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                        Babylonian Captivity

Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, created an eschatology that foresaw a time of unprecedented peace coming to the world under the Zionists in 1914. Before that time, his true followers were to be transformed and taken to heaven, perhaps by as early as 1910.

To calculate his terminal date of 1914, Russell employed methods such as the dimensions of the pyramids in Egypt.

When Russell died in 1916, the movement splintered into numerous groups. J. F. (“Judge”) Rutherford, who was not named in Russell’s will as a member of the initial Editorial Committee, used interesting methods to take over the legal rights of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. Splinter groups remain to this day, although Rutherford’s is by far the largest.

During the 1920s and 1930s, Rutherford totally reshaped the organisation and its teachings to the extent that the current Watchtower Society owes its existence and characteristics to Rutherford.

Under Rutherford, the critical date of 1914 became the time that God’s Kingdom was set up, but in heaven, and the Watch Tower Society was its sole voice on earth.

To arrive at this critical date in October 1914 (two months after the Great War commenced), Rutherford and his successors employed several interesting interpretations, including a unique application of the prophecy at Daniel 4.

The Society says there was to be a period of 2520 years from the time that the Kingdom’s representative was removed from earth until the Kingdom was reinstated in 1914, in heaven.

They say that the representative of God’s Kingdom was removed from earth when God had Nebuchadnezzar destroy Jerusalem. Today, the Society says this happened in 607 BCE.

Unfortunately for the Society, Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem about 20 years after the Society’s incorrect date.

Also unfortunately for the Society, although God had decreed his people would have to serve Babylon for 70 years, at no stage did he say this required the removal of the representatives of his kingdom from humankind.

During the Jews’ captivity in Babylon, much of their early Scriptures were collated and penned. Centuries later, the contemporary presence of the Kingdom was Jesus’ main message. And the Society would have us believe that the meeting recorded at Acts 15 was of the earthly governing body.

And the people could have served Babylon for the whole of the 70 years while they remained in their own land, just as the surrounding nations did. They could have served out their full 70 years of servitude to Babylon without Jerusalem being destroyed.

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Refuting the Society’s history and exegesis of the 70 years of servitude by the the Jews to Babylon

Seventy Years of Servitude

When Nebuchadnezzar made the Jews his servants, did this mean God removed the visible representation of his Kingdom?

What did Nebuchadnezzar Destroy 

Why is so much effort spent exposing the Watchtower Society’s neo- Babylonian chronology?

significance of chronology

A simplified explanation of the key elements of 6th century neo- Babylonian chronology

the neo-Babylonian chronology

To calculate the date when Jerusalem was destroyed, the WTS must first be able to accurately pinpoint the year that the Exiles returned from Babylon. Can the Watchtower Society do this?

This is such a crucial yet largely ignored subject.

The Jews return home

also download

When did the Jews
Return to Jerusalem?

If you are looking for the simplest picture that shows how the WTS calculates that Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 BCE, and basic problems with their method, this might be what you want.

WTS false reasoning for 607 BCE

The WTS accepts the date 539 BCE for the Fall of Babylon. But they do not accept the Absolute Date that is used to calculate the date of the Fall.

Here is a picture that illustrates the WTS’s problem.

Why historians know Babylon fell in 539 BCE

Do you want to understand what the Scriptures say about the “70 years”?

Here is a picture-based explanation.

70 years of servitude

Did you know that the WTS lists the Babylonian kings correctly and gives each the correct length of their reign?
Make certain your PDF reader is set to “full page”.

There are 6 pages in the attached PDF file.

WTS support for the Babylonian king-list

At Jeremiah 29:10, the WTS persists in using the rather obsolete and little used “at Babylon” rather than the more modern and correct “for Babylon”.

The WTS says that “at” Babylon indicates that the Jews were located at Babylon for seventy years (607-537 BCE).

The correct phrase is “for” Babylon, which means that Judah and the nations served the Babylonians “for” 70 years, and when those 70 years “for Babylonian supremacy” were over, Jehovah punished Babylon and began the task of rehabilitating his people to their homeland.

The Danish NWT of 1985 reads “for” Babylon at this point, and the new revised Swedish NWT of 2003 reads “for” Babylon instead of the earlier 'in Babylon'.

