Before addressing the fulfillment of the drama in Ezekiel 4 it is necessary to first address WT dating methods and how they compare with non-WT dating.
WT Versus Non-WT Biblical Dating
The WT uses the drama in Ezekiel chapter 4 to arrive at the split in the Kingdom of Israel into two kingdoms. The math works like this: Jerusalem was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 607 BCE (per the WT). The 390 days of Ezek 4:5, which are described as, "390 days, corresponding to the years of their guilt, and you will carry the guilt of the house of Israel" (NWT; referring to the 10 tribe northern kingdom). Thus, by this reckoning, 607 + 390 arrives one at 997 BCE as the date for the split in the kingdom of Israel. For the WT, this neatly sidesteps the task of dating all the Judean and Israelite Kings that come and go in between. (Incidentally, the book, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, the product of 30 years of research by Edwin Theile, does just that.)
This is exactly how the WT arrives at the date for the split in the kingdom of Israel. The article on "Chronology" in Insight on the Scriptures, Volume I, pp. 447-67 presents the idea of a countdown from Adam's creation to more modern times. But all of the pre-Babylonian chronology in the Insight article is actually founded on two very questionable things: 607 BCE as the year that Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians, and added to that, 390 years, based on the WT's questionable interpretation of Ezekiel 4:1-7, both being added together to arrive at 997 BCE as the date for the split of the kingdom of Israel into two kingdoms. The year 997 BCE is also (based on this WT chronology) the start of the reign of Rehoboam, son of Solomon. All WT chronology prior to the split in the kingdom of Israel is built upon this foundation.
For comparison, most non-WT Biblical sources (indeed, all historical sources) would date the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians at 587/86 BCE, and the split of the kingdom of Israel at 931/30 BCE. What starts out as a difference of 20 years (between WT and non-WT sources) at the fall of Jerusalem, becomes a difference of 67 years at the split in the kingdom of Israel. A comparison of dates prior to the split will generally show a 67 year difference between WT and non-WT Biblical dating. For example, the exodus from Egypt is dated at 1513 BCE in WT sources and 1446 BCE in most non-WT sources. The flood: 2370 for the WT; 2303 for non-WT. Adam's creation: 4026 BCE in WT sources and about 3959 BCE in non-WT Biblical sources. (But see post #70 in this thread for a possible correction in dating starting from Terah's father Nahor and on back.)
The period between the split in the kingdom and the sacking of Jerusalem by Babylon exhibits a less linear difference between WT and non-WT Biblical sources. As already pointed out, the difference is 67 years at the split, and 20 years at the destruction of Jerusalem. But the difference from 20 to 67 does not change in a straight line. For example, the WT dates the fall of the 10 tribe kingdom to Assyria at 740 BCE. Non-WT sources date this to 722 BCE. A difference of 18 years. The difference of 20 years at 607/587 actually closes slightly to 18 years (740/722) at Samaria's fall before expanding to 67 at the split in Israel in 997/930.
From 0 Years, to 20 Years, to 67 Years
So, how does a 20 year difference (607/587) first close to 18 (740/722) and then expand into a 67 year difference (997/930)? According to the article, "Chronology" in Insight on the Scriptures, "A summation of the years listed for all the reigns of the kings of Judah from Rehoboam to Zedekiah gives a total of 393 years." In contrast, Edwin Thiele, in his Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, in the detailed chart on page 217, measures a total of 345 years from the start of Rehoboam's reign (931/30) to the end of Zedekiah's reign (587/86). That difference in years (from Rehoboam's start to Zedekiah's end) is between 393 (WT) and 345 (non-WT). A difference of 48 years. The WT then rounds to the 390 years based on Ezek 4:1-7. The reason for this major difference (393 vs. 345)? The WT only accepts one co-rulership during that time (Jehoram/Jehoshaphat). Thiele lists six co-rulerships on the Judean side. But only one of those six occurs after the 10 tribe kingdom is carried off by Assyria. This is why most of the increase in difference between WT and non-WT Biblical sources occurs before the deportation of the 10 tribe kingdom.
