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Daniel's prophecy of 69 Weeks was fulfilled when Jesus of Nazareth was baptized in A.D. 26

This exposition presents a proof of how the 69 Weeks prophecy of Daniel 9:25, 26 can be interpreted plainly and consistently with all of scripture and history to show Jesus Christ is the `adh-mâshiyach nâghiydh, the Anointed Messiah Prince; the baptized begotten son of God who came into His anointing in A.D. 26, 483 years from Artaxerxes I decree to Ezra to 'return and see to Jerusalem' (as prophesied in Daniel 9:25), and was crucified on a Wednesday Passover in A.D. 30 fulfilling His being "cut off" (as prophesied in Daniel 9:26).

Pursuant to demonstrating this proof, a related proof showing the harmonization of the gospel accounts of Passion Week reconciled with calendars is offered as well.

This proof is organized as follows:

The scripture links default to the NASB at BibleGateway.com, where you may readily click on other translations as you may desire. The explanation here does not pivot or rely upon any one translation. The Blue Letter Bible and the JPS Bible have been referenced when the original Hebrew was a consideration.

Historical synopsis: (see timelines at: A Chronology of Scripture; Mesopotamian Babylon; Postexilic Chronology; Babylonian & Persian King Chronology)

Note that key anchor dates are highlighted in     
740
BC
Isaiah begins
BC
Isaiah prophecies Cyrus is God's anointed, that Jerusalem and temple will be rebuilt
Isa 44:28 KJV/Heb; Isa 44:28 YLT; Isa 44:28 JPs
681
BC
Death of Isaiah
627
BC
Jeremiah begins
605
BC
Daniel begins, Nebuchadnezzar Accession, Jeremiah prophecies 70 years of servitude to Nebuchadnezzar Jer 25:11; Jer 29:10
586
BC
Jerusalem sacked by Nebuchadnezzar (End of Judah Timeline)
580
BC
Lamentations recorded, Jews exiled
562
BC
AvilMarduk succeeds Nebuchadnezzar
539
BC
Cyrus captures Babylon from Belshazzar son of Nabonidus (Dan 5:30) (Cyrus Cylinder)
538
BC
Daniel's 70-week prophecy made in 1st year of Governor of Babylon - Darius the Mede) Dan 9:1-2; Dan 9:25
538
BC
Cyrus decrees Jews to rebuild temple Ezra 1:1-3; 2Chron 36:22-23
537
BC
first return of Temple artifacts and some exiles under Sheshbazzar Ezra 1:11
535
BC
70-year-exile ends, main return of exiles under Zerubbabel Ezra 2; Temple rebuild begins; Ezra 3:8-10; (Postexilic Chronology)
530
BC
Cyrus killed in battle; Cambyses is king of Babylon; Temple rebuild stopped Ezra 4:24; (Cyrus)
522
BC
Pseudo-Smerdis is king of Babylon
522
BC
Darius I (the Great) succeeds Cambyses as king of Babylon
520
BC
Temple rebuilding resumes Ezra 4:24
515
BC
Temple completed Ezra 6:15; (Postexilic Chronology)
486
BC
Xerxes I (Ahasuerus) succeeds Darius I (Hystaspis) as king of Babylon
465
BC
Artaxerxes I (Longhand) succeeds Xerxes I as king of Babylon; (Artaxerxes Timeline)
458
BC
Artaxerxes I 7th year decree that Ezra return to Jerusalem Ezra 7:8-14; (Artaxerxes Timeline)
445
BC
Artaxerxes I in 20th year decrees Nehemiah to rebuild wall of Jerusalem Neh 2:1-9 (completed in 52 days Neh 6:15)
- Registration of families who had returned under Zerubbabel
- Lots cast for new Jerusalem residents
423
BC
Xerxes II succeeds Artaxerxes I (Longhand)
423
BC
Darius II succeeds Xerxes II
27
BC
Augustus Ceasar ( Ceasars, scroll down to Roman Empire)
5
BC
Birth of Jesus Christ, week of August 13th
4
BC
Herod the Great dies, succeeded by 3 sons:
- Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee
- Herod Philip, Tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis
- Lysanias Tetrarch of Abilene
12
AD
Tiberius co-regent with Augustus Ceasar
14
AD
Tiberius Ceasar (Augustus dies)
26
AD
Pontius Pilate appointed Governor of Judea by Tiberius
26
AD
Jesus Christ baptized (Tiberius Ceasar 15th year) "at about 30 years old" - Luke 3:1; Luke 3:23
30
AD
Jesus Christ crucified April 3rd A.D. 30 after 3 1/2 year ministry (Passion Week)
Daniel 9:25

"So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until MessiahH4899 the PrinceH5057 there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.

New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation (1995)

a) Who is "Messiah the Prince"?

"Messiah" is Strong's 4899:

mâshîyach
maw-shee'-akh
From H4886; anointed; usually a consecrated person (as a king, priest, or saint); specifically the Messiah: - anointed, Messiah.

Brown Driver Briggs Definition: mâshîyach
1) anointed, anointed one

1a) of the Messiah, Messianic prince
1b) of the king of Israel
1c) of the high priest of Israel
1d) of Cyrus
1e) of the patriarchs as anointed kings

"Prince" is Strong's 5057:

nâgîyd nâgîd
naw-gheed', naw-gheed'
From H5046; a commander (as occupying the front), civil, military or religious; generally (abstract plural), honorable themes: - captain, chief, excellent thing, (chief) governor, leader, noble, prince, (chief) ruler.

Brown Driver Briggs Definition:
nâgîyd / nâgîd
1) leader, ruler, captain, prince

1a) ruler, prince
1b) prince-overseer
1c) ruler (in other capacities)
1d) princely things

Anointed (in this context) means divinely selected. It can also mean to pour oil upon in a sacred rite of consecration (a setting apart). Prince is the begotten son of a King. So, "Messiah the Prince" would be the anointed (divinely selected & consecrated) begotten son of God.

b) What is the decree?

To rebuild and restore Jerusalem (not the Temple). Regarding the word "decree" in Dan 9:25 (Strong's 1697), note that in Dan 9:23 the same word (Strong's 1697) is translated "command" when issued from God.

Dan 9:23 (NASB) "At the beginning of your supplications the commandH1697 was issuedH3318, and I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed; so give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision.

Dan 9:25 (NASB) "So you are to know and discern that from the issuingH4161 of a decreeH1697 to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.

New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation (1995)

So an earthly "decree" carries authoritative weight and imperative. The "decree" Daniel prophesied is more than 'speaking' or 'writing' - it must have authority and an imperative to act behind it.

c) When was decree issued?

Not 586 B.C. (Nebuchadnezzar had just sacked Jerusalem and no decrees were issued this year)

Not 538 B.C. (Cyrus 1st year proclaims to rebuild temple, under Sheshbazzar and Zerubbabel)

Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, 'The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Ezra 1:2

Not 444 B.C. (Artaxerxes 20th full regnal year, decree to Nehemiah to rebuild the wall)

And I said to the king, "If it please the king, let letters be given me for the governors of the provinces beyond the River, that they may allow me to pass through until I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress which is by the temple, for the wall of the city and for the house to which I will go " And the king granted them to me because the good hand of my God was on me. Neh 2:7-8

But 458 B.C. (Artaxerxes 7th full regnal year, decree to Ezra to return to Jerusalem with money, volunteers, authority over treasurers and to appoint a government)

Ezr 7:8-9 (NASB) He came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. 9 For on the first of the first month he began to go up from Babylon; and on the first of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, because the good hand of his God was upon him.

Ezr 7:11 (NASB) Now this is the copy of the decree which King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe, learned in the words of the commandments of the LORD and His statutes to Israel:

Ezr 7:12-26 (NASB) "Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace.

