Jump to content
The World News Media

607 B.C.E. - Is it Biblically Supported?


JW Insider
 Share

Recommended Posts

  • Member

The October 1, 2011 Watchtower says this date is important for two reasons. 

*** w11 10/1 p. 26 When Was Ancient Jerusalem Destroyed?—Part One ***
But why be interested in the actual date when Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II razed the city of Jerusalem? First, because the event marked an important turning point in the history of God’s people. . . .
Second, because knowing the actual year when this “ultimate catastrophe” began and understanding how the restoration of true worship in Jerusalem fulfilled a precise Bible prophecy will build your confidence in the reliability of God’s Word. So why do Jehovah’s Witnesses hold to a date that differs from widely accepted chronology by 20 years? [Emphasis added]

Link to comment
Share on other sites


  • Views 50.7k
  • Replies 774
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

Hmmmm......I beg to differ. How about we both ask a number of friends a simple question at the KH this Sunday or in a field service group: "do you know how to explain why we believe 1914 and 607?"

This is where Freedom and sanity, and peace come from .... when you disregard people who have proved they have no credibility whatsoever ... and STOP BEING AFRAID OF DYING.  Every living thing th

Posted Images

  • Member

(Introductory Comments)

Although the Watchtower article says that we should take an interest, some JWs believe that questioning the 607 date is tantamount to apostasy. We shouldn't question the Governing Body or the "faithful and discreet slave." If we question the 607 date we are, perhaps, showing too much pride in our own understanding.

These are legitimate concerns for all of us. And it's one of the reasons that very few of us even understand the reason that such a question might come up in the first place. A discussion was already begun on the subject, but it quickly devolved into a discussion that showed more concern about the questioner(s) rather than the evidence itself. I take my own share of the blame for that problem. That's why, I'm restarting the question again, but this time we'll keep the focus only on evaluating the evidence, both Biblical and archaeological. I hope more people join in, and everyone is welcome, of course, but this time I think we can keep it moderated so that only comments about the evidence remain in the discussion. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Member

[Part One - Just a little more background]

The Bible contains no dates, at least not anything like the dates we use today. There is no such thing as a date like 539 BC, or 607 BCE, or 29 CE, or AD 33, or 70 CE, or 1914. The only types of dates that the Bible uses are expressions like:

(Genesis 5:21-27) 21 Eʹnoch lived for 65 years and then became father to Me·thuʹse·lah. 22 After becoming father to Me·thuʹse·lah, Eʹnoch continued to walk with the true God for 300 years. And he became father to sons and daughters. 23 So all the days of Eʹnoch amounted to 365 years. 24 Eʹnoch kept walking with the true God. Then he was no more, for God took him. 25 Me·thuʹse·lah lived for 187 years and then became father to Laʹmech. 26 After becoming father to Laʹmech, Me·thuʹse·lah lived for 782 years. And he became father to sons and daughters. 27 So all the days of Me·thuʹse·lah amounted to 969 years, and then he died.

(1 Kings 15:25-34) 25 Naʹdab the son of Jer·o·boʹam became king over Israel in the second year of King Aʹsa of Judah, and he reigned over Israel for two years. 26 He kept doing what was bad in the eyes of Jehovah . . .  . . . 33  In the third year of King Aʹsa of Judah, Baʹa·sha the son of A·hiʹjah became king in Tirʹzah over all Israel and reigned for 24 years. 34  But he kept doing what was bad in the eyes of Jehovah, and he walked in the way of Jer·o·boʹam and in his sin that he caused Israel to commit.

A portion of the Bible therefore includes a chronology system, that appears to track the number of years from Adam to Noah (and the Flood). Another portion appears to track the number of years from Noah (through Shem) to Abraham. Other sections track the time from Abraham to the Exodus. Then it gets a bit murky. Even so we know we are not too many years off between the Exodus and the Judges and then to King Saul and David. There is a also a lot of information to help track the time from David through the last Judean King Zedekiah. But even these "synchronisms" between the lines of kings leaves several open questions, which can be interpreted in various ways. Of course, not long after Zedekiah and the return of the Jews from Babylon to Judea & Israel, it gets murky again. And we have no chronology to track the time from, say, Zedekiah until Jesus is born.

In other words, you could know that Methuselah was born a certain number of years after Adam was created, or even that Shem or Abraham was born a certain number of years after Adam was created. but you would still have no idea when Adam was created, or what year the Flood arrived. We also have those murky or incomplete portions. That means that we know, for example, that Jereboam's son Nadab became king over Israel in the second year of King Asa of Judah, but we don't know how long that was after Adam or Noah or Abraham.

Still, the main point is that even if we did have a perfectly linked chronology from Adam through Zedekiah, such as the one seen in Genesis 5 or 1 Kings 15, above, we would still have no way to tell how long ago that time period started or ended. We would not be able to identify specific years, only relative years.

