Series: Thru the Bible
Message: Daniel and 70 years of Captivity
Daniel and 70 years of Captivity
“(1) In the first year of Darius son of Ahasuerus, who was of Median descent and who had been appointed king over the Babylonian empire – (2) in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, came to understand from the sacred books that the number of years for the fulfilling of the desolation of Jerusalem, which had come as the LORD’s message to the prophet Jeremiah, would be 70 years. [Jeremiah 25:8-12]
(3) So I turned my attention to the Lord God to implore Him by prayer and requests, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.”
This is because Daniel knew that God offered a promise to Israel if in their captivity they would cry out in repentance towards Him. We will read that in a little while, but it explains why this passage says,“SO I TURNED MY ATTENTION TO IMPLORE BY PRAYER”.
“(4) I prayed to the LORD my God, confessing in this way:
“O Lord, great and awesome God Who is faithful to His covenant with those who love Him and keep His commandments, (5) we have sinned!
We have done what is wrong and wicked; we have rebelled by turning away from Your commandments and standards. (6) We have not paid attention to Your servants the prophets, who spoke by Your authority to our kings, our leaders, and our ancestors, and to all the inhabitants of the land as well.
(7) “You are righteous, O Lord, but we are humiliated this day – the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far away in all the countries in which You have scattered them, because they have behaved unfaithfully toward You.
(8) O LORD, we have been humiliated – our kings, our leaders, and our ancestors – because we have sinned against You.
(9) Yet the Lord our God is compassionate and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against Him. (10) We have not obeyed the LORD our God by living according to His laws that He set before us through His servants the prophets.
(11) “All Israel has broken Your law and turned away by not obeying You. Therefore You have poured out on us the judgment solemnly threatened in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against You. (12) He has carried out His threats against us and our rulers who were over us by bringing great calamity on us – what has happened to Jerusalem has never been equaled under all heaven!
(13) Just as it is written in the law of Moses, so all this calamity has come on us. Still we have not tried to pacify the LORD our God by turning back from our sin and by seeking wisdom from Your reliable moral standards.
(14) The LORD was mindful of the calamity, and He brought it on us. For the LORD our God is just in all He has done, and we have not obeyed Him.
(15) “Now, O Lord our God, Who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with great power and made a name for Yourself that is remembered to this day – we have sinned and behaved wickedly.
(16) O Lord, according to all Your justice, please turn Your raging anger away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain.
For due to our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors, Jerusalem and Your people are mocked by all our neighbors.
(17) “So now, our God, accept the prayer and requests of Your servant, and show favor to Your devastated sanctuary for Your Own sake.
(18) Listen attentively, my God, and hear! Open Your eyes and look on our desolated ruins and the city called by Your name. For it is not because of our own righteous deeds that we are praying to You, but because Your compassion is abundant.
(19) O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, pay attention, and act! Don’t delay, for Your Own sake, O my God! For Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”
(20) While I was still speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and presenting my request before the LORD my God concerning His holy mountain – (21) yes, while I was still praying, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen previously in a vision, was approaching me in my state of extreme weariness, around the time of the evening offering.
(22) He spoke with me, instructing me as follows:
“Daniel, I have now come to impart understanding to you. (23) At the beginning of your requests a message went out, and I have come to convey it to you, for you are of great value in God’s sight.”
Up to this point we have exclusively been dealing with the somewhat straightforward 70 year Babylonian captivity of Israel. I say “somewhat” because the math is actually a little difficult for a non-Jew, 2,600 years later to figure out, but NOT impossible and I will address that as we progress.
However, from this point on in this chapter Gabriel is having TWO discussions with Daniel. One in which a rather direct answer is given to his natural prayer regarding Israel’s immediate captivity in Babylon. However there was a question BEHIND that question which I have been suggesting to you for weeks. It is one which Daniel himself would not have known how to formulate into a direct question, but it was clearly bothering him nonetheless. We will deal with these secondary issues next week.
This chapter makes it clear that Daniel decided to read up on what God had said regarding Israel’s current captivity in Babylon through His prophets – including Jeremiah and Isaiah.
In doing so he discovered that there were going to be 70 years to Israel’s captivity. This Gabriel confirmed, but then he went on to discuss another captivity and another date of deliverance – but these were spiritual in nature. We will address all of that after we read the rest of the chapter.
For now, let’s deal with this first half which has to do with the 70 year captivity of Israel to Babylon.