What do we make of these differences? If one were to read the Insight article on "Chronology," one would notice the great concentration of effort that is made to bring non-WT dating methods into disrepute. This is done so that the reader can put their faith in the WT's dating methods. The WT claims that the dating they prefer is "Biblical." And everyone else's methods are "secular." But this is a false and misleading argument. The Bible contains only relative dating. That is, it only dates events in relation to other events within the Bible itself. To connect Biblical dating to our calendars one has to find events in the Bible that can be matched to known secular dates. One such date is the fall of Babylon in 539 BCE.
Curiously enough, the WT holds to 539 BCE as the fixed date for the fall of Babylon. This date is used by WT as a fixed anchor on which WT dating is attached. So it can be truly said that WT dating has its beginning in secular dating. And the year 539 BCE for the fall of Babylon is, indeed, an indisputably fixed date by secular sources. So how can WT and non-WT Biblical dating have the same starting point and yet soon begin drifting apart? Non-WT dating places the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon at 587/86 BCE, and WT places it at 607 BCE. Just a few decades before 539 BCE and the two sides are already 20 years apart.
This 20 year difference occurs because WT's next step (from the fall of Babylon in 539 BCE to the fall of Jerusalem in 607 BCE (per the WT) is based on a Biblical interpretation. The next step backwards for non-WT sources is further archaeology. As Carl Olaf Jonsson points out in his book, Gentile Times Reconsidered, the date of 587 BCE (for Jerusalem's fall to Babylon) has far more archaeological and historical support than does the date of 539 BCE for Babylon's fall to Medo-Persia. (See also par. 2 of this post.) It's not that 539 BCE is questionable in any way. Rather, 539 BCE is, indeed, unquestionably fixed in history as the fall of Babylon. But 587 BCE is fixed by even more evidence as the fall of Jerusalem. So, logically, if the WT accepts 539 BCE due to the huge amount of evidence supporting it, you would think that they would have even more acceptance of 587 BCE as the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians. But alas, you can only lead a horse to water. As it turns out, WT has interpreted 20th century dates important to itself (1914 & 1919 CE) that it has linked to 607 BCE. And thus, WT has tied itself to its own interpretations in such a way that it cannot let go of the false date of 607 BCE.
In contrast to the WT, non-WT chronological references usually make no big deal out of the dating methods used. They are what they are. They go by whatever the preponderance of evidence is pointing to, and where the Bible agrees, that is what is generally accepted. Nor are those who disagree with them held in disrepute like the WT tends to do. (See note # 8 below for an example of the WT's less-than-honest scholarship regarding their 607 BCE dating). Additionally, non-WT Biblical dating has no motivation, like the WT does, to hold to some fictional date like 607 BCE.
(An indication that WT's position is a complete fabrication is the fact that WT cannot allow any open discussion of the subject. Any JW voicing a contrary view to WT is subject to excommunication and shunning as a hated "apostate." In the same way, the pro-WT discussion forum, JWTalk.Net, heavily moderates any discussion about 607/587 and quickly closes any thread that threatens to consider any possibility contrary to the WT's position. These are the actions of people with something to hide. They are afraid of any open discussion of the topic, fearful that their position may not stand up to scrutiny.)
