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No. 88: Jeremiah 52:28-30

BIBLICAL Horizons, No. 88
October, 1996
Copyright 1996 Biblical Horizons

These numbers are statements of fact, but there are two reasons to investigate them more closely. First, the Bible never gives precise numbers without a reason, even if we cannot ascertain it immediately. Second, the Babylonians paid close attention to numbers, and may well have had a reason for these numbers.

In fact, I believe that they did have a reason, and the purpose of this essay is to set it out. Notice first of all that the total of these three smaller deporations is 4600, and that this total was reached in the 23rd year of Nebuchadnezzar. These two numbers are related: 4600 = 2 x 23 x 100. There is, thus, a relationship between the total number of people taken and the year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign.

This being the case, can we find a relationship between the 7th year of Nebuchadnezzar and the deporation of 3023 Jews? The number 7 does not divide evenly into 3023, which is in fact a prime number. There is, however, a relationship.

We have to remember that in both Genesis 5 and in the two censuses of Numbers we find astral numbers. The ages of the patriarchs in Genesis 5 and the census numbers of Numbers correspond to astral cycles, such as the number of days in a solar year, in a lunar year, and in the synodical periods of the five planets. Synodical periods are the number of days it takes for a planet to return to the same place in the firmament, not the number of days it takes for the planet to go around the sun. (For a full and detailed study of these astral cycles, see James B. Jordan, A Chronological and Calendrical Commentary on the Pentateuch, and M. Barnouin, The Censuses of the Book of Numbers and Babylonian Astronomy, both available from Biblical Horizons .)

Genesis 1 tells that one of the purposes of the lights placed in the firmament is to measure time, especially the times of governors and rulers, which they symbolize. We shall see that these measuring times occur in Jeremiah 52, indicating perhaps the end of Israel’s time as a nation among nations.

The relevant numbers under consideration are these:

Synodical period of Mercury 116 days
Synodical period of Venus 584 days
Synodical period of Mars 780 days
Synodical period of Jupiter 399 days
Synodical period of Saturn 378 days
Solar year 365 days
Solar quarter 91 days
Lunar year 354/5 days

The number 3023 is arrived at by taking the following, each of which is one year:

Mercury 116
Venus 584
Mars 780
Saturn 378
Solar year 365
Lunar year 354
Lunar year 355 (long)
Quarter year 91

The total is 3023, which represents seven years plus a quarter year. Nebuchadnezzar came to the throne in the last year of his father, which is Nebuchadnezzar’s Year O. Thus, seven years and a fraction covers the time of his reign to the year of this exile.

One can also arrive at 3023 with only seven astral cycles:

Mercury 116
Venus 584 x 3
Jupiter 399
Saturn 378 x 2

The next number under consideration is 832, which brings us to the 18th year of Nebuchadnezzar. There is no way that 832 covers eleven years, and so we look for another possibility. Adding 832 and 3023, we come to a total of 3855 for the 18 years.

Mercury 116 x 13
Mars 584
Saturn 378 x 2
Solar year 365
Lunar year 355 (long)
Quarter year 91

Or, without the quarter year:

Mercury 116 x 11
Jupiter 399 x 4
Solar year 365 x 2
Lunar year 354 x 4

Now, to come up with 23 astral cycles for 4600 persons can be done several ways, both using and omitting the 91-day quarter year for Nebuchadnezzar’s Year 0. This is because the higher the number goes, the more combinations of numbers can be used to reach it.

The purpose of this essay is to explore the possibility that Israel as a heavenly people is in the background of the God-ordained numbers of the exiles. The original census figures of the Israelites are related to the astral cycles we have considered. It may be that the exile census figures are also related to those same astral cycles, thus effecting closure on the imagery. There are many combinations of astral cycles that will yield the numbers 3023, 3855, and 4600, but we have investigated to see if any of those combinations are related to the years of Nebuchadnezzar, which are mentioned in connection with them. We have found that this is so.

Now, whether this is a valid interpretation of the text or not, I do not know. I have offered it here as a speculative possibility only.

(Special thanks to Mr. Robbie Peele of Atlanta, Georgia, for preparing a list of the combinations of the synodical periods of the planets, without which this essay would not have been possible.)