How would we refute someone who claims that the year 2019 is really 2040?
We could ask him for receipts, invoices, land sales, court cases, train tickets, birth and death certificates, contracts, etc, that show dates for those extra 21 years. We could also request information about presidents elected during those extra 21 years. None of this will be forthcoming from which we conclude that the 21 years from 2019 to 2040 did not occur and the year is still 2019.
This, basically, is the main argument (in the article below) against adding 21 years to 586 BCE to get 607 BCE
all the documents for the extra 21 years are missing.

586 BCE or 607 BCE?

"If 586 BCE is wrong and 607 BCE is right, which Babylonian
king reigned an extra 21 years?"  (From: Google Search)

(Investigator 186, 2019 March)

Secular textbooks date the main “devastation” of Jerusalem when the Temple was burned and city wall demolished 586 BCE.

But Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) promote 607 BCE.

In 539 BCE Persia conquered Babylon and decreed freedom to Babylon's captives. This is an undisputed date:

Since this date [539] is an accepted one, there being no evidence to the contrary, it is usable as a pivotal date in coordinating secular history with Bible history. (JW Website)

JWs believe that the Jewish captives got back to Jerusalem two years later in 537 BCE, having been absent 70 years. They subtract 70 years to get 607 BCE and declare 586 BCE wrong.


Adding 21 years to 586 BCE requires JWs to also add 21 years (or close to 21 years) to many other events, extensively changing ancient history.

For example their book Insight on the Scriptures (Volume 2, 1988, page 480) quotes historian Grayson:

In his accession year he [Nebuchadnezzar] returned to Hattu and "in the month Shebat [January-February, 624 B.C.E.] he took the vast booty of Hattu to Babylon." (Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles, by A. K. Grayson, 1975, p. 100)

Readers would assume, because of "624 B.C.E" added in brackets, that Grayson advocates 624 B.C.E. for Nebuchadnezzar's accession.  However Grayson accepts 605 B.C.E.; 624 is the JW substitute date.


A letter sent to Australia's JWs headquarters is here reprinted with names abbreviated:

Gordon  S….

NSW 2113

NSW 2565                                                                                                                                                                     24.1.1994

Dear Sirs,

I am currently studying with Robert M…., a brother from the Gladesville Congregation. We are part way through the book "Let Your Kingdom Come".

We have been looking into Bible chronology, in particular the pivotal date of 607 B.C.E. and seem to have come up against a discrepancy.

The regnal years for the last kings of Babylon are as follows:

Nebuchadnezzar        43 years         Insight book, p. 480
Amel-Marduk                2 years         Babylon book, p. 184,
                                                                        W.T. 1.1.65, p. 29
Neriglissar                    4 years                "
Labashi-Marduk           9 months             "
Nabonidus                   17 years        Insight book, p. 457
                                                                        W.T. 15.8.68, p. 491

Based on these years and the absolute date of 539 B.C.E., we are able to determine the chronology of the era as follows:

Nebuchadnezzar      604 – 562 B.C.E.
Amel-Marduk            561 – 560 B.C.E.
Neriglissar                559 – 556 B.C.E.
Labashi-Marduk       556 – 555 B.C.E.
Nabonidus                555 – 539 B.C.E.

However, the Insight book puts the dates for Nebuchadnezzar 20 years earlier, i.e. 624 – 582 B.C.E

We cannot understand where the extra 20 years have come from, and would be very grateful if you could offer an explanation.

Yours truly,

Gordon S….

P.S. Brother M… is aware that I have written to you on this matter.


The "Babylon book" cited in the letter is Babylon the Great Has Fallen… (1963); and "W.T." is The Watchtower magazine.

The letter implies that if Nebuchadnezzar's reign began in 604 BCE and Jerusalem's Temple was burned in Nebuchadnezzar's 19th year (2 Kings 25:8) then we get 586/585 BCE for that event. 607 BCE is arithmetical nonsense.


History says that the Neo-Babylonian Empire when Babylon ruled the lands between Egypt and Persia lasted from 626 BCE to 539 BCE or 87 years.