An Example Showing How Non-WT Dating Works Better
As an example to show that non-WT dating works better (than WT dating), consider the case of Jonah. Jonah lived during the reign of King Jeroboam II. According to the WT Jeroboam II's reign was from 844-804 BCE. Non-WT sources (like Edwin Thiele) place his reign from 793-753 BCE, a difference of 51 years. Does that difference make any difference? Consider this: One of the items of debate concerning the story of Jonah is in regard to the quick repentance of the people of Nineveh to the preaching of Jonah. Some think such a change in attitude, so quickly, is improbable. But consider what happens when one accepts the non-WT dating. From T. E. McComiskey's commentary on Jonah:
Famines and eclipses were, to the ancients, the purview of the gods, since they involved natural forces beyond man's control. (Compare Jesus' words at Mt 24:6-7 & Lk 21:10-11.) These things would tend to lead humans of that time to think that divine action was imminent. (Note how Jesus prepared his disciples so as to not let that happen to them. - Mt 24:6-8)This [Adad-nerari III, 810-783 BC] was the reign before that of Jeroboam II [i.e. before Jonah's time frame]. Assur-dan III, Assyria's next king, had a calamitous reign: "There was a famine in 765, recurring in, or lasting to, 759 BC. In 763 there occurred the ominous solar eclipse. All this gave rise to rebellions in various cities until 758 BC. (Vol II, p. 545)
For the Assyrian eclipse of 15 June, 763 BCE, see here. (And compare that with the WT's effort to dismiss it in the Insight's "Chronology" article.) This eclipse is a key date for aligning ANE history. Thiele uses it as one anchor to fix his dating scheme to on one end. Using it, his dating of the Hebrew kings arrives at 587/86. C. O. Jonsson does not use that eclipse for his dating. Rather, he uses other evidence to arrive at 587. So the fact that two different lines of evidence arrive at the same point in time (587) is very convincing. (Much of the text of the Insight article on chronology is solely for the purpose of dismissing all this evidence. That alone will tell you that they have their own chronological agenda. And it cannot be arrived at without attacking the work of others.)
And here is the historical background of Jonah's mission as described in Constable's Notes:
Jonah’s hometown was Gath-hepher in Galilee (2 Kings 14:25; cf. Josh. 19:13). It stood north of Nazareth in the tribal territory of Zebulun. Jonah prophesied in the Northern Kingdom during the reign of Israel’s Jeroboam II (793-753 B.C.; 2 Kings 14:23-25). Second Kings 14:25 records that Jonah prophesied that Jeroboam II would restore Israel to her former boundaries, which the king did.
It is very probable that God sent Jonah to Nineveh, at this time a very significant city of the great Assyrian Empire, during the years when that nation was relatively weak. Following the death of King Adad-nirari III in 783 B.C., the nation was not strong again until Tiglath-pileser III seized the throne in 745 B.C. During this 37-year period Assyria had difficulty resisting its neighbors to the North, the Urartu mountain tribes who allied with their neighbors, the people of Mannai and Madai. These invaders pushed the northern border of Assyria south to within less than 100 miles of Nineveh. This vulnerable condition evidently made the king and residents of Nineveh receptive to Jonah’s prophetic message to them.
This is the troubled Assyrian/Nineveh background that Jonah would have entered into, assuming non-WT dating is correct. A background known to God, but not to Jonah. One in which the superstitious Ninevites would have already been feeling that the gods were displeased with them. Their 'repentance' at what Jonah preached would be no surprise, considering that background. Jehovah was intending for this scenario in order to have a "sign" for the generation of Jesus' time. (Mt 12:38-45; Lk 11:29-36) In this case, non-WT dating leads to better insight into the events described in the book of Jonah. (For a thread discussion of the "sign of Jonah," see here.)
(Keil & Delitzsch, in their commentary, mention the possibility that Jonah's mission to Nineveh may have happened late in the reign of Jeroboam or early in the reign of his successor, Menahem. Thiele dates Menahem's reign from 752-742 BCE. Some date the start of his reign as late as 743. Here.)
But WT dating puts Jonah in Nineveh before all these Assyrian problems. And it leads one to wonder why the Assyrians took Jonah seriously. This is just part of the evidence that WT dating is corrupted. It slavishly holds to 607 BCE for the fall of Jerusalem for WT's own selfish purposes. And in doing so, the corruption ripples throughout all their chronology.
Two More Examples
Another couple of examples to show that the 587 dating of Jerusalem's fall works best can be seen from footnote 37 on pp.222-23 of Gentile Times Reconsidered (here):
The two examples here would be (1) The fact that the land was mostly depopulated from 587 to 538 (i.e. 49 years) equates with the fact that the Mosaic Law did not allow selling off ancestral property for more than 49 years. And (2) If one counts from 930 (the break in the kingdom) as the start of failing to observe the Sabbath year provision, then, the 49 years of exile (from 587 to 538) equates with all of the Sabbath years that had to be paid back by the Israelites. (930-587=343, 343/7=49; 2Ch 36:21 NET) The year 587 (rather than 607) fits quite nicely into the fulfillment of the Mosaic Law's provisions on the ownership of land in the Promised Land.The actual length of the land’s sabbath rest was 49 years, from the final desolation and depopulation in 587 B.C.E. until the return of the exiles in 538. Perhaps it is just a coincidence, but this was also the maximal period during which a Hebrew could be deprived of the proprietorship of his ancestral inheritance, according to the law of land tenure. If he became so poor that he had to sell his land, it could not be sold beyond reclaim. If it could not be bought back, the purchaser had to return it to him at the next jubilee.—Leviticus 25:8-28.
