Jehovah's Witness, Religious Movements

The Destruction of Jerusalem: 586 BCE or 607 BCE?

Jehovah’s Witnesses teach the destruction of Jerusalem took place in 607 B.C.E. when they believe the beginning of the end days began. What if it happened in 586 B.C.E.? What would that do to the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ beliefs on the end days? The following information will be dealing with the time period when the destruction of Jerusalem took place historically with plenty of information with facts and evidence proving the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been deceived to believe inaccurate information which shows the Watchtower organization to be false.

According to the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society the year 1914 C.E. (A.D.) marks the beginning of the end of this world. The Watchtower bases their beliefs on the date of 607 B.C.E. in reference to when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem. Everything hinges on this date being accurate for what they preach concerning the ‘end days’. If 607 B.C.E. is not accurate then the date they believe marked ‘the beginning of the end’ is wrong and thus their foundation is false. What evidence do they have for 607 B.C.E. being historically correct? This article will deal with the truth concerning that period of time and will give scholarly sources which can be easily found.

Jehovah’s Witnesses preach the message of judgment to come and of a new world. They have been preaching the ‘end to come’ since the times of the founder, Charles Russell. Charles Russell was the founder of this Organization which started in the late 1800’s and preached ‘the end is near.’ Charles Russell taught that “The Millennium of peace and blessing would be introduced by forty years of trouble, beginning slightly in 1874 and increasing until social chaos should prevail in 1914.” (The Watchtower Reprints, October 1890, p. 1243) Charles Russell taught that 1874 marked the beginning of ‘the times of trouble’ in reference to the end to come which would take place forty years after 1874. He taught that 1914 would mark the end of this chaos and Armageddon would take place then.

Quotes from Charles Russell:

“The date of the close of that ‘battle’ is definitely marked in Scripture as October, 1914. It is already in progress, its beginning dating from October, 1874.” (The Watchtower Reprints, January 15, 1892, p.1355)

“We see no reason for changing the figures – nor could we change them if we would. They are, we believe, God’s dates, not ours. But bear in mind that the end of 1914 is not the date for the beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble.” (The Watchtower Reprints, July 15, 1894, p. 1672)

“The ‘battle of the great day of God Almighty’ (Rev. 16:14), which will end in A.D. 1914 with the complete overthrow of earth’s present rulership, is already commenced.” (The Time Is at Hand (SS-2), 1907 ed., p. 101)

Charles Russell, the founder of this organization, taught that 1874 marked the beginning of the end and that 1914 marked the end known as ‘Armageddon’.  He claimed that they were dates given to him by God. Today it is obvious that 1914 did not see the end of the world known as ‘Armageddon’. Charles Russell was a man who prophesied things to come which ended up not happening and therefore he is defined as a false prophet.. Russell also taught that Christ’s second coming took place invisibly in 1874, “Our Lord, the appointed King, is now present, since October 1874 A.D., according to the testimony of the prophets, to those who have ears to hear.” (The Battle of Armageddon, 1897) Charles Russell taught that Jesus’ second coming took place in 1874, the ‘times of the end’ started in 1874, and that 1914 was the end not the beginning. This is significantly different from what they teach now.

The founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Organization died in 1916 and a new leader was to take his place. Judge Rutherford was the one to succeed Russell and continued the false dates and predictions. In the book called “Creation” Rutherford teaches that 1799 marks the times of the end and that 1874 is when the second coming of Jesus was due. Here are his words:

“The campaign is briefly, yet graphically, described in the prophecy, verses 40-44; and its completed in 1799 marks, according to the prophet’s own words, the beginning of ‘the time of the end’…When that time should arrive, what was to be expected? Jehovah answers: “Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” (Daniel 12:4) From shortly after 1799, the date of the beginning of ‘the time of the end’…There are two important dates here that we must not confuse, but clearly differentiate; namely, the beginning of ‘the time of the end’ and the beginning of the presence of the Lord. ”The time of the end’ embraces a period from 1799 A.D. to the time of the complete overthrow of Satan’s empire and the establishment of the kingdom of Messiah. The time of the Lord’s second presence dates from 1874 and is during the later part of the period known as ‘the time of the end.'” (Creation, pp. 314&316&319, 1927)

Rutherford taught Daniel 2:40-44 started in 1799 which marked the beginning of ‘the time of the end’ to come.  He also that the beginning of the Lord’s second presence started in 1874. Rutherford continued to teach that the date of Jesus second coming was in 1874 but made a change in when ‘the time of the end’ began.  Judge Rutherford also went on to predict a date for which God would destroy Christendom in 1918 and those who did not die would become followers of Russell’s teachings.

