|MESSIAH: HIS FIRST COMING SCHEDULED, Chapter 13||
MESSIAH: HIS FIRST COMING SCHEDULED
THE SEVENTY WEEKS OF DANIEL
III we saw that the ruling power would remain in Judah until Shiloh comes, who
is King Messiah. Since the nation collapsed in 70 C.E., and since the
Scriptures cannot be broken, we arrived at the conclusion that He came prior
to that event. In chapter IX we have seen that the Psalmist David looked
forword to our day and time and described a situation which presupposes the
development that has arisen only since the World War. In his vision David saw
that there would be held an international, atheistic, anti-Christian
convention. The delegates to this conference are to be the kings of the world
and its rulers. Throughout the sessions of this world congress the delegates
from the various nations will clamor for legislation to exterminate from their
respective realms the doctrines of God and His Messiah. The passage
presupposes that Messiah has already came and that His influence and teaching
have spread throughout the nations of the earth. In view of this fact we
concluded that Messiah has already come and that His teaching had spread among
the nations prior to the outbreak of the World War. In chapter XI we have also
learned that a shoot of the house of Jesse would come out of his stock and
bear fruit in the form of a righteous administration throughout the world.
This royal family tree of the Davidic house was hewn down when the Babylonians
overthrew the little kingdom of Judah and carried the leading citizens into
exile. The stump of this royal tree remained in the soil during the succeeding
centuries and was finally uprooted in the calamity of 70 C.E. This position
becomes evident by the fact that at the overthrow of the Jewish nation in that
fateful year every vestige of political and national life was destroyed, and
the possibility of any future revival of the once-glorious Davidic dynasty,
humanly speaking, was safeguarded by the humiliating subjugation of Israel
and her dispersion among the nations. All the records, the national archives,
were admittedly destroyed in the final collapse when the city was taken, and
the temple was burned; therefore, in the figure of Isaiah 11 the stump of
Jesse was pulled up. These facts show that it was necessary for the shoot,
here foretold, to grow up out of the stump before it was uprooted and
Finally, in chapter XV we shall see a prediction concerning the complete destruction of the defenses of Judea, especially those of Jerusalem. According to this prophecy this calamity was to be a judgment from Gad upon Israel because of her rejection of her Messiah. Since we see that the oracle was literally fulfilled in 70 C.E., we are forced to the canc1usion that He came prior to that event, and that Israel, according to the prediction, rejected Him. Hence the threatened calamity came upon the Chosen People. Since that date the Hebrew nation has wandered throughout the world, suffering as a consequence of their denial of Him.
In this chapter we are to study a prediction which is very definite and specific-one which deals with the exact number of years from the exile to the time when Messiah was to be cut off. Then the prophet's mind flashed from the date of His execution to the fall of Jerusalem, which we know occurred in 70 C.E. From that event he focused his rapt attention on the events of the end of the present age, "the time of Jacob's trouble." This wonderful oracle is found in the ninth chapter of Daniel's prophecy. It is of fundamental and vital importance, in that it gives in terms of years the outline of the period separating the first two events; therefore, in this passage we find the very information for which we have been looking. To a careful investigation of this prophecy we shall give special attention.
1. THE HISTORICAL SETTING
In order far
one to understand the meaning of a given passage, whether in profane or sacred
writings, he must study the historical circumstances which called forth the
utterance. Especially must one study all of the antecedents which have any
bearing upon a prediction in order to. arrive at its meaning. If the
historical background of any passage be ignored, it will be absolutely
impassible for one to understand its full impart. In keeping with this
scientific principle we shall first study the predictions spoken by Jeremiah
on this paint.
In the fourth year of Jehoiakim king of Judah, which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the twenty-third of Jeremiah's ministry, the prophet foretold the Babylonian captivity, which, said he, would continue for seventy years. In his original prediction (chapter 25), he made it very clear that the captivity and its sufferings were the results of Israel's sinfulness and rebellion. The Lord called Nebuchadnezzar His servant-not an obedient and willing servant, but one wham He would use in forwording His plans and purposes. His using this heathen king is analogous to the way in which He later used Cyrus king of Persia. In 25: 9, 10 a distressing picture of the final collapse of the nation under Nebuchadnezzar is presented. This prediction is followed by a definite statement concerning the length of the exile in Babylon. "And this whale land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years." In verse 12 of this same chapter the prophet promised that at the expiration of this period the captives would be restored to the land of their fathers.
2. JEREMIAH'S LETTER TO. THE CAPTIVES
referred to. in the heading of this section was written by Jeremiah to the
exiles in Babylon
after Jehaiakim together with the nobles of the land had been deported to.
Babylon. He sent this communication by the hands of Elasah and Gemariah, who.
were dispatched by King Zedekiah of Judah
an a special mission to. Nebuchadnezzar. Of course, these faithful men of Gad
delivered the letter to "the residue of the elders of the captivity," while
they were in Babylon conducting the royal business. Jehaiachin's captivity
occurred in the year 597 B.CE. of the popular, current chronology. This letter
was not sent until Zedekiah had come into power, for the two men carrying it
were dispatched to Babylon by him. We cannot say in just what year the
document was drawn up. The oracle found in the preceding chapter (28) was
spoken in the fourth year of Zedekiah. This chapter recounts Jeremiah's
conflict with the false prophets in Jerusalem. Since the letter deals with the
impostors who. were active in Babyl0n among the captives and since it is
placed immediately after this account, it is likely that
it was written about the same time, namely, the fourth year of Zedekiah.
In order that we might see the situation as it was, I wish to examine verses 10-14 of this chapter.
"For thus saith Jehovah, After seventy years are accomplished for Babylon, I will visit you, and perform my good word toword you, in causing you to return to this place. 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toword you, saith Jehovah, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope in your latter end. 12 And ye shall call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. 13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye sha11 search for me with all your heart. 14 And I will be found of you, saith Jehovah, and I will turn again your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith Jehovah; and I will bring you again unto the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive."
In verse 14
we see that the captivity was to continue far seventy years, and that at the
expiration of this period God would visit the exiles in causing them to return
to the land of their nativity. The restoration would, of course, be according
to God's good word to them. According to verse 11 the prophet declared that
return after the seventy years was absolutely necessary in order to the
carrying out of the eternal plan of the Almighty for her. God has a plan of
the ages, and Israel is the principal actor upon the stage of this world drama
during the past and future eras; therefore, the prophet declared that it was
necessary for the Lord to restore the exiles at the end of the seventy years
of their residence in Babylon. His thoughts for Israel are for good-to give
her hope in the latter end. He could not do that, should the captives remain
In verses 12 and 13 the Lord promises Israel that, when she calls upon Him, He will answer; but at the same time He insists that the repentance be genuine and their calling upon Him be in faith. If the prediction had ended with verse 13, one would have thought that Jeremiah was simply looking to the end of the Babylonian captivity when the Lord would restore the captives, and that Israel's calling upon Him at that time was the thing which the prophet here mentions.
When we read verse 14, however, we see that the captivity concerning which he was speaking is one that involves a world-wide dispersion from which she will at the end of the age be gathered. "And I will be found of you, saith Jehovah, and I will turn again your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations," etc. These words clearly indicate that he had in mind the final and permanent regathering af Israel from the four corners of the earth. This is the same mighty restoration of which he spoke in chapter 23:7,8.
"7 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that they shall no more say, As Jehovah liveth, who brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; 8 but, As Jehovah liveth, who brought up and who led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all the countries whither I had driven them. And they shall dwell in their own land."
likewise foretold the same national restoration (Isa. 11:11,
12). Unless one is very careful to note every particular in the development of
the thought as he reads verses 10-14, he will not differentiate between the
return of the captives from Babylon at
the end of the seventy years of exile and the final restoration of the entire
nation at the end of the age. Jeremiah's letter to the exiles is immediately
followed, in this great prophetic book, by an extended prediction concerning
the new covenant which Gad will make with both Judah and Israel at their final
restoration. The conversion of the nation
is likewise foretold.
The picture of the future presented in these chapters is tinted with the bright colors of the glorious kingdom age. The casual reader will probably not observe the delicate blending of the pictures of the two restorations, which we know, from our present point of view, are separated thus far by approximately 2500 years, but will see only one return-the one at the conclusion of the Babylonian exile.
We who. are living between these two. restorations can see that the new covenant was not made with Israel at the time of the return from Babylon, far when this prediction is fulfilled Israel will never again be rooted up from the land. Since she was cast out of it in 70 CE. and has been scattered among the nations for approximately 1900 years, we know that the latter part of this prophecy has not yet been fulfilled. To us the restoration from Babylon after the seventy years was only a foreshadowing of the final and glorious one in the end time. In reading these chapters we must not look at them from our paint of view, but from that of the prophet and his contemporaries. Could the casual hearer or reader at that time see these two. restorations and the intervening period? In this connection I will leave this question unanswered, but in the proper place (Sectian D) shall discuss it.
