Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Daniel’s “Seventy Weeks” -- When Do They Begin and End?
Because many have relied on the chronology of Archbishop Ussher, a date in the reign of the Persian King Artaxerxes has been chosen as the starting point for Daniel’s 70 Weeks Prophecy. However, when we realize that Ussher’s chronology is based on the erroneous chronology of Ptolemy -- which in turn is based on the guesses of Erathosthenes -- the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem can be placed in its correct time-frame -- that of the decree of Cyrus the Great!
by John D. Keyser
Almost all commentaries are agreed that the message given to Daniel by the Archangel Gabriel gives the measure of years, from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem unto Messiah the Prince, as sixty-nine sevens of years -- that is, 483 years. However, there is a tremendous amount of disagreement as to:
1/. What decree it was from which the time began to run, and
2/. What event it was in the lifetime of Yeshua the Messiah to which the 483 years brings us.
It is clear that, unless these two points in time (the beginning and the ending of the 483 years) can be established with absolute certainty, we simply cannot determine with accuracy the chronology down to the death and resurrection of the Messiah.
A careful study of the Bible will, however, reveal that both events are marked and dated with unusual exactitude. Furthermore, as we progress in this article, we will realize that the differences in opinion are a result of the fact that some of the expositors and chronologers have adopted the mistaken estimates of Ptolemy as the foundation of their systems of dating -- instead of grounding themselves in the chronology of the Bible. So, having committed themselves to a chronological scheme which makes the era of the Persian Empire about 80 years too long, they have been compelled to force the statements of the Bible into the framework of this erroneous chronology. As a result, the measure of 483 years from the first year of Cyrus comes short -- by many years -- of any event in the lifetime of the Messiah. This results in only two possible options -- either abandon Ptolemy’s table or search for a decree of a Persian king -- many years nearer the Messiah -- to serve as the starting point of the seventy weeks.
The fact is, therefore, that there is not any uncertainty in the Bible -- the problem is that the expositors and chronologers have turned aside from YEHOVAH’s Word and have accepted (for the 500 years immediately preceding the time of the Messiah) a defective chronology based on pagan traditions.
Our main conclusions -- of which we will provide ample proof -- are:
1/. The canon of Ptolemy is untrustworthy as a basis for a system of chronology since its statements have not been authenticated in any way. Therefore, we should reject it in determining the beginning of the 483 years.
2/. “The commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem,” from which the prophetic period of 70 weeks began to run (Daniel 9:25), was the decree of Cyrus the Great -- referred to in Ezra 1:1-4.
3/. The 483-year period of Daniel 9:25 -- reaching “unto the Messiah, the Prince” -- ended at the baptism of the Messiah in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar, when he was 30 years of age.
1. The Canon of Ptolemy
Ptolemy was not contemporary to the events of the Persian Empire, whose chronology he attempted to construct -- but flourished more than six centuries after that Empire began. Therefore, we cannot accept him as an authority for the events of that period. As a matter of fact, he never claimed that he had access to any of the records of the Persian period. Not only are the chronological statements of Ptolemy entirely without corroboration, but they are flatly contradicted by authorities that can be corroborated and are more reliable than he. He is contradicted by the Persian traditions preserved by Fidusi and by the Jewish National traditions preserved in the Sedar Olam. Whereas Ptolemy estimates that there were TEN Persian kings in all, Josephus (an earlier writer and a reliable historian of the late first century A.D.) gives only SIX. What’s interesting about this is the fact that it agrees much better with the statement of the angel to Daniel in the 3rd year of Cyrus. The angel said there were yet four kings of Persia to stand up, the fourth being clearly identified as the great and wealthy Xerxes -- whose expedition against “the realm of Grecia” is known from secular history to have ended in disaster.
Those who accept the canon of Ptolemy must believe there were eight kings between Cyrus and Xerxes, who was the last of the Persian kings, and must accept the length of years which Ptolemy assigns to their respective reigns. This he figures to be a total 205 years. In contrast with Ptolemy’s estimates, both the Jewish and Persian traditions make the period of the Persian Empire a period of only 52 years (Anstey, The Romance of Bible Chronology, p. 232). While we do not accept the estimates of Josephus any more than those of Ptolemy -- and have no need of either since we are using the chronology found in the Bible -- the statements of the former do serve to show that the latter are not to be relied upon.