“The people who are the strength of Christendom shall be cut off in the brief but terribly eventful period beginning in 1918 A.D. A third part are ‘burned with fire in the midst of the city.’ Fire symbolizes destruction. One large part of the adherents of ecclesiasticism will die from pestilence and famine. (Deut. 32:24.)After 1918 the people supporting churchianity will cease to be its supporters, be destroyed as adherents, by the spiritual pestilence of errors abroad, and by the famine of the Word of God among them. The Sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17), which is the Word of God, will be wielded in the hands of ‘Present Truth’ believers in such a manner as to cause conscientious supporters of ecclesiasticism to cease to be supporters.” (The Finished Mystery (SS-7), 1917 ed., p. 398-399)

“Also, in the year 1918, when God destroys the churches wholesale and the church members by millions, it shall be that any that escape shall come to the works of Pastor Russell to learn the meaning of the downfall of ‘Christianity.'” (The Finished Mystery (SS-7), 1917 ed., p. 485)

Rutherford predicted that God would destroy those of Christendom and that all who remained would become followers of his teachings.  This did not happen and therefore it makes him a false prophet. Another quote from Russell: “That the harvest began in 1878, there is ample and convincing proof. The end of the harvest is due in the spring of 1918.” (The Watchtower Reprints, May 1, 1918, p. 6243) Just as Russell taught that after1874 there would be forty years of the harvest or “times of trouble”, Rutherford taught the same from 1878 to 1918 which would complete the period of harvest. Again the end result the same with false dates predicted and many people deceived.

From Then Until Now!

Now it has been approximately eighty five years later after Russell’s death so what do Jehovah’s Witnesses preach concerning the end of the world? Here are some quotes that are currently being taught by Jehovah’s Witnesses:

“The present wicked system of things, which extends worldwide, entered its last days in 1914, and some of the generation alive then will also be on hand to witness its complete end in the “great tribulation.”…Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses say that it was in 1914 that “the last days” began? “The year 1914 is marked by Bible prophecy. For details regarding the chronology, see pages 95-97, under the main heading “Dates.” The correctness of the date is shown by the fact that world conditions foretold to mark this time period have come to pass since 1914 exactly as foretold.” (Reasoning From The Scriptures, Last Days, pp. 234&239)

The year 1914 is now the year in which the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach started the beginning of the end. They also teach that those who were alive from the 1914 generation will be alive to witness the complete end and tribulation. Here is what the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society say is the evidence for 1914 being the date marking the beginning of ‘the last days.’ “Two lines of evidence point to that year: (1) Bible chronology and (2) the events since 1914 in fulfillment of prophecy. Here we will consider the chronology…” (Reasoning, p. 95) On page 96 the Watchtower presents the evidence for the 1914 date going back to 607 B.C.E. which is the main date for what they teach concerning the last days. The Watchtower says “The book of Daniel states that it was in “the second year” of Nebuchadnezzar’s kingship (probably counting from the destruction of Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E.” (Insight to the Scriptures, p.481) Does the Watchtower have evidence to back up the foundational date of 607 B.C.E.?

If the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society dates are wrong on the 607 B.C.E. date then their teaching of ‘the last days’ from 1914 C.E. is false, and if that is false then the message of the Watchtower is false. This is very important to understand! What evidence is there to look into? I have went to great lengths to find solid information regarding this issue and encourage you to examine it for yourselves. The following information is what I have found online, by emails, by Encyclopedia’s, Dictionaries, Archaeologists, Historians, Rabbi’s, and Scholars.

