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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 Jehovah's Witnesses say it was in 607 and if someone has anything to say about the facts that contradict this year I would love to hear it.

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You are ascribing a quote to the Jehovah's Witnesses; could you attribute that quote? –  Mark C. Wallace Aug 4 at 15:13

3 Answers 3

Wikipedia - Siege of Jerusalem

All of the contemporary records, whether Hebrew or otherwise, rely on regnal dating systems. There are two points of confusion, particularly when dating the reigns of Israelite or Jewish kings: which calendar is used and when does the first year start. I'll try to clarify farther down using Queen Elizabeth II as an example.

Religious or Secular Year?

The Hebrew historians used two different calendars and, to some extent, continue to do so today. Some historians used the religious calendar, which starts in the spring with the first month, Nisan. Passover is Nisan 14. Some historians used the secular calendar, which starts in the fall with the seventh month, Tishri. Rosh Hashanah ("New Year") or Yom Teruah ("Day of Trumpets") is Tishri 1.

Regardless of which calendar was used, Nisan was the "first month" and Tishri the "seventh month". In similar fashion, whether we use the calendar year (January - December) or an arbitrary fiscal year (July - June), January is still January and July is still July.

Unlike the British, the historians of the Bible always started the year at one of these two points: Nisan 1 or Tishri 1. British historians start the regnal year with the date of accession. For Queen Elizabeth II, then, the British regnal year starts on 6 Feb every year.

Accession or Non-Accession?

Some historians used an "accession" regnal year. From the date of ascension to the last day of the year, the regent served the "accession" year. The first day of the calendar year following that began the regent's first year.

Other historians used a "non-accession" regnal year. From the date of ascension to the last day of the year, the regent served the first year. The first day of the calendar year following that began the regent's second year.

Applied to Queen Elizabeth II

Let's put this in perspective of a modern calendar with Queen Elizabeth's reign. We'll presume two calendars: the calendar year (roughly equivalent to the religious year) and the fiscal year (starting on July 1, roughly equivalent to the secular year).

  • By accession counting in the religious year (Jan - Dec):
    • 6 Feb 1952 - 31 Dec 1952 was her accession year.
    • 1 Jan 1953 - 31 Dec 1953 was her first year.
    • 5 Aug 2015 occurs during her 63rd year.
  • By accession counting in the secular year (Jul - Jun):
    • 6 Feb 1952 - 30 Jun 1952 was her accession year.
    • 1 Jul 1952 - 30 Jun 1953 was her first year.
    • 5 Aug 2015 occurs during her 64th year.
  • By non-accession counting in the religious year (Jan - Dec):
    • 6 Feb 1952 - 31 Dec 1952 was her first year.
    • 1 Jan 1952 - 31 Dec 1953 was her second year.
    • 5 Aug 2015 occurs during her 64th year.
  • By non-accession counting in the secular year (Jul - Jun):
    • 6 Feb 1952 - 30 Jun 1952 was her first year.
    • 1 Jul 1952 - 30 Jun 1953 was her second year.
    • 5 Aug 2015 occurs during her 65th year.

Confused Yet?

This is the source of the confusion. While the historians gave us some clues by lining up the reign of the monarch in the Northern Kingdom with the reign of the monarch in the Southern Kingdom, the Northern Kingdom no longer existed by the time of the second siege of Jerusalem. Historians have done their best to line up the reigns of the monarchs of the Southern Kingdom with the reigns of kings from other kingdoms, such as Babylon. Whenever they try to do this, they still have to examine all the information in order to answer those two questions: "Accession or Non-accession?" "Nisan or Tishri?"

Take another look at the Wikipedia article at the top of this answer. Thiele is assuming an accession year count where Albright does not. They both agree that the year started on Tishri 1.

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No one questions the date of Cyrus' conquest of Babylon: 539 b.c.e., nor his release of the Jews in 537 or 538.

Four different Bible writers say the Jews were in captivity 70 years:

  • Jeremiah 25:11;
  • Daniel 9:2;
  • 2 Chronicles 36:21;
  • Zechariah 1:12.

70 years before 537/38 would be 607/608. The 'scholars' who are stuck on 587 or 586 are relying on a Latin copy of an Armenian script translated from a lost Greek record written by Eusebius who quotes a timeline of Babylonian kings written down 200 years after the fact by a Babylonian priest named Berossus (the same Berossus who wrote about dog-headed horses and fish who walked upright and spoke).

You can read more about biblical derived chronology here.

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welcome to History SE, please consider add other sources as well to your answer, bible had many historical events in itself, but we can't say it is a history book. –  CsBalazsHungary Mar 1 at 8:08

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]

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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

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