B. Daniel's Study of Prophecy
"1 In the
first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, who was
made king over the realm of the Chaldeans, 2 in the first year of his reign I,
Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years whereof the word of
Jehovah came to Jeremiah the prophet, for the accomplishing of the desolations
even seventy years" (Dan. 9:1, 2).
important that we understand these facts in order that we may correctly
evaluate the word year. What kind of year did
Daniel informs us that he was reading the book of Jeremiah in the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes. This year was the sixty-eighth of the seventy-year period of exile. Hence within 2 years of the restoration Daniel was reading the writings of his alder contemporary, who had been left in Jerusalem and the latter part of whose life overlapped that of his own. Why did Daniel consume his time reading the forecasts of Jeremiah?
1. THE PURPOSE OF PROPHECY
There are design and wisdom in everything which the Lord does. Hence we conclude that there is a purpose served by the prophetic word. He through Amos said that He would not do. anything unless He first revealed the matter to. His servants, the prophets. The fundamental principle underlying the Lord's making His plans and purposes first known to. His servants before putting them into execution is that He has taken His people into. a very close and intimate fellowship with Himself. "The friendship of Jehovah is with them that fear Him; And He will show them His covenant" (Ps. 25:14). Prophecy then is not given to. satisfy idle curiosity but to cause the Lord's people to understand His plans that they may conform their lives thereto. This fact is beautifully illustrated by Daniel's sincere confession and earnest petition recorded in verses 3 to 19 of chapter 9. At a casual glance we see that he began to. confess his own sins and shortcomings together with those of his people and at the same time to plead far an extension of the Lord's mercy toword the whole nation. The prophetic word, therefore, has a definite purpose in the plan of God; namely, that of enabling His people to cooperate with Him in unfolding His plan of the ages. Thus when one reads the predictions with spiritual discernment, he will naturally be led to pray in regard to the matters revealed and will adjust his life and activities in accordance with the divine program.
2. LITERAL INTERPRETATION OF PROPHECY
circumstance furnishes us with one of the clearest examples of haw to. study
and understand the prophetic word. In the original prediction God said that
the exiles should remain in captivity seventy years. Daniel read this oracle,
believing that the Lord said what He meant and meant what He said. He
correctly understood that the expression, seventy years, meant exactly seventy
years-nothing more and nothing less. This observation brings me back to the
fundamental principle which I often mention, and which I feel is necessary for
us to observe in order that we may understand any writings, profane or sacred.
The basic principle of interpretation is that each word must be taken at its
original, primary, literal, usual meaning unless there are indications in the
connection showing that such is not the case. We should never assign any
signification to. a given passage other than the usual meaning without warrant
from the facts presented in the context. There is nothing in the message of
the original prediction indicating a departure from the literal meaning of the
words. Hence Daniel correctly understood that the expression, seventy years, *
was to be taken literally.
In the first instance it is quite evident that a day did foreshadow a year in history. Are we warranted from these two exceptional cases to conclude that everywhere a prediction involving the time element is made, a day stands for a year in history? In order to test this hypothesis, let us apply it to the seventy years of Babylonian captivity. The exponents of this theory claim that the prophetic year consists of 360 days, and that each foreshadows a year in history. According to this position we must multiply seventy by 360, the result of which calculation is 25,200. Since by hypothesis, each of these so-called prophetic days foreshadows a year in reality, Israel was to remain in Babylon for 25,200 years; hence the restoration from that exile is yet far in the future. As the logical conclusion of the theory proves to be an absurdity, we see that it is not applicable in this instance. Let us test it once more. In Genesis l5:l3 we read of the Lord's telling Abraham that his seed should be sojourners in a land not their own and that they should serve the people of the land. The oracle also foretold that this period of affliction should last 400 years. According to the theory, these 400 years would be equivalent to 144,000 days each of which would signify a year of actual history. Therefore, by hypothesis, the Israelites have a very long time yet to remain in Egyptian bondage.
these two instances we observe that this theory reduces itself to an
absurdity. If it should be applied to other passages in which a definite time
is stated, we should find that in each case an application of this hypothesis
would produce a ridiculous absurdity; therefore, I must reject this theory as
unscriptural so far as a general principle for interpreting the prophetic word
is concerned. This theory will come up for full discussion in chapter XXI.
began to pray, the angel Gabriel was dispatched from heaven to answer his cry.
His petition can be read in four minutes. Thus the angel made the long journey
through space to his side in this inconceivably short time. This deduction is
correct, provided we have the prayer recorded in full. According to the Word
of God, the angels are Gods messengers for good to those who acknowledge Him.
D. Gabriel's Mission
In Daniel 9:22, 23 we have recorded the language of the angel to the prophet upon his arrival. In his introductory speech we find an echo of the fact that Daniel had misunderstood what he had read.
1. TO INSTRUCT DANIEL
Gabriel immediately informed Daniel that he had been sent forth "to give thee (Daniel) wisdom and understanding." From the entire context it is clear that, since Daniel was reading Jeremiah's prophecies, and since the angel came to. give him wisdom and understanding, the prophet evidently did not understand what he had read; i. e., he did not comprehend the full impart of Jeremiah's prediction. Concerning Gabriel's message Daniel, in the beginning of verse 22, said that the angel had instructed him. To instruct one means to impart knowledge which one does not already possess; therefore we legitimately conclude that Gabriel gave the prophet knowledge concerning the things which he had just read, and which he did not understand. Daniel's statement is, of course, reinforced by Gabriel's, concerning the purpose of his visit. Had the prophet thoroughly understood Jeremiah's writings, Gabriel certainly would not have come to Him.
misunderstanding the oracle leads me to make the following observation. The
prophets were not always inspired. This fact becomes evident when one reads
their messages and the statements which they frequently made concerning the
coming of the word of the Lord to them on given occasions. Many of their
predictions are dated. At times the people went to them and sought
information. These men of Gad would then go to Him in prayer, and He would
respond. Whenever the Spirit was upon them, they spoke infallibly. Under these
conditions they could make no mistakes. On other occasions when the Spirit was
not inspiring them nor the hand of the Lord was upon them, they could and did
draw wrong conclusions concerning certain matters. As an illustration of this
fact, may I call attention to the case of Nathan? According to II Samuel 7
David informed the prophet concerning his purpose to erect a temple for the
glory of God. Immediately he approved the royal purpose and assured the king
that God would be with him. When he gave this bit of encouragement, he was
speaking as a man to his friend.
thank and praise the Lord for the fact that the prophets were unerringly and
completely inspired so. that they have given us an infallible revelation, upon
which we can rely with perfect assurance. The prophetic word, as in many
instances, has been verified by literal fulfillment. All of those forecasts
which painted to things that are now past have been literally fulfilled. This
fact encourages us to believe that the prophecies which look out into the
future will likewise be literally fulfilled just as those which related to the
past were accomplished exactly as written.
Daniel was like other men. He, of course, had his prejudices, likes, and dislikes. He, like all of us, was naturally subject to the false attitude of dismissing something that did not especially appeal to him, even to the point of rejecting knowledge that he had not already acquired. The angel, knowing this human weakness, spoke to and admonished him: "Therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision." Had there been no occasion for this admonition, Gabriel would never have insisted that he consider the explanation which he was about to make. In genuine humility and with a desire to learn the truth in regard to the matters about which he had been reading, Daniel listened attentively to the angelic message.
In faithful obedience to the will of God he recorded this most wonderful revelation, which gives us the correct date when the Messiah was to be cut off and have nothing.
One of the
mast unfortunate traits of human nature is the assumption of the individual
that he has learned all that may be known in regard to. a given subject and,
therefore, cannot be taught anything relative to this matter. Even in this
enlightened era there are those who feel that they have mastered certain
subjects; hence they are unwilling to listen to something new on these topics.
May I earnestly state that the wider my experience becomes, the less I see
that I know and the greater is my need of more knowledge and
clearer insight into the things that I have already learned? May the Lord deliver each of us from the false and fatal attitude of assuming that we cannot be given further light on any subject. Often even small children call our attention to things which have escaped our observation. May we, like Daniel, always be ready to learn more of the truth of God's Word.
II. THE REVELATION CONCERNING THE SEVENTY WEEKS
Having urged Daniel to consider carefully what he was about to say, Gabriel informed him that seventy weeks were decreed upon the prophet's own people and upon the Holy City. What is the significance of "seventy weeks?" Does the word week have the meaning which it usually signifies in ordinary conversation? The average reader upon seeing it in this connection assumes that it indicates a period of 7 days, for such is its usual connotation in our vernacular. But is that its meaning in this passage? From our translation it is impossible for us to give the correct answer. Therefore it becomes necessary to examine the original text.
