This is a cuneiform tablet that provides astronomical information datable to 568 B.C.E. It says that the observations were from Nebuchadnezzar's 37th year. This would correspond to the chronology that places his 18th regnal year in 587/6 B.C.E. However, this tablet is admittedly a copy made in the third century B.C.E. so it is possible that its historical information is simply that which was accepted in the Seleucid period." (kc, p 186)

This is indeed a copy, but it is by no means "possible" that the historical information is what was accepted in this mystical "seleucid period" which we again see is assumed to be a dubious period for extensive forgery of chronological evidence.The copyist did not add information, which is evident from the fact that in two places where the table is damaged, the copyist inserted the words "broken off, erased." This shows how extremely unlikely it is that the copyist should insert some later, "accepted" chronological details. Also, there are about forty dates in the text, and it should be beyond consideration that a copyist who is so conscientious that he indicates where the original source is illegible, should be engaged in wholesale forgery by inserting the name of a king who was dead in 568 BC in a historical record.

This is even beyond discussion, for quite recently the astronomical diary named BM 32312 was discovered. It contains exact astronomical observations from 652/51. Here, no copyist could have made any change to the date, because it is broken off! However, the table mentions the battle of Hirit on "month 12, day 27" where the King of Babylon was involved. And a more well-known diary, the Akity chronocle, states that this date occurred in the 16th year of king Shamashshamukin's reign (667-648 BC). So, we have a late and independent confirmation, including two solid pieces of evidence, that the established chronology of the Neo-Babylonian era is correct. As an added curiousity, we can add that this Babylonian text informs us that the king of Babylon lost this battle, seriously undermining the WTS' stock claims that Babylonian chroniclers were dishonest.

What we have seen, is that the WTS accepts evidence that support their chronology, while rejecting the same sort of evidence when it contradicts their ideas. Moreover, the table from Cambyses II's reign establishes the date for Cyrus' conquest of Babylon only indirectly, by consulting regnal lists to find out how long Cyrus ruled and that he was succeeded by his son Cambyses II in 529 BC. VAT4956, on the other hand, establishes Nebuchadnezzar's reign directly, and a person who will not allow himself to doubt the Bible's chronology can't possibly reject this. So if the WTS were correct when they claim that the Bible stated 70 years from the fall of Jerusalem to the return of the Jews (which, as we have seen, they are not!), they would have to deny 539 not 587/6. Then, of course, they would lose 607 as a key date, and it would be naive to believe all this distrortion of evidence from the WTS is for any other reason than keeping the 607 date, again to save 1914.

Regnal lists

One major piece of evidence against the WTS chronology is the regnal lists we have after Berossus and Ptolemy. Berossus was a Babylonian priest living in the 3rd century BC. He wrote a three-volume history of Babylonia, of which only fragments are known through quotations in later works, like those by Josephus and Eusebius. Ptolemy (70-161AD) was a multi-faceted scholar who lived in Egypt. Ptolemy wrote a mathematical work known as Almagest in Latin, where he included the canon, a regnal list. The Encyclopedia Britannica (on-line version) says:

"The source from which the exploration of Mesopotamian chronology started is a text called Ptolemy's Canon. This king list covers a period of about 1,000 years, beginning with the kings of Babylon after the accession of Nabonassar in 747 BC. The text itself belongs to the period of the Roman Empire and was written by a Greek astronomer resident in Egypt. Proof of the fundamental correctness of Ptolemy's Canon has come from the ancient cuneiform tablets excavated in Mesopotamia, including some that refer to astronomical events, chiefly eclipses of the Moon. Thus, by the time excavations began, a fairly detailed picture of Babylonian chronology was already available for the period after 747 BC." (under the headlines "The Study of History, Babylonian and Assyrian, Mesopotamian chronology, 747 to 539 BC.")

