The year 2017 is a special year, because it is 50 years ago that Jerusalem was conquered by Israel in the 6-day war. Next year, 2018, will be the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel. Reason to take a closer look at some dates surrounding the history of Jerusalem. Because they show a remarkable pattern.
2. The Babylonian captivity: Completed in 19 years
After the 10-tribe kingdom was conquered by the Assyrians and a large part of the population was taken into exile, the 2-tribe kingdom also came under increasing pressure from the Assyrians. Ultimately, part of the two-tribe kingdom, the part around Lachish and Jerusalem, manages to hold out.
More than a century later, the two-tribe kingdom had to deal with the Babylonians, who had conquered the Assyrians. A conflict ensued and in the year 605 BC. Nebuchadnezzar invades the land (2 Kings 24:1). A number of courtiers, including Daniel, are taken to his court (Dan. 1:1-2).
In 597 B.C. a large group of people are taken into captivity to Babylon (2 Kings 24:15-17; 2 Chron. 36:6-7).
And then the disaster becomes complete. In 586 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar enters Jerusalem in his 19th year and the temple is destroyed. A large part of the remaining population is still taken into exile (2 Kings 25:8-9; 2 Chron. 36:17-20; Jer. 52:12). The Babylonian captivity was thus accomplished in three phases over a period of 19 years. In 605 B.C. the first go into exile, and 19 years later in 586 BC. almost the entire population went into exile and the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed.
This period of 19 years is also easy to calculate from the Biblical data. Daniel was taken to the court of Nebadnessar in the third year of Jehoiakim king of Judah (Dan. 1:1). According to Jer. 25:1 the fourth year of Jehoiakim is the first year of Nebuchadnezzar. And in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar the temple was destroyed. This also means that when Nebuchadnezzar in 605 B.C. brought courtiers from Judah to Babylon for the first time, he was not yet emperor.
3. The exile ended after 70 years
The prophet Jeremiah predicted that the people would serve the Babylonian king for 70 years (Jer. 25:11-12; 29:10; see also Dan. 9:2).
In 539 B.C. the Persian king Cyrus (Cyrus) conquers the Babylonians and a year later he allows the exiles in Babylon to return to Jerusalem (2 Chron. 24:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4). A small part subsequently did so and in 535 BC. the rebuilding of the temple begins (Ezra 3:8-13). Exactly 70 years after the start of the exile.
4. The 70 years of Zechariah
The prophets Haggai and Zechariah are known for their encouragement to the people to continue rebuilding the temple. At the time they prophesy (around 520 BC), Jeremiah's prophecy regarding the 70 years has already been fulfilled. Yet Zechariah makes a remarkable allusion to this prophecy.
Zach. 1:12 Then the angel of the LORD cried out, “O LORD Almighty, how long will it be before you show compassion to Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, against which you have been angry for seventy years?”
Zach. 7:5 Say to the people of this land and to the priests, 'When you mourn and fast in the fifth and seventh months for seventy years, are you really doing it for me?'
The destruction of the temple in Jerusalem is experienced as an expression of the wrath of God. Since the destruction of the temple, the people have fasted twice a year as a sign of mourning and humiliation. It is remarkable that Zechariah states so emphatically that the period since the destruction of the temple has now been 70 years. Without directly referring to Jeremiah's prophecy, the association is very obvious. Especially since at the time the prophecy was pronounced it actually concerned a period that lasted less than 70 years (from 586 BC to 520 BC, so about 66 years).
What is remarkable is that the rebuilding of the temple was completed in 516 BC (Ezra 6:16-18). That is 70 years after the destruction of the temple in 586 BC, and 19 years after rebuilding began in 535 BC.
5. The 19 years in recent history
The Jewish professor Shani Taragin refers to a remarkable parallel in a lecture. The State of Israel was founded in 1948. After 19 years, Jerusalem was conquered in the 6-day war in 1967. This is a special reference to the history of the exile and the return from exile, and to the destruction of the temple and its rebuilding. It shows how God is still visible in the history of Israel today. From the beginning of the exile to the final destruction of the temple in 19 years. The rebuilding of the temple is being completed 19 years after it started. And 19 years after the establishment of the state of Israel, the capital Jerusalem is conquered. Jews do not see this as a coincidence but as the hand of God, and I would like to agree with that.
6. The calendar and the 19 year cycle
The number 19 is not a number with a symbolic meaning. But it is a striking number when it comes to the calendar. The Jews based the length of a month on the lunar cycle. However, 12 lunar cycles is shorter than a solar year. To ensure that the lunar months continue to change with the seasons, an extra month is occasionally inserted. To be precise: 7 times in 19 years. So there is a pattern of extra lunar months. An extra month is always introduced in the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th and 19th year of such a cycle.
Although this strict regularity only arose in the 4th century, it is striking in the context of this article.