A. The Use of shabhuiym in the Hebrew Text
The word shabhuiym is derived from the verbal form shabhat, the meaning of which is "to swear, to confirm with an oath." In the Semitic world the number seven was used to indicate completeness and perfection. Since the oath was considered as final for confirmation, it was natural that the word connected with seven should be used. The form of the expression occurring in Gabriel's message is shabhuiym, the plural of shabhat. Hence it literally means sevens. Is the idea of day inherent in this word? In order to answer this query we shall have to examine passages in which it is used.
29 we have a record of Jacob's serving Laban 7 years in order that he might
have Rachel in marriage. At the expiration of the designated period, which to
Jacob, on account of his great love for her, seemed as but a few days, his
marriage was solemnized. On the following morning, however, Jacob was amazed
to learn that Leah, Laban's older daughter, had been substituted for Rachel.
Immediately he remonstrated with his father-in-law in regard to the deception*
that had been practiced upon him.
"27 Fulfil the week of this one, and we will give thee the other also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years. 28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife. 29 And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her handmaid. 30 And he went in aha unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years" (Gen. 29:27-30).
According to verse 27 Laban insisted that Jacob fulfill the week of Rachel and then concluded his statement with an explanation of what he meant by week, namely, "seven other years." From verse 28 we see that "Jacob fulfilled her week." The last sentence of verse 30 states that Jacob "served yet with him seven other years." It is evident from this testimony that week in this connection indicates seven years. Let the reader note carefully that the idea of year is not inherent in the work week, but is expressed by the word shabhat used in apposition with week.
In Genesis 41:25-27 we have a similar usage of this word. In interpreting Pharaoh's dream Joseph said, "The dream of Pharaoh is one: what God is about to do he hath declared unto Pharaoh. The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one." No one can misunderstand the significance of the word shabhat here translated seven, but in Daniel 9: 24 rendered week. The only difference between the word used by Joseph and the one employed by Gabriel is that, though they are derived from the same stem (one, a segolate noun; the other, the kal passive participle), the former is in the singular, whereas the latter is in the plural. The same usage occurs in Job 1:2. From this statement we learn that this patriarch had (shibhah) seven sons. From these examples we can see that the inherent meaning of this word is seven without any intimation as to the objects thus designated.
Another passage that will throw further light upon this investigation is Leviticus 23:15, 16.
"15 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave-offering; seven sabbaths shall there be complete: 16 even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meal-offering unto the Lord."
expression in verse 15 is shabha shabathoth, "seven sabbaths." The initial
date of this period is "the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye
brought the sheaf of the wave-offering.
According to verse 16 "the seven sabbaths" constitute a period of "fifty days." The context shows that days are under consideration. But the idea of days is not inherent in shabha, seven.
Before closing the investigation on this point I wish to notice another example of the usage of this word.
"8 And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and there shall be unto thee the days of seven sabbaths of years, even forty and nine years" (Lev. 25.8).
Let the reader note the expression, "seven sabbaths of years." From the context it is evident that the writer is talking about the year of jubilee. Since he had years in mind, he used the word years in connection with his numbering them. Let us, therefore, keep in mind that the idea of year is not expressed by the word week, namely, seven.
From these examples we see that the word week occurring in Gabriel's message simply means seven. Since it is put in the plural form, it should properly be rendered sevens. Because week in English connotes seven days, great confusion has resulted from the translators' use of it to render the word that primarily means sevens. Much misunderstanding would have been avoided, had they rendered it literally seventy sevens. A parallel case in English corresponding to the use of the Hebrew word seven is the term dozen. Should I in conversation with another exclaim, "I see a dozen," only one idea would be conveyed to his mind by the word dozen, i. e., 12. If, on the other hand, I should be speaking of birds and state that I had counted a dozen, my friend would understand that I had seen 12 birds. Again, if the conversation were about children, and I made the observation that I had counted a dozen, he would naturally understand that I had counted 12 children. Frequently we use the words, score and gross, as synonyms for the numbers 20 and 144. These examples will suffice to illustrate the use of week in this passage.
The context alone is to decide what is indicated by this word. From the connection we learn what is the topic of conversation. Hence when it occurs, we know that it indicates the number of the objects constituting the subject of discussion.
one I discussed the point of Daniel's misunderstanding the prophecy of
Jeremiah, which he had been reading. In that
first utterance is a play upon words. Daniel had read and had been thinking of
the seventy years of the desolation of Jerusalem. Then this heavenly messenger
informed him that the great kingdom age would not be ushered in at the
conclusion of the "seventy years" of Jerusalem's desolations, as he had
thought, but that there would be "seventy sevens" of years for the
accomplishment of the glorious forecast given by Jeremiah. To bring clearly
before our minds the psychology involved in the entire affair, may I use this
simple little illustration? Frequently a child takes very lightly something
that is of a serious nature and attempts to laugh the matter off. By way of
warning the parent firmly yet gently says, "Soon you will be laughing on the
other side of your mouth." All recognize that this method of speech is a play
upon words. The parent simply speaks of what the child will be doing in terms
of his present attitude and conduct. We constantly use this mode of
expression. The time element of Gabriel's message, as far as possible,
Daniel, you have been thinking that the final restoration will be accomplished and the full covenant blessings will be realized at the close of these seventy years of exile in Babylon. On this point you are mistaken. You are not now on the eve of the fulfillment of this wonderful prediction. Instead of its being brought to pass at this time, I am sent to inform you that there is decreed upon your people and the Holy City a period of "seventy sevens" of years before they can be realized. At the conclusion of this period of 490 years the nation of Israel will be reconciled and will be reinstated into the divine favor and will enter into the enjoyment of all the covenant blessings.
We have already learned that week simply connotes the number seven; therefore, the "seventy sevens" mentioned by the angel are 490 years. This interpretation is evident to one when he remembers that Daniel had read of years and had been thinking in those terms (vss. 1,2). In view of the drift of the thought the message can have no other significance. This revelation brought by Gabriel was evidently given to correct the prophet's misapprehension concerning Jeremiah's language.
ascertained the meaning of the "seventy sevens," we are now prepared to
advance in our investigation concerning the message relative to this era of
righteousness mentioned by Gabriel.
The title of this subdivision is "The Establishment of the Kingdom of God upon Earth." The reader is not to infer from this heading that there is no kingdom of God in the world at the present time, for such is contrary to fact. The expression "kingdom of God" is a very broad and comprehensive term, including the entire universe and all beings and things therein. As proof of this position see Ps 103:19-22:
hath established his throne in the heavens;
In the Tenach the kingdom of Israel is called the kingdom of God. To the leaders of the kingdom David declared that God had raised up Solomon to sit upon "the throne of the kingdom of Jehovah over Israel" (I Chron. 28:5). Again, Solomon is likewise said to have sat upon the throne of Jehovah in the place of his father David (I Chron. 29:23) . From these and other passages we see that the kingdom of Israel, consisting of the twelve tribes, was used synonymously with the expression, "kingdom of Jehovah."
Though the nation of Israel was recognized as the subjects of the kingdom of God, it is not to be supposed that the people were perfect and did the will of God in every detail, for such is contrary to the facts presented by the Tenach. The Lord chose Israel to be His peculiar possession and made Himself known to her. By the outword symbol of the Shekinah of Glory God constantly spoke of Himself as dwelling in her midst. She continued, nevertheless, to depart from the divine revelation and to adopt the customs and habits of the heathen with whom she was perpetually in contact. At times it seems that the entire nation took one plunge headlong into vice and degradation. Finally the Lord was forced by her iniquity to withdraw from her midst and to bring His judgments upon her. The crisis came in the form of the invasion of the realm by the Babylonians and the consequent exile.
constantly looked forword to an era when the will of God shall be done
perfectly on earth as it is done in the heavens. They foretold the time when
the Lord in person would come and dwell in the midst of the nations. At that
time a new, sinless order will be introduced. This vision was presented by
Balaam, whose predictions are recorded in Numbers 23 and 24. Practically all
the prophets and psalmists sang of this marvelous era when the glory of the
Lord shall encircle the earth as the waters cover the sea. Already we have
briefly seen that Daniel, having read Jeremiah's prophecy, was thrilled with
the anticipation of the establishment of this perfect order upon earth. It is
this phase of the investigation to which we shall now devote our attention.
Gabriel declared that seventy weeks or 490 years had been decreed upon the
Hebrew people and their beloved city to bring about six results: to finish
transgression; to make an end of sin; to make reconciliation for iniquity; to
bring in everlasting righteousness;
What is signified by the expression, "to finish or to restrain transgression" or "the transgression?" The word rendered finish is kalla. Its primary meaning is "to retain, bar, restrain, close, shut up, hinder." The form here appearing is the Piel infinitive. In this conjugation it is equivalent to kalah, the meaning of which is "to be completed, finished, ready; to be at an end, to be consumed, destroyed, to vanish." In the Piel conjugation it has the same meaning: "to complete, finish, end, execute; to cease; to consume, to spend, to destroy." These various meanings are simply shades of the one central idea of restraining or completely hindering. The idea of vanishing is likewise prominently conspicuous in its fundamental concept.