Jer 29-10 Danish 1993 NWT

 

Jer 29-10 Swedish 2003 NWT

Here is the story of the “70 years” with no dates!

First, see the picture at “Outline Decay and Fall of Judah”

Then read the book at “Decay and Fall of Judah”.

This story has everything that would make a good movie. Set against the powerful nation of Egypt with its famed pyramids and the glory of Babylon with her renowned Hanging Gardens, is the story of a small agrarian nation of Judah, deeply influenced by the wicked practices of its surrounding neighbors.

The story has everything – murder, child sacrifices, cannibalism, male prostitution, power politics, spiritualism, and religion. What else would a movie want?

At the same time, the story shows that the Watchtower Society starts its analysis of the “70 years” at the wrong end, and that it then travels along the wrong path. Even more intrigue.

Outline Decay and Fall of Judah

 

Decay and Fall of Judah

The WTS regularly describes its version of the neo-Babylonian chronology as “Bible Chronology”, pitching it against the secular chronology provided by pagan Babylonians. The two diagrams on this Word file provide a critique of the WTS’s “Bible Chronology”.

WTS Bible Chronology

During the mid 1960s, we were regularly visited by Jehovah's Witnesses at the door. I needed to know how to manage the situation and I was very fortunate to be given two research Studies that exposed the JW’s errors on the neo-Babylonian chronology. One Study was written by Geoff Rogerson, from the small country town of Western Australia called Denmark, and the other was by Max Hatton, who had been a JW for 5 years but had been affected by Geoff's work.

Their Studies showed the Watchtower Society’s intellectual dishonesty, and they created in me a commitment to help free JWs from WTS’s mental stranglehold. So I owe the greatest debt to Geoff’s and Max’s dedication to exposing the WTS.

Their Studies, written in the mid-1960s, show that the organisation has long been aware of their errors, and that they have continually taken steps to hide them. As Max shows in his Study, Rutherford was forced to write a series of articles on the subject decades earlier, in 1922.

The facilities provided by computer technology have made it possible for Max’s work to be restructured and to be made widely available.

As well as being more legible, this release of his Study includes scans of the pages from the 1963 WTS books that Max refers to: “All Scripture is Inspired of God” and “Babylon the Great has Fallen!”. Some of Max’s correspondence with the WTS is also provided.

Although Max is effectively blind, he still carries out many civic and religious duties, while Geoff died just a short time ago.

1914_Touchstone_Of_TheWatchtower_Hatton

Daniel 9:24-27 records the answer to Daniel’s prayer by Angel Gabriel. Interpretations of these verses have resulted in a wide range of interpretations.

My suggestions are intended to provide parameters that may assist when an attempt is made to unearth the meaning of Gabriel’s answer.

I will appreciate any comments and advice.

Decree or not

The Babylonian Exile shaped Judaism and played a significant part in the Scriptures they produced. Understanding the Exile therefore helps us understand their Scripture. This Study seeks to understand the people and their times, and does not discuss the merits or otherwise of conflicting chronologies or dates.

For those who are interested, and as a side-issue, this Study touches on the position held by the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses regarding the “Seventy Years”, since the foundation of their authority rests on that understanding.

I appreciate comments, corrections, and additional relevant information, so that I can improve this Study. My email address is available
here and on the Study.

They would not listen

In 1977, R R Newton published, “The Crime of Claudius Ptolemy”. However, rather than support the WTS’s denial of the accepted neo-Babylonian chronology, Newton said that he fully accepted that chronology.

Newton Crime Ptolemy

An English translation of the article About the Dating of the Neo-Assyrian Eponym List by Hermann Hunger had been made available at http://goto.glocalnet.net/kf4/dating.htm and also at Wikipedia. To help me better comprehend his reasoning, I drew a picture to show my understanding of Hermann Hunger’s article, and he has given me permission to make it publicly available.

This does not mean that I either agree or disagree with his article, simply that I am providing my visual analysis of it.

Dating Eponym List Hermann Hunger

CITATION BY IT-1 OF THE SONCINO COMMENTARY ON EZEKIEL

In its article on “Chronology” and in the direct context of “From 997 BCE to desolation of Jerusalem”, page 462 of Insight on the Scriptures cites pages 20 -21 of the 1950 edition of Soncino Books of the Bible, Commentary on Ezekiel.