Author Martin Anstey states –
There are no contemporary chronological records whatever to fix the dates of any of the Persian monarchs after Darius Hystaspes. The clay tablets of Babylon fix the chronology, for the reigns of Cyrus, Cambyses, Pseudo-Smerdis, and Darius Hystaspes; but they do not determine the date of any subsequent Persian king. The dates which have reached us, and which are now generally received as historical, are a late compilation made in the 2nd century A.D. and found in Ptolemy’s canon. They rest upon the calculations or guesses made by Eratosthenes, and certain vague, floating traditions, in accordance with which the period of the Persian empire was mapped out as a period of 205 years.
Further proof that Ptolemy’s cannon is bogus can be found in a rather unusual way. There is considerable research data now available that supports the fact that Xerxes AND Artaxerxes were one and the same king! In the ruins of Persepolis can be found reliefs of the “three” kings of the Persian dynasty who were involved with building the city -- Darius I, Xerxes and Artaxerxes. While the faces on the reliefs have been chiseled off, other parts of the reliefs can be used to make our point. It’s very subtle, but nonetheless conclusive -- it’s the famous hand of Artaxerxes! Artaxerxes right hand was LONGER than his left one, and this was so unusual it became his trademark and hence the name “Artaxerxes LONGIMANUS (longimanus is Latin for “long hand”).
A very famous relief at Persepolis showing Darius seated on the throne followed by his son “Xerxes” shows Xerxes with his right hand turned vertically in order to show off his hand for all to see. The hand was carved with great detail showing all the palm creases, etc. You will notice, by comparison, that it is clearly LONGER THAN HIS LEFT! It is because of this unusual hand that Xerxes later became known as “Artaxerxes Longimanus” -- after changing his name locally to Artaxerxes upon becoming king of Persia. This was a common practice among the Persian kings.
Now WHY did Xerxes try to become two kings -- and how? Briefly, it commenced with a conspiracy by the Persian Magi who put an imposter on the throne in place of Smerdis -- a son of Cyrus and brother to Cambyses II. Following Cambyses death, this imposter was exposed and removed from the throne by Darius I, who usurped the Persian throne. Darius was not a direct descendant of Cyrus, but his younger son Xerxes (by way of his wife, Atossa, the daughter of Cyrus) was. It took Darius two years to bring the empire under control -- but not without making Xerxes, the legitimate heir to Cyrus, his own appointed successor and co-ruler.
One way Darius pulled this off was through massive building campaigns which prominently displayed Xerxes in an EQUAL POSITION next to himself -- with some buildings specifically named after Xerxes. Darius apparently began building at Persepolis some four years after he came to the throne -- displaying Xerxes prominently beside himself as usual -- but in his sixth year was killed and beheaded by the Athenians in the Battle of Marathon (a fact the Greeks later tried to suppress historically). Because of this insult, Xerxes invaded Greece with a vengeance and sacked Athens, destroying many of their temples, but suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Athenians in the Battle of Salamis. After this he fled back to Persia, a king despised and in shame. He conspired to evade this international shame and possible assassination attempts by the Greeks by faking his death and assuming THE NEW IDENTITY OF “ARTAXERXES”!
Because of his untimely death, Darius was unable to finish his building work at Persepolis -- which was completed by his son Xerxes. However, because of the Persian custom of the Persian kings assuming a new name upon becoming king, the city was finished under Xerxes’ new name: Artaxerxes. Since Xerxes had already appeared in reliefs as “Xerxes” with Darius, it now appeared that there were THREE KINGS at Persepolis -- when, in fact, there were only two. Xerxes’ dual identity and those confusing reliefs (after cleverly changing some building inscriptions) helped Xerxes/Artaxerxes pull off this conspiracy of claiming he was a different king.
The conspiracy -- which was designed to fool the Greeks -- was masterminded by Themistocles (an influential Greek statesman who had defected to Persia) who circulated the now-famous letter stating that he was defecting to Artaxerxes the “son” of Xerxes, now presumed by all to have recently died. At the same time, propaganda was circulated by the Persian Court to the effect that Xerxes was killed by his oldest son and heir, Darius, who in turn was killed by his “younger brother” Artaxerxes who, after avenging his father’s death, was now on the throne as king legitimately. This was very clever, but very superficial in hindsight. Of course, this Darius was not killed and still followed his father (Xerxes/Artaxerxes) on the throne as Darius II. Needless to say, the Greeks never really caught on though there was lots of confusion.
