Timeline: Seventy Year Captivity

The use of king’s reigns to establish dates ends at the fall of Jerusalem. For 70 years the city sat empty. At the end of this period a remnant of Jews returns and rebuilds the temple and wall. This chronology can be established using Bible time references alone and shows the second temple going up 500 years after Solomon’s temple.

Background

The year after the fall of Jerusalem, the kingdom of Judah entered a period of 70 years of captivity in Babylon. When it was over, a remnant was allowed to return to Jerusalem, to rebuild the city and the temple.

This period was given prophetically through the prophet Jeremiah.

11And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. Jeremiah 25:11 KJV

11This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. Jeremiah 25:11 NIV

This period of seventy years was for Judah, and the nations near her, as Nebuchadnezzar was taking over most of the known world.

What would the first year of this period of 70 years be? The first year after the fall of Jerusalem, or 10410 AA. What would the last year of this 70 year period be? Year 70 from there or 10410 AA + 70 - 1 = 10479 AA.

To confirm that is what happened, and push slightly farther past this point, Ezra brings many of the people back to Jerusalem. His journey is in the 7th year of Artaxerxes. We don’t have specific clues that this king is the natural follower of Nebuchadnezzar, but Ezra does some things which confirm that these years count from the first year after the 70 foretold by Jeremiah.

When Ezra’s band had arrived in Jerusalem, in the 5th month of this 7th year he rests for 3 days, counts out the Gold assigned the men before departure from Babylon, then he proceeds to offer sacrifice. 96 rams, 77 male lambs, and 12 male goats.[1]

This sacrifice is happening at the rate of 1 ram/year that Nebuchadnezzar’s house has ruled Jerusalem. This is 1 ram/year for the years 10391 AA + 96 - 1 = 10486 AA. The 77 male lambs are sacrificed at the rate of 1 male lamb/year for each of the 70 years of exile and the 7 years until Ezra arrived and performed this sacrifice. These 77 are for years 10410 AA + 77 - 1 = 10486 AA.

The year this sacrifice takes place, 10486 AA, is the 7th year [2] after this new time in the kingdom of Judah’s history indicating year 1 of this period was in the year 10486 AA - 7 + 1 = 10480 AA, the year after the end of the 70 years of captivity.

Wall Dates.

Interestingly, the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem itself, instead of just the temple, happens in the 20th year of this period,[3] or 10480 AA + 20 - 1 = 10499 AA. This is preparation a dedication in the next year, a year before the 1000th year from the Exodus. 9501 AA + 1000 = 10501 AA

This period of 20 years lands before the second 10-fold Jubilee from the Exodus. It follows a long pattern of 10-fold Jubilee events dealing with "houses of God" being built, named, or experienced on the 10-fold (500 year) Jubilees.

Summary

This article gives the timing of the return to Jerusalem from Babylon. This is as far as can be done directly using Old Testament texts. There is still more prophetic time to be understood, especially New Testament dates. To compute those dates we must first sync the calendar, day accurately, to the Bible's calendar. We turn to that problem next.



1. Ezra 8:35
2. Ezra 7:7
3. Nehemiah 2:1