Desolations of Jerusalem

By Guy Cramer

God Speaking to Habakkuk prior to the fall of Israel in 606 BC:

Habakkuk 1:5
"Look at the nations and watch-- and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. (NIV)

Israel and Jerusalem would be destroyed in Habakkuk's time.

Habakkuk 2:3
For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. (NIV)

Within the paper Ezekiel Prophesied the 1967 Recapture of Jerusalem an error was spotted in a reference to the reference of Daniel 9:24 for the first 70 years. As Daniel 9:24 is translated literally as weeks of years and not 70 years. The following equation which shows the time from the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BC to the recapture of the city in 1967 based on the prophecies provided within the Bible. I've included the Error below: (note that prophecies within the Bible are calculated with a 360 day year).

Recapture of Jerusalem by Israel

7 June 1967 AD

    Minus 907,200 days
(Ezekiel 4:1-7 =430 years - first 70 years = 360 years)
(Leviticus 26:18 = multiply by7)

= 2520 years (of 360 days per year) or 907,200 days  

8 August 0518 BC

    Minus 25,200 days (Daniel 9:24)

10 August 0587 BC

Solomon's temple was destroyed on 9-10 Av 3174 (23-24 July 0587 BC) see: Jeremiah 52:12-13. The rest of the city may have fallen a few weeks later.

The equation below shows the parallel timeframe (precedes the first by 19 years) based on prophecies from when Israel lost their independence in 606 BC until they regained their independence in May 1948.

Servitude of the Nation:

14 May 1948 AD

    Minus 907,200 days
(Ezekiel 4:1-7 =430 years - first 70 years = 360 years)
(Leviticus 26:18 = multiply by7)

= 2520 years (of 360 days per year) or 907,200 days  

15 July 0537 BC

    Minus 25,200 days (Jeremiah 25:11)

17 July 0606 BC

Is there a 70 year reference provided at this time which is different than Jeremiah 25:11 which properly applies to the equation for Jerusalem? We must also remember that Jeremiah 25:11 prophesizes the 70 years for the people of Israel.

Jeremiah 25:11 (606 BC -537 BC)
This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. (NIV)

When did the nations stop serving the King of Babylon? There were a number of King's which ruled Babylonia during this time but the end of this royal line happened in the following passage.

Daniel 5:29-31
Then at Belshazzar's command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom. That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two. (NIV)

Many scholars believe that Darius the Mede was Cyaxares (Xerxes) the son of Astyages, and uncle of King Cyrus; he is called the Median, to distinguish him from another Darius the Persian, that came after Cyrus. Darius the Mede was likely made the Viceroy over Babylon (and Babylonia) by his nephew King Cyrus who ruled over the entire Medo-Persian empire.

Daniel speaks of both in 6:28

Daniel 6:28
So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian. (NIV)

Jeremiah also prophesizes the king of the Medes taking Babylon:

Jeremiah 51:11-12
"Sharpen the arrows, take up the shields! The LORD has stirred up the kings of the Medes, because his purpose is to destroy Babylon. The LORD will take vengeance, vengeance for his temple. Lift up a banner against the walls of Babylon! Reinforce the guard, station the watchmen, prepare an ambush! The LORD will carry out his purpose, his decree against the people of Babylon. (NIV)

A decree was issued by King Cyrus releasing the people. This is confirmed on a baked clay cylinder excavated in 1879 and dated around 539 BC which recorded King Cyrus taking Babylon peacefully.

During the night his Army diverted the Euphrates River which ran under the walls of the city and during a feast managed to walk in under the walls where the river had previously flowed to take control of the city without a fight.

Ezra 1:1-5
In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing: "This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: "`The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you--may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the LORD, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem. And the people of any place where survivors may now be living are to provide him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.'" Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites--everyone whose heart God had moved--prepared to go up and build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem.(NIV)

Around 539 Cyrus, King of Persia, conquers Babylon.

538 or early 537 Cyrus issues his decree to the Jewish exiles.

537 About 50,000 Jews return to the land

The following passage tells us how long it took to travel from Babylon to Jerusalem

Ezra 7:9
He had begun his journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month, for the gracious hand of his God was on him. (NIV)

It took about four months once released to arrive back in Jerusalem.

So this accounts for the 70 years of Servitude (Serving the King of Babylon). While they did not regain their independence to govern the country, (which occurred in 1948), they were allowed to return around 70 years after they lost their independence. How then do we account for the 70 year Desolation of Jerusalem?

Daniel 9:1-2
In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom-- in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. (NIV)

Is Daniel is speaking of Jeremiah 29:10?