Because of all the reliefs at Persepolis which generally exposed the conspiracy on close examination, the city was kept a secret from the Greeks until Alexander the Great discovered it when he conquered Persia. In the meantime, a series of involved schemes to change Greek, Persian, Babylonian and Biblical history to cover up for the phantom 21-year reign of Xerxes prevailed, and as a result the chronology of the Persian period has been distorted by 82 years. Ptolemy, being Greek himself and relying on Eratosthenes (who was also Greek), reflects this distortion in his canon.
The fact is, Ptolemy had no means of determining the chronology of this period, so he made the best use of the materials at his disposal -- and contrived to make a chronology. However, it is clearly contradicted by –
1/. The national traditions of Persia
2/. The national traditions of the Jews
3/. The testimony of Josephus
4/. The conflicting evidence of well-authenticated events
5/. The Persian reliefs at Persepolis and
6/. YEHOVAH God’s Word -- the Bible!
Eclipses and Other Astronomical Events as Aids to Chronology
The attempt of some to supply missing links in the chain of chronology by means of eclipses and astronomical calculations, is utterly futile! It is easy for astronomers to make a perfect chart of all solar and lunar eclipses and to fix the time of their occurrences with great accuracy, but that doesn’t help us in the least because when a historical reference is found which contains mention of an eclipse, it is impossible to tell which of the charted eclipses -- within say a century -- is the one referred to! And even if that could be done, it would only fix the date on ONE event.
We must remember that chronology (biblical or otherwise) is not merely or chiefly a matter of intervals of time -- it is primarily a matter of historical events, their sequence and the number of years from one known event to another. Astronomers can indeed give us the precise order and dates of all eclipses which occurred between the days of Cyrus and those of Alexander the Great -- or any other period. But eclipses are events that occur in the heavens, and chronology has to do with events on earth. There is no way the astronomers can tell us the succession of the Persian kings or calculate the length of their reigns. And it is that information that is needed to make a viable chronology. Without it, a perfect chart of all the eclipses is of about as much use to us as a map of Pluto!
The bottom line is -- regarding the events of sacred history prior to the conquest of Asia by Alexander the Great -- there are NO SOURCES OF INFORMATION APART FROM THE BIBLE ITSELF to determine a true chronology. However, none are needed because the chronology of YEHOVAH’s Word is complete in itself. We must realize that it was no more a part of YEHOVAH’s plan of revelation that we should be dependent upon human sources for the completion of biblical chronology, than that we should be dependent upon such sources for the understanding of any part of essential truth or doctrine.
2. The Command to Restore and to Build Jerusalem -- Daniel 9:25
The going forth of the commandment (lit. word) to restore and to build Jerusalem is one of the most important of the chronological landmarks in the Bible because it stretches the measuring line of 483 years “unto the Messiah, the Prince.” This was a matter that Daniel the prophet was specially charged by the angel to “know” and to “understand.” Now, unless the exact time of the going forth of that word be known, and unless its relation with the entire chronological scheme of the Bible be understood, the YEHOVAH-given measuring line will be of no avail for the very purpose that YEHOVAH gave it! The Bible shows, with an utmost clarity, both the decree referred to, and also the DATE of its “going forth.” In fact, the biblical time-line would never have come into question had not some “learned men” gone to the Bible with a ready-made chronology based on Ptolemy’s miscalculations, and tried to force scripture into its framework. Rather than going to YEHOVAH’s Word and determining the beginning and the end of the prophetic period, and then letting the scripture itself show them the number of years (483) between these terminal events, these men have simply relied on false chronologies based on pagan traditions and superstition.
Let us realize that the time specified by the angel was to begin -- not at the restoring and building of the city of Jerusalem -- but at the going forth of the “word” (or decree) to restore and to build. That “word” went forth “in the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia,” and, moreover, its going forth was for the express purpose “that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled” (Ezra 1:1). To accomplish His purpose, YEHOVAH God “stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom.” Here we see a royal “word” or proclamation going forth with the objective of releasing the captives of Judah so that they could “go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (He is the God) which is in Jerusalem” (Ezra 1:2-3).
The immediate effect of this proclamation was that a large contingent of Israelites (42,370 plus 7,337 servants and maids) “went up out of the captivity and came again unto Jerusalem and Judah” (Ezra 2:1, 64-65). Other groups came later. This was exactly what Daniel the prophet was praying for -- it was the ending of the captivity of his people and the beginning of a new period of existence for the nation of Judah and the city of Jerusalem (see Daniel 9:19).