If the 49 years of sabbath rest corresponded to the exact number of sabbatical years that had been neglected by the Israelites, the whole period of violation of the law would be 49 x 7 = 343 years. If this period extended to 587 B.C.E., its beginning would date from about 930 B.C.E. Interestingly, modern chronologers who have carefully examined both the Biblical and extra-Biblical evidence, usually date the division of the kingdom to 930 B.C.E. or thereabouts. (F. X. Kugler, for example, has 930, E. R. Thiele and K. A. Kitchen 931/30, and W. H. Barnes 932 B.C.E.) As this national disaster resulted in a massive break away from the temple cult in Jerusalem by a majority of the people, it is not unreasonable to think that an extensive neglect of the sabbatical years also dates from this time.
The 390 & 40 Years of Ezekiel Chapter 4
With that dating background in mind, consider the drama enacted in Ezekiel chapter 4. Ezekiel is instructed to make a brick and inscribe "Jerusalem" on it and enact a siege against it. (Ezek 4:1-3) Then he is to lie on his left side for 390 days, representing "the number of the years of [the ten tribe kingdom's] iniquity." Following this, Ezekiel is to lie on his right side for 40 days, representing a day for a year of Judah's iniquity. (Ezek 4:4-8) Finally, Ezekiel is to make bread from a mixture of grains and bake it on human excrement, Jehovah saying, "This is how the people of Israel will eat their unclean food among the nations where I will banish them." (Ezek 4:9-13)
The 390 and 40 days, either combined (430 total) or running concurrently (390 total) could not be representing how long the siege of Jerusalem would last. History, and the Bible, have the siege lasting either 18 months (540 days - ending in 587), or 30 months (900 days - ending in 586). But the prophecy relates the days to 'years of iniquity'; 390 for Israel and 40 for Judah, a day for a year. So how do they fit?
The Soncino Books of the Bible (pp. 20, 21) counts the 40 years for Judah as "beginning soon after Samaria’s fall. . . the time is reckoned from the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah . . . when Jeremiah began his ministry. (Jer 1:2).” (627-587=40) This is what the WT uses in their explanation of the 40 years for Judah in the Insight article on Chronology. (The WT, of course, adjusts the 40 years to 647-607 BCE.) But this explanation effectively negates the 40 years as part of the total length of time since, by this reasoning, it would run concurrently or within the running of the 390 years.
The WT says, 'add 390 to 607 and you would arrive at the split in the kingdom in 997 BCE.' But this is a sort of circular reasoning. The WT arrived at 997 by adding 390 to 607. So, to say that the 390 years miraculously fits the time interval - that would make the reasoning circular. The year 997 as the split in the kingdom would not exist in WT chronology without the 390 years having already been added to 607 BCE.
Non-WT sources also have a tough time with how the 390/40 day-for-a-year fits. Using 587/86 (the fall of Jerusalem), the split in in the kingdom in 931/30 BCE equates to only about 345 years. Even so, using the split in the kingdom (or thereabouts) as one side of the equation does make some sense, at least at first glance. Somewhere around the split would, logically, be where the iniquity of the 10 tribe kingdom would begin. At the very least, it could not be earlier or before the split. But as you will see further down, using the date of the split in the kingdom as the beginning of the "sin" of the 10 tribes does have a significant problem attached to it.
