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For more than 100 years after the exile of the ten tribes of Israel by the Assyrians, Judah remained having some good kings and many very bad kings and God sent his prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah to warn Judah that they would go into captivity to Babylon and king Nebuchadnezzar.
It is from the following two verses and from Jeremiah 29:10, that Daniel understood about the seventy years in Babylon and fasted in Daniel 9 and the seventy weeks prophecy was given to him.
25:11 And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 25:12 And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.
Jeremiah 27:7 And all nations shall serve him [Nebuchadnezzar], and his son [Nabonidus], and his son’s son [Belshazzar], until the very time of his land come: and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him.
God also gave them a prophecy by Jeremiah that he would restore the temple and would begin to restore the repentant of Judah after 70 years. The army of Nebuchadnezzar came and deported certain Jews in c 597 B.C and later defeated the city of Jerusalem during the reign of Zedekiah in 587 B.C. They then looted the city and temple finally destroying and burning both on the ninth of Av in 586 B.C.
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” and Isaiah records that God had appointed Cyrus for this task.
During the reign of Nebuchadnezzar God declared through Daniel that the Babylonian Empire would be replaced by the Medes and Persians who would take over from Babylon and maintain the same system.
Daniel 2:37 Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
2:38 And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.
The breast of silver was the empire of the Medes and Persians which was dominated by the Medes with the advent of king Darius. The Medes and Persians took over the Babylonian empire (539 B.C.) but maintained the same Babylonian church state governance system intact. The people changed, and the system remained the same; therefore the different kingdoms were each still a part of the same Babylonian system like the different metals were still a past of the same statue.
In 539 B.C. there was a revolt in Southern Babylonia, and the Babylonian king, Nabonidus the son of Nebuchadnezzar, went south with his army to put down the rebellion; leaving his own son Belshazzar ]Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson] in charge of Babylon.
Taking advantage of this occupation of the Babylonian army with the southern rebellion at Uruk; the army of Cyrus invaded Babylon from the north.
In June the Babylonian army was completely defeated at Opis, and immediately afterwards Sippara opened its gates to the conqueror. Gobryas (Darius the Mede), the king of the Medes who were allied to the Persians, was then sent to Babylon, which surrendered “without fighting,” and the daily services in the temples continued without a break.
539-538 BC- Babylon was conquered by Cyrus’ general Gobryas identified with a certain Darius the Median, who defeated Nabonidus at Babylon.
Darius was king of the Medes while Cyrus was king of the Persians and head of the Persian Median alliance.
Some sixteen years later after the death of the Persian kings Cyrus in 530 B.C. and his son Cambyses in 522 B.C.; Darius the king of the Medes ascended the joint throne of the Medo Persian Empire in Babylon in 522 B.C.
Daniel 5:30 In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. 5:31 And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.
In October, Cyrus himself arrived, and proclaimed a general amnesty, which was communicated by Gobryas [Darius king of the Medes] to “all the province of Babylon,” of which he had been made governor by Cyrus.
Meanwhile, Nabonidus, who had concealed himself, was captured, but treated honourably; and when his wife died, Cambyses II, the son of Cyrus, conducted the funeral.
Cyrus the Great (576 – 530 BC king of Persia) now assumed the title of “king of Babylon,” (336 B.C.) claiming to be the descendant of the ancient kings, and made rich offerings to the temples.
At the same time he allowed the foreign populations who had been deported to Babylonia to return to their old homes, carrying with them the images of their gods. Among these populations were the Jews, who, as they had no images, took with them the sacred vessels of the temple.
Being deeply impressed by Daniel and his prophecy of the Persian victory and being shown the Word of God recorded by Isaiah over 150 years before, that he Cyrus was chosen by God, he decreed 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.
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.”
The Building of the Temple
The deportations from Babylon began with the children of certain nobles including a young Daniel, being taken to Babylon in the first deportation in 597 B.C.
The city Jerusalem and temple were demolished and the deportation of the middle and upper class to Babylon [leaving the farmers to till the land] took place in 586 B.C.
Ezra recorded the decree of Cyrus to build the temple and the history of building the temple, but Ezra did NOT go to Judea until many years later, long AFTER the temple was completed!
The Decree of Cyrus
Ezra records the decree of Cyrus to build the temple and the history of building the temple, but Ezra did NOT go to Judea until many years later, long AFTER the temple was completed! It was “the chief of the fathers [Elders and family leaders] of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites” who went to Judea at the decree of Cyrus some 80 years BEFORE Ezra!
Ezra 1:1 Now in the first year of Cyrus [536 B.C.] 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, and put it also in writing, saying,
1:2 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia,
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. 1:3 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. 1:4 And whosoever remaineth 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, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.
King Cyrus decreed that those who wanted to could go back and begin to build the temple in Jerusalem. Then many of the sincerely repentant in the captivity arose to return to Judea. In spite of their numbers they were only a very small portion of those in captivity, the vast majority remaining in Babylon.
Cyrus issued the decree to build the Jerusalem temple to the Jews, as a part of his accommodating all religions in his empire to gain the devotion of the people
This decree [by Cyrus] 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).
The altar had been built the first year and in the second year the foundation was laid; then because of strong opposition from the Samaritans and Ammonites as well as a lack of support they stopped work on the temple and concentrated on caring for their families.
The Samaritans and others had moved into Judea after the removal of most of the Jews and they now feared that they would lose the land they had taken for themselves; it was for this and for religious and other reasons that the Samaritans did not want the Jews returning to Judea.
Then Haggai and Zechariah began to prophesy and encouraged the people and they resumed work.
Cyrus and his son Cambyses had died and Darius king of the Medes had just ascended the combined Medo-Persian throne in 522 B.C. when the Samaritans and Ammonites wrote a letter of complaint to Darius and in 522 B.C. [during a period of other uprisings in the empire], Artaxerxes [Darius] ordered the work halted in 522 B.C., Ezra 5.
This is the context of Daniel’s fast in the first year of Darius as king of both the Medes and Persians (Dan 9:1) after he had ordered the construction halted.
Daniel being in his late seventies or early eighties but deeply concerned that the 70 years pronounced on Jerusalem and the temple was nearing completion and seeing that work on the temple had been suspended, fasted and prayed for the city after the stop work decree was issued in 522 B.C.
Daniel fasted and prayed that the temple and city would be built and the prophecy of Jeremiah would be fulfilled.
In response to Daniel’s fast God went his angel with the famous 70 Weeks Prophecy (Dan 9) about the building of the city Jerusalem and dating the appearance of Messiah for his physical earthly ministry.
Now consider the actual prophecy: 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” and Isaiah records that 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.”
Daniel recognizing that the 70 years pronounced on Jerusalem and specifically on the temple was nearing completion and seeing that construction on the temple had been suspended, fasted and prayed for the city in 522 B.C.
Daniel fasted and prayed [522 B.C.] that the city could be built and the prophecy of Jeremiah would be fulfilled.
Note: Ahasuerus was the surname of this family of the kings of the Medes. After Darius, subsequent kings of the line also carried the name Artaxerxes in honor of Xerxes 1 [The Great] the son of Darius, in addition to Ahasuerus. Hence the husband of Esther was surnamed Ahaseurus, whose reginal name was Artaxerxes Longimanus.
Daniel 9:1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus [Hystaspes Ahaseurus a helper of Cyrus and Cambyses, was the father of Darius.], 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 (522 B.C.) 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.
After this fast and prayer the notables in Babylon maneuvered king Darius into casting Daniel into the lion’s den against the king’s will.
After Daniel’s fast and deliverance from the lions, king Darius exalted the Eternal, the God of Daniel and the faithful Jews.
The decree of Darius concerning the Great God
Daniel 6:25 Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. 6:26 I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. 6:27 He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.
May all of God’s called out, be as faithful, as bold and courageous, as zealous as Daniel! Let us all stand wholeheartedly on every Word of God, without any compromise; forever!
God worked the whole situation out miraculously, because when Darius saw God deliver Daniel from the lions, he was disposed to quickly act when the Persian governor of Palestine Tatnai wrote a letter to him 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).
The decree of Darius I to build the Temple 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 to resume building the temple
The decree of Cyrus is found and Darius instructed the construction to resume in 520 B.C. he also ordered the surrounding peoples NOT to interfere with the king’s command and ordered those people to support the work by paying tribute for its furtherance.
Ezra 6:1 Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon. 6:2 And there was found at Achmetha, in the palace that is in the province of the Medes, a roll, and therein was a record thus written:
The 70 Weeks Prophecy of Daniel uses the decree to build the City Jerusalem as its starting point, This Decree of Cyrus was about building the temple only.
6:3 In the first year of Cyrus the king the same Cyrus the king made a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof threescore cubits; 6:4 With three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber: and let the expenses be given out of the king’s house:
6:5 And also let the golden and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which is at Jerusalem, and brought unto Babylon, be restored, and brought again unto the temple which is at Jerusalem, every one to his place, and place them in the house of God.
6:6 Now therefore, Tatnai, governor beyond the river, Shetharboznai, and your companions the Apharsachites, which are beyond the river, be ye far from thence:
6:7 Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in his place. 6:8 Moreover I make a decree what ye shall do to the elders of these Jews for the building of this house of God: that of the king’s goods, even of the tribute beyond the river, forthwith expenses be given unto these men, that they be not hindered.
Darius then commanded these people to supply animals for sacrifice on the altar.
6:9 And that which they have need of, both young bullocks, and rams, and lambs, for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the appointment of the priests which are at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail: 6:10 That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours unto the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons.
The king added the penalty of death for any disobedience.
6:11 Also I have made a decree, that whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this.
Then undoubtedly because of Daniel, Darius goes even further and cursed anyone who interferes with the temple construction with destruction. Spiritually, if we are faithful to internalize and keep the whole Word of God; things many seem difficult; but the Eternal goes before us!
6:12 And the God that hath caused his name to dwell there destroy all kings and people, that shall put to their hand to alter and to destroy this house of God which is at Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with speed.
Based on Ezra 4:24, this decree was issued in the second year of the reign of Darius in 520 B.C. With the new decree the temple was completed four years later in the sixth year of Darius (516 B.C.) on the third day of the twelfth month. fulfilling the Jeremiah 70 years prophecy; and in the following month they kept the Passover (Ezra 6:15, 19).
The deportations from Babylon began with the children of certain nobles including Daniel at about the age of 17, being taken to Babylon in 597 BCE in the first deportation.
The city Jerusalem and temple were demolished and the deportation of the middle and upper class to Babylon [leaving the farmers to till the land] too place in 586 BCE.
Most of these Jewish farmers later fled to Egypt where they died and the Samaritans took over in Judea.
The completion of the seventy years pronounced on Jerusalem through Jeremiah ended in 516 B.C. Seventy years after the city and temple were destroyed in 586 B.C. the temple was completed on schedule.
The Building of the Temple
- The people went up to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel to build the temple according to the decree of Cyrus in 536 B.C.
- Cyrus appointed Sheshbazzar [the Persian name for Zerubbabel] governor of the Jews in Jerusalem and Judea, Ezra 5:16.
- Zerubbabel and Joshua went with the people out of Babylon to Jerusalem under the governor and they build the Altar in time to sacrifice during the Feasts of the seventh month.
- Construction of the temple foundation began in the second year, Ezra 3.
- Little progress was made due to the opposition of the local people and lack of support
- Then Haggai and Zechariah began to prophesy and encourage the people and construction resumed
- Then construction was halted by Artaxerxes [Darius] in 522 B.C. due to complaints from the Samaritans [today’s Palestinians], Ezra 5.
- In 522 B.C Daniel fasted and prayed for the building to go forward.
- Daniel was delivered from the lions den.
- The Persian governor of Palestine, Tatnai, wrote to Darius in 520 B.C. explaining that Cyrus had ordered the construction of the temple.
- After seeing God’s deliverance of Daniel from the lions (Dan 6) Darius quickly found the decree of Cyrus and ordered the construction to resume in 520 B.C.
- The temple was completed in 516 B.C. fulfilling the Jeremiah 70 years prophecy precisely, Ezra 6.
God the great King will intervene to help his people who are building themselves into a fit Spiritual Temple for God and his Spirit, by internalizing the whole Word of God!