What are the words that the Insight article omitted when it cited the Soncino Commentary?

What does the Soncino Commentary say about the BCE dates of that period?

Soncino commentary on Ezekiel

The “Chronology” article in Insight on the Scriptures accepts from secular sources the date of 539 BCE for the Fall of Babylon. It must do so since it is not possible for pre-Christian sources to provide dates in terms of present-day calendars.

The “Chronology” article, however, denigrates the dates, source material, and chronologies employed by those who provide it with that date.

Insight's reliance on secular sources

Page 453 of the WTS’s book, “Insight on the Scriptures” says that the eclipse records for the 7th year of Cambyses can be used to calculate 539 BCE for the Fall of Babylon.

To do this, the “Chronology” article refers to J. N. Strassmaier, F. X. Kugler, T. Oppolzer, and O. Gingerich.

What did those people actually write?

How does the WTS manage to travel from the 7th year of Cambyses to the date of the Fall of Babylon?

539 BCE and an astronomical tablet

The October 1, 2011 issue of The Watchtower magazine carried the article: “When was Ancient Jerusalem Destroyed? Part One: Why it matters; What the evidence shows”.

There are two versions of Critiques: one is intended to be printed, the other is meant to be viewed on a computer screen. Download both versions.

Note that these are large files (almost 7 Meg). They take time to download and to format in a browser.

Also available in Spanish.
Documentada refutación al artículo de La Atalaya del 1 de Octubre 2011, usando una extensa documentación, que prueba que no existen bases para dudar de la fecha establecida por eruditos modernos en la datación de la caída de Jerusalén antigua en 587/6 AC. Además, se demuestra cómo el artículo en cuestión es un mero intento de desacreditación de fuentes válidas, usando descontextualización y tergiversación por motivos corporativos.

Print version
Critique of When Was Ancient Jerusalem Destroyed

Screen version
Onscreen Critique, October Watchtower, Jerusalem Destroyed

Spanish translation
Critica 1 de Cuándo fue Destruída la Antigua Jerusalén

To arrive at its date of 607 BCE for Jerusalem’s destruction, the WTS uses what it calls “Bible Chronology”.

This “Bible Chronology” says that since the “seventy year” period ended in 537 BCE, when 70 years are counted back this provides the 607 BCE date for Jerusalem’s destruction.

The WTS says its “Bible Chronology” method is superior to the secular uninspired chronology provided by secular sources.

Does the WTS’s “Bible Chronology” align with the Bible’s teachings on the “seventy years”? Is its method the valid way to determine when Jerusalem was destroyed?

Bible Chronology and the Seventy Years

There is no contradiction between the neo-Babylonian chronology which says that Jerusalem was destroyed in 587/586 BCE and the Biblical record.

The Spanish edition is also available.

What the Bible really says about Jerusalem's destruction

Spanish translation
Que es lo que la Biblia Dice Acerca de la Destrucción de Jerusalén

The Watchtower magazine says Jews entered Egypt within two months of Jerusalem being razed by Nebuchadnezzar.

Is it possible that all the events recorded in the Bible could have taken place during those two months?

It is crucial for the Watchtower that they did. The Watchtower starts the “Seventy Years” from the moment the Jews left Judah and entered Egypt, making this a critical pivotal date for the Watchtower.

Did Jews exit after two months

Carl Olof Jonsson examines the attempts by some who are trying to shorten the chronology and move the reigns of its kings forward in time by hundreds of years.

Can the neo-Babylonian Chronology be reduced, Part 1, Carl Olof Jonsson

Response from John Steele saying he was misrepresented in the Watchtower of November 1, 2011

Response from John Steele

The November 1, 2011 issue of The Watchtower magazine carried the article: “When was Ancient Jerusalem Destroyed? Part Two: What the clay documents really show”.

NOTE that the printed version of the Critique comes as TWO Parts.
Part A discusses the points raised in The Watchtower article.
Part B provides supporting evidences and additional material.

Download BOTH PARTS of the printed version as well as the onscreen version.

These files are large file (about 6 Meg each). They take time to download and to format in a browser.

Critique Part A of Jerusalem Destroyed part 2

Critique Part B (References) of Jerusalem Destroyed part 2

Screen version
Onscreen Critique, November Watchtower, Jerusalem Destroyed

Page 14 of the “Awake!” of June 2012 cites Ephraim Stern.

