Timeline: Modern Jewish Return to Israel

The return of the Jews to modern Israel caps one prophetic story in the Bible. When was it to happen? What Bible year from Adam must we be in now? This article deals with these questions.


Contrary to much popular opinion the Bible contains a clear prediction of when the Jews would return to the modern nation of Israel. Our point here is to explore the dates behind that return.

This is the most important of the Gentile dates because until this event no other Bible dates can be known with certainty.

When Jesus told his disciples that not even He himself knew when he was coming back, and then told them to watch for the sign of the fig tree, he was revealing that this was the central event that had to be witnessed before any other End-Times dates could be known.

We are setting out to explore the predicted years of the Jewish return to modern Israel. These predicted years will be known on both the Bible’s calendar, the Temple Calendar, and in modern history. This will allow our first triangulation between Biblical years and Modern years.

Even without the accurate Temple Calendar, the return of the Jews to the modern nation of Israel will be shown to be accurate to within 0.04%. Once shown, we will reverse the process and define the relationship between the Biblical and modern calendars, eventually reducing the error to zero.

Not until we have the day-for-a-year map figured out can we narrow the alignment between the ancient Temple Calendar and the modern Gregorian calendar. At that point the precision of the alignment will go from year accuracy to day accuracy.

We look to Jesus, and his words about the return of the Jews to Israel, what He called the "Fig Tree Sign." He was referencing a story in Jeremiah, a story we look to next.

Good Figs, Bad Figs

Near the end of the time of the monarchy, God spoke a word through Jeremiah, the prophet. In that word God told Jeremiah that he was now going to be dealing favorably with those who went down to Babylon, not those who stayed in Jerusalem.

The following is the relevant passage.

1After Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah and the officials, the craftsmen and the artisans of Judah were carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the LORD showed me two baskets of figs placed in front of the temple of the LORD. 2One basket had very good figs, like those that ripen early; the other basket had very poor figs, so bad they could not be eaten. Jeremiah 24:1-23Then the LORD asked me, "What do you see, Jeremiah?" Jeremiah 24:3a"Figs," I answered. "The good ones are very good, but the poor ones are so bad they cannot be eaten." Jeremiah 24:3b4Then the word of the LORD came to me: 5"This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: `Like these good figs, I regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Babylonians. 6My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. 7I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart. Jeremiah 24:4-78"`But like the poor figs, which are so bad they cannot be eaten,' says the LORD, `so will I deal with Zedekiah king of Judah, his officials and the survivors from Jerusalem, whether they remain in this land or live in Egypt. 9I will make them abhorrent and an offense to all the kingdoms of the earth, a reproach and a byword, an object of ridicule and cursing, wherever I banish them. 10I will send the sword, famine and plague against them until they are destroyed from the land I gave to them and their fathers.'" Jeremiah 24:8-10 (Jeremiah 24:1-10 NIV)

In this passage the people of Judah are likened to figs, those who stay in Jerusalem as bad figs, those who go on to Babylon as good figs.

This may have seemed like a surprise, or harsh, to those who heard this word, indeed, various arguments were proposed to the prophets as to why God just did not work this way, but indeed, God’s plan was to send these people into exile in Babylon.


Because God keeps his word, and when he had given the Law to Moses on mount Sinai, he had said he would do this if they did not keep their side of God’s bargain with them.

Broken Law

When God had brought the children of Jacob out of Egypt, he began to form them into an independent country. Part of doing this was to give them a Law, directly from God, that was to govern how the nation was to be.

That Law consisted of 10 base rules, called the 10 commandments, that anyone could easily learn, followed by a canon of law that governed more intricate details of the country’s legal environment.

Jesus later summarized these laws as having two parts, 1) To love God, with all your heart, soul and mind. And 2) to love your neighbor as yourself.

If the nation kept the laws found in this canon, God would keep his part of an agreement he entered into with them at mount Sinai, and that was to watch over and protect them, and among other things to allow them to stay in the land, the land promised to Abraham on oath.

If they did not keep this law, then the nation would undergo punishment. The following is the relevant half chapter from Leviticus regarding the punishment they would undergo. Note the relevant chronological elements to this punishment are highlighted here in blue.