The following are some e-mails that I sent out to Jewish Rabbis and the Smithsonian Institute:

To:  Peter J. Haas, Abba Hillel Silver Chair of Jewish Studies, Director, Samuel Rosenthal Center for Judaic Studies/Rabbi Larry Raphael, Director, Dept. of Adult Jewish Growth, Union of American Hebrew Congregations:

Question: “I have been browsing around for some information for an historical account. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and scattered the Jewish nation a long time ago. I have found most information stating that took place in 586 B.C.E., but some say 607 B.C.E.. Do you have any information that can help, websites, books, etc.”

Reply:  “If you want just basic information on Nebuchadnezzar, you can turn to any good Bible encyclopedia or dictionary. The Anchor Bible Dictionary is a very good source and I would recommend you start there…As far as I know, the scholarly consensus is that the Exile began in 586B.C.E.”

To:  Ask the Rabbi, Jews for Judaism, Toronto, Canada:

Question:  “I have been browsing around for some information for an historical account. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and scattered the Jewish nation a long time ago. I have found most information stating that took place in 586 B.C.E., but some say 607 B.C.E.. Do you have any information that can help, websites, books, etc.”

Reply:  “Most historians date the destruction of the first Temple to approximately 586 B.C.E. Traditional Jewish sources date it to about 423 B.C.E. I’ve not heard of other dates proposed.”

To:  The Smithsonian Institution:

Question:  “I have been browsing around for some information for an historical account. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and scattered the Jewish nation a long time ago. I have found most information stating that took place in 586 B.C.E., but some say 607 B.C.E. Do you have any information that can help, websites, books, etc.”

Reply:  “The accepted date for Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of Jerusalem is generally 587/586 BC. Our Curator of Middle East Archaeology recommends reading David Noel Freedman’s chapter entitled “The Chronology of Israel and the Ancient Near East,” in E. Ernest Wright’s (edited) The Bible and the Ancient Near East ,A Doubleday Anchor Book, 1965. This book provides both biblical chronology and the chronologies of other contemporary countries, some of the arguments, and a chart of the Near East.”

The following is information from some online archaeologists.

From: The Temple Mount in Jerusalem

Website: http://www.templemount.org/destruct1.html

By: Lambert Dolphin

Quote from the website: “The Lamentations of Jeremiah are read every year, to this day, by devout Jews gathering at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount on the 9th day of the month of Av. It was on the 9th of Av, 586 B.C.E. that the magnificent temple of Solomon was destroyed. It was on the 9th of Av in the year 70 C.E. that the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans.”

His reply to me:  “Dear Mr. Powers, All main stream Christian and Jewish Bible scholars take the 9th of Av, 586 BC as the date for the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar.”

His suggestions for further research:  

The following is information from Online Encyclopedias and Reference Material:

“There was a fortified city on the site of old Jerusalem at the beginning of history. It was destroyed and rebuilt under the rule of Egypt, Babylonia, Greece, and Rome. David, king of the Israelites, captured Jerusalem from the Jebusites in about 1000 BC. King Solomon, his son, extended the city and built the great temple that stood until 586 BC when it was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon. In the 50 years of their Babylonian captivity the Israelites remembered Jerusalem and sang the songs of Zion: “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.” (Compton’s Encyclopedia Online)

“Babylonian Captivity, term applied to the period between the deportation of the Jews from Palestine to Babylon by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II and their release in 538BC by the Persian king Cyrus. Two main deportations are recorded: one in 597BC, when Israelite nobles, warriors, and artisans were transported; and one in 586BC when Nebuchadnezzar’s army destroyed Jerusalem, and the major part of the remaining Israelite community was taken to Babylon. At the time of the second deportation an important group of Israelites fled to Egypt; thereafter, only the poorest peasants were allowed to remain in Palestine, and the political dissolution of independent Israel was an accomplished fact. The majority of the Jews living in Babylon did not return to Palestine at the end of the exile period, but became a part of the Diaspora, or body of Jews dispersed among nations outside Palestine.” (Encarta Encyclopedia MSN Online)