Berossus and Ptolemy, living in different parts of the world at different times, and both being respected as reliable sources by both early and modern historians, give the same regnal data:

Kings Berossus Ptolemy Date BC
Nabopolassar 21 years 21 years 625-605
Nebuchadnezzar 43 years 43 years 604-562
Evil-Merodach 2 years 2 years 561-560
Neriglissar 4 years 4 years 559-556
Labashi-Marduk (9 months) - 556
Nabonidus 17 years 17 years 555-539

It is no surprise, then, that the Society is trying to discredit these sources. Even this would not help much if these sources could be demonstrated to be independent of each other. So in Aid to Bible Understanding from 1971, the Watch Tower Society flatly claimed that Ptolemy had copied Berossus:

"In preparing his canon Ptolemy is thought to have used the writings of Berossus" (page 328)

The passive wording hides the fact that only the Watchtower Society's own writers have ever "thought" this! There is substantual evidence that Ptolemy built on earlier records. After this argument had been debunked, the WTS had to use another:

"Evidently Ptolemy based his historical information on sources dating from the Seleucid period, which began more than 250 years after Cyrus captured Babylon. It thus is not surprising that Ptolemy's figures agree with those of Berossus, a Babylonian priest of the Seleucid period." (It-1, page 455; same text in kc page 186)

It is hard to understand how linking Ptolemy and Berossus with the "Seleucid period" can discredit them, as if this was a time when records were forged wholesale. The Watchtower Society itself depends 100% on the date 539BC. As we have seen, this comes from Ptolemy and Berossus as well. Seeing this problem, the WTS has gone to strange quarters to find additional support after having discredited Ptolemy:

"The date of 539 B.C.E. for the fall of Babylon can be arrived at not only by Ptolemy's canon but by other sources as well. The historian Diodorus, as well as Africanus and Eusebius, shows that Cyrus' first year as king of Persia corresponded to Olympiad 55, year 1 (560/559 B.C.E.), while Cyrus' last year is placed at Olympiad 62, year 2 (531/530 B.C.E.)." (It-1, page 454)

This is quite interesting, since Diodorus (1st century BC) lived right after the "Seleucid period," and used sources from this period. One of the problems with Diodorus is that he often does not mention his sources, reducing the possibility to check him. Africanus is a Christian writer from the 3rd century AD. He uses Diodorus as a source. Living in the 3rd and 4th century we find Eusebius, who says he uses Diodorus and Africanus as sources!

This does not mean, of course, that the 539BC date is not well established. But fact is, it is less secure than 586/7BC as the date for Jerusalem's destruction.

Business documents

One of the most extensive and overwhelming pieces of evidence is the enormous amounts of business and administrative documents unearthed from the Neo-Babylonian era. These are contemporary documents, not later copies, and there can be around 50,000 (!) of these documents, many of them stored at British Museum in London. Some thousand of these documents are documented. The WTS admits:

"Business tablets: Thousands of contemporary Neo-Babylonian cuneiform tablets have been found that record simple business transactions, stating the year of the Babylonian king when the transaction occurred. Tablets of this sort have been found for all the years of reign for the known Neo-Babylonian kings in the accepted chronology of the period." (kc, p 187)

So for every known year in this era, there are such contemporary documents. However, the WTS claims twenty years are missing. Where is the business documents covering this period? They do not exist. If some king reigned for more than the years assigned to them in the established regnal lists, or if some unknown king reigned for twenty years (or a combination), there must have been hundreds if not thousands of business documents dated in this period. There are indeed none. The documents contains details of hundreds of thousands of trivial and not-so-trivial business transactions -- buying and selling -- and the idea that this did not happen during this period is absurd. Moreover, we can track business transactions from delivery of goods to payment of the same goods. We can establish who is head of the company in the given year. It is patently obvious that to believe that the WTS chronology can be defended against this evidence, makes the infamous "illuminaty conspiracy" seem likely by comparision. It would involve not only hundreds of scribes, chroniclers, officials and astrologers from the Neo Babylonain period onwards through the centuries, it would also require a conspiratory silence from thousands of business man in a whole empire!

It is more than obvious that there are no records for the "missing twenty years" because they never existed. Not a single piece of cuneiform text has ever hinted that they existed. No chronicler or astrologer had heard of them. And as we have seen demonstrated above, if they existed the Bible itself would contradict itself on many chronological details, and Jeremiah's prophecy would have failed.