And now 13 I have issued a decree that any of the people of Israel and their priests and the Levites in my kingdom who are willing to go to Jerusalem, may go with you. 14 "Forasmuch as you are sent by the king and his seven counselors to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem according to the law of your God which is in your hand, 15 and to bring the silver and gold, which the king and his counselors have freely offered to the God of Israel, whose dwelling is in Jerusalem, 16 with all the silver and gold which you find in the whole province of Babylon, along with the freewill offering of the people and of the priests, who offered willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem; 17 with this money, therefore, you shall diligently buy bulls, rams and lambs, with their grain offerings and their drink offerings and offer them on the altar of the house of your God which is in Jerusalem. 18 "Whatever seems good to you and to your brothers to do with the rest of the silver and gold, you may do according to the will of your God. 19 "Also the utensils which are given to you for the service of the house of your God, deliver in full before the God of Jerusalem. 20 "The rest of the needs for the house of your God, for which you may have occasion to provide, provide for it from the royal treasury. 21 "I, even I, King Artaxerxes, issue a decree to all the treasurers who are in the provinces beyond the River, that whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, may require of you, it shall be done diligently, 22 even up to 100 talents of silver, 100 kors of wheat, 100 baths of wine, 100 baths of oil, and salt as needed. 23 "Whatever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be done with zeal for the house of the God of heaven, so that there will not be wrath against the kingdom of the king and his sons. 24 "We also inform you that it is not allowed to impose tax, tribute or toll on any of the priests, Levites, singers, doorkeepers, Nethinim or servants of this house of God. 25 "You, Ezra, according to the wisdom of your God which is in your hand, appoint magistrates and judges that they may judge all the people who are in the province beyond the River, even all those who know the laws of your God; and you may teach anyone who is ignorant of them. 26 "Whoever will not observe the law of your God and the law of the king, let judgment be executed upon him strictly, whether for death or for banishment or for confiscation of goods or for imprisonment."

New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation (1995)

So:

  • Artaxerxes 7th year began 1 Tishri 458 by Ezra's reckoning according to the Jewish civil/fall calendar.
  • Ezra records his journey:
    • departing Babylon 1st day 1st month (Tishri) of Artaxerxes 7th year,
    • arriving Jerusalem 1st day 5th month of Artaxerxes 7th year, or from Tishri 458 B.C. to Shevat 457 B.C.
  • Artaxerxes issued the decree in 458 B.C.; plausibly as early as Shevat 458 B.C. but not later than Ezra's departure date 1 Tishri 458 B.C.

464 B.C. is Artaxerxes 1st regnal year (see Artaxerxes Timeline), so; -464 + 6 = -458 B.C. (start of his 7th regnal year and year of Ezra's departure) and thus the decree was also issued sometime between Shevat and Elul in 458 B.C., prior to Ezra's departure.

or visually:

 Xerxes
Reign of Artaxerxes I
decree issued
last ->
accession
1st
2nd
3rd
4th
5th
6th
7th
8th
465
464
463
462
461
460
459
458
457
Kislev 
Tevet
Elul
Tishri
Elul
Tishri
Elul
Tishri
Elul
Tishri
Elul
Tishri
Elul
Tishri
Elul
Tishri
Elul
Shevat
 
Ezra's journey from Babylon to Jerusalem ->
<-Tishri 1 458 to
Shevat 1 457->

Two details are noteworthy in the above table:

  1. Artaxerxes I Longhand's accession date is not precisely established. Most scholars place it very late in 465 B.C. immediately after his father's (Xerxes I Ahasuerus) murder, while others place it up to 7 months later, midyear in 464 B.C. Regardless, this variable accession period preceded and does not change the next (Jewish civil/fall) calendar year which began Tishri 464, and accordingly Artaxerxes I Longhand's 1st regnal year.
  2. Presumably Ezra had the decree in hand when he departed ( 'Artaxerxes 7th year, 1st of the 1st month', i.e. 1 Tishri 458 B.C.), which means Artaxerxes issued the decree before Ezra left. Thus Artaxerxes I Longhand issued the decree perhaps as early as Shevat (1st month of 458 B.C. in the middle of his 6th regnal year) and as late as Elul (the month prior to Tishri) 458 B.C. This is a range of 8-9 months that span from Artaxerxes I Longhand's 6th regnal year up to beginning his 7th regnal year, but all fall within the Julian calendar year of 458 B.C. for the purposes of our calculations.

See Artaxerxes Timeline for detailed development of the dates for accession and regnal years of Artaxerxes I Longhand, and the decree to Ezra.

Regarding the 69-weeks beginning with the decree from Artaxerxes I Longhand to Ezra, note also that other erroneous computations using "360-day prophetic years" or lunar months are a consequence of using an incorrect starting date, which in turn was an erroneous consequence of assuming the wrong ending event as Messiah's triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm "Sunday" (which actually occurred on Saturday) rather than the correct ending event of Messiah's baptism in the Jordan (an actual anointing in both water & Spirit).

d) How long is 69 weeks (sevens)?

Prophetic 'weeks' are sevens (heptads) of years, so (7 'weeks' + 62 'weeks') x 7 years/'week' = 483 years

A "year" is simply a solar year of approximately 365.25 days. There is no scriptural basis that the prophecy was given to Daniel in anything other than common solar years (as measured just prior to Passover at the spring or vernal equinox, which is readily recognizable by its daytime and nighttime being of equal length). Neither does scripture anywhere define, record or imply a 360-day year (12 x 30-day month). There are only two passages that imply a 30-day month: Gen 7:11,24 to Gen 8:3-4 and Rev 11:2-3. However the duration of an actual lunar month (a "lunation" or "synodic month") varies from 29 days 6 hours 30 minutes to 29 days 20 hours and averages about 29 days 12 hours 44 minutes. Possibly the authors of Genesis and Revelation (when implying the number of days in a month) knew months were always more than 29 days but never more than 30 and simply rounded up to 30 days.

Neither the Hebrews nor Babylonians actually used a single-length month. The Hebrew and Babylonian calendars were lunisolar, both having 354 days (six 30-day months plus six 29-day months) which was re-synchronized with the observed solar year by adding leap months approximately every 3 years (see Hebrew and Babylonian Calendar Intercalation). Consequently, errors of only a couple days accumulate over intervals of less than 3 years, while smaller errors of 6-24 hours accumulate over 19 years. So, over a period of 483 years, the Hebrews and Babylonians each would have added about 177 leap-months to their respective calendars to stay synchronized with the observed solar year and, worst case, during the last 3 of those 483 years, the sun's position versus the calendar might differ by a month.

Because the Hebrews and Babylonians both intercalated, their calendar years were closely synchronized with 365.25-day solar years over the 483 year duration of Daniel's "69 weeks".

Consequently, conversions of 483 years into lunar months or some count of days are mistaken because the Hebrews (and Babylonians) intercalated, nor are conversions needed to Robert Anderson's "prophetic 360-day years" because there is no scriptural basis that the prophecy was given to Daniel in anything other than commonly observed (solar) years, nor conversions to "360-day Babylonian years" because the Babylonians had no such year and, like the Hebrews, used an intercalated 354-day lunisolar calendar.

So, computing the year of the "Anointed Prince" is simply: -458 B.C. + 483 years + 1 = A.D. 26

Keep in mind we're essentially adding a duration of years from a B.C. date across B.C./A.D. to compute an A.D. date, and addition assumes there is a year 0 (but year 0 is undefined; years are numbered from -1 B.C. to 1 A.D.) and so we add 1 to the date to correct the year number, compensating for the absence of year number 0. (Consider the mistake of adding 1 year to -1 B.C. and mathematically computing year 0 instead of year 1 A.D.)

e) Which "Anointed Prince" came?

Jesus Christ was baptized in water and in the Holy Spirit in 15th year of Tiberius Caesar; A.D. 12 + 15 -1 = A.D. 26 (note we subtracted 1 because there is no 0th year of Tiberius reign since it begins with year 1) and when Pontius Pilate was Governor of Judea (A.D. 26 was Pilate's 1st year); Herod, Tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip, Tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias, Tetrarch of Abilene; Luke 3:1 and "when Jesus himself was about thirty years old." Luke 3:23.

visually again, here are the years of Tiberius as they correspond to Jesus age:

        <= BC  AD =>                                                        
Tiberius' Years
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
 
BC/AD
-6
-5
-4
-3
-2
-1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
Jesus' age
0
1
2
3
4
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
Birth ↑
week of Aug 13 


Daniel's 69-week prophecy fulfilled at Jesus' baptism



Crucifixion ↑
3.5 yr
←ministry→
Tiberius' years are offset several months; his 
1st  is offset 10 months from 12 AD
while years beginning with his 
3rd  are offset 8 months from 14 AD

So then, computing Jesus age and year of baptism we have A.D. 26 - -5 B.C. - 1 = 30. Because we are subtracting two dates on either side of B.C./A.D. to compute the duration of years between them, we now must subtract 1 year from the duration answer to correct for the absence of year 0. Jesus' 30th birthday would have been during the week of August 13th in A.D. 26. He was baptized about a month later coincident with Tiberius beginning his 15th year in September.

Hence, Jesus would have been "about thirty years of age" in the "fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar", exactly as Luke reported, beginning a 3 and 1/2 year ministry ending with Jesus' crucifixion on April 3rd of A.D. 30, approximately four months before His 34th birthday in August.

