A Study of Daniel 9:24-27 - Part II

Charles H. Ray, Th.D.

This article is the second of a four part series on Daniel 9:24-27. The previous article examined the first part of verse 24 and focused on a proper exegesis of “seventy sevens,” “to finish the transgression,” “to make an end of sin,” and “to make atonement for iniquity.” The present article begins with an analysis of “to bring in everlasting righteousness,” the fourth of six phrases outlining the details of what God has decreed (v. 24). The Introduction is repeated here as a review. It should be noted as well that a bibliography will appear at the end of Part IV.

Introduction

Regardless of one’s theological persuasion, Daniel 9:24-27 is one of the most difficult passages to interpret. Challenges arise both in the area of linguistics and in theology, specifically eschatology. Some of the verbs are somewhat obscure, the chronological framework is not particularly easy to establish, and a dash of symbolism is thrown in the mix for good measure. The effort to unravel these four verses is worth it, however. Eschatological details are packed in them like sardines. A proper understanding of this highly scrutinized pericope will make end-time events less confusing.

The 490 years described here are broken down into three stages: (1) 7 “weeks” = 49 years, (2) 62 “weeks” = 434 years, and (3) one “week” = 7 years. An overview of the passage also reveals that v. 24 summarizes all four verses, v. 25 concerns the 69 “sevens,” v. 26 notes the death of the Messiah and the destruction of Jerusalem, and v. 27 describes the 70th “seven.”[1]

In addition to being an amazing revelation, this portion of Holy Writ is one of the most wonderful answers to prayer in Scripture. Daniel had read in Jeremiah that the Jews’ captivity would last only 70 years, so “…it would be only natural for Daniel to inquire of God as to which of the three deportations marked the beginning of the seventy years of exile”[2] (605, 597, or 586 B.C.). Daniel asks the Lord about ending the exile, but His response looks to the future instead.[3] That is not to say the answer had nothing to do with his petitions. For example, the first triad of phrases (v. 24) addresses the wording of Daniel 9:5, and the last three his request of 9:7.[4]

The verses will be discussed one by one yet their teachings will be brought together in the conclusion in Part IV.

Daniel 9:24

#4: ‘to bring in everlasting righteousness’

At the cross, iniquity was ended in principle, yet only at the second coming will “everlasting righteousness” (the fourth expression) be made possible.[5] Israel as a whole will finally have a right and permanent relationship with their Messiah. <Ym!l*u) denotes “long duration, futurity,” and because it is a plural intensive noun, it connotes “everlasting.”[6] The kingdom will be characterized by justice forever (Isa. 60:21; Jer. 23:5, 6).[7] Justice will always be perfectly executed, and people will be made righteous perpetually (Isa. 51:6-8).[8]

“To bring in” (aYb!h*) is a Hiphil infinitive construct, resulting in “to cause to come in.”[9] People cannot make themselves righteous or establish the kingdom; that is God’s doing. Indeed, Daniel had earlier prayed, “Righteousness belongs to Thee, O Lord..” (9:7).[10] “The essential idea in the language is, that this would be introduced by the Messiah [from v. 25]; that is, that he would be its author.”[11]

#5: ‘to seal up vision and prophecy’

The next accomplishment will be “to seal up vision and prophecy.” As noted in the previous article (pp. 181, 182), the root is <Tj# (Qal infinitive construct, “to seal, seal up”), not <m^T*. In the ancient world, a seal, usually of wax, kept a scroll closed, and signified ownership, authenticity, and security. Much like a letter today, it was unlawful for anyone to open it (break the seal) except the person to whom it was addressed. However, the nuances of this term cannot be captured in a simple sentence for it is a multifaceted gem.