Contemporary royal inscriptions

More direct evidence from the Neo-Babylonian era has also been found. A inscription from the Seleucid era, The Uruk King List, discovered in 1959/60, confirms the reigns of Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar, Amel-Marduk and Labashi-Marduk. Other parts of the text is unfortunately damaged. While we have no such king lists from earlier eras, we have a number of inscriptions that confirms the chronology in the most direct way.

Nabon No. 18 mentions a lunar eclipse establishing Nabonidus' second year to 554/53, thus confirming established chronology.

Nabon No. 8 (Hillah stele) confirms the chronology for the whole era from Nabopolassar to Nabonidus, giving the total period of the kings as established from all other sources. It also gives details of astronomical events further establishing the exact dates of Nabonidus' rule.

Nabon H 1, A and H 1, B. The WTS admits:

"Nabonidus Harran Stele (NABON H 1, B): This contemporary stele, or pillar with an inscription, was discovered in 1956. It mentions the reigns of the Neo-Babylonian kings Nebuchadnezzar, Evil-Merodach, Neriglissar. The figures given for these three agree with those from Ptolemy's Canon." (kc, p 186)

The later copy of the same stele (B), gives us details of  which had been damaged on the original find.It also gives details of the Assyrian king Assurbanipal and Nabopolassar, thus establishing Neo-Babylonian chronology yet again.

The Nabonidus Chronicle (BM 35382) is often used by the WTS to argue the Bible's correctness in historical details (see it-1 pp 148, 283-4, 566 and many other places). It's obviously not ignorance that causes them to never mention this famous chronicle in this debate. Fact is, this chronicle gives the reigns of all kings in this era, and they are exactly the same as those given by Ptolemy and Berossus. All arguments that later chroniclers only used "popular" chronology in their lists is thus shattered, because this chronicle is contemporary with the Neo-Babylonian kings themselves! No wonder the WTS will not mention this devastating piece of evidence, dispite being well aware of what it says.

Lunar eclipse (saros) texts

As we have seen, the WTS is more than eager to accept "secular" evidence for the later Persian era, which they are dependent on for their own chronology, but they reject the same -- and stronger -- evidence establishing the chronology of the Neo-Babylonian era. Now we will examine a piece of evidence untouched by the WTS, which carries us directly from the Neo-Babylonian era into the later Persian era without any possibility for "interruption" from the "twenty missing years" the WTS need to keep the 607 date.

Some Babylonian texts known as "saros" texts, or moon eclipe texts, contains details of lunar eclipses. The eclipses occur in groups, which repeat at approximately 18-year intervals. They can be assigned precisely to specific absolute dates, because the precise observations are unique and cannot be repeated for thousands of years.One particular document spans the time from Nabopolassar's 17th year all the way down to the 18th year of the Persian king Artaxerxes!

King Regnal year Date (BC)
Nabopolassar 17th 609/8
Nebuchadnezzar 14th 591/0
Nebuchadnezzar 32nd 573/2
Nabonidus 1st 555/4
Cyrus 2nd 537/6
Darius 3rd 519/8
Darius 21st 501/0
Xerxes 3rd 483/2
Xerxes 21st 465/4
Artaxerxes 18th 447/6

The impact of this evidence is by itself overwhelming. We see a continuous record of astronomical observations. These can all be pinpiinted to an absolute date, and because of the very nature of our solar systems nothing can be shifted twenty years without breaking this long list of lunar eclipse date leading into a period where the WTS agrees with the "secular" chronology. Again, we have an independent and secure confirmation of the established chronology, leaving no room in reality for the WTS' 607-date.

Agreement with Egyptian chronology

As we have seen, Neo-Babylonian chronology rests solidly on its own feet. However, we have an excellent opportunity to test this body of evidence against a wholly independent set of evidence. The contemporary chronology of Egypt has been established based on different evidence. We have already used much space to go into detailed evidence for Babylonian chronology, so for this treatise it is sufficient to note that this evidence consist of several grave steles, the Greek historian Herodotus and the Egyptian priest Manetho (third century BC), and several papyri, including some astronomical details (ie. Demotic Papyrus Berlin 13588). This chronology is solidly founded, and even more, it is fully independent from Neo-Babylonian chronology.

The Watch Tower Society is consistently off by around 20 years also relative to Egyptian chronology.