To “restore” means (wherever the word is used in the Old Testament) to “turn back” and therefore to replace what had been taken away. In this case it clearly meant to restore the people to the city, thereby reestablishing it. That was the thrust and the effect of the decree of Cyrus, and the Bible records the accomplishment of it. We find written that the captives released by the decree of Cyrus “came again unto Jerusalem and Judah, every one unto his city” (Ezra 2:1). And again that they “dwelt in their cities, and all Israel in their cities (2:70). This includes, of course, the chief city of Jerusalem.
Isaiah’s Prophecy About Cyrus
In the Book of Ezra the decree of Cyrus is stated historically with utmost clarity. But, to put it beyond all doubt and to show, however, how vitally important this action of Cyrus was in the eyes and purposes of YEHOVAH God, we need to understand the remarkable fact that YEHOVAH had also declared it prophetically through His prophet Isaiah. This occurred more than 150 years prior to the actual decree, and the prophecy even calls by name the very king who was to fulfill YEHOVAH’s plan. For Isaiah had prophesied about Cyrus, saying: “Thus says the LORD...Who confirms the word of His servant, and performs the counsel of His messengers; Who says to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be inhabited,’ and to the cities of Judah, ‘You shall be built,’ and I will raise up her waste places;...Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, and he shall perform all My pleasure, even saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be built,” and to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid”’” (Isaiah 44:24-28).
Therefore, we have YEHOVAH God’s own word that Cyrus -- and none other -- was to speak the “word” to restore and to build Jerusalem -- even saying, “Thou shalt be built.”
And furthermore, Cyrus was made fully aware of Isaiah’s prophecy by Daniel; for in his decree Cyrus said, “The God of heaven hath charged me to build Him an house at Jerusalem” (Ezra 1:2). It should be observed that the same “charge” included both the building of the temple AND the building of the city (Isaiah 44:28).
We read of this in the Antiquities of the Jews by the Jewish historian Josephus, who states –
This was known to Cyrus by his reading the book which Isaiah left behind him of his prophecies; for this prophet said that God had spoken thus to him in a secret vision:-- “My will is, that Cyrus, whom I have appointed to be king over many and great nations, send back my people to their own land, and build my temple.” This was foretold by Isaiah one hundred and forty years before the temple was demolished. Accordingly, when Cyrus read this, and admired the divine power, an earnest desire and ambition seized upon him to fulfill what was so written; so he called for the most eminent Jews that were in Babylon, and said to them, that he gave them leave to go back to their own country, and to rebuild their city Jerusalem, and the temple of God...(Book XI, Chapter I, Section 2).
Not only that, but in the next chapter (Isaiah 45:13) YEHOVAH God speaks of Cyrus in this way: “He shall build My city, and he shall let go My captives, not for price nor reward, saith the Lord of hosts.” Here we clearly see that the letting go, or restoring, of the captives is coupled with the building of the city.
We can also see that it was Cyrus who issued the word to restore and to build the city. Those who try to make the statements of the Bible conform to the erroneous chronology of Ptolemy inevitably point to the fact that the building of the city is not expressly mentioned in Ezra 1:1-4, however Ezra does not quote the entire decree and, therefore, the city is not specifically mentioned in the part he quoted. But, nonetheless, he does make it perfectly clear that this was the “word to restore and to build Jerusalem.” Jerusalem was the focal point of the decree and its former inhabitants were permitted (and even commanded) to return to it -- which they did. And that command -- coupled with the command to “build the house of the Lord” -- would obviously involve restoring or building homes for the inhabitants of the city.
The Building of Jerusalem
It is also recorded that in the 7th month of the first year of Cyrus, “the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem” (Ezra 2:1). This would naturally mean that they would have to erect houses for themselves; and this would also explain why it was not until “the second year of the coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month” that Zerubbabel and Joshua, and “all they that were come out of the captivity into Jerusalem” began “to set forward the work of the house of the Lord” (Ezra 3:8). Clearly, that interval of seven months was needed to build homes for the people and defenses for the city.
From that point forward, in both the historical books of Ezra and Nehemiah and in the prophecy of Zechariah, Jerusalem is spoken of as an EXISTING CITY. The Temple was completed “in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king” (Ezra 6:15), and the former captives kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days (Ezra 6:21-22) -- definitely implying that Jerusalem was capable of accommodating large numbers of people.