Jeremiah's second Seventy year Prophecy

Jeremiah 29:10 (587BC -518 BC)
This is what the LORD says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. (NIV)

Jeremiah was living in Jerusalem when he made this prophecy so the "promise to bring you back to this place" is to be considered Jerusalem.

Note that it is not the Babylon King mentioned in this particular passage as it is in the previous 70 year prophecy from Jeremiah but the city of Babylon. This is a different 70 prophecy that the first one from Jeremiah 25:11.

Jeremiah 25:11 (606 BC -537 BC)
This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. (NIV)

Why should we look at Jeremiah 29:10 passage differently than Jeremiah 25:11?

Zechariah, a biblical author (priest and prophet) one of the first 50,000 to return to Jerusalem from Babylon states the time:

Zechariah 1:7
On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo. (NIV)

Zechariah is referencing Darius of Persia who reigned after Cyrus of Persia, he is not speaking of Darius the Mede Daniel references.

So this time frame is about 520-518 BC and we read a few versus later:

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

Zechariah states in this passage that they are at the end of the Seventy years for Jerusalem but this is not the same Seventy year exile for the people as they were allowed to returned in 537 about 19 years prior.

Once the initial group returned they began to rebuild the temple based on the decree from Cyrus but problems occurred;

Ezra 4:1-5
When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the LORD, the God of Israel, they came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the families and said, "Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here." But Zerubbabel, Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel answered, "You have no part with us in building a temple to our God. We alone will build it for the LORD, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us." Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. They hired counselors to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia. (NIV)


Ezra 4:24
Thus the work on the house of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia. (NIV)

The Second year of Darius is 518 BC.

Ezra 5:1
Now Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the prophet, a descendant of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them. (NIV)

Zechariah is mentioned in Ezra 5:1, why is this important? It verifies which Darius is stated in Zechariah 1:7 (Darius king of Persia) and thus confirms this is in fact the end of the seventy years for Jerusalem.

Ezra 5:3-5
At that time Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and their associates went to them and asked, "Who authorized you to rebuild this temple and restore this structure?" They also asked, "What are the names of the men constructing this building?" But the eye of their God was watching over the elders of the Jews, and they were not stopped until a report could go to Darius and his written reply be received. (NIV)

King Darius did not know fully of the Decree of Cyrus:

Ezra 6:1-3
King Darius then issued an order, and they searched in the archives stored in the treasury at Babylon. A scroll was found in the citadel of Ecbatana in the province of Media, and this was written on it: Memorandum: In the first year of King Cyrus, the king issued a decree concerning the temple of God in Jerusalem: Let the temple be rebuilt as a place to present sacrifices, and let its foundations be laid. It is to be ninety feet high and ninety feet wide,... (NIV)

Once the Darius had confirmed the decree of Cyrus, he himself issued a decree reinforcing the initial decree and adding to it.

Ezra 6:6-8
Now then, Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and you, their fellow officials of that province, stay away from there. Do not interfere with the work on this temple of God. Let the governor of the Jews and the Jewish elders rebuild this house of God on its site. Moreover, I hereby decree what you are to do for these elders of the Jews in the construction of this house of God: The expenses of these men are to be fully paid out of the royal treasury, from the revenues of Trans-Euphrates, so that the work will not stop... (NIV)

According to Ezra 4:24 this occurred in the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

So then the decree from Darius took place around 518, Zechariah 1:12 indicates that Jerusalem was at the end of the 70 years of punishment. Only a small number of Exiles returned to Jerusalem when Cyrus allowed them to leave, many remained in Babylon. The prophecy in Jeremiah speaks of both Jerusalem and Babylon.

Jeremiah 29:10 (587BC -518 BC)
This is what the LORD says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place [Jerusalem]. (NIV)

While we know what happened to Jerusalem at this time, what took place in Babylon during this period? The Bible does not go into details as the focus is on Jerusalem but we can look at historical references to get the story of Babylon.

At the Mountain of Behistun (Bisitun), located in modern day Iran, Darius (the king of Persia) had carved a huge monument into the side of the mountain now referred to as the "Behistun Inscription" which displays a Picture representing his conquests and a history of his reign in three separate languages; Persian, Susian and Babylonian. These three texts have allowed scholars to translate these long forgotten old languages and allow them to apply the translations to understand other documents written in these languages, part of the text speaks of two rebellions at Babylon which caused Darius to besiege the city twice.

