|Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries||Watchtower|
|The desolation of 587 b.C.|
The assertion of the Watchtower organization that it comprises “God’s organization”, hinges entirely on their arbitrary dogma that Jesus Christ became king in 1914 A.D. and that a few years later, He selected them –amongst all other religions- as His sole organization.
Passages that are
The marginal notes of the Watchtower organization publications that are used in this study have been taken from the Greek edition, unless otherwise specified. Up until the 1980s decade, the Greek version was behind the English one, by about 5 to 6 months. From then onwards, they are published simultaneously.
The year 1914 was proclaimed by the Watchtower organization, after arbitrarily adding 2520 years to the year 607 b.C., during which year, Jerusalem was laid waste and Sedechia was dethroned.
On the contrary, every Encyclopedia and every Bible scholar have irrefutable evidence that Jerusalem was not laid waste in 607, but 587 b.C.
The Watchtower misinterprets 6 verses of the Holy Bible that mention “70 years”, and it claims that these refer to 70 years of desolation of Jerusalem. It has added these years to the year 537 b.C. (the year of the Israelites’ return to Jerusalem), in order to reach the critical year (for their purposes) of 607 b.C.
But these 6 verses do not speak of 70 years of desolation; quite the opposite, some of them (after careful observation) prove that Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 b.C., as everybody else says (everybody, except Watchtower).
We shall briefly examine these six verses, proving from within the very Bible that Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 and not in 607 b.C., thus defeating the Watchtower with a “checkmate in six moves”.
1. The 70 years of DOMINANCE of Jeremiah 25: 11,12
11. “And all the land shall become desolate and dazzled. And those nations shall work in bondage under the king of Babylon for 70 years.”
12. “And when those 70 years are completed, I shall reciprocate unto the king of Babylon and that nation (says the Lord) their iniquity, and on the land of the Chaldeans, and I shall ensure that this desolation is eternal”
We notice the following in this passage:
a. The 70 years refer to the years of slavery of the surrounding nations, and not the years of desolation of Jerusalem, as asserted by the Watchtower, in their book. This can be inferred in verse 9 also, of the same chapter: “on this land and on all these nations around it”
b. As soon as the 70 years HAD BEEN COMPLETED, there was to be reciprocation against the “king of Babylon”. This is proof that the 70 years ended in 539 b.C. – the year in which the Watchtower also admits that Babylon fell. That was when its king received the reciprocation.
But, contrary to what this Bible passage says, the Watchtower in another book says that the 70 years ended in 537 b.C., in other words, 2 years after the fall of Babylon, when Cyrus’ decree was issued. Their book furthermore asserts that firstly, the 70 years come to an end, then the reciprocation takes place!! On the other hand, the Watchtower edition of 15-12-1979 curiously states that the expression “king of Babylon” was applied for another 2 years after the fall of Babylon, and in fact to Cyrus, the king of Persia (!!!) ,apparently because, as conqueror of Babylon, he also became…. its king.
This reveals the intentional distortion of the Holy Bible by the Watchtower organization. The Holy Bible makes no such statement anywhere. If this were the case, the king of Babylon could have been mentioned as the king of Assyria, since he had defeated it too. However, this would lead to an absurdity. Besides, everywhere in the Holy Bible the kings of Persia are referred to as Persians, and not Babylonian kings. (Chronicles II, 36: 20). But the very same passage (Jeremiah 25:12) proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that when it refers to “reciprocation unto the king of Babylon” , it means exactly what it says, and not what is advantageous to the Watchtower organization. And, it doesn’t only speak of reciprocation unto the king of Babylon, but also of “reciprocation against that nation (the Babylonians) and an eternal desolation on the land of the Chaldeans.”
So, what was in fact laid waste was Babylon, and not Persia. Consequently, the reciprocation does not pertain to the king of Persia (who didn’t even deserve such a vengeful reciprocation, since he had been a benefactor to God’s people at the time, with his decree for their return to Israel – see also Isaiah 13: 19,20,22). Jeremiah clearly says here that the 70 years would end, with the destruction of Babylon and its King, and not 2 years later, as is convenient for the Watchtower.
Since these 70 years are not related to Jerusalem and Sedechia’s dethronement, they cannot be used for the determination of the date of its desolation.
Even if we did accept this as the beginning of the Time of the Nations as the Watchtower claims, we reach 1912 and not 1914. (609 b.C. + 2520 years = 1912 A.D.).