The implications of this phrase may include all of the following: (1) God will put His seal of authentication on all true revelations, (2) These forms of revelation will cease, (3) Prophecies will be fulfilled, and (4) Nothing else is to be added to His plans and revelations (as implied by the seal).[12] When Christ comes back, there will be no more need for visions and prophecies. Feinberg elaborates, “the thought was to seal up the prophecy and make a permanent record of it, so that when it is fulfilled the event can be compared to the prophecy to show how completely the one corresponds to the other.”[13] As a side note, since this sealing up won’t come to pass until the kingdom is established, Daniel 9:24-27 by necessity involves both advents.[14] Wood remarks,

The premillennial view…sees the relation between the response of God to Daniel’s prayer as follows: that, whereas Daniel had been concerned regarding an early return of the Jews from their captivity to Babylon, God was interested in, first, their deliverance from a far more serious bondage to sin (which had caused their Babylonian captivity) through Christ’s work at His first coming and, second, their final release from earthly oppression through the power of Christ at His second coming.[15]

The Hebrew word for “vision” comes from the root hz*j* and has a range of meanings including “look,” “see” (both literal and metaphysical), and even “prophesy” (Isa. 30:10 is an example).[16] It is clear, then, that this is a revelatory term. Sometimes it is translated as “burden” or “oracle” (Nahum 1:1, NASB, NIV). These would not be just Daniel’s visions, but all visions the Lord has granted.[17]

The usual word for “prophecy” (haWbn=, found only three times in the OT) is not used here, but the term used comes from the same root (aYb!n*), and it actually means “prophet.” Again, the suggestion is that no more revelation is needed once Christ comes back. Young points out “vision” and “prophet” are OT terms and therefore they were “sealed” at Jesus’ first advent, a doctrine of preterism. That proposition cannot be correct, for visions and prophecies were presented in the NT and because many prophecies are yet to be fulfilled.[18] For instance, very little in the book of Revelation has yet to come about.

#6: ‘to anoint the most holy’

The last achievement is the anointing of “the most holy” (<Yv!d*q* vd#q, a singular noun followed by its plural, literally “holy of holies”). The word “anoint” (j^v)m=, Qal infinitive construct, from which we get the word “Messiah”) is defined as “to smear,”[19] especially in the sense of pouring oil on a king or priest for consecration. This term can be used for any ceremony that sets aside a person or a place for sacred use, regardless of whether or not oil is utilized.[20]

Is “a most holy” (there is no definite article in the Hebrew) a thing or a person? Some teach this statement alludes to Jesus being anointed as King of kings and Lord of lords (most amillennarians hold this view; the Vulgate also understands it to be a person), or to the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21. Preterists claim this prediction was fulfilled at Jesus’ baptism, whereas another theory states the Temple was sanctified when Jesus entered it.[21] However, nowhere in Holy Writ is <Yv!d*q* vd#q (“a most holy”) applied to the Church or to a person.[22] “Holy” can also be found in v. 26, where most translations render it “sanctuary” (so NASB, NIV).[23]

Each of the 39 occurrences of <Yv!d*q* vd#q pertains to the Tabernacle, Temple (specifically the Holy of Holies), or the things in the Temple. Those things include the altar (Exod. 29:37), holy incense (Exod. 30:36), the showbread (Lev. 24:9), and even a sin offering (Lev. 6:18).[24] A reasonable deduction from that fact is “a most holy” is the Temple. The allusion is not likely to be the Holy of Holies proper because that term almost always has the article with it.[25] The question then becomes, which Temple?

If the seventy “sevens” concluded before Christ (as some liberals espouse), then the anointing was the dedication of Zerubbabel’s Temple, or its rededication after Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated it (I Macc. 4:52-56).[26] However, tradition refutes those claims. First, the proper oil could not be found at the time of Zerubbabel, and second, there is no proof Solomon’s Temple was literally anointed either.[27] (In Exod. 33 the things inside the Tabernacle had anointing oil poured on them.[28])

Since the passage encompasses both advents, the Temple in question must be the one minutely described in Ezekiel 40-48. In what sense will it be anointed? Probably by the presence of the Messiah (Hag. 2:7-9). In the OT, only God’s Shekinah Glory is said to fill the Temple.[29] The Messiah’s presence gives the Temple “a sacredness to that edifice which nothing else did give or could give, and, therefore, as meeting all the proper force of the language used here.”[30] A point to ponder is, just as Acts 2 was a “preview” of the events of Joel 2, perhaps these other major Temple ceremonies (involving Zerubbabel’s Temple) were just a sampling of what is yet to take place. Namely, the consecration of the Millennial Temple at the beginning of the 1000-year reign of Christ.