I don’t know if you remember, but in typical fashion, the words and warnings of prophets are rarely heeded in Israel and Jeremiah’s words and warnings were treated no differently.
“(1) This is the word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah (which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon).
(2) The prophet Jeremiah spoke concerning all the people of Judah and all the residents of Jerusalem as follows:
(3) “From the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon, king of Judah, until this very day–23 years–the word of the LORD has come to me, and I have spoken to you time and time again, but you have not obeyed.
(4) The LORD sent all His servants the prophets to you time and time again, but you have not obeyed or even paid attention.
(5) He announced, ‘Turn, each of you, from your evil way of life and from your evil deeds. Live in the land the LORD gave to you and your ancestors for ever and ever.
(6) Do not follow other gods to serve them and to worship them, and do not provoke Me to anger by the work of your hands. Then I will do you no harm.
(7) “‘But you would not obey Me’–this is the LORD’s declaration–‘in order that you might provoke Me to anger by the work of your hands and bring disaster on yourselves.’
(8) “Therefore, this is what the LORD of Hosts says:
‘Because you have not obeyed My words, (9) I am going to send for all the families of the north’–this is the LORD’s declaration–‘and send for My servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and I will bring them against this land, against its residents, and against all these surrounding nations, and I will completely destroy them and make them a desolation, a derision, and ruins forever.
(10) I will eliminate the sound of joy and gladness from them–the voice of the bridegroom and the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp.
(11) This whole land will become a desolate ruin, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon for 70 years.
(12) When the 70 years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation’–this is the LORD’s declaration–‘the land of the Chaldeans, for their guilt, and I will make it a ruin forever.
(13) I will bring on that land all My words I have spoken against it, all that is written in this book that Jeremiah prophesied against all the nations. (14) For many nations and great kings will enslave them, and I will repay them according to their deeds and the work of their hands.’”
Jeremiah had told Israel’s kings what they did not want to hear. God was sending them into Babylonian captivity. Furthermore, by the impress of the Spirit, Jeremiah encouraged them NOT to resist but to comply with this exile since to resist would be to further rebel against God’s judgment.
Now the study of this was a little helpful for me because I’ve always wondered why we sometimes pray about things God said He was going to do. By which I mean, if He’s gone on record that He is GOING to do something at a specified time, then He will watch over His Own word and keep it. He doesn’t need me to remind Him and God will not lie – so He’s going to do what He said whether I pray or not.
So why pray?
Well, in the end, Daniel’s prayers may OR may not have had any impact on the fact of or the timing of Israel’s deliverance, but it did mark a time in which someone in Israel was drawing into a discussion with God.
Daniel here was repenting and seeking God’s favor and that always has significance!
Because Israel was not taken into Babylonian captivity all at once, but rather in 3 distinct events – it is somewhat ambiguous as to “WHEN” the 70 years of exile began.
Way back in November of last year, I gave you all handouts which would help you here as well.
You may remember how after the death of the good King Josiah in 609 BC, his son Jehoahaz became king in his place. His reign didn’t last a year before his brother Jehoiakim replaced him and he reigned for a little over 10 years, that is until 598 BC. Then Jeconiah reigned for one year following that and was replaced by King Zedekiah who we read about throughout most of the book of Jeremiah.
The first deportation of Israel began during the reign of King Jehoiakim in 605 BC. This is recorded in Jeremiah 34-39, 2 Kings 24-25, 2 Chron. 36. This was the deportation in which Daniel and his three friends were taken.
This first deportation began BEFORE Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed in 586 BC.
Nebuchadnezzar was technically not even in power at this point. Nebuchadnezzar had gone to deal with the Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt at Carchemish, but while there he heard that his father King Nabopolassar was near death, so he rushed back to Babylon for his ascension.
On the way, Nebuchadnezzar stopped by Judah and took some of the elite of them captive. This may have been made easier due to Judah’s bad relations with Necho II, the current Pharaoh of Egypt. They had been paying tribute to Egypt for some time, and Judah’s current king had been placed there by Egypt. So the fact that Egypt was being conquered by Babylon, placed all who were in some form of subjugation to them, in a vulnerable and weak position.
According to Guzik,
“This specific attack is documented by the Babylonian Chronicles, a collection of tablets discovered as early as 1887, held in the British Museum. In them, Nebuchadnezzar’s 605 B.C. presence in Judah is documented and clarified. When the Babylonian chronicles were finally published in 1956, they gave us first-rate, detailed political and military information about the first 10 years of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign.
