Treasures from God’s Word, Digging for Spiritual Gems:  Jeremiah 29-31 & Gods Kingdom Rules, are all omitted from the review this week due to an enlarged Digging Deeper for Spiritual Gems section.

Digging Deeper for Spiritual Gems

Summary of Jeremiah 29

Time Period: 4th Year of Zedekiah – (following Jeremiah 28)

Main Points:

  • Letter sent to exiles with Zedekiah’s messengers to Nebuchadnezzar with instructions.
  • (1-4) Letter sent by hand of Elasah to Judean Exiles (of the Jehoiachin Exile) in Babylon.
  • (5-9) Exiles to build houses there, plant gardens etc. because they would be there some time.
  • (10) In accord with fulfilling of 70 years for (at) Babylon I shall turn my attention and bring them back.
  • (11-14) If they would pray and seek Jehovah, then he would act and return them. (Daniel 9:3, 1 Kings 8:46-52[1]).
  • (15-19) The Jews not in exile would be pursued by sword, famine, pestilence, as they are not listening to Jehovah.
  • (20-32) A message to the Jews in exile – don’t listen to prophets saying you will return soon.

Questions for Further Research:

Please read the following scripture passages and note your answer in the appropriate box(es).

Jeremiah 27, 28, 29

  4th Year
Jehoiakim
Time of
Jehoiachin
11th Year
Zedekiah
After
Zedekiah
(1) Which are the exiles who will return to Judah?
a)    Jeremiah 24
b)    Jeremiah 28
c)    Jeremiah 29
(2) When were the Jews under servitude to serve Babylon?

(tick all that apply)

(a) 2 Kings 24
(b) Jeremiah 24
(c) Jeremiah 27
(d) Jeremiah 28
(e) Jeremiah 29
(f) Daniel 1:1-4

 

3) According to these scriptures, what was required before Jerusalem’s devastations would finish.

(Tick all that apply)

Fall of Babylon 70 years Repentance Other
(give reasons)
a) Deuteronomy 4:25-31
b) 1 Kings 8:46-52
c) Jeremiah 29:12-29
d) Daniel 9:3-19
e) 2 Chronicles 36:21

 

4) When were 70 years at Babylon completed? Before Babylon Destroyed

E.g. 540 BC

With Destruction of Babylon 539 BC After Destruction of Babylon 538 BC or 537 BC
a) Jeremiah 25:11,12 (fulfill, filled, completed)
b) Important : See also Daniel 5:26-28
5) When would the King of Babylon be called to account? Before 70 years On Completion of 70 Years Sometime After 70 years
a) Jeremiah 25:11,12
b) Jeremiah 27:7
By 4th Year
Jehoiakim
By Exile of Jehoiachin By 11th year of Zedekiah Other : Please Specify with reasons
6) When was Jeremiah 25 written?
7) In Context and timeline when did the 70 years in Jeremiah 29:10 start.  (re-read summary of Jeremiah 29)
8) When was Jeremiah 29 written?
9) In context (based on readings and answers to above) When did service to Babylon start.
Give Reasons for conclusions

 

10) Why was Jerusalem to be devastated according to the following scriptures? For Ignoring Jehovah’s Laws Because Non Repentant To Serve Babylon Refusing to serve Babylon
a) 2 Chronicles 36
b) Jeremiah 17:19-27
c) Jeremiah 19:1-15
d) Jeremiah 38:16,17

 

Deeper Analysis of Key Passages:

Jeremiah 29:1-14

Please read these verses and have them open while considering the following.

In Zedekiah’s 4th year Jeremiah foretells that Jehovah would turn attention to his people after 70 years for/at Babylon. It was foretold that Judah would ‘certainly call’ Jehovah ‘and come and pray to‘ him. This was fulfilled when, as recorded in Daniel 9:1-20, Daniel prayed for forgiveness on behalf of the nation of Israel. The prophecy was given to those just taken in exile to Babylon with Jehoiachin 4 years earlier.  Earlier, in verses 4-6, he had told them to settle where they were in Babylon, build houses, plant gardens, eat the fruitage, and get married, implying they were going to be there a long time.  The question in the minds of the readers of Jeremiah’s message would be: How long would they be in exile in Babylon? Jeremiah then proceeded to tell them how long it would be for Babylon’s domination and rule. The account states, it would be 70 years. (‘in accord with the fulfilling (completing) of 70 years’)

From when?

(a) A future unknown date, which turned out to be 7 years in the future? Unlikely, that would do little to reassure his audience.

(b) From the beginning of their exile 4 years before[2]?  Without any other scriptures, much more likely. This would give them an end date to look forward to and plan for.

(c) More likely? In context with the added context of Jeremiah 25[3] where they were already previously warned they would have to serve the Babylonians for 70 years, the more likely start would be when they started to come under Babylonian domination (instead of Egyptian\Assyrian) which was the 31st and last year of Josiah, some 16 years before. There is no dependency mentioned here on the complete desolation of Jerusalem for the 70 years to start.

The wording “In accord with the fulfilling (or completing) of 70 years at/for[4] Babylon I shall turn my attention to you people” implies this 70-year period had already started. If Jeremiah meant a future 70 years, a clearer wording to his readers would have been: “You will (future) be at Babylon for 70 years and then I shall turn my attention to you people”.  Fulfilled/completed usually implies that the event or action has already started unless otherwise stated; it is not in the future. Verses 16-21 emphasize this by saying that destruction would be upon those not yet in exile, because they would not listen, and on those already in exile in Babylon, who were saying that the servitude to Babylon and exile would not last long, contradicting Jeremiah who had foretold 70 years.