Two final observations about verse 24 are in order. First, Jesus’ sacrifice made these six tasks possible but the benefits will not be applied until He returns and Israel repents. Second, when these six items are evident, all doubters will have to acknowledge that Yahweh never did forget Israel, for all of His covenant promises (Gen. 15; II Sam. 7; Jer. 31:31-34, etc.) will be “sealed up” in the kingdom.[31]

Daniel 9:25

The NASB renders v. 25a, “So you are to know and discern…” (“Know and understand this:”…NIV). The words are a follow-up to verse 23 (“so give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision”).[32] These verbs are not imperatives, but if Daniel pays close attention to Gabriel’s message, then he will be able to grasp its meaning.[33] Hengstenberg and Theodotion translate it using a future tense (“will know…”). God’s messenger came with the express purpose of giving Daniel “insight with understanding” (v. 22). The prophet most likely did not understand all of it, but he grasped enough to receive comfort and reassurance.[34]

The meaning of ‘know’ and ‘discern’

The word for “know” is ud^t@ (Qal imperfect, 2ms) and can mean “know,” “perceive,” or “see.”[35] “Discern” is a translation of lK@c=t^ (Hiphil imperfect, 2ms) and can be rendered “consider,” “ponder,” “understand,” or “be prudent.”[36] “While B]n [a synonym for lK@c=t^] indicates ‘distinguishing between,’ s`K^l relates to an intelligent knowledge of the reason. There is the process of thinking through a complex arrangement of thoughts resulting in a wise dealing and use of good practical common sense.”[37]

Although they are imperfects, they function like jussives, connoting a sense of urgent obligation.[38] Gill paraphrases the verse as, “Take notice and observe, for the clearer understanding of these seventy weeks, and the events to be fulfilled in them…”[39] Since lK@c=t^ is in the Hiphil, Gabriel may be saying Daniel will be caused to know these matters, or at least he will be “forced” to ponder them. Lastly, it could just be “know” and “discern” are synonyms;[40] NIDOTTE puts them in the same semantic field.[41]

Which decree is in view?

One item Daniel is to know is the terminus a quo (beginning point) of the seventy “sevens.” It is the opinion of many that the key to comprehending this entire passage is to determine which decree (rb*d*, “thing, matter, word,” or even “commandment”) is alluded to here. (The usual word for “commandment,” though, is hw*x=m^).[42] The text declares the 69 “weeks” (483 years) will encompass the time from the giving of this edict until the Messiah appears. Some critics argue there is no indication the subject has changed[43] and that since the rb*d of v. 23 (“command,” NASB; “answer,” NIV) was sent by God, this one is, too. That line of reasoning does not harmonize with the natural sense of the pericope, and “[s]ince the issuance of this directive would mark the definite starting point of the seventy weeks, it follows that it should be an edict known generally, thus one set forth by an earthly monarch such as the Persian king.”[44] Too, hw*x=m^ is far more commonly used for one of Jehovah’s edicts than rb*d* is.[45]

Even though rb*d* is found in both verses, the tone of v. 23 makes it apparent the message is from the Lord, yet v. 25 is not that obvious as to the source. Indeed, Paul uses the same word (“head”) in two consecutive verses in 1 Corinthians 11:3,4 yet with different meanings. Lastly, this interpretation is far too subjective; it would be nearly impossible to know exactly when God gave the decree.

Daniel’s 70 ‘weeks’ are not Jeremiah’s 70 years

A modified version proposes Gabriel was really talking about Jeremiah’s seventy years of captivity, but that confuses two entirely different prophecies. Jeremiah said nothing about rebuilding Jerusalem, and he made this prediction about 605 B.C.,[46] way too early to be the terminus a quo.