Excavations also document the victory of Nebuchadnezzar over the Egyptians at Carchemish in May or June of 605 B.C. Archaeologists found evidences of battle, vast quantities of arrowheads, layers of ash, and a shield of a Greek mercenary fighting for the Egyptians.”
Later, in 597 BC during King Jehoiachin’s reign, King Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem and the king surrendered. The account we have of this is found in 2 Kings 24:10-20,
“(10) At that time the generals of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon marched to Jerusalem and besieged the city. (11) King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to the city while his generals were besieging it. (12) King Jehoiachin of Judah, along with his mother, his servants, his officials, and his eunuchs surrendered to the king of Babylon.
The king of Babylon, in the eighth year of his reign, took Jehoiachin prisoner.
(13) Nebuchadnezzar took from there all the riches in the treasuries of the LORD’s temple and of the royal palace. He removed all the gold items which King Solomon of Israel had made for the LORD’s temple, just as the LORD had warned.”
You may remember that this “warning” was from Isaiah who confronted King Hezekiah about who had visited him.
Hezekiah told Isaiah it was the King of Babylon and that he had shown him EVERYTHING – even his personal treasury and that of the Temple.
Isaiah’s prophetic response was that all of that gold would be one day carried off by the king of Babylon. [See 2Kings 20:12-21]
2 Kings 24…
“(14) He deported all the residents of Jerusalem, including all the officials and all the soldiers (10,000 people in all). This included all the craftsmen and those who worked with metal. No one was left except for the poorest among the people of the land. (15) He deported Jehoiachin from Jerusalem to Babylon, along with the king’s mother and wives, his eunuchs, and the high-ranking officials of the land. (16)
The king of Babylon deported to Babylon all the soldiers (there were 7,000), as well as 1,000 craftsmen and metal workers. This included all the best warriors.
(17) The king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in Jehoiachin’s place. He renamed him Zedekiah.
(18) Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he ruled for eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah, from Libnah. (19) He did evil in the sight of the LORD, as Jehoiakim had done.
(20) What follows is a record of what happened to Jerusalem and Judah because of the LORD’s anger; he finally threw them out of His presence. Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.”
This second deportation included the prophet & priest Ezekiel, who later wrote the book of Ezekiel. We will read about that later, for it contains a key passage regarding this exile.
Judah continued to exist as a type of vassal state under Babylonian rule with King Zedekiah installed in Jerusalem as its puppet king.
Then 11 years later in 586 BC, which was the 18th year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Judah rebelled against Babylon.
You may remember this because this whole time Jeremiah had been warning Israel’s king Zedekiah NOT to resist Nebuchadnezzar, but to submit to him because it was the judgment of God.
We read about this in Jeremiah 32:1-5,
“(1) In the tenth year that Zedekiah was ruling over Judah the LORD spoke to Jeremiah. That was the same as the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar.
(2) Now at that time, the armies of the king of Babylon were besieging Jerusalem.
The prophet Jeremiah was confined in the courtyard of the guardhouse attached to the royal palace of Judah. (3) For King Zedekiah had confined Jeremiah there after he had reproved him for prophesying as he did.
He had asked Jeremiah, “Why do you keep prophesying these things? Why do you keep saying that the LORD says, ‘I will hand this city over to the king of Babylon? I will let him capture it. (4) King Zedekiah of Judah will not escape from the Babylonians. He will certainly be handed over to the king of Babylon. He must answer personally to the king of Babylon and confront him face to face. (5) Zedekiah will be carried off to Babylon and will remain there until I have fully dealt with him. I, the LORD, affirm it! Even if you continue to fight against the Babylonians, you cannot win.’”
Zedekiah was an evil king and rebelled not only against Nebuchadnezzar, but also God Himself.
2 Kings 25:1-6 says,
“(1) So King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came against Jerusalem with his whole army and set up camp outside it. They built siege ramps all around it. He arrived on the tenth day of the tenth month in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign.
(2) The city remained under siege until King Zedekiah’s eleventh year. (3) By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine in the city was so severe the residents had no food.
(4) The enemy broke through the city walls, and all the soldiers tried to escape. They left the city during the night. They went through the gate between the two walls that is near the king’s garden. (The Babylonians were all around the city.)