There are several synchronisms between Biblical, Egyptian and Babylonian chronology, and in these it is evident that the WTS chronology is wrong. 2. Kings 23:29 let us know that Josiah died during Pharao Nechoh's reign. Nechoh started his reign in 610 BC, but according to the WTS Josiah died 19 years earlier. Jeremiah 46:2 informs us of a battle between Nebuchadnezzar and Pharao Nechoh in Jehoiakim's fourth year. In WTS chronology this would be 625 BC, but as we have seen Nechoh didn't start his reign before 610!  Jeremiah 44:30 informs us that shortly after the death of Gedaliah, Pharaoh Hophra (elsewhere called Aphries) was king in Egypt. He ruled Egypt 589-570, so this fits perfectly with dating Jerusalem's fall in 587 but not 607. Finally, we have the cunieform text BM33041, telling us that Nebuchadnezzar makes a campaign against Egypt's Pharao Amasis in his 37th regnal year. Amasis ruled 570-526, so this cannot have happened in 588/87 as WTS chronology claims.

The WTS have to admit:

"The difference between the above dates and those generally assigned by modern historians amounts to as much as a century or more for the Exodus and then narrows down to about 20 years by Pharaoh Necho's time." (It-1, page 450)

It would be a coincidence beyond anything we have seen if the WTS' chronology was correct and all this evidence was wrong. It reminds us about the proud mother of a boy scout who exclaimed during a great parade: "Imagine, three thousand boy scouts, and only my boy is in step."

Summary of archeological evidence for established chronology

  1. Chronicles, historical records, and royal inscriptions from the Neo-Babylonian period, beginning with the reign of Nabopolassar and ending with the reigns of Nabonidus and Belshazzar, show it ran from 626 to 539 BC, not from 645 to 539 BC as the Society claims.
    1. Berossus
    2. Ptolemy
    3. Various Babylonian chronicles such as the Nabonidus Chronicle
    4. Nabonidus No. 18
    5. The Hillah stele, Nabonidus No. 8
    6. The Adda-Guppi stele, Nabonidus H1,B
  2. Business and administrative documents
    1. Tablets exist that are dated from each year of the Neo-Babylonian period as established by Berossus, Ptolemy and contemporary stele; no tablets are inconsistently dated. About 5000 have been published and about 50,000 remain. These are contemporary documents from the Neo-Babylonian period.
  3. Astronomical diaries
    1. VAT 4956 fixes the 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar to 568 BC by a unique set of astronomical observations, establishing his accession year in 605 BC.
    2. BM 32312 plus the Akitu Chronicle pin the 16th year of Shamashshumukin (a Babylonian king before the Neo-Babylonian period) to 652/1 BC This, combined with business documents, Ptolemy's canon, the Akitu Chronicle and the Uruk King List combine to date Nebuchadnezzar's reign to 605/4-562/1, with his 18th (destruction of Jerusalem, Jer. 52:28-30) year in 587/6 BC.
  4. Saros (lunar eclipse) texts
    1. Four independent texts provide absolute dates within the Neo-Babylonian period. Nebuchadnezzar's 18th year is fixed at 587/6 BC.
  5. Synchronisms with contemporary Egyptian chronology show Watchtower chronology consistently off by 20 years.
    1. Josiah died during Pharaoh Nechoh's reign, which began in 610 BC. The Society dates Josiah's death to 629 BC.
    2. Some Jews fled to Egypt under Pharaoh Hophra (Apries) immediately after Jerusalem's destruction. Since he began to reign in 589 BC, Jerusalem could not have been destroyed in 607 BC.
    3. A fragmentary cuneiform text mentions a battle by Nebuchadnezzar in his 37th year against Pharaoh Amasis, who began to rule in 570 BC The Society claims Nebuchadnezzar died in 582 BC.

Timeline - an overview

JW Chronology Dates BC Established Chronology Evidence



100,000nds of cuneiform tablets, incl. business documents
628: Jehoiachim's accession year |

624: NBUs accession year 620

617: NBU take Jewish prisoners in in Jehoiachim's 3RD YEAR (!). Da1:1,2; 2Ki24:10-17; 2Ch36:10 |

610 609: Fall of Harran. Babylon world power. Possible START OF 70 YEARS. Josiah killed in battle with Pharao Nechoh (2Ki46:2)
607: FALL OF JERUSALEM; start of 70 years | 605: NBU's accession year. First deportation of Jews (Dan 1:1,2; 2:1).