The only way we can start attaching specific years, like 4 BCE, or 70 CE, or 539 BCE to any of these "relative dates" is if we decide that we will accept non-Biblical dates, otherwise known as secular dates.

  • 4 BCE is not a Biblical date, it's a secular date.
  • 33 CE is not a Biblical date, it's a secular date.
  • 607 BCE is not a Biblical date, it's a secular date.
  • 587 BCE is not a Biblical date, it's a secular date
  • 539 BCE is not a Biblical date, it's a secular date.

The reason that is important is because the question about whether Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 BCE or 587/6 BCE is often framed as if one of those dates is Biblical and the other is secular. They are both secular! Everyone in the world, incluing historians, scientists, archaeologists, Bible scholars, the Watch Tower Society and the Governing Body must rely completely on secular dates to figure out how many years ago a Biblical event might have happened. 

So what do we do?

We need to pick a secular date that we think we can trust and begin trying to link Biblical events to it.  Then we see if we can't create a chain of linked events backwards and forward from there. In fact, we need to pick several secular dates because the Bible's relative chronology does not really link the time around Adam, Noah and Abraham all the way through the time of the Judges and Kings. And after the Temple is rebuilt after the time of Ezra, the timeline stops again, so we'd need to find another secular date to see if we can match the time of Jesus birth, baptism, death, and any other events in the Christian Greek Scriptures.

We need to find some secular dates that we can trust! This is exactly where 539 BCE becomes so interesting. That's the time when Cyrus conquers Babylon, right? Yes, and it seems to be a perfectly good secular date for that event. If we accept it, we also get a pretty good idea when Jerusalem was destroyed. In fact, by accepting 539 BCE we ARE accepting the same secular chronology that pinpoints the destruction of Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar's 19th year.

(2 Kings 25:8, 9) 8 In the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, that is, 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; he also burned down the house of every prominent man.

This is the whole problem! We like 539 BCE, as the final year of a Babylonian king, but don't want Nebuchadnezzar's 19th year to be 587 BCE. We want his 19th year to be 607 BCE, instead. But we have a lot of trouble taking one without the other. In fact, if we say that Nebuchadnezzar's 19th year must be 607 BCE, then that's the same thing as saying that Cyrus conquered Babylon in 559 BCE instead of 539 BCE.

It makes no sense to say one is Biblical and one is secular. They are both secular and if you say you trust that 539 BCE is correct, then that's also the same as saying you accept that 587/6 BCE, NOT 607 BCE, is the destruction of Jerusalem. Therefore the WTS has always been looking for a way to try to accept one part of the secular chronology without accepting another part of the same chronology.  Those attempts have never worked out, but this is what we'll need to discuss next.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Member
16 hours ago, JW Insider said:

Therefore the WTS has always been looking for a way to try to accept one part of the secular chronology without accepting another part of the same chronology.  Those attempts have never worked out, but this is what we'll need to discuss next.

Not only this, but the fact that the WTS only accepts secular chronology when it suits them and their teaching. In one publication they support the use of the Canon of Ptolemy ( Insight vol 1, page 454, under Persian Chronology) in finding the date 539 B.C. as well as being accurate (Insight vol 1, page 455). Now in the Oct 1 Watchtower under the article When was ancient Jerusalem destroyed? - Part one they discredit the Canon with this statement:

"In general, Ptolemy’s canon is regarded as accurate. But in view of its omissions, should it really be used to provide a definite historical chronology?" (http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2011736).

We just saw in the Insight book that it IS used as an accurate source for chronology, according to the WTS. So which is it? You can't have it both ways. This is completely dishonest. 

I look forward to other information that hopefully will come out of this discussion and my learning more about what others feel. This topic is the foundation of the organization itself as it directly relates to 1914/1919, so it should be interesting. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Member
42 minutes ago, Shiwiii said:

We just saw in the Insight book.....

What I saw in the Insight book vol 1 p454 is:

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.

Is that the reference you meant @Shiwii?

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Member

Yes, that is part of it, although this part directly accepts the evidence Ptolemy presents as inline with "other sources as well" which is being used here as accurate support.  If you go to pages 455-458 and read through from "Ptolemy's Canon" through to "from human creation to the present" to you will see collectively that the WTS supports Ptolemy's Canon in its use of supporting the dates and accuracy. Here is just a sample:

"But even though Ptolemy may have calculated accurately or recorded the dates of certain eclipses in the past (a modern astronomer found three fifths of Ptolemy's dates correct),"

"These astronomical diaries contain references to the reigns of certain kings and appear to coincide with the figures given in Ptolemy's canon."

