The traditional dates for the beginning of Jeremiah’s Seventy Years Prophecy and the return from captivity cannot be reconciled with the claims of the Bible. A seventh century captivity is at odds with our using Cyrus as the king who issued the decree to release the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. In such a case Bible students have sought to reconcile this error by using Artaxerxes instead of Cyrus, but all Artaxerxes did was reaffirm what Cyrus had written in the beginning. Daniel’s prophecy clearly points to Cyrus as God’s agent in this matter (cp. Isaiah 44:28; 45:1), but the chronology of current ancient history forbids our using him for this purpose. Nevertheless, I intend to continue on the assumption that Cyrus is this figure and that future blogs will show reasonable evidence that this is the correct choice.
It was in the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came and made Judah the servant of Babylon (Jeremiah 25:1). It was during this time that Daniel was taken to Babylon as a hostage (Daniel 1:1-7). From Jeremiah 25:1 we also see that the year that Babylon conquered Jerusalem was Nebuchadnezzar’s first year (ascension year) as king of Babylon. It was during this same year that all the nations surrounding Judah fell under the dominion of Babylon, because Nebuchadnezzar was not merely interested in ruling a little country like Judah but desired all that the king of Egypt had (cp. Jeremiah 46:2 & 2Kings 24:6-7).
From the very beginning Judah was nearly in a constant state of rebellion against Babylon, and this is why in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, he came and destroyed Jerusalem, its walls and the Temple (2Kings 25:8-10) during the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah.
In the very beginning of Judah’s servitude to Babylon, Jeremiah said that this would last for seventy years. Compare Jeremiah 25:1 and Jeremiah 25:9-11. These Scriptures show that not only Judah but also all her neighboring nations would serve Babylon for seventy years. The point is the Seventy Years Prophecy did not begin at the point of captivity and the destruction of the Temple, but at the very beginning of Judah’s being a vassal kingdom serving Babylon. Jeremiah prophesied not only for the kingdom of Judah but for all the surrounding kingdoms as well. All who served Pharaoh were taken away to serve Babylon for seventy years. Judah’s captivity and exile in Babylon lasted fifty-one years and her servitude in the her own land lasted another nineteen years before the fall of Jerusalem; and together they added up to seventy years.
2Chronicles 36:20-21 shows that Jerusalem shall be desolate for seventy years “…for as long as she (Jerusalem) lay desolate, she kept Sabbath to fulfill three score and ten years.” If Jerusalem was desolate fifty-one years, the prophecy would have been fulfilled in that the 51st year of the Jew’s exile counted as the 70th year of servitude to Babylon. Moreover, as we shall see further along in this study of the returning captives, Jerusalem lay desolate for nearly forty-nine years after the return from Babylon, making the desolations to last almost 100 years. Therefore, the word of God is literally true: “for as long as she lay desolate, she (Jerusalem) kept a Sabbath (rest) to fulfill the three score and ten (70) years. The fact that it nearly took forty-nine more years to remove the desolations and rebuild Jerusalem is part of another prophecy.
 Take note that the manner in which Babylon and Judah counted the years of a reign was different by one year since Judah counted the year of ascension to the throne as a king’s first year, while Babylon did not; hence, there is a difference in dating.