The reigns of the Neo-Babylonian kings:

•    Nabopolassar (Nebuchadnezzar's father) 626/625-605
•    Nebuchadnezzar                                       605-562
•    Evil-Merodach (Amel Marduk)                   562-560
•    Nerig-lissar (Nergal-sharezer)                   560-556
•    Labashi-Marduk                                        Nine months in 556
•    Nabonidus                                                 556-539
•    Belshazzar Son of Nabonidus and co-regent 550-539

Some dates differ from the letter by one year because the letter's calculations use whole years whereas historians calculate more precisely using months and days.

Some events in 605 BCE:

•    605 May: Nebuchadnezzar, commanding the Babylonian forces, defeats Egypt at the Battle of Carchemish at the Euphrates River.
•    605 August 15: Nebuchadnezzar's father, King Nabopolassar, dies
•    605 September 7: Accession of Nebuchadnezzar.
            (Wiseman 1956; Parker & Dubberstein 1956)


Babylonian forces attacked Jerusalem five times — Daniel 9:2 has the plural "devastations" — and each time took Jews into exile to Babylon. The first four attacks are confirmed by archaeology:

•    605: After the Carchemish Battle, Babylonian forces occupied Syria and Palestine. Prominent Jews including Daniel were taken into exile to Babylon. (Daniel 1:1-3; 2:1) 

•    597: Nebuchadnezzar deposed King Jehoiakim of Jerusalem and transferred 3000 Jews to Babylon. (II Chronicles 36:5-8; Jeremiah 52:28)

•    597: King Jehoiachin (Jeconiah) reigned 3 months in Jerusalem after which the Babylonians took 10,000 Jews to Babylon. (II Chronicles 36:9-10; II Kings 24:8-14)

•    586: The Babylonians burned Jerusalem's Temple, demolished Jerusalem's wall, and transferred 832 Jews to Babylon. Jews remaining in Jerusalem killed their Babylon-appointed governor and fled to Egypt. (II Kings 25:22-26; II Chronicles 36:17-19; Jeremiah 40-43; 44:30; 52:29-30)

•    581: 745 Jews taken to Babylon. (Jeremiah 52:30)


JWs add 21 years to 586 BCE and claim that the devastation when the Temple was burned and city wall demolished occurred in 607 BCE, basing this on II Chronicles 36 which says:

He [Nebuchadnezzar] took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had made up for its Sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years. (2 Chronicles 36:21)

Since the exile here mentioned seemingly lasted 70 years, and ended, according to JWs, in 537 BCE when 50,000 Jews returned to Jerusalem, JWs calculate 537 +70 = 607 BCE.

II Chronicles 36:21, however, does not state that the exile there mentioned was the start of the 70 years. The wording allows for this particular exile to start within or during the 70 years and contributing to the fulfilment of the 70 years.

This becomes plainer in Jeremiah which II Chronicles mentions as its source. Jeremiah's 70 years refer to when Babylon dominated Judah and neighbouring nations: 

The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah, in the fourth year of King Jehoiakim … that was the first year of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon…
This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. Then after 70 years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity… (Jeremiah 25:11-12)

Jeremiah goes on to list Judah, Syria, Egypt and other nations that would serve Babylon. They don't all serve exactly 70 years but "one after another … disaster is spreading from nation to nation…" (25:26, 32)

Jeremiah made his prediction in, "the fourth year of Jehoiakim … the first year of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon…" In that same year the Babylonians took Daniel and other upper-class Jews to Babylon. (Daniel 1:1-3; 2:1)

This was the start of the "devastations" of Jerusalem and 70-year exile of the Jews in the 1st year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar in 605 BCE.

The devastation when the temple was burned was the fourth devastation, occurring in the "nineteenth" year of Nebuchadezzar (II Kings 25:8) 586 BCE.

