Take the 2-minute tour ×
History Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for historians and history buffs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

When reading literature about the Babylonian the destruction of Jerusalem I always wonder which year it took place. Some books says 586 B.CE. and some says 587 B.CE. Is this because one don't know? Or is there some other reason? If one don't know, what are the arguments for one or the other of these dates?

I also know the Jehovahs witness says it was in 607 and if someone has anything to say about the facts that contradict this year I would love to hear it.

share|improve this question

2 Answers 2

Source from wikipedia

There has been some debate as to when the second siege of Jerusalem took place. Though there is no dispute that Jerusalem fell the second time in the summer month of Tammuz (Jeremiah 52:6), William F. Albright dates the end of Zedekiah's reign (and the fall of Jerusalem) to 587 BC, whereas Edwin R. Thiele offers 586 BC.[10]

Thiele's reckoning is based on the presentation of Zedekiah's reign on an accession basis, which was used for most but not all of the kings of Judah. In that case, the year that Zedekiah came to the throne would be his zeroth year; his first full year would be 597/596 BC, and his eleventh year, the year Jerusalem fell, would be 587/586 BC. Since Judah's regnal years were counted from Tishri in autumn, this would place the end of his reign and the capture of Jerusalem in the summer of 586 BC.[10][11]

share|improve this answer
I have two minor issues with this answer: 1) I personally don't like to see answers that are nothing more than text quoted directly from today's wikipedia page on the subject, and 2) Its actually tough enough to follow that I could use a summarization. –  T.E.D. Sep 18 '13 at 13:52
I was afraid if I summarise it, I will conclude some important information. Anyway next time I will post the answer in my onw way, not quoated. @T.E.D. –  moudiz Sep 18 '13 at 14:17
You can edit your answer and do both. I assure you, if you do not correctly summarize due to missing some important detail or nuance, someone here will point it out to you. :-) –  T.E.D. Sep 18 '13 at 14:25
I down-voted this answer because it is simply a cut and paste from wikipedia, (it does not even bother to remove the meaningless wiki footnotes) with no additional sources, citations, verifications or analysis. This site is not a place to simply cut and paste from wiki, nor should wiki be allowed to become the de-facto source for all historical information. –  user2590 Sep 19 '13 at 5:31
@Vector I will re write it on my own way, I am still new here. –  moudiz Sep 19 '13 at 6:00

I believe Josephus gives historical information on both the time period of the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylonians and the destruction of second temple of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

Jewish Wars Book Six, Chapter 10, Paragraph 1 - AND thus was Jerusalem taken, in the second year of the reign of Vespasian, on the eighth day of the month Gorpeius [Elul]. It had been taken five times before, though this was the second time of its desolation; for Shishak, the king of Egypt, and after him Antiochus, and after him Pompey, and after them Sosius and Herod, took the city, but still preserved it; but before all these, the king of Babylon conquered it, and made it desolate, one thousand four hundred and sixty-eight years and six months after it was built. But he who first built it. Was a potent man among the Canaanites, and is in our own tongue called [Melchisedek], the Righteous King, for such he really was; on which account he was [there] the first priest of God, and first built a temple [there], and called the city Jerusalem, which was formerly called Salem. However, David, the king of the Jews, ejected the Canaanites, and set-tied his own people therein. It was demolished entirely by the Babylonians, four hundred and seventy-seven years and six months after him. And from king David, who was the first of the Jews who reigned therein, to this destruction under Titus, were one thousand one hundred and seventy-nine years; but from its first building, till this last destruction, were two thousand one hundred and seventy-seven years; yet hath not its great antiquity, nor its vast riches, nor the diffusion of its nation over all the habitable earth, nor the greatness of the veneration paid to it on a religious account, been sufficient to preserve it from being destroyed. And thus ended the siege of Jerusalem.

From First Building built by Melchizedek to the destruction of Second temple of Jerusalem temple in 70 AD - 2,177 years.

From King David to the destruction of Second temple of Jerusalem in 70 AD - 1,179 years.

Destruction of First temple of Jerusalem - First temple of Jerusalem was demolished 477 and a half years after David. But in Aramaic version of Jewish Wars Book Six (In Codex Ambrosianus 7a1), it says 477 and a half years "from after" David ejected Canaanites and set tied his own people therein.

There were only few differences between Aramaic Jewish Calendar and the calendar of the Greeks and Romans. In Aramaic Jewish Calendar, the year starts in October (Tishri Qdam) and the year ends in September (Elul in Aramaic and Gorpeius in Greek) - Book "Introduction to Syriac" by Wheeler Thackston Page 83.

Based on the above calculations, I reached two possibilities. But I could be wrong since I am not good at Math.

From King David to destruction of Jerusalem (70 AD) is 1179 years. So in order to get the time period of David, I subtracted 70 (70 years of AD) from 1179 years and I got 1109 BC. I also put 1108 BC, because I don't know if there was 0 AD between 1 BC and 1 AD during that time period. So I subtracted 71 (0 AD + 70 years of AD) from 1179 and I got 1108 BC.

1109/1108 BC - King David

1109/1108 BC - 477.5 years = around 631/630 BC.

First possibility is that First temple of Jerusalem was destroyed around 631/630 BC.

Second possibility is this below.

1109 BC/1108 BC - King David

In 2 Samuel 5:4 (ESV)- "David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years."

King David's rule was from 1109 BC/1108 BC till 1069 BC/1068 BC. First temple of Jerusalem was demolished 477 and a half years "after" David according to Greek manuscripts.

1069/1068 BC - 477.5 = 591 BC/590 BC.

Second possibility is that First temple of Jerusalem was destroyed around 591/590 BC.

share|improve this answer
Thanks. I'm not sure your answer is really answering my question though. Some follow ups that might do that: Josephus counting is dependent on when the city was built. When does Joesphus claim it is built? What would that be in our way of counting? Josephus is often questioned related to estimates / big numbers. But how reliable is he considered by scholars regarding to years? Is it clear without doubt which year, according to our way of expressing years, Josephus is talking about? –  Niclas Nilsson Nov 1 '13 at 7:59
Niclas, I will try to explain more in detail. Aside from being a Jewish Historian, We know that Josephus was also a Jewish Priest. –  konwayk Nov 2 '13 at 17:52
Thanks alot for expanding your answer. I only had time for a quick look at it. But I'm very skeptical. The date you are throwing out is not dates I ever heard and not dates scholars usually saying as far as I know. –  Niclas Nilsson Nov 2 '13 at 20:05
The years Scholar give for the destruction of Jerusalem is around 587/586 BC which is only few years different from 591/590BC period. So we can conclude that the second possibility is far more closer to the view of the scholars. –  konwayk Nov 2 '13 at 20:23
Where did you get the numbers for King David from? –  Felix Goldberg Nov 2 '13 at 21:13

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.