BABYLON; JERUSALEM and 70 YEARS —
586 BCE or 607 BCE?


Anonymous

(Investigator 182, 2018 September)



INTRODUCTION

When were Jerusalem and its Temple destroyed by the Babylonians and the Jews exiled to Babylon? Did the exile last 70 years?

In this article we'll investigate:

1.    Scholarly denials that the Jewish exile happened.

2.    Whether the exile lasted about 50 years instead of 70 — textbooks teach that Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 BCE and repopulated by Jewish returnees in the 530s.

3.    The historicity of kings and officials connected with the exile.

4.    The claim that 586 BCE is wrong and should be 607 BCE. The sect that makes this claim needs the date to be 607 in order to add 2520 years and come up with 1914 when in their view the generation that would suffer Armageddon already lived.

5.    Disagreements of one or two years in dating some events.



DESOLATION DENIED; LATER CONFIRMED

The Bible's teaching that Judah and Jerusalem were devastated by the army of King Nebuchadnezzar and many Jews transferred to Babylon used to be denied. Keller (1963) writes:

Scholars like S. A. Cook and C. C. Torrey have denied the truth of the Biblical tradition of this carrying off into exile. In their view there was never a mass deportation from Judah, at the most some of the nobility were imprisoned in Babylon. (p. 285)

Stanley Arthur Cook (1873-1949) was Professor of Hebrew at the University of Cambridge and author of The Religion of Ancient Palestine in the Second Millennium B.C. (1908) and Lectures on the Religion of the Semites (1927). Charles Cutler Torrey (1863-1956) was an American historian and scholar who founded the American School of Archaeology at Jerusalem, and taught Semitic languages at Yale University.

Cook and Torrey were reputable scholars. But the Bible has often turned out correct, confirmed by science, even in points that scholars and scientists declared false. The Jewish exile dispute, likewise, was settled in the Bible's favour, in this instance by archaeology. Keller continues:

Since 1926 a considerable number of towns and fortresses in Judah have been either wholly or partly excavated and carefully examined with a view to establishing the date of their destruction or depopulation. "The results," says Professor Albright, "are uniform and convincing: many towns were destroyed at the beginning of the 6th century and were never again re-settled. There is not a single known case of a town in Judah being continuously inhabited during the exile." The Babylonians permanently destroyed and depopulated Judah: in brief, as far as archaeology is concerned they made a clean sweep…

The Bible's outline is confirmed. Jerusalem, its Temple, and towns throughout Judah were reduced to ruins in 586 BCE and many Jews transferred to Babylon. Other Jews fled en masse to Egypt; and a further Babylonian incursion occurred in 581 BCE.



BRITANNICA DATES

The Encyclopaedia Britannica uses the spelling "Nebuchadrezzar" (with an "r") and gives the dates listed below. Some dates are uncertain by one year — Chambers Biographical Dictionary puts Nebuchadnezzar's death in 562 BCE instead of 561.

  • 630:
Birth of Nebuchadrezzar.
  • 612-609:
Babylon and Media demolish the Assyrian Empire.
  • 606/605:
Nebuchadrezzar as commander in chief shattered Egypt's army of Pharoah Necho at Carchemish by the Euphrates River.
  • 605 August 16:
Death of Nebuchadrezzar's father after which Nebuchadrezzar returned to Babylon and ascended the throne.
  • 604 June to December:
 Syria, Judah and Ashkelon submitted to Nebuchadrezzar.
  • 601/600:
Nebuchadrezzar clashed with an Egyptian army and suffered heavy losses after which Judah and some other vassal states defected.
  • 597 March 16:
Nebuchadrezzar captured Jerusalem and deported its king, Jehoiachin, to Babylon.
  • 587/586:
Jerusalem was "completely destroyed".
  • c.561:
Nebuchadnezzar died.



An engraving with a royal inscription of Nebuchadnezzar II. Anton Nyström, 1901.
From Wikipedia



NEBUCHADNEZZAR'S LINEAGE

•    Nabopolassar (Reigned 626-605). Father of Nebuchadnezzar.