After the third exile (597 BCE), of King Jehoiachin (Jeconiah) with 10,000 Jews, Jeremiah wrote them a letter stating:

For thus says the LORD: Only when Babylon's seventy years are completed will I visit you, and I will fulfill to you my word and bring you back to this place … from which I sent you into exile. (29:10)

Obviously the 70 years had already started, but they started not in 597 BCE but 8 years earlier with the first exile.

By interpreting II Chronicles 36 with help from Jeremiah and Daniel 1, the Bible agrees with history that Nebuchadnezzar's kingship began 605 BCE when Daniel and other hostages were taken to Babylon. That's when the 70 years began — with the first group of exiles. The siege when the Temple was burned occurred 19 years later 587/586 BCE.


For JWs to be correct regarding 607 BCE requires that one Babylonian king reigned 21 years longer than stated in history books:

Ptolemy assigned 21 years to the reign of Nabopolassar, 43 to Nebuchadnezzar, 2 to Evil-merodach, 4 to Neriglissar, and 17 to Nabonidus, for a total of 87 years.  Counting back from the first year of Cyrus, from the fall of Babylon, therefore, historians date Nabopolassar's first year as commencing in 625 B.C.E., Nebuchadnezzar's first year as 604, and the destruction of Jerusalem as 586 or 587. These dates are some 20 years later than those indicated by Bible chronology… (The Watchtower 1969 2/1 90)

Ancient sources for dating ancient Middle Eastern events include:

a)    Babylonian priest Berossus; Egyptian astronomer Claudius Ptolemy; Jewish historian Josephus; archaeological discoveries; astronomical observations; and Egyptian records.

b)    The Babylonian Chronicles. These are clay tablets which list events year by year in cuneiform script. The Nabonidus Chronicle, for example, gives a year by year account of Nabonidus' reign. Babylonian Chronicle 21946 covers the first 11 years of Nebuchadnezzar's reign from which historians calculate the 597 BCE capture of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 52:28) to his: "Year 7 … on the second Adar…" —  in our calendar, March 16.

c)    Cuneiform texts recording financial transactions and law suits dated by the name of the reigning king and the year, month and day of his reign.  Alstola (2017) writes: "Babylonian legal and administrative texts from private and temple archives from the sixth and fifth centuries are a treasure trove ... tens of thousands of such tablets are preserved in museums and private collections." (p. 44) 

For example, Johns (1904) discusses a legal dispute over the ownership of a slave which, "was decided in the tenth year of Nabonidus." (p. 181) Horne (1917) discusses "Contract-Tablets Relating to Belshazzar" of which one is dated "21st day of Nisan, the 5th year of Nabonidus, King of Babylon". Others are dated the 11th and 12th years. (pp 457-459)

Dougherty (1920) in Records From Erech Time of Nabonidus deals with the temple archives of Erech (150km SE of Babylon) and starts off: "Two hundred and forty six texts of the Yale Babylonian Collection dated in the reign of Nabonidus (555-538 B.C), are published in this volume." The texts consist of receipts, sales, court testimonies, promissory notes, rents, land leases, and other records.

Dougherty lists the 246 texts with the year, month and day of Nabonidus' reign. The latest nine of the 246 documents are from Nabonidus' 17th year which suggests his reign ended before his 18th year started.

Dougherty (1923) lists details from 262 tablets from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar and 158 tablets from the reign of Nabonidus which show that Nebuchadnezzar reigned 43 years, Nabonidus 17 years:

Each tablet represents a definite transaction which took place at a certain time and place between individuals that are mentioned by name... (p. 16)
 All the years of Nabonidus are represented except the fourteenth. (p. 17)

Four of the 158 cuneiform texts from the time of Nabonidus translated in Dougherty (1923). These four deal with interest, debt and customs duty.

Cuneiform is the oldest style of writing and was used to write in various languages for 3500 years.

In total one million cuneiform tablets and fragments have been excavated in the Middle East. The majority, perhaps 90%, remain untranslated. The British Museum has 130,000 of which 50,000 are from the Neo-Babylonian era.