Then they headed for the rift valley. (5) But the Babylonian army chased after the king. They caught up with him in the rift valley plains of Jericho, and his entire army deserted him. (6) They captured the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, where he passed sentence on him.”
So we have three deportations…
605 BC – Wherein only a small portion of the population were taken, but it included many of the young elite – including Daniel and his 3 friends.
597 BC – Many people as well as all the gold and items of the temple were taken.
586 BC – Most of the remaining Israelites were taken except some poor people who were left and given fields and vineyards. Jerusalem itself and the Temple were destroyed.Jer. 52:12-16,
“(12) On the tenth day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, Nebuzaradan, the captain of the royal guard who served the king of Babylon, arrived in Jerusalem. (13) He burned down the LORD’s temple, the royal palace, and all the houses in Jerusalem, including every large house. (14) The whole Babylonian army that came with the captain of the royal guard tore down the walls that surrounded Jerusalem. (15) Nebuzaradan, the captain of the royal guard, took into exile some of the poor, the rest of the people who remained in the city, those who had deserted to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the craftsmen. (16) But he left behind some of the poor and gave them fields and vineyards.”
So the question Daniel faced and which we face is determining which of these three deportations was the beginning of the 70 years of exile?
Now, God is the most brilliant of all mathematicians and could work this out any way He desired and perhaps it is HERE that Daniel’s praying both when and how he did that, the decision was made, for theoretically, God could have chosen any of these as the starting point of the exile.
One takeaway I believe from this study is that while Daniel did in fact pray, he did so AFTER he had done his homework.
This chapter tells us that he searched the prophecies to see if he could determine the answer before he prayed.
Though an answer to this question was very important to Daniel, it was NOT all he sought to do in prayer. Daniel was a godly man and desired to repent for Israel and any part he played as a young man back in Judah which may have contributed to such an offense against God and its subsequent judgment.
Looking back, with the benefits of history we can identify which of the three deportations marked the beginning of the exile, because we have a piece of information Daniel didn’t – we know the actual date their exile ended.
As such, we are beginning our problem with the answer he was seeking. Even at that however, our investigation is NOT without its difficulties as I mentioned earlier.
It is a point upon which history is rather well agreed upon that the captivity of Israel to Babylon ended in 538 BC and that Cyrus the Great allowed the Israelites to return to Jerusalem in 537 BC – thus ending their captivity.
The difficulty is in determining which of the three start dates is the right one.
You might think well, just subtract just add 70 to 537 BC and there you have it!
Well, that would be 607 BC and we know the earliest date for their exile began in 605 BC. A starting date of 605 BC would reduce the exile to 68 years, not 70, and the problem only gets worse if you assume 597 BC as your starting date. So you see the problem!
Now let me introduce two other components of this problem which impact the conclusion.
It is a matter of Trust
Israel was going into exile for a reason. The general reason was sin, of course, but behind that was the real issue.
We have learned over the years to view scripture, God’s character and His demands upon us in relational terms.
Sin is also relational in that it is a breach of trust. Every sin finds its root in self-protection or self-provision which in turn finds its root in not trusting that God is enough.
When we trust that God is enough we are finally at rest, which is where God intended us to live.
So all of the sins of Israel can be boiled down to a failure to rest in God.
This “rest” was most specifically illustrated in God’s requirement that Israel trust in the Lord in regard to their land.
While sin in Israel took many different expressions – ALL OF THEM – EVERY TIME – WITHOUT FAIL – found it’s more poignant expression in their failure to observe the Lord’s Sabbaths.
You remember that food was the very first thing God asked Israel to trust Him regarding when He fed them with manna in the wilderness.
To Israel the food was not just food, it was provision. So to trust God in this was to trust Him where they felt the most vulnerable – and they failed!
On the day God hallowed FROM THE BEGINNING – the Sabbath day, God told Israel NOT to go out and gather, but to gather twice as much on the previous day. He would see to it that there was plenty and that on the Sabbath day the manna would not be spoiled.
Of course they did not trust Him, but attempted to provide for themselves. They would NOT rest!
The word Sabbath simply means – to cease.
We know this finds its ultimate expression in Christ Who is our rest. When we enter into Him, we stop our striving and enter into rest which is a result of trust. The VERY thing we forsook in the garden!
So, with this in mind, God VERY EARLY ON in Israel’s relationship with Him, commanded them to give the land a sabbath rest.