In Ezra 7 and 8 we read of the coming of Ezra himself, with a large company of people that included women and children, to Jerusalem (8:32).
In chapter 9 we find Ezra praying to YEHOVAH God and praising Him for giving them favor in the eyes of the Persian kings “to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem” (Ezra 9:9).
Then, in chapter 10, it is recorded that Ezra and the leaders of the people “made proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem unto all the children of the captivity, that they should gather themselves together unto Jerusalem” (verse 7) -- which they did. Yet there are those so-called ministers out there who would have us believe that not only was there no rebuilding of the city up to that time, but that the word for the restoring and rebuilding of Jerusalem did not go out until the 7th or 20th year of Artaxerxes -- referred to in the second chapter of Nehemiah!
One such man who promulgates this erroneous chronology is William F. Dankenbring of Triumph Prophetic ministries. In his book The Last Days of Planet Earth he claims –
Cyrus made a decree in 536-535 regarding the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem (see Ezra 1:1-2). This particular decree was specifically to build the Temple -- the city is not mentioned. This decree, therefore, is not the one spoken of by Daniel in chapter 9:25 (p. 193).
On the following page he writes:
The Jews had never been given authority from the Persian kings to rebuild Jerusalem and the city wall. However, early in the reign of Artaxerxes, the Samaritans had accused the Jews of building the city once again (Ezra 4:7, 11-12). The king issued an order for the Jews to stop all such activity until further notice (Vs. 17-21). After a thorough investigation, Artaxerxes issued another decree -- the decree mentioned in Ezra 7!
This must be the decree Daniel had reference to since it was the first one that clearly involved the city of Jerusalem as well as the temple.
Those who are gullible enough to accept the chronology of Ptolemy, based as it is on nothing but the guesses of Eratosthenes, try to date “the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem” from either the seventh year or “the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king,” basing their erroneous conclusion on Ezra’s decree or Nehemiah’s petition to the king “that thou wouldest send me unto the city of my fathers sepulchres, that I may build it” (Nehemiah 2:5). From this it is assumed that the city had not been rebuilt up to that time, and that there was no previous word to rebuild it. This “Artaxerxes” is assumed, by those who insist on a late date for the decree of Daniel 9:25, to be Longimanus -- who was, as we have already seen, none other than Xerxes and not a separate ruler as most have imagined! This blows the whole theory right out of the water! It is supposed (in order to substantiate this theory) that during all of this time no permission was given to build the city, even though permission to rebuild the Temple had been granted and acted upon, and although the inhabitants of Jerusalem had been commanded to return to it.
Many, including Dankenbring, have relied on the chronology of James Ussher (Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland), who was born in Dublin in 1581 A.D. Although Ussher was a man of conspicuous ability and a profound scholar, his system of chronology has been revised and amended by others -- including Bishop Lloyd who published, in 1701, an edition of the Bible which was the first to have marginal dates. Then, in 1850, Henry Fynes Clinton made further revisions. Although an able scholar and chronologist he, like all his predecessors (including Ussher) adopted the erroneous figures of the canon of Ptolemy instead of the sure word of YEHOVAH God in the Bible.
The very first chapter of Nehemiah records that tidings were brought to Nehemiah by Hanani and certain men of Judah about the Jews which had returned from captivity, and concerning Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:2). These brethren reported to Nehemiah that the returned captives were in great distress, and that “the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire” (verse 3). This message was clearly the result of FRESH DAMAGE, recently inflicted by the “adversaries” of the Jews, to the walls and gates of the REBUILT city. This was news to Nehemiah because it caused him to weep, to mourn, to fast and to pray (verse 4). The wording of the record makes it impossible to believe that the damage reported by the messengers (who had just arrived from Judah) was that which had been inflicted by Nebuchadnezzar more than one hundred years previously! Nehemiah had not been sad in the king’s presence before, but now his grief could not be controlled or concealed (2:1-2). This makes it absolutely certain that it was a NEW and unexpected calamity that had befallen the Jews’ beloved city. Also, this agrees perfectly with Nehemiah’s petition to the king that he might return to Jerusalem and “build” the city -- this word is of broad significance, one of its more common meanings is to REPAIR (see Strong’s Concordance). This is obviously its meaning here, as is evident from the detailed account of the work performed in chapter 3, where the only building spoken of is the repairing of the walls and gates -- the very parts reported by Hanani as having been damaged. Please note that the word “repaired” is used over 30 times in that chapter, being used interchangeably with “builded.” Also note that the existence of houses is referred to incidently in the same chapter -- verses 10, 16, 20 &c. It is evident that the work was a comparatively small one since it was completed within the short space of 52 days (6:15).