In 1929 Dougherty published a king list based on 2000 tablets, and gives the same dates as above under "Historical Dates". Dougherty refers to six other ancient sources (which largely agree with the cuneiform texts) and says:

Of the above Neo-Babylonian King-lists the first is based upon more than two thousand dated cuneiform documents. It must therefore be accepted as the ultimate criterion in the determination of Neo-Babylonian chronological questions… (p. 10)

Additional clay-text collections have been examined since Dougherty's work, without finding 21 extra years. For example, Beaulieu (2000) discussed 313 clay texts and Alstola (2017) 289. One clay-text is dated "the fortieth year of Nebuchadnezzar" (p. 84), and others the tenth, eleventh and twelfth years of Nabonidus. (pp 72-73; 216)

None of the thousands of ancient tablets indicate that any 6th century BCE Babylonian king reigned 21 years longer than ancient historians and modern textbooks state.

The 21 extra years required by JWs never happened!

The official JW website states:

Last supreme monarch of the Babylonian Empire; father of Belshazzar. On the basis of cuneiform texts he is believed to have ruled some 17 years (556-539 B.C.E.)…

In spite of the brevity of the Nabonidus Chronicle the tablet … remains the most complete cuneiform record of the fall of Babylon available … pertinent sections read:

“[Seventeenth year:] … In the month of Tashritu, when Cyrus attacked the army of Akkad in Opis on the Tigris, the inhabitants of Akkad revolted, but he (Nabonidus) massacred the confused inhabitants. The 14th day, Sippar was seized without battle. Nabonidus fled. The 16th day, Gobryas (Ugbaru), the governor of Gutium and the army of Cyrus entered Babylon without battle…—Ancient Near Eastern Texts, p. 306.

It may be noted that the phrase “Seventeenth year” does not appear on the tablet, that portion of the text being damaged. This phrase is inserted by the translators because they believe that Nabonidus' 17th regnal year was his last

The tablet translators don't merely "believe" that "Nabonidus' 17th regnal year was his last" JWs are implying Nabonidus reigned longer but established this from hundreds of dated cuneiform documents, plus ancient historians and other sources.


Zechariah Chapter 1 has its time-setting the 2nd year of King Darius' reign i.e. 520 BCE. (1:1, 7)

Zechariah speaks of God being "angry these seventy years":

Then the angel of the LORD said, "O Lord of hosts, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, with which you have been angry these seventy years?" (1:12)

Zechariah 7 is set in Darius' 4th year, 518 BCE, and mentions annual fasts in the 5th and 7th months "for these seventy years":

When you fasted and lamented in the fifth month and the seventh, for these seventy years, was it for me that you fasted? (7:5)

The fasts were still, in 518 BCE, an ongoing practice — people asked, "Shall I mourn and practice abstinence in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?" (7:3)

The 5th and 7th months were when the Temple was burned and Jerusalem's governor was murdered, after the siege of 586 BCE. (II Kings 25:8, 25)

Zechariah 1:16 and 6:12 predicted that the Temple would be rebuilt. The rebuilding was completed in "the sixth year of King Darius" (Ezra 6:15) or 516 BCE.
Therefore in 520 BCE and 518 BCE, 66 and 68 years had passed since the Temple was burned.

The phrase "these seventy years" therefore anticipated the completion of the reconstruction in four years after 520 BCE and two years after 518 BCE — i.e. in 516 BCE.

Zechariah, therefore, supports the date 586 BCE for the destruction of the Temple because 516 + 70 = 586.


The JW book Paradise Restored to Mankind — By Theocracy (1972) accepts 520 BCE as the second year of Darius (p. 31) but denies that the 70 years were in 520 still in progress:

Both the prophet Zechariah and the angels knew that those seventy years of utter desolation of the land of Judah and Jerusalem … ended in the year 537 B.C.E. (p. 132)

How can 70 years be still in progress in 520 B.C.E. when they finished in 537 B.C.E? :

Apparently, then, the angel … was referring back to that former period of seventy years… He was asking whether Jehovah's denunciation of them was being renewed… (p. 133)

The "angel", however, wasn't referring to a "former period of 70 years" at all. Zechariah says "these seventy years" implying the 70 years were still ongoing. If referring to an earlier 70 years the wording should be "those 70 years". Zechariah furthermore links the 70 years with the fasts that were still practiced in 518 BCE. (7:3) The fasts were not a previous period of fasts that ended in 537 BCE. Presumably the Jews stopped the fasts in 516 BCE when the Temple reconstruction was finished — and 516+70=586.