Since the promised land was a type or symbol of entering into the Kingdom of God under the New Covenant, this rest – though being used symbolically – was VERY VERY important!
It was as important as the Rock Moses struck twice.
That Rock represented Christ and the striking of it symbolized His crucifixion and the RIVER of eternal life his death would provide. So in Moses striking the Rock twice, he destroyed the image it represented and presented Christ as having to die more than once to give eternal life.
So not observing the rest of the land was a type of focal point, representing the culmination and underlying root behind all of Israel’s sins.
So, as I said, God told Israel early on that when they failed to observe the sabbath rest for the land, He would eventually send them into captivity. One year of captivity for every sabbath rest they failed to give the land.
Let’s read about that…Lev. 26:27-46,
“‘If in spite of this you do not obey me but walk in hostility against Me,
[same wording used in James as a warning to the church – James 4:4]
(28) I will walk in hostile rage against you and I Myself will also discipline you seven times on account of your sins. (29) You will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters. (30) I will destroy your high places and cut down your incense altars, and I will stack your dead bodies on top of the lifeless bodies of your idols. I will abhor you. (31) I will lay your cities waste and make your sanctuaries desolate, and I will refuse to smell your soothing aromas. (32) I Myself will make the land desolate and your enemies who live in it will be appalled. (33) I will scatter you among the nations and unsheathe the sword after you, so your land will become desolate and your cities will become a waste. (34) “‘Then the land will make up for its Sabbaths all the days it lies desolate while you are in the land of your enemies; then the land will rest and make up its Sabbaths. (35) All the days of the desolation it will have the rest it did not have on your Sabbaths when you lived on it. (36) “‘As for the ones who remain among you, I will bring despair into their hearts in the lands of their enemies. The sound of a blowing leaf will pursue them, and they will flee as one who flees the sword and fall down even though there is no pursuer. (37) They will stumble over each other as those who flee before a sword, though there is no pursuer, and there will be no one to take a stand for you before your enemies. (38) You will perish among the nations; the land of your enemies will consume you. (39) “‘As for the ones who remain among you, they will rot away because of their iniquity in the lands of your enemies, and they will also rot away because of their ancestors’ iniquities which are with them. (40) However, when they confess their iniquity and their ancestors’ iniquity which they committed by trespassing against Me, by which they also walked in hostility against Me (41) (and I Myself will walk in hostility against them and bring them into the land of their enemies), and then their uncircumcised hearts become humbled and they make up for their iniquity, (42) I will remember my covenant with Jacob and also my covenant with Isaac and also my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. (43) The land will be abandoned by them in order that it may make up for its Sabbaths while it is made desolate without them, and they will make up for their iniquity because they have rejected My regulations and have abhorred My statutes. (44) In spite of this, however, when they are in the land of their enemies I will not reject them and abhor them to make a complete end of them, to break My covenant with them, for I am the LORD their God. (45) I will remember for them the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out from the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am the LORD. (46) These are the statutes, regulations, and instructions which the LORD established between Himself and the Israelites at Mount Sinai through Moses.”
Then God confirmed that was the focal point of the Babylonian captivity in 2 Chronicles 36:20-21 (ESV),
“(20) He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, (21) to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.”
So the Sabbath year’s rest for the land was one of the two major pieces to this puzzle.
The other is the differences between the way WE mark time on our modern Gregorian calendars and the way the Jewish people marked time in their lunarsolar calendar AS WELL AS their tendency to employ what is known as inclusive counting.
Now taking you through this step-by-step would be tedious and in the end probably unfruitful since without the benefit of handouts and visualizations you would get lost, so I am going to streamline this for you.
The Jewish people had two calendars – one which was the “civil” year which began in Autumn and the other was a sacred calendar which began in spring. Theirs was a lunisolar calendar. This basically means that the days are measured by the phases of the moon and the year by the sun.
As history unfolded there was added a leap month at the end of every 19th year to compensate for calendar drift – but this is not mentioned in scripture. Nowhere in scripture does it designate a certain length of days for the months.
Just like in our calendar system, we add a day to February about every 4 years to compensate for drift, because in all reality a real – actual day is as defined by one complete revolution of the earth on its axis is actually 23 hours 56 minutes and 4 seconds (and it is getting a little slower each year due to entropy).
In like manner, our solar year – if we were to technically go by one complete actual revolution of the earth around the sun, a year would be 365.2425 days.
