In order for Jehovah’s Witnesses to be able to make sense of the 1914 date, the fall of Jerusalem needs to have happened in 607BC. The problem is that all evidence of Jerusalem destruction points to the date 587BC.
The Bible also lines up with the date 587BC. But many still ask “Did Jerusalem fall in 607BC?”
No, Jerusalem did not fall in 607BC. 2 Kings 25:8 tells us that in the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, he destroyed Jerusalem along with the temple and all other important buildings. Many sources prove that Nebuchadnezzar started to rule in 605BC, and if he destroyed Jerusalem in his 19th year according to the Bible, the date would come to 587BC, not 607BC.
We can also be sure that Jerusalem fell in 586BC because evidence shows that the temple was restored in 516BC, marking the end of the 70 years of desolation beginning in 586BC Daniel 9:2.
Despite what is taught, even the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ own publications can be used to prove that Jerusalem fell in 587BC and not 607BC, and to get to the year 607BC, one has to ignore thousands of highly credible scholars, historians, archeologists, and even Biblical scholars.
Jehovah’s Witnesses simplify the calculation by merely taking the fall of Babylon in 539BC, deducting 2 years (to walk to Jerusalem), and adding 70 years that and get you to 607BC, and by doing that, are missing some very important details in the scriptures and are forced to reject physical facts.
How can we prove that Jerusalem fell in 587BC, not 607BC using JW publications and the Bible alone?
Starting from the most recent event, the one event that the organization and scholars both agree on: The Fall of Babylon in 539BC, let’s look into the organization’s literature to discover when and for how long each ruler reigned for. We can then use these dates to calculate back in time to when Jerusalem was actually destroyed.
Yes, it is indeed possible to prove the date 607BC wrong using the organization’s own publications. Here’s a short summary with references to the publications.
- The fall of Babylon happened in 539BC, and is the one date agreed upon by both Jehovah’s Witnesses and Historians. This can be confirmed by looking at their Watchtower article in 1965 Babylon’s Fall Turns the Tide of History where it says: “Although Babylon fell on Tishri 16 (October 5-6), 539 B.C.E.” This date can be confirmed by secular sources too, as seen in an article on Babylon from Ancient.eu among thousands of other sources.
- Nabonidus started to rule in 556BC. We know this because he was the king in power when Babylon fell in his 17th year of rulership. This is confirmed to be accepted by the organization by consulting The Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 2, Nabonidus where is states “On the basis of cuneiform texts he is believed to have ruled some 17 years (556-539 B.C.E.)” Secular sources also agree that Nabonidus reigned from 556–539BC, read this article from Britannica.com, just one of many reliable sources.
- Before Nabonidus, Labashi-Marduk (Neriglissar’s son), was in power for 9 months, started to rule in 556BC or 557BC depending on which month he was killed. In the 1965 Watchtower article, The Rejoicing of the Wicked Is Short-lived, it says “Labashi-Marduk, a vicious boy, succeeded him, and was assassinated within nine months.” Many other sources confirm that he was killed in 556BC after ruling for only 9 months.
- Before Labashi-Marduk, Neriglissar was ruler over Babylon and reigned for 4 years, starting his rulership in 560BC or 561BC. The Watchtower of 1965, in the article Rejoicing of the Wicked Is Short-lived, supports this where they state “Neriglissar, who reigned for four years” Other sources such as Wikipedia also agree he reigned for 4 years and place his reign from 560 to 556 BC.
- Before Neriglissar, Evil-Merodach ruled for two years, starting 562BC or 563BC, before he was murdered by Neriglissar, who was actually his brother-in-law. The Watchtower of 1965, under the article Rejoicing of the Wicked Is Short-lived, it states: “Evil-Merodach reigned two years and was murdered by his brother-in-law Neriglissar” There are many secular sources that show he reigned for two years from 562BC to 560BC, one example is from encyclopedia.com
- Before Evil-Merodach, Nebuchadnezzar reigned for 43 years, which means than the start of his rulership was in either 605BC or 606BC. To confirm that the organization agrees, we can go to Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 2, Nebuchadnezzar where they say: “Nebuchadnezzar ruled as king for 43 years” Again, secular sources also agree with his reign being 43 years starting in 605BC and ending in 562BC.