To suggest there is here an extension of the exile is ridiculous. Porteous, for example, intimates the seventy years had passed and Daniel was asking the Lord to end the exile. Instead of doing so, Yahweh declares the Jews must remain in exile another 490 years. This interpretation is borderline blasphemy, for God cannot go back on His word (Jer. 25:11, 12). Besides, it is an historical fact that Cyrus permitted the Jews to return to Jerusalem.[47]

The four possible Persian decrees

There were four major decrees concerning the Jews issued by Persian rulers that can be considered possibilities with reference to this verse. Wood contends all four could qualify because each deals with the re-establishment of Jerusalem.[48]

The first was in 538 B.C. by Cyrus (II Chron. 36:22, 23; Ezra 1:1-4, 5:13). The second was by Darius I (Darius Hystaspes) in 512 B.C. (Ezra 6:1, 6-12), yet it was mostly a confirmation of the first one. This “decree grows out of the question of Tattenai, governor of Judah, regarding the right of the returned exiles to rebuild the Temple (Ezra 5:3-17). In response to this request, Darius made a search for Cyrus’s decree, and then issued one of his own (Ezra 6:1-12).”[49] These two decrees gave permission to rebuild the Temple, but said nothing about restoring Jerusalem.

Artaxerxes Longimanus sent forth the third edict in 457 B.C. “Temple worship was established and civil leaders were appointed (Ezra 7:11-26),”[50] but again it said nothing about the city.[51] Wood’s reply is that Ezra built up Jerusalem morally and spiritually.[52] If the verse is not speaking of a physical rebuilding, then what does “with plaza and moat” (v. 25) mean?[53]

According to Sir Robert Anderson, whose calculations are still highly regarded, the fourth decree was issued on 14th March, 445 B.C., also by Artaxerxes Longimanus. Building on Anderson's work, Harold Hoehner assigns March 5, 445 B.C. as the date of the decree. (Scholars are willing to fudge a year or two on all these dates, ergo some assert the third edict came out in 458 B.C., and this one in 445 B.C.)

This document was given to Nehemiah (Neh. 2:1-8) and it specifically designated Jerusalem’s walls -- that they were to be reconstructed. A possible stumbling block to this theory is the “seven weeks” of v. 25. A number of scholars understand this expression to mean 49 years would be required to put the walls back up. True, it took just 52 days for Nehemiah and the people to finish the walls, but many years (in the days of no construction equipment) were required to clean up the city after decades of desolation. It would have been very difficult to construct the streets and moat (not to mention houses) if debris were in the way.[54]

More arguments against the 445 B.C. date given and refuted

Those facts would seem to clear things up, but that is not the case with some scholars. Young, Leupold, Keil, and Calvin back the idea that the 490 years begin with the decree of 538 B.C. One obstacle to that suggestion is Jerusalem was not rebuilt until long after Cyrus died.[55] In addition, if the 69 “weeks” are added to 538 B.C., then they would terminate in 55 B.C., a year in which no crucial event took place.[56] Archer, Payne, Wood, and Miller are of the opinion the starting point was 458 B.C. (despite Wood’s admission that the 445 B.C. decree comes closest to the idea of rebuilding the city).[57] Miller comments about the 445 B.C. issuance,

A second decree of Artaxerxes I issued to Nehemiah (445 BC) is a popular view (e.g., Walvoord, Whitcomb, Sir Robert Anderson, Hoehner). Actually, this does not seem to have been a formal decree but involved permission for Nehemiah to visit Palestine (Neh. 2:5-8). Nevertheless, Artaxerxes’ words to Nehemiah probably meet the criteria of the dabar, which may mean “decree, message, or word.” This decree to Nehemiah specifically mentions the rebuilding of Jerusalem (Neh. 2:5), which is the strongest argument in favor of it.[58]

Miller makes the same mistake all the others of this persuasion make. They defend their position by assuming that the rebuilding of the city is implied in the previous decrees. That is a rather unstable foundation on which to erect one’s theology.

Does Ezra suggest the walls were already being built?