His book, “Archaeology of the Land of the Bible: The Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian Periods (732-332 B.C.E.), Vol. II” shows that his position is totally at odds with the position held by “Awake!”.

The June 2012 Awake Citation of Ephraim Stern

The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society [WTS] is maintaining its focus on “1914”. In December 2014, the WTS released: What Does the Bible Really Teach? This is a revision of the 2005 publication. Examination of the section under review in this Study indicates that the revision incorporates the text of the WTS’s Bible that was released in 2013. This is further suggested through the revised colour of the book’s cover, which is similar to the colour of the WTS’s 2013 Bible.

The dominant feature of WTS teaching is that God’s Kingdom, which for the WTS means “Government”, was set up in heaven in 1914, and that it assigned the WTS’s Governing Body [GB] to be its sole representative on Earth. The ingrained dependence on 1914 is shown in the 2015 WTS publication Examining the Scriptures Daily, where “1914” is mentioned 25 times.

The Watchtower still depends on 1914

Download this summary of the Watch Tower Society and its 607/1914 debacle and view it on a (16:9) computer screen.

The Watch Tower's creation of 1914 CE

Jeremiah and Ezekiel promised the Exiles that God would rebuild the city, restore his chosen people to their rightful position, and David’s throne would always remain occupied. These promises continue to remain unfulfilled and have cast their shadow throughout history.

The promises influenced the Hebrew Scriptures and Christian Scriptures. Last-Day communities continually repeat the anticipation, announcing that the promises would be fulfilled during their own lifetime. Many Christians perceive that these ancient Biblical promises are relevant to the 21st century. A long shadow has been cast by the promises made to the neo-Babylonian Exiles.

The Babylonian Exile shaped the future

The Governing Body and its Watchtower Society claims that in 1919 it was appointed by Jehovah God and Jesus Christ to represent all of their earthly Kingdom interests, to be their unique voice and sole representative towards all people on earth. The Watchtower’s authority lives or dies with that claim.

The Society’s critical date of 1919 is calculated from the dates of events in the 6th century BCE. Does the Society provide consistent, objective, and undeniable evidence for its appointment in 1919? Is that evidence strong enough to make a person devote their life and energy to the Watchtower and to its Governing Body?

Watchtower's 607 BCE Foundation Exposed Revision 2

BONUS! Extra reference material

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For the WTS, the fate of Judah following the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar has to be a totally complete removal of all people from a devastated land.

Archaeological research shows this is completely wrong. The community that remained on the land included not only poor villagers but also artisans, scribes, priests, and prophets.

An important part of the prophetic work of the time, particularly the books of Haggai and Zechariah, was compiled in Judah.

Those Who Remained from Bible Unearthed

Upon his death in 1916, Russell’s organisation splintered. Several still exist.

Some splinter groups realised Jerusalem had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar some 20 years after the date that had been taught by Russell (and was still being taught by Rutherford).

The download file is the brief acknowledgement of this error in a 1921 publication by one group that succeeded Russell.

A Chronological Error People's Paper 1 July 1921

Professor Jack Finegan discusses whether Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 BCE or in 586 BCE.

Light from the Ancient Past re 587 586

The Biblical record of its history is influenced by the theological objectives of the ancient writers and their editors.

Historiography

Why are the words of Cyrus’s Decree at Ezra 1 so very different to the words on the Cyrus Cylinder?

The WTS says that the dedication of the altar at Ezra 3:1-3 marked the end-point of the Seventy Years. They say this took place in the first year of Cyrus as King over Babylon. But was the altar dedicated in that year?

Fried Conquest and Restoration

Pages 12-14 of the “Awake!” of June 2012 (titled: Flee From Babylon!) includes statements from scholars but the article does not state where it obtained those quotations.

For example, on page 14, the “Awake!” article cites Ephraim Stern. The Thread (see right ==>) from JWN provides the complete quote.

A comprehensive presentation of current scholarly views is provided in the freely available review of Oded Lipschits’ book, “Rise and Fall of Jerusalem”.

JWN thread re June 12 2012 Awake

Review of 'The Fall and Rise of Jerusalem'

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