•    Evil-Merodach (Amel Marduk) (Reigned c.562-560). Son of Nebuchadnezzar. His name and length of his reign are recorded in the Canon of Ptolemy. The first archaeological support for him was an alabaster vase discovered at Susa, Persia, bearing the inscription, "Palace of Amel-Marduk, King of Babylon, son of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon." (Barton, 1916, p. 381)  

•    Nerig-lissar (Nergal-sharezer) (Reigned 560-556). Son in law of Nebuchadnezzar. He is mentioned in Jeremiah 39:3, 13-14 as an official, 26 years before he became king.

•    Labashi-Marduk (Reigned nine months in 556). Son of Nerig-lissar.

•    Nabonidus (Reigned 556-539). Son in law of Nebuchadnezzar. From 550 to 539 he lived in Arabia, leaving Belshazzar to rule in Babylon.

•    Belshazzar (Ruled 550-539). Son of Nabonidus and co-regent. Died when Persians took Babylon in 539 BCE. Until the 1850s Belshazzar was known only from the Book of Daniel and some scholars denied his historicity. References to him were then discovered on Babylonian cuneiform tablets. Daniel calls Belshazzar son of Nebuchadnezzar but Babylonian inscriptions say he was the son of Nabonidus. However, it is common biblical practice to call someone "son" where we would say "descendant".

The territory of these six reigns is known as the "Neo-Babylonian Empire" which lasted 87 years.



BABYLONIAN CHRONICLES

Important original sources for Babylon's history are the Babylonian Chronicles. These are clay tablets inscribed in cuneiform script which list major events year by year from the 8th to 4th centuries BCE. The Nabonidus Chronicle, for example, gives a year by year account of the reign of Nabonidus, ending at 17 years. 

The Chronicles were transferred to the British museum after 19th century excavations in Babylon. Wikipedia lists 54 Chronicles at:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylonian_Chronicles

Babylonian Chronicle 21946 (also known as "Jerusalem Chronicle") is a clay tablet, 8.3 x 6.2 centimetres. It covers the first 11 years of Nebuchadnezzar's reign and answers: "certain vexing problems of the chronology of the Judean kings". (Tadmor 1956)

It independently confirms the Bible regarding Pharoah Necho's defeat at Carchemish and dates Nebuchadnezzar's 597 BCE capture of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 52:28) to his: "Year 7 … on the second Adar…" which historians pinpoint to March 16, 597 BCE.

Besides the Babylonian Chronicles historians also have writings of Babylonian priest Berossus, the Canon of Claudius Ptolemy, books of Jewish historian Josephus, archaeological discoveries, Egyptian records, and ancient letters, law suits, financial transactions, and astronomical observations.



THREE SIEGES; THREE LAST KINGS

The Bible mentions 70 years in:

•    II Chronicles 36:20-21
•    Jeremiah 25:11-12;  29:10
•    Daniel 9:1-3
•    Zechariah 1:7, 12; 7:1-5

II Chronicles 36 records three sieges when Nebuchadnezzar plundered Jerusalem, and also tells about Jerusalem's three last kings. The Temple was burned down in the third siege [586 BCE].

The kings and sieges were:


Jehoiakim reigned 11 years and then Nebuchadnezzar plundered the Temple and "bound him with fetters to take him to Babylon." (36:5-8) [597 BCE] Josephus says 3000 "principal persons" were transferred to Babylon, which agrees with Jeremiah's 3023 persons. (52:28)


Jehoiachin (same person as "Jeconiah" in Jeremiah 29) reigned 3 months and 10 days. Nebuchadnezzar plundered the Temple and took him to Babylon. (36:9-10) [597 BCE]
This occurred in the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign and 10,000 Jewish prisoners were taken to Babylon. (II Kings 24:8-14)
Wiseman (1956) says: "Tablets listing the rations given to Jehoiachin, king of Judah, and other Jews and fellow-captives have been found in the royal quarters at Babylon." (p. 34)


Zedekiah reigned 11 years (36:11). Then [586 BCE] Nebuchadnezzar again plundered the Temple (36:17-19), this time burned it down, and demolished Jerusalem's wall. (36:19) Some 832 Jews were taken to Babylon. (Jeremiah 52:29)


II Kings 25 says the Temple was burned in Zedekiah's 10th year, 5th month, 7th day. Therefore the 11 years in II Chronicles 36:11 appears to be rounded out. This was also the "nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon". (II Kings 25:8)

If 586 BCE was Nebuchadnezzar's 19th year then his reign began in 605 BCE.