The verb form translated "to finish" or "to restrain" is transitive and has as its object the word "transgression." In the text of the Revised Version we have "transgression," but in the marginal note the definite article appears: "the transgression." In the original text the article is prefixed to the noun and should be rendered, "the transgression." The term in the original is happesha and is derived from the verb pasha, which means "to sin, to transgress, to rebel, to be refractory." Transgression, according to its Latin derivation, means to "go beyond the limit or boundary."
The pictorial element of this Latin term is not so distinct as the Hebrew word which it is used to translate. From all of the definitions given we may be certain that it emphasizes the idea of rebellion against God and disobedience to His will.
But what is
the significance of the article prefixed to this noun? Literally rendered, the
expression should read "the transgression." The article in Hebrew, as in
Greek, is very definite and points clearly to some outstanding thing or
object. Thus the expression "the transgression" seems to indicate some
specific, outstanding, national sin of the Chosen People. When we study their
history, we are confronted with the fact that the nation has indulged in many
and gross sins. But what nation has not? According to the significance of the
article we must find some national sin that looms like a high mountain peak
above all others, and that might properly
In Leviticus 26:40 we find the following prediction: "And they shall confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers, in their trespass which they trespassed against me," etc. This verse seems to teach that there is some definite sin which is here designated as the iniquity of the last generation of Israel scattered among the nations, which was committed by the fathers while they were still in the homeland, and on account of which God cast them out and scattered them among the nations of earth. From these facts it is evident that not only those who actually committed the transgression, but those of the last generation of their descendants dispersed among the nations are alike held guilty of this national crime. How can this thing be? Since God is just, it is also evident that He will not condemn one for an act with which he has nothing to do. The only way in which the descendants of those who actually committed the crime can justly be held guilty of the act is by their assuming the same attitude as their fathers did, in both their thinking and in their justifying them. When the people of Israel scattered among the nations make this confession, as is here foretold, the Lord will remember His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and He will also remember the land promise.
to be thinking of this same national sin in his prediction found in Hosea
5:14, 15. From the immediate context we see that he was discussing the things
that will occur in the latter time of Israel's trouble. Passing in review,
however, the conduct of both Judah and Israel, he moved on rapidly to the end
of the age, and, speaking for God, declared: "14 For I will be unto Ephraim as
a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go
away; I will carry off, and there shall be none to deliver. 15 I will go and
return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in
their affliction they will seek me earnestly."
Thus God declared that He would do to Ephraim and Judah. He comes to them; they commit some offence against Him; then returning to His place He remains there until they acknowledge their offence against Him and seek Him earnestly. The prediction concludes with the statement: "in their affliction they will seek me earnestly." Interpreted literally, we would say that Hosea declared that at some time in the future (from his day) God would come to Israel, but that she would commit some offence against Him. Because of that sinful act He returns to heaven and remains there until the entire nation in genuine repentance acknowledges her offence against Him and seeks Him earnestly. Then He will return.
This position is in perfect accord with that set forth in Isaiah 53:1-9. This servant passage, of which these verses are a part, begins with 52:13 and continues through 53:12. A close study of the context shows that the servant of Jehovah is King Messiah who comes to Israel, and against whom the leaders of the nation sin. So far as this passage is concerned nothing is given relative to his disappearing from the scene of opposition and hostility. Nevertheless the prediction is made that He again will appear upon the scene, and that which the kings of the earth have not heard shall they see. Our prophet simply omitted these details which are given by Hosea. Isaiah 53:1-9 may properly be called Israel's penitential confession which the faithful remnant will make in the year 1939+. I placed the plus sign after the number 1939 to indicate that in a certain definite year the whole nation of Israel living at that time will see the outstanding sin of the nation-the execution of her Messiah-and will confess her guilt in that tragedy. A careful study of this passage reveals the fact that these verses describe what might correctly be called Israel's national sin and her confession of the same.
In order for
one to understand this passage correctly, he must, in his thinking, take his
position with the remnant of Israel in the time of Jacob's trouble and look
back over the weary waste of 1900 years to the execution of King Messiah. Thus
having identified himself with the nation of Israel, he can clearly understand
the point of view from which these verses were spoken. From the three passages
that have just been discussed it is evident that there is one national sin of
Israel which, like the towering peak of a mountain range, stands out
prominently above all other sins committed by the Hebrew race-the rejection
The Lord does not arbitrarily forgive and blot out sins, but waits until the guilty one has repented and in genuine faith pleads for forgiveness. This passage assumes, therefore, that the whole nation repents and turns to God for mercy and forgiveness. Thus this first phrase implies the conversion of the nation. But what is assumed here is stated specifically in the third phrase.
thing to be accomplished at the conclusion of the 490 year period is to make
an end of sin. The word rendered "to make an end of sin is chatham. It
literally means "to shut, close, seal; to hide, to reveal as a secret." This
word was regularly used to indicate the closing of a letter or an official
document. When the scribe had finished his work, the king placed his royal
seal upon it, thus showing that the communication was brought to a close and
at the same time giving it the official imprimatur, The primary idea is that
of bringing a matter to a conclusion.
Such is its significance here.
The word in the original rendered "sin" is chatath, and literally means "sin, transgression, sin-offering, atonement." It is derived from the verb which means "to fail, to sin, to miss, to forfeit; to endanger." In the Piel form, the intensive stem, it means "to atone for, to expiate, to clear from sin."
Thus in both the verbal and nominal forms the idea of wrongdoing and that of atonement for sin blend. The context, therefore, is to determine which idea stands in the foreground. Since in the preceding phrase the thought of rebelling against God was mentioned, it is quite natural that this phrase should be a development of that thought. Hence we take it in the primary literal meaning of sin and transgression. Again, since the transgression mentioned in the first phrase pointed out the national sin of the race, the second phrase seems to indicate sins in general-acts of wrongdoing, iniquities, and immoral conduct.
The infinitive, "to seal up" or "to make an end of" sin, would seem to indicate that this statement is a prediction of the time when sinning shall cease in Israel. Since the cause of sin must be removed before the cure can be effected, this expression assumes that at the time here foreseen the nation will have turned to the Lord, and that by His Spirit a new heart and spirit will have been given to all the people.
C. To Make Reconciliation for Iniquity
the margin of the Revised Version we have as an alternative reading for "to
make reconciliation for iniquity" the expression "purge away." The word in the
original is kaphar, which literally means "to cover, to forgive, expiate,
atone for." The primary meaning may be seen in connection with the
construction of Noah's ark. The Lord gave this faithful servant instructions
as to how to construct this boat. In the specifications we find this
statement: "pitch it within and without with pitch" (Gen. 7: 14). The word
kaphar appears in both the verbal and nominal forms in this statement. In the
first instance it is rendered "shall pitch" and in the latter case by the noun
"pitch." From the context it is clear that the idea of covering the wood with
what is called pitch is conveyed. Hence the primary meaning of this term is to
cover from sight. From this literal meaning the idea of forgiveness was easily
derived, since in a pictorial way one's sins are covered when they are
The phrase, "to make reconciliation for iniquity," doubtless is a clear reference to the time when all Israel in genuine penitence shall acknowledge her departure from God and her national sin. At the same time each individual, of course, will acknowledge his own wrongs and all will call upon God for pardon. Then that which was foreshadowed by the annual atonement will become a reality. At that time the nation will be brought back into fellowship with God and become a blessing in the earth.
translated "to bring in" is the Hiphil verb form of bo, and in this phrase
means "to cause to come in." The text reading of our translation is therefore
very close to the original. The phrase rendered "everlasting righteousness" is
tsadaq olamiym, which literally translated is "righteousness of the ages."
This phrase is indeed significant. The English word, righteousness, primarily
refers to the correct and proper motives and dealings of man with man. God's
righteousness would, therefore, consist of His correct attitude
and actions towords His creatures and His standards for them. The Hebrew word rendered righteousness is tsadaq. It also carries that idea. Hence our translation is close to the original. What is the significance of olamiym? In the singular form it is constantly translated "forever." Frequently it indicates an age-an indefinite period of time unless there are specific facts in the context which show that it in a given case is to be limited. In the phrase under discussion it has the meaning of "ages." Hence the phrase, "righteousness of the ages," signifies that there are rules or formulas of attitude and conduct that are right and will be reckoned as correct throughout all ages-past, present, and future. These criteria are, therefore, God's standards of ethics and morals.