"Finally, as in the case of Ptolemy, even though the astronomical information ( as now interpreted and understood ) on the texts discovered is basically accurate,"

"Another date that can be used as a pivotal point is the year 539 B.c.E. , supported by various historical sources as the year for the overthrow of Babylon by Cyrus the Persian. ( Secular sources for Cyrus' reign include Diodorus, Africanus, Eusebius, and Ptolemy, as well as the Babylonian tablets.)"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Member

It doesn't matter if it is stand alone or not, what matters is that it is being used to support chronology in one publication, and in the another it is being discredited for the exact same usage.  

 

I'd like to get back to the topic at hand. If in fact the WTS uses Ptolemy's Canon in support of 539 B.C., as we have seen in the Insight book, then what factors or references are used to end up with 607 vs 587? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Member
11 hours ago, Shiwiii said:

We just saw in the Insight book that it IS used as an accurate source for chronology, according to the WTS. So which is it? You can't have it both ways. This is completely dishonest.

For many years now, the Watchtower has actually been consistent in acknowledging that Ptolemy's canon "may" be accurate, but that we might not be able to rely on it for everything. Almost every reference to Ptolemy, especially in the Insight book, has a somewhat negative side added to it:

*** it-1 p. 456 Chronology ***
Finally, as in the case of Ptolemy, even though the astronomical information (as now interpreted and understood) on the texts discovered is basically accurate, this does not prove . . .

*** it-1 p. 456 Chronology ***
These astronomical diaries contain references to the reigns of certain kings and appear to coincide with the figures given in Ptolemy’s canon. While to some this might seem like incontrovertible evidence, there are factors greatly reducing its strength.

Following up on the point I was making about 539 BCE, 607 BCE, 29 CE, etc, all being secular dates, this is admitted under that same topic heading in the Insight Book:

*** it-1 p. 458 Chronology ***
To make the count in terms of modern calendar dating, we must use some fixed point or pivotal date with which to commence, that is, a date in history that has sound basis for acceptance and that corresponds with a particular event recorded in the Bible. From this date as a pivotal point we can figure backward or forward and assign calendar dates to many of the events referred to in the Bible.
One such date, harmonizing with both Biblical and secular history, is the year 29 C.E., the early months of which were in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar, who was named emperor by the Roman Senate on September 15, 14 C.E. (Gregorian calendar). It was in the year 29 C.E. that John the Baptizer began his preaching and also when, perhaps about six months later, he baptized Jesus.—Lu 3:1-3, 21, 23; 1:36.
Another date that can be used as a pivotal point is the year 539 B.C.E., supported by various historical sources as the year for the overthrow of Babylon by Cyrus the Persian. (Secular sources for Cyrus’ reign include Diodorus, Africanus, Eusebius, and Ptolemy, as well as the Babylonian tablets.)

Of course, someone could read that, especially the last paragraph, and think that 539 BCE for the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus is somehow more supported by various historical sources than is 587 BCE for the destruction of Jerusalem.  In fact, 587 BCE for Nebuchadnezzar's 19th year is part of the same Neo-Babylonian chronological system, supported by the same sets (and types) of sources. If the first year of the conquest of Cyrus is a pivotal date, then so is Nebuchadnezzar's 19th year -- for the same reasons.

The quote that Eoin included was:

*** it-1 p. 454 Chronology ***
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.

This is very accurate, of course, but It would have been exactly as accurate for the Insight book to have said this:

The date of 587 B.C.E. for the fall of Jerusalem can be arrived at not only by Ptolemy’s canon but by other sources as well.

As it turns out, in fact, there are additional sources that add to the evidence for Nebuchadnezzar's 19th year (587 BCE), so that the evidence for 587 BCE could even be said to be a little better than the evidence for 539 BCE, but it doesn't matter because both are equally accurate. Of course, the only reason we focus only on 539 BCE is because we reject 587 BCE.

This argument is equally true in the opposite direction. Both 587 BCE and 539 BCE are also supported by "astronomical diaries" which evidently contain sometimes daily observations of priests or astronomers of the royal court. A specific diary that supports 587 BCE has sometimes been criticized by the WTS for 4 major weaknesses. Without even mentioning the details of those weaknesses, it turns out that all 4 of them are the exact same weaknesses for the diary that supports 539 BCE.

For anyone who might not be aware, these astronomical diaries contain information that can look something like the following:

10th Year of King "So-and-So"

  • On the night of April 13, Saturn passed within 3 fingers of the moon as it disappeared at the horizon
  • On the night of April 15, the upper star of the head of the Scorpion passed within 2 fingers of the moon.
  • On the morning of April 16, this is the last day this month when the moon set before sunrise. The Euphrates River was at a height of 4 today.
  • On the evening of April 19, there was a lunar eclipse. In 10 degrees of the night it made an eclipse of 4 fingers, 2 fingers remained to totality, it was obscured on the northeast side when it began.