“The fall of Jerusalem in 586BC was pretty much the end of everything. For most nations, this would be the end of the story. But, obviously God had a plan. Judah was reorganized into a province of the Babylonian empire. After the puppet Babylonian king was killed by the neighboring king of Ammon (your remember the Ammonites), many remaining Jews fled to Egypt taking Jeremiah with them against his will. They joined some of the other refugees of Judea there. Meanwhile, the Babylonian deportees were conscripted into various public works, like draining the land, building dams, and other slave labor. They kept their Hebrew names and preserved their religious and national identification. The dispersion of the Jews, know as the Diaspora began during this time. The Jews spread along the Mediterranean coastline and in nearby countries. The Edomites meanwhile taking advantage of the situation moved in to S. Judah. This was about the time of Obadiah. The Babylonians had become complacent, and had neglected the security of their empire. Cyrus, head of the Persian confederation subsequently conquered Babylon in 539 BC, and in 538 issued an edict allowing the return of the Jews, who were clearly unhappy, to Judah. He also authorized the rebuilding of the temple (see Ezra). Cambyses II succeeded Cyrus, and spread Persian rule to Egypt in 525BC. When he died, an imposter who claimed to be Cyrus’s son took the throne. His name was Darius I and after much struggle took control of the army. He continued Cyrus’s edicts to Judah, and the temple was dedicated in 515 BC with much rejoicing by the Jerusalem Jews.” (Reference Desk Online:  refdesk.com)

“A weakened and divided country could not sustain its independence indefinitely; consequently, Israel fell to Assyria in about 722BC and the Babylonians conquered Judah in 586BC. This defeat resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of most of the Jews to Babylon — the so-called Babylonian captivity.” (Arab website:  arab.net)

“Babylonian captivity in the history of Israel, the period from the fall of Jerusalem (586 B.C.) to the reconstruction in Palestine of a new Jewish state (after 538 B.C.). After the capture of the city by the Babylonians some thousands, probably selected for their prosperity and importance, were deported to Mesopotamia. The number of those who remained is disputed by scholars. Such deportations were commonplace in Assyrian and Babylonian policy. The exiles maintained close links with their kinsmen at home, as is clear from Ezekiel, the prophet of the early years of the Exile. In 538 B.C., Cyrus the Great, the new master of the empire, initiated a new attitude toward the nations and decreed the restoration of worship at Jerusalem.” (The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition/online)

The following are from online Bible dictionaries:

“A third time he came against it, and deposed Jehoiachin, whom he carried into Babylon, with a large portion of the population of the city, and the sacred vessels of the temple, placing Zedekiah on the throne of Judah in his stead. He also, heedless of the warnings of the prophet, entered into an alliance with Egypt, and rebelled against Babylon. This brought about the final siege of the city, which was at length taken and utterly destroyed (B.C. 586). Zedekiah was taken captive, and had his eyes put out by order of the king of Babylon, who made him a prisoner for the remainder of his life.” (Easton’s Bible Dictionary)

“Ere this happened, Jerusalem had been totally destroyed. Nebuchadnezzar had commenced the final siege of Jerusalem in the ninth year of Zedekiah –his own seventeenth year (B.C. 588)–and took it two years later, B.C. 586.” (Smith’s Bible Dictionary)

Historically, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society has nothing Scholarly to back up their alleged date of 607 B.C.E. when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem. Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, Historians, Scholars, Jewish Rabbis, and Archaeologists agree on the date being 586 B.C.E. and not 607 B.C.E.! Only the Watchtower claims that 607 B.C.E. is when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem, but the evidence proves it is not historically correct. The foundational date for the Watchtower’s teachings is false, thus showing once again they have set wrong dates in reference to “the time of the end” to come. They said at first it started in 1874 A.D. and 1914 A.D. was the end to come. Then it was changed to 1799 A.D. with 1878 A.D. starting ‘the harvest for the beginning of the end’, and 1918 A.D. was ‘the end to come.’ Now the date is 1914 A.D. that starts ‘the beginning of the end’, and ‘there will be some of that generation who will remain alive until the end is come.’ The Jehovah’s Witness Organization was built upon false dates and continues to build upon sand for evidence.

Share this with your Jehovah’s Witness friends, family, whoever that the dates which the Watchtower base their ‘end days’ message are today false too. Lead them to the truth, Jesus the Christ.

May God bless you and this information to share with those of the Jehovah’s Witness Organization, and lead them to Jesus Christ.

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