One version of the story as discussed by the Greek Historian Herodotus, discusses the following: Early in Darius' reign,  the heavily fortified walled city of Babylon had rebelled against King Darius and had accumulated enough provisions to last for a time and that many women were murdered within the city to allow the provisions to last longer. Eventually Darius forces seized the city and the King was so troubled by the rebellion which lasted 20 months that he had the walls of Babylon removed and the gates taken down - no longer would the city be heavily fortified for further rebellions, Darius also had 3,000 of the top men in Babylon killed.  

The Behistun Inscription states that after the second rebellion at Babylon, Darius had the men involved in the rebellion of Babylon crucified - placed on crosses.

The confusion with Herodotus account which indicates one long siege versus the two written in the Behistun Inscription is likely due to the uprising in each case based on a different person claiming to be a Babylonian Nebuchadrezzar, the son of Nabu-na'id, (who must have been part of the royal line in previous Babylonian Empire) the Behistun Inscription clears this up by stating that the first deceiver (imposter) claiming to be Nebuchadrezzar is actually called Nidintu-Bel  and the second person who started the second rebellion by also claiming to be Nebuchadrezzar is actually called Arakha. The image on the Behistun Inscription shows these two individuals as the second and the seventh king which Darius Defeated. So the 22 months discussed by Herodotus for one rebellion would fit into the time between the first rebellion and second rebellions detailed on the Behistun Inscriptions. 

Jerusalem's walls and the temple are destroyed in 587 by the Babylonians. Many of Jerusalem's remaining population are taken captive.

Babylon's massive exterior walls are destroyed and many of the remaining Jews who did not go back to Jerusalem in 537 returned around 518.  The Temple is destroyed in Jerusalem in 587 and around 518 Darius allows the rebuilding to continue with his decree.

Jeremiah prophecies these events many years earlier:

Jeremiah 51:49-50
"Babylon must fall because of Israel's slain, just as the slain in all the earth have fallen because of Babylon. You who have escaped the sword, leave and do not linger! Remember the LORD in a distant land, and think on Jerusalem." (NIV)

Jeremiah 51:52-56
"But days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will punish her idols, and throughout her land the wounded will groan. Even if Babylon reaches the sky and fortifies her lofty stronghold, I will send destroyers against her," declares the LORD. "The sound of a cry comes from Babylon, the sound of great destruction from the land of the Babylonians. The LORD will destroy Babylon; he will silence her noisy din. Waves [of enemies] will rage like great waters; the roar of their voices will resound. A destroyer will come against Babylon; her warriors will be captured, and their bows will be broken. For the LORD is a God of retribution; he will repay in full. (NIV)

Jeremiah 51:58
This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Babylon's thick wall will be leveled and her high gates set on fire; the peoples exhaust themselves for nothing, the nations' labor is only fuel for the flames." (NIV)

Archeological Excavations of Babylon have shown the the external walls were leveled, it is expected that this occurred around this time as they correspond to historical documents of the period, but the inner walls were left intact which are discussed in later historical documents.  

God spoke a similar warning to Habakkuk prior to the fall of Israel.

Habakkuk 2:13
Has not the LORD Almighty determined that the people's labor is only fuel for the fire, that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing? (NIV)

The Servitude of the Nation is based on Jeremiah 25:11 and I've corrected the error for the Desolations of Jerusalem with Jeremiah 29:10

Servitude of the Nation:

14 May 1948 AD Israel Independence

    Minus 907,200 days
(Ezekiel 4:1-7 =430 years - first 70 years = 360 years)
(Leviticus 26:18 = multiply by7)

= 2520 years (of 360 days per year) or 907,200 days  

15 July 0537 BC Jews Return from Babylonian Captivity
                               Cyrus Decree for Temple to be rebuilt

   Minus 25,200 days (Jeremiah 25:11)

17 July 0606 BC Babylon takes over Israel

Desolation of Jerusalem 

7 June 1967 AD Recapture of Jerusalem by Israel in six day war

    Minus 907,200 days
(Ezekiel 4:1-7 =430 years - first 70 years = 360 years)
(Leviticus 26:18 = multiply by7)

= 2520 years (of 360 days per year) or 907,200 days

8 August 0518 BC Babylon's Walls and Gates Destroyed,
                                   Darius Decree for Temple to be rebuilt

    Minus 25,200 days (Jeremiah 29:10 Daniel 9:24)

10 August 0587 BC  Jerusalem Walls and Temple Destroyed

You may be asking after all this; Why the confusion with Daniel 9:24? How does that passage relate to all of this? 

See Part 2: Daniel 9:24 Equation Solved

This material is Copyright 2009, by Guy Cramer, All Rights Reserved.
This material cannot be reproduced in any form without the expressed written permission of the Author.

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