While Tiberius ascended to Ceasar in A.D. 14, Augustus had been dying (without heirs) and by A.D. 12 had made Tiberius co-regent, successor, and Supreme Military Governor over all of Roman provinces (i.e. Tiberius became the Roman military authority in Judea in A.D. 12). Tiberius thus had provincial and military authority over Judea since A.D. 12, and Luke (and contemporaries) having lived under Tiberius for 15 years by the time of Christ's baptism might reasonably reckon Tiberius reign from when his succession was announced and when they first felt his imposition acting as Ceasar and Supreme Military Governor, rather than when Augustus died or new coins were minted. Commentary on Luke 3, verses 1-2.

Jesus' baptism (water & spirit) was His 'anointing', His divine appointment by God the Father in a rite of consecration setting Jesus apart for the task of saving all creation. Instead of oil, Jesus was 'anointed' with the Holy Spirit:

Luk 3:21-22 (NASB) Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased."

New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation (1995)

Jesus' anointing was in A.D. 26 (just after his 30th birthday in the week of August 13th). Assuming Daniel's 69 prophetic weeks are approximate to the month, and that Ezra received the decree from Artaxerxes I just prior to Ezra beginning the journey to Jerusalem in the 1st month of Artaxerxes' 7th year (Ezra 7:7-9), and further assuming that for the purposes of recording non-Jewish events that the civil calendar was used (and not the sacred calendar), then the decree would seem to have been issued around August-September of Artaxerxes 7th year.

To maintain further synchronism with the 15th year of Tiberius, the anointing (baptism) of Jesus Christ was therefore in September-October of A.D. 26, following which a 3 1/2 year ministry (as has been generally recognized) would put Jesus' crucifixion into April of A.D. 30.

Further, A.D. 30 is the only year in which the gospel Passion Week accounts can be harmonized, and is also the same year of crucifixion recorded by Eusebius in the 18th year of Tiberius.

Tiberius' years are reckoned as factual (not regnal) beginning from his co-regency with Augustus in A.D. 12, each year extending from the fall month of September through August of the following year, coinciding with 8 months of the previous calendar year and 4 months of the next calendar year.

Jesus was baptized in the 15th year of Tiberius and crucified in the 18th year of Tiberius. Reconciling these years of Tiberius is shown in the following table:

 
Tiberius
 
1  
2  
3  
4  
5  
6  
7  
8  
9  
10  
11  
12  
13  
14  
15  
16  
17  
18  
 
months JO ND JO ND JA SD JA SD JA SD JA SD JA SD JA SD JA SD JA SD JA SD JA SD JA SD JA SD JA SD JA SD JA SD JA SD JA SD
year AD
12 
13 
14 
15 
16 
17 
18 
19 
20 
21 
22 
23 
24 
25 
26 
27 
28 
29 
30 
Jesus
16 
17 
18 
19 
20 
21 
22 
23 
24 
25 
26 
27 
28 
29 
30 
31 
32 
33 
34 
Daniel's 69-week prophecy fulfilled at Jesus' baptism ↑
Jesus' crucifixion ↑
 

The 1st year of Tiberius began as coregent in October of A.D. 12 and he was named head of state in September of A.D. 14 which pushed his factual year earlier two months, reckoned thereafter from the fall month of September through August of the following year.

Consequently, Tiberius' 15th year spanned the last 4 months of A.D. 26 (when Christ was baptized just after His 30th birthday) to the first 8 months of A.D. 27, and Tiberius' 18th year spanned the last 4 months of A.D. 29 into the first 8 months of A.D. 30 (when Christ was crucified on April 3rd).

Above, "JO" means January through October, "JA" means January through August, "SD" means September through December, and "ND" means November through December, all ranges inclusive.

Regarding Daniel's 69-weeks ending with the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan river, note again that other erroneous computations using "360-day prophetic years" or lunar months are a consequence of having assumed the wrong ending event as Messiah's triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm "Sunday" (which actually occurred on Saturday), and then working backwards to find a suitable starting "decree". But because both the ending and starting events are wrong, an erroneous conversion of the intervening 483 years is forced to fit the erroneous endpoints.

Jesus is the "`adh-mâshiyach nâghiydh", the Anointed Messiah Prince; the baptized begotten son of God, who came into his anointing in A.D. 26, at about the age of 30, 483 years (69 prophetic weeks) from Artaxerxes I decree to Ezra to 'return and see to Jerusalem' (all as prophesied in Daniel 9:25), and was crucified on a Wednesday Passover in A.D. 30 at 34-plus years of age (fulfilling His being "cut off" as prophesied in Daniel 9:26) .

f) Was Jerusalem rebuilt with streets and a trench/moat/wall, in times of trouble?

Clearly it was (and clearly with a wall, not a moat). In part by Jews who came with Sheshbazzar or Zerubbabel under Cyrus proclamation to rebuild the Temple. They weren't staying in a motel and must have done some rebuilding of some city facilities, but did so without Cyrus' specific proclamation to rebuild Jerusalem. They were even accused of rebuilding the city in violation of Cyrus' proclamation, which accusation was later dismissed by Darius I who reaffirmed Cyrus' proclamation to rebuild the Temple (Ezra 6:1-12) . Ultimately Jerusalem proper was rebuilt by Ezra's return and his volunteers under the decree from Artaxerxes I (Ezra 7:11-14), and then the wall rebuilt by Nehemiah under a subsequent decree from Artaxerxes I to specifically rebuild 'the wall' (Neh 2:7-9), also against opposition (Neh 4).

A literal reading of Dan 9:25 is:

from the decree to the anointed prince - 7 weeks and 62 weeks - the street (or broad place) shall be built and the wall even in troublous times.

The starting event is the decree; the ending event is the anointed prince; in between will be 7 and 62 weeks during which the street and wall are rebuilt in troublous times. Some commentators argue the rebuilding of the street and wall under Ezra and Nehemiah essentially took the initial 7 weeks (49 years). Proven or not, it doesn't change the overall duration of 69 weeks from Artaxerxes I decree in 458 B.C. (his 7th full regnal year) to Christ's baptism in A.D. 26, exactly 483 years (-458 + 483 +1 = 26).

Israel may know when the Messiah will come by marking 483 years from when a decree is issued. How would Israel know what decree - when to start counting? Not any decree, but a decree to rebuild Jerusalem. Quite a remarkable and noteworthy decree considering Israel's captivity. So Israel was to watch for a decree to rebuild Jerusalem, add 483 years to the date of that decree, and on that future date the Messiah would come. The prophecy served two purposes. It comforted a captive Israel that Jerusalem would be rebuilt and also that a Messiah would come.

Consider the following chapters and verses (NASB where quoted):

2 Chron 36:22-23 Cyrus of Persia decreed in 538 B.C. that Jews be allowed to return and build the Zerubbabel Temple. That work was completed in 515 B.C.

Ezra 7 - Artaxerxes I (7th year) decreed in 458 B.C. that Ezra go rebuild Jerusalem.

Neh 2 - Artaxerxes I (20th year) decrees in 445 B.C. that Nehemiah return to Jerusalem specifically to rebuild the wall, which was completed in 52 days - 444/3 B.C. (Neh 6:15)

Neh 2:17 Then I said to them, "You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate [in ruins] and its gates burned by fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach."

Neh 3 - The people rebuild the wall - each family working on a section adjacent to the homes in which they were living.

Neh 5:14 Moreover, from the day that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes (445 B.C. - 433 B.C.), for twelve years, neither I nor my kinsmen have eaten the governor's food allowance.

Neh 4:1-6:14 The rebuilding was in "troublous times" (as per Dan 9:25), confronting: mockery ( Neh 4:1-6), conspiracy (Neh 4:7-23), extortion (Neh 5:1-19), compromise (Neh 6:1-4), slander (Neh 6:5-9), and treachery (Neh 6:10-14).

Neh 7:4-6 Now the city was large and spacious, but the people in it were few and the houses were not built. Then my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles, the officials and the people to be enrolled by genealogies. Then I found the book of the genealogy of those who came up first in which I found the following record: These are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his city,

Neh 7:66-69 (and Ezra 2:64-67) The whole assembly together was 42,360, besides their male and their female servants, of whom there were 7,337; and they had 245 male and female singers. Their horses were 736; their mules, 245; their camels, 435; their donkeys, 6,720.

Neh 11:1-2 Now the leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem, but the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while nine-tenths remained in the other cities. And the people blessed all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem.