- We know from the Bible at 2 Kings 25:8;9 that in Nebuchadnezzar’s 19th year of rulership, Jerusalem was destroyed. Now that we know that his rulership started in 605BC or 606BC, we can add 19 years to get the widely accepted date of Jerusalem’s destruction in 586BC or 587BC. 2 Kings 25:8;9 reads: “… in the 19th year of King Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar the king of Babylon, Neb·uʹzar·adʹan the chief of the guard, the servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem.+ 9 He burned down the house of Jehovah,+ the king’s house,+ and all the houses of Jerusalem”
As you can see, even using Watchtower publications, the numbers from 539BC to 607BC simply do not add up.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are still adament that Jerusalem was destroyed in 607BC, however, all the evidence points to 586/7BC. Where did the extra 20 years go?
In the next section, I want to look at the scriptures to figure out what this 20-year discrepancy is…
Making sense of the 70 Years prophesy [and the missing 20 years]
Spoiler alert, there isn’t a “missing 20 years”, however, there is a 20-year offset that ties everything up so that the Bible and physical evidence agree.
“Note that it is important to keep these stages of the Captivity in mind when computing the seventy years of exile announced by Jeremiah 29:10; the interval between the first deportation in 605 B.C., in which Daniel himself was involved, and 536 B.C., when the first returnees under Zerubbabel once more set up an altar in Jerusalem, amounted to seventy years…”
“…Likewise, the interval between the destruction of the first temple by Nebuzaradan in 586 and the completion of the second temple by Zerubbabel in 516 was about seventy years”The Expositor’s Bible Commentary
There are three separate scriptures that are talking about the same prophecy of 70 years of punishment, that were each separately fulfilled in two start dates. We must be careful not to assume that these both have the same start and end date!
- Jeremiah 25:11 – Serving the King of Babylon for 70 Years.
Jeremiah 29:10 – Bring you back to this place.
- Daniel 9:2 – The desolation of Jerusalem would last 70 years.
Serving the King of Babylon for 70 Years – Jeremiah 25:11
This 70 year period started around 605/6BC and ended around 535/6BC
And all this land will be reduced to ruins and will become an object of horror, and these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon for 70 years.”Jeremiah 25:11 – New World Translation
By paying attention to what was written, we come to realize that it does not say that the 70 years are tied to the destruction of Jerusalem, but rather, it says “these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon for 70 years. Yes, not just the Jews that were to serve the king of Babylon, but also people from other nations.
We need to understand that the Kingdom of Judah was a client state of the Assyrian empire. There were many other nations that were also “client states” of the Assyrian Empire. So it makes sense when reading from Jeremiah 25:11 that it refers to “these nations”
The beginning of the deportation and their service to the King of Babylon started around 605BC.
After the defeat of Pharaoh Necho’s army by the Babylonians at Carchemish in 605 BCE, Jehoiakim began paying tribute to Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon. Some of the young nobility of Judah were taken to Babylon.Wikipedia – The Babylonian Captivity
If “these nations” served under the king of Babylon until 539BC at the fall of Babylon, and were released, Jews would have started to rebuild the Second Temple around 536/7BC, then the deportation to Babylon would have started around 606/7BC. This is very possible because some of “these nations” already started to serve the king of Babylon around the time the first Jews did in 605BC.
To make sure that Jeremiah was not meaning that the destruction and the exile were going to happen at the same start and end date, let’s look at another account of the 70 years.
“For this is what Jehovah says, ‘When 70 years at Babylon are fulfilled, I will turn my attention to you, and I will make good my promise by bringing you back to this place.’Jeremiah 29:10 – New World Translation
Jeremiah 29:10 only talks about bringing his people back to this place. We know now that the beginning of their service to the king of Babylon started around 605/6BC, and the return 70 years later would bring you to the year 535/536BC, the same year an altar was set up and the start of the rebuilding of the second temple started under Zerubbabel.
The desolation of Jerusalem would last 70 years – Daniel 9:2
This 70 year period started in 586BC and ended in 516BC
in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, discerned by the books the number of years mentioned in the word of Jehovah to Jeremiah the prophet to fulfill the desolation of Jerusalem, namely, 70 years.Daniel 9:2 New World Translation
As was explained earlier in this article, this is a prophecy that was fulfilled and is even more evidence that 586BC is an accurate date for the destruction of Jerusalem.
70 years after the destruction of Jerusalem in 586BC we get to 516BC. In the year 516BC, the Second Temple’s rebuilding was completed by Zerubbabel. This was the conclusion of the 70-year desolation prophecy.
The date 516BC is widely accepted as the date when the Second Temple was completed, and it’s completion marks the beginning of the The Second Temple Period that lasted up until 70AD