Tuesday, April 06, 2010

A few words of clarification from the April 1, 2010 post

Please see the April 1, 2010 post for context.

Just to clarify, it was not my intention to show that the Watchtower is in agreement with the fact that 587 is the date for the destruction of Jerusalem. It is simply to show that by counting back from 539 in using the lengths of each King's reign as provided by the Watchtower, one comes to the date of 587 for the destruction of Jerusalem.

Though it is no secret that the Watchtower believes that secular chronologies are largely unreliable (please see, w69 2/1 p. 88 Babylonian Chronology—How Reliable?), they nonetheless have provided the lengths of each of these kings reigns. Thus, it would be safe to assume that unless there are specific qualifications made, the rank-and-file will naturally read the pages of their Watchtower without questioning its details. For instance, when a JW reads:

*** w65 1/1 p. 29 The Rejoicing of the Wicked Is Short-lived ***

Evil-merodach reigned two years and was murdered by his brother-in-law Neriglissar, who reigned for four years, which time he spent mainly in building operations. His underage son Labashi-Marduk, a vicious boy, succeeded him, and was assassinated within nine months. Nabonidus, who had served as governor of Babylon and who had been Nebuchadnezzar’s favorite son-in-law, took the throne and had a fairly glorious reign until Babylon fell in 539 B.C.E.

Would not the JW read this quote in assuming that these dates as provided by the Watchtower are the correct dates? If one reads the entire article, there are many dates and years provided without any qualifications. Thus, the JW who is fully entrusting the Watchtower in doing good research will read the length of Neriglissar's reign with the same level of assurance that he reads the date of 607 when it is mentioned in the same article.

But what of Evil-merodach's reign? Is two years correct?

*** it-1 p. 773 Evil-merodach ***

There is also archaeological testimony concerning Evil-merodach (Awil-Marduk, Amil-Marduk). For example, an inscription on a vase found near Susa reads: “Palace of Amil-Marduk, King of Babylon, son of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon.” (Mémoires de la mission archéologique de Susiane, by V. Scheil, Paris, 1913, Vol. XIV) Berossus, quoted by Josephus, attributes to him a reign of two years. Josephus himself assigns him 18 years. Supposedly slain as the result of a plot, Evil-merodach was replaced by Neriglissar (Nergal-sharezer). Reliable confirmation of these details is lacking.


*** g72 5/8 p. 28 When Did Babylon Desolate Jerusalem? ***

There is no way to be sure that Ptolemy was correct in assigning a certain number of years to various kings. For example, while Ptolemy credits Evil-merodach with only two years of rule, Polyhistor assigns him twelve years. Then, too, one cannot be certain that just five kings ruled during this period.

As we can see, there is controversy as to whether it was two years, 12 years, or 18 years. Furthermore, the Watchtower asserts that "reliable confirmation of these details is lacking," and, "one cannot be certain that just five kings ruled during this period. If such is the case, then why did w65 1/1 p. 29 mention two years for Evil-merodach's reign instead of 18? Or why wasn't there a footnote? Could it be that, though "reliable confirmation" is lacking, the two years is the best estimate in light of the available evidence? It would seem to be so. Furthermore, in w60 6/15 p. 377 Part 40, does not the Watchtower list the Kings as well as dates? One can do a search in their Watchtower CD Library for any of the King's lengths of reign. It would seem that according to Watchtower standards, there can be confusion among historians on the length of the king's reign, which means that secular chronologies are no longer reliable. This creates the allusion that the Watchtower "just goes with what the Bible says." What is really the case, is that if a secular document lists a particular length of reign that agrees with Watchtower chronology, then that date is accepted. Just as an example, if there were discrepancies amongst secular records that Nebuchadnezzar's reign wasn't 43 years, would the Watchtower then say, "well, I guess we can't know for sure?" Of course not. The Watchtower tries to do what any historian does: look into the evidence and come up with the best conclusion.

The fact of the matter is, the two years length is extremely well testified. That is, the Neo-Babylonian Chronicles, the Uruk King List, and the Royal Inscriptions all unanimously agree that Evil-merodach's reign was two years. And though one might carry the attitude of "I favor the Bible over secular chronology," this doesn't address the fact that our best available evidence shows that the reign was two years. As far as whether or not this agrees with the Bible, that is another issue.

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