An Alternate Solution for the 390 Years
So here is an alternate solution: The eating of the unclean bread was for 390 days, which was symbolic of 390 years of Northern kingdom iniquity. And Jehovah applied the drama this way: "This is how the people of Israel will eat their unclean food among the nations where I will banish them." (Ezek 4:13) At the time Ezekiel enacted this drama the 10 tribe kingdom had already been scattered "among the nations" for over a hundred years (with the exception of some northerners who fled south during the Assyrian invasion). From 722 (the date of the 10 tribe deportation) to sometime after 593 (when Ezekiel enacts the drama), but before 587 (when Jerusalem falls) would be around 130 years or so. (Compare Ezek 1:1-2.)
If, therefore, one uses 538 BCE as the time when Israel was no longer 'banished among the nations' (the year of Cyrus' decree freeing Israel to return home), then the math would look like this: 538 + 390 = 928 BCE. In this instance, regarding the 390 years, one might have to take the 390 years as being a very close, but intentionally, rounded number. (See par. 8 of this post and the 'rounding' conclusion I had to reach there.) As to why all of the 10 tribe's existence (or nearly all) would constitute the period of "iniquity," Constable's Notes says:
So here, in Constable's opinion, the start of the split in the kingdom (931 BCE) provides a good enough reason for placing the beginning of the 390 years at that point. And going by our math in the previous paragraph, 928 BCE would be very close to that. Possibly close enough to think that 390 was being used as a round number.Jeroboam was the first of 20 kings who ruled the Northern Kingdom during its 209-year history [(931-722)]. He reigned for 22 years (931-910 B.C.). Not one of the kings of Israel, the Northern Kingdom, turned the people to a serious recommitment to the Mosaic Covenant. Consequently the writer judged all of them evil.
But here is another way of looking at the problem that results in an even closer fit for the 390 years. What if the 390 years for the beginning the Northern kingdom's "error" relates, not to the actual division in the kingdom (931/30 BCE), but to the making of the two idols by Jeroboam. (2Ki 23:15) The reasoning would be this: The actual split in the 12 tribe kingdom was not due to the sin of the 10 Northern tribes. That split occurred on account of Solomon's sin. (Compare 1Ki 11:29-36; 2Ch 11:4-5) But the making of the two idols at Bethel and Dan by Jeroboam was sometime shortly after he started reigning (1Ki 12:28-30), after he witnesses people heading south for the yearly festivals. I am still looking for some indication of when exactly the making and placing of these idols took place. But this would allow the possibility of making the 390 years an exact fit (538-928=390). (1Ki 12:25-30)
At this point I haven't been able to establish the year the idols were made. 2Ch 11:13-17 may be helpful. It refers to the fact that the priests and Levites who lived in the 10 tribe kingdom remained loyal to the worship located in the southern 2 tribe kingdom for three years. Afterwards they had to abandon their ancestral properties and emigrate south. Jeroboam set up a non-Levitical priesthood for his calf worship. This would locate the making of the calves and institution of their worship around in the 2nd or 3rd year of Jeroboam's reign (928-927). All these facts makes the 928 to 538 BCE timeframe for the fulfillment of the 390 years a very attractive option.
What About the 40 Years for Judah?
As mentioned above, the WT, following the lead of the Soncino Books of the Bible, takes the 40 years for the sin of Judah to run concurrently with the 390 years. The idea is that the 40 days in Ezekiel's dramatization represent the 40 years of Jeremiah's ministry during which time God had already determined not to forgive the 2 tribe kingdom. One might also view the 40 years as representative of all of Judah's "sin," the number 40 being used, sometimes figuratively, in many other Bible passages. (For example, see here.)
But having the 40 years run concurrently with the 390 effectively makes the 40 years moot. They add nothing to the total amount of time Ezekiel was told to portray. It would also create an incongruous situation: Jehovah having Ezekiel portray an exact year count for the 10 tribe kingdom, but a figurative or illustrative count for the 2 tribe kingdom. Why do it that way? And if you could do it that way for the southern kingdom, why not also for the northern kingdom? Or why not just have one time period to represent both kingdoms?
Having the 40 years represent Jeremiah's ministry presents its own problem. The 40 years would start during the time of Josiah, a king who found great favor in God's eyes due to his reforms. (2Ki 22:1-2) It would also neglect the great sins of other Judean kings who were very bad themselves, such as Manassah. All these reasons call for a search for a better, and more meaningful, fit for the 40 years for Judah.
