When was the First Temple destroyed? Our books do not disagree with each other. In the unfortunately long post that follows I examine the sources and discuss the difficulties
The Biblical Verses
2 Kings 25:8-11 says "Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon" arrived on the seventh of Av, and "he burnt the house of the LORD, and the king's house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man's house burnt he with fire."
Meanwhile Jeremiah (who likely authored Kings) days this in his own book.
Jeremiah 52:12-15 says "Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, which served the king of Babylon" arrived in Jerusalem on the tenth of Av and "burned the house of the LORD, and the king's house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, and all the houses of the great men, burned he with fire"
Other than the date, these verse are virtually direct copies of each other (and both are believed to be the work of Jeremiah, or his scribe Baruch.)
See the Hebrew.
2 Kings 25:8-11
וּבַחֹדֶשׁ הַחֲמִישִׁי בְּשִׁבְעָה לַחֹדֶשׁ הִיא שְׁנַת תְּשַׁע־עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה לַמֶּלֶךְ נְבֻכַדְנֶאצַּר מֶלֶךְ־בָּבֶל בָּא נְבוּזַרְאֲדָן רַב־טַבָּחִים עֶבֶד מֶלֶךְ־בָּבֶל יְרוּשָׁלִָם׃ 9 וַיִּשְׂרֹף אֶת־בֵּית־יְהוָה וְאֶת־בֵּית הַמֶּלֶךְ וְאֵת כָּל־בָּתֵּי יְרוּשָׁלִַם וְאֶת־כָּל־בֵּית גָּדֹול שָׂרַף בָּאֵשׁ׃
וּבַחֹדֶשׁ הַחֲמִישִׁי בֶּעָשֹׂור לַחֹדֶשׁ הִיא שְׁנַת תְּשַׁע־עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה לַמֶּלֶךְ נְבוּכַדְרֶאצַּר מֶלֶךְ־בָּבֶל בָּא נְבוּזַרְאֲדָן רַב־טַבָּחִים עָמַד לִפְנֵימֶלֶךְ־בָּבֶל בִּירוּשָׁלִָם׃ 13 וַיִּשְׂרֹף אֶת־בֵּית־יְהוָה וְאֶת־בֵּית הַמֶּלֶךְ וְאֵת כָּל־בָּתֵּי יְרוּשָׁלִַם וְאֶת־כָּל־בֵּית הַגָּדֹול שָׂרַף בָּאֵשׁ
The Talmud, of course, catches this difficulty and attempts a reconciliation:
Talmud - Mas. Ta'anith 29a
[ON THE NINTH OF AB] THE TEMPLE WAS DESTROYED THE FIRST TIME. For it is written, Now in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, a servant of the
King of Babylon, unto Jerusalem. And he burnt the house of the Lord etc. And it is further written,Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, who stood before the king of Babylon into Jerusalem etc.With reference to this it has been taught: We cannot say that this happened on the seventh, for it has already been stated that it was ‘in the tenth’; and we cannot say that this happened on the tenth, for it has already been stated that it was ‘on the seventh’. How then are these dates to be reconciled? On the seventh the heathens entered the Temple and ate therein and desecrated it throughout the seventh and eighth [of Ab] and towards dusk of the ninth they set fire to it and it continued to burn the whole of that day, as it is said, Woe unto us! for the daydeclineth, for the shadows of the evening are stretched out.
So, in brief:
1.It started on the 7th day
2.It reached its peak on the 9th (Hence Tisha B’Av)
3.It ended on the tenth (Hence we resume eating meat, wine etc.)
Do you find this satisfying? I don't. Here are some of the problems:
(1) 2 Kings 25:8-11 and Jeremiah 52:12-15 are obviously the SAME verse. They are not two different accounts of two different events as the Talmud suggests; rather they are duplicate accounts of the same event.
(2) The Jeremiah verse says Nebuzaradan arrived on the tenth of the month. It does not say he arrived on the seventh but was feasting and cavorting for three days. Why would it say he arrived on the tenth, if as the Talmud suggests, he actually arrived on the seventh?
(3) The Jeremiah verse says the burning took place on the tenth. It does not say it started on the ninth, and continued on through the night, as the Talmud suggests.
Given all of this, doesn't it seem obvious that what the Talmud is attempting here is the preservation of two cherished, pre-existing assumptions namely (a) Assumption 1: the Torah has no internal contradictions; (b) Assumption 2: The First Temple was destroyed on 9 Av. (The Talmud seems to take that dating as an article of faith, no matter what the books say.)
My solution isn't very frum, I'm afraid, but I think it has the merit of being true. Here it is:
(1) The original text of Jeremiah said that the destruction occurred on the tenth (bah... yerushalayim, badly translated as "arrived in Jerusalem" is a figure of speech, not to be taken literally. Nebuzaradan didn't literally show up on that day; he merely went to work.)
(2) Over time the yud [=tenth] became confused with the zayim. There's ample evidence of this happening, elsewhere. This uncertainty regarding the date was preserved much later when the texts of Kings and Jeremiah were written and/or finalized.
(3) Neither Jeremiah nor Kings were finalized in the days, months or years immediately following the exile. The people were at loose ends, remember? Foreign land. Hostile government. The fight for life. Establishing the correct and final the text would not have been at the top of anyone's agenda, as the people struggled for survival. All of that library work had to have come much later.
(4) Several centuries later the Second Temple was destroyed on 9 Av. For various theological and polemical reasons, the idea took hold that the First Temple was destroyed on the same date. This idea became popular among people who did not have direct access to Kings and Jeremiah (i.e. nearly everyone) After the idea became popular and accepted the Rabbis were forced to reconcile it with the what the books actually said, the results of which was preserved on Taanith 29b.