Thursday, July 9, 2009

Was Jerusalem Destroyed in 607 BC?


S said...

What difference does it make?

That is history.

Anonymous said...

DT, Christy is quite misinformed and IMO is playing games with the innocent-minded JWs. IMO She never had any interest in researching their teachings. IMO She only desired to play mind games with people who are essentially simple laity and not theologically trained clergy.

If she had done her research better she would have seen that the 586 BCE theory was COMPLETELY based on the faulty Ptolemy’s Canon. The Canon makes absolute dating by means of it impossible. There is no way to be sure that Ptolemy was correct in assigning a certain number of years to various kings.

For example, while Ptolemy credits Evil-merodach with only two years of rule, Polyhistor assigns him twelve years. Then, too, one cannot be certain that just five kings ruled during this period. At Borsippa, for instance, were found names of a number of Babylonian kings that do not appear elsewhere.

Simple arithmetic also solves this problem of 586 or 607. Babylon fell in 539 BCE, the Jews were to be in bondage for 70 years, they were given 2 years grace and left in 537 BCE for Jerusalem. It is not rocket science to know that 537 BCE added to 70 gives one 607 BCE.

However, this calculation relies on the interval of Jewish captivity being seventy literal years. That is the way the prophet Daniel, toward the close of the period of Jerusalem’s desolation, understood it when he is recorded as writing:

"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." (Dan. 9:2)

Note that here Daniel speaks of the "number of the years" of devastation as seventy. Surely he could not have done so if the seventy years were symbolic or an inflated round number.

Additional evidence is also provided in the book of Zechariah. We read: "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?" (Zech. 7:5; 1:12)

The way this question is framed, with reference to specific months, certainly indicates that a period of seventy literal years was involved.

That the Jews in ancient times understood the seventy years as being literal and involving a total devastation of the land is apparent from the works of Josephus, a Jewish historian. In his Antiquities of the Jews, Book X, chap. 9, par. 7, he tells that "all Judea and Jerusalem, and the temple, continued to be a desert for seventy years."

When the Israelites were able to return to Judah and Jerusalem, that desolation ended. There is general agreement that Babylon fell to Cyrus on October 5/6, 539 BCE. From the Scriptural record at 2 Chronicles 36:21-23 and Ezra 3:1-3, which tells of Cyrus’ decree liberating the Jews and their return to their homeland, the indications are that the Jews arrived back in their homeland around the early part of October of 537 BCE, ending the seventy years of desolation. Jerusalem must, therefore, have been destroyed seventy years earlier, in 607 BCE.

Various attempts to harmonize the date 586 BCE with what the Bible says are therefore unsatisfactory. None of such attempts fit the Bible’s testimony that Jerusalem and Judah lay desolate for seventy years.