Some archeology/history background:

Three thousand years ago the City of David had about 2,000 inhabitants living in an area of 10 to 12 acres. The city's population and area more than doubled during the reign of King Solomon (ca. 961-922 BC), and reached 25,000 and 125 acres, respectively, before the destruction of 586 BC. By the time of the Roman destruction of the city in AD 70, its area had grown to about 425 acres and its population had peaked at about 60,000, a level not exceeded for more than 1,800 years.

VII. Jerusalem: From Town to Metropolis, Osher map Library, University of Southern Main

A little over a century later in 587 BC, Jerusalem was invaded by the neo-Babylonians (this is to differentiate them from Hammurabi who lived 1000 years earlier). The Temple was leveled on this occasion and the entire population, which probably was around 20,000 was deported to Nebuchadnessar's Babylon, the most famous and grand city of the age. This marked the beginning of the Diaspora, or scattering of Jewish people.

Dr. Richard Ingersoll, Lecture 2 - "Jerusalem: The City and Memory",
Arch 343: Cities in History, Rice University

The area within Nehemiah's wall is maybe 15% (4,000 ft by 1,000 ft at the widest point to 250 ft at the narrowest) of what it was under Solomon, or maybe 20 acres, but still maybe twice what it was under David. At least 1/10th of the 49,942 (42,360 + 7,337 + 245) people who had returned to Jerusalem and Judea moved back into Jerusalem proper to repopulate the city. This is in addition to those who were already living there, released by Cyrus - a prior population sufficient in size to build the Zerubbabel Temple.

So summarizing the biblical narrative above and including the historical population perspective:

515
BC
Zerubbabel Temple was completed and dedicated
458
BC
start of Dan 9:25 first 7-week prophetic period
(the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the wall was decreed by Artaxerxes I to Ezra - Ezra 7:8-25).
444/3
BC
walls of Jerusalem rebuilt encompassing twice the area as under David, though perhaps 1/7th the area under Solomon.
433
BC
approximately 5,000 to 7,000 people had returned to live in Jerusalem proper - a population 2 or 3 times larger than under David but less than half under Solomon.
409
BC
end Dan 9:25 first 7-week prophetic period
begin Dan 9:25 62-week prophetic period
26
AD
end of Dan 9:25 69-weeks Baptism of Jesus Christ

During Daniel's first 7-week prophetic period (Dan 9:25), Jerusalem and the wall had been built again, in troublous times, beginning 458 B.C. (Artaxerxes I decree in his 7th year to Ezra) and repopulated under Nehemiah by 433 B.C. (in Artaxerxes 32nd year) more than under David but less than under Solomon. The Bible does not record how long Nehemiah lived and how much Jerusalem grew from 433 B.C. to 409 B.C. (the end of Daniel's first 7-week prophetic period), but the city and population, now reestablished, continued to grow.

Jews, being preoccupied with the Temple and Jerusalem rather than God's salvation and judgement, typically misconstrue God's purpose in Daniel's 70-week prophecy. God's purpose in Daniel's prophecy was to reassure the chosen people that their Messiah-deliver would come and when. God's focus was not predicting how long it would take to rebuild Jerusalem; that was merely a 'marker' to identify and gauge the fulfillment of the prophecy of the coming of the Messiah, God's larger purpose.

Subsequent then to Daniel's 7-week period to rebuild Jerusalem and the wall, is Daniel's 62 (three score and two) week period up to the appointed time under God's plan to bring forth the Anointed Prince, Messiah, the begotten Son of a King - Jesus Christ - fulfilling the 69-week prophecy of Dan 9:25. Which brings us to Dan 9:26:

Daniel 9:26

Dan 9:26 (NASB) "Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.

New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation (1995)

a) Was the Anointed One cutoff, and have nothing?

After Jesus Anointing (baptism) in A.D. 26, some 3 1/2 years later in A.D. 30 he was crucified (cut off), with no successor lineage, and had nothing upon his death, (save the sins of us all), not even the clothes from his back which Roman soldiers had taken.

See Passion Week for a detailed timeline of the events of the week Jesus was crucified and its dating to A.D. 30.

Jews for Judaism (J4J below) raises several arguments against Daniel 9:25, 26 being fulfilled by Jesus Christ at Jews for Judaism - FAQ - Daniel. Some of their points are factually correct while others are false. Their correct points will be summarized and then the false ones refuted.

Correct are as follows (bold highlighting mine):

Jews for Judaism - Daniel - FAQ #043.html

The word mashiach is nowhere used in the Jewish Scriptures as a proper name, but as a title of authority of a king or a high priest. Therefore, a correct rendering of the original Hebrew should be: "an anointed one, a prince."

The punctuation mark 'atnach functions as the main pause within a sentence. The 'atnach is the appropriate equivalent of the semicolon in the modern system of punctuation. It thus has the effect of separating the seven weeks from the sixty-two weeks:

Some Christians claim that there is something called a "prophetic year" of 360 days, thus shortening the interval between the beginning of the 483 years which they claim began in 444 B.C.E., and the date of the crucifixion of Jesus. They do this in order to make the dates coincide, but the claim of a "prophetic year" is without any scriptural foundation.

...the words v'ayn lo (9:26) are incorrectly translated by the King James Version as "but not for himself." They should be translated as "he has nothing" or "he shall have nothing."

J4J while arguing against the King James Version translation of Dan 9:25-26, they ignored the NASB translation employed by most scholars, which reads:

Dan 9:25 (NASB) "So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah4899 the Prince5057 there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.

Dan 9:26 (NASB) "Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.

New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation (1995)

In the NASB, Strong's H4899 is translated as Messiah which means "Anointed" and Strong's H5057 is translated as "Prince", so the proof above is in fact based on the meaning of "Anointed Prince". Further, the distinction between the initial 7 weeks and the subsequent 62 weeks has been recognized and reconciled above regarding Jerusalem being rebuilt.

The NASB also correctly translates in Dan 9:26 the words v'ayn lo as "and have nothing".

And yes, a 360-day prophetic year is not supported anywhere in scripture.

Jews for Judaism - Daniel - FAQ #118.html

Christian commentators prefer to start the Seventy Weeks countdown with 444 or 445 B.C.E. because it brings their calculations closer to the time period in which Jesus died (30/33 C.E.).

Yes, they invariably start with the wrong date and event, having worked backward from the wrong end dates and events, and fudging to make it fit.

As shown above when starting with the correct date and event, a decree to restore Jerusalem, specifically Artaxerxes' decree to Ezra (Ezra 7:12-25) in 458 B.C., and adding 69 (not 70) weeks arrives exactly at the baptism (anointing) of Jesus Christ (a Prince, the begotten son of a King/God) in A.D. 26.

Jews for Judaism - Daniel - FAQ #121.html

There is no "prophetic year" of 360 days alluded to anywhere in the Bible.

Yes, this is one of those ill conceived efforts to get 69 weeks of "prophetic years" to fit the wrong date range.

False arguments are as follows (bold highlighting again mine):

Jews for Judaism - Daniel - FAQ #043.html

By creating a sixty-nine week period, which is not divided into two separate periods of seven weeks and sixty-two weeks respectively, Christians reach an incorrect conclusion, i.e., that the Messiah will come 483 years after the destruction of the First Temple.

Hence, two anointed ones are spoken of in this chapter [9:26], one of whom comes after seven weeks (Cyrus), and the other after a further period of sixty-two weeks (Alexander Yannai).

This falsehood begins as a straw man argument that the beginning event is the destruction of the First Temple. It is not. The beginning event as previously noted is Artaxerxes' decree to Ezra (Ezra 7:12-25) in 458 B.C.

It is pure self-serving fiction to argue that two time intervals, 7 weeks and 62 weeks, implies two anointed princes when the text clearly and unambiguously refers in the singular to only one anointed prince who both "comes" and is also "cut off". Further compounding these falsehoods are that:

  • Cyrus, ostensibly the former "anointed prince", was never a prince but merely a pagan Persian king (and that by his own hand) whom God "anointed" only in the sense of Cyrus being set apart (selected) for a task, nor was Cyrus ever baptized or immersed in the Holy Spirit as was Jesus Christ, the begotten Son (a true Prince) of God.
  • Alexander Yannai, ostensibly the latter "anointed prince", who like Cyrus was neither prince nor anointed by God as was Jesus, but more over Yannai is even recognized by J4J as unjust, tyrannical, and bloodthirsty - not exactly anointed prince material.
  • Both Cyrus and Yannai are postulated as anointed princes merely on the basis of two time periods but, inconsistently, both are not accorded the same fate; one "comes" while the other is "cut off" (but "cut off" at the wrong time as shown below)
  • J4J is perfectly content to add 7 + 62 together into a single 69 week period when it suits their desire (albeit mistakenly) to compute (586-49-434=103 B.C.E.) as a "cut off" date for Yannai.