605 BCE, the first year of Nebuchadnezzar, was also "the fourth year of King Jehoiakim…" (Jeremiah 25:1)
, and when Nebuchadnezzar defeated Egypt at the Euphrates River:

Concerning Egypt, about the army of Pharoah Neco, king of Egypt, which was by the river Euphrates at Carchemish and which King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon defeated in the fourth year of King Jehoiakim … of Judah: … (Jeremiah 46:2)

The Carchemish battle is a historical event which history dates to 605 BCE.

Now consider Jeremiah:

This is the number of the people Nebuchadnezzar carried into exile:
In the seventh year, 3023 Jews;
in Nebuchadnezzar's eighteenth year, 832 people from Jerusalem;
in his twenty-third year, 745 Jews taken into exile by Nebuzaradan the commander of the imperial guard. (52:28-30)

These three events refer to 597; and 586; and 581. In 581, Babylonian commander Nebuzaradan suppressed residual Jewish resistance. Nebuzaradan was also present in 586 when he supervised the burning of Jerusalem's Temple. (II Kings 25:8-9) He is listed with other officials on a clay tablet dated c.570 BCE discovered in Nebuchadnezzar's palace. (Wiseman 1985)


Another Babylonian official present in 586 BCE is Nebo-Sarsekim. (Jeremiah 39:3) His existence was confirmed in 2007 with the finding of his name on a 5.5 cm tablet at the British Museum. The tablet was written eight years before the 586 BCE siege and was a receipt for gold that Nebo-Sarsekim paid to a temple in Babylon on, "Month XI, day 18, year 10 [of] Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon." (Reynolds 2007)



DANIEL: ANOTHER SIEGE & DEPORTATION — 605 BCE

There was another attack on Judah prior to the three sieges of 597, 597 and 586, which is not directly mentioned in II Chronicles 36, II Kings 24, or Jeremiah, but its occurrence is implied in Jeremiah 35:11 and II Kings 24:1.

Daniel 1:1-2 says: "In the third year of King Jehoiakim when King Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem and besieged it..."

On that occasion some of the royal family and nobility including Daniel were taken to Babylon. (Daniel 1:3)


Since King Jehoiakim reigned 11 years until 597 BCE, his reign began about 608 BCE, and his third year ended in 605 BCE.

This initial siege is when "Judah and Ashkelon submitted to Nebuchadrezzar" which the Britannica dates "604 June to December".

Events subsequent to the Carchemish Battle are mentioned by Berossus in his Babyloniaca (History of Babylon) (c. 300 BCE):

After a short time Nabuchodonosor [i.e. Nebuchadnezzar], receiving the intelligence of his father's death, set the affairs of Egypt and the other countries, in order, and committed the captives he had taken from the Jews, and Phoenicians, and Syrians, and of the nations belonging to Egypt, to some of his friends, that they might conduct that part of the forces that had on heavy armour, with the rest of his baggage, to Babylonia; while he went in haste, with a few followers, across the desert to Babylon; where, when he was come, he found that affairs had been well conducted by the Chaldacans, and that the principal person among them had preserved the kingdom for him: Accordingly he now obtained possession of all his father's dominions.

The Nebuchadnezzar tablets [of the Babylonian Chronicles] published by D.J. Wiseman (1956) reveal that after defeating the Egyptians, Nebuchadnezzar "took away the heavy tribute of Hatti [meaning Syria & Palestine] to Babylon." Writing about these post-Battle-of-Carchemish events Wiseman says:

According to both the Old Testament and Josephus, Nebuchadrezzar took all Syria from the Euphrates to the Egyptian border without entering the hilly terrain of Judah itself. The effect on Judah was that king Jehoiakim, a vassal of Necho, submitted voluntarily to Nebuchadrezzar, and some Jews, including the prophet Daniel, were taken as captives or hostages to Babylon. None of the sources implies that Nebuchadrezzar himself moved far south at this time. (p. 26)

Wiseman provides the dates:

•    605 May: Battle of Carchemish; Syria and Palestine then conquered.
•    605 August 15: King Nabopolassar of Babylon died;
•    605 September 7: Accession of Nebuchadnezzar.

