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“But we think it proper to hear from you what your thoughts are, for truly as regards this sect it is known to us that everywhere it is spoken against.”—Acts 28:22


In what manner did Jehovah "call to account against the king of Babylon and . . . against the land of the Chaldeans . . . their error" mentioned at Jeremiah 25:12?

This scripture reads in its entirety: "'And it must occur that when seventy years have been fulfilled I shall call to account against the king of Babylon and against that nation,' is the utterance of Jehovah, 'their error, even against the land of the Chaldeans, and I will make it desolate wastes to time indefinite.'"—Jeremiah 25:12, New World Translation.

As explained in the previous article, Cyrus the Great proclaimed himself "king of Babylon" and at first did not alter the policy of the Babylonian dynasty of King Nebuchadnezzar of keeping the captives. Thus the nations subjugated by Nebuchadnezzar continued to serve "the king of Babylon" seventy years. Only in the seventieth year of the desolation of Judah did Cyrus the Great release the exiled Jews from their direct servitude to the king of Babylon and let them return home to rebuild their desolated country and their national capital Jerusalem and its temple. (Ezra 1:1 through 3:2) In this way Jehovah called to the account of the Babylonians "their error" that they had committed against the God of Israel.—Jeremiah 25:12.

But does this mean that Jehovah held Babylon to account for executing his judgment against his people? Knowing what "their error" was will make it clear that that is not the case. The indications are that Nebuchadnezzar was extremely religious, building and beautifying the temples of numerous Babylonian deities. Particularly was he devoted to the worship of Marduk (or Merodach), the chief god of Babylon and likely a deified Nimrod. To him Nebuchadnezzar gave credit for his military victories. Trophies of war, including the sacred vessels of Jehovah's temple, appear to have been deposited in the temple of Marduk. (Ezra 1:7; 5:14) Says an inscription of Nebuchadnezzar: "For thy glory, O exalted MERODACH a house have I made. . . . May it receive within itself the abundant tribute of the Kings of nations and of all peoples!"—Records of the Past: Assyrian and Egyptian Monuments, London, 1875, Vol. V, p. 135. And it was these trophies of war from Jehovah's temple that were used by Belshazzar during his drunken party on the night of the Medo-Persian invasion.—Daniel 5:2-4.

Another "error" committed by Nebuchadnezzar was his golden image erected in the Plain of Dura, which may have been dedicated to Marduk. This image was designed to promote religious unity in the empire, including the exiled Jews to pressure them into rejecting Jehovah as the most high God. This led to the persecution of three of them, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.—Daniel 3.

Jehovah therefore declared:

"Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon has eaten me up; he has thrown me into confusion. He has set me as an empty vessel. He has swallowed me down like a big snake; he has filled his abdomen with my pleasant things. He has rinsed me away. ... Here I am conducting your legal case, and I shall certainly execute vengeance for you. And I will dry up her sea, and I will make her wells dry. And Babylon must become piles of stones, the lair of jackals, an object of astonishment and something to whistle at, without an inhabitant."—Jeremiah 51:34, 36, 37, NWT (see also verse 39 and Isaiah 13:18-22).

Thus, as declared in Jeremiah 25:12, Jehovah's judicial decision was to "make it desolate wastes to time indefinite" after the conclusion of the seventy years. When though, did this actually occur? As can be seen, Cyrus did not desolate Babylon when he conquered it. No, Babylon still existed for some time, but from 539 B.C.E. its glory began to fade as the city declined. While some critics try to prove that this verse applies to 539 B.C.E. only, the facts prove otherwise. Consider the following, in chronological order:

  1. Twice it revolted against the Persian emperor Darius I (Hystaspis), and on the second occasion it was dismantled.
  2. A partially restored city rebelled against Persian emperor Xerxes I and was plundered.
  3. Alexander the Great intended to make Babylon his capital, but he suddenly died in 323 B.C.E.
  4. Seleucus I Nicator conquered the city in 312 B.C.E. and transported much of its material to the banks of the Tigris for use in building his new capital of Seleucia.
  5. A settlement of Jews remained in early Christian times, giving the apostle Peter reason to visit Babylon, as noted in his letter.—1 Peter 5:13.
  6. Cuneiform texts found there show that Babylon's temple of Bel existed as late as 75 C.E.
  7. About the fourth century C.E., as reported by Jerome, the city appears to have passed out of existence. It became nothing more than "piles of stones."—Jeremiah 51:37.

Therefore, notwithstanding some recent, discontinued efforts at rebuilding parts of it, the desolate condition of Babylon today testifies to the fulfillment of Jeremiah 25:12. This verse could be read and understood the most naturally as:

"'And it must occur that when seventy years have been fulfilled [in 537 B.C.E.] I shall call to account [in 537 B.C.E.] against the king of Babylon [represented by Cyrus] and against that nation,' is the utterance of Jehovah, 'their error, even against the land of the Chaldeans, and I will make it desolate wastes to time indefinite [as fulfilled centuries after 537 B.C.E.].'"—Jeremiah 25:12, New World Translation.

If it was fulfilled in 539 B.C.E., notice what happens:

"'And it must occur that when seventy years have been fulfilled [in 539 B.C.E., seventy years prior being 609 B.C.E.] I shall call to account [in 539 B.C.E.] against the king of Babylon and against that nation,' is the utterance of Jehovah, 'their error, even against the land of the Chaldeans, and I will make it desolate wastes to time indefinite [unfulfilled as Cyrus used Babylon as his capital].'"—Jeremiah 25:12, New World Translation.

Since the fall of Babylon and the end of the Babylonian exile are not synchronized as the later ended in Cyrus' first regnal year, 539 B.C.E. does not fit, especially since Babylon was used as a capital city. Interestingly, in the secular chronology based on Ptolemy's canon, Nebuchadnezzar's first regnal year was 605 B.C.E., which is four years after the supposed starting year 609 B.C.E.! These glaring discrepancies forces 539 B.C.E. out of Jeremiah 25:12, as only 537 B.C.E. can be referred to. (See appendix article: The Babylonian Exile of the Jews – The Bible Versus the Traditional Chronology by Rolf Furuli.)

Indeed, Jeremiah 25:12 most emphatically applies to the fulfillment of desolation against Babylon after her fall in 539 B.C.E. and not on her fall.

(Adapted from: The Watchtower. November 1, 1965, pp. 662-3, September 15, 1979, pp. 23-4 and Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 1, pp. 237, 482)

Babylon today. The structures around the ruins reflect the Saddam Hussein administration's discontinued plans of rebuilding parts of it. The building on the hill to the left is a modern presidential palace.

Next article: The book "Revelation - Its Grand Climax at Hand" (published by the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society) states in the footnote on p. 105 that "research made it necessary to adjust B.C. 606 to 607 B.C.E." Critics allege that there was no such "research" and that there is "no evidence whatsoever for this new date." Is this true?

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