Jews for Judaism - Daniel - FAQ #044.html

One needs to understand that both references, when read in the context of Christian theology, refer to Jesus after his death and supposed resurrection: Daniel 9:26 referring to after he is "cut off" and Isaiah 53:12 as a reward for his suffering and death. ... Yet, v'ayn lo, "he has nothing" or "he shall have nothing" cannot refer to Jesus' situation at or after death, if one takes the New Testament seriously. ...V'ayn lo certainly could not refer to a lack of wealth or followers, for this would not distinguish Jesus from the great majority of the world's population. One who "has nothing" or "shall have nothing" (Daniel 9:26) does not receive "a portion with the great" (Isaiah 53:12), does not rise bodily to heaven (Acts 1:9), and does not sit at the "right hand of the throne of the Majesty" (Hebrews 8:1).

This again is a false strawman argument on the part of J4J, ignoring that there are both physical and spiritual aspects to Christian theology as well as to Jesus Christ. Jesus died on the cross "having nothing", even his few clothes were taken by the soldiers. But his death was not His reward. His death was punishment for our sin and He took nothing with Him, but all was restored to Him in His resurrection. His reward (amongst other things) is to sit at the right hand of the throne of majesty:

Dan 9:26 (NASB) "Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.

Isa 53:12 (NASB) Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.

New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation (1995)

Approximately 3.5 years after his "anointing" in A.D. 26, after the 7 and 62 weeks elapsed, Jesus Christ was in fact "cut off" having nothing in the material world except the burden of our sins, which clearly distinguishes Him from everyone. Both Dan 9:26a & Isa 53:12 are fulfilled and reconciled with Christ's crucifixion. Isa 53:12a speaks to a post-resurrection reward which will be divided (shared) upon Christ's return (Rev 22:12 ...for my reward is with me... ).

Jews for Judaism - Daniel - FAQ #119.html

It is Isaiah who proclaims that Cyrus would give the actual command to rebuild Jerusalem. God declares through the prophet, "He [Cyrus] shall build My city" (Isaiah 45:13; see also Ezra 1:1-8, 6:1-5). Indeed, it was Cyrus who issued a proclamation (ca. 537 B.C.E.) for the return, and for the rebuilding to start. This occurred forty-nine years after the destruction of Jerusalem.

Isaiah 45:1 describes Cyrus as God's "anointed. His decree to rebuild Jerusalem comes forty-nine years after the destruction of the city and the Temple, which is the time when an "anointed one" (Daniel 9:25) is to come to fulfill the prophecy, ". . . until an anointed one, a prince, shall be seven weeks [forty-nine years]."

J4J's argument is a misdirection. Yes, Isaiah prophesies that Cyrus would 'say to Jerusalem and the Temple she/you will be built', but that is a verbalized personification, not a written proclamation or an issued decree. And yes, Cyrus wrote a proclamation (arguably a decree) in 537 B.C., but that was to rebuild the Temple (not Jerusalem) and Cryus' proclamation was expressly to fulfill Jeremiah's prophecy, not Daniel's.

Certainly Cyrus contributed to the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and arguably under Cyrus' direction the earliest released exiles returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple and in so doing must of necessity have rebuilt part of Jerusalem if for no other purpose than to have places to live and repair areas adjacent to, and ingress/egress for, the Temple.

But the issue is not did Cyrus allow exiles to rebuild portions of Jerusalem, but rather the issue is did Cyrus write a proclamation to rebuild Jerusalem in fulfillment of, and does Cyrus himself fulfill the "anointed prince" who would "come" in, Daniel's prophecy. Clearly, Cyrus was neither prophesied to issue decrees, nor did Cyrus in fact issue any decree to rebuild Jerusalem - a key requirement for fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy.

So no, Cyrus does not fulfill Daniel's prophecy in whole or in part; Cyrus only fulfills a portion of Jeremiah and Isaiah's prophecy.

Jeremiah's prophecy of 70-year exile:

Jer 25:11 (NASB) This whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years..

Jer 29:10 (NASB) For thus says the LORD, 'When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.

New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation (1995)

a) Were the Jews 70 years in servitude under the King of Babylon?

Nebuchadnezzar (King of Babylon) besieged Jerusalem and began to deport the population (including Daniel) in 605 B.C. Then 66 years later in 539 B.C. Cyrus ended the reign of the last Babylonian king, Belshazzar son of Nabonidus (Dan 5:30-31). A year later in 538 B.C. Cyrus writes a proclamation to rebuild the Temple and (probably) the next year Sheshbazzar returned to Jerusalem with the Temple artifacts and some exiles (Ezra 1:11) and then (probably) in 535 B.C. Zerubbabel returned with the remaining exiles to begin restoration of the Temple, 70 years after Nebuchadnezzar first began to take the Jews into exile.

b) God used Cyrus specifically to fulfill Jeremiah's prophecy of the exiles return.

2 Chr 36:22-23 (NASB) Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia--in order to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah--the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, 23 "Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, 'The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up!'"

New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation (1995)

Ezr 1:1-3 (NASB) Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying: 2 "Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, 'The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 'Whoever there is among you of all His people, may his God be with him! Let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah and rebuild the house of the LORD, the God of Israel; He is the God who is in Jerusalem.

New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation (1995)

The only 'written proclamation' from Cyrus was to rebuild the Temple ("build Him a house in Jerusalem" - in the NASB), but not to rebuild Jerusalem itself whereas in Daniel 9:25 the 'issued decree' prophesied is specifically "to restore and rebuild Jerusalem".

Further, the text explicitly states "in order to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah", i.e. fulfillment of Jeremiah's prophecy (not Isaiah's or Daniel's) was God's reason for Cyrus to write the proclamation to rebuild the Temple.

Cyrus wrote that proclamation in 538 B.C. and in 535 B.C. (70 years after Nebuchadnezzar began to take Jerusalem and Judah into exile in 605 B.C.) the exiles began to return under Zerubbabel (Ezra 2) to rebuild the Temple (Ezra 3:8-10), fulfilling Jeremiah's prophecy of return after 70 years of servitude in Babylon (Jer 25:11 and 29:10). The Zerubbabel Temple was completed and dedicated under Darius I in 515 B.C., fulfilling Cyrus proclamation to rebuild the Temple.

So God used Cyrus to specifically fulfill Jeremiah's prophecy of release of the exiles and rebuilding the Temple, and that fulfillment was completed in 515 B.C., before any decree had been issued to rebuild Jerusalem itself.

Isaiah's prophecy to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple:

But God also fulfilled Isaiah's prophecy, as well as Jeremiah's. Isaiah's prophecy clearly states that Jerusalem and the Temple will both be rebuilt, and that Cyrus is God's Shepherd in such rebuilding.

Isa 44:28 (NASB) "It is I who says of Cyrus, 'He is My shepherd! And he will perform all My desire.' And he declares of Jerusalem, 'She will be built,' And of the temple, 'Your foundation will be laid.'"

Isa 45:1 (NASB) Thus says the LORD to Cyrus His anointed, Whom I have taken by the right hand, To subdue nations before him And to loose the loins of kings; To open doors before him so that gates will not be shut:

Isa 45:13 (NASB) "I have aroused him in righteousness And I will make all his ways smooth; He will build My city and will let My exiles go free, Without any payment or reward," says the LORD of hosts.

New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation (1995)

Note firstly that God refers to Cyrus as "His anointed" and "My shepherd", but not "anointed prince" as in Daniel 9:25. The distinction in context is that Cyrus is "anointed" (set apart) by God to shepherd people, whereas the Messiah is The "Anointed Prince" who will save people, not merely take care of them. Only the Savior can save, whereas Cyrus is merely a set-apart (selected) caretaker.

To imply that Isaiah's "anointed shepherd" description of Cyrus is comparable to Daniel's "anointed prince" description of the Messiah (or God's Savior) is false oversimplification. Further, Isa 45:13 does not record the issuance of any decree, declaration or saying nor does 44:28 clearly and unequivocally state that decrees would be issued nor that Cyrus would issue them. Contrast that with Dan 9:25 (and Dan 9:23) in which the context is issuing a command or decree that carries authoritative weight and imperative:

Dan 9:23 (NASB) "At the beginning of your supplications the command1697 was issued3318, and I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed; so give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision.

