Servitude to the King of Babylon for 70 years?

Earlier dwe described how some interpret the prophecy of the 70-year desolation to mean 70 years of ‘servitude’ to the King of Babylon. Why? Because their secular chronology says Jerusalem was only desolated for 50 years. However, if they can strain out of the Bible the idea that Jerusalem was merely ‘serving’ Babylon for 70 years, then the city could still be inhabited for a further 20 years as their secular dates say. That way the 70-year prophecy is still fulfilled, but only Jehovah’s Witnesses are “proved” wrong.

Ishtar Gate
Reconstructed artwork on the Ishtar Gate, from ancient Babylon

Promoters of 587 fiercely argue that the Bible supports their view – that the “servitude” began 20 years before Jerusalem was destroyed. However, is that really what the Bible teaches?

Interestingly, the Bible answers the question very clearly. When did the 70 years of servitude begin? Does it begin before Jerusalem is destroyed, as some claim, or was it only upon its destruction, as Jehovah’s Witnesses teach? Jeremiah chapter 25 says:

“The word that occurred to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, the king of Judah, that is, the first year of Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon”

This isn't telling us when the servitude begins, but only when Jeremiah made the prophecy talking of the future. We will talk about that more later. He continues:

“Here I am sending and I will take all the families of the north,” is the utterance of Jehovah, “even sending to Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these nations round about; and I will devote them to destruction and make them an object of astonishment and something to whistle at and places devastated to time indefinite. And I will destroy out of them the sound of exultation and the sound of rejoicing, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the hand mill and the light of the lamp. And all this land must become a devastated place, an object of astonishment, and these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon seventy years.”

Notice the land will become devastated, and then “these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon” for 70 years. The prophecy continues:

“For this is what Jehovah the God of Israel said to me: “Take this cup of the wine of rage out of my hand, and you must make all the nations to whom I am sending you drink it. And they must drink and shake back and forth and act like crazed men because of the sword that I am sending among them.

So Jeremiah is given a figurative “cup”, filled with Jehovah’s rage. Jeremiah must now make all the nations gulp down Jehovah’s displeasure.

“And you must say to them, 'This is what Jehovah of armies, the God of Israel, has said: “Drink and get drunk and puke and fall so that you cannot get up because of the sword that I am sending among you.”' And it must occur that in case they refuse to take the cup out of your hand to drink, you must also say to them, 'This is what Jehovah of armies has said: “You will drink without fail.”

Yes, the nations certainly will drink Jehovah’s rage. They have no choice. After all, if his own people going to drink of it, the nations certainly will. However, when will he make his own people drink of this cup? Jehovah makes it quite clear when, saying:

“For, look! it is upon the city upon which my name is called that I am starting off in bringing calamity, and should you yourselves in any way go free of punishment? You will not go free of punishment, for there is a sword that I am calling against all the inhabitants of the earth,' is the utterance of Jehovah of armies.””

The answer to our original question, 'Does the servitude begin when Jerusalem is destroyed?' has been right here all along – in the very same chapter where the 70 years of servitude is mentioned. After stating that Judah will become a devastated land, and that the nations will serve Babylon for 70 years, did you notice that the starting point of the 70 years is directly pinpointed?

Jehovah is “starting off” with “the city [upon] which my name is called”, that city, of course, being Jerusalem. Only when that city meets calamity will the 70 years for all the nations begin. It does not say the calamity starts upon the countryside of Judah, as some claim. Nor does not say it begins with a mere exile. It starts off in the city of Jerusalem, and it is “a sword that I am sending among you.”

The calamity of Jerusalem is the “starting” point, and from that point onward the nations will not remain “free of punishment”. For sure, “Jerusalem” will drink the cup first, but all the other nations must drink the cup and serve the King of Babylon too. Can it get any clearer than this?

What does this mean? It means 587 cannot be the date of Jerusalem’s destruction. As you know, 587 to 537 is only 50 years. On the other hand, 607 to 537 is exactly 70 years.

Appreciating the full meaning of the servitude

Surely, though, all of the nations were not conquered at the same time as Jerusalem. For example, Egypt was conquered twenty-one years later. So in what way would “all these nations” serve Babylon for 70 years? Surely in Egypt’s case it is less? And wouldn't it be a different length of time for other nations?

Additionally, says that “all the kings of the north who are near and far away, one after the other, and all other kingdoms of the earth that are on the surface of the ground” will similarly drink Jah’s cup and serve Babylon. Obviously, Babylon did not conquer “all the kingdoms of the earth that are on the surface of the ground” and then make them serve Babylon for the next seven decades – and certainly not in the same year they conquered Jerusalem! So could the servitude mentioned in the verse, “these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon seventy years”, possibly mean?

tells us. Speaking of Babylon in a figurative sense, it says:

“O how you have fallen from heaven, you shining one, son of the dawn! How you have been cut down to the earth, you who were disabling the nations! As for you, you have said in your heart, ‘To the heavens I shall go up. Above the stars of God I shall lift up my throne, and I shall sit down upon the mountain of meeting, in the remotest parts of the north. I shall go up above the high places of the clouds; I shall make myself resemble the Most High.’”

Chart
Click to enlarge

The servitude began – not when Babylon conquers every kingdom on earth – but when Babylon puts itself above the stars of God, and when it makes itself “resemble the Most High”. This happened when she destroyed Jerusalem and its temple. All the nations serving Babylon is clearly symbolic. When Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and took the remaining Jews into exile, there was no longer a King sitting on Jehovah’s throne. Babylon had, in effect, been permitted to usurp Jehovah’s position as rightful sovereign. Thus Babylon appeared to be in control of all the nations – even controlling God’s people. –See our chart to see how this looks on a time-line

607 allows only 68 years too?