Viewing the 40 years as running serially (that is, one period either before of after the other), one distinct possibility comes to mind. The eventual split and downfall of the united kingdom began during the reign of Solomon. Solomon's reign was 40 years long. (1Ki 11:42) But Solomon's reign began with him having God's favor. So, it would not make a lot of sense to place the start of the sin or iniquity of Judah at the beginning of Solomon's reign. Even so, the math would be close. (538 + 430 = 968 BCE. Solomon's reign began in 970 BCE.)
Using the idea that the 40 years begins sometime during Solomon's reign, what if we began them when Solomon began building the Temple? 1Ki 6:1 says that Solomon began building the Temple in the 480th year after Israel left Egypt, in the month of Ziv, the second month. Assuming Solomon's reign begins in 970 BCE, this would place the start of Temple construction in 966 BCE. (966 + 480 = 1446 BCE for the exodus.) This also places us very close to an exact fulfillment of the 430 years of Ezekiel 4. (538 + 430 = 968 BCE). But the question could also be raised: Why would Judah's sin or iniquity begin at the start of the building of the Temple? The Temple project was an idea blessed by Jehovah. It wouldn't make sense to see that as the start of an era of sin.
But having bracketed around an exact fit for the 40 years (970 BCE & 966 BCE), there is one event that would seem to fit perfectly for the start of Judah's sin. This event is Solomon's marriage to an Egyptian princess. (1Ki 3:1) This happened shortly before work on the temple began. Solomon's "sin" was largely related to the fact that he married many foreign wives and that they slowly corrupted him in his worship to God. 1Ki 3:1 might be seen as a start of this process. But a counter argument to this would be that the prohibition against marrying foreign wives had to do with the Canaanites. Marrying an Egyptian bride was not technically illegal under the Law. Indeed, Solomon's marriage to the Egyptian princess was an indication of Israel's attainment of status as a regional power. Normally, Egypt, as a major power, would not give their women in this way. But Israel at that time was at her zenith, and Egypt had fallen on hard times. Nevertheless, regarding Solomon's marriage to this Egyptian princess, the Bible Journey website comments:
That comment smacks of a certain amount of hypocrisy on the part of Solomon. His desires overcame the wisdom God had given him. Note also these comments from Constable's Notes:The marriage between Solomon and the pharaoh’s daughter was a political alliance enacted to confirm the powerful support of Egypt. Solomon found it expedient to build a separate palace for his new queen so that her religious beliefs and practices would not be seen by his own people to ritually ‘pollute’ the city where the Ark of the Covenant, representing the dwelling place of the LORD, had been brought by his father David.
What makes this point in Solomon's history so ideal is that it actually marks the start of the downfall of Solomon. This is attributed to Solomon's marrying many foreign wives. And the Egyptian princess was the first. And the date is also very auspicious in connection with the prophecy of the 40 years in Ezekiel chapter 4. This marriage occurred before Temple construction began (966 BCE), but sometime after Solomon started to reign (970 BCE). This places it very close to 968 BCE, which would mark a perfect fit for the prophecy (538 + 430 = 968 BCE). The alliance with Egypt via the marriage to the Egyptian princess occurs somewhere around the 2nd or 3rd year of Solomon's reign. The 40 years would then end around the time of Jeroboam's 2nd or 3rd year when he builds the two idol calves and begins illegal worship with them and the 390 years start. (968 - 40 = 928; 928 - 390 = 538)Should Solomon have married Pharaoh’s daughter? In view of 1 Kings 11:1-2 and 2 Chronicles 8:11 there is no way we can say yes. Furthermore Solomon already had a wife when he married Pharaoh’s daughter (1Ki 14:21; cf. Gen. 2:24). Why then did the writer not point out this sin here? He may have not done so because his purpose in this part of his history was to show the greatness of Solomon. In chapter 11 he emphasized Solomon’s failures. Here it is the fact that he could marry such a person as an Egyptian princess that shows the social and political height to which God had elevated him. A descendant of former Egyptian slaves now became Pharaoh’s son-in-law! ...