At the present time God has shown us in His Word what are His standards for men, to which they are to conform their lives. Even the very best and most consecrated servants of God now are very poor specimens of His standards of ethics. When, however, the 490 years are completed and the Almighty brings in His great regime of righteousness, these eternal principles of justice and equity will be in force; therefore, Gabriel said that at this future time God will bring in the righteousness of the ages.
here rendered "to seal up" is identical with the one employed in the second
expression with reference to the cessation of sin. In the preceding discussion
we saw that it signifies the completion of a letter or official document.
Hence the idea of concluding or finishing a matter is indicated by it. The
word rendered "vision" comes from hazah, which means "to split, divide; to
see, look, behold, observe, gaze; to select; to prophesy." The noun form means
"vision, revelation, prophecy." In different manners God made His will known
to man. Sometimes He used the dream, while on other occasions He made Himself
known by a vision, and still at other times the Word of God came in a
subjective manner to the prophets. On all occasions these men of God were
conscious that a divine disclosure was being communicated to them. The word
employed here indicates a vision. An example of this mode of revelation is
seen in the case of the beast visions in Daniel 7. The word rendered
"prophecy" is the regular one that is translated "prophet." This fact is
indicated in the marginal note of the Revised Version.
From the second chapter of Isaiah we see that at the time of the fulfillment of this vision the God of Jacob will dwell in Jerusalem personally and will instruct the people who make pilgrimages continually to that city to be taught of Him.
About the expression qodosh qodashim, there is quite a bit of discussion. The text reading of the Revised Version renders it "the most holy." The marginal note, however, is "a most holy place." Commentators differ very greatly. In order to see the significance of this expression, we shall have to investigate it in the Torah. A comprehensive statement of the various usages to which it was put is found in the following paragraph from Dr. Keil:
"In addition to this, there is the verbal argument that the words, qodosh qodashim, are not used of a single holy vessel which alone could be thought of. Not only the altar of burnt-offering is so named, Ex. xxix. 37, xl.10, but also the altar of incense, Ex. xxx. 10, and the two altars with all the vessels of the sanctuary, the ark of the covenant, shew-bread, candlesticks, basins, and the other vessels belonging thereto, Ex. xxx.29, also the holy material for incense, Ex. xxx.36, the shew-bread, Lev. xxiv.9, the meat-offering, Lev. ii. 3, 10, vi. 10, x. 12, the flesh of the sin-offering and of the expiatory sacrifice, Lev. vi.10, 18, x. 17, vii.1, 6, xiv.13, Num. xvii.9, and that which was sanctified to the Lord, Lev. xxvii. 28. Finally, the whole surroundings of the hill on which the temple stood. Ezek. xliii.12, and the whole new temple, Ezek. xlv. 3, is named a 'most holy'; and according to I Chron. xxiii.13, Aaron and his sons are sanctified as qodosh qodashim."-The Book of Daniel, p. 346.
In view of the great latitude of this expression, it behooves one to be cautious in taking a position with a dogmatic tone. The most scientific way for ascertaining its meaning in this case, however, is to see which of the usages given in the quotation above fits most perfectly into this special context that we are studying. Since the angel was talking about Daniel's people and the city of Jerusalem with reference to the final abolition of all sin and the introduction of righteousness, it becomes most highly probable that this expression refers to the holy temple which will be in the glorious kingdom age, built by the Lord Himself (Zech. 6:12, 13) in Jerusalem. The specific description, plans, and specifications for this future temple are given in Ezekiel 40-48; therefore, when this fact is taken into consideration, it appears to me that the only logical conclusion to which we can come is that this promise implies
the rebuilding of the temple on the magnificent scale foreseen by the prophet and its dedication. When the things here foretold are accomplished, the golden era concerning which the prophets constantly spoke will become a reality. As has been suggested above, Daniel read, in connection with the prediction concerning the Babylonian captivity, other promises relative to a final and glorious restoration of Israel to the land of the fathers and to fellowship with God. From Jeremiah and other prophets it is clearly seen that, when Messiah reestablishes the throne of David and mounts the same, He will establish a world-wide kingdom of righteousness. Under His sovereign power, transgression and sin there will be none, for the glory of the Lord shall encircle the globe as the waters cover the sea. Therefore, this twenty-fourth verse of our chapter, read in the light of the various predictions of the prophets, is obviously a forecast of the establishment of the kingdom of God upon earth in all its glory.
"Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the anointed one, the prince, shall be seven weeks, and three score and two weeks: it shall be built again, with street and moat, even in troublous times" (Daniel 9:25).
The initial date of this seventy-week period of years, according to this verse, is the year in which the commandment goes forth to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem. Can we ascertain the time when a decree was issued for the restoration of the Jewish people to the homeland? In order to answer this question properly, it is necessary for us to examine very carefully a prediction found in Isaiah, chapters 44 and 45. Chapter 44:24-28 reads as follows:
"24 Thus saith Jehovah, thy Redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb. . . 26 that confirmeth the word of his servant, and performeth the counsel of his messengers; that saith of Jerusalem, She shall be inhabited; and of the cities of Judah, They shall be built, and I will raise up the waste places thereof; 27 that saith to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers; 28 that saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure, even saying of Jerusalem, She shall be built; and of the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid."
statement to which I wish to call attention is verse 28. In this prediction
Isaiah spoke relative to Cyrus the Great* in the following language: *
*Isaiah the prophet lived in the latter half of the eighth century before the common era. Cyrus, concerning whom this prophecy is spoken, lived approximately two hundred years later, i. e., in the latter half of the sixth century.
rationalistic critics who on a priori grounds reject the possibility of
miracles and of divine inspiration naturally reject this passage as a genuine
one by Isaiah. This prediction relative to Cyrus and some other facts
presented in the second half of the book of Isaiah are advanced by the
rationalists as evidence that Isaiah did not write this prediction. Of course,
if we reject the possibility of miracles and of divine inspiration, then we
are forced to the conclusion that Isaiah did not utter this prophecy. Hence we
would be forced to believe that this prediction was uttered by someone who was
living in the time of Cyrus, and who saw the possibilities of his advancing
career. On the other hand, if we accept the possibility of miracles and
inspiration, we can very easily accept the Isaianic origin of this prediction.
For one to deny on philosophical grounds the possibility of miracles and
inspiration is to assume omniscience on his own part, for only an omniscient
being could survey the fields of the past and the future and make such a
generalization as this one. The modernistic critic, therefore, being blinded
by a philosophical deduction, is illogical in denying to Isaiah the authorship
of this wonderful prediction.
The Lord foretells that Cyrus will perform two things with reference to the Hebrew people: "and shall perform all my pleasure, even saying of Jerusalem, She shall be built; and of the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid." This prediction says that Cyrus will speak concerning Jerusalem and declare, "She shall be built"; and concerning the temple, "Thy foundation shall be laid." To everyone who accepts the genuineness of this passage, it is clear that Isaiah foresaw the career of Cyrus and knew that he would issue a decree relative to the rebuilding of the city and of the temple. Confirmatory evidence that he would issue the decree concerning the rebuilding of the city is found in 45:13 :
"I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will make straight all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let my exiles go free, not for price nor reword, saith Jehovah of hosts."
The words, "he shall build my city," are clear and unmistakable to everyone who will accept this language at its face value. It is abundantly evident that Cyrus would issue a decree authorizing the building of the city of Jerusalem. Thus from Isaiah 44 and 45 it is evident that Cyrus would make the decree authorizing the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem and of the temple.
The predictions in these two chapters presuppose the destruction of the city and of the temple. From the history found in the books of Kings and Chronicles, together with the prophecies of Jeremiah, we gather the information relative to the fall of Jerusalem and its destruction at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.
Thus the implication of this prediction of Isaiah was fulfilled in the career of Nebuchadnezzar.
Did Cyrus the Persian do the two things foretold by Isaiah approximately 200 years prior to his career? We who accept the Bible as the Word of God must answer this question in the affirmative. What historical evidence have we that Cyrus issued the decree?
"1 Now in the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, that the word of Jehovah by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, Jehovah stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, 2 Thus saith Cyrus, king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath Jehovah, the God of heaven, given me; and he hath charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Whosoever there is among you of all his people, his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of Jehovah, the God of Israel (he is God), which is in Jerusalem. 4 And whosoever is left, in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, besides the freewill-offering for the house of God which is in Jerusalem" (Ezra 1:1-4).
Part of this decree constitutes verses 22 and 23 of II Chronicles 36, which see. An examination of these passages shows that Cyrus actually issued the command for the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. In fact, according to Ezra 1:4, the decree of Cyrus permitted the neighbors of the Jews who desired to return to the fatherland to assist them with gifts of silver and gold and other things as freewill-offerings to the God of the Hebrews. Concerning the matter of Cyrus and of his issuing the decree for the rebuilding of the temple, therefore, there is no question.