Daniel 1:1-3, referring to Nebuchadnezzar's 1st year, agrees chronologically with Daniel 2 where Daniel interprets a dream for Nebuchadnezzar "In the second year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign…" (Daniel 2:1)

A seeming discrepancy is that Daniel 1:1-2 calls Nebuchadnezzar "King" in the "third year of King Jehoiakim" whereas Jeremiah 25:1 says Nebuchadnezzar's "first year" of reign was in Jehoiakim's "fourth year".

Nebuchadnezzar's 1st year could have overlapped with both Jehoiakim's 3rd and 4th year. However, the scholarly explanation is: "It was customary for the Babylonians to consider the first year of a king's reign as the year of accession and to call the next year the first year." (Walvoord 2012; Tadmor 1956) Apparently Jeremiah counted Nebuchadnezzar's accession year as the first year, whereas Daniel followed Babylonian custom and counted the following year as the first year.



SUMMARY

Let's summarize before going on:

•    609: Babylon terminates the Assyrian Empire.

•    c.608: King Jehoiakim, Jerusalem's third to last king, begins his 11-year reign.

•    605: Nebuchadnezzar victorious at Carchemish; subsequently becomes king.

•    605: Prominent Jews including Daniel transferred from Jerusalem to Babylon. (Daniel 1:1-2) 

•    597: Nebuchadnezzar deposes Jehoiakim and transfers 3000 Jews to Babylon.

•    597: King Jehoiachin (Jeconiah) reigns 3 months in Jerusalem after which the Babylonians transfer 10,000 Jews to Babylon.

•    586: The Babylonians burn Jerusalem's Temple and transfer 832 Jews to Babylon.

•    586: Jews kill their governor and flee to Egypt (II Kings 25:22-26), seeking refuge under Pharoah Hophra.  (Jeremiah 40-43; 44:30 52:30) [History knows Hophra as "Apries" — he reigned 589-570 BCE.]

•    581: Nebuzaradan takes 745 Jews to Babylon.



JEREMIAH'S SEVENTY YEARS

The error of sectarians who argue for a 70-year desolation of Jerusalem that commenced 607 BCE is:

1.    They assume the 70 years began after the fourth siege of Jerusalem when the Temple was burned whereas the Bible begins the 70 years at or before the first siege.

2.    They ignore that Jeremiah's 70 years refer to when Babylon dominated 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… [605/604 BCE]

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, says the LORD, making the land an everlasting waste. (25:11-12)

Note the 70 years are when various nations "serve the king of Babylon". Jeremiah 25 lists Judah, Syria, Egypt, Philistia, Tyre, Media, Arabia and other nations. They don't all "serve" exactly 70 years since their servitude begins "one after another" (25:26) and "disaster is spreading from nation to nation…" (25:32)

Jeremiah 27, written "In the beginning of the reign of King Zedekiah" (597 BCE) just after King Jehoiachin (Jeconiah) with 10,000 Jews had gone to Babylon, says:

Now I [God] have given all these lands into the hand of King Nebuchadnezzar of  Babylon...
All the nations shall serve him and his son and his grandson, until the time of his own land comes, then many nations and great kings shall make him their slave. (27:1, 6-7)


The seventy years of servitude clearly had already begun. The exile of Jehoiachin adds to and continues the servitude commenced earlier.


Jeremiah then sent a letter from Jerusalem to the exiles in Babylon with Jehoiachin, which reads:

For thus says the LORD: Only when Babylon's seventy years are completed will I visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place … from which I sent you into exile." (29:10-14)

Again, we see that Babylon's 70 seventy years were already underway.

Sectarian Christians who count 70 years from the 4th siege of Jerusalem in 586 BCE (which they redate to 607) rely 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. (II Chronicles 36:21)

The 70 years to be "fulfilled" were (according to Jeremiah) Babylon's 70 years of power which had begun many years earlier. This fourth siege and its consequences were only part of the fulfilment of Jeremiah's prophecy, or contributed to it.