14"`But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, 15and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, 16then I will do this to you: I will bring upon you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and drain away your life. You will plant seed in vain, because your enemies will eat it. 17I will set my face against you so that you will be defeated by your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee even when no one is pursuing you. Leviticus 26:14-1718"`If after all this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins seven times over. 19I will break down your stubborn pride and make the sky above you like iron and the ground beneath you like bronze. 20Your strength will be spent in vain, because your soil will not yield its crops, nor will the trees of the land yield their fruit. Leviticus 26:18-2021"`If you remain hostile toward me and refuse to listen to me, I will multiply your afflictions seven times over, as your sins deserve. 22I will send wild animals against you, and they will rob you of your children, destroy your cattle and make you so few in number that your roads will be deserted. Leviticus 26:21-2223"`If in spite of these things you do not accept my correction but continue to be hostile toward me, 24I myself will be hostile toward you and will afflict you for your sins seven times over. 25And I will bring the sword upon you to avenge the breaking of the covenant. When you withdraw into your cities, I will send a plague among you, and you will be given into enemy hands. 26When I cut off your supply of bread, ten women will be able to bake your bread in one oven, and they will dole out the bread by weight. You will eat, but you will not be satisfied. Leviticus 26:23-2627"`If in spite of this you still do not listen to me but continue to be hostile toward me, 28then in my anger I will be hostile toward you, and I myself will punish you for your sins seven times over. 29You will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters. 30I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars and pile your dead bodies on the lifeless forms of your idols, and I will abhor you. 31I will turn your cities into ruins and lay waste your sanctuaries, and I will take no delight in the pleasing aroma of your offerings. 32I will lay waste the land, so that your enemies who live there will be appalled. 33I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins. 34Then the land will enjoy its sabbath years all the time that it lies desolate and you are in the country of your enemies; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths. 35All the time that it lies desolate, the land will have the rest it did not have during the sabbaths you lived in it. Leviticus 26:27-3536"`As for those of you who are left, I will make their hearts so fearful in the lands of their enemies that the sound of a windblown leaf will put them to flight. They will run as though fleeing from the sword, and they will fall, even though no one is pursuing them. 37They will stumble over one another as though fleeing from the sword, even though no one is pursuing them. So you will not be able to stand before your enemies. 38You will perish among the nations; the land of your enemies will devour you. 39Those of you who are left will waste away in the lands of their enemies because of their sins; also because of their fathers' sins they will waste away. Leviticus 26:36-39 (Leviticus 26:14-39 NIV)

This is the part of the law that was exercised against the Jews when Nebuchadnezzar broke through Jerusalem’s walls and burned the city to the ground.

Was God doing something against the people or the nation?

The nation. People who wanted to be under his blessings, who wanted to be "good figs" would need to go to Babylon. They could not stay in Jerusalem or its vicinity.

The picture of the Fig Tree is picked up by Jesus in the New Testament. He has more to say about what God is doing with this people more than 500 years later. We turn our attention now to the Fig Tree.

Parable of the Fig Tree

In response to an encounter with the chief priests and teachers of the law, Jesus used a fig tree to identify that these men were also figs, and that they would no longer bear any fruit. The following is the story.

12Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13"It is written," he said to them, "`My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it a `den of robbers.'" Matthew 21:12-1314The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they were indignant. Matthew 21:14-1516"Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked him. Matthew 21:16a"Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read, "`From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise'?" Matthew 21:16b17And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night. Matthew 21:1718Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" Immediately the tree withered. Matthew 21:18-1920When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. "How did the fig tree wither so quickly?" they asked. Matthew 21:2021Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, `Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. 22If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." Matthew 21:21-22 (Matthew 21:12-22 NIV)

This parable is a picture of what God is doing with the "fig tree", that from that day forward it would not bear fruit.

A new day was dawning in the affairs of God with mankind, and the fig tree would no longer bear fruit. Who was going to be bearing fruit? In a veiled reference, Jesus told us that "this mountain" so the place where one could come to meet with God, was going "into the sea" which is a word picture for the "nations" at large.

Unlike the word to Jeremiah, when God had intended to put his good figs in Babylon, now the tree of figs. So the Jewish religion would no longer bear any fruit at all. From Jeremiah’s word picture, only Babylon, would be bearing fruit. So, the gentile nations were to now bear fruit.

Paul, who wrote much of the new testament, has much to say about this same process, that the reason for this is so that Salvation can come to the Gentiles, (so the non-Jew) and Paul hoped for this process to lead to some of the Jews being saved.(Rom 11:1) If for no other reason, than because of shear envy.

God was about to start a new thing, and the fruit that the father longed for would not be found in the Jews. It would be found somewhere else, among the non-Jewish nations. "In the seas". But, the place of this fruit, it turns out, is not as important as the nature of this fruit.

