Daniel 9: The 70 Weeks Prophecy
Dating the Birth, Ministry and Death of Jesus Christ
The Seventy Weeks Prophecy accurately predicted the first coming of Jesus Christ; hundreds of years before it happened! This prophecy also contains vital information concerning the Latter Days and the Return of Christ, which will be covered in Part 2.
Explanations written years ago cannot be correct: because this prophecy has been SEALED until the end time:
Daniel 12:4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: and
Daniel 12:9 And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.
A FRESH LOOK AT AN ANCIENT PROPHECY!
Introduction: The 70 years of desolation prophesied against Jerusalem by Jeremiah and over which Daniel fasted, set the date for a small return to Judea to build the Temple; but did not fulfill the beginning of The Seventy Weeks Prophecy with a commandment to build the city.
After Babylon was defeated in c 539 B.C., the Chaldean Empire was replaced by the Medo Persian Empire:
The context of Daniel’s fast was that the building of the temple had begun in 536 BC with the decree of Cyrus, and was later stopped. Daniel fasted and prayed that this stopping of the temple building would be ended so that the city could also be built and the prophecy of Jeremiah would be fulfilled.
Daniel 9:1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans;
9:2 In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
The Fasting Prayer of Repentance by Daniel
There is a reason why this prayer of repentance is recorded for us: This is an example of the kind of sincere repentance prayer that God accepts from his people. Please spend some time in carefully thinking about what a proper repentant attitude is, in the eyes of God.
We desperately need to pray that the spiritual Temple and the spiritual Jerusalem of the Ekklesia, as the Temple and city of the KING of kings: be restored to a proper relationship with Christ and God the Father.
9:3 And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:
9:4 And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;
9:5 We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:
9:6 Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
9:7 O LORD, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee.
9:8 O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee.
9:9 To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him; 9:10 Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.
9:11 Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.
9:12 And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem.
9:13 As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.
9:14 Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.
9:15 And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly.
9:16 O LORD, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.
9:17 Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake.
9:18 O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.
9:19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name. Gabriel is sent to Daniel with the prophetic words of encouragement.
9:20 And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God; 9:21 Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.
9:22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.
All understanding of spiritual things comes from God. Gabriel was sent the moment that Daniel began his prayer of repentance and supplication for himself, for the temple, for Judah/Israel and for Jerusalem.
9:23 At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.
The Seventy Weeks Prophecy
Daniel 9:25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem [the city, NOT the Temple] unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks (49 days, which is 49 years at a day for a year Ezek 4), and three score and two weeks (434 years): the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
There is ample proof that this command to BUILD THE CITY was issued in the seventh year of the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus, in 457 BC.
The dating of this decree marks the starting point of the entire prophecy and is of vital importance in understanding the prophecy about the date of the death of Christ.
Dating the decree
The Decree of Cyrus which was prophesied
Cyrus issued the decree to build the Temple to the Jews s a part of his accommodating all religions in his empire to gain the devotion of the people.
539-538 BC—Babylon was conquered by Cyrus’ general Darius who defeated Belshazzar at Babylon and overthrew Nabonidus the king of Babylon.
In 539 BC there was a revolt in Southern Babylonia, and while the army of Cyrus entered the country from the north; the Babylonian king Nabonidus, went south with his army to put down the rebellion in the south; leaving his son Belshazzar [Nebuchadnezzar’s descendant (grandson) ] in charge of the kingdom. Hence Belshazzar could make Daniel only the “third” in his father’s kingdom.
In June the Babylonian army was completely defeated at Opis, and immediately afterwards the city of Sippara opened its gates to the conqueror.
Gobryas [Darius]; the governor of Media [king of the Medes], was then sent to Babylon, which was taken after a short siege in a single night with almost no fight, after Belshazzar was deflated and filled with fear by the writing on the wall of Daniel 5, while the daily services in the Babylonian temples continued without a break.
In October 538, Cyrus himself arrived, and proclaimed a general amnesty, which was communicated by Gobryas [Darius] to “all the province of Babylon,” of which he [Darius] had been made ruler under Cyrus.
Meanwhile, when Nabonidus’ [who had also died], wife died, Cambyses II, the son and successor of Cyrus, conducted the funeral.
With the death of the Chaldean ruling family of Babylon, Cyrus assumed the title of “king of Babylon” in 536, claiming to be the descendant of the ancient kings, and made rich offerings to all the temples and religions, to maintain the peace of the population by gaining the support of the religions leaders; in a continuation of the “church state” system of Babylon.
In celebration, he decreed in 536 that the foreign populations who had been deported to Babylon could return to their old homes, carrying with them the images of their gods; and restore their national religions.
Among these populations were certain Jews, who, as they had no images, took with them the sacred vessels of the temple and some 50,000 went back to Judea to rebuild the Temple.
The Four Different Decrees
1. The decree of Cyrus recorded in Ezra 1:1-4
In Jeremiah 29:10, God had promised, “After seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.”
Ezra 1:1 “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom….”
The royal decree went forth in the year 536 B.C., at which time nearly 50,000 Jews returned to their homeland.
Two centuries earlier, God had appointed Cyrus for this task: Isaiah 44:28 “That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.”
Recognizing in Isaiah’s prophecy a personal directive, Cyrus began his decree with these words, Ezra 1:2 “The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.”
Cyrus continued, “Who is there 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 the Lord God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.” Ezra 1:3.
This first decree authorized the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. Ezra chapter 3 tells us that those who returned to Judea gathered in Jerusalem to observe the feast of tabernacles in the seventh month, and the following spring, “in the second month,” they “set forward the work of the house of the Lord” (verses 1, 4, 8).
After the foundation of the temple had been laid, “the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin,” “the people of the land,” being prohibited from participating in the project, “weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, and hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.” Ezra 4:1-5.
“Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.” Ezra 4:24.
When, under the inspiration of Haggai and Zechariah, the work on the temple was finally resumed, the governor of the region, with a group of other officials, came and asked the workers, “Who hath commanded you to build this house?” Ezra 5:3.
They replied, “In the first year of Cyrus the king of Babylon the same king Cyrus made a decree to build this house of God.” Ezra 5:13.
So the governor and his officials wrote a letter to King Darius I, saying, “If it seem good to the king, let there be search made in the king’s treasure house, which is there at Babylon, whether it be so, that a decree was made of Cyrus the king to build this house of God at Jerusalem, and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter.” Ezra 5:17.
2. The decree of Darius I recorded in Ezra 6:1-12
Because of the letter Darius received from the governor of the area west of the Euphrates, a search was made, and Cyrus’ original decree was found. Darius then issued his own decree reinforcing the decree of Cyrus, saying, “Let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in his place.” Darius instructed his governor to supply the Jews with money or whatever else they needed, that “the building of this house of God . . . be not hindered.” Ezra 6:7, 8.
Based on Ezra 4:24, this decree was probably issued in 520 B.C., the second year of the solo reign of Darius. With the hinderances now removed, the temple was completed in the sixth solo year of Darius (516 B.C.) on the third day of the twelfth month, and in the following month they kept the passover. Ezra 6:15, 19.
3. The decree of Artaxerxes I (Longimanus) recorded Ezra 7:12-26
King Artaxerxes Longimanus , during the seventh year of his reign (457 B.C.), authorized Ezra the priest and scribe, and all who wished to join him, to go to Jerusalem. It was Ezra’s desire to instruct the Jews in the laws of God. Artaxerxes granted him large amounts of silver and gold to furnish the temple, and gave instruction that his treasurers on that side of the river should provide whatever was needed to beautify the Lord’s house, revive the religion and build the city.
In the decree, Artaxerxes Longimanus commanded Ezra to “set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not. And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment.” Ezra 7:25, 26.
4. The second decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus mentioned in Nehemiah chapters 1 and 2
The story of Nehemiah begins in the 20th year of Artaxerxes Longimanus’ reign. Nehemiah, a Jew, was the king’s cupbearer. One day some of his brethren from Judah arrived in Shushan where king’s palace was. Nehemiah inquired of them about the condition of things in Jerusalem.
“The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach,” they replied. “The wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.”
Nehemiah sat down and wept. For several days he mourned and fasted and prayed. His prayer is remarkably similar to that of Daniel in Daniel 9. He prayed that somehow God would “grant him mercy in the sight of” the king.
Four months later, Nehemiah was serving wine to the king, and Artaxerxes noticed a sadness on Nehemiah’s countenance. “Why is thy countenance sad?” the king asked.
Nehemiah explained that Jerusalem was still in ruins, the wall and the gates were still not repaired. When the king asked what he would like to do, Nehemiah answered, “If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it.” [Build the City Jerusalem]
Artaxerxes Longimanus consented, and sent with him letters for the governors of the region, authorizing the rebuilding project. This commission confirming the original decree and authorizing the work to be renewed was issued in the spring of 444 B.C., in Artaxerxes’ 20th year of reign.
Evaluating the four decrees
Daniel 9:25 “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem [the city, not the temple] unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.”
This is an important verse to understand. It is the only prophecy in the Bible which tells us precisely when the Messiah would arrive. It is extremely vital therefore to know exactly when that time period began.
The event to mark the beginning of the seventy weeks is stated to be “the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem.” But to which “commandment” does it refer? We have just seen that there were four different decrees, all of which seem quite similar. If we use the wrong starting point, the whole prophecy will be off.
As always, it is essential to pay close attention to the words of the text. We are looking for a command to “restore and to build Jerusalem.” The decree of Cyrus, recorded in Ezra 1, gave instruction only for the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. It said nothing about restoring the whole city.
The decree of Darius, recorded in Ezra 6, was simply his endorsement of the decree of Cyrus. It mentioned only the building of the “house of God.”
But in the decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus, recorded in Ezra 7, provision is made for the complete restoration of the Jewish state, including the right to appoint magistrates and judges, hold trials, and pass and execute sentence upon violators of their own national laws.
This was clearly understood to be an authorization for the full reestablishment of Jerusalem and the Jewish nation; for shortly after this the enemies of the Jews wrote to the king complaining that “the Jews which came up from thee to us are come unto Jerusalem, building the rebellious and the bad city, and have set up the walls thereof, and joined the foundations” Ezra 4:12. That the walls had been completely set up was obviously an exaggeration, as verse 13 reveals. Yet this incident shows that for the first time there was actual work being done to rebuild the city. This had not been the case under the previous decrees.
The fourth decree (Nehemiah 2), the wording of which has not been preserved, was simply a reinstatement of Artaxerxes’ original authorization, this time naming Nehemiah to take charge of the project.
Considering all the options, the decree which most correctly answers to the specifications of Daniel 9:25 was the decree of Artaxerxes to Ezra, recorded in Ezra chapter 7.
We should therefore date the beginning of the 70 week prophecy of Daniel 9 from that command of Artaxerxes made in 457 BC.
Determining the date of the decree
The decree to restore and build Jerusalem was issued in the seventh year of Artaxerxes’ reign (Ezra 7:7, 8).
Ezra left Babylon on the first day of the first month [about April] in 457 B.C. arriving on the first day of the fifth month [approximately August] after which the command of Artaxerxes was then officially read out, to all the people, Ezra 7.
Therefore, the prophecy of Daniel 9 began, with the command to build the city, in fall 457 B.C.
The Seventy Weeks Prophecy
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to FINISH TRANSGRESSION, and to make an END OF SINS, and to make RECONCILIATION FOR INIQUITY, and to BRING IN EVERLASTING RIGHTEOUSNESS, and to SEAL UP THE VISION AND PROPHESY, and to ANOINT THE MOST HOLY.
Notice that it is at THE END of the full Seventy Weeks that reconciliation for iniquity, the anointing of the Most Holy and an end to sin, bringing in everlasting righteousness will occur.
When Jesus Christ was on the earth, these things happened only in part. Reconciliation was offered to only a very few. Transgressions have not yet been finished, nor has sin been ended. It is when He shall return that He shall be Anointed King over all the earth and put an end to all wickedness.
The city of Jerusalem was built over seven weeks (49 years) Dan 9:25.
And sixty-two weeks (434 years) after the city was built, Messiah was to appear (Dan 9:25).
And AFTER [the] three score and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself (Dan 9:26).
We know that the entire ministry of Jesus Christ; from the time that He began [in the autumn] until His crucifixion at Passover was 3 1/2 years.
We see that: beginning with the decree to build the city, until the Messiah appears Verse 25 there shall be 7+62=69 weeks, or 483 days and at a day for a year, this is 483 years.
Let us then do the math and we will see when Messiah would appear. -457 BC + 483 years = 26 AD. Now add one for the lack of a zero between AD and BC and:
We come to the appearance of Messiah in 27 AD! Which is absolutely consistent with Luke 3!
Christ was then to be “Cut Off” After the 483 years but it does not say how long after. That information can be learned by determining the years of the ministry of Christ.
From here we can determine the date of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ the Messiah. Knowing that he was baptized in the early spring before Passover [beginning his ministry in the autumn]; and that from his ministry beginning in the autumn there were four Passovers, with His death coming on the last [fourth] Passover; we see that he died on Passover in 31 A.D.
In 31 A.D.: Passover, according to the Biblical Mosaic Calendar in use in Judea at that time; which relied upon the first light of the new moon to start the month; was Wednesday April 25th! The modern Rabbinic Calendar not being in use until centuries later in 1178 A.D.
This is confirmed in the scriptures [Luke 3] which say that Christ’s ministry began in the 15th year that Tiberius FIRST ascended the throne 12 AD + 15 = 27 AD!
See New Moon dates: Passover Date
THE BIRTH YEAR OF JESUS CHRIST
The birth of Christ is generally dated through certain comments of Josephus about the death of Herod the Great. Josephus writes that after an eclipse Herod slaughtered certain Jews, then he went to the Dead Sea for a cure of his ailments and then observed Passover in Jerusalem before dying.
A theory is that the lunar eclipse of September 15 of 5 B.C. was the lunar eclipse preceding the death of Herod. That eclipse occurred 7 lunar months before the Passover of 4 B.C.
Thus the eclipse either occurred in the month of Elul or in the month of Tishri, but with the addition of the month of Adar II before the Nisan of 4 B.C. But Josephus clearly describes Herod’s eclipse as occurring after the removal from office of the high priest—the same high priest whom Josephus describes as still being in office on the fast day of Tishri 10. Neither could Herod’s eclipse have occurred in Tishri, for at that time there would have been huge crowds gathered for the Feast of Tabernacles. These crowds would not have permitted such an offense [as the slaughter of many leading Jews], nor would Herod have dared to outrage them and risk a riot or rebellion. Therefore, 4 B.C. cannot be the year of Herod’s death”.
1. The only date for Herod’s death, fulfilling all the criteria presented by Josephus would have been 1 B.C.
2. There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that the Family spent two years in Egypt. It is only said that children of two years and younger were killed. Herod was a thorough man and would have certainly doubled the age [to make sure] as indicated by the men of the East. Even then the killing could have taken some time and after that more time would have to pass before Herod died. The amount of time spent in Egypt is unknown, but may have been more or less than two precise years.
3. The ministry of Messiah began when he was about 30 years old. We are told that this ministry began in the 15th year of Tiberius, Luke 3. Tiberius became co-ruler with Augustus in 12 AD and sole ruler after the death of Augustus in 14 A.D.
Fifteen years after the co ruler-ship from 12 A.D., would be 27 A.D. for the beginning of the ministry of Christ when he was coming to the age of 30 years, with his birth being in 4 B.C. [adding a year to compensate for no year zero]. This would put the birth of Christ in autumn 4 B.C.; which would fit with the death of Herod after Passover in 1 B.C. From fall 4 BC to spring 1 B.C. being about 2 1/2 years. Time enough for the birth, the period of uncleanness and the traveling to and stay in Egypt. This date would put the Sacrifice of Christ at Passover on Wednesday in 31 A.D.
4. If the count is from the death of Augustus and the sole ruler-ship of Tiberius in 14 AD, then Christ would have become about 30 in 29 A.D.: 14 A.D. + 15 = 29 A.D.; and that would have required the birth of Christ in the year 1 B.C., which would be out of sync with the death of Herod in 1 BC. It would also be contrary to the 70 Weeks Prophecy which puts the appearance of Christ in 27 A.D. This error taught by many would wrongly put the Sacrifice of Christ on a Friday Passover in 33 A.D.
CONCLUSION: The birth of Christ was in 4 B.C.; His ministry began in the 15th year that Tiberius FIRST ascended the throne 12 A.D. + 15 = 27 A.D.; and Christ died on Passover 31 A.D..
THE BEGINNING OF THE MINISTRY OF CHRIST AND THE PASSOVER OF HIS DEATH
Dan 9:25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks (49 days, which is 49 years at a day for a year Ezek 4), and three score and two weeks (434 years): the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. There is ample proof that this command was made in the seventh year of the reign of Artaxerxes 1, in 457 BC.
The city Jerusalem was built in seven weeks [49 years[ (Dan 9:25). And AFTER another 62 [434 years] weeks Messiah was to come and then later to be cut off.
After three score and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself (Dan 9:26).
How long AFTER the 62 weeks when he shall be cut off? It does not say, but we know that the entire ministry of Jesus Christ; from the time that He began until His crucifixion was 3 1/2 years.
We can see that beginning with the decree [457 B.C.] to build the city, until the Messiah appears Verse 25; there shall be 7+62=69 weeks, or 483 days and at a day for a year, this is 483 years.
Let us then do the math and see when Messiah would appear. –457 B.C. + 483 years = 26 A.D. Now add one for the lack of a zero between A.D. and B.C. and we come to the appearance of Messiah in 27 A.D.
From here we can determine the date of the birth of Christ by subtracting 30 [Christ being years old in 27 AD] from 27 A.D. adjusting for no year zero and we get 4 B.C.
We can also determine the date of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ the Messiah.
Knowing that he was baptized in the early spring of 27 A.D., and that His ministry began in the autumn of 27 A.D. and covered four Passovers, with His death on the last [fourth] Passover; we can conclude that he died on Passover Wednesday in 31 A.D.
The crucifixion was NOT ON FRIDAY!