But there are those who tell us that he said nothing about the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem. In fact, we are informed that Cyrus issued no decree relative to the rebuilding of the city. Thus there is a clear issue between the prophet Isaiah, inspired by the Spirit of God, and those who say that Cyrus never gave the Jews permission to rebuild Jerusalem. The Word of God is such that I believe every word spoken by the inspired men of God either has been fulfilled in the past or will be in the future. Since this prediction referred to Cyrus, an historical personage of the latter half of the sixth century before the common era, then I know that this prophecy has been fulfilled literally and completely.
To this position one may reply by calling attention to the fact that nothing is said in the decree, as recorded by Ezra, concerning the rebuilding of the city. At first this objection seems to be plausible. Upon further consideration it becomes evident that it is based upon the fallacious argument of "silence," which form of reasoning is recognized by all logicians as being most dangerous.
From this position there is no possible escape. Further absolute and positive proof of this position is found in the letter to Artaxerxes which Bishlam, Mithredath, and Tabeel wrote, and which is found in Ezra 4:7, 11-16. Note especially verse 12:
"Be it known unto the king, that the Jews that came up from thee are come to us unto Jerusalem; they are building the rebellious and the bad city, and have finished the walls, and repaired the foundations."
From this statement as one sees, the opponents of the Jews in Palestine reported to the Persian king that those who came up from the captivity were building the city of Jerusalem, which they called "the rebellious and the bad city." Furthermore, they claimed that they had finished the walls and had repaired the foundations.
To this letter the king sent a reply in which he instructed Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe saying, "Make ye now a decree to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not builded, until a decree shall be made by me" (Ezra 4:21). When Ezra 4:7-22 is read in the light of Persian history, the conclusion is forced upon one that the Artaxerxes to whom this letter was written was none other than the usurper, Pseudo-Smerdis, who, with his brother, upon the death of Cambyses, seized the government. In view of these facts we can see the significance of the word "kings" in verse 22. Thus the work upon the temple and the city was brought to a standstill in the year of Pseudo-Smerdis, who held the authority for about 7 months in the year 522 of the Ptolemaic chronology.
According to Ezra 4:23, 24, the work of building the house of God ceased until the second year of Darius king of Persia, who is known in secular history as Hystaspes. In the second year of his reign, namely, 520 B.C.E., the prophets Haggai and Zechariah began their ministry and stimulated Zerubbabel and Joshua to undertake the work which had been laid down 15 years prior. Immediately opposition began in the form of a protest of Tattenai, the governor beyond the River, and Shethar-bozenai, and their
The enemy once more sent a letter of protest to the Persian court. In it they recounted what the Jews had told them relative to the history of the temple and the decree of Cyrus to rebuild the same. They closed their communication by asking the king to investigate the records and to see whether or not the report given by the Jews was correct.
Upon receipt of this official communication from his subordinates Darius issued an order that an investigation be made in the official archives of the reign of Cyrus in order that he might know the facts. Those who were assigned this task reported to the king that the Jews were right in making this claim; hence he issued a proclamation (Ezra 6:6-12) giving instructions that they should be permitted to continue their work and should be assisted by his officials.
Since the protest was against the building of the house and the wall, and since Darius after his investigation issued an order that the Jews be not hindered, it is evident that the decree of Cyrus included permission to rebuild Jerusalem. Therefore from this point of view it is absolutely certain that King Cyrus did what the inspired prophet Isaiah foretold that he would accomplish. In the light of these facts we are irresistibly driven to the conclusion that it was Cyrus who issued the decree for the restoration and rebuilding of Jerusalem as foretold by the angel Gabriel to Daniel the prophet (Daniel 9:25). The initial date, therefore, of the seventy weeks decreed upon the Jewish people and the holy city of Jerusalem was the year in which Cyrus issued his famous decree.
facts presented in the Scriptures show that Cyrus did issue this decree, there
are many excellent brethren who, overlooking 'some of the facts, assume that
Cyrus gave the order to rebuild the temple only. According to these scholars,
it was the year 536 B.C.E. They also take the position that it was Artaxerxes
Longimanus who, in the twentieth year of his reign and in the month Nisan,
issued the decree for the rebuilding of the city. Sir Robert Anderson and
those of the same school of thought claim that the! calendar year 445 B.C.E.
was the twentieth year of Artaxerxes when he issued this decree.
What was the origin of this latter theory? The answer must be sought by an investigation into the Ptolemaic chronology. The real status of this system of dating events is succinctly put by that prince of chronologers, Martin Anstey, in the following quotation:
"The Chronology of this period has never yet been accurately determined. The received Chronology, though universally accepted, is dependent on the list of the Kings, and the number of years assigned to them in Ptolemy's Canon. Ptolemy (A.D. 70-161) was a great constructive genius. He was the author of the Ptolemaic System of Astronomy. He was one of the founders of the Science of Geography. But in Chronology he was only a late compiler and contriver, not an original witness, and not a contemporary historian, for he lived in the 2nd Century after Christ. He is the only authority for the Chronology of this period. He is not corroborated. He is contradicted, both by the Persian National Traditions preserved in Firdusi, by the Jewish National Traditions preserved in the Sedar Olam, and by the writings of Josephus.
"It has always been held to be unsafe to differ from Ptolemy, and for this reason. His Canon, or List of Reigns, is the only thread by which the last year of Darius Hystaspes, B.c. 485, is connected with the first year of Alexander the Great, thus
Persian Kings as Given in Ptolemy's Canon
9 years from
"In Ptolemy's Table of the Persian Kings, all the Julian years from Xerxes to Alexander the Great inclusive, are connumerary. Therefore, each requires to be raised a unit higher to give the Julian years in which their reigns began. Ptolemy reckons by the vague Egyptian year of 365 days. The Julian year is exactly 36534 days. Had Ptolemy never written, profane Chronology must have remained to this day in a state of ambiguity and confusion, utterly unintelligible and useless, nor would it have been possible to have ascertained from the writings of the Greeks or from any other source, except from Scripture itself, the true connection between sacred Chronology and profane, in anyone single instance, before the dissolution of the Persian Empire in the 1st year of Alexander the Great. Ptolemy had no means of accurately determining the Chronology of this period, so he made the best use of the materials he had, and contrived to make a Chronology. He was a great astronomer, a great astrologer, a great geographer, and a great constructor of synthetic systems. But he did not possess sufficient data to enable him to fill the gaps, or to fix the dates of the Chronology of this period, so he had to resort to the calculation of eclipses. In this way then, not by historical evidence or testimony, but by the method of astronomical calculation, and the conjectural identification of recorded with calculated eclipses, the Chronology of this period of the world's history has been fixed by Ptolemy, since when, through Eusebius and Jerome, it has won its way to universal acceptance. It is contradicted (I) by the national traditions of Persia, (2) by the national traditions of the Jews, (3) by the testimony of Josephus, and (4) by the conflicting evidence of such well-authenticated events as the Conference of Solon with Croesus, and the flight of Themistocles to the court of Artaxerxes Longimanus, which make the accepted Chronology impossible. But the human mind cannot rest in a state of perpetual doubt. There was this one system elaborated by Ptolemy. There was no other except that given in the prophecies of Daniel. Hence, whilst the Ptolemaic astronomy was overthrown by Copernicus in the 16th century, the reign of the Ptolemaic Chronology remains to this day. There is one, and only one alternative. The prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 fixes the period between the going forth of the commandment to return and to build Jerusalem (in the first year of Cyrus) to the cutting off of the Messiah (in the year A.D. 30) as a period of 483 years. If this be the true Chronology of the period from the first year of Cyrus to the Crucifixion, it leaves only 123 years instead of the 205 given in Ptolemy's Canon, for the duration of the Persian Empire.
Persian Empire (Cyrus to Alexander the Great).. 123 years 205 years
(Alexander the Great to A.D. 1).. 331 "
A.D. 1 to the Crucifixion, A.D. 30.......... 29
"Other interpretations have been given of the date of 'the going forth of the commandment to return and to build Jerusalem' (Dan. 9:25).
"Bishop Lloyd, the author of the Bible dates in the margin of the Authorized Version, reckons the 483 years from the leave given to Nehemiah to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem in the 20th year of Artaxerxes. whom he identifies with Artaxerxes Longimanus (N eh. 2:1), and to make the fulfillment fit the prophecy on the erroneous Ptolemaic reckoning of the Chronology he has to curtail the interval by reckoning in years of 360 days each.
"Dr. Prideaux reckons the 483 years from the date of Ezra's return in the 7th year of Artaxerxes (Longimanus), Ezra 7:1-28.
"Scaliger reckoned the 70 weeks of Daniel as commencing in the 4th year of Darius Nothus, B.C. 420, and ending at the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70.
"Others have reckoned the 483 years from the going forth of the commandment in the 2nd year of Darius Hystaspes (B.C. 519) to build the Temple (Ezra 4:24,5:1-6:15).
