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In late years several cuneiform tablets have been discovered pertaining to the fall of Babylon which peg both Biblical and secular historic dates. It should be noted that the "Nabunaid Chronicle" had not become known "in late years," but had been discovered in 1879 and translations made available since the 1890s.
The one tablet known as the "Nabunaid Chronicle" gives the date for the fall of Babylon which specialists have ascertained as being October 12-13, 539 B. The Watchtower's motives in saying this are clearly to avoid raising questions in readers' minds about why it took so long for the Society to recognize the evidence published in "the most accurate histories." This duplicity is again evident in what the February 1, 1955 Watchtower said on page 93: The outstanding Absolute date for the B. period of the Hebrew Scriptures is that for the fall of Babylon as the capital city of the third world power at the hands of Cyrus, king of the Persians....
The 1963 All Scripture book also discussed what it termed "absolute dates." On page 85, paragraph 3, it said: The later edition gives no hint as to how a date might be so harmonized. a "pivotal date." The article later stated that Babylon fell in 539 B. About the middle of 1965 work was started on a new Bible dictionary, to be called Aid to Bible Understanding, which was published first in 1969, subjects A through E only, and the complete version in 1971. A lengthy article on "Chronology" was eventually produced, along with articles on many related subjects.
It should be noted that the Society has dropped the term "absolute date" in favor of "pivotal date," and that these terms are seldom used outside of Watchtower publications. Note particularly two things that are stated to support the 539 date: Ptolemy and the Babylonian tablets. Thiele cleared up a point that has misled a number of people who misunderstood the purpose of the canon: "Ptolemy's canon was prepared primarily for astronomical, not historical, purposes. Much of this material was published in Watchtower articles from 1968 through 1971. as the year when this historical event occurred is based on a stone document know [sic] as the Nabonidus (Nabunaid) Chronicle.
Paragraph 2 on page 85 quotes three secular sources that support the 539 B. Not many readers would know this, so the information is concealed from the reader. Because it establishes that the correct information had been known by historians for a long time, and the Society did not want to stimulate its readers into thinking about the implications.A pivotal date is a calendar date in history that has a sound basis for acceptance and that corresponds to a specific event recorded in the Bible. not having been discussed for eleven years, the author of the 1963 All Scripture book now feels free to tell the date the Nabonidus Chronicle was discovered, and discuss its significance, on page 282, paragraph 29: A prominent event recorded both in the Bible and in pagan secular history is the overthrow of the city of Babylon by the Medes and Persians under Cyrus.... Various historical sources (including Diodorus, Africanus, Eusebius, Ptolemy, and the Babylonian tablets) support 539 B. The Society gave the Nabonidus Chronicle top billing for many years as the most important single piece of evidence confirming the 539 B. date for Babylon's fall, but never gave any details about the supporting evidence. For example, the May 1, 1968 Watchtower published two articles focused on the chronology leading up to the claim that 1975 would mark the end of 6000 years of human history. This remarkable clay document established that Babylon fell on October 5 to 6, in the year 539 B. One such fixed or absolute date is in connection with the events recorded in the fifth chapter of Daniel.... However, the next paragraph in the article neglects this point, and attributes the deciphering of the date to modern scholars in a most interesting way: Please note, the Nabonidus Chronicle gives precise details as to the time when these events took place. The year is not stated in the Chronicle, because the very place on the cuneiform tablet where the key reference to Nabonidus's 17th year would have been was broken off, and "reference to the 'seventeenth year' of Nabonidus...Although the earlier book allows that secular history may prove the actual date of a biblical event, the later edition leaves the question open by giving no criteria for determining what is a "sound basis for acceptance." This allows the Society the option of picking and choosing among secular evidences for those that support its notions -- the smorgasbord approach to scholarship. The pagan record was made by King Nabonidus, and it has been dated by him in what is known as the Nabonidus Chronicle, discovered in 1879.... It was only stated that recognized authorities supported the date. On page 268 it discussed "absolute dates" and said: For calculating Hebrew Scripture dates, the absolute date of October 5 to 6 in the year 539 B. That was concerning the time when the Medes and Persians under Cyrus the Great... This, in turn, enables modern scholars, with their knowledge of astronomy, to translate these dates into terms of the Julian or Gregorian calendars. has been inserted by translators." [May 15, 1971 Watchtower, p. Here are some other references: The 1990 All Scripture book said on page 283 that "the Nabonidus Chronicle gives the month and day of the city's fall (the year is missing)." The Aid book mentioned on page 1197 (subject "Nabonidus") that "it may be noted that the phrase 'seventeenth year' does not appear on the tablet, that portion of the text being damaged." The Insight book, Vol.The army of Nabonidus was defeated; Babylon itself attempted no resistance, but surrendered on the 16th Tishri ... The last sentence is immediately followed in the Encyclopedia by a parenthetical reference to another name for Gobryas: "(Gaubaruva, see the chronicle of the reign of Nabonidus....)" This is a clear reference to the Nabonidus Chronicle, which shows that the Chronicle was well enough known in 1910/11 to be referred to in an encyclopedia.It proves that the Society has not always tried "to keep its associates abreast with the latest available scholarship on Bible chronology." Significantly, this discussion was dropped from the 1990 edition of the All Scripture book.
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A comparison of the 1963 All Scripture book with the 1990 edition demonstrates why the terminology has changed. The Nabonidus Chronicle gives the month and day of the city's fall (the year is missing). It is not entirely clear what "the Babylonian tablets" refer to, since there are many categories of such, like business and administrative documents, historical narratives, astronomical diaries, etc. Included as a sort of appendix was a list, or canon, of kings and the lengths of their reigning years, which served as a chronological scale for his astronomical data. It did not pretend to give a complete list of all the rulers of either Babylon or Persia, nor the exact month or day of the beginning of their reigns, but it was a device which made possible the correct allocation into a broad chronological scheme of certain astronomical data which were then available. for the Jews' return from captivity, are well established. The Society changed many of its ideas as a result of the research. The August 15, 1968 Watchtower published a series of three articles that amounted to a major position statement on chronology in connection with establishing 1975 as the end of 6000 years of human history. This important find was discovered in ruins near the city of Baghdad in 1879, and it is now preserved in the British Museum. The article correctly states that the fixing of 539 is based on the Chronicle, not that the Chronicle directly states the date.