Nebuchadnezzar. This powerful king of Babylon put down a Judaean revolted 597 BCE. At that time he took into captivity many of the nations leaders. He returned in 587 BCE on a march of conquest and after putting down an Egyptian attack he turned his attention to Jerusalem and somewhere between 587-586 BCE he conquered the city. His armies returned to the area in 582 BCE to take an additional number of Jews into captivity. This was a huge event in the history of the Jewish people. The Babylonians kept very good records of events that occurred during their history and their records, along with the records of the Persians who conquered the city of Babylon in 539 BCE under the rule of Cyrus the great, form the basis for some reliable archaeological record keeping. The year 539 BCE is regarded as an absolute year in that it can be established from a number of secular records. Historical events can be counted forward or back from this absolute year. In 538 BCE Cyrus gave the instruction for a number of slaves of the Babylonian Empire newly conquered by the Persians, to be returned to their homeland with the freedom to rebuild their cities as long as the kingdoms remained vassal kingdoms within the Persian Empire.
The kingdom of Israel was re-established in 537 BCE. Though there was an intent to restore worship at the temple in Jerusalem there is little doubt that the effect of the return on the Jews was a distraction as they were an agricultural community and therefore it was essential to look after their harvests and farmland. They also had to contend with the Samaritans who had expanded their hold on the land of Israel. There was political pressure from outside kingdoms not to allow the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. This took some time to achieve. It is very good from a Bible student point of view to be able to read historical records with the level of accuracy of the Babylonians and Persians which leave us in no doubt as to the time when the city of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonian invasion.586-585 BCE.