Daniel also mentions 70 years. Persia conquered Babylon in 539 BCE at which time Daniel:

… perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the LORD to the prophet Jeremiah, must be fulfilled for the devastation of Jerusalem, seventy years. (Daniel 9:1-2)

The NRSV has "devastation" (singular) but other Bibles use the plural. Jerusalem/Judah suffered at least five devastations between 605 and 581. Jeremiah's 70 years refer to Babylon's time of power but the same 70 years "fulfilled … the devastations of Jerusalem…"



SEVENTY YEARS COMPLETED

If Babylon's 70 years count from its victory over Egypt at Carchemish and the first "devastation" of Jerusalem in 605 BCE, and are exact not an approximation, they would end in 535 BCE.

Cyrus of Persia conquered Babylon in 539 BCE, but perhaps it took until 535 to dismantle Babylon's garrisons throughout its Empire.

Alternatively, Babylon's 70 years began in 609 BCE when Babylon took Assyria's capital city and the Assyrian Empire ended.

The Jews would return to Jerusalem when "Babylon's seventy years are completed". (Jeremiah 29:10)


Ezra 1:1-2 says:

In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, in order that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of King Cyrus of Persia so that he sent a herald throughout all his kingdom, and also in a written edict declared:
"Thus says King Cyrus of Persia: The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem in Judah…"

The "first year of King Cyrus of Persia" means his "first year" at Babylon, 539/538 BCE. The month of the conquest, October, is established from the Nabonidus Chronicle located at the British Museum.

At the time of Cyrus' decree the exile of some Jews had lasted 66 years (605-539); others 58 years (597-539); others 47 years (586-539), and those in Egypt of whom "few" would return (Jeremiah 44:28) 42 years.

The first and biggest batch to leave Babylon for Jerusalem numbered 50,000. (Ezra 2:64) To sell their homes and organize the departure could have taken several years. Seven months after leaving Babylon they reached Jerusalem (Ezra 3:1). A probable date is 535 BCE — 70 years since 605 BCE.



ZECHARIAH'S 70 YEARS

Zechariah Chapter 1 has its setting in the 2nd year of King Darius (1:1, 7) of Persia or 520 BCE, and speaks of God being "angry these seventy years". (1:1, 7, 12)

God's "anger" is evident from the poverty of Judah and the ruined state the Temple. (1:16-17; 6:15)


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

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


"Seventy", therefore, could be an approximation for the 66 and 68 years which had passed, in 520 and 518 BCE, since the Temple was burned.

Alternatively "seventy" anticipates when the rebuilding of the Temple is finished, "in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius" (Ezra 6:15) — in 516 BCE.


Since 516+70=586 Zechariah supports 586 BCE over 607 BCE.


SOME DATES NOT EXACT

As mentioned in the Introduction, some events in Babylon's history have alternative dates differing by one or two years.

The reason is the complexities when dealing with different calendars of different nations with different start-months for the year, different ways of measuring the lengths of kings' reigns, besides mistakes by ancient writers.

Tadmor (1956) corrected previous work by 1 year and says:

The new chronicle B.M. 21946 … dates the fall of Jerusalem during the short reign of Jehoiachin to Adar 2d (March 16) 597…

Of foremost importance is the new date for the battle of Carchemish in the last year of Nabopolassar … between Nisan and Ab 605.

To pursue this dating matter you might start with:

•    R.P. BenDekek
http://www.kingscalendar.com/cgi-bin/index.cgi?action=view news&id= 491

•    Charles D. Davis
http://theos-sphragis.info/fall_of_judah_timeline.html

•    Apologist
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Last_kings_of_judah_synchronisms_20141118_-_PDF_version.pdf

•    Parker, R.A. & Dubberstein, W.H. 1956 Babylonian Chronology, 2nd edition, Brown University

•    Tadmor, H. Chronicle of the Last Kings of Judah, Journal of Near Eastern Studies 15, No. 4, October 1956, pp 226-230
https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdfplus/10.1086/371349

Tadmor writes, "Jer. 46.2 … seems to be authentic … as is most of the historical information in Jeremiah…" If this viewpoint gets confirmed, and Jeremiah got correct what specialists working for a century failed to finalize, it's an argument for Jeremiah being supernaturally "inspired"!

The year of Nebuchadnezzar's victory at Carchemish has ranged from 606 to 604 BCE, his accession 606-603, and the main desolation of Jerusalem 587-585. In these instances 605 and 586 are now commonly accepted.