"But the true point of departure for the 70 weeks, and therefore, for the 483 years also, is unquestionably the 1st year of Cyrus (Dan. 9, 2 Chron. 36:20-23, Ezra 1:1-4, Isa. 44:28; 45:1-4, 13), and no other epoch would ever have been suggested but for the fact that the count of the years was lost, and wrongly restored from Ptolemy's conjectural astronomical calculations.
"It would be far better to abandon the Ptolemaic Chronology and fit the events into the 483 years of the Hebrew prophecy.
great fundamental truth to be remembered is the fact that modern Chronology
rests upon the calculations of Ptolemy as published in his Canon or List of
Reigns. And since the foundation of Greek Conjectural Computation Chronology,
upon which Ptolemy's Canon rests, is unstable, the superstructure is likewise
insecure. Ptolemy may be called as a witness. He cannot be allowed to
arbitrate as a judge. He cannot take the place of a Court of Final Appeal. He
cannot be erected into a standard by which to correct the Chronology of the
text of the Old Testament."
data assembled and presented in this lengthy quotation it is quite evident
that the chronology for the Persian period from which Ptolemy made his
computation was in utter confusion. The conclusions which he drew, therefore,
are just as uncertain as the sources from which he gathered his information.
Anstey, therefore, is correct in saying that "Ptolemy may be called as a
witness. He cannot be allowed to arbitrate as a judge. He cannot take the
place of a court of final appeal. He cannot be erected into a standard to
correct a chronology of the text of the Old Testament." The chronological
scheme of Sanchoniathon "is a confused, unintelligible jargon, culled from (1)
the mythologies of Egypt
and Greece, and (2) a corrupt tradition of the narrative in Genesis. It may
well have been forged by Porphyry, or by Philo Pyblius, in order to prosper
the sinking cause of Paganism and to retard the rapid spread of Christianity
in the second and third centuries of the Christian era."
We have seen that according to Ptolemy's canon there were ten kings of the Persian period. Josephus gives six:
2. Cambyses = Artaxerxes of Ezra 4: 7-23.
3. Darius Hystaspes. 2nd year, Temple foundation laid.
9th year, Temple finished.
4. Xerxes = Artaxerxes of Ezra 7: 1-8: 36.
25th year, Nehemiah came to Jerusalem.
28th year, Wall of Jerusalem finished.
5. Cyrus (son of Xerxes), called by the Greeks Artaxerxes, and identified with the Ahasuerus of Esther.
the last King, a contemporary of Jaddua and Alexander the Great.
Cyrus. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..........................3 years
Cambyses (whom they identify with the Ahasuerus who married Esther) ................ 16 years
Darius (whom they will have to be the son of Esther) 32 years
"This last Darius, they say, was the Artaxerxes who sent Ezra and Nehemiah to Jerusalem to restore the state of the Jews, for they tell us that Artaxerxes among the Persians was the common name for their Kings, as that of Pharaoh was among the Egyptians."
As has already been seen, Ptolemy considered the Persian period 205 years long, whereas these two Jewish chronological works credit Persia with only 52 years. According to the evidence, which is the most authentic obtainable, the conquest of Alexander and the beginning of his world empire was 331 B.C.E. If we accept Ptolemy's reckoning, then the restoration of the Jews from Babylon by the decree of Cyrus was in the year 536 B.C.E. On the other hand, if we accept the shorter chronology presented in these Jewish works, this restoration was in 383 B.C.E. Thus these two sources conflict. They also contradict the statement of the angel Gabriel to Daniel; they give the Persian and Greek periods as covering 536 and 383 years. The angel Gabriel to Daniel stated that there would be 483 years from the issuing of the decree which, as we have seen, was written in the first year of Cyrus, and which year, according to the Ptolemaic reckoning, was 536 B.C.E.
The common era which, from the present point of view, dates from the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, who, as Christians believe, was both the Son of God in human form and the Jewish Messiah. In the computation of chronology by modern calculators there was a discrepancy of something like 4 or 5 years in the reckoning of His birth. According to the data obtainable He was executed in the year 30 C.E. The terminal date of the 69 weeks of years, or 483 years, is that of the cutting off of Messiah (Dan. 9:26). This prediction is interpreted as a reference to His execution.
Since Jesus of Nazareth is reckoned as the Messiah, to be cut off at the end of the sixty-ninth week, or the 483rd year, if we accept the longer chronology, we must add the 30 years of the present era to the 536 of the Ptolemaic chronology.
commentators trying to fit the 483-year period mentioned by the angel Gabriel
into the chronology passed on to us by Ptolemy and his successors have thought
of the year 445 B.C.E. as the initial date of this period.*
* For a full
discussion of the method of reckoning adopted by these chronologers, see
Chapter XXI. Since, however, the evidence is overwhelming in identifying Cyrus
as the one who would issue the decree and who also did it, we accept
unreservedly the position that the initial date of the seventy weeks was the
year when Cyrus issued his decree for the rebuilding of the temple and
According to the Biblical, chronological data, the year in which Cyrus issued this decree was 3589 A.B. The anno homonis system of dating time begins the reckoning of time with the creation of Adam and traces the chronology throughout the Tenach and finds that in the year 3589 Cyrus issued his decree as was foretold by the angel Gabriel.
The 69 weeks are divided into two sections: seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks:
therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore
and to build Jerusalem
unto the anointed one, the prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and
two weeks: it shall be built again, with street and moat, even in troublous
times" (Dan. 9:25)
During the first seven weeks or 49 years, according to this prediction, the city of Jerusalem was to be built with moat and street in troublous times. A glance at the book of Ezra shows that the Jews after they returned from Babylon were harassed constantly by Gentile enemies in the land. Thus the prediction was literally fulfilled. N ext the angel comprehended the remaining part of this period in the expression, "threescore and two weeks."
Let us note the fact that the terminal date of the sixty-ninth week is "the anointed one, the prince." Who is this prince, the anointed one? Of whom would Daniel naturally think? Certainly his mind would not revert to the prince who, in Daniel 7, is called" a little horn." Neither would he think of the little horn mentioned in chapter 8. The one mentioned by Gabriel is "the anointed one, the prince." Could Daniel have known of any anointed one, who was called "Messiah, the Prince?"
It is true
that prophets, priests, and kings were at different times called "anointed"
judge the ends of the earth;
The expression, "the anointed, the prince," undoubtedly is a reference to King Messiah, of whose nature and person we have learned the principal facts in my book, Messiah: H is Nature and Person. In that discussion I showed from the Hebrew text of the Tenach that Messiah, according to the prophetic utterances, enters the world by miraculous conception and virgin birth. In the third Book of this Messianic Series, Messiah: His Redemptive Career, I showed from the inspired predictions that Messiah was scheduled to come to the world, being born of a Virgin, to be rejected and executed, to be buried, to rise from the dead, to ascend to heaven at the invitation of God, and to sit at the Lord's right hand until He (Jehovah) puts His enemies under His feet, at which time He will return to earth and be enthusiastically welcomed by the Hebrew nation. At that time He will reestablish the throne of David and inaugurate a world-wide reign of righteousness and
The impression which the passage makes upon the mind of one who has not espoused a theory relative to this oracle is that at the conclusion of the 69 weeks Messiah is cut off or executed; therefore, the terminal date of the 69 weeks, or 483 years, is the year of the Messiah's execution.
Will a critical study of this passage confirm the general impression received from reading the English translation of acharay? The fundamental meaning of this word is to be found in the verb from which it is derived, and which means "to remain behind, delay, tarry." The form used by Gabriel is the plural construct of the noun achar, rendered literally "the hinder or following part." For the fundamental idea see II Samuel 2:23. Here it is rendered "the hinder end" of Abner's spear with which he smote Asahel. Since the form appearing here is the plural construct, it means literally "the hinder part of." In this connection it is evident that this substantive has a prepositional force and is properly rendered "after." From the inherent meaning of the word, whenever this usage appears, we must conclude that the idea of occurring immediately after a given event is intended. If, however, the facts of the context indicate that some time elapses or an event occurs before something is done, then we may understand that this word has been modified in the given instance. What do the facts of this context indicate? As noted above, verse 25 is speaking of a definite period of time, 69 weeks, which signifies 483 years. The angel is very specific in referring to the initial date of this period, designating it as "the going forth of the commandment. . ."
discussion on pp. 539-542.
The word rendered "cut off" karath, means, "cut down." In Exodus 4:25 it refers to circumcision; in Numbers 13:23, 24, to the cutting of clusters of grapes; in Judges 9:40, 49, to the cutting of boughs of trees; in I Samuel 17:51; 31:9; II Samuel 20:22, to the cutting off of the head of a man; in Jeremiah 11:19; 50: 16, it also refers to the cutting off of men from the land of the living. By Gabriel it is applied to Messiah and evidently its significance is that of His execution. In the famous servant passage, Isaiah 52:13-53:12, the execution of King Messiah is expressed by a different word, gazar. A comparison of the message given by Gabriel and that spoken by Isaiah shows that the same execution was before the mind of both speakers. Gabriel and Daniel assumed on the part of the reader the knowledge concerning this execution; hence only a brief statement was necessary to convey the thought.