In an encounter with the woman at the well, who was aware of a traditional argument that raged between Samaria and Jerusalem, as the place of true worship, Jesus explained what that fruit was.

19"Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet. 20Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem." John 4:19-2021Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." John 4:21-24 (John 4:19-24 NIV)

The temple system at Temple Mount in Jerusalem was no longer going to bear fruit for God. Fruit for God would come from those who worshiped him in Spirit and Truth. What Spirit? The Holy Spirit, which would be given in ever increasing amounts at Pentecost.(Acts 2:1)

Was this the end of the story? No more fruit from the Jews? Yes, but this is not the end of what Jesus had to say about the fig tree. In a much longer passage dealing with the end of the age, Jesus tells us something more about the fig tree, that it is the primary sign regarding the end of the age.

32"Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. 34I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Matthew 24:32-35 (Matthew 24:32-34 NIV)

What does it mean for a fig tree to bud? The end of the time away from Jerusalem, the start of which was in Jeremiah’s time, would herald the soon end of the age. In fact that set of events would encompass the life span of the people who are alive to see it.

The restoration of the Jews to the modern nation of Israel is the sign of the fig tree and the marker to be used regarding all other things surrounding the time at the end of the age.

How long?

If the Parable of the Fig Tree is a picture of the time that the Jews are away from their native land, and that time away was proscribed by the law, the exact length away from the land is probably also found in the law. As we looked at earlier, the relevant expression was "seven times". This was the period that would transpire before the kingdom would be allowed to return.

How long was that?

When the nation sent 12 spies to look over the land, the spies spent 40 days, the nation paid a price of 40 years, a day for a man being a year for the nation.(Num 14:34)

The passage in Leviticus gave the answer, using the same formula, only it is saying that instead of 40 days as the reference base for punishment, the reference base is the number of days in "seven times" or "seven years". That number of days, at the rate of one day per year, is the number of years they would be away from their land.

Understand what that time interval means. If the spies had been in the land 10 weeks the nation would have been punished 70 years. If the spies had been spying 6 months, the nation would have been punished 180 years. If the spies had taken 1 year, the punishment for the nation? 360 years. In this case the punishment is for "seven times", suggesting 7 years of spying, or sinning, and also suggesting 2550 years of punishment.

We compute this number of years by looking at the number of days found in seven years on a calendar. Recall that the shape of the calendar was 6 common years of 360 days, plus a Sabbath year of 390 days, so (360 * 6) + 390 = 2550 days are in "seven times". But, since the nation is being punished, not a person, this period is not 2550 days, but 2550 years.

Support from the Book of Daniel

Note that this formula is seen again in the Book of Daniel. King Nebuchadnezzar starts ruling the Jews, through his vassal, Jehoiakim. Once he is the ultimate earthly king over the Jews, he starts having dreams from God, regarding this same 7 year formula.(Dan 4:23) In this case since the king is a man, he spends 7 years eating grass, away from his royal residence and court. But, since the Jews are not a man, but a nation, it will play out just like in the wilderness of Sinai, one year for each of these days, or 2550 years.

Support from the Book of Ezekiel

This formula is also found in Ezekiel, where the prophet is told to lie on his side, 390 days, one day for each of the years of the sins of Israel, and then 40 days, one day for each of the years of the sins of Judah. With Ezekiel day is equivalent to one year for the country. (Ezek 4:5-10)

End of Punishment

In all these cases, as with the original passage in Leviticus, this was a temporary punishment period for the nation, and it would come to an end at the appointed time.

This is the time Jesus said to be watching for. It is both a sign that we are a generation from the end of the entire "age" itself, and that many other events recorded in the Bible are about to take place.

Why did Jesus say to look for this sign, rather than, say, looking for a date? Because even in Jesus’ time, the distance in time from his time to the end of the Jew’s biblical chronology was not accurately known. Reconstruction of the calendar and placement on the calendar was the only way to get down to day accuracy, which is what you’re currently reading through how to do.

The date of the departure to Babylon is hard to establish, what, of all the events of last 10 years of the Jewish kingdom, is the one we should use for the date?

For a first pass, and so we can check that our work is not totally departed from tradition, we turn our attention now to a rough cut.

A Rough Cut at Timing the Return

God did not drive out the Jews from their land in one day, in fact we have already mentioned that the first attack from Babylon happened in 10390 AA and that the city finally fell in 10409 AA. This spanned a period of 20 years.

This same 20 year period was following the 20 year pattern it took to gain independence from Israel (10000 AA through 10019 AA).

