I just finished watching the latest video on JW broadcast….”the book of Jeremiah.” Of course 607 is the central date. So I can visualize what’s going on where, are the dates of the ruling Judean kings all off too? And the dates of when the prophets wrote their books? I don’t know where to start or what to believe when it comes to the WT dating methods.
All the current secular dates prior to 358 BCE are off because of religious politics. The Persians revised their timeline to hide the fact that Xerxes had claimed to be his own son, Artaxerxes, taking advantage of his newly adopted name once he became king. Thus Xerxes and Artaxerexes I were the same king. But in history, he has a separate rule of 21 years. Those 21 years, though, are part of the 41-year rule of Artaxerxes. Later on, the Persians revised their timeline and ended up hiding the additions by adjusting the Persian and Neo-Babylonian timelines. They ended up adding 82 fake years to the Persian kings and removing 26 years from the Neo-Babylonian kings. Basically, therefore, the dates are distorted in varying amounts from 358 BCE back to the time of the Exodus. Most pertinently, the dating is off 82 years at the 1st of Cyrus and some 57 years during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II.
It is no longer difficult to go in and correct the timeline using astronomical references, but the simplest way to arrive at the key dates is to follow Martin Anstey and Josephus. Anstey wrote the “Romance of Bible Chronology” in 1913 and concluded that the “70 weeks” prophecy pointed to Cyrus fulfilling that prophecy in 455 BCE rather than 537 BCE, pointing to 82 fake years being added to the Persian Period. Those extra 82 years have now been identified as 30 years each added to the reigns of Darius I and Artaxerxes II, 21 extra years added for the reign of Xerxes who was Artaxerxes I, and 1 year added to the reign of Cambyses who was co-ruler with his father, Cyrus, for one year. That totals 82 fake years in the Persian Period that were never removed for political reasons.
Jehovah’s Witnesses, trusting this phony secular timeline have adopted the year 539 BCE for the fall of Babylon and 537 BCE for the return from exile. They then add 70 years to 537 BCE to get 607 BCE for the fall of Jerusalem in year 18 of Nebuchadnezzar II. They quote Josephus as also confirming the desolation of Judea for 70 years. However, Josephus links the 70 years of desolation of the land with the time when the people were all removed off the land which did not occur until year 23, the year of the last deportation.
So to get the true Biblical dates for key events for this period it is a simple matter of dating the 1st of Cyrus to 455 BCE rather than 537 BCE. Then going back in time 70 years to 525 BCE, the date of the last deportation in year 23 of Nebuchadnezzar II. From that point we then date year 19 (not year 18) to 529 BCE, the true year of Jerusalem’s destruction.
Basically, when it comes to chronology, we have two choices here: 1) We can do like Martin Anstey and use the Bible itself to contradict the pagan timeline and establish strictly Biblical dates for these ancient events based on the baptism of Christ in 29 CE; or 2) We can study the revisions of the secular timeline and correct the secular timeline based on astronomy, Greek history, Persian history and archaeology. Either way, we end up with the 1st of Cyrus being re-dated to 455 BCE.
JW’s date for the fall of Jerusalem is incorrect for three reasons:
1) Jerusalem falls in year 19, not year 18.
2) The 70-year desolation begins the year of the last deportation, year 23 of Nebuchandezzar II (Jer. 52:30) and not the year Jerusalem falls.
3) The 1st of Cyrus should be dated to 455 BCE and not 537 BCE per the Bible as well as per corrected secular history. Historians, Jews and Catholics have maintained the revised timeline for their own reasons.