Daniel 5:17-31 records Daniel’s words to Belshazzar: “God has numbered the days of your kingdom and has finished it. … Your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and the Persians….In that very night Belshazzar the Chaldean King was killed and Darius the Mede himself received the kingdom”. This was early October of 539 BC (16th Tasritu/Tishri) according to secular chronology[5]. Babylon’s 70 years were up.

Which makes more sense?[6] (i) ‘at’ Babylon or (ii) ‘for’ Babylon.[7]  If (i) at Babylon then there would be an unknown end date.  Working back we have either 538 BC or 537 BC depending on when the Jews left Babylon, or also 538 BC or 537 BC depending on when the Jews arrived in Judah.  The corresponding start dates would be 608 BC or 607 BC depending on the end date chosen[8].

Yet (ii) we have a clear end date from matching scripture to a secular date accepted by all, 539 BC for the fall of Babylon and therefore a starting date of 609 BC. As previously stated secular history indicates that this is the year by which Babylon gained supremacy over Assyria (the previous World Power) and became the new World Power.

(iii) The audience had recently been exiled (4 years previously), and if this passage is read without Jeremiah 25 would likely give a start for the 70 years from the start of their exile (with Jehoiachin) not 7 years later when Zedekiah caused the final destruction of Jerusalem. However, this understanding requires the finding of 10 years or so that would be missing from secular chronology to make this a 70 year exile.

(iv) A final option is that if 20, 21, or 22 years are missing then you would arrive at the destruction of Jerusalem in Zedekiah’s 11th year.

Which is the better fit?  With option (ii) there is also no need to conjecture missing king(s) of Egypt, and king(s) of Babylon to fill a gap at least 20 years which is required to match a 607 BC start date for the 70 year period of exile and desolation from Jerusalem’s destruction starting in Zedekiah’s 11th year.[9]

Young’s Literal Translation reads ’For thus said Jehovah, Surely at the fullness of Babylon – seventy years – I inspect you, and have established towards you My good word to bring you back unto this place.’  This makes it clear that the 70 years relates to Babylon, (and hence by implication its rule) not the physical place where the Jews would be in exile, nor for how long they would be exiled. We also should remember not all Jews were taken into exile to Babylon itself, rather they were scattered around the Babylonian empire as the record of their return shows as recorded in Ezra and Nehemiah.

Conclusion which agrees with both Bible Prophecy and Secular Chronology:

70 years for Babylon (Jeremiah 29:10)

Time Period: Working Back from 539 BC gives 609 BC.

Evidence:  ‘For’ is used as it fits the context set by Jeremiah 25 (see 2) and footnotes and text in Section 3 and is the translation in almost all Bibles. ‘For’ gives us a firm starting point (539 BCE) from which to work back.  Alternatively If ‘at’ is to be used we get uncertain starting points of 537 or 538 as a minimum, though there are other starting points that could be chosen.  Thus, which return from Babylon should be chosen? And the first return exact date unknown? The conclusion which matches the scriptures and secular chronology is 539 BC to 609 BC.

____________________________________________________

[1] Conclusion: A similar message to Leviticus and Deuteronomy. The Israelites would sin against Jehovah, and therefore he would scatter them and exile them. In addition, they would have to repent before Jehovah would listen and restore them. The concluding of the exile was dependent on repentance, not a time period.

[2] This was the exile at the time of Jehoiachin, before Nebuchadnezzar placed Zedekiah on the throne. 597 BC secular chronology, 617 BC in JW chronology.

[3] Written 11 years before in 4th Year of Jehoiakim, 1st Year Nebuchadnezzar.

[4] Hebrew word ‘lə’ is more correctly translated ‘for’. See here. Its use as a preposition to Babylon (lə·ḇā·ḇel) implies in order of usage (1). ‘To’ – as destination, (2). ‘To,for’ – indirect object indicating recipient, addressee, beneficiary, affected person eg. Gift ‘To’ her, (3). ‘of’ a possesor – not relevant, (4). ‘To, into’ indicating result of change, (5). ‘for, opinion of’ holder of viewpoint. The context clearly shows 70 years is the subject and Babylon the object, hence Babylon is not (1) a destination for the 70 years or (4), or (5), but rather (2) Babylon being the beneficiary of 70 years; of what? Jeremiah 25 said control, or servitude. Hebrew phrase is ‘lebabel’ = le & babel. ‘Le’ = ‘for’ or ‘to’. Hence ‘for Babylon’. ‘At’ or ‘in’ = ‘be’ or ‘ba’ and would be ‘bebabel’. See Jeremiah 29:10 Interlinear Bible.

[5] According to the Nabonidus Chronicle the Fall of Babylon was on the 16th day of Tasritu (Babylonian), (Hebrew – Tishri) equivalent to 3th October.

[6] See Jeremiah 27:7 And all the nations must serve even him and his son and his grandson until the time even of his own land comes, and many nations and great kings must exploit him as a servant.’

[7] See footnote 4.

[8] Ezra 3:1, 2 shows it was the 7th month by the time they arrived, but not the year.  The generally accepted consensus is 537 BC, the decree of Cyrus going out the previous year 538 BC (his first year,: 1st Regnal Year or 1st Year as King of Babylon after death of Darius the Mede)

[9] To insert 10 years into Babylonian chronology at this time is problematic because of the interlocking with other Nations such as Egypt, Elam, and Medo-Persia. To insert 20 years is impossible. See a further Chronology Commentary highlighting these issues in more detail.