But we know that Jerusalem was destroyed in the 18th year of Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 52: 28,29), while Babylon already ruled during his 1st year (Jeremiah 25: 1 and Kings II, 24: 1,7).
“…..after the 70 years have been completed in Babylon, I shall visit you and I shall carry out my benevolent promise to you, to restore you to this place.”
This is the most basic argument of the Watchtower organization for the 70 years of Judean desolation, and it hinges itself on the tiny word “in”. (May it come, page 190). Its argument is as follows:
“Since God is speaking to the Hebrew captives and He is telling them that they would remain for 70 years “in” Babylon, it means that these are the 70 years of Judean captivity and desolation. Jerusalem was re-inhabited, in 537 b.C., therefore its desolation must have taken place 70 years earlier, i.e., in 607 b.C. (537 + 70 = 607)”.
In reality however, we saw in the previous passage that we examined (Jeremiah 25: 11,12), that the 70 years were years of Babylonian dominance over the surrounding nations. So, what is going on here?
In their attempt to explain this passage, certain interpreters start counting the 70 years from the 1st year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, i.e., from 605 b.C. (according to historians), when the Judeans were subjugated “in” Babylon (Kings II, 24:1). Thus, their return would take place in approximately 70 years.
Naturally the Watchtower rejects even this aspect, (May it come, page190), but this is not the real answer. The real answer lies in the word “in”.
The Hebrew text in that passage has the adverb “le”, (), which also means “for” Babylon. Therefore, this passage should be translated as: “when the 70 years shall be completed for Babylon” and not “in Babylon”, as incorrectly translated by the archmandrite Neophytos Vamvas in the Neo-Greek Translation that is in widespread use in Greece.
Thus, the Septuagint translation that was used by the Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles does not say “in Babylon”, but is translated as: “´When it is time for Babylon to complete the 70 years, I shall visit you…” (Due to a different numbering, the Septuagint reference is Jeremiah 36:10).
Similarly, the following translations convey the meaning correctly, as “for Babylon”: Revised Translation, American Stereotype Translation, Emphatic Bible, Bible of Jerusalem, (Complete Bible), New English Bible, The Bible in Living English by Bighton etc..
For any “Watchtower Witness” who has doubts as to the meaning of this word, he can open his organization’s book “Biblical Stories”, story Íï.39. In there, he will see in the picture the gold petal atop the high priest’s head, inscribed: “Sanctification for Yahve”. The adverb “le” (), in there is clearly apparent, and should convince even the most distrustful
The correct interpretation therefore is: “When the 70 years are completed FOR Babylon” (= length of time that had been allotted for Babylon). It was a concession of 70 years of universal dominance, as we saw in Jeremiah 25: 11,12).
Thus, this passage also doesn’t have anything to do with the 70 years of Jerusalem’s desolation as the Watchtower claims, but a period of 70 years of Babylonian dominance over the surrounding nations as we saw previously.
But even if we accepted Vamvas’ inaccurate interpretation (70 years in Babylon) and if it was actually referring to 70 years of Judean captivity as Watchtower prefers it, the year 607 A.D. still comes up wrong, dragging behind it the entire edifice of 1914.
Let’s take a look at the inferences from the beginning of Jeremiah’s chapter 29 that we are examining, in verses 1 and 2; we become aware that those words were addressed to the captives of the 7th / 8th year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, (Kings II, 24: 12 and Jeremiah, 52: 28 - 30), and not to the captives of the final destruction of Jerusalem, which took place in the 15th year of his reign, i.e., 11 years later. (Jeremiah 52: 28 - 30).
This detail the Watchtower is compelled to acknowledge, in the Watchtower edition of 1-2-1980, pages 26,27. Besides, if it had been referring to the captives of the final fall of Jerusalem, Jeremiah would not have still been in Jerusalem! (Jeremiah 29:1,2. (Compare this, with Kings II´ 24: 12, where it clearly shows that they were the captives of Nebuchadnezzar’s 8th year).
Thus, those who were supposed to remain in Jerusalem for 70 years were those who had immigrated during Nebuchadnezzar’s 7th/8th year. But when Jerusalem was laid waste, they had already been there for 11years, from the 7th to the 18th year of Nebuchadnezzar. (according to Jeremiah 52: 28 - 30). Which means, they had another 59 years of captivity until their return, by Cyrus’ decree.. (70 - 11 = 59). And since (according to Watchtower) they returned in the year 537 b.C., the desolation must have taken place 59 years earlier, i.e.: 537 b.C. + 59 = 596 b.C., and not 607 b.C..