600 597: NBU takes prisoners. Second deportation. Jehoiachin in exile; Zedekiah's reign starts. BM21946:11-13; 2Ki24:10-17; 2Chr36:10.






BM33041. Agreement with independent Egyptian chronology

VAT4956: accurate astronimical obs. for 568/67 dated as NBU's 37th year.

560 Evil-Merodach 561-560 Hillah stele

| Neriglissar 559-556 Nabon no 18

550 555: Nabonidus' accession year BM35382. Nabonidos' Chronicle

Nabon H 1, B
539: Fall of Babylon 540 539: FALL OF BABYLON to Cyrus; 70 YEARS END. Pharaoh Hophrah rules Egypt in this time; Jer 44:30
537: Jews return from exile, 70 years end. |




Accession year. In Babylonian chronices, the year a King ascends the throne is called accession year, the following year is the first year and so on. This is called the accession year system. Jewish chronicles, following a non-accession year system, counts the starting year as the first regnal year, the next as the second and so on. The third year of Jehoiachin's reign in Babylonian chronicles would be the fourth year in Israel's chronicles.


NBU King Nebuchadnezzar (also called Nebuchadrezzar).

NWT New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. Bible translation by the Watchtower Society. Quotes from CD-ROM version, 1993. All Bible quotes in this document from the NWT except if otherwise noted.

NIV New International Version of the Holy Bible, by The International Bible Society 1973, 78, 84.

RSV Revised Standard Version. The built-links refers to this translation.

NJB The New Jerusalem Bible (1985). Catholic.


Footnote 1: The fall of Harran in 609 BC is often understood in relation to the book of Jeremiah. See Professor D. J. Wiseman in The New Bible Dictionary, 2nd ed, 1982, p. 101; and Prof. Guy P. Couturier in The Jerome Biblical Commentary, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1968, p. 300; Dr. J. A. Thompson: The Book of Jeremiah, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1980, p. 21, 533.

Footnote 2: Avigdoz Orr: The Seventy Years of Babylon, Vetus Testamentum, Vol VI, 1956, p. 305. The same argument, that the seventy years was for Babylonian supremacy and not Jewish exile, is also emphasised by other experts. See Dr. Peter R. Ackroyd in Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Vol XVII, 1958, p. 23; Prof. Norman K. Gottwald: All the Kingdoms of the Earth, New York, Evanston, London 1964, p. 265, 2666; Dr. Otto Plöger: Aus der Spätzeit des Alten Testaments, Göttingen, 1971, p. 68.

Footnote 3: Actually, some sources say 586 BC, which is only caused by an apparent contradiction between 2. Kings 24, 25 and Jeremiah 52:12 on one side and Jeremiah 52:28-30 on the other hand. Since the book of Jeremiah was obviously completed by a Jew living in Babylon, he is likely to have used the accession year system while Jeremiah who wrote Kings would use the Jewish system.


The person responsible for 99% of the research behind this page is Carl Olof Jonsson. His book The Gentile Times Reconsidered (Commentary Press, Atlanta, 1986), which unfortunately is out of print, contains the most extensive and exhaustive discussion of this topic available.

:: TowerWatch Store ::

Rare Watchtower Publications

Now Only $15 ea
Save more with our
"Bundle Discounts"

Read! Search!
Zoom! Print! Thousands of pages

70 years of
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society publications
on Ten CD’s

Giving you the opportunity to see the articles for yourself

Invaluable for your ministry!

A must for serious research!

Great gift for the collector!
Solution Graphics

Official PayPal Seal

Next Day Shipping!

Detailed descriptions of each CD in  the TowerWatch Store

:: In Our Forum ::

:: Ads by Google ::

Seventy Years of Watchtower Publications on Twelve CD's

Now Only $15 ea or $140 for the Set




Email Webmaster

Tell a Friend About This Site

Return to top