There is, however, a statement in chapter 7 that needs to be explained: “Now the city was large and great (broad in spaces, see margin, Cambridge Bible) and the houses not builded.” This is easily explained. The passage describes a state of affairs that existed AFTER Nehemiah’s work was completed, and therefore it cannot, in any way you look at it, be seriously taken to mean that the city had not been rebuilt. The meaning clearly indicates that there were still some wide unoccupied spaces wherein the houses had not yet been erected.
At this point we should reiterate that the Seventy Weeks were to start -- NOT from the building of the city (much less from its completion) but -- from the going forth of the word to restore and to build it. In Ezra 1:1-4 we have the record of the word going forth, which perfectly fulfilled both Isaiah’s and Jeremiah’s prophecies, which also perfectly answered Daniel’s prayer, and which perfectly corresponds to the words of Gabriel. Also, we should realize, the Bible gives GREAT PROMINENCE to this decree of Cyrus, and the date of it is given in two passages -- 2 Chronicles 36:22 and Ezra 1:1.
On the other side of the coin, we find that there is absolutely nothing in Nehemiah 2 that answers to the words of the angel -- no commandment or decree going forth -- but merely letters given to Nehemiah granting him safe conduct as far as Jerusalem, and letters to the keeper of the king’s forest ordering him to supply timber for the gates, for the wall of the city and for Nehemiah’s house.
Finally, the epoch-making decree of Cyrus is related to the entire scheme of Bible chronology because it was 70 years from the beginning of the captivity in Babylon -- whereas the 7th year of Artaxerxes and the 20th year of Artaxerxes (mentioned in Nehemiah 2) is, at best, an uncertainty! In fact, the word “Artaxerxes” is a TITLE meaning chief-ruler given to all the Persian kings. Some are of the opinion that the ruler mentioned in Nehemiah is Darius (Hystaspes), and the same person as the Ahasuerus of Esther. Others think he was Longimanus, who supposedly followed Xerxes and Artabanus but, as we have seen, was none other than Xerxes! With the present state of knowledge we have at our disposal, this question cannot be settled. However, as to Cyrus -- THERE IS NO UNCERTAINTY AT ALL!
3. “Unto the Messiah”
The words “unto the Messiah the Prince” define the goal toward which the long chronological line of the Bible had been steadily moving. In the time of Daniel the voice of prophecy was about to be quieted, and the inspired history of YEHOVAH God’s ancient people was about to come to an end. But, before the Biblical record was about to close, the final stage of the Old Testament chronology was made known to “Daniel the Prophet” -- and was recorded by him in the Bible. From the going forth of the decree of Cyrus unto the Deliverer -- of whom Cyrus was a remarkable type -- was to be a period of 69 “sevens” of years.
The words “unto the Messiah” reveal to us with absolute clarity and certainty to what point in the life-time of Yeshua the Messiah the measure of 69 sevens (483 years) must reach. The very word Messiah -- which is equivalent to the Greek Christos -- means “the Anointed.” Now when, during the Messiah’s life-time, was he anointed and presented to Israel? The answer is clearly given in the Gospels and in the Book of Acts. It was at HIS BAPTISM IN THE JORDAN RIVER -- for it was at this time that the holy spirit descended upon him in the shape of a dove. And it was at this time that John the Baptist bore witness to him as the Son of YEHOVAH God and the Lamb of YEHOVAH God. As the apostle Peter declared in Acts 10:38: “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the holy spirit and with power.” And from this time on Yeshua gave himself to his public Messianic ministry as a “minister of the circumcision.”
The Messiah himself testified to this after his return to Galilee in the power of the spirit where, according to Isaiah 9:1-2, the “Great Light” was to arise -- see also Matthew 3:12-16. On the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue in Nazareth and read these remarkable words from the Book of Isaiah: “The spirit of the LORD is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor”; and then, having sat down, and the eyes of all being fastened intently upon him, he said, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:16-21). Therefore, Yeshua declared himself to be the “Anointed” one -- the Messiah -- at that time.