In this way, the year 1914 becomes 1925!
The variance of one year (7/8) between the verses of Kings II, 24: 12, and Jeremiah 52: 28, is not attributed to some kind of contradiction of the Holy Bible, only a differing method of calculating time by the two authors. The one author has included the year of enthronement of each king, while the other has not.
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“In the first year of Darius’ reign…… I, Daniel, came to comprehend in the books the number of years that the Lord had told to Jeremiah the prophet: that 70 years (worth) of devastations of Jerusalem shall be fulfilled”.
Here, the Watchtower interprets this as meaning that Jerusalem would remain desolate for 70 years, according to Jeremiah. (Watchtower 1965 page 155. May it come, page 190). But this passage says nothing of the sort. On careful examination, we will observe the following:
a. It is referring to Jeremiah’s prophecy that we just examined in the two previous passages, consequently it too is referring to the 70 years of Babylonian dominance, and not to 70 years of Judean desolation.
b. It does not say “70 years of devastation of Jerusalem”, but “of devastations” (=Plural). Hence it cannot be speaking of the one, final desolation of Jerusalem. (Jeremiah 52: 28 – 30).
Another translation is: “in the ruins of Jerusalem”. In Jeremiah 25 : 11 which contains the unedited words of this prophecy to which Daniel makes reference, this word is used in the Singular: “And all of this land must be rendered a ruined land” (Translation of New World in English).
But in Daniel 9: 1,2 , the Hebrew text uses the word “le horbah” which often signifies “ruins”. The “Interpreter’s Bible” – vol.6, page 495 – interprets the word “horbah” : “A word frequently used to describe the state of a devastated land, after the passing of hostile armies” (Look up and compare the word in Hebrew, in the following verses: Leviticus 26:31,33. Isaiah 49: 19. Jeremiah 44: 22, Ezekiel 36: 34. Malachi 1: 4).
Thus, if the verse implies “successive devastations”, there cannot be a specific point in time for commencing the calculation of the 70 years, because the devastations were four: they commenced in 605 and lasted until 587 b.C. .
But, if it implies “a ruined land” or “ruins” (as it most probably does), then this passage has the following meaning: “70 years would be completed in the ruins of Jerusalem” (or: “While Jerusalem would continue to be a desolate land”)
For example, if someone says to you: “The night was completed while I was in deep sleep”, it won’t imply that he necessarily slept through the entire night! He could have gone to sleep at 4.00 in the morning.
“And those who escaped the sword he transferred to Babylon, where they were (made) slaves to him and to his sons, up to the time of the Persians’ reign. So that the word of the Lord through the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled: up to when the land will (again) enjoy its Sabbaths. For during the entire time of its desolation, it guarded the Sabbath, until 70 years had been completed”.
In this passage also, the Watchtower sees 70 years of desolation of Jerusalem. (May it come, page 190). But not even this passage says anything like this. Furthermore, it too makes reference to Jeremiah’s prophecy (Jeremiah 25: 11,12), where we saw that the prophet was referring to 70 years of Babylonian dominance.
The same thing applies here also, as in Daniel 9: 1,2. It doesn’t say that Jerusalem would be desolate for 70 years, but that it would continue to be desolate, up until the time that the 70 years of Babylonian dominance would be completed.
However, Jeremiah makes no mention anywhere of Sabbatical repose. This passage makes reference to Leviticus 26, 34,35: “Then shall the land enjoy (be restituted MNK) its Sabbaths, for the duration of the time that it remained deserted….” Ezra therefore in the passage that we are examining mentions that this prophecy was also fulfilled, as was Jeremiah’s (Jeremiah 27: 7)
“… in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord was to Zechariah… and the angel of the Lord replied, saying “Lord almighty, for how much longer shall You not be compassionate towards Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, against which (cities) You have been exasperated for these 70 years?”
In these words once again, the Watchtower organization maintains that they are referring to the 70 years of desolation of Jerusalem. (Awake 22-9-1972 page 27).
Not only does this passage say any such thing, but the words here actually indicate that Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 b.C., and that the Holy Bible is in total agreement with historians!
a. We observe that it isn’t speaking of 70 years of desolation, but of “70 years of exasperation” of God towards Jerusalem.
b. It is very clear that this wrath and exasperation of God towards Jerusalem had already lasted for 70 years, up to -and including- the moment that the angel was saying those words. If this were not the case, then the angel’s question would have been useless.
c. If we can therefore determine when those words were spoken by the angel, we can calculate when God’s exasperation had begun, and subsequently the time of Jerusalem’s destruction. The Watchtower organization is in agreement with historians, who place the duration of Darius’ enthronement between 521 and 520 b.C. (“All of the Scripture …beneficial” page 169 para. 3).