Two passages in Ezra (4:12-23 and 9:9) are thrown into relief to shore up the viewpoint of Miller, et al. Those verses apparently prove some building on the city walls took place about 457 B.C., and thus before Nehemiah came on the scene, but further study shows that this conclusion is not necessary.

First, the 4:12-23 passage is a letter written by Ezra’s enemies back to King Artaxerxes to inform him he must take action because the Jews were fortifying Jerusalem. However, one cannot look to the words of one’s foes to prove a point; they may have been lying (4:19 suggests they were telling the truth) just to get the king to do something about the rebuilding of the Temple. If they were telling the truth, and (thus) Artaxerxes already knew they were constructing walls (because that is implied in the other decrees), then the letter wouldn’t provoke him at all. He would think everything was moving along as expected.

His reply to the letter offers no substantial clue toward solving this puzzle of whether or not the walls were being fortified (Ezra 4:17-24). Ezra reports (v. 24) work on the “house of God’ has ceased but no mention of the city/walls. Artaxerxes does command the city to not be rebuilt until he issues a decree to do so (v. 21), which does not prove the case either way. It seems best, however, to understand the situation thus: the Jews were constructing walls but they were not supposed to, and so Artaxerxes was alarmed. A Persian monarch is unlikely to permit a people to return home and build their city walls, for that would amount to a military threat. On the other hand, just erecting a Temple is of no concern. Lastly, if Ezra already had the materials, or at least had permission to gather them, then why would Nehemiah have to ask for permission to do so (Neh. 2:8)?

 The other verse is 9:9. It talks about the many things God has provided the exiles, including “a wall in Judah and Jerusalem.” A number of commentators (Yamauchi, Williamson, Ackroyd, Bright) believe this turn of a phrase is metaphorical or figurative. Now that the Temple is rebuilt (at least mostly), His presence and glory may return, giving protection to His children. In observing the context, Ezra is in prayer confessing the iniquities of the people, thanking Him for bringing them back from captivity, and for allowing them “to raise up the house of our God.” This and the previous verse (v. 8) are speaking of the Temple, not the city.[59]

Williamson further remarks Ezra may view the king of Persia (under God’s supervision) as this “wall” of protection.[60] If Ezra were speaking about a literal barricade around the city, it would be unusual to describe it as “a wall of Judah…”

It is noteworthy that the word for wall here (rdn) is not the usual one (hmwj). rdn normally refers to a low wall or fence, such as around a vineyard, sheepfold (Num. 32:16), or along a road (Num. 22:24). It is possible, but not probable, its occurrence in Micah 7:11 means “city wall.”[61] rdn is the better term for this context anyway because Israel is often pictured as Jehovah’s vineyard (Ps. 80:8-14; Isa. 5:1-5).[62] Finally, when Nehemiah saw the walls twelve years later they were in ruins.[63] On the other hand, Nehemiah must have expected Ezra to start erecting walls, otherwise he would not have been so disappointed when he heard the report from Hanani (Neh. 1).[64]

Again, as noted above, it is likely the Jews did begin to reconstruct the walls but actually did not have permission to do so. Therefore, the edict of v. 25 has to be the one to Nehemiah since it alone specifies the walls.

Two verses in Ezra 7 also seem to suggest the walls were constructed early in the scribe’s tenure. He was given permission to do whatever he wanted with the leftover silver and gold (Ezra 7:18). He was to appoint civil authorities too (7:25), who naturally would desire to construct defense walls. But that is mere speculation. No passage directly declares those treasures were used for such a purpose, and the appointed authorities served as judges.[65]

What about Isa. 44:28 and 45:1 - 4, 13?

Isa. 44:28 and 45:1-4, 13 are two other passages critics (especially amillennarians) emphasize to confirm that Cyrus did order the walls’ reconstruction.[66] Isa. 45:13 has the Lord declaring that Cyrus “will build My city.” This idea is beset with the same problems as the “Ezra passages” theory is. There is no evidence the walls were restored until Nehemiah’s efforts. The Isaiah passages simply announce this king will open the door for Persian favoritism toward the Jews, who will later on raise the city walls. Again, granting permission in 538 B.C. would eventually evolve into a military menace for Cyrus.