We would expect that at this end of the age, the same pattern would repeat, with 20 years being taken to restore the Jews to their ancient lands.

Consider that the Jews began the process of restoration to their ancient lands in 1948 NS, and it was more or less complete by mid 1967 NS with their taking over of the old city of Jerusalem in the 6 Day War. 1948 NS + 20 - 1 = 1967 NS, or 20 years.

Most study bibles place the fall of Jerusalem sometime around 585 BC, on our modern calendar, without a year zero. 585 BC + 2550 + 1 for the missing zero, is 1966 NS. This is off by 1 year, or 1 part in 2550 years. Expressed as a percent, this is only off by 0.04%. Not a bad approximation of what God said he was going to do. Twenty years earlier on both ends works the right direction too, 1947 NS at this end, 605 BC or so at the ancient end.

The modern solar year can also be used for this approximation, ( 365 * 7) + 1 = 2556, which avoids the issue of biblical calendar, but puts the error at the up-side, with 585 BC as the start year, the ending year is now six years later, 1972 NS. Not quite as close to actual as with the biblical year, but OK for certain uses. This is still 6 parts in 2550, or about 0.24% error, again, not bad at all. Even a 2% error would be a great answer, and that would be a 51 year error.

Sources Of Error

The error in this approximation comes from two areas, first, the use of the right calendar, the modern Solar calendar of about 365.25 days per year will also work in this approximation, especially when sharing with groups not versed in issues of calendar. The other source of error comes at the start. Those dates in the study bibles are themselves not in agreement, nor are they particularly accurate. God, we presume, kept his word. Mankind just has not tracked it well.

We now turn our attention to turning this formula upside down, and using it to define the chronological relationship between the biblical times and the present. In other words, to drive the error to 0.0%.

Details of Getting the Date of the Return to Jerusalem Right

We previously looked at the approximate alignment between the ancient dates and the modern dates corresponding to the loss and of restoration of Jerusalem to the Jews. We want to look at this again, but with a higher degree of accuracy and we want to define the calendar relationship between the present and the biblical account through the results of our study.

Note that there is no way this could be done until after this sign had actually happened in world history. This is important. This is why Jesus said to watch for this particular sign. Once we have seen it happen, we can begin to unlock many, many, other prophesies which are based within the calendar.

What this approach does is rely on God’s keeping his promise, to do exactly what he said he would do, to the exact year he said he was going to do it. When we rely this way on God, we can squash out tolerance errors from the mixed up calendars of the early Roman period and squash out reporting errors from the historians who wrote their reports in an era without the precise scientific bent of today.

There are various candidate events within the 20 year fall and the 20 year return of the Jews to modern Israel. The "right choice" is hard to be certain of at this point in the story. It will gather strength as more and more collateral dates fall in line.

Our choice here for tracking this time is going to be king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The reason for this choice is many sided. This king was the first Gentile king over the Jews since Pharaoh had ruled the nation before the time of the Exodus. The issue of Gentile rule pervades the New Testament text which deals with this issue, as we saw, the "mountain into the seas" was Jesus’ word picture for this, the first time this happened was when Jehoiakim becomes king Nebuchadnezzar’s vassal.

As we have already shown, Nebuchadnezzar’s first year of rule over Judah was 10391 AA. If God kept his promise, to the year, the last year of Gentile rule over the kingdom of Judah would be the 2550th year after this year, or 10391 AA + 2550 - 1 = 12940 AA.

This time around, unlike the rough cut, we are going to define, that the last year of Gentile rule over the kingdom of Judah must be the year 12940 AA. Note that Nebuchadnezzar had attacked the year before and taken some captives to Babylon, including the Prophet Daniel. So we would look for the Jews of Israel attacking something or someone a year earlier too, in 12939 AA.

Since Nebuchadnezzar was messing around like this in the affairs of the Jews, his working rule probably started late in the year 10390 AA, so the year 12940 AA is also probably not a full year, loosing as many days as were granted at the end of 10390 AA.

When we look at the history of the modern nation of Israel, our two candidate modern years for the year 12940 AA are 1948 NS and 1949 NS. 1948 NS is interesting because it was May 14, 1948 NS that the state was declared.

More so than 1948 NS, the modern year 1949 NS has more interesting events:

  • It was in 1949 NS that the first Israeli elections where held, with 440,000 voters, indicating national sovereignty.

  • It was in 1949 NS that Israel was admitted to the United Nations.

  • It was in 1949 NS when the armistice agreements were signed between the combatants in the war of independence.