It usually turns out that various abbreviations had developed for many of the astronomical phrases. But the main point is that sometimes there was not enough information for a specific day, and sometimes there was plenty of information, but when all of the recorded data was put together, it could often be matched to a certain year where such phenomena would not be repeated again for a thousand years.

What's more important is that all these diaries that contain enough information not only fit the time period that is already known about the various kings identified, they also match the exact year already identified from other sources. Also, they fit each other. There are sometimes two known diaries for the same king, covering separated years. It's as if the example above called: "10th Year of King So-and-So" was identified as 405 BCE and then another diary was found for the same king and it was called "15th Year of King So-and-So" and its astronomical phenomena exactly matched 400 BCE.

Unfortunately there aren't so many of these detailed diaries from the time of Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus, but the ones we do have can still be matched to their year both from the astronomical data and what we already know about their chronology from other sources.

Also, even if we could completely discredit Ptolemy's canon, which we can't, we don't need it anyway for either the 539 BCE date or the 587 BCE date. We get good evidence for both those dates, even without Ptolemy. There is no such evidence from any source that supports 607 BCE for the destruction of Jerusalem.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Member

"Almost every reference to Ptolemy, especially in the Insight book, has a somewhat negative side added to it:"

Yes, however it is still claimed to be accurate in one instance and discredited in another.  That was my only point. Using it when it fits the theology and distancing themselves when they like. 

 

Back to the point. I agree with your findings here:

"It's as if the example above called: "10th Year of King So-and-So" was identified as 405 BCE and then another diary was found for the same king and it was called "15th Year of King So-and-So" and its astronomical phenomena exactly matched 400 BCE."

We can only go by what we have, and not speculation on what might have been. So, like you said, there is NO  support for 607. What resources can even come close to supporting 607? I mean we have canons, cuneiforms and astronomers from that time, and even IF those don't exactly go in hamony with each other,  what evidence is there? If we discredit all of them, then isn't any date acceptable?  So do we throw out records if they do not agree with us? Then it becomes the opinion of men and who you choose to follow. I'd hardly throw out ALL historical evidence for the sake of man's wants or ideas.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Member
19 minutes ago, Eoin Joyce said:

So...Is it Biblically Supported?

I think it's pretty clear that there are NO dates that are Biblically supported if they are connected to the letters BC, BCE, CE, or AD. Those very terms always refer a secular support. (In some cases dates are made up that don't have any secular support or any Biblical support, either.)

Evidently, it's also pretty safe to say that 607 BCE is NOT Biblically supported, if we assume that 539 BCE is correct. (Based on what the Bible says about the "70 years" in at least 4 different places. There is the additional Biblical issue of a 70-year period that starts at the commemoration of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, and coming to a close at a period nearly 20 years past the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus. 

(Zechariah 1:12) . . .“O Jehovah of armies, how long will you withhold your mercy from Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, with whom you have been indignant these 70 years?

(Zechariah 7:5) . . .‘When you fasted and wailed in the fifth month and in the seventh month for 70 years. . .

(Zechariah 8:19) . . .‘The fast of the fourth month, the fast of the fifth month, the fast of the seventh month, and the fast of the tenth month will be occasions for exultation and joy for the house of Judah. . .

*** w96 11/15 p. 5 Does God Require Fasting? ***
For example, at one time the people of Judah had four annual fasts to commemorate the calamitous events associated with Jerusalem’s siege and desolation in the seventh century B.C.E. (2 Kings 25:1-4, 8, 9, 22-26; Zechariah 8:19)

According to our current understanding of the chronology that includes the supposed destruction of Jerusalem in 607 BCE, then this produces a contradiction, because we date the book of Zechariah as follows:

*** nwt p. 1662 Table of the Books of the Bible ***
Zechariah
Jerusalem rebuilt
518
520-518 [BCE]

If Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 BCE, then 518 BCE is 69 years later, and therefore matches Zechariah's theme of 70 years of withheld mercy and indignities, and wailing and fasting over Jerusalem, which is now being rebuilt.

If Jerusalem had been destroyed in 607 BCE, then by Zechariah's time, in 518 BCE, it would have been 89 years of wailing and fasting.

Neither date is "Biblical" and neither date should really matter that much, but it is curious that 607 BCE is totally impossible from the perspective of secular evidence, and it becomes very difficult from the perspective of Biblical evidence. Yet 587 BCE is totally supported from the perspective of secular evidence and provides an excellent match to the Biblical evidence. There should really be no reason why we are not rejoicing that secular, historical, archaeological evidence for 587 BCE once again shows the Bible to be accurate and sound from a historical perspective.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share





×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of Service Confirmation Terms of Use Privacy Policy Guidelines We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.