The Persians didn’t measure their year commencing from January; this is why it falls between two of our years. Thus, the year of Darius’ enthronement started mid-521 and ended mid-520 b.C. Contrary to the Judeans, the Persians numbered their king’s “1st year” with the year that followed his enthronement. Thus, Darius’ “first year” was 520/521 b.C.
According to verse 7, the words of that angel were spoken in “the 11th month, of the 2nd year of Darius”; in other words, in 519 b.C.
So, from the year 519 to the year 607 b.C., ð.×., the difference is not 70 years as the Watchtower claims; it is 88 years (!!!!)
In order to therefore trace when the 70 years of exasperation started, we have to go back 70 years from the year 519 b.C., when the angel had uttered those words.
We thus have :
519 + 70 = 589 b.C. - THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE 70 YEARS OF GOD’S EXASPERATION.
The Holy Bible informs us that God’s exasperation towards Jerusalem commenced with the 2-year siege by the Babylonians:
Jeremiah 21: 2,4 - 7: “...the king of Babylon raised war against us…. Thus said the Lord: … behold, I am about-facing the weapons of war that are in your hands, with which you fight against the king of Babylon and the Chaldeans, who are besieging you outside the walls…. I shall wage war against you, with… anger, and with exasperation, and great wrath ...I shall turn over Sedechia…. and the people, and those that are left over in this city… unto the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon…”
Kings II, 25: 1 - 8: “And in the 9th year of his (Sedechia’s) reign…. came Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon…. and they built enclosure walls all around her (the city) in a circle. And the city was under siege, up to the 11th year of the king Sedechia (= for 2 years)… and the city was captured….”
So, it seems the Holy Bible as well as historians are in total agreement over the year of Jerusalem’s destruction. Only the Watchtower disagrees with everyone!!
“And in the 4th year of the king Darius,…. they sent forth… to speak to the priests…. Saying: “Must I weep on the 5th month -now that I have left - as I have done for so many years?” And the word of the Lord almighty was uttered to me, saying: “When you fasted and mourned in the 5th and in the 6th month during those 70 years, were you indeed fasting for me? For me?”
Once again, the Watchtower interprets those 70 years as the years of Jerusalem’s desolation. (Awaken 22/9/1972 page 27). And again, it insists on seeing those things that it wants to see, and not those that the passage is actually saying.
The issue of the verses under examination is the following:
In Darius’ 4th year, the priests of the temple (that was already under reconstruction) asked God if they should still continue their fasting and their mourning on the 5th and the 7th month of every year. God’s reply followed.
So here, there is mention of 70 years of MOURNING AND FASTING; no mention of the fall of Jerusalem whatsoever. Those 70 years continued, up to the moment that the question was posed to the priests, otherwise, they wouldn’t be asking if they had to continue with the fasting,
The Watchtower organization admits that this was the fasting that was respected every 5th and 7th month of every year, as a display of mourning for the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar’s chief bodyguard, Nabuzaradan on the 5th (Jeremiah 52: 12,13, Kings II, 25: 8,9), and for the assassination of Yedaliah, and the complete desolation of Jerusalem on the 7th month (Jeremiah 41: 1 - 3,10, Kings II, 25: 22 - 25). Watchtower admits both of these in its book, An aid for understanding the Bible, page 11,339 in English.
As we saw in Zechariah 1: 7,12 that we examined, the 2nd year of Darius was 519 b.C. (“All of the Scripture…is beneficial”, page 169 para. 3). Therefore, Darius’ 4th year is 517 b.C.
But, if the fasting and the mourning was continuous, without interruption, for 70 years, (Zechariah 7: 3,5), and if those 70 years had commenced on the year of Jerusalem’s desolation, we can locate that year of desolation, by counting backwards 70 years, from 517 b.C. to the 4th year of Darius, when the question was put to God.
We therefore have:
517 bC + 70 years of mourning = 587 bC : the year of Jerusalem’s desolation.
We call upon the Watchtower organization to stop its willful mendacity and its misleading of millions of people, by asserting that Jerusalem was supposedly destroyed in 607 b.C., that the Lord’s Presence took place in 1914 A.D., and that He supposedly appointed them as an organization of His.
Translation by A.N.
Article published in English on: 3-9-2005.
Last update: 3-9-2005.