The year we are going to pick for our purposes here is 1949 NS. So that the year 1949 NS on the modern Gregorian calendar is roughly aligned with the year 12940 AA. This choice also aligns the year we’d expect the Jews to attack something or someone for independence to be the events of 1948 NS or 12939 AA.

This assertion still has some tolerance issues that we need to address, the biggest source is the difference in lengths between the modern Gregorian calendar and the biblical calendar. We don’t know if the year 1949 NS overlaps in any meaningful way with 12940 AA.

If 1949 NS is 12940 AA, then we can also make general claims about each successive year. The following charts the relationship for every ten years from this point in history through the early part of the 21st century.

Modern Year Biblical Year
1949 NS 12940 AA
1959 NS 12950 AA
1969 NS 12960 AA
1979 NS 12970 AA
1989 NS 12980 AA
1999 NS 12990 AA
2009 NS 13000 AA
2019 NS 13010 AA
2029 NS 13020 AA
2039 NS 13040 AA

For millennium buffs, recall that Adam’s first year is 1 AA, so the end of Adam’s first century was 100 AA. All centuries and thus all millenniums end after a year ending in ’00, so, the millennium at our part of the age ends at the end of the year 13000 AA, or at roughly the end of the year 2009 NS on the Gregorian calendar. The year 2010 NS is the start of a new millennium on God’s calendar, starting with Adam, and also, starting with the Exodus from Egypt, the first year out being 9501 AA.

This choice of year alignment has some supporting details which we turn our attention to now.

Support For Our 1949 NS = 12940 AA choice

There are other events in the fall of the kingdom of Judah which have specific years recorded for them. They also have repetitions 2550 years later with the restoration of the nation.

Note that by choosing 12940 AA to be 1949 NS, it makes 1950 NS as the first full year of Israeli sovereignty, this is unusual by modern standards, but it fits the biblical pattern we have been following all along.

The most interesting supporting set of dates are the various captive groups recorded in Jeremiah.

In the 7th year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign he hauled 3023 people to Babylon.(Jer 52:28-57) The 7th full year of the modern nation of Israel’s sovereign reign, 1956 NS, a war was fought. Do these two align?


These people probably did not leave for Babylon voluntarily, it was probably the result of a military operation of some sort. Ditto, the Arab-Israeli war of 1956 NS.

Similarly, in the 18th year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign he hauled away 832 people. The 18th full year of Israel’s sovereignty is 1967 NS, the year of the Six Day War.

Strangely, Jeremiah records a 3rd wave of refugees in the 23rd year which does not align with a specific war. The 23rd year would be 1972 NS, and it was not until late in 1973 NS that Israel fought the Yom Kippur War. This one is interesting because the surprise attack on Israel’s highest holy day was warned about by the leader of Egypt for at least a year.

This last case is special, either indicating that we have some math error, or that there is something else going on. We’ll need to wait until much later in the story to explain why the delay before this war started.


The choice of modern year to ancient year mapping has some conflicts that need some elaboration. The most troubling of these is the date of the fall of Jerusalem. This is given to us explicitly as the 11th year, 4th month, 9th day of the reign of Zedekiah,(Jer 39:1) (Jer 52:5) which is 10409-04-09 AA.

If we take this date forward by 2550 years exactly, we get the date 10409-04-09 AA + 2550 = 12959-09-04 AA, which for our purposes here is just the year 12959 AA, or 1968 NS on the table we developed earlier.

This is a year after the Israeli army took the old city of Jerusalem in 1967 NS.

We are also told that the siege starts in Zedekiah’s 9th, year, 10th month, and 10th day.(Jer 39:1) (Jer 52:4) As a date this is 10407-10-10 AA. The 2550th anniversary of this date is 12957-10-10 AA. For our purposes here the year in question maps to 1966 NS, a year earlier than Israel actually took Jerusalem back.

These two events appear to be a straddle around an indicated year of 12958 AA or 1967 NS. Each off by one year on either side of the indicated year, 1967 NS.

Why would this be so? Because the technology of war appears to have changed, the time it took then was about a year and a half. In 1967 NS it took less than a week, to take not only Jerusalem, but the rest of the west bank lands.

Since they are each off by one year in the wrong direction, we will assume that they cancel each other out, at least for our purposes in establishing the year we should be choosing as aligning with ancient years.


This article shows how to roughly line up ancient years to modern years. Is it possible to narrow the spread? Getting a day accurate alignment? Of course. We turn to that problem next.