VI. THE STOPPING OF GOD'S CLOCK
In chapter VII we saw that by actual computation the fourth year of Solomon's reign was the 594th after Israel fled from Egypt. But in I Kings 6:1 we learned that this fourth year of Solomon was the 48Oth after her departure from Egypt. Thus there is an excess of 114 years by the computation of the data found especially in the book of Judges. Both statements, however, are correct. The 480 years were theocratic, whereas the 114 constituted the periods during which Israel was out of fellowship with God. Hence these were not theocratic years. Speaking in the figure adopted in chapter VII, we may correctly say that God's clock stopped when the fellowship between Him and His Chosen People was broken. When, however, Israel came back into fellowship with Him by genuine repentance and confession, the broken disrupted relations were restored, and God's clock began to strike off the time again.
I might use a simple illustration to enforce this truth. All large firms have regular clocks that are controlled electrically and that strike off the hours both day and night for 365 days every year. Many of them also have a time clock for measuring, for instance, telephone conversations.
Just as soon as the connection is made by the operator, the subscriber starts it and can tell to the very second how long the conversation lasts. When he finishes he stops it. Hence this smaller desk clock simply measures off a special time for a definite purpose, whereas the regular one measures every hour. The years come and go regardless of whether or not Israel is in fellowship with God, and His great universal clock strikes off the hours. But, since He called her into a special relationship with Himself, He, figuratively speaking, has a time clock to measure the years when she is in fellowship with Him.
We may be certain that His special time clock stopped again at the end of the 69th week or the 483rd year of the 490-year period. My reason for making this statement is that the 49Oth year is to be followed by the establishment of the kingdom of God upon earth, when the will of God will be done on earth as it is done in heaven. As we have already seen, this is the correct interpretation of the angel's statement to Daniel in chapter 9:24. Since we know that these marvelous results and kingdom blessings did not follow seven years after the cutting off of King Messiah, we may be absolutely certain, therefore, that this seventieth week, or the last 7 of the 490 years, did not follow immediately His execution. About this position there can be no question, if we are willing to take the Word of God at its face value. We have already seen in chapter VI that, when Israel rejected her Messiah, God gave her up "until the time that she who travaileth hath brought forth" (Micah 5:3). This prediction is nothing short of God's stating that His clock, which measures the theocratic years, would stop when Israel rejected her Messiah. It will never be started again until the beginning of Israel's period of travail. We know from certain Scriptures that a godly remnant of Israel will come forth to a new birth at the beginning of the period that is called "the time of Jacob's trouble." Furthermore, we know that the entire nation which survives this period of distress will be brought forth "as a nation born in a day." For approximately 1900 years God's special clock has been stopped and awaits the time to begin to strike off the seventieth week of years.
"And after the threescore and two weeks shall the anointed one be cut off, and shall have nothing: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and even unto the end shall be war; desolations are determined" (Dan. 9: 26).
The latter part of this verse foretells very graphically the terrible suffering that the Jewish people would undergo during the siege and destruction of the city and its Second Temple. From this conclusion there can be no escape.
We see then from verse 26 that Daniel looked out into the future and, after describing the execution of the King Messiah at the end of the 483rd year, leaped over a period of 40 years to 70 C.E., and foretold the destruction of the Holy City and the burning of the Second Temple. When Titus captured Jerusalem, the government of Judah collapsed, and Israel was scattered among the nations.
The prediction concerning the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. is followed by this significant statement, "and even unto the end shall be war; desolations are determined." Having foretold the calamity in 70 C.E., the prophet saw Israel scattered to the four winds and suffering injustices and persecutions. Thus he said that there were decreed, by the divine wisdom, wars and desolations upon his (Daniel's) people and the Holy City, throughout the period of time after her dispersion in 70 C.E. unto the end; that is, unto the end of the seventieth week, which is yet in the future. Thus Israel's age-long suffering is set forth in these last clauses of verse 26.
"And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease; and upon the wing of abominations shall come one that maketh desolate; and even unto the full end, and that determined, shall wrath be poured out upon the desolate" (Dan. 9:27).
When Israel, like Daniel who first began to humble his heart to seek his God (10:12), begins to turn to the Lord, He will start working in her behalf. This will occur at the beginning of the seventieth week. These last seven years are mentioned in the passage quoted above.
At the beginning of this last week many in Israel will enter into covenant relationship with the world dictator, the coming prince. This treaty will be signed for seven years. During the first part of the time the covenant will be held inviolate. When, however, it has run for 3 1/2 years-to the middle of the week-the world emperor will consider it as only a scrap of paper. He will renounce all treaty obligations and launch the greatest campaign of anti-Semitism that this world has ever seen.
This verse under consideration presupposes that Israel will have rebuilt her Temple and reestablished the Mosaic ceremonial system. They will have observed their worship of the true God during the first half of these seven years without interruption; but in the middle of the period the world dictator, having renounced his treaty obligations to the Jews, will proceed to Jerusalem, will set up an image of himself in that sacred edifice, and demand that all men worship him. This is indicated by the clause, "and upon the wing of abominations shall come one that maketh desolate." The word, abomination, in addition to the general meaning of that which is very offensive, was used to signify an idol. In fact, it was the principal technical term to refer to a false god. This clause, then, read in the light of its technical use, means that this world dictator will come forth with the highest expression of idolatry and image worship and will cause the ritualism of the Jews to cease.
false Messiah, being energized by the power and wisdom of Satan, breaks his
covenant and enforces upon the Hebrew people a false religion which involves
idolatry, then will be the time of Israel's darkest hour. For the last 3 1/2
years of this seventieth week she will suffer as she has never before in all
her history. At the same time the Lord will put His hand of blessing upon
everything which comes into the life of the nation and will make it contribute
to the ultimate blessing, salvation, and deliverance of the
Throughout this chapter we have been studying the marvelous revelation made by Gabriel concerning the course of history from the first year of Cyrus (3589 A.H.) to the beginning of the Great Kingdom Age. This outline is the course of Jewish history, for "seventy weeks are decreed upon thy (Daniel's) people and upon thy holy city (Jerusalem)." Since all peoples are neighbors in this little world of modern times, the course of events of other nations runs parallel with that of the Hebrew race, but they are not in view in this passage. Any interpretation, therefore, which does not recognize the patent fact that Israel as a nation alone is in view in this passage, is positively incorrect. This thought cannot be overemphasized. If it is overlooked, a false interpretation is immediately placed upon it.
Since the Scripture cannot be broken, we know that 483 years after Cyrus issued the decree for the Jews to return to their native land Messiah the Prince was cut off. It could not be otherwise, since the divine revelation foretold that such would be the case. Who was cut off at that time? Only one answer can be given: Jesus of Nazareth, who filled out in every particular the numerous predictions concerning the role that Messiah was to play at His first coming. From this position there can be no escape for those who are willing to allow the Word of God to speak its message to their hearts. The full testimony proving that Jesus of Nazareth did fulfill every prediction pertaining to the first coming of Israel's King will be given in the fifth book of this series, Messiah: His Historical Appearance.
Since Messiah had to be born before He could be cut off, obviously His advent into the world occurred prior to that time. But the year of His birth was not revealed by the prophets of old. They gave every other detail of His life and actions, but withheld this one particular-for good and sufficient reasons known to the Almighty.
From this point the angel, in one phrase, "and even unto the end (of the 490-year period) shall be war; desolations are determined," surveyed the entire era of Israel's world-wide dispersion of suffering and sorrow, which culminates in the greatest national calamity of the ages-but the true-hearted ones of Israel shall be saved out of it. Such a tragic end is foretold in many passages, but one will suffice here.
"For 1 am with thee, saith Jehovah, to save thee: for 1 will make a full end of all the nations whither 1 have scattered thee, but 1 will not make a full end of thee; but 1 will correct thee in measure, and will in no wise leave thee unpunished" (Jer. 30:11).
time "a Redeemer will come to Zion and unto them that turn from transgression
in Jacob, saith Jehovah" (Isa. 59:20). When these turn and "look unto me
(Jehovah the speaker) whom they (the house of David and the inhabitants of
have pierced" (Zech. 12:10),
"in that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the
for sin and for uncleanness" (Zech. 13:1). This fountain was opened 1900 years
ago, but Israel as a nation did not see it. But she will at the time here
foretold. Then she will rush forword and drink of the water of life freely.
Then will be ushered in the kingdom era foretold by Gabriel in Dan 9:24.
©Ron Wallace, http://www.biblefragrances.com.
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