You may realize that 607 to 539 is only 68 years, not 70. This is true. However, the nations and the Jews continued to serve the King of Babylon for two more years. How? Cyrus was now the King of Babylon, and it was not until he released the Jewish exiles that the 70 years of servitude ended, as the King of Babylon was no longer in control of the Jews and placing himself equal to the Most High.

Letting the Bible Answer

Consider how the Bible answers the following questions.

When was the prophecy of the 70 years made?

Jeremiah 25:1: The word that occurred to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, the king of Judah, that is, the first year of Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon

Has Babylon already conquered the Judah and the nations and brought them under their servitude?

25:9: “...here I am sending [in the future] and I will take [future] all the families of the north,” is the utterance of Jehovah, “even sending to Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring [future] them against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these nations round about; and I will devote [future] them to destruction and make them an object of astonishment and something to whistle at and places devastated to time indefinite.”

What two events would begin at the same time?

25:11: “And all this land [Judah, including its capital] must become a devastated place, an object of astonishment, and these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon seventy years.”

What does the devastation mean?

25:10: “And I will destroy out of them the sound of exultation and the sound of rejoicing, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the hand mill and the light of the lamp.”

Everyday things such as getting married, grounding grain in a hand mill, laughing, and lighting lamps were to cease in Jerusalem. Clearly this could not mean Jerusalem continues to be inhabited for 20 years during the servitude!

What is the cup that every nation will drink?

25:15: “For this is what Jehovah the God of Israel said to me: "Take this cup of the wine of rage out of my hand, and you must make all the nations to whom I am sending you drink it. And they must drink and shake back and forth and act like crazed men because of the sword that I am sending among them.”

Have they began drinking it at the time of this prophecy?

25:15, 16: “...and you must make [future] all the nations to whom I am sending you drink it. And they must drink”.

Who drinks the cup first, and what does it mean for them?

25:17,18: “And I proceeded to take the cup out of the hand of Jehovah and to make all the nations drink to whom Jehovah had sent me: namely, Jerusalem and the cities of Judah and her kings, her princes, to make them a devastated place, an object of astonishment, something to whistle at and a malediction, just as at this day”.

Who will drink the cup after Judah?

25:19-26: “Pharaoh the king of Egypt ... the kings of the land of Uz ... Philistines and Ashkelon and Gaza and Ekron and the remnant of Ashdod; Edom and Moab and the sons of Ammon; and all the kings of Tyre and all the kings of Sidon and the kings of the island that is in the region of the sea; and Dedan and Tema and Buz the kings of the Arabs and all the kings of Zimri and all the kings of Elam and all the kings of the Medes; and all the kings of the north who are near and far away, one after the other, and all the other kingdoms of the earth that are on the surface of the ground; and the king of Sheshach himself will drink after them [Judah, and the others].”

Again, what is the starting point of the 70 years of servitude and the cup drinking?

25:28: “Jehovah of armies has said: “You [all the nations] will drink without fail. For, look! it is upon the city upon which my name is called that I am starting off in bringing calamity, and should you yourselves in any way go free of punishment? You will not go free of punishment, for there is a sword that I am calling against all the inhabitants of the earth,” is the utterance of Jehovah of armies.”

Clearly, Jehovah is “starting off” in bringing the calamity upon the city “upon which my name is called”. Jerusalem must be destroyed first. Then, “these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon seventy years”.

Chapters

Why is 607 BCE Important?

The Real Issue: 70 Years

Seventy years of what?

Is Jerusalem Included in the 70 Years of Desolation?

Ruins, Desolation, Waste, a Wasteland

Servitude to the King of Babylon for 70 Years?

Did the 70 Years Begin in Neb’s 1st Year?

Did the 70 years Begin with Assyria’s Defeat?

Does 607 make Daniel Unrealistically Old?

The 70 Years for Tyre

Egypt’s 40-Year Desolation

Zechariah: Did the 70 Years Continue After 537?

What About 519 BCE?

607 BCE – The Only Year That Works

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Appendix

The Seven Times prophecy

Secular “correction” of the Bible

Why does the NWT use the word “devastations” at Daniel 9:2?

Josephus’ account

Excuses for only 68 years

Jer. 25:18 - Just as at this day

Attempts at explaining-away the Tyre and Egypt problems

Jeremiah 52:20 - where did the exiles come from?

Ezekiel 33:24, 27 - these devastated places?

Ezekiel 33:24, 27 - ten years prior?

Jer. 29:10 - eighty years at Babylon?

Ezekiel 28:3 - Why was Daniel already famous?

Daniel’s gross inconsistency?

Counting a vassal kingship example

Why two names for Neb's bodyguard?

Tablet BM21946 supports 607

Blatantly disregarding the Bible

Timeline

Charts

The 70 year desolations of Jerusalem, 607 based chronology

The 70-year “servitude” of Jerusalem, secular chronology

The 70 years of “figurative desolation” in secular chronology

Egypt’s 40-year desolation in the 607-based chronology

Egypt’s 40-year desolation in the 587-based secular chronology

One 587 proponent’s “explanation” of the Egypt problem

Tyre’s 70 years in the 607-based chronology

Tyre’s 70 years in 587-based secular chronology

The 70 years of servitude

The Judean Kings in 607-based chronology

Perfect fit of Bible chronology

Daniel’s three full years

Daniel’s 3 years reduced to 2