Backup: Confirming The Exile Prophecies of 606 B.C. and 587 B.C.
This page is a backup of the original at xwalk.ca
Can we confirm, with some degree
of certainty, the dates and chronology for two separate prophecies that
began 25 centuries ago, which have been fulfilled in modern times?
The two start dates in Question are:
I have seen numerous years mentioned for the loss of Israel’s independence ranging from 607-604, I have also seen different years 588-586 as the year of destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon.
Since the topic can be quite confusing, I have added a color coded Chronology Table which can be referred to throughout the paper. All passages in the paper that relate to one of the three dating methods will display the same color as that in the table.
A solution to this controversy has always been to correlate the reign of Jewish Kings of the time with that of Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. Many archaeological discoveries of the last 90 years have uncovered many Babylonian texts that give precise times of astronomical data along with the year of the King and the name of the King in the same document. Other chronicles from Babylon that have been uncovered also give the year and name of the king and events that happened at that time. The astronomical information gives us data which we can translate into modern dating of the astronomical cycles to give us an accurate time scale in which the events occurred. This data when correlated answers a few contradictions in the Bible along with a few other mysteries.
A problem with getting the correct dates has been the technicality of how the Biblical writer dates the ascension of Babylonian Kings:
In Babylonian chronicles, the year a King ascends the throne is called accession year, the following year which would begin on the New Year (1st Nisan) would be the first year and so on.
Jewish chronicles when explaining the year for the Babylonian king’s reign, follow a non-accession year system, and begins counting the starting year as the first regnal year, the next which would begin on the New Year (1st Nisan) as the second and so on.
Jewish chronicles in this time period when explaining a Jewish king’s reign, use the accession year as the first year the following year which would begin on the New Year (1st Nisan) would be the first year and so on.
According to a Babylonian tablet recently translated in 1956 the events dated and calculated to be November/December 598 BC -March 16, 597 BC took place in the seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. A Jewish author would date this same period as Nebuchadnezzar’s eighth year in Israel’s chronicles because they count the Accession year as the first year. However, adding to the confusion, Jewish authors who were captive in Babylon tend to date this same time period as the Babylonian Chronicles do: the seventh year.
Astronomical data in Babylonian texts:
A Babylon text called the “saros” texts, or moon eclipse texts, contains details of lunar eclipses. They can be assigned precisely to specific absolute dates, because the precise observations are unique and cannot be repeated for thousands of years. One of these saros texts documents precise data that can be confirmed by computers that these lunar eclipses took place in 573/572 BC. This saro text tells us that this took place in Nebuchadnezzar’s 32nd year. The same text also documents that the lunar eclipses of 591/590 took place in Nebuchadnezzar’s 14th year.
A comprehensive Babylonian astronomical diary, VAT 4956, dated in Nebuchadnezzar’s 37th year, gives definite observations that cannot fit any other year but 568 BC.
This astronomical data allows us to pinpoint the years in which events happened.
This clay tablet is a Babylonian chronicle recording events of Nebuchadnezzar. It was first translated in 1956 and is now in the British Museum. Part of the cuneiform text on this clay tablet translated:
...At that time Nebuchadnezzar conquered the whole of the Hatti-land. For 21 years Nabopolassar (Nebuchadnezzar’s Father) had ruled Babylonia. On the eighth of Ab he died; in the month of Elul Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon and on the first day of Elul (= 6 September 605 BC) he sat on the royal throne in Babylon.
Another section of the chronicle gives us the following details:
“In the seventh year (of Nebuchadnezzar) in the month Chislev (November/December) the king of Babylon assembled his army, and after he had invaded the land of Hatti (Syria/Palestine) he laid siege to the city of Judah. On the second day of the month of Adara (February/March) he conquered the city and took the king (Jehoiachin) prisoner. He installed in his place a king (Zedekiah) of his own choice, and after he had received rich tribute, he sent (them) forth to Babylon.”
Taken with the astronomical data from the other Babylonian texts we can confirm that the seventh year (using the Babylonian Accession year method) of Nebuchadnezzar would give us the times as (November/December 598) and (February/March 597)
Do the Babylonian records confirm or contradict the Bible:
2 Kings 24:12; ...and the king of Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar) In his eighth year of his reign, took him (Jehoiachin) prisoner.
We see a discrepancy in years until we use the Babylonian Accession Year:
587 BC The Desolation’s of Jerusalem (Loss of Jewish Rule in Jerusalem)
When both Jewish and Babylonian Chronologies are looked at we find an apparent contradiction between 2 Kings 25:8 and Jeremiah 52:12 on one side and Jeremiah 52:29 on the other hand. At the end of chapter Jeremiah 51 in the original Hebrew Masoretic Text we find that this is the end of Jeremiah’s writings. The book of Jeremiah was obviously completed (last part of chapter 52) by a Jew living in Babylon, who is likely to have used the accession year system while Jeremiah who wrote Kings would use the Jewish system to date Nebuchadnezzar’s regnal year.