“This illustrates both the relative importance of Israel and the low estate to which Egypt had sunk: Pharaohs of the Empire did not give their daughters even to kings of Babylon or Mitanni!”... “That this is the case is clear from his [Pharaoh Siamun’s, 978-959 B.C.] willingness to provide his own daughter as a wife for Solomon, a concession almost without parallel in Egyptian history since it was a candid admission to the world of Egypt’s weakness and conciliation. Normally Egyptian kings took foreign princesses but did not give up their own daughters to foreign kings.”
Why the Years Would Extend Into the Deportation
In Ezek 11:17-20 Jehovah says that it is after Israel has returned from their banishment that He will forgive/remove Israel's detestable things and give to them "one heart" and "a new spirit." Nationally, their bad heart and spirit lasts until the banishment ends. That would also be when they would cease to 'eat unclean bread among the nations.' Compare also Daniel's prayer in Dan 9:1-19 where Daniel prays for forgiveness for the nation's error which, by Daniel's reckoning, continues even up to that time, just prior to the end of the deportation. Compare especially Dan 9:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, where Daniel admits that the nation's sinfulness continues up to the time of the prayer. Compare also Lev 26:26, 34-36, 37, 38, 39, 40-44 and its relationship to Daniel's prayer. And notice in Lev 26 how the punishment for disobedience does not stop at a deportation, but continues on into it. Daniel's prayer recognizes this fact.
At any rate, comments and alternative views are welcome.
1. Using 538 as a marker in Israel's history, one could define the nation's entire history (from the exodus to the return from Babylon) in just two steps: 538 + 430 = 968, then 968 + 479 = 1447. This would be 538 BCE (Cyrus' freeing the Jews from captivity) + 430 years (of Ezekiel chapter 4) = 968/7 (year of start of Solomon's temple) + 479 (480th year after exodus from Egypt) = 1447/6 BCE.
2. 430 years before the exodus takes us to Jehovah's covenant with Abraham. (Gen 12:1, 4; 15:18-21; Ex 12:40-41; Gal 3:16-17) Thus, 1447/6 + 430 = 1877/6 as the date of the Abrahamic covenant.
3. Another 430 years takes us back to the start of the flood. (Gen 11:10-12:5) This is 427 years from the beginning of the flood to the death of Terah, plus 3 years to God's covenant with Abraham in Canaan. (1877/6 + 430 = 2307/6) This is from the Insight's "Chronology" article. I am not clear on the extra 3 years added to the 427. It may be good. I'm just not sure of how it is arrived at. Without the 3 extra years the flood would be dated at 2303/4 BCE.
4. Add 1655 years from Adam's creation to the 600th year of Noah's life when the deluge began. Thus, 2307/6 + 1655 = 3962 BCE. The 3 years I am not sure of above make the difference between 3962 and 3959. Compare the calculating I did on this post. In that post, using 3962 instead of 3959 would result in man's 6000th year of existence being 2039 CE. If the 3 extra years in note #3 is incorrect, then, 3959 is the more correct year for the start of Adam's life. And 2042 CE would mark the 6000th year of man's existence.
Important note: Regarding the time prior to Abraham and before the flood, see this post for the possible addition of 650 years in the time between offspring. It pushes everything from Nahor and before back and increasing amount of years upto 650 years. The increases are with the post-flood patriarchs from Nahor to Arpachshad
5. I was looking for an appropriate place to park this quote. This is from Flavius Josephus' Against Apion" 1.21. The quote shows that the Temple had laid in a destroyed condition for fifty years, which equates with 587 to 538 BCE.
"These accounts agree with the true history in our books; for in them it is written that Nebuchadnezzar, in the eighteenth year of his reign, laid our temple desolate, and so it lay in that state of obscurity for fifty years; but that in the second year of the reign of Cyrus, its foundations were laid, and it was finished again in the second year of Darius.
6. See post # 11 of this thread for a link to an extensive discussion of the Pharaoh of the Exodus which harmonizes with a 1446 BCE Exodus.
7. See post # 42 of this thread for a link to the dating of events in Jacob's life.
8. See post # 163 for an example of the WT's scholarship related to their 607 BCE dating for Jerusalem's destruction by the Babylonians.