Dan 9:25 (NASB) "So you are to know and discern that from the issuing4161 of a decree1697 to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.

New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation (1995)

The point being that the phrase in Isa 44:28 "say (or saying) of (or to) Jerusalem" can not be construed as an "issued decree", and further if it were, then Isaiah would be a false prophet because Cyrus never issued a decree to rebuild Jerusalem. Cyrus only wrote a proclamation to rebuild the Temple, but again that was explicitly to fulfill Jeremiah's prophecy, not Isaiah's or Daniel's.

Isaiah's prophecy of 44:28 covered both the Temple and Jerusalem and that Cyrus would further say that both would be rebuilt. Isaiah's prophecy preceded and was broader and more general than:

  • Jeremiah's, subsequently fulfilled when Cyrus explicitly proclaimed the Temple to be rebuilt, and
  • Daniel's, subsequently fulfilled when Artaxerxes explicitly decreed Jerusalem to be rebuilt.

Isaiah's prophecy of 44:28 was a foreshadowing of Jeremiah's and Daniel's regarding the rebuilding of the Temple and then Jerusalem. Throughout chapters 1-39, Isaiah essentially denounces Judah, other nations, Israel and Sennacherib Then from chapter 40 onward Isaiah is consoling Israel and Judah, and in 44 Isaiah is foretelling that the Temple and Jerusalem would be restored. God left the revelation of further specifics regarding restoration of the Temple (first) and Jerusalem (subsequent) to Jeremiah and Daniel, respectively.

Which is in fact what happened. Cyrus clearly proclaimed the rebuilding of the Temple (2Chron 36:22-23 and Ezra 1:1-3) but just as clearly did not proclaim or decree to rebuild Jerusalem, though Cyrus allowed Jews to go to Jerusalem to live while rebuilding the Temple, and God's unequivocal words in 2Chron 36 and Ezra 1 state that Cyrus fulfilled Jeremiah's prophecy, not Isaiah's or Daniel's. However, whatever rebuilding of Jerusalem was done by those exiles who returned under Cyrus was minimal as they hadn't even restored the city wall which was left for Nehemiah to direct some 90 years later in 445 B.C.

But the decree to rebuild Jerusalem came from Artaxerxes I to Ezra (Ezra 7:12-25) beginning fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy of 69 weeks to the Anointed Prince.

Lastly, let's insert J4J's interpretations that Daniel's 7-week period began with Cyrus' proclamation and that Cyrus is the anointed prince who comes into Dan 9:25 (and using the JPS version to give J4J the benefit of any doubts):

Dan 9:25 (JPS 1917) Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the word [Cyrus proclamation in 538 B.C.] to restore and to build Jerusalem [the Temple] unto one anointed, a prince (Cyrus himself), shall be seven weeks; and for threescore and two weeks, it [the Temple] shall be built again, with broad place and moat, but in troublous times.

So, the problems with that are threefold:

  1. The text clearly states a decree or proclamation to restore and build Jerusalem begins the 7-week period, but Cyrus issued no such decree or proclamation about Jerusalem in 538 BC.
  2. According to the Babylonian Chronicle, Cyrus was killed in battle on the northeastern frontier in 530 BC, and so Cyrus wasn't alive to "come" as the "anointed prince" 49 years after issuing the wrong decree in 538 BC.
  3. The rebuilding/restoration of the Temple did not take 62 weeks of years (434 years). The Zerubbabel Temple was completed and dedicated in 515 BC, 23 years after Cyrus' proclamation in 538 BC.

Jews for Judaism - Daniel - FAQ #120.html

The first seven weeks ends in 537 B.C.E. The second segment of the Seventy Weeks period, sixty-two weeks in length, covered by verse 26, culminates in 103 B.C.E. (586-49-434=103 B.C.E.). Verse 26 indicates that "after sixty-two weeks an anointed one shall be cut off." This "anointed one" is the High Priest Alexander Yannai (103-76 B.C.E.) who came to power just at the end of the sixty-two week period in 103 B.C.E. and was the last of the important Hasmonean leaders. The phrase "after sixty-two weeks" indicates the time frame during which the "anointed one shall be cut off," that is, suffer karet, "excision." The penalty accompanying karet is here aptly described as "to have nothing," or "be no more." This punishment is given to Alexander Yannai infamous for his unjust, tyrannical, and bloody rule.

J4J's arguments are inconsistent. In Jews for Judaism - Daniel - FAQ #119.htm they argued that Daniel's initial 7-week (49 year) period began with Cyrus' proclamation in 538 BC to rebuild the Temple:

Indeed, it was Cyrus who issued a proclamation (ca. 537 B.C.E.) for the return, and for the rebuilding to start. This occurred forty-nine years after the destruction of Jerusalem.

But now in FAQ #120 they argue that Daniel's 7-week period ended (not began) in 537 BC:

The first seven weeks ends in 537 B.C.E

Let's again plug J4J's interpretations that Daniel's 62 week period ended with Yannai as the "anointed one" who is "cut off" into Dan 9:26 (and again using the JPS version to give J4J the benefit of any doubts):

Dan 9:26 (JPS 1917) And after the threescore and two weeks shall an anointed one (the High Priest Alexander Yannai) be cut off, and be no more; and the people of a prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; but his end shall be with a flood; and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

So, the additional problems are:

  1. Inconsistent interpretation of Cyrus' proclamation in 537 BC (actually 538 BC) - did it begin Daniel's:
    • 7-week period during which Cyrus "comes" as the "anointed prince"?
    • 62-week period after which Yannai is "cut off" "anointed prince"?
  2. Assuming the 69 week period began with Cyrus' wrong proclamation in 538 BC then adding 69 weeks of years (483 years) yields -538 + 483 => 55BC, but Yannai was already dead in 76 BC.
  3. Note however that J4J changed the 69-week prophecy beginning date for their Yannai argument to 586 BC "(586-49-434=103 B.C.E.)". So to again give J4J the benefit of the doubt, -586 BC + 483 years yields 103 BC. But:
    • Cyrus issued no proclamations of any sort in 586 BC to begin Daniel's 7-week period.
    • Yannai wasn't "cut off" in 103 BC, no, Yannai had just begun his unjust, tyrannical, and bloody rule.

Summing together then the problems with Jews for Judaism's arguments that Daniel's prophecy of 9:25, 26 were fulfilled by Cryus and Alexander Yannai:

  1. The text of Dan 9:25, 26 clearly and unambiguously refers in the singular to only one anointed prince and not two, regardless of how many time periods exist.
  2. Inconsistent arguments as to when Daniel's 7-week period began and with what event.
  3. Cyrus was neither prophesied to issue decrees nor did Cyrus issue any decree or proclamation in 538 BC to restore and build Jerusalem to begin Daniel's 7-week prophetic period.
  4. Cyrus' proclamation to rebuild the Temple was fulfilled in 23 years, not 434 years based on "threescore and two weeks, it [Jerusalem the Temple] shall be built again".
  5. Cyrus' anointing means "set apart" by God to shepherd people, whereas the Messiah is The "Anointed Prince" who will save people, not merely take care of them.
  6. God's unequivocal words in 2Chron 36 and Ezra 1 state that Cyrus fulfilled Jeremiah's prophecy, not Isaiah's or Daniel's.
  7. Cyrus wasn't alive to "come" as the anointed prince 49 years after issuing the wrong decree in 538 BC.
  8. Assuming the 69 week period began in 538 BC then Yannai was prematurely dead in 76 BC before being "cut off" at the end of the prophecy.
  9. Even granting a different 69-week prophecy beginning date of 586 BC, neither Cyrus nor anyone else issued any decrees to rebuild Jerusalem (Nebuchadnezzar having just sacked it), nor was Yannai "cut off" at the resulting end-date of 103 BC but rather he had just begun.
  10. God did not see fit to even mention Alexander Yannai (ostensibly one of two 'anointed princes') anywhere in scripture.

But Jews for Judaism's interpretation is further puzzling in that Daniel, heeding Jeremiah's prophecy of Jews in servitude for 70 years would ardently pray and intercede on behalf of his people, and God who esteemed Daniel highly, sent Gabriel (God's No 2 Angel) to answer Daniel's prayer for deliverance of the chosen people and give him God's vision that the Jews would be delivered. But instead of an Anointed Prince, a Jewish Deliverer, rather Jews for Judaism's theological argument is that God's vision was for a pagan Persian King plus an apostate "unjust, tyrannical, and bloody" High Priest who didn't even make it into scripture, and that only through tortured reasoning and inconsistent math.