The Bible taken at its word tells of two overlapping periods of 70 years (605-c.535 and 586-516) and agrees in both with ancient records and modern historians.


The 1994 letter reprinted above queries why 20 years are missing from the reigns of Babylon's kings in JW publications. The Watchtower Society replied but ignored the problem, and merely reiterated official belief:

Jehovah's Witnesses accept the unanimous testimony of Bible prophets. Judah and Jerusalem were desolate for 70 years. (Jer. 25:8-11; 2 Chron. 36:20-23; Dan. 9:2) This stands in contrast to the meagre and fragmentary evidence that has been interpreted by some authorities to substantiate their claims on Babylonian chronology. There is no doubt that the Gentile Times ended in 1914. Therefore Jerusalem must have been destroyed by the Babylonians 2520 years prior to the Kingdom being established in heaven. (February 2, 1994)


The facts that Jeremiah's 70 years began when Daniel was taken captive in 605 BCE, and that Zechariah supports 586 BCE, have been known for centuries. Baptist theologian John Gill (1697–1771) in Exposition of the Old Testament wrote:

Jeremiah 25:11
…other nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years; both the Jews, and other nations of Egypt, reckoning from the date of this prophecy, the fourth year of Jehoiakim's reign, when Daniel and others were carried captive, (Daniel 1:1-6 ); to the first year of Cyrus

Zechariah 7:5
… When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth; on the seventh or tenth day of the fifth month Ab, on account of the temple being burnt by Nebuchadnezzar: and seventh [month]; the month Tisri, which answers to September; on the third day of this month a fast was kept on account of the murder of Gedaliah, (Jeremiah 41:1) … These seventy years are to be reckoned from the nineteenth of Nebuchadnezzar, when the city was destroyed, to the second or fourth of Darius…


Daniel interpreted a dream in Nebuchadnezzar's 2nd year, therefore was in Babylon at the start of Nebuchadnezzar's reign:
In the second year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed such dreams that his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him…" (Daniel 2:1)

By Watchtower reckoning, however, Daniel cannot be a captive until Nebuchadnezzar's 20th year. They therefore arbitrarily add the required years by claiming the 2nd year means the 20th year:

…the second year of Nebuchadnezzar's kingship (probably counting from the destruction of Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E, and therefore actually referring to his 20th regnal year)… (Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 2, p. 481)

However, Babylonian kings were crowned "King of Babylon" not King of Jerusalem!

        WHY PERSIST WITH 607?

The importance to JWs of 607 BCE is that they add 2520 years, which they call the "Gentile times", and get 1914 when, they claim, God's Kingdom was established:

A real milestone was reached, therefore, in 1925, when The Watch Tower of March 1 featured the article “Birth of the Nation.” It presented an eye-opening study of Revelation chapter 12. The article set forth evidence that the Messianic Kingdom had been born—established—in 1914, that Christ had then begun to rule on his heavenly throne, and that thereafter Satan had been hurled from heaven down to the vicinity of the earth. This was the good news that was to be proclaimed, the news that God’s Kingdom was already in operation. How this enlightened understanding stimulated these Kingdom proclaimers to preach to the ends of the earth! (JWs—Proclaimers of God's Kingdom 1993, 138-139)

If 607 BCE is wrong then the 1914 Kingdom and other doctrines based on 1914 would all be rubbish, including:

a. Satan the Devil was thrown out of heaven in 1914;
b. Jesus returned invisibly in 1914;
c. The "time of the end" began in 1914;
d. From 1914 until Armageddon is one generation;
e. The "great tribulation" began in 1914, was cut short in 1918, and would resume at Armageddon;
f. 1260 days (Revelation 12:6) were fulfilled in 1914-1918;
g. The resurrection of the dead began invisibly in 1918;
h. Jesus inspected all religions in 1918-1919 and identified the Russellites or early JWs as the only faithful group;
i. Jesus in 1919 appointed a "faithful slave class" (Matthew 24:45-47) as his representative and "prophet" consisting of members of the 144,000;
j. God's end-time preaching dates from 1919-1922;
k. The separation of the "sheep and goats" (Matthew 25:31ff) began in 1919.