John the Baptist was sent to “bear witness” of the Messiah, and “that he should be made manifest to Israel” (John 1:6-7, 31). This special ministry of John was discharged by him at the time of the Messiah’s baptism. Therefore, when Yeshua had been “anointed” with the holy spirit, and had been “made manifest to Israel” by John’s witness, the words of the prophecy “unto the Anointed one” were then completely fulfilled. From the time of this remarkable event, down to the day of his death, the Messiah was constantly before the people of Israel in his new Messianic role, and was continuously devoting himself to fulfilling his Messianic service in doing good, speaking YEHOVAH’s words, healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, cleansing the lepers, raising the dead, and preaching the good news of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God!
As a matter of fact, even before he announced himself in the synagogue in Nazareth as YEHOVAH God’s “Anointed One,” Yeshua plainly said to the woman of Samaria “I that speak unto thee am He” (John 4:25-26) when she spoke of “Messiah, Who is called Christ.” Moreover, when the Samaritans came to see him after hearing the woman’s report, he fully revealed himself so that they were constrained to confess him, saying, “We have heard him ourselves, and KNOW that this is indeed the Christ (the Anointed One), the Saviour of the world” (verse 42).
The very purpose, as well as the outcome of John the Baptist’s public testimony to the Messiah, is clearly revealed by the words of those who followed him after hearing that testimony. We find mentioned that “One of the two who heard John speak and followed him (Yeshua) was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first findeth his own brother and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ” (John 1:40-41).
In these scriptures we find stated in both Hebrew and Greek, through the agency of the holy spirit, the important fact that Yeshua was the Anointed One. The significance of this should not be lost. That “this Jesus is the Christ” is the great point of apostolic testimony (Acts 17:3) -- and it is the substance of “our faith,” for “whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (I John 5:1, 4-5). It is also the rock (foundation) upon which he builds his church -- see Matthew 16:18 and 1 Corinthians 3:11.
YEHOVAH God’s spirit has given us proof upon proof that, from Yeshua’s baptism and manifestation to Israel, he was, in the fullest sense, the MESSIAH or the Anointed of YEHOVAH God. Obviously there was no previous event in the lifetime of the Messiah that could, in any way, be taken as fulfilling the words of Gabriel. And it is equally as clear that no subsequent event could be taken as the fulfillment of those words. There could be no subsequent occasion when the Messiah was any more the “Anointed One” than when the spirit descended upon him at his baptism in the Jordan. Thus the scriptures themselves exclude all other possibilities and lock squarely onto the occasion when he was Anointed and presented to Israel in his Messianic role. HIS BAPTISM THEREFORE MARKED THE TERMINATION OF THE 69 WEEKS OF DANIEL 9:25 AND THE BEGINNING OF THE LAST OF THE 70 WEEKS.
In addition to the above evidence, we have the culminating proof that the epoch of his baptism -- and this alone -- is formally dated in the Bible, and his age at the time is stated. For in Luke 3:1-3 the time of the preaching and baptism of John is given with extraordinary accuracy -- which certifies to us that that era has a place of special importance in connection with Bible chronology as a whole. It is an impressive fact that both Cyrus’ decree and John’s baptism -- that is, both the BEGINNING and the ENDING of the 69 weeks -- are set before us with the greatest detail, and that they are given with reference to the reigns of Gentile rulers. One is given as occurring “in the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia,” and the other “in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar.” Writes Philip Mauro –
This is a clear indication that the things which were to be consummated within the “determined” period of seventy weeks were matters which concerned, not the Jews only, but all mankind, having to do with the salvation of Gentiles as well as Jews. God’s dealings theretofore had been matters of Jewish history; but now, beginning with the voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord,” a new era was beginning, one in which God’s dealings were to be matters of world-history. It is appropriate, therefore, that we should have at this precise point a change from terms of Jewish to terms of Gentile chronology.
The One Week
We have seen that 69 of the 70 prophetic weeks were completed at the baptism of Yeshua the Messiah and his manifestation to Israel through the testimony of John the Baptist. This leaves but “one week” (Daniel 9:27) of the prophetic period. In the prophecy that week is set apart from the other 69. The reason for this is the fact that in that particular “week” there occurred the most fantastic and transcendent events of all time -- and of all creation! For this is the period wherein the Messiah was made known to Israel and began his ministry; and the period wherein he made atonement for the sins of the people and wherein the holy spirit came down from heaven and the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God was opened to all believers.