Jonsson (1986) supports 587 BCE whereas I assume 586. My intention is not to pre-empt the experts by solving 1-year discrepancies, but to examine the big disagreement of 21 years where 586 BCE is replaced with 607.



21 EXTRA YEARS — WHERE ARE THEY? 

If the 586 BCE siege occurred in 607 BCE, one Babylonian king must have reigned 21 years longer than history records.

Which one?

Not Nebuchadnezzar because:

In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Evil-Merodach became king of Babylon, he released Jehoiakin king of Judah and freed him from prison…" (Jeremiah 52:31-34; II Kings 25:27-30)

Evidently Nebuchadnezzar died in Jehoiachin's 37th year of exile i.e. after 36 years plus part of a year. Jehoiachin was exiled in Nebuchadnezzar's 8th year (II Kings 24:8-12) i.e. after 7 years plus part of a year. If the two "parts" of a year are small parts then Nebuchadnezzar reigned 43 years — which agrees with history. Therefore, we cannot add 21 years to Nebuchadnezzar.

Pritchard (1969) supplies a translated text about the grandmother of Nabonidus wherein she says:

Sin, the king of gods … kept me alive from the time of Ashurbanipal, king of Assyria, to the 6th year of Nabonidus, king of Babylon … for 104 happy years… (pp 311-312) 

Counting back "104 happy years" from the 6th year of Nabonidus — i.e. back from 550 BCE using standard history — makes her birth-date c.654 BCE. This is smack in the middle of the reign of Ashurbanipal, king of Assyria who, according to standard history, reigned 669-640 BCE. (Chambers Biographical Dictionary)

This means we cannot add 21 years to Evil-Merodach's reign, or Nerig-lissar or Labashi-Marduk — because the total back to Ashurbanipal comes to more than 104 years.

This leaves Nabonidus' reign as the only possibility for adding 21 years. His grandmother reaching 104 in Nabonidus' 6th year still computes whether he reigned 38 years or 17.


COMMERCIAL and LEGAL DOCUMENTS

Cuneiform texts dated by the year of the king's reign number tens of thousands! 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) 

Johns (1904) discusses a Babylonian 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 (1923) reports on almost 1000 tablets from the Goucher College Babylonian Collection: "Each tablet represents a definite transaction which took place at a certain time and place between individuals that are mentioned by name..." (p. 16)

158 of the 1000 tablets belong to the reign of Nabonidus and "All the years of Nabonidus are represented except the fourteenth." (p. 17) Dougherty lists details from all 158 tablets, showing that no document is dated later than Nabonidus' 17th year.

In 1929 Dougherty published a king list from Nabopolassar to Nabonidus based on 2000 documents and got the same lengths of reign for Babylon's kings as today's history books — totalling 87 years, 626-539 BCE.

Additional studies of clay-text collections occur from time to time. Beaulieu (2000) examined 313 clay texts in the Yale Babylonian Collection, and did not find 21 extra years.

Hasson (2015) reported:

 A little known collection of more than 100 clay tablets in Cuneiform script, dating back to the Babylon Exile some 2,500 years ago, was unveiled this week, allowing a glimpse into the everyday life of one of the most ancient exile communities in the world…
Thanks to the Babylonian custom of inscribing each document with the date, according to the monarch's years in power, the archaeologists could date the tablets to 572-477 B.C.E…
(See also: Schiffman 2015)

Alstola (2017) analyses 289 clay tablets written in cuneiform. One 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 these thousands of documents indicate any 6th century BCE Babylonian king who reigned 21 years longer than stated in history books!



CONCLUSIONS

The date 586 BCE (or 587) for Jerusalem's destruction is accepted by historians and theological commentaries (such as The Expositor's Bible Commentary) and is also consistent with the Bible.

The sectarian date, 607 BCE, misinterprets the Bible and makes the Bible appear erroneous when it's not.


More evidence is available (e.g. from Egyptian chronology and "astronomical diaries" of Babylonian astronomers) but I've written enough to conclude:

1.    Scholars who denied biblical teaching about Jews exiled in Babylon were wrong.

2.    Nubuchadnezzar, Necho, Evil-Merodach, Nerig-lissar, Belshazzar, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, Hophra, Zedekiah, Nebo-Sarsekim, Nebuzaradan, Cyrus and Darius are confirmed by archaeology. 

