The Dating of Jehoiachin's Exile to Babylon
Saul died in the year 2884 from Adam. Jehoiachin went into exile to Babylon 414 years later, in the year 3298. Of course, in order to prove that these events were 414 years apart, we need to prove that Jehoiachin did indeed go into captivity in the year 3298.
In Chapter 2, we saw that Israel crossed the Jordan into Canaan under Joshua in the year 2488. This is the point when their Jubilee Calendar began, for God had told Israel in Leviticus 25:2-8,
2 When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the Lord. 3 Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof. 4 But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest … 8 And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years.
In other words, their entrance into the land would be the point when they would start their Jubilee Calendar, sowing fields and pruning vineyards for six years, then resting the seventh year. The Jubilee would come after seven sabbath rest years were complete. Below is a chart depicting the 17 Jubilee cycles from the Jordan crossing to Ezekiel’s vision 14 years after the fall of Jerusalem.
Note that the 16th Jubilee occurred in 623 B.C., or 3272 years from Adam. The prophet Ezekiel helps us fill in the details of the 17th Jubilee cycle, because he dates events and visions according to the year of Jehoiachin’s captivity. Ezekiel 1:1-2 tells us,
1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year [of the Jubilee cycle], in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. 2 In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity,…
In Ezekiel’s dating system, we find that the fifth year of Jehoiachin’s captivity was “the thirtieth year” (Ezek. 1:1-2) of some year. Many writers have speculated on what this means. Some say that it was Ezekiel’s thirtieth year, but others have a more credible explanation. They say it was the thirtieth year of the 17th Jubilee cycle. We will show why this is indeed the case as we proceed.
If you will look at the chart on the next page, you can see how these years are aligned. The top line is the years of the Jubilee cycle. Note that the 30th year aligns with the fifth year of Jehoiachin’s captivity (bottom of chart). We also see the years of king Zedekiah, whom Nebuchadnezzar set on the throne in place of Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:8-18). Zedekiah began to reign shortly after Jehoiachin was deposed, but that year had already been ascribed to Jehoiachin. Thus, Zedekiah’s first regnal year was actually the second year of Jehoiachin’s reign. Hence, those two number lines are slightly different.
Jeremiah would have called Jerusalem to proclaim the rest year (Jer. 34) at the beginning of the 35th year of the Jubilee cycle (top line). This was done in the fall of 589 B.C. A few months later, in the tenth month of the Hebrew calendar (January, 588 B.C.) the Babylonian army began its siege of Jerusalem. This was about three or four months into the 35th year of the Jubilee calendar, but it was now the beginning 588 B.C. as we reckon time today.
The siege continued throughout 588 and 587 B.C., and the city was finally smitten in August of 586 B.C. In Hebrew reckoning, the city was smitten on the tenth of Ab, about six weeks prior to the end of the 37th year of the Jubilee cycle.
Now here is where we must study the time closely, or we may become confused. Ezekiel 40:1 tells us that the prophet had a tremendous vision of a great temple, and this vision is described in the last chapters of Ezekiel. His vision is dated very precisely.
1 In the five and twentieth year of our captivity, in the beginning of the year [the 7th month], in the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after that the city was smitten, in the selfsame day the hand of the Lord was upon me, and brought me thither.
This vision was given to him on the tenth day of the seventh month, the Day of Atonement (Lev. 23:27). He also tells us that it was the 14th year from the fall of Jerusalem. Well,Jerusalem fell in August of 586, near the end of the 37th year of the Jubilee calendar that Ezekiel was using. Hence, by Hebrew reckoning, the 37th year was still technically the first year after the city was smitten. Note on the chart how the years align. Ezekiel’s vision occurred at the beginning of the 14th year after the city was smitten, which aligns with the beginning of the 50th year of the Jubilee cycle. In fact, the vision occurred precisely on the Day of Atonement of that year, which was also the 17th Jubilee.
The 17th Jubilee, by our modern way of reckoning, occurred in the fall of 574 B.C., which was just slightly more than 12 years after the fall of Jerusalem (August of 586 B.C. to September of 574 B.C.). But by the Hebrew way of reckoning, it was actually 14 years, because the city fell right at the end of the first year, and Ezekiel’s vision occurred right at the beginning of the 14th year. In actual time, as we reckon it, these events were 12 years and no more than two months apart.
When we see that Ezekiel’s vision was carefully dated precisely on the 17th Jubilee, it is plain that the prophet’s calendar was the Jubilee calendar. Thus, “the thirtieth year” in Ezekiel 1:1 is referring to the 30th year of the Jubilee cycle, and it aligns with the fifth year of Jehoiachin’s captivity. Once we know how to align the Jubilee calendar with the events of that day, it is relatively easy to see that Jeremiah’s call to observe the rest year occurred at the beginning of the 35th-year sabbath land rest. Then, because the people were disobedient to God, the Babylonian siege began a few months later.
We can double-check our dates as well. Recall from page 26, we told of the solar eclipse visible from Ninevehon June 15, 763 B.C., and that 90 years prior to this eclipse was the year king Ahab died (853 B.C.). Historians also tell us that Jehoiachin went into captivity in the year 597 B.C. Thus, his captivity took place 256 years after the death of king Ahab (853 - 597 = 256).
We can double-check our dates by working out this same time period using years from Adam. We proved in Chapter 2 that Ahab died 3042 years from Adam, and that 3042 from Adam is the equivalent of 853 B.C. on our modern calendar. Using our Jubilee Calendar, we see that if we add 256 years to the year 3042 (Ahab’s death), we may conclude that Jehoiachin’s captivity began 3298 years from Adam.
853 - 597 B.C. = 256 years (modern calendar)
3042 - 3298 = 256 years (years from Adam)
And so, using simple arithmetic and known historical data, we not only know precisely the date of Jehoiachin’s captivity and the fall of Jerusalem, but we also can prove what year of the Jubilee cycle these events occurred.