This 'answer' just doesn't seem to reconcile with what Daniel was praying for and what Gabriel delivered from God. No, God is very much bigger than what Jews for Judaism imagine. But this is not the first. Others have struggled to find an interpretation that points anywhere but at Jesus Christ:

Other scholars see two "messiahs" in the prophecy and make Cyrus the Great the first "anointed one." They point out that at the time of Jerusalem's complete desolation (587 BC), God assured Jeremiah that the city would be rebuilt (Jer. 29:10). From this authoritative word until Cyrus in 538 BC was indeed 49 years or 7 "weeks." But to make this interpretation work, they must rearrange the Hebrew word order and translate Daniel 9:25-26 as follows:

Know therefore and understand: From the time that the word went out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem [God's word expressed in Jeremiah 29:10 in 587 BC] until the time of an anointed prince, there shall be 7 weeks; and for 62 weeks it shall be built with streets and moat, but in troubled times. And after the 62 weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off, and shall have nothing.

But as with J4J's arguments, no decree to restore Jerusalem was issued in 587 BC to begin Daniel's prophecy, and Daniel doesn't even give his 70-week prophecy until 538 BC (Dan 9:1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans). Also, most of these 'scholars' view the second "anointed one" as Onias, the legitimate high priest who was murdered in 171 BC without a successor. But the second cluster of 62 weeks from 538 BC to 171 BC is only 367 years, not the 434 years Daniel predicted. Moreover, as noted earlier, the translation given by these scholars is possible only if one alters the word order of the Hebrew text and makes a few changes dictated by opinion, not by the rules of grammar. One should explore all the possibilities of coming up with a workable interpretation of a text as it stands before altering or modifying it.

Regardless, Daniel 9 is Messianic Prophecy and the ancient Jewish sages agree:

Maimonides (Rambam) writing in the 12th century says of Daniel 9:

"As for what Daniel says: Even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, approached close to me about the time of the evening offering - all this happened in a vision of prophecy. It should by no means occur to your thought that an angel can be seen or that the speech of an angel can be heard except in a vision of prophecy or in a dream of prophecy, according to what is stated as a principle: I do make Myself known unto him in a vision, I do speak with him in a dream. [Num 2:6]" (italics his). [p. 390]

Moses Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed Vol 2, trans. Schlomo Pines, Univ. of Chicago (1963)

Nachmanides (Ramban) in his "Commentary on the Torah" (translated by Rabbi Dr. Chavel) writing after Maimonides later in the 12th century also says of Daniel 9:

"His [Daniel's] book likewise, was not grouped together with the books of the prophets since his affair was with the angel Gabriel, even though he appeared to him and spoke with him when he was awake, as it is said in the vision concerning the second temple: Yea, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, etc. 24. The vision concerning the ultimate redemption also occurred when Daniel was awake as he walked with his friends beside the Tigris River" 26 [italics his]. [pp. 228-229]

24 Daniel 9:21. 26 Daniel 10:4

Nachmanides, Commentary on the Torah, Genesis, trans. Rabbi Dr. Chavel, Shilo Publishing House (1971)

In the footnotes, Rabbi Chavel reconciles the views of Nachmanides (Ramban) and Maimonides (Rambam) as while angels may deliver prophetic information in a waking vision, it doesn't make the receiver a prophet. (Genesis, pp. 228, 229):

Ramban thus differs with Rambam, who had said that all prophets received the prophecy through the medium of an angel. Rambam's position is defended as follows: Rambam's intent was not that whenever an angel is seen it is an instance of prophecy. Rather his intent was that whenever prophecy comes to any of the prophets it comes though an angel. However it is possible that an angel may appear for the purpose of conveying information to one who is not a prophet. This was the case with Daniel and Hagar. [n. 27, p. 229]

Nachmanides, Commentary on the Torah, Genesis, trans. Rabbi Dr. Chavel, Shilo Publishing House (1971)

Both sages clearly accepted the portrayal of future events regarding a Jewish Deliverer discussed in Dan 9. That they draw a distinction between a 'prophet of God' and a 'writer with a angelic vision from God' doesn't diminish the messianic foretelling of Daniel 9 whatsoever.

Further, Dr. Mark Eastman, writing for the Messianic Times made the following additional points about Jewish sages:

One of the most ancient rabbinical commentaries is the Talmudim. In the Babylonian Talmud, compiled between 200-500 CE, ancient rabbis wrote extensively on the time of Messiah's coming, as well as Daniel's 70-weeks' prophecy.

Rabbi Judah, the main compiler of the Talmud said regarding the times referred to in Daniel's prophecy,

"These times were over long ago." (Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin.)

In the 12th Century AD, Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon (Maimonides), one of the most respected rabbis in history, and a man who rejected the messianic claim of Yeshua, made a remarkable statement that many scholars believe is a reference to Daniel's 70-weeks' prophecy.

"Daniel has elucidated to us the knowledge of the end times. However, since they are secret, the wise [rabbis] have barred the calculation of the days of Messiah's coming so that the untutored populace will not be led astray when they see that the End Times have already come but there is no sign of the Messiah." (Igeret Teiman, Chapter 3 p 24.)

Rabbi Moses Abraham Levi said,

"I have examined and searched all the Holy Scriptures and have not found the time for the coming of Messiah clearly fixed, except in the words of Gabriel to the prophet Daniel, which are written in the 9th chapter of the prophecy of Daniel."

Dr. Mark Eastman, "Daniel’s Prophecy Came True When Yeshua Entered Jerusalem", Messianic Times (April 1998)

Various attempts have been made to invalidate the authenticity of the Book of Daniel itself, essentially arguing (incorrectly) that Daniel was written after the fulfillment of the prophecy, and possibly not even written by "Daniel" but someone else. Following then are a summary of the most irrefutable evidences of Daniel's authenticity and links for the more serious reader to pursue the full range of allegations and refutations.

Beyond Jewish sectarian criticism of Daniel chapter 9 being fulfilled messianic prophecy, additional historical criticism of the Book of Daniel largely derives from the prophecy in Chapter 11 which bears a remarkably and accurate and detailed resemblance to the battles of Antiochus Epiphanes. Critics who are predisposed against authentic God-inspired prophecy (e.g. Porphyry in 3rd century A.D. and S.R. Driver in 1900 A.D.) argue Daniel was written in the 2nd century B.C. during the time of the Maccabeans by someone writing under the pseudonym "Daniel" but describing the battles of Antiochus Epiphanes vaticinium ex eventu (i.e. historical events as if they were prophesied in advance). This is a narrative style observed in some of the Qumran documents and it has been assumed by critics as the likely logical and naturalistic explanation for Daniel's otherwise supernatural prophecy.

There are, however, two irrefutable problems with the "Maccabean theory" of Daniel:

  1. Even if Daniel was written in the 2nd century B.C., that does not explain the supernatural accuracy of Daniel 9's prophecy of the Messiah and it's fulfilment 200 years later by Jesus of Nazareth. If Daniel foretold (in 2nd c. B.C.) that 483 years from a (earlier) decree by Artaxerxes I that the Messiah would appear and be cutoff, and since in A.D. 26 the Messiah in fact appeared 483 years from Artaxerxes I decree in 458 B.C., then, what exactly was "false"? Even if Daniel was written 2nd c. B.C., the appearance of Jesus the Messiah was still accurately foretold 150-200 years in advance, and no amount of dismissive 'vaticinium ex eventu' hand waving can change the irrefutability that Daniel 9 remains authentic prophecy, exactly as written.
  2. The historical and literary evidence all point to Daniel's authentic authorship by someone living in the Babylonian courts in 6th century B.C.

Jeramy Townsley gives a very good, very brief overview of the essential arguments that Daniel was written in the 6th century B.C. in Babylonia. Here are a few excerpts on arguments not covered in greater detail further down:

...if the author of Daniel lived in the second century during the persecution, therefore in Palestine, one would naturally assume that he would use his native system of dating, and not the ancient, relatively unknown system of Babylonian dating. ... It is very likely that he himself would be referring to historical sources, such as Jeremiah, which uses the Palestinian dating system. Why would he have strayed from such an important and well-known prophet to use another, obscure dating system, which would appear to contradict Jeremiah, to his readers who read from, and knew the prophets work well (Waltke, pg. 326)?

As for the recent [Qumran] findings, many manuscripts of Daniel were found, in three different caves at [Qumran] (Baldwin, pg. 73-74). To determine an "earliest date" for those manuscripts, we need to compare them with manuscripts with dates that are known. Takamitsu Muraoka did a study on the Aramaic of 11QtJob mss, and of 1QapGen, and found that the 11QtJob mss is closer to the Aramaic of the Old Testament than the 1QapGen. His conclusion is that the 11QtJob should be dated between 250-150 BC (Muraoka, pg. 425-443). Next, Robert Vasholz determined that the mss of Daniel are older than the 11QtJob. How much older he can't be certain, but older none-the-less (Vasholz, pg. 320), which probably pushes the date of writing before the date deemed necessary by most Maccabean Theorists (167-165 BC; Baldwin, pg. 35) .

RK Harrison, of the Maccabean dating theory: "Such a period of composition is in any event absolutely precluded by the evidence from Qumran partly because there are no indications whatever that the sectaries compiled any of the Biblical manuscripts recovered..., and partly because there would, in the latter event, have been insufficient time for Maccabean composition to be circulated, venerated, and accepted as canonical Scripture by a Maccabean sect" (Harrison, pg. 1126-1127)

As a final note on the literary style, AK Grayson's Babylonian historical-Literary Texts, demonstrated, according to Baldwin, that in style, form, and rationale there is a striking resemblance [between parts of Daniel and tablets of ancient Babylonian prophecy] which it is by no means easy to account for knowledge of this [Babylonian] cuneiform literature in the second century Palestine. [But] Israel would have had Babylonian influence on all sides during the exile" (Baldwin, "Some Literary Affinities of Daniel," pg. 99).

Jeramy Townsley, Historical Dating of the Book of Daniel, 1990

Daniel uses words and grammar known in Babylonian courts under Babylonian and Persian rulers:

Copies of Daniel are found in the scrolls at Qumran, but the Aramaic of Daniel is several centuries older than the Aramaic of the Qumran community. For example the spelling of "Darius" in Daniel's Aramaic is "Dryw" which agrees with the Meissner contract from 515 B.C. and the earliest Aramaic papyri from 494 B.C.; whereas in later times Darius was spelled "Dryhw" (note the inserted 'h').

  1. Vasholz, R. I. "Qumran and the Dating of Daniel," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 21:4 (Dec 1978): 315-321.

In the Akkadian found on the Grotefend Cylinder [Montgomery 243] "the verb normally falls at or near the end of the sentence" whereas in the normal later Aramaic of Palestine it would not. This point "proves that the Aramaic of Daniel (and Ezra) belongs to the early tradition of Imperial Aramaic (seventh-sixth to fourth centuries BC) as opposed to later and local Palestinian derivatives of Imperial Aramaic ..." [Kitchen 76; Soggin, 409]

  1. Kitchen, K. A. "The Aramaic of Daniel," Notes on Some Problems in the Book of Daniel. Edited by D. J. Wiseman, et al (Tyndale, 1965): 31-79.
  2. Montgomery, James A. "The Book of Daniel". International Critical Commentary (T. & T. Clark, 1927)
  3. Soggin, J. Alberto Introduction to the Old Testament. Translated from the Italian by John Bowden (Westminster, 1976)

"Shea reports that a clay prism was found in Babylon with 5 columns of text listing various officials of the government. This prism is a record of a loyalty oath taken by these officials about 593 B.C. shortly after Nebuchadnezzar had put down a revolt. What is interesting for us is the fact that it explicitly names the 3 Hebrew worthies who were thrown into the fire. What I found interesting is that Hananiah's name is given in the Babylonian equivalent (Hanunu) and not the recorded change of name in Dan 1:7 (to Shadrach) whereas the other two are. The question for those who propose a 2nd century date for Daniel is how did a 2nd century Jew know of these names in the first place?"

  1. Shea, William H. "Nabonidus, Belshazzar, and the Book of Daniel: An Update," Andrews University Seminary Studies 20:2 (Summer 1982): 133-149.

David Conklin, "Evidences Relating to the Date of the Book of Daniel", www.tektonics.org (2004)

Daniel is referenced by his contemporary, Ezekiel:

Who is Ezekiel's Daniel?

The traditional date of Ezekiel (592-570 BC) is not disputed. Nebuchadnezzar took Daniel captive to Babylon in 605 BC, and from 605 BC to Ezekiel is 13 to 35 years, adequate time for Daniel's exploits to become known to Ezekiel and then for Ezekiel to write about Daniel.

Ezekiel 14:14, 20 & 28:3 refers to Daniel as 'righteous and wise and no secret can be kept from him'. This is consistent with the person Daniel of the Book of Daniel, who would not defile himself with the king's food (Dan 1:8); to whom God gave knowledge, intelligence, wisdom, and understanding of visions and dreams (Dan 1:17); and who first reveals the content of Nebuchadnezzar's secret dream (Dan 2:27-35) and then interprets the meaning of the dream (Dan 2:36-45); and the angel Gabriel tells Daniel he is highly esteemed (Dan 9:23).

But in the early 1930s the Ras Shamra (Ugaritic) texts were published and referenced someone named "Dnil" described as a Baal-worshipper given to incantations, and some scholars have attempted to equate this Ugaritic Dnil with Ezekiel's Daniel. However, neither Ezekiel nor Daniel (being true prophets of the LORD) would have anything to do with incantations or Baal worship and neither would declare such a person as "righteous" or "wise", nor is there any evidence that the Ugaritic Dnil revealed secrets. Ezekiel refers to the same Daniel of the Book of Daniel, a contemporary of Ezekiel who lived and prophesied during the 6th century BC.

Daniel and Jeremiah date Nebuchadnezzar's siege of Jerusalem in Jehoiakim's 3rd and 4th years:

End of Judah Timeline

Daniel 1:1 records Nebuchadnezzar's siege of Jerusalem in Jehoiakim's third year while Jeremiah 25:1 and 46:2 records Nebuchadnezzar's siege of Jerusalem in Jehoiakim's fourth year.

Both Daniel and Jeremiah reckoned the dates of reigning kings by the accession-year system. But Daniel followed the Jewish civil calendar which reckoned years from Tishri 1 to Elul 29 while Jeremiah followed the Jewish sacred calendar which reckoned years from Nisan 1 to Adar 29. When taking accession-year reckoning and these different calendars into consideration, the accounts of both Daniel and Jeremiah reconcile exactly to available historical records such as the Babylonian Chronicle cuneiform.

Daniel and Nabonidus relationship to Belshazzar:

Daniel's account in chapter 5 describes Belshazzar as "King" and offering Daniel "authority as the third ruler in the kingdom" (Dan 5:16) but since Cyrus' capture of Babylon (539 B.C.) until around A.D. 1854 (well over two thousand years) secular historians regarded Daniel's account as fabricated because it was supposedly "known" throughout history that not only was Nabonidus the last king of Babylon but the name "Belshazzar" was never even mentioned anywhere.

However, in 1854 Sir Henry Rawlinson discovered the Nabonidus Chronicle (cuneiform tablet) and also Nabonidus Stela, and Nabonidus Cylinder (at the British Museum) in which Nabonidus prayed for his son "Belshazzar" and essentially made Belshazzar co-regent of Babylon in Nabonidus' absence (hence Belshazzar's offer to Daniel of 3rd ruler after #1 Nabonidus and #2 Belshazzar). So Daniel's account was validated as accurate almost 2400 years after the fact.

But if Daniel had been written between 200 B.C. to A.D. 200 as alleged, how would the writer have known Belshazzar's name and role as King when the historical record could not have informed the writer of this fact? The only way Daniel could know such details otherwise missing from the historical and archeological record for over two millennia is if Daniel lived it.

The Book of Daniel is authentic, accurate biblical prophecy.

Without ignoring passages, altering punctuation, rearranging scripture, relying on obscure extra-biblical apostates, or imaginary calendar keeping, a plain reading of Dan 9:25, 26 shows that from Artaxerxes I decree to Ezra to take all the volunteers he wanted and return with them to Judah and Jerusalem, and further giving Ezra authority over the region and substantial funds, wasn't just a fact finding trip - it was to restore Jerusalem. From which event, simple addition of 69 weeks of years yields the baptism ("anointing") of Jesus Christ in A.D. 26, all consistent with history and His age, length of ministry and crucifixion ("cutting off") in A.D. 30, the only year in which the gospel accounts of Passion Week can be harmonized and reconciled with calendars. Daniel 9:25, 26 is in fact fulfilled Messianic prophecy.



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(last updated January 24, 2015)