3.    Babylon's 70-year domination of surrounding nations, beginning either 609 BCE with the oblivion of the Assyrian Empire, or in 605 BCE with Babylon's victory over Egypt and the first of five invasions of Judah, is confirmed.

4.    The physical destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple occurred in 586 BCE. To change 586 to 607 requires adding 21 years to the reign of Nabonidus (or another 6th century BCE Babylonian king), but thousands of dated documents bar us from doing this.

5.    Synchronizing some Babylonian and biblically-calculated dates to the precise year remains disputed but does not effect the refutation of 607 BCE.



REFERENCES:

Alstola, T. 2017 Judeans in Babylonia A Study of Deportees in the Sixth and Fifth Centuries BCE
https://helda.helsinki.fiXbitstream/handle/10138/228667/judeansi.pdf?sequence=1

Barton, G.A. 1916 Archaeology and the Bible, American Sunday-School Union, p. 381

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

Berossus (Translation) https://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/universo/siriusmystery/siriusmystery_appendix02.htm

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

Dougherty, R.P. 1929/2008 Nabonidus and Belshazzar, Yale University

Encyclopædia Britannica 2009 Deluxe Edition, Chicago, Encyclopædia Britannica.

Gaebelein, F.E. 1986 The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Volume 6, Zondervan

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

Hasson, N. Ancient Tablets Disclose Jewish Exiles' Life in Babylonia
https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/.premium-exiles-life-in-babylonia-revealed-1.5367088.htm

Holtz, S.E. 2014 Neo-Babylonian Trial Records, Society of Biblical Literature

Horne, C.P. (Directing editor) 1917 The Sacred Books and Early Literature of The East, Parke, Austin & Lipscomb
www.billheidrich.com/Orpd/Sacr1917/Sacred-Books_1.pdf

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

Jonsson, C.O. 1986 The Gentile Times Reconsidered, 2nd edition, Commentary Press

Keller, W. 1963 The Bible As History (Revised), Hodder and Stoughton

Magnusson, M. (Editor) 1990 Chambers Biographical Dictionary, Chambers

Pritchard, J.B. (editor) 1969 Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, Third Edition with Supplement, Princeton University, pp 305-312
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Reynolds, N. (2007)
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1557124/Tiny-Tablet-provides-proof-for-Old-Testament.html

Schiffman, L.H. 2015 Archaeology & Jewish Life in Ancient Babylonia,
http://www.aish.com/jw/s/Archeology--Jewish-Life-in-Ancient-Babylonia. html

Walvoord, J.F. 2012 Daniel, Moody Publishers, p. 39

Wessels, M.
https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/bitstream/handle/1887/42897/Scriptie_wessels.pdf?sequence=1                             

Whiston, W. (Translator), 1960 Josephus Complete Works, Antiquities Book 10, Chapters 6-11, Kregel Publications

Wiseman, D J 1956 Chronicles of Chaldean Kings 626-556 B.C. London: Trustees of the British Museum
http://www.etana.org/sites/default/files/coretexts/20337

Wiseman, D.J. 1985 Nebuchadrezzar and Babylon, Oxford

Wood, Bryant G.
http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2008/04/28/Nebo-Sarsekim-Found-in-Babylonian-Tablet.aspx

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Last_kings_of_judah_synchronisms_20141118_-_PDF_version.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amel-Marduk

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylonian_Chronicles

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belshazzar.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canon_of_Kings

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Cutler_Torrey

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_kings_of_Babylon.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nabonidus_Chronicle

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebuchadnezzar_Chronicle

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Belshazzar

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Nabonidus

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Nebuchadrezzar-II

http://cojs.org/the_babylonian_chronicle_-chronicle_5-_nebuchadnezzar_besieges_jerusalem-_597_bce/

http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2008/04/28/Nebo-Sarsekim-Found-in-Babylonian-Tablet

http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=320055&partId=1

http://www.livius.org/k/kinglist/uruk.html

http://www.livius.org/sources/content/mesopotamian-chronicles-content/abc-5-jerusalem-chronicle/?

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article2056362.ece

www.biblicalarchaeology.org/post/2008/04/28/Nebo-Sarsekim-Found-in-Babylonian-Tablet.aspx



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