When Jerusalem was finally attacked and desolated, in numerous places in Jeremiah he states that the attack was orchestrated by Nebuchadnezzar’s “chief of the Bodyguard”, a man by the name of Nebuzaradan. () As Jehovah’s Witnesses we would place this event in the year 607 BCE, obviously.
Then, in Daniel chapter 2, which we interpret to occur two years later in 605 BCE, the narrative gives the “chief of the King’s Bodyguard” the name Arioch. —
Another three years after this, in 602 the Bible again says that “the chief of the bodyguard” was Nebuzaradan, who took further Jewish exiles from lands to which they had fled. —
So, under our chronological interpretation the “chief of the bodyguard” was Nebuzaradan, then Arioch, then Nebuzaradan again. This appears to be inconsistent.
On the other hand, the secular chronology doesn’t have this inconsistency. Why? Promoters of 587 insist that the events of Daniel chapter 2 occurred in the 2nd year of Neb’s kingship over Babylon (see the chapter entitled Is Daniel Too Old Under 607-based Chronology?). Therefore, they would interpret the chief of the bodyguard to be Arioch at first (in ), then changed to Nebuzaradan in 587 BCE for the conquest of Jerusalem, and then finally again in 585 BCE for the taking of the final exiles. Some say this demonstrates that 587 is the real date of Jerusalem’s destruction, as 607 causes an inconsistency. However, is this really a valid point?
No. First of all, we do not know if there was more than one “chief of the bodyguard”. The original language has been rendered in various ways. Some of these are, “chief of the eunuchs”, “chief of the slayers”, and “chief butcher”. Since we know so little about this position in Nebuchadnezzar’s army, we cannot say for sure whether there was more than one — just as there is more than one General in modern armies. We do not know if it is even an official title or just a label!
Perhaps Arioch was “chief of the bodyguard” in the City of Babylon, while Nebuzaradan was in the same position in Nebuchadnezzar’s foreign military campaigns. Perhaps Arioch was the head bodyguard to the King, but Nebuzaradan was given the title because it can also be rendered “chief of the slayers” (referring to this campaign against the Jews). Indeed, the Bible makes no explicit connection between the two men, other than giving them the same title in two different geographical locations. The fact is, we do not know. No one alive today can say whether there was more than one position as “chief”, or whether the role was shared, or if the title is even an official one.
Besides, Jewish tradition holds that both names were given to the same person. Nebuzaradan was his real name, but Arioch was a name he earned due to his harshness towards to the Jews. The Jewish Encyclopedia comments:
“...Arioch, "the captain of the king's guard" (Dan. ii. 14), the Rabbis recognize Nebuzaradan, who was given this name because he roared like a lion (ARI) against the captured Jews (Lam. R. v. 5;the reason for the identification is found in II Kings xxv. 8, which offers a parallel to Dan. ii. 14). It may be mentioned that the amora Samuel is often called by the name of Arioch (Shab. 53a, and elsewhere), which, however, is derived from the Old Persian arjak ("ruler").”
Saying the two names apply to one and the same man does not contradict secular chronology, either. The BM21946 tablet speaks of Nebuchadnezzar and his army going back-and-forth between Babylon and the conquered territories after Jerusalem’s conquest. That means Nebuzaradan/Arioch could easily have been in Babylon for the events of Daniel chapter 2 under 607-based chronology.
So whether Nebuzaradan and Arioch were two different people or were the same person (the latter seems more likely), neither position contradicts the Bible-based chronology of 607 BCE for Jerusalem’s destruction.