When the 70 years were about to expire, the prophet Daniel stated “In the first year of Darius [539/538 BCE] ... who had been made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans; in the first year of his reigning [over the Jews as King in Babylon] I myself, Daniel, discerned by the books the number of the years concerning which the word of Jehovah had occurred to Jeremiah the prophet, for fulfilling the devastations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.” –
Notice that Daniel said he had worked this out from reading the “books”, the word that “had occurred to Jeremiah”. Today those words of Jeremiah that Daniel read are found at Jeremiah chapter 25. There Jeremiah says, “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. ... 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'”. –
Yes, Daniel read in Jeremiah that when “all” of the land – yes including “Jerusalem” with her “kings” and “princes” – becomes devastated, 70 years will pass. That is simply what it says.
However, some apostates try to claim that only the land of Judah was to be devastated for 70 years, and it's capital city wasn't part of the prophecy, but only the land around it. This is how they get around the fact that their secular chronology says Jerusalem was only in ruins for 50 years.
Is such a theory scriptural?
In the same prophecy of Jeremiah where he speaks of Nebuchadrezzar coming to destroy his people, and where “these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon seventy years”, he specifially mentions where the “calamity” will start. Where?
He says, “it is upon the city upon which my name is called that I am starting off in bringing calamity” (). No, it is not upon the land surrounding the city, or on any other nation, but upon the city of Jerusalem itself is where the “calamity” will begin — “the city upon which my name is called”.
However, could this calamity be a single attack or a batch of exiles being taken? No, just to make things perfectly clear the “calamity”is described. A few verses further on it tells us: “A calamity is going forth from nation to nation, and a great tempest itself will be roused up from the remotest parts of the earth. And those slain by Jehovah will certainly come to be in that day from one end of the earth clear to the other end of the earth.” Yes, this was not the beginning of any vassal Kingship, but bloody destruction of Jerusalem — where “I am starting off in bringing calamity” says Jehovah.
Ezekiel also confirms that the judgment begins with Jerusalem, in a vision. “Pass through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem... Pass through the city after him and strike. Let not your eye feel sorry, and do not feel any compassion... from my sanctuary you should start.” (). No, the judgment did not start on the countryside of Judah, leaving the city of Jerusalem untouched. The prophecy could not be more clear — the judgment began in Jerusalem with the striking and killing of it's inhabitants.
The prophecies clearly describe the start of the 70 years of desolation and servitude as begining with the destruction of one City — Jerusalem.
There is more proof that the countryside of Judah only went into exile when Jerusalem was destroyed — not before. What is this proof? Is is in . First, it informs us that Jerusalem has been destroyed.
And in the fifth month on the seventh day of the month, that is to say, the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan the chief of the bodyguard, the servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. And he proceeded to burn the house of Jehovah and the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; and the house of every great man he burned with fire. And the walls of Jerusalem ... [were] pulled down.
Now, see if you can spot in the subsequent verses when Judah went into exile:
...and from the city he took one court official that had a command over the men of war, and five men from those having access to the king that were found in the city; and the secretary of the chief of the army, the one mustering the people of the land, and sixty men of the people of the land that were to be found in the city; and Nebuzaradan the chief of the bodyguard then took them and conducted them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. And the king of Babylon proceeded to strike them down and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. Thus Judah went into exile from off its soil.
That's right. The countryside of Judah did not go into exile before the city. It is after Jerusalem was destroyed that “Judah went into exile from off its soil”. They are the Bible's words — not ours.
Furthermore, The Bible specifically says that there were Judeans living outside of Jerusalem in their own cities and villages, shortly before Jerusalem was destroyed. Jeremiah says, “Now it came about in the fifth year of Jehoiakim [two years into the devastation of Judah, according to apostates] the son of Josiah, the king of Judah, in the ninth month, that all the people in Jerusalem and all the people that were coming in from the cities of Judah into Jerusalem proclaimed a fast before Jehovah.”
The New Living Translation says, “People from all over Judah came to attend the services at the Temple on that day.” The Message translation says, “all the people from the Judean villages”. Clearly, Judah was not ravaged, leaving Jerusalem the sole surviving city, as they claim.
Daniel believed the foretold devastation included Jerusalem, remarking it would be “fulfilling the devastations of Jerusalem”, and no wonder! The prophecy he consulted in Jeremiah said “all this land” will be devastated, that “Jerusalem and the cities of Judah Jerusalem and the cities of Judah and her kings, her princes, to make them a devastated place”.
The 70 year prophecy is intimately tied together with Jerusalem. That's what Daniel believed. It makes no sense for the prophets to say “all” of the country will be decimated, and then expect their readers to assume it means the largest city will remain untouched for twenty years. The Bible's words are not complicated in this part of the Bible. They are very clear. Only the apostate's reasoning makes them unduly complex and hard to understand.
Indeed, it would be very odd for Daniel to have discerned that 70 years of devastation had passed over Jerusalem if the secular chronology is correct. According to the secular chronology, the city was inhabited, with a king, a priesthood, and an operating temple, for two decades during the so-called “devastation”.
Additionally, Jeremiah made the prophecy in “the fourth year of Jehoiakim” (), or 604 BCE in their secular chronology. This is a big problem for the apostates, because they say the devastation on Judah had already begun the year before, in 605 BCE. Yet, here Jeremiah is making his prophecy about the future! He says “this land must become a devastated place” (), and “this very city will be devastated” ().
Some people would have us believe that the “devastations of Jerusalem” that Daniel talked about, are some sort of vague concept that began twenty years before Jerusalem was destroyed, when the rest of Judah was (supposedly) ravaged. However, the inspired word of God disagrees on all these points. The Bible shows that Judah was not devastated years prior to the destruction of it's capital city, no not at all.