There are many out there, including some in the Churches of God, that erroneously teach that the 70th week of the prophecy of Daniel 9 is disconnected from the other 69 and thrust way into the future. These false teachers claim that Daniel 9:27 has nothing to do the Messiah -- but with a future Antichrist. It is not the purpose of this article to cover this deceptive doctrine, but suffice it to point out that the expression “seventy weeks” -- as a measure of time -- can only mean CONTINUOUS, or CONSECUTIVE, weeks. And, understand this, if this measure of time be broken off at the end of the 69th week, then the great events with which the prophecy is concerned -- namely the “cutting off” of the Messiah (thus finishing the transgression, making an end of sin, making reconciliation for iniquity, etc.) -- would be left OUTSIDE THE SEVENTY WEEKS ALTOGETHER!! It is sufficient to say at this time that this viewpoint is totally destitute of support in the Bible -- and contrary to the terms of the prophecy itself. It should be pointed out, however, that the words “for one week” in Daniel 9:27 of the Authorized Version do not give the true sense of the original -- there being no “for” in the text, nor anything to imply it. The true sense of the passage, as revealed in the Septuagint, is that the “one week” (the last of the 70, of which 69 had previously been accounted for) would witness the confirming of the New Covenant with many whereby the sacrifices and oblations of the Old Covenant were caused to cease -- and the things predicted in verse 24 were fulfilled. For more details read Matthew 26:28 (noting the words “covenant” and “many”), and Hebrews 10:9.
As Daniel states in 9:27, it was “in the midst of the week” that the Messiah was crucified, because his ministry lasted three years according to the Book of John. The last verse is entirely appropriate -- in fact, necessary -- to complete the prophecy of the Messiah. To assign that verse to some future Antichrist is to insert into the prophecy an element that is utterly foreign to it -- and which destroys its unity! It also destroys the effect of the marvelous fulfillment -- through the death and resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah -- of this amazing prophecy.
“The Time” Fulfilled
The first proclamation of the Messiah, recorded in Mark 1:14-15, had reference to this amazing “time” -- the 70th week of the prophecy. There can be little doubt about it because it was right at the beginning of that 70th week that the Messiah “came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye and believe the gospel.” Clearly, the 70th week had now come, for the 69th week had only brought us “unto the Messiah.” That week is the only “time” whose measure had been given in the unfulfilled prophetic scriptures. It was THE TIME OF ALL TIMES -- the time of Immanuel -- when Yeshua fulfilled his role as the Messiah, preaching, healing, blessing and dying for the sins of the people, to rise from the dead and enter into his ministry as High Priest in heaven. It is the “time” when the holy spirit came down to abide with men, and the gospel of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God went out to first Israel and then the world.
The Messiah was born in 3 B.C., therefore the Messiah’s 30th year, corresponding to the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar, would be 28 A.D. -- and his death, resurrection and ascension -- and the coming of the holy spirit -- was in 31 A.D. When dying on the tree, the Messiah prayed for his murderers, saying “Father forgive them,” and the answer is seen in the fact that YEHOVAH God withheld the judgment -- the destruction of Jerusalem, foretold by Daniel and by the Messiah in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 -- for just 40 years (Jewish inclusive reckoning) when the city was destroyed by the armies of Titus, “the people of the prince that shall come,” in 70 A.D. During this period of time the gospel of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God was diligently preached “to the Jew first,” and tens of thousands were converted.
As we can see, the history of the children of Israel began and ended with a probationary period of 40 years. The first period of 40 years’ probation began with the sacrifice of the Passover lamb in Egypt; the second began with the antitype, the sacrifice of Yeshua the Messiah -- the true Passover Lamb. At the close of the first of those periods YEHOVAH God brought the children of Israel into the land He had promised to their fathers. At the close of the second He drove them out of that land and scattered them among all the nations of the world.
There is one -- and only one -- continuous line of dated events in the Bible. It extends from the creation of Adam to the resurrection of the Messiah, and includes in it the prophecies of Daniel and the period of the Persian kings. Without this Divine historical guideline important events in the Bible narrative can be misconstrued and placed in the wrong context. Instead of relying on manmade chronologies we should look to YEHOVAH God’s Word for the TRUE time line that correctly unravels the prophecies of His servants.
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Taking the Lead in the Search for Truth!
Hope of Israel Ministries
|Scan with your