Other passages

Haggai 1:2-4 is a third piece of evidence that allegedly attests to this speculation. The people were chided for living in nice homes while the Temple still looked bad. However, Nehemiah 11:1 affirms most of the Jews lived outside the city.[67] The passages that speak to Cyrus’ edict (II Chron. 36:22,23 and Ezra 1:1-4) mention only the Temple, not the city[68] (as noted above). Finally, the outcomes of the other three suggested decrees do not meet the requirements demanded by the phrases “restore and rebuild” and “with plaza and moat,” that is, a complete restoration. Only after Nehemiah’s ministry did Jerusalem start to resemble its former splendor.[69]

Did Daniel use 365-day or 360-day years?

Miller lists some obstacles to the 444 B.C. theory, pointing to Sir Robert Anderson’s computations in particular. His numbers place Jesus’ death in A.D. 32, a date that Miller says contradicts the A.D. 30 date held by most scholars.[70] Miller is too picky. Our knowledge of Persia and of Jesus’ ministry is insufficient to accurately discern a date any closer than one or two years.

To Miller, Anderson’s biggest error was assuming a 360-day year for the Jews. Archer has convinced Miller they went by a 365-day year. (For ease of designation, a 360-day year will be called a lunar year, and a 365-day year will be labeled a solar year.) Miller admits some solar (also called “prophetic”) years in Daniel and Revelation were rounded to 360 days, but by and large that was not the system used.[71] More details are needed to resolve this issue.

Archer’s main point is this: Most, if not all, of Israel’s ancient neighbors were familiar with the lunar year but they never used it exclusively. Those civilizations would sometimes appropriate the solar year, and most would make adjustments to correct one or both of their calendars (such as a “leap year” in modern times).[72] Archer seems to primarily rely on a book called Chronology of Ancient Western Asia and Egypt by Van Der Meer, whereas Hoehner finds support in the Encyclopedia Britannica and in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies (especially XIII, 5).[73]

Hoehner and Archer agree lunar years were known in the ancient East, and that a “prophetic” year in Scripture often consists of 360 days. But Hoehner asserts the lunar year is found outside of prophetic literature. The time measurements encountered in Genesis chapters 7 and 8 are the result of a lunar calendar. Genesis 7:11 states the flood began on the seventeenth day of the second month, and it ended on the seventeenth day of the seventh month (8:4), exactly five months. Both 7:24 and 8:3 declare the waters were upon the earth 150 days. Assuming each month is the same length, they would have 30 days apiece.[74] Skeptics say that is a big assumption because the story does not cover an entire year, and thus doesn’t take into account any days the ancients may have added on to their year.[75] Nevertheless, that the years in Daniel are lunar is not out of the ordinary.

More historical considerations

Archer, Payne, and Wood all teach the terminus a quo is 458/457 B.C. R. J. M. Gurney concurs but is also of the opinion all 70 “weeks” were fulfilled by A.D. 33. Payne agrees, adding A.D. 33 was the year Paul converted.[76] Daniel 9:27 makes it clear a man will make a “firm covenant” with the Jews, yet Gurney and Payne do not account for that event.

Miller confesses that a hurdle in the 458 B.C. proposition is that the edict does not address the restoring of Jerusalem. He tries to circumvent this problem by declaring that since Nehemiah’s and Ezra’s decrees were by the same king just thirteen years apart, the second is merely an extension of the first[77] (much like Cyrus’ and Darius I’s; see above). Thus, the fourth decree is not a major one.[78] This reasoning is not sound, for Artaxerxes would have asked Nehemiah why he needed permission to construct the walls if Ezra were already doing it.

Miller crowns this theory by espousing these details: 49 years after 458 B.C. would be 409, and that is about the time Ezra and Nehemiah terminated their ministry. “In the Elephantine Papyri another man is stated to be governor of Judah in 407 B.C., indicating that Nehemiah had passed from the scene at that time.”[79]

Wood’s variation on this matter is the significant event of 409 must have to do with the city since the next phrase discusses the plaza and moat.[80] He also cites an “outstanding” 18th century historian named Prideaux who claims Nehemiah’s work continued until the fifteenth year of Darius Nothus (423-404 B.C.) which would be about 409 B.C.[81] “The significance of the forty-nine-year grouping may have been, then, a setting off of the period of Ezra and Nehemiah and their efforts toward the reestablishment of the Judean capital.”[82] Sixty-two “weeks” after that brings one to A.D. 26, the “accepted”[83] date of Jesus’ baptism and anointing (cf. Acts 10:38).[84]

The double interval view

A resolution proposed by Allan MacRae is a combination of some of these theories, and in that sense is unique.[85] He perceives two intervals, not just one, in this passage, and thus his suggestion is commonly referred to as the double interval view. The decree in question is actually God’s command to rebuild Jerusalem given in 587 B.C. (Jer. 32:44). At the end of the first stage (49 years) the one anointed is Cyrus. This fulfillment of prophecy would boost Daniel’s confidence in the trustworthiness of Gabriel’s message. MacRae does toy with the idea of placing the terminus a quo in 538 B.C. (Cyrus’ edict) because, for two vital reasons, he sees it as having much biblical significance. First, he claims it is the only decree of which we have historical evidence. Second, the Lord found it crucial enough to twice speak of it in Holy Writ (Ezra 1 and 6).

About a century later (437 B.C.), the second (62-week) stage would begin with no particular event to mark it. During this period Jerusalem is rebuilt, and at the end of it the Messiah is cut off. Another interval of several centuries would commence and it would last until the appearance of the antichrist.

MacRae offers further reasons for his position. Since prophecies are general anyway, his theory is as literal as it needs to be. This proposal also has the advantage of being in harmony with the Masoretic pointing, which creates the need for two anointed rulers. Dozens of times j^Yv!m* (messiah) does not refer to the Christ, and thus Cyrus could fill the bill here.

Despite these factors, the suggestion must be thrown out. It is most unusual for a terminus ad quo of a prophecy to be placed chronologically before the prediction is given. Too, prophecies are not general. In almost every case they are quite specific. To assert two intervals are intended is not easily defendable. An era for the Church Age can be demonstrated, but no solid reasons exist for inserting another one.

In summary, holding to a 444/445 B.C. terminus a quo for the seventy “sevens” is confirmed by the following considerations. (1) The most severe “times of distress” took place during Nehemiah’s day. (2) No decrees were later issued by Persian monarchs concerning the rebuilding of the Israelite city.[86] (3) It is not probable the parties involved in the first three decrees would assume rebuilding Jerusalem was part of the deal. (4) This interpretation comes closest to the literal method since it alone specifies the restoration of Jerusalem as delineated in v. 25. (5) All three stages are readily harmonized with known historical incidents.

(6) The 4th decree best explains Luke 19:42. As He enters Jerusalem for the last week of His earthly ministry, Jesus says, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace!”[87] (7) Therefore, a final factor favoring this position is that the math works out to the day. The Messiah is “cut off” after the 483 lunar years, which is 173,880 days. From March 5, 444 B.C. to March 30, A.D. 33 on the Gregorian/Julian calendar is likewise 173,880 days.

This student is bothered, however, by one as yet unmentioned snag. Most would agree Jesus was born about 5 B.C., and He was baptized at age 30 (Luke 3:23), which would be about A.D. 25. If His ministry lasted about three and one-half years, then He would have been crucified about A.D. 28/29. How can a date of A.D. 32/33 be reached? Nevertheless, the decree of 444/445 B.C. is the suggestion with the fewest difficulties.

Continue to Part 3.



     [1]   John Walvoord, Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation, p. 216.

     [2]  John S. and Paul D. Feinberg, Tradition & Testament, p. 191.

     [3]  Leon Wood, A Commentary on Daniel, p. 243.

     [4]  Pre-Trib Perspectives, Feb 2001, p. 6.

     [5]  Wood, p. 250.

     [6]  BDB, pp. 761, 762.

     [7]  J. Dwight Pentecost, “Daniel” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, p.
          1361.

     [8]  Albert Barnes, Notes on the Old Testament, p. 144.

     [9]  Wood, p. 249.

     [10]  Pre-Trib Perspectives, March 2001, p. 6.

     [11]  Barnes, p. 144 (emphasis in original).

     [12]  Walvoord, p. 222.

     [13]  Charles Feinberg, A Commentary on Daniel, p. 128.

     [14]  Stephen R. Miller, Daniel (NAC), p. 261.

     [15]  Wood, p. 244.

     [16]  Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (abbrv. TWOT), pp. 630,
           634.

     [17]  Barnes, p. 145.

 

     [18]  Cited by Wood, p. 250.

     [19]  BDB, p. 602.

     [20]  Barnes, p. 146.

     [21]  Ibid.

     [22]  Ibid, p. 147.

     [23]  Miller, p. 262.

     [24] Wood, p.250; Gleason Archer, “Daniel” in The Expositor’s Bible
           Commentary
, p. 119.

     [25]  Wood, p. 250.

     [26]  Walvoord, p. 223.

     [27]  Barnes, p. 147.

     [28]  Ibid.

     [29] F. Duane Lindsey, “Haggai” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, p.
          1542.

     [30]  Barnes, p. 148.

     [31]  Pentecost, p. 1362.

     [32]  John Goldingay, Daniel (WBC), p. 260.

     [33]  Barnes, p. 148.

     [34]  Walvoord, pp. 223, 224.

     [35]  BDB, p. 393.

     [36]  Ibid., p. 968

     [37]  TWOT, p. 877.

     [38]  Wood, p. 251.

     [39]  John Gill, Commentary on Daniel, p. 206.

     [40]  Miller, p. 262.

     [41] Willem VanGemeren, New International Dictionary of Old Testament
          Theology & Exegesis
(NIDOTTE), 2:414.

     [42]  Tradition & Testament, p. 191.

     [43]  Walvoord, p. 224.

     [44]  Wood, p. 251.

     [45]  Tradition & Testament, p. 191.

     [46]  Walvoord, p. 224.

     [47]  Tradition & Testament, p. 190.

     [48]  Wood, p. 252.

     [49]  Tradition & Testament, p. 193.

     [50]  Ibid.

     [51]  Pentecost, pp. 1362, 1363.

     [52]  Wood, p. 254.

     [53]  Goldingay, p. 261.

     [54]  Pentecost, p. 1363.

     [55]  Miller, p. 262.

     [56]  Walvoord, p. 227.

     [57]  Wood, p. 253.

     [58]  Miller, p. 263.

     [59]  H. G. M. Williamson, Ezra, Nehemiah (WBC), pp. 136, 137.

     [60]  Ibid.

     [61]  Ibid.

     [62]  Ibid.

     [63]  Walvoord, p. 225.

     [64]  Archer, p. 114.

     [65]  Ibid, p. 125.

     [66]  Walvoord, p. 225.

     [67]  Ibid, p. 226 (emphasis mine).

     [68]  Ibid.

     [69]  Harold Hoehner, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ, p. 123.

     [70]  Miller, p. 265; Wood, p. 253.

     [71]  Ibid.

     [72]  Archer, pp. 114, 115 where more information is given.

     [73]  Hoehner, p. 135.

     [74]  Ibid., pp. 136, 137.

     [75]  Tradition & Testament, p. 215.

     [76]  Miller, p. 266.

     [77]  Ibid.

     [78]  Tradition & Testament, p. 195.

     [79]  Miller, p. 266.

     [80]  Wood, p. 254.

     [81]  Ibid.

     [82]  Ibid.

     [83]  Ibid., p. 253.

     [84] Pentecost contends (pp. 1362, 1363) the anointing of v. 25 applies to Christ
          only when He returns as King.

     [85]  This information is taken from Tradition & Testament, pp. 210, 211.

     [86]  Hoehner, p. 126.

     [87]  Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, 4:338.