2 Kings 25:8; And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month (which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon)...
Jeremiah 52:12; Now in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month (which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon)...
Jeremiah 52:29; In the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar he carried away captive from Jerusalem ...
2 Kings 25:8= Jewish non-accession year system
= 19th year
Can we confirm that Jeremiah 52:29 was written by someone living in or from Babylon using the Babylonian Accession Year system:
Only one verse before we see the same method used for dating the second
siege by Nebuchadnezzar;
We have already established from the Babylon Chronicle that this was
in fact the 8th year
The Babylonian chronicles from the time of 593-556 have not been recovered or have been lost. However, if we take the information from the earlier chronicle events which coincides with the Biblical account we can determine the time of the Desolation of Jerusalem from the other Biblical accounts. Two passages in the Bible (2 Chronicles 36:11 and 2 Kings 24:18) tells us that Zedekiah reigned 11 years. His 11 regnal year can be dated between Mar/April 587 to February/March 586. Two other passages (Jeremiah 52:12 and 2 Kings 25:8) tell us the days (7th-10th) and month (Av) in which this took place and also that it was in Nebuchadnezzar’s 19 year according to the Jewish non-Accession method of dating Babylonian kings. This would also coincide with Mar/April 587 to February/March 586. A fifth passage completed by a Jew living in Babylon (Jeremiah 52:29) using the Babylonian Accession system tells us that this is Nebuchadnezzar’s 18th year which also places the event between Mar/April 587 to February/March 586. From all this information the time for the Desolation of Jerusalem can be dated as the month of Av (July/August) 587. No other year or month fits the chronology. This confirms the calculation for the beginning of the prophecy for the Desolation of Jerusalem, which was fulfilled on June 7,1967
Jeremiah 46:2; Against Egypt. Concerning the army of Pharaoh Necho, king of Egypt, which was by the river Euphrates in Carchemish, and which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon defeated in the fourth year of Jehoiakim...
Daniel 1-2; In the third year of the reign of Johoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.
And the Lord gave Johoiakim king of Judah into his (Nebuchadnezzar’s) hand...
Many scholars have long thought that these two incidents can be considered together in time, but the chronologies don’t fit this way. These (Daniel 1-2 and Jeremiah 46:2) are two separate incidents. The Babylonian Chronicles make no mention of any attack on Jerusalem in Johoiakim’s third year. The term “and besieged it” might be translated as “and showed hostility to it” (the Hebrew word can be translated either way). Johoiakim’s third year would have been between 1 Nisan (Mar/April 606) - Last day of Adar (February/March 605). We know that Daniel was taken captive before the Battle of Carchemish because he tells us that he was taken in Johoiakim’s third year, the battle according to the Babylonian chronicles coincided with Johoiakim’s fourth year.
Does Daniel when explaining the 2nd regnal year of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2:1 use the Jewish non-accession year system or the Babylonian Accession system?
Daniel provides us with a calculation so we can solve the chronology
controversy in his text:
If Daniel in 2:1 used the Jewish non-accession system it would not allow for the 3 full years of his training that took place between his capture in the third year of Johoiakim and the second year of Nebuchadnezzar. The only way that Daniel works is if he used the Babylonian Accession year system in Daniel 2:1. This would make sense as Daniel became prime minister in Babylon and would have dated all events in Babylon with the Babylonian Accession System. Daniel could not have made a mistake between the third year of Johoiakim and the fourth year of Johoiakim in Daniel 1:1. Using either method of dating the second year of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2:1 removes Johoiakim’s fourth year as an alternative for Daniel 1:1.
This information in Daniel tells us that the loss of independence of Israel happened sometime before the battle of Charchemish which has long been thought of as the date which Daniel makes reference to in Daniel 1:1. We actually find that for the chronologies to fit, Daniel 1:1 happened between Mar/April 606 and February/March 605. This is within the range that has been calculated for this prophecy to begin (Summer of 606). However, with the data obtained to date we cannot give a dogmatic answer on the month or even the season in Daniel 1:1.
The historic data that archeologist have uncovered in modern times about Babylon confirms the separate accounts in the Bible of this time period. It also comes about at a time when two prophecies of that time (which we can now date) have been fulfilled in our generation.
Luke 21:7 So they (the disciples) asked him (Jesus), saying, “Teacher,
but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things
are about to take place?”
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