JWs have already changed some of these beliefs. In 1969 belief "e" was discarded. In 1995 beliefs "d" and "k" were discarded, the latter after having been a central "truth" since the 1920s! Belief "i" has been discarded by implication because in 2009 the Governing Body began to identify itself alone as the "faithful slave", demoting thousands of JWs previously included.

However, if 607 BCE is wrong then all the doctrines "a" to "k" are wrong. The entire JW prophetic scheme and authority of the Watchtower Society and Governing Body collapses like a house on sand during a flood. Since JWs equate 1914 with the "Gospel" or "good news" they would (according to Galatians 1:6-9) be "accursed" for adding falsehoods to "the gospel".

A huge collapse has happened before. In the 19th century 1914-1915 was proclaimed as the end of the end-times, not the start of the end-times as taught afterwards:

Be not surprised then, when in subsequent chapters we present proofs that the setting up of the Kingdom of God is already begun, that it is due to begin the exercise of power in A.D. 1878, and that the 'battle of the great day of God Almighty' (Rev. 16:14) which will end in A.D. 1915, with the complete overthrow of earth's present rulership, is already commenced.

The "Gentile Times" prove that the present governments must all be overturned about the close of A.D. 1915… (Studies in the Scriptures Volume II, 1889, pp 101 & 142)

From the Russellites who promoted such false predictions emerged JWs who eventually differed from the parent cult in thousands of theological points. It was apostasy from Russellism on a grand scale!


To change 586 BCE to 607 requires adding 21 years to the reign of a 6th century BCE Babylonian king and to other ancient dates, besides altering the words of Daniel and Zechariah. Such revisions are refuted by thousands of ancient dated documents, and by the falseness of predictions derived by adding 2520 years to 607 BCE to get 1914.


Alstola, T. 2017 Judeans in Babylonia A Study of Deportees in the Sixth and Fifth Centuries BCE

Anonymous. Babylon, Jerusalem and 70 Years, Investigator Magazine #182, 38-52

Beaulieu, P-A. 2000 Legal and Administrative Texts from the Reign of Nabonidus, Yale University

Beaulieu, P-A. 2018 A History of Babylon 2,200 BC—AD 75, Wiley & Sons

Dougherty, R.P. 1920 Records from Erech Time of Nabonidus, Yale University

Dougherty, R.P. 1923 Archives From Erech Time of Nebuchadrezzar And Nabonidus, Yale University

Dougherty, R.P. 1929/2008 Nabonidus and Belshazzar A Study of the Closing Events of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, Yale University

Grayson, A.K. 1975 Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles, Review by Millard A. in Journal of the American Oriental Society, July 1980

Horne, C.P. (Directing editor) 1917 The Sacred Books and Early Literature of The East, Parke, Austin & Lipscomb

Johns, C.H.W. 1904 Babylonian And Assyrian Laws, Contracts and Letters, Charles Scribner's Sons

Parker, R.A. & Dubberstein, W.H. 1956/2007 Babylonian Chronology 626 B.C. – A.D. 75, Wipf & Stock Publishers

Wiseman, D.J. 1956 Chronicles of Chaldean Kings 626-556 B.C. London: Trustees of the British Museum

Wiseman, D.J. 1985 Nebuchadrezzar and Babylon, Oxford zar_besieges_jerusalem-_597_bce/


See also:  Babylon; Jerusalem and 70 YEARS — 586 BCE or 607 BCE? (Investigator 182)

Dictionary of Jehovah's Witnesses at: