Chapter 26, Part 2 Preview: Among the most important prophecies in the Scriptures, the one usually referred to as the “Seventy Weeks Prophecy” stands out. It is the “chief cornerstone”, so to speak, of Messianic prophecies because it establishes the time line of both the (so called) First and Second Comings of the Messiah. In fact, it is the only pre “Messianic” Scripture that calls the Messiah the “Messiah”; so technically, it is the only “Messianic” prophecy of old. The Daniel 9 prophecy is very specific. It pinpoints four exact “milestone” events, three of them were prophetic. For several centuries individuals have been able to approximate within a few years, the Messianic timetable. Some few have even been able to pinpoint the very years, but there is absolutely no consensus on how the details have been—and yes will be fulfilled.
The historical context is that the northern ten tribes of Israel had already been taken captive into the land of Assyria. Because of the southern tribes continuing apostasy, Jeremiah prophesied that they too would be taken into captivity. As promised, the tribes of Judah and Levi, along with a remnant of others from various tribes and were taken into Babylonian exile.
When Gabriel visited Daniel, his beloved city of Jerusalem was a pillaged shambles. The once bountiful fields of Israel rested for decades—catching up on missed sabbatical years. Daniel was just a boy when the Babylonians captured him, but was now an old man. Altho he was a privileged and honored captive; he was still enslaved. It was after almost 70 years of oppression in captivity that Daniel learned about the 70 years prophecy.
Daniel 9:1-2 It was the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who had been appointed king over the Chaldean empire. 2 In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, learned from the Scriptures (according to the Word of Yehovah given to the prophet Jeremiah) that Jerusalem was to lie in ruins for seventy years. —The Gabriel Bible
But why was the penalty to last for seventy years? Yehovah’s Torah required Israel to refrain from working the soil every seventh year—sort of a “land Sabbath”. (Leviticus 25). For 490 years Israel had ignored that law and failed to heed His prophets, so:
2 Chronicles 36:18-21 All the articles from Elohim’s house, large and small, the treasures from Yehovah’s Temple, and the treasures belonging to the king and his officials, were all brought to Babylon. 19 They burned Elohim’s Temple, and tore down the walls of Jerusalem, burned all its palaces and destroyed everything of value. 20 He deported those who survived the sword to Babylon, and they became servants to him and his sons until the rise of the Persian Empire. 21 This fulfilled Yehovah’s message spoken thru Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. During the time it was desolate it experienced seventy complete Sabbath years.
Each of the seventy years of captivity represented the violation of one Sabbatical year—one year in seven. Fortunately the southern kingdom didn’t have to make up for the entire 490 years! Because the Southern Kingdom didn’t learn anything from the misfortune of the Northern Kingdom, they too went into captivity. In Daniel’s rear view mirror he could see nearly five centuries of contemptible historic neglect, while at the same time he was privileged to see thru the windshield—490 years in the future—the time when the “Anointed One” would come and offer them redemption. In Daniel’s side view he saw hope for his peoples’ immediate future.
For more information on the Sabbatical years you could check out Why the Land Sabbath?
While the evidence is clear here that Yehovah cast Israel into captivity due to her violations of the Sabbatical years, it is even more certain that breaking of the weekly Sabbaths prominently figured into the condemnation and captivity. I have included most of Ezekiel 20 here, first, because it emphasizes that breaking the Sabbath figured prominently in the destruction of ancient Israel and secondly because, a careful reading shows that all twelve tribes of Israel—“ALL OF THEM” will serve Yehovah in the Kadosh (holy) Land in the future after yet another captivity—and for the same reasons! This will begin with the coming Third Temple when Yehovah will “require your offerings”. Can this bold concept be demonstrated Scripturally? Yes, beyond all doubt! See The Time After Jacob’s Trouble.
Ezekiel 20 On the tenth day of the fifth month in the seventh year, some of the elders of Israel came to consult Yehovah, and sat in front of me. 2 Then the Word of Yehovah came to me. He said, 3 “Human son, tell the elders of Israel, ‘The Sovereign Yehovah says: Have you come to consult Me? As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Yehovah, I won’t be consulted by you.’ 4 Will you pass judgment against them, human son, will you pass judgment? Explain to them the abominable practices passed down from their ancestors. 5 Tell them, “The Sovereign Yehovah says: The day I chose Israel, and swore to the ‘descendants’ of Jacob’s family—when I revealed Myself to them in the land of Egypt—I swore to them that I am Yehovah your Elohim.” 6 That day I swore to bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had chosen for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most beautiful of all lands. 7 I said, “You must all throw away the vile images you look to. Don’t defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt, I am Yehovah your Elohim.” 8 But they rebelled against Me, and refused to listen to Me. They didn’t throw away the vile images they looked to, or abandon their Egyptian idols. So I considered pouring out My fury on them, to satisfy My anger against them within the land of Egypt. 9 But I acted for the sake of My ‘reputation’, so that it wouldn’t be dishonored in the sight of the nations, where they were living, who saw me reveal Myself by bringing them out of the land of Egypt. 10 So I took them out of the land of Egypt and led them into the wilderness. 11 I gave them My statutes, and explained My ordinances to them so that if they do them, they’ll live. 12 I also gave them My Sabbaths, as a sign between Me and them, so that they would know that I am Yehovah who makes them kadosh. 13 But the ‘nation’ of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness, they didn’t ‘live’ by My statutes, and they rejected My ordinances, that if they obeyed, they would live. They violated My Sabbaths, so I resolved to pour out My wrath on them in the wilderness, to annihilate them. 14 But again I acted for the sake of My ‘reputation’, so that it wouldn’t be dishonored in the sight of the nations, who watched Me bring them out. 15 But I swore to them in the wilderness that I wouldn’t bring them into the land flowing with milk and honey that I had promised them—the most beautiful of all lands, flowing with milk and honey— 16 because they rejected My ordinances, and refused to ‘live’ by My statutes, and violated My Sabbaths, because they were determined to follow their idols. 17 But I saw fit to spare them, and I didn’t destroy them, and held back from destroying them in the wilderness.
18 Then in the wilderness I warned their children not to live by the statutes of their ancestors, or obey their ordinances, or defile themselves with their idols. 19 I am Yehovah your Elohim. Follow My statutes. Obey My ordinances, and practice them. 20 Keep My Sabbaths kadosh, and they’ll be a sign between Me and you, so that you’ll know for certain that I am Yehovah your Elohim.” 21 But the children rebelled against Me. They didn’t ‘live by’ My statutes, or obey My ordinances, tho a person who obeys them will live by them. They also violated My Sabbaths. So I said I would pour out My wrath on them, to end My anger against them in the wilderness. 22 But I withheld My hand, and acted for the sake of My ‘reputation’, so that it wouldn’t be dishonored in the sight of the nations, who had watched Me bring them out. 23 I ‘swore’ to them in the wilderness that I would scatter them among the nations, and disperse them into other countries, 24 because they hadn’t practiced My ordinances, they had rejected My statutes, and dishonored My Sabbaths, and their eyes were fixed on their fathers’ idols. 25 I also allowed them to follow statutes that were not good and ordinances that they couldn’t live by [verse 18]. 26 I pronounced them unclean because of their sacrifices—they caused all their first born to pass thru the fire—so that I would devastate them and remind them that I am Yehovah.
27 So, human son, speak to the ‘nation’ of Israel, and tell them, “The Sovereign Yehovah says: This is the way your ancestors blasphemed Me when they were unfaithful to Me. 28 When I had brought them into the land that I swore to give to them, they offered sacrifices on every high hill and under every leafy tree they saw and presented their offensive offerings there! They also sent up their pleasing aromas and poured out their wine offerings there.” 29 Then I asked them, “What is this high place you are going to called?” (It’s been called Bamah [high place] ever since.) 30 So tell the ‘nation’ of Israel, “The Sovereign Yehovah asks, ‘Will you dishonor yourselves the way your ancestors did, and keep prostituting yourselves with detestable idols? 31 When you offer your sacrifices, making your sons pass thru the fire, you’re continuing to defile yourselves with all your idols. And you want to consult Me, ‘nation’ of Israel? As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Yehovah,, I won’t be consulted by you! 32 What you have in mind will never happen. You think you want to be like heathens, like the tribes of other countries, serving gods of wood and stone.
33 As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Yehovah, I will rule you with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out, I’ll be your King. 34 I’ll bring you out of the nations and gather you out of the countries where you were scattered, with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out. 35 I’ll bring you into the wilderness of the people [Isaiah 1, Hosea 2:14], and I’ll judge you there face to face, 36 just like when I judged your ancestors in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, that’s how I’ll judge you, says the Sovereign Yehovah. 37 I’ll make you pass under the shepherd’s rod, and I’ll bind you in a [Kimchi] [New] Covenant, 38 and I’ll purge out the rebels from among you, and those who disobey Me. I’ll bring them out of the land where they were living, but they won’t enter the land of Israel. Then you’ll know that I am Yehovah.
39 As for you, ‘nation’ of Israel, the Sovereign Yehovah says: Go, serve your idols, but later you’ll surely listen to Me, and you’ll no longer profane My name with your gifts and your idols. 40 On My kadosh mountain, on the high mountain of Israel, says the Sovereign Yehovah, there the entire ‘nation’ of Israel, all of them, will serve Me in the land. I will accept them there, and there I will require your contributions, and choice gifts, with all your kadosh things. 41 I’ll accept you there like a fragrant aroma when I gather you out of the nations, and bring you out of the countries where you’ve been scattered, and I’ll prove Myself kadosh thru you as the nations watch. 42 You’ll know that I am Yehovah when I bring you into the land of Israel, into the country that I swore to give to your ancestors. 43 There you’ll remember your conduct, and everything you did, and how you defiled yourselves, and you’ll despise yourselves when you face all the evil you’ve done. 44 You’ll know that I am Yehovah, when I’ve dealt with you for the sake of My name, rather than with regard to your evil and corrupt behavior, ‘nation’ of Israel, says the Sovereign Yehovah.”
45 The Word of Yehovah came to me. He said, 46 “Human son, face the south and speak out against it. Prophesy against the forest lands of the Negev, 47 and tell the forest of the Negev to listen to the Word of Yehovah. The Sovereign Yehovah says: I’m about to set you on fire, and destroy every green tree and every dry tree in you. The blazing flame won’t be extinguished, and the entire surface from south to north will be scorched by it. 48 And everyone will see that I, Yehovah, set this fire. It won’t be extinguished.” 49 Then I said, “Oye Sovereign Yehovah! They are saying that I’m just telling stories?”
After the exile. Jerusalem was in ruins. Here is the prophecy that Daniel noticed in the book of Jeremiah:
Jeremiah 25:4-12 Yehovah has sent all His servants the prophets to you, sending them from early on, but you haven’t listened or even ‘paid attention’. 5 They said, ‘Everyone turn from your evil ways and deeds, and live in the land that Yehovah permanently allotted to you and your ancestors. 6 Don’t follow other gods serve and worship them, and don’t provoke Me to anger with your hand made workmanship, and I won’t cause you any harm.’ 7 “Yet you haven’t listened to Me”, says Yehovah, “You continued to provoke Me to anger with your hand made workmanship, bringing harm on yourselves.” 8 So this is what Yehovah, the ‘Warrior’ King says: Because you didn’t listen to My words, 9 I’m going to send for all the families of the north,’ says Yehovah, ‘and I’ll send for My servant King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, and bring them against this land, and its people, and all the surrounding nations, and I’ll completely destroy them, and make make them objects of horror, a hissing scorn and a perpetual ruin. 10 I’ll take away the sounds of joy and happiness, the sounds bridegrooms and brides, the sound of millstones, and the light of lamps. 11 This entire land will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon for seventy years. 12 Then when the seventy years are over, I’ll punish the king of Babylon and that nation,’ says Yehovah, ‘for their wickedness, and I’ll make the land of the Chaldeans a wasteland forever.
Jeremiah had twice explicitly foretold of Israel’s captivity by the Babylonians, because they refused to follow Yehovah, and had specified that the captivity would have an exact duration of 70 years. Daniel personally applied the statements “You will call on Me, and you will go and pray to Me” and “You will seek Me, and find Me” to his own life. Gabriel came in answer to Daniel’s specific and continuing prayers about the “seventy years”.
Jeremiah 29:10-14 This is what Yehovah says: After the seventy years have passed in Babylon, I’ll come to you and fulfill the promise toward you of bringing you back to this place. 11 I know the plans that I have for you,’ says Yehovah, ‘ plans of peace—not harm, to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you’ll call on Me, and you’ll come and pray to Me, and I’ll listen to you. 13 You’ll search for Me, and find Me, when you search for Me with all your being. 14 I’ll allow you to find Me,’ says Yehovah, ‘ and I’ll bring you back from captivity, and I’ll regather you from every nation, and from every locality where I’ve banished you,’ says Yehovah, ‘and I’ll bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.
Had someone else read the book before Daniel did, and applied the words to themselves, a book might have been written bearing another name.
However, it was Daniel who appears to be the first person to realize that a remnant of Israel was soon to be freed from captivity! This amazing discovery caused him to pray the prayer quoted in part below:
Daniel 9:2-6, 20-23 In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, learned from the Scriptures (according to the Word of Yehovah given to the prophet Jeremiah) that Jerusalem was to lie in ruins for seventy years. 3 So I turned my attention to Yehovah Elohim in prayer and petitions, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to Yehovah my Elohim, and confessed: “O Yehovah, the great and awesome Elohim, who honors His covenant and loving kindness with those who love Him and preserve His Commandments. 5 But we have sinned, done wrong, acted wickedly, and rebelled by turning away from your commandments and ordinances. 6 We haven’t listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, leaders, ancestors, and all the people of the land. ... 20 While I continued to pray, confessing my sins and the sins of my people Israel, and presenting my request before Yehovah my Elohim in behalf of the kadosh mountain of my Elohim, 21 yes, while I was still praying, the man Gabriel, who I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me breathless from swift flight, touched me about the time of the evening ze’bak [sacrifice]. 22 He gave me this explanation: “Daniel, I’ve come here to give you insight and understanding. 23 As soon as you began praying a message was given. I’ve come to convey it to you, because you are so precious. So consider the message, and understand the vision. 22 He gave me this explanation: “Daniel, I’ve come here to give you insight and understanding. 23 As soon as you began praying a message was given. I’ve come to convey it to you, because you are so precious. So consider the message, and understand the vision.
The Seventy “Weeks” Prophesy is only four very detailed verses in length. Including Thomas Ice’s articles we have covered the six future aspects of the ultimate prophecy.
When Daniel was given his prophecy, the following prophecy by Jeremiah had already taken place:
The above prophecy occurred when King Nebuchadnezzar attacked the city in 586 BC. Gabriel told Daniel that a decree to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem would be made. But this was only the first of a series of prophesied events. Gabriel further said that from the day when this decree would be made, that a total of 69 weeks of years would go by before Messiah the king would arrive, after which He was to be “cut off” (killed) “and will have nothing”.
Nebuchadnezzar began taking young men from what they called “Hatti land” (Palestine/Syria) as hostages to Babylon at his first opportunity. The captivity had actually begun in the year 605/04 BC (Babylonian spring to spring calendar); this was even before the destruction of Jerusalem.
Daniel’s prophecy states that the 70 sevens of years countdown was to begin as follows:
Daniel 9:25 So know and understand that from the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One [Messiah], the Prince arrives, there will be seven sets of seven time periods, and sixty-two sets of seven time periods. It will be rebuilt with a plaza and a moat, but in distressful times.
The first critical factor in understanding the countdown to the 69th “week”, the “First Coming” prophecy, is to determine in which year the decree was issued “to restore and [rebuild] Jerusalem.” The “Second Coming” will occur during the 70th “week”. The anciently acknowledged 7000 Year millennial Plan is divisible by Jubilees (50 year periods). So every Biblically correct millennium ends with a Jubilee year. As I understand it, judging from Luke 4, this evil age will end on Jubilee 2028 AD!
There were considerable obstacles and some thwarted efforts to rebuild. That accounts for the four separate decrees being made. Daniel’s prophecy “anticipated” that the project would be accomplished in “troubled times”. So we must determine which decree Daniel was referring to.
The four decrees pertaining to restorations in Jerusalem to consider are all found in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, which cover this era. Cyrus 2 made a decree as did Darius 1. Artaxerxes 1 made two decrees. To paraphrase the old TV show called To Tell The Truth: Will the real Decree please stand up!
Here are the four decrees:
Decree to Rebuild the Temple
Cyrus, King of Persia, issued a decree to Zerubbabel telling him that Yehovah had instructed him to delegate him (Zerubbabel) “to build Him [Yehovah] “a house” [Temple] “in Jerusalem”. While this was a great historic event, it was not the rebuilding of the entire city:
Ezra 1:1-4 In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, in order to fulfill the Word of Yehovah as spoken by Jeremiah, Yehovah stirred up the spirit of King Cyrus of Persia, so that he made a proclamation thruout his kingdom, and put it in writing: 2 “This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: “Yehovah, the Elohim of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and has appointed me to build Him a Temple in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Any of you who are His people may go to Jerusalem (in Judah) and rebuild Yehovah’s Temple, the Elohim of Israel who lives in Jerusalem. And may your Elohim be with you. 4 The men of the region, wherever survivors happen to live, should support them with silver, gold, goods, and with animals, besides a freewill offering for the Temple of Elohim that is in Jerusalem.
This exact announcement is also found in 2 Chronicles 36:22-23. Whenever there is repetition in the Scriptures, it is for emphasis.
DECREE #2, 520 BC: Darius’ decree confirmed the decree of Cyrus, Temple Building to Continue.
Ezra 5:8 thru 6:5 The king should know that we went to the province of Judah, to the Temple of the great Elohim. It is being rebuilt with huge stones, with timbers set in the walls. This work is being handled diligently and succeeding. 9 We asked the elders, “Who gave you permission to rebuild this Temple, and to finish this walls?” 10 We also asked them for their names so that we could tell you who the leaders were. 11 This was their answer: “We are the servants of the Elohim of Heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the Temple that was built many years ago. A great king of Israel built it and finished it. 12 But after our ancestors made the Elohim of Heaven angry, He handed them over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this Temple, and deported the people to Babylon. 13 However, in the first year of the reign of King Cyrus of Babylon, King Cyrus issued a decree to rebuild Elohim’s Temple. 14 He also removed from the temple in Babylon the gold and silver utensils ‘stolen’ from the Temple of Elohim in Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. King Cyrus took them from the temple of Babylon and entrusted them to a man named Sheshbazzar, the governor King Cyrus had appointed. 15 He told him, “Take these utensils, and go and place them in the Temple in Jerusalem, and allow the Temple of Elohim be rebuilt on its original site.” 16 So this same Sheshbazzar came, and laid the foundations of the Temple of Elohim in Jerusalem. It has been under construction from that time until now, and it still isn’t finished.” 17 So if King Darius pleases, have a search made in the royal treasure house of Babylon to see whether King Cyrus ever issued a decree to rebuild this Temple of Elohim in Jerusalem, and have the king send us his decision in this matter.”
6:1 Then King Darius issued a decree, and they searched the archives where the treasures were stored in Babylon. 2 But a scroll was found at the fortress of Ecbatana in the province of Media that said: “Memorandum: 3 “In the first year of King Cyrus’s reign, King Cyrus issued a decree: “Concerning the Temple of Elohim in Jerusalem. The temple should be rebuilt as a place to offer ze’bakim [sacrifices], utilizing its original foundations. Its height is to be 60 cubits and its width 60 cubits, 4 with three courses of large stones, and one course of timber. The cost is to be subsidized from the royal treasury. 5 Also the gold and silver utensils from the Temple of Elohim, that Nebuchadnezzar took from the Temple in Jerusalem, and brought to Babylon, are to be returned to the Temple in Jerusalem, and put back in place. You must return them to Elohim’s Temple!
During the reign of Darius I, some politicians complained to the king that the Jews were rebuilding the Temple. The city and the walls were not an issue. They said that the Jews claimed to have permission, as per the decree of Cyrus 2 (Ezra 5:8, 14-17). Darius checked the records and told those in opposition to “back off” and stay away. Furthermore, the meddlers were forced to provide money for the project from their tax revenues! While construction of the Temple began during the reign of Cyrus 2, little was done until the beginning of the second year of Darius 1. Four years later, in 516 BC, the construction of the Temple was finished. Ezra records:
Ezra 4:15-16 requesting that a search be made in the record books of his predecessors. You’ll discover in the records that this city is a rebellious city, a threat to kings and provinces, and that they’ve already incited sedition here in the past. That’s why this city was destroyed. 16 So we’re informing the king that if this city is rebuilt and the walls finished, the result will be that you’ll lose possession of the property beyond the Euphrates River.
Again, the city was not rebuilt beginning with this decree.
457 BC Artaxerxes, King of Persia, issued a detailed decree to Ezra giving him everything necessary “for the service of the house of your Elohim.”
Ezra 7:11-26 Now this is the copy of the letter that King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, a scribe with a thoro knowledge in matters of the Commandments of Yehovah, and His statutes for Israel, 12 “Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, the Torah teacher of the Elohim of heaven, perfect peace. Now 13 I have issued a decree that any of the Israelites in my kingdom and their priests and the Levites who want to go to Jerusalem can accompany you. 14 You are authorized by the king and his seven advisers to evaluate Judah and Jerusalem according to the Torah of your Elohim that is in your hands, 15 and to bring the silver and gold that the king and his advisers have willingly offered to the Elohim of Israel, who lives in Jerusalem, 16 along with all the silver and gold that you find thruout the province of Babylon, as well as the freewill contributions of the people and of the priests who willingly contributed for the Temple of their Elohim in Jerusalem. 17 You should use this money specifically to buy bulls, rams and lambs, along with their grain and wine offerings, and offer them on the altar of the Temple of your Elohim in Jerusalem. 18 Do whatever you and your colleagues deem appropriate to with the rest of the silver and gold, in accord with the will of your Elohim. 19 As for the utensils that are given to you for the service of the Temple of your Elohim, present them all to the Elohim of Jerusalem. 20 If you need anything else for your Elohim’s Temple, provide for it from the royal treasury. 21 I, King Artaxerxes, issue a decree to all the treasurers in the provinces ‘west of’ the Euphrates River, that whatever Ezra the priest, the Torah teacher of the Elohim of Heaven, asks of you must be provided promptly, 22 up to 100 talents of silver, 100 kors of wheat, 100 baths of wine, 100 baths of oil, and an unlimited supply of salt. 23 Whatever is commanded by the Elohim of heaven must be carried out in detail for the Temple of the Elohim of heaven, so that wrath will not fall on the realm of the king and his sons. 24 Furthermore, we are notifying you that you have no authority to impose taxes, tribute or tolls on any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinim, or servants of this Temple of Elohim. 25 You, Ezra, using the wisdom your Elohim has handed you, appoint magistrates and judges to judge all the people ‘west of’ the Euphrates River, everyone who knows the decrees of your Elohim, and teach them to anyone who does not know them. 26 Whoever won’t obey the decrees of your Elohim, and the decrees of the king, should be punished immediately, whether by death or banishment or confiscation of goods or imprisonment.”
This is easier determined after the fact. Historically, this is when the command for rebuilding took place. Many people correctly understand that in 458/457 BC, the 69 prophetic weeks (the 7+62) countdown began. This is determined by using the day for a year principle, where a prophetic day equals a year. 483 years of literal time must pass before the Messiah’s public appearance in the temple. However, more people believe that the countdown began in 445 BC due to the teaching popularized by Sir Robert Anderson in his book, The Coming Prince (1894).
In short, from 536 BC to 457 BC Israel was a beleaguered people without true government or even well defined borders. However these pioneers did manage to rebuild the temple. When Artaxerxes came to power in 464 BC, serious rebuilding of the city began.
This is the decree that precipitated the “troublesome times” because during Artaxerxes reign the adversaries tried to get legislation to stop Israel, from “building the rebellious and evil city”.
Artaxerxes decree in 457 BC not only facilitated establishing the temple, but it also gave Israel its own government. Prior to this decree the leaders in Judea occupied only the lowest tiers of government. Suddenly that all changed. Now they could pass and enforce their own laws. Now they were granted nationhood status. This decree reestablished Jerusalem!
I had spent many hours researching this topic when I encountered the article:
This very specific article in the offsite link above crossed all of the t’s and dotted all of the i’s in dating the countdown start at 457 BC. I highly recommend this article for the evidence to nail down the beginning of the count down. There is no reason for me to dwell on this very important aspect of the prophecy as long as this web article is available. However, before moving on I should mention Isaac Newton.
Sir Isaac Newton believed that the Seventy Weeks Prophecy had to do with the “Second Coming of Christ”. He hesitated to make any predictions fearing that that was the responsibility of prophets. However he felt that discerning the fulfillment of past prophecies was fair game and a way of praising Yehovah.
So Newton only focused only on the first sixty-nine weeks. He believed that the prophecy had to span from the edict of Artaxerxes I to the crucifixion of Yeshua (Jesus). I made the same mistake when I first wrote my Jubilee Chapter. It was titled Jubilee 2031 AD instead of Jubilee 2028 AD. The end point is His anointing and baptism.
Newton may have been the first person to identify Artaxerxes I (Artaxerxes Longimanus) as the king who issued the decree, and to place the decree in the year 457 BC. Newton then counted forward toward the Crucifixion year and selected a date when the preparation for Passover fell on a Friday, which he calculated to be AD 33 or 34. It’s a little known fact, but Isaac Newton’s incredible zeal for Biblical truth was the reason for his great scientific discoveries. He created the science of physics to calculate the phase of the moon in antiquity so that he could date Biblical events. It’s too bad that he had been hoodwinked about Good Friday, and I understand only too well the error concerning which event terminated the sixty-ninth week.
He kept the science of physics to himself for decades, knowing that others would not understand it. Much of what he had learned was not “discovered” by mainstream scientists for two centuries!
Newton did write that his countdown could be a year too early and he also thought that Yeshua’s ministry was 4.5 years long. An extra year was needed to get to the supposed Friday crucifixion he had in mind. He did not consider a delay in the 70th year, so he tried to add significance to 34 AD, a year that did mark a seventieth year—a time cycle that often did have special significance. Historians generally reject 34 AD as a possible crucifixion date, and rightly so. Nevertheless, Newton discovered a great foundation for others to build on. I truly anticipate meeting him!
Here is some of what Isaac Newton wrote as posted at the following link:
“I take it for granted that the passion was on Friday the 14th day of the month Nisan, the great feast of the Passover on Saturday the 15th day of Nisan, and the resurrection on the day following. Now the 14th day of Nisan always fell on the full moon next after the vernal Equinox; [more assumptions] and the month began at the new moon before, not at the true [astronomical] conjunction, but at the first appearance of the new moon; for the Jews referred all the time of the silent moon, as they phrased it, that is, of the moon’s disappearing, to the old moon; and because the first appearance might usually be about 18 h after the true conjunction, they therefore began their month from the sixth hour at evening, that is, at sun set, next after the eighteenth hour from the conjunction. And this rule they called Jah, designing by the letters and the number 18. [Bold added.]
“... And the Jews still keep a tradition in their books, that the Sanhedrin used diligently to define the new moons by sight: sending witnesses into mountainous places, and examining them about the moon’s appearing, and translating the new moon from the day they had agreed on to the day before, as often as witnesses came from distant regions, who had seen it a day sooner than it was seen at Jerusalem....
“Computing therefore the new moons of the first month according to the course of the moon and the rule Jah, and thence counting 14 days, I find that the 14th day of this month in the year of Christ 31, fell on tuesday March 27; in the year 32, on sunday Apr. 13; in the year 33, on friday Apr. 3; in the year 34, on wednesday March 24, or rather, for avoiding the Equinox which fell on the same day, and for having a fitter time for harvest, on thursday Apr. 22, also in the year 35, on tuesday Apr. 12, and in the year 36, on saturday March 31.
“But because the 15th and 21st days of Nisan, and a day or two of Pentecost, and the 10th, 15th, and 22nd of Tishri, were always sabbatical days or days of rest, and it was inconvenient on two sabbaths together to be prohibited burying their dead and making ready fresh meat, for in that hot region their meat would be apt in two days to corrupt: to avoid these and such like inconveniences, the Jews postponed their months a day, as often as the first day of the month Tishri, or which is all one, the third of the month Nisan was sunday, wednesday, or friday: and this rule they called Adu, by the letters aleph, daleth, waw, signifying the numbers 1, 4, 6, that is, the 1st, 4th, and 6th days of the week, which days we call sunday, wednesday, and friday. Postponing therefore by this rule the months found above; the 14th day of the month Nisan will fall in the year of Christ 31 on wednesday March 28; in the year 32 on monday Apr. 14; in the year 33 on friday Apr. 3; in the year 34, on friday Apr. 23; in the year 35, on wednesday Apr. 13; and in the year 36, on saturday March 31.
“By this computation therefore the year 32 is absolutely excluded, because the Passion cannot fall on friday without making it five days after the full moon, or two days before it; whereas it ought to be upon the day of the full moon, or the next day. For the same reasons the years 31 and 35 are excluded, because in them the Passion cannot fall on friday, without making it three days after the full moon or four days before it: errors so enormous, that they would be very conspicuous in the heavens even to the vulgar eye. The year 36 is contended for by few or none, and both this and the year 35 may be thus excluded....
This web site notes some of Newton’s errors, but I find that their fixes fall a bit short:
“Moreover, Newton’s choice of friday, AD 34 April 23, rather than thursday, AD 34 April 22, depended on invoking a postponement rule from the modern [4th century] Hebrew calendar which Zeitlin (1966) has effectively argued was not used at that time.”
Here is one prediction from Newton that I hope he is right on, but I don’t know the context of this common quote and why he believed it. The “be raised up” clause indicates that they would really understand what they are saying:
“About the Time of the End, a body of men will be raised up who will turn their attention to the Prophecies, and insist upon their literal interpretation, in the midst of much clamor and opposition.”
So far in working out the bugs we have the decree given to Ezra in 457 BC as the starting point. Ezra interpreted the decree to mean that he was authorized to spearhead a broad ranging construction project that included the temple, the city and its walls. The decree is summarized as follows:
Ezra 9:8-9 But now, for a brief moment, Yehovah our Elohim has mercifully allowed a remnant to escape, and give us a peg in His Kadosh Place. Our Elohim has made our eyes light up and granted us a little relief from our slavery. 9 Tho we are slaves, our Elohim hasn’t abandoned us in our slavery. He has extended kindness to us in the presence of the Persian kings. He has revived us to restore the Temple of our Elohim, and to restore its ruins, and given us a protective wall in Judah and in Jerusalem.
While a year appears to be destined to become 360 days long again, it has been 365 1/4 days long since about the 7th century BC.
If we count forward from our starting point by 483 years we will arrive at 27 AD. Don’t get tripped up with the year “0”. Several popular chronologists such as Henry Halley in his Halley’s Bible Handbook make this mistake. In crossing from BC to AD you must allow for the primitive Roman system that did not recognize the concept of “0”. To correct for this, when crossing the line, the AD date equals the period of years from the BC date +1 year—the date BC. In this case the AD date = 483 + 1 – 457 = 27. So the true date is AD 27 rather than AD 26. AD 30 crucifixion advocates often add the 3 1/2 year ministry to AD 26 to achieve a 30 AD (Friday) crucifixion. Those who make the “0” hurdle often resort to a 2 1/2 year ministry to reach the same Friday, April 7, 30 AD date, rather than 31 AD (Wednesday: crescent moon, aviv, no postponements).
As stated earlier in this chapter, we can prove that Yeshua died on a Wednesday. All of the Wednesday proponents I know believe that the crucifixion was on April 25, 31 AD—but for the wrong reason! They believe that without a “postponement” of one day, starting from the astronomical “invisible conjunction” that Passover would have been on a Tuesday. This they claim is proof that the postponements were in effect in the first century. No Jewish encyclopedia would concur with such slight of hand, but these people never cite than the Jews openly claim to have “temporarily” changed the rules due to what might be called the “diaspora tribulation”. However, in this instance, the time lapse between the “astronomical new moon” and the visible new crescent moon comes out on the very same day as the calculated new moon (Molad) with a one day unbiblical postponement.
There is a second way for there to have been a Wednesday Passover in 31 AD that a small minority of 31 AD proponents believe in.
This [now dead] link: NEWSFLASH, PROOF POSITIVE! has some interesting lunar dating information. It is not even a web site, just a lonesome page with barely two paragraphs of real explanation. Yet it was the only live reference to “Wednesday, March 28, 31 AD” to be found on a Google search in reference to the veracity of the date of Yeshua’s crucifixion, tho the exact information is available three times since the writer encouraged copying. I searched for “Wednesday, March 28, 31 AD” as well as “Wednesday, March 28, 31 CE”.
While this “Newsflash” writer accepts some of the added Jewish rules (i.e. the supposed factoring in of the equinox) as being applicable, nevertheless he records the lunar statistics for March of 31 AD. This month would also be in agreement with a Biblical Wednesday crucifixion if the weather had been inclement and the crescent new moon was not seen on the first “possible” day. When a new moon is “expected” but then is not visible, it is always reckoned as the next day; meaning that several days of clouds would never throw a monkey wrench into the determination of the new month.
Bear in mind that while this is the old Julian calendar, the day of the week never changes from calendar to calendar:
[His Note]: Orthodox theologians reject Wednesday crucifixion, even though the Scriptures entirely support this.”
Interestingly, modern calculations show that the moon was 100.0% full at 3:14 PM on that fateful Wednesday. “Coincidentally”, the “darkness over the whole land” ended at exactly 3:00 PM according to Mark.
Mark 15:33-34 At the sixth hour [noon] darkness overtook the entire land until the ninth hour. 34 At the ninth hour [3:00] Yeshua called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, Lamana Shabakthani?” That is, “Alohi! Alohi! Why have you spared me?” 
Matthew 27:46 is usually translated “about the ninth hour”. The Greek word is “peri” (peri), and could just as easily have been used in a definitive manner as Mark did, rather than in an approximate manner. It might just as well be translated “concerning the ninth hour” or even “because of the ninth hour”. (Strong’s 4012: concerning, on account of, because of, about, around, near)
The following concept is some of my musing on the possible March Passover.
While the Passover does not have to occur on exactly the full moon, it is always close. If the time zone line were relocated 14 minutes east of its present location it would run thru, or at least next to Jerusalem. Using Jerusalem as the International Dateline, Yeshua would have died at the fullest point of the Full Moon, precisely 3:00 PM of what I would call “Jerusalem Standard Time” to the very minute, as close as I can figure. I believe that the time zones of the future will be based on Jerusalem (or Israel) time rather than Greenwich time (and always should have been). Under this scenario the minute that Yeshua spoke His final words the “lights” came back on and the 100.0% full moon shone. Yeshua was “the light of the world” (John 8:12, 9:5) The exact three hours of darkness (far too long for an eclipse: outside link) had just ended and the full moon was as full as it could get, and you don’t get a greater contrast of light and darkness than that.
[Of course having the International Date Line run thru Israel may pose too many problems for “those who pass thru”. Another option might be for the dateline to pass thru a place where traffic would not face the complexities of a different day of the week being observed by “their neighbors”. This end time prophecy indicates that there will be a place on the eastern edge of Israel where traffic is impeded—east of the “sea” or lake. Both lakes (formerly all 3) of Israel are presently on the exact border of Israel. None of Israel is east of these “seas”, so Israel will expand eastward far enough to provide a burial place) known as the Valley of Hamon-Gog.
This will form a “netherworld” valley on the order of the Valley of Jehoshaphat, that people mistakenly think is Armageddon (Revelation 16:16). Armageddon is only the gathering place for the Battle of Jehoshaphat! (Joel 3:1-2, 11-12)
The only other references to this alternative date of Yeshua’s crucifixion were on a now dead link. Note what the opening statement said:
“The day of the crucifixion of Jesus was a Wednesday, Thursday or a Friday. That day on the Jewish calendar was Nisan 14 or Nisan 15, depending on whether the day was reckoned from sunrise or sunset. There are six possible combinations leading to four possible dates of the crucifixion. These dates are Thursday, April 6, 30 CE, Friday, April 7, 30 CE, Wednesday, March 28, 31 CE and Friday, April 3, 33 CE. On which day was Yeshua nailed to the cross?
The above “possible” days and dates for the crucifixion are discussed in the chapter, ‘Astronomical Determination of the New Moon.’ The surrounding years are there eliminated as possible for His crucifixion.”
This writer dismissed a Wednesday Passover for several reasons, none of which are valid. His “best” argument was that the women would have wrapped His body with spices on the following Friday, if Thursday had been the First Day of Unleavened Bread, because Sunday would have been too late. However his grave site was under armed guard until the third day (Matthew 27:62-66). Another objection I have is to his conclusion that “preparation day” was a descriptive term for Fridays, and in this particular instance the alleged “Good Friday”, yet every reference to the preparation day in the Bible applies it to the Passover—specifically Yeshua’s last Passover—and never to a preparation for the weekly Sabbath! In fact John said in John 19:14, “It was the Preparation Day for the Passover ...” and in John 19:31 “Because it was the Preparation Day, the Jews said, “These bodies must not remain all night on crosses; because the Sabbath was approaching; and that particular Sabbath was a Great [megas] Day”. So they asked Pilate, if they could break the legs of those being crucified, and take them down. (Compare Matthew 27:62, Mark 15:42, Luke 23:54, John 19:14 & 31 & 42, Ephestians 6:15) Then there is the usual: ‘three days and three nights’ between the death of Yeshua and His resurrection ... is a figure of speech ...” ploy. He also leans on a theory that there were “two Passovers” that year.
My daughter Jennifer, independently studying the crucifixion year, found the following chart put out by the United Church of God (UCG) that attempted to show all of the variables in use by different chronologists. The committee responsible for the table decided that their “Church” must use the “Calculated with Postponements” method:
The dates are using the Julian calendar (Not Gregorian).
4) Based on details provided from a variety of sources, including: Herman H. Goldstein, New & Full Moons: 1001 BC to AD 1561, Vol. 94, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, 1973; Colin J. Humphreys and W.G. Waddington, “Dating the Crucifixion,” Nature 306 (December 1983): 743—746; Jean Meeus, Astronomical Formulae for Calculators; Karl Schock, Table for the Visibility of the New Crescent; and the Royal Nautical Almanac.
Jennifer wrote “I could not find any errors in the calculations and I also came to the spring of 31 AD. Those comparing only two calendar options (Calculated with Postponements vs. Calculated without Postponements) use this information to conclude that using the Calculated Calendar with Postponements is the correct method as it is ‘the only way that Passover could have been on a Wednesday in 31 AD’. Their conclusion, therefore, is that the current Jewish calendar system must be correct. However, as we can see above, a Wednesday Passover would also have been possible in 31 AD using Observation.
“Problem: The Jewish calendar adds the 13th month in a fixed pattern over a 19 year cycle. The above calendar appears to take into account the fact that there was a change made to this pattern sometime after 100 AD. I came across several calendar converters that convert dates based on all of the current Jewish calendar rules (the fixed days of each month, with the exception of postponements, and fixed pattern for adding in the 13th month) and they all placed Passover in the year 31 AD—one month earlier than in the chart shown above”. [March rather than April]
“Using the fixed calendar of today and the fixed pattern of adding the 13th month, Passover in the year 31 AD would have been on a Monday! Of course this does not prove that the rest of the rules surrounding the present Jewish calendar are incorrect—just that the fixed pattern of when to add the 13th month is incorrect. To understand more about the other rules used by the current Jewish calendar, we’ll have to look elsewhere”.
In addition to Jewish “postponements” and “calculated new moons” (also created in the 4th century) that mark the invisible conjunction rather than the visible crescent—one to two days later—another major error of most chronologists is that they believe that to determine when Passover is we must factor in the spring equinox. Such an assumption is not the case: See Biblical Festivals And Equinoxes—Is there A Connection?. [It does appear that when the year was 360 days long, that the equinox always coincided with a New Moon, which accounts for so many ancient calendars being based on it rather than the barley harvest in Israel. Yet Biblical months are precisely based on harvests.]
According to the translator of Josephus, the last Jubilee Year that was celebrated before the Diaspora (70 AD) was in 27 AD. This adds great credibility to the belief that when Yeshua proclaimed, “Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21) He was indeed proclaiming the “acceptable year of Yehovah” (Luke 4:21) in 27 AD! In Yeshua’s native Aramaic, “the acceptable year of Yehovah” is how they referred to the Jubilee.
Next we have the much acclaimed—but wrong—starting year of 445 BC:
445 BC: Artaxerxes issued a decree to Nehemiah concerning the city of his “fathers’ tombs” (Jerusalem), that he should go and rebuild Jerusalem. Astronomical and archaeological records do exist that prove that this particular edict was made on March 14, 445 BC, and most commentators believe that the edict issued to Nehemiah, the royal cupbearer for Artaxerxes I is the obvious candidate for beginning the countdown to the Messiah, because it is the only one that specifically mentions the rebuilding of Jerusalem. For that reason, they assume that the countdown to the Messiah’s arrival began in 445 BC.
Here is the account:
Nehemiah 2:1-8 Then in the month Nisan, during the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, after some wine was brought for him, I took the wine to the king. Now I hadn’t previously been sad in his presence. 2 So the king asked me, “Why do you appear so sad when you aren’t sick? You must be deeply troubled.” Then I was really afraid. 3 I replied to the king, “Long live the king! Why shouldn’t I look sad when the city, the place of my ancestors graves is in ruins, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.” 4 Then the king asked me, “What would help you?” So I prayed to the Elohim of heaven. 5 I I replied to the king, “If the king is so inclined and if your servant has found favor in your sight, send me to Judah, to the city of my ancestors’ graves, so that I can rebuild it.” 6 Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked, “How long will your venture be, and when will you return?” So I gave him a specific date and he was amenable to letting me go. 7 I also asked the king: “If it pleases the king, have letters be given to me addressed to the governors beyond the River, so that they will grant me safe passage on my way to Judah, 8 and a letter to Asaph the manager of the king’s forest, instructing him to give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress by the temple, and for the walls of the city, and for a house for myself.” The king granted these requests because I the good hand of my Elohim was on me.
Now for Part 3 of Daniel’s Mysterious Seventy “Weeks”