So if you are only accounting for 365 – then every 4 years you are going to lose a full day, so we add leap year to compensate for this.
However, if the ancient Hebrew calendar were observed to the letter the way God described it – observing both lunar phases and harvests for the changing of months – then it is very likely that this drift would take care of itself. While it may not be “technically” – a year by our modern definition, it would most likely keep the calendar in balance and compensate for drift.
Now as I said, the civil year of the Jewish calendar begins in the fall, corresponding to our September or October and so their years overlap with ours. This can cause difficulty in counting years.
A case in point is – Israel’s first wave of exile began in the spring of 605 BC according to modern historical calendars, but on the Jewish calendar that same time period fell on the previous fall of 606 BC. This discrepancy is seen at the end of the exile as well.
So, as stated earlier, the modern calendar has Israel’s exile beginning in 605 BC and ending in 537 BC which is only 68 years.
However, on the Jewish calendar system the exile began at the end of 606 BC and ran to the beginning of 536 BC which is 68 full years and two partial years.
This introduces our second difficulty, which is that Israel marked time inclusively. So that any part of a year was considered a year. Though more extreme, it is NOT entirely unique to us.
For example – the COVID issue was declared a pandemic on December 31, 2019.
For the sake of an example, let’s say they cite the pandemic to have end in July of 2023. Most people looking back on the event would simply subtract 2019 from 2023 and say the pandemic lasted for 4 years. Only if needed would people claim it was technically only 3 years and 7 months. So that gives us a little means of identifying with this inclusive method of counting.
So from a Jewish perspective, which by the way is a God perspective since it was God Who gave Israel their calendar and method for marking time, the captivity did actually last 70 years.
If I wanted to tourture you, I’d take you through the greater math problem of why God added the years of sabbatical rest required at 70, but I will only summarize it for you.
Sabbath years of rest for the land came only once every 7 years, so for Israel to warrant 70 years of captivity that would require that they had been in the land and failed to observe those sabbaths for 490 years.The problem with this is that Ezekiel tells us in chapter 4:1-6,
Ezekiel 4:1-6, “(1) And you, son of man, take a brick and set it in front of you. Inscribe a city on it – Jerusalem. (2) Lay siege to it! Build siege works against it. Erect a siege ramp against it! Post soldiers outside it and station battering rams around it. (3) Then for your part take an iron frying pan and set it up as an iron wall between you and the city. Set your face toward it. It is to be under siege; you are to besiege it. This is a sign for the house of Israel. (4) “Also for your part lie on your left side and place the iniquity of the house of Israel on it. For the number of days you lie on your side you will bear their iniquity. (5) I have determined that the number of the years of their iniquity are to be the number of days for you – 390 days. So bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. (6) “When you have completed these days, then lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the iniquity of the house of Judah 40 days – I have assigned one day for each year.”
So according to the foresight given to Ezekiel, the Northern kingdom had not kept the land’s sabbath rests for 390 years and Judah had failed to do so for 40 years, bringing the total number of Sabbatical years to 430.
For the exile to last 70 years, 1 year for every seventh year in which they failed to observe the land’s Sabbath rest, it would require 490 years – so this is 70 years less than the necessary time.
This difficulty is solved when we factor in the years of Jubilee, for the land was to rest on those years as well!
Jubilee occurs every 49 years.
In 49 years there are 8 years the land must rest…the first year being a Jubilee year, then the 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th, 35th, 42nd, and 49th.
So having 8 sabbath rests between years of Jubilee adds us to 392 years because 49 x 8 = 392 years. That leaves us with 38 years unaccounted for.
The partial group of 38 years gives us 6 years of rest which would therefore fall on the years 1, 7, 14, 21, 28, and 35.
So in total we have 64 years for all the complete sets of Jubilees in 430 years and 6 in the remaining 38 years.
64 + 6 = 70 total years of sabbath rest for the land which were missed.
So, THAT explains the math mystery of 430 years equalling 70 years of exile!
I will freely admit that I drew HEAVILY from the work of Brain Keating who in his excellent and concise article entitled, ‘Did the Babylonian Captivity Really Last 70 Years?’ went through great detail regarding this issue.
He clearly put a lot of effort into his study – certainly more than I would have had time for in our trek through Daniel so I am very willing to link his article and render credit where it